Hello Charizard Lounge readers! My name is Conner LaVelle, and it has been quite some time since my last article here. As Andrew has so kindly left my name on the “Authors” portion of the page for the past two years, I have begun to feel as though it is my duty to produce more content. Fortunately, my newfound sense of responsibility has been accompanied by a top 32 finish at the Orlando Regional Championships, and that will be my topic of discussion today.
Deciding the Play
In the lead-up to the tournament, I was feeling uncertain. A Standard format without Battle Compressor had not existed since before I last wrote for this site, and hype for this new format varied widely. Thankfully, around this time, my friend Andrew Krekeler took his M Mewtwo EX list to a top 8 finish at ARG in Oklahoma City. Coupled with his wealth of information on how to maneuver certain matchups, this made my deck decision quite clear.
M Mewtwo EX/Garbodor felt very well placed against the projected format coming out of ARG. Volcanion was emerging as the most popular deck, coupling consistency with ease of execution, a formula that has defined deck popularity for much of the game’s history. Yveltal/Mew was an unfavorable matchup on paper that ended up coming down to a battle of attrition. Ultimately, Mewtwo’s energy ends up being easier to preserve than Yveltal’s, generally allowing Mewtwo to pull out the win. The Mewtwo mirror is even, of course, but nuances in play and game plan frequently allow a more experienced player to win the matchup.
Outside of the top 8 from ARG, Rainbow Road was quite even with two Parallel City, placing the deck in a very similar resource battle as Yveltal, but straying from the range of favorable due to the difference in one-shot potential. In testing, M Rayquaza fell consistently to the combination of Garbodor and Parallel City in a similar, but more extreme, manner. Mewtwo’s inherently strong game plan often allowed it to take wins against fringe decks, as well.
Of course, no deck is without rough spots. Darkrai/Giratina could be a difficult matchup if you fail to draw into Hex Maniac quickly (or elect not to play it). Yveltal/Mew, while generally not unfavorable, would severely punish a slow Garbodor. Lastly there is M Gardevoir EX STS, a deck that routinely crushes Mewtwo with a cheap attack cost and hitting for weakness.
Andrew built the list with a mind for consistency, a motion I was wholly in favor of. We alternated several cards in the list, continuously returning to his ARG list after lackluster results. The only change that ended up following through to the tournament was the inclusion of Hoopa STS, the card to swing the mirror.
Here is the list I played:
Pokemon – 15
4 Mewtwo EX BKT62
Trainers – 34
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Ultra Ball
2 Parallel City
Energy – 11
A recap of my day one goes like this:
Round 1 – Yveltal/Mew – Win (1-0-0)
Round 2 – M Mewtwo EX (Y) – Win (2-0-0)
Round 3 – Rainbow Road – Loss (2-1-0)
Round 4 – Volcanion EX – Win (3-1-0)
Round 5 – Yveltal/Mew – Win (4-1-0)
Round 6 – Rainbow Road – Loss (4-2-0)
Round 7 – M Glalie EX – Win (5-2-0)
Round 8 – Yveltal/Mew – Win (6-2-0)
Round 9 – M Rayquaza EX – Win (7-2-0)
Sincerest apologies to any opponents whose order I may have entered incorrectly; my day one experience is a bit of a haze.
Day one was a bit stressful as I found myself needing to win out after round 6–certainly not the most difficult win-out situation, but not the most comfortable, either. My losses to Rainbow Road in round 3 were largely due to a couple of key whiffs, and, in round 6, my opponent was playing both Max Elixir and Exp. Share, making my task of eliminating all of his energy impossible. The rest of the games played out more or less as I had expected, with a strong mix of running hot (which I certainly cannot claim full innocence from) and playing out of rough starts.
The Day Two Disaster
Day 2 saw my prospects looking up. Due to my inclusion of various tools such as Hex Maniac and Hoopa STS to shore up bad matchups, my only fears rested with the M Gardevoir decks that had worked their way into Day 2. I was expecting to hit one and lose to it, being able to win or tie the rest of my games to give myself a shot at top 8.
A recap of my day 2 is:
Round 10 – M Gardevoir EX STS – Loss (7-3-0)
Round 11 – Darkrai EX/Giratina EX/Garbodor BPT – Loss (7-4-0)
Round 12 – M Gardevoir EX STS – Loss (7-5-0)
Round 13 – Volcanion EX – Loss (7-6-0)
Round 14 – Gyarados AOR – Tie (7-6-1)
Clearly, my day 2 experience did not go as I was hoping. After taking an immediate loss to M Gardevoir, my attempt to rebound was answered by dead draws in games one and three of round 11. Dreams of a win-out for top 16 were dashed by yet another M Gardevoir in round 12. In round 13, I was up-paired. We played out the series, with me taking it 2-0, but I decided to give my opponent the win seeing as he has the potential for top 16 whereas I did not. In round 14, I was extremely relaxed and consequently allowed my opponent to slow play me to a tie.
In all, a top 32 finish to start my season is certainly not something I can complain about. I felt as though I played fairly well throughout the tournament, with many of my day 2 results being decided by TOM before I was even seated. While unfortunate, these situations are outside of any player’s control. Harboring negativity over them provides no benefit.
I’d like to take some time now to break down both my list for the event and strategy against certain matchups. I’ll analyze the list card-by-card, leaving out only the most obvious inclusions. Builds for M Mewtwo vary widely, but many card choices I’ve tried in the deck feel outright inferior to others. I’ll attempt to explain some of the choices I made regarding exclusions to clarify this.
4-3 M Mewtwo EX: This count was optimal for consistency. As Shrine of Memories allows you to refresh any damaged Mewtwo, you will almost never be able to utilize four Megas in a game. Starting Mewtwo is never a bad thing, and a higher count of the basic ensured that setup would be reliable and stable.
Notable Exclusion: Mewtwo EX BKT 61: I saw a fair bit of discussion revolving around this card being useful in the mirror. Ultimately, Damage Change is too powerful of an attack to not have access to on a Mega, making many situations where you need to mega evolve a Photon Wave Mewtwo suboptimal. In addition, this Mewtwo’s effect on the mirror is minimal. Photon Wave only affects the Pokemon hit by it, and most Mewtwo builds are going to be able to dedicate a Float Stone to circumvent the effect. Psyburn, while good in theory for its ability to hit for weakness, is often either too costly of an investment or redundant. Four energy is extremely easy to revenge KO with Psychic Infinity, and often a four energy Shatter Shot will perform the same function if needed. For these reasons, this inclusion often loses you more games than anything.
2-2 Garbodor: This is a highly common count of the line. It maintains consistency, and it allows you to establish two Garbodor in matchups where ability lock is critical (Giratina-EX, Volcanion, Greninja).
1 Hoopa EX: While some lists opt to play two of this card, I have a very hard time justifying it in a build with Garbodor. You need too many cards in the deck to run something that often ends up superfluous.
1 Hoopa STS: This was a last minute recommendation from Andrew Krekeler, and it definitely paid off. The primary intention of this card is to improve the mirror, but it has uses against Gyarados and Yveltal as well. Against the mirror, using a Hyperspace Punch on two M Mewtwo EX’s (or two Mewtwo EX’s with Spirit Links) allows you to enter an extremely favorable trade. You require one energy fewer to KO a M Mewtwo EX, both making your KO’s easier to achieve and their revenge KO’s more difficult. Additionally, to knock out a two or three energy M Mewtwo without Hoopa damage leaves you massively vulnerable to a return KO. This sort of exchange often determines the mirror, and the player with more resources on board and in deck toward the end game, of course, pulls out the win. Against Gyarados, Hoopa can KO two Magikarp, a play strengthened even further if you bounce a Magma Base on the same turn. It is occasionally possible to effectively use Hoopa’s second attack against Yveltal; it allows for a OHKO on a baby Yveltal without endangering any major resources. Overall, I love the card and would play it in any meta where the mirror match is projected to be popular.
2 N: I saw a few lists running around with 3 of this card. While I don’t hate it, the 2 are usually enough, and the extra space is invaluable.
2 Lysandre: I played the deck with Lysandre at counts of both 1 and 2 throughout my testing, and 2 felt much more comfortable. I went far too many games without hitting it when needed at 1.
1 Hex Maniac: This card gives you a fighting chance against Giratina-EX, with notable uses against Volcanion and Yveltal/Mew. Volcanion will frequently prioritize a KO on Garbodor over all else, and Hex can allow you to continue the ability lock to close out a game. Against Yveltal, both Fright Night and Memories of Dawn (Mew’s Abilitiy) are hugely detrimental to your odds of success. Hex can be used in both early and late stages of the game to keep Spirit Links live and defend against Mew, respectively. Before the success of Darkrai/Giratina, I would say that this card would be my first cut for tech space, but, without it, the matchup becomes unwinnable. This card is only useful in specific metagames, and it can be cut for space at a local if need be. At a large event, I feel that the exclusion of Hex would be unwise as it holds value against three highly popular decks.
Notable Exclusions: Pokemon Center Lady, Giovanni’s Scheme, Olympia: I tried all of these supporters as 1-ofs. Pokemon Center Lady was extremely strong but ultimately cut for consistency. Giovanni’s Scheme was a card we included for the mirror before we were aware of Hoopa; it was strong once in every three games or so. Olympia was a card that I should have given much more time, and this is clear in retrospect when looking at successful lists. The exclusion of Olympia was definitely an oversight on my part, and I will likely be looking to measure the card’s effectiveness in the deck more thoroughly.
4 Mega Turbo: A tremendous number of lists chose to play a lower count of Mega Turbo, with some dropping as low as two. A point of comparison would be Dark Patch in Yveltal decks in Expanded; I fail to see why people play fewer of this card. When testing 3, I constantly found myself losing games when having to discard one early on, and hitting Mega Turbos to maintain or gain tempo was significantly less reliable. Three Mega Turbo makes the mirror much rockier, specifically, as an unanswered Psychic Infinity typically means a loss. If you feel that your list is running well with 3, then it is a possible drop, but I was unable to reach that conclusion myself.
3 Trainer’s Mail: I love 4 Trainer’s Mail. The card smooths out the general flow of the deck and gives you outs when presented weak hands. That said, space is tight in the deck, and Trainer’s Mail can sometimes be a weak card. With such high counts of nearly all of the deck’s Trainers, Trainer’s Mail number 4 dropped off the list in favor of cards like Hoopa STS and Hex. The 4th Trainer’s Mail will be my first inclusion when there is an available space in the deck.
3 Spirit Link: I did not give this card a significant amount of testing at 4 because I always felt flooded with them. With 3 Spirit Link, they hit your hand frequently without becoming obstructive.
Notable Exclusion: Super Rod: I am going to be quite honest: I hate Super Rod. This hatred extends past M Mewtwo and is undoubtedly irrational. The card is terribly passive, and you can almost always manage your resources in such a way that it is unnecessary, at least in Mewtwo. That said, the card’s usefulness is evident, allowing you to recover from rough discards in early stages of the game, and it is especially a strong inclusion in a best-of-1 format to prevent losses in these situations. I would not be surprised in any way if successful Mewtwo lists featured the card, and, if you achieve positive results with Super Rod in testing, it would absolutely be a valid card choice.
2 Parallel City/2 Shrine of Memories: At the moment, I draw a hard line at 2 Parallel City. The card is far too important against M Ray and Rainbow Road and far too useful in general for me to drop to 1. If those two decks were to fall out of the meta, I would definitely be willing to consider changing my stance on the matter. 2 Shrine are a minimum, and I tried to include 3 several times in testing. Unfortunately, the impact that the 3rd Shrine had was weaker than some of the other possible inclusions in the deck (Hex, Hoopa, 4th Turbo), so it did not make the final cut. A 4 count of Stadiums is generally a safe place to be in this format, and a mix of these two seems to be the best direction for M Mewtwo. In an even more stadium heavy format, a 5 count would certainly not be unthinkable.
Matchups will be listed in order of success at Orlando, beginning with Darkrai/Giratina and excluding Raichu/Golbat, as I have very little by way of concrete results on it.
Darkrai/Giratina: The favorability of this matchup changes drastically depending on whether or not you choose to play Hex Maniac. If you play Hex, this matchup trends even, winning games in which you can effectively use it, and losing games where you cannot. Giratina EX sets itself up to be KO’d by Psychic Infinity with its high attack cost, and Darkrai generally has a hard time oneshotting M Mewtwo. This can allow Mewtwo to get off Damage Changes onto Shaymin EX and the like, bringing the prize game into Mewtwo’s favor. Conversely, if you choose not to play Hex, this matchup is nearly unwinnable. A Lysandre and Choas Wheel into a Garbodor will typically seal the game in the absence of the ability locking supporter.
Mirror: The mirror is a matchup that plays very slowly. Ideally, you lead the matchup with chip damage from Shatter Shot, using a Float Stone’d Mewtwo EX. This allows you to set up Megas on the bench while still pressuring the active and not committing anything major. The first player to either lose a Mega or a large amount of energy will typically lose the game. Always protect your resources; getting aggressive in this matchup is very frequently incorrect barring a highly disbalanced start. Netting consecutive revenge kills is absolutely critical, making 4 Mega Turbo a notable advantage. Hoopa STS can be a major player here, setting up favorable exchanges with Hyperspace Punch and threatening OHKO’s with Portal Strike. Lastly, don’t be afraid to use Acid Spray (Trubbish’s attack). 20 damage reduces the required energy for a KO, as previously discussed, and energy removal in this matchup can be relevant.
Yveltal: This matchup is about keeping damage off of your board and racing your opponent’s energy. While Damage Change is the obvious way to keep your board light on incremental damage, blue-siding yourself with Parallel City can be a highly effective strategy to meet a similar end. By the later stages of the game, you will commonly find yourself ahead on energy; sometimes a Damage Change to lower the likelihood of a revenge KO onto a high energy Mewtwo can be the optimal play, even if it doesn’t take a prize. In the event that the Yveltal deck is playing Mew, place heavy priority on rushing Garbodor. Mew can make a roughly even matchup negative if unchecked. This matchup can be tricky to navigate. Do not be afraid to deviate from your general strategy if a different line of play would fit the game state better.
Vileplume Toolbox: This matchup is rough. Regice is bad news, and building up Hoopa STS on the bench for a KO will often be immediately answered (or preempted) by a Resistance Blizzard from Mew-EX. Try to use Damage Change as much as possible; even with Magearna-EX in play, you may find that you have the ability to deck your opponent out if they overextend. Protecting a Mega until you can get 4 energy on it to KO Vileplume is important, but Mew-EX will often be able to take advantage of Psychic Infinity if you fail to draw Lysandre in a timely manner. If you manage to break the item lock, you can usually seal the game with Lysandre due to the deck’s reliance on Shaymin EX for a fast Plume. 2 Lysandre is a major boon in this matchup, but it will not make the climb into favorable territory.
M Gardevoir STS: This matchup is horrendous. If you go second, you will lose nearly 100% of the time. Going first gives you signs of life here, allowing you to eliminate energy from the opponent’s board before they can start knocking out M Mewtwo. Garbodor can allow you to make a comeback off of an N because of how ability-reliant Gardevoir is, but you’ve got to draw near perfectly to pull a win in most cases.
Greninja BREAK: Garbodor and Damage Change in conjunction make this matchup quite manageable. Variants of Greninja playing heavy Faded Town can give you a bit of trouble, but the game plan is almost always the same. Play carefully with your stadiums and establish the ability lock ASAP, going aggressive early and watching for Damage Change opportunities later on.
Volcanion: If you can set up against Volcanion, you can win against Volcanion. Garbodor is a massive obstacle for them, requiring immediate prioritization. This exposes a Volcanion EX for a KO at the very least, putting you ahead in the prize exchange and wiping 3 energy off of the opponent’s board. Between Hex Maniac and constant OHKO threats, you can push through to a win even with Garbodor in the discard.
Gyarados: There are four key pieces to this matchup: Hoopa STS, Garbodor, Stadiums, and N. Hoopa STS is not only great for your prize exchange, but it’s also sorely taxing on your opponent’s resources, forcing significant investment into recovery every time you announce “Hyperspace Punch.” Garbodor prevents Octillery fueled lists from continuously hitting resources, shuts down Mr. Mime to expose Karps to Hoopa, and keeps your M Mewtwos live against variants with Klefki. Winning the stadium war against Gyarados means winning the game against Gyarados. All three of the previous pieces play hand-in-hand with N. The most exploitable weakness with Gyarados is the deck’s constant thirst for resources–it needs more cards from the hand than any deck. A late game N after Gyarados goes up on prizes can make a recovery effort steep, to say the least, and M Mewtwo has a wealth of tools to mount a comeback.
Rainbow Road and Mega Rayquaza: These matchups are grouped together because they play out very similarly. The general strategy is to establish Garbodor over the first few turns. Shortly thereafter, aim to limit the opposing bench to 3 with Parallel, drop an N, and KO their active. Both decks are going to establish a prize lead in the first couple turns, making N particularly effective. Usually, by the end of this process, Mega Rayquaza has lost its ability to win the game due to an extreme need for resources and no way to recover them. Rainbow Road, alternatively, is much more resilient. In regards to differences between the matchups, targeting Rainbow Road’s energy needs to be a priority, as Rainbow Force is constantly threatening a KO on anything. If you can continuously deprive their board of attackers, your game becomes much easier. These matchups usually come down to how you and your opponent draw off of late game N’s, with Rainbow Road having a far superior ability to recover under ability lock.
With all that, thank you for reading! I aim to write more regularly for The Charizard Lounge in the 2016-2017 season as I plan on taking the game more seriously. I hope that you will enjoy reading my content as much as the other writers for the site. Any feedback or questions are more than welcome, and anyone can feel free to message me on Facebook if they want an in-depth discussion or answer. I look forward to writing for you all again!