Angry Birds and Stealthy Ninjas – An Overview of the Top Decks for State Championships
Hey all who happen to be reading this. My name is Blaine Hill, though my friends do like to call me a scrub; I’m a first-time article writer here for PokeBeach. Before I begin, I’m sure you’d love to know some stuff about me. I have played Pokemon for as long as I can remember, but because I’m 15, I guess that isn’t very long. As I was growing up in the household with Curran, Jordan, and Elissa Hill, I usually fell in their shadows. (Curran won Worlds back in 2005, and both Elissa and Jordan topped many major events throughout their career.) Although I can’t say I’ve won all of the types of tournaments in a single year like Curran, or deckbuild like Jordan, their habits have indeed rubbed off on me. Nowadays, me and my great friend and fellow PokeBeach user Grant Manley play and test together. I do enjoy sports, playing basketball and soccer, and I also enjoy playing piano. Currently, I do indeed have my World Championships Invite, standing at 320 Championship points. 200 of those from City Championships, 50 from Regional Championships, and the rest from either League Challenges or World Championship points.
Now, for all of the people who skipped the last paragraph, I don’t blame you, but let’s talk Pokemon! Now, in my area of North Carolina, unlike many other areas, we have an entire four straight weekends of State Championships! And if you know anything about States, you know they can be very stressful when you don’t know what to play. In this article, I’ll be reviewing the top two decks that I would play myself at a tournament, namely: Yveltal and yes, Greninja. But before we begin, we should probably have a look at what’s new in Standard.
New BREAKpoint Cards
Now, in my opinion, the appearance of Garbodor into the Standard format makes it one of the best cards of this set, if not the best. Now, in the Standard format, you can do away with Crobat or Golbat or even late game Shaymin-EX Set Ups. Unfortunately, due to the difference in attack, I cannot use my Secret Rare Garbodors in Standard (Come on TCPi). Another reason why this card is so revolutionary is the fact that is one of the few cards in Standard that can permanently lock your opponent from Abilities, with the other of course being Wobbuffet . Now, in your Manectric deck for instance, you can stop your opponent from using Bronzong ‘s Metal Links or Zoroark ‘s Stand In. Another bonus with Garbodor over Wobbuffet is that your Garbodor need not be in the Active Spot, wasting another attacker of choice.
When I first read Greninja BREAK, my first thought was Night March. Without an attack, for a lowly Ability, this card can OHKO a Joltik or Pumpkaboo, providing they do not have a Fighting Fury Belt attached. This card can automatically challenge a top-tier deck, and I immediately wanted to build a deck around him. As we have seen from the recent Florida Regionals, Mr. Grafton Roll has had success with the deck in the Expanded format, piloting it to a Top 32 finish. Although I shall be discussing it in more detail in a bit, this card is definitely a card to look out for.
Puzzle of Time
Nanananananananana Batman! or in this case Puzzle of Time! (or Time Puzzle, whichever you prefer). Think of this card as the crime busting card for any deck that only runs Double Colorless Energy or for short, DCE. This card allows you, whenever you play two at a time, to get any two cards from the discard pile! Almost any deck that is reliant on a card that they can only play four of (think Seismitoad-EX), they now have a way, with Skyla as a good supporter to get that second piece of the puzzle (Pun very much intended).
Aw yes! An actually good Espeon-EX since the one from EX Unseen Forces! But in reality, this card has great synergy in Expanded with Archeops NVI, preventing all sorts of evolutions if they happened to get one off. Pair this with Pyroar FLF and you got the definition of a rogue! This card in my opinion, is quite underrated in Standard as well. For instance, if you have a spread Damage modifier, such as Trevenant BREAK , and then use Espeon-EX to devolve them, and then take prizes off their devolution’s low HP!
Oh boy. A basic EX that grants immunity to all damage from Basics? For a Max Elixir attachment and a DCE? Well, looks like we have a good card here. This card kinda turns the known format upside down on its head, not to mention costs serious cash (Was 60$ at one point). I would recommend stocking up on 2-3 copies of this card (with TCGPlayer being a very good option for that purpose). Although this is not a single card that will automatically become the card to beat, its effects are very important when constructing a deck. Be on the lookout for these types of decks at the State Championships.
Good Deck Choices for States
Coming out of the BW-BKP fomat of Florida and Oregon Regionals, we really don’t have a clear meta in Standard ahead of us. The most we can do is look at what placed well at these tournaments, what placed well at Cities, and theorize what decks become stronger with the addition of BREAKpoint. Starting with Florida, here is a list of what decks placed within the Top 32
- Yveltal-EX (without Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick)
- Primal Groudon-EX / Wobbuffet
- Trevenant /Wobbuffet
- M Rayquaza-EX
- Seismitoad-EX / Crobat
- Genesect-EX / Max Elixir
These decks were seen throughout Florida’s top tables, and into Top Cut. By just looking at these decks, we can eliminate some from the list due to rotation of key cards. In addition, Generations was not legal for these tournaments.
A list of decks that have consistently placed within the Top Cut at City Championships can be seen as follows:
- Yveltal-EX / Zoroark / Gallade BKT
- Night March / Milotic
- Vespiquen / Eeveelutions
- Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX
- M Mewtwo-EX
- Entei AOR / Charizard-EX
- Tyrantrum-EX / Bronzong
Again, we can eliminate some from sheer lack of new support from either BREAKpoint or Generations, such as M Mewtwo-EX or Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong. Some more are simply not consistent, and unconsistent decks are horrible choices for States, as any high-level player will tell you. Due to the simple addition of a single set, the Standard meta has changed drastically, for the better or worse we do not know. Below is a list of decks I would expect to play against at a State Championship, from these two lists and obvious card pairings from BKP and the new set Generations.
- Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade or YZG
- Night March/Milotic (with or without Maxie’s Garchomp )
- Night March/Vespiquen/Time Puzzle
- Trevenant BREAK
- Speed Jolteon-EX
And from these decks, I’ll be discussing my two favorites- YZG, and Greninja.
Yveltal / Zoroark / Gallade
YZG is a fast, consistent deck that has only gotten better with the addition of BKP. Here’s my personal favorite list:
This is the optimal list for a League Challenge or small tournament. It is very consistent, fast, and easy to play. Note that there is only one copy of Lysandre, so be careful of wasting VS Seekers. The idea behind the deck is simple: Get out an Yveltal-EX, load it with a DCE and Darkness Energy or two and swing away. Yveltal XY, or more commonly known as “Baby Y” can help with this, as its first attack, Oblivion Wing, can attach Darkness Energy from the discard to one of your Benched Pokemon, preferably to a Yveltal-EX.
In addition, Yveltal BKT’s “Fright Night” ability allows one to ignore all effects of Pokemon Tool cards, namely Fighting Fury Belt and its HP addition. By its Ability only, it theoretically does 40+ damage to a Basic Pokemon with Fighting Fury Belt, over the course of a KO. Because this addition is so crucial, I chose to play two Yveltal BKT rather than the typical single copy. Reverse Valley, and Fighting Fury Belt also work in conjunction, allowing for the addition damage effect of Muscle Band and an extra 40 HP. Because you only need about one Zoroark in play throughout a game, due to its Ability Stand In, I chose to play only a 2-2-1 line of Zorua and Zoroark.
- Night March/Milotic- This matchup comes down to whether or not you can correctly use your non-EX attackers like Baby Y, Zoroark, and Gallade. Gallade is quite important due to the fact that it can OHKO a Shaymin-EX for only a single Energy attachment. Another option would be to try and get two hits off with an Yveltal-EX, evening the Prize trade, yet woe is the one who falls to a single 30 HP Joltik. Overall, about 45%-55% their favor, more towards you if you decide to run a Seismitoad-EX.
- Night March/Vespiquen- About the same as above, yet Seismitoad does not help here.
- Greninja- This matchup is basically whoever sets up. Because Greninja can Turn 1 Wally into a Frogadier, they can get a Turn 2 Greninja set up. If you go second, you can also get a Turn 1 Y Cyclone off with Max Elixir and Float Stone. About 65%-35% your favor.
- Trevenant BREAK- This matchup is quite obviously favorable, yet not only due to their Weakness, but also your constant attacks. The key here is to use Baby Y and its Oblivion Wing attack, not to mention Yveltal BKT and its Fright Night Ability to pass through Bursting Balloon ‘s effect. Expect a 75%-25% your favor.
- Speed Jolteon-EX- This matchup comes down to whomever can outplay the opponent. If the Jolteon player is relatively smart, they will limit the amount of benched Pokemon they have in play, reducing Zoroark’s damage output. Of course, Gallade is the MVP (Most Valuable Pokemon) in this matchup, due to its Type, so if you are worried about Jolteon, you may up your count up to 2. Yet, Zoroark BREAK comes in very clutch here, as you will see why. Because Zoroark BREAK can copy any attack of the opponent, you can theoretically copy Flash Ray to immunize yourself from Flash Ray’s damage. Thus, you can buy time to set up a Gallade or another Zoroark. About 50%-50% overall, depending on whichever person is more skilled.
Frogs is a nice, easy to play deck that does not revolve around EXs.
This deck is very fun to play in my opinion; it also uses no Shaymin-EXs so it is quite cheap to play. The purpose of the deck is to get out a Frogadier by Turn 1 or 2, and use its attack Water Duplicates to get out three more Frogadier, which you can immediately evolve the next turn. Then, using Greninja XY’s and Greninja BREAK’s Water Shuriken and Giant Water Shuriken respectively, you can snipe your opponent’s benched Shaymin-EXs for KOs, as well as use Greninja BKP’s Shadow Stitching to induce damage as well as prevent Abilities.
Now a good reason I may justify playing three copies of Judge, and only three copies of Professor Sycamore is due to the amount of times you Mulligan with the deck. You only play five Basic Pokemon, so when you go first, your opponent usually has a couple Mulligan cards in their hand. Now, Judge is very powerful, reducing their hand from seven or eight to only four. Octillery also replenishes your hand size, so Judge does not hurt you as much. Robo Substitute make sense in this deck, as you induce damage through Abilities, thus, maximizing the amount of damage output each Greninja can provide. Of course, you are now required to play a Pokemon Tool card remover of some sort, as our lovely trash Pokemon Garbodor was printed in BKP as well, whether that be Startling Megaphone or Xerosic . A little note worthy of mention, however, is that Octillery could get Lysandre’d up, and stall you for a couple of turns, so you could consider running an extra Float Stone. Also, because we are discarding 3-4 Pokemon when we get Knocked Out, we must run multiple Super Rod, replenishing the amount of Frogadiers or Greninjas in the deck.
- YZG- This matchup is pretty difficult. If you manage to get the Turn 2 Greninja, you can simply ride the game using it to attack, and Robo Substitutes to avoid huge Evil Balls. Max Potion really shines here; being able to simply heal away an attack is quite useful. About 35%-65% their favor.
- Night March/Milotic- This matchup is quite favorable. Xerosic is a very good card here; it allows for the removal of Fighting Fury Belt, thus reducing the needed HP to a measly 30 HP or 60 HP, both of which can be Knocked Out by Greninja BREAK. Robo Substitute is also very good to avoid big attacks. I also recommend sniping Feebas with Greninja XY’s Water Shuriken (not to be confused with Greninja BREAK’s Giant Water Shuriken). Overall 70%-30% you.
- Trevenant BREAK- This matchup is quite even, depending on who can go first. If the Trevenant player goes first, and gets a Turn 1 Wally into a Trevenant, locking your Item cards. If so, it can be very difficult to get your momentum back, and start getting Water Shuriken(s) off. Rough Seas really shines here, effectively neutralizing Trevenant BREAK’s Silent Fear attack. About 60%-40% your favor.
- Speed Jolteon-EX- This matchup is very nice, considering their only attacker would be either Jolteon-EX or Raikou BKT, both of which are not very effective against multiple Water Shurikens. A note to remember, however, is that they are much faster than you in attacking for damage. Therefore, be wary of your Pokemon in your Discard Pile and your Energy count. About 60%-40% your favor.
There are many subtle changes that you could adjust from these starting lists, such as cutting Robo Substitute in Greninja for other cards, or maybe adding Bursting Balloon to it as well. Perhaps you feel uncomfortable playing a Zoroark BREAK, especially when you know you probably won’t get it out. Overall, there are many differences you as a player can choose to make.
Whether you decide to play Leap Frogs or YZG for a tournament, I hope you have learned something that you didn’t today about or not about Pokemon. As my basketball coach once stated, “You must be learning 51% of the time; otherwise your skills will diminish.” I hope you have a great day!
~Blaine “Scrub” Hill