So real life has been quite busy lately and after the 3-tournament bender I’ve not really been at my local league for a few weeks- although that changed last Saturday. Although the day was glorious, it was nice and air conditioned in Nerd World and I hadn’t played cards in a little while so I was itching!
Helping The Next Generation
I ended up helping one of the seniors with his deck construction for the League Cup next week (I can’t attend due to Birthday reasons). The conversation sort of came down to ‘Don’t play Zoropod/Goligarb if you have 1 Lele and 1 Brigette – play a deck that requires 1 Lele – like Buzzwole!’
In this instance, the limiting factor for him is access to specific cards – namely Tapu Lele-GX & more than 1 Brigette. However this same person has a SR Lele and Ultra Ball – and isn’t a serious or organised collector. In my mind it would be better to trade your £50-70 SR Lele for 2 playable regular ones because you’ll get more mileage out of them. Obviously his choices are his own, and I’ve not been 14 for a long time so I forget the logic. I did explain this to him, and he might take it on board, although I guess if you’re reading this you too know the curse of ‘shiny cardboard syndrome’!
Anyway, he was invested in Goli/Garb but without the fundamental components. I see this a lot at our local league – someone will spend £50 on say 3 Gardevoir-GX but not on a Lele (or 2) because their deck is ‘A Gardevoir Deck’ and not ‘A Lele Deck’. The same people overlook the vital components- playsets of staples such as Ultra Ball, N, Cynthia, Guzma, Sycamore, 2-3 of Brigette, Skyla and Acerola, but have awesome Pokémon.
Awesome Pokémon – in decks that fail to work because they haven’t seen the need to invest in staples that can be used in literally *every* deck that they could build. I just don’t get it. I have explained it at length to kids and several adults at league and they still don’t get it. It could be the sunken cost fallacy – they’ve bought their playset of Buzzwole but don’t want to spend more to make it work ‘because it’s crap’ (but then buy 3-4 Zoroarks to shift to that deck). I’m not a social scientist so human behaviour baffles my mind!
Then there’s the financing issue which I get being an unemployed hobo myself (turns out teaching and panic attacks aren’t a good mix!) but there’s a thing called trading. I’m not sure that its emphasised enough (it *is* in the title of the game!!) -suffice to say if you open packs eventually you pull something that someone else wants. Although what seems to happen is that the ‘Gollum tendencies’ come out and we get attached to the full art or secret rare or whatever – even though we literally have no use for it. Again this is fine, people have free will to attach whatever values to whatever pieces of cardboard with pictures of cartoon animals that they want. We all do it. But don’t do it and complain that you can’t ‘afford’ Leles when you buy an ETB or 10 packs a week because that’s just dumb.
Anyway, this senior, his local league competition is stiff, and two in particular don’t have the same limitations in terms of access to cards (or $!) that he does. The real world strikes again. His rivals can build most meta-relevant decks, and relish in crafting their decks to beat this guy since his skill level is probably on a par with them, it’s just that his deck isn’t. So they tend to choose decks based on what he’s playing to the point that at league when he asked for some advice about a deck he’d been brewing they literally come over to have a nose (or a scout?). They see his Golisopod-GX, and then say ‘Lol Ho-Oh Kiawe next week’ to try and rattle him. They know he can’t respond with ‘Lol Greninja to you, now bugger off!’ because he doesn’t have Greninja, and if he did they could just bring Bulu anyway. They have Rock Paper and Scissors, he only has Rocks. At the end of the day they’re kids being kids it happens, but when someone doesn’t want to share a decklist they need to respect that boundary. They didn’t and that slightly ticks me off.
So we’re practicing and I explain why the deck needs 4 Ultra Ball (yes Heavy ball gets some bits but….!), 2-3 Lele and 2 Brigettes to be able to set up and get out of sticky situations via Ultra Ball – Lele – Sycamore (or whatever). We swapped over and he seemed to have a good handle on running Buzzwole. So long sotry short he’s running my fully loaded Buzzwole deck. I don’t like people being obnoxious or unsportsmanlike and felt this guy needed a chance so this time I hope Superfly catches them by surprise and puts another notch in the trophy belt.
Forbidden Light Playtesting
I then managed to squeeze in some games against VoluntaryReboot with her neo-BuzzRoc against Malamar/Ultra Necrozma/Dusk-Wings (neo-Eels?). It was good fun and I can see why Psychic is going to be a thing, but also how Buzzwole has gotten even better – despite not actually managing to get a Beast Ring to work in our 3 games.
While Forbidden Light isn’t legal until after the next event, it’s still nice to get playtesting early and give ideas a solid test.
This will probably be the last entry for another little while as the next two weekends are busy – but I’m not gone anywhere, blog posts will return!
Firstly I really meant to change my decklist after 3 League Cups because I’m not after a mat or points or anything now. My thought was pointed towards ‘TordPod’ because it has a good balance of matchups (no Bulu autoloss and there’s not much fire at the moment) but while I love Golisopod, I struggled to achieve the results comparable to Buzzwole in early testing. So for League Cup 4 I stuck with the Superfly. Again you can snag a copy of the list I used here.
My primary reason for change is that Bulu is a very bad matchup for Buzzwole and there’s been at least a 10% Bulu turnout at each event. Primarily I’ve been wondering about running a different deck with better odds against it. It accelerates faster and more reliably than Elixirs, and can heal. Additionally almost everyone is teching in Mew-EX or Mewtwo to kill off Buzzwole.
Fellow Team Oddish-er VoluntaryReboot, was running a Gardevoir variant which I think was a good choice although I know she didn’t get a lot of practice (and Gardevoir has a lot of moving parts which can go wrong…)
This tournament was taking place in Bag of Holding, my Friendly ‘local’ (30 miles away) Gaming Store. I know the owners and manager really well from wargaming (and previous Pokémon events of course!) They run a good show, in a well lit and comfortable environment.
Round 1 – Lucario/Zoroark (Dan)
Dan is local to Bournemouth and was playing a Lucario-GX/Zoroark build. Dan is quite talkative and friendly and although I like a bit of banter we needed to keep focused on the game. Lucario/Zoroark is a good match up for me since the benefit of Lucario (OHKO Zoroark) is irrelevant.
We had to call a judge when my opponent tried to use Brooklet Hill to get a look through his bench despite a full bench but otherwise I was able to get a 2-0 victory and we’d started playing a 3rd friendly game.
Round 2 – Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt (Demetrius)
In contrast to Dan from round 1, Demetrius was more reserved and had travelled some distance to the cup, hunting CPs. He was playing Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt (without Rare Candies but with balls). Also running Brigette and Skyla, so accordingly was able to get setup fairly rapidly.
As mentioned earlier, Bulu is a tough matchup, my only chance of success is to play perfectly, hope they brick slightly and kill the Vikavolts. And despite all of that a fully powered bulu can easily OHKO me, or heal while I struggle to recover.
So needless to say I got killed in round 1, I had managed to set up an exchange but my opponent was too far ahead in prizes. I had terrible outcomes in round 2 – at this point in the tournament I had hit zero elixirs. My deck also bricked and I needed to use Lycanroc who gets OHKOed while returning 2 prizes.
As mentioned unless they miss a beat or their deck does ‘Bulu things’ it is all but impossible for Buzzwole to pull ahead. There’s also no one or even two card specific tech that makes it a better matchup – unlike say Mew-EX which almost everyone techs against Buzzwole.
Round 3 – D.Mane Necrozma/Silvally (Ryan)
Ryan is local to Bournemouth but also visits our League in Southampton a fair amount. I remember having a close game in an expanded League Challenge (best of one though) a few months ago so wasn’t going to get complacent.
As you can see to the right Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX can hit for 250 for 3 energy with Sun’s Eclipse GX or 220 for 4 (but loose 3 energy) with Meteor Tempest. So acceleration really helps this deck and keeps it flowing.
Silvally also helps to counter some meta encounters with memory tools, and supports the rest of the deck by allowing your basics to retreat for free and its attack also accelerates energy. So on paper a good deck. However I’ve tested it and I’m still not convinced. Couple this with the Sudowodo ‘Watch and Learn‘ attack meaning I can copy Meteor Tempest for 2 energy on Sudowodo for a return KO.
Anyway, I managed to work around the energy build up and was able to take down the Silvally due to weakness – even if it’s Psychic type due to ‘Psychic Memory’ tool, its weakness to Fighting doesn’t change. So with slow building metal and Fighting weak normal I was able to pull ahead 2 games to win the round.
Round 4 – D.Mane Necrozma/Magnezone (Luke 1)
At this stage to get in to top cut I knew I’d need another win at least and my opponent was in a similar position. I played Luke running Magnezone/Necrozma. This opponent, is termed ‘Luke 1’ because I faced 2 consecutively, and since I’m rubbish with names, let alone surnames, they are playfully termed ‘Luke 1’ and ‘Luke 2’ (sorry Lukes!!)
The Magnezone deck is similar to Bulu in that it uses a stage 2 to accelerate energies onto a big attacker, in this case Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX. Luke was also running Mt. Coronet which lets a player recover 2 discarded energys from discard to the hand – and presumably attach straight away with the Magnetic Circuit ability.
Unfortunately the deck requires even more moving parts than Vika/Bulu and so can brick even more easily. My ability to play my own Stadium over Coronet helped slow down the power up. The Sudowodo Watch and Learn attack also put in work copying that nasty 220 attack for only 2 energy. It also has a ‘soft counter’ to Buzzwole since a benched Magnezone can’t take bench damage from a Jet Punch which made my job harder but not impossible.
In fairness to Luke his deck bricked hard in game 1, not even getting a single Rare Candy & Magnezone up and running. Additionally my Elixirs actually hitting didn’t help his situation and I was able to take game 1. We had loads of time and shuffled up for game 2. I was getting a bit wobbly (yay Diabetes!) and had to nibble some food but I don’t think I misplayed in any major way while this was going on.
My opponent was getting a little stressed, I guessed from the total bricking of the deck in the first round, so I assured him to take his time rather than misplay as we had enough time. He played well and got a Magnezone online. via Rare Candy. I think I managed to disrupt it a turn earlier with an N but I hit zero elixirs (yay back to normal!) and rapidly got demolished since Luke 1 managed to keep me from jumping ahead until his deck fell into place.
We started game 3, but it rapidly went to time, there wasn’t really any way for either of us to take six prizes. if I did something *crazy* and it worked I possibly could have taken 3 and accordingly I would guess that if literally everything went right for Luke he might have been able to take 2 KOs, probably for 4 prizes. But there was no way either of us were going to manage to get 6 prizes in time. So we shook after some well fought games with a tie.
Round 5 – Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (Luke 2)
So it turns out that Luke travelled from Southampton too, studying but had come with a different player he knows from back home in London. I hope we see him at other events.
His deck was Zoroark-GX with both types of Garbodor, trashalanche and garbotoxin. Combined with bursting balloons and lot of tech cards I knew this wouldn’t be easy. Having both type advantage and weakness really makes the game interesting!
Fortunately in game 1 the 2nd trashalanche Garbodor was prized so I managed to kill off the relevant one and then pick off Zoroarks to win.
Game 2 was a lot different. I had to Prof. Sycamore a hand of tools away to avoid getting donked which meant that I was now in deep for Trashalanche which was obviously bad, but on the positive side meant that more tools couldn’t really make things any worse! Getting trades online and flying through his deck Luke managed to get down to 1 prize before I was in a position to even take any.
Being hit for weakness by a 1 prize attacker for 1 energy spells bad news for any deck, but that coupled with the draw engine of Zoroark and my brick start meant that game 2 was a write off. I probably should have conceded and tried for a game 3 win but it was long in the day and we started and almost immediately were in time. Luke made a long play to possibly try and go for an Acid Spray + Choice Band to get a KO but it didn’t work out and so similar to the previous round we shook on well fought and deserved tie.
Overall positioning: 7/18
Like an idiot I thought ‘yay top 8’ but of course it was a Top 4 cut due to only being 18 Masters! Voluntary Reboot came 6th and got 3 boosters, I got 2 and neither of us pulled anything useful. I did buy 2 in the store for Cat but when I got home she pulled a UPR Magerna and Fairy Tapu Lele. Lord Helix wasn’t really with us!
. We hung around to play some casual games and do some trades. I managed to offload my promo-Buzzwoles and got a few more things for collection and potential meta-decks. Additionally I got some nice tips on how to work Golisopod from Ben Short so that will probably be my play for the next time I’m attending an event. I’ve met Ben a few times and he seems lovely, but have yet to play him at an event.
Despite the poor pulls, and middle of the road tournament results, the event was quite fun overall. It was great to see the BoH team and play some stimulating and challenging games in a familiar environment
I don’t know if that makes sense. I can only liken it to when I was a kid, if I wanted to just relax I’d play Sonic 3 & Knuckles – I could do it backwards (and still can!), whereas if I wanted a challenge, no matter how many times I played it, Comix Zone was always something I had to focus on. Pokémon can be like that, games can be easy or hard, and the environment can be oppressive or friendly; there’s a lot of variables which can influence your enjoyment. Some people just want fun games casually to relax and shoot the breeze others want to really exercise that muscle between their ears and make it stronger!Today was a happy mix of the two which is just what I needed after the previous weekend’s 3 Cup bender!
So after doing a little well at Eastbourne League Cup yesterday we were bitten by the bug. We were given a recommendation that another League Cup was on the next day at Bexhill – and that it was near Eastbourne (so I’m told – I have the geographical awareness of a Wobuffet) With the addition of Ya Boy Tony we set out for Bexhill like the mad fools that we are!
So Famous Collectables is eclectic in the best possible way. Literally packed to the rafters with everything TCG related (boosters, boxes, sleeves of every type) to collectables (e.g. Star Trek merc, Dr Who, Digimon, Plushies, a *bit* of Pokémon!!) If you’re ever in the area do check them out – the store is a community hub and is a welcoming place. Although Friday & Saturday were well run by great clubs, these weren’t in stores and this atmosphere was certainly different, but in a great way, and a nice environment (if a little cosy!) for a League Cup.
The judging staff were on point – friendly and approachable, time was open (tablets on a shelf which is low cost and a great idea), and the staff were particularly welcoming. I was particularly impressed at how the store owner/organiser came and said hello to anyone who wasn’t local before the tournament. It’s just those little things that make you feel welcome and part of a community and everyone was great! So if you’re reading guys thank you very much. I’m looking forward to the next time I can get to your events.
This is also part of the Three Cups in Three Days series where we hit 3 different League Cups over consecutive Friday, Saturday & Sunday in April like the mad fools that we are!
Round 1 – Zoro/Roc (Nitish – again!)
My opponent from yesterdays final! I won’t lie I was nervous. Thankfully I didn’t brick my Oricorio (or rather the Brooklet Hills!) and was able to pull ahead, largely thanks to typing advantage. However I did manage to win 2 straight games, which was nice as it proved to myself that it wasn’t just a fluke or anything. As I mentioned before Nitish is highly communicative and I enjoy playing against him, I expected him (correctly!) to do well, but I think he got knocked out in Top Cut.
Round 2 – Zoro/Roc (Sam)
I’d seen Sam at a few events around Portsmouth and recognised him. He was playing Zoroark/Lycanrock which on paper is a good match up but doesn’t mean that it’s by any means easy. My opponent is a skilled player and I had to us all of my Guzmas, Max Elixir + Multi-Switch and Bloodthirsty Eyes shenanigans to get the wins. I think game 2 went to time but I was up one game and ahead on prizing so I managed to win another round and was 2 for 2.
Round 3 – Zoro/Weavile
For some reason (tough competition?, odd match ups?) not many others had gone 2-0-0. Zoroark I can deal with but the Weavile shenanigans was a bit of an unknown quantity. Made worse was the arrival of Mew-EX early on, copying Evil Admonition and the deck was running regular Zoroark BREAK for it’s 1 Dark Foul Play attack.
However, type advantage really helped in this game since everything except the Mew and any Leles were weak to my Lycanrocs and Buzzwoles. Of course my spicy Oricorio tech came in (and I hate to use this word) ‘Clutch’ and OHKO the Mew which is always a nice surprise to be able to spring out on an unsuspecting victim. Of course it crumbles to anything vaguely dark looking but did it’s job.
The second game was both easier and harder. My opponent knew my deck, but I knew (roughly) my opponents deck. I targeted the Sneasels early with Jet Punch so that Mew-Ex wouldn’t have anything to copy and avoided playing uncessessary cards with abilities to keep the Evil Admonition at a minimum. It only needed 3 or 4 abilities – say a Lele, Regirock, Lycanroc and Octillery on bench (not an unreasonable mid game state) to be hit for 200 with literally one energy. That isn’t something you can permit if it can be avoided, so while I like Rogue-GX it didn’t make an appearance this game. Thankfully the meta-call of Fighting was good and paid dividends here.
Round 4 – Greninja (Charlie)
Being the only person on 3-0-0 at the time I was in a position to ID to top cut but none of my opponents were so we girded ourselves for a game of frogs. An issue with playing against frogs is that it can just shut down your deck and slowly slowly kill you while you are left dead-drawing. That’s it’s usual plan anyway.
Game 1 started well for me but I made the mistake of not knowing that I was against frogs due to an Espeon-EX start on my opponent’s side. Although I accelerated quickly and ran ahead to 2 prizes (story of my life!) he got the frogs setup and once my main Buzzwole went down it was a case of polishing me off with Water Shurikens and a well placed Moonlight Slash. So we shuffled up for game 2.
Greninja games take some amount of time and results in a lot of drawn matches so my opponent was playing really really fast. However I feel that it’s important to consider your moves carefully, especially when a misplay can cost you a game but we got underway on game 2.
Early 130 damage on a Lele became relevant in the last turn of play as again I accelerated while this time the frogs were a tiny bit slower off the mark. Another annoyance about frogs is their ability to recycle the whole set of Greninja (Froakie, Frogadier, Greninja & BREAK) via Splash Energy. If something has Splash Energy and is KOed it goes back to its owners’ hand although the splash energy is lost. This allows the frog player to keep cycling through frogs. Combine that with a zero retreat cost and high bulk (130+ HP) on Greninja and you have a surprisingly robust deck.
Again out game came down to the wire and I could see that my opponent was getting frustrated- he needed a ‘win an in’ so this match was important. All through the game he had been making sure not to discard too many Pokémon, partially due to splash energy. Things didn’t work out however as he may have forgotten or just misplayed by discarding an excess Greninja for 2 energy to Water Shuriken with Starmies ‘Space Beacon‘ ability. Although I was 1 turn away from defeat I ended up using my Oricorio to put four damage counters onto the early-game damaged Lele for victory. We started round 3 in final time (0+3 turns).
Round 3 consisted of mostly of draw-pass and since there was no way to donk or claim multiple prizes I just focused on not being donked myself. So we ended in a tie. This meant that depending on my opponent I might this time be able to ID into top cut (and take a break!)
Round 5 – ??? (Jake)
Jake had won his previous ‘win & in’ so was happy to ID. We embraced after such a tough game and had a break. He seemed nice so was hoping to see him in the final. Meanwhile I previous opponent was Frogginating VoluntaryReboot =(
I took a break and hit the lower end of the tables to chill out and get away from the intensity. The atmosphere was great but I needed some quieter space to check blood sugars, take insulin and get some food! (I have T1 Diabetes, I don’t just shoot up for the funzies!)
At the end of round 5 Sarah had unfortunately lost to Frogs for a Win & In (although if they IDed they might have gotten in) and Tony had also managed to get into top cut with Lucario/Zoroark which was great.
Overall positioning: 1st/2nd seed- Top Cut!
So this was the 2nd time in as many days that I’d hit top cut. Mercifully frogs were paired against each other which meant at least one would be out.
I ended up matched with Jason playing Gardevoir with potions (aka Brokenvoir) It’s a deck I’ve played and I know not to underestimate by any stretch despite it’s fall from favour. Jason was a bit nervous so I was happy to just give him time so that he didn’t misplay or anything. I’d rather play my opponents best game than win because they made an unwilling mistake due to external pressures – actual misplays are fair game of course!
I was able to knobble his bench thanks to Jet Punch, Strong Energy and Dwayne the ‘Regirock’ Johnson combo. He did get a Garde online but only after having to ditch a couple of potions. That extra 10 HP on Buzzwole also means that 6 energy isn’t enough – and I’m only providing one of that so when the Gardevoir does go down, it takes half of the decks energy with it. Game 1 I managed to get ahead by targeting the softer elements as much as I could and then GXing for KO when a Gardevoir finally came up. The resources required to setup a Gardevoir are massive compared to getting a Rogue GX (4 cards, 1 evolution step) or even a Buzzwole GX (also 4 cards) – Gardevoir is also 4 cards to setup (Ralts-Stage1-Garde+Energy) but 2 evolution steps -unless you rare candy but that makes the odds more complex. By focusing down on early disruption I pulled ahead.
In game 2 my opponents deck did the Gardevoir thing and bricked. It bricked HARD. From playing this with all of the various moving parts inside Gardevoir not getting that out can leave you floundering with a big hand and very little to show for it. I was able to pull out the win before it recovered to get to top 4! At this point I was happy but really tired. Still Top 4 was a good achievement so far!
This time I was against Jake who I’d IDed with in round 5. He seemed lovely and was playing the mirror. He played smarter and better than I and was running Mew-EX instead of Oricorio. My Elixirs decided it was home time and my Oricorio kept getting shunted to the bench to die to the follow through from Jet Punch (no resistance on the bench!)Most of my games involved trying to dodge his OHKO Mew-EX
At one point I was getting a bit hypoglycemic and cracked out the Oreos. So now Oricoreo is a thing. Sorry people! All of these factors contributed to me getting properly smashed and loosing 2 games. However throughout the games we were having such fun. My opponent at one point played promoted Remoriad to use Ion Pool to discard it preventing me from using Oricorios attack. It was a brilliant, and hilarious move in a great series of games.
I know he went on to scoop in the final to his opponent for the mat as he wasn’t after the Stuttgart invite/bye which is fair enough.
So I made top cut again and came 3rd overall which isn’t a bad set of results. After the weekend I’m sitting on just over 150CP which is much more than my target of 100CP! Looking at my win/loss ratio on Pokemon.com I’m about 25th in the country which is pretty cool too although I’m sure that will change after Expanded Regionals in Germany next weekend.
It seems that it took Friday to get back in the swing of things, I did great on Saturday and not at all badly on Sunday.
Next week there’s a League Cup in Bournemouth held by my ‘local’ Gaming Store ‘Bag of Holding‘ – if you’re into board games or wargames (or TCGs obviously!) and are nearby do check them out. I will write up that and I know that before I go I will consider taking a different deck. Stay tuned to find out what I brought and how I did!
As quick aside : BoH are also planning to run some VCG in the near future too if that’s more your thing. The team there are brilliant and I’ve been going there a while so it will be nice to see them, some familiar faces and some new faces next week!
Thanks to Nitish for alerting us to the cup, and of course the Judges Kasha, Grant & Chris as well as James from Famous Collectables for a well organised, welcoming and fun environment. They were all amazing.
Finally thanks to Voluntary Reboot, the crazy Pokémaniac that she is, whose’ dedication to the game is inspiring and encouraging, who’s only getting better and is hungry for those CPs!
So I’ve been ‘out of the game’ for about a month, give or take, due to life’s happens – I’m getting married in 2020 and had to visit venues, family visits, Easter weekend & illness meant 4 weekends of no Pokémon. #sadpanda. I got a bit rusty – but rust can be made into thermite!
I’m going to write up each Cup separately and then link them below – so skip to those links if you want! You can also grab a copy of the Buzzwole/Lycanroc decklist to follow along or to try yourself.
Many thanks to my testing partner and fellow Irish-Sotonian VoluntaryReboot who is the brain behind most all of my decks lists. I’ll put it this way: I’ll do a ‘spicy’ 58 card version of the deck, and suck horribly until I make it a 60 card copy of her version!
Overall, while tough – Friday, overnight stay at travel-lodge into Saturday and then early start for Sunday, – it was a fun roadtrip(s) which was worth doing at least once. I might be 31 but a Pokémon weekend is still a good laugh and it was great to meet some new people, see some old people and put faces to names.
I know I am going to be absolutely ruined physically for the rest of the week due to the energy exertions, and it’s not something I’d do again lightly, but the experience was worth having. I’d thoroughly recommend it- even if, like me, you’re not chasing CP or invites or whatever, just crunching a solid few days of high level play against some literally world class opponents really tests you skill, endurance and determination!
Finally before the good stuff just to reiterate to the judges an organisers of these events: they were all on top form. Each place was different, in a different environment with different judges and a different feel, but in no way were any of them disorganised or anything but the epitome of courteous and professional. Without them, their time and effort, we couldn’t have these amazingly run events to attend.
So if Jamie, Stephen & Kasha, or any of their numerous helpers, table judges and support staff happen to be reading this: thank you very much for all of your hard work and effort. It really shows and is much appreciated.
You can click the names below to jump the tournament report or click ‘Facebook’ to reach the relevant Leagues’ Facebook page.
Originally this was supposed to be a write up of 2 different Expanded League Challenges (Southampton & Bournemouth) however due to family commitments I wasn’t able to make either of them. So instead I’m going to give a quick run down of Standard vs Expanded and which might be best for your community.
A disclaimer: I’m not that worried what format is played per se, I’ve got 2 copies of most relevant ACE Spec. cards and can field most meta-relevant decks in each format. So it’s not a case of ‘waagh no cards’!
Standard & Expanded
Since 2014 the Expanded format has been from Black & White onwards which covers a fair range of cards including the infamous ACE Spec. cards. Any given newly released set might only have a couple of cards relevant to Expanded, cards which are sometimes ‘unusable’ in Standard format can find life in an expanded deck.
Standard, by contrast to Expanded, rotates about 4 sets every year – I would imagine by August 2018 that we’ll jump to Sun & Moon (SM1) onwards. Additionally each new set tends to shake up the metagame significantly, although not all sets are created equally. Guardians Rising’s Tapu Lele-GX significantly shook up things as did Gardevoir. Buzzwole from Crimson Invasion is possibly the only relevant Pokémon in the set!
Our local league is Expanded format. The reasoning given is that it allows for more variety of deck and a wider range of cards to be played. Supposedly this makes it easier for new players to play. However most of the people who turn up don’t have meta-relevant decks anyway and those that do tend to be geared towards Standard format. Those who do bring really old cards are still told that they can’t play them. Additionally newer players will not have bought any non-Standard cards so now in order to compete they need to search for things like VS Seekers, Battle Compressors, Blacksmith, Dark Patch or whatever makes their deck work. Most do not have these.
The store that hosts the league also sells Standard format cards, with the exception of Zoroark-GX boxes, nothing is massively relevant to the expanded format. While the current top Expanded decks have many similarities to Standard meta decks (namely the Pokémon) the supporters and trainers are usually quite niche and not available in store.
Accordingly, I don’t think that expanded is actually more accessible for newer players. Most new players only have more recent cards and then they have to start looking to get ACE Specs, VS Seeker, Blacksmith, Dark Patch or whatever is needed to make a viable deck. Most of our players do not have these except the competitive people who only turn up to events.
Additionally the shop that hosts us doesn’t have cards for Expanded, only standard so it hits their sales since if I was a Expanded only player there’s very little I need so am less likely to buy cards. Essentially we’re selling them Standard cards but supporting an Expanded format.
As well as this, the expanded metagame doesn’t change as much as standard (which may or may not be a good thing depending on a person’s view) whereas standard is shaken up by each new set. So while I like Expanded since it allows for more crazy decks, it also is less accessible at a competitive level for newbies.
Add to this decks like Seismitoad or Trevenant which lock down items and it can lead to a less than fun experience for players. These decks can seriously lock down your opponent while you slowly chip away at their Pokémon (and will to live!). All in all not a fun experience for newbies. Additionally a lot of expanded decks are so well developed in the meta that there are distinctive counter-tech/hate options available that can totally destroy a deck.
Case in point one week before a League Challenge last year I rocked up with Night March and obliterated every opponent I played, only to bring Volcanion for the actual event because I knew everyone would then hard-tech hate against Night March. Also it wasn’t fun for my opponents to play against Night March because it outclassed most of the decks quite dramatically.
Hopefully that’s given some food for thought, sorry that it’s not the cutting edge analysis that you’re used to here! While I like expanded, it’s hard to break into for a lot of people and the format is a lot more brutal when you have things like Siesmitoad, Trevenant and so on. Additionally the Expanded metagame as of today is extremely similar to Standard (Zoroark, Zoropod and BuzzRoc) which defeats the argument of a more diverse meta!
Don’t get me wrong, a bit of expanded is good to shake things up – it’s faster, has a more high stakes and intense style of game with more kooky techs and plays available. However for newbies the better balanced, more accessible and affordable Standard format is the option I’d be pushing to grow a community.
So the Portsmouth ‘Guzzlord’ League Challenge last Friday had 18 Masters and we played 4 rounds of swiss, best of 1 game.
Round 1 – Giratina/Lunala-GX
Game 1 was against a quite but nice newish player. Although he was running a psychic deck there were several misplays that I could capitalise on (Nest Ball for Lele for Brigette but had already played a supporter type events).
The Spiritomb that hit me for weakness and prevented my basics from attacking was a bit of a scary thought, but a quick Guzma and Lycanroc managed to get rid of it. The Giratina and Lunala-GX also resisted fighting but my deck was much too fast.
While I was happy with the win I kind of realised that my resistance wouldn’t be great as a result of the deck.
Round – 2 Silvally/Ho-Oh
This was one of the toughest games I’d played in a long time. Ho-Oh obviously resists fighting being a bird thing but Silvally was weak to fighting.
We each started with a Lele and my 2nd Lele was prized meaning that it was much harder for me to get setup. In the opening exchange I took 160 damage on my Lele before retreating it away and getting a Buzzwole up and running. I managed to hang onto an Octillery until I got a Brooklet Hill for Remoraid. Despite the slow start my opponent took a risk to play Kiawe powering up a Ho-Oh.
The crux of the game came when I had to hit an elixir and hard retreat to knuckle impact for a KO on Ho-Oh putting me on 1 prize. However my opponent had his last Lele to fetch a Guzma and pull in my injured Lele. He’d previously managed to get an Elixir off and attached onto Type:Null who did it’s claw slash to KO my Lele and take the game.
This was the only match I’d lost and although I recovered from the terrible start I felt a bit prize screwed as I had a Guzma for game but he just managed to draw into what he needed. This is why I prefer best of 3 – it stops random flukes from influencing the outcome!
Round – 3 Empoleon/Octillery
This round I was paired down (opponent was 0-2-0) which I knew would effect my resistance again. Oh well at least it’s only a challenge!
A couple of these deck types were featured on the evening, this ladys variant had Manaphy and 2 lines of Octillery. My Brooklet Hill obviously helped her but I reasoned that I could get set up much more quickly – which I did.
The main issue arose when the Empoleons could OHKO my Buzzwoles (or anything really!) resulting in a 2:1 prize advantage. Thankfully I’d sniped away at Piplups and taken out the Manaphy early. She needed to go fishing for a 2nd floatstone but N-ing us both to 2 cards meant that she didn’t get it and I could Lycanroc up a Lele and then Knuckle Impact with Superfly for the win.
A lot closer than I felt it should have been mainly because I’d not played against the deck before.
Round -4 Turtonator/Volcanion
This was against Po Town regular Jamie who’s always lovely to play. The deck was a fairly standard Volcanion/Turtonator build with Oranguru for draw support.
I immediately went after the Orangurus because I know if Volc can’t draw into the energy it needs it can stall out. A Strong Energy + Regirock-EX meant that Knuckle Impact was hitting for 60 before weakness – just enough to OHKO an Oranguru!
Jamie recycled some energy and Oranguru before fetching it again via a (Secret Rare) Nest Ball. I promptly apologised before Guzma-ing it up again and putting it down once more.
After that I’d managed to get powered up much more quickly and it was just a case of Guzma-ing out a Shell Trapped Turtonator and hitting a Volcanion for Knockout.
3-1-0 was 10 points but pretty poor resistance overall in this League Challenge.
As luck would have it I came 5th (3-4th on 10, 1st-2nd on 12) so just missed out on prizes. However 4th places was Southampton’s own Shakil and 1st place was Ace Trainer Sarah. She’d apparently not come along to win…. but swiftly did anyway!
I’m glad I didn’t run the Shampay deck since I was less confident with it and stuck with what I knew. I will however be testing it for the next events that I’m going to. The 3rd place Alex Hill deck looks a lot more skill intensive (only 1 Lele!) and I’m not sure if I’d have the courage to try it in an actual event but it might just we worth a shot too.
Update/Tweak deck for next Cups – try Alex Hill and if not that then Natalie Shampay variants.
Stick to best of 3!!
Get ready for the two Expanded format League Challenges – next Saturday locally and then Sunday in Bournemouth. However due to family commitments (medical stuff, so we have to be on standby) I might not be actually able to attend but it’s only expanded which I’d planned to bring my troll Sableye lock deck to anyway.
The venue for the League Cup was our local League’s Nerd World- Southampton’s only independent nerd store and first time running a Cup last Saturday, the 10th Feb. As usual, Ace Trainer Sarah did much better than me too!
There were 23 masters and 7 Juniors/Seniors too. Quite a few locals, some from Team PoTown and a couple of outsiders who had travelled quite far.
For my 3nd League Cup I was still running Buzzwole/Lycanroc (aka ‘Superfly’) with lessons learned from Reading – this time the deck was more streamlined and included a one of Zygarde-EX to help against any Mew/Mewtwo/Mew-EX counter-tech’s that seemed highly popular. (You can grab a text file of the decklist here)
I brought Buzzwole because I didn’t have practice with anything else. Ace Trainer Sarah was also running the deck (I was using her list) since we both practice together and the only difference was that she had a Lillie and I had a Zygarde-EX – to counter against any sort of Mew/Mewtwo tech that crucified me at Reading.
Overall the list was similar to Reading except streamlined to be slightly more consistent version with less, crazy techs. The exception being Zygarde because I used to run a Zygarde/Lucario list before rotation and it so was a comfortable inclusion. The deck rotation with really aggressive very similarly played anyway so that’s what brought.
As before with very little Psychic in the format and quite a bit of Zoroark (who’s weak to Fighting) it is a good deck to run. Aggressive and relatively simple to handle. Having been violently ill most of this past week I didn’t get any testing done aside from a half-dozen games online (which went well) and I was almost considering not going to the event since I haven’t been sleeping well as a result of illness. However, in the end I decided to stick with it and I’m glad I did go – read on to find out why!
League Cup – Swiss Rounds
Round 1 – Volcanion (Jacob)
So we kicked off the first Southampton Pokémon League Cup on time. We got going and I was on T13 against a guy from Cardiff. Adjacent to me on T14 was Sarah against his friend who I’d seen at Reading – they travel quite a bit and were clearly competent players.
Game 1 – My opponent was playing Volcanion with no Kiawe. I got rapidly set up and took four prizes, then he caught up by a bit but then I hit into my Guzmas and managed to finished him off.
I used the usual sort of approach like pulling in targets with Lycanroc to get the KOs. The Max Elixir and Multi-Switch spicy tech is good for breaking up expectations in the tempo too.- Win
Game 2 – I managed to win the second game with time to spare which was good considering that the rounds were 45 minute best of 3 –Win
Round 2 – Zoroark/Lycanrock/Tech (Tyler)
This round was against Tyler who is a local, but new to our league. I haven’t played him before so was unaware of what he was running or quite how good he was until we started playing. Turns out he’s very good!
Game 1 – A Benchbarrier Mr Mime was among the first things found by Brigette but there was no Mewtwo – it was stuck in prizes! (And it turned out to be the last prize too!) Aside from the minor annoyance of Juggle Boy, the game went relatively smoothly and I was able to build on 4 early prizes to power up a buzzwole for a final KO – Win
Game 2 -Somehow, again, the Mewtwo was prized and wasn’t drawn during the game and it went similar to the first one. I was able to do my usual technique of rushing ahead but thankfully my deck is now consistent enough that I can then recover to claim the last prizes. – Win
Round 3 – VikaBulu (Craig)
Craig is another local who is quite good competitively. I have beaten him in a Volcanion Mirror to win a Challenge and similarly have been beaten by him in a Nightmarch Mirror for him to win! So I wasn’t going to be complacent in this League Cup!
Game 1 – I opened with an N to disrupt his hand while chipping away at a Bulu. Despite his attempts to set up I Leled for another N to keep the disruption going and was even able to take a cheeky KO on a benched Grubbin with Jet Punch. Having been beaten soundly by Bulu at Reading, and having studied and played it extensively I knew that the trick is to prevent their setup at any cost. By the time a Vikavolt was online I was just able to Rogue-GX the Bulu for game – Win
Game 2 – We had plenty of time left for game 2 and it started quite similarly although this time Craig had a curse of the dreaded ‘bulu-hands’. I’m not even use he got a Vikavolt online although he managed to attack with one which had gotten 3 manual energy attachments! His spicy baby Mew tech couldn’t really work without the energy from Vikavolt and his Tapu Koko was weak to Buzzwole meaning that I secured game 2, thanks in large part to his terrible luck – Win
During lunch, prior to Round 4 I had been approached by a random player (also on 3 wins, but as it turns out I wasn’t paired against him) who asked for an ID if we were to play and to be honest I would rather have played to ensure that there was no way someone could get 4 wins and out-score me. Although it would still mean Top 8 I guess. Either way my actual Round 4 opponent needed a win to Top 8 and I was keen to play so we cracked on!
Round 4 – Sylveon/Gardevoir (Tony)
This opponent was from Po Town, although I only vaguely recognised him but the day was getting on. He seemed nice and informed me that I had the favourable match up which I must admit I was skeptical of since I know how brutal Garde can be!
Game 1 – I unapologetically went for the Remoraids and made fish fingers out of them. I know that Garde needs to draw cards to get the energy and by sabotaging this early I would be able to win a war of attrition. Being able to hit the bench allowed me to soften up any Ralts/Kirlias before they evolved into Gardevoirs putting them in a OHKO range. He also had a spicy Mewtwo tech but it was prized in this game.- Win
Game 2 – Similar to the first although although much closer. He managed to get a couple of Gardes up and running, Mewtwo came out but Gallade was prized which didn’t help him and quite like the first and again I hunted the draw support. Although it got recycled his tempo was disrupted by my playing of N and my deck was just more consistently able to keep dishing out damage. When I got Lycanrock-GX online he played a clever Parallel City targeting himself to shrink his bench putting me out of OHKO range with Rogue-GX! There was a point where he went Sycamore fishing for a DCE but with 2 in the discard and 1 on the field it didn’t happen. I N-ed away his DCE during time so avoided the OHKO on my Buzzwole – Win
The deck was regular Gardie and with no crazy techs so it was a case of just punch the little guys and keep knocking things out.
Of note was also the pair on table 1 beside us who IDed and one sat there literally studying my deck as I played it. It seemed a little gamey but on the other hand I was glad that I was considered a substantial threat!
Round 5 – ID
I don’t even know what my opponent was playing but we Intentionally Drew meaning that we each got a point, got into top 8 and more importantly got a 45 minute break. It was nice to get a break, taking paracetamol for a headache and get some food to keep my sugar level sustained for the Top 8. Getting to use the loo was good too!
Swiss result: 4-0-1 (13) = #1 seed! I was quite happy with that result and to achieve my goal of making the Top 8 cut. Interestingly, my first 2 opponents also made top 8 as did Sarah (seed #7)
League Cup – Single Elimination
So I’d managed to make the Top 8 and hadn’t lost a round during the Swiss either 🙂
#1 – Buzzwole/Lycanroc (Me) vs #8 – Volcanion
#2 – Gardevoir vs #7 – Buzzwole/Lycanroc (Sarah)
#3 – Vika Bulu vs #6 – Vika Bulu
#4 – Gardevoir/Zoroark vs #5 – Zoroark/Lycanroc (Tyler)
Overall there was a good standard of skilled players present as well as a few ‘known names’ from around. (Although the biggest were probably abroad in Austraila!) Three locals making Top 8 was also pretty good showing that we didn’t get stomped.
The second games against my first two opponents were more difficult – they clearly learned more about my than I had learned about them and it was tougher although I guess I was confident since I’d already beaten them before.
Top 8 – Volcanion (again!)
Game 1/2 -I was paired against Volcanion again and hit no max elixirs and started to brick loosing game 1 relatively quickly. In game 2 I stupidly put down a Remoraid and meant to play a Rockfuff (to Lycanroc next turn) but my finger was off it (apparently that’s a thing, like in chess) However I drew into an Octillery which gave me the recover power I needed. Karma’s a bitch! -Loss/Win
Game 3 went to time and we couldn’t finish so with 1 win each, we went to Sudden Death. I had to take a 2 hit KO and take a risk – he needed 3 steam ups on his baby Volcanion and used Sycamore, only hitting 2. He possibly could have powered up a Volcanion-EX but I think he missed that option thankfully. It was the biggest gamble of the day but my only option to win so I had to take it. Sudden Death is a bit scary as it can be highly luck dependant, however I felt that my hyper-aggressive deck had the edge here.
Top 4 – Zoroark/Lycanroc/Tech (again!!)
Game 1 – This time Tyler had a mewtwo and it was one of the first pieces fetched by Brigette. It made my life difficult hitting for 120-ish damage while only yielding 1 prize for me. The problem was compounded by it being recycled with a Super Rod, however I managed to make the deck work consistently and take knockouts on his 1-of Buzzwole-GX and Lycanroc-GX. Certainly a lot tougher than the first time around! – Win
Game 2 -Again Mewtwo was back with a vengeance! We went to time with my Regirock just having being pulled out via Guzma. But with 1 prize to take, 11 cards in my deck -which I knew contained the 2 each of the Float Stone and Choice Band I needed to win – I evolved Lycanroc to pull in a Zoroark, Ultra-Balled for a Remoraid to get my deck down to 10 cards and then used Prof. Sycamore. Even my luck isn’t that bad so when I’m drawing 7/10 and only need a pair of cards I managed to retreat the Regirock and hit for weakness with a Choice Band on Lycanroc for game. A lot closer than the first set of games! – Win
This also meant I was onto the final!
Top 2 – 59 Card Mirror – Sarah
We sort of had a suspicion we’d have to face each other at some point in the day, but I don’t think either of us imagined it would be in the final playoff of the League Cup.
Beforehand we agreed to split the prizes (booster box + ETB = 22 boosters each, she got dice & I got sleeves) so would be playing for the 50CP, Playmat and the Glory! I did have a suspicion that Sarah’s deck tweak would prove superior in the mirror and I know she’s practiced a lot more than me!
Since I was facing a friend at this point we didn’t really matter what happened – one of us would win and the other would still get 40CP and we were both really happy with hitting Top 8, let alone the final! Me especially since my abysmal Reading performances and I know Sarah was gutted to miss her ‘win & in’ last time.
So as mentioned Sarah and I had 59 card identical decks except my Zygarde-EX instead of her Lillie.
Game 1 – I started with Zygarde and Sarah managed a turn 1 Lillie. I did play Brooklet Hill to increase the Zygarde damage and KO a Remoraid but it also helps my opponent prevent me donking them. However that extra Lilly consistency and my inability to find a single Guzma meant that Sarah took game 1.- Loss!
Game 2 – I started a lot better and Sarah’s deck basically bricked, I didn’t have a swimming start but managed to recover and get so far ahead that she scooped to get the full time in game 3 (none of us wanted sudden death!)- Win!
Game 3 – This game was obviously quite intense (in a good way) and my tempo was a bit behind my opponents. The crux came when there was a point where I could have possibly used Rogue-GX for a KO but I didn’t because I would have been beaten next turn. So I focused on staying alive and used Guzma to buy time, but Sarah already had a counter-Guzma in hand as well as a back up attacker anyway. So with that she took the final KO and became the Southampton Cup Champion. I thus emerged 2nd with 40CP!
I am also thrilled to have been the top seed with 13 points and no losses. By contrast our Champion had 2 early draws and no losses which got her 7th seed.
I came away with 22 UPR boosters and the ETB sleeves which was good since I haven’t opened much UPR (7 packs from pre-release). Overall it was a tough day, a bit stressful at times and quite long – my timing/pace of play was good (lots of people’s games went to time, but most of mine didn’t).
I’m not half as disappointed at not winning (I hesitate to call winning all but one match loosing!) as I should probably be, but it’s easy to be happy at 2nd place when you know that it is a friend and extremely strong player who beat you. I knew that she’d play tested a lot more than I had and knew the deck a lot better than me so am really happy for my friend. Additionally I’d also been quite ill the preceding week and consequently had little opportunity for playtesting so was a bit surprised to do as well as I had done!
I’m sorry to say that could have been better. At times it was hard to hear the TO especially when things like Time was called. In addition the Seniors/Juniors were on the higher tables which were seated for adults, pushing adults down to the smaller chaired and more cramped tables.
In game 2 the constant warbling of 2 kids who kept interrupting my game and the games behind them caused me to call a judge to get them to shut up. I get that focus for kids is difficult, but don’t interrupt other peoples games because that’s just rude. In game 4 a local just walked in (which is fine) but again I’m in a game I don’t want people hovering near me when I’m trying to concentrate.
Lack of Match slips caused numerous re-pairs (3 or 4) and the reason given was that the shop didn’t want to waste paper which I think is a pretty pathetic excuse. I wouldn’t mind but I actually offered to bring a printer along or print blank match slips for the event before hand (since I already do the table numbers) so there was literally no excuse. Planning didn’t happen =(
I managed to convince the TO to print out the pairings so that he wouldn’t have to attempt to call out the pairings and have a load of people unsure as to where they needed to be. Printing them out and sticking them up proved to be the correct approach.
I’m biased towards the assistant judge since she’s my beloved but her judge calls on the day were correct, and despite subsequent discussion, still proved to be correct. She however has been put off from judging due to the event and the subsequent reactions of the TO. Her only mistake was mishearing a result which forced a repair and she was annoyed about it (and is now getting a hearing test as a result!). But if there were match slips it wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. I don’t think it’s fair to force your assistant judges into positions where mistakes like this can happen when there are systems in place to prevent mistakes from happening. To further go and undermine them by then double checking everything they’ve already done, (while the TO has made 2 mis-pairs themselves) is means that there won’t be a second judge for the next League Cup. Additionally doing 9 hours of judging at a League Cup and giving up your Saturday to receive: a foil counter catcher.. doesn’t seem right.
The judge calls made on the day were accurate although the TO almost caused a double game loss by misinforming a Senior who was in time. The Senior asked if he could win the game since they were in time and was down a game and was told that he couldn’t and was about to scoop!! I took a risk to intervene and explain that if he won then they’d have won 1 each so the round would have been a draw.
23 masters and 7 kids meant that people had Byes, and with only 3 rounds for kids it meant that 3 of them only got 2 rounds. I would have ensured that there were even numbers (say 22/8) to allow for better pairing and more rounds.
Prizing was a bit odd, while I’m not complaining to have gotten the better end of the deal in some respects I think that they are heavily balanced towards 1st and 2nd place. I would rather spread out the boosters a bit more since the CP are the goal and ensure that everyone who made Top 8 got at least something. With 7 Junior/Seniors 6 of them got prizes which again was odd.
However that all being said, this was the first League Cup and I hope that by cataloging these failings and addressing them at the next planning meeting that we can move forward and that the next one will be a lot better and more smoothly run. I hope that anyone who has opinions or feedback gives it as it’s very difficult to get the TO to change his mind about anything.