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Chris Fulop

Anaheim Fallout - The Best Decks From Anaheim Regionals

Chris discusses the best decks from Anaheim Regionals as well as some exciting breakout performances from New Sun and Moon cards!

12. 03. 2017 by Chris Fulop

Hey everyone! Anaheim Regionals (Standard) is in the books, and by the time this gets posted, there is a good chance that St. Louis Regionals (Expanded) may also be in the rear view. I'll have a pair of Expanded lists I have been testing in the off chance I was going to St. Louis (I am not going.) that I want to share with everyone. But a bulk of what I want to go over is the results from Anaheim, the first major tournament with the new Sun and Moon cards legal.

The first major thing I noticed about the results from the tournament was that players generally stayed clear of a lot of the Sun and Moon cards. If you look at the top decks, you saw a smattering of the new set, but they were more supporting additions to already existing archetypes than anything archetype defining. Lets look at the Top 8 from Masters Division.

Anaheim Masters Top 8

1.) Kenny Britton: Darkrai / Giratina
2.) Tony Jimenez: Turbo Darkrai
3.) Lawrence Xu: Turbo Darkrai
4.) Jeffrey Cheng: Vespiquen
5.) Igor Costa: Yveltal / Garbodor
6.) Ryan Sabelhaus: Mega Mewtwo / Garbodor
7.) Rahul Reddy: Vespiquen
8.) Travis Nunlist: Mega Mewtwo / Garbodor

So we had two Turbo Darkrai, two Mega Mewtwo, two Vespiquen, an Yveltal deck, and Darkrai Giratina. All of these are well established archetypes that did not really gain a whole ton off of Sun and Moon. Now, there are two ways to look at this: either the new cards are not that impressive, and are not competitive, or players were much more willing to stick with a deck they knew was good, with a list that was refined in place of trying to optimize a new deck. Not everyone stayed away from trying out new cards: John Kettler had a strong run with a Decidueye / Vileplume deck, for example.

Normally I only address the Masters' lists, but for the sake of trying to find some new Sun and Moon cards, I'll look over the younger divisions' results as well.

Anaheim Seniors Top 8

1.) Turbo Darkrai
2.) Mega Rayquaza
3.) Mega Gardevoir
4.) Lurantis-GX / Vileplume
5.) Mega Rayquaza
6.) Vileplume Toolbox
7.) Mewtwo / Garbodor
8.) Decidueye

Anaheim Juniors Top 8

1.) Mega Gardevoir
2.) Turbo Darkrai
3.) Water Toolbox
4.) Mega Gardevoir
5.) Darkrai / Giratina
6.) Darkrai / Giratina
7.) Yveltal / Garbodor
8.) Mega Mewtwo / Garbodor

So with Seniors, we get a Lurantis deck and a Decidueye deck. While "Water Toolbox" is a fairly ambiguous term for the deck, the deck featured Lapras-GX prominently as a main attacker. So out of a total of 24 decks to make Top 8, three of them spotlighted new Sun and Moon cards.

The "breakout" new cards from the event were actually Tauros-GX and Espeon-GX. Tauros is a great inclusion in most decks running DCE. I mentioned in my last article how I liked it in Yveltal decks, which I don't think was any major stretch, but that turned out to be a general consensus as well. It provides a powerful 60 damage attack for CC, allowing Yveltal access to an easy first turn attack which many builds previously lacked. On top of this, both of it's "rage" attacks are threatening against decks which can't quite OHKO it. (Which is not easy with it's HP total!)

Tauros gains extra strength with Ninja Boy, turning any heavily damaged Pokémon into a cannon out of no where. While there isn't a great engine available in Standard to reliably draw into Ninja Boy and you really don't want to run a bunch of them, the mere threat of Ninja Boy into Tauros looms over an opponent. Either they do not expect Tauros and walk into it, or they do expect the play and thus play around it all game which is great value as well. I love card combinations which passively impact how an opponent plays, and this Tauros gimmick is a great example of it.

Here is a bit of a spoiler, but Rahul Reddy, who has had a great season so far (I am still bitter about him beating me round 9 of Regionals last year! Never Forget!) piloted Vespiquen to a Top 8 finish, and he ran a Tauros in his list. One of the nice perks of this is that if you are a slightly slower deck, you can just toss Tauros active as a deterent to the opponent. If they swing into it, you eat the GX attack before the deck transitions into Vespiquen. If they don't attack it, it gives Vespiquen the time needed to set up better. I think that many players realized how powerful Tauros was, and how impactful it would be in the format as there was a LOT of Escape Ropes being played this weekend, and one of the reasons is to help toss an ornery Tauros from the Active position so you could not feed the Rage. Escape Rope is a card that just gets better and better and I've continually been impressed with it.

Espeon-GX was a card that saw play in some of the Mewtwo decks as a 1-1 line. The card is pretty strong in the mirror match, and honestly, GX attacks are so powerful that there is some incentive to try and have access to one copy of Pokémon which possess them in your deck if possible. There is a similarity with Ace Specs in Expanded... the attacks are scaled over the top by virtue of you being limited to using only one per game, but if you only have access to it once anyways, it just ends up being a really powerful, efficient attack. I don't really even find Espeon that impressive personally, but it slides right into the deck well and the downside to its inclusion is really low. It is also nice because while they function similarly as huge HP Pokémon which give up 2 prizes, a GX is NOT an EX, so cards like Regice can't stop it. In a deck where all of its attackers are Pokémon-EX otherwise, it's an added benefit.

Anyways, lets look over some of the decks. I'm not going to show duplicates of every archetype, I'll go over the lists I personally think are the best examples of the archetypes, even if the list may have placed lower. Since some of the more interesting lists, or at least archetypes, stem from the younger divisions, I'll ignore my usual rule of only discussing lists from Masters and go over those as well.

Kenny is a player who has had an amazing couple of years playing this game now, and a player I still feel flies under the radar a bit despite his growing list of accomplishments. The top 3 placing decks from the event were all realistically "Turbo Darkrai" decks, only Kenny opted to include Giratina-EX and Double Dragon Energy opposed to running the admittedly more streamlined "all Darkrai" builds that took 2nd and 3rd place.

There are a couple of advantages to adding Giratina to offset the slight consistency disadvantages which come with doing so. Double Dragon Energy counts as two Dark while attached to Giratina, so it helps boost your Darkrai damage quicker than the other build can accomplish. It doesn't do a ton to speed up early game damage, but as the game progresses you do scale better.

On top of this, Giratina-EX as an attacker gives you strength against a lot of the decks in the format. Mega Rayquaza saw a resurgence lately and Giratina is fantastic against it. Turbo Darkrai actually struggles in that matchup quite a bit, too, so this is a very relevant benefit. Also, Vespiquen saw a big spike in play as well, with two copies making it into Top 8, and they get locked out of the game by Chaos Wheel clipping them off of Double Colorless Energy.

While the addition of Giratina is not "free" by any chance, it doesn't take a lot of sacrifice to fit it in. You run 14 Energy instead of the stock 12 Dark, and have to make room for two Giratina-EX. In Kenny's case, he opted to go with only three Darkrai EX, which is fine since you actually have another viable attacker. A pair of Yveltal is great in the deck, as it fulfills a number of roles: It is a viable non-EX attacker (and thus your 7th prize). It helps to spew Darkness Energy into play to fuel Darkrai's damage output. It is your one energy attacker either for the start of the game, or if you find yourself wiped and unable to mount something stronger. Finally, Darkrai's damage output is impressive, but not always able to score OHKOs, and setting 30 (or 40 with a Belt) on something works as a great set up attack meaning you aren't even giving up KOs or "relevant pressure" by taking time off to use Oblivion Wing. Also, and I know this isn't super important with the top decks at the moment, but Yveltal resists Fighting, and covers Darkrai's weakness. That is another selling point of Giratina: It varies the weakness of your attackers, too.

Two Shaymin-EX and a Hoopa-EX seem pretty well standard in all of these decks - as well as in Mega Mewtwo, and Yveltal / Garbodor builds. They provide a great safety net of consistency. The last spicy addition to this deck that is enabled by the addition of the Double Dragon Energy is a lone Salamence-EX. There are a lot of decks... such as other Darkrai decks, which are weak to Beastly Fang as they really rely on using so many Pokémon-EX that even if they see the card coming, they can't avoid taking a big hit without truly compromising their play.

Trainer-wise, you see a fairly standard Supporter line of 4 Sycamore, 3 N and 2 Lysandre. To round things out we have an Olympia and a Pokémon Center Lady. Olympia gives the deck additional switch effects, and both cards give the deck some healing prowess. With how beefy the Pokémon get with Fighting Fury Belt, this is pretty useful. I've been testing the Yveltal / Garbodor vs Darkrai matchup lately, and this healing is particularly frustrating for me as it really limits the effectiveness of Fright Night Yveltal.

I don't think I need to explain why the deck runs 4 VS Seeker, 4 Ultra Ball and 4 Max Elixir. The deck runs a pair of Parallel City, which is a great default counter Stadium for a deck that doesn't really need a Stadium to function. The card is just great for either hindering an opponent's set up by limiting their bench, or getting rid of your own benched liabilities as the game goes on. Plus, the damage reducing side can actually be pretty useful. While you do not have Garbodor like some decks, the damage reduction is still annoying for Greninja and Volcanion (although neither deck managed to crack into the Top 8). Decidueye and Lurantis are both fringe playable now, so the Grass damage reduction is not worthless either. It would be strong against Vespiquen too, although in this case you crutch on Giratina's Chaos Wheel so it isn't too important. Finally, Parallel City is the perfect Stadium to lock in play under Chaos Wheel. Decks like Rayquaza and Rainbow Road are just crippled by an uncounterable Parallel City.

To round the deck out, we have 2 Exp. Share, 2 Fighting Fury Belt, and 3 Escape Rope. Fighting Fury Belt is an obvious inclusion, although only two copies is a bit unusual to me. I really feel like the additional 40 HP they grant is important in this deck. Preventing KOs keeps your Pokémon - and more importantly their energy - in play longer, which leads to bigger damage as the game progresses. Its not a deep realization or anything, but the extra HP seems particularly valuable in here. With the inclusion of Escape Rope over Float Stone, they aren't even fighting over Tool attachments with anything. The only real change I'd like with this deck would be to fit a third Belt into it. It works great on every one of the deck's attackers, and I'd want to draw multiples each game.

On the topic of Escape Rope, without running Garbodor, the deck no longer needs to hit a 5-6 count on Tools. While none of the Darkrai builds in Top 8 opted to run Garbodor, the card has been a common inclusion in past lists. Escape Rope is good because it lets you skirt around Tauros, a very popular card this weekend. While I opted to include the 2nd place Darkrai list because I personally liked it better, the 3rd place list DID run a Tauros-GX, even without access to DCE. On top of this, Darkrai decks are very aggressive, and you often find spots where, for the sake of racing, Escape Rope can work as a Lysandre in that it forces an easier KO active. Escape Rope seemed to be the switch of choice for the weekend in the Darkrai decks.

Finally, Exp. Share is another common inclusion in this deck, which makes sense as it conserves energy in play. This is also the likely reason Kenny opted not to run a third Belt, as these do take up Tool slots, and there is a finite amount of space in the deck too. I sit here wanting the third Belt, but at the same time am not really sure what I'd be willing to cut for it besides trimming the third Trainers' Mail which sounds really unappealing because you really do want the deck to be consistent, streamlined and fast.

Before I go over Tony Jimenez's Turbo Darkrai list, I do want to definitively state that if I had the choice between running Darkrai with or without Giratina, I would play it with Giratina. I think the sacrifices made to fit it are absolutely worth it and give the archetype so much more play.

So the Pokémon counts have basically been discussed in the previous analysis, only this list runs a fourth Darkrai and obviously doesn't run any Giratina or Salamence. Without Double Dragon Energy, the list opts for 12 basic Darkness Energy.

Looking at the Trainers is where we will find the big differences in the decks. First off... unlike Kenny's list, we have Sun and Moon cards! The list has 1 Prof. Kukui and 1 Lillie. Tony went on record saying he was actually pretty unimpressed by the cards, and I'm not surprised by that. I really just don't like Lillie, and I think most people are coming on board with that evaluation. I'm more open minded on Kukui, since I was always a fan of Giovanni's Scheme...although that card was reasonable because of Battle Compressor being able to search up your one copy of it. Without Battle Compressor in Standard now, I'm a lot more hesitant to run Kukui. You don't want a ton of them as they are very bad draw Supporters, but there will be situations over the span of a game where the 20 damage really matters. I actually think I do like it in this deck, but I don't think it is close to mandatory. Tony went with 4 Sycamore, and only 2 N in order to fit the Lillie and Kukui.

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