02/24/2016 by Chris Fulop
Hello again, everyone!
I actually wonder what percentage of articles I open with that exact line. It has to be a lot of them. Most of them? Almost all of them? Does that make it a personal tagline? If so, it is a pretty lame one. I'll opening admit to being rather poor at opening and closing my articles. Don't get me started on coming up with article names either. I need a PR guy for this stuff! Luckily, I doubt those things have anything to do with why you clicked to read this.
At the conclusion of this year's wave of City Championships, I was sitting at a respectable 180 Championship Points. I use the term respectable because it put me in a solid position to earn my invite if I were to get a reasonably run at Regionals and States, but at the same time I felt like I really underperformed at Cities. With an above average run there, I could have left myself in a really strong position to pick the invite up.
Of those 180 points, 45 came from Regionals, 25 from League Challenges, and 110 off of Cities. Assuming I am able to max out of LC points, adding 65 points to my total, I'd be sitting at 245 points. Had I converted one of my Cities top 8s into a win, I'd net an addition 30 points, putting me at 275. From there, all I'd need to do is top 64 a pair of Regionals, which should be fairly easy with enough travel. Instead, now I'm stuck in a position where I need to have some deeper day two runs to hit 300. I'm not saying this is unlikely to happen, or anything like that, but these events are large and it isn't hard to experience enough poor luck to wind up underachieving. It just puts a bit more stress on me to wind up hitting as many States and Regionals as I can.
This leads us into Virginia Regionals. The original plan was for myself, Dan Polo, David Cook and a fourth player to make the drive out to the event. Dan even booked a room at a nearby hotel for the event early. Of course, a few days prior to the event, our fourth drops out. We tried to rally up someone to go, to keep costs down, and failed. The day before, Cook also drops out, leaving the road trip to just me and Dan, and with costs doubling for the trip. This actually put the trip a bit outside of my budgeting, but I really couldn't justify not going. I want to thank Dan a ton for helping me out with cutting down on some of the cost, although I am pretty sure he just didn't want to end up driving all the way out to Virginia alone.
We leave at 1:00 PM on Friday, and with gas prices being as cheap as they are, decide it will be overall worth cutting costs by avoiding the brutal Pennsylvania toll roads on the way out. We were not in a rush, so adding an extra hour to the travel time, taking it up to about 8 hours, seemed worthwhile when our net expenses were a concern. This starts off as a great idea, as we got an early start so we'd be expected to arrive around 10 PM (we knew we'd stop for dinner and other various setbacks) but what we didn't account for was the weather. The forecasts we checked ahead of time (being the responsible adults that we are!) showed no potentially troublesome weather on our trip, and of course that was wrong. About an hour into the awful non-highways of PA, it starts to snow pretty heavily. For those of you unfamiliar with PA, it is very hilly, and its roads are pretty winding and steep at times. The snow wasn't really bad or anything, but it was enough of a problem with the re-routing we did to avoid the major toll roads, where the snow would not have been a problem.
Despite this, the trip out winds up being pretty uneventful outside of catching about a half hour delay due to a traffic stall caused by I believe an accident. We wind up getting to our hotel around 11, and I'm exhausted. For once, I knew exactly what deck I would be playing for the event, so I pull out my cards and sleeve it up. There were a few floating spots I was unsure of, but the overall shell of the deck was pretty set in stone. Yveltal/Raichu had treated me way too well so far this season for me to give up on it now.
Yveltal Raichu, Virginia Regionals
- 1x Yveltal EX
- 1x Yveltal
- 2x Yveltal
- 1x Darkrai EX
- 1x Keldeo EX
- 1x Hoopa EX
- 1x Jirachi EX
- 1x Shaymin EX
- 1x Jirachi
- 4x Pikachu
- 3x Raichu
- 3x Professor Sycamore
- 1x N-supporter
- 1x Colress
- 1x Ghetsis
- 2x Lysandre
- 1x Hex Maniac
- 1x AZ
- 1x Xerosic
- 1x Giovanni's Scheme
- 4x VS Seeker
- 1x Computer Search
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Dark Patch
- 2x Float Stone
- 2x Muscle Band
- 3x Sky Field
- 1x Buddy-Buddy Rescue
- 6x Darkness Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
Let’s go over the Pokémon first.
The most important parts of this deck are the 4-3 Raichu line, and the two Yveltal from BREAKthrough. There is something very important that needs to be understood about this deck over traditional Yveltal builds. I'm not aiming to pull off a turn one attack. In order to fit a Raichu line, you simply do not also have the space to be able to include enough Item based draw power to really pull this off reliably. Don't get me wrong, you get the turn one attack a decent amount of the time, but you don't build with that game plan in mind.
Unlike a normal Yveltal deck, you have two major differences. One, you attack primarily with non-EX Pokémon, and generally don't start swinging until that second turn. This isn't a problem though due to the fact that your opponent has to KO far more of your Pokémon due to that first trait. Turn one is often spent setting up. I've mentioned this before, but one of my favorite plays is to turn one Hoopa-EX into Shaymin-EX and Jirachi-EX to grab Ghetsis and slow them down. The deck can pull off a lot on the first turn, but it isn't really built to attack then.
To facilitate this non-EX game plan, we have a thick 4-3 Raichu line. Some people mistakenly view this deck as an Yveltal deck with Raichu support, when in fact it is absolutely the opposite. Raichu is the primary attacker in this decks. Breakthrough Yveltal is your secondary attacker, as it not only hits pretty hard, but it sets up KOs on-EX Pokémon on the Bench for Raichu or your-EX attackers. By running two, if you chain them together, a feat which isn't difficult due to the ability to power one up with a Double Colorless Energy and a Dark Patch, you can threaten a Bench KO on a Shaymin-EX or a Jirachi-EX while also smacking their active pretty hard. This is a card that pays extra dividends when run in multiples as it makes it far less likely that the 60 damage is left hanging somewhere on the Bench.
We do run a lone XY Yveltal, as it serves its roles and is another non-EX attacker, but it isn't as necessary in this deck as it is in other Yveltal builds. With Raichu swinging for a DCE, it frees up the Dark Patches to power up other attackers. Oblivion Wing is not necessary to keep up on energy attachments in Expanded as it is in Standard, and this is a deck that is a bit more proactive than some Yveltal builds. Once you start attacking on the second turn, it isn't that useful to let up the gas and only do 30-50 damage with an Yveltal very often. You don't run Hypnotoxic Laser, which is one of the reasons Oblivion Wing is a more reasonable attack in other Yveltal decks. In this deck, this Yveltal is a role player at best, and not something you really want to use every game, so one copy is fine. You don't even have the ability to reliably net an energy off of Oblivion Wing with it on the first turn due to the lack of Battle Compressor.
While the main game plan of the deck centers on swarming non-EX attackers, which also leaves the deck better equipped than a traditional Yveltal deck against Vespiquen, it does still run a Darkrai-EX and an Yveltal-EX as attackers. Yveltal-EX is just too good of a card, even if it isn't exactly what the deck wants to do. Its damage output, without Lasers, isn't as strong as Raichu, and if you are two hitting something, I'd rather use Breakthrough Yveltal in that role. I'd never consider cutting the Yveltal-EX or anything like that, and a second one isn't a bad inclusion, but again it is a secondary attacker in this deck, not a primary one. As for Darkrai-EX, it is primarily used for its Ability, but Night Spear is still a strong attack, and actually helps provide a nice set up hit for Raichu, and can continue to pressure the Bench like Yveltal. Darkrai plays the role of being a non-Lightning weak attacker in other Yveltal builds when playing vs Manectric, or even Raichu, but with Raichu already offering a solid attacker in those matchups that is less important. Since Breakthrough Yveltal spreading 60s does a TON to help the Mega Manectric matchup (Even past Rough Seas, this leaves Manectric in OHKO range of a Raichu) the inclusion of a second Darkrai which I had humored for that matchup in the past is obsolete.
Keldeo-EX helps deal with Special Conditions and gimmicky decks. The Keldeo/Darkrai combo (or Keldeo Float Stone combo) is great in the Toad matchups to circumvent their Lasers, and it is great against Accelgor decks and even a lot of Vileplume builds to just have better control over your board. Jirachi-EX, Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX are all for consistency, and are pretty thin lines in the deck, unfortunately. I'd like to fit a "fourth" one of these, and am actually leaning towards the Jirachi-EX. It is better against Toad and functions well with the toolbox of Supporters the deck runs. Shaymin-EX is weaker with a more "Fair" engine, especially with this deck also including a full evolution line. Shaymin has the benefit of being a bit beefier vs Lysandre and can rescue itself with Sky Return though, so it is a tough call. I've been more and more impressed by Jirachi-EX the more I play with it though.
Finally we round the deck out with a Jirachi promo, as it is a bit of a hedge against Toad decks. I wanted to have more non-EX Pokémon to fill my Bench with as well. Against Vespiquen, you want to keep a wide Bench, but also don't want to expose-EX Pokémon to allow them to jump the Prize exchange. Jirachi is situational, but it is great against Toad while having some application against Vespiquen and even mirror match. I'm not thrilled with the card, and while there are Trainer cards I'd love to add to the deck, this spot is locked in on being a Pokémon to help be able to fill my Bench for Raichu, and for that purpose, I think Jirachi here is the best use of the spot. (I COULD see an argument for another XY Yveltal to keep it as a non-EX and to give the deck a bit better odds of a turn one attack, or as the second Shaymin-EX or Jirachi, or the second Yveltal-EX.)
While there are a lot of one of Pokémon in this deck, I'm also running one Buddy Buddy Rescue as a wildcard Pokémon, more or less. It lets me have a 4-4 Raichu line, the third Breakthrough Yveltal (Which means you can snipe off a 180 HP-EX Pokémon!) or a second copy of the other attackers. Since the non-core attackers are somewhat matchup specific, this gimmick pulls a lot of weight.
Energy wise, I'm not happy having to run only six Darkness Energy, but the deck is tight on space. I'd love to see a seventh, but I think there are 2-3 other cards I'd run before it.
The Trainers haven't changed too much for the deck, outside of the fact that I wound up just jamming the deck full of utility Supporters since I feel they are super important in the metagame. Sycamore, N and Colress are all pretty obvious. I actually was torn between how to split these cards up, and wound up favoring the Sycamores heavily but that may be incorrect. Colress is by far the best Supporter in the deck a few turns into the game, and N is nice in that it doesn't discard key cards like Sycamore, but Sycamore is the best on turn one in a vacuum and the route I favored.
Ghetsis is my favorite Supporter in Expanded, and my ideal turn one play if my set up is otherwise solid. It can steal games, and usually at least slows decks down to my pace. I honestly think most decks should run it, unless there is a strong argument against it. It can be pretty good midgame too, stripping away VS Seekers. Players are less likely to pre-emptively use a VS Seeker against this deck once they see no Toad, and you can catch people late game with this to really crush a hand.
Lysandre is a card I do not have to even discuss at this point.
AZ is a card I love, as it helps me regulate my Bench as well as rescue damaged Pokémon. It is a Switch that works on Breakthrough Yveltal (Since I otherwise rely on Float Stone) and is a reliable searchable Switch (Off Jirachi) for those turn 1s I do have a possible turn one attack. The card is great against Toad decks, especially of the Crobat variety, and against decks hoping to pick off a vulnerable-EX on my Bench in their exchange, I can deny them that shot. (It is pretty important to have as an option against Vespiquen if you open with an-EX or have to Shaymin or Jirachi.) I'll admit I avoided testing the Sableye Garbodor matchup, but I'm pretty sure it’s fairly instrumental in that matchup as well.
While on that note, one of the final cards I included was Xerosic. It gets rid of Life Dew which is important both against Sableye decks, but also against Vespiquen. Beyond this, it has random anti-Tool applications (Such as turning off a Garbodor!), and also catches Special Energy cards. I felt like the metagame would be primarily Yveltal, Toad and Vespiquen decks, and pairing this ALONGSIDE Jirachi would REALLY pressure Toad decks. I didn't mind going overboard to beat up on a major archetype.
I'm also running a Giovanni's Scheme, a card that has infiltrated a decent number of decks in Expanded now. This lets me fill my Bench and hit 180 with a Raichu even past Quaking Punch if they establish the lock before I can get Muscle Band down. This is actually an interesting switch which I really, really liked. I simply cut the third Muscle Band for the Scheme. Scheme works under Item lock, is also a draw card, and works with Breakthrough Yveltal. It also works WITH Muscle Band in some scenarios...such as when you don't want to Bench Pokémon-EX vversus Vespiquen and need to hit 100 damage with a Raichu. Against Sableye Garbodor, it also lets Breakthrough Yveltal hit for 80 against a Dew'd Sableye if they don't have Garbotoxin active. Muscle Band was actually less incrementally relevant than it has been in the past, since I'm mainly swinging with Raichu which either OHKO non-EX Pokémon or can work double duty with BKT Yveltal to get the-EX KOs without it. That was the last change to the list, and one I was absolutely thrilled with.
Hex Maniac is another card I feel is almost mandatory. It’s good against Vileplume, and Accelgor, and just random situations in games. Yveltal decks with Archeops have popped up, and since this deck more or less demands the use of Raichu, I need the ability to turn off an Archeops for a turn to evolve. It is also backbreaking against Archie's Blastoise decks, and any Ho-oh decks that show up. SPOILER! A Mega Rayquaza deck Top 4'd this Regionals, and its great against that too, slowing their engine way down and also turning off Altaria so Raichu can take advantage of Rayquaza's Lightning weakness.
I mentioned the purpose of Buddy-Buddy Rescue earlier. Four Dark Patch is pretty mandatory. Four Ultra Ball, four VS Seeker, and one Computer Search are also self-explanatory. three Sky Field is plenty, because you don't need it on the first turn and if they counter all three of them, you can't fill your Bench up to take advantage of a fourth more or less anyways.
I was torn between two Float Stone, and cutting one of them for a Switch or Escape Rope. (Rope is awesome with BKT Yveltal too. Benching a damaged-EX they may promote to prevent that kind of snipe is cute but actually relevant.) The non-Tool switches work better with BKT Yveltal who can't use the Stone, but the strength of Float Stone on Keldeo-EX was too lucrative to pass up. It is so good if snuck under Quaking Punch against Toad, and it’s just generally nice to be able to drop before using a Supporter in case you don't know what you want to switch into. The two Stone decision did influence my choice to include Giovanni's Scheme since I'd be fighting over tool attachments less.
Anyways, I wind up with a full night’s sleep, as I passed out right after I built my deck while Dan went to go hang out with everyone at the adjacent Denny's that was the nightlife hotspot for the evening. I can't remember the last time I slept 8 hours before a tournament before, but it did feel kind of nice.
The tournament was a lot smaller than I expected, clocking in with I believe 299 Masters, which is way down from the 455 or so we had in Pennsylvania in the fall. I'm not sure what the cause of this drop off is. Perhaps some players had written off the season or have been more burnt out than they were at the start of it. Perhaps the reputation VA events have been garnering lately kept some players away. Since St. Louis wound up being the largest Regionals in history, I really doubt it’s the former now, though.
Dan decided to play his Durant deck which he had been testing, as he thought it was both fun and a pretty good metagame call. (He was onto something as Erik Nance, a fantastic player, also wound up playing Durant for the tournament.) Brian Baker made the trek out to the tournament as well, once again armed with his trusty Ho-oh Xerneas deck. He wound up starting 2-0, then drawing like the next 4 rounds...I actually think he drew more than that, and just conceded the final draws once he was dead for Prizes. This is pretty absurd because he’s a really quick player, too, and I think it is pretty telling about the major time limit issue the game faces right now.
With 299 Masters, we would have 9 rounds of Swiss followed by a day two with a top 32 cut off then top 8. With a smaller turn out, the prediction was that all 19 pointers (6-2-1) would get in and that some 18 pointers could squeak in. (Most 18 points wound up in, actually!)
R1 vs Mega Mewtwo/Zoroark
Game One: I sat down against a player I didn't know, and he opened with an XY Yveltal. My start wasn't particularly great, either. I opened with a BKT Yveltal. I figured I'd be pretty favored as a result of having Raichu against the mirror match, but I had to re-evaluate some once he Benches a pair of Mewtwo-EX and slaps a Spirit Link on one. He is a few turns behind getting his Mega Mewtwo going, but I'm slower as the Yveltal start did slow me down quite a bit. Once he gets the first KO, I get to do a 60/60 split on his Mewtwo, which allows me to sweep them both with Raichu before picking off a Shaymin-EX for my last two Prizes.
Game 2: My start is better and I get to lead with a turn one BKT Yveltal (Hey, sometimes you get lucky, ok?) and this just crippled his Mewtwo before they could get going at all. It left all his attackers in range of both my Raichu and my Yveltal-EX. I got a great start this game, and it confirmed my suspicions that this matchup was super favorable for me. Worth noting, if I didn't have the BKT Yveltal, it’s likely a lot harder. With 210 HP, I couldn't ever really OHKO a Mega Mewtwo. Once I got the damage spread around they were easy kills though.
1-0 (3 points)
My opponent was a great sport and we discussed things a bit after the match, and he mentioned how after game one it sunk in how effective the Yveltal were in the matchup, and that he needed to prevent me from being able to leverage them too much for game 2.
R2 vs Jimmy McClure with Yveltal/Archeops/Gallade
Game 1: For round 2, I get paired against Jimmy McClure, a great player and someone I'd much rather have had to play later into the event. I'd never really had the chance to interact with Jimmy at an event before, so it was nice to get a chance to actually properly meet him. Jimmy is playing Yveltal Archeops Gallade, and goes second, opening with a Jirachi-EX. I had received INACCURATE scouting information from friends, who had told me he was on Sableye/Garbodor, which had me worried. He had mulliganed, showing me Darkness energy and Trainers which did not rule him out for being Garbodor. I made a bit of small talk, mentioning if I had heard correctly I didn't want to be playing against what he was on.
This leads to a very interesting spot, as he catches a point where I'm setting up well and he has a dead hand, and was debating conceding before he draws a Sycamore and plays another turn or two out, but in the process revealing he was in fact on Yveltal. I had seen very little out of his deck, I was getting Raichu up, and he was super far behind. He wasn't winning that game, and he had a big edge in me not really knowing what he was on yet. He mentioned after the match about how he was unsure whether or not to call game one really early, and I think he should have. I had given ample evidence I was unsure what he was on, and even mentioned possibly Sableye. For a game 2, I could very easily change how I start/play if I assume he’s Sableye instead of Yveltal. It’s actually an interesting spot, because if he wants to win the match, he needs to concede very early. On the other hand, if he wants a draw, he wants to drag out game one so a game three doesn't finish. The matchup is bad for him, so he could have decided he'd rather try to win game two and aim for the incomplete third game. The fact that this sort of "strategy" actually comes up a LOT during game one of a match is telling about the state of the game, but it is what it is. He still conceded early on enough that we had plenty of time in the match to play.
Game 2: Jimmy opens Jirachi-EX AGAIN, but this time his start is very good. He gets a turn one Archeops out, which is potentially quite good against my Raichu. I get a quick BKT Yveltal going, against XY Yveltal, which don't hurt it very well (Turning off Band is kind of nice there.) and BKT Yveltal shows how great it is in the Yveltal mirror match. Raichu aside, this card is just fantastic in mirror match and running a pair of them gives you such an advantage, even if you don't want to run the Raichu. His draws stumbles a bit midgame, and I'm able to Hex Raichu into play and win the game.
2-0 (6 points)
R3 vs Frank Diaz with Yveltal/Seismitoad
Game 1: This is actually the very first time I've gotten to play Frank in a game of Pokémon! This is pretty crazy since Frank played all the time back when I was still playing all the time. I never really traveled east for tournaments though, so we never really crossed tournament paths though. I managed to avoid him at Nationals and Worlds as well. Anyways, I knew Frank was on straight Yveltal, which was a very favorable matchup for me.
I get a decent start, and Sycamore, but I miss an energy attachment. Franks start is pretty solid, and I wind up with this really awkward series of draws where like, I hit an alright amount of cards but everything is just really awkward. It is part of what you get with the engine being worse than other decks in the format, but this was a bit of an outlier. I'm able to keep up alright despite falling behind, and once I get Raichu going I know I can take 4 Prizes in two turns pretty easily and I didn't leave too much vulnerable for Frank to pick on. Unfortunately, he’s able to get a lot of damage on a Keldeo-EX, and starts to threaten a pair of Night Spears on it to take it out. I had pretty awkward Prizes this game, including my Darkrai-EX and most importantly, my Jirachi-EX, which would have won me the game as I was in a spot to turn the corner and win the game if he wasn't able to KO the Keldeo. I KO his first Darkrai, and he has to get a second one up to get the snipe (He needed to take more than two Prizes that turn) and he gets the Dark Patches necessary to do it past me using Ghetsis (I never saw my N...Jirachi being Prized being an issue here.) Most importantly, I never saw my AZ, which I win if I see as it takes away the Keldeo win condition he needed. If I had Jirachi Prized, I had the Ultra Ball to grab it and get AZ, but instead lose to his second Darkrai-EX.
Game 2: This game I get a great start, and BKT Yveltal and Raichu put me far out ahead. I don't remember the specifics as I'm rushing to try and get time for a game 3, but the game winds up in a spot where I'm at one Prize to Frank's 5, with him having no Energy in play and a very small deck. He Ns me to 1, which I draw out of and hit him for a set up KO. He Ns me again, and time is called, and I need to find one of my two Lysandre (I never drew a single copy of the card over a very prolonged game, if I did I'd have won by KOing a Jirachi-EX on his Bench.) and instead I draw blanks and lose by a turn (I was at a point where his Bench was full, all within range of being KO’d next turn.) to miss out on forcing the draw. It was frustrating, but Frank played at a pretty brisk pace the whole match so I cannot complain about that, even though it would have been beneficial for him to slow own even just a little bit.
2-1 (6 points)
R4 vs Zoroark/Yveltal
Game 1: My opponent opens with a pair of Zorua, which at 2-1 makes me wonder exactly what kind of brew I could be playing against. It turns out that he’s just running a pretty standard Yveltal/Zoroark deck. My opponent starts off with a kind of clunky game, and I'm stuck deciding if I want to try and limit my Bench to avoid playing around his thick Zoroark line, or if I want to just accept getting beat up by that while pressing my advantage. I end up just slamming the Sky Field and going wide, figuring the exchange would favor me as long as my draws didn't collapse. I end up winning the game comfortably by back to back KOing an Yveltal-EX and Shaymin-EX with Raichu.
Game 2: I get a turn one Breakthrough Yveltal and am also in a position where I can cap my Bench at two to avoid Zoroark. It plays out pretty similarly to most Yveltal vs Yveltal Raichu matchups where unless something goes awry, plays out pretty systematically.
3-1 (9 points)
R5 vs Yveltal
Both games: I guess I can't complain about getting 5 straight Yveltal pairings with this deck choice. All of these Yveltal games keep blurring together, and nothing here really stood out to me outside of remembering that the first game was pretty close and the second one wound up being pretty lopsided in my favor.
4-1 (12 points)
R6 vs Michael Pramawat with Seismitoad/Crobat
Game 1: Well, I'd already played Jimmy and Frank, so why not toss Pramawat, who with is arguably the most accomplished player at the tournament, into the fold within the first six rounds, right? This is already beginning to feel a lot like Michigan States last year where I had to run a really brutal gauntlet of tough players. Pramawat was on his trusty Crobat Seismitoad deck, and I knew from previous discussion he ran a Dedenne for the Yveltal matchup. I didn't mind this too much: I had plenty of game in the matchup that didn't involve tanking an Yveltal-EX.
Well, unfortunately, karma for my match against McClure hit, and I open with Jirachi-EX. Oh, my hand is also dead besides a Colress. He mulligans, and of course THEN I hit a second Pokémon after my Jirachi was locked active. I do go first, but I'm forced to pass rather than Colress for one, hoping he fills his Bench. He Benches enough guys to make playing a Colress worthwhile, but my draws were not great off of it. His turn one was great, getting multiple Zubat, Toad active with a DCE and Muscle Band, and a Silent Lab which he ran three copies of. My draw isn't -dead- but it was pretty poor especially under Quaking Punch and he draws into a bunch of bats and I just concede rather than chase it. If he had less Bat presence I maybe stay in it to try and get promo Jirachi to threaten his DCE count as once I break the Item lock I can make a crazy comeback in this matchup, but he could easily kill the Jirachi with Crobat at this point so I needed to save time.
Game 2: Here we go again, boys. Jirachi back for seconds. I slide the stupid thing Active, and get a pretty weak start, N'ing for 6 and getting a pretty weak hand from it. He starts to set up alright, and I do get some Pokémon and energy in play. The matchup isn't bad at all if I can get anything going but my draws were really underwhelming. I actually get to a point where he has a small hand and had not played a Supporter, so I Lysandre an Energyless Toad on his Bench to make him hit a DCE or SSU. He has the DCE. I had a Xerosic in hand for that, and strip it away. My hand was full of items and ready to go off, and I wasn't that behind on Prizes at all at this point (I left a BKT Yveltal active to combat his Muscle Band and really slow his clock) and if he had no Supporter and this Quaking Punch reprieve holds, I'm in a very good spot to take over the game. Obviously, he draws the third DCE right off the top and into play, and I quickly die from there instead. I can't complain too much there, he had to get unlucky to dead draw into a point where I could even try and stage a comeback, and I was realistically just playing for a draw since I assumed our third game would never finish. Maybe it could have, as Pram is a very fast player, though.
4-2 (12 points)
R7 vs Justin Boughter with Toad/Bats/Manectric
Game 1: Well, here we go. I Ghetsis Justin into a dead hand, and set up. I keep missing Energy drops though, which is frustrating. Justin uses a shuffle effect and I don't get a chance to cut his deck and he draws a Sycamore...normally I would be REALLY upset by this, but I've played against Justin enough and know him well enough to firmly doubt anything fishy was happening here and let it slide, even though it wound up costing me the game. I Sycamore and draw into seven Item cards, and pretty much never get to play anything the rest of the game and get crushed.
Game 2: This time I get a pretty nice start, and his draw is pretty weak. I believe he misses his first turn of Quaking Punch and the game snowballs pretty badly allowing me to win a fairly quick game, leaving us some time for a game 3. It is worth noting that unlike Pram's version, Justin ran some Manectric-EX, which actually have no bearing on this matchup at all. If he breaks Quaking Punch lock, I'm thrilled. Raichu makes pretty quick work of the non-Mega Manectric pretty quickly.
Game 3: Well, third Jirachi start in two rounds, here we go. I dead draw again, and am just getting absolutely crushed. I pull a Frank here, though, as I'm able to prolong the game long enough to pull a draw out of this game with Justin at two Prizes to my 6, unable to get a KO on one of my Pokémon-EX on turn 3.
4-2-1 (13 points)
R8 vs Toad/Bats
Game 1: I'm noticing a trend with this tournament. My first 5 rounds were all against Yveltal decks, and now I'm facing three straight Toad Bat decks. Luckily for me, I get a real draw this game, and get to set up. The game goes according to plan and win a pretty comfortable game one.
Game 2: My opponent draws pretty poorly here, and it plays out pretty similarly as the first game. If I manage to get set up before getting punished by Quaking Punch, the matchup is good for me. (I guess that is a pretty generic statement about Seismitoad in general, but I think it is especially true in this case. The low amount of Energy-removal cards played in the Bat variants helps out quite a bit.)
5-2-1 (16 points)
R9 vs Rahul Reddy
Game 1: I get paired against Rahul who is playing Vespiquen, and he mentions at the start of the match, since he was 5-3 and got paired up, that if the match ended in a draw he would concede, assuming I wasn't trying to stall him out, which is appreciated. Game one ends up being pretty interesting as we both have pretty good starts. I take the first Prize, and manage to minimize the amount of Pokémon-EX I have to Bench. He is forced into Benching two Shaymin, but unfortunately, he gets his Parallel City the turn before I get to hit a Lysandre to pick one off. I wind up behind a turn, and was unable to play an N on the last turn to hopefully take him off an N/Blacksmith.
Game 2: I get pretty much the exact kind of start I need in this matchup, and he is a bit slower out of the gates. He doesn't see his Parallel City and I get an EX KO to jump ahead in the exchange.
Game 3: We have about 10-15 minutes left for game 3, which is a pretty good sign for me as a draw is very realistic. Unfortunately, once this matchup gets going, it closes pretty quickly and turns aren't that long. Well, I have a pretty good hand...until the wheels fall off. I don't need to say too much, but the very first Energy card I saw was the 37th card of my deck. (I was able to Sycamore every turn.) Needless to say, the game was not remotely close as a result and I lose about a minute before time is called.
5-3-1 (16 points)
I end up finishing in 52nd place, which is good for kicker points. This nets me 15 Championship Points, bringing me up to 195/300 for the season. As a result, the tournament wasn't a total failure, as the 15 points are certainly relevant towards me netting my invite. I wound up getting some pretty unlucky draws, and had a really difficult series of pairings. I like the deck choice overall, but I did have issues drawing into my energy cards. If I could make any changes, and I would, I'd cut something for at least one Battle Compressor. This lets me get access to Dark Energies for Dark Patch quicker, and also have better access to the toolbox of Supporters. I'd likely have to cut a Supporter card to make this work, and it’s likely the Xerosic.
I'm unsure how Expanded will look going forward, because BREAKpoint introduces a few powerful cards that could really unravel the format, and not necessarily in a good way. This Regionals saw Daniel "Pidgeotto" Altavilla crush the event with Yveltal/Archeops, beating Kevin Baxter's Vespiquen in the finals. Pramawat lost to Daniel in the semifinals as well. The remaining deck in top 4 was a Mega Rayquaza deck, which is interesting but not entirely off base! It is strong against Yveltal and while it has struggled with some Toad builds before, Toad Bats is actually a pretty good matchup for the deck due to the lack of ability to pressure its Energy attachments. Toad Bats was by far the most popular Toad variant at the tournament, as well.
I'm still not a fan of the Archeops in Yveltal despite its great performance, but perhaps I overestimated players’ preparedness to combat the card. Vespiquen decks ran Wobbuffet but that isn't the best solution for the card because they need to keep chaining evolutions. A Hex Maniac or a Wally would be a much better solution for the problem. I'd likely run one Wobbuffet and one of the other cards. I like Wally in Vespiquen as a useful tool in mirror too as if you go second it lets you get the first KO. It is one of the reasons I was a fan of the hybrid Vespiquen/Night March lists, and being able to port over that advantage here is pretty nice too.
I do like how Archeops gives the deck extra strength against Crobat Toad decks. If they even run a Hex Maniac, it doesn't do a whole ton because they need multiple turns’ worth of evolution to not be really handicapped by the card. It’s a little awkward because there’s only a one turn window really to get the card out. I've stressed it before and I'll say it again, but Archeops is just popular enough that if you are playing a deck that loses to the card you need to pack proper preparation. It’s out there, play it.
With the first half of Regionals out of the way, it is time to bust out the new BREAKpoint cards and get prepared for either Florida or Oregon Regionals, and/or the State Championships starting up in March! We'll see how Expanded gets impacted by Puzzle of Time and Delinquent, and we'll see if Puzzle of Time, Greninja BREAK and others manage to shake up Standard! I'll be back with my next article at the start of March with some brand new lists and findings stemming from my States testing!
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