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Chris Fulop

Shipping Off To Boston

A Comprehensive Look At Two Lists For Metal Rayquaza, The Deck I Feel Is The Play For Worlds 2015

08/07/2015 by Chris Fulop

Hello again, everyone!

 

I have a real change of pace for everyone today...

Yes, I have decided on the deck that I think is the correct call for Worlds. I know there is irony in that, the one time I do not have my invite, I actually know what I'd play for the event. Every year I qualified, I was always in a panic up until the last minute trying to figure out what I wanted to sleeve up. As a result of this, I want to spend this article going over the deck that I've focused in on over the past couple of weeks. I've found it challenging to try and test both for Boston and for the upcoming season, and with Worlds coming up so soon, and Ancient Origins not available on PTCGO yet, I've dedicated my time to trying to solve our current format. For those who have already moved onto testing XY-onward, my next article and beyond will be dedicated to that. For now, I want to buckle down and go over my choice for what to play for the 2015 World Championships: Metal Rayquaza. 

 

This is the archetype I feel is the best-positioned going into Worlds, and absolutely what I would be using if I were playing in the event. (This holds true to the big Boston Open being held there as well.) For those of you who have read my articles for most of this year, I have been a huge fan of Bronzong since its release in Phantom Forces. I used it all through Cities to obtain 120/200 Championship Points, hampered by two major problems. The first is that after the first weekend of Cities, myself, Andrew Mahone, and Carl Scheu took First through Third with the archetype. From then on, the deck had a major target on its head, and I was facing a fairly hostile metagame despite sticking to my guns.

The bigger issue was that the deck worked really well in Swiss, putting me into Top Cut at five of six events, but I would often split a series 1-1 in Top Cut, and lose the third game on time due to the slower nature of the deck. As a result, the build was just not as effective at matchplay as it was in Swiss, and it took me way too long to realize this. Despite this, I used the deck at Regionals, taking the deck to Day 2 and an eventual Tenth Place finish. I happily made the archetype a bit of my pet project, and feel like I have a pretty strong understanding of it. Now, with the release of Primal Clash, the deck had lost a lot of viability with the shifts in the metagame. With Roaring Skies, Bronzong saw a major revival, with two new variations of the deck making it into the metagame: Bronzong/Rayquaza, and Bronzong/Klinklang.

Both archetypes managed to place themselves into the Top 8 of U.S. Nationals, and both wound up falling in the Top 8. Jason Klaczynski dispatched Klinklang in Top 8 with his Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor deck while Grant Manley's Mega Manectric/Garbodor deck defeated Metal Rayquaza. Klinklang was a bit out of left field. I actually saw multiple copies of the deck played at Wisconsin Regionals, which I judged, but most people wrote it off as a pretty subpar deck, not the real threat the deck actually wound up being. In fairness, to defend this assessment slightly, the format was quite different due to the presence of Lysandre's Trump Card. The explosive and durable nature of decks with Trump Card available really did make Klinklang a harder deck to get behind at the time.

I actually think the Klinklang deck is very good, and definitely a tier-one choice for the event (I mentioned in my last article that I felt it would be a surprisingly popular choice at the event. I stand by this. I feel like it is still a bit off-the-radar, and has a lot of near-autowins. I think people will come to the same conclusion I have: that the deck is the real deal.) That said, I prefer Bronzong's partner to be Mega Rayquaza-EX instead.

First and foremost, I love the extremely aggressive nature of the deck. Rayquaza packs a massive punch, and is the opposite of "grindy". The traditional Metal deck was the textbook definition of grindy, which is why so many of its matches wound up a draw. Klinklang is...well, I don't think "grindy" is the word for it. On one hand, it is slow still, but in many matches Klinklang offers an extremely hindering "soft lock," at which point the grind kind of stops. Nonetheless, both decks are likely to struggle somewhat with closing games out in the timeliest fashion. With Rayquaza, if you get a great start, you are often just favored to win. If your opponent stumbles, you come out of the gates with so much pressure it is likely to snowball into a win for you. (One of the things I love with Bronzong decks is how resiliant to N they are. They are unparalled in terms of having self-sustaining resources in play and not needing much out of your hand.) Those traits are somewhat intrinsic to all archetypes, but some decks are better at exploiting them than others. If needed, the deck can take a lot of prizes in a short period of time since Mega Rayquaza is capable of one shotting most Pokémon. (I can't believe I'm saying that about 240 damage, but Wailord and a Hard Charmed Primal Groudon can take the hit.) If I'm playing a ton of rounds of Pokémon against the world's very best players, I'd rather not be picking up draws. I want to position myself so that if I need to win a Game 3, I actually can do so reliably. The deck isn't anywhere near as fast as the old turbo Rayquaza builds, but it is still able to close games pretty quickly.

One other the other things I like about decks which have the ability to one-shot almost any Pokémon is that they are also generally good against surprise decks at an event. You have at least some sort of game against anything unexpected. That is an intangible that is a bit comforting when entering a huge tournament like this. One of the problems you face with grindier decks, and with decks that aim to specifically counter certain archetypes, is that you often end up disadvantaged against rogue showings. There is something to be said about raw power.

Anyways, broad justifications for picking the deck aside, lets look over the actual numbers in the list.

3-3 Bronzong: First off, lets note that the space in the list is going to end up being tight, and certain numbers wind up being run at their minimum counts to handle this. With a format that is now pretty defined, you find yourself having to run counter cards in lists to try and beat all of the expected archetypes. As a result, we aren't realistically able to fit a 4-4 Bronzong into this list. I would be hard-pressed to go beyond a 4-3 line anyways. In some Bronzong decks, you need to reliably spam Metal Links to keep your attackers going, but the need for Metal Links is lessened here. Mega Rayquaza is pretty sturdy, and since you rely on DCE so much to power it up, you only really need one Metal Links to get attacking. (Unless you are facing an Aegislash-EX, of course!) Ultimately, I'm not too concerned with bulking up the line.

3-3 Mega Rayquaza-EX: As your primary attacking line, you want to make sure you can get at least two of these attacking over the span of a game. With a 2-2 line, this is really risky, especially if you prize a piece of it or have to discard something. A 4-4 line is excessive, as the engine makes getting them out fairly easy. There isn't too deep a reasoning here, as 3-3 seems to be pretty standard. Turbo Rayquaza builds go with thicker lines, but they also lack the secondary attackers which Bronzong gives us access to.

2 Heatran: Heatran is one of the best attackers in any Bronzong deck. I've seen most lists run a lone copy of this Pokémon, and I think that is wrong. The card is great against Crobat decks (Fighting versions in particular!). It is necessary to deal with Safeguard Pokémon. (This isn't entirely true, as you could use Bronzong to attack, but I'd rather not let it come to that.) Against decks like Night March or Flareon (which is admittedly not exactly a tier-one deck at the moment) having access to enough non-EX attackers is important. Raichu may not have had the most success at Nationals, but the card is still very good, and extremely difficult for Mega Rayquaza to deal with in this build. Traditional Rayquaza builds have access to Altaria and are quick enough to try and race Raichu. We need to accept that Rayquaza is pretty much a no-go against any build with Raichu in it, and I don't want to be caught ill-prepared to deal with it if I don't have to. Aegislash-EX and Kecleon are both weapons in the matchup too, but I'd rather not be too light on answers.

Another problem card for the deck can be Manectric-EX. Rayquaza is Weak to it, even though it can OHKO Manny back in return. I want to have attackers I can lead with so I can bait out Manectric and get the first KO in the exchange. I'm not a big fan of Manectric, but it did well enough at Nationals and I expect it to see some play at Worlds. Heatran provides a hard-to-exploit, high-HP, non-EX attacker which covers enough territory that Rayquaza is Weak against that I really prefer having a second copy to make sure I can rely on it. Having stressed that, I have a large list of cards I'd like to fit in the deck, and it is possible that trimming this to one ends up being a necessity.

1 Kecleon: Kecleon is your counter to Raichu, other Rayquaza decks, and Seismitoad-EX. For a DCE, Kecleon can copy Raichu's attack. It can copy Emerald Break, as a Basic, non-EX Pokémon. I actually was fairly excited to try out Turbo Rayquaza again, since its harder matchups (Raichu, Night March, and Shaymin-fueled Seismitoad decks) did fairly poorly at U.S. Nationals. Unfortunately, the deck just can't really win against Metal decks, as Kecleon is just such a monster against it. The card is too easy to get out, and just ruins the prize exchange. Metal Rayquaza not only has Aegislash as a means to put up a wall against Rayquaza that slows it down by making it need all Basic Energy, but also the Kecleon to drive the nail in the coffin.

I had always used my own copies of Seismitoad-EX as a means to initiate the "Quaking Punch war". Letting Toad decks have access to Laser, Hammers, and their entire engine while I'm unable to use Items is brutal. Once the Metal decks get set up, they are pretty strong against Toad's damage output. The point I made previously about the deck being self-sustaining on board once set up holds especially true, as eventually you hit this critical mass where their disruption barely impacts you anymore. (Garbodor builds are more dangerous, as they cut you off of Metal Links, so the Energy removal effects are more threatening.) By copying their Quaking Punch with Kecleon, you are able to buy time under reduced pressure and disruption while you set up. One of the really obnoxious parts of using an actual Seismitoad-EX in this deck was dealing with its heavy Retreat Cost. I'd often lead with it, and then have to struggle to get it to the Bench when I wanted to switch gears and start attacking. It certainly wasn't a dealbreaker for running Seismitoad itself, but Kecleon's 1 Retreat Cost is definitely a nice selling point.

1 Aegislash-EX: I actually am very unimpressed by Aegislash-EX, and may wind up cutting it. That sounds like blasphemy, but the card has such a different M.O. compared to what the rest of the deck is trying to do at the moment. By sitting and walling yourself behind Aegislash, you are giving up on using the rest of the cards you built your deck around. Rarely do I find myself in positions where I feel like hiding behind Aegislash grants me the best line to win a game. This is particularly dangerous since Metal decks are on the radar again, and decks which are particularly weak to Aegislash are increasingly more likely to run Silent Lab, which can really punish you and potentially give up two Prizes. Garbodor saw play in Seismitoad decks, but also alongside Raichu and Landorus-EX, a deck piloted to Day 2 success by Steven Bates among others.

I feel like the decks Aegislash is good against are forced to prepare for the card, and that, in general, there is a disconnect between what this card offers and what the deck is trying to do. Another huge problem is that the damage output this build can obtain with Aegislash is actually quite low. We do not have Muscle Bands (in the core list at least!) and are only running four Metal Energy. All of this adds up to Aegislash underperforming for me. All of this negativity aside, he still has a place in the list. I do like how he can play defense in the first few turns, and there are matchups where you can kind of drive an opponent into a position during the exchange that they are left without good options for attacking into an Aegislash. I'm not certain it is enough to earn its keep in a deck that is stressed for space, though. There are much better Metal variations (Klinklang, in particular!) to use Aegislash in, and I just feel it is at its absolute worst in this one.

1 Keldeo-EX: Keldeo-EX (and his Prized possession, the Float Stone) was a card I was extremely stubborn about not including in my old Metal builds. Why do I have a change of heart now? Well, the biggest contributor to this is Sky Field. Previously, Bench space was a major issue for the Bronzong decks. Sky Field alleviates a lot of this problem. Beyond this, I mentioned before how the deck is less Bronzong-dependant, which makes it so you do not need to have two or three Bronzong on your Bench to function. So between that and Skyfield, having a freeloading Keldeo-EX is much more stomachable.

Beyond this, the deck is weaker to Seismitoad-EX than the old list. Without the dedicated counter-Toad gameplan, or Cobalion-EX, having a means to switch your Active Pokémon is really useful, even if they Punch before you get Float Stone into play. Running the full set of Switches I used to run doesn't really help there. I felt like you didn't really need this extra strength against Toad previously, but with the Rayquaza build, I think it is a nice edge to have.

With Shaymin-EX, it is also a lot easier to compile the pieces necessary to get the Keldeo/Float Stone combination going. Also, the previous builds of Metal were very reliant on Muscle Band for key damage points, so if you ever had to "Switch" early game using a Float Stone, it became an issue as it locked Band off that Pokémon for the game. With Rayquaza doing 240 damage, though, Muscle Band is no longer a concern.

Finally, Keldeo is very, very good against Wailord. They are going to stress the Energy on your Active Pokémon over the course of the game, and you will run out of Switch cards to keep Metal Linking back onto your attacker. Keldeo gives you an effective "unlimited" amount of attachments over the span of the game, even if you just Retreat the Energy off every few turns. The setup of Heatran, two Bronzong, and a Keldeo-EX is pretty much a lock against Wailord decks. If you want to use Rayquaza-EX, it may work as well, but that requires you to fill your Bench further, and put yourself further at risk of running out of cards before you chew through their healing. Rayquaza also struggles against Suicune, forcing you to switch between the attackers, wasting turns. I actually haven't attempted the matchup too much using the Rayquaza because I've had such good results with Heatran, but I imagine it works as well. (I hope you do not mind that I have been neglecting my Wailord testing. The matchup is miserable to play out, and I expect very little of it to be played.)

3 Shaymin-EX: Shaymin is pretty much mandatory in all decks, in my eyes. I really wanted to run four copies of this card in this deck, but settled on three in the end. First off, unlike Turbo Rayquaza, this deck has far more "clunky" cards that reduce the amount cycled through by spamming Set Up. It is still incredible, do not get me wrong, but I have fewer turns where I just burn through two or three of them chasing something. Since the deck is unable to get the actual turn-one Mega Rayquaza, you have less incentive to be so aggressive with Shaymin-EX.

I also feel like I prefer an additional draw Supporter over the fourth Shaymin-EX. Seismitoad is a deck that will be played at Worlds, and while I don't think that matchup is bad, I do like hedging against it some by diversifying the draw power.

The biggest argument I have in favor of a fourth Shaymin-EX is actually to help get the Basic Pokémon count higher than the fourteen I am at. Since this deck does not run any Exeggcute, there is no good way to always refill your Bench after a Sky Field gets countered. This isn't negligible, either. If three Sky Field get countered, you really can't get back up to OHKO range. I'm not sure a fourth Shaymin is the right addition to get a fifteenth Basic, though. Exeggcute, a fourth Bronzor, Cobalion-EX, a Jirachi-EX, and others are all in contention for that spot, if there is even room in the list.

4 Double Colorless Energy: Because 5 is illegal.

4 Metal Energy: This is a count I see people being way too conservative with. I see lists running five to seven Metal Energy, and that just feels like way too many. With Battle Compressor, you get them into the discard pile easily, and Bronzong recycles them. With Rayquaza being your main attacker, your demand for Metal is very low. The deck is already cramped for space; why run so many Energy? In order to maximize your Shaymin's Set Up strength, you want lower Supporter and Energy counts. Since you are already somewhat weak with having to run a Stage 1 Pokémon and are running more Supporters than normal Shaymin decks, you really cannot afford to also run a high Energy count. I actually want to take this somewhat unusual point in my assessment to mention why I'm running eight draw Supporters, as Seismitoad-EX is not the only reason. (I would not waste my time just for that matchup if it were unnecessary everywhere else.)

If you look at the more traditional Shaymin-EX engines, like the one I used in Crayquaza, you'll notice it ran four Shaymin-EX, four Trainer's Mail, some Acro Bike, etc. Those decks had to run a lot of Item cards to maintain the engine. When dealing with an engine, there is not a one-for-one exchange rate between an Item and a Supporter. Supporter draw is generally much more impactful. If you want to really skimp on Supporters, you can't just go from eight Supporters to four Supporters and four Items and expect similar results. This is a soft science and a rough estimation from me, but I feel like the ratio is close to needing two Items per Supporter cut. Ignoring my "guesstimation" on that math, the point is that with the extra space eaten up by Bronzong, you struggle to fit enough of the Item engine to get away with as depleted a Supporter count as I've run in other builds. Now imagine trying to make that work with six Metal Energy.

This total is one of the reasons why I don't like Aegislash as much in the deck. You wind up struggling to get enough damage output out of the Pokémon. I'd sooner get rid of the Aegislash for another Pokémon than try and fit enough Metal Energy for me to really like Aegislash-EX.

4 Colress: This is the best draw Supporter in the deck. Acknowledging that we have a Shaymin-based engine, our first turn should be pretty strong in most games. With less emphasis on skewing our Supporter counts towards turn-one plays, I generally want to be playing Colress over any other Supporter. I've been stubborn about this for a while now, and I'm not backing down on it. Colress is my favorite Supporter in almost every deck, and by an even wider margin in any Sky Field deck.

2 N: N is my second-favorite Supporter, in that it is a great turn-one play, but also offers up a role beyond drawpower which gives it some additional value that other non-Colress Supporters have. I don't think I have to go too deep into an explaination as to "why N is good" as thats a horse long beaten for the past four years or so.

1 Professor Juniper: I'm running a lone copy of this card as more of a safety net than any actual desire to run the card. Looking back a few articles from me, you'll see I'd have approached an engine like this with a four Colress/three N split. I'm being a bit conservative here by running the one Juniper as a target for Battle Compressor to get used with VS Seeker. I'd be a lot happier with this split if I were also running Jirachi-EX, which is still very much an option on the table to go alongside the three Shaymin-EX. As a disclaimer, the third N may be better than the one-of Juniper.

1 Skyla: Okay, I'll be getting some flack for this I think, but I'm going to stand by it! In most games, you end up Battle Compressing a number of your Supporters. I really like having access to a lone Skyla in decks like this so that I can search up one-of Trainers. In this build, we have a lone Revive, but also have quite a few trimmed down cards which can be crucial for us to function. With two Float Stone (and one Switch, just to diversify) and two Spirit Link, it can be challenging to find these cards early on. Skyla gives you a bit of insurance there to make them easier to get to. Shaymin-EX brings the card quantity, and Skyla gives you the option to search up specific cards. It is also still as good as ever with Computer Search, letting you get your DCEs.

This is also a deck that needs Sky Field, so having a card that can it for you is nice. Lastly, a major factor towards making Skyla appealing here is that if it is your only Supporter and you really just need to draw cards, it can get you Ultra Ball for Shaymin-EX. It no longer forces you to grab a Juniper and skip a turn of drawpower. I'll even go on record saying I've been happier with this Skyla than I have been with the Juniper. (I am so stubborn!)

4 VS Seeker: Because five is a big problem if deck checked.

2 Lysandre: Okay, we have some numbers here that are just really par for course. An interesting idea here is to actually trim it down to just one copy, since having some extra draw Supporters beyond the bare minimum frees VS Seeker up for Lysandre uses. On top of this, since you are just blasting Pokémon for 240 damage a lot of times, you don't really need to work around Pokémon much since it's generally better to hit the Active Pokémon, which generally has the Energy on it, to really drive home the advantage you have off of extra Energy attachments. I would just be particularly nervous about Prizing the card. I've played one copy in Turbo Rayquaza before and it worked out okay, so it isn't off-limits to try it out. It is a risk I'm a bit hesitant to take going into such a high stakes event, though.

4 Ultra Ball: I'm out of jokes about why I can't play more than four of a card.

3 Battle Compressor: This is one of the reasons you are able to get away with running only four Metal Energy. The card was always on the radar for Bronzong decks, but was often on the outside looking in. Traditionally, the decks were not fast enough to really benefit from the way this smooths out your setup. With Shaymin-EX added to the mix, its tips it over the top in my eyes. You can, in a way, view these as your additional Metal Energy, only they do not clutter your hands as much and streamline your future draws. The card is great at making your VS Seekers reliable and it enables a wider split of your Supporters. Nonetheless, since I have a long enough list of cards on the outside looking in, I could see trimming this down to just two copies if space needs to be made.

1 Computer Search: Because you can't run 2 ACE SPEC...actually, that's a bait-and-switch! I actually want to discuss the possibility of cutting Computer Search for Dowsing Machine. This deck is really tight on space, and I'm already down to two Spirit Link, and two Float Stone. Compuetr Search is awesome, but Shaymin grants us a pretty awesome engine and we don't need to get Rayquaza out until the second turn, so the consistancy is less stressed than in Turbo Rayquaza. If we added Dowsing Machine, I feel like we could make space by trimming to three Sky Field (defensible with the Skyla), possibly go down to one Lysandre, and feel a whole lot better about the thin Spirit Link and Float Stone count. I have a list of Trainer cards I'd like to run as well, and a Dowsing Machine would be great to re-use some of them. Also, the one Revive would really benefit from a Dowsing Machine too. If we want to stay greedy, since we have access to a second Revive if need be with Dowsing, going down to one Heatran is more stomachable. It all depends on how much space we want to make in the deck.

4 Sky Field: I've seen a lot of lists only run three of this card, and to a degree I get it. You don't need it on turn one every time like Turbo Rayquaza. I mentioned it before, but you are pressed to have enough Pokémon in your deck to refill your Bench if you actually get three copies of the card countered, so the fourth, in a Stadium war, is going to be pretty low-impact. That said, I like having reliable access to it. I hate getting a copy countered, being N'd, and struggling to find a replacement. You can get away with three, especially if my Dowsing Machine gambit is taken, but I feel like four is just so much safer. A final argument in favor of dropping down to just three copies is that you can do enough work with the deck's supporting cast that you may not need to use Emerald Break for 240 so many times that you just lose if you fail to secure a Sky Field. My biggest concern at only three copies is prizing a copy, as that could throw a real wrench into things.

2 Rayquaza Spirit Link: I feel like two is the proper count in this deck. Ideally, due to Rayquaza's Trait, you can just use the first turn to Mega Evolve Rayquaza and just attack on the second turn since you aren't chasing Mega Turbo to get that first turn attack ever. This isn't to say there aren't games where it becomes an inconvience, of course. I'd feel much more comfortable with the Dowsing Machine addition. It's actually interesting, as I'm writing this, I'm getting more and more excited by the prospect of what Dowsing Machine could do to the deck.

2 Float Stone/1 Switch: With Keldeo, we're stuck running only three switching cards. In my old Metal lists, I was a huge propponent of running four Switch, but that deck really needed control over its Active in the first turn. This deck has an increase in raw power, so it can afford a bit of a clunkier start, even though Shaymin-EX makes it so that the deck is actually just a lot more consistent overall. Both of those factors really make it so a decrease from four to three is fine. This is especially the case since Keldeo with Float Stone offers repeated "Switch" uses with Rush In, so over the course of a long game, the decreased count isn't really felt. The third switching card is currently an actual Switch, but it could wind up a third Float Stone, an Escape Rope (unlikely) or an AZ, which is certainly clunkier, but offers up healing and repeated uses off of VS Seeker. If going with Dowsing Machine, there is incentive to run the one Switch too, as it can be retrieved, whereas Float Stones stick in play. This is rarely going to come up, but it's worth trying to analyze all aspects of card choices, just in case.

1 Revive: Revive is simply an insurance policy to help fill in lines. With 3-3 lines of both Bronzong and Rayquaza, we're cutting both somewhat short. Beyond this, our attacker line is very spread out. You can't fit multiple copies of all of them, so having a nice "wild card" which can be a second copy of any of them is the best solution for space conservation when wanting to add additional copies of a whole lot of Pokémon. This is another card which really makes me like Skyla in this deck. Being able to search out Revive at the opprotune time is very powerful.

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I want to go over a few of the cards I'd love to fit into this deck that currently did not make the cut.

1 Xerosic: Xerosic has been in and out of Metal lists for a while now. I think now is a great spot for it, though. Garbodor has seen play with Toad and with Raichu. Garbodor had been on the shelf for a while, but made a resurgence in part because everyone has cut Startling Megaphone and Xerosic from their lists.  Now, I feel like the trend may need to shift back the other way, as I wouldn't be surprised by more Garbodor at Worlds. Of all the hyped cards coming out of Nationals, it's flying a bit under the radar, but still seems strong against the decks which are garnering more attention.

Beyond Garbodor, there are two cards which are a huge thorn in this deck's side that Xerosic answers: Hard Charm and Focus Sash. Wailord is running Hard Charm as a means to reach an effective 270 HP for resisting being one-hit KO'd. While Rayquaza still caps at 240 damage, 10 shy still, it does make Heatran capable of a two-hit kill, as opposed to needing to push for three. While Wailord isn't a matchup I feel really needs help, being able to skirt around any 240 HP Pokémon suited up with it is nice. (This sadly won't work on Primal Groudon, due to it's Trait, though.) This is the lesser of the two Tools to be concerned with, though.

Fighting decks have taken to running Focus Sash to dodge OHKOs. I ran a pair in my Fighting/Crobat deck at Nationals, and the card almost singlehandedly won me my Round 1 match against Taylor Mitchell's Metal Rayquaza deck and my later match against Colin Peterik's Turbo Rayquaza. Focus Sash is such a pain for this deck that I absolutely want an answer to it.

Xerosic is also just an extremely versatile card. While the decision to run it usually stems from the fact your deck needs to answer Tools, having the secondary option to discard Special Energy cards is always welcome. This isn't really the deck that benefits too much off of that, as you are generally prepared to just trade hits and come out ahead anyways. It is far from useless though, and should come up frequently enough.

1 Muscle Band: Okay, I'm sure someone is thinking, "Why do you need Muscle Band if you hit for 240 anyways???" Well, because sometimes you want to hit for 260! Paired with Xerosic, a Band on a Mega Rayquaza can actually one-shot a Wailord once you purge its Hard Charm. It also lets you OHKO a Hard Charmed Primal Groudon.

The most important part is that it lets Heatran hit 150 damage. On one hand, it lets it two-shot a Wailord-EX even with a Hard Charm on it. I've kind of saved the primary purpose for last, though, which is letting Heatran OHKO a Klinklang, since it can't be hit by your Pokémon-EX.  The Klinklang matchup isn't actually that unfavorable in the first place (I won't call it favorable, but it's certainly winnable) but if you have the ability to actually take out a Klinklang in one shot, it ups your percentages quite a bit. You really have to fear a strong Klinklang presence at the event to run this. I'll repeat the trend, but this is the type of card that would greatly appreciate the Dowsing Machine. Klinklang aside, Heatran hitting 150 could have random applications against other non-EX Pokémon. Nothing comes to mind, but if anything unexpected pops up, it does let you hit another magic number.

1 AZ: I mentioned in the switching card analysis that an AZ is appealing. AZ had been a mainstay in my Metal lists since the beginning, but the dynamic of the deck has changed so much that I feel the deck can just win exchanges against every deck, healing being unnecessary to do so. So why am I suggesting it here?

The card is very good against Crobat decks. Seismitoad/Crobat did well enough at Nats and I still like Fighting/Crobat. If you want a bit of extra insurance in those matchups, it is a good route to take. It also lets you reuse Shaymin-EX, or just remove them from your Bench, as they can be a late-game Lysandre liability. AZ is generally a useful tool to have available.

Why did I remove it from the deck, then? I didn't want to clog the deck too much with Supporters either. I'd rather its spot, which went to the Switch, be an Item than another Supporter. That was honestly a major decision point for me. I want to stress this as well: I would not consider adding both AZ and Xerosic at the same time. That would really start to push the boundaries of clunkiness in the deck.

1 Cobalion-EX: I've never been that sold on this Pokémon, but if you want some insurance against Seismitoad decks, he is a great option. It is a bit awkward in this deck since you generally want it against disruptive decks that compromise your more proactive gameplan, and with only four Metal Energy available, without being able to rely on Metal Links, Cobalion is a bit sketchy. Nonetheless, it is a good way to go over-the-top at beating Seismitoad-EX. Pairing it with the AZ or Xerosic should be a major tipping point there.

1 Exeggcute: I brought this little guy up earlier, and he likely isn't worth it, but I had just been so impressed by what he brought to the table in Turbo Rayquaza that I want to at least mention it here. It does such a good job of filling out your Bench both early, and after a discarded Sky Field. I feel like this type of consistency card is probably just too cute for a list that is already tight, though.

I want to offer up a list for what I would do if I were to cut Computer Search for a Dowsing Machine. It is interesting to see how one card can snowball into so many changes.

I mentioned before how I didn't want to add both a Xerosic and an AZ, and directly contradicted that with this list, but that is because I wound up cutting the Lysandre down to one copy, meaning I trimmed away a non-draw Supporter, which made it doable. I took the opportunity to cut some numbers to add a fourth Shaymin, and shift the second Heatran into a Cobalion-EX since it is possible to get a second Revive with Dowsing Machine now. Also, in this mess, the Aegislash still managed to avoid getting the axe. You got lucky, Aegislash, but your day may come.

Anyways, I also want to point out, having actually played things a bit, that Expanded is absolutely in need of some bans. The Shiftry deck is extremely dumb, and regardless of whether it is quite as consistant as it seems on the surface, it is wildly unhealthy for the format. On top of that, it offers up such an absolutely miserable play experience. I really do wish that we would get some sort of official confirmation regarding any bans for the format, but I expect to get them three days prior to the actual events, or something well in line with when we usually get important announcements. The point of me bringing this up is to note that I'm not going to be doing any sort of testing for Expanded until we actually get a ban list, which I am almost positive will be announced. I feel like taking the time to test what I imagine is a lame duck Expanded is not worthwhile, especially when it has been nothing shy of obnoxious so far. My time is already torn between helping my friends test for Boston and trying to get a feel for the upcoming Ancient Origins format.

Last year I got off to a very slow start to the format because the 300 CP cutoff for Worlds wasn't announced until after the first wave of Regionals, which really impacted how seriously I took those tournaments. As a result, I'm really determined to make a better run at things this year and actually start the season off right. I'd be lying if I said I was not disappointed in failing to qualify for Worlds this year. This has been the first season I have actively played where I did not manage to get my invite, and that has lit a pretty hot fire underneath me.

With that depressing note out of the way, I want to wish everyone going to Boston for whatever reason the best of luck! Worlds is always an absolute blast, and I am sure this year will be no different. I know that there are a lot of international readers on this site, and that means I haven't had a chance to actually meet a lot of you! Currently, I look to be in Boston from Thursday through Sunday, so please feel free to come up and say hello if you run into me! Half of the fun of these events is getting to meet a bunch of people, and I look forward to doing so this year!

 

Chris

[+15] okko


 

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