I hope everyone is as stoked for X & Y as I am. They’ve really been slow-rolling the final evolutions of the starters in particular, and I for one am anxious to see what they look like so I can finally figure out which one I want to use (at the moment I am leaning towards Fennekin, like many others, but I am still undecided).
Anyways, we’re back, this time with a new rogue strategy article for you to ingest! Much like my second article (http://www.onehitko.com/2013/09/06/unveiling-b-side-plasma/), I will be delving into my thought processes as I was developing the deck, as well as giving you a card-for-card list with detailed explanations, and an in-depth matchup guide to boot. We’re closing in on Regionals season, so preparedness is of the utmost importance, regardless of what deck you’re looking to play!
Much like the Plasma alternative I spoke of in my second article, my quest to create this deck began during my testing of the Virizion/Genesect archetype, not long after the Plasma Blast set was released. Players have a tendency to evaluate strategies found in the Japanese metagame and compare them to our environment, even though the two formats more often than not have a fair amount of discrepancies between them. These discrepancies, no matter how small, can have a massive impact on the way games play out, and subsequently impact the way a metagame shapes up. This was exactly the case with Virizion/Genesect, as the current lack of Energy Switch in the non-Japanese environment proved to be a major blow to the strategy’s effectiveness (at least those were my conclusions, others may have their own). Of course, when battling against the ‘fair decks’ such as Darkrai, this is largely mitigated by the fact that since they are without Energy Switch as well, both decks will be (on paper) operating at the same level of efficiency, despite the fact that both strategies require Energy manipulation in order to excel. That said, against decks that maintained a means of both Energy acceleration and mid-to-late game Energy recovery (Plasma and Blastoise decks in particular), it is very easy to feel outclassed and overwhelmed when undergoing a slower start.
A brief aside: This doesn’t spell doom for the green duo as potential top contenders, however; there are a few roads you can choose to take. Many players have begun trying out third attackers in an attempt to shore up the matchups that need the most work, Plasma definitely being one of them. Drifblim is a popular card in particular, as both the DRX and PLB versions of the card synergize well together, and present a very dangerous threat for the Team Plasma decks, that hinge on their attached Energy remaining intact while setting up. The obvious downside to ‘The Balloon Plan’ is that against decks that are unfazed by Special Energy hate, your copies of Drifloon and Drifblim pretty much become blank cards. All things considered, with the amount of Plasma that can be expected with the release of the Fall 2013 tins (and the availability of chase Plasma cards as a result), it may just be worth the sacrifice against other archetype in order to better your percentage points against the top dog in the metagame.
Personally, while I was aware of the hot Drifblim technology (and its effectiveness at Derail’ing the world-famous Team Plasma setups), I viewed it as more of a fallback; not really something I’d be ecstatic playing, but could definitely envision a format where it would be a necessary evil. As stated weeks ago, this lead me to testing Virizion EX and Genesect EX individually, building decks around each of them to see if there were other synergies that people were neglecting. Virizion EX is a card that just screams ‘build around me’; it has a very relevant ability that highly encourages the use of predominantly Grass Energy in your deck, and an attack that tutors said Energy from your deck, attaching them to your Benched Pokemon one pair at a time. This means that by the end of your turn three (provided it is your second Emerald Slash), you have a whopping seven Energy on the table- some of the best Energy acceleration this game has ever seen. Being released in the same set as Virizion EX, it wasn’t hard for the community at large to figure out that Genesect EX is definitely in the market for all that Virizion EX provides, but I wasn’t satisfied, and wanted to see if there were any other Pokemon that would stand to benefit from the Energy acceleration effect. One angle of attack that standard Virizion/Genesect lists lack is a way to hit early in the matchups where that is important (not counting any Plasma Badge shenanigans), so ideally, whatever alternative to Genesect EX I found would be capable of doing just that.
Hilariously enough, Mewtwo EX was once known as being the monster that ushered in the era of total EX dominance we live in today. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated a time where Mewtwo EX was overshadowed by even more oppressive EX’s, but the likes of Darkrai EX, Black Kyurem EX and many others showed us that it is most definitely possible. That said, with Virizion EX joining the fray, Mewtwo EX is poised for the comeback of the year, becoming the partner in crime for our favorite green deer (sorry, summer Deerling). Mewtwo EX being a 170HP EX means that the immunity to the Poison from Hypnotoxic Laser will often amount to an extra turn on board, which directly translates to an extra X Ball attack. Speaking of X Ball, as an attack without a damage cap, and a multiplier based on the number of Energy attached to Mewtwo EX (and the Defending Pokemon, of course), Virizion EX’s Emerald Slash does a perfect job at charging up our Mewtwo EX so that our X Balls are always dealing tons of damage. The inherent synergy between these two Pokemon became the base of this strategy, allowing a powerful default set of plays to lead with, regardless of the matchup was.
Of course, Mewtwo EX is not without its shortcomings. Against Blastoise in particular, Mewtwo EX has a hard time maintaining board parity, with Black Kyurem cleverly discarding its Energy upon attacking, leaving us with an X Ball barely capable of a three hit KO. In its prime, a Blastoise deck is belching out 200 damage a turn, so this would not be acceptable if I wanted to have a fighting chance in the matchup. Furthermore, Team Plasma’s Deoxys EX presents a dangerous situation for Mewtwo EX; if we present a Mewtwo EX with two Energy for X Ball, they can promote Deoxys EX, attach a Prism Energy and use Colress Machine to Helix Force us seemingly out of nowhere for 180 due to weakness, a clean one hit KO with 10 damage to spare. While Mewtwo EX hits Deoxys EX for weakness as well, a two Energy X Ball returning the blow to said Deoxys EX only deals 160, falling a mere 10 damage short of being able to return in the prize exchange. To those unaware, this is commonly known as losing the ‘Mewtwo’ war, and while not all opponents will be able to see the attack-with-Deoxys EX angle, you definitely need to be cognitive of it, so as to avoid falling prey to an unexpected Helix Force sweep. To summarize, while Mewtwo EX is an obviously powerful card that works well with what Virizion EX is trying to do, I knew it was going to need a supporting cast if the strategy was to succeed against the expected field in its entirety.
I started with the Blastoise matchup, which is surprisingly difficult. Despite the fact that Virizion EX hits both Blastoise and Keldeo EX for weakness, the numbers do not work out in its favor, with an Emerald Slash dealing an awkward-at-best 100 damage to Blastoise (a figure not even the mighty Hypnotoxic Laser can save). In a matchup where keeping Squirtles down and ‘Stoises out is paramount, something had to be done to level the playing field. Before they begin using Deluge, it all starts with the Squirtles. Generally, failure to KO a Squirtle by turn two or three generally spells a game loss when going against an average Blastoise start, so if possible, I wanted a Pokemon that could deal 60+ damage in the early turns, giving me a chance to stop the Deluge madness before it even began.
Released not long after Mewtwo EX, Tornadus EX was largely overshadowed by the ever popular Darkrai EX, and the plethora of Dark-type support released with. Tornadus EX is the epitome of ‘neutral’ in the format; while the Lightning weakness is not irrelevant, it isn’t going to be hitting anything for weakness either. Tornadus EX has two very straightforward options; either 60 for a Double Colorless Energy with a Stadium online (Blow Through), or a clean 100 damage later on down the road (Power Blast). Sometimes, simple is all you need, and this is one of those cases. The Blow Through attack in particular ends up being the exact angle this deck needed to combat early Squirtles, as Blastoise decks have a heavy reliance on their favorite super-expensive Stadium- Tropical Beach. Worst case scenario, I knew I wanted be running a couple copies of a Stadium of my own to make sure I was getting the most out of the attack. Power Blast is a respectable attack also, but there is usually going to be a better option on board. Of course, for the times where there is not, you could definitely do a lot worse than an easy 100.
So, Tornadus EX had the early-game against Blastoise covered, but I still found myself losing at the hands of their double Squirtle starts, where there sadly isn’t a window for me to KO both in order to keep their Blastoise off the table. The inability to one hit KO a Blastoise that snuck through my early-game aggression was also unacceptable, as one that sticks on board for more than one turn cycle is generally going to spell the end of the game. I needed a Pokemon that was able to pull me back in the game after an early Black Ballista by knocking the Deluge ability right off the table in response. This is a tall order, one that makes Blastoise such an effective strategy, but luckily there was a certain Pokemon ready to rise to the challenge.
Shaymin EX has a very special niche role in this strategy. While it isn’t the end of the world if you start with it, you generally aren’t going to want it to to hit the bench against any strategy other than Blastoise; Shaymin EX’s damage output simply does not justify the low HP it has and the easy one hit KO + two prizes it represents to the opposition. Of course, against Blastoise, a deck that does business in the form of one hit KO’ing everything anyways, the 110HP is virtually irrelevant (save an awkward Keldeo EX start on their part), so it passes. Synthesis actually does a fair Emerald Slash impression when it needs to, giving the deck a fifth Energy acceleration attack in the early-game, but it is Revenge Seed that I was really after; an early Revenge Seed will take out a Squirtle before their first prize is even taken. Even better though, is Revenge Seeds ability to deal a massive 180 to a Catcher’ed up Blastoise in response to the opponent KO’ing an EX. As I stated before, having a means of keeping Blastoise off the table is exactly what this deck needs to mount a comeback, and goes a long way to shoring up the matchup.
With a fair amount of coverage versus ‘The Blue Turtle and Company’, I began looking into other Grass/Colorless Pokemon that would be valuable assets to the team. I used Bouffalant DRX in my draft Virizion/Genesect decks, and it actually did a lot of work, particularly against the likes of Darkrai, where it actually comes out favored in the prize exchange (with Verdant Wind rendering Hypnotoxic Laser useless, Darkrai EX can only two hit KO Bouffalant DRX, and spending two turns to net one prize card is a losing proposition for them). Against both Darkrai and Virizion/Genesect, one of the most powerful openings I felt this deck could have is a turn two Emerald Slash (50, attaching onto Bouffalant DRX) into a turn three Gold Breaker (120). That’s a clean 170. With a lone Laser, a clean 180, and I don’t think I need to tell you why those numbers are good numbers. Save the fact that you now have five Energy and two fully-charged attackers on board (one of which is a ‘seventh-prize’), the home team is now insanely ahead. Of course, simply having a non-EX attacker gives us coverage vs the likes of Klinklang and Suicune, which are bound to see some play throughout the season. If those anti-EX strategies become overly popular, it may be worth adding a second Bouffalant DRX to the mix, but for the time being, I felt one was where I wanted to be.
Last, but certainly not least, was the Plasma matchup. Hindsight is 20/20, and I really should have tested this matchup out before moving to the other matchups; generally, when brewing up a rogue strategy, it is important to see that the strategy has game against the best deck in the format first, so as to avoid wasting time in the event that it is not. After all, I don’t want to be playing a deck that has an unfavorable matchup against the strongest deck, regardless of how strong the other matchups are! Fortunately, the Plasma matchup actually turned out alright; the numbers are clean, and generally you can outlast them if you play your cards right, thanks to Emerald Slash. The biggest problem I found was the need to stymie Team Plasma’s early aggression; getting my Virizion EX turn two Blizzard Burn KO’d was a blitzing play that is obviously hard to recover from. Fortunately, Virizion EX has built in resistance (literally, -20 Water Resistance) to this game plan, and in order for Kyurem to one hit KO an undamaged Virizion EX, they will need Silver Bangle, as well as a whopping four Deoxys EX on the bench. Most players aren’t even running four Deoxys EX in their lists anymore, and even with the ones that are, it is hard to imagine the opposition getting all four on the table that early on a consistent basis (not even taking into account Prize issues). With this said, it is safe to assume that a clean Virizion EX isn’t going to get one hit KO’d in this matchup, which is very important for maintaining even footing with Plasma’s menacing starts.
However, this is not taking into account the turn before Blizzard Burn, where an early Frost Spear will do its best at setting the forthcoming Virizion EX up for failure. I truly believed that this matchup would be determined in the first two turns of the game, and I wanted to make sure that the Virizion EX that attacks on turn two did so without a single damage counter on it. Mr. Mime is a Pokemon that generally benefits Stage 1 and Stage 2 decks the most, as the low HP of their Basics often means early snipes can run them over before they have ample time to set up, but I knew this deck can benefit from the Bench Shield ability also; interfering with my opponent’s math is something I am always interested in! It is likely I would want some Potion effects also, but a lone Mr. Mime goes a long way versus Frost Spear, Hammerhead and Night Spear alike, potentially preventing an upwards of 180+ damage throughout the course of a game- too much not to warrant inclusion in this Kyurem-infested metagame.
With all things considered, I finally had the toolbox assembled. Now I just needed to throw some Trainers and Energy into the mix, and it was a done deal. Here you go:
4 Virizion EX
2 Mewtwo EX
1 Tornadus EX
1 Shaymin EX
1 Bouffalant DRX
1 Mr. Mime
4 Professor Juniper
1 Scramble Switch
2 Virbank City Gym
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Pokemon Catcher
4 Float Stone
4 Ultra Ball
1 Max Potion
1 Energy Search
9 Grass Energy
4 Double Colorless Energy
As with the last rogue list I posted, I am very happy with this deck, and would highly recommend playing it at your next competitive event. If you’ve got any questions or comments, be sure to drop me a message in the chat and I’ll get back at you!
4 Virizion EX: The core of the strategy and the engine that keeps the deck running smoothly. Its Ability renders Hypnotoxic Laser useless and allows you strategize knowing your attacking Pokemon are invulnerable to any Special Conditions. Emerald Slash, while also being insane acceleration, puts a respectable 50 damage on the Defending Pokemon, setting it up for a KO from one of our sweepers the turn following. Water resistance is especially useful in a Kyurem-centered metagame.
2 Mewtwo EX: The primary sweeper of the deck. X Ball lacking a damage cap means you can do as much damage as the amount of Grass Energy Virizion EX can accel-attach, not accounting for Energy on the Defending Pokemon also. Also capable of hitting on turn one with a Double Colorless Energy in the matchups where that is especially important.
1 Tornadus EX: The secondary sweeper of the deck, often functioning as the third copy of Mewtwo EX, exchanging an uncapped damage output mid-to-late game with a higher damage output in the early game. Especially important to KO Squirtles and Klinks (among other Basics in Stage 1 / Stage 2 decks) to disrupt their game plans before they set up.
1 Bouffalant DRX: Serves as a ‘seventh prize’ attacker, as well as being a resilient threat against the Darkrai and Virizion/Genesect strategies. The damage from Gold Breaker often amounts to a KO provided the Defending Pokemon was hit with an Emerald Slash the turn prior.
4 Professor Juniper: Being a deck containing a 100% Basic Pokemon lineup, it is exceptionally good at emptying its resources onto the board in an efficient manner, lending to this Supporters effectiveness.
4 N: Simply a format staple. Allows insane comebacks to be made in games which you fall behind at the gates.
3 Skyla: Versatile and powerful. Allows easy access to Pokemon, extra damage, board disruption, damage removal, free retreat, even Energy (via Energy Search). Also helps us see our ACE SPEC, Scramble Switch, on the turns where it can singlehandedly put the game away.
2 Bianca: Gets the nod over Colress due to its merits in the early game. Much like Virizion/Genesect, it is not uncommon for this deck to operate with a low bench count, and doing so is ideal because it makes opposing Colress worse.
1 Scramble Switch: The only form of Energy manipulation available to non-Japanese players currently, and fortunately the most powerful. At the cost of your ACE SPEC slot, it allows you to set up plays (X Balls, specifically) that can lock up the game on pivotal turns.
2 Virbank City Gym: Our Stadium of choice. With Hypnotoxic Laser, it allows us to hit several magic numbers that swing games in your favor.
4 Hypnotoxic Laser: The other half of the LaserBank combination. In tandem with the Gym (and even without it in many cases), it can set up KO’s that are otherwise unattainable. Free wins gotten off of sleep flips are also worth noting.
4 Pokemon Catcher: Format staple. Hard to imagine a reason not to play four provided there is the room.
4 Float Stone: Allows us to consistently retreat into the right Pokemon at any given moment. Verdant Wind shutting off Sleep and Paralysis means Float Stone is strictly better than Switch (provided you have the Grass Energy).
3 Potion: Dismantles opposing damage math, allowing you to get more attacks in. Works in tandem with Mr. Mime as the decks primary defensive measures.
1 Max Potion: The fourth copy of Potion, which is especially brutal when used in conjunction with Scramble Switch.
1 Energy Search: Essentially our tenth Grass Energy, but is searchable via Skyla for the draws in which we find ourselves without Energy.
…should be self-explanatory!
Vs. TDK: As stated earlier, this matchup will generally be determined based on how the first three turns of the game play out. If you care able to avoid a turn two Blizzard Burn and get set up properly, you should be able to outlast all but their most ridiculous of draws. Bear in mind you can choose to only get one Grass Energy with Emerald Slash, which is important when considering how much Energy you want to commit to a benched Mewtwo EX (by attaching a lone Grass Energy to Mewtwo EX, it forces them to make the first move if they want to attack with Deoxys EX, allowing you to counterattack for the KO. Tornadus EX is the sweeper of choice for the early-to-mid game, while Mewtwo EX is safer when they have used up their Colress Machine engine, allowing you to be a turn ahead of Deoxys EX. This matchup is likely as 50/50 as it gets, and to have those odds against the deck to beat is certainly a draw towards playing this strategy.
Vs. TrainerLock: You are heavily favored in this matchup, partially due to the fact that your engine flows through an attack (Emerald Slash) and not a Trainer (think Dark Patch or Colress Machine). Most of their draws do not allow them to maintain parity with turn-by-turn Emerald Slashing, and a single turn where they fail to Deafen or Disconnect is often enough for you to steal the game. Not a lot of play to this matchup.
Vs. Blastoise: One of your more difficult matchups, but far from unwinnable. As I mentioned earlier, the only way to win is to target Squirtles with Tornadus EX and hope a Blastoise doesn’t slip through the cracks. In the event that it does, you will generally have a one turn window to take it out with Shaymin EX before you fall too far behind. If you try to interact with Keldeo EX and Black Kyurem EX before you’ve dealt with Blastoise and its pre-evolutions, you will likely just be outclassed by the massive damage output and lose. Play smart, hope your key cards aren’t prized, and you have a fighting chance.
Vs. Darkrai: The matchup is slightly more difficult if they have Garbodor, but not by a significant margin. If you see a Trubbish early, be sure to Emerald Slash attach onto Tornadus EX as opposed to Mewtwo EX, as Blow Through can deal with Garbodor in one hit. Without access to their Lasers, the damage math is heavily in your favor, and you should be able to stay ahead provided you don’t randomly draw dead. Mid-to-late game, you will want to promote Bouffalant DRX as both a seventh-prize and a respectable sweeper that Darkrai dislikes having to deal with.
Vs. Virizion/Genesect: These two decks are fundamentally similar, so it plays out very similarly to a mirror match. You are faster than they are and also have access to Mr. Mime to mitigate the snipe damage from Megalo Cannon, which makes their math much more awkward; without snipe damage, Emerald Slash (50) + Megalo Cannon (100) falls that crucial 20 damage short, forcing them to lean on their G-Booster to grab efficient KOs. Ideally you want to put them on the back foot far before they can establish G-Booster, as your percentage points drop significantly for every turn it stays in play. You can choose to run a lone Tool Scrapper in your list to remedy this if it suits you.
***BONUS! Tier 2 Matchup Analysis***
Vs. Haxorus: A very favorable matchup. Haxorus hinges on the fact that the majority of the non-Plasma decks in this format are greatly affected by Garbodor. We are not. Had we been playing traditional Virizion/Genesect, it would be a lot closer to an even matchup, allowing them to target Genesect EXs for easy KOs, but save drawing dead, it is hard to imagine falling behind in this matchup.
Vs. Klinklang: Since we have a single non-EX attacker in our roster, this is unsurprisingly a somewhat difficult matchup. Similarly to Blastoise, we need to target their Basic evolutions from turn one with Tornadus EX (ideally, Mewtwo can work also in a pinch), as the game heavily sways in their favor once they properly set up. If such a strategy proves to be futile, you will need to lean solely on your lone Bouffalant DRX to carry the day. Thanks to the Bouffer ability, Cobalion EX’s Righteous Edge attack does a mere 10 damage to us, where we deal a solid 120 back to them. However, Steel Bullet doesn’t care about Bouffer, and will take out our Bouffalant in one fell swoop if we allow it, so it is of the utmost importance that you keep them off of that attack.
Vs. Turbo Flareon: This is likely the only matchup in the entire format where you wish to sidestep Virizion EX entirely; the weakness to Fire makes it far too easy for them to one hit KO you before you have time to attack. Instead, focus on setting up X Ball attacks capable of delivering the one hit KOs on Flareon. Despite only netting three prizes, the deck is a glass cannon, and generally rolls over once the third Flareon goes down, but surviving them is not easy. They possess a draw that is unbeatable, but anything past that is fair game.
Vs. Tool Drop: This is one of the few matchups where Virizion EX can actually trade blows respectably with the opposition’s main attacker, due to Trubbish having a paltry 70HP. That said, you likely want to keep Mewtwo EX off the table for this one, as the weakness to Psychic makes it far too easy for them to set up easy KOs. This is also one of the few matchups where I wish I had found the room for a Tool Scrapper or two main, as shutting off their Exp. Share one pivotal turn generally puts you way ahead. Even without the means of disrupting their game plan, they operate much like a Stage 1 / Stage 2 deck in the sense that they rely on their 70HP basic living through turn one in order to get in the game. If you can target their Trubbish before they combo off, it is smooth sailing. Failure to do so, and you’re in for a wild ride.
Vs. RayBoar: Unsurprisingly, this matchup will play out similarly to the Blastoise matchup, only slightly more difficult. For starters, they could potentially have Moltres as a seventh-prize attacker against you, which can be especially problematic if you are leaning on your Virizion EXs late in the game. Tepig lacks the Shell Shield ability Squirtle has (which our deck didn’t care about), but in exchange gains an extra 10HP (which our deck definitely does care about). This means we can no longer lean on Blow Through attacks for early KOs like we can in the Blastoise matchup, making it far more likely they establish Emboar before you can take out the Tepigs. To further complicate things, should they get Inferno Fandango online, Shaymin EX actually does nothing for you without a weakness to hit for, so the match will get very difficult. There is some upside, however; Rayquaza EX, while being just as dangerous as its Dragon-type brethren Black Kyurem EX, has a mere 170HP, which in comparison actually makes interacting with it far less of a pipe-dream. That said, it is still not what you want to be doing, but you are far more likely in this matchup to have to resort to doing so.
It was actually not my original intention to share this list with all of you! I plan on attending Regionals in Texas next month, and wanted to keep things fairly off-the-radar in the event I wanted to pilot this. That said, the recent change to a 500CP threshold has changed the way many competitive-minded players such as myself have to approach the game; it is no longer a realistic goal to make it to Worlds, sadly (save an incredible stroke of run-goods). I will still be playing competitively, but on a more casual basis, if that makes any sense. Honestly, I am excited I got to share this. I believe in this deck a lot, and I truly think it is more than capable of taking down a Regionals in the hands of the right pilot. If you agree, spread word of this article and this archetype! Lets get it out to as many capable players as possible!
As usual, thanks for reading everyone. I’ll be back next week with a topic I have not yet decided!
Talk to me in the chat below. :) Until next time!
-TylerCategory: Deck Discussion | Tags: Mewtwo EX, Tornadus EX, Virizion EX