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"The Home Brewery" - Stepping Outside the Box to Make a Competitive Deck

Caleb Gedemer ex gardevoir gx klefki mew mewtwo Revitilizer tauros unown vespiquen volcanion yveltal zebstrika zoroark

"The Home Brewery"

Stepping Outside the Box to Make a Competitive Deck and Fresh Honey from the Beehive

Introduction

Hey y’all! I’m pleased to be back to the keyboard again, plugging away for Dead Draw Gaming. This time around I made a post on one of the major competitive Pokemon Trading Card Game Facebook groups asking about what I should write about. “Designing Competitive Home Brew Decks” was a unanimous standout from the poll, so that’s what I’ll be covering today. Most of you didn’t give serious replies, and to be honest, I’m not even sure if the winning vote was a legitimate reply itself. However, I still think this topic will be interesting nonetheless, so let’s go. You asked for it, albeit perhaps jokingly, so here it is. Enjoy!

 

 

What is a “brew”?

My friends and I have lovingly been using this word for years, and it’s nowadays kind of a comical term for just saying a “good deck”, but it’s original iteration was more down the lines of a “secret”, or “unconventional” deck.

 

An Example: “25.net”

To give you a fantastic idea of making a deck like this tick, I’d like to walk you through the process of making one of my favorite decks of all time, a deck that my friends and I (most notably fellow Dead Draw Gaming writer, and top-rated player Ryan Grant) piloted to multiple City Championship wins and top placements in the 2014-2015 season.

 

While I don’t have the greatest recollection of the original idea, this deck started in my friend Franco Llamas III’s basement, two nights before our first City tournament of the year. At the time, Donphan decks were all the rage. The deck was by and far the most popular archetype out there, and if your deck didn’t beat it, you were in for a rough time. When M Manectric-EX was released, my testing partners and I were big fans of it right out of the gate, but obviously, Donphan was a glaring problem. We wanted to get M Manectric-EX to work with Fighting Pokemon, another team-favorite thus far that season, but it kept losing to Donphan.

 

 

Here’s where a nifty idea floated into our minds, Drifblim… Along with two Enhanced Hammers, and a Korrina engine, this deck was looking better and better by the minute. The original game plan to beat a Donphan deck was something like this:

 

  • Open with Hawlucha, or Landorus-EX, and start off the seven-Prize game
  • Hawlucha serves as a wall while you power up Terrakions to attack with, and Landorus-EX can knock out Robo Substitutes, as well as set up better math for knockouts on Donphans on your opponent’s Bench
  • Next up is Terrakion, and along with Lysandre, it can prey heavily on Donphans, the math is simple, Retaliate with a Muscle Band and a Strong Energy is enough for a knockout, but that can be simplified if damage already exists on a Donphan from a Hammerhead attack
  • Land Crush is the next piece of the puzzle, so long as you can find another Lysandre or VS Seeker to pull up yet another Donphan
  • By now your opponent’s setup is extremely weak, and he or she should have some combination of three Special Energy in the Discard, be that Double Colorless Energy, or Strong Energy
  • Drifblim can clean up, and like with Terrakion, it will generally survive two attacks
  • If you use a combination of two Drifblim, one Hawlucha, 1 Landorus-EX, and two Terrakion in a game, you’ll be looking at a seven-Prize attacking combination that will be extremely hard for a Donphan player to beat, and that’s how I, for one, ended up with a perfect record against Donphan in tournament play with this deck

 

 Thoughts on the Process

Clearly, the above concept was one that worked out in the end, but I’d like to delve into how you can do this with other cards. To start off, like I said earlier, we took two powerful concepts and smashed them into one. To shore up a bad match-up, we added in yet another attacking Pokemon option, and the rest is history. Now all “brew” decks don’t work like this, but a lot of the time they do. Simply starting with one powerful Pokemon in its own light is a great beginning spot.

 

In my opinion, decks like this try to do the impossible, run with positive match-ups against every deck. I’m happy to say that the deck above, for one, truly had this capability in its day.

Consistency was its main issue, and was ultimately the reason we cast it aside in the end. Regardless, on a good day, it was nearly unbeatable.

 

 

To reiterate, making a successful deck comes down to finding a strong Pokemon, or concept, and building around it to patch weaknesses that that star might have on its own. There are so many different types of Pokemon such that there is almost always a combination of colors that can stack up against just about anything and take wins.

 

A "Brew" to Share?

Our current Standard format is really worked over as far as “secret” combinations go, and just about everything is out in the open, and already tried. However, Vespiquen is a powerful card in its own right that can be paired with just about everything. Bee Revenge is an insanely powerful attack, and along with the right supplemental attackers, the bees are still as strong as ever, and come in a neatly packaged box with few bad match-ups.

 

Vespiquen’s Vengeance-esque attack is naturally strong, and towards the end of a game can be hitting in the high 200’s as far as damage goes. When you can scrape together an early game dependent on two-hit knockouts, and move into a full-blown onslaught in the late game, that’s pretty neat. Now, there are sometimes “trouble Pokemon” that can pressure the deck to the breaking point, and for that reason, the queen bee appreciates all the help she can get from a variety of tech Pokemon to make things easier.

 

 

Banette has an amazing Ability, Tool Concealment, that can come up big against many of the "Big Basic" Pokemon decks, like Darkrai-EX, for example, and help shore up the numbers for a knockout. Eevee has some fantastic Evolutions in Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon, that add an additional type to Vespiquen’s Grass text, and helps the knockouts start coming.

 

Zebstrika shores up a match up that is sometimes challenging, in that of Yveltal decks. Not only that, but the zebra completely demolishes M Rayquaza-EX decks, although that deck is already easily beaten. Zoroark has become a staple conclusion in this deck, since it serves as a perfect supplemental attacker and makes your opponents be more careful with the usage of their Bench space.

 

All in all, Vespiquen decks come with a solid foundation with a fabulous attacker, and it’s really up to you, the player, to decide what else to use. There are options available to the deck to beat just about anything. The sky’s the limit, as long as you know what you’re trying to do!

 

Skeleton List

Pokemon -- 23

Trainers -- 27

Energy -- 4

3 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

1  Tauros-GX SUM 100

2  Zorua BKT 89

2 Zoroark BKT 91

4 Acro Bike

1  Revitalizer

2  Special Charge

4 Ultra Ball

4 Double Colorless Energy

3  Klefki STS 80

4  Combee AOR 9

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

4 Unown AOR 30

4 VS Seeker

2 Forest of Giant Plants

2 Lysandre

2 N

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Float Stone

 

 

Total -- 54

 

So here you have what I believe are “needed” cards in any Vespiquen deck in the Standard format. Additionally, I think that twenty-eight Pokemon in total, so obviously, that’s where most of the spots here need to be filled.

 

My Current List

Pokemon -- 28

Trainers -- 28

Energy -- 4

3 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

1  Tauros-GX SUM 100

2  Zorua BKT 89

2 Zoroark BKT 91

3 Klefki STS 80

4 Combee AOR 9

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

2 Blitzle BKP 48

2 Zebstrika BKP 49

1 Mew-EX DRX 46

4 Unown AOR 30

4 Acro Bike

1  Revitalizer

2  Special Charge

1 Super Rod

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Forest of Giant Plants

2 Lysandre

2 N

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Float Stone

4 Double Colorless Energy

 

Total -- 60

 

 

I’ve been moving things around in this list for a while now, and it’s been amazing. I started with one of the more popular Eevee Evolution lists, but grew dissatisfied with them as they do not bring very much to the table, in my opinion. Out of the crew, Vaporeon is by and far the best option, however, with Volcanion’s early game quickness, an Eevee can just get sent up for a knockout with a Lysandre, which is troubling. Aside from that, it’s hard to get an Eevee on the Bench sometimes, when you’re trying to get as many Pokemon in the Discard as fast as possible, and using a flurry of Shaymin-EX, and Unown. Outside of the Volcanion match-up, the Eevees generally never have any use at all, and are just Discard fodder.

 

 

After moving on from Eevees, I tried the often included Zebstrika, once again. While it’s use is limited, too, to just that of Shaymin-EX knockouts, and some type-specific match-ups, I think it’s a great inclusion alongside Vespiquen and Zoroark.

 

Mew-EX is insane, and definitely flips the M Mewtwo-EX match-up on its back. Knockouts are pretty simple to come by when copying Bee Revenge with Mew-EX, and taking your damage output to the next level with a newfound Weakness typing.

 

The last Pokemon I want to talk about is Tauros-GX, while I’ve had mixed feelings about this card, I do actually think overall that it’s pretty sweet. This deck struggles to do a lot of damage early on, so Shaymin-EX tends to use Sky Return quite a bit. Tauros-GX makes for the perfect Pokemon to promote after a Sky Return, and it makes the going super difficult for your opponent. If he or she decides to attack, then you have a potent option to more than likely swing for a knockout of your own, and get the ball running in the Prize race. I just love having a beefy wall to send up after attacking with Shaymin-EX, and it makes it all worth it for me, even with the two Prize bounty after a knockout from your opponent.

 

When it comes to Trainers, I think just about everything is self-explanatory, however, Super Rod takes a little bit of a rant. Ryan Grant had some nice things to say about this Item card when I first decided to pick this deck up after some angst directed towards it. He raved about the Rod, and said that it was definitely an upgrade over the second Revitalizer. While Vespiquen is your main attacker, Super Rod can take back important pieces of other attackers. While it does decrease your damage output, when you put Klefki or Unown back into your deck, you can simply reuse their Abilities and get back to that stomping ground you were swinging for a turn before, or so. Klefki’s Ability is obviously clutch against M Pokemon-EX decks, so even getting it back for extra usage sometimes against those big critters is an added bonus. Overall, I just like that Super Rod has added utility as opposed to the strictly green rules placed on Revitalizer.

 

Match-ups

I won’t get deep into match-ups today, but some trends are obvious from looking at the gauntlet. Ability lock can be a problem for Vespiquen, so decks with Garbodor and Silent Lab are points of concern. M Gardevoir-EX plays Rattata, so it can remove Klefki, and with its massive HP, that’s another thing to scowl at. Speedy decks with lots of HP like Volcanion are troublesome, since Vespiquen can’t always do enough damage to keep things competitive in the early game.

 

 

  • Darkrai-EX | Even
  • Decidueye-GX / Vileplume | Unfavorable
  • Lapras-GX | Highly Favorable
  • M Gardevoir-EX (79) | Even
  • M Mewtwo-EX (64) | Slightly Favorable
  • M Rayquaza-EX (76) | Highly Favorable
  • Volcanion | Even
  • Yveltal | Slightly Favorable

 

Conclusion

Alrighty guys, that’s all for today! I hope you enjoyed my first “ask the reader” piece; I plan to do a few more of these in the future. Good luck “brewing”, and be sure to check out Vespiquen if you haven’t already. As always, I hope right after this you go and browse Dead Draw Gaming for your Pokemon Trading Card Game needs, they’ve got amazing prices. Now go forth and conquer, Trainers, see ya next time!

 



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