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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  • Anonymous

    Interesting question.  I think for the last Cities you should add your own cards to it and make it the best that it can be. 

    That means the 4th Prime, 4 Catchers, the 4th junk arm and communication, 4 Collectors, and a Pachirisu or 2. 

    So then we will know if this deck is really a contender or not, cause you have shown some promise, but just didn’t have the cards to compete with the big guys.  I wonder what if you had the cards that the other guys have, could this deck do it? 

    And then once you get back from your last cities, you can decide what to do about states. 

  • Anonymous

    I think that for States you should do whatever you feel like doing, however I donated cards to add to the experiment and make it more worthy of being a decent deck. I want to see a third Cities report with the deck, if nothing else.

    • Ed

      I can’t argue with that.  I would definitely finish out cities with this.  I still want to try to go over 50/50.  I really thought that I could make all 5 rounds before 4PM with a 12:30 start time, so I was disappointed when I had to cut out before the final round.

      My last few sentences of the article might have easily been misinterpreted now that I read them again.  I wasn’t suggesting that I would do something other than play this deck in the final City Championship.  I was wondering what I should do AFTER that.  Do you think I should try to mod the deck?  Should I modify the challenge?  Should I make a new challenge?  Etc.

      I would consider Pikkdogs’ thought of adding my own cards for next weekend, but only if everyone that donated thought it was the right plan.  I’m fully committed to playing it out with the current card pool.

      I would like to do something else interesting, but the big issue is that it’s States and Regionals coming up.  I’m not sure those are the best places to be screwing around with crazy challenges.  I’m not opposed to it, though.  If I think some new plan/idea/challenge/experiment sounds fun, I’m open to it.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with coolestman and pikkdogs. No one is running Raichu/Eel right now, and if after weeks of playing with it, you think you might have some tricks up your sleeve that would surprise everyone if you only had the cards, you should totally do that.

      I think Mewtwo will change things a lot–I’m not sure it will change Eel decks a lot, but I think it will change the way they are played a lot. I hope for States you do what you think is best. (And no, I’m *not* donating a playset of Mewtwo.)

      • Ed

        I don’t think that Coolestman was advocating me adding Catcher/etc. to the deck.  I think he was saying that I should stick with the original plan of the donated pool.

        Pikkdogs was the only one advocating me adding my own cards, I think.  Well, and my article’s comment could have been construed as me advocating that, but I’m not.

        If everyone that donated (Coolestman, Pikk, and Andy W.) wanted me to do a certain thing with the challenge for the final City, I’d go for it, whatever it may be.  The choice would have to be a unanimous vote for a change or stick with the original plan.

        I’m up for whatever, but I always planned on sticking with the plan (which is why it’s a plan, I guess).

  • PUAthelas

    18 energy is too much in my opinion

    • Ed

      I would generally agree, but based on testing, 20 was good, 16 had me missing drops, and 18 was kinda the compromise.  You end up throwing plenty away, and you really need to drop one each turn while still discarding many to Junk Arm, Juniper, and Engineer’s.

      I think this is one of the downfalls of the deck.  With an Eel deck, you would expect to rely more on the discard pile for energy.  In this deck, you really need to play one from hand and then use 2 Eel to get the other 2.

      If you run out of energy in your hand, you’re kinda done.  Again, on paper, even 16 seems like a ton.  In practice, it seems like too few.  It surprised me, too.

  • Anonymous

    Idea: Keep doing this, and for States the OHKO community tries to come up with a really crazy rogue deck using underrated cards, and you build the deck and play it. That would get more people to join because they aren’t giving you anything but their time. And you could help out.

    • Ed

      That’s a nice plan.

      Also, for a future idea (not sure when, States/Regionals/later), I thought about having a sort of “salary cap” challenge.  The idea would be to put a dollar limit on the deck.  I was thinking something like $50 (the cost of 3 Catcher + 2 Collector).  Then, anyone that wanted to participate would register their decklist.  The card prices would be used from some recognizable source (like Troll & Toad).  You would just have to keep the entire deck below the cap.

      Then we’d somehow keep track of wins and losses for each participant. Or, maybe it would just be me, and it would be a series on playing on a budget or whatever.

      • Anonymous

        Maybe we should have a thread/article/post/something where everyone posts their ideas for new Challenges, and we vote on them.