Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

"My Top 5 Contenders for Spring Regionals"

First off, I want to thank Martin Kaninsky for giving me the opportunity to write for,

09/11/2014 by Jose Marrero

I’m going to start off by explaining a little bit about myself. I have been playing the Pokemon TCG for about 5 years now, all while residing in the great state of Florida. But only the last 3 years are when I really started playing competitively.


For those that want to see some of my accomplishments, well, here you go.


Top 16 US Nats 2013

Top 64 US Nats 2010

Top 4 Georgia States 2011

2nd Florida States 2014

Top 8 Texas Regionals 2014

2nd Florida Regionals 2014

2nd Georgia Regionals 2013

9x City Wins 

2013 Worlds Competitor

2014 Worlds Competitor


1. Darkrai EX/Yveltal EX

In no particular order, lets start off with Darkrai/Yveltal.This deck has been one of my favorites ever since Yveltal Ex was introduced in XY. I managed to take 2nd place with this deck at Florida States with the same deck taking 1st. I feel like this is one of the strongest decks out right now. Yveltal Ex’s first attack Evil Ball does tons of damage. With the correct amount of energy, you can 1 hit KO any EX. But more importantly, I want to talk about his 2nd attack, Y Cyclone.

With Virbank/Laser/Muscle Band you can do 90+20 band+30 poison=140 and if they don’t retreat or bump your stadium, most Ex’s will get KOed at the end of your opponents turn. Essentially giving you another free target to hit. Darkrai can set up the same scenario as well. As good as Evil Ball is, Y Cyclone can set up nice KOs, and set up a back up attacker if you think your active Yveltal Ex will see some lethal damage next turn.

One tech that I personally like in this deck is Sawk. This guy does wonders against Plasma. For 1 colorless energy, you can 1 shot Thundurus Ex with Virbank/Laser/Muscle Band. A non Ex KOing an Ex is always the way to go. Another great tech I like in this deck is Absol. Although i didnt play him during states. I wish i had played him. Hes great against Safe Guard pokemon, and just to make your opponent play the 7 prize game is another nice thing. Then you have your most common tech which is Bouffalant, the one with the Gold Breaker attack. Since your already running double colorless energy this guy is pretty nice. With a Virbank/Laser/Muscle Band you can 1 shot 170 hp Ex’s.

A great non pokemon tech that i like in the deck is Enhanced Hammer. (One of the main reasons i went with 2 Sableye in my States list) I wanted to have more chances to Junk Hunt for resources, especially hammers. Now depending on your meta, the hammers can be a hit or miss. If all there is are Blastoise and Rayboar decks floating around, the card won’t be nearly as impactful, but with all the Aromatisse and Plasma decks, hammers are great. Two of this decks toughest match ups are Blastoise and Rayboar. The fact that they can 1 shot any of yours guys can give the Darkrai/Yveltal player some hurting. Two of your good match ups should be Aromatisse based decks and Plasma based decks. With the hammers being an option. They can truly take you to victory if played at the right times. Along with some of your non Ex attackers.

Without further adue, here’s the deck list I used to place 2nd at Florida States.

Like I said above I went with 2 Sableye, and 2 Enhanced Hammers. I felt that there were going to be quite a few Plasma and Aromatisse decks, which I was fairly correct about. I wanted to spam those hammers as much as possible to slow my opponent down. Round 2 of FL states, I faced an Aromatisse deck, and hammers did a lot of work. Won 2 very convincing games there. In top 4 I faced my buddy David Lopez, playing Plasma. His list is more unique than most, but hammers still did fairly well there. Took another 2 quick convincing games. He did dead draw a bit both games, but still. If I were to play Darkrai/Yveltal again, I would definitely add an Absol. Mostly for Safe Guarders who can be very annoying.

 2. Plasma/Lugia EX

Next up we have Plasma, I feel this deck is another top contender when it comes to power. Take a look at Lugia Ex. With a Muscle Band and 3-4 Deoxys Ex, you can 1 hit KO Ex’s for 3 prizes. Ever since Muscle Band was introduced, Plasma has been an even greater threat for most decks. The fact that you can win in 2 turns makes this deck one to watch out for. There are some decks that give this deck a run for its money though, such as Blastoise and Rayboar. Pretty much anything that can 1 hit KO Lugia Ex, gives it trouble. Then you have decks like Trevenant/Accelgor, If they are able to get a silver mirror onto a Trevenant, then.... well lets just say its gonna be a long and unfortunate game for the plasma player. Since you cant use tool scrapper to get rid of the silver mirror while trainer locked.

One tech that I like in plasma is Palkia Ex. It helps your Blastoise and Rayboar match up. Basically, you are able hit and run into someone else, making Palkia safe at all times, aside from catcher. Another tech that deserves a spot is Absol. This bad boy helps against things like Safe Guard abilities, such as Sigilyph and Suicune. Both of which are pretty popular these days. Even more so in Aromatisse based decks. That’s why you need some kind of non EX attacker.

The fact that Absol is a non EX makes him even better for prize trades as well. Kyurem is another great non Ex attacker, having a snipe attack is always nice to have, for things that barely dodge a 1 hit ko, you can finish it off later. Also great against Fighting pokemon that give Thundurus Ex trouble, such as Landorus Ex. Some people like to run Genesect Ex for his Red Signal ability, but I personally like Pokemon Catcher over Genesect. This way you can just draw into your catchers and threaten fast knockouts on key bench sitters right away. Although Genesect is nice middle to late game, when your field is pretty much set up, and you can afford to manually attach a plasma energy to it while still having an attacker ready. It’s more of a personal preference, so I would try both versions to see which you prefer!

Heres a standard Plasma list with catchers, as well as a few of my personal preferences.

As you can see there are 2 Absol in the list. Why 2 Absol? Well good question. More and more Safe Guard pokemon are seeing play in many decks. Whether it be in the most popular deck to see them in which is Aromatisse based decks, or just a 1 of tech in Blastoise (thanks Brit). You need some form of non Ex attacker to deal with those guys, and I feel Absol is your best bet. Palkia Ex is of course for your Blastoise and Rayboar match ups. With a Muscle Band and 2 Deoxys you are 1 hit koing Black Kyurem Ex and Rayquaza Ex, while also fleeing back to the bench to be safe. The only way your opponent is going to demolish your strategy is a Pokemon Catcher onto the Palkia. That’s what you never want to see, or else it's going to be a much tougher match. If that happened, you would have to focus more on Lugia Ex to take quick prizes.

I went with Dowsing Machine over Scramble switch and Computer Search because having that extra count can mean a lot. Whether it be for catcher, or for a switch card. Middle to late game is when Dowsing shines. Of course you also have the standard 2 Tool Scrapper for Garbodor decks. You need these to make your Deoxys work, and your Lugia to take that extra prize card. I went with a heavy Bicycle count because I love the draw power bikes bring to the table. Since I'm playing heavy Ultra Ball over Team Plasma Ball, the bikes can give you more draw than usual. If you want to dig for that catcher or that muscle band. Then Bicycle can potentially make it happen. In some cases being a big game changer.

3. Aromatisse/Big Basics/Plasma

Thirdly, we have 2 Aromatisse based decks that have seen a lot of play during the 3 weekends of states. Although they did not take any wins, they did manage to do fairly well. The two being the Big Basic version, and the Plasma version. In case you don’t know which is which, the Plasma version focus’s more on Thundurus Ex’s Raiden Knuckle attack for acceleration, letting you attach any energy from your discard to 1 of your benched plasma pokemon. The Big Basic version focus’s more on Xerneas’s Geomancy attack for acceleration, letting you search out 2 fairy energy from your deck and attaching 1 to 2 of your benched pokemon. While they seem pretty similar, they are actually quite different.

A few great attackers in this deck are Landorus EX, of course, for 1 energy you can start doing damage right away. Then you have your main acceleration guys, Thundurus Ex, or Xerneas (non-ex). Both versions run Yveltal EX, because honestly the card’s just too good not to play. You can pretty much add almost any basic pokemon you want. The deck runs both Prism energy and Rainbow energy, anything becomes splashable. It really just depends on your meta on what pokemon you want to run. Whether it be Zekrom/Emolga Ex for things like Yveltal Ex and Lugia Ex, or Terrakion for Darkrai, etc etc. Two little guys that I like in the deck are both Sigilyph, and Suicune. Both have the Safe Guard ability, which they cant be damaged or affected by Ex pokemon, so they’re nice to have against most current decks.

Here's a buddy of mines Aromatisse/Plasma version list he used to top 8 Texas States. Shout out to Brad Curcio for sharing his list with us. Again you can change up the pokemon line with what ever basic pokemon you want.

You can see this version focuses more on Genesect’s G booster. A surprise G Booster can be real crucial for your opponent. Your toughest match ups would have to be Blastoise and Rayboar since they can 1 hit ko your guys. In which takes away a lot of your energy, and in this deck you wanna save as much energy as possible. Brad went with a heavy Thundurus Ex line, which I like. You want to start with him and start getting energy onto the field right away.

Another thing you might notice is the heavy Fairy Garden count. You may ask yourself why run Fairy Garden if your already running Darkrai? Well good question. Sometimes you don’t want Darkrai on your bench, you may want room for another attacker. Since you have Fairy Garden you can afford not to drop the Darkrai down. Another reason why the Fairy Gardens are nice are for bumping other stadiums. Whether it be Tropical Beach in Blastoise/Ryaboar decks, or Virbank City Gym in Darkrai based decks. I like the option of bumping those popular stadiums. Thanks Brad for sharing your list with us.

Heres a standard Aromatisse/Big Basic version list. Yet again, you can change up the pokemon line with what ever basic pokemon you want.

This version dosen’t run G Booster since you don’t run Genesect. You run more different types of pokemon than the other list, so you can choose your attack based on whatever is active accordingly. Turn 1 Geomancy is always the way to go, so you can stack up on energy right away. Never put yourself without energy on the field. If so, that’s where the most crucial points in the game will be. Not having enough energy on field to have an answer back or to 1 hit KO your opponent's active pokemon threatening your field.

4. Blastoise/Black Kyurem EX/Keldeo EX

Last but not least, we have Blastoise. This deck has done significantly better than most decks these past 3 weekends of states. Winning quit a few of them. Lets start with the big boy of the group Black Kyurem Ex. This guy just scares everyone. Hitting for 200 damage a turn is just too powerful, after you set up the Blastoise of course. All you have to do is stream Black Kyurem’s and 3 Ex knockouts later, the game is over. This is why Blastoise has done so well. Especially since Professor Letter was introduced, literally replacing energy search, and making it much better. You can search your deck for 2 basic energy and put them into your hand! In Blastoise this card is too good not to play a few copies of.

Then you have your other back up attacker, Keldeo Ex. Even though Black Kyurem Ex does the most work, you still need this guy to function properly. For instance, things that can do special conditions, you can then Rush In and retreat out out it! Very helpful against things like Hypnotoxic Laser, and Accelgor’s Deck and Cover attack. Another great attacker most people play is the baby Black Kyurem (non-ex). Great against mirror, against Safe Guarders and also great against Rayboar decks to keep the prize trade in your favor. Since both deck’s main attackers are weak to dragon!

Here's a buddy of mines list. He took 1st at Kansas states with it. Shout out to Brit Pybas for sharing his list with us.

As you can see, it doesn't look like a standard Blastoise list. This is more teched out and unique, to fit the needs of his meta, and what he wants the deck to accomplish. Something to notice on is that it does not play Electrode, although the Jirachi Ex should stand on it's own when you need an out. Especially since your already playing Ultra and Level Ball. Suicune is another unique addition to the deck. Sometimes you may not be able to get Blastoise out as fast as you want, so hiding behind a wall like Suicune can be the way to go. Even if its just for 1 turn, that 1 turn can make all the difference. You may also notice the heavy Professor Letter count, which is awesome.

Since your already playing Sklya, being able to search out 2 energy per letter is great! In these types of decks you want to get energy into your discard asap, or just throw them onto your Pokemon thanks to Blastoise!. So that your Superior Energy Retrievals can be useful right away. Brit added a 1 of tech Max Potion, which can be clutch at times. Especially if you think 2 of your guys can be KOed at the same time. Whether it be from a Darkrai snipe or basically anything that can do some snipe damage. Thanks Brit for sharing your list with us.

 5. Emboar/Delphox/Rayquaza EX

Lastly, we have Rayboar. Although this deck didn’t perform quit as well as Blastoise did, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great play! Its very similar to Blastoise actually. Only this time you have Emboar for fire energy acceleration, while Blastoise accelerates water energy. Although similar, both have different main attackers. In Blastoise you have Black Kyurem Ex maxing out at 200 damage, and then in Rayboar you have Rayquaza Ex, who has the potential to do as much damage as you want, with the correct amount of energy. The biggest difference is that Rayquaza Ex can do more (or even less, while saving energy) damage if need be. Most of the time though, hitting for 180 is more than enough.

A great consistent draw power card that was introduced in the XY set that goes well in this deck is Delphox. This guy is just too good in Emboar decks. The fact that you can draw up to 6 cards every turn is ridiculous. It nets you 2 more cards than Electrode, who was already considered very good! Delphox’s draw makes your N’s so much more powerful mid to late game. He can also be used as a back up attacker, against things like Sigilyph and Suicune. Both who have the Safe Guard abilities. He also gives Virizion/Genesect decks a good scare. Just like how Blastoise runs Baby Black Kyurem, you can run Baby Rayquaza (non-ex) in Rayboar. For the same reason, it is good in the mirror, and against Safe Guarders. Seeing as its a non Ex it can make your opponent play the 7 prize game. Just like in Blastoise, Professor Letter is great in Emboar decks as well! Makes it much easier and faster to get your attackers ready.

My good friend Kyle Sabelhaus was kind enough to share his 1st place North Carolina States Rayboar list with us.

As you can see this list is pretty standard, although something that may catch your eye is the 2 Pokemon Catcher. Now we know catchers are great in Blastoise, so they must be just as good in Rayboar! His 1st place finish at a state championship proves that catchers deserve a spot in Rayboar decks. Another thing I want to touch on is the 1 Reshiram. Now from what I know most people have dropped him from their list with the release of Delphox, which does make sense, but having a waller like Reshiram to sit and take damage while you set up is still nice.

Kyle probably wanted that option again, so he went with a 1 of. Another great reason Reshiram was added back into the list is probably the fact that Virizion/Genesect decks have seemed to rise again. Whether it be with Drifblims or Raichus, it is still a Virizion/Genesect deck. The 1 Reshiram can do wonders against grass guys. A non Ex koing Ex’s is always nice, and in which case makes the prize trade well worth it.

Something more important you may have noticed is the fact that Kyle went against playing Tool Scrapper. He probably read his meta and figured Garbodor decks were slim to none. In which he made the right call. Now it's different in all metas so you may want to think carefully on if you should do the same. Thanks Kyle for sharing your list with us.

 Well that's it for now. I hope this helps you out at Spring Regionals. And I hope you enjoyed it and learned something out of it. Keep a look out for more articles to come!

Jose Marrero

[+3] okko


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