The Truth About Trainer Lock

by Pikkdogs ~ August 27th, 2010.

Hey everyone in Omar-Nation, this is Pikkdogs here with an informative strategy article.

As we know, after this month’s Worlds tournament, SP decks have become even more popular.  But since then the new Vileplume card has come out, some people think this will change the format.  The interweb has been abuzz lately with players talking about trainer lock.  There is two distinct camps, one saying that SP decks will endure past trainer locks easily, and others who have tested the matchup and don’t see a way for SP decks to continue.                                                                                                                                                                                          

While I don’t think I am qualified enough to settle the debate today, I will write an article for beginners about all aspects of trainer lock.  At the end of the article, I will add a little of what I have learned.  So without further interuption lets talk about trainer lock and highlight some of the cards that have started this controversy.

How does it work?

So what is trainer lock?  Well that is a very easy question, it involves not letting your opponent use any trainers.  That seems simple right, but it is something very important.  If you can maintain a trainer lock all game, you can possibly shut down all SP decks, Gyarados decks, and all speed decks that require trainers.  Trainer lock is nothing new to this format, Dialga G and Gastly Sf have been doing it for a year, but now with some new cards the trainer lock can be applied the entire game.  A new trainer lock deck that maintains a lock all game will usually start with Spiritomb Ar, and then set up Vileplume Ud.

Vileplume UD

This card is the card that makes trainer lock a real possibility.  This isn’t a card review, but I will break down some basic stats of the card.  It has 120 HP, is a stage 2 Grass Pokemon, with a 2 retreat. Its Poke-Body, “Allergy Flower,” prevents both players from playing any trainer card from his/her hand.

So whats good about it?  A trainer lock that works from the bench.  Whats bad about it?  It is a stage 2 so it will take a while to set up, it has a 2 retreat cost, and a bad attack.

Spiritomb Ar

Spiritomb Ar is a great card that lets you start a trainer lock from turn 1.  If Spirtomb is your active Pokemon, his Poke-Body “Keystone Seal” kicks in and no player can play any trainers.  It also has a good attack called “Darkness Grace” that lets you search your deck that directly evolves from a Pokemon on your bench and put it onto that card.

So whats good about it?  It lets you apply a trainer lock early and helps you set up.  Whats bad about it?  Its body only works from the active spot, it has a 1 retreat cost, has only 60 HP, you have to run 4 of them to have a decent chance of starting with it, and it can be “Chatterlocked” (locked into place with Chatot Md’s attack “Chatter”.)

Gastly-Haunter-Gengar SF                                                                                                                                                                        

This Pokemon line has often been combined with both Spiritomb Ar and Vileplume Ud to complete a trainer lock deck.  Gastly has an attack called “Pitch Dark” that doesn’t allow your opponent to play any trainers during his/her next turn.  So if you don’t start with Spirtomb, then Gastly is second best.  Haunter has an attacked called “Hoodwink” with does 30 damage for 1 Psychic Energy, and lets you put 3 trainer, stadium, or supporter cards from your opponents discard pile to their hand.  This attack powers up Gengar, who for PC can do 30 damage for each trainer, stadium, or supporter card in their hand.  This is important because you can take advantage of all the trainer cards that are clogging up your opponent’s hand.

So whats good about the Gengar Sf line?  It has synergy with the Viletomb combo and is a good heavy hitter in this deck.  So whats the drawback about the Genar line?  It takes up a lot of space because you are incapable of running any Rare Candies.

Dialga G Lv.X

Dialga G is going to see a lot of play early this year, that is because the Lv.X has the “Time Crystal” Poke-Body that turns off all non SP Poke-Bodies.  But it can also lock trainers itself with its “Deafen” attack.  But here we will talk about Dialga G Lv.X as a counter to the Viletomb trainer lock.  His Pokebody will turn all Poke-Bodies off, including those of Vileplume and Spiritomb.  So if Viletomb decks do not have a Dialga G X counter they will lose.

So whats good about Dialga G X.  As mentioned the Poke-Body shuts down this deck, and can fit into almost any SP deck, and other normal decks.  So whats the catch?  A Gengar Viletomb deck can use Gengar Lv.X’s Poke Power “Level Down” to get rid of Dialga G’s Lv.x.  Making a matchup between these two decks very exciting.

That takes care of the big names in the Trainer Lock debate, but here are some other names that I have used in this matchup

Gengar VileTomb Techs

The tech that I have tried in this deck the most is Crobat Prime.  Crobat Prime has an attack that can poison the defending Pokemon for 4 damage counters between turns, for just 1 psychic energies.  This makes it an ideal counter for Dialga G, since it has a Psychic resistance and a high retreat cost.  Another tech that I have yet to test, but am sure it will work, is Kingdra Prime.  In this deck I would not run any water energies to allow Kingdra to attack, but instead just his Poke-Power “Sea Spray.”  This power lets you place on damage counter on one of your opponents Pokemon each turn.  This means that with “Sea-Spray” Gengar can KO any Uxie, Mesprit, or Azelf in just one attack with “Shadow Room”.                                      

Anti-VileTomb Techs

One anti-VileTomb tech that I think has potential is Muk Ud.  Muk has an attack that lets you switch your opponent’s active Pokemon with one of their bench, the new Pokemon is now poisoned and burned.  His second attack costs PCC and does 50 damage plus 30 more if the defending Pokemon is effected by a special condition.  This is a good tech  because if you  Muk’s first attack on Vileplume, and your opponent is unable to retreat Vileplume, you will be able to knockout Vileplume for just 1 more DCE. Other techs for SP decks include an extra Bebe’s Search, to get Dialga G LV.X back after he was leveled down, and a 2-2 Dialga G Lv.x Line.  But be careful in teching your list out too much, or it will lose to other decks.

My Thoughts

So those are the basics of Trainer lock and the counter to it.  Most decks in this format run a lot of trainers, so locking them can be key.  The Gengar VileTomb deck can change the game by locking all other decks down.  But then again, perhaps Luchomp decks can counter them with just a simple 1-1 Dialga G Lv.x line.  This is what I found:

Just a disclaimer before I tell you about my testing, I did build an anti VileTomb Luxchomp deck, but I consider myself a bad SP player so this fact can skew the results.

Well in all my testings I have found that the Gengar VileTomb deck is one of the best in the current format.  No deck that I can think of can effectively counter the trainer lock.  Sp decks can snipe VileTomb, but it will take a long time thanks to the lack of Energy Gain.  SP decks can also use “Bright Look” and “Luring Flame” from Luxray Gl and Blaziken Fb (respectively) to bring Vileplume active.  But the Vileplume player can just attach an unown Q, attach an energy, then retreat for Gengar.  Dialga G Lv.X can also possibly cause Vileplume problems by turning off “Allergy Flower.”  In response  the VileTlume player can just use Judge or Lookers Investigation (to get rid of Power Sprays) and then use “Level Down”.

To me it seems like trainer lock decks will be very good, I don’t really see a way around them. I don’t consider myself a great player so I am probably wrong, but thats what all my testing has proven.  This conclusion is just my opionion, feel free to test the matchup and draw your own.

The only way that we will know the truth about the trainer lock debate is when the new season starts up again.

Besides Gengar, other trainer lock decks can use Mismagius Ud Bellossom LA or other Pokemon as main attackers.

So what do you guys think, can trainer lock decks really rule the format?  Or will Luxchomp still rule the day?

Category: Pokemon Education | Tags: , , ,