Let’s Take a Look at Standard! Hawlucha / Bats and Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX!

What’s going on PokeBeach? It’s been a while since my last article and a lot of things have happened since then. It was interesting to see the meta develop over the course of Regionals and hopefully everyone has a much better understanding of how Expanded tournaments will work in the future.

Now that Regionals are all over (at least for you guys in the U.S.) the next big question is what’s the play for Standard? I have to say that I don’t like Standard as much as Expanded. Expanded is a lot more diverse and there are a lot more viable decks and cards than there are in Standard and for that reason I’m a little jealous that America got a taste of Expanded and I (being based in the U.K.) didn’t.

Nevertheless Standard is still a very intriguing and skillful format, and the new meta looks like one of the most enjoyable starts to a season we have had in a long time. So to give you all a better idea of what the format looks like, let me give you guys a quick overview of the decks that most people seem to be trying out. After I do that I will be going over the top two decks that I believe are the strongest decks in the format.

The Meta

As I said, the Standard format offers a variety of decks that we haven’t seen yet. Bear in mind this is what I think the meta will be like in the XY – AOR format and not the XY – BREAKthrough format that won’t be around for another month.

M Manectric-EX / Regice

Manectric-EX has been a solid card ever since it came out and there’s no doubt it’s one of the best Pokemon-EX cards in the current format and M Manectric-EX might even be the best Mega Pokemon so far. A new concept that has been talked about is pairing the aggressive and accelerating power of Manectric with the defensive lock of Regice. The idea of the deck is to use M Manectric-EX’s Turbo Bolt attack to power up Regice on the Bench while also putting huge amounts of pressure on the opponent.

This duo tears through Pokemon-EX heavy decks such as M Rayquaza-EX and Seismitoad-EX variants simply due to the fact that they play very few non-EX attackers. If a deck can’t respond to Regice efficiently enough then they don’t really stand a chance and will just be snowballed by it.

Obviously non-EX decks prove to be a really big issue for Regice because they aren’t really affected by Resistance Blizzard in the way that Pokemon-EX decks are. I also have had experience playing against Regice with Pokemon-EX decks (namely Seismitoad) and I found that if I thought out my game-plan well enough I would just be able to play around the attack by using Lysandre to target Pokemon on the Bench. In one game I had my opponent just decide to try and leave Regice out as his only Pokemon on the field but I was able to remove enough Energy from the Regice that it wasn’t able to attack. All in all, I think the deck is just a little too easy to play around and is probably a tier 2 deck at most.

M Rayquaza-EX / Bronzong

This is a deck that I really like and has been talked about a lot before. In general the deck is very fast and when it gets set up it’s able to OHKO almost any Pokemon in the format. Bronzong increase the amount of damage that Rayquaza is able to do as well as quickly power up fresh Rayquaza on the Bench with Metal Links.

As well as having overwhelmingly offensive capabilities there are also cards that can be included to  increase the deck’s defensive power. Aegislash-EX is often included in the deck because you can use it as a wall against decks that rely on Special Energy. This card fits well into the deck because it can be powered up on the same stuff as Rayquaza (Double Colorless Energy and Metal Energy) and it is an effective way to stall when you aren’t quite set up.

Even though this deck is very fast and can easily OHKO Pokemon-EX it still has a lot of weaknesses. For starters it doesn’t do very well against Vespiquen or Night March decks because it doesn’t trade efficiently; you are usually forced to give up two Prizes for every one Prize you take. You can actually use Aegislash in this matchup to wall because all of Night March’s attackers require a Double Colorless Energy to attack without any previous attachments, and usually that is your path to victory.

Other than that Rayquaza suffers against M Manectric-EX decks due to its Lightning Weakness and Giratina-EX decks because of Giratina’s Ability.

Night March / Vespiquen

When Mew-EX was lost to the rotation it looked like Night March was done for, however when combined with Vespiquen the deck gets that little extra push that it needed. In the early game you can use Night March Pokemon to do a lot of damage by using Battle Compressor and Ultra Ball to discard as many Night March Pokemon as possible. Later on once you have used all of your Night Marchers and have quite a lot of Pokemon in the discard you can start using Vespiquen to hit for huge amounts of damage and finish off the game.

Furthermore you can hit for a lot of different Weaknesses on some of the most popular Pokemon; Pumpkaboo hits for Weakness on Lucario-EX, Joltik hits for Weakness on M Rayquaza-EX, and Vespiquen hit for Weakness on Seismitoad-EX. All of these factors make the deck something that you should seriously consider due to how powerful it can be. Obviously one of the biggest bonuses of running a deck like this is that all of your attacking Pokemon are non-EX’s which means that in an ideal game you are trading in your favor against Pokemon-EX.

Once again this deck does have some big issues that hinder its performance. Because it has to run so many Pokemon it can sometimes have trouble with consistency. Rather than running cards that will help you set up like most other decks, Night March / Vespiquen has to make cuts to find room for all of the Pokemon that you need to fit in.

Vileplume / Regice

Another new deck that has been brought out with Ancient Origins is Regice / Vileplume. This deck uses Vileplume’s Ability as a way to limit the opponent’s options whilst also utilizing Resistance Blizzard to make Regice immune to damage from Pokemon-EX. Unlike other Regice decks, this one can’t easily be torn apart by Lysandre because Vileplume stops the opponent from being able to use VS Seeker to constantly recycle Lysandres.

Being able to Item-lock and prevent damage from Pokemon-EX is an incredibly strong combination and can be a nightmare for decks that don’t run any non-EX attackers. What’s the catch then? Well the deck is incredibly inconsistent. It is very difficult to get set up and then also be able to start attacking. There is no Energy acceleration in the deck and Regice’s attack costs three Energy which means that you have to wait two or three turns before you can even attack, and that’s without considering the fact that your opponent could just KO it before you can get all of your Energy attached.

When this deck is set up it can win incredibly easily but it does struggle with consistency and not really able to combat non-EX decks.

So now that you have an idea of what the meta looks like I’m going to talk about what I personally think are the two best decks in the Standard format. Without any further comments then, here are the two decks that I would consider taking to tournaments right now.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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