Hey readers! The SSH–ASR format has finally concluded with the end of Baltimore Regionals. It was a unique change of pace to have a pre-rotation Worlds format, which hasn’t been the case in the past couple of years. To top it all off, our rotation has now been moved to January to align with Japan’s format. It was nice to get one last tournament with the old format so that I could take Dialga for one last ride, especially with Banette VIV!
Just to recap the tournament, Piper Lepine took down the largest Regionals of all time with Radiant Charizard/Inteleon. This deck was originally played to a great finish at Worlds by Ross Cawthon and many more people picked up the deck for Baltimore. Besides that, Palkia/Inteleon and Arceus/Flying Pikachu were less popular as well. The non-Fusion version of Mew VMAX was also incredibly popular and was piloted to a second-place finish by Isaac Milaski.
For me, I knew that I would play Dialga. I had been workshopping the deck with Lost Origin before Baltimore on PTCGO and thought about playing the Lost Zone engine. This led me to the old Banette from Vivid Voltage, which I didn’t know about! Once I saw it, I knew that I would be including it in my current Dialga list, swapping out the birds and Roxanne/Path package. From there, it was a quick workshopping of the list to account for the change in playstyle and then I was done!
I ended up going 7-1-1 Day 1, with a loss to DTE Mew and a tie against Palkia. Day 2 didn’t go as well; I finished 9-4-2 with losses against Mew, Miltank/Morpeko and Radiant Charizard. I tied another Mew as well. Miltank and Radiant Charizard are both autolosses, and then the games against Mew didn’t go so well. Throughout the weekend, I had issues with getting donked. I lost on turn two or three with a single Pokemon four times over the weekend and twice against Mew.
Here’s the list I played:
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ****** ##Pokémon - 14 * 2 Crobat V SHF 44 * 2 Origin Forme Dialga V ASR 113 * 1 Zacian V SSH 195 * 2 Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR ASR 114 * 4 Mew CEL 11 * 1 Shuppet VIV 67 * 1 Banette VIV 68 * 1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46 ##Trainer Cards - 34 * 1 Escape Rope BST 125 * 4 Metal Saucer SSH 170 * 1 Training Court RCL 169 * 3 Ultra Ball PLB 90 * 3 Boss's Orders RCL 154 * 2 Bird Keeper DAA 159 * 4 Quick Ball FST 237 * 2 Raihan EVS 152 * 1 Air Balloon SSH 156 * 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165 * 1 Temple of Sinnoh ASR 155 * 1 Energy Switch BLW 94 * 1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146 * 3 Energy Search BLW 93 * 3 Trekking Shoes ASR 156 ##Energy - 12 * 12 Metal Energy Energy 8 Total Cards - 60 ****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******
The list I played is different from the one I played before. For one, I cut all the accessory cards and instead added the 1-1 Banette, additional Energy outs and multiple Raihan. With this version, you aim to pitch plenty of Energy and then load up a Dialga VSTAR and take four Prize cards with the Banette combo. Raihan allows you to reach the five Energy mark efficiently and as early as turn two reliably, assuming a Pokemon was Knocked Out.
Banette can make for some cool plays against Palkia and Mew. It has value against Arceus, but that matchup is already favorable enough. Against Palkia decks that don’t play Roxanne, you can set up a checkmate with Raihan and multiple Dialga in play to go from four Prize cards to zero in back-to-back turns. With Temple of Sinnoh, you can devolve Mew VMAX despite Fusion Energy blocking it. With additional Energy outs and Raihan, you don’t need both Training Court in a game.
Moving forward with the deck, I’d cut an Energy Search for an additional Trekking Shoes or Battle VIP Pass. The deck needs just a little bit more gas on the first turn, especially against a quick deck like Mew. You need to get both Dialga V down on the first turn. I also am salty about getting donked many times, which didn’t happen at all with previous lists because it ran more Basic Pokemon and more draw Supporters. Lost Origin has some cool cards like Drapion V, Thorton and the new Banette which could all very well be slotted into the deck. Not to mention, a Lost Zone engine deck with Mirage Gate could work too!
Dialga should still be well-poised moving into the new format. The single-Prize Lost Zone box is a matchup like Regigigas, except they can attack on their first turn going second more consistently. If you use Star Chronos to go from three Prize cards to one Prize card and the opponent can only use Radiant Charizard once. Besides that, you’re trading efficiently so long as you don’t give them access to plenty of Knock Outs on Mew with Sableye. The Giratina matchup should be even easier because you can snag four easy Prize cards. Other decks, like Kyurem/Palkia, Goodra, and Zoroark, should be alright matchups as well with the usual Banette plan.
Now, let’s talk about a deck that’s flown under the radar: Hisuian Arcanine! This deck hasn’t been getting as much hype as the Lost Zone-oriented decks, but it’s quite strong and can trade favorably with the Pokemon V decks in format. Hisuian Arcanine also has 130 HP, making it somewhat difficult for Cramorant/Sableye decks to take a Prize card every turn without a trick like Echoing Horn or Galarian Zigzagoon.
Longtime players will recognize that Hisuian Arcanine’s attack, Very Vulnerable, is the same mechanic as Granbull from Lost Thunder. However, Hisuian Arcanine’s attack has no cost! We also have access to Radiant Venusaur, which allows you to draw until you have four cards in hand after your attack. Note: this effect happens after you take your Prize cards. With this, you can refuel your hand to prepare a Hisuian Arcanine on the following turn. Bibarel is also a useful engine. Combined with Oranguru, you can ensure that you don’t discard too many important cards with Peony in preparation for your attack.
With Zoroark, you can more effectively stream Hisuian Arcanine and play niche Stage 1 Pokemon. Slowbro gives you an edge in other single-Prize matchups, whereas Mightyena shores up your Mew VMAX matchup.
Here’s the list I’ve been playing:
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ****** ##Pokémon - 25 * 2 Bidoof BRS 120 * 1 Oranguru SSH 148 * 2 Bibarel BRS 121 * 4 Zorua EVS 102 * 1 Mightyena ASR 96 * 4 Zoroark EVS 103 * 4 Hisuian Growlithe ASR 70 * 4 Hisuian Arcanine LOR 84 * 1 Radiant Venusaur PGO 4 * 1 Hisuian Basculin ASR 43 * 1 Slowbro PGO 20 ##Trainer Cards - 32 * 4 Peony CRE 150 * 4 Evolution Incense SSH 163 * 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 171 * 4 Ultra Ball DEX 102 * 3 Boss's Orders RCL 154 * 1 Great Ball EPO 93 * 1 Grant ASR 144 * 4 Quick Ball SSH 179 * 2 Air Balloon SSH 156 * 1 Scoop Up Net RCL 165 * 1 Pal Pad FLF 92 * 1 Battle VIP Pass FST 225 * 1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146 * 4 Level Ball NXD 89 ##Energy - 3 * 3 Twin Energy RCL 174 Total Cards - 60 ****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******
There’s nothing too special here. You’ve got the classic 4-4 lines of Hisuian Arcanine and Zoroark, with supplementary Bibarel line and the few additional Stage 1s. Hisuian Basculin has Gather the Crew (!) which is effective in setting up your Pokemon. Importantly, you can even trigger Radiant Venusaur’s Ability after benching it with this attack. In the Trainers section, you’ve got the Peony engine and a plethora of Pokemon search cards. Grant is another means of discarding cards in your hand, either for Bibarel or for Very Vulnerable. Lastly, there are a few Twin Energy for Slowbro or fulfilling a Retreat Cost.
On your first turn, your plan is to fill your board with ample Basic Pokemon. You will need a Zorua or Hisuian Growlithe, ideally two, to attack on the following turn. Bidoof is also useful, but not super necessary. As long as you have the pieces to attack on turn two, you can slowly build out your board using Peony or your draw cards off of Radiant Venusaur.
All that matters is taking an efficient Prize trade with the opponent. You’ll be able to get your last two Prizes with Slowbro in most cases, so you should set yourself up to take four Prize cards. This can come from four single-Prize Pokemon, but in most cases you’d Knock Out one VSTAR and then two single-Prize Pokemon, depending on how the game started. If you went second, it’s more likely you will hit into a VSTAR four times.
Your game plan against most decks is the same. You’ll be attacking with Hisuian Arcanine unless you’re against Mew VMAX. If Arceus decks play Dunsparce, you’ll want to take care of that with Boss’s Orders so that you can OHKO Arceus VSTAR. In the same regard, Oricorio messes with the math of Mightyena against Mew VMAX. With three copies of Boss’s Orders, you should be able to effectively pick off the Bench-sitter and then take favorable Prize trades against the main attacker.
Cramorant/Sableye is another big deck to worry about. One major issue is that they will almost always take the first Prize card because they can attack with a Basic rather than a Stage 1 Pokemon. In a pinch, Defensive Posture can stop them, though they are likely to find the Escape Rope. The big thing to consider is that Sableye can OHKO most of your Pokemon on the Bench, such as Bibarel and Zoroark. Hisuian Arcanine barely survives with 10 HP remaining. It’s likely your opponent will have Galarian Zigzagoon to augment that damage. They can also use Echoing Horn to pull a Basic Pokemon from your Discard Pile to Knock Out with Sableye.
Kyurem/Palkia is a good matchup because they don’t have a great way of dealing the Prize trade. You can trade two-for-three against Kyurem VMAX, so it’s likely they’ll attack with Palkia two-for-two. At some point, they’ll go to one Prize card, at which point you can win with Slowbro. The one piece of counterplay you have to be wary of is Radiant Greninja. With that, they can take two Prize cards at the same time, going up in the Prize trade. In some cases, they could even finish the game with Moonlight Shuriken, bypassing your Slowbro turn. One way to prevent this is to Knock Out Greninja with Boss’s Orders. Most lists aren’t playing Ordinary Rod, so once it hits the Discard Pile, you should be safe.
Giratina is the same story as Cramorant/Sableye except with fewer tricks. With no Echoing Horn or Galarian Zigzagoon, they’ll need to use Giratina VSTAR to Knock Out each Hisuian Arcanine. Radiant Greninja is something to be wary of as well, but with no damage modifiers, it should be less of an issue compared to Palkia.
Despite being the end of the format, many new decks emerged and conquered in Baltimore. Radiant Charizard/Inteleon will likely phase out of the meta with more single-Prize decks, but DTE Mew will be popular. Drapion V could be an issue, but with Lost City coming out, it’s possible to mitigate. It’s neat to see innovation happening even after months of the same format.
Lost Origin has certainly shaken up the meta and added plenty of new decks and mechanics to consider. I’m a big fan of what the set has to offer and am excited to keep experimenting with it. Cramorant/Sableye, Hisuian Arcanine and hybrid Lost Zone decks are all effective single-Prize options with lots of versatility and decision-making in each Colress’s Experiment or Flower Selecting.
Hisuian Arcanine is a fun, competitive deck that I’d recommend for players of all skill levels. It’s also a premier budget deck with zero Pokemon V. If you want to learn more about sequencing and mapping how you’ll take your six Prize cards, give this deck a try!