Spring ’16 Spotlight #1 – Forest For The Trees

forrstA few articles ago, some of Gym Leader Joel’s meanderings took your across Gym Leader Logan’s love for the obscure, including the SDSU “Jackrabbits”, which is just one of many.  Whether this trait is inherited from his dear old dad or learned, is a much deeper discussion than we are looking to get into here.  Either way, Gym Leader Joel is the likely source.  Joel’s search for the obscure usually stays within the realms of film and music, as they were the only outlets available as he grew up.  Al Gore did not “invent” the internet until he and Gym Leader Marthe were married college graduates.  For example, ask Joel his favorite film and song (as of right now, as these are subject to change by a spot or two in his mental rankings) and he will reply, “The Fisher King” and “My Girls” by Animal Collective.  The 1st is his favorite Robin Williams movie and the 2nd is his “being a dad/husband” theme song.  The wonderful thing about the internet is that if you’ve never heard of either one, you can look them up in seconds.  At any rate, it is another obscure song that came to mind when naming this deck, that being the brilliant flash in the pan, “Dreams” by Forest For The Trees.

When Joel 1st heard this song in 1997, the mix of techno/pop and bagpipes blew him away.  Who would have ever thought to mix pipes into any current (at the time) music?  He believed this band was going to be amazing.  As so many band that have great potential do, they disappeared.  At the time, there were no instant info resources like Wikipedia, so you often never knew what happened trevsuch bands.  Turns out the band’s creator had some kind of break down, which led to a 2nd album being recorded, but never released before the “Forest” turned into a parking lot.  So, what does this random song from a long forgotten band have to do with Pokemon?  Not a lot, to be honest.  It’s just what we thought of when would looked at our list.  Everything here is tree-related, so much so that we’d say that with this deck in hand, it would truly be difficult to see the forest for all of the trees.  List 1st, explanation to follow.

Forrest For The Trees:

 Pokemon:

  • 4 – Treecko (PRC 6)
  • 4 – Grovyle (PRC 7)
  • 3 – Sceptile (PRC 8)
  • 4 – Trevenant EX (PRC 19)

Trainer/Stadium:

  • 4 – Forest of Giant Plants
  • 2 – Energy Retrieval
  • 3 – Fighting Fury Belt
  • 2 – Professor’s Letter
  • 4 – Level Ball
  • 4 – Ultra Ball
  • 4 – VS Seeker
  • 4 – Professor Sycamore
  • 1 – Fisherman
  • 2 – Shauna
  • 1 – Lysandre
  • 1 – Tierno
  • 1 – Super Rod
  • 2 – Switch

Energy:

  • 10 – Grass

 

As you might guess after reading the article that precedes this one… this list was one lovingly put together by Gym Leader Joel as a way to punish anyone online that dared bring a “Toad” deck to a PTCGO tournament.  As an added bonus, or unexpected side effect, if you prefer, it turned out to be pretty decent against other decks.  Its 3 losses online came against 2 “Night March” decks and 1 Pyroar/Delphox EX deck.  Delphox served no purpose in that one, but Pyroar with VS Seeker/Lysandre/Target Whistle/Pokemon Catcher just flat-out punched this pine-scented deck in the face.  “Trees” has a nice mix of wins, including victories over “Night March”, Yveltal/Gallade, M Manectric EX, M Gardevoir/Florges, several Bronzong variants and of course, every Toad deck it has faced (online record: 19-3).

sceptThe strategy of “Trees” is by no means overwhelming.  For the experienced player, we describe this one as a hybrid of playing something like Vileplume/Giratina or Vileplume/Vespiquen and Blastoise/Keldeo, or more recently, Magnezone/Raikou.  Those that know those decks know that both hinge on getting your Stage 2 down as quickly as possible, 1st turn ideally.  In “Trees”, this does not happen every game, but just like the decks named above, when you do get it, you usually win.  What we love about this deck versus other similar type decks, is that the “Forrest Of Giant Plants” stadium enables you to get a 1st  turn Sceptile without any complicated mechanics like an “Archie/Maxie” list or reliance on items such as “Rare Candy”.  When things really fall into place, a 2nd Sceptile on the 1st turn can give you that 1st turn “Wood Blast” from Trevenant EX.  Again, this won’t happen every time you open a game, but you should, more often than not, have 2 Sceptile in play by your 2nd turn.

The double-Sceptile set up, gives you a slightly slower “Rain Dance” effect (maybe more accurately, a “Drizzle” effect) that allows you to attach 3 grass energy per turn (1 from your hand, 2 from the abilities), thus powering up a Trevenant EX or a Sceptile in 1 turn. If you need a 1-hit on an EX, you can continue loading up one Trevenant over multiple turns.  The “Fury Belt” takes trevcardthe HP of Trevenant to a beefy 220 HP, which gives you a solid chance to endure a hit from “Night March”.  The added effect of Sceptile’s “Nuture and Heal” ability is that you heal 30 damage with each attachment (not counting your attachment for your turn), which will net you 30-90 damage healed in a turn, depending on how many Sceptile you have out.  We suggest that you don’t skimp on attaching either, as 8 energy, which does seem like a lot (you can get quicker than you think) allows you to 1-hit almost all of the Mega EX’s (210 or 220 with a “Belt”).  If your opponent KO’s your loaded up Trevenant EX, you can recover quickly with the Energy Retrieval/Fisherman/VS Seeker card combos.

Where this list may differ from a standard Vileplume deck is that there is no Shaymin EX in it.  The reason for this is 2-fold.  The first reason is that you need your bench space in this deck for multiple Sceptile and at least 1 Trevenant EX.  The second reason is a little broader.  The average player, at least at our league, can’t afford to build decks that require 4 Shaymin EX’s to function.  For that piggyreason, this deck and the other decks that follow in this series will be either Shaymin-free or will run no more than 1 copy, so that if you see something here that you like, you can build it without emptying the piggy bank.  The same leak from Japan that showed the likely reprint of Seismitoad EX also appeared to reveal that Shaymin EX will get a reprint as well.  If that is the case, we hope that it comes in a set like the older Legendary Treasures set where it will have a higher pull rate and make the card more reasonable to obtain.  Just keep in mind, this mythical reprint set that we keep referencing will not be here any sooner than this fall, and could be later depending on what Pokemon has planned.

Speaking of expensive cards that few players have, the format recently has seen the use of Jolteon EX and its attack effect of blocking damage from Basic pokemon.  Those who don’t want to drop that kinda cash ($30-$40 a card) still often use Regice, whose attack effect stops EX pokemon.  We also will surely see the use of the new Carbink from Fates Collide and its “Safeguard” ability, which shuts down EX’s.  Both of the attack effects and the ability put the brakes on Trevenant EX, which seems like it would shut this deck down.  However, thanks to the thick line of Sceptile, you can revert to attacking and healing with its “Jungle Edge” attack for 70 damage.  This is admittedly not the best option, woodbuttbut at least it lets you keep grinding away.  You could alter the line of “Fighting Fury Belt” to include a “Muscle Band” or 2, which would give you the option to 2-hit a wall like Jolteon EX or other EX targets.  One thing that Sceptile does have in its favor is that it can 1-hit the Carbink and deal good damage to most of the Fighting-type pokemon that will likely accompany it, as they all have Grass-type weaknesses.  However, if you face that player still clinging to their Pyroar deck, bend down between your branches, pucker up and kiss your stump goodbye.

At last look, the most expensive card in this deck is “VS Seeker”.  If you are like us and have multiple decks at home, you just move the 4 copies that you have to the deck you are playing that day and put proxies in those spots in your other decks.  If you looked at our testing/playing area at home, you’ll see the sidelines littered with little pieces of paper that say “VS Seeker” or “Shaymin EX” on them, as we don’t have enough of either card to put in every deck.  If you have a decent collection, you may be able to put “Forest For The Trees” together with your extras.  In the PTCGO, you can easily trade for everything in this list.

Give “Trees” a whirl when you get the chance.  It is a pretty fun list to play.  We love the character, Trevenant, and since it was given the “EX” treatment, we’ve looked (with little avail) for a way to use it.  To date, this is the most competitive deck that we’ve found for Trevenant EX.  We doubt that you will see this one streaming in the Top 4 at Nationals, but it is a solid league deck or tournament deck for someone building on a budget.  We hope you enjoyed the read… feel free to take a little trip through the “Forest”, just watch out for all the trees.  See you at the Gym!

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