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Have Your Cake and Eat It Too — Hapu Makes Stage 2 Pokemon Consistent

Hello everyone! The holiday season is here and what better gift than some viable Stage 2s in this format infested with three-Prize monsters? Last time I took a look at Primal Flygon, and today I have two more Stage 2 decks that can surprisingly keep up with our current fast-paced and unforgiving Standard format.

Both of the decks in this article actually make use of Hapu, an overlooked Supporter card that does just what Stage 2s need. Hapu is great for making combos, especially for Stage 2 decks that are hard-pressed to find the Rare Candy plus Stage 2 on turn two. Other draw Supporters such as Professor’s Research and Marnie only allow you to dig if you’re willing to sacrifice your hand, which is antithetical to finding the right combo pieces at one time.

Hapu‘s niche in the format is allowing you to keep your hand while also allowing you to see many more cards off the top.

The decks I’m about to go over are built very similarly, so I can introduce them both without taking too much of your time.

Hydreigon

PTCGO Code
##Pokémon - 19
4 Deino DAA 108
4 Hydreigon DAA 110
2 Zacian V SSH 138
2 Umbreon & Darkrai-GX UNM 125
2 Greninja & Zoroark-GX UNB 107
2 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
2 Crobat V DAA 104
1 Mewtwo & Mew-GX UNM 71
##Trainer Cards - 28
4 Hapu UNM 200
3 Professor's Research SSH 178
4 Rare Candy SSH 180
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
4 Energy Retrieval SUM 116
2 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
2 Cherish Ball UNM 191
1 Evolution Incense SSH 163
##Energy - 13
13 Darkness Energy 7


I conceived this deck when I was thinking about attackers capable of OHKOing anything in the game. Aside from Blacephalon, I realized that there happened to be two Dark-type attackers that could do this too. Both Greninja & Zoroark-GX and Umbreon & Darkrai-GX are Energy-hungry attackers, but they can deal devastating damage. Umbreon & Darkrai’s GX attack is insane.

Greninja & Zoroark GXUmbreon & Darkrai GX

Hydreigon is the only support Pokemon that really makes sense here, as it’s the only way to flood the board with enough Energy to deal with the high-HP opposition in the format. Dark Moon GX is usually the opening move for this deck, as it slows down opponents while also taking an OHKO against any Pokemon in the game. Furthermore, it’s easier to use in the early turns when Greninja & Zoroark’s Dark Pulse isn’t doing enough damage. In some situations, you may need that ace in the hole later, so it can be worthwhile to save Dark Moon GX as well. Hydreigon itself isn’t a horrible attacker depending on the matchup.

In most situations, you’ll just be spamming Dark Pulse for tons of damage. The deck doesn’t have a lot of options for attacking. When you’re able to OHKO everything, that’s all you really need.

The consistency engine of the deck is unique because it utilizes Hapu. Stage 2s have been underplayed and unsuccessful recently, as their consistency issues and overall lack of power render them unable to compete with the frontrunners of the meta. This deck addresses both of those issues. Hapu helps tremendously with setting up the desired Stage 2 while also thinning the deck. I often use Hapu on turn two to complete the combo I need. Zacian’s Intrepid Sword offers a much-needed boost to the early game. turn one Intrepid Sword is extremely important. Dedenne-GX and Crobat V offer much needed draw-power. After all, Hapu is only getting you two cards, so you’ll need more draw-power from the support Pokemon.

Crobat V supplements Hapu as an option that doesn’t force you to get rid of your hand, while Dedenne offers the raw power needed in some situations. You’ll find this paralleled in the Supporter options of Hapu and Professor’s Research.

You can see that the deck is oriented around getting the turn two Stage 2, playing four copies of Deino, Hydreigon, Rare Candy, and various search cards. If you whiff, you’ll be so far behind. The leftover pieces can be conveniently disposed of with the Supporters and Dedenne-GX.

HydreigonRare Candy

The deck also plays no copies of Boss’s Orders. At the end of the day, Boss’s Orders hampers consistency. Although it’s a great card, it’s a luxury that many Stage 2 decks cannot afford. This deck can OHKO anything in the Active spot starting on turn two, so it doesn’t have a huge need for Boss’s Orders.

Mewtwo & Mew offers a few things to the deck. The reason it’s included is because it can use both Dark Moon GX and Dark Pulse, meaning it’s one less Pokemon you need to commit Energy to. Darkrai & Umbreon is incredibly weak after using its GX attack, so the six Energy you commit to it aren’t too useful after that happens. You’ll also have to retreat it, burning two Energy. MewMew doesn’t have either of these issues, so it’s usually better to attack with it.

Mewtwo & Mew’s Psychic typing is handy against Psychic-weak Pokemon such as opposing Mewtwo & Mew, and its lack of Fighting Weakness helps a lot against Coalossal VMAX. It also acts a 270 HP Greninja & Zoroark, which is great against Zacian V. It survives boosted Brave Blades where Greninja & Zoroark would be OHKOed.

Mewtwo & Mew GXMewtwo & Mew GX (Secret)Coalossal VMAXCoalossal VMAX (Secret)

I’ve also included four Energy Retrieval and two Ordinary Rod. The Ordinary Rods are basically just extra Energy Retrievals, though the option to recover Pokemon is occasionally useful. These cards offset the heavy cost of the Supporters and Dedenne-GX, allowing most Pokemon and Energy to be recovered if needed.

The one-of Evolution Incense is simply an extra out to Hydreigon to improve the odds of getting it out by turn two. I’m not completely sure on some counts in the deck, such as only three Research, two Cherish Ball, and the Incense. This is just what I’ve been using, and it seems to be fine, though it’s possible some other combination is optimal.

I included 13 Darkness Energy so that it isn’t too much of a stretch to KO all Pokemon VMAX with Dark Pulse. I wanted enough Energy to do that, but no more because Energy Retrieval simply has more value otherwise.

Matchups

ADPZ – Favorable

Umbreon & Darkrai-GX is huge in this matchup. Since Dark Moon GX locks all Trainers, the opponent will have no way to actually take a KO on the following turn, which allows the Hydreigon deck to win the Prize trade more often than not. Dark Pulse easily KOs everything in one shot However, ADPZ is still broken, and Hydreigon is a Stage 2 deck. It’s possible to stumble a bit and lose, but the matchup is in Hydreigon’s favor.

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GXArceus & Dialga & Palkia GX (Full Art)Zacian VZacian V (Full Art)

Eternatus – Even

This matchup can go either way. Both decks are capable of OHKOing each other, and both use three-Prize attackers. They have Boss’s Orders to work with, a slight edge in consistency, and the ever-annoying Marnie disruption, but you have Dark Moon GX’s Trainer-lock, which is not to be underestimated.

Dark Moon GX is best utilized in this matchup on a turn where it can make it most difficult for the Eternatus player to take a KO on their following turn. For example, if you use Dark Moon GX on turn two, it’s unlikely that they’ll find the pieces to hit for 270 without access to Trainers. From there, you can win the Prize trade by taking two consecutive KOs with Dark Pulse.

Eternatus VMAXEternatus VMAX (Secret)

Coalossal – Slightly Favorable

Coalossal has the type advantage here, but they still won’t be able to OHKO Mewtwo & Mew unless they have four Energy on a Coalossal VMAX and Martial Arts Dojo’s full effect in play. This is one matchup where saving Dark Moon GX can be good, as Stone Energy make OHKOing with Dark Pulse no easy task. Hydreigon is sometimes the best attacker for the early game, but it’s completely dependent on the situation. Sometimes you want to apply pressure without endangering a three-Prize attacker.

Coalossal VCoalossal V (Full Art)Coalossal VMAXCoalossal VMAX (Secret)

LMZ – Very Favorable

Hydreigon wipes the floor with LMZ. There isn’t much to say. They cannot OHKO your attackers, and you should always OHKO theirs. Hydreigon accelerates tons of Energy and the deck plays plenty of it. There’s no issues here.

Galarian StunfiskLucario & Melmetal GXZacian VZamazenta V

Centiskorch – Favorable

Definitely save Dark Moon GX here. Unless you’re sure you’ll be able to OHKO a Centiskorch VMAX with Dark Pulse, it’s best to have Dark Moon GX to deal with it. The Trainer-lock effect also prevents them from making a reasonable response, and you’ll steamroll them from there.

Cramorant V is a little annoying because it can snipe off Hydreigon, but it’s not a huge issue. Just be sure to keep an extra Deino in play and evolve into another Hydreigon whenever possible. Cramorant V is easy enough to take down as long as they can’t completely deny Hydreigon from coming into play.

Centiskorch VCentiskorch V (Full Art)Centiskorch VMAXCentiskorch VMAX (Secret)

Pikarom – Unfavorable

Hydreigon has no way out of paralysis, which makes Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX a huge problem. The matchup isn’t terrible, but it’s in Pikarom’s favor. Additionally, they play high counts of Marnie, which is annoying and can slow down Hydreigon by at least a turn if they use it at the right time.

Pikachu & Zekrom GXPikachu & Zekrom GX (Full Art)Pikachu & Zekrom GX (Secret)Pikachu & Zekrom GX

Alcremie VMAX

The next deck is one I’ve spent a little more time on. Let’s look.

PTCGO Code

##Pokémon - 22
4 Porygon UNB 155
4 Porygon-Z UNB 157
3 Alcremie V CPA 22
3 Alcremie VMAX CPA 23
2 Zacian V SSH 138
2 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
2 Crobat V DAA 104
1 Ninetales V RCL 26
1 Cobalion-GX TEU 106
##Trainer Cards - 20
4 Professor's Research SSH 178
4 Hapu UNM 200
4 Rare Candy SSH 180
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
##Energy - 18
4 Recycle Energy UNM 212
4 Horror Psychic Energy RCL 172
4 Capture Energy RCL 171
3 Aurora Energy SSH 186
2 Weakness Guard Energy UNM 213
1 Psychic Energy 5

This deck is built very similarly to Hydreigon, and it works almost the same. Many of the card counts are similar because this deck has the same emphasis on consistency, which is traditionally one of the biggest hurdles for Stage 2 decks. Once it’s set up, its power is terrifying. One major difference is that this deck gets access to Capture Energy instead of Cherish Ball, which is a huge boost for the early-game because it can search out key Pokemon like Zacian V and the evolving Basic (in this case, Porygon), unlike Cherish Ball.

Because this deck has an attacker that evolves, it demands more Pokemon on turn one than Hydreigon. With Hydreigon, a Deino and Zacian V on turn one would suffice, but this deck needs Alcremie V in addition to Porygon and Zacian.

Another difference is that this deck plays more Energy cards instead of Energy Retrieval. Aside from the obvious fact that Energy Retrieval just doesn’t work with this deck, Recycle Energy offers the added value that Energy Retrieval provided in the Hydreigon deck.

Often, you’ll be attacking exclusively with Alcremie VMAX, which easily OHKOs every Pokemon in the game, with the only exceptions being walls like Zamazenta V and Decidueye. Porygon-Z is the only usable partner for Alcremie VMAX, as it easily keeps up with Alcremie’s heavy-cost attack when combined with Recycle Energy.

Ninetales V is a great tech for this deck. It annihilates Metal-types, which Alcremie VMAX is weak against. This is particularly relevant against Zamazenta V, which could otherwise destroy this deck all on its own. Even if Zamazenta has Coating Energy, Ninetales still deals a ton of damage and doesn’t need to worry about getting OHKOed back. There are other cool things you can do with Ninetales in specific scenarios. For example, copying Altered Creation GX on turn two can keep you in the game if you whiffed the KO with Alcremie VMAX. If you’re okay with taking the loss to Zamazenta, you could run an Evolution Incense in this spot instead for extra consistency.

Cobalion-GX offers some protection against Poison Eternatus and Raichu & Alolan Raichu, both of which would otherwise be huge problems.

I’m still torn about the one Psychic Energy. The discard effect of Aurora Energy is a lot more painful than it looks, so I opted for one copy of Psychic Energy instead of a fourth Aurora in order to alleviate this. However, a fourth Aurora makes it a lot easier to attack with Zacian or Ninetales, which is important in the Prize trade from time to time, especially against decks like Poison Eternatus.

This deck’s games mostly come down to how badly you get hit by random Marnie, as it would be nearly unbeatable if its hand were never disrupted.

Matchups

ADPZ – Favorable

This matchup can go either way. If Alcremie VMAX starts taking OHKOs on turn two when going first, it’s an easy win. Even going second, things generally turn out alright if you get set up quickly. However, much like any deck against ADPZ, if you miss a beat just once it’s over. For a high-maintenance Stage 2 deck, this is definitely within the realm of possibility.

Another factor is Crushing Hammer, which can remove Weakness Guard Energy. Fortunately, ADPZ burns through the deck quickly, so they’re less likely to have Crushing Hammers available later when they need them.

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GXArceus & Dialga & Palkia GX (Full Art)Zacian VZacian V (Full Art)

Eternatus – Favorable

As a VMAX with an unlimited damage cap, Alcremie has a total advantage against Eternatus. The opponent can still win if they play well and get a little lucky with Marnie. Eternatus has the edge in consistency and has Boss’s Orders, but they still can’t OHKO Alcremie VMAX and must deal with the pressure of constant OHKOs.

Eternatus VMAXEternatus VMAX (Secret)

Coalossal – Slightly Favorable

Alcremie completely destroys Coalossal and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Coalossal VCoalossal V (Full Art)Coalossal VMAXCoalossal VMAX (Secret)

LMZ – Very Favorable

This matchup has a lot going on, and it’s losable. Energy disruption from Crushing Hammer, Full Metal Wall GX, and even Assault Tackle are all annoying. They can remove Weakness Guard from Alcremie and Aurora from Ninetales. Marnie disruption is also a pain to deal with.

What gives Alcremie the edge in this matchup is its relative speed and ability to OHKO everything in one shot. You’re going to blow up their Active quickly, and they are usually too slow to muster up a response. They’ll inevitably use Zamazenta V, which can be dealt with by using Ninetales V. Overall, this matchup very much comes down to how the cards fall, as there are lots of factors that can play a role.

Galarian StunfiskLucario & Melmetal GXZacian VZamazenta V

Centiskorch – Favorable

This matchup is basically the same as it is for Hydreigon. Alcremie has the advantage because it can easily OHKO everything, but you need to be wary of Cramorant V. Be sure to prepare an extra Porygon. If you only have one in play, you’ll get punished for it because it will get sniped by Spit Shot. This has a snowball effect due to the turn delay required for evolving, and each Porygon will be systematically picked off.

Although Alcremie naturally thins the deck out quite well, it’s particularly important to do against decks that play Reset Stamp. Since this deck doesn’t play Boss’s Orders, they’ll always be able to Stamp you to one. Intrepid Sword can bail you out of this, but it only matters if you already have Zacian in play and aren’t on a strict timer.

Centiskorch VCentiskorch V (Full Art)Centiskorch VMAXCentiskorch VMAX (Secret)

Pikarom – Unfavorable

The Marnie spam and fast pressure makes this matchup unfavorable. Most lists also play Crushing Hammer, which can render Cobalion-GX useless by removing Aurora Energy. Alcremie VMAX does take OHKOs without being OHKOed in return, but their disruption often prevents Alcremie from doing anything at all. Even if things go well at the beginning, there’s still Reset Stamp to deal with. This matchup is far from unwinnable, but Pikarom always has the advantage.

Pikachu & Zekrom GXPikachu & Zekrom GX (Full Art)Pikachu & Zekrom GX (Secret)Pikachu & Zekrom GX

Conclusion

Thanks for reading everyone! These decks are fun, powerful, and not too difficult to pick up and play. They’re just as good as anything else in the meta, so I recommend giving them a shot. I’d say their biggest weakness is random Marnie luck, but they still work well overall.

Discussion

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