The Shadow Triad — Three Less Popular Choices for Nationals

Howdy, all you PokeBeachers! Dalen Dockery here with another article for you all. Recently, a few decks have been dominating the Pokemon TCG, namely Night March, Greninja BREAK, and Trevenant BREAK. Well today, I’m going to be talking about three decks I feel would be sneaky yet effective plays for the National Championships rather than the big three decks that most players are sick of using. Oddly enough, all three decks are specifically focused around a certain type and the support that type has received, Serperior with Forest of Giant Plants, Genesect-EX and Aegislash-EX with Bronzong, and Seismitoad-EX with Rough Seas and Manaphy-EX. If you, like me, are very bored of playing the same old decks over and over, try out one of these new archetypes; I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their competitiveness as well as their aspect of fun.


Serperior has been featured in the Pokemon Trading Card Game ever since Black and White‘s release years ago, and this is the first time Serperior has seen a viable deck. The goal of this deck is simple, take 2HKO’s on your opponents’ Pokemon by using Serperior‘s Coil for 40 damage followed by a Slashing Strike for 140 with Coil’s damage boost. The downfall of Serperior’s one-two punch combo is that Serperior switching out of the Active spot removes Coil’s damage bonus. To make up for this, Serperior was gifted with an excellent pre-evolution, Servine. When you evolve Snivy into Servine, you can use Servine’s Ability to potentially Paralyze the Defending Pokemon. If you flip heads and Paralyze the opposing Pokemon, your opponent won’t be able to attack during their turn unless they are able to evolve or switch Pokemon, giving you a free turn to set up your Coil / Slashing Strike Combo. Even if you flip tails on Servine, you can always evolve another Snivy to have another change at Paralysis. While immobilizing their Active Pokemon for a turn is certainly nice, the Paralysis is not mandatory, so if you know for sure that your Serperior can’t be KO’d during your opponent’s next turn, you don’t need to waste resources to try to Paralyze them.

Pokemon (20)

3x Serperior (FAC #7)4x Servine (FAC #6)4x Snivy (FAC #5)1x Vileplume (AOR #3)1x Gloom (AOR #2)1x Oddish (AOR #1)3x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)3x Unown (AOR #30)

Trainers (34)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)3x AZ (PHF #91)2x Lysandre (FLF #90)2x N (FAC #105)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)4x Super Scoop Up (FFI #100)3x VS Seeker (PHF #109)2x Level Ball (AOR #76)1x Sacred Ash (FLF #96)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)4x Forest of Giant Plants (AOR #74)

Energy (6)

6x Grass Energy (GEN #75)

Card Choices and Techs

An unusual inclusion in this deck is the 1-1-1 Vileplume line. Since Serperior already takes advantage of the Forest of Giant Plants Stadium, Vileplume is a natural fit in the deck, especially with all of the draw cards the deck uses to try to get a turn one Serperior. With so many popular decks being so Item-dependent, Vileplume can seriously cripple any deck if you manage to get it out turn one, and with a thick count of AZ, you can often pick up Vileplume to play Items for a turn, just to play Vileplume right back down with Forest of Giant Plants. Serperior decks take great advantage of Super Scoop Up, arguably much more than other decks. Not only can you pick up your Serperior to heal off all damage and reuse Servine’s Ability, but you can also return Shaymin-EX off the Bench to prevent it giving up two easy Prize cards.

Only three VS Seeker is very uncommon and unusual in most Standard decks barring Vespiquen / Vileplume. There are two reason I only play three in here: the first is that without Battle Compressor in the deck to toolbox Supporters into the discard pile, VS Seeker loses a little bit of effectiveness in the early game. Second, with Vileplume out, VS Seeker is unusable, so a higher Supporter count and lower VS Seeker count gives you more beneficial draws while under Item-lock.

One card that could very well perform well in this list is Revitalizer. With Forest of Giant Plants, Revilatizer lets you recover almost an entire Serperior chain after one gets KO’d and immediately play it back down. Super Rod and Sacred Ash, on the other hand, recover more Pokemon (and Energy), but they shuffle the cards back into the deck rather than adding them to the hand. If Revitalizer fits your style more than Ash and Rod, you can simply take out the Ash and Rod for two copies of Revitalizer.


Night March

Night March is the main reason for the inclusion of Vileplume in this deck. Night March is so reliant on Item cards to set up and get Night Marchers in the discard pile that if you go first and get Vileplume out, you almost always win that game. Even getting Vileplume out in later turns is acceptable, still preventing them from playing any further Items. Aside from Vileplume, the matchup is very close. Serperior trades Prizes well with Night March, with Coil KO’ing a Joltik and Slashing Strike (or Coil after Coil) KO’ing Pumpkaboo. Fighting Fury Belt makes the math a little more difficult to reach, putting Pumpkaboo outside of Slashing Strike’s range unless you previously Coiled, but Servine’s Ability comes in extremely handy here. If you are forced to take a 2HKO on a Pumpkaboo, you can ideally Paralyze them with Servine to give them a down turn like you have using Coil.

One important strategy to remember in this matchup is to bench as few Shaymin-EX as possible. Shaymin-EX almost always serves as an easy two Prizes against Night March, and you certainly don’t want to let Night March win the race to six Prizes. With Super Scoop Up and AZ, picking up Shaymin after placing it down isn’t too big of an issue, but it is still very helpful to be conscious about how many you play down.

Trevenant BREAK

This matchup is the one thing really holding Serperior back from being a top competitor in my eyes. While this matchup is actually fairly even for both decks, the sheer amount of luck involved and the importance of winning the coin flip can prove either beneficial or detrimental to Serperior. If Trevenant goes first and finds a Wally to evolve a Phantump into Trevenant to Item-lock you, there’s not a whole lot you can do unless you happen to keep drawing Supporter cards. On the other hand, if you go first and can get your Vileplume out, Trevenant will get significantly limited in its resources with Items off of the table. Even if Trevenant gets its Item-lock online before you do (which often happens due to the lack of effect needed to get Trevenant out compared to Vileplume), Serperior can still use the Coil / Slashing Strike attack combo to 2HKO Trevenant BREAK or two Coils to 2HKO regular Trevenant, and Trevenant doesn’t have any reliable way to consistently KO Serperior. Also, when they BREAK-evolve their Trevenant, you can use Servine’s Ability to try to Paralyze them. If the coin flip is successful, you make up for the 2HKO by immobilizing them for a turn.

Greninja BREAK

One very helpful factor in the Greninja BREAK matchup is all of the frogs’ Grass-type Weakness. Serperior can Coil for a KO on a Froakie or Frogadier to set up a more powerful Slashing Strike as well as Slashing Strike to KO a non-BREAK-evolved Greninja. What makes the matchup difficult, however, is Greninja BREAK. Sitting at a massive 170 HP, Serperior is unable to OHKO Greninja BREAK in one shot without prior use of Coil. Spending a turn to Coil can be devastating, giving the Greninja deck a turn to wreak havoc on your Benched Pokemon with Water Shuriken and Giant Water Shuriken. BREAK-evolving isn’t completely bad news for Serperior, however. Greninja’s only way of ridding itself of Special Conditions is by evolving, and after BREAK-evolving, Greninja has no more possible evolutions. This means that using Coil for a turn isn’t so bad, provided that one of your Servine was able to Paralyze the Greninja BREAK; while they can still use Abilties, they can’t attack, leaving Serperior alive to attack another turn.

The Greninja matchup is another matchup in which Vileplume is especially useful. Greninja relies desperately on the Ball Item cards to search out its Frogadier, Greninja, and Greninja BREAK, and without those powerful search cards it struggles to build up a respectable field. Additionally, without VS Seeker to recover Fisherman, Greninja can easily run out of Water Energy if the Greninja player does not manage his / her Energy supply. Vileplume can always get Giant Water Shuriken’d twice and Water Shuriken’d once to get KO’d, but that means that your Serperior lines are safe for those turns, and you also hindered their setup greatly.

Vespiquen / Vileplume

This matchup is almost identical to the Trevenant BREAK matchup except with a little less wiggle room for each deck to win or lose. Simply put, 9 out of 10 times, whichever deck gets Vileplume out first wins. Vespiquen / Vileplume uses a thicker Vileplume line as well as many more draw cards, so it is naturally easy for them to get a turn one Vileplume, and if they do, Serperior has almost no chance of winning. Whereas Trevenant BREAK decks can’t really output a high amount of damage, Vespiquen can easily OHKO Serperior like it’s a Magikarp, and combined with the Item-lock, the matchup can become all but unwinnable quickly.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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