10/19/2016 by Chris Fulop
Hello again everyone!
Nope. Still no clever hook or catch phrase intro. After 6 years of writing, if it hasn't happened yet, it probably isn't going to ever. I'm just not that creative! Anyways, I'm still locked in on Standard, and I wanted to go over a few of the decks I didn't really touch on last article as well as update a few that I did. I am pretty sure I will include a slightly adjusted Rayquaza list from now until the end of time (or it rotates) because it is still my favorite deck to play. I also have an updated and fairly different take on the Rainbow Road archetype, which I am particularly happy about since I was not a big fan of the more traditional list that was in circulation.
Before I get into the decks, I want to go over a few pointers for Regionals. This isn't the first time I've stressed these points, but they are so important that I feel personally obligated to include them.
Get Enough Sleep: Hey, these tournaments are 9 rounds long, and let’s be honest, most run very, very slowly. You'll be there all day, and by the end of the day, especially if you've been drained by tough, stressful matches, you'll be feeling it. You may not actively make atrocious decisions, but no matter how much denial people are in, everyone plays worse towards the end of the day when they get tired. I've been stuck in way too many tournaments where I've gotten only a few hours of sleep beforehand, and it usually catches up to me. I don't have too many examples of it actually costing me matchups, but I know it affects me. I say this as someone who is used to having a messed up sleep schedule and staying away for long periods of time on no sleep. I'm sure it is worse for a lot of people. I know it is a rare chance to see a lot of your friends you may not get to see often, but trying to ensure 6-8 hours of good sleep before an event is important. This isn't as important if you make day 2, as even if you get too little sleep Saturday night, you aren't stuck playing as long.
Eat/Drink: This falls in line with getting enough sleep, but try to have something to eat and stay hydrated. I pretty much camp the water fountains between every round. I'm also hopelessly addicted to Energy Drinks, and while they help a lot (Especially with me never following my own advice on sleep) it is important to try and save those for the last few rounds if you can to avoid any sort of crash coming down off of them. I usually save a Monster for the end of round 7. As for food, I still get very nervous at events, and that makes it so I don't like eating breakfast, it messes with my stomach somewhat. I usually carry snacks (usually healthier) to eat throughout the event. Lunch breaks are pretty useless. The time allowed almost never works out because you have 400+ people all storming the same like 2 options for food. I usually don't bother and just pack my own food to eat. Another standby is to make the first person in your group of friends to drop to be on food duty and grab stuff during the rounds. Hey, not all heroes wear capes...or make day two...or sometimes round 4...
Know Your Deck: This is a looser rule, in that sometimes there are factors preventing you from having as much time to test as you'd like. Often times you end up changing decks at the somewhat last minute and test all you can but it still isn't as much as you'd like. That said, I think at any of these big 2 day events that it pays off so much to be intricately familiar with your deck. I'm very critical of the time limit set for match play and how often it leads to draws and incomplete games. I do not doubt that most good players can pick up a deck, in a format they are overall fairly well versed in, and play it very well. The problem is, even if you can, you play slower. I'm sure some readers are going to stubbornly deny it, but almost everyone is going to be affected in some degree. Not only do you have to actively think through things more, which hurts your time management, it also makes the toll the tournament takes on you mentally greater. These event are long and draining, and knowing your deck helps reduce the wear and tear on your mind over the span of the tournament. One final important part of this is that you learn when and where it is important to give up a game. Knowing when to concede for time's sake is important!!! I cannot stress this enough. I see so many fantastic players, even players I consider to be better at the game than I am currently play out games they have no business still chasing and get punished for it. By knowing the deck inside and out, you know where the big turning points are and what games are pretty much a lost cause. Yes, a lot of games are pretty cut and dry, but it helps to know the deck. For major events like this, I'd much rather play a deck I was extremely well versed in that is slightly worse positioned than a deck I'd be picking up with only 20 or so games under my belt with.
Anyways, onto the decks!
- 4x Magicarp
- 3x Gyarados
- 2x Remoraid
- 2x Octillery
- 1x Shaymin EX
- 1x Mr. Mime
- 3x N-supporter
- 2x Professor Sycamore
- 2x Teammates
- 2x Lysandre
- 2x Giovanni's Scheme
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Dive Ball
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 2x Level Ball
- 4x Team Magma's Secret Base
- 4x Puzzle of Time
- 4x Trainer's Mail
- 2x Super Rod
- 1x Town Map
- 1x Escape Rope
- 1x Float Stone
- 1x Special Charge
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
Time for a late disclaimer: I was testing this deck and wrote about it before noticing that Jose Marrero also covered it in his article. I've adjusted the discussion to be a bit of a companion piece to what Jose wrote, so please go drop by and give his article some additional traffic if you haven't done so already!
The goal of this deck is to use Team Magma's Secret Base to place 20 damage on as many of your Magikarp as you can. Why? Gyarados, for only CC, does 30 damage plus 30 more per damage counter on a Magikarp. You can cap at 210 damage, which KOs most things in the format right now. Gyarados itself as pretty solid hit points, albeit with less as the game progresses as that 20 damage on Magikarp has consequences!
Anyways, the gameplan is to be able to recycle Gyarados and Magikarp to keep using beefy non-ex attackers to score OHKOs and eventually just win the exchange. (Ground breaking, right?) Let’s go over the numbers in the list.
4 Magikarp: You clearly need to run a full playset of these not only because they are your main (only) attacker's basic, but because you want as many as you can Bench as your damage hinges on it.
3 Gyarados: With all of the recovery necessary to recycle the Magikarp, you do not need a full set of Gyarados. 3 is going to be plenty, as you have an abundance of search cards and a large amount of ways to recycle them.
2 Remoraid: I've been torn between a 2-2 line of Octillery and a 1-1 line. On one hand, the deck is pretty thin on Basics. I prefer opening with a Magikarp simply because the deck runs 4 DCE and 2 Switching cards, so it’s not a foregone conclusion you can effortlessly Retreat on turn 2. Still, I hate mulliganning, and I really don't want to Prize a piece of the line as I think it is fairly necessary to the deck's engine.
2 Octillery: The deck places a decent amount of demand on your resources in that you need to get back Magikarp almost every turn, a DCE, and make sure you have a Secret Base out. The deck also otherwise is pretty strong against Garbodor, which is nice since it is both popular and a huge problem for decks hinging on Octillery to do a lot of work.
1 Mr. Mime: Jose mentioned how he ran a Mr. Mime because he wanted an answer to Rainbow Roads that run Galvantula or Hoopa, and while I think that is a valid point, I am also concerned with this deck starting to turn heads. (Jose wrote about it as an under the radar deck...I see it getting fairly routinely discussed now, so I am unsure how under the radar it still is now.) It isn't that hard for decks to run cheap Bench damage effects if they wanted to sway the matchup. Hoopa is easy to splash. Something like Spinda, who does 10 damage to everything on the opponents Bench for a C is a nightmare without Mr. Mime. I feel like a week ago I would have been fine without the Mr. Mime, but now I feel like it is pretty mandatory.
1 Shaymin-EX: Jose opted not to play one, despite including it in his list of potential options. I've always leaned towards the side of the argument that I want 1 Shaymin in my lists as an important safety net. I don't want to use Shaymin-EX if I do not have to. I won't use it just to chase a great start. I do want it available for games where my draw is subpar and I NEED it. With the 2-2 Octillery line and how many Balls I play, yes, it is a personal preference call as to whether or not you want to run the Shaymin, but I like it.
4 Double Colorless Energy: Yep. Running the full playset.
4 Dive Ball: The deck is almost exclusively Water, and you want a full Bench of Magikarp on the first turn. I think this is a given.
2 Level Ball: Hey, more Magikarp! These don't cover as much as Dive Ball does, which is why I'm only running a pair, but they get Karp and both ends of the Octillery line.
4 Ultra Ball: Yep. I'm running 10 total Balls. Jose wasn't running these, but I can't imagine cutting them. They let me get the Shaymin-EX if need be, but more importantly, they are instrumental in milking value out of Octillery. With a 2-2 line, it is totally reasonable to get both in play and be able to use their Abilities multiple times, and Ultra Ball is great for that. Between Octillery and Shaymin-EX wanting low hand sizes, I think this is a mandatory 4 of still.
4 Team Magma's Secret Hideout: The catalyst that makes this whole deck function. You need to see it early, and you need to replace them. The rest of the deck is built to do both ends of those demands, but you still want as many copies as you can get of this card. Also, the deck -organically- caps at 210 damage, but once this comes down, it does set 20 damage on the opponent's Pokémon (*UNLESS paired against a Team Magma deck) so it helps your damage output as well.
4 VS Seeker: Yeah. For uh. Getting back Supporters.
3 N: I'm actually running more copies of N than Sycamore. My argument for this is twofold. First off, we have Octillery. N's biggest issue is that as the game progresses, while it is great disruption, it is a double edged sword in that it sticks you with a low hand size as well. Octillery negates this. In your opening hand, you do lose a card compared to Sycamore, but you don't end up discarding resources. This brings me to the second major point: I hate discarding Puzzle of Times. Due to this, and the large amount of item draw power, I'm fine seeing N over Sycamore even in my opener.
2 Professor Sycamore: See above.
2 Giovanni's Scheme: I mentioned how Gyarados capped at 210 damage, right? Well, Magma's Secret Hideout adds damage, but so does this. It is a draw card (Loosely, but it makes me feel safer with only running 5 N/Sycamore) that works well with an abundance of Balls. (This is another reason I like the 4 Ultra Ball.) It also lets you do 20 more damage, which is the "primary" mode for the card. Between this and the Hideout, you can hit 230 (or 250, effectively.) fairly reliably. The more important part of this is for when you Prize a Magikarp. If I can't hit 230, that generally isn't too important. Being stuck at 150 on the other hand is a definite issue. Jose was running Balloon for "damage" but I am just not a big fan of that card and I am seeing more and more Escape Ropes, especially from top players I've talked with. Between Lysandre and Escape Rope, Balloon isn't that reliable.
2 Lysandre: 2 Lysandre. Yep. Moving on.
2 Teammates: My favorite! Anyways, this is a Puzzle of Time deck, and a deck that needs a DCE every turn. It also needs to continually replace very specific cards. This may be the best Teammates deck in the format.
4 Puzzle of Time: The deck has a lot demanded of it in terms of getting back cards. You need more than 4 copies of DCE most games, and need Hideouts...and recovered Magikarp...the card does everything the deck wants.
4 Trainers' Mail: The deck wants to go off quickly and Trainers' Mail is a staple in these types of engines. I've seen some lists going as far as even running Acro Bikes as well, which may be better than some of the Balls I'm running but if I am critical of Sycamore for the discards, I guess I should be for Bikes too.
2 Super Rod: You need means to get back your sea creatures, and while maybe you could get away with 1 copy (or even a Karen since it being a Supporter matters less due to Octillery) I'd rather be safer.
1 Town Map: You really want access to all 4 Magikarp, and you can search it up with Teammates. It shouldn't be too hard to get an early KO to liberate the poor fish if it is trapped. I HATE this card usually, I made fun of it pretty badly when it was in a few Night March lists, but this is a deck that actually wants it.
1 Special Charge: While Puzzle of Time can take care of all your DCE needs, I love not having to stress the Puzzles if I don't have to, and 1 Special Charge fits that bill perfectly.
1 Float Stone: Hey, we need to Retreat things.
1 Escape Rope: Hey, we need to Retreat things and we have access to Teammates and Puzzle of Time so the diversity between the two cards is worth it. I've been really happy with Escape Rope lately.
One thing I could absolutely see is running 1 single copy of Burst Balloon as something to search up with Teammates and loop with Puzzles if need be. I haven't tested it, and the idea honestly just came to me as I am writing this, but that actually seems pretty awesome. I love how Teammates and Puzzles allow such a dynamic toolbox in decks.
Rainbow Road, 2.0
- 3x Xerneas
- 1x Xerneas
- 1x Hoopa EX
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 1x Celebi
- 1x Carbink
- 1x Jirachi
- 2x Volcanion EX
- 1x Flygon EX
- 4x Max Elixir
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 4x Sky Field
- 1x Teammates
- 2x Super Rod
- 1x Lysandre
- 3x Float Stone
- 3x Fighting Fury Belt
- 3x N-supporter
- 3x Professor Sycamore
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
- 8x Fairy Energy
One of the other decks which I wanted to go over that is getting a lot of hype at the moment is Rainbow Road. I mentioned in my last article that I really did not like Rainbow Road as a deck. I had multiple criticisms of the deck in addition to just a poor gut feeling on the deck. (I've historically just disliked certain decks...usually I finish the format, even in retrospect, standing by those conclusions. Other times I just can't bring myself to support a clearly reasonable deck choice. For those of you who have been reading my work for a long time now, I absolutely hated the Gengar/Vileplume deck that was clearly the number two deck in the format behind any of the SP decks in 2010/2011. The deck was definitely good enough, I just couldn't bring myself to like it. Usually I am not THAT stubborn though.)
In this case, I felt like the deck was extremely clunky. I wasn't super happy with how the deck interacted with N. With some combination of Max Elixir and Exp. Share as means of accelerating energy attachments. Still, continually chaining Xerneas against a deck able to one-shot them never really played out as smoothly as I'd have liked. The original popular build of this deck ran a bunch of clunky nonsense that further augmented this problem, such as a Bisharp and Galvantula line. Don't get me wrong, I actually have been a big fan of Galvantula as a card overall since I read it, but jamming these thin 2/2 lines into a deck that is already not that smoothest is just not at all where I want to be. Bisharp also was comically underwhelming in almost every matchup. The big issue I have with Galvantula in this deck is that the selling point here is using a high HP basic Pokémon that is not an-EX to OHKO things. Once you take time off to start spreading 30s (IDEALLY 60s with Weakness!) it just feels like you've lost sight of that. What are you hoping to accomplish in most spots? You aren't really OHKOing anything on the Bench, so you either need to pull off a pair of Galvantula in a row. (Unlikely with a 2/2 line, as it has far too few hit points to really survive a turn in any real game state.)
Otherwise, you end up leaving this damage on the board, and once you transition back to Xerneas, you just OHKO stuff anyways. The damage just sat around being incrementally irrelevant far too often for my taste for a 2/2 line. The pressure on a Shaymin heavy Bench is alright, but it still suffers from the fact that an opponent can bring up one of the Shaymin and use Sky Return, saving it, and then just promote the other one since Galvantula was errata'd to not be able to target the Active Pokémon. Now, the "upside" to this is that if you can transition into a Xerneas the next turn, you get to take a Shaymin KO, but is that really even better than just passing the turn and using a Lysandre on the following turn opposed to even using Galvantula?
Perhaps I am being too harsh on the card. If it were a Basic, I'd be on board. I mean that more abstractly than anything else, as obviously that attack is a bit too good to be put on a Basic Pokémon, but I just hate using up 4 spots in my deck to have access to a fringe Plan B. I should at least note that while the Lightning Weakness comes up the most on Shaymin-EX, the card IS rather impressive against Greninja, since a majority of that deck is weak to Grass, which Galvantula also is. I guess maybe I should point out that I understand the MAIN point of Bisharp and Galvantula was to abuse the fact they are split typed since that counts towards 2 increments of damage for Xerneas. (Not everything can be as simple as Volcanion-EX, right?) I feel like the deck can pull off the damage necessary without having to resort to clunky stage 1 inclusions.
Now, especially without the density of split typed Pokémon that the old list had, the deck is particularly reliant on Sky Field to be able to do more than 190 damage with Rainbow Force. Keep in mind that decks are already being built with Parallel City to combat Mega Rayquaza, so that was another strike against I had on the deck. The deck feels even more vulnerable to me because it isn't just asking you to maintain a full Bench like Rayquaza, it requires you to keep a very specific full Bench. To keep the type diversity a plan, you need to run thin numbers of each card, and after being hit by a Parallel City or two, it is going to be progressively more difficult to actually hit high damage numbers. It makes me paranoid to embrace a strategy that is extra weak to counter measures being taken against more popular decks. (Although I guess previously more popular decks as I've faced more of this deck on PTCGO than I have Rayquaza recently.) That sort of "splash hate" really pushes me off of decks. That being said, Rayquaza has tapered off in popularity due to the efforts taken to combat it, so I can see this leading to less people determined to sleeve up Parallel Cities as well. This deck is on the radar right now though, so that may push the Parallel Cities back into decks too.
Anyways, gone are the Exp. Shares and the Stage 1 Pokémon, and in their place is a much more streamlined list. Let’s look at the numbers.
3 Xerneas (BKT): This is the primary attacker in the deck, and you likely wonder why I am only running 3 copies of it. Well, the main reason is that I can only run 3 Xerneas total, so I had to free up space for the Geomancy one. Beyond this, to combat the decks issues with Parallel City, I'm running 2 Super Rod. As a result, I think 3 copies is totally fine.
1 Xerneas (XY): I am running 1 of these as a means to dump Fairy Energy onto a pair of BKY Xerneas in games where you miss an attack. In any slower, disruptive game, it lets you build up a more substantial board presence. It isn't something you defer to every game, or even close to it, but I've not felt a major hit by only running 3 BKT Xerneas, and this card does come up often enough. This is a fall back plan for bad games or for when the deck struggles, which is a safety net I appreciate in this archetype.
2 Shaymin-EX: Well, I'm not going over why this card is in the deck. It only runs 2 copies because you really don't want to give up too many Bench targets for Lysandre since you are trying to leverage being a non-EX deck, and because you don't want to fall into the trap of filling your Bench with too many redundant types.
1 Hoopa-EX: Hoopa is one of the better ways to reliably fill a Bench with Pokémon, both early in the game and as recovery after a Sky Field gets stripped. I'd like to run 2 of them, but unfortunately you need a wider type coverage with basics, and space is still tight overall.
2 Volcanion-EX: These are easy access sources of two types of Rainbow Force damage. You only need to Bench one, but you really don't want to have one Prized, and you want to be able to replace them when one dies or gets discarded. Since most of the random typed Pokémon are fluff, in that their only real purpose is to sit and be colorful, the one that provides two types gets the most copies.
1 Flygon-EX: On the topic of fluff, Flygon-EX's role is to be Dragon Type, and occasionally pull off cute "Escape Rope"-esque plays when made active with a Float Stone. Most of the Pokémon we have to run don't offer a ton of passive value, so this at least offering an Ability opposed to an attack that works out every so often is nice. Flygon is also really cute for getting around Bursting Balloons.
1 Carbink: Hey, a Fighting type that can't be hit by Pokémon-EX! Woo! Actually, I mentioned how I like the Geomancy Xerneas as an option for your "turn off" if you don't have a good attack, and this serves a similar role in that you stick it active to buy time against-EX heavy decks. I mentioned how I dislike how sometimes late game if you get a Xerneas KO’d that the follow up is hard to stick, and this guy being on the Bench at least demands a Lysandre or Escape Rope in a lot of positions and once the Ns start flying, that sticks enough to be impactful.
1 Jirachi: It is Metal type! Okay, okay, besides that, you can strip away Special Energy cards with its attack, and while I don't really love taking your foot off the gas with this deck. (Part of the appeal of OHKOing Pokémon isn't just the increased clock it provides on the exchange, but it really pressures the opponent's board and more importantly energy supply. Giving the opponent turns to build up isn't really what I like to be doing.) Normally I like this card against Giratina-EX, but due to type advantage, you can still do 260 damage with a Benched Volcanion-EX. With Geomancy and Max Elixir, the lack of DCE attachments can be circumvented too. Jirachi benefits from being a unique type, while also having a universally applicable colorless attack.
1 Celebi: Hey! Another stall option! I actually really like this card as an anti-Gyarados option, if you run Grass Energy, since it even gets around Mr. Mime's Ability by placing damage counters. In this case, it is a new type, which sometimes doesn't give up a Prize card.
4 Double Colorless Energy: See also, Shaymin-EX. This card is also self-explanatory.
8 Fairy Energy: Between Geomancy and Max Elixir, you want a high count of Basic Fairy energy. 9 is really the number I feel most safe with for Elixir, but this deck even runs a pair of Super Rod to replenish them with. As a result I am comfortable going with only 8. As the game progresses and you thin the deck and put back Energy, the Elixir hit rate goes up. Going first, you organically get to power up the attack on the second turn so you don't really need the Elixir until the second Xerneas. The only time I really would feel the pressure of this cut is when you go 2nd, can get a Xerneas active, have access to DCE, can fill your Bench for a KO, draw Max Elixir too, and the reduced Elixir percentage actually causes you to whiff the attachment. I think it is a negligible rate.
3 Professor Sycamore: This is your pretty standard draw Supporter. I'm going with a 3/3 split with N but if you want to go 4/2, or 2/4, that is probably defensible.
3 N: See above.
1 Teammates: I know, I love Teammates more than any other player in this game, and it finds its way into my lists far more than maybe it should. I really like being able to grab say, DCE and Max Elixir after a KO. Or maybe a timely Sky Field. Making sure to have access to Super Rod is important too. I think there are just too many late game positions where I care more about specific cards than I do quantity and Teammates is great for that. Since the engine doesn't DEMAND access to Teammates, and the card is poor in the opening hand, I'm going with the awkward 1 copy opposed to the 2 I use in most lists. (Those often hinge heavily on Puzzle of Times, so the "need" to see Teammates is higher.) If you just hate sweet cards and don't want to run the Teammates, it was originally the 7th "Sycamore/N".
1 Lysandre: I hate this, but the initial list I got from a friend and started testing with ran only 1 Lysandre, and it hasn't been enough of an issue to where I NEEDED to add the 2nd one back in. It feels so fundamentally wrong, but I don't see where I can free the space. The Energy can't go any lower. The Pokémon are flexible, but they have to transition into other Pokémon just to keep the type count appropriate. The Trainers can be messed with, but I don't see much I'd like to trim either.
4 VS Seeker: See also, Shaymin-EX. Double Colorless Energy.
4 Sky Field: The deck needs to keep a full Bench, and you'll end up fighting Stadium wars often. You could maybe get away with 3 copies since you -can- OHKO stuff with a Bench of only 5 and you struggle to re-fill your Bench after too many counters anyways, but this is a rare case of me not wanting to be greedy on a number.
4 Max Elixir: I've experimented with the initial Exp. Share build, and a hybrid of those and Max Elixir, and just running 4 Elixir has been best. I was annoyed with how Share would conflict with the other Tools in Float Stone and Fighting Fury Belt. At this rate, a turn 1 attack isn't that rare, and you can usually rebuild after eating a KO. This is another count that could maybe go down to 3 with the Geomancy Xerneas plan, but if you want to chase the quicker attacks, the maximum number of these is correct.
3 Float Stone: You need to be able to switch between your Pokémon, and I like 3 copies of this over 2 since this build is at least trying to optimize the odds of being able to attack on the first turn.
3 Fighting Fury Belt: While the damage isn't extremely important, the difference between 120 HP and 160 HP is massive. A lot of decks will struggle to punch through 3 160 HP Xerneas.
2 Super Rod: I've addressed this count a lot already, but you need to get your specific Pokémon back, and it helps to fuel late game Elixirs. It also lets you get away with the 3/1 Xerneas split. It also...is a really miserable early game draw. (Hey, it can't all be good, right?) The 2nd Super Rod also makes having to Ultra Ball or Sycamore away your only copy far less vomit inducing. At least with Rayquaza I run Puzzle of Time which can get it back. This deck not only -NEEDS- to use Super Rod most games, but it has no real cheats around it if things go sideways. I've debated Karen, but I think getting back energy for Elixir is too important.
4 Ultra Ball: See also...ok, I give up. Its Ultra Ball. Run 4.
3 Trainers' Mail: This helps glue the deck together. I started with 4 but had to trim them down a bit. I feel like any deck that wants to run Mail benefits from the card so much that you want 4, but oh well, space is tight these days! On the plus side, it uh, reduces the odds you see another Mail with your Mail, so that’s a slight perk? They dig you to draw power, Elixirs, Sky Fields...I don't think I have to defend Trainers' Mail as much as I do my lack of a full set.
Mega Rayquaza Raichu
- 3x Rayquaza EX
- 2x M Rayquaza EX
- 1x M Rayquaza EX
- 4x Shaymin EX
- 3x Hoopa EX
- 1x Unown
- 3x Pikachu
- 2x Raichu
- 2x Rayquaza Spirit Link
- 4x N-supporter League Promo
- 2x Teammates
- 3x Lysandre
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Sky Field
- 4x Puzzle of Time
- 2x Mega Turbo
- 1x Super Rod
- 2x Escape Rope League Promo
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
- 5x Lightning Energy
Alright, so I'm not going to go into full card by card detail here since I've discussed this deck a lot but I do want to go over the major changes.
We're at a 3-2 Raichu line. I want to lead with Raichu in a lot of matchups if I can. This deck isn't necessarily fast, so the whole "turbo Rayquaza" mindset needs to be set aside. I'd rather take a KO with a non-EX and then take out their attacker with a Rayquaza as it greatly reduces the odds of a return KO. Pikachu is your best opener. It is your only "free Retreater" in that since you don't care about a first turn KO, you can evolve and Retreat just in time to go aggressive. Pikachu is also a fine option to get KO’d to start getting Teammates online.
I've gone up to 5 Basic Energy just so I can reliably attach turn one without having to chase things. 4 was playing so much better than 3 was, and the jump to 5 has been really relieving. You aren't beating Giratina anyways, but it at least makes attaching a real option.
I mentioned the N vs Sycamore debate in Gyarados, and this is partially why I am in favor of that split. I've actually transitioned entirely into N for this deck. You don't really have resources you want to discard here. Your first turn is actually pretty simple and you have so many draw off of Hoopa/Shaymin-EX. As the game progresses, you want to use Teammates anyways.
One of the things I am trying here is 3 Lysandre. You really want to jump on Garbodor, and having access to the turn 2 Lysandre is really important. The deck also just wants to pressure their energy drops, so a turn 2 Lysandre is almost always desired. I'll acknowledge I would like a 5th "Draw" Supporter, such as the 1 of Sycamore to go with the Ns (And perhaps 3 N 1 Sycamore is better and I'm just being too experimental, but the 4 N have been great so far.)
The last change is going from 1 Float Stone/1 Escape Rope to 2 Escape Rope. The downside of the Rope "backfiring" is mitigated by the additional Lysandre. On top of this, the Yveltal (BKT) deck (Also written about in Jose's article. I haven't played around with it much so I'm not going into too much detail there.) loves preying on decks reliance on Float Stone to Retreat. It also gets around Burst Balloon and can act as a Lysandre at times too. I'm not sure how popular Klefki is, but the card is really strong there. In the same vein, I'm not sure how prevalent Jirachi will be, but getting around its damage prevention is useful too.
Anyways, it feels as if this format is beginning to get solved. Volcanion, Mega Mewtwo, Mega Rayquaza, Greninja, Mega Scizor, Rainbow Road, Darkrai Giratina, Gyarados, and Mew/Yveltal seem to make up the tier 1 and tier 2 decks, although exactly which decks fall where are not as locked in, and likely dependent on what the previously most popular of those are at any given time. I'm unsure if there is anything impressive enough to break through that gauntlet of decks right now. I'm really excited to see the results of the upcoming Regionals. I wish I could make it down to Florida to play (I would, gasp, use Mega Rayquaza. The rise in popularity of Volcanion makes me really happy about the deck right now.) but that is just not a realistic trip. Due to work I'm not going to be able to chase 500 CP this season, and Florida is enough of a trip I would have to take 1st or 2nd (even with the augmented Prizes being tacked on by the organizers! Great call on that guys!) to not be down a substantial chunk of money. I am looking forward to Philly and Fort Wayne though!
Good luck to those attending upcoming Regionals, and I look forward to seeing people at the two I will be attending!
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