Hello, once again, readers! I’ve been busy the past couple weeks with the end of my semester; school doesn’t seem to ever slow down, especially when approaching final exams and projects. I bet you all can relate, whether it’s additional school or work in anticipation of the holidays. For that reason, Pokemon hasn’t been the number one thing on my mind lately, so apologies if my thoughts are a bit all over the place. Nonetheless, I wish you all happy holidays and let’s dive into some Pokemon.
In truth, I wasn’t too sure what to write this article about. The largest problem to overcome in content creation is finding something new to talk about. And this issue exists even when there are Regionals happening every other weekend! With so many great writers here at CFB, it’s pointless to reiterate a deck that was talked about less than a month ago, considering that decklist updates have slowed down since the release of Fusion Strike. Moreover, the greatest points of repeat are in the “how to play” and matchups sections, which remain relatively stagnant unless the archetype is modified heavily. Alex Schemanske’s Duraludon VMAX / Zoroark deck, Meloetta vs. Latias / Mew VMAX, and Melony vs. Darkness Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX are prime examples of sufficient modification.
The second point of friction is the unrivaled BDIF, Mew VMAX. It has become the new center of the format, automatically nullifying a deck’s viability should it have a decently unfavorable matchup against it. These formats are interesting because you can either play the BDIF, play a counter to the BDIF or play a different deck that is slightly unfavorable to the BDIF, but has decent matchups against other decks. In some formats (such as when ADPZ was BDIF) there doesn’t exist a deck that has an autowin vs. the BDIF, but instead there are only decks with slightly favorable matchups against it, but struggle against a few decks elsewhere. In this format, Galarian Moltres / Hoopa is extremely favorable against Mew and can also hold its own vs. other decks. Jolteon is an example of a deck with an even or slightly favorable matchup against Mew but has unfavorable matchups elsewhere.
So where did this leave me, if not writing about an old deck and not yet having a new deck to write about? Coming up with a new deck, of course! And as it turns out, this is much easier said than done. But so I went, combing through Tord’s recent list of top 10 decks, recent articles and spending hours searching for that mystery card on Limitless TCG’s advanced search that would give rise to a new archetype. Here’s how my journey went, step-by-step.
The first thing I noticed was the format’s reliability on Special Energy. Single Strike and Rapid Strike and entirely dependent on their Special Energy and Fusion Strike as well, though to a lesser degree. And besides those decks, Jolteon is also incredibly reliant on Special Energy because four of its six Energy cards are Speed Lightning Energy. Finally, because of Meloetta’s increase in popularity in Mew, those lists have cut down on Energy in exchange for a faster engine. Tord’s previous iteration included 10 Energy, but the most recent version only includes seven. Dusknoir could be a very strong card when put into the right deck.
My next idea was to look for a Pokemon VMAX that could trade evenly with Mew but find a OHKO at some point in the game to swing the prize trade. The only one I could find that isn’t already a deck was Chandelure VMAX, on the basis that Fusion Strike plays many Trainer cards. (There’s a good reason it isn’t a deck!) The issue I quickly realized is that despite the many Trainer cards, they are turn-and-burn cards, so their hand size can be easily regulated, at least enough to put Mew VMAX outside of OHKO range with Max Poltergeist. The greatest argument for it was that they’d draw an average of two Trainer cards off three Prize cards taken, meaning only three (or two with Leon) in the hand to get a return OHKO. Perhaps there’s some viability here, but this deck certainly wasn’t the solution I was looking for.
Inspired by Alex Schemanske’s Duraludon / Zoroark deck, I looked at Zoroark variants myself. As you might expect, the pool of viable Stage 1s is quite small. I was looking for Fighting/Psychic/Darkness-type Stage 1 Pokemon that could swing for 160 damage or near that amount, to OHKO a VMAX with a Weakness to that type. The best I came up with was a Single Strike box deck, with Zoroark fueling additional ways of finding Houndoom and the small benefit of Abomasnow. Single Strike already has Morpeko and Stonjourner as reliable ways to do 160 damage, both requiring two Houndoom in play to power up in a single turn. This only left me with Psychic-type remaining, which can be solved with Deoxys.
##Pokémon - 21 4 Houndour BST 95 4 Houndoom BST 96 2 Zorua EVS 102 2 Zoroark EVS 103 2 Umbreon V EVS 94 2 Umbreon VMAX EVS 95 2 Stonjourner BST 84 1 Morpeko FST 179 1 Deoxys PR-SW 170 1 Abomasnow CRE 10 ##Trainer Cards - 30 4 Professor's Research SSH 178 4 Marnie CPA 56 2 Boss's Orders RCL 154 4 Urn of Vitality BST 139 4 Quick Ball SSH 179 4 Great Ball EPO 93 3 Evolution Incense SSH 163 3 Air Balloon SSH 156 2 Tower of Darkness BST 137 ##Energy - 9 4 Single Strike Energy BST 141 4 Capture Energy RCL 171 1 Fusion Strike Energy FST 244
As you can see, despite it being a new take on the deck, the list quickly devolved into your favorite Single Strike decklist with some cards changed around. Let’s go over some of the reasons why that happened. First, the Single Strike engine plus Zoroark takes up many spots in the deck. This puts a major constraint on versatility, specifically with the other attackers. It doesn’t make sense to heavily focus on the Deoxys package when its only for one or two matchups and further clunks up the list. The inclusion of Abomasnow is cool because it takes these Pokemon outside of G-Max Rapid Flow range – but that’s the only thing it does. Other decks do enough damage to blast through the additional 50 HP, whether it be for a OHKO on a Basic Pokemon or 2HKO on Umbreon VMAX.
In the end, this idea turned out to be rather lackluster too. One of the greatest benefits seen time and time again for multi-Prize Pokemon is the additional decklist space they free up. Because each Pokemon gives up additional Prize cards, fewer attackers are needed, freeing up space elsewhere in the list. Here, the compensation for Single Strike Urshifu VMAX requires all the spots gained. It isn’t smart to reinvent the wheel.
If attacking Stage 1s won’t do the trick, then what will? The answer, unsurprisingly, is control Stage 1s. At this point, I was being led down the dark path of reinventing control, which is even more difficult than reinventing the wheel for a traditional deck! Still up to the task, I concocted my version without a guide and then compared it against the most recent list that the control expert, Sander Wojcik, had posted on Twitter. The version I had made focused on removing the opponent’s Energy in successive fashion, using Klara and Zoroark as a means of recycling Seaking to attack with. I still had the thin Dusknoir line, Morpeko, Cinccino, etc. – the control essentials – but with a lesser focus on stalling with Boss’s Orders. The other component I removed was Zacian V. I thought that the deck was already fragile enough and by adding a two-Prize Pokemon, I’d be giving the opponent an additional Prize for the same amount of Energy cards.
Slightly unhappy with where my concoction of control and quick Energy removal ended up, I scrapped it and considered the foundation of my deck: Dusknoir. This card was the sole reason I started looking for ways of countering the meta. The greatest beauty from Sander’s list is how every card has a nameable purpose and the count of each card being justifiable. After all, including an additional copy of one card would mean removing something else that’s perhaps more important. However, the single downside of a perfectly concocted, widespread list is that it can be sometimes too spread thin. This line of thinking led me to create this, which did not require years of control experience to materialize.