A look at Cities and what it means for Winter Regionals.

8.1.2014 wrote: Justin Sanchez in category Trading Card Game

Hello again 60cards readers! Cities are almost nearly through and I hope most of you have gotten your desired points from these tournaments. Early on, we saw quite a few different results as for decks that would end up winning Cities. But now that we near towards the end, we have a pretty legitimate group of three decks we can call the "boss" decks. These decks have mostly good matchups against the decks that are not in this group, as well as a good and a bad matchup against the other two decks. None of these "boss" decks beat the other two boss decks, and none of them lose to both of the other boss decks. It's an interesting triangle that has unfolded throughout the weekends spent playing cities. 

The first of the 3 boss decks that I would like to talk about today is the one and only “Yeti”. This deck was hyped up quite a bit before cities started, and while I was very skeptical of this deck because it was really not much different than a normal Lugia plasma deck, there was one key difference that even I could not deny. The big bad beast himself, Snorlax.

3 Thundurus EX 
3 Deoxys EX
2 Lugia EX
2 Snorlax
1 Genesect EX
4 Double Colorless Energy
4 Plasma Energy
3 Prism Energy
3 Lightning Energy
4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Shadow Triad
3 Skyla
3 Colress
4 Colress Machine
4 Switch
3 Frozen City
2 Ultra Ball
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Team Plasma Ball
1 MAX Potion
1 Energy Search
1 Scramble Switch 

*Note: This decklist is fairly plain and would require test playing to improve greatly*

While this card at first glance seems like a heavy cost on something considered so fragile with only 130 hp,
 this pokemon is feared by many of the popular decks in todays format. For 5 energy, it does 30x the amount of team plasma pokemon in play. When considering Deoxys EX into the equation, this guy will usually be one shotting everything once it gets those 5 energy on it. Now, that is cool and all, but can't I just return KO the Snorlax and deplete them of all of their energy? Yes, you can, but once a second one comes up this goal becomes much harder. It is fairly easy with the combination of Double Colorless Energy, Colress Machine, and Thundurus EX to have two different Snorlax powered up throughout some point in the game. If your deck can manage to deal with both, you will likely win. For a deck like Genesect/Virizion though, an early Snorlax and a Pokemon Catcher/Red Signal on to the Genesect EX that Virizion powered up almost always spells defeat. None of the decks in the format can currently handle being one shotted turn after turn, so most will either use energy acceleration to be the one getting a KO every turn, or a way to disable the energy acceleration to slow the pace of the game down. For snorlax, the sensible counter is Enhanced Hammer. Keeping this decks energy at bay, you can slowly get enough energy on your board to deal with multiple big threats. 

Yeti VS Genesect/Virizion=favorable matchup

Due to Genesect needing to be powered up through another Pokemon's attack, Yeti can easily take out the threats that Genesect/Virizon can provide. Not only that, but with one Raiden Knuckle with a couple benched Deoxys EX, your Lugia EX can come in and KO an ex for three prizes. Be aware that a lot of the time your energy will all be in one place while playing Yeti, so do not ever leave yourself vulnerable if you do not need to. Enhanced Hammer aids to make this matchup a little more even for Virizion/Genesect, but I would say even after adding 2 copies the match is still in the Yeti's favor.

Yeti VS Darkrai/Garbodor=poor matchup

There are many reasons that this is not a matchup that you would like to play against while using Yeti. Hypnotoxic Laser is a nuisance for the deck while it attempts to power up it's attackers with Thundurus EX. While you rack up damage with Raiden Knuckle and stack energy, they also rack up damage through Laser and discard those energies with Enhanced Hammer, using Sableye's Junk Hunt to grab them back at the end of the turn. Eventually there comes a point where you have no choice but to start attacking with your Lugia because you will fall far behind if you do not. At that point, you are met with a Night Spear from a Darkrai EX that you cannot KO unless you draw into your Scramble Switch. Overall, most of the time a combination of these annoying cards will end up being the Yeti's bane.

Next up, we have probably the most recognized of the big three decks, and for good reason. Genesect/Virizion really needs no introduction as it has been a dominant force since its release last year.

This combination of cards is very obvious but also very powerful. With the errata to Pokemon Catcher, Red Signal is an extremely unique ability. Really the only deck with an almost certain ability to attack any Pokemon on your board, Genesect is to be feared. If that isn't enough, G Booster allows you to do 200 to the Pokemon you are attacking, avoiding abilities and effects. So no Suicune, Sigilyph or Asperita/Eviolite shenanigans to buy you a turn. The Pokemon Genesect attacks is just going to be KO'd thanks to the G Booster Ace Spec. One of the greatest things about this deck is the almost blatant consistency it has. When it has a bad hand, it consists mostly of Pokemon and Energy, so that is what you want anyway. Not being able to attack going first was another huge plus for this deck, as it never attacks on the first turn, and stops decks from getting too much momentum on it by attacking twice before Virizion has even gotten an attack off. 

4  Virizion EX
3 Genesect EX
1 Bouffalant
1 Mr.Mime
1 Jirachi EX
9 Grass
4 Plasma
4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
2 Shadow Triad
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Ultra Ball
3 Energy Switch
2 Virbank City Gym
2 Tropical Beach
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Colress Machine
1 Float Stone
1 Switch
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Super Rod
1 Energy Search
1 G Booster

*Note: This decklist is fairly plain and would require test playing to improve greatly*

Genesect/Virizion vs Darkrai/Garbodor=positive matchup

While playing Genesect/Virizion, you definitely want to play against a couple Darkrai variants. Thanks to your Virizion's Verdant Wind, you block yourself from being greatly effected by Hypnotoxic Laser, which is Darkrai's main key to victory. While Darkrai does now run Garbodor to shut off Virizion, it comes at the price of being a deck that can really only power up one attacker at a time. Due to the threat of G booster, and Genesects reliance on attacking with Virizion, you will always be forced to attack into Virizion first. Then either Genesect can get the early G Booster and almost end the game prematurely, or get the first hit on a Darkrai and force you to have the garbodor in play with a tool, a Virbank out and a Hypnotoxic Laser to KO the Genesect you hit for 30 on the bench. That is also assuming you have Garbodor out with a tool considering that they have Mr.Mime on their bench. A lot needs to go right for Darkrai and the path is fairly clear for Genesect to win, so there aren't many mistakes a Genesect player can make to lose this game while Darkrai has many plays it can make to change the outcome of a game. 

Genesect/Virizion vs Yeti=poor matchup

As I explained earlier, Genesect really cannot just sit back against this deck and power up multiple attackers thanks to Yeti's speed. By the time you get your two Genesect powered up with Virizion, Lugia has taken three prizes off of your Virizion. Snorlax can also just run through the deck if you cannot stick a Laser and a Virbank at the right time. Thundurus EX puts the damage on you while powering up the big threats for the deck. Not only that, but many Yeti decks have started playing either Genesect EX, or Pokemon Catcher to initially grab up your Genesect and either get 50 damage from Raiden Knuckle, or just KO it with Snorlax. Enhanced Hammer can help to swing the matchup to be more in your favor, but I still wouldn't say that it is favorable.

Last but not least, we have a deck that can be played multiple ways. For the Cities format, the most successful variant is an aggressive version of the Darkrai/Garbodor deck. While it may seem counterproductive to some, sometimes hindering yourself is a good price to pay to cripple your opponent. 


*Note: This decklist is fairly plain and would require test playing to improve greatly*

Mid season last year, seeing these two cards played together would have been considered a joke. This deck went under the radar for quite a while, possibly due to the metagame or just simply because we were too blind to recognize what was in front of us. Regardless, the deck is now here to stay. Thanks to the time limit of 30+3 for 1 game at cities, the traditional stall tactics of Darkrai/Garbodor have been changed. It is now played with an aggressive goal of an early Night Spear with a Garbodor and a tool to back it. Garbotoxin is a very good ability as abilities themselves have increased in popularity. Night Spear has always been an extremely strong attack, and despite many things going wrong for Darkrai, he always seems to come back. Many a time I have counter this card out of the running, but I now realize that it is simply never a good idea to take Darkrai out of the running. Until cards like Dark Patch rotate, Darkrai will always be a legitimate threat. Sableye has really aided Darkrai through various formats, and in this format it is much of the same. Sableye is very useful right now to recycle Enhanced Hammer and Hypnotoxic laser, two of your most obnoxoious cards to play against. 

3 Darkrai EX
3 Sableye
2 Trubbish
2 Garbodor
1 Absol
1 Keldeo EX
10 Dark Energy
4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Skyla
4 Dark Patch
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Ultra Ball
3 Random Receiver
3 Float Stone
2 Virbank City Gym
2 Dark Claw
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Pokemon Catcher
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Energy Search
1 Computer Search

*Note: This decklists is fairly plain and would require test playing to improve greatly*

Darkrai/Garbodor vs Yeti=positive matchup

Enhanced Hammer really puts a dent in the Yeti deck, and Darkrai has a plethora of them thanks to Sableye. With the combination of Hypnotoxic Laser, Enhanced Hammer AND Garbotoxin, the Yeti deck really gets shut down. It forces them to go for an all in play where they attack with all of their energy on one Pokemon and pray you cannot kill it. Darkrai with a Dark Claw and Laser with Virbank in play does 140 to a Thundurus EX which means that if that Thundurus stays active with poison, it will be knocked out. But if it goes to the bench, it will also be knocked out by the splash damage from Night Spear. Overall, many things come into play in this matchup. Slowly but surely you will end up winning a game where you whittle them down with Laser, Hammer and Night Spear. 

Darkrai/Garbodor vs Genesect/Virizion=poor matchup

Darkrai/Garbodor is not really a slow deck, but it cannot power up multiple attackers very fast. Against other decks that can one shot, you do not have to start attacking right out of the gate. Thanks to Genesect's Red Signal, they will always have a way to get a hit on the first Darkrai EX, so often there is no point in not attacking first. Genesect decks that run Hypnotoxic Laser are even more of a nuisance for Darkrai/Garbodor as it does not want to bench Keldeo EX against the Genesect deck, and plays little to no switching cards. Hypnotoxic Laser is already a card Darkrai/Garbodor does not like to play against, throw it in to an already bad matchup and it becomes a very dull game. Let's not even forget G Booster, a looming one hit knockout on any of your pokemon at some point in the game. Thanks to all of this, Darkrai is hindered by the deck that loves green.

If you're wondering what all of this means for Winter Regionals, the answer is a lot. Typically many people are not comfortable with switching decks due to a different tournament format, so I predict that you will still see most of the decks you have seen at cities. Of course matches will be played differently thanks to the 50+3 and 2/3 match play. Decks strategies change, deck lists change, even the way you play a matchup can change thanks to a completely different play style for best two of three. Due to all of these changes, I have a couple predictions of things that may or may not become true for Winter Regionals.

I predict Darkrai/Garbodor plays more Crushing Hammer to improve its Virizion/Genesect matchup.

With 30+3, it is very hard to outright win a game while using Crushing Hammer effectively. But with 50+3, you only need to win the first game to win the match. So if you can lock them long enough to win the first game, you win the series. I feel this may be a huge factor for Darkrai decks coming into Regionals. Genesect is definitely a deck you do not want to face without Crushing Hammer, but it may seem like it's Genesect who doesn't want to face you while packing three or four copies of the card. I say play this card and be prepared for some long matches against Genesect!

I predict an increase in Enhanced Hammer in decks to counter Yeti.

It's been proven that Enhanced Hammer can easily swing the Yeti matchup, and while they aren't exactly popular right now, I expect them to become an almost staple in decklists. They have become easier to fit into decklists thanks to Pokemon Catcher not exactly being a staple like it was before. They aren't exactly terrible against other decks either which may make them an even better option. The ability to slow down a really speedy deck might be just what you need to do well at Regionals.

I predict more counter decks to come out due to there finally being a list of popular decks. 

At cities it was very hard to play a counter deck as you almost never know what you'll face, but at a big tournament like Regionals, you can predict what most of the meta will look like. Having really only three main decks to truly counter, it makes it interesting to wonder if a deck that only beats all three will be a good choice. As we saw at the last Regionals set, having a deck no one expects can win tournaments, so be prepared for a couple wacky decks to reveal themselves. 

As a whole, my thoughts on this new season are mostly positive. I think many were quick to play the blame game and overreacted due to the changes. I would say almost all of the changes to this season were positive and I'm excited to see where Pokemon will take us next. I appreciate everything they have done to make this game fun and healthy. The cities format has definitely been a good one similar to past years and I hope you guys have had as much fun with it as I have.  Regionals are some of the best events around so make sure to try and get to the closest one to you! You won't want to miss out on the awesome action going down at these tournaments. I wish all of my readers good luck at your upcoming event and may the odds be in your favor.

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Justin Sanchez

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Hello! My name is Justin Sanchez. I am currently a competitive TCG player from Miami, Florida. I consider myself one of the friendlier competitive players as I am always looking to help others around me. My so to speak 'fame' definitely started following my win at the US National Championships in 2011. I was certainly an unknown player but have definitely taken my place upon the rankings of the US "elite players" I am here to give you guys my honest opinion on all matters of the Pokemon TCG.