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Karl Peters

(Wh)Y is Yveltal so strong?

Karl Peters talk about the versatality of Yveltal and how it's currently used.

12/23/2015 by Karl Peters

Hey guys, it's Karl again. Today I want to talk about a specific Pokémon that everyone already knows as an established contender in the game – Yveltal. But I'm not going to focus on Yveltal-EX, Yveltal XY, or Yveltal BKT. Instead, I want to talk about every one of them, either in combination with each other, or just on their own. We already know that Yveltal-EX and Yveltal XY are well established in Expanded, but they struggled with getting involved in the Standard format, mainly because they lost very important cards like Darkrai-EX, Dark Patch, and Hypnotoxic Laser, a card that a lot of people dislike. Yveltal still managed to keep its place as one of the best decks in the Expanded format, but most people wrote it of the list for competitive decks in Standard. This, however, changed with the release of BREAKthrough. When BREAKthrough came out Yveltal got some new partners that work very well with it, like Gallade which uses the Maxie's engine or Zoroark which is a very good attacker, but we will get to these when we talk about the Standard format.

First I want to talk about the Expanded format, the format where Yveltal has a very big impact and has been able to shine a lot mainly thanks to cards like Darkrai-EX and Dark Patch, which have always been powerful cards since their release in Dark Explorers.


Yveltal (straight)

This is probably the version of Yveltal deck that almost everyone, if not everyone, knows and have already played against, or at least seen at a tournament. Usually this decks consists of multiple Yveltal-EX and Yveltal XY as well as Seismitoad-EX and Darkrai-EX. Aside from these cards, there have been a lot that people tried to put in these decks. When Roaring Skies came out, an obvious addition to the already known lineup of Pokémon was Shaymin-EX, a card that almost nobody want to pass up in any deck, aside from maybe some Wobbuffet decks. Shaymin replaced Jirachi-EX in most straight Yveltal builds as it doesn't really need Jirachi as you don't run cards like Maxie's Hidden Ball trick where Jirachi-EX would be able to show its whole potential. Other common inclusions for this deck are Keldeo-EX, Hoopa-EX, and lately the newly released Jirachi promo. Personally, I don't like Jirachi in this deck because Yveltal decks have always been able to deal well with Seismitoad decks, and Yveltal is also one of the best known Giratina-EX counters as it doesn't need to attach Special Energy to deal a lot of damage to Giratina, just because Giratina already has to attach four Energy just to use Chaos Wheel, which is already at least 140 damage from Yveltal-EX's Evil Ball attack. Some people also like to run Absol from Plasma Freeze or Sableye from Dark Explorers, which are both very good non-EX attackers, especially Sableye which is able to get you some extra Hypnotoxic Lasers, Dark Patch, or even VS Seeker.

Now that we’ve discussed the Pokémon, let's get to the Trainer cards. Most lists run almost the same lineup of Supporters: four Juniper, two N, two Lysandre, and at least one Colress. Some players also like to replace Colress with Ghetsis, but it's only really good if you manage to get it off on the first turn against decks like Archie's Blastoise, Night March, or other heavy Item-based decks. This would also mean that you have to run Jirachi to make Ghetsis way more reliable against these decks. Some players also like to run one copy of either AZ or Hex Maniac, or even both. I'm not that big of a fan of Hex Maniac because Yveltal is usually able to deal with most decks that rely on Abilities anyway. AZ, on the other hand, is a very good card in my opinion as it's useful in a lot of situations. AZ can be used as a switching card under Item-lock when you either don't have a Keldeo-EX in play, or it's being blocked by cards like Garbodor and Hex Maniac. You can also use AZ to get back a heavily damaged Yveltal to prevent your opponent from taking a KO. 

In the Item count there is also not that much variety as every list runs four VS Seeker, four Ultra Ball, four Hypnotoxic Laser, and three to four Dark Patch. You might think that Dark Patch is just way too good to not run four of them, but if you start testing the deck you will see that, in most cases, you won't even be able to use one or two, just because Yveltal decks are already able to keep their Energy in play thanks to Oblivion Wing and Y Cyclone. Dark Patch is still a very good card and that's exactly why we're running three of them, which, in my opinion, is the perfect amount. Another card that most people like to use in this deck is Battle Compressor, just because it works so well with Yveltal and Dark Patch. I would recommend running two, just because on is usually not reliable enough, but if you feel like you won't need it that much anyways, you can also run only one, or maybe even zero if you don't like the idea of it at all. Before I talk about Item cards that a lot of people aren't running, let's get to the ACE SPEC. Usually Computer Search is what you see in most lists, but there are also some players that like to run Dowsing Machine. This depends a lot on personal preference and you will have to find out which of these suits you best.

Some Item cards that aren't that commonly used are Trainers’ Mail, Town Map, Escape Rope, and Switch. You might think that a lot of players use Trainers’ Mail, but this is often just the case for the Archeops version as it heavily relies on an Item-based set up. In regular versions, a lot of players aren't running this card, but I feel like it's very good and helps to get the extra Dark Patch, Hypnotoxic Laser, or VS Seeker you might need in some situations. Town Map is a card that depends a lot on the player’s preference, because a lot of players feel like it's just a wasted slot that could be used more efficiently. Others say that it helps them a lot when planning their game, and I'm one of these players. You're able to get the Prize card you want which is usually a huge advantage that often gives you the edge over your opponent. The last cards I want to talk about are Switch and Escape Rope, which some players use because they are afraid of having something stuck up in the Active spot while being Hex Maniac’d, so they won't be able to use Keldeo-EX's Rush In. I like Escape Rope better as it also forces your opponent to switch, so if you want to run any of them, I'd suggest you to play Escape Rope.

The last Item cards that are left are the Tools. Every list runs either two or three Muscle Bands, a card that is a staple in pretty much every deck. The other Tool is Float Stone which most players run two of, but some also run zero, because they want to use Keldeo-EX's Rush In in combination with a Darkness Energy and Darkrai-EX's Dark Cloak Ability. I would recommend running two Float Stones because I don't like using Rush In with a Darkness Energy, because that's one Energy attachment that you won't be able to use for attacking. For Stadiums, there is only one real choice in the form of Virbank City Gym. Virbank City Gym is just way too good in combination with Hypnotoxic Laser which is why you're running either two or three of them. For Energy there is pretty much no difference in between lists. Everyone runs four Double Colorless Energy and something between six and eight Darkness Energy. I feel like seven is the perfect amount if you're running Float Stone, but if you don't I would recommend adding the extra Energy to not run out of Energy when using one for Keldeo-EX.


Yveltal/Archeops was probably the deck most people were expecting when the TPCi announced the Expanded format. The combination from one of the most powerful decks with one of the best Abilities in the game was just too tempting for most players to not try it. It also helped a lot that Yveltal decks have already been able to abuse Item cards like Trainers’ Mail, Acro Bike and Battle Compressor, cards that you need if you want to get off Maxie's a lot. The major downside for this deck is that it lost a lot of advantages that the regular Yveltal decks had. You often had to take a bad Seismitoad-EX matchup just because a lot of your deck was relying on Item cards. This changed a matchup that usually has been good for Yveltal into an even, or maybe even bad one, just because you won't be able to get your hitter set up as quickly as you would have been before. If you wanted to have a consistent list that was able to get out Archeops almost every time on turn one, you also had to cut cards like Hypnotoxic Lasers and Virbank City Gym, which lead to a worse mirror matchup.

Another major problem with Archeops is that it's very metagame dependent, which is the main reason why it went down in playability a lot. Most players switched to the straight version because the only decks where Archeops would really shine against are Seismitoad/Crobat and Vespiquen which are often not the main concerns in tournaments. You also have to be aware of the fact that both of these matchups aren't that bad that you would have to run a counter against them, because Yveltal is already able to deal with both of them pretty well. In the Mirror match it really comes back to bite you that you don't run Hypnotoxic Lasers as this is often the card that makes the difference if your opponent doesn't misplay and leave too many Energy on one of their Yveltal. So you have the choice to either run a deck that can get out Archeops a lot, but without Hypnotoxic Lasers, or you're running a list with Hypnotoxic Lasers which won't be able to get out Archeops, that you might as well just cut it completely. I'd recommend you to only run this deck if you expect a very large amount of Vespiquen. If you expect a lot of Vespiquen you also have to run the consistent version that doesn't use and Hypnotoxic Lasers and such, to get out Archeops as often as possible.


Yveltal/Garbodor basically works the same as the straight version but also has the addition of Garbodor's Garbotoxin Ability to deal with annoying Abilities and hopefully prevent your opponent from doing as much as he would like, especially since you're able to block Abilities like Shaymin-EX's Set Up which would allow your opponent to get their setup faster. Not very many players are still using this deck for a bunch of aspects that add up to one major problem. The biggest as probably most obvious problem for Garbodor’s playability is the release of Hex Maniac. Where Garbodor needs at least a turn to Evolve and a Tool to use the Ability, Hex Maniac just needs to be played down and is even able to get reused by abusing the strength of VS Seeker. You might think that Garbodor is better because he gets to stay in play and doesn't have to be reused like Hex Maniac but in most cases blocking your opponents Abilities once or twice is enough as Yveltal isn't a traditional lock deck unlike decks like Sableye and Seismitoad/Garbodor, which heavily rely on the usage of Garbodor.

It's also a major factor for Garbodor's playability in general that not a lot of decks are abusing Abilities for their main strategy. They often just use Abilities like Shaymin-EX's Set Up or Unown's Farewell letter to draw cards to get a quicker set up. Or they use Abilities like Archeops' Ancient Power which Yveltal decks usually don't care about at all. The only real decks that use Abilities for their main strategy are Archie's Blastoise which has to use Blastoise's Ability to get Energy into play, or Keldeo-EX's Rush in to switch out of poison, or just bring a new attacker into play. The other deck is Tyrantrum which has to use Bronzong's Metal Links to get Energy into play, almost like Blastoise. These are the only decks that really need their Abilities which is not reason enough to run a 2-2 line of Garbodor, because Hex Maniac already does the job well enough. Overall we can say that this deck isn't going to see a lot of play unless some deck that really heavily rely on Abilities try to pop up and need to be dealt with, as Hex Maniac is all you need in most matchups.

Now that I've talked about the Expanded format, I want to get to the format that has changed the most with the release of BREAKthrough – the Standard format. BREAKthrough brought a lot of new very good cards that will change the metagame, and some of these will even help Yveltal to get a spot in the Standard format.



This is probably the first deck that comes to mind when you talk about Yveltal decks in Standard, simply because it's talked about by a lot of people and has even seen a bunch of top cuts already. If I remember correctly there has been a City or Regional Championship where six out of eight players used this deck which should already show you that this deck is not just good in theory. The Basic structure of this deck is the same as Yveltal/Archeops, as we're using the Maxie's engine to get out Gallade in this case, and we're not running Hypnotoxic Laser, simply because it’s not legal in Standard. Unlike in Yveltal/Archeops, the focus on Gallade is a lot heavier as it’s not mainly used for its Ability as it has a very good attack. To top it off we've got the new Zoroark which is also a very good attacker on its own, as well as a nice addition thanks to its Ability which is basically the same as Keldeo-EX's, which we don't have access to in Standard.

The regular Yveltal from BREAKthrough is also a very nice addition that can come in handy in certain situations, but I don't feel like it's worth to be in here as more than a one-of. The general strategy is to get out a Gallade as fast as possible, basically like Archeops, with the difference that Gallade can help you with their attack as well. Gallade's Sensitive Blade which deals 60damage for one Double Colorless Energy, which isn't that exciting on its own. But it has a very simply way to get to 130 damage, all you have to do is to use a Supporter in your turn which isn't that difficult, especially if you're able to control your topdecks with Gallade's Premonition Ability. A very nice play with Gallade's attack is to simply Lysandre up a Shaymin and knock it out for exactly 110, because of Shaymin-EX's Resistance to Fighting. Gallade is also very good to counter Manectric as it's able to take at least two Manectric-EX or M Manectric-EX, because thanks to its 150 HP, it's basically impossible for Manectric to Knock Out in one hit unless they manage to get a Muscle Band onto M Manectric-EX and somehow plays Giovanni in their deck. The only problem for Gallade could be Flash Energy, but as you have to use a Supporter anyways, you can just Lysandre up a different Manectric which hasn't got a Flash Energy attached to it. Last but not least, I want to get back to Gallade's Ability, because I think it's one of the best we've got currently. Thanks to Premonition it's much easier to get the cards you want and don't have to worry about whiffing, because you're pretty much able to choose one card out of five which is very good, especially if you consider that this deck is going to burn through its resources pretty quickly thanks to cards like Battle Compressor, Acro Bike and Trainers’ Mail, which will help you with thinning out your deck.

The next very interesting card is Zoroark, also from BREAKthrough. When this card was leaked a lot of players saw its potential right away, especially because its Ability reminded us of Keldeo-EX right away, a card that a lot of players are missing in the Standard format, including myself. Most players wanted to include either a 1-1 or 2-2 line in decks that used Keldeo-EX previously, like Tyrantrum which has a very big problem with getting something Lysandre’d to the Active spot. Some players also included it in their Vespiquen builds, because it's another very nice Stage 1 attacker. All of these ideas are pretty good, but I feel like it works especially well in this deck, mainly because we're also able to use Zoroark BREAK which I'm going to talk about in a bit. Zoroark is another very good attacker against Manectric because you're able to attack with a non-EX that isn't weak to Lightning, which doesn't actually matter if you look at its HP which sadly just is 100. If you use the Zoroark BREAK however, your HP get boosted up to 140 which makes it even more powerful. Zoroark is generally a very good attacker and we will definitely see it played a lot, and I think that it has a very good spot in this deck.

Zoroark BREAK is probably the BREAK Pokémon that's most viable for competitive play, mainly because its regular version is already very good. Zoroark BREAK has the same attack as the Zoroark from Black & White, Nasty Plot. Nasty Plot allows you to use any of the Defending Pokémon's attack, which opens the game up to a lot of new possibilities and outplay potential. You're even able to copy attacks like Turbo Bolt to power up a new Pokémon, or Tyrantrum's Dragon Impact for 190 damage. You still have to pay any costs for the attack, like discarding Energy, unless it requires a Special kind of Energy like Reshiram which has to discard Fire Energy. You are able to attack with Reshiram without having to discard any Energy. Other than these Pokémon you run the same as any Yveltal deck did before, like Shaymin-EX, the promo Jirachi and in some cases Seismitoad-EX if you still feel like it's going to be useful.

The Trainer lineup is basically the same as Yveltal/Archeops in Expanded, with the major difference being that you won't even need a Stadium card because cards like Virbank City Gym don't exist anymore and there is no real Stadium you would actually need. You can still add cards like Parallel City which usually is the best option if you don't really know which stadium to run, just because it's so good on its own, especially since it doesn't reduce damage from your Darkness Pokémon. One slight difference might be that you're not just using one Maxie's Hidden Ball trick, just because this deck want to use Gallade way more often than Archeops did with their Maxie's Pokémon. Energy are also completely the same as you're running Double Colorless Energy and Darkness Energy like any Yveltal based deck. Overall I feel like this deck is very strong and you will have to take it in consideration for your Standard tournaments, either as a choice for yourself, or at least as an opponent.



This is another deck that got a lot of playability thanks to BREAKthrough. You might think that all of these cards, aside from maybe Yveltal from BREAKthrough, have already been around for a long time, but this deck shows pretty well how one small card can change a whole deck. I'm talking about the newly released Smeargle from BREAKthrough which has the Ability Second Coat which allows you to, once per turn, switch one of your Active Pokémon's Basic Energy with a Basic Energy from your discard pile. This allows you to simply attach a Darkness Energy with Yveltal to Regirock, and switch it with a Fighting Energy if it comes Active and has to attack. It's also very nice that Regirock just needs a Fighting Energy and a Double Colorless Energy, because it would be pretty annoying to attach three Basic Energy to Regirock. The Smeargle/Regirock combination opens up a lot of different options in this deck as Yveltal is able to keep Energy in play very good, thanks to Y Cyclone and Oblivion Wing which both are amazing in combination with Smeargle.

The next part of this deck's Pokémon lineup is the Crobat line, which shouldn't be that hard to explain. Golbat and Crobat have always been good cards since they were released in Phantom Forces. This deck has a very good Vespiquen and Night March matchup because Bats have always been good against these decks. You're pretty much able to just use non-EX attackers and maybe a Shaymin-EX at some point, but you don't even have to play it down in most cases. All you have to do is use Yveltal from XY, Bats, and maybe Regirock to get knockouts on these low-HP Pokémon like Pumpkaboo, Joltik, Combee, and Eevee. Usually Regirock isn't a very good choice because you won't be able to use its attack to its full potential, because it just deals a good amount of damage to-EX Pokémon. 60 for at least two Energy isn't worth it against non-EX decks, that's why I'd highly recommend to stick with Yveltal and Bats.

The Trainer cards are basically the same as the straight Yveltal version from the Expanded format with the difference being that you obviously won't be able to use Hypnotoxic Laser. You might want to add some Level Balls for extra search options for Bats or Smeargle, but usually you won't need them and you're able to use the space way more efficiently. One card that I would definitely add is Scared Ash, as you're playing a lot of different Pokémon that you might have to discard with cards like Ultra Ball and Professor Sycamore. I would also run at least two copies of AZ because he's very good in combination with Bats and is also able to help you if your Regirock get stuck in the Active spot. For Stadiums I would consider running Sky Field as you need so many Bench spaces that you will usually regret the decision to not run them, which is why I included three copies of it to also be able to kick annoying Parallel Cities. I feel like that this deck is very good in a heavy Night March and Vespiquen-focused metagame, but isn’t as good against decks that don't use low-HP Basics. But I could obviously be mistaken and I think that this deck deserves a chance to be playtested, and maybe could prove that it's better than the Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade version.


This deck was played a lot at the first real Standard tournament with BREAKthrough, the Arena Cup in Berlin, and it did pretty well. The major reason for its success was that it had a very good matchup against Night March and the regular Vespiquen, which were the two most played decks at the tournament. Usually we saw Standard Vespiquen versions with Bronzong or Flareon in combination with Blacksmith, and after the release of BREAKthrough a lot of players also included Zoroark into these decks. All of the Energy accelerators were Stage 1 Pokémon with Abilities that attached Energy, or even Stage 1s in combination with a Supporter card. This deck used the space differently and included a Bats line to help boosting damage or deal with Night March or Vespiquen mirrors a lot easier. Unlike in the decks I talked about before, we don't use Yveltal-EX or the Yveltal from BREAKthrough. The only Yveltal we're using is the regular one from XY to attach Energy with its Oblivion Wing attack. This isn't a completely new approach to using Yveltal because it has already been used to accelerate Energy very quickly, but is the first time where it's used in a deck that doesn't focus around its-EX partner.

As I already talked about in a paragraph earlier, Yveltal works very well with cards like Battle Compressor as it makes it a lot easier to get your Darkness Energy into your discard pile to start powering up your Vespiquen. Yveltal also works very good to play around Hex Maniac because, unlike Bronzong and Vespiquen, it doesn't use an Ability to get your Energy back into play. But this is also the biggest problem when using Yveltal instead of Bronzong or Flareon. The fact that it has to attack to attach Energy will often make you wish that you had an Ability to get your Energy because if your run out of Double Colorless Energy, you won't be able to get a new Vespiquen going in just one turn. Even if you attack with Yveltal's Oblivion Wing your opponent is still going to be able to Lysandre it up which will let you, again, with no Energy at your Vespiquen to attack.


Night March/Yveltal

Night March has pretty much the same story as Vespiquen. Both lost a major attacker in Standard that could be used easily without having to spend too much resources. Where Vespiquen lost the Flareon from Plasma Freeze, Night March lost Mew-EX, which was able to attack for just one Energy with Dimension Valley in play and Joltik on your Bench. Even though this is a major loss, Night March got to keep basically everything else that could be important, especially because Night March didn't even use cards like N or Colress. So all Night March lost was a cheap way to attack which a lot of players tried to solve by playing Pokémon that would be able to attack for just one Energy like Latios-EX or Hawlucha, or just included Bronzong to power up a new Night Marcher without a Double Colorless Energy. All of these ideas worked decently but didn't really bring back Night March to its glory days from last season. But recently two new promising variants began to show up, both more consistent and faster than Bronzong. The first version uses Milotic's Ability Sparkling Ripples to get back the Double Colorless Energy, or even something else, because it's able to get you any card that's in your discard pile back to your hand.

But we don't want to talk about this version, as we're here to talk about Yveltal. The other Night March version that started popping up is Night March with Yveltal. Like Vespiquen we only use Yveltal to power up our next attacker, which is a Night Marcher in this case. I used the deck at the Arena Cup in Berlin and was able to get Top 4 with it. So as I already have tournament experience with it, it's pretty easy for me to get a little bit more into detail with this deck. The main reason why I didn't want to play the Milotic version is that it's very vulnerable to Jirachi as it doesn't run any kind of Basic Energy, which leaves you in the position where you can't draw any Prizes unless you manage to get the Lysandre and the Double Colorless Energy each turn. I also wanted to play this version because it has a big advantage against any mirror matchup that doesn't run Yveltal itself, because Yveltal is able to knock out Pumpkaboo and Joltik in one hit. Usually you want to attack with Pumpkaboo when playing the mirror, because Joltik can get Knocked Out by Shaymin-EX's Sky Return which is not what you want, because this would allow them to use Shaymin-EX's Set Up Ability without being punished for it. Usually you don't want to allow your opponent to use Set Up, which is why you'll have to try not using Joltik as your main attackers.

And this is why Yveltal is so good; your opponent can either use Pumpkaboo, which requires at least six Pokémon with Night March in discard pile if they have the Muscle Band. If they don’t, they need seven Night March Pokémon in the discard pile, forcing them to discard three attackers they might want to have, as well as the four Lampent you discard anyways. If they don’t want to use Pumpkaboo to get the KO on Yveltal, they have to use Joltik, which allows you to use Set Up with Shaymin-EX and get the knockout with its Sky Return attack to get a huge amount of value. Aside from the mirror and Vespiquen matchup, most matchups are the same as other Night March versions. If you want to play Night March at a tournament I would definitely recommend to use the Yveltal version because I feel like it’s the best choice to deal with most matchups.

Overall we can say that Yveltal is going to stick around as a viable archetype in Standard and Expanded, just because the cards are way too good to not be used. In Expanded I would recommend you to run the straight version because it's very powerful and doesn't even have a problem with decks like Vespiquen, which is why you won't even need the Archeops. In Standard I would either run the version with Yveltal, Zoroark and Gallade, or the Night March version I already used at the Arena Cup in Berlin. Both of these versions have their own strengths and weaknesses, and that's why you'll have to find out which version suits you best, and fits your playstyle. 


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