Saturday, June 6, 2015

"Archie's Tulips"- How I Won a League Challenge in the Netherlands


By some stroke of luck, I haven't yet been to a League Challenge that I haven't won.

There aren't any League Challenges that occur within a good hour and a half of me. This means that I have to travel a decent amount just to get to one. Since I returned to the game this year, I have attended a total of three League Challenges. My first one was a two-hour drive, after the release of Phantom Forces, where I brought my newly built Night March deck with four Professor Juniper, four Random Receiver, and four Roller Skates. I managed to go 4-1, which gave me the win.

The second League Challenge that I attended was a bit further away from home, in Copenhagen, Denmark.  I brought Night March again this time, and I earned a 3-1 record, giving me the win.

I had a third opportunity this weekend to attend a League Challenge in the Netherlands, which was a wonderful change of pace. Our weekend in Amsterdam fortunately coincided with Dutch Nationals. The main event was on Saturday in Leiden, but there were League Challenges on Friday and Sunday as well in both Leiden and Sprang Cappelle. I, having only brought two decks with me to Europe, had no opportunity to change my deck from the previous week in Copenhagen.

Pokemon: 16

4 Pumpkaboo
4 Lampent
4 Joltik
1 Jirachi EX
1 Empoleon
2 Mew EX

Trainers: 37

4 Ultra Ball
4 Battle Compressor
4 Acro Bike
4 Trainers' Mail
1 Computer Search
4 VS Seeker
2 Muscle Band
1 Hard Charm
1 Float Stone

4 Professor Sycamore
2 Lysandre
1 Lysandre's Trump Card
1 Archie's Ace In The Hole

4 Dimension Valley

Energy: 8

4 Water
4 Double Colorless


I have memorized this list at this point having spent so much time with it. I would have liked to pop a couple of Shaymin in here, and if I had managed to get my hands on Shaymin before my trip, I definitely would have added those. The deck obviously still runs fine without Shaymin though because I am maxed out on cards like Trainers' Mail and Acro Bike. Such reliance on Items means that I have a bad matchup against Seismitoad, the best deck in the format, but Night March is a fun deck and I am very comfortable with it.

Report:


My dad and uncle dropped me off at the venue, where a young man named Corne was happy to point me towards the entrance. I introduced myself and used my Donphan deck to play a fun game against him, which I won. Then, a couple of guys traveling up from Belgium walked in, and I played a fun game against Brent with Flareon. I got absolutely slaughtered, and that made me very happy that I wasn't playing Donphan for the real event.

Round 1 vs. Corne Smits with Hippowdon/Excadrill EX/Groudon EX


I had the pleasure of playing against the person who had pointed me towards the venue and played a fun game with me. He was playing with a different deck this time, and he started with Groudon EX. I started without Supporters but with a way to get five Night Marchers into the discard pile. I knocked out Groudon in two hits, while he loaded up a Benched Hippopotas. He brought it active once the Groudon was knocked out, and used Scramble Switch to move all the energy onto the now-active Excadrill EX. He had Strong Energy and Muscle Band attached, but with Resistance and Hard Charm that only did forty damage to my Pumpkaboo. I managed to get nine Night Marchers in the discard pile to knock out the Excadrill, and the following turn I knocked out Hippowdon to clear his board and win the game.

1-0

Round 2 vs. Elmer with Kyogre

My opening hand was capable of using Archie's on my first turn, as I had two Ultra Balls, but unfortunately my Jirachi EX was prized. This left me with no Supporter, and my Mew EX was stuck active. I attached a Double Colorless Energy to Joltik, because he had Suicune active, and passed. He told me, "I can't shuffle!", attached, and passed. At the end of the game he showed me that he drew five Energy in that opening hand, along with Colress as his only Supporter. I had five Night Marchers in the discard pile, but no way to attack. Eventually he got three Energy on the Suicune and knocked out my Mew EX in two attacks. I brought up Joltik and used Night March for exactly 100 damage to win the game.

2-0

Round 3 vs. Jeroen with Seismitoad/Shaymin

My opponent was at the League Challenge to grab points and secure his Day Two Worlds invite. I knew that Seismitoad was the best deck in the current format, so I suspected that was the deck he was using, but of course I wasn't sure. As a side note, there was a lot of Seismitoad at the event, and I was very lucky to dodge that for the most part. During Round One, next to me was Toad/Crobat vs. Toad/Crawdaunt. The wonderful Emanuel Da Silva was playing a Seismitoad deck without Lasers (which was constructed beautifully by the way), and Jeroen ended up playing Seismitoad/Shaymin, which was the scariest variant of them all.

 I went first, and overall I had one of my most successful turns ever with the deck. I got Archie's on my first turn, I got seven or eight Night Marchers in the discard pile, and I attached a Double Colorless Energy to a Benched Pokemon. In response, he flipped Heads on a Crushing Hammer to get rid of the Double, attached Muscle Band to Shaymin, played Laser/Virbank, and passed. This was my only way to win this matchup, and the best outcome that I could have possible hoped for. The next turn, I used Battle Compressor to thin out the deck before playing Professor Sycamore to grab a DCE for the win.

3-0

Round 4 vs. Stephan with Donphan

I was at Table One for Round Three, and at Table Two next to us were two Donphan players, so I knew that I would be playing against Donphan if I was still at the top table for Round Four. I have played the Donphan vs. Night March matchup many times and from both sides. When I originally built Night March, Donphan was a very successful and popular deck, and it was actually the only deck that I tested Night March against. At first I thought that it was clearly in Donphan's favor, because they could just send up Robo Substitute and deny prizes. In my earliest draft of the deck I actually played four Pokemon Catchers just to have a chance in the Donphan matchup. When I first sleeved up Night March to play it at a League Challenge in Chicago, I started off 4-0 before losing to Donphan during Round Five (but I still won, don't worry).

The matchup comes down to hitting heads on Pokemon Catcher or streaming Lysandres to take out those pesky Donphan when they continue to run to the bench. One card that really helps the matchup is Hard Charm. Between Hard Charm and Resistance, Donphan needs two Strong Energy and Muscle Band attached to knock out Pumpkaboo in one hit. Empoleon also almost always is a very effective attacker against Donphan, and it knocks it out in one hit if you have a full Bench, guaranteed.

Against Stephan, I knocked out a Phanpy on Turn Two and I got Archie's on Turn Three. From there, my opponent was not able to bench more than one Phanpy at a time. At one point, I used Lysandre's Trump Card to reset my deck, get Energy back, and get Stadiums back. It was okay to do that because my opponent had just bumped Dimension Valley and left a Robo Sub Active (I had no way to drag up anything else). The next turn, I brought up Empoleon and streamed Lysandres to take all six prizes. My opponent was not able to set up another Donphan, and the big penguin ran through his whole field.

4-0
He's a lot of fun but also a poor influence
Like in Denmark, there were no extra prizes for winning, but at least everybody got a pack! I made many new friends, and I finally got to meet Emanuel Da Silva, who Ross has talked a lot about on his podcast PTCG Radio.

Overall I had a great time, and I have over 200 CP! This means that I am certified to post on Virbank. I also got a chance to go to another League Challenge, which was nice even though I've been to far more Cities than LCs. It can be frustrating not having local tournaments, but it is nice to travel far away for one once in a while. Having 205 CPs means that I only need to make Top 32 at Nationals, as opposed to Top 16, to earn my invitation to Worlds. That is a tall order, especially if I haven't even gotten Top 32 at a Regionals yet, but it is a tangible and realistic goal.

Thank you all for reading! Feel free to leave questions and comments below, and have a great day.
CR

Monday, June 1, 2015

"Joltik's Big Break"- Night March After the Ban-Hammer and an Interview with Edan Lewis

Lysandre's Trump Card has just been banned.

Confused? Vince Krekeler will explain
This changes things completely. Madison Regionals just happened, and Jason Klacynski's winning deck centered around playing Trainers' Mail, Shaymin EX, Ultra Ball, and Super Scoop Up to draw through his deck multiple times per game. This let him reuse his Crushing Hammers, Hypnotoxic Lasers, and other disruptive cards. Cards like Acro Bike and Battle Compressor let you thin your deck, and this lets you draw the cards you want faster. Look at the following skeleton list:

4 Shaymin EX

4 Ultra Ball
4 Super Scoop Up
4 Acro Bike
4 Trainers' Mail
4 Battle Compressor
4 Professor Juniper
4 VS Seeker
1 Lysandre's Trump Card

With a deck like this, it is easily possible to draw through your entire deck. In the Night March list that I have built currently, I don't run the Shaymin EX or the Super Scoop Up, but I run everything else. As a result, I can draw through my whole deck relatively quickly, and if I am in danger of decking out, I just need to play Lysandre's Trump Card to reset the deck and do it all again. These Item cards are ridiculous, and without Trump Card, decking out is a very realistic and threatening possibility. What happens now that Trump Card is gone?

Trick Shovel


The Shovel is now playable. Before, with a Lysandre's Trump Card and a full count of VS Seeker in many decks, once something was discarded, one Trump Card would be all that it took to negate the effect of the discard. Even if the Trump Card was discarded, any one of the four VS Seeker in the deck would help bring it back and shuffle the entire discard pile back into the deck.

Trick Shovel is a cool little disruptive trick now, since you might be able to discard something that your opponent won't be able to recover. A Special Energy, a Stadium, or an Item card would be something especially handy to put on the top of your opponent's discard pile. If your deck has lots of space, Trick Shovel could be very cool.

Night March and Flareon


Flareon and Night March are both decks with strategies revolving around getting Pokemon in the discard pile to make their attacks stronger. If you play a Lysandre's Trump Card against them, they wouldn't necessarily have a problem getting many Pokemon back into their discard pile the following turn. However, a Lysandre's Trump Card combined with Quaking Punch is very hard to work through because both Flareon and Night March rely a lot of Items to function. The fact that Trump Card is gone means that this is no longer a tool that Seismitoad decks will have to use against these decks. This means that if you can get enough Pokemon in the discard pile during your only turn without Items, there is no way for Seismitoad to negate that. This is especially good news for those with decks capable of getting nine Night Marchers in the discard pile on the first turn!

I don't have much experience with Flareon, but I know that Steven Bates has been messing around with Flareon with Trainers' Mail, Shaymin EX, and the other new cards from Roaring Skies on his Twitch stream, so feel free to check that out if you're looking for more information about Flareon specifically.

Night March, on the other hand, is a deck that I have a bit more experience with. I played it during Cities, and I have also won a couple of League Challenges with it. I think that Night March gained a lot from the new set, even before Trump Card was banned, with the release of Trainers' Mail. Between Acro Bike, Trainers' Mail, and Professor Sycamore, it is easy to draw into the Battle Compressors you need to really get going. Here is my current list:

Pokemon: 16

4 Lampent
4 Pumpkaboo
4 Joltik
2 Mew EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Empoleon

Trainers: 37

4 Ultra Ball
4 Trainers' Mail
4 Acro Bike
4 Battle Compressor
1 Computer Search
4 VS Seeker
2 Muscle Band
1 Float Stone
1 Hard Charm

4 Professor Sycamore
1 Archie's Ace in the Hole
2 Lysandre
1 Lysandre's Trump Card

4 Dimension Valley

Energy: 7
4 Double Colorless Energy
3 Water Energy


Okay, if you're looking for the basic gist of what Night March does, I wrote about it here, and Andrew Wamboldt wrote about it here. TLDR; the Night March attack does 20x the number of Night March Pokemon in the discard pile. We try to draw through the deck to draw into Battle Compressor, which is an Item that lets us put three cards from our deck into our discard pile. We attack with Pumpkaboo and Joltik, and also Mew EX to try and take at least one prize card every time we attack.

1 Archie's, 1 Empoleon, 1 Jirachi EX


I wrote about using Archie's in combination with Empoleon here, but to summarize, Archie's Ace in the Hole requires that it is the only card in your hand when you play it down. In return, you can put a Water Pokemon from your discard pile onto your bench and draw five cards. This list is actually able to use Archie's in a large percentage of the games you play, and if not on your first turn, eventually during the game the play tends to present itself. One problem is that one of the pieces may be prized, but we cross our fingers and hope that doesn't happen.

Empoleon is good to have in play because it allows you to both draw cards and discard a card (like a Night Marcher for example). You can attack with it since you run water energy, and you can also copy its attack with Mew's Versatile Ability.

It really helps to practice "getting the Archie's". If you have three cards in your hand that you can't play, along with two Ultra Balls, you should be able to get the Archie's and here's how: use the first Ultra Ball to discard two useless cards and grab Empoleon. Use the second Ultra Ball to discard Empoleon and the third useless card and grab Jirachi. Play Jirachi down and use its Ability Stellar Guidance to grab the Archie's, play down the other cards, and voila! Now you have Empoleon in play! This also works with Computer Search + Empoleon, Computer Search + Battle Compressor, and Computer Search + Ultra Ball.

One other thing to note is that you can attach a Tool to Jirachi if need be, so that is one way to get rid of a card even if you can't dump it before using Stellar Guidance. Also, Trainers' Mail is a card that you can always fail if you need to have fewer cards in hand.

2 Mew EX

In previous formats, it wasn't as easy to knock out Mew EX in one hit as it is now. It is better to attack with Joltik or Pumpkaboo, since they give up less prizes, but since you reasonably need more than three attackers during a game, we still need some Mew. Mew EX also lets you copy your opponent's attacks. If you whiff the energy but you have the Dimension Valley, you can copy an opponent's Manectric EX's Overrun. You can copy an opponent's Quaking Punch to slow them down, you can copy Empoleon's Attack Command, and most importantly you can copy Night March, possibly with Dimension Valley in play to reduce the Energy cost.

1 Float Stone, 1 Hard Charm, 2 Muscle Band

(Borrowed from Danmark Man Dark

"The Float Stone is my one Switch card. This means that we don't really have a good way to remove Special Conditions. The advantage of Float Stone is that it lets you have someone that can retreat for free when you have a Pokemon knocked out, and I liked to attach Float Stone to Jirachi or Empoleon. Muscle Band lets you hit magic numbers while needing one less Night Marcher in the Discard Pile. I kept Hard Charm in the deck because it helps in the Seismitoad matchup and the Donphan matchup. You might take it out for a Muscle Band or an Escape Rope, depending on how much Head Ringer is in your area."

This is one way to play Night March. Empoleon gives you continual draw throughout the game, and you can still grab all of your Battle Compressor on your first turn. What if, however, you gave into the temptation and played Shaymin yourself? Why don't we play Shaymin in the first place? The reason we don't play Shaymin in the list above is because Shaymin isn't really helpful for getting Archie's Ace In The Hole into play. You want your hand size to be at zero, and Shaymin really does not help with that. But let's say, hypothetically, that we don't care about Archie's? What would that list look like?

Pokemon: 16

4 Pumpkaboo
4 Joltik
4 Lampent
1 Mew EX
3 Shaymin EX

Trainers: 37

4 Acro Bike
4 Super Scoop Up
4 Ultra Ball
4 Trainers' Mail
1 Computer Search
4 Battle Compressor
2 Muscle Band
1 Float Stone
4 VS Seeker

4 Professor Sycamore
2 Lysandre

3 Dimension Valley

Energy: 7

4 Double Colorless Energy
3 Basic Energy

I highly encourage you to play a few games with both of the decks, and feel the difference. With the first list, you can draw through a good chunk of your deck, but with the second list, you literally draw through almost your whole deck. Every Ultra Ball lets you see at least three new cards, so it is comparable to always flipping heads on Roller Skates.

1 Mew EX

We don't need so many Mew EX in this game. Bench space is also limited because of all the Shaymins, so if we aren't using two Mew we definitely do not want to bench two Mew.

4 Super Scoop Up

As soon as a Shaymin hits the field, Super Scoop Up becomes live, drawing you even more cards if you hit heads. Super Scoop Up makes Shaymin even better than it already is, because on average, every game you will be able to use Shaymin an extra two times.

Less Tools, less Stadiums

With less EX attackers, it is less important to play down the Pokemon Tools with such urgency. Hard Charm is what was cut from the last list, and that was a bit of a luxury anyway. A Stadium is something that clogs up your hand to limit you from drawing as many cards with Shaymin EX. In addition, since you are drawing so many cards on your first turn, you can easily draw into Dimension Valley.

Overall, the difference between the two lists are
-1 Dimension Valley, -1 Trump Card, -1 Hard Charm, -1 Empoleon, -1 Archie's, -1 Jirachi EX, -1 Mew EX
and +3 Shaymin, +4 Super Scoop Up

Night March in Action

Although I have two League Challenge wins under my belt with the first list shown, I'm sure that you all want to see a field-tested version of the deck that has seen results. My friend Edan Lewis was kind enough to talk with me about the list he used at the Regionals in Madison this month.

Edan Lewis is a player in the St. Louis area who made it to the Top Eight in Madison. Edan played Night March with Shaymin and Empoleon on the first day of the tournament, earning a record of 6-2-1. The next day, Edan went 4-1 with Seismitoad/Yveltal.

"Fighting Energy is Computer Search. And I took out Trump Card before the tournament for Trainers' Mail."
Pokemon: 20

4 Lampent
4 Pumpkaboo
4 Joltik
2 Mew EX
1 Jirachi EX
2 Shaymin EX
1 Mr. Mime
1 Exeggcute
1 Empoleon

Trainers: 34

4 Ultra Ball
3 Ultra Ball
4 Trainers’ Mail
4 Battle Compressor
4 VS Seeker
1 Silver Bangle
1 Muscle Band
1 Town Map
1 Computer Search

4 Professor Sycamore
1 Archie’s Ace In The Hole
1 Lysandre
1 N

4 Dimension Valley

Energy: 6

4 Double Colorless Energy
2 Water Energy

What decks did you play against on Day One?

LWL - Toad/Aromattise
WW - Mega Manectric/Camerupt
WW - Medicham/Machamp/Lucario
LL - Toad/Shaymin
WW - Colorless Rayquaza
WLW - Colorless Rayquaza
LW - Toad/Shaymin
WW - Primal Groudon/Wobuffet/Hawlucha/Landorus
LWW - Tool Drop

So you run two Shaymin and no Super Scoop Up. How did that work out?

Really well, I only needed Shaymin to Set Up one or two times. I used Shaymin’s attack to weaken some Megas so I could Set Up again. I used it a lot in my Primal Groudon matchup. I bring up Pumpkaboo because of its Fighting Resistance. I also used it against Colorless Rayquaza, but in some of my games I managed to take down two Rayquazas with eleven Night Marchers in the discard pile. Primarily my first Rayquaza matchup. The second didn’t run Altaria so that was a bit easier.

Did you play against any Seismitoad? What is your strategy against those decks?

I lose!

I try to get Empoleon out [on the] first turn to discard Night Marchers and Quaking Punch/Sky Return to try to stall.

How many did you play against Day One?

Three. I lost to two and tied one. I beat everything but Toad! The tie was Toad/Shaymin. In the third game my board state was ahead of them so I would have probably won.

Night March was a big gamble. I shouldn’t have played it in that meta. I just got grateful with good matchups.

How was Day Two?

I went 4-1 on Day Two with Toad/Yveltal.

WW Primal Groudon/Wobuffet
WLW Entei/Pyroar
WW Toad/Shaymin (Jason K. who took 1st place)
LL Virizion/Genesect (Dane who took 2nd place)
WW Colorless Rayquaza (Andrew Wamboldt) (Read his report here)

In Top Eight I didn't draw very well and couldn't get some Dark Patches off before the Item lock. I found that was crucial in my Swiss match against Jason, plus Jason didn't draw very well during our Swiss match. Jason's deck is very, very consistent and just drew much better than mine did in Top Eight. First game in Top Eight, my Keldeo was prized so I didn't have a way to stop my poison, and 2nd game he didn't play down any Toads so I couldn't get any Toads Head Ringer'ed to delay the Item lock another turn and I didn't get any Dark Patches off to overpower Jason's Toads with Yveltal. There is not much you can do when your opponent hits heads about 80 percent of the time with Crushing Hammers and Super Scoop Ups.

What do you think is in store for Night March in the future?

The Trump Card ban probably pushes the deck to Tier 1-1.5.

--

A big thanks goes to Edan for talking with me about his list, and he gives a different perspective than I do. He plays both Empoleon an Shaymin, while also fitting in Mr. Mime and Exeggcute, which is impressive.

Night March is especially viable in the format after June 15th because of its sheer speed and strength. It is a deck to watch out for and an incredibly strong deck to play. Feel free to try both lists out, and leave any comments or questions down below.

Thanks for reading!
CR

"The Great Mouse in the Sky"- How Raichu Can Be Foxy or Go Batty

Photo Credit: Exteam001
Many of you may have spent this weekend at Pokemon Regionals in Madison, Wisconsin or Athens, Georgia. If you are like me, you spent this weekend not able to go to any Regionals and you coped by watching the stream. If you are actually like me, you spent the night before Regionals lost in Paris, France, frustrated by the poor signage, your lack of French-speaking skills, and you were very tired and simply wanting to get back to your hotel.

Paris's time zone is seven hours ahead of Madison. I went to bed at 11 on Saturday night. I had a little bout of insomnia though, and woke up at 3 AM. I managed to watch Kyle Haverland finish beating a Toad deck, but more importantly I got to see Ross Cawthon play against Alejandro Luna. That was a very interesting game to watch, because we got to see both Raichu and Groudon EX in action taking advantage of the new cards. I might end up writing about Groudon/Wobuffet within the next few days (although it is much less viable without Trump Card), but Raichu with Sky Field is very cool, and I want to share my thoughts about it.

After seeing the results of the first major tournaments that used Roaring Skies, I think we can pick a couple of MVPs of the new set:


Wally

Basic Pokemon are very powerful in the current format, so Evolution cards needed a boost. The boost came in the form of Wally, which is like Evosoda on steroids. Wally lets you accelerate evolution under Item lock, but it is useful even when no one has used Quaking Punch, because it lets you evolve as early as the first turn. Why is Wally an MVP? We saw Kyle Haverland play one in his deck to help get out Aromatisse more easily. It was especially useful against Jason Klacynski when Absol kept getting quick knockouts on Spritzee before Kyle could evolve it.

The most effective use for Wally, however, is to use it to evolve Trevenant XY. A Trevenant deck, piloted by Jorge Feliciano, won the whole shebang in Athens this weekend. Trevenant's ability denies the opponent the ability to play items, so with Wally, half of your opponent's deck could be shut down before they can even take a turn.

Trainers' Mail

In combination with Acro Bike, Trainers' Mail allows you to draw many cards without playing your Supporter for the turn. Trainers' Mail is especially effective when you are trying to dig for a specific Item card in your deck, such as Battle Compressor or Mega Turbo. When you have Item Cards and Trainers' Mail to get cards from the top of your deck, and Ultra Ball, Super Scoop Up, and Shaymin EX to draw more cards, it becomes easier and easier to draw all of the cards you might need.

Shaymin EX

Shaymin EX is the MVP of this set (*cough*). Any deck that isn't using Ability-lock is running some form of this card (all of the decks I watched on stream used it, with the exception of Groudon/Wobuffet) to draw just a few extra cards. Ultra Ball makes it an easily searchable form of draw that doesn't take up your Supporter for the turn. I discussed how important this is when talking about Trainers' Mail, but this is incredibly effective at making sure you draw the cards that you want to see the turn that you need them. Shaymin is undoubtedly a staple, and if you aren't playing with it you need to be countering it.

Sky Field decks of course can be running three or four of these without having to worry about managing their bench space, and even decks like Fairies or V/G should run one or two of these to draw more cards. Super Scoop Up just got a lot more playable, and the format has been changed forever.

Sky Field

Many Pokemon can take advantage of the big blue sky (Image Credit: Pokebeach).
Sky Field of course gave rise to decks revolving around M Rayquaza EX, but also some other decks that weren't necessarily on the radar upon release of the set. Josh "Squeaky" Marking made a video using Florges EX and Sky Field here, and I wrote about using Zoroark LTR with Sky Field here, but Ross Cawthon used a Sky Field deck using Raichu XY to have the best record after Day 1 of Madison Regionals, which is the deck I will be talking about in today's post.

Here is my working list:

Pokemon: 25

2 Yveltal EX
4 Pikachu
4 Raichu
1 Kecleon
4 Zubat
4 Golbat
3 Crobat
1 Exeggcute
4 Shaymin EX
Trainers: 28

1 Muscle Band
4 Ultra Ball
3 VS Seeker
1 Scoop Up Cyclone

2 Lysandre
3 Colress
4 Professor Juniper
4 N

4 Sky Field

Energy: 7

4 Double Colorless Energy
3 Darkness Energy

I won't claim to have a perfect list, by any means. I watched round nine of Madison Regionals, and I have been playing online with the list ever since, but I can't claim to have the ideal Supporter line or count of Pokemon. In fact, there sure are a lot of Pokemon in the deck! It makes it easy to fill your bench with Sky Field, but it also makes it very easy to draw into a hand filled with Pokemon and nothing else. The reason the deck works is because you can play down Sky Field, dump a ton of Basic Pokemon down from your hand, and then use Shaymin to draw more cards! I'll go over some of the cards in the list that I think are interesting:

4-4 Raichu

Don't let the cuteness fool you!
Raichu is the deck's main attacker. I've really been enjoying the 4-4 line, but you may be able to get away with a 4-3 line. Raichu's first attack, Circle Circuit, costs CC and does 20 damage times the number of Benched Pokemon you have in play. This means Raichu can hit for 100 damage with five Benched Pokemon, or with Sky Field he can hit for 160 damage with eight Benched Pokemon. This is enough damage to knock out any Pokemon that aren't Pokemon EX, and we will talk about making up the extra damage to knock those out in a little bit.

2 Yveltal EX
Yveltal EX is a fantastic attacker. He's not a bad starter, because he can be attacking in two attachments. I have started several games where I used Y Cyclone on my second turn to pass the Double Colorless energy to a benched mouse, and you can do this a couple of times doing decent damage while loading up attackers on the bench! In a worst-case scenario, Yveltal EX can just sit on your bench, adding to the damage you do with Circle Circuit.

4 Shaymin EX

I don't know if Ross ran three or four Shaymin, but it is always nice to have the fourth when you have Sky Field in the deck. Shaymin both fills up your bench to fulfill your Circle Circuit requirement, and draws you more cards. If your Shaymin is heavily damaged, the deck runs DCE so that you can use Sky Return to put Skaymin back into your hand, but in general you shouldn't be attacking with him.

4-4-3 Crobat

This line can be trimmed down to 4-3-3, but I actually found myself really missing that fourth Golbat. Golbat's sneaky bite is quite handy for dealing lots of extra damage in the early game, and Crobat's Surprise bite lets you deal that extra damage you need. This is what I was talking about before when I said I would mention how to make up that extra damage. Raichu maxes out at 160 damage, which is twenty short of knocking out an EX. Luckily, Golbat's Sneaky Bite makes it really easy to hit that number! Knocking out a Mega EX takes a little bit more planning and biting, but with bats it becomes very feasible. The most popular Mega EX, M Rayquaza EX, is weak to lightning. If they can't get an Altaria into play to cancel weakness, then it is very easy to knock those guys out. If Altaria is in play though, a couple of Surprise Bites or a few Sneaky Bites still put him into KO range from Raichu!

Exeggcute

Exeggcute PLF has the Propogation Ability which lets it return from your discard pile to your hand. If Sky Field is replaced by another Stadium, you must discard Benched Pokemon until you have only five Pokemon in play. If you elect to discard Exeggcute, you can use Propogation to bench him again the following turn. This minimizes the impact that of having your stadium bumped. The little egg also gives you fodder to discard with Ultra Ball, but often you want to be discarding cards anyway so that you can draw more cards with Shaymin EX when you play Ultra Ball.

4 Juniper, 4 N, 3 Colress, 3 VS Seeker

This Supporter line is not finalized, but it seems to work for now. Four Juniper is a no-brainer, because we want to draw lots of cards, and since we run many Stage 1s, it's okay to discard a few early-game. I had some extra room at the end when I was first building the deck, so I added the fourth N and the third Colress. Because of the high Sky Field count and the sheer number of Pokemon in the deck, Colress is actually an incredibly strong Supporter card even in the early game. But again, even a lack of Supporter does not spell doom, because any Ultra Ball can grab Shaymin EX to draw more cards.

1 Muscle Band

Considering that Raichu is twenty damage short of the knockout, it would seem pretty logical to throw Muscle Bands on him haphazardly. However, Golbat is pretty consistent at laying down that extra damage, so I usually don't even attach Muscle Band to Raichu but to Yveltal or Crobat. Crobat with a Muscle Band knocks out Sigilyph, and Yveltal with Muscle Band can knock out a Wobuffet with Y Cyclone.
When your deck is centered around Pokemon EX, you have to be wary of Head Ringer. This deck's main attacker though is Raichu, so you don't have that danger. Yveltal EX is still in danger of being Ringer'ed, but he isn't integral to our strategy. Muscle Band is a great card, it just happens to be a luxury in this particular deck.

0 Switch/0 Float Stone/0 Escape Rope

Space is a bit tight in this deck, so we don't have room for a Switch card, and we also aren't in great need of one. You can't use Circle Circuit on your first turn, and there are only two Pokemon in the deck with a retreat cost greater than one, so it is not too bad when you start with something that isn't ideal. Yveltal EX does have a retreat cost of two, but you can attach and attack with him, so he isn't a bad starter. If you are feeling quite uncomfortable with the lack of switching cards, Darkrai EX fits quite nicely in the deck.

Scoop Up Cyclone

Our Ace Spec of choice is Scoop Up Cyclone because it lets us reuse Shaymin's Set Up or even a whole Crobat line. In every Crobat deck we have to make this choice, but there are a couple reasons why we go with Scoop Up Cyclone. Computer Search is often used to pick out specific cards like Double Colorless Energy, which isn't quite so urgent in this deck. We also don't have room to use Super Scoop Up, so this lets us have some of that scooping-up ability without devoting so much space to it.
If you want to play a Raichu deck though, and you aren't feeling up to pairing it with Crobat, there is another viable option. Ross was the first seed in Madison after Day 1 with his Raichu/Crobat deck, but the second seed was Andrew Mahone with his Raichu/Ninetails deck. Here is what his list might have looked like:

Pokemon: 21

4 Pikachu
4 Raichu
4 Vulpix
3 Ninetales BW66
1 Ninetales PCL
1 Exeggcute
4 Shaymin EX

Trainers: 31

2 Escape Rope
3 Muscle Band
1 Computer Search
1 Battle Compressor
2 Revive
4 Ultra Ball
3 VS Seeker

4 N
3 Colress
4 Professor Juniper
1 Lysandre

3 Sky Field

Energy: 8

4 Double Colorless Energy
4 Fire Energy

(Edit: Andrew posted his list from Madison on Pokebeach! You can view that here!)

3 Ninetales BW66

Ninetales' Bright Look says, "When you play this Pokemon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokemon, you may switch 1 of your opponent's Benched Pokemon with his or her Active Pokemon." In other words, when you play Ninetales down from your hand, you get to use an effect similar to Lysandre in that you can drag up any Pokemon you want from your opponent's bench.

Without Crobat doing the extra damage, Raichu can't always knock out the Defending Pokemon in one hit. We don't want to waste an attack if we aren't getting a knockout, and that is where Bright Look can be quite useful. Even if there is no Sky Field in play, there only need to be three Pokemon on the bench for Circle Circuit to get the knockout on Shaymin EX. With Ninetales, it becomes significantly easier to drag up those Shaymin EXes to take those last few prizes that you need.

1 Ninetales PCL

Ninetales PCL has the ability to stop anyone from playing a Stadium card. Since Sky Field is integral for Raichu to hit big numbers (this is compounded by the decided lack of Crobat), Ninetales can "lock" your stadium in play. If you play Ninetales down before you play down Sky Field however, then you won't be able to use play the Stadium though, so you have to time that right!

You have to be careful when using Ninetales however against decks like Donphan or Primal Groudon EX, because both of those cards have the ability to discard a Stadium card in play. If you have Sky Field and Ninetales PCL in play, and your opponent uses Wreck or Gaia Volcano, you won't be able to play down Sky Field!

3 Muscle Band

In the Crobat version of the deck, we didn't have to run such a high count of Muscle Band. In this version though, we need to be hitting 180 damage with Circle Circuit, and a higher count of Muscle Band helps to facilitate that.

2 Revive, 1 Battle Compressor

I got pretty excited here and tried to fit in the Revive/Battle Compressor Engine, but there isn't enough room in the deck to take full advantage of it. I talked about this engine when I talked about Zoroark, but the basic idea is to use an early Battle Compressor to toss a couple of Basic Pokemon. Later in the game, when you draw into Revive, you get a free Benched Pokemon at a low cost. Revive has another function in this deck as it helps you immediately raise the number of Pokemon on your bench if your Sky Field gets bumped by another Stadium.



The End of the Mouse Tale

This deck is really fun. It doesn't have the sheer power of a Rayquaza deck, but its strategy is quite similar and it doesn't require an EX attacker. I encourage you to try it out, and props to Ross and Andrew for pioneering these new, cool decks.

As always, please write below if you have any comments or questions!
CR