"Climbing Trees in a Thunderstorm"- A Deck to Consider For Regionals

"It's a proven fact - standing under a tree is one of the most dangerous places to be in a storm. And for good reason - trees protrude from the earth's surface, making them frequent victims of direct lightning strikes" -Source

I have been testing many new decks on TCGOne. I found out this week that I will be able to make it to Regionals in Ontario, So I have been creating and trying decks like crazy. Here is a short list of the decks I have tried:

Andy Gray's Donphan/Walls
Ross Gilbert's Speed Donphan
Jake Morgan's Manectric/Suicune
Oliver Barnett's Donphan
Grant Manley's Seismitoad/Crawdaunt
Erik Nance's Medicham

As you can see, several of these decks are written with a name beside them, which means that I found them on Squeaky's channel. The decks that I spent the most time messing around with were decks with Manectric in them. I spent a lot of time specifically playing with Manectric/Suicune. I really like cycling between different Mega Manectrics and using Rough Seas to heal them. It reminds me of Kyogre but with less setup and less damage output.

Another reason I like Manectric is because it (theoretically) beats Yveltal. Since both Turbo Bolt and Assault Laser can knock out Yveltal in one hit, things go well for you in that matchup. However, 110 and 120 damage aren't enough to keep up with many decks. In many matchups, you need to be taking one-hit-knockouts to stay in the game, and Manectric just doesn't do that.

I was getting pretty frustrated with a couple of decks, namely Seismitoad and Yveltal, and I decided to create a deck specifically to beat those decks and VirGen, which are the top three decks. I added Leafeon to beat Toad, Raichu to beat Yveltal, and Pyroar to deal with Virizion/Genesect. Of course, playing three stage ones is pretty clunky, and more often than not the deck simply fails to set up.

Phase 1: Trevenant + Manectric

My next attempt involved Trevenant EX to beat Seismitoad, Mega Manectric to beat Yveltal, and Victini and Victory Piece to take care of VirGen. After playing a few games, Victini was not pulling his weight, so he was cut. Here is the list I have right now:

1 Tropius PLB
3 Trevenant EX
3 Manectric EX
2 M Manectric EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Virizion EX

4 N
4 Professor Sycamore
2 Lysandre
1 Lysandre's Trump Card
1 Colress

3 VS Seeker
3 Acro Bike
2 Switch
2 Manectric Spirit Link
1 Computer Search
2 Head Ringer
3 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Muscle Band

3 Virbank City Gym

2 Rainbow Energy
2 Lightning Energy
7 Grass Energy

Let me go through some specific card choices:

Tropius is the Safeguard counter at the moment. Tropius has a Return attack for one energy that draw you cards. There is no harm in benching it because it is your only non EX, which lets you bring your opponent play a seven-prize game. Tropius is great. Its first attack is draw power, which helps you in the Exeggcutor matchup. Energy Press hits for a lot of damage against Kyogre, Suicune, and other various attackers (like Swampert).

Trevenant EX is your main attacker. He attacks for one energy, so he can start getting damage on the field turn one. Twenty damage is not enough, so we need to add the Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym combination to do extra damage. Dark Forest locks your opponent from retreating. This unfortunately isn't incredibly useful, as there aren't a lot of things to lock active.

If you start Trevenant, your goal is to be using Dark Forest with a Muscle Band and Laser/Virbank. This lets you do 70 damage going into your opponent's turn and 100 going back into your turn. They will be at 170 going into their turn, which is the perfect math to knock them out going back into your turn. This, of course, only works if they can't counter your stadium, and it requires you to have all of the pieces as well. Seismitoad EX could do this for more damage along with Item Lock for a DCE, so why is this better?

The answer is that objectively it isn't. Trevenant EX attacks for less damage and it doesn't apply item lock. The only reason that you would run Trevenant over Seismitoad is for typing. Seismitoad is quite popular, and Trevenant can knock it out in one hit for three energy. If you are running Toad and your opponent is running Toad, the winner will be the one who draws better and plays better. A deck with Trevenant and a high count of energy however, will come out on top over toad. Another small advantage Trevenant has over Toad is that it is much easier to draw into a grass energy than a DCE!

Trevenant still suffers from a few weaknesses. Its damage output is low without Laser/Virbank. To use its second attack, it requires three energy attachments. This will put it behind many fast decks.

Manectric EX shores up your Yveltal matchup while also providing energy acceleration. Manectric EX on its own is a good attacker against many decks. If combined with Head Ringer, it can hit for 120 damage with just two energy, which lets this deck keep up with a lot of other decks. It is hard to get a one-hit knockout with Wood Blast, so Overrun lets you setup KOs for the future. The deck has enough room to run Spirit Link and M Manectric as well, so that provides energy acceleration to load up a big Trevenant. This also means that you can spend three turns loading up a big Trevenant, because if it gets knocked out you can get the energy back on it with Manectric.

Between Manectric and Trevenant, your matchup with the two biggest decks in the format, Seismitoad and Yveltal, are shored up. I had Victini with Victory Piece in the deck as well as I mentioned briefly before, but Victini doesn't automatically win you the VirGen matchup unless you can consistently get it out, and in a deck that doesn't run Skyla, it's a bit tricky to get that out consistently.

Virizion EX is huge in this deck. This one card has so much utility that it has definitely earned its slot. Verdant Wind shuts off Laser (and any Chandelure EX you run across as well). This means that Seismitoad EX is taking four hits to knock out Trevenant, more than enough time to stack three energies on it. It is not a terrible starter, as you can Emerald Slash to a Trevenant to use Wood Blast. Virizion definitely pulls its weight, I can't stress that enough.

3 Acro Bike help us draw the cards we need. We try to hit the Trevenant + Grass + Muscle Band + Virbank/Laser, and to optimize that we want to see as many cards as possible. If this doesn't fit your playstyle, by all means there are other cards that could fill these slots. A second Colress, and third Head Ringer, a fourth Muscle Band, and a fourth Virbank are all cards that I would love to see in here. This is largely a playstyle decision, and running more items can't hurt too much because we have a good Seismitoad matchup already. In fact, hopefully that will help us when facing Exeggcutor.

Computer Search is our Ace Spec. Some other options would be Life Dew to replace Emolga in our quest to make out opponent draw seven prizes. Dowsing Machine would help us reuse Laser, but Trump Card already serves that purpose. Computer Search also makes it easier to get the missing pieces. It grabs Grass if you whiff, Muscle Band to raise damage output and block Head Ringer, and a piece of the Laser/Virbank combo if you have everything already.

The energy counts could be manipulated, but having seven Grass and two Rainbow means you won't whiff energy for Trevenant, and two Lightning and two Rainbow is enough for Manectric, especially when he only needs one lightning to fulfill his attack costs.

Your Yveltal matchup is pretty good. What you want to do is load up a couple of Manectrics. If your opponent doesn't attach a tool to Yveltal, you can put a Head Ringer on it to put it in KO range of Assault Laser. Evolving into the Mega is just a bonus, but loading up a big Trevenant will seal the game for you. This is a matchup where Virizion helps because Yveltal decks tend to play Lasers.

Against Toad, you want to begin attacking with Trevenant. If you get Virizion down early, you'll want to attach your energy to the active and load up for a large Wood Blast. If you can't find Virizion, you'll want to hide behind a Trevenant with one energy while loading up for a bid Wood Blast on the bench.

Virizion/Genesect is a trickier matchup. Your lasers are largely ineffective, so your damage output is lowered (and you have seven dead cards in your deck). Genesect and Trevenant both attack for three energy, but Genesect has G Booster and Red Signal to stop you from building a big Trevenant. To win this matchup, you need to use magic numbers. A Trevenant with four energy and a Muscle Band does 150 damage, so you want to use Overrun early to hit the Genesect that has energy. Then, you want to Mega Evolve and Turbo Bolt to build up a big Trevenant. At this point, you need to pray that they can't use G-Booster in a timely manner!

Landorus/Crobat is also a poor matchup. Ideally, against a fast deck, you would want to use M Manectric to accelerate energy onto a Trevenant. Unfortunately, Landorus makes quick work of Manectric, so that strategy simply isn't viable. I have yet to win a game in this matchup, it is very tricky.

The Exeggutor matchup is not a fantastic matchup. Because they run Crushing Hammer and you run such few Lightning energy, Manectric is not a viable attacker. Virizion is a good idea to set up, because you can Emerald Slash to a benched Trevenant, and you do always want Virizion out to stop Laser damage. If they start with something active that isn't Exeggutor, like Virizion or Genesect, you can use Dark Forest to lock that Pokemon active so that they can't use Blockade on you. Unfortunately, they will use Crushing Hammer and you will keep attaching Grass energy until you whiff, and then they will retreat and Blockade. As a result, this isn't a solution, just something you can do to buy yourself a few turns at the start of the game.

Phase 2: Trevenant + Manectric + Seismitoad

I was testing online and after getting smashed several times in a row by a Landorus/Bats deck, I was getting fed up. Out of frustration, I made a new copy of the deck and added three Toad and three DCEs. It didn't seem at first like the deck would still run, but it did. To make these additions, I had to make a few cuts. I cut the third Head Ringer, the third Trevenant, the third Manectric, the second switch, and both of the Rainbows. After playing a few games with the new version of the deck, I figured out a few things:

1. The deck doesn't need three Trevenant, and it never needed three Trevenant. It's impossible to load up three Trevenants in a game without attacking with Mega Manectric, and if that goes down and you lose two Trevenant, you've lost already. While Trevenant isn't an awful starter, Toad is better because it does more damage and locks items (like what I talked about above). No matter what you start with, you'll be happy (with the exception of Jirachi). Tropius lets you Return and draw cards. Seismitoad lets you lock Items. Trevenant lets you attack for an energy and do a small amount of damage. Manectric lets you get some early damage on the board. The notable exception to this, of course, is Jirachi, and with only nine basic Pokemon, we cross our fingers and hope that we don't start with it. Starting with it, of course, isn't terrible. I've won plenty of games where I started Jirachi, and it's too good not to include in the deck.

2. DCE makes Trevenant a more effective attacker. For a Grass, a DCE, and a Muscle Band, Trevenant can two-hit EXes. This means that your first Trevenant (for just two attachments) can be a good attacker, and then the one you load up with a Manectric can be your heavy hitter. The big tree now fills two roles, and with three DCE he isn't hard to load up more easily.

3. Manectric is a little bit harder to attack with now, because we only run two lightnings. This means that you'll probable only be able to set up one per game. That's okay though, because even one is pretty effective at doing what it does best.

4. Seismitoad shores up some of your worst matchups. Landorus/Bats is suddenly not so hard to beat. With Jirachi and Seismitoad, you can lay down a Quaking Punch easily, and any Ultra Ball can become a Lysandre's Trump Card in combination to help beat Flareon and Night March. It's still a lot to draw, but now we have a shot against more types of decks.

Even with Toad, Flareon is still tough because of Leafeon. The way to win is to knock out Leafeons with Assault Laser and only drop Seismitoad/Trump Card when you know for sure that they can't Trump Card you. Picking off benched EXes like Jirachi and possibly Deoxys is also a good idea.

Phase 3: -Seismitoad, + Virizion

My initial frustration with Phase 1 of the deck remained, and if anything got worse with Phase 2 of the deck. The fact is that Crushing Hammer-based decks are incredibly difficult to deal with, and cutting Grass energy made this even more difficult. I commented to a friend something along the lines of "I only beat Crushing Hammer decks if I start Virizion," and then I subsequently gave up on the deck. I had an epiphany later, and came back and added more Virizion.

We don't have room for Seismitoad or DCE anymore. With more of a focus on Virizion, we can't even run Rainbows! It's no longer feasible to load up two Mega Manectrics in a game; we have to settle for one, because we can only run a 2-2 line, two Lightning Energy, and two Spirit Links. Surprisingly, the deck still works.

We tend to start off with an Emerald Slash now and get energy on the Trevenant. Which begs the question: Why not just play VirGen? There are a couple reasons for this:

1) The Yveltal matchup is just not good enough. VirGen is, if I do say so myself, an obvious play for Regionals because it beats Crushing Hammer decks. Therefore, Yveltal decks should be packing a Spiritomb to fend off VirGen. Without access to G Booster, VirGen just can't keep up. There isn't enough room for Mega Manectric in VirGen. Adler Pierce, a player from Ohio, won Kentucky States with VirGen with just the basic Manectric EX with a couple of Head Ringer. When I tested this against Yveltal, I just couldn't spare the attachments to load up a Manectric, and I never could really get off the ground.

I also tested Raichu, but I couldn't find a way to tech VirGen to make it beat Yveltal. I really don't like losing to Yveltal, and I want to be able to beat it at Regionals.

2) Not running Genesect gives you more space for techs. Running Genesect, besides taking up those three slots, means that you have to run Plasma Energy, G Booster, Shadow Triad, and maybe even Colress Machine. By not having to run these things, we can make our energy lines a little bit more flexible, while having room to run Mega Manectric and Laser/Virbank.

3) This isn't a very good reason, but it is valid in that VirGen was a really boring deck to play. After cranking out twenty games with it online, I got bored and was tired of testing. Manectric/Trevenant on the other hand is a little less linear, so it is more interesting.

Here is my final list that I am testing with at the moment:

2 Trevenant EX
2 Manectric EX
2 M Manectric EX
3 Virizion EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Spiritomb
1 Tropius

1 Computer Search
3 N
1 Lysandre
4 Acro Bike
1 Switch
2 Manectric Spirit Link
4 Professor Sycamore
4 VS Seeker
1 Lysandre's Trump Card
2 Head Ringer
3 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Virbank City Gym
3 Muscle Band

10 Grass Energy
2 Lightning Energy

There are a couple of changes that I want to comment on. The energy line is different in that we cut the rainbows and added lots of grass. Now we are more focused on Emerald Slashing, and it is so nice to have all of that energy in the deck. We had to cut the second Lysandre, which hurts our Donphan matchup. We were going to lose that matchup anyway though, so I'm not too sad. Spiritomb is an addition to help our VirGen matchup. We still have to be careful though not to use Computer Search when Sealing Scream is in play!

Using Phase Three of the deck, these are the decks that I want to see at Regionals:

And these are the decks that I don't want to see:
-Night March

These are the decks that I don't feel strongly about seeing:
-Fairy Box

Are you noticing a pattern? The decks that I don't want to see are the decks that can outspeed me and get OHKOs. In addition, the Fighting type is something I really struggle against.

If you go read the final results from States on The Charizard Lounge, Andrew Wamboldt mentions that there is an 87 percent chance that you will play against a Seismitoad deck at Regionals and a 77 percent chance that you will play against an Yveltal deck. In fact, you are more likely than not to play against two Seismitoad decks. I don't know about you, but I am playing those odds. I would like to beat Yveltal and Seismitoad this weekend.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you guys in Ontario!


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