Challenge: Decklist & Other Discussion

by Ed ~ January 9th, 2012.

I got some cards from Coolestman22 since the last tourney, so the list was a bit better than the previous run.

The additions were:

  • 1 Zekrom: Excellent damage output without the energy discard that all my other attackers have
  • 1 Thundurus: Second turn 80 damage and puts 1 energy in the discard
  • 1 Pokemon Communication: Gets my evolutions
  • 1 Great Ball: Maybe the best addition (gets Junk Armed a lot)
  • 1 Pokemon Circulator: I gets me out of certain situations, but is also annoying when you know Catcher is in format.
  • 1 Professor Juniper: Great draw supporter for this deck

Notable omissions (stuff that didn’t quite make the cut):

  • Switch: Never NEEDed it, but sometimes thought it would have been handy
  • Good Rod (the only available Pokemon recovery): Too flippy to make the cut, but maybe could have helped
  • Judge: Maybe better than Copycat, but wasn’t obvious
  • Plus Power: This was ultimately cut after I deemed 16 energy too little
  • 4th Tynamo: This was ultimately cut after I deemed 16 energy too little
  • Stunfisk (Fighting): Type trumping tech seems nice, but still does only 100 damage if they’re weak
  • Raichu (HS-10 / not Prime): Just wasn’t as good as Zekrom/Thundurus

Here’s what I ran yesterday.

 16 Pokemon  14 Trainers  12 Supporters/Stadiums  18 Energy
3 Tynamo NVI 39 3 Poke Communication 4 Prof Oak New Theory 18 Lightning
3 Eelektrik NVI 40 3 Junk Arm 3 Professor Juniper
2 Pikachu HS 78 4 Dual Ball 4 Engineer’s Adjustments
1 Pikachu HSP 3 1 Great Ball 1 Copycat
3 Raichu Prime 1 Pokemon Circulator
1 Manaphy UL 3 1 Max Potion
2 Thundurus 1 Rocky Helmet
1 Zekrom

I think it worked well.  I really think the deck would be bumped to the next level if it had Catcher, but it still amazes me how well I’ve done with it.  In Rapid City, nobody beat the deck.  In the 2 Cities so far, I’ve never felt out of contention.  I don’t mean in a top-cut sense.  I mean more of that the majority of my games were winnable.  So far, only 1 loss seemed completely out of reach.  Even yesterday’s match against Alex (while probably out of reach from the start) was still a longish well-played match.

In tournament play, I’m now 4-5.  Out of those 5 losses, I feel like 3 of them could have gone my way if I wasn’t unlucky due to flipping or prizing.  What I mean is that I really feel good about the deck.  It’s unconventional, so that has an appeal on its own.  I’ve never seen anyone else playing Eel/Raichu, and when I beat someone with it, they often think that the combo is novel and deadly.

I’ve written before about the completely different scene/experiences at the “lower” tables as opposed to the “top” tables.  I don’t need to get much into it here, but it’s still surprisingly different.  If you find yourself at 1-2, the scenery is different than 2-1 and vastly different than 3-0.  You will find many more people playing interesting (non-netdeck, non-top-tier) decks.  You’ll find people playing seemingly subpar cards (when you know there’s a better card in the format).  You’ll find people playing what they have (as opposed to what’s known good).  You’ll play against people that don’t want to spend money on the expensive stuff.  You’ll play against people that make large mistakes (maybe without even knowing it was a mistake).  You’ll play against people that don’t know all the rules.  The list goes on.

When you’re at the top tables, there are few surprises (if you know what to expect).  For example, I thought everyone played Pokemon Catcher (except maybe Vileplume decks).  Yeah, it’s expensive, but I figured that it was expensive, because it was one of those cards that everyone needed multiples of.  The same goes for Pokemon Collector.  I thought everyone used some sort of draw engine.  I figured that if you didn’t know how to build a deck, you’d get help.

Well, everyone has to start somewhere, and not everyone has the same motivations for playing/building.  Some masters (like me) build a deck for themselves and their kid.  Some masters (I’ve talked to multiple like this) run a deck their kid made.

I always knew this, but I also thought it was important for me to play to win.  If I was going to play, I needed to play the deck that gave me the best shot at winning.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, that may not be the “BDIF,” because I strongly support the “play what you know” strategy.  However, I’m starting to expand on my thinking.

I think that tournaments can be a place to relax, have fun, meet new people, try new things, enjoy life, etc.  There’s a lot of stress when you’re pushing for a top cut each week.  That can be exhilarating, and it can be maddening.  There’s a lot of effort that goes into building, testing, and playing to try to win tourneys, prizes, worlds invites, etc.

I don’t think anyone is wrong here, but it’s interesting to notice the divide between the two.  You’d think there’d be more of a progression between the top performers and the bottom ones.  I’d say it’s more like maybe 4 groups:

  • Top Contenders: anyone in this group could top cut or win any given tourney
  • “Coulda Been a Contender”: people that have either the cards or skills to be in the top group, but for some reason aren’t (but may graduate at any time)
  • Just For Fun: people that (for various reasons) aren’t focused on top cutting
  • Newbies: this is probably a holding tank for anyone that will soon move into one of the above groups (or quit)

The big divide is right in the middle.  The people that aren’t focused on (or have no real ability to) making top cut are completely different than the contenders (and wannabe contenders).  The separation is obvious.  What isn’t obvious is which group is right and which is having the most fun.

With this Challenge, I changed my focus from making top cut to making something from nothing (in terms of deck building).  I’m having fun with it.  I feel more relaxed.  I feel like I can enjoy the surroundings more.  I feel like I’m excited when I win a game (as opposed to relieved that I didn’t lose).

I also feel like I’m not winning.  I feel like I need to make excuses to the top-tier people that I lose against (like I find that I usually explain that my deck is built from donations).  I feel like luck has more to do with my matches now.  I feel a bit like a wolf in sheep’s clothing (like I’m supposed to be in a different group, but I’m pretending to fit into the “just for fun” group).

I still don’t know what I will do for States.  At this point, I’m probably going back to a top tier deck for that tourney, but I could maybe play Raichu there.  What do you think?  Is winning inherently fun?  Is playing just to have fun setting yourself up for a loss?

Also, what should I do with this Eelektrik/Raichu deck now?  I have 1 City left.  That was the deal.  I don’t expect to get any new cards before the end of the run.  What about after that, though?  Do I need to mod the deck?  At some point, should I stick with the deck and add my own cards to it?  Should I create an entirely new challenge?  Should I give up on this whole idea?

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