Small is Good – The Beauty of Single-Prize Attackers

Hello everyone, I’m back again with an article for y’all. For the next 4,000 words, I’ll be taking you through a few single-Prize attacker decks and how they are positioned for the upcoming major tournaments in both the Standard and Expanded formats. Without further ado, let’s jump into it.

With the addition of Sword and Shield into our Standard format, it gave a much-needed consistency boost to single-Prize decks with cards like Quick Ball or Professor's Research. Ever since rotation, these archetypes have lacked a consistent method of setup and have had no turbo support, settling for slower search options like Green's Exploration. With these new speedy cards, single-Prize decks will be able to keep up with big TAG TEAM HP and consistently set up.

Before I go further, I’ll quickly explain what a single-Prize attacking deck (or SPAD for short) consists of.

The notable definition of a SPAD is:

  • The deck consists of the main attacker that is not a Pokemon-GX or -EX
  • The deck’s main win condition is taking all six Prize cards rather than stalling or benching out the opponent

And that’s it! In my last article, I touched on what I believed was a strong counter to a GX/EX focused meta: defensive decks that try to outlast the opponent and their initial swing as well as single-Prize decks that can trade evenly with high-HP TAG TEAMS at a 2-to-1 ratio (which is a favorable three to two Prize card exchange). For further explanation of this idea of utilizing a “better value” attacker, see that article. In both Standard and Expanded right now I believe there is a big opening for SPADs since much of the meta’s focus is on new Pokemon V and Pokemon VMAX. The simple truth is that single-Prize decks are favored against two- or three-Prize decks because Pokemon is still a game of attrition. By giving up less Prize cards for the same amount of Knock Outs, a single-Prize deck will always win against any multi-Prize deck.

Standard: Baby Blacephalon

For the upcoming Oceania International Championships, it will be the first major event with Sword and Shield legal. From my testing, here are few major decks I expect to show up and their popularity:

As you can see, with the exception of the new Galarian Obstagoon deck or Cinccino Mill deck, the meta for OCIC is largely a GX meta. Thus, my leading pick, if I were to go, would be Baby Blacephalon, an already established deck with a Regional Championship under its belt by our very own Stéphane Ivanoff.

Here’s the list I’ve been working on:

 

Pokemon (11)

4x Blacephalon (UNB #32)4x Jirachi (TEU #99)1x Victini Prism Star (DRM #7)1x Blacephalon-GX (LOT #52)1x Oricorio-GX (COE #95)

Trainers (33)

4x Welder (UNB #189)4x Pokégear 3.0 (UNB #182)4x Fiery Flint (DRM #60)4x Fire Crystal (UNB #173)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)3x Acro Bike (CES #123)2x Switch (SWSH1 #183)2x Escape Board (ULP #122)2x Lucky Egg (SWSH1 #167)1x Great Catcher (COE #192)1x Pal Pad (SWSH1 #172)1x Ultra Space (FOL #115)1x Heat Factory Prism Star (LOT #178)

Energy (16)

16x Fire Energy (RS #108)

Contrary to Stephane’s Green’s Exploration build of the deck, I am a firm believer in Jirachi TEU as the engine. With the new Supporter rule change preventing you from using Green’s Exploration on the first turn, being forced to go first hinders the deck’s goal of trying to go toe-to-toe in Knock Outs immensely.

One Oricorio-GX

I find myself often simply lacking cards to discard for Fiery Flint or Quick Ball without being able to hold combo pieces for a big Knock Out. Oricorio-GX fills this role, both as a card to discard as well or a card to find more cards throughout the course of the game. My general rule for playing Oricorio-GX down is to ask myself whether using Dance of Tribute is necessary for that particular turn. I take into account the matchup I am against and the number of gust cards (Great Catcher, Custom Catcher, or Pokémon Catcher) that my opponent has used. Take note however; make sure that the Baby Blacephalon player will take all of his or her Prizes before the opponent, even if they do gust up Oricorio-GX and Knock it Out. If there are too many variables to know for certain whether the opponent can gust up Oricorio-GX, then use your best judgment.

Two Lucky Egg

Lucky Egg is the best card in the deck by far. Oftentimes, it negates a Reset Stamp entirely and can be placed on Jirachi in early game situations. I find the best use of Lucky Egg is to place it down onto a Blacephalon on the turn that I will have two or three Prizes remaining. This almost ensures that I will win the game on the next turn.

One Great Catcher

Being able to gust up a Dedenne-GX for a game or a big TAG TEAM threat is too good to pass up. A second copy would be my 61st addition if possible. Without Green’s Exploration, Custom Catcher is not enough value and can’t be consistently found with only Welder or Heat Factory Prism Star. No Custom Catcher also means no way around Galarian Obstagoon’s Obstruct — an autoloss matchup I believe is OK to take due to its waning popularity.

Other Options + How to Play

Beast Energy Prism Star

Beast Energy Prism Star could be very good against a big TAG TEAM like an Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX, allowing you to discard only 5 Energy as opposed to 6, but it cannot be searched and must be manually attached for turn. I do not think Beast Energy is consistent enough to warrant a slot in the deck, so I have excluded it.

Beast Ring

Beast Ring would be amazing in a Green’s Exploration build of Baby Blacephalon. However, Beast Ring is never in my hand when my opponent is at three or four Prize cards, so I would not include it.

General Tips about Playing the Deck:

Against TAG TEAM decks – In the early game, I don’t worry about letting a Jirachi go down if I can respond with a Knock Out onto a TAG TEAM or GX/V. However, against ADP / Zacian V, it is a race to see who can take six Prizes first. One must go all out to rush the opponent first due to Altered Creation GX removing single-Prize status.

Against other SPADs – Turbo, turbo, turbo. Try to get the first Knock Out and do not put down Oricorio-GX if you are able. Near the end of the game, remember Burst GX is an option as well as Victini Prism Star’s Infinity to reset Energy (Side Bonus: Victini Prism Star only needs 2 Fire Energy to attack). Use Great Catcher to take a Knock Out on a non-single Prize Pokemon immediately if possible.

Matchups

ADP / Zacian V – Favored

Baby Blacephalon’s one-shot potential is needed to rush the opponent before Altered Creation GX can come into play. Take Knock Outs on whatever is available, and remember that Victini only needs 6 Energy in the discard to KO a Zacian V. Go first in this matchup if possible.

Frosmoth / Mewtwo and Mew-GX / Palkia-GX – Favored

Frosmoth should take a lot of time to set up and get running, so make sure you get a KO or two by the time they get set up. Then, trade attackers with your opponent until you win. Go first in this matchup if possible.

Cinccino Mill – Unfavored

Try to get Knock Outs on Zacian V; otherwise, there is not much to do. Personally, I do not respect Cinccino Mill since the deck should lose / tie to a Girafarig or opposing Resource Management Oranguru. Cinccino Mill should also struggle against ADP / Zacian V. Go second in this matchup if possible.

Mirror Match – Even

The mirror match comes down to who can score a Prize first. Check your Prize cards for Fire Energy and then use Blacephalon’s Blazer if it is appropriate on an opposing Jirachi. Past this, just stream attackers until you win! Victini Prism Star oftentimes can make a huge difference by getting a Knock Out if one cannot find a Welder each turn. Go first in this matchup if possible.

Galarian Obstagoon – Unfavored

Unfortunately, there are no options against Galarian Obstagoon’s Obstruct without sacking huge consistency cuts for Custom Catcher or some Evolution Pokemon. Galarian Obstagoon is overhyped to a degree since the deck loses to many matchups that can utilize Phione and Custom Catcher to reset Obstruct. However, if one sits across from a Galarian Obstagoon deck, use Blazer and Fireball Circus to try to rush the opponent before he or she can set up a Galarian Obstagoon. Go first in this matchup if possible.

Mewtwo and Mew-GX / Malamar – Favored

With Lucky Egg, do not be afraid of Mewtwo and Mew-GX using Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX’s Night Watch attack to shuffle the hand away. Be wary of Horror House GX on turn 1, so don’t get caught without a Pokemon on the Bench. My game plan is usually to take two TAG TEAM Knock Outs or one TAG TEAM Knock Out, a Dedenne-GX KO, and a single Prize from somewhere else. Shy away from putting Oricorio-GX in play since Malamar players tend to run a Naganadel-GX. The matchup should be a breeze, especially with the option of Victini Prism Star to take a One-Hit Knock Out on a TAG TEAM if needed.

Expanded: Ultra Necrozma and Friends

In Standard, baby Blacephalon has a lot of positives and not a lot of negatives. I would run the deck for OCIC if I could and I will for any Cups I attend. For those of us not attending OCIC, the next few Regional Championships are in the Expanded format; luckily, the meta from Dallas and moving forward with Sword and Shield is also multi-Prize focused. From testing, two SPADs stand out in Expanded for their consistency and matchup spread: baby Ultra Necrozma and Vespiquen / Flareon. Both of these decks are very similar, operating through swarming the opponent with lots of attackers and eventually trading one for one with Pokemon-GXs, EXs, and Vs.

Here’s my list for baby Ultra Necrozma and Friends:

Pokemon (12)

4x Ultra Necrozma (COE #164)1x Mimikyu (TEU #112)1x Sudowoodo (BKP #67)1x Buzzwole (FOL #77)1x Nihilego (LOT #106)2x Octillery (BKT #33)2x Remoraid (BKT #32)

Trainers (41)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)1x N (NVI #92)1x Guzma (BUS #115)1x Guzma and Hala (COE #193)1x Teammates (PRC #141)1x Pokémon Ranger (STS #104)4x VS Seeker (RSK #110)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)4x Nest Ball (SM #123)3x Choice Band (GUR #121)3x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)2x Great Catcher (COE #192)2x Field Blower (GUR #125)1x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)1x Special Charge (STS #105)1x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)4x Silent Lab (PRC #140)

Energy (7)

4x Double Dragon Energy (RSK #97)2x Counter Energy (CRI #100)1x Beast Energy Prism Star (FOL #117)

There are not many surprises, since the deck is optimized for the turn 1 attack: I prefer Octillery to Garbodor as support and a small Ultra Beast package is needed to swing certain matchups. The deck is a lean, mean, and consistent machine. Since I often am able to get the turn 1 attack off, I choose to go second when I can.

Friends and Other Techs

Mimikyu / Sudowoodo / Buzzwole / Nihilego

These different attackers are useful in various matchups to ensure that the Prize exchange is favored. Fairy Mimikyu is my favorite; it is used against ADP, Garchomp and Giratina-GX, or any other big Dragon threat. Sudowoodo and Buzzwole are used against Turbo Dark and Pikarom to score a OHKO. Finally, Nihilego is used against everything since it can copy powerful GX attacks with Nightcap. Something to keep in mind is that both Mimikyu and Sudowoodo can Knock Out Zacian V by copying Brave Blade — a play I often use against Turbo Metal.

Beast Energy Prism Star

Beast Energy goes hand in hand with the Ultra Beast package; it allows Buzzwole to hit 150 damage on a Sledgehammer turn, which is enough to KO a Greninja and Zoroark-GX with Weakness. In addition, it acts as an extra Energy for Nihilego. Finally, under extreme circumstances, it allows Ultra Necrozma to reach 230 damage, which is an OHKO on a Zacian V or Zoroark-GX.

Pokemon Ranger

Pokémon Ranger is necessary to reset Altered Creation GX, which would be a huge issue otherwise. Also, it gets around any attacks restricting Special Energy, like Noivern-GX‘s Sonic Volume. It also helps against any decks running Jolteon-EX or Seismitoad-EX. Overall, I would always run Pokemon Ranger in Expanded since the variance in the meta shifts quickly and a large number of decks can be countered with a single copy.

Two Great Catcher

As in baby Blacephalon, Great Catcher is an amazing card that allows you to close games or take on a threat early. I always use Great Catcher for 3-4 Prizes on a combination of two Shaymin-EX, Dedenne-GX, or Tapu Lele-GX. Using Teammates to grab a Great Catcher and a combo piece need is a strong play.

Other Options + How to Play

Stealthy Hood

Stealthy Hood would help against any Rowlet and Alolan Exeggutor-GX decks running Vileplume BUS. Theoretically, the inclusion of Wobbuffet and a Stealthy Hood or two should beat EggRow, but I will need to test more. In general, Stealthy Hood does not provide much value and tends to be overshadowed by more versatile techs like Pokemon Ranger.

Energy Loto

I have never had trouble finding Energy, yet Energy Loto would solve this problem if I did. I prefer to run Guzma and Hala and Teammates as ways to find Energy, however, feel free to run an Energy Loto over Guzma & Hala if you would like to.

2-1/1 Garbodor

There is merit to running a thin Garbodor line with both Garbotoxin as well as Trashalanche, but I focused on consistency. In the late game without Octillery, the deck struggles to find a Guzma or Double Dragon Energy or such. If I were to include a line, I would cut the Octillery line for a 2-1-1 line of Garbodor and cut Ultra Ball for Mysterious Treasure. In addition, one would have to cut Beast Energy for a Rainbow Energy (remember Counter Energy still works on Garbodor GUR). In order to beat EggRow with a Garbodor line, one would have to cut something for a Wobbuffet, likely a Great Catcher or Float Stone. Overall, the benefits compared to the costs of running Garbodor is not a good trade; I am fond of maximizing consistency for Regional tournaments.

Try to always set up a turn 2 Octillery, since the deck never fails to require a piece for a Knock Out. Make sure to thin the deck properly, since a late game N by the opponent can still brick your hands. Conserve Silent Lab as it is your most important resource; use Field Blower on any Chaotic Swell.


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