Hello ‘Beach goers! I hope that all of your summers have been going well and that you have been able to prepare yourselves both mentally and physically for whatever endeavors lie ahead for you in the fall. With the Pokemon World Championships happening in less then one week, many players are scrambling to figure out which deck they will be piloting on the World stage, while others are attempting to select a play for the recently announced Boston Open. But, as you might have noticed, those focused on the Boundaries Crossed – Roaring Skies format are in the minority amongst competitive Pokemon players. Most of us have our eyes set on Ancient Origins and the Expanded format that our Regional Championships will be utilizing this year. Though I am still working fervently to prepare myself for my first rendezvous at Worlds, I could not help but take an interest in Ancient Origins and the exciting cards it will be bringing to competitive play.
Though I am not particularly excited about any of the Pokemon-EX to come out of Ancient Origins, I absolutely love the common, uncommon and rare cards to emerge from this new set. I think the new cards will inspire a lot of creativity in deck building while increasing the number and types of viable decks overall, which should make the game more fun to play for everybody. Piloting Raichu for the last few months has made me a big fan of Stage 1 decks, which perhaps better explains my enthusiasm for this set. Ancient Origins is loaded with playable Stage 1 cards! Vespiquen, Gyarados, Volcarona, and Golurk are all cards on my radar for next season, but clearly the stars of Ancient Origins are the new Eeveelutions: Jolteon, Flareon and Vaporeon. These new type shifting Pokemon change the way we look at every Stage 1 printed since Black & White. What if Donphan could hit Yveltal-EX for Weakness? What if Raichu could hit Landorus-EX for an easy OHKO? All of this and more is possible now thanks to the new Eeveelutions! And with the recently announced Break Evolution cards coming out in our fall set, this is definitely an exciting time for Stage 1 cards.
That all being said, post-Worlds competitive play and discussion is in a little bit of a funny spot now that we officially have two major formats to take into consideration throughout the season. Anyone looking to get a leg up on Fall Regionals will need to be considering every card from Black & White through Ancient Origins when constructing their decks, but those looking to tear up the local League scene may need to figure out how to make their decks shine with the limited card pool in XY – Ancient Origins format. Throughout my article I will address and give lists for both formats, though the emphasis of my article will be on the Black and White – Ancient Origins Expanded format. Fall Regionals will be our first (barring the Boston Open) big tournaments of the season and I suspect that many if not most League Challenges will follow suite by also participating in the Black & White – Ancient Origins format. Not to mention, the Supporter-based draw options available to us in Standard are absolutely atrocious at the moment, and it is a pretty big headache attempting to build some decks without better shuffle draw options like N or Colress.
Speaking of next season, if you’re looking to get a jump start on the season ahead and really give yourself all the tools necessary to be the best, I highly recommend joining us here at PokeBeach with a Premium subscription! With a PokeBeach Premium subscription, you will be learning from a large variety of top players who have started from scratch and made names for themselves in the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Not to mention, you will also have access to PokeBeach’s Subscriber’s Secret Hideout forum where you can talk with the writers about whatever question you have or deck you want help with! Hopefully I will see you there!
In case you haven’t been around the internet lately, the card that seems to be on most people’s minds with the release of Ancient Origins is Vespiquen. Vespiquen is a huge addition to the competitive scene, and definitely not a card to be underestimated. In recent times, Grass-weak decks like Seismitoad-EX, Wailord-EX, Primal Kyogre-EX, and Primal Groudon-EX have been able to roam free without fear of encountering a Grass deck. Before the release of Ancient Origins, the only Grass archetype in format was Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX, and Virizion is simply not fast enough to compete with most modern threats like Raichu, Night March or Metal M Rayquaza-EX. Vespiquen changes all of this. Vespiquen is the speedy, hard-hitting, low-maintenance attacker that Grass types have been waiting for! The Bee Queen can easily dispose of a Seismitoad, Wailord, Kyogre, or Groudon with only one Energy attachment using Bee Revenge. Add the new Eeveelutions from Ancient Origins into the mix and you expand Vespiquen’s potential OHKO palate to include M Rayquaza-EX, Aegislash-EX, Landorus-EX, Lugia-EX, M Sceptile-EX, Virizion-EX, Genesect-EX, and Yveltal-EX. Of course Vespiquen is also capable of OHKO’ing threats outside of her Weakness reach, however, that is a much more difficult task to accomplish.
All that being said, after playtesting with Vespiquen for some time, I realized that I don’t prefer the archetype when compared to other non-EX decks. I found that Vespiquen relies far more heavily on Double Colorless Energy than I would prefer and has to strain much harder than other Pokemon to accomplish the same OHKOs. I’ve never been a big fan of Flareon decks and Vespiquen is essentially the same card! For what it is though, I think Steve Guthrie did an awesome job detailing Vespiquen in his latest article. I know Steve has put a lot of time into testing and refining his list already, so it is the best place to start if you are looking for a tested Vespiquen list. The only major difference worth noting between Steve’s list and my own is that I include a single copy of Blacksmith and a few Fire Energy as well. Flareon’s Ability, Flare Effect, makes it so that all Stage 1 Pokemon are Fire types in addition to their original type. This means that when Flareon is in play, all Stage 1 Pokemon are potential targets for Blacksmith! This takes some of the weight off of your Double Colorless Energy and provides you with an out to hit through Aegislash-EX without using Hex Maniac for a turn.
Maybe time will tell with Vespiquen, but for now I agree with Steve that the deck is a little over-hyped. The cards are certainly powerful, without a doubt, but the deck seems too precarious for me to put a lot of stock in at the moment. I think the best thing that Vespiquen has going for it is its Grass typing and access to Eeveelutions. But in my opinion, Eeveelutions are going to find their most competitive partner somewhere else! I’ve been playing around with quite a few decks lately, attempting to figure out what cards pair best with the new Eeveelutions, and I have stumbled across some exciting and powerful stuff! Lets take a look.
No I did not mistype, Dugtrio from XY is absolutely a card worth looking at with the introduction of Eeveelutions. Fighting type Stage 1 attackers are in an awesome position right now, especially in the Standard format. Fighting types enjoy the damage boost of Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium, generally low maintenance attack costs, and the newfound ability to hit Lightning, Water, and Fire-weak Pokemon for double the damage. Dugtrio is reminiscent of the infamous Donphan Prime, hitting 60 damage for a single Fighting Energy and spreading 10 damage to each of your own Benched Pokemon. Much like Hawlucha, after Strong Energy, Muscle Band, and Fighting Stadium are added into the equation, Dugtrio can swing for an impressive 120 damage with one Energy attachment. This is perfect math to hit OHKOs against the sure to be popular M Manectric-EX. Take into consideration the other types that Dugtrio can hit for Weakness thanks to the new Eeveelutions and you have yourself an extremely potent and low maintenance deck that doesn’t suffer from the same Energy constraints that many of his Stage 1 brethren do. Much of this same praise could be sung about Donphan from Plasma Storm, however, Donphan will soon rotate out of Standard play and does not hit as hard as Dugtrio, so Dugtrio does have a niche use in Standard format as one of the dominant Stage 1 attackers. Since I believe that Dugtrio’s ideal home is Standard format, I have constructed a Standard Dugtrio list that is speedy and extremely consistent. If you find yourself attending any Standard format League events, I highly recommend checking Dugtrio out.
3x Eevee (AOR)
My favorite part about this deck is how it is able to abuse Level Ball. Every single Pokemon in this deck is searchable via Level Ball, barring the one copy of Shaymin-EX. Combine this with a full set of Korrina and three copies of Ultra Ball and you have a deck that sets up quick and hits hard nearly every time. The limited draw options available in Standard affect this deck far less than most other decks thanks to the access you have to Korrina. I wanted to build this deck in a way that Shaymin wouldn’t be needed, and in some matchups you won’t need to bench Shaymin at all, but I like having Shaymin as an option just incase you start a lone Korrina and no other draw options. With Shaymin and Ultra Ball, Korrina can be used as draw support in a pinch, which has proved extremely useful during the early turns of the game.
In case your Dugtrio are not able to get there themselves, I’ve included two copies of Hawlucha as supplemental attackers. Hawlucha is still a very good card, especially in Standard play where decks will be relying on Shaymin-EX to draw even more than usual. Hawlucha is a great starter, capable of applying pressure early, and closes out more games with Lysandre than he has any business doing. Not to mention he fits the bill as a Fighting attacker that swings for one Energy. His inclusion was a no brainer!
So far I have not been very impressed with Ace Trainer. I really miss N in Standard play! Ace Trainer is just not the same. I’ve justified not playing the card in this list as I expect this deck to be fast and go up on Prize cards early, limiting the opportunity for this deck to activate Ace Trainer. Even though this is the case, I don’t really feel comfortable with no way to limit the opponent’s hand size. Red Card is always an option, and it is actually very accessible here thanks to the high Korrina count, but I still think I prefer straight consistency. Maybe time will tell if Ace Trainer is needed in most Standard decks. It may not end up being a big deal, however, as it looks like we will be getting a Judge reprint in our Cities set, which in my opinion is a much more reliable hazing card than Ace Trainer.
In Standard play, Flareon from Ancient Origins and Jolteon from Ancient Origins are by far the most important Eeveelutions to play. Flareon, of course, gives your Dugtrio type advantage over Metal and Grass type decks, while Jolteon gives your Dugtrio type advantage over most Colorless and Yveltal-EX decks. Vaporeon can be included in the list should Fire types rise in popularity, but I don’t expect that to be the case right away. Regardless, if you are at all worried about it, the second Switch, third Ultra Ball, and second Flareon are all cuttable for a Vaporeon, just in case. In Expanded, Vaporeon will be a very important inclusion for Stage 1 decks so that they have type advantage over Landorus-EX and Donphan.
Dugtrio is going to fare well versus decks that it can hit for Weakness, plain and simple. The name of the game here is just to out-trade and out-pace big Pokemon-EX and Earthquake away to victory. Even if Dugtrio can’t hit for Weakness, it is still 2HKO’ing most threats and only offering up one Pokemon-EX at most. Not to mention, Dugtrio does a stellar job picking off Shaymin-EX thanks to Jolteon’s Electric Effect. Dugtrio doesn’t sweat over Aegislash-EX‘s Mighty Shield and he doesn’t mind trading with Vespiquen either. However, you are somewhat depending on Vespiquen’s presence to decrease the popularity of decks you don’t hit for Weakness like Seismitoad-EX / Crobat, Primal Kyogre-EX, and Primal Groudon-EX. Dugtrio, simply enough, does not have the fire power to deal with hefty Mega Pokemon-EX that it cannot hit for Weakness.
This deck is very simple and straightforward and I think it operates in our limited Standard format very well. But even outside Standard, Dugtrio could have some uses as a niche one Energy attacker in decks that utilize the Eeveelutions to hit for Weakness. When XY was released last year, Dugtrio and Raichu both found their way into a Stage 1 deck that attempted to hit all the most popular types for Weakness utilizing Silver Bangle to reach OHKO numbers. Now that Raichu is even more powerful than ever, I can definitely imagine a similar deck taking form in Expanded.
Donphan has already proven to be a top tier deck throughout this last season, only tailing off in popularity towards U.S. Nationals and Worlds. In Expanded, Donphan gets a new lease at life thanks to the new Eeveelutions. M Rayquaza-EX and Metal decks gave Donphan a hard time in the past, but now that Donphan can swing into those popular threats for double damage, we need to take the Spinning Elephant back into consideration. Most everything that I have said about Dugtrio remains true for Donphan, however, with Donphan, our damage output is lower, but we gain the incredible hit-and-run effect of Spinning Turn! Donphan has already proven itself as a top contender in the Black & White – Ancient Origins format in Japan, so I fully expect the Elephant to rear his head again in our upcoming Expanded format.
Let’s take a look at my Donphan / Eeveelutions list and then go over the different aspects of it! Then, I’m going to go in-depth on a deck that I’m sure you have heard me talk about once or twice already, Raichu. I’ve talk about it so many times because I love it that much! Adding the Eeveelutions to these already solid archetypes make them some of my favorite picks for the upcoming Fall Regionals. I have fine-tuned these lists quite a bit, and I’m happy to tell you about all the quirks and tricks I’ve included in them!
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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