Experts' corner


Weakness Policy: A Card Overlooked, and a Little Lesson in Believing in Yourself

Team Lv5 member Dan Nelson shares thoughts and views on Weakness Policy, it's place in the game, applications for use in Nashville, and a little bit about believing in yourself.

08/24/2018 by TeamLv5

Time Travel

Let's rewind a little bit in history to December 2017. The setting: Memphis, Tennessee. The event: Pokemon Regional Championship. Zoroark was in his prime but a new threat emerged onto the scene and that threat’s name was Buzzwole GX. Being a Zoroark player, I felt threatened by this Ultra Beast and everything he brought to the table. Not only did he set up fast but he hit my beloved Zoroark quickly and relentlessly for weakness. I fumbled around with a few ideas to no avail… until it finally hit me, like a foul ball while texting in the front row at an MLB game. I asked myself what can I do to keep my beloved Zoroark alive and thriving in a world where Buzzwole is starting to make a foothold. I wanted Zoroark, who, of course was still one of, if not the most versatile Pokemon out there, to feel like the strong fox that he was, and not as if he were made of glass. While Zoroark still won the event in Memphis, Buzzwole made his way into the top 8, appearing twice, with common Zoroark partner Lycanroc GX. This was clearly a formidable duo, and while obviously Zoroark and his two best friends Golisopod and Lycanroc could still compete, and even in this case, beat Buzzwole, the matchup was tough, and only going to get tougher as the Buzzwole archetype developed over time. My goal was to find a way to bring the matchup back to even, or even slightly skew it in Zoroarks favor, to keep him on top for a long time to come. I took advantage of the work of others and added Mew EX and Mewtwo from Evolutions to be able to return the heavy hitting weakness smacks back to Buzzwole, but I still wanted more; So I began my research, thinking of what card, or cards, I could use to not only give Zoroark a further edge over Buzzwole, but potentially help in other matchups as well.

I scoured the library of cards available in the standard format on PTCGO, and began making a list. Upon going through almost the entire library I realized my list was still empty, until I got near the very end. There I made eye contact with Weakness Policy, and it was love at first sight. Again, when considering a card, I was looking to find something that could potentially be advantageous in other matchups, as to not oversaturate my decks with techs only for Big Bad Buzzboi. Another prominent card at the time was Golisopod GX, which 1HKO my Lycanroc for weakness as well. It was time for the testing to begin and I confidently added 2 Weakness Policy to the deck in preparation for a two Cup weekend coming up. Upon sharing this idea with some friends and locals, very few were on my side. The laughter and mockery had begun even before I put the card to use. “It’s a bad card!” “That won’t work, Buzz is still going to destroy you!” For an instant, I questioned my own decision and research. Maybe people have tried it and it didn’t work, but maybe, just maybe, it was seen as a threat and they didn’t want me to use it. I convinced myself that this was a proper decision and decided that I would prove it on the tables, and not long after, my success vs Buzzwole began. I started cutting more at cups with this list, and decided to move on to the next step, using the list at Regional Championships. People took notice, and I was even referred to as “weakness policy guy” for a while, but with more of a mocking tonality, not one of respect. The card did what I wanted and I saw much more success with it than I had seen before.

The Logic and Math Behind the Decision:

So first and foremost: the primary reason, not getting Zoroark 1HKO by Buzz, or at least not as easily. As we all well know Knuckle Impact does 160 damage base (160x2 for weakness=320 to zoroark). Add weakness policy, its back down to 160, which means Buzz needs a strong energy and a choice band to KO Zoroark now with Knuckle Impact. Take into account the fact that we run 1-2 Enhanced Hammer, as well as 2-3 Field Blower, and that feat seems much more daunting for the Buzz player to pull off. Remember, at the time, we had no Beast Ring, no Diancie, and Regirock EX’s +10 damage doesn’t help much considering with Regi they would still need 2 strong plus Regi; an equally daunting task. Also consider this: As is still prominent in the majority of Buzzwole lists, they do not run field blower, making the Policy a sure bet to have an impact on the matchup. Secondly, we consider Lycanroc vs Zoroark. The key to not getting destroyed by Dangerous Rogue is twofold. Step one, KO the Rockruffs before they can make an impact, if they attach, target that thing if possible. If this is not possible, say, lack of Guzma or Lycanroc ability, we must be prepared for the Dangerous Rogue, which in itself is a two part process. The best thing to do, clearly, is limit your bench to limit their damage, but even with 3 bench pokemon Lycanroc is hitting Zoroark for 300 damage with weakness factored in, and that doesn’t include if they have Strong attached or a Choice band. Playing with a bench smaller than 3 can be near impossible at times. Enter Weakness Policy. Now with that 3 bench Lycanroc is back to his base 150 with Dangerous rogue, meaning he needs the same Strong + Choice to get a 1HKO. Even if they manage that, they are left with Claw Slash after, as we all know you can only GX attack one time per game. Claw slash, unbuffed (no strong/choice/regi) does 110 damage, which, when including weakness, is enough to knock out a fresh Zoroark.

With Policy on Zoroark they would need Regirock, 3 strong, and a choice band to get the same 1HKO, which is a near impossible feat for them to accomplish, especially with our use of Enhanced Hammer and Field Blowers. Third, and this one is not so concrete as the others, but we must consider our Lycanroc vs. Golisopod GX. Hitting for weakness on our Lycanroc, Golisopod needs just one Grass energy to deal fatal damage with First Impression. 120x2=240. With the Weakness Policy attached, Golisopod only has 1 possible out to getting a 1HKO on Lycanroc, and that would be a Crossing Cut GX, with choice band, and Professor Kukui, which would give them the exact 200 they need for the KO. Now there is one glaring difference here than the aforementioned uses… Golisopod runs Field Blower. Nothing feels worse than to have a situation secured only for a Field Blower to disrupt your life, and Golisopod to hand you a big fat L, but there are ways to avoid this, if we play smart, and if we can’t, well, it wouldn’t be the only time someone’s lost to their opponents draw. Playing cards such as parallel city, and our own choice bands/float stones will give them earlier targets to use their field blowers and limit their availability later on. While since the addition of Beast Ring to the meta Weakness Policy is not as strong as it once was, it’s still a good card that can help you avoid some costly Jet Punch damage early and combat Claw Slash KOs.

The Message and Wrap

Not everyone will always agree with a decision you made for a tech card, but that does not mean the card doesn’t have its merits. Of course you could make a bad decision, and we all have at some point in our journeys through deckbuilding, but do not let the voice of the masses oppress you before you’ve had a chance to experiment. Versatility and the freedom to do what you want when building a deck are part of what makes this game great. If people aren’t thinking outside of the box and coming up with new plays, the meta grows stale and boring, and amounts to nothing but a mass of people not thinking for themselves. As most will know, this particular story has quite the happy ending, not for myself in particular, but for the Weakness Policy card. If you tuned in to the NAIC recently, or reviewed decklists from the event you will see that this card saw some play. Multiple day two players used Weakness Policy, and even the World’s best player, Tord Reklev, used this card in his list and played himself all the way to 2nd place in the largest tournament in history with it.

While it is a good thing to listen to the top players and your friends and locals alike when it comes to making decisions, if you truly believe in something, give it a go for yourself, even if the majority of folks discredit you or straight up laugh in your face. Popular opinion is just that, opinion. Just because someone doesn’t see what you see in a particular pokemon, trainer, or card combination, does not mean it isn’t good. You could still be on to something, but you will never know if you don’t try! This game is a playground, so go out there and have some fun with it.

Applications for Nashville

We are in the twilight hours before Worlds weekend, so let’s take a look at possible uses for Policy this weekend. While I don’t think the card will see a ton of play this weekend, it could still be of use in various lists. The most obvious and abundantly helpful use for the card still rests with Zoroark. Whether it be partnered with Magcargo, Lycanroc, or Garbodor, any edge gained in the matchup with Buzzwole is helpful, and now that there are two unique Buzz archetypes being played, it is still just as useful as before with Zoroark. Looking more deeply there are quite a few other applications for the card. While space may be limited, if you are playing Buzzwole/Lycanroc it would be a good card to use both versus Malamar lists and versus Zoroark Garbodor lists. Garb only needs 5 items in your discard pile to be able to 1HKO Buzzwole with trashalanche, add policy and that total returns to 10, which is a much more manageable number. What about Malamar? With two to three decks running Garbodor right now, it makes the psychic weakness of Malamar and some of it’s friends a bigger issue. While not essential, a well timed policy placement could keep something alive a bit longer. The deck that could benefit from policy the most this weekend could be Rayquaza. Ray has only been legal for a short time, and based on the amount of CP it pulled over the cups it has been legal for, it has shown that it’s a strong contender and is something to look out for. On the other side you have Gardevoir, who can bang Rayquaza for weakness, and Sylveon EX techs in Zoroark builds to provide the same possibility. Ray suffers doubly from getting knocked out, first, the obvious loss of your opponent taking prizes and getting ahead, and more importantly the loss of energy. Losing energy causes the entire deck to lose damage output, and that could be fatal. While I wouldn’t suggest an abundance of weakness policy this weekend, due to the amount of disruption and removal in the current meta, a 1 or 2 of here and there could be extremely helpful in some situations, and if you have some flex spots in your list, definitely consider policy.

Special thanks to Benjamin Behrens and Pedro E. Torres for helping me become the ever growing player I am today. To all of my friends and rivals in the Carolina Pokemon scene, with a special mention to Caleb Vance for supporting my sometimes jank decisions, and Chris Diller for helping me stay in form and stay Positive, and to Seagrove for helping me expand my knowledge on a daily basis, and to anyone who took the time to read this! Follow me on twitter @DanNelsonTCG where I try to have healthy meta discussion as well as share some inspiration to help keep the world thinking positively, as I truly believe our minds can be our biggest enemies, or our greatest friends, and it takes a positive attitude to achieve positive results!

[+15] okko


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