Hi folks, I’m James ‘Peterpot’ McInnes. You may remember me from such decks as ‘Toad Bats and Time Puzzles” which I got Top 8 at two Regionals with last year, “Mega Manectric with Giratina and Trev EX” which I Top 8’ed Canadian nationals with, and most recently, Wobbufett/Accelgor/Decidueye (WAD) which I finished 18th with in Portland.
I began playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game last season, and my creative antics netted me a 19th place finish overall in North America. This season has been a bit slower for us players in the great north, with only one special event and one Regionals in the entire country, and our only option is to drive to the nearest Regionals, which is approximately 13.5 hours from Calgary, where I live. I’ve won and made Top Cut at a few local League Cups, but other than that I’ve just been enjoying the game and preparing for the only Regionals that I was and will be able to attend this year – Portland. Today, in my first Pokémon article ever, I am very excited give you an in-depth look at what I believe to be the strongest Accelgor variant in the current format, and one of the strongest and most enjoyable expanded decks I’ve ever played!
The concept of Accelgor decks, for those unfamiliar, is to use Accelgor’s “Deck and Cover” attack to paralyze and poison the opponent’s active Pokémon. Support for the deck usually revolves around Ability- (Wobbufett) or item- (Trevenant, Gothitelle) locking the opponent to keep them from removing the paralysis/poison condition. To further maintain the lock, you typically want the opponent’s Pokémon to be knocked out coming into your turn, or in the case of ‘Sinister Hand’ Dusknoir (which lets you move the opponent’s damage counters at will), you want the opponent’s paralyzed Pokémon to never leave the active position.
In the past, the deck has proven to be quite strong. Edmond Kurds won US Nationals with Gothitelle/Accelgor in 2013, and Trent Orndorff won Worlds in 2014 with Trevenant/Accelgor in the Seniors division. Although Accelgor has had some strong showings in the past, it has always been more of a fringe/rogue deck. Wobbufett and its variety of partners (Groudon, Accelgor, and Donphan) were being hyped for Portland Regionals as a counter to Vileplume and Rayquaza decks, as well as having favorable matchups against the myriad of dark decks that were expected to be played. Never one to settle with the status-quo, I wasn’t confident playing the run-of-the-mill Wobbufett/Accelgor deck. I knew that if I was going to take Wobbufett and Accelgor all the way, I had to identify and overcome its three major barricades in the current format: Consistency/strength of the lock, consistency or the deck, and effectiveness of counter decks/techs.
Let’s consider these three obstacles before and after the creation of WAD.
Consistency/strength of the lock
The biggest reason I haven’t played Accelgor in tournaments before the creation of WAD was because of how easily your opponent can break the lock. If you’re playing the Trevenant version, your opponent can Lysandre or play Hex Maniac to regain access to their items. Keldeo EX is fairly common (its Rush In Ability can remove status conditions) and because of this Wobbuffett has become the preferred Accelgor partner. However, since current lists can’t fit Dusknoir (his low HP and prominence of Dark decks means that the entire strategy can fall apart with a single Lysandre), you’re entirely reliant on a combination of Virbank City Gym and Muscle Band/Silver Bangle to control your damage and allow the opponent’s Pokémon to be KO’ed coming into your turn. It’s tough to do consistently, and also allows the opponent to play around this by replacing the Virbank with a stadium of their own, or by playing down tools such as Fighting Fury Belt.
Breaking the lock is especially easy for the opponent if you can’t even establish it in the first place. This was typically the case against decks that ran attackers that were 60 HP or less (particularly Night March). Because you take out their one-prize attackers with a single “Deck and Cover,” they are free to promote whatever they’d like and retaliate. Vespiquen/Flareon was also difficult in this sense, as they could not only counter the stadiums to prevent knock outs, but they could promote their low HP Combee’s or Eevee’s to break the lock.
Consistency of the Deck
Accelgor has always been different from other decks in terms of consistency, in that your main attacker is shuffled back into the deck every turn along with your energy attachment, so you are forced to find it once again on the following turn. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as not having energy on your board means that it can’t be removed, and it also means that an Accelgor player will rarely, if ever, lose by decking out. The downside, however, is that you must consistently draw the cards you need every turn. Musharna’s Forewarn ability is a great inclusion for this purpose, and because it is a Psychic type, Musharna’s ability can still be used even while Wobbufett is in the active position.
The nature of “Deck and Cover” also means that in order to maintain the lock, you will need either an Accelgor or a Shelmet on your bench AFTER you have used the “Deck and Cover” attack, so that you will be able to use it again on the following turn. Mew EX, with it’s “Versatile” ability, is typically found in Wobbufett/Accelgor lists mainly for this purpose. Since it is a Basic that can copy any Pokémon’s attacks, you can have Mew EX use “Deck and Cover” while keeping a fully-evolved Accelgor on the bench.
Overall, the consistency of the deck and how it draws wasn’t so much of an issue. The early game can be a bit of a hurdle, and drawing into tools such as Silver Bangle or Muscle Band when all you need is a Double Colorless Energy (DCE) can be frustrating, but I found I was losing games with regular Wobbuffet/Accelgor lists mainly due to the inconsistencies of the lock as opposed to inconsistencies of the deck.
Effectiveness of Counter Decks/Techs
After Accelgor won US Nats in 2013, it wasn’t uncommon for Darkrai decks to play three Keldeo EX to help the deck overcome status conditions. While Accelgor decks now run Wobbufett to turn off Keldeo EX’s ability, there are still cards that are quite effective in disrupting the paralysis lock. In the form of Pokémon, Magearna EX’s “Mystic Heart” ability prevents effects of attacks done to any Pokémon with Metal energy attached, and Virizion EX’s Verdant Wind both prevents and removes any status conditions from Pokémon with Grass energy attached.
In the form of Supporter cards, Pokémon Centre Lady (PCL) heals 60 damage and removes all Special Conditions, and AZ returns a Pokémon to the player’s hand (removing all damage counters and special conditions). Olympia heals 30 damage from your active Pokémon and switches it with one of your benched Pokémon, but it doesn’t see much play in the Expanded format. All three are quite powerful against Accelgor decks, however AZ forces the opponent to discard all cards attached (including energy), and all of them count as the opponent’s Supporter card for the turn, which means they won’t be playing draw Supporters. Lysander also receives an honorable mention, since once it’s paired with Keldeo EX, the opponent can remove their special conditions.
Techs aside, there are certain decks that are inherently quite strong against Wobbufett/Accelgor. Anything that can one-hit knock out (OHKO) Wobbuffet early on and can heal special conditions, either through evolution or healing supporter cards, is quite difficult (Mega Manectric falls under this category). Decks with predominantly low-HP Pokémon such as Night March and Vespiquen/Flareon are very difficult as well. Giratina EX’s “Chaos Wheel” attack is also tough for Accelgor, since it prevents the attachment of Special Energy.
So how do our hero Accelgor and his friend Wobbufett overcome these difficulties? I imagined that Night March and Vespiquen decks would see play, and didn’t want to take a loss to them. Rayquaza decks have no issue including either Virizion EX or Magearna EX into their lists. Giratina EX was a strong card going into Portland with Rayquaza winning the previous regionals in St. Louis. Just when all hope seems lost…
It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s… Decidueye-GX!
When the Sun and Moon set list was first announced, the card I immediately started deck-building with was Decidueye-GX. 240 HP on a Stage 2 that can evolve on the first turn thanks to the stadium Forest of Giant Plants? I had to lean closer to the screen, because I couldn’t believe my eyes!
“Hollow Hunt GX” for one grass energy, taking any three cards from your discard pile and putting them into your hand!? My thighs were shaking in anticipation.
BUT WAIT – IT HAS AN ABILITY!?!?
“Feather Arrow – Once during your turn, you may put 2 damage counters on 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon.”
The tears came slowly at first, glistening beads of sheer joy manifesting themselves and migrating down my face. The lyrics for Coldplays single ‘Fix You’ immediately started playing in my mind. Decidueye was everything I had ever wanted and more.
I started testing Decidueye-GX in the Standard format first, and I found Decidueye-GX worked quite well with a 2-2-2 Vileplume line. I sent the list to my team (Team Ruby’s), and would have played it had I been able to attend Anaheim regionals. My list was actually quite similar to the list John Kettler popularized in Anaheim, which is currently recognized as the best deck in the Standard format. Expanded has a lot more tools to work with though, and I wasn’t quite as happy with how the deck performs in the Expanded format. This is what inspired me to create WAD.