Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ralph Schuckett Interview Part 1 & 2

I recently conducted an interview with Ralph Schuckett, composer of the dub scores to Pokemon Movies 1-3. In the first part of the interview, we discuss his history as a musician:

 In the second, we cover his work on Pokemon: The First Movie:
The second part includes information on the style and themes used in the score, and it answers the question about how much of the movie's score was performed by a live orchestra (about half). More parts will be coming in the future.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pokemon TCG City Championships 2013-2014: Darkrai/Hydreigon

This report was provided to us by Steven Vlosak, a participant I met at a recent Pokemon TCG City Championship.

The deck I choose to use for the Greenfield and Rockford City Championships was Darkrai/Hydreigon. I’ll start of by explaining my thought process in choosing this deck. I playtest with a good friend of mine, and we have most of the current meta built (such as Blastoise, Genesect, Darkrai, Yeti, etc.), and the more we tested the more we realized that every deck has at least one bad match up and at least one 50/50 deck. While this is good for the game to not see a clear best deck (like we’ve seen at times in the past), it makes it very difficult to pick a deck for any tournament. In any case, I had seen Hydreigon decks before at other tournaments, and it seemed like no two were really the same (besides the Hydreigon and Darkrai, of course), so it got me thinking what I would do with the deck, and I started to mess around with it.

When I started to put this deck together, I began to see why there were a lot of different builds. The core is obvious: With Darkrai’s ‘Dark Cloak’ ability giving any Pokémon with a Darkness Energy free retreat, and Hydreigon’s ‘Dark Trance’ ability allowing you to move Darkness Energy to any Pokémon as often as you want, you are handed incredible versatility unlike any other deck in the format. These two alone are a powerful combo, but the abilities of each give you amazing opportunities to tech for anything in your meta (mostly in the way of Pokémon). Blend Energy (Fire/Darkness/Grass/Psychic) then helps you smooth out the gaps where a lot of cards have potential, but wouldn’t fit simply due to the energy requirements.

Before I started to put together my build, I thought about the popular decks that are played in my area:              

Darkrai: I knew wasn’t much of a threat because I play Max Potion to heal my Pokémon without losing energy, so this matchup is in my favor. I also can use a Virizion tech, so Hypnotoxic Laser has no affect with a Blend Energy attached to the active.

Genesect: This deck is mostly Grass attackers, and Blend Energy allows me the flexibility to use Victini EX. Not only can this sweep Grass Pokémon, but it also gives me energy acceleration when/if it is needed. Most of the standard attackers also have abilities, so you can block them with Latias EX when Genesect doesn’t have a G Booster attached.

Plasma (Thundurus EX/Kyurem/Deoxys EX): This is a tough match up for Hydreigon, but it’s not an autoloss by any means. I run two Silver Bangle cards in this deck, giving Hydreigon the ability to hit for 170 on an EX as well as the chance to hit a fresh Kyurem for a knockout. While you have to discard two Darkness Energy, this attack can knock out anything besides the occasional Lugia EX. Since a lot of their knockouts need to be set up over two attacks, Max Potions can swing this matchup back towards Hydreigon’s favor.

Empoleon: This matchup was a struggle with my initial build, as they deal a lot of damage and if I didn’t Max Potion immediately, they just spread damage with Dusknoir and I won’t be able to keep up with their low cost attacks and ability to knock out whatever they deem to be a threat. This was the main reason I decided to add Latias EX-Empoleon can’t attack it due to Latias EX’s ‘Bright Down’ ability. This forces Empoleon to sit on the bench while Leafeon (or another sub-par attacker) has to struggle to take a big knockout.

Yeti: This deck is gaining popularity quickly and needed to be addressed. Once again Latias EX Is able to shut down most of the deck. The only Pokémon they have to deal with Latias EX with is Thundurus EX, and they typically only play 2-3, so once Thundurus EX is out of the picture I have no trouble just slowly tanking with Latias EX to finish out the game. The biggest thing you need to watch in this matchup is Snorlax. There’s an assumption by most Darkrai players that you get free retreat, so you need to be aware of what you’re promoting when Snorlax is active. Outside of that, nearly all of their knockouts need to be taken over multiple turns, so Max Potion could potentially win you this matchup by its self.

Blastoise: By far, this is the worst matchup. You really can’t miss a beat if you want to have any hope of winning and they’ll need to miss on at least one turn. I’m still working on improving this match up so it is more 50/50, but as my deck stands now I just try to take 4-5 prizes with whatever I possibly can and then setup Shaymin EX for last 1-2. While it’s nearly an auto loss when both decks run as they’re supposed to, this is still a game with luck involved and anything can happen.

Like I stated before, this deck has a lot of potential. It hits just as hard, if not harder, than all decks in the format and it can heal with no drawback of losing energy. While this was a popular concept last year, I think the errata on Pokémon Catcher (now being a flip) and using Silver Bangle gave this deck just the boost it needed. At the moment I’m not sure what I would change but I do want to tweak the list to make the Blastoise match a little better so it’s not such an uphill battle, but I’m happy as a whole with how it has performed (Top 8 in both events I’ve used it).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pokemon Rival Destinies Volume 2 to be released 3/25/2014

Amazon has recently put up a listing for the second volume of Pokemon Rival Destinies on DVD. The two-disc set is due to be released on March 25th, more than six months after the release of volume one last year.