Title: Mario: Why? Date: 10/20/07 Written by: Kant S. (desert eagle) and Bobby M. (Penguin Master) With Input from: Kyle S. (k-psycho), Zach F. (Rambo1000) and Michael P. (SHPanda) Picture and input by: Josef B. (Bolt) Intro A lot of us here on Pokegym have voiced that we think Mario is not a Tier 1 or even Tier 2 deck. Since many people are getting the impression that we are just saying this because Mario wasn’t invented by an “elite”, we want to make it clear that this is not true. This article will enlighten the community to see things from the other point of view on Mario. Stage 2 decks can’t be “speed” decks and still be consistent. Mario NEEDS you to set up a Stage 2 to back up Lucario, or it won’t be effective. Common sense and tens of thousands of games of playtesting played by thousands of different people show that a deck can’t consistently set up Stage 2s at will on the first to fourth turns of this game, unless the deck is a setup deck. Because of this, Mario requires a lot of luck to get your “fast“ setup enough times to top cut a tournament. Every speed deck in the history of the game has been quick basics (Haymaker, Zapdos ex) or fast Stage 1s with high damage output or disruption effects (Banette, Medicham). This leads to my next point. Stage 2 decks need a setup man. Every sucessful Stage 2 deck from the Rare Candy era and on needs a setup man to properly get going and execute its strategy consistently. Metanite had Castform for massive draw. LBS had Pidgeot to search for anything it needed. Blaze had Dunsparce and Delcatty. Mario, on the other hand, expects you to draw into your candies and evolutions without the use of any setup powers or attacks, using only your limited draw power as support. This being said, you can expect the deck to stall out and miss the setup more often than not. Limited Space for Draw and Tricks. Machamp, being a Stage 2, not only takes up the space that his line requires, but also Rare Candies that are useless on anything else in the deck. This leaves a huge space constraint on draw and tricks, or trump cards. The Mario player is essentially forced to choose between consistency and having outs against difficult matchups. The Mario lists posted on the Pokegym seem to favor tricks, leaving them very inconsistent, using only a few draw cards. Inefficient use of resources. The strategy of this deck is apparently to attack with Lucario and follow it up with a cheap 70 damage from Machamp. To pull this off, you have to get a Turn 2 Lucario AND a Machamp set up within the first three turns, relying on your three draw cards to get you your four Rare Candies, without the aid of a setup Pokemon. You go through so much trouble to do a whopping… 70 damage. You have to burn a Rare Candy, a Stage 2, and a fairly large chunk of luck (to draw into it) to do… 70 damage. There are other Pokemon that can dish out damage much more easily and a lot more consistently, using less resources and leaving space for more important cards. Machamp’s other attack does 60 half the time for THREE energy, meaning you either need to get lucky, or suffer even more inconsistency and even LESS damage output. Simplicity. In his article located in the Feature Articles section, Tom W. says that “Mario has quickly become very popular for its simplicity, power, and inexpensiveness.” Many, however, find the simplicity of the deck to be detrimental rather than beneficial. Mario does not use strategic placing of damage counters, energy acceleration, or a complicated lock strategy. There is no way to add surprise techs or extra lines without sacrificing even more consistency. Therefore, the deck is extremely easy to predict. Decks like Metanite and LBS could use a variety of different Pokemon to cover weaknesses or counter specific threats. Destiny could play virtually anything with Mew ex, leaving the opponent constantly off-guard to anything that was added in. In fact, the reason most players don’t worry about losing games to a Riolu is because they know that if they get past that fatal flip, Mario is considerably easy to outplay. Without tricks or sufficient comeback ability, we must especially consider… The Luck Factor. It should be apparent that above average luck is needed to win big events with Mario. For some reason, many high-level players seem to have atrocious luck. Combined with all the arguments listed above, it becomes obvious that Mario is a poor deck choice. One reason why Mario has won the Battle Roads it has is because of the sheer amount of people trying to play the deck in weaker areas. You don’t see Mario winning in Florida, even though Blissey is RAMPANT there. Mario doesn’t sweep in the Midwest or California, two of the other strongest metagames in the United States. Also, luck is bound to grant you some key flips, sometimes ending games before the opponent even gets to draw a card. Many games won Turn 1 by Mario would have otherwise been losses due to their lack of setup. Mario's very few good showings at big events also lack credibility. The Mario player needed FIVE T1 Riolu flips to win the grinder, the odds of which are worse than 1/2000. That's some ridiculous luck needed to do well in that event. What people don’t consider is the even greater number of players playing Mario and going 0-X and 1-X. A truly good deck rarely has people with a losing record at tournaments (unless they run into a lot of mirrors or hard counters, the latter of which shouldn’t happen to a good deck very often). For example, Ramen TRUK (Lucario/Blissey) didn’t see much play at BRs because it was kept under the radar, but the handful of players who played it either won or came close, ending the string of events with a record of 64-4, in addition to a few unrecorded wins. Lack of synergy Although Lucario can be considered an efficient attacker, there is almost no synergy to be found between it and Machamp. Synergy, or two Pokemon’s ability to complement each other, is the key to winning games. Ambush, for example, used Prinplup and Empoleon to put damage all around the field, and then take multiple prizes at once using Marowak. Rock-Lock, which was prevalent during DX-On, combined the Poke-Bodies of Dark Ampharos and Dark Tyranitar to hit every stage of evolution with additional damage. Machamp, however, does not assist Lucario in spreading damage, nor does it cover any weaknesses. It is a bulky Stage 2 that deals far below average damage 50% of the time, in contrast to Lucario’s fast damage output. The only real combo between the two is their common type: fighting. But even this leads to problems. While there ARE decks that do operate with no synergy (Medicham/Hariyama in the past and now, Lucario/Blissey), these decks provide two amazing turn 2 starts, as getting either of the Pokemon out turn 2 is a great start making them pretty much a combination of two T2 decks. Unfortunately, Machamp doesn’t fit that T2 bill. Mono-weakness to a popular type, and no weakness coverage. This made even less sense last format because of the popularity of Mew ex and Banette ex. Those cards have rotated, but psychic has always been a popular type, and probably will continue to be. Having a single weakness leaves the deck with an autoloss to a fast psychic deck. In addition, Machamp does absolutely nothing to account for the deck‘s single weakness. Lucario is already strong against fighting-weak Pokemon; it would clearly make more sense to play support that either has a different weakness, or covers the weakness of Lucario. So, we must ask ourselves… Why Machamp? Infinitely superior alternatives exist. In Economics, when one company can produce the same amount of a good faster and more efficiently, it is called an “absolute advantage”. In Pokemon, the good that we are trying to produce is KOs or damage output, and there are several Pokemon that deal faster and more efficient damage than Machamp. Blissey is a Stage 1 that can dish out faster damage that increases over time and allows you to power up something else. Dodrio pumps out more net damage and the damage spread aspect synergizes with Lucario quite nicely. Both these decks consist of Stage 1s, meaning Rare candy is not needed; without Rare Candy, there is more room for tricks and draw cards to increase the consistency and flexibility of the deck. Empoleon is efficient because its Stage 1 is an excellent damage spreader. Setting up a Prinplup is not hard, and getting the Empoleon out is nearly inevitable with the strong engine that Empoleon decks play. It is possible for Empoleon/Lucarioto play a stronger engine because the spread synergy allows it to do well without cards like Pluspower and Strength Charm. All of these decks have the same capability of winning early, but unlike Mario, they have a strong strategy for backup. Everyone agrees that Lucario is a good card. But even playing Lucario all by itself, combined with tricks and a consistent Turn 2 engine, is more effective than playing Machamp. In Conclusion These reasons are why we believe Mario to not be a good deck. I hope this article dispels myths about people thinking this is not a deck simply because it wasn’t invented by an “elite” or because people are “scared of getting T1’d” or whatever other theories are flying around. We simply choose our decks based on what gives us the best chance of winning, and from that point of view, we feel Mario would rarely, if ever, be the best choice to play at a tournament. Mario is a plumber, not a deck. Let’s leave it that way.