Strategies in the Shadows

by Tyler Lindsey ~ September 20th, 2013.
Just A Funny Pic

Just A Funny Pic

What’s up guys!

To anyone who checked back last Friday expecting a new article from yours truly, I’d like to take this moment to apologize; I was halfway through writing it, but then my sweet laptop decided to crash on me. I lost everything I had written at that point (remember, CTRL+S is your friend). No matter though, because we are back this week and better than ever!

If you can recall my first article (http://www.onehitko.com/2013/08/30/thoughts-on-the-early-days-of-the-new-format/) I took a detailed look at the five strategies I felt were the ones to beat going into the new format. While this may go without saying, it is of the utmost importance that we have a strong understanding of what these decks are trying to do and how to best combat them. What is equally important, however, is that we keep a close eye on the decks that lurk in the shadows known as tier two, waiting for the perfect time to strike and spike the tournament; if you are not weary, you could find yourself in the losing bracket, regardless of how prepared you were for the big dogs.

So, today’s article will be a similar layout to my first article, but I will instead be taking a close look at the ‘tier 2’ strategies to expect going into Regionals and the like. I will also explain the environments each strategy needs in order to prosper, in an attempt to best prepare you for what you should expect at any given event. Let’s get started!

(And again, these are in no particular order!)

 

1.) Haxorus (PLB) Variants


15 Pokemon
4-0-4 Haxorus
2-2 Garbodor
1 Cobalion EX
1 Landorus EX
1 Mr. Mime
13 TSS
4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
2 Colress
22 Items
1 Dowsing Machine
4 Pokemon Catcher
4 Rare Candy
4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
3 Silver Bangle
3 Float Stone
1 Energy Search
1 Super Rod
10 Energy
4 Blend Energy WLFM
5 Metal Energy
1 Fighting Energy


Haxorus plb 69 revHaxorus is a card that many people have been keeping a close eye on since the release of Plasma Blast, but no one has really found the consensus best list in which to support him yet. I feel like Garbodor is the ideal support Pokemon for Haxorus, giving you much needed percentage points against Blastoise, as well as shutting off problematic Abilities in other matchups. That said, many other players have turned to Garchomp as a secondary attacker, giving you access to Gabite’s Dragon Call Ability, allowing you to stream your dragons at an efficient rate.

The energy split in this specific list allows us to maximize our chances of ‘two hit KO Dragonaxes’ (Dragonaxe for 1 w/ Bangle = 70. Dragonaxe for 2 w/ Bangle = 110. 70 + 110 = 180, enough to KO any threat in the format), while also keeping the Strike of the Champion option open for the Plasma Decks we exist to dismantle. Energy Search gives us easy access via Skyla to any Energy type we may require, allowing us to run a lone Fighting Energy for the situations in which it is needed.

Aside from that, this list is close to what you would expect. Keep in mind we are using the Noble Victories 60HP colorless Axew, which was fortunately reprinted as a McDonalds Promo, and is therefore still legal for tournament play. Cobalion EX is present as a means of holding down the fort against Plasma until your Haxorus is ready to sweep, as they can still blitz you and dominate the game before you can adequately set up. Landorus EX is a nod to the Darkrai matchup, as well as being incidentally very effective against both flavors of trainer lock we may face throughout the day. Mr. Mime is an ever popular piece of technology, mitigating our opposition’s aggressive starts that can make short work of our stage two deck if we are not prepared.

All in all, this deck very much reminds me of the Machamp (SF) decks of season’s past; you are favored enough against the best deck in format (in our case, Plasma. In Machamp’s, SP) to be a legitimate contender in the tournament, but your other matchups just aren’t good enough for you to claim a tier one spot for yourself. This isn’t necessarily a bad place to be, however; being out of the spotlight means you can sit back and wait for a Plasma-dominated metagame to shape itself… and then Strike (of the Champion) when the time is right! Haxorus is a very powerful card, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see it make a top tables appearance at some point in the near future.

2.) Klinklang (PLS)


15 Pokemon
4-0-4 Klinklang
4 Cobalion EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Durant (DRX)
1 Mr. Mime
13 TSS
4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
2 Colress
22 Items
1 Dowsing Machine
4 Pokemon Catcher
4 Rare Candy
4 Switch
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
2 Heavy Ball
2 Level Ball
1 Ultra Ball
1 Energy Search
9 Energy
9 Metal Energy


With the rotation of the Black & White Klinklang, many players feel like the Klinklang strategy’s days are numbered. Quite the contrary; while the Energy manipulation that the now-rotated Klinklang brought to the table will be sorely missed, Plasma Steel is still an ability that will rack up its fair share of free wins off of unsuspecting opponents. Looking at the popular decks of present, we can see that most Darkrai and Blastoise strategies are not prepared for a Klinklang comeback, and Virizion/Genesect isn’t exactly ready either (even with G-Booster shenanigans accounted for). This is definitely something to think about when considering whether or not Klinklang may be a good meta call.

Delving into the intricacies of this list, we immediately notice that Jirachi EX (courtesy of Plasma Blast) is a great new asset for Klinklang strategies, boosting consistency while being protected under Plasma Steel; being a 90HP EX, Jirachi EX’s biggest downfall is the free two prizes it represents in the mid-to-late game, so having a way to prevent that is much appreciated. Durant (DRX) does his best Sableye impression in this deck, and while it is nowhere near the power level of its dark counterpart, having access to a recycle card is definitely something a deck like this is interested in. Its ability to get back any type of card, not just Items, is definitely worth noting.

What is probably the more glaring inclusion in this deck is the three copies of Hypnotoxic Laser with no Virbank City Gym to be found. While Cobalion EX’s Righteous Edge attack is very effective at countering Kyurem-centric Plasma strategies by keeping their Energy in check, the actual numbers are a little awkward; even with weakness accounted for, 60 + 60 = 10 damage short of a clean two hit KO, and that’s where our precious Lasers come in to save the day. Against other strategies, your primary plan is to brick wall them with Plasma Steel and use Silver Bullet to sweep them, so (save the random Potion) you won’t find many other applications for the extra damage Laser provides. That said, the ability to effectively deal with Kyurem is more than enough to warrant Laser’s inclusion, even if Virbank City isn’t the location of choice.

As far as positioning goes, it is fairly obvious that Klinklang wants a format of predominantly EX attackers in order to flourish, but it is also important to keep in mind that Cobalion EX itself is naturally advantaged versus the primary non-EX deck in the format- TDK. Unfortunately, as with any stage two deck in this harsh environment, you run the risk of getting ran over before you have ample time to develop your board state. Looking past that, if there were any strategy that rewarded you for taking that risk, it would be Klinklang, as some decks simply fold to Plasma Steel if they are unprepared.

 

3.) Turbo Flareon


23 Pokemon
4-4 Flareon
4-3 Cofagrigus
4 Audino
4 Ditto
12 TSS
4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Random Receiver
22 Items
1 Computer Search
2 Pokemon Catcher
4 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
2 Team Plasma Ball
4 Bicycle
4 Silver Bangle
1 Super Rod
4 Energy
4 Double Colorless Energy


flareon plf 12While we are on the note of Klinklang, meet Klinklang’s worst enemy! This deck is quite the brew, and I believe this strategy’s fruition can be credited to John Kettler (correct me if I am wrong). While I am not 100% sure on the numbers on this list, it has worked fairly well for me in testing, enough for me to feel confident sharing it with all of you. Feel free to switch cards out to better suit you.

Honestly, this deck’s strategy is fairly cut and dry; fill up your discard pile with Pokemon at a blisteringly fast pace in an attempt to Vengance KO EXs for three consecutive turns. Simple, right? But in this case, simple is good. This deck very much plays out like a combo deck; once you memorize the procedures, there is very little actual ‘play’ to piloting the deck; either you get there or you don’t. That said, it is frightening just how often this deck does get there; certainly enough for it to be a legitimate threat going into Regionals.

Flareon itself has Cofagrigus as a co-host to the strategy, providing a little extra damage output, while also lending to the discard pile Vengance plan. Of course, Six Feet Under is at its best when you have a fresh N to follow it up with (not only shuffling their newly taken prize away, but making them draw one less card from N itself), so we are running the full set of Random Receiver in addition to our Ns in an attempt to maximize our chances of pulling off this powerful play. Audino is an easy pitch-from-hand (hopefully never hitting the bench…), but don’t overlook the card’s ability to ruin your opponent’s numbers, or even get you out of an unlucky Laser flip in the opposition’s favor. Also, keep in mind that Audino can only remove one Special Condition at a time! Lastly, Ditto does its best Broken Time-Space impression in our deck, allowing you to set up a Flareon or Cofagrigus out of nowhere, while also assuring that one more Pokemon will find its way to the discard pile when said evolution gets KO’d.

This deck’s best matchups are the ones in which it can hit for weakness (Virizion/Genesect & Klinklang), because it significantly reduces the amount of Pokemon required in the discard pile in order to set up the one hit KO. Flareon still has game against the entire field, but is not without its fair share of games where it just finds itself 10-20 damage short. If there comes a time where Virizion/Genesect becomes the elephant in the room, Flareon will be there to counter it. Even if that day never comes, Flareon is a fun combo-like deck, and is more than capable of spiking a tournament.

 

4.) Tool Drop


10 Pokemon
4 Trubbish (PLS 65)
4 Sigilyph PLB
1-1 Masquerain
12 TSS
4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Random Receiver
29 Items
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Pokemon Catcher
4 Bicycle
4 Level Ball
1 Super Rod
1 Tool Scrapper
4 Exp. Share
3 Silver Mirror
3 Silver Bangle
4 Float Stone
2 Eviolite
9 Energy
9 Psychic Energy


sigilyph plb 41This is a deck that came into existence with the release of Plasma Blast and the Sigilyph that resided within. With Sigilyph being able to hold a whopping FOUR Tools at once, this deck aims to dump a ridiculous amount of Pokemon Tools on the board and sweep with Tool Drop Trubbish for an upwards of 200+ damage. Much like Flareon, this deck is astonishingly consistent at setting its ideal board state up as early as turn two. Also worth noting is how much fun the deck is to play… it is hard to frown while playing Tool Drop. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Most of the numbers of specific Tools can be changed to your liking (or to the tune of whatever meta you expect to be facing) with the 1-1 Masquerain granting you the ability to share all Tools among your Pokemon at will. The deck, structure-wise, is very similar to that of Flareon, with turbo cards such as Random Receiver and Bicycle accelerating you to your end-game, only in this case, rather than filling our discard pile with Pokemon, we are dumping a truckload of Tools into play!

One Tool that I highly suggest keeping at four, however, is Exp. Share. With Tool Drop being a two Energy attack, having a means of keeping the Energy flowing when exchanging blows with our opponent is crucial, and Exp. Share does exactly that. Without it, we may easily find ourselves falling short of the energy requirements to keep the Tool-beats train moving, and especially so in a deck with a 70HP primary attacker, that is not something we want to happen.

Tool Drop to me very much seems like the tier 1.5 deck of this format; it actually doesn’t need a specific environment in order to be well positioned (although it would prefer Tool Scrappers are kept at a minimum). Perhaps with a fair amount of refinement, it could find itself standing side-by-side with the other top strategies, but only time will tell. If nothing else, Tool Drop is ridiculously fun to play, and that’s why we’re playing Pokemon to begin with, right?- because we want to have fun!

 

5.) Rayquaza/Emboar


12 Pokemon
4-0-4 Emboar
3 Rayquaza EX
1 Moltres (NXD)
12 TSS
4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
24 Items
1 Computer Search
4 Rare Candy
4 Ultra Ball
2 Switch
3 Pokemon Catcher
3 Superior Energy Retrieval
1 Energy Retrieval
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Energy Search
4 Tropical Beach
12 Energy
9 Fire Energy
3 Electric Energy


emboarWell-known for being Blastoise’s neglected counterpart, RayBoar actually has a fair amount going for it. First off, in a matchup all about attrition, RayBoar actually finds itself favored in the ‘Blastoise mirror’; the fact that Rayquaza EX only requires 2 Energy to be discarded in order to one hit KO Black Kyurem EX is huge. Since Black Kyurem still needs to Black Ballista for the full amount to return the favor, they will likely find themselves running out of steam before you do. The easy-access to Moltres (NXD) is also appreciated, giving us an excellent outs to Klinklang strategies, as well as a ‘7th-Prize’ sweeper against Virizion/Genesect. Blastoise can also run Moltres if it is needed, but is far more taxing on the Energy lineup.

As far as the Trainers/Energy go, this deck is virtually a mirror of Blastoise, with all of the Energy buybacks and consistency cards you’ve come to expect. Switch gets the nod over Float Stone since we are not running Keldeo EX in our list, as it allows us to break away from Special Conditions when necessary. Four Tropical Beach is industry standard, accompanied by the full four Skyla that give us the best chance at starting out with our precious Stadium; the games where we establish Beach on turn one generally go far better than the ones where we don’t!

Before I go any further, I must say I understand the hate that this deck has drawn towards it. Sadly, the 10 less HP Rayquaza EX has compared to Black Kyurem EX actually makes a world of difference. In the Plasma matchup, it is one less Deoxys EX on the bench they require in order to one hit KO you (Blizzard Burn [120] + Silver Bangle [30] + two Deoxys EX [20] = 170), and any Plasma player can vouch for the fact that the second Deoxys EX is far easier to get on the bench than the third. Furthermore, against Darkrai, hitting 170 is far easier to set up through cunning snipes than 180 (Night Spear [90] + Dark Claw [20] + Snipe/LaserBank [30] + Snipe/LaserBank [30] = 170). In a world where Kyurem and Darkrai are fighting for the throne, these are most definitely cons to be cognitive of.

That said, the aforementioned upside of RayBoar (mirror superiority and access to Moltres [NXD] for Virizion/Genesect) is enough for it to hold its own as a legitimate contender, and given the right environment, it could easily be the Blastoise flavor of the week some time in the future. Heck, you will likely gain percentage points against unsuspecting opponents who assume RayBoar is bad! There is always value in the underdog factor.

 

 

Closing Statements

 

The five decks listed above, while not considered to be the cream of the crop, are still more than capable of pushing their way to top cut with the right pilot and right matchups. Some of them just need a refined list, while some need a specific environment in order to excel. Whatever deck you choose to pilot, it is important you show up prepared for the underdogs also, so as to avoid falling prey to the unexpected.

Next Friday, I’ve got another home-brew for you guys to check out, and again, I think it could ride to be a legitimate contender come Regionals! If you’re stuck looking for a deck to play in this new season, check back in seven days for a fresh take on tier one!

Until then, thanks for reading guys. Tell your friends!

-Tyler

Category: Deck Discussion | Tags:
  • Ethan Cooke

    Nice article! I like why you’ve been doing so far,keep it up:)

  • Pokedad68

    Good article! I think you should have made it the “Top 6” tier 2’s and added in the FluffyChomp deck.

  • bill

    enjoyed this article :) mr mime and or potion might help rayboar out.
    what is your opinion on turbo flareon over tech flareon (drifblim, fighting attacker etc)?

  • Ed

    I think I’m gonna try the Flareon list. It seems like my type of deck (Cheap both monetarily and in play style).