A lot has happened since my last article. School has been a large factor in me not getting an article done in December, but I’m no longer a college student. Now I can focus on moving forward and competing again. It feels great to finally not have school as an obstacle! Now that I’m transitioning into the work force, time is now mine to spend on Pokemon.
I’ve been paying attention to tournament results lately, watching and observing the meta unravel before my own eyes. I’ve only been able to do a little playing, mainly for my upcoming League Cups. Nonetheless, the recent results have been fairly bizarre, to say the least. With dominant performances by Yveltal-EX / Garbodor in every Standard Regionals so far this season, to them not appearing at all in the Top 8 in Dallas — this has been an odd format, indeed.
I’m known to be one of the better Yveltal-EX players — a champion of our favorite Dark-type damage dealer. However, I’ve recently been exploring every option outside of Yveltal-EX. If you would like more info, Eric Gansman has written a great guide covering Yveltal-EX / Garbodor. Although the deck is fairly straightforward, creativity in deck building has shown in the many different variants of this deck that now exist. Michael Pramawat’s winning list didn’t play Trainers' Mail, yet I’ve seen ultra consistent versions of Yveltal-EX / Garbodor that play four Trainers’ Mail.
I like Yveltal-EX, I really do. It’s hard to argue with two incredible attacks and solid typing. I always want to explore other options too. I’m comfortable as an Yveltal-EX player, so I’ve decided to see what else is out there. It doesn’t take much time for me to reacquaint myself with the Dark bird. This article will cover three decks — three non-Yveltal-EX decks that are absolutely solid. These decks have answers to the current meta game and are all solid plays going into Georgia. I will also be covering matchups for each of these decks. Before I describe any of these decks, I’d like to quickly touch on consistency and what my perspective is on it when it comes to testing.
Consistency — Is Trainers’ Mail Worth it?
Everyone seems to have their own opinion of Trainers' Mail; I believe that it’s the most polarizing consistency card in the Pokemon TCG. Ever since Michael Pramawat’s triumph without the help of my namesake card, players have been debating its usefulness. Many have contemplated strictly playing more Supporters instead.
For me, the inclusion of this card depends on the deck. Of course, having copies of the card will always make your deck more consistent, but cutting three copies of the card for a couple more Supporters or even one more copy of N or Professor Sycamore will give you more options for techs.
Andrew Mahone wrote about Trainers’ Mail in his article covering Parallel City. His explanation for the card is the best I’ve ever seen. Trainers’ Mail is a combo-generating card. It is needed to extend hands in order to nail cards at specific times. This is absolutely necessary in Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick and Archie's Ace in the Hole decks in Expanded. It’s also crucial in Mega Evolution decks too, since you need to chain Basic Pokemon-EX, Spirit Link and the Mega Evolutions as quickly as possible.
I’ve been removing Trainers’ Mail from my decks for a while now. My Worlds 2016 Waterbox deck didn’t sport any copies. Even though it would be helpful for Waterbox to nail multiple attachments turn one to get off an immediate Quaking Punch, I didn’t prioritize it. If you want a turn one Evil Ball, hitting Max Elixir early is necessary. It’s amazing being able to use that attack so early, but do you prioritize that over other tech cards such as Enhanced Hammer?
Yveltal-EX / Garbodor doesn’t exactly need to hit cards in a specific order. Sure, you have an Evolution, but all you need to do is attach Energy and attack. Therefore, Yveltal-EX / Garbodor doesn’t need Trainers’ Mail. Case closed, right?
Not really. Like I mentioned before, if your number one priority is a turn one Evil Ball, you better play some Trainers’ Mail. You will typically need to hit a Max Elixir and a Float Stone turn one in order to pull this off. If you would simply like a more consistent deck all-around, Trainers’ Mail tends to achieve that nicely. One of my early mentors and one of my favorite players, Jay Hornung, always played the most consistent version of the best deck in format. He’d totally be playing three or four Trainers’ Mail in an Yveltal-EX / Garbodor deck right now if he still played.
These principles apply to other decks as well. If you feel that your deck isn’t a combo-based deck, maybe see about cutting the Trainers’ Mail and adding those techs you want. Your deck may be less consistent, but you can always put them back in. This is why we test!
Pidgeot / Garbodor / Jolteon
I got tipped off about Pidgeot-EX possibly not being straight garbage by Andrew Krekeler. He had a version of this deck prior to Ft. Wayne that sported Metal Energy and Metal-type attackers, since M Gardevoir-EX was a big deck at the time.
Pidgeot-EX is a strong attacker when you pair it with cards like Max Potion. Taking a hit, then using Max Potion to remove the damage before hitting them back for the same damage, for only one Energy, is simply a solid strategy. You can add some bulkiness with Fighting Fury Belt as well.
I’ve tested this list a little bit, but I didn’t have a whole lot of time. Plus, I was already strong on M Scizor-EX / Raticate and M Gardevoir-EX. My good friend Austen Vance made this list that sports Jolteon-EX instead of Metal attackers, such as Magearna-EX.
Austen and I tend to have similar deck building styles; Austen’s lists are generally ones that I don’t change much since him and I have similar preferences. I’ve played and tested his list, card-for-card, many times and have come to the following conclusions about the cards in the deck and its matchups.
Garbodor is needed (also with copies of Parallel City) to hold down those pesky Sky Field decks that I wrote about in my last article. They will overwhelm you too quickly since they now have access to Dragonite-EX for insane recovery. Garbodor makes things a bit more difficult for them since they will no longer be able to use Dragonite-EX and Shaymin-EX.
This trash bag also has the added benefit of slowing down Volcanion-EX and Greninja decks. They aren’t exactly issues for this deck, but Garbodor is solid against them. Garbodor is one of the best cards in the game right now. If a deck doesn’t rely on Abilities at all and can fit a 2-2 line in the deck, then I would highly suggest playing it.
The main attacker! This deck’s whole gimmick is reliant on the first attack of this card, Mirror Move. We can use Feather Lance until Pidgeot-EX gets attacked, and then we can use Max Potion in conjunction with Mirror Move the rest of the game. It’s bad news if this guy gets one-shot repeatedly, so we need to sport a heavy Fighting Fury Belt line in this deck to keep this guy alive.
Jolteon-EX is a good card that has found its way back into decks recently. Yveltal-EX is always going to have a tough time with this card; therefore, it’s naturally a preferred attacker in any Colorless-based decks. Ignoring the Weakness of Yveltal-EX, that deck is comprised soley of Basic Pokemon attackers. Volcanion-EX is another deck that only attacks with Basics. That’s two of the most popular decks that Jolteon does well against. I’m aware that Pokemon Ranger exists, but most Yveltal-EX decks aren’t running it and Volcanion-EX will need to hit two Pokémon Ranger to Knock Out a Jolteon if you have Garbodor in play.
Any other deck that attacks with primarily Basic attackers will have a frustrating time dealing with Jolteon-EX.
Delinquent finds its way into just about every deck I play. It catches so many players off guard. If any of you guys watched the stream, you saw a deadly play by our own, Jimmy Pendarvis, against Andrew Mahone in the finals of Ft. Wayne Regionals using Delinquent to strip Andrew’s hand away. This is a death sentence for most players since tempo is a big deal in the Pokemon TCG.
2 Enhanced Hammer
Enhanced Hammer is an incredibly good card right now since a lot of decks rely on Double Colorless Energy. This card slows them down a bit and may cause them to skip an attack altogether. I’ve found this card to be particularly devastating against Yveltal with the Pitch Black Spear attack. That card can wreck havoc on this EX-based deck.
4 Max Potion
I mentioned above that Max Potion is a big part of this deck’s strategy, since it allows you to completely heal yourself. Pidgeot-EX combos so well with this card that four copies seems natural to play. Taking a hit from an opposing Pokemon, not suffering the damage from it, and duking it back to the opposing Pokemon is incredible!
Yveltal / Garbodor 70-30
This should be an incredibly favorable matchup thanks to Jolteon-EX. Even Pidgeot-EX is a formidable attacker with Max Potion to swing the two-shot war around. You also play your own pair of Enhanced Hammer; this will make things difficult for the Yveltal-EX player.
The only thing that can help Yveltal-EX win, is a Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer combo play. If the Yveltal-EX player nails one of these combos, it will take your Jolteon-EX out of commission for a turn. Pidgeot-EX needs two Energy to attack without getting attacked first, so this does create an awkward situation. My suggestion is to try and stack four Energy onto Jolteon-EX, preferably a Double Colorless Energy and two Lightning Energy. Even if this combo is hit by the Yveltal-EX player, you can simply attach another Double Colorless Energy and attack again using Flash Ray.
This isn’t as favorable as the Yveltal-EX matchup because this matchup is heavily reliant on getting out Garbodor. Without Garbodor, your Pidgeot-EX will get Knocked Out in one hit repeatedly, and things will go south for you quickly.
With Garbodor, however, they cannot one-shot any of your Pokemon except for Shaymin-EX and Garbodor. This is pretty big since they would need to hit two Pokémon Ranger to Knock Out Jolteon-EX, assuming it attacks every turn. They also open themselves up to getting Mirror Moved by Pidgeot.
This is a fairly favorable matchup for you because, even without Jolteon, you will win the two-shot war thanks to Max Potion.
I consider this a 40-60 matchup because you absolutely need Garbodor and it needs to stay safe. If you do not get Garbodor, you’re in big trouble. You’re two-shotting Greninja no matter what, and you’re only taking one Prize each time. Even with Garbodor out, it’s still rough going for this deck, especially if they play their own Max Potion.
If you do not get Garbodor out or if it gets Knocked Out early, it doesn’t take much time to watch your deck fall apart to Greninja’s damage output and attrition game. Mirror Move hits for 80, at the most, which is what Feather Lance hits for anyway. Fighting Fury belt helps you set up two-hit Knock Outs on Greninja BREAK, but again, your Prize exchange simply isn’t good enough since they take two Prizes every time to your one.
Mega Gardevoir 40-60
Mega decks are generally bad news for you. Their one-shot Knock Out potential is great and Pidgeot-EX suffers from it. This is where the Metal version of this deck would be advantageous. With that said, your Yveltal-EX matchup wouldn’t be as favorable. It’s a matter of properly analyzing the current meta game.
M Gardevoir-EX needs to be contained by the use of Garbodor and Parallel City. You must prevent them from using Rattata and filling their Bench in order for you to stay alive. If they have their Abilities active, it is incredibly easy for them to keep their engine going with Dragonite-EX and Shaymin-EX.
This deck is incredible if you know Yveltal-EX decks are going to be prevalent in your meta. I suggest giving it a shot. You’ll love the synergy between Pidgeot-EX and Max Potion.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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