New archtypes and old favourites: The BW7 metagame

Posted: December 6, 2012 in Article
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Here’s the second part of what I had wanted to write: A look at the decks of the metagame around the Battle Carnival (BC) period in Japan.

For those of you who have not yet been caught up in the hype of learning about the Japanese meta, here’s why you need to know. The International game is now close behind Japan’s and whatever we play will be based on what they played. In other words, our metagame will be the evolution of whatever meta they left behind after they have a new set.

It is said that hindsight is 20/20. Having a grasp of what lays ahead gives you the “hindsight” you require. Do you want to spend needless time thinking and forming decklists based on Plasma Storm? Or would you like to know what’s good months in advance so you can master and counter these decks by February 6th? I’m quite confident most players who want to make efficient use of their time will find the latter much more preferable.

For the pessimistic among us who think they might switch the release of cards again: doing so had minimal impact on Tornadus/Landorus/Mewtwo, a deck made meta with Ether that still managed strong showings in Cities and there is little reason to defer the release of any trainer cards again.

Let’s start off with this bad boy. As with the previous time, the decklists come from あむ, however all opinions stated here are my own inferences and might not reflect how the meta actually evolved in Japan. (Though it will be probably damn close in my opinion)

Klingklang/Cobalion
Pokemon
2 Klingklang (Plasma Steel)
2 Klingklang (Shift Gear)
1 Klang DE
4 Kling DE
3 Cobalion EX
1 Registeel EX

4 N
4 Skyla
4 Colress

4 Rare Candy
4 Max Potion
4 Heavy Ball
4 Switch
2 Level Ball
2 Catcher
2 Escape Rope
2 Tropical Beach
1 Computer Search

10 Steel Energy

Spoilers for unreleased cards from  Pokebeach:
Klinklang – Metal – HP140
Stage 2 (Team Plasma) – Evolves from Klang

Ability: Plasma Steel
Prevent all damage done to your Metal Pokemon by attacks from your opponent’s Pokemon-EX.

[M][M][C] Heavy Bullet: 70 damage. Flip a coin. If heads, this attack does 20 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokemon.)

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
Retreat: 3

Colress – Trainer
Supporter (Team Plasma)

Shuffle your hand into your deck. Then, draw an amount of cards up to the number of Pokemon on both your and your opponent’s Bench.

You may play only 1 Supporter card during your turn (before your attack).

Holy shit look at how edgey it is.

Holy shit look at how edgey it is.

Cobalion-EX – Metal – HP180
Basic Pokemon

[M] Holy Edge: 30 damage. Choose 1 Special Energy card attached to the Defending Pokemon and discard it.
[M][M][C] Steel Bullet: 100 damage. This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Weakness, Resistance, or any other effects on the Defending Pokemon.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
Retreat: 2

Starting off with Kling Klang might bewilder some people, especially as the Top 4 of the Battle Carnivals did not have a single Kling Klang deck. However it is undoubtedly part of the metagame as the fire techs seen in the top placed decks can tell you, such as Moltres (in Blastoise/B.Kyurem) and Victini (Rayquaza/Eels).
The release of the Plasma Klingklang adds another layer of steel, so to speak to the traditional Klingklang deck, providing a Safeguard effect to all Steel Pokemon. With it, your Cobalions become super Sigilyphs. To this effect, there is no need to play different attackers anymore, just use your Steel-types to become invincible against EX pokemon.

Klingklang clearly has the right idea

Klingklang clearly has the right idea

As the results from the South-East Asia Regionals show, hating on EXes in the right metagame can let you steamroll the competition. The early Battle Carnivals proved the strength and popularity of Darkrai and Tornadus-based decks which would naturally lead to people playing Klingklang. Big Basic decks typically only run Terrakion or Bouffalant as their non-EX attackers-both of which do little to nothing with the judicious use of Max Potion. Registeel provides a spread option to soften up evolution decks, which do run a few good non-EXes eg. Zekrom/Hydreigon/Rayquaza.

Why then, has this deck failed to break through into the Top 4 positions? The deck is not the fastest, relying more on the slow set-up of two Stage 2s and then the repeated beat down of Cobalion’s very large bullet. Like most decks that choose to focus on an auto-win, it is easily defeated by tech such as the Moltres and Victini mentioned before. It is not uncommon for Eels to run 2 V-create Victini just to rain on Klingklang’s parade. Shred-like attacks like those on Rayquaza can also turn the game south (and the mirror a crapshoot).

Blastoise/B.Kyurem
I do apologize for the lack of decklist. You can have a picture of the MVPs instead.

Match made in heaven

Match made in heaven

What you need to know about the deck: It runs the above Kyurem that has this attack

“[W][W][L][C] Black Ballista: 200 damage. Discard 3 Energy attached to this Pokemon

and 4 prism energy.

Once set-up it kills everything in the metagame except silly things like Aspertia/Eviolite Tornadus EX, leaving the small fry to Keldeo EX (like how it should be)

B.Kyurem quickly became the most played Blastoise variant once it was released, outpacing the common Plasma variants running Articuno and Lugia at that time. WWII Field Marshal Erwin Rommel once wrote something along the lines of “He who wins is he who fires first and fires with greater firepower”. Likewise, Pokemon is nowadays a battle of who has the biggest, fastest cannon and there is no bigger cannon than the Keldeo/Kyurem tag team. This is not something new, a precedent having been set by the original Lugia EX, a part of one of the most popular archtypes in its time-LBS

This was the WWII equivalent of a Keldeo EX before B.Kyurem came.

This was the WWII equivalent of a Keldeo EX before B.Kyurem came.

Bouffalant, Landorus and Tornadus
Otherwise known as Landorus and friends, white tea or a dozen variations of the same theme. Using a mix of EX and non-EX attackers with healing/disruption cards for prize denial while dealing cheap, heavy hits to the opponent, this is truly a feared beast in any metagame.

2 Tornadus EX
2 Landorus EX
3 Bouffalant (DE)

4 Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca
2 Random Receiver

3 Virbank City Gym
4 Pokemon Catcher
4 Switch
4 Poison Hypnotic Beam
3 Rocky Helmet
3 Energy Switch
2 EXP share
3 Max Potion
1 Tool Scrapper

9 Fighting
4 Double Colorless Energy

This list is an extremely personalized list as builds of this deck have a propensity to be. Tanking has been largely eschewed to promote the laying of damage through PHB/Rocky Helmet. However, you do have all the common elements, spare the Mewtwo EX. According to Amu, Mewtwo wars have been largely neutered by the ubiquity of the Poison/Virbank combo and OHKO attackers. While I still do think that Mewtwo is still very strong in energy acceleration decks, if less people play Mewtwo it also means it’s safer to play less (or even no) Mewtwo of your own.

The 3 Virbank Gyms exemplify the status of the metagame. With the increase in usage of gyms in all decks (Aspertia, Skyarrow, Tropical Beach and Virbank) this has led to an overall increase in slots dedicated to Stadium cards and the return of the nostalgic stadium wars of old. It is imperative for decks to get their stadiums to stick or else it’s quite possible their strategy lose their efficacy.

Some of you may be wondering what happened to Ether/Pokedex. It was indeed quite over-used however it was largely outclassed by PHB’s disruptive and damage capabilities. When we do get it, it is probably too late for it to experience the wide-spread usage it experienced in Japan. I am however confident international players will find a wide variety of usage for Ether.

The Old Guard
Collectively grouping

  • Eels
  • Darkrai/Hydreigon
  • Darkrai variants

I thought I would talk about these decks together as part of the old archtypes that survived. Eels has largely dropped off the radar but those that survive have mutated to the Eelbox build rather than the traditional 3Mewtwos,1Raikou,1Zekromex build we were used to last season. We have already seen Eels with a focus on such attackers in Cities in response to Landorus and Japan was no different.

RayEels is curiously still one of the most played decks, despite its liability in Tyanmo donks and the fact it completely falls apart when you have prized Eeletriks. It’s viable in part due to Blastoise’s preference of B.Kyurem over Mewtwo. Rayquaza requires only 2 Lightning Energy, whether it is the EX or not, to KO opposing Kyurems while they need 4 energy minimum, inclusive of a Prism. With EXes still a huge part of the meta, Rayqyaza’s ability to take 6 prizes in 3 turns is still much to be feared. The inclusion of Victini over Zekrom as the non-dragon attacker also means all of its attackers have 1 retreat cost meaning it can freely rotate attackers with Skyarrow Bridge in play.

We know Darkrai variants continue to be strong, taking 1st place in the first BC at Sapporo. Likewise, they’ve also benefited from PHB/Virbank in addition to their old tricks like Hammers. However I feel that they take a severe beating from Klingklang, Rayquaza EX and B.Kyurem EX. In a fight against White Tea, Bouffalant also becomes a persistent and dangerous threat as Cities participants have found out.

Darkrai/Hydreigon continues to be that deck which is invincible once set-up yet suffers spurts of inconsistency. Adding salt to its wounds as a Stage 2 deck is the lack of OHKO ability found in Blastoise which consequently dooms it working with the 90 plus 30 and 140 offered by Nightspear and Dragonblast. However its flexibility in techs and varied weakness compared to Klingklang offers it a much better chance in winning tournaments.

Relying on Hydreigon as a big hitter opens it up to OHKOs to things that do not like it.

Relying on Hydreigon as a big hitter opens it up to OHKOs to things that do not like it.

That concludes my look on the Japanese metagame. If you go to Amu’s blog you can actually see all the deck lists he has written, which includes the modern Eels list (HPB, Bouffalant).

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