63 Problems But a Deck Check Ain’t One — Eight Potent Plays for Virginia

Welcome back to the ‘Beach, trainers. We are quickly approaching the end of the tournament season, and with that, some of the last chances to score much-needed Championship Points en route to qualifying for the World Championship in Anaheim, California. The next huge event on the schedule is the infamous Virginia Regional Championship, and this time, it’s going to be held in the Standard format. To properly prepare you, I think it’s a great idea to just go over every deck I feel is a decent choice, and go over the things that make these decks great, but at the same time, go over some of the things that might make them an unwise choice. I hope you all enjoy!

Darkrai-EX

Overview

I covered this guy in my last article here, so I don’t want to bore you too much with more rhetoric as to why it’s a great play, day in, and day out. The deck is just simple, speedy, and has even or better matchups against nearly everything! I expect Darkrai-EX to have a fantastic showing wherever it pops up going forward.

Why I’d Play It

  • Naturally an extremely strong deck that can beat anything, even Fighting type decks (I once took down two of them back to back in the quarterfinals and finals of a League Cup event)
  • Simple to pick up and play
  • Very solid array of matchups across the board

Why I’d Avoid It

  • Avoiding weird hands, like two Silent Lab along with a Professor Sycamore against a Volcanion deck, is an accepted luck factor while playing the deck
  • Getting Max Elixir drops to work is crucial
  • Hitting for OHKOs after a few turns is needed to compete with some of the bigger Mega Pokemon decks

Deck List (Courtesy of Kenny Britton)

Pokemon (9)

4x Darkrai-EX (BKP #74)2x Yveltal (XY #78)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)1x Hoopa-EX (AOR #36)

Trainers (39)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)3x N (FAC #105)2x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)2x Lysandre (AOR #78)1x Team Flare Grunt (GEN #73)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (SM #135)4x Max Elixir (BKP #102)3x Exp. Share (SM #118)3x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)2x Escape Rope (PRC #127)2x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)1x Enhanced Hammer (PHF #94)1x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Silent Lab (PRC #140)1x Parallel City (BKT #145)

Energy (12)

12x Darkness Energy (EVO #97)

Matchups

Darkrai-EX | Even

Whoever does more damage quicker will generally win, although Exp. Share usage is important, too. Most lists have begun to play three of them, so it’s never been more important to beat your opponent to the punch when getting these down into play. Be wary of Parallel City, since your opponent could drop it at any time, and if you haven’t placed your Energy on just three Pokemon on your Bench, you might be forced to discard some Darkness Energy and in the process, limit your damage output.

Decidueye-GX / Vileplume | Even

Hopefully you win the coin flip, and in that case, try not to leave any big Retreat Pokemon stranded without a Float Stone, or Energy, on your Bench. This will remove a “win condition” where your opponent uses a Lysandre to move one of those brutes into your Active and continually uses Feather Arrow drops on your Benched Pokemon, while avoiding attacking your Active Pokemon. A simple stream of damage in the low 100’s will generally be enough to win against this deck. A turn one Vileplume from your opponent might mean a quick loss though.

Lapras-GX | Favorable

Lapras-GX is a super slow deck, and it relies on rendering an opposing player’s deck “useless”, after clearing the field of Energy, and with that, attackers. When you face off with this deck, it is ideal to get an Yveltal out with a Float Stone on it, and just two Darkrai-EX on your Bench. Loading up your field and then chipping away at Lapras-GX attackers is ideal. Yveltal will recover Energy with its Oblivion Wing attack, and since your deck plays Escape Rope and Switch, most likely, and with those, you can escape the Paralysis that Ice Beam GX inflicts. If you don’t over-bench Pokemon, you should be fine. Just keep your Energy safe and the rest will fall into place.

M Gardevoir-EX | Slightly Unfavorable

M Gardevoir-EX’s Resistance is extremely problematic, and to make things worse, a Gardevoir player can now swing for OHKOs if he or she plays Professor Kukui, which I think all lists should be. Your best bet to taking wins comes from a Silent Lab drop in combination with N, and hoping your opponent doesn’t draw a way out of it. With that, you can buy more time to get more Darkness Energy into play, and eventually creep towards one-hit Knock Out numbers.

M Mewtwo-EX | Slightly Favorable

Contrasting to the last matchup I talked about, this time, your own Resistance throws your opponent through a loop. You are effectively going to be 2HKOing each other in the early game, and towards the end, you’re going to be with the advantage since your numbers should be far greater and you’ll be taking down M Mewtwo-EX in one attack.

M Rayquaza-EX | Even

Stadium cards will be extremely important for both players, here. Your Parallel City and Silent Lab will be huge, since they stop M Rayquaza-EX from taking OHKOs, which is the main reason that Ray can win.

Volcanion | Slightly Favorable

Silent Lab and Hex Maniac are going to be your go-tos, and if you’re unable to find them at the right times, or your opponent has a counter, you’ll be in for a tough time.

Yveltal | Favorable

This deck is the main reason that Darkrai-EX decks burst onto the scene, as Yveltal struggles greatly with the pressure of powerful Dark Pulse attacks. Evil Ball will almost never take OHKOs, and it is obvious that the whole point of Darkrai is to do the opposite, and take Prizes as quickly as possible with huge attacks.

Decidueye-GX / Vileplume

Overview

Item-lock, powerful attacks, this deck has it all, and then some. However, all of this comes with a price, and for some players, that tag comes in a little too high for the risk to pay off. Decidueye-GX and Vileplume are both some big Stage 2 Pokemon, and the inconsistencies that come along with setting them both up can be tragic, sometimes. Aside from that, though, this deck is probably the “best deck in the format”, and is well deserving of the title after its repeated successes all around the globe in big events.

Why I’d Play It

  • Item-lock kills off a lot of the format from the first turn of the game onwards
  • It’s a very fun and oppressive deck to play
  • Hollow Hunt GX as an attack can make up for sloppy decisions or bad luck when having to make choices in discarding cards

Why I’d Avoid It

  • Prone to inconsistent starts, you are playing two Stage 2 Pokemon, so that’s expected sometimes
  • When you don’t get the turn one Vileplume, your opponent can sometimes overwhelm you, and you also are susceptible to Trubbish with Float Stone plays
  • Wobbuffet starts, or turn one Hex Maniac drops can completely stop you in your tracks, and force you into awkward situations where you cannot set up effectively

Deck List (Courtesy of Aaron Tarbell)

Pokemon (24)

4x Decidueye-GX (SM #12)4x Dartrix (SM #10)4x Rowlet (SM #9)2x Vileplume (AOR #3)2x Gloom (AOR #2)2x Oddish (AOR #1)3x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)2x Lugia-EX (AOR #68)1x Mewtwo (EVO #51)

Trainers (28)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)4x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (AOR #78)4x Ultra Ball (SM #135)3x Level Ball (AOR #76)3x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Revitalizer (GEN #70)4x Forest of Giant Plants (AOR #74)

Energy (8)

4x Grass Energy (EVO #91)4x Double Colorless (SM #136)

Matchups

Darkrai-EX | Slightly Favorable

Decidueye-GX / Vileplume | Even

Could I say whoever goes first through a loudspeaker? That’s pretty much how this matchup goes, unless someone doesn’t get a turn one Vileplume, or the opposite player has a super lucky hand. Regardless, this is generally pretty one sided to a certain player.

Lapras-GX | Slightly Unfavorable

Lapras-GX decks were built during the initial hype of Decidueye-GX / Vileplume, so your opponent will be playing tons and tons of Energy hate. These cards make this matchup very rough, especially Team Skull Grunt. Initially you would think that using Hollow Hunt GX would save the day to recover Energy, but immediately after you use the attack, a Lapras player will Team Skull Grunt away two of those precious Energy cards. Additionally, with three or four Team Flare Grunt, your Energy on the field won’t be safe, either. You can steal games with Vileplume, catching them with a dead hand, or just applying enough pressure with OHKOs, but that scenario is generally unlikely.

M Gardevoir-EX | Slightly Favorable

Tabbing pretty much any Mega Pokemon deck with a “slightly favorable” assessment is fair. Those decks rely heavily on Item cards, most notably, Spirit Links. Without those, your opponent will have to spend many turns without attacking, and you’ll be able to go nuts with Feather Arrow drops and powerful attacks. However, many Gardevoir players have upped their Hex Maniac count as high as three. With this being the case, sometimes, if your opponent goes first, he or she can stop you in your tracks and make it hard to set up by dropping a Hex. This matchup can go either way, but often you should be on top.

M Mewtwo-EX | Even

Most M Mewtwo-EX decks are playing Garbodor, and if they’re not, then they’re playing Wobbuffet. Better yet, sometimes, they’re playing both! This spells trouble for a deck that’s completely dependent on using Abilities to generate offense, and that’s why this matchup is difficult. If your opponent goes first, then you’re probably going to lose. However, playing first, a quick Vileplume generally locks them out of the game, regardless of any other circumstances. There is very subtle maneuverability even when your opponent gets a Garbodor out, depending on if you play a Beedrill-EX to remove the Garbodor’s Tool card, and get your Abilities back. Overall, this boils down to a matchup fifty-fifty in nature.

M Rayquaza-EX | Slightly Favorable

While M Rayquaza-EX can take a Decidueye-GX out in one hit with a full Bench of eight and an Emerald Break, it will struggle to really do anything under Item-lock. Even with Hex Maniac, it will be hard to set up since Hex Maniac stops a Rayquaza player from using his or her own Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX. As the same with the Gardevoir matchup, a Ray player can sometimes get you just by going first and destroying your setup by preventing you from using Set Up. Once the game gets going in ideal situations, your opponent will struggle to do much of anything, and the biggest problem will be refilling the Bench after you play a counter Stadium in that of Forest of Giant Plants. Ray is a deck that’s always been incredibly weak to Item-lock decks, and this matchup is no different.

Volcanion | Slightly Favorable

Don’t let Weakness fool you, Decidueye-GX / Vileplume is still very strong against Volcanion decks. While Fire Pokemon usually scorch Grass ones, a Volcanion player usually must bench multiple Volcanion-EX, and sometimes he or she might even play down a Hoopa-EX. These Pokemon have hefty Retreat Costs, and when you use a Lysandre, you can drag one up that has no Energy attached and go to town with Feather Arrow drops on your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. This doesn’t always happen though, of course, and those are the sorts of games you lose. Overall, Lugia-EX can also serve as a fantastic option that isn’t smacked with an annoying Weakness and Vileplume is incredible against Volcanion decks. Decidueye’s Feather Arrow damage supplements it all and makes for a strong game plan.

Yveltal | Even

Here you have another matchup against a Garbodor deck, and that’s trouble for you, as always. Some Yveltal decks have started to play Wobbuffet, which is always a bother, but otherwise, you’re just going to be crossing your fingers that your opponent doesn’t get a Trubbish down on the first turn with a Float Stone, provided he or she even goes first. Getting a turn one Vileplume on your own turn is imperative, and if you can avoid Garbodor, or KO it, your attacks and Feather Arrow damage output will be far too much for an Yveltal deck to handle. This one can go both ways, of course, with Garbodor being an option in the mix.


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