What’s up everyone!
First off, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to read my debut article from last week. I’m sure this much is obvious by now, but I am very passionate about Pokemon and writing alike, so it means a lot to me that people would stop what they are doing to read what I have to say. Hopefully in time, as more articles are posted, more and more people will discover this website and what we have to offer to the community. Of course, you can help with that too; if you read our articles and dig what you see, don’t hesitate to tell your friends about us! Word of mouth really does go a long way, and every single person who shares us helps us out a tremendous amount.
(In case you didn’t catch my last article, you can view it via the link directly below.)
While I am pretty confident with my predictions in last week’s article, only time will tell what archetypes truly prove themselves to be the cream of the crop. Trying to qualify for Worlds having not played in over two years is going to be a major challenge for me, and if I want to succeed, I have to make sure to make the right meta calls from the very first event. When determining what deck is an optimal play in the early days of a format, there are always a few factors I like to consider, the first of which being that since there are little-to-no results for us to analyze and learn from, everyone who turns in their deck registration sheet at that very first event is going off of theory, raw testing results and not much else.
Because of this, we can deduce that the decks that will perform the best throughout the early stages of a season are generally going to be more proactive than reactive, meaning they are more concerned with ‘asking a question’ than ‘providing an answer’; without an adequate amount of tournament results to go by, the reactive decks simply don’t know what questions they need to answer (or how to best address them, for that matter). Proactive decks, however, don’t need to know all the right answers, because, well, they are the question! This logic also applies to techs somewhat; there is nothing wrong with adding a card or two to counter what you predict you will be facing, but a fully teched-out deck is generally going to be less favored in a beginning-of-the-format tournament when compared to a consistent, streamlined one.
Take TDK for example- what is probably the biggest ‘question deck’ of this new format. The question TDK asks its opponent is this: ‘How are you going to deal with a consistent flurry of Kyurem backed by Team Plasma support?’. As we all know good and well, this is not an easy question to answer effectively, which is what makes TDK the consensus strongest strategy right now. See, TDK isn’t worried about attacking specific strategies it may or may not face; regardless of what you’re playing, TDK just wants to Blizzard Burn for obscene amounts of damage as early as possible until all six prizes are taken. This is what it means to be a proactive strategy.
Now on the other end of the spectrum, consider the new flavors of Trainer-Lock (Zebstrika or Dragonite), which are without a doubt ‘answer decks’. While they do a good enough job answering the TDK question (‘I will stop your Kyurem with a Silver Mirror you cannot possibly remove.’), there are too many other questions being asked in the format that they cannot properly address with the minuscule amount of information they currently have, such as ‘How are you going to deal with a barrage of Night Spears and snipe damage?’ and ‘What can you do to keep up with Emerald Slash acceleration onto a battle-ready Genesect EX?’. Furthermore, consider the fact that some questions you may be asked, you may not even be aware of until you find yourself sitting across from them the day of the tournament, and how can you possibly be prepared to answer questions you didn’t even know existed?
Fact is, while the answer decks may be able to address a couple of the question decks correctly, in the early days of a format, there are just too many questions being asked, and not enough information available to figure out the proper answers to all of them. With this considered, the biggest piece of advice I would give to someone determining what deck to play in a new format’s dawn is this: Don’t worry about finding the best answers; just ask the toughest questions!
Of course, this is not to say that you can’t find success with a deck that no one is expecting; it just means you are going to want to make your unexpected deck a proactive one. That is to say, make sure your deck is one that is asking a question no one even knows exists yet. This is something I always keep in mind when tinkering with off-the-wall strategies for early-stage tournaments. On that note, during my testing of the five decks I listed in the above article, I actually ended up brewing up a proactive (yet unexpected!) strategy of my own design. Best of all, I feel it can hold its own with all the other ‘tough questions’ I expect to occupy the top tables come Regionals. Today, I’d like to share this strategy I am referring to (as well as the thought process that lead to its creation) with all of you.
It began specifically with the testing of Virizion/Genesect, a deck which, while inherently powerful, is becoming well-known in the community for being a tier 1.5 strategy with a missing ingredient. As I stated in last week’s article, I personally found this ‘missing ingredient’ to be Energy Switch, but I’m sure other players in the community hard at testing have come to their own conclusions. At the end of the day, I did find a Virizion/Genesect 60 that I was content with, but during my quest to find alternative Virizion/Genesect decks in the format, I began to wonder if maybe the two weren’t actually as well-suited for eachother as I initially thought, as least not with Energy Switch absent. Soon enough, I found myself drafting lists centered around both Virizion EX and Genesect EX, but never with the two actually together, in an attempt to find an alternative path no one else had fully exposed yet.
I easily wound up with a Virizion EX-centered deck that I am currently very happy with, but that is a different article for a different week. Genesect EX, on the other hand, wasn’t so easy. Virizion EX is a provider; it has two insanely powerful strengths to lend to its allies (virtual immunity to all Special Conditions + Energy acceleration), so all you need to do is find the Pokemon that best benefit from said strengths, and you’re good to go. Genesect EX, however, needs to be provided for, with a high Energy requirement for both its base attack (Megalo Cannon) as well as its ACE SPEC attack (G Booster). It isn’t as simple as throwing it in a deck with some like-minded Pokemon and calling it a day; Genesect EX requires an efficient engine to function at its full potential, and without said engine present, it is far too slow of an attacker to thrive in this fast-paced environment (think Darkrai EX without Dark Patch and Sableye).
When considering support cards in the format for Genesect EX to function on, Plasma is the first (and only) alternative to Virizion EX that comes to mind. The guilt-free searching of Team Plasma Ball coupled with the easy Energy acceleration Colress Machine provides are both things that Genesect EX can stand to benefit greatly from, so it seems wise to take advantage of its Plasma watermark. Genesect EX’s Ability ‘Red Signal’ strongly encourages the use of Plasma Energy anyways, so the switch to a Team Plasma-centric list was a bit of a no-brainer.
That said, if I wanted to use the Plasma suite to fuel my Genesect EX, I was going to have to find other Team Plasma Pokemon that would lend to the strategy as well. Deoxys EX was an obvious inclusion, as hitting for more damage is something every deck should want to do. Of course, the Power Connect ability gets major bonus points if it allows you to hit specific magic numbers. As I said in my previous article, Megalo Cannon is an attack that greatly benefits from an extra 10 damage (allowing you to KO two opposing Kyurem in two turns), but when running a full set of Deoxys, it starts to reach Night Spear levels of effectiveness; three Deoxys on the bench and you’re one hit KO’ing Kyurem (while setting up an EX on the opposition’s bench to get one hit KO’d by Megalo Cannon later on in the game). Normally, the attack can reliably two hit KO anything and everything while putting an awkward-at-best 20 damage elsewhere, but with enough Deoxys EX behind it, Megalo Cannon begins to dominate the board single-handedly. This, in turn, allows you to rely less on your G Boosters (something any Genesect EX player should strive to do), saving the powerful ACE SPEC for those big turns where it is necessary to put the game away.
All things considered, Deoxys EX was an easy fit, but I knew it would not be enough on its own; a supporting attacker would also be needed, preferably one that would be able to hold the fort down in the early game before Genesect EX could take over and sweep up. Unfortunately, the almighty Kyurem wasn’t a possibility due to the conflicting energy requirements between Blizzard Burn and Megalo Cannon, so I had to look within the Blend Energy GRPD cluster for possible candidates. Unfortunately, the list was a small one, with Heatran EX and Absol being the only Pokemon of note. While Heatran EX could potentially be a one-of to help the Virizion/Genesect matchup, I don’t see it doing much for the deck past that. On the other hand, I knew Absol was a total machine, hitting like a bag full of toy trucks in the early game, as well as being a complete monster in the Plasma ‘mirror’ match, where benches are always full, and every single Energy attachment counts. The fact that Absol only requires two Energy to (usually) one-hit KO a Kyurem (while Kyurem needs three Energy to return the blow) is a big deal, and it would definitely go a long way toward swinging the match in B-Side’s favor. Even outside of the Plasma matchup, being able to Mind Jack early game with a few Deoxys EX in the back row would often hit harder than a turn one Frost Spear (giving you your fair share of easy donks against Stage 1 and 2 decks), and with a strong start, it didn’t seem too unlikely to have an EX KO’d via dual Mind Jacks by turn two! While it has already earned its keep in the TDK family, I felt that Absol would work some serious overtime in this strategy, and give Genesect EX the angle of attack he was sorely lacking- a way to hit hard, and hit fast.
At this point, I knew what I wanted to do. I had a list in my mind’s eye, but it was time to transfer it to reality. A draft list was written, proxies were sleeved up, the deck hit the gauntlet, and after a fair amount of refinement, I found the list I was ready to show the community. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…
3 Genesect EX
1 Thundurus EX
4 Deoxys EX
4 Professor Juniper
4 Blend Energy GRPD
4 Plasma Energy
4 Prism Energy
1 Lightning Energy
I am beyond satisfied with this list, and while you could swap a couple cards out to better fit your tastes, I feel the 60 cards above is very close to being the best it can be (at least for the current expected meta). Below I have provided an in-depth analysis of the list, card for card, as well as a matchup guide, touching base on the strategies to beat in the current environment.
3 Genesect EX: The primary attacker of the deck and all around powerhouse. It can either sweep in ‘Darkrai EX Mode’ with Megalo-Cannon + snipes, or enter ‘Black Kyurem EX Mode’ with G Booster, for when you just need that one hit KO to seal the deal. Also worth noting is that Genesect EX’s ‘Red Signal’ ability allows Plasma Energy to act as Pokemon Catchers 5-8, provided the situation calls for such a thing.
3 Absol: Genesect EX’s partner-in-crime and the secondary attacker of the strategy. What Absol really excels at is hitting hard in the early game, allowing you to capitalize on your opponent’s weak and/or slow starts, but it is also capable of achieving some unrealistic KO’s in matchups where the benches are fully loaded. The low HP is of concern, but can be worked around with tight play.
1 Thundurus EX: Generally, Thundurus EX will give you a means of recovering lost Energy in the late game, an option this deck definitely needs. While it is capable of helping you accelerate in the early game (as well as the damage from Raiden Knuckle helping set up Megalo Cannon/Mind Jack KO’s later on), this is not the most reliable plan, however useful it is when it presents itself.
4 Deoxys EX: An uncontested staple for all Plasma strategies old and new, allowing your other Pokemon to reach KO’s they otherwise would not be able to achieve. It can also attack in a Mewtwo wars scenario (or just in a pinch), so be sure to remember that angle.
4 Professor Juniper: Just the best Supporter in the format. The synergy with our one-of Thundurus EX is not to be overlooked.
4 N: Gets an obvious inclusion simply due to being one of the best Supporters in the format.
3 Skyla: With a lot of ‘silver bullet’ Trainers in the deck, Skyla allows you easy access to whichever one you need at any given time.
2 Colress: An exceedingly powerful Supporter that is especially useful in this strategy due to the benches usually being loaded. Less useful in the early game, but the mid-to-late game merits make it well worth the inclusion.
0 Shadow Triad: This is not a deck that wants to be reliant on G Booster to get its KO’s, and past that specific target, it is hard to imagine a scenario where getting anything else back will make this better than any other Supporter you could otherwise play, not to mention how abysmal it is early game. With this in mind, I personally decided to leave Shadow Triad on the sidelines.
1 G Booster: The main draw towards playing Genesect EX. It allows you the ability to one hit KO anything you may need to at the cost of your ACE SPEC slot.
4 Pokemon Catcher: A format staple. Hard to justify not running the full playset when there is room.
4 Colress Machine: A vital piece of the Plasma package that allows this deck to function. It gives the deck easy access to the Energy acceleration required to compete in this fast format.
4 Team Plasma Ball: Another important part of the Plasma package. It allows the deck to set up its ideal formation consistently (3 Deoxys EX, 3 attackers).
2 Ultra Ball: Even more search power to further increase consistency.
4 Switch: The obligatory retreat card. It gets the nod over Skyarrow Bridge due to Deoxys EX’s 2 retreat cost and over Float Stone due to conflicting space in the Pokemon Tool section.
2 Dark Claw: Here strictly for Absol, helping you churn out KO’s like nobody’s business.
1 Silver Bangle: Another tool strictly for Absol, giving you the extra 10 damage over Dark Claw when it is necessary to KO an EX
1 Tool Scrapper: Gives the deck a means of dealing with problematic tools such as Silver Mirror and Silver Bangle. Two is likely not necessary due to G Booster being able to break through Mirror.
…should be pretty much self-explanatory!
Vs. TDK: One of the main draws to playing B-Side Plasma is your favorable matchup vs. the elephant in the room; TDK. You have the advantage of knowing their strategy far better than they know yours (unless they read this article!) so be sure to use this to your benefit. The heavy Absol line puts them in a very difficult position; they can keep their bench low to reduce the effectiveness of Mind Jack, but that means their Blizzard Burns will often be unable to KO your Genesect EXs. If they play normally and fill their bench up, Genesect EX becomes within reach for them, but then Absol will make short work of their team. Therefore, it is a constant struggle for them to find the happy medium between ‘not enough Deoxys’ and ‘too many Pokemon on the bench’, and they will likely not be able to find it in time to turn the game around. In the event B-Side Plasma becomes a well-known entity and TDK players learn the matchup, it is possible they will gain some percentage points, but until that point, it is doubtful they will know how to play optimally vs. you when put on the spot, and you can easily capitalize on their lack of knowledge to gain an edge.
Vs. Trainer-Lock: Despite being a deck consisting of all Plasma Pokemon, you are more favored in this matchup than the likes of TDK and Lugia Plasma. There are two reasons for this, one being Absol’s superior early game damage output via Mind Jack, and the other being G Booster, which gives you an outs to the Mirror-Lock (provided you can actually get the G Booster on the table before they establish their Deafen/Disconnect). Your best window to attack is the first turn, where they will have a Blitzle or Dratini with a single Energy on it. If you can consistently keep them off the Disconnect/Deafen by attacking their Basic Pokemon, it is smooth sailing, but fail to do so, and they might sneak the win on you. There isn’t much to this matchup, really. You just have to push your resources for the turn one Mind Jack and hope they don’t have the Exp. Share.
Vs. Blastoise: Another matchup with a minimal amount of actual ‘play’ to it. Oftentimes, you will get a free win off of an inconsistent start, but the reverse also applies; if they assemble ‘The Combo’ too quickly, they transcend reality and Black Ballista you to oblivion. For every game that resides in between, make sure to target the Squirtles with early game Mind Jacks and do everything in your power to keep them off of Blastoise. Even if Blastoise does get set up, provided you have a Genesect EX ready to shut it back off, you should be alright. Failure to interact with the Blastoise in time means they combo off and you likely lose as a result. Lastly, don’t try to interact with Black Kyurem EX; it will outrace you every time (honestly, this mostly applies to any deck not running Garbodor, but I digress).
Vs. Darkrai: This is definitely a tougher (yet still very winnable) matchup for our strategy. While Absol has its merits, you will want to focus on streaming Genesect EXs if at all possible. Unless either player finds a window to steal the win in the early game, the clash becomes tooth and nail, with both decks trading blows until one person inevitably misses a beat. Plasma is still Plasma, so Enhanced Hammer will give you a very difficult time, and it can cause them to pull ahead in the race. That said, keep in mind that a well-timed G Booster attack can pull you ahead, also. The one-of Thundurus EX is the MVP, giving you much needed recovery in the wake of Enhanced Hammer, while setting up the math quite nicely for a Megalo Cannon KO on a Darkrai EX (provided you have some Deoxys EX in the back row). To summarize, this is very much an attrition-based matchup. You need to hit hard, play smart, and hope they don’t draw the clutch Enhanced Hammers when they need them.
Vs. Virizion/Genesect: This is another matchup where Absol is less impactful, due to Virizion/Genesect’s ability to operate with an exceptionally low bench count, but be wary of Fearsome Shadow in the early game should you draw multiple copies of Colress Machine, as it can allow you to aggro them before they have ample time to set up. Past that, dedicating your resources toward setting up a fast Genesect EX is likely your best course of action. Once again, our lone Thundurus EX does good work here, and Deoxys EX can actually act as a respectable attacker in this matchup also, should the situation ever come to it. Like Darkrai, this battle is all about attrition; you want to keep their Energy off the table if at all possible. If they get too many Emerald Slashes off, they will pull too far ahead and outlast you in the late game, so target the Virizion EXs first if that is the route the opponent seems to be taking. In the event this deck gives you too much trouble, the option of a lone Heatran EX stands, although I personally don’t feel the matchup is bad enough to warrant its inclusion.
(This covers the main decks I would expect to play against, but if you have any questions regarding another possible matchup, drop me a comment in the questions and I’ll get back at you!)
B-Side Plasma, on top of being inherently powerful, does everything that a deck needs to do in order to compete in the early days of a season, and it does them well; it is consistent, streamlined, proactive and aggressive, but best of all, while having all of these essential qualities, it still hits from the left-field and takes the opposition by surprise. While you are not without your tougher matchups (Darkrai is likely the most difficult), you will have game against every deck in the format (that is to say, no auto-losses), and plenty of good matchups to boot. In short, I would highly recommend sleeving this deck up and giving it a test drive if you’re looking to play something fresh and new that still kicks like a tried and true competitive archetype. If you do decide to give it a whirl, let me know how it works out for you in the Comments section below. (You should do that if you have any input, for that matter!)
That’s all for this week. Next Friday, I am going to be taking a detailed look at the results from the Klazynski Open that took place this past weekend, the impact the results of the tournament will have on our metagame going into Regionals, as well as discussing the many merits that unsanctioned events such as these hold for our game! So be sure to check back for that, same time, same place.
Until then, thanks for reading!
-TylerCategory: Card Discussion, Deck Discussion | Tags: Absol, Deoxys EX, Silver Mirror. Genesect EX, Thundurus EX