I’m currently experiencing a lot of regret due to my decision to not go to Memphis Regionals. I never really expected to fall in love with a deck in this format until Drew introduce Empoleon Swampert into my life. I know Kian already wrote about this deck but I wanted to give my insight on it given that my list will probably have a few more interesting choices outside of his. With that said, lets just skip the puns and jump right into the decklist.
That’s right, that’s 3 and not just 2. I’m a firm believer that this deck’s success hinges on our ability to Beacon for the first 2 to 3 turns and allow us to setup. We have to be cognizant of what we’re Beaconing for as the game progress’s because we’ll want to make sure we’re emptying our hand for Judge and Cynthia. So let’s say we get an ideal starting board state of Vulpix in the Active and 2 Mudkip and a Piplup on bench with no Rare Candy in hand. In my opinion, this is a situation where we need to get a Marshtomp and another Piplup. My reasoning behind this is that I don’t want to get greedy and I want to make sure that I can play these cards down out of my hand so that Cynthia or Judge nets me more cards. You’ll notice I went for the Marshtomp instead of the Prinplup. This was because I wanted to be sure I can evolve my Pokémon even if my opponent decided to Guzma my lonely Piplup for KO. We’ll also want to make sure we Brooklet or Nest Ball for another Vulpix on bench during the early turns when we expect the Active Vulpix is going to get KO’d. This will put less pressure on us to get to a switch option and will allow us to continue with Beaconing.
We’ll also want to keep Beaconing until our opponent can take two KO’s. Although I know there are times where we must divert from this strategy (Mostly against VikaRay), this strategy needs to be implemented 90% of the time in order to keep Counter Energy a threat as the game progresses into it’s Haymaker state of us taking KO after KO.
1 Alolan Ninetales
This has been a late addition from Drew. With the boosted count of 3 Vulpix, there is bound to be a stray Vulpix on Bench that is yearning to be useful after the Beaconing phase is over. In comes Alolan Ninetales with it’s ability to Safeguard against all GX Pokémon . Sin’ce this is a deck that relies primarily on getting a setup, Alolan Ninetales can bide us time against those pesky GX Pokémon and presumably give us that one turn we need to stream our KO’s back to back. This card alone can also make sure that your Sylveon match up can end in no worse than a tie since you can simply make Alolan Ninetales and look at your opponent since you’ll have 4 Judge, 4 Cynthia, 2 Stretcher, and 1 Palpad for them to play through.
Yup, the full count of 4 Judge. At first this may seem like it’s a poor choice since we need to set up to get what we need and 4 cards just isn’t enough; however, let’s look beyond that and see what benefits we reap from this card’s presence in this deck. First, we get to disrupt our opponent. Denying our opponent a Steven’s Resolve or large hand size can make sure we have more than enough turns to Beacon. Second, Judge plus Beacon can be extremely nutty. This net’s us two extra cards wit hthe potential of our opponent just drawing completely dead. Third, it offers consistency that Lillie couldn’t really provide. Without the presence of Ultra Ball, Lillile can only net us about 2 cards on average. Lillie will also force you to play down a Choice Band or use up a Switch just to net cards. With the strategy presented above with Vulpix, Judge becomes the strong option because you’ll be disrupting your opponent while netting yourself several new cards without wasting resources. Lastly, you’ll increase your odds against Sylveon. With the hype generate from the last Regionals, I’m doing what I can to improve this match up in my favor.
1 Metal Empoleon and 1 Metal Energy
Speaking of Sylveon, this inclusion has been helpful because we can surprise them with a KO since they are likely to not bench another Pokémon to avoid the Guzma switch option. Although this strategy might only be good for Game 1, Game 2 can come down to you playing down Alolan Ninetales and watching them squirm as you progress through your turns and Judge them into Oblivion. Metal Empoleon Also helps to make sure your opponent can’t just use Vikavolt to KO your empoleon and force them to earn an OHKO with GX Pokémon .
That’s actually all the cards I wanted to talk about. This being a last minute article, I wanted to speed through and get through as much as I can for those last minute deck choosers and try to spit as much knowledge as I can. So let’s dive right into the Matchups
Actually before I continue to the Matchups I want to make note of something. DO NOT SLEEP ON SWAMPERT AS AN ATTACKER. Super Boost Energy plus Choice band is 190. Super Boost pls Aqua patch is 180. Aqua Patch plus Counter energy is 140. That plus Choice Band can reach 170 and KO a Tapu Lele GX, not to mention you can KO the likes of Dhelmise and Shining Lugia. More often than not, Swampert will be your finisher as you Guzma up a Tapu Lele GX for Game.
OK now the matchups.
ZoroRoc – Even
I use to think we had the advantage in this matchup but I ended up being wrong about that as I played more games with the deck. Their inherent ability to disrupt you with high counts of Judge and Catcher effects in Lycanroc can hinder our game plan early. However, their only ability to OHKO our Pokémon is to utilize Dangerous Rogue GX which will only net them 1 prize. Our strategy here is bide our time and let them get ahead by 2 to 3 prizes and then sweep the board from there. Taking a KO on a Zoroark and playing a Judge in the same turn will prove extremely valuable since we’ll be disrupting their draw engine and their hand size. Lycanroc with energy should be prioritized to make sure we steal their OHKO potential off their board. Be sure to keep an eye on bench size since Zoroark will need one or both of our damage modifiers for a KO to occur. If Lycanroc doen’t get set up with energy early, try to take out a Zoroark first since that’s when their bench will likely be more populated. If a KO isn’t obtainable on a Zoroark, we can always attempt to Whirlpool and discard an energy off their Zoroark or Lycanroc. This strategy can buy us time and make their Acerola a lot less effective by forcing them to dig for another DCE.
ZoroPod – Even
This matchup can get tricky when the opponent starts to use Armor Press. At this point we need to Guzma around the Golisopod and try to KO their Zoroarks. If this isn’t an option, you’ll have to utilize Whirlpool to rid them of their DCE and keep them in 2HKO territory. You can also evolve to an Alolan Ninetales in this match up to keep Golisopod in KO Range and force them to have Guzma. Although Golisopod has the ability to OHKO Swampert, they’ll still have to answer your OHKO machine in Empoleon. Also, without Lycanroc GX, this deck has less ways to catcher up your Swampert so there is statistically a higher chance of survival.
Malamar Variants – Favorable
I know it’s a little unfair to clump all this vairants together, however, I think the approach to each match up is very similar. The Marshadow Variant has greater ability to OHKO and the Shirne Variant can keep the prize trade even. If we look at the similarities first, we will see that both run Mimkyu. This pesky little Pokémon can easily return a KO on Empoleon so we’ll want to target down Malamars utilize Hydropump when we can. Try not to attack with Swampert if there’s only one established. It’s our main draw engine so we’ll want to avoid losing it if we can. Try to attack with Empoleon only when there are other Piplups or Prinplups on your board so that you have potential to produce another Empoleon. Judge will help in this matchup a lot since they can be somewhat inconsistent at times. This is especially so when we put pressure on their Malamar and disrupt that part of their Board State. If they can’t accelerate energy, they won’t be able to keep up.
The easier of these two variants is the Shrine version simply because the only option for them to OHKO is Mimkyu. It’s as simple as targeting down the Malamar and trying to not let them take more than 2 prizes before we’re able to go on the offensive. It’s a one prize battle so we’ll need more turns to steal the win away from behind with Counter Energy. The Marshadow version can produce OHKOs left and right, but we have the advantage since you can take two prizes per KO. Moon’s Eclipse GX is rarely a factor in this matchup since you fall behind and they are less likely to be behind in prizes. If they do utilize that attack then simply Guzma around it and kill a Malamar. This match up will force us to take 4 KOS instead of an easy 3 because we will need to deal with various one prizers at certain points during the game. Overall, so long as we’re careful and play around Mimkyu and target down Malamars at opportune moments, victory should be ours.
VikaRay – Even
If Vikaray can setup in the early turns then they can rush you very quickly and just OHKO everything you have. If the opponent realizes that Rayquaza is the way to go despite being a 2 prize disadvantage, they’ll be able to KO your Pokémon left and right. If your opponent decides they’ll take the 1 prize route then you’ll be able to buy enough time to try to KO the Vikvolt and stop the bleeding. Essentially this match up will come to trading KO’s back and forth and a Judge having to stick after a KO is taken on. Only go for 1 Swampert in this matchup and hope that it will help you establish a board state that can produce multiple Empoleons asap.
Sylveon – Even
I haven’t playtested too much against this matchup but I think a combination of Judge, Alolan Ninetails, 2 Switch and Metal Empoleon can help us win this matchup. Judge can ruin their Miagical Ribbon and take away their outs. Their consistency is derived from that attack alone so I wholeheartedly believe they have a hard chance of bricking after each judge. With Metal Empoleon, we have the ability to OHKO a Sylveon out of nowhere and since the deck seemingly takes a conservative approach to benching, that single KO can win the game. Simply Aqua Patch to Piplup, evolve to Empleon, and attach Metal Energy and watch them cry. Hitting this combo can be difficult but we can bide our time to get to it with heavy counts of Judge. We can even just go for a 2HKO and just hope the Judge sticks and keeps them out of the game. So this strategy can probably only work in Game 1, So in game two we can evolve into Alolan Ninetales and go through the motions of our turns. Basically flip their Strategy of winning on its head by winning a short game 1 and playing a LOOOOONNNGG game two.
Metagross – Unfavorable
Dhelmise is such a pain going against this matchup. They can OHKO us but we can’t OHKO them and that’s seriously a bad time. The only way we can OHKO is by them having a full bench and we have Professor Kukui and Choice Band. They also need to bench at least 1 Tapu Lele GX for us to have a stronger chance of winning. Luckily for us, this deck tends to not run an alternate non GX attacker so we can take full advantage of Alolan Ninetales in this Matchup to setup all of our KOs and run them out of Max Potions.
BuzzShrine – Favored
This deck only has a few ways to OHKO Empoleon or Swampert and that’s through 4 Prize turn Buzzwole, Weavile, and Garbodor. If they’re running Weavile don’t make more than 2 Swampert. If they’re running Garbodor chase them down early and manage your items accordingly. To deal with the big Buzzwole turn, make sure you have a potential Empoleon set up for the following turn. Let them go ahead two prizes early So that Counter Energy can help you take your early prizes and help you snowball. You will want to Guzma Magcargo up when they’re OHKO threats are gone so you can completely kill their consistency and run away with the game. This strategy in combination with Judge will make sure you have good time and they do not.
Overall, I think this deck is well positioned in the meta right now and has an even or better match across the board. Power Draw just nets you so many cards while only giving up a single prize for such a hard number to KO. I seriously wish I was going to Memphis to play this, but if you’re up late and you read through this extra last minute article then remember that to win a tournament “All you need is a Kip and Chair”.