06/27/2018 by Jay Lesage
Good morning 60Cards readers! Jay Lesage here with another article for you — it seems I have a lot to write about this month as we prepare closely for the North American International Championships (which we’ll now refer to further as NAIC). I’ve begun to muster up somewhat of a series of articles that I’d like to drop, with most of them regarding a deck that I’d like to review, and provide support to that deck by giving useful tips/insights before dropping the decklist. In this specific article, I wanted to go over an efficient timeline detailing how to properly practice for a tournament, and explain to you why I believe this is the most efficient way to prepare. I’ll also give you insights into my extensive testing practices, which includes unorthodox measures, and share my thoughts on current playtesting as it stands within the game. Does practice really make perfect? We’ll have to find out , where I’ll show you my secrets on how to succeed in any season.
Table of contents
With any great tournament comes significant responsibility — your responsibility as a player is to make sure that your investment into the game is sound. If I told you that you were about to take $60USD and burn it with a match, would you say that I’m crazy? I’m honestly not that far off the mark for a lot of players attending the NAIC. I’ve been practicing every single day, and for anybody who hasn’t, I’ll gladly claim our matchup as a free win. I guess what I’m trying to say is, barring natural skill within a card game, if you aren’t practicing, somebody who practices daily will artificially be better than you. Allow me to tell you a simple story to kick off this article.
In college, there was this girl I knew who many people regarded as “dumb” — she didn’t have many friends, and was picked on a lot because of her ideas. I used to peep her schoolwork to see how she was doing, and a lot of her ideas weren’t intermediate by any means; the difference between her and other students though was that she put a lot of time and effort into her papers. Whereas her ideas weren’t the absolute best, she’d invest time into them in order to shape and evolve them into something else. She wasn’t the brightest bulb in the bag, but her ambition alone allowed her to succeed as one of the brightest in the class. Like college, we can apply this same principle in Pokémon regardless of what tier player we believe we are.
To dwelve into the world of practice, here is a bit of a “double-whammy” of insight regarding some decklists that I piloted at two back-to-back League Cups this weekend, coupled with some hot tips. This is the Greninja list that I played on the first day, in Aylmer, Quebec, Canada!
- 4x Greninja
- 3x Greninja BREAK
- 4x Frogadier
- 1x Froakie
- 1x Staryu
- 1x Starmie
- 1x Tapu Lele GX
- 3x Froakie
- 3x Professor Sycamore
- 4x N-supporter
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Evosoda
- 2x Field Blower
- 2x Enhanced Hammer
- 1x Rescue Stretcher
- 1x Super Rod
- 3x Choice Band
- 3x Brooklet Hill
- 4x Cynthia
- 1x Max Potion
- 6x Water Energy
- 4x Splash Energy
Ahhh, Greninja! I absolutely love this deck because I find it so fun to play. I needed 1st and 2nd at the two League Cups I decided to play in, so I figured that this would be a decent call in order to obtain a hefty finish. I didn’t want to have to outsmart my opponents, but rather overwhelm them with a vicious board state (with tons of ribbits). Greninja is in a unique position in the metagame where it doesn’t really lose to anything directly, and it always has a chance. The list I played was focussed on consistency, mainly leaving the Tapu Fini-GX and Espeon-EX at the door in favour of a heavy Item count, and Supporter count. I included a single copy of Max Potion in order to deal with chip damage from Buzzwole, and Enhanced Hammers to help with random Zoroark-GX matchups. This list was based off of Jake Ewart’s Top 4 Madison decklist.
Greninja performed much better than I thought it would throughout the day, and piloted optimally. I felt like I always had consistency cards in hand, and in games where I didn’t prize 2+ Frogadier, I usually won. Even certain games where I did prize two Frogardier, I still managed to setup via multiple Splash Energy, Rescue Stretcher, and Super Rod. The only matchups where I felt I REALLY needed the four Frogardier in play were matchups where it was fast tempo, or where they didn’t require as many abilities to initiate their gameplan. This mainly fell onto decks like Buzzwole, where they just need Max Elixir and Beast Ring.
Enhanced Hammer was moderately useful in some matchups, while it was extremely bad in others. It held no weight while playing against Malamar (FLI; 51) , but against Zoroark and Buzzwole it was an all-star! If you can catch a Special Energy on one of the first few turns, you can easily control the pace of the entire game. I’m iffy about playing these cards though — I’m unsure if other cards might benefit me more over the course of a large tournament, let alone a short one. Max Potion is another card that falls into this general category, as my one copy of it didn’t really come out to play much. I used it once, and it didn’t make a game-breaking impact like I thought it would. It helps in grindy moments like when you’re playing against Giratina (BW; 184) , but besides that I feel like most Pokémon in this format can go for a 1-shot. If they can’t OHKO you, you’re probably already winning anyways, so that damage is borderline irrelevant. Like I said, I’m torn on how good it is — but other players have been seeing success with it, so it can’t be all that bad.
The third Choice Band had to be the best inclusion in the deck — the math just checks out with this card, and I absolutely loved it. In the early game, mid game, and late game, this card always came in clutch in order to hit the right numbers at the right times. I often felt as if against Buzzwole you’re just a little bit of damage off, but with a Choice Band, two Shadow Stitches and a single Giant Water Shuriken (GWS) do the job to hit for (70 x 2 + 60). For that reason, I’ve considered cutting the third Choice Band in favour of a Greninja GX — I feel that more often than not, you end up having an extra Frogardier open on the board, and it’s realistically a searchable Choice Band/30 damage anywhere on the board. For anybody who played with Crobat PHF back in the day, you know how powerful that extra 30 damage really can be! I’ve also considered toying around with a 1-of Frogardier FLI, but I’m unsure I want to mess with an already shaky turn two operation. It’s useful with Splash Energy because you can gain quite a bit of damage just by looping that same Frogardier over and over, however it’s quite annoying when you need to Water Duplicates on the second turn and draw into that Frogardier. If that situation occurs, you’re more than likely to lose the game because you’ll be a turn behind schedule. I ultimately bubbled in 9thplace at a 23 person League Cup with this list, with a 3-1-1 record. It went very well, only tying to a mirror match, and scooping to a close friend playing Buzzwole.
I personally am an off-the-wall kind of guy when it comes to learning the ropes of things — this is a guide for people who are very dedicated to the game, and are trying to become the best in the world. I take training very seriously, as I’ve applied these coaching measures to my own personal training venture, the PokeAcademy. Here are some ways to uniquely up your game in a fashion that is quick, and effective!
• 3-on-3 Training
This is one of the most effective ways of coaching, however it requires a bit of a squad. You’ll need to gather up five of the best players you know, and have three players on each side of the board. Play the game through three players eyes; this will take a while per game, but at the end of it the insight gained is enormous. Not only will you correct your friend’s plays, but they’ll correct yours, and you may be able to condition yourself to play differently. 2-on-2 is also a good option, but 3-on-3 is ultimately the best way because it is the perfect amount of insight. 4-on-4 is a little too many hands in the pot, whereas 2-on-2 is too little insight (to the point where answers may become biased by the deemed “stronger” player).
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