League Challenge – 1st Place!

On Saturday 7th October Cat & I went to our first league challenge. We’d previously been to a League Cup in nearby Portsmouth. Although I placed mid-ranking (3/2/0) with Metagross-GX it wasn’t a strong showing. However I learned a lot from that in terms of how tournaments actually run in terms of timing and organisation. The 2 main things lessons learned from this were;

#1 – Make sure your opponent is aware that they have hit time and are on turn 0/3 – because if only you know then it’s not time (apparently). I couldn’t read my opponents mind to know that they didn’t know, so you have to verbally confirm basically.

#2 – Even if it hits time, don’t rush because it isn’t over. In the same game we missed resistance from my Metagross-GX on damage from Necrozma-GX so it should have survived and the game be a tie. Although it should have been over a turn earlier and thus a loss and thus a matchup to Volcanion and thus a 2nd loss… and so on and so forth!

Secret Lesson #3 – Don’t ruminate. Yeah I screwed up badly in terms of missing the resistance, (so did my opponent) but the key is to remember it, learn it and move on rather than letting it fester.

Thankfully these lessons were implemented in the slightly smaller (16 adults, 2 kids) local League Challenge. I had been playtesting Night Marshadow with success except via Trevenant. Online anything with Karen proved difficult too. Although if they hadn’t those cards it was an almost guaranteed win, if they did have them and played sensibly that went down to maybe a 20% win rate. With both Karen and Oricorio (sensu) being popular and literally only needing to be a 1-of in a deck I reconsidered and went for ‘Toto & The Blacksmiths’. It sounds like a bad band from the 70s but is basically Volcanion/Turtonator. (Turtonator-GX being the eponymous ‘Toto’)

League Challenge DeckLeague Challenge Toto List

Round 1 – Andrew – GolisopodGX+Lurantis

Unfortunately Andrew had prized 2/3 DCE and was universally weak to me. I accelerated rapidly with Kiawe and began to power through his grass Pokémon until he ran out after I had taken 3 prizes. He did try to put my main Pokémon to sleep to buy some time but I woke up and burned through to round 2

Round 2  – Litten – GolisopodGX+Garbodor

My opponent was convinced that I was running Night March so when I flipped over a Volcanion-EX it was a surprise. There was a little horse trading and we came quite close on prizes. I had a stuck Volcanion-EX who was unable to attack next turn but by Lysandre-ing my Shaymin-EX for 2 easy prizes it meant I could promote my powered up Turtonator-GX and Bright Flare to victory.

Round  3 – Cat – Trevenant (Forest’s Curse)

Not being fans of IDing we proceeded with the game despite playing each other a lot! (You can read about Cat’s deck in this article) Cat started strong and proceeded to evolve to Trevenant to item lock me and overall had a strong start. We had a couple of turns where I could only Shell Trap and accumulate useless items in my hand! However I managed to pull back before Necromza-GX hit the field with a Prof. Sycamore discarding an 8 card hand of mostly useless items. Turtonator-GX managed to Bright Flare away one Trevenant BREAK after another until I had won. Unfortunately for Cat her hand stalled out and my  deck managed to pull out ahead once I hit the draw supporter.

Special mention must be made to Rob who loaned us a Trevenant on the day. We only had 3, my attempts to procure one resulted in ‘Trumbork‘ (a German language Trevenant) which we were told (incorrectly) was not valid for play so Cat was looking at a sub-optimal deck for the day. This was made extra frustrating once we found out that any EU language cards (French, Spanish, German etc) were to be allowed!

Round 4 – Craig- Volcanion-EX/Turtonator-GX/Tauros-GX

My opponent won the flip and we knew that we had 90% similar decks (I had 2 Shaymin-EX and Acerolla, he had 1 Shaymin-EX, 1 Tauros-GX and no Acerolla)

He opted to go first and setup with Kiawe for 4 energy onto a Volcanion-EX. I managed to Ultra Ball dropping 2 energy and then using Blacksmith to attach them onto my Volcanion-EX for the knockout. There was a bit of horse trading and I had injured his Tapu Lele-GX for 100 damage with baby Volcanion. At one point my hand of Blacksmith and energy was N-ed away but each exchange was carefully measured. There was a benched Tauros-GX waiting to sweep in late game so I had to be careful and soon we were down to 2 prizes each.

I was trying not to give my hand away by pokerfacing until my opponent had taken his turn as once again sitting on Blacksmith and energy meant that I was in a strong position to pull ahead. It felt as though there were many parts to a puzzle and I had sufficient resources to solve it once I had figured it out. Of course I knew my opponent was thinking the same thing!

However I managed to VS Seeker to retrieve Guzma to pull in the Tapu Lele-GX and swap my Volcanion-EX who had attacked in the previous turn (meaning he couldn’t attack again this turn) for my Shaymin-EX who rapidly retreated to reset the Volcanic Heat on Volcanion-EX to hit again for weakness and KO. I also had a Ho-Oh-GX who I was thinking about using to snipe away at his injured Lele but as it was 110/170 I would have had to have attacked twice which probably would have been a turn too late. Thankfully getting the VS Seeker enabled me to close the game for a 4-0-0 victory!

Wrapping Up the League Challenge

Less fortunate were the pulls from the Tsareena-GX box that I won! Do’h! Still I got delicious delicious victory points* and some semi-useful stuff including a Raichu-BREAK and a Heavy Ball. More importantly were the trades and

Not bad for my 2nd ever Pokémon event!

Just for full disclosure I have played other CCGs including Magic: the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh but never at a serious level. I have played some MTG pre-release and FNM style events but again never did very well because I tended to use decks I wanted rather than good meta calls.

Similarly having an amazingly supportive partner (and worthy opponent!) also helps. Finally being part of a community where people support and are for each other is amazing. Case in point; Rob had played me once before (he was the fire player that stomped my Metagross-GX at the last Po Town Cup event!) and happily offered to loan us the Trevenant for the duration which made Cat’s day a lot better! I find that I have made more friends from Pokémon than other CCGs which seemed more combative by comparison – but that’s a rant for another day!

*deliciousness may vary on your tastes

Lessons Learned

Consistency is key! There was a point in game 2 where my 2nd Shaymin-EX was prized and it was what I was Ultra Ball-ing for. Similarly in game 3 I needed a Tapu Lele-GX to get Blacksmith and I almost didn’t find the ‘Lele  (it was on top of my deck!) Ideally I’d have a 2nd Tapu Lele-GX if I had the space but fortunately it wasn’t prized in a single game. Thankfully only in 2 games was one of my Shaymin-EX prized but I drew them early on and so it wasn’t a massive issue in the grand scheme of things.

Patience – Pokémon is odd in that it expects you to do things almost continuously. I prefer to take an extra 30 seconds or a minute to think about everything I’m going to do and then do it all at once. I find it frustrating in the online version when the timer ticks down despite me having lots of time in my timer! It expects you to do things one after the other quite rapidly.

If someone starts pressuring me then I loose my train of thought, have to tell them that they’ve interrupted me and that I just need a minute to think. Most people are OK as long as you don’t exploit it to stall the clock. In real life Pokémon you can take a little bit more time than online to plan out your moves and consider the options and then do things quickly.

Online is often slower since there’s clicking and animations and stuff, although it’s quicker for things like shuffling and damage calculations. So some and some!

Sportsmanship – all of my opponents were brilliant and friendly. The last game, while tense (purely in terms of the thinking!) at times, was also marked by periods of calm too. We gave each other the time and space to think so that we played our best game possible which was simply brilliant.

The spectators were interesting too as some were about to clearly discuss tactics or strategies which of course isn’t allowed within proximity to the game. Maybe I’m paranoid, but if being watched from behind I tend to play with my hand of cards almost horizontally so that no-one can see my cards and accidently (or otherwise) give away what I have or am about to do. I’m sure it didn’t matter but it made me feel better!

I know often that spectators comments are motivated by the desire to help but unfortunately it disrupts the game and is against the rules. That being said I know that our judge was vigilant about ensuring there was no coaching! (Not that any of my opponents needed help, they were formidable by themselves!)

Closing Thoughts

Next Friday (13th Oct) sees another League Challenge in the Standard format in Portsmouth (aka Po Town). I am unsure weather to go strong or bring a more ‘rogue deck’ for the experience. At the moment I’m thinking that if I’m going to go the effort of getting a lift from a friend to get there I should probably bring my A-game and so may try and take a Standard variant of this deck. Watch this space!

See the Wood for the Trees – Trevenant in Expanded

Trevenant – Forest’s CurseTrevenant

First up a disclaimer: Expanded Trevenant is a nasty nasty deck. It won’t make you friends – You have been warned!

Trevenant is a control deck. It aims to lock down your opponent via the Forest’s Curse ability and then spread damage around via Silent Fear. It can then finish with Necrozma-GX or simply by using Tree Slam.

Key Cards

The core of this deck are; Phantump, Dimension Valley and of course the XY Trevenant with Forest’s Curse ability.

Phantump – the underrated king of the deck. With Dimension Valley it can ‘attack’ for free and this allows you to search out and evolve into Forest’s Curse Trevenant, activating the item lock. If you go second you will attack with it, but if you go first you’re going to have to try and get a Wally (possibly via Ultra Ball + Tapu Lele-GX) in order to have it evolved before your opponent has a turn!

Dimension Valley – Energy is at a minimum in this decks (as always in expanded) so the ability to reduce your attack costs by 1 is quite strong. This enables a Phantump to use ascension without an attachment and enables Trevenant BREAK to use the Silent Fear attack with only 1 energy attached – a bargain!

Forest’s Curse Trevenant – you’re playing this 90% of the time to lock out your opponents ability to play items. Unlike similar lockdown abilities it doesn’t affect you, so you can play items but your opponent cannot. Additionally unlike Seismitoad or Giratina-EX you don’t have to hit with an attack in order to put the clamps on your opponent. Ideally you’ll get this up and running in your first turn in order to slow down your opponent.

Finishing off

The deck rounds out with Trevenant BREAK, Necrozma-GX and energy denial in the form of 2 Team Flare Grunts and 2 Enhanced Hammers.

Trevenant BREAK – as well as adding some Hitpoints, the attack ‘Silent Fear‘ is extremely powerful – 30 damage on all opponents Pokémon for only 1 energy with Dimension Valley – Bargain!

In a low energy format, knocking off the energy in addition to denying items can extremely hinder your opponents deck’s ability to function. As mentioned in the beginning – this is a nasty nasty deck!

Necrozma-GX is there for it’s ability to do 100 damage to all EX/GX for only 2 energy. This can enable you to essentially snipe off Tapu Lele-GXs, Shaymin-EXs etc after a couple of Silent Fears. It synergises perfectly with the energy type and Trevenant’s attacks so it’s worth the include.

Sample Decklist

As always your mileage may vary, and there are some tweaks that you may like to make. Those with a bigger budget could replace Jirachi-EX and/or Shaymin-EX with Tapu Lele-GXs. There are also arguments for either Lysandre or Guzma or both.

Drawing everything together we end up with this potent decklist:

4 Phantump (BKP)
4 Trevenant (XY)
3 Trevenant BREAK (BKP)
1 Shaymin-EX (ROS)
2 Necrozma-GX (BUS)
2 Jirachi-EX (PLB)
4 Prof. Sycamore
4 N
2 Wally
1 Karen
2 Team Flare Grunt
1 Acerola
1 Brock’s Grit
2 Lysandre/Guzma
4 VS Seeker
4 Ultra Ball
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Nest Ball
4 Dimension Valley
4 Mystery Energy
7 Psychic Energy

 

Alolan Ninetails – Meta Monday

Alolan Ninetales

Welcome again to Meta Monday. Today we’re going to look at a standard format deck type that is inexpensive to construct and is relatively strong against most other decks.

The key Pokémon are Alolan Ninetales, Alolan Ninetales GX and Tapu Fini GX. Useful trainers are Aqua Patch and Guzma.

This deck is a type of control deck – it aims to regulate which Pokémon your opponent has active and by dictating which of their Pokémon can attack you can then prevent them from damaging you.

Firstly Alolan Ninetales with Luminous Barrier – this protects your Pokémon from opponents GX and EX as well as having a low retreat cost and a somewhat passable attack. The only real threat to it in the format is a steamed up Volcanion or a Metang with 3 energy that hits for weakness and can one hit KO your Ninetales.

Ideally this will be your active Pokémon when your opponent is using a GX or EX Pokemon. The low damage doesn’t matter when you can’t be damaged in return, so just play it calmly and steadily.

 

Alolan Ninetales GX This is for when you need to hit harder or if a more significant threat needs dealing with. 210 hp is enough to survive most non-weakness hits that you can then Ice Path GX to swap the damage or use Acerola to bounce Ninetales GX removing the damage and swapping in a Luminous Barrier Ninetales. 

Ice Blade allows you to hit around the opponents active Pokémon targeting their bench – this is particularly useful if they have a bulky support Pokemon active or a Pokémon that has a high retreat value such as Vikivolt. In these situations you are better off leaving that non-threatening Pokémon active and targeting bigger threats on the bench.

The last active Pokémon in this deck is Tapu Fini GX. This Pokémon can help you switch around with aqua ring, complements ice blade with hydro shot  which can also target your opponents bench.

If you’re facing a massive threat, such as a powered up Metagross GX or Gardevoir GX you can use Tapu Storm GX to shuffle them away and give you some breathing space. Timing is extremely important as you need to maximise the time it gives you to get ahead of your opponent. Don’t remove something that Luminious Barrier could be blocking unless you really need to!

The rest of this deck is built around supporting these three key Pokémon and controlling the flow of the main game field. Octillery and Tapu Lele GX are for consistency, the glut of energy is to ensure that you can confidently discard with Ultra Ball to then Aqua Patch them back on to accelerate the deck.

Options shown below are to switch Rescue Stretchers for Super Rods. If you find yourself running out of energy then swap in a Super Rod instead of a Rescue Stretcher. Brock’s Grit is there for mid-late game recycling too.

Tapu Fini GX

4 Alolan Vulpix (Beacon)
2 Alolan Ninetales GX
2 Alolan Ninetales (Luminous Barrier)
2 Tapu Fini GX
2 Tapu Lele
2 Remoraid
2 Octillery
4 Professor Sycamore
4 N
1 Brigette
1 Brock’s Grit
4 Guzma
2 Acerola
2 Rescue Stretcher/Super Rod
4 Choice Band
2 Float Stone
4 Ultra Ball
4 Aqua Patch
12 Water Energy

 

 

Shining Legends Announced!

Shining Legends Announced

The next TCG expansion, Sun & Moon: Shining Legends has been announced.  This news via Pokemon.com;

This new expansion features appearances by Legendary and Mythical Pokémon, including Zekrom, Latios, Keldeo, and more. You’ll also find some of your favorite Pokémon as extra-powerful Pokémon-GX, including Entei-GX and Mewtwo-GX. If that wasn’t enough, another cool aspect of this expansion (and the feature from which it takes its name) are the Shining Pokémon that can be discovered—be on the lookout for Shining Jirachi, Shining Volcanion, and many more.

 

All of these Pokémon will feature their shiny colours. Normally shiny or shining means holofoil or reverse holofoil cards. However for Shining Legends this means that the Pokémon have different sets of colours.

Shiny Pokémon

Shiny Pokémon are extremely rare occurrences in the video game. At less than a 0.1% chance of occurring you could play through a game and never discover one! Some have subtle differences whereas others such as Shiny Charizard are dramatically different.

shiny comparison

As well as being ‘Shining‘ the featured Pokémon will also be ‘Legends‘ – we are expecting to see Hoopa, Mewtwo, Ho-oh, Zekrom, Reshiram, Latios, (and Latias?), Entei (Raikou & Suicine?), Jiriachi, Volcanion and more!

I would fully expect at least a shiny Charizard, Rayquaza, and Luiga as well seeing as how these Pokémon are so iconic to the series. Charizard and Rayquaza are known for their dramatic colour change when they are shiny.

Shining Legends Boosters

Each Booster for Shining Legends will have 11 cards instead of 10, 2 of which are holofoil – so you have more chance of getting the truly shiniest of shinies!

However boosters will not be for sale individually, they will be in boxed sets which we expect to be similar to how the Generations sets were released.

BDIF – Honchkrow/Tapu Koko

With Worlds coming up, I want to talk about my favourite deck: Honchkrow/Tapu Koko. As always, we’ll be deciding whether the deck earns the title Best Deck in Format or Bad Deck Idea Friday!

Why Honchkrow?Honchkrow Guardians Rising

Honchkrow/Tapu Koko can deal massive amounts of damage with a bit of setup. Damage counts can start reaching ridiculous number (300s, 400s +). You’re running one prize attackers that can 1HKO your opponent’s Pokémon a great deal of the time.  This deck aims to punish your opponent for every choice they make.

Sounds like one of those bad spiels you read before a really terrible deck list gets posted. There are flaws with this deck and I will be the first one to admit it. Your opponent can play around what you’re doing. They can Bench fewer Pokémon, Field Blower away your Stadiums or run cards like Machoke (GRI) or Mr. Mime (BKT) to stop you doing damage to the Bench. Then you need at least one turn (preferably two) of Tapu Koko before you can start swinging with Honchkrow. And of course each KO reduces the damage you will do next turn. But with the combination of different ways to do damage in this deck, it overcomes these drawbacks to shine.

Like Vespiquen, this deck is a glass cannon deck. You need to be ready to lose your Tapu Kokos and Honchkrows. However, once you start sweeping it is really hard for your opponent to stay in the race.

The List

Pokemon
3 Tapu Koko (SM Promo 30)
4 Murkrow (GRI 78)
4 Honchkrow (GRI 79)
2 Shaymin-EX (ROS 77)
2 Tapu Lele-GX (GRI 60)

Trainers
4 Professor Sycamore
3 N.
2 Teammates
1 Brigette
2 Hex Maniac
2 Guzma
1 Brock’s Grit
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Special Charge
1 Team Magma’s Secret Base
2 Po Town
2 Nest Ball
2 Energy Loto
2 Rescue Stretcher
2 Bursting Balloon

Energy
4 Double Colourless Energy
4 Electric Energy

The StrategyTapu Koko

You always want to open with Tapu Koko to start spreading the love. I choose to go second to start doing damage as quickly as possible. A couple of turns of Tapu Koko putting 20 damage on everything and it stacks up! You’re going to have to sacrifice a Tapu Koko or two before your Honchkrows can start OHKOing everything. However, as they are only worth one prize to the opponent that’s ok! Going two prizes down is not really a problem for this deck. But three prizes down and things start looking iffy, so be careful.

I keep a couple of cards on the side that I can switch in and out before events depending on how I want the deck to play. Trainers Mail can help the deck run smoothly (-2 Bursting Balloon), Choice Band is an obvious, well, choice (-2 Bursting Balloon), and the addition of Drampa-GX (GRI) can be a great two of (once again probably -2 Bursting Balloon).

The only trouble with Drampa is that whilst you’re hitting with him you’re not pulling off your main strategy of spreading damage. To counter that, I’d definitely be running two Choice Band so that he can start trying to take 1HKOs for me (-1 Teammates, -1 Hex Maniac) and possibly a Professor Kukui (-1 Shaymin-EX as with two Lele this isn’t suicide anymore). This of course starts to make major changes to the deck, so it’s not a strategy that I employ often as it hurts the consistency.

Individual Card Choices

There are a few choices in here that I’m sure will raise some people’s eyebrows. Let’s take a look at a couple:

Hex Maniac

I choose to run two copies of this for the main reason that Krows can function absolutely fine without Abilities. I actually came close to adding Garbotoxin Garbodor in to the deck for this reason. However, I felt that the addition of six new cards (two Trubbish, two Garb, two Float Stone at least) would damage the consistency too much. But there are a lot of decks out there that rely on their Abilities. So, I chose two Hex Maniac. This increases the chance of drawing one. It also makes sure that if one was prized it wouldn’t be a problem. A timely Hex Maniac can swing entire matches, so I felt that it was definitely worth the extra space!

Energy Loto

There was one huge problem I had when I started trying to build Krows. Both getting set up and recovering after being KOd was not a guarantee. Finding the Murkrow/Honchkrow was easy enough with the Supporters and Items that are designed for just that, but finding the DCEs proved difficult. The only real card we have to find Special Energy at the moment is Energy Loto. I’ve found that running two of this card has really boosted my ability to set up. It’s just a no brainer in a deck that relies on its DCEs!

Teammates

Like Hex Maniac, I run two copies of Teammates. One would probably be sufficient, but I’ve found that being able to guarantee Teammates is just too powerful. When one Honchkrow goes down, you Teammates to make sure you have at least one more set up. So, to mitigate the risks of prizing one Teammates and to increase the chances of drawing it, I run two. YMMV.

Bursting Balloon

I hope that the reason for running this card is obvious. Should the opponent hit into it, they take 60 damage thereby increasing your overall damage count. Should they Field Blower it away, that’s a Field Blower that isn’t taking out your Stadium later on. In an ideal world I’d be running four of these suckers and maybe an Eco Arm to pull them back for extra annoyance factor. However, I just couldn’t find the space. Still, I find two is enough to bring your opponent up short and hopefully pepper some more damage across the board.

Brock’s Grit

I’ve really ummed and ahhed over this one. Originally, Brock was actually Karen (make of that what you will) to counter Vespiquen and get rescue all the discarded Pokémon at once. In the end I went with Brock as I feel that right now, Drampa-GXs Righteous Edge is a bigger threat to this deck – or at least one I’m more likely to face – and so I needed a way to recycle those precious four Electric Energy along with choosing which Pokémon get returned to the deck.

Tapu Koko

As the card you want to start with, conventional wisdom says that you should run four copies of it to maximize drawing potential at the beginning of the game. Maybe this is me showing why I’m not a top player, but I find three to be just enough to pretty much always start with it and gives a slot for something else.

Matchups

So one of the reasons that this deck isn’t Tier 1 is its matchups. I love this deck, but it is still a BDIF deck. Here is how it does against some of the matchups we’ve tested:

Vespiquen: Favourable

You can tell I started writing this just after Michael Pramawat won Madison Regionals with his Vespiquen deck. Bees is always a tough deck, though it hasn’t featured as much in the meta recently. However, we have a few things going for us here – Vespiquen prefers to face 2 Prize attackers and our main attackers are all worth 1 Prize. Vespiquen is a relatively low HP attacker, so we only really need 1 round of Tapu Koko to start OHKOing them. And even if they run Mind Jack Zoroark, our deck doesn’t often run at a full bench and often only has Tapu Lele and 2 back up Krows on it, making it a 2HKO to our 1HKO. Overall, Vespiquen is an OK match up for Honchkrow/Tapu Koko.

Gyarados: Favourable to Autowin

People who play Gyarados do not like this deck. Gyarados relies on keeping their 30HP Magikarp damaged but alive on the Bench, and between Team Magma’s Secret Base and Tapu Koko, we can eat them alive every turn. Their main attacker is also weak to electric, so they’ll be taking 40 damage in the Active spot from a Tapu Koko. We’re also running electric energy so that if necessary we can power up a Tapu Koko to hit Gyarados for weakness doing 200 damage. Overall, Tapu Koko can pretty much handle this deck by himself, and will often win because the opponent simply has no more Pokémon to play. A fun tech if you think you’ll be facing a lot of Gyarados decks is Wide Lens from Roaring Skies, assuring that you’ll be hitting Benched Magikarp, Gyarados and any Shaymin-EXs for 40 damage each instead of 20.

Garbodor: 50/50 to unfavourable

Garbodor is  difficult one. This deck is running at least an average number of items if not above average, and Honchkrow is a relatively low HP attacker in this format, making it an easy KO for Garbodor. However, Garbodor’s HP is also relatively low at 120HP making it an easy return KO for Krows. Drampa/Garb players do help us out by running Team Magma’s Secret Base and/or Rainbow Energy to up our damage count for us. In the end this matchup probably comes down to who can KO first and who can stream attackers the best. I’d be tempted to say Garbodor has the upper hand as with each KO our damage count goes down and Garbodor also usually runs Drampa-GX whose Righteous Edge can be a real problem for us – though that is exactly why we run three Special Charges and four Electric Energy.

Decidueye: Unfavorable

There are several variants of Decidueye. I’ve found that Vileplume is a nuisance to Krows, but the deck can cope without items. It’ll be slower, and if I think I’ll be facing lots of item lock I’ll boost the Tapu Lele and Shaymin counts. But the real problem for Krows is Decidueye itself. With two feather arrows and a Leaf Blade they can take the OHKO. They’re 250HP means that it is extremely hard to get the 1HKO in return. The two copies of Hex Maniac really help here, but unless you plan to chain Hex, there’s only so much they can do.

 

All in all, Honchkrow is a super fun deck to play and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. You won’t win all your matches but you’ll do well enough to really make an impact. Given its matchups I think this deck is probably a Bad Deck Idea Friday but you never know!

Expanded Rotation 2017/18

Expanded Banlist Announced!

As discussed recently, only one card, Shiftry was banned in the Expanded format of Pokémon TCG. Shiftry expandedL Trump Card - Banned

However as of 18th August 2017 Forest of Giant Plants and Archeops will be banned from Expanded while Shiftry will be unbanned.

Unlike many other TCGs this is not common. Pokémon tends to be quite well playtested, resulting in very few bans. Why print a card if you’re just going to render it obsolete? In the example of Shiftry it was banned before it was legal to play – it was a massive exception as stated by TCPI:

No cards were banned from the Standard format. It will be an extremely rare occurrence for cards to be banned from the Standard format.

Another recent, banned card was ‘Lysandres Trump Card’ which could have lead to infinite game length and so was banned. Again the theme of what’s best for the game seems to shine through in the reasoning. Long may it continue!

What this means – Banlists?

 

However, this recent announcement of a bigger banlist, even if it only adds of a pair of cards, is a huge step for the Pokémon TCG!

Triad of Awesome

This means that in future Pokémon TCG may have other banned cards depending on the type of the decks played. Key points include preventing Turn 1 or Turn 0 wins/knockouts before your opponent has had a chance to play anything. This seems reasonable and keeps the expanded format mature. Interestingly Sableye with Life Dew and Puzzles of Time is still fine!

 

 

Why these cards?

Forest of Giant PlantsForest of Giant Plants [XY Ancient Origins 74/98]

– This is probably the most ‘controversial’ in that the effects are numerous and widespread. Forest of Giant Plants enables rapid evolution of grass type Pokémon. This facilitated Stage 2 Pokémon to be played on turn 1. While facing a  Turn 1 Venusaur might not be ideal, Pokémon like Vilplume could item lock you. Alternatively a bench full of Decidueye-GX could easily snipe you off the table.

The effect of this ban are immediately obvious – many grass decks, or decks that had a large grass component, will be nerfed. Decidueye-GX/Vileplume, Lurantis-GX/Vileplume, Seismitoad-EX/Vileplume – in fact most Vileplume!

In this instance it wasn’t the actual card itself, but the strategies which it facilitated that led to it being banned.

ArcheopsArcheops [BW Noble Victories 67/101] – Again nothing exists in a vacuum. Archeops was often combined with Maxies Hidden Ball Trick. This card enabled Archops, or indeed any Fighting Pokémon to be reliably played from the discard pile. Generally Gallade and Archeops were chosen for their abilities. (And Gallade has a decent attack too!)

Archeop’s Ancient Power Ability stopped evolving. Outside of Evosoda or Wally type effects, neither player could evolve. This could easily stop several decks (including those relying on Forest of Giant Plans!) dead in their tracks. While the Maxie+Archeops trick relies on several cards (E.G. Battle Compressor to put the Archeops in the discard pile) it seemed that the most direct route was to ban Archeops itself. Several other strategies (Dark Patch, Dowsing Machine, Bees, Night March) rely on Battle Compressor so that would’ve been a bad choice and Maxies’ isn’t overpowered by itself. Unfortunately for our favorite fossilized bird, the easiest thing was to ban it! I’m sure it’s time will come around again however.

State of the Game – Expanded Post GUR/BUS

Standard Context

It’s tournament season for Pokémon, Guardians Rising (GUR) has only recently been released and everyone is waiting to see what impact it has on the state of the game. The key card clearly has been Tapu Lele-GX [Wonder Tag] with others such as Drampa-GX and Garbodor [Trashalanche] making massive impacts. 3 Lele Expanded

The clear winner is Tapu Lele seeing multiple copies played in almost every successful deck – The winner ran 4! The change of the Standard game to a more slower, slightly less consistent format is clearly seen.

Less clear however, is how GUR has effected Expanded – there have not been any major Expanded tournaments and Liverpool 2018 and Worlds 2017 will be in the Standard format just after Burning Shadows has released.

Expanded StateShiftry expanded

Expanded consists of the Black & White series onwards, it has not rotated any already legal sets as of the 2017/8 rotation announcement although we are waiting for any clarifications, with rumours of a new banlist.  Unlike standard nothing has been invalidated yet. At present the only banned card is Shiftry due to the Turn 1 Giant Fan ‘donk’. This was a consistent way to win before you opponent had a turn! Not fun!

Online we’re seeing many of the same decks – Bees, Nightmarch, Maxie’s Yveltal, Turbo Darkrai, Zygarde/Cabink and even a smidgen of my beloved Sableye. At present many capable decks are in testing. These tend to be quite powerful standard decks too – Tapu Bulu for example, just made better for Expanded.

Staple format cards such as Colress, Ghetsis, Battle Compressor and others can essentially ‘expand’ a standard deck. Generally these cards make a deck faster or more consistent. We will have to wait and see what news the Pokémon Company International releases soon!

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Welcome to Poké Post UK!

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