What’s up ‘Beach goers? Last time we spoke I was soul searching, looking for a deck that would net me a couple of strong finishes in the final two weekends of City Championships. Up until then, I was only working with a pair of second place finishes. Even though Night March had been my tried and true deck of choice for the World Championships, I put the deck aside for the first month of Cities in an attempt to expand my ability as a player. But with only four Cities left to go, JW Kriewall, Kirsten Sprague, and I buckled down to create the best Night March list we could in order to conquer our final Cities of the season.
I’m happy to report that I was able to win two of my final four Cities with Night March / Milotic, upping my City Championship total to 180 Championship Points! I consider Night March to be the most aggressive and consistent deck in the Standard format. Previously, I thought Standard Night March was just an inferior knockoff of the Expanded version, but I have come to realize the power and versatility of Milotic in the deck, as well as the numerous tricks Night March can pull off with the help of Milotic that the Mew-EX version cannot. When playing Night March / Milotic, I felt like I was piloting a near optimal version of the deck across both formats, which is crazy coming from a Standard list.
PokeBeach writer Steve Guthrie just published an article on his experiences with Night March / Vespiquen during City Championships, but our opinions on the archetype vary drastically, so don’t worry! You’ll be getting a completely unique outlook on Night March here! In this article I will review the Night March / Milotic deck I piloted to two City wins before looking at Night March and Vespiquen in the context of BREAKpoint for State Championships. Thanks for checking it out!
Night March / Milotic
About two months ago my friend Diego from Chile told me that I would dominate City Championships if I played Night March with Milotic. Unfortunately, I didn’t believe him. I was a bit frustrated with Night March at the time and assumed that Milotic didn’t offer a reliable solution to the deck’s inherent sustainability issues. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After witnessing the rampant success of Night March at City Championships across the country, I had to concede that the deck was still formidable in the Standard format.
At first, I leaned towards Night March / Bronzong. The Battle Compressor engine has good synergy with Bronzong who accelerates Energy out of the discard to your Benched Pokemon. Bronzong also gives the deck an out to defeating Giratina-EX decks by allowing Marchers to occasionally attack with Metal Energy instead of Double Colorless Energy. My primary concern piloting Night March / Bronzong was competing with Yveltal / Zoroark / Gallade. Without a way to force the Prize trade in your favor, you are totally at the whim of your opponent, hoping they bench more Shaymin-EX than you or miss an attack somewhere along the way. Truth of the matter is, Yveltal / Zoroark / Gallade effortlessly mows through Night Marchers. Night March needs a way to take out Pokemon-EX to make the most out of our precious Double Colorless Energy.
I had seen the idea of playing Target Whistle in Night March tossed around some of my group chats on Facebook. The card seemed gimmicky at first, but the more I practiced with it, the more I realized its potency. Target Whistle is a shoe-in for decks that take advantage of the opponent’s Benched Shaymin-EX. The problem with non-Supporter tech cards in a deck like Night March is that they will often get discarded while setting up. It dawned on me that Milotic changes all of this. Milotic compliments the Battle Compressor engine because it allows you to bring back resources you may have burned through during the opening turns of the game! Some games you only need four DCE, but you might need three Startling Megaphone. Some games you may need to Target Whistle three times! Some games you need six DCE! Milotic makes Night March an extremely versatile deck that is capable of dragging Pokemon-EX out of the discard and knocking them out effortlessly. Let’s take a look at my two-time City-winning list!
At the beginning of City Championships, my thoughts about Night March were very rigid. I remember looking at a Night March list laid out on the table with PokeBeach writer JW Kriewall. In an attempt to mix up our list, he suggested knocking our Dimension Valley count down to three copies. Without even considering it, I scoffed at the idea. “Night March needs four Dimension Valley!” I exclaimed. In retrospect, I should have at least entertained the idea. I was adamant about keeping four copies of the Stadium because my past experiences with the deck proved that to be the ideal count. In practice though, three has been good for Standard. I’ve learned a lot about Pokemon in the last three months, and the evolution of this Night March list is an indication of my growth and increased flexibility as a player!
3x Dimension Valley
I can be stubborn. Anyone who builds decks and tests with me will confirm this. Sometimes it’s for the best; sometimes it keeps me from realizing some truth about the game. Cutting to three Dimension Valley in Night March was a great idea that took me a month too long to realize. In Standard, you don’t need Valley to make the most out of Mew-EX. You only need it to occasionally attack with Pumpkaboo when the matchup or in-game situation calls for it. Many decks in Standard are not maxing out their Stadium counts, while some are not playing Stadiums at all! Many decks, like M Manectric-EX and Primal Kyogre-EX, that do play high Stadium counts don’t require you to attack with Pumpkaboo. One of my initial thoughts was that you would want four Valley to ensure the first turn attack with Pumpkaboo should you start with it. A counter argument for that is we play two copies of Float Stone and an AZ! In the rare circumstance that you go second, start a Pumpkaboo, and can’t find a Dimension Valley, odds are you will at least be able to find a way to switch into Joltik to pull off an attack.
I’m flexible enough to cut to three Valley, but I wouldn’t go any lower than that. I have seen some lists drop to two or even zero Dimension Valley! Now that’s something I can’t get behind at the moment, even if you do play Bronzong. Three is just consistent enough to see it early and often without whiffing it when you absolutely need it.
2x Buddy-Buddy Rescue
My old Night March lists used to play one copy of Revive to recover Night Marchers late game. With the addition of Milotic to the deck, Buddy-Buddy Rescue has proven itself to be the superior card. Although Buddy-Buddy gives your opponent the benefit fishing their own Pokemon out of the discard, its synergy with Battle Compressor, Shaymin-EX, and Milotic makes it too strong not to play. With Battle Compressor, Buddy-Buddy is not only a card that recovers resources, it also promotes consistency. I have started a few games with unplayable hands, except for a Battle Compressor and a Buddy-Buddy Rescue. It allows you to Compressor away a Shaymin-EX, recover it to your hand, then play it to the Bench to Set Up! Sometimes if I have a Battle Compressor, Buddy-Buddy, and Professor Sycamore in hand on the first turn, I will Battle Compressor away two Lampent and a Feebas, recover the Feebas with Buddy-Buddy, then play the Sycamore.
Buddy also recovers your Milotic so they can be used to fish resources out of the discard when needed. Discarding a Milotic during the first turn of the game would be distressing if there weren’t a reliable way to pull that Milotic back out! During the finals of my last City Championship, I had Battle Compressor and Buddy-Buddy Rescue in my hand with a Feebas on the Bench. I wanted to target my opponent’s Benched Shaymin-EX in order to go down to two Prize cards, but my Lysandre was in the discard and I had no way to get a VS Seeker to retrieve it, nor did I have an Ultra Ball to get my Milotic. I used Compressor to discard a Milotic, grabbed it with Buddy-Buddy, evolved Feebas, used Sparkling Ripples to retrieve the Lysandre, played it, and Knocked Out the Shaymin-EX.
Buddy-Buddy is not without drawbacks though. I have run into issues where I need to Buddy-Buddy for a Milotic to Target Whistle an opponent’s Pokemon-EX, but if I play Buddy-Buddy, they will have an opportunity to take their Pokemon-EX back to their hand. Buddy-Buddy can also be a bad card to play against Crobat decks. If your opponent has a Crobat in the discard and a Golbat on the Bench when you play Buddy-Buddy, you are setting them up for an easy Surprise Bite the following turn!
That being said, Buddy-Buddy is powerful and flexible enough to overcome these drawbacks. Super Rod simply cannot replace the instant gratification that Buddy-Buddy provides and Revive does not allow us to recover our valuable Milotic.
1x Muscle Band or 1x Enhanced Hammer
Dropping to one Muscle Band was another concession I had to make, but ultimately the card proved not very important for Night March in Standard. Even when I played one Muscle Band at Grove City, I rarely used it. At Akron, I cut Muscle Band entirely for an Enhanced Hammer and never used that either, so call this a free space if you want. This card can be anything, but make sure to choose something that will improve your matchup versus a deck you don’t particularly want to play against.
I chose Enhanced Hammer for Akron in case I had to play against a Giratina-EX deck. If my opponent was able to Chaos Wheel, I could play Teammates for Enhanced Hammer / Milotic to pull off a double Enhanced Hammer play and continue Night Marching on the following turn. I never got to use Enhanced Hammer effectively during my City run, but I was glad to have it there just in case.
Muscle Band is a better option if you are expecting any M Manectric-EX, M Houndoom-EX, Primal Kyogre-EX, or Primal Groudon-EX decks, as it helps you hit that 220-240 HP mark they sit comfortably at. Without a copy of Muscle Band, Night March has no chance of OHKO’ing a Primal Pokemon-EX. That being said, hitting those perfect numbers isn’t really needed. Groudon and Kyogre are so slow that you can mow through their field quicker than they can take Prizes. Against Manectric and Houndoom, you can play the Pokémon Catcher / Target Whistle Shaymin-EX game and win without ever KO’ing one of their Megas. Two of the primary Pokemon-EX threats in Standard are M Mewtwo-EX and Yveltal-EX, both of who you hit for Weakness. Buddy-Buddy Rescue and Milotic allow you to be a little more heavy handed with your Battle Compressors anyways, enabling you to hit 180 damage early, then recover Night Marchers as you need them with Buddy or Sparkling Ripples for the end game.
Another card worth trying out in this spot is Hex Maniac. Hex is helpful against the obnoxious Abilities of Vileplume, Aegislash-EX, and Crobat. I don’t play Hex in my list because you can win versus Vileplume and Crobat without it and Aegislash sees fringe play at best. Crobat decks are difficult to operate in Standard; they almost always need to bench Shaymin to get going consistently. Night March can take out three Pokemon-EX in three turns and win before Bats get a chance to do their worst! Versus Vileplume it’s best to hope you go first or that they don’t set up turn one. Vespiquen / Vileplume does not have enough stability to last long in a Standard match. It hinges too much on going first to be a strong play, so I won’t craft my deck around beating it. If they go first, you’re probably going to get a Red Card and Item lock thrown at you before you get to do anything, at which point the only way your Hex will help is if you’re lucky enough to draw into it. If you go first, you can simply set up, prepare your board for Item lock, then mow through Vespiquen quicker than your opponent can produce them.
4x Professor Sycamore / No Acro Bike
I believe that many decks are playing too few draw support cards in Standard. I’ve seen some lists go as low as two Professor Sycamore without even playing Acro Bike! VS Seeker is such a valuable resource for closing out games that we need more actual copies of draw Supporters in order to preserve them. Think of it this way: if we need to use Battle Compressor / VS Seeker on the first two turns of the game without playing a Supporter naturally from the hand, then we only have two VS Seekers left in deck to close the game out. If we are using Battle Compressor to ditch the few Supporters that we play, we will not have enough options left in the deck to adequately finish the game.
Acro Bike‘s inclusion in Night March is something I am growing increasingly stubborn about. My testing results have shown Acro Bike to be a bad card in Night March. It goes hand in hand with the previously mentioned issue of burning through our VS Seekers and other resources too quickly. Most players find room for Acro Bike by cutting Supporter counts, but my question is, for what? For speed? Night March is already the fastest and most consistent deck in Standard without Acro Bike. Sure, you might occasionally whiff the turn one Double Colorless Energy, but digging two cards deeper into your deck does not significantly increase your odds of hitting that turn one DCE. And guess what else? Hitting the turn one Double Colorless only matters on the first turn of the game if you are going second, so half of the time it won’t even matter!
Night March / Milotic is all about managing resources. To play an ideal game, you have to save certain resources for the perfect time. Resources are tight as it is, that’s why we have Milotic to get things back. You don’t need to recklessly charge through your deck on the first turn of the game. You have to know when to wait and when to pounce. I’d be so mad if I ever had to Acro Bike away a Double Colorless, a Pokémon Catcher, my Town Map, Target Whistle, a VS Seeker, or my last Dimension Valley! Acro Bike unnecessarily introduces recklessness and randomness to your draw engine. Imagine, instead of making educated decisions about what to Ultra Ball away from your hand, you are forced to pick between two blind things, right then, no taking it back. Ever play an Acro Bike, look at the two cards, then wish you could just take the Acro Bike back immediately and play it later? How about we save ourselves the trouble and don’t play Acro Bike at all.
By now Judge is a staple in nearly every Standard deck, so why mention it? Judge is more than a late game disruption card in Night March. It’s also one of the deck’s primary offensive tactics. If you have the opportunity to go first with Night March, it’s sometimes the correct play to go for a turn one Judge with Battle Compressor / VS Seeker. Think about it. By limiting your opponent’s resources off the bat, you increase the odds that your opponent will need to play a Shaymin-EX to pull themselves out of their diminished hand. If your primary objective is to get your opponent to play Shaymin-EX to the Bench so you can knock it out repeatedly with Pokémon Catcher, Lysandre and Target Whistle, then playing Judge on the first turn going first helps you accomplish this.
It should be noted, however, that there are times when an early Judge is not ideal. You can suffer the consequences of a turn one Judge just like your opponent can! I like to play Judge early only if I am able to thin a fair number of resources from my deck before doing so. I also like to have a backup attacker lined up on the Bench should my Active get KO’d. Whether or not to go for the turn one Judge is something I base off of feel. It’s like a gut instinct, and sometimes it’s a game-time decision! For instance, if I only get to play one Battle Compressor before doing so, do I still go for the turn one Judge? It depends. Versus naturally inconsistent decks like Manectric-EX / Crobat or Raichu / Crobat, I like to take those chances. They are sketchy matchups as it is, so it’s best to limit the opponent as much as possible so you can stay ahead during the crucial early turns of the game.
I have won so many matchups thanks to a turn one Judge that it makes me consider Judge in Expanded as well. The more I play it, the more Judge grows on me. I’m definitely glad to have this card around.
1x Target Whistle / 2x Pokemon Catcher
Target Whistle and Pokémon Catcher allow Night March to steal games it has no business winning. Pokemon Catcher gives the deck opportunities to easily grab Shaymin-EX KOs on the first turn of the game, while Target Whistle makes sure your opponent’s Pokemon-EX continue to hit the Bench. Even when your opponent becomes privy to the fact that you run Target Whistle, it is almost impossible for Standard decks to operate without using Shaymin-EX to set up. Even if your opponent can avoid Set Up, odds are they will have to discard a Pokemon-EX with Professor Sycamore somewhere along the way.
I have won games by using Teammates to grab Pokemon Catcher and DCE in Hail Mary plays. I have also won games by forcing my opponent to Bench Pokemon-EX that they would never Bench intentionally. These three cards have changed the landscape of Night March entirely for me.
One niche use for Pokemon Catcher is resetting the protection of Jirachi‘s Special Energy removing Stardust attack. Usually we would have to wait a turn to Night March after being Stardusted, but with Pokemon Catcher, we have the option to Pokemon Catcher another target, then play Lysandre to bring the Jirachi back out to the Active position for a KO on the Wish Maker.
The most significant part about Pokemon Catcher is that it allows you to target the opponent’s Bench at all points of the game, even when you can’t afford to use Lysandre as your Supporter for the turn. Target Whistle allows you the option to continually target Pokemon-EX with your Pokemon Catchers and Lysandres, making the inclusion of Pokemon Catcher worthwhile. I’ve seen lists run as many as four copies of Pokemon Catcher! I can’t really get behind that though. Two Catcher in combination with one Lysandre provides ample aggression while affording space for consistency cards and valuable one-ofs like Town Map and Startling Megaphone.
This deck is one of the best I have ever piloted. All of these cards work beautifully together thanks to Milotic. It is the foundation that holds the whole deck together in the Standard format. It can be used to summon multiple Pokemon-EX with Target Whistle, or re-flip failed game-winning Pokémon Catcher attempts, and an endless amount of other options to assist you throughout a game. Milotic makes all these seemingly gimmicky cards not so gimmicky anymore. It allows you to decide exactly when and how you want to play your tech cards. Milotic’s role in this deck reminds me of the Roserade that used to see play in Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX decks. Roserade allowed Virizion / Genesect to be as aggressive as possible, grabbing G Booster or Plasma Energy on the fly to take key Knock Outs. In similar fashion, Milotic allows access to what you want, when you want it.
I didn’t have a lot of respect for the draw options in Standard at its onset, but this deck cracks the code. I’ve heard it said that Standard is healthy and diverse, not because all of the decks are balanced in strength, but because all of them are equally bad. This deck completely defies that statement. Night March / Milotic boasts more options than most Expanded decks and goes largely unchecked in Standard. When you combine Milotic’s insane board control with the fastest, hardest-hitting, and most consistent archetype in the game, you simply have the best deck in the the Standard format.
Unfortunately for Night March, that is all about to change. BREAKpoint introduces a host of new challenges for the archetype, but Night March may still have the gusto to face them head on. Let’s break into BREAKpoint and see for ourselves!
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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