The Creep Show — Effects of Rotation and Three Powerful Unique Standard Decks

Hello everyone! My name is Travis Nunlist and I’m a competitive Pokemon player that has recently moved from Indiana to Arizona. This article marks my debut as a writer for a Pokemon site and I am excited to produce meaningful content for other players. I’m a member of Team Honor Roll and Team Hovercats, and qualified for the 2015 and 2016 World Championships. I’ve found moderate success myself in the game and have helped contribute to the success of many other players through collaboration on decks and ideas so I’m hopeful that you all will find my opinions and advice to be very helpful!

With introductions out of the way my article will be focusing on the brand new Standard format. I will be attending the Arizona Regional Championship which is utilizing the Expanded format, but this article is set to come out right after the tournament so I wanted to help everyone focus on the new format and next big tournament, Orlando Regionals, which will be using the Standard format.

I want to focus my first article on the changes in the card pool and how they affect the format. This will be more like taking a step back and looking at the options in the format as a whole rather than focusing in on specific decks and strategies. The goal is to help player’s understand the game, the cards, and their interactions on an entirely different level to improve not only their gameplay but also their out-of-game thinking when it comes to deck building.

The Big Losses of Rotation

1. Battle Compressor

Wow, this freakin’ card right here man. I’m not sure anyone truly understood or anticipated the effect that this card would have on the game of Pokemon when it was first revealed, but we sure did learn rather quickly. It’s no secret that this card has been format defining since it was printed in Phantom Forces. It has seen success in an unbelievable amount of decks, and there was never a time where the card was not viable in some way. It’s the reason that the ever present evil of decks like Night March and Vespiquen / Vileplume were even able to exist during the last Standard format (XY-on). The loss of this card moving forward into Standard means that most decks are going to be inherently slower than they used to be. Not having immediate access to any Supporter in your deck means that players may be forced to play more Supporter cards in their deck, and it also reduces the effectiveness of cards like Mega Turbo in the early stages of the game. Even the deck thinning capabilities of the card means that players can no longer race off to a huge lead and thin their decks effectively to minimize the impact of a late game N and will be forced to play more Energy to increase their odds of success with cards like Max Elixir. Even Pokemon that are still legal like Vespiquen will have to make a lot of changes to their deck design just to accommodate the loss of such an important card to their strategy. The loss of the format defining Battle Compressor will drastically change how players can build their decks, and I believe this will be seen in the decks that find the most success at Orlando Regionals.

2. Xerosic, Startling Megaphone

The loss of all Tool-removal in the Standard format has already been felt by the immediate popularity of Garbodor, but it also extends much further than that regarding the impact Tools will have on a format without any form of removal. We have already begun to see the effect of this in the popularity of Mega Pokemon because not only of their inherent strength, but also due to the fact that their Spirit Links are safe as soon as they come into play. The entire Standard format contains only one card that can negate Tools, Yveltal. This card is currently only featured in Dark decks and can even be countered by cards such as Hex Maniac and Silent Lab, not to mention the fact that it only temporarily removes the effects of Tools from play rather than sending them to the discard. There are many reactive and defensive Tools that have seen minimal play because of the ability to simply remove them from play before they were able to have any beneficial effect for the user. For those of us that remember the 2011 – 2012 season of Pokemon we remember the last format without any sort of Tool-removal. During this season, two of the most impactful Tools of the entire year included Eviolite and Exp. Share. Even with cards like Dark Claw in the format the most successful Darkrai-EX decks opted to include Eviolite because it proved to be the better Tool. In a format without Tool-removal the viability of these less proactive Tools is changed completely. When cards like Exp. Share are uninterrupted and become 100% reliable it allows for creative decks like the Quad Terrakion deck that surfaced during States of that year to become very competitive in the right metagame. There are a ton of Tools in the current format that have seen little to no play since they were printed, but I encourage everyone to at least consider the impact they can have in a game when there is zero chance of them being removed. Some examples of these tools include Assault VestHealing Scarf, Lucky Helmet, and Weakness Policy. I find it hard to believe that there will be a single deck throughout the entire Standard season that does not use Tools, so being aware of your options will become very important moving forward.

3. AZ, Cassius, Super Scoop Up

These are some cards I’ve seen a lot less chatter about losing since rotation was announced, but I believe people will come to realize the loss their impact has the more they begin to prepare themselves for Standard tournaments. I believe that Bench control is one of the most underrated skills in Pokemon, and the loss of these cards will only highlight the ability to control your Bench even further. With the loss of these three cards the only way Pokemon can be removed from play is via Parallel City, overfilling your Bench with Sky Field and having it bumped, or simply having them Knocked Out. Not every deck moving forward may be able to afford fitting in these Bench manipulation Stadiums, making Bench control even more important. I believe that AZ was borderline a staple card of the last format, especially in any deck that played Shaymin-EX or other phenomenal coming into play Abilities like Absol, simply because of the versatility the card provided any deck. It could re-use these abilities, be a healing card, or could simply free up Bench space for a better Pokemon to come into play. Your opponent only has two Prizes left? AZ could be game changing by removing your vulnerable Pokemon-EX from play and forcing them to deal with a more threatening attacker. A great example of this is the fact that our current World Champion Shintaro Ito actually chose to play two copies of the card in his M Audino-EX deck alongside a pair of Parallel City to ensure he had full control of what Pokemon he had in play every game. Cassius saw success in decks centered around Primal Groudon-EX to not only heal, but also to conserve resources. Super Scoop Up was instrumental in decks that focused on coming into play Abilities like Golbat‘s Sneaky Bite and Crobat‘s Surprise Bite, and Golbat remains legal due to a reprint in Generations. The loss of these cards will certainly impact the playability of their partners and will require some important deck restructuring to adapt to their absence.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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