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Robin Schulz

An in-depth look at Giratina and Yveltal

Robin talks about two decks he found a lot of success with this season and takes a look forward to London.

12/04/2016 by Robin Schulz

Hello, 60cards readers and welcome to my first article for you guys!

As I’ve never written on here before, let me briefly introduce myself. I’m from Germany, have been playing the Pokémon TCG on and off for a long time now, and started travelling around and playing more competitively about 2 years ago. Since then I managed to win an Arena Cup, two Regionals, placed in the Top 8 and Top 4 of German Nationals, and finished in the European Top 22 for the 15/16 season, which secured me a free trip and day 2 invitation to the World Championships.

In this article, I’m going to analyze the two decks that got me the most CP this season, Giratina/Hammers and Yveltal/Garbodor. For both of them, I’m going to include an analysis of the decklist I used, the matchups I prepared for, and finally a report from the respective tournaments I used them at. They also happen to be my top choices for the upcoming Intercontinental Championship in London and you’ll find out why.

At the end, I’ll take a brief look at several other decks and their position in this format, including my opinion on how to build them correctly.

Giratina/Hammers

I’ve played a lot of Seismitoad/Giratina during the last season, both in standard and expanded. In standard, I always saw Giratina as the deck’s main-hitter, while Seismitoad, without the help of Hypnotoxic Lasers, fulfilled more of a supporting role. So when the rotation came around and took away Seismitoad altogether, that wasn’t a reason for me to drop the deck-concept.

Giratina’s Chaos Wheel in combination with Crushing Hammer is just inherently strong, and the early hype for decks centered around either Mega Pokémon (mostly Mewtwo and Rayquaza) or Double Colorless Energy (Vespiquen and Gyarados) made the deck even more appealing to me. It still needed a way to deal with Volcanion and Greninja, so Garbodor was an obvious addition. Seismitoad’s role as a 1 Energy attacker that adds utility got taken by Lugia-EX. Aero Ball is of course not really comparable to Quaking Punch, and Seismitoad would without doubt make the deck stronger, but Lugia is also quite useful and able to get you out of some situations.

The Pokémon line up is mostly rather self-explanatory. 3 Giratina is exactly the amount you want to be using per game, while 2 is the perfect amount of Shaymin for this deck. Hoopa-EX lets you grab multiple Giratina and a Shaymin at once, which provides a nice consistency boost. Lugia-EX is a strong 1 Energy attacker that can finish off Pokémon that were hit by a Chaos Wheel and is also able deal quite impressive numbers with its Deep Hurricane.

A 2-2 line of Garbodor is needed to set it up consistently in the matchups it’s important in, however keep in mind that there’s also matchups that you never want to get it into play in (vs. Mega Pokémon), so these are also potential dead cards. Putting down at least one Trubbish is still good against almost everything though. KO’ing it will not net the opponent any advantage, so you can happily promote it whenever not being able to attack or when an Escape Rope is played.

Magearna-EX is a tech for specifically Promo Jirachi, as that is a card that can singlehandedly destroy this deck. Mystic Heart can also protect you from attacks like Froakie’s Bubble, Mewtwo-EX’s Damage Change, or Zorua’s Moonless Madness, but those situations rarely occur. I didn’t play any Metal Energy, but they are a decent option and enable Magearna to use its Soul Blaster attack, which can be useful against those metal weak Fairy Pokémon – quite convenient because Giratina itself happens to be weak to them.

The Trainers and Supporters may require some more explanation. Obviously there’s 4 Prof. Sycamore and 3 N, which I think is definitely the right count on both, but I also included the rather high amount of 3 Lysandre. Its original purpose was to be more consistent at getting rid of Garbodor against Mega Mewtwo and Mega Scizor decks as drawing into it with only 2 copies could be a pain sometimes. However it turned out to be great in general too because of how important having control over the board is. In almost every matchup, there’s always going to be exactly one immediate threat for you on the opponent’s side of the field, and you want to be the one getting the first hit. Against Yveltal for example, you never want to attack into a non ex Yveltal, instead focus on only the-EX. The same is true for the Volcanion matchup, using a Lysandre on a Pokémon-EX when it attacks with a non-EX Volcanion will put you much ahead in the battle of 2HKOs. Against Despair Ray Gardevoir, it’s very common for the opponent to set up a Mega on the Bench while trying to assemble the needed 2 Energy plus Hex Maniac. Pulling it up and doing 100/110 damage will put it into immediate KO range and prevent it from taking back to back Kos. These are just some example of why Lysandre is even more important for this deck then it may be in others. You can get by with just 2 in here too, but I think I’d stay at 3 after having played the deck for a while now.

In addition to the standard Supporters, you can also see 3 1ofs in the list, Skyla, Pokémon Center Lady and Team Flare Grunt. The latter is to be expected in a disruption style deck like this, I could even see myself going up to 2, but 1 has mostly been fine. Center Lady was an addition for the Greninja matchup, being able to basically reset a turn of Moonlight Slash, multiple times per game even, vastly improves your chances and makes it a matchup I’ve always been happy to face, at least as long as they don’t play the Promo Jirachi. It also turns 2HKOs into a 3HKOs in the Volcanion matchup, which is very helpful. Other than that, there’s those random scenarios you don’t really expect but in which a PCL can completely turn the game around. I even won a game against a Mewtwo because of it at the SPE! I have seen some people who swapped the Center Lady for a Olympia, and while I don’t particularly disagree with that – Olympia certainly has its merits – I also don’t really see the need for it and would rather stick with PCL, healing 60 is much more impactful than 30 after all.

I debated about whether to play the Skyla or a copy of Misty’s Determination, both may have different purposes but I didn’t feel like having the space for both. Misty can dig for Energies without discarding your whole hand like Sycamore does, which is especially useful at later stages of the game, where N also isn’t a useful draw card anymore. Skyla cannot get you Energy, but providing guaranteed access to any trainer in the deck is equally great. In the end, the situations in which Skyla was better seemed to be more frequent, and my experiences in both tournaments reflect that too. My most chosen targets with Skyla were probably Ultra Ball (which should come to no surprise), Float Stone (mostly when opponents tried to Lysandre-stall something), Parallel City and Prof. Sycamore (as a Supporter for the following turn). The addition of a single Silent Lab for Liverpool made Skyla even more valuable.

Aside from the obvious 4 Ultra Ball and 4 VS Seeker, the list features two more 4of items in Trainer’s Mail and Crushing Hammer. The Hammers are the backbone of the deck and their flips decide games, so no way you should even consider not running the full set. Trainer’s Mail is almost equally important, there’s so many important items you need to dig for, Hammers in particular, so I’d strongly advise against cutting down on them too.

Two Enhanced Hammer probably looks a little excessive for a deck that prevents Special Energy from getting into play anyway, but it’s actually very important to instantly get rid of them should the opponent manage to attach them before you start Chaos Wheeling, or get them into play with a Pokémon Ranger, and wasting Crushing Hammer on Special Energy is annoying. Still, the second hammer is probably the most dispensable card in this list.

The Energy lineup consists of only 8 Special Energy and nothing more, so Special Charge is almost a must-have. Recycling two Energies helps a lot at getting your last attackers ready and is also an important factor for being able to beat decks that play some hammers themselves. Getting back DCEs also makes it easier to just retreat Pokémon that got Lysandre’d up (a desperation move that happens quite a lot against this deck).

The Tools are self-explanatory again, 3 of both has always been perfect for me. For stadiums, Parallel City is the obvious choice, limiting the opponent to three Benched Pokémon adds to this deck’s disruptive play style, while playing it the other side around gets rid of Bench sitters and reduces damage in some matchups – most importantly against Greninja and Volcanion. Locking it into play with Chaos Wheel is very impactful actually. There’s not a lot of other good stadium options, I used to like Team Aqua’s Secret Base in Giratina decks, but in this format, its uses are very limited.

Now that I’ve gone over the initial list, let’s take a more detailed look at my thoughts about this deck’s matchups and place in the metagame.

Matchups

First of all, some general advice when playing the deck. Try to not get your first Giratina damaged before it starts attacking, and most of the time, that means attaching Energy to it while on the Bench. The ideal active Pokémon after your first turn is usually a Trubbish, alternatively Hoopa or Shaymin. The reason for is that you can’t afford losing it right away. If your first attacker, that you spend two Energy drops on, goes down after its first attack, you won’t be able to continue attacking the following turn, and that may very well decide the game already. It may seem obvious, but I’ve seen quite some games that went something like this: Giratina goes first against a Volcanion, does some stuff, attaches Energy active, opponent does his thing on his turn and ends with Power Heater’s for 80 or 110. Giratina then attaches another Energy and attacks, which will be met by a Volcanion Heat KO, even if there was a Garbodor or Lab in play already, and leaves it with no Energy on board. Don’t let that happen. This scenario isn’t limited to the Volcanion matchup, and avoiding it is important for this deck to function because of its limited speed when it comes to setting up new attackers.

As a side note, the order of the decks in this segment reflects the importance I gave them back when starting playing around with this deck.

Darkrai/Giratina

I feel very confident in this matchup. Their Giratina can be easily stopped by all the Energy disruption, and Darkrai simply doesn’t do much without the damage boost by Double Dragon Energy. The way they win is by getting a very quick Giratina, drawing a Double Dragon Energy every turn, and you not being able to stop it, but that usually won’t happen twice in a bo3. Once you gain control over the game, there’s nothing they can do to get it back. They will even struggle to deal more damage than a Pokémon Center Lady can heal.

Mega Mewtwo

If they play only Garbodor and no Hex Maniac, you just get rid of it and win. If they play both, it’s a little more tricky, but drawing into the (typically one) Hex at the right time while having a charged up Mega Mewtwo isn’t easy. Against the non-Garbodor version there’s less to worry about as you can focus on shutting down their attackers right away, while it’s a real struggle for them to get rid of even one or two Giratina.

One thing you have to look out for is them charging up a non-EX Mewtwo, because once it gets to 3 Energy, it can Damage Change away all the damage it gets, which can completely swing the game paired with some Lysandre. So make sure to prevent that from happening by Lysandre’ing it up early or directing some Hammers at it, if you thinks that’s what the opponent is going for.

Either way, I’d rate this as a favorable, but losable matchup.

Mega Rayquaza

This is a super favorable matchup, Giratina hard counters Rayquaza on so many levels, especially with Hammers and Parallel City in the mix. Their out to win is Jirachi Promo, so make sure to not sacrifice your Magearna early, and you should be fine.

Greninja

The Greninja matchup depends on their list a lot. If they play just Froakie and Talonflame, the most popular version at the beginning of the season, you’re fine. Try to set up a board of two Giratina and two Garbodor with the red side of Parallel City facing them. They’ll do 60 damage a turn, a 4HKO that you can further delay with Pokémon Center Lady, so you should have enough time to deal with all their Greninja.

However, if they play the Jirachi Promo, basically Giratina’s nemesis since back when it released, you’re in trouble. Sure there’s Magearna, but you also want Garbodor to stop the BREAKs from wrecking you, so that’s not much help. In that case, you better hope Greninja does its usual thing and goes out with a swift turn 3 Bench out loss. Some friend of mine actually were relatively successful in this matchup in Dortmund, which I don’t quite understand, but I guess you should never be too surprised when hearing about Greninja losing a matchup it’s not supposed to.

A way around Jirachi would be playing a Pokémon Ranger, a card that could also help versus the occasional Jolteon-EX.

Volcanion

First of all, this matchup is significantly better against the version without Max Elixir that was very popular at the beginning of the season, but it’s also manageable against the superior Volcanion lists. Garbodor is of course key, so try to set it up as quickly as you can. If you get it to stick around, and also reduce their damage with Parallel City, you’re in a comfortable position. It will be a battle of 2HKOs, but they eventually run out of steam and have to resort back to Power Heater, to which you reply with a Lysandre or maybe Center Lady. Then again, against Volcanion with Max Elixir, it’s hard to have Garbodor around for long, so that’s why I added a Silent Lab for Liverpool Regionals. Even if you don't have no Garbodor left, you can still keep them Ability locked that way.

All in all, I’d rate this as an even matchup, but certainly wouldn’t mind facing some in tournament, as long as they don’t play any other cards that would give them more of an advantage, like Enhanced Hammer.

Mega Gardevoir STS

A lot of people have been stating this is an autoloss for the deck, but I strongly disagree. In fact, my score against this in tournaments is positive. I won’t deny they are favored, but it’s a lot closer than it seems. I think in the end, it mainly comes down to Crushing Hammer flips, as they are what keeps you in the game. Gardevoir can’t just Hex and kill you if it’s missing the necessary Energy. And if they whiff the KO once or twice, and lose their attackers, the game can get out of reach for them quickly. Once you have some control over the game, just Lysandre whatever they put their Energy on. Even if they manage to score a KO, you’ll be able to take out that threat immediately and see them struggle to set up another one. Parallel City keeping them at 3 is important to ensure there won’t be no crazy multiple Set Up turns that swing the game around. N can always become a very important factor too. Also, keep in mind that their only switching card is usually Escape Rope, so make sure to keep a sacrificial Trubbish on your Bench.

Some of my friends were very skeptical about the matchup too, but agreed that it‘s actually about how well the Hammers go, who goes first, and who takes early control of the game, after having tested it more.

At Dortmund Regionals, there were some players who teched in some metal Energy for this matchup, as they make Magearna able to attack and OHKO Gardevoir. I don’t know how much that really helps, I suppose it could be good, but I don’t think Gardevoir is important enough to be specifically targeted with at least two deck slots. Its horrible Rayquaza, Rainbow Force, Scizor and Greninja matchups should honestly keep it in check just fine, and like I said, I don’t think the matchup is unwinnable either way.

Rainbow Force

This seems about even to me, they are very reliant on Double Colorless Energy so Chaos Wheel hits them hard, but an explosive start for them with a lot of successful Max Elixir will be hard to stop. Crushing Hammers flips are crucial either way. Either you control the game and not let them attack more than once or maybe twice, or get run over.

Xerneas/Gardevoir

A bad matchup for obvious reasons, Xerneas BREAK is probably the worst enemy one can face with a Giratina focused deck. Luckily we have Lugia, so there’s some hope. Go for the T2 Deep Hurricane and try to cause as much damage as possible. Quick Kos paired with some good Crushing Hammers can put you in front, and the Giratina part of your deck is at least useful against the opponent’s Mega Gardevoir part. I actually won against this deck in Liverpool, but definitely needed some lucky moments to do so.

Mega Scizor

Scizor lists vary a lot, so it’s hard to accurately describe this matchup, but since it’s a Mega Pokémon, it can’t be too bad. Against the Silent Lab version that was successful in Liverpool, the plan is obviously to keep the Labs out of play. They play Pokémon Ranger to bypass your Chaos Wheel, but since drawing into Ranger + Lab should be relatively hard, it’s fine as long as you don’t discard one of your Parallel Cities early on and have the second one ready on the turn they kick the first one. A way to drastically improve this matchup would be playing a third non Silent Lab gym, a Paint Roller or a Delinquent, to make it easier to get rid of their Lab.

Against Garbodor builds, go for the Garbodor, and hope they either don’t play a lot of Hammers, or don’t draw them/hit them in time. I don’t know how the Raticate build looks like, but that matchups also seems like a matter of how much Energy disruption they play.

Vileplume Box

They rely on almost exclusively Special Energy, that’s a good sign! If you go first, try to put down nothing but a single Giratina and a Magearna with a Float Stone. If you get the T2 Chaos Wheel, there’s not much they can do from there, as they can’t attach their Energies and also can’t get rid of yours with Jirachi. If they go first, better hope they don’t get out their Vileplume, otherwise things will be out of your control basically. If they don’t, hammer away any Energy they put into play and proceed as if you’d have been the one going first

Garbodor can be useful, but is also a risk. It shuts down your Magearna and makes it so they can Jirachi you, and it can potentially get its tool removed by a Beedrill-EX and then being stuck active by a Lysandre. However, even with Garbotoxin active, they only play very few basic Energy, so chances are they won’t even be able to attach to a Jirachi or Beedrill when being Chaos Wheel locked. It’s also not easy for them to get them into the active position with typically only 2 Ninja boy per list. So if you feel like you’ll need your hammers and VS Seekers in a certain game, don’t hesitate with putting that Garbodor down.

Gyarados

Great matchup because of their reliance on both Special Energy and Stadiums. Their way of winning is going first and getting a T2 Lysandre KO on your Giratina that you attached an Energy to, followed by another Lysandre KO on the following turn. If they play the (in my opinion, inferior) Octillery version, that won’t happen, but against a good Shaymin based list, that’s not out of the ordinary. However, even if they do so, a hammer + N can usually stop it from happening again and make you able to set up a Giratina anyway. Once you have them locked and remove their stadium, the game is almost sealed, especially if you also managed to set up Garbodor. Pokémon Ranger won’t help them much because it’s like a 5 card combo they need for a KO – not going to happen, let alone twice.

Vespiquen

Even easier than Gyarados because they don’t put up early pressure. Their Ranger is a little stronger in the late game because they don’t need as much stuff as Gyarados does, but at the point of them doing 230 damage with Bee Revenge to KO a Belted Giratina with Parallel in play, you’ll already have won the game a long time ago.

Yveltal/Garbodor

And finally, the now probably most important matchup. At its core, this is pretty even and once again a battle of 2HKOs. You want to be announcing Chaos Wheel every turn, while the Yveltal player will be responding with Evil Ball if everything goes as planned for both of you. What turns this around is hammers, on both sides actually. Crushing Hammer can steal important Energy attachments and make Yveltal unable to attack, but at the same time most of them bring their own Enhanced Hammers - and believe me when I say that they are a real pain. Removing your Benched Energy while KO’ing the active Giratina may leave you unable to respond, while if you do the same, they can still get additional Energy into play with their Max Elixir. Another potentially troublesome card is Pokémon Center Lady, a card that could pick up some more play in Yveltal decks after being featured in the winning list from Fort Wayne. It turns Chaos Wheels into a 3HKO and could swing some games around by doing so. I’m not sure about how practical that really is, but it does worry me for sure.

Lugia is quite important in this matchup. It’s able to clean up a damaged Yveltal for a single Energy drop in those situations where hammers made your Giratina unable to continue, and can then either soften up the next Yveltal with another Aero Ball while you try charging up Giratina again, or go for a Deep Hurricane onto a Shaymin to pick up the last two Prizes and steal the game.

Ultimately, this matchups comes down to how well Crushing Hammers on your side and Max Elixirs on the opponent’s side hit, and how many Enhanced Hammers the Yveltal list plays. Zero is very comfortable to play against, one hammer is annoying but still manageable, and two make you wish you picked a different deck.

SPE Essen

My matches went as follows (Swiss was bo1):
R1 Mega Mewtwo - W
R2 Mega Mewtwo - L
R3 Mega Gardevoir - W
R4 Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor - W
R5 Mega Gardevoir - W
R6 DarkTina - W
R7 Greninja - W

T8 Volcanion - WW
T4 Yveltal/Garbodor - LL

7-2, 3rd Place

The first round was straightforward, I got a T2 Chaos Wheel and he never managed to knock out even one Giratina. In the second round I didn’t draw any basics and got my lone Garbodor knocked out on the third turn. Round 3 I go first and get a turn 2 Chaos Wheel while he didn’t draw into any Spirit Link on his first turn, so his board didn’t pose much of a threat ever.

The fourth round was really tough because my opponent went first and had two Garbodor with Float Stone ready before I even got to attack, but I barely managed to win a very close game by not going after Garbodor and focusing on his Mewtwo and Energy. Lugia helped a lot! It was the star in the fifth round again, where it Aero Ball + Deep Hurricane’d away a Gardevoir and cleared the path for Giratina.

Round 6 was a quick win as my opponent just dead drew. I got paired down in the last round and wasn’t able to ID because of that, but fortunately won my game against Greninja. We both had a slow start, and not being able to make good use of Center Lady in addition to him playing Max Potion made it hard, but I won with I think my last deck card.

The first game of Top 8 went as planned, I got up both Garbodor, he was only able to get rid of one, and couldn’t keep up as a result. The second game went much worse, he quickly disposed of both my Trubbish and I was close to scooping, but in the end some fortunate Ns and Hammers got me through the game.

Top 4 was against Yveltal/Garbodor with 2 Enhanced Hammer. I got a strong start in the first game and felt confident about my chances, but a Hammer + Lysandre on a Benched Giratina with an attached Fury Belt that was left stranded (the one time I really wished I played some sort of Switch card other than Float Stone), followed by a Delinquent for my whole hand on the following turn crushed my dreams. In the second game I could never establish much of a board and Enhanced Hammer did its job.

Liverpool Regionals

I didn’t see much reason the deck would get worse for Liverpool and didn’t like any of the alternatives, so I decided to stick with it. The evolution of Volcanion decks left me a bit worried about the matchup and since I didn’t see a single Jirachi in Essen, I swapped the Magearna for a Silent Lab.

My day looked like this:

R1 Xerneas/Gardevoir - WLT
R2 Gardevoir (STS) - WW
R3 DarkTinaGarb - WW
R4 Xerneas/Gardevoir - WW
R5 Primal Kyogre - W
R6 Gyarados - WW
R7 Volcanion - WLT
R8 Scizor - LWT
R9 Gardevoir (STS) - WW

(6-0-3 8th seed)

T8 Gyarados - WW
T4 Gardevoir (STS) - WLL

7-1-3, 4th Place

Facing what I expected to be my worst matchup in the first round was a little unfortunate, but I was able to steal a long first game by dragging up a Hoopa and winning by deckout, resulting in a tie for this round. Second round was against another Gardevoir, but thankfully no Xerneas this time. He drew quite poorly and wasn’t able to put up much resistance against some quick Chaos Wheels.

The third round was over quickly too, his Energy cards didn’t last long and Darkrai barely did any damage at all. My fourth round pairing got me like “are you kidding me, again?!”, but I actually won the matchup this time. Lugia did a lot of work, Crushing Hammers worked fine, and his BREAK didn’t manage to be the deciding factor it needs to be.

Round 5 was much tougher than I expected it to be, playing against a seemingly harmless Mega Deck, but he put up quite a fight, mostly because of the Rough Seas I couldn’t seem to get rid of. They basically turned my damage output to zero in combination with his two Manaphy-EX. The second game didn’t finish because of how long we took.

The following round I had a much easier time, my opponent even Prized two Magikarp in the second game. Round 7 had me playing against a Volcanion, but his inclusion of 2 Enhanced Hammers made it a very difficult match and I was ok with getting the tie here. The Silent Lab helped out a lot.

In the eighth round I played against Mega Scizor with 4 Silent Lab and Pokémon Ranger. He won the stadium war in both games, but I still won the second one because of Lugia and him not getting out a third Scizor.

The last and deciding round came down to endgame Ns basically, he needed to draw a Hex after being N’d to 1 and 2, and whiffed both times.

My top 8 pairing was a very fortunate one for sure, and game 1 went as usual. Game 2 was more difficult because of him getting the T2 Lysandre KO, but N stopped that from happening a second time.

Top 4 was a very interesting series. He went up by 4 Prizes in the first game, but then N and some good Hammer flips turned it around and I managed to make the comeback. Unfortunately, my luck run out at that point - I didn’t hit a single hammer for the next two games. Game 2 was really close and came down to a decisive flip and then him having to draw a Hex after getting N’d, but I guess I had to sit on the losing side of variance eventually. Game 3 was rather one-sided after he got the perfect first two turns.

Being so close to the finals and losing is a little heart-breaking, but I was nevertheless very pleased with the deck’s performance!

Yveltal/Garbodor

Fast forward to the days before Dortmund Regionals and the meta has seen quite some change. Gardevoir was getting a lot of hype, and while I don’t particularly fear the matchup, it’s also not a deck I’d want to be playing against all day with Giratina, especially since Rattata made it harder to effectively use Lugia.

What’s worse is that Greninja looked like a really strong pick for Dortmund when looking at its matchups against the decks that topped in Liverpool. And since almost all Greninja players started to play Jirachi again, that would have meant taking a loss to a potentially important matchup.

In addition, other players started to pick up Giratina themselves, and while its ultimate numbers came as surprise for me (Giratina variants were the second most played deck in the tournament and Hammers was by far the most popular version!), I did expect some mirror matches and would have liked to avoid these if possible.

The probably biggest reason for not going in with the same deck again was, however, having found a different deck I believed was really good - Yveltal/Garbodor. You’ll see why I like it so much when I start talking about the matchups, but let’s first take a look at the list I ended up playing and at some of the seemingly strange decisions.

3 Yveltal-EX, 2 Yveltal BKT and 1 Yveltal XY is very common and just a very reliable lineup. I wished I had a 4th-EX in some games, but three was mostly fine. Oblivion Wing Yveltal isn’t completely necessary but I liked having the option. I’d argue Fright Night Yveltal isn’t vital either, Yveltal-EX is the true star of the deck, but having it covers some more matchups and I wanted to have outs against as many decks as possible. That’s also the reason for including Yveltal BREAK. Its attack is able to kill a Gyarados player’s whole board at once and vastly improves that otherwise very hard matchup. The second deck it’s needed against is Vileplume Box. Jolteon is very hard to deal with, but evolving an Yveltal will make it able to hit through Flash Ray and also stops it from getting OHKO’d!

I played 3 Trubbish instead of the usual 2, reason being that getting out Garbodor quickly and keeping one on the field all the time is very important in several matchups, most notably Volcanion and Mega Gardevoir. It’s also a very good starter, having it get damaged causes little harm and putting a Float Stone on it will give you the free choice of what to attack with and also easy access to a Garbodor on the following turn.

The heavy emphasis I put on Garbodor and Ability lock can also be seen in the odd 1of Shaymin. I didn’t see it as an integral part of my draw engine, but rather as an option to get out of a dead hard in the early game, similar to how Jirachi-EX acted back in the day. In the mid to late game, there was almost always a Garbodor around. I also didn’t want to clog my Bench with multiple Shaymin, especially because my list doesn’t have a way to remove opposing Parallel Cities.

Trainer-wise, the list isn’t too much out of the ordinary. 4 N is a little higher than usually seen, but I relied on Supporters a lot, instead of going for heavy Shaymin and Trainer’s Mail. It can be troublesome in the early turns, but improves consistency in the later stages of the game when playing with Garbodor on board.

The choice of 4 Float Stone and only 2 Fighting Fury Belt probably looks somewhat weird too, but I absolutely loved having the full four. It not only improves the consistency of setting up multiple Garbodor but also makes you able to switch attackers around however you want and provides a lot of control over your field. Sometimes I would have liked to have a third Fury Belt, but ultimately I don’t think it made much of a difference. Having Yveltal BREAK act as a pseudo FFB on non-EX Yveltal helped with that as the 20 more HP is usually enough to last an additional hit.

The rest doesn’t differ from the thousand other Yveltal lists you’ve already seen in your life, so let’s skip right to the interesting part.

Matchups

I’ll be listing the matchups I expected and prepared for before Dortmund, which are mostly the same I already listed in the Giratina segment, but in different order.

Mega Gardevoir

Gardevoir is regarded as a counter to Darkness decks, but I believe Yveltal/Garbodor does alright against it. The key to winning is Garbodor: when Ability-locked, their whole deck falls apart. Without being able to spam Hoopa and Shaymin to set up and boost damage, or use Rattata to remove Fury Belts, Gardevoir isn’t an impressive deck. It will be left trying to 2HKO your Pokémon, and Evil Ball does the same to them, with the difference that it’s easier for you to set up multiple Yveltal-EX.

Fright Night Yveltal is also quite useful. It can buy you a turn at the beginning of the game by blocking Spirit Links and spread some damage to make it easier for Yveltal-EX to clean up. You need to watch out for when you use it though. If you attack once and get knocked out immediately, that’s of no use, because 40/60 damage on a Gardevoir does nothing. You’ll still need to attack twice with a Pokémon-EX and will have effectively wasted 3 Energy. Instead, be careful and make sure not to resort to it when being in danger of an immediate knockout. A Fury Belted Yveltal BKP with a Garbodor on board is almost guaranteed to get at least two attacks off, and will put two of their Gardevoir into Evil Ball KO range, so that’s what you’ll be looking for a lot of the time.

So don’t fear this matchup, just make sure to keep them ability locked at all times, use a lot of Evil Ball, and you’ll be fine.

Volcanion

This is probably my favorite deck to play against with Yveltal/Garbodor. It can get scary at times, mainly when they get those super-explosive starts with multiple Max Elixir on the first turn, but even then you should still be favored if drawing well yourself. They are forced to either ignore your attackers and go for Garbodor, and as a result falling behind on meaningful attacks and getting their board destroyed by a single Yveltal, while being locked again soon by a new Garbodor, or to go for Yveltal right away but not being able to OHKO any of them.

Yveltal BKP is very strong because a damaged Volcanion-EX will always be in range of a quick Evil Ball KO. However, once again, it may make sense to wait with using it until it has a Fury Belt or BREAK Evolves, as that puts it out of Volcanic Heat’s KO range.

Greninja

Also a matchup I am always happy to face, which makes sense considering it was one of the reasons for me switching to Yveltal. It can get close depending on the Greninja player’s list, but no matter what, you should have at least a slight advantage. Annoying cards include Rough Seas, Jirachi Promo, Eco Arm, and a 2nd Lysandre. The new Promo Greninja can be strong too sometimes. Getting rid of all Garbodor should not happen against this list, and even if they did, that likely means having lost too many Greninja to effectively use the BREAK, but the 20 damage spread can be impactful on Benched Yveltal.

Talonflame is an important factor. Facing that starter makes it harder to race ahead in the beginning and the 40 damage are quite good too. If you’re able to get 4 Energy on your Yveltal-EX for the immediate Evil Ball KO, definitely go for it. A common theme I’ve seen is players being afraid of running into Bursting Balloons, and while you’d certainly rather Lysandre around them, taking the 60 damage is usually also a good trade for taking a KO.

Another important aspect in this matchup is knocking out Frogadier before they evolve. With other decks, you’d typically prioritize getting rid of Greninja before they are able to BREAK Evolve, but thanks to Garbodor, you don’t have to care. Instead, try taking easy Prizes on Frogadier before it gets out of OHKO range by evolving. Knocking out a Frogadier and then a damaged Greninja takes 2 turns, but going for the Greninja first and then 2HKOing the new Greninja that evolves from Frogadier takes a turn more.

A lot of my games against Greninja have gone something along those lines: Take some early Prizes with a Float Stoned Yveltal-EX by Y Cyclone’ing to a Benched one with FFB attached, let it take one Balloon and the first Moonlight Slash, then switch to the second-EX and OHKO the first Greninja. If they don’t go Jirachi proceed with KOs, if they do, try to Lysandre around it or switch to an Oblivion Wing Yveltal. From there on just 2HKO stuff and occasionally Lysandre for easy Prizes or Balloon avoidance.

Mega Rayquaza

A fine matchup because of how badly they get destroyed by Garbodor and Parallel City. Fright Night can be useful in the early game to stall a bit, and of course also at later stages of the game when not getting OHKO’d anymore. Even a single Pitch Black Spear is enough to put Rayquaza into Evil Ball range. You should win as long as you draw Parallel City in time.

Rainbow Force

This matchup is similar to the Rayquaza one, but a little harder because of Yveltal BKP being almost useless and them having Dual Types for better post Parallel City damage output. The plan is again to get out Garbodor and hit them with a Parallel City to stop the OHKOs. That should give you enough time to eventually get rid of all their attackers. A lot of games result in a big Yveltal-EX running through their board and knocking out every new Xerneas they try to setup.

However, if they get a great start, you’re under quite some pressure to draw very well yourself.

Gyarados

Do everything you can to get off an attack with Yveltal BREAK, and if they play Mr. Mime, set up a Garbodor too. I didn’t play against any Gyarados in Dortmund, but there were quite a few, piloted by some great players even, so I think the BREAK wasn’t a bad choice.

Without it, it’s very difficult. If they play the slower and more susceptible Octillery build, going for just Yveltal-EX + N can win you the game a good amount of times. The faster and more consistent Shaymin + Ultra Ball + Acro Bike version can run you over with relative ease though.

Mega Mewtwo

I think this is one of the tougher matchups one can face, certainly not unwinnable, but I’d rather play against something else. Mewtwo’s damage output outshines Yveltal’s, and being able to Damage Change off damage it received is almost not fair. The way you win this is causing a lot of trouble with an early Fright Night and spreading around enough damage for Yveltal-EX to keep up with Mega Mewtwo. Y Cyclone is a very important tool in this matchup, it sets up Kos and prevents easy Psychic Infinity OHKOs at the same time.

Delinquent would be a nice addition that is particularly good against Mewtwo, mainly for getting rid of Shrines, but it’s also a deck that goes down to small hand sizes frequently.

Giratina/Hammers

I already talked about this in the Giratina analysis, but here’s some additional notes about playing it from Yveltal’s perspective. Don’t attach to anything that isn’t a Pokémon-EX. All you want to be doing is Evil Ball. Pitch Black Spear sounds cool and all, but what good does that 60 damage do if you don’t have enough Energy in play to follow it up with an Evil Ball? Their win condition is you being unable to attack with a Pokémon-EX.

Attach a lot of Float Stones early, they are superior to FFB in almost every way. A belted Yveltal can get stuck active after something like a hammer heads plus Flare Grunt, but a floated one can simply retreat to a different one that has access to Max Elixir, or at the very least into an Oblivion Wing Yveltal.

Mirror

First of all, as a disclaimer, I did absolutely terrible in mirror matches at Dortmund, so you should probably just skip this passage. I certainly didn’t get the luckiest in those, but then again they just felt so incredibly random and out of control that I’m not sure I approached them the right way.

My general game plan was to use a single Yveltal BKP in addition to 3 Yveltal-EX and then just Evil Ball or Y Cyclone a lot depending on the situation. The non-EX would be especially useful when having its HP boosted, so that it wouldn’t immediately fall to any Evil Ball. In the end, games usually just came down to who was better at hitting Elixirs, drawing well after N, and all the usual stuff.

The list’s focus on Garbodor and beating a lot of different matchups didn’t help my case in the mirror, but I don’t think it should have made that much of a difference. However, you should probably play a more standardish list with 3 FFB, 2-2 Garbodor, no BREAK, and 2 Shaymin if you don’t want to go into this with a small disadvantage.

Dortmund Regionals

R1 Gardevoir (STS) - WW
R2 Giratina Hammers - LWW
R3 Raikou/Electrode - LL
R4 Rainbow Force - LL
R5 Greninja - WW
R6 Volcanion - WW
R7 Yveltal/Garbodor - WLT
R8 Volcanion - WW
R9 Greninja - W

6-2-1

R10 Yveltal/Garbodor - LL
R11 Giratina Hammers - W
R12 Giratina Hammers - WW
R13 Greninja - WW
R14 Yveltal - LL

9-4-1, 11th Place

I started off well with wins against Gardevoir and against a Giratina that hit every hammer in the first game, not a single one in the second, then proceeded to dead draw in the third.

In Round 3 I had to play against my friend Tobias with his Raikou deck. Both games were fairly close, I was basically a Max Elixir short of killing his last Raikou in the first game, and would have needed one more Lysandre for taking the second, but things would have had to go almost perfectly for me to actually take the win in this matchup, and I already profited from him not running hot on his own Elixirs.

Round 4 was a frustrating one, I played exactly one Supporter in those two games, when I was four Prizes behind already, and didn’t even attack once.

The next two rounds were a welcomed change of matchups, and the Greninja player more or less dead drew in both games, so that ended quickly.

Round 7 was the weirdest match of the tournament, our combined success rate on Elixirs must have been below 20%, it was comical. I won a close first and lost an equally close second game.

At this point I had to win both my last rounds to make it into the Top 32, but thankfully the pairings worked in my favor and gave me another Volcanion and Greninja. Nothing too special happened there, aside from the Greninja game taking so long that we didn’t even have time to finish a second game.

Day 2 started with a mirror match. Game 1 went quite well at first but I Prized my third Yveltal-EX and did neither draw it out of there nor hit the Super Rod, so that resulted in me not being able to take the last needed knockout. Game 2 was just some 2HKOs on both sides and then me needing him to not have Lysandre + Energy in the final turn, but I didn’t even have the N so there wasn’t much hope.

This was followed by two matches against Giratina/Hammers. The first one would have ended in a tie had time been called a little later after multiple Crushing Hammer heads turned around the second game, but I barely walked away with the win. The second match was over much quicker after some very underwhelming hammer flips from my opponent.

Round 13 was the toughest match I had against Greninja that weekend. I was in control for almost all of game 1, but game 2 could have easily been a loss if he drew what he needed in the deciding last few turns. He didn’t so I would be guaranteed for top cut if I won the last round!

It ended up being an Yveltal mirror (interestingly, 3 Yveltal players were already safe at that point and the other 4 that made it into Top 32 had to play mirrors to decide who gets in). In the first game, I didn’t see a single Supporter and lost after few turns. In the second one I went for a turn 2 Pitch-Black Spear plus Lysandre play, but he surprised me with Olympia plus DCE for a knockout, which set me behind a lot. In the end it came down to me N’ing him to 1 and hoping he whiffs one of his last Energy, but odds weren’t in my favor.

Thoughts going into London

The biggest and most important tournament Europe has ever seen is only a few days away! I’m not quite sure yet about what deck I’ll end up playing there, but I’m pretty certain it’ll be either Yveltal or Giratina again.

I think the metagame will be very diverse, even more so than in Liverpool and Dortmund. Liverpool saw a ton of Gardevoir, while Dortmund was flooded with Giratina, Volcanion and Greninja. If there’s a deck that’ll see a similar amount of representation in London, that’s surely going to be Yveltal. Still, I don’t expect it to be more than maybe 15% of the field. Players from out of Europe are an important factor too which makes the meta even harder to predict.

When going into such a big and diverse tournament, playing a deck you’re very comfortable with that has outs for winning a lot of different matchups seems like a good idea honestly, and these two decks I presented to you seem to fit the bill for me.

To round off this article, I’ll take a quick look at most of the other possible plays for London and give you my opinion on them.

Rainbow Force – One of the strongest decks in the format, but I dislike its inconsistent nature. There’s quite a lot that has to go right for this deck to win its games, but its matchups are undeniably well-rounded. If this is your choice, make sure to include a Xerneas BREAK in your list! It turns Jolteon matchups (which I’d expect to become more popular) from unfavorable to highly favorable and acts as a searchable and recyclable +30HP boost against everything else. Pretty great value for a single slot in your deck if you ask me.

Greninja – I’ve never been much of a Greninja fan, once again because the inherent inconsistency of its strategy, but if it set-ups, it’s one of the best decks for sure. I still like Talonflame because it's good against Yveltal, and I guess I’d also go back to Rough Seas as the stadium of choice to further improve the Yveltal matchup. Starmie seems like an interesting inclusion, but I think other cards would end up being more important.

Volcanion – It doesn’t seem to be the strongest deck on paper, matchup-wise at least, but it’s very consistent and can have the most explosive starts that make everything winnable. I think it’ll be played a lot again and also be successful.

Darkrai/Giratina/Salamence – I didn’t think the deck was a good pick before Dortmund, and Salamence’s release shouldn’t change too much. It could be helpful against Yveltal, but then again, limiting the amount of Pokémon-EX you put on the Bench isn’t that huge of a problem. I can imagine this deck doing alright, but am not fully convinced.

Mega Gardevoir – Horrible against Rainbow Force, Rayquaza and Scizor, unfavorable against Greninja and Volcanion, not even that good against Yveltal. I don’t really see why this deck should see much play at all. Its concept is very powerful, but the matchups just aren’t there for now, in my opinion.

Mega Mewtwo/Garbodor – Got kicked out of the meta by Gardevoir hype, but like I said, Gardevoir isn’t looking too good itself right now. Mewtwo definitely has a solid Yveltal matchup, deals quite well with the Sky Field decks thanks to Parallel City + Garbodor, has an almost auto win against Volcanion, and a favorable Greninja matchup. Could definitely see it making some sort of a comeback.

Mega Scizor – Autoloses to Volcanion and Greninja (even if you play Garbodor), two of the top 5 most played decks at any European tournament so far, so praying to avoid these seems like too much of a gamble. Other than that, its matchups are alright, but not great enough justify taking these two important losses.

Mega Rayquaza – I’d rather play Rainbow Force, I think, but Rayquaza doesn’t sound horrible either. The new promo Magearna is an interesting addition against both Xerneas and Regice.

Gyarados – I like the deck, but prizing Magikarp is beyond annoying and that’s just one of the many things that can go wrong when playing this. Taking losses to Giratina, Greninja and random techs like Absol in Gardevoir isn’t great too. If I were to play Gyarados I’d go for a very straightforward build with Shaymin and 4 Acro Bike. Enhanced Hammers could be a decent Giratina counter. Either way, in terms of DCE reliant stage 1 decks, I prefer this over Vespiquen.

Raikou/Electrode – Obviously I’m very biased as an Yveltal player, but I just don’t see how this deck has any way of beating good Greninja, Volcanion, Rainbow Force (with BREAK), Gardevoir or Mewtwo decks, so I’d advise you to stay away from it. It’s good if you play against exclusively Yveltal and Giratina/Hammer.

Regice/Glaceon/Garbodor – It’s a very interesting deck, but I think now that people are more aware of it and might be playing Ranger again after seeing more Jolteon, it will be much harder to do well with it. There’s also no way it’ll ever draw Prizes against a Greninja deck with Rough Seas, giving them way too much time to get rid of Garbodor.

Vileplume Box – Regice got worse because of the Magearna Promo, while Jolteon got worse because of it becoming more popular in general, forcing people to have ways to deal with it, like BREAKs or Ranger. In addition, the deck was never the most consistent to begin with. Still, Beedrill gives it a legit counter to Garbodor and T1 Vileplume is as annoying as ever, so there’s some hope for it to do well.

Houndoom/Raticate mill – A deck that caught my attention recently, it seems like it could do quite well against some parts of the meta, but the autoloss to Greninja is off-putting and I’m also not quite sure about a lot of other matchups. It made the Top 32 in Dortmund though, so there’s potential.

That’s it for now, thanks for reading everyone and good luck in London! If you can’t make it there and are looking for updates, check out my team’s Facebook page LimitlessTCG or follow me on twitter @restructure_rs, we’ll probably post some stuff throughout the days. Anyway, hope you have a great day and see you soon for hopefully more articles!

-Robin

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