Friday, April 08, 2016

Pokemon TCG WI States 2016-Masters Top 8 Interview

Justin Alford
The following is an interview with Justin Alford, one of the top 8 finishers in the Masters division of this year’s Pokémon TCG Wisconsin State Championships. Justin’s deck focused on Giratina EX, but had a few additional twists.

Where are you from, and how did you get into the Pokémon TCG?

I am from South St. Paul, Minnesota and have lived in that area my entire life. I got into the Pokémon TCG when it first came to America, but to me that doesn’t really count, because sometime soon after the Gym Heroes/Gym Challenge sets I stopped collecting the cards, and I didn’t play with very many people back then either. I regained my interest during the autumn of 2014 thanks to two key factors: My neighbor Dallas and a relatively new local game store called Level-Up Games. Level-Up had been hosting Pokémon TCG tournaments on their own for a while and my neighbor had been participating in them for some time. One day I made my first stop into the store and decided to buy some packs just to see what they were like now compared to a decade or so ago. I saw some cool things that sparked my curiosity and eventually asked Dallas for help constructing a new deck and getting information on how decks are built nowadays. After that, I went to nearly every tournament Level-Up has hosted and personally, I think I do pretty well.

What’s the basic strategy of your deck, and why did you choose this deck for this tournament? 

The deck I ran in this tournament uses the Fairy Transfer Ability from Aromatisse (XY) and Giratina EX (AOR) with Double Dragon and Fairy Energies. Double Dragons are considered any type of energy as long as they are attached to a Dragon-Type Pokémon, so I can transfer Double Dragons to other Giratina on my bench when my Active is hurt or in danger of being KO’d, then I can use AZ to remove the damaged Pokémon and resume attacking with a fresh card. There’s also the various locks that Giratina does to the opponent: Preventing Mega-Evolution damage with his Renegade Pulse ability limits some potential threats, and Chaos Wheel locks the opponent out of playing Tools, Special Energy, and Stadiums for one turn, a potentially crippling scenario for my opponent (I’m looking at you, Night Marchers).

If for some reason Giratina isn’t working out, Mega Mewtwo EX with Psychic Infinity is there to also take out threats, punishing high energy-using opponents. The result is a well-rounded, tightly built, versatile deck that can go first or second and still come out on top.

What are some of the other important cards in the deck?

While Fairy Transfer by itself is pretty good, kickstarting it with Xerneas’s Geomancy (XY) is crucial so I have plenty of energy to play with early on. A combo of Level Balls and Ultra Balls help ensure access to turn two Fairy Transfer which in turn helps ensure I can attack. For Pokémon Tools, since Giratina and Xerneas both have an attack that does 100 damage, I added Fighting Fury Belts for an extra ten to get KO’s on Shaymin EX. The extra HP also helps prevent potential one-hit KO’s from Night March, or even help in mirror matches (I had a friend in the tournament who played a similar deck). I also threw in Ace Trainer with the idea that I will usually lose a Pokémon to my opponent before my strategy to lock their hand takes effect (a well-timed Ace Trainer cripples their options even more when combined with Chaos Wheel). For Stadiums, Fairy Garden is almost a no-brainer in a deck that runs Fairy Transfer-after all, who doesn’t like free retreat? One more card that helps cover more bases is Hydreigon EX (ROS), whose Shred attack counters any Jirachi using Stardust, Regice’s Resistance Blizzard, or even Aegislash EX. You have staple Supporters (Sycamore, Birch, Lysandre) as well, so Trainers’ Mail helps when looking for the right card at the right moment. Also, while most decks run multiple, I’ve found I only need a single Shaymin EX to make that first turn successful while keeping that bench open for your battle-ready reserves.

What worked for the deck?

It’s very rare that I face a deck that doesn’t have some form of Special Energy, and this tournament was no different. With the love (or hate depending on who you ask) for Night March and Seismitoad , Double Colorless is very common. Those aren’t the only ones, though-I ran into Mega Manectric decks twice and as soon as my opponents saw Giratina they were forced to either sacrifice damage or energy reuse.

One of the harder matchups I was able to beat was YZG (Yveltal-Zoroark-Gallade). This was a difficult game because Yveltal EX destroys a fully-powered Giratina while the opposite is much harder to accomplish. In that match, I used Mega Mewtwo to take care of an issue that Giratina could not.

What didnt work, and would you make any changes if you used this deck again?

In the two rounds I lost in this tournament, my opponents utilized a similar tactic-energy removal. Whether it was hammers, Xerosic, or Team Flare Grunt, I found myself losing because I was out of energy. This is the only thing I fear when I play with this deck, but in most cases I feel like I can overcome this as long as I get the early game Energy lead with Geomancy. For that reason, I still see no reason to change this deck, at least until the next set rotation, and even then I’ll keep this one intact for a long while for Expanded play.

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