What’s up, PokeBeach? Welcome to my second article! I hope you’ve all had a great summer and I hope everyone who went to Worlds had a fun time. I know I did! I’m still coming down from the great time I had out in Boston and although it wasn’t perfect ($40 each day for parking?!), it was still a blast and I know the Post-Worlds Depression will be settling in soon. In order to stay focused and avoid feeling down, I decided to start playtesting for XY-On as soon as the rotation was announced right here on PokeBeach! This way I can keep up with the game and be ready when new sets are released and older sets are rotated out of format. Now I’ll always have new decks and ideas to work on and test out as well as the playing the current meta.
Today we will be taking a look at two very similar decks for the new format, their individual strengths and weaknesses, their positive and negative matchups, possible tech cards, and ultimately which of the two decks I feel is the better option. But first, I wanted to talk a bit about the new forms of draw support in XY-On. The 2016 rotation is coming up in just a few days, and with some very important cards leaving the format, we’re going to have to change up the way we build our decks, especially the draw support.
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Shaymin-EX and Sky Field
Let’s talk about one very important card for XY-On: Shaymin-EX. This card is even more important in XY-On than it’s been since it was released in Roaring Skies. This is primarily due to the fact that we are losing two of our biggest draw Supporters, Colress and N. This leaves us with Professor Sycamore as our main draw Supporter and a combination of Shauna, Professor Birch's Observations, and Ace Trainer as our secondary options. Realistically, Shauna and Professor Birch’s Observations would be tertiary choices at best, while Ace Trainer doesn’t even belong on the list in my opinion, due to the fact that you can only use it if you are behind on Prizes. This means players will have to look elsewhere for draw power, and Shaymin-EX is the best form available.
This will also make Sky Field a very important card in the game, as it will allow players to put down several copies of Shaymin-EX and draw their cards consistently without having to worry about running out of Bench space. Having eight slots on your Bench offers much more utility for multiple copies of Shaymin-EX as well as other Bench-sitting Pokemon being run specifically for their Abilities. However, it will become more difficult to play other Stadium cards if Sky Field becomes as important as I think it will be in the Standard format. This will mean that it could be difficult to take full advantage of other powerful Stadiums like Silent Lab, Dimension Valley, or Rough Seas in a lot of decks. For this reason, players may turn to Wobbuffet or the newly-released Hex Maniac in order to lock down the Abilities of their opponent’s Pokemon.
Other Forms of Draw Power
Since the re-introduction of Pokemon-EX in Next Destinies, we have been in a format with primarily Supporter-based draw power. Shaymin-EX has begun to change that, and other cards such as Trainers' Mail, Acro Bike, and Roller Skates can also be used to pull extra cards from the deck without needing to use a Supporter. While I believe all of these cards are good in their own way(s), I don’t believe they are always necessary, or that they will be necessary in the XY-On format. After all, VS Seeker is still able to recycle Professor Sycamore when needed, and you can even pull it from the deck with the help of Battle Compressor. Professor Sycamore does force you to discard your hand, however, which isn’t always the most desirable of things. For that reason, it will probably be a good idea to run at least one Supporter card that allows you to shuffle your hand into your deck and draw a new hand. We currently have two options for this effect: Shauna and Professor Birch's Observations. Shauna lets you shuffle back your hand in exchange for five new cards, while Professor Birch’s Observations allows you to flip a coin after shuffling back your hand, getting you seven cards on a heads flip versus four on a tails flip. This averages out at five and a half cards from Professor Birch’s Observations against five from Shauna. With that reasoning, I believe Professor Birch’s Observations is the way to go.
The third and final option for shuffle-draw Supporters in the Ancient Origins format belongs to Ace Trainer, a brand-new Supporter card that forces both players to shuffle their hands back into their decks, then you draw six cards while your opponent draws just three. So why wouldn’t we just play this card instead of Shauna or Professor Birch's Observations? Well, Ace Trainer requires you to be behind on Prizes in order to use it, thus limiting its potential. For that reason alone, I believe that this is not a replacement for N. In fact, it’s not even close. N has been a solid play at almost any time in the game (unless you are way ahead on Prizes), while Ace Trainer can only be played when you’re behind. Draw power is always at a premium, but especially during the first couple turns of the game, when you probably won’t be able to play Ace Trainer at all. Although I really liked this card at first, after further testing I feel that this card is better off left in the binder or at home, as Teammates seems to be the superior comeback Supporter when your Pokemon are KO’d.
Meet the Hex Maniac
In what might be able to pass as a relative of the Joker, we have received another brand-new Supporter card in the form of Hex Maniac. At first glance, she doesn’t seem all that powerful, but after a bit of playtesting, I believe Hex Maniac is the second best card in Ancient Origins (behind Forest of Giant Plants). Her effect is simple yet powerful: Until the end of your opponent’s next turn, she shuts down all Pokemon Abilities on the field, in both players’ hands, and in both players’ discard piles. By doing this, Hex Maniac offers players a unique way to overcome cards they might typically struggle with, whether it be Aegislash-EX, Trevenant, opposing Crobat lines, or perhaps the newly-released Vileplume card. She does have one last (or should I say first) trick up her sleeve, and that is to play her on the very first turn. If you play Hex Maniac on the first turn, especially if you get to go first, you can deny your opponent access to Shaymin-EX‘s Set Up Ability, which can put your opponent behind by a full turn to begin the game. With Shaymin-EX being such an important card in the XY-On meta, Hex Maniac’s ability to lock down Pokemon Abilities through your opponent’s turn becomes that much more powerful! Of course, she isn’t Lysandre or Professor Sycamore, but she is very versatile and seems like a great card to play a single copy of in most decks.
Taking Advantage of the New Format
With all of this reasoning being put into place, it leaves one theme wide open for play and very difficult to counter: the Crobat line we received in Phantom Forces. I say this for a few reasons. Wobbuffet cannot block the Abilities of other Psychic Pokemon and Silent Lab is only able to take away the Abilities of Basic Pokemon, while Golbat and Crobat are Stage 1 and Stage 2 Psychic Pokemon respectively. Sky Field will make it easier to fit more Crobat lines onto the Bench, while Shaymin-EX offers a low HP Pokemon-EX which can easily be picked off in a turn or two by a Crobat player. Today we will look at two decks that run the Crobat line, each one with a different main attacker. The first will feature Manectric-EX (named Batman for Crobat and Manectric-EX’s names) and the second will feature the newly-released Sceptile-EX and Ariados (named for Batman’s plant-based adversary, Poison Ivy).
Finally, it’s time to dive into the fictional Gotham City, where we can find two very real and very similar decks that are ready to play in the upcoming XY-On Standard format. I will provide lists for both decks, discuss their strengths and weaknesses in-depth, analyze their matchups, and list some additional options to include in each deck. With XY-On right around the corner, getting a step up on the competition with tournament-level deck lists is a great way to start off the season. To kick things off, let’s meet everyone’s favorite nighttime vigilante: Batman!
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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