Hey, Some1sPC readers it is that time of the season when tournaments cease and we all begin to test a brand new format without any tournament reports to help us. That is what we are going to be here for, to bring you lists and what we have been doing in our testing so that you can get different viewpoints on how some of the matchups are going to go. This article is going to be a little different from the other articles that we normally do. I am going to begin doing a new type of article that is basically a blog or journal where me and someone else on Some1sPC pair up to test and bring you all the content about how our testing has been going. These will be released every day or two with updates about what I tested that day, what cards I took out of my decks and added in, how I feel matchups go and what I believe to be the optimal way to go about playing that matchup. They will be a little bit shorter but there are going to be a lot of them coming. This information is going to be from me testing different decks for a minimum of five hours a day trying to get the best results. There will not be any game that I do not record in order to get the best results for you as readers. Some articles will be about very specific matchups where I might test the same match all day and then others like the one I will be doing today is going to be about multiple different decks trying to figure out what the Meta might actually be like. I hope you are as excited as I am to figure out what the best deck for Worlds is going to be.
In order to start testing the cards coming out in the new set I felt like I needed to have a foundation for what the top decks already are. If a new deck does not beat the already proven top decks of the format then I do not think it is going to be a good contender for Worlds. The top decks in my eyes are in no specific order; Golisopod/Zoroark, Buzzwole/Lycanroc, Malamar and Zoroark/Garb. The new powerhouse decks that I think could be good at first glance are; Shiftry GX, Rayquaza GX, Scizor GX and Stakataka GX. There are obviously other contenders that might pop up throughout our testing but we have to start somewhere in order to get a foundation. We have just over a month until Worlds and the Nashville Open, so we can try anything and everything that pops into our heads.
Now that the boring introduction is over, let’s jump into what actually happened in my testing this weekend. I wanted to start off with what was probably the most hyped card of the new set and for good reason.
For those of you who do not know what Rayquaza GX does it has 180 HP and does 30 damage for each of your basic Grass and Lighting Energy that you have in play. It is a typical Rayquaza card that is just trying to do a ton of damage really fast. The Ability also allows you to attach a basic Energy from the discard pile to Rayquaza when you play it onto you Bench. This card is an absolute powerhouse and proved so by winning the Japan National Championships. There is no doubt that this card is extremely strong, it is just a matter of how strong this 180 HP glass cannon is going to be. Unfortunately, we cannot even use the Japan Nationals list to start off our testing because for us it is an Expanded deck. I started off very basic and have just been testing a list that is built to go fast and be as consistent as possible. There will be an article coming soon on Some1sPC if you want to read specifically about the card and how we feel it should be run, for the integrity of this article I am just going to talk to you about my testing with the card.
This is the list that I began with
- 7 Lightning Energy
- 7 Grass Energy
This is my first draft of the deck and so far it has actually been testing very consistently. These initial couple of days of testing have produced some interesting results that I will be looking at moving forward. First off in the Pokémon line I have found that Latias Prism Star has been the most broken card in the deck. If this card is prized or I discard it from Rayquaza’s Ability then I already feel like I am in a bad position. Second is that although Resource Management Oranguru has been decent it seems to be unnecessary because all we want to do is go as fast as possible and win in the first few turns of the game. The issue with taking it out is that we need more good starters in the deck. Starting Rayquaza is not very good and Tapu Lele GX is obviously never the optimal starter. I would only take Resource Management Oranguru out if we are going to add in another one prize Pokémon that is not horrible to start with.
The Trainers that I am iffy on are Acro Bike and the triple Parallel City might be a little too much. The Acro Bike initially seems like an amazing card because we want to put Energy in the discard and keep going through our deck as fast as possible. Where it gets tricky is when we have two extremely important cards and we have to make a decision, usually what happened was I had to pick between Latias Prism Star and something that I needed that turn. Obviously, that is a hard decision because if I need Float Stone or Choice Band that turn but Latias is something that I usually need every game and if I discard it I will never be able to get it back. My solution to that dilemma so far has been, “Well I am playing Ray lets go for it.” and I end up discarding the Latias. Parallel City is something that theoretically helps a ton against Zoroark thanks to limiting their bench and never letting them knock us out. I have found that they just clog my hand because I am trying to go through my deck so fast and beat them before they are even able to set up. The other issue with the card is that from testing Zoroark seems like an amazing matchup without needing Parallel City to try and disrupt them. I would not take the card out completely because I believe that it is needed to prevent our opponents from locking their own Parallel City in play. A Trainer that I want to try next is the addition of Exp. Share. I think that because Rayquaza is a fragile attacker and we need to conserve our Energy that having an Exp. Share or two could be amazing to win the game. It forces our opponent to have a Field Blower on the same turn that they knock us out. I will most likely be adding that in and talking about it later down the road.
I started off by testing Rayquaza against Jimmy’s Golisopod/Zoroark list that placed in the Top 4 at NAIC. What I found was that they have no way of keeping up with Rayquaza. I only tested six games of this matchup but they all ended the same and Ray won 6-0. I was consistent enough so that they could not punish my dead draws and I was typically going off turn one and turn two with anywhere between six and eight Energies on my field during those turns, they just could not keep up. A strategy I used and found to be good in Ray was that if they did not have a GX in play like they normally do on the first turn or two of the game then I would just bring up Latias and set up more Energy. There is not actually a reason to kill Zorua or Wimpod in the matchup. It is much more important to just have as many Energy on board as possible and take three GX knockouts in three different turns. We never want to get into the trap of getting Ned to one and dead drawing from there after they knockout a Rayquaza. The only game that I almost lost was when I did not respect Delinquent and he used Delinquent to put me down to a zero card hand. I still won because I had enough Energy on the field to take two prizes and drew into some action. It was close, however, when you are playing Rayquaza it usually is not something that is on your mind because you just want to blow them up as quick as possible.
Now that I found out that Rayquaza has a really good matchup against Golisopod I decided to try the other deck that I think is still one of the best decks and one that got even better thanks to this new set. I decided to take the Buzzwole list that did the best at NAIC and add in the one Stakataka that I think will be amazing in this deck. The person who piloted Buzzroc to the best finish at NAIC was Ahmed Ali. I am very happy that his list was the one I was copying because he already had the Field Blower in the deck that I have wanted to play.
The only thing is that in the match I tested this weekend, Stakataka GX was not really that good. Rayquaza just does so much damage that they are not concerned about needing to do 10 more. This is a matchup that we will be talking about a lot and testing a lot for the next month. It was extremely close every game and I felt like it could swing either way at any time. What I found though was that Buzzwole was slightly favored winning four games to Rayquaza’s three. Typically what happened was Rayquaza would have an explosive turn one and get a ton of Energy on the board and Buzzwole would just get a big hit off on the first turn. If Buzzwole had a Guzma to do damage to a benched Rayquaza that had a couple Energy on it then that was the most optimal play, it did not happen very often though. Rayquaza would then come up and completely overkill a Baby Buzzwole and now it was Buzzwole’s turn to respond or lose.
has damage on it then we can bring up another Baby Buzzwole and get the knockout wiping three Energy off of their field. If we did not do that then usually our turn two attack is almost always Dangerous Rogue. If we have a Strong Energy and a Diancie Prism Star on the field then we are able to knock it out very easily because Rayquaza will almost always have three Benched Pokémon down. If we are able to knock out the Rayquaza early with Dangerous Rogue then now they have to be able to get the return knockout which they usually cannot. This is when they have to bring up Latias and try to get their Energy back. This gives Lycanroc free reign to get another knockout on a benched Rayquaza. This is obviously what the optimal turns for Buzzwole look like and in three of the games that is what happened. The fourth game that Buzz won was when Rayquaza was able to get the return knockout on Lycanroc. Buzzwole did not have any Energy out and needed to hit the Beast Rings in order to keep up. When they did, they only got one Beast Ring on a Buzzwole GX and then an easy knockout on the Rayquaza leaving only two Energy on the field. The games that Rayquaza won were when Buzzwole did not get the Dangerous Rogue off and one Rayquaza GX took three prizes off of Baby Buzzwoles while still keeping all their Energies on the field, and when Buzzwole was unable to get their Beast Rings on the turn that they needed them. This match is really close and it really all comes down to who can keep up the aggression. I am excited to test a ton of games with this matchup because games are usually really quick and we can really get a lot of them in.
Let’s shift from Ray to Buzzwole really quick so I can talk about this addition to the deck. The reason Buzzwole was such a good card and a good deck was because attacking a Baby Buzzwole and being able to one shot it was extremely hard and the deck played three or four of them. Zoroark decks were adding in Reverse Valley just to be able to hit that 130 HP number that was so important to do in order to beat Buzzwole. We are now adding something that basically gives Baby Buzzwole 140 HP which is out of range of Zoroark. Reverse Valley is no longer going to be an out and instead, they will have to be adding in Professor Kukui to try and knock them out. That is not something that most Zoroark decks want to do.
Rayquaza seems really good at this point and I am getting pretty excited to play it more until I started playing against Zoroark/Garbodor. This is a deck that just won NAIC and is definitely going to still be played for Worlds. This was such a bad matchup for Ray. The ideal situation to beat Garb is to try and conserve your Items so that Trashalanche does not to a lot of damage, the issue is that we do not get to control what cards we discard from the top of our deck every time we use Rayquaza’s Ability. We also have a very high count of Items and Garbodor will usually run through us. If they get a Garbotoxin out we are also not able to recover Energy as well because we cannot use Rayquaza’s Ability. I did however only play four games of this matchup and won one of them because of Resource Management Oranguru. What I decided to try was to just go all in on getting Energy on the field. Play down a Parallel City and Resource Management as many Items back into my deck as possible. I was able to effectively do this and won because I only had two Items in my discard by the time they could finally knock out the Oranguru. That is when I decided to keep the Resource Management Oranguru in the deck. It seems like a strategy that I will need to try more but it was very effective in the one game I tried it.
Next, I decided to take a break from Rayquaza and wanted to try out another new deck in Shiftry GX. I believe that Zoroark is one of the best partners for Shiftry and running it similar to how Zoroark/Gardevoir use to run is the best place to start with this deck. I took the list that Russell tested against Israel a few days ago and changed a couple cards. For those of you who did not see that here is the list.
- 4 Double Colorless Energy
- 5 Grass Energy
After the games that I have played with this deck I feel that it has been extremely strong and I think it has a lot of potential but we need to work on the Shiftry line a little bit. I think that we have too thick of a line and it is causing the deck to clunk a little too much. Nuzleaf has been horrible and will definitely be coming out for something else. I also think that dropping it down to a 3-0-2-1 Shiftry line with one of the Baby Shiftry is going to be the optimal way of running it and I will most likely be trying that during the next time we test it.
I started out by testing this deck against Golisopod/Zoroark just like I did with Rayquaza and I was pleasantly surprised by the potential that it had. It obviously was not as dominant as Ray but I was able to finish with an even record of two wins and two losses against the deck. The games that Shiftry lost were because I could not get Shiftry out and I was trying to play a Zoroark Mirror where they play Max Potion and Acerola in order to dominate the match. The games that I won were because I got the Shiftry out and set up on the first couple turns of the game and then attached a Choice Band and started knocking everything out. Shiftry having 240 HP makes it so you will take four prizes before they are able to take any. When we do that we win the game. We are also a deck that is similar to Zoroark/Lycanroc and we need to attach two Energies in order to use our big attack. The difference is we trade the Dangerous Rogue GX as a two Energy attack for a one Energy attack that automatically Confuses our opponent’s Pokémon, which comes in handy in one of the other matchups that we tested against. I noticed while playing that we have to make this deck as consistent as possible in order to keep up with the other Zoroark Variants. I believe that if we get out two Shiftry GX during a game they do not stand a chance of beating us. This is why I believe that cutting the Shiftry line down a little bit to make room for more consistency cards will help us out in the long run.
Next, we tested Shiftry against Buzzwole and it also was not as bad as I thought it would be. Zoroark is an extreme liability in that matchup because of its Weakness and its usually what Buzzwole would target. However Shiftry is extremely good against Buzzwole, we are able to knockout anything they have in their deck in one shot with Extrasensory and then we are able to Confuse other Pokémon if we do not have the right Energy. Confusion has always been an underrated status condition but it is one that can swing games. Buzzwole always had to retreat or Guzma in order to get around Confusion because flipping tails and not doing anything would cause them to be significantly far behind. We have some consistency issues in that we are a Stage 2 deck that needs Rare Candy to set up. Buzzwole is way more consistent and they proved it during our testing. We do not have space for cards like Weakness Policy to stop our Zoroark GX from getting knocked out in one shot. So we have to rely solely on Shiftry carrying us. Normally Buzzwole would just knock out two Zoroark GX and then eventually kill a Shiftry to win the game. As the Shiftry player, I noticed that we have to try and win the game with only one Zoroark and if we can get set up with only one then it is a lot easier for us, but if we have to get two out then our chances of winning decreases a lot.
There are some things that might be able to help and those are the Baby Shiftry from Steam Siege however that might only be good if we can also add in Reverse Valley in order to make it attack for 130 to knock out Baby Buzzwoles. I also felt like having Weakness Policy could help us but it does not help us with our consistency at all. The last option because we do not want very many Zoroark out would be multiple in any combination of Copycat and Judge. Zoroark is usually what we would use to match hand sizes with our opponent but if we are trying to win the game without Zoroark we need another way to have the same amount of cards in our hand as our opponent. Buzzwole won all three of the games against Shiftry, but I still think there are ways to win that matchup. We will definitely be coming back to that later.
Alright guys that was the extent of my first couple days of testing. I was not able to get the full five hours in on both days but I was able to get a few hours on each day. So far this new set is looking extremely promising at changing up the Meta.
Some final thoughts about what I want to test next time. How well does the one Field Blower or maybe even two in Buzzroc help against Weakness Policy in Zoroark decks? I want to see how Scizor GX can do against some of the powerhouses that we already have. Then I want to see how well a Sylveon EX can do against a Rayquaza in different Zoroark Variants. We have a lot of testing to do and not that much time to do it. If you have any comments about decks or strategies that you want me to try go ahead and leave a comment and then I will test it and put it into another article. Hopefully, I can help you to determine if some of your ideas work or if they do not end up working. I am going to have an updated Excel document that I post a picture of in each of the articles that shows how many times a deck won compared to the other and eventually at the end of this month we should have some good data about what the best deck to play for Worlds is! Thank you for reading and I look forward to writing many more of these for you.
Edited by Neil Essymer