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Caleb Gedemer

Zoroark-GX / Garbodor — a Worthy Adversary to the Rise of Lucario-GX in Oregon

Lucario-GX is coming... What decks can beat it?

03/20/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

Lucario-GX is broken.

Lucario GX – Fighting – HP210

Stage 1 – Evolves from Riolu

[F] Aura Strike: 30+ damage. If this Pokemon evolved from Riolu during this turn, this attack does 90 more damage.

[F][F][C] Cyclone Kick: 130 damage.

[C][C] Cantankerous Beatdown GX: 30x damage. This attack does 30 damage for each damage counter on this Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)

Resistance: none

Retreat: 2

Tauros-GX had its time in the sun because of an impressive GX attack and Lucario-GX just so happens to tote the exact same effect on its GX attack. This alone makes it strong, but what’s more is the fact that Aura Strike can easily take down Zoroark-GX for a single Fighting Energy when you Evolve into Lucario-GX during your turn. I’ve noticed a lot of players building Lucario-GX wrong from the start and for clarification, I expect it to be paired with Zoroark-GX in the upcoming Portland, Oregon format.

This article isn’t about Lucario-GX, in fact, it’s all about countering it with a specific deck. Zoroark-GX / Garbodor is a strange deck, one that has caught the attention of many top players but hasn’t had a big finish just yet (this may change with North Carolina Regionals, this article was written before-hand). Garbodor is a very interesting partner with Zoroark-GX as it can be activated with a Bursting Balloon, using the Tool in a very unconventional manner just to trigger Garbotoxin and then give you back access to your Trade Ability after your opponent’s turn.

This is a bold statement, but one I believe to be true: Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX should not be played after the release of Lucario-GX as Lucario-GX is strictly a better card and absolutely rocks Golisopod-GX in the Zoroark-GX mirror matchup. While Mew-EX is a suitable counter to Lucario-GX, as long as Lucario-GX is able to take the first set of two Prizes, then Mew-EX and its return Knockout are very mediocre as the Lucario-GX player can then just take a return Knockout and keep ahead in the Prize race.

What can do even better against Lucario-GX without the liability, though? Garbodor with Trashalanche has always been an amazing card, and while it doesn’t have a naturally fitting home in a deck right now, it’s a solid partner alongside its Ability-locking counterpart and Zoroark-GX. Zoroark-GX seemingly can pair with anything effectively, and this combination of cards is no different. Trashalanche can cover many of the threats to Zoroark-GX like Buzzwole-GX and the new Lucario-GX while you still get to maintain the Zoroark-GX deck shell and you even get to gain the prowess of Ability lock, too.

I believe this deck to be one of the best plays for Portland, Oregon Regionals for a variety of reasons, so this article will be used as a primer on the optimal list for the deck, explanations of those cards, and a run-through of the most relevant matchups going into the tournament. Please take a moment here to consider a 60Cards subscription if you haven't already to see premium content like this and more from other top players. I hope you enjoy!



4 Zorua SLG 52

Having four Zorua is always needed. I would never change this count for anything! This is currently the best Zorua to play in a Standard format deck that doesn’t have Darkness Energy. If you did have Darkness Energy, I would recommend playing the Zorua with Moonless Madness from BREAKthrough.

4 Zoroark-GX SLG 53

Trade is a broken Ability, and Riotous Beating isn’t too shabby itself! Having a full four copies of Zoroark-GX is awesome whenever you can find space for it. I could see cutting one of these in the event that you needed to free up some other space since you do have two Evosoda in the deck. Two Evosoda as well as four Zoroark-GX is enough copies of cards to find an early Zoroark-GX so you won’t always need more than that unless you’re getting greedy. At this point, I am greedy in this list but having as many Trade options in play is very nice to have since you do need to find Bursting Balloon on consecutive turns much of the time to activate your Garbotoxin Ability.

3 Trubbish BKP 56

Three Trubbish is all you need since much of your Bench space is going to be consumed by Zorua most of the time. Think about it for a second, you’re going to want three Zorua in play, and then you’ll probably have a Tapu Lele-GX down there most times and then you’re only going to have two slots for Trubbish (or Garbodor) somewhere on your board. Sometimes you will have chances to switch around your Trubbish and Zorua counts where you have three of one and two of the other in play, but for the most part you’re going to really only have use for three Trubbish in play at a time. I like this count quite a bit!

2 Garbodor GRI 51

Having two Trashalanche is always very nice in case one is Prized, or you want to attack with it multiple times. There are some matchups where you’re not going to want to put Garbotoxin down and all and in those games, you’ll want to prioritize having as many Garbodor with Trashalanche down as possible and that’s where having two copies is super nice.

2 Garbodor BKP 57

Garbotoxin is a busted Ability in either format right now and having two of them is always nice to increase your chances of drawing into it naturally and obviously Prizing is a concern as well. In case one gets knocked out, you can always put another down, too!

3 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60

With three Tapu Lele-GX, you have a very, very strong chance of starting with Brigette on your first turn. I like having three for in the middle of the game too to find the specific Supporters you may be looking for. You could cut down to two if you wanted to, as having four Brigette is better than having three Tapu Lele-GX in the current Standard format metagame.

4 Brigette

Why, you ask? Consistency is everything, and as much as I stress it, people still don’t seem to comprehend it. When you have solid evidence backing specific counts with percentages, it’s a no-brainer to go all the way up to a count of four on such an important card like this. With four, you have about a forty-percent chance of starting with Brigette just by itself on your opening turn, and then the three Tapu Lele-GX and four Ultra Ball add more to that, taking it all the way up to about eighty-percent, which is absolutely incredible.

3 N

N and Garbotoxin are a great combination! Having three N is amazing such that you can pull that play off multiple times in a game. N is generally a strong Supporter in the early game as well, obviously. This deck doesn’t take Prizes very quickly since you rely on your opponent playing Items in many cases so that your N will yield you a healthy number of cards rather frequently starting off at least.

3 Cynthia

To the same tune, Cynthia is amazing to get a full refresh of six cards in certain situations. Cynthia is “more aggressive” than N in the context of playing this deck so when you’re looking for some harder draw without the potential to help your opponent this might be the card for you. Six draw Supporters is the best number right now in Zoroark-GX decks, so I like finding space for three of these and three N starting off. Professor Sycamore isn’t as good in this deck since it can’t afford to aggressively discard resources like some other decks.

2 Guzma

Guzma is an amazing card and it's a shame there isn’t more room for it in this deck. Since you generally just want to sit back and smack with your Zoroark-GX starting off, you’re going to want to use your draw Supporters to find a consistent stream of Bursting Balloon to keep your opponent’s Abilities shut off. There simply isn’t as much time to use Guzma in the beginning of the game, so in the late game is where it shines in combination with your Garbodor with Trashalanche many times to close games out. You can use Puzzle of Time to recover Guzma if you ever need more than just the two.

1 Mallow

Mallow is amazing in Zoroark-GX decks to just get two cards of your choosing from your deck in combination with a Trade. This can be crucial to chaining your Bursting Balloon and finding certain pieces to a specific play.

1 Acerola

At least a single copy of Acerola is always critical in Zoroark-GX decks as it can keep you kicking longer in close trades and stave off Knockouts that would otherwise be possible. Acerola is a meta-defining card right now and is a must in every Zoroark-GX deck in my opinion in the Standard format.

4 Ultra Ball

These are needed in every deck. Don’t cut them!

4 Puzzle of Time

Getting back cards from your discard pile is cool, and it’s easy to pull off when you’re using Trade from your Zoroark-GX. You never want to play less than four Puzzle of Time in a deck unless that deck is a Sableye troll deck in the Expanded format.

4 Bursting Balloon

Having a full four Bursting Balloon to disrupt your opponent with Garbotoxin and retain your Trade uses is great. Bursting Balloon also happens to set up perfect Knockout math with Riotous Beating against 210 HP Pokemon like opposing Zoroark-GX! If your opponent happens to attack into a Bursting Balloon he or she will get smacked for 60 damage and then you can use Riotous Beating with a Choice Band to finish the Knockout off by doing 150 more. This card is incredible as long as your opponent doesn’t run wild with Field Blower and get rid of it in some capacity.

2 Float Stone

Switching your Pokemon around to avoid Knockouts can draw more Items from your opponent and in addition it is nice for times that you want to make Garbotoxin stick by locking it in. While this does stop your own Trade Abilities, it can be nice in the late game to create a “permanent” Garbotoxin to make sure that you’ll have the lock for more than just one turn at a time. Two of them makes sure that that sort of play is readily available for when you want it.

2 Field Blower

While you do play Garbodor with Garbotoxin yourself, opposing Garbotoxin can still be annoying to shut off your Trade. You can use Field Blower to get rid of the Tool on your opponent’s Garbotoxin and there’s a few other good uses for this card as well, namely for Parallel City removal and for getting your own Tool off a Garbotoxin if you want to gain access to your Trade Abilities once more during your own turn. The aforementioned play is generally only relevant when you have a Choice Band, or a Float Stone attached to your Garbodor with Garbotoxin.

2 Evosoda

Searching a free Stage 1 out of your deck is incredible, especially when you have two of them, Garbodor and Zoroark-GX. This card does a lot to bolster your consistency and I highly recommend playing two of them as the consistency effect is not as good when you’re playing just one.

2 Choice Band

Numbers are everything in a game like Pokemon and Choice Band helps you hit them. Doing 150 with your Zoroark-GX is often relevant and Trashalanche can use some damage modifiers sometimes, too. I like a count of two to make sure that you don’t have to constantly use Puzzle of Time to get it back, something that you still might do even with two of them.

1 Parallel City

Playing a Parallel City of your own is a nice soft-counter to Parallel City from your opponent, something that obviously hurts you. Parallel City is also very strong in combination with Garbodor, so this is a card that I’d like to fit even more of in this deck. Parallel City is one of the best cards in the Standard format metagame right now and many Zoroark-GX decks are upping their count of it to two copies, at the least.

4 Double Colorless Energy

Any Zoroark-GX deck should be playing four Double Colorless Energy to have the best possible chance of drawing into it early and having a nice stream of them during the game itself. Using Puzzle of Time to get back Double Colorless Energy is annoying and by having four of them you’ll have to do that less and less.

3 Psychic Energy

Garbodor with Trashalanche is still one of your attackers so you’re going to need Psychic Energy to use its attacks. Keep in mind that these could easily become Unit Energy LPM if wanted so that you could put something in that made use of one of the other types. I think you could possibly go down to two of these as well since you aren’t attacking with Garbodor nearly as much as you are with Zoroark-GX which takes Double Colorless Energy, of course.


Klefki STS 80

This card can serve the same purpose as Bursting Balloon in this deck as it gets removed from your Pokemon at the end of your turn. I like that it’s searchable with Brigette or Ultra Ball too, making it easier to find a Tool card during your turn. Your Brigette can effectively turn into a Hex Maniac with Klefki!

Enhanced Hammer

This card pairs well with Garbodor with Garbotoxin as what is simply extra disruption. Discarding Special Energy from your opponent’s Pokemon is a nice add-on to have right now so this card could prove valuable in this deck.

Rescue Stretcher

You could potentially cut one of your Garbodor for this card if you feel comfortable with that swap. Obviously, Prizing on one of your Garbodor becomes an issue at that point but Rescue Stretcher is certainly nice in the games where you just want to have a card with more flexible options that can accomplish more than just having a solid copy of a specific Pokemon.


Garbodor Decks (Garbodor / Buzzwole-GX, Garbodor / Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX, Garbodor / Espeon-GX, Garbodor / Golisopod-GX, Garbodor / Lucario-GX) | Generally Slightly Favorable

Garbodor decks are weak to Trashalanche and Zoroark-GX coincidentally. Watch your Item usage in any of these matchups, though, as your opponent could potentially gain an advantage over you if you slip up. Zoroark-GX can easily take down a Garbodor with Trashalanche of your opponent’s and most tech Pokemon are address with a Trashalanche of your own, especially in the Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX versions of Garbodor.

Gardevoir-GX | Unfavorable

You can use your Garbotoxin in this matchup to gain a bit of an advantage, but that advantage is very minimal. Gardevoir-GX still plays two or three Field Blower, and in doing so it can get around Garbotoxin. You don’t have a very formidable attacker in the deck except for Zoroark-GX against a Gardevoir-GX deck, and your opponent can simply use Gallade to take it down easily. Trashalanche is countered with Twilight GX so this matchup is hopelessly bad. I don’t think Gardevoir-GX will be very popular, nor do I think it’s very good. I wouldn’t worry about it, although you still may run into it occasionally. You would have to seriously disrupt the flow of this deck to fit in some niche techs to counter Gardevoir-GX and I really just don’t think that’s worth in it in the grand scheme of things.

Greninja BREAK | Slightly Favorable

Your Garbodor is obviously amazing since you can stop Giant Water Shuriken and Space Beacon from Starmie, but Bursting Balloon is secretly strong against Greninja BREAK as well! With it on a Zoroark-GX, you can do 120 damage and if your opponent attacks into it then he or she will have a Greninja BREAK either get knocked out immediately or you can finish it off on your next turn. This makes Zoroark-GX your best attacker in this matchup starting off and in the late game you can use Trashalanche to finish things as Greninja BREAK generally plays a lot of Items to set up all of its clunky Pokemon.

Ho-Oh-GX | Slightly Unfavorable

Ho-Oh-GX is scary if it goes off right away with a Kiawe play to power up a Ho-Oh-GX from scratch. Against that, you’ll want to just hit into it with Tapu Lele-GX and Energy Drive or give it a good smack from Zoroark-GX. Having Garbotoxin online makes it a little harder for your opponent to take one-hit Knockouts since Volcanion-EX can no longer be used, but your opponent will still be playing plenty of Choice Band to offset that disadvantage. Trashalanche generally isn’t amazing starting off either since Ho-Oh-GX decks can typically limit Items well. Playing a Tapu Koko would help this matchup out quite a bit if you were having issues with it. Ho-Oh-GX is also very weak to N in the late game so that’s a way that you can get back into the game as well.

Lycanroc-GX Decks (Lycanroc-GX / Buzzwole-GX and Lycanroc-GX / Lucario-GX) | Generally Slightly Favorable

In these matchups you want to get both Garbotoxin and Trashalanche down if you can accomplish that. Trashalanche should serve as your main attacker, but you’re still going to need some Zoroark-GX down to accomplish the things you want to by drawing extra cards. Bursting Balloon can actually be huge on the damage side of things, setting Knockouts up for Zoroark-GX on coming turns. Garbotoxin will shut down your opponent’s Octillery from being used and make it easier for you to navigate against what are normally super aggressive and oppressive decks. Lucario-GX is the newcomer in this category, and again, it can be easily addressed with Garbodor with Trashalanche.

Mill Toolbox | Slightly Unfavorable

Against a stall deck you don’t have many options except for Trashalanche to take one-hit Knockouts (eventually). That said, you will need to do something in the early game to create aggression, and unfortunately, that means you’ll probably need to attack with Zoroark-GX a little to start off. Your Energy will almost never be safe, so you’ll want to make sure that you use them wisely. Ideally, you can use all three of your Psychic Energy and get all three of them back with your Puzzle of Time plays, creating what will hopefully be enough Energy for your Trashalanche to sweep the game. Mill decks vary in structure, so these matchups are best to be thought more extensively once you have the misfortune of being paired with one. Oranguru from Ultra Prism is a consideration if you really want to counter them, but I don’t think it's worth it as Oranguru can’t put any pressure on your opponent and you will likely end your match in a tie at best.

Silvally-GX Toolbox | Slightly Favorable

This deck isn’t very good or popular, but against it you can set up Knockouts with Bursting Balloon since Silvally-GX has 210 HP and your Garbotoxin will also be very strong as per usual as well to shut off Gyro Unit in this case. Your opponent will be using a much slower deck, but you’ll want to make sure that you don’t put more than three Pokemon on your Bench so that Rebel GX doesn’t go wild. In the late game, as usual, your Trashalanche should deal enough to take some clutch Knockouts.

Talonflame / Rampardos | Unfavorable

This new flame of a deck is really heating up the metagame. Rampardos is very strong against Zoroark-GX so you’re going to need to be wary of that. You do need to be aggressive and attack as quick as you can, but you don’t have many great options. Adding a Tapu Koko could help in this matchup too if that’s something you want to be prepared for. Don’t bother with Garbotoxin at all in this matchup since it does nothing against your opponent’s deck. The deck does play a lot of Items, so in the late game your Trashalanche can be a force.

Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX | Slightly Favorable

Garbotoxin as soon as you can! Bursting Balloon also sets up Knockouts in this matchup so be aware of that. Playing around Ability-lock is very hard for Vikavolt to do, so time your N plays wisely to disrupt your opponent as much as possible.

Volcanion-EX Toolbox | Slightly Favorable

This matchup is very similar to that of the Vikavolt one, but your opponent is a little slower since he or she needs to use Max Elixir to accelerate Energy as opposed to using an Ability. This said, you can run wild with your Garbotoxin and stop the damage buffs of Steam Up and make sure to get Trashalanche going too, since your opponent is bound to play a lot of Items. Zoroark-GX is pretty difficult for a Volcanion-EX to take down so you can feel free to go in with it as long as you have Garbotoxin online. Be wary of Field Blower counts as once your opponent plays all of them you can really pack a punch with your Ability lock.

Zoroark-GX Decks (Zoroark-GX / Garbodor, Zoroark-GX / Gardevoir-GX, Zoroark-GX / Glaceon-GX, Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX, Zoroark-GX / Greninja BREAK, Zoroark-GX / Lucario-GX, Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX, Zoroark-GX / Magnezone, Zoroark-GX / Solgaleo-GX, and Zoroark-GX / Weavile) | Generally Even

Against Zoroark-GX decks you need to make it a point to get your Garbotoxin live as soon as you can. Shutting off your opponent’s Trade and keeping yours is critical to winning. Bursting Balloon can be used to set up Knockouts on opposing Golisopod-GX or Zoroark-GX, and against Lucario-GX variants you’ll be able to go in with Trashalanche for easy one-hit Knockouts. You’re the more oppressive Zoroark-GX variant in comparison to all of these, so as long as your opponent doesn’t run hot with Field Blower you can find ways to win.


This deck is very interesting and has a lot of options going into Portland, Oregon Regionals. It has strong matchups against many of the Psychic-weak decks out there right now and the release of Lucario-GX brings another good matchup to the table that you can easily beat. If you’re looking to play a consistent Zoroark-GX deck that’s stacked up well in the upcoming metagame, this one might be for you. Garbotoxin and Trade in the same deck is insane and I look forward to testing this deck even more in the days to come. Good luck in all your endeavors, later!


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