Experts' corner

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Franco Takahashi

New Season, New Format, New Meta

Franco takes a look at five decks from the current Standard format and discusses the capabilities and weaknesses of each.

09/27/2016 by Franco Takahashi

Introduction

Hello 60cards readers, this is Franco again. It’s been a long time since my last article, I’ve been very busy with life events, and also things like preparations for Nationals and Worlds that I was very limited with time to do other things. In addition to this, some of you guys may already know, but myself and other writers from 60cards also decided to make a YouTube channel called The Chaos Gym, and I will be making videos there so stay tuned for the videos from The Chaos Gym as well. Now that the new season have started off along with the rotation, seems like the meta have changed quite a lot since a lot of the major key cards from the previous format cards were rotated away which it caused a major change in the new meta. As a result, some new decks have raised and made its appearance and new impact to the Meta of course. In this article, I’ve decided to pick 5 decks out of the all the decks that are currently showing a strong appearance in the new standard format and decide to go through them; hopefully this can help any of you guys as a guideline of what are some of the popular decks at the moment and what they are capable of doing as a deck. So whether you already know most of the stuffs or you are new, let’s take a review and see them.

M Mewtwo EX Y/Garbodor

This deck was probably one of the most hyped decks when rotation was announced.  M Mewtwo-EX made a very strong debut when BREAKthrough was released and proved its strength during 2015 city championship time, I personally have won a city championship with M Mewtwo last year as well, so this hype wasn’t too surprising for me and for many of you guys as well since the deck’s biggest weakness Night March got rotated out.  M Mewtwo’s deck strength is pretty straight forward and simple, with the strength of Double Colorless Energy and Mega Turbo, M Mewtwo-EX Y’s Psychic Infinity is capable to do mass amount of damage really quick which is a great deal since with 6 Energy total on either side, it can deal 190 damage and 30 more for additional Energy.  Another strength of Mewtwo is that it can use the attack Damage Swap which is huge deal allowing to potentially heal Mewtwo-EX and knockout the defending Pokémon if the opponent does enough high damage.  With Shrine of Memories, M Mewtwo can easily use the Damage Change from Mewtwo-EX putting the opponent in a very awkward and tough spot.  Because M Mewtwo can use damage change to heal the damage off, your opponent is forced to either one-shot M Mewtwo or hit a certain number of damage and hope M Mewtwo won’t play cards like Lysandre to heal the damage off so they can eventually two shot the M Mewtwo.  Many Mewtwo decks that so far I’ve seen plays Garbodor in their deck as one of the characteristics.  As most of you guys already know, ever since the rotation there is no trainer card that allows you to remove tool cards, which it makes Garbodor a very strong Pokémon to shut down abilities.  Despite that Mewtwo does not rely on abilities on its own, Garbodor is still a good insurance for the deck block abilities from Pokémon like Giratina-EX, Magearna-EX, Klefki, Volcanion-EX, Mew, and your opponent’s Shaymin-EX and etc.  Despite that Mystery Energy is rotated out and this could potentially harm the deck’s set up consistency, I still think M Mewtwo is a strong deck in the new standard format.

Just like most of the TCG decks, Mewtwo of course have certain weakness as well.  One of the weaknesses is when M Mewtwo gets one-shot constantly.  Some of the decks that are capable of doing those are decks like M Rayquaza, Rainbow Force Xerneas, and M Gardevoir.  Also some of the few Pokémon that can hit M Mewtwo for weakness aside from M Gardevoir are cards like Mew and M Alakazam. Another deck’s struggle could be decks like M Scizor and M Steelix that has a high HP along with a Psychic Resistance.  Due to the fact that those decks can survive the attack from M Mewtwo and it hits for a high enough damage that won’t be affected by Damage Change either that gives Mewtwo a hard time to deal with, especially since M Scizor can discard M Mewtwo’s Double Colorless Energy, it makes it even more difficult for Mewtwo players to knock them out.  Yet still, despite of the weaknesses I think that Mewtwo has a very strong strength as a deck thus why I believe it’ll remain as one of the Meta deck in this new standard format as for now.

M Scizor EX/Garbodor

M Scizor was always one of the underrated Mega Pokémon since its release.  It’s HP along with the Psychic Resistance was very suitable against M Mewtwo.  Also the fact that the attack can discard the defending Pokémon’s special Energy is a very strong effect and it also has the option to discard the stadium card instead also.  Since stadiums have been also a very important aspect in the TCG in the recent format, allowing to discard your opponent’s stadium could potentially disrupt your opponent’s strategy and also helps you to put yourself ahead in the stadium war as well.  M Scizor generally plays Parallel City as stadium, and I personally think Parallel City is one of the best stadium that goes along very well with M Scizor in my opinion since it helps you to discard the Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX from your bench to eliminate easy prize targets, and the other side of the stadium can also benefit you significantly from prevent M Scizor to potentially denying the knockout from cards like Vespiquen or Volcanion-EX.  Since M Scizor’s attack discards the stadium in play, you can also discard the Parallel Stadium to get your bench size back to 5 again as well.  There are also M Scizor that plays along with Energy removal cards as well, and I think that version is very strong as well allowing you to disrupt your opponent’s momentum, however since the deck list is already tight I feel like it is sacrificing some consistency for the deck in exchange, however overall I think it is a matter of personal preference in the end.  Similar as M Mewtwo, M Scizor also plays Garbodor as well to make sure to shut down any potential threating abilities as well.  In the case for M Scizor I think Garbodor is a very significant role in the deck since shutting down Volcanion-EX’s ability can bring a slight chance to win against its weakness deck, and shutting down your opponent’s Shaymin-EX mid game on can also swing the outcome of the game against decks like M Rayquaza as well.  Since M Scizor has 220 HP, combining it with Shield Energy and Parallel City to decrease as much as possible damage can be super important to prevent not getting one-shot so M Scizor can two shot the defending Pokémon as well.  Another nice thing about M Scizor is that Scizor-EX is also a very decent attacker which it helps the deck a lot to not just rely heavily on the Mega evolution aspect also. 

Despite with all these consistent solid support the deck has, yet still the deck has a major weak match against fire deck like Volcanion due to its type advantage, but if the Scizor player plays Garbodor, it is not a 100% auto lose match up either.  I personally think this is one of the most staple deck in the new standard format due to its consistency to be able to put up a fight against a lot of the current popular decks at the moment that I think M Scizor have the strength to remain in the top tier in the meta for a while.

I also would like to give a full credit to one of our member of The Chaos Gym, Grafton Roll for the M Scizor-EX/Garbodor list that is on the article since I think the deck list he made was very solid that it was a good reference as a guideline. If you would like to see the logics behind his M Scizor-EX/Garbodor list. Check out his deck profile video at The Chaos Gym here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8a1GbYArek

 

Xerneas/Galvantula/Bisharp/Volcanion EX and Friends

The Rainbow Force Xerneas is probably one of the main non-EX attackers in the new Standard format. With the new addition of the dual-types from Steam Siege, Xerneas can now swing for with Rainbow Force for big damage much quicker, and since the attacker is non-EX and it has the capacity to one-shot-EX Pokémon fairly practical, also since there are no tool removal trainer in the current standard format,-EXP share is a big help in the deck allowing to move the fairy Energy to move it to the bench Xerneas when the active Xerneas gets knocked out so it saves you a turn of Energy attachment allowing you to continue to put pressure to your opponent which is very important. The deck is pretty straight forward where you need to set up your board and then Xerneas will start to one-shot the defending Pokémon. However, since Xerneas is a fairy type, it seems to struggle against cards like M Scizor and Parallel City as well. M Scizor simply hits for weakness for two Energy and plays Parallel cities or Energy removal cards which it could become an issue for Xerneas since generally the deck’s main attacker is Xerneas and the Energy are generally focused on Xerneas. Against Mega Pokémon, Parallel City could cause some problems for Xerneas making the damage output potentially short to knock the mega Pokémon out. Since the attacker relies on Double Colorless Energy most of the time despite of the-EXP share, the late game N could potentially affect the outcome of the game as well, but in the end that is a nature that most aggressive decks that relies on Double Colorless Energy shares. Overall this deck is also another deck that I find it to have a potential with strength, and I think it’s proving its self in the meta right now that I felt like it deserved a spotlight in the current meta.

M Rayquaza EX

I think the rise of M Rayquaza was something that a lot of us knew since the rotation was announced.  Many of the players that have been playing in the past year knows the capacity and strength that M Rayquaza have.  The deck haven’t really changed much its characteristics since its release; a very fast attacker that can hit up for max of 240 damage with 8 Pokémon in the bench with Sky Field.  Despite of the loss of Battle Compressor, most Rayquaza generally played up to 2 copies and the deck didn’t necessarily relied on Battle Compressor heavily as well.  Since now that Night March is gone, and a lot of Mega Pokémon and-EX Pokémon begin to show its appearance in the Meta, M Rayquaza also earned its chance to rise in the Meta as well since it can one-shot Pokémon fairly practical like the Rainbow Force Xerneas. 

One of the nice things about M Rayquaza is that since the Emerald Break one is a colorless type, it is quite easy to pair up with different type of secondary attackers or support Pokémon.  One of the most common Pokémon that I see to get paired up with M Rayquaza are generally Pokémon like Zoroark since it only need Double Colorless Energy to attack and the Sand In ability is a nice bonus in the deck so you don’t have to worry about things like Hoopa getting dragged out with Lysandre.  Another one is Raichu mainly trying to get a slight edge in the mirror match since it also only needs a Double Colorless Energy to attack as well.  Magearna-EX is another new additional option in the list as well, mainly to prevent from M Rayquaza getting affected by weird effects such as Stardust from Jirachi-EX or attacks that can potentially put you in status conditions and etc. In those terms, Magearna-EX is an excellent support Pokémon for M Rayquaza, but Magearna-EX’s attack is actually quite decent as well considering it can deal 120 damage by attaching a Metal and Double Colorless Energy, that is not weak to Lightning, so it I think it is a nice option to keep in mind under desperate situations.  Another common combination we see in M Rayquaza is paired up with Manaphy-EX and sub attacker like Regice.  Manaphy is a nice assist to provide all your Pokémon that has Water Energy with free retreat cost, and Regice is a nice secondary attacker to gain little edge towards-EX Pokémon attackers.  Those that I just mentioned are simply some of the common combinations I see recently, however I believe that there are other stuffs that you can combine with M Rayquaza as well. 

Since the Colorless M Rayquaza is weak to Lightning, it has an obvious weakness to attackers like Raichu and Zebstrika.  I personally think that Zebstrika is one of the cards that does a well job of keeping M Rayquaza in check since it is quite easy to tech into decks.  Also the deck struggles against cards like Giratina-EX with Parallel City since Giratina-EX’s ability and the its attack Chaos Wheel’s effect makes M Rayquaza in a tough spot to either hit Hex Maniac at the right timing or to Pokémon Ranger at the right timing.  Also the Garbodor mid game on can harm the deck sometimes since most of the M Rayquaza lists tend to rely on Shaymin’s Set Up ability as their draw engine so combining Garbodor’s ability with a crucial N can sometimes tilt the M Rayquaza to lose its momentum of set up and that can cost the game as well.  Despite of all those weak point that M Rayquaza carries, I still think M Rayquaza has the strength to remain in the meta and I think it’ll be one of the decks that we’ll see for a while in the current Standard format as for now.

Volcanion/Volcanion-EX

Volcanion is a quite new deck that recently made its debut when Steam Siege was released.  It is actually one of my personal favorite deck to pilot with sine the deck have a fun gimmick utilizing the basic Fire Energy in a different way and I personally like that aspect of the deck.  Despite that M Audino end up winning the 2016 Worlds, there were several Volcanion decks that performed well at worlds as well.  After the rotation, the deck loses Blacksmith which it was a very important key card in the deck and as a consequence the deck lost its speed significantly.  Yet however, despite the loss of Blacksmith, the deck was able to maintain itself utilizing Volcanion’s Power Heater’s attack effect and cards like Max Elixir.  In addition to that, Volcanion-EX’s Steam Up ability can increase so much damage that Volcanion-EX is still a very strong attacker on its own still allowing it to be able to knockout-EX Pokémon.  Since the rotation caused the game speed to slow down a little, I feel like Volcanion was barely able to keep up with the game speed as well, I definitely want to say that the non-EX Volcanion’s existence was pretty big.  Thanks to the Power Heater’s effect, you discard the fire Energy without hesitation for the cost of either Steam Up ability or to use stadium like Scorched Earth since the discarded Energy will get attached to 2 of your benched Pokémon so it is a win situation.  Also with the support of multiple Steam Up ability, Volcanion is capable to put quick and high pressure to your opponent as you are setting up your board which I think this is something significant and the non-EX Volcanion seems to do well against other non-EX attackers and Volcanion-EX has the potential to knock out an-EX Pokémon if needs to be done as long as the right amount of Steam Up abilities are used.  Fighting Furry Belt is also a significant help in the deck to increase its HP to prevent getting one-shot as much as possible and also helps to increase the damage by 10 which sometimes this could make a difference. 

I have seen various players playing secondary attacker in the deck like Flareon-EX or Combat Blaze Entei.  The Flareon-EX is a quicker way to get it out after the Power Heater attack.  However I wouldn’t suggest running a heavy line of Flareon-EX in my opinion because I prefer to invest my Energy on my Benched Volcanion as an attacker instead, and it is more-EX Pokémon you’re running on the deck as well since Volcanion-EX can do a similar job as Flareon-EX as well.  The Combat Blaze Entei is actually quite nice to catch your opponent off guard and you can do high number of damage if you utilize Steam Up’s ability also.  The only minor down side of it is that it has 2 retreat cost, and this can ruin the start for the early pressure as well, thus why I would recommend playing a thin line of Entei also.  But overall both secondary attackers are nice options in the nonetheless. 

The deck  have a very noticeable flaws which is simply it is weak to a water base deck and Garbodor is a major issue since shutting down Volcanion-EX’s ability, thus why you would want to go after the Trubbish and Garbodor first before the abilities gets shut down.  But in the end it also is a fact that it is one of the decks that can keep M Scizor in a check as well, and the deck has showed that it can put up a fight against other meta deck as well; nonetheless the deck is not the same as last year, but I think Volcanion was another deck that deserved a spotlight in this article so I’ve decided to write about it as well.

Conclusion

In conclusion, those are the decks that I’ve decide to take a look into since they are popular and so far I think they proved themselves as a deck to be part of the meta, and each deck has a very strong strength on its own.  Of course there are other strong decks that are in the current meta such as Xerneas/Giratina, Xerneas/M Gardevoir or Fight Alone Lucario and other potential rouge decks, however since we are still in the early phase of the meta and there are variety of deck ideas that have been tested out at the moment, I’ve decided to spotlight some of the main ones this time, but I’ll keep an eye on and will try to write and cover different decks and other aspects in my future articles. 

As of now, M Mewtwo-EX Y’s Psychic Infinity utilizing Double Colorless Energy and Mega Turbo can deal a lot of damage really quickly, along with the Shrine of Memories and Damage Change combo makes it difficult for the opponent to knockout an M Mewtwo easily.  M Scizor with Garbodor is a very balanced deck with its attack effects and its high 220 HP with Psychic Resistance and cards like Shield Energy and Parallel City makes M Scizor bulky to prevent from getting one-shot and aims for the safe two shot knock out your opponent while disrupting their set up at same time also.  Rainbow Force Xerneas utilizes different dual type Pokémon to set up the field fairly quickly to start one-shot your opponent’s Pokémon, and with-EXP share it helps the deck to save the Energy attachment so it can maintain to put board pressure consistently. M Rayquaza is pretty much same with as most of us already know with its Emerald Break trying to one-shot everything, and now we see slight variation with secondary attacker Pokémon such as Raichu or Zoroark along with a variation of support Pokémon like Magearna-EX or Manaphy-EX.  Volcanion was one of the decks that were majorly affected by the rotation losing Blacksmith, but even with the loss of Blacksmith, with Max Elixir and Volcanion’s Power Heater’s attack, it is proving that it has a potential to stick in the Meta of new standard format since Steam Up ability is still a very strong ability as well.  Well the new season just started, and I’m sure we’ll see more changes in the decks and the Meta itself, but as for now hopefully this was article could help you as a nice guideline to see what are some of the current popular decks and what they are capable of doing as a deck. 

Also as I mentioned earlier, I and several other players decided to form a YouTube channel called The Chaos Gym, we’ll be generally be making videos about Pokémon TCG, but our goal as a channel is to help not just the TCG community but to help the entire Pokémon community so we’re planning on making videos that are Pokémon Go-related or other Pokémon related stuffs as well so if you ever have a spare time, go check out our channel and see our videos that we have uploaded and if you like the content we make, support us by hitting a like button to the videos you like and subscribe to our YouTube channel.  But as of now, good luck everyone whether you are new to the game or preparing yourself for the upcoming events.  Wish all of you guys good luck through the season and like I said before, feel free to say hi to me if you ever come across me at some event; see you guys till my next article!

-Franco

[+11] okko


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