Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

The Magnificent Seven

Chris Identifies The 7 Defining Decks of the 2016-2017 Standard Format!

02. 10. 2016 by Chris Fulop

Hello there again!

I was asked if I could write an article discussing Expanded, due to the split nature of the upcoming Regional Championships. I was blunt with my response to this: I have not tested the new Expanded format, and I did not feel comfortable trying to pass off any advice I would have on the format as being anything more than outdated assumptions. As someone not planning to attend any Expanded Regionals this go around, I never had the drive to explore the format more while this new Standard was still in the process of being fleshed out.

For those who have upcoming Expanded tournaments, I'm not going to be able to help you too much on that front, sadly. I know if I were playing that I would want to build some sort of Dark deck (Big surprise, right?) since Dark Patch is still a stupid card, and I'm sure some build of the deck is still extremely viable. Vespiquen, Night March, or a hybrid of the two also seems appealing, too. I know, I'm really going out on a limb with those safe picks, but like I said, I'm untested for the past 2 expansions more or less in the format, and would defer to a safe pick in my comfort zone.

That being said, I want to take this article as an opportunity to go over the decks I feel are locked in as the definitive top two tiers of Standard at the moment. I'm not going to get into the argument of saying which ones are tier 1, and which are tier 2. These are the decks that are both popular and successful on a fairly wide stage right now. Whether some of these decks are overperforming or overplayed or vice versa is irrelevent. These are the top decks you need to be familiar with when preparing for upcoming Standard events.

This list is not particularly different than the list I had in my last article because not a whole lot has honestly changed with it. I've just moved around some of the trainer counters and added a 4th Mewtwo EX for consistency.

One thing I do want to discuss is the lack of Super Rod or Special Charge. I feel like in most cases Special Charge is...kind of pointless. You have 4 DCE and 4 Mega Turbo. If you need more DCE than that, you are in a very interesting game state, and the rare type of game state I have no desire to build for.

Super Rod is more interesting, but it shares a lot of similarities to Special Charge in that the number of games you need to recover cards, have Super Rod, and actually procede to convert the use of said drawn Super Rod into a win you would otherwise not have seems low. I get that the safety net it provides -feels- good as a player, but the times it changes a loss into a win here seems lower than we instinctively want to believe.

I actually had this debate, more or less, back in 2008 with Jason Klaczynski over whether or not to run Night Maintenance in our Gardevoir builds. Half of our team ( Myself included! ) were deadset on wanting to run the Night Maintenance, as it gave the build some more leeway, but Jason was against it, making a fairly similar argument as to the one I made above. It took me until after that format ( a slower, grinder format where a card like Night Maintenance/Super Rod would be more impactful than in this one. Worth noting also is that a lot of decks benefit from being able to Super Rod and then use Shaymin EX to help draw into cards, but with Garbodor, this deck lacks that luxury. N doesn't draw many cards end game when you want to Rod, and Sycamore is extremely dangerous late game too. ) to realize that Jason was likely right about the card's inclusion. This is a deck that doesn't really run thin counts, either, so you don't get to capitalize on Super Rod being a way to recur very specific inclusions, either.

I also want to make a slight retraction from previous arguments in prior articles as well. I was pretty low on Shrine of Memories in these decks, and made sure to point that out. I've had different results lately, and the card has been pretty impressive as a whole. I think as the format has settled down, more and more matchups have popped up where it is more effective. Jamming mirror match and Mega Rayquaza games sure made the card look rather unimpressive, but as we get decks like Mega Scizor and other "two hit" KO decks infiltrating the metagame, it has looked a lot better.

I've also seen some builds of this deck running 8-9 Psychic Energy and Max Elixir instead of or alongside Mega Turbo. ( Yes, I support Super Rod in decks using Max Elixir. ) I do like how it makes the deck faster, and makes normal Mewtwo EX a bit more reliable an attacker, but it eats up more space overall and is a bit less stable. I haven't gotten to play with a Max Elixir list but I've played against a few and have felt pretty happy with their performance.

Ok, I actually still really like my Raichu build for this deck, but for the sake of not jamming that list into too many articles in a row, I'll include a different approach, which is more geared to beating Giratina EX, which is otherwise a nightmare to deal with. I do like like that the metagame is widening to the point where "make every list specifically to beat Rayquaza" isn't as viable a trend. Giratina, for example, seems like it would have an absolute nightmare matchup against Mega Scizor, and the popularity of Fairy decks is also going to make that card questionable.

So we cut the Raichu line, and added 2 additional Basic Energy, a 4th Rayquaza EX ( They have all been converted into the Colorless one now, both due to an oddly "better" weakness, and the C-60 to an EX attack being important now! ) and a Manaphy EX. One of the floating spots freed up by reducing Spirit Links and Mega Turbos to 2 went towards a Jirachi EX. I cut one of the Unowns for a 4th Sycamore just to give the deck a bit more reliably raw draw power to help it function better under Garbodor lock. The final "freed" slot goes to a Lugia EX

The plan against Giratina EX is a combination of a lot of cards. 4 Colorless Rayquaza cycling between themselves hitting for 60 a piece for a Basic Energy ( Which we now run 5 of! ) gives you a very realistic shot at taking out a Giratina EX by grinding it out. Having the 5 Water Energy alone is a huge strength against Giratina. Jirachi lets you pressure the Double Dragon Energy, even if builds do run Special Charge to recycle them. If you are able to play N and discard a DDE, they have to not only hit the DDE again off their new hand, but they also have to draw an Escape Rope/Lysandre to not just be stuck right back where they were. This should guarantee the ability to break the lock somewhat safely. Lugia EX is the final piece of the puzzle, letting you crack a Giratina for a lot of damage for WW. Lugia is a pretty difficult card for Giratina to combat, and it should give the deck a powerful weapon in the matchup.

Manaphy EX is in there to give the deck free retreat, which makes cycling between Rayquazas and Giratina and Jirachi very reasonable. You can also actually attack with Manaphy EX to heal your Rayquazas some, as it has 120 HP and is 10 shy of being taken out in one hit by a Chaos Wheel with a Fury Belt. With the cycling Rayquaza game plan, ideally you stick a Spirit Link under Chaos Wheel, as you can transition midgame to the AOR Mega Rayquaza and wipe off the Chaos Wheel damage and have another clean attacker.

I toyed with running an Energy Switch to abuse with Teammates/Puzzle of Time, as it also lets you power up a Lugia EX out of no where. If I wanted to go really deep, running a Regice is an option too, as most Mega Mewtwo builds are really really soft to it at the moment. Mega Scizor decks are as well. I'm not sure where I would find the two spaces for that, but the option is on the table. ( I guess I could begrudgingly cut the last Unown, and maybe go down to 3 Rayquaza EX again. )

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