LEAGUE CHALLENGE DECEMBER 2016: 2/2「ZA WORLDO」Is All Tied Up

LEAGUE CHALLENGE DECEMBER 2016: 2/2「ZA WORLDO」Is All Tied Up

fefcc373f7670f8fb4f40184c36d93d3.pngThis Saturday just passed, Queensland played host to it’s second League Challenge of the season, the one I was up in the air about what deck I was going to play on the day.

I ended up settling on Pidgeot-EX over both Machamp and Gyarados. Machamp not testing favourably and Gyarados abandoned because people are aware that Spinda exists, and the surprise factor that made it so strong has been dulled slightly.

So Bird-Jesus it was, but not actually the Pidgeot deck I talked about, but instead a version that dropped the Mega entirely, instead choosing to run a list based purely on the base version of the bird.

I enjoyed the deck, it played well and I stood up to more than a few meta decks nicely.

The biggest downside I found to the deck was that it didn’t really have anything in the way of decisiveness, it is a slow, methodical drive, and in a best of 3 across 50 minutes, that is probably what hurt the deck the most.

THE DECK: Who, How, What and Why

Pokemon Trainers Energy
Pidgeot EX x3
EVO 104/108
Blitzle x2
BKPT 48/122
Zebstrika x1
BKPT 49/122
Trubbish x2
BKPT 56/122
Garbodor x2
BKPT 57/122
Hoopa EX x1
AO 89/98
Shaymin EX x2
RSK 106/108

Total Count: 13

Lysandre x2
N x4
Olympia x1
Pokemon Ranger x1
Professor Sycamore x4Paralell City x3Fighting Fury Belt x4
Float Stone x3Max Potion x4
Trainer’s Mail x4
Ultra Ball x4
Vs. Seeker x4Total Count: 38
Double Colorless Energy x4
Basic Lightning Energy x5Total Count:9

By foregoing the Mega-Pidgeot, we drop the 4-3 count to just a 3, while also losing the Spirit Links, a 2 count in the Mega-Bird list, freeing us up 6 slots to add in additional cards to tighten consistency and focus.

Preferably the Zebstrika line is a Jolteon-Ex, but I own zero copies of the card and was unable to source 3 before game start, so they were switched out to the Lightning Zebra, which isn’t awful, it helped me drag a match that would have been an auto-loss to a tie and helped me run rampant in another before that, but ultimately Jolteon probably would have been the much better choice.

The Garbodor is there to help you try to rush past a Vileplume rush, locking down abilities instead, so that you can hold on to all of those sweet, delicious items you play, so that you can keep shenanigans live. Both the Shaymin and Hoopa are fairly self explanatory, helping with your consistency.

We drop the Shrine of memories because we no longer have the Mega Pidgeot as well as axing the Assault Vests, upping our Float Stones from 2 to 3 and throwing in 4 Fighting Fury Belts to set the mood.

The standard items are essentially the same, and we drop what was once steel energy for lightning instead as we’ve lost Magearna and Zebstrika should be our only other attacker. In fairness I could have changed the energy to something like Fairy, as Zebstrika uses 2 Colourless energy for its attack, and found room for a Fairy garden, but the Zebstrika wasn’t a thing until a few hours before kick-off and I hadn’t twigged to the idea at that point.

The general idea is that you don’t actually hard focus Mirror Move, but instead get Feather Lance geared up for the 80 (90 with a Fury Belt) and 20 to Bench, only falling back to Mirror Move if the damage dealt is going to FAR exceed Feather Lance, or if you’ve just Max Potioned and are sitting on only a single attachment, bringing out Zebstrika for Mirror Matches, Yvetal-Ex Toolbox and Emerarld Break Rayquazza.

ROUND ONE: Vs. Vileplume Toolbox: Loss

_045_vileplume_by_kuitsuku-d9gy64a.pngStraight away, I got thrown into a match up I wanted no part in. Pidgeot is heavy on items for it’s consitancy and it’s shenanigans. Plus Jolteon-EX is a thing, the lightning pupper quickly cleaning house for Game One, praying on weakness and a really bad start on my part, I didn’t even see the Vileplume this game.

Game two is a slugfest. I pull out the Garbodor before I have to see a single Oddish, and I turn it into a feather lancing slugfest, trading prize for prize. My opponent moves us to game 3 by scooping to save time.

Game 3 is a slaughter, the Vileplume gets dropped turn 1, for the first time in 3 games and in running no Hex Manics, I’m relying on hitting the Lysandre so that I can do some gardening.

I don’t hit it and before long, the game is lost and the healthy hatred of Vileplume festers ever hotter in my heart.

ROUND TWO: N-Sync (Bye-Bye-Bye): Technically a Win

nsync2002After Vileplume, it’s all uphill from here, but the start of the hill has my sitting on my hands for 50 minutes.

Thrown into the bye, I have nothing else to do but to sit and wait for the round to end. Bonus being that I got to go to lunch early. That was nice.

ROUND THREE: Vs. Yveltal-EX: Tied

Bacon Bird.png

Oh man, this round, this round was some straight fun times, if only because of my opponent. Bant-City baby, Bant-City, hard.

With the big turn out of this deck in the wake of the London International Top 32, it was going to be impossible that I wasn’t going to run into at least the one, and come round 3, fresh off of lunch and my “Win” this is where I ran into it.

Game one saw my opponent attempt to get a Bad-Bird big enough to swing 210 every turn, unfortunately for him I dashed his hopes and dreams by getting out a very early, very clutch, Zebstrika, clipping wings the entire game.

Game 2 was close, really fucking close. But it’s also some of the most fun I have had playing this game. Some well placed Lysandres and a late Zebstrika saw hope bloom bright, but come the end of the game, after not hitting the Lysandre I needed to, with two prizes left, I lost the game.

Game 3 began as suddenly as it finished, time being called 2 minutes into it. With the bubble of tension from game 2 burst, we ended on a tie and stupid smiles on both of our faces.

ROUND FOUR: Vs. Gardevoir (Despair Ray): Tied

shiny_mega_gardevoirWhy was this here? No fairies were expected to show up on the day, considering how hard the Gardevoir turn out was last month, the expectation was a hard showing of scizors. Of course all that was dashed by the resurgence of Yveltal over in London.

But whatever, it was here, and while I took Game One, Parallel City and Garbodor putting in work, Game 2 saw me summarily dismantled with barely any effort on my opponents side. Sky fielding and renewing discarded mons from the discard with little to no effort, before straight wrecking my day with yet another Rattata discard of an FFB into a full 170 blast from the Despair Ray.

Time was called during game 3, but it wasn’t going my way at all. Given another turn or 2, this was very much looking like a solid loss.

ROUND  FIVE: Vs. Rayquazza: TiedMega_rayquaza.png

This is a match up I really wanted, mostly because with the Zebstrika in there I was expecting to do really favourably into it, and game one, with a constant Parallel City lock and a very early Zebstrika I took game 1 with very little fuss and no muss.

However, in game 2, the single count of Zebstrika came back to bite me, as it got taken out, and with no way to grab it back or a second one to drop, Mr. Ray-“Oh look at me I can Mega Evolve Turn 1”-Quazza outpaced and eventually, took the game from me.

Much like the Yveltal Match-Up from round 3, time was called very early into game 3 here, ending the round on a draw and the day on a bittersweet note, which is great, because at this point I am exhausted.

END OF THE DAY: Hindsight is a Funny Thing

1082575
For the Best Plays

So what did we learn?

Well for starters, Hex Maniac is needed, as Vileplume can wreck your day without even trying. If you can drop that, you can do your Ultra Balling and deck thinning going in order to get that Float Stoned Garbodor out fast.

Also 1 or 2 Super Rods wouldn’t go amiss with the low count of Basic Energy and as a way to keep Zebstrika circulating in the match-ups where it’s needed. On that note, it’s also possible to run a Buddy-Buddy Rescue, if you have a second Blitzle Benched and waiting.

Speaking of Lightning, if we’re committing to the Zebra line, the best bet is to either up 1090234the count to a solid 2-2 or down it to a 1-1 and throw in 2 Jolteon-EX on top of it, to keep up the consistancy and to add an alternate attack strategy for the opponent to play around.

Otherwise I’m really  happy with how the deck runs and with how I did on the day.

Even with just a whole heap of ties to my name, I feel like I preformed really well into some of the most BS meta-decks in the format, and I learned a lot of what I might need to do to tweak and tune the deck even further for the future.

I also did much better than my 1w/5l showing last month on Ho-oh/Vileplume. That’s a very important thing to keep in mind.

-/-

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ALL OTHER IMAGES SOURCED FROM GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH. IF YOU SEE AN IMAGE YOU OWN, SHOOT ME A MESSAGE SO THAT I MAY CREDIT OR CHANGE IF YOU DO NOT WISH FOR IT’S USE.

-/-

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League Challenge December 2016 1/2: Potential Poke’Picks

League Challenge December 2016 1/2: Potential Poke’Picks

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.

Shut up.

THE CANDIDATES


018-megaBIRD 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.

1105185Now 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.

machamp_pokken_tournament「STAND PROUD」
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 1076061attack 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.


gyarados
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.

1076031Your 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.

ho_oh__the_sacred_bird_by_reika_world-d524x00POTENTIAL COMFORT PICKS:
「MAGICIAN’S RED
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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Ho-oh Ex: It Exists

Ho-oh Ex: It Exists

Full disclosure, I have been messing around with Ho-oh EX for close to 2 months now. Testing it against heavy hitters such as Mega Mewtwo Y, Darkrai, Gardevoir, Flareon and Rayquaza.

I have walked away from the experience, having learned the following; Ho-oh EX is ALMOST playable.

And for me, that conclusion is worse than the idea of Ho-oh EX being just a flat out bad card. Because I really wanted this to work, I love Ho-oh, I love the art design and I really love the IDEA of the card’s mechanics. Especially as unique to Ho-oh, which in the TCG, has regularly required multiple energy types to work at full efficiency.

Better Typing, Better Ability, Better Attack and Much Better Art. Why Do Bad Things Happen to Awesome Pokemon?

In the last two months this is the deck I have played, tweaked, tested and slaved over the most.

I’ve put together other decks in that time frame, but besides the World Championship Audino Deck, I have disassembled every single one of them as soon as a reason was found.

Ampharos can not deal with the meta? Idea discarded.

Friend’s Haxorus list proving to clunky? Send it away.

Maybe try building a meta deck? Too boring, so very, very boring.

But Ho-oh fails? We will find a way to fix it. Introduce this tech, attempt running this partner to the deck. Maybe choose an alternate attacker, one that can make use of the esoteric energy spread as well as, or better than the Rainbow Bird! What an idea!

Spoiler warning, it did not work out well. Just in case you were getting your hopes up or something.

Part One: This Bird is on Fire

Why does Mew-EX get a reprint but all Ho-oh gets is Bad Times?

So, lets talk about the card itself. In a format just recently broken free of the scourge that is Night March (FUCK YOU BUGGO!) slower decks, that require more than a single turn to set up and win have been able to move to the forefront.

Mewtwo and Rayquazza, two of the most powerful decks of the current format, were almost unplayable in the face of Night March, unable to charge up and attack before Pumpkaboo or Joltik dropped down from on high to topple the titans.

So with that… fun deck dead and buried post worlds rotation, this also got people thinking on other attackers, who else could rise up in a post Night March world?

My pick for it, was Ho-oh EX from BREAK-Point, and that was not the best bet in the world. But that being said, it does have some things going for it.

As it’s main attacker doesn’t evolve, Ho-oh can utilise Fighting Fury Belt, bringing it up to a hefty 220HP, with your main damage evening out at 140, which is hardly small.

Ho-oh also snipes a single bench sitter for 30, every single time you swing. Making use of effective Lysandre plays, you can hit 2 different Pokemon for 160 (170 with the Belt) across 2 turns.

The 30 to the bench also means that Ho-oh can make use of Absol from Roaring Skies, potentially being able to cinch a Knockout before you even swing your attack for the turn, although securing that with Ho-oh, is more than a bit iffy.

Purifying Flame is an easy heal. With a basic Fire Energy Attached to you, once per-turn, you can heal an easy 50hp from the bird.

The Prettiest Card in the Set and it’s Actually Pretty Bad. I am seeing a Trend here.

Also, if I am taking anything even remotely positive away from testing Ho-oh as hard as I have, it is that Ho-oh’s Ability, Purifying Flame, is the one true counter to Alakazam-EX.

Consistently healing off the initial minor damage that ‘zam manages to inflict on you, for nothing more than a single Basic Energy attachment.

So rejoice, Card Players of all shapes and sizes, if your local player base run a heavy amount of Alakazam decks, Ho-oh is the one true counter to the Spoons of Doom. The only card, you will ever need.

But if your local Meta is not stupid, and good at card games, then, Ho-oh is still not the card for you, or me.

~Quack

Part II: Partners in Crime

The very first iteration of the deck centered around utilising Golduck BREAK, constantly moving energy around to pull off Max Potion shenanigans. The deck moved slowly, with the only Energy Acceleration being Max Elixir’s (A 4 count, as staple in Ho-oh), getting Golduck BREAK out wasn’t an issue, but getting out the needed Energy and then the Golduck on top of that and keeping it alive to enable Max Potion shenanigans was… Not easy.

The 2-2-2 line was too inconsistent, not hitting early Psyducks early enough. The 3-2-2 line required dumping too many resources into getting out the Duck while ignoring Big Bird and the 3-3-3 line just took up way to much space, slowing the deck to a crawl.

The next attempt was to pair up my Best Bird with Parasect from BREAK-Through. That,

My name is Jeff~

ah. We don’t talk about that one too fondly.

The biggest issue with Parasect comes down to the way Colorful Spores works. At first glance, it’s fantastic. With a Forest of Giant Plants rush, you can have 3 Ho-oh’s Benched beforehand, and then each one gets an Energy attached to. That is pretty cool.

But then you realise that, even if you manage to God Mode this set-up turn 1, you are still left with the problem that unless you can hit a Max Elixir turn 2, your Ho-oh’s still will not be ready to attack. Then, to keep yourself alive into turn 3, Parasect had to tank into turn 2 while still being alive. Which at 100hp, is not easy.

~I keep bringing this up, because it is an essential card, no matter the iteration.

Pair this with the fact that, in keeping the deck consistent enough to hit Parasect Turn 1, you should be running a minimum line of 3 Paras and 3 Parasect. 6 cards, for something you’re only going to use once, maybe twice, is a lot of space that could be given to thicker Supporter lines or additional energy to increase the odds of you hitting your Max Elixir.

The worst part of it though, is that your opponent is given plenty of chance to dance around you with Lysandre, prize sniping whatever Ho-oh you start manually attaching to, meaning that this way you get no chance to start swinging your feathers around.

There was a list I had that smashed Ducks and Bugs together… But uh, the less said about that train wreck, the better.

The only constant partner that has stayed with the deck since version 1.0 is Smeargle from BREAK-Through, there to clean up awkward Max Elixirs, when all you hit is a basic Grass when you already have a Ho-oh with a basic Grass attached. With cheap discards on Ultra

Sure isn’t Dark Void, But it is still Pretty Good, anyway.

Ball and Professor Sycamore, you can dump a copy of the energy you need to do things and then just Gift Swap it for the doubled energy.

If you need to stall out for a couple of turns, it can also help with getting a basic Fire onto it, to heal off 50 every turn, dragging potential 2-hit-KO’s into 3, or even 4-hits, if the math is barely there enough.

So then, with that in mind, we come to iteration 4, the version of Ho-oh I am still running and tweaking, which uses neither Golduck BREAK or Parasect.

That said, it is still carrying on a few lessons learned from the first 3 lists, that said though, it was not at all viable until the release of Steam Siege and the announcement of a Grass Type Larvesta.

Part III: Bugaboo

Yeah Buddy!

I can not take full credit for this, the idea being seeded in my head by a friend while I was still trying to brute force Parasect. But since then, I have come to the conclusion that Volcarona, from Ancient Origins is a criminally underappreciated card, and with the release of the Grass Type Larvesta, could easily go on to serve as a competitive tech in any grass decks, needing a cheap and easy charge on turns 1 or 2. Sceptile being the current obvious use. (Although there is something to be said for Trevenant-EX as well. Huh, there’s an idea…)

So, we keep the Forest of Giant Plants rush as a holdover from the good ol’ Parasect Build, rushing out Volcarona and using Solar Birth as soon as possible, grabbing only a single Ho-oh this time, as opposed to 3 with Parasect, but loading up that one with 2 energy, which already means the bird is ready to start attacking come your next turn, with nothing more than a manual attach.

Alternatively, you can drop that energy and then Solar Birth a second time, for another Bird, and manually attaching to it come your next turn. At which point you now have two Birds ready to swing, costing you no more than a stadium drop, a single energy of any kind, and 2 attacks.

To date, Volcarona has been my most consistent partner in Ho-oh, and for good reason. If you can Turn 1 out Ho-oh, chances are you are going to be the first person to start swinging, which is where we come across the biggest issue with Ho-oh-EX as a card.

Mr. BREAK Your Girl

Part IV: The Biggest Downsides

There are two major things bringing Ho-oh down. First off is it’s damage.

130 is not exactly small, and paired together with the 30 damaouge is nice enough to hobble any Stage 2 decks. But that’s the crux of the mater.

It can deal with Stage 2’s, but not any of the more powerful EX decks, and it falls absolutely flat when attempting to tango
with any kind of Mega Deck, but especially M-Mewtwo Y, which can just steam roll over your stacked energy, or use Shrine of Memories to Damage Change your day to ruins.

The second biggest issue is it’s Typing, specifically the awkward weakness to water on a colourless typing, making this an automatic auto-loss to Greninja if you can’t kill the all of the Froakie’s by at least turn 2, then the minute they drop down the Shadow Stitching Greninja (They don’t even need to get the BREAK at this point) you are pretty much done for.

Worse yet, with Ho-oh being Colourless, it hits nothing for weakness to compensate for this, which is just… Not ideal.

Ho-oh’s nearest parallel is M.Audino-EX, who

Its a Bittersweet Symphony

like the bird does single target spread damage. 110 to the Defending and then, on the condition that you have used a Supporter that turn, deals a futher 50 to a Pokemon on your opponent’s Bench. So all up, in a single turn, Audino and Ho-oh put the same amount of damage out onto the board in a single turn. They even share a typing, so then they should do just as well right?

 

Except not, mostly because Audino does not share that awkward Water weakness and it’s Fighting Weakness isn’t a thing that exists in much of anything in the meta’s. Sure there is the odd Garchomp deck and the occasional weirdo rocking Zygarde EX, but neither show up anywhere near as much as Greninja does to wreck Ho-oh.

Not only that, but where Ho-oh requires 3 separate energy of different types to start attacking, Audino is entirely colourless, giving you the ability to make use of Double Colourless Energies to start going much quicker. Which also separates it from the reliance of energy accelerators that Ho-oh is so reliable on, clearing up extra room in your deck.

The damage split is also more favourable on Audino’s side. 50 able to snipe Mew’s and Froakies on the bench, also more ideal for splitting damage between EX’s for simultaneous knock-outs.

Part V: Conclusion and Current List (Ignore the weird Formatting of the Table)

Pokemon Trainers Energy
Ho-oh EX x3 BKP 121/122
Larversta x4 SSG 14/114
Volcarona x3 AO 17/99
Shaymin-EX x1 RS 106/108
Smeargle x1 BKT 123/162
Mew x1 FTC 29/124
Hex Maniac x1
Lysandre x2
N x2
Ninja Boy x1
Pokemon Ranger x1
Professor Sycamore x3
Skyla x1

Forest of Giant Plants x3
Paralell City x1

Fighting Fury Belt x3

Max Elixir x4
Pokedex x1
Super Rod x2
Switch x2
Town Map x1
Trainer’s Mail x2
Ultra Ball x2
Vs. Seeker x1

Rainbow Energy x3
Basic Grass Energy x3
Basic Fire Energy x2
Basic Water Energy x3
Basic Lightning Energy x3

Do not play Ho-oh.

It’s sad but, it just cannot keep pace with the meta at the moment, and everything it does, Audino just does so much better. Audino is also proven already, taking out the big prize at Worlds this year.

You know what, that’s the take away here. Don’t play Ho-oh, just play Audino instead.

Yeah.

Next Post will be a “Not a Card Post.” Expect it October 4th 2016

How Good is Ampharos-EX? A Rebuttal By Ulrich Dansworth

My testing Partner decided to spend the day writing a rebuttal to to my Ampharos article. I decided to post it up with his permission. This by no means negates my own feelings on the card, I still feel it is not worth the effort over something like Manectric, but all the same his Points got me thinking and that, more than anything, is what I want this Blog to really do most of all.

-/- 

Ampharos-EX

Ampharos, the Light Pokemon. It is a fairly well known electric type that made its debut in Generation 2. It was given new light… I mean life in Ancient Origins with Ampharos-EX and its Mega Evolution – M-Ampharos EX.

First let’s discuss – Ampharos EX (as a stand-alone card). It has a fairly standard 170 HP (for an EX) and features a desireable Lightning type (which won’t really matter as you will see). It also features a Fighting Weakness, Steel Resistance and a retreat cost of 2.

Ampharos EX’s first attack is “Thunder Rod” which looks through the top 4 cards of your deck and attach as many [L] energy to this Pokemon. As a fond user of Trainer Mail, I can say that hitting an energy is fairly difficult in decks that run high Trainer count. As such, to make maximum use of the attack – the goal should be to run a lower Trainer Count and a slightly Higher Energy count. This can be a fairly challenging task, but I do believe is something Ampharos EX can take advantage of.

Ampharos EX’s second attack is Sparkling Tail which deals 100 damage and isn’t affected by Weakness, Resistance or any other effects on your opponent’s Pokemon. Unfortunately, the energy cost of this attack is fairly significant and really questions if this attack is good at all. There aren’t really enough effects on your opponent’s Pokemon to warrant Sparkling Tail as a good attack. And the ignore on Weakness is also a regrettable thing as it makes Ampharos’ favorable Lightning typing useless.

With that, we have an EX with a “possible” energy acceleration, a fairly… weak attack and a “not-so-good” Fighting Weakness. There is however… hope for this Pokemon… And that comes in the form of M-Ampharos EX.

M-Ampharos EX

M Ampharos-EXI am… a big fan of Pokemon cards that can guarantee a paralysis on the opponent’s
Active. So when I saw M-Ampharos, I thought people would’ve been finding (or have found) ways to abuse this – similar to the Vanniluxe/Victini Combination.

In either case – M-Ampharos wields a tanky 220 HP and continues the tradition of a Fighting Weakness and a Steel Resistance. It, however, comes at a heavier 3 Retreat Cost.

Where M-Ampharos shines is Exavolt which for [L][L][C][C] deals 120 damage base with a possible 170 damage and guaranteed paralysis if you choose so. If you do – Ampharos will be dealt 30 damage.

Paralysis is one of the most devastating status conditions in the game. It is (in itself) a form of “Lock” where the opponent can’t attack or retreat. They can, however, use cards like Switch or Escape Rope to circumvent this.

So… IF there was a way to stop them from using those items, Ampharos would be in a fairly decent spot… You either knock-out your opponent or you paralyze them. And not only can they not play Switch or Escape Rope… they can’t play any items like Ultra Ball or Trainer Mail.

Enter Vileplume.

“The Truth” was a Worlds Deck played by Ross Cawthon in 2011. It featured a similar Vileplume alongside Reuniclus and attackers like Donphan.

We’re following a similar principle by locking the opponent’s items. This prevents them from things such as Switch or Escape Rope (like previously mentioned). This allows you to easily maintain the lock.

There are… of course… risks involving running Vileplume. These involves things such as having a Heavy Retreat cost and Lysandre being a thing. However, there are negations to this – especially with the coming of the next set bringing Float Stone to the Table.

But… How about that Fighting Weakness on Ampharos, I hear you say… Furious Fists was a thing… And to you I say… Yes… it WAS a thing. But you see… Ancient Origins brought Lightning Pokemon a little bit of help…

Assuming that “Weakness Policy” isn’t a thing due to the item lock AND the fact you’ll want to use Ampharos Spirit-Link – We have… FLASH Energy.

With Flash Energy, you can circumvent the usual weakness of Lightning Types. And it only becomes harder to remove with the item lock applied. This makes it a great counter against those nasty Groudons.

When taking into account these factors, an Ampharos decks seems pretty possible… and could be even fun to make. As to how it’ll do competitively, it will be up to the player to choose the best way forward for their own personal play style.

Things Still Left to See: How Good/Bad is Ampharos EX?

Kaio Ken!

Ampharos-Ex is not exactly an impressive EX, averaging a value of about $5.00, which is almost as low as you’ll pay for an EX. But at the same time, I don’t feel as though it’s overly bad. At least, not in the vein of Ancient Trait Gyarados bad. (Which I spent 1600 words talking about in my last post.)

So let’s get all Charge Up, (!) and take a look at some of things Ampharos does right, and whether or not Amphy is well and truly Born With It.

The Initial Drop

Ampharos-EX
Do Androids Dream?

 Ampharos-Ex doesn’t start doing damage for a while, requiring a whopping 4 energy before it can even begin laying down damage, and when it does its that standard 100 that we were talking about with Gyarados earlier, worse yet the damage doesn’t even proc weakness, meaning what should have been one of the best Ex’s to be countering the runaway train that is Colorless Rayquazza-Ex. can’t one shot it off of weakness.

On the plus side, with the right application of deck manipulation cards like Trainer’s Mail, Battle Compressor (for deck thining) or even just a higher than average Energy Count, you can be swinging for 100 come turn 2 off of Thunder Rod, which is also 100 damage that is unaffected by Resistance, Abilities, Ancient Traits and Trainer Card effects, which does marginally make up for the inability to abuse weakness.

Hawlucha
ITS JOHN CENA!!!

You know, just a little bit.

The fighting weakness is pretty bad in a format where Groudon-EX still exists, even
if it is in a somewhat mitigated form. Even Hawlucha runs all over it in just 2 turns (With a Strong Energy and Muscle Band attachment) if you can’t pull out the Energies you need in time.

A Steel Resistance doesn’t really do anything in the format at the moment, although it does allow Ampharos to weather Aegislash-EX a little better, and Sparking Tail can cleave through Sword-and-Shield’s Ability if you decide to attach Flash Energies. (For some reason)

Maybe She’s Born With It

M Ampharos-EX
ATREYU!

 Did you attach all 4 of those energies last turn? Awesome, drop a Spirit Link, play M-Ampharos and start one shotting most EX’s. The one’s you don’t? No worries mate, they’re now Paralyzed, and barring a Switch/Escape Rope/Evolution you’re peachy.

Oh, wait.

And you’ve also dealt an additional 30 damage to yourself? Hmmm, okay. Why aren’t you playing Manetric again?

Shaymin-EX
Smug Little Bastard

Okay, to be fair, the ability to deal 170 with very minor repercussion is pretty solid, alongside a Muscle Band, you’re one shotting all Non-Mega’s without much blowback, and taking out Colorless M-Rayquazza without even proccing the extra 50 damage. Hell, if you time your Lysandre’s well, you can drag out and free prize an awkward Shaymin-EX for a
whopping 130HP worth of overkill. (God damned, stupid $40-$80 card)

Not only that, but you can undercut the 30 damage by running Stormy Seas, and healing 30 damage every turn.

So, hey it isn’t all bad news, easy kills on Shaymin’s and (Colorles) Rayquazzas, plus a stadium that consistently heals youm may as well grab all the Ampharos’ you can and build this deck now, if it’s got the ability to stomp Ray, right? Right?

No, Not Right.

M Rayquaza-EXAren’t leading questions fun?

So, yeah, most Rayquazza decks will be running, most likely, a 2-2 count of Altaria. Basically what Altaria does is turn Rayquazza into an unkillable tank, that shreds through any possible defence you can throw at it.

Of course, you can still 2 hit the big scary dragon, but you still need your Ampharos to survive to the point where it can 2 hit it, which can be tricky depending on just how fast you can put M.Ampharos-EX out and fully charge it up.

I suppose, if you look at it properly, I’d suggest running at minimum a 2-2-2 countAltaria of Serene Grace Togekiss with a few Rare Candies thrown in there for good measure. (Second post in a row I’ve suggested Togekiss, this is how trends start… Or is that memes?) It offers you a secondary, larger, Energy Gamble off of the top of your deck as early as Turn 2. Of course a 2-2-2  count with, at minimum, 2 slots taken up by the Rare Candies, in an Energy heavy deck, (12 count minimum, 15 count to really capitalize on all of your Energy Rush techs) that’s a lot of space being taken up by things that don’t really need to be there.

Ampharos-EX in the Current Meta

Beyond Togekiss and Milotic, there isn’t all that much that offers anything in the way of pure Lightening Energy Acceleration. Should you get M.Ampharos-EX out, then you can spam a few Mega Turbos in conjunction with Battle Compressor to discard the energy, but the biggest question I keep asking myself is, why not just run Manetric-EX instead?

M Manectric-EX
Queer Shock for the Pride Rock

Because the bonuses you get for running Ampharos over Manectric are slight. 10hp more and 10 base damage more once you get the Mega out, with Manectric being far cheaper and more efficient to run. Not only that, but while you’re hitting your opponent with TURBO BOLTS, you can simultaneously charge up a second Manectric, so that if the first one dies, come into next turn, BAM! MORE TURBO BOLTS!

Sure, you could easily TURBO BOLT a benched Ampharos, but why would you want to? And that’s essentially what my argument boils down too for the meta at the moment, Ampharos is decent and could do things, if Manectric weren’t already a thing. Because Manectric is just straight up better at doing the things Ampharos WANTS to do.

Which is a shame, because as silly as Mega-Ampharos’ mane of luxurious white locks are, it still looks infinitely better than whatever the hell is happening on Mega-Manectric. But, that’s just personal aesthetics coming into play, and in no way has bearing on the playability of either.

New Format Starting With XY8

So while we’ve already got our starting point for the format going into 2016, in the next few months the 8th Expansion in the XY series is set to release and, with it comes a basic disregard of all of the issues in relation to Manectric. ‘Oh why is that Mothball?’ I hear the cute girls shouting across the internet. ‘Well I’m glad you asked, discerning Pokemon Card Aficionado. Let me explain ecxactlty why for you!’

This special little card on your right is Magnezone. Maggs here, is to Lightning Energy, what Blastoise was to Water, letting you drop as many Lightning Energy from your hand as you care to drop, meaning you don’t have to worry about  trying to luck into Lightning Rod Turn 1 or going through all the effort of bringing Togekiss out only to whiff the Serene Grace.

No Magnezone is guaranteed and continued energy acceleration, allowing you to continuously power up powerful Ampharos-EX’s.

On the back of Magnezone alone, come XY Set 8, I feel that Ampharos can claw its way up to, at the very least, Tier-3. Depending on the rest of the set, which seems to be focussed quite heavily on Lightning support, we could even push that to a Tier-2.

I would say Tier-1, possibly, but as long as Altaria continues to be a thing, Rayquazza is going to make that annoyingly hard to accomplish.

Things We Already Know: Ancient Trait Gyarados is Bad

Ugh, But Damnit if you Aren't Pretty
But Damn-it, You’re Pretty

I think we can all come together, as a collective community, and acknowledge that in a format that just lost water acceleration (All hail King Koopa, long may he Reign… Dance) Primal Trait Gyarados goes from being pretty bad to just god awful.

But this is obvious, as we all know Gyarados is not a good card, its not even playable all things considered, being a stage 1 with lacklustre damage off of its second attack and just awful requirements for the first one, even with the ability to have 2 Pokemon Tools attached to it at a time, any competitive player worth their salt can see its just not a good card.

But then, I got to thinking. Gyarados still does a flat 100 damage off of its second attack, with a potential extra 30. M.Sceptile-EX is getting away with doing around about the same amount of damage and slowly becoming one of the most dominant Ex’s out of Ancient Origins. Of course that only takes 2 energy to dish out, and Sceptile has a lot more HP, so really, we circle back around to “Gyarados is bad and should feel bad” and are content in known knowledge reaffirming itself as truth, once more.

But I just, I can’t let go of it. I can’t just leave Gyarados on the side of the road, call it bad and be done for the day, for one small, nagging reason.

It is a really, really, pretty card you guys.

So, with that in mind let us dive deep into Gyarados, and see what possible madness we can mix into it.

Tiny, Furry Doom

Flareon
Burn, Baby Burn. Grass Meta Counter!

Oh boy, the Eeveelutions this set. Just when you thought Flareon was about to become obsolete due to the format change, a brand new one comes along and drags both Vaporeon and Jolteon into the surprisingly playable category. TLDR of the Eevee’s is that they turn all of your Stage 1 Pokemon into that specific type, in addition to their original type. So while this eliminates Vaporeon as a buddy to the Gen.1 terror of the Seas, with both a Flareon and a Jolteon on the bench, Gyarados is now hitting for a guaranteed 200 damage on 3 different weaknesses, 1 hit KOing anything with weakness on a successful coin flip.

Jolteon
I was not Expecting a Good Jolteon

Notably, its taking down Origin’s sweetheart Sceptile as well as one shot-ing the Colorless Rayquazza EX from Roaring Skies.

Of course there’s still the issue of charging it up with 4 different energy as well as getting the Eevee’s out in addition to the rather frail Magikarp. (30hp is 30hp)

So then, we get two different questions into solving the issue of using Gar-Dos.

First option, what, if any, energy acceleration can Gyarados make use of?

Second option, how could you potentially wall long enough to manually make things happen?

Lets focus on that first question to start with.

Wait Lapras is in Format? 

Lapras
Lapras. A Thing That Exists

Straight up, completely forgot that Lapras even existed. Both as a card in the format and a card with Energy acceleration. Although, even calling it acceleration leaves a slightly salty taste in my mouth, being that you need to first drop the Water Energy and then take a chance on the coin flips off an attack, meaning even if you do get the dream flips, you still won’t be able to do anything about until your next turn. So, anything that can do this better?

Milotic
Ever-Majestic. 6-Squares Milotic

Hey there good looking, what’s your name?

Right off the bat, Milotic already looks better than Lapras. It does the same thing without the coin flips, guaranteeing the 3 Energy Attachment and its not off of an attack so you can do it the same turn you start attacking with Gyarados.

Of course, the drawbacks are harsh. Milotic is a Stage 1, so there’s all the posibility in the world that, while Gyarados may be ready to get out and thrash the world, you have to wait another turn before you can drop and sacrifice the Milotic.

Secondly, the sacrifice. Milotic’s ability is reliant on you being comfortable enough in your deck to give your opponent a free prize card, and lets face it. This is Ancient Trait Gyarados, you would have to have one hell of a deck to be comfortable enough to give up a free prize card.

To be honest, there aren’t really all that many cards that function well with getting out energy for Gyarados. Things like M.Sceptile EX can drop bonus energy onto it, but that requires you to start mixing in Grass Energy and defeats the purpose of Gwar-Dos in the first place. Why attack with the G-Man if you’re already attacking with Sceptile?

I Do Believe in Faries, I Do!

You could always go for Serene Grace Togekiss, but that is a lot of moving parts in a deck that already has a lot to do in a short amount of time.

If you want to go with an acceleration deck, Milotic is your best choice as far as I’m concerned. Easy to search out with dive ball, and if you wanna go for a T1 drop or a second Energy Grace, Archie’s Ace in the Hole offers a free drop from the discard onto the bench as well as a refreshed hand.

Of coure you trust your Random Number God Luck on the Coin Flips or there being enough energy in your top 8 cards, then by all means, run Lapras or Togekiss, its your deck and ultimately your decision.

But acceleration isn’t where I place my money for this deck. No, I feel if you’re going to run Gyarados with any kind of success rate (no matter how minor) you need early game stall and late game tankiness.

My friends, the deck I would run to try and bring out all of Ancient Trait Gyarados’ potential would be a Gyarados/Seismatoad-EX /Amorus deck.

Gyarados and the Seisma-Scrub Team

Seismitoad-EX
Ugh, Weren’t You Leaving?

Well Now, ain’t This Wacky? Lets talk about the Toad in the room first.

Last rotation, Seismatoad saw heavy play and high success in concert with Garbador, locking out your opponent’s abilities, as well as denying them the chance to play much of anything for set-up, Quaking Bags was one of the most oppressive decks to come into fruition since Vileplume.

However, their terrifying reign has come to a jarring end, as Garbodor has been rotated out of format, leaving Seismatoad-EX a little less impressive. At least until someone pairs it with the new Vileplume, which is essentially Garbodor at a stage higher. (Although that’s a rant for another day)

Having Seismatoad as your leading Pokemon is a beatiful little touch for Gyarados, offering you some breathing room while you search out your Water Dragons and the Eeveelution best suited for your current match up, dropping a Switch when you’re little Red Karp is all grown up. Ideally your Toad Stall will have hamstrung your opponent enough that all it should take to finish off your opponent is 2 or 3 well placed Thrash’s to end the game.

Now here’s where things get fun.

Aurorus
Aur-Who-rus?

Aurorus offers something to your entire field, that usually only targets a single Pokemon at a time, and that is damage reduction.

While this bad boy is on the field, any of your pokemon with Water Energy attached take 20 less damage from your opponent’s attacks.

Well, you know, it’s not bad, but it’s hardly great either, why are we including it?

Well remember Gyarados being able to equip two pokemon tools?

Well, we make 1 of them a Hard Charm, for further damage reduction, meaning any damage Gyarados takes is reduced by 40, which is pretty neat.

Hard Charm
Something, Something Rock Solid

The second Tool is a little more subject to change. You could choose to run Muscle Band, so that you score a little more damage on a bad coin flip, One Hit KOing several EX’s off of a Flareon or Jolteon powered Thrash before the coin flip is even calculated.

If you enjoy the tankiness route, you could throw in Protection Cubes, preventing
the self-inflicted damage from a bad coin flip or alternatively, a Healing Scarf, allowing you to heal what ever damage breaks through your Aurorus/Hard Charm Wall.

Hell, if you want to be really tanky, double down 2 Hard Charms on your first Gyarados and split the difference on the next one. Its a wonderful little trick, that appeals to the Troll in me.

At the end of the day, I do not remotely believe Ancient Trait Gyarados to be a good card, at least not with the cards currently available in the format. Which is a shame, because as I said, it is a very pretty card that deserves to be played and not hidden away in a Binder.

I’ll probably put a list together over the weekend, and get my testing buddy to come and help me gauge its viability. (I am pretty firmly of the opinion that it is not viable)

But maybe future sets will offer ways in which Gyarados can storm the scene, and land itself a place among the most highly regarded decks in the land.

Maybe, just maybe, one day, Ancient Trait Gyarados could be competitive.

But I doubt it.