Bournemouth League Cup 14th April

Bournemouth League Cup

Choices
It’s Ya Boi!

Firstly I really meant to change my decklist after 3 League Cups because I’m not after a mat or points or anything now. My thought was pointed towards ‘TordPod’ because it has a good balance of matchups (no Bulu autoloss and there’s not much fire at the moment) but while I love Golisopod, I struggled to achieve the results comparable to Buzzwole in early testing. So for League Cup 4 I stuck with the Superfly. Again you can snag a copy of the list I used here.

My primary reason for change is that Bulu is a very bad matchup for Buzzwole and there’s been at least a 10% Bulu turnout at each event. Primarily I’ve been wondering about running a different deck with better odds against it. It accelerates faster and more reliably than Elixirs, and can heal. Additionally almost everyone is teching in Mew-EX or Mewtwo to kill off Buzzwole.

Fellow Team Oddish-er VoluntaryReboot, was running a Gardevoir variant which I think was a good choice although I know she didn’t get a lot of practice (and Gardevoir has a lot of moving parts which can go wrong…)

This tournament was taking place in Bag of Holding, my Friendly ‘local’ (30 miles away) Gaming Store. I know the owners and manager really well from wargaming (and previous Pokémon events of course!) They run a good show, in a well lit and comfortable environment.

Round 1 – Lucario/Zoroark (Dan)

Lucario GX SM5
Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind!

Dan is local to Bournemouth and was playing a Lucario-GX/Zoroark build. Dan is quite talkative and friendly and although I like a bit of banter we needed to keep focused on the game. Lucario/Zoroark is a good match up for me since the benefit of Lucario (OHKO Zoroark) is irrelevant.

We had to call a judge when my opponent tried to use Brooklet Hill  to get a look through his bench despite a full bench but otherwise I was able to get a 2-0 victory and we’d started playing a 3rd friendly game.

1-0-0 (3)

Round 2 – Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt (Demetrius)

tapu bulu
Raging Bull…

In contrast to Dan from round 1, Demetrius was more reserved and had travelled some distance to the cup, hunting CPs. He was playing Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt (without Rare Candies but with balls). Also running Brigette and Skyla, so accordingly was able to get setup fairly rapidly.

As mentioned earlier, Bulu is a tough matchup, my only chance of success is to play perfectly, hope they brick slightly and kill the Vikavolts. And despite all of that a fully powered bulu can easily OHKO me, or heal while I struggle to recover.

So needless to say I got killed in round 1, I had managed to set up an exchange but my opponent was too far ahead in prizes. I had terrible outcomes in round 2 – at this point in the tournament I had hit zero elixirs. My deck also bricked and I needed to use Lycanroc who gets OHKOed while returning 2 prizes.

As mentioned unless they miss a beat or their deck does ‘Bulu things’ it is all but impossible for Buzzwole to pull ahead. There’s also no one or even two card specific tech that makes it a better matchup – unlike say Mew-EX which almost everyone techs against Buzzwole.

1-1-0 (3)

Round 3 – D.Mane Necrozma/Silvally (Ryan)

Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX Ultra Prism
All the energies plz!

Ryan is local to Bournemouth but also visits our League in Southampton a fair amount. I remember having a close game in an expanded League Challenge (best of one though) a few months ago so wasn’t going to get complacent.

As you can see to the right Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX can hit for 250 for 3 energy with Sun’s Eclipse GX or 220 for 4 (but loose 3 energy) with Meteor Tempest. So acceleration really helps this deck and keeps it flowing.

Silvally also helps to counter some meta encounters with memory tools, and supports the rest of the deck by allowing your basics to retreat for free and its attack also accelerates energy. So on paper a good deck. However I’ve tested it and I’m still not convinced. Couple this with the Sudowodo ‘Watch and Learn‘ attack meaning I can copy Meteor Tempest for 2 energy on Sudowodo for a return KO.

Anyway, I managed to work around the energy build up and was able to take down the Silvally due to weakness – even if it’s Psychic type due to ‘Psychic Memory’ tool, its weakness to Fighting doesn’t change. So with slow building metal and Fighting weak normal I was able to pull ahead 2 games to win the round.

2-1-0 (6)

Round 4 – D.Mane Necrozma/Magnezone (Luke 1)

Magnezone
Power = Current x Voltage?

At this stage to get in to top cut I knew I’d need another win at least and my opponent was in a similar position. I played Luke running Magnezone/Necrozma. This opponent, is termed ‘Luke 1’ because I faced 2 consecutively, and since I’m rubbish with names, let alone surnames, they are playfully termed ‘Luke 1’ and ‘Luke 2’ (sorry Lukes!!)

The Magnezone deck is similar to Bulu in that it uses a stage 2 to accelerate energies onto a big attacker, in this case Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX. Luke was also running Mt. Coronet which lets a player recover 2 discarded energys from discard to the hand – and presumably attach straight away with the Magnetic Circuit ability.

Unfortunately the deck requires even more moving parts than Vika/Bulu and so can brick even more easily. My ability to play my own Stadium over Coronet helped slow down the power up. The Sudowodo Watch and Learn attack also put in work copying that nasty 220 attack for only 2 energy. It also has a ‘soft counter’ to Buzzwole since a benched Magnezone can’t take bench damage from a Jet Punch which made my job harder but not impossible.

Brick
The Brick giveth, and the Brick taketh away…

In fairness to Luke his deck bricked hard in game 1, not even getting a single Rare Candy & Magnezone up and running. Additionally my Elixirs actually hitting didn’t help his situation and I was able to take game 1. We had loads of time and shuffled up for game 2. I was getting a bit wobbly (yay Diabetes!) and had to nibble some food but I don’t think I misplayed in any major way while this was going on.

My opponent was getting a little stressed, I guessed from the total bricking of the deck in the first round, so I assured him to take his time rather than misplay as we had enough time. He played well and got a Magnezone online. via Rare Candy. I think I managed to disrupt it a turn earlier with an N but I hit zero elixirs (yay back to normal!) and rapidly got demolished since Luke 1 managed to keep me from jumping ahead until his deck fell into place.

We started game 3, but it rapidly went to time, there wasn’t really any way for either of us to take six prizes. if I did something *crazy* and it worked I possibly could have taken 3 and accordingly I would guess that if literally everything went right for Luke he might have been able to take 2 KOs, probably for 4 prizes. But there was no way either of us were going to manage to get 6 prizes in time. So we shook after some well fought games with a tie.

2-1-1 (7)

Round 5 – Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (Luke 2)

Garbodor GRI
Got Trash?

So it turns out that Luke travelled from Southampton too, studying but had come with a different player he knows from back home in London. I hope we see him at other events.

His deck was Zoroark-GX with both types of Garbodor, trashalanche and garbotoxin. Combined with bursting balloons and lot of tech cards I knew this wouldn’t be easy. Having both type advantage and weakness really makes the game interesting!

Fortunately in game 1 the 2nd trashalanche Garbodor was prized so I managed to kill off the relevant one and then pick off Zoroarks to win.

Game 2 was a lot different. I had to Prof. Sycamore a hand of tools away to avoid getting donked which meant that I was now in deep for Trashalanche which was obviously bad, but on the positive side meant that more tools couldn’t really make things any worse! Getting trades online and flying through his deck Luke managed to get down to 1 prize before I was in a position to even take any.

Being hit for weakness by a 1 prize attacker for 1 energy spells bad news for any deck, but that coupled with the draw engine of Zoroark and my brick start meant that game 2 was a write off. I probably should have conceded and tried for a game 3 win but it was long in the day and we started and almost immediately were in time. Luke made a long play to possibly try and go for an Acid Spray + Choice Band to get a KO but it didn’t work out and so similar to the previous round we shook on well fought and deserved tie.

3-0-2 (8)

Overall positioning: 7/18

Bless the pulls! Except when I’m grumpy! *flails*

Like an idiot I thought ‘yay top 8’ but of course it was a Top 4 cut due to only being 18 Masters! Voluntary Reboot came 6th and got 3 boosters, I got 2 and neither of us pulled anything useful. I did buy 2 in the store for Cat but when I got home she pulled a UPR Magerna and Fairy Tapu Lele. Lord Helix wasn’t really with us!

. We hung around to play some casual games and do some trades. I managed to offload my promo-Buzzwoles and got a few more things for collection and potential meta-decks. Additionally I got some nice tips on how to work Golisopod from Ben Short so that will probably be my play for the next time I’m attending an event. I’ve met Ben a few times and he seems lovely, but have yet to play him at an event.

Despite the poor pulls, and middle of the road tournament results, the event was quite fun overall. It was great to see the BoH team and play some stimulating and challenging games in a familiar environment

I don’t know if that makes sense. I can only liken it to when I was a kid, if I wanted to just relax I’d play Sonic 3 & Knuckles – I could do it backwards (and still can!), whereas if I wanted a challenge, no matter how many times I played it, Comix Zone was always something I had to focus on. Pokémon can be like that, games can be easy or hard, and the environment can be oppressive or friendly; there’s a lot of variables which can influence your enjoyment. Some people just want fun games casually to relax and shoot the breeze others want to really exercise that muscle between their ears and make it stronger!Today was a happy mix of the two which is just what I needed after the previous weekend’s 3 Cup bender!

Bexhill League Cup – 8th April 2018

Bexhill League Cup

So after doing a little well at Eastbourne League Cup yesterday we were bitten by the bug. We were given a recommendation that another League Cup was on the next day at Bexhill – and that it was near Eastbourne (so I’m told – I have the geographical awareness of a Wobuffet) With the addition of Ya Boy Tony we set out for Bexhill like the mad fools that we are!

So Famous Collectables is eclectic in the best possible way. Literally packed to the rafters with everything TCG related (boosters, boxes, sleeves of every type) to collectables (e.g. Star Trek merc, Dr Who, Digimon, Plushies, a *bit* of Pokémon!!) If you’re ever in the area do check them out – the store is a community hub and is a welcoming place. Although Friday & Saturday were well run by great clubs, these weren’t in stores and this atmosphere was certainly different, but in a great way, and a nice environment (if a little cosy!) for a League Cup.

The judging staff were on point – friendly and approachable, time was open (tablets on a shelf which is low cost and a great idea), and the staff were particularly welcoming. I was particularly impressed at how the store owner/organiser came and said hello to anyone who wasn’t local before the tournament. It’s just those little things that make you feel welcome and part of a community and everyone was great! So if you’re reading guys thank you very much. I’m looking forward to the next time I can get to your events.

This is also part of the Three Cups in Three Days series where we hit 3 different League Cups over consecutive Friday, Saturday & Sunday in April like the mad fools that we are!

Round 1 – Zoro/Roc (Nitish – again!)

ZoroarkGXMy opponent from yesterdays final! I won’t lie I was nervous. Thankfully I didn’t brick my Oricorio (or rather the Brooklet Hills!) and was able to pull ahead, largely thanks to typing advantage. However I did manage to win 2 straight games, which was nice as it proved to myself that it wasn’t just a fluke or anything. As I mentioned before Nitish is highly communicative and I enjoy playing against him, I expected him (correctly!) to do well, but I think he got knocked out in Top Cut.

1-0-0 (3)

 

Round 2 – Zoro/Roc (Sam)

I’d seen Sam at a few events around Portsmouth and recognised him. He was playing Zoroark/Lycanrock which on paper is a good match up but doesn’t mean that it’s by any means easy. My opponent is a skilled player and I had to us all of my Guzmas, Max Elixir + Multi-Switch and Bloodthirsty Eyes shenanigans to get the wins. I think game 2 went to time but I was up one game and ahead on prizing so I managed to win another round and was 2 for 2.

2-0-0 (6)

Round 3 – Zoro/Weavile

Weavile Evil AdmonFor some reason (tough competition?, odd match ups?) not many others had gone 2-0-0. Zoroark I can deal with but the Weavile shenanigans was a bit of an unknown quantity. Made worse was the arrival of Mew-EX early on, copying Evil Admonition and the deck was running regular Zoroark BREAK for it’s 1 Dark Foul Play attack.

However, type advantage really helped in this game since everything except the Mew and any Leles were weak to my Lycanrocs and Buzzwoles. Of course my spicy Oricorio tech came in (and I hate to use this word) ‘Clutch’ and OHKO the Mew which is always a nice surprise to be able to spring out on an unsuspecting victim. Of course it crumbles to anything vaguely dark looking but did it’s job.

The second game was both easier and harder. My opponent knew my deck, but I knew (roughly) my opponents deck. I targeted the Sneasels early with Jet Punch so that Mew-Ex wouldn’t have anything to copy and avoided playing uncessessary cards with abilities to keep the Evil Admonition at a minimum. It only needed 3 or 4 abilities – say a Lele, Regirock, Lycanroc and Octillery on bench (not an unreasonable mid game state) to be hit for 200 with literally one energy. That isn’t something you can permit if it can be avoided, so while I like Rogue-GX it didn’t make an appearance this game. Thankfully the meta-call of Fighting was good and paid dividends here.

3-0-0 (9)

Round 4 – Greninja (Charlie)

Shadow StitchingBeing the only person on 3-0-0 at the time I was in a position to ID to top cut but none of my opponents were so we girded ourselves for a game of frogs. An issue with playing against frogs is that it can just shut down your deck and slowly slowly kill you while you are left dead-drawing. That’s it’s usual plan anyway.

Game 1 started well for me but I made the mistake of not knowing that I was against frogs due to an Espeon-EX start on my opponent’s side. Although I accelerated quickly and ran ahead to 2 prizes (story of my life!) he got the frogs setup and once my main Buzzwole went down it was a case of polishing me off with Water Shurikens and a well placed Moonlight Slash.  So we shuffled up for game 2.

Greninja games take some amount of time and results in a lot of drawn matches so my opponent was playing really really fast. However I feel that it’s important to consider your moves carefully, especially when a misplay can cost you a game but we got underway on game 2.

Early 130 damage on a Lele became relevant in the last turn of play as again I accelerated while this time the frogs were a tiny bit slower off the mark. Another annoyance about frogs is their ability to recycle the whole set of Greninja (Froakie, Frogadier, Greninja & BREAK) via Splash Energy. If something has Splash Energy and is KOed it goes back to its owners’ hand although the splash energy is lost. This allows the frog player to keep cycling through frogs. Combine that with a zero retreat cost and high bulk (130+ HP) on Greninja and you have a surprisingly robust deck.

OricorioAgain out game came down to the wire and I could see that my opponent was getting frustrated- he needed a ‘win an in’ so this match was important. All through the game he had been making sure not to discard too many Pokémon, partially due to splash energy. Things didn’t work out however as he may have forgotten or just misplayed by discarding an excess Greninja for 2 energy to Water Shuriken with Starmies ‘Space Beacon‘ ability. Although I was 1 turn away from defeat I ended up using my Oricorio to put four damage counters onto the early-game damaged Lele for victory. We started round 3 in final time (0+3 turns).

Round 3 consisted of mostly of draw-pass and since there was no way to donk or claim multiple prizes I just focused on not being donked myself. So we ended in a tie. This meant that depending on my opponent I might this time be able to ID into top cut (and take a break!)

3-0-1 (10)

Round 5 – ??? (Jake)

Jake had won his previous ‘win & in’ so was happy to ID. We embraced after such a tough game and had a break. He seemed nice so was hoping to see him in the final.  Meanwhile I previous opponent was Frogginating VoluntaryReboot =(

3-0-1 (11)

I took a break and hit the lower end of the tables to chill out and get away from the intensity. The atmosphere was great but I needed some quieter space to check blood sugars, take insulin and get some food! (I have  T1 Diabetes, I don’t just shoot up for the funzies!)

At the end of round 5 Sarah had unfortunately lost to Frogs for a Win & In (although if they IDed they might have gotten in) and Tony had also managed to get into top cut with Lucario/Zoroark which was great.

Overall positioning: 1st/2nd seed- Top Cut!

Top 8

So this was the 2nd time in as many days that I’d hit top cut. Mercifully frogs were paired against each other which meant at least one would be out.

I ended up matched with Jason playing Gardevoir with potions (aka Brokenvoir) It’s a deck I’ve played and I know not to underestimate by any stretch despite it’s fall from favour. Jason was a bit nervous so I was happy to just give him time so that he didn’t misplay or anything. I’d rather play my opponents best game than win because they made an unwilling mistake due to external pressures – actual misplays are fair game of course!

I was able to knobble his bench thanks to Jet Punch, Strong Energy and Dwayne the ‘Regirock’ Johnson combo. He did get a Garde online but only after having to ditch a couple of potions. That extra 10 HP on Buzzwole also means that 6 energy isn’t enough – and I’m only providing one of that so when the Gardevoir does go down, it takes half of the decks energy with it. Game 1 I managed to get ahead by targeting the softer elements as much as I could and then GXing for KO when a Gardevoir finally came up. The resources required to setup a Gardevoir are massive compared to getting a Rogue GX (4 cards, 1 evolution step) or even a Buzzwole GX (also 4 cards) – Gardevoir is also 4 cards to setup (Ralts-Stage1-Garde+Energy) but 2 evolution steps -unless you rare candy but that makes the odds more complex. By focusing down on early disruption I pulled ahead.

In game 2 my opponents deck did the Gardevoir thing and bricked. It bricked HARD. From playing this with all of the various moving parts inside Gardevoir not getting that out can leave you floundering with a big hand and very little to show for it. I was able to pull out the win before it recovered to get to top 4! At this point I was happy but really tired. Still Top 4 was a good achievement so far!

Top 4

Remoraid Ion Pool CupThis time I was against Jake who I’d IDed with in round 5. He seemed lovely and was playing the mirror. He played smarter and better than I and was running Mew-EX instead of Oricorio. My Elixirs decided it was home time and my Oricorio kept getting shunted to the bench to die to the follow through from Jet Punch (no resistance on the bench!) Most of my games involved trying to dodge his OHKO Mew-EX

At one point I was getting a bit hypoglycemic and cracked out the Oreos. So now Oricoreo is a thing. Sorry people! All of these factors contributed to me getting properly smashed and loosing 2 games. However throughout the games we were having such fun. My opponent at one point played promoted Remoriad to use Ion Pool to discard it preventing me from using Oricorios attack. It was a brilliant, and hilarious move in a great series of games.

I know he went on to scoop in the final to his opponent for the mat as he wasn’t after the Stuttgart invite/bye which is fair enough.

Conclusion

So I made top cut again and came 3rd overall which isn’t a bad set of results. After the weekend I’m sitting on just over 150CP which is much more than my target of 100CP! Looking at my win/loss ratio on Pokemon.com I’m about 25th in the country which is pretty cool too although I’m sure that will change after Expanded Regionals in Germany next weekend.

It seems that it took Friday to get back in the swing of things, I did great on Saturday and not at all badly on Sunday.

Next week there’s a League Cup in Bournemouth held by my ‘local’ Gaming Store ‘Bag of Holding‘ – if you’re into board games or wargames (or TCGs obviously!) and are nearby do check them out. I will write up that and I know that before I go I will consider taking a different deck. Stay tuned to find out what I brought and how I did!

As quick aside : BoH are also planning to run some VCG in the near future too if that’s more your thing.  The team there are brilliant and I’ve been going there a while so it will be nice to see them, some familiar faces and some new faces next week!

Thanks to Nitish for alerting us to the cup, and of course the Judges Kasha, Grant & Chris as well as James from Famous Collectables for a well organised, welcoming and fun environment. They were all amazing.

Finally thanks to Voluntary Reboot, the crazy Pokémaniac that she is, whose’ dedication to the game is inspiring and encouraging, who’s only getting better and is hungry for those CPs!

Portsmouth ‘Guzzlord’ League Challenge Results

So the Portsmouth ‘Guzzlord’ League Challenge last Friday had 18 Masters and we played 4 rounds of swiss, best of 1 game.

Round 1 – Giratina/Lunala-GX

Game 1 was against a quite but nice newish player. Although he was running a psychic deck there were several misplays that I could capitalise on (Nest Ball for Lele for Brigette but had already played a supporter type events).

The Spiritomb that hit me for weakness and prevented my basics from attacking was a bit of a scary thought, but a quick Guzma and Lycanroc managed to get rid of it. The Giratina and Lunala-GX also resisted fighting but my deck was much too fast.

While I was happy with the win I kind of realised that my resistance wouldn’t be great as a result of the deck.

Ho Oh Gx Burning ShadowsRound – 2 Silvally/Ho-Oh

This was one of the toughest games I’d played in a long time. Ho-Oh obviously resists fighting being a bird thing but Silvally was weak to fighting.

We each started with a Lele and my 2nd Lele was prized meaning that it was much harder for me to get setup. In the opening exchange I took 160 damage on my Lele before retreating it away and getting a Buzzwole up and running. I managed to hang onto an Octillery until I got a Brooklet Hill for Remoraid. Despite the slow start my opponent took a risk to play Kiawe powering up a Ho-Oh.

The crux of the game came when I had to hit an elixir and hard retreat to knuckle impact for a KO on Ho-Oh putting me on 1 prize. However my opponent had his last Lele to fetch a Guzma and pull in my injured Lele. He’d previously managed to get an Elixir off and attached onto Type:Null who did it’s claw slash to KO my Lele and take the game.

This was the only match I’d lost and although I recovered from the terrible start I felt a bit prize screwed as I had a Guzma for game but he just managed to draw into what he needed. This is why I prefer best of 3 – it stops random flukes from influencing the outcome!

Empoleon Ultra PrismRound – 3 Empoleon/Octillery

This round I was paired down (opponent was 0-2-0) which I knew would effect my resistance again. Oh well at least it’s only a challenge!

A couple of these deck types were featured on the evening, this ladys variant had Manaphy and 2 lines of Octillery. My Brooklet Hill obviously helped her but I reasoned that I could get set up much more quickly – which I did.

The main issue arose when the Empoleons could OHKO my Buzzwoles (or anything really!) resulting in a 2:1 prize advantage. Thankfully I’d sniped away at Piplups and taken out the Manaphy early. She needed to go fishing for a 2nd floatstone but N-ing us both to 2 cards meant that she didn’t get it and I could Lycanroc up a Lele and then Knuckle Impact with Superfly for the win.

A lot closer than I felt it should have been mainly because I’d not played against the deck before.

Round -4 Turtonator/Volcanion

This was against Po Town regular Jamie who’s always lovely to play. The deck was a fairly standard Volcanion/Turtonator build with Oranguru for draw support.

I immediately went after the Orangurus because I know if Volc can’t draw into the energy it needs it can stall out. A Strong Energy + Regirock-EX meant that Knuckle Impact was hitting for 60 before weakness – just enough to OHKO an Oranguru!

Jamie recycled some energy and Oranguru before fetching it again via a (Secret Rare) Nest Ball. I promptly apologised before Guzma-ing it up again and putting it down once more.

After that I’d managed to  get powered up much more quickly and it was just a case of Guzma-ing out a Shell Trapped Turtonator and hitting a Volcanion for Knockout.

Conclusion

3-1-0 was 10 points but pretty poor resistance overall in this League Challenge.

As luck would have it I came 5th (3-4th on 10, 1st-2nd on 12) so just missed out on prizes. However 4th places was Southampton’s own Shakil and 1st place was Ace Trainer Sarah. She’d apparently not come along to win…. but swiftly did anyway!

I’m glad I didn’t run the Shampay deck since I was less confident with it and stuck with what I knew. I will however be testing it for the next events that I’m going to. The 3rd place Alex Hill deck looks a lot more skill intensive (only 1 Lele!) and I’m not sure if I’d have the courage to try it in an actual event but it might just we worth a shot too.

Next Steps

Update/Tweak deck for next Cups – try Alex Hill and if not that then Natalie Shampay variants.

Stick to best of 3!!

Get ready for the two Expanded format League Challenges – next Saturday locally and then Sunday in Bournemouth. However due to family commitments (medical stuff, so we have to be on standby) I might not be actually able to attend but it’s only expanded which I’d planned to bring my troll Sableye lock deck to anyway.

 

Cup Considerations

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

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

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

1) Gardevoir-GX

 

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

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

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

2) Buzzwole-GXBuzzwole-GX

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

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

3) Tapu Bulu-GXtapu bulu

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

 

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

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

4) TordPodGolisopod GX

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

 

Xurkitree GX5) Anti-Meta Troll Deck

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

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

Conclusion

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

Memphis Meta Musings

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. Memphis Meta

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.Top Pokes

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.

shining genesect SLGFirstly 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.

Team Rockets Handiwork FASecondly, 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.

Conclusion

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.

Reading League Cup 28/49th

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

Po Town Warm Up

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

Literally Portsmouth
Reading League Cup

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

R1: The Mirror (but better)

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

0-1-0

R2: Gardevoir GX

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

0-2-0

R3: Pimped Out Drampa/Garb

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

0-2-1

R4: Vikivolt/Bulu

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

1-2-1

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

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

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

1-2-2

R6: Team Po Town Gardevoir

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

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

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

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

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

Next Stepsmew2

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

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

League Challenge – 1st Place!

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

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

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

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

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

League Challenge DeckLeague Challenge Toto List

Round 1 – Andrew – GolisopodGX+Lurantis

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

Round 2  – Litten – GolisopodGX+Garbodor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrapping Up the League Challenge

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

Not bad for my 2nd ever Pokémon event!

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

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

*deliciousness may vary on your tastes

Lessons Learned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Thoughts

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