Picking a Counter and Sticking with It — the Best Deck to Rival Expanded Zoroark-GX
The Expanded format has all but morphed into the "Zoroark-GX Trading Card Game". How can you possibly stop it?
05/03/2018 by Caleb Gedemer
What is the best counter deck to Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) in the Expanded format? Garbodor / Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) has been kicking up the dirt since its conception in the winter of 2014 and it most recently took a Top Eight spot at the German Regional Championship a couple weeks ago. Most counter decks have a problem, they are either inconsistent (most things are in comparison to Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) ) or they take losses to pretty much everything that is not Zoroark-GX itself. I think this counter deck, however, is the most well-rounded of them all available to you in the Expanded format and has the best chance of beating more than just Zoroark-GX.
Quaking Punch is both a loved and hated attack, as stopping your opponent from using Items is pretty disruptive. The Expanded format has been notoriously Item-heavy for years, and the current metagame is no different. The best partnership for Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) has changed around throughout the past few years, but Garbodor has always been solid. I think at this point with it winning two Top Eight spots in recent Regional Championships, it is safe to say that Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) is best paired with Garbodor with Garbotoxin.
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) is already crippled by Ability lock, but the combination of both Ability and Item locks is too much for it to handle. Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) decks are notoriously inconsistent, so if you are going to play the deck you need to be ready to make it as fluid as possible if you want to do well. I do not like playing inconsistent decks myself, but with such an upside of beating most Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) decks the merit is there for this build. Time to check it out…
Garbodor / Seismitoad-EX
- 3x Trubbish
- 4x Seismitoad EX
- 1x Garbodor
- 1x Garbodor
- 1x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Shaymin EX
- 4x N
- 2x Professor Sycamore
- 2x Cynthia
- 1x Team Flare Grunt
- 1x Shadow Triad
- 1x Guzma
- 1x Ghetsis
- 1x Colress
- 1x Acerola
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Hypnotoxic Laser
- 4x Float Stone
- 3x Fighting Fury Belt
- 3x Enhanced Hammer
- 1x Nest Ball
- 1x Field Blower
- 1x Computer Search
- 3x Virbank City Gym
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
- 3x Water Energy
4 Seismitoad-EX FFI 20
Starting with Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) should be your priority in every game. Quaking Punch is your main attack in this game and you want to be using it as quickly as possible. Playing four Seismitoad-EX gives you a strong chance of opening it with only six non-Seismitoad-EX Basics in the deck. You will find them early and often with this many and you should not ever have a reason to play a Pokemon recovery card with the maximum copies you can play in the deck.
3 Trubbish NVI 48
I like a three-count on Trubbish (NVI; 48) because it improves your odds of having it in your opening hand and helps you get it in play sooner than later. Garbodor with Garbotoxin is one of your main priorities so Trubbish should be too. I like the Garbage Collection one since it can serve as a consistency card in a pinch if you need to get a draw Supporter from your discard pile and in general it is much better than the other Trubbish. 60 HP is lower than some of the others, but having a single Retreat is better than two and that makes your Water Energy become ways to Retreat throughout the game. I would recommend this count no matter what to anyone!
1 Garbodor LTR 68 and 1 Garbodor BKP 57
Garbotoxin only shuts down Abilities for this deck, nothing more, nothing less. It does not matter which one you play, so I play one of each just because. The only time it would ever matter which one you have is if your opponent copied the attack of one of your Garbodor (LTR; 68) , but aside from Zoroark with Foul Play, that will probably never happen, and even if it did, it would be irrelevant.
1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
Wonder Tag improves the consistency of every deck and this one is no different. If you just want to get a draw Supporter to get things going in the early game than Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) will be invaluable for you. Shaymin-EX is nice for turns that you dig for extra cards, so I definitely like a split of the two. Tapu Lele-GX can get you tech Supporters, and boy, this deck plays a lot of them so you are going to want that option.
1 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
Sometimes you just need a Double Colorless Energy to attack or maybe a Float Stone, so Shaymin-EX is super nice to turn your Ultra Ball into ways to extend your plays. I like having a single copy, or even two, to make sure that you do not miss an attack. Sky Return can occasionally be useful as well to get the liability off the field and set up a Knockout.
N is the best Supporter that this deck can play because it is so disruptive in combination with Quaking Punch. Even if your opponent gets off to a hot start, you can always keep it in check with N and make huge comebacks. I prefer four of these over any of the other Supporters available to you and like a higher count so that you can stay consistent while also performing the goal of the deck: disrupting your opponent.
2 Professor Sycamore
As opposed to playing a full set of four Professor Sycamore, I like to split them half and half with Cynthia. Professor Sycamore is the best way to draw the most cards in a pinch, but this deck plays like of resources that you want to be careful with. If you discard too many of them all at once, you are going to be in a tough bind that is hard to recover from.
Shuffling away things like Hypnotoxic Laser instead of having to discard them is super nice. Cynthia (UPR; 119) is one of the ways that I think Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) has reclaimed a state in the Expanded format since it had been missing some of the much-needed consistency that other decks have and that it lacked. Cynthia is a low-risk way to improve consistency but not destroy the basis of a deck.
1 Team Flare Grunt
Energy disruption is one of the ways that Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) decks win games. Team Flare Grunt (XY; 129) is a guaranteed way for you to remove one of your opponent’s Energy immediately with no drawback. You can recycle it with VS Seeker which can be super annoying for your opponent and really put the heat on. Team Flare Grunt is especially useful against decks that play Basic Energy like Glaceon-GX. You can remove a Special Energy and a Basic Energy all in one turn from your opponent and completely strip an attacker down to the point of being useless.
1 Shadow Triad
Getting Hypnotoxic Laser is something that I really like to do with a Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) deck. Shadow Triad is the only easy way to do that (Puzzle of Time is difficult for this deck to pull off) and you can even do it multiple times with VS Seeker! This deck’s damage output is quite low, so having a way to recycle damage modifiers is something that makes it incredible. Trying to get your opponent’s Pokemon knocked out going into your turn is almost a “win condition” so having a huge supply of Hypnotoxic Laser is going to be key for you to win games. Shadow Triad (PF; 102)
I think that every deck should have at least one “gust effect” and Guzma is the best choice for this deck. Lysandre is nice and all, but you are almost always going to have a Float Stone in play when playing this deck so you may as well play Guzma. Sometimes it will be a sweet way to switch your Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) around and avoid a Knockout, too!
When you break the Item lock by using Grenade Hammer to do more damage, you are going to want to have Ghetsis (PF; 101) on tap to strip away your opponent’s Items anyways. Ghetsis is the only surefire way to do that, and in general it can be nice in the mid game to put a bunch of useless cards back into your opponent’s deck for him or her to draw. It is a very nice disruption card to have and I would definitely play it in this deck.
Colress (PS; 118) is second to only Professor Sycamore for this deck when it comes to drawing cards. It will often be a significant boost in card advantage over the likes of Cynthia, so I recommend having a copy of Colress for an extra card-drawing bump. VS Seeker will allow you to use this many times if you want, so you should always have access to many of the cards in your deck with large card-draw sizes.
Denying Knockouts is disruptive and wears your opponent’s resources down. Acerola (BUS; 112) can do just that and since this deck plays Fighting Fury Belt you will have plenty of time to sit back and Quaking Punch over and over. Acerola is incredible because it keeps the Energy you have attached in play, and even your Tools, so putting a Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) back in your hand with no drawback is a reality!
4 VS Seeker
Recycling your Supporters keeps you wearing down your opponent’s deck. With so much disruption tactics available to you already, the only thing that’s better than that is, well, even more disruption! VS Seeker improves the consistency of any Expanded deck, too, by creating even more outs to Supporters in the later stages of the game so having a full block of these is going to be incredibly helpful in your gameplan.
4 Ultra Ball
You might not use all of these game for their intended effect, but they will more than certainly help you out with thinning cards out of your deck. Not only that, but in the early game before Garbotoxin is live you can use them to fetch your support Pokemon and obtain possess even more outs to card draw.
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
Poisoning your opponent is super, but getting them to fall Asleep can be even more degenerate. Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) does not do very much damage on its own, but with Hypnotoxic Laser (PS; 123) it starts to add up. You can “pass your opponent into Knockouts” where you get a Knockout to occur coming into your turn which is one of the ultimate goals of a Seismitoad-EX deck. In doing that, you make a very awkward situation occur for your opponent and force them to make a tough decision. It almost becomes like a “gust effect” in of itself since your opponent will need to choose a new Active Pokemon that will just get hit with even more damage, and maybe even get rendered useless itself!
4 Float Stone
Getting Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) Active as soon as possible should be your starting priority. From there, you want to active Garbotoxin. Both of these things are made possible in part by Float Stone, so having a full set of four copies is a no-brainer.
3 Fighting Fury Belt
There is never “too much” damage modification, but three Fighting Fury Belt (BKP; 99) is really all you are ever going to need with Acerola in your deck. It is simply unnecessary to have more than three if you are saving them from being discarded much of the time by putting the Pokemon it is attached to back into your hand so you should never worry about having more than this. In fact, I would maybe even look to these when searching for a card to cut if you had to!
3 Enhanced Hammer
The Expanded format is full of Special Energy cards so a large count of Enhanced Hammer (DE; 94) makes a ton of sense. I like three because it is just about right in the middle when it comes to counts. Four is too many because you will draw into them when you cannot even use them yet, and two feels like too few. Three has been an incredible count that many players have had great success with!
1 Nest Ball
This ( Nest Ball (SUM; 158) ) is just another neutral way of finding a Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) or Trubbish in the early game. At worst, it becomes just a simple way of thinning a card out of your deck. I like Nest Ball since it just adds more general consistency to your deck when it comes to getting the Pokemon that matter most out of your deck.
1 Field Blower
This is a flex spot right now and I am not entirely sure what to do with it. Field Blower (GRI; 125) can be super nice to serve as another Stadium disruptor, but more importantly, I have found it to be amazing against Pokemon with Float Stone attached, removing that annoying pivot from play. Your opponent can really benefit from a Float Stone being in play since it can move a Pokemon out of Poisoning and mess with your numbers.
1 Computer Search
Computer Search (BC; 137) .The best, most consistent Ace Spec in the game belongs in a deck that struggles to find a balance between consistency and techs. I like this card in here and would not recommend switching it for anything else as the other Ace Spec cards simply are not as consistent and powerful, wrapped in one.
3 Virbank City Gym
Four Virbank City Gym (PS; 126) could even be a consideration, or a Lusamine. Three seems like a happy medium for now, similar in logic as to the three copies of Enhanced Hammer. It is just a nice way to balance all that you want to fit into the deck without being greedy for space.
4 Double Colorless Energy
Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) is your main attacker and uses Double Colorless Energy primarily. You are going to want a full set of four of them so you have the best odds of getting them when you want them and not running out during the course of a game.
3 Water Energy
Three Water Energy has always been the most optimal count of Energy for this deck since Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) can power up its Grenade Hammer and you have one “extra” Water Energy for the times you have to discard one. I like Water Energy for when you are up against something like Drampa-GX that can remove your Double Colorless Energy easily, and you can then power up your Quaking Punch with Basic Energy to work around that.
Buzzwole-GX Toolbox | Even
Fighting Pokemon do lots of damage, unlike Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) . You can keep them in check with Hypnotoxic Laser and Energy disruptors, though. If your opponent can pop off with Max Elixir quickly then this matchup can be a little harder than usual. Lycanroc-GX can also be a problem, so be sure to limit your Bench accordingly to avoid Knockouts from it. Acerola can be used effectively to shut your opponent down and avoid Knockouts.
Garbodor / Drampa-GX | Slightly Unfavorable
Righteous Edge is the biggest problem for you in this matchup. You will need to play around it by using your Water Energy wisely to power up your Quaking Punch. I will say that this matchup is pretty rough in practice, and any edge you have generally comes from random luck with Hypnotoxic Laser. Garbodor with Trashalanche is nearly impossible to play around and once it starts swinging it does not stop. Bent Spoon is a cheeky tech that a friend of mine tried to get around Righteous Edge, but overall it was awful.
Garbodor / Sableye | Even
This matchup depends largely on the number of Supporter card Energy disruptors that your opponent is playing. You will want to be smart with your Energy attachments and make sure that you can pressure your opponent as much as possible. Oddly, Confuse Ray can make your life harder, too, but you can get around that as well by using Acerola. Your opponent will be playing Garbodor with Trashalanche, but it should not be as scary as it is in other decks since it relies on using Special Energy to attack in Sableye, Energy that you can disrupt.
Garbodor / Seismitoad-EX | Even
The mirror is a horrendous game to play, and it comes down to Energy denial as well. Team Flare Grunt and Acerola are going to be huge for you, but problems arise if your opponent is playing more of those cards than you are. Back in the days of Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) metagames, it was common to see multiple copies of Team Flare Grunt and even Xerosic played to counter Quaking Punch. Nowadays Seismitoad-EX is not as popular so higher counts of those cards are unusual to be seen. Nonetheless, it is still a good idea to watch out for them!
Gardevoir-GX | Even
If your opponent can get out Gardevoir-GX then this matchup can be hard for you. Quaking Punch makes it so that your opponent will likely have to get Gardevoir-GX out by evolving all the way from Ralts, without Rare Candy, so that puts a lot of pressure on your opponent’s side of things. Ralts with Psybolt is pesky, so have a Guzma ready to get around that. Garbotoxin stops Secret Spring which makes it difficult for your opponent to do big damage all at once. The ways you lose involve two-hit Knockouts that get bigger and bigger.
Glaceon-GX Toolbox | Slightly Favorable
Rough Seas is the only reason your opponent does not get smashed by Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) . The funny thing, though, is that you can use Rough Seas yourself! The damage of your Hypnotoxic Laser eventually builds up, but you win this matchup because of your Energy disruption. Eventually your opponent should fall into a rut of missed attacks and then you will get ahead. This matchup can be difficult if your opponent finds ways to do the same back to you, since he or she, too, plays Energy disruption.
Greninja BREAK | Slightly Favorable
Garbotoxin and Item lock completely decimate Greninja BREAK. Once you have a stronghold on the matchup, you can begin to start using Grenade Hammer to one-shot the rest of the Greninja that are hanging around. Greninja BREAK itself can be dealt with by using Grenade Hammer with a Fighting Fury Belt, Hypnotoxic Laser and a Virbank City Gym all at once. N really hurts your opponent in the late game, too, by shuffling away Energy that are returned to your opponent’s hand with Moonlight Slash.
Lucario-GX Toolbox | Slightly Favorable
Lucario-GX can get to you only a couple times before your lock really gets to your opponent. Cantankerous Beatdown GX is one out to a one-hit Knockout, and aside from that your opponent might get lucky early with a combination one-hit Knockout play involving Choice Band. Once your Item lock hits that will not even be a possibility anymore and Regirock-EX will also be disabled by Garbotoxin. I would not expect to lose this matchup very often unless you are foolish.
Stoutland / Raichu | Highly Favorable
Stoutland decks do not play an out to Garbotoxin anymore, and even if they did, Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) does them in pretty well itself. Item lock is far too much for the deck to handle and Garbotoxin shuts the entire concept down. You should never lose this matchup unless your opponent found a miraculous way to combat both Ability and Item lock.
Sylveon-GX | Slightly Unfavorable
Sylveon-GX is pretty tough since Magical Ribbon gets to search your opponent’s entire deck for the perfect cards. Those cards are usually going to be Supporter-based Energy disruptors like Team Flare Grunt that can really throw you through a loop. Sylveon-GX might appear Item-reliant, but it can handle itself under Item lock very well. Your Hypnotoxic Laser can get you ahead if you land a heads, putting the Sylveon-GX to sleep, which can in turn cause your opponent to miss a Magical Ribbon for a turn or two where you can take some crucial Prizes.
Trevenant BREAK | Slightly Unfavorable
Trevenant BREAK is a breeze if you get a Tool on a Trubbish before the Item lock of Forest’s Curse hits. Garbotoxin makes Trevenant super easy to beat since you have the power to Item lock your opponent and he or she no longer can do the same to you. Then you will be free to discard your opponent’s Energy when you want and Acerola to avoid Knockouts. If your opponent denies you the opportunity to get Garbotoxin, though, it will be super hard to win. Guzma can get around a Trevenant and give you another chance to put a Tool down, though, so all hope is not lost.
Wailord-EX | Slightly Unfavorable
Wailord-EX decks usually do not play Rough Seas anymore, so you can effectively pressure them over and over with Hypnotoxic Laser and Quaking Punch. Without Items, your opponent still does have many ways to discard Energy, but they are not “infinite” without VS Seeker and a variety of other Item options. You can win this matchup depending on how your opponent draws! Shadow Triad helps a lot to keep the damage pressure up.
Zoroark-GX / Alolan Muk | Favorable
This is one of the best matchups you have against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) decks, although you are pretty heavily favored against most of them. Your opponent is slower, does not have as many ways to thin the deck early, and plays some big Pokemon with large Retreat that you can lock Active. Prioritize getting Garbotoxin down in all of these matchups and going in with Quaking Punch.
Zoroark-GX / Exeggcute | Slightly Favorable
Battle Compressor counts can affect this matchup since your opponent can quickly thin his or her deck. Watch out for Red Card and Ghetsis plays where your opponent can completely trounce your entire hand! This is one of the scariest Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) decks to face since it has a much more dominant control package in place.
Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX | Slightly Unfavorable
Golisopod-GX is super hard to deal with, to the point of making this matchup unfavorable. While Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) can still be shut down, it is more about the first few turns that matter the most where your opponent can get some Golisopod-GX going. If your opponent gets to use Armor Press then the game is pretty much over. Crossing Cut GX can hide a Golisopod-GX on the Bench, too, avoiding residual damage that would otherwise be incurred.
Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX | Favorable
The Basic Energy that your opponent will be playing are just about the only scary things in this matchup. Lycanroc-GX takes two Energy attachments so it is going to be pretty unrealistic for your opponent to power that up. Again, Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) just gets shut down and you will be free to do your dirty work. N can seal things up if your opponent manages to get an early lead.
Zoroark-GX / Night March | Slightly Favorable
Night March is a problem if it can get going quickly, but even then, you can always come back with N. Without a direct counter like Karen, you will always be at the mercy of what your opponent draws which can sometimes lead to losses. That is uncommon though since your opponent’s deck is so full of Items and you can leave them sputtering for most of the game.
Zoroark-GX / Seismitoad-EX | Slightly Favorable
Your opponent can now use his or her own Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) in this matchup to lock you out of using Garbotoxin if he or she gets it at the right time which can be useful. While that is nice, though, the Items that are included in the deck are still unable to be used and it will be more of a false luxury. Most builds include Supporter-based Energy disruption so you will need to work around that. Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) can be a threat to finish up Knockouts once some pressure is put on with your opponent’s Seismitoad-EX. In most cases this matchup is still favorable!
This deck is what I believe to be the best way to counter Expanded Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) right now. There are not many viable options that can both beat Zoroark-GX but also maintain strong matchups around the board outside of this one! If you are looking for a last-minute pick to counter the metagame in Utah for Regionals this weekend, here you go. Take care, and good luck!
Computer Search (BC; 137)
Enhanced Hammer (DE; 94)
Ghetsis (PF; 101)
Shadow Triad (PF; 102)
Colress (PS; 118)
Hypnotoxic Laser (PS; 123)
Virbank City Gym (PS; 126)
Garbodor (LTR; 68)
Team Flare Grunt (XY; 129)
Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20)
Trubbish (NVI; 48)
Fighting Fury Belt (BKP; 99)
Nest Ball (SUM; 158)
Field Blower (GRI; 125)
Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60)
Acerola (BUS; 112)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)
Cynthia (UPR; 119)
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