Pikkdog’s Basic Tips for Deckbuilding and SP History Lesson.

by Pikkdogs ~ November 1st, 2010.

A big hello to all of the members of Omar-Nation, this is Pikkdogs here.  I’ve had ideas for an article for a while just sitting in my brain, but they were too small for an entire article.  So today I got the idea to combine them into one article.  Both parts will be for beginners, to teach them the structure of some decks and also to teach them some SP history.

Part 1.  Three Kinds of Decks

This part of the article is written for people who just entered the game and are thinking of finally making their first deck, but don’t know what decks are really like.  In my opinion there are 3 basic forms of decks, the normal decks, the speed deck, and the SP deck.

1. The Normal Deck

I know this is a bad name for a deck type, but there isn’t really a better name out there.  The normal deck is a deck that has a clear concise purpose using non-sp Pokemon, evolved Pokemon.  I know thats a hard to understand definition, but I will give you some examples to clear it up.  For example, the Gengar Viletomb deck is what I would consider a normal deck.  It has a clear purpose and uses evolution lines to complete the purpose.  The purpose of this deck is to provide a trainer lock the entire game, this is done to cripple the opponent.  Once this is done, Gengar SF comes out and snipes the bench and uses the opponent’s trainers against them to get rid of anything that the opponent has put out.  Another example is a Steelix deck.  A Steelix deck uses a stage 1 Pokemon to deal out and take a lot of damage.  Its purpose is to damage the opponents defending Pokemon a lot, while being able to absorb a large attack and to heal the damage counters away.        

A normal deck usually plays more Pokemon than any other deck type.  This type of deck normally plays around 20+ Pokemon.  This type of deck also normally plays about 25 trainers/stadiums/ and supporters and 15 energies.  Of course this is a gross generalization, some Gyarados decks don’t play any energies, and i’ve seen Octillery decks that play 34 energies.  On the same note, Regigas decks might run a dozen Pokemon while Trainer lock decks might run 25 or more.  So, the Pokemon/trainer/energy ratio depends on the deck, but it is usally around 22/23/15. Staple cards for this kind of deck vary, but some basic ones are: Pokemon Collector, Bebes Search, Rare Candy, Broken Time Space, Uxie La, Uxie Lv.X, Azelf, and Unown Q.

If your are planning to play against Normal decks there is one thing you should know.  They are usually the slowest deck of all three, but they are the best type of deck when fully set up.  So, if you can setup faster then your opponent, or disrupt their setup,  you have a good shot at beating him/her, but if you let them setup you will have a hard time coming back.

2. The Speed Deck

Normal decks use evolution lines to carry out a distinct purpose, but speed decks are different.  Yes each speed deck has a purpose, but it usually the same one for each deck; do as much damage as fast as possible.  Speed Decks can also run evolution lines, but they use them differently then normal decks.  Speed decks try to knock out the opponent early by doing a lot damage in the first couple of turns.  The earliest speed deck is probably the haymaker deck of the base set days, though modern speed decks owe their existence to Shuppet and Uxie donk decks of last year’s format.           

In today’s format, Speed decks usually want to attack on the first turn and do a lot of damage.  Because of this, almost all speed decks have a main attacker that can attack for one energy.  The normal first turn for one of these decks would be use several trainers, play an energy, and any Pokemon they have especially Crobat G (for its Flash-Bite Poke-Power), then use Uxie La to “Setup” for usually 4-7 cards, then to repeat the process until you have used Crobat G many times, got out your main attacker, and attached any trainer or tool cards to the main attacker.  Current decks that fit this definition include: Shuppet/Dunsparce donk, Donkphan, and Speed (straight) Machamp.  Staples for these decks include: Broken Time Space and Rare Candy (if an evolution line is present), plus power, Pokemon Collector, Crobat G, 4 Poketurns, Super Scoop up, Pokedex, Poke Drawer +, Uxie la, Uxie lv.x, Unown q, and Unown R.

Of course all speed decks are different, but the p/t/e ratio for this type of deck is usually around 15/38/7.  They usually only run around 15 Pokemon because this deck is very focused, there aren’t as many techs as there are in SP and normal decks.  For Pokemon you usually see 4-8 cards devoted to the main attacker, 2 or 3 cards for Crobat G, 4 cards for Uxie and the lv.x, and about 4 spots for the Unowns.  These decks run a lot of trainers because trainers help the player go through their deck as fast as possibly, which is the goal of this deck.  These decks also run a low number of energy because the main attackers usually only require 1 energy, and the player normally goes through their deck very quickly.

The key to playing against a speed deck is to survive the early onslaught.  These decks will normally come at you right out of the gate and try to get an easy win, if you can withstand the initial attack and setup, you should be okay.  To do this it is always helpful to trainer lock, so cards like Spiritomb Ar, Gastly SF, and Spiritomb Ud are good counters.

3.  The SP Deck

The newest deck form is the SP deck.  SP Pokemon are powerful basic forms of Pokemon, usually based on Pokemon that were featured in the video game.  For instance, the gym leaders each have their own SP Pokemon.  They all have x2 weaknesses and usually have fairly high energy cost.  These SP Pokemon don’t seem so powerful from my description, but they are great because of the trainer and supporter support that they have.  I won’t talk about the history of the deck, please check below for that.  An SP is mainly focused on two things, disruption and speed.  They usually use cards like Power Spray to disrupt the opponent, and use cards like Energy Gain to help them attack quickly.  SP decks are fairly fast decks, usually setting up their big attack in 2 turns, a speed matched only by speed decks.  Not every Pokemon in an SP deck is normally an SP Pokemon, Pokemon like Uxie la, Sableye Sf, and Azelf La are intricate to some SP decks.  In my opinion, qhat makes an SP deck SP, is usually the main attackers and the SP engine.                             

SP decks are discussed more below, but the main SP decks today are Luxchomp, Dialgachomp, and Sablelock.  The P/T/E ratio for SP decks are about 18/27/15.  They don’t run very many Pokemon because they run very few evolution lines.  Trainers/Supporters/ and Stadiums are very important for SP decks.  The Supporter Cyrus’s Conspiracy makes SP decks what they are, because it lets the player get another supporter, a trainer card, and an energy card.  This lets the user find just about everything he/she needs with just 1 card.  But, a lot of different trainer cards are needed to support the SP deck.  Sp decks usually run a lot of different types of energies.  They usually run at least 5 basic energies (to use with Cyrus’s Conspiracy), 4 Double Color less energies (to use with Garchomp C), and 4 Call Energies (for an easy setup).  There are too many staple cards to mention, but just google any SP deck and you will find that most decks run about 50 of the same cards, and then differ with the last 10.

It is very hard to beat SP decks.  speed decks are faster, but they usually can’t put out enough damage to knock out the high HP SP Pokemon.  Normal decks are normally better then SP decks, when fully setup, but SP decks can ruin the normal player’s setup just enough to gain the advantage.  One way to beat SP decks is with trainer lock, these decks rely on their trainers and wouldn’t survive without them.  Normal decks that Tank, like a Steelix deck, are good counters because if they setup, they become hard for the SP player to knockout.

#4 The hybrid

Okay, I know I said there were only 3, but there is kind of also a fourth sometimes, maybe.  Hybrid Decks are decks that mix elements of two or more of the 3 basic kinds of decks.  For example, one could make a speed deck out of Absol G and the cyrus engine, while still using Pokemon, Trainer, and Energy cards like they would in a speed deck.  This deck would rely both on SP aspects and SP aspects.  Last year of the most popular decks was Gengar C, a deck that was basically an SP deck that had a full Gengar SF line in it.  It functioned both as a Gengar deck and an SP deck.  And Ed, the crazy guy that runs this site, is the creator of T.O.S.S.E.D., a deck that can play like an SP deck at some times and a speed deck at others.  There is a fine line between a hybrid deck, and just a regular deck with a tech.  For example, the deck that won worlds 2 years ago was a Beedrill deck that had a Luxray Gl line in it.  I would contend that this is still a regular normal deck, but others may say its a hybrid.  Another example is a Luxchomp deck that has a 1-1-1 Machamp Sf line it.  Just because it runs those 3 cards doesn’t mean its still not an SP deck that focuses on disruption and speed, or does it?

So thats my take on the basic structures of current decks.  I hope you young guys learned something.  And experienced players are welcome to leave their comments on these deck structures in the comment box.

Part 2.  The History of SP Pokemon

A couple of weeks ago, my friend James and I were playing a game and talking about decks.  He mentioned that he wanted to put Infernape 4 Lv.X in his Luxchomp deck, and I said something to the effect of, “Oh so your going old school.”  And he said, “Huh?”  So that made me think that a lot of the people who joined the game in the last year don’t know about the history of the SP deck, so that’s what this part of the article is about.                                                       

As mentioned, SP Pokemon were first released in the Platinum set.  They are known for being very fast and disruptive.  This article will talk about the evolution of SP decks, and how each deck has changed with each set.

1.  Deafen Lock, SP Toolbox, and Palkia Lock

There were three  first generation SP decks, Deafen Lock, Palka Lock and the SP Toolbox.  They each used cards almost exclusively from the Platinum base set, and were around for the spring and summer of 2009.

Deafen Lock was a deck built around Dialga G Lv.X.  The goal was to get a turn 1 Deafen to lock your opponent, and then either load up Dialga G Lv.X or rely on the Toxitank Combo.  Toxicroak G and Skunktank G were a good combo in this deck to work against the popular Gengar/Machamp deck.  The SP Toolbox deck was basically a Deafen Lock deck, without Dialga G Lv.X.  To make up for this players used the toxitank combo with weaville G, and hope their Power-Sprays were enough to even the playing field.  The third first generation SP deck is a deck that is still around today, Palkia Lock.  This deck relies on preventing your opponent from using Poke-Powers, with Mesprit La and Power-Sprays.  Palkia G Lv.X was used to snipe Claydol and other crucial Pokemon.

These decks were good, some of the best in the format.   But, they lacked a lot of what we call SP staples, such as SP Radar, Aarons Collection,Luxray Gl, Garchomp C, and Dragonite Fb, because they weren’t released yet.   It is also worth mentioning that a lot of people combined the deafen lock deck with Palkia G lock, with a lot of success.

2.  Luxape

The first modern SP deck is Luxape.  Luxape was a deck ran by a guy named Pooka, at the 2009 U.S. Nationals.  It relied on Luxray Gl and Infernape 4 Lv.x.  This deck worked by forcing the opponent to switch their active Pokemon each turn to pick up easy kills.  Pooka’s deck felt like a modern SP deck, but still didnt’t have a lot of the anti-sp techs that we see today.   Pooka did well because he surprised people with this ingenious deck, and Luxray was able to shock all water Pokemon (like Palkia G) out of the game.

3.  Blazeray

Pooka won U.S. Nats with his Luxape deck, then went to worlds with the same deck, and frankly got crushed.   His efforts were not in vain however, his deck building skills laid the ground work for the current LuxChomp deck.  Nationals was the last tournament that Luxape made a showing, after the new season started the deck had died.  But, from its ashes, Blazeray was born.  Blazeray is basically a Luxape deck that does not run Infernape 4, but instead runs Blaziken Fb.  It is this deck that first starts using the known SP techs.   Blazeray was popular in cities 09-10.

4.   The rise of Garchomp C- Lady GaGa and Luxchomp.

Towards the end of Cities 09-10 and at states 2010, our man Pooka once again changed the SP format.  This time, he showed the world how great of a card Garchomp C was.

The first great Garchomp C deck was Pooka’s Lady GaGa deck.  This deck suffers from a terrible name,  but was very successful.  It was very similar to today’s Dialgachomp deck.   The second great garchomp deck was of course, LuxChomp.  It quickly became a great deck, dominating at every big tournament, including States and Regionals 2010.  The luxchomp of last year, is basically the same deck we see today, with a little changes.

5.   Modern SP decks

At the rotation during this season, SP decks have proved that they are still the best in the format.  At fall Battle Roads 2010, SP players were afraid of the new trainer lock decks, so they tweaked their decks to tech against this deck.  Most Luxchomp players teched in a 1-1 Dialga G Lv.X line to shut off Vileplume’s Poke-Body.  Towards the end of the season, Blaziken Fb started to replace Dialga G Lv.X, because it was more versatile then Dialga G. New cards added to most SP decks include Professor Oaks New Theroy, Staraptor FB, Pokemon Contest Hall, and Smeargle UD.

Lady GaGa decks were also updated after the rotation to include new cards like Energy Exchanger.  With these new cards, Dialgachomp became very popular early in the BR season.  The deck works by establishing Dialga G Lv.X as a tank, and then uses Garchomp C to heal all damage counters from Dialga G.

So that is the evolution of the popular SP decks.  Of course there were other decks like Gallade 4 decks, but none of them made a great impact.  The SP decks have changed as new sets have been released.  They changed from being a disruptive deck, to being a quick disruptive deck that can easily snipe and heal.  Cards like toxicroak G, Skunktank G, and Galactic HQ, were replaced by cards like Promocroak, Dragonite Fb, and Garchomp C.  What does the futture hold for SP decks?  Since there are no more SP Pokemon coming out, it is likely that Luxchomp decks will basically stay the same, with little tweaks being added as each new set comes out.

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