Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

Steam Me Up (Steam Me Up Inside) - Volcanion and Why I Love It + Cloud Duck

Daniel goes into detail about a popular deck, Volcanion-EX, and a rogue deck, M Altaria-EX, for the competitive scene.

28. 12. 2016 by Daniel Altavilla

Hey there, 60 Cards readers! It's been a long time, but fret no longer as I'm finally back to award your wait with quality competitive content! So now that we've seen so many shifts in the meta and we've had so many PRC-EVO tournaments under way, we all seem to be in agreement about the meta.

Table of contents

The top 3 decks according to the consensus would  be:
1. Yveltal/Garbodor
2. Volcanion
3. Greninja

Now, while Greninja is hardly a top 3 deck as far as being consistent, it has yielded insane results and will continue to do so because if enough players pilot it, it's bound to do well. But my article isn't about Greninja, since personally I think the deck isn't fun to play, isn't fun to watch, and isn't fun to face. I think the deck is linear and brainless. While the players who have chosen to pilot the deck have been incredible, I think the deck severely limits a player's ability to make strong plays and many players use the "N and Pray" method (playing N as much as possible until your opponent has a poor hand, and then setting up in the time it takes them to recover), which is actually a slap in the face to the game of Pokemon. You are actually taking the intricacies of each player and of the game and dumbing everything down to RNG, which isn't something I advocate. Anyways getting off of my tangent, let me get into Volcanion and why I think it's the best deck in the format.

There's no "I" in Steam!

Volcanion is a deck with many different strategies. The ability to put 2 energies on two different Pokemon allows you to run any attacker you can fathom. That's why players like the Spanish man who made top 8 in Europe run Salamence-EX and do well, while players like Ahmed Ali from Georgia can run Dragonite-EX or Entei AOR and do well.
Volcanion also can be built in many different ways and remain consistent. This is why it prospered before Max Elixir. It's why Daniel Lopez made top 8 in Orlando WITH Max Elixir. It's why Zander Bennett did well with Bursting Balloons and why Andrew Ramey did well with Weakness Policies. The deck just can't be built poorly!

I wholeheartedly believe that Volcanion is the most consistent deck in the format.
There have been multiple lists that were 5 or more cards off of each other in top 8 at 3 different large-scale tournaments, and that has to be noticed. The deck is constantly changing to adapt to the meta. While a deck like Yveltal/Garb has the same exact thing going on:

1. A Stage 1 pokemon that can't attack and requires a Pokemon Tool to operate
2. An attacker that is susceptible to Enhanced Hammer
3. Weakness to Jolteon-EX and an inability to KO Jolteon-EX in one attack consistently

Volcanion beats out Yveltal on many fronts because Crushing Hammers/Enhanced Hammers don't do much to hurt it. You're almost impervious to Mill strategies that rely on Energy removal, thanks to baby Volcanion STS. The closest comparable thing to Garbodor in Volcanion is Hoopa-EX, which is actually consistent because it can set up your field with one Ultra Ball. Jolteon-EX never poses a threat to Volcanion, as you can always OHKO it. If the Jolteon player has Garbodor on the field preventing Steam Up, you can simply take your time KOing the garb because Jolteon has to 3 shot your Volcanion.

The target on Yveltal's back shifted the meta in a way that favors Volcanion. Decks like Vespiquen, Jolteon/Pidgeot/Garb and Gardevoir-EX variants gaining popularity allows for Volcanion to gain even more good matchups.

Volcanion is a deck that runs 11-12 Basic Energy rather than 9 Basics and 4 Specials, meaning you rarely miss Max Elixir. When you do, it barely matters, but when you don't, you can donk EXs, and that's an insane option. Volcanion is similar to Yveltal in the way that it can't always draw "dead". Sometimes an Yveltal player can steal a game just by having Energy. You don't even need a Supporter card to apply pressure through your attacks. This is similar for Volcanion, and why you usually have enough freedom to play Fisherman, Pokemon Ranger, or Olympia on a whim.

Another thing I appreciate about the deck is how easy the mirror match is. Usually an Yveltal mirror match comes down to the wire and it gets as close as what you draw off of N and how you manage your finite resources. In the Volcanion mirror, it comes down to your Elixirs. If you can set up 2 Volcanion-EX before your opponent and if you can Lysandre up their Volcanion-EX, you can win as simple as that. Volcanion in mirror can literally be described through a Flow Chart. Did I Set Up an Attacker with the Potential to Set Up Another? Yes? Did I Lysandre my opponent's attacker and retaliate to the 2nd one he/she has? No? Pray my opponent can't flip the script and apply the pressure to me. It's almost as simple as the Night March mirror!

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