The scourge of winter weather that hit our area over the opening weeks of 2017 cancelled our 1st 2 weekends of league and tournaments. While the forced break was not what we wanted, the Fincastle Gym Leaders used the time to do some much needed post-Christmas clean up and organizing. This also coincided with the kick-off of another robotics season, which is always very exciting but very time consuming. That being said, we’ve been on break from Pokemon for the majority of 2017. We all pieced together decks the night before our league challenge last Sunday, which was the 1st time we’ve raised a card this year. Now that things have settled down a bit, we’re ready dive back into all things Pokemon. We thought the best way to kick things off this year would be with a look at a few decks. Gym Leader Joel is going to focus on the Mega Pokemon that no one loves the way they should… the underappreciated, or dare we say, the deplorable. We also plan to introduce the 1st deck from one of our most original trainers, Ian M, who we hope will provide us, from time to time, with a peek at some of his other insane lists.
The 1st deck that we will look focuses around Tyranitar, a character beloved by many and one that has had many semi-competitive card printings over the years (18 that we could find). The character itself is surely one of Pokemon’s various tributes to the classic Toho monsters like Godzilla and the many beasts that joined him on the silver screen. The latest offering, Mega Tyranitar, falls squarely into the middle of that semi-competitive category, an unfortunate status for a card that did receive a fair amount of hype when released. The hype came from the potentially massive damage output from its “Destroyer King” attack, an attack that is as over-the-top as any great Godzilla battle. The attack’s 110 damage seems poor for 4 energy, but as you read on, you can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the attack effects. For each damage counter on the Defending Pokemon, you add an additional 60 damage to the base 110. Think about that in this meta for a minute. 1 lone damage counter brings the total to 170, a KO on a variety of EX pokemon, any of the “babies” (Yveltal, Volcanion, Zygarde), whether they have a “Fury Belt” or not, and all of the Stage 2’s in the game, including the only one that seems to matter at the moment, Greninja BREAK. Increase that number of damage counters to 3 (thereby adding 180 damage to the base 110 for a grand total of 290) and Tyranitar fulfills the royalty inherent to the attack that at 1st glance perhaps did not seem so good.
- 4 – Yveltal (XY 78)
- 4 – Tyranitar EX (AOR 42)
- 3 – M Tyranitar EX (AOR 43)
- 1 – Hoopa EX (PR XY71)
- 1 – Shaymin EX (ROS 77)
- 3 – N
- 4 – Professor Sycamore
- 2 – Lysandre
- 4 – Ultra Ball
- 4 – VS Seeker
- 3 – Trainers’ Mail
- 3 – Mega Turbo
- 2 – Assault Vest
- 2 – Float Stone
- 3 – Tyranitar Spirit Link
- 2 – Switch
- 3 – Team Magma’s Secret Base
- 4 – Double Colorless Energy
- 8 – Darkness Energy
The easiest way to put 30 damage (3 damage counters) in play at the moment, especially while providing some energy acceleration, is, of course, “baby” Yveltal’s “Oblivion Wing” attack. When playing the deck, your goal is to attach a “Float Stone” to an Yveltal, apply the 30 damage from its attack, retreat on the following turn to your Mega Tyranitar (if it is ready) and nuke whatever you set up with Yveltal. If your Mega is not ready, it is best to try and use “Lysandre” and attack another target with “Oblivion Wing”. The more Pokemon you get 30 damage on, the more likely you are to sweep the game with your Mega. As a 2nd option for getting that initial damage in play, Joel added 3 copies of the “Team Magma’s Secret Base” Stadium, as it requires any Basic Pokemon to take 2 damage counters when played from your hand to the bench (while the Stadium is in play, of course).
Tyranitar’s bag of tricks goes a little deeper than its overlooked attack. It also sports one of the Ancient Traits given only to the pokemon from the Roaring Skies, Primal Clash and Ancient Origins sets. The Trait, “Theta Double”, states that Mega Tyranitar can attach a 2nd Tool card, a trait shared only with Entei, Vespiquen (the bad one), Gyarados (the good one) and Metagross. The speed of the current meta (while not as ridiculous as the “Night March” era) still seems fast enough to make the “Tyranitar Spirit Link” card feel necessary. However, the option of the 2nd Tool card is still amazing in this format. We opted for “Assault Vest”, anticipating Special Energy cards to be used in popular decks like Mega Mewtwo EX, Yveltal EX variants and Vespiquen/Zebstrika. “Assault Vest” reduces damage done by a pokemon with Special Energy attached by 40 damage. Mega Tyranitar already sports a beefy 240 HP which elevates to Grade A beef when it grows to essentially 280 HP with “Assault Vest”. While the opportunity never presented itself in the League Cup, the possibility of mega-evolving without a “Spirit Link” and attaching 2 “Assault Vest” is always there. Gym Leader Joel has only done so twice in online games, both resulting in concessions by his opponents. As just mentioned, this is the deck that Gym Leader Joel took to the League Cup in Lynchburg at Star Port on 12/27, an event that pointed out some necessary changes.
The 1st change that Gym Leader Joel suggests to this list is the Stadium card used. In the 5 round tournament, Joel went 2nd in 4 of the 5 games he played. With heavy counts of Shaymin EX and Hoopa EX in opposing decks, each of his opponents had the majority of their Basic Pokemon benched before he ever played a card. Once they were in place, the “Team Magma” Stadium was basically useless. As Joel used only 1 each of Hoopa/Shaymin EX (to ensure that multiple Tyranitar were always down on the opening turn), he would likely change the Stadium count to either 3 “Silent Lab” or 2 “Silent Lab” and 1 “Parallel City”. “Silent Lab” is a great counter Stadium to Volcanion EX and Mega Gardevoir EX decks, as it can disable the “Steam Up” ability and all of the abilities that Gardevoir tries to recycle over and over. The “City” Stadium is generally used in a deck like this to cut your own bench to 3 pokemon, allowing you to discard your own Shaymin EX and Hoopa EX before they become easy prizes for your opponent.
While the Stadium change seems to be a “no-brainer”, the other change is a little more debatable. Gym Leader Logan suggested using the Tool card “Heavy Boot” over “Assault Vest”. At 1st this didn’t seem like any comparison, as “Vest” appeared to be the best option. However, as Joel lost to a Volcanion deck and narrowly fell to a Mega Mewtwo (that either did not attach or simply did not use Double Colorless Energy), the “Vest” no longer appeared to be the best option. While “Vest” can sometimes add at least 40 HP to Tyranitar, “Heavy Boot” always adds 20 HP, which could save you from a KO. The +20 in addition to Tyranitar‘s Psychic-type resistance, gives you the best chance to survive a turn against Mega Mewtwo EX. The reason that we continue to reference Mewtwo is that, outside of a random Zygarde EX deck, Mega Mewtwo is the only deck capable of reliably 1-hitting Tyranitar. Volcanion EX can reach maximum of 260 damage in 1 turn, but it has to have all 4 EX in play, a “Fury Belt” and enough energy to “Steam Up” 4 times. Yveltal EX can, in theory, 1-hit “T-Tar”, but has to have in excess of 7 energy attached to itself (plus 4 on Tyranitar). Both of these scenarios are possible, but not likely to happen in a real game.
As for the League Cup, Joel piloted the deck to a 2-3 record. The final record should have evened out at 2-2-1 (a tie), as his final game (Round 5) was at a stand-still as time approached. With only 1 prize card left to his opponent’s 4 prize cards, Joel’s opponent (who was playing Vileplume/Regice/etc) used “Lysandre” to trap a Mega in the Active spot. Unable to retreat after a few turns, Joel played a “Sycamore” to draw the remainder his deck rather than tie and sink both players. If there was a concession to be made, the game should have gone to Joel who was winning handily, but alas a tie served neither player in the last round in their efforts to make the Top 8, so Joel took the high road (in which a concession cannot be asked for, only accepted if offered… and JR did not offer). As for the other games, here’s how they played out.
Round 1 was the narrow loss to Mega Mewtwo EX where his opponent used “Lysandre” to catch around Mega Tyranitar, taking a Shaymin EX to win the game (“Parallel City” would have remedied this one). Round 2 was a win but was a hideous match-up, as his opponent played Mega Blastoise EX and full complement of “Rough Seas”. The Stadium made it impossible to keep damage on the field, but Joel still eked out that win. Round 3 was a complete squashing of a Vespiquen/Zebstrika deck, in which Joel simply used the Basic Tyranitar EX and “Lysandre” to take out every Combee that hit the field. The win set him up for a Round 4 dismantling by a very fast Volcanion deck. The lone highlight of this game was Joel’s only KO of a Volcanion EX in which Joel hit it for 770 damage, plus the 110 already on it, for a total of 880. Both players jokingly agreed that an 800+ damage KO should be a new win condition.
We wish we had kept some sort of log to note the different damage totals hit over the course of the event. Several KO’s were in the 300-400+ damage range. We dare say that out of the 50+ attendees, Joel carried the day in terms of total damage dealt. The over-kill is, of course, not necessary to win… but it is a lot of fun to do. The 2-3 record was not ideal, but not too shabby for a rogue deck played deep into this entrenched mid-season that carries a decent variety of decks, but few surprises at this point. The deck as played, obviously needed a little fine tuning. The changes mentioned above should solidify its performance. Is this the best Tyranitar has to offer as this point? We’ve tried it with “Bats”, as well as with Mega Alakazam. We feel pretty comfortable in saying that in the Standard Format, this is Tyranitar with his best foot forward. The deck sets up reasonably fast, is not hindered by Ability-lock, “tanks” on a level that rivals Wailord and deals damage on a level that no other deck is capable of at the moment. To top off everything else… it is fun to play a game centered around one of Pokemon’s greatest tributes to the classic Kaiju
Check back soon as we finally have the pieces in place to deliver Ian’s 1st deck article. We will post that in a few days and then return to our look at the Mega Pokemon who just want a little love. Don’t forget that Sun & Moon pre-releases began this weekend. Gym Leader Marthe will be with Kevin’s gang in Lynchburg today, 1/22/17 and then the Gym will be in Lexington on Monday, 1/23/17. The Gym’s own Fincastle pre-release will take place next Sunday, 1/29/17, at our normal league time. Gym Leader’s Joel and Georgia will host league today in Fincastle at our regular time. See you at the Gym!