Reading January League Cup

Reading League CupReading League Cup

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

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

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

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

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

R1: Zoro/PodGolisopod GX

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

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

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

0-1-0

R2: Genesect/Venusaur/Lurantis-GX 

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

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

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

1-1-0

R3: Xerneas BREAK

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

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

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

1-2-0

R4: Bulu/Vikavolttapu bulu

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

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

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

1-3-0

R5: Zoro/RocZoroarkGX

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

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

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

2-3-0

R6: Greninja // Turbo-GuzzlordShadow Stitching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Steps

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

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

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.

Pokémon League – Bag of Holding, Bournemouth

On Sunday 26th November I attended Bag of Holdings‘ first League Challenge in Bournemouth. I am familiar with Bag of Holding as it’s where I usually wargame and have been to other related events.

I was armed with Christopher Schemanske‘s Max Potion ‘Brokenvoir’ list that did really well in London. I choose it since it was the deck I was most comfortable playing. In a couple of games the Max Potion really made the difference since it reset the damage clock and meant that a 2 hit KO now became a 3 hit KO and I could pull ahead in the prize trade.

There were 4 Rounds of Swiss in the League Challenge and I’ll try to give a run through of each:

Round 1 – Ash – Silvally-GX/Mewtwo-GX

Guzma-GalladeThe first game got off to a good start and I was facing an interesting Silvally/Mewtwo deck with some Zoroark-GXs for draw support via the Trade ability. Thankfully Mewtwo’s heavy reliance on energy meant that I could easily knock it out with my Gardevoirs. I did loose a Gardevoir in one game to Mewtwos’ GX attack with a Choice Band. The Silvallys and Zoroarks were also weak to Gallade  who also synergises brilliantly with Guzma which got me the knockouts. Octillery wasn’t prized in any games which helped a lot too and so I won the first round of the Challenge.

Result 2-0 Win

Round 2 -Sarah – Zoroark/Golisopod

Golisopod GXIn round 2 of the League Challenge I faced fellow Sotonian Sarah who was running Zoroark/Golisopod. In testing she had beaten me solid with it because I wasn’t running Max Potions – however this time I was packing a full compliment of Potions.

Game 1 went well with Gallade getting the opportunity to knock out some Zoroarks and the deck ran smoothly in the first game like in the previous round, with the Max Potions helping to ensure I didn’t lose too many Pokémon.

In game 2 my Octillery line was prized and Sarah quickly took out my Kirlias as I was searching for up Gallade. I just couldn’t catch up in time and she took game 2.

Game 3 went smoothly again and I was able to trade 1 prize (Gallade) for 2 prizes (Zoroark) at least once. Sarah shifted her focus to Golisopod which was more of a problem but I was able to use Max Potions to ensure that I was able to survive the next hit and then take the KO for game 3. A tough but friendly game! Result 2-1 Win

Round 3 – Charlie -Golisopod/Zoroark

Game 3 was against another Golisopod-Zoroark Deck. Oddly he didn’t run Tapu Lele but was otherwise running a similar list to Sarah. I figured if I could beat her (she’s a great player) I could manage this. True enough I was able to take out the Zoroarks with Gallade and use Max Potions when necessary.

The games were challenging but nothing particularly unexpected occured and I was able to take both games before time which gave me time to run to the shop and get some precious, delicious caffeine! Result 2-0 Win

At this point there was only 1 other player with a 3-0-0 record but we didn’t get drawn together. (The mysteries of the TOM software are beyond my ken!) So I had to win the next round and hope that his opponent could hold him off long enough!

Round 4 – ??? – Gardevoir

This round was possibly my most apprehensive since I recognised the player as the one who beat me in the GvC  draft and to make matters worse he was playing Gardevoir. So (correctly) I expected tough competition.

Game 1 – Went smoothly with me getting Brigette and Octillery online as well as KOing my Opponents Remoraid. By the time my opponent could get Gardevoirs established I was too far ahead, plus I had potions.

Game 2 – Went terribly with octillery and leles all prized so I was fighting an uphill battle all game. I did manage to get down to 2 prizes but by the time I’d recovered my opponent was too well established. I probably should have scooped to save time and try for the win on game 3. I didn’t and he took game 2. The round was almost a draw but since we were on top table we started game 3.

Game 3 – Could have gone to a donk against me as we started in final time. I Sycamored an otherwise good hand away to fish for an Ultra Ball to get a second Ralts out and on the bench to make sure that it couldn’t happen – sure enough my opponent managed to Rare Candy into a Gardevoir-GX and KO my lone Ralts so I had made the right call and we drew 1-1.

Summary:

In some ways I felt that I should have won game 2 in the final round, it was more down to my deck bricking out rather than any massive tactical decisions by my opponent. He seemed surprised, although I know he is a good player and was able to capitalise. Then again my deck choice is what I have to stand by. Perhaps I should have scooped and started game 3 with more time rather than prolong my only Gardevoir with Max Potions but I didn’t and thankfully it didn’t cost me the tournament.

Result 1-1 Draw

However my rival who also had a 3-0-0 managed to lose his round meaning that I with 3-0-1 I had managed to win my 3rd Challenge in a Row and get max Championship Points for this quarter – barring any League Cups I might be fortunate enough to win.

Conclusions:

This was a well run event with approx 14 players (12 masters) and Bag of Holding gave generous prize support for their first ever League event. I managed to pull 2 foil Magikarp (yay!) and a Full Art Alolan Exeggutor from my boosters as well as getting some snazzy 1st Place Regigigas promos. 🙂

I was overall happy with my performance but I noticed that I made mistakes in Round 4, game 2 such as forgetting to use Premonition off of Gallade which might have meant I could turn it around earlier (or might have prolonged the inevitable?) Being intimately familiar with BoH from wargaming meant that the smack talk from some other, more vocal participants, didn’t phase me and there wasn’t any metal counter-fairy decks to speak of.

The next event is a local League Challenge in the Expanded format. We’re getting a couple of external players who will be bringing their A-game. I was torn between bringing a jokey/meme deck but I guess if there’s prizes and I’m paying to enter I should probably bring my A-game too. Last time this was Volcanion/Turtonator but this time I’m not sure.

Gaming Vs Cancer – Standard League Challenge

Gardevoir-GX

So on 11th November I went with Gardevoir-GX for League Challenge which was being held in aid of Gaming Vs Cancer.

My Decklist was fairly typical for Gardevoir-GX although I’d made a couple of tweaks. I had forgone Max Potions as I’d rather just retreat and would need to reattach energy anyway. I opted to drop float stones as well to include a 4th Sycamore and 4th Guzma instead to add consistency. I figured that  since it was best of 3 games per rounds they would show up that bit more. Indeed topdeckinga Sycamore helped on a couple of occasions. Finally 2 Parallel City were there to help keep my opponents boxed in and to help against any Metagross matchups (which I managed to avoid).

Round 1 – Bye (1-0-0)

Our TO/Head Judge & Assistant Judge pair were late having gotten a bus in literally the opposite direction. So our 9:30am registration was for naught although we got kicked off by 10:30 – except that my first round was a bye since we had an odd number of players! My precious Gardevoir-GX would have to wait! I remained sane by helping out and supervising the Junior/Senior table as things got settled down.

Round 2 – Mirror! (2-0-0)

If my flourescent pink sleeves didn’t give my deck away my opponent soon realised that we were both playing Gardevoir-GX. My 2-2 line of Sylveon-GX really helped as did the extra Guzmas. I managed to pull in the Remoraids with Guzma to stop my opponent from getting Octillery(s) online which I knew would make the deck stall out. Additionally by getting down a Parallel City I managed to lock down my opponents side of the table. Sylveon-GX did most of the heavy hitting to get my prizes. I ended up going 2-0 to win my first round of the day.

Round 3 – Noivern-GX/Zoroark-GX (3-0-0)

Noivern GXMy 2nd game in round 3 was against an off-meta Noivern/Zoroark deck. Item lock and Zoroarks ‘Trade‘ ability proved difficult to enable me to get established since I had poor starts in both rounds. However being resilient to Dark and with Noivern being weak to Fairy, I was able to OHKO the Noivern a couple of times. My opponent ran a Weakness Policy too, which was relevant in the 2nd game particularly.

Additionally a Garbotoxin Garbodor managed to slow me down, but also shut down the Trade ability. Consequently I decided against Field Blower-ing it since it was helping me and I was able to pull ahead by hitting for weakness with Gallade. Hitting Zoroark for weakness was game winning on one occasion – the Guzma being used to serve it up also amplifying Gallade’s attack. I don’t think I actually attacked with Gardevoir-GX at all this round.

zoroark gx

This was probably my toughest match up of the day as there were a couple of occasions where I could have bricked out but the extra Sycamore enabled me to get out of it on one instance, Octillery on another. Being able to hit back for weakness really helped too. The item lock from Noivern was at times difficult and a bother but not impossible to play around. Usually my items are to get me out of a bad spot, but being only hit for 50 damage wasn’t actually too detrimental since I could usually hit back for more.

Round 4 – Raichu-GX/Zoroark-GX (4-0-0)

raichu gx

Disclaimer: my opponent had slightly terrible luck.  We’d played before at Reading League Cup and he really is a lovely opponent.

He was running a Raichu-GX deck with Magnezone and Zoroark. I had a poor start and it took me a couple of turns to get established. Despite my over-energised Gardevoir-GX being GX-ed by an incoming Tapu Koko-GX I managed to hit back with my Gallade for weakness against his Zoroark for the game. The Guzma trick working wonders again!

Game 2 saw me start with a Lele and we ended up N-ing each other a LOT! Despite this I managed to pull ahead with Sylveon-GX and ended up having to Plea-GX to find my last DCE.  Twice – because of N, but eventually it stuck and I Guzma-ed in a Zoroark-GX and OHKOed it with Gallade.

**Result: 4-0-0 for 1st Place!**

I was quite chuffed with the win and really glad that the Bye didn’t come back to bite me in the bum at the end. With other players going 3-0-1 again I knew that I had to win all 3 of my games to have a perfect score. I also didn’t concede any losses with the deck whatsoever which was nice considering how I’d been struggling with it online.

Closing Thoughts

Gallade definitely helps, I’m quite sure the Max Potions are not needed, nor Acerolla – the main strength is to be more consistent (we love you Tord) and therefore get established much more quickly than your opponent. In this regard Octillery is extremely useful – but in the mid/late game – so it’s not hugely required to get him out straight away. I found that getting a Sylveon out to either Magical Ribbon or even just attack for with Fairy Wind 110 was a much more resilient strategy in the early turns.

I avoided any of the 2 (possibly 3?) Metagross decks but I did pack 2 Parallel cities ready to bounce up any Metagrosses with Plea-GX. I also didn’t face Golisopod which was probably my least favourable matchup since they dedicate so much of the deck to controlling the game to hit with First Impressions. From what I could tell there were no fire decks of any sort nor any Greninja.

The cohort from the Isle of Wight were really lovely and had quite a diverse array of decks and playstyles.

galladeTo finish; my MVP for the day was Gallade. He synergized perfectly with Guzma to counter Zoroark-GX on several occasions and won me games as a result. Being a 1 prize attacker he was slightly more expendable and of course the Premonition ability also just helped to round things out. Certainly worth the inclusion.

The only bittersweet part is that now with Crimson Invasion rotating into standard I’m wondering how much of the deck will change (if at all)?  I think that I would like to find room for a Gladeon and Lusamine – perhaps instead of the extra Guzma and Sycamore – since both add consistency in different ways and so will be definite includes in my future deck testing.

But we’ll see – for now bed time!

 

 

 

Viable Pokémon EX/GX In Standard Format

Today I’m going to look at Viable Pokémon EX and GX in the Standard format. Expanded has several gems that shine but they are usually quite niche within their own deck types.

This post idea was partially inspired by a reddit post on r/pkmntcg.

Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends aren’t really discussed since there has not been any major events where they’ve both been legal yet! The next big event will be Internationals at London (which I’m unable to go to this year 🙁 ) When I next do an article on Viable Pokémon it will include these and probably the next set!

Anyway, without further ado –

Viable Pokémon EX:

As per the heading, viable pokemon that are EXs from before the Sun & Moon sets.

Regirock-EX FCO – Used on the bench to add +10 damage. However Fighting isn’t featuring heavily at the moment and even then there’s usually better ways to get more damage that doesn’t rely on an ability in a Garbotoxin meta.

Volcanion-EX STS – Volcanion is a whole archetype by itself. Heavily used for the ‘Steam Up’ ability in Volcanion/Turtonator but also in Ho-Oh/Salazzle for the added damage.

Darkrai-EX BKP – Rarely used in standard at the moment but still a key component of a Darkrai based deck.

Espeon-EX BKP – Used as a 1 of tech in certain decks (Espeon-GX/Garb or Drampa-GX/Garb) for the devolving attack. Often seen in decks with Po Town since re-evolving means another round of damage counters.

 

Pokémon-GX that ‘never’ see competitive play:

Never is a strong word but at the moment it seems correct! This may change in the future of course, but for the moment these aren’t seen as competitivly viable Pokémon.

Kommo-o is possibly the only ‘non-viable’ card on the list due to lack of Double Dragon Energy but the rest are not very competitive or are relatively lack lustre in the current state of the game. Arguably ‘counter energy’ from Crimson Invasion works as DDE although it’s a bit more conditional than the traditional DDE. The Prism Quad Energy might also work but is still a corner case.

Incineroar GXCharizard, Machamp, Lunala, Incineroar, Tsareena, Primarina, Snorlax & Beware – just don’t really bring enough awesomeness to the table to justify their inclusion compared to other GX’s out there.

Toxapex – people want it to work but it is rather clunky and the 3 Psychic attack cost is prohibitive.

Umbreon – a tricksy card with some interesting effects on its attacks. However sadly it loses out on raw power compared to other ‘mons and also on utility compared to Sylveon or Espeon. The low damage output for the energy investment leaves Umbreon a relatively uncompetitive choice outside of a dedicated energy denial deck.

Noivern – I want to like this card since it is Seismitoad 2.0 but lack of DDE and odd colour requirements (Psychic and Dark) means that for the moment it’s relegated to the sidelines. Update: I did end up facing one at our League Challenge which was interesting. Weakness to Fairy does hurt though!

Random off-meta/rogue Pokémon-GX:

These are Pokémon-GX that are not terrible, or only feature as an option in some main decks, or feature as a counter to certain other decks.

Wishiwashi, Marshadow – they may have a use but are better in expanded decks where they can be a little bit more viable.

Raichu – People are trying to make it work and it is a Stage 1 compared to Gardevoir-GX being a stage 2. (Also early days since it is from Shining Legends.)

Gumshoos – counters Gardevoir-GX and was included in some finalists decks recently for that very reason.

Alolan Muk – Needs a deck built around its conditions and a way to capitalise on them. Could pair well with Raticate BREAK.

Darkrai – Part of the Darkrai deck, also works in expanded.

LaprasLapras GX – Can be the centre of a deck based on water toolbox, stall/wall or other variants.

Solgaleo – not in the ‘never’ pile because it counters Gardevoir and has a decent ability and GX attack. Still quite niche, paired with Metagross. The new one in January will be the killer.

Lycanroc – the literal rogue deck, bloodthirsty eyes is a free Lysandre effect while the GX attack can punish an unaware opponent. Combine with Regirock-EX for much lolz! This card has become popular as a partner with Zoroark-GX as it also counters enemy Zoroarks.

Vikivolt – can be included in Vikivolt/Bulu as a backup attacker.

Supporting Pokémon-GX:

Thoroughly Viable Pokémon that are included in some deck types as a 1 or 2 count or as a secondary attacker in competitive decks.

Tapu FiniTapu Fini GX – 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 Necrozma GX Burning Shadows– Included for Black Ray GX – if you think its worth 3 energy. Cat sticks this in Golisopod to put pretty much everything in One Hit KO range. Also good in expanded thanks to Dimension Valley reducing the cost of it’s attacks.

Decidueye – fallen out of favour but still viable, especially in baby Alolan Ninetales decks. 99% of the time its for Feather Arrow.

Lurantis – used to be combined with Golisopod, though fallen out of favour at the moment.

Tauros – features more in Expanded I think, but some decks include it for its versatility of 3 different attacks for a DCE. Gets stronger as it gets injured which is nice too!

Sylveon – although a decktype by itself (Quad Sylveon Box), it used to feature heavily in Gardevoir decks. The Energy Eeveelution ability and Magical Ribbon ability for 1 Fairy energy makes this a great Turn 1 play (especially if you go 2nd!)

Archetype Defining Pokémon-GX:

These aren’t just Viable Pokémon, these GX’s are so good that they have a whole deck archetype centred around them!

Tapu Bulu – (Vikivolt/Bulu) Extremely consistent damage and setup with some built in resilience in the form of a healing GX attack. Probably the lower end of the top tier but one you have to be able to beat.

Metagross – It hard-counters Gardevoir although it’s not guaranteed since Gardevoir is more consistent. It can be clunky and brick up if things go wrong. The max 180 damage cap is also quite painful although this is easier to swallow with 250hp and Max Potions. Includes lots of switcheroos to get rid of the ‘can’t attack next turn’ penalty.

Gardevoir – Arguably the best deck in format at the moment. Has optional techs to improve consistency (Sylveon, Octillery) and hits for ‘bigger-numbers-that-you’ almost all of the time. However it is still beatable and not an easy deck to ‘pilot’ requiring skill to use effectively. I’ve tried testing it many times and I still lose because I’m not very good at using it yet! Update: I managed to go 4-0-0 at a league Challenge with this on 11/11/17

Golisopod Golisopod GX– relatively tough stage 1 that has several attack options. Most of the time it’s hitting for 120 for 1 Grass which is excellent value for energy. Needs the deck built around supporting it but still has room for things like Garbodor and even promo Tapu Koko for free retreating shenanigans. Crossing cut GX and a choice band can take a KO and keep it safe for another turn of switcheroo shenanigans.

Turtonator /Ho-Oh/Salazzle Ho Oh Gx Burning Shadows– A variety of the fire archetypes, usually includes some Volcanion-EX to help with the damage output. Turtonator vs Ho-Oh is more of a meta call, there’s almost no electric in the format (yet) but Ho-Oh does need 4 energy to properly attack compared to Turtonators 3, AND Ho-Oh can’t use the big attack next turn. Salazzle an option for late game KOs when you get down to your last couple of prizes and need to pull ahead.

 

Ninetales – another 210 hp stage 1 with decent attacks. The support that water has is really good with aqua patch so it can power up quickly. The Ice Path GX damage swap can also help keep you going. Usually includes a baby Alolan Ninetales to help against pesky EX/GX decks. Needs to watch out for Metagross though!

Drampa – There’s very little fighting in the meta at the moment so weakness isn’t an issue – exceptions being Gallade in Gardevoir, Lycanrock-GX in Zoroark and Buzzwole-GX. A good early game GX attack to net you 10 cards is helpful and it has a variety of partners in the game. Drampa can also be splashed as a tech in quite a few decks and can be quite threatening as a result. Probably the most played of these cards outside of a dedicated deck archetype for good reason.

The 99%:

3 Lele Expanded

It’s worth mentioning in an article about Viable Pokémon – Tapu Lele-GX

Almost all competitive decks have 2-4 (usually 3) copies of Tapu Lele-GX because it’s that good (broken!) Literally its only flaw is its’ 170HP. It has no weakness and an excellent retreat cost of 1.

The Power Drive attack only requires 1 DCE and in a format where a lot of energy is required it can really punish an opponent. Especially against things like Gardevoir GX or Fire decks. I have ‘donked’ several opponents who have played a 60hp Pokémon (eg Alolan Vulpix) attached an energy. My turn I attach a DCE and then hit for 60 for KO. Not a common occurrence, but still occasional enough that even starting with it isn’t the end of the world.

The Wonder Tag ability alone enables several strategies involving things like Kiawe for fire types or Bridgette for decks that require a rapid set up. As long as you have access to a Tapu Lele-GX (or the means to get one via an Ultra Ball for example) then you can get established quickly.

The only real downside is the financial cost, however this is beginning to drop (as I think it’s hitting saturation point) and since it can be used in all of your decks it’s worth investing in. I do need to do an article about actual real-world costs at some point soon. However the very fact that you can use it in any of your decks means that it’s not a wasted investment if you play  at all competitively.

Too soon to say:mew2

The new Crimson Invasion (CRI) and Shining Legends hasn’t really been tested in the crucible of battle yet although Zoroark-GX is looking popular and I’m sure people will be gunning to use the new Ultra Beasts where possible. More will be revealed in the upcoming London Internationals I’m sure!

 

 

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!