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Ryan Sabelhaus

The Evolution of Raichu/Crobat/Milotic

Ryan goes through the evolution of his Raichu/Crobat/Milotic deck, along with the initial deck used during testing and the finalized product that carried him to a City Championship and multiple strong finishes on the Georgia Marathon.

01/28/2016 by Ryan Sabelhaus

Introduction

Hello, 60cards readers! City Championships are coming to an end, with most players hopefully gaining enough Championship Points to make a run at a Worlds invite. Throughout the past couple of months, I’ve played a variety of different decks and was able to finish with a 1st, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for my City Championships. My first win was with my Night March deck, but the second win is what the focus of this article will center around. I earned my second victory with my absolute favorite deck at the moment for the Standard format, Raichu/Crobat/Milotic.

I’ve decided to center my article on Raichu/Crobat/Milotic because I truly believe that this deck is the best possible choice for the Standard format. Throughout the Georgia Marathon, I played a variant of this deck at five tournaments and finished with placings of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, and 12th. Not all of these finishes were with the same exact 60 card list, which is another reason why I’m writing about Raichu/Crobat/Milotic. It is a very good example of how decks need to be constantly adapting to the environment around them in order to find success. The first list that I began with is nowhere near the final version that I have grown to love playing, which had to be calibrated for more speed in the quick-paced Georgia Marathon environment.

In this article, I’ll go over the first initial list that I started with my testing, along with highlighting some of the strengths and weaknesses that the build has. I’ll then show the Evolution process throughout the Georgia Marathon and discuss the finalized version of the deck that guided me to many strong finishes during these City Championships. Let’s get into the article!

Initial Raichu/Crobat/Milotic:

This was the first initial list that I began to work with during testing. The heavy Brigette count allowed for a steady setup process that revolved around getting multiple Evolutions on the second turn of the game, which was the entire basis of the deck. It wasn’t too fast, but was extremely consistent. While discussing options with friends about this build, I came to the conclusion that Brigette was just too slow in this quick-paced format. This was just my personal opinion and doesn’t mean Brigette is necessarily bad, but I wanted to try and re-build the deck to acquire more speed.

Not only were the Brigette underwhelming, but the Pokémon counts were also very awkward at times. This mainly pertained to the small amount of Crobat, the large amount of Unown, and the copy of Jirachi. I felt like the deck certainly needed another Crobat for more consistent damage drops, which is where this deck finds strength. With the ability to take multiple knockouts in one turn through the use of Golbat and Crobat damage, the Prize exchange can sway in the favor of this deck very quickly. With my mind constantly on the ever-changing metagame of the Georgia Marathon, let’s take a look at the changes that came about from the initial list when compared to the finalized version.

 

4-4 Raichu Line:
Almost mandatory for this deck. Full Evolution line for our main attacker!

4-3-3 Crobat Line: 
As explained before, this deck thrives on the abilities of Golbat and Crobat to achieve knockouts and pick off easy Prize cards from the opponent’s Bench. A more consistent Evolution line allows for more damage to come about during each match, which can very easily decide the winner of the match. With the possibility of a Crobat being Prized as well, it felt almost mandatory to add another copy.

2-1 Milotic Line:
I realized about halfway through the marathon that I only utilized about one Milotic drop per game, unless an AZ was involved. I decided to make the change, especially with another vital change of playing two Sacred Ash. This allowed me to always find my copy of Milotic whenever it was needed.

4 Shaymin-EX, 3 Unown: 
With more speed on my mind, the deck was changed to rely heavily on Shaymin-EX Abilities throughout the first couple turns of the game. Shaymin-EX is also a great attacker during matches with other fast-paced aggressive decks (Vespiquen, Night March, mirror) and helps to keep a Double Colorless Energy for the following turn after a Sky Return. 

The Unown were initially cut down to two copies, but I felt the need for another Basic Pokémon and possible drawing options, which fits perfectly with what Unown can offer.

4 Professor Sycamore, 2 Lysandre, 1 Professor Birch’s Observations:
After initial cuts were made during testing, I felt the need for more consistency in my Supporter line. Prizes were sometimes painful to deal with, which led me to strengthen every aspect of our initial Supporter line to offer more consistency. Playing four Professor Sycamore was one of my best changes during the marathon. This deck is so difficult to deal with if a Professor Sycamore is played on the first turn of the game, as an avalanche of setup cards is soon to follow and lead to a board filled with Basic Pokémon. 

The second copy of Lysandre was mainly due to problems relating to Prize cards, as some games were just difficult to close out without my copy of Lysandre. Adding another Lysandre was extremely helpful during the marathon and almost always helped to seal games. The copy of Judge was cut for a Professor Birch’s Observations to help with just drawing more cards. My argument for not playing Judge is simple – this deck isn’t trying to slow down our opponent in any way, but to just focus on setting up and winning the game on our own. There’s no reason to try and limit an opponent if this deck benefits from the extra cards that Birch can offer.

1 Teammates, 1 AZ:
These are both crucial cards that are vital for the success of this deck. Teammates is almost certainly my favorite card in the entire deck, as it can single-handedly win games through grabbing vital resources like Double Colorless Energy and Sky Field whenever they are needed. This card is extremely powerful in Raichu/Crobat/Milotic. The copy of AZ is very helpful during two situations that come about during games, which are picking up Crobat lines to access more damage and picking up Shaymin-EX to deny Prize cards. Damage from Golbat and Crobat begins to pile up throughout each game and help to sway the Prize exchange during matchups. Denying two Prize cards from a Pokémon-EX can also help to delay the game by one more turn, which could be all the time needed to take a final knockout and win the game for this deck.

4 VS Seeker, 4 Sky Field: 
If you are playing this deck, you probably are playing these counts. Reusing Supporters is very strong for this deck, along with every other deck in the format. I’ve seen people try and get away with just three Sky Field, but winning the stadium war and maxing out damage with Raichu on every attack is enough reason to play four copies.

4 Ultra Ball, 3 Level Ball: 
With Brigette no longer an option in this deck, there needs to be some way of getting out Basic Pokémon quickly. This deck plays four copies of Ultra Ball and there is no other option. It’s one of the strongest cards in the game that helps to lower hand-size for Shaymin-EX, while also getting out Basic Pokémon to advance the setup process. During the late game, Ultra Ball can grab a Crobat to secure a knockout with extra damage or maybe grab a Milotic to re-use another Double Colorless Energy. Many uses for this card in Raichu/Crobat/Milotic. Level Ball falls into the same category of grabbing Basic Pokémon early, while also being able to get Raichu and Golbat during the following turns.

2 Muscle Band, 2 Sacred Ash: 
Muscle Band can be utilized to hit 180 damage with a full-Bench Circle-Circuit, which can achieve a knockout on a Pokémon-EX without needing Bat drops. Not only for big damage, but Muscle Band allows for cheap knockouts on Basic Pokémon through the use of Shaymin-EX attacking. Finding the right time to attack with Sky Return is actually very important to sealing games against some opponents, as you are taking away easy Prize cards and retaining a Double Colorless Energy and Muscle Band in the process. 

Playing a second copy of Sacred Ash was one of my favorite changes throughout the Georgia Marathon. With the ability to discard large amounts of Evolution cards during the first couple of turns, you can throw caution to the wind and do whatever it takes to get a solid setup with plenty of Basic Pokémon. I never had to worry about running out of Evolutions, because there was always an extra copy of Sacred Ash to save me.

4 Double Colorless Energy, 0 Basic Energy:
Without a Jirachi to attack, the only Energy necessary would be the DCE. This does make the deck weak to Giratina-EX and Aegislash-EX, but both of those are found in the same deck (Tyrantrum/Bronzong) and can be chalked up to a bad matchup. With Milotic to grab extra DCE whenever needed, this Energy count was never really a problem for the deck.

Now that I’ve gone over the changes and counts, let’s take a look at the finalized version of this deck that won me the last City Championship of the Georgia Marathon and multiple other Top 8 performances.

Finalized Raichu/Crobat/Milotic:

This finalized product has been from many hours of testing and experience with the deck during previous City Championships. Although the format is going to change with the addition of a new set, I truly believe that this list is the best deck in the current standard format. It only has one or two relevant bad matchups in the current format, which both rely heavily on attacking with Giratina-EX. These two matchups would be Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong and Reshiram/Giratina-EX. Almost every one of my losses with this deck has come from a Giratina-EX based deck, which eventually was able to shut down my entire deck that plays just special energy cards. Without energy to attack, there is no way of stopping a Giratina-EX from shutting down our energy cards.

With matchups being brought up, let’s go over the matchups with some of the most prevalent decks in the current format:

This finalized product has been from many hours of testing and experience with the deck during previous City Championships. Although the format is going to change with the addition of a new set, I truly believe that this list is the best deck in the current Standard format. It only has one or two relevant bad matchups in the current format, which both rely heavily on attacking with Giratina-EX. These two matchups would be Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong and Reshiram/Giratina-EX. Almost every one of my losses with this deck has come from a Giratina-EX based deck, which eventually was able to shut down my entire deck that plays just special Energy cards. Without Energy to attack, there is no way of stopping a Giratina-EX from shutting down our Energy cards.

With matchups being brought up, let’s go over the matchups with some of the most prevalent decks in the current format:

Yveltal-EX/Zoroark/Gallade: Very easy matchup with the weakness to lightning. All of their attackers can be Knocked Out in one hit with Raichu, with all of our attackers being rather difficult to KO. They would need to consistently attack with Zoroark or Gallade on every turn to keep up on Prize exchange, which is almost impossible. You are very glad to see this matchup during a tournament. (POSITIVE)

Manectric-EX Decks: For an easy evaluation of matchups against Manectric-EX decks, I’ll clump together Manectric/Regice, Manectric/Raikou, and Manectric/Crobat. Since each of these decks rely heavily on attacking with a Pokémon-EX, they are already at a significant disadvantage to Raichu/Crobat/Milotic. It is very easy to go up on the Prize exchange. With this deck based purely on speed, there is almost no problem in beating any of these matchups. (POSITIVE)

Night March: This matchup is almost considered an autowin with how lopsided the Prize exchange becomes. Their attackers have 30HP and 60HP, which can be easily dealt with through Golbat and Crobat damage. Even with multiple copies of Hex Maniac, Raichu can just keep up on the Prize exchange until a Hex Maniac isn’t played. This is one of the best matchups possible to see. (VERY POSITIVE)

Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong: One of the worst matchups to find, as they usually play multiple Giratina-EX. This matchup certainly isn’t unwinnable, as I was able to beat multiple Tyrantrum-EX decks throughout the marathon. To win, you need to win the coin flip and setup quickly while attaching DCE to Benched Pikachu. It then becomes a game of hiding Energy on the Bench until the Giratina-EX can be dealt with, which can sometimes be as quick as a turn-two KO on their Giratina-EX. (NEGATIVE)

Entei AOR/Charizard-EX: This matchup is actually very even in terms of the Prize exchange. Our ability to hit for huge amounts of damage is matched with their ability to attack on the first turn of the game. Eventually the game needs to resort to KO’ing their Benched Shaymin-EX’s and trying to win, or by constantly attacking their Energy sources to run them out of Entei and force a Charizard-EX to come and attack. (EVEN)

Conclusion

I want to thank everybody for reading this article on my new favorite deck of the Standard format. I had a lot of fun during the Georgia Marathon, along with playing this deck for most of the tournaments. With Regionals coming up and the expanded format swinging back into play, this should certainly become very interesting in the upcoming weeks. If you are planning to attend the Regional Championships in Virginia or Florida, I should be attending both and can’t wait to see everyone.

I’ve also recently gotten a desktop computer and will be bringing back the SabelStream for quality Pokémon-related entertainment. Hopefully everyone can come and tune in to the stream once that starts back up to have fun and test for future events! Good luck to everyone in their upcoming tournaments and thanks for taking the time to read this article.

-Ryan Sabelhaus <3

[+11] okko


 

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