In the week leading up to Fort Wayne Regional Championships, the deck of my main fascination was a Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX deck that former world champion Jason Klaczynzsi had used to make day 2 at one of the prior weekend’s Regional Championships. I thought the deck had high potential, and quickly got lists together, along with refined lists, and put them through the testing grinder.
Unfortunately, the deck didn’t test as well as I was hoping it would. In particular, the Virizion EX/Genesect EX matchup still felt awful, even with theoretically enough Team Flare Grunt (via Pal Pad) to remove all of a Virgen’s deck’s Energy from their field. With the Virgen matchup deemed unsolvable, even with Mewtwo EX as a backup attacker, I moved on from the deck later in the week and moved forward with M Heracross EX for the actual tournament.
In addition to Jason’s build, I also had a Seismitoad EX/Rock Guard variant with Tool Retriever, that was fun to play, and won a decent bit, but again, wasn’t quite powerful enough to warrant further play.
However, with the release of Phantom Forces, the deck seemed like it would be stronger than before. It gained additional Energy disruption cards in Head Ringer and Enhanced Hammer from the set, which made the deck’s Energy denial strategies much stronger. Additionally, VS Seeker would let it play lower counts of niche Supporter cards while gaining some in the consistency department. Combine this with Virgen seeing a decline in play after the first few weeks of City Championships, and the stage was set for Toad decks to do very well in the format.
City Championship #1 – Springfield, Mo.
The first City Championship I decided to play Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX was at my fourth tournament of the series. It was a blind meta game to me, so the deck felt like a safe choice. Here is the list I used for this tournament:
Pokemon – 9
4 Seismitoad EX
Trainers – 44
4 Professor Sycamore
1 Computer Search
3 Ultra Ball
3 Muscle Band
2 Virbank City Gym
Energy – 7
4 Double Colorless
I will go into the core card choices later on, but the main features of this list is that it played a healthy dose of Water Energy, allowing me to power up Seismitoad EX’s to use Grenade Hammer. Additionally, I played a Charizard EX, which I felt when combined with Head Ringer and the hammers, gave the deck a positive Virgen matchup. Not sure why I hadn’t thought to test that before Fall Regionals.
Here are how my matchups played out on the day:
R1 – Bronzong – W
R2 – Donphan – W
R3 – Bronzong – W
R4 – Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX – ID
R5 – Pyroar FLF/Seismitoad EX – ID
Top 8 – M Manectric EX/Fighting – WLW
Top 4 – Yveltal EX/Hard Charm – W
Top 2 – Bronzong – WW
The deck was a great play based on my matchups during the Swiss portion of the tournament. I had easy matchups in Bronzong and Donphan in my initial Swiss rounds, allowing me to intentionally draw my last two rounds.
In Top 8, I played a carbon copy of my M Manectric EX/Fighting deck. These games were all super close, and I think knowing my opponent’s exact list helped in coming away with the victory. In my Top 4 match against Yveltal EX/Hard Charm, I had a tough decision of whether to scoop Game 1 or not. The first game was super close, and also very long, and in the early stages of the game I wasn’t quite sure if I could pull it out. For whatever reason, I decided to stick with the game, and ended up winning the first game, and our second game remained unfinished. (I think we were doing 50 minute time limit here).
The Finals was against the Bronzong that I had defeated in Round 3. The first game, I took easily with an early Quaking Punch and Garbodor combo. I nearly lost the second game to dead draws, and ended up using Lysandre’s Trump Card to put back any Crushing Hammer and Hypnotoxic Laser that I had put into the discard back into my deck, because on the small chance I didn’t just get benched out, they would be needed to win the game.
The turn after doing so, it turns out my opponent had cut me into a Professor Sycamore, which got me going. However, I drew no Pokemon off the Sycamore and had to burn whatever I could to be able to use the one Bicycle in my hand, getting my hand down to four cards, and playing a Bicycle for one, getting my Charizard EX much to my opponent’s shock and horror. After this turn, the game quickly turned around, and Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX delivered me my first City Championship title of the year.
City Championship #2 – St. Peters, Mo.
As City Championships began winding down, I was at my best finish limit, but also knew that it would be really big if I could improve upon my Top 8 finish, so I really wanted to find a way into another Finals. Having already won one City Championship with the deck, I knew I’d kick myself later if I didn’t at least try to win another one with Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX. Here’s the list I played for this tournament:
Pokemon – 8
4 Seismitoad EX
Trainers – 48
4 Professor Sycamore
1 Computer Search
3 Ultra Ball
3 Muscle Band
2 Virbank City Gym
Energy – 4
4 Double Colorless
This list is a bit more cavalier from the last one, choosing to add Super Scoop Up and Cassius to bulk up my healing in place of Charizard EX and the three Water Energy. I’m not the biggest fan of using Grenade Hammer in this deck, and generally see it as just a way to end a game sooner, not an essential part of the strategy. The Item Lock is the essential part of the strategy, and I felt playing more cards to effectively utilize that strategy were better than speeding up the game some.
Here were my matchups from this tournament:
R1 – Virizion EX/M Heracross EX/Manectric EX – W
R2 – Seismitoad EX/Suicune PLB/Aurorus FFI – W
R3 – Bronzong PHF – W
R4 – Gengar EX – ID
R5 – Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF – ID
Top 8 – Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF – LL
The beginning Swiss pairings might seem silly, but if you think about these decks, they’re actually quite terrifying for this deck. The first matchup, against the Virizion EX/M Heracross EX deck, I actually flipped tails on all of my Crushing Hammer until after my second Lysandre’s Trump Card of the game, and only was able to come away with the victory because of some really bad misplaying on my opponent’s part.
In the second matchup, there is something interesting at play, in that my opponent plays Seismitoad EX plus Water Energy, while I only play DCE. Logically, we can lock each other, as he powers up Toad’s that can use Grenade Hammer and then sweep the game. To win this game, I had to just sit on this hand with a multiple Crushing Hammer, an Enhanced Hammer, waiting for him to use Grenade Hammer. As he used Grenade Hammer too early, I was able to play my Items again, quickly cleared his field of Energy, used a Hypnotoxic Laser, and got a one sided Item lock going as a result of a Poison KO going back into my turn, giving me control of the game.
The next round against Bronzong PHF was interesting, in that she played multiple Cobalion EX, which could discard my Double Colorless Energy, as well as Steel Shelter, which could shutdown my Poison damage, but in the end, these mattered little. Between Head Ringer, Crushing Hammer, and Team Flare Grunt slowing down the stream of Righteous Edge’s, and Lysandre’s Trump Card putting my DCE’s back in the deck, it was a fairly easy matchup, although one I had to think through a little bit more than when I played Water Energy and Charizard EX.
Having won the first three rounds, I was able to intentionally draw the last two rounds and make Top 8 as the #2 seed. The top cut was pretty favorable to my deck, with good matchups against Gengar, the 2 M Manectric EX/Fighting, the Aromatisse, the Machamp, and the Donphan decks. I did have one awful matchup against Seismitoad EX/Crobat.
Luck wouldn’t be on my side this day, and I’d get paired against the Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF deck, and promptly lose in about 10-15 minutes of play. It’s a matchup I thought I should probably lose pretty badly headed into cut, and that’s exactly what I did.
Problem Point – Other Seismitoad EX Decks
This brings up the main problem with my variant of a Toad Lock deck, and that is it has no real means of beating other Seismitoad EX decks. The reason for this is simple, my deck does play Garbodor to shutdown Abilities, but that is pretty useless in Seismitoad EX mirror matches, as I would need to play a Tool down on Garbodor before they use Quaking Punch (so turn 1 pretty much), or else I would not have a Garbotoxin lock. Therefore, if my opponent utilized space in the deck to play Abilities, such as Tasting, Fairy Transfer, or Surprise Bite, they would be able to use these Abilities in the pseudo-mirror match, giving themselves an edge.
This edge is only maintained for decks designed to utilize Quaking Punch for the entirety of the game. Opposing Seismitoad EX’s made little difference when they were just techs and not part of the main strategy.
This is a weakness of the deck that I recognized almost immediately, but it’s a weakness that I was okay with the deck having. Dedicated Seismitoad EX decks were never much larger than 10-15% of the meta games that I played in, so it was more likely that I wouldn’t play one of these decks than it was for me to play against them in a tournament.
Therefore, it made little sense for me to worry about such a small part of the meta game, when I could focus my resources towards beating the rest of the meta game, the stuff I was most likely to play against often.
City Championship #3 – South St. Louis, Mo.
For my last City Championship of the season, I was pretty intent on playing Night March, but was swayed at the last moment to play Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX, which ended up being a great call, as my round 1 matchup would have been tough for Night March, and besides that, there was only one Grass deck, and the meta was very brown, which is good for Seismitoad EX. I ended up playing the same list as I did the previous weekend.
Here are how my matchups played out for this tournament:
R1 – Gengar EX – W
R2 – Machamp – W
R3 – Yveltal EX/Hydreigon – W
R4 – Donphan – L
R5 – Night March – W
Top 4 – Donphan – WLW
Top 2 – Fighting/Dusknoir – WLW
As this tournament only had a Top 4, you could only be safe to intentional draw after having won your first 4 matches. I could have ID’d my last round and potentially still made cut, but it would have come down to a resistance lottery, something I wouldn’t be comfortable putting my tournament fate into.
After reflecting further on just having the Top 4 versus a Top 8, coming up I believe 2 players short for a Top 8, I actually like the Top 4 cut better than the Top 8. While Top 8 makes it easier to achieve the feel goods of having made cut, Top 4 provides just as difficult of a tournament while guaranteeing you into the better prize pool from the start of cut.
I do believe these tournaments are roughly equal to the difficulty of slightly larger tournaments with a Top 8 cut. In both of these tournament setups, you basically need to win 4 matches before landing in the Top 4 of the tournament. In the Top 8 tournament, you need to go 3-0-2 or 3-1-1 in Swiss, before winning a Top 8 match to make Top 4. In the Top 4 tournament, you need to go 4-1 in Swiss to make Top 4 comfortably. The last round of Swiss where everyone would otherwise ID essentially becomes your Top 8 match. The only place where the Top 8 becomes slightly more difficult is the fourth win needing to be a match win, and not just a single game win.
I think this was a fairly straight forward tournament, in that I had a deck well positioned to do well in the meta based on matchups, and reaped the rewards of that.
Something to note, is that the Donphan matchup is a lot closer than one would expect, although still in Seismitoad EX’s favor. I think I could have easily avoided the Swiss loss to Donphan had I not prized my Lysandre’s Trump Card/been able to pull it out of the prizes in that game. If I can’t use Trump Card, I really don’t have the resources to beat a Donphan deck otherwise. However, the game I dropped in Top 4 to it, was just a result of coming up on the wrong side of a close game. Because of the nature of both decks, games tend to play fairly close on the surface between the two decks.
The Night March match to end Swiss was very nerve wracking, as I was doing 10 damage with Quaking Punch against a Hard Charmed Mew EX for large portions of the game (with that Mew EX using Quaking Punch on me). I managed to get into my Trump Card just in time to avoid losing, and then somewhat luckily was able to N myself into my last DCE to knockout his second Mew EX, taking firm control of the game.
The deck did what it was supposed to against Fighting/Dusknoir (doing it really well game 3 with nearly perfect hands to start the game), and I was able to walk away from City Championships with my second championship with Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX.
Thoughts Leading to the Deck Build
Headed into building this deck for City Championships, I had a lot of pre-conceived notions on how to properly build such a deck. I am no stranger to Hammer decks, having played a Darkrai/Weavile/Hammers deck after Dark Explorers was released, and Sableye DEX/Garbodor DRX for 2013 US Nationals and sometime after.
Because of this there was a bit of a wall I had to breakthrough in terms of figuring out what exactly the deck was trying to accomplish, which in the end, was something completely different than Sableye DEX/Garbodor DRX’s goal.
In short, here is what I came to see as the goals of the two different decks:
- Sableye DEX/Garbodor DRX – Win games by disrupting your opponent to the point that they are no longer to attack for the rest of the game.
- Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX – Win games by disrupting your opponent enough that you can take six prizes before they do.
This should have been obvious from the onset, as having 4 Crushing Hammer at your disposal is worlds different than the infinite number allowed from Junk Hunt. Nonetheless, my preconceived notion of what a lock deck should be trying to do kept this realization for me. However, once I moved past this mindset for the deck, it was only then could I make my most significant addition to the deck.
That addition would be Lysandre’s Trump Card. This conflicted with the first goal, of running my opponent out of resources, but it worked well enough with the second goal. The reason this worked, is because as the game dragged on, I would essentially be settled into my game state. I would have all of my Pokemon on the field for the most part, most of my Energy in play, and all of my Tools in play as well. So when I used Trump Card, I was basically putting back my Lasers, Energy Disruption, discarded Energy and Supporter Cards, leaving me in a state of consistent draws after having used a Trump Card, while my opponent was left with a bunch of useless Items.
While this is a glue card that holds the entire deck together, and you will almost always deck out or lose if you can’t use it, I still think only playing one of these is the right choice. You would only prize the card in ~1 out of 10 games, and then that only became a real issue if you prized it if you couldn’t pull it out of your first 3 or so prize cards, which just wasn’t going to happen often enough to worry about it. While two Trump card would be nice for peace of mind, the probabilities say the difference is negligible.
The next thing to look at are the core game components the deck would rely on to get to its end goal of wins. These came down to:
- Damage – Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Virbank City Gym to increase damage.
- Healing – Super Scoop Up, Max Potion, Cassius, AZ, Pokemon Center Lady, Scoop Up Cyclone to deny your opponent from taking knockouts on Seismitoad EX. Without healing, enough decks would gain the upper hand in the damage trade against you.
- Energy Denial – Head Ringer to increase the entry cost of attacking, Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, Team Flare Grunt, and Xerosic to remove Energy.
While stuff like Hypnotoxic Laser, Crushing Hammer, and Enhanced Hammer are self explanatory, I want to explain some of the card choices I made that other plays may choose to have gone a different direction with.
I went with Team Flare Grunt over Xerosic, as I felt being able to remove any Energy from my opponent’s field to be more disruptive than just being able to remove Special Energy, with the option of removing a Tool, a part I saw as largely insignificant since I would be Item locking most of the game.
Cassius was my preferred healing method. I was surprised to see this card absent from a lot of early Toad Lock lists, which instead chose to play AZ. I think this was just a case of players overlooking an old card that never really saw play outside of the infamous Willgen deck. I think conserving a Double Colorless Energy and any Tool attached to a Seismitoad EX is better than sending those to the discard, although costing the ability of being able to immediately play the same Seismitoad EX down to your bench.
When I introduced Super Scoop Up, I gained the best of both worlds, being able to just play my Seismitoad EX back to my bench, while re-attaching the DCE and Muscle Band, and then retreating back into the same Seismitoad EX I just healed. I ended up cutting the Waters for SSU, as I didn’t consider Grenade Hammer an essential part of the strategy, and most of the time I was just using Water Energy to give myself a third Energy to retreat to deny a KO. After seeing how little I actually used Grenade Hammer, it was an easy change to make.
The last unique part of my list was the use of Bicycle. I felt this was a logical inclusion in the deck as there isn’t really a good third draw/search Supporter to play in the deck, and it lets you use alternate Supporter cards while still getting draw for your turn.
Why Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX over Seismitoad EX/Slurpuff PHF?
For me, the decision of which of these two decks to play was never very close, Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX had tested as a better deck against everything in the format that wasn’t a dedicated Seismitoad EX deck. With dedicated Seismitoad decks being such a small portion of the meta, I was more than glad to take one awful matchup in exchange for strengthening all of my other matchups.
I think a large appeal for this deck for me was the certainty of the game state that it provided, something no other deck in the format can quite claim. The deck breaks the game down into a certain state by removing as many variables as possible from the equation. With Quaking Punch, it removes the Item variable from the game, while with the Garbotoxin Ability, it removes Abilities from the game. This leads to a fairly certain game state in which my opponent is limited to one Energy attachment per a turn, can’t play any Items, and can only retreat their Pokemon, and not switch it.
When this is the case, I can determine not only what my opponent’s most likely move is, but also what their optimal move is, allowing me to make optimal game moves based on facts about the game state, and not just guesses.
Whenever I had tested Seismitoad EX/Slurpuff, I felt like I had traded in this control over the game state for a slightly more consistent version, but much less powerful version of Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX. By trading in my Garbodor for Slurpuff, I gained a little bit of consistency, but introduced loads of new issues for the deck to deal with, such as Bronzong decks being able to accelerate Energy, Fairy transfer decks being able to move Energy and heal with AZ, decks being able to escape status conditions with Keldeo EX’s Rush In, or letting my opponent conserve Energy with Dark Cloak.
All of the arguments I have seen for using the Slurpuff version is because it allows you to use cards like Lysandre’s Trump Card, Team Flare Grunt, and Cassius effectively, something the Garbodor version isn’t supposed to be able to do. However, the Garbodor version not only can use these cards effectively too, but is also only good in large part because it does use these cards.
The Future of Toad Lock
While I have enjoyed some success thanks to my Toad lock decks, it’s a concept that I won’t be sad to see leave the meta game, and it’s something that I expect to see a decrease in play when Primal Clash comes out. The main reason I see it beginning a decline with that set is because of the Barrier Ancient Trait.
The Barrier Ancient Trait says, “Whenever your opponent plays a Trainer Card (excluding Pokemon Tools and Stadium cards) prevent all effects of that card done to this Pokemon.”
This means that your Crushing Hammers, Enhanced Hammers, Lysandre’s, Team Flare Grunts, Xerosics, Hypnotoxic Lasers, etc. are all useless against Pokemon with that trait, which essentially means Toad would be looking to scoop against decks including strong Pokemon with the trait. That’s an important distinction to make, as it’s an Ancient Trait and not an Ability, Garbodor won’t be there to save you.
While I haven’t tested the next format at all, Primal Groudon EX looks very powerful to me, so I would be shocked if it didn’t become part of a top tier deck, and that should lessen the viability of Toad lock decks.
As for the upcoming Regional Championships, I’d be hesitant to play a Toad lock deck. I haven’t calculated the results yet for Week 8, but from my initial scanning, it seemed like Toad Lock decks were the most successful archetype of the last week of City Championships. As it appears that Toad Lock decks are picking up in popularity as we near Regional Championships, and my version of the deck scoops to other Toad decks, I will naturally be looking elsewhere for a deck for Regionals.
In retrospect, I probably should have played Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX for a few more City Championships, as I think it was by far my strongest deck build. Not only did I do well with the deck, but it also brought home some City titles and Top 4’s for some friends as well. I probably could have squeezed out some more Championship Points from City Championships if I played the deck exclusively, but I still find a lot of fun in trying out a lot of different decks too, so no regrets on that end, especially since I did come back to it eventually.
In the end, I made Top 8 at 7/11 City Championships I attended. I scored for points with Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX (100 points; 2 First Places), Virizion EX/Genesect EX (30 points; 3rd Place), Florges EX/Aromatisse XY (30 points;3rd Place), and M Manectric EX/Fighting (20 points; Top 8, replaced by later finish). I then shot Top 8, no point blanks with Seismitoad EX/Garbodor once, and Night March once. I failed to make top cut with Yveltal EX/Garbodor DRX, M Manectric EX/Fighting, Fighting/Dusknoir, and Seismitoad EX/Malamar EX/Aromatisse XY.
That totals to 160 championship points from City Championships, and 211 total. The World Championship invite is looking very good right now after a good City Championship run, with just 89 points to go, with over half of the season left to get them. Next up, trying to take down Winter Regional Championships!