Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

Looking Ahead to Nationals Part 2 - 2 More Strong Plays

Jose goes over 2 more strong plays for Nationals this weekend and also goes over what happened at Canadian Nationals.

06/30/2016 by Jose Marrero


What's going on again, 60cards readers! With US Nationals this weekend, I wanted to dedicate this next article to what happened at Canadian Nationals and also go over two more decks that are strong plays for US Nationals. I'll also be doing an analysis of each deck I go over, as well as giving some more card options for each deck to give you an idea on what other cards you can add to make it to your own liking. One of the decks I'll be discussing didn't make Top 8 at Canadian Nationals, however it did pretty well at the Origins Win-a-Trip-to-Worlds event, taking three of the Top 8 spots. The other deck did indeed make Top 8 at Canadian Nationals so I'll be going over it as well. In my last article, it was all on the US Nationals Fantasy Draft I did with a couple other 60cards writers, however I added in seven different decks from each person that participated in it. If you want to check that article out then feel fee to click this link to take you there.

I can't wait for US Nationals this weekend. The biggest event of the year is always worthwhile for many reasons. Getting to see friends you only get to see once a year is a thing I always look forward to come Nationals. Just hanging out with friends and having a good time is what Nationals is all about even if you don't do well. At least you can cheer your friends on. Something I love doing when there's time is playing non-Pokémon related games such as Love Letter, The Resistance, and even Exploding Kittens, which I will have time to do because this year I actually have a Round 1 bye. Even with all that free time in Round 1, though, I still prefer walking around to see what the field is playing and to watch friends play their games. 

With that said, let's move onto the article.

What happened at Canadian Nationals

Top 8 

1. Jacob Lesage - Vespiquen/Vileplume/Jolteon-EX (Top 8)

2. James McInnes - M Manectric-EX/Trevenant-EX/Giratina-EX/Jolteon-EX (Top 8)

3. Ciaran Farah - Genesect-EX/Bronzong BREAK/ Max Elixir (Runner Up)

4. Mathew Koo - Genesect-EX/Bronzong BREAK (Top 4)

5. Erik Vander Schaaf -Zygarde-EX/Carbink BREAK/Hawlucha (Top 8)

6. Elan Simon - Vespiquen/Zebstrika (Top 8)

7. Edward Kuong - Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade (Top 4)

8. Simon Loung - M Rayquaza-EX (Winner)

Canadian Nationals just concluded and now players are going to look towards US Nationals this weekend so let's talk about what made Top 8 at Canadian Nationals last weekend to see if it may impact US Nationals or not. We can see from the standings that there was quite a variety of different decks, which is what I like to see in a format instead of the same deck winning every time. Two of the Top 8 spots were taken up by different variants of Vespiquen and two other spots taken by two different variants of Genesect-EX/Bronzong BREAK. Jacob Lesage decided to add Vileplume and Jolteon-EX to his Vespiquen build. This deck was first created by Andrew Wamboldt, however Jacob decided to make his more unique by adding in Jolteon-EX like in Alex Hill's list. A couple reasons for Jolteon-EX's inclusion can be to lock Night March and the most recent hyped deck Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX/Garbodor which makes sense if you really think about it. Jolteon-EX as a secondary attacker is great because not only does it have free Retreat but it only needs two Energy attachments to attack and start the lock train and with your opponent being under the Item-lock, it's no surprise Jacob was able to snag first seed given that Vespiquen runs through decks such as the new Water Box. As we can see Jacob was taken out by Simon Loung who piloted M Rayquaza-EX all the way to the finals and became the 2016 Canadian National Champion. Let's see why Simon was able to take out Jacob.

Well first things first, Jolteon-EX does not affect M Rayquaza-EX so that strategy is out of the window. Secondly, Vespiquen most likely won't ever one-hit KO M Rayquaza-EX assuming it's paired up with Vileplume. Of course, a turn-one Vileplume can hurt the M Rayquaza-EX player, however M Rayquaza-EX can just sit back and play patiently and wait till they have a couple M Rayquaza-EX's going. I know Simon ran a Bunnelby so maybe that came in handy at some point. But on paper I believe M Rayquaza-EX is favored in that matchup even if you don't run Aegislash-EX which Simon did not run. Moving on we have James McInnes who was taken down in Top 8 like Jacob, only time James was taken out by an Yveltal deck with Zoroark and Gallade piloted by Edward Kuong, the 2014 Canadian National Champion. James was playing a mess of Pokemon-EX including M Manectric, Trevenant, Giratina, and even Jolteon. I can see how Edward was able to take this series. It was probably due to Gallade. I'm almost positive Gallade was the MVP. Gallade can one-hit KO M Manectric-EX and Jolteon-EX. However James did run other attackers as I said. Trevenant-EX and Giratina-EX can do big damage against Gallade, but Edward's Zoroark and Yveltals don't need special energy so Giratina-EX probably wasn't all that useful and Trevenant's damage out put relys on how many Grass Energy it has and if you can't accelerate with M Manectric-EX then your decks damage out put is low which is why Edward was able to take the series.

Edward moving onto the Top 4 had him now facing Ciaran Farah piloting Metal with Genesect-EX and Bronzong BREAK as well as Aegislash-EX. Ciaran was able to best Edward and move on to the finals. I can see why Metal was able to take it over Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade. The damage output Metal has compared to Yveltal with Zoroark and Gallade is a huge difference. Not only that, but the fact that Genesect-EX's attack makes it so you can discard it's Energy means that an Yveltal-EX is doing a lot less damage and baby Yveltal would just be tickling Genesect-EX at that point. That only leaves Zoroark and Gallade, which can indeed do some big damage, however Genesect-EX doesn't have to discard Energy to one hit KO Zoroark which is huge and Gallade can't one hit KO Genesect-EX. A Fighting Fury Belted Genesect-EX on top of Aegislash-EX as a backup attacker is too much for Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade to handle so Ciaran moved on and Edward didn't.

Ciaran's Top 8 opponent was Elan Simon who was the other Vespiquen player in Top 8. However, Elan's build didn't run Jolteon-EX, but instead ran Zebstrika, which if you think about it pairs well with Vespiquen. Both need a single Double Colorless to attack and Zebstrika can one hit KO a Trevenant non BREAK as well as Yveltal's and Rayquaza's. One of the biggest reasons Elan probably ran Zebstrika was that it's a counter to Glaceon-EX given that Glaceon-EX single handily beats Vespiquen decks and with Zebstrika's ability, Zap Zone it's the perfect answer to it while at the same time still being useful against the decks I mentioned.

Unfortunately Elan's run was stopped by Ciaran mainly due to Aegislash-EX probably since Vespiquen/Zebstrika probably only runs Double Colorless Energy and Genesect-EX can one-shot both Vespiquen and Zebstrika without having to discard Energy. On paper Ciaran most likely got a free win there because again, Aegislash-EX is a great wall and attacker in that matchup. Another Metal deck made it to the Top 4 only this time it was 60cards' own Matthew Koo. Matthew actually didn't run Max Elixirs like Ciaran did. I know Matthew's build ran a Jirachi XY67 unlike Ciaran's. Matthew's Top 8 opponent was Erik Vander Schaaf piloting Zygarde-EX with Carbink BREAK and Hawlucha. I actually watched this matchup on stream and Game 1 was fairly close with Erik on top most of the game. However, Matthew made a nice comeback making a huge play where he Sky Returned Erik's Focus Sashed Regirock to break the Focus Sash. The following turn all Erik needed was a Lysandre to potentially take the game but he did not have it so Matthew was able to make a clutch comeback. The second game Erik had nothing going for him while Matthew had just about everything he wanted with a fully powered field taking the series 2-0. Matthew was now facing up against the eventual winner as I said, Simon Luong playing M Rayquaza-EX in Top 4. This matchup hands down is heavily favored for M Rayquaza-EX because M Rayquaza-EX can one hit every Pokémon in the Metal deck including Aegislash-EX. Once the M Rayquaza-EX player finds Hex Maniac and KO's Aegislash-EX then it's basically smooth sailing from there because now the Metal player has to answer a 220 HP beast of a Pokémon that's threatening one shot's and you can't even Metal Links because you were Hexed last turn.

Simon now moves on to the finals and yet again faces another Metal deck only this time with Max Elixirs. I also saw these games on stream and Simon should have easily 2-0ed Ciaran, but in Game 2 Simon left Bunnelby who has two retreat active and so Ciaran noticed this and took advantage of his Bronzong BREAK and sniped around it for his last four prizes. Game 3 actually was really close and it came down to the last turn. Simon had to use all his Puzzle of Times by turn two and had to discard three VS Seekers leaving him with just one left. From what I saw I thought Simon was done for until he Set Up for three and hit the Hex Maniac at the perfect time to KO Aegislash-EX and making sure Ciaran couldn't Metal Links the following turn. This gave Simon a window to come back. With both players sitting at two prizes each and Ciaran holding the game winning VS Seeker, Simon Ultra Ball's to make sure he does in fact have his last Spirit Link in the deck as he draws the last three cards of the deck with Shaymin-EX to take a very close Game 3 and the sole title of National Champion.


As I said this deck did fairly well at Origins which took up three of the eight spots in Top 8. Another variant without Garbodor also made Top 8 and ultimately ended up winning the event by 60cards own, Jimmy McClure. The variant I'm going over also has Garbodor because that's what most people are hyping. Let's go over the Pokémon counts as a whole starting with the main attackers, Darkrai-EX and Giratina-EX. We all know the power of Trevenant decks and what better way to try and counter them with weakness based attackers and Darkrai-EX is a perfect example. Darkrai-EX's first attack, Dark Pulse has a base of 20 damage so right off the bat it's doing at least 40 damage to Trevenant and for each Dark Energy on your field Dark Pulse gets an extra 20 damage added to it and because Dark Pulse needs just two Colorless Energy to attack means all you need on your field to one hit KO a Trevenant is two Dark Energy or three if your trying to one shot Trevenant BREAK. So Darkrai-EX is a great attacker versus Trevenant decks as you can see. Not only that, but Double Dragon Energy count as two Dark Energy boosting Dark Pulse's damage output even more. Darkrai-EX's second attack, Dark Head has a base of 80 damage, however because the deck has no way of Sleeping the opponent means Dark Head will always be doing 80 damage unless you add Tool modifiers like Muscle Band or Fighting Fury Belt. Meaning your almost always just using Dark Pulse instead.

Now let's move onto Giratina-EX who's obviously in the deck to counter Night March. This deck has the potential to get a turn one Giratina-EX attacking which means Night March pretty much folds at that point. Chaos Wheel is a very strong attack versus most decks especially ones that rely heavily on Special Energy such as, Night March or Vespiquen as I said. Moving out of the main attackers we also have a one of Latios-EX as a backup attacker and is mainly in the deck to try and steal games on the first turn with Fast Raid. With a Muscle Band, Fast Raid can basically one hit KO any little HP Pokémon such as, Bronzor, Pumpkaboo, Joltik, Zorua, and many more and only for a single Double Dragon Energy. I've always been a fan of Latios-EX especially in Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX so if I were to play Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX/Garbodor I would definitely play Latios-EX without question. You just never know when a free win will present itself. Of course you can't forget to play a couple Shaymin-EX to make sure your deck just doesn't fold to dead draws. They also help to break Focus Sashes. To help search out all these EX Pokémon I've added a one of Hoopa-EX because if you’re going for the turn one Latios-EX donk then Hoopa-EX can get you there easier. Being able to search out both a Latios-EX and Shaymin-EX as well as a Darkrai-EX in case you whiff is too good to pass up. I can even see adding in a third Shaymin-EX for more consistent turn one donks. As a non-EX attacker there is also a one of Yveltal because even though they are great against Night March you have Giratina-EX for that. Yveltal is just basically to sit behind a non-EX and start putting more energy on the field.

Then there's a 2-2 line of Garbodor which is basically what the main hype came from. People knew about Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX, however not with Garbodor being added into the mix and if you think about it makes total sense. Garbodor shuts off Greninja and Trevenant decks abilities even though Trevenant should be a good matchup anyway. Mainly shutting off Water Shurikens is huge because Greninja has a good matchup against the deck otherwise. Overall Garbodor just shuts off everything making it more useful than you may think. That's it for the Pokémon now let's move onto the Supporters. Four Professor Sycamore which is pretty standard in the type of deck. Two N as well because with N being reprinted it's a much better option than Judge. Two Lysandre as well because since the deck doesn't need much energy to do big damage means back to back Lysandre's can take quick prizes. One AZ because you just never know when an AZ is needed. Whether it's to save a Pokémon from being KO’d or simply to reuse a Shaymin-EX to draw even more. Moving out of the Supporters we have a pretty standard line of four VS Seekers, Ultra Balls, Trainers' Mails, and Max Elixirs as far as this deck goes that is. VS Seekers help with reusing your Supporters more while Ultra Ball helps search out whatever Pokémon you want. Trainers' Mails help keep the deck consistent and Max Elixirs help get turn one attacks off given that Dark Patch is rotated out. As I said a turn one Chaos Wheel is too much for most decks to handle. For the Tools of choice there is Muscle Band, Fighting Fury Belt, and Float Stone which there are two of each.

Muscle Bands as I said are pretty much for Latios-EX in case the Pokémon you are wanting to donk has 60 HP instead of 50 or less since Fighting Fury Belt only adds 10 damage. A Fighting Fury Belted Darkrai-EX goes up to 220 HP and Giratina-EX goes up to 210 HP which won't be easy to take down. The Float Stones are mainly for Garbodor to make sure they have free retreat. Make sure if you put a different Tool on Garbodor other than Float Stone that it's worth it or else a Lysandre can be the death of you. Which brings me to Escape Rope. You will have to use this Escape Rope at the perfect time since there's just one and the deck doesn't run Puzzle of Time. A clutch Escape Rope can win games especially if the opponent doesn't see it coming. There is also a Super Rod in case you need to get back Pokémon or Basic Energy. And lastly the Stadium of choice is two Parallel City. With Giratina-EX and Parallel City out you can limit your opponent's bench size to just three which is extremely powerful against M Rayquaza-EX decks. Or you can even Parallel City yourself to get Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX off your bench. The energy count is eight Dark and four Double Colorless. If your running Max Elixirs then you need a good amount of Basic Energy and I felt that eight was good enough, but I can see maybe adding in a ninth Dark Energy.

Other card options


This Pokémon is a nice backup attacker especially against opposing Giratina-EX since Yveltal-EX doesn't need special energy to attack and with Max Elixirs you can get a big Yveltal-EX attacking out of nowhere.


Because the deck folds to Jolteon-EX having Hydreigon-EX as a backup attacker can go through Jolteon-EX's Flash Ray effect which is something to keep in mind when building this deck.

Yveltal BKT:

Even though Garbodor shuts off Yveltal’s ability still having the option to snipe the bench can come in handy.

Druddigon FLF:

This Pokémon can revenge KO Pokémon such as, Vespiquen for a single Double Colorless Energy and the fact that Druddigon is a non EX makes it slightly better. Druddigon is also splashable since its attack, Revenge takes two Colorless Energy requirements.


Great for the mirror to discard opposing Double Dragon Energy. Also good for discarding Tools such as, Focus Sash since we may see more Fighting decks after it Top 8ing Canadian Nationals.

Startling Megaphone:

Again just getting rid of Tools can make a difference. Metal plays both Float Stone and Fighting Fury Belts so a clutch Startling Megaphone can be huge.

Battle Compressor:

Running this card helps with consistency and can help find Lysandre and AZ easier as well as N.


This list took second place at Italian Nationals and I'm using it in this article because it's a good starting point if you’re trying to build it. The changes Ciaran made from his second place Metal list from Canadian Nationals from the list above was that he dropped one Shaymin-EX, one AZ, Assault Vest, and both Sky Fields for three Trainers' Mail, a fourth Max Elixir and one Muscle Band. As I mentioned earlier this deck did make it to Top 4 of Canadian Nationals as well by Matthew Koo. The core strategy of this deck is to get Bronzong's out so you can abuse their Metal Links ability in which lets you attach a Metal Energy from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon. Then you have attackers such as, Genesect-EX and Aegislash-EX which both do extra damage for each Metal Energy attached to them. Let's take a closer look at the Pokémon counts starting with the main attackers as I mentioned, Genesect-EX and Aegislash-EX. Basically Genesect-EX is the main attacker actually because there is just one Aegislash-EX, however Aegislash-EX being more of a backup attacker is still well worth it. Genesect-EX's attack, Rapid Blaster has a base of 100 damage so right off the bat Genesect-EX is doing a decent amount of damage which also adds 20 more damage for each Metal Energy you discard off it. The attack cost is three Metal Energy meaning that it's doing a solid 160 damage for just three Energy and if you add in Fighting Fury Belt then it's a perfect 170 damage enough to one hit KO most relevant EX's. Let's not forget about Genesect-EX's ability, Drive Change in which lets you put a Tool attached to Genesect-EX back into your hand once per turn. Basically this ability is great because let's say you just attacked with a Fighting Fury Belted Genesect-EX then next turn if you have another one on the bench then all you have to do is bring the Fighting Fury Belt back into your hand and then attach a Float Stone to it so it can now retreat into a fresh Genesect-EX. This ability works off the bench also so it doesn't have to be active to work which is awesome.

Moving onto Aegislash-EX who also has an ability except Aegislash-EX's ability is called Might Shield which is meant to wall your opponent into not taking prizes on Aegislash-EX from Pokémon with Special Energy on them and forcing the opponent to have Hex Maniac to get past it or Lysandre around it. Its attack, Slash Blast has a base of 40 damage and is similar to that of Genesect-EX as I said since it also gets a damage boost for energy Metal Energy attached to it only this time Aegislash-EX doesn't discard its energy like Genesect-EX can do. A Fighting Fury Belted Aegislash-EX would be troublesome to take down and can probably stall for quite a while. Aegislash-EX can also give you free wins against deck such as, Vespiquen/Vileplume or decks that rely only on Special Energy in general and have no counter to Aegislash-EX. There is also three Shaymin-EX to give the deck consistency in finding those turn one Bronzor drops which bring me to them. A 4-3-1-1 line of Bronzong BREAK is ideal. With three of the Bronzong's being the one's with the Metal Links ability and the one of being the Metal Fortress ability in which prevents all effects and damage from attacks done to your Benched Pokémon which is extremely powerful against Greninja decks for when they Shadow Stitch you. You can even play down a Shaymin-EX after you were Shadow Stitched if you have the Metal Fortress Bronzong out. It just doesn't protect the active Pokémon which is whatever at that point. Then there's a one of Bronzong BREAK which is mainly used as a late game attacker. Its attack, Metal Rain does 30 damage for each Metal Energy you discard off Bronzong BREAK to any of your opponent's Pokémon. You can even hit the same Pokémon more than once.

For example you discard four Metal Energy off Bronzong BREAK then you have 120 damage to work with, but in increments of 30 so if you want to hit two Pokémon for 60 each you can or one Pokémon for 30 and the other for 90 or 30 to four different Pokémon. I'm pretty sure you get the drift of it. If you can lock up a Pokémon with a big retreat cost active and Metal Rain around it then that's where Bronzong BREAK shines or if you run out of Lysandre's you can always just snipe the bench. For the Supporters of the deck there is quite a few actually. Four Professor Sycamore, two N, Lysandre, and AZs. Then a one of Hex Maniac. Maxing out on Professor Sycamore in a deck like this is ideal because you want to get Metal Energy in the discard to abuse Metal Links. Running multiple N also insures that you don't have to discard too many resources that aren't energy. Multiple Lysandre is ideal too because Genesect-EX can potential one hit KO anything. And running multiple AZ insures that you have more ways to go into other attackers more often than not when you can't find a Float Stone. Hex Maniac is in the deck because even though your deck is heavily reliant on abilities doesn't mean Hex Maniac isn't needed. You just have to make sure you play it after you have used Metal Links etc. VS Seeker and Ultra Ball needs no introduction so let's move onto the three Max Elixirs which may seem odd since the deck has energy acceleration already anyway. However, now the deck has the option to do turn one attacks. Imagine staring at a three energy Fighting Fury Belted Aegislash-EX on the first turn with it doing 110 damage.

Max Elixirs also make it so Genesect-EX can hit those magic numbers easier because between both Metal Links and Max Elixir it would make Rapid Blaster much more efficient. There is also three Float Stones because again being able to go in and out of Genesect-EX's is what you want the deck to achieve especially since there isn't Zoroark to Stand In and out meaning you have to rely on Float Stones and AZ and because Genesect-EX's ability let's it put its Tool back into your hand means AZ is basically healing off a damaged Genesect-EX for no drawback at that point. Two Fighting Fury Belt as I mentioned and then there's one Assault Vest which I'm personally not a fan of. Again this list is one that had success during Nationals and if it were me I would drop Assault Vest for a third Fighting Fury Belt. There is also a one of Battle Compressor which again I would like to see at least two in a deck like this where it relies on energy being in the discard and Battle Compressor is the perfect solution in doing so. The one of Startling Megaphone I do like because of all the Garbodor hype as I discussed earlier. Super Rod is also needed in case Bronzong had to be discarded early or if you need to get back Metal Energy for whatever reason. The second place list at Canadian Nationals didn't run any Stadiums but if you were to run one then Sky Field should be the best option which is why this list runs two of them, but again you don't necessarily need them. Lastly, because Genesect-EX and Aegislash-EX can do unlimited damage and because the decks running Max Elixir means you need a good amount of Basic Energy as I said and in this deck there are eleven Metals which is the way to go if you want to make the most of your attackers and Max Elixirs.

Other card options

Jirachi XY67:

This Pokémon can easily do work since Metal decks run so many Basic Energy so Jirachi is free to attack at a moment’s notice. However, how useful is Jirachi really. I know Matthew Koo played one in his Top 4 Canadian Nationals list so maybe it does have a use after all.

Heatran PHF:

A solid attacker that can do some lethal damage, however it's best to run Heatran with Double Colorless Energy to make it more of an efficient attacker.

Lugia FCO:

Another solid non EX attacker that can one hit KO Shaymin.

Zoroark BKT:

This Pokémon is a great secondary attacker and helps with fueling your attackers easier with Metal Links due to Stand In. Zoroark also helps the Trevenant and M Rayquaza-EX matchups.

Level Ball:

Running a couple Level Balls can help find early Bronzor and mid to late game Bronzong easier.

Trainers' Mail:

These add consistency in finding Tools or whatever Trainer card you’re digging for at the time.

Closing Thoughts

That will conclude this article. I hope this article gave you a better understanding on what may see play come Nationals. I also hope these decks and lists helped you in some way whether if it's how to play them or counter them. I think both of these decks have the potential to go far. Metal is probably my favorite of the two simply because I think Genesect-EX right now is extremely powerful when paired with Aegislash-EX and Bronzong BREAK. If you see me at US Nationals be sure to some say hello if you want. For those going to US Nationals good luck and I hope to see you at the top tables. As I said before make the most of your once a year experience at Nationals and just have fun. That should be your number one priority. I'll actually have two more articles next month which hopefully one is on a good Nationals run.

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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