How to Narrow Down a Deck Choice for U.S. Nationals

by Pikkdogs ~ July 2nd, 2011.

Hey all you OHKOers this is Pikkdogs here with an article about choosing a deck for nationals. 

Lately when people see me they ask: “Pikkdogs, what are you doing looking in my window?”  And then they ask me, “Which deck should I run for nationals?”  This article will be about the second question.

By the time your read this article, you will probably be celebrating the 4th of July (if your in the U.S. of course), and I will be sitting by a parade and consuming my fair share of adult beverages.  But, it will be just about a week before the start of Nationals.  By this time you should have your deck choice made, and are narrowing down your choices of techs.

But, if your like me, you probably are not on that schedule.  So if you are still trying to figure out which deck to pick, lets look at some principles for choosing a deck for nationals.  Here are six principles that you use to guide you on making a deck choice.

1. Do Something Silly.

By this I mean, don’t just netdeck a deck, put something in it that is uniquely yours.  You will have to be pretty lucky to run a deck that 100 other people are running, and still do well.  Put an interesting tech in your deck that counters the format and the bad matchups that your deck has.  It could be as simple as adding an Elekid, or as complex as adding a 1-0-1 stage 2 card like Kingdra Prime.  You won’t win with a cookie cutter deck, so make sure to test some zany combinations in your deck, and see what you are most comfortable with.

2. Do Little or No Disruption. 

While I’m not saying that a little Judge, Team Rocket’s Trickery, or a 1-1 Weavile line will not be great, but an entire deck built on disruption will not work.  It is not 2010 any more,  and there is no successor to Sabledonk. So if you think you can make an entire deck around disruption and have a chance to win, I think you are mistaken.  Disruption does not disrupt fast enough to make a difference.  Again, this does not mean you shouldn’t add a disruption tech, just don’t try to make an entire deck about it.

3. No Autoloss

The most played decks at Nats will probably be Reshiboar, Magneboar, ZPS, and Donphan.  If at all possible, choose a deck that does not have an  autoloss to any of these decks.  I know it will be hard to do this, but at least try to find a deck that doesn’t have an autoloss to two or more of these decks.  It is also not possisble to play a deck that doesn’t have an auto loss, but try to play one that doesn’t have an autoloss to a popular deck.  The winner of nationals will be lucky in that they will not play their autoloss a lot, but the winner will also have an answer for almost every deck.  Try to make sure that you are ready for each popular matchup.

4.  Stay Away from Lost World

No deck that plays the card “Lost World” will win Nationals.  In my testings, the deck has just been too slow to win at a consistent rate.  A good deck should be able to win the game in 7-8 turns.  While it will probably take a Lost World deck at least 8-9 turns to win.  Couple that with the fact that if the game goes to time, Lost World will almost always lose because it does not take any prize cards, and you have some reasons not to play this card. For right now, I would stay away from a Lost World deck, although they are very fun, and try to find a deck that can OHKO Pokemon. Lost World Clash of Legends

5.  Stay Consistent.

U.S. Nationals will probably be the biggest tournament ever.  It will be a very big tournament with a lot of rounds.  If you play a deck that runs on luck in a Battle Road, there is a decent chance that you will be able to get it to work about 5-7 times.  But, at nationals you will need your deck to work over a dozen times.  This means toning down the riskiness of your deck, and instead using a more consistent deck that is sure to work almost every time.

Decks like Reshiboar and Donphan are not flashy decks, but they setup consistently.  Just getting a deck to work at a high pressure situation like Nationals is a great thing.  Sure, you might be able to get your Lugia Legend deck work 5 times, but that will not be enough to do well in the top cut rounds.  It will take a sound consistent deck to make the top cut rounds and succeed.

6.  Don’t Listen To Me.

If I know anything, I know that I don’t know enough about the top players of this game to predict exactly what will happen.  I try to steer people to use safe consistent decks that will function most of the time.  But, I do not think that any deck like this will win nationals.  Sometimes you gotta take a chance and play a risky deck.  Safe consistent decks might win a lot of games, but probably will not win a lot in the top cut rounds.

So lets spice up your decks and maybe try something a little tricky. The trick is to know when to draw the line between a high reward deck, and  deck that’s just high risk.

I consider myself a knowledgeable player and a good player, but I am far from a great player.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you went against some of my rules (like no Lost World) and still did very very well.  You have to find the best deck for you, regardless about the trends in the meta.  Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut when it comes to deck choices, and not let my rules stop you.

Well those are my thoughts on narrowing down a deck choice.  If you are headed to Indy for the tournament, good luck.  I hope you complete your preparations and are ready to stay in the game for a long time.  It looks like I will probably be able to play in the main tournament, if I do, stay tuned for updates on how you guys can meet with me at Nats.  I’m hoping to meet a lot of you guys there and have fun, so stay tuned for more details.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

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  • Quarter-Turn

    This is really an excellent article. This is very sound advice, and is sure to help me and many other players better prepare for nationals and really any Pokémon TCG competition. Thank you so much for writing this.

  • jake long

    Your a pervert if people are asking you why you’re looking in their window