Pokemon TCG Conquest Format — Standard Format Edition

What the Heck Is Conquest?

Throughout its history, all sanctioned Pokemon Trading Card Game events stateside have used a “best of x” Swiss format, followed by top cut rounds. These events are conducted with the same deck through all rounds, with the exception of day two Expanded format events from a while back. Short definition, a “conquest” format is where players bring multiple decks and play a “best of x” against opponent’s lineup of decks. The most common is a “bring three, ban one” that is used in many other popular card games. Let’s say I bring X, Y, and Z to an even, and my opponent bans Z. I must now win a game with both X and Y to win the match and once I win with either, I cannot play that same one again. Furthermore, you need to win a game with each of your remaining decks to win the match!

Now, it goes without saying that this format is more common online as cards are more accessible. Could you imagine doing a conquest format in today’s Expanded format for Pokemon? You could have multiple decks with Tropical Beachwhat a disaster! This format creates a very skill-intensive subplot between matches. You’re not only needing to play well to win but you want to ban the optimal deck and then pick the right lineup of decks yourself. I absolutely love this style of play and recently competed in a small unofficial event using it online.

Ideally, you’ll be bringing three decks in that can win at least two matchups against popular metagame decks. Your opponent’s lineup is going to vary each time, but some lineups may be similar. Techs are not as important in these lists. By playing a tech, you’re asking for that deck to get banned from your match. You want to just play the best list on average for each because you can always ban a deck of your opponent’s that would give you a lot of trouble. In my recent event, I chose to bring Baby Blacephalon, Combo Zacian V, and Dragapult VMAX thought I would never run into an opposing lineup where matchups would outright decide the outcome of the games. Each of these decks is very powerful in their own right and can win multiple matchups within their own wheelhouse.

Going into each of my rounds for this tournament, I liked to make a little thought three of what I thought of my own matchups, predict my opponent’s ban, and then assess my own pick for a ban. I am fairly confident I made the right choices each round with these bans and I’d like to share the data with you. If there’s commentary to be had I’ll share it, as some of my opponent’s may have chosen the wrong bans—or so I may have thought.

You might never play conquest, so you might not immediately care. However, conquest is still an extremely useful tool! The thought behind what to bring and what to ban directly correlates with deck choice for major events when you can’t ban something and you’re stuck facing whatever you’re up against. There’s an overlap here, you’re going to be learning a necessary skill in deciding what you can afford to lose to and what you can’t. The biggest thing in conquest is leaving yourself with two decks that can each win a game against whatever your opponent’s left with after your ban. Likewise, in a Regional Championship-style event, you’re shooting for six-plus wins. If you bring a deck that is going to beat two of three matchups, you’ll wind up with just that. The frequency can dictate a different matchup schedule, but the point remains. Figuring out how to pick reasonable losses and wins against the things you expect to hit most is a needed skill to be successful at a higher level. Here’s how my recent tournament panned out in data form:

Matchup and Ban Analysis with Data

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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