Fort Wayne kicked off as the first Regional of the season for a lot of players, and in the process took away a bit of focus from the Standard format. But now it’s over and the proper hunt for strong Standard decks can begin.
Now, deck builders will not just have to cope with the results of the World Championships but also the loss of a full year’s worth of sets that eliminates not only a good number of archetypes but also a few important staples.
This article is going to be dedicated to the new shape of Standard: how the rules of deck building have changed, what their impact is on general game play, what kind of engines we’ll see more or less of and what it means for the established archetypes. Basically, a survival guide to those of you only used to the circumstances of last format.
Let’s start with the biggest change to the game in my opinion…
No more VS Seeker
Ever since VS Seeker came out it was thrown into just about every non-Vileplume deck with 4 copies, no questions asked. It let most decks use their discard pile as a resource, welcoming the option to discard a supporter that wasn’t in there so that VS Seeker could reuse it in future turns. Before Tapu Lele GX was even released, the existence of VS Seeker allowed 1-of supporters to thrive, as you could expect to have as many as 4 more opportunities to use it once it hit the discard pile.
Most pre-rotation decks had Supporter layouts that looked a little bit like this:
4 Professor Sycamore
4 VS Seeker
1-of various supporters
For the last few formats this was shaken up a bit due to the introduction of Trashalanche, which means VS Seeker counts often went down to 3 to make space for more actual copies of the supporters, but the rough layout was the same.
Now, this has to change drastically if you want your deck to retain the same consistency. If you run two copies of a Supporter, you’re only going to ever be able to play it at most twice in a game, and often even less. This has far reaching consequences for each of the staple supporters as well as for your 1-ofs.
Take a deck of the past such as Vespiquen, for example. Between 4 Sycamore and 4 VS Seeker, its goal was often to use Professor Sycamore as many times as possible to get Pokémon in the discard and find the necessary basics, Stage 1s and Double Colorless Energy. Without VS Seeker, this type of deck can’t run through itself like it used to, since there’s only 4 copies of Professor Sycamore there.
(I’m aware that Vespiquen has rotated with Ancient Origins, but this example is really about the style of play rather than the specific deck or its goals)
The limitation to 4 N is also very impactful. It’s going to be harder to have access to one late in the game just when your opponent goes down to 1 or 2 prizes. You’re just going to have to have it on hand when you need it, or you’ll have to grab it with Tapu Lele. And oftentimes N is your go-to safe supporter early in the game when you don’t want to play Professor Sycamore but you do want a fresh hand of cards.
There’s also the very real problem of running out of draw supporters. With VS Seeker in the format, you could feasibly discard one or two supporters while playing Professor Sycamore and be confident that you had plenty of outs left in your deck. If you were to play Professor Sycamore to discard a single N, you’d have 3 of each of these left as well as 4 VS Seeker for a total of 10 outs. If you do the same thing now, you’ve only got six left.
You can attempt to bridge this gap by playing additional draw supporters such as Hala, Sophocles or Wicke, but there’s a reason these cards weren’t played before rotation: they each have significant drawbacks of their own that hurt your consistency.
This is not the first time the player base has been forced to adapt to a sudden drop in flexibility and consistency because of a rotation. At the start of the 2011-2012 season, all of the pre-Black and White sets were rotated, getting rid of Professor Oak’s New Theory and a lot of other HGSS era supporters. The only good draw supporters left were (deja vu) Professor Juniper and N. There was no VS Seeker, so if you wanted to have more than 8 draw supporters in your deck, you would have to play subpar cards like Bianca and Cheren. How did players deal with it back then?
Those that didn’t want to use Bianca and Cheren had one more option: play another card that would find you a good supporter. Back then this was Random Receiver, a bit of an unreliable card, but at least if you played 4 of them you would know for sure that you’d have 12 cards in your deck that would get you a whole new hand.
The “equivalent” of Random Receiver for this format is Tapu Lele. While not being a Supporter itself, it finds one from the deck. The unfortunate but likely reality is that players are going to have to play 4 Tapu Lele in most decks to maximize consistency.
The rotation of VS Seeker is also going to hamper your ability to use Guzma to full effect, even if you play 4 now (which you should). It’s very likely that throughout the game you will be forced to discard Guzma at least once or twice, but that’s quite alright as long as you have it the times you do need it. Still, it’s important to remember that just like with other supporters, once it’s in the discard it’s gone for good.
The same goes for other utility supporters you might want to play, such as Fisherman and Team Flare Grunt. There is still a minor argument for running 1-of supporters due to Tapu Lele, but most of their strength is gone now as the chances are you won’t have them when you need them. The exception to this is Brigette, which is too powerful to not play just for the sake of your first turn.
In conclusion, for most decks the basic structure of their supporters should be something like:
4 Professor Sycamore
With the amount of Tapu Lele upped from 2-3 to 3-4
I could go on for hours about the effects of losing VS Seeker but this about covers the basics. Now I’m going to cover two kinds of decks that we’ll probably be seeing coming forth: decks that simply follow the old style of building decks but replace VS Seeker other with cards to kind of make up for it, and decks that build a more intricate engine.
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