...but I wasn't actually arrested,
that's a joke.
But I was serious about what made
it to Worlds, and M Audino-EX I suppose deserves its
spot on the list just as much as the last few cards this
week...which your mileage may vary a bit. In any case, M
Audino-EX is probably a unique pic if only because it
started out in Japan as nothing more than the main
headliner for what you might call a "structured deck" -
the M Audino-EX Mega Battle deck.
You know, like the Hyper Metal
Chain deck that Dialga-EX and Aegislash-EX from Phantom
Forces came from originally. Such are English releases.
So what makes M Audino-EX so
special? Well like I said, it's the deck that won
Worlds. Shintaro Ito from Japan ended up taking the
title home with him when he beat out not just runner-up
Cody Walinski but several other noteworthy competitors
running decks like Night March, Trevenant/Vileplume, and
even Greninja BREAK. This deck was completely under the
radar up until the Championship, and considering M
Audino-EX's stats, it's probably not that surprising.
At first glance, M Audino-EX is
just a 220 HP Mega Evolution (with a Spirit Link,
thankfully) that has Magical Symphony, a 3-for-110
attack that can snipe for 50 if you played a Supporter
for the turn. Really doesn't seem all that special - and
that's probably why nobody really played it. She's
nothing particularly special, but if you cater a deck to
her particular strengths and compensate with additional
techs, you might see the same success that Shintaro did.
Here's the basic set-up of the
deck: Shintaro ran a 4-3 line-up on Audino-EX and M
Audino-EX, as his main attacker. For draw power, he
implemented 2 Shaymin-EX in addition to 4 Sycamore,
along with a couple of Ns to help out. Hoopa-EX, Ultra
Ball, and Trainer's Mail were all used to search out
exactly what he needed, and VS Seeker was used to bring
back his Supporters when he needed them. From there,
it's all techs and line-ups - Magearna-EX using Mystic
Heart to protect M Audino-EX from any effects aside from
damage with attacks, Mega Turbo to accelerate Energy,
cards like Lysandre, Hex Maniac, Xerosic, and Startling
Megaphone to tilt things in his favor, and a line-up of
4 DCE and 6 Metal Energy.
You might call this M Audino-EX
Turbo, given that the goal is to get out M Audino-EX as
quickly as you can, power it up with Energy, then spam
Supporters every turn to get what you need to cripple
your opponent and win the game. There's even Pokemon
Center Lady to give M Audino-EX that extra longevity!
Now could this work with any other Mega Evolution?
Probably not to this degree, but it's worth noting that
when your deck is tailored to getting your main attacker
out and running as fast as possible, you can get away
with a lot. That's not to say the techs weren't critical
choices - Absol for instance could be used to KO Joltiks
in Night March, and Cobalion had a lot of power in
Revenge Blast if Shintaro might fall behind from a KO
himself. Even Parallel City had its uses!
So while M Audino-EX at first
glance isn't much to look at or noteworthy the way other
crazier Pokemon-EX can be, I think it's very deserving
of its spot if only to show that you should never count
out a Pokemon that looks "okay". Who knows? It might be
the one that wins the Championship.
Standard: 3.5/5 (can you believe
this thing was running around terrorizing Japan before
Expanded: 3.5/5 (I mean seriously,
that was a thing! THIS thing!)
Limited: 4/5 (ain't that just crazy
Arora Notealus: It's because of
people like Shintaro that I love the deck-building
aspect in card games. Just the ability to innovate and
build around a concept so effectively and push it into
the competitive scene, it's just...it's a skill to be
envious of, in my opinion. I mean I wouldn't have
thought M Audino-EX could win Worlds any more than
Blue-Eyes could win in Yugioh! But I guess time is
always a factor in these sorts of things...2016's been a
Weekend Thought: But enough about
me rambling, what're your thoughts on this week's cards?
Think some are too much for the list? Think there's
something better? Or maybe you think something should be
higher up on the list?
Next Time: The answer lies...in the
heat of battle.
greatest advantage in the Pokémon TCG is to be
unassuming, even underestimated, like our sixth place
finisher M Audino-EX (XY: Fates Collide
84/124). We first reviewed it
where that is just what happened: aroramage and I
underestimated these cards. They went on to become
the myth made real, the infamous “secret deck” players
always try to invent (or at least deduce the existence
of) that shows up at a major event and wins the whole
thing. In this case? M Audino-EX won
the 2016 World Championship in the Masters Division.
So let’s look at it again with fresh eyes.
is a Colorless Type; no huge bonus from exploiting
Weakness, no minor irritation from dealing with
Resistance. The anti-Colorless Pokémon effects we
have for Standard and Expanded play aren’t worth
listing, let alone using (Sprout Tower they ain’t).
It is unfortunately also one of the less supported Types
and I’m not going to mention them because none were used
in that winning deck anyway (which you can see for
None of the other useful Colorless Type attackers were
included either, and so while Shaymin-EX (XY:
Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) was in the deck, it
was the only other Colorless Type and its used off Type
in pretty much everything. The real benefit to
being Colorless for M Audino-EX is to help people
underestimate it. That might be true of being a
Pokémon-EX as well. Audino are already Basic
Pokémon so all being a Pokémon-EX automatically grants
on the positive side is extra HP and the possibility of
other better stats and/or effects. The negative
side is giving up an extra Prize when KO’d, dealing with
anti-Pokémon-EX effects, and being unable to use a few
beneficial effects. Being a Mega Evolution
actually does come with access to some Mega Evolution
support (namely Mega Turbo), but includes dealing
with anti-Mega Evolution effects and your turn ending
when you Mega Evolve unless you have the
appropriate Spirit Link attached (Audino
Spirit Link thankfully does exist). People
expect a lot out of Mega Evolutions because of what they
demand, and if they don’t deliver something mind blowing
at a glance, then it becomes easy to dismiss them.
220 HP is good -
able to survive a hit much of the time - but typical of
a Mega Evolution, so that doesn’t make M Audino-EX
stand out. Fighting Weakness stands out in the bad
way, as the Fighting Type specializes in good damage for
the Energy invested (including many strong single Energy
attacks) and stacking damage bonuses; it might require a
four or five card combo but for one Energy (usually a
Strong Energy) many of their go-to attackers can
OHKO M Audino-EX. Lack of Resistance is
typical; -20 damage against a single Type is a mild
bonus when present, but in this case its absence again
helped M Audino-EX to blend in with the masses of
other cards released this year and before. The
Retreat Cost of [CCC] stands out a bit since it is kind
of chunky and means a deck should have multiple ways of
dealing with it being stuck up front, but again this is
standing out in a manner that makes the card easier to
underestimate. The attack that proved so important
to this card’s success continues to mislead: “Magical
Symphony” requires [CCC] to use and does 110 damage to
the opponent’s Active, a decent enough return.
Should you have used a Supporter this turn (highly
probable) then you also can hit one of your opponent’s
Benched Pokémon for 50 damage. 160 for three is a good
return, but split between two targets, scoring a OHKO
requires a lot of work, too much for most competitive
decks. So how did it do so well?
I don’t know how
vital it was to the success of M Audino-EX, but
permit me to address Audino-EX quickly as well; a
Colorless Basic Pokémon-EX with 180 HP, Fighting
Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CCC], and two
attacks. The first is “Drain Slap” for [C], doing
20 damage while healing 20 from Audino-EX.
The second is “Do the Wave”, an attack with a rich
history in the Pokémon TCG and decent here: [CCC] to do
60 damage plus 10 more for each of your Benched Pokémon.
Bad if you don’t have a Bench, mediocre if you don’t
have more than two Benched Pokémon, but adequate past
that point for scoring 2HKOs. Sky Field cannot
up the damage to OHKO level against typical Basic
Pokémon-EX; even with a Muscle Band, Sky Field
in play, and a full bench Do the Wave maxes out at 160.
Yes you could use a copy of Giovanni’s Scheme to
reach that magical 180, but now we’ve gotten to such a
sizable combo level that we may as well be running M
Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 76/108,
105/108) instead, even though it’s a Mega Evolution and
not a Basic. At the same time, this is a solid
Basic Pokémon from which to Evolve M Audino-EX,
and it continues the trend of being adequate without
being overly intimidating, and being quite friendly to
the right kind of support.
and Audino-EX have all [C] Energy requirements; I
didn’t mention this with being a Colorless Type as while
it is rare for a Colorless Type to require a specific
Energy Type sometimes they do and a little more common
are all [C] Energy costs on non-Colorless Type Pokémon.
Usually [C] Energy costs are important because of being
easy to fill; in this case the [CCC] cost of the bigger
attacks can use Double Colorless Energy to fill
two-thirds of their cost, and M Audino-EX itself
can add in a Mega Turbo if it needs to prep
itself in a single turn. Since it can use any
Energy, that means it can work with most forms of Energy
acceleration, and/or take advantage of Energy Type
support. The deck that won Worlds used Magearna-EX
for its “Mystic Heart” Ability that protects Pokémon
with [M] Energy attached from the effects of your
opponent’s attacks (damage still happens). Magearna-EX
also has a solid attack and can make use of Double
Colorless Energy to speed it up. A deck that
still did well enough at Worlds to be on my radar but
didn’t make the Top 8 used M Audino-EX with
Darkness Type Pokémon in a similar manner. Now,
all of this still doesn’t explain how M Audino-EX
took first place. For that, we need to look at the
other decks in the Top 8.
as gave to look at the winning M Audino-EX deck.
The big deck to beat was Night March, which gives M
Audino-EX the chance not only for two OHKO’s in a
turn, but if you can use Lysandre to force up a
Shaymin-EX, three Prizes in a single turn!
The rest of the metagame was made up of decks that had
at least a decent Night March matchup and then were
strong in their own right… and you’ll notice that most
of them aren’t going to like M Audino-EX.
Not because it had a great matchup against all of them,
but more that it didn’t have a bad matchup against any
of them. So how has M Audino-EX done since
Worlds? Well, I don’t see any Top 8 finishes for
it since. Not that the list over at
The Charizard Lounge
is exhaustive, but it covers the majority of tournaments
for the Masters Division for the 2015-2016 season and
what has happened so far for the 2016-2017 season.
This leads me to believe M Audino-EX really needs
Night March to be one of, if not the, top deck in
the metagame. Probably also means M Audino-EX
needs the element of surprise as well. I suspect
it is still a functional deck, especially in Expanded
where Night March is still a thing and it hasn’t lost
any cards due to rotation, but unless you can creatively
reinvent it, the torch has already been passed on.
We’ve got other cards that have been overlooked… well
maybe: the entire point is if we are overlooking them,
we wouldn’t be aware of it. Cards like Pidgeot-EX
did not go by unnoticed largely because of the
success of M Audino-EX… and a certain Pidgeot fan
whom I know through various Pokémon message boards.
He made sure I gave Pidgeot-EX a serious look.
M Audino-EX won Worlds 2016 but since hasn’t been
making the top cut of major events. Likely this is
because of the specific metagame going into Worlds,
including the fact that most of us (well, me at least)
overlooked what M Audino-EX had to offer.
Now it once again seems almost perfectly average for
Standard and Expanded, and near so for Limited (Mega
Evolutions are typically good here if you can get them
out, but you need a Supporter for the Bench hit).
I will add the caveat that maybe we are being fooled
again; maybe M Audino-EX is more of a cyclical
deck; you don’t expect it so it hits you hard, then when
you do it can’t so you stop worrying about it, then it
hits you hard again because you stopped worrying about
it, etc. Probably not though.
managed eight voting points, beating out the tie we had
for seventh and eighth place by just one point, and
falling short of fifth place by a not insignificant six
points. It didn’t make my Top 10 list at all, but
I wish I would have had room for it. Winning
Worlds is quite important, even if M Audino-EX
didn’t do much before or after. There were so many
cards that did do a lot before, after, and at
Worlds that while I did include M Audino-EX on my
long list, it was in 25th place. Of course, some
of this was because I thought we had re-reviewed it
after Worlds (but we didn’t; oops!). Sixth place
seems too high for this card, but leaving it out
completely wouldn’t have been good either; glad we
looked at it again (just wish it had been in tenth