Hello, readers! After a few months hanging out, I’m back once again to provide some of my initial findings on the “Worlds” format we have all recently dove into with our testing groups. The World Championship this year is really unique in that it is being played in a format that we have never actually seen in sanctioned tournament play before – this means that our first experience in the format will actually be at the World Championship itself. This is a pretty unprecedented and innovative step for the game, and with it comes the opportunity to showcase the game’s most forward-thinking deck builders. Many ideas will be represented at this year’s World Championship, and as a result, testing groups and teams worldwide are hard at work already, testing with proxies and Skype in an effort to break a format that nobody can even conceptualize yet.
So, why am I writing this article? Well, I’ve done a fair amount of testing and theorizing in the new format, and I wanted to offer a primer of my knowledge to anyone just taking their first steps into the new format for free. I love providing the community with my knowledge at no cost, and I think I can pump out a few pages on next format fundamentals in case you haven’t started testing too much yet, or are gearing up to start getting your Worlds decks in order in the coming days. The information in this article are just some of the nuances of the format I have found to be true so far through hours of testing and talking with teammates and friends alike. I do hope you get some value out of this!
Fundamental Principles of Worlds Format
Over time, I and many other people in the game have been able to identify some fundamental principles of Worlds format. Obviously, moving forward we will have to play without some important cards for Pokemon search like Ultra Ball and Nest Ball; the loss of these cards makes set-up a pretty perilous task for a lot of decks. If a deck can’t function with Ultra Space, Mysterious Treasure, Electromagnetic Radar, or Cherish Ball, it’s generally hard for a set up deck ( adeck reliant on evolutions with a fair degree of moving parts required to execute its strategy) to get, well, set up. We have a universal form of Pokemon search in Pokemon Communication, which is great but comes at the small cost of having to return a Pokemon from your hand to the deck. Running small numbers of Pokemon, such as those seen in Reshiram & Charizard TTGX decks, makes Pokemon Communication a much less viable card in these types of decks (depending on build.) As a result, being able to efficiently use the limited Pokemon search options we have is one of my first fundamentals of the new format: have a way to search for what you need. The most powerful one here is Electromagnetic Radar, which ultimately gives Pikachu & Zekrom Tag Team GX decks an automatic leg up on the rest of the competition. However, decks that can efficiently use Cherish Ball (which will be plentiful,) and Mysterious Treasure or Ultra Space will certainly have viability just by virtue of being able to set up a board quicker thanks to these searching options.
On top of the loss of search, this is the first time in a long time where we have not had a reliable “gusting” option available to us in the form of a single card. “Gusting” refers to being able to move one of your opponent’s Pokemon from their bench to their active through the use of a single card. Instead, we now have gusting in a few forms, notably Ninetales TEU and Custom Catcher. Ninetales TEU is a Fire-type, Stage 1 Pokemon that allows you to discard two Fire energy from hand in order to move one of your opponent’s Pokemon from the bench to the active position. This is obviously a powerful effect in that Fire decks often run huge energy lines, the ability to search Fire energy, and the ability to retrieve them from the discard pile. Fire currently has all three of those tools in Worlds format, ans as such, Ninetales TEU should receive plenty of consideration heading into Worlds format.
Custom Catcher, on the other hand, may be a little easier for most decks to play efficiently. A lot of what made Guzma such a tremendously powerful card was the fact that you could switch one of your own benched Pokemon into the active as well. In a format with limited options as far as making retreating easier, Guzma provided two incredibly strong effects in one, and as a result, really made decks that had efficient energy cost attackers shine even more than they already could. Enter Custom Catcher: a consistency card in a sense and a gusting option all in one. To maximize the effect of Custom Catcher, you’ll need to play two at once, but doing so provides us with the powerful gusting effects we have come to experience as a part of our game.
Have a way to gust your opponent’s Pokemon, even if it might not necessarily fit in your deck. Gusting effects are too crucial to have included in a deck to ignore, even if our current gusting effects aren’t as consistent as the ones we have had before it. You simply cannot let your opponent just have whatever support Pokemon they want on their bench, and you cannot let them retreat out of damaged Tag Team GX Pokemon without being threatened. You will need a way to bring these threats into the active to KO them. Custom Catcher is a staple in any offensive deck going forward because the disruption and implications of late game gust or additional draw off of a Reset Stamp are too vital to ignore. I’m playing 4 everywhere.
So, we’ve lost Field Blower, which was a vital tool for removing, well, tools, from the playing field. As a result, Tool cards got a humongous buff which has made them so extremely powerful to put into play. Cards like Spell Tag, Shedinja LOT, Dragon Talon, Fairy Charm, Choice Helmet, and more have gotten large upgrades in viability due to the fact that there are only a few outs to tool removal/deactivation in format in the forms of Lysandre Labs, Farfetch’d and Dangerous Drill. Without having a copy of these cards in deck, your opponent will have a very hard time dealing with the spread damage of a Spell Tag or two, or even dealing any damage to a Fairy-type equipped with just the perfect Fairy Charm.
Tools have an insane amount of utility, and it looks like things are becoming pretty polarizing surrounding them: either find the best tools to fit into your deck, or have a way to shut them off or remove them. Tools have long been a bit of an underpowered part of decks just based on the ease at which they were removed in past formats, but now with no clear check to them, it becomes so important to understand how the present menu of tools impacts your current 60 cards and how those interactions can make life miserable for executing your core strategy and taking all 6 prizes. A single Fairy Charm can derail an entire PikaRom deck if they aren’t running Lysandre Labs or Mew & Mewtwo Tag Team GX. A Choice Helmet can throw off your math all game long, and Spell Tags can add an extra 160 damage to a board over the course of a game. Simply put, Tools are of vital importance and you need to consider the tools that the different anticipated Tier 1 and 2 decks could be playing when figuring out how to spend your last few deck slots.
I don’t mean Oranguru (though it is helpful against Shedninja LOT!) I mean, how are you using all 60 cards in your deck to win this game? How smart is it to Dedechange that opening hand away? Where are our attachments going? I think in this format especially, good resource management will be paramount to success in the format. Our main draw engine and early-game set up card seems to be Dedenne-GX, which is a very powerful card and still a liability due to the presence of Custom Catcher. Dedenne-GX is going to create some awkward situations in games where we have to throw away useful cards in order to dig for a KO or some additional early game set up.
I believe it is of vital importance to really understand what your opponent can throw at you, map your prizes (which means to determine based on board state or prior knowledge of your opponent’s archetype where your 6 prizes will come from this game,) and to really understand the best play for what the situation and matchup calls for. Understanding what your deck can do, how you’ll ultimately win the game, and the cards you’ll need to get there is what I’m getting at as a prime fundamental here, and something that players should be familiar with anyway. Mapping prizes and resource management is what separates the good players from the great players, so understanding where your prizes will come from and how you will get to that state in the game would be the last early fundamental to remember when testing decks in this current format.
Well, there you have it! These four fundamentals are really good starting points for any new player or anyone just venturing out into Worlds format play testing to start with when deciding how to build a deck or determining the last few spots in what they are going to play. Identifying key search cards, choosing a potential gusting effect, addressing the tools you will use or how you’ll work around opposing tools, and sound resource management are four strong fundamentals of Worlds format deck building that I believe will help anyone make at least a solid version of whatever Worlds format deck they are starting with. For what it’s worth, my current Tier 1 looks like Reshiram & Charizard, Pikachu & Zekrom, Malamar Giratina variants including Garchomp & Giratina TTGX, and Dark Box (Weavile GX and the new Dark TTGX friends.) I hope everyone has an awesome time testing this exciting new format, and I look forward to playing more and discovering more for another writing piece before Worlds.
Also, if you haven’t heard, I now stream daily on Twitch at twitch.tv/peezy5. Come stop by and have a conversation with me if you get the itch! Things will really pick up for my channel once Unified Minds hits the streets. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already @peezyptcg. I love providing any free information, decklists, and new ideas I can to anyone who wants to collaborate with me. Thanks so much for the support and thank you for reading! Best of luck and catch you in DC!
Carl “Peezy” Barone