"Gather 'round the Campfire!" - A Flashfire Review and Nationals Playtesting

29.4.2014 wrote: Ryan Sabelhaus in category Trading Card Game

Hello 60Cards readers! My name is Ryan Sabelhaus and this will be my first article for 60Cards.net. There is a lot of review  going on lately about the newest set for the XY-expansion called "Flashfire." Instead of just writing another article about which cards are my favorite or should be highly used, I've decided to discuss some new deck ideas to go along with my set review. This is always the best parts of the tournament season in my opinion. Testing a crazy deck idea with cards fromXY-Flashfire could be the path towards good results at the National Championships in July. If you get a crazy idea from these cards that you think could work in this format, don't be afraid to build anything and test it out along with me. 

 

My Accomplishments:

The main point of this article is to help people get new ideas from the XY-Flashfire expansion so I will try to keep this section small. Currently, I'm at 635 championship points and am the #1 ranked master in North America. This year, I've managed to qualify for my 3rd straight World Championship invite, got 1st place at the Florida Regional Championships, won 4 City Championships, and managed to make top cut or receive championship points at 18/19 tournaments I've attended this season. I am also the current reigning Top Cut Invitational champion. I do pride myself on consistency and I would like to think these results are due to hours upon hours of play-testing online and with my friends, including Kyle Sabelhaus, Tyler Morris, and many others. Let's move on to the article! 

 

My Favorite Decks of the Moment: 

Just because this new set of XY is coming out, it doesn't mean that old decks will not be viable. Blastoise, Emboar, Virizion/Genesect, Plasma, and Darkrai/Yveltal variants will all still be very strong contenders for the National Championships. Although all of these choices have performed very well lately in tournaments, my personal favorite decks at the moment would be Virizion/Genesect and Kingdra/Greninja. They both have very sound strategies that I feel make them strong choices, even though they both differ greatly in their paths to winning games. Let's discuss Virizion/Genesect first…

 

Virizion/Genesect/Roserade:

 Pokemon: 12

4 Virizion EX
3 Genesect EX
2 Roserade
2 Roselia
1 Sigilyph

T/S/S: 34

4 Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
1 Colress
2 Shadow Triad
3 Skyarrow Bridge
2 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
3 Muscle Band
3 Energy Switch
2 Enhanced Hammer
1 Super Rod
1 Max Potion
1 Tool Scrapper
1 G-Booster

Energy: 14

10 Grass
4 Plasma

 

This list has been the product of countless hours of play-testing every Virizion/Genesect variant around. If i was going to play in a Regional Championship tomorrow morning, this would be my best choice to play. Through many tournaments, this exact list (plus or minus a card) is what Ben Potter piloted to a first place finish at the Madison, Wisconsin Regional Championships. Other accomplishments for this list have been a 2nd place finish at the North Carolina State Championships from myself, along with multiple other strong placing’s at major events from Tyler Morris and Jose Marrero (top 8's, day two's, hundreds of championship points earned). Time to discuss some of the card choices: 

 

                1) Roserade: By far the most controversial card of this deck would be powerful flower with a French ability. Many other people prefer to play other variants of Virizion/Genesect, which can include Driblim (to abuse special energies from opponents) and Raichu (to help cover lightning-weak pokemon, such as Lugia EX or Yveltal EX). The versions of this deck without Roserade have underperformed during my testing and I felt a need for added consistency. 

                In most of the matchups, I found myself having to just hope that I draw my G-Booster off of a Professor Juniper, which is far easier to accomplish with a Roselia already on my bench. At other times, drawing a Roserade off of mid-game Juniper could single-handedly win me a round from the ability to grab any helpful cards from my deck, such as an enhanced hammer or energy switch. 

                In other situations without Roserade, I actually missed the turn 2 Emerald Slash, which is extremely crucial for this deck. Having the added consistency of "Le Parfum" is the security blanket that I find necessary to play this in large scale tournaments. If this deck can consistently get a turn 2 Emerald Slash and then a turn 3 Megalo Cannon/G-Booster, there are not many decks that can keep up with such speed and power. The flower may not be everyone's favorite card in

Virizion/Genesect and it may not be the best choice, but I couldn't bring myself to play the deck without Roserade. 

 

                2) Sigilyph: I added Sigilyph into my build after seeing amazing results in testing for week 1 of State Championships. With the option of free retreating every pokemon with Skyarrow Bridge, this deck finds many opportunities to utilize Sigilyph and his "Safeguard" ability. Some upsides of Sigilyph include: forcing an opponent to deck-out if they only have 6 EX pokemon in play, shielding a Virizion EX from being attacked by a Thundurus EX in the Plasma matchup, shielding a Genesect EX after using a G-Booster attack to allow an extra turn of energy attachments. All of these situations are very common with this deck and allow a wider variety of options for matchups. 

 

                3) Enhanced Hammers: Even with consistency and G-Booster, this deck can still struggle against Team Plasma variants and Darkrai/Yveltal decks. Enhanced hammers allow this deck to have a little more time to prepare for war, which will usually help Virizion/Genesect come out on top. 

 

Kingdra/Greninja/Electrode:Pokemon: 21

4 Froakie KSS

2 Frogadier KSS

4 Greninja XY

3 Horsea PLF

1 Seadra PLF

3 Kingdra PLF

1 Voltorb XY

1 Electrode PLF

2 Sigilyph DRX

T/S/S: 29

3 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

2 Colress

3 Ultra Ball

3 Level Ball

4 Rare Candy

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine

1 Tool Scrapper

2 Tropical Beach

Energy: 10

10 Water

 

 

Kingdra/Greninja is a very unique deck with upsides and downsides. It's an extremely difficult deck to play so be very cautious before paying money to run this. Abusing a Sigilyph "wall" early game is how this deck is able to properly setup. Through the use of Electrode and Tropical Beach behind a Sigilyph, multiple stage 2's are able to come into play and the normal strategy of the deck can be abused. Greninja uses his "Water Shuriken" ability to discard water energy and place 3 damage counters on any pokemon, while Kingdra is able to help spread damage with Tri-Bullet or finish off a big attacker by using Dragon Vortex to do 20 damage times the number of water energy in your discard, along with shuffling back in all those energy to abuse with Greninja. The deck has very strong synergy when it sets up, regardless of how people may view its matchups. 

 

Now that i've gone over my two favorite decks of this current format, let’s move on ahead into the exciting possibilities of cards in the XY-Flashfire expansion. Remember, just because a new set is coming out doesn't mean that old decks will no longer be good. I will still have a strong intuition towards playing Kingdra/Greninja after the new set comes out, even though it will probably end up not using any of the newer cards. Just something good to remember when new sets are coming out. Now, to the Flashfire cards! All of these cards have been translated on Pokebeach if you haven't seen the scans yet. 

 

XY- FLASHFIRE

Shiftry:

This card definitely has a lot of potential. With a great ability for drawing 3 cards by discarding a grass energy, any deckcplaying Shiftry would have internal drawing power to go with their supporters. Not only can this card help any player draw out of bad situations with its ability, its attack is also very strong and not too hard to acquire the energy needed. For only a grass and a double colorless energy, Shiftry does 20 damage times the amount of benched pokemon on both players' benches. With a full bench of pokemon, along with 2 benched pokemon from your opponent, Shiftry's attack can do a totalof 140 damage. Silver bangle can be the final piece of the HP puzzle and allow this attack to knock-out almost every card in the current format. Forcing an opponent to play with a very small bench will cause problems with most deck’s strategies. Almost every archetype seen in the current format use a very large bench and large amounts of Colress to go along with it. Shiftry forces a player to hold some of their pokemon in their hand to assure that one hit knock-outs aren’t occurring turn after turn. Some bad results from holding these pokemon in their hand will be less damage output from plasma (holding Deoxys EX), not enough Squirtles on the board to help protect Blastoise from being Lysandre’d, and also helps late game N’s to be much more efficient at giving opponent’s dead hands.

Milotic: 


 At first sight, I thought this card was going to be amazing… right up until the ability stated "excluding pokemon EX." It doesn't mean this card is going to be unplayable, but it will be very hard to find a place for this card when free energy acceleration in Blastoise still exists. This card also needs to knock itself out, allowing your opponent to get a free prize card, while Blastoise doesn't have this problem. Milotic can be paired together with Shiftry, though, to allow a good source of energy acceleration for a deck with good draw power and damage output. 

Druddigon:

One of my favorite cards from this new set for multiple reasons is going to be Druddigon. Not only should this card have a large impact on the amount of Blastoise and Emboar decks being played at Nationals, but this card also proves to be a pretty strong attacker for only a double-colorless energy. This card can be bounced around into almost any deck, allowing everything to have a much better matchup against Rain-Dance variants. 

Lysandre:

"Choose 1 of your opponent's benched pokemon and switch it with his or her active pokemon." Ahhhhh the guaranteed Pokemon Catcher is back again! This card is going to have many uses in most new format decks, along with multiple uses from Pal Pad being able to shuffle back in supporters. This card will also prove to be most effective in decks that already have internal consistent drawing abilities, such as decks with Delphox, Electrode, and Shiftry.

Toxicroak EX:

I actually like this card for a couple different reasons. It's first attack is very interesting when added together with the effects of Virbank City Gym and Dragalge. Five damage counters in-between turns, without the ability to retreat, can really start to add up damage fast and force players to make up different and less-effective strategies. I have come up with a couple of different deck ideas with Toxicroak EX, all of which are very reliant on trapping a pokemon active and knocking out EX pokemon from poison damage. 

Kangaskhan EX: 

A great drawing attack, along with a high amount of HP, help to make Kangaskhan EX an appealing card from Flashfire as well. When Tropical Beach rotates out of the format, which may or may not be coming up soon, I fully expect some people to play Kangaskhan EX as their starter of choice for setup decks. The ability to be put into any deck as a potential attacker from having only colorless energy attacks is so helpful. Mega Kangaskhan EX is also a decent attacker with a humongous 230 HP. There are very few attacks that can knock-out a Mega Kangaskhan EX in one hit, which makes this card a very strong option to play with Aromatisse and fairy builds. Although the attack may involve flipping coins, which is just another aspect of luck in this game that people don’t like, I feel as though the risk is worth it. There will be plenty of time to get off attacks with a fairy version involving Mega Kangaskhan, so you’ll have plenty of chances to flip those heads.

Pyroar: 

Exciting ability from this pokemon! This pokemon can't be damaged by opponent's basic pokemon. It seems that the pokemon community has been raving over this card over the past couple of weeks and it’s easy to see why. This card has so much potential and can be played in a deck, along with Archeops, that can just completely lock an opponent out of the game. With the inability to evolve from Archeops being in play, no enemy attackers will be able to damage Pyroar as they are all going to be basic pokemon. I feel like this pokemon is going to be in everyone's minds while preparing for the National Championships, so make sure that you are prepared to see some of this mighty lion hitting the field.  Not only are people basing decks completely around Pyroar, but it is also being seen as a tech card in random decks. It seems to not be as effective when just thrown in as a tech card for basic-oriented decks. I feel as though it will lose a person more games than it would win a person, but that’s just my personal opinion before we get to see the lion in action.

Flame Torch:

It seems like a very interesting card at first, but gets ultimately better as soon as the next card on this list is revealed. This type of design has been seen many times before in the Pokemon Trading Card Game, all of which have been fairly good cards in archetype decks. I would assume the most famous of which would be the “Roast Reveal” Ninetales that had an ability to discard a fire energy from a player’s hand and then draw 3 cards. This went together great with the Typhlosion prime, which was a great way of getting those fire energy out of the discard pile by attaching them to attackers.

Discarding fire energies is very strong for decks like Emboar, but without the energy acceleration already in play the energy would just be getting thrown in the discard pile. Emboar would seem to be the only choice of deck to play with this card because it is the only deck that can attach multiple fire energy per turn… unless there was some kind of supporting card that could attach fire energy out of the discard pile…

Blacksmith:


Definitely one of my favorite cards from XY-Flashfire would be Blacksmith. This card would certainly not be as good without the added draw engine from Flame Torch, but it would still be a very strong. The ability to attach 2 fire energy out of the discard pile to ANY pokemon you have in play is amazing. We have always been constricted to attaching energy to the benched pokemon with no way of attaching to the active. This is probably from the repeated forms of energy acceleration that have stayed and passed, common examples of which would be Eelektrik’s “Dynamotor” ability and Dark Patches. These two examples have been some of the most game-changing cards to be played so who knows where Blacksmith could land. A potential problem that I could see in decks running many Blacksmith would be supporter drought. Some people would consider them a supporter card in their counting of supports, but just like shadow triad, they are not. They don’t help to advance a player’s hand and help to replenish after being N’d (on most occasions). Always remember when making decks that include Blacksmith to not count them as supporting cards while figuring out the best counts. Every deck needs a certain number of drawing cards or they will lose mtaches from dead drawing multiples times.Blacksmith:

 

Charizard :


No, I’m not talking about the Charizard EX that lets you flip a coin to attach three fire energies from your deck to itself. I’m talking about the Charizard EX that can hit for 150 damage for a double colorless energy and 2 fire energy. This card will have great synergy with the new fire-supporting cards in Flashfire, which are Blacksmith and Flame Torch. These cards allow a Charizard deck to have plenty of speed and acceleration, along with some consistent draw cards that aren’t even supporters. This deck certainly isn’t going to be the best deck in format with nothing to match, but who wouldn’t want to play a deck with our base set hero in it! Whenever Charizard EX is involved in conversation, it goes without saying that people will always consider playing a Mega Charizard EX in their deck. I’m not so sure I can agree with that sentiment, but it’s just because of the repercussions that go along with each of the Mega evolutions attacks. One of the evolutions allows you to do 300 damage, but forces you to discard the top 5 cards of your deck. I’m sure that there are plenty of opportunities where a player just won’t be able to afford discarding 5 cards off the top of their deck. This evolution is almost unplayable near the ends of the games too, which will take away the perfectly good Charizard EX that was attacking before evolution. The other Mega evolution performs the same ridiculous amount of damage at 300, but requires the Charizard EX to hurt himself for 50 damage. Talk about not being able to stand the heat… At the risk of being knocked-out from losing 50 damage, this mega evolution loses its high HP appeal as soon as it gets one attack off. It seems as though for now, I’m just going to stick with good ole’ Charizard EX and see where it leads me.harizard EX:

 

Now that I've gone over most of the cards that I found interesting, let’s talk about some of the options for decks involving these cards. New and fun decks are going to come out from this set and hopefully these lists can help everyone to get creative and start play-testing lists of their own. 

 

Pyroar/Archeops:

Pokemon: 17

4 Litleo FF

4 Pyroar FF

4 Archen PLB

3 Archeops DEX

2 Charizard EX (Flame Explosion)

T/S/S: 32

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

4 N

1 Colress

2 Blacksmith

1 Lysandre

2 Tropical Beach

4 Plume Fossil

4 Ultra Ball

3 Evosoda

1 Professor's Letter

1 Dowsing Machine

1 Super Rod

Energy: 11

3 Double Colorless

8 Fire

 

I feel like this deck will have many different variants that people will attempt to play. I chose the route with Charizard EX purely because the card works extremely well with Blacksmith and can come out of nowhere to hit for 150 damage. This can prove to be very effective if Pyroar just isn't piling damage on fast enough during the mid-game. Charizard EX can also help knock-out an opponent's stage 1 tech cards that are added into basic-oriented decks, such as a Glaceon being used in plasma. It's okay to allow an opponent to get an attack off on a Charizard EX with their basic pokemon, as Pyroar can always just come active again to lock an opponent out of attacking. 

 

Shiftry/Milotic/Raichu:

Pokemon: 19

3 Shiftry FF

1 Nuzleaf FF

4 Seedot FF

3 Raichu XY

4 Pikachu LTR

1 Virizion EX PLB

1 Druddigon FF

1 Milotic FF

1 Feebas FF

T/S/S: 30

2 Tropical Beach

3 Pokemon Fan Club

4 N

3 Colress

3 Skyla

1 Lysandre

3 Rare Candy

3 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

1 Life Dew

3 Silver Bangle

1 Professor's Letter

1 Super Rod

1 Escape Rope

Energy: 11

3 Double Colorless 

8 Grass

 

Although this deck may seem strange, it's an extremely fun deck to play and has strangely decent matchups against decks that are common in the current meta. Raichu helps to beat Lugia EX and Yveltal EX, which are both weak to lightning. Shiftry also has a very strong attack against Plasma variants and Blastoise variants, which usually find themselves with large benches and also weakness problems to grass and dragon for Blastoise. Virizion EX allows all pokemon to not fall prey to Hypnotoxic Lasers, which is very helpful for this deck. The ace spec choice is Life Dew because when attached to Milotic, there is no way for the tool to be knocked off since Milotic's ability allows him to be immediately knocked-out. The use of Life Dew allows this deck to have a free opportunity to use Milotic's ability, forcing your opponent to draw extra prize cards.  A version of this deck had been seen doing well in Japan recently. The list was a little bit different than my list, but seemed to have very strange counts on some of their cards. They played 4 muscle bands, which seems like far too much for my liking, but it worked for one player so it’s worth testing. I would prefer to have Raichu in my list to help ward off Lugia Ex’s and Yveltal EX’s, but that’s just my personal preference. Make sure to not let Shiftry fall out of your radar for Nationals. I’m sure someone will see some good fortune from playing the fastest forest tree in the world. The Japanese version of the Shiftry deck can be seen here from Brandon Smiley's article:

Pokémon - 18 

4 Seedot FF

2 Nuzleaf FF

4 Shiftry FF

2 Ditto BCR

1-1 Milotic FF

1  Jirachi EX

1 Druddigon FF

1 Virizion EX

Trainers - 29

4 Muscle Band

3 Rare Candy

1 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

1 Pokemon Communication*

1 Sacred Ash

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Energy Retrieval

1 Master Ball

3 Shauna

3 Colress

3 N

3 Skyla

1 Pokemon Fan Club

2 Lysandre

Energy - 13

10 Grass

3 Double Colorless

 

 

Let’s Rap it up…

New decks are going to arise with this set. Fun rogue variants and maybe very simple archetypes may come out of the woodworks for the Pokemon National Championships in July. It is always the biggest tournament of the season so expect to see a lot of variety if you’re planning on showing up. I hope that this article has been fun to read and has helped to inspire everyone to take a look at the new cards coming out. This format is becoming more and more fun with each card that gets released! Thank you for reading and feel free to message me with any questions. 

 

-Ryan <3

 

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