Experts' corner

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Nikolas Campbell

Hotter than Lava- My Top Deck Picks for Worlds

It's me again Nik and I'm glad to be back writing for you guys.

08/14/2016 by Nikolas Campbell


Hello 60cards readers! It's me again Nik and I'm glad to be back writing for you guys. These past couple of weeks have been very crazy with Pokémon stuff from US Nationals, Pokémon GO, and even Steam Siege Pre-releases. Also right around the corner is the World Championship in San Francisco so there is a ton on the plates for Pokémon fans right now. Which is really awesome because in the past, the time between Nationals and Worlds used to be the most boring time in Pokémon. There is a couple reasons for that, first being that they don't usually release games during the Summer and two the format for Worlds is usually the same format as Nationals, but not this time. In the first time in my competitive playing career, they are going to have a new legal set for the tournament in Steam Siege. Steam Siege will add 100 plus cards to the format and should shake it up a bit. Today I want to go over a few decks that I think will do well in the Worlds format with some of the new Steam Siege cards, but also go over my Nationals experience and how bad it was. Should be exciting.

My US Nationals Experience


As a Pokémon fan, US Nationals is the greatest time of the year. I would even say it's better than worlds because it's biggest tournament in terms of players and more people I know and call friends show up. Even though Nationals is a very special time of the year for me and other players, it was a little different this year. The reason being that the prize money that was offered for making day two was so great, more pressure was put onto players to do well at the most stressful tournament of the year. So for me, I really wanted to test to make sure I had the best deck I could play for the tournament. What I came to was that Vespiquen/ Vileplume was the strongest deck you could play for the tournament. My reasoning was that it had the best matchups across the board besides Steel decks and it just gives you free win with a first turn Vileplume. I knew this was the deck I wanted to play, but I couldn't get the right list I liked down during testing. I started with my list that I played at Origins (which you can find here) and I took out the Glaceon-EX and the two Water energy for a Jolteon-EX and two Lighting energy. The deck was fine, but not great because it still felt as not as consistent as it could be or it just didn't have enough answers to a fast set up/ missing the turn one Vileplume. Luckily I had my friend Harrison Leven had a list that he was confident in so I went with it for the tournament and here it is.

Vespiquen/ Vileplume


This is a pretty weird list, probably too weird, but I loved the concept that Harrison pitched. This list was based on a list Alex Hill made for Ohio States where he made Top 4. There is a lot of tech cards in this list like Jolteon-EX and Bunnelby, but those card are pretty standard right now in every Vileplume/ Vespiquen. The craziest addition to this deck was Regirock from Ancient Origins and the theory behind it that Harrison gave was pretty sound. Before the tournament there was a lot of rumblings from different sources that M Manectric-EX was going to be a pretty popular choice, as well as Darkrai-EX based decks. Regirock gave us a better matchup against those decks and seemed like an obvious inclusion.

Other than Regirock, other the weird addition to this deck was the amount of basic energy. Most Vileplume/ Vespiquen usually only play Double Colorless and maybe one or two basic energy if they play Jolteon-EX. Our deck needs to play two different types in basic energy and we need at least two of each energy for consistency. With four basic energy there was one thing that hurt us and one thing that helped us. That thing that hurt us was the consistency of drawing the parts we needed for a turn one Vileplume, but the thing that helped us was that it gave us a better matchup against Giratina-EX decks. The one thing that most Vileplume/ Vespiquen deck folds to is a Quick Giratina-EX. With more basic energy, we can set up a Jolteon-EX under Chaos Wheel to get back into the game.

The one thing that I will say about this deck that I absolutely hated was the cutting of Lysandre completely from the deck. Harrison was convincing in why we shouldn't run it, he basically said since we are running more tech cards already than a normal Vileplume/ Vespiquen, we needed to cut some other tech cards that normal list would run, like Lysandre. Also Lysandre doesn't help in getting a turn one Vileplume, which is always a concern in this deck. While this was sound logic, in practice it was awful. Without Lysandre, it made our Aeigslash-EX matchup worse, almost unwinnable. At least with Giratina-EX you could attach a Double Colorless to Jolteon-EX before Chaos Wheel. Aegislash-EX always forces you to attach basic energy to even damage it, which can be a little bit of a problem. In my early rounds, I played against two Metal Deck and I did not have a shot because I was missing basic energy a lot of the time to attack against a Aegislash-EX, but if I had a Lysandre or two, I think I could have kept up with the prize exchange while building up a Jolteon-EX. Another thing I missed out with Lysandre is the plays with Bunnebly. The value of Bunnebly's attack and using Lysandre to bring up a high retreat Pokémon on your opponent's side of the board can be game winning. Especially if can start milling your opponent after you recover your good resources.

If I had to play over Nats again, I would probably play the same deck, but add a Lysandre to the deck. I would cut an Acro Bike just to fit in this great card. Now that we have talked about my "bad" deck that I played at Nationals, let's talk about Worlds format.


Worlds Format

Like what I saying in the intro of this article, this year's World Championship is going to have a different format than US Nationals for the first time in my playing career. With Pokémon changing the rules to allow sets to be legal on the third Friday, which will add Steam Siege into the Standard format at Worlds. Steam Siege is a pretty cool set. It adds some new support for pretty much every type and some cool new Trainers, but the two types that got the most love in my opinion are Fire and Fairy. I want to go over some deck ideas right now with the new cards from Steam Siege. These decks I think have a great chance to do well in the Worlds format depending on what you think the metagame will look like and I will give examples of decks these new decks will face.

Volcanion/ Volcanion-EX/ Flareon-EX

Now when everybody saw Steam Siege at first, most people gravitated towards the cards Volcanion and Volcanion-EX and its very clear why. These cards have the cover Pokémon of the Steam Siege set and the creators of the game usually makes the cover Pokémon pretty good. So do Volcanion and Volcanion-EX disappoint? In my opinion these cover Pokémon are the real deal, especially the non-EX Volcanion. The new non-EX Volcanion is the new kid on the block in terms of non-EX energy excelerator that can attack for one energy. We have seen Pokémon like this in Yveltal and Xerneas from the XY set. Those cards saw a lot of competitive play because they were non-EX Pokémon that could accelerate energy quickly. Now looking at Yveltal and Xerneas, they were a little bit different. Yveltal's Oblivion Wing would hit for 30 damage and accelerate one energy from the discard and Xerneas's Geomancy would accelerate two energy from the deck, but wouldn't hit for only damage. Now this usually isn't that big deal depending on what deck you are playing, but Yveltal saw a little more play in other decks other than straight Dark decks because of the 30 damage. The damage actually mattered a lot compared to the better energy excel from Xerneas. Now why bring this all up, why does this matter? What I'm trying to get at is that Volcanion brings the best of both Yveltal and Xerneas. Volcanion's Power Heater has the best part of Yveltal, in that it does damage, 20 damage to be exact and it has the best part of Xerneas, in that accelerates two energy. Basically Volcanion is a better Yveltal and Xerneas, both great cards in their own right. This is why this deck has a great chance of doing well, just from the power of Volcanion.


Now let's take a look at the other card I was talking about, Volcanion-EX. Volcanion-EX is a really interesting card. It was the first card to be revealed from this set that had the rehashed duel type mechanic. The duel type of Fire and Water is cool and probably really won't matter except in calculating weakness, but it is really cool to see this mechanic again after almost ten years of not seeing it. Now this isn't why this card is good, the reason this card is good is because of its Ability Steam Up. The Ability Steam Up allows you to do a couple of things, the first thing is obviously making your attacks stronger for your basic Fire Pokémon attacks. Adding 30 more damage if you discard one Fire energy is insane, it's like a way stronger Deoxys-EX from Plasma Freeze. That card saw a ton of play and it only added 10 damage. The other thing that Steam Up does that is overlooked is that a Fire energy is discarded from the effect. This can help set up the non-EX Volcanion's attack to accelerate energy by getting them in the discard other than Ultra Ball or Battle Compressor. The last thing is that Volcanion-EX's ability works on himself as well. Usually abilities that add damage to Pokémon attacks don't work on the Pokémon that used the ability, like Deoxys-EX which I mentioned earlier. ​ What this means is that a powered up Volcanion-EX with a Fighting Fury Belt and a Fire energy for his Steam Up can hit the magical 170 damage without needing an extra Volcanion-EX.

Volcanion and Volcanion-EX are the heart and soul of this deck, but take a look at the other cards that makes this deck work.

Pokémon

2 Flareon-EX GEN

Flareon-EX is the strongest attacker that works off of Fire energy. Blaze Ball with three Fire energy and two Steam Ups will give you the magical 170 damage to knock out a lot of different Pokémon-EX. Also the Flash Fire Ability on Flareon-EX can be very good in this deck because since Volcanion's Power Heat forces you to attach two different Pokémon. Flash Fire will allow to move that energy to the Flareon on the next turn plus to allow for a turn two attack without using a Blacksmith.

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

The best Pokémon in the game. Not really going to explain why.

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

While this might seem like an obvious inclusion because of the amount of Pokémon-EX in the deck, but the bench space can be a huge problem in this deck. While I have it in there now, I really hate it, but I don't know what to replace with it. I would like to add a Sky Field to the list as well which would make Hoopa-EX better, but testing is still being done.

Trainers

3 Blacksmith

The most forgotten about supporter in the past couple of years. Worlds will be the last Standard tournament for this card until they reprint it and it is ready to impress. Seriously the energy excel Blacksmith allows is too good to pass up. Maybe you could cut it down to two if you feel it is too slow in the metagame, but I just like the consistency another copy gives you.

1 Pokémon Ranger

A new card from Steam Seige and it’s a pretty neat card. Its effect is kind of weird and some people had a hard time understanding it, but basically Pokémon effects of attacks are removed on your turn. It can be your own Volcanion-EX's Volcanic Heat effect not being able to attack on the next turn or Seismitoad-EX Quaking Punch is all removed. This card seems like a great choice right now.

3 Battle Compressor

The best Item in the game and the best Item in this deck. Since this deck uses cards like Blacksmith, Volcanion, and VS Seeker, Battle Compressor will allow for perfect setups more than any other card will. I would run four, but I cut one for space.

2 Energy Retrieval

Probably the most interesting Trainer in this deck. Since Volcanion-EX needs to have Fire energy to activate his Ability, Energy Retrieval is the best way to get energy back in the standard format. You can try to play around with Fisherman, but I think it is too slow in this format.

Energy

11 Fire Energy

Pretty self explanatory

Options

Entei AOR 15

This card was seen in a deck around cities. It was a deck similar to this one, but it lost steam when Night March and Seisitoad-EX were shown to be better decks at the time. You could add it back into this deck if you want because now you have support with Fighting Fury Belt and Volcanion-EX to one shot anything with Heat Tackle and it will be three shot by a Seismitoad-EX with two Fighting Fury Belt. The only problem is that this deck does not run Double Colorless energy, but it shouldn't be that big of a problem with Volcanion and Blacksmith in the deck. Try it out if you want.

Matchups

Darkrai-EX/ Giratina-EX

This is probably your best matchup. You can one shot everything in their deck and Giratina-EX is a very bad attacker against our deck. Darkrai-EX is ok against us, but it takes a lot of set up to get a Darkrai-EX attacking for knockouts against us.

Night March/ Vespiquen

I don't think this is a great matchup, but I don't think it is awful for one reason. That is because you can get a really quick start on knocking out Combee with Volcanion while setting up attackers to knock out their Shaymin-EX. While it doesn't work like this, you still have a chance and I would not call this an auto loss like other people

Water Box

Your worst matchup. You are weak to everything in the deck and a well timed Quaking Punch can just lose you the game on the spot. I really haven't come up with a way to make the match up better than just getting lucky and outplaying your opponent.

Trevenant

I would say this a pretty good matchup. Volcanion-EX can use its Volcanic Heat and its ability to one shot a Trevenant Break and you can use Pokémon Ranger to attack over and over again with Volcanion-EX to one shot Trevenant. Also if they play Crushing Hammer, Blacksmith can recover the damage. The only problem for the deck is a turn one Trevenant going second, but what deck doesn't have a problem against that.

Fire.dek as I like to call is going to be such a dark horse at worlds. The power is there and if people are not expecting it, you should do really well. If you think Water Box is going to see less play and Trevenant and Darkrai-EX and going to be really popular. I would definitely play this deck. I would like to know what you think, let me know in the comments. Anyway let's take a look at another deck I have been messing around with for worlds and I think It has a great chance of doing well at the tournament.

Xerneas Break/ Giratina-EX

Now this deck looks very similar to most players, but with a twist. It looks like a standard Darkrai-EX/ Giratina-EX list and it is based on the list that Liam Williams made Top Four at US Nationals this year. But instead of Darkrai-EX, I added in Xerneas Break for a couple of reasons. Xerneas Break is a new card from Steam Siege and it has an insane attack in Life Stream. Life Stream for two Fairy energy does 20 times the amount of energy attached to all of your Pokémon in play. This attack is very similar to Darkrai-EX's Dark Pulse which does the same thing Life Stream, but instead every energy like Xerneas Break, it only does it for Dark energy. While that isn't that big of deal, just remember Xerneas Break is a non-EX and does the same amount of damage as Darkrai-EX. Finally Xerneas Break gets access to the Xerneas from the XY set allowing for Geomancy to help not only your other attacker, but also Life Stream. This why I think the Fairy version of this deck is going to be better than the Dark version. Now lets take a closer look at what makes this deck tick.

Pokémon

2 Giratina-EX AOR

Probably the main reason this deck even works. Giratina-EX allows for a couple things to work. The first thing is that allows us to have a good matchup against Night March. Stopping them from attaching Double Colorless energy and playing Dimensional Valley. Second, since you want to play Double Dragon Energy to take advantage of Xerneas Break, Giratina-EX will help you do that. While Pokémon Ranger in now in the format to hurt Giratina-EX, I still think it is right to play this card, force them to have it while getting rid of your Fighting Fury Belt.

2 Shaymin-EX

The best Pokémon in the game. Not going to explain it like I said for Fire.dek. There is no replacement, don't ask.

1 Latios-EX

This card is in here just to get free wins against Night March if they just start Mew or Joltik and against Vileplume/Vespiquen if they just start Combee or Oddish. Also in weird circumstances, you can use it to attach Double Dragon Energy to help power up Life Stream.

Trainers

4 Max Elixir

While this card isn't very weird in here, it can be pretty awkward with Xerneas Break. Just make sure you play your cards in the right order. What I mean by this is if you have to get a Xerneas Break in one turn with a Xerneas that has no energy attached, you have to wait to Break evolve, even if you have to discard the a break From a Sycamore.

2 Enhanced Hammer

Darkrai-EX/ Giratina-EX and Night March are two of the most popular decks in the format and they both focus of Special energy. Double Dragon for Giratina-EX and Double Colorless for Night March. Having these Enhanced Hammers really help if you cannot get your own Giratina-EX going quick enough.

3 Fairy Garden

While this is not the greatest Stadium with Giratina-EX, it is the best Stadium with Fairy energy in the deck. Giving everything free retreat is too good to pass up. I want to try to put in a Parallel City just for Giratina-EX, but I'm not sure what should be cut for it.

Energy

9 Fairy/ 4 Double Dragon

Pretty Self Explanatory, but this list is running one less basic Fairy energy from other lists because of room.

Options

Energy Switch

I would like one energy switch in this deck for one reason, to get a Xerneas Break in one turn if you miss the energy attachment on the regular Xerneas the turn before. I brought up the example that Max Elixir can be awkward with Xerneas Break and maybe you could cut one Max Elixir for a Energy Switch, which I'm trying right now in testing. So try it out if you want.

Matchups

Darkrai-EX/ Giratina-EX

This is your best matchup because of how good Xerneas Break is against them. Giratina-EX has two times weakness to fairy and Xerneas Break is resistant to Darkrai-EX. I would almost call this an auto win, but a quick Giratina-EX from your opponent with a mediocre hand for yourself can be a problem if you can't attach Double Dragon energy yourself

Night March/ Vespiquen

A good matchup. Like I said Night March now has an answer to a quick Giratina-EX in Pokémon Ranger, but that is for only one turn and hopefully they can't one shot the Giratina-EX with a Fighting Fury Belt. If they do not get a Pokémon Ranger at the right time. This should be a cake walk.

Water Box

This isn't a great matchup because of how bad Giratina-EX is in the matchup and Quaking Punch can hurts us more than other decks without Pokémon Ranger in the list. Though if they have a mediocre start, you can get a Xerneas Break to start attacking for one hit knockouts on all the Water Box Pokémon.

Trevenant

Your worst matchup. Giratina-EX and Xerneas Break will take multiple turns to knockout a Trevenant Break and that is playing right into their hand with Silent Fear. It will be almost impossible to keep up with Silent Fear and you can't use Shaymin-EX to get damage off the field with Sky Return. This is the one matchup where Darkrai-EX would be so much better than Xerneas Break.

While Darkrai-EX/ Giratina-EX has been proven to be a very good deck. I think Xerneas Break will take it over the top. If you think Darkrai-EX/ Giratina-EX and Night March are going to be the most popular decks going into the tournament and Trevenant is going to non existent. I would definitely recommend this deck to you and I would definitely try these decks in your testing.

Conclusion

Now with all these decks and the new cards that were added from Steam Siege, the only really thing I can really say about this format is that it's going to be very difficult to be creative and good at the same time. The cards that were released over a year ago are just so much better than anything ever released. Offenders like Battle Compressor, Night March attackers, Seismitoad-EX, and even Trevenant just make this format so dull and I'm just trying to see the light with these cards. While these cards are going to be fading into the sunset in the standard format at Worlds, I'm glad they are going away. This format was terrible, I really don't know how to make that clearer. Look at the articles I have written this whole format, every step of the way there has just been a big problem. If it was either Night March at one time, or Seismitoad-EX another time, or the biggest problem Battle Compressor, the format was plagued by overpowered turn ones or unfair Item lock. Which is not fun, but it is also wearing and soul crushing. While I hate saying any format takes more/less skill than another and I could write a whole article about that, but another time. I will say this was the first format where either I won or lost, I didn't care. I didn't care because most games were not competitive, most games were won before someone had a turn, most games felt like a lottery, and that’s why I didn't care. How can you care if you know that the game you are playing is the lottery. Sorry for my little rant there, but I just wanted to get that off my chest, but any thank you for reading this whole article. Hopefully I will see all of you at Worlds! Until next time 60cards, this is Nik. See you later!

 

[+9] okko


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