Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

STILL Marching On

Chris Reviews The Fallout From Fort Wayne and Continues to Explore The Exciting New 2017-2018 Standard Format!

08. 09. 2017 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone! The first Regional Championships of the 2017-2018 season is in the books, and Michael Pramawat is your Champion! Pramawat won his unprecidente SIXTH Regionals, taking down the Expanded Fort Wayne Regionals against Sam Chen in the finals with his Night March deck! Remember when all of the hype seemed to focus on Trevenant, and then in turn assorted Dark decks to counter that? The general consensus seemed to be that Trevenant, or the threat of Trevenant, would push Night March from viability, but it seemed that...less susprisingly...everyone was prepared for the evil ghost tree menace, as it failed to deliver on the hype it had going into the event.

Dark decks did better, with a Turbo Darkrai deck ending day 2 of Swiss as the first seed. Also unsurprisingly, Israel Sosa top 8ed yet another Regionals with his Dark varient, making the top 8 a race between him and Pram to see if either of them could take their record setting 6th Regionals. With most of the top 8 being made up of decks that relied on EX attackers, Night March had an easy...march...through the field and to the win. With this win, I think it is safe to view Pramawat as the top player in the game at the moment. Lets take a look at the list he won with!

Alright, this feels a bit redundant, seeing how the list did win the whole event, but this deck is a thing of beauty. I LOVE it. This may be the first time I have ever included a list in one of my articles where I haven't even had my own suggestions or personal tweaks for the deck. The deck has an extremely consistent engine, and then a toolbox of Supporters to abuse with VS Seeker and Battle Compressor. You also see a toolbox with the rest of the Trainers, which you can get with Teammates and Computer Search, and re-use with Puzzle of Times.

The Pokemon line up consists of some of the standard fare...all 12 Night Marchers, plus 3 Shaymin EX. To join these, the deck runs a Tapu Lele to augment the toolbox of Supporters. It is also helpful under Item Lock letting you draw into key Supporters. It can theoretically be an attacker, but it isn't what this deck is going for in most matchups. You have a very linear plan...Night most matchups. Against Item lock and disruptive decks you end up taking some more unique lines, and I can see Tapu Lele attacking in these at times.

On the topic of the Item Lock matchups, that is where the deck's Tauros GX comes in. Those decks struggle to deal with the Tauros without getting wrecked by it's rage damage output. It is the Pokemon...maybe even the deck that stands out the most as being out of place. It is solely in there to try and counter decks which are otherwise strong against Night March.

Marshadow GX fulfills the role of Mew EX/Mew, being an additional Night Marcher. It is both heftier and sturdier than the alternatives, and is actually reasonably likely to survive after an attack if promoted towards the end of the game once the exchange has whiddled down both players' energy supply. Marshadow also benefits from being able to attack off of attacks in the Discard Pile...meaning it can gift you an "extra" notch of Night March damage if you need to go over the top. It also can use Tauros' Mad Bull out of no where if it doesn't get KOed. ( It can, in turn, be your follow up Tauros in the Item Lock matchups if you need it to be. ) It also provides the deck with a Fighting type attacker, which can be pretty useful against Darkrai decks. ( Or anything else randomly weak to Fighting. )

Finally Pram ran an Oranguru, which is simply an answer to N and other hand disruption as the game drags on.
The Energy count is pretty self explanatory, so we'll move onto the Trainers in more detail.

The core of the deck's engine is 4 Ultra Ball, 4 Trainers' Mail, 4 Battle Compressor, and 4 VS Seeker. Beyond this you have a wide range of Supporters, starting with 3 Prof. Juniper/Sycamore. This is your main draw Supporter and so useful that you just want multiple copies of it. It wouldn't even be necessary at this number , since the deck's engine is so robust, but you need it against the disruptive decks that will otherwise shut you down. It is safe to look at the 3rd...and maybe even the 2nd copy, as tech cards against Item Lock as much as you should view them as part of the deck's natural engine.

You run 1 N as a reliable early game draw card that doesn't discard potentially key cards and also for it's, honestly, primary function as disruption. Ghetsis is another card that is both a draw card and disruptive. Since the deck's draw power is so overwhelming, there are a lot of games you can put an exclamation point on your first turn with this card and just strip away key resources from the opponent's hand. It can give you free, cheap wins, as well as providing more honest and fair disruption at times too. Hex Maniac is strictly disruption, but turning off Abilities is just so useful in a variety of matchups, and it is just a great catch-all that beats certain matchups almost single handedly. ( Such as say, the Archie's Blastoise deck that showed up again in Fort Wayne. ) Hex is another card that can just finish off a strong turn one if you don't need to play your Supporter, just to further widen the gap in quality of starts between yourself and your opponent.

The standard "2 Lysandre" is split between a Lysandre and a Guzma now. While Guzma is generally stronger, the deck's engine is so well situated towards being able to regularly grab either at any time, there is minimal risk to the split since most of the time they serve identical functions. Pokemon Ranger is mainly to deal with Seismitoad EX, and ended up performing a fairly vital function against one of the break out decks from the event, the Turtonator deck that Sam Chen and many others played at the tournament. Turtonator's first attack can really ravage a Night March deck at times, and Ranger can work around it. Teammates, the last card, is a Night March staple, as you get knocked out so frequently, and therefore Teammates can grab the best two cards you need pretty much every turn. It is also extremely important towards being able to play Puzzle of Times.

Pram ran 2 copies of Dimension Valley, which is a fairly standard number now due to Puzzle of Time. The decreased demand for Valley is highlighted by the addition of Marshadow, who can copy a Joltik out of the Discard to give you another "Just a DCE" attacker if you don't want to/can't use a Joltik. May as well cover the Puzzles now, too, since they are really the glue that holds the deck together. They let you get additional copies of DCE back reliably ( Although the deck does run a lone Special Charge to help lessen the demand placed on the Puzzles. ) and can retrieve Night Marchers. I would have instinctively run a Rescue Stretcher in the list ( For the same purpose as Special Charge...just to lessen some of the pressure on Puzzles. ) but seeing this 60, I don't see anything I'd trim for it.

Field Blower is a great catch all, and one that can be re-used off of Puzzles. Choice Band replaces Fighting Fury Belt ( decks should be able to get rid of the tool or KO past it ) as it offers a lot more damage and helps push Night March's damage output even higher. This is another card where my gut would tell me you almost have to play 2, because you end up wanting it a lot, but again, I don't see the space for a 2nd copy. The lone Float Stone is actually not too bad because Guzma acts as another switching effect, and is one you can Lele for, and play under Item Lock.

Night March is an extremely proactive, fast, consistenct and linear deck that just smashes decks that do not have a built in game plan against it. Playing fair, straight forward Pokemon doesn't work well at all. Item Lock is the best way to deal with the deck, and with the banning of Forest of Giant Plants, Vileplume decks got a forced exit from Expanded. Trevenant got a lot of hype for being strong, but the giant bullseye draped over it's back led to a fear of playing it, and a weak showing for the deck that I feel was predictable. Depending on how well prepared the Trevenant deck is, the matchup isn't even that lopsided if their time together in Standard was any indication. The matchup there felt 50-50, and the addition of Tauros GX and Tapu Lele GX surely helps the matchup. If they run Karen, though, that could be a bit of a problem. Finally, Seismitoad EX is the last of the Item Lock decks and that deck gained Acerola which is a huge boon. Looping a Toad with DCE and a Fury Belt is just filthy. None the less, a dedicated Toad deck didn't seem to do particularly well.

The other big problem for the deck is Karen. While the deck can recover from a Karen well enough, it struggles to do re-fill it's Discard multiple times over a game, or if it is paired with other disruption. Karen saw a decent amount of play at the tournament, so the success of Pram ( and a 2nd player who made t8 as well with the deck ) goes to show that the card can be overcome anyways.

As much as I praise the deck ( I also just love seeing public enemy #1 from a few formats back still asserting it's dominance ) I think it will be a weaker choice moving forward as I do not expect the metagame to be as kind to it as it was in Fort Wayne. I'm not even saying the field was soft to the deck as I don't think it was, but I would expect more dedicated hate in lists for the new future at Expanded events.

Finally, I want to include the two decks I was waffling between playing for the event. As a disclaimer, I didn't feel comfortable enough with any of the decks to justify making the trip to the tournament, but that had more to do with metagame placement for the first option ( Mega Rayquaza ) and just not having enough time to put in reps with the last deck since I started working on it the Thursday before hand. ( Waterbox )

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