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Mission Report – Tournament Reports from ARG and Collinsville with a brief analysis of Collinsville Regionals

Hello readers! I am Darin O’Meara and welcome to yet another article! Today I will be sharing with you tournament reports from my past couple of bigger tournaments, as well as a look back on the recently completed Collinsville Regionals in the Expanded Format.

ARG Circuit Series

argI showed up to the ARG Circuit Series in Medina the weekend before Collinsville with one goal in mind: don’t flop like last time and earn an invite to the ARG Invitational. Most of my friends had planned on going after earning their invites from ARG States, and I didn’t want to be left out. I came to the event with something new, an Yveltal/Garb list that I planned on playing for the event. However, after surveying the field, I wussed out and once again whipped out my Vespiquen deck for the tournament. I noticed a rather large showing of Yveltal/Garb and new Sun and Moon stuff at the event, so I decided to cut the Zoroark line and include a Zebstrika line just for this tournament. Here’s the list –

Pokemon – 27 Trainers – 29 Energy – 4
4x Combee AOR 9 4x Professor Sycamore 4x Double Colorless Energy
4x Vespiquen AOR 10 2x N
2x Blitzle BKP 48 2x Lysandre
2x Zebstrika BKP 49 1x Teammates
2x Eevee AOR 63
1x Flareon AOR 13 4x Ultra Ball
1x Vaporeon AOR 22 4x VS Seeker
3x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 4x Acro Bike
4x Unown AOR 30 2x Revitalizer
3x Klefki STS 80 2x Special Charge
1x Tauros-GX SM 100 2x Float Stone
2x Forest of Giant Plants

*note: Unless you KNOW there is a lot of Yveltal/Garb at your event, I would highly suggest Zoroark over Zebstrika.

I ended up going 5-2 on the day, earning Top 16 and my Invitational invite. Here’s how my matches went –

darkraiRound 1 – vs. Turbo Dark?? (L)

My memory is fuzzy on this one, but I’m pretty sure it was Turbo Dark and I know I lost, so there’s that.

Round 2 – Decidueye/Attackers (W)

Having Zebstrika was helpful here as it dissuaded him from using Lugia. He managed to get 2-3 Decidueye out, but I got a Flareon down that was able to survive for an extended period of time, making it difficult for him to keep his attackers alive. The game came within two prizes, but I was able to lock it up.decidueye

Round 3- Turbo Dark (L)

This game made me really mad. After being forced to discard 3 Vespiquen by turn 3 to keep up, the game came down to one prize. I N’ed him to one and began using Horn Attack with Tauros-GX as he was my last attacker. All I needed was to find my VS Seeker that was in the last six cards of my deck for me to Lysandre up a damaged Darkrai-EX and win. After two turns, he retreated his active Darkrai-EX to avoid a KO. After four, with his next Darkrai-EX 60 away from a KO, he top decked Olympia to move it to safety. After my fifth whiff on my VS Seeker out of what was a six card deck, he top decks Sycamore, to which he draws his one copy of Enhanced Hammer out of a 30 card deck to knock off my last DCE and make me lose. The odds of this situation happening were so incredibly low that I was insanely ticked off afterwards.

Round 4- Mega Mewtwo/Garb (W)

mewtwoI once again draw an opening hand of three Vespiquen and no draw but Sycamore. After draw-passing for a while to try and get another draw method, he takes a KO on a Combee. I finally Sycamore since I had really no other choice. The game comes down to the wire and ends with me being forced to Lysandre up a Mewtwo-EX with no energy and continually Horn Attack to eventually KO it in three turns after he can’t find the DCE to retreat after a one-card N. I squeak out a win, but I’m not happy with the way the deck is running.

Round 5 (W) – Don’t remember anything to be honest, all I remember is that I won.

Round 6 – Solgaleo/Lurantis (W)

solgaleoThis game spooked me a bit, as I was facing a friend in JW Kriewall. As we set up, he asked if I played Marowak (Andrew Mahone had it in his Vespiquen list for the tournament), which I replied I didn’t. This made me realize he included Giratina-EX in his list, which was 99% impossible to deal with if he can get an attack off with it with a Solgaleo-GX on the field. I manage to get a Tauros-GX out to deal with Giratina-EX, and he can’t KO it with Solgaleo-GX, so he instead moves Giratina-EX away and uses Flower Supply with Lurantis-GX. I had Horn Attacked Giratina-EX the previous turn, and the 40 from Flower Supply gave me just enough damage on Tauros-GX to OHKO Giratina-EX with a Lysandre Mad Bull GX play. By the time he used Super Rod to shuffle his Giratina-EX back out, I already established a Flareon, and was able to take the last KOs before he could get it swinging. Spooky, but I take the W.

So now I’m in a win-and-get-an-invite situation, since all 5-2’s were going to get Invitational invites as part of the Top 16. I figure out that about 75% of my potential opponents were decks I had fairly good matchups against, so I came in confident. However, variance wasn’t on my side.

Round 7 – PlumeBox (W)

plumeI sit down and my opponent gets an Oddish going first. Great, of all decks I face PlumeBox. She whiffs Turn 1 and Turn 2 Plume, and I capitalize. In the two turns of items I got, I got out a couple Vespiquen and a Tauros-GX with a Float Stone. I take a Lysandre KO on a Mew-EX with Vespiquen, and then a Mad Bull-GX KO on a Glaceon-EX that used Crystal Ray on Tauros-GX. She then Lysandre’d up a Shaymin-EX, hit it once, then passed with it active until there was something she could do. Knowing she had no way of N’ing me out of my one Lysandre for game (both of her Ns were discarded), I drew-passed with her until she either KO’d my Shaymin-EX or I drew the DCE to retreat into Tauros-GX and use my last Lysandre for game. She eventually KO’d the Shaymin-EX, so I brought up Tauros-GX and Lysandre’d a benched Shaymin-EX for a Rage KO.

Having a Tauros-GX with a Float Stone down meant that no matter if she attacked with Jolteon-EX or Glaceon-EX, I could still deal damage, take KOs and rotate between the two at will.

zebbyI was a bit frustrated post-tournament since I included Zebstrika specifically for this tournament and ran into none of the Yveltal decks there. But hey, 5-2 was enough to get my ARG invite.

Me and two of my friends all finished 5-2, and we figured out that two 5-2’s would make it to Top 8. I wasn’t very confident since I started 1-2 and my resistance was not good because of it, but I was hopeful. Me and my two 5-2 friends didn’t make Top eight, but I stuck around for my friend Alex in Top 8 (he made it to Top 4 before losing to Andrew Mahone). Congrats to Alex on making Top 4 and congrats to Andrew on winning the event!

Collinsville Regionals

raikouIn the week leading to Regionals, I had no clue what to play. I had written about the four I considered, and I was torn between them. On Thursday, the night before we left, I finally decided on Raikou/Eels, and was delighted to find a couple of my friends, Justin and Andrew, decided the same.

eelOur carpool got to our hotel happy and laughing, seemingly full of energy since we were talking and having fun the full 8-hour car ride. The other car was… a bit dreary. That didn’t stop us from playing some games though.

The next day I made some last minute decisions on my list and used this final list after input from Andrew and Justin and from watching their test games the night prior (Justin and I got into a pretty heated debate about the deck on the car ride). Here’s my list –

Pokemon – 15 Trainers – 35 Energy – 10
4x Raikou BKT 55 4x Professor Sycamore 8x Lightning Energy
4x Tynamo NVI 38 2x N 2x Double Colorless Energy
4x Eelektrik NVI 40 1x Lysandre
1x Mewtwo-EX LTR 54 1x Hex Maniac
1x Gallade BKT 84 1x Karen
1x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 1x Colress
1x Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick
4x VS Seeker
4x Ultra Ball
3x Battle Compressor
3x Fighting Fury Belt
2x Float Stone
2x Evosoda
1x Level Ball
1x Super Rod
1x Computer Search
3x Rough Seas

I ended up finishing 3-3-1 drop – far from the record I was hoping for. Here’s my matchups –

Round 1 – Donphan (LL)

donphanWow, variance hates me. Of all people to get paired with I get paired with Donphan round one. I of course get rolled, taking a single prize all series. I stood no chance at all and am not happy with my bad luck.

Round 2 – Yveltal/Maxie’s (WLW)

I easily take game one as he is unable to get out an Archeops, but game two he Ghetsis’s away my whole hand, putting me in top deck mode. Game three went pretty similar to game one.

Round 3 – Mega Scizor/Bronzong (WW)

mega scizorNot only does Raikou have Metal resistance, but it also doesn’t rely on special energy, making Mega Scizor’s disruption useless. By taking 40 less damage every hit, I take an easy W.

Round 4 – Trevenant BREAK/Espeon-GX (LWT)

trevThe first game entails heavy dead draw for me. Even after whiffing the first turn Trevenant, I draw pass. This makes it nearly impossible for me to win, which is where I made my mistake. I should’ve scooped this game way sooner. Game two I get everything I need to and am able to take out Trevenants left and right, with a Mewtwo-EX ready to take out an opposing Espeon-GX. This game isn’t too hard. Game three I start similar to game one. He whiffs turn one Trevenant, I draw, use a couple cards, but pass with not much to do. I top deck out of it however, and manage to take out a Trevenant and an Espeon-GX when time is called. Had I had more time this game would’ve definitely gone to me, but my stubbornness in game one cost me a W.

Round 5 – Turbo Dark (LL)

darkraiGame one I start off hot. I take KOs on Darkrai-EX and Shaymin-EX, leaving me at two prizes with no Gallade on the field. He N’s me down to two, and I draw pass until I lose. Game two I am unable to get Gallade out, and he rolls me. Now I’m out of Day 2 contention.

Round 6 – Lapras-GX WaterBox (LWW)

laprasThis game was against my friend Joey Nawal running a deck I knew was rough for me. Not only could he use Rough Seas to heal his already huge Lapras-GX, but he could OHKO Raikou with the use of Megaphone and Professor Kukui. Game one goes as expected, as I stood little chance. Game two proved otherwise, as three Max Elixirs didn’t go his way, allowing me to KO a Lapras-GX, then a Shaymin-EX and Manaphy-EX to close it out after a late game N. Knowing we were close to time, we made a prize agreement, since a tie would put both of us out of Top 64 contention. I let him KO my first Raikou so I could bring up another and Lysandre Manaphy-EX, putting me one prize ahead going into his turn – turn 3 of time. He needs to hit a Megaphone in order to close it out, as otherwise he cannot OHKO Raikou and I would be ahead in prizes. After a Sycamore and a Trainers’ Mail, he doesn’t find it, so I take the game.

Round 7 – Lurantis-GX/Eeveelutions (LL)

lurantisI should’ve taken this handily, but I dead draw game one, giving me little chance. Game two I get off to a hot start and am taking out Lurantis-GX and others left and right. However, he Lysandre stalls an Eelektrik, and my last Float Stone is prized. Cutting AZ came back to bite me, and I scooped before I could deck out.

I drop at 3-3-1. Once I hit a losing streak I start playing really lazy and hardly think about what I’m doing, so might as well stop. I simply go to the corner to hang out with some friends and play some Old Format decks. A few of my friends were on hot streaks, namely Alex with Turbo Dark (of course) at 5-2, Frank with Yveltal/Maxie’s at 5-2, and Andrew at 6-1 piloting a very different Raikou/Eels list. Unfortunately, Alex lost that round but finished 6-3, and Frank lost his win-and-in to go 6-3, and both missed Top 64 as only 6-2-1’s and up were included in a clean cut. Andrew went into Top 32 at 8-1, but unfortunately missed Top 8 and Top 16.

We went back to our hotel in St. Louis and had a lot of fun hanging out with friends and just having a good time. It was by far one of my best Regionals experiences, as until this year I never could say that I had a defined group that I could have a good time with after events.

joltikLooking back I definitely would not have played Raikou/Eels, and would’ve picked something I’m more comfortable with. I should’ve played Night March and disregarded the previous week’s LC result as a fluke due to the odd meta it had. I’m comfortable with Night March and I know how to play it inside and out. It did fairly well at St. Louis, taking two Day 2 slots and one Top 4 slot, meaning it obviously wasn’t a BAD play.

What we learned from Collinsville

Overall, we learned that the Expanded format is incredibly difficult to predict. The amount of decks that topped was extremely high, with no one deck taking over four slots in day two. Here’s a table of all the decks in Top 32 ordered by placements –

Deck Placements
Lurantis-GX/Vileplume 4
Mega Gardevoir STS 4
Volcanion-EX 3
Mega Rayquaza 2
Night March 2
Yveltal-EX/Maxie’s 2
Turbo Darkrai-EX 2
Aerodactyl/Talonflame 2
Decidueye-GX/Vileplume 1
Accelgor/Wobbuffet 1
Seismitoad-EX/Decidueye-GX 1
Darkrai-EX/Dragons 1
Raikou/Eelektrik 1
Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX 1
Vespiquen/Vileplume 1
Trevenant BREAK 1
Vespiquen/Flareon 1
Primal Groudon 1
Rainbow Road 1

As you can see, 19 different decks made Day 2, with several new faces. New decks like Lurantis/Vileplume joined older archetypes like Yveltal/Maxie’s giving an increased variety in the decks in Day 2. Top 8 was even more diverse, featuring eight different decks and some new archetypes –

1. Alex Wilson – M Rayquaza
2. John Kettler – Decidueye-GX/Vileplume
3. Rahul Reddy – Volcanion
4. John Sienkiewicz – Night March
5. Anthony Nimmons – Accelgor/Wobbuffet
6. Alex Schemanske – Seismitoad-EX/Decidueye-GX/Wobbuffet
7. Ross Cawthon – Lurantis-GX/Vileplume
8. Israel Sosa – Yveltal-EX/Maxie’s

megarayIn the end, it was Alex Wilson who took the tournament by storm, going undefeated in Day One and winning in the end with an archetype that was essentially counted out. Mega Rayquaza was a strong play since the use of Parallel City in expanded is not nearly as high as standard, while the deck can continually keep up the pressure on anything not involving item lock, while being ale to take out Turn 1 item lock if it can win the coin flip..

Runner up John Kettler took his success in standard with Decidueye/Vileplume and translated it into Expanded. The deck was different than most of the other Vileplume decks in the tournament, but it had several merits over them. Decidueye/Vileplume can stall with an opposing Pokemon in the active and still do damage, making it frustrating. In addition, item lock is extremely strong in expanded, so the Vileplume itself shut down many opponents for Kettler. Kettler probably would’ve won the tournament had it not been for the infamous triple-prized Rowlet game.

volcanionRahul Reddy piloted a Volcanion deck, translating the deck from Standard to Expanded. In Expanded, the deck gained Superior Energy Retrieval and Blacksmith, making it a force to be reckoned with. He took advantage of the Lurantis/Vileplume hype to dispose of those types of decks easily, but ultimately lost to Mega Rayquaza, a matchup that can’t really be remedied.

John Sienkiewicz piloted Night March, a deck that always needs to be looked out for. Sienkiewicz opted to include a Tauros-GX in his list to improve the item lock matchups, as they normally can’t OHKO it, allowing Tauros-GX to hit for massive damage. Tauros-GX gives Night March a whole new fire, as it now has answers to a lot of the decks that gave it so much trouble in the past. He fell to Decidueye-GX Vileplume, as expected, since even with Tauros-GX that matchup is near impossible due to Decidueye-GX’s high HP and Vileplume’s item lock.

accelgorAnthony Nimmons piloted Accelgor/Wobbuffet, a deck one of my friends played for the tournament. The deck is strong if the math works out correctly, as the lock can seemingly go on forever if you can manipulate the damage output so your opponent’s active is KO’d going into the Accelgor player’s turn. The reduced use of Keldeo-EX made the deck even stronger, and gave Nimmons a Top 8 finish.

Alex Schemanske used the hyped Seismitoad/Decidueye deck to get himself a top 8 finish. Seismitoad-EX’s item lock combined with toadDecidueye-GX’s damage through Feather ?Arrow allowed Seismitoad-EX to have a whole new increased damage output. It also gave the deck versatility, as it could hit with Decidueye-GX whenever needed, and could also use Hollow Hunt GX to regain much needed resources.

Ross Cawthon piloted Lurantis/Vileplume to his Top 8 finish. Before the start of the tournament, I had tons of people coming up to our group asking for BCR Oddish and Gloom along with Pal Pad for use in this deck, so it had a decent bit of hype going in. Lurantis/Vilplume combined energy acceleration and item lock perfectly, as the deck seemingly never ran out of steam. It could constantly take KOs and even heal itself, and could use Chloroscythe GX to knock out most Pokemon in the game in one hit when needed. The deck was incredibly strong and could defeat most decks in the game, but came across Kettler’s Decidueye/Vileplume, and Lurantis-GX cannot 2-hit KO Decidueye-GX without Chloroscythe GX, making it rough for him and ending his run.

baconbirdIsrael Sosa played Yveltal/Maxie’s, proving the deck is still one of the top in Expanded. The deck is incredibly established, taking the most CP of any deck in Expanded so far. With all the new decks coming into the light, this may not last, but it was enough to make it to Top 8 in the tournament before falling to Rahul’s Volcanion deck.

We learned that Expanded is the birthplace of innovation, as several new decks sprout up almost every regionals. Who would’ve expected Aerodactyl/Talonflame after all? We also learned that it’s aerodactylessentially play item lock or play around it. A lot of the top decks used item locks or had its ways around it. Also, expanded is a really annoying format. The prevalence of things like Ghetsis, Hypnotoxic Laser, and the immense amount of lock make it not fun to play at times, but hey, that’s Pokemon for ya.

Thanks for reading, and I’m sorry this article is so brief. After Regionals I’ve been focusing on tennis; tryouts are this week and I’m trying to lock up the 2nd singles spot. Look out for Saturday’s article!

Hypnotoxicity and ANOTHER GHETSIS?!?!?!?! – A preview of St. Louis Regionals

laserHello again readers! My name is Darin O’Meara and welcome to another article! Again, thank you all so much for the support on these Pokemon articles, I’m loving writing them and I’m glad you’re enjoying reading them!

Today we are going to take a look at the next Regionals in line, St. Louis Regionals. I will be in attendance at St. Louis, so if you see me or play against me, say hi! It would seriously make my day, especially if I end up flopping.

The Expanded Format

St. Louis will be played in Expanded, home to much criticism about toxic cards (literally) and toxic combos, with a plethora of decks to choose from. There are about 20 viable decks in expanded to choose from, making the decision extremely difficult to make when it finally comes time to pick a deck. Let’s take a look at the top 5 decks by Championship Point earnings in Expanded Regionals so far (thanks to TheCharizardLounge for their database).

Deck Championship Point Earnings in Expanded Regionals
Yveltal-EX/Maxie’s 1000
Trevenant BREAK 656
Greninja BREAK 640
Night March 312
Seismitoad-EX/Crobat 304

*apologies if anything is incorrect.

tinapromoAs you can see, Yveltal/Maxie’s is by far the best deck in the format. In your testing you should be able to beat it, or should be playing it, as you will see the deck in the tournament. Outside of this, the lines of relevancy blur from past results. The recently released Giratina Promo hurts both Trevenant BREAK and Greninja BREAK, possibly scaring them a bit and affecting their play. Some of these results come from a time when Karen was not in the format, giving Night March most of its Championship Points whereas now it isn’t nearly as viable as it once was, and Seismitoad/Crobat is now involved in a debate for whether the Crobat version or the Decidueye-GX version is better. Also, in addition to all of this, the formats for these were pre-Sun and Moon, with two being in the PRC-STS format.

baconbirdYveltal/Maxie’s should still be a top deck however, but the rest are yet to see. Trevenant BREAK doesn’t take a huge hit from the Giratina Promo like Greninja BREAK does. You should expect to see Trevenant BREAK, but not so much Greninja BREAK. It would be a huge risk to play Greninja BREAK, but some players may be willing to chance it.

So, what should you play for St. Louis? Let’s take a look at some decks my testing group and I are considering. DO NOTE – these decks are what I am personally considering, and Yveltal/Maxie’s is not included simply because I have no experience with the deck and it’s too late for me to learn it properly and use it effectively (also I prefer to deviate from the meta usually). Each deck will have a list, a rundown of how the deck works, notable inclusions in the list, and its strengths and weaknesses.

Vespiquen/Flareon

vespiThis may make me seem a bit biased because of my inherent love for Vespiquen, but hear me out. Vespiquen/Flareon could be a great call for this tournament. However, it’s main drawback, Karen, can single-handedly shut down the whole deck, making it a huge risk. All you gotta do is get some attackers out, maybe some tech Pokemon too, Battle Compressor away what isn’t needed, and swing for 2-shots or 1-shots. Let’s take a look at a list that my testing partner and friend Justin Boughter and I have tested out a bit.

Pokemon – 28 Trainers – 28 Energy – 4
4x Combee AOR 9 4x Professor Sycamore 4x Double Colorless Energy
4x Vespiquen AOR 10 2x Lysandre
4x Eevee PLF 90 1x N
4x Flareon PLF 12 1x Teammates
4x Unown AOR 30 1x Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick
3x Shaymin-EX ROS 77
1x Jirachi-EX PLB 60 4x Battle Compressor
1x Marowak FCO 37 4x Ultra Ball
1x Jolteon AOR 26 4x VS Seeker
1x Gallade BKT 84 2x Special Charge
1x Wobbuffet PHF 36 1x Float Stone
1x Silver Bangle
1x Life Dew
2x Tropical Beach

flareonplfSince the deck needs so many Pokemon to function properly, we have the option to run several different tech Pokemon, as they can just be thrown away with Battle Compressor if unneeded. Let’s examine some of the different tech Pokemon and Trainer options this deck uses.

Maxie’s Marowak + Gallade

This deck runs a small Maxie’s engine possessing two targets, Gallade and Marowak. Gallade is insanely good once it hits the field, essentially galladeallowing you to stack your deck. It’s synergy with Unown is great, as Gallade makes each one of your Unown an OP Trainers’ Mail, capable of grabbing any card from the top five of your deck. Gallade’s main purpose, however, is as an attacker and a counter to Darkrai-EX. Darkrai-EX’s massive HP when a Fighting Fury Belt is attached makes it trouble for Vespiquen/Flareon. Gallade, for one DCE, can come onto the field out of nowhere and take a OHKO on a Darkrai-EX, netting you an easy two prizes and eliminating a threat from the field. Getting two Gallade out in a game against Turbo Dark essentially wins you the game. Also, Gallade can OHKO Tauros-GX, which is receiving a bit of hype due to its performance in Standard. In additon, Gallade acts as a sort of Karen buffer, giving you a big-damage attacker to use if Karen should ever hit the field while Gallade is out.

marowakMarowak is used primarily for Giratina-EX, but it also helps against Seismitoad-EX. Giratina-EX essentially ruins the deck unless a counter is played, as you won’t be able to make a single energy attachment unless they miss a Chaos Wheel for a turn. Marowak eliminates that problem, nullifying Chaos Wheel’s effect and allowing you to attach DCE’s, drop Tropical Beaches, and drop a Silver Bangle and/or a Float Stone. Without Marowak, facing Giratina-EX means eminent doom, but with it, you have a chance. It also helps against Seismitoad-EX, allowing you to play your item cards when you otherwise wouldn’t be able to, but the matchup against Seismitoad-EX is already good due to its grass-type weakness and the fact that it gives you at least one turn to get out Combee and throw some stuff in the discard.

Jolteon AOR

jolteonJolteon has become a very common inclusion for Vespiquen/Flareon decks because of Yveltal/Maxie. Since you already play Eevee, dropping a Jolteon is as easy as dropping a Flareon, and lets your Vespiquen and Flareon hit for weakness against Yveltal-EX, making it a lot easier to take out earlier in the game. The reason for Jolteon’s inclusion is pretty simple, and there isn’t much else to it. If you aren’t facing Yveltal, you’ll usually discard it, save for the odd Mega Rayquaza deck.

Wobbuffet

wobbWobbuffet is here in case of a Turn 1 Archeops play. A turn one Arhceops is devastating without Wobbuffet, as Archeops won’t let you evolve into your attackers. If Archeops were ever to hit the field, Wobbuffet can be put down and promoted to the active position, shutting off Archeops’s ability and allowing you to evolve. With Maxie’s engines becoming more and more common, Wobbuffet becomes more and more needed.

Life Dew

lifedewOften times people will opt for Computer Search as the Ace Spec for most decks, but Vespiquen/Flareon benefits heavily from Life Dew. If it can’t be Tool Scrappered or Megaphoned off, Life Dew makes the opponent need to take seven prizes against either benched Pokemon or high-damage-output Vespiquens and Flareons. This gives you a huge advantage in the prize trade and allows you to take leads or regain control of matches where you are losing the prize trade.

Teammates

teammatesTeammates is very strong in this deck and allows you to always hit the combo you need. Often times it’s an evolution + DCE or sometimes just a DCE and a VS Seeker to do it again next turn. Since your Flareons or Vespiquens will, in most cases, be knocked out every turn, Teammates lets you find any two cards over and over again, making it extremely valuable to a deck that needs to find specific resources in almost every turn.

2x Tropical Beach

beachA lot of times lists will play only one or zero Tropical Beaches, but I think two is great for the deck. Tropical Beach helps with the deck’s consistency so much starting from Turn 1. Stuck on a bad hand? If you have a Tropical Beach, you can refill your hand and find more resources. Even if you’ve popped off Turn 1, you can’t attack anyway, so using Tropical Beach to refill your hand makes it so you are constantly applying pressure and giving yourself an even higher capability for damage. It also gives you a stadium to get rid of harmful stadiums such as Virbank City Gym or Parallel City, as well as making you less Shaymin-EX reliant, as Tropical Beach can be used to fill your hand at the end of your turn instead of benching a Shaymin-EX which could turn into two prizes for your opponent. If you can find a couple Tropical Beach to use for the tournament or are willing to suck it up and buy a couple, it makes for a great and almost needed inclusion.

Strengths

  • The deck can hit for huge numbers with a non-EX attacker, allowing you to win the prize trade.
  • It has a favorable matchup against the best deck in the format, Yveltal/Maxie’s, although it can be difficult at times due to Archeops.
  • Most of its matchups are favorable unless the opposing deck opts to play Karen.

Weaknesses

  • Due to its high item count, a Turn 1 Ghetsis can be devastating.
  • Giratina-EX is rough, as it stops you from using DCE’s unless Marowak can hit the field. Hitting a Maxie’s into Marowak is not always possible, and if Marowak gets Lysandre’d and KO’d, it’s difficult to reinstate him and recover.
  • Trevenant BREAK is a big issue, causing item lock in a heavy item-reliant deck from the get-go. If you go first you have a decent shot, but going second often means defeat as it does for several decks against Trevenant BREAK.
  • Karen shuts this deck down completely. If your opponent has decided to include Karen in their list, you can’t recover against most matchups, as it is difficult to stack up your discard pile after it’s played, and the opponent can always replay the Karen.

darkraiTurbo Darkrai

Turbo Darkrai is very simple and relatively easy to pick up. Discard dark energies, utilize Yveltal, Dark Patches, and Max Elixirs to stack energies on multiple Darkrai-EX, and swing for massive damage. It can be very strong against many decks, but is often checked by Gallade. Here is a list my friend Alex Holtz has been working on (religiously since he plays literally nothing else) along with Justin –

Pokemon – 10 Trainers – 38 Energy – 12
3x Darkrai-EX BKP 74 4x Professor Sycamore 12x Darkness Energy
1x Darkrai-EX LTR 88 2x N
2x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 2x Lysandre
1x Hoopa-EX AOR 36 1x Pokemon Center Lady
1x Yveltal GEN RC16 1x AZ
1x Mew FCO 29 1x Hex Maniac
1x Sableye DEX 62 1x Colress
1x Karen
4x VS Seeker
4x Ultra Ball
4x Dark Patch
4x Max Elixir
2x Trainers’ Mail
2x Battle Compressor
2x Fighting Fury Belt
1x Computer Search
2x Reverse Valley

Turbo Darkrai is usually pretty straight forward, but this list does has a couple tech cards and notable inclusions.

Sableye

sableyeSableye overall is a great card. It helps a ton against mill decks, letting you get back resources they discarded, Junk Hunt is a great attack to use turn 1 when you won’t be able to do much damage anyway, and it’s great for boosting your damage output and continuing your explosion of board state, allowing you to reuse Dark Patches and Max Elixirs. It can also be great late game to recover lost resources to give you the maximum chance of closing it out. Also, its Confuse Ray attack can be used if you’re in a seriously large pickle.

Mew

mewMew is in here as a one-prize attacker capable of dealing just as much damage as a Darkrai-EX, as well as for handling Gallade. Mew can dispose of a Gallade for two energy just like Mewtwo-EX can, but as a one-prize attacker that can be used in every matchup besides just against Gallade. Beware though, if your opposition can Hex Maniac and attack with Gallade in the same turn, your Mew won’t be able to return the KO (if you’re worried about this, consider Mewtwo-EX). Mew can hit for huge numbers by copying Dark Pulse, and can be amazing to force your opponent into a seven-prize game, forcing them to KO the Mew as well as three Darkrai-EX.

Pokemon Center Lady

pclPokemon Center Lady, at first glance, looks underwhelming. After all, it only heals 60 and removes one special condition. However, that 60 is huge. Decks that rely on 2-shots often use exact math to calculate the energy needed or damage needed to take a 2-hit KO, and Pokemon Center Lady messes with their math, making it so you become a 3-shot instead of a 2-shot. Also, in expanded, there is Hypnotoxic Laser, and Pokemon Center Lady lets you remove its poison, or its sleep if you were to be that unlucky. Also, should you be paired against the odd Accelgor/Wobbuffet deck, Pokemon Center Lady helps immensely, letting you rid yourself of the paralysis.

karenKaren

Karen turns your matchups against Vespiquen/Flareon and Night March into essentially autowins. It destroys Vespiquen/Flareon to a degree they usually can’t recover from, and hurts Night March enough to let you take advantage of the situation. It can also be used to shuffle your opponent’s Gallade back into their deck to prevent the easy Maxie’s play.

Strengths

  • Extremely high damage capability.
  • Has several energy acceleration options, so energy starvation is usually not an issue.
  • High HP makes it difficult to OHKO.
  • Relatively easy to play and execute.

Weaknesses

  • Due to its high item count, a Turn 1 Ghetsis can be devastating.
  • If an opponent gets two or more Gallade out in a game, you generally lose, meaning the game can be out of your control sometimes. This is pretty much its main weakness.
  • Trevenant can possibly catch you on a bad hand if it goes first, as you play a lot of items. Also Zygarde/Carbink is an autoloss if you’re so unfortunate to face it.

Night March

Oh boy everyone, grab your pitchforks and get out the torches because DARIN’S COVERING DEGEN MARCH!!! Night March works a lot like Vespiquen/Flareon as it revolves around Pokemon in the discard pile, but instead of discarding any Pokemon, they have to be Pokemon with the Night March attack. This deck is straight forward – use Battle Compressor to get rid of Night Marchers, use techs to help take KOs or help board state, and swing for huge numbers for just a DCE on a tiny little Joltik or Pumpkaboo. Night March is on thin ice right now, as item lock is so hyped and Karen exists. However, item lock may be less successful than people think. Since Seismitoad-EX is so hyped right now, people will be apt to counter it, possibly landing it at bottom tables and and allowing Night March to prosper through hitting the right matchups. Let’s take a look at a list I cooked up on the most toxic grill possible –

Pokemon – 19 Trainers – 37 Energy – 4
4x Joltik PHF 26 4x Professor Sycamore 4x Double Colorless Energy
4x Pumpkaboo PHF 44 1x N
4x Lampent PHF 42 1x Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick
3x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 1x Lysandre
1x Jirachi-EX PLB 60 1x Teammates
1x Tauros-GX SM 100
1x Gallade BKT 84 4x VS Seeker
1x Marowak FCO 37 4x Trainers’ Mail
4x Ultra Ball
4x Puzzle of Time
4x Battle Compressor
1x Town Map
1x Special Charge
1x Target Whistle
1x Tool Scrapper
1x Float Stone
1x Fighting Fury Belt
1x Computer Search
2x Dimension Valley

Similar to Vespiquen/Flareon, Night March has a lot of tech options, but they are mostly Trainer cards due to its use of Puzzle of Time. Let’s look at some notable inclusions –

Maxie’s Marowak + Gallade

maxieBoth of these are used in Night March for the exact same reasons they’re used in Vespiquen/Flareon. Gallade helps against Turbo Dark and lets you stack your deck essentially, improving consistency, while Marowak prevents Giratina-EX from destroying you. Marowak is more important in Night March than it is in Vespiquen because it can’t hit Seismitoad-EX for weakness like Vespiquen can, so it is more pivotal in Night March’s Seismitoad-EX matchup than it is in Vespiquen/Flareon’s. Refer back to the previous evaluation of Gallade and Marowak in the Vespiquen/Flareon section for a more in-depth look at these cards, as mostly everything is the same.

Tauros-GX

taurosTauros-GX is here for a few reasons. Number 1, it helps a ton against Seismitoad and Trevenant. Seismitoad and Trevenant massively hurt you with item lock. However, by getting a Tauros-GX out, you suddenly have a beefy 180-HP attacker capable of taking multiple knockouts. Seismitoad-EX and Trevenant both can’t KO Tauros-GX in a short amount of time, letting you take at least one easy KO with Mad Bull GX and allowing you to do even more damage with Rage as Tauros-GX takes more and more damage. Strapping a Fighting Fury Belt to Tauros-GX before item lock hits makes him even more deadly. It can also be used as a wall against decks that don’t OHKO it should Night March not be possible for whatever reason.

Number 2, it acts as a safety net against Karen. Once Karen hits the field, you’ll often need a bit of time to get Night Marchers back in the discard pile. Tauros-GX can attack and soak up damage to take a KO and bide time, allowing you to refill your discard and start swinging again.

townmapTown Map

A lot of times you’ll have multiple Night Marchers prized, and getting these out to fuel your discard enough to start hitting reliable OHKOs is important. It also allows you to get valuable resources you need for the next turn directly out of your prizes, making it even easier to win the game by getting exactly the resources you need to aid you in winning the game.

Special Charge

special-chargeOwen Robinson turned me onto this idea. Special Charge lets you replenish your DCEs without needing Puzzles to do it. By using Puzzles for other cards, you can make it easier for you to take KOs constantly by abusing your tech cards or supporters, and also allows you to play around Karen more, since you don’t need to Puzzle for DCE and can instead Puzzle for Battle Compressors in such a circumstance.

Target Whistle

target-whistleSay your opponent has managed to clear their field of low-HP EX’s, making it hard for you to take an advantage in the prize trade. Well, Target Whistle puts those Shaymin-EXs or Jirachi-EXs right back on the field. Target Whistle essentially gives you a free two prizes in combination with Lysandre, and who doesn’t love that?

tool-scrapperTool Scrapper

Tool Scrapper gets rid of pesky Fighting Fury Belts in order to make OHKOs easier. It can also get rid of other annoying tools, such as Life Dew, Bursting Balloon, or even Rock Guard. Tool Scrapper is played over Startling Megaphone simply because it can discard your own tools, which allows you to burn cards in your hand easier in certain situations so a Maxie’s combo can be pulled off, while also ridding your field of Head Ringers if that’s actually relevant in your game.

Teammates

Teammates is here for the exact same reason it’s in Vespiquen/Flareon. Night Marchers will be taking KOs every turn, so Teammates can be used every turn to grab whatever is needed. However, Teammates has the option to grab Puzzle of Time in Night March, meaning that Teammates can essentially get any card, whether it be from your discard pile or your deck. See the analysis on Teammates in the Vespiquen/Flareon section, as its logic is nearly identical to its logic in Night March.

Strengths

  • Hits for massive damage very soon for just a DCE with a non-EX attacker.
  • Any matchup that doesn’t play Karen or doesn’t involve item lock is typically a win or is favorable.
  • Tech cards and Puzzles can help turn most situations around, as there is a card for almost every situation.

Weaknesses

  • Due to its high item count, a Turn 1 Ghetsis can be devastating.
  • Trevenant and Seismitoad-EX can hurt Night March a lot since it is item dependent. Trevenant can even spread damage, easily knocking out your low-HP Night Marchers across the field.
  • Karen damages Night March heavily, however it can be recovered from through preservation of resources and Puzzle of Time.
  • Giratina-EX can hurt the deck a lot, as Marowak cannot always be established due to the nature of Maxie’s. Without DCEs or Pokemon Ranger, Giratina-EX can prevent Night March from doing anything if Marowak is Lysandre KO’d, unable to come to the field, or is prized (or if Maxie’s is prized).

I recently played at a League Challenge using Night March w/ Maxie’s, but I went 2-2. The tournament was crawling with ToadTina, which I wouldn’t expect much in St. Louis. I even almost stole a win against the second ToadTina, but I misplayed myself into a loss by forgetting to use up my VS Seekers when I knew a Toad was coming up next turn when I had only two prizes left (aren’t I so smart :P).

Raikou/Eelektrik

raikouRaikou/Eelektrik was recently brought to my attention by my testing group, who claims it could possibly be “the play.” Now I don’t consider Raikou/Eels to be “the play” at all (I don’t think there is a single deck that is “the play”), but I believe it is strong and has good matchups across a lot of the metagame. It works by using Dynamotor to power up a Raikou, hitting with it, and then retreating when hurt to another Raikou to replenish its energy while healing with Rough Seas. Let’s take a look at a list that I believe to be quite strong that can deal with most of the metagame.

Pokemon – 15 Trainers – 34 Energy – 11
4x Raikou BKP 55 4x Professor Sycamore 9x Lightning Energy
4x Tynamo NVI 38 2x N 2x Double Colorless Energy
4x Eelektrik NVI 40 1x Colress
1x Gallade BKT 84 1x Lysandre
1x Mewtwo-EX NXD 54 1x Hex Maniac
1x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 1x AZ
1x Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick
1x Karen
4x VS Seeker
4x Ultra Ball
3x Fighting Fury Belt
2x Battle Compressor
2x Evosoda
2x Float Stone
1x Super Rod
1x Computer Search
3x Rough Seas

eelThis list utilizes Gallade as a counter to Turbo Dark decks as well as several other smaller inclusions that matter in certain scenarios.

Maxie’s Gallade

I shouldn’t have to explain the purpose of this card by now, but it’s here mostly for Turbo Dark and Darkrai/Dragons. Both of these decks give Raikou/Eels trouble by being able to OHKO Raikou. Getting one Gallade out in the game and taking a KO on an opposing Dark Pulse Darkrai-EX can put you at a great advantage, getting two in a game against Turbo Darkrai usually means you’ll win the game. We play only two Battle Compressor so a Maxie’s play won’t be possible early game that often, but getting Gallade out at any point is significant. Even in other matchups Gallade provides an alternate attacker along with support in its Premonition ability.

Mewtwo-EX

mewtwo-exMewtwo-EX serves as both a backup attacker and a counter to opposing Gallades. Should the opponent manage to Maxie’s into a Gallade and OHKO a Raikou, Mewtwo-EX can immediately return fire with an X-Ball, which can OHKO Gallade for only two energy. Mewtwo-EX can also be a strong option against decks like Yveltal/Maxie’s if it locks your evolutions with Archeops and you need an attacker to deal with high-energy Yveltal-EXs.

Karen

Karen turns what would normally be bad matchups into good ones. Vespiquen/Flareon and Night March both give you a huge amount of trouble. By using Karen, your matchup becomes highly favored against Vespiquen/Flareon, as it’s difficult for them to recover from it, and favored against Night March, although Night March can typically recover better than Raikou/Eels can. Also, to get a bit tricky, Karen can be used to rid your opponent’s discard pile of Maxie’s targets, possibly delaying Archeops or Gallade from hitting the field for a few turns.

2 Evosoda

evosodaEvosoda lets you evolve into your Eelektrik under Archeops lock. Since Evosoda evolves Pokemon from the deck and not the hand, Tynamo can evolve into Eelektrik using it, bypassing Archeops’s ability. Since you often only need a couple Eelektrik to take control of a match, these two Evosoda can help a lot to get out the two Eels that you need to start constantly powering up Raikous.

Stengths

  • If an opposing Pokemon can’t OHKO Raikou, it is difficult for them to take KOs.
  • Raikou OHKOs Yveltal-EX while having answers to Gallade and Archeops.
  • It has good matchups across most of the board.
  • It’s fairly consistent, only requiring a couple Eelektrik to get totally set up and swinging.

Weaknesses

  • Gallade can OHKO Raikou and Archeops can prevent Tynamo from evolving if Evosoda or Hex Maniac can’t be found.
  • Trevenant is a relatively rough matchup.
  • The deck relies a lot of abilities and has no Tool removal, meaning Garbodor or a well timed Hex Maniac can hurt the deck dearly.

Overall Thoughts

ghetsisExpanded as a format is full of decks. There are almost too many to choose from, making it extremely difficult to pick. In addition to this, cards that can decide a matchup Turn 1 exist in things like Ghetsis and Trevenant, making the format far from fun when it happens.

Yveltal/Maxie’s is the best deck in the format for sure, and you shouldn’t dismiss it because I didn’t write about it. I didn’t write about it due to personal preference and not knowing how to approach the deck. After all, I don’t want to speak on something I know nothing about. If you don’t know at all what to play, consider learning Yveltal/Maxie’s.

Thanks for reading, and good luck on your journey in the Expanded format! Again, look out for me at St. Louis; I’ll be around.

Getting Frisk-y – An analysis of what makes Undertale so successful *SPOILERS*

undertaleHello again readers! I am Darin “Shr3d” O’Meara and welcome to another article. Today, I will be writing on a topic that I have wanted to write on for months since I stumbled upon it: what makes Toby Fox’s Undertale so revolutionary and successful.

This article contains spoilers. If you have not played the game I highly suggest you do before reading this article, as the game is best played blind. Play through all three endings too; trust me, the extra effort is worth it.

The Background

This is where the spoilers start. You’ve been warned.

Undertale is an RPG game set in a world where Monsters and Humans used to live in harmony. Then, a great war raged as humans wanted to take control of the world. Caught off guard, the monsters couldn’t kill a single human, and the humans banished monsters to the Underground and sealed them in with a barrier, which needs seven human souls to be shattered.

frisk

Your character is a genderless (Frisk will be referred to as male in order to make pronouns easier) human who has managed to fall into the Underground. You get to name him, but their real and true name is revealed to be Frisk. Upon arrival, a being named Flowey tries to kill Frisk, only to be saved by a monster named Toriel. Toriel guides Frisk through the ruins and acts as a mother figure to them, and plans on raising him as her own to protect torielhim from further harm. Eventually, as Frisk begin to question how to get home, she finally leads the way, but blocks his path in an attempt to stop Frisk and prevent him from ending up like all the other fallen humans.

 

This moment is when the three (four technically, the Hacker Ending exists) storylines split, each following their own narrative and contributing to the game’s lore. Click here for a Youtube video that fully outlines Undertale’s story and lore (credit to Spero Games), as it is too complicated and long for just one article to cover.

The Success

So why is Undertale as successful as it is? The game has received several awards as well as reviews almost always above 9/10 or 90/100. Its success can be explained from both the surface and basics of the game as well as its more complex features.

On the Surface

The game’s success can be attributed to several things that can be observed without research into the game and with minimal play time. These things come mainly from pure design and superficial in nature.

Music

asrielstatue
Giving Asriel’s statue an Umbrella triggers the song “Memory” to play.

Undertale’s soundtrack is acclaimed for being one of the best in the video game industry. Undertale’s creator, Toby Fox, put special emphasis on developing a soundtrack fitting for the game’s narrative. The game’s soundtrack is completely synthetic and has an 8-bit feel to it, but without the simplicity that a classic 8-bit video game song would have. Instead, it uses several different sounds and styles in order for each note and each harmony to work together to create a song that fits the area, fight, or character it is meant to portray.

In addition, Toby Fox deviates from the norm several times in his music with its key signature and time signature. For example, his song, “Here We Are,” is in 5/4 time, with some very odd chords and notes in order to provide a very ghastly and creepy tone to fit the True Lab area of the game.

 

Toby Fox also uses leitmotifs for certain themes or characters in the game that reappear throughout the narrative. For example, when Frisk falls from the bridge and lands in the dump, the leitmotif from “His Theme” plays in the song “Memory“, suggesting a connection with Asriel and the first fallen human. The main theme from “His Theme” can also be found in the main song of the game, “Undertale.” This, in effect, allows the player to make connections in the story through the music as well as the dialogue and gameplay. The full soundtrack can be found for free on Spotify and for $9.99 on iTunes. Please do give it a listen, as it is my favorite soundtrack of all time.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are very simply, yet sleek. Undertale uses an 8-bit, classic style of graphics that gives the game a nostalgic feel. Older and newer gamers alike can enjoy the graphics, as older players can enjoy the nostalgic feel, while newer ones can enjoy the simplicity and old-style they missed out on. In addition, keeping the graphics simple allows the player to focus on the story instead of complicated and distracting graphics, ensuring that the player’s focus is on the narrative.

Combat

combatUndertale’s combat system is ineptly simple, yet it’s fantastic. All you do is move your little heart around the little box, dodging attacks, and then you get your chance to attack by playing a little timing game. The attacking part is easy, but when on the defensive, it rewards a truly skilled player. Attacks can come at you from anywhere, and each character has their own unique offensive maneuver, which can often become extremely challenging.

Being able to spare an enemy adds a whole new aspect to the game as well. Each monster has a different way of being spared. One might require running away, while another might require a Flex-Off, while another may require that Frisk simply lives long enough to see the end of their dialogue. Sparing a monster entirely depends on who it is you’re up against, and figuring out how to let them live is part of the game’s challenge.

Boss fights are very well designed, and in several cases, are not easy by any means. You should expect to die quite a bit, especially on the Genocide Route, where monsters put their entire existence on the line to prevent Frisk from progressing.In fact, Sans even keeps track of how many times Frisk dies to him (except he loses count after like 15 or something).

Style

Undertale is an RPG, done in the style of Earthbound. Due to this, it’s movement and maneuverability around the world is simple for anyone to figure out and use, making it easy to navigate to each area. This sort of simplicity allows gamers of all ages, casual or not, to pick it up and instantly know how to move, interact, and play. After all, only eight total keys are needed: the arrow keys, Z, X, C, and the ESC key.

Characters

sans

The characters in the game are some of the best I’ve seen. Each have their own backstory, their own personality, and their own aspects that people can relate to. Certain ones make my insides all fuzzy when I see them, while others give me goosebumps just from encountering them. Throughout the game you connect with each character while they constantly change and develop further and further. Each character has one glaring weakness that blinds them, which they overcome, making them relatable to the player.

 

  • Toriel is blinded by overprotectiveness.
  • Sans is blinded by nihilism.
  • Papyrus is blinded by validity by rank.
  • Napstablook, although a minor character, is blinded by depression.
  • Undyne is blinded by racism.
  • papyrusAlphys is blinded by insecurity.
  • Mettaton is blinded by fame.
  • Asgore is blinded by overwhelming selflessness.

Each of these problems are evils we face in our everyday lives, and seeing these characters move through and overcome them in the game helps the player make connections with the characters.

Serious, yet Humorous

flowey

This game gets deep. Between timeline manipulation, the end of the timeline/universe, and messing with your head, Undertale makes you shiver. Flowey as a character is just dark – he talks of murder, of wiping out everything, of wiping out you. Prior to his boss fight, he crashes your game and manipulates the opening screen’s text upon reboot, changing it from “One day, war broke out between the two races” to “One day, they disappeared without a trace.” Heck I’ve got goosebumps writing about it. Not to mention the True Lab and its Amalgamates, which are haunting in nature, along with Chara‘s dialogue at the end of the Genocide Route.

 

annoying-dog
LOOK HOW CUTE HE IS

But in the middle of it all, you’re forced to make a harsh decision, one that can impact Frisk forever. Which is worse, Junior Jumble or Crosswords? There’s fart humor, there’s sarcasm, there’s something for everyone. Frisk goes on a date with Papyrus who acts like a complete nimrod the whole time, he hangs out with Undyne, which prompts Papyrus to run through the closed window, Sans can stack 30 hot dogs on Frisk’s head, the list continues. I mean come on, try to tell me the Annoying Dog doesn’t make you crack a smile. The mass amounts of comedy serve as comic relief for what is an otherwise creepy game. However, if you play the Genocide Run, expect little to none of this comic relief, as it is just horrifying and psychologically draining, as intended.

 

In Depth

Some of Undertale’s complexities contribute to much of its success. The game’s lore and storyline are very “involved”, so most of its complexities lie there.

Simple, yet Complex

napstablook

The story of Undertale is very simple if you want it to be. A casual gamer can play through the first neutral ending, never learn about other endings, and be happy with it, thinking they understand the story. However, hardcore gamers can delve into each and every line of text and find more and more clues about the lore and how it connects. They can play run after run and still not see everything the game has to offer. Pieces of the puzzle that seem missing take lots of speculation and digging to find. The game can be simple or complex, however you want it.

 

Open to Interpretation

gaster

This game is largely open to interpretation. With so many gaps left untold, fans are left to speculate and theorize about several aspects of the game. Who is W.D. Gaster? How did Sans and Papyrus even get to the Underground? What are the blueprints and the weird machine in Sans’s secret roomThe Game Theorists have even theorized about the game before, and are currently in the middle of a three part theory revolving around Gaster’s true identity, how he came to be, and his connection to Sans and Papyrus. A game that lets fans plug holes in the narrative for themselves keeps fans engaged and invites dedicated players to stick around for the long term, an invitation that is happily accepted by many. After all, it’s been more than a year since the release of the game, and people are still puzzled as to this whole Gaster thing.

 

There’s always something more

funvalueThis is a more technical thing, but is still very complex nonetheless. Every time you create a new save file, the game is assigned a new Fun value. This value determines several random events within the game. Some of these have connections to the game’s lore, while others are meaningless quirks, like a phone call. So, instead of having a set story that ends after seeing all three endings, other events, rooms, and even characters and further mysteries can be discovered by playing even more times, luring the player to keep on playing to discover these secrets and solve these mystieries.

In the case of Gaster, different Fun values trigger three different Gaster followers and the Goner Kid to appear, who tell Frisk about Gaster and his experiments. Another of these values even triggers a door to appear, leading to (what is presumed to be) Gaster himself, who says nothing and disappears upon contact.

Psychology

undyneThis game messes with your head. A lot. At the end of the Pacifist Run, you get your happy ending. Everyone is happy. But OH NO Flowey has to come mess it up. He doesn’t mess with the game, or the characters, he messes with you, as the player. Since Flowey is omniscient and aware of the presence of you, the player, Flowey talks directly to you. He explains that the only threat is yourself. YOU have the power to reset everything. YOU have the power to erase all the characters’ happy endings. YOU are the main antagonist. It took me a solid week before I could muster up the willpower to erase the save file and start again so I could play through the Genocide Run.

sansdeathThe Genocide Run is psychologically draining and dark. The Genocide Run strips all comic relief away. Everyone avoids you. You kill everything. Everyone Frisk interacts with meets a horrible death. Flowey begs for mercy, dead. An innocent kid, almost murdered (thanks Undyne). Sans, the lovable skeleton, dead, with his final words stating “… … … so… guess that’s it, huh? … just… don’t say i didn’t warn you. welp. i’m torieldeathgoing to grillby’s. papyrus, do you want anything?” referencing the brother you stripped from existence. Every single character you connected with, watched grow, and related to, dies by your own psycopathic accord. Even Toriel, at the very beginning of the Genocide Route, says it wasn’t Frisk she was protecting by locking him in, it charawas the world. The Genocide Run plays with your head to make you feel like the real monster, and the language used confirms this, enough to trigger a feeling of physical sickness at times. Even the music contributes, as it turns its happy, peppy soundtracks of places like Snowdin Town to distorted versions of these songs made to sound as dark as possible. Then, in the end, all hell breaks lose, and the universe is destroyed by releasing the demonic first fallen human, Chara. So basically, no matter which route you take, you, as the player, are the enemy.

This aspect is what I find truly revolutionary about Undertale. I haven’t played a game before that breaks the fourth wall in such a way that Undertale does. Multiple characters are able to manipulate timelines, monitor timelines, mess with Save files, and speak to the player. The game messes with your head to a degree I have’t seen before. Never have I seen a game make the player question their morality and every decision they make more than Undertale, and it sets a bar other games are going to have to strive to hit. I’ve never seen a character within a game try to dissuade the player from playing the game in order to let the characters live happily ever after.

Overall

This game gets a 10/10 from me easily. The game revolutionizes the gaming industry and creates a new brand of psychological gameplay that I haven’t seen before. Toby Fox ensures that every line of dialogue is meaningful and adds to the game in one way or another. There was never a moment in the game when I was bored (save for the senseless grinding in the Genocide Run, but even that was dark in nature and served a purpose). The game was very short, but contains enough material, inside and outside of the game, to make a full length, double-digit-hour-long masterpiece.

Thanks for reading! Tune in Wednesday for another Pokemon TCG article, and Saturday for another Gaming article!

 

I do not take credit for any pictures used or any videos linked in this article and all credit for them belong to their respective creator.

Undertale is made by Toby Fox and is available on the Steam Store. All credit for the game, the pictures used, and the clips used goes to Toby Fox and Undertale.

 

 

 

 

The Great Tauros War – The Top Decks from the Sun and Moon Format and an Analysis of Anaheim Regionals

Hello again everyone! My name is Darin O’Meara and I’m back again for my second Pokemon article! Thank you so much to those of you who read the first, I received a ton of support in real life and online! I hope you enjoy this article just as much as the last.

Today we’re going to take a look at the Anaheim Regionals results, including what succeeded, what flopped, and what we learned.

Anaheim Regionals

regionalsAnaheim set the scene for the first regional championships in the PRC-SM format after what feels like forever in the PRC-EVO format. Coming in, there was a lot of uncertainty and discussion circulating around what would be the top decks at Anaheim. New cards like Decidueye-GX, Umbreon-GX, and Tauros-GX had theorists running rampant creating new ideas. Many opted to stick with the testing, tried, and true decks the metagame had to offer, which turned out to be the correct choice in the end.

Over 500 players battled it out for 32 slots in Day 2, meaning 6-1-2 was guaranteed cut and 6-2-1 was on the bubble. At the end of Day 1, the breakdown for the next day’s Day 2 included a small amount of new Sun and Moon decks, and a lot of Turbo Darkrai decks and Mega Mewtwo decks. The total Breakdown is as follows –

Deck Placements
Turbo Darkrai EX 7
M Mewtwo EX 6
Vespiquen 4
Yveltal EX 3
M Rayquaza EX 3
Volcanion EX 2
Gyarados 1
Solgaleo GX/Lunala GX 1
Decidueye GX/Lugia EX/Tauros GX 1
Water Toolbox 1
Rainbow Road 1
M Gardevoir EX STS 1
Darkrai/Dragons 1
anaheim-graphic
Graphic credit to Complexity Card Gaming

As you can see it was mainly the known archetypes from the PRC-EVO format that were able to take the top spots in Day 2. Only a few completely new decks managed to take slots in Day 2 – Drew Kennet’s Lurantis/Solgaleo, John Kettler’s Decidueye/Vileplume, and Edgar Garcia’s Lapras-GX WaterBox. Everything else in Top 32 were existing archetypes with small changes here and there, like Yveltal/Tauros/Garbodor and Vespiquen/Herdier/Zoroark.

Top 8 included none of these new archetypes and included only previously known ones with new additions –

1. Kenny Britton – Darkrai EX/Giratina EX/Salamence EX
2. Tony Jimenez – Turbo Darkrai EX
3. Lawrence Xu – Turbo Darkrai EX
4. Jeffrey Cheng – Vespiquen AOR/Zoroark BKT
5. Igor Costa – Yveltal EX/Garbodor BKP/Tauros GX
6. Ryan Sabelhaus – M Mewtwo EX/Garbodor BKP
7. Rahul Reddy – Vespiquen AOR/Zoroark BKT/Vaporeon AOR
8. Travis Nunlist – M Mewtwo EX/Espeon GX/Garbodor BKP

smWe learned from Anaheim that Sun and Moon didn’t change much in the metagame (Kenny Britton’s winning list ran no cards from Sun and Moon). However, one should expect to see several Sun and Moon decks at their nearby tournaments in the early stages of its addition to the format, as people are always eager to try out new cards.

In the end, Kenny Britton came out on top with Darkrai/Giratina, taking the tournament by storm with a deck most people had forgotten about. Alongside him in Top 8 were two versions of Mega Mewtwo, two versions of Vespiquen, two versions of Turbo Darkrai, and one version of Yveltal/Tauros/Garb. Let’s take a look at each of these decks, what changed from their initial renditions, and where they stand in today’s metagame.

Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor

mewtwoMega Mewtwo/Garbodor was hyped among some of the top players to be the deck to look out for going into Anaheim. It’s consistent and had good matchups across most of the predicted metagame. It has a strong damage output that continued through the entire game along with a secondary option in Damage Change. Travis Nunlist decided to include a 1-1 Espeon-GX line in his Mega Mewtwo build to counter the mirror as well as Vespiquen, while also providing a GX attack for the deck and another strong attacker which can be useful in certain situations. Here is his list (credit to Hovercast TCG and Travis Nunlist).

Pokemon – 15 Trainers – 34 Energy – 11
4x Mewtwo-EX BKT 62 4x Professor Sycamore 7x Psychic Energy
3x Mega Mewtwo-EX BKT 64 3x N 4x Double Colorless Energy
2x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 2x Lysandre
1x Hoopa-EX PR XY71
2x Trubbish BKP 56 4x Mega Turbo
1x Garbodor BKP 57 4x Mewtwo Spirit Link
1x Eevee SM 101 4x Ultra Ball
1x Espeon-GX SM 61 4x VS Seeker
3x Float Stone
2x Trainers’ Mail
1x Super Rod
2x Shrine of Memories
1x Parallel City

In the Meta

garbledorMega Mewtwo has a pretty good hold on the meta, boasting pretty even matchups across the board. The key idea is to essentially out-power the opposition through Mega Mewtwo’s Psychic Infinity attack, while also gaining the ability to heal with Damage Change through the use of Shrine of Memories. Espeon-GX gives the deck an alternate and GX attacker as well as a utility option for several matchups. Let’s examine some of these matchups.

Turbo Darkrai

Mega Mewtwo and Turbo Darkrai essentially go back and forth taking 2-hit KOs in this matchup. It is a bit tough, since there is a point where Darkrai can take OHKOs, which is when the Mega Mewtwo player loses control of the game. However, by abusing Damage Change to transfer damage and by staying ahead in the prize trade, the matchup can be won.

Vespiquen

Vespiquen is iffy for both players, and a lot depends on if the Vespiquen player plays the Mew-EX tech or not. If they do, the matchup is split or in their favor. If not, smart Damage Changes to heal as well as KO an attacker in addition to Espeon-GX’s Divide-GX attack to take out Combees and Zoruas make this matchup favorable for Mega Mewtwo so long as a Garbodor is established to prevent their Klefki from taking effect.

Mega Rayquaza

Garbodor and Parallel City are what is going to save you from this matchup. If you can hit the Garbodor and then Parallel a large amount of Pokemon off of the Rayquaza player’s bench, it is hard for them to recover to the degree that they need to in order to regain control. If the Parallel/Garb combo can’t be hit at the right time, the match is a slippery slope to defeat, as they can OHKO your Mega Mewtwos, giving you a small chance at getting back up.

Mega Mewtwo

This specific list has a great matchup with the mirror due to Espeon-GX. Espeon-GX can OHKO an opposing Mega Mewtwo that has a DCE on it, while it takes four energy cards on an opposing Mega Mewtwo to return the KO since Psychic Infinity does not hit for weakness. If Espeon-GX and Eevee aren’t prized, this matchup is fantastic.

Yveltal/Tauros/Garb

This matchup is also tricky, as the threat of a Ninja Boy/Tauros-GX play is always there. Usually Mega Mewtwo can stay ahead, since it takes less energy to deal more damage to an Yveltal-EX. Being able to OHKO an Yveltal-EX can put you ahead massively, as they will have no option to use their Tauros-GX if there isn’t damage on it. A Mega Mewtwo-EX with four energy can OHKO an un-belted, two energy Yveltal-EX, and these numbers can be adjusted depending on the situation. Be smart about energy placements and the matchup will go your way. Also be aware of the new Mewtwo tech that Yveltal has begun to use, as it can swing the matchup heavily in their favor if used correctly.

Volcanion

This matchup is basically autowin. Garbodor prevents the Volcanion player from taking OHKOs due to the loss of Steam Up, while their need for high amounts of energy to do any sort of reasonable damage makes it easy for you to OHKO them. As long as you can establish Garbodor and keep up a steady stream of Mega Mewtwos to return whatever KO they might muster up, the matchup goes in your favor.

Expect Mega Mewtwo to make a presence at any tournament you attend, as it’s definitely a strong one to look out for. It’s sole hard-counter, Mega Gardevoir STS, is seeing a decrease in play lately, so Mega Mewtwo should see an increase in play until Mega Gardevoir returns to popularity.

Vespiquen

vespiI went over Vespiquen in-depth in my last article, so I won’t go too in depth now. The main focus of the deck is to discard Pokemon and swing for massive damage with a low-HP, one-prize attacker, while using utility Pokemon to back it up. The main partners of choice lately have been the Eeveelutions from Ancient Origins, in order to provide more type advantages against several matchups, as well as Zoroark from Breakthrough, which provides utility in its Stand In Ability as well as a solid attack for just a DCE in Mind Jack. Another new partner for Vespiquen which recently arose form Anaheim is Herdier from Sun and Moon, which returns an item card to your hand upon its evolution (Milotic from Primal Clash could also be considered as its ability can take any card from the discard, but players have been dissuaded from using it due to Feebas’s measly 30 HP and Umbreon-GXs presence). Rahul Reddy ran a Vespiquen/Zoroark/Eeveelutions deck at Anaheim to attain a Top 8 finish, unfortunately facing Kenny Britton’s Darkrai/Dragons in the first round of Top 8. He opted to include Tauros-GX as an early game and GX attacker as well as Oranguru for added consistency as well as a safety net from N and Delinquent.Other than that, his list makes little deviation from the normal consistent build, including all the standard trainers you’d see in Vespiquen; nothing less and nothing more. Here is his list (all credit to The Chaos Gym and Rahul Reddy).

Pokemon – 28 Trainers – 28 Energy – 4
4x Combee AOR 9 4x Professor Sycamore 4x Double Colorless Energy
4x Vespiquen AOR 10 2x N
2x Zorua BKT 90 2x Lysandre
2x Zoroark BKT 91
2x Eevee AOR 63 4x Acro Bike
1x Vaporeon AOR 22 4x VS Seeker
1x Jolteon AOR 26 4x Ultra Ball
4x Unown AOR 30 2x Revitalizer
2x Klefki STS 80 2x Float Stone
3x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 2x Special Charge
1x Oranguru SM 113
1x Tauros-GX SM 100 2x Forest of Giant Plants
1x Mew-EX LTR RC24

zoroarkIn the meta

Vespiquen boasts strong matches against several decks in the metagame, with 50/50s or better in several others. In its more unfavored matchups, Vespiquen can sometimes steal away wins due to its sheer power and damage output. Let’s examine these matchups a bit (for a more in depth coverage of its matchups and the deck, see my last article).

Turbo Darkrai

Vespiquen is favored against Turbo Darkrai, but it is a very hectic and back and forth battle. Darkrai can start swinging at your Vespiquens as soon as turn 2, so getting numbers in the discard early is important. Tauros-GX is great for softening targets as well as acting as a wall that can easily dish out an early game two-prize KO with Mad Bull GX. Once you start hitting for high numbers, Turbo Dark loses the prize trade, meaning it should be smooth sailing from there unless a late game N comes, in which case Oranguru helps out.

Vespiquen

The most back-and-forth mirror you could get. It’s all about swinging for OHKOs back and forth every turn. Avoiding playing down Shaymin-EXs is key, N timing is key, and preserving resources (especially Vespiquens) is especially key. Whoever takes the first knockout is at a huge advantage. This mirror is an extremely stressful one, as there is almost never a turn without important action.

Mega Rayquaza

This matchup is fantastic for Vespiquen. Not only do you have Zoroark, who abuses their need for a huge bench, but you have Jolteon, who makes all your Stage 1 attackers electric type, letting you hit Rayquaza for weakness, along with Klefki to prevent Jolteon from falling victim to a Lysandre KO. Vespiquen’s raw power and utility in Klefki and Jolteon makes this matchup a cakewalk so long as your deck works as it should.

Mega Mewtwo

This one is tricky, but should lean in your favor so long as they don’t play Espeon-GX (it’s more even if it’s included). Mew-EX is crucial early game to take an easy KO on a Mewtwo-EX, and attaching a Klefki to it before they can get a Garbodor out is even better. Avoiding Damage Change is crucial in this matchup, as they can easily Damage Change away all your hard work and OHKO you in the process so long as they have 90 or more damage on them (or 100 if Zoroark is active, or 120 if Mew-EX is active). Abusing Shaymin-EX’s Sky Return to soften up targets helps with this, as it ensures that they won’t have enough damage to Damage Change effectively, while Mega Mewtwo becomes prime and ready for Vespiquen KOs.

Yveltal/Tauros/Garb

This one is a lot like Turbo Darkrai where they can start rolling through Vespiquens Turn 2. Tauros-GX is huge here, as 9 times out of 10 in the early game it won’t be knocked out, allowing you to return with a huge Mad Bull-GX to take an easy two prizes in the early game, all the while preparing your army of Vespiquens for an offensive. Jolteon also helps a ton in this matchup if your opponent decides to give up setting Garbodor up, making it way easier to OHKO opposing Yveltal-EXs.

Volcanion

This matchup can be worked around by your Vaporeon. If you are unable to get out Vaporeon, or if it takes an early game Lysandre KO before it can become effective, it’s very difficult for Vespiquen to pull it out, as the non-EX Volcanion can OHKO Vespiquen with only one Steam Up, all the while setting up other attackers on the bench to cause more problems. If Vaporeon can be set up and maintained, the matchup can easily be handled, as it becomes much easier for Vespiquen to take OHKOs on opposing Volcanions.

For some reason whenever I attend a tournament, there are only a handful of Vespiquen decks that show up. I think that after these results, more people will start picking the deck up, as it is incredibly strong. I believe that eventually, certain decks that benefit from the use of Karen to shut down Vespiquen will begin to use it as it grows in popularity, but for now all seems well for Vespiquen to thrive.

Turbo Darkrai

darkraiTurbo Darkrai is simple and effective. Simply load up some Darkrai-EX with Yveltal’s Oblivion Wing attack, use Max Elixirs, and swing for huge damage. Tony Jiminez piloted his version of Turbo Darkrai all the way to the finals, where Kenny Britton ended his tournament. He decided to include a Lillie as an aleternate draw option and a great asset Turn 1 and a Professor Kukui to swing for even bigger numbers and hit for OHKOs more often, along with the normal trainers, supporters, and energy you’d expect from a PRC-EVO Turbo Darkrai list (with the exception of one Lille over one N). For his tech supporters, Jiminez selected Hex Maniac and Team Flare Grunt for disruption in order to allow him to take advantages in every match he plays. Here is his list (all credit to Tony Jiminez)-

Pokemon – 9 Trainers – 39 Energy – 12
4x Darkrai-EX BKP 74 4x Professor Sycamore 12x Darkness Energy
2x Yveltal XY 78 2x N
2x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 2x Lysandre
1x Hoopa-EX AOR 36 1x Hex Maniac
1x Lillie
1x Professor Kukui
1x Team Flare Grunt
4x VS Seeker
4x Ultra Ball
4x Max Elixir
3x Trainers’ Mail
2x Escape Rope
2x Fighting Fury Belt
2x EXP. Share
1x Enhanced Hammer
1x Float Stone
1x Switch
2x Silent Lab
1x Parallel City

oblivionIn the meta

Turbo Darkrai can beat anything with its sheer power of being able to OHKO any opposition if it has enough energy on the field. It has fairly difficult matchups against decks that can OHKO Darkrai-EX early, as the prize trade advantage slips when Darkai-EX is unable to meet the necessary energy to return KOs. However, get enough energy on the board, and Turbo Darkrai can take out any deck without a second thought.

Turbo Darkrai

This mirror match is hectic, with KOs going back and forth. The game essentially comes down to whoever can take the first KO on an opposing Darkrai-EX. After the first prizes are drawn, it’s a back and forth prize trade until one person wins. Take the first Lysandre KO and you should win, as a late game N doesn’t hurt Turbo Darkrai as much as other decks.

Vespiquen

In this matchup you want to start swinging for OHKOs as soon as possible. One Oblivion Wing should get you enough energy to start hitting; you only need four energies on board. Otherwise the game is largely out of your control, and it mostly comes down to whether or not Vespiquen can manage to get their discard pile big enough to start taking OHKOs on Darkrai-EXs. Be careful about your bench size to avoid taking big hits from Zoroark, and use N effectively, as a late game N can devastate them if they don’t play Oranguru.

Mega Rayquaza

Probably your worst matchup. It takes an absurd amount of energy for you to be able to OHKO their Mega Rayquazas, while it takes them little effort to OHKO your Darkrai-EXs. A well-timed Parallel City and N can help you win the game, but it ultimately comes down to getting as many energy on the board as quickly as possible and praying that they don’t Lysandre around your Yveltal. 10 energy are needed to OHKO a Mega Rayquaza-EX, so you’re in for a rough day if you run into this matchup.

Mega Mewtwo

If you can swing for OHKOs on Mega Mewtwo-EXs, you basically win this matchup. If not, you start exchanging 2-hit KOs, which allows them to use their Damage Change to heal themselves and take advantages in the prize trade. If you’re careful about stadium placements and remove their Shrine of Memories whenever it hits the field, or you can simply hit Mega Mewtwo-EXs for OHKOs, the matchup is great for you.

Yveltal/Tauros/Garb

This matchup is iffy and can go either way. The Fright Night Yveltal makes this matchup painful for you, as it can soften up targets easily without punishment early on as Turbo Dark needs to wall with Yveltal initially to set up for higher damage numbers. If you can manage to get ahead in the prize trade early and take two early prizes, the damage from Fright Night Yveltal won’t matter as much. This matchup is very 50/50 and heavily depends on each player’s setup.

Volcanion

Silent Lab and Hex Maniac are key. If Silent Lab can be played and maintained, the matchup easily sways to the side of the Turbo Dark player, as you can easily take out Volcanion-EXs. Without these two tools, Volcanion gets Steam Up access, allowing them to take out Darkrai-EXs completely unchecked.

Yveltal/Tauros/Garbodor

baconbirdYveltal/Tauros/Garbodor takes a twist on the dominant archetype of the past by adding Tauros-GX and Ninja Boy. This gives the deck a threat of a OHKO at any time, giving the opposition second thoughts about every attack they announce. Yveltal has always been a very skill based deck, as it has so many tools at its disposal. It has the Fright Night Yveltal, two different attacks for Yveltal-EX to use, Garbodor, the Ninja Boy/Tauros-GX combo, and even Mewtwo from Evolutions. Jimmy Pendarvis and Igor Costa played the same 60 at Anaheim Regionals, earning themselves a Top 32 and Top 8 finish respectively. They decided to include Mewtwo from Evolutions as a check to Mega Mewtwo as well as a secondary non-EX attacker that can swing for solid damage for just a DCE. Here is their list (all credit to Jimmy Pendarvis and Igor Costa) –

Pokemon – 12 Trainers – 35 Energy – 13
4x Yveltal-EX XY 79 4x Professor Sycamore 9x Darkness Energy
2x Trubbish BKP 56 3x N 4x Double Colorless Energy
1x Garbodor BKP 57 2x Lysandre
2x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 1x Ninja Boy
1x Tauros-GX SM 100
1x Yveltal BKT 94 4x VS Seeker
1x Mewtwo EVO 51 4x Ultra Ball
4x Max Elixir
3x Fighting Fury Belt
3x Float Stone
2x Enhanced Hammer
2x Trainers’ Mail
1x Super Rod
2x Parallel City

taurosIn the meta

One of the top appeals of the Yveltal/Garbodor deck of the past was that it boasted 50/50 matchups or better against everything in the metagame. Nowadays, with Yveltal/Tauros/Garbodor, that hasn’t really changed much. The deck can handle everything that is thrown at it one way or another.

Turbo Darkrai

This matchup is pretty 50/50. Fright Night Yveltal is your best friend in this matchup, as it softens up targets to allow you to KO them with Yveltal-EX easier later in the game during the time your opponent sets up with their Oblivion Wing Yveltal. After the initial stages of the game, the prize trade goes back and forth, so starting ahead with the help of Fright Night Yveltal and taking the first one or two prizes is important.

Vespiquen

Probably your worst matchup, but it isn’t nearly that bad. If Garbodor can be established early on, it gives the Vespiquen player a hard time as they try to manually discard their Klefki and Unown while being unable to use Shaymin-EX. This can allow you to take an early lead, but be aware of Tauros-GX if they choose to play it and try to avoid it if possible in order to prevent giving them from taking an easy two prizes.

Mega Rayquaza

This matchup is in your favor due to three cards: Parallel City, Garbodor, and Enhanced Hammer. After hitting them with a Parallel City, often times the Rayquaza player won’t be able to recover under Garbodor lock, allowing you to take a huge lead and advantage in the game. On top of this, Enhanced Hammer disrupts them even further, making it so they can’t even attack often times. If they are able to recover, or if Garbodor or Parallel City can’t be established, Mega Rayquaza can potentially steamroll you with its sheer strength.

Mega Mewtwo

This matchup is made better by the Mewtwo tech. If your opponent’s Mega Mewtwo has 4 energy on it, which shouldn’t be too uncommon, a Fury Belted Mewtwo can take it out in one hit, giving you a huge advantage. Not to mention the benefits of Fright Night Yveltal, which locks your opponent’s Mewtwo Spirit Links from working if they can’t muster a Garbodor while also softening targets for easier KOs later. Otherwise, exchanging 2-hit KOs both ways, punishing large energy Mega Mewtwos, and Enhanced Hammers can win this matchup for you without too much of an issue.

Yveltal/Tauros/Garbodor

Oh boy, the most skill intensive mirror of the game at the moment. So much goes into this matchup. The Tauros-GX factor is huge from each side, and each side should be able to take a OHKO with it at some point. Every single decision matters in the mirror, as each action can be punished, and announcing the wrong attack can mean your demise. Y-Cyclone is great in the mirror, allowing you to preserve energy while giving your opponent less of a chance to KO you with Evil Ball. Overall, it takes a lot of smart play and forward thinking to win this matchup.

Volcanion

Garbodor makes this matchup relatively easy. They can’t use Steam Up, which allows you to take advantage of the three energy needed to attack in the first place to hit a large Evil Ball. Also, Mewtwo can be great as a non-EX attacker capable of dishing out solid damage while not taking a OHKO so long as it has a Fury Belt attached. Tauros-GX can also be great to return a Volcanic Heat. Fright Night Yveltal is the perfect starter, able to easily dish out large amounts of damage early on while shutting down Float Stone, alowing you to strand a heavy Volcanion-EX in the active.

Despite only taking one slot in Top 8, I strongly believe that Yveltal is one of the top decks in the metagame right now, as it has ways of handling anything that’s thrown at it. I will personally be testing this deck a lot in the coming weeks and I expect it to return to the top.

Darkrai/Dragons

tinaFor sure the biggest dark horse of the whole tournament was Darkrai/Dragons, which gave Kenny Britton his first place finish. He ran an engine very similar to a Turbo Darkrai build, but without several of the common features in order to make room for two Giratina-EX, a Salamence-EX, and four Double Dragon Energy, among other inclusions. Kenny played no cards from the new Sun and Moon set, so sticking to what worked previously was the winning strategy of the tournament. Here is his list (all credit to Kenny Britton) –

Pokemon – 11 Trainers – 35 Energy – 14
3x Darkrai-EX BKP 74 4x Professor Sycamore 10x Darkness Energy
2x Giratina-EX AOR 57 3x N 4x Double Dragon Energy
1x Salamence-EX PR XY170 2x Lysandre
2x Yveltal XY 78 1x Olympia
2x Shaymin-EX ROS 77 1x Pokemon Center Lady
1x Hoopa-EX AOR 36
4x Ultra Ball
4x VS Seeker
4x Max Elixir
3x Trainers’ Mail
3x Escape Rope
2x Fighting Fury Belt
2x EXP. Share
2x Parallel City

darkraiIn the meta

Kenny may have made the best decision of Anaheim Regionals to bring back an old favorite. Darkrai/Dragons has the potential to take down any deck it faces, as it has multiple attacking options which can swing for massive damage or lock your opponent out of attacking altogether.

Turbo Darkrai

Darkrai/Dragons has the advantage over Turbo Darkrai since it can abuse Double Dragon Energy to load up more power on its field than Turbo Darkrai can. This allows it to start hitting for knockouts a lot earlier, which swings the trade in its favor. It’s a pretty simple matchup and is a lot like the Turbo Darkrai mirror match, except Darkrai/Dragons has to keep a dragon-type Pokemon on the bench to use Double Dragon Energies on (likely Salamence-EX) to boost damage output more and more. Salamence-EX can also punish a carefree Turbo Darkrai player with Salamence-EX, as a Fury Belted Salamence-EX can OHKO a Fury Belted Darkrai-EX if the opposition has four or more EX Pokemon in play.

Vespiquen

Giratina-EX essentially makes this matchup an autowin. Lately, with 90% of Vespiquen lists cutting Pokemon Ranger, Giratina can Chaos Wheel all it wants, and the Vespiquen player can’t do anything about it. All they can hope to do is Lysandre around the Giratina and pray that it misses a Chaos Wheel, but by preserving switch cards and ensuring the retreat every time the matchup should go your way almost all the time.

Mega Rayquaza

Mega Rayquaza can’t do much against Giratina-EX. An early Giratina-EX and Parallel City can spell disaster for them, as once both are down, they’re forced to use Hex Maniac to attack you, and with Chaos Wheel locking out their stadium cards they can’t rebuild their bench with Sky Field. Once the first Mega Rayquaza-EX is dealt with, it’s essentially smooth sailing from there, as they won’t be able to attach DCE again and will be forced to attempt to power a Mega Rayquaza-EX with Mega Turbos and manual basic energy attachments, while also needing Hex Maniac to attack.

Mega Mewtwo

Another matchup where Giratina-EX shines. Not only does Chaos Wheel prevent them from using their much wanted Double Dragon Energies, but using it early game can prevent them from even touching you due to Giratina-EX’s Renegade Pulse ability. However, if your opponent can get a Garbodor out early, Giratina-EX may not be your best option, as a powered up Giratina-EX is an easy target for Mega Mewtwo-EX to take two prizes and remove four energy from the field. Should this be the case, Darkrai-EXs power should be able to carry you through the matchup. Using a Lysandre on Garbodor could also swing the matchup your favor, as most lists lately have only played one Garbodor, allowing your Giratina-EX to cause chaos (pun intended) as it pleases for at least a turn or two while they scramble to set another up.

Yveltal/Tauros/Garb

This matchup is slightly tricky due to Yveltal’s increased usage of Enhanced Hammer, but the sheer damage output of Darkrai-EX can often carry you through this matchup. Fright Night Yveltal can be a burden, as it can easily soften up targets for them to KO, but Darkrai-EX can still take huge advantages by dishing out huge numbers in the early game. Pokemon Center Lady is fantastic in this matchup as it messes with their math, often times preventing them from landing 2-hit KOs and buying you time to get ahead in the matchup.

Volcanion

Without a way of shutting off Steam Up, this matchup is a bit hectic. However, Darkrai-EX’s damage output can OHKO Volcanion-EXs without much of a problem. Salamence-EX can punish Volcanion if it sets up multiple Volcanion-EX on the bench, as it an OHKO a Volcanion-EX if the opponent has four EXs in play.

I wouldn’t expect to see a ton of Darkrai/Dragons at your local events, but it is still a deck that can take any tournament by surprise (as shown by Anaheim).

Overall Thoughts

I believe that in a small bit of time, Yveltal will return to its former glory and be the top deck in the format. It boasts 50/50 or better matchups with almost everything and has ways of beating any deck it faces. It rewards a truly skilled player, as the deck has a high skill ceiling. A skilled Yveltal player can take out any deck and take a tournament by storm. It will not be as strong as it was before I believe, but it’ll become a force to be reckoned with, and players will once again tech for it. For example, I believe that Vespiquen will begin using Zebstrika once again in time. Yveltal gained a huge new partner in Tauros-GX that makes its matchups even better and adds a whole new element into the deck, making it a bigger threat than it has been previously.

The Standard format right now is super healthy. Every top deck has a lot of 50/50 matchups or at least matchups that can be managed, and skilled players are rewarded for their time and efforts. This can easily be observed by recent Day 2 Regionals results, as its often the same people making it into Day 2 and often the same people in Top 8. Unfortunately, Standard is going to be sidelined for a bit with the lack of February League Cups and the St. Louis Expanded Regionals coming up.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed. Tune in on Saturday for a new Gaming related article, and next week on Wednesday for another Pokemon TCG article. Please do leave feedback; it is always welcome.

All lists were used in this article with permission from their respective creators.