Hello again PokeBeach! It has been a while since my last article, but I am back again. I am finally done with the important stuff of my Senior year in high school so it is time to get back to Pokemon!
Despite my busy life in high school, I have still been attending a few Regional and City Championships this season as part of my year-long quest to earn an invitation to the World Championships. So far at Cities, I have made it to the finals at an Expanded event and Top 8 at a Standard event. Unfortunately, I have not been able to attend as many Cities as I would like, but I still have enough to max out my finishes if I do well at these last few City Championships. I have been doing a lot of testing to figure out the metagames for both formats and I feel I have a strong understand of Standard and Expanded, despite my lack of attendance in many Cites so far. After collecting some experience in both formats, I have been primarily focusing on playing and perfecting one deck in each format: Vespiquen / Night March in Standard, and Yveltal-EX / Raichu in Expanded.
While many articles only focus on one of the formats, this article will look at both Standard and Expanded. I will go over my tournament results with both of my well-tested decks, as well reveal my lists I used in each and how I plan to play at the next few City Championships. Instead of bringing up specific card choices, I would rather explain tips about the deck and talk about each deck’s matchups, bringing up cards from the list to show their uses. Depending on your metagame, you may want to change a few cards which will be explained in the tips about the deck. This article should give you good starting lists with solid tournament results and guide you on how to use the deck when playtesting, allowing you to sit down at your next City Championships with confidence in your deck choice.
From personal playtesting and looking at tournament results, it seems clear that the best decks are Vespiquen / Night March / Bronzong and Night March / Milotic. Vespiquen / Night March / Bronzong has had more success for me personally, but, depending on the meta in a given area and the player’s playstyle, either deck could be the better choice.
This is my most recent list from testing, and it seems my edits since the first Cities I played in have been improving the deck. The main changes I made were taking out a Jirachi, cutting Unown and Trainers' Mail to smaller numbers, and cutting Judge. All of these were taken out in favor of adding a fourth Professor Sycamore, Parallel City, Dimension Valley, and a fourth Shaymin-EX.
Jirachi was not doing as much as I would have hoped for a card hyped up to auto-win the Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX matchup. In reality, basic Energy and Metal Links from Bronzong can win that matchup easily. Next, Unown turned out not to be quite as helpful as I would have hoped, mainly due to already drawing really quickly through the deck. Usually by the time Unowns are discarded, the deck is already super thinned out, and there are enough Pokemon in the discard for Vespiquen to get Knock Outs with Bee Revenge. With Trainers’ Mail, I find myself drawing so many cards through other methods that I do not need to search too much with Trainers’ Mail, or I have to use it so early on that I reveal four Pokemon off the top of the deck. Not always useful, so two Trainers’ Mail is definitely the play with this list. As for Judge, using it on the first or second turn often draws you into completely dead hands, and later on it doesn’t disrupt your opponent enough. Hex Maniac and Lysandre are much better disruptive options throughout the game.
Originally, it seemed that three Professor Sycamore was enough as you do not want to deck yourself out, which is possible after discarding enough cards with Professor Sycamore and Battle Compressor. However, after piloting the deck for a few games, I preferred having the higher odds of drawing a Professor Sycamore on the first turn. With careful planning, it wasn’t difficult to avoid playing cards that would lead to an eventual deck-out. This was one of the first edits I made to the original list. Parallel City and Dimension Valley have been amazing additions to the deck. Parallel City can be used either on opponents playing Raichu or M Rayquaza-EX to weaken their damage output, or on yourself to discard Shaymin-EX and prevent your opponent from taking free Prizes. Although, after playing it on yourself, you may want to remove it later on, especially if need room for a very late-game Shaymin-EX to dig for something in the last few cards of your deck. It isn’t always easy to keep to a Bench of three when it needs to consist of a Pokemon or two with Night March, either a Vespiquen or Combee that can become Vespiquen, and a Bronzong. Dimension Valley allows Pumpkaboo to attack more often when need be, and even having more Stadiums is not a bad thing when you may need to counter an opponent’s Silent Lab, Scorched Earth, Sky Field, or their own Parallel City and Dimension Valley.
Now, if you want to see some Night March lists, a few of my fellow PokeBeach writers, such as Steve Guthrie and Andrew Mahone, have already written extensive articles about the archetype with lists and tournament results to back them up. I currently do not have my own list, so I will let the people that made their lists share what they wish. For the most part it has the same idea as the Vespiquen version, except Milotic is included in most lists to use Double Colorless Energy more than just four times as well as get back other tools like Startling Megaphone or Lysandre when those are needed instead. Also, the deck focuses on just the Night March part so it uses different recovery cards like Buddy-Buddy Rescue. Hopefully those of you interested in the deck can form your own deck lists for it, or get help from us in the Subscriber’s Secret Hideout!
How to Play
Vespiquen / Night March is usually seen as a very easy and brainless deck, but there is some strategy people often overlook and do not even consider.
This list does have a little bit of a different strategy the way I play it. I love playing quick and aggressive. Drawing most of my deck while managing resources is really fun, and gives me control of the game simply because of how quick the deck sets up. The ideal turn one is going second and starting with a Joltik or having the ability to get it into the Active position. It can happen quite easily with how quickly you draw through the deck. Going second allows you to get the first Knock Out which gives you a significant advantage in the Prize trade. Next, during your first turn, draw and discard as many cards as you can. Do not be afraid to use your Shaymin-EX early on as Parallel City and AZ give you options to remove them from your Bench later on. If your opponent is afraid to bench their Shaymin-EX to Set Up, they will end up getting too far behind. Have faith that the list will get what it needs to prevent those Knock Outs and just keep drawing. Also, remember that Battle Compressor doesn’t need to only discard Pokemon. Many times I find myself discarding Ultra Ball, Professor Sycamore, other Battle Compressors, Metal Energy, Lysandre, and Hex Maniac. It isn’t that these cards are bad, but, after turn two, most of these cards are not necessary to have in the deck anymore. Your deck is usually down to under 10 cards by this point, so you want to ensure you are drawing into Double Colorless Energy, Vespiquen lines, and VS Seeker late game. VS Seeker is the other reason to ditch your Lysandre and Hex Maniac. You can always get them back later.
These tactics are imperative if you want to use this deck to its full potential. It sometimes happens where players do not thin their deck out much and will not discard cards that do not help them in the present game. Many cards become worthless in the deck as the game progresses. These useless cards are just getting in the way of the cards you actually need to draw late game. In Standard, Judge, and, in Expanded, N, can severely hurt you late game if you have a deck full of cards that no longer help. Some of my games have been decided by being able to top deck something late game when I needed it. Some people would just say I got extremely lucky, when, instead, the chances of the top deck were likely, due to playing the entire game that way to thin the deck. You should always know the path to winning before the last turn of the game. This is a card game, so luck always plays a factor. The good players know how to maximize their chances of “getting lucky.”
Depending on your area there will be different decks that show up, so, instead of trying to make a tier list for Standard, it is best to look at the group of decks that are doing the best. Let’s look at how our deck stands up to some others and how to play against them.
Mirror or Just Night March
These matches are always close and usually decided by who gets the first Knock Out. So, once again, remember to go second when you have the choice, and hope you get the first Knock Out. Remember that using Shaymin-EX to Knock Out Joltik preserves Energy cards, takes Shaymin-EX off the field, and allows you to put some Pokemon in the Active spot that you are okay with getting Knocked Out. Next, think about when the best chance is to use Hex Maniac. It can come in clutch early against a Shaymin-EX trying to use Set Up, a late-game Milotic trying to get back resources, or a Bronzong trying to set up an attacker. There are many chances to completely outplay or get outplayed in the matchup, but, either way, be prepared to lose a few years off your life from stress. These games are not easy.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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