Hey guys, I wrote this up as an article for my website and decided it should be seen publicly, haha ;x Anyway, I would love to have this as Featured Content on the Gym. Enjoy =) What to expect in the next format (Diamond/Pearl-on) As most of us finish up our tournament seasons after Nationals without an invite to the Big Show in August, the big question in everyone’s mind is going to be what the future holds. No, I’m not talking about which showing of The Dark Knight you’re going to, but in fact, which decks will play a large impact on the format of next year. It is common knowledge that the next format will consist of Diamond and Pearl onwards, but does anyone really know which decks will be played? Of course not, which is why I will be discussing a few key points within the course of the next few minutes. Speed Kills As most of you know, the beginning of the year saw a multitude of decks based on the concept of “T2 (Turn 2)” rise to power. These included Kricketune, Banette, Infernape, etc. What you saw was just the beginning of what I like to call “The Speed Era” in the Pokemon TCG. I was recently looking through some old cards when I came across a Neo Genesis Steelix. I looked at it and laughed when I realized that despite only having 110 HP as a Stage 1 (decent these days but not too great), his first attack did only 20 damage for 2 energy. His second attack however, did a whopping 30 damage and a possible 20 more with a flipped heads for 3 energy (1 metal, 2 colorless)!! Now, I’m not sure whether you played much during the good ol’ Neo days, but this guy was a HUGE player in the metagame. In fact, the first major tournament I won was with a Dark Blastoise/Steelix deck. The Pokemon TCG has evolved from a game of slow set-ups and beefy attacks to a game of speed. “What is the most efficient way of getting set-up the fastest and doing the most damage?” is now the question most players currently think of while deck-building. If you’re not setting up by turn 3 or 4, you most likely lost the game. With the loss of DRE, Scramble, and Boost this format's going to rely on massive energy acceleration to set-up ASAP. I see Togetic playing a huge part next year just based on the fact that it can be easily tech'ed into just about any deck and can get yout he 3-4 energy necessary to begin attacking. With that said, if you don't play some sort of energy acceleration or you're deck sets up after T3-4, you probably should rethink your deck's strategy. Are Pokemon on Steroids? I’m sorry, but Pokemon nowadays seriously need to be DNA-tested for some performance enhancing substance. Instead of investigating Barry Bonds for perjury charges pertaining to steroids in Major League Baseball, the federal government should be examining why Pokemon have become so much stronger in the recent years ;x. I mean, come on… when I first saw Infernape D/P I did at least 5 double-takes before I realized he actually did 90 damage for 2 energy??!! I couldn’t believe it. Forget NG Steelix, this Infernape did 70 damage more for the same energy requirement. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “What’s up with that?” In fact, if Mr. Seinfeld was a Pokemon player, I’m sure he’d base his sitcom on the fact that Infernape did 90 damage for only “2” – count that, 2- energies. I don’t know if you realize this folks, but if the flame monkey had come out even 3 years ago, he would have been considered a card from the gods. However, in this world that we call “HP-on modified,” Infernape is merely another Pokemon doing insane amounts of damage as fast as you can say, “What happened to this game?” If you’re going to play to win in this game, you’re going to need to play something exactly like this card. Which is why I’m going to go out on a limb and say Infernape MD will be a key card in the next format. Now, before all you Kingdra fanboys start e-mailing me about how “the King” is going to win every Battle Road from Maine to Alaska, I will provide you with the next segment… The Importance of Weaknesses Well, this section is going to be easy. Weaknesses will not play ANY part in the metagame of the future. You know why? It’s because we’ll all be OHKO’ing each other until one of us says, “That’s my last prize.” As you can see, if anyone tells you to not play a deck because of weakness, you need to tell that person to go climb up a tree and wait until Worlds 2009 is over. But this isn’t because of my own personal opinion, it’s because somehow all of these new fandangled Pokemon have received +20, +30, or even +10 weaknesses. First of all, how am I supposed to metagame against something with a weakness of only +20? Second of all, even if I do, since every Pokemon since the start of DP has attacks that can do 2,0000,00000 damage on the 3rd turn, why even metagame for weakness? But seriously folks, this change in weakness has caused the once-normal style of weakness metagaming to be completely lost. This leads to stronger and more dominant archetypes. Just look at Gardevoir/Gallade. How are you supposed to metagame that thing? Archetypes in DP-on The final section in my article for those who kept on reading (sorry hah ;x). Those decks that are able to call themselves archetypes in the next format are those which either a) everyone plays for fear of losing or b) saw a list on Pokegym and decided to play it because they went to sleep at 5 am the morning of Nationals. But honestly, if I see anything CLOSE to what I saw with Gardevoir/Gallade next year I’m seriously going to jump off a cliff. **There’s no reason to play an archetype next year** Even if you just skimmed this article, I hope the one thing you get out of this is that the next format is going to consist of decks that are of fast and powerful decks that have never been seen before in the Pokemon TCG; but the format is going to be so diverse that it won’t matter. I’m sure some of you will play similar-styled decks, but it’s not going to be such a problem as it has been in the past. I mean, how can you NOT love the new format? I can count maybe, 10 decks off the top of my head that will see lots of play in DP-on and I’m sure there will probably be at least 20 or so different decks that get tested during Battle Roads. But please, don’t play something you don’t want because you’re afraid of losing the tournament; play something you enjoy. Have you ever heard the saying, “Do what you enjoy” in reference to a career decision? Well, this is pretty cliché, but that applies to the Pokemon TCG, as well. Now that your eyes are bleeding, I decided to list a couple of decks that I predict will see some play once the new format rolls around, so enjoy – - Note – I’m not including any Legends Awakened cards since they obviously have not been played with in any tournament scene yet. Magmortar/Leafeon – This deck saw some play this year, but I believe more people will start playing it once Gardevoir/Gallade dies out. It has the ability to energy accelerate and do massive damage, something I didn’t talk about much but will be a large part of the metagame. Infernape MD – Yes, I know I love this card too much but it’s attack is SO good I just can’t stop thinking about it ;x. 40 damage for each energy I discard? I can do as much as I want? Wow. Combo this with Typhlosion or play it with Togekiss and you got a nice deck. Gardevoir – Instead of complaining about it’s enormous player base, why not embrace it by using it next year? I know, fat chance but this deck is still going to be good. Psychic Lock takes out a lot of decks and it’s power is lovely. Kabutops/Fossils – Yup. Kabutops WILL be a player next year. His body is so great that I was literally pee’ing my pants trying to topdeck energies so I could attack it with my Monferno. It hinders the ability of every deck to setup. Oh, and Omastar rules. Empoleon/whatever – Yes, Empoleon has been the epitome of consistency the past year or so, and he will continue with that title on to next year. Speed spread will be a largely-used strategy next year (so stack up on your Potions....not ;x). Torterra – Did any of you actually know this was a good card? Probably, but I didn’t. Not until I noticed DP Torterra had a sweet attack, anyway. Combine this with Sceptile to do 100 damage for 2 energy while simultaneously healing your bench from Empoleon’s wrath. Blissey - A 130HP tank that can attack for 1 energy? Yea, he's stll going to be good. Even though Blissey loses out on DRE/Scramble/Boost which hurts it more than other decks, playing it with an energy accelerator (Leafeon lv. x?) will mean it can still battle with the big boys. Anyway, there you have it. Good luck to you all next year and I KNOW it’s going to be a great year for being creative with your decks.