Two Steps Forward, One Step Back — Three Standard Decks with Single Prize Attackers

What’s up, everyone? There’s plenty of things going on here as of late! Between football season, concert-going, Halloween, and spending time with my incredible wife and son, my plate has been loaded for a while now. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not here to write for you!

Before we get going, though, I’m going to let each of you get to know me a little bit better. After all, there’s more to each of us than just a card game, so why not address something new for a change? Here are a few things you may or may not know about yours truly:

First off, I am a huge Indianapolis Colts fan. While that hasn’t been too stressful outside of January for most of the last 20 years, it certainly hasn’t been as easy as of late. Cruising to the playoffs year after year seems like a long time ago when you experience back-to-back difficult seasons, which definitely helps me understand the pain of many less fortunate fan bases. Nonetheless, I am a loyal fan of my team, and I stand by them in triumph and defeat. That’s what being a fan is all about.

Next, you guys may recall my passion for rock and metal concerts, another of which I recently attended a few weeks ago. This was my first time seeing one of my newer favorite bands – Stitched Up Heart – perform their live set. As usual, I was near the front row and in the middle, thus giving me a clear view and full experience of their show. It was even more fun getting to meet the band when the show was over. I had a lengthly conversation with one of the guitarists about our common taste in symphonic metal bands such as Nightwish and Epica, while I also got to spend time with the rest of the band and take a picture with lead singer Mixi Demner. This has me extremely excited to see New Years Day perform live in another week, and hopefully I’ll get to meet them as well. New Years Day frontwoman Ashley Costello is like the real life version of Harley Quinn, and those guys play some intense tunes to match her DC Villain-esque appearance.

Halloween with my boy.

Finally, with Halloween having just finished up, I’m coming down from an awesome experience with my wife and son. My little guy is almost 18 months old now, and we went as a father-son team in the form of Batman and Robin! As for who was Batman and who was Robin, feel free to check out the picture to the right. Needless to say, we all enjoyed ourselves, and my wife joined in with her Marvel-fandom on Halloween night, sporting a Spiderman jersey in opposition to our DC Comics duo. My son got a pretty solid amount of candy for someone his size, so he’ll be set on little treats for a long time now! After all, a little guy can’t eat that much candy at once.

This leads me to today’s topic in the Pokemon TCG. Just like my 18 month old son doesn’t fork over 50 empty Kit Kat wrappers in one week, a smaller Pokemon typically doesn’t give up as many Prize cards to your opponent as a bigger Pokemon-EX does. This is the simple Pokemon-EX rule, of course, and I’m sure you guys know that. Despite smaller stats, however, we’ve seen non-EX Pokemon rule Standard for most of the last year, and now I’m going to show you how they still can. Today we’re going to be looking at my top three decks going into the Fort Wayne Regional Championships in a couple weeks. One of these decks may be nearing its end, which I’ll be certain to explain, but all three of these decks remain potent in the present.

Greninja BREAK

We kick things off with the popular Greninja BREAK deck that has seen play since the card’s release in BREAKpoint. With an Ability that can drop six damage counters on any one of your opponent’s Pokemon each turn, you know this guy is going to see play. Shutting down Abilities has always been the most effective way to deal with Greninja in Standard, and Garbodor has never been stronger than it is right now, due to the complete absence of Tool removal. However, very few decks can operate with Garbodor unless they have a big Pokemon-EX to hide behind. Greninja’s ability to deal 80 damage every turn for just one Energy can make life miserable for these EX-centric decks, as you’re going to take KO’s at roughly the same pace as they are. The difference? You’ll be claiming two Prize cards per KO, while your opponent will claim only a single Prize for overcoming your 170 HP Greninja BREAK. Two steps forward, one step back.

Finally, Greninja decks have been awarded a new way to deal with Garbodor as well as dish out spread damage in general. More on that in a moment, though. Here is my current Greninja list for Standard.

Pokemon (18)

3x Greninja BREAK (BKP #41)3x Greninja (BKP #40)1x Greninja (XYPR #62)4x Frogadier (BKP #39)3x Froakie (PRXY #XY138)4x Talonflame (STS #96)

Trainers (32)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)4x N (FAC #105)2x Ace Trainer (AOR #69)1x Teammates (PRC #141)1x Fisherman (BKT #136)1x Lysandre (AOR #78)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Dive Ball (PRC #125)4x Bursting Balloon (BKP #97)2x Super Rod (BKT #149)2x Level Ball (AOR #76)3x Faded Town (AOR #73)

Energy (10)

8x Water Energy (EM #103)2x Splash Energy (BKP #113)

As you can see, this list is build on consistency. So much, in fact, that there are only four cards in the entire list that we aren’t running at least two copies of. One of those cards is our new tech, while the other three are Supporters that we can re-use via VS Seeker.

The New Promo Greninja

Since some of you may not have seen this guy yet, I’d like you to meet the new Promo Greninja. This guy features an attack called Aqua Shower which costs a single Water Energy and deals 20 damage to each of your opponent’s Pokemon. Coupled with one or two uses of Giant Water Shuriken, this can expedite the KO process as well as wash away lower HP Bench-sitters with a couple uses. What really makes this attack special, though, is the perfect math between it and the BREAKpoint Greninja‘s Moonlight Slash. This allows you to wipe out a Garbodor with only one use of Lysandre, even when the aforementioned Trash Heap has a Float Stone attached!

This Greninja also has a mildly useful second attack in the form of Dual Cut, allowing you to flip two coins and deal 60 damage for each heads flip. With two heads, you’re dealing 120 damage on the spot. This becomes 180 with a Giant Water Shuriken added in, which gives you a single-turn KO of any commonly played Pokemon-EX right now. This is a bit of a gamble, however, as you only have a 25% chance of hitting two heads, and an equal chance of flipping two tails and laying an egg instead. Finally, this attack requires two Energy to use, which isn’t something Greninja builds are accustomed to. It’s not an ideal attack to use, but you could roll with it in a pinch if necessary.


M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor – 55 / 45

Contrary to popular belief, I’ve found this matchup to be more favorable than unfavorable. Garbodor is your lone problem here. Sure, Damage Change is annoying, but it’s nothing this deck can’t work around. Between Moonlight Slash and Faded Town, you should be dealing plenty of damage to their Mewtwo and eventually be able to take KOs while retreating into a fresh Greninja BREAK when necessary. The ability to leave your Pokemon with no Energy attached during your opponent’s turn means their M Mewtwo-EX will need a whopping six Energy attached in order to OHKO you, while you can take 2HKO’s for two Prizes apiece pretty consistently with Faded Town in play. Bursting Balloon also comes into play here, supplying six extra damage counters if your opponent pops it. Just remember that Damage Change won’t trigger Bursting Balloon, so be wary of how much damage both Active Pokemon have when you play it, so they can’t simply Damage Change around it.

Darkrai-EX / Giratina-EX / Garbodor – 45 / 55

Unlike Mewtwo, this deck presents a difficult matchup. This stems from Faded Town being a non-factor against their Basic Pokemon-EX as well as Darkrai-EX‘s ability to OHKO a Greninja BREAK relatively easily. Because it takes a few turns to get Greninja BREAK into play, you’re more than susceptible to a 170+ damage Dark Pulse by the time your setup arrives. You’ll also likely be staring down Garbodor, so you’ll need to make the most of your attacks and your Bursting Balloon to score key KOs. Going first definitely helps, but if they manage to hit a few Max Elixir and get some Double Dragon Energy into play, you’re going to be forced to target down Garbodor and then rely on Super Rod to recycle your Greninja lines to grind out a long game. More often then not, this one goes against you.

Rainbow Road – 60 / 40

Unlike the previous two decks, Rainbow Road offers a field full of single-Prize Pokemon with much lower HP than that of M Mewtwo-EX or Darkrai-EXXerneas checks in at 120 HP, and even with a Fighting Fury Belt attached, shouldn’t be too much trouble to get rid of. Just remember that Xerneas can OHKO your Greninja with a single Rainbow Force, so be sure to keep reinforcements ready to go on the Bench. Next, if you see a Joltik early on, make it a priority to get rid of the Lightning Bug before Galvantula comes out and lights up your Benched Froakie for easy Prizes. If you can get two or three Greninja into play, you should have this matchup in the bag. Finally, you can use the Promo Greninja to spread out a bunch of damage in this matchup, leading to several easy KOs after a couple of turns.

Volcanion – 55 / 45

This might seem like a slam dunk on paper. After all, Volcanion-EX forfeits two Prizes and carries a Weakness to Water. In addition, there are no Garbodor to speak of in this matchup. So why shouldn’t you dominate Volcanion? Well, the main problem here is the early game. Greninja is known for playing from behind, but if the Volcanion player is able to take two or three KOs before Greninja sees the board, they’ll likely have one or two heavy hitters ready to go on the Bench and take yet another Prize after Greninja finally BREAK evolves. If you find yourself down four Prize cards early, you’re going to have a heck of an uphill battle to fight. An N to two or three cards can help you here, but you’re eventually going to need a different Supporter to take control, meaning you’ll need them to dead draw for a turn if they gain such a big lead early on. If you go first or manage to start Talonflame, however, you should be able to hold off a first turn KO from Volcanion, putting you in position to set up and control the game after a couple of turns.

Vileplume / Walls – 60 / 40

You should be fine here as long as your opponent doesn’t go first and manage a turn one Vileplume. If that happens, you’ve hopefully led Talonflame and have a Froakie in hand to start setting up. Greninja can overcome Item-lock with a constant flow of draw Supporters and searches from Talonflame, but it’s not going to go as quickly as other matchups do once your Greninja are in play. More often than not, you’ll be using Aero Blitz to pull the cards you need from the deck, setting up a big turn where you can unleash Giant Water Shuriken and KO a Pokemon-EX along with it. If you don’t start with Talonflame and wind up Item locked before your first turn, you may be better off conceding to the next game and going first, depending on what you have to work with.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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