Hello PokeBeach fans! My name is Marty and I consider myself an enthusiast when it comes to Regionals. I have managed to capture two Regional Championships, a Nationals, plus finished runner-up this season in Northern California’s Autumn Regionals. The following is a list of the top 20 Pokemon cards in the Modified format for the upcoming Winter Regional Championship. What I looked for when making my selection of these cards was how powerful the cards are in general, how versatile they are, and how they schematize into the what I feel is the projected metagame for the event.
Now, I am aware metagames may differ from region to region, but I feel that generally most of these principles will apply no matter which one you go. Being able to determine what decks are going to be popular based on trends of the particular area you are going to play in is a skill in the game. If you are unsure what’s big, try taking a peek at your favorite social media outlet or Pokemon forum; these are crawling with free information from your competition. Have you seen the latest fad of people posting trophy pictures with key cards that led them to victory? Punish these people by taking this information and tech against them! If they wanna run Quad Sigilyph, run a Meloetta or something. If the competition is Eel heavy, you may want to run a Landorus/Tornadus basic speed deck that has a great chance of locking up the deck before it gets out of the gate. If you’re expecting heavy Klingklang and Hydreigon type fields, go Rayquaza/Eelektrik – this deck crushes those. Regionals starts way before round 1. Everything you do leading up to Regionals paints the picture and hopefully, that picture is you hoisting the trophy with the accomplishment of victory!
So what’s at stake here? Well obviously pride, that goes without saying, but let’s take a look at the prizes for 1st place:
- A Pokémon TCG Regional Championships 1st Place award
- A Travel Award (including a parent or legal guardian for players under 18) to the 2013 U.S. National Championships at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, OR the Canada National Championships in Toronto, ON.
- A first- and second-round bye at the U.S. National Championships
- A combination of 72 booster packs from current Pokémon TCG expansions
- 120 Championship Points
Personally, I’ve seen loftier spoils out of Regional Championships, but all this stuff is still plenty to get excited about. Yeah, there is a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. prize, but let’s keep the mindset of shooting for numero uno.
The Top 20
The first member of the Regionals Top 20 is Bouffalant. The built in Eviolite-like effect is a very nice bonus to compliment its low HP. Clearly, the big deal about this card is the Gold Breaker attack which hits an EX Pokemon for a whopping 120 damage. Before the last Regional Championships, I probably would have rated The Buffalo much higher, but in my opinion, you are generally looking to do one hit knock out damage to EX Pokemon in today’s Hydreigon/Klingklang/Max Potion-heavy environment.
I would not be surprised if after Winter Regionals is all said and done, you find a deck or two do surprisingly well with Garbodor. The theory is, that this is a very ability rich environment the metagame is in. The main enemy of Garbodor is Tool Scrapper, and depending on how popular that card is in your metagame, you might be able to make a disruptive splash with this card.
This was actually a last minute inclusion in The Top 20. What really caught my attention with this card is its metagame implications. For the most part, when running Meloetta, you mainly intend to hit Sigilyph since your other attackers may be subdued by Safeguard. A loaded Mewtwo-EX may also be subdued by Meloetta.
Zekrom has been around the Pokemon block for a bit. Still a very useful component to any Eelektrik based deck. Outrage is a very powerful attack which can make your opponent think twice before harming your Zekrom. There are situations where using Outrage may even net you more damage than using Bolt Strike. My favorite quality in Zekrom is its ability to one hit knock out Tornadus-EX.
Some call it Shining Rayquaza, I choose to go the simple route and call him Promo Rayquaza. No matter what you call him, what he brings to the table is very huge. No Rayquaza/Eelektrik deck should be without a couple copies of this Rayquaza. Right out of the gate, the 40 damage from Dragon Pulse can be very troublesome for decks that run Tynamo and the Dragon weak Deino. Rayquaza eats those cards alive.
The second attack, Shred is incredible for ensuring two hit knock outs on many popular cards that are at the HP 180 threshold ignoring effects from tool cards such as Eviolite.
I have seen Terrakion in all kinds of decks since its release. Retaliate is not too demanding of specific energy which has made this card pretty versatile. Most commonly, you can expect Retaliate to give a world of hurt to any Darkrai-EX your opponent has in play. One of my favorite cards to pair with Terrakion NV is PlusPower to eliminate any issues an Eviolite may present Terrakion when chasing the two prize gain vs Darkrai EX.
Shaymin-EX is a good cleaner card. Usually, you do not want to have a Shaymin-EX on board early game due to its low HP, but later in the game, your damage output goes up as the game proceeds. For only two energy you have the ability to knock out Keldeo-EX which is a very popular card at the moment.
EX Pokemon can’t touch this. The built in ability of Sigilyph is enough to focus a whole deck around, and some have. If you run a deck that has a focus on EX Pokemon, you have to run some sort of counter to Sigilyph, or else you cannot expect to get very far. Some will run NV Terrakion or even Meloetta to get through this obstacle. Just make sure to come prepared.
Welcome to Tornado Alley. In terms of speed, look no further than Tornadus-EX. With a Double Colorless Energy and a Stadium card, you have a chance to one hit knock out popular cards like Deino and Tynamo. The second attack, Power Blast, does a solid 100 damage with the drawback of possibly losing an energy. A fun strategy to employ with Tornadus-EX is to run a Victory Star Victini to lower the probability of discarding energy from Power Blast.
Generally, any card that allows you to break rules will be fundamentally broken. Blastoise is no exception. When using the Deluge Ability, you are granted permission to attach Water Energy as many times as you want in a given turn. The most common pairing with Blastoise is Keldeo-EX. By using the ability of Blastoise, you do not even have a cap on how much damage you can do with Secret Sword, which makes Blastoise a very big player in today’s metagame.
Probably the most hyped up card before the release of Boundaries Crossed. Did it live up to the hype? Sure it did. Hammerhead does thirty and allows you to designate a second target for 30 additional damage. This attack spells disaster for Eelektrik players as it delivers a one hit knock out to any Tynamo then sets up a second kill for the next turn if the second one becomes an Eeletrik.
Land’s Judgement is a great follow up attack since 150 damage knocks out popular targets like Klingklang and Hydreigon. Also, if you placed 30 on an HP 180 target, you now got enough juice to finish the job with Land’s Judgement. There’s tons of opportunity when running Landorus-EX.
With an ability so good, it spawned an archetype of it’s own. I personally do not have much experience with running Ho-Oh-EX, but I’ve lost to it. The card has it’s own built in energy acceleration that turns the potential drawbacks of cards such as Ultra Ball, Computer Search, and Professor Juniper into huge gains just by flipping a coin.
Most Ho-Oh decks you face will surely be packing the nifty item card Energy Switch, which will allow Ho-Oh to quickly power up a variety of vicious targets you will have to deal with.
Shifting Gear is what clearly put this card on the map. The basic strategy when running Klinklang is that you do not allow your opponent to knock out any of your Pokemon if possible by cycling energy away with Shifting Gear to a different target so you can use Max Potion without the negative effect on the damaged Pokemon. Then, move the energy back and attack again with the undamaged Pokemon.
Traditionally, the most common problem in Klinklang decks are Item cards or even attacks that discard your special energy. To remedy this, some players have incorporated Charge Beam Klingklang.
Dark Trance has made Hydreigon one of the most annoying decks to face. The deck follows a similar path to Klingklang in the aspect that it blocks you from taking multiple shot knock outs through energy channeling and Max Potion. One of the main differences between the two decks is that Hydreigon is more inclined to run Sableye, which is great for any deck that runs Darkness Energy.
If you run a mostly basic oriented deck with no energy acceleration, your strategy versus Hydreigon becomes simply keep Deino out of the game before it becomes Hydreigon. I feel decks like Rayquaza/Eelektrik fair very well vs Hydreigon since you have a route to one shot any Pokemon this deck ships out.
Not a lot of HP, but a lot of value comes from Dynamotor. The biggest challenge when running any Eelektrik-focused deck will be the early game when trying to establish a multiple copy Dynamotor presence on your bench. I feel vs the popular decks like Hydreigon and Klingklang, running Eelektrik with Rayquaza-EX is the optimal way to best that type of field. Klingklang does have energy accelerating options such as the non ability version of itself, but you stand to topple them with multiple Dynamotors and a Dragon Burst directed at wherever the energy stock is at on your opponent’s side of the field.
Regarded by some as the number one card in the game, Sableye is very useful with its Junk Hunt attack. What Sableye allows you to do is reuse critical Item cards at the cost of a turn you might have simply passed instead. Having access to more copies of cards such as Pokemon Catcher and Computer Search can add up to a very significant advantage in your quest of victory.
Possibly still the number one threat in the game, Mewtwo-EX has been a relevant card in the metagame since its release, with no signs of leaving the scene until he has been completely rotated out. This card defines versatile as it can be splashed into any deck you plan on playing. The most common counters to Mewtwo-EX are itself and the increasingly popular Sigilyph. Sigilyph, however, can be countered with the inexpensive attacking Meoletta. The premise is to surprise the Sigilyph user that has full stock energy on it with a slap in the face.
Celestial Roar has got to be the most fun attack to use currently in the Modified format. Before I ever announce this attack, I’ll confidently tell my opponent, “let’s gamble!” Let’s look at the risk ratio here: you either hit big and prepare a nasty attack next turn, or you discard some valuable stuff you might wish was still available during a later phase in the game. It will be up to you and whatever game state you are in when deciding to use Celestial Roar optimally.
Dragon Burst is definitely the bread winner in the Rayquaza/Eelektrik archetype. What really gets me to think so highly of this card is the potential of nearly infinite damage pending how much Energy you are able to spring for the attack. Most commonly, you do see Rayquaza-EX paired with Eelektrik for the shot in the arm for extra damage, but other fun options like Emboar still exist out there for a less conventional approach at one hit knock out Dragon Bursting.
Ever since the release of Darkrai-EX you are not able to attend any sort of Pokemon Trading Card game event without hearing the intimidating attack name: Night Spear! Made easily available through the promotional tins, many players have found a home for this card in their favorite archetypes. What makes this card so sought after? The ability is one that is so amazing, it lets you retreat any Pokemon for free that has a Dark Energy present on it. The requirement for the Ability isn’t specific to Darkness Energy cards, so an appropriate Blend Energy or qualifying Prism Energy target will be able to abuse this heavy retreat defying wonder.
The attack is both disruptive and powerful. Night Spear has a chance of coming out as soon as turn one with helpful item cards like Dark Patch, and also gets a boost in attack damage with the Tool card Dark Claw. Your arch-nemesis is going to be the retaliate from Terrakion NV, so be sure to pack the Eviolites and cross your fingers in the hopes that the opponent has never heard of the card PlusPower.
This is it! Our number one: Keldeo. What makes Keldeo the leader here? I almost can’t even name a deck that doesn’t have a benefit of including it. Hydreigon, Klinklang, Blastoise, Darkrai variants, even Rayquaza/Eelektrik has a huge gain with Keldeo. Keldeo opens up a unique option that gets you out of defensive Catcher spots, where Eelektrik just gets hung in the Active position, which can burn down your Switch resources. By Rushing In (optimally with a Skyarrow Bridge to bring down your total cost of retreat to 1), you are open to swapping out your Active without even burning your one allowed retreat per turn. No Water Energy? No problem. You have a way to set up a Landorus-EX with a two-shot kill regardless of an all-Colorless Secret Sword for 100 damage due to Weakness.
When it comes to damage output, Blastoise variants definitely gain the most with the inclusion of Keldeo in that aspect. Secret Sword’s only damage cap depends on the number of Water Energy in your entire deck. Blastoise also is less inclined to run the Item card Switch since Keldeo does all this work for you, which means more deck space. Klinklang and Hydreigon-type decks have the ability to manipulate Secret Sword damage output by moving around energy with their respective Abilities. But then comes the liability of stocking too much of your precious Special Energy on one target. So be wise when making in game decisions of this nature, you don’t want to Secret Sword for like a grip of damage just to have a Mewtwo-EX waltz in and clear every Energy off of your side of the field.
Regional Championships are highly competitive events that have a lot to offer novice and advanced players alike. Here are a few additional tips to help you prepare:
1) DO NOT BE NERVOUS
If this is your first time playing in a Regionals, do not be nervous. I advise you to spend time testing out how your deck choice fairs versus a variety of decks you feel you might run into at the event. This will help you become more confident come showtime.
2) SHUFFLE YOUR OPPONENT’S DECK
Yeah, these people are out there. The ones that may attempt to employ some sort of pre-game stacking strategy. You can spot this kid nonchalantly in the corner of the room “declumping” his deck.
3) DO NOT MAKE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IN THE OPPONENT’S DISCARD PILE OBVIOUS
This one I need to do more myself. When you ask your opponents how many of a certain card they have used, it is actually a mistake. If your opponent has not taken into account how many copies of a card they have left, do not remind them to do it! Also, when skimming the opponent’s discard pile, do not bring attention to specific cards you are searching for. If you are counting how many N your opponent has used, and they pick up on this, you may give away the strength of your hand.
4) BE COURTEOUS TO THE STAFF
The people that run these events are usually very nice people. Even if you are given a bad ruling, getting up and making a Hollywood scene out of it will probably get you nowhere. Although I know how enticing the notion is, let’s refrain from it.
5) BE INFORMED
Keep up with trends, use Facebook to see what notable players going to your event have been using, and think of ways to counter them. Do some spy work. ;)
With all that said, I’m going to close this with a standard issue Rayquaza/Eelektrik decklist. I used a version of this to recently win a City Championship, so I feel it’s still in prime condition to take out to a Regional Championship. Good luck!
2x Rayquaza (Dragon Vault)
2x Rayquaza EX
8x Lightning Energy
5x Fire Energy