Thursday, 24 April 2014

Flash in the Pan by Clinton Matos

Hello fellow fools, I’m Clint Matos, a Johannesburg TCG masters player who will be taking over Pure Fool's Gold for today to give you an in depth look at the next TCG set: Flashfire. The set will be hitting our shores on the 7th of May, but because of our friends in Japan, we already have scans and English translations of the entire set. 
I’ll only be looking at the cards I personally think will be, either in this format or the next, competitively viable.

The Trainers

Sacred Ash - Trainer

Item
Choose 5 Pokémon from your discard pile and shuffle them into your deck.

Sacred Ash may just look like a slightly different Super Rod, but it’s much more than that. Having the ability to shuffle so many Pokémon back into the deck means that “swarm” decks (like Weavile and quad Garchomp) can play less Super Rod and more consistency and/or tech cards (which they generally need). 

But the biggest draw of this card is actually going to be its function in the next format, many people speculate that Super Rod will be rotated out of the format this year, which means that it will be our only option to easily recover multiple Pokémon.

Surprise Megaphone - Trainer

Item
Discard all Pokémon Tools attached to your opponent's Pokémon.

Continuing with the replacement of old cards with newer, better (faster, stronger – Daft Punk) cards, comes Surprise Megaphone. Instead of Tool Scrapper’s paltry two tool card discard, Surprise Megaphone discards all of the tools on your opponent’s side of the field. With almost every deck in the format playing muscle band, and Garbodor variants being the most popular in our metagame right now, this card looks like it will change the metagame all on its own. Will it? I don’t think so. 
Tell the world!

The tools we have at the moment are just too good not to play, and remember that tools like Muscle Band have an effect on the users turn, so Surprise Megaphone doesn't affect their power, just their longevity on the field. What it does mean, however, is that passive tools like Hard Charm will be affected. And remember, Tool Scrapper and tools have danced this dance for two years now: as Surprise Megaphone/ Tool Scrapper becomes more popular, tools will decrease in play. When that happens, Surprise Megaphone/ Tool Scrapper will decrease in play and tools will become more popular, and the cycle will repeat. 

One more caveat with Tool Scrapper is the oft-forgotten ability to discard your own tools which is sometimes very handy in Garbodor and Genesect decks.

Oh, and this card basically kills Tool Drop Decks. RIP purple rubbish bag, RIP.


Flame Torch - Trainer

Item
Discard 1 Fire Energy from your hand, then draw 2 cards from your deck.

The first card to show some fire-love in the set bearing its name, Flame Torch brings us something rather rare for non-Supporter trainer cards by bringing us draw power, joining Bicycle and Roller Skates (this card should have been called Skate Board to continue the theme though L ). On its own this card is rather bland and limited to fire decks, but it is much better with the new Blacksmith supporter which we’ll see soon.


Protect Cube – Trainer

Item
The Pokémon this card is attached to receives no damage from its own attacks.

Remember when using Zekrom BW with Eviolite to negate some of its recoil damage from Bolt Strike was all the rage? Well Pokémon seems to have caught on to this by providing us with Protect Cube, which negates all recoil damage. This card is rather limited as only Zekrom BW, Reshiram EX and the new Mega Charizard can make full use of it, but I think in future formats Mega Charizard will be a Mega Evolution which is actually played, and you never know when there might be a new Pokémon introduced with a recoil move, or Zekrom BW becomes more playable, so hang onto any copies you might get.


Pal Pad - Trainer

Item
Shuffle 2 Supporter cards from your discard pile back into your deck.

Pal Pad is one of those cards that has such a simple effect, but is ultimately very powerful. Not only does it finally give us a way to recover supporters outside of Dowsing Machine or Sableye, but it increases your likely hood of drawing into supporters. I really like this card, and anyone who has faced the horror of a bad opening hand with multiple Professor Junipers will understand why.

Lysandre - Trainer

Supporter
Choose 1 of your opponent's Benched Pokémon and switch it with his or her Active Pokémon.

Old Pokémon Catcher is back! As a supporter... Lysandre falls into the realm of niche supporters, but I see it being a powerful tech, especially for decks which need to clinch big KOs (like Blastoise decks, which actually play a few tech Pokémon Catcher) or decks which have built in draw support (like Emboar/Delphox).


"I can see into your soul."

Pokémon Center Lady - Trainer

Supporter
Heal 60 HP from one of your Pokémon and remove any special conditions from it.

With Potion, Super Potion and Max Potion in the format, the only use I see out of Pokémon Center Lady (come on, we’re all just going to call her Nurse Joy) is a part of a stall deck to keep a tank Pokémon alive as long as possible in combination with the items mentioned earlier. This card may see play in early adapters of Mega Evolution decks, which seek to stall your opponent while you set up a Mega Evolution.

Oh, and by the way, did you want to sleep tonight? Too bad, look at the Full Art version of this card:



Editor's note: I can see the resemblance.

Blacksmith - Trainer

Supporter
Choose 2 [R] Energy from your discard pile and attach them to 1 of your [R] Pokémon.


So I’m going to spoil the rest of the article and say that this is my favourite card from the whole set, bar none.  I’ve always been wary of supporters which don’t let you draw any cards. I have horrendous luck and often draw dead in decks where I play 15 supporters. That being said, I think the format is ripe for a supporter like this to thrive; we have Roller Skates, Bicycle and most importantly Flame Torch to let you draw cards, while still using Blacksmith. Lastly, Delphox could always be dropped into a fire deck as a draw engine and non-ex/evolution attacker.

Also, my family comes from a long line of blacksmiths and I even have a full on coal furnace in my back yard, so I may be a bit biased.

The Pokémon

Shiftry - Grass - HP140

Stage 2 - Evolves from Nuzleaf
Ability: Leaf Draw
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard a [G] Energy from your hand. If you do, draw 3 cards.
[G][C][C] Frenzy Dance: 20x damage. This attack does 20 damage times the number of Benched Pokémon (both yours and your opponent's).
Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2


Shiftry reminds me of Empoleon quite a lot: both are Stage 2s with an ability which lets you draw cards after discarding, and an attack which does damage according to the number of Pokémon in play. Is Shiftry better? I don’t think so. Its ability needs a specific card unlike Empoleon, which limits it quite a lot, especially when you’ll be looking at the ability to get you out of bad hands and you can’t continually recycle Exeggcute. And it’s attack, although more powerful, needs too many energy which makes streaming Shiftry much more difficult as well as making it extremely easy for Yveltal EX to knock out. Finally, its type is horrible with all the new fire-types coming out.


Pyroar


It’s been a long time since a single card has threatened the metagame so much, before its even been released! The game is so dominated by basic attackers that every single deck that everyone calls “Top Tier” depends on them to, you know, attack and win games. If you play Pyroar, and your opponent doesn't have non-basic Pokémon or a way to negate Intimidating Mane, you win the game. It’s as simple as that. I could write a whole article about the fiery lion, but I’m just going to say this: Garbodor-based decks are going to have a massive surge in play, and no deck will be made without considering this one card for a very long time.


The Lannisters send their regards.




Charizard-EX - Fire - HP180

Basic Pokémon 
[C] Flare Up: Flip a coin. If heads, search your deck for 3 basic Energy and attach them to this Pokémon. Shuffle your deck afterwards.
[R][C][C][C] Fire Blast: 120 damage. Discard 1 Energy attached to this Pokémon.
When a Pokémon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Water (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2


The first of the plethora of Charizard in this set, is not that good... and kinda derpy. Charizard EX’s only advantage is being its ability to accelerate onto itself, which sets it up to Mega Evolve. Even then, it may just be easier to power up your Mega Evolution with something like Emboar, which also prevents Yveltal EX from coming in after you've used Flare Up and taking a big chunk of your beloved dragon.

Charizard-EX - Fire - HP180

Basic Pokémon
[C][C][C] Wing Attack: 60 damage.
[R][R][C][C] Flame Explosion: 150 damage. During your next turn, this Pokémon can't use Flame Explosion.
Weakness: Water (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2


A lot of people are going bananas over the fiery dragon from this set, and here’s why: it can do 170 damage on the first turn. Yip, you read that right. So here’s the scenario for that magical event to happen: you would need to go second, and then have a Charizard EX, a Muscle Band, a Double Colourless Energy, a Blacksmith and then a way of getting two fire energy into the discard. Yeah, good luck with that. 

Now I may sound a bit pessimistic here, but I actually believe a solid deck could be built around everyone’s favourite starter, but hoping to do 170 on your first turn every game will leave you very disappointed, and with a horrible record in a serious tournament.
[Editor's note: Bulbasaur is MY favourite starter.]

One more thing you should seriously consider is that Reshiram EX exists. Remember him? Well, he basically does the same job as Charizard EX, but better. I see any Charizard EX deck being like a Blastoise or Emboar deck; setting up and then going for three straight OHKOs on EXs for 6 prizes and the game. Reshiram EX is much better for this job because its Brave Fire attack can be used every damn turn without needing to go to the bench to reset like Charizard needs to with Flame Explosion

Add to this the fact that Reshiram EX has a better first attack to fall back on, and the only thing Charizard EX has over it is the slightly better retreat cost (which isn't as much as a boon as one might think, as Reshiram EX is searchable with Heavy Ball).
Can I be competitive yet?


Mega Charizard(s)


I’m lumping the two Mega Charizards together since they basically do the same thing: hit things. Very, very hard. When Rayquaza EX is rotated out, these two will become the only (competitive) Pokémon which can OHKO 99% of Pokémon on the other side of the board. I don’t think they will ever become popular, because I think that about all Mega Evolutions. If we ever get into a metagame which revolves around Mega Evolutions, then these two will become relevant, but up until then, keep them because they look awesome.

Oh, and if you’re wondering which is better, the Y version beats out the X version every day of the week: a simple energy type cost combined with a much better retreat cost is a tiny price to pay for 10 less HP. Additionally, Crimson Dive’s recoil can be completely negated with Protect Cube, while Wild Blaze will always be extremely damaging to the person using it.


X = bad

Y = better




















Milotic - Water - HP100

Stage 1 - Evolves from Feebas
Ability: Energy Grace
You may Knock Out this Pokémon. If you do, select 3 basic Energy from your discard pile and attach them to 1 of your Pokémon (excluding Pokémon-EX). You may only use this ability once per turn.
[W][C][C] Waterfall: 60 damage.
Weakness: Grass (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2


I've always been wary of cards that knock themselves out on purpose, and I don’t think Miltonic is going to change that.  I understand how powerful Energy Grace is, but it’s a matter of time and place that keeps it down: needing to have energy in the discard makes it significantly weaker than if that energy came directly from the deck, and in a metagame ruled by weaker than if that energy came directly from the deck, and in a metagame ruled by Yveltal Ex, attaching multiple energies in a turn is very dangerous. 

Lastly, I don’t think there is a non-EX attacker which is worth the sacrifice, especially when they generally have much less HP, and you can put yourself in a horrible position where you power up a Pokémon with Energy Grace, only for it to be knocked out and your opponent suddenly being 2 prizes ahead.

I do, however, have a sneaking suspicion that a player much better than myself will come along and make an incredible deck with this card. Until then, keep it in your binder and hope that player shares his deck list. 


Luvdisc - Water - HP60


Basic Pokémon
[C] Heart Wink: Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent does not draw a card at the beginning of his or her turn.
[W][C] Spike Draw: 20 damage. Draw a card.
Weakness: Grass (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1


Okay, no other Blog or Pokémon-related site talked about Luvdisc, but that’s what makes Pure Fool’s Gold different! 
[Editor's note: that's what makes PF'sG the coolest in the 'hood.]

In all seriousness, Heart Wink in conjunction with hand disruption cards like Red Card and Hooligans Jim and Cas, or deck milling cards like Aggron, could be a good attack. And don’t forget that you can pair it with Victini so you can get a second flip on Heart Wink

How would you win a game this way? What would happen if you keep flipping tails? How would you live down playing a fish shaped as a heart? How many times will Pooka play this on Bad Deck Monday? I don’t know, but I still love this card (do you get it?!?!? one!1!?1!).



Dusknoir


All that can really be said about Dusknoir is that it’s a much weaker Damage Swap Reuniclus, and it will eventually replace Reuniclus when it is rotated out.


Toxicroak-EX - Psychic - HP170

Basic Pokémon
[C][C] Trioxic: Your opponent's Active Pokémon is now Poisoned. Between turns put 3 damage counters on it instead of 1.
[P][P][C] Smash Uppercut: 80 damage. This attack isn't affected by Resistance.
When Pokémon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1


Toxicroak EX will only be used for Trioxic and if the English translation allows it to stack with Virbank City Gym doing 50 damage between turns for only a Double Colourless energy and a stadium is actually pretty good, but it will have to be combined with a cheap attacker and/or Damage Swap Reuniclus to make use of that cheap damage.


Barbanacle

This may seem like a strange card to put here, and on its own Barbanacle is a hopeless card, but it may be better in future formats. The set after Flashfire, Rising Fist, is going to be focused on fighting types, so we may see something like a fighting type energy accelerator or special fighting energy which makes Barbanacle (and a lot of other fighting types) much better.


The Karate Kid

Forretress - Metal - HP100

Stage 1 - Evolves from Pineco
Ability: Rain of Spikes
When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon, put 1 damage counter on each of your opponent's Pokémon.
[C][C] Iron Fall: 20+ damage. This attack does 20 more damage times the amount of Energy in your opponent's Active Pokémon's Retreat Cost.
Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
Retreat: 1


This could be a pretty good damage spreader if you combine it with Devolution Spray, particularly in this format where big benches are extremely common. Expect cheap attackers and/or Damage Swap Reuniclus to partner with it, just like Toxicroak EX.


Floette - Fairy - HP70

Stage 1 - Evolves from Flabebe
Ability: Flower Veil
Each of your [G] Pokémon gets +20 HP.
[Y] Fairy Wind: 20 damage.
Weakness: Metal (x2)
Resistance: Darkness (-20)
Retreat: 1


Playing a similar role to Plasma Umbreon, Floette seeks to make your Pokémon more bulky by way of increasing their base HP. A lot of people are already thinking about slotting this card into Virizion/Genesect, which may be where it spends most of its life. To be honest; Plasma Umbreon never really did anything special, so I don’t see why this might. Then again, this can increase the HP of Mega Venasuar. Slap on a Giant Cape and you could have a Pokémon with 330 HP. Mega Charizard Y still knocks you out because of weakness though...


Druddigon - Dragon - HP110

Basic Pokémon 
[C][C] Revenge: 20+ damage. If 1 of your Pokémon was Knocked Out by an attack during your opponent's last turn, this attack does 70 more damage.
[R][W][C][C] Dragon Claw: 80 damage.
Weakness: Fairy (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2


Ah, Revenge returns on a new Pokémon with a better type and energy cost. Druddigon’s only use is going to be countering Rayquaza EX, Black Kyurem EX and any other dragon-types who get printed with dragon weakness. Outside of that, its second attack is just so expensive and awkward that you’ll never use it.
Aaaaaand, you get to use Druddigon! He’s so cool.





Dragalge

So the Pre-release promo is actually going to be semi-playable! Dragalge is going to see some fringe play with Toxicroak EX, but I don’t see it doing much outside of that. It is also hurt by the fact that Switch is going to see an increase in play after Surprise Megaphone scares everyone out of using Float Stone.


Kangaskhan-EX - Colorless - HP180

Basic Pokémon
[C] Triple Draw: Draw 3 cards.
[C][C][C] Family Kick: 70+ damage. Flip a coin. If heads, this attack does 30 more damage.
When a Pokémon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

This really shouldn't be here, but a colourless EX is always going to see some play due to its splashability, its consistency boosting attack, and the fact that it can Mega Evolve.
[Editor's note: he says it shouldn't be here and then puts it here? Kangashkan is a beast in the VGC, but TCG.. it sucks like Sucker Punch ;)]


M Kangaskhan-EX - Colorless - HP230

Mega Evolution - Evolves from Kangaskhan-EX
When 1 of your Pokémon becomes a Mega Evolution, your turn ends.
[C][C][C] Gangan Punch: 100+ damage. Flip a coin until you get tails. This attack does 30 more damage for each heads.
When a Pokémon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3


This could be good... colourless typing means it can receive any form of energy acceleration, and Aspertia City Gym makes it even more bulky. On top of that, Gangan Punch does have an unlimited damage cap, as long as you’re incapable of flipping tails. Muscle band brings Gangan Punch’s base damage up to 120, so flipping only 2 heads in a row takes down any EXs. Good luck to you if you play this.


Conclusion

Wow, that took much longer than I thought!  A big thank you if you made it all this way, and a big thank you to Gavin and Stephen for the soap box. 
I have a lot more I want to write about; much more about Pyroar, how current decks change with this set and new decks which will be created from it (including a secret deck Stephen and I have been talking about ;) ).
Feel free to argue with me in the comments
Until next time, fellow fools.
-Clinton

All images and translations courtesy of pokebeach.com

Prankster Pokémon Part 2: Meowstic-M

Meowstic-M
It's been quite a while since the previous installment with Murkrow in the Prankster Pokémon segment. To have access to the Prankster version of Meowstic, you'll need to have a male with the hidden ability, as the female gets Competitive. I'm not going to go into too much detail with this kitty, but it is unique in the sense that it is the only Prankster Pokémon that has access to Quick Guard. What this means is that regardless of the speed of the Fake Out user (as Fake Out and Quick Guard are both +3 priority) Meowstic's QG will always go first, blocking the Fake Out due to the Prankster +1 priority boost. This is great, as it allows us to invest in more bulk :D. Let's take a look at a few simple spreads ->


Meowstic (M) @ Sitrus Berry/Mental Herb
Ability: Prankster
EVs: 252 Hp / 116 Def / 140 Sp.Def
Calm nature
- Quick Guard
- Safeguard
- Swagger
- Charm / Thunder Wave 

When choosing which item to use, I'd lean more towards the Sitrus Berry, as Taunt users aren't that common in the SA metagame. And Sitrus gives it more staying power.The Sp.Def investment is random, but the Def investment allows Meowstic to survive Adamant Mega Kangaskhan 100% of the time.
252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Return vs. 252 HP / 116 Def Meowstic: 153-180 (84.5 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

In choosing between Charm and T-Wave you need to think "Would I rather have speed advantage or have my opponent's Pokémon do less physical damage?". I lean towards the T-Wave option as I find that speed control leads to a better chance at consistent victory.

Weather inducing kitteh:
Meowstic (M) @ Sitrus Berry / Damp Rock / Heat Rock
Ability: Prankster
EVs: 228 Hp / 100 Def / 180 Sp.Def
Calm Nature
- Quick Guard / Rain Dance / Sunny Day
- Helping Hand / Fake Out
- T-Wave / Charm
- Safeguard

This spread is more Sp.Def focused and allows it to survive a Shadow Ball from Aegislash. The weather moves are here to help your weather team be more consistent and to catch your opponent off guard when a Pokémon other than Charizard Y or Politoed brings the weather.

252+ SpA Aegislash-Blade Shadow Ball vs. 228 HP / 180+ SpD Meowstic: 150-176 (84.2 - 98.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Although I've only listed two spreads, Meowstic is a very diverse Pokémon and can fulfil numerous roles on a team. I'd recommend playing around with whichever moves suit your playstyle, but I always felt like Meowstic needs a fifth moveslot. There are just so many choices :D

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Tinkering with a new team

Howdy folks!

I went to League yesterday to battle my friend and fellow VGC connoisseur, Rogan Botha. I was able to see how well my (roughly unchanged) previous team would fair against his Regionals winning team. We had some absolutely crazy battles and I was able to gain some insightful knowledge into where I want to steer my team.
With this newfound knowledge, I felt like it was time to make a brand new team and try it out. Let's jump right into it, shall we?

Pyroar (M)

Pyroar is a Pokémon that I didn't like at first due to its pre-evolution, Litleo (who I think looks rubbish). However, in the search for an intersting fire-type Pokémon, I glanced this guys move pool and found them quite lacking. It has access to both STAB Hyper Voice (I don't like Hyper Beam all that much) and Overheat. And that's about it, really. Snarl was an option, but I wanted to have Hidden Power Ice to be able to hit those Dragons for super effective damage. It's sitting at an interesting speed bracket, with a base 106 Speed. This allows it to outspeed Garchomp and has a pretty darn good change to OHKO with HP Ice (I'll provide the calcs later on ;) ). I previously had Rivalry as my ability, but its only useful if ALL of your opponent's Pokémon are the same gender, otherwise your attacks do 25% less base damage. Which is totally rubbish and inconsistent. So I went for Unnerve instead which should prove more useful in an overall view.

Snoop Lion (Pyroar Male)
Unnerve - Timid Nature @ Life Orb
4 HP/252 SpAtk/252 Speed
-Hyper Voice
-Overheat
-Hidden Power (Ice)
-Protect

Here are some calcs to show you guys what it does:

VS Garchomp (4 HP Jolly)
252 SpA Life Orb Pyroar Hidden Power Ice vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Garchomp: 182-218 (98.9 - 118.4%) -- 93.8% chance to OHKO

VS Amoonguss (252 HP/252 SDef Calm)
252 SpA Life Orb Pyroar Overheat vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Amoonguss: 213-252 (96.3 - 114%) -- 81.3% chance to OHKO

Raichu

The lightning mouse that is constantly overshadowed by its younger sibling, Pikachu, in terms of popularity. Although I do think Raichu is a wee tad weak, its selling point is its awesome 110 base speed stat. That is absolutely bananas in my opinion. I use this guy as a support Pokémon with Fake Out and Encore. I'm running Focus Sash on it to allow it to actually do something on the field.

LT. SPLURGE (Raichu) 
Lightningrod - Timid Nature @ Focus Sash
4 HP/252 SpAtk/252 Speed
-Fake Out
-Thunderbolt
-Encore
-Protect

Here is a calc against Talonflame, which actually has a speed tie with Raichu if the T-flame is Adamant max speed:
252 SpA Raichu Thunderbolt vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Talonflame: 164-194 (106.4 - 125.9%) -- guaranteed OHKO

Venusaur


This guy gets SUPER bulky when it mega evolves, and its ability Thick Fat is absolutely crazy. With Thick Fat, Mega Venusaur only has 2 weaknesses: Flying and Psychic. The latter isn't all that common, but with Talonflame doing the rounds, you'll have problems with the Flying attacks. In mega form, Venusaur is able to survive a Life Orb-boosted Brave Bird much better than its regular form.

Le Soleil <3 (Venusaur) 
Chlorophyll -> Thick Fat - Bold Nature @ Venusaurite
252 HP/68 Def/60 SDef/128 SpAtk
-Protect
-Sleep Powder
-Giga Drain
-Sludge Bomb

Calcs:

VS Timid Mega Charizard Y in Drought:
252 SpA Mega Charizard Y Overheat vs. 252 HP / 60 SpD Thick Fat Mega Venusaur in Sun: 158-188 (84.4 - 100.5%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
VS Adamant Talonflame:
252+ Atk Life Orb Talonflame Brave Bird vs. 252 HP / 68+ Def Mega Venusaur: 156-187 (83.4 - 100%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
 Like previously mentioned it's crazy bulky to be able to pretty much survive those two attacks!

Machamp

Machamp is a cool guy, he has 4 arms and a speedo. What's not to like about him? I can't really remember the spread for this guy, so I apologise in advance. I EVd him when I was at the coast recently and I was possibly under the influence when I worked out his EV spread. I know I EVd it to OHKO Mega Kangaskhan with a LIFE ORB, but then I realised that I had already given it to Snoop Lion. So I used a Sitrus Berry instead instead. Dynamic Punch with No Guard is really awesome. It guarantees Confusion because it will always connect with the No Guard assistance. Stone Edge is also no longer Stone Miss (I mean that '80%' accuracy is a total hoax), and can dish out tonnes of damage to pretty much anything.

HITS LIKE A (Machamp) 
No Guard - Adamant Nature @ Sitrus Berry
-Wide Guard
-Quick Guard
-Dynamic Punch
-Stone Edge

Gardevoir

I'm using the Dragon Slayer set I mentioned in my previous article. It ouspeeds a lot of important threats to my team, mainly Garchomp though. With Moonblast it can land the OHKO on all Dragons as well as outspeed Greninja and OHKO it too. Choice Scarf is a wonderful thing on this Pokémon.

BLAZEM8 (Gardevoir)
Trace - Modest Nature @ Choice Scarf
228 Speed/196 SpAtk/84 HP
-Moonblast
-Shadow Ball
-Psychic
-Energy Ball

Salamence

Oh wow, good old Salamence, it has been a while. Even though it's best item is Choice Scarf, it was obviously occupied by BLAZEM9 (I really ought to think my item assigning through before I slap a team together). I was tired of using Garchomp, so I decided to bring this guy to the fore. The Intimidate support is incredibly welcome.

Retribution (Salamence)
Intimidate - Timid Nature @ Choice Specs
4 HP/252 SpAtk/252 Speed
-Draco Meteor
-Dragon Pulse
-Sleep Talk (Hi Amoonguss :) )
-Fire Blast

Closing Thoughts

So I haven't actually battled with this team before. I like the stranger choice of Pokémon, especially in Pyroar. But I will get some practice with it before the next local VGC tourney at the Pretoria Pokémon League (I think its the 16th May). So save the date, and make sure you've practiced!

-Gavin




Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Strafing for Days!

Hello once again, readers! Rogue deck time, whoop whoop! Today I want to delve a bit into a deck that took a lot of planning and discussion to get into action, but I was finally able to try out at this last weekend's League Challenge. I present to you to Trevenant/Palkia, or just Strafe for short (alternative names include Spooky Forest or Strafe for Days). :P


Decklist

Pokemon:

  • 1 Snorlax PS101
  • 1 Sigilyph DR52
  • 1 Keldeo EX
  • 2 Palkia EX
  • 3 Deoxys EX
  • 3 Phantump XY 54
  • 3 Trevenant XY 55

Trainers:

  • 1 Computer Search
  • 1 Team Plasma Ball
  • 2 Ultra Ball
  • 1 Evo Soda
  • 1 Professor's Letter
  • 1 Silver Mirror
  • 1 Switch
  • 2 Float Stone
  • 2 Tool Scrapper
  • 2 Muscle Band
  • 3 Colress Machine
  • 3 Pokemon Catcher

Supporters:

  • 1 Ghetsis
  • 2 Bianca
  • 3 Skyla
  • 4 N
  • 4 Juniper

Energy:

  • 4 Psychic
  • 4 Plasma
  • 4 DCE (HGGS as always)
This exact decklist won a Japanese Battle Carnival a few months ago and caused a bit of hype prior to the release of XY in English. I decided to play it just as it was used originally so that I could get a feel for it, and then after a couple games make alterations as I saw fit. My friend Clinton Matos and I were discussing uses for Trevenant even before XY came out, but the rarity of Trevenant itself made playing the deck in real life quite a challenge. Eventually I was able to get enough of the cards myself and borrow the rest from Clinton to take the deck for a spin.


General Strategy

I realize at this point I might have lost you at Trevenant, Strafe or yellow space monkeys, so let me explain the general workings of the deck:


Trevenant 

Everybody's favourite haunted ghost tree is here! The most vital aspect of the deck revolves around Trevenant's Forest Curse ability which prevents your opponent from playing any item cards while Trevenant is in the active spot. This locks your opponent out from playing Dark Patch, G-Booster, Colress Machine, Hypnotoxic Laser, Switch, Rare Candy or any other of those fun item cards which help their decks run. 

It's attack, Tree Slam, is also quite handy as it hits for 60 to the active and 20 to 2 benched Pokemon and is rather easy to power up for a Psychic energy and a DCE.

One important point to make note of here is Trevenant's 110HP. Normally this would be a fair amount for a stage 1, but being weak to Dark, especially now that Yveltal EX is so rampant, means this spooky tree is OHKO'd by an Yveltal EX with 2 energies attached.

Palkia

The space dinosaur is the main attacker of the deck. It's first attack, Strafe, is the only one that you'll be using and is extremely easy to power up as long as you hit the right cards. For 3 colourless energy you deal 50 damage and may switch your active with one of the Pokemon on your bench. You see where this is going, right? The main strategy is to Strafe and switch out to Trevenant, thereby dealing damage and then blocking your opponent from playing any item cards.

Your main attackers - it's up to them
 Strafing for 50 would be quite poor and you would easily find yourself outsped by even the most suckiest of decks. Luckily, Team Plasma decided that Palkia and Deoxys should be team-mates, so Strafe gets an added 10 damage for each Deoxys on your bench because of its Power Connect ability. Throw a Muscle Band onto Palkia and you can find yourself hitting for around 90-100 damage every turn.

Extras

The deck also makes use of Sigilyph and Snorlax as alternative Pokemon to switch to after a Strafe. Both are rather situational, but do give you the option to use them as non-EX attackers or to make use of their abilites; Safeguard to stall out against EX Pokemon and Block to keep your opponent from retreating.

Usually you'd want to have a Float Stone on Trevenant to keep it as mobile as possible to retreat to Palkia so that you can Strafe and then switch back to Trev again. If you find yourself having to attach a Silver Mirror or Muscle Band to Trevenant instead, Keldeo is in the deck to abuse Rush In, and with a Float Stone attachedyou pretty much have a free retreater that gives you more options throughout the game.

Trevor sees all

Experience with the deck

Like I mentioned earlier, I had close to no playtime with the deck before last weekend so I just went with it to see what I could learn. Obviously the deck is extremely powerful in the way that it shuts down your opponents ability to play any item cards which could leave them dead in the water, but I'd like to give a brief overview of the cons and pro's of the deck and the strategy itself.

Pros:

  • Trevenant just straight up disallows your opponent from playing any form of item-based energy acceleration and set up (Gothitelle stage 1 reprint FTW!)
  • Palkia's Strafe only costs 3 colourless and so can easily be powered up and even used turn 1 (if you go second) by attaching a DCE and a single Colress Machine, 2 Colress Machine and a Psychic and so on.
  • Trevenant's Tree Slam, Sigilyph's Psychic and Deoxy's Helix Force are all attacks that can be powered up in one or two turns if you need alternative attackers.

Cons:

  • Due to the fact that Trevenant must be active kinda makes it the scapegoat, because if your opponent can attack then they'll be attacking and KOing it. In nearly every game I played I wanted a way of getting Phantump/Trevenant back so I'd definitely try and squeeze in a Super Rod.
  • I found the supporter line didn't suit my playstyle and I would definitely replace Bianca and even a single Skyla for 3 Shauna to give myself more hand shuffle power.
  • Trevenant does block Yveltal/Garbodor from getting Garbotoxin setup, but Yveltal quite easily OHKO's Trev due to weakness and the rather quick nature of the deck.
  • Dealing 90-100 a turn usually leaves you taking 2HKO's and so gives your opponent the opportunity to constantly retreat the active in an effort to buy time or prevent you from taking prizes.
  • I would personally take out the Sigilyph and Evo Soda for another Float Stone or Muscle Band or even a Lugia or Mewtwo to help take the final prizes.
  • Much of the deck seems rather simple and streamlined (powering up Strafe, Trev being a stage 1, etc) but the deck does take a few turns to set up and there are times that whiffing certain things gives your opponent just enough time to take the initiative and keep the momentum on their side.

Conclusion

purdy*
The deck was and is a lot of fun to play, and I will most certainly tinker with it according to my play-style and preferences. The nature and strategy of the deck is more on the rogue side so you could surprise your opponent and win simply because they might not have a way of dealing with the deck. As with all decks, I cannot stress how important it is to get a feel for a deck and understand how it performs against other big meta decks. That helps you know when to play more conservatively or when to switch to Snorlax or Sigilyph instead of Trevenant for example.

Thanks a lot to Clinton for all the brainstorming and borrowing involved! It was good to actually play a deck that could use all those FA Palkia you have stored in your binder! ;)

That's all from me about rogue decks for now, but there'll be another one up within the week to get your creative juices flowing. Not all random cards are good, but often times certain abilities or combinations come up that specifically counter or block a large part of the meta game. Anyway, enough from me and to all a good night! I hope all this talk of ghosts doesn't leave you scared?
-Stephen 

Burning bush version 2

The Fantasy Core

Hey Fools, today's post is on the Fantasy Core that I've mentioned in previous articles. When it comes to teambuilding, it's not always easy to just slap a few Pokémon together and expect decent synergy. Starting with a solid foundation for your team allows you to add in Pokémon that cater for your specific play-styles.

The Fantasy Core consists of having a fairy type, a dragon type and a steel type in your team. These three types have awesome switching synergy. For example, if you have a Garchomp out and you know your opponent's Salamence is going to Draco Meteor it, instead of using Protect, you can gain momentum by switching your Azumarill in. The Draco Meteor will have no effect and you're now ready to get the ball rolling for your team. Likewise, you could have also switched into Aegislash who has awesome defensive stats, and resists Dragon attacks. I'm going to take a look at each type and give a list of Pokémon that I think will do well in such a core.
Disclaimer: I will not be looking into mega evolutions of each type. I'd like to save that for a later article.

Fairy


Gardevoir

With the introduction of Fairy typing, Gardevoir has seen a huge increase in play. With only the psychic typing, it was fairly underwhelming in previous gens, but it's now able to Gleam like the star it is.
Gardevoir actually sees more usage as an non-mega evolved Pokémon, than its mega counterpart. Despite its frail defence stat, it definitely makes up for it with its Sp Atk and Sp Def.

Here are some sets that you can fiddle with and test with on Showdown!:

Choice Scarfed Dragon Counter
This set is basically exactly what the name says, its a fast scarfed fairy type that outspeeds all non-scarfed dragons, i.e. Salamence and gets the OHKO with Moonblast. 

Modest nature @ Choice Scarf
86 Hp/ 228 Speed/ 198 Sp Att
-Moonblast
-Psychic (Since most EV spreads are defensively focused to survive Talonflame's Brave Bird, I'd recommend this over Psyshock)
-Thunderbolt/Shadow Ball
-Energy Ball/Dazzling Gleam

The last two move slots are for whatever coverage your teams needs.


The Bulky Fairy Set
This set is designed to outlive a Talonflame's Choice Band-boosted Brave Bird (so it's reasonably bulky), and to outspeed 252 speed Modest Tyranitar.

Modest Nature @ Choice Specs/Sitrus Berry
252 Hp/ 60 Speed/ 116 Def/ 76 SpAtt/ 4 Sp Def
-Moonblast
-Will-o-Wisp/Protect
-Psychic
-Energy Ball/Taunt (I would recommend taunt if you decide to run Sitrus Berry, otherwise I feel that Energy Ball betters the matchup against the omnipresent Rotom-W)


Azumarill
This little aquatic mouse can dish out tonnes of damage with its Huge Power ability. I have previously given my EV spread, but I'll post it again for completeness.

Full Frontal Assault
Adamant Nature @ Sitrus Berry - Huge Power
212 Hp/252 Attack/ 36 Sp Def/4 Speed/4 Def
-Play Rough
-Aqua Jet
-Belly Drum
-Protect/Super Power


Perish Trap Assister

This set is meant to be super bulky to assist any Shadow Tag Pokémon by using its Perish Song to get the KO on opponents.  Sap Sipper gives it immunity to grass attacks and Wacan Berry halves damage taken from electric attacks.

Calm nature @ Wacan Berry - Sap Sipper
252 Hp/ 156 Def/ 100 Def
-Protect
-Perish Song
-Swagger
-Play Rough/Encore/Amnesia



Wigglytuff
This might seem like a weird choice, but if I told you that three-time world champion Rizzo used it to win a Regional, then you might reconsider using it. I don't have any fancy spread, so I'm just going to list his spread, which is pretty awesome BTW. Competitive is a great ability that increase special attack by 2 stages when any other stat is lowered. So with Intimidate being a common ability, this allow Tuff to totally abuse that. If you want to have a look at his reasoning behind the spread, check out his blog here.

Modest Nature @ Assault Vest - Competitive Ability
4Hp/ 188 Def/ 236 SpAtt/ 12 SpDef/ 68 Speed
-Dazzling Gleam
-Thunderbolt
-Hyper Beam
-Fire Blast/Flamethrower


Florges

Despite the not-so-great defensive stat, its special attack and special defence stats totally make up for that fact. This is a Pokémon that you'll have to cater for to put it on your team and have it function. Have it set up a Calm Mind and you're good to go (as long as you have neutered the physical threats ;) )

Flower Power
Modest nature @ Sitrus Berry/Lum Berry - Flower Veil
-Moonblast
-Protect
-Calm Mind
-Substitute/Energy Ball

Dragons

Garchomp
The easiest Pokémon to incorporate on any team is also the first entry in the dragon section. This sand shark has surely seen enough publicity from this blog, but in case you wanted a different set, I also have provided another set besides the regular Jolly 252 Atk 252 Spd set.

Bread 'n Butter set
Jolly nature @ Focus Sash (to survive those Ice Beams and Draco meteors)
                        Lum Berry (proves useful vs Rotom-W who will immediately spam WoW)
                        Haban Berry/Charti Berry/Life Orb/Expert Belt/Rocky Helmet
-Protect
-Dragon Claw/Outrage (I wouldn't recommend Outrage, because: Fairies, but damage is a thing)
-Rock Slide/Swords Dance (Rock Slide OHKOs Char Y and Talonflame)
-Earthquake

199 Garchomp 
This set is very interesting and was created by a Japanese player and used in the Bibu Off tournament who was able to take a top 4 placing. It is EVd to survive Life Orb-boosted Garchomp's Dragon Claw and get the OHKO on return even if it loses the speed tie. Read more about it here.

Jolly nature @ Choice Band
124 Hp/44 Atk/84 Def/4 SpDef/252 Speed
-Earthquake
-Dragon Claw
-Rock Slide
-Poison Jab


Salamence
The second most common dragon in the metagame, and for very good reason. With Intimidate, great Atk and Sp Atk stats, this dragon has it all. The most commonly used set is Timid max speed, max sp atk holding a choice scarf (basically 90% of all Salamence you'll ever see used).

Timid nature @ Choice Scarf
4 Hp/252 SpAtk/252 Speed
-Draco Meteor
-Fire Blast/Flamethrower
-Hydro Pump/Dragon Pulse
-Sleep Talk/Stone Edge/Rock Slide (Sleep Talk is good vs Amoonguss)


Hydreigon
My absolute favourite dragon of all time. Ever. The 4x weakness to Fairy hurts a lot, but if you can avoid interaction with Fairy attacks, then you'll be doing fine. It's a slower version of Salamence with greater Sp Atk, and a different, but still useful, ability in Levitate.

Choice Scarf set
Modest nature @ Choice Scarf
220 Speed/252 Sp Atk/36 Hp
-Draco Meteor
-Fire Blast/Flamethrower
-Earth Power
-Dark Pulse


Noivern
I'm not going to lie here, I haven't used this dragon before, and hopefully won't have to use it. It's a bit too frail for my liking. Anyways, that shouldn't deter you guys from trying it out :D

Timid nature @ Focus Sash/Lum Berry
252 Sp Atk/ 252 Speed/ 4 Hp
-Draco Meteor
-Protect
-Super Fang (taking half of your opponent's HP away can be quite helpful)
-Tailwind/Boomburst

Steel


Ferrothorn

One of my many favourites from Unova, this steel/grass type resists a helluva lotta types. the 4x weakness to fire must obviously be noted and try your best to navigate the battlefield to allow Ferrothorn to sweep towards the end of the match. 

Rotom-W slayer

Does your team struggle with Rotom-W? Not anymore it won't if you use this set:

Brave nature @ Lum Berry
252 HP/ 204 Atk/ 52 SpDef
-Gyro Ball
-Leech Seed
-Protect
-Power Whip

Power Whip gets the OHKO on most Rotom-W sets, and the Lum Berry cures any burns sustained from WoW spam.

Aegislash
This guy is AWESOME! If you'd like to find out more about his sets, I have an analysis about him accessible HERE!

Closing Thoughts

Is your Garchomp staring down a Choice Scarfed Salamence? Good, switch into your Azumarill and receive no damage. Does your opponent's Mawile plan on using Iron Head to KO your Gardevoir? Not a problem, switch into your Aegislash and soak up that 'not very effective' damage. 

This core focuses on having effective switching ability and favourable matchups vs pretty much every type out there. If you don't know where to start with your teambuilding, why not start at the beginning? Here, with the Fantasy Core ;) 

I hope you guys found this interesting! Comment your thoughts and let us know what you think.
-Gavin