A rather lackluster performance – St Austell Regional Report (UK)

This past weekend I attended my first major tournament of the season, St. Austell Regionals in Cornwall. We haven’t had any sanctioned tournaments in the UK up until a few weeks ago so I had been eagerly awaiting playing some proper games.

I had been unable to attend my local league for a while so the only practice I had done was playing on PTCGO and playtcg. Obviously this isn’t the ideal practice but I had a good 60-70 games in the weeks leading up to the event which was enough for me to decide what deck I wanted to play.

There had ben a bit of controversy over the choice of venues for the UK Regionals as a new head of organised play had only recently been chosen, people weren’t happy about travelling to nearly the end of the country but it wasn’t too far for me, a two and a half hour drive. A big thank you to my friend Alex who drove myself and Oli there and back, Pokemon is always better with good friends!

St Austell's location in the UK

St Austell’s location in the UK

Enough of the intro, onto the tournament. I decided to play Darkrai/Garbodor. It had won the two previous UK Regionals showing that it could do well in best of 3 50 minutes if played correctly. I did think that people would start to counter the deck as it had been doing so well but my only other deck options (the ones i had enough practice with) weren’t going to handle the meta any better and Darkrai/Garbodor is so consistent I felt much more confident playing it.

Here is the list i played:

3 Darkrai EX
3 Sableye
2 Trubbish
2 Garbodor
1 Absol

4 N
4 Professor Juniper
2 Bianca
3 Random Reciever

2 Virbank City Gym
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Crushing Hammer
1 Enhanced Hammer
4 Dark Patch
4 Ultra Ball
1 Super Rod
1 Energy Search
1 Tool Scrapper
2 Dark Claw
4 Float Stone
1 Dowsing Machine Ace Spec

8 Darkness Energy

I liked my list going in, I only played 8 energy but the Energy Search helps much more than simply playing an extra energy. I also played Absol as I liked how quickly I could power him up. I debated for a while on whether to play Catchers or Hammers, I went for Hammers as it improved the Plasma matchup but they turned out to be less useful in other matchups. I always preferred Dowsing Machine over Computer Search as this deck can handle not having a fast start and the ability to reuse all of those items in the discard over and over is much more effective.

We had around 60 Masters which meant 6 rounds of swiss with a top 8.

Squashing abilities with Garbotoxin

Squashing abilities with Garbotoxin

Round 1 vs Alex Dao (Big Basics w/ Victini EX)

Game 1 – Yep once again for the second Regional in a row I had to play my friend Alex in the first round and once again this was a bad matchup for me. We both knew what each other was playing and pretty much each other’s entire lists. Knowing this he chose to go second so he could get early damage in with Landorus EX. My best chance was to get some early laser damage in and hope he flipped some tails at the right time. Hammers were next to useless as Landorus was attacking for one energy and with a laser he was doing at least 60 damage a turn. He also got Victini/Victory piece and started to use Turbo Energize. I had so many dead cards with Garbodor which didn’t help too. I was able to get two Darkrai set up but his use of float stone/switch kept getting his big attackers out of poison and he took a long and close game.

Game 2 – We only had about 15 minutes for game 2 and I knew I just had to go for a very quick Night Spear, it was boom or bust. Me and Alex are also fairly slow methodical players so I knew that I was up against it. He got 2 Turbo Energizes off with Victini and I managed to hammer pretty much all his energy off the board over two turns with hammers. I Night Speared for a bench KO on his damaged Victini and got some decent damage on his Landorus and Mewtwo but he was able to switch out and max potion everything then time was called, a couple more turns and I may have won the game. Oh well was a really close match and Alex played it really well so I was pleased for him.

0-1-0

Round 2 vs Karl James (Virgen)

Game 1 – Yet another bad matchup, sigh, I tried to hammer spam to slow his setup at the start. I got Garbodor set up as quickly as I could so that I could shut off Virizion’s Verdant Wind to keep up with his use of lasers. He used a Megalo Cannon before I could Nightspear and it was tough to keep up,  my chances of winning disappeared when he put down G-booster.

Game 2 – I decided to change my strategy, I wanted Garbodor set up again but I realised my hammers couldn’t keep with his energy acceleration so I got Darkrai hitting quicker. It was working and with a hammer here or there I was keeping pace in the prize exhange, but one turn away from winning he was able to get a Bouffalant and Gold Breaker my Darkrai for the game.

0-2-0

Round 3 vs Robert Brown (Sigilyph/Latias EX/Mewtwo EX)

Game 1 – I had a great start, turn 2 Garbodor was crucial to set up as it shut off his Sigilyph and Suicune’s Safeguard. I recycled lasers and Enhanced hammer to keep his energy off the board and put some pressure on early. I started to Night Spear and take prizes. He pulled off a big turn with a Tool Scrapper, Silver Bangle onto a Suicune and Energy Switch to take a suprise KO out of nowhere but I reactivated Garbotoxin and had another Darkrai set up to finish the game off.

Game 2 – I drew completely dead in this one. After using one supporter I was able to Junk Hunt for a random reciever and then he played a Ghetsis shuffling in the random reciever  -_- I was not happy to say the least, this killed my hand and any chance I had to get back into this game, I was basically relying on top decks all game that didn’t come. I could have just scooped as I knew I was going to lose game 2 but there was only about 10 minutes left on the round and I didn’t think I could win a game 3 in that time where as he could have a chance.

Game 3 – I didn’t draw great once again. I had a Darkrai going but that got taken out with some energy switch/Rock Guard shenanigans on his part, he actually used Mewtwo’s Psy Drive a couple of times to take quicker KO’s, first time I’ve ever seen that used! Time was called and he had 4 prizes still to take, all I had to so was stick up a fresh Darkrai and take the tie, so I ended up tieing a matchup which is probably 80/20 in my favour.

0-2-1

Latias EX

Latias EX

Then it was time for lunch. Once again at a major tournament I had reached the middle of the day without a win, lunch always tastes better when you’re doing well.

Round 4 vs Joanna Rich (Blastoise)

Game 1 – Straight away I see a Squirtle and my heart sinks, another bad matchup if they play enough scrapper. But then she puts down an Outrage Kyurem EX, not usually seen in this deck and my hopes lift that this isn’t going to be a great list. It seems like i’m right. I am able to start putting down some serious damage with laserbank locking her Kyurem and then Keldeo’s in the active spot. Garbodor shuts off her Blastoise when she eventually get’s it, she has to manually attach for the whole game and I take an easy win.

Game 2 – Exactly the same again, Garbodor lock goes up, lasers followed by multiple Night Spears. After struggling so much in the previous round this lifted a weight off my shoulders. Plus the fact my opponent was very pleasent to talk to I enjoyed this game very much.

1-2-1

Round 5 vs Daniel Whittal (Darkrai/Garbodor)

Game 1 – I’ve played Daniel before and lost to him. We had a great game then and this was no different, we seem to get on pretty well and this was a fun match to play in even though it was a mirror. We both sit behind Sableye Junk Hunting lasers, I slow his start by hitting lots of heads on Crushing Hammers. I am able to get a Darkrai ripping through his depleted board and he decides to scoop game 1.

Game 2 – He is able to get energy on two Darkai and maintain his early advantage. I could have scooped as I was in a slightly unfavourable position but once again there was basically no time left in the round and neither of us was going to win a game 3 so I had to play it out and try to get the win, unfortuantely I am unable to.

Game 3 – We barely have time to set up and have a turn each before time is called and we just shake hands and both take a well earned tie.

1-2-2

Round 6 vs Aaron Lolley (Plasma)

Game 1 – Final round of the day and we are all moved inside the shop as opposed to the courtyard that we had been in all day. Plasma can be a very hit or miss matchup for Darkrai/Garbdor and this was a very closely contested match. I go second and I put two Trubbish down as I know he’ll be going for the turn 2 Frost spear which he does. Unfortunately on my turn 2 I can’t get a Garbodor on the field meaning at least one of my Trubbish will go down. Unsure as to what items he was playing (seeing as Plasma lists vary widely some using lasers or Catchers others not) I prayed he didn’t play Catcher and of course a Catcher hits the table and of course he gets heads meaning a double knockout on the two Trubbish, no Garbodor for me the whole game then. This significantly increases his attackers power because of Deoxys EX’s Power Connect ability, that coupled with Silver Bangle means my Darkrai’s wouldn’t be stopping around long. At least this was a matchup where i could abuse Hammers to the fullest to stop his onslaught of attackers and give my Darkrai enough chance to get in at least two Night Spears each. I realise fairly quickly that he doesn’t play lasers giving me an edge with laserbank meaning his Kyurem go down just a bit easier. I take a close game 1.

Game 2 – We had probably just under half of the round time left at the start fo this one. I at least manage to get Garbodor set up this time giving me hope that I could see this one through. I also hit my 1 Enhanced Hammer really early along with all of my Crushing Hammer. He was playing all special energy which is more and more uncommon for Plasma nowadays so I had a field day destroying his side of the board. He nearly brought himself back into it with a Scramble switch into an Absol, scrapper on my Garbodor’s float stone and then attached a Silver Bangle to do a massive 150 to my Darkrai but i was able to finish off the game with another Darkrai on the last turn of time.

Hammer spam

Hammer spam

Final Standing:

2-2-2

32nd place.

Woo i made top 32. In all seriousness, i didn’t perform great on the day, maybe some of my decision making on what to Junk Hunt and when to start Night Spearing was a bit off but more than anything I don’t think I made a great deck choice for the day. It had the potential to do well but no other Darkrai/Garbodor made top cut and I think I need to work on my Metagaming which I am trying to improve all of the time. The tournament was eventually won by Luke Burke with Gothitelle/Accelgor (yay it’s back) probably aided by the fact that Virgen was played in pretty small numbers and none of them made top cut.

I wasn’t disappointed though really, I never went expecting to do really well, I went to get some tournament experience, 3 more play points and to have an awesome day which I did! It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to play again. My next major tournament will probably be Yeovil City Championships on the 19th of January!

Thanks for reading

-Ryan-

Upcoming UK Regionals

Hello everyone (if anyone is reading this at all). I thought I’d just do a small informative article/update today as I don’t have much else to talk about.

Tomorrow is the first major Pokemon TCG  tournament in the UK this season. Yes finally we have some sanctioned events! These are our first batch of Regionals, the dates are as follows:

30th Nov – Manchester

7th Dec – Scotland

14th Dec – Cornwall

Excited as I may be I am only going to the Cornwall event as I have work commitments tomorrow and Scotland is waay too far for me to travel. But still I am looking forward to seeing the results of these tournaments and will be keeping a keen eye on what decks are doing well.

Obviously playing in the last week of Regionals I should have more knowledge of the meta going into it so I can choose what deck I believe to be the optimum play. Everyone else will as well of course, it just means I won’t be going to the event not having a clue what sort of decks will be popular.

As i see it I have three main deck options available to me at present. I am favouring one over the others but whether I actually end up playing it depends on how well it does in the previous two weeks and how well other decks do that counter it. Preferably I would like it to not see much play so that people don’t think of teching against it too much. It’s a consistent deck that has fairly good matchups all around and I really enjoy playing it so hopefully that’ll work out!

Going into a big tournament is a bit of a minefield. Especially in the current format where nobody knows what is necessarily the best deck. Doing well may simply come down to getting the right matchups for your deck on the day. I have real hope for this format and fully expect it to be very fun to play in so win or lose I’m sure I’ll have a good time anyway!

On a sidenote I’m also going to be writing some card reviews every week for a friend over on her blog (http://cyndaquilblogs.wordpress.com/) first one should be going up soon so check it out! That’s all for now, hope you all have a nice weekend.

-Ryan-

The winds of change – Thoughts on the new format.

If some of you read my first post you may remember that I promised to write a deck profile for my next piece but I decided that I want to talk a little bit about the new format that we have just entered.

The winds of change

New beginnings

New format he says what is he on about? I thought we already had a rotation? Well we haven’t had another rotation, but we’ve had something just as big and important happen to the Pokémon TCG. On the 8th of November the new X&Y rules came in place. If you don’t already know the most important rule changes are:

  • You must flip a coin to decide who goes first before any cards are drawn (The winner can decide to go first or second)
  • If you go first you may not attack on your opening turn.
  • Pokémon Catcher now requires a coin flip.

I’m sure most of you already knew that though and are busy testing under the new rules. And if most of you have had the same experience I’ve had you’ll know that this game just got immensely better and so much more fun to play. No more worrying about donks or turn 1 pressure, you can actually evolve Pokémon and your opponent can’t simply Catcher a Pokémon or strategy that you’ve been building up on the bench and take easy prizes.

One thing it brings back is the skill of deck building. Instead of ensuring yourself a win on the majority of occasions by just copying and pasting lists of the Internet, individuals can now spend time building lists and perfecting decks that couldn’t have been played before in the fast paced format.

Stage 1 and Stage 2 decks now have a place in the format and I’ve really enjoyed playing against some fairly intriguing lists in the past week. We are at a point where nobody knows exactly what is going to be good. With such a wide choice of decks to play it almost certainly depends on the local Meta as to how well certain decks can perform.

Some of the decks that will definitely see some more play:

Rayboar/Reshiboar

Empoleon

Darkrai/Hydreigon

Round

Ho-oh

Klinklang

Catcher vs. Escape Rope

The new looking Catcher

The new looking Catcher

Lastly I’d like to touch on this subject. I have been doing some testing with lists that included Catcher. It’s definitely still a viable card but I think to justify running any at all you need to run at least 3 copies and even then I’d consider changing them for something that adds consistency or improves a certain matchup. I quickly took them out as I think you need to concentrate on your deck’s strengths. Adding more helpful cards will usually win you more matches than the possibility that you may Catcher out 1/2 of your opponents Pokémon in a single game.
Onto Escape Rope. I think it will see some play. At least it guarantees your opponent has to switch their Pokémon (unless they play Togekiss) but of course you don’t have any control over what they switch in. It also has a double use as it provides you with a switch but cannot be relied upon to grab you up the Pokémon you wanted. My tactics against it have been to either:

Promote a Pokémon that can take a hit or that you don’t mind being KO’d

Promote something that can retreat easily or for free.

It’s definitely not a replacement for Catcher but make sure you are ready for when it does get played down!

I think Virizion/Genesect decks have an advantage in this respect in that they can use Genesect’s Red Signal Ability to have the same effect as a Catcher. It’s not something they will use often but it’s at least an option that the deck has.

You may also consider running a 2-2 Ninetales line for 1/2 guaranteed Catchers a game if you can find the space in your deck.

Ninetales from Dragons Exalted.

Ninetales from Dragons Exalted.

Anyway that’s all from me today. I hope you’re all enjoying the new format, and testing furiously for upcoming events (Cities in the US and Regionals in the UK or whatever the next big event is in your country) If all goes well I should be putting up another post next Monday.

Thank you for reading

-Ryan-

Introduction, why should you read this?

Hello and welcome to this brand new blog about the Pokemon Trading Card Game.

First off I’ll give you a quick intro about me and what I’m aiming to achieve with this page.

My name is Ryan from the UK. I got back into Pokemon about 4 years ago after buying Pokemon Platinum and have been obsessed again ever since. I have been playing the Pokemon TCG competitively since the middle of the 2011/2012 Season. I quickly enveloped myself into the competitive scene here in the UK and have made some great friends so far!

So why should you read this? Well playing the last 18-24 months I haven’t had that much success winning only a couple of small tournaments. This has mainly been down to me not going to that many tournaments because of work/travel difficulties and taking breaks from playing the game altogether. But I believe I can provide (or at least attempt to provide) some helpful insight into the TCG be it deck lists, strategy or just general thoughts and opinions.

I have experience writing for several gaming websites and have previously written a gaming blog albeit slightly unsuccessfully. With the Pokemon TCG being a very important passion of mine I think I will be able to make a success of writing about it.

I hope most of you know what the name of the blog references, if you don’t a Stage 1 Rush is a type of deck that was popular when I started playing and it was my first competitive deck. It involved using multiple stage 1 attackers that could hit hard and fast whilst being able to cope with most of the meta at the time, a bit like the Flareon archetype that we have at the moment.

Anyway that’s the intro out of the way. Next time I’ll be straight down to business with a profile of a deck I’m currently testing for Cities this winter.

-Ryan-