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With Fall Regionals having just finished a couple weeks ago, Cities are just around the corner. This particular set of Regionals was important, as a number of powerful and unique decks – both old and new – took center stage and did quite well. Keep in mind that U.S. Regionals are very large in scale – often times they can have more players than a National tournament in another country! I won’t go into great detail on all the decks (click here for a full Regionals recap from Pokémon.com), but I think it is important to look at the overall trends that were seen throughout the weeks. There was one thing that struck me as I compared the deck data on Pokémon.com – players chose to hard counter the decks that saw success in the previous week; in other words, they did not overthink what might be played in the future. The graphic below illustrates this idea.
Let’s take a look at week one, for instance: both Blastoise and Yveltal-Ex decks saw a tremendous amount of play. Why these particular decks though? I would like to think that the true potential of Blastoise was made evident at the recent World Championships just a couple months ago – Jacob Van Wagner’s build was incredibly fast, powerful, and essentially laid down the foundation for what a successful Blastoise is and will continue to be. Supporting this notion is the fact that nearly all the Blastoise lists that performed well at Regionals were either exact copies of Jacob’s list or just a card or two from it. And that’s okay – after all, don’t fix what’s not broken!
On another note, Yveltal-Ex is also a force to be reckoned with in the Expanded format. It gains a number of cards, including Dark Patch for energy acceleration, Hypnotoxic Laser for added damage, and Darkrai-Ex for free Retreat. It is also one of the few decks that can successfully incorporate the popular combo of Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick and Archeops to shut down Evolution decks. With these tools at his arsenal, Israel Sosa was able to secure his fourth overall Regionals win and establish a place in the Meta for Yveltal-Ex.
Without having to think about the various decks in the format, it’s rather easy to predict what would counter Blastoise and Yveltal-Ex in week two. Vespiquen and Mega Manectric-Ex are simply hard counters to the above-mentioned decks! However, it should be noted that there are a few other reasons why these decks have the upper hand. Sure, Vespiquen can easily hit the magic number of 180 damage with a mere 7 Pokémon in the Discard Pile, but more importantly it is a non-Ex attacker. The Blastoise player would need to successfully attack with Keldeo-Ex a whopping 6 times versus the Vespiquen player’s 3 in order to secure a victory – this can especially become problematic when they have to repeatedly burn through resources to draw into the much needed Superior Energy Retrievals in order to successfully Deluge enough energy to attack (compared to a single Double Colorless Energy to Bee Revenge).
Mega Manectric-Ex is a different case – besides its typing I believe its success against
Yveltal-Ex decks can be also attributed to its 210HP. Think about it: in order for Yveltal-Ex to take out Mega Manectric in a single attack, it would need a total of 7 energy between both Active Pokémon, Muscle Band, Virbank City Gym, and Hypnotoxic Laser. This is highly unrealistic given that: a) Mega Manectric-Ex players often play 3 Rough Seas to win the so-called “Stadium war”, b) Turbo Bolt is a low-cost attack, and c) Mega Manectric-Ex can take Yveltal-Ex out in a single attack before it is fully powered up thanks to Weakness. Perhaps a last factor to be considered is that Regice is frequently partnered with Mega Manectric-Ex, making it even more difficult considering the effects of Resistance Blizzard cannot be shut off by Hex Maniac nor Garbodor.
Week three is also a relatively predictable one – Vespiquen and Mega Manectric-Ex decks are reliant on Special Energy and Mega Evolution Pokémon, respectively. Giratina-Ex successfully counters both of these strategies. Its Renegade Pulse Ability prevents it from being damaged by Mega Evolution Pokémon, while its Chaos Wheel attack prevents opponents from playing Special Energy, Tools, and Stadiums. The latter is particularly devastating to Mega Manectric-Ex players, as they depend upon Rough Seas to successfully skew the numbers necessary for a Knock-Out. Giratina-Ex players can simply attach a Muscle Band or play Faded Town to take down Mega Manectric-Ex in a mere two turns.
What if your opponent uses Regice though? That’s where Tyrantrum-Ex comes in. I will say that it’s great that The Pokémon Company is starting to listen to player feedback by making competitive cards more accessible. At the time of this article, Tyrantrum-Ex is hovering around $9 online, but you can easily walk into your local retailer and pick up the Tyrantrum-Ex Box (which also gets you four Booster Packs and a jumbo card) for about $20. Tyrantrum is a fantastic card for two reasons. Firstly, its Despotic Fang Ability allows it to go through any effects on your opponent’s Active Pokémon – namely Regice’s Resistance Blizzard and Aegislash-Ex’s Mighty Shield.
Secondly, its Dragon Impact hits for a whopping 190 damage – enough to take out most Pokémon-Ex in a single blow, including Mega Manectric-Ex with a Muscle Band attached. Having to discard 3 Energy is a slight drawback, but there is clear synergy between Tyrantrum-Ex and Bronzong’s Metal Links Ability for Energy acceleration. Tyrantrum-Ex/Giratina-Ex also gets the luxury of free Retreat throughout the game thanks to Keldeo-Ex’s Rush In Ability.
Some players – myself included – found some success by partnering Giratina-Ex with another attacker whose strategy is to lock your opponent from playing certain cards: Seismitoad-Ex. Given the deck data on Pokémon.com, it seems that this deck did particularly well on the last week of Regionals, probably due to the fact that Blastoise decks have a massive advantage if they get set up relatively quickly. Seismitoad-Ex/Giratina-Ex was strong enough to take 3 spots in Top 8 – it even made it to the finals, albeit losing to Frank Diaz’s Yveltal-Ex deck.
My Fort Wayne Experience
I had the opportunity to attend and compete at Fort Wayne Regionals. The Seismitoad-Ex/Giratina-Ex list I ended up playing can be found in the deck list section here.
For some reason, I overlooked Jirachi-Ex as I made my deck list – it was too late to make changes by the time I had realized this. Thankfully, I never found myself in a situation where its Stellar Guidance Ability would have significantly helped – Blastoise decks were not popular at Fort Wayne. Below is my match record:
R1: WLW Yveltal-Ex/Darkrai-Ex 1-0-0
R2: WLT Yveltal-Ex/Darkrai-Ex 1-0-1
R3: Sceptile-Ex/Ariados 2-0-1
R4: Mega Manectric-Ex / Regice 3-0-1
R5: Tyrantrum-Ex/Giratina-Ex/Cobalion-Ex 3-1-1
R6: Sableye/Garbodor 3-2-1
R7: LWT Seismitoad-Ex/Manectric-Ex/Crobat 3-2-2 (Drop)
I was 3-0-1 going into lunch and pretty confident that I could get three more wins to advance into day two. However, I ran into two pretty terrible match-ups – Tyrantrum-Ex/Giratina-Ex/Cobalion-Ex and Sableye/Garbodor – forcing me to drop after round 7 and ending with 3-2-2. Game one of round six was rather close as I had managed to discard all four of my opponent’s Double Dragon Energy, but Cobalion-Ex’s Righteous Edge was able to remove all seven of my Special Energy.
I also want to take a moment to acknowledge how great a deck
Sableye/Garbodor is! The match-up seemed like an auto-win in my favor thanks to locking my opponent out of Item cards. This is not the case though – I quickly learned that this deck often plays 4 Team Flare Grunt as well as 1-2 Xerosic! By missing a single Quaking Punch I allowed my opponent to essentially use Sableye’s Junk Hunt to rinse and repeat by getting multiple VS Seeker back and get a near infinite amount of these disruptive Supporter cards.
While it was tempting to finish the last couple rounds and possibly earn Championship Points by securing a place in Top 64, instead I chose to spend time with friends and go out to eat that evening. While it’s certainly fun to compete at the tournament level, sometimes it’s nice to get away and do other activities with friends once in a while! Regardless of dropping, I had a lot of fun at Fort Wayne and am very excited to look ahead at the types of decks we’ll soon see at Cities in the coming months.
Rise of the Giant Plants
With the release of the upcoming BREAKthrough expansion, I believe that Cities tournaments will see a healthier and more diverse metagame. Presently, the Standard format seems a bit lackluster given the amount of staple cards that recently rotated – namely useful draw Supporters like N and Colress. Indeed it will be interesting to see how new cards like Judge and Brigette will make their mark. Originally I had planned on going in-depth with some lists for the Standard format, but I don’t believe that format has truly solidified itself – I will need to test the new cards from BREAKthrough before compiling lists to share.
However, I would like to go into detail regarding some strategies with Forest of Giant Plants. This card was incredibly hyped when it was first released, and with good reason: the ability to evolve right away is certainly powerful and game-altering. In fact, this one card led to the banning of the notorious Shiftry that once dominated the matches on Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. It’s interesting – since Shiftry was banned we have seen very few decks that incorporate Forest of Giant Plants, save the Latios-Ex/Forretress donk deck that saw a little popularity.
I have made a list of some Pokémon that are worth taking a second look at regarding Forest of Giant Plants. Some of these are Pokémon that have made it in the spotlight and obviously work with the Stadium; others are ones that have been severely overlooked in my opinion. Though the Stadium has yet to see play competitively, I believe players will create lots of new and unique strategies as we dive deeper into the format in the coming months!
- Servine (Black and White 4). When Forest of Giant Plants was first released, I saw a number of decks on Pokémon Trading Card Game Online that utilized the Stadium. One card that stuck out was Servine. For 2 energy its Wring out Attack does 30 and you flip a coin – if heads, the Defending Pokémon is Paralyzed and you discard an Energy attached to it.Perhaps this effect would be only so-so if it were one or the other, but the fact that it’s both is pretty huge.Because the effect is from a coin flip, you would need to pair it with either Trick Coin or Victini’s Victory Star Ability. Another drawback is that Servine is a relatively weak Pokémon with only 80HP. To combat this, I think you could potentially play Serperior and Celebi-Ex’s Time Recall Ability – effectively letting you use Wring Out while having more HP and Serperior’s Royal Heal Ability.
- Lilligant (Emerging Powers 14). This card is similar to Servine albeit more efficient. Its Bemusing Aroma does 20 Damage and you flip a coin – if heads the Defending Pokémon is now Paralyzed and Poisoned and if tails the Defending Pokémon is now Confused. The great thing about Lilligant is that either coin flip results in an effect that is in your favor.It is reminiscent of Accelgor’s Deck and Cover Attack, without having to shuffle all cards back into the deck. It’s also great because it only costs a single Grass Energy. Lilligant briefly saw play in the 2011-2012 format with Victini amidst such decks as Celebi/Mewtwo-Ex/Terrakion and Vanilluxe/Victini/Vileplume. Is the flowering Pokémon poised to make its return in the near future?
- Amoongus (Next Destinies 9). Though not a great attacker by any means, Amoonguss is on the list for its Sporprise Ability, which allows you to make the Defending Pokémon Confused and Poisoned when you evolve it. I can certainly think of a number of decks that can benefit from these guaranteed statuses – Seismitoad-Ex first
comes to mind. Imagine locking your opponent from playing Item cards while being Confused and Poisoned; chances are they would think twice about attaching energy and attacking with their Active Pokémon.
- Venusaur (Dark Explorers 3). The luxury of being able to search out Pokémon for free has always been taken advantage of when possible – players from the HeartGold/SoulSilver format can attest to using Pokémon Collector in almost every deck to quickly fill up their benches. Venusaur’s Floral Scent lets you search for a Pokémon ad put it in your hand once per turn. This is essentially a free Ultra Ball every turn! Though it will certainly require setting up to get out (or just a lot of draw cards), I believe Venusaur is incredibly underrated.I can see it paired with Vileplume in the same manner that Delphox was with Emboar. Those who played Emboar would often grab Delphox for its Mystical Fire Ability, allowing them to draw until they had 6 and consistently get the Emboar out within their first couple turns regardless. Getting Venusaur out ensures that you can grab Vileplume the following turn, as well as any other Pokémon throughout the match without the need for such cards like Ultra Ball or Level Ball.
- Accelgor (Dark Explorers 11). It’s no surprise that Accelgor is on this list. Its Deck and Cover Attack has always been powerful – the ability to use it as early as your first turn makes the deck even more tempting to play. Not only can it attack for a single Double Colorless Energy, it is also Level Ball searchable and has free Retreat. There are plenty of partners for Accelgor including Wobbufett and Trevenant. This seems like the most obvious card to play with Forest of Giant Plants, so why hasn’t it seen play?Given it is from the Expanded format, it’s possible that players are afraid of the combo of Archeops and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, which would effectively shut out the deck’s strategy as early as turn one if they aren’t playing Wally or Evosoda. Another reason could stem from the fact that Deck and Cover requires a Double Colorless Energy. Not only can it be inconsistent only playing a mere four Energy cards, but it is also susceptible to Giratina-Ex’s Chaos Wheel Attack and Aegislash-Ex’s Mighty Shield Ability.
- Jumpluff (Dragons Exalted 3). Cards that allow you to essentially “scoop” up your Pokémon can be incredibly powerful, even those that do so on a coin flip. Jumpluff’s Leave It to the Wind Ability lets you do just that – once per turn you can return Jumpluff and all cards attached back to your hand. Jumpluff’s meager 90HP and low-output Attack don’t exactly help its case as a viable attacker – thus we can infer that it would be a support Pokémon of some sort. I believe it has some synergy with Reuniclus, which allows you to rearrange the damage on your board as often as you’d like during your turn.It sounds incredibly tedious and unjustifiable to try getting two Stage 2 Pokémon out, but theoretically you could lock your opponent from taking a single prize by moving damage to Jumpluff, scooping it up, and repeating. I don’t think a proper attacker is been released just yet for these Pokémon, but Jumpluff is certainly a card to keep an eye out for later in the format.
- Roserade (Dragons Exalted 15). This card briefly saw some play in some Virizion/Genesect decks just a couple years ago at States and U.S. Nationals. Its ability, Le Parfum, lets you search your deck for any one card when you evolve it – it’s essentially a free Computer Search. There seems to be a pattern with the Abilities of Grass Pokémon – many of them have the same effects as existing cards that see a high amount of competitive play.It’s almost as if The Pokémon Company was pushing players to play these particular cards. It seems that the fact that they were Evolution cards ultimately held them back – until now. I believe Roserade will see play in some form or fashion this season. Being able to freely search for any card is too good to pass up, especially given that Roserade is Level Ball searchable and has a great Resistance.
- Vileplume (Boundaries Crossed 3). Imagine being able to KO your opponent’s Pokémon-Ex with a single Energy every turn. Vileplume is back, baby! Its Allergy Panic Ability basically modifies the Weakness mechanic from x2 to x4 – this is potentially game-breaking if someone figure out how to abuse it. When Boundaries Crossed first came out three years ago, my friends
and I tried to make Vileplume work – long story short, we failed. It was incredibly clunky fitting the 2-2-2 line, 4 Rare Candy, having to wait a turn to evolve while hoping Oddish would not get brought up by Pokémon Catcher, etc. There was also a distinct lack of viable attackers to pair with it.
Things have certainly changed in three years! Now there are a variety of Pokémon-Ex that can hit for 30 Damage for a single Energy of their respective type. Add in Muscle Band and that’s the magic number of 50, or 200 with Allergy Panic in effect. Rainbow Energy is also back in the format, meaning that you no longer have to settle for Blend Energy. I think we could certainly see this card finally make its debut as the format continues.
- Exeggutor (Plasma Freeze 5). I would personally love to see this card make its return. Supporter Lock is still strong, despite cards like Shaymin-Ex and Hoopa-Ex being printed. With Battle Compressor, it becomes even easier to get this accomplished as you can quickly discard Exeggcute and use its Propagation Ability to fill up your bench and have free search throughout the game.While Exeggutor’s Blockade attack only hits for a meager 10 damage, it can be amplified through cards like Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser. In addition, you could certainly take advantage of other Grass Pokémon that work with Forest of Giant Plants like Amoongus for additional effects.
- Cradily (Plasma Blast 4) – I can vividly recall one summer where my best friend and I made proxies for this card using his photo printer and trying to make it work – good times indeed. Cradily’s Lifesplosion Attack lets you search your deck for a Stage 2 and put it on the bench for each Energy attached to it. Imagine being able to search your deck for such Pokémon as Delphox, Empoleon, or Magnezone – the sky is the limit!The biggest drawback with this card has always been with getting it out – its pre-Evolution is a Restored Pokémon, meaning that you have to use the Fossil mechanic to hopefully get it out. My first instinct is to play this with an all-out speed deck, burning through as many cards as possible to get out Lileep turn one. Cradily can then withstand a couple hits as it sets up with Lifesplosion.
- Shiftry (Flashfire 7). No, this is not the game-breaking Shiftry that was banned just a few months ago – sorry to disappoint! This Shiftry is actually from Flashfire, meaning it is legal in the XY-on Standard format. Its Leaf Draw Ability lets you discard a Grass Energy from your hand in order to draw 3 cards. It is strikingly similar to Empoleon, both in terms of Ability and Attack. Deranged Dance does 20 damage times the number of all Benched Pokémon. I think this is a fantastic example of what a Stage 2 Pokémon should be in our format and encourage The Pokémon Company to continue making Evolution Pokémon like this.In theory Shiftry seems to have a lot going for it – built-in draw power that stacks for each Shiftry in play, a powerful attack capable of keeping the prize exchange with bulky Pokémon-Ex – so why hasn’t it seen play? Perhaps it’s because the attack requires a staggering 3 Energy, unacceptable in a format dominated by Pokémon-Ex that can usually hit for just as much damage for 1-2 Energy. Still, the attack should be relatively easy to power up with Double Colorless Energy. It could also incorporate Exp. Share to conserve Grass Energy on the board and save from having to attach twice to attack.
- Venomoth (Phantom Forces 2). When I first saw the scan for this card, I immediately began to think about potential partners and strategies to make it work. Despite its attack essentially “semi-locking” your opponent, I feel that it could nonetheless be a powerful lock that could see play in the right meta. Dizzying Wind forces your opponent to flip for any Trainer card he or she plays during their turn. You heard me correctly – ANY Trainer card. Want to play Sky Field? Flip for it. How about Switch? Flip for that too. Something great about this effect is that if your opponent flips tails on their Supporter, it still counts as their Supporter for the turn. That is the true reason I think this card is so underrated.However, it doesn’t skew away from the fact that Dizzying Wind does no damage. The deck would need another partner such as Forretress FLF to successfully put damage on the board. Once enough damage is on your opponent’s board, you could simply retreat Venomoth into Meowstic and rearrange damage counters with Ear Influence and potentially take all your prizes in a single Attack!
- Sceptile (Primal Clash 8). Grass Pokémon haven’t had a proper form of Energy acceleration for a while now. Sceptile’s Nurture and Heal Ability lets you not only attach a Grass Energy to a Pokémon, but also heal 30 damage from it.I’m not sure there is a viable Grass attacker in the format at the moment – save Trevenant-Ex – but nonetheless I think Sceptile could certainly help those Pokémon who struggle being competitive due to Energy cost. For example, Shiftry could certainly be a partner with Sceptile as you would then just need to attach a Double Colorless Energy to hit for a lot of damage.
- Beautify (Roaring Skies 5). In a format dominated by heavy-hitting Pokémon-Ex, Beautifly could certainly find a place in the meta, at least in Standard. Its Miraculous Scales is much akin to Suicune and Sigilyph’s Safeguard Abilities, preventing it from being damaged by Pokémon-Ex. Its Whirlwind Attack isn’t bad either.It also has free Retreat, allowing you to swap between multiple Beautifly if one is about to get KO’d. The downside is that this Ability is just that – it can easily be shut off by cards like Hex Maniac and Wobbuffett.
- Forretress (Flashfire 60). A great Ability and Attack from a Stage 1 Pokémon? Say it ain’t so! I believe this card will definitely see play this season. Its Thorn Tempest Ability puts 1 damage counter on each of your opponent’s Pokémon when you evolve it. We’ve seen a number of decks utilize Golbat and Crobat’s Abilities to put damage counters on your
opponent’s board.These decks were highly successful despite relying on Evolved Pokémon – the ability to evolve into Forretress right away is sure to make it even more appealable.In addition, its Iron Crash attack can deal decent damage if you are just short of a KO. The great thing about this card is that you can re-use its Ability several times in a game via cards like Devolution Spray, Super Scoop Up, and AZ. Perhaps one partner could potentially be Sableye as it can Junk Hunt and recycle such Item cards for near infinite use.
There are a few obvious cards that I omitted from this list – namely Vileplume ROS and Ariados ROS – as I wanted to focus on cards that have either been overlooked or just quickly dismissed due to low HP, Attack cost, etc. Hopefully this list will pique your interest in using Forest of Giant Plants and encourage you to try out some unique strategies that have not been streamlined as of yet. I believe the Stadium is one of the best we’ve seen in a while and think that it will certainly see more play as the format progresses.
Be sure to check out the site’s new card database – it was very helpful in the making of this article! I also recommend trying out the new deck builder feature; I should have an updated deck section in the coming days for you guys. Please let us know if there are any bugs on the site as we continue to add features – your feedback is certainly much appreciated. Until then – I’ll catch you in the next one, trainers!