Hello once again PokeBeach readers! I hope you have had an excellent first few weekends of States. Things are once again extremely busy for me around here. I’m playing multiple concerts every week in cities around the midwest. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road, and that won’t be changing with Regionals coming up. I am excited to say that I will be spending two months this summer in Colorado performing in a music festival! This is a major opportunity for me, and though I will have to miss out on U.S. Nationals, I’m hoping to secure my invite well before then.
Currently I’m sitting at 280 points which I feel fine about. All I need now are a couple of LC finishes to cap the invite. I was lucky enough to attend two Winter Regionals: Virginia and St. Louis. I had an absolute blast at the events, where I finished 5-2-2 and 6-1-2 respectively. In both tournaments, I went down to the wire, and entered the last round with a 5-1-2 record. Win the round, and I had potential to make top cut. Lose, and my day was over. In Virginia, I lost to a Seismitoad-EX / Crobat mirror match on some tough luck and a few crucial coin flips that didn’t go my way. In the win-and-in round at St. Louis, I beat an Yveltal / Gallade / Zoroark (YGZ) with my Night March in one of the closest and best played games I’ve had this season. However, even though I did the winning, I didn’t do much of the “in-ing” as I bubbled at 34th seed. This was a huge bummer as my loss and ties were to three players who did make it on to the next day. Unfortunately, that was just how it went for me, and I graciously accepted my 15 kicker points from both the tournaments.
This last weekend I turned my attention to States. I wasn’t able to make week one States in Michigan, though I felt I had a pretty solid grasp on the metagame as I was in discussion with many of the top finishers on the weekend. Andrew Mahone piloted a Night March list that probably would’ve been my top choice for the weekend to a 6-1 record through Swiss and the top overall seed in Michigan. Andrew Wamboldt, another of my closest conspirators, played Vespiquen / Vileplume and took home the 1st-place finish in Missouri. They were well in tune with what others around the country were thinking as Night March took seven State Championships while Vespiquen / Vileplume took two. Shoutouts to them for playing well in the first weekend and finding decks that handled the metagame.
In week two, I attended the Tennessee State Championship where I played an unusual Reshiram / Giratina-EX deck to a Top 8 finish! This deck will be the focus of the latter half of this article. A few new cards from BREAKpoint and Generations have turned this deck into a serious contender in our current metagame, sporting some solid matchups against the high-tier decks. It was such a brilliant deck and I hope I can convince you of its viability.
But first, I want to take the first part of this article to go over a few cards you can include in your decks to counter some of the major threats in the metagame. I wholly believe Night March and Vespiquen / Vileplume to be the two best decks in the format, with Night March having a slight edge due to the deck’s lax attitude about going first or second as well as its efficiency in setting up just about every game. With these two archetypes in mind, I will discuss techs you can include in your decks to swing one or both of these matchups. At the very least, I want to give you a fresh perspective on what seems like a stale format.
Top 10 Tech Cards in the Standard Format
Jolteon-EX was just released in the mini-set, Generations. Its second attack, “Flash Ray,” does 70 damage and states “during your opponent’s next turn, prevent all damage done to this Pokemon by attacks from Basic Pokemon.” This is an incredibly strong effect, especially against the most winningest deck from week one: Night March.
So, why didn’t Jolteon-EX see play during week one of States? Consider first the cost of the card. Because of the low supply, this Eeveelution is hovering at about $30 on eBay. One of the more beloved Generation One Pokemon with a usable attack means it holds value to both collectors and competitive players. Its high cost may have deterred players from spending money to purchase it when there hadn’t been results from a tournament in the current XY-Generations format.
The second reason this card may not have been played is that there are inherent counters in established decks that counter this counter. Decks like Night March can out-speed it, or simply Lysandre around it to take most of their Prizes. If they play Target Whistle, there’s nothing stopping them from taking six Prizes on Pokemon that aren’t Jolteon-EX.
9. Fighting Fury Belt
Fighting Fury Belt is a fantastic card for so many reasons. Not only does it increase the damage output of the Basic Pokemon it is attached to, but it also gives that Pokemon a greater chance of survival. This card could make its way into a lot of different decks and has seen play in Night March and Darkness-based decks. An EX with 220 HP? A Night Marcher with 100 HP? These numbers are ridiculous, and the damage boost is pretty nice as well. Is the additional 40 HP and extra 10 damage enough to warrant inclusion in your next States deck?
8. Yveltal (Fright Night)
One card I would like to see featured in more deck lists is Yveltal because of it’s Ability — Fright Night. This can be especially bothersome for a deck like Vileplume which relies on Float Stones to maneuver the Pokemon that don’t posses free retreat, notably Vileplume. You can use Yveltal in a Dark-based deck to stick the opponent’s Vileplume in the Active. To pull this off, you would need to have an Yveltal Active with a Lysandre in hand. Assuming they have a Vileplume on the field with a Float Stone, you can use Lysandre to bring it up and lock it Active. The opponent will be unable to retreat without manually attaching two Double Colorless Energy, and from there you should be able to KO two more of their attackers to discard all four of their DCE.
Yveltal is a solid attacker as well. It can singlehandedly take four Prizes in two turns by KO’ing two Shaymin-EX. The major downfall of Yveltal as an attacker is that it takes two Energy to power up and cannot benefit from Tools such as Fighting Fury Belt or Muscle Band, but that shouldn’t stop you from considering this Pokemon for your next tournament.
7. Silent Lab
Silent Lab is one of those cards that I personally have mixed emotions about playing. On one hand, it can be an incredibly powerful card that stops opponents dead in their tracks. On the other hand, with great power comes great responsibility. Playing Silent Lab down also shuts off your own draw from Shaymin-EX.
If you are looking for a card that could counter both Vespiquen / Vileplume and Night March, this might be the one. Both Vespiquen / Vileplume and Night March rely heavily on Shaymin-EX to set up their board position. This weakness in their decks can be exploited if you are able to get a Silent Lab in play turn one. Vespiquen / Vileplume and some Night March lists that incorporate Vespiquen play Unown, which Silent Lab also disrupts. Now, it is possible for both Vespiquen / Vileplume and Night March to play a Stadium in response to your Silent Lab, but that is not always the case. Additionally, Silent Lab is powerful in the late game, when Night March can afford to drop multiple Shaymin to take their last Prize or two.
Of course, all this theory goes out the window if you happen to go second, but unfortunately that’s where the Pokemon TCG is at the moment. Consider Silent Lab as a possible option for your tech slots this weekend.
6. Bursting Balloon
Bursting Balloon is another extremely interesting, newly released card. One reason I like Bursting Balloon is it makes your opponent think twice about attacking you. If they do decide to attack, they will take heavy damage. If they don’t decide to attack, you gain an extra turn. Either one is a major benefit.
This card works best in Trevenant-based decks where the opponent under Item lock doesn’t have as many outs to a Lysandre to bypass the Bursting Balloon. Even still, many decks are only running one Lysandre, so having access to it every turn can be difficult.
Bursting Balloon is one of the more obvious counters to Night March, and I believe the card creators made it with that archetype in mind. 60 damage is just enough to KO Pumpkaboo. Though it is difficult to fit into a list with how tight on space every deck is, including two or three Balloons can buy you the extra turn or two you need to win the game against Night March. I’ve even considered fitting Burst Balloon into Night March to gain an edge in the mirror match. Here is what my current Night March / Balloons deck list looks like.
5. Pokemon Catcher
I love Pokemon Catcher. Seriously, I love this card! Its effect is one of the most powerful in the game, and you don’t even have to waste your Supporter to do it! If I could, I would fit Pokemon Catcher into every list that I could, but sadly it works best in the lowest maintenance decks that have extra room for tech slots, i.e. Night March! Andrew Mahone has been one of the biggest advocates for Pokemon Catcher in Night March and we can attest to its brilliance.
What makes Pokemon Catcher such a fantastic card is the opportunity to attack Active any of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. Lysandre is such a strong card because it is an automatic gusting option — you can choose to bring Active your opponent’s support Pokemon or the main attacker that they are trying to protect on the Bench.
Right now, most decks need to continually replenish resources to keep momentum going. Few can rely on what’s on their board to sustain pressure on the opponent. Most players center their lists around the best draw card in the Standard format, Professor Sycamore, to keep their decks moving. If one has to use Sycamore nearly every turn to find new cards, they cannot play Supporters such as Lysandre on the same turn. Pokemon Catcher helps speed decks up by granting them the benefits of playing a Supporter as well as bringing up any threat of their choosing. Pokemon Catcher is so good, it just might wiggle its way into more decks this week!
4. Hex Maniac
Hex Maniac is such a strong card right now. Let’s list the major Pokemon with Abilities in our current metagame: Shaymin-EX, Greninja BREAK, Bronzong, Hydreigon-EX, Reshiram, Trevenant, Hoopa-EX, Ho-Oh-EX, and Gallade just to name a few. Hex Maniac gives your deck the versatility to work around all of these troublesome Abilities.
Even though one Hex Maniac is a staple in most decks, I have contemplated adding a second Hex Maniac to many of my decks to improve the Greninja matchup. With Greninja doing well across the country in week one and two, don’t be surprised to see more Hex out there.
Delinquent is one of the most underrated cards out there. However, because it can be so game changing, I’ve included it at #3 on this list. I have done a bit of testing with Delinquent and I find it works best in slower decks such as Yveltal-EX / Gallade / Zoroark because they can afford to trade one-Prize attackers and play a grind-it-out style game. Usually, the opponent will be trying to hold important resources while dumping unnecessary ones in the event of a Judge. In this case, you hit them with a Delinquent and completely mess up their strategy. I have won plenty of games by using Delinquent at just the right time and eliminating the opponent’s entire hand, leaving them to desperately attempt to top-deck out of it.
As Puzzle of Time sees more play, Delinquent could act as the perfect late-game counter to the decks that rely on having two Puzzle of Time in hand.
The beauty of Delinquent lies in nobody playing the card. If timed correctly, it can really swing the match in your favor. It is one of my favorite spooky techs right now and I think you should test it out for next week!
2. Target Whistle
Target Whistle has such a neat effect, allowing you to KO Pokemon your opponent thought they had removed from play, or simply clog their precious Bench slots with less-than-ideal Pokemon. It can win you games you otherwise shouldn’t have won and preys upon decks that need multiple support Pokemon to set up their board.
The two best decks to utilize this card are Greninja and Night March. Both of these decks value the ability to get KOs on weaker Pokemon. These decks do not always appreciate having to go through the main attacker, especially when that attacker can have high HP such as a M Manectric-EX or any other EX with Fighting Fury Belt attached. Target Whistle can also be solid in any deck that plays Gallade as it can OHKO Shaymin-EX with a Lysandre.
1. Parallel City
Parallel City is an incredibly strong card right now, which is why I’ve slotted it as the #1 tech for States! Every single deck can utilize its dual ability, be it to dump Shaymin-EX from the Bench or prevent decks like Vespiquen and Greninja from doing an additional 20 damage. This is the one card I could see fitting into any deck as it has so many uses. I even played it in my Top 8 Reshiram / Giratina-EX list.
In my list this weekend, I mostly used Parallel City to discard Hoopa-EX from my field. As Hoopa has a two Retreat Cost, I wanted to make sure my opponent couldn’t stall me by bringing it Active. Additionally, on the opponent’s side, you can reduce damage from all Fire, Grass, and Water Pokemon by 20. Cards like Vespiquen, Entei, Flareon-EX, Greninja and M Sceptile-EX will all hit for less damage. Try it out for yourself if you haven’t already. This is one versatile tech I enjoy!
Reshiram / Giratina-EX
I’d like to take the rest of this article to discuss a deck I played at Tennessee States to a 5-0-2 record and 1st seed in Swiss. I was unfortunately paired against my worst matchup in cut, Greninja, and was knocked out after a close series, 2-1.
This deck was the brain child of my good friends Kevin Baxter and Dustin Zimmerman who convinced me to play the deck on the ride down to Tennessee. Initially, I was on the fence, but after discussing strategies a little more I figured it couldn’t hurt to play this deck as it had seemingly solid matchups against many of the popular decks. Four of the five of us in the car decided to play the deck the next day, and we all hoped for seven rounds against Night March.
Giratina-EX is a fantastic card to base a deck around. Decks that utilize Seismitoad-EX, Vespiquen, and the Night Marchers all rely on the ever-prevalent Double Colorless Energy to attack. There are a number of other playable Special Energy as well such as Strong Energy and Splash Energy. Using an attack that may prevent your opponent from attacking next turn? Sounds great!
Another facet of Giratina-EX is its attack effect that essentially locks Stadiums in play. After you attack with Giratina, you opponent isn’t able to lay a Stadium card down. With a high number of playable Stadiums right now, including Dimension Valley, Fighting Stadium, and Silent Lab, this effect is quite strong.
As if preventing your opponent from playing Special Energy and Stadiums wasn’t enough, Giratina-EX also prevents opponents from playing Pokemon Tools from their hand. Tools are common in just about every deck and their importance shouldn’t be underappreciated. Float Stone, Fighting Fury Belt, Muscle Band, Bursting Balloon and Focus Sash are all strong Tools that the opponent will no longer be able to play once Giratina-EX attacks.
Finally, Giratina’s Ability prevents Mega Pokemon from doing anything to it. Though Mega Pokemon don’t see a lot of play, I faced a Primal Groudon-EX in my first round in Tennessee, and a M Manectric-EX made Top 8. Giratina’s Ability to deny Mega Pokemon from damaging it just adds another layer of strength to this complex card.
Funny enough, I already had a bit of experience with Reshiram / Giratina-EX prior to this tournament. I played it for my last City Championship when I had already garnered 180 points from Cities. I decided to play a variant of this deck that Athavan Balendran convinced me to play. He knew what he was doing and played the deck into top cut. I made significant changes to his list and, frankly, they were awful. Since the tournament didn’t mean anything to me in terms of CP, I decided to mess around and my record reflected that. At the very least, this tournament gave me a glimpse at what Reshiram / Giratina could be.
On the day of Tennessee States, I played a Primal Groudon-EX / Vileplume, M Sceptile-EX, Night March, and Trevenant. From there, I was able to ID with a Night March player and a Bronzong / Giratina-EX deck piloted by PokeBeach’s own Dalen Dockery (EDITOR’S NOTE: his first article will be published next week, so make sure to check that out!). For the first five rounds of the tournament, the list ran extremely smoothly. I was able to get Giratina up and running consistently and even pulled off the turn one Giratina-EX in five of my 13 games. Below is the list I used at Tennessee:
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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