With the rise of Exeggutor decks, I found myself not really enjoying this format. Having two powerful lock decks, that were very much at odds with each other, was difficult to deal with. A lot of the cards that were good for countering Exeggutor decks fell in line to be punished by all the Seismitoad decks, making for a very weird meta game.
At first, I just wanted to try playing Exeggutor myself, but wasn’t having very good testing results with it. The next deck I was testing was M Manectric EX/Empoleon DEX, but I was having a horrible time trying to Archie’s an Empoleon in my testing, so I decided against that as well. Without finding something I really liked to play out of the main stuff, I just decided to play a fun deck. I had my invite headed into the tournament, so there was nothing to lose in doing so.
This is not to say that I wasn’t trying to do well at this tournament. I wouldn’t play something that I didn’t feel was any good at all. I’ve played convoluted combo decks that are in theory “fun” at things like Battle Roads in the past, but as a competitive player, as soon as you start going 1-4, the fun isn’t there any more.
I decided to go with Gengar EX. I had been messing around with the deck during City Championships, and then messed around with Ross’ list that he got 3rd Place at Illinois States with earlier in the format. I decided to drop the Raichu line the night before the tournament and play other support cards. Yveltal EX became a very small part of the meta game during week 4 of State Championships and didn’t make much of a comeback the first weekend of Regionals so I felt I could get away with not having to play against Yveltal. I’m not really sure why it declined so much, it’s still a very good deck, but I didn’t expect to be paired against an Yveltal deck on day 1, so I dropped Raichu from the deck.
I think Gengar was a really unexplored deck archetype that is a lot better than players have given it credit for. Dark Corridor does a base of 60 damage, which can become 80 with Muscle Band, and also poisons the opponent’s Pokemon. This means you will 2HKO most EX Pokemon, and then you can also 2HKO Mega Pokemon with Virbank City Gym in play. With Virbank City Gym in play, poison damage will knockout stuff like Yveltal XY, Empoleon DEX, and Xerneas XY going back into your turn. As Dark Corridor only costs [P][C][C], it is very easy to setup on the second turn of the game.
Here is the list I played for the tournament.
Pokemon – 16
3 Gengar EX
Trainers – 32
4 Professor Juniper
4 Ultra Ball
2 Virbank City Gym
Energy – 12
This deck shares a lot of similarities with the old Donphan decks that saw a lot of play that played a diverse set of wall Pokemon. The primary wall for this deck is Trevenant, which will Item lock your opponent with its Forest’s Curse Ability. This is really strong against Seismitoad EX decks, as you setup a consistent 2HKO on them, while at the same time keeping them from doing much of anything. A lot of other decks are playing very Item heavy draw engines (Flareon, Night March, and Exeggutor), and Forest’s Curse is also very good for slowing them down.
As you’re already playing Psychic Energy in your deck, you can actually attack with Trevenant as well. Tree Slam costs [P][C][C] and does 60 damage plus 20 damage to two of your opponent’s benched Pokemon. If you can Lysandre up an EX that is unprepared to attack, you can knock that Pokemon out with Trevenant while setting up KO’s on some of the benched Pokemon.
Wobbuffet is in the deck for its Bide Barricade Ability, which shuts off Abilities on all Pokemon except for Psychic Pokemon. Wobbuffet is the deck’s best starter, especially in the current format where a lot of decks are playing low Supporter counts and are overly reliant on Jirachi EX to get things going. It can also be semi-useful to shutoff some other Abilities like Diving Draw, Propogate, and Metal Links.
Its attack, Psychic Assault, costs [P][C] and does 10 damage plus 10 more damage for each damage counter on the Defending Pokemon. This is a solid attack for finishing stuff off, but I really didn’t use it very often. There just isn’t much need to attack with Wobbuffet when your Gengar EX isn’t getting knocked out very often and you can just retreat back into it to use Dark Corridor for the KO.
I included a single copy of Sigilyph. EX Pokemon still rule the game, so being able to put up a Safeguard Pokemon can stall some turns for you to give you more time to setup, or just lock down a game after a late game N when your opponent doesn’t have any non-EX attacking options setup.
The final wall I included was Robo Substitute. This deck plays differently than Donphan in that it is much more of a control deck, and the walls we are using are working to disrupt or control our opponent’s gameplay in some manner. However, there still can be points in a game where if you get knocked out, you lose, and there might not be anything you can do to prevent your opponent from knocking out one of your Pokemon. The Robo Substitute fills this role in the deck to get you that one turn you need to keep moving forward in the game. I really wanted a second,but I just couldn’t find room for it.
I kept the Electrode line that Ross had in his deck. Without Raichu in the deck, the deck didn’t play down its hands as much every turn as it did with Raichu, but it was still very useful in the early setup portions of the games, and where it was best used was to quickly refill my hand after I N’d my opponent in the late game. It was also very good as N protection from my opponents’ N’s. There were plenty of turns I didn’t get to use Magnetic Draw because my hand was too large, but that’s okay, because when that happened I still had the resources I needed in hand.
Playing Electrode alongside Wobbuffet might seem awkward at first, but it really isn’t all that complicated. You simply retreat your Wobbuffet into Gengar EX and then use Magnetic Draw.
The Supporter and Item lines are all very standard. The Supporter engine of 4 Juniper/4 N/2 Colress/2 Lysandre/1 Trump/3 VS Seeker with a Jirachi EX is a proven, consistent Supporter engine.
As far as Stadium Cards go, Virbank City Gym is the most important, as it lets you hit the best damage numbers with Dark Corridor. You can generally 2HKO EX Pokemon with Dark Corridor, even without Virbank, but Virbank City Gym lets you better deal with Stage 1’s, Stage 2’s, high HP Basics, and Mega Pokemon.
I included a single copy of Dimension Valley to essentially increase my outs to a second turn Dark Corridor. Some stuff like Aegislash EX, Keldeo EX, and Virizion EX can be problematic for the deck, so I played Silent Lab as well to shutoff their Abilities. Unfortunately, Wobbuffet doesn’t do a very good job against decks with Virizion EX or Aegislash EX because Wobbuffet wouldn’t become Active until after the Dark Corridor had already happened, so Silent Lab is needed to fill that role.
Round 1 – TJ Thompson – Bronzong PHF/Aegislash EX
In the first game, I never could successfully deal with the Aegislash EX that he powered up. After a little bit, Aegislash EX just gets too much damage going to the point that all of your wall Pokemon are getting knocked out. The deck doesn’t play a lot of Basic Energy, so in general it will take awhile for you get the Gengar powered up to attack with just Psychic Energy. In this game, I know he was able to get a Lysandre on my Gengar with just Psychic Energy attached and knocked it out, leaving me without any good options to deal with his Aegislash EX.
In the second game, I think I was able to take a quick KO on a Bronzor to take the game. He put up a Cobalion EX to attack my Gengar with, and since I wasn’t under great threat of being knocked out by the Cobalion, I decided to use Night Attack to start getting damage on the Aegislash EX so it would be easier to deal with when he started attacking with it. This game actually ended up going down to the wire. After I got the Aegislash EX up to 150 damage, and having N’d him to a small hand size, I was able to stick a Silent Lab and then Lysandre up his Bronzong. From there, I used Night Attack on the Aegislash EX to knock it out. He didn’t draw a way to get Bronzong out of the active spot, so I played down Virbank City Gym and knocked out the Bronzong with Dark Corridor.
Time was called very early in the third game.
Round 2 – Franco Marino – Primal Kyogre EX/Victini EX/Pyroar PHF
While Rough Seas decks are generally able to give Gengar a tough time, this deck ended up being fairly easy to deal with because of the 110 HP EX Pokemon that he had to use to get setup. I was able to get a turn 2 Gengar in both games, knocking out a Victini EX in both games. From there, I had easy knockouts on the board with Jirachi EX or another Victini EX in one of the games, and really just had to deal with one Kyogre EX to finish out the games.
Round 3 – Drew Ashbacher – Manectric EX/Crobat PHF
In general, heavy EX decks are in Gengar’s favor, but this deck had quite a few things going for it in the matchup. Manectric EX can easily Lysandre and KO a Gengar EX with a Tool card on it with the aide of Crobat damage. Bat damage also can be used to make it so Manectric EX can knockout your Trevenant in one hit. They also have Rough Seas which can be used to turn Gengar’s attacks into a 3HKO or even more if they retreat back to the bench. Lastly, in both games i whiffed the Muscle Band attachment to my Gengar EX and got a Gengar Head Ringer’d, messing up my ideal bench setup some.
The first game ended up being close, but I ultimately lost it. I had a tough time bouncing his Rough Seas, and the game went right down to the wire, I had a Lysandre to bring up his Jirachi EX to close out the game after going down to either 1 or 2 prizes left. However, he N’d me down, and I couldn’t find the Lysandre again leading to the loss.
The second game went much better for me, I got a fast Trevenant lock, while being able to get some quick prizes with Dark Corridor. He had trouble finding a Manectric EX, which helped me get out to a very large lead early in the game. He was eventually able to find a Fan Club to get two Manectric EX into play, and I had some trouble closing out the game, but the large early lead was enough to push me through for the win.
Round 4 – Kevin Baxter – Primal Groudon EX/Landorus EX/Hawlucha FFI
This matchup would appear to be largely in Gengar’s favor as you resist Fighting, and they’re a little slow to setup, but it actually ended up being a very close series. I don’t think every match goes this close against Primal Groudon, but Kevin is one of the best players in the game so he can play the deck to its full potential, and when played to its best, the deck is very hard to beat.
The first game started out with a surreal Stadium war, in which we were knocking Stadium cards off the table what seemed like every turn of the game. I wanted Virbank City Gym in play to stack damage quickly for KO’s, and he wants Silent Lab in play to shutoff my Safeguard on Sigilyph and Mr. Mime’s Bench Barrier. He was able to successfully counter my Stadiums to be able to snipe the bench quite a bit. This allowed him to knock out a Gengar EX with Lands Judgment without discarding the Energy attached to Landorus EX. I was able to respond and knockout the Landorus EX with my Wobbuffet with Psychic Assault after using Computer Search to get Dimension Valley, but after that, I ran out of steam and wasn’t able to get another Gengar setup.
In the second game, he started a Hawlucha and wasn’t able to draw into another Pokemon off his Professor Juniper and the Hawlucha died to a Dark Corridor on the second turn of the game.
I don’t remember a lot of the early stages of the third game, but I know I got a good setup, being able to get a lot of Trevenant’s onto my field. I was able to pull up a Landorus EX with Lysandre and then just use Tree Slam, stacking damage on a Hawlucha and Primal Groudon. Unless he could get a Lysandre and a Switch in the same turn, the Landorus EX was going to be stuck Active. Landorus is a 3HKO for Trevenant, so I was able to stack 60 damage on a Hawlucha. That meant when he brought up Primal Groudon EX to take a knockout, I had both Gengar EX’s Night Attack and Trevenant’s Tree Slam available to snipe the Hawlucha for my final prize, so I was able to establish a winning board position regardless of which of my Pokemon got knocked out.
Round 5 – Travis Nunlist – M Manectric EX/Empoleon DEX/Black Kyurem EX/Keldeo EX
I’m not exactly sure what the best way to deal with this deck is for Gengar. I think the best strategy is to try to slow their start early by starting Wobbuffet Active if possible, and then go for a turn 2 Trevenant to shut them down, as they play a very Item heavy draw engine that is reliant on Jirachi EX. Basically, you don’t want them to get setup.
I wasn’t able to do this in either game, and he got Keldeo EX with a Float Stone down, as well as got some Empoleon into play, which makes this an almost unwinnable matchup. Once that setup happens, it’s very hard to finish off a game, as M Manectric EX OHKO’s all your wall Pokemon, Empoleon can knockout Sigilyph, and there is Rough Seas to heal off the damage.
Once that setup is established, the only thing you can hope them to do is to misplay and mismanage their VS Seeker for Lysandre’s Trump Card while overly drawing through their deck. Then if they are out of Energy attachments, as well as Rough Seas, and Lysandre, you can lock something like a Black Kyurem EX with Trevenant and Silent Lab. That is a really convoluted strategy that won’t work against a player as good as Travis, so needless to say the opening never occurred.
This deck was definitely on my radar headed into the tournament, but I didn’t prepare to play against it because I didn’t think it would be a deck players would head towards in large numbers. While the deck wasn’t that popular at the tournament overall, it was very popular among some of the better players at the tournament so it had a strong presence at the top tables throughout the day.
Round 6 – Todd Chrisman – Seismitoad EX/Manectric EX/Crobat PHF
Gengar’s matchup against Seismitoad heavy strategies is very strong. You’re able to protect your Energy investments on Gengar by shutting off their hammers with Forest’s Curse, and between the two decks, Virbank City Gym will find its way into play very quickly, and Dark Corridor provides an easy 2HKO on Seismitoad EX. Seismitoad actually doesn’t trade well at all as they take a 3HKO or 4HKO on Trevenant, while you’re taking solid 2HKO’s on them.
Ideally you want to get a Float Stone on Phantump before they get a Quaking Punch off, but you also have Mystery Energy which reduced the retreat cost of the Pokemon it is attached to by two. One neat thing you can do is attach two Mystery Energy to give Trevenant completely free retreat. Alternatively you can attach a Mystery Energy and discard it, or if you already have a Mystery Energy attached, you can attach some other Energy card and discard that instead of the Mystery Energy so you still have the Mystery Energy for your next turn.
You also don’t even have to retreat Trevenant at all right away. Dark Corridor does 60 into 90 going into their turn, and then 120 coming back to you, and then 150 back into your opponent’s turn, and then 180 back into your turn, at which point they will have to bring up a new Pokemon.
The first game was fairly standard. I was able to get Gengar EX setup, along with Trevenant’s and take the game state to where I wanted it to be. The second game, all I started was a Gengar EX with no draw Supporter. My opponent attached a Double Colorless Energy to his Active Seismitoad EX, so I used a Lysandre on another Seismitoad EX on his bench to try to stall. I don’t think he had a Supporter either because that Seismitoad stayed stranded Active the entire game. I used Dark Corridor on it to put pressure on it and get damage flowing. From there, I had to just use Night Attack on his benched Seismitoad EX as I couldn’t knockout the Active one, otherwise he would be able to use Quaking Punch, almost assuredly giving me a loss. All I got to do was play a couple Colress for low counts (I think for 2 each time), and didn’t draw another Pokemon, so my Gengar eventually died from Poison damage from a Hypnotoxic Laser he played.
The third game was very weird as well. I started Sigilyph with no Supporter again, and just attached to the Sigilyph and started to use Psychic. Luckily, my opponent couldn’t draw into a Hypnotoxic Laser to start putting damage on Sigilyph, and I drew into a Phantump with a Trevenant already in hand and began attaching Energy to it. On the next turn, I evolved to Trevenant and started attacking with it. This actually isn’t a bad position, as my Trevenant would KO his Seismitoad before the Toad could KO my Trevenant, all while setting up damage for KO’s elsewhere. I eventually was able to get a Supporter out, get Gengar EX setup, and it was fairly smooth sailing after the rough start.
Round 7 – Christian Frau – Night March
In the first game, my opponent didn’t start with a Supporter or Battle Compressor and I was able to get a turn 2 Trevenant and knockout his Mew EX with Tree Slam and snipe 20 to two Joltik followed by another Tree Slam for a quick first game.
The second game wasn’t as easy, but I was able to get a Gengar EX setup and start taking KO’s. After knocking out some Mew EX and Pumpkaboo, my opponent eventually whiffed Energy for a turn and ended up without a Supporter too I think, and I was able to just finish out the series with Gengar.
These types of decks are really good matchups for this deck. They really need to use Dimension Valley, which allows you to setup your Pokemon to attack easier. You don’t need Virbank City Gym in play to be able to knockout Mew EX, Pumpkaboo, or Joltik with Dark Corridor. Additionally, with Trevenant XY you can Item lock them and then use Lysandre’s Trump Card, but you don’t have to fear them being able to Item lock you in return as you do with Seismitoad decks. Additionally, they can’t really use Lysandre very effectively in the matchup to get at the Gengar as they are going to be losing a Pokemon every turn and they will typically have to use their Supporter for turn to try to fish for an Energy or new attacker.
Round 8 – Blake Pennington – Flareon
This matchup is fairly similar to Night March, although it has a bit more of a degree of difficulty as you need Muscle Band and Virbank City Gym in play to take OHKO’s on their Pokemon. It has a lot of the advantages Seismitoad decks have against Flareon without having to worry about Leafeon being an effective attacker.
In the first game I think I missed the turn 2 Dark Corridor, but I was still able to get a second turn Trevenant without enough Pokemon in the discard for a Flareon to OHKO me. I eventually got Gengar EX, and used Trump Card fairly early in the game and established a good board position and he scooped to go onto game 2.
In the second game, I started Wobbuffet. I just kept Wobbuffet active for the first few turns of the game which forces him to need to hit one of his 4 Professor Juniper if he wishes to draw anything. By the time I switched out Wobbuffet for a Trevenant allowing him to play his Jirachi EX my board was already too well established giving me control of the game.
In the end, I finished in 11th place out of 160 something players. This puts me at 386 points on the season. I still have one more States/Regional finish open, as well as a League Challenge finish, so I will try to add some points next weekend in Wisconsin to better position myself for Nationals Travel Awards and put myself in a position for Top 16 in North America if I were to have a good run at US Nationals in July.
What Roaring Skies Brings to Gengar
I think Gengar is fairly well positioned to be a successful deck in the Roaring Skies format. I actually did most of my recent testing with Gengar against Roaring Skies decks as I do most of my testing on PTCGO, and they already moved over to the Roaring Skies format a few weeks ago, and this list was doing well even without being adjusted to the new format.
Gengar actually works really well in the new format as a Dark Corridor with Virbank City Gym in play and a Muscle Band attached to Gengar does 110 damage, good to knockout a Shaymin EX, which will be a major player in the new format.
I think I would want to play a higher Wobbuffet count in the deck to increase my probability of starting with it. A lot of decks that people will be playing are overly reliant on Shaymin EX to get setup, and just starting Wobbuffet can shutdown a good portion of decks that people seem to be planning on playing. I have generally liked Shaymin EX as an addition to thick Supporter lines, but some players are choosing to go for very Shaymin EX and Item heavy draw engines, and Wobbuffet is very effective in shutting these engines down to start a game.
M Gengar EX will be very interesting in the new format. Phantom Gate costs [P][C][C] and lets you copy one of the attacks on your opponent’s Pokemon. That means you can copy a M Rayquaza EX’s attack to do up to 240 damage against the Colorless one, and 300 damage against the Dragon one.
While this seems great in theory, I’m not sure it is actually needed in the deck to beat these decks. The strength of Gengar decks is its Item Lock and Ability lock, and attacking with M Gengar EX would be giving up both of those. I would think that a deck like Colorless M Rayquaza EX would easily be able to return a KO on M Gengar if you were to bring it active.
The big one is the potential for a turn one Trevenant by using Wally for your Supporter for your turn. Once again, this seems interesting to me, but I’m not sure if I would include it in the deck. If I did, I might just go for a single Wally, and use Jirachi EX to get it if I start a Phantump and my hand supports the play. The issue with Wally is that you really need another Supporter in hand for your next turn, otherwise your turn 1 Trevenant will still go down fast.
I think a lot of players will be tempted to play a very Shaymin EX heavy draw engine and basing their strategy around a turn 1 Trevenant, but I haven’t been able to get behind this. I think these types of engines are easily shutdown by Wobbuffet, and I would be fearful of putting more emphasis around starting Phantump, as I think Latios EX will be lurking in quite a few decks and starting lone Phantump can lead to a very quick loss.
I’ll need to do more testing with Wally in the deck to see how effective it actually is to make a determination on whether it is truly effective or not, and how consistent it actually is. It could end up just being one of those things that is great in theory, and players remember the games where everything works out, but in reality it actually isn’t consistent as players are remembering it being.
Between Safeguard, Ability Lock, and Item Lock, I think Gengar can provide a good foil to the M Rayquaza EX and Seismitoad EX decks that are getting most of the hype to start out the format.
One thing that is kind of bothersome that I saw a lot of at this weekend of Regional Championships is players engaging other players to try to gain concessions to allow players to get their last points for their World Championship invites.
This is wrong for the obvious reason of being explicitly against the tournament rules. However, it is also wrong as it puts your opponent in a very unfair position entering and exiting a game. No player should ever have to go into a tournament and be expected to do anything except try to win their match. Adam Capriola wrote a good article on this entitlement for Six Prizes about a year ago.
Making it into the World Championship isn’t supposed to be easy. Just because you’re close to getting an invite doesn’t mean you’re entitled to getting the last few points to finish off an invite. You still need to go out and earn the last few points if you really want it, they shouldn’t just be given to you because you got close. No player should ever be asked to give up a match that they won because you feel you’re entitled to the win (which you’re not, the person that actually won the match is entitled to win the match).
Some players expect that the last push into a World’s invite should be like this:
When it should really be like:
When you go into a match seeking a concession from your opponent, all you’re doing is creating an uncomfortable situation that your opponent shouldn’t have to be in, as well as doing yourself a major disservice.
If you are going into a match expecting your opponent to concede the match or wanting your opponent to concede the match to you, what you’re really telling yourself is that you’re not a good enough player to beat the player you have to face, at which point you don’t believe that you’re good enough to be worthy of an invite anyhow. If you don’t think you can beat someone going in, you probably won’t as you have already defeated yourself in your mind, and such negative thoughts can easily creep into your play triggering misplays.
Losing sucks. Falling short of your goals sucks, but that is part of the game. At the end of the day these tournaments are competitions, and the spirit of competition should be respected. Failure breeds success in the longterm if you take the failures in and learn from them. The path to success is often laid with many bricks of failures. If you’re not doing as well as you think you should be doing, that just means you’re not as good as you think you are and you need to do more work to reach your goals.
Overall, it was a fairly great weekend. It was a pretty odd tournament as I lost my voice on Saturday morning, making it difficult to talk on Saturday, but it was kind enough to return on Sunday. It was a lot of fun playing Gengar this weekend and it was a lot of fun to play with some cards that don’t make it out of the binder too often.
This has been a really weird format for me, as there was never a point in which I actually enjoyed this format. Nonetheless, I didn’t let that make for an excuse to not try, and managed to come away from this part of the season with 145 Championship Points between a 3rd Place League Challenge with Exeggutor, 2nd Place at Missouri States with Yveltal EX/Garbodor, and a Top 16 Regional Finish with Gengar EX/Trevenant.
Also, interestingly enough, for all the hype, the only time I ever played against Exeggutor was at an Expanded League Challenge. It certainly will be nice to never have to worry about that deck again, even if it mostly haunted me in testing games.
Featured Image Credit: Crazyatheart on Deviant Art