Experts' corner

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Chris Fulop

Po Town Blues

Chris Discusses One Of The Format's Most Hyped New Strategies, and Reviews More Tier One Standard Archetypes!

25. 09. 2017 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone!

In today's article I will be covering more Standard decks. I want to spend some time talking about the newest hyped deck: Po Town Ninetales. Beyond that, I will be discussing a few of the more popular archetypes making an impact in this new format that I haven't had the chance to actually review in my past few articles, which should cover almost all of them. Finally, I want to briefly go over the updates I've made to a few of my previous lists that I am actively playing the most. 

 

Alolan Ninetales

 

I first saw this approach to Alolan Ninetales from Michael Pramawat, and since then it has become my favorite deck in the format. I was already really high on Alolan Ninetales, but I was focused more on just being a proactive and powerful deck while also taking comfort in the fact that the deck has a lot of play and versatility to it if need be. The problem was, there were just stronger decks. You fall behind compare to the end game of some of the powerful stage 2 decks, which are some of the more popular archetypes in the format at the moment.

The key change here is the addition of FOUR Po Town, which damages Pokemon every time they evolve. Most decks do not run Stadiums, since in general the legal Stadiums in this format are fairly weak. Not only do most decs have little incentive to use Stadiums for their own strength, but there isn't much reason to just run counter Stadiums, especially with Field Blower legal. That is the next issue at hand: The average count for Field Blower continues to drop off. I very rarely see decks running more than 2 copies of the card, and that makes it pretty easy to play AND actually stick Po Town. Not only does Po Town's damage make it easier to take OHKOs with Blizzard Edge, but you actually have a fairly dedicated spread strategy within the deck. Tapu Koko is a card that is really popular right now, and for good reason. When a majority of decks in the format end up filling their bench, you end up placing a ton of damage counters for only a DCE. On top of this, Ninetales itself has a nice sniping attack in Ice Blade.

The big pay off to this is Espeon EX, as for only 1 Energy you can devolve the opponent's entire field down a Stage! With all of the spread damage, it is really easy to just break a game wide open. You get to do a "Rock Lock" style strategy, for those who have played the 05 or 06 format at all, by repeating forcing them to re-evolve into Po Town for additional damage. Since the Stage 2 decks rely primarily on Rare Candy to evolve, you can really devastate a lot of board states.

The spread damage also makes it so that Tapu Lele GX, which is already a strong attacker, can actually pull clean up duty. You hit a point in the game where you don't just end up having to settle for 2HKOs with Lele, but can just sweep the damaged remains of the opponent's Pokemon. All of it comes together rather smoothly.

This Ninetales build actually manages to merge two fairly different strategies within one list, as you can play a slower, grindy spread game against the Evolution decks which can generally overpower it, but you can also be proactive and bully the other decks with effeciency and raw damage output. Blizzard Edge OHKOs most of those decks' Pokemon with a Choice Band. Most of the non-Evolution decks will struggle to OHKO an Alolan Ninetales GX, so you get to leverage it's GX attack there as well.

There are two additional Pokemon, and I'll be honest when I say I am...on the fence...about both of them. Alolan Ninetales ( Of the non-GX variety! ) is the type of card I just dislike. It's Ability prevents all damage it would take from GX and EX attackers, and with the rotation of Hex Maniac, it is a lot stronger than it would have been previously. One of the problems I've found with these types of cards throughout their history in the PTCG is that they are just too easy to work around. They come off as looking absurd whenever they stick and single handedly win a game, but more often than not decks either have means to KO them or the opponent works around the card entirely taking KOs elsewhere. This Ninetales is a bit different though.

Decks no longer have VS Seeker. The standard count for Guzma seems to be 3, and that makes it hard to truly work -around- Ninetales with the tools in most decks. On top of that, these "anti-EX" walls don't do a ton of damage, and in a lot of cases by chasing the wall dream, you end up giving up on whatever primary plan your deck is trying to accomplish. If you are trying to race or leverage raw power, and take a large portion of the game off doing weaker damage while the opponent is taking KOs or setting up while you have no assurance that the wall will eventually lock up the game, the mere gambit of it all is a set back. In this case, you have a deck that is totally willing to play small ball, if you will, and is set up to take advantage of its 80 damage hits. It also is able to be powered up in one turn with a DCE and an Aqua Patch, which goes a long way towards making me like it. It is a shame that the card couldn't do more to try and help the Metagross GX matchup, which is a nightmare. Unfortunately, due to it's Metal weakness, it just gets eaten alive by a Metang in one hit.

Tapu Fini GX I am less sold on so far in my testing. Hydroshot is a nice snipe attack, but it ends up being inferior to Blizzard Edge alongside a Guzma, so it isn't really offering too much of a new angle for the deck. Bench hitting attacks...well, one target bench hitting attacks at least...have generally become fairly obsolete while in a format alongside Pokemon Catcher/Lysandre/Guzma ( in order of era ) since the attacks end up scaling in power/cost to incorporate the ability to hit the Bench and competitive decks generally can get access to a Benched Pokemon anyways.

Even Fini's lack of weakness doesn't come into play really since the deck is mainly concerned with Metal attackers...meaning Metagross GX, and Metagross with a Band still OHKOs Tapu Fini despite it's lack of weakness. I get the idea behind Fini's GX attack. For only a Water, you can fling away a Pokemon, which is all well and good, but you didn't advance the track of the game much in the process. You fail to take any prizes, and did not do any damage. Giving up a turn's attack to fling away a Pokemon is...not always worthwhile even. I've been praising Sylveon GX in Gardevoir for it's GX attack despite the higher Energy cost, but the difference between flinging away two Pokemon and one is actually massive. Alolan Ninetales GX also has a really powerful GX attack in it's own right that Fini has to compete with.

I haven't chosen to deviate too much from what Pramawat played, which is honestly why the Fini is still in the list ( albeit on the chopping block! Ninetales is safe though! ) Pram ran a 3rd Tapu Koko, which is great as an opener, and the card is very frustrating in multiples as the damage piles up, especially for decks that are not that well suited for OHKOing it. I feel like it isn't quite necessary, and cut it for a Mallow. Mallow works really well with Octillery, and will often emulate the "third" Tapu Koko by making the lone Rescue Stretcher more accessable. Mallow being able to grab a DCE + Aqua Patch, two of the most in demand cards for the deck, comes up a lot as well. Even setting up double Patch turns becomes a lot more consistant as a result of adding the lone Mallow ( Thanks Tapy Lele! )

The last change is to cut a Float Stone for a Switch. Due to Guzma, Float Stone/Switch/Etc have dropped a lot in value. That being said, you do sometimes want to bench a Ninetales GX to be able to Patch onto it and then retreat it active again to chain Blizzard Edges. Float Stone still forces you to abide by the one retreat a turn rule. On top of that, Ninetales will often be suited up with a Choice Band making it unable to hold a Stone. Despite how well the deck benefits from it's lean use of DCE and having access to Aqua Patches, the deck still does really care about each of it's attachments, so conserving Energy on a Ninetales is very important! I understand that my play style with the deck is still influenced by how I would approach it in my prior ( inferior ) build, but I don't think I am handling the deck incorrectly either. It is certainly capable of bullying decks around with it's raw power too, and I am happy to make small tweaks to make that aspect of it's game just a little bit stronger.


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