See the Forest for the Trees – Making Virizion Flourish in the New Format

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The grandeur of the upcoming format.

This month many writers have done a good job showcasing the upcoming format. The main decks have been hit and discussed in depth and people are discovering some decks aren’t as good as they seem and others have untapped potential.

Before I go any further, I should apologize for not having this article up on the 27th (hashtag-Freshman problems). I’m a brand new college student and my school’s internet isn’t so easy to access. At first I thought it was just down for maintenance but as it turns out I can’t get on at all. Oh boy. But I digress!

This format is going to stay with us for a long time. Japan’s Battle Boost is the next set scheduled to hit the the world outside of Japan and the only card of significance in it might be Energy Switch (and that isn’t even confirmed). Gothitelle is coming back too, but I think it will be largely irrelevant with Virizion EX being such a big player in the metagame. Battle Boost is basically Call of Legends with much, much cooler art. In fact, the art is the only reason I MUST have those new Garchomps.

But to the competitive player it really is just another big reprint set.

This means the current format will be the only format for quite some time.

My view of the format can be summed up in a few sentences. Literally everything viable last format still has potential or is just basically unchanged. Silver Bangle has replaced Hypnotoxic Laser in Plasma decks as a main source of damage. The new decks, Genesect/Virizion and Tool Drop (Trubbish/Sigilyph) are overhyped decks people just want to be good (people crave new things to build in stale formats).

All of those decks are covered in other articles by other writers.

Where John Kettler gave you a macro look at the NXD-on format I will be giving you a microscopic analysis at Virizion EX, a card having an array of impacts of the decks people are playing so far.

The reason Virizion EX is such a big deal is due to the nature of the card. It’s very good. There isn’t a better way to put it.

Since it showed its face as a Japanese card in North America Virizion has been Genesect’s understudy. For a long time the two cards, Genesect EX and Virizion EX, were coupled with G Booster to create the Virizion/Genesect deck we know today. It won a large Japanese event, and if you’ve been reading my work for quite some time you know how I feel about decks that win in Japan.

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Overhyped, as usual.

Overhyped. Always. Even with the advent of the Plasma cards, their inherent synergy never became as dominant as people predicted.

Virizion/Genesect is a very narrow deck, as many people are now seeing. At first, Virizion EX‘s uses were almost as narrow as the titular deck it was included in. It was hyped in Hydreigon decks as a way to control Hypnotoxic Laser damage and I can confidently say it does so very effectively. That will be one of the decks I cover today that does, like every other list below, include at least 1 Virizion EX.

After Hydreigon finished well in a Japanese tournament Virizion EX appeared in other decks as a method to control Hypnotoxic Laser. This is the main reason you want to play Virizion EX if you don’t intend to use it as an Energy accelerator.

The reason I feel like I can devote an article to this card is its inherent versatility. Cards that can be both the focus of a deck and provide support as a tech are rare and historically very good. They also tend to be very highly played due to their myriad of uses. Flygon from Holon Phantoms is one of the few cards I remember having so many uses (an Energy accelerator for Delta Pokemon, a main attacker in Flygon decks, and a counter to Flaridos with Holon Energy GL).

Virizion is a very unique card. It can be whichever you want it to be; either a Hypnotoxic Laser counter or an Energy accelerator – or even both in Grass decks. For this simple reason it is my favorite card in Plasma Blast and maybe even my favorite card since Kingdra Prime.

It clearly has all the traits of a legendary card, but on its own is not clearly broken in its niche, like Deoxys EX is. For quite awhile I have believed this game to be on the downhill, the power level of Game Freak’s monsters spiraling out of control. Yet, in a surprising show of restraint right before Pokemon X and Y, Plasma Blast is proving to be a set almost dead set on balancing the game. In the age of modern Pokemon, printing direct counters to problem cards was almost unheard of – at least until Silver Bangle, Silver Mirror, and Virizon EX.

I’m extremely thankful that they chose to do some balancing, especially since we are going to be stuck with this combination of sets for double the usual time (assuming Battle Boost doesn’t bring anything important to the table).

Alright, time to move on to the meat of the article.

First, I’ll hit the obvious. Virizion/Genesect – the updated version.

Virizion/Genesect

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See the forest for the trees – turn 1 Virizion should not be your objective.

Virizion and Genesect alone no longer cut it. The Colress Machine package for Energy acceleration turns you into a glass cannon. You will consistently attack quickly but you will burn out of steam equally fast.

In testing I’ve learned that trying to attack only with things that need to be powered up by Virizion’s Emerald Slash just isn’t a legitimate strategy to win you a drawn out game. I like Henry’s approach to building Virizion/Genesect. The Drifblim allows you to take down Plasma with relative ease.

The Derail Drifblim from Plasma Blast can OHKO a Deoxys while holding a Silver Bangle, probably for free too thanks to its Ability. The other DRX Drifblim is a perfect compliment to the Derail attack of the PLB Drifblim, potentially doing 200 or more for one Energy after there are a few Special Energy in the opponent’s discard. The best part is, this forces them to play around Drifblim’s attack. Putting your opponent in the difficult spot of Junipering discarding 2 Specials or potentially losing the game outright is always strong.

However I’m not a huge fan of spending 8 spots on Drifblim and its lower evolution. Drifblim has limited use against non-Plasma decks and decks that don’t play 12+ Special Energy. With so many spaces devoted to Drifblim you will be playing with lots of dead weight against every deck those cards are ineffective against. Along with being dead weight they are also taking up space that would make our deck more effective against the format as a whole. Against a non-Plasma deck or even mirror you would effectively be trying to win with a barebones Virizion/Genesect list which people seem to agree is not that great. While the synergy is strong in the basic list the power just isn’t there.

Not to say Drifblim isn’t good; it’s especially good at what it does. However I think a 3-3 line is plenty. Even a 2-2 does work against Plasma. So long as they don’t play Heatran EX (seriously, 3 Energy and 3 Deoxys EX just runs through any basic Genesect deck) we should be able to finish them with our Grass EXs.

In my last article I recommended Plasma Badge and Colress Machine to accelerate the deck, but to play the full package we had to strip the deck down to the basics. While fast, this version of the deck lacks the power and suffers in the consistency department mid to late game. Yet, as anyone who plays the deck without the Plasma package knows, the deck has a horrible turn one, especially going second. We really can’t do anything on our first turn other than attach an Energy.

This is AWFUL. Going second against Plasma can mean a death sentence if they get to attack twice before you can Emerald Slash. Getting turn 3 Virizion EX pretty much makes every matchup unfavorable. Getting any amount of bad luck early with this deck can taint your entire game.

My solution is Tropical Beach. It doesn’t accelerate our Energy but it gives us something to do turn 1 in builds of the deck where there is a 0% chance of you attacking instead. Unfortunately this solution is far from perfect. It doesn’t get you much closer to being where we want to be turn 2, nor does it help if we can’t get a Virizion EX with an Energy on it during the first turn.

My best list is below. It uses both Bouffalant and Drifblim to attack along with 2 Genesect EX. 4 Virizion EX is needed as the deck is still focused around Emerald Slash’s acceleration. However this version is much less dependent on Genesect as an attacker giving you some breathing room if you don’t get that oh-so-desirable turn 2 Emerald Slash on a Genesect.


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