“License to Mill:” a Phoenix Top-64 Report with Wailord

Hello, Pokemon community!  I’m Andy Hyun, and today I’m happy to come out from behind the scenes as Cut or Tap’s writing editor, to provide my first written article for the site (or any site!) at Phinn’s invitation.

My deck choice for this past month’s Phoenix Regionals was not an easy one.  Yveltal was an obvious early consideration, but in spite of my practice with it on TCGO, I still lacked the confidence to pilot it effectively in a major event, especially in the mirror match.  Blastoise was on my radar as well, but having played some form of ‘Stoise for all three of my prior Phoenix outings, I felt it was time for a change.

If Phoenix had been held two weeks earlier than it was, I would have run Night March.  Beyond the raw power and speed of the deck, I found it somewhat more accessible than Dark decks, while still requiring a decent amount of skill development.  After grinding out numerous games online, and with guidance from my coach (Dustin Zimmerman), I had a list which I could have comfortably taken to the event.  For those who are interested, I am happy to share it!

Night March

Pokémon – 16 Trainers – 40 Energy – 4
4 Joltik PHF 3 Professor Sycamore 4 VS Seeker 4 Double Colorless
4 Pumpkaboo PHF 2 Lysandre 4 Ultra Ball
4 Lampent PHF 1 AZ 4 Battle Compressor
1 Mr. Mime BKP 1 Hex Maniac 4 Puzzle of Time
3 Shaymin EX 1 N 3 Trainers’ Mail
1 Teammates 1 Town Map
1 Pokemon Ranger 1 Tool Scrapper
1 Escape Rope
1 Float Stone
1 Fighting Fury Belt
1 Target Whistle
1 Special Charge
1 Life Dew
3 Dimension Valley

However, the closer we got to Phoenix, the more I dwelled on the prospect of seeing multiple item-lock decks throughout the day.  I recalled that at the 2014 Phoenix Regionals, when Seismitoad EX had just been released, practically everyone and their mother ran at least one Toad, making for hard times when running an item-heavy deck.  With Night March getting so much attention this year, I started to think twice about committing to it for the tournament, for fear of being faced with multiple Toad, Trevenant, and Vileplume decks.

And then… there was Wailord.

Wailord was introduced to us when it made waves(!) at 2015 Nationals, most famously by Enrique Avila’s 2nd place finish.  I was intrigued by the concept when I heard gossip about the deck (no energy??), but once I watched Enrique’s final match against Jason Klaczynski’s Toad/Garbodor and saw Wailord in action, I was completely enamored. Here was a deck that turned the game completely on its head, drastically changing the way that both the pilot and opponent must approach the game.

Shortly thereafter, I acquired the Whales and disruption Supporters needed to build the deck and try it out – admittedly to the (shall we say) displeasure of fellow players at the shop where I practice.  In testing the deck, I found that certainly it can be played around (as Klaczynski proved, and as we’ll see shortly), but if the opponent hasn’t encountered Wailord before, the deck forces a very steep, unforgiving learning curve.  Last season, I “experimented” a bit too much with the build and went 5-4 at San Jose Regionals (one win shy of Day 2) and an even less impressive Idaho States record when Wailord hit the Standard format.  Fortunately, I’ve gotten smarter about it (and deck-building overall), and between two 2nd-place LC finishes (pre-rotation) and Arizona Regionals, currently all 48 of my CP’s this season came courtesy of Whales.

The list that I ended up using for Phoenix kept most of Enrique’s original list, but also took inspiration from TJ Traquair’s 2nd place build from 2016 Alberta Regionals, along with a couple of my own touches.

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