02/23/2015 by Chris Fulop
Hello again, everyone!
I just got back from getting 10th place at the St. Louis Regional Championships over the weekend. I want to do a tournament report for the weekend, and then look ahead towards the upcoming format featuring the new Primal Clash expansion which I will be competing in when my friends and I make a 22 hour drive down to Florida for their Regionals.
I end up going to bed at 3 am on Thursday "night" and have my alarm set up for 8 am. The plan for the day was to drive myself down to Cincinatti, Ohio to meet up with Kevin Baxter to catch a ride out to St. Louis from there. Kevin was aiming to leave at 1 pm, and it is roughly a 4 hour trip for me from Cleveland to get down there. I'm always the type of person to leave for things a little bit early in case of complications, so I left at 8:30. While a bit tired, I managed to make the first leg of the trip fairly uneventfully. I roll in at 1 pm, and we end up having to wait almost an hour for David Cook and Carl Scheu to make the trip out to Cincinatti from Dayton. Carl goes to school there, and David had spent the week visiting.
They pull in, and its off to grab Andy Himes from his house about 20 minutes from Kevin's, as he was going to be playing in the Video Game tournament that weekend. The trip to St. Louis was -ONLY- another 6 and a half hours. For the first 5 of these hours, we loop Taylor Swift's new CD 1989, to the point of driving us delirious. I'll take this opportunity to apologize to all of my friends who received the Shake It Off karaoke sing along snapchats. I make a push for us to stop by a Walmart or Best Buy so I can buy a Jessie J CD to mix things up with. ( Jessie J is an angel, and master vocalist ) We end up going to a Best Buy about an hour outside of St. Louis, and they were sold out of Jessie J! Broken and defeated, I received a slight amount of solace in the form of Carl buying the new Charli XCX CD, which we rocked out to on the rest of the trip. ( Kevin splurged, buying Taylor Swift's Red, some Selena Gomez CD which wound up being STACKED with hits, and some Ariana Grande. Don't judge us. )
We get into St. Louis and into the hotel lobby where everyone is playtesting. Now, despite having over 6 hours of car ride behind us, we managed to discuss very little regarding what decks to play for this event. Carl was torn between playing Seismitoad Garbodor and Fighting Bats. Kevin and David both seemed to be leaning towards Seismitoad Garbodor as well. ( They all wound up playing the deck ) Personally, I still had Metal sleeved up. Earlier in the week, I had been putting in some work on PTCGO, testing out various decks I wanted to keep open as options.
Seismitoad Garbodor seemed like the deck I'd want to play over the Slurpuff variant if I took that route. I was nervous about the time limit, so streamlined aggressive decks such as VG and Yveltal drew me to them. VG is a deck I've never enjoyed playing, and after 4 games with it on PTCGO I quickly ruled it out as an option. It just never agrees with me, no matter how smoothly it is supposed to run. The Yveltal list I'd been testing put up pretty good results, and was a front runner for me. I didn't like the Fairy decks much. Fairy Toolbox was good, but I felt like if I was willing to play a slower set up deck like it, I'd stick with Metal as I knew it much better, and would have a pretty good edge against a lot of players at the tournament who hadn't seen my list. I just felt the "pure Fairies" builds were all really lackluster, and I hadn't been very impressed by them when playing against them either. The last deck I wanted to play was Fighting Crobat as well. The big problem I had with that deck was that it seemed fairly complex to use, and I had minimal experience with it. I felt like I could really screw up some of my games if I didn't have time to practice with it. The archetype also seemed to have a bit of a bullseye on it's head, and I didn't want to be the guy going into an event fairly cold with it while others had tested against it, and maybe even tweaked their lists with it in mind.
We had arrived in St. Louis late enough that I simply didn't have enough time to test Crobat and also get a reasonable amount of sleep. I was surprisingly less tired than I thought I would be after getting only 5 hours of sleep. I play a bunch of games with Metal against various people in the hotel lobby, winning all of them. The deck played exceptionally well for me the whole session, and I was sold on just sticking with it. Even Yveltal, which had played well for me all week, hadn't performed that well, and there were still a few matchups I wish I had more experience with. It didn't take too much to push me back into familiar grounds.
I end up crashing on the floor in Louis Thompson's room around 3 am, and get up at 7 to shower and grab breakfast before heading to the Convention Center. ( The hotel room was randomly exceptionally warm all night, too. There was no explanation for it. We ended up opening the window, to near zero degree temperatures, and that reduced the room temperature to 'comfortable'. ) I end up getting a deck check, and end up being advised to get new sleeves. ( They passed, technically, but a few were borderline, and I had no extras beyond my 60. ) Chris Derocher ends up bailing me out with a set of the Cities Mega Gengar sleeves. Thanks again!
This is the list I wound up registering.
Metal ( FINAL )
- 4x Bronzor
- 3x Bronzong
- 2x Dialga EX
- 2x Heatran
- 1x Jirachi EX
- 2x Seismitoad EX
- 1x Aegislash EX
- 1x Cobalion EX
- 1x Mewtwo EX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x N-supporter
- 2x Lysandre
- 1x Skyla
- 1x Colress
- 2x AZ
- 1x Iris
- 4x VS Seeker
- 3x Switch
- 1x Escape Rope
- 3x Muscle Band
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 1x Computer Search
- 8x Metal Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
The initial changes had been to run Cobalion EX and Xerosic. Both of these cards were strong against Seismitoad EX which was on an upswing in popularity again. In addition to this, they allowed the deck to really pressure the Rainbow Energy found in Fairy Toolbox builds, so you can realistically keep them off their splash attackers fairly well. The deck, with it's Seismitoad plan, was just inherently strong against Seismitoad Slurpuff. Garbodor builds were much more tricky, because you really do need to lock them before they stick a tool so you can develop. The Xerosic does a lot of work there though.
I tested a bit against Fighting Bats, and found the matchup to be a bit closer than I had wanted. I really wanted to fit a second AZ into the deck while standing in line to register my deck list. I had spent a bit of time discussing the deck with Jason Klaczynski, who had used the archetype at a League Challenge a few weeks ago. He was not a fan of the Xerosic at all, but we had some slightly differing opinions on how to build the deck in the first place. He was using Keldeo EX and Float Stones, which I found to be clunky and unnecessary.
Anyways, the two spots I had considered cutting for the second AZ were the Xerosic, and the Mewtwo EX. I felt like Mewtwo was just a useful attacker against a lot of matchups and was another solid opener. I felt that added early game presence was going to matter over a long tournament like this. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure I would have liked to have had the Xerosic.
The tournament winds up getting 361 Masters, meaning we get 9 rounds of swiss on the first day, and 5 additional rounds of swiss on Sunday for the top 32 competitors. The general consensus was that 19 points was going to be the cut off for making day 2. It was the cut off for Fort Wayne earlier in the season, and that event had more players in Masters. A few 19 pointers were likely to miss, but a majority would end up making it in.
R1 vs Nathan w Fighting Focus Sash
Game One: Nathan was using a deck with Landorus EX, Hawlucha, and Lucario EX. I wound up in this awkward position all game where I had "good" hands, but in order to keep my plays strong, I'd have to discard a lot of viable attackers. My 2nd Seismitoad EX, my Mewtwo, and a Dialga EX had to get dumped for Ultra Balls and Computer Search. This left me fairly pinched on offensive options. I actually had a spot where I could have discarded a Mewtwo EX or another valuable card. He hadn't shown me a Lucario EX at this point, and I felt like Landorus and Hawlucha were just the better attackers in the matchup anyways. Mewtwo gets binned, and a turn or two later, down comes Lucario.
He played Focus Sash to deny one hit kills on his Pokemon, which immediately made me cringe and regret cutting the Xerosic, which would have done a lot of work. I actually ended up cheating this match, albeit obviously not intentionally. I was under the assumption that Cobalion's second attack would ignore the Focus Sash. I knew it ignores cards attached to the Pokemon, and it wasn't until discussing the match the next day when I was told that the Focus Sash effect would trigger after the attack ends, or something along those lines. That very well could have changed the outcome of this game, so I want to offer an apology to Nathan for misunderstanding that card interaction.
The game ends up coming down to me letting him take a KO and drop down to 1 prize using a full health Lucario EX, allowing me to use Heatran with an Iris to hit the 180 mark for my last two prizes. W
Game Two: Nathan gets a dead draw, without a Supporter, and I end up benching him very early into the game. After the first game, this is a bit of a relief because the matchup is actually pretty competitive. Iris does allow the deck to hit above 170 with it's attacks, but not until the mid game, and its a bit difficult to get to. This makes Landorus EX a pretty painful attacker to deal with. Hawlucha isn't too difficult to deal with, but if Landorus forces you to make desperate plays early on in the game, you can definitely find yourself in spots where it continues to apply a lot of additional pressure. I'll also be honest, I hadn't tested against any "traditional" Fighting 'Big Basic' builds, so I wasn't entirely sure how to approach the first game, as seen by some of my discard choices. I felt like had the match gone to three that I would have been much better equipped to navigate the game. W
1-0 ( 3 Points )
R2 vs Dale w Fighting Dusknoir ( 2-0 )
Game One: I've know Dale's family for the better part of a decade now, since he was a kid, and this was the first time I'd gotten to play against him ever. Hes playing Fighting Dusknoir. I'm able to get the KO on his only Duskull that game, and that really hinders how much damage he is able to deal. AZ does some work towards denying him prizes as well. He was somewhat ill prepared to deal with Seismitoad against me, as he was running Hypnotoxic Lasers and Virbank, actually. This lack of Fighting Stadium really made his Hawlucha a lot worse against me, especially if I was able to start Quaking Punch before he was able to play down a tool. It does give him a bit of extra damage against Heatran that he would otherwise not have, though. I really do feel like the key turning point of this game was taking him off of Dusknoir, which I think he relies on for a bit of reach. W
Game Two: This game was pretty much all about my Aegislash. His draw was pretty subpar, so I was just able to get ahead on prizes and on board. Especially with my AZ plan, if he falls behind like that, I'm not sure its likely he can come back. He needs to be the aggressor in the game, and since that didn't happen, it snowballs pretty quickly. The interesting question I'm left with here is whether or not he was running any Lysandre at all. I could see using Dusknoir as a replacement for it. I saw no copies over both games. I think I would still run at least 1 copy, since I think theres actually some real value to be able to stick dumb stuff up and then abuse Dusknoir's Ability and bench damage. W
2-0 ( 6 Points )
R3 vs Mike w Metal ( 2-1 )
Game One: Mike was also on Metal, and I was glad to see the deck doing well for someone besides just me! Outside of feeling like I knew the deck better than anyone else at the tournament, I also felt like most builds would not be running Iris, which is absolutely matchup breaking. If one player can get OHKOs on a Dialga and the other cannot, it isn't much of a game. Mike benched two Mewtwo, Keldeo EX, and Aegislash EX, and filled his bench with no Dialga at all. This seemed really odd to me. Anyways, I struggle to draw any Metal Energy which is a problem since he seems to be on the Aegislash approach. I actually just end up using Dialga with DCEs and a Band to Lysandre the Keldeo and both Mewtwos and ignore the Aegislash despite my start matching up pretty poorly against his Aegislash game plan. W
Game Two: I get a weak start, and he gets Aegislash rolling again, and gets ahead on prizes too quickly. I know how grindy these games can be, and after I Sycamore for a pretty weak 7, I feel like the game is effectively lost even if I could have fought the good fight for awhile. L
Game Three: I get a good start, and my biggest concern is just making sure the game ends before time is called. I get the Dialgas up with a lot of basic Metal this time, and this one plays out close to how the second one did, where my start was just a lot better than his, and it didn't feel terribly close. We discuss the deck a bit afterwards, and he was actually not even running any Dialga. He had multiple Mewtwo and Aegislash instead, which would in general put him in pretty bad shape for the mirror. W
3-0 ( 9 Points )
R4 vs Tyler w Yveltal Garbodor ( 0-2 )
Game One: He goes first, and opens with a Trubbish. I assume this means Garbodor Toad, which makes me wish I had my Xerosic still. Well, I felt like the matchup is fine for me anyways. Well, that debate is for later, as he slams down an Yveltal EX and a Darkrai EX. This, on the other hand, was a really bad matchup for me. I can beat Garbodor Seismitoad due to their low damage output and my own techs to beat them. I don't -need- Bronzong against them necessarily. I can beat Yveltal because of Bronzong. I have a very difficult time being able to keep up with decks putting substantial pressure on me without using Bronzong.
Anyways, he misses an energy drop, and leaves Trubbish active with a Float Stone on it, against my ...I want to say Heatran. I have a nice surprise for him, being able to Switch into Mewtwo EX and dropping a DCE on it to get the KO on Trubbish. Well, he has a nicer surprise for me, as he drops a 2nd Float Stone onto his Darkrai EX, and Ns. He draws his only Mewtwo, a DCE and the Muscle Band to get the return KO, leaving me in atrocious shape. I felt extremely good about my position if Mewtwo was left untouched there. The game lasts a few more turns, and I fail to offer much of an offense at all and scoop to give myself more time. I actually think I should have played this out, figuring that a draw here would be ideal. That is the one thing people don't see to really think about enough for Regionals. If you get paired vs your worst matchups, you don't have to play to win, you can play to draw. At a 3-0 start, a draw here would be vastly superior to a loss. L
Game Two: I have an ok start, but he gets the turn 2 Garbodor. I end up dead drawing on the third turn, and don't see a Supporter for the rest of the game. I would have been very hard pressed to win from that point on anyways, but the lack of draw really put the nail in the coffin for that game. L
3-1 ( 9 Points )
R5 vs Travis w Seismitoad Manectric ( 1-2 )
Game One: Travis is a good guy, and someone who is in my circle of friends but not someone I know very well on a personal basis, so it was great to get a chance to play against him. Part of me likes playing people I know because if I have to lose to someone, I'd rather I'm helping a friends performance in the process. Anyways, I get one of those awkward starts where I open Heatran against a Seismitoad player. I really like my Toad game when I get a Toad up, but you get these starts where you open something dumb and fat before you can can Switch into Toad. This means you either bench Toad and risk getting Hammered and Head Ringered. This is one of the reasons I wanted the 2nd AZ. It helps get out of spots like that. Anyways, my hand was traditionally "good" just not good at all against Toad decks. I know the game is a loss pretty quickly in, but I had only see Toads. I didn't know what type of deck it was. I stayed in long enough to try and get further information. He plays a Lightning Energy, so I know its Manectric Toad. I scoop once I see that, and move onto game two. L
Game Two: I get a sketchy start, but am able to actually get Bronzongs out and get energy into play. The game goes pretty long, and I win a game without the Quaking Punch approach so much. These don't happen too much, but his build seemed a bit more like a "fair" Toad deck than the Garbodor or Slurpuff builds. I wish I remembered more details about this, but I actually think my start left me expecting a loss. W
Game Three: I expect time to be called fairly quickly into this, so I expect it to end up in a draw. I'm going 2nd, and open with a Seismitoad EX. He of course opens with a Head Ringer for it. I have no Supporter, but I do have a DCE and a pair of Ultra Balls. The ideal play here is to search up the 2nd Toad, and Jirachi, DCE the Toad, and Sycamore. More ideal would be to then hit a Switching effect ( 3 Switch, 1 Rope, 1 CPU to hit it ) and Quaking Punch anyways. I could take an oddly conservative approach and Jirachi for AZ. Well, the debate was irrelevent because Jirachi was prized. I never see a Supporter all game, and get benched within ten minutes, unable to even force the draw. Oops! L
3-2 ( 9 Points )
R6 vs Yakira w Fighting Crobat ( 2-0 )
Game One: I had done a bit of testing against this matchup, and while I felt favored, it was a close matchup. She gets a pretty fast start, and I opened Dialga, which is really unfortunate to have. I'm able to keep up fairly well offensively, but unable to get an early Toad which is what I wanted. This matchup USUALLY revolves around me sticking a Heatran up when they don't have a lot of Bat uses available on the next turn. She actually ran MILTANK, which really, really messes that approach up. One Crobat puts Heatran in OHKO range of a Banded Cow. Previously, Heatran was extremely difficult to answer. Hawlucha did nothing to it, and Landorus's base damage was 30. Even with a Band and a Strong energy, that requires 2 Crobats for a KO. I also have no particularly great attacker to retaliate with that isn't very energy demanding. I'm able to keep things closer than I thought I could, hitting an N, hoping she misses an energy drop and thus the attack. If that happens, I have the KO the next turn, but an energy kills me. She hits the Colress for 9, but miraculously misses the energy, giving me the win. I ask how many she had left, and apparently she only had 2 left in what was roughly a 20 card deck, so I guess it wasn't wildly unlikely, but it sure felt like it was. W
Game Two: The first game was really what stood out to me. I think the second game she struggled to get out as many Zubats against me, never hit the Miltank when I did go Heatran. The game still was kind of close, but not nearly as much so as the first one. Part of this was me knowing Miltank was a thing and not assuming a Heatran was going to get me at least 2 easy prizes. I remember her getting a KO on a Bronzor with Hammerhead and a Golbat power on the 2nd turn, but Seismitoad keeping the Landorus in check from there. Aegislash did a bit of work too, but mainly more the threat of it keeping Strong Energy a liability than me just leading with it. W
4-2 ( 12 Points )
R7 vs John? w Donphan
Game One: My opponent was on the "Michigan Donphan" list as I call it, which is pretty much the same list I use after having played against it. It is just 4 Hawlucha, 4-4 Donphan, and 4 Robo Substitutes. My memory here is also really, really poor. Donphan games get super grindy and long, generally playing out similarly so they blur pretty badly. This game I open pretty poor, and I'm getting pretty run over early on. The only thing really helping me out is he had two discard a pair of Donphan early, meaning I only had to kill two of them to put him down to Hawluchas, meaning Heatran was able to take over. He ends up getting a Wreck on my Heatran, but I'm able to get the return KO with Mewtwo. You'd be surprised how often the Mewtwo ends up being a counter-Wreck play in this matchup. Once I get him off of Donphans, Hawlucha is easy enough to play around. W
Game Two: I get a quick Quaking Punch with a Band, and am able to take out a few Phanpy. Toad drops to Hawluchas, of course, but I'm able to power up Aegislash in the process, which is tough to take down if it gets up unmolested. Again, I don't remember a ton of details here, just that the first game was really close, and I remember the second one being a lot more comfortable. I also remember acknowledging in my head that if the game started off poorly I would concede for a game three, as I really needed a win, not a draw this round. W
5-2 ( 15 Points )
R8 vs Mike? w Seismitoad Slurpuff ( 2-0 )
Game One: Alright, at this point, names really, really began to blur to me, because it was getting pretty late into the day. This was effectively a win and in for me, assuming I could get an ID in the final round. On one hand, I was actually of the mindset where "worst case scenario" a t64 finish would still be 15 CP, which is something. I really wanted to lock up top 32 though. This game started with a Quaking Punch-off, but I had to try and build up something else because he built a Suicune on his bench. I had avoided benching Bronzongs prior to this because I didn't want t get one Lysandre'd, so I was somewhat ill prepared to build attackers super quickly. Cobalion was my go to solution. Most of my efforts prior to that revolved around switching between my Toads to keep myself out of Grenade Hammer range. I was actually a bit too slow at building other attackers, as I was way too conservative at a certain point. Cobalion answers the Suicune, and the game devolved past the Quaking Punch war, as he tries to close the game out with Grenade Hammers, but my damage output is too high once I can actually start using my Items again and I win a game that takes what I assume is a half hour. W
Game Two: Knowing how long these games go, my plan is to just not lose early. I get my Seismitoad up early, and get a Band on it before he gets a tool on his. I end up powering up Aegislash on my bench too, and while my plan was to just not lose before time is called, I actually end up winning a pretty easy game 2 in about 15-20 minutes. W
6-2 ( 18 Points )
R9 vs ??? w Manectric Landorus ( ID )
At 18 points, and starting 3-0, I felt like I was going to be pretty much a lock to make top 32 with a draw. I sit down at my table, waiting for my opponent to show up. He walks up, and asks for the draw. I happily accept, and we wait for the match slip to be brought over to sign. After filling it out and turning it in, we discuss what decks we were on. He was on Mega Manectric Landorous, which strikes me as a really difficult deck for me to beat. I mentioned before how Landorus EX was a pretty obnoxious card for my deck. It in and of itself isn't going to win the matchup against me, but when paired with other cards which are troublesome, it adds up. Mega Manectric EX is by far the worst card for me to play against not named Pyroar. I have to be an underdog in this matchup, but in all honesty, the odds are I could have won one of the first two games and been able to force a draw out of it anyways. That is a bit of a problem with the fifty minute time limit. Even if one player is favored 65-35, it isn't too unlikely that the underdog can win -one- of the first two games, and then have the third one end incomplete. None the less, I think most of the 18 point players going into the 9th round were far more interested in just securing a day two berth than gambling by trying to pick on favorable matchups. D
6-2-1 ( 19 points )
The final standings go up, and I end up as the 29th Seed. A decent amount of 19 point players actually wound up missing, which really goes to show how bad everyone is at evaluating the cut off for these events. The amount of draws that happen really throws a difficult to predict wildcard into things. I had come into the event aiming to make top 32. I had no idea about anything for Expanded, so I felt I really lacked the ability to push all the way into the top 8 of the event. Still, top 32 would grant me 30 more Championship Points and 24 boosters to sell to help offset the cost of travel to the event.
The tournament ended at 11 pm, and I was absolutely exhausted. Myself, Louis, Carl, and David go out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, and end up getting back to the hotel at about 2. I manage to wind down and fall asleep around 3, netting another 4 hours of sleep before waking up Sunday morning to roll on down to the Convention Center to play some Expanded.
I'll be the first to admit I hadn't even given thought to what to play when I had fallen asleep. I was seriously considering just scooping every round of the day and hanging out with my friends. If I did so, I was going to build the famous PTCGO "Combee" deck for my own entertainment. "Sadly" I decided at the last moment to actually build a real deck. We were supposed to have our deck lists ready to turn in at 8:30, and as of 8:15 I had a pile of cards strewn out over a bench trying to throw together a basic Yveltal deck. I have never played a single game of Expanded by this point, so I knew I wanted to play something proactive and aggressive. I don't know what decks are popular and exactly how they interact, so I didn't really want to have to rely on play skill to bail me out of games. I think too many people overstate their nature ability when it comes to a tournament, expecting to just be able to always outplay people and go with very complicated, interactive decks. This is a pretty terrible mindset to have. If you haven't put a lot of games in with the format, I don't care how good fo a player you are, you are still underprepared, and should take that into account when chosing a deck for the event.
Here is the terrible list I wound up registering. Do not use this as a list for which you should use in Expanded. IN FACT, use this as a list to AVOID if you have any upcoming Expanded events.
- 3x Yveltal EX
- 1x Yveltal
- 2x Darkrai EX
- 1x Keldeo EX
- 1x Jirachi EX
- 1x Mr. Mime
- 1x Spiritomb
- 2x Seismitoad EX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x N-supporter
- 1x Colress
- 1x Skyla
- 1x Computer Search
- 2x Lysandre
- 4x VS Seeker
- 1x Max Potion
- 3x Dark Patch
- 2x Energy Switch
- 3x Muscle Band
- 3x Virbank City Gym
- 4x Hypnotoxic Laser
- 3x Ultra Ball
- 1x Battle Compressor
- 7x Darkness Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
Despite acknowledging this deck was pretty bad, let me at least go over the thought process for the numbers. If you look at the deck, it has a pile of "cards which are good in Yveltal decks" and most of the numbers are pretty reasonable for what you would expect for the respective cards. That doesn't necessarily make everything gel together well, and in this case, they didn't. This is more or less what you'd get from making a rough starting point list, with a lot of the problems being worked out with even a few hours worth of testing.
Lets go over the Pokemon.
3 Yveltal EX: Pretty much the accepted count in all Dark builds. Yveltal EX is your primary attacker, but you really don't ever need four of them.
1 Yveltal: This is you non-EX attacker, and a means to get extra energy into play. It is one of my favorite cars in Standard Yveltal, where I run 2-3 copies. In this case, Dark decks get Dark Patch, which does a lot to make this card less necessary. The other non-EX I considered was actually Bouffalant, but since I only ran 2 Energy Switch, I felt like not being able to power it out in one turn reliably made it less appealing. I also hadn't played with Bouffalant in this type of deck in a long time, so I wasn't really comfortable theorycrafting how it would perform. Yveltal, on the other hand, was much easier to evaluate as being useful.
2 Darkrai EX: Darkrai is a much more reliable attacker now that we have Dark Patch back. With a lot of hyped cards going into the event being weak to Lighting, I had to expect players to be running some Lightning Pokemon. Having a strong attacker with a different weakness felt important. The big rumbling I did take from the first day of the tournament regarding Expanded was that a lot of the better players were high on Crobat for the tournament. ( The deck won the event, and placed three copies into top 8, so it wasn't just hype. ) Players were also talking about Plasma as being a powerful play, partially due to a supposed strong game against Crobat. ( I cannot say for sure, having never played the matchup. ) Yveltal decks are always popular, as well. All of those decks had Pokemon weak to Lightning, and in Plasma's case, also ran Lightning Pokemon with Thundurus EX.
1 Keldeo EX: I like the card with Darkrai's Ability in the first place, but outside of basic synergy, it also helps cover a few other potential matchup problems. At Fort Wayne, I knew there was some Donphan Accelgor deck. I didn't know too much about it, but I figured Keldeo should be good, to a degree, against some of the Accelgor decks. I didn't want to overvalue it in those matchups because it can be picked off fairly easily, but it does offer some strength there. Beyond this, if Seismitoad decks did pop up ( Two Slurpuff Toad builds made top 8 ) then it would give me some protection from the Lasers even while under Quaking Punch. If Donphan showed up, Keldeo could be a makeshift attacker in that match as well.
1 Jirachi EX: I am not explaining this inclusion guys.
1 Mr. Mime: If Crobat was going to be popular, then Mr. Mime seemed like a pretty decent bit of protection against Skill Dive and Hammer Heads. I wasn't sure if the Plasma decks would run Kyurems or not, but if they did, it mitigated damage from Frost Spear. It also would stop Raikou EX from Ray Eels, hamper Night Spear vs Dark decks, and block the bench damage off of Megalo Cannon. Mainly this was against Crobat though.
1 Spiritomb: VG is another deck that had put up results in Expanded tournaments previously, and one that seemed like a safe "default" for a lot of players. I generally don't mind being on the Yveltal side of this matchup anyways, but I feel like Tomb should really lock the matchup up.
2 Seismitoad EX: This card ends up serving the same role as it does in Standard. This again covers the role of an attacker with a different weakness, while also being a nice disruptive card. On one hand, I felt like maybe I could get by without the card and really focus on being a more streamlined aggressive build of the deck. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I wasn't quite sure what sort of dumb, degenerate decks could exist or get played. I felt like Quaking Punch could be quite good against a lot of the item based engines which could show up that I hadn't thought up. In those matchups, I felt like having a 2nd Toad to continue the lock if they did KO the first one seemed important.
0 Sableye: Sableye was one of the big cards in the old Dark decks which was included in most lists, and a notable omission in here. I wanted to be fast, and Sableye doesn't really fit with that. VS Seeker also gave you a lot more reliable of an end game, so the safety of Junk Hunt is less necessarily. I don't know if running 0 copies was right here, but if I ran any at all, it wouldn't be more than one.
7 Dark Energy: I stated at 8. A few players near by while I was building who had been offering input suggested that 7 was fine. 7 is not fine. 7 was too low. I really wanted an additional Dark Energy all tournament. I was hoping that Dark Patch and Battle Compressor to discard some would end up compensating for the lower count, but I found myself missing attachments quite often, and it was really just frustrating. I had games where I felt I should have been able to pull far ahead be far too close due to missed drops.
4 Double Colorless Energy: Self explanatory.
4 Prof. Sycamore: Self explanatory.
4 N: Self explanatory.
1 Colress: This is your best late game Supporter, and I like having a lone copy due to how it interacts with VS Seeker, Jirachi EX, and the Battle Compressor.
1 Skyla: Yes, I'm on the same general engine I use in Standard here, but I like it so much that when backed against a wall with no time to test other alternatives, I'm just going to stick with it. I like running a toolbox of trainers as it is, and again, this is a deck with DCE and Computer Search, so the card offers you a lot more opportunities to reliably hit those DCEs. Now, this engine is really short sightened and not adventurous. I don't know if there are better Random Receiver or Bike engines available, but if I am going with a more Supporter focused build, I feel confident with going with what I am used to here.
1 Computer Search: This is my default Ace Spec for aggressive decks. Well, really, this is just my default Ace Spec for almost any deck these days. VS Seeker and Trump Card pretty much stripped Dowsing Machine of a lot of its value. With how important DCE is in a lot of games ( Also it is the hardest card to search up as a Non-Basic Energy ) I really want to use Comp. Search in decks using it.
2 Lysandre: This number seems to be pretty standard as well. I know some people like going with 3 of them, often at the expense of the 4th VS Seeker. I feel like half the reason is just to be able to draw into them more reliably, but also because you can get around Quaking Punch better. I don't feel like the first reason is justification enough to pull the trigger on the change without the second factoring in as well. I had no idea how much Toad to expect in Expanded, so the 2 count seemed pretty elementary to me.
4 VS Seeker: Self explanatory.
1 Max Potion: This ended up being the only real "one of" Item I ran for Skyla, but I felt like it could swing a lot of games for me. I also wanted some healing cards for Crobat as well. I was hoping ( albeit somewhat blindly ) that this with Mr. Mime would be enough to help that matchup. I also considered a Pokemon Center Lady as it would help there, and also give me a bit of protection against Accelgor and Toad decks.
3 Dark Patch: I was torn between 3 copies of this card and 4, and 3 played pretty well! It makes sense that 4 is just right, so I could just be dumb on this, but I wanted to squeeze in too many counter cards, and had to make space somewhere. At some point during the build, I lost sight of keeping this streamlined enough, and I think this is a pretty good indication of that.
2 Energy Switch: When discussing the list with players after the event, this is the card that player seems the most meh about. I love Energy Switch, and feel it does a ton to help the deck flow. I could see going down to only a single copy, but I really like what it offers. It is another card that helps power up Darkrai for matchups when you want it. I also like that its one of the few ways to help get a turn one attack off with an Yveltal EX. I think if you wanted that "gimmick" you would want to focus more on it, so 2 may be the most awkward count for this card. I also think, in retrospect, you shouldn't run a copy of this card before you have all 4 Dark Patch. I would want it included anyways, but only after that quota is filled.
3 Muscle Band: I was torn between 3 and 4 of these. I still don't know which is better. I was tight on space, though, so I went with 3.
3 Virbank City Gym: I wanted to be able to win stadium wars, while also having my early game Lasers be as impactful as possible. I was convinced to go to 3 over 2 by others input prior to turning the list in, and I don't hate it, but I do feel like there are other cards I need to add before I look at the third copy.
4 Hypnotoxic Laser: Self explanatory.
3 Ultra Ball: Normally, this is an automatic 4 of in all of my decks. I made a last minute cut to one of them to make room for...
1 Battle Compressor: This functions as another discard outlet for Dark Energy early on, while also making VS Seeker better with your Supporters. I run a lot of very specific matchup based cards, so it also lets you purge the deck of those so you don't draw any of them. This may be too fancy as a one of. There could be a pretty nice gimmick build using it with a lot of Dark Patches and Energy Switch to aim for a turn one Yveltal or something similar.
The big issue I also saw was a lack of Switching type effects. I was always a turn behind attacking when I wanted to be able to. I had a lot of bad starters, and no good way to get them benched without using an energy attachment to do so. Maybe the Energy Switch just looked better because I always had straggling energy leftover on random Pokemon from having to retreat them.
Anyways, I was pretty tired at this point, as I did not get a good night's sleep at all on Saturday night. Friday the floor was extra kind to me, but not Saturday. I'm lucky I remember all of my opponents' names here, and I'll be even luckier if I remember all of the details to the games correctly. This is me doing my best to piece everything back together, so if I get any of the details wrong, I apologize in advance.
R10 vs Ross w Ray Eels
Game One: I get paired against Ross, who is from Texas, and it turns out he is on Ray Eels. Well, the first thing that goes through my mind as he takes his turn is "wow, his engine is so much better than mine" as he opened with a Rayquaza EX and just slammed 3 Tynamo onto his bench. He got a Keldeo EX out pretty quickly with a Float Stone on it, and then a Raikou EX. My start wasn't bad, but I couldn't get a meaningful attack off on the second turn. I end up leading with Darkrai EX which he keeps trying to paralyze with Raikou, not wanting to expose his Rayquaza. I'm honestly just pretty far behind, but his conservative approach with Raikou actually gives me time to start to develop my side of the field more. I try and get to the point where I keep his Rayquaza in "check" by having a return KO on my bench, and thus forcing him to be able to power a new one up after the KO after an N. He draws a Supporter in response to that play though, and gets the KO, and I lose a fairly drawn out game. L
Game Two: This game plays out somewhat similarly. I really wanted to be able to get Toad up early to Quaking Punch at some point during any of these games, but I never had a draw that cooperated for that. This time he is only able to get 2 Eels out, and it felt more like I was dictating the pace of the game. He got the Keldeo Float Stoned again, but this time, the final exchange resulted in him needing that 3rd Eel to get enough energy in play to get the return KO on me, and he wasn't able to dump four out in one turn. W
Game Three: We set up for game 3, and my start is again poor, and I miss an energy drop. He sets up and gets his turn one Beach, and a near full bench, but time is called. We both have 6 prizes left, and there is no way for either of us to complete the game, so it ends in a draw. Based on start differences, I would have assumed he would have won this game fairly comfortably. I didn't think time was anywhere close to being called, so I was a bit surprised by it, which just goes to show how terrible my sense of time management has gotten this year. D
6-2-2 ( 20 Points )
R11 vs JW w Mega Manectric Drifblim
Game One: I get paired vs one of the Michigan guys who I see at a lot of the local tournaments. I know both him and Chris had made top 32, and both were using a dedicated Mega Manectric deck. They made a metagame call with the deck, and I think they both ended up doing fairly poorly with it, and I know by the end of this round they seemed to be a bit disgruntled about the choice. None the less, he gets a few Manectrics into play early against me, and I'm pretty disheartened because that card seems like a huge problem for me. Time for Darkrai and Seismitoad to step up their game, I guess, right?
Anyways, game one goes pretty poorly for me, as his deck functions as intended and mine doesn't draw nearly well enough to overcome the type disadvantage I'm facing. In the end, I do end up keeping it competitive, but I'm not really positioned to win at any point. The game doesn't take too long, though, and its off to game 2 with plenty of time left. L
Game 2: This time, he starts off pretty slow, as he opens with Drifloons, and missed a turn one Manectric. This lets be get pretty far ahead on board, and pick off both Drifloon before he gets his first attack off. This puts me in a pretty good position as needing 2 Manectric KOs is a LOT easier to pull off than tacking on that third. I get the first kill, and I have the win in hand with a Lysandre if he doesn't N me. He does N me. I'm a bit dumb, and end up Ultra Balling for a Jirachi...which had previously been discarded. It was even more embarrassing because I had checked the discard pile to make sure I had a Lysandre left in deck, confirmed I did, but failed to notice the Jirachi chilling out down there. It was the first of many indicators that I was not anywhere near my A game and I was really tired. I had a pretty bad headache as well at this point, even though I had snagged a pair of asprin from my friend Matt before round 1. This mistake should have cost me, but JW makes a pretty bad mistake the next turn by well, decking himself with a Juniper, not checking how many cards he had left. I'm pretty sure I could have won it anyways from there, but that was just a sloppy game, and not one I'm very proud to have played from my end. W
Game 3: This time, I get a good start and am able to lead with Seismitoad EX and Lasers. I actually am able to make sure I have the attackers I want in this game. He is forced to bench a Jirachi EX as well, which gives me an easy end game Lysandre target. I think the lack of Switching type effects really hinders how effective Seismitoad is in the deck. You have to attach an "unnecessary" Dark to it to retreat it ever, and its hard to get it active on the first turn too. This was one of my better draws, and his wasn't particularly great. I guess it was a bit of the inverse of the first game. I still felt like I had to be pretty fortunate to pull out this match, and despite a win, I still had no confidence in this deck. W
7-2-2 ( 23 Points )
R12 vs Poet w VG w Raichu ( 1-1 )
Game One: Poet was on VG. He misses an energy drop turn one, and I miss one the next turn to not be able to capitalize. This game goes pretty well at first, as I take a pretty stable lead, and get down to 2 prizes vs his 4, despite me prizing Spiritomb. Midgame is when I see the Pikachu, and have to try and re-evaluate how that is going to change how the matchup plays out. Anyways, I have the win in hand with a Lysandre to kill his Jirachi EX, but he Ns me to two. His field at this point is pretty barren, so it turns into this awkward stalling point, where I'm really low on energy left ( I was far ahead and played very sloppy, discarding too many cards recklessly figuring I couldn't really lose. ) He kept Red Signaling up Pokemon to stall while he attached. I had a DCE in hand to retreat, and two Pokemon capable of doing 60 damage on my bench. ( I had put 30 damage on Jirachi EX with Night
Spear earlier, as I used Darkrai to answer a Raichu. ) I had 6 cards left in deck, one being a VS Seeker and a second one being the Lysandre. Both cards would have had to be in the bottom 3 of my deck to have lost that game, but it shouldn't have been close if I hadn't been dumb. W
Game Two: This game started off pretty close, and he was forced to put a DCE on his Virizion to Emerald Slash. He has a Pikachu on the bench, and I think I'm in pretty good shape, as he either needs a 2nd DCE or to Energy Switch off his Genesect ( leaving it at a lone grass, and I assume to fit Raichu he didn't run Colress Machine ) which would put me in a great spot if I got the KO back on Raichu. I wasn't sure how thick his Raichu line was after game one. I'd only seen 1 Pikachu. A 1-1 splash was possible, but a 2-2 line was more likely. EVen then, due to how the deck plays, I was unsure how many DCE it ran. One seemed possible, and that could have been wasted on Virizion. Anyways, he has at least a second copy and hits it, and KOs my Yveltal. This puts me in a really bad spot. I'm able to put myself in an ok spot where he needs to get another Raichu at the very end of the game, and he Trump Cards one back in and Ultra Balls for it to get the final KO on me to win. It turns out his 2nd Raichu was his final prize, too. L
Game Three: Game two played out well for me, but the Raichus were just really impactful against me. I felt like I was catching decent breaks and still just being a bit ill prepared for how his deck was built. Both of those games seemed to have gone quite long. I noticed Poet was doing the old methodical pile shuffle between games which is fairly indicative of trying to eat up time for set up. I don't mean this negatively. That is a perfectly appropriate thing to do. It doesn't go beyond the alloted time for set up, and it assures you don't rush through it and take too much less than that. Now, more than likely it was going to wind up a draw anyways. I estimated it at being under 10 minutes left in the round. If my opponent was going to play methodically, which seemed to be the case, then I doubted the game would finish. I ask if he just wants to take the draw, and he accepts. D
7-2-3 ( 24 Points )
R13 vs Owen w Empoleon
Game One: I get paired down to one of the local Ohio players who had made day 2, who really wanted to play Empoleon. Unfortunately, the choice hadn't played out too well for him. He also prefaced this with a lack of confidence, making sure to let me know this was one of his worst matchups. Game one, he gets a pair of Empoleon out quickly as my deck does its special slow start approach. Anyways, it ends up not mattering, as my first yveltal EX sweeps through both Empoleon, and his deck stumbles somehow and he isn't able to get another one out before I sweep through it. W
Game Two: This game is easier, as he has a dead hand. I get a quick kill on a Duskull, and he never plays a Supporter or gets an Empoleon out. W
8-2-3 ( 27 Points )
R14 vs Connor w Metal
I get paired against Connor, who is at 29 points. The cut off has all 30 point players making it in to top 8, exactly. 28 points secures top 16. Connor was using a Metal deck, which I did not want to face at all. I felt like my deck was not good, and that I had been playing atrociously all day long, getting fortunate draws and fairly illegitimate wins. To top it off, I felt fairly awful, as my head was killing me. I could gamble and try to win the match and make top 8, but felt like a pretty big underdog to win. A draw would put him into top 8, and me a lock into top 16, netting me 45 Championship Points and a whole box of Primal Clash. I felt like the extra 15 CP would be a pretty important pick up in my race towards Boston. In a position like this, I feel very conservative. I don't blame anyone who feels like the play there was to go big or go home, but I'm at a point in my career in this game where I don't really care too much about needing a Regionals win to my name. My goal is to make Worlds, and Regionals is just math towards that to me. D
8-2-4 ( 28 Points )
My friends Sorina and Ray got 10th place at the other two Regionals this weekend, and both felt disappointed in missing top 8. I view my tenth place finish as overacheiving. I guess the big thing I took from this tournament is that my suspicious was somewhat confirmed. It seems like a majority of players are equally ill prepared for the format as everyone seemed to share my befuddled mindset for day 2.
Anyways, I wanted to congratulate Jason Klaczynski, Brit Pybas and Brad Curcio for making top 8 at the event, and more important, I wanted to congratulate my boy Andrew Mahone for taking the whole thing down using Crobat Landorus on both days!
Now to look to the future a bit! I'll be attending Regionals in Florida, featuring Primal Clash. I know some people have complained about Regionals not all featuring the same card pool, but I personally enjoy it. It adds a degree of excitement and unpredictability that has really made the event seem even more special. Unfortunately for me, this means having to test for two different cardpools. For players only attending Florida, they got to test exclusively with Primal Clash legal. This gives some people a bit of an edge. I'm not intimidated though! I only got home less than 2 days ago, and while exhausted from the whole trip ( I slept like 14 hours on Monday. ) I am ready to dive head first into Primal Clash. I don't have any lists tested yet, but I will go over what I consider to be some of the most likely archetypes to be prepared for.
First, lets look at the decks which ended the pre-Primal Clash format on top.
Crobat: This deck did really well in St. Louis, and with the additional hype being a front runner in Expanded, you have to imagine Crobat being a real roleplayer in the testing gauntlet players throw together for the new format. There are two popular builds, being the Fighting one which seems to be the flavor of choice, and the Wobbuffet abusing Psychic build. I know Worlds Quarter Finalist Dustin Zimmerman played the Psychic build to a top 64 finish in St. Louis, which at the very least suggests there is merit to it as an archetype still. Depending on what decks flourish in the new format, it is very possible to pair Crobat with new partners too. With a lot of the hyped cards in Primal Clash being weak to Grass, you could even look into running Virizion Genesect with the Bats. I got paired against Zach Zamora on PTCGO and he was on a deck like that a few weeks ago. It was pretty interesting! I think the important thing to take from this is that Crobat itself is extremely powerful, and doesn't commit you to any one type. It may struggle a bit with the fact that a lot of the new Mega Pokemon have high hit points, which could stress the damage output a bit. This makes me feel like picking and choosing the type(s) of your supporting Pokemon could be even more important than usual.
Donphan: I feel like Donphan got weaker and weaker as the format evolved. None the less, I feel like it was still a tier 1 archetype, even if on the lower end of that bracket. Donphan is another deck which may not want to deal with a lot of higher HP Pokemon. Crobat being resistant and able to really pressure the bench is a problem. The solution to the Seismitoad decks before were to use Hawlucha swarms, but as Toads started to prepare for mirror match, cards like Pokemon Center Lady and even Cassius started to get more and more play. Some builds even run Super scoop Up, which puts further pressure on the Hawlucha plan. Some of the Yveltal decks took the Super Scoop Up approach as well. Some of the Fairy decks adopted Hard Charms, which alongside Max Potions, really does make it difficult for Donphan to secure enough kills. The way I put it there makes the deck seem really bad, but it is still just so inherently powerful and synergistic that it is still competitive. The problem now is, one of the more hyped cards out of the new set is Primal Kyogre, which seems like a bit of a nightmare for Donphan. The Fairy deck gets Mega Gardevoir now too. It seems like more and more weapons are being introduced to the format which make this archetype look less and less appealing.
Virizion Genesect: This is a deck that actually saw very little play in St. Louis, from what I saw. ( Despite the fact that the round 1 feature match on stream was VG mirror match! ) The deck is still going to be pretty strong. I actually think it could be much better positioned post Primal Clash though! A lot of the new Pokemon have a weakness to Grass which the deck can exploit. Kyogre and Groudon are both weak to Grass, and a Deoxys'd G-Booster takes care of Mega Gardevoir. Pyroar gets even worse as a deck. I feel like Donphan is a rough-ish matchup for VG and gets worse. Crobat is a problem, and I feel like, at least until it can find the right configuration, it gets weaker too. Most decks it struggled against lose ground, and it gains a bunch of good matchups. As much as I dislike this deck, I feel like it is really one of the stronger draws.
Seismitoad Variants: I feel like Toad becomes a lot weaker with the new set. Alpha Barrier really hinders the deck's damage output. I feel like Gardevoir Fairy decks can just overload the field with Fairy Energy using Geomancy and sweep a few Toads with a Mega Gardevoir. I mentioned before how VG seems to gain ground as well, which is a problem. A Pokemon like Primal Kyogre is good at bricking the energy removal cards Toad uses with its Trait. Garbodor does nothing to prevent that either. Kyogre does seem like it is pretty bad against Laser, but I'm sure it could run cards to counter that. I feel like Seismitoad is very much a "control" style of deck, and in general, those are decks that want to be able to be tuned against a known field. Toad is a bit different because of how disruptive it is, letting it just pick on clunky decks, but I feel like people respect the deck enough that they will test vs it and if Toad is unsure what it needs to be able to beat, it will be worse for it.
Yveltal: Never count the dark decks out. Whenever someone thinks the type is ill situated for a format, it finds a way to be incredible anyways. Well, this was more a rant about the seemingly endless reign of Darkrai EX than anything else. Still, very few decks can compete with the damage output and efficiency of Yveltal EX. None the less, I do see Yveltal facing new challenges. It is harder for Yveltal to hit OHKOs on Mega or Primal Pokemon. 170 HP is also becoming more dangerous for an EX. Primal Kyogre EX can get a OHKO with a Muscle Band. Mega Gardevoir may only have 210 HP ( Only ) but it is also resistant to Dark. It just feels like Yveltal faces threats from different angles and I'm not sure what direction I would want to take it in order to try and combat all of them. It is odd that while Yveltal is inherently such a proactive card that the decks featuring it often have to be fairly reactive to what the metagame looks like to stay at the top end of tier 1.
Manectric EX: I feel like both Manectric certainly gets worse with the new format. I feel like the card was already getting beat up on by the end of the prior format as Fighting made a resurgence, and Seismitoad re-reared its ugly frog head. I feel like Lightning doesn't really exploit too much that I expect to be popular, and the "EX two hitting things" is NOT an approach that I see being really effective coming up. On top of that, the new Megas have a lot of damage output, and are able to actually OHKO Mega Manectric EX, so any type of defensive healing builds built on looping between Mega Manectrics is now a bit more questionable too. Maybe a build could pop up that abuses the ability to power up Mega Pokemon. Maybe you could even use it with Mega Gardevoir in a Fairy "mini-Toolbox" where you can run it to also help put Fairy Energy into play. It does give you a bit of a weapon against Metal decks, which are obviously otherwise a nightmare. It may just be too much of a hit to your overall consistency to make that sacrifice though.
Fairy Decks: Well, this is going to be cheating a bit. While this is an "old" archetype, it seems pretty universally accepted that this deck will "upgrade" to using Mega Gardevoir EX. I feel like the straight Fairy deck before was lackluster ( Despite Brit doing very well in St. Louis with it ) due to a bit of a damage cap. Mega Gardevoir gives you the critical mass of damage I want out of the deck. I think it still struggles against VG, and obviously against Metal as well. It is hard to tell for sure on its matchups, because you really have this core of Aromatisse, Xerneas, and now Mega Gardevoir, and a whole lot of flexibility beyond this. I actually think that this archetype is the default "best deck", and therefore the deck to beat. This doesn't seem like much of a gamble to claim, as it seems to be the general initial consensus.
Metal Decks: Well, the real question for this deck is whether or not you want to embrace the new Mega Aggron EX or not. I feel like in a lot of matchups, you simply don't want to use Aggron. It helps against decks you really need to OHKO, and seems inferior to not running it's clunky shell against everything else. The only Pokemon you struggle to KO otherwise is Mega Pokemon. Gardevoir is easy to deal with currently. Manectric seems to be in decline. Kyogre is either "extremely good" or "not good enough", to be determined. I guess you'd need to have an answer to opposing Aggrons if it caught on though, which is annoying. The problem with Aggron is you need say, a 2-2 line of Aggron. 1-2 Spirit Link. Plus Mr. Mime and/or Victini. That ends up being a whole lot of space. Now, go back and look at my list I have, and tell me what you cut to fit that. Now, you probably have to actually take a fairly different approach entirely, but it seems like this leaves you pretty vulnerable to some of the most disruptive or extremely aggressive decks. Still, being able to pick on what may be some of the top decks may make it worthwhile enough. I hate the card in theory, but I'll certainly test it because I don't mind the deck being able to just roll over the aforementioned "frontrunner" for the format.
Now lets look at some of the decks that really focus on the new cards. Aggron and Gardevoir just update prior archetypes, so they'll be left out of the discussion here.
Camerupt EX: There are two ways to really accelerate this card's energy. Emboar is going to be the primary one, and then you also have Blacksmith. My initial idea is to just take the old Rayboar/Delphox shell, and replace Rayquaza with Camerupt ( the damage rate ends up similar ) and sub out Beach for Scorched Earth. You get the benefit of not needing to run any Lightning Energy and can get to run all Fire to smooth everything out. You also get the Blacksmith back up plan for games where they do manage to take you off of Emboar. Lets also look at some of the initial matchups. You are going to be good against VG. You should roll over Metal decks. You actually should just outclass Fairy decks at roughly the same speed. If Toad ends up weaker, that helps this deck, because that seems like your obvious natural enemy. Kyogre EX may not be as bad as "Hes a huge Water Type" would make you think. I assume both decks are about the same speed on average, and both should be able to chain KOs. I think the issue is if they can keep you off of Emboar. If not, I think the Camerupts come out on top. Really, I think I give the edge to just whoever goes first. Still, I think Camerupt looks to provide a very high variance experience because it should have a bunch of fantastic matches, and then a bunch of really, really difficult ones.
Sceptile Genesect: Ok, this is an alternative to the traditional VG build. I think Sceptile offers an interesting dynamic to the deck. For one, you can power a Genesect EX up in one turn with your attachment, it's ability, and a Colress Machine. You can also power a Virizion out of no where in a turn. The Ability also heals 30 damage, which seems like it could actually be a big deal in some matchups. Traditionally, Seismitoad has been a major problem for stage 2 Pokemon, but when the rest of your deck is Virizion Genesect, I'm not sure how much of a deal that is. The second problem facing stage 2s is that you get your basics picked off before they evolve. In this case, if they chase your Treecko, they ignore a Virizion which threatens Emerald Slash, and that seems really bad. On top of this, the one prize they get off of killing Treecko is actually irrelevent when they then have to kill 3 EX Pokemon. I really do think there is something here, and it is one of the decks I am most excited to test.
Primal Kyogre: This guy is a wildcard. After trying to brainstorm some super gimmicky Archie's Ace In The Hole engines and given up, it seems like the only approach for this is the simple streamlined one where you just naturally power up Primal Kyogre on turn three, and just keep washing your energy to benched Kyogres so you can keep looping them, while using healing. I feel like the problem here is that you don't have a lot of flexibility, so decks with game plans that beat you are hard to counter or adopt to. I'm also concerned that the damage output may end up being just short of what it needs to be, as silly as that sounds. If Mr. Mime sees a lot of play, cutting off Kyogre's "wave" so to speak seems really crippling against decks with Pokemon with 180 HP EXes. I guess you could actually run Hypnotoxic Lasers as Plus Powers to crack that mark though. I feel like Kyogre is one of the inherently most powerful cards printed in the set, and usually when Pokemon prints a "feature" Pokemon in a set, it ends up being very good. ( Ignore Gengar EX! ) On the other hand, the fact that Kyogre seems to be trading relatively poorly on PTCGO makes me think people who have tested it have been less than impressed. ( Yes, I am honestly citing that as a reason to be skeptical. )
Anyways, those are looking to make up the basis for the gauntlet I will be preparing to test for the new format. I wish I had more concise lists for this article, but I hope everyone understands with me having to compete in the older format over the past weekend. I've got to take it one step at a time after all! I'll actually try and post some updates in the comments for my article with my testing in the upcoming week or so, for people interested!
Also, I've been lucky to run into a lot of people telling me they read my articles online when I run into them at tournaments lately, and I love hearing that. ( Even more so, I hope these people like them even! ) I don't get to make it all the way down to Florida very often at all, so if you see me at the tournament, please come up and say hello! I'm excited to make it to a totally different part of the country to see a bunch of new players, as well as friends I don't get to see outside of Nationals or Worlds.
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