Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

Pumpkin Spice Pokemon: Expanding on Standard

Daniel takes a closer look at two of his favorite Standard decks...

10/21/2015 by Daniel Altavilla

Daniel takes a closer look at two of his favorite Standard decks, Night March and Mega Manectric, and takes a quick look at Zander Bennett's Rayquaza list from Fall Regionals.


Hey, 60cards readers! I left you all off with a couple ideas for both of our current formats. Now that the Standard format has had a chance to grow and shape itself, we can now take those ideas and make them even better!

The two decks I've chosen to talk about are Night March and Manectric-EX, mostly because these are considerably stronger in Standard than most of what has been around thus far.  I'm going to share three deck lists with you all that I feel can be good enough to take control of the Standard format as it stands right now. Let's start with Night March.

Night March

Night March has almost the same strategy as Vespiquen—getting enough Pokémon in your discard to start OHKO'ing your opponent's Pokémon. The difference is that Night March has fewer Pokémon overall and more Item-based draw, so it's naturally more consistent. The tradeoff is that you have a tougher time against Seismitoad-EX (even though at Worlds this year, Night March still won a considerable number of games against good old Toad).

The deck can easily reach OHKO numbers on Pokémon-EX by first turn, and it has the ability to OHKO M Manectric-EX and other high-HP Megas without burning every resource. The list I run and will be sharing was given to me by my good friend Rahul Reddy. It's the best list I've played in Standard and although it's unorthodox, it's still a powerhouse. Let's check it out:


As you can see, this list is designed to be very streamlined and often hits a first-turn 180-damage Night March. Even if you exhaust your resources doing so, you can fall back on Bunnelby to shuffle them into your deck again! And with Hawlucha, you can discard 11 Night Marchers to hit up to 240 with a Muscle Band and have a free-Retreating Basic to send Active after your twelfth Night Marcher is Knocked Out so you can Revive one back and then immediately send it Active.

The most appealing part of this list is the Latios-EX. Vespiquen is a largely hyped deck right now, so being able to donk almost every starter in the deck means you can avoid having to play a game of "who runs out of Double Colorless Energy first?". An interesting strategy with Latios-EX is using Battle Compressor paired with Revive to act as a pseudo-Ultra Ball in a situation where you can't afford to discard those two cards or you're about to use Professor Sycamore but you need to make use of the cards in your hand. Most of my games against Vespiquen, Raichu, or Mienshao has ended on turn one with my trusty Latios-EX! Why play through a thirty-minute game when you can make it easy for yourself?

Another interesting thing is the two Shaymin-EX. Why not three or four? It seems that players, when given the chance, will be greedy and try to get nine Night Marchers in the discard pile by turn one. In doing so, they'll have Benched two or more Shaymin-EX, allowing their opponent the chance to Lysandre them for easy Prizes. With two Shaymin-EX, you force your opponent to deal with more of your Night Marchers. 

This list has been perfectly crafted by Rahul to allow plays that Night March has rarely seen, and it takes into account what was most helpful in Night March before the rotation and what to replace the rotated cards with. For example, Bunnelby and Latios-EX take the place of Mew-EX and they work very well. Hawlucha replaces Float Stone as the key to using Revive and guaranteeing a return-KO. Teammates replaces Computer Search to an extent and allows you to fish for the cards you need for a return-KO turn after turn. Night March will continue to live on, like the mosquito bite you keep scratching, and it's not going anywhere for a while. 

Some good matchups for Night March include:

- M Manectric-EX Variants

- Slower Giratina Variants (Giratina/Fairies)

- Vespiquen

Even/Poor matchups for this deck include: 

- Mienshao

- M Tyranitar-EX/Crobat

- Aegislash-EX

Mega Manectric

Night March may be a solid play for Standard, but I'm still on the M Manectric-EX gravy train and I have two newer variants for you all to try out.

First, we have the variant that has a fighting chance against Fighting-Based decks.


This variant is sort of weird because it's almost the deck I posted in my last article, but with a considerable amount of changes. First off, you can see that the Pokémon line has changed drastically and that there are no Acro Bikes in the list. Next, we have Head Ringers and a different Supporter line. To explain everything in a little more detail, let's go one by one.

1 Kyurem-EX

Kyurem is mainly for Night March and Mienshao. Kyurem deals 30 damage to every Pokémon your opponent has in play, meaning an OHKO on as many Joltik as are in play and the power to shut off Focus Sash against Mienshao. One thing about Mienshao is that after they start attacking, they have a tough time using Supporters besides Korrina or Teammates, meaning they also have a tough time getting out multiple Mienshao. This means you can 2HKO any Mienfoo stuck in play for two turns, as well as KO any Robo Substitutes and 3HKO Hawlucha/Eeveelutions to get some non-Mienshao Prizes. Kyurem-EX is bound to be in play for a few turns anyways, with Rough Seas and Mienshao's low damage output.

2 Lugia-EX 

Lugia is a hyped card in Manectric right now. Not because of Aero Ball, because Mewtwo didn't see play in Manectric last year, but because of it's Resistance to Fighting. This essentially covers Manectric's weak spots. Another nice part of Lugia is the ability to get some quick damage in the early game, which Manectric itself lacks. Lugia can be an incredible card, especially if you can get a couple Turbo Bolts onto it.

1 Hoopa-EX 

Scoundrel Ring is better in this variant than in my last one because you have a variety of new Pokémon-EX with low counts that you may want to pull out of your deck at a moment's notice. Hoopa will be there for you when that time comes. Hoopa is always there for you.

1 Hex Maniac 

This card, at least in my testing, is mostly for use the first couple of turns to prevent Shaymin-EX's Set Up. A fast first turn for you and an uneventful first turn for your opponent can almost seal the deal when using a Manectric deck. This can also be used to stop Giratina-EX from walling out your main attacker and to allow your use of items under Vileplume lock.  

2 Head Ringer 

Head Ringer is meant to

1. Make Seismitoad-EX's job harder and

2. Force your opponent to attach more energy to their Pokémon-EX so that Lugia is ultimately swinging for more damage. OR, if the need arises,

3. Allow you to hit for 120-140 with Assault Laser. This attack will probably win you the mirror match, by the way! And trust me, being able to win a Manectric mirror match without heavily teching for it is a beatiful thing.

0 Acro Bike 

In this list, I cut the consistency down a notch because of the slower nature of our Standard format. The best way to accomplish this was to drop three Acro Bike in favor of a Hoopa and a second Shaymin-EX. I didn't want to run a one-of Acro Bike, so that last slot became Hex Maniac. I feel that those three cards specifically may serve a better purpose than Acro Bike.

5/4/3 Lightning/Water/Double Colorless 

Five Lightning is never a safe number. And it doesn't usually pay off to live dangerously in Pokémon. But I couldn't risk not being able to set up Regice, Articuno, or Kyurem-EX when I need them due to lack of a second Water in the discard. Too often in my other list, one Water got Prized and the second one was forced onto my first Manectric to guarantee a turn-two Turbo Bolt.

Three DCE is because of Lugia. If you want to come out swinging, you're going to need at least three DCE.

Good Matchups for this variant include: 

- Vespiquen

- Fighting decks

- Camerupt-EX

Even/Poor Matchups include: 

- Night March

- Giratina/Fairies

- Manectric mirror

So there you have it, the M Manectric-EX deck that I feel is more suited for some of the troubling matchups instead of beating what you already beat even harder.

The next list I'll be sharing is a Manectric list better for beating Seismitoad-EX, Giratina-EX, and Night March/Vespiquen. 

This list is a bit of a mash-up of two different decks, but it's in a way that really makes things interesting for both players. The golden play is using Registeel to take an Energy off of your opponent's Active Pokémon-EX paired with Team Flare Grunt. This can bring a Giratina-EX or an opposing Manectric-EX to zero Energy from two, which is a game-changing play. Other plays are to wall out with Mighty Shield or stall with Chrono Wind while setting up another attacker. This deck is different from the other lists because it boasts thirteen energy, having high counts of both Basic Energy types. It also only has two Rough Seas because you can't use it on anything except Manectric. Here's the list explained:  

2 Aegislash-EX 

This is one of the best walls in the game. Although Hex Maniac is around, it doesn't matter. Your opponent playing a Hex Maniac means your opponent not playing a Shauna or Sycamore, which is always nice for you! Aegislash feeds off of Turbo Bolt in almost the same way Lugia-EX does, and because of that, I really like the card paired with Manectric.

2 Registeel 

Registeel has a pretty nice attack! Energy Removal is always a beautiful thing, now more than ever with multiple seven-Energy decks in the format. Plus the damage output is just enough to help M Manectric into KO Range with Turbo Bolt, and that's always a great situation to be in. 

1 Dialga-EX 

Damage output is the main use for Dialga. If you need to hit 150-170 really bad, this guy has your back.

1 AZ 

Because you now have so many high Retreat Costs in the deck, an AZ and a Switch are necessary for moving your Pokémon around.

5 Metal 

Five Metal is mostly to get more attachments from hand onto your Metal Pokémon. Turbo Bolt only goes so far when setting up Dialga to attack, and you can't Metal Links with this deck, so the more manual attachments you can pull off in tandem with Turbo Bolt, the better.

Good Matchups for this variant:

- Night March

- Giratina-EX/Seismitoad-EX decks

- Fairies

- Manectric mirror

- Vespiquen

Even/Poor matchups: 

- Mienshao

- Dugtrio

- Camerupt-EX

This version of Manectric is one I always have a lot of fun playing, mostly because Registeel is such an interesting card. I'd appreciate feedback in the comments on this deck because I love hearing of crazy ways this deck pulls out a win and exactly what it's capable of. 

For Manectric as an engine, it'll never fail. This card is one that is foolproof and that is always being expanded upon and made better and better. So many different variants found success last year, and I expect many variants to find that success this year as well. Another deck that I feel can find success in the future is Turbo Rayquaza-EX, which I've spoken of in the past, but never like this.

Zander's "Crayquaza"

 My friend Zander Bennett and I spoke immediately after his great performance during week 1 of Regionals with his and Michael Canaves' Rayquaza-EX deck. Zander described his matchups to me and I had quite an understanding of exactly what the deck is capable of. It just simply doesn't lose to much, because it sets up crazy fast and if you manage to set up without using a supporter, you can Hex Maniac at the end of your turn and then your opponent's turn is cut short. What a crazy idea! It's been common knowledge to have a great first turn followed by a Hex Maniac in the past, but with this deck, if you pull off this crazy combo, you've almost gauranteed yourself a winning setup. Here's the list and an idea of how the deck works:

 So as you can see, the deck is mostly your standard Turbo "Crayquaza" list. You have your 4 Shaymin-EX, 2 Hoopa-EX, Virizion-EX, and 3-3 Rayquaza-EX. One thing about this list I usually don't see in others is the Keldeo-EX/Float Stone combo. This kind of pair, when mixed with Virizion-EX, saves you from laser flips that can lose you the game, save you from Lysandre stall tactics, and allow you to get a Rayquaza out whenever you want - meaning that you don't need to have a Switch in hand exactly when you want it, because Rush In happens when you choose for it to happen. That right there is a great addition to this deck, and much better than Switch. 
 The main eye-popper here would be 2 Hex Maniac and 0 Professor Juniper. Honestly, at first it seems like the most trash list you've ever laid eyes on. Only 2 Draw Supporters... and they're both shuffling ones? What if I want to burn my hand? What if I have 3 Grass in hand and a Shaymin-EX and I REALLY want to use Juniper to take those pesky energies out of my hand? Well the way this deck works is so magical that you don't even need a card like Juniper or Professor Sycamore! The beauty behind this list is that you can play maybe all but 15 of the cards in the list whenever you choose. That means that you'll always usually have a hand that you can abuse Set Up with to get your Rayquaza out ASAP. And Hex Maniac, being the cold-hearted woman she is, can slow your opponent down to your pace if you somehow manage to obtain a bad hand. 
 Another key component of the deck that isn't something you'd maybe think of first is Super Rod. People will normally say "well with a Pokemon that asks that I bench down a bunch of Pokemon to hit it's full potential, I might as well run Sacred Ash and be gauranteed 5 to shuffle in!". But the reality is that you'll often have the damage you need even without shuffling back in 5 of your 12 basics, you need grass energies from your discard against a couple matchups, like Giratina-EX/Seismitoad-EX, and often you have your deck so thin that those extra 2 Pokemon could even be troublesome in fear of drawing into them off of N. Super Rod is a great card in this list.
 Zander and Mike's idea will most likely change how Crayquaza decks are run, maybe even for Winter Regionals! These guys definitely had an epiphany of which produces winners. 


Closing Thoughts

There's the scoop on Standard, and Zander's Rayquaza deck. Before I finish this article, I'd like to point out a concern you readers may have with Standard. 

Although Standard has usually been the most important format, this year it seems that it's being thrown to the side because of Expanded Regionals. But I hear that in certain countries, Expanded isn't a thing, and I know that newer players are going to choose this format to start out in, so that's why I spend so much time studying it and figuring out what's good to use. 

As for Standard though, I hope to provide the decks that are the best based on my testing and I hope that you 60cards readers can be inspired by some of these ideas.  Thanks for reading this article! Please leave feedback and comments and if you liked it, give me a [+1]! Until next time!

- Daniel Altavilla


[+17] okko


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