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Caleb Gedemer

"Froggie Redemption" — Expanded Greninja Thriving in the Desert

Join Caleb Gedemer and his nearly ten thousands words on Greninja BREAK and what comes next in the Expanded format with the release of Karen. Check it out!

17. 10. 2016 by Caleb Gedemer

INTRODUCTION

Hey 60cards.net readers! Greninja BREAK just won the first Regional Championship of the 2016-2017 Pokemon Trading Card Game season and I am ecstatic to share my own Top Eight experience playing the same deck with you all.

The Tournament

So going into this tournament, I planned on playing one of the Expanded format classics: Darkness. I was getting a bit turned off by the deck, however. Many top players were cited to be playing heavier Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick lines as well as Enhanced Hammers. With these mirror matches becoming heavily dependant on the use of Yveltal from BREAKthrough and its powerful Pitch-Black Spear attack against Pokemon-EX, the fact that that very baby Yveltal abuses Double Colorless Energy creates some awkward situations. To counteract this, I considered using a Special Charge and upping my own Yveltal count to make use of my “extra” Energy count.

I knew that some of my Wisconsinite friends were using Greninja BREAK, even still, in Expanded. I was not thoroughly convinced to play it again, mainly due to my abysmal showing with the deck at last year’s World Championship, but another side of me wanted to give it another try with the hopes for a shot at redemption.

When I got into the registration check-in line, I noticed my group of pals and we talked about our decks and such. I quickly and impulsively, took back all of my testing from the week and switched to a deck I had not played in months; Greninja BREAK. Cody Walinski was kind enough to provide me with the fine-tuned list and just like that, I was blindly playing a deck that was thought to be obsolete in the Expanded format.

I am proud to say that I can usually think up how to play decks on the spot and make assumptions on how matchups play out and all that good stuff. Obviously the basics of the deck are to hopefully open with Talonflame and then from there set up tons of ‘ninjas and wreak havoc with Water Shuriken Abilities.

I was also confident because I knew that the list I was using had been through rigorous testing from some players whom I consider amongst the best in the game. Knowing all of this, I went into the first round with an odd aura of confidence, even with limited experience.

Round 1 versus Eelektrik/Keldeo-EX/Magnezone-EX/Raikou/Shaymin-EX

Game One

One of my main “problems” at Worlds this past summer, was the troubling fact that I was run out of Pokemon, resulting in a loss, multiple games. I would simply have my last critter knocked out and sign the slip with a bit of disgust. I was kind of nervous and unsure what to expect; all I knew is I did not want anything like the aforementioned effect to happen ever again.

Needless to say, that did not happen this game. I opened with Talonflame and went right to work. My opening hand contained a Computer Search and two VS Seekers, so I went right for a Battle Compressor to Discard both a Ghetsis and a Professor Sycamore, ( this in hope that my opponent’s hand would be decimated and I would not want to shuffle it away with an N, the other optional Supporter card) as well as a Talonflame. After using Ghetsis, I was shown a hand of all Energy and various, useless, Pokemon. There was one Item, a Trainers’ Mail, but not anymore! I was very excited to have ample time to set up and get my frog friends cracking.

My opponent had opened with a Raikou and was essentially forced to manually attach Lightning Energy to power it up. I got the turn two Water Duplicates off and found all three remaining Frogadiers. Greninjas flocked to the field the next turn and this game was in the bag. Weirdly, my opponent did not know when to call it quits and dragged this game on for far too long. Giant Water Shuriken is such a force to be reckoned with and Raikous stood no chance, especially when Eelektrik was made obsolete for multiple reasons. My opponent realized they could not Bench Tynamos since uses of Greninja Abilities made quick work of them.

Game Two

This game temporarily brought back some of my fear of playing Greninja BREAK in tournaments. I had a very lackluster start, with Froakie and was slowly, but surely, mowed down by a heavily loaded Raikou and nothing more. I prized two Frogadier as well and really had no firepower of my own as a result.

Game Three

Make it or break it, I have a good sense of time and it felt like it was running out. I started beautifully again with another ‘flame and got things going. Dupes went off turn two as desired and the Greninjas flocked soon after. My opponent was basically forced not to Bench Tynamos because they were easier Giant Water Shuriken targets for knockouts, sitting ducks, really. This once again meant my opponent was required to just hand attach Lightning Energy and hope for the best.

Raikou after Raikou fell with the combination of Giant Water Shuriken, Moonlight Slash for 80, Bursting Balloon and sometimes even a regular Water Shuriken.

I ended up claiming the win just as time was called, getting off with a sigh of relief. Since I had not tested this deck at all, let alone in the Expanded format, it was very nice to figure out which matchups were positive and Eelektrik decks seemed to definitely fit the bill on that list.

2-1; 1-0-0

Round 2 versus Exeggcute/Ho-Oh-EX/Hoopa-EX/Jirachi-EX/Jolteon-EX/Keldeo-EX/Shaymin-EX/Xerneas/Yveltal

Game 1

I was glad to get my first win, even thought it was a little nerve-wracking with the time situation. I once again had no clue what I was up against and when my opponent flipped an Yveltal with Pitch-Black Spear, I figured it was an Yveltal deck with Archeops and Gallade. I was confident with my packed lineup of Hex Maniac, Wally and Evosoda in defense to the lockdown of Evolutions.

I ended up very wrong with my original assessment when I saw Battle Compressor for Ho-Oh-EX and Energy. I was very anxious to see how this matchup would play out and I assumed it would be on the negative side of things. I was able to get a turn two Water Duplicates off again, yielding a field of four Frogadier and the Talonflame that I started with. I got the Greninja with Water Shuriken and two Moonlight Slash ‘ninjas into play on the third turn. My opponent’s field was reflective of a hot start, with two Xerneas near attacking range as well as a slew of colorful Pokemon. Only problem, they had not yet found a Float Stone or Double Colorless Energy to relieve themselves of the Yveltal they had stuck in the Active spot.

Once this matchup starts going and it did when they used Rush In and Retreated, Xerneas started taking knockouts with ease. The first of these was right into a Bursting Balloon and since my opponent neglected to attach a Fighting Fury Belt, this made perfect addition with a Giant Water Shuriken that I threw down the following turn for a knockout. Basically, this matchup boils down to an array of Giant Water Shurikens and Bursting Balloons. Shadow Stitching is extremely good to lock down Rebirth, as well. From here, the game quickly progressed into a one sided match where I just needed a couple more turns to take some Pokemon-EX knockouts and it would all be over. Pretty comfortable win that did take up a good chunk of time, so a game three would likely not be in the works.

Game 2

Feeling pretty confident now, I wanted to drag this one out and hopefully get a simple win. However, when I Prized a single Frogadier and my lone Splash Energy, this become a lot harder. Having the luck to open Talonflame once again was an added bonus, though. I still managed to get the Greninjas I could out on the second turn. Along with a regular Water Shuriken, Shadow Stitching and a Bursting Balloon were enough to get the lock for a win early on.

This game managed to be close after I was left with a single Greninja BREAK and nothing else but a Froakie on the Bench. This BREAK did not even happen to have Shadow Stitching. My opponent simply needed an Energy to take the knockout and they would win. Time had been called to make matters worse.

I played an N and just used Mist Slash, setting up a knockout on a Keldeo-EX the following turn with a Giant Water Shuriken. My opponent played a Colress and to my surprise did not get the necessary components for the win. I won of turn two of time.

2-0; 2-0-0

Round 3 versus Donphan/Hawlucha/Jolteon/Wobbuffet

Game 1

Wait… Donphan? I was nearly as shocked as you must be right now as a reader. My opponent and I both mulliganed to begin the game. Upon seeing my Water type shenanigans and a piece of my Greninja BREAK line, my opponent said aloud “Congrats on the win!” I was a little skeptical at first, but this proved to be a very good indicator at how good this was of a matchup.

I opened with Talonflame and for my opponent, a Wobbuffet. Wobb was annoying in the sense that I could not just come out of the gates swinging and just decimate my opponent’s field of Donphans.

Once the Wobbuffet and its Bide Barricade Ability were gone from field, the combination of Giant Water Shuriken, Water Shuriken and Bursting Balloon were able to just trounce the opponent's side of the board. Donphan is completely outmatched against Greninja BREAK in every way and Rough Seas healing off the pittance they do in damage just makes matters even worse.

Game 2

Not too much else to say about this one.

Wreak did pose a minor threat this game since I did not start with Talonflame and the pressure of that attack was able to nearly dismantle my flimsy position on the board.

My opponent was able to claim four Prizes in total, but that was as far as they got.

2-0; 3-0-0

Round 4 versus Darkrai-EX/Hoopa-EX/Keldeo-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal/Yveltal-EX

Game 1

This round was against a player I have faced a few times from the Illinois area and they were even kind enough to help me get back on my feet back when my entire card collection was stolen! I was a little nervous to find out what they were playing because as a player they are notorious for off the wall ideas.

This time, however, they were just using a bread and butter list for the turbo Darkness type deck. They played second to my start of Talonflame and Froakie. I had the fortune of starting with Ghetsis, naturally in hand and I wasted no time in playing it, seeing as though I was facing against a Shaymin-EX in the Active spot (generally when an opponent starts with Shaymin-EX it can be assumed they are playing a higher count of the card and therefore they may be using something like M Rayquaza-EX or a Night March deck that relies on oodles of Item cards). Anyways, this Ghetsis struck for seven of the cards in their nine card hand (I mulliganed multiple times to start the game). With only two cards left in their hand, I thought I had this one bagged up for sure, but the luckily drew an Ultra Ball for their turn and went right to work with a Hoopa-EX, grabbing all the essential parts of the deck in one bop.

Now, my back was completely against the wall and my opponent even landed an impressive turn one attack on my Talonflame for 100, plus Poison damage inflicted originally by a Hypnotoxic Laser. I managed to Water Duplicates and all that jazz, but with Greninja after Greninja getting knocked out in one hit each and every turn, it is hard to compete. I managed to snag four Prizes before being trounced and headed into the second game. I learned that knocking out the sources of the most Darkness Energy is a good strategy and even knocking out the Darkrai-EX with Dark Pulse can be good because it forces them to charge another up, if they do not have one already, which can sometimes be unfeasible.

Game 2

Talonflame start again, jeez I was liking these opening hands. I got off to a quick opening and my opponent’s was no different, once again. The first two Greninja that attack are inevitably going to be knocked out, so it is important to find the Splash Energy to protect the Frogadier that uses Water Duplicates. I was able to do this and in finding three other Frogadier for the Bench, truly set myself up for success.

My Greninjas flocked to the board this game again, threefold. The Frogadier that was rescued with Splash Energy plopped down on top of a Froakie I had Benched as well. I was in a commanding position at this point and Bursting Balloons provided an extra medium to supplementing the at first “mediocre” damage output of Moonlight Slash for 80 damage. When the first Greninja fell, on the following turn my Greninja BREAKs found the battlefield and then the fun started. I was able to set up two knockouts on both kinds of Darkrai-EX on my next turn and obviously cashed in on that. When those two were gone, most of my opponent’s resources were expended and they were left with an Yveltal with Pitch-Black Spear and an Yveltal-EX. Both of these guys are conceptually really bad against Greninja BREAK decks and I was able to simply double Giant Water Shuriken a Shaymin-EX for my last two Prizes and the win.

Game 3

Froakie start, oh boy. Having not played this matchup at all, considering the speed I had witnessed in the first two games, a Froakie start seemed truly abysmal and a leeway to defeat. Talonflame is a beefier target that can take a hit, or two and allow me to set up, but this Froakie was going to get smoked immediately. One of the only ways a deck can beat Greninja BREAK is outspeeding them and beating them to the punch.

I was for the most part, right, about this assumption. My opponent opted to go in with a Darkrai-EX wielding the Night Spear attack, this time and they made quick work of a Froakie and then on the following turn, a Frogadier, that I had used to find its other three Stage 1 frog friends. Time was definitely of the essence at this point and I was beginning to feel like a tie may be my best outcome.

When I at last had two Greninja BREAKs in play, this outcome suddenly started to trend upward to the point where I had two knockouts placed on my opponent's board, but neither of us had even taken half of our Prizes. Time was called, but it seemed to be an alright outcome. I had drawn into a hand of garbage and had been struggling to do much for a few turns in a row. Had I drawn into a Supporter in the near future, I would have been in great shape to contend for the win, but alas, I will not only never know that, but that game never finished.

1-1; 3-0-1

Round 5 versus Aegislash-EX/Darkrai-EX/Glaceon-EX/Jolteon-EX/Magearna-EX/Malamar-EX/Shaymin-EX/Trevenant-EX/Vileplume

Game 1

A tie still had me sitting in great shape, but it would have been nice to get a win. Nonetheless, I was paired against a quarterfinalist at this season’s World Championship and I expected them to be using the same thing they played there: a Vileplume toolbox. I was spot on with this guess and I was optimistic this was a good matchup.

Opening with Talonflame, I started one of the most run hot series of my life. Going second after my opponent missed the first turn ‘plume Item lock meant I was able to use the Computer Search in my hand for a Wally and Retreat to a Froakie I had on the Bench and use Water Duplicates on the very first turn. I had to this point never done this in a tournament game, or even in any form of game I have played in preparation for tournaments where I may have tested Greninja BREAK. Now my opponent’s back was already against the wall. I noticed that they went straight for Glaceon-EX, as opposed to the Greninja BREAK counter in the deck: Trevenant-EX. This made me wonder if it had even been included in the Expanded format version of the deck, probably not, since ‘ninja was not hyped even in the slightest.

If you know anything about how Glaceon-EX fares against Greninja BREAK and its Giant Water Shuriken, well, it is just not good. In two turns, I had removed my biggest threat from the field, with some help from Talonflame and some sick Aero Blitz attacks getting what I needed to get the win. I absolutely rolled this one over once I drew my Fisherman from my deck and was able to continue swamping the board with huge damage. Even with Glaceon-EX attacking before it was knocked out, it did 40 damage overall after Rough Seas was applied with its healing. I hoped the second game would be very reminiscent of the first.

Game 2

Boy did I get what I hoped for. I opened with the Wally in hand, again! What was going on? Was this real life? You bet and the turn two Water Duplicates was inevitable. I opened Talonflame as well, so that was cool too. My opponent even appeared frustrated at how well I seemed to be running. Different from the first game, though, a new Pokemon showed its face: Trevenant-EX! My opponent did indeed play it and knew exactly what to do. My Frogadier that used Water Duplicates was knocked out in one hit turn two with Wood Blast and then it was back to using Talonflame’s Aero Blitz for me.

I got all I wanted and went to town.

Trevenant-EX itself was no match for the damage I could muster. Aero Blitz dropped a cool 40, Giant Water Shuriken did 60 and then a Moonlight Slash for 80 took the cake. Glaceon-EX was again pushed into action, but again, it does not win the matchup or even come close. I addressed it quickly and then it was a matter of time before another Pokemon-EX knockout was taken.

2-0; 4-0-1

Round 6 versus Darkrai-EX/Jirachi-EX/Shaymin-EX/Yveltal BREAK/Yveltal-EX

Game 1

My opponent turned over an Yveltal with Pitch-Black Spear, this being the second time this had happened in the day and once again I thought “oh an Yveltal deck”. I actually was right this time, but it was an unconventional one at that. They did not include Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick and Greninja BREAK is known to have a tremendous matchup against even the Maxie’s version (with proper techs to address Archeops) at that.

They got off to a hot start, they included Dark Patch and Max Elixir (here is where the normal inclusions were probably swapped out). This opponent seemed to know what they were doing, but they were very, very over aggressive. I was extremely confused when they used AZ multiple times to pick up damaged Yveltal-EXs and discard upwards to five Energy at a time. It was like their Dark Patches and Max Elixirs were for naught. Yes, I can understand that they may want to avoid a knockout, but in the instances this happened, they left themselves with a weaker attack that I just punished all the same and then they would do it again…

Anyways, baby Yveltal are obsolete in this matchup and the Yveltal-EX is a big Prize target that is easy to take down. This game was close on paper (they ended up with one Prize left), but in reality, was more of a sweep by my Greninja BREAK deck and I. I never felt like I was going to lose, even with the pressure that was creeping up on me.

Game 2

This game the Yveltal player used a different approach that focused more on Darkrai-EX with Dark Pulse. I would applaud them for finding a better way to play this matchup, because from what happened, this was definitely the correct option.

Darkrai-EX as an attacker is more solid than Yveltal-EX, because it allows for the conservation of Energy on the board and does more damage on average when Darkness Energy loom all over the field. They also utilized the Night Spear Darkrai-EX, as well. This was even more pressure to handle than the first game and I fell behind very fast. I was beginning to think I would lose, but with four Prizes taken from the two Darkrai-EX, my last hope was to knock out a Shaymin-EX on the Bench that had been dropped to get a much needed card by my opponent.

My opponent had the game in the bag with an Yveltal BREAK (yes you read that right, it was a cool tech choice) in the Active spot unless I could successfully Bubble with Froakie. I had dropped a Giant Water Shuriken on Shaymin-EX and had to Bubble, flip a Heads and then Retreat Froakie back into Greninja BREAK for the win. Now I was aware that my opponent played an Escape Rope and they had not played it yet this game. So I was pitted between using a VS Seeker in hand for either my Ghetsis or an N. N was definitely the better option of the two, since if my opponent had a non-Item way to draw cards, like just a Supporter, they could draw near to the rest of the cards in their deck (it was around ten cards total) and hit it. I chose N, obviously and also had to hit a Water Energy of my own to take the Shaymin-EX knockout. I did not draw it. Now, I had to Bubble. I hit it. My opponent was very frustrated and had to pass. I drew… Water Energy! We got the win.

2-0; 5-0-1

 

Round 7 versus Gallade/Joltik/Lampent/Pumpkaboo/Shaymin-EX

Game 1

I played first and used a Ghetsis on my opponent. I opened Talonflame with Froakie on Bench, too. This removed every potential way for them to draw and I passed my turn. Now my hand consisted of a ton of Greninja BREAK pieces, multiple Ns, Professor Sycamores and some other useless cards. On their turn, they drew a Puzzle of Time piece and played it, rearranging the top three cards of their deck. In doing this, I could not leave their next turn draw up in the air and had to play an N. This, combined with the fact I could not afford to Professor Sycamore the cards that I had in hand. Off of the N, I whiffed not only the Frogadier, but an Energy, too.

My opponent went and had some fun with Battle Compressor (ugh) and dropped a Night March rock on my poor Talonflame. I went, checked my hand, played an N again and drew nothing! I was forced to just Bubble and hope for the best, but with a tails and no effect, I conceded and went first, again.

Game 2

Talonflame again, woo! I was hoping for a tie at this point, since I can never seem to beat Night March with Greninja BREAK. Luck never appears to be on my side. At any rate, I opened with ‘flame as I already said, played an N, yielding a Froakie and the Frogadier option I needed on the following turn. Now I would have loved to save my Talonflame for later, but with only one Froakie, I had to be content with what I had and leave the bird Active.

On my opponent’s turn, they used an Escape Rope to promote my only Froakie and swiftly knocked me out with Night March.

On my next turn I played an N and whiffed any way to find a Basic Pokemon. With defeat, I attached an Energy to Talonflame and used Aero Blitz for a Froakie and a Wally, in the bizarre chance my opponent happened to not be able to knock me out. Alas, they did find a way and the game was over. Ugh, Night March!

0-2; 5-1-1

Round 8 versus Jirachi-EX/Mewtwo-EX/Shaymin-EX/Trevenant BREAK/Wobbuffet

Game 1

Even with a still impressive record, I was feeling a little bit of heat sitting at 5-1-1. I would need to find another win to rest easy about making the second day of play. Luckily for me, I sat down against another matchup I perceived as a good one: Trevenant BREAK. Many of my friends had been telling me that this was an awful deck to play against, especially if they included Bursting Balloon. I was pretty adamant in my notion that they were wrong and I hoped to prove it.

This game went awfully, right from the start, however. I played first with a Froakie Active and simply passed. I expected to be ran out of Pokemon right away, but I drew another Froakie and lasted a turn longer. Here is where it started to get a little interesting. I had a Greninja in hand and I drew a Wally for my next turn. Additionally, I had a Rough Seas. This Seas offset the Silent Fear damage that had just dropped on my board for a turn. I was able to Wally into Frogadier and just pass. By now, my opponent had wasted a few Bursting Balloons by attaching them before a Professor Sycamore, but I cannot blame them for that. I eventually drew a Water Energy and with two Moonlight Slash attacks, knocked out a Trevenant BREAK. The Active Greninja was still in good shape and would be able to withstand two more attacks. Finally, in the nick of time, I drew a Professor Sycamore of my own and was able to get another Frogadier down to hopefully start to churn some more offense. I had abandoned the hope of actually using Water Duplicates and hoped my two ‘ninja army would be able to get me to the gates of victory.

They nearly were! I ended up clearly the opponent’s board of all Trevenant BREAK attackers and left myself with a single Prize. Unfortunately, in doing this, I had to expend all of my Rough Seas and I had a Greninja BREAK in the Active with 150 damage on it. My opponent had in the prior turn attached a Psychic Energy to a Shaymin-EX and with no way to knock it out, on the following turn they used Sky Return and took an ugly game one.

Game 2

I was getting incredibly nervous about time, now and knew these would have to be quick. This was the infamous round in which the lights went out at the Phoenix, Arizona venue and that gave me some much desired time to relax and compartmentalize what to do. This game I had much better luck, opening with Talonflame and a slew of Supporter and Energy options.

‘flame is really what makes this matchup, it can set a player up beautifully, even under Item lock. With it, I was able to Water Duplicates on the second turn and get attacking by turn three.

I found that this matchup is a breeze with nicely timed Rough Seas drops and plenty of Greninja and BREAKs to go with. Wobbuffet and Bursting Balloon are a definite deterrent, but they are not enough to stop the madness of the frogs.

Game 3

Now it was make it or break it, the last game ate a lot of time and I would have to play fast and perfectly. I really hoped to open Talonflame again and my wish was granted.

My opponent had a rougher go at it this game and I was able to speed up the course of the battle with preying on Pokemon-EX on their Bench, most notably Jirachi-EX and Shaymin-EX.

Once again, with Rough Seas to heal, Moonlight Slash in uses of two is 160 damage and enough to fall the trees. I played super fast and won the game on the second turn of time. I drew out of an N to one and got my sixth win.

2-1; 6-1-1

Round 9 versus Crobat/Dedenne/Jirachi-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Shaymin-EX

Game 1

At this point, I was likely to be a lock for the second day, even if I were to lose this game. One of my shortcomings in my first few years playing in the Master Division was an inability to capitalize on favorable situations going into another day of play. I corrected this mindset and try to never intentionally draw, unless it is to seal a Top Eight spot. To get the most Championship Points out of a tournament, it is essential to make Top Eights and getting there has to be a grind, as stressful as it may be.

I was up against a Seismitoad-EX deck with Crobat. I was not concerned in the least and figured this would be a good matchup, but also was aware that I could maybe take a loss from some bad late game Ns and Grenade Hammer attacks putting on the pressure.

I opened with Talonflame and my hot streak continued. I figured right away that getting two Greninja BREAK out would be good enough for the win, but instead, I did even better than that. By turn five, I had all three BREAKs in my deck out. Rough Seas healing off the minimal damage that was done allows for ample time to get going. Giant Water Shuriken made for two hit knockouts in some cases. Seismitoad-EX just did not do enough damage to make for a winning game.

Game 2

This game was pretty much a blowout.

I did not start with Talonflame. I Prized two Frogadier.

It was over pretty quick.

Game 3

I opened Talonflame again and was ready for payback after that last dreadful game. I got going again with some clutch Aero Blitz attack and got the turn two Duplicates as desired. Greninjas flocked and I took a knockout that came mainly from a Bursting Balloon that I attached before Item lock hit.

This one was more of the same from the first match, I got three BREAKs out and was easily trading with the hefty two Prize Pokemon-EX Seismitoads.

The interesting part of this game towards the closing stages. My opponent had a Seismitoad-EX in the Active position with no damage on it, but it had all the requirements to use Grenade Hammer. With a Crobat drop and a Fighting Fury Belt attached, they were able to Hammer for a knockout. Not only that, but with playing an N before all of that, I was placed in a weird spot where I could lose. On my previous turn, I used Giant Water Shuriken on their Dedenne on the Bench with a Fighting Fury Belt of its own. This was looking to be my last Prize of the game, if all went as planned. Off of their N to one, I drew a VS Seeker, which was all I needed. I used a Professor Sycamore and drew a Water Energy which I used to once again snipe the little mouse for the game. This could have definitely gone differently had I drawn something else. I would have been at odds for the last two BREAKs to get knocked out with Grenade Hammer, for sure.

2-1; 7-1-1

Round 10 versus Joltik/Lampent/Mew/Mr. Mime/Pumpkaboo/Shaymin-EX

Game 1

Ah, back for some more rounds of Pokemon. I barely slept and before I did, went to bed on half a pizza, not a good idea if you want a happy stomach. I came in as the third seed and new I would need another nine match points (two wins and three ties or three wins) to make Top Eight. I started the day against another Night March and really hoped to redeem myself in this one.

Unfortunately, game one was not where that redemption was coming from. I grew more and more irritated as my opponent stripped my Bursting Balloons off without skipping a beat once (I later learned they played two Startling Megaphone). Balloons are so important in this match to trade effectively. Otherwise, like I did in this one, a player can fall behind multiple Prizes with no hope at a comeback when you are also at mercy of N.

I had a few dead drawing lulls in this game as well and that made for a bad strategy when wanting to win. I did open Talonflame, but Prized a Frogadier. I just did not have an answer to their speed.

Game 2

I opened Talonflame again this game and nabbed a turn one Ghetsis. It did not dismantle my opponent entirely, but allowed me to get a proper setup and use Water Duplicates on the second turn. Once again, my opponent used Night March immediately and took off the Bursting Balloon that my Talonflame desperately wanted to hold on to.

However, no Frogadiers were Prized and I was also able to make use of the Splash Energy to keep all four Frogadier in play by the third turn. I got a few Greninjas out and opted to actually use Bubble with a Froakie in hopes to get Greninja BREAKs out and do more damage. They had the nicely timed Escape Rope, this time and were able to break free of Paralysis and take a knockout on a Frogadier, instead.

With this, I did get two BREAKs out and started to decimate their board. Along with Shadow Stitching, N was the guiding force for the win. Night March is pretty simple to beat, especially when they opt to pitch more Night March Pokemon in favor of utilizing Mew in a larger fashion.

Game 3

I did not open Talonflame this game and was worried that I might lose in a quick fashion. We were definitely down on time and this could end in a tie, which I did not mind in the least at this point.

I managed to get a good board going, but got into a spot where I did not have a Supporter, but had a Greninja BREAK and another Greninja on the Bench, nothing more. Time was called. The opponent would be able to knock out the BREAK in the Active, but they could not take enough Prizes to win when I Benched a Froakie on the subsequent turn.

Had I drawn an N in the near future, I would likely have had the potential to mount a sick comeback, but I was still happy with the tie I got.

1-1; 7-1-2

Round 11 versus Exeggcute/Ho-Oh-EX/Hoopa-EX/Jirachi-EX/Jolteon-EX/Keldeo-EX/Malamar-EX/Shaymin-EX/Xerneas BREAK

Game 1

I had noticed my opponent using “Rainbow Road” in the earlier rounds and was excited to get another match against the colorful deck like I did on the first day of play.

This was against a better player this time, so it would be a harder test. I opened game one with a pretty sick sequence. I went first and was able to Ghetsis them, revealing a dead hand except for a Trainers’ Mail which went bye-bye. Now, these decks rely on using Ho-Oh-EX’s Rebirth Ability and shutting that down immediately can render them useless. I also had a Hex Maniac in hand. I was able to use that Ghetsis and get a read on them and then for the next turn I used Water Duplicates and used the Hex.

On the following turn, Greninjas flocked and I was able to Shadow Stitching and the game was over. They generated a tad of offense with a Xerneas BREAK and I had to attack six times with Greninja’s Stitching for 40, but it got there. Pretty easy win.

Game 2

This one would definitely be harder since I was playing second. In fact, I had an awful start and got the grip that I was not going to even come close to winning this.

Xerneas went off immediately with a huge attack.

I conceded after a couple turns of getting smashed.

Game 3

Alright, make it or break it, sometimes these games can be slower, so time was of essence. I opened with Talonflame and got the turn two Water Dupes, things were looking good.

I took control of the game and knew I was going to win, time permitting, when my opponent did not use Rebirth in hopes to set up another Xerneas on the Bench. I addressed and knocked out their only remaining attacker, another Xerneas, so I figured the game was over.

I was completely right. The only problem was, with time being called on my turn, I was given just one more turn to win the set. They played an N and I was dropped to just two cards. Thankfully, I drew a Professor Sycamore and found a Water Energy for my Greninja BREAK to snipe a Pokemon-EX for the win and the last two Prizes.

2-1; 8-1-2

Round 12 versus Primal Groudon-EX/Regirock/Wobbuffet

Game 1

Now I was up against another matchup that I never expected to see and I felt like it was an autowin. This is kind of paralleled to my third round on the first day, I played against the Donphan deck and now, a Groudon deck in round three of the second day. Anyways, onto the match.

I opened with a Froakie and figured I could basically draw, pass until I found all the pieces I needed to win. I was partially wrong because this matchup probably drops a significant percentage when Talonflame is not started with. What it comes down to is addressing opposing Wobbuffet walls. Talonflame can hit them for 40 and then a Greninja can use Moonlight Slash for 80 and the knockout. The key is to pressure the Primal Groudon-EXs out as quick as possible and then to absolutely decimate them with Giant Water Shuriken Abilities. This game, though, I Prized two Frogadier and even with the three Prizes I took, not one Stage 1 frog showed its face. I had to basically concede at this point, because the first Primal that would come out would take a knockout on my first Greninja and then it would take far too long to get another up and running and my secondary Greninja would get knocked out next.

Dang, that was a huge waste of time.

Game 2

I was really frustrated after that first game, which does not affect my playing ability, it might only make it better. I was well aware that that game took way too long. If I had played the matchup, I would have realized that a Talonflame start really is beneficial and three or even four Frogadiers are needed to win.

Needless to say, I opened the ‘flame this time and did what I originally wanted to do: 40, 80, knockout. I played incredibly fast, sometimes not even playing cards that I probably should have just to conserve time.

When the Primal Groudon-EX came to play, it got bopped super fast and I won super easily.

Game 3

This was my time to lock up the Top Eight spot, unless we ran out of time. I kept telling myself it could not happen and raced the clock. I opened Talonflame again and executed the same thing.

Three Prizes in and time was called.

I tied Primal Groudon-EX.

1-1; 8-1-3

Round 13 versus Joltik/Lampent/Mew/Mr. Mime/Pumpkaboo/Shaymin-EX

Game 1

That last matchup left me more determined than ever to cut. Next up was my nemesis: Night March. Would I finally be able to beat it and make Top Eight? Time would tell.

I opened strongly and was able to get my Splash Energy on my Frogadier using Water Duplicates. Getting the aforementioned combination off basically guarantees a win against Night March, from what I have found. Just like in the last match that I faced Night March, I had my Bursting Balloons removed almost instantly, this time with Tool Scrapper, jeez. I eventually got my two Greninja BREAKs out and the game was over.

Bursting Balloon was great and obviously, Giant Water Shuriken is probably the best Ability in the Pokemon Trading Card Game, aside from Shaymin-EX’s Set Up.

Game 2

Talonflame start again! This time, two Frogadier were Prized and I was up against the wall. I decided to just forgo Water Duplicates altogether. This game is kind of fuzzy, but I remember using a Wally into a Greninja BREAK after Evolving into a Greninja on a certain turn. I was able to knockout the attacking threat and remove another Double Colorless Energy from play. The reason this was very good is because my opponent had been forced to rid themselves of another Double earlier on.

This game was really zany and I won in the weirdest way. I was left with just a lone Greninja BREAK and had my opponent on lockdown by using N to put them low and repeatedly using Shadow Stitching. They were all out of Double Colorless Energy, as well as Puzzle of Time. They made a crucial misplay earlier in the game, as well, thinking about getting a Hex Maniac having already Retreated into a Mew. Whoopsie, Trainer, Mew needs its Ability to copy Night March! When the opponent realized that the game was simply over since their Special Charge was one of their remaining two Prizes, they conceded. Very satisfying win to put me into cut, with a tie next round.

2-0; 9-1-3

R14 versus Intentional Draw

My opponent and I sat down, I was asked to tie and knowing I was a lock for Top Eight I gladly accepted and went on my way. I grabbed a bite to eat and played some games of the Battle Arena Decks: Rayquaza vs Keldeo, which is surprisingly strategic and fun, too!

9-1-4

Top 8 versus Crobat/Dedenne/Jirachi-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Shaymin-EX

Game 1

I was very excited to hear I was facing an opponent from yesterday, in a favorable matchup, that I also won against the day before. This game was incredible for me, as I opened with Talonflame and got three Greninja BREAK out.

Seismitoad-EX cannot handle three ‘ninja BREAKs.

Not much else to say. They never had the Grenade Hammer option since I was repeatedly knocking out ‘toads before they became a bigger threat.

Game 2

I Prized a Frogadier and my first Frogadier was knocked out immediately. I did not open with Talonflame, so with Quaking Punch and its Item lock in effect, I was basically stuck with just two frogs for the remainder of the game. To make matters worse, on my first turn, I had to Professor Sycamore away two Rough Seas, leaving me with a single copy for the rest.

I made a run at the win and a good one at that, but it was not enough. My opponent was out of Seismitoad-EX spaces on their field after I knocked two of them out and had to audible to attacking with Crobat.

This was sadly enough for them to get the win, even though they only had two Prizes left with only one VS Seeker left to replenish their deck with an N. I likely could have won by finding a Froakie off of the Professor Sycamore I played on my final turn. I did not find a search effect or a Froakie itself, so I conceded the game. My Active Greninja BREAK was sleeping and had 150 on it, along with a Poison counter. I had no Pokemon on my Bench.

Game 3

Alright, with a Talonflame opening, I was sitting pretty. I found a Dive Ball on my opening turn and got my must needed Froakie. My hand was amazing, with a Frogadier and a Professor Sycamore. I hoped that in passing my opponent would neglect to N me, thinking I had a bad hand. Unfortunately, they did N me and I did not get any of the cards I formerly had.

Making things worse, my ‘flame decided to take a nap after a Hypnotoxic Laser and would not wake up. I played an N that I drew and drew nothing else to help me out. I did get another Supporter for the following turn, but that was all.

By now, my opponent had obviously used Quaking Punch and I was locked down from Item cards. They decided to N my mediocre hand, but after the N, I wished I had it back. I drew all Items, a Water Energy and another Froakie. Now it was looking like I might run out of Pokemon and lose to having no Bench left. That is exactly what happened after I drew nothing for another turn and Crobat and Golbat had some setting up knockouts on the two Froakies I had and Quaking Punch finished them off.

1-2; 9-2-4

The Deck List

I was still very satisfied with my finish, although, had I won, I would have faced a Trevenant BREAK in the quarterfinals. I was and still am very confident in the Trev matchup and hoped for a win there, followed by a date with the mirror match in the finals, another match I felt I had an advantage in with my copy of Hex Maniac and the fact that I have played that matchup extensively in the past. Nonetheless, I finished fifth out of nearly five-hundred participants, nothing to scoff at. Not bad for someone that had not tested the deck once in the Expanded format, ever and had not even planned on going to the event until a few days before!

Expanded Format Thoughts Going Forward

Moving towards the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Regional Championship, Karen is going to be legal for play. This means that most players are going to be writing off Flareon, Night March Pokemon and Vespiquen, as viable attackers in the Expanded format. Outside of that, most things should remain the same. Here are some other thoughts:

Like I just talked about for ages, Greninja BREAK is still going to be the best overall deck, in my opinion. It retains the same matchups across the board. Night March is gone, a good matchup for the most part, but that may boost plays of more Pokemon-EX decks, a good sign for ‘ninja and its viability.

M Pokemon-EX and Primal Pokemon-EX may see more play, with these Battle Compressor decks set to die down. It may be a good idea to play Karen in any of these decks, to ensure a win in the given matchup, if someone risks playing it. Keep an eye out for M Rayquaza-EX with Emerald Break, especially.

People may over think the useage of Karen in every deck and just decide that Flareon, Night March and Vespiquen decks are a bad play. Therefore, people may cut Karen themselves since they do not expect any of the aforementioned things. This means that these decks might still be good! It may be worth the risk to play one of these decks, definitely something to consider.

Expanded Decks to Watch Out For

Greninja BREAK

Still a great deck, great matchups overall.

M Rayquaza-EX

Gaining traction with a good Darkness type matchup, it gives Greninja BREAK a rough time and can give Trevenant BREAK decks a run for their money.

Night March

Playing more Special Charge can leave the opportunity to Puzzle of Time for things like Battle Compressor, instead, to Discard Night March Pokemon. Gallade is better now to supplement for lulls where Night March Pokemon may be shuffled in with Karen.

Trevenant BREAK

Item lock and Silent Fear will never stop being good, especially in a format thriving with Item-based decks.

Yveltal

Old faithful of the Expanded format, it is not going anywhere, solid matchups everywhere.

CONCLUSION

I hope you all enjoyed this article. It was a long one to write and there is a lot to be learned about Greninja BREAK as a deck. The ‘ninja will definitely be sticking around, so take some of the things you learned to heart to learn how to play the deck more optimally.

The next Expanded format Regional Championships will definitely be a new atmosphere with the infamous Night March sure to at least in some regard die down in popularity.

Good luck at any upcoming events, Trainers, thanks for reading!

[+3] okko


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