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MonsterOfTheLake's Lake

S/P/T Metagame
So, with the first States Day™ out of the way, we can now enter a discussion about the current metagame without making wild predictions about AmphyPalkiaToxicroakwithHoundoomGTeCHomgsogood.dec being THE deck for States or hyping up the new Aggro-Kirlia deck that will totally destroy all those Kingdras, and instead have actual data (in actual tournament wins) backing up our observations. I'M A POKEMON PROFESSOR, AND I'M ABOUT TO DO SCIENCE!

Just to ensure we're all clear, and for the sake of newer players, let me elaborate on what metagame is: It simply defines what decks are being played by players in an environment. Used as a verb -- to metagame --, it would mean to *counter* the most popular decks in the metagame. Easy enough, no?

The SPT Logo
What a snappy logo
So here's the States'/Provincials'/Territories' metagame. Decks listed in no particular order.

Oh, and 56K beware!

Dialga G Deafen Lock (Dialga G)

After a lot of hype over Toxitank (Toxicroak G/Skuntank G) and Palkia G/Dialga G decks pre-SPT, turns out that not listening to people hyping decks is STILL a good idea, as Deafen Lock is the new hotness. How does it work? Relatively simple: Start with Dialga G, go second, attach Energy Gain and a Metal, and use Deafen.

"But it only does 10, and what's so good about a Trainer Lock?!" I hear you cry. And here'll be a list of cards that a T2 Deafen will stop you from playing, to put things into perspective, and why Deafen might very well be "the best attack in the game" (© Vincent Blasko, 2009):

  1. Rare Candy
  2. Counter-stadiums (meaning you'll probably get Poisoned by Skuntank G's Power every turn)
  3. Luxury Ball
  4. Level Max
  5. Team Galactic's Inventions
  6. Switch/Warp Point
So what happens when you, running your trusty Stage 2 Deck, run into a Deafen Lock? You can't use Rare Candy or play a Broken Time-Space to evolve your Pokémon. You can't Luxury Ball for your Stage 1 either. And if you're playing a G Deck, you can't attach an Energy Gain, slowing you down immensely. And if you're playing a Rampardos deck, and you didn't open with a Fossil, you can just scoop right now, as Deafen will stop you from laying down your Skull Fossils.

Deafen is immensely powerful, and as harmful to the opponent's setup as a Power lock. And we didn't even get into the rest of the deck yet: Toxicroak G to ruin your Machamp deck (which does brilliantly against Dialga G the card, as they won't have an Unown G attached, but rather an Energy Gain), Skuntank G to Poison whatever you bring up, as you can't counter the Stadium in play, and Poké Turns and Power Sprays to provide healing and Power denial.

On the plus side, the entire deck has 2x Weaknesses, save for the Uxies, so you could try to abuse that. Assuming you're able to set up without using Trainers and Powers.

Kingdra Kingdra

And still with us all the way from Battle Roads and Cities is Kingdra! W for 60 and 20 to Bench is still ridiculously powerful, and Aqua Pump for a OHKO mid-to-lategame is the delicious, frosty icing on the cake.

While Kingdra is negatively affected by the newly ubiquitous Dialga G decks, it still stands that Kingdra two shots pretty much everything in the format for a single Energy. With Deafen lock, Kingdra now has to adapt, and run heavy recovery, such as 4 Cynthia's Feelings, and a Claydol line, to ensure that it can keep refueling itself to Dragon Pump for 60/20. Claydol is, as always, amazing, as while your Uxies can easily get Power Sprayed, a G Deck could hardly afford to Power Spray a Cosmic Power for four successive turns.

While the new Ampharos is a pain in the buttocks, it's just not a very good deck, and you shouldn't worry about facing it in top cut.

Kingdra is still one of the big boys, and you should expect to play against a few in a tournament.

Regigigas Lv.X Regigigas

Regigigas took a step forward and two steps backwards with the release of Platinum: it gained Dialga G Lv.X to finally have a hard counter to Mewtwo Lv.X, but the release of Power Spray cost Regigigas a lot in terms of draw power, as Uxies have "SPRAY ME!!!1" written all over them, and Gigas doesn't really run Claydols. The other step backwards is, naturally, Rampardos.

It still beats Kingdra, and an early Sacrifice means smooth sailing, but Dialga G Lv.X + Skuntank G spells an unstoppable Poison (well, it could still retreat, but who's going to pay the RC of 4?). A Gigas Lv.X active that has not yet Sacrificed or manually powered-up will be Poisoned and Deafened, stopping Sacrifice and Switch/Warp Point to get out of there.

It's still a good deck, as if it can manage to set up, it's a 150 HP Basic Lv.X that hits for 60-100 a turn, with some reasonable disruption. But Rampardos, while not a very good deck (Fossil-based decks do not win tournaments, as the support engine has never been good enough, all the way back to the days of the Fossil set), is out there, and it one shots an undamagedGigas Lv.X with a single Fighting. Ouch. Ampharos is also out there, and it also stops Sacrifice, if it can get some damage onto it, but all Regigigas decks should be running Dialga G Lv.X at this point anyway.

Machamp Machamp

Yes, Toxicroak G one shots it with a Lake Boundary if it's Poisoned (thanks, Skuntank G), Uxie hits it for 50 for a single Colorless, Unown G outright stops it. But it still has the ability to donk and win games T2.

It does stop Dialga G rather effectively, assuming it goes second, one shotting it with a single Fighting. But G decks will be running Toxicroak G, and Lake Boundary, and laughing at Machamp getting destroyed with the relatively easy to assemble combination of Toxicroak G, Psychic Energy, Skuntank G, Lake Boundary, and an Energy Gain.

On the plus side, people have scaled back their Unown G count, running 2 at most. And you can always pull off that lovely little donk, earning you many friends as you use up 30 seconds of a 40 minute Swiss round to finish the game. No, I'm not bitter >:[

Rampardos Rampardos

And here's to continue the trend of Fighting type Stage-2s that make the game a lot faster through their ability to do a billion damage for a single Fighting Energy, here's Rhydon Rhyperior Rampardos!

Now, let's face the facts: Fossil decks have been around for well over a decade, since the release of the Fossil set in the US in 1999. Other than Aerodactyl from that set, thrown into Haymaker decks for good measure, Fossil decks have never, ever, EVER won anything. It has always been ludicrously hard to get out the prerequisite Fossil card into play. Fossil Egg (Neo 2) and Strange Cave (Legend Maker) eased the getting-Fossil-evolution-into-play process, but they're no longer legal.

There's also a little problem mentioned earlier: Dialga G completely destroys this deck. Deafen stops Rampardos from playing Skull Fossils, or using Rare Candy. Unless you're running a fast backup attacker that could take out 3 Dialga Gs to break a Deafen lock, you're out of luck.

Rampardos is hard to get out, and frankly, not very good. But it does beat Gigas handily, and its donking ability will ensure that you're bound to face a few of these. Probably not in top cut, though.

Gengar Gengar

In possession of what is quite possibly the single most annoying Poké-Power in the history of the game, Gengar is still around, albeit not so popular. People don't play 3+ Unown G anymore, and thus Uxies are still easy prizes for Gengar. Gengar also gained Crobat G from Platinum, giving it more options on spreading damage.

Power Spray doesn't stop Fainting Spell, and G Decks are bound to have some Trainers in their hand, making Poltergeist quite powerful. Although Dialga G's Psychic resistance ought to be kept in mind when doing so. And Gengar being a Stage 2, the Deafen lock will make it a lot harder to get your creepy little ghost out.

Weavile G and Honchkrow G can abuse its weakness, and Skuntank G's Power can get around Fainting Spell, if Gengar has 10 left, and is killed knocked out through Poison damage.

It's mediocre, but played right, it could certainly do well at a SPT.

Dusknoir Dusknoir

It won billions of Cities, and people are playing less Unown G. So why not play it at States?

Dusknoir DP's Dark Palm Power is as powerful as ever, Dusknoir Lv.X's Stadium effect is still really, really annoying, and Night Spin is a nice counter to all the Kingdras, Rampardos', and Machamps, not to mention the G Pokémon abusing Energy Gain.

It definitely has a lot of positive aspects. However, it's still a bit slow, and Deafen lock slows it down even further.

It will win nowhere near as many SPTs as it had Cities, but it's still a good deck.

Expect to face Dusknoir at your local SPT. Or the one you drive 9 hours to and can't play in because you were 2 minutes late.

Abomasnow Obamatric

Our good yeti friend ObamaAbomasnow is still around, with its new pal from Platinum, Manectric.

Deafen lock doesn't quite affect Abomasnow as badly as it has the Stage 2 decks, as Snow Play costs just 2 Colorless, and it's a Stage 1, not in need of a Rare Candy to evolve early on.

There are no Water/Grass type G Pokémon, other than Palkia and Gyarados, of which the former should be Active and attacking and thus taking 20 regardless, and the latter being utter crap and probably going 2-4 anyway.

Meanwhile, Manectric gives the deck even further advantage against Kingdra, and hits virtually every single card that a Regigigas deck would have in play for 30 for a single Lightning. Not bad!

However, Dialga G Lv.X shuts it down handily.

The Bronzong variant, which was popular at Cities, seems dead and buried, and the Manectric version is so much better anyway, so we won't be mentioning the Bronzong variant. Other than in that sentence.

Ampharos Ampharos

Played mainly with Manectric, Ampharos is one of those decks that people really want to work, but just doesn't.

The pros are locking Powers with it. Other than coming-into-play Powers.

The cons are numerous: Horribad attacks, locking your own Powers, being a Stage 2, not stopping Uxie, which every single deck runs, and having the entire deck shut down by a single Dialga G Lv.X, a Basic Lv.X. Not to mention getting completely destroyed by Machamp and Rampardos.

All those said, you will STILL face this deck at SPTs. People will want to make it work, and they will delude themselves that it actually does work.

It doesn't.

Blastoise Blastcatty

Another newcomer to the format with the release of Platinum, Blastoise combos nicely with Delcatty to power itself up, like Regigigas Lv.X.

The idea here is simple: get Water Energy into discard, use Delcatty PT's power, then use Blastoise's Dig Well to dig a well, and attach those 2 Water Energies that you just put on top of your deck with Delcatty, and possibly a 3rd Water along with it, to your Pokémon.

Nice combo, no? Of course, there are downsides, such as Delcatty damaging itself when using its Power -- Blissey PT can be used to heal 20, and get Waters into discard --, and Blastoise not being able to use Double Launcher the following turn.

It's one of those decks that, on paper, should do really well. However, ideal conditions won't present themselves all the time. You'll get Deafen locked, your Wartortles will be prized, you won't be able to get Water Energy into discard, your Dig Well will be sprayed, and you might even get hit by a bus.

Will people play it? Yes, but you shouldn't expect to face more than 1 in a SPT.

Gardevoir Gardelade

Our old friend from last season is still around, and without Double Rainbows and Scrambles, it's having a hard time powering itself up.

So in comes Weavile SW, to provide Energy acceleration, offering a Darkness type conversion to get around Psychic/Fighting Resistance, and offering +10/+20 to Gardevoir/Gallade's damage outputs.

Another Energy acceleration used is Togekiss, but as we all know, Togekiss is bad, and should not be played. You'll Candy a Togekiss, try to Serene Grace, and get Power Sprayed, and then you cry and quit Pokémon.

Psychic Lock is still as effective as ever, and Gallade still one shots pretty much everything, but the deck isn't nearly as popular as it was last season, so don't expect to play against more than a few.

Palkia G Palkia G/Dialga G

A G variant that, instead of attacking with Dialga G, chooses to spread with Palkia G instead.

Pearl Breath, while sounding like a brand of Crest® toothpaste, is quite a nice attack: With an Energy Gain, it hits for 50, and spreads 10 to your opponent's Bench. Not bad at all.

It's backed up by Dialga G, and a Bronzong G can help the two share Energies, while the G-engine helps the deck even further.

This variant is really weak against Machamp, as it can ill afford to fit in Toxicroak G and Psychic Energies. Unown Gs will slow it down, unless you cheat and attach both the Unown G and Energy Gain to Palkia G and the judge says "I'll allow it," but are probably required here.

It's also horrendously weak to Pachirisu, as a Palkia with an Energy Gain will be hit for 80 for a single Colorless by Pachirisu, in addition to losing its Energy Gain. Ouch.

The deck is quite popular, and you should expect to face it at SPTs, so make sure you can beat it.

Toxicroak G Toxitank

Toxitank is the team of Toxicroak G and Skuntank G, aiming to pull off a rapid Poison + Deep Poison combination to do a lot of damage early on, hoping to get the god-hand of Toxicroak G, Skuntank G, Galactic HQ, Energy Gain, Psychic Energy, Power Spray, and an Uxie or Cyrus' Conspiracy.

However, the deck is utterly and completely shut down by Dialga G. Skuntank G's power won't Poison Dialga G, and Toxicroak will do no damage to Dialga G without it being Poisoned, due to Dialga G's resistance.

Toxitank is highly inferior to the Dialga G variant, as any G mirror it faces will beat it. Conversely, Toxicroak G's Anticipation Body makes Toxitank the best G variant against Machamp decks. It's a rather moot point, as Deafen Lock decks should run 1-2 Toxicroak Gs anyway.

You really shouldn't face any Toxitanks in top cut.

Torterra Torterrificrible

Torterra isn't played much these days, as while it has recruited Shaymin Lv.X into its ranks, it has also gained Dialga G Lv.X as an enemy, getting rid of Sceptile and Shaymin Lv.X in one fell swoop.

Torterra SF's Sunshine Song Power is handy, but the deck can't get around the fact that it loses Sceptile, can't get around Deafen lock to Rare Candy or use Broken Time-Space Torterras, and requiring 4 Energies to attack or retreat.

It does have a fighting chance, if it gets a good start, and a Torterra can be built. But you could say that about pretty much any deck. Except Ampharos.

You're unlikely to face Torterra at the top cut, but you might end up playing against one in Swiss.

Scizor Scizor

Another one for the "donk" pile, Scizor is notable for being the only deck in the format that does NOT run Uxie.

Teamed together with a plethora of Cherrims or a Shaymin Lv.X, Scizor is quite a cheap deck to build, making it attractive to newer players, Poké-parents, and players in college eating 2 packs of Ramen a day instead of 3 to be able to afford some staple supporters, thanks to PUI choosing to pack pointless cards like Dialga Lv.X in tins instead of something useful and not forcing players into a secondary market where they're getting ripped off. But no, I'm not bitter >:[

Scizor is cheap, and donkalicious. While it may not win tournaments, it is still a deck that will be around, albeit in the earlier rounds of Swiss.

Expect to face a Poké-dad playing it round 1, who's only wasting his Saturday getting destroyed by $200 decks played by acne-ridden teens because his kids really like Pikachu.

Blaziken Blazetran

With Dialga G making a huge splash (very much like a level 5 Magikarp), Fire decks are bound to make an appearance by those trying to metagame the field.

Heatran Lv.X, the best friend that a Fire type could have, helps mitigate the Energy discards that Fire types require. It can get Power Sprayed, naturally, but G decks are more likely to spray Claydols and Uxies than Heatrans.

Its Water weakness is really quite bad, with Kingdra and Obama both hitting it for billions for relatively little Energy, and Kingdra is still quite popular.

However, Blaziken's sniping ability, self-recharge attacks, and (ab)using the Burn condition are all quite useful. Not to mention its ease of one-shotting Dialga Gs.

You wouldn't expect to play against a Fire deck in this format, but come Regionals, it might be a different picture.

Infernape Inferno

The other "Stage 2 of Fire-type Starter from the videogames," Infernape simply LOOOOOOOVES discarding Fire Energy!

Combined with Heatran Lv.X, Infernape is able to hit for 80-120 a turn with ease, for relatively little Energy. It can go a lot of ways, such as using the Fighting-type Infernape from SF to metagame against your Regigigas-ridden metagame, or comboing your double-sided heads-flipping coins with Infernape PT, the possibilities are endless. You could even level it up and do a quick 150, a la Kingdra's Aqua Pump.

Akin Blaziken, Infernape is also weak to the ever-popular Kingdra, making it unpopular.

Are you likely to face an Infernape deck at a SPT? Not really. But you quite possibly might at Regionals, if you don't stop playing Dialga G.

Mesprit Lv.X AMU

AMU, the deck everyone predicted to win Worlds 09 around Worlds 08, isn't very popular anymore.

But that's an overstatement. It's certainly still around, and techs such as Azelf MT make it quite effective against the 'new hotness' of G decks.

Mesprit Lv.X's healing ability and damage output -- able to knock out any card Pokémon card printed in history --, and the powers of Mesprit, Uxie, and Azelf make AMU an effective deck.

The new Level Max Trainer from Platinum helps AMU set up faster, assuming they can flip heads, but it's naturally stopped by the Deafen lock, as is Premier Ball.

.. good luck getting all three Lv.Xs into play.

AMU will be around, but it probably won't win anything.

Tyranitar Tyranitar

Last AND least in our list is Tyranitar.

Alright, not THE least, but it's still not really good.

Comboed with Weavile, Tyranitar tries to get the ludicrous 5 Darkness Energy its second attack requires through a combination of Shadow Charge and Darkness Drive. And then it gets knocked out, and you cry and quit Pokémon.

Unfortunately for our mountain-eating pseudo-dinosaur friend, Dialga G Lv.X shuts down its body, and Weavile has a +20 Weakness to Metal. Not to mention that the new Rampardos, while being bad itself, is able to abuse Tyranitar's Weakness.

Deafen lock makes it even harder for Tyranitar to get into play in the first place, let alone get powered up.

You're unlikely to play against any, but that's what they said about Raieggs/Delta before 06 Nats, and we all know how that turned out. As long as you don't face Maaaaaaahtin, you'll be fine.


(You can send in your feedback at PoJoMOTL@gmail.com)

I appreciated this article, because I had been considering/attempting a Blaziken deck, and this came up to show me how to make a basic list. I also especially appreciate it because with Pokebeach down and my internet not allowing me to view the Pokegym, there are very few good, up to date strategy articles for me to read.

I was wondering though, would Premier Balls be better/worse than Level Max? With so many switch cards, it seems like it would make it easier to simply play it safe (no flip).

Thanks, and good luck with your Secret Wonders Saga of sets.

Hey Derek, thanks for writing in! You certainly could go with Premier Balls (heh, I said Balls) instead of Level Maxes. While it's ideal to get Heatran Leveled-up on the Bench, Level Max is a tailsfails card in the end, and it's certainly nice to be able to get the Lv.X cards from either Deck or Discard. However, the obvious downside is, you're burning valuable Switches/Warp Points that you could use to "Gust" something through Palkia Lv.X + Switch. As always, I suggest that you do whatever you're comfortable with: Playtest with Level Max and Premier Ball, and whichever ones gives you better results as per your playstyle, stick with that one!

Playtest, playtest, playtest -- it's the best way to win tournaments!


Aaand we're done.

So the lesson of the day? Don't go to a SPT if you can't play around Deafen lock and Power Spray.


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