Pep Talk — Analyzing Night March’s Dominance and Preparing for States!

What up ‘Beach goers? It hasn’t been long but I’m back again for one more article to get us pumped up for the State Championship competitions.

Michigan 2
Hanging out before Michigan States

I have just returned from the Michigan State Championships where I was able to finish 5th place after a commanding 6-1 first-place run through Swiss rounds. I’m proud to say that I played the same Vespiquen / Night March deck I crafted and published over a month ago here with only two card alterations. I’m also happy to see that countless other people were able to top cut with Vespiquen / Night March across the country! In a couple of weeks I will also be attending the Ohio State Championships where I will be looking to one-up my second-place finish from last year.

For many of us, there is a lot on the line in the weeks to come. For some, States results will make or break the chance for a World Championship invitation. For others, it will make the difference between a fat U.S. National Championship travel stipend and nothing at all. And for a few, like myself, States will decide whether or not we have a chance to compete for a Top-16 ranking in the United States. Sitting at just over 350 Championship Points, if I don’t strike big at States, I will have to hit a home run at the U.S. National Championships in order to compete for a coveted automatic day-two spot.

Regardless of your situation, now is the time to gear up for the Standard format. These are the final large-scale Standard tournaments before National Championships kick off this summer. Here we set the tone for the rest of our season. Most of you have already laid the groundwork for success at City and Regional Championships. With 100 Championship Points on the line every weekend for four weekends, States have the power to make the difference between a decent season and a great one.

Curse of the first honestly

This is life people!

You got air comin’ through your nose.

Your heart’s beatin’.

That means it’s time to do something!

It’s like that dude Journey said, “Don’t stop believing.”

In this article I will be showcasing lists for my top State Championship selections while providing valuable insight into specific matchups. I’m very excited about this article as I was able to score an interview with Travis Nunlist, an accomplished deck builder from Indiana. Travis will be sharing his expertise with Trevenant BREAK in the Standard format, and provide us with his current Trevenant BREAK list. I love the opportunity to feature players that I admire in these articles so that you can experience a wide breadth of perspective and experience in one place.

My goal with this article is to leave you feeling confident and prepared for anything and everything you may face during State Championships with a few top-tier lists in hand. We have a lot to discuss, so without further delay, let’s get to it!

Night March Madness

If there’s one thing we learned from week one of State Championships, it’s that Night March is the resounding best deck in format. Some played Puzzle of Time, others Milotic, and even Vespiquen. No matter if you love them or hate them, Joltik, Pumpkaboo and Lampent are the defining factor at State Championships this year. If you don’t plan on enlisting the Powerhouse Commons yourself, I at least suggest you have an answer to them.

Night March solidified itself as one of the two indisputable best decks in format during City Championships. With the introduction of BREAKpoint, some, like myself, questioned whether or not Night March would be able to retain its crown with a host of new threats on the horizon. Well, testing has spoken, States results are in, and Night March is more powerful than ever. The deck boasted an astounding 50% win rate during our first weekend of State Championships according to our very own PokeBeach Subscriber and PokeBeach tournament extraordinaire, Andrew Wamboldt. According to Wamboldt, the deck competed in 12 out of 14 State Championship finals last weekend and accounted for over 1/3 of the total Top-8 meta share all together.

When Lysandre's Trump Card was banned last year, Night March entered a unique realm of brokenness that it was never intended to occupy. There are enough powerful combinations in Expanded to keep this beast under wraps, but Standard is a different story — many of Night March’s primary counters have been nerfed or eliminated all together! Articuno doesn’t have Blastoise to accelerate Water Energy to it, Seismitoad-EX / Crobat doesn’t have Hypnotoxic Laser to boost damage, and Sableye is rotated! As insult to injury, most decks have relatively horrible Supporter draw options available to them in Standard while Night March boasts one of the most consistent and busted draw engines in Pokemon history! On top of that, Night March continues to receive new buffs with the release of each successive set: Float Stone in BREAKthrough, Puzzle of Time in BREAKpoint and the recently revealed Mew from Japan’s XY10. Night March is here to stay. It is, in my opinion, the format-defining deck, which is why we are discussing it first. Everything you consider playing in the upcoming weeks should be weighed against Night March before you commit to it.


Pokemon (15)

4x Pumpkaboo (PHF #44)4x Joltik (PHF #26)4x Lampent (PHF #42)3x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (41)

4x Professor Sycamore (PHF #101)1x Judge (BKT #143)1x Lysandre (FLF #90)1x Teammates (PRC #160)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Trainers' Mail (AOR #100)4x Puzzle of Time (BKP #109)4x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)2x Pokémon Catcher (PLB #83)1x Town Map (BKT #150)1x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)1x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Escape Rope (PLS #120)1x Buddy-Buddy Rescue (BKT #135)1x Target Whistle (PHF #106)1x Startling Megaphone (FLF #97)1x Enhanced Hammer (DEX #94)3x Dimension Valley (PHF #93)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless Energy (HS #103)

This is your new bread and butter Night March deck. As you can see, I have completely jumped ships from Milotic to Puzzle of Time. I wrote an article over a month ago about the potential of Puzzle in this archetype, and further testing has confirmed the card’s prowess.

Since this article is metagame intensive, I won’t be going into detail to explain various card choices like I typically do. By now you all know that four Professor Sycamore is the only play and Acro Bike is bad. Instead, I will discuss the list in the context of its various matchups.

Vs. Mega Manectric / Jolteon

I have always considered M Manectric-EX to be a layup of a matchup for Night March. Many times when I play against this deck my opponent is completely denied the opportunity to Turbo Bolt. Night March has traditionally been too fast and too powerful for Manectric to keep up.

But now, Manectric has a few new tricks up its sleeve. The new Ho-Oh-EX gives Manectric a beefy Pokemon-EX option that can snipe Joltik with its Elemental Feather attack while Jolteon-EX gives the deck an opportunity to deny Night March attacks from Basic Pokemon all together! Fortunately, these threats are nothing that Night March can’t deal with.

If Ho-Oh hits the field, make sure to do the bulk of your attacking with Pumpkaboo. Every time you attack with Joltik, you leave yourself vulnerable to a three-Prize power play if your opponent Lysandres a Shaymin-EX and cleans up the Joltik with an Elemental Feather. Attacking with Pumpkaboo should mitigate this threat, granting you time to take out your opponent’s Ho-Oh before they can snipe for additional Prizes.

Jolteon-EX, on the other hand, is a little more tricky. People are so scared of Jolteon that they have resorted to teching a 1 / 1 Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick / Gallade into their Night March lists to deal with it. I already consider Jolteon to be a marginal threat at best and I don’t think the concept is powerful enough to be its own deck. There is no way I am about to waste two valuable spots worrying about one marginal card. We already have a couple outs that exists naturally within our list: Pokémon Catcher and Escape Rope. Catcher’s a bit of a gamble, but should you be unfortunate enough to get smacked with a Flash Ray, you can KO the thing by using Catcher and Lysandre in the same turn; bench it, reset the attack’s effect and bring it back up for the KO. Half the time, it works every time! If you whiff the Catcher flip, we do have Puzzles that will allow you to try again. If this strategy doesn’t work, we can achieve the same effect by using a guaranteed Escape Rope and Lysandre in the same turn to take out the Jolteon.

If these methods seem too precarious for you, remember this: your opponent usually won’t be able to Flash Ray until turn three after they have Turbo Bolted to Jolteon. You will see this thing coming from a mile away. If you are playing against Mega Manectric and none of the above strategies work to stop Jolteon, your opponent lucked out. Scoop and go to game two.

Vs. Trevenant

Go first.

But really, if you go second you more than likely don’t stand a chance, assuming they get the turn-one Trevenant. Four Professor Sycamore goes a long way towards stringing your hands together in this matchup. Even if you do manage to go first and get a decent setup, it’ll be tough to stream attackers once your opponent gets up and going. With Bursting Balloon and instant Item lock, this is just a tough matchup. Your best shot is to hope to go first and try to mow down Trevenant before they have the chance to become Trevenant BREAK. You can always use Shaymin-EX and stream Sky Returns, but that will only buy time for so long.

Vs. Greninja

Greninja is a close matchup. In his last article, Treynor Wolfe wrote an excellent analysis of Greninja. In the piece he marked the Night March / Greninja matchup as 60-40 Greninja’s favor. As you can see from my writing, I don’t like to put percentages on matchups. It can be nice for generalizations, but in my opinion, matchups vary immensely based on the in-game skill of each player.

This matchup in particular can go either way. As Treynor said, you should go up on your opponent by two Prizes before they are able to attain a full setup. After that, you should attempt to use Hex Maniac every turn until you win. There are a couple things about this list that will help you in your stride to victory.

First of all, our single copy of Enhanced Hammer will allow you to remove a Splash Energy so that your opponent cannot instantly recover a Greninja BREAK when it is KO’d. Second, our lone Fighting Fury Belt will grant a single Marcher or Shaymin-EX more sustainability in a tough spot.

It’s true that your opponent can totally wipe you off the table if they are able to get a single turn or two of Abilities, but the deck’s slow speed and weak consistency engine make it a manageable matchup.

Vs. Dark

This is a matchup that many competitive players argue about. Dark players will swear up and down that it is in their favor and Night March players promise that it leans to their side. The results are admittedly close and a lot depends on the build of either list, but my experiences show that with Puzzle of Time and Fighting Fury Belt, Night March is favored over Dark decks. It boils down to this: both Dark and Night March tend to use at least one Shaymin-EX to Set Up efficiently. Night March is better at exploiting that Shaymin than Dark is. Night March is capable of reusing Target Whistle and Pokémon Catcher to gun down any Pokemon-EX. Any Pokemon-EX in play, even in the discard, is a huge liability for a Dark player. With Puzzle of Time, Night March can easily stream six Double Colorless Energy. If both decks played an ideal game, sure, it might come down to who went second and got the first KO, but I have never seen a Night March versus Yveltal game grind down to that. Someone is bound to fumble along the way, and more often than not, Yveltal is the first to drop the ball. With Teammates, Puzzle of Time and Town Map, Night March is simply the more consistent deck.

As a Night March player, you do have to watch out if your opponent plays Fright Night Yveltal. With multiple Fright Night, Dark players can exploit any Shaymin you Bench while plowing through Night Marchers in the Active. This strategy can steal games for the Yveltal player.

Another thing worth mentioning is that using your Fury Belt wisely can put you ahead. If you attack with a Joltik wearing Fury Belt when your opponent is poised to attack with Yveltal from XY on the following turn, it could be an opportunity for you to pull ahead if they fail to attain the KO.

Vs. Toad / Stuff

Toad can be a tough matchup for any Night March deck. It used to be that you could out-speed a Toad deck by throwing nine Night Marchers away and one-shoting everything. But with Fighting Fury Belt, this isn’t always how things go. It used to be that you could Pokemon Catcher up a Giratina-EX on the first turn of the game and KO it before it could Chaos Wheel. But now that these big Basics are 40 HP bigger, we need to rethink our route.

We play one Enhanced Hammer to give ourselves an out against Chaos Wheel. With Puzzle of Time, it is possible to use the same Enhanced Hammer twice in one turn to fully disable a loaded Giratina-EX. Against Seismitoad-EX, we may need to resort to 2HKOs or softening with Sky Return before swinging in with Night March. This is obviously not ideal. Seismitoad / Fury Belt is a huge pain to deal with as a Night Marcher. The matchup can still navigated though — Fury Belt just makes things a lot more difficult.

Vs. The Mirror

Since I am anticipating that the mirror will be popular, this list is crafted with the mirror in mind. As always, make sure to attack with Pumpkaboo so your Joltik don’t get Sky Returned. If you start Joltik going first, put a Float Stone on that thing and retreat it into a Pumpkaboo. Make your opponent Lysandre that Joltik if they want to Sky Return it! If your opponent starts Joltik going first, Sky Return theirs to save your Energy.

If your opponent benches a Shaymin-EX, go in for the Pokémon Catcher play. Play the whole game with the intention of eventually pulling off a Target Whistle on an opponent’s Shaymin-EX. I can’t stress how imperative it is that you play cautiously with your own Shaymin-EX. I have seen opponents in the mirror lay down Shaymin like they got nothing to lose! Don’t be careless, especially on the first turn of the game. Only dig with Shaymin when there is something that you need to hit in order to stay in the game. Playing four Professor Sycamore makes your list naturally more consistent and less reliant on Shaymin, so you are entering the game with a big advantage there.

If your opponent plays a Parallel City down to limit their Bench and bump Shaymin, you got yourself an opportunity to Sky Return the Joltik they were forced to attack with and clear a Shaymin off of your own. Every once in a while your opponent will attack with a Joltik wearing a Fighting Fury Belt that you won’t be able to remove, but that shouldn’t matter. You’re not trying to trade evenly with your opponent using this list; you are trying to make dirty plays with Target Whistle to force the Prize trade in your favor.

Above all, don’t be afraid to go all in on a Teammates / Target Whistle / Catcher play. This play wins games. Even if you whiff the Catcher, you should be able to keep your momentum going with the help of Town Map to get what you need off the Prize.

The Beez Neez

Though not as popular as Night March, Vespiquen has just as much, if not more, potential to succeed at the upcoming State Championships. Many people have discounted Vespiquen as a serious threat without Flareon at its side, but Vespiquen has proven itself to be as viable as ever in the Standard format. Vileplume / Vespiquen earned a handful of first place finishes during last week’s State Championships while myself and my good friend Chris Derocher were able to Top-8 and Top-4, respectively, with similar Night March / Vespiquen lists in Michigan.

These two may seem similar in essence, but Night March / Vespiquen and straight Night March play out differently in the metagame. Below I will share the list I played at Michigan before highlighting some of the key matchup differences between a straight Night March deck and a Night March / Vespiquen list.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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