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Karl Peters

Top Choices for FCO Nationals

Karl talks about his top four decks for the current format and upcomming Nationals.

06/27/2016 by Karl Peters

Hey guys, it's Karl again, this time around with an article about my top four decks with the latest expansion, Fates Collide. Fates Collide is probably one of the most important expansions this season, simply because the most important tournaments, aside from Worlds, will be held in that exact format. Most of the European National Championships have already been played, but with US Nationals still to come, we will definitely have huge tournament upcoming, where a lot of players will test this format.

#1 Nightmarch

I don't think that this is going to be a surprise for anyone. The number one deck after the release of Fates Collide, at least for me, is still going to be Night March. The biggest game changer with Fates Collide is N since it once again forces players to calculate which resources they want to keep, to not be dead-drawing after a devastating N to one or two in the late game. One of the decks that is capable of surviving these strong late game Ns is Night March. With a high Shaymin count and most of the deck being focused around a consistent set up, it's very easy for Night March to draw into these lifesavers in the form of Shaymin-EX, Trainer's Mail, VS Seeker and such. It's also very nice to be able to discard useless cards with Battle Compressor to keep the changes of drawing dead as low as possible.

The General strategy of Night March has obviously not changed at all, even though Night March got a new friend. Mew easily allows you to keep better track of your Night March Pokémon and helps you to worry much less about running out of Night March Pokémon.

Matchups against the other top choices:

vs. Trevenant

The only matchup that Night March actually has some struggles again is Trevenant. The continuous ability of preventing your from using items is just very hard to deal with, not just for Night March. Night March main tool to increase damage is definitely Battle Compressor as it allows you to easily and more important quickly put your Night March Pokémon into the discard pile. But Trevenant still has some tricks up its sleeve if you manage to somehow get off your compressors. The most annoying of these is Bursting Balloon. Bursting Balloon immediately places six damage counters on the Pokémon that attacked the Pokémon that it was attached to. In Night March’s case this mostly means that your attacker is going to be knocked out since Joltik and Pumpkaboo both have 60 HP or less. Most decks try to outplay this scenario by waiting a turn to rather just take 30 damage from Trevenant BREAKs Silent Fear instant of whooping 60 from Bursting Balloon. Since Joltik just has 30, and Pumpkaboo 60 HP this also isn't an option since Silent Fear is just going to win them their game even faster if you don't deal with Trevenant. To prevent losing against Trev the biggest factor is, as sad as it sounds, to win the opening coin flip. This way you will be able to start in two out of three games which easily allows you to place your Night March Pokémon in your discard pile, while also preparing yourself for the upcoming turns with cards like Hex Maniac and Lysandre to play around Trevenant Item-lock, or Xerosic to get rid of Bursting Balloon. I already included two copies of Hex Maniac so you even have a chance to be able to use Item cards, if you're losing the coin flip. As you can imagine the matchup depends a lot on luck, but it’s better to rely on luck, than losing a matchup in 100% of times. It's also important to keep in mind to use Pumpkaboo as your main attacker, since there will always be a Dimension Valley in play and it simply has a higher base HP.

vs. Water Toolbox

Some people might think that the Water Toolbox matchup is very hard due to the fact that Articuno is able to draw two prizes for just one of your attackers. But as funny as it might sound, Articuno is not what the Water Toolbox player want to attack with. The Water deck has one key strategy – to keep Energy in play while healing your attackers and switching through them. So as you can imagine, it doesn't really help this strategy if you keep on throwing water Energy onto your Articuno, just to draw two prize cards, while also losing most of your Energy. If the Water player tries to pursuit this strategy, they will run out of steam very fast and even though they may be up four prizes, you will be able to easily close out the game by abusing their lack of resources in the late game. The more commonly used strategy is going aggressive with Seismitoad-EX. If they go all in with a heavily pumped up Seismitoad-EX, all you have to do is knock this one out, and you will be in the driver seat. As you can see you go-to strategy against Water Toolbox is getting rid of their Energy in play so that they eventually can't keep up.

vs. Seismitoad/Giratina

This one has always been a difficult matchup for Night March. Once they're able to attack with their Giratina-EX continuously there is pretty much nothing you can to, other than using Xerosic and hope that they don't draw into their Energy or even run out of Double Dragon Energy. If you can't do it you pretty much lost, since you won't be able to attack. If you're actually very scared of this matchup you can include one or two Psychic Energy to at least have a chance of dealing with Giratina after being in the Chaos Wheel lock. This, however, is very difficult as you will most likely need both Energy attached to Mew, allowing your opponent to Lysandre it up when you put it down with one Energy attached to it, since Dimension Valley can't be played duo to Chaos Wheel. One thing to remember is always going for the benched Giratina, or at least trying to prevent them from attacking while using Xerosic, as long as only has one Double Colorless, or Double Dragon Energy attached to it.

#2 Trevenant

My second choice for the XY-FCO format is going to be Trevenant. The deck has always been able to win a lot of games simply duo to its ability of turn one Item-lock, which is devastating for most other decks. There have been a lot of variants that included Trevenant over the past years. First we had Trevenant/Accelgor which had a huge success at the LCQ in 2014, but wasn't able to perform well in the main event due to the high amount of Virizion/Genesect players. After this players tried out different stuff, reaching from Donphan/Trevenant over Gengar/Trevenant. But it was until BREAKpoint, when Trevenant finally got that one crucial addition to make it a strong hitter and an own deck, without any other main attacker – Trevenant BREAK. The release of Trevenant BREAK started the age of Trevenant and helped it to already cut multiple National Championships and even win some of them. Fates Collide didn't change too much for the deck since most people simply switched out Judge for N.

The general strategy of the deck is very simple. You want to get out your Trevenant as fast as possible and evolve it into Trevenant BREAK the turn after. After evolving you can start spreading 30 on every of your opponents Pokémon thanks to Silent Fear in combination with Dimension Valley. In addition to a very strong spread damage attacker you've got cards like Bursting Balloon and Team Flare Grunt to annoy your opponent and make the game even harder for them.

Matchups against the other top choices:

vs. Night March

It's very important to keep your Trevenant streaming for turn one on. Once you allow Night March to get their crucial eight Marchers in the discard pile to Knock Out your Trevenant BREAK, the matchup gets very close and you won't have too much space to breathe. The matchup itself is very easy as all you have to do is using Silent Fear for one Energy to eventually spread enough damage to get rid of all of you opponents Night March attackers to prevent him from taking any more prizes. After you took out all of them, most players will try to prevent you from taking the last prizes by using Sky Return to keep their Shaymin healthy. If you get to this point you need to play either N or Judge to prevent them from getting the Double Colorless Energy, or the additional Shaymin-EX that they need. If you feel like you're struggling too much with Sky Return loops, you can switch out one Team Flare Grunt and/or Float Stone for Head Ringers to deal with it. Talking about Team Flare Grunt, this card is very good in the early turn of the game because your opponent will most likely have a Fighting Fury Belt attached to their attacker. So if you can't get the Megaphone at this point, you can easily remove the Double Colorless Energy thanks to Team Flare Grunt.

vs. Water Toolbox

This one is by far the worst matchup for Trevenant due to multiple reasons. The biggest problem is the high amount of Rough Seas that most Water decks are running, simply to counter Trevenant. As you can imagine, a card count that is intentionally run to deal with Trevenant, will often cause you some problems. The next thing is Seismitoad-EX. The combination of Grenade Hammer and Quaking punch allows your opponent to easily take the two hit knockout, while also putting you under Item-lock in one of these turns. Of course it's even easier for Grenade Hammer to deal with regular Trevenant, which is why it's so important to always have the BREAK in the Active spot. Most of these issues will rely on whether or not you get to go first, since going first will always put you in a much better spot, as long as you're able to get your turn one Trevenant. Preventing your opponent from using Max Elixir is pretty much the most important thing in this matchup, since you can easily deal with a Water deck that only gets their per turn attachments of Energy. Another big issue could be Aurorus-EX, a card that more and more water decks decided to include in their list. If your opponent is able to set it up, he will be able to knock out a Trevenant BREAK of yours every two turns, since Aurorus attack prevents it from attacking the following turn. Dealing with Aurorus is pretty much the same as with Seismitoad-EX. You have to try preventing your opponent from attacking with cards like Team Flare Grunt or Lysandre. But keep in mind that the Lysandre play might backfire in the case of Aurorus, because if he has a way to retreat the active Pokémon, you pretty much allowed him to attack thanks to the removal of the effect on Aurorus. Overall this matchup is very hard to win if you don't go first, but decently doable if you're starting with a turn-one Trevenant.

vs. Seismitoad/Giratina

This matchup is actually pretty easy for Trevenant. The main reason for this is the simple fact of the combination of Item-lock with Energy removal. The only way for Seismitoad/Giratina to win is to continuously keep the Chaos Wheel lock up and running to prevent you from playing Dimension Valley or Bursting Balloon. But since they only run four Double Dragon Energy, all you have to do is removing them with Team Flare Grunt. Once you start removing them they will also have to draw into their left ones, while being blocked from playing any item cards. This makes this matchup very easy, and as long as you're able to get your Trevenant in a reasonable pace, you will not have too many struggles against this deck. Even the introduction of Latios-EX into this deck will not apply too much pressure to you. It might prevent the damage done by Silent Fear, but since it's not a Chaos Wheel attack, you can easily play down Dimension Valley and Bursting Balloon, while also abusing the fact that they had to attach two of their four Double Dragon Energy to Latios-EX.

#3 Water Toolbox

The next deck I want to talk about is Water Toolbox, a deck that's by far the newest one of these four decks. We first saw the deck when it did very well at a Brazilian Regional Championships, shortly before the first European national started. After seeing a deck that ran Seismitoad as the main attacker, without focusing on Quaking Punch, a lot of players felt like the deck or a troll even. But after testing for nationals began, a lot of players started realizing that the deck is actually very good, which was proven when it won German nationals. Back than it was still a sleeper, but by now it has become one of the most popular decks and a serious contender for the top spot, after Night March. Your strategy is to get as many Energy as possible into play by using Max Elixir on early turns. After that you want to start using Grenade Hammer on turn two, or even turn one if you're going first. This alone is already a lot of pressure for most decks. On top of that you're able to switch through multiple attackers, depending on the matchup you're facing. The combination of Manaphy and Energy Switch is also a very strong aspect of this deck.

Very similar to Trevenant, Fates Collide didn't change anything other than the inclusion of N instead of Judge. Some players also started trying out Glaceon, but since most decks rely on Basic attackers, there is no real point in running Glaceon instead of Regice.

Matchups against the other top choices:

vs. Night March

This matchups is actually very hard to win, mainly because Night March is easily able to get rid of all your Energy at once, putting you behind a lot. Using Quaking punch early on with a Seismitoad-EX that has a Fighting Fury Belt attached to it is by far the best way to approach this matchup. While trying to get the lock going and also drawing some prizes on the early turn, you don't want to bench any Manaphy, Shaymin or Hoopa-EX, because these are all very easy targets for Night March to get some prize cards. Usually you want to have two or three Seismitoad-EX in play that you're powering up, while also having the Aegislash-EX sit on your bench to maybe come in for some crucial turns. If you feel like you're in a good spot, you can also bench a Manaphy-EX to switch around your damaged Seismitoad-EX while using Quaking Punch, just so you can heal them with the help of Rough Seas. Hearing all of this may let the Night March matchup feel like a good one, but sadly you won't have these kinds of perfect set ups in reality. In most cases Night March will just be able to get rid of your Energy and you're often left with turns where you just put up your Aegislash-EX and hope that your opponent does not hit the Hex Maniac or Lysandre to play around its Ability. On first glance it might also seem like a valid play to use Articuno to easily draw two prizes for a Joltik or Pumpkaboo, but a knock out on this Articuno will mean that you lose three Energy in one turn. You can use this strategy if you have enough Energy is play though, but as long as you have pretty much all Energy attached to Articuno, I suggest you definitely don't. A late game N is also an option if everything fails, since you can still hope that your opponents whiffs Double Colorless Energy, or whatever else they need.

vs. Trevenant

The Trevenant matchup is one of the main reason to run Water Toolbox. The simple fact of a main hitter that is easily able to two hit knock out Trevenant BREAK, while also healing most of the damage that gets spread with Silent Fear is what helps this deck to be such a strong choice against Trevenant. The most important thing is to take a good amount of value out of your first few turns. Getting Energy in play with Max Elixir or simply discarding useless Trainer and Pokémon to be less vulnerable for late game Ns are the most important things to keep in mind. Your main attacker is definitely Seismitoad-EX whose combination of Quaking Punch and Grenade Hammer allow it to be a real threat to Trevenant. But Seismitoad is not the only attacker that's huge in this matchup. Articuno’s ability to draw two Prizes at once can come in very handy, but you shouldn't use it in case you can still use Seismitoad, because trying to knock out a Trevenant BREAK with 30 HP left and flipping triple tails is very embarrassing, especially if you actually have the Seismitoad to deal the 30 damage, while also preventing the Trevenant player from using Item card the next turn. But if we take a look at Articuno’s first attack, we quickly see that this can sometimes be exactly what we need. Putting a Trevenant to sleep can often buy you that crucial turn you need to set up a Seismitoad-EX, which you otherwise wouldn't be able to. Or you might need a turn where you can heal your Pokémon with Rough Seas, without getting new damage onto them. Articuno works very well in these cases, as long as your opponent flips tails on the Sleep flip, since pretty much all Trevenant variants don't run any cards to switch their sleeping, or paralyzed Pokémon. Manaphy-EX, however, can often be a real MVP. Its attack is very nice against the continuous spread damage of Trevenant, especially if you don't have Rough Seas in play, or if you need to heal your benched Shaymin-EX, since Manaphy heals 30 damage off of all your Pokémon, not just your water types. Keeping these tips in mind should help you to be able to deal with the Trevenant matchup most of the times, even if you're not going first, and lose your first turn of Item cards.

vs. Seismitoad/Giratina

As you can imagine, this matchup is also not too difficult for Water Toolbox. The simple fact that we don't run any Special Energy already makes Giratina-EX a whole lot weaker than against most decks. Usually if they can't use the Chaos Wheel to lock you down, they will opt to focus on Seismitoad-EX, but thankfully Quaking Punch means that we get to play Rough Seas to completely negate the Quaking Punch damage. It's also hard for Seismitoad/Giratina to deal with Aegislash-EX, which allows us to easily get that two or three extra turns to get our set up, just in case our start is a little slow. There is not much more explanation to do in this matchup as pretty much all you need to do is Grenade Hammering your way to victory in knocking out multiple Giratina or Seismitoad-EX.

#4 Seismitoad/Giratina

Last but not least I want to talk about Seismitoad/Giratina. The deck has been around since the beginning of the season, mainly as a counter to popular decks like Night March or back at the first half of the season, Vespiquen/Flareon. The creator behind the deck was Robin Schulz, who quickly gained a lot of popularity after winning the first Arena Cup this season, which was also the first official tournament with Ancient Origins being legal. After that tournament a lot of players picked up the deck which showed immediately at the Super Nova Blast in Italy where most of the decks in top cut where Seismitoad/Giratina. Robin was also able to get a second place at that tournament, proving that he's not just the creator of the deck, but also a very good player in addition to that. After this Seismitoad/Giratina remained a strong force in Expanded but was a little but overlooked in Standard. It was until the European Challenge Cup, that players realized that the deck is also very good in Standard, especially because of the rising popularity of Night March and M Mewtwo-EX, who both are very good matchups for Seismitoad/Giratina. The deck didn't manage to make top4 at the ECC, but still got some decent Top8 placements. Spring Regionals where a rough time for Seismitoad/Giratina, because it had a very hard time against Greninja, a deck that was very strong and popular back a few months ago. It was until the first European nationals, where players started to figure out that Latios-EX ability to be able to attack on the first turn is actually a very good strategy against a deck like Greninja, which only plays a few low HP basic Pokémon. After French nationals, more players started including Latios-EX, proving that it's worth it. At German National, Robin Schulz once again stepped up, making a Top4 placement, proving that if you really know how to play the deck, you can always make it far in tournaments, showing that it's still a very good deck.

The strategy of the deck is to lock your opponent, while removing his Energy in the meantime. On the first turns you want to use Seismitoad-EX to completely prevent your opponent from using any item cards, while building up a Giratina-EX on your bench. Once Giratina is set up you attack with its powerful attack Chaos Wheel to prevent your opponent from using any Special Energy, Stadiums, or Tool cards. This in combination with the high amount of damage that you're able to apply, makes a very powerful attacker. What's also nice is Giratina’s Ability, its Ability prevents any damage done to it by your opponents Mega Pokémon, significantly increasing your matchup against M Rayquaza and M Manectric.

Very similar to most decks, Fates Collide didn't change a lot. In fact it just changed the addition of N, since other cards from this set don't help Seismitoad/Giratina.

Matchups against the other top choices:

vs. Night March

This matchup is by far the biggest reason why you want to run Seismitoad/Giratina. For the past few months, Night March has been the most dominant deck in the Standard format. Seismitoad/Giratina combines everything that Night March dislikes. The Ability of early game Item-lock in combination with Giratina’s powerful Chaos Wheel attack to prevent Night March from even attaching Energy. Your gameplan against Night March is to use Seismitoad during the early turns to prevent him from getting a decent setup. While your opponent is struggling with his set up, you build up a Giratina-EX on your bench to be able to Chaos Wheel as fast as possible. When Seismitoad/Giratina was one of the most played decks, a lot of Night March player decided to run up to two Enhanced Hammer in addition to their Xerosic. This would allow them to get rid of all your Energy attached to Giratina at once, preventing you from using Chaos Wheel. Most players dropped them since Seismitoad/Giratina isn't as big of a threat as it used to be and Enhanced Hammer is completely useless against decks like Trevenant, Water Toolbox, Metal or Greninja, which is why you usually don't see them. But it can off course happen that you get matched up against a player who still runs them which is why I'm going to shortly explain how to play Game two and three if you see the Enhanced Hammer in game one. Usually what you do is keep you Double Dragon Energy in hand to be able to reattach them in case your opponent tries to use Xerosic on you. Against decks with Enhanced Hammer you always want to have at least three cards in combination of Double Dragon and Double Colorless Energy attached to your Giratina, preferably Double Dragon. This way you will always have one left to be able to reattach one on the next turn and keep on Chaos Wheeling. It is pretty unlikely that your opponent has two Enhanced Hammers and one Xerosic in one turn, but if they do, I guess you just have to accept the fact that you probably lost the game.

vs. Trevenant

Playing against Trevenant will usually put you in a lot of trouble. The combination of Item-lock and Energy removal is just very hard to deal with for any deck, but especially for Seismitoad/Giratina. Most of the times Trevenant is just going to throw a Trevenant at turn one or two at you. If you don't have a powered up Giratina at this point, the match is going to get very hard, since Dimension Valley and Bursting Balloon are very important to block. Once you manage to power up a Giratina-EX it's very important to not attach Energy to a different one, unless the active one is going to be knocked out soon. Usually you want to save Energy that you don't really need at that point to be able to reattach them to Giratina-EX. Pretty much no versions of Trevenant run Enhanced Hammer or Crushing Hammer which is why you're usually fine with just keeping one Energy in hand in case a Double Dragon or Double Colorless Energy get removed by Team Flare Grunt or Xerosic. If you know that your opponent is playing one of the Hammer, or you simply saw it in game one, you should just use the same strategy as I told you to use against Night March with Enhanced Hammer. Having three Special Energy attached to a Giratina should do the job against Hammer versions. The big disadvantage of Hammer version is that they have a huge lack of consistency in most cases, which allows you to buy you a lot of turns with Seismitoad-EX. Usually going for Seismitoad is not the best idea in this matchup, because it's very hard to get it back to your bench without cards like AZ. It's also not beneficial that you won't be able to use Grenade Hammer, which is usually the go-to strategy for Seismitoad decks against Trevenant.

vs. Water Toolbox

This matchup is slightly in favor of Water Toolbox, but if you know how to play the deck, you should be able to win the matchup a lot easier. First of all, the most important thing is to prevent them from getting too many Energy into play. So what you're going to do is using Seismitoad-EX’s Quaking Punch on the first few turns to buy yourself time. While doing this you want to remove as many of your opponents basic Energy as you can by using Crushing Hammer to get rid of them. While doing so you want to set up a Giratina-EX on your bench. Once you have got it set up you want to get the first hit on your opponents powered up Seismitoad-EX. For this you can either attack the Seismitoad-EX if it's already in the active spot, or you simply play Lysandre on the benched Seismitoad-EX, that your opponent tried to power up. By getting the first hit onto Seismitoad, you assure that you get the two hit knock out, before Seismitoad gets it. If you followed the strategy completely, you should have removed almost all of his Energy after you knocked out the second Seismitoad-EX, allowing you to easily finish out the game, simply because your opponent can't keep up. The real problem is going to be if your opponent is going first and gets a lot of Energy into play, to reverse the situation and apply the pressure onto you. What you wasn’t to try is to, again, remove as many Energy as possible, to put your opponent in a tough spot. If you can't manage to remove the Energy, and also flip tails on your Super Scoop Up, the game is almost impossible to win, because Seismitoad/Giratina can't keep up with a deck that continuously gets the two hit knock out without having too much trouble in doing so.

A short look at Genesect/Bronzong

Recently, at Italian nationals to be more specific, a brand new version of the well-known metal deck started popping out. I'm talking about Genesect/Bronzong, a deck that was seemingly overlooked before that weekend. Before we had this version, the most recent version of a metal deck was Tyrantrum/Bronzong, but that one didn't have a lot of success, mainly because Tyrantrum had to use so many Energy to be able to attack. Genesect on the other hand only needs three Energy to attack, but is able to put out a whole lot of damage, depending on whether or not you need it. In addition to that it uses the brand new Bronzong from Fates Collide, to improve the Trevenant and Greninja matchup by a lot. But that's not the only new Bronzong, Bronzong BREAK is also included in this deck as it's a very strong attacker against Night March.

As you can see the deck has a lot of matchups that it does really well against and I would've loved to give you a little more insight on these, but sadly I wasn't able to test the deck myself. You should still really try it out, and I hope that some of you will be able to take this deck to glory, since I played metal decks a whole lot this season.

As you can see Fates Collide didn't change too much for the decks itself, since most of them only got the addition of N. But one thing has significantly changed the current meta, The introduction of the brand new Genesect, which I showcased in the short parahgraph about Genesect/Bronzong, was able to get rid of Greninja a little bit more, after Water Toolbox already tore it apart. Since Greninja is pretty much completely gone, I definitely agree with most players, that Night March is simply the best deck in the current format. We will see hopw Steam Siege affects all of these decks, but for now Night March is by far the safest choice for upcommong Fates Collide tournaments.

[+7] okko


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