Hello Beach goers! It is the dawn of a new format and there is much to be discussed! States have come and gone and for those who don’t have access to a week one or two spring Regionals, like myself, Roaring Skies is the primary focus. I am very enthusiastic about the new set and the opportunity to compete in a Regional setting just weeks after its release. I am also nervous about getting my hands on the cards I need in time for the tournament! Much like the situation we had at Florida Regionals this past winter, players will be diving into the format head first and there are bound to be surprises. Lists will be rough, players will encounter card combinations they might not be expecting, and those who do their studying beforehand are bound to be the most successful.
For those of you looking to attend a week one or two Spring Regional, I will be opening with a discussion on Landorus/Crobat and my recent success with the deck at Ohio States. For those of you looking ahead to the Roaring Skies format, I will be doing an in-depth analysis on a deck focused around the new Dragon type M Rayquaza-EX from Roaring Skies.
Before we get going though, I want to thank you all for joining me for my online writing debut! Writing articles is something I have always wanted to do, and I am very grateful and excited to stake my claim in PokeBeach. If you haven’t subscribed to our program yet, you’re missing out! So many people already have, and there’s a full 30 day money back guarantee, so there’s absolutely no risk to you. We’ll be writing weekly articles for you, fixing your decks, holding metagame discussions, and giving you advice, so there’s more to this program than just articles, we’ll be helping you improve your game! If you want to write an article for this program, you can also fill out an application here. The more writers, the merrier! So come join us!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Andrew Mahone. I have been a Pokemon fan since the 4th grade when I opened my first pack of Base Set Pokemon cards which, to my lack of enthusiasm, contained a Scoop Up as the rare card. It’s funny how we pick out the oddest things to remember about our childhood, I can even remember the place I was standing when I was opened my first pack. But it just goes to show how much Pokemon had an effect on me even at young age. Though I have been a Pokemon fan nearly my whole life, it wasn’t until 3 years ago that I attended my first competitive event, a Noble Victories prerelease tournament.
Fresh out of college, I was looking for something to fill the void that was left in my life after completing four years of collegiate cross country and track. I used to play the Pokemon video games for fun on my long bus rides to and from meets, but I never had the money or the time to pursue Pokemon in a competitive way during school. I have no idea how you college kids do it! Though I had no prior experience with card games when I began playing the TCG, I have been very fortunate with quick success so far in my Pokemon career. I was able to get up to speed relatively quickly by practicing obsessively and reading premium articles online, just like this one! Within my first full competitive season, I had won two City Championships and finished in the Top 8 of Indiana Regionals. Last year I won a few more City Championships and finished in the Top 4 of the St. Louis Regional Championship. This year I bested myself again by winning the St. Louis Regional Championship and placing 2nd and 5th at the Ohio and Indiana State Championships respectively. I owe a lot of my success this year to Landorus/Crobat, which single-handedly earned my entire 2015 World Championship invitation and most recently landed me 2nd place at Ohio States.
Landorus/Crobat is a deck that can easily steal victories if the metagame is not prepared for it, and I consider it to be a top tier choice heading into the last few weeks of Boundaries Crossed – Primal Clash tournaments. Here is the list I ran at Ohio States with some card explanations and a look at my tournament run!
4x N (NVI #92)
I think this list has become pretty standard so I don’t expect there to be many surprises here, except for my inclusion of Miltank. For clarity though, I will review some of the inclusions that differentiate my list from others and make it what I consider to be the strongest possible version of the list to run.
Let us just go ahead and start with the cow in the room, Miltank from Flashfire. Miltank is a niche attacker that I included in early drafts of my list heading into St. Louis Regionals back in February but ultimately removed for Dedenne. She fits the mold of this deck perfectly, hitting big numbers for one energy if you have a Stage 2 on the field. Miltank is an effective option in the deck because she is a non-EX attacker that can trade well with other non-EX threats, something Hawlucha cannot do. The most significant drawback of playing Miltank is that she is a terrible starter. She cannot hit for 80 damage until turn three at the earliest and has a hefty retreat cost of two. This can prove problematic in a deck that wants to be aggressive and plays zero switch cards. In a pinch you can scoop her out of the active using Super Scoop Up (same goes for Jirachi-EX), but there is always the risk she will just be there swinging for 10 until the opponent decides to knock her out. She made the cut for Ohio, though, because I wanted an attacker that could dispose of Empoleon who has become a popular inclusion with Archie's Ace in the Hole in Flareon and Nightmarch decks. Additionally, she hits Safeguard attackers and trades efficiently with Seismitoad-EX who has no way of dealing with her 100 HP in one shot.
2 Landorus EX / 1 Lucario EX
Landorus-EX is the best attacker in the deck by far, but he is not always your ideal starter. Landorus hates a turn one Head Ringer, a turn one Hypnotoxic Laser, or a turn one Quaking Punch. Hawlucha is the best starter in the deck because he allows you to react to your opponent and retreat into whoever you decide is best for the situation. If Hawlucha goes down early it’s really no big deal. But if an EX endures foul treatment early on, it can spell disaster for the rest of the match. Most game plans involve slowing your opponent’s quest for 6 prizes by flooding the field with Hawlucha and Crobat and choosing the best moments to send out your Pokemon-EX. I cannot stress enough how important it is to choose carefully when you bench an EX with this deck. This is why I only play three EX attackers. Most matches will only require two EX and a few Hawlucha to win. Interestingly, my early lists did not include Lucario-EX at all. My friend Justin Boughter showed up to a City Championship with the card in his version of Landorus/Crobat and I grabbed it and chucked it across the room. Lucario’s Missile Jab has always paled in comparison to Hammerhead so I thought him a waste of space. The more I tested Lucario, however, the more he grew on me. Corkscrew Smash and Somersault Kick have both won me valuable games throughout my time playing the deck and the alternate weakness is definitely useful. That being said, I would not advise playing more than one Lucario-EX. His uses are mostly niche and I still end up discarding him in roughly 50% of my games. I do have Lucario alone to thank for two clutch best of three wins vs. Primal Kyogre-EX at Ohio states, which I will describe in detail later on in the article.
3 Super Scoop Up
Super Scoop Up is a beautiful card in this deck. It is everything. It is a healing card that can reset damage on your Pokemon-EX. It is a switching card. It is a card that can pick up Crobat lines so they can continue dishing out damage. It is a card that can turn a Jirachi-EX start into an explosive turn one. But in the same breath, it can also be nothing. Landorus/Crobat often lives and dies by Super Scoop Up flips, but I still feel like three rather than four is the magic number here. Landorus/Crobat is an aggressive deck that wants to make the most out of the opening turns while keeping the pressure on later in the game, and Super Scoop Up adds very little to those opening turns. It is a defensive card and not the kind of thing you will be using every turn of the game. At the end of the day it does not matter how many Scoops you hit if your deck is lacking in consistency and aggressiveness, which leads me to my next choice…
Many players have opted to run Scoop Up Cyclone in their Landorus/Crobat lists as opposed to old faithful here. But ultimately Scoop Up Cyclone can be replicated by a Super Scoop Up heads. Computer Search, on the other hand, is irreplaceable. It is literally running an additional out to every card in your deck. Five outs to a turn one Strong Energy. Four outs to a turn one Muscle Band. Ten outs to a turn one Professor Sycamore. Computer Search is hands down the most aggressive and consistent Ace Spec, and for that reason I would never substitute it here.
3 Colress / 0 Korrina
My decision to run 3 Colress and no Korrina has been the defining factor in my Landorus/Crobat list since its inception. The downside of occasionally starting lone Colress is vastly outweighed by the Supporter’s potency later in the game. In fact, the deck boasts 14 outs to a turn one Professor Sycamore or N, so poor starts are not very common. By turn 2 or 3, Colress has usually become the best Supporter in the deck allowing the player to draw into numerous Golbat, Crobat, Energy, Super Scoop Up and Supporter options for the following turn. Additionally, running three copies of Colress makes the deck much more resilient against Seismitoad-EX’s Quaking Punch. Colress can still net a player valuable Energy, Pokemon and Supporters under item lock. To be truthful, I never even considered using Korrina while building this deck. Korrina will only ever net a player one Fighting Pokemon and one Item. That’s not very overwhelming. This is a deck that wants to overwhelm the opponent, draw big hands and set up as many Crobat as possible while churning out attackers. Colress helps the player do just that.
With as much pride as I take in this deck, I initially wrote it off as dead heading into State Championships. I was not able to attend a week one States, and sure enough, players came out swinging with their many iterations of Seismitoad-EX, including what I consider to be the absolute worst Landorus/Crobat matchup, Seismitoad-EX/Crobat. In response to this, I chose to pilot Virizion-EX/Mewtwo-EX/Seismitoad-EX during week two at Indiana States which net me a Top 8 finish. I skipped week three and by the time week four had rolled around I felt confident enough in Virizion and Manectric’s numbers to roll Landorus back into play. The deck I was most wary about heading into Ohio States was actually a Primal Kyogre-EX/Victini-EX deck popularized by my friend Kevin Baxter. I knew a good number of people were choosing to pilot the deck and I had only tested one best of three against it prior to the tournament, which I lost. I had actually replaced the Miltank and the 6th Fighting Energy with two Focus Sash (a tech for the Kyogre matchup that I had theorized about but never actually tested) leading up to the player meeting. Right as the judges began collecting deck lists, however, I changed my list back and took the Focus Sashes back out, opting for the list I knew worked and had been testing for months prior.
Round One: Seismitoad-EX/Manectric-EX/Crobat [WLW]
Round Two: Yveltal-EX/Crawdaunt [WW]
Round Three: Gardevoir-EX/Florges-EX/Aromatisse [W]
Round Four: Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor [WL-Tie]
Round Five: Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX [WLW]
Round Six: (Carl Scheu) Primal Kyogre-EX/Victini-EX [WW]
Round Seven: (Corey Scott) Medicham/Landorus-EX/Hawlucha [Opponent Scooped]
Round Eight: (Frank Serafinski) Donphan [ID]
TOP 8: (Carl Scheu) Primal Kyogre-EX/Victini-EX [WLW]
Top 4: (Corey Scott) Medicham/Landorus-EX/Hawlucha [WW]
Finals: (Michael Livingston) Seismitoad/Crobat [LL]
Sure enough, the most pivotal matches of my tournament run were against my good friend Carl Scheu and his Primal Kyogre-EX/Victini-EX deck. Carl is an excellent player and one of my closest testing partners so I knew these games would be good ones. I had tested the matchup with him once in the week leading up to the tournament and he beat me 2-1 in a best of three series. In the game I won, however, I had started Lucario-EX and hit hard with a turn 3 Somersault Kick going first. Knowing this was my only shot at winning, I employed this strategy against him in both of our matches at Ohio States with great success.
Matchup Breakdown: Landorus/Crobat vs. Primal Kyogre EX
On paper this matchup seems really bad – abysmal even. Landorus is weak to Water, Crobat’s residual damage is negated if the opponent gets a Rough Seas into play and Hawlucha needs a perfect back to back Strong Energy/Muscle Band/Fighting Stadium combo if he wants any chance of a 2HKO against Primal Kyogre-EX‘s whale-like 240 HP. Until this weekend I had considered the matchup a total wash. But now that I have played it a few more times, I consider it to be about 50/50. Here is how it works.
Primal Kyogre-EX decks tend to follow one strategy, Tidal Wave with a Primal Kyogre-EX as early as possible to power up other Kyogre-EX, Keldeo-EX, or Suicune. A Suicune or a Float Stone equipped Keldeo typically act as buffers, soaking hits and healing them off with Rough Seas until Primal Kyogre is ready to roll. Once set up, Primal Kyogre will tear through almost anything in its path, dealing 150 damage to the active while spreading 30 damage to all the opponent’s benched Pokemon-EX.
Under normal circumstances, Primal Kyogre-EX will not be attacking until turn three. I say “normal circumstances” because Carl was running the Victini-EX version of Primal Kyogre which would technically allow him to get a turn two Tidal Storm if he started with Victini EX’s Turbo Energize turn one. This means that Landorus/Crobat has three turns to create a threat can contend with a Primal Kyogre-EX. There is only one Pokemon on the entire roster fit for this job: Lucario-EX. A turn three Somersault Kick to the face is absolutely devastating to a Primal Kyogre player, especially if the Landorus/Crobat player is going first. With two Strong Energy, a Muscle Band and a Fighting Stadium, Lucario-EX is Corkscrew Smashing for 120 damage turn two and Somersault Kicking for a 180 damage turn three. If the Kyogre player is not able to promote a Suicune within the first two turns, whatever Keldeo-EX was left active will surely endure a knock out. Worst of all, Primal Kyogre-EX will not be OHKOing this monster in return if the Landorus/Crobat player has gone first, allowing Lucario-EX to Somersault Kick yet another EX for huge damage or possibly a knock out.
For example, during game three of our Top 8 match, I was able to get a turn three Lysandre – Somersault Kick for 180 damage on Carl’s clean Kyogre-EX with two Energy on it, leaving his board without Energy. Unable to N me, I responded with a turn four Lysandre on another clean EX for knock out, bringing our series to an obvious end. Admittedly, this is the kind of event that leads my friends to say things like, “Mahone, you’re only good because you draw like a Greek god,” or, “Mahone, everybody hates you, please go home.” Yeah, I was definitely fortunate to scrape by with two best of three wins here, but really, getting an Energy on Lucario turn one is all it takes to employ this strategy and I was able to accomplish that in all five games I played against Carl over the weekend.
The remainder of the tournament played out without too much exciting happening. I played a good series vs. my friend Corey Scott’s Medicham deck in Top 4, which I consider to be a favorable matchup, and I got absolutely decimated in the finals by Michael Livingston and his Seismitoad/Crobat deck. Now let’s go look at some dragons.
The Art of Dragon Taming
With the release of Roaring Skies, all eyes appear to be on the strength of the new Colorless Rayquaza-EX and its obvious synergy with Shaymin-EX, Altaria and Sky Field. However, today I will be discussing the other dragons lurking in the shadows waiting for their potential to be unleashed.
What the Dragon M Rayquaza-EX lacks in efficiency, he makes up for with raw power. He boasts a menacing 230 HP, a non-exploitable weakness, a Delta Trait that essentially grants him four resistances and an attack that hits like a truck. Now I’m not going to lie, the first time I saw the scans for the set on PokeBeach, I wrote this card off as an unplayable overkill card to be lumped in with the likes of M Charizard-EX from Flashfire (#69) and M Charizard-EX from Flashfire (#13). Five Energy to attack seems very costly. And what is the use in paying so much to deal 300 damage anyways? Nearly every legal Pokemon will succumb to the other Rayquaza’s Emerald Break which maxes out at 240 damage.
Not until I actually built the deck and tested it did I find that it is much easier to power up M-Rayquaza’s Dragon Ascent than I had realized. Not to mention, this card has been blessed with all the tools it needs to be a total powerhouse in Boundaries Crossed – Roaring Skies format. Let’s take a look at a skeleton list and then go into all the details and explanations.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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