Portsmouth ‘Guzzlord’ League Challenge Results

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.

Ho Oh Gx Burning ShadowsRound – 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!

Empoleon Ultra PrismRound – 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.

Conclusion

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.

Next Steps

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.

 

Meta Monday – Ultra Prism Decks

I have to admit, I’m not nearly as hyped about Ultra Prism as I think a lot of people have been. It’s a bit like Crimson Invasion – a few good cards, one or two really great cards and then a lot of chaff. However with the 2 recent regionals it’s time for Speculation & Conjecture time!

The Ultra Prism Champ

Weavile Ultra PrismThe stand out card, judging from recent tournaments, has really been….. Weavile!

 

Case in point Evil Admonition stands in good stead against the dearth of Tapu Lele-GX, Zoroark-GX and others. Even with Garbotoxin, Pokémon still have abilities (even if they don’t do anything) so Evil Admonition still works!

Being in-type with Zoroark-GX only helps and running Dark energy might even give Zoroark a chance for a GX attack.

However the weakness to Fighting is still a liability in a Buzzwole heavy meta. That being said, it didn’t feature heavily, was more of a tech option in a 2-1 or 2-2 line along with Zoroark.

Ultra Prism Damp Squibs

Glaceon Ultra PrismGlaceon-GX – Much hype surrounded this Eevolution because of it’s ability to lock down the abilities of your opponents GX/EX Pokémon.

However it must be active for the ability to function. Couple this with a lacklustre 90+30 attack for WCC and a mediocre GX attack leaves you wanting more. Finally add in the weakness to Metal, which is only going to get more popular, and you can probably realise that Glaceon-GX is okay, it’s just not great.

Obvious Ultra Prism Decks

So here’s the ‘new’ decks that have emerged with the release of Ultra Prism. However none have been seriously featured in the 2 tournaments. This could be due to players being unwilling to try untested decks, or the fact that actually none of these are strictly better than existing proven archetypes.

Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX Ultra PrismMetal – Metagross-GX or Magnezone + Solgaleo Prism Star + Dusk Mane Necrozma

The Metal acceleration deck is a pretty obvious play given the hype that metal has had in this set. Yet since each variant runs Stage 2 Pokémon you’ll need to dedicate about 12 slots to it before generating a way to retrieve/attach the energy.

Also Dusk Mane Necrozma is making people have conniptions about Fairies, however the 220 (+choice) or GX on a Dusk Mane would knock out a Gardevoir-GX even without weakness so it really little to no difference! There’s also very few Pokémon with more than 220 HP anyway so it does seem like a strong play irrespective of the format. It’s just that it needs the correct support.

Right now it stands as a clunkier, less reliable version of VikaBulu that hits Gardevoir for weakness – although Dusk Mane Necrozma would OHKO most things anyway. Like VikaBulu, highly vulnerable to disruption or ability lock. It will get better with SM6 where the Supporter ‘Lady’ will let you search out 4 energy so I would say sit on this for the moment.

Cynthia Ultra PrismGarchomp / Lucario – This is essentially a theme deck – ‘Cynthia’s Champion‘ – but up-rated to include the proper amount of trainers, energy and so on.

The fundamental strategy is to use Cynthia, enabling Garchomp to hit for 200 (+choice band) and using Lucario’s ability to search out cards to keep up the momentum. That being said, it again is a stage 2 deck, needs 2 energy attachments and you must use Cynthia which means no Guzma or N to mess with your opponents plans.

At 150 HP it dies really easily though and then you have the problem of having to recycle a stage 2 Pokémon and recover the energy. Hopefully card advantage established by Lucario is so strong much advantage that they can keep sustaining indefinitely but the reality is that an unlucky set of prizes or not having puzzles of time or a special charge to get back energy can cause it to slip and fall hard.

Needless to say this didn’t make any top cuts because it just isn’t that good. The fighting version of Garchomp might make it a little better (Strong Energy, lack of Fairy weakness) but it will still suffer from being extremely obvious in it’s approach.

Empoleon Ultra Prism Empoleon/Zoroark – both exploit bench space to do damage.

Both Zoroark and Empoleon rely on the amount Pokémon in play to deal their damage. Zoroark-GX is 20x # of your Pokémon in play (so 6×20=120 without Sky Field) . Empoleon counts both your and your opponents benched Pokémon for a maximum of (20x(5+5)=200) 200 damage without Sky Field.

The main issue again is that Empoleon is a Stage 2, the weakness isn’t too big of a factor and 160HP is a fair amount for a non EX/GX Stage 2.

Empoleon is an interesting card, although might be better in Expanded via Archie’s Ace in the Hole and some Sky Field Shenanigans.

Other random decks might be Metagross with Dawn Wings Necrozma. Both of the Necrozma variants have great ‘catch up’ GX attacks with tie in with the cards like counter catcher and counter energy that are starting to see more play.

Concluding Thoughts on Ultra Prism

Recently, there’s been some Paw Patrols as well Zoroark with Gardevoir/Gallade doing the rounds but they’ve been played by some top players, in a developed meta. What’s been great in the SM4 Standard is that with each major competition the meta has evolved and changed but not massively. More recently we’ve had Buzzwole/Lycanroc, Buzzwole/Garbodor and Golisopod/Zoroark do quite well in Regionals.

Crimson Invasion and Ultra Prism honestly haven’t been the biggest sets in terms of shakeup. Aside from Tapu Lele-GX in SM2 and Gardevoir-GX in SM3, the biggest meta change has been Zoroark-GX in Shining Legends. In truth I wanted Ultra Prism to shake things up a bit more radically but I don’t feel that it really has. I am glad to see that the Prism Star mechanic will persist in the next set too unlike previous mechanics which only last for a set.

Buzzwole-GX
We still love you Superfly!

I still quite like Buzzwole and I think it is in a strong position despite not gaining much from Ultra Prism. It still punches face efficiently and you can get multiple KOs via the spread damage. The GX attack is also strong – it allows you to jump ahead quickly – 240 for 3 energy is good value.

Cynthia is also a good shout in a lot of decks instead of Sycamore, especially  for decks with Trade.  When you don’t necessarily want something now, but might want it later on it’s a better option than discarding. Games don’t really go on long enough to see much of Pal Pad although that might change if there’s going to be more 1-of Supporters as techs seeing play. Cynthia is a card that everyone will need a playset of so is probably the card of the set.

 

 

Cup Aftermath: Buzzwole ‘Superfly’ Thoughts

Tweaking ‘Superfly’Buzzwole-GX

Before last week where I came 2nd at a League Cup with Buzzwole,  I was half on the fence on whether or not to play (there was a waiting list so it could have been filled easily) and just to judge but in hindsight I’m really glad that I did play and do well! (#NotCrap!)

I will probably drop the Zygarde-EX as it has the same weakness as Lycanroc-GX and doesn’t particularly add anything novel aside from a lack of weakness to Psychic (but the same could be said of Lycanroc-GX)

The Regirock-EX is also a liability, has grass weakness and only adds +10 damage – the new Diancie Prism Star will grant +20 damage, yields only 1 prize and is still searchable by Brooklet Hill so simply just a much better replacement. Regirock just seems to take up space where an extra choice band would be more useful more of the time.

Information is still coming in from the 2 big regionals but there have been several Buzzwole/Lycanroc as well as a Buzzwole/Garbodor deck featured in top cuts.

Buzzwole’s Jet Punch is 30 damage base +30 Choice Band +20 Strong Energy = 80 damage, even with Regirock (+10) bringing it to 90, it doesn’t OHKO a  Zoroark-GX unless said Zoroark has been softened by an earlier Jet Punch – and with the prevalence of Zoroark in EVERY FORMAT it is worth considering, but I struggle to see the benefit of more than one Regirock, and especially struggle to see it’s value when facing non-Weak opponents with one exception.

The only real argument for Regirock-EX in the Buzzwole deck is that Jet Punch 30 + Strong Energy 20 + Regirock 10 = 60 which is enough to hit most of the basics involved in an evolutionary chain and to KO Tapu Koko promo too. Lycanrocks, Ralts, Remoraids, Bulbasaurs etc all get squished at 60 damage. The scarier things like Volcanion will survive but they would anyway so 10 damage is less of a factor.

That argument is only valid for a few months though, as once Diancie  hits I’m sure that Regirock-EX will not see play except for that one guy who will put both in a list.

For those non-literate in Japanese (myself included!) :

Diancie – HP: 120

Ability: Princess Veil, if this Pokémon is on the Bench, your Fighting Type Pokémon does 20 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

[F][F][F] Diamond Rain  :90 damage – heal 30 damage from each of your Benched Pokémon.

Diancie will also help secure the Buzzwole deck archetype as one that is going to be supported and so worth being able to build! So my advice would be that in the meantime don’t run Zygarde-EX and think about Regirock-EX – it’s not a requirement but it can help round out numbers for early KOs which is where the deck excels, but I wouldn’t have more than 1 Regirock-EX in a deck.

Running Buzzwole

Anyway, apparently the deck (Deck List) is easy to pilot (thanks Reddit!) you attach energy and hit stuff which could really be said of most decks so isn’t exactly helpful advice.

The main advantage is that there are only two 2-2 evolution lines which are not essential to your Buzzwole being able to function efficiently, and that searching up Pokemon doesn’t require the resources to invest in finding and playing Brigette thus leaving you free to use Guzma or N early (Hi Tapu Bulu!). This makes the deck very streamlined and efficient.

Another aspect of Buzzwole is the ability to rapidly increase your tempo by attaching an energy to bench using max elixir, attach by hand, then guzma or floatstone so you now have a new Pokémon with 2 energy that literally had none on it the turn before. Or use the spicy Max elixir + Multi-switch to get that extra energy onto your active. Avoidance of over-committing is key I think.

Finally the mini-Guzma (or Lysandre effect) from Lycanroc-GX cannot be understated. It took me quite some time to get anywhere decent enough at using this. People will often target the Rockruff before you can evolve – which is fine because it means they’re not hitting the Buzzwole – but also means that it’s not easy to rely on several turns down the road. The ability to control what Pokémon is active is extremely strong, even with Guzma so prevalent in the format. The Rogue-GX attack on Lycanrock is  a 2 attachment attack usually doing between 150-250 damage and so is an effective way of hitting a knock out. Even with only 3 benched Pokémon, Choice Band, Regirock or Strong Energy can pump up 150 damage into 200 easily.

Additional Thoughts

I’m still concerned with the level of (dis)organisation in our community. I want things to be better and to encourage a greater community to grow in our area. I don’t want it to be defined by the current Pokémon League or any one other League that may emerge but rather by the calibre of player – and not just in terms of how many CP/how competitive they are, but by their character.

Thankfully after participating in a cup a lot of the more competitively minded local players have expressed interest in spreading their wings a bit and hitting some other Cups.  I’ll be heading to Eastbourne (approx 15 masters) in early April and hopefully Portsmouth too. Additionally I’m hoping that our friends over at Bag of Holding in Bournemouth will be running a cup of their own soon as well.

Cup Considerations

So in 2 weeks time we are hosting our first ever League Cup in Southampton Pokémon League. In a departure from our regularly scheduled madness, it is going to be in Standard format.

The last Standard event (barring pre-release on the 27th, where I was judging anyway) I attended was Reading League Cup. As you can see here, didn’t go too well!

There’s only 5 decks I’m considering unless something amazing comes out of the woodwork

1) Gardevoir-GX

 

Aka ‘Brokenvoir’ – Gardevoir with Max Potions. For some reason this has fallen out of favour despite no actual prevalence of metal in the format. However it does suffer from a lack of consistency, and an inability to hit for big numbers (Zoroark’s or Golisopod’s 210, even Buzzwole’s 190) without investing a lot of energy.

On the plus side it can have Gallade which greatly helps against the aforementioned Zoroarks and generally works by having a more efficient Energy:Damage ratio (1 energy for 30 damage is good, 1 energy for 30 damage + 30 for each of your opponents energy is much better). Additionally Gardevoir is resistant to Dark making Zoroark need a 3 hit KO without a Choice Band. There’s a lot of psychic tech too though which hurts Gallade

I find that the deck can stall out if you loose an overinvested Gardevoir and then fail to recover due to the lack of energy. It is not a deck I would like to play against, and due to the lack of meta prevalence, I’ve not really played against it a lot except at Bournemouth’s League Challenge.

2) Buzzwole-GXBuzzwole-GX

I want to like Superfly. 30+30 to the bench for Fighting Energy is pretty strong, but the Fighting EnergyFighting EnergyFighting Energy requirement for anything else hinders reliable escalation.  I don’t know if it needs mixing with Po Town, Tapu Koko Promo and Espeon-EX to run in a separate kind of spread deck, rather than the current partnership with Midnight Lycanroc-GX. Online and further afield some strong players do highly rate this deck but I’m not those players and I cannot necessarily replicate their success with this deck in a different meta.

Accordingly, I am going to test it out in the next few weeks and I really, really want it to work – I’m just not sure what to couple it with – Lycanroc is a liability to Golisopod and the deck rarely hits for max damage even when Bloodthirsty Eyes pulls in a victim to get those OHKOs. Garbotoxin might help shut down opponents, and Espeon-EX starts making it into a spread deck. Zoroark might make it a more efficient version of Pawpatrol (Fly-snapper?) although the energy types don’t really synergise.

3) Tapu Bulu-GXtapu bulu

My Po Town amigo Michael Feeney put me onto this deck well before Christmas and I have been trading for the parts to give myself the option. This has been around since the last rotation thanks to Vikavolt and is consistently able to hit for 120 base +60 (Discard Energy) +30 (Choice Band) +20 (Prof. Kukui) knocking out any format-relevant threat.

 

Having been beaten by it at Reading in round 4 and having faced against it early in the meta (Cat plays this deck) I know how vicious it can be. However it does suffer from bricking like any comb0-based deck, affectionately termed ‘Bulu hands’. The key with Michael’s variant is to improve consistency by having multiple outs via Skyla et al.

However I’m still not sure that anything is more consistent than TordPod (Zoroark / Golisopod with loads of trade and setup cards)

4) TordPodGolisopod GX

This deck rarely hits for more than 120 , but is extremely consistent and requires only 1 attachment to do 120 damage. 4 Brigette, 4 Puzzle of Time and lots of Trade abilities makes the deck highly efficient. A couple of hammers can hinder Paw-patrol or Buzzroc variants. The low energy investment allows for the option of Max Potions and techs like Mewtwo – as used by Joe Bernard (Omnipoke) to win both Cardiff and Reading League Cups.

 

Xurkitree GX5) Anti-Meta Troll Deck

With the exception of Bulu and Volcanion, every standard deck runs DCE, fighting decks have strong energy. Some run only DCE. To this end Xurkitree and Stardust Jirachi can cause severe problems. Couple with the fact that every deck except Greninja uses either EX or GX Pokémon too, baby Hoopa can indefinitely wall. Combine with hammers, team flare grunts, and other trolling cards, there’s probably a very Yoshi style deck that could do well if piloted by a capable player.

A part of me would like to make this deck but I don’t feel that I have the time needed to learn (or contempt for my fellow players) to play this deck well!

Conclusion

Unless something really goes crazy I’m probably going to look at TordPod or Bulu. Grass is a good matchup in terms of type advantage, although each has weakness (Pod to volcanion, Vikavolt and Zoroark to fighting). I need a deck that can carry most of the weight since I cannot rely on statistical outcome of things like elixirs or even finding energy.

Reading January League Cup

Reading League CupReading League Cup

As before the venue for the League Cup was Eclectic games – Readings one stop board game/nerd store and just like before, Ace Trainer Sarah did much better than me too!

There was approximately 50 masters and about 12 Juniors/Seniors too. Only one Po Towner but I saw some other players local to reading whom I recognised including a Southampton local. ( Jake – who has a YT channel and does streams – check it out/subscribe/stalk etc)

BuzzwoleGXFor my 2nd League Cup I was running Buzzwole/Lycanroc with 2 Parallel City and 2 Octillery. It should have good matchups against Zoro/Roc and reasonable match-ups against most things with Zoroark on a general level. It doesn’t have good match-ups against Golisopod or Bulu though. I didn’t get enough testing due to spending my Christmas time practicing Expanded for a League Challenge which turns out I was too ill to attend in the end!

As an aside, I am starting to get frustrated that our league is ‘Expanded’ despite the fact that no one brings competitive decks for Expanded. The greater accessibility argument is invalid since most of the cards are not in rotation or on sale in the store that hosts us and Expanded is a more complicated beast. /rant

My other option to play would have been Gardevoir which in hindsight would probably have been the smarter play. Oh well live and learn!

R1: Zoro/PodGolisopod GX

Kicking off this League Cup, I faced Joe (from Omnipoke) who was running ZoroPod on Table 26. Starting out I had to mulligan to begin with a Remoraid and needed to use Lele to get an N to try and get set up.  Then I tried to established a Buzzwole with Strong Energy and even managed to pull the Elixir + Multi Switch trick to get some knock outs.

However I made a couple of mistakes including forgetting to check my deck off an Ultra Ball although it really didn’t matter since, Joe’s formidable skills coupled with a razor sharp deck hitting Lycanroc for weakness meant that I lost Game 1, although it did take 5 prizes in game 1.

Game 2 went terribly for me; – this time there were Max Potions as well as a Mewtwo (EVO) which made short work of my Buzzwole. As it turns out Joe had recently won Cardiff’s League Cup and would go on to win this League Cup at the end although, obviously I didn’t know this at the time! He absolutely crucified my deck and I know Sarah played him later as well and did the same to her deck!

0-1-0

R2: Genesect/Venusaur/Lurantis-GX 

Game 2 was also on Table 26 so I didn’t have far to move. My opponent Jack was nervous and it didn’t help when I had to call a judge because he mulliganed without showing his hand. Thankfully the judge was OK with it and we proceeded.

I opened with a Buzzwole-GX and was able to take simultaneous KOs on a Formantis and a Bulbasaur, preventing the deck from setting up.

Game 2 saw both Venusaur’s being prized so despite starting with Remoraid I was able to get established and take the critical knockouts on Pheremosa and Lurantis-GX to win.

1-1-0

R3: Xerneas BREAK

XerneasWith a win I managed to move up in the League Cup world to Table 18 and faced Harvey from Sheffield running Xerneas BREAK. My deck packed parallel cities which didn’t make an appearance in game one. I managed to rush ahead but struggled to take the last prize. None of my Max Elixirs had hit either which was highly frustrating since I had only seen literally two energy cards.

Game two was no better, I managed to attach a whole four out of thirteen energy, no parallel city, no octillery. In short my deck bricked and yet despite this I again got down to 1 prize, needing my opponent to whiff one of his max elixirs – of course he didn’t and I lost game two.

My opponent was lovely, but I was feeling quite despondent at this point and losing by 1 prize is the same as losing by 6!

1-2-0

R4: Bulu/Vikavolttapu bulu

My Round 4 opponent was William running Tapu-Bulu and we were relegated to table 25. He managed to get set up rapidly and KO while powering up his benched Bulu’s put me in a loose/loose situation. I could have pulled ahead by taking a KO but despite 3 Choice Bands in deck I didn’t manage to fish one out and lost.

Game two was almost pointless. I started with a Regirock-GX and no outs (Lele, Sycamore, N or Ultra Ball) – it took 3 turns before I could get a Buzzwole into active by which point William had 2 Tapu Bulu’s powered up and I couldn’t survive them both.

To compound the issue I literally saw three energy all game which made me feel rather annoyed because despite playing well, my deck didn’t pull it’s weight.

1-3-0

R5: Zoro/RocZoroarkGX

Round 5 pitted me against Adrian running Zoroark/Lycanroc and lo and behold we were on table 25! I didn’t really have to move much during this League Cup! He went first and only had a Zorua, I managed to deploy a Buzzwole and donked it to cheekily take game 1.

Game 2 was more evenly matched and partially due to the fact that I saw a whole five energy I lost, although I had taken 4 prizes.

Game 3 saw me start with Remoraid, which I Guzma-ed to Buzzwole which was then Guzma-ed back to Remoraid in an attempt to buy time. This time the deck worked as intended, and although I didn’t get Octillery out I managed to pull ahead and we went to time with Adrian being Turn 0. I was holding a Lele for my last Guzma which I knew was in deck and despite trying to retreat and change around I determined that I was safe. He did 150 damage with Lycanroc, failing to find a Choice Band which still wouldn’t have KOed the Buzzwole. In my turn I drew the Guzma and pulled in the damaged Zoroark and my own Float Stoned Regirock to switch back to Buzzwole and KO Zoroark for a match win.

2-3-0

R6: Greninja // Turbo-GuzzlordShadow Stitching

My opponent for round 6 (Bolly) decided to drop/concede, so at the start of the round we handed in the slip for table 17. I know he was playing Greninja which I feel would have been relatively favourable for my deck. More importantly Ace Trainer Sarah, was playing her Win & In round so I was prepared to wait and cheer on if she’d gotten into top cut.

While I waited, Jake (EagleEye1995)’s opponent had also dropped so we had a friendly game. He was running a unique Turbo-Guzzlord deck featuring Dragonair, however I managed to beat it twice thanks to weakness. It emerged that despite a close game Sarah was defeated and so didn’t make Top Cut. With that the three of us headed back to Hampshire.

Final Standings: 3-3-0 24th (9 points)
Post Cup Analysis
Buzzwole-GX
It’s OK Super-Fly, I still like you!

Sarah had a 58/60 card similar deck, and faced 3 of the same opponents as me, beating Bulu, drawing with Xerneas and loosing to Zoro/Pod, so unsurprisingly she did a lot better and is a stronger player than me. It was great to see a friend do really well and almost taste that Top Cut!

The frustrations: the Bulu and Xerneas games were pretty tough in terms of deck performance. The lack of elixir hits or ability to draw energy from a deck that’s over 20% energy was quite irritating.  In the 2 games where the deck worked 1 didn’t matter (meme-tier Venusaur) although the other was a solid and fair win. The slow start ruined me against Bulu, Zoro/Pod generally beats the deck, especially with Mew/Mewtwo and the Xerneas  game was extremely close each time. Frustraitingly so.

My primary excuse is still that locally we don’t have a competitive meta. We’ve had good players but they’ve gone afar and locals don’t turn up to the casual events so finding good players to test against is difficult. It’s starting to annoy me since it limits the opportunities for testing and practice. There’s still PTCGO which is a godsend. It does seem that I haven’t managed to practice or change my list the night before the cup due to nerves (Thanks Anxiety!) But the next cup is on home turf and I now have time to prepare.

I wanted to do better than last time, and I just about managed that going from 9 to 10 points, even if one was a bye/concession. (That being said there was a guy with a theme deck who got a bye and then his opponent didn’t show so that could be someone in round 3 with max points…playing a theme deck…). I should probably be more grateful for that fact! The next goal is 3 wins + a draw (10 points) or better.

That being said I would have obviously preferred to do better than I managed and I feel most annoyed about losing to Xerneas BREAK despite having 2 Parallel City in my deck. I feel that my deck wasn’t massively consistent and is relatively fragile/prone to bricking. More draw support outside of 2-2 Octillery is needed.  Out of the 11 games I’d played there were at least 4 where I drew 4 or fewer energys despite the 13 in the deck and using Max Elixirs which is insane. Factor in the fact that I drew prizes meant that it wasn’t a shuffling ‘glitch’ or prizing fluke.

I am going to keep tinkering with it as I don’t want to just jump onto the Zoro/Pod bandwagon. I can beat Zoro/Pod with Gardevoir so I’d prefer to play that instead if I can’t get Buzzwole to work.

Next Steps

My next tournament is our Local Leagues Cup in a couple of weeks. Although Ultra Prism will be pre-released it will not be legal for the Standard format. This means that the format.

I’m planning on bringing the either Gardevoir or else a tweaked version of the Buzzwole deck. However now that I’m not sick I’m going to be playtesting the life out of my options!

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

 

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.

Crimson Invasion Pre-release & Judging

Crimson Invasion Pre-release

Our local Pokémon League held its first official Pre-release for Crimson Invasion on Saturday (21/10/17) at our local geeky home of Nerdworld.

This post is going to give an overview of interesting cards, ones to watch for in future, a piece on my first time judging and the event itself. Finally I’ll sum up on the my feelings about the state of our community. (Rant warning!)

If you are unfamiliar with Pre-Releases: each player gets 4 boosters, access to whatever basic energy they need and a sealed selection of basic trainers and core evolution lines. There’s also a random set promo included which can be used. (Raichu, Salazzle (psychic type) and & Registeel for Crimson Invasion) Each player needs to create a 40 card deck and rounds are best of 1, 20 mins with 4 prizes. It is intended to be a casual, fun event.

Interesting Cards

Guzzlord-GX – a fair amount of hype around this although no-one actually pulled it until after the event. The theory being that 39 energy + a guzzlord means that you’re KO-ing almost everything except Garyados-GX by turn 3 at the latest. It is vulnerable to Gastrodon and Buzzwole-GX though!

Buzzwole-GX – a little bit of hype, but not as much as Guzzlord-GX. For 1 Fighting energy you’re hitting 30+30 on the bench which is great value for energy. A modest retreat cost of 2 in fighting is nice as is the bulky 190HP for a basic.

Interesting to note about the Ultra Beast-GXs in general is that they have weakness whereas the Tapu-GXs do not. Additionally all of the Ultra Beasts have a unique ‘Ultra Beasts’ label under their HP which might mean future cards will interact with them. I’m thinking something like a Beast Ball to search them out or a future Silvally-GX with an ability that works against Ultra Beasts.

Cards To Look Out For In Future

Assuming that GX remains a thing, Olivia is going to replace Brigette in standard once she rotates (in about a year!)

Milotics bounce ability is a bit like a budget Sylveons Plea-GX ability and might find space in some spread decks and, although it doesn’t effect the active, might be a weird niche tech in some decks.

JudgingJudge

The Judging itself seemed to go fine. Rules interactions were mostly limited to Miltank and Gengar (they are simultaneous!) and consistency was maintained. A couple of clarifications about burning, confusion attack declaration and a wrong way around paralysis were my height. Someone forgot prizes and got (another) heavy handed warning which seemed excessive for a casual level 0 event.

I was excited for the event although I wasn’t the organiser and so felt a bit undermined when I called for round starts and then the TO quietly did too. after me. Basically I can project, the TO can’t and despite trying to help on several occasions I don’t know if it is appreciated.

For the next event I’m sticking to playing and (consequently?) I am told that I probably won’t be required at future events.

Summary

This has ended up being a mini rant about our existing community but it seemed encapsulated in the day.

The day itself went great for the players/trainers which is what you want when helping to run an event. However I was more or less told that I wasn’t running it, just judging, which is understandable despite the effort time and organisation put into it. Despite numerous olive branches being extended to other staff I didn’t feel that any were received or acted upon which is unfortunate.

Consequently I want to see how events without external support pan out, the November GvC has external judges and organisers so will hopefully go smoothly. (I might flip out if table numbers are in biro again). Unfortunately I’m not in a position health wise at the moment to be able to run an alternative, competitive league night regularly which is a little frustrating.

Additionally, at the moment our competitive playerbase doesn’t bother to show up to regular Saturday league except for tournaments and we are going to lose them. Accordingly the existing community is quite small, mostly uncompetitive and largely unorganised. I think that when you have to travel an hour to the next city over through Friday rush hour traffic to get a decent standard of games in, something is a bit wrong.

As it stands, people do frequent our neighbouring Pokémon league in lieu of their local because it’s more organised, with a higher calibre of player. Our local league has not made any steps to supporting more competitive players or nurturing their growth which begs the question of why bother?

Don’t get me wrong I like casual days, just not every time. I can bring my Tier 1 deck and smash people, not learn anything or play my derptastic Sligoo deck and at least have an enjoyable game. But we don’t have the option of competitive practice outside of big events.

A final point of contention was trading. When asking for a trade and being interrupted several times stating that they wanted to trade it off of the person – but not actually having anything that the trader wants- is rude and annoying. You can’t call ‘dibs’ on other peoples cards if you have nothing to trade. I wouldn’t mind but the same person harvested several choice cards from the tins of freebies that I provided. A bit of self awareness might have not gone awry. Only that we were having a fun day and I was being professional, I *might* have snapped.

*breathes out*

 

Reading League Cup 28/49th

So this past weekend I went on a bit of a binge with Pokémon. Fellow TCG player Ace Trainer Sarah offered a ride to the local league at Po Town on Friday and also to Reading League Cup on Sunday. So in a fit of madness I said yes to both! (Also you can read her after action report here)

Po Town Warm Up

Friday night at Portsmouth (Po Town) resulted in 2W-2L-0D for Volcanion without elixirs, only loosing by 1 prize in each game. I always seemed to be a turn behind. I lost to the lovely Jeff’s Gardevoir-GX in a really great, close game and finally to a rogue Lycanrock-GX deck. Lessons were learned and my deck was adjusted to include Octillery – but still no elixirs because I’m a fool. Brief testing online convinced me that it was somewhat more consistent. (ha!) Anyway onto the cup!

Literally Portsmouth
Reading League Cup

The venue was Eclectic games – Readings only gaming/nerd store. There was approximately 50 masters and about 12-16 Juniors/Seniors. Two judges who were well organised and epitomised everything great about the game. Some early trades during the dreaded waiting phase, catching up with familiar faces and meeting new people.  Sarah & I were adopted into Team Po Town for the day since they’re our nearest competitive league, and we began Reading League Cup.

R1: The Mirror (but better)

A Volcanion mirror with elixirs. I lost lost game 1 by 2 prizes, I blitzed ahead getting 2 KOs but then couldn’t catch up. In game 2 I was setup to win but couldn’t draw one of seven energy from about 25 cards with a Sycamore so my attempt to pull a draw was to no avail. Secret Sushimaster tech was nowhere to be seen. So 2 game loss for Round 1

0-1-0

R2: Gardevoir GX

A nice gentleman with Gardevoir GX. However once again couldn’t get my engine going sustainably without elixirs and again Octillery didn’t turn up. Similar to R1 I could blitz the first 4 prizes but then stalled out like in my previous 2 games for another loss to the powerhouse that is GardevoirGX!

0-2-0

R3: Pimped Out Drampa/Garb

Undeterred by being on the scrub bench of the League Cup (table #29/30), I faced a really lovely local guy running a fully pimped out Drampa/Garb deck (in his words ‘mistakes were made’.) I managed to get Octillery deployed but was under garb-lock and succumbed to the consistency of the fabled Drampa/Garb combo. However in game 2, true to form I blitzed the first 4 prizes like panzers over the Rhineland (sorry France!) and then he wiffed his support so I could pull ahead to win game 2 for a match draw overall.

0-2-1

R4: Vikivolt/Bulu

This player was slightly newer than my previous opponents and his deck wasn’t too consistent. It did let me see in hindsight just how absurd my deck was. His prizes didn’t help him in game 1 (ran out of energy/recycling) and overall I won both games for a round win.

1-2-1

R5: Golisopod/Garb (aka GoliGarb)Tapu Fini GX

We were all getting tired and my laconic opponent was running Golisopod/Garbodor/TapuFini/TapuKoko. I expected a lot of Guzma but I was hit by Fini’s GX attack and Aqua Ring for weakness. I had a terrible start in that I had to Kiawe onto volcanion to bait out the GX attack early, but it slowed me down and required a lot of resources on my part. I won the first round (just) due to hitting for weakness with 2 steam-ups vs a benched GolisopodGX all while watching for the threat of trashalance.

Game 2 I started with a remoraid and again he had a Tapu Fini start, so while no Tapu Storm, hitting any of my fire pokemon for 100 with a choice band and switching was good for him. By the time I got established he was set up and then time was called. He had 2 cards in hand and 2 prizes left so I took the gamble that if he had a Guzma/Acerolla in hand I didn’t want him to have them, and if he had them in deck it was only 2 cards (of about 30) and played N. However I’m not very lucky and of course he got the 1 in 15 odds of Guzma and took game 2 for a match draw.

1-2-2

R6: Team Po Town Gardevoir

In the final round I was paired against Jeff from Team Po Town. As you may recall, I had just lost to him on the previous Friday League Challenge. Jeff is a lovely guy and a tough opponent to beat. However this time he was having terrible luck in game 1 with no Brigette and my Octillery was online which meant I could pull ahead. Game 2 was even crazier for him in that his prizes were plain bad and my deck finally hit its own stride to win 2 games for a round win.

Final Standings: 2-2-2 (~28/49)
Post Cup Analysis
GardevoirGX
YOLO!

Firstly the frustrations: loosing the first game against the mirror was frustrating especially given the massive dig failing to hit one energy from a Sycamore. I would have felt contented with a tie there. In hindsight I was massively underprepared for Gardevoir. My secret Parallel City tech only popped up a couple of times and Gardevoir-GX is just better. I should have taken my Metagross deck with which I was more familiar. However the fire deck was a hold over from the expanded challenge that I’d won so I was on a bit of a fiery path and thought I’d ride it to the Cup!

My primary excuse is that locally we don’t have a competitive meta (yet). We’ve had good players but they’ve gone afar and locals don’t turn up to the casual events so finding good players to test against is difficult.

Accordingly, being in a room of 60+ people playing Pokémon competitively is an experience worth repeating.  Everyone there is passionate about the game, Pokemon and trying to be better players. I’m only sorry that our own league isn’t competitive or organised in any approximate shape at the moment. Having come out of nowhere I’m happy to have went 2-2-2 with a sub-par deck.

Next Stepsmew2

My next tournament is a League Challenge in Standard in November which is part of Gaming vs Cancer and held at the University. Shining Legends will be legal but Crimson Invasion will be not. It will be interesting to see what emerges particularly with Mew, Jirachi and possibly Mewtwo-GX in the format.

I’m planning on literally bringing the best decks in the Standard format that I am most comfortable with. The trick will be trying to get in practice against good opponents with quality decks!