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Caleb Gedemer

Running into the Light — What Changes in Standard with Forbidden's Release?

Beast Ring, Greninja-GX, Malamar... Alolan Exeggutor?! Forbidden Light is going to shake Standard up. Check out what's happening to preexisting decks and new ones, too.

05/18/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

Going forward, as far as I know, there are about four major North American Standard format events remaining: Mexico Special Event (05/19); Wisconsin Regional Championship (06/03); Mexico Special Event (06/16); Mexico Regional Championship (06/23). These events are going to be incredibly important for players looking to finish up World Championship invites and for those that are vying for top-of-the-rankings finishes to advance directly to day two of the World Championships. Forbidden Light introduces a few new archetypes, but most notably, it buffs out an already powerful deck in Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) . Let’s start with a review of Standard before Forbidden Light…

The Best Decks (Before Forbidden Light)

Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX

This has a stronghold on the format and is undisputedly the best deck out there. Most of the game’s top players have been playing it nonstop and have the list down pat. It consistently tops events and has won the past two major Standard format events (Latin American Internationals and Toronto Regionals). The deck is getting good to the point that most decks need to devote multiple spots to beating it, and even those don’t always work if the deck runs well on Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  attempts.

Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX

Hate it or love it, this deck is the format’s glass cannon deck. When it works it works, when it doesn’t it doesn’t. Vikavolt can be hard to set up, and sometimes even harder to maintain. This deck can realistically beat anything besides Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) , but struggles to beat anything when it doesn’t draw well which puts it in a unique scenario each event. Its Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  matchup leaves something to be desired, too.

Zoroark-GX / Garbodor

Making a huge resurgence at the past few Standard events, this unusual partnership has racked up some big Championship Point totals and won some serious cash prizing. Lists seem to deviate, largely about whether to use Bursting Balloon or not, but in either iteration it is strong. You get the early game consistency of a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  deck and the late game dominance of Garbotoxin and N in one package. Trashalanche swings your matchup against Fighting decks (usually) and is useful against nearly every deck because it’s just a strong attack in general. This is the biggest outlyer deck out there right now, but it has its niche for success.

Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX

Old faithful, I suppose, this just doesn’t seem to go away and Ian Robb keeps proving us wrong time and time again when we think it's rolling out of the format. Built on strong attackers and longevity, smacking for two-hit Knockouts doesn’t get old. Perhaps the release of even more Fighting support will push this deck even further out of the format.

Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX

My favorite deck struggles with Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  decks, even with lots of techs specifically for the matchup. The “new” lists with eleven Fighting Energy rarely miss Max Elixir (BKP; 102) , so it’s an uphill battle to win the matchup if you’re up against a strong player. I think this is still the best Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  deck, but it can fall the hardest ( Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) , being a two-Energy attacker, can be hard to power up if you fall behind). I’d say it has the highest ceiling but the lowest floor in a nutshell!

Wind of Change

Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX → Still the best deck?

I would say yes, and honestly by a fair margin. The release of Beast Ring makes Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  incredibly powerful, as if it wasn’t already. Beast Ring gives you a better opportunity to trade Prizes just based on attackers and attachments, so you can worry less about not being able to build up more attackers and missing Max Elixir (BKP; 102) . I’ve seen some players cut Max Elixir (BKP; 102) , but that is dreadfully bad -- you still want the early game boost that Max Elixir brings. More slept on, the new Rockruff with 70 HP is an incredible little tool for this deck, and any other Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  deck in general. You can survive two Jet Punch hits, and even a Giant Water Shuriken from Greninja BREAK! I think most decks are going to need to dedicate upwards to five slots to beating Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) , as crazy as that sounds; it’s that powerful!

Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX → Shoved out of the format?

Beast Ring allows Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  to trade even easier with Tapu Bulu GX (BW; null) , and for that reason I think it’s on its way out of the Standard format. To make things worse, Malamar can also trade with it effectively and is simply a much more consistent deck. Garbodor might even pick up some popularity to counter Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  as well, making things even more difficult for Tapu Bulu GX (BW; null) .

Zoroark-GX / Garbodor → Buzzwole-GX boost?

Garbodor is a weird pairing with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , like I said earlier, but it makes sense in a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) -dominated metagame. Giving yourself access to Trashalanche makes a lot of sense and gives you splendid opportunities to punish Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  for Weakness. I think Garbodor is going to become the most popular pairing for Zoroark-GX going forward, so be on the lookout and consider the deck yourself.

Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX → Is it finally gone?

I think that Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Golisopod-GX was already an underwhelming deck in yesterday’s metagame, but in today’s it’s even worse because of Beast Ring, of course. I don’t think the deck does extremely well against Malamar decks either, so I think this deck is going to finally be on its way out of the format. Time will tell, as it does seem to always hang around, but for the time being there are simply better partners for Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) .

Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX → Clinging on for dear life?

My favorite deck might survive. I’m not very optimistic about it, but it’s certainly possible. Parallel City is still very strong against the new Malamar deck, and you can tech the deck out even more for Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  decks. The new Buzzwole and Diancie can fit into the list nicely as well, giving you a nice non-EX/GX boost for mirror matches and randomly placed one-hit Knockouts when Sledgehammer gets its damage boost. Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  makes Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  incredibly versatile and I’m still looking forward to testing this archetype out more to see how it can adapt going forward. It’s made it this far, so let’s not count it out!

Newbies

Naganadel-GX Toolbox → Yet another Buzzwole-GX counter?

This underwhelming type-advantaged Stage 1 that does not have Trade can counter Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  pretty easily, but that’s about it… I’ve seen people playing online with Naganadel-GX and Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  itself, along with Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  of course, but it seemed like a strictly worse Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  deck. I like the idea of Naganadel-GX in theory, but with the same exact Weakness as Buzzwole-GX I can’t see it helping in other matchups other than, well, against Buzzwole-GX…

Malamar → Another one!

Another Psychic type archetype that’s going to beat Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  up might be just what we needed to keep the format in check. Ultra Necrozma-GX paired with Malamar is pretty obvious, but less transparent is the importance of Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX to the deck. Dark Flash can one-shot a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  on its own, but Moon’s Eclipse GX gives this card an opportunity to truly light up the dark. It gives you the perfect opportunity to come back from a Prize deficit, even preventing your opponent from taking Prizes themselves.

Turbo Lapras-GX → Blast from the past?

Aqua Patch and Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  can outspeed Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) . As a friend of mine says “ Lapras GX (SUM; 139) can just vomit out Energy and outpace Buzzwole-GX”. This is widely true, but that specific matchup is still incredibly close. Why is Lapras-GX suddenly good now? Golisopod-GX has been getting edged more and more out of the metagame recently, so Grass-weak Pokemon might have an opportunity to shine. With things being so easily powered up for the Lapras-GX player, it can go toe-to-toe with the aggressive decks that the Standard format has to offer already.

Zoroark-GX / Alolan Exeggutor → Better than Golisopod-GX?

My impulsive answer is yes, as a 160 HP non-EX/GX Pokemon sounds delightful to me. The only big problem Alolan Exeggutor has is the need to play multiple types of Basic Energy to boost its damage output. The goal is to swing for two-hit Knockouts for just a single Energy, and has a non-EX/GX your opponent is going to need to invest quite a bit into finally knocking it out. The space required to fit all the Energy is difficult to come by and harder yet is the requirement you need to fulfill in getting those very Energy into your discard pile… Will this deck be able to compete with the rest of the format? I think if it can set up with the proper Energy in your discard pile it certainly can, but developing a list that can do that consistently may take time.

Zoroark-GX / Greninja-GX → Who needs Sky Field for one-hit Knockouts?

Gale Shuriken and Shuriken Flurry can “boost” the damage output of Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , getting it to the level of taking one-hit Knockouts with ease. Riotous Beating doing 150 with a Choice Band is already super strong, but you can realistically take anything out now. Tapu Koko with Flying Flip is a great inclusion in this deck and can make Knockouts even easier. Greninja-GX is a great attacker itself if you can set it up, so this deck has some nice potential. The biggest problem it has is Parallel City, though, as Bench space is very hard to come by. I think this deck will flop in the end for that reason, unfortunately.

Rogue Spotlight: Garbodor / Noivern-GX

Wait, what’s going on here?! Noivern GX (BUS; 147) , I thought that card was trash; I bulked it! Well, it may have been, but I think it might actually be decent in the upcoming format because of the release of Mysterious Treasure, a card that this deck was desperately searching for to boost its consistency. Getting any of the Pokemon in your deck aside from Noibat, Mysterious Treasure not only gets you Pokemon when you need them, but it thins your deck for the late game so you don’t draw awfully off N drops from your opponent to low numbers. Formerly, Garbodor decks were incredibly inconsistent and late game N plays were often fatal. This new addition to the deck should rectify that in a major way and allow you to stay in games that come down to N. I like this deck a lot; as Trashalanche is a major player in a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) -centered format and you can get some cheap, easy Knockouts with it.

3 Noibat BKT 132 and 2 Noivern-GX BUS 99

Three might seem like a weird count for Noibat, but I started with four and it was far too many. In a game you’re likely to only use one or two Noivern GX (BUS; 147) , since it’s such a crippling card, so three of these does the trick. This one is best since it can discard an Energy from your opponent’s Pokemon on a coin flip which is a neat little trick in a pinch. As for Noivern-GX, Item lock is a disaster for nearly every deck out there right now, and Special Energy lock is rough too. I like that you can finish off lots of games with Boomburst GX. Item lock and Ability lock in one is far too much for today’s Standard format to handle, so it’s a great thing that Mysterious Treasure was released to boost the power ceiling of this formerly awful deck.

2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60

With so many outs to Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60)  with Mysterious Treasure in the deck, I think you only want two Tapu Lele-GX. They eat up valuable space on your Bench and you don’t lose much consistency at all by playing two since you have so many other outs!

2 Trubbish BKP 56 and 1 Trubbish GRI 50

Acid Spray is the best Trubbish, but I’ve been liking one of the Stomp Off ones as well for games where you have a chance to deck your opponent out, or if he or she uses a Puzzle of Time to put something on top of the deck, something you can then discard with Stomp Off. You want to focus on Noivern-GX so playing a super thick line of Garbodor isn’t necessary.

2 Garbodor BKP 57 and 1 Garbodor GRI 51

Ability lock is a higher priority for this build than Trashalanche is, so playing a count favored to Garbodor is preferrable. I could see beefing out this line some more in the future, as this is a rough list, but I think you would add more to the Noivern-GX line again before doing that. Super Rod is included in this list to recycle some of the important pieces in the late game to keep things kicking.

4 N

Item lock is brutal for many reasons, but N makes it worse than normal since you put bad cards that your opponent doesn’t want back into his or her deck for later. In the late game N is also a disaster for your opponent when paired with Item lock and Garbodor online. Seismitoad-EX decks have almost always played a high count of N even with VS Seeker, and this deck is no different as there is no VS Seeker to be had so playing a maximum count is the way to do it.

4 Cynthia

Four Cynthia is nice for Garbodor decks to keep important cards stuck in the deck and not have to discard them excessively with Professor Sycamore. The clunkiness of Evolutions and the pieces that go into supporting them can be overwhelming, but I’ve found that between Mysterious Treasure and Ultra Ball you can effectively thin out so many cards in your deck that things go smoothly almost every time.

3 Professor Sycamore

Professor Sycamore might be a nuisance but it’s still strong overall. A hard draw of seven is great in any circumstance and it helps you thin out even more cards. The reason this deck wasn’t very great in the past was its major inconsistencies and a more Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) -focused metagame. The consistency is here for the deck now and that old Fairy queen is pretty much gone, so things are looking up in a great way.

3 Guzma

Guzma is nice for this deck to trap things and also to finish off the game with Trashalanche later on. I generally use it to trap things, however, usually something with a high Retreat or even something that my opponent is beginning to power up to get a crack in on it before it becomes too much of an issue.

1 Brigette

Brigette is still nice for this deck, but I wouldn’t play more than just a single copy with Mysterious Treasure, Ultra Ball and your Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) . You have enough outs as it is to make ends meet so adding more unnecessary fluff to your deck would be disadvantageous to making things flow in a consistent fashion.

4 Ultra Ball

Adding more cards to make things flow is always good. I could see cutting some Ultra Ball since you do have access to Mysterious Treasure now, but I’m far too infatuated with the maximum consistency to cut any corners just yet. If you’re dying to make room for something then these could be a spot to look at making a cut in, or even in the Mysterious Treasure category, too, if you deem that to be less important than Ultra Ball.

4 Mysterious Treasure

The ultimate consistency booster for Psychic and/or Dragon type decks, Mysterious Treasure is sure to please for a variety of reasons. In here, it can get everything but Noivern, and also help thin your deck out. It was hard for this deck to work in the past since it required so much setup, but now with Mysterious Treasure I think it has a new lease on life.

4 Max Elixir

These make this deck tick as you can power up a Noivern-GX out of nowhere! Granted, you do need to have a Noibat on the Bench for a Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  to be playable, but that’s no problem since you have so much search for Noivern-GX once you’re ready to Evolve. With the ten Basic Energy that I’m playing, you have a strong chance of hitting these right from the beginning.

4 Float Stone

Garbodor decks always need to get clunky Pokemon out of the Active spot, so Float Stone can really help out there in that department. Garbodor wants to get Garbotoxin online as soon as possible and Float Stone is going to be critical in achieving that.

2 Choice Band

Choice Band isn’t a super important card for this deck, but it’s nice to make three-hit Knockouts happen on most Pokemon-EX/GX with your Noivern-GX and Distortion, and it can shore up Trashalanche, too.

1 Super Rod

Getting Basic Energy back into your deck to boost your Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  odds is nice and recovery pieces of your attacks can be important as well. With a thinner Noivern-GX line you can find yourself wanting options for Pokemon recovery, and that’s where this card comes in.

1 Field Blower

Getting more Items in your opponent’s discard pile by discarding Tools can be useful, as can discarding Tools in general just to get annoying switching effects out of play for when Distortion finally hits and they can’t even be played anymore.

2 Parallel City

Ability lock, Item lock, and Bench restrictions are super degenerate when all paired together. Most decks will find it super hard to operate and that makes this card very strong in this deck.

5 Psychic Energy and 5 Darkness Energy

Noivern-GX takes both Psychic and Darkness Energy, so having an even mix of both is optimal in my eyes. It has been working well for me as you never really mind which one you hit on a Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  and you still have a healthy number of Energy for your Trashalanche later on, too.

The Good

Ability lock and Item lock are amazing when paired together. This deck has a lot of consistency at its disposal with Mysterious Treasure available, but I’ve excluded most possible techs from my current list. Why? I like to start with a great consistency base and more from there, if some of it seems unnecessary then I can remove things and add more fringe cards to reap their benefits. I think this deck has a lot of potential to be a scary lock deck in this format, so it’s something worth testing. Energy denial cards and Lusamine are some examples of potential techs that could make it big in this deck.

The Bad

Could this deck not just be inconsistent, but underwhelming too? Time will tell, but it looks incredibly strong to me right now. I’m excited to keep testing it in the coming weeks to make sure that it’s the real deal. Perhaps Noivern-GX doesn’t do enough damage for it to be relevant right now. I don’t think that’s the case, but if it were, you can mess around with more Choice Band or even Poison Barb to help out against non-EX/GX Pokemon with the “damage boost” from Poison damage.

Into the Light

Run no more, this guide should help you go confidently forward into your Standard format testing. Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  is polarizing powerful, and every deck needs to beat it consistently if you want to do well. It’s going to be very interesting to see going forward how heavily people prepare their decks for Buzzwole-GX without ruining their general strategy. With a lot of decks out there, it’s important to pick one you like and stick to it for the best results. Practicing a deck for a long while is going to be a better idea than picking something up at the last minute and hoping to do well with it.

Garbodor / Noivern-GX has crept up from the shadows and might be a legitimate threat going forward. It’s projected to have great matchups against the meta. Aside from that, there are a lot of different variations of the top decks from this set since it gave us so many options. For instance, while Malamar seems like the obvious pairing for Ultra Necrozma-GX, I’ve also tried a Turbo version of the deck with Beast Ring, Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  and Lunala Prism Star. Without Malamar you have a quicker early game, but a tougher time in the late game. Is that the way to do it, though? Time will tell!

That’s all everyone, I’ll be taking off! Stay tuned for my next article where I will more than likely dive into some specific decks from the new format. I hope you enjoyed this one, let it serve as an introduction to the beyond. Take care everyone, good luck, and until next time…

~Caleb

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