Discussion Multiple Stage 2 Drop Off in Meta

Discussion in 'PTCG Competitive Play' started by Lewcurio, May 15, 2018.

  1. Lewcurio Aspiring Trainer


    Question and/or discussion point here.

    When I started playing before I dropped out of the game, I distinctly remember Dusknoir/Empoleon being a popular deck. How did two stage 2's in a deck actually hold up well in the "meta" (assuming it was meta) at the time? And why wouldn't it work by today's standards?

    My curiosity is peaked because of the announcement of the new Sceptile. I thought Vikavolt would potentially be a good partner for it, but would it really?

  2. Otaku The wise fool?


    It is quite rare for two Stage 2 Pokémon to function well in a deck outside of radical Evolution acceleration (like Rare Candy pre-errata). I seem to recall that Dusknoir/Empoleon was competitive but not among the top decks. Sort of a "You must defeat Dusknoir/Empoleon to stand a chance."
  3. gema5 Aspiring Trainer


    I think the EX era restarted a situation that standed in vintage TCG for many seasons, but in a even worse scenario: meta's sheer speed.

    Brute force of Basics is being skyrocketed, while Stage 2s are relatively weak. Our last true meta defining Stage 2 was an extremely overpowered card (garde) that got countered by absolute meta control from the Pokemon Company (or whoever makes the cardgame). Greninja BREAK was good back then, but with tons of zoroarks and octilerys around and Acerola abuse, N strategy has become less attractive.

    Fast paced meta gives hard time to previous forms of those cards, because having buzzwole hitting 90dmg +30benched for 1 energy T2 makes evolving TOUGH and EXPENSIVE (you'll lose 1 or 2 prizes in order to get a St2 going); Free random Lysandres by lycanroc, All forms of necrozma are basics, zoroark hitting 100 for 1 DCE and trading as hell... I'm hoping Salamence and Dragonite stand out

    Eventual uses of stage 2 you may find around are: gardevoir gx and random mons that got nice abilities. Greninja GX is coming, though.

    And, of course, no non-GX stage 2, as they tend to not reach needed KOs and are easily KOed by any GX that has a 3 energy 160 power attack.
  4. PlatinumDude Aspiring Trainer


    Have you forgotten about Empoleon and Garchomp? Empoleon threatens opposing huge benches with a strong Total Command (that can OHKO Zoroark with a Choice Band), while Royal Blades Garchomp can do big damage after a Cynthia is used; the Fighting version can OHKO a Zoroark without the need for Cynthia with a Choice Band or Strong energy.
  5. gema5 Aspiring Trainer


    Yes, PlatinumDude, while writing that text, I thought about including Empoleon and Chomp into, but hey, cmon... both get KOd by any 160+ hit, which is easy to reach, and empoleon specifically depends of your opponent's moves, something not much reliable. This is not the main problem, though, as the low HP doesnt pay the huge Stage 2 setting cost.

    Now, talking about chomp, the fighting one excites me the most. I love the Lucario Chomp Cynthia combo being able to guzma some pesky zoroark and being able to KO even without Cynthia, but the main engine of the deck (Lucario) is easily targeted and KOed by almost any serious attacker. However, those high damage outputs from garchomp (CB + Strong = 250) surely are a very nice tradeoff, considering it's a 1 prize attacker. Sad thing is that strong energy is rotating soon.

    But even with all those nice sides, you can only agree with me: they are very good structures and might catch from surprise TopDecks, either by getting sucessive good draws themselves, bad draws from opponent (general luck is part of any cardgame), or/and good playing from experienced players, but Tier1 playing is mainly (not only) for buzz/zoro and variants, and recently disputed by necrozma variants and glaceon in some cases. That's not what I wanted for the general playing, I'm a great fan of Stage 2s.
    Lewcurio likes this.
  6. Attix Electric Delivery Driver from Washington


    I'm trying to streamline my deck to only rely on basics for this reason. The only stage 2 in my deck is essentially a support pylon that doesn't even attack.
  7. Otaku The wise fool?


    History lesson time! This will be a very general overview, so feel free to ask (or just mention) exceptions!

    Before the concept of set-rotation was introduced, and the term "Standard" actually meant the same as "Unlimited", Stage 2 decks were rare to non-existent. Not dual Stage 2 decks, but single lines! After the release of Neo Genesis and the switch to the original what we originally referred to as "Modified" but which we all call "Standard" now, Stage 2 decks started to take over. During the e-card (card-e?) era that closed out Wizards of the Coast's time with the Pokémon TCG license, things seemed to be in flux.

    EX - Sandstorm introduced the original Rare Candy and Evolutions against resumed dominating the format. In fact, being a non-Evolving Basic usually meant you were lucky to see competitive play. Things flirted with being balanced between the Stages, alternating between what was on top through the rest of the Gen III era into the Gen IV era, then things went insane because of Level Up cards, Pokémon SP, and Broken Time-Space. The first two favored Basic Pokémon, the latter favored Evolutions, but in a sense things were balanced - only the most ridiculously powerful of any Stage were worth using.

    The HeartGold/SoulSilver series of releases transitioned us away from that into mostly powerful Stage 1 decks. We saw the last of the competitive dual Stage 2 decks, at least for a while, as we transitioned into the BW-era. For a while, it looked like a Stage 2 would be lucky to be a Bench-sitter, as Basic Pokémon made a big comeback even before Pokémon-EX were introduced. The XY-era shifted things around a bit, but decks utilizing more than one Stage 2 without some super-cheat were rarely worth it, and it remained so until... well... now. The major exceptions I can think of actually aren't because they included something like Forest of Giant Plants a.k.a. Broken Vine-Space. @[email protected]

    With that said, let me explain something:

    The greatest enemy of Stage 2 decks (in general) are not big Basic Pokémon decks, but pacing. I'm the kind of guy who things a relatively equal balance between all the Stages is what is best for the game; it isn't fun when you know most cards in a particular Stage are going to be bad because that Stage is bad, especially when your favorite is among those affected. =/ This also makes sense for game balance as well. Now, if the end goal is balancing out all the Stages... doesn't it make sense for the end results of all the Stages to be similar?

    Instead of making Evolutions faster or stronger, we need to make the game overall slower. Even without the current first turn rules, if nothing has good offensive attacks they can access for the first few turns of the game, everything has time to Evolve. Set up attacks also become useful. There are several other things that might need to be tweaked alongside it all - like increasing overall HP but not increasing damage output per turn, and "frontloading" HP so that Evolving Basics start out bigger but gain less (relative to now) when they Evolve. That kind of thing.
  8. optimal_max Aspiring Trainer


    No respect for Metagross/Solgaleo??
    Alex Sableye and Otaku like this.
  9. gema5 Aspiring Trainer


    Loved your history, Otaku.

    I can not just forget Haymaker and Slowking/Sneasel. hah!

    I like how BREAK pokémon revived the 1 prize strong cards (level X, primes), but pace was already too fast for most high stage cards (they were effectively stage 2-3 cards).

    In my opinion, stage 2 gameplay is WAY funnier than fast elixir + basic/stage1 drawing cards and wrecking havoc around, because complexity of abilities and attacks of those 'mons are really nice to play!

    And I think we agree in almost every single part of your text, the problem is not the lack of power, but extremely fast pacing. If you look at the most powerful card today (buzzwole, imo), it doesnt have the biggest HP (although it has 190, which is only 40 lower than Gardy's, lol), doesnt hit the hardest, heck, it doesnt even has the best GX. But, this guy can start causing damage in a incredible fast way, which leaves strong stage 2s vulnerable in their weakest point. So, the thing is: current meta favors speedy hitters, while decreases utility of big cards' basic formes.
    IDK why pokemon company did this (let's not bring the money/profit discussion by now), but 1 year ago we had metagross, gardevoir and some others, now the meta is COMPLETELY CHANGED, to the point that a dusk mane necrozma is a better card than metagrossGX in almost all ways (IMO, IMO, IMO).

    The main point is: Fast pacing + super basics/stage 1s is what makes the Stage 2s simply not worth it. A stage 2's basic stage (ralts, gible, froakie, for example) has a tremendous utility gap to the Basic anabolized GXs we have. And even when you manage to succesfully evolve it, after a hard task that involves giving prizes, resource loss and turn loss, they are at ALMOST the same power level. For a sake of comparison, some basics have 190HP, 160+dmg attacks and the F***ng Zoroark GX is a stage 1 with 210 HP (as is golisopod too) with broken ability. Greninja and Gardevoir both have 230HP. Greninja's GX is worse than Entei's, and it's ability is the same as a non GX bat(s).

    ---In ex's era, strong basics were 90-110hp, with some rare 120 ones. Normal basics stayed at 40-60 (same as today, wtf?); Common stage 2 were not higher than 120 (same as highest strong basic exs), while Stage 2 ex 'mons were sitting around 140-160 (almost 50% higher than average for basic ex)!!! Can you se the difference when we compare to nowadays cards? They were worth playing, as the basic exs were too!---

    The new collection is givin us Salamence GX and Dragonite GX, they both seems to be great cards overall, but i'm afraid of the insane power creep Ultra Necrozma brought and the new Rayquaza, who promises somewhat solid 200+dmg in T2-3
  10. JGB146 ♫♪.ılılıll|̲̅̅●̲̅̅|̲̅̅=̲̅̅|̲̅̅●̲̅̅|llılılı.♫♪

    Activities Staff Member

    Gardevoir GX ruled the meta 8 months ago. Things go in waves. Right now we have a lot of strong basics, capable of dealing with powerhouse Stage 2's on sufficiently close footing that the extra speed of basics is winning the race. That won't always be the case. Some of the strength behind basic decks will decline once fighting decks lose strong energy and similar things in rotation.
  11. Otaku The wise fool?


    Love is not the same as being truly competitive. Did it win some significant events? If so, my apologies for being ill-informed or forgetful. I mostly remember people telling me it was great but being disappointed because it was just "okay" in person. Seemed like 80% (quick guesstimate) I'd bump into it on the PTCGO, it'd lose. That fifth time it would stomp me, sometimes even in spite of what should have been an advantagous match up. Again, just quickly eyeballing numbers based on vague memories, but it seemed like 20% of the time it completely collapsed under its own weight, often signified by an opponent (the player running it) conceding quickly. Another 40% would be a so-so performance. 20% would be a solid performance, even if my opponent's lost. So, three out of five times, the deck badly underperformed, and only overperformed one out of five times.

    Again, this is all me trying to recall stuff, and would have been via the PTCGO. If it won some major events, it won some major events and I'm wrong. XP
  12. gema5 Aspiring Trainer


    As much as I hate Buzzwole, i know it will just last until next rotation, which makes me happier. But ultranecrozma makes me sad again. Then I remember sycamore is going, and I feel happy again.
  13. Lewcurio Aspiring Trainer


    Never thought of it like that. I thought in order to have Stage 2's catch up, they would need acceleration, not other cards needing to decelerate. Good point.
  14. Otaku The wise fool?


    Yeah, I refused to accept that point when it was explained to me by - I think - a WotC employee on the old WizPoG (Wizard of the Coast's version of the PokéGym) message board. What I either missed back then or this person didn't make clear, is that most TCG's are like equations which only hold true within certain boundaries. Get cards too strong or too weak, and while the game may still function, you won't get the results you want. Just as you can still insert values for variables and carry out operations in an equation outside of its bounds but it won't equal what it is supposed to equal.

    Keep the pacing right, and all Stages of Evolution have a purpose. Effects that just don't play nicely with game balance on something that you can drop into play (especially T1) can work on Evolutions that will need a turn or two to hit the field. You just need to make sure Basics - or cards with Evolution acceleration! - aren't there to leave everything else in the dust. A deck of properly paced "big Basic" Pokémon either have something acting as an opener for setup or disruption purposes (not inflicting damage) or is big enough to sit there and tank for a few turns before swinging away. Either leaves time for a Stage 2 to manually Evolve and do its thing as well.

    I have left out the "cost" going into things; Evolving Pokémon have to do enough so that their Stage 2 line is on par with an equivalent Basic Pokémon that has two deck slots that can go to any Trainer, Energy, or even another Pokémon that can help it out. I never said this was easy. ;)

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