Preliminary Nationals Testing — The Usual Suspects and Bronzong BREAK

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The Subscriber's Hideout Is Really Just Like A Secret Base.
The Subscriber’s Hideout is really just like a Secret Base.

In my last article, I talked about some theoretical decks from the new set, Fates Collide. Those decks were a M Alakazam-EX deck and a Zygarde-EX deck. While those decks each have a solid strategy and could be good given the right time to shine, the current meta may not be that exact time. Some brave soul could try these decks out at Nationals, and they’re still on my testing agenda. Alakazam-EX is actually getting some hype, I know people have been talking about its viability. However, I’m going to talk about some other decks in this article today.

Starting to test for U.S. Nationals right now might seem a bit early, but it’s really not at all. It’s one month until the day when around a thousand players will compete for prizes that are not a joke this year! Pokemon has really stepped up the prize pool for U.S. Nationals. I think that’s a really good thing, since it’s just about the hardest tournament of the year. Some might say Worlds is a more difficult tournament, but there are definitely arguments for U.S. Nationals. Whoever wins this tournament deserves a little something for their efforts!

So right now, my friends and I are in the early stages of testing. This means we have a general idea of the meta, since we have to take in results from across the U.S. Our typical process is to identify the most popular decks. We’ll build these, and a few ideas we have of our own. We’ll test our ideas against the popular decks and edit or discard them from there.

I’m going to talk about six decks that I am currently looking at playing at Nationals. Instead of dumping six lists in this article and not discussing them much, I’m splitting this up into two segments: this one will have the first three, and the second three will be in my article coming out later.

The decks I’ll be talking about today are Night March, Yveltal, and Bronzong BREAK. These are two decks we are used to seeing, and one that’s something a bit different from the norm. I’ll talk about the card choices for each deck, and also where it fits into the metagame.

Night March is first up! This is something I’m very likely to play because I’ve played it in tournaments before, and frankly, it’s not that difficult to run. It kind of runs itself! Take a look at the list.

Night March

Pokemon (18)

4x Joltik (PHF #26)4x Pumpkaboo (PHF #44)4x Lampent (PHF #42)3x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)2x Mew (FAC #29)1x Mr. Mime (BKT #97)

Trainers (35)

3x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x Lysandre (FLF #90)1x N (NVI #92)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)1x Xerosic (PHF #110)1x Teammates (PRC #141)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)4x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)4x Puzzle of Time (BKP #109)2x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)1x Float Stone (PLF #99)1x Escape Rope (PLS #120)1x Target Whistle (PHF #106)1x Pokémon Catcher (EPO #95)4x Dimension Valley (PHF #93)

Energy (7)

4x Double Colorless Energy (HS #103)3x Lightning Energy (RS #109)

This list is a bit different from my last iteration of Night March, but still essentially similar. To be honest, I don’t really think Night March lists can vary that much. There is a huge core that the deck always needs to run efficiently. Therefore, minute differences between lists matter greatly, especially in mirror. Night March is the kind of deck where the list is so tight, it’s actually more of a deckbuilding challenge than some lists where small changes might not matter as much. It’s kind of like a streamlined machine, one gear that’s out of place can slow down the entire operation. Piloting Night March is a lot like running a machine, in fact. At the beginning of the game, all of our plays should either get us something we want, or thin our deck out so that we can get something we want next turn. Meanwhile, we need to keep track of all our resources. This isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be now that Puzzle of Time is in the format, but it’s still something that will advance our gameplay to the next level.

The Pokemon

With Night March, Joltik is a pretty bad card to start with on paper. It gets easily KO’d by almost everything in the game, probably on the first or second turn. But it’s actually the Pokemon I like to start with most, simply because the other ones are so awful. If we start with Mew, that’s great if it survives long enough to take a KO. If it won’t, that’s unfortunate for us because we only play two, so they’re slightly valuable. Mew is a replacement for the old Mew-EX, though it has only 50 HP. It’s a useful tool for later in the game when we are running out of Night Marchers and can’t have enough on the board and also in the discard. Pumpkaboo is not the best starter because it’s harder to attack with, requiring the DCE and the Valley. It can’t be Sky Return KO’d by Shaymin-EX, which makes it a bit more resilient than Joltik. Shaymin-EX himself is obviously everyone’s nightmare starter, so let’s not even discuss that. Mr. Mime is intended to sit on the Bench, protecting us. That leaves Joltik as our most likely target to start with. Also, if it gets KO’d early, that’s just an extra Marcher in the discard and an activator for Teammates.

I’ve removed the Unown I played in the last version in favor of the Mew. That’s the only change to the Pokemon line except the addition of the Mr. Mime. Mr. Mime is back now, and it’s great in this deck. Yveltal from BREAKthrough has become a staple in Yveltal-EX decks, so if we can get this guy down it really foils their plans. It doesn’t work against Bats, sadly, but it does help when playing against Manectric-EX. Joltik can breathe much easier when Mr. Mime is on duty.

We all know that Night March’s best attack is its namesake. However, let’s not forget about the other attacks in the deck. For example, never Night March an opposing Joltik if you can help it, Sky Return with Shaymin-EX or Mew instead. Another thing to consider is the fact that we also want to play a few Basic Energy to hedge our bets, we don’t want to rely on using Puzzle of Time to get back our DCE if we don’t have to. But which type? That’s a bit up in the air, as we have a few options. We could play Psychic to use Pumpkaboo’s Ram, but that doesn’t seem very helpful. We could play Fairy to use Mr. Mime’s Juggling, which potentially does 40 damage if we can flip 4 heads. However, I think the most prudent option is to use Lightning for Joltik’s Gnaw. Lightning is a good type, and if we use the attack with Joltik onto an Yveltal we get Weakness damage. It’s probably not very relevant for now, and definitely not as relevant as it used to be when Mew-EX was around to use our opponent’s attacks as well.

The Supporters

I’m running a standard Supporter line in this list. It’s nothing special, really. N is back now, but we don’t want to see that card too much in Night March. Our opponent is most likely going to try to use it against us, because one way to get out of the bulldozer that is Night March is to try to disrupt it and make us unable to draw the part we need for the machine to run. A good N to one can definitely do that, giving our opponent the chance to make a comeback. We don’t play Bronzong or Milotic in this list, and that’s what makes thinning our deck at the beginning of the game so important, as I mentioned before. We still play one copy of our own to try and pull the same trick on our opponent if they get ahead. A likely scenario in which we will use N is the mirror, when we know our opponent has a response in hand from Puzzle of Time, Town Map, or Teammates.

Hex Maniac is a great turn one play for Night March, since we can set up a lot of our board using Shaymin-EX and Battle Compressor. The reason Hex is so strong in the beginning of the game is because it denies the extra advantage that Shaymin-EX gives a player in setting up. Night March is the deck that punishes slow starts the most, so why not take advantage of that? Battle Compressor and VS Seeker make it easy to access. As for the rest of the Supporters, Teammates is good for right after the first attacker goes down to get what we need to set up a response. Xerosic helps us a lot against mirror, and against anything that plays Special Energy in general.

The Trainers

Here we have our standard Night March engine. This is what I’m talking about when I mention that there’s limited space in the deck. We have to have all these Trainers maxed out so that we can make sure to draw through the deck before our opponent draws through theirs or deals with our board. We have a couple of luxury spots. Fighting Fury Belt is a great Tool that makes it harder for our opponent to take Prizes, at least in an even exchange. It’s harder for their non-EX Pokemon to KO our non-EX Pokemon, forcing them to bring out the big money targets (aka Pokemon-EX).

One Float Stone and one Escape Rope is something I really stand by, and have for a while. It’s not enough to just play one or the other, you’re bound to get stuck somewhere you can’t get out of, especially with stalling techniques running rampant nowadays. Playing the Rope and throwing up something that already has the Float Stone on it is priceless, and too good of an opportunity to miss. Target Whistle is a card I’ve been turned onto lately that I think is genius. It makes everything in our opponent’s discard fair play. They might cripple their draw during the game at some point in order to not bench another fragile, two Prize Shaymin-EX, only to have us bring it all the way from the discard to the Active position anyway! Pokemon Catcher gives us a similar boon, we have a fifty percent chance to take down either something with Energy attached or something worth two Prizes. It’s a nonessential spot that is up in the air anyway. Target Whistle and Catcher are both cards that are impossible for our opponent to play around, which is what makes them good additions to the deck.

The Matchups

A lot of Night March’s matchups are really against itself. Whether or not the deck sets up very quickly is crucial to its success. This list is pretty good against the mirror. Teammates, extra Energy, and Target Whistle help a lot with the Prize-exchange. However, there are a few little tips we can use when facing another Night March deck. Make sure to play the single Prize game. That is, avoid benching Shaymin-EX at all costs, and if you must, try to pick it back up as soon as possible. Also, don’t bench a Joltik without putting a Fighting Fury Belt on it, again, unless absolutely necessary. This makes it so that Joltik can’t get KO’d by Sky Return.

When we are playing against Greninja decks, it’s a good idea not to bench Joltik at all because it gets KO’d so easily. For the same reason as above, we should also try not to bench Shaymin-EX. Pumpkaboo and Mew will be our main attackers in this matchup. It’s a little tougher because they only give up a single Prize as well. Playing the Prize game comes into relevance again against Yveltal, we need to make sure they don’t KO a Shaymin. It seems like Shaymin-EX is a bit of a liability a lot of the time, doesn’t it? Also, in this matchup there is the issue of Joltik being Sky Returned as well, so be careful when attacking with it. Make sure to take its type advantage into account, and only use it when you need this boost. If the Yveltal player goes for Gallade, make sure to target it and KO it if you get the opportunity.

Other than these few matchup specific points and general gameplay tricks, most of Night March’s matchups are self explanatory and straightforward. In addition, I believe all of these matchups are favorable for the Night March player. Seismitoad-EX and Giratina-EX decks may give us some problems, but overall, Night March is one of my top plays for Nats at the moment.

The next deck on my list is Yvetal. The Dark Bird has been good since the second it was printed, and it’s only gotten stronger.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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