In the Expanded format one of the most beloved, hated, and feared classification of decks is what is known as the Battle Compressor Decks. These are a set of decks that use Battle Compressor to put Pokemon in the discard pile to power up various attacks that do more damage for each Pokemon that is in the discard pile.
The most popular of these decks, in order, are Night March, Vespiquen/Flareon, and Vespiquen/Vileplume. That last one you won’t have to worry about any more as the Forest of Giant Plants ban makes it a defunct deck.
The other two are in an interesting spot as we head into the 2017-2018. Both of these Expanded decks have received some new toys to try out from the last two set releases, Guardians Rising and Burning Shadows. The last Expanded Regional Championship was played in the BLW-SUM format, so with two new set releases and a ban list things are certainly going to be shaken up in the Expanded format.
In this article I share my current decklists for both Night March/Marshadow and Vespiquen/Flareon, go over some of the new additions or personal tech that I play in my lists, and then wrap it up with a discussion of their place in the meta.
For the most part, Night March doesn’t change a whole lot from the lists that we saw perform well in St. Louis. My current list for Night March is largely based on what I thought were the best ideas from John Sienkiewicz’s list and Peter Kica’s list that they used at the St. Louis Regional Championship, mixed together with some of the new options that the deck gained from the last two sets.
Pokemon – 19
Trainers – 37
Energy – 4
Marshadow GX/Focus Sash
The big new addition to Night March is Marshadow GX, whose Shadow Hunt Ability lets you use the attacks of one of the Pokemon in your discard pile as its own, as long as you have the proper Energy to use that attack. This of course allows Marshadow GX to copy the Night March attack from a Joltik that is in your discard pile.
Here are four benefits that come from playing Marshadow GX in Night March:
- Allows you to attack without a Night March Pokemon on the field, allowing you to hit for higher damage with Night March.
- Lets Night March hit for a third Weakness, Fighting type.
- Adds a bulkier attacker to the deck.
- Opens up prize denial with Focus Sash.
With Marshadow GX, the deck is now able to hit for a maximum of 240 damage with Night March when all 12 Night March Pokemon are in the discard pile. This can be a useful damage amount to be able to hit with Night March against some of the higher HP Pokemon such as Mega Pokemon or Evolved GX Pokemon. Sometimes, even against typical EX decks it can be useful for knocking out a Pokemon with Fighting Fury Belt attached, although Field Blower also works well at playing around Fighting Fury Belt.
As Marshadow GX is Fighting type, Night March decks now add Fighting type Weakness to the deck. The two matchups where this is going to be most important as far as the actual existing meta game is concerned are against Turbo Darkrai EX decks and Yveltal EX decks.
Against Turbo Darkrai decks, Marshadow GX gives you a little more stability for knocking out Pokemon in the early game. With Marshadow in the fold, you will hit almost everything in a typical Turbo Darkrai list for Weakness – Both Darkrai EX with Marshadow GX, Yveltal EX, Yveltal XY, and Shaymin EX with Joltik, and Hoopa EX with Mew or Pumpkaboo. Some lists do play Jirachi EX, which you don’t hit for Weakness, but it only has 90 HP, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to take down either.
In the past, the go to tactic for Yveltal EX decks was to power up Darkrai EX DEX with a Fighting Fury Belt and use Night Spear to try to pull ahead in the prize trade. Now with Marshadow GX being able to easily knock this out, Yveltal EX decks may need to come up with new techniques for winning this matchup.
An argument against Marshadow GX for Night March is that it gives up two prizes, while something like a Joltik only gives up a single prize. Therefore, if the Marshadow GX is knocked out immediately after it attacks, it will be an even prize trade. While this is true, especially against the decks you hit for Weakness, Marshadow GX could be used to take a knockout you may have otherwise fallen short of if you weren’t hitting for Weakness, so keeping the prize trade even can be good for you, as it is better than falling behind in the prize trade by failing to take a knockout.
Additionally, there is no guarantee that Marshadow GX even gets knocked out. If you attach Fighting Fury Belt to it, its HP jumps up to 190 HP, which is far higher than anything that Night March has had available to it in the past. (Among Pokemon that can use the Night March attack)
You can also use Focus Sash to outright deny your opponent knockouts which they had the damage for. There are lots of ways that this can be played around in Expanded – Hypnotoxic Laser, Field Blower, Crobat, Xerosic among others, but sometimes your opponent will whiff on their resource to play around it allowing you to gain an advantage in the prize trade through it. Sometimes your opponent won’t even have an out to Focus Sash in their decks, making it work 100% of the time against these decks. If you plan your Marshadow GX/Focus Sash combo for late in the game and pair it with an N, you greatly decrease the probability of your opponent having whatever counter they need.
I think a single copy of Marshadow GX is the correct play. It gives you the option to use it, but doesn’t make it an emphasis of the deck. This helps keep the focus on the non-EX prize trading aspect of Night March, while also giving it the option to use Marshadow GX and take advantage of the benefits it brings to the deck.
2 Guzma/2 Mew FCO
In the past, Night March lists have oscillated between playing 1-2 Lysandre. I’ve generally favored having two gust effects in Battle Compressor decks myself, and I think Guzma provides a solid opportunity for Night March to never drop below two gust effects again by giving us a gust effect that also provides a switching effect, which makes it so you can use Guzma as a secondary switching effect beyond Escape Rope over cards like AZ and Float Stone.
With two Mew FCO in the deck, in most game situations there should be a Pokemon with free retreat to switch into with Guzma, making it so you very rarely will find it detrimental to have Guzma in the deck instead of Lysandre.
I think it’s important for any deck that can play Guzma to play it as it opens up more different plays for a deck than Lysandre does, giving you more opportunities to use it in skillful ways to positively impact your games.
1 Parallel City
The last Night March deck that I played in a tournament was Night March/Vespiquen for the 2016 US National Championship and in my list for that I played a single copy of Parallel City. At the St. Louis Regional, John also played the 1-of Parallel City in his Top 4 Night March list, something I was very excited to see.
I think Parallel City is one of the most underrated cards for Night March decks and helps aide Night March in the prize trade by clearing its bench of potential two prize knockouts in Shaymin EX’s.
Joltik, Mew (with Joltik in play), and Marshadow GX can all use the Night March attack with Parallel City in play. Pumpkaboo is the only one of your Night March attackers that needs Dimension Valley in play, so you will need to setup attacking with Parallel City in play around not using Pumpkaboo.
Here are a list of cards that I had tested in the deck, but which ended up being taken out of it before I arrived to my current list for the deck.
- Giratina XY184 – I originally put this in the deck after seeing that Akira Ikehara had it in their Top 4 list from the Japan Championship but quickly found it not to do much to flip the matchup against Trevenant decks. If they go first, it can be difficult to even find the Giratina as you can’t search it because of the Item Lock. Necrozma GX makes it extremely easy for Trevenant BREAK to close out games quickly. After a single Silent Fear, any Shaymin EX that you had to bench can be knocked out by Necrozma’s Black Ray GX spread attack.
- Pokemon Ranger – I don’t expect Giratina EX or Jolteon EX to be popular inclusions moving forward, so I think this card can be faded out of lists right now. It is an out to Quaking Punch, but most Seismitoad EX lists I’ve seen recently have been playing Karen, which makes it difficult to use Pokemon Ranger for good effect against them. I think against Seismitoad EX your best bet is to try to rush them down with early knockouts, and then use Tauros GX and Marshadow GX to deal with Seismitoad EX in the mid and late games.
- Tapu Lele GX – I originally tried this in the deck, but found it to be lackluster. Finding Supporter outs typically isn’t difficult, the tough part is finding enough Battle Compressors to do the damage you want or the Energy you need to attack. This puts a premium on extra draw over finding a Supporter card, which makes going exclusively with Shaymin EX the better option.
- Target Whistle – This has always felt like a card that never greatly shifted many matchups for Night March for me, but instead just provided a means for Night March to take flashy knockouts.
The general deck core of Vespiquen/Flareon hasn’t changed. The deck’s general construction is the same as it was during the 2015-2016 season, just with the tech Pokemon that are included being changed from format to format.
The biggest change for the deck as of late is the being able to remove Wobbuffet PHF from the deck, as Archeops is banned, so you no longer need a counter to it. This opened up a couple of extra spots to use for new tech Pokemon.
Pokemon – 29
Trainers – 24
2 Tropical Beach
Energy – 7
Blacksmith + 3 Fire Energy
This is one of the more debatable parts of the deck, but recently I have found myself favoring the Blacksmith build for this deck instead of the Special Charge variant, which at one time I had considered to be the way to go with the deck. I think both builds of the deck are viable, as Gregory Fortier was able to make Day 2 in St. Louis with the Blacksmith variant, while Caleb Gedemer was able to make Day 2 in Toronto with the Special Charge variant.
Here are some of the strengths of the Blacksmith variant.
- Allows you to convert a VS Seeker into a powered up attacker.
- Gives you extra Energy for your deck to retreat Pokemon with.
- Lets you use Eevee’s Energy Evolution Ability.
- Puts your Aegislash EX and Giratina EX counters into a single card.
Being able to convert a VS Seeker into a powered up Flareon once I have two Fire Energy in the discard pile is the biggest draw to this build for me. I found this much easier to keep a flow of attackers going with than the Special Charge version where you’re constantly needing to chase down that DCE to attack.
Having the extra Energy in deck to retreat with can be helpful, although it’s actually a little less helpful now that Wobbuffet is no longer needed in the deck. In the past you would typically want to retreat into Wobbuffet on turn 1, so having these extra Energy in the deck made it easier to do that. It can still be useful for those games where you start Unown or Exeggcute, however.
On turns when you can attach a Fire, such as turn 1, it can be used to search out a Flareon with Eevee’s Energy Evolution Ability, adding a little bit of consistency to the deck. It’s very rare, but I’ve donked some low HP Pokemon going second by using Energy Evolution to evolve into Flareon on my first turn of the game and then using Blacksmith to fully power it up and using Vengeance or Heat Tackle for a turn 1 knockout.
If you play the Special Charge variant of the deck, you will need a two card combo for countering Aegislash EX or Giratina EX. For Aegislash EX you need Hex Maniac and Double Colorless Energy, while for Giratina EX you need Pokemon Ranger and Double Colorless Energy. With Blacksmith, you can power up a Flareon with Basic Fire Energy from your discard pile to counter these Pokemon.
As you play a free retreat Pokemon with Vespiquen, as well as Float Stone, there is rarely a situation where Guzma is detrimental to you, so it makes sense to play this in here instead of Lysandre. Playing Guzma instead of Lysandre in this deck allows us to safely play some higher retreat Pokemon without having to worry about them getting stuck Active.
The combination of Guzma, along with no longer playing Wobbuffet makes it so this deck has less of a need for Float Stone, so I think you can cut down to 1 in here. I still like being able to put Float Stone on my Machoke, so I still play a single copy, but cutting the single copy of Float Stone for a Field Blower or Choice Band is another option for the deck.
2-2 Machoke GRI/1 Giratina XY184
Machoke is by far the most important counter. Its Daunting Pose Ability prevents Trevenant BREAK from being able to spread damage to your benched Pokemon. Trevenant BREAK spreading 30 damage to all of your Pokemon ranging from 40-100 HP, that’s problematic. Trevenant BREAK doing Silent Fear for 30 to only your Active Pokemon, that’s pretty easy to deal with.
As good as Machoke is on its own, I still like Giratina in here. This gives us a card we can find that lets us search out our Machoke, as well as a card that lets us break the lock, allowing us to play our Battle Compressor to ramp up our damage output.
Both of these card also are useful against Greninja BREAK. Giratina outright shuts off Greninja BREAK’s Giant Water Shuriken Ability, as long as the Greninja player doesn’t have Silent Lab in play, while Machoke at least prevents them from using Giant Water Shuriken against your benched Pokemon, even if they do have Silent Lab in play.
1 Computer Search
I think the consistency that Computer Search provides to this deck, letting it search out Double Colorless Energy or Tropical Beach, among anything else you need makes it the best Ace Spec for this deck. I don’t think this deck can consistently overcome Karen, so it’s not worth playing Dowsing Machine to try to get back a Battle Compressor to try to beat Karen decks.
If I were to stray from Computer Search, I would go with Life Dew to try to deny prizes from my opponent when they take a knockout. I think this is too easily played around right now, so it doesn’t give the deck enough value to play over Computer Search.
Battle Compressor Decks and the Meta
It could be said that the two Battle Compressor decks are better than ever. With that said, you can say this about any Expanded deck that hasn’t suffered from a key card being banned. All decks in Expanded improve in a vacuum as time moves forward, as the release of new cards adds new options or improvements to decks. However, relative to the meta game, I am not so optimistic about either of these two decks’ place in the meta at the beginning of the season.
The biggest issue for Night March is the prevalence of Item lock decks towards the end of the BLW-SUM format. While many of these have left the format, decks like Seismitoad EX/Giratina EX and Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF will continue to see play after their success in Toronto. The Item Lock on its own is strong against Night March, but Seismitoad EX players, such as Igor Costa with his Toronto Toad/Tina list, are even playing Karen in their Toad lists.
There should be even more Seismitoad EX to start the season too, as it gained Acerola and Aqua Patch, two power cards that it can combo well with, which could lead to even more Toad archetypes developing and being played this season.
Most Night March lists have Tauros GX, which can win you some games against Seismitoad EX, but especially against the disruption based Seismitoad EX builds, Tauros GX often isn’t enough.
Seismitoad EX isn’t the only Item Lock deck getting hype. Trevenant BREAK has a lot of renewed interest because of the release of Necrozma GX, which makes it much easier for Trevenant BREAK to beat some of the EX decks that had previously given it lots of trouble.
With so much new hype around Night March because of the release of Marshadow GX, many players have started including Karen in their lists. Right now is probably the period in human history with the greatest percentage of Pokemon players putting Karen in their lists. If I were to sit down to a random match at the Fort Wayne Regional, I would go into the match with the assumption that my opponent has Karen in their list.
From the games I’ve played with Night March since Karen has been released, I don’t think Karen is super effective against Night March decks, unless it is also played alongside some form of Item Lock. It’s too easy for Night March to ramp up its damage output by getting back Battle Compressors with Puzzle of Time and Dowsing Machine. With Special Charge in modern Night March lists, players can use their Puzzles to get back Battle Compressors, and then use Special Charge to make sure they have enough Energy to attack for the entirety of a game.
This isn’t to say Karen will never be effective against Night March without Item Lock, it can be, but it should also be recognized how easy it is for Night March to get Battle Compressors back and re-dump Pokemon into the discard pile.
Even though Karen was put into lists primarily for Night March, it actually does a lot more damage to Vespiquen/Flareon decks. Vespiquen/Flareon doesn’t have Puzzle of Time to get back Battle Compressors, making it nearly impossible for Vespiquen/Flareon to successfully ramp its damage back up after a Karen or two are played.
Interestingly enough, Vespiquen/Flareon has a strong matchup against most of the decks that give Night March trouble – that is, Trevenant BREAK, Primal Groudon EX, and Seismitoad EX variants.
However, Vespiquen/Flareon has a difficult time beating decks like M Rayquaza EX, M Gardevoir EX, Volcanion EX, Yveltal EX or Turbo Darkrai EX after it gets hit with a Karen by them. With most of the non-Item lock power decks playing Karen, I consider Vespiquen/Flareon non-viable for Fort Wayne.
I’m a little more hopeful for Night March, as it can get back its Battle Compressor to ramp back up its damage output, but the meta still is pretty hostile towards it. While Night March can overcome Karen against non-Item lock decks most of the time, sometimes against these decks, especially one like Volcanion EX that can attack with a non-EX, it sometimes falters.
With Karen being played in so many lists along with there being other negative meta presences for these decks beyond Karen, I am going to avoid playing either of these decks for the time being, I don’t think either of them will be strong plays for Fort Wayne. Both decks are inherently strong, however, and if Karen starts seeing less play, or some other meta shifts occur, I think both of these decks can be very successful in future, I just don’t think the time for it is now.