Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

The State of Standard States

Chris Fulop reviews the Regionals fallout while looking ahead to a brand-new Standard!

03/09/2016 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone! Regionals are in the books, and we saw our first glimpse at Breakpoint infused Expanded. Prior to the new card, which gave players access to high impact cards such as Puzzle of Time (I will, almost every single time, instinctually call it Time Puzzle, and I'm not even sure why. It’s been out a month now, and I still do it) and Delinquent, we had a pretty "solved" Expanded format. There was a clear cut trio of best archetypes, being Yveltal decks, Seismitoad/Crobat, and Vespiquen. There were variations on those builds, and it’s not like they were the only decks seeing play or success, but they were by far the most universally successful decks.

I would even argue that by the end of the first two weekends of Regionals, we saw Yveltal become the defined "best" deck, followed by Vespiquen, and then Seismitoad falling behind in third place. Vespiquen was challenging for Seismitoad decks due to time advantage, even with Crobat helping to pick on the low HP basic Pokémon the deck was full of. The most successful build of Yveltal, piloted to first place at Virginia by Daniel Altavilla and first place at St. Louis by Brad Curcio, featured a Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick and Archeops package, which helped combat both of those other tier one decks. While Seismitoad's Quaking Punch left the Yveltal player a very thin window of time to pull off a Maxie, once Archeops hit play it was tough for the deck to work around.

I'm generally against Archeops...I hate the card, I have no problem admitting it. That said, it is quite good against Crobat decks. My general disdain for Archeops is that a good player will come prepared with answers to the card if their deck is weak to it...and as Archeops saw more and more play and success, you'd expect players to prioritize having work arounds for it. Hex Maniac, or Wally, or Wobbuffet are all easy enough solutions to buy a turn to be able to evolve your Pokémon and offset all the work (Which is not negligible!) put in by the Archeops player. Crobat decks are in a much worse spot because they can't just "go off" with a turn of Evolution. They need many, many turns to be able to evolve. Plus, Wally and Hex Maniac don't work as Wally won't trigger Bat Abilities, and Hex turns them off as well.

It is a bit interesting though, because while Archeops really hurts Crobat, the engine required to get the card out is very demanding. As a result, the decks using it are thinner on Supporters and MUCH more Item reliant, and are much weaker to Quaking Punch. While getting an Archeops out early still leaves you quite favorable (They don't really have room to run Hammers or a dedicated Energy removal package alongside the Crobat evolution line which eats up a lot of space.) things get very awkward if you fail to get out Archeops and get cut off Items. At that point you are just substantially worse than a normal Yveltal deck in the matchup. (You can tell I'm still not sold on Archeops, despite its success rate.)

Luckily, rather than see this metagame become further and further inbred (I'd added a Wally into Vespiquen as further protection for Archeops, and to be a potential turn faster in the mirror match. I feel like Toad is best served deviating from Crobat perhaps. Finally, I'd have definitely cut Maxie from Yveltal...big surprise...because the builds not using it are better in the mirror match. It seems like a natural reaction.) we got a new set in order to force some changes.
One of the other interesting developments to come from St. Louis was the widespread success of Sableye Garbodor. Two copies made it into the top 8 of the event, both falling to Brad's Yveltal deck, in top 8 and top four respectively. There were a group of players in Virginia who also had started off well with the deck prior, but most of them dropped early for some reason with winning records.

Sableye is a card that clearly synergizes very well with Puzzle of Time. This is a combination players in general had been concerned about as being something that may be too good for Expanded. Junk Hunt, traditionally limited to only getting back Trainers, can now grab a pair of Puzzles and just get back two cards. Sableye gimmick decks usually rely on spamming Energy removal effects and other disruptive cards while using non-EX attackers with repeated use of Life Dew to force players to take more than 6 KOs past the disruption. Normally, Life Dew was only available "every other turn" because once a Dew'd Pokémon was KO'd, an exposed Sableye would need to Junk Hunt to get it back. Now, you can grab two Puzzles each turn, and when the Dew'd Pokémon gets KO’d, resuit it up immediately with no break in the loop.

This was the big innovation to come out of Breakpoint, and it really warped the decks people planned to play. Sableye Garbodor already was a big deck prior to this upgrade. On one hand, Junk Hunt was already able to have access to most cards it cared about without seemed like the upgrade smoothed this over, but didn't really jumpstart the deck much on that front. It is the massive improvement to the interaction with Life Dew that was the issue.

This deck gave rise to a few attempted counter decks. Seismitoad-EX is quite good in the matchup as the Sableye deck is so dependent on Items. The problem is, the deck also runs answers to DCEs, and the Energy removal can break up Quaking Punch. Once all the DCEs are gone, Hammer spam can prevent Quaking Punch from ever going off again, and Toad is no longer an issue. None the less, Toad and Trevenant saw a big spike in play to combat Junk Hunt. Trevenant saw play both as a gimmicky deck focused around just using the ghost Tree (It won Florida Regionals!) and also alongside Accelgor, a deck that also saw some play the prior week in St. Louis, placing a copy into Top 8.

Beyond this, you saw Yveltal decks evolve to try and combat Sableye builds. Cards such as AZ, Xerosic, and Tool Scrapper help the matchup a lot. Between Dark Patch and Oblivion Wing, the deck is able to compete with the disruption from Sableye, so the big issue is figuring out how to deal with all of the Life Dews. One solution that also was popular was the run a Sableye as a "counter", allowing an Yveltal deck to rebuy resources to eventually overwhelm the Sableye deck. For the same role, I was actually testing a Kecleon, because it has a pretty wide array of uses.

First, against Sableye decks, it lets you use Junk Hunt. My approach to Yveltal was to take a fairly streamlined approach. I wasn't going to run Maxie, and I wasn’t going to run Raichu either. By doing this, it weakens the Vespiquen matchup. Without Archeops they can evolve freely, and losing Raichu gutted the deck of non-EX attackers to keep up with an exchange. Kecleon can copy Vespiquen's attack for a DCE and get a KO as a non-EX. With Buddy-Buddy Rescue, you can pull off two Kecleon KOs to really help that matchup.

Seismitoad-EX was going to be popular too, and Kecleon lets you play spoiler by copying their Quaking Punch to buy some reprieve from their disruption as you set up. Yveltal is bad against Raichu, which I didn't expect to see a lot of play, but it is nice to have a good means to attack it if it comes to that. Mega Rayquaza did top four in Virginia as well, and Kecleon can copy Emerald Break if need be. (Filling your Bench can be a challenge though. Also, one of Yveltal/Archeops’ primary weapons in the mirror match is Gallade off of their Maxie, and Kecleon is a stellar counter to this. I'll go more into my Yveltal build for Expanded in a bit.

One of the other decks that really gained a foothold for week three of Regionals was Primal Groudon. Its Trait allowed it to pretty much shrug off whatever the disruptive decks tried to throw at it, be it Sableye, Seismitoad, or Trevenant. The deck packs a huge punch, and not only did it have an edge against the new decks with a target on their head, but it had great matchups against the decks which would adjust their builds to try and combat these decks. It covered the first two cycles of the new metagame very well. In Oregon, Sebastian Crema, a fantastic player from years ago who I haven't seen playing in years (He was a World's semifinalist in Seniors in 2004. He was also my only Swiss loss in Worlds 2006, with a Tyranitar/Electrode ex deck on his way to first seed going into Top 32) took First with the deck.

As a result, I wanted to play a deck that is able to deal with an open metagame, but also beat Groudon, Trevenant, and Sableye. I watched people testing for Florida, and they were just going so over the top to beat Sableye that they were winding up with just weak decks. While I expected the new cards to change up the metagame some, I did not expect a total overhaul. I didn't want to wind up with some gimmicky counter deck that had no proactive power at all and just lose to players who brought other decks. I watched as teams really just inbred their testing to the point that they were way too many levels beyond what the actual metagame would wind up looking like. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to stick to an archetype that I knew was just GOOD, and TWEAK it into being better suited to beating the new decks. Not every deck is able to do that. Some decks are either too rigid to do this with, or simply too fundamentally weak to be able to make enough changes. Yveltal, on the other hand, is just a very, very good deck with a lot of flexibility. That meant cutting either Raichu (from my old standby build) or Maxie from the deck to possibly make this work though. The spaces had to come from somewhere, after all. Here is the list I was using at the end of my testing. (I had no intentions of attending either Florida or Oregon Regionals, but I was helping my friends test for it up through that Thursday when most people left to go travel.)

My attackers consisted of a pair of XY and BKT Yveltal. With Sableye and disruptive decks in general expected to be very popular, I wanted to have two copies of the XY Yveltal to help me put Energy into play. In general I haven't been that high on this card due to Dark Patch covering its role pretty well and my overall love of the BKT version. That said, I think it is a great metagame call now. BKT Yveltal is even better now. It turns off Life Dew entirely while active, as well as the new problematic Belt, which I haven't really touched on. Giving Pokémon 40 extra HP is really nice but decks are already gunning for tools due to Life Dew, so I'm not sure the card is going to be something people were high on due to potential splash hate. None the less, I had been going with a split of it and Muscle Band, and was on a final count of two Band, one Belt.

BKT Yveltal is great in mirror match, and I doubted I was the only one who was thinking of updating Yveltal to beat the new metagame. (Yveltal wound up extremely popular, so it was a good reasoning.) Groudon had fairly public hype as well, and being able to start slamming it for 60 while it is on the Bench is HUGE towards making the matchup winnable! Having a pair is even better. While it didn't pan out, I also spoke with players who were looking into Mega Sceptile as a deck which took advantage of decks slowing down and being disruptive. Sceptile is great against decks which cannot OHKO it, and the big offender on that front had been Vespiquen due to Flareon, but Vespiquen really good hammered by the new set and saw a large drop off in both hype and eventual play. BKT Yveltal makes that matchup much more tolerable for Yveltal.

While on the topic of decks similar to Sceptile, Mega Manectric should be strong for similar reasons, and is an overall "better deck" in a vacuum. Another deck that came a bit out of left field was a resurgence of Virizion Genesect, packing the brand new Max Elixir to help make it fast enough to compete again. BKT Yveltal is great against both of those decks as well. I wonder how many articles in a row I can have where I sing this card's praises. It seemed to be universally embraced by the end of Regionals but I'm still not certain it is fully appreciated for just HOW great it is.

After that, we have a pair of Yveltal-EX, the deck's main attackers. I think two is the perfect count now, and I can't imagine deviating too much from that every again. Darkrai-EX is another good attacker, and its Dark Cloak is vital to the deck. It paired with Keldeo-EX is one of the main reasons the deck is able to combat the disruptive decks so well. I'd actually seen players testing two Keldeo-EX...I'm not on board with this, I think it is overkill. I get the idea, but I don't like it. I've also seen two Darkrai-EX, which I actually do like, but I just don't have room for because I prefer the other attackers just a bit more. I'd have to trim one of the 6 Yveltal if I wanted a 2nd Darkrai-EX, and I'm not ready to do that.

For draw power, I'm at two Shaymin-EX and a Jirachi-EX, with no Hoopa. Hoopa is great, but I'm less into clogging my Bench these days than I may have been in the past. I think this count is pretty much perfect, and I wouldn't change that.
The last two slots are my fringe attackers, the Kecleon I went over before, and a Seismitoad-EX. Toad is still very good, and I just like having access to a copy (or two with BBR!) Toad is the most expendable of the Pokémon to me, but at the same time I really doubt I'd cut it for anything.

Ten Energy is pretty much my accepted count for Expanded. Eleven would be better, but I've grown to accept the conclusion it’s never going to happen.

The Trainers are pretty normal, with a lot of the Supporters I went with in my Raichu build. AZ is great vs Accelgor, Toad, and Sableye. Hex Maniac is also just great, and I wanted some attempt at a solution to the Eels Raikou deck that popped up in Virginia. It is just a good card in general, and when people are trying out new, gimmicky cards, I like the idea of having a nice catch-all. Xerosic got the nod over Tool Scrapper, as I come packing "five" copies of it, and more against Sableye when I can Kecleon back two VS Seeker. This is my win condition against Life Dew. Well, one of them. I like its application against DCE decks in general too.

I'm at three damage boosting Tools, and I'm not sure what the right split is. I'm also at three Laser, and two Virbank, and I hate it. I know that trimming to three Laser has actually been pretty common lately, but I don't feel comfortable with it at all. I'm fine doing so I guess, but I feel like it has to be wrong. The only other numbers worth discussing are the two Battle Compressor and one Buddy-Buddy Rescue. I love BBR as a wildcard Pokémon, but that’s another card like BKT Yveltal I've beaten into the ground. Two Compressor seems perfect because the deck does need to dump cards to the discard pile, and also runs a large amount of random Supporters to obtain. It doesn't run Maxie, or an engine designed to specifically go for crazy first turns, so you don't really want to inflate that count at all either. Two is perfect.

I do want to touch on Ghetsis. This card is great. It always has been, and is a major reason why Jirachi-EX got so much better. (Well, that and it is much better than a Shaymin-EX under Item lock where hand sizes clog so much that Set Up is pretty underwhelming.) Ghetsis is even better against Sableye, and I almost considered running two of them, but reigned myself in a bit on that front. None the less, I don't think it’s crazy. Early game it can steal games, and late game it can act as a substitute to N in spots, where you also don't want to crush your own hand size in the process.

Anyways, that was the list I'd have used going into Florida had I played, and I won't say that changes can't be made to leave it better positioned after Week three was in the books. I actually still love the deck as a metagame call assuming not much changes, and would use a very similar build if I had any upcoming Expanded League Challenges.

"Why haven't you updated it, Chris!?" you ask.

Well, that is because my focus has shifted over to States, where we'll be back to competing in Standard. (I'm unsure if every States will be Standard...I know the ones I am attending well be, though.) As a result, I've set Expanded on the backburner yet again, and am back to trying to approach a format where I dislike all of the decks. (Remember, I hit up like four Cities using Yveltal even when I knew Yveltal was a subpar choice, just because I hated everything else even more.) I expect Standard to be influenced VERY differently than Expanded by Breakpoint. Oh. Also, we have a new..."Set" added to the mix as well, Pokémon Generations. I liken this release to the Aqua/Magma mini set we had released last year, where it introduced a few new cards. That said, that set didn't have any real impact (The Aqua stadium card IS seeing play in Sableye though, so that’s something!) so let’s go over the Generation release and see what may be potentially impactful:

Pokémon Generations "Set" Review

Flareon-EX: This is an interesting card, letting you soak up Fire Energy to attach to it from your other Pokémon. Its damage output is...alright, for what it is asking of you, and can use Blacksmith to power itself up. It can work well with Team Magma's Camerupt, letting you start to flood the field with Energy cards. This shell also pairs with Camerupt-EX as a sweeper for when Flareon becomes a bit outclassed. The Camerupt deck had been discussed by people for a while and nothing ever really came(rupt) of it, because Camerupt, while a great big hitter, was just too demanding, even with that support, to reliably be a main attacker. If you suit them up with Belts, they have 210 HP, and you can use Max Potion/AZ to heal them, and actually use the Abilities of Benched Flareon to conserve all of the fires and split them amongst themselves. Perhaps Flareon-EX gives this deck new life. In Expanded, it can also work with Ho-Oh-EX, although I have to imagine if you're working with Ho-oh, something far more degenerate is doable.

Froslass: Froslass has the old Gengar's Feinting Spell as an Ability, and cannot be overlooked due to how strong an ability that is (even if I'll always miss the flip.) This is particularly important when dealing with-EX Pokémon: Getting even one KO with this on an-EX is backbreaking over the span of a game. Its attack isn't great, although note useless: It spreads four damage wherever you'd like for CCC, so it synergizes with its Ability. It is very much self-aware of what it does. That said, I think it is better suited to be a Pokémon you hit and run into, or one that you hide active while you use Abilities to spread damage and take KOs. I could see it being paired with Greninja, and it would actually make a card like Dive Ball or all things great. It may be just too cute for that, as you could be better suited just swinging with Frogs. To top it off, Greninja is already comically weak to Hex Maniac and this makes it worse. Still, this card is really cool and have a very powerful effect.

Jolteon-EX: This card is actually pretty awesome on a few levels. First off, it is a big-EX Pokémon with a free Retreat cost. That alone makes it pretty unique and likely to serve a role in some deck. Second, it does 30 damage for an Energy card, and by the time you stack it with Tools, and Laser (in Expanded) and other amplifiers, it’s a pretty nice turn one threat. Jolteon's BIGGEST appeal though is its attack Flash Ray for LCC: It does a respectable 70 damage and prevents all damage taken by Basic Pokémon! We've seen how powerful a card like Regice has been with an attack preventing-EX damage, since it cannot be negated by Hex Maniac or Garbodor. Now this catches most-EX Pokémon (Not Megas, admittedly) but also most support attackers! I don't think it is much of a stretch to see how this is fantastic. In Standard, we saw Magnezone Raikou Pikachu-EX fall just shy of being a tier one deck, and now that we have a Pokémon which can just utterly shrug off all of the attackers in say, Night March, it becomes a whole lot better! In Expanded, Eels with Raikou was a deck, and I suspect this guy is an easy inclusion in there as well. This card is incredible, naturally fitting into two existing shells while also being quite splashable.

Leafeon-EX: Fun Personal Fact: Leafeon is my favorite Eevee evolution! The more you know, right? With that out of the way, let’s be honest, this card is interesting for one reason: Nature's Breath OHKOs a Seismitoad-EX even with a Belt slung around its waist. Seismitoad-EX gets a new lease on life in Standard now that it can have 220 HP and sit well outside the reach of most OHKOs. Leafeon's attack is expensive and type demanding, but it does get the job done. I don't like this card much (sadly!) but it does provide a function a deck could want, so it’s worth keeping set aside in your mind if a home ever does pop up.

Meowstic-EX: My thought process went through three stages of evolution when thinking about this card. First, I refused to believe Meowstic was the final evolution of whatever line it belonged two. I couldn't speculate what else was in that line, of course. Apparently it is the final form, though. Second, I liked its Ability! I'm not sure what the best deck to play it in is, but the ability to take a damage counter of your field and slap it on their side of the board is VERY good. Yes, the game is pretty heavy on OHKOs, but it’s still good. It needing to be active is a huge problem, so you can't really run some sort of gimmicky deck bent on using 3-4 copies of it in the same turn. The third thing that came to mind is that the attack is actually good alongside Dimension Valley, as it deals 60 for P! I could see it being pretty good alongside some kind of Crobat/Wobbuffet deck as an attacker. I'm not sure that deck is good enough even, but all of its positive attributes seem to contribute there. Not applying Weakness, as well as ignoring resistance, is actually a big turn off for the attack, but it is probably for the best anyways.

Sylveon-EX: Fun Personal Fact: Sylveon is my least favorite Eevee evolution! The more you know, right? What that out of the way, let’s be honest, this card is interesting for one reason: It deals 60 damage (or more with a Band, etc.) for a DCE as a Fairy type. While this isn't currently very useful, that’s the perfect type of attack to be used as a splash counter. If exploiting Fairy weakness ever becomes something in demand, this card can smack for an easy 160 for a DCE. File this guy away, kids.

Most of the Trainers in the set are repeats. The few new ones we get are extremely underpowered. We have a Supporter, Clemont, which lets us grab four Lightning Energy out of the deck, but that seems pretty underwhelming when we have Battle Compressor + Fisherman in format. I could see it as an inclusion alongside Magnezone though. There is an item, Revitalizer, that grabs two Grass Pokémon from the discard pile to hand, which could be useful in Vespiquen, but it feels like it being so narrow is still worse than Buddy-Buddy Rescue. There is a new Switching Supporter, Olympia, that also heals the Retreating Pokémon, but that seems like a miserable use of a Supporter. Floral Crown is a Tool that heals 20 off a Pokémon at the end of each opponent’s turns, but that seems too situational and underwhelming. I'd be more interested if it did it at the end of your turn so that it was guaranteed some sort of impact. Tools get worse now, as they keep printing very good ones so players are more incentivized to counter them. This means the Benchmark for how good a tool needs to be...especially a defensive, reactive one, is much higher than it otherwise could be. The best card in the set though is clearly Imankuni, a Supporter which confuses your active Pokémon, and your opponent. The card, sans being a Supporter, has existence since the game came to the US, and finally got an English printing, so it is really cool to see it in circulation now. 
Obnoxiously, the Generations Energy cards look absolutely great, and are probably my second favorite basic Energy cards behind the old Emerald ones. I imagine they are a bit hard to get a hold of.

Anyways, with that out of the way, it’s worth stepping back and looking at what the upcoming Standard may hold in store for us.

The big impactful cards look to be Time Puzzle, Greninja BREAK, Fighting Fury Belt, Jolteon-EX Max Elixir, Delinquent, and Trevenant Break.

I've seen a lot of people playing Greninja decks, and I initially wrote them off as gimmicky and not good enough, and I've actually kind of changed my mind on that. I'm not saying the deck is tier 1, but my hesitation about them working is pretty well gone. I've seen builds running a 4-4-4-3 Greninja line with 2-2 Octillery as a source of draw, and I've been very impressed by how smoothly that functions. That being said, the deck is just so weak to Hex Maniac I'm very worried about using it. 
With the format looking to be wide open, I'm embracing the "play the most powerful deck" theory again, and reverting back to Night March. Night March got two very important cards added to its arsenal: Puzzle of Time, and Fighting Fury Belt. The Puzzle gets to replace Milotic or Bronzong as the tool by which to get around the limitation of four Double Colorless Energy cards. It also actually makes the deck SMOOTHER, opposed to clunkier, which the stage 1s did.

Fighting Fury Belt is the best addition to this deck. Its damage output is so high that the "downgrade" of 20 damage to 10 damage from Muscle Band is not felt very hard. On the other hand, jumping for 30 HP to 70, and 60 to 100 on Joltik and Pumpkaboo respectively is MASSIVE. To top this off, one of the ways the deck often loses is by giving up Shaymin KOs. At 110 HP, Shaymin is easy enough to pick off. With 150, it is actually difficult, especially with the deck forcing KOs every turn. 

If you would have told me during Cities that Crobat and Yveltal were NOT going to see play at all, the clear cut deck choice for the event would have been Night March. Well, now I am not terribly afraid of either deck. With 100 HP, XY Yveltal needs a Band to KO a Pumpkaboo. More terrifyingly, it needs a Band plus a Giovanni's Scheme to KO a JOLTIK. Without them being able to chain their non-EX Pokémon low Energy KOs into Night March, the matchup actually becomes soundly favorable. They may run answers to tools to combat this, but how many times can they afford to do this? Missing a KO or two is backbreaking.

As for Crobat, getting the extra HP is forcing them to use so many extra Bat Abilities to steal KOs. A Joltik now takes THREE Abilities rather than a lone Crobat to KO. Pumpkaboo is well out of range as well. Paired with Hex Maniac, I'm not really too afraid of this matchup anymore. The same can be said about Greninja decks. I think Hex Maniac is a very desirable card in this format, and I'm convinced Night March is still the best Hex deck in Standard. Puzzle of Time, while namely used to retrieve cards, is also reasonable Item based card manipulation as well, and helps to smooth the deck's engine over even more so.

Anyways, let’s look at the list I have that is built to deal with a fairly wide open field.

The Pokémon are fairly self-explanatory, sans the Unown. Unown is always pretty good, but I like how they are solid draw power while also working very well with Puzzle of Time to turn that into an actual draw card. Plus, I expect players to try and build some sort of Delinquent hand attack deck, and if that is the case, being able to play Unown on the Bench safely is good protection against that. I'm running a Buddy-Buddy Rescue alongside the Puzzles, which seems unnecessary, but I often want to get back attackers and I'd really pretty not to have to rely on my Puzzles exclusively for that. The synergy with Battle Compressor and Unown is not to be overlooked either. Still, the card is expendable, and could go elsewhere if need be. I kind of want a Giovanni as a means to hit big numbers against Mega Pokémon, or tankier decks using Belts of their own.

The Energy is down to a lean four DCE due to Time Puzzle (Although I guess Milotic builds did a similar gimmick) which does a lot to help free up space.
We're also running even thinner than usual on Supporters, because I like going for Hex Maniac as many of my turns as possible. I could see adding a third Sycamore, a second Hex Maniac, a second Lysandre, or a Giovanni's Scheme, but I really wouldn't add more than one additional Supporter to the deck for fear of clunking it up some. Puzzle helps to mitigate the demand on VS Seeker as well, so you don't have to fear the "I burned through too many Seekers/Supporters setting up" issue as much anymore.

I'm running a Megaphone/Xerosic in the list, and I'm unsure which I like more. With Puzzles, you can loop the Megaphone, and it benefits from not being your Supporter. (Grabbing it with Teammates is great! I'd like to also point out how disgusting Puzzle of Time is with don't have to fret assembling the combo anymore.) Xerosic is still easier to spam and get ahold of though, so there is a selling point there. Seismitoad-EX is pretty good with 220 HP, so Xerosic being a Supporter is better in that matchup as well. It not only attacks the Belt, but can work to break up Quaking Punch with DCE as well.

I have a split on Stadium cards between two Dimension Valley and one Parallel City. Since we are relying exclusively on DCE, Dimension Valley is necessary to ever attack with Pumpkaboo, which we want. Two copies is about perfect. You dig deep enough that you get ahold of one by the time you usually need to swing with specifically Pumpkaboo. Plus you can always Puzzle them back. Parallel City is great to dump off your own Shaymin, or even be useful to mess with an opponent's set up if they have a bunch of say, Greninja in play, to discard one. Not highly likely to play out that way, but it can. One copy to grab with Teammates is plenty. You rarely need to use it more than once, but hey, if you do? We have Puzzle for that!

One thing I'm unsure about is the three Belt and two Float Stone count. I'm absolutely sure on the Belt count...I just think maybe one of the Stones can become a Switch or Escape Rope now that the deck runs more Tools it wants to attach. Dumping a Stone on any of your Pokémon cuts it off for a Belt later, and that does come at a cost. That sort of change is pretty inconsequential though, so I wouldn't dwell too much on it until later into testing.

So what beats Night March now, you ask? Well, if Seismitoad/Giratina is as good as I think it may be with Belt, I think it has a pretty solid matchup, especially with how ill equipped this build is at doing anything past an attacking Giratina. Any sort of Item lock can undermine the deck if it gets going before set up. The deck can purge its deck and leave itself fairly well equipped to keep going even under lock if it gets one turn of Items usually though. So going second versus Trevenant, or Vileplume is problematic. Also, yeah, this won't even pretend like it can deal with an attacking Jolteon-EX. That isn't actually true, you'd have to Lysandre something up and hope it sticks, breaking the attack, and then you can re-Lysandre it up. So yeah. Not beating Jolteon-EX. If you want to go over the top, you can run one Shrine of Memories and a Galvantula to have a combination you can Teammates for that lets you KO a Jolteon-EX. (You could use Gourgeist too, but you can't use Shrine and Dimension Valley, so it requires three Energy attachment so it strikes me as being the worse alternative by a lot.)

Next up is the Greninja deck I think is not only pretty powerful, but a deck I think is extremely fun! I got to watch Mia Violet stream the deck for a bit the other day, and she was on a bit of a rampage with it. I actually do feel like the deck is very much competitive, and something I'd test with and against just to make sure I had a good understanding of the deck.

The deck's goal is to get as many XY Greninja into play as quickly as possible so that you can start using their Abilities to really spam damage all over the opponent's board, even without attacking. This gets even more out of control when you start augmenting this damage output with the Greninja BREAK's Ability, which places SIX damage counters in play for the cost of merely discarding a lone Water Energy. The reprinting of Fisherman allows this deck to have access to a slew of Water Energy every turn without actually running very many of them in the deck. 
The other key piece which allows the deck to get out so many Stage two Pokémon (or beyond!) in play quickly enough to compete is the new Frogadier, who has an attack for a Water that lets you search your deck for up to three more Frogadier and dump them directly onto the Bench. The main gimmick of the deck is, on your first turn, using Wally to grab Frogadier, and fill the Bench. From there, on your second turn, you just start spewing 'Ninjas into play.

Outside of the free Ability damage, you get to attack with either one of the three XY Greninja, who does 50 for W, or the new Greninja who is a bit more offensively potent. For one Energy he can hit for 40, while locking the opponent off of their Abilities for a turn! Who needs Hex Maniac or the new Garbodor? Also, for an Energy, Greninja can do 60 damage, or 80 if you don't mind bouncing an Energy from it to your hand. This Greninja is clearly the better attacker, so why do we only have one? Why not a more favorable split? While you do want to use it as the better attacker, the Ability provided by the XY version is just too important to get multiples of in play.

Let’s look at a list:

The deck relies primarily on Item based search and draw and Octillery to get set up. The big problem with using Supporters otherwise is that there are really two distinct phases of this game: The first turn where you really want to use Wally, and every additional turn where you really want to just use Fisherman every single turn. If I'm using a different Supporter, things are either going really well, or really poorly.

The other Supporters I'm going with are a pair of Sycamore, which are a basic safety net, a Lysandre, which may actually be totally unnecessary due to the manner in which you can just hit the Bench anyways, and an Ace Trainer. Ace Trainer is incredible in this deck because you are able to spread damage around the field as you feel like, and this means you can leave guys hanging for KOs later, which means you can maneuver your opponent into spots where they are always ahead on Prizes. This makes this one of the best Ace Trainer decks available. (One thing I embarrassingly overlooked in Expanded was that Ace Trainer was very good in Sableye. I'm not saying in place of N, but alongside it. For most of the game, Ace Trainer is just better than N as disruption, as the 6-3 split is pretty brutal. After seeing how impactful it was there, I was extremely excited to try it with Greninja!) 

I'm going with a split of three Wally and two Fisherman because I REALLY want Wally turn one every game. I want MORE copies of Fisherman, but I accept that I'm just going to be devoting all of my VS Seekers to those. Since the deck isn't aiming to use Sycamore if not necessary, I don't expect it to discard that frequently. I can see three or even four Fisherman being correct, but with me opting to run two Super Rod to get Frogs back, I think two is fine.

I've considered adding a Shaymin-EX for extra draw, but I want to open with a Froakie as often as possible. Currently I do not run any sort of Switching card, meaning if I open a Remoraid, I can't Wally and attack on my first turn. I think adding Switching cards is...dubious, because you don't want them that frequently, and they have such a thin window of use that you need lots of copies to hit at the right time, and in turn bloat your deck with a lot of dead weight otherwise. On the other hand, I've considered a 1-1 or even 1-2 Octillery line, but I think the risk of two Remoraid is worth it. You still open with a Froakie a good majority of the time.
I'm also running two Rare Candy for the mid and late game to help get out Greninja as they get KO’d. I like having them, but do not think I want more than a pair. The deck is running a HUGE amount of Balls, being four Ultra Ball, four Dive Ball (Everything IS water after all) and two Level Ball. Ultra Ball is still likely better than either alternative because they help to regulate your hand size to draw off of Octillery. 

This deck's damage output once set up is unbelievable. It also uses all non-EX Pokémon, and the Greninja have pretty high HP totals. If you do not fall too far behind, it is hard for most decks to keep up with it. The problems I see the deck having are that it is really weak against Garbodor and Hex Maniac (and the new Greninja in mirror!) as well as item lock preventing it from setting up and recycling its Energy cards with VS Seeker/Fisherman. The deck -does- get to attack cheaply so you have some game against disruption, but the list as it currently sits is focused on just being as proactively potent as possible, which is the right place to start when trying out a new archetype into an unknown metagame.

Those are the two decks I've been focusing on the most, since Night March is the deck I plan to use unless something changes, and Greninja is the new, hyped deck I want to understand. I want to try and update Yveltal Gallade Zoroark, but I feel like that deck gets weaker and weaker as the other decks get better. It already was struggling to keep up with an evolving metagame, and now it has to cope with Fighting Fury Belt which just makes it that much harder to score KOs. Seismitoad/Crobat, or Seismitoad/Giratina both seem good with what we've gotten in the past "two" sets.

I want to close the article out with two rough ideas for decks. The first is Flareon/Camerupt, which I hadn't intended to include until I grew somewhat excited about it as I was writing. I'm not calling it tier 1, but I do think it’s cool. The second is trying to build something using Jolteon-EX. My gut pulls me in two fairly obvious directions, being Mega Manectric-EX and Magnezone. Magnezone is the more fun of the options, as it can run Raikou, Jolteon-EX AND Pikachu-EX. Pikachu-EX isn't a great card, but it plays the role of glass cannon very well for the deck which is exactly something the deck would love as a one of that shores up a lot of weaknesses.

Disclaimer: At the time of writing this, the new Generations scans were not available in the deck builder, so I'm including these lists as purely text. ( The decks will be updated)


4 Flareon-EX
3 Team Magma's Numel
3 Team Magma's Camerupt
1 Camerupt-EX
1 Entei
2 Shaymin-EX

8 Fire Energy

3 Battle Compressor
4 VS Seeker
2 Blacksmith
2 Lysandre
2 AZ
4 Ultra Ball
4 Trainers' Mail
4 Fighting Fury Belt
2 Parallel City
2 Float Stone
1 Super Rod
4 Prof. Sycamore
4 Acro Bike


3 Magnemite
3 Magnezone
4 Raikou
1 Pikachu-EX
2 Jolteon-EX
2 Shaymin-EX
2 Remoraid
2 Octillery

10 Lightning Energy

4 Prof. Sycamore
2 Bridgette
2 Fisherman
2 Lysandre
1 Xerosic
1 Judge
4 Rare Candy
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
2 Battle Compressor
2 Float Stone
3 Fighting Fury Belt
1 Startling Megaphone

I'll always put the disclaimer with minimally tested lists that they are exactly that: Undertested. Take those as more of an idea than a refined list. I feel like both of those are decks that are soft to Hex Maniac, which only further leads me to believe in how strong Hex Maniac looks, and thus my Night March love. 
Anyways, over the next few weeks I'll be digging deeper into my testing, and I'd like to cover more of the disruptive decks such as Seismitoad and Trevenant. I don't like starting with those decks as they are often best built reactively, and I want to know what threats I have to answer. I actually am just happy that the newest releases seem to be producing a major change in what decks we should expect to see. The great cards are still great, but there is an actual shake up in what I think is likely to pan out as tier one. (Of course, ignoring Night March.) See you all in a few weeks!

[+10] okko


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