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William Hung

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Yu Yu Hakusho
Harry Potter
Vs. System

William Hung on Pokemon
Road to State Championships - Part IV
March 3, 2006

Hello trainers,
This will be the final article for "Road to State Championships" series, and I would like to reevaluate the top decks/contenders, discuss them in more detail (looking at their actual popularities, consistency, etc.) and discuss some miscellaneous topics that I believe are helpful to all of you, but can't seem to fit them into a particular category.
As a reminder, if you don't know what the cards do, please check the card spoilers, the Card of the Day's, and anything else that may help you.
Top Decks/Contenders:
These are my new top 5 decks, after some serious re-evaluations and playtesting -
1)  Blastoise ex/Steelix ex/Lugia ex (BSL):  I

still conclude this as the best deck with the best chance of winning heading into State Championships.  You can control your own destiny by just setting up and blast away.  However, for this deck and rest of the decks in this discussion, here are some of the factors I will evaluate:

Cost: Very High!  It costs you $150-$200 to build this deck.  Even though this is a great deck, I don't think it will be the equivalent to the days of the good old Feraligatr (Riptide), and Blaziken (Firestarter) + Blaziken ex decks.  Nevertheless, it has very few bad matchups (if any), and so no matter what you face, you are in good shape.  Just make sure your deck doesn't betray you. (i.e. bad starts)
Popularity: High - although the high cost of this deck will be a major factor to consider.  BSL was a rogue deck (just an experimental deck) not too long ago, and now all of a sudden Lugia ex are $45-50 each, Blastoise ex are $20 each (on ebay).
Difficulty to use: Low - You still have to know what Pokemon is most valuable to your opponent at any given time to use Avalanche properly, but overall, it's really simple.
One more thing - If this is indeed the best deck (will have to wait after States to find out), then I don't think this is the best deck after Holon Phantom comes out in May.  I also believe that people will be quite ready for it (States and Regionals), and choose their decks accordingly.  For instance, Rock Lock has a very good chance beating BSL.  Nevertheless, if you want to win State Championships and Regionals, I think your investment will be well rewarded.
2)  Nidoqueen/Milotic/Pidgeot, aka Queendom: 

This deck will inevitably run into problems against BSL, but you'll be able to handle some of the other top decks with ease, such as Rock Lock, Medicham ex/Espeon ex, and DragTrode (Dark Dragonite/Dark Electrode).  I think Queendom has a good chance against most of the other decks (such as ZRE, Scizor ex/Metagross), but it's just not the best deck.  It's one of the best, but not the best.

Cost: Low - Just buy all the stuff you need.  Using ebay is fine too.  If you're a fairly new player, and need a very competitive deck right off the hat, this is your best shot.  Buy the uncommons and commons from other players, trainers as well.  Very economical - definitely within a $40-50 budget.
Popularity: Average - You have to figure out what other players are up to in your region.  It's not very popular in CA (that's where I live), but don't take it for granted - this deck is a serious threat for anyone not ready for it.
Difficulty to play:  Average - You will need to pay attention to details.  Depending on your match-up, every 10 damge counts.
3)  Rock Lock:  This deck can compete against almost all the other top decks, but has serious problems against Medicham ex/Espeon ex, Machamp (Legend Maker), and any deck that can totally shut-down Poke-Powers.  Even if Rock Lock has many variations, it really needs something to find all the pieces of the puzzle to win the game (Magcargo/Pidgeot).  For instance, if you run Dark Ampharos/Dark TTar you'll probably need 1 complete line of evolution, and the other would be something like Mareep, Rare Candy, Dark Ampharos.  After that, you need to continue to use Magcargo/Pidgeot to search for ATM [Rock], gyms, Energies, and everything else as needed.
Cost: Low - Very affordable, and easy to put together.  Again, you can definitely build this deck within a $40-$50 budget.
Popularity: Average to High - I expect Rock Lock to be played just about every State Championships, because it can definitely keep up with BSL toe to toe.
Difficulty to play:  Very High - it's one of the toughest decks to play optimally.  You need to playtest against the other decks a lot.  It's easy to make one costly mistake during every game, but having a plan ahead of time against your most probable match-ups help a lot.
4)  Medicham ex/Espeon ex:  It can beat many "2nd Tier" decks and many rogue decks, and thus it stands at #4.  Being able to shut down all non-ex Poke-Powers is devastating to your opponent, and you can use POW! Hand Extension to lock out your opponent's attack options for quite a while, and Pure Power them until they are KOed, one by one.
Cost: Average - Not ridiculous, but still expensive.  Nevertheless, we're talking about 2 Espeon ex, 1 Umbreon ex, 3 Medicham ex.  So you're definitely spending $100+ if you want to build this deck.
Popularity: High - I am saying this with respect to the CA metagame.  But it doesn't matter where your State Championship is.  This is a deck you should expect to face at least once or twice during the tournament.
Difficulty to play - Average - It's straightforward overall, but you need to make good use with the POW! Hand Extension.  Sometimes you need to POW! the energies, not the opponent's Pokemon.
5)  Typhlosion/Weezing:  This deck can handle just about anything, because this deck has the ability to One-Hit KO.  It combines the Poke-Body from Typhlosion's (Emerald) Burning Aura, placing 1 damage counter for both your Active and opponent's Active Pokemon at the end of each player's turn, and Weezing's Liability attack, usually knocking out itself, leaving your opponent's Pokemon with 10 HP, then placing Typhlosion as Active to KO.  Once Typhlosion has a decent number of damage counters (5+), you can play Energy Root to stop inflicting damage to yourself, because you can basically One-Hit KO your opponent's Pokemon.
Cost: Low - This is one of the most economical decks you can build.  A lot of players in CA will be playing this deck.
Popularity: Very High - You're also very likely to battle against this deck at your State Championships.  Also, don't be surprised if 1 or 2 of these make top cuts.
Difficulty to play - Average - The concept is simple, but making the most of Energy Root and your Weezings will be the difference between winning and losing.  Also, try to get Pidgeot out early so you can keep up with your opponent and eventually seize the advantage (and the game).
There are many, many possibilities.  I'm not saying to stick to archetypes.  Decks such as Ludicargo, Scizor ex/Metagross, Dark Slowking all have potential.  In all honesty, use my top 5 decks as a guide only, in terms of preparing for States, and playtesting, and deciding on the deck you would like to play.
O)  Objective:  If I haven't stated this before, then I will do so now.  The objective of my articles are to point players in the right direction towards winning.  My articles are written with assumptions that you know the game mechanics, and most of the current rulings on the cards legal within the Modified format.
But I'll continue to do my best to describe the card rulings and other nitty-gritty as needed.
X)  Psychology:  Because I've played many trading card games, I've developed a proper persective in terms of winning and losing.  Let's face it - just about all of us wants to win, losing hurts.  Losing hurts your self-esteem and confidence.  I've lost a lot of crucial games when it counts the most - Super Trainer Showdown, Regionals, Nationals, and World Championships.  Many of you have been through that as well - because you are playing against the best of the best, and with card games, luck is inevitable.  Or perhaps, since we're very human, we've made a bad play or two that costs us dearly.
All we can do is to choose the deck that gives us the best chance of winning, make optimal in-game decisions, and hope for the best.  Good luck in your State Championships!  I will look forward to all of your State Championship success stories.
William Hung


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