Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

Looking Ahead to Nationals - 3 Strong Plays

Jose goes over three decks for upcoming Nationals that he thinks are strong plays.

06/04/2016 by Jose Marrero


What's going on, 60cards readers! Now that Regionals are done and accounted for I feel like it's that time of the year to look ahead towards Nationals, namely U.S. and Canada. We saw Alex Wilson pilot his M Rayquaza deck all the way to the finals to take Massachusetts over Night March which was interesting to watch. There was a crucial Ghetsis play by Alex, which ultimately gave him a shot at the title. Then of course we saw Connor Finton win his third big event of the season with winning two States and now a Regionals in Kansas last weekend. Similar to that of Christian Ortiz, both these players have had a tremendous year. I wouldn't be surprised if they both have a decent Nationals run with both having two byes. At the same time, we also saw Gregory Fortier pilot Vespiquen/Flareon to take Edmonton over TJ Traquair's Wailord deck. No surprise, given the fact that Vespiquen easily one-hit KO's Wailord. Then finally, Mark Garcia took Utah Regionals over Jeremy Jallen's Primal Groudon deck. Congrats to those winners and players that performed well.

Still Pokémon teases us with no info on Nationals stipends, but I've heard word from numerous people that they should be giving them out this year from reliable sources which makes me very excited since I'm in the top 32 just barely under top 16. Hopefully Pokémon put's out the Nationals info soon so people can start planning for Nationals and know exactly where they are sitting at stipend wise assuming they give them out.

In my last article, I talked about three plays for Week 3 of Spring Regionals, but now for this next article I want to go straight ahead and start looking at plays for upcoming Nationals. I'll be going over three decks that are my personal top three plays going into Nationals. For each deck that I discuss, I'll go over an analysis and give more card options to let you decide on how you want to run the decks. Two of the decks are actually new decks from Fates Collide while the third deck is no surprise.

With that said, let's go over one of the newer decks from Fates Collide that I feel has a strong place in the format come Nationals.


This deck is interesting to say the least. It focuses on locking the opponent with either Jolteon-EX if they are playing Basic Pokémon or Glaceon-EX if they are playing Evolution Pokémon. Whichever they are playing, you adjust your strategy accordingly. For example, against Night March you simply try and get Jolteon-EX going as soon as possible and if you know they aren't playing Gallade then you then try and AZ up your bench and leave your field with a lone Jolteon-EX to sweep. However, you still have to watch out for Target Whistle or Escape Rope plays assuming you have a bench. If they play Gallade then your best bet is to get a Mew attacking and using Jolteon-EX's attack with a Fighting Fury Belt. This way Mew one hit KO's Gallade and at the same time Mew is protected by Jolteon-EX's attack, Flash Ray making it harder to KO the Mew. And with Glaceon you basically do the same thing against Evolution decks such as, Vespiquen, Greninja or Trevenant. Against Greninja it can be tough because they can still use their Water Shuriken abilities to slowly take down Glaceon, however with Rough Seas Glaceon can survive even longer. But if that's the case so will Greninja. Against Trevenant Rough Seas are where they can make or break the game because Trevenant can still force Bursting Balloon trades as well as Silent Fear because its damage counters and not damage from an attack like Tree Slam does. Let's go over the deck as a whole now that you know the general concept of the deck.

There are two Jolteon-EX and Glaceon-EX as well as Mew since those are the main attackers outside of Regice. The one of Regice is interesting because it can help lock up Pokémon-EX, namely Megas, but so does Glaceon-EX, except that Glaceon is a Pokémon-EX and still can take effects from attacks while Regice blocks effects and damage. Still I think Regice can come in clutch when it's needed most. Then of course a couple Shaymin-EX to help with consistency issues. Moving out of the Pokémon we have a handful of supporters. Four Professor Sycamore for max consistency. Then two N to also boost even more consistency while at the same time give you the option to refresh your opponent's hand to a lesser number. Two Lysandre which are essentially for the Trevenant matchup but at the same time so that Jolteon-EX can pick off easy prizes on Shaymin-EX's. Two AZ because since the decks main strategy is to lock with either Jolteon-EX or Glaceon-EX means you have to not have a bench so that the opponent can't Escape Rope and Lysandre around them. I can see dropping down to one AZ if you really need space for something else. Then there's one Hex Maniac which if you think Greninja will see a sizable play then maybe upping it to two is the way to go. The one Skyla I like because it basically can help search out anything.

Moving out of the Supporters we now get into the more staple Trainers such as VS Seeker, Ultra Balls which there are four of each for again consistency. There is also four Trainer's Mail which is great for boosting consistency. Four Max Elixir to fuel the decks attackers so that they can attack on a single turn. Two Battle Compressor to help put Supporters in the discard easier to make VS Seekers useful. If you do decide to run Smeargle then you can discard the Energy of choice that you need transformed at the time. Two Fighting Fury Belt to make sure Mew has the option to one hit KO Gallade's. Two Float Stones just in case for Glaceon-EX or Regice given they both have two or more retreat costs. Super Rod helps get back Basic Energy or any Pokémon that were discarded or KO’d. Right now there is three Rough Seas, but I can see adding in a fourth if you think Trevenant will be prevalent. Finally, for the Energy there is five Lightning because I feel there will be more Basic heavy decks which is why there's four Water Energy. Then obviously four Double Colorless.

Other card options

Smeargle BKT:

This card helps replace your Basic Energy with a different one more easily. For example you open with a Water Energy, but only have Jolteon-EX you can simply attach it to Jolteon-EX and then later on you can Smeargle a Lightning Energy onto it essentially making it like you attached a Lightning Energy early on. 


I talked about this deck in my last article except that was for the Expanded format. Now I want to talk about how the deck looks like going into Standard because I still feel it has a chance to perform well come Nationals. This deck has a lot going for it. The main strategy is to build up enough Bronzong to help fuel your attackers with Metal Links. Zoroark is in here to help Stand In and out of attackers so you can freely fuel them back up if need be. Let's start with the Pokémon. We have a hefty line of Bronzong with a 4-3-1-1 line. The two one of being both Bronzong and Bronzong BREAK from Fates Collide. The non-BREAK is strictly for the Trevenant matchup, but can also be good against the Fright Night Yveltal. Because Trevenant's Silent Fear targets the bench means Bronzong FCO can negate all that damage making the Trevenant player only able to hit the active Pokémon. Bronzong BREAK however, is an overall decent attacker that can act as a mini Lysandre since its attack Metal Rain can snipe the bench for a number of damage depending on how many Metal Energy Bronzong BREAK has attached to it. The fact that Metal Rain can target the same Pokémon more than once makes it that much better. As one of the decks secondary attackers we have a 2-2 line of Zoroark to also help against the Trevenant matchup. Zoroark is too good not to play in this deck. Its ability Stand In and attack Mind Jack are essential threats to making this deck successful.

Three Shaymin-EX because since the deck runs Sky Field means you can get away with filling your bench with a handful of Shaymin-EX's while at the same time making sure you don't dead draw. You can just discard them if Sky Field gets bumped, but I can see dropping down to two Shaymin-EX to make room for something else. The decks main attacker is Genesect-EX from Fates Collide. It has an attack called, Rapid Blaster that has a base of 100 damage and adds 20 more damage for each Metal Energy you discard off of it. So if you think about it Genesect-EX can potentially one shot anything with the right amount of Energy. It's ability, Drive Chance isn't too bad also since if you open with Genesect-EX and you have a Professor Sycamore and a Float Stone, but no other Pokémon you can simply attach the Float Stone to Genesect-EX and then just pick it back up for Zoroark or Bronzong if need be essentially saving the Float Stone from getting discarded while at the same time giving Genesect-EX the option to attach a Fighting Fury Belt after. Or if you know Genesect-EX is getting two-shotted even with Fighting Fury Belt you can save it for another Pokémon assuming you don't need that extra 10 damage at the time. Genesect-EX having 180 HP and then 220 with Fighting Fury Belt makes it a force to be reckoned with. As a backup attacker there is also a one of Aegislash-EX just to help with stalling against Special Energy reliant decks to give us time to set up. But at the same time potentially giving you a free win against Vespiquen/Vileplume decks.

Then for the last of the Pokémon there's two Heatran which are overall great non EX attackers that can do lethal damage. If the opponent ignores them then they can put in some serious work. They can one hit KO an opposing Glaceon-EX with ease if needed to. With a Fighting Fury Belt it pushes their HP to 170 and since they are non EX's makes them even scarier. Moving out of the Pokémon and into the Supporters we have four Professor Sycamore which needs no discussing. Then a bunch of one of Supporters such as N, Lysandre, Skyla, Hex Maniac, and AZ all of which have their reasoning's. The N of course makes sure you have the option to manipulate your opponent's hand size should it get too big. Lysandre so you have the option to take a KO on something on the bench that otherwise can be troublesome. Skyla to be able to search out Sky Field or whatever is needed at the time. Hex Maniac to shutoff abilities such as, Water Shuriken. Then one AZ to save a Shaymin-EX from getting KO’d or to heal off a damaged Pokémon since Metal Links can reattach the Metal Energy anyway. Now onto the Items. Four VS Seekers and Ultra Balls for obvious reasons. Two Level Balls because they can help fetch out Zorua, Bronzor and Bronzong, but not the Fates Collides ones.

Fighting Fury Belts are great as I said for the boosted HP and the extra 10 HP can make a difference given that Genesect-EX has a base of 100 damage meaning if it discards three Metal Energy then it's doing 160 damage so adding the Fighting Fury Belt can hit the magic 170 number and can one hit KO Shaymin-EX's without having to discard any Energy. The two Float Stones are so that Zoroark can free retreat out after it uses Stand In. A couple Battle Compressors so that you can put Metal Energy and Supporters in the discard easier to make Metal Links and VS Seekers more effective. I went with Super Rod over Sacred Ash just because you just never know when you may need to put back Basic Energy even though the deck has tons of Pokémon which can potentially just make Sacred Ash better. It's honestly a personal opinion. Three Sky Field I feel is a perfect number since it's not too little or too many. You need them since the deck relies on having a big bench most times. You can just discard the unnecessary Pokémon if need be. Sometimes you may be forced to discard non Shaymin-EX Pokémon which if so you have to watch out for and not bench too many things that you don't want to have to discard should Sky Field get replaced. I feel like even Metal and three Double Colorless Energy are plenty enough. The Double Colorless Energy help fuel Heatran easier as well as Aegislash-EX if you want to attack with it by turn two assuming it's in the Active spot.

Other card options


Because this deck runs a handful of Pokémon-EX as well as Sky Field as the Stadium of choice, running a copy of Hoopa-EX can come in handy since it can search out Shaymin-EX for draw power and Genesect-EX or Aegislash-EX.


This card with the combination of Fighting Fury Belt can help against one of the deck's toughest matchups, Night March. From personal experience, a Fighting Fury Belted Seismitoad-EX can go a long way against Night March. It's also searchable with Hoopa-EX if you chose to run both.


Lastly, we now get into the deck that I'm strongly considering as my top choice going into Nationals next month and that is Night March. I don't normally play Night March however, I feel that Night March one of the strongest plays come Nationals as it's been dominant in Standard for a while now and I don't see that changing anytime soon. The main focus of the deck is to get enough Night Marchers in your discard pile so that you can use either Joltik or Pumpkaboo to do some lethal damage. I've added a one of Mew with the help of Fates Collide because it has free retreat which is a great starter and it can copy the attackers of your Basic Pokémon essentially making Mew another Night Marcher in a sense. I went with three Shaymin-EX as opposed to four because I feel like three is plenty enough. I've also added a one of Gallade strictly for Jolteon-EX but at the same time can come in clutch against Manectric-EX decks should you get it out. Night Marches Pokémon line is one of the easiest to get right. It's basically a no brainer aside from the small techs like Gallade and Mew as I mentioned. Right now there is three Professor Sycamore because I don't think the deck needs four due to Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick.

Running too many Supporters can essentially cripple this strategy. However, I am running a good amount of Supporters anyway because they are all needed. Lysandre and Professor Sycamore are the only two non-one-of Supporters. I went with two Lysandre because they are extremely needed against the Trevenant matchup. However, I only kept it at one Hex Maniac, but I can see adding in a second one because they help against Greninja as well as Trevenant. I think one N is enough because most times you are probably going to want to play a different Supporter anyway until it gets to late-game where N then shines. AZ helps save Shaymin-EX as I said from getting KO’d and potentially losing you the game especially in the Night March mirror match where it's crucial to not bench Shaymin-EX unless you completely have to. Teammates I wasn't too big of a fan of, but now I think it's just too good in Night March not to play. Being able to VS Seeker every turn for Teammates just seemed too good to pass up. Then of course Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick since it's the only way to get Gallade out. That's it for the Supporters. Now onto the Items which are all basically staples in every Night March list. You have the standard four of VS Seeker, Ultra Ball, Trainers' Mail, Battle Compressor, and Puzzle of Time all of which are the reasons why Night March is so consistent and fast.

Trainers Mails help search for Battle Compressors who then search out Night Marchers and supporters for VS Seeker plays. Puzzle of Time plus Battle Compressor combo is ridiculously strong. Especially if you open with that combo. Two Fighting Fury Belt to make sure Joltik doesn't get KOed by opposing Shaymin-EX's. Or Baby Yveltal being able to freely KO a Joltik or Pumpkaboo. One Float Stone and Escape Rope to insure the deck has ways to get Shaymin-EX or Gallade out of the active spot if necessary. Escape Rope is also great for trying to setup plays around Jolteon-EX making it so that you can Lysandre it on the same turn and take it out. One Startling Megaphone helps against opposing Fighting Fury Belts making it easier to one hit KO things. It's also helpful against decks that play Bursting Balloon and Focus Sash. Even against Trevenant you can Hex Maniac and then Startling Megaphone off their Bursting Balloon. One Town Map helps manipulate your prizes and is overall a dumpable card for Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick when found. Three Dimension Valley is good enough because a lot of the times you are attacking with Joltik anyway. You can always Puzzle of Time them back if needed to. You can see even with Mew being in the deck there aren't any Basic Energies because quite frankly they aren't needed to make Mew effective.

Other card options

Marowak FCO:

This card obviously helps against Seismitoad-EX and Giratina-EX decks. However, I'm not sure on how many of those decks people will actually play come Nationals because of the fear of Marowak. I feel like there will be a lot more Jolteon-EX, making Gallade just an overall better option.

Barbaracle FCO/Archie's Ace in the Hole:

This combo can replace Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick and Gallade. Barbaracle can prevent your opponent from attaching Special Energy from their hand if you have a Stadium in play. Can be great in the mirror match or basically any Special Energy-dependent deck.

Jirachi XY67:

This card can help against Seismitoad-EX decks or even Giratina-EX decks. However, because the deck does not run Basic Energy, a Giratina-EX can still lock you out of Energy.


If you fear Giratina-EX, then adding a Xerosic will surely help. You just keep getting back VS Seekers for Xerosic with Puzzle of Time and eventually hope to drain them of Double Dragon Energy.

Enhanced Hammer:

You can run both Xerosic and Enhanced Hammer to basically give you a huge advantage against Giratina-EX. Having the option to remove both of their Energy at once can be a game-changer.

Target Whistle:

This card can help take more KOs on Shaymin-EX, but I just feel like it's not neccesary since Night March decks can potentially just one-shot most things anyway.

Acro Bike:

Overall a great card to boost consistency and help get Night Marchers in the discard. However, sometimes you may be forced to discard important cards should both cards be viable, such as a VS Seeker and Double Colorless Energy.

My top 5 cards from Fates Collide

1. Mew

As you can see, I talked about this card in two of the three decks I discussed today. The fact that Mew can copy the attacks from both of these Pokémon-EX as well as Night Marchers easily puts Mew on my top list. Mew also has free Retreat which is too good to pass up. I can even see adding in another Mew in Night March just because Mew is that good. However, there are things that can stop Mew's Ability such as Silent Lab and Hex Maniac. You need to play around those things.

2. Genesect-EX

Immediately when I saw the Japanese leaks for Genesect-EX, I knew for a fact I would make a Bronzong deck that revolves around Genesect-EX being the main attacker. Because its attack Rapid Buster has to discard Energy to do extra damage, Pokémon such as Yveltal-EX can't take advantage of all the Energy on Genesect-EX.

3. Glaceon-EX

Similar to Jolteon-EX, except Glaceon-EX blocks damage from Evolution Pokémon instead of Basic Pokémon, which is why I made a deck revolving around both of them. 

4. Bronzong BREAK

Again, I made a deck playing this card as well, except as a one-of. You can add a second one in the Metal deck, but one is probably enough because you don't want to open with Bronzong BREAK. Metal Rain is such a strong attack against Evolution decks and decks that have low HP attackers such as Night March and Vespiquen.

5. Zygarde-EX

This card is very strong when combined with cards such as Fighting Stadium, Muscle Band or Fighting Fury Belt, Strong Energy, and Regirock-EX. Zygarde-EX can potentially do a max of 140 to a Pokémon-EX on the first turn should you have a Muscle Band and four Regirock-EX on the Bench with Fighting Stadium in play. There are so many different numbers you can hit with all these damage-boosting, cards making Zygarde-EX a huge threat early on.

Closing Thoughts

That's all I have for you guys at the moment. I'll have two more articles this month, so don't fret. They should be more talks about Nationals since that's the next big event anyway. Test these lists out and see what changes you want to make. I feel like these decks are very strong going into Nationals which is why I chose to discuss them. Each list I talked about is my personal list like most articles. I hope this article made you more comfortable going into Nationals, whether it's how to make once of these decks viable or simply how to counter them. If you have any Nationals coming up outside of the U.S. or Canada, then good luck and I hope you perform well, whether you chose to play one of these lists or not. With Nationals being the biggest event of the year, it's always a blast hanging with friends you only get to see one a year. Take the time to appreciate it even if you perform badly. Just have fun and make the most out of it. After all, it's a once a year thing that always is exciting to be at. I think right now if Nationals were tomorrow I would go with Night March because it's fast, consistent, and can get games done before tying.

With that said, if you have any questions about these lists or decks then please feel free to leave me a comment down below or message me on Facebook and I'll be sure to get to them as soon as possible. As usual, if you enjoyed reading this article, then please consider giving it a thumbs up. If you want to see a specific type of article or topic next time, then don't hesitate to give me ideas down below and I'll consider them. Or if you have any other deck ideas and want to see an analysis on it, then by all means post it and I'll take a look. As always, keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time!


[+7] okko


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