2017 Spotlight On Mega Love #2: Agnes Gru

This week we are returning to our Mega-love feature, which we have to admit was not intentional, but does fall nicely into place in terms of timing as Valentine’s Day approaches.  If you are like us, you are surely being bombarded by advertisements with all sorts of “loving” ideas that you can order with a convenient app and have delivered to your beloved, without taking away valuable moments of your iPhone duties.  In the last few days, we’ve seen everything from comfy jammies to giant bears, gourmet dipped strawberries to Zyppahs (because fluff1nothing says “I love you” like a device that says, “Shut up & quit snoring!”), to roses made out of beef jerky.  Mmmmm, beef jerky roses…..  Sorry, lost our train of thought for a minute.  Traditionally, Gym Leader Joel has been a lover of the stuffed animal.  Stuffed animals don’t wilt, can’t make you gain weight, always fit and generally do not offend (although in this day & age, I’m sure some little snowflake somewhere has taken issue w/a little puppy holding a heart that says, “I Wuv You”).  We hope that when you look at the featured pokemon today, like any good stuffed animal, you will exclaim, “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!”

fluff2Speaking of fluffy, Altaria was likely able to claim the title of fluffiest pokemon long before the introduction of Mega pokemon.  Sure, Mareep is pretty fluffy, but is it worth all the pain and risk of electrocution?  I mean, if you really love sheep and you’re into that whole pain thing, then more power to you.  Altaria has always offered a more pain-free option and always looks so dang happy.  Its fluffy meter surpassed all measure when Altaria was given the Mega treatment.  Mega Altaria looks like it is being consumed by fluff, almost like it was tarred and feathered by a really fabulous interior designer.  This was a necessary costume change for it to make its way over from the ranks of Dragon-types to join the Fairy-types.  While some VG players have found it useful as a “Trick Room” setter, few in the TCG have given it much of a chance (we thought someone made the top cut at a Regional event w/Mega Altaria, but could not find the info).

fluff3The list that Gym Leader Joel is featuring today is like many of the 100’s of lists that he keeps in his library of decks in the PTCGO.  Joel builds the deck and plays it against the feeble computer opponents while he works out the obvious bugs in the decklist.  Once he has something that sets up reasonably well, he takes it on to to play real online opponents.  Playing the deck online provides a better sense of the merits of the list, as there is mix of players available there, ranging from good players playing good lists, to not-so-good players playing good lists, to players trying out new ideas, to monkeys banging on the keyboard with a stick.  The biggest weakness in the online testing is that when you do get a decent-to-strong start in a game, you rarely get to see the game play out, as players are very quick to quit games.  The only true testing (if you are not playing someone else’s tested list) for a deck is to play real opponents who are playing meta-based decks.

Joel’s Mega Altaria list, much like the Mega Tyranitar deck, saw its 1st real action in what turned out to be a small League Challenge (3 rounds and no cut).  The mix of decks was not sufficient to pass much judgment on the deck.  However, a match against fellow Gym Leader Logan was at least enough to point out a flaw or 2.  Here is a look at the list, then we will look at the strategy and how it played.

 

Agnes Gru:

  • 3 – Altaria EX (FCO 123)
  • 3 – M Altaria EX (FCO 121)
  • 2 – Trubbish (BKP 56)
  • 2 – Garbodor (BKP 57)
  • 1 – Mewtwo (EVO 51)
  • 2 – Shaymin EX (ROS 77)
  • 1 – Hoopa EX (AOR 36)

 

  • 3 – Altaria Spirit Link
  • 2 – Enhanced Hammer
  • 3 – Fairy Garden
  • 3 – Float Stone
  • 2 – Mega Turbo
  • 1 – Super Rod
  • 1 – Special Charge
  • 4 – Ultra Ball
  • 3 – Trainers’ Mail
  • 3 – VS Seeker
  • 2 – Professor Sycamore
  • 4 – N
  • 2 – Lysandre
  • 1 – Pokemon Center Lady
  • 1 – Pokemon Ranger

 

  • 7 – Fairy Energy
  • 4 – Double Colorless

 

fluff4The strategy of this deck is not too unlike the Mega Manectric builds that Gym Leaders Georgia and Logan dominated Juniors & Seniors with last season.  Mega Altaria’s attack, “Mist Purge”, for 1 Fairy and 1 Double Colorless energy, does 130 AND heals 30 damage from each of your pokemon (a built in “Rough Seas” stadium that heals regardless of type).  Much like Manectric, the 130 damage from Mega Altaria is not going to 1-hit a lot of pokemon in the game.  However, it sets up 2-hits on almost anything.  Plus, the 130 damage is enough to take out a Shaymin EX for those last 2 prize cards in a close match.  Also like Manectric, Mega Altaria is not hindered by ability lock or even item lock once you are set up.  With the “Fairy Garden” stadium, Altaria (again like Manectric) can free-retreat, when needed, to heal while you attack with another one.  Like Manectric, this deck is more about the consistent onslaught than about overwhelming someone with a big hitter.

As much as we bemoan the unlockable ability lock of Garbodor, the “Garbotoxin” ability is the weight that evens the match-up scales of this deck with most of the mainstream decks at the moment.  Ability lock destroys flash2Greninja and cripples Volcanion (although a good Volcanion player may be able to keep up if they play smart.  The lock hinders Mega Gardevoir, but as you will see in a minute, a good player can still work around it.  Mega Altaria’s resistance to Darkness-types gives it the advantage over Yveltal and Darkrai variants.  Once “Garbotoxin” is activated, decks that include Giratina EX also provide an easy 1-hit for Mega Altaria, as Giratina is weak to Fairy-types and defenseless once its “Renegade Pulse” ability is cancelled.

As is the case for almost every deck in the format at the moment, Mega Altaria has an auto-loss.  Mega Scizor spells doom for all of the Fairy-type decks, especially this one, as Scizor devours its much needed special energy and stadiums and hits all of the Fairy-types for weakness.  Mega Altaria keeps pace with Mega fluff5Mewtwo fairly well.  Well-timed plays of the “Enhanced Hammer” cards are necessary to keep Mewtwo from getting big enough to 1-hit Altaria (requires 4 energy on M Mewtwo if M Altaria has 3 attached to it).  The ability to retreat for free and fight with 2 or 3 different Altaria will likely swing this match.  If it does not, the lone copy of Mewtwo (EVO) can easily catch that Mega Mewtwo player off guard, as you can power it with a single Double Colorless energy and hit Mega Mewtwo EX for weakness.

Joel walked away from the league challenge with a 1-2 record which was an unfortunate showing for this fluff monster.  The 1st round was a win against a well-built Darkrai EX/Hypno deck (“Goodnight Babies”), the combo that Pokemon surely intended when the Breakpoint set was constructed.  Unfortunately, it is one of many decks that rely on abilities and is crippled by Garbodor.  VG Gym Leader Dean put a good fight, but by the time he had caught and KO’d all of the Garbodor, Joel was too far ahead.  This was the only game where Joel had a chance to use and re-use the “Pokemon Center Lady” supporter.  The addition of this card to the healing from “Mist Purge” allowed Joel to heal all damage from the field at one point.  It would be easy to try to expand the healing methods of this deck with cards like “Fairy Drop” or “Fresh Water Set” if that side of this deck appeals to you.

The Round 2 loss was one of those games that no deck can account for.  The deck was basically, Sceptile EX/Ariados, but played 4 “Red Card”, what appeared to be a full line of “Delinquent” (don’t know the count) and a mix of stadiums.  Joel fluff6had a great opening turn, but was relegated quickly to top drawing in one of those “not here to make friends” matches that suck the life out this game.  His reward for that torture was playing Logan in Round 3, who knew exactly how to pick this list apart with his Mega Gardevoir deck, winning the game with 3 consecutive KO’s of Shaymin EX, Hoopa EX, Shaymin EX, rendering the healing and ability lock useless.  This did, at least reveal the needed fixes to this deck.

citystadThis deck, much like the Mega Tyranitar deck, was vulnerable because of the stadium cards.  In this case, it was the omission of a stadium card that swung Mega Altaria’s fate.  Changing the stadium count to 2 “Fairy Garden” and 1 “Parallel City” is essential in this list.  We, like many players, have found that the best use for “Parallel City” is to discard your own Hoopa EX and Shaymin EX after they help you get the big 1st turn that is necessary for any Mega deck to work.  We played a low count (2) of “Professor Sycamore” and a full line of “N”, as this deck contains a lot of cards that you don’t want to lose in the opening turns.  We could easily tweak this back to a more aggressive build, as it already has a copy of “Special Charge” to recover the Double Colorless energies.  The inclusion of the card, “Eco Arm”  (return 3 tools laserbeamsfrom discard to deck) would be required in our opinion, as the tool cards in this deck are too vital to toss with “Sycamore” without some means of recovery.  The only answer we have to the player that shows up with a 4 “Red Card”/4 “Delinquent” deck is a trap door under their seat into a pool of sharks with frickin’ laser beams… or at least some mutated sea bass.  Our point is, of course, there is no answer for a deck like that when it works.

We like how Altaria plays, as it is easy to set up with this build and it provides that “tanking” mechanic that is not common among mainstream decks at the moment.  We would like to play it with a few changes to this list at a larger event with a little more variety and see how it fairs.  We hesitate to give it better than a fluff750/50 match-up against decks that don’t rely heavily on abilities until it gets that real field testing.  We love its chances against anything with abilities and anything that is not Mega Scizor.  We hope that its fluffiness does not lead to actual death or any other side effects.  If you are stuck looking for that Valentine’s gift for that special someone that plays pokemon, build them this beautiful (the Altaria EX/Mega Altaria full-art cards have amazing artwork), fluffy, inexpensive deck.  It won’t spoil (for a couple of years, anyway), it fits all sizes and it’s as cute as any stuffed animal.  And don’t worry, you don’t have to tell them where you got it.  See you at the Gym!

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