Structured Deck Analysis by Erik Nance

Discussion in 'Feature Articles' started by eriknance, Sep 10, 2009.

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  1. eriknance

    eriknance New Member

    [gal=48732]Decks in Action[/gal]​

    It is a question that most Pokemon TCG players ask right after they learn how to play: “What deck should I use?” Deck choice is a decision many players make based solely on the cards they own, or the Pokemon and types they like most. It stands as no surprise to find players who will fit 20 different Pokemon lines in a deck (their “favorites”), only to lose to decks based around powering up a single card. The best players in the game will tell you that in building a deck, the combo potential always comes first. I would play a Probopass/Toxicroak deck if the right combo’s there, never mind the fact that both those Pokemon are pretty lame. Even more observant players will tell you, however, that one very important consideration in picking a deck to play is the tournament at which you plan to play the deck. If you want to learn to think and play like the best, this article will provide you with a little bit of groundwork for how to determine what decks you should play at what tournaments. For the purpose of this article I will term this method of decision-making "Structured Deck Analysis."

    I will start with an example that I remember during the 2007-2008 season. The first City Championship of this year was fast approaching, and I wanted to be as ready as possible for it. I labored for days, constantly testing a deck that I thought stood a good chance against the metagame (which at the time – for this particular location – was Empoleon, Feraligatr, Blissey, and Kricketune based decks). After many hours of testing, I finally came up with “the counter” – a Feraligatr, Milotic, Meganium deck (all delta Pokemon). For those of you who do not know the cards, my types (lightning, fire, and fighting) all stood as good counters to that particular metagame. Going into the tournament, I felt I had a good deck choice with a good build, and I expected great results. However, I completely bombed the tournament. I nearly dropped after going 0-3, but I played it out and finished 2-3 for the day. Jake Burt, an extremely well-recognized player from North Carolina, ended up winning the tournament with an Empoleon deck as I grumbled miserably to myself. Where had I gone wrong?

    Quick – ask yourself if this scenario sounds familiar. If so, then this article is for you!

    After all of that work, I had completely forgotten to take Structured Deck Analysis into account. As a result, I ended up playing a deck that was totally unsuitable for the situation. What I originally thought was a great metagame choice ended up being a total failure. After that first City Championship, I went back to what I had always practiced, and as a result I ended up winning 3 Battle Roads, 3 City Championships, 1 Regional Championship, and getting top 64 at the Nationals for that year.
    What is Structured Deck Analysis, and how can you use it to improve your game?

    Structured Deck Analysis

    Structured Deck Analysis, in simple terms, is basically the win percentage your deck has against other opponents in a given setting (be it League, a City Championship, or the World Championship). A lot of this is more theoretical than it is mathematical, and there are certainly players and styles that break this rule, but for the most part, you can improve a great deal by playing the right deck for the right situation.

    Keep in mind that this definition of Structured Deck Analysis is a fairly general concept. I am not providing a framework for when the time is right to strike with a speedy Stage 1 deck, for instance, nor am I providing opinions pertinent to the current metagame. Instead, I am giving a general guideline for how to make your deck choices more purposeful given a certain tournament setting.

    Lower-level Tournaments

    Let us first consider the “lowest” level of competition given during the season – Battle Roads and City Championships. Winning these will not net you many points, but they are still points nonetheless, and many people actively participate in these. But what kind of people, and for what reason? I can almost guarantee that you will not find players who traveled more than a few hours to get to these tournaments, meaning that the level of competition for these events is usually pretty low. There will, of course, be a few good players at your Battle Roads (and the location itself can dictate the level of competition one can expect), but for the most part, your opponents will not be world-class players. Instead, you will probably face players from nearby leagues, the “usuals” at tournaments, and a small portion of decent competitors. How should this affect your deck choice? Generally, the following is true for types of decks when pitted against low to mediocre players:

    • Taking risks (choosing to ditch all your Stadium cards for 4 Super Scoop Up; running a questionable “tech;” dropping the Unown G’s for something else; etc.) will usually yield a positive result. If you face a mediocre player using Gengar, for example, and you dropped your Unown G’s, you still have a good chance of winning simply because they will make more mistakes than you will. Face a good player who is not running Gengar without your Unown G’s? You should be fine. The only time you will actually be in trouble is when you face a good player running a deck that hurts you based on your risks – and given the level of competition Battle Roads present, this will be rare.
    • Running a “counter” to the metagame will generally not improve your chances of winning by much. In the example I mentioned above, my Feraligatr/Milotic/Meganium deck did not even face a good matchup until round 3 (which I still managed to lose). The reason is simple: mediocre players do not care how “brilliant” your counter deck is, since they are usually running weird stuff anyway. My City Championship deck folded entirely to the Mr. Mime/Mismagius/Rayquaza (delta) deck I faced first round. Unless you can be sure that everyone will be running a certain handful of decks, then planning a counter to what you perceive the metagame to be is not a good idea.
    • The speed and consistency of one’s deck are fairly important here. Mediocre players are mediocre primarily because of these two issues. They ignore consistency, resulting in a clunky deck that may or may not set up correctly. An argument can be made for the opposite of this as well. Sometimes you will see mediocre players using extremely fast and consistent decks instead, going for the “cheap” win (think of the numerous “Turn 2” decks this game has seen, as well as popular choices such as Machamp, Kingdra, etc.). To strike a good balance with these factors, speed and consistency are given much importance.
    • You do not have to concentrate so much on playing decks that you are comfortable with here. Again, you can take a little bit of a risk. If you play against a mediocre player and make a mistake, the consequence will not be near as bad as when you make a mistake against a better player. A high level of skill will generally help a player overcome in these situations. For example, if you decide to switch decks at the very last minute before the tournament, it is usually not a bad idea for these types of tournaments (unless, of course, you are incorrectly trying to “metagame” the competition).

    Medium-level Tournaments

    Moving up the ladder, we will see things start to shift with the State/Province/Territory Championships. Better players will travel farther to attend these events, and so you must prepare accordingly. Your understanding of the metagame must extend beyond your local area, and you may face tough decisions when it comes to deckbuilding. Still, we can narrow deck choices down a bit by considering the types of opponents we are most likely to face. There will still be mediocre players, but you are now more likely to sit down across from a good player (if not a world-class player). As such, our considerations change quite a bit:

    • Taking risks now generally yields a negative result. Your deckbuilding practice must now consider a larger metagame, and what is popular in your area may be completely different than in another area. Dropping your Unown G’s, for instance, because you did not expect any Gengar decks now becomes too risky. The alert reader will note that a wide range of decks are played at Battle Roads and City Championships as well, so why the change? The answer is that, at S/P/T Championships, you are more likely to face a better player. In our previous example for Battle Roads/City Championships, dropping the Unown G’s was okay since your opponent might be mediocre anyway. Here, it is a bad idea; if you face a Gengar player (especially after Round 2 or so), they probably know what they are doing. Your risks can potentially become game-losing decisions.
    • Running a “counter” to the metagame now becomes a very good decision! The players who will travel to these events will most likely be very familiar with the game. As such, they will likely run a deck based within or against the metagame. After Round 2 or so, you will probably start seeing a regular pattern of decks choices. This pattern is likely to correlate with one of two things: 1. Which decks were successful at the City Championships, and 2. Whether or not a set was released prior to the S/P/T Championships. If you feel that your deck can correctly answer to the metagame, then you have a serious contender on your hands.
    • The idea of “techs” is introduced at this level of tournament. Rather than running a counter to the metagame, players will often re-imagine a popular archetype, inserting a few cards that help level bad matchups. Most notable from this past season was the inclusion of Nidoqueen into Gengar-based decks to help in matchups against SP-based decks. This is a strong idea because of two factors: 1. Your deck has already proven its worth in previous tournament settings, and 2. Your deck can compete realistically against bad matchups. Another advantage that players here have is the fact that the more you play a certain deck, the more you become comfortable with it. Alex Brosseau recently wrote an article (“Boring is Better”) in which he exemplified just this idea. Playing a Kingdra deck all year through, he performed at a world-class level. Though I do not know for sure, I can guess that his decklist changed throughout the year to pose answers to bad matchups (or at least give his deck an edge with cards from the newer sets).
    • Speed and consistency remain an important factor here (as it does at every level of tournament). The last thing you want to do is go into a higher-end tournament with a clunky deck that will not set up when you need it to the most. Recently, with the inclusion of SP Pokemon into the format, these factors have become undeniably important. Examining your decklist to make sure it as consistent as it can be is always worth the time. Even something so small as deciding to run a different Weedle with your Beedrill list, for instance, can be game-deciding.
    • Being comfortable with your deck becomes an important factor at this level. You will be playing against good players, and so you must avoid mistakes. If you are a bit unsure about your deck choice (“Should I play the untested counter, or should I play the deck that won me three City Championships?”), seriously consider playing what you know. Playing a counter only works if you know what you are doing. A good decklist does not always result in a winning player, and playing with something other than what one is accustomed to presents a greater risk. Do not be risky if you can help it!

    Upper-level Tournaments

    The upper-end of the tournament spectrum presents us with the Regional, National, and World Championships. Though there are different considerations to be taken at each level, I will group all of these together to keep this article at a readable size. Chances are, if you are a good player with a good deck, you will be facing great players with great decks after Round 2 at these tournaments. There will be random exceptions, of course, but you have a lot of work to do if you want to come out on top at this level. Other players will have their own “counters” to the metagame, and every archetype you play against will be consistent and fast. What’s more, even your good matchups will give you problems (if you choose to play an archetype), as players will have come up with answers to their bad matchups. The following are good pieces of advice to keep in mind when playing at this level:

    • Risks are to be avoided at almost all costs. Unless a change to your deck is made as an answer to the metagame or a bad matchup, then forget about it. To avoid trends in the general metagame at this point will cost you prizes, games, and possibly the tournament.
    • Counters remain a good decision, if one can be built. To seriously consider running a counter, though, you must have put in the work and hours to make sure it is in tip-top shape. Even then, your deck may fail. While this option poses risks, the end result may be very favorable. Going this route is not for the faint of heart, however. Note: Serious consideration can be made for countering the counter at this level. This usually requires a deep understanding of the metagame though, as well as “insider info” into what can be expected at these tournaments. The most recent example I have seen of this is the techs people used at Worlds to counter the Mewtwo Lv.X threat.
    • Techs in popular archetypes also remain an important consideration. You should already know to a degree what to expect if you want to seriously compete at one of these tournaments, so adjusting your deck to reflect answers to the popular archetypes out there is a good idea. Consider looking at older sets for anything you may have overlooked that might give your deck an advantage. Many players succeed here by playing an archetype they are comfortable with and changing it slightly to suit the current metagame. The Worlds Champion in the Masters Division this year, Stephen Silvestro, did exactly this. Instead of running a complex counter to the metagame, he chose to run what he knew (a Beedrill-based deck) with a tech suited for leveling out his worst matchup.
    • Again, speed and consistency are of the utmost importance here. Your opponent’s deck will usually set up, and so should yours. Given that nobody takes a huge lead early on, the biggest things that will separate you from your opponent are skill and deck choice.
    • If you want to have any hope at all of performing well at these high-end tournaments, you have to be comfortable with your deck. Not only that, you have to be comfortable with how your deck performs against other decks. There are rare exceptions to this, but winners are usually very comfortable and familiar with their decks at these tournaments. They know their decks inside and out, they have prepared for the opposition, and they know how to handle their bad matchups. They know that any mistake at all can cost them the game. As a result, many players make “safe” choices for these events, knowing they will perform better with decks they are familiar with.


    Summing Up

    Many players "overthink" their deck choices when it comes to Pokemon TCG tournaments. Starting with the ideas I have presented here, you will hopefully not make that same mistake. With the Battle Roads Tournaments starting up soon, I hope this article has proven to be helpful. Making smart deck choices prior to any tournament is bound to give players an advantage, and by using the guidelines I have provided here, you will be able to make those smart decisions.

    Best of luck to everyone this season, and thank you for reading!
  2. PokePop

    PokePop Administrator

    Thanks to Eric for an appropriate article for the BR season.
  3. sgtdarryl

    sgtdarryl New Member

    I have found the information here very useful, But Is it me ,or do I detect a hint of arrogance the way it's conveyed ? But a good read none the less
  4. Magnechu

    Magnechu Active Member

    Definitely not, Erik is one of the more humble players I know.
  5. Mathorn1

    Mathorn1 New Member

    Aha I enjoyed the article but whats with the random picture at the top? "Decks in action". I think we kinda know what that looks like.
  6. Muskeet

    Muskeet New Member

    Fantastic Article really makes you think and just in time for Autumn BR....and i agree with Magnechu, Erik is very humble
  7. KingGengar

    KingGengar New Member

    Erik: I'll start with the positives. Obviously, number one, you're a great Pokemon player and a great person :) Second, well-written article, with the structure one would expect from you! Third, nicely-organized. Fourth, good basic information.

    Now, a few negs: (1) I've found that the competitiveness of Battle Roads has increased so that I haven't found that level of "noob" which you say in inherent in the lower-level tournaments. To give a specific instance, this past Battle Roads in Asheville, we had 35 (!) Masters. The Sablehouses showed with two nicely-built decks, Beedrill and Gyarados. Leary was there with a good Palkia lock. Someone showed with a well-built Metal Gengar. I played a VERY fast Machamp/Luxray, no-risk, skimmed of tech, high-caliber (I thought). I went 2-3, with 2 games by 1 prize, and the Gengar got away from me.

    I've noticed this trend. The Battle Roads and Cities are becoming VERY competitive. Now, maybe it's just my area, and others can get away with risk-taking at the lower-points tourneys, but I would not give that advice to someone hwo wants to win. That said, last season, I attended six Battle Roads and brought risk-taking decks. It was not a good move, and I got trounced until I brought McQueen to Tennessee and finally got my Victory Medal.

    (2) Concerning speed, I would give an alternate opinion. If speed is the concern, then speed is the metagame. If the metagame dominates with set-up, then speed, unless it's a surprise deck, probably isn't the way to go. For example, 2008 saw GG in control, certainly not a speed deck. I brought a surprise speed deck to Nationals and was roundly trounced. However, since the advent of Diamond and Pearl, speed *has* become important, from the advent of Mario to the absolute psychosis of LuxApe and Beedrill (and whether Gyarados can actually withstand the coming pressures is up for grabs). So, therefore, I say speed is good NOW. This means that if you decide to play other than speed at lower-level tournaments, it's asking for trouble in this enviro. BTW, the winner of Asheville was Gyarados, 2nd Beedrill.

    Otherwise, good to see you're about, and I hope to see you soon, bro! Beatles book coming in 2010 for sure!
  8. Phazon Elite

    Phazon Elite New Member

    Very nice read, sir.
  9. eriknance

    eriknance New Member

    Hey Tom, I want to respond to the points you made (thanks, by the way), but for now I have a quick question. What were the "risky" decks you used in Battle Roads last season? What were the risks involved, and what was McQueen? Thanks!
  10. sixquack

    sixquack New Member

    I'm a bit lost here. I understand the notion of the BIG FISH in the little pond and that it may allow for a margin of risk or error in deck design.

    However, why would I purposely build an inferior deck simply because the competition may (or may not be) as talented as the more significant tournaments? I see no advantage in this. Wouldn't it be better to build the best deck I can and get as much experience as possible with that deck before facing more difficult challenges?

    Please advise...
  11. baby mario

    baby mario Front Page Article Editor<br><a href="http://pokeg

    I don't think the article is telling you to make an inferior deck. Just that different types of decks are better for low-level tourneys.

    This is a really good and useful read. I just hope it doesn't get buried under the dozens of so-called 'fun' deck articles that are hitting the front page atm.
  12. KingGengar

    KingGengar New Member

    Hey Erik: The decks I played were Bellossom, Mightytank, McQueen, and GarChamp. The riskiest were the first two.

    Bellossom was tested only at league and vs. Prime at other times. It tested well, so it wasn't a blind risk, but who knew Beedrill and LuxApe would become so dominant? The risks turned out to be those two decks as I lost to Beedrill to end my day once (although gave it a good run), and LuxApe (where I got trounced). Everything else was pretty nice. Right now I wouldn't play Bellossom because it can't rise to the occasion without Shaymin or Sceptile tech and both of these are, to me, risky moves.

    Mightytank played VERY well, at home, league, wherever. But when I got to BR, I went 2-3. I knew it was a risk and I took it, but I still made every effort to have the "good list." As with my Champ in Asheville, I had two losses by 1 prize and a blowout vs. GG. So Tank wasn't so bad, but still risky.

    McQueen was Machamp with Nidoqueen. Very formidable and I may build it again. I have NOT seen it played often, if at all.

    GarChamp is my name for GeChamp, which I think sounds like a speech impediment. It was only risky because I hadn't played it much before BR and, honestly, it was only beginning to make a splash.

    So, it sum, I would say that risk is good if you mean playing new ideas but not good if you mean trying fun decks, even if consistent builds. It's nice to be a rogue hro, but it doesn't much pan out.
  13. amphy#1

    amphy#1 New Member

    Well, I think no matter what you play you should always know what is popular in the format. If you could play with a deck that can deal with most of the format, without too many techs, and is different than those, then your headded in the right direction. The thing is is that the popular decks are popular for a reason, and players want to play with what wins. There are a lot of popular decks, thats the problem. If there was only 1 or 2 decks we could easily tech against them and win. This is were the very strategic players can win, because it won't come easy.

    By the way, nice article Eric, hope to see you soon. :smile:
  14. ralis

    ralis New Member

    This is a great article. my only gripe is that is is a bad idea to make a counter for a single deck in BRs. that is true. But if you can find a deck that counters the top decks of the format, and make it work, it can just dominate the tortament.
  15. eriknance

    eriknance New Member

    That's true, but then you just used up a powerful, tournament-winning concept in order to secure a few points and packs at a Battle Roads. My advice? Use that counter more productively by introducing it at a State Championship (or, if future sets allow, an even bigger tournament). Now, there are exceptions to this. For instance, if you know of a set being released just before States containing cards that cripple your concept, then City Championships might be the best place to play the counter deck. The best example of this was the surge of Blissey-based decks that was introduced during Battle Roads in the 2007-2008 season. The threat of Gallade during the City Championships prevented Bliss players from waiting any longer to use the concept, so it was nearly overused for CC's.

    Back to back posts merged. The following information has been added:

    Tom, I’m going to try and respond to your points right quick.

    To point 1, a few things stand out. First, the number of players at that Battle Road was a bit higher than one would expect (I’m guessing that’s what you meant with the exclamation mark). However, more players doesn’t mean more better players at these low-level tournaments – it just means there’s a bigger field of people to play against. You brought an unconventional deck (Machamp/Luxray) to a Battle Roads, something I don’t normally advise, and the Sablehauses were there with strong builds of obvious archetypes. Brian’s a solid player, though I wouldn’t necessarily label him as a top player (definitely solid though). So, out of a field of 35 Masters, I’ll say we have about 3-4 “solid” players (roughly 10% of the field). Compare this with a State Championship, where you can expect a higher number of better players, though the overall attendance might not jump quite as much. What accounts for this? You have more people coming from more places to participate. For the North Carolina State Championship, for instance, people have come from all over in the past to compete – Florida, Georgia, Tennessee. These players tend to be more competitive. Here’s a surprising fact: At the North Carolina State Championship from last year, there were a total of 35 Masters. This is the same number as your Battle Roads example, but I can already tell you that there were more upper-level players at the State Championship. When upper-level players account for nearly a quarter of the field, you have to make huge considerations. This is markedly different than either Battle Roads Tournaments or City Championships.

    Moreover – and this is extremely critical to remember – the better players generally win more (I know this seems like a no-brainer, but follow along with me here). When we look at a Battle Roads Tournament – where a very large percentage of players are either beginners or just average – we can expect the best players to be truly represented by only the top cut. They’ve won most their games, performed well, and thus make it to the top. At a State Championship (and other upper-level tournaments), you’ll find your best players sometimes from round 3 and on (and definitely in the top cut). This means that even with a large player field at a large event – Regionals, for instance – you’ll be playing better players by at least round 4. At a Battle Roads though – and definitely with the scenario you’ve given me – you might not face a solid player until your last Swiss round. There are exceptions to this, of course, but this is generally the pattern. The simple reason is that, though attendance at events usually increases with the level of tournament, the number of better players jumps up quite a bit. With the Battle Road you attended, many upper-level players missed out. When it comes time for the State Championships, however, you can expect the better players to be there. Since larger events also have more rounds, the cream usually rises to the top by as early as round 3.

    Concerning “risks” when playing at a Battle Roads or City Championship, I did not mean the risk of playing a rogue deck. To most beginners and average players, I suggest playing solid archetypes until one is comfortable enough to experiment with new ideas (if, of course, that player wants to play competitively). My idea of a risk, as shown with my examples, is the kind where you capitalize on the strengths of your deck, even if you leave yourself vulnerable to certain decks in the metagame. This happens mostly in the deckbuilding process, and shouldn’t alter the core idea of the archetype. For example, deciding not to run counter Stadiums when you think Dusknoir might be somewhat popular so you can fit in a 2-2 Palkia Lv.X; or dropping your Unown G’s (even with the threat of Gengar) to make your Broken Time-Space total 4 instead of 2. These are the risks I’m talking about, and though they may seem “inferior” on the surface, they will maximize your chances of winning low-level tournaments.

    To your second point, speed and consistency are always a concern – even with Stage 2 setup decks. The most effective Stage 2 setup decks have always included speed/consistency elements to them; at times people have overlooked this. Queendom in 2005 had Pidgeot, but more importantly, it had a Nidoran that could use Call For Family to grab a Pidgey. Beedrill in 2009 was eerily similar in that the Basic for the only Stage 2 Pokemon it played could use Call For Family to grab a Baltoy. The Gardevoir/Gallade decks were probably the most consistent decks imaginable with a Stage 2 that could copy Supporter cards. And let’s not forget the MetaNite era, also featuring a Stage 2 with a Poke-Power that helped set up decks.

    Oddly enough, you picked the one time in the game (at least since I’ve been playing) where a non-Stage 2 speed deck didn’t win out over a large field. In 2006, Raichu/Exeggutor beat a metagame full of setup decks while Mewtrick won Worlds, in 2007 Absolution took both Nationals and Worlds, and in 2009 LuxApe took Nationals while Beedrill took Worlds. 2008 was the only year in which a deck that wasn’t blatantly built around speed won the major events, which was something people foretold as soon as the deck appeared during City Championships.

    To be clear, I think speed and consistency are always a concern. The Gardevoir/Gallade combo of 2007-2008 was, in my opinion, one of the strongest decks to ever surface in the metagame, perfectly blending power, speed, comeback potential, and disruption. It, just like a speed deck, could pump out 70+ damage on the second turn. Much like a speed deck, it also had unbelievable consistency (especially with the addition of Claydol). I know many people would look at Gardevoir/Gallade and categorize it primarily as a setup deck, but I feel that the deck had a huge speed element to it as well.

    Back to back posts merged. The following information has been added:

    Hey sixquack, thanks for your question and concern. When I talk about "risks" for the low-level tournaments, I'm referring to simple changes in the decklist (such as ditching counter Stadiums for a 2-2 tech of something or trading 1 Unown G, an Energy or two, and something else for 4 Life Herbs or Super Scoop Ups). To be clear, I am not suggesting people play rogue or "counter" decks at these types of tournaments.

    The way it works is this: You want to have a clear advantage over every opponent you play at a tournament. Say you decide to play a Kingdra deck for this weekend, and you'd really like to win the tournament. You feel that your list is very effective, and you think of yourself as a strong player, but you're worried about the threat of Luxray GL (a very popular card right now). Though you could tech in a 2-1-2 Machamp line with a Mankey or two (and modify the energy line accordingly), you could also use those 7-8 cards to fit in a Broken Time-Space/Mesprit/Super Scoop Up combo. Here's why that could be a smart move:

    At a low-level tournament, there's a small percentage of solid players in the field. Since you'll mostly be playing against average players and beginners, you already have a skill advantage over them. Even when you play against an average player who's using a deck that is 60-40 or 75-25 against yours, you can win based off of your skill. Against a solid player, your "risk" becomes a big strength unless they happen to be playing a deck that beats yours. There's nothing like dropping a few surprising cards against a top player to win the tournament.

    Say you take your Kingdra deck with the BTS/Mesprit/SSU combo to this weekend's BR. You see that there are 34 players in your age division, with the numbers looking like this: 4 Solid players, 20 average players, and 11 beginners. Out of the 4 solid players, only one poses a serious threat with his or her LuxBlaze deck. The others are playing Gyarados, Flygon/Machamp, and Palkia "lock." This means that for you, only one player at the tournament is a threat. Sure, you may face Luxray GL as the tournament progresses, but unless you face the 1 solid player using the deck that beats you, you're a favorite to win. Against the three other opponents, your "inferior" combo provides a distinct advantage.

    Keep in mind most of that example was a bit hypothetical. I know that Luxray GL is an extremely popular card, so the above advice might not be right for the situation, but that's an idea of how it works. You're essentially capitalizing on the strengths of your deck, and though you're opening yourself up to lose against certain matchups, you maximize your chances to win.

    The reason this doesn't work at higher-level tournaments is because of a couple of things. First, at higher-level tournaments, there's a higher percentage of solid players in the field. They come from everywhere -- down the street, a couple of hours away, and even from different states. Your odds of playing against a solid player using the deck that beats you increases right away. The second reason is that, as the tournament progresses, the better players (some of them using the decks that beat you) will keep winning. If you're doing well, you can expect to face good players as early as Round 3. And since bigger tournaments have more rounds, there's a better chance that you'll face your nightmare match in the Swiss. Though your "inferior" list may prove useful against certain solid players, a couple of matches lost will put you out of the tournament completely. This isn't so at the lower-level tournaments, where one loss doesn't automatically put you out of the top cut.

    Last thing -- this idea is all based off the assumption that you are already a solid player. If you're unsure of your skills, just go with what you suggested -- play what you feel comfortable with, and avoid risks altogether. If you're a solid player, however, these risks can provide a good chance of winning lower-level tournaments.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2009
  16. PKM4

    PKM4 Compendium Publishing Assistant

    The kid on the left is from my league and I believe that picture is from Granada Hills, CA.
  17. PokePop

    PokePop Administrator

    We just needed some visual element for the article.
  18. KingGengar

    KingGengar New Member

    Hey Erik:

    Thanks for responding. As always, you make the Gym a more pleasant place by civil and intellectual debate. On to some comments:

    (1) Your analysis of percentages in Battle Roads would hold true if it were so, but I will take the blame since I didn't give you all the information. Not only me, Sablehouse, and Leary, but also Mike Reynolds, Ryan Googe, and I'll guess two more very good players were there, so the ratio was 8 out of 35, upping the pool to 22%, which is a 1 in 4 chance of running into a good player before the top cut, the odds obviously increasing as you win.

    My actual point on this is that it seems to be an increasing phenomenon, and I attribute that to the growth of Pokemon over the last two years, so that the paradigm has shifted in that you can't really go anymore to a low-level Tournament expecting to meet with looser competition. You have to come fully prepared if you want to even make top 6. As proof, I offer that some of my fellow league members, who have improved markedly over the last year, and brought nicely-tweaked decks, did not do as well as they thought, either due to a "fun" idea that they thought would spice up the day, a little bit of laziness that caused them to misplay, or dumb luck from which they could not emotionally recover.

    Not to belabor the point, but Battle Roads was a mini war zone.

    (2) On the subject of speed, I think we agree. I didn't mean that speed was NOW in that it never was before, or that GG didn't have an element of speed. Instead, I would say that speed has become even faster than ever, with Uxies, SP decks, Machamp, Beedrill, and more. Speed is ubiquitous. Speed is king. Set-up decks will have a VERY hard time (I'm interested if Gengar/Metagross can cut it). In all my playing experience, I've never seen it this fast.

    What this means to the average player is that there's no fooling around if you want to win. Unless both players have bum luck, a T2 setup is nearly insurmountable. Yes, that was true before also, but now we have such a multiplicity of tools to get there (Flutter Wings, Rare Candy, Broken Time-Space, Energy Gain).

    Look forward to seeing you!
  19. PKM4

    PKM4 Compendium Publishing Assistant

    Hey its awesome to have our league members on the front page! I'll have to let him know. He'll probably freak out :)
  20. prodigal_fanboy

    prodigal_fanboy New Member

    Erik - in response to your very lengthy (and hence not quoted here) post to Tom (post #15):

    There were, to my knowledge, 63 masters at NC States in March '09, with two more coming late, had one more of those late-shows showed up on time, we would have had a T16. I was on the bubble, so I remember that distinctly.

    And as for speed, this format, more so than ever, has become about speed. Some would argue it's too fast. Do you feel that players should have adapted permanently or is the HG/SS slowing of the meta (and somewhat with AoA) a good thing?

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