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!

09/08/2017 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 )

This isn't too crazy a Mega Rayquaza list, but the biggest issues I had stemmed from the fact that it can't really beat Night March or Vespiquen ( I could run a Karen to have a shot against Vespiquen, and a Karen plus Toad would give me a fighting chance against Night March, but that is a lot of space needed. ) and I was concerned that the threat of Turbo Darkrai would only further increase the number of Sudowoodo that would get played. ( I was right on that front: Sudowoodo seemed fairly popular. ) Finally, while I don't view Trevenant as a BAD matchup, it isn't a great one either, and I felt like I wouldn't enjoy playing a ton of that matchup all weekend.

Next up is my crude starting skeleton for Waterbox. The big problem I have here is that this is not at all a linear deck and each matchup required different approaches and I simply didn't have the time to learn everything. It didn't help that I was extremely rusty with Expanded. If you've read my articles for awhile, you'll notice the lack of Expanded content, and that was intentional because I simply did not keep up with the format and focused on Standard. Picking up a new deck with minimal practice isn't that bad if you intimately know the format, but it is a disastrous plan if you also are still learning all of the decks better. That made it really tough to justify sleeving up Waterbox despite it's initial results seeming pretty promising. Here is what I wound up with as of Friday morning.

One of the things I really liked with this deck is that it was really, really good against Trevenant. Between Lapras's ability to draw 3 cards and Rough Seas damage healing, the matchup was pretty lopside. With Toad and Karen, as well as Articuno, the deck was great against Night March too. The Dark matchups were pretty intricate, and I'm not sure I have the right configuration for those decks. With Fire decks doing well in Fort Wayne, as well as Night March, I feel like the deck's stock may have risen.

I feel like this is a really good starting point for the deck and there is a lot of room for refinement. I had a Shaymin EX at one point, and liked what it did for the deck's starts and explosiveness, but with Manaphy EX being instrumental to the deck, and also being a huge liability, you just cannot afford to give up 4 easy prizes when part of your game plan relies on tanking a Lapras or Seismitoad EX.

I had a Sudowoodo in at one point, because it was quite good against Mega Rayquaza and Turbo Darkrai. I cut it just to try and focus on streamlining the deck as I got familiarized with it. If Turbo Darkrai continues to gain traction, it should probably get re-added. One other route I tried to explore was to run an Acerola and 1-2 DCE just for a Seismitoad subgame. Looping a Belted Toad is just really unfair, and it feels like there should be some version that can get away with exploiting that gimmick too.

Anyways, next up I wanted to re-visit Standard, and go over a few decks I have been working on. I've updated my "Volcanion" list, have a new twist on Gardevoir GX, begrudgingly updated Greninja, and want to take a look at a deck that exploits a Pokemon I think is extremely well positioned going forward in Breakpoint Garbodor: Drampa Garbodor.

I wanted to update the Volcanion list I had in my last article after doing some additional testing for it. My testing, and that list, was from prior to the World Championships, and I'll openly admit to wildly underestimating the strength of Kiawe. In my mind, between Turtonator's GX attack and a slew of baby Volcanion, the deck wouldn't really have the need for additional energy acceleration, especially the kind that eats up an entire turn. Having seen how powerful the card is after watching the Ho-oh Salazzle deck go off on stream, I added in a single copy of the card. I found myself pretty much always wanting to use it on my first turn if I am going first, and also often use it going second even if I could also attack.

Despite noticing I was having bench space issues with Tapu Lele, I've gone up to three copies of the card and added a 2nd Kiawe. I don't want to prize Kiawe, and I like increasing my odds of drawing it on my first turn without having to devote a bench space for Tapu Lele. Why do I run 3 Tapu Lele instead of 2 even though I complained about how they eat into valuable bench space? First off, using a Tapu Lele and getting Kiawe, annoying as it can be, is still better than NOT playing a Kiawe on the first turn. Second, you often want late game draw and N protection, as well as needing to find key Guzma in the end game. Getting N'd can actually really hinder a deck's ability to actually close off of Guzma because you lose VS Seekers and can't convert Ultra Ball draws into a Shaymin anymore. As a deck that runs neither Oranguru nor Octillery, having a bit more N protection is ideal.

I'll draw a parallel to VS Seeker. Decks didn't need to play 4 VS Seeker in the span of a game, but you wanted to always optimize your odds of drawing them in the late game. While Tapu Lele isn't identical in function, I feel a similar mindset is justified. You don't want to play 3+ Tapu Lele in a game, but you do want to have a high probability of being able to play them on demand. I was hesitant to jump from 2 to 3 initially because of the cramped nature of this deck's bench, feeling that this deck was an outlier to my new starting count, and eventually just caved on it and added the 3rd copy.

Guzma is another card I feel needs to be a 3-4 of in every deck now. I felt I was rounding up on my Guzma counts anyways before, and the more I've played, the more I feel a very high count of this card is ideal. Lysandre as a card that benefitted GREATLY off of VS Seeker so that you could keep a slim count of it while reliably having them for the late game. Without VS Seeker, I just don't feel like running 2 as the normal is correct, even with Tapu Lele GX in decks. I mentioned before that VS Seeker and Tapu Lele didn't provide the exact same function, and one of the big differences is that Lele's performance is limited by bench spaces available and that does choke up on you in a lot of games. Beyond this, you end up playing Guzmas, or discarding them over the span of a game, and running 2 can really bite you.

Moving on, one of the other big discoveries I made was that baby Volcanion was really, really unimpressive. While being a non-EX attacker was good, and I did use the card, I just found myself relying on Kiawe or Turtonator far more often on turns I previously would use Volcanion to accelerate. I'm not going to cut the Volcanions entirely or anything, but my starting count of 4 proved comically inflated. I'm down to 2 now, and could easily see reducing it to 1. Volcanion also contributed a reasonable amount to the bench space cramping as it was really frustrating in a lot of games when it didn't get KOed and sat around eating up a bench space the rest of the game.

With less Volcanion, I've added the 2nd Turtonator, which has proven to just be a fantastic card. I also added a single Ho-oh as a higher damage attacker that more importantly has a weakness to Lightning, not Water. I'm honestly pretty sure the Ho-oh is irrelevent, but I am trying it out. The deck can usually hit the higher damage marks without it, and I feel like you get beaten by most water decks even with the Ho-oh just because you end up with so many benched liabilities with Turts and Volc EXes lingering around.

Beyond that, I've been really happy with how the deck has been playing. It feels powerful and proactive, and it is also very fast and consistent. The biggest question I am left with now is whether or not this is the best "Fire deck". It's competition comes in the form of a similar build of the Ho-oh deck we saw at Worlds. There is some fairly similar overlap of territory between the decks, and I am unsure if a more traditional Volcanion build like this is better than a Ho-oh Salazzle build, or even if there is some better hybrid variation available. I've already sort of shifted into more of a hybrid build now with the addition of the Kiawes, and a Ho-oh. Salazzle is the interesting issue for me, because I don't know if it is necessary to jam a stage 1 line into the deck. The card is really good as the game progresses, but it takes up a lot of dec space and does clunk the deck up a bit.

Next, I want to look at a slightly different approach to Gardevoir GX!

I'll be honest, I was watching some of my friends play at league and saw that they had added a 2-2 Sylveon GX line to their Gardevoir decks, and I was intrigued. Sylveon serves a number of purposes. Least of all, it is a viable secondary attacker, capable of doing 110 damage for YCC, which isn't impressive but isn't irrelevent. With 210 HP, it can soak up a hit though. It's GX attack is very useful in matchups where opponents care about having a more complex set up. You can end up hitting a lot of energy and evolution off the table in one attack, and with the nature of the Gardevoir deck, that can easily swing a game in your favor.

"I understand all of that, but why are you running a 4-2 line!?"

Well, previous builds had relied on either Alolan Vulpix or Diancie as "starter" Pokemon for the deck. Neither of them felt particularly fantastic, as Diancie was hard to pull off on the first turn, and lost usefulness beyond that, and Alolan Vulpix was slower. With "Eevee" you can immediately evolve it with the Ability on the first turn and grab any 3 cards in your deck that you want. This should generally get you your t2 Gardevoir, and is also great at getting DCEs, which are otherwise hard to locate. Eevee is the deck's "ideal" opener, in that it serves your Vulpix role. Only instead of being useless beyond the first turn, you get a somewhat useful Sylveon as an attacker for the rest of the game. Thus far it has been really impressive.

Beyond that, the Pokemon line is pretty straight forward, with a 4-2-3/1 Gardevoir GX/Gallade line. Gallade is just a monster in this deck, offering some deck manipulation ( It works well with Oranguru once Ns start flying ) a non-EX attacker, different typing, and a large amount of damage for only a DCE. 3 Tapu Lele is great for consistency, and they are a pretty reasonable attacker in the deck as well. With the thicker Sylveon line, I've "downgraded" a potential Octillery line to an Oranguru. Oranguru is also a pretty useful attacker against the non-GX Alolan Ninetales in case that pops up at all.

The core of the Trainers in most decks will end up the same, so I'll just go over the more interesting choices. I'm running 1 Brigette and 1 Acerola. Acerola is pretty strong with Gardevoir, but I feel like 1 copy should suffice since I can't fathom needing a 2nd one as you should be favored against most decks that do not actually OHKO your Gardevoirs. One use should be the nail in the coffin. Brigette is great turn 1, and you have 3 Tapu Lele to be able to get it, and 4 Ultra Ball to get those. It's window of value is small, but it is your ideal first turn Supporter.

I'm running 3 "Switch" cards because you want to get an Eevee active on the first turn if you can. Between these and 3 Guzma ( You'd prefer not to Guzma as you'd rather use a Brigette or a draw Supporter ) you can get a Sylveon active fairly reliably. The Escape Rope is cute because you can use it to bench an Active Pokemon for Sylveon's GX attack. It isn't the best because they usually just promote whatever your second target would be, but you can kind of bait-an-switch them, too. If they promote their other attacker to avoid you sweeping both, you could just KO it with a Gardevoir and save your GX attack for later. One copy of Escape Rope to search out on t1 with Sylveon, only to threaten a powerful GX attack on the 2nd turn, all while setting up Gardevoirs, seems really strong.

I'm not that happy about only fitting 1 Field Blower, but the deck doesn't fear Fighting Fury Belt that much ( your damage output gets huge ) and Sylveon acts as a pretty decent counter to Garbotoxin as you can fling back a Garbodor and a waiting-to-evolve Trubbish. A second copy would be ideal, but I haven't had major issues with just the one.

I feel like the 2nd Blower is going to stay on the outside looking in because I would like to see a Super Rod in this deck. With the deck aiming to use a GX attack off of Sylveon, you can't really rely on Gardevoir's to be able to recover cards in a long, grindier game. This is one of the reasons I cut the lone Psychic Energy from the deck that would allow you to use Tapu Cure in fringe scenarios. It was kind of a free inclusion, but the rare scenarios of using it went down in number as you gain a better GX attack, and the value of Fairy Energy went up with Eevee.

So one of the things I've felt strongly about with this format is that I feel Garbotoxin is extremely well positioned. Decks rely heavily on Tapu Lele for draw power. A lot of decks run Octillery. We have a lot of Stage 2 decks that abuse Abilities heavily to accelerate. Greninja and Volcanion are good. With Garbotoxin active, N is just brutal. Decks do not have VS Seekers, N stops being a draw card as the game goes longer, and without Tapu Lele, Octillery or Oranguru being able to use their Abilities, decks get very prone to dead drawing.

On the other hand, I feel like Trashalanche is substantially worse than it had been. Decks lose out of 4 Item cards in VS Seeker, and decks just can't play a gimmicky Item draw engine. The format is slower, and decks in general look to be able to step back and play a slower game. I'm not saying the card is bad but I feel like the Breakpoint Garbodor is far more alluring than the new one, and it just gets to piggyback along. I am totally willing to look into builds of decks that just run a 2-2 Garbodor line that do not have access to Psychic energy.

I was torn between whether I wanted to try this Drampa Garbodor list, or an Espeon Garbodor deck. The big point which drew me to Drampa is actually the manner in which Garbotoxin impacts both players. Decks need Abilities to reliably have draw...and that includes the player who has the Garbodor. Acknowledging that most games will be played under Garbotoxin ( the deck has 7 Tools to enable it ) you do want to have a back up plan to increase your consistency over the span of a game. In this game, I like Hala. Hala draws you 7 cards on the condition that you have used a GX attack this game. Drampa's Big Wheel GX attack is really strong and can be pulled off early in the game fairly reliably in this deck. I think it is worth prioritizing using it early so that you have Hala all game. On the flip side, retaining the GX attack for a dead hand midgame has some value too.

Beyond the 4 Sycamore, 4 N, 3 Hala, we have 3 Guzma ( pretty standard ) and 1 Brigette ( also standard by now ) and 1 Acerola. I actually may be underselling how good Acerola can be as between Garbotoxin and Drampa's ability to strip away Special Energy cards, the deck forces very grindy games. Acerola excels in those types of scenarios.

I'm opting to run 4 Rainbow Energy and 3 Po Town as means to "turn on" Drampa's bonus damage. In a lot of decks, their "counter stadiums" are Field Blowers, and playing those boost Trashalanche's damage. Therefore, Po Town either boosts your Garbodor's damage output, or sticks and damages an opponent's evolutions. This format looks to be very evolution heavy, too.

4 Choice Band and 3 Float Stone is not just a means to turn on Garbotoxin. I want to try and use Drampa's GX attack early in a lot of matchups and Float Stone helps make that more reliable. Since I plan to play a grindier game, you want 4 Choice Band because you do end up attacking with many different threats. It is another reason why I like playing 4 Tapu Lele GX. Not only is it a good boost to consistency but it also is a great attacker.

Since I am going with a 2-2 Garbodor split, I'm playing a Rescue Stretcher. I want a 2nd copy, potentially over the 4th Choice Band or a Po Town, although I like the dream of sticking the Town in certain matchups. I also want to look into playing a Tauros GX, as well as potentially a Tapu Koko ( Promo ).

Finally, I have an updated Greninja deck. If I am high on Garbotoxin, you can only imagine how I feel about Shadow Stitching. I'm still going the Talonflame route, but I have bitten the bullet and just decided to run an Octillery line in it anyways, as it feels pretty necessary.

While I was unwilling to add a 4th non-Talonflame basic previously, I'll accept the 60-something percent chance of opening a Talonflame that this build presents. It is too important to be able to actually set up a sustainable draw engine for your mid game. Beyond that, the only major change I've made is the addition of two Rare Candy so that you can go with a quicker Shadow Stitching if you need to. I also went up to the full 4 Guzma. Guzma is far better in this deck than I even initially evaluated it as being. It lets you get off more Water Shurikens, but also lets you strand random things to force retreats while you snipe the bench and lock Abilities. Every bit of disruption helps the deck pull ahead. Beyond that, you get a lot of turns where playing a different Supporter just isn't super appealing. You don't want to Sycamore away stocked hands if you aren't falling behind, and N is also very situational. Most decks are using Guzma itself as their "Switch" and that isn't going to work too well when you are trying to strand Pokemon active. It means your active Greninja doesn't get hit and it also means they don't get to play any other Supporter...which only further aggrivates the pressure put on by Shadow Stitching's lock.

The deck is still pretty clunky and defeats itself at times, but man is it really fun and fantastic against most of the format when it actually sets up correctly.

This format so far has been a blast to play and a lot of decks seem viable. It is shaping up to be a bit rock paper scissor-y, but the decks themselves seem really fun and I like the more reasonable draw engine and pace of play the game is offering currently. Until next time!


[+13] okko


Thank you for your time. Please leave us your feedback to help us to improve the articles for you! 





Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to see the latest stories. 


Pokémon and its trademarks are ©1995-2018 Nintendo, Creatures, and GAMEFREAK. English card images appearing on this website are the property of The Pokémon Company International, Inc. 60cards is a fan site. Our goal is to promote the Pokemon TCG and help it grow. We are not official in any shape or form, nor affiliated, sponsored, or otherwise endorsed by Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK, or TPCi.



Other articles

A New Take On Ultra Necrozma

by  Chris Fulop

Lost Thunder Set Analysis

by  Chris Fulop

Walking In Memphis

by  Chris Fulop

Philadelphia Fallout

by  Chris Fulop

Welcome to our Pokemon Community Portal. Have a look around and enjoy your stay!