Smokin’ Silhouettes — Jay’s Introduction to Burning Shadows

Hey PokeBeach readers! It’s been a little bit over a week since my last article dropped. In this article, I thought we’d explore some new realms of the card pool, and dig into some decks I’ve been testing for the upcoming 2017 World Championships! It’s been very hard for me to find the motivation as a player to continue on during what I call the “desert period” — the period of time in which players take a break from Pokemon, and relax before the biggest tournament of the year. For me, I felt silly even typing that sentence; the biggest tournament of the year deserves all the love, and players should be doing just that. Why are we taking it easy when this is when players obtain the most glory — the most money, for that matter? At the end of the day, the month and a half separating North American Internationals and Worlds can make or break a player, especially since in the desert period, there’s scant info. For any players that are from the beginning of this game, you’ll remember the days before Facebook was even a “thing” — and even more recently, before Twitter blew up. Before I dive into my vast collection of plays for the upcoming World Championships, I’d like to talk a little bit about the value of information right now.

What Makes Information So Valuable Right Now?

Information is valuable right now because it is a hot commodity — there is an extremely high demand for it, and a low supply. The low supply is caused by lack of channels to communicate the information through. In other words, since there are no tournaments in the PRC BRS format leading up to Worlds, there is virtually no glimmering hope for netdeckers. The only way you can get information from people is via connections, and those connects are more valuable then ever now that Pokemon has decided to drop a new expansion before Worlds for two consecutive years now. Articles are the way to go right now, seeing as they have all the hottest information at such a low price, so if you were to ever subscribe, now would be the time! The alternative to all of this in finding your own information is….

Testing Yourself

It’s equally important to take this information into your own hands, and work on deck lists in your spare time. You can do this with a tight-knit testing circle, but my best advice is to do it with people who you deem as stronger than yourself. While it’s important to grasp matchups and concepts in a way that is unparalleled to other players, an above-average opponent will challenge you, and give you a more accurate representation of the matchup than an average Joe. Likewise, it’s important to play very quickly, because you’re going to want to round out as many games as possible within a tiny window of time. I’ve been testing the new set for approximately 20 hours combined, and that’s only given me a handful of games in all fairness. Luckily, I’ve survived one of these desert periods before, so I understand the tricks of the trade when preparing for these big tournaments.

Solitaire

One of the biggest things we need to be able to test is consistency. One of the ways elite players do this is by playing “solitaire” — referring to playing a game by yourself, as quickly as you can, while being able to set up your field both realistically and accurately. This is an experimental form of testing that allows you to draw your initial starting hand, and play out your first turn(s) as if you had no opponent in front of you, with the sheer goal of testing your decks reliability. The last thing you need in a tournament is to draw dead, so it’s vital to testing that you have a deck that won’t let you down. Rather than play 100 games of Pokemon, you can open 100 first-turns of Pokemon and write down your results. This is especially key for decks that have a very strong board position once setup, but sometimes have lackluster beginnings (I’m looking at you, Decidueye-GX and Greninja). This form of testing proves to be insufficient when testing more reactive decks, such as a metagame counter or a lock-type deck.

Since you’re getting all the information you need right here on PokeBeach, I figure you’re on the right path to becoming a Pokemon champion! Without further ado, let’s get right up close and personal on some of my favourite decks that emerged from the new expansion, Burning Shadows!

Mega Rayquaza / Darkrai-GX

Pokemon (19)

3x M Rayquaza-EX (RSK #76)3x Rayquaza-EX (RSK #75)4x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)2x Darkrai-GX (BUS #88)2x Hoopa-EX (AOR #36)2x Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #60)1x Magearna-EX (STS #75)1x Sudowoodo (GUR #66)1x Oranguru (SM #113)

Trainers (33)

3x N (NVI #92)2x Professor Sycamore (XY #122)2x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)1x Guzma (BUS #115)1x Mallow (GUR #127)1x Skyla (BCR #134)1x Karen (PRXY #XY177)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)3x VS Seeker (RSK #110)3x Rayquaza Spirit Link (RSK #87)3x Mega Turbo (RSK #86)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Field Blower (GUR #125)1x Special Charge (STS #105)1x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)4 x Sky Field (RSK #89)

Energy (8)

4x Metal Energy (HS #122)4x Double Colorless Energy (NXD #92)

M Rayquaza-EX always seems to be a Pokemon that comes back format after format, much like its brethren sky bird, Yveltal-EX. Rayquaza as a deck tends to be very fast, and is a classic macho deck that’s able to dish out high amounts of damage. It runs a very different Trainer line compared to most decks, allowing it to draw fluent hands without a ton of Supporters in order to maximize on Shaymin-EX‘s Set Up Ability. Tapu Lele-GX adds a little bit of awkwardness into this deck since it is a Pokemon-GX, and is therefore not searchable by Hoopa-EX. It’s best to use Shaymin-EX as your opening draw-power over using Tapu Lele-GX for a Supporter, mostly because you’ll draw more cards this way. The consistency of this deck is unparalleled by most in the format, mainly because it plays so many copies of draw Pokemon (Tapu Lele-GX, Shaymin-EX, Hoopa-EX). The flexibility this deck brings is also very nice, since you can load your deck with virtually any Pokemon you can think of.

Achilles’ Heel

This deck has a very straightforward weakness — since this deck operates around benching a ton of Basic Pokemon in order to work, if you can constrict the Mega Rayquaza player’s Bench, you’ll in turn limit their damage overall (think Parallel City, or playing a counter Stadium). Likewise, if you can complete this while packing an N, you’ll have no problem finishing off the Mega Rayquaza. There are also tons of liabilities on their Bench, such as an ample amount of Shaymin-EX, ripe for the picking! In a slower format, Rayquaza strives for speed but gives up its fortitude with low-HP Pokemon-EX. Mega Rayquaza needs a ton of Pokemon at its disposal at all times too, so if you’re ever able to get rid of Pokemon via playing a Stadium card, milling them, or just KOing them, you’ll be in fine shape against this massive dragon!

A straight counter to this deck would be Sudowoodo, but since the NAIC, the card has seen a vast reduction in play. It may phase out or see greater play depending on how popular players perceive this deck will be. Stay on the lookout to see if this card is hyped or not.

What’s New?

This deck gained a massive buff this set in the form of Darkrai-GX! Since most players will try to run Mega Rayquaza decks out of Pokemon, our natural reaction as Mega Rayquaza players is to sufficiently find ways to keep Pokemon in play. Easy enough? In the Expanded format, players found ways around this via Exeggcute, which has the Propagate Ability, allowing the player using it to return Exeggcute to their hand from the discard whenever they see fit. With Darkrai-GX, its Restoration Ability allows you to play it straight to your Bench from your discard, and attach a Darkness Energy to it directly. We don’t use Darkness Energy in this deck; we’re strictly using Darkrai-GX for its ability to re-Bench itself. That in itself is such a strong reason for this deck to play it, mainly because it allows us infinite resources to Benched Pokemon! I love this card as an answer to our opponent’s counter Stadiums, as well as a recovery from pesky counters like Sudowoodo.

Strengths

This deck shines really well in this format, where Gardevoir-GX will be running rampant and other counter decks will see play, such as the very hyped Golisopod-GX deck. Volcanion is another deck that will see ample amounts of play now due to the hype of Kiawe, followed by massive classics such as Garbodor / Espeon-GX and Zoroark. The players who continue to pilot Garbodor and Zoroark aren’t trying to be innovative, but moreso “tried and true” — it’s important to always reevaluate a deck in a new format, regardless of what you may think. Theorymon can only get you so far in this game, and should only be a time saver unless the theories that are being tested are proven. Garbodor should take a backseat in the format now that more decks are playing less and less Items, and the newfound BDIF has been born in the form of Gardevoir-GX. This insight alone allows Mega Rayquaza to tower over other decks now that one of its rough matchups is out of the way. As long as Mega Rayquaza can OHKO the opposing attacker, and retain a positive Prize trade, it is a good matchup on paper.

Would I Play This Deck?

You bet I would highly consider this deck! It flows like a dream boat, and the overall matchups for this deck seem very strong, even moreso on paper. Although like I said earlier, it’s very important to test; this is a deck that has years of play on it already, and a rather impressive track record. This may be Rayquaza’s final chance to shine before simply being rotated into our binders, and I don’t think it should go out without a bang. Sometimes just facing off against a 220 HP monster is sometimes difficult to handle, and when matched with its sheer power, it’s a true force to be reckoned with.

On a final note about the deck: people may splash in Necrozma-GX to counter us, but a simple Hex Maniac will finish them off. There’s nothing besides 250 HP monsters that scare me with this deck, and if they become more populous then I’ll be sure to include a copy of Professor Kukui into this list. Likewise, Vespiquen‘s popularity should rise too considering people are dropping Oricorio and we play a natural counter to that deck in the form of Karen. I’m just in love with this deck’s synergy, and I would have zero issues playing this at my next event. It’s a very solid choice looking forward!


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