Countering the Phantom Menace – Optimizing Raging Bolt for NAIC

After Japan showed us a preview of the Twilight Masquerade format, it looked like Dragapult ex was going to dominate. Lugia VSTAR, Gardevoir ex, and Miraidon ex looked to be the other early frontrunners of this new format. However, for one reason or another, or maybe no reason at all, Raging Bolt ex was almost absent from Japan’s results. As the online meta has rapidly developed, people have started playing Raging Bolt en masse alongside Teal Mask Ogerpon ex. This deck is pretty nuts, as it is insanely fast, powerful, and consistent. It counters Dragapult and has a decent matchup spread across the board. Most notably, it is weak against some decks that attack with single-Prize Pokemon. Raging Bolt has more or less replaced Miraidon’s spot in the meta. Although Raging Bolt doesn’t have easy access to Iron Hands ex like Miraidon does, it feels like a mostly superior deck and also has a strong matchup into Miraidon.

I’ve gotten the chance to test Raging Bolt, and the deck has been a lot better than I expected. I was initially skeptical of the sudden hype and increase of Raging Bolt usage, but the deck works very well and has just about everything you could ask for. Although it is a bit linear, it is simply too effective at what it does for that to matter. Sometimes blowing up your opponent’s Active is good enough. In addition to absurd firepower, Raging Bolt boasts 240 HP, which becomes 290 HP with Bravery Charm. This is an absolute unit and is quite annoying for other decks to deal with. Even Bloodmoon Ursaluna ex or Radiant Charizard need a gust or some sort of damage supplement to deal with it. This deck is also fast and consistent, drawing tons of cards with Squawkabilly exRadiant Greninja, and Teal Mask Ogerpon ex, usually getting to that turn 1 Professor Sada's Vitality.

While the lists are all pretty similar, there are some cards that are points of contention. PokéStop and Trekking Shoes are turbo cards that I am usually a huge fan of. I initially thought these cards would be mandatory inclusions in a fast deck like this one, but there are some downsides. The deck has to play a lot of Energy, and therefore has fewer Item cards than some other Turbo decks (such as Lost Box). PokeStop works best after you’ve thinned your deck out of Energy and Pokemon with the likes of Earthen Vessel and Nest Ball, but those are the cards you want to find off PokeStop in order to set up. I’ve found that PokeStop is surprisingly not needed, and more reliable cards are preferred. Trekking Shoes, by extension, works best with PokeStop, and it’s certainly a decent card, but also isn’t needed. I wouldn’t be opposed to playing these cards in the deck, but they’re not in my current list.

On the other hand, there are a few common cards that I think are pretty bad: Cornerstone Mask Ogerpon ex and Bug Catching Set. Bug Catching Set looks like a nice consistency booster at first glance, but again, you’d rather play more reliable cards. More often than not, Bug Catching Set finds nothing or gets Ultra Balled away. Cornerstone Mask Ogerpon ex is just a blank card. Its Ability seems good, but most decks have a reliable answer to it. Furthermore, this deck has no real way to accelerate Energy to this Ogerpon, so opponents have plenty of time to find their response or gust around it. Cornerstone Mask Ogerpon ex is basically only beating Charizard ex, which is neat, but not nearly as valuable as it would have been in the previous format.

I am pretty happy with my current list. It isn’t anything special, but has been refined through testing. I think this deck is nuts:

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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