“Nine Lives, Nine Tales” — A look at Alolan Ninetales-GX / Po Town
Hey there trainers! The last time I wrote an article for PokeBeach, I was discussing how I thought Greninja / Talonflame would be an exciting play for the Fort Wayne Regional Championships! Unfortunately, the mass of people playing Giratina in their decks countered Greninja hard and prevented it from making the final Top 32 cut. Expanded is always going to be a little bit of a tough format since there are so many cards that can crutch certain decks, but Standard is a whole different ball game!
In Standard, there are only a set number of popular decks right now, as well as a smaller card pool, but this makes it much easier to exploit certain weaknesses, whether that be the opponent’s deck construction or just their choice of deck. Michael Pramawat recently did well at a League Cup with his Alolan Ninetales-GX / Po Town deck, and I figured it would benefit the readers if I were to shed some light on that today.
The ingenious Pramawat took oil and vinegar and pieced it together into one monstrosity of a deck that manages to take on a majority of the format! He’s always been a daring player, and this list he provided us with demonstrates just that. Today, we’ll be looking at Alolan Ninetales from a new stance, and evaluating its strengths, weaknesses, and playability for the next standard Regional Championships in Hartford, CT!
Pramawat’s Alolan Ninetails / Po Town
The strategy of this deck is to use Aqua Patch to accelerate Energy onto Alolan Ninetales-GX, all the while spreading mass amounts of damage with Tapu Koko and Po Town. This deck can shift between two strategies — it can either go for intensive spread, including several Flying Flips followed by a Miraculous Shine from Espeon-EX, or it can go for brute OHKO’s from Ninetales’ Blizzard Edge attack, softened up from Po Town/Flying Flip. It’s truly versatile in a way that it can react to whatever deck the opponent is running, and doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses on the surface. Tapu Fini-GX adds a nice touch to the deck, being able to snipe any loose Pokemon off of the Bench, as well as threaten a Tapu Storm-GX at any time!
This deck’s consistency is also unparalleled as well, because of Alolan Vuplix’s attack Beacon. Beacon is such a strong attack in a format where there isn’t a lot of draw power — and when combined with support Pokemon such as Tapu Lele-GX and Octillery, it becomes an engine on its own.
Let’s go into some of the reasons why Pramawat played the counts he did.
Our main attacker, Alolan Ninetales-GX, is a Water-type GX Pokemon with a towering 210 HP. For a Stage 1, that’s actually a very high number! This makes it relatively difficult for a lot of Pokemon to OHKO it, barring the obvious Gardevoir-GX. It has weakness to Metal-type Pokemon, so we’re namely looking at Magearna-EX and Metagross-GX. This Weakness is fine, as Metal-type Pokemon aren’t exactly prevailing in high number right now, and if they are, Volcanion-EX and Fire-type friends are likely going to overshadow our Steel enemies. We have a Retreat Cost of one, which is fine as well. Overall, the stats on this card are superb!
Alolan Ninetales is such a violent and versatile attacker, with several options. Upon the gauntlet of attacks, we have Ice Blade, a simple 50 damage snipe for a Double Colourless attachment. This is a great attack to prepare Pokemon for future KO’s, as well as setup cute devolution plays with Espeon-EX. Sometimes, I’ll sacrifice my first Ninetales in order to repeatedly use Ice Blade to setup key knockouts throughout the game. This isn’t our main attack, but it sure packs a punch for an efficient single energy attachment.
The second attack we have is the main attraction of the deck — Blizzard Edge! Blizzard Edge has a rather unusual damage output of 160. I can’t really name off any Pokemon that has that number printed on their card, but that just makes Ninetales all the more unique. The number may be odd, but the math works: with the addition of Choice Band, as well as any previous damage from Po Town and Flying Flip, this number can range anywhere from 160-260. With one Po Town effect, two Flying Flips, a Choice Band, and a Blizzard Edge, we can effectively KO a Metagross-GX. This attack’s drawback? We have to discard two Energy from Alolan Ninetales. In order to cope with this cost, we’ll usually be discarding a Double Colorless to pay for it; this makes it easier to stream multiple Blizzard Edges. What a beast of an attack!
Other than that, Alolan Ninetails-GX has one of my favorite GX attacks — Ice Path GX. Ice Path GX is reminiscent of Mewtwo-EX‘s Damage Change from earlier last season, and we all know how effective that was! Being able to heal all damage off of Ninetales is insane when coupled with the ability to damage our opponent’s Active simultaneously. Consider this GX attack a cherry on top of our otherwise mile-high sundae. Bon appetite!
1 Alolan Ninetales
While this may not be the main course of the deck, this appetizer surely can spice up a couple of matchups. We play one copy of this card because of its ability, Luminous Barrier, which makes it immune to damage from Pokemon-EX and GX. This card is very situational, and is very fragile — however, when timed correctly, can be an unstoppable force, as well as a win condition. If our opponent doesn’t have any non-EX or non-GX Pokemon in their deck, we’ll automatically win provided we can setup this bad boy! Its attack hits for 80 damage at a time, which is fair in my opinion given the amount of Energy it requires. Overall, a solid addition to the deck to add a perfect element of surprise. Without it, the deck would pose one less threat!
4 Alolan Vuplix
This is arguably the best starter Pokemon in the entirety of Standard right now! It’s such a blessing that we get to play four as our Basic to the main attacker in this deck. For those unfamiliar with the attack, Beacon is an Energyless attack that allows for us to search our deck for any two Pokemon. This can help setup multiple Ninetales, grab extra Vulpix, or even nab ourselves a Tapu Lele-GX in order to search for a Supporter during our next turn. This card makes the deck ridiculously consistent, to the point where a hand is truly never dead!
2 Tapu Lele-GX
Two copies of this card is really all you’ll need, since you have the added consistency of Vulpix, as well as the board establishment from Octillery! Tapu Lele-GX becomes less of a necessary card in decks that have supplementary cards to accompany it. With all of the spread that takes place in this deck, Energy Drive becomes a stronger force; 80 damage is sometimes enough to KO some Pokemon in one direct attack! That’s only four Energy away, however, any extra Energy attachments we have to make will most likely be going onto a Ninetales of some sort, so be sure to plan those accordingly.
Octillery is a nice inclusion in this deck for multiple reasons, and holds synergy within the deck as well! Let’s look at the basic principles of the deck — Octillery is a Stage 1 Pokemon that involves you having to find both the basic, Remoraid, as well as the evolution, Octillery. Since we play Alolan Vulpix, we’re able to search out this line whenever we’d like in the first few opening turns. This strategy is simple, yet effective when setting up your board state. Octillery offers you extended draw throughout the game, and lends its merits turn after turn. If you average eight turns a game and have an Octillery out for seven of them, at an average of 2.5 cards drawn per Abyssal Hand, you’ll effectively draw 15 cards additionally during the game!
Abyssal Hand is also great at bouncing back from N, which seems to be the crux of the current format. Without VS Seeker, there are less outs to naturally drawing out of late-game N draws, and most players rely on running hot. I’ve been enjoying the trend of players including Oranguru in their decks as well, but the thing I like most about this Ninetales deck is that Octillery doesn’t feel like a hassle to setup; it comes together naturally.
Octillery also aids you in drawing into your Aqua Patches, which are truly the heart and soul of the deck. Without a consistent way to draw into Aqua Patches, I feel like this deck falls prey to much faster decks. Aqua Patch is mandatory in order to keep up pace with other decks! In a nutshell, Octillery integrates so well into this deck, and it would be a disservice to not include it. Remoraid also makes a fantastic Brooklet Hill target if your opponent plays down this Stadium!
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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