Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"Genesect and Virizion"- an Unlikely Combination

Hello all,

My name is Charles Randall Larenas-Leach. I have been playing the Pokemon trading card game for several weeks now, and I believe that gives me the authority to write a blog about all things Pokemon. I know that people that are reading around these types of blogs just want to play cookie-cutter decks, like Yveltal or Pyroar. I'm here to tell you that you are wrong. Personally, I prefer to play rouge decks.



Rouge- a deck that a player plays when they are more creative, skilled, and generally better than other players.

Now you don't want to just turn your binder upside down and sleeve up whatever cards fall out. The key to "going rouge", as I call it, is to play cards that work well together and that can beat other decks. Sometimes, you may look at a card and not think outside the box. My job is to show you how to tear up the box and recycle it. Sometimes you have to look at a card and think about other possible applications for it.

Genesect PLB
Some of you may have seen Genesect being used in popular decks. Genesect is a Team Plasma Pokemon, so it can take advantage of many of the cards printed to help that group of Pokemon. Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem decks seem to have been at the top tables at every States this season, and if you look closely at their benches, you might notice a Genesect EX sitting there. Genesect EX has the ability "Red Signal", which lets you drag up a Pokemon from your opponent's bench when you attach a Plasma Energy to Genesect from your hand. Unfortunately, this counts as your attachment for the turn, and you are limited to using this Ability four times (because you can only have four Plasma Energy in your deck!)

Anyway, you might have noticed this card being included in TDK decks, but what you might not have noticed is that Genesect EX is a very strong attacker. Its attack Megalo Cannon does 100 damage for GGC, and in addition it does 20 damage to a benched Pokemon. Cards like Colress Machine let us accelerate energy to Genesect to fulfill the C cost, and cards like Ether let us attach Grass Energy without attaching energy for the turn. With cards like these, we can be using Megalo Cannon as early as turn one. But wait, there's more!

G Scope
In Plasma Blast, the creators at the Pokemon Card Laboratories printed this broken (if I do say so myself) tool for Genesect decks. Picture this: you attack an opposing Pokemon EX for 100 damage with Megalo Cannon. However, on the next turn, they retreat and attack you with a new EX. Now you can't get a knockout with Megalo Cannon, and your previous turn was a huge waste. That's where G Scope comes in! You can attach G Scope to Genesect and use the special G Scope attack to snipe off that pesky cowardly excuse for a Pokemon. Your opponent will quiver in his boots!

Here is a skeleton list for this "Speed Genesect" variant:

4 Genesect
1 Lunatone PLS

4 Ether
4 Colress Machine
1 G Scope
1 Max Potion
2 Energy Switch
1 Switch
2 Potion

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Tierno
3 VS Seeker

3 Frozen City

12 Grass Energy
4 Plasma Energy

Let me go over a couple of the specific cards in the deck:

Lunatone PLB
Lunatone is in the deck because it goes well with Ether. Ether lets you look at the top card of the deck. If that card is an energy, you can attach it to one of your Pokemon! Lunatone lets you reorder the top two cards of your deck, which helps optimize the use of Ether. One disadvantage of Lunatone is that it has a very high retreat cost. We run the one Switch so that if someone drags up Lunatone to stall, we can play the Switch and keep attacking with Genesect!

Tierno
One of the dilemmas that I ran into while testing this deck was whether to run Tierno or Cheren. Tierno is a boy and Cheren is also male, which wasn't always apparent to me when I looked at the art on his card.




Anyway, since Cheren and Tierno are both Supporter cards that let you draw three cards, it all comes down to playstyle choice. If you are someone who likes to take lots of risks and play aggressively, then I recommend Tierno. If you like to be more conservative and hold your cards close to your chest, then I recommend Cheren. Obviously, I've elected to play Tierno in my list, and many truly competitive players elect to do the same. The choice really is yours though, since the difference between the two cards is minimal.

The list has some issues. One of the problems though is that it is difficult to stream Genesects. You have to hit every Ether to keep the attackers coming, and if your opponent can somehow knock out a Genesect in one hit, it is very difficult to set up another one. For this reason, we need another way to accelerate energy for the deck. Luckily for us, there is a hidden gem in Plasma Blast that can help us out.

"VirSect"
Virizion EX from Plasma Blast has an attack for two energies that does fifty damage and lets you attach two Grass energy from your deck and attach them to a Benched Pokemon. This way, you can load up energy on a Genesect while doing a little bit of damage to start off the game. I call this combination of Virizion and Genesect "VirSect", which is a creative combination of the names of Virizion and Genesect.

Unfortunately, Virizion and Genesect don't have perfect synergy. Virizion isn't a Team Plasma Pokemon, so it can't use Colress Machine. To fix that, we'll run some Team Plasma Badge so that we can get off a consistent turn one Emerald Slash.

The coolest part about Virizion though is its Verdant Wind ability. When Virizion is in play, no Pokemon with Grass Energy attached can be affected by a Special Condition. This has really good synergy with Munna from Boundaries Crossed. Munna has you flip a coin. If heads, your opponent's Active Pokemon is asleep. If tails, your Active Pokemon is asleep. This is good because your Active Pokemon can't be asleep because of the Verdant Wind ability! Munna gives us such great utility, so we should really run a couple.

Here is what a skeleton list for VirSect might look like:

2 Virizion
4 Genesect
2 Munna
1 Lunatone

3 Ether
3 Colress Machine
1 G Scope
3 Team Plasma Badge

4 Tierno
4 N
4 Professor Juniper
2 Cedric Juniper

3 Frozen City

12 Grass
4 Plasma

You'll notice one big weakness of this deck: Fire Pokemon. If your opponent is running Fire Pokemon, you don't stand a chance. I'll be making a post soon about fighting fire with fire, so keep checking the Bloggedy-Blog. In this case, the fire we fight fire with is water though of course, because fighting actual fire with fire is foolhardy (invest in a fire extinguisher folks!).

Thanks for reading,
CR

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Roaring Skies"- An Analysis of the New Set

Prereleases for Roaring Skies happened this weekend, and some of you may be wondering which cards from the new set are worth ordering and holding onto, and which cards aren't. I'll be going over some of cards from XY: Roaring Skies that are underrated and overrated, and give my opinions on them.

Credit for all images in this article go to Pokebeach. Pokebeach does a fantastic job with translating Japanese sets and getting scans of every card in the game, along with being a great news aggregator for all things Pokemon. If you want to see the full set of scans, that link will take you straight to Pokebeach where you can see every card.

Shaymin EX
I have written extensively about Shaymin here.  Pokemon-based draw is going to take the game in a completely different direction, and if you see these guys go as low as twenty dollars, I would snap that up in a heartbeat.

Rayquaza EX

They're here! These two cards have been hyped ever since they were released in Japan. M Rayquaza has lots of things going for it. Let's talk about the Mega first. The Emerald Break attack lets it hit for 30x the number of your benched Pokemon. This is similar to Raichu XY's Circle Circuit attack, but it does more damage. Next, M Rayquaza has the Ancient Trait Delta Evolution which lets you evolve the turn that you play it down. If you can get a Spirit Link Down, you can evolve into M Rayquaza on the first turn of the game, getting rid of nearly every drawback to Mega Evolutions in general. But there are three problems with Rayquaza:

1) Its attack costs CCC. This means you can't attack on the first turn of the game.
2) You can have only five benched Pokemon. This means that it maxes out at 150 damage.
3) If Rayquaza turns out to be the best deck it will be really easy to counter with its lightning weakness.

Luckily for Rayquaza, three cards were released in the last set which specifically deal with those problems.

1) Mega Turbo
Mega Turbo accelerates the energy from your discard pile onto Rayquaza EX. This means that it's possible to attack with Rayquaza on turn one. One of the downsides to this card is that Rayquaza has to have Mega-Evolved before it is useful. Otherwise it is a dead card, and when you're using Shaymin EX to draw cards, you can't be keeping too many dead cards in your hand.

Mega Turbo is going to change the format in that it's going to make many Mega Evolutions playable.  Aggron and Kyogre are two Mega-Evolutions that already have acceleration that don't necessarily need this, but Kangaskhan, Groudon, Lucario, Manectric, and Gardevoir all get better. In the case of Kangaskhan and Gardevoir, Fairies as a deck now has a new way to keep energy on the field. Mega Manectric can be loaded up in one turn to get even more energy out of the discard pile. Any Crushing Hammer that isn't accompanied by a Quaking Punch can be instantly counteracted. Mega Turbo is going to make the format faster and make decks based around Mega Evolutions more consistent.

2) Sky Field
Sky Field is a card that goes perfectly with Rayquaza and Shaymin. One of the disadvantages of Shaymin is that it takes up one of your bench spaces, but that is no longer a problem. A Rayquaza deck can lay down Three Rayquaza and four Shaymin and still have room to breathe. If Sky Field gets discarded, then you get to discard Pokemon until there are only five left. Shaymins can immediately be sacrificed, putting them out of harm's way. In a video on Youtube, a Japanese player plays down Exeggcute, which can Propagate right back to the hand and onto the bench when Sky Field gets discarded.

One card that goes very well with Sky Field is Raichu. The price of this card is going to go up, so get them while you still can. With eight benched Pokemon, Raichu hits for 160 damage, and it's easy to pop a Muscle Band on that guy to make him hit the magic 180.

3) Altaria
Altaria has an ability that lets it remove Rayquaza's weakness. Raichu will be prevalent, so Altaria will be played in the Rayquaza deck. Luckily, Altaria has the Ancient Trait Delta Evolution just like Rayquaza, so it can be down turn one.

Winona


Winona is effectively a draw supporter for Rayquaza decks. Because Shaymin is a Colorless Pokemon, Winona can search out both the Rayquaza pieces and Shaymins to draw even more cards.

Here is what a skeleton Rayquaza list might look like:

3 Rayquaza EX
3 M Rayquaza EX
4 Shaymin EX
2 Pikachu
2 Raichu
1 Exeggcute
1 Swablu
1 Altaria
1 Virizion EX

3 Rayquaza Spirit Link
4 Professor Juniper
2 Winona
4 Ultra Ball
3 Sky Field
1 Lysandre's Trump Card
2 Mega Turbo

4 Double Colorless
4 Grass


Double Dragon Energy


This is the special energy from the set. This is a card that people have been expecting ever since Black and White: Dragon Vault was released. There is no such thing as basic Dragon Energy, so Dragon-type Pokemon tend to have attacks that require two different types of basic energy to use. This energy card will make a lot of different Dragon-type Pokemon playable. I will point out when a card released in this set can be used with Double Dragon energy, but it is worth looking at some older cards that can take advantage of it.

Flygon BCR
  -This card can now attack from a DDE and a DCE. Autoparalysis at the cost of discarding the DDE isn't amazing, but it goes well with Flygon's ability.
Latias EX PLF
  -Latias EX has a Shred attack that hits for 70 with a DDE and C. With a Muscle Band, it can two-hit EXes, and it can't be hit by Pokemon with a abilities.
M Charizard EX FLF
  -Charizard can do 300 damage for F, DDE, and DCE. This is a still a very specific energy cost, but it is easier to hit 300 damage than ever!
Noivern FUF
  -For C and a DDE, Noivern does 30 damage to each of your opponent's Pokemon. Noivern has an ability that makes your opponent have to flip a coin to damage it, so maybe it could be played with Malamar and Lasers to try and stay alive for several turns (like Cinccino EP).

Latios EX


















Latios is going to be a good card. I have been messing around with a Trevenant EX deck, which you can read about here. Trevenant only does 20 damage for one energy, but with Hypnotoxic Laser, Virbank City Gym, and Muscle Band, the damage adds up. Assuming that you hit you hit all of the pieces and your opponent doesn't replace your stadium, you are knocking out EX Pokemon in two hits. I imagine that a Latios deck would go aggressive with a Latios EX using Fast Raid active, using Lysandre's Trump Card to recycle Lasers and take some quick knockouts, while loading up a Mega Latios on the bench. Then, Mega Latios can come out swinging, sniping opposing benched Shaymin EXes (or Jirachi EXes) at the cost of discarding  a couple of Double Dragon energy. The deck is going to be good. Here is a skeleton list:

4 Latios EX
2 Mega Latios EX

4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Virbank City Gym
3 Muscle Band
2 Latios Spirit Link
2 Mega Turbo
1 Tool Retriever
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Acro Bike
1 Lysandre's Trump Card

4 Double Dragon Energy
5 Psychic Energy

There is plenty of room. Perhaps Mega Manectric would be a good partner to help load up benched Mega Latios. Another possible tech is Latios EX PLF, which for a DDE and C does 150 damage if you discard all attached energy, which with Muscle Band knocks out 170 HP EXes.

Exeggutor
Exeggutor has 120 HP and two attacks. The first attack does more damage depending on the amount of Colorless Pokemon your opponent has in play, and the second attack does 80 for GCC. The card does not do enough damage on its own, and the only reason that it is being considered is because of the expected popularity of the Rayquaza deck. Let's assume for argument's sake that your opponent is playing a Rayquaza deck. For this hypothetical scenario, let's assume that the Rayquaza player played down Sky Field and benched eight Colorless Pokemon. This means that Exeggutor will be doing 180 damage to Rayquaza. With a Muscle Band, that damage goes up to 200 damage, which is still not a knockout. Hypnotoxic Laser gets you to 210 damage, but you can't play Virbank because that would limit your damage output by replacing Sky Field more than the extra poison damage would help you. Anyway, Exeggutor as a Rayquaza counter is really stretching it, and there are better counters out there. One of these counters is Raichu XY. Raichu does 20x the number of benched Pokemon you have benched. Since M Rayquaza EX has 220 HP and a x2 weakness to Lightning, you only need to have six benched Pokemon or five with a Muscle Band to get the knockout. The Rayquaza player will have to play down Sky Field, so you can bench more than five benched Pokemon, and in this scenario you are relying on yourself rather than your opponent.

But Charles Randall, you might say, what about Altaria? It shuts off Rayquaza's weakness! That makes Exeggutor the better counter! To which I respond, Raichu does 160 damage if you have eight Pokemon benched, as opposed to Exeggutor's 180. This means that Raichu is 20 damage less effective without weakness, and this is counting on the Raichu player filling their bench as opposed to the Rayquaza player. This means that Raichu > Exeggutor as a Rayquaza counter.

Then why would anyone play this Exeggutor? The answer is that they might tech it into a deck that already plays Exeggutor or Exeggcute. However, it is not to your advantage to do this in an Exeggutor deck. Without running a fourth Exeggutor PLF, you lower your chances of being able to use Blockade. Against Rayquaza, Exeggutor wants to focus on discarding energy anyways, and that will give it a better chance of winning. Exeggutor PLF also has Stomp, which is as good of an attack as Seed Bomb here. So will Exeggutor from Roaring Skies see play? My answer is no.

Beautifly

One thing that both Beautifly and Dustox have in common is that there are already cards out there that do their job better. However, once the BW block rotates, we won't have Suicune, Sigilyph, or Lugia EX. Beautifly will be the only remaining Safeguard Pokemon, although it is important to note that it is more vulnerable than Suicune or Sigilyph. The Safeguard Ability prevents all effects of attacks, including damage, and the Miraculous Scales ability only blocks damage. One partner that Beautifly has though it Dustox.

Dustox has the Ancient Trait Delta Plus, so it takes an extra prize when it knocks something out. You can soften things up with Beautifly, and then snipe things off w with Dustox, and knock out a 170 HP EX for three prizes. This is similar to the Lugia/Crobat deck that has been posted on Virbank, except much worse! In fact, Crobat may be a useful addition to this deck.

Beautifly and Dustox both evolve from Wurmple, which makes it easier to play them together.

Shedinja
Shedinja has an attack called Hopeless Scream that does 50 damage times the number of damage counters on him. However, he maxes out at 100 damage because he only has 30 HP. With a Training Center though, he packs quite a punch with 60 HP and being able to do 300 damage.

However, with Dimension Valley, Mew EX can use this attack for free, and Mew EX has much more HP. If Mew has just four damage counters on it, it is doing 200 damage, which knocks out most things in the format. If you can find a consistent way to get damage on Mew (Frozen City, Rainbow Energy), you could be packing quite the punch.

Thundurus EX
Thundurus EX is mostly notable for its typing. It is a lightning Pokemon, which is good right now because it hits Yveltal and Rayquaza for weakness. It can paralyze on a coin flip for LC, which seems nice. It does 150 for LLL, which is a difficult attack cost. The only place I see that fitting is in a deck with Mega Manectric. It does shore up some weaknesses that Manectric has, which is a low damage cap. Thundurus can knock out 170 HP EXes with the help of a Muscle Band.

Natu
Natu Day! Maybe tomorrow...

Natu is another Pokemon with the Delta Plus Ancient Trait. For PC, he does ten damage times the amount of energy attached to the Defending Pokemon. Natu can be used with Dimension Valley, and I see him fitting into decks like Night March that can run any kind of energy along with Dimension Valley. If the Night March attack is a few damage short, you can sweep in with Natu and draw that extra prize.

Deoxys
Deoxys is another Pokemon that goes well with Dimension Valley. You can use Deoxys's attack on the first turn of the game to draw two cards, so in decks that run Dimension Valley, he can be a good starter. The problem at the moment is that the decks that run Dimension Valley want to be using other attackers early. Night March wants to be hitting for big damage, and VirMewGen wants to be using Emerald Slash on the first turn of the game. Maybe in a different format, Deoxys will have a chance to shine. His attacks are very reminiscent of Virizion LTR's.

Absol
We have, for a while, been missing a Basic Pokemon that can move your opponent's damage counters. Both Gourgeist XY and Forretress FLF would go quite nicely with this card, because Dusknoir can get a bit clunky. If Flygon BCR were to ever make a comeback, Absol would probably be a one-of in the deck.

Dragonite

Dragonite is the last Pokemon we will look at with the Delta Plus Ancient Trait. For GGGLC, he hits for 150, which knocks out low HP EXes with a Muscle Band. That cost can also be fulfilled with GGG and a Double Dragon Energy. Virizion EX can be used to accelerate energies onto him, or you can used his first attack for L (or a DDE) called Wrapped in Win that lets you attach energies from hand to him. Unfortunately, Dragonite is a Stage 2 that needs a lot of energy attached to him, so he isn't really playable. 

M Gallade EX


Gallade EX is like Gallade SW in that it has a strong early game but a weak late game. Piercing Prizes does 50 damage plus 20 more for each prize card you have remaining. With a Muscle Band, early game this will knock out any Basic EX (barring Wailord of course), but it is a one-trick pony in that it literally won't work again.

M Gallade EX is like Gallade 4 from Platinum: Rising Rivals in that it does damage to benched Pokemon that already have damage counters on them, thirty damage in this case. Perhaps this is the perfect deck for Gourgeist XY, Forretress FLF, and the new Absol to shine. Get down a Forretress early and then for PP and a Dimension Valley M Gallade EX can do 110 plus 30 to each benched Pokemon. If your opponent benches something new, you can lay down Absol to move damage to it to so that is can take a hit from Gallade.

Perhaps a better partner for Gallade would even be Crobat; use Sneaky Bite and Surprise Bite on your opponent's whole bench and all of a sudden there is damage everywhere. Gallade is a really cool card, and I'm sure that someone will break it. Here is a skeleton list for Gallade:

3 Gallade EX
3 M Gallade EX
1 Mew EX
4 Zubat
3 Golbat
3 Crobat
1 Pineco
1 Forretress
1 Wobbuffet

3 Dimension Valley
4 Ultra Ball
3 Gallade Spirit Link
4 Professor Juniper
2 Mega Turbo
4 N
3 VS Seeker
2 Lysandre
1 Lysandre's Trump Card

9 Psychic

Inkay and Meowth
Notice that Meowth is holding a fruit of some sort (I'm sure that someone will tell me what type of fruit that is). Notice Inkay hiding in the bushes. Notice where the fruit ends up! The art in this set is absolutely fantastic.

Trainer's Mail

Trainer's Mail is going to make speed decks faster. It will join the likes of cards like Bicycle, Acro Bike, and Roller Skates in that it is an Item that lets you draw cards. If you have no Supporter in hand, you can dig for one. If you can't find one, you can grab Ultra Ball for Jirachi or Random Receiver. We are getting closer and closer to the point where we can confidently run only four Juniper and one Lysandre's Trump Card as our only Supporters and just draw through our deck with few consequences.

Wally

Wally is the last card I'll be looking at today. It is about time that Evolution cards got a boost, and Wally is just what the doctor ordered. Wally is like Evosoda on steroids. Evosoda doesn't let you evolve on the first turn or the turn that the Pokemon was played, but Wally does. With Magnezone PLF, you can use Wally twice in one turn to replicate what old Rare Candy or Broken Time-Space could do, but that is a difficult combination of cards to pull off. Realistically, Wally is going to make cards like Raichu and Empoleon more powerful. One thing to note is that it does not work on Mega EXes, which is good (because they already got enough of a boost in this set).

Thanks for reading! The Pokemon Card Laboratory seems to be continuing the trend of printing very cool sets toward the end of the set block, and I'm very excited to see all of interesting cards and the new strategies that can be derived from them. Feel free to leave a comment if you disagree or if there are any jewels of the set that I didn't notice. 

Until next time,
CR


Monday, April 20, 2015

"Climbing Trees in a Thunderstorm"- A Deck to Consider For Regionals

"It's a proven fact - standing under a tree is one of the most dangerous places to be in a storm. And for good reason - trees protrude from the earth's surface, making them frequent victims of direct lightning strikes" -Source

I have been testing many new decks on TCGOne. I found out this week that I will be able to make it to Regionals in Ontario, So I have been creating and trying decks like crazy. Here is a short list of the decks I have tried:

Andy Gray's Donphan/Walls
Groudon/Dusknoir
Blastoise/Archie's
Virizion/Genesect/Mew
Manectric/Archie's/Empoleon
Ross Gilbert's Speed Donphan
Jake Morgan's Manectric/Suicune
Seismitoad/Crobat
Oliver Barnett's Donphan
Grant Manley's Seismitoad/Crawdaunt
Erik Nance's Medicham
Seismitoad/Manectric
Flareon/Leafeon/Raichu/Pyroar
Manectric/Trevenant/Victini

As you can see, several of these decks are written with a name beside them, which means that I found them on Squeaky's channel. The decks that I spent the most time messing around with were decks with Manectric in them. I spent a lot of time specifically playing with Manectric/Suicune. I really like cycling between different Mega Manectrics and using Rough Seas to heal them. It reminds me of Kyogre but with less setup and less damage output.

Another reason I like Manectric is because it (theoretically) beats Yveltal. Since both Turbo Bolt and Assault Laser can knock out Yveltal in one hit, things go well for you in that matchup. However, 110 and 120 damage aren't enough to keep up with many decks. In many matchups, you need to be taking one-hit-knockouts to stay in the game, and Manectric just doesn't do that.

I was getting pretty frustrated with a couple of decks, namely Seismitoad and Yveltal, and I decided to create a deck specifically to beat those decks and VirGen, which are the top three decks. I added Leafeon to beat Toad, Raichu to beat Yveltal, and Pyroar to deal with Virizion/Genesect. Of course, playing three stage ones is pretty clunky, and more often than not the deck simply fails to set up.

Phase 1: Trevenant + Manectric


My next attempt involved Trevenant EX to beat Seismitoad, Mega Manectric to beat Yveltal, and Victini and Victory Piece to take care of VirGen. After playing a few games, Victini was not pulling his weight, so he was cut. Here is the list I have right now:

1 Tropius PLB
3 Trevenant EX
3 Manectric EX
2 M Manectric EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Virizion EX


4 N
4 Professor Sycamore
2 Lysandre
1 Lysandre's Trump Card
1 Colress

3 VS Seeker
3 Acro Bike
2 Switch
2 Manectric Spirit Link
1 Computer Search
2 Head Ringer
3 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Muscle Band

3 Virbank City Gym

2 Rainbow Energy
2 Lightning Energy
7 Grass Energy

Let me go through some specific card choices:

Tropius is the Safeguard counter at the moment. Tropius has a Return attack for one energy that draw you cards. There is no harm in benching it because it is your only non EX, which lets you bring your opponent play a seven-prize game. Tropius is great. Its first attack is draw power, which helps you in the Exeggcutor matchup. Energy Press hits for a lot of damage against Kyogre, Suicune, and other various attackers (like Swampert).

Trevenant EX is your main attacker. He attacks for one energy, so he can start getting damage on the field turn one. Twenty damage is not enough, so we need to add the Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym combination to do extra damage. Dark Forest locks your opponent from retreating. This unfortunately isn't incredibly useful, as there aren't a lot of things to lock active.

If you start Trevenant, your goal is to be using Dark Forest with a Muscle Band and Laser/Virbank. This lets you do 70 damage going into your opponent's turn and 100 going back into your turn. They will be at 170 going into their turn, which is the perfect math to knock them out going back into your turn. This, of course, only works if they can't counter your stadium, and it requires you to have all of the pieces as well. Seismitoad EX could do this for more damage along with Item Lock for a DCE, so why is this better?

The answer is that objectively it isn't. Trevenant EX attacks for less damage and it doesn't apply item lock. The only reason that you would run Trevenant over Seismitoad is for typing. Seismitoad is quite popular, and Trevenant can knock it out in one hit for three energy. If you are running Toad and your opponent is running Toad, the winner will be the one who draws better and plays better. A deck with Trevenant and a high count of energy however, will come out on top over toad. Another small advantage Trevenant has over Toad is that it is much easier to draw into a grass energy than a DCE!

Trevenant still suffers from a few weaknesses. Its damage output is low without Laser/Virbank. To use its second attack, it requires three energy attachments. This will put it behind many fast decks.

Manectric EX shores up your Yveltal matchup while also providing energy acceleration. Manectric EX on its own is a good attacker against many decks. If combined with Head Ringer, it can hit for 120 damage with just two energy, which lets this deck keep up with a lot of other decks. It is hard to get a one-hit knockout with Wood Blast, so Overrun lets you setup KOs for the future. The deck has enough room to run Spirit Link and M Manectric as well, so that provides energy acceleration to load up a big Trevenant. This also means that you can spend three turns loading up a big Trevenant, because if it gets knocked out you can get the energy back on it with Manectric.

Between Manectric and Trevenant, your matchup with the two biggest decks in the format, Seismitoad and Yveltal, are shored up. I had Victini with Victory Piece in the deck as well as I mentioned briefly before, but Victini doesn't automatically win you the VirGen matchup unless you can consistently get it out, and in a deck that doesn't run Skyla, it's a bit tricky to get that out consistently.

Virizion EX is huge in this deck. This one card has so much utility that it has definitely earned its slot. Verdant Wind shuts off Laser (and any Chandelure EX you run across as well). This means that Seismitoad EX is taking four hits to knock out Trevenant, more than enough time to stack three energies on it. It is not a terrible starter, as you can Emerald Slash to a Trevenant to use Wood Blast. Virizion definitely pulls its weight, I can't stress that enough.

3 Acro Bike help us draw the cards we need. We try to hit the Trevenant + Grass + Muscle Band + Virbank/Laser, and to optimize that we want to see as many cards as possible. If this doesn't fit your playstyle, by all means there are other cards that could fill these slots. A second Colress, and third Head Ringer, a fourth Muscle Band, and a fourth Virbank are all cards that I would love to see in here. This is largely a playstyle decision, and running more items can't hurt too much because we have a good Seismitoad matchup already. In fact, hopefully that will help us when facing Exeggcutor.

Computer Search is our Ace Spec. Some other options would be Life Dew to replace Emolga in our quest to make out opponent draw seven prizes. Dowsing Machine would help us reuse Laser, but Trump Card already serves that purpose. Computer Search also makes it easier to get the missing pieces. It grabs Grass if you whiff, Muscle Band to raise damage output and block Head Ringer, and a piece of the Laser/Virbank combo if you have everything already.

The energy counts could be manipulated, but having seven Grass and two Rainbow means you won't whiff energy for Trevenant, and two Lightning and two Rainbow is enough for Manectric, especially when he only needs one lightning to fulfill his attack costs.

Your Yveltal matchup is pretty good. What you want to do is load up a couple of Manectrics. If your opponent doesn't attach a tool to Yveltal, you can put a Head Ringer on it to put it in KO range of Assault Laser. Evolving into the Mega is just a bonus, but loading up a big Trevenant will seal the game for you. This is a matchup where Virizion helps because Yveltal decks tend to play Lasers.

Against Toad, you want to begin attacking with Trevenant. If you get Virizion down early, you'll want to attach your energy to the active and load up for a large Wood Blast. If you can't find Virizion, you'll want to hide behind a Trevenant with one energy while loading up for a bid Wood Blast on the bench.

Virizion/Genesect is a trickier matchup. Your lasers are largely ineffective, so your damage output is lowered (and you have seven dead cards in your deck). Genesect and Trevenant both attack for three energy, but Genesect has G Booster and Red Signal to stop you from building a big Trevenant. To win this matchup, you need to use magic numbers. A Trevenant with four energy and a Muscle Band does 150 damage, so you want to use Overrun early to hit the Genesect that has energy. Then, you want to Mega Evolve and Turbo Bolt to build up a big Trevenant. At this point, you need to pray that they can't use G-Booster in a timely manner!

Landorus/Crobat is also a poor matchup. Ideally, against a fast deck, you would want to use M Manectric to accelerate energy onto a Trevenant. Unfortunately, Landorus makes quick work of Manectric, so that strategy simply isn't viable. I have yet to win a game in this matchup, it is very tricky.

The Exeggutor matchup is not a fantastic matchup. Because they run Crushing Hammer and you run such few Lightning energy, Manectric is not a viable attacker. Virizion is a good idea to set up, because you can Emerald Slash to a benched Trevenant, and you do always want Virizion out to stop Laser damage. If they start with something active that isn't Exeggutor, like Virizion or Genesect, you can use Dark Forest to lock that Pokemon active so that they can't use Blockade on you. Unfortunately, they will use Crushing Hammer and you will keep attaching Grass energy until you whiff, and then they will retreat and Blockade. As a result, this isn't a solution, just something you can do to buy yourself a few turns at the start of the game.

Phase 2: Trevenant + Manectric + Seismitoad


I was testing online and after getting smashed several times in a row by a Landorus/Bats deck, I was getting fed up. Out of frustration, I made a new copy of the deck and added three Toad and three DCEs. It didn't seem at first like the deck would still run, but it did. To make these additions, I had to make a few cuts. I cut the third Head Ringer, the third Trevenant, the third Manectric, the second switch, and both of the Rainbows. After playing a few games with the new version of the deck, I figured out a few things:

1. The deck doesn't need three Trevenant, and it never needed three Trevenant. It's impossible to load up three Trevenants in a game without attacking with Mega Manectric, and if that goes down and you lose two Trevenant, you've lost already. While Trevenant isn't an awful starter, Toad is better because it does more damage and locks items (like what I talked about above). No matter what you start with, you'll be happy (with the exception of Jirachi). Tropius lets you Return and draw cards. Seismitoad lets you lock Items. Trevenant lets you attack for an energy and do a small amount of damage. Manectric lets you get some early damage on the board. The notable exception to this, of course, is Jirachi, and with only nine basic Pokemon, we cross our fingers and hope that we don't start with it. Starting with it, of course, isn't terrible. I've won plenty of games where I started Jirachi, and it's too good not to include in the deck.

2. DCE makes Trevenant a more effective attacker. For a Grass, a DCE, and a Muscle Band, Trevenant can two-hit EXes. This means that your first Trevenant (for just two attachments) can be a good attacker, and then the one you load up with a Manectric can be your heavy hitter. The big tree now fills two roles, and with three DCE he isn't hard to load up more easily.

3. Manectric is a little bit harder to attack with now, because we only run two lightnings. This means that you'll probable only be able to set up one per game. That's okay though, because even one is pretty effective at doing what it does best.

4. Seismitoad shores up some of your worst matchups. Landorus/Bats is suddenly not so hard to beat. With Jirachi and Seismitoad, you can lay down a Quaking Punch easily, and any Ultra Ball can become a Lysandre's Trump Card in combination to help beat Flareon and Night March. It's still a lot to draw, but now we have a shot against more types of decks.

Even with Toad, Flareon is still tough because of Leafeon. The way to win is to knock out Leafeons with Assault Laser and only drop Seismitoad/Trump Card when you know for sure that they can't Trump Card you. Picking off benched EXes like Jirachi and possibly Deoxys is also a good idea.

Phase 3: -Seismitoad, + Virizion


My initial frustration with Phase 1 of the deck remained, and if anything got worse with Phase 2 of the deck. The fact is that Crushing Hammer-based decks are incredibly difficult to deal with, and cutting Grass energy made this even more difficult. I commented to a friend something along the lines of "I only beat Crushing Hammer decks if I start Virizion," and then I subsequently gave up on the deck. I had an epiphany later, and came back and added more Virizion.

We don't have room for Seismitoad or DCE anymore. With more of a focus on Virizion, we can't even run Rainbows! It's no longer feasible to load up two Mega Manectrics in a game; we have to settle for one, because we can only run a 2-2 line, two Lightning Energy, and two Spirit Links. Surprisingly, the deck still works.

We tend to start off with an Emerald Slash now and get energy on the Trevenant. Which begs the question: Why not just play VirGen? There are a couple reasons for this:

1) The Yveltal matchup is just not good enough. VirGen is, if I do say so myself, an obvious play for Regionals because it beats Crushing Hammer decks. Therefore, Yveltal decks should be packing a Spiritomb to fend off VirGen. Without access to G Booster, VirGen just can't keep up. There isn't enough room for Mega Manectric in VirGen. Adler Pierce, a player from Ohio, won Kentucky States with VirGen with just the basic Manectric EX with a couple of Head Ringer. When I tested this against Yveltal, I just couldn't spare the attachments to load up a Manectric, and I never could really get off the ground.

I also tested Raichu, but I couldn't find a way to tech VirGen to make it beat Yveltal. I really don't like losing to Yveltal, and I want to be able to beat it at Regionals.

2) Not running Genesect gives you more space for techs. Running Genesect, besides taking up those three slots, means that you have to run Plasma Energy, G Booster, Shadow Triad, and maybe even Colress Machine. By not having to run these things, we can make our energy lines a little bit more flexible, while having room to run Mega Manectric and Laser/Virbank.

3) This isn't a very good reason, but it is valid in that VirGen was a really boring deck to play. After cranking out twenty games with it online, I got bored and was tired of testing. Manectric/Trevenant on the other hand is a little less linear, so it is more interesting.

Here is my final list that I am testing with at the moment:

2 Trevenant EX
2 Manectric EX
2 M Manectric EX
3 Virizion EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Spiritomb
1 Tropius

1 Computer Search
3 N
1 Lysandre
4 Acro Bike
1 Switch
2 Manectric Spirit Link
4 Professor Sycamore
4 VS Seeker
1 Lysandre's Trump Card
2 Head Ringer
3 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Virbank City Gym
3 Muscle Band

10 Grass Energy
2 Lightning Energy

There are a couple of changes that I want to comment on. The energy line is different in that we cut the rainbows and added lots of grass. Now we are more focused on Emerald Slashing, and it is so nice to have all of that energy in the deck. We had to cut the second Lysandre, which hurts our Donphan matchup. We were going to lose that matchup anyway though, so I'm not too sad. Spiritomb is an addition to help our VirGen matchup. We still have to be careful though not to use Computer Search when Sealing Scream is in play!

Using Phase Three of the deck, these are the decks that I want to see at Regionals:
-Yveltal
-Exeggutor
-Seismitoad
-Kyogre
-Metal

And these are the decks that I don't want to see:
-Flareon
-Donphan
-Night March
-Landorus/Crobat
-Gardevoir

These are the decks that I don't feel strongly about seeing:
-Virizion/Genesect
-Fairy Box

Are you noticing a pattern? The decks that I don't want to see are the decks that can outspeed me and get OHKOs. In addition, the Fighting type is something I really struggle against.

If you go read the final results from States on The Charizard Lounge, Andrew Wamboldt mentions that there is an 87 percent chance that you will play against a Seismitoad deck at Regionals and a 77 percent chance that you will play against an Yveltal deck. In fact, you are more likely than not to play against two Seismitoad decks. I don't know about you, but I am playing those odds. I would like to beat Yveltal and Seismitoad this weekend.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you guys in Ontario!