Format Counters Are On The Way!

As the City Championship series draws to a close, the Fincastle Pokemon Gym is very pleased to see how the TCG community has created a fairly diverse format.  By that, we mean that no single deck has dominated the series.  We have seen bestsome numbers compiled to show the decks with the most wins.  These decks may truly be the BDIF (best deck in the format, a term commonly over-used in the TCG).  We feels it’s worth mentioning that simply because a deck won an event, does not mean it’s that strong.  The level of competition varies by area and sometimes by a given day.  We’ve had events in Fincastle in the past where there were only a few strong players present, where those players would’ve likely won, regardless of what they played.  However, at events like this past weekend’s Fincastle City Championship, the field of 42 players included 6 World Championship competitors, in addition to another 3 or 4 players who have made top cuts at State, Regional and National Championships.

donphanDonphan copies dominated the 1st weeks of the series, but were quickly countered by other decks.  In our area, we’ve seen a lot of success from “Night March” decks and Manectric decks, as well as Steel decks and Fairy decks.  Seismitoad EX variants (w/Pyroar or w/Garbodor) have had success as well, but thankfully not with the regularity we feared they may have when the internet was originally flooded with their “BDIF” lists.  Seismitoad/Garbodor seemed like a deck that would ruin the format when it 1st appeared.

We at the Gym often wonder if any thought to possible deck combinations is ever taken into consideration when cards are printed.  We wondered that, with the knowledge that Garbodor was still in the format, why Pokemon printed Seismitoad EX, offering such an easy item-lock.  Allowing this combo (no Items & no Abilities) begs the question, why suddenly print so many different Item obamacards and Pokemon w/abilities if you are going allow 2 cards to make all of them meaningless?   Allowing 2 cards to block the usage of nearly 75% of the cards in play may be the dumbest move we’ve ever seen from the card company.  Sounds more like something the Obama administration would do than a company looking to be profitable.  Thankfully for them, the majority of their sales come from card collectors and not players.

garbodorMany fun and challenging decks have been driven away by this combo (i.e., most Stage 2 decks, Weavile/Eggs, speed Lugia and other Plasma variants, to name a few).  The word “fun” does not apply to Seismitoad.  It is definitely not fun to play against.  What seems to stand out the most to us is that the players who choose to play it don’t look like they are having fun, either.  Our theory is that the deck takes very little skill to play, yet yields easy, but very slow, drawn out wins if the opponent cannot counter the lock.  When both players risk falling asleep during a game, there is something fundamentally wrong.  Like we said, thankfully players have continued to look outside of this hideous combo for competitive decks and have kept the format relatively healthy in the process.  Just imagine the variety of decks at events that could exist right now if either Seismitoad EX or Garbodor was gone…..

Gym Leader Joel spends a fair amount of time (not as much as he’d like) playing around with ideas on the PTCGO.  If he can see a potential combo, he tries it.  Sometimes the ideas work and sometimes they fall flat on their face (like the monsdecks he and Gym Leader Georgia tried at this weekend’s Fincastle City Championship….).  When they do work, however, some pretty solid counters to the format are created.  As a matter of fact, many of these decks are built immediately after playing similar versions of popular decks back-to-back in the online game, meaning they are built as direct counters to popular decks. Unfortunately, Joel can’t build them all and play them, so many remain buried among the 140+ decks that he has on the PTCGO.  The next few articles will focus on ones that have some relevance in this current format.

The Fincastle Gym is not a decklist site and is not a big fan of these sites.  We love the sharing of ideas, but don’t care for the way many sites narrow the view of the format and seem to try to dictate what people play.  With that in mind, Joel will share several lists that we hope will continue to expand the format.  As you check them out, remember that these lists have been put together according to Joel’s style of play.  What works for him, may not make as much sense to the next person.  We don’t recommend copying them card-for-card.  Rather, we suggest that you look at the idea and see what you can do with it.  If you see something we’ve missed, by all means, make it better and go win an event with it.

poleWe don’t want this article to stretch on too long, so we’ll look at the first of several unique lists in our next article.  Check back to see the 1st in the series, a deck Joel used to make top 8 at the Greensboro City Championship, the “Fluffy Penguin”.  Until then, see you at the Gym.

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