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Underground Card Laboratory
Pokemon TCG US Nationals 2006
Greater Columbus Convention Center
July 1, 2006
312 in age 15+, over 500 players overall
This is the biggest tournament I've played for a long time. This is also going to be one of the most longest and detailed report I'll write as well. So here we go, and I'll divide it into several sections:
I knew I am in for a tough ride, because many of our expectations are very high. I actually been pretty quiet in terms of communicating with other players, and I've just playtested a bunch of popular decks - like LBS, Lunarock, Mynx, Flariados, and Dragtrode.
I played in the Modified tournament the night before, and the decks that I saw quite a bit were LBS, Lunarock, Dragtrode, and Ludi. I obviously missed lots of the other decks, but I knew that Mynx or Mewtric will be played in the actual "main event".
I've heard about the secret deck, but no one will tell me about it. I figured that except for Mynx, I can beat just about anything with Flariados. I know I need some luck, but I think I really just need to play smart, and don't make mistakes.
Before I get into my Flariados deck, I would like to really talk about the deck Mynx. If you already know Mynx well, you can skip down a bit. It contains so many different Pokemon and appears so random that it's worth breaking it down. Here is a sample decklist:
4x Holon's Magnemite
4x Holon's Voltorb
4x Holon's Castform
3x Mew ex (Legend Maker)
1x Mew ex (Holon Phantom)
1x Unown E
1x Unown I
1x Lapras (Legend Maker)
2x Minun (Deoxys)
4x Swoop! Teleporter
4x Holon Transceiver
4x Holon Mentor
2x Holon Adventurer
4x Rocket's Admin
4x Battle Frontier
4x Pokemon Retreiver
4x POW! Hand Extension
All right, the strategy is to use Mew ex from Legend Maker to control the game. With its Poke-Body Versatile you can use any attack on the field, and you notice that there is something good to do for 1 Energy, 2 Energy, and 3 Energy.
At 1 Energy, you can use Roselia's Flick Poison, use Unown E's Hidden Power to force your opponent to put an undesirable Pokemon into Active position, or Sniff Out for a card you need - most likely POW! Hand Extension.
At 2 Energies, you can use Unown I's Hidden Power to Burn and Confuse a Pokemon you like, use any other 1 Energy cost attacks, or copy opponent's 2 Energy cost attacks if they're game-breaking.
At 3 Energies, you usually just Pure Power. Because Jynx's Pure Power spreading 4 damage counters in any way you like is simply too powerful.
Let me tell you the ideal set up. The ideal army is Mew ex (Legend Maker) Active, Roselia or Unown, Mew ex (Holon Phantom), 2x Wyanut-Wobbuffet, and a Jynx. It's not so hard, isn't it?
You just keep some Pokemon that has either high Retreat cost, or high Attack cost, and you can Pure Power all the way to a win.
Now with that out of the way, it's time to get into my Flariados deck. The reason I chose Flariados, even though it is a high-risk deck, is because in a big tournament, I have an all or nothing philosophy. If I get to top 32, I need to have a legit chance in winning it all. My mindset cannot be playing for top 8 (which is the gurantee for an invite to Worlds 06), because if I want to get to top 8, I better have a deck that can handle just about everything.
I learned a lot about my Flariados from the Arizona Gym Challenge. I tweaked it a bit, and I am certain it's for the better:
4x Spinarak (UF)
4x Ariados (UF)
4x Eevee (DS)
3x Flareon ex
1x Espeon ex
1x Corphish (DX)
1x Crawdaunt ex
2x Holon's Magneton
4x Mary's Request
3x Rocket's Admin
3x Steven's Advice
4x Energy Removal 2
4x Super Scoop Up
2x Prof. Elm's Training Method
2x Great Ball
2x Master Ball
4x Battle Frontier
2x Full Flame
I took out Lapras and Dual Ball because I want to cut the flipping a bit, and starting with Lapras alone is simply a disaster. I don't want to give games away like that. Master Ball is a nice addition to the deck. 2 is a perfect number, because this means I can use it mid-game effectively, and still play another important Supporter, like Steven's or Rocket's Admin.
I also went with 2 Full Flame, cut the 1 Scott, because Scott isn't too useful.
I thought about cutting Crawdaunt ex, but by keeping it there, even if my opponent may know that I play it, forces them to Bench their Pokemon carefully, and not fill up their Bench at will. This is good because I can Spider Trap more effectively.
III) Actual Tournament Report
9 rounds, cut to top 32.
Round 1: vs. Colton (Pidgeot/Claydol - Psychic Trace/Crawdaunt ex)
The reason I know his deck is because I played against it the night before and lost. I got a really good starting hand. Although I start with Corphish with Exoskeleton, I have 2 Great Balls, Battle Frontier, Full Flame, and Rocket's Admin. Unfortunately, he went first and pulled out a spectacular Turn 1 Pidgeot, Boost Energy, and Strength Charm. Wow! Tough loss to swallow, as if I went first, I probably could beat his deck.
Loss 0-1 0pts.
I walked around the outer tables, and saw all kinds of decks. This is a good sign for my Flariados.
Round 2: vs. Jesse (Shedinja, Ninjask, Pidgeot)
He got a really bad start, and had many chances to lose on Burn Flips. He survived like all 3-4 Burn Flips. Yikes. I got a slow start myself, but eventually got settled in, use my Flareon's Poke-Power aggressively, drew prizes fast one after another. When time was called, it was 1-5 in my favor. Sorry man.
Win 1-1 3pts.
Lunch break. Only about 35 minutes left, because we decided to play it out and I would have lost! Oh well, took in some junk food (sorry hamburgers/hot dogs qualify), and on to Round 3.
Round 3: vs. Pidgeot/Pidgeot d/Kingdra d/Kingdra/Mew ex
Well he plays a cool-looking deck, and we both got awful energy droughts. After 5-6 turns though, I finally got an Ariados on my Bench going, but he made a great play on my Espeon ex after I Devo Flash his Rare Candied Kingdra d on the Bench. He use Corner with his Pidgeot, so his Mew ex could get an easy KO next turn. However, I made quick work of his Mew ex, because I use the Flareon ex to give his Mew ex 2 Special Conditions (Burn and Confuse), and Reactive Poison for 70 damage. He flipped TAILS on Burn Check and game is tied in prizes 4-4.
Then I continue to work on his Kingdras, got a KO on some random worthless Pokemon, and won the game on time because I was ahead in prizes 2-3 in my favor.
What I did was I put him to the test. Because he used up at least 2 early Switch cards, and I damaged his Kingdra d severely, at 90 damage, I decided to not KO it, let the Poison from Spider Trap put 1 more damage counter to go to 100 at the end of my turn. This forces him to either have a 3rd Switch card or something like Mr. Briney's Compassion. With time winding down, and I am ahead by 1 prize, I gladly take this chance, as I figure at worst I'll be tied at prizes 2-2, and could still use the Flareon ex's Poke-Power to cripple his Active Kingdra to win in Sudden Death.
Win 2-1 6pts.
Round 4: vs. Espycham
I was dominating this game from the get-go. He made it tough in several occasions, using 3 Rocket's Admin very early on. However, his Rocket's Admin helped me more than he hurts me, and when I grabbed 5 out of the 6 prizes, and he can't Rocket's Admin, it's game over. The ER 2's and Pokemon Reversals didn't play too big a role in this game.
Win 3-1 9pts.
Round 5: vs. Seena - Mewtric
He got a bad start. Lone Electrike with no Energies and had to go first - ouch! I took advantage of this and pretty much controlled the game and tempo, until I made a horrible play that almost gave away the game. He started mounting a little bit of a comeback, however, the only Pokemon in play with Energies at all (1 Lightning and 1 Multi), was his Active Mew ex. With judges watching, and under time pressure to make a play (don't want to get accused of stalling), I Spider Trap the wrong guy! I Spider Trap the other Mew ex on the Bench. If he flip HEADS on Sleep Check, I am in serious trouble. He flips...TAILS. Whew, yes! He couldn't find a Switch card, and I won the game by KOing his Mew ex for the last prize.
Win 4-1 12pts.
I won the game against a GREAT player, but I can't be please with the way I played. I had Flareon ex charged up ready to go, so the correct play is to Spider Trap his Active Mew ex. Because this way, if he doesn't retreat his Active Mew ex, he'll have 2 damage counters due to Poison, and I can KO with Heat Tackle the next turn. This will force him to get lucky on Spider Trap or some other attack other than Disconnect. I was really lucky.
Round 6: vs. Mike P. - Mynx
His version included Smoochum and Stantler. Stanler was excellent. This allows him to get rid of any key card on my hand he wants, combined with Mew ex's Poke-Power Psychic Vision from Holon Phantoms. I should have known better. I didn't know Stantler was part of his Mynx deck, and I went on to take the 1st prize with my Ariados. Then I made another mistake when he Swoop! for Smoochum and evolved to Jynx. I did the 1st 30 damage with Espeon ex, but I got too cute and did 30 damage to the Mew ex LM on the Bench. Knowing that I can't Spider Trap Wobbuffet and win the game without KOing the evolved Jynx, I need to focus on KO on Jynx and Jynx only.
But the whole match was lost, because I got way too aggressive in drawing my 1st prize card. In order to beat Mynx, I need to let my opponent draw the 1st prize cards (if possible) or keep focusing Spider Trap on Wobbuffet. I understand the reasoning behind going straight after Mew ex's, but if they wake up, you're in serious trouble. So why leave it to 50/50 chance, when you can Spider Trap Wobbuffet, they take 10 poison damage at the end of your turn, 10 more at the end of your opponent's turn, 40 damage from Reactive Poison, 10 more damage at the end of your next turn. This forces your opponent into a lose-lose situation. They either have to invest 2 Energies to retreat (because I haven't seen a Mynx run a lot of Switch cards), or have their Wobbuffet KO'd in between turns, and whatever they bring up you can easily KO with your Flareon ex's Poke-Power. 70 damage + Burn Check is plenty of damage against a Mynx deck. This is easily a 2-3 prize swing in your favor. In a 30 minute match, if you can pull off that sequence that I just mentioned, and KO a Mew ex, that's tough for your opponent to come back, as you'll be ahead by 4-5 prizes.
I would Spider Trap Wobbuffet every chance I get. However, since I got early prize lead on my opponent, he was able to POW! Hand Extension my Flareon ex, and rip me apart without a chance for me to do anything.
Loss 4-2 12pts.
Extremely frustrating loss. I know that an early KO on Stantler cost me the game. But it's hard to figure out Stantler was part of his Mynx deck. I can't think too much about this match anymore. I need to refocus so I can play my best next round. I figure that unless I am extremely lucky (yeah, right...), I need to win my last 3 matches in order to make Top 32.
Round 7: vs. Eric Nance - Metanite
Another great player. Yikes! But he did get a terrible start with 2 Dratini d's and little draw power. So as soon as I see a Holon Ruins, I countered with Full Flame. The game lasted 4 turns as I overpowered him with Flareon ex. Sorry.
Win 5-2 15pts.
Round 8: vs. Micheal Reynolds - LBS - Maryland Gym Challenge Winner
I think it'll come down to early flips, but I think if he has to flip 3-4 HEADS early on, then I'll take my chances. Guess what? He did! He rolled 3 crucial HEADS early game, and I rolled 2 cruical TAILS on ER2's and Super Scoop Up. Wow! He rolled HEADS on Sleep Check on Squirtle twice and Pidgeot. I played it out, but I knew I had no shot. I made another strong play - I played Battle Frontier, and since he drew 3 prizes, I Rocket's Admin, and his 3 card hand, well, contains a Space Center. Sighs. Oh well, most likely time for me to go to "Grinders" at Worlds 2006.
Loss 5-3 15pts.
Well, there are 4 people with 6-3 records with the highest tiebreakers that can make it. However, I need the 6-2 people with the highest tiebreakers to win, and 5-3 people with the highest tiebreakers to lose. I think my chance of making top 32 was decent though, with a tiebreaker of 64%. But when I got paired vs. someone with only 51% tiebreaker, I knew that was trouble, and it's not my day.
Round 9: vs. Mike - LBS (different Mike)
I finally got some flips to go my way. The Burn Check was HUGE! But eventually, since he had little draw power, I got a Battle Frontier to stick, and focus on his Blastoise ex. I KO'd 2 of them, along with a Jirachi HL, and I Spider Trap Onix and finish the game in a dominating fashion.
When I Spider Trap and he couldn't find a Switch card, it is wonderful - because then I can use Flareon ex's Poke-Power to deal 100 damage Reactive Poison (Poison, Burn, Confuse).
Win 6-3 18pts.
I checked the standings and finished 35th. I kind of knew it, but again the people with highest tiebreakers didn't help me. As I said, I need the 6-2 people with the highest tiebreakers to win, and 5-3 people with the highest tiebreakers to lose. Time to head to Grinders in Anaheim, for 1 last shot at making Worlds 2006.
Thanks for reading my report. If you already have an invite to play at Worlds 2006, more power to you. It's a tough year, and I've had a tough season.
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