Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Talk About Upheaval...

For The First Time Since 2002, A Pokemon Card Has Been Banned! I Discuss Some Of The Ramifications Of This, And Include Some New Lists To Play In Lysandre's Trump Card's Absence!

06/03/2015 by Chris Fulop

Why me? Why me?

So lets flashback a short time...all the way back to Friday. My plan for the past 5 days was to drive 8 hours with friends to Wisconsin Regionals, spend the weekend judging and cheering on my friends, drive home 8 hours, and spend Monday and Tuesday writing this article. I'd write about the most recent decks I'd been playing, what deck I would have used had I played in the event, and cover the decks which had done well at the tournament.

Then I wake up on Monday to find that Lysandre's Trump Card had been banned. Now, that plan is a bit...obsolete. I'm not going to spend too much time dwelling on a lame duck format. At the same time, I've now had two days to try and formulate how the banning of Trump Card is going to effect everything. And it is going to really throw everything for a loop. The banning of the card is going to really mix things up, and I won't pretend I fully understand in what ways yet.

I'm going to split this article into two parts, as I do want to discuss everything that happened over the weekend still. I also want to express exactly how I feel about this banning in the first place. I'll get that out of the way first.

The last time Pokemon banned a card was in 2002. In fact, since it's inception, Pokemon has only banned a pair of cards: Sneasel and Slowking, who was mistranslated. Sure, Pokemon pretty much instituted "Modified" in 2001 ( and had experimented in the "smash hit" Prop15/3c previously ) because of how big of a mess Unlimited had become on a ton of levels. In 2011, they did an impromptu mid-season rotation to undo the damage the Black and White rules change did to the format due to Sableye and Uxie. Yet only those two cards had actually earned a banning.

Lysandre's Trump Card is such a fundamentally terrible card for a game. Ignoring the clearly degenerate engines abusing it in decks like Crayquaza and the Shaymin Toad/Trevenant decks, it removes a very important part of the game from well...the game.

The main way the game of Pokemon is won, in it's most literal sense, is to win the prize race. You can win a game by being the first to KO 6 Pokemon ( or 3 Pokemon EX! ) Beyond that, you can wage a war of attrition. You can control the board, and break that prize race up by overpowering an opponent's set up. Finally, and this is where Lysandre's Trump Card presents a problem, is that you can win a war of resources. Just go back a few years ago. How many games came down to trying to run an opponent out of Pokemon Catcher, or Switch, or N? Throughout the history of the game, you have always had to manage your resources. In fact, it was often one of the hardest things to learn to balance. It is often where great players are able to gain edges against even other good players. A card like Lysandre's Trump card...a card which requires so little commitment to abuse ( One VS Seeker, a card every deck will run anyways, and you have limitless cards. ) completely removes that aspect of the game. Even at it's "fairest", the card is unfair and guts the game of a lot of it's strategic complexity. The game has already devolved into feeling like it is almost only a prize race now. ( every deck is so blisteringly fast, and all the Pokemon are basics with low energy costs...board control and related attrition is so rarely a factor anymore due to the card design ) Now with Trump Card, the game became even more linear strategically. The problem with linear in that regard is that the fewer fronts you can fight someone on in a game reduces the ways you can try and overtake the player who has the initial variance breaking in their favor at the start of a game. It used to feel like if one player had a better start, you could manuever the game into different battles which you could still win. Now, it feels like this is less and less the case.

What really bothers me is that this card had to get emergency banned, yet I have no idea how this "problem" wasn't extremely obvious during set design. From a game design standpoint, you can't look at a card like Lysandre's Trump Card and not at least think "this card is reaching into very dangerous territory" in regards to its function. With that being the case, you HAVE to thoroughly test the card and make sure it isn't too out of control. This isn't a subtle card at all. This isn't an oversight. This is a card designed to be extremely game warping. The card was absolutely intended to do what it does in practice.

The worst part? Look at the cards which make the card go from "fundamentally questionable" to "actively being broken wide open": VS Seeker. Acro Bike. Trainer's Mail. Battle Compressor. Shaymin EX. All of these cards were printed at the same time as Trump Card or after! What sort of SLOPPY design team isn't aware this problem was going to arise? If you design a card that is already "questionable" because of how powerful and potentially game breaking like Lysandre's Trump Card, you have to be extremely cautious with what else you print after the fact. Either the design team WANTED the game to play like that, which is bad, or they didn't realize how the game would play, which is even worse. I've always been extremely critical of how this game was handled in terms of card creation, and I've always felt a bit paranoid that maybe I was just overly critical or whining about it, but I think this just shines a giant spot light on the fact I'm not the only one who realizes that they have no good grasp on how to design sets for a trading card game. In Magic, when cards get banned, there is usually a large write up and explanation for not only the reason a card or cards got banned, but often an explanation for the oversight. I'd love to see the write up for this one. I'd pay to see that sort of transparency.

Anyways, I clearly think this emergency ban is a great thing for the format. Even prior to the release of Shaymin I had been unsure that Trump Card felt healthy for the game, and I'm just glad to see it gone. I am just a bit...well, a lot more than a bit...I am just very disappointed it even got this far. I know complaining about it here isn't going to make any sort of a difference, but I really just wanted to get it off my chest for my sake, as I am frustrated. I love this game. I've loved this game for going on 17 years now. I just wish it wasn't so difficult to do sometimes.

Anyways, now that I have that out of the way, I want to go over my preparation leading into Regionals last weekend.

I expected Seismitoad EX and Trevenant EX to both be very popular archetypes. I was unsure how popular Trevenant would be, but I knew both between how good it was and how hyped it was that Seismitoad EX would actually be public enemy number one going into the weekend. I feel like the metagame cycle had begun to spin. The most feared deck at Roaring Skies' release was Mega Rayquaza, but by the time we neared the event, players had weeks to practice building decks aiming to beat it. Those decks had time to take over as the most expected decks in the metagame, and now THAT was what you had to feel like you could beat.

I personally was not wanting to be anywhere near an Item lock deck for the tournament. I'm not saying the decks are not good! They are clearly tier 1 decks. The problem to me was where in the cycle I felt we were. I predicted we would either be seeing a ton of item locks, or that the cycle had shifted towards when people would be playing a lot of decks built to counter them.

Let me say this much: Toad mirror match is agonizing. Most of the games between two reasonably good pilots offer little to no room to manuever, and the games are just lopsided and awful. I do not want to play mirror match at all, yet alone frequently over a tournament. Even if Toad was to be isolated as the clear best deck, if it was also likely to be the most played deck, I would be looking elsewhere for a deck to play because I am that against wanting to deal with mirror.

To make it worse, I wasn't just concerned with mirror. I was afraid of decks being played to beat the deck too. Primal Groudon was a good answer to it, and the card wound up being played pretty heavily. Surprisingly, Fairy decks and Metal decks, built to pick on Toad and Trevenant showed up in far greater numbers than expected. A group of players even brought Dragon Rayquaza decks packing Hard Charm. Between Rayquaza's Trait, and Hard Charm, the Dragon takes 40 less damge per Quaking Punch, while benefitting from a free retreat granted by Hydreigon EX.

Now, this meant I'd be expecting a bunch of coin flip games where I couldn't really hope to do much outplaying, and a bunch of fringe decks built to smash me. I wouldn't know what exactly they were running, and couldn't prepare for everything. The kicker is that they surely would have tested extensively vs Toad, and that would give them a preparation edge alongside a matchup advantage.

The worst part of this, to me at least, is that I was unsure whether to expect more mirror, or more hate. The biggest pain about Item lock mirror is that mirror match is often won by who is willing to inbreed their deck the most for mirror. The more prepared for Mirror you are, the worse off you end up being vs other archetypes. I know thats generally true, anyways. When you shift cards towards any matchup, it costs you across the board, but I feel like it is a bigger deal here than usual. Due to the Item locks, you lose most of your engine, and very few cards in your deck wind up mattering. To really skew your mirror match, you need ENOUGH cards that you can actually reliably draw them.

This means you need to find the right balance between winning a popular mirror match, beating a WIDE range of potential counter decks, and not giving up too much against the decks you initially planned to pick on with your choice. This quagmire just made me feel like the deck was a really volatile choice, and one I'd avoid.

One of the other very popular decks was Primal Groudon. Most builds paired it with Wobbuffet, which I absolutely despise. I think Groudon is great, but I think Wobbuffet is far from the right pairing with it. I really only like Wobbuffet in a few roles. I love the card in decks which abuse hit and run attacks, and I actually enjoy the card as a 1 of in decks which you can fall back on during turns where you can capitalize on it. In general, I feel this "run 4 Wobbuffet and hope they lock an opponent out of the early game" is...not good.

First off, Wobbuffet requires you embrace an inferior engine. You are accepting you cannot be as fast or explosive or as consistant as the other decks. I feel like there is a major misconception out there. "Groudon is slow, so I don't benefit from a good engine, I'll just play Wobbuffet". You are not only giving up "speed" but also consistency. Lacking Shaymin EX abuse puts you at a weaker position mid and late game as well. The card is not just great for the first turn or two.

Secondly, Wobbuffet is not entirely reliable. Lets say you play 4 Groudon EX and 4 Wobbuffet. Due to hands with both, the math comes out to roughly a 65% chance of opening with Wobbuffet. 35% of games when you go second, the decks you mean to "slow down" just go off anyways and they are often able to position themselves with access to Lysandre for subsequent turns, rending Wobbuffet fairly ineffective. Even on the play, you are only likely to get a Wobbuffet active say, 80% of the time. Due to the explosive nature of the decks you try and counter, they really only need 1 big burst turn to undo most of the good Wobbuffet does disruption wise.

Lets look at the biggest "threats" abusing Shaymin EX. Rayquaza EX. The deck runs a ton of item draw, and actually can afford a slower start against you even if do stick Wobbuffet. With this draw, and 4 Battle Compressor, 4 VS Seeker and Lysandre, it is not that hard for them to get access to a Lysandre early on. So IF you open Wobbuffet, theres a high chance they bench it, and a reasonable chance they just set up past it anyways. The matchup also plays out where you need to get a 2nd Primal Groudon powered, and also often are faced with a late game N while you have no Stadium. These scenarios, which play out almost every game REGARDLESS of whether you have Wobbuffet or not, are much harder to deal with when you have no Shaymin or a more reliable engine.

The other decks which really abuse Shaymin looping are Seismitoad and Trev. Both of these are decks you play Groudon for because you are already very favored. You do not need Wobbuffet there. Against the fair decks, Wobbuffet's disruption is less effective, and you will feel the loss of the cards you give up to run Wobb. Perhaps I am overstating how bad I feel the card is in the deck. It isn't really -BAD- but I am almost certain it is not the optimal way to play Groudon. Jando Luna finished day 1 of Wisconsin Regionals as the 3rd seed ( day 2 was Expanded ) with the deck, but I do believe that is on the back of Jando's extremely strong play and Groudon just being an extremely good card at the moment.

An interesting split in builds for Groudon had some players running Focus Sash as their means to deal with Mega Rayquaza, and some playing Hard Charm. Both effectively require the Rayquaza player to burn a second turn to KO Groudon, often costing them two prizes in the process. Both Tools have different strengths, but I feel in most games that Rayquaza is able to win past them anyways. Worth noting is that I think that margin closes GREATLY if the Groudon build had access to better draw, allowing them to get Groudon powered quickly and increasing the chance it can get the second Groudon at all.

While I was entirely uninterested in playing Seismitoad EX, Primal Groudon is a card I would absolutely have been down to play for the event. Worth noting, at the end of the first day, the top 3 seeds were Ross Cawthon with Raichu Crobat, Andrew Mahone with Raichu Ninetales, and Jando Luna with Groudon. I believe the next few seeds were not Seismitoad either. The archetype put plenty of people into day 2, but at the end of the day, it was decks built to beat Toad which rose to the top.

That brings up the next card I was very interested in playing: Raichu. I had an 8 hour drive to Wisconsin with Andrew Mahone, who had been on Dragon Rayquaza at the time. While discussing the format, I stressed how strong I felt Raichu was, and that with a powerful Shaymin EX engine and a lot of Muscle Bands, that it had an easy time with Seismitoad EX decks. It also smashed Trevenant. We spent a lot of time brainstorming what to pair it with, discussing Crobat, Empoleon, Rayquaza, Garbodor, and others. By the end of the card ride, he was sold on Raichu, and overnight he and Nick Bailey had developed the Ninetales Raichu build, which Brit Pybas then also used to win Sunday's League Challenge. I am not going to go over the deck too much myself because I know Mahone plans to write on it, and I'll gladly give him dibs there. ( Thanks again for the shout out on the stream interview! )

Raichu is just such a proactive powerhouse now. Hitting 180 damage is so good against a number of decks. Doing that 180 for CC makes the card powerful against the Item lock decks. It also can abuse the Skyfield/Shaymin engine to give it blistering speed and consistancy everywhere else. While it may not get ALL the OHKOs Rayquaza can, it really only misses on Mega and Primal Pokemon. In those matchups, you benefit from the fact that you are swinging with non-EX Pokemon.

I actually do not feel that Ninetales is the optimal partner for Raichu, honestly. I think it is good ( I am far more friendly to the pairing than I am on Wobbuffet with Groudon ) but I feel like there is something better. I'm not sure what it was, and the deck WAS pretty much built on one night of testing. Raichu is pretty non-demanding on space, so you can run almost anything alongside it. It makes it really difficult to really run through all of the options.

Ross paired it with Crobat, which gives you additional damage output. Crobat also loves the widened bench. Ross, in typical Ross fashion, ran a ton of tech Pokemon in his list, including Kecleon and Yveltal EX. Kecleon is actually fairly impressive. It can copy Quaking Punch, and can copy Emerald Break. I'm not even sure Raichu Crobat is the ideal pairing for it. I just imagine how good the card could be in a deck with energy acceleration. Imagine it paired with my good, old friend the Bronzong. With a Metal Links and a DCE, this stupid little Colorless Pokemon can come out of no where and Emerald Break a Mega Rayquaza. Kecleon was a card I really hadn't even so much as glanced at prior to this weekend, and now it is one I am really excited to explore.

On the topic of Metal Pokemon, there was a startling amount of Metal being played at Wisconsin! Aegislash EX was identified as being a strong card for the weekend. It was hard for Rayquaza decks to OHKO ( I've usually had no real issue being able to just get KOs with all Basic Energy, but it requires a lot of work ) and it was good against Toad and Trevenant as well. Even more surprisingly, I saw a number of decks using Klinklang to grant EX protection for all of the player's Metal Pokemon. My friend ran Groudon Wobbuffet, and lost a late round to a Metal deck because he had no means to win once they got up Klinklang. Safeguard can be played around by Silent Lab, but that doesn't do anything against "safeguarded" Evolutions. I know my pet deck, Rayquaza, has no way to realistically win once a Klinklang got set up!

My friend Carl opted to run a Fairies deck at the last minute, running a bunch of defensive Safeguard cards and Florges EX alongside a thinner Gardevoir line. He was banking on decks being very weak to Safeguard, while hoping Xerneas' Geomancy and Florges EX offered pretty good offense against Item locks. He caught some poor variance and finished 5-3-1. He wasn't the only player to use a Fairy-box approach. My biggest objection is that I feel like the deck is still clunky ( Carl will argue me to death on this! ) because it is just so much slower than the other decks now. It was slower prior to Roaring Skies, but the margin was thinner. Now it is really noticable. Between watching some of his games and seeing other Fairy players play, I just felt like there was too much misfiring from the deck. There isn't a lot of space available in the deck, and its pretty constrained in terms of what it can do to fix this.

Finally, we'll get to the obvious deck which I was going to play: Crayquaza. I hadn't made a ton of changes to the deck since it's inception. I confirmed Altaria over Virizion EX and Exeggcutor pretty early on. After cutting Virizion, I switched the Grass Energy to Fire or Fighting Energy to try and piggyback off of Scorched Earths.

I played a ton of games on PTCGO with the deck against friends, and grinding 8 man Standard events. One of the most annoying things I had to deal with were Night March, Safe Guard, and struggling with my draw after I exhausted my Shaymin supply and had to Trump Card (RIP ).

I decided to take a page out of Night March and Flareon decks, and added an Empoleon and an Archie's Ace In The Hole. Empoleon's Ability was strong with keeping the engine flowing in the late game after the initial burst turn. It also was a clean answer against Safeguard Pokemon. ( It would have offered some sort of game plan against Klinklang even! Well. Not enough, I don't think. ) It also was a non-EX Pokemon which could mess up an exchange when dealing with Night March or Raichu heavy decks. The card played quite well in testing for me when I had it.

Here was the list:

That 4th Supporter slot which had been contested over by Winona, Skyla, and a second Colress had finally been secured by Archie's Ace In The Hole. I cut the 3rd Exeggcute reluctantly for the Empoleon while making the energy Water. I'd been torn between a pair of Switch and a split with Escape Rope, but went with Rope as Wobbuffet gained popularity. I didn't feel it was absolutely necessary, but I did like the chance to hedge vs it a bit more still.

I played this list quite a bit online, and was running positive against everything but Toad and Trevenant. That is actually a bit of a lie...I was actually running really successfully against Seismitoad decks, but that was a lot of variance. I think I wound up with something absurd like a 15-4 record against Quad Toad decks. Despite this, I still acknowledged that the matchup was not good for me at all. The main way I would win was by getting such an explosive first turn that I was able to race the Hammers. Shaymin attacks, Rayquaza EX attacks, and Empoleon swings gave me some fringe wins as well.

Since most of the wins came on the back of me overloading a Rayquaza and pretty much racing the Hammers by a turn or two at most, it makes sense that Trevenant was a much harder matchup for the deck. On one hand, when it goes first, I don't get turn to "go off" at all. Even when I do, I then have to take SIX KOs opposed to THREE. There is no way I race the Hammers in that sort of scenario. On the other hand, there are actually games where I can Lysandre up a Shaymin and get my "turn" in, using VS Seeker to re-stock Lysandre for the next turn. I feel that if I were to run an additional Lysandre and maybe a Jirachi EX that I could make the matchup palatable.

Now, I had two options. Accept a loss to Item Lock, or find some way to fix it. My initial plan was to just accept it as unfavorable. Nothing was great against EVERY deck in the field. Rayquaza beat everything but Item Lock decks, and I was having reasonable success against Toad. I was unsure how much Trev to even expect. Toad was a guaranteed presence: Trees less so. I was also unsure how many people would be playing mirror focused Toad decks, and how many would people would have moved on to decks to beat Toad. I was hoping for less Toad players, and more people prepared to beat them for me.

On top of this, and this is very important, is the concept of the "draw bracket". With Swiss pairings, players are matched up to players with similar records. Some players will get paired up or down. In general, you avoid this, especially in large events like this. Now, once you take a draw, you are paired against other players who also have draws. Meaning you are more likely to get additional draws, as generally these are slower, grindier decks. Now, if you know anything about these Item lock decks, you know that they play very long grindy games, and they often draw. I have a legitimate question for you: After 5 rounds, how many Toad decks do you expect to legitimately not have even a single draw? While this is very telling of the time limit, I'd say anywhere from 2/3rds to half of the Toad decks in the field would have split a match by that point. Rayquaza does not draw. Especially not if you play it fast on your end. As a tournament progresses, you become less likely to play against the Item lock decks. In Magic, this is mirrored by the idea that once you get into the draw bracket, all you play against is control decks, and clunky, slow midrange decks. You rarely ever see the aggro decks in the draw bracket. Once you evaluate it this way, you realize that the meta game splits at the "clean" and "draw" bracket, and that there isn't actually just ONE universal metagame at an event. If I were playing and it was early into the event and I took a draw, I would legitimately concede to avoid the draw as what it does to my proposed matchups is far more detrimental to me than the extra point is.

None the less, I had an epiphany, so I found a bit of a solution to the Item Lock problem! I included a list for Turbo Groudon in my last article, using Shaymins and Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick (*snickers* ) to power out a quicker Primal Groudon. I have no idea why it took me so long after running Empoleon to realize I could just swap out it and Archie for a lone Primal Groudon and his buddy Maxie.

Here is what I wound up with:

Besides the obvious swap, I also needed a 4th Fighting Energy! I couldn't a spot where I couldn't prize EITHER piece of the puzzle, OR a single Energy. Those odds were just too bad. The 4th Fighting alleviates a lot of that pressure. The obvious plan here is, against Toad or Trevenant, rather than using the deck's engine to chase a turn 1 Emerald Break, you chase the turn 1 Primal Groudon.

Unless things pan out perfectly, you aren't just going to dump a ton of energy with Mega Turbo onto the Groudon on the first turn, but you are able to reliably put a few down, while also leaving your deck fairly well situated to be composed of energy and Supporters to get the energy in the next few turns. Once you do that, you can sweep with Groudon against Toad.

Trevenant is still hard because you actually can't get enough KOs if they don't help you with Stadium cards. You have enough against Toad, especially since you can be ok just getting a two hit in there. Assuming you do not prize a piece of the puzzle, you can get a turn 1 Primal Groudon roughly 70% of the time. When you do that, you win about 85% of those games vs Toad. With this side "combo" in the deck, you actually take your Toad matchup to around 50-50. Between games where Groudon wins you the game, and the times you can't get him but manage to steal games the "old fashioned way" Toad became more than an acceptable "bad matchup".

That said, you are still a big underdog against Trevenant, and the Crawdaunt builds of Toad. You don't have enough Fighting Energy to get even one ( generally ) stripped by Crawdaunt without that plan pretty much collapsing. You actually are just better off chasing the supercharged Ray plan in that matchup because at least you pressure their Toads and may make them miss a Punch or SOMEHOW race them.

Now, the removal of Empoleon brings us back to not having a great answer against Safeguard. "Altaria Swarm" doesn't quite get the job done here. This makes me want a Silent Lab. With just a lone copy, that problem goes away because of how easy it is to loop with Trump Card.

The other "problem" is Hard Charm. Not only did some Groudon builds opt for it, but Dragon Rayquaza builds were running it too to hit 250 effective HP. The best "solution" for this would be to run an Iris. There are some other ways to approach getting extra damage, but I feel like Iris is the strongest because it is easiest to grab and re-use as a Supporter. To make it more lucrative, it is a "soft" answer against Safeguard. Altaria 3 or 4 hitting a Safeguard Pokemon is not going to get the job done. If you can loop Iris to 2 shot them, on the other hand, it becomes quite winnable. Iris is clearly a worse counter than a real attacker like Empoleon or Silent Lab, but it gives you an out.

Anyways, that would have been the deck I would have played. At UK Nationals over the weekend, my friend Kristen did use the list, and she finished in 12th place out of I believe 250ish players. Congratulations, you made Crayquaza proud!

Anyways, had we not had our surprise banning, I would have been very interested in exploring both Raichu variants and some kind of speedier Groudon approach in addition to Rayquaza. Now, though, we have a whole new, wide open metagame to look at.

Outside of being glad to get rid of a very imbalanced card in Trump Card, I'm excited about this banning because it opens the format wide for US Nationals. I was somewhat excited in 2011 when we had a mid-season rotation into HGSS onward, until I realized it was the worst format I had ever played in. I am optimistic this format will be a bit better.

So, lets look at the biggest "losers" from the Trump Card banning. Crayquaza is going to be...hard pressed, to continue to exist as a deck. Too many games it has to Trump cards back into the deck. The way it is built has just enough copies of way too many cards. You end up discarding too many pieces in too many games.

Rayquaza isn't inherently dead, but you have to rebuild it with a more "fair" engine.
The Item Lock decks also have to restructure themselves. Losing the endless loop of SSU and Hammers denies the deck it's raw inevitability. I was already leaning towards enjoying the Crawdaunt builds of Toad, and now I'm favoring that even further. Maybe something like Yveltal Seismitoad may become viable again. You are no longer kind of priced in to abusing the extreme lock builds because well...a lot of that lock is gone now. I feel like Toad is still a strong card, but not nearly as abusive as it had become. I think Trevenant still has some power paired with a couple of Gengar EX for some hit and run action. I forgot to mention it earlier, but at Wisconsin Regionals, a lot of the Tree lists had adapted that, including the build Kevin Baxter opted to run.

Also worth noting are the decks which GAINED from this banning: Night March and Flareon. I'm actually not sure Flareon is worth playing still, as I feel like Night March may just be the better deck since it can become so fast with Shaymin now. It is not difficult at all for the deck to hit 180+ damage on the first turn now. Previously, Toad decks could just Trump it all away, but now, it seems far too easy for Night March to actually just power past even Seismitoad, its former counter, during its "free" from Quaking Punch turn. My initial thought is that Night March is just extremely degenerate now that we have this extremely fast engine and the card which single handedly kept it in check now just got stripped from the format. If my testing confirms what I suspect, I feel like they almost needed to ban something to balance this deck now that they took out Trump.

While discussing how oppressive Night March is looking, I thought up some of the "counters" for it.

The first thing that came to mind for me was Donphan with Robo Subs and Focus Sash. The prize exchange should be strong enough to allow you to actually race them even if they start OHKOing you on the first turn of the game. Donphan kind of fell off the map because it just fell behind on damage output and struggled vs the newest incarnations of Item Lock decks.

Pyroar is a "counter" to Night March, but that seems fairly sketchy to me. I feel like it is just so bad against everything else that even if it did beat Night March that it wouldn't be competitive. To top it off, Night March could do some sort of Flareon hybrid like it had in the past. It can definitely make adjustments to be able to deal with Pyroar.

An interesting idea is to use Ninetales to lock out Dimensional Valley. This is somewhat useful, but a lot of work. You have to counter the Valley prior to the Ninetales being played. You have to not get your Vulpix(s) killed. You have to not get your Ninetales killed. You have to hope the lack of Valley slows them down enough that they can't win past it. I do like the idea that it is a package you can add to a "real" deck that allows you to compete without having to completely overhaul the deck.

If you rely purely on non-EX attackers, you can maybe win the exchange if you are able to pick off EXes like Mew or Shaymin without giving them up in return. One of the big problems I see with this idea is that in order to keep your attackers flowing ( I assume most other non EX attackers will be some form of evolution, so Night March should take the first KO and be ahead from the start. ) you'll likely need to be using Shaymin EX yourself, which lets them match your "accelerated" prize track you are chasing.

The Crobat line works alright against Night March too. It'll be interesting to see exactly how this matchup ends up playing out. I imagine it comes down to how good of a start and draws the Crobat deck has.

Anyways, I want to conclude this with basically spamming a bunch of speculative lists for you all. I hate not having anything more concrete, but I would hope that is a bit forgiven since its been less than two days at time of writing since the banning was announced.



[+5] okko


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