Last month I went into this thing on a bad decision. I decided, the night of the event, to disregard months upon months of testing, by switching to a deck I had no experience piloting, had no testing done whatsoever, all because of an offhand comment made by a friend and a raging caffeine high which greatly impaired any reasonable choices that I could have gone into the day with.
I could have taken Mewtwo, Gardevoir, Volcanion, any of the big decks really. I could have even taken Ho-oh/Volcarona in with me and done fairly reasonably on the day.
But nope, instead I ended up taking Ho-oh/Vileplume in with me.
Things did not go so well.
So for the next week, we are going to arduously test 3 decks in preparation for the event come Saturday.
These decks we will be looking at are Pidgeot EX, Machamp EX and Gyarados. Yeah, the one I said was bad.
BIRD IS 「ZA WORLDO」
35% Chance I’ll Play It
First off, lets talk about our feathered friend Pidgeot, and why it could potentially be really good.
The main selling point is Mirror Move. For just one Energy, you can copy the damage done to Pidgeot last turn without needing to charge up too much, which is pretty good in this meta where most of the things that can one-shot you require you to stack energy on yourself.
The rest of the meta however, consists of things like Scizor or Gardevoir, which focus more on 2-shotting the opposition, ignoring of course application of weakness and the like.
Now of course Pidgeot is not hitting anyone for weakness, being that it is colourless and all. So in return you’re looking at 2 shotting right back, but the great thing about that is where as Scizor’s Iron Crusher and Gardevoir’s Despair Ray both cost 2 energy, Mirror Move is a single colorless attachment. Making it ripe for Max Potion Shenanigans and Easy retreats into fresh Birds ready to Feather Lance or, if you have a Mega-Bird benched, cinch the knockout or disrupt your opponents field if its going for a fresh target.
More on that, if you decide to run Shrine of Memories, you then have a 220HP beast that can still abuse the hell out of Mirror Move and Max Potion laughs.
The biggest opposition Pidgeot is going to face is perhaps Mewtwo, Decks thanking you for the Shrine of Memories and Damage Changing you for days, being that Damage Change doesn’t do Damage, merely moving existing damage onto you, which Bird cannot use to proc Mirror Move. Meaning you have to charge up energy, meaning you leave yourself open to being just straight blitzed out of the game by Psychic Infinity from the Mega Mewtwo Y.
Also, if someone has a cheeky Zebstrika teched into their deck, for the mad Rayquazza outplays, you will end up getting skunked hard by that if you’re relying on Mirror Move to do all your damage, seeing as the Zebra one shots you 100% of the time, all the time.
20% Chance I’ll Play It
Now, in fairness, this one is a bit of a toss up. At last months LC, there were a lot of Gardevoirs. The winner on the day was running Gardevoir, 4 out of 6 of my opponents were running Gardevoir decks. There was a LOT of Despair on the day, but if I end up playing 4 arms on the day, its that overpopulation of Gardes that I’ll be banking on. Because with as many Gadevoir Decks running around last month as there were, hopefully coming into next week, we will see an absolute over abundance of Scizor-EX, which will clear the way for Machamp.
Again, we’re looking at a deck that gets absolutely cackled by Mewtwo, but unlike Pidgeot, it doesn’t really have a way around it. The main attack you want to be using, Crazy Hammer (Bolstered on by Ariados) for 160 damage is stupid. With a single Strong Energy you’re dealing 180, 190 with the poison into their turn. Add in a Faded Town and you are one shotting anything with 210 hp.
Throw a Fighting Fury Belt onto that and suddenly you’re dealing 220 damage, which they then need to match to knock you out.
But Machamp’s success again comes down to how few and far between those Garadevoir and Mewtwos are in your neighbourhood, which in mine, is a lot of Fairies, not so many Kitties though.
So if I do end up running this, it’s on the idea that last month’s League Challenge will be increasing the amount of Scizors in play while reducing the amount of Gardevoirs. Leaving less room for me to get stomped by that pesky little weakness of ours.
Of course its a massive gamble. With Gardevoir its a matter of throwing up something to die while charging up Machamp in the back to one shot, while running some sort of disruption engine to keep them unable to regain traction.
With Mewtwo its just a case of praying they have a really, really poor start. Either that or they’re playing Mewtwo X. We can work around that.
I mean, to a degree. 230hp is tanky enough to get around your numbers, and 400 damage on the weakness is going to kill everything. So chances are you will probably end up trading 4 prizes for 2 if they can manage to get a single Mewtwo set up, its time to just accept that X gon give it to ya, and move on.
「FILTHY ACTS AT A REASONABLE PRICE」
35% Chance I’ll Play It
About a year ago now, I wrote a lot of words about how this card was actually pretty bad. I would like to take a moment of your time to say I was not wrong, at least, not at the time.
When Gyarados first came out, it was into a meta where Nightmarch was running rampant. A deck that could deal 200+ damage without even breaking a sweat on their first turn was actually terrifying, and even if Gyarados has even Prize trades, its still slower than Nightmarch, and has a weakness to one of the Deck’s main attackers, Joltik.
Gyarados was bad in the time I wrote about it, but in the last few months, we have seen this deck succeed over and over again. Even if its easily countered by things like Spinda, that is a really specific tech to be playing, and you’re only playing it if you know that the match up will exist within your meta in a big way, which also requires you to stream Hex Maniac past the almost certain Mr. Mime in play on the Gyarados’ side.
So how does Gyarados succeed now, when it failed so hard in the past? It got it’s own little Secret Base.
Of course it does have to share it with Team Magma, but this card feels strictly like it was custom made just for our precious little Sea Serpent.
Trying to find a work around to get damage on to your magikarps in the past was… awkward. Really fucking awkward.
But with Team Magma’s Secret Base, the simple act of putting down your fish will damage it automatically. This is why Spinda works as such a good anti-fish tech, as every Magikarp in format only has 30hp, a single energy drop, 10 damage spread is pretty damn powerful.
But as I said earlier, that is a really specific tech to find room for, unless you expect more than one or two lists to make a showing on game day.
Gyarados hits all its problems the moment you fail to set up your board by the time you want to start swinging. If you can’t get 3 Magikarps out under the influence of your base, hell if you even only get 2, you lose a whopping 60 damage, meaning that beautiful looking 210 damage with a full bench, falls all the way down to 150, which is not all that much damage in the long run, and although prize trades are favourable, you don’t particularly want to be 2-shotting things with Gyarados, since its all about speed and power over attrition tactics.
Your hardest match ups would be Giratina and Vileplume. If you can’t outpace the dragon, then it will end up shutting you down by locking down your ability to play down Special Energy, and considering that you don’t exactly have the space in your list for more than the 4 DCE that are standard, so barring a Pokemon Ranger drop, by that point you’re pretty much out of the running unless you managed to drop down enough energy across the board to keep pace with that, you need to just bend over and take your punishment.
The other road block, and this is probably your hardest match up, is any variation of Vileplume.
Considering most of your consistency relies heavily on your 50% item count, Vileplumes ability to Item Lock hurts you powerfully if you start losing your Serpents. No Super Rod, no Buddy-Buddy Rescue, no Puzzle of Time and no Special Charge to grab back your DCE’s from the discard.
Your best bet in this match up is to run down their main attackers, kill a Mew or a Magearna or something else EX as quickly as you can, Lysandre around their Glaceon and although the match will be one of your hardest, you should be able to take the win so long as you play as tightly as possible.
POTENTIAL COMFORT PICKS:
10% Chance I’ll Play It
So, much like Gyarados I wrote a lot of words about how Ho-oh isn’t nearly competitive to make it in this format. Unlike Gyarados I have spent a lot of time running Ho-oh, learning the minutia of every single card inside and out.
If I find myself stumbling to make a decision on the 3 decks above, I will probably come back to the well of Ekrutek, for the cold comfort of experience over risk.
There’s also something to be said for the potential surprise factor carrying us through the day, but we don’t want to particularly want to rely on it. If you want to read about the ins and our Fiery, Feathered Friend, you can find my article here.
Oh also, no Vileplume. That was a terrible idea and it is not going to happen again.
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