Experts' corner

Eye on Japan

A Look at XY-on in the Japanese Metagame

Yuki Fujimori discusses the current Japanese metagame and shares a bunch of lists from the new Blue Impact/Red Flash (BREAKthrough) expansion.

11/20/2015 by Eye on Japan


Hello again, 60cards readers! It's been almost three months since my previous article—what a long time! During that period, as you all know, the 2015 World Championship was held in Washington D.C. Instead of attending the event, however, due to my job, I watched almost all of the video streams, being surprised and really impressed by the complexe metagame and a lot of sophisticated decklists.

Another thing I was surprised, even even shocked, by at Worlds 2015, was that Japanese Masters players couldn't make cut for their efforts and skills. Even in the Juniors division, where Japanese players overwhelmed last year, they couldn't get past Top 8 this time. I heard the Worlds metagame didn't meet Japanese players' predictions; non-EX decks such as Donphan and Night March saw more play than they expected. Just before the World Championship, most of the Japanese players, including me, were living in a Pokémon-EX world, where Dragons, Manectric, and Groudon were fighting each other.

I don't think that was the only reason Japanese Masters couldn't reach the Top 8, though. They all brought well-built—amazingly well-built—decks to the event, and of course, some players played decks which can defeat decks like Night March, but no one knows when bad opening hands will come.

Anyway, it's true that one of the biggest problems for Japanese players hoping to attend Worlds is predicting its metagame as accurately as possible—there is always information and techs developed in local scenes in foreign countries that don’t show up on the internet are not accessible to Japanese players. I know it's the same for other foreign players, but this year that affected the Japanese side most negatively.

Well, okay, Worlds 2015 is over. We have to prepare for an upcoming metagame and events. In addition, the new set Red Flash/Blue Impact (BREAKthrough) was released in late September in Japan. We also need to adapt our thoughts and decks to the amazing new cards. As I wrote above, there exists an information gap between Japan and other foreign countries, so I know it’s expected for my article is to introduce what has been and what will be happened in the Japanese metagame.

One thing I need to say is, however, most of the Japanese players currently have been playing XY-on format since Worlds 2015. The Battle Festa 2015, being held in November, was announced to adopt XY-on format, so that’s been the core of our focus in testing. Thus, all the decks I will discuss in this article are XY-on decks.

Firstly, I'm going to show some Bandit Ring (Ancient Origins) decks.

Bandit Ring (Ancient Origins) Decks

Turbo Giratina

Giratina-EX is no doubt one of the most impressive cards from Bandit Ring. When Japanese players stepped into the XY-on format, they immediately noticed that DCE-based Pokémon like Raichu and Mega Pokémon such as Mega Manectric are especially strong attackers in this limited cardpool. Giratina's Ability Renegade Pulse blocks the attacks from Mega Pokémon and its attack Chaos Wheel negates DCE-based strategies completely. Once Giratina starts attacking, DCE attackers have a very hard time fighting back. Therefore, it's natural for players to try to get Giratina attacking as quickly as possible.

The main and only strategy of this deck is quite simple: get Gratina attacking as quickly as possible. Reshiram's Turboblaze Ability enables you to attach a Fire Energy from your hand to one of your Dragon Pokémon, so if you can use the Ability twice a turn, then attach a Double Dragon Energy to Giratina, now it has enough Energy to use its Chaos Wheel attack. This deck focuses on the strategy, providing you what is needed to use Chaos Wheel from the first turn. Four copies of Switch are very helpful to make full use of Turboblaze. You may think Muscle Band is not necessary to this deck, but when you are faced with Aegislash-EX, a Hydreigon-EX with a Muscle Band will help you so much.

Hydreigon-EX is more than an alternate attacker, of course. Its Dragon Road Ability allows Resihiram to Retreat for free. The ideal turn one, then, is to open with Reshiram, and get a second Reshiram, Hydreigon-EX, and Giratina-EX into play.  Then you only need to find one Switch instead of two to help pull off your big turn one. Hoopa-EX helps a lot, getting the Giratina and Hydreigon into play and grabbing a Shaymin to dig for additional Reshiram and Energy. Trainers’ Mail is also a big part of the speed, digging for Professor’s Letter and Sky Field to pull off the big turn one.

The biggest problem of this deck is that its strategy is very simple, so if the opponent has a way to deal with your early-turn Chaos Wheel, such as Enhanced Hammer or Xerosic, you soon lose the game because this deck can do almost nothing if it can’t stream Chaos Wheel.

Currently, XY-on is a format which has a narrow and limited cardpool. In a format like that, you generally have only a few ways to take back resources you spend in a game. In XY-on, it’s not uncommon to hear, "Hey, look at my miserable hand with four copies DCE and a Sycamore! If I play Sycamore now, I will never play DCE again this game!" Sure, Bunnelby helps you sometimes, but it costs a turn—a precious turn in late-game—so it is not always helpful. In addition, this format doesn't have so many ways to disrupt or interfere what an opponent is doing. That means, once one side gains any kind of advantage, it is very hard to catch up.


Energy-acceleration strategies are very strong in a format like that, especially Energy-acceleration from the discard pile. Bronzong, which was one of the most popular cards in this Spring and Summer, is now back under the spotlight.

It seems weird to play DCE and DDE in the same deck, but it adds much more flexibility to this deck. If you are faced with Night March or Raichu, you simply start attacking with Giratina-EX supported with Enhanced Hammers. Tyrantrum-EX is the best attacker against Aegislash-EX, because its Ability, Despotic Fang, enables Tyrantrum to blow away Aegislash-EX through its Mighty Shield Ability. Tyrantrum is sometimes helpful to Knock Out opponents' Mega Pokémon, as its Dragon Impact attack with a Muscle Band and a Faded Town can deal as much as 230 damage!

Lugia-EX is a backup attacker. It’s nice here because it requires a lot less setup that Giratina-EX and Tyrantrum-EX, but it can still put on a lot of pressure. If your opponent brings out a Giratina-EX of their own, a Lugia-EX powered with Metal Energy becomes a very big threat! This deck has a number of other ways to deal with Giratina, as a quick Chaos Wheel can be very dangerous. With two Enhanced Hammers and a Xerosic, there are plenty of ways to discard Giratina’s Special Energy in the hopes that it misses a Chaos Wheel, which is often just the opportunity the deck needs to catch up.

This type of Bronzong deck was one of the most popular decks. Or rather, it was the most dominant deck in the XY-on format before Blue Impact/Red Flash.

Mega Manectric/Regice/Articuno

Mega Manectric, having been one of the most powerful decks during this year, shines more in the XY-on format because of the reason I wrote above. Manectric/Articuno was a popular deck type this summer, and it welcomed a new Water-type attacker, Regice.

Articuno and Regice are both great supporting attackers.  Articuno works really well with Turbo Bolt, as its Tri-Edge attack only needs one heads (and maybe a Muscle Band) to finish off any Pokémon-EX that Mega Manectric previously weakened, giving you three Prizes in the process. It also helps against Night March and Vespiquen, which can be tricky matchups otherwise. Regice beats decks that rely heavily on EX attackers and it’s a great way to deal with Giratina-EX.

Another new card from Ancient Origins is Hex Maniac. It stops all Abilities, both yours and your opponent's, but this deck doesn't rely so much on any Ability, so it is more useful in this deck than in a lot of other decks. In addition, it is very useful to deal with Giratina-EX. It will be an ideal move if you can Knock Out Giratina with Articuno's attack after Turbo Bolt.

Blue Impact/Red Flash (BREAKthrough) Decks

If you are a long-time Pokémon fan, you will be surely excited with the new set Blue Impact/Red Flash (BREAKthrough). It features Mega Mewtwo X and Y, and both Mega Mewtwo have really amazing attacks.

Mega Mewtwo Y has the Psychic Infinity attack, which deals 10 damages plus 30 damage times the number of Energy attached to both Active Pokémon. As you’ll immediately notice, this attack looks more powerful than Yveltal-EX's Evil Ball. Moreover, the attack costs only two Colorless Energy, so it can easily start attacking with only one DCE, and any Energy-acceleration will definitely power up the attack even more. Luckily, we have the best Energy-acceleration system in our format, Bronzong.

Mega Mewtwo Y/Bronzong

Max Potion, back to the Japanese XY-on format in this set, really fits the strategy. If you can't draw into Spirit Link, Aegislash will become a trustworthy wall during a Mega Evolution turn.

I guess Mega Mewtwo will attract most of your attention, but I want you to take a look at the regular Mewtwo-EX, which has the attack Damage Change. This attack literally switches the damage counters between each Active Pokémon, so if the opponent's Active stays full HP, Mewtwo can send back its damage to them and gets full HP again! This attack completely shuts down your opponent's attack if their Active Pokémon did less damage than their own HP.

Mega Mewtwo Y/Crobat

There are a lot of Pokémon whose attacks meet the description above, and if Shrine of Memories is in play, M Mewtwo-EX can use the dreaded attack too.

The Bats support both Damage Change and Psychic Infinity. Damage Change shines the most when it can OHKO the opponent's Active, and Bats are really helpful to make that strategy work. This variant doesn't run any Ability-based Energy-acceleration for Mega Mewtwo, so it relies on Mega Turbo to get attacks coming more quickly. Damage Change is slow to power up, needing three Energy and not working well with DCE, so Mega Turbo is a big part of making that attack viable in this deck.

The strategy otherwise is very simple. Build a quick Mega Mewtwo and use Psychic Infinity for early pressure while building a second Mega Mewtwo. With a decent setup, you should be able to OHKO anything with either Damage Change or Psychic Infinity, especially with the Bats to help. The deck doesn't run any alternate attackers, so it can struggle against non-EX decks or Regice, but otherwise, a lot of Pokémon will have a hard time dealing with a very quick Mega Mewtwo.

Mega Mewtwo X/Landorus

Another Mega Mewtwo-EX has high HP and a monstrous attack. If any Stadium card is in play, its attack Vanishing Strike deals 200 damage! The damage is never affected by defensive texts on the opponent's Active, so any defensive attacks or Abilities such as Giratina's or Regice's become useless in the face of Vanishing Strike.

Landorus is the best Energy-acceleration partner for this Mega Mewtwo-EX, and Smeargle has a unique Ability which allows you to replace one of the Basic Energy attached to your Active Pokémon with one in your discard pile. That helps you use both of Mewtwo's powerful attacks, Damage Change and Vanishing Strike. For example, if your Mewtwo has Fighting/Psychic/Psychic attached, use Smeargle's Abiltiy and replace one of Psychic Energy with Fighting Energy. Then your Mewtwo can immediately use Vanishing Strike with Dimension Valley!

This deck runs a lot of Stadiums, which is useful for both primary attacks. You need Shrine of Memories for Mega Mewtwo to use Damage Change and Vanishing Strike works best with Dimension Valley to lower its cost. Of course, having a high Stadium count also ensures that Vanishing Strike is always able to hit for its maximum amount of damage.

Giovanni's Scheme, one of the new Supporters, comes in handy when faced with Mega Pokémon-EX because Vanishing Strike can't OHKO them on its own. With Giovanni's Scheme, however, it can OHKO any Mega with up to 220 HP.  Any more HP than that and you might have to rely on Landorus to soften them up first.


Non-EX Pokémons from this set are no less powerful than the new Mega Mewtwo!

First off, I'm sure Zoroark and Zoroark BREAK will catch your eyes. Zoroark's attack Mind Jack and Zoroark BREAK's Foul Play, are both more powerful than their Black & White-era counterparts.

This is primarily an aggressive Zoroark deck. Both Mind Jack and Foul Play are Energy-efficient and can do a lot of damage in the right situations. The downside is that opponents can somewhat play around them by limiting their Bench and avoiding playing down Pokémon with particularly powerful attacks too early, but by doing that, they're limiting their own options quite a bit.

For good measure, the deck is playing Yveltal-EX, which goes great with Zoroark since it's a hard-hitting attacker that your opponent can't play around. If they ignore it, Evil Ball quickly sweeps through their field, and if they bring out something strong to counter it, Foul Play can deal with that for just one Energy! This deck does very well against Mega Pokémon too, thanks to the heavy count of Faded Town. The deck does well against Mega Rayquaza regardless, thanks to Mind Jack's effectiveness against a full Bench, but Faded Town goes a long way toward beating Mega Manectric.

Hard Charm is also surprisingly effective against Mega Manectric. Before a Zoroark can BREAK Evolve, Hard Charm protects it from being Knocked Out by Turbo Bolt, allowing it to safely become Zoroark BREAK so the damage can be healed off with Max Potion. In addition, the deck can always run the Yveltal/Hard Charm strategy from last year against other matchups. The attackers in this deck are very low-maintenance, which gives it a lot of room for options like this.


Gallade is also one of strong non-EX Pokémon from the new set. Its Ability Premonition allows you to rearrange the top five cards of your deck and Unown's Ability helps you draw into the best of those five cards more quickly. Combined with Gallade's cheap and efficient Sensitive Blade attack, Gallade quickly becomes one of the best Pokémon from the set.

For just a Double Colorless Energy, Gallade is already hitting up to a potential 150 with a Muscle Band. To make this damage more significant, the deck runs Giovanni's Scheme, raising the damage potential to 170, and Strong Energy, which can add another potential 40 to that. This turns Gallade from a solid attacker into a serious OHKO threat. To complement Gallade, the deck runs Landorus, for a little extra damage and some quick Energy-acceleration and Miltank and Hawlucha, both of which also hit very hard for a single Energy.

The most important card in this deck, however, is no doubt Focus Sash. Without the infamous Hypnotoxic Laser, it's quite hard to OHKO Fighting-type Pokémon equipped with Focus Sash. That, combined with Gallade's already-high 150 HP makes it a very durable Pokémon, and with the natural consistency Premonition brings to the deck, it's not too difficult to just overwhelm your opponent with a swarm of bulky, hard-hitting, and efficient attackers.

Night March/Empoleon

Lastly, I want to show one an older deck which benefits from a new card from the set. Empoleon is a big addition to the Night March deck because its Ability raises up the maximum damage of the Night March attack.

Empoleon eliminates the need for Revive in this deck since it reduces the number of Night Marchers needed in the discard to hit the correct numbers. In the process, it also makes Prized Night Marchers less of a liability. As an added bonus, getting Empoleon into play makes Miltank a good backup attacker, which helps since it's the only one-Energy attacker the deck has. With a Muscle Band and Empoleon in play, Powerful Friends can easily take out a Benched Shaymin, which can win games on its own.

The other major addition the deck gains is Octillery. For matchups where you don't need quite as much damage from Night March (against decks without Megas, for instance), you can use Archie's Ace in the Hole to get Octillery into play instead. This brings extra consistency to the deck, making it easier to dig for a new DCE each turn to keep the string of attacks coming, and it gives the deck some insurance against having its hand destroyed by Judge, Ace Trainer, or even the new Mismagius. Night March has always been good, but these new additions can go a long way toward keeping it relevant.

Looking Toward the Battle Festa... 

When you foreign players are opening new booster packs in your room or your favorite shop, the Battle Festa is being held in Japan. November 3rd in Hiroshima, 7th and 8th in Tokyo, 15th in Osaka, and 29th in Nagoya. All of them are adopting an XY-on Standard format, but the metagame is truly unpredictable. Unlike Spring and Summer, ten or more decktypes exist in the metagame, and players haven't found out what's the "play" is this time yet. Well, Mewtwo is surely strong, but hey, what will you do if you are faced with Pumpkaboo? How's your Manectric? Now it gets defeated by Gallade. It's a very interesting format and I'm excited to see how it turns out!

Next time I want to review the result of Battle Festa 2015. See you in the next article! 

written and translated by Yuki Fujimori (Ukinin)

[+14] okko


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