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Mees Brenninkmeijer

"Water and Fire and Water" - Everything You Need to Prepare for Regionals

An in-depth look at Greninja and Volcanion to prepare you for the upcoming Regional Championship in Florida!

08. 10. 2016 by Mees Brenninkmeijer

Hey 60cards readers, last time my article was about the different decks I wanted to try out. This article will be mostly about how these worked out after testing and if my original ideas were as strong or weak as I first thought. Overall, I want to say that most of my ideas where right, and some of them where sadly worse than I imagined. Before getting into the decks that I want to talk about, I would like to take a look at the tier list I proposed at that time.

I feel like I was right on most things, Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor has proven itself to be tier 1, Volcanion did the same. Mega Rayquaza is a solid contender but hasn’t really risen to the top tables at a tournament, the same can be said about Xerneas’ Rainbow Road. Greninja itself hasn’t seen much play, but given Volcanion’s popularity and its ability to come back into any game still puts it in tier 1, and the build I proposed with Faded Town gives you a good chance against Mega decks that include Garbodor. In the end I focused on two builds for Dark, namely the very cool new Mew/Fright Night build (which kind of is a Mewbox deck!) and the old trusted Darkrai/Giratina. Both performed like I imagined, although I really liked the difference in the matchups both gave you, which is why I won’t call them both Dark anymore, but with their dedicated names. I feel like Vileplume decks sadly don’t have a place in this format, due to AZ rotating and attacking options getting worse. I’ve decided to drop the deck. I’ve also decided to drop most other Mega decks, as Mega Mewtwo and Mega Rayquaza usually have an easy time with them. The exception here is Mega Scizor, which is great, but suffers a lot from weakness to Volcanion. 

Unlike the past article, I will go into more depth for Volcanion and Greninja, providing you with a solid play for upcoming Regionals. I don’t like putting focus on the tier two decks for now, and I’ve decided against including Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor because every article so far has been about this deck and it would probably just bore you, and I haven’t even changed much from my original list. Because we are playing in an uncertain format, you probably just want to play the most powerful feeling deck for the first tournament. This is why I strongly advocate playing Volcanion, Greninja or Mega Mewtwo.

Tier List

Tier 1:

Volcanion
Greninja
Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor

Tier 2:

Mega Rayquaza
Yveltal/Mew
Darkrai/Giratina
Xerneas
Mega Scizor/Garbodor

Volcanion

In my previous article I focused on the Max Elixir build for this deck, but I’ve since come around to liking the heavy Energy Retrieval build more. I feel like this version has more explosiveness and can sustain just as well because Volcanion is a beast when paired with Steam Up, and with the heavy Escape Rope and Lysandre count, you should often be knocking out Shaymin-EX while powering up Volcanion-EX. The problem with this build is that it’s even weaker against Garbodor than the other one, since your damage output is too often reduced too low because of your heavy reliance on Steam Up. I feel like you’re still able to knock out Garbodor a reasonable amount of time before it comes an issue, as well as being able to knock out Trubbish on your first turn. 

A card I was torn on before was Hex Maniac. I always wanted to run it because of its amazing power against decks that rely on Abilities, as well as to hinder your opponent’s setup when you need to. The problem was that I believed that Hex Maniac also shut of your Steam Up after you’ve used them, making the card way worse for this deck (and especially this build), but this turned out to be false. Without this limitation, this card is an amazing inclusion. 

Olympia serves as the easy-access Retreat option, and I think it’s slightly better than Pokémon Ranger just because of the healing ability and the ability to get your Hoopa-EX out of the Active spot. It can hurt you to only have one Volcanion-EX stuck Active with no other access to Retreating.

Energy Retrieval is a card that makes this deck not run out of steam, while also making the amount of cards you need to hit every turn smaller (it’s one of the few Trainers that’s actually a two-for-one kind of deal). You can also use it to play Ultra Ball a little bit cheaper, but it’s too often a valuable resource for that. Having such a strong emphasis on this card should make you play a bit more aggressive with your Fire Energy discards early, as you need to have two in your discard pile to make this card live.

I’ve also decided to remove and keep out any alternate attacker, as Volcanion and Volcanion-EX are more than enough to deal with pretty much every deck by themselves. 

Volcanion's Matchups

Mirror Match

This matchup is pretty lame, and will be decided by who doesn’t have to Knock Out a non-EX Pokémon. Luckily, we have the ability to Knock Out Shaymin-EX, and we play Hex Maniac, which can sometimes give a bit of breathing room. Games are often decided in 3 or 4 turns because of Weakness. 

Greninja

Greninja is hard to beat if they get running, pretty much everything they try to do is what you have a problem with. There is no-EX Pokémon for you to get an easy knock out on, you have weakness and they are able to stop your abilities with Shadow Stitching. You can usually take a lead, where you should focus on disrupting the amount of Greninja they get in play as much as possible. Also try to play around Bursting Balloons, as you want as much Energy possible into play going into the late game.

Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor

Winning or losing is completely dependent on your ability to keep Garbodor from disabling your deck or not. Look for those early Lysandres on Trubbish, and try to quickly prepare a Volcanion-EX to knock out the potential Garbodor. If you’ve dealt with Garbodor it should be pretty smooth sailing, as we can simply knock out Shaymin-EX while charging Volcanion-EX to one hit knock out Mega Mewtwo-EX. 

Mega Rayquaza

This matchup is weird, I fell that in theory it should be pretty bad for Volcanion, but with the right set up you can set up two hit knock outs with Volcanion, setting up decent trade of Prizes and resources. If Parallel City didn’t screw with your own damage output so much, it would’ve been a great asset for this matchup. 

Yveltal/Mew

You have a distinct advantage in this matchup since you trade pretty easily with the deck. It’s mainly important that you have your Volcanion-EX ready in time, because the one favorable exchange they can set up is Fight Night Yveltal against your Volcanion. Once you get a Volcanion-EX rolling, you should be able to take the advantage on the trades, as Volcanion easily deals with Yveltal-EX. Olympia can come in handy to heal some of the Bench damage Yveltal deals. 

Darkrai/Giratina

This matchup is very lopsided if they don’t play Garbodor, with it, the same plan as you have against Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor. Darkrai-EX doesn’t really hit hard enough to form a serious threat, and Giratina is ineffective, even if it locks in Parallel City. If they play Silent Lab though, you might be in trouble, since we don’t run Pokémon Ranger to take care of it. 

Xerneas

With the right set up, Xerneas can be a pain. However it’s pretty easy to quickly and effectively knock out Xerneas, and the Volcanion-EX they play for the dual type is easy to knock out for two Prizes. A good tech they can play is Silent Lab, which doesn’t hurt them too much but can lock down your one hit knock out ability pretty easily. Overall, this matchup seems to be decided by speed on both sides, where you should usually hold the advantage. 

Mega Scizor/Garbodor

Super easy because of weakness, you can one hit knock out any card in their deck without even discarding for Steam Up. They also do too little damage to even form a threat to your Volcanion-EX. Any time your opponent flips a Scizor-EX, you’ll be very happy.

The takeaway from these matchup is that if your opponent has means to stop you from abusing Steam Up, the game is harder but not impossible to win. If your opponent lacks all the means of denial, you usually just run through them. Watch out for Silent Lab and take care of Garbodor as soon as possible and you’ll have a good run. 

Greninja

Trying out my suggestion from last article, I noticed Faded Town is a really powerful tool for dealing with Mega decks that also include Garbodor, the damage you gain over time will often make up for the damage you miss from Greninja BREAK. My original gripe was that people would simply not play down their Mega Pokémon to counter this, but this would often proof to be an unviable line of play when you have such an emphasis on playing N and Ace Trainer throughout the game. Often taking some damage is the better option next to a potential whiff for your opponent. I’ve decided to turn the count up to four, since winning the stadium war with Faded Town against a Mega deck can often win the game on its own. So far, I haven’t really missed Rough Seas too much, and playing a different stadium gives you an interesting option for mirror. 

Outside of that the list is just super standard, I still like Super Rod over Karen, but if you fear Vespiquen it’s definitely fair to swap one for Karen, which can also give you nice comeback potential if you had terrible discards that just Super Rod can’t fix. 

During my testing I tried some other things, like Splash Energy. Splash Energy is really cool against fast paced decks like Volcanion-EX, giving you immediate recovery (which is good even on Frogadier + Froakie), but the synergy with the deck is just not really there. You often just prefer the Water Energy for flexibility, and sometimes you just end up returning Splash Energy to your hand with Moonlight Slash, making it just worse than a Water Energy. If you really miss recovery, it’s fair to include one or two, but I wouldn’t do so at the expense of any Water Energy. 

Important to realize when playing this deck is that it’s a super slow deck, you often end up losing the first three Prizes before being able to do anything. This can sometimes feel demoralizing and feel like the game is played for you, but you can easily make up for this in the later game. Your goal in the early game should be to protect your Frogadier, so make use of Talonflame if you start it! It’s the only card that you want to use early after your first Water Duplicates, and I usually try to set up my chain of N/Ace Trainer to disrupt the opponent’s plan of attack. Looking for Lysandre or Bursting Balloon are also awesome in the right position. Lysandre to lock down Hoopa-EX early is great to save yourself some time, and Bursting Balloon can be used very defensively to discourage your opponent from knocking out the cards you don’t want them to deal with. Bursting Balloon itself is a super interesting card in itself, it can be played offensively later in the game to score yourself easier knock outs, but early game you can often use it to protect your freshly set up Greninja. This is why I don’t think it’s bad at all to attach Bursting Balloon to your Benched Greninja on turn 3/4, even though your opponent doesn’t really have to play around it to avoid the damage. Usually it places them in a lose-lose situation when they want to Lysandre, since most decks try to Lysandre Greninja early to prevent Greninja BREAK from hitting the field. With that Bursting Balloon though, the short term damage Greninja can put out isn’t limited by this play, often making the Lysandre less painful if it happens, or it might deteriorate your opponent from playing it completely. 

The final card I want to touch on is Pokémon Ranger, which is completely worthless for this deck outside of mirror, when playing it without your opponent having access to it simply wins you the mirror outright. I feel like Greninja has no hype in standard at the moment, but with the recent performance in expanded, people might give it another try. 

Greninja's Matchups

Volcanion

If you manage to recover from the early pressure they put out, this should be fairly easy. You hit for weakness, limit their ability to use Steam Up with Shadow Stitching, and it’s impossible to take easy Prizes of you since you don’t run any-EX Pokémon. A mistake people often make is using Moonlight Slash for an easier knock out, but Shadow Stitching is almost always the right play. Try to keep using N/Ace Trainer all game, since one of the few cards that can really screw up your plan is Pokémon Ranger with a lot of Fire Energy in their hand. Defensive Bursting Balloons are your friend in this game, since we don’t really need any of the damage later in the game because of weakness. Once you get to a stage of the game where you have a Greninja BREAK and Greninja Shadow Stitching with some N/Ace Trainer to a low hand, this match can really not slip anymore. 

Greninja

I briefly discussed Pokémon Ranger, and if your opponent plays this card and you don't, you’re in for a rough game. Without it, things are more evenly matched. A nice thing about not playing Rough Seas is that you won’t get stuck in the eternal Shadow Stitching game where one of you just decks out. This makes the mirror a little bit more interesting, since there will be some point where Shadow Stitching will become unsustainable and some player has to give up doing it or lose. Detecting that you will not win the Shadow Stitching mirror early is essential for creating an upset. A general approach I take in this matchup is to try avoid grabbing the first Prize, and making my opponent Shadow Stitching into Bursting Balloon early, making Moonlight Slash take a knockout on Greninja. After that, I try to aggressively target anything to prevent Greninja BREAK from hitting the field, since as long as your opponent can’t use Water Shuriken, you don’t have to Shadow Stitching. Lysandre on Frogadier early is great, and try to keep your opponent’s Froakie on their Bench, so you can draw your last Prizes from those. If your opponent plays Rough Seas, you’ll usually follow the same strategy, but have a nice fallback when it fails to just Shadow Stitching it out, but be sure to watch your deck size a bit. 

Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor

Very interesting matchup, as the Stadium war is super important, the main damage for both decks is limited because of the other deck and of course Garbodor. Garbodor is a pain, but we try to make up for the lost damage with Bursting Balloon and Faded Town. Important in this matchup is to play around a potentially devastating Damage Change, which you can do by promoting a damaged Greninja when it’s a good time for your opponent to use it. This is, of course, in addition to the N/Ace Trainer you aim to play as much as possible and the Stadium you always want to counter with Faded Town. Keep watch of your opponent’s Energy and try to target the Mewtwo that comes close to 6 Energy, since a potential one-hit knockout is not something we want to take. You should use your Bursting Balloon to increase your damage output, and since Mega Mewtwo can sometimes be a little bit slower, you shouldn’t need to use them defensively often. Another decent play you can always consider is Faded Town + Bubble, since they don’t often run cards to deal with Paralysis. 

Mega Rayquaza

I feel like your only fear against this deck is having your early set up devastated too much to get out double Greninja BREAK in the late game, after which it’s just a matter of time before you run through enough Shaymin-EX. Faded Town and Bursting Balloon can take down Mega Rayquaza on its own, and they don’t really have any healing cards available to get rid of this damage. Make it a priority to set up yourself, while using Bursting Balloon defensively and playing down Faded Town as often as you can, although having one for the late game can be nice in combination with a Greninja BREAK’s Shadow Stitching and N to 1. 

Yveltal/Mew

This matchup is super easy, Yveltal based decks are simply not equipped to deal with a complete non-EX Pokémon line up, and then can barely scratch you or disrupt your set up. Simply set up and win. 

Darkrai/Giratina

Without garb, this matchup reads like above, but with it this matchup is almost impossible to win. Your Faded Town doesn’t work, Bursting Balloon doesn’t work and you’re just getting two-hit KO’d every time. I feel like there isn’t much you can do to salvage this matchup, so we just take the loss here. 

Xerneas

If your opponent runs the build that focusses heavily on Exp. Share (which I feel like most people are doing right now) you have a lot of tools to make their Energy stream problematic. Exp. Share doesn’t work when you Water Shuriken or Bursting Balloon, so try to set up knockouts that way. A big issue is Galvantula, but some smart play can limit the damage it manages to deal. You will want to keep Retreating and putting your damaged Pokémon in front, since Galvantula cannot hit those because of the recent errata. If you approach this correctly, you can make sure a turn two Galvantula only takes 1 Prize against you before you manage to deal with it. The second Galvantula should be easier to deal with because of the Greninja BREAKs you will have at that point. 

Mega Scizor/Garbodor

Very interesting matchup, because it mainly comes down to Mega Scizor’s techs. Mega Scizor can’t really deal with your Greninja effectively, making you get a lot of attacks in, but it removes Faded Town from play so you can’t really make up for the lost damage they gave you with Garbodor. Effective Bursting Balloons are big in this matchup, so try to save them for moment where you know for sure they are going to get damage in. Try to save Faded Town until it can hit multiple Mega Scizor. 

Conclusion

I’ve featured two completely different decks on purpose, so that whatever play style you like, you can take something from this article. If you think either deck is too radical and you would like something more all-around, I would suggest you to take a look at the Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor decks that my fellow writers have written a lot about. 

I want to conclude this article by wishing everyone the best of luck at Florida Regionals or any smaller events you might end up enjoying.

-Mees

[+6] okko


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