Originally this was supposed to be a write up of 2 different Expanded League Challenges (Southampton & Bournemouth) however due to family commitments I wasn’t able to make either of them. So instead I’m going to give a quick run down of Standard vs Expanded and which might be best for your community.
A disclaimer: I’m not that worried what format is played per se, I’ve got 2 copies of most relevant ACE Spec. cards and can field most meta-relevant decks in each format. So it’s not a case of ‘waagh no cards’!
Standard & Expanded
Since 2014 the Expanded format has been from Black & White onwards which covers a fair range of cards including the infamous ACE Spec. cards. Any given newly released set might only have a couple of cards relevant to Expanded, cards which are sometimes ‘unusable’ in Standard format can find life in an expanded deck.
Standard, by contrast to Expanded, rotates about 4 sets every year – I would imagine by August 2018 that we’ll jump to Sun & Moon (SM1) onwards. Additionally each new set tends to shake up the metagame significantly, although not all sets are created equally. Guardians Rising’s Tapu Lele-GX significantly shook up things as did Gardevoir. Buzzwole from Crimson Invasion is possibly the only relevant Pokémon in the set!
Our local league is Expanded format. The reasoning given is that it allows for more variety of deck and a wider range of cards to be played. Supposedly this makes it easier for new players to play. However most of the people who turn up don’t have meta-relevant decks anyway and those that do tend to be geared towards Standard format. Those who do bring really old cards are still told that they can’t play them. Additionally newer players will not have bought any non-Standard cards so now in order to compete they need to search for things like VS Seekers, Battle Compressors, Blacksmith, Dark Patch or whatever makes their deck work. Most do not have these.
The store that hosts the league also sells Standard format cards, with the exception of Zoroark-GX boxes, nothing is massively relevant to the expanded format. While the current top Expanded decks have many similarities to Standard meta decks (namely the Pokémon) the supporters and trainers are usually quite niche and not available in store.
Accordingly, I don’t think that expanded is actually more accessible for newer players. Most new players only have more recent cards and then they have to start looking to get ACE Specs, VS Seeker, Blacksmith, Dark Patch or whatever is needed to make a viable deck. Most of our players do not have these except the competitive people who only turn up to events.
Additionally the shop that hosts us doesn’t have cards for Expanded, only standard so it hits their sales since if I was a Expanded only player there’s very little I need so am less likely to buy cards. Essentially we’re selling them Standard cards but supporting an Expanded format.
As well as this, the expanded metagame doesn’t change as much as standard (which may or may not be a good thing depending on a person’s view) whereas standard is shaken up by each new set. So while I like Expanded since it allows for more crazy decks, it also is less accessible at a competitive level for newbies.
Add to this decks like Seismitoad or Trevenant which lock down items and it can lead to a less than fun experience for players. These decks can seriously lock down your opponent while you slowly chip away at their Pokémon (and will to live!). All in all not a fun experience for newbies. Additionally a lot of expanded decks are so well developed in the meta that there are distinctive counter-tech/hate options available that can totally destroy a deck.
Case in point one week before a League Challenge last year I rocked up with Night March and obliterated every opponent I played, only to bring Volcanion for the actual event because I knew everyone would then hard-tech hate against Night March. Also it wasn’t fun for my opponents to play against Night March because it outclassed most of the decks quite dramatically.
Hopefully that’s given some food for thought, sorry that it’s not the cutting edge analysis that you’re used to here! While I like expanded, it’s hard to break into for a lot of people and the format is a lot more brutal when you have things like Siesmitoad, Trevenant and so on. Additionally the Expanded metagame as of today is extremely similar to Standard (Zoroark, Zoropod and BuzzRoc) which defeats the argument of a more diverse meta!
Don’t get me wrong, a bit of expanded is good to shake things up – it’s faster, has a more high stakes and intense style of game with more kooky techs and plays available. However for newbies the better balanced, more accessible and affordable Standard format is the option I’d be pushing to grow a community.
Hello again! Today’s article has revisited the older Viable Pokémon EX / GX (SM4+) in the Standard format. Expanded has several gems that shine but they are usually quite niche within their own deck types. These will be noted as they arise, but this focuses mostly on the Standard format.
Of particular note is the full coverage of Shining Legends, the SM5/6 Ultra Beasts and the new Necrozma variants. In terms of Pokémon we only have Ultra Sun/Moon UBs such as Blacephalon, Stakataka and Ultra Necrozma left to get cards & we know Ultra Necrozma will be in SM6.
This post idea was partially inspired by a reddit post on r/pkmntcg where some newbies seemed to think that all GX/EX were good.
As always feedback, comments and criticism are welcome and encouraged.
Viable Pokémon EX:
As per the heading, viable Pokémon EX that are 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. It will be replaced by Diancie from SM6 in May.
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.
Alolan Golem – Electric just hasn’t got the love. While pairing it with electric Magnezone might help improve things, running 2 sets of stage 2 Pokémon is probably asking for trouble. Another casual/meme level deck.
Nihilego – Although the ability is interesting, a fragile 180HP and the PPP requirement means that unless something radically shifts, this isn’t going to see a lot of play outside casual or meme decks.
Gyarados – The energy investment is just too high. I do have to wonder if after rotation high energy cost will be the norm, making a lot of previously ‘unplayable’ Pokémon marginally viable.
Guzzlord – Despite having a lot of HP the high energy requirement and weakness to Fighting bump this down to unplayable outside of fun or joke decks. I’ve seen people combine it with Dragonair and other energy acceleration options but once it’s KOed all of that energy goes. Fun, but not competitive by a long stretch!
Kommo-o is possibly the only truly ‘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. I did end up facing a Noivern/Zoroark deck at a League Challenge which was interesting. Weakness to Fairy does hurt if Gardevoir is knocking around. If we get DDE in SM6 then we might see this in a hammers/wall type lock deck.
These are semi- viable Pokémon-GX that are not terrible, but not particularly strong either, or only feature as an option in some main decks, or feature as a counter to certain other decks.
Dawn Wings Necrozma – Much hyped along with Dusk Mane Necrozma however like poor Nihilego the PPP requirement in a format without Psychic acceleration leaves much to be desired. The mediocre 180HP as well as being OHKO by Zoroark-GX with 1 attachment means that in the current Zoroark heavy Standard format this otherwise funky Pokémon isn’t really viable at a competitive level.
Glaceon – Much hyped yet, if the recent regionals are to judge by, overhyped. The ability to stop opponents’ GX/EX abilities if active is good but conditional. Paired with a weakness to Metal and a mediocre attack the deck struggles to close out the game once an opponent has adapted to the ability lock.
Pheromosa– Like several of the Ultra Beasts this was first released in a boxed set before being given a full art release in SM5. Similar to Buzzwole, Celesteela and Xurkitree it’s GX ability involves prize manipulation.
As a card it struggles to find a niche since Golisopod is a better Grass type. The first attack is only relevant 50% of the time and the low hitpoints combined with weakness to fire doesn’t really make it a card that brings anything new to the game. The only use I can see is as a 1-of for Beauty GX as a catch-up tech in grass decks.
Alolan Exeggutor – A funny card that I have seen people combine with the Shining Legends Venusaur to exploit the double energy ability. Like Goodra it can target specific Pokémon but also like goodra it’s a Dragon type -weak to Fairy and overall a lacklustre card. There is a baby version which enables all of your Eggxecutes to evolve which helps the deck to function. It certainly has fun/meme potential but is in no way competitively viable.
Mewtwo – A poormans Gardevoir (30x energy on your Mewtwo) but does have type advantage over Buzzwole. However that niche can be fulfilled by Mew, Mew-EX or Generations Mewtwo.
Wishiwashi – A high HP Pokémon, similar to Wailord in that it is used to stall/wall in decks that aim to deck out your opponent.
Marshadow – Although low HP for a basic GX (150HP) it can use any attacks from basics in the discard changing them into the fighting type. With little relevant weakness to fighting (Drampa?) it doesn’t see much play in Standard. In Expanded has a place where it can be a more viable.
Lapras – Can be the centre of a deck based on water toolbox, stall/wall or other variants. Drawing 3 is nice, and Ice Beam GX has paralysis which is usually hard to access. However only 190HP and weakness to grass make it a liability in a Golisopod heavy environment.
Raichu – People are trying to make it work and it is a Stage 1 compared to Gardevoir-GX being a stage 2. The Ultra Prism electric Magnezone could help attach lots of energy but I’ve yet to see this in practice. Also in those kind of decks
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 low tier Standard Darkrai deck, also works in expanded since it comes back with energy.
Solgaleo – not in the ‘never’ pile because it counters Gardevoir and has a decent ability and GX attack. Still quite niche, paired with Metagross or SM5 Magnetic Circuit Magnezone.
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 as tech, support or counter.
Dialga & Palkia – While no Top Cut deck has featured either Dialga or Palkia yet, their unique GX abilities and mono-energy requirements on a Dragon type make these both interesting Pokémon.
Dialga has a draw attack which isn’t bad if you’re starting off, but the shred of 80 damage for 2 attachments [MCC] isn’t terrible, it’s just that there’s usually better options. Of course the insane GX that gives you an *extra turn* (and deals 150 damage!) is unique in the game and certainly offers a lot of strategic options. The high cost is a downside but the havoc that you could cause by having 2 turns in a row cannot be understated. Hopefully we’ll see Double Dragon Energy in the next set, making this attack only need 3 attachments. (DCE, DDE, M)
Palkia isn’t as awesome sounding as it’s temporal counterpart, this spacial Pokémon offers a lot in the way of energy manipulation. One attack lets you move as much energy onto it as you want while it’s main attack does more damage for each [W] energy.
Again the GX attack on this beast is crazy – 150 damage and they shuffle all of their energy attached to the Pokémon into their deck. While recycling energy isn’t great it can clog up an opponents deck and severely disrupt their tempo. I suspect that after rotation when attacks will cost a bit more that these huge attacks won’t seem that expensive and will actually be somewhat viable.
Leafeon – I’ve categorised this as slightly better than Glaceon because it’s GX attack will allow for a lot more consistent Grass shenanigans. However it’s not a card to build a deck around but rather a support type Pokémon. The ability to heal 50 is interesting but requires Leafeon to be active which is a bit of an ask.
Xurkitree – Everyone’s favourite Christmas tree Pokémon! Immune to almost anything with special energy attached this is a strange creature! The attack is poorly costed and of limited damaged although the discard 1 card effect fits with some specific ‘mill’ deck archetypes. The Lighting-GX *adds* a card to from your opponent’s hand to their prizes. Could be useful to get rid of a Prism Star card or just to slow them down.
Vulnerable to fighting makes it a niche choice outside of dedicated denial/wall/mill decks, however I do know that some Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt decks are running a 1-of in order to buy themselves more time to get set up. Steel resistance is a nice perk too. In a format where every deck except Volcanion and VikaBulu run special energy I feel that we will see a bit more of this popping up in the future.
Celesteela – Bulky, resists popular fighting and weak to unpopular lightening (and more importantly not weak to fire!) this is a useful 1-of or 2-of addition to any Metal deck. The energy requirements are quite high although the GX ability gives you a free Town-Map type ability combined with good damage. I don’t think any serious metal deck should be without at least one of these Ultra Beasts.
Kartana – The Slice Off ability is a free Enhanced Hammer, the attack allowing you to shuffle it back in means you can do it again and recycle the effect. The GX is simply ‘get a prize’ which, as someone who often manages to get 4-5 prizes and then struggle to take the remainder, really appeals to me. Similar to Celesteela it’s not a main attacker to build your deck around but is certainly a useful inclusion in any serious metal deck.
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 still out of favour at the moment. It pairs well with Shining Legends Venusaur thanks to the Jungle Totem ability. Certainly not one to overlook.
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!
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 EX/GX decks. Needs to watch out for metal.
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!)
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. Less of an archetype since practice and experience has shown it to be unable to match the Tier 1 decks.
Drampa – Has seen a fall in popularity and likely to remain there due to the prevalence of Lycanroc-GX 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.
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!
Zoroark – Entire essays could be written about this Pokémon alone. Stage 1, 210 HP, resists Psychic and weak to Fighting. The GX is interesting but hardly anyone uses it. The Riotous Beating deals 20x damage for each of your Pokémon in play – without Sky Field that’s 120 for a DCE/1 attachment which doesn’t have a condition like Golisopod’s First Impression.
What kicks this card up a gear is it’s ability –Trade. Trade lets you discard a card to draw 2. You can do this for each instance of Trade you have in play. The massive draw potential enables strategies that would previously be considered inconsistent. Almost every top deck runs Zoroark with the exception of those explicitly built to counter it (Buzzwole & Lycanroc variants). It’s been combined with Gardevoir, Golisopod, Lycanroc and many others.
Even with no ability or with the ability but a worse attack, this Pokémon would have been playable. The combination of a solid attack and brilliant ability makes it probably the best card in the format at the moment in terms of it’s versatility.
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. Still suffers from ‘bulu hands’ and if it bricks for a turn a good opponent won’t let you recover.
Gardevoir– Still strong and versatile in terms of the ability and the option to include the Zoroark-slaying Gallade. 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, being a stage 2 deck it can struggle to set up.
It looses to Buzzwole who can KO it’s bench before it can set up but is surprisingly alright against metal decks due to their reliance on a lot of energy. The main issue is that the deck can run out of steam. If the opponent is running Max Potion or Acerola the deck can flatline about 3/4 of the way into the round and struggle to recover momentum.
Before SM5 Tord Reklev used Zoroark and Gardevoir to great effect.
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. One option requires the deck built around supporting it but still has room for things like Garbodor and even promo Tapu Koko for free retreating shenanigans.
The other option is to run it as a secondary attacker – for example combined with Zoroark which did quite well in some of the first SM5+ Regionals (Malmó & Collinsville). OHKOing Lycanroc for G is extremely strong.
Lycanroc – The only card since last time to jump from ‘maybe as random tech’ to ‘archetype defining’! Bloodthirsty Eyes is a free Lysandre effect while the GX attack can punish an unaware opponent. This card has become hugely popular as a partner to Zoroark-GX as it also counters enemy Zoroarks. Weakness to grass lets Golisopod-GX OHKO it although you just have to avoid playing it in that case. Also seen partnered with Buzzwole. The other consideration is what Rockruff to use – the promo Rockruff can attack for 1 energy and so is worth considering.
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.
It’s worth mentioning in an article about Viable Pokémon GX the most viable Pokémon in the format – Tapu Lele-GX
Almost all competitive decks have 2-4 (usually 3) copies of Tapu Lele-GX because it’s that good. 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 it’s hitting saturation point. Since it can be used in almost all of your decks it’s worth investing in a couple if you play at all competitively.
So the Portsmouth ‘Guzzlord’ League Challenge last Friday had 18 Masters and we played 4 rounds of swiss, best of 1 game.
Round 1 – Giratina/Lunala-GX
Game 1 was against a quite but nice newish player. Although he was running a psychic deck there were several misplays that I could capitalise on (Nest Ball for Lele for Brigette but had already played a supporter type events).
The Spiritomb that hit me for weakness and prevented my basics from attacking was a bit of a scary thought, but a quick Guzma and Lycanroc managed to get rid of it. The Giratina and Lunala-GX also resisted fighting but my deck was much too fast.
While I was happy with the win I kind of realised that my resistance wouldn’t be great as a result of the deck.
Round – 2 Silvally/Ho-Oh
This was one of the toughest games I’d played in a long time. Ho-Oh obviously resists fighting being a bird thing but Silvally was weak to fighting.
We each started with a Lele and my 2nd Lele was prized meaning that it was much harder for me to get setup. In the opening exchange I took 160 damage on my Lele before retreating it away and getting a Buzzwole up and running. I managed to hang onto an Octillery until I got a Brooklet Hill for Remoraid. Despite the slow start my opponent took a risk to play Kiawe powering up a Ho-Oh.
The crux of the game came when I had to hit an elixir and hard retreat to knuckle impact for a KO on Ho-Oh putting me on 1 prize. However my opponent had his last Lele to fetch a Guzma and pull in my injured Lele. He’d previously managed to get an Elixir off and attached onto Type:Null who did it’s claw slash to KO my Lele and take the game.
This was the only match I’d lost and although I recovered from the terrible start I felt a bit prize screwed as I had a Guzma for game but he just managed to draw into what he needed. This is why I prefer best of 3 – it stops random flukes from influencing the outcome!
Round – 3 Empoleon/Octillery
This round I was paired down (opponent was 0-2-0) which I knew would effect my resistance again. Oh well at least it’s only a challenge!
A couple of these deck types were featured on the evening, this ladys variant had Manaphy and 2 lines of Octillery. My Brooklet Hill obviously helped her but I reasoned that I could get set up much more quickly – which I did.
The main issue arose when the Empoleons could OHKO my Buzzwoles (or anything really!) resulting in a 2:1 prize advantage. Thankfully I’d sniped away at Piplups and taken out the Manaphy early. She needed to go fishing for a 2nd floatstone but N-ing us both to 2 cards meant that she didn’t get it and I could Lycanroc up a Lele and then Knuckle Impact with Superfly for the win.
A lot closer than I felt it should have been mainly because I’d not played against the deck before.
Round -4 Turtonator/Volcanion
This was against Po Town regular Jamie who’s always lovely to play. The deck was a fairly standard Volcanion/Turtonator build with Oranguru for draw support.
I immediately went after the Orangurus because I know if Volc can’t draw into the energy it needs it can stall out. A Strong Energy + Regirock-EX meant that Knuckle Impact was hitting for 60 before weakness – just enough to OHKO an Oranguru!
Jamie recycled some energy and Oranguru before fetching it again via a (Secret Rare) Nest Ball. I promptly apologised before Guzma-ing it up again and putting it down once more.
After that I’d managed to get powered up much more quickly and it was just a case of Guzma-ing out a Shell Trapped Turtonator and hitting a Volcanion for Knockout.
3-1-0 was 10 points but pretty poor resistance overall in this League Challenge.
As luck would have it I came 5th (3-4th on 10, 1st-2nd on 12) so just missed out on prizes. However 4th places was Southampton’s own Shakil and 1st place was Ace Trainer Sarah. She’d apparently not come along to win…. but swiftly did anyway!
I’m glad I didn’t run the Shampay deck since I was less confident with it and stuck with what I knew. I will however be testing it for the next events that I’m going to. The 3rd place Alex Hill deck looks a lot more skill intensive (only 1 Lele!) and I’m not sure if I’d have the courage to try it in an actual event but it might just we worth a shot too.
Update/Tweak deck for next Cups – try Alex Hill and if not that then Natalie Shampay variants.
Stick to best of 3!!
Get ready for the two Expanded format League Challenges – next Saturday locally and then Sunday in Bournemouth. However due to family commitments (medical stuff, so we have to be on standby) I might not be actually able to attend but it’s only expanded which I’d planned to bring my troll Sableye lock deck to anyway.
I have to admit, I’m not nearly as hyped about Ultra Prism as I think a lot of people have been. It’s a bit like Crimson Invasion – a few good cards, one or two reallygreat cards and then a lot of chaff. However with the 2 recent regionals it’s time for Speculation & Conjecture time!
The Ultra Prism Champ
The stand out card, judging from recent tournaments, has really been….. Weavile!
Case in point Evil Admonition stands in good stead against the dearth of Tapu Lele-GX, Zoroark-GX and others. Even with Garbotoxin, Pokémon still have abilities (even if they don’t do anything) so Evil Admonition still works!
Being in-type with Zoroark-GX only helps and running Dark energy might even give Zoroark a chance for a GX attack.
However the weakness to Fighting is still a liability in a Buzzwole heavy meta. That being said, it didn’t feature heavily, was more of a tech option in a 2-1 or 2-2 line along with Zoroark.
Ultra Prism Damp Squibs
Glaceon-GX – Much hype surrounded this Eevolution because of it’s ability to lock down the abilities of your opponents GX/EX Pokémon.
However it must be active for the ability to function. Couple this with a lacklustre 90+30 attack for WCC and a mediocre GX attack leaves you wanting more. Finally add in the weakness to Metal, which is only going to get more popular, and you can probably realise that Glaceon-GX is okay, it’s just not great.
Obvious Ultra Prism Decks
So here’s the ‘new’ decks that have emerged with the release of Ultra Prism. However none have been seriously featured in the 2 tournaments. This could be due to players being unwilling to try untested decks, or the fact that actually none of these are strictly better than existing proven archetypes.
Metal – Metagross-GX or Magnezone + Solgaleo Prism Star + Dusk Mane Necrozma
The Metal acceleration deck is a pretty obvious play given the hype that metal has had in this set. Yet since each variant runs Stage 2 Pokémon you’ll need to dedicate about 12 slots to it before generating a way to retrieve/attach the energy.
Also Dusk Mane Necrozma is making people have conniptions about Fairies, however the 220 (+choice) or GX on a Dusk Mane would knock out a Gardevoir-GX even without weakness so it really little to no difference! There’s also very few Pokémon with more than 220 HP anyway so it does seem like a strong play irrespective of the format. It’s just that it needs the correct support.
Right now it stands as a clunkier, less reliable version of VikaBulu that hits Gardevoir for weakness – although Dusk Mane Necrozma would OHKO most things anyway. Like VikaBulu, highly vulnerable to disruption or ability lock. It will get better with SM6 where the Supporter ‘Lady’ will let you search out 4 energy so I would say sit on this for the moment.
Garchomp / Lucario – This is essentially a theme deck – ‘Cynthia’s Champion‘ – but up-rated to include the proper amount of trainers, energy and so on.
The fundamental strategy is to use Cynthia, enabling Garchomp to hit for 200 (+choice band) and using Lucario’s ability to search out cards to keep up the momentum. That being said, it again is a stage 2 deck, needs 2 energy attachments and you must use Cynthia which means no Guzma or N to mess with your opponents plans.
At 150 HP it dies really easily though and then you have the problem of having to recycle a stage 2 Pokémon and recover the energy. Hopefully card advantage established by Lucario is so strong much advantage that they can keep sustaining indefinitely but the reality is that an unlucky set of prizes or not having puzzles of time or a special charge to get back energy can cause it to slip and fall hard.
Needless to say this didn’t make any top cuts because it just isn’t that good. The fighting version of Garchomp might make it a little better (Strong Energy, lack of Fairy weakness) but it will still suffer from being extremely obvious in it’s approach.
Empoleon/Zoroark – both exploit bench space to do damage.
Both Zoroark and Empoleon rely on the amount Pokémon in play to deal their damage. Zoroark-GX is 20x # of your Pokémon in play (so 6×20=120 without Sky Field) . Empoleon counts both your and your opponents benched Pokémon for a maximum of (20x(5+5)=200) 200 damage without Sky Field.
The main issue again is that Empoleon is a Stage 2, the weakness isn’t too big of a factor and 160HP is a fair amount for a non EX/GX Stage 2.
Empoleon is an interesting card, although might be better in Expanded via Archie’s Ace in the Hole and some Sky Field Shenanigans.
Other random decks might be Metagross with Dawn Wings Necrozma. Both of the Necrozma variants have great ‘catch up’ GX attacks with tie in with the cards like counter catcher and counter energy that are starting to see more play.
Concluding Thoughts on Ultra Prism
Recently, there’s been some Paw Patrols as well Zoroark with Gardevoir/Gallade doing the rounds but they’ve been played by some top players, in a developed meta. What’s been great in the SM4 Standard is that with each major competition the meta has evolved and changed but not massively. More recently we’ve had Buzzwole/Lycanroc, Buzzwole/Garbodor and Golisopod/Zoroark do quite well in Regionals.
Crimson Invasion and Ultra Prism honestly haven’t been the biggest sets in terms of shakeup. Aside from Tapu Lele-GX in SM2 and Gardevoir-GX in SM3, the biggest meta change has been Zoroark-GX in Shining Legends. In truth I wanted Ultra Prism to shake things up a bit more radically but I don’t feel that it really has. I am glad to see that the Prism Star mechanic will persist in the next set too unlike previous mechanics which only last for a set.
I still quite like Buzzwole and I think it is in a strong position despite not gaining much from Ultra Prism. It still punches face efficiently and you can get multiple KOs via the spread damage. The GX attack is also strong – it allows you to jump ahead quickly – 240 for 3 energy is good value.
Cynthia is also a good shout in a lot of decks instead of Sycamore, especially for decks with Trade. When you don’t necessarily want something now, but might want it later on it’s a better option than discarding. Games don’t really go on long enough to see much of Pal Pad although that might change if there’s going to be more 1-of Supporters as techs seeing play. Cynthia is a card that everyone will need a playset of so is probably the card of the set.
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.
Between food poisoning over the weekend and dentist I’ve not managed to write a blog article this week.
However my friend Ace Trainer Sarah managed to win Bournemouth’s League Challenge on Sunday. Held at Bag of Holding and with a couple of tough opponents she is now level with me in terms of CP! Next weeks’ League Cup is going to be big for both of us!
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!