I apologize for taking extra time to post this article. I wanted to make a more tested version of the standard list in this article so that I could provide you all with the best lists I can make. Most of this article will be covering my Portland experience and Dark Dragons in Expanded, however I do cover my Standard Dark Dragons list later on in this piece.
This placing gave me my third Regionals placement. In order my placements are: 11th, 10th, and 9th. I’m hoping this means my next Regionals placement is top 8. This performance also contributed to my childish desire to continue getting placements all with different decks. Right now I have a Regs top 16 with Yveltal Maxie’s, Vespiquen Herdier, and Darkrai Giratina. For League Cup wins I have Darkrai, Mega Mewtwo, and Mega Rayquaza. For the most part this is just a superficial standard that I have for myself, but I do think it says something when I get points with six different archetypes.
Although I did not manage to make top 8, I am actually thrilled about taking 9th. In hindsight the deck and deck list I used were not optimal for me. I still think Darkrai Giratina was the best choice for the event in terms of a strict meta call, however the deck ran very poorly at times. Through my testing I had seen many scenarios where the deck stopped functioning; in fact the norm was a very explosive and consistent run. At the event I realized this certainly is not always the case. In two of my rounds during day one I had games where my opening hand provided me with no draw outs, and in both cases I was eventually was benched out.
Once I realized just how clunky the deck can be, I became quite ready for a suboptimal standing result. This is why 9th came as a pleasant surprise. This event made me realize what it is like to play a deck for Regionals that is not on the level of super-consistency that I am used to with my lists. I imagine this is what it feels like for many players who aren’t as focussed on a consistent engine, which unfortunately is many players. Still, for many players the trade of consistency in favor of a stronger meta-call is correct. The list I posted in my last article won Juniors for Portland, with one change: adding Hex Maniac.
While I did not find the deck to be as consistent as I am adjusted to, I cannot deny the raw power that the deck holds. There were many games where I was using Dark Pulse for 130 on my second turns. I would frequently pull off the turn two Chaos Wheel or even turn one (when playing second). The matchups that I saw as auto-wins certainly did end up auto-wins. I played against Wobbuffet Accelgor twice and did not lose a game in either set. Against Mega Rayquaza I felt comfortable enough to treat game two as testing. I decided to try a different strategy in game two just to figure out if there was a different route I could take in the matchup. It failed, and I still won the third game with ease. Some other auto-wins I was expecting to see at least once were Night March, Vespiquen, and Decidueye Vileplume. While I did not face any of them, I am quite confident that they would have gone well for me.
During day one I played against Yveltal Maxie’s four times. I won three of the sets and lost once to Israel. The matchup actually is not even close to as negative as many believe. I can confidently call it a 50/50.
I played against Turbo Dark once and ended with a tie, mostly because I should have scooped up the second game earlier to hopefully finish the third game. I think if I would have payed a little bit more attention to time and scooped game 2, I could have made it into a win.
As I said above I did play against Rayquaza; it was easy. No offense to my opponent, he did what he could. Chaos Wheel with Parallel City gives little room for Ray to do much of anything.
The matchup that I enjoyed most during day one was against Primal Groudon. Daniel Altavilla and I tested this one on Friday and determined that if played incorrectly it is almost an auto-loss, but if played correctly it is favorable. I had an odd set against Alex Schemanske where I was losing for the first 6 turns without using any draw supporters, but at my last chance to avoid losing, I drew an N. From there I was able to N Alex to 1 card and Chaos Wheel for four or five turns and I actually won the game. Game two Alex rolled over me with ease. Game three I was barely able to squeak out a win by playing as fast as my forearms and fingers could move. Very close game three that I won only because of the Dowsing Machine and Exp. Share.
My second loss was against a Xerneas Mega Gardevoir (Brilliant Arrow) deck with two Enhanced Hammer. Needless to say, I lost that match 0-2. There was a quite remarkable turn where my opponent played both his Enhanced Hammers on my benched Giratina, and then Lysandre’d up my Salamence with three energy, and one-hit it. Removing seven energy from play is devastating to say the least. Very nice guy though; I’m happy I lost to someone as polite as he was.
I cannot remember exactly when I played against Sorrina Radu-well actually, I don’t remember the order of any of these matchups. Nonetheless, she was piloting Wobbuffet Accelgor and I used Chaos Wheel for seven turns consecutively to take six prizes. She was not able to draw into her Pokemon Ranger, or even flip a heads on Long Distance Hypnosis. The game certainly would have been more interesting if either of those counters came up. Variance certainly was in my favor for this game. With that being said, I think Dark Dragons should usually beat Wobbuffet Accelgor even when things don’t go as perfectly as they did for me.
This day one appears to be the story for many expanded events, especially on the West coast. One matchup that there is no way I could have seen coming (M Garde), four Yveltal decks, and four other jumbled expanded archetypes. This is pretty much how Expanded goes as this point. Yveltal stands out because it is the only deck that consistently performs well, and there are about twenty or thirty other archetypes that compete with it.
Round one I was paired against Turbo Dark, which is one of the best matchups I can hit. Turbo Dark cannot keep up with Dark Tina simply because they do less damage and do not have access to Salamence EX. I think I won this match 2-0, but I’m not entirely sure. For some reason I remember little from this match.
Round two I played against James McInnes with his Accelgor Wobbuffet Decidueye deck. Very interesting list, in fact I was so interested in the deck that I told him he could write an article about it and I would post it here on Cut or Tap. You can expect that article somewhere in the next week or so. Unfortunately for him Chaos Wheel remains a hard counter to Accelgor. I cannot remember if he played Ranger or not, but the end result was me winning a very long first game. After about 40 minutes, it was pretty clear that a second game would not conclude. I won the set 1-0.
Round three I am thrilled. I know that if I just win this match, I can ID my next two games into top cut. With my last two placements at regionals (10th & 11th), I am dying to make it to top cut. Unfortunately I get paired up against one of the people I lost to during day one; Israel Sosa. I actually felt more confident about the match than you might expect. I knew that Israel played a thin Maxie line, and that I had nothing to feel bad about from losing our first match. I figured, as long as I did not dead draw again I should be fine. Game one went my way but only after coming back from a scary early game. I was able to KO a Gallade with my Mew and take hold of the game from there. game two Israel acheived the turn one Gallade and rolled through me with ease.
Game three is a nail biter. We trade KOs back and forth quickly; frankly it was impossible to tell who would win until the last turn of the game. Unfortunately I prized my second Fighting Fury Belt. On my last turn I dug through almost all of the rest of my deck to pull out my win condition but end up having to use Dowsing Machine to recover Fury Belt instead of a Dark Patch because of my unfortunate prizes. This left me in a position where I had to draw another Dark Patch to win the game, but I did not. Israel won the game on the next turn. I’m still quite confident that I would have won the set had I not prized that second Fighting Fury Belt. But things happen, and losing to a player as talented and genuine as Israel doesn’t make me feel too bad.
Round four I really try to get my head in the game. I took off my hat, tied my hair up and zoned in. Unfortunately I faced another Yveltal Maxie deck, which is not what I wanted to see. Alex played a thicker Maxie line than Israel which swung the matchup in his favor. However, I would have won the set if I did not make a huge misplay. During game two I forgot that Alex had played a Silent Lab, and I try to use Dark Pulse with my Mew. I had already declared the attack so it was too late to take back my mistake. I actually dedicate missing top 8 entirely to this mistake. Not only had I given up the game, but the set, and my chances of making top 8. It was painful to say the least. Alex won our third game and I tried to maintain composure.
Round five I know that I can still make top 16 comfortably if I win. Heck even if I just tie I can probably make top 16. I get matched up against another Turbo Dark deck and run hotter than Jacob VanWagner at Worlds 2016. During my last turn in game two I used Dark Pulse for 320 damage. In short I exploded both game and hit for huge numbers throughout the set.
I cannot complain about a 9th place finish because I blame myself for this finish. Primarily I should have not make the mistake that I made against Alex; entirely my fault. I lost to him for no reason other than him outplaying me. Number two, I should have tried to play a little slower against Israel during our third game. While I did have a shot at winning the set, I should have realized that this was most likely going to be the hardest matchup I face through all of day two. Even with a chance of winning, it is not worth taking the risk. I should have gone for a tie. Lastly my list could have been a little more optimal. If I had made a couple changes to the list, I think I could have turned a couple of losses to wins.
Frankly I don’t mind posting the list before the paywall at this point. There is only one more Expanded event this season, which is in Canada. Almost all the lists I have created for Expanded will soon be obsolete.
This is what I played for Portland
|Pokémon – 12||Trainers – 34||Energy – 14|
|3||Darkrai EX (BKP)||4||Professor Sycamore||4||Ultra Ball||10||Darkness|
|1||Darkrai EX (DEX)||2||N||4||Max Elixir||4||Double Dragon|
|1||Salamence EX||2||Lysandre||3||Dark Patch|
|2||Giratina EX||3||VS Seeker||1||Exp. Share|
|2||Shaymin EX||1||Dowsing Machine|
|1||Wobbuffet||2||Parallel City||2||Fighting Fury Belt|
|1||Mew (FCO)||3||Trainers’ Mail|
|1||Hoopa EX||2||Float Stone|
Ironically the 4th VS Seeker was never the issue I found in consistency. In fact, I am not even considering adding it into the deck. The fourth VS Seeker isn’t the 61st card, nor is it the 65th, more like the 70th. Out of every deck that I have decided to play a lower VS Seeker count in, I believe this deck suited the count more than any other. There were multiple times in testing where I thought about going down to two!
The consistency issues that I did end up having were not being able to hit what I need at the right time in the mid to late game, as well as just starting the game with a draw card. The latter seemed less popular, and may have been simple bad luck, and this is what I am leaning towards currently. I decided to leave out any more early game draw because nothing seems to fit the deck very well. Another issue I ran into was discarding the wrong resources at the wrong times. Dark/Dragons is a bit of a combo deck. You want to have energy in the discard to use Dark Patch, but you also want to have energy in your deck to hit the Elixirs. You want the Double Dragon Energy to hit for more damage, but not when you need to attach a Dark to Mew or Darkrai. This is the second area where I added a bit of consistency.
After the event I made some changes to fit these needs. This is my updated list: