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Chris Fulop

An Introduction To The New Roaring Skies Metagame

I Discuss Three Brand New Archetypes Emerging From The Brand New Roaring Skies ...

05/04/2015 by Chris Fulop

I Discuss Three Brand New Archetypes Emerging From The Brand New Roaring Skies Expansion And The Impact Shaymin EX Will Have On The Game As A Whole!

Hello again! Pre Releases for Roaring Skies are now in the books, and players have turned their attention here in North America to the upcoming Regional Championships. The first few are going to remain the same Boundaries Crossed to Primal Clash format we are used to. ( Well, technically also we have the new Double Crisis cards, but really, the only impactful card in that "set" is Team Magma's Camerupt, as the rest of the cards seem pretty weak. I'll add that the full art EX cards look absolutely fantastic, though. ) After that, we get some Regionals featuring the brand new Roaring Skies expansion since the set will have been for sale for the necessary length of time for it to be tournament legal. Some sets look to add new decks, or update existing decks. I feel as if Roaring Skies will really turn the format on it's head, as it brings a ton of very powerful cards which will likely change how the game is played drastically.

While many players are still focused on the pre-Skies format, I've moved on to looking ahead to what the new cards are going to offer us. In my last article, I included a pair of lists working with the new Mega Rayquaza EX. That is still my personal "pet deck" of choice. Now that I've had some time to log some more games with the deck, I want to go into more detail about the archetype, and really address some of the problem cards it has to deal with. I've been brainstorming other new archetypes showcasing some of the new cards as well. At the moment, I am less interested in really updating existing archetypes than I am exploring some of the more dynamic new approaches Roaring Skies offers. Let me clarify a bit, actually. I guess "less interested" isn't the right way to put it. I am certainly interested in those updates. I am less focused on that aspect of testing though, because in order to really update an established stock list, you need to know what you have to beat, and the biggest changes made are based on the new players to the metagame. Thus, when new sets come out, I prefer to get a grasp on the new decks before I start to update older decks to adjust for their presence. For example, ( SPOILER! ) I really think Seismitoad decks will be very well positioned against a lot of the new cards. Shaymin EX paired with Item heavy engines have proven to be extremely abusive, and Quaking Punch is very powerful against those decks. I am confident some form of Seismitoad EX deck will be at the top of tier 1 decks, but I'll worry about testing different builds there once I know what I am trying to focus on beating.

Before I go into the new decks I've been testing, I wanted to recap the past two weekends I've spent playing Pokemon. I played in two Pre-Release events, and attended the Nick Bailey Open, held in Ashtabula, Ohio on May 2nd. The Nick Bailey Open was an event organized to help raise money to help pay for medical expenses for my friend and fellow Pokemon player Nick Bailey, who was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year. The event saw 40 Masters and 9 Seniors attend, and helped raise roughly 3,000 dollars towards Nick's expenses. I wanted to thank everyone involved in organizing the event for everything they did, and I wanted to thank everyone who showed up for doing so.


For Masters, after swiss, the standings looked like:

1.) Kirsten Sprague ( Seismitoad/Crobat )
2.) Brad Fishwick ( Fighting )
3.) Cori James ( Manectric/Seismitoad )
4.) Dave Kucken ( Yveltal )
5.) Chris Derocher ( Night March )
6.) Jimmy Pendarvis ( Seismitoad/Crobat )
7.) Justin Boughter ( Exeggcutor )
8.) Frank Serafinski ( Donphan )


After round 6, seeds 1-6 went to players who had at least 13 points, while Justin and Frank had strong enough tie-breakers to lock up the final 2 spots at 4-2 records.

In the Quarterfinals, we saw Frank's Donphan overtake Kirsten's Toads and Crobats to advance, while Chris's Night March deck was not enough to deal with Dave's Yveltal. Justin and his Exeggcutors beat Brad's Fighting types, while Pendarvis's Crobats and Seismitoads beat Cori's Toads and well...whatever type of animal thing a Manectric is supposed to be.

In the Semi-Finals, Jimmy beat Justin's Eggs, and Frank's Donphan deck beat Yveltal to make it into the finals. At the end of the day, Jimmy Pendarvis was able to defeat Frank Serafinski to take home the first place trophy at the Nick Bailey Open! Congratulations Jimmy, and to all of the other top 8 competitors.


For Seniors, with only 9 players, we had a cut to a top 4.

1.) Wesley ( Landorus/Crobat )
2.) Jaylin ( Manectric/Seismitoad )
3.) Alex ( Manectric/Crobat )
4.) Johnny ( Primal Kyogre )


Welsey defeated Johnny's Kyogre deck in the semifinals to advance to play against Jaylin's Manectrics and Seismitoads in the Finals of the event. In the end, Wesley's Fighting Crobat deck was able to overcome Jaylin's deck to take home the victory! Congratulations to Wesley, and to all of the top 4 competitors.

For those who would like to help support Nick and his family, donations are always welcome, and made possible through PayPal at staystrongnickbailey@gmail.com. I'm not usually the type of person to ask for these sort of things, but Nick is a great guy, and I encourage anyone who is able to help to do so.

As for my Pre-Releases, I attended the event held at Recess Games in North Olmsted, Ohio, my home town. I'm not the biggest fan of Pre-Release events, as I feel that the 30 dollar cost which gets you only 8 booster packs is not something I view to be a very good deal at all. In general, you have to open extremely well to make your 30 dollars back, opening more than one EX card. ( There are, of course, some exceptions. ) One of my favorite parts about Pre Release events before used to be trading with all of the new cards. Unfortunately now, due to how the sets are designed, players are only looking to pick up a few obvious chase cards, and generally are uninterested in anything else. As a result, that fun aspect of the events isn't really what it used to be either. As a result, I don't really go out of my way to attend these events, but Recess Games is a five minute drive from my house, so I figured I would head up and give it a go.

In my 6 boosters for the sealed pool I would get to play with, I managed to open my boy, Rayquaza EX. I actually found the rest of the sealed pool to be fairly interesting, capable of making a pretty powerful deck. Instead, I decided to play Rayquaza EX and 39 energy, hoping that opening Rayquaza EX every game would just allow me to race whatever mess my opponents were able to pile together. Alright, not actually 39 energy...I also included the Rayquaza Spirit Link I opened in my sealed pool. While the Colorless Mega Rayquaza would not be a very threatening card in a game state where I have no bench, I opted to run all Fire and Lightning Energy in order to represent the fact I had also a Mega Rayquaza in my deck. I figured I'd slam down the Spirit Link, and start tapping the top of my deck each draw desperately in hopes to represent the possibility and strike the fear of God into my opponents, but sadly, the extremely low odds of drawing my lone Rayquaza and my lone Spirit Link at the same time prevented me from ever actually pairing the two. I felt really clever though!

I won the first round, clearing through a bench full of bad Basic Pokemon as I went first and my opponent had an extremely bad hand that really didn't do anything. Second round, I played against a player who had never played in a tournament before, and was just learning how to play with his son. I pre-emptively apologized for more or less not playing an actual game of Pokemon, instead opting to play "Race the Rayquaza". Rayquaza turned out to be rather speedy, and I was off to a 2-0 start. Round 3 pairings went up, and I immediately conceded so I could go get my two extra packs and start trading. ( Trading is surprisingly difficult when your only real understanding of prices are based on how many packs of Primal Clash a card is worth on PTCGO. )

The second Pre-Release I played in was held after the Nick Bailey Open. I opened a Shaymin EX ( I was sponsored by someone to play, so they got all of the cards, it just gave me something to do. ) and some other fun cards, but one card stood out and got my attention: Articuno. As someone feeling particularly uninspired at the time, I went with the same game plan I did at the first Roaring Skies Pre-Release: I sleeved up 39 Water Energy and my Articuno. Articuno only needs to knock out 2 Pokemon due to it's Trait, and it's Chilling Sigh attack does a great job of bridging the gap between the start of the game and getting 3 energy on the card. Hilariously enough, this seemed to be the popular thing to do at the event, as 4 other players also did the "Lone Articuno" approach besides me.

Round 1, I get paired against a player I hadn't met before. I actually met a lot of new people at this tournament, because I never really make the drive out towards Ashtabula for events as it is a bit far. It felt even farther because I was on taxi duty for the event, scooping up Michael Zele and Carl Scheu. I spent so many years prior to getting my license bumming rides off of people that I can't really complain about it. Well, besides this time. Where I guess I did a little bit. Anyways, back to the Pre Release, I manage the near impossible, mulliganning zero times and going first. Articuno quickly chews through a pair of Pokemon to give me the win. He sacrificed a Pidove while trying to set up a Shelgon to combat Articuno, banking on me flipping poorly so he could two hit me, but was unable to get the Water Energy necessary to attack me before Articuno got the job done.

Round 2, I get pairied against Carl, who I scoop to immediately so we can go trade. I'm so altruistic!

Round 3, I get paired against Andrew Mahone, the man, the myth, the MONSTER himself. Unfortunately, I realize I am quickly outclassed. Not only does he have the tournament MVP itself, Articuno, but he had also opened a Latios EX. I mulligan 3 times, while he sees his Latios in his opening hand. He wins the coin flip, drops a Psychic Energy and smacks my poor Articuno for 40. I put him to sleep, and he flips tails, forced to pass his turn. He wakes up at the end of his turn, but succumbs to slumber once more as I just re-use Chilling Sigh. He fails to wake up even by the end of his turn, and I drop my 3rd energy and do 60 damage off of one heads on my attack. He stays asleep AGAIN, and I have the win in my sights with 3 heads! I roll 3 dice and...2 heads, 100 more damage, and Latios EX is left with 10 HP! Mahone flips...TAILS! Latios's cat nap continues. He slowly peels his card...not the Articuno! My Articuno pulls it off, and now I know how Ash Ketchum must always feel, pulling that win out of nothing. That Articuno just earned itself a toploader.

Anyways, time to get to the decks. Everyone loves decks, right? That is what everyone reads these articles for, right? ( I am such a pessimist! ) Anyways, I want to flesh out my findings regarding the obvious "showcase" Pokemon of this set, Mega Rayquaza.
I feel like there are two ways to approach building a Mega Rayquaza deck. The tools for a hyper aggressive, speed oriented build based on the card exists. By using a gimmicky Item based engine alongside a full set of Shaymin EX, you are able to see a whole ton of cards in one turn. This is the build I am most interested in testing, for a couple of reasons.

First, I want to see the limits of exactly what Shaymin EX can do. I want to know what sort of extremes you can pull off if you want to do it. It is a lot easier to adjust "down" an engine to a more conservative approach once you have pushed it's boundaries than it is to do the opposite. This set really offers a real challenge because it introduces a card in Shaymin EX which can change the entire way decks get built. This has the potential to really shake things up. I'd say this doesn't usually happen, but we've actualy seen this twice recently, first with VS Seeker really throwing engines for a loop, and then again in Primal Clash with Acrobike as it really made Item based draw decks tier 1. ( I really feel like this card is what pushed decks like Night March and Flareon into being viable tier 1 decks. )

To continue my point, though, once I understand the farthest I can take a deck, I find it is just easier to reel it in from there. The only reason to NOT play the most "abusive" build is if certain things exploit it and beat the deck. Usually these type of engines require a lot of space to make their gimmick functional, so it isn't always easy to introduce counter measures into the deck. Yet to really figure out what beats you, you need to play the "strongest" build. I mean, that isn't exclusively true, its pretty clear "Lightning Types" will be a problem, but you understand what I mean. In this case, lets look at a popular Lightning type in Manectric EX. This card seems difficult to beat as both Manectric EX and the Mega evolution of it KO Rayquaza for only 2 energy. This would see like a big problem, but I feel like Rayquaza, if built as fast and consistent as possible, can just outexchange Manectric EX, or at least keep up on it. A slower build would likely struggle againsst Manectric, and thus need to add counters, but there is a very good chance the best counter is actually just NO counter, and focusing on the most proactive game plan possible. ( I haven't tested a ton agaianst Manectric yet to actually find this out yet, but I think its close, if not favorable. )

In general, there is just a structure to testing which is the most effecient, and it generally is beneficial to test the extremes of the format before tightening up even if you suspect a more conservative approach will end up being the "best" build in the end. It is beneficial to know the full parameters of a format before you can really zero in on what the best builds are.

That is a bit of abstract theory for testing, but there is a particular reason why I want to focus on speed in this particular archetype as well. Rayquaza is going to see play. It is the most hyped card in this set, people are going to use it. Mirror match is going to come down to swinging for the fences with one hit kills. This means the matchup is likely to come down to two ways to get an advantage. You want to get the first KO, so it is a race to Rayquaza. Also, you need to OHKO back Rayquaza, and hope whoever got the first kill eventually stumbles on the return kill, thus making consistancy the biggest factor in the mirror. ( If mirror is something you really want to beat, you can add a card like Raichu, which will do it, but is a big investment, and that is a hard trigger to pull in an undeveloped metagame, so I would be very surprised if you need to this into the equation for mirror theory yet. Raichu seems very well positioned, actually, so it is worth thinking about, I just don't think Rayquaza decks are going to start out using the card. )

Also, Rayquaza has a large bullseye on it's head from other decks at the moment. For Rayquaza to be strong, you have to really focus on it as a tentpole for the deck. As a result, it is difficult to build a Rayquaza deck with a real viable fully fleshed out "Plan B" in it. Rayquaza is a pretty linear card. Admittedly, this linear game plan is "One Shot Everything", but it isn't really flexible. This means that it is difficult to counter a lot of counters for it. As a result, I want to just have my absolute best starts as often as possible, hoping that I can just brute strength my way past other decks. ( I also in general love the idea of having "nut draws" where I can just beat any deck and not have to play a real, competitive game. Having the option to just do the absolute best thing in the game is something I really value. ) Counters to linear archetypes are usually just more effective the slower they are.

Anyways, this list hasn't changed much since my last article, but here is what I have been testing.

I've seen a lot of lists for this archetype, and I've seen a lot of players NOT run Battle Compressor and Exeggcute. I can't stress how wrong that is. This "engine" is so powerful on a lot of fronts.

First off, Exeggcute is great to fill your bench with. Battle Compressor becomes 3 Pokemon on the bench itself. Beyond this, the deck struggles if you get Skyfield countered. You run say, 12 basic Pokemon in the deck, at most, and you want 8 Pokemon on your bench to hit for 240. Every stadium counter discards 3 Pokemon. Your Rayquazas get KOed. You generally want to conserve some Shaymin EX for the late game. As a result, you really can run out of Pokemon to bench if you lose Sky Field. Exeggcutes make this a non-issue. Exeggcute also helps to fuel your Ultra Balls and Computer Search. The deck cares quite a bit about resource conservation. You don't want to be discarding Sky Fields, Mega Turbos, Rayquazas, Shaymins, Spirit Links or DCEs. In generally you do want to reduce your hand size for Shaymin, but there are a lot of spots you do not want to discard key cards.

By running Exeggcute, you also get to run an Exeggcutor. This card may actually be too cute and fancy, but I really do like what it offers. In mirror match, I mentioned how you lose games because the opponent gets the first KO, or if you miss a return KO. In games you aren't getting the first Ray out, Exeggcute lets you lock the opponent out of Lysandre. This means if they want the first kill, they only get 1 Prize, and expose themselves to the first return KO. It also makes it so that if you fail to get a return KO back, you can buy a turn by bringing up Exeggcutor and forcing them to KO that and not Lysandre up the Rayquaza you are building. The 1 prize ends up being awkward for them, and you get to force the important KO on their Rayquaza.

Beyond this, Primal Groudon seems to be one of the Pokemon who gains the most off of Mega Turbo. Mega Rayquaza can get a pretty easy OHKO on Groudon, and is easier to power. The problem? Focus Sash. If they bring up a Sashed Groudon, it gets to kill 2 Rayquaza. Exeggcutor is able to do 20 to a Groudon, preventing the opponent from bringing up Rayquaza and having to eat a non-EX, while also putting damage counters down to negate the Focus Sash. ( Also worth noting, Groudon shreds stadium cards, so Sky Field isn't very safe. At 240 HP, you -really- need Exeggcutes for this matchup to replenish the bench. )

Battle Compressor also offers a few other strengths beyond enabling Exeggcutes. You can discard Basic Energy to fuel Mega Turbo. ( I swear this card sounds like the name for a Power Rangers' series. ) Generally I've seen lists running 4 DCE and 4 Basic Energy, but with 4 Battle Compressor, I've found 3 to be perfect. We all know how well BC interacts with VS Seeker, allowing you to not only run a variety of Supporter cards, but also to make sure you have additional outs to see specific Supporters. This is EXTREMELY important in this deck.

In order to compile all of the cards you need in this deck, you plan to use multiple Shaymin EX on your first turn. ( Fun fact: You want to always go 2nd with this deck. This may not stay true in all matchups, as I can see a slightly more conservative game plan against some decks being correct. So far I've always wanted to go 2nd because you get to swing with a Mega Rayquaza turn one well more than half the time. ) To spam Shaymin, you need to be able to burn cards in your hand. Most cards in the deck can be played freely. There are three types of cards which are primary offenders for getting stuck in your hand: Evolutions ( We don't run many, and it can be played fairly easily anyways ) Energy ( Being limited to one attachment a turn makes extra copies dead cards clogging your hand. Thus only running 7 is great! Battle Compressor can dump the Grass early too. The first one gets the Eggs, the second energy and additional BC ) and Supporters ( Same idea as Energy due to their one a turn limit ).

We want to run a very thin line of Supporters. Obviously we have 1 Lysandre, and a Trump Card, but for draw, we only run 4 Supporters! We're banking on Items and Shaymin for a majority of the draw. We will be seeing a tremendous amount of cards on the first turn, you will see a Supporter, and the least amount you do see the better. Battle Compressor makes it easy to see the ones you want, while not having to clutter the deck with them. Since we use BC to get access to our Supporters, and see so many cards before we usually need to play one, I split up the Supporters four ways. One Juniper, one N, one Colress, and a Winona. Winona has been a Skyla, and a 2nd Juniper at times. I'm not actually sure what the right split is yet. Juniper is such a safe Supporter, as it is the generally "best" one, but it can be very dangerous with discards. Colress is absurd late game, and honestly, you fill your bench so quickly that it can outclass Juniper on the first turn a lot of games. N is solid draw and disruption. Winona gets you a Shaymin, and both Rays, but is a bit limited in scope. Skyla was included because there were a reasonable number of games where you've been going deep on draw, and just need 1 specific card to finish your set up, and with Comp. Search, its a catch all. Due to Comp, it is also the only surefire way to get access to DCE, which is always the hardest card to get.

Battle Compressor is also always a free discard from your hand before using Shaymin, and it can also just thin your deck of cards you do not want to draw so your draws are more pure. Never used that adjective like that before, but I like it!

Spirit Link, Sky Field, and Mega Turbo are all sitting at 3 copies. These seem like the perfect numbers. Two is definiely two low on all of them, and 4, which nice, is just way too difficult to fit and likely excessive. Depending on how often Sky Field gets countered, it actually may just have to become a four of, because being unable to KO an EX is just not an option. Switch is a 2 of, and I actually would love a third, but I don't really see where to fit it. I could add it, but I think there are other cards I would prefer to have over the extra copy.

The Trainer's Mail slots are the most in contention. I mentioned last article that they are competing with Super Scoop Ups. SSU being so good with Shaymin makes them somewhat into "draw" cards, albeit less soo than Mail. They do, on the other hand, make the 2 Switch count more palatable. The list I offered before with SSU went deep on the plan, also adding a Scoop Up Cyclone as my Ace Spec, but that is just wrong. If decks are stuck being super grindy against Rayquaza, they are probably just losing. I'd take Computer Search over it for sure. So far the only decks I've had issue with have been able to either OHKO Rayquaza, or are super disruptive.

Virizion EX makes an appearance as a 1 of, and with it the Basic Energy become Grass. This is so you can turn off Hypnotoxic Laser. I run the Virizion, but I actually think I hate it. Hear me out. Decks that use Laser don't really matter unless they are Seismitoad EX. I don't really care if Yveltal EX decks poison me. I only care if Toad does. Toad is going to be incredible against such an Item focused deck. The problem here is, I just don't see Virizion making or breaking the matchup. I feel like I can beat Seismitoad decks that do not run Hammers. I think if they do run Hammers, even with Virizion ( and only 7 energy...3 of which are Grass and rely on an item to get into play often...and no, I don't think a 4th grass changed my opinion on this ) that you still lose. You can't draw into enough energy, and they can strip Rayquaza of the Grass and poison it anyways. So I just kind of feel that Virizion winds up as either being unnecessary vs Laser decks you beat anyways, or just not enough against the Laser decks which beat you.

That leads me to the elephant in the room: Seismitoad EX seems like a problem to me. Obviously, if Night March and Flareon decks and their engines are any indication, Seismitoad really cuts you off at the knees. We run FOUR Supporters. Shaymin, while not an Item, is handicapped by all of the Items stuck in our hands. That said, we get a turn before they get Quaking Punch off...and that turn can be HUGE. You can definitely score a OHKO on a Toad on the first turn. Even if you cannot, you can get Rayquaza set up pretty powerfully and it is going to chew through some Seismitoads while they slowly try to KO you. I feel like you can beat decks that run a Toad or two. The problem is the Quad Toad decks, which will just lock you down too hard. You are not going to beat Hammers in Toad often. Now, you do have a bit of a weapon at your disposal though! Rayquaza EX's first attack does 60 for a Colorless against an EX. If Virizion locks them off of Laser, this lets you 3 hit a Toad while they 4 hit you. The problem is, this doesn't do enough vs Hammers, and it loses to builds with say, Cassius, or Super Scoop Ups too. I just don't see many builds running neither of those options. This is the only matchup where adding more Energy may do a lot of work, I'm just not sure that does enough, and I'm certain it hurts every other matchup.

While on the topic of bad matchips, Night March is a mess. Joltik for "One" energy can pretty effortlessly KO a Rayquaza EX, very quickly. There isn't a ton you can do to stop that either. Builds generally have adopted Empoleon now, and this makes it so you can't even rely on the "Stick an N and pray" plan. You need to chew through so many non-EX Pokemon, its so hard to even just hope to stick a Trump and slow them because the game goes so long.

Second Elephant: No Altaria? I think the card may not do enough. I think you beat most Lightning Pokemon just by trading one hits. The two exceptions being Raichu and Joltik. Raichu is the biggest selling point for Altaria. If Raichu is very popular, Altaria is worth it. ( I'd cut maybe Virizion EX and the Exeggcutor maybe for it ) I feel like Night March is a bit of a lost cause anyways. They have too much game vs you just two hitting you ( And they can eventually one hit you! Especially since they can eventually transition to killing Shaymin EXes, so I just don't think Altaria saves you )

The good news? Your two nightmare matchups, Night March and Seismitoad, are unlikely to be popular at the same time! If Toad is big, it pushes out all the Night March. If Night March is thriving, its due to a lack of Toad. You only have to expect one or the other to be a huge force in a metagame. The deck is so powerful against any of the "fair" decks that the upside is worth struggling with some problem matchups.

Rayquaza is an extremely powerful deck. Yet I said before how linear it was. This means while it could be the best deck in a metagame, it can't really be the best deck in the format. It is the type of deck where if you see a specific metagame where it looks good, it will be INCREDIBLY good. You can't just run it into a very hostile meta and expect it to overcome that. Yet it is a deck worth knowing very well because its an incredibly good choice when the coast is clear. ( I feel like Night March is very similar in viability )

I stress how linear this archetype is, yet it is EXTREMELY difficult to play. Ok, "get out Mega Rayquaza, KO something every turn" is really easy, I get that. Yet the deck is really hard to navigate. You want to make sure to sequence all of your draw correctly to maximize your odds of hitting all of your cards each turn. You REALLY need to not only understand all the paths you can take to get there, but you need to maximize all of the odds. It requires a really good understanding of probabilities to optimize your turns. Normally the math in Pokemon isn't that hard, as you have a few choices, and need to hit a specific goal. This deck's lines lead to a wide number of possible lines, all chasing a ton of ends. Every little bit of missed percentage adds up. When testing at the Bailey Open, we had a group of very strong players all kind of co-piloting the deck, and we all felt like we weren't close to optimal turns.

The kicker is that it isn't just about optimizing your turns, the deck requires a lot of foresight regarding resource management. You not only want the turn 1 Rayquaza, and to be able to chain them if they die, but you have to predict which cards will be important late game and not discard too many puzzle pieces. The deck does not Trump Card very well. You usually are pretty low on your draw cards near the end of the game, so "Trump, and then draw a bunch " isn't frequent. You have to run Trump, but it is clunky. This means the more you can do to not have to Trump, the better. The challenge is then balancing when it is important to optimizing your probability, and when it is better to take worse odds but burn less resources. Pretty much every game I'd lost with the deck ( Sans Toad or NM ) felt like it was lost due to mismanagement. That is both reassuring and frustrating. The deck is strong enough to win on raw strength, but I think the pilot can throw games away with it very easily.

I even mentioned before how you want to go 2nd generally, but when it comes to resource management, depending on what testing shows, there may be some matchups where speed is less important and you just want to go first. If you go first, it is so easy to guarantee a turn 2 Rayquaza attacking with minimal resource useage. In matchups where speed matters, go 2nd, but in grindier games where you prefer to burn less cards, you could try going first because that is a much less demanding start if you can afford to slow down.

Two cards I wanted to add to the deck are a 4th Mega Rayquaza EX, and possibly a 13th Pokemon. If you Prize a Mega Ray, or have to discard one, it can be very awkward. It may just be paranoia, and there may not be the space for it, but it seems like an decent option. A 13th Basic Pokemon would be nice. Depending on what decks are popular, maybe it needs a Mr. Mime to protect the Exeggcutes. Landorus EX and Primal Kyogre could be issues there. I've thought about a Seismitoad to Quaking Punch other Toads back, or to try and lock Night March, but I feel like both fail to matter enough. You can't really retreat a Toad into a Rayquaza even if you can use the Toad to stop Hammers and such, and they still lock you off of Switch. Against Night March, you don't have Band or Hammers, so you cap at 30 a turn. That gives them so much time to get going. Even Mew EX can just Punch back, and you four hit them, and can't easily retreat the Toad again. They run Empoleon too as a way to force set up under these conditions, not only to draw cards if their Items are locked, but it also provides a discard outlet for their Night Marchers to rebuild under your Toad's glacial clock.

The other approach to this Rayquaza would be to play a slower build, with the goal of being able to include solutions for the Toad and Night March matchups. Now, I don't know how you build something which beats both of these decks but also remains strong enough against the rest of the field. You can likely build to beat one or the other ( I still think Night March is a nightmare matchup and just hard to beat anyways ) An interesting idea would be to run a 1-1 Ninetales ( The one which protects your Stadium ) because this prevents Virbank from being played vs Toad ( until they just kill the Ninetales ) and just protects your Sky Field vs everything. Against Night March, locking them off of Dimensional Valley seems like it could be a real solution. The problem there is that you still get smashed by Joltik, so you'd have to fit Ninetales AND Altaria, and thats demanding.

Dragon Rayquaza

This set offers more than just one playable Rayquaza EX though! Now, at the end of the day, in a vacuum, I feel like this Mega Rayquaza is weaker than the Colorless one. I mean, it lacks the "Broken Time Space" Trait, and while 300 is more than 240 damage, it is functionally equivalent. Only this Rayquaza requires 5 energy and discards 2 to do it. You gain extra hit points, get a better weakness, and a sturdy Trait that really stifles the damage output of 4 different types of Pokemon. Worth noting? One of these is Water, which really hurts Seismitoad EX's damage output! As a deck that already struggles for damage, it sure makes KOing a 230 HP Pokemon difficult.

This Rayquaza is worse than the other, but has two big things going for it. First, it's Dragon typing. Double Dragon Energy ( This always makes me think of the old video game! ) really helps offset the energy cost, and Reshiram is a great card. The pair of those cards alongside Mega Turbo make the lofty 5 energy cost easier to swallow. To top it off, being Dragon brings with it the lovely weakness to Fairy Pokemon, which are barely played. This kind of ties into the second selling point, being that it is weak to a different type and different types of decks than the other Rayquaza is. If the metagame shifts around beating the Colorless Mega Rayquaza, this Ray benefits tremendously from being slightly worse but better against what people are playing. Lightning Pokemon run to beat the other Rayquaza don't phase this Pokemon much. You are far better suited to beating Seismitoad EX. You are not weak to Joltik, and with 230 HP, your Night March game is better. Reshiram being able to attack for 110 gives you stronger game against non-EX Pokemon. I feel like you wind up being slower, and worse off against fair decks, but you make up for it elsewhere.
Here is a tentative list.

I feel like 3-3 Rayquaza is perfectly fine here, although a 4th copy of the basic Rayquaza wouldn't be too bad. Reshiram is an automatic four of, as it is the best opener in the deck. You don't mind multiples, as retreating between them yields extra energy drops, and with Switches it can be really degenerate. On that note, I have 3 Switches cards in the deck beyond the Hydreigon EX/Stadium interaction. I think the upside of using multiple Reshiram in a turn is worth running this many. MAYBE it is correct to even run a 4th, depending on how demanding on multiple Reshiram Ability use turnsit ends up needing. On the topic of cards I am conflicted on the numbers of, we have Rayquaza Spirit Link. I feel like the deck, in general, gets swinging on turn 3, with turn 2 being an outlier. As a result, since Reshiram accelerates without attacking, I feel like you can get away with using your 2nd turn to just Mega Evolve normally a decent portion of the time. I stuck with 3 just because I feel midgame you can't afford to Mega Evolve, and thus you really want to have a copy.

This deck doesn't quite have the ability to "go nuts" off Shaymin EX like the other Rayquaza does for a number of reasons. One, it needs to run too many energy. This clogs the engine. Two, it can't evolve Rayquaza on the first turn due to lack of the Trait. It can attack with Reshiram on the first turn, but that isn't always as strong as you'd think, and it really sets back your Rayquaza's development, which isn't good. It isn't really good enough to warrant basing your engine around it. The deck requires more work to keep going as the game progresses due to the attack discarding energy cards, and the heightened attack cost of this Mega Rayquaza. This makes an engine that purges a lot of its steam early on a lot less desireable. The point of this comparision is to address the 2 Shaymin/1 Jirachi split.

Shaymin strikes me as a card which makes it into every deck. Probably even as a two of as I play with it more. It has been even better than I originally suspected. Yet I still like Jirachi as well! I feel like the VS Seeker "engine" with a diverse set of Supporters is just very profitable, and a Jirachi really glues that together if you aren't running Battle Compressors. I feel like Shaymin reduces the need for Jirachi in decks, but Jirachi is not obsolete. I feel like this is particularly noticable against Seismitoad decks, where Shaymin gets hampered by clogged Item loaded hands, where as Jirachi still remains strong.

I'm also still in love with the "Skyla Computer Search" crutch in decks using DCE. Well, in this case, DDE. When you have such a crucial card and are trying to be fairly aggressive, I want this safety net available. I understand taking the risk without it, but I really like having it available.

Originally I had an 8th Fire Energy, but trimmed it down to 7 for a Professor's Letter to also make the lone Lightning Energy more obtainable. The presence of the one Skyla made me feel a bit more interested in the Letter. A card I may want a 2nd copy of is actually the Superior Energy Retrieval. This deck burns through energy pretty aggressively between attack discards and the use of Scorched Earth. I like having a way to get a large amount of that back beyond having to Trump Card it all back in. So far that card has been great for me. I'm not pushing for the second copy yet but I can definitely see it working it's way in.
As for the Scorched Earth, it is crucial to have access to a Stadium card for Hydreigon, but you don't need 3 copies of the card because if it get countered, you still have a Stadium at least. I like the extra draw power the card adds, and it helps me stomach the fairly thin Supporter count I'm at now. 8 Supporters, especially when one is a Skyla, is a bit rough, but with 3 Shaymin/Jirachi, 2 Scorched Earth, and the 4 VS Seeker, I think it is fine. I wouldn't mind adding an extra N to the deck just to be safe.

I actually want to address Colress a bit here. I think this card is going to keep going up in value. Not just due to Sky Field absurdity, but because players are going to be aggressively playing Shaymin down early to push for great starts. This not only fills a bennch spot, but it draws players more cards to see additional Pokemon to fill bench spaces with. This makes Colress better early on.

Trevenant Shaymin

Who remembers Uxie donk!? Turbo Shuppet? Well, Shaymin already stole Uxie's Pokemon Power, now it can steal its stupid gimmick looping attack junk as well. While Shaymin's attack only does 30 damage for a DCE, we have to realize that is the same damage output we get from Seismitoad EX. Pair it with a Muscle Band and some Lasers, and we have some reasonable damage output.

There are a few pairings to put with Shaymin, but the one that is the most interesting to me is Trevenant. Shaymin's attack acts as a functional "hit and run" type attack, ala Accelgor, or Donphan, so you get to hide behind very disruptive Pokemon. Here is the list I came up for with this deck.

It has a similar engine as the one I was using in Mega Rayquaza, only without Battle Compressor. The key card I need to discuss is Wally. Wally lets you get a turn 1 Trevenant, even going first. This is a sort of disruption even Seismitoad EX can't accomplish due to the turn 1 attack rule. This deck aims to turn Shaymin EX into it's own mini Seismitoad, locking players off of Item cards through Trevenant while not exposing an EX Pokemon in the process to damage. The Shaymin looping also acts like a built in Slurpuff, helping to augment your draw power all game long to draw into Hammers and eventually to Trump Card everything back into your deck. ( Perhaps adding a 1-1 Slurpuff line is even feasible just to help sustain your draw even further. )

A few options for this deck would be to include an Electrike, with the trait, so you can keep it on your bench so that you can bounce Shaymin, bringing up Trevenant, and not worry about an opponent being able to Lysandre it away to unlock their Items. You could just leave a Trevenant up, but you risk being benched. This would prevent that. You coul also run a few Robo Subs, being able to retreat behind them against decks which are not terribly hindered by Trevenant's Item Lock. Also, near the end of the game, you can bench a few of them, and just hide behind those as you bounce Shaymin, making it so you are unable to give up prizes. If you can establish that alongside a good Trump loop...

I'm not entirely sold on only having 3 Float Stone as a means to retreat. I wouldn't mind additional copies, as they are pretty necessary to make the deck function. I'm at a 4-4 Trevenant line because I can see games where you do have to keep chaining them against opponents who do set up past your disruption. Maybe trimming it to only 3 of the Stage 1 would be fine.

Those are the three big decks I've been working on, although I'd like to try and find a build for Primal Groudon which I like. I think Mega Turbo really makes the card a lot better, annd it seems to match up fairly well against all the new OHKO attackers due to Focus Sash. I've never been happy with any of the supporting cards for that Pokemon, and I'm still in that same boat. On the plus side, I feel like Virizion Genesect is in a pretty horrible position with what this set brings to the table, which definitely benefits Groudon!

Anyways, I'm still pretty dead set on exploring Mega Rayquaza EX as much as I can, as I find the deck both fun and challenging. It is interesting to see how much can be built with just focusing on new archetypes from this set, yet alone with old archetypes getting revamps! Hopefully you have even a portion of as much fun as I am having testing these new cards out.

 

Chris

[+4] okko


 

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