Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Philadelphia Fallout

Check Out The Aftermath From This Season's First Regionals!

09/23/2018 by Chris Fulop

Hello again!

Philadelphia Regionals has come and gone, and while it did not go as well for me personally as I would have liked, I had a fun time and I got to watch a lot of my friends do really well! On top of this, we have our first real look at a properly defined metagame.

Caleb Gedemer won the whole event with this Buzzwole / Garbodor deck sporting a spicy 1-1 Weavile line as an additional attacker.

I don't find it that surprising that the deck to take down the event is just an upgraded version of the deck that absolutely blew up in Santa Catarina. Rather than choose between the Buzzwole / Garbodor or Buzzwole / Weavile decks, Caleb found a list that managed to incorporate both. Weavile is the easier of the two to play around, so it being the thin 1-1 line makes more sense. The mere threat of both Garbodor and Weavile in the same deck is so cramping: A player has to try to navigate the game while minimizing their item use and the number of Pokémon with Abilities they put into play. That is asking quite a lot.

One of the best additions Caleb made to the list was the inclusion of one Field Blower. First of all, the card works well in conjunction with Trashalanche, as it can boost the damage output by stripping Tools off the field and into the discard pile. More importantly, Caleb was well aware that Zoroark decks would be adding Weakness Policy to their lists ( and, oh, they did ) as a counter to all of the Buzzwoles that would be uh, I guess, buzzing about. When none of the lists from Santa Catarina had Field Blowers in it, this was a great angle of attack. Knowing you needed to one-up that counter is important.

Something else that is really interesting here is the pair of Cynthia. Cynthia is the best Supporter in the game right now, and I don't think many would argue this. The problem is, it is also not particularly synergistic with Magcargo's Smooth Over. Lillie and Professor Kukui, on the other hand, are great with it. These Supporters, alongside Oranguru's Instruct and Acro Bike, make Magcargo extremely powerful in this deck. It also maximizes the strength of hard-to-find Energy cards like Beast Energy and Counter Energy.

One thing I do want to point out about this deck...I do not think players respect how important Magcargo is to it functioning. KOing it is absolutely worth it. Look at the engine without it. The deck can absolutely fall apart. It is often correct to ignore an attacker in exchange for getting this card off the table.

The last note on this deck stems around Caleb only playing three copies of Shrine of Punishment. I assume part of this is because he expected a reasonable amount of Shrine mirror matches where the card was just useless. Besides that, it is reasonable to expect players to be bringing decks with game plans that do function well even under Shrine. Trimming to three seems fine.

In second place, Rukan Shao piloted an interesting and streamlined Malamar list.

Rukan went with about the most straightforward Psychic Malamar deck imaginable. A line of 4-4 Malamar, 4 Ultra Ball, 4 Mysterious Treasure, 4 Acro Bike AND a pair of Friend Ball. I'll admit I'm not sold on the Friend Ball here... I think I would prefer Nest Ball over them. The Supporters are also very cut and dry: 4 Cynthia, 4 Lillie, and 4 Guzma. Alongside 4 Acro Bike and Tapu Lele GX, this makes the deck pretty consistent.

"But Malamar is a GX deck, and Shrine is expected to be everywhere for this tournament!"

That is a bit misleading, as Malamar CAN BE a GX deck in the matchups where it needs to be. You have access to the raw power of Dawn Wings Necrozma GX and Necrozma GX ( as well as your Zoroark hard counter in Marshadow GX ) but the deck runs a lot of non-GX Pokémon, as well as a pair of Rescue Stretcher. Malamar, if it sets up in a way that doesn't force you to have a bench full of GX Pokémon, actually has a lot of game against Shrine decks. The important thing to see here is that Rukan runs 8 non-GX Pokémon to open with. On the other hand, he has 6 GX Pokémon. Well, more often than not, he will open with a non-GX Pokémon. Those are games the deck should perform well against Shrine decks. You can likely survive opening with a GX if you avoid having to bench further copies. Usually you end up having to Wonder Tag, and that is what does you in, though.

Deoxys is just a great attacker in this deck. It has a lot of HP, and is a real chore for Buzzwole / Shrine decks to try and deal with. It OHKOs all the Pokémon in their decks. Once set up, it is also able to be fairly self sustaining so it is super punishing if they try to work around it and keep you off of Malamars.

Mimikyu is a monster, as it is a great one prize attacker option to deal with other decks that are capable of OHKOing you. It does a lot of work against Vikabulu, and in Malamar mirrors. Filch as a fall back against dead draws is useful too, although this build is streamlined enough not to need it very often, I bet.

The most interesting card in this deck, to me, is Escape Board. I vividly remember giving Rukan a bit of grief over him proposing this card in Malamar in one of the group chats I am in. I guess maybe I shouldn't have written it off so quickly, right? I'm still not entirely sure I like it better than Switch, but with 9 of the 14 Basic Pokémon with a one retreat cost, it does do a lot of work. The card does get a lot better when you take into account that a large portion of games you will not be benching Dawn Wings Necrozma GX. Since the decks you do get to do your traditional Malamar gimmick against are probably going to be good matchups, adjusting your switching cards to be stronger for the other matchups is probably a good idea. Well played Rukan, you got me this time.

Next, I want to discuss a pair of Zoroark decks. I had really been high on Zoroark Golisopod, but that deck didn't really have a particularly great showing at the event. Instead, we had a Zoroark Banette deck played by Xander Pero taking 3rd place after a very close three game set against Caleb Gedemer. There were also a lot of Zoroark Lycanroc decks playing highly in day 2, but I want to spotlight the list played by Jimmy Pendarvis.

While I list Xander's list as Zoroark Banette, lets not overlook the fact that he is also running a 1-1 Garbodor line, a Buzzwole, a Tapu Lele, and a Tapu Koko. This is a lot of options and threats and they are all totally reasonable to run off of Rainbow Energy. Rainbow Energy is really cute ( and also good ) with Banette, as it guarantees you have damage to move with Shady Move.

Banette is a very powerful counter to Buzzwole Shrine decks as it is a cheap attacker against them that hits for Weakness while also resisting Buzzwole. Shady Move also helps to heal Shrine damage off of you. Acting as a sort of "Plus Power" against other decks lets the deck hit for as much as 190 damage with a Shady Move, Choice Band, Devoured Field, and Professor Kukui. ADMITTEDLY that is asking a ton, but there are so many damage modifiers in this deck.

Buzzwole is just a very good card, although this deck can really only take advantage of it during it's sweet spot when the opponent is at 4 prizes. Still, that turn is so powerful that it is worth it. It is so backbreaking in the Zoroark mirror match as well.

Tapu Koko is a great lead attacker, and a Flying Flip or two can soften up a whole field into OHKO range for further Zoroark attacks. Tapu Koko got much more valuable in Zoroark decks as they started to run more and more copies of Devoured Field and Prof. Kukui.

The thin Garbodor line is good at keeping the opponent honest with Items. I imagine a lot of players saw all of the other Pokémon and didn't even consider the idea that Trashalanche was part of the equation. Since the deck does fight primarily with GX Pokémon, even benching the one-of Trubbish is an issue. Either it gets ignored as they try to stay on the six prize track, or they KO it, and it acts as a 7th Prize in some games. ( This obv gets negated if an early Zorua goes down, or if you used Buzzwole or led with Koko. ) I'm not sure if this is just too cute and greedy or if it is great. There is a lot going on in this deck, and I'm not going to pretend to have a full grasp of all of the uses of all of the cards.

Xander also ran what wound up being a pretty standard "anti-Shrine" package in this deck. 3 Devoured Field not only offer a damage boost, but are important towards countering Shrines. Xander is running a Lusamine over the more popular Pal Pad, as it can also get you Stadium cards back. He also has a pair of Weakness Policy to keep Buzzwole ( and in other decks, Lycanroc GX ) manageable. Unfortunately, I doubt that Caleb Gedemer was the only player to pick up on the fact that Field Blower was a good call in a Fighting deck this weekend. Finally, a pair of Acerola gets rid of hanging prize liabilities. Zoroark decks are by far the best at using this card as they can offset the fact that your Supporter card for the turn doesn't draw cards due to all of it's uses of Trade. ( Zoroark is a very fair card. )


Most people reading this have been seeing stock Zororoc lists for months now, but Jimmy took the deck in a nice, different direction that I absolutely LOVE. 4-3 Lycanroc and 4 Judge!? This is an aggressive deck full of disruption, and it plans to make Lycanroc a primary attacker. With Diancie Prism Star, Lycanroc GX hits for 130 damage for FCC..which is really, really powerful against the shrine decks. 200 HP with a Grass weakness? Each Lycanroc is going to get a lot of mileage out of it.

This is the best Judge deck I've ever seen, too. Not only does the deck have access to Zoroark's Trades to take away the card's parity, but it is a very aggressive deck making use of Bloodthirsty Eyes too. Being able to Judge and "Guzma" on the second turn of the game is going to break so many games wide open before they get started.

Most Zoroark decks focus on being really consistant, but also play a lot of reactive cards. This deck is streamlined and consistant and keeps those reactive cards to a minimum. It does run an Acerola ( and a Pal Pad for a potential second copy ) but most of what the deck aims to do is apply pressure and force the opponent to "have it" past your constant, obnoxious Judging and Bloodthirsty Eyes'ing. I feel dirty just thinking about it.

Anyways, the last interesting choice for this deck is Great Ball. Jimmy wasn't the only top player to play this card, as I know Michael Pramawat was also running what I believe was two copies of the card. ( My only reference point to this was a brief conversation at the tournament that I loosely remember. I'm sticking with him running 2 though, over the spot that Timer Ball otherwise would take up. ) Great Ball is interesting, as there is a high Pokémon density in this deck, and it gets even higher as the game progresses and the deck gets thinned out. I don't really think I like this card very much, but it does just replace Timer Ball, another necessary evil card that I also don't like very much, so I'm not going to really pick this fight. I do think this deck cares enough about a strong turn two play that overloading the deck with Items to assure this happens is good.

One of the final widely played decks for the weekend was Vikavolt with multiple non-GX attackers. I saw a lot of both Vikavolt Rayquaza and Vikavolt Tapu Bulu. I think Bulu had the slightly better matchups in a vacuum, but the loss of Rayquaza's Tempest GX attack really hurts. The higher placing builds wound up playing Rayquaza, and that is where I would look to. I had the choice between two lists I liked from "Philly" and I prefer Isaac Milaski's list narrowly over Andrew Mahone's list, which featured Shining Lugia over Dhelmise. I think Dhelmise is just an easier to stream attacker.

This is a fairly standard Vikaray list, but it adds a pair of Dhelmise to be attackers against Shrine decks so you aren't just forced to bleed off prizes by being forced into using multiple GX attackers over the course of a game. Dhelmise does 130 damage for GGC, but can't attack the following turn. 4 Guzma and a Switch let you get around this, but lets be honest, in a Vikavolt deck, just retreating to a new attacker is totally reasonable as well.

One of the things I really like about this list is Isaac's decision to go with three Volkner, where as most lists I've seen stick to 1 or 2. Usually they augment that with Steven's Resolve, but I've been pretty luke warm on that card so far. Volkner just feels so stable in the deck, and usually gets you the tools that you need.

I actually do really like this deck going forward. It is powerful, consistent, and now has a game plan to be able to combat Shrine decks. I would not be surprised to see this deck pick up a wider share of the metagame going forward.

Finally, I want to go over my own tournament. I had been pretty set on playing Ultra Necrozma Malamar ( Surprise ) but the results from Santa Catarina forced me to find a different deck to play. I spent a brief period of time trying to figure out ways to make the deck have some game against the Shrine decks, but didn't like how clunky the changes made the deck overall. By adding cards like Altar of the Moone ( Which I feel is just a very bad card ), Acerola, and additional non-GX attackers, you can actually make the deck pretty effective against Shrine decks. The problem is, you give up so much ground against other decks, or in consistancy, that I couldn't find a 60 card list that I felt comfortable playing. The deck is actually really good when against shrine decks when it draws the right way...if you open a non-GX Pokémon, and aren't forced into using Wonder Tags, the matchup is strong. Unfortunately, these games are rare enough that the matchup felt very poor without the major overhaul I talked about above.

I played some of the decks out of Santa Catarina, to see if I liked any of them. I played Buzzwole Weavile...I hated it. Weavile felt extremely weak, and easy to play around. On top of that, the deck was just horrific against the Buzzwole Garbodor decks. That deck not only felt like the better of the two Buzzshrine decks, but it also won the heads up contest between them. That deck felt pretty good, but it was pretty difficult to actually play, and I felt like it had a very large target on it's head. I didn't feel great using it, and I felt like I'd be a step behind if I showed up at a major event with "last week's deck", so to speak.

I played around with some of the Zoroark decks, and highly considered playing a Zoropod deck similar to the one Michael Pramawat had been using during Cups. This, alongside "whatever, just play Ultra Necrozma and pray" were my back up choices as I went to sleep Friday night before the event. What I did settle on was another Malamar variant:

Malamar Shrine was another deck that saw a bit of play at the Special Event, but was also played heavily by local player Jesse Parker who heavily influenced my decision to play this deck. The thought process behind the deck is that the spread damage from Tapu Koko's Flying Flip and Shrine of Punishment allow you to sweep up GX KOs using Shining Lugia. Shining Lugia is also just extremely powerful as an attacker against the other Shrine decks. You beat the other Malamar decks, the Vikavolt decks ( Mimikyu is exceptionally good against this deck ) and the other Shrine decks. I was concerned about the Zoroark matchups, as I expected lists to run a high number of counter Stadiums, Acerolas, and other potential defensive anti-Shrine deck counter measures.

The last change I made to the deck was to add the Sudowoodo. The idea being that while it is in play, it forces a Zoroark deck to need a Devoured Field and a Prof. Kukui to OHKO a Lugia. They need a Field or Kukui to OHKO a Koko. The most important part is that it forces them out of range of a OHKO on Necrozma GX ( It's main purpose is to abuse Black Ray GX to clean up prizes against Zoroarkd ecks, but it can also just act as a cannon and sweep up games too if you get enough Malamar out. )

The biggest problem I had with the deck is that I felt it was really clunky and inconsistant. I tried all sorts of lists, and it was just always awkward. You are stuck playing a lot of Pokémon, Shrines, Choice Bands, and Balls to get set up. Even "optimistically" you can fit MAYBE 8 Psychic Energy, which is low for a Malamar list. You struggle to fit Switching cards. You don't get Tapu Lele GX because you really can't afford to use GX Pokémon in this deck as they are a hugh liability when you really do want to maximize the deck's plan to force 6 KOs. As a result, you struggle to see your Supporter cards. You also do not have room to fit Magcargo. It feels really, really bad to play a deck without Tapu Lele GX OR Magcargo, as Wonder Tag and Smooth Over are so important.

The deck struggles with getting Psychic Energy into the discard early on, which is really oboxious. Four Ultra Ball and two Mysterious Treasure do a bit of work, but it isn't great. The deck runs too many non-Psychic types to not run Nest Balls over potential additional copies of Treasure, too. The card that is awkwardly "missing" compared to most lists is Acro Bike. I actually trimmed the 8th Psychic Energy for the Acro Bike at the last minute, so it isn't entirely "Missing" but the card is often a 3-4 of in these decks. Acro Bike is a great card, but I think it fits rather awkwardly in here. This deck has two problems going against it that reduce the value of Acro Bike: The deck is very tight on space, and the deck is already very light on draw. Acro Bikes smooth a deck out, but each individual Bike is still fairly low impact. In the grand scheme of things, they are worth far less than a Supporter is. You really need to be running 2 Bikes for roughly every potential Supporter card. When the deck is in need of reliable draw power, AND can't really throw away 4 spots, Acro Bike looks a bit dubious.

There could be a case to cut the pair of Tate and Liza ( the "worst" Supporter in the deck ), and a Guzma to add the other 3 Acro Bike...but I wasn't very happy with that engine, to be honest. That brings us to these Tate and Liza...if I didn't run them ( and cut the 4th Guzma ) I would need to find some way to add Switch or Escape Rope. There isn't really the space for it. Tate and Liza are draw cards that also technically let you skimp on switching cards. That is honestly the final tie breaker for whether I want to play Acro Bike or not.

Anyways, a brief tournament report.

Round 1 vs Zoropod

Game one, I don't get a very good start and get fairly thoroughly wrecked. I go first the second game and get a great start...and get fairly thoroughly wrecked. Yikes. He ran 3 Devoured Field and a pair of Acerola, and I couldn't make any forward ground at all. This matchup felt absolutely horrific, and I was not at all happy with my deck choice as I ( incorrectly ) expected this deck to be very popular.

Round 2 vs Vikabulu

Not a lot to say about this round, the matchup is good for me and I drew well enough to leverage that into a 2-0 win.

Round 3 vs Vikabulu

I dead draw game one, and comfortably win a lopsided second game, and during the third game, we both have fairly bad starts but I have a Shrine ticking on a pair of Bulu. Unfortunately, I'm an idiot. I use Guzma to promote his Bulu and my Mimikyu, and my plan is to Instruct and use Filch. I slip up and announce "Filch" instead of "Instruct" ( just a terrible verbal mistake ) but I drew three cards for Instruct and was locked into my attack step...which led to a match losing double prize card penalty. It is 100% my fault, I was sloppy, and I like the fact that double prize penalties were the norm this weekend, even if I was the victim of it.

Round 4 vs Malamar

I get paired against a standard Psychic Malamar list. Matchup is very favorable...particularly when the opponent may not have a ton of reps against the deck. This is a deck that does gain a lot from the opponent having a lack of familiarity with it. If you can represent yourself as a normal Malamar deck at the start of the first game, you can get a lot of percentage points by them overextending early into you. I remember this being much more difficult than it should have been because the deck is very clunky. I still managed to secure the win to get back up to a 2-2 record.

Round 5 vs ???

I have no earthly idea what I played against here. I somehow always manage to forget one of my rounds in these big tournaments. I always tell myself I'm going to take notes of my rounds, but by round three I always forget to. I want to say this was some sort of Lycanroc deck, but my memory is totally gone here. I did end up sneaking out the win.

Round 6 vs Vikabulu

Third Vikavolt deck of the day, which should be a good sign, right? Well, I drop the first game to a dead draw and scoop after giving up the first two prizes. The second game was looking alright, but I'm once again an idiot. My opponent declares "Let Loose" and I shuffle my hand in and draw my new hand...I immediately call myself on the fifth card that I draw. It never reaches my hand, but I did see the card, so we call a judge over to give me my second double prize penalty of the tournament. My opponent was kind and argued favorably for me in the situation with the judges, as I was very prompt in catching and calling out my own infraction, but I know there is no way I'm getting a downgrade on the penalty after already getting a draw related penalty in the third round. This takes what would have been a pretty nice board state for me into a pretty clear loss, but one I deserved for my own sloppiness, and ends my run for day 2.

Round 7 vs Zorogarb

The first game goes quickly. I go first and attach a DCE to Lugia. He has a lone Trubbish, and has to Mallow. I attach a second DCE and knock him out. Game two I find out he is on Zorogarb, which I was not excited for because I was so devastated by Zoropod round one. It wasn't even so much the Pod that was a problem...just a lot of Stadiums and healing cards. Game two I fall behind pretty quickly and can't really get too much going and he gets a pretty commanding win. The third game I was very fortunate, again. I get the turn 2 Lugia, and KO a pair of Zorua right out of the gate with Lugia, and then get the Guzma KO on a Lele for the next two prizes. I manage to follow that up with a triple Psychic Recharge and attachment from hand on Necrozma GX to get the OHKO on a Zoroark. That is about the best series of draws the deck could have possibly given me. I really do not trust this deck to be able to beat Zoroark decks prepared for Shrine decks.

Round 8 vs Buzzgarb

FINALLY I get paired against a Shrine deck. I of course get a pair of clunky draws and just get steamrolled in two fairly quick games to go to a nice and depressing 4-4 record.

Round 9 vs Zoropod

Me and my opponent were both under the impression we were completely dead for points. I assumed very few 15 point players could make t256, and with a loss in the first and third rounds, I felt I would be very, very far down the list for breakers. Game one I get a lot of spread damage in play, and he doesn't end up playing any Acerola or healing cards against me, and I'm able to take 6 prizes in one turn off the surprise Black Ray. I figured he had the ability to use them, but wasn't really expecting that play. Game 2 is competitive, but he does run Acerolas. Unfortunately, he forgets to take a prize card for one of his KOs and proceeds through his turn some, and gets a double prize card penalty as the judges do their best to reverse the game state. Sadly, due to how good Acerola in that deck is against me, I get wrecked pretty badly anyways. Game 3 was fairly short on time. I get a pretty good start and it looks like we're in for a pretty good game, but midway through he concedes to me, saying he was going to give me the match anyways as he didn't feel like the game start was recoverable game two and he'd have felt bad winning after that, and that he was just playing until his friend finished his match ( Which had just concluded. ) Odds are, the match would have ended in a draw, and I was going to offer the concession myself, believing my breakers to leave me dead for points hoping his were stronger had it come to that. I've avoided using names thus far of opponents but I do want to say thank you to Aden for his kindness here. ( Also, for being a really enjoyable opponent. I actually want to thank all 9 of my opponents, as everyone was really fun to play against all day. )

At 5-4, with 15 points, I got 232nd place, good enough for the least deserved 30 Championship Points of my life.


I did not enjoy playing this deck, and without a major overhaul ( More or less requiring the means to fit a Magcargo line in the deck ) I would not play it again. While it has pretty solid matchups, and a case could be made for me going as favorably as 7-2 on the day ( This sort of argument is weak as pairings change as results do hypothetically. ) but it just felt like the deck was too soft to decks that were properly prepared for the Shrine infused metagame. The splash hate against Buzzshrine decks was too much.

I've got two more League Cups to attend in the upcoming weeks before Memphis Regionals to try to upgrade my 2nd place and top 8 finishes to earn more points. I'm leaning towards playing either a slightly tweaked copy of Rukan's deck, or Jimmy's Zoro/Roc list.

Until next time!

[+19] okko


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