User blog


A look at Quad Garchomp

09/10/2014 by 60Cards


My name is Stéphane Ivanoff. I'm also known online as Luby. Though I've won the French national championship once and the last edition of the Prague Cup before it stopped existing, I assume most of you readers won't have ever heard of me. That's not surprising, as few European players are known outside Europe, apart from players with amazing results like Sami Sekkoum or Igor Costa (it is my hope that 60cards, as a less US-centric site, will help change things a little). Actually, no French player has yet made top 4 at Worlds in the Masters division so it is possible you don't know any of us.

However, if you have been playing enough time, you might have heard of one, Fabien Garnier. Fabien won the French Nats in 2009 with Gyarados, a deck he co-created and which was completely unknown at the time. He then played it at Worlds and went on to place 5th, losing in quarterfinals to eventual World Champion Stephen Silvestro. From then on, until the rotation to HGSS-on (apart from the brief moment after the MD-on rotation but before the release of Triumphant and Junk Arm), Gyarados was no longer a rogue deck, but a metagame one, played and expected and feared - and I believe it kept its association with its French origins. (At the 2011 ECC someone asked me, "Why aren't you playing Gyarados? You're French!")

The point I'm making with this history lesson is that if people know about a French Pokémon TCG player, it's probably not because of his results (though top 8 at Worlds is nothing to scoff at) but for his innovation. I believe this is fitting. There seems to be a drive for creativity here in France. (It's actually possible it can be generalised to Europe as well, given how many players have had results with surprising decks : Alessandro Cremascoli won last year's Italian Nats with a Victini/Sigilyph/Virizion/Tornadus EX deck; a Danish player invented Magnezone/Regirock, which I still believe was the BDIF - yes, better than SP -  at the 2011 ECC, and so on.) When I look at American players' reports from big tournaments such as Regionals, it seems that from round 1 they generally face purely metagame decks. Here, there's often many people playing surprising decks, rogue decks, variations on meta decks but with strange techs, and so on. It might be explained by the lesser number of players, but even among good players, there seems to be an incentive to play new, unheard-of decks rather than just the best ones. Current French National Champion and friend of mine, Mehdi Hafi is known for trying to create or play rogue decks, even experimenting with Darkrai/Serperior at some point in the past season (with terrible results). I, myself, probably played far more Empoleon than I should have.

This brings me to today's article. On last Saturday was the first tournament of the 2013-2014 season in France. It was a SPE (Special Premier Event) for charity (all profits were given to the association "Vaincre la mucoviscidose" which tries to cure a genetic desease named cystic fibrosis), and more to the point, there were Championship Points to win equivalent to a Regional (the prizes were City Championship-level). So people from all over France gathered to the small town of Corbie for this event. We had 46 masters which is actually a big number for a tournament here (Regionals are typically 50-60 players, for comparison). There were 6 Swiss rounds but, because of time constraints, they were played in best-of-1 and there was no top cut. I won't go in detail about my own performance. I played Darkrai/Garbodor and went 4-2. What's interesting, though, is that we saw a variety of strange decks played at this tournament, and having good results. Here are the players who went 6-0 or 5-1 :

1 - Cédric Gouin (6-0) - Quad Garchomp
2 - Marc Deshayes (5-1) - Landorus EX/Cobalion EX/Mewtwo EX/Deoxys EX/Victini EX/Plasma Badge
3 - Adrien Thiry (5-1) - TDK (boooooring)
4 - Hervé Guillemet (5-1) - Kyurem/Deoxys EX/Keldeo EX/Manaphy
5 - Stéphane Ruffe (5-1) - Trubbish/Sigilyph/Masquerain

Not really the flood of Darkrai/Garbodor, Blastoise, Plasma and Virizion/Genesect everyone is expecting, huh? Now, obviously this is only one tournament, and moreover the format of the tournament (bo1, no top cut) means that the variance is higher - the more games there are, the less impact randomness has. Also, the meta decks might have lacked representation : though several good players were playing Virizion/Genesect and Blastoise, there were few Plasma decks, and I'm wondering if I was the only Darkrai/Garbodor player at the event.

In this article I'll talk about the Quad Garchomp that won the tournament. Cédric agreed to reveal his decklist and explain some of his choices, which I translated for you. I'd like to thank him for his contribution to this article.

Let me introduce Cédric briefly. He started playing at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, shortly after me. He soon became obsessed with Exeggutor from Legends Awakened and its attack, Psychic Strategy, which had each player shuffle his hand back into its deck and draw the same number of cards as the opponent had. Cédric managed to build a deck around it. As much as I would like to go in detail into the deck, I'll stick to stating that it could, on the first or second turn of play, make you shuffle your hand back into your deck and then lock you completely by controling your draw with Chatot G. The deck had its weaknesses, but it was basically an autowin against SP, the most played deck of its time. Cédric played this deck all season, earning win after win, and becoming one of the best French players in his very first year. (He lost in top 8 of Nationals to a Magnezone deck, his worst enemy.) He earned the nickname of Koko, from Noadkoko, the French name of Exeggutor. He's still a renowned deckbuilder. For example, he built, with a one card difference, the list that senior player Clément Lamberton used to get second place at Worlds this year (though I'll admit that Rayeel isn't the hardest deck to build).
He played Garchomp at Corbie. Now, Simon Narode stated that Garchomp was his safe pick for the current format. He believed that "whether paired with Altaria, Haxorus, Landorus EX, or something else, Garchomp is consistent and very difficult to disrupt". Cédric actually went one step further. He played neither Altaria, Haxorus or Landorus EX, but pure Quad Garchomp. Below are Cédric's explanations and decklist.

Hello everyone! Here is the list I used to win the SPE in Corbie:

Here are the explanations about the list:

The main attacker of the deck. Very useful, it can discard Special Energy with his first attack which costs only one Energy. With 140 PV, it's quite bulky, often forcing the opponent to 2HKO him for only one prize. Also, it's retreat cost is only 1 so I'm never blocked by a defensive Pokémon Catcher.

The main engine of the deck. It can grab all the Pokémon in the deck.

Professor Juniper
It's the best supporter in the format. Four copies are necessary.

I also play 4 copies of it for consistancy. Its ability to refresh hands is useful in the beginning of the game to nullify your mulligans.

Colress is obviously not appropriate for the deck, so Bianca is the best supporter apart from it.

It's a key card to grab the right trainer at the right time - Rare Candy, Silver Bangle, Hypnotoxic Laser...

Level Ball
Level Ball is actually the main item in the deck. It's needed to grab both Gible and Gabite as early as possible. Then you can rely on Gabite's power to get all the Pokémon you need.

Silver bangle
Another key card. Thanks to it, Garchomp can hit for 90 damage on opposing Pokémon EX, which is a 2HKO. I play 4 copies, both to have a better chance to get it early, and because Tool Scrapper is played a lot.

Hypnotoxic Laser
Used with Virbank City Gym to get even more damage. Alone, it makes it possible to OHKO Sableye, Manaphy, non-EX Black Kyurem, and to 2HKO Kyurem PLF. With Virbank in play, you can OHKO Hydreigon with Mach Cut and Kyurem with Dragonblade.

Pokémon Catcher
There's nothing to say about this card, it's needed in every deck.

Rare Candy
As this is a stage 2 deck, Rare Candy finds its place here. Though Gabite is still very much used, Rare Candy allows for an attack on turn 2.

Super rod
Yes, I do play 3 Super Rod. You only play 4 attackers in this deck, and each copy of Super Rod can basically grab one back. With 3 Super Rod, you have virtually 7 Garchomp, and it's easy to get it when it's needed. Also, it's much safer because of Garchomp's Dragonblade attack, which discards two cards from your deck.

Dowsing Machine
Basically, the trump card of the deck. It can get back what you need, though I find myself generally using it on Silver Bangle.

Fighting Energy
5 Fighting Energy is enough, you can get some back with Super Rod if needed. I also play 1 Energy search so you don't miss the attachment of the turn if you have Skyla in hand.

Blend WLFM
It gives the Energy Garchomp needs for both its attacks. You have to be cautious while playing it as Enhanced Hammer is quite popular.




Here, you abuse Garchomp's ability to discard Special Energy to really slow down the opponent. With Dragonblade + Laserbank, you can OHKO Kyurem, the main threat. Otherwise, you want to 2HKO it with Mach Cut and a Laser.

Blastoise/Black Kyurem EX

A positive match-up. You generally set up faster, and with Silver Bangle, Garchomp can OHKO Black Kyurem and 2HKO Keldeo. On the other hand, Black Kyurem EX has to use Black Ballista for only one prize, which is not efficient at all. Keldeo needs 5 energy.

Blastoise/Keldeo EX

Blastoise decks that use only Keldeo EX are more dangerous, as the 5 energy are easier to get. The only solution is to set up quickly and attack Keldeo as soon as possible.


The key card here is Pokémon Catcher. You want to KO a Genesect before it can use Megalo Cannon. Depending on what version is played, discarding Plasma energy can be instrumental to win some time.


You want to focus on Hydreigon. This deprives the opponent of Max Potion. Also, the opponent may have to play Blend Energy on Darkrai, which you can then discard.


This is the deck's worst match-up. If the opponent can get Garbodor on turn 2, you will have a very hard time setting up. Thankfully, it's not guaranteed, and you always have the option to use Rare Candy. If you expect a lot of Darkrai/Garbodor, though, you may want to play Tool Scrapper.


Generally, Garchomp is a flexible deck. You don't have the room to play everything, though. My list is based on consistency and safety. By playing no other Pokémon than the Garchomp line, you are protected from defensive Pokémon Catcher. On the other hand, you are vulnerable to sleep and paralysis.

Some other possible cards to play are :

Tool Scrapper
Landorus EX
Max Potion
Scoop Up Cyclone
Thanks for reading!




Cédric's explanations can be a bit dry, so I'd like to expand a bit on the deck. I believe Garchomp's victory here is not due to chance. There are two main reasons why I believe this deck is good in the current meta.

The first one is that Garchomp discards Special Energy. This is important because a lot of decks currently rely on them. Plasma is the big one, obviously, but most Virizion/Genesect decks use Plasma Energy and, while there's less of a chance to discard them (the opponent can attach a Grass Energy and use a Colress Machine on Genesect, discarding both the energies with G Booster, not leaving any Special Energy attached), if you do manage to make your opponent miss an attack, it is much more damaging for a Virizion/Genesect deck than for a Plasma deck (which can always use Raiden Knuckle instead). This also allows you to beat fringe decks such as Darkrai/Hydreigon or Flareon. The importance of Special Energy in the metagame is why cards such as Enhanced Hammer or Drifblim are so good currently, and having a Pokémon that can discard them every turn is great.

The second reason why Garchomp is good currently is Silver Bangle. This card has been called one of the most impactful of Plasma Blast, and it's hard to disagree. Sure, Genesect EX is good, and Jirachi EX might be the closest thing we have to Uxie, but Silver Bangle is a Pokémon Tool that may well, by itself, give a new life to a variety of decks and might mitigate the domination of Pokémon EX. While my first idea was to use it with Empoleon (I told you, I like this card way too much for my own good), Garchomp may be a better fit, because 90 damage is a magic number (the one needed to 2HKO Pokémon EX).

It might seem scary to rely that much on Silver Bangle when Tool Scrapper is such a popular card in the format, but Silver Bangle is a card that has an effect on your turn. You can choose not to play it until you need it, and even if the opposing, say, Blastoise deck, has the Tool Scrapper, they won't be able to play it before you OHKO their Black Kyurem EX. It's the same reason why Eviolite, such a popular card at Worlds 2012, has fallen out of favor after the release of Dragons Exalted, and why Darkrai decks prefer to play Dark Claw now.

In a way, the deck reminds me of Jumpluff during the short time it was actually good (after HGSS came out, before the MD-on rotation). The idea was to use Jumpluff HGSS to deal massive damage every turn. Jumpluff was frail but with Night Maintenance (Super Rod) you could get it back into the deck when it was KO'd and attack with the next Jumpluff. You traded OHKO but were generally faster. There are differences, obviously, as Jumpluff could attack as soon as turn 1 thanks to Broken Time-Space and the old Rare Candy. Also, Claydol had more uses than Gabite. On the other hand, even factoring in the power creep, Garchomp is tougher to KO, and can disrupt the opponent by discarding Energy. But the comparison still seemed appropriate.

Cédric also wrote a report in French. It was not written specifically for this article, but he gave me the authorization to translate and insert it here.


Round 1 - Keldeo/Blastoise/Mewtwo

On turn 3 there is only one Squirtle, and I get the KO on it. My opponent doesn't manage to put anymore in play during the game.


Round 2 - Darkrai/Hydreigon with Prism

My opponent manages to get a quick Hydreigon into play, but I KO it on the following turn. Then I 2HKO each Darkrai. Since he plays 8 Special Energy (4 Blend and 4 Prism), I can remove Energy on each turn.


Round 3 - Keldeo/Blastoise/Black Kyurem

I start and use a Laser on his Keldeo. It stays in the active spot for two turns, and therefore gets 40 damage. He manages to KO a Gabite, but I get the revenge KO with Garchomp's Dragonblade with a Silver Bangle attached. He uses the non-EX Black Kyurem for the revenge KO. I get it with Mach Cut and Laser. Then he has nothing to attack with and uses Tropical Beach, but I begin to attack his Keldeo, which I get in two turns. I have only one prize left to his 4. He is forced to attack with Black Kyurem EX and I OHKO it to win the game.


Round 4 - Kyurem/Deoxys/Keldeo + Manaphy

He gets T2 Frost Spear but can't KO my Gible. I get a Garchomp, use a Laser and Mach Cut for 70 damage, discarding a Plasma Energy. He puts an energy on another Kyurem and uses Manaphy's attack, getting one heads. His Kyurem has two energies on it, so I target it with Catcher, Laser, Virbank and Dragonblade for the KO. On the next turn I KO Manaphy. My opponent has no more solution, with only one Kyurem left, and can't get back into the game.


Round 5 - Virizion/Genesect

His start is not great, but he manages to fill his bench quickly and use Virizion's Emerald Slash T2, putting energy on Genesect. I get T2 Garchomp, Catcher his Genesect and deal 90 damage to it. He gets the KO, I get the revenge KO. He whiffs a Grass Energy and tries to buy some time to come back, but has a hard time because I removed his Skyarrow Bridge from play. I use the opportunity to put damage on a lot of his Pokémon. We each have 4 prizes left, but he has less than ten cards in his deck. He scoops quickly.


Round 6 - Mewtwo EX/Landorus EX/Cobalion EX/Rayquaza

I fear the donk which is probably the only way I can lose as he only plays two Basic Energy cards! He starts, put an energy on Cobalion EX and deals 30 damage to Gible. Then I get what is basically the perfect start. I play 2 Level Ball for 2 Gible, Skyla for Rare Candy and pass. He KO's the active Gible. I put an energy on Gible, evolve the benched Gible into Gabite, use Dragon Call for Garchomp, Rare Candy the active Gible into Garchomp, then Juniper. He can't deal with my 90 damage every turn on his EX Pokémon.




Before I end this article, I'd like to add some thoughts about some other decks.

First is Kyurem/Deoxys EX/Keldeo EX. This is hardly a new deck, but it has a very interesting place in the meta. It's a Plasma deck that focuses on Kyurem PLF, which was already Plasma's best attacker before Plasma Blast, and now it gets Silver Bangle, which makes it easier to OHKO Pokémon EX. It plays mainly Water Energy (Hervé, the player that got 4th place with this deck at Corbie, played something like 9 Water and 3 Plasma), so you're not really vulnerable to Enhanced Hammer or Drifblim. It can play 2 Tool Scrapper and Dowsing Machine, which should be enough to deal with any Silver Mirror (it's also really useful against Darkrai/Garbodor), but can also attack with Keldeo EX if needed. In short, it has the benefits of Plasma (except the versatility), mostly without its drawbacks. It's too early to say whether this deck has a real place in the metagame, but I think it would be wise to keep an eye on it.

Finally, I'd like to strongly advise any Darkrai/Garbodor players to read Takuya Yoneda's report from Worlds. Takuya built his deck unlike most players: he started with a Darkrai EX deck, but he played Float Stone instead of Energy Switch as he believed that the two cards had mostly the same effect in the deck (if you have only one Energy on a Darkrai EX, you need Dark Energy, Dark Patch and either Float Stone or Energy Switch to attack; however, one Float Stone can work for two such situations, whereas you would needa new Energy Switch every time). Then he added Garbodor in order to beat Blastoise. Now, this is oversimplification: Energy Switch allowed some cool tricks with Sableye and T1 Junk Hunt, but it seems that Takuya didn't value this as much as Western players did. Coherently, he only played one copy of Sableye.

However, now we don't have Energy Switch anymore. Float Stone is without a doubt the best option for Darkrai decks to get T2 Night Spear. Yet I still see many players trying to use Sableye in the early game, and I believe that it's mainly by force of habit. Sure, against Plasma you may want to spend half the game getting Enhanced Hammers back before sweeping with an unopposed Darkrai EX; but in the mirror for example, using Sableye only delays Night Spear. The best a Darkrai/Garbodor can hope for is generally to start Darkrai EX, attach an energy and retreat to something else on turn 1, attaching on turn 2, and playing Dark Patch on Darkrai EX, and Float Stone on the "something else" (either another Darkrai, a Trubbish, or Sableye) somewhere during turn 1 or 2.

Alright, thanks for reading!


Stéphane "Luby" Ivanoff (@lubyllule)


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