Ultra Necrozma Revealed

The NEXT set has been announced! Not the SM5 Ultra Prism that’s being pre-released next weekend, but next one – due out in May 2018, named ‘Forbidden Light’!

Featuring Ultra Necrozma, (see below for its breakdown) it also ties in with the rumours that Dragon types (Ultra Necrozma being Psychic/Dragon in the VGC) are getting support.

Also reported online, Lucario, Greninja, Zygarde and Yveltal are getting GX cards, suggesting a Kalos/Gen 6 revisit – begging the question of what happened to Gen 5? Additionally Naganadel is getting a GX card suggesting that this set is tying together all of the new Pokémon and formes from Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon which will bring the TCG up to date with the Video Game.

Finally the set includes 5 more Prism Star  Cards including an Arceus which requires [W][G][L] to be able to attack. I’m grateful that they’re continuing the Prism Star type over.

Ultra Necrozma-GX

Basic Dragon Pokémon– HP190 [Ultra Beast]

[P][M] Photon Geyser: 20+ damage. Discard all basic [P] Energy from this Pokemon. This attack does 80 more damage for each Energy card discarded in this way. If only there was a way to recycle or reattach metal energy such as Magnezone or Metagross-GX?!

[P][M] Destructive Light GX: This attack can only be used if there are 6 or less total Prize cards remaining in play. Place 6 damage counters on each of your opponent’s Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.) Like the baby Necrozma but hitting each of your opponents Pokémon, not just GX/EX

Weakness: Fairy (x2)     Resistance: none     Retreat: 2

Ultra Prism SM5 – Top 10 to Watch

 Ultra Prism SM5

So the next Sun & Moon set – SM5 Ultra Prism – is in pre-release next weekend. There is major hype surrounding the eponymous Prism Star cards themselves. Here’s the specific rule in question:

You can’t have more than 1   (Prism Star) card with the same name in your deck. If a  card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead. 

And for reference the Lost Zone rules are:

The Lost Zone is an area considered to be a more advanced form of the Discard Pile. Unlike cards in the Discard Pile, cards moved to the Lost Zone are kept face-up and are considered to be “outside” the Play Area due to the fact they are not kept on the playmat if one is used. As such, cards moved to the Lost Zone are no longer considered to be in play, and cannot be retrieved at any time, or by any means during gameplay.

That being said, in my top 10 list I’ve only included two Ultra Prism Star  cards. While interesting I’ve found most of them underwhelming. The Ultra Prism Pokémon mostly have abilities which can be shut off by Garbotoxin or similar locks. Additionally you’re only allowed one of any given Prism Star  Card in any given deck which reduces consistency and most of them aren’t particularly extra-strong or broken to warrant such restrictions. That being said, I do hope that it is a mechanic they carry forward, unlike say the Steam Siege dual-types, because it might allow for some more interesting mechanics and some strategic decisions moving forward.

Anyway without further ado here’s some of my top picks from the new Ultra Prism set – first up is the breakout card – Magnetic Circuit Magnezone.

#1 – Magnezones

Ability: Magnetic Circuit
As often as you like during your turn (before your attack), you may attach a [L] Energy from your hand to 1 of your Pokemon.

This has been highly hyped and for good reason – potentially unlimited energy acceleration in a nice stage 2 package. Because there’s two types it allows for twice as much potential carnage! The Lightning version could easily power up a Raichu-GX or even Xurkitree-GX deck. There’s also a Alolan Dugtrio in the new set that discards energy to deal damage, along with a stadium that enables recycling of Metal energy. So in short there’s a LOT of Metal support in this new set.

 

#2 – Dusk Mane Necrozma GX

[Ultra Beast]
[C][C][C] – 60
[M][M][M][C] – 220 discard 3 energy from this Pokémon
[M][M][M] GX – 250 only if you have more prize cards left

Weakness: Fire, Resist: Psychic, Retreat: 3

The main thing to note about Dusk Mane Necrozma is that it’s a bulky Metal basic and not a Prism Star  Card! It does need a lot of energy in order to attack so might give a lease of life to Metagross-GX or of course the above Magnezone. However all is not lost since Metal is getting a massive boost with this set and it should fit in nicely with the overall metal theme to put the final nails in the Gardevoir-GX coffin. While a mediocre card in and of itself, I’ve put it as #2 to show how the game is shifting to bigger, bulkier basics with expensive attacks.

 

#3 – Dialga GX

[M] – draw upto 6 cards
[M][C][C] – Shred 80 / not affected by effects on opponents’ Pokémon
[M][M][M][C][C] Timeless-GX 150 / Take an extra turn after this one!

So this is one of the more interesting GX Pokémon that we are getting in this set, most notably the GX attack that lets you take an extra turn. Granted it requires 5 energy (although again Metagross-GX or the new Magnezone can help to alleviate this).

It really makes the value of a GX attack interesting since we don’t really have a lot of ‘ex-meta’ type abilities that can manipulate the actual flow of the game state in such a dramatic manner. I hope that this might signal a new shift in some interesting abilities which allow for more strategic decisions to be made and break the often obvious BDIF style metagame that we’re stuck with at the moment.

#4 – Leafeon GX

This one has been translated, so I’ll save typing out the breakdown. The key point is the Grand Bloom GX attack is essentially a Wally for all of your Pokémon in play. It only costs [G] and since that same energy can evolve your Eevee, you could use this to help setup a Decidueye-GX deck or even Golisopod-GX or Lurantis decks in your turn one. This one has the potential to be metachanging by itself so keep an eye on this one.

 

#5 – Glaceon GX

Again has been translated (thanks internet!) although unlike Leafeon-GX, we’re looking at the Freezing Gaze ability instead of the GX attack. Essentially while your Glaceon-GX is active it shuts off your opponents EX & GX Pokémons’ abilities. Again you could start with an Eevee and attach a [W] energy to evolve and shut down your opponent’s ability to use cards such as Tapu Lele-GX. The main attack is similar to Umbreon-GX and arguably overcosted. The GX attack complements the spread-damage type effect any synergises with other spread abilities such as Decidueye-GX or Tapu-Koko too. Of course the weakness to Metal is a liability given the forecasted rise of metal but you’re probably not going to play this for it’s bulk, just it’s shut down ability.

#6 – Cynthia

N’s yourself for 6, also required for the Garchomp/Lucario deck – which will be a thing, even if it’s just to be a rogue counter-meta deck. If nothing else Cynthia will replace N and Sycamore once they rotate out of standard since it’s a highly reliable means of non-discarding draw support. While Shauna is considered too weak to be worth playing, Cynthia hits the sweet spot of being useful enough that it can be justified.

Additionally she synergises with the new Garchomp who for [F][C][C] can do 200 damage. There will totally be a deck built around getting out Garchomp and the supporting Lucario with Cynthia for support. The main issue will be recycling the Garchomps since it’s quite fragile as well as getting the 2 attachments required to be able to attack. So it can fall behind, however it is a budget competitor that can catch people unaware.

 

#7 – Cyrus 

This is one of my 2 Ultra Prism Star  Cards on the list. In my view most of them are heavily situational and because you can only have 1 in a deck aren’t consistent enough. However their impact can be strong enough in the right deck to justify their inclusion.

Cyrus’ effect: This card can only be played if your Active Pokémon is a [W]or [M]
Your opponent shuffles their Benched Pokémon and all cards attached to them into their deck until they have 2 Pokémon on their Bench. (And of course the usual Ultra Prism Star  Card restrictions & conditions)

As you can see this is quite a disrupting card – combined with something like Sylveon’s Plea-GX attack or followed by a Parallel City it could really ruin your opponents day. Ideally you’d need a deck dedicated to disruption featuring either Water or Metal Pokémon and of course since you only have 1 Cyrus it can be hard to plan around – although you can still of course fetch it with Tapu Lele-GX etc. It has the potential to be devastating, although again a 1-of means there will be times that it’s prized and there’s a condition so it will only see play in decks with Water or Metal Pokémon – thankfully there’s at least one viable Water Deck (Greninja) and several Metal options forthcoming.

Even if Water or Metal decks aren’t built around disruption it is a card that could be worth including just for the sheer amount of disruption it can cause for a card space.

#8 – Pal Pad 

Just shuffles 2 supports from your discard pile into your deck. It’s a VS Seeker 2.0 (well not quite!) but will be heavily played thanks to the variety of supporters. Also especially more relevant after rotation when we loose N and Sycamore. Finally it enables the Garchomp/Cynthia/Lucario deck to function smoothly and allows for inclusion of thinner supporter lines in other decks.

#9 – Super Boost Energy 

Effect: This card provides [C] Energy.
While this card is attached to a Stage 2 Pokémon, it provides every type of Energy but provides only 1 Energy at a time. If you have 3 or more Stage 2 Pokémon in play, it provides every type of Energy but provides 4 Energy at a time.

 

This sounds confusing at first, but basically it’s a Rainbow Energy for Stage 2 Pokémon. If you have 3+ Stage 2s then it gives FOUR of each energy. It’s highly situational of course, and you can only have one (bye-bye consistency!) but is potentially archetype-making.

In the Garchomp deck for example, you’ll likely have multiple stage 2 Pokémon and Lucario gives you a way to find this specific card. It could also fit into decks like Decidueye. In short almost any Stage-2 deck can benefit from this card which is why I’ve included it. At worst a Rainbow Energy for no damage cost is still a good card.

#10- (Wash) Rotom 

Ability: Rotomotor -If there are 9 or more Pokémon Tool cards in your discard pile, ignore all Energy necessary to use this Pokémon’s attacks.

[W][C][C] Wash Arrow –
This attack does 50 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)

I’ve included Wash Rotom, but this is to cover all Rotoms – they all have the ‘Rotomotor‘ ability which makes their attacks free. There’s Frost, Ice, Mow and Heat Rotoms too. A whole deck centred around milling out your junk tools to enable a toolbox of Rotom types is bound to emerge too.

 Conclusion 

The Ultra Prism set looking to be good. Nowhere as broken as Guardians Rising or as impactful as Zoroark-GX has been on the meta, but it is definitely posed to shake things up which is long overdue. Crimson invasion didn’t really add anything too radical outside of Buzzwole-GX. There’s also some gems for use in Expanded – which is where I think that most of the Ultra Prism Star  Cards will find their niche in decks that can focus on exploiting their abilities. This would also tie in with the TPCI’s current attempt to push the Expanded format.  We can safely say that several new deck archetypes will emerge and I think that overall there will be a more diverse and healthy meta moving forward.

 

 

Breeding Pokémon for VCG

Being horrendously ill this past week I didn’t manage to make the local league challenge on Saturday and instead have been playing through Ultra Sun at breakneck speed to get to the new endgame stuff and get my breeding setup re-established.

I already have a living Pokédex so didn’t have to scour the place for each new creature. In essence this meant that I only had 2 Ultra Beasts to catch and add to my ‘dex and trade with Catherine for the Ultra Moon exclusive  (Stakataka). I made the mistake before of not planning out my UB and Legendary Pokémon acquisitions in Sun so wasn’t going to repeat that this time! With most of the 2017 VGC teams running at least one Tapu (Usually Koko but Lele and Fini also featured), having the wrong nature can lock you out of being able to compete.

So in a change to your regularly scheduled TCG blog post I’m going to cover how to optimise and breed Pokémon in your US/UM (or even Sun/Moon) playthrough so that you at least have the option of playing VCG at a competitive level. Worst case scenario is that you’ll crush your friends!

Principia Pokémonica

Before we even look at capturing or breeding Pokémon, we need to look at what properties of those creatures we want to control. Generally speaking they are:

  • The Creature type – EG: Mewtwo, Buzzwole, Arcanine, Pikachu etc.
  • The Nature – EG: Modest, Bold, Hardy, Jolly etc CRITICAL to your Pokémon
  • Ability – EG: Flash Fire or Intimidate for Arcanine (or perhaps a hidden ability?)
  • The IVs – Thankfully they are entirely controllable via hyper-training so not as critical as it used to be though a good IV spread is usually desirable.
  • The Moveset – 100% controllable. The only complication is if you need egg moves which requires a bit more planning.
  • The EVs – 100% controllable. And re-settable if you mess up!

Firstly you’ll need to find a set of Pokémon to make your team with. I’m not at all versed in VGC competitively so I would defer to the Official Pokémon Website or even sites like Smogon. Just make sure that you’re finding builds for Pokémon valid for the format/meta that you want to play in. Smogon has it’s own metagame, banlist and way of organising battles which is beyond my experience to critically evaluate. Suffice to say, just because a Pokémon is good in OU or Uber tier doesn’t mean it will work the same in the official Pokémon 2v2 VCG2017/18 format.

eggFor non-unique Pokémon we’re going to be breeding strong Pokémon of the species that we want. For unique Pokémon you’re going to have to find our where you can catch them (Ultra Wormholes for example) and then make sure we get the right Nature by synchronising. (more on that later)

Preparing to Breed

Getting to the Battle Tree after finishing the main story is a good milestone since it means that you can unlock the IV judge function as long as you’ve hatched 20 eggs. Since we’re going to be breeding this shouldn’t be a problem – you can speed up hatching with the Roto-Hatch power and by having a Pokémon with the Flame Body ability (Magmar or Slugma). There’s also loads of videos on Youtube about how to hatch eggs quickly and covering the basics of breeding too. If you’re not breeding Egg Moves then you can simply pop in a Ditto so that you don’t have to worry about species compatibility.

At this stage it’s worth mentioning that it helps if you have the Poké Pelago reasonably developed to help train EVs later. A healthy supply of the EV reducing berries (Pomeg, Kelpsy, Qualot, Hondew, Grepa & Tamato) wouldn’t go amiss. The other option is to have the EV Enhancing Items (Power Anklet, Power Lens etc) and beat up some low level Pokémon to harvest EVs. I mention this now because assembling the pieces is the hard part, once you have the system setup it is easy to maintain and quick to generate the Pokémon you want via breeding.

Breeding for Nature

The Nature is the hardest variable to control. However it is still largely controllable to an extent. If you’re breeding you can breed lots of eggs, hatch until you get the Pokémon with the right nature and then give that one an Everstone (you can find these in the cave treasure hunt on the Poké Pelago). Then reintroduce it to the Ditto, now all the eggs will have that nature. Then continue to breed until you get good IVs and the right Ability.

For catching uniques/wild Pokémon you can have a synchroniser. The easiest one to use is an Abra. Get one Abra and breed a couple of dozen  eggs (don’t use an Everstone – you want a variety of Natures), hatch and release the ones without the Synchronise ability. By having an Abra with Synchronise as the first Pokémon in your team all wild Pokémon have 50% of being the same nature. Generally you’ll want at least an Adamant, Modest, Jolly, and Timid synchroniser depending on the specific Legendaries that you’re hunting, with Careful and Impish occasionally being useful too.

Save before encountering the Legendary, swap the synchroniser to the first party slot and then catch the Pokémon. Check out it’s nature on the summary screen; if its the correct nature great – BUT DON’T SAVE, if it is not of the correct nature then soft reset (L+R+Select+Start) and re-catch.

Head to the Poké-Centre and use the Judge function to check the IVs of the Pokémon. If you’re happy, THEN SAVE – but remember that you can Hyper-train to artificially increase IVs to 31 if you have an otherwise perfect Pokémon.

Breeding for Abilities

If a Pokémon has 2 abilities (eg Abra can have Synchronise or Inner Focus) then each egg has a 50% chance of one or the other. However if one of the parents has a Hidden Ability (Abra’s Hidden Ability is Magic Guard) then there is approx 20% chance that one of the offspring will have the Hidden Ability, I think this increases if the HA parent is the mother. There isn’t much way to change this other than breeding enough so that you get an egg with the right ability so it’s just a matter of playing the odds and hatching eggs. With the hot spring in the Pelago as well as the Roto-Hatch power hatching eggs isn’t that tedious.

Breeding for IVs

Individual Values – essentially a +0 to +31 modifier on the stat in question when the Pokémon is at level 100. If you have unlocked the Judge function you can get a breakdown that looks like the following:IV Hexagraph

You can see that the Sp.Atk, Sp.Def & Defense are ‘best’ (31), Attack is ‘no good’ (0)and  HP is ‘very good’ (~30) while speed is ‘pretty good’ (20~30).

Additionally note that Attack is blue and Defense is red meaning that it has a Bold nature (+Def, -Atk) giving it approx +10% better Defense at the cost of 10% Attack.

However assuming everything else was fine but that Defense wasn’t good, you could level the Pokémon to 100 and then use a bottlecap to Hyper-Train upgrading the IV to 31. However unlike natural IVs, hyper-trained IVs do not have a chance to be passed on through breeding.

Breeding for IVs is another topic entirely, this post is just a summary of the whole process to get you started. Suffice to say that you will probably want to do it, and I’d even argue that it’s worth getting the setup established before you start breeding since it will save you time in the long run. However it is rather lengthy and involves chain-SOSing dittos for about 30 chains as well as preparing the Pokémon you need to sustain such a chain (A Smeargle with false swipe, icicle spear, recover, recycle and a leppa berry) Again google and youtube are your friends here!

Moves & Egg-Moves

The Moveset is the second easiest variable – you get moves by either levelling up, TM, tutoring (in USUM) or by breeding. If you are dealing with a Legendary Pokémon (that can’t breed) or you don’t need egg moves then this is simply a matter of levelling up using a TM, or finding the correct Move Tutor.

The complication arises if you need to chain-breed egg moves. However it is likely that other people have had to go through the same process so a quick internet search is always worth doing.

An example is breeding the move Spikes onto an Omanyte. You need to have a Male Klefki with the move Spikes and then breed it with a Female Shellder/Cloyster to produce Shellder offspring with the Spikes move. Then take a Male Shellder with the egg-move of Spikes and breed it in turn with a Female Omanyte/Omastar to get Omanyte offspring with Spikes.

EVs

Effort Values – These are a set of values for each of the 6 abilities (Hitpoints, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed) that range from 0 to 252. The sum of all 6 EVs cannot exceed 510 so at best you can have 252+252+6. For every 4 EVs in a statistic, the Pokémon’s overall statistic increases by +1. So by investing 252EVs in Hitpoints, the Pokémons Hitpoint total would increase by 63 (252/4=+63).

While that might seem complicated it’s a lot simpler in practice as long as you have an idea of what sort of configuration of EVs you would like.

A particular configuration of EVs is often referred to as a ‘spread’ (as in how you have spread out the 510 points among the 6 attributes). Highly common is a maximum Speed (252) and Attack or Special Attack (252)investment with the remaining 6 points (of which only 4 will count) plugged into a defensive stat.

However other builds including a Bulky HP (252) and split Defence/Special Defense (128/128) exist. Smogon’s pages on various Pokémon are quite good for these.

By pressing ‘Y’ on the summary screen a breakdown akin to the diagram on the right will be shown. This Grenina has maximum Speed EVs (as shown by the sparkling) with the rest being split between Sp. Atk and Attack. Also note that the arrows are blue coloured meaning that all 510 EVs have been invested.

Each time you KO an enemy Pokémon you gain some EVs in a stat or possibly two. If you play through the game you are likely to have a roughly even distribution of EVs across all 6 stats. This is less than optimal because generally a Pokémon is better off being focused in either Attack or Sp.Atk. Naturally slower Pokémon won’t really benefit from speed EVs as much as a faster Pokémon and so on. But once you’ve hit 510 you can’t get any more EVs – so what do you do?

EV Training

Enter the EV reducing berries (Pomeg, Kelpsy, Qualot, Hondew, Grepa & Tamato). Each of these lowers a Pokémons relevant EV by 10 and makes it a bit happier. Grow lots of these on your Pelago! Reduce down the EVs of the stats that you don’t want and then you can train up the stats you do want.

To raise EVs there are 3 options. Items such as Vitamins or Wings will raise the EVs by a little. Vitamins (Protein, Iron, Calcium, Carbos) etc are expensive and only raise a stat by +10 to a maximum of 100 but are a good way of getting a head start. Wings are harder to come by  and only raise a stat by +1.

You could simply fight Pokémon that yield the correct EV that you’re after such as Zubats for Speed or Mudbrays for Attack. This is more intensive but can be quicker than the Playground – especially if you use the EV-increasing items such as the Power Anklet or Power Lens.

islevelupFinally you can pop your Pokémon into the Pelago Playground island. At Level 3 of development each play session will increase the EVs by 4 for that stat. Combined with beans doubling the speed you can fully EV train a Pokémon in about 2 days without having to lift a finger!

Conclusion

Hopefully that will have helped demystify at least some of the process around assembling a team. The trick is to establish a system that then makes any non-legendary Pokémon accessible via breeding. This in turn frees you up to focus on using Synchronise to catch the correct natured Unique Pokémon.

If you’ve managed to understand the principles I’ve outlined, some great further reading is this article at the Outer Haven. Although focused on beating the Battle Tree, it’s a good way to sharpen up your gang and experience different sorts of opposing teams.

Merry Christmas

I don’t know why anyone would be reading my blog on Christmas, but if you are thank you and I hope you have a joyful day!

Since Monday is on Christmas I won’t be putting up a blog  post today and I’m not going to lie – the New Year period is going to be sketchy at best too! However, for the Junk Hunt SableyeNew Year, I’ll be setting myself some Pokémon goals:

  • Hit 100CP (Currently 45/100)
  • Top Cut at a Premier Event (Cup/Regional)
  • ‘Pimp Out’ my Expanded Sableye Deck

 

Memphis Meta Musings

So, if you weren’t aware, this past weekend before the Christmas holidays there was a rather large Pokémon TCG tournament in Memphis. It attracted a lot of big names and there were some astoundingly high quality decks operated by equally skilled players. It could be argued that the US Pokémon TCG meta is more challenging than the European one. This is evidenced by the fact that despite no major expansion releases since the last European tournament, the metagame managed to sufficiently advance so that we saw some new decks breaking ahead by clear margins. (US vs EU meta is a topic for another time though!)

If you want the standings (as well as decklists) you can find them on the excellent Limitless TCG website. However I’ve (rather arbitrarily) taken the top 32 seeded decks and plugged the numbers into Excel to make it a bit more visually digestible.

Just a disclaimer – insightful statistical analysis isn’t really my forte so there’s no massive revelations here, it’s just some numbers and pretty charts to make things more accessible and hopefully provoke some thought with a little discussion of a couple of Rogue decks.

Naturally the decks aren’t 100% identical but I have grouped them by archetype which is usually taken to be the main 2 or 3 Pokémon types that underscore the deck. Memphis Meta

As you can see Zoroark/Lycanroc dominated the event taking more than a third (37.5%) of the meta. Unsurprisingly this was also the archetype skillfully used by Michael Paramawat (#PramNorris!) to achieve first place in the tournament.

Zoroark-GX and Lycanroc-GX certainly were the most represented Pokémon across all of the Top 32 decks with a smattering of Golisopod-GX, Buzzwole-GX and others showing up to keep the mix interesting.Top Pokes

So while 37.5% (12) of all deck archetypes were Zoroark/Lycanroc, even more decks -75% (24)- contained either one of them in conjunction with other Pokémon. Leaving only a quarter (8) of Top 32 decks not running either Zoroark-GX or Lycanroc-GX. All but 2 of these 8 were established archetypes – namely Golisopod/Garbotoxin, Gardevoir, VikiBulu and Volcanion leaving us with 2 anomalies.

The Pair of Rogues

You can’t have a metagame article without paying homage to the Rogue decks of the event. Rogue Decks are the ones that people don’t see coming or don’t give much weight to. A well chosen Rogue Deck can take the Meta by surprise since not many people account for it or know how to play against it. For Memphis 2017 these were placed in 10th and 11th. I have to state that I’m glad to support a game where even fun decks can be viable and going ‘off-meta’ is a legitimate option.

shining genesect SLGFirstly in 10th place was Harrison Grandish with his Shining Legends inspired Genesect/Venusaur deck. Essentially Venusaur makes your [G] energy twice as effective powering up Shining Genesect’s Gaia Blaster attack. While I’ve heard people speak of this combination the difficulty in acquiring Shining Genesects seems to be a major barrier in people actually testing it out. However Grandish proved that this archetype actually is viable and so I expect that this will mean that interested players will invest in the cards to make this built in the near future.

Team Rockets Handiwork FASecondly, in 11th place overall was Yehoshua ‘Yoshi’ Tate with a unique Wishiwashi-GX/Hoopa/Xurkitree-GX deck. Essentially the deck functions by either absorbing hits on high HP Pokémon, such as Wishiwashi-GX or Celesteela-GX and then using Max Potion to heal, or by preventing attacks with Pokémon such as Hoopa or Xurkitree. While the opponent’s attacks are being prevented or largely ignored, the deck also seeks to discard energy and cards from the opponent’s deck via cards such as Team Rockets Handiwork. Unfortunately there isn’t a decklist available at the time of writing but hopefully soon, because I really want to try it out! I was fortunate enough to be able to watch it played on Twitch where it lost to Paramawat – but was still really great to watch.

Conclusion

So as promised this isn’t massively insightful mainly because I haven’t really sat down and done solid testing with any of these decks yet. I’d rather be able to give an informed opinion instead of baseless conjecture and I’m not confident enough to predict the meta ahead of a competition. In todays’ world of FOMO and clickbait style articles I’ll just have to take my time and develop proper, informed opinions based on playtesting and experience instead!

Finally if you’re interested in reading about getting better or building a community I’ve also written a couple of articles for The Dark Patch which you can find here. I’m sure they’d love the readers and I hope that you enjoy them.

SLG & CRI GX Pokémon Review

GX Pokémon Review

Following on from my previous post about viable EX & GX Pokémon in the game, I’ve gotten around to reviewing the GX Pokémon in Shining Legends (SLG) and Crimson Invasion (CRI).

It’s no secret that GX Pokémon have shaken up the game – almost every serious deck features some kind of GX (in addition to Tapu Lele-GX). Even if  only as a one-of tech or just for a GX attack. So let’s review those GX Pokémon from the latest 2 sets to have entered the metagame.

Shining Legends 

This ‘bonus’ set sees 4 different GX Pokémon over several prints including the elusive ‘Tube Mewtwo’ Secret Rare – Possibly the most beautiful card in my collection.

 

Entei-GX EnteiGX – Probably the least viable GX from SLG, Entei pales in comparison to other popular fire Pokémon such as Turtonator-GX or Ho-Oh-GX. That being said while everyone is focused on the amount of support Metal is getting from Ultra Prism, few have noticed that fire is getting a fair bit of support too with buffs to conditions from Infernape and Salazzle. However until such a time as fire rises to combat the oncoming metal onslaught, Entei remains the least useful of the SLG GXs.

MewtwoGXMewtwo-GX– I’ve faced off against this in an energy acceleration deck and, although the attack is similar to Gardevoir-GX, it only counts your energy and is on a 190HP platform. With no innate ability to accelerate energy, a lacklustre second attack and a mediocre GX attack means that Mewtwo-GX plays second fiddle to the old Scatter Shot (BKT 62).

That all being said, with the SLG Mew, some Max Elixirs and the right combination of support, this GX could make some impression. Although I just don’t think it is strong enough in the current metagame to warranty all of the hassle that would be needed to run it effectively.

RaichuGX

Raichu-GX – Similar to Mewtwo-GX above, I have faced this in a Standard energy acceleration deck seeking to exploit the Powerful Spark attack. It is similar to Delphox’s Psystorm (FCO 13) whereby more energy across all your Pokémon means more damage. A respectable 210HP and low retreat make this not a bad Pokémon per se but the lack of general Lightning-type support is what holds it back at the moment. Watch out for the Lycanroc and Buzzwole weakness but also the Metal resistance – especially when facing off against Registeel.

ZoroarkGXZoroark-GX – Aside from Tapu Lele-GX this card is probably the best card in the format right now. Reasonable 210HP, Psychic resistance, and an extremely efficient attack makes this a good Pokémon, even taking the typical Fighting type weakness into account.  What makes it a great card however, is its Trade ability – you can discard a card to draw two new ones. This has meant that since it’s release Zoroark-GX has seen play in the winning London 2017 regionals as well as San Jose 2017’s Expanded tournament with all 4 of the top decks running it – 3 of them Night March. Although the cost of the card is quite high, it is thankfully available as a full art promo in a special collection box that comes with 5 Shining Legends boosters. The sheer utility of the card means that it is probably one of the best value boxed sets at the moment.

Crimson Invasion

The October 2017 set saw 4 ‘regular’ Pokémon GX as well as all of the Ultra Beasts printed as special kinds of Pokémon GX.

 

GyradosGXGaraydos-GX -Another fan favourite, sporting 240HP despite being only a stage 1 to start with and keeping hope alive with a quite disruptive GX attack that discards an Energy from each of your opponents Pokémon – for only [W]!

However  high retreat costs and arguably over-costed attacks mean that so far this monster hasn’t really managed to define any decks to date.

 

 

Alolan Golem GXAlolan Golem-GX -Another bulky GX with similarities to Gyarados-GX, high retreat and attack costs, plus a generalised lack of Lightning support again means that no decks featuring this Electric rock have really been seen doing well.

The most interesting feature is the GX attack at 100 damage for [L][L][C][C] but also prevents your opponents playing any cards next turn. In the right kind of deck – perhaps in the future with Lightning support – there might be some hope but until then it’s one for the folder only.

AlolanExeguttorGXAlolan Exeggutor-GX – A new fan favourite, mostly due to sheer derpyness, Alolan Exeggutor is a Dragon type that only requires grass energy (Most Dragon types require 2 different kinds of energy, or indeed Double Dragon Energy)

20 damage per energy, even one that can choose a target isn’t exactly the best, not is 120+confusion for 4 energy. Low hitpoints and a weakness to the prevalent fairy relegates this into meme deck territory.

SilvallyGXSilvally-GX -The star of the set! The designated Beast Killer accelerates energy while providing free retreat for any basic Pokémon you might have. It also has the ability to change it’s type based on various ‘memory’ tools. So far we have Fighting and Psychic with Electric and Fire arriving in Ultra Prism.

At present it seems that the most difficult part of running Silvally is finding the Type:Null that it evolves from! Thankfully there is now a Silvally-GX box which includes both and some boosters for a reasonable price, which eliminates the issue!

In terms of performance, a deck combining this Pokémon with Steel managed to place highly at London 2017 Regionals as a dedicated ‘anti-meta’ deck. By having a solution to every expected Pokémon type it was able to forge ahead becoming the #2 seed after day 1. However regardless of type, Silvally is weak to fighting and only has 210HP so is relatively fragile in a meta with Lycanroc-GX, Buzzwole-GX and (ironically) Silvally-GX with Fighting Memory.

Ultra Beasts

All Ultra Beasts are Basic Pokémon-GX. However to distinguish them from regular Pokémon-GX their ‘GX’ is highlighted in red (see right). Additionally they also all have the ‘Ultra Beast’ label below their HP which allows for future interactions and support. Ultra Prism features a ‘Beast Ball’ which allows you to retrieve an Ultra Beast from your Prize cards. I would have preferred a search effect (perhaps similar to an Ultra Ball but discarding only 1 card?) but this is what we’ve got.

KKartanaGXartana-GX – Although this comes with a built in Enhanced Hammer effect, its low HP and Fire weakness can make it a 2 prize liability. Thankfully its attack allows it to shuffle back into your deck enabling you to re-use the Slice Off ability.

It’s Blade GX attack simply lets you take a prize which if your opponent is making you play for 7 Prizes could just swing the game right at the end for only [M].

BuzzwoleGXBuzzwole-GX -Possibly the most used of all the Ultra Beasts at the moment, Buzzwole fits in decks as support for Fighting types with Jet Punch hitting the active and a benched Pokémon for 30 damage.

Decent 190 HP for a basic are only let down by a weakness to Psychic types, however  Trashalanche decks are waning in popularity so it may not be a massive liability.

 

NihilegoGXNihilego-GX -Not seeing a lot of play for its attacks which at [P][P][P] are on the prohibitive side, however the Empty Light ability can leave both active Pokémon Poisoned & Confused which synergises well with Chaos Tower.

180HP is solid for a support type Pokémon and the only real drawback is the retreat cost. It certainly is a support Pokémon and needs a deck building around it to get the best of its abilities and attacks.

GuzzlordGXGuzzlord-GX -Much hyped when the card was spoilered mainly due to the massive energy costs for its attacks as well as the high bulk of 210HP on a basic. However even with Eat Sloppily you need to be careful because of the high energy investment required.

Jokes about ‘4 Guzzlord & 56 Energy’ have been bandied around, however even the almost guaranteed 180 damage after an Eat Sloppily isn’t necessarily enough to defeat a more well rounded and balanced deck that has access to Guzma or other field control effects.

Guzzlord is certainly an interesting card, and a fun one at that, however outside of a dedicated deck the costs are prohibitive and even when facilitated the card itself is inflexible, 180 for 5 energy is simply too high of a cost.

These next 3 Ultra Beasts are available only in Special Collection boxes, however we do expect them as Secret Rares / Full Arts in the Ultra Prism set in a manner similar to how Tapu Bulu-GX and Tapu Koko-GX were available first as Box promos and then as Full Art rares.

PPheromosa GXheremosa-GX – Although the attacks are efficiently costed they still have relatively low damage ceilings meaning that this Ultra Beast is outclassed by other Pokémon in the Grass type such as Golisopod-GX.

The weakness to Fire can hurt especially with the relatively low 170HP making this Pokémon more suitable for late game revenge killing via Beauty GX which is essentially the inverse of Salazzle-GX. This attack deals 50 damage per prize card your opponent has taken. Meaning that for only [G][G] you could potentially deal end up dealing 250 damage!

Xurkitree GXXurkitree-GX – The magic christmas tree Pokémon! I quite like it’s design and wish that I could find more use for them. The two main selling points are the Flashing Head ability which walls anything that has special energy attached – and with 7 out of the top 8 London 2017 decks running special energy it’s a good ability. Rumbling wires is poorly costed at [L][L][C], even [L][C][C] would have made it just slightly more playable – 100 damage and discarding a card makes it more useful in a Stall or Mill style deck.

The Lightning GX attack also ties into this theme by allowing you to put a card from your opponent’s hand into their prizes. As with Raichu-GX, the lack of explicit Lightning support prevents it from being a top choice but I remain hopeful that future support will see more Xurkitree love!

Celesteela GXCelesteela-GX – The secret star of the show! I know I harp on about London 2017 Regionals but it was a high tier tournament with lots of interesting deck concepts. No more so than the #2 seed Silvally/Metal ‘Anti-Meta’ deck. In addition many other decks teched in Celesteela-GX to counter the high volume of Gardevoir-GX decks.

With [M]+DCE+Choice Band/another attachment Celesteela-GX can take out a Gardevoir-GX. Additionally the Blaster-GX attack lets you forecast your prizes in addition to dealing a fair amount of damage. The bulky 200HP coupled with an atypical Weakness to Lightning makes this Pokémon a solid play. When combined with Silvally-GX the high retreat cost isn’t an issue and the [F] resistance helps against the odd Lycanroc-GX or Buzzwole-GX you might run unto.

While I love the zaniness of Xurkitree and it’s supported strategy, my favourite of these new sets has certainly been Celesteela-GX. With the dearth of Metal support coming in Ultra Prism it’s a safe card to pick up and know that you’ll get a lot of use from.

 

Expanded League Challenge – Southampton

League Challenge Tournament Report

On Saturday 2nd December I attended our local Pokémon League Challenge held at Nerdworld, Southampton. The last time I played expanded I ran Volcanion/Turtonator and it went quite well.

This time I was equipped with a Night March list that won at San Jose the previous weekend. I choose it since I was used to playing it before I switched to volcanion, but now with Zoroark-GX it seemed unbeatable!

The field seemed relatively diverse with some casual decks as well as a pair of Lycanroc/Zoroark,  another Nightmarch (2 Marshadow, Computer Search) , a couple of Solgaleo/Metagross and

There were 4 Rounds of Swiss, best of one, and I’ll try to give blow by blow coverage of each:

Round 1 -Ryan- Solgaleo/Metagross

The first round to the League Challenge started promptly and I was facing off against Ryan who is relatively new to Pokémon but not to TCGs in general. As the game progressed it emerged that he was playing Solgaleo-GX and Metagross-GX with Shaymin-EX and Magerna-EX as support. Not exactly meta, but no cake-walk either.

I had a start with only 1 basic (Joltik) and a bad hand, so in the back of my mind I was worried that my deck might brick and I’d get donked. With a best of 1 there would be no recovery. However the sheer draw power of Night March from 3 Shaymin-EX meant that I managed to set up.

Ryan played well and was able to take out a couple of my attackers. I was worried about the sheer volume of Hitpoints that his Stage 2 Pokémon had and worried that I’d need to 2 Hit KO (2HKO). A sneaky Kartana also Sliced Off one of my Double Colourless Energys. Thankfully I was able to use Lysandre and Guzma to pick on his Shaymins, Metangs and finally the Kartana to secure the win.

Result: Win

Round 2 -Rachel- Lunala-GX

In round 2 I shimmied up to the adjacent table to face Rachel who is a regular at our league. She was running a Psychic based Lunala-GX deck for this League Challenge.

Rachel started with a Cosmog and another on the bench and was about to bench a Tapu-Lele but I pointed out that the Wonder Tag wouldn’t work unless it was played from her hand, so she held it back to try and get a supporter. Unfortunately her only Brigette was prized so she didn’t manage to get set up as rapidly as she might otherwise have. That said throughout the game Rachel made good use of my Dimension Valley to get more draw support out of the little Cosmogs without the need for energy attachments.

I was able to set up rapidly and proceeded to one-hit KO her un-evolved Cosmogs. I did feel bad at one point for top-decking an N which got rid of a Rare Candy that she had used Skyla to find. I proceeded to KO Pokémon only taking a bit of damage from a Stuffle and losing one nightmarcher to a Tapu-Lele’s Energy Drive which was KO-ed in return to secure a win.

Result: Win

Round 3 -Liton- Lycanroc/Zoroark/Buzzwole

Game 3 was against one of our stronger local players. Liton was running Lycanroc-GX with Zoroark-GX and the Stand In Zoroark too. I knew this game would be tough as the Zoroarks’ Trade ability provide excellent draw support and Lycanroc has type advantage over Zoroark. This combined with the Bloodthirsty Eyes ability makes it a fearsome thing to face off against.

Liton won the dice flip/roll and chose to go first which was fine by me as I was hoping to take a Turn 1 KO if possible. He started with a Buzzwole-GX and I started with a Joltik but soon benched a Pumpkaboo who has type advantage against the Buzzwole. I took a risk to play my DCE onto the Pumkaboo and then tried to get a find my Float Stone in order to take the KO on the Buzzwole due to weakness.

However despite how far I fished into my deck I couldn’t find my floatstone, nor get the Night March count up to enough to allow the Joltik to take out the Buzzwole in one hit. I eventually took it down in 2 hits but that was basically the deciding factor in the game right there. After getting a search off, I realised that my Marshadow and Float Stone were both in prizes which made it difficult.

The match came down to a Bloodthirsty Eyes pulling in some of my weaker components (Shaymin-EX) and Litons’ Zoroark trying to take the knock out. Enhanced Hammers also made my life generally difficult. However despite almost running my deck dry and then drawing until there were only 2 cards left I couldn’t pull ahead and only had one prize left by the time Liton took the victory.

I found that my very last prize was the Float Stone that I needed so there was literally no chance of seeing it in game. This is where the best of 1 format really gutted me. If I didn’t take the risk to fish for the turn 1 KO with Pumpkaboo I would have been that 1 turn ahead on tempo and would have won- just. If I’d had found the float stone I could have 1 hit KOed and been 2 turns ahead. However thems the breaks and while the 30 minute best of 1 format is fast, I much prefer best of 3.

Result: Loss

Round 4 – Andrew- Lurantis/Golisopod

The final round was against Andrew, another of our regulars to the Pokémon League. Running a bespoke Lurantis-GX and Golisopod list that was keenly off meta. Unfortunately for Andrew he didn’t manage to get a Lurantis-GX out in time and my bigger numbers meant that I could take OHKO on his Golisopods – even with their Armor ability.

By consistently applying the pressure and exploiting the massive draw power in the deck I was able to eventually KO all of his Pokémon for a win before he could get established.

League Challenge Summary

Result: 3-1-0

The result was that I came 4th due to resistance – having faced some relatively ‘soft’ opponents meant that my resistance was quite low – 50%. I really needed to win game 3 and due to Swiss system’s random nature it meant that without a perfect record I had no chance of winning or coming in the top 3.  I really would have preferred another round or even just best of 3 which would mean less fluctuation due to sucky prizes or whatever!

The best of 1 meant that some of the 1-counts came up short due to prizing and in game 3 that really hurt. Had I know that it was best of 1 I would have made some different tweaks to the list before hand to improve consistency like I did for the GvC tournament.

I was thankful not to face a single Trevenant since it can really shut down Nightmarch and stop it from getting off the ground. With all of the Zoroarks around though it is a bad play so that checking makes my life easier.

Conclusions:

This was a relatively well run event with approx 17 players (14 masters) and the winners got a Ho-Oh-GX tin each with 4 boosters for 2nd and 2 for 3rd place. I got a 4th place Regigigas promo to live in my folder. (See right, English not Japanese!)

Overall I was happy with my performance but was disappointed in the resistance tie breakers. (3 others were 3-1-0) so another round would have been good since you cannot affect how good or bad your opponents perform. Additionally the best of 1 format really hurt me in game 3.  None of my games went to time so I think that by adding 20 minutes and having a best of 3 the tournament might give the feeling of a better outcome.

That of course is not to say that the winner, Craig, didn’t deserve it! He too was playing Night March but with 2 Marshadow-GX and a Computer Search. I know he had tough games. Additionally fellow #TeamOddish member Ace Trainer Sarah had 4 tough games so deservedly came 3rd due to resistance.

Overall I had a relatively easy ride in 3 out 4 of my games since none of those opponents were playing tough decks, but it felt like I lost the only game that mattered and mostly due to poor prizing which didn’t help!

Our next event is a Pre-Release (hoping to help Judge) and an Expanded League Challenge in January, before a Standard Format League Cup in Feb for which I think the next block (Ultra Prism) might just be legal.

Since I’m still at max non-cup CP for this quarter I can afford to bring a less serious deck and might try and reform my little Sableye troll/mill deck.

Pokémon League – Bag of Holding, Bournemouth

On Sunday 26th November I attended Bag of Holdings‘ first League Challenge in Bournemouth. I am familiar with Bag of Holding as it’s where I usually wargame and have been to other related events.

I was armed with Christopher Schemanske‘s Max Potion ‘Brokenvoir’ list that did really well in London. I choose it since it was the deck I was most comfortable playing. In a couple of games the Max Potion really made the difference since it reset the damage clock and meant that a 2 hit KO now became a 3 hit KO and I could pull ahead in the prize trade.

There were 4 Rounds of Swiss in the League Challenge and I’ll try to give a run through of each:

Round 1 – Ash – Silvally-GX/Mewtwo-GX

Guzma-GalladeThe first game got off to a good start and I was facing an interesting Silvally/Mewtwo deck with some Zoroark-GXs for draw support via the Trade ability. Thankfully Mewtwo’s heavy reliance on energy meant that I could easily knock it out with my Gardevoirs. I did loose a Gardevoir in one game to Mewtwos’ GX attack with a Choice Band. The Silvallys and Zoroarks were also weak to Gallade  who also synergises brilliantly with Guzma which got me the knockouts. Octillery wasn’t prized in any games which helped a lot too and so I won the first round of the Challenge.

Result 2-0 Win

Round 2 -Sarah – Zoroark/Golisopod

Golisopod GXIn round 2 of the League Challenge I faced fellow Sotonian Sarah who was running Zoroark/Golisopod. In testing she had beaten me solid with it because I wasn’t running Max Potions – however this time I was packing a full compliment of Potions.

Game 1 went well with Gallade getting the opportunity to knock out some Zoroarks and the deck ran smoothly in the first game like in the previous round, with the Max Potions helping to ensure I didn’t lose too many Pokémon.

In game 2 my Octillery line was prized and Sarah quickly took out my Kirlias as I was searching for up Gallade. I just couldn’t catch up in time and she took game 2.

Game 3 went smoothly again and I was able to trade 1 prize (Gallade) for 2 prizes (Zoroark) at least once. Sarah shifted her focus to Golisopod which was more of a problem but I was able to use Max Potions to ensure that I was able to survive the next hit and then take the KO for game 3. A tough but friendly game! Result 2-1 Win

Round 3 – Charlie -Golisopod/Zoroark

Game 3 was against another Golisopod-Zoroark Deck. Oddly he didn’t run Tapu Lele but was otherwise running a similar list to Sarah. I figured if I could beat her (she’s a great player) I could manage this. True enough I was able to take out the Zoroarks with Gallade and use Max Potions when necessary.

The games were challenging but nothing particularly unexpected occured and I was able to take both games before time which gave me time to run to the shop and get some precious, delicious caffeine! Result 2-0 Win

At this point there was only 1 other player with a 3-0-0 record but we didn’t get drawn together. (The mysteries of the TOM software are beyond my ken!) So I had to win the next round and hope that his opponent could hold him off long enough!

Round 4 – ??? – Gardevoir

This round was possibly my most apprehensive since I recognised the player as the one who beat me in the GvC  draft and to make matters worse he was playing Gardevoir. So (correctly) I expected tough competition.

Game 1 – Went smoothly with me getting Brigette and Octillery online as well as KOing my Opponents Remoraid. By the time my opponent could get Gardevoirs established I was too far ahead, plus I had potions.

Game 2 – Went terribly with octillery and leles all prized so I was fighting an uphill battle all game. I did manage to get down to 2 prizes but by the time I’d recovered my opponent was too well established. I probably should have scooped to save time and try for the win on game 3. I didn’t and he took game 2. The round was almost a draw but since we were on top table we started game 3.

Game 3 – Could have gone to a donk against me as we started in final time. I Sycamored an otherwise good hand away to fish for an Ultra Ball to get a second Ralts out and on the bench to make sure that it couldn’t happen – sure enough my opponent managed to Rare Candy into a Gardevoir-GX and KO my lone Ralts so I had made the right call and we drew 1-1.

Summary:

In some ways I felt that I should have won game 2 in the final round, it was more down to my deck bricking out rather than any massive tactical decisions by my opponent. He seemed surprised, although I know he is a good player and was able to capitalise. Then again my deck choice is what I have to stand by. Perhaps I should have scooped and started game 3 with more time rather than prolong my only Gardevoir with Max Potions but I didn’t and thankfully it didn’t cost me the tournament.

Result 1-1 Draw

However my rival who also had a 3-0-0 managed to lose his round meaning that I with 3-0-1 I had managed to win my 3rd Challenge in a Row and get max Championship Points for this quarter – barring any League Cups I might be fortunate enough to win.

Conclusions:

This was a well run event with approx 14 players (12 masters) and Bag of Holding gave generous prize support for their first ever League event. I managed to pull 2 foil Magikarp (yay!) and a Full Art Alolan Exeggutor from my boosters as well as getting some snazzy 1st Place Regigigas promos. 🙂

I was overall happy with my performance but I noticed that I made mistakes in Round 4, game 2 such as forgetting to use Premonition off of Gallade which might have meant I could turn it around earlier (or might have prolonged the inevitable?) Being intimately familiar with BoH from wargaming meant that the smack talk from some other, more vocal participants, didn’t phase me and there wasn’t any metal counter-fairy decks to speak of.

The next event is a local League Challenge in the Expanded format. We’re getting a couple of external players who will be bringing their A-game. I was torn between bringing a jokey/meme deck but I guess if there’s prizes and I’m paying to enter I should probably bring my A-game too. Last time this was Volcanion/Turtonator but this time I’m not sure.

Gaming Vs Cancer – Standard League Challenge

Gardevoir-GX

So on 11th November I went with Gardevoir-GX for League Challenge which was being held in aid of Gaming Vs Cancer.

My Decklist was fairly typical for Gardevoir-GX although I’d made a couple of tweaks. I had forgone Max Potions as I’d rather just retreat and would need to reattach energy anyway. I opted to drop float stones as well to include a 4th Sycamore and 4th Guzma instead to add consistency. I figured that  since it was best of 3 games per rounds they would show up that bit more. Indeed topdeckinga Sycamore helped on a couple of occasions. Finally 2 Parallel City were there to help keep my opponents boxed in and to help against any Metagross matchups (which I managed to avoid).

Round 1 – Bye (1-0-0)

Our TO/Head Judge & Assistant Judge pair were late having gotten a bus in literally the opposite direction. So our 9:30am registration was for naught although we got kicked off by 10:30 – except that my first round was a bye since we had an odd number of players! My precious Gardevoir-GX would have to wait! I remained sane by helping out and supervising the Junior/Senior table as things got settled down.

Round 2 – Mirror! (2-0-0)

If my flourescent pink sleeves didn’t give my deck away my opponent soon realised that we were both playing Gardevoir-GX. My 2-2 line of Sylveon-GX really helped as did the extra Guzmas. I managed to pull in the Remoraids with Guzma to stop my opponent from getting Octillery(s) online which I knew would make the deck stall out. Additionally by getting down a Parallel City I managed to lock down my opponents side of the table. Sylveon-GX did most of the heavy hitting to get my prizes. I ended up going 2-0 to win my first round of the day.

Round 3 – Noivern-GX/Zoroark-GX (3-0-0)

Noivern GXMy 2nd game in round 3 was against an off-meta Noivern/Zoroark deck. Item lock and Zoroarks ‘Trade‘ ability proved difficult to enable me to get established since I had poor starts in both rounds. However being resilient to Dark and with Noivern being weak to Fairy, I was able to OHKO the Noivern a couple of times. My opponent ran a Weakness Policy too, which was relevant in the 2nd game particularly.

Additionally a Garbotoxin Garbodor managed to slow me down, but also shut down the Trade ability. Consequently I decided against Field Blower-ing it since it was helping me and I was able to pull ahead by hitting for weakness with Gallade. Hitting Zoroark for weakness was game winning on one occasion – the Guzma being used to serve it up also amplifying Gallade’s attack. I don’t think I actually attacked with Gardevoir-GX at all this round.

zoroark gx

This was probably my toughest match up of the day as there were a couple of occasions where I could have bricked out but the extra Sycamore enabled me to get out of it on one instance, Octillery on another. Being able to hit back for weakness really helped too. The item lock from Noivern was at times difficult and a bother but not impossible to play around. Usually my items are to get me out of a bad spot, but being only hit for 50 damage wasn’t actually too detrimental since I could usually hit back for more.

Round 4 – Raichu-GX/Zoroark-GX (4-0-0)

raichu gx

Disclaimer: my opponent had slightly terrible luck.  We’d played before at Reading League Cup and he really is a lovely opponent.

He was running a Raichu-GX deck with Magnezone and Zoroark. I had a poor start and it took me a couple of turns to get established. Despite my over-energised Gardevoir-GX being GX-ed by an incoming Tapu Koko-GX I managed to hit back with my Gallade for weakness against his Zoroark for the game. The Guzma trick working wonders again!

Game 2 saw me start with a Lele and we ended up N-ing each other a LOT! Despite this I managed to pull ahead with Sylveon-GX and ended up having to Plea-GX to find my last DCE.  Twice – because of N, but eventually it stuck and I Guzma-ed in a Zoroark-GX and OHKOed it with Gallade.

**Result: 4-0-0 for 1st Place!**

I was quite chuffed with the win and really glad that the Bye didn’t come back to bite me in the bum at the end. With other players going 3-0-1 again I knew that I had to win all 3 of my games to have a perfect score. I also didn’t concede any losses with the deck whatsoever which was nice considering how I’d been struggling with it online.

Closing Thoughts

Gallade definitely helps, I’m quite sure the Max Potions are not needed, nor Acerolla – the main strength is to be more consistent (we love you Tord) and therefore get established much more quickly than your opponent. In this regard Octillery is extremely useful – but in the mid/late game – so it’s not hugely required to get him out straight away. I found that getting a Sylveon out to either Magical Ribbon or even just attack for with Fairy Wind 110 was a much more resilient strategy in the early turns.

I avoided any of the 2 (possibly 3?) Metagross decks but I did pack 2 Parallel cities ready to bounce up any Metagrosses with Plea-GX. I also didn’t face Golisopod which was probably my least favourable matchup since they dedicate so much of the deck to controlling the game to hit with First Impressions. From what I could tell there were no fire decks of any sort nor any Greninja.

The cohort from the Isle of Wight were really lovely and had quite a diverse array of decks and playstyles.

galladeTo finish; my MVP for the day was Gallade. He synergized perfectly with Guzma to counter Zoroark-GX on several occasions and won me games as a result. Being a 1 prize attacker he was slightly more expendable and of course the Premonition ability also just helped to round things out. Certainly worth the inclusion.

The only bittersweet part is that now with Crimson Invasion rotating into standard I’m wondering how much of the deck will change (if at all)?  I think that I would like to find room for a Gladeon and Lusamine – perhaps instead of the extra Guzma and Sycamore – since both add consistency in different ways and so will be definite includes in my future deck testing.

But we’ll see – for now bed time!

 

 

 

Viable Pokémon EX/GX In Standard Format

Today I’m going to look at Viable Pokémon EX and GX in the Standard format. Expanded has several gems that shine but they are usually quite niche within their own deck types.

This post idea was partially inspired by a reddit post on r/pkmntcg.

Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends aren’t really discussed since there has not been any major events where they’ve both been legal yet! The next big event will be Internationals at London (which I’m unable to go to this year 🙁 ) When I next do an article on Viable Pokémon it will include these and probably the next set!

Anyway, without further ado –

Viable Pokémon EX:

As per the heading, viable pokemon that are EXs from before the Sun & Moon sets.

Regirock-EX FCO – Used on the bench to add +10 damage. However Fighting isn’t featuring heavily at the moment and even then there’s usually better ways to get more damage that doesn’t rely on an ability in a Garbotoxin meta.

Volcanion-EX STS – Volcanion is a whole archetype by itself. Heavily used for the ‘Steam Up’ ability in Volcanion/Turtonator but also in Ho-Oh/Salazzle for the added damage.

Darkrai-EX BKP – Rarely used in standard at the moment but still a key component of a Darkrai based deck.

Espeon-EX BKP – Used as a 1 of tech in certain decks (Espeon-GX/Garb or Drampa-GX/Garb) for the devolving attack. Often seen in decks with Po Town since re-evolving means another round of damage counters.

 

Pokémon-GX that ‘never’ see competitive play:

Never is a strong word but at the moment it seems correct! This may change in the future of course, but for the moment these aren’t seen as competitivly viable Pokémon.

Kommo-o is possibly the only ‘non-viable’ card on the list due to lack of Double Dragon Energy but the rest are not very competitive or are relatively lack lustre in the current state of the game. Arguably ‘counter energy’ from Crimson Invasion works as DDE although it’s a bit more conditional than the traditional DDE. The Prism Quad Energy might also work but is still a corner case.

Incineroar GXCharizard, Machamp, Lunala, Incineroar, Tsareena, Primarina, Snorlax & Beware – just don’t really bring enough awesomeness to the table to justify their inclusion compared to other GX’s out there.

Toxapex – people want it to work but it is rather clunky and the 3 Psychic attack cost is prohibitive.

Umbreon – a tricksy card with some interesting effects on its attacks. However sadly it loses out on raw power compared to other ‘mons and also on utility compared to Sylveon or Espeon. The low damage output for the energy investment leaves Umbreon a relatively uncompetitive choice outside of a dedicated energy denial deck.

Noivern – I want to like this card since it is Seismitoad 2.0 but lack of DDE and odd colour requirements (Psychic and Dark) means that for the moment it’s relegated to the sidelines. Update: I did end up facing one at our League Challenge which was interesting. Weakness to Fairy does hurt though!

Random off-meta/rogue Pokémon-GX:

These are Pokémon-GX that are not terrible, or only feature as an option in some main decks, or feature as a counter to certain other decks.

Wishiwashi, Marshadow – they may have a use but are better in expanded decks where they can be a little bit more viable.

Raichu – People are trying to make it work and it is a Stage 1 compared to Gardevoir-GX being a stage 2. (Also early days since it is from Shining Legends.)

Gumshoos – counters Gardevoir-GX and was included in some finalists decks recently for that very reason.

Alolan Muk – Needs a deck built around its conditions and a way to capitalise on them. Could pair well with Raticate BREAK.

Darkrai – Part of the Darkrai deck, also works in expanded.

LaprasLapras GX – Can be the centre of a deck based on water toolbox, stall/wall or other variants.

Solgaleo – not in the ‘never’ pile because it counters Gardevoir and has a decent ability and GX attack. Still quite niche, paired with Metagross. The new one in January will be the killer.

Lycanroc – the literal rogue deck, bloodthirsty eyes is a free Lysandre effect while the GX attack can punish an unaware opponent. Combine with Regirock-EX for much lolz! This card has become popular as a partner with Zoroark-GX as it also counters enemy Zoroarks.

Vikivolt – can be included in Vikivolt/Bulu as a backup attacker.

 

Supporting Pokémon-GX:

Thoroughly Viable Pokémon that are included in some deck types as a 1 or 2 count or as a secondary attacker in competitive decks.

Tapu FiniTapu Fini GX – a vicious GX attack and colourless main attack make this a useful tech in decks that run rainbow energy such as GoliGarb or Drampa/Garb.

Espeon – combine with Garb for a Psychic shenanigans deck. Turn 1 Eevee to Espeon and hit with the Confuse Ray is a solid play.

Tapu Koko – fits into Vikivolt/Bulu or some people replace the Bulu all together. Can jump in late game, steal all the energy and hit you when you least expect it. Like most of the Tapu-GXs it has no weakness.

Necrozma Necrozma GX Burning Shadows– Included for Black Ray GX – if you think its worth 3 energy. Cat sticks this in Golisopod to put pretty much everything in One Hit KO range. Also good in expanded thanks to Dimension Valley reducing the cost of it’s attacks.

Decidueye – fallen out of favour but still viable, especially in baby Alolan Ninetales decks. 99% of the time its for Feather Arrow.

Lurantis – used to be combined with Golisopod, though fallen out of favour at the moment.

Tauros – features more in Expanded I think, but some decks include it for its versatility of 3 different attacks for a DCE. Gets stronger as it gets injured which is nice too!

Sylveon – although a decktype by itself (Quad Sylveon Box), it used to feature heavily in Gardevoir decks. The Energy Eeveelution ability and Magical Ribbon ability for 1 Fairy energy makes this a great Turn 1 play (especially if you go 2nd!)

Archetype Defining Pokémon-GX:

These aren’t just Viable Pokémon, these GX’s are so good that they have a whole deck archetype centred around them!

Tapu Bulu – (Vikivolt/Bulu) Extremely consistent damage and setup with some built in resilience in the form of a healing GX attack. Probably the lower end of the top tier but one you have to be able to beat.

Metagross – It hard-counters Gardevoir although it’s not guaranteed since Gardevoir is more consistent. It can be clunky and brick up if things go wrong. The max 180 damage cap is also quite painful although this is easier to swallow with 250hp and Max Potions. Includes lots of switcheroos to get rid of the ‘can’t attack next turn’ penalty.

Gardevoir – Arguably the best deck in format at the moment. Has optional techs to improve consistency (Sylveon, Octillery) and hits for ‘bigger-numbers-that-you’ almost all of the time. However it is still beatable and not an easy deck to ‘pilot’ requiring skill to use effectively. I’ve tried testing it many times and I still lose because I’m not very good at using it yet! Update: I managed to go 4-0-0 at a league Challenge with this on 11/11/17

 

Golisopod Golisopod GX– relatively tough stage 1 that has several attack options. Most of the time it’s hitting for 120 for 1 Grass which is excellent value for energy. Needs the deck built around supporting it but still has room for things like Garbodor and even promo Tapu Koko for free retreating shenanigans.

 

 

Turtonator /Ho-Oh/Salazzle Ho Oh Gx Burning Shadows– A variety of the fire archetypes, usually includes some Volcanion-EX to help with the damage output. Turtonator vs Ho-Oh is more of a meta call, there’s almost no electric in the format (yet) but Ho-Oh does need 4 energy to properly attack compared to Turtonators 3, AND Ho-Oh can’t use the big attack next turn. Salazzle an option for late game KOs when you get down to your last couple of prizes and need to pull ahead.

 

Ninetales – another 210 hp stage 1 with decent attacks. The support that water has is really good with aqua patch so it can power up quickly. The Ice Path GX damage swap can also help keep you going. Usually includes a baby Alolan Ninetales to help against pesky EX/GX decks. Needs to watch out for Metagross though!

Drampa – There’s very little fighting in the meta at the moment so weakness isn’t an issue – exceptions being Gallade in Gardevoir, Lycanrock-GX in Zoroark and Buzzwole-GX. A good early game GX attack to net you 10 cards is helpful and it has a variety of partners in the game. Drampa can also be splashed as a tech in quite a few decks and can be quite threatening as a result. Probably the most played of these cards outside of a dedicated deck archetype for good reason.

The 99%:

3 Lele Expanded

It’s worth mentioning in an article about Viable Pokémon – Tapu Lele-GX

Almost all competitive decks have 2-4 (usually 3) copies of Tapu Lele-GX because it’s that good (broken!) Literally its only flaw is its’ 170HP. It has no weakness and an excellent retreat cost of 1.

The Power Drive attack only requires 1 DCE and in a format where a lot of energy is required it can really punish an opponent. Especially against things like Gardevoir GX or Fire decks. I have ‘donked’ several opponents who have played a 60hp Pokémon (eg Alolan Vulpix) attached an energy. My turn I attach a DCE and then hit for 60 for KO. Not a common occurrence, but still occasional enough that even starting with it isn’t the end of the world.

The Wonder Tag ability alone enables several strategies involving things like Kiawe for fire types or Bridgette for decks that require a rapid set up. As long as you have access to a Tapu Lele-GX (or the means to get one via an Ultra Ball for example) then you can get established quickly.

The only real downside is the financial cost, however this is beginning to drop (as I think it’s hitting saturation point) and since it can be used in all of your decks it’s worth investing in. I do need to do an article about actual real-world costs at some point soon. However the very fact that you can use it in any of your decks means that it’s not a wasted investment if you play  at all competitively.

Too soon to say:mew2

The new Crimson Invasion (CRI) and Shining Legends hasn’t really been tested in the crucible of battle yet although Zoroark-GX is looking popular and I’m sure people will be gunning to use the new Ultra Beasts where possible. More will be revealed in the upcoming London Internationals I’m sure!