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.
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.
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.
The venue for the League Cup was our local League’s Nerd World- Southampton’s only independent nerd store and first time running a Cup last Saturday, the 10th Feb. As usual, Ace Trainer Sarah did much better than me too!
There were 23 masters and 7 Juniors/Seniors too. Quite a few locals, some from Team PoTown and a couple of outsiders who had travelled quite far.
For my 3nd League Cup I was still running Buzzwole/Lycanroc (aka ‘Superfly’) with lessons learned from Reading – this time the deck was more streamlined and included a one of Zygarde-EX to help against any Mew/Mewtwo/Mew-EX counter-tech’s that seemed highly popular. (You can grab a text file of the decklist here)
I brought Buzzwole because I didn’t have practice with anything else. Ace Trainer Sarah was also running the deck (I was using her list) since we both practice together and the only difference was that she had a Lillie and I had a Zygarde-EX – to counter against any sort of Mew/Mewtwo tech that crucified me at Reading.
Overall the list was similar to Reading except streamlined to be slightly more consistent version with less, crazy techs. The exception being Zygarde because I used to run a Zygarde/Lucario list before rotation and it so was a comfortable inclusion. The deck rotation with really aggressive very similarly played anyway so that’s what brought.
As before with very little Psychic in the format and quite a bit of Zoroark (who’s weak to Fighting) it is a good deck to run. Aggressive and relatively simple to handle. Having been violently ill most of this past week I didn’t get any testing done aside from a half-dozen games online (which went well) and I was almost considering not going to the event since I haven’t been sleeping well as a result of illness. However, in the end I decided to stick with it and I’m glad I did go – read on to find out why!
League Cup – Swiss Rounds
Round 1 – Volcanion (Jacob)
So we kicked off the first Southampton Pokémon League Cup on time. We got going and I was on T13 against a guy from Cardiff. Adjacent to me on T14 was Sarah against his friend who I’d seen at Reading – they travel quite a bit and were clearly competent players.
Game 1 – My opponent was playing Volcanion with no Kiawe. I got rapidly set up and took four prizes, then he caught up by a bit but then I hit into my Guzmas and managed to finished him off.
I used the usual sort of approach like pulling in targets with Lycanroc to get the KOs. The Max Elixir and Multi-Switch spicy tech is good for breaking up expectations in the tempo too.- Win
Game 2 – I managed to win the second game with time to spare which was good considering that the rounds were 45 minute best of 3 –Win
Round 2 – Zoroark/Lycanrock/Tech (Tyler)
This round was against Tyler who is a local, but new to our league. I haven’t played him before so was unaware of what he was running or quite how good he was until we started playing. Turns out he’s very good!
Game 1 – A Benchbarrier Mr Mime was among the first things found by Brigette but there was no Mewtwo – it was stuck in prizes! (And it turned out to be the last prize too!) Aside from the minor annoyance of Juggle Boy, the game went relatively smoothly and I was able to build on 4 early prizes to power up a buzzwole for a final KO – Win
Game 2 -Somehow, again, the Mewtwo was prized and wasn’t drawn during the game and it went similar to the first one. I was able to do my usual technique of rushing ahead but thankfully my deck is now consistent enough that I can then recover to claim the last prizes. – Win
Round 3 – VikaBulu (Craig)
Craig is another local who is quite good competitively. I have beaten him in a Volcanion Mirror to win a Challenge and similarly have been beaten by him in a Nightmarch Mirror for him to win! So I wasn’t going to be complacent in this League Cup!
Game 1 – I opened with an N to disrupt his hand while chipping away at a Bulu. Despite his attempts to set up I Leled for another N to keep the disruption going and was even able to take a cheeky KO on a benched Grubbin with Jet Punch. Having been beaten soundly by Bulu at Reading, and having studied and played it extensively I knew that the trick is to prevent their setup at any cost. By the time a Vikavolt was online I was just able to Rogue-GX the Bulu for game – Win
Game 2 – We had plenty of time left for game 2 and it started quite similarly although this time Craig had a curse of the dreaded ‘bulu-hands’. I’m not even use he got a Vikavolt online although he managed to attack with one which had gotten 3 manual energy attachments! His spicy baby Mew tech couldn’t really work without the energy from Vikavolt and his Tapu Koko was weak to Buzzwole meaning that I secured game 2, thanks in large part to his terrible luck – Win
During lunch, prior to Round 4 I had been approached by a random player (also on 3 wins, but as it turns out I wasn’t paired against him) who asked for an ID if we were to play and to be honest I would rather have played to ensure that there was no way someone could get 4 wins and out-score me. Although it would still mean Top 8 I guess. Either way my actual Round 4 opponent needed a win to Top 8 and I was keen to play so we cracked on!
Round 4 – Sylveon/Gardevoir (Tony)
This opponent was from Po Town, although I only vaguely recognised him but the day was getting on. He seemed nice and informed me that I had the favourable match up which I must admit I was skeptical of since I know how brutal Garde can be!
Game 1 – I unapologetically went for the Remoraids and made fish fingers out of them. I know that Garde needs to draw cards to get the energy and by sabotaging this early I would be able to win a war of attrition. Being able to hit the bench allowed me to soften up any Ralts/Kirlias before they evolved into Gardevoirs putting them in a OHKO range. He also had a spicy Mewtwo tech but it was prized in this game.- Win
Game 2 – Similar to the first although although much closer. He managed to get a couple of Gardes up and running, Mewtwo came out but Gallade was prized which didn’t help him and quite like the first and again I hunted the draw support. Although it got recycled his tempo was disrupted by my playing of N and my deck was just more consistently able to keep dishing out damage. When I got Lycanrock-GX online he played a clever Parallel City targeting himself to shrink his bench putting me out of OHKO range with Rogue-GX! There was a point where he went Sycamore fishing for a DCE but with 2 in the discard and 1 on the field it didn’t happen. I N-ed away his DCE during time so avoided the OHKO on my Buzzwole – Win
The deck was regular Gardie and with no crazy techs so it was a case of just punch the little guys and keep knocking things out.
Of note was also the pair on table 1 beside us who IDed and one sat there literally studying my deck as I played it. It seemed a little gamey but on the other hand I was glad that I was considered a substantial threat!
Round 5 – ID
I don’t even know what my opponent was playing but we Intentionally Drew meaning that we each got a point, got into top 8 and more importantly got a 45 minute break. It was nice to get a break, taking paracetamol for a headache and get some food to keep my sugar level sustained for the Top 8. Getting to use the loo was good too!
Swiss result: 4-0-1 (13) = #1 seed! I was quite happy with that result and to achieve my goal of making the Top 8 cut. Interestingly, my first 2 opponents also made top 8 as did Sarah (seed #7)
League Cup – Single Elimination
So I’d managed to make the Top 8 and hadn’t lost a round during the Swiss either 🙂
#1 – Buzzwole/Lycanroc (Me) vs #8 – Volcanion
#2 – Gardevoir vs #7 – Buzzwole/Lycanroc (Sarah)
#3 – Vika Bulu vs #6 – Vika Bulu
#4 – Gardevoir/Zoroark vs #5 – Zoroark/Lycanroc (Tyler)
Overall there was a good standard of skilled players present as well as a few ‘known names’ from around. (Although the biggest were probably abroad in Austraila!) Three locals making Top 8 was also pretty good showing that we didn’t get stomped.
The second games against my first two opponents were more difficult – they clearly learned more about my than I had learned about them and it was tougher although I guess I was confident since I’d already beaten them before.
Top 8 – Volcanion (again!)
Game 1/2 -I was paired against Volcanion again and hit no max elixirs and started to brick loosing game 1 relatively quickly. In game 2 I stupidly put down a Remoraid and meant to play a Rockfuff (to Lycanroc next turn) but my finger was off it (apparently that’s a thing, like in chess) However I drew into an Octillery which gave me the recover power I needed. Karma’s a bitch! -Loss/Win
Game 3 went to time and we couldn’t finish so with 1 win each, we went to Sudden Death. I had to take a 2 hit KO and take a risk – he needed 3 steam ups on his baby Volcanion and used Sycamore, only hitting 2. He possibly could have powered up a Volcanion-EX but I think he missed that option thankfully. It was the biggest gamble of the day but my only option to win so I had to take it. Sudden Death is a bit scary as it can be highly luck dependant, however I felt that my hyper-aggressive deck had the edge here.
Top 4 – Zoroark/Lycanroc/Tech (again!!)
Game 1 – This time Tyler had a mewtwo and it was one of the first pieces fetched by Brigette. It made my life difficult hitting for 120-ish damage while only yielding 1 prize for me. The problem was compounded by it being recycled with a Super Rod, however I managed to make the deck work consistently and take knockouts on his 1-of Buzzwole-GX and Lycanroc-GX. Certainly a lot tougher than the first time around! – Win
Game 2 -Again Mewtwo was back with a vengeance! We went to time with my Regirock just having being pulled out via Guzma. But with 1 prize to take, 11 cards in my deck -which I knew contained the 2 each of the Float Stone and Choice Band I needed to win – I evolved Lycanroc to pull in a Zoroark, Ultra-Balled for a Remoraid to get my deck down to 10 cards and then used Prof. Sycamore. Even my luck isn’t that bad so when I’m drawing 7/10 and only need a pair of cards I managed to retreat the Regirock and hit for weakness with a Choice Band on Lycanroc for game. A lot closer than the first set of games! – Win
This also meant I was onto the final!
Top 2 – 59 Card Mirror – Sarah
We sort of had a suspicion we’d have to face each other at some point in the day, but I don’t think either of us imagined it would be in the final playoff of the League Cup.
Beforehand we agreed to split the prizes (booster box + ETB = 22 boosters each, she got dice & I got sleeves) so would be playing for the 50CP, Playmat and the Glory! I did have a suspicion that Sarah’s deck tweak would prove superior in the mirror and I know she’s practiced a lot more than me!
Since I was facing a friend at this point we didn’t really matter what happened – one of us would win and the other would still get 40CP and we were both really happy with hitting Top 8, let alone the final! Me especially since my abysmal Reading performances and I know Sarah was gutted to miss her ‘win & in’ last time.
So as mentioned Sarah and I had 59 card identical decks except my Zygarde-EX instead of her Lillie.
Game 1 – I started with Zygarde and Sarah managed a turn 1 Lillie. I did play Brooklet Hill to increase the Zygarde damage and KO a Remoraid but it also helps my opponent prevent me donking them. However that extra Lilly consistency and my inability to find a single Guzma meant that Sarah took game 1.- Loss!
Game 2 – I started a lot better and Sarah’s deck basically bricked, I didn’t have a swimming start but managed to recover and get so far ahead that she scooped to get the full time in game 3 (none of us wanted sudden death!)- Win!
Game 3 – This game was obviously quite intense (in a good way) and my tempo was a bit behind my opponents. The crux came when there was a point where I could have possibly used Rogue-GX for a KO but I didn’t because I would have been beaten next turn. So I focused on staying alive and used Guzma to buy time, but Sarah already had a counter-Guzma in hand as well as a back up attacker anyway. So with that she took the final KO and became the Southampton Cup Champion. I thus emerged 2nd with 40CP!
I am also thrilled to have been the top seed with 13 points and no losses. By contrast our Champion had 2 early draws and no losses which got her 7th seed.
I came away with 22 UPR boosters and the ETB sleeves which was good since I haven’t opened much UPR (7 packs from pre-release). Overall it was a tough day, a bit stressful at times and quite long – my timing/pace of play was good (lots of people’s games went to time, but most of mine didn’t).
I’m not half as disappointed at not winning (I hesitate to call winning all but one match loosing!) as I should probably be, but it’s easy to be happy at 2nd place when you know that it is a friend and extremely strong player who beat you. I knew that she’d play tested a lot more than I had and knew the deck a lot better than me so am really happy for my friend. Additionally I’d also been quite ill the preceding week and consequently had little opportunity for playtesting so was a bit surprised to do as well as I had done!
I’m sorry to say that could have been better. At times it was hard to hear the TO especially when things like Time was called. In addition the Seniors/Juniors were on the higher tables which were seated for adults, pushing adults down to the smaller chaired and more cramped tables.
In game 2 the constant warbling of 2 kids who kept interrupting my game and the games behind them caused me to call a judge to get them to shut up. I get that focus for kids is difficult, but don’t interrupt other peoples games because that’s just rude. In game 4 a local just walked in (which is fine) but again I’m in a game I don’t want people hovering near me when I’m trying to concentrate.
Lack of Match slips caused numerous re-pairs (3 or 4) and the reason given was that the shop didn’t want to waste paper which I think is a pretty pathetic excuse. I wouldn’t mind but I actually offered to bring a printer along or print blank match slips for the event before hand (since I already do the table numbers) so there was literally no excuse. Planning didn’t happen =(
I managed to convince the TO to print out the pairings so that he wouldn’t have to attempt to call out the pairings and have a load of people unsure as to where they needed to be. Printing them out and sticking them up proved to be the correct approach.
I’m biased towards the assistant judge since she’s my beloved but her judge calls on the day were correct, and despite subsequent discussion, still proved to be correct. She however has been put off from judging due to the event and the subsequent reactions of the TO. Her only mistake was mishearing a result which forced a repair and she was annoyed about it (and is now getting a hearing test as a result!). But if there were match slips it wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. I don’t think it’s fair to force your assistant judges into positions where mistakes like this can happen when there are systems in place to prevent mistakes from happening. To further go and undermine them by then double checking everything they’ve already done, (while the TO has made 2 mis-pairs themselves) is means that there won’t be a second judge for the next League Cup. Additionally doing 9 hours of judging at a League Cup and giving up your Saturday to receive: a foil counter catcher.. doesn’t seem right.
The judge calls made on the day were accurate although the TO almost caused a double game loss by misinforming a Senior who was in time. The Senior asked if he could win the game since they were in time and was down a game and was told that he couldn’t and was about to scoop!! I took a risk to intervene and explain that if he won then they’d have won 1 each so the round would have been a draw.
23 masters and 7 kids meant that people had Byes, and with only 3 rounds for kids it meant that 3 of them only got 2 rounds. I would have ensured that there were even numbers (say 22/8) to allow for better pairing and more rounds.
Prizing was a bit odd, while I’m not complaining to have gotten the better end of the deal in some respects I think that they are heavily balanced towards 1st and 2nd place. I would rather spread out the boosters a bit more since the CP are the goal and ensure that everyone who made Top 8 got at least something. With 7 Junior/Seniors 6 of them got prizes which again was odd.
However that all being said, this was the first League Cup and I hope that by cataloging these failings and addressing them at the next planning meeting that we can move forward and that the next one will be a lot better and more smoothly run. I hope that anyone who has opinions or feedback gives it as it’s very difficult to get the TO to change his mind about anything.
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.
I want to like Superfly. 30+30 to the bench for is pretty strong, but the 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-GX
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)
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.
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!
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.
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)
For 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!
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!
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.
R3: Xerneas BREAK
With 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!
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.
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.
R6: Greninja // Turbo-Guzzlord
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
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.
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!
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 New Year, I’ll be setting myself some Pokémon goals:
So, if you weren’t aware, this past weekend before the Christmas holidays there was a rather large Pokémon TCG tournament in Memphis. It attracted a lot of big names and there were some astoundingly high quality decks operated by equally skilled players. It could be argued that the US Pokémon TCG meta is more challenging than the European one. This is evidenced by the fact that despite no major expansion releases since the last European tournament, the metagame managed to sufficiently advance so that we saw some new decks breaking ahead by clear margins. (US vs EU meta is a topic for another time though!)
If you want the standings (as well as decklists) you can find them on the excellent Limitless TCG website. However I’ve (rather arbitrarily) taken the top 32 seeded decks and plugged the numbers into Excel to make it a bit more visually digestible.
Just a disclaimer – insightful statistical analysis isn’t really my forte so there’s no massive revelations here, it’s just some numbers and pretty charts to make things more accessible and hopefully provoke some thought with a little discussion of a couple of Rogue decks.
Naturally the decks aren’t 100% identical but I have grouped them by archetype which is usually taken to be the main 2 or 3 Pokémon types that underscore the deck.
As you can see Zoroark/Lycanroc dominated the event taking more than a third (37.5%) of the meta. Unsurprisingly this was also the archetype skillfully used by Michael Paramawat (#PramNorris!) to achieve first place in the tournament.
Zoroark-GX and Lycanroc-GX certainly were the most represented Pokémon across all of the Top 32 decks with a smattering of Golisopod-GX, Buzzwole-GX and others showing up to keep the mix interesting.
So while 37.5% (12) of all deck archetypes were Zoroark/Lycanroc, even more decks -75% (24)- contained either one of them in conjunction with other Pokémon. Leaving only a quarter (8) of Top 32 decks not running either Zoroark-GX or Lycanroc-GX. All but 2 of these 8 were established archetypes – namely Golisopod/Garbotoxin, Gardevoir, VikiBulu and Volcanion leaving us with 2 anomalies.
The Pair of Rogues
You can’t have a metagame article without paying homage to the Rogue decks of the event. Rogue Decks are the ones that people don’t see coming or don’t give much weight to. A well chosen Rogue Deck can take the Meta by surprise since not many people account for it or know how to play against it. For Memphis 2017 these were placed in 10th and 11th. I have to state that I’m glad to support a game where even fun decks can be viable and going ‘off-meta’ is a legitimate option.
Firstly in 10th place was Harrison Grandish with his Shining Legends inspired Genesect/Venusaur deck. Essentially Venusaur makes your [G] energy twice as effective powering up Shining Genesect’s Gaia Blaster attack. While I’ve heard people speak of this combination the difficulty in acquiring Shining Genesects seems to be a major barrier in people actually testing it out. However Grandish proved that this archetype actually is viable and so I expect that this will mean that interested players will invest in the cards to make this built in the near future.
Secondly, in 11th place overall was Yehoshua ‘Yoshi’ Tate with a unique Wishiwashi-GX/Hoopa/Xurkitree-GX deck. Essentially the deck functions by either absorbing hits on high HP Pokémon, such as Wishiwashi-GX or Celesteela-GX and then using Max Potion to heal, or by preventing attacks with Pokémon such as Hoopa or Xurkitree. While the opponent’s attacks are being prevented or largely ignored, the deck also seeks to discard energy and cards from the opponent’s deck via cards such as Team Rockets Handiwork. Unfortunately there isn’t a decklist available at the time of writing but hopefully soon, because I really want to try it out! I was fortunate enough to be able to watch it played on Twitch where it lost to Paramawat – but was still really great to watch.
So as promised this isn’t massively insightful mainly because I haven’t really sat down and done solid testing with any of these decks yet. I’d rather be able to give an informed opinion instead of baseless conjecture and I’m not confident enough to predict the meta ahead of a competition. In todays’ world of FOMO and clickbait style articles I’ll just have to take my time and develop proper, informed opinions based on playtesting and experience instead!
Finally if you’re interested in reading about getting better or building a community I’ve also written a couple of articles for The Dark Patch which you can find here. I’m sure they’d love the readers and I hope that you enjoy them.
On Sunday 26th November I attended Bag of Holdings‘ first League Challenge in Bournemouth. I am familiar with Bag of Holding as it’s where I usually wargame and have been to other related events.
I was armed with Christopher Schemanske‘s Max Potion ‘Brokenvoir’ list that did really well in London. I choose it since it was the deck I was most comfortable playing. In a couple of games the Max Potion really made the difference since it reset the damage clock and meant that a 2 hit KO now became a 3 hit KO and I could pull ahead in the prize trade.
There were 4 Rounds of Swiss in the League Challenge and I’ll try to give a run through of each:
Round 1 – Ash – Silvally-GX/Mewtwo-GX
The first game got off to a good start and I was facing an interesting Silvally/Mewtwo deck with some Zoroark-GXs for draw support via the Trade ability. Thankfully Mewtwo’s heavy reliance on energy meant that I could easily knock it out with my Gardevoirs. I did loose a Gardevoir in one game to Mewtwos’ GX attack with a Choice Band. The Silvallys and Zoroarks were also weak to Gallade who also synergises brilliantly with Guzma which got me the knockouts. Octillery wasn’t prized in any games which helped a lot too and so I won the first round of the Challenge.
Result 2-0 Win
Round 2 -Sarah – Zoroark/Golisopod
In round 2 of the League Challenge I faced fellow Sotonian Sarah who was running Zoroark/Golisopod. In testing she had beaten me solid with it because I wasn’t running Max Potions – however this time I was packing a full compliment of Potions.
Game 1 went well with Gallade getting the opportunity to knock out some Zoroarks and the deck ran smoothly in the first game like in the previous round, with the Max Potions helping to ensure I didn’t lose too many Pokémon.
In game 2 my Octillery line was prized and Sarah quickly took out my Kirlias as I was searching for up Gallade. I just couldn’t catch up in time and she took game 2.
Game 3 went smoothly again and I was able to trade 1 prize (Gallade) for 2 prizes (Zoroark) at least once. Sarah shifted her focus to Golisopod which was more of a problem but I was able to use Max Potions to ensure that I was able to survive the next hit and then take the KO for game 3. A tough but friendly game! Result 2-1 Win
Round 3 – Charlie -Golisopod/Zoroark
Game 3 was against another Golisopod-Zoroark Deck. Oddly he didn’t run Tapu Lele but was otherwise running a similar list to Sarah. I figured if I could beat her (she’s a great player) I could manage this. True enough I was able to take out the Zoroarks with Gallade and use Max Potions when necessary.
The games were challenging but nothing particularly unexpected occured and I was able to take both games before time which gave me time to run to the shop and get some precious, delicious caffeine! Result 2-0 Win
At this point there was only 1 other player with a 3-0-0 record but we didn’t get drawn together. (The mysteries of the TOM software are beyond my ken!) So I had to win the next round and hope that his opponent could hold him off long enough!
Round 4 – ??? – Gardevoir
This round was possibly my most apprehensive since I recognised the player as the one who beat me in the GvC draft and to make matters worse he was playing Gardevoir. So (correctly) I expected tough competition.
Game 1 – Went smoothly with me getting Brigette and Octillery online as well as KOing my Opponents Remoraid. By the time my opponent could get Gardevoirs established I was too far ahead, plus I had potions.
Game 2 – Went terribly with octillery and leles all prized so I was fighting an uphill battle all game. I did manage to get down to 2 prizes but by the time I’d recovered my opponent was too well established. I probably should have scooped to save time and try for the win on game 3. I didn’t and he took game 2. The round was almost a draw but since we were on top table we started game 3.
Game 3 – Could have gone to a donk against me as we started in final time. I Sycamored an otherwise good hand away to fish for an Ultra Ball to get a second Ralts out and on the bench to make sure that it couldn’t happen – sure enough my opponent managed to Rare Candy into a Gardevoir-GX and KO my lone Ralts so I had made the right call and we drew 1-1.
In some ways I felt that I should have won game 2 in the final round, it was more down to my deck bricking out rather than any massive tactical decisions by my opponent. He seemed surprised, although I know he is a good player and was able to capitalise. Then again my deck choice is what I have to stand by. Perhaps I should have scooped and started game 3 with more time rather than prolong my only Gardevoir with Max Potions but I didn’t and thankfully it didn’t cost me the tournament.
Result 1-1 Draw
However my rival who also had a 3-0-0 managed to lose his round meaning that I with 3-0-1 I had managed to win my 3rd Challenge in a Row and get max Championship Points for this quarter – barring any League Cups I might be fortunate enough to win.
This was a well run event with approx 14 players (12 masters) and Bag of Holding gave generous prize support for their first ever League event. I managed to pull 2 foil Magikarp (yay!) and a Full Art Alolan Exeggutor from my boosters as well as getting some snazzy 1st Place Regigigas promos. 🙂
I was overall happy with my performance but I noticed that I made mistakes in Round 4, game 2 such as forgetting to use Premonition off of Gallade which might have meant I could turn it around earlier (or might have prolonged the inevitable?) Being intimately familiar with BoH from wargaming meant that the smack talk from some other, more vocal participants, didn’t phase me and there wasn’t any metal counter-fairy decks to speak of.
The next event is a local League Challenge in the Expanded format. We’re getting a couple of external players who will be bringing their A-game. I was torn between bringing a jokey/meme deck but I guess if there’s prizes and I’m paying to enter I should probably bring my A-game too. Last time this was Volcanion/Turtonator but this time I’m not sure.
So on 11th November I went with Gardevoir-GX for League Challenge which was being held in aid of Gaming Vs Cancer.
My Decklist was fairly typical for Gardevoir-GX although I’d made a couple of tweaks. I had forgone Max Potions as I’d rather just retreat and would need to reattach energy anyway. I opted to drop float stones as well to include a 4th Sycamore and 4th Guzma instead to add consistency. I figured that since it was best of 3 games per rounds they would show up that bit more. Indeed topdeckinga Sycamore helped on a couple of occasions. Finally 2 Parallel City were there to help keep my opponents boxed in and to help against any Metagross matchups (which I managed to avoid).
Round 1 – Bye (1-0-0)
Our TO/Head Judge & Assistant Judge pair were late having gotten a bus in literally the opposite direction. So our 9:30am registration was for naught although we got kicked off by 10:30 – except that my first round was a bye since we had an odd number of players! My precious Gardevoir-GX would have to wait! I remained sane by helping out and supervising the Junior/Senior table as things got settled down.
Round 2 – Mirror! (2-0-0)
If my flourescent pink sleeves didn’t give my deck away my opponent soon realised that we were both playing Gardevoir-GX. My 2-2 line of Sylveon-GX really helped as did the extra Guzmas. I managed to pull in the Remoraids with Guzma to stop my opponent from getting Octillery(s) online which I knew would make the deck stall out. Additionally by getting down a Parallel City I managed to lock down my opponents side of the table. Sylveon-GX did most of the heavy hitting to get my prizes. I ended up going 2-0 to win my first round of the day.
Round 3 – Noivern-GX/Zoroark-GX (3-0-0)
My 2nd game in round 3 was against an off-meta Noivern/Zoroark deck. Item lock and Zoroarks ‘Trade‘ ability proved difficult to enable me to get established since I had poor starts in both rounds. However being resilient to Dark and with Noivern being weak to Fairy, I was able to OHKO the Noivern a couple of times. My opponent ran a Weakness Policy too, which was relevant in the 2nd game particularly.
Additionally a Garbotoxin Garbodor managed to slow me down, but also shut down the Trade ability. Consequently I decided against Field Blower-ing it since it was helping me and I was able to pull ahead by hitting for weakness with Gallade. Hitting Zoroark for weakness was game winning on one occasion – the Guzma being used to serve it up also amplifying Gallade’s attack. I don’t think I actually attacked with Gardevoir-GX at all this round.
This was probably my toughest match up of the day as there were a couple of occasions where I could have bricked out but the extra Sycamore enabled me to get out of it on one instance, Octillery on another. Being able to hit back for weakness really helped too. The item lock from Noivern was at times difficult and a bother but not impossible to play around. Usually my items are to get me out of a bad spot, but being only hit for 50 damage wasn’t actually too detrimental since I could usually hit back for more.
Round 4 – Raichu-GX/Zoroark-GX (4-0-0)
Disclaimer: my opponent had slightly terrible luck. We’d played before at Reading League Cup and he really is a lovely opponent.
He was running a Raichu-GX deck with Magnezone and Zoroark. I had a poor start and it took me a couple of turns to get established. Despite my over-energised Gardevoir-GX being GX-ed by an incoming Tapu Koko-GX I managed to hit back with my Gallade for weakness against his Zoroark for the game. The Guzma trick working wonders again!
Game 2 saw me start with a Lele and we ended up N-ing each other a LOT! Despite this I managed to pull ahead with Sylveon-GX and ended up having to Plea-GX to find my last DCE. Twice – because of N, but eventually it stuck and I Guzma-ed in a Zoroark-GX and OHKOed it with Gallade.
**Result: 4-0-0 for 1st Place!**
I was quite chuffed with the win and really glad that the Bye didn’t come back to bite me in the bum at the end. With other players going 3-0-1 again I knew that I had to win all 3 of my games to have a perfect score. I also didn’t concede any losses with the deck whatsoever which was nice considering how I’d been struggling with it online.
Gallade definitely helps, I’m quite sure the Max Potions are not needed, nor Acerolla – the main strength is to be more consistent (we love you Tord) and therefore get established much more quickly than your opponent. In this regard Octillery is extremely useful – but in the mid/late game – so it’s not hugely required to get him out straight away. I found that getting a Sylveon out to either Magical Ribbon or even just attack for with Fairy Wind 110 was a much more resilient strategy in the early turns.
I avoided any of the 2 (possibly 3?) Metagross decks but I did pack 2 Parallel cities ready to bounce up any Metagrosses with Plea-GX. I also didn’t face Golisopod which was probably my least favourable matchup since they dedicate so much of the deck to controlling the game to hit with First Impressions. From what I could tell there were no fire decks of any sort nor any Greninja.
The cohort from the Isle of Wight were really lovely and had quite a diverse array of decks and playstyles.
To finish; my MVP for the day was Gallade. He synergized perfectly with Guzma to counter Zoroark-GX on several occasions and won me games as a result. Being a 1 prize attacker he was slightly more expendable and of course the Premonition ability also just helped to round things out. Certainly worth the inclusion.
The only bittersweet part is that now with Crimson Invasion rotating into standard I’m wondering how much of the deck will change (if at all)? I think that I would like to find room for a Gladeon and Lusamine – perhaps instead of the extra Guzma and Sycamore – since both add consistency in different ways and so will be definite includes in my future deck testing.
Today I’m going to look at Viable Pokémon EX and GX in the Standard format. Expanded has several gems that shine but they are usually quite niche within their own deck types.
This post idea was partially inspired by a reddit post on r/pkmntcg.
Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends aren’t really discussed since there has not been any major events where they’ve both been legal yet! The next big event will be Internationals at London (which I’m unable to go to this year 🙁 ) When I next do an article on Viable Pokémon it will include these and probably the next set!
Anyway, without further ado –
Viable Pokémon EX:
As per the heading, viable pokemon that are EXs from before the Sun & Moon sets.
Regirock-EX FCO – Used on the bench to add +10 damage. However Fighting isn’t featuring heavily at the moment and even then there’s usually better ways to get more damage that doesn’t rely on an ability in a Garbotoxin meta.
Volcanion-EX STS – Volcanion is a whole archetype by itself. Heavily used for the ‘Steam Up’ ability in Volcanion/Turtonator but also in Ho-Oh/Salazzle for the added damage.
Darkrai-EX BKP – Rarely used in standard at the moment but still a key component of a Darkrai based deck.
Espeon-EX BKP – Used as a 1 of tech in certain decks (Espeon-GX/Garb or Drampa-GX/Garb) for the devolving attack. Often seen in decks with Po Town since re-evolving means another round of damage counters.
Pokémon-GX that ‘never’ see competitive play:
Never is a strong word but at the moment it seems correct! This may change in the future of course, but for the moment these aren’t seen as competitivly viable Pokémon.
Kommo-o is possibly the only ‘non-viable’ card on the list due to lack of Double Dragon Energy but the rest are not very competitive or are relatively lack lustre in the current state of the game. Arguably ‘counter energy’ from Crimson Invasion works as DDE although it’s a bit more conditional than the traditional DDE. The Prism Quad Energy might also work but is still a corner case.
Charizard, Machamp, Lunala, Incineroar, Tsareena, Primarina, Snorlax & Beware – just don’t really bring enough awesomeness to the table to justify their inclusion compared to other GX’s out there.
Toxapex – people want it to work but it is rather clunky and the 3 Psychic attack cost is prohibitive.
Umbreon – a tricksy card with some interesting effects on its attacks. However sadly it loses out on raw power compared to other ‘mons and also on utility compared to Sylveon or Espeon. The low damage output for the energy investment leaves Umbreon a relatively uncompetitive choice outside of a dedicated energy denial deck.
Noivern – I want to like this card since it is Seismitoad 2.0 but lack of DDE and odd colour requirements (Psychic and Dark) means that for the moment it’s relegated to the sidelines. Update: I did end up facing one at our League Challenge which was interesting. Weakness to Fairy does hurt though!
Random off-meta/rogue Pokémon-GX:
These are Pokémon-GX that are not terrible, or only feature as an option in some main decks, or feature as a counter to certain other decks.
Wishiwashi, Marshadow – they may have a use but are better in expanded decks where they can be a little bit more viable.
Raichu – People are trying to make it work and it is a Stage 1 compared to Gardevoir-GX being a stage 2. (Also early days since it is from Shining Legends.)
Gumshoos – counters Gardevoir-GX and was included in some finalists decks recently for that very reason.
Alolan Muk – Needs a deck built around its conditions and a way to capitalise on them. Could pair well with Raticate BREAK.
Darkrai – Part of the Darkrai deck, also works in expanded.
Lapras – Can be the centre of a deck based on water toolbox, stall/wall or other variants.
Solgaleo – not in the ‘never’ pile because it counters Gardevoir and has a decent ability and GX attack. Still quite niche, paired with Metagross. The new one in January will be the killer.
Lycanroc – the literal rogue deck, bloodthirsty eyes is a free Lysandre effect while the GX attack can punish an unaware opponent. Combine with Regirock-EX for much lolz! This card has become popular as a partner with Zoroark-GX as it also counters enemy Zoroarks.
Vikivolt – can be included in Vikivolt/Bulu as a backup attacker.
Thoroughly Viable Pokémon that are included in some deck types as a 1 or 2 count or as a secondary attacker in competitive decks.
Tapu Fini – a vicious GX attack and colourless main attack make this a useful tech in decks that run rainbow energy such as GoliGarb or Drampa/Garb.
Espeon – combine with Garb for a Psychic shenanigans deck. Turn 1 Eevee to Espeon and hit with the Confuse Ray is a solid play.
Tapu Koko – fits into Vikivolt/Bulu or some people replace the Bulu all together. Can jump in late game, steal all the energy and hit you when you least expect it. Like most of the Tapu-GXs it has no weakness.
Necrozma– Included for Black Ray GX – if you think its worth 3 energy. Cat sticks this in Golisopod to put pretty much everything in One Hit KO range. Also good in expanded thanks to Dimension Valley reducing the cost of it’s attacks.
Decidueye – fallen out of favour but still viable, especially in baby Alolan Ninetales decks. 99% of the time its for Feather Arrow.
Lurantis – used to be combined with Golisopod, though fallen out of favour at the moment.
Tauros – features more in Expanded I think, but some decks include it for its versatility of 3 different attacks for a DCE. Gets stronger as it gets injured which is nice too!
Sylveon – although a decktype by itself (Quad Sylveon Box), it used to feature heavily in Gardevoir decks. The Energy Eeveelution ability and Magical Ribbon ability for 1 Fairy energy makes this a great Turn 1 play (especially if you go 2nd!)
Archetype Defining Pokémon-GX:
These aren’t just Viable Pokémon, these GX’s are so good that they have a whole deck archetype centred around them!
Tapu Bulu – (Vikivolt/Bulu) Extremely consistent damage and setup with some built in resilience in the form of a healing GX attack. Probably the lower end of the top tier but one you have to be able to beat.
Metagross – It hard-counters Gardevoir although it’s not guaranteed since Gardevoir is more consistent. It can be clunky and brick up if things go wrong. The max 180 damage cap is also quite painful although this is easier to swallow with 250hp and Max Potions. Includes lots of switcheroos to get rid of the ‘can’t attack next turn’ penalty.
Gardevoir– Arguably the best deck in format at the moment. Has optional techs to improve consistency (Sylveon, Octillery) and hits for ‘bigger-numbers-that-you’ almost all of the time. However it is still beatable and not an easy deck to ‘pilot’ requiring skill to use effectively. I’ve tried testing it many times and I still lose because I’m not very good at using it yet! Update: I managed to go 4-0-0 at a league Challenge with this on 11/11/17
Golisopod– relatively tough stage 1 that has several attack options. Most of the time it’s hitting for 120 for 1 Grass which is excellent value for energy. Needs the deck built around supporting it but still has room for things like Garbodor and even promo Tapu Koko for free retreating shenanigans. Crossing cut GX and a choice band can take a KO and keep it safe for another turn of switcheroo shenanigans.
Turtonator /Ho-Oh/Salazzle– A variety of the fire archetypes, usually includes some Volcanion-EX to help with the damage output. Turtonator vs Ho-Oh is more of a meta call, there’s almost no electric in the format (yet) but Ho-Oh does need 4 energy to properly attack compared to Turtonators 3, AND Ho-Oh can’t use the big attack next turn. Salazzle an option for late game KOs when you get down to your last couple of prizes and need to pull ahead.
Ninetales – another 210 hp stage 1 with decent attacks. The support that water has is really good with aqua patch so it can power up quickly. The Ice Path GX damage swap can also help keep you going. Usually includes a baby Alolan Ninetales to help against pesky EX/GX decks. Needs to watch out for Metagross though!
Drampa – There’s very little fighting in the meta at the moment so weakness isn’t an issue – exceptions being Gallade in Gardevoir, Lycanrock-GX in Zoroark and Buzzwole-GX. A good early game GX attack to net you 10 cards is helpful and it has a variety of partners in the game. Drampa can also be splashed as a tech in quite a few decks and can be quite threatening as a result. Probably the most played of these cards outside of a dedicated deck archetype for good reason.
It’s worth mentioning in an article about Viable Pokémon – Tapu Lele-GX
Almost all competitive decks have 2-4 (usually 3) copies of Tapu Lele-GX because it’s that good (broken!) Literally its only flaw is its’ 170HP. It has no weakness and an excellent retreat cost of 1.
The Power Drive attack only requires 1 DCE and in a format where a lot of energy is required it can really punish an opponent. Especially against things like Gardevoir GX or Fire decks. I have ‘donked’ several opponents who have played a 60hp Pokémon (eg Alolan Vulpix) attached an energy. My turn I attach a DCE and then hit for 60 for KO. Not a common occurrence, but still occasional enough that even starting with it isn’t the end of the world.
The Wonder Tag ability alone enables several strategies involving things like Kiawe for fire types or Bridgette for decks that require a rapid set up. As long as you have access to a Tapu Lele-GX (or the means to get one via an Ultra Ball for example) then you can get established quickly.
The only real downside is the financial cost, however this is beginning to drop (as I think it’s hitting saturation point) and since it can be used in all of your decks it’s worth investing in. I do need to do an article about actual real-world costs at some point soon. However the very fact that you can use it in any of your decks means that it’s not a wasted investment if you play at all competitively.
Too soon to say:
The new Crimson Invasion (CRI) and Shining Legends hasn’t really been tested in the crucible of battle yet although Zoroark-GX is looking popular and I’m sure people will be gunning to use the new Ultra Beasts where possible. More will be revealed in the upcoming London Internationals I’m sure!
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.
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.
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.
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.