The Babies Take Flight — Triple Baby Buzzwole Dominance
There is a reason three identical lists made the Top Eight at Madison, Wisconsin Regionals. Find out what made the deck in question so strong!
06/11/2018 by Caleb Gedemer
Wisconsin Regionals was a weird one for me. Going in I was playing Greninja BREAK or Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) . The latter of the two looked decently positioned against the rise of the many Malamar (FLI; 51) decks that were on the horizon, but Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) was still a big threat, even though it was assumed to die down in popularity for this event. Greninja BREAK was the dark horse of my choices, just a glass cannon deck that could beat all three of the biggest decks, Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , Malamar (FLI; 51) , and Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , if all went well. I don’t like handicapping myself with a deck that won’t award wins based on skillful play, so Greninja BREAK seemed like a foolish choice. I decided against it rather early on Friday and started to let the idea of playing a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) deck sink in…
It felt bad, so bad in fact that I scrambled for something else. I played a few Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) mirrors with a friend and it was just a mess. I was ready to just lock it in as my deck choice when I honed in on a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) list that Chris Leandro was playing with Jimmy Pendarvis nearby. The list used three baby Buzzwole, just like James Arnold did at Virginia Regionals in the Expanded format. This was intriguing for a variety of reasons, namly for the fact that it improved the matchup against Malamar (FLI; 51) decks. This past weekend exposed Malamar (FLI; 51) as a weak deck in my eyes, but I, among almost everyone else out there, thought it was a very strong contender going into this tournament. Buzzwole is very hard for the deck to effectively deal with since it can chip away at a Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63) and set up Knockouts, all the while just giving up a single Prize.
Not only were the three baby Buzzwole strong against Malamar, but they were incredible in the mirror match. While the old mirror match approach was to Jet Punch your opponent into oblivion while building big threats up on your Bench, this version of the deck opts to go in with a completely non-EX/GX front and avoid putting two Prize Pokemon down altogether. By doing this, you force your opponent to go through numerous one Prize Pokemon, making it incredibly hard for the “old Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) ” decks to win the game since they don’t have many non-EX/GX attackers. Mirror matches became very easy in that way, and the Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) matchup was even further improved as well since you had so many ways to deal with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) without giving up a Pokemon-EX/GX. All this in mind, knowing Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) was the best deck in format’s past, this build looked like it could take its new weaknesses to at least an even playing field, and I ran with it.
Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX
- 3x Buzzwole
- 2x Buzzwole GX
- 1x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Rockruff
- 1x Lycanroc GX
- 1x Remoraid
- 1x Octillery
- 1x Regirock EX
- 1x Diancie Prism Star
- 3x Brooklet Hill
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x Guzma
- 2x N
- 2x Cynthia
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Max Elixir
- 3x Float Stone
- 3x Choice Band
- 3x Beast Ring
- 1x Super Rod
- 10x Fighting Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
- 1x Beast Energy Prism Star
In order, from the first round to my Top Eight match, here’s how my rounds went…
R4: 2/0 Win; Greninja BREAK / Mr. Mime / Starmie / Tapu Lele-GX
R14: 2/1 Win; Greninja BREAK /
Mew EX (DR; 46)
/ Starmie / Tapu Fini-GX / Tapu Lele-GX
R15: 2/0 Win; Greninja BREAK / Starmie / Tapu Fini-GX / Tapu Lele-GX
I beat everything except for the mirror, with one exception: the seventh round. In that round, the first of three consecutive Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) that I faced on the first day, my opponent ran insanely well and when I still had a chance to win late in the third game I missed what I needed to seal things off. It was an unfortunate turn of events, one that left me scrambling for a last shred of hope needed to make day two, but things worked out in the end. Any losses aside from that came from drawing miserably bad, or mirror match shenanigans. As you can see, I was unable to beat any of the three mirrors that I played. I played my eleventh round extremely poorly in the matchup, equating to a loss, but aside from that I did my very best. The mirror match is a frustrating one, one consistently of many luck-based elements that can throw you off guard. Getting the first Swing Around off with Buzzwole is critical, and will surely require the use, and success, of Max Elixir to accelerate extra Energy.
Overall, I was very satisfied with my result for not playing even a single game with the deck before the tournament. Everyone that ultimately played it did very well, and three of us finished in the Top Eight. This event really showed off the dominance of Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) decks, as Beast Ring made the deck insanely powerful.
Again, in general, this deck is going to be the frontrunner of the Standard format. Every deck will need to be built to beat it, and if you can’t, well, you should probably be playing something else. It’s been a long time since a deck had so much naturally fitting support like this one, and when something doesn’t have any bad matchups it only makes sense to play it until it doesn’t work anymore. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be playing Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) for a while! Now, it’s time to look at intricacies behind this deck, shall we?
Basically the best card in the deck, this little guy packs a huge punch with or without the damage boost from Sledgehammer if your opponent has four Prizes remaining. The whole idea of this deck is to deal damage with a non-EX/GX attacker that also has a solid second attack, Swing Around. Sledgehammer becomes broken when your opponent is sitting at four Prizes, and up until that point you can deal lots of damage with help from Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) , Regirock EX (FCO; 43) , Choice Band, Beast Energy Prism Star, and Strong Energy. All these damage modifiers can get you swinging for 90, your usual goal, so that you can two-shot most opposing threats. 90 is easy to hit with just a couple of these modifiers! Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) can snipe when you want it to still, but it’s much less risky to lead with a one Prize attacker that won’t punish you as heavily once it’s knocked out.
Still an incredible card, Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) still wants to be included in this deck. Jet Punch is instrumental in finishing Knockouts, and Absorption GX and Knuckle Impact are fine ways to take “guaranteed” one-hit Knockouts against large HP Pokemon.
One Tapu Lele-GX
This deck runs on Octillery (BKT; 33) and your Bench space is very important. Having more than one Tapu Lele-GX in the deck would be unnecessary since you should prioritize getting Octillery (BKT; 33) going and in addition the Bench space requirement is extremely costly when you want to have Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) and Regirock EX (FCO; 43) down in most cases for double the damage buffering power.
Here’s where this list gets sketchy, we took out a line of Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) to make room for this deck’s new ideology. A single Rockruff was quite annoying, as it would get knocked out frequently and sometimes you would land it in your Prizes. Moving forward I would love to have two of them, and that’s something I’ll touch on in the “Changes” section of this piece. Aside from that, the 70 HP Rockruff is going to be more useful to you than the off chance that you Corner something to win, so play this one, it’s especially useful in mirror matches to avoid Jet Punch Knockouts on your Bench.
Two would be nice, but one does the job. While a single Rockruff was annoying, I think a single Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) is the perfect count for this deck. Buzzwole is your main attacker and Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) is the backup after that. Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) is usually used in the late game to finish things off with a Dangerous Rogue GX or simply for its Ability. In a deck where you have limited Bench space, it’s going to be difficult to find room for two Rockruff, let alone getting two uses out of Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) .
Losing Remoraid to Guzma Knockouts was the bane of my existence this past weekend. A second Remoraid is at the top of my want list right now. Once players found out that we were running just a single Remoraid, they seemed to target it a lot more often which was extremely problematic. In conclusion, it’s worth noting that the Wild River Remoraid is the very best one. It can get you out of a Corner from Rockruff or a random thing like Spiritomb with Cursed Whirlpool. Ion Pool will almost never be useful because your Remoraid is important, you’re not going to want to leave it Active for it to just get knocked out. The other Remoraid out there might be cute, but without the ability to attack they are strictly inferior.
This one-count I’m fine with, and I would just move to get a second Remoraid in this deck to improve your chances of actually get Octillery out into play and using Abyssal Hand. The hand recovery in the late game is incredible and helps this deck become immune to N, which can otherwise be devastating. With another Remoraid to spare, your Octillery can be recovered with Super Rod, of course you’ll need that second Remoraid, but that’s something we’ll be looking to add to the deck!
Numbers are everything for this list, and a Regirock EX (FCO; 43) in play with Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) serves as a pseudo Choice Band when you combine the Abilities of the two. Regirock EX (FCO; 43) is instrumental in hitting the numbers you need and there are quite a few popular Pokemon that are knocked out in assistance to an extra 10 damage.
20 extra damage is incredible, it’s as if Regirock EX (FCO; 43) wasn’t enough! Many old Fighting lists would play multiple Regirock EX (FCO; 43) to hit numbers, but now you only have to take up one Bench space to accomplish the same thing with Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) !
Three Brooklet Hill
This has just always been the perfect number of Brooklet Hill for this deck in my experience. It’s just a solid number to give yourself good chances of finding it early and just enough to defend yourself against opposing Stadiums that are annoying like Parallel City. Brooklet Hill is part the draw engine of this deck in that it can find Remoraid, giving you more outs to Octillery. This card just makes this deck tick!
Four Professor Sycamore
Not only does Professor Sycamore draw cards, it gets rid of cards you don’t want anymore (hopefully)! This deck aims to be as aggressive as possible, and Professor Sycamore gives you the best opportunity to aggressively thin your deck and get to the cards you want. A full four copies makes the most sense to ensure that things go quickly each game.
Aggression everyone, let’s get it! This deck wants to hammer home Prizes quickly and four Guzma gives you a better chance of hitting them early and often. Sometimes you have to discard one without use so having some extra on hand will get those quick Knockouts rolling off the bat.
N is great in every deck and this one is no exception. Two is mainly for assurance that you get to use one when you want to because let’s remember that N can win games when you fall behind. You can recover from your own N if you will by using Abyssal Hand to draw your hand back up to size so even giving yourself a lower hand size isn’t an issue.
Having less Octillery means you want to have more draw Supporters and Cynthia is the next best thing out there to Professor Sycamore. In any case, having eight draw Supporters is about as low as non- Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) decks go on average, and this list is no exception. I like having that many to ensure smooth draws throughout a game.
Four Ultra Ball
Ultra Ball are incredibly important to this deck for a variety of reasons, but most important is the fact that they thin your deck and your hand down so that you can draw more cards with Octillery and Abyssal Hand. Pokemon search is always strong, so there’s no downside to playing a full set of four of these.
Four Max Elixir
I think one of these could easily be cut for something else, but in the list we played we had a full set of four copies. Getting “extra” Energy attachments down is incredible, so having as many chances to connect on Max Elixir as possible is a plus. I would play three Max Elixir at a minimum in this deck to give yourself the best chance of going the distance and getting a big, quick attack off!
Three Float Stone
A fourth would be nice for attacking consistency but that only matters on your first couple turns. Past that, three Float Stone does the job, and I wouldn’t want more than that. This deck can find a lot of Tools at once sometimes and you might not even have a place to put them all! Three Float Stone is a nice middle ground as far as space goes and I think it’s the optimal number to play.
Three Choice Band
To the same tune as three Float Stone, three Choice Band is really all you need. While a fourth would help you find it sooner than later, and that would be nice to have around sometimes, on average you’re only going to need three and your space is at a pretty premium and you won’t want to sacrifice any of it to something you won’t always want.
Three Beast Ring
Beast Ring takes this deck to the next level by giving you an even more efficient way to accelerate Energy. Most decks lack a way to play around it by taking more than four Prizes at once, so you will almost always have an opportunity to use it in a game unless you don’t draw into it. That’s where the count of three comes in, as it provides you numerous ways to access it on the turns that matter most. Four would be overkill, and two has always felt like too few. I like this count a lot and it served me well over my Regionals run!
One Super Rod
With thin lines of important Pokemon, having a Super Rod to refresh everything back in is critical. On top of that, you can recover Fighting Energy to get even more mileage out of Beast Ring, or even Max Elixir, once you start to run a little dry on Energy.
Ten Fighting Energy
I think you only want nine Fighting Energy in this deck, but we played an extra for a slight change in conversion percentages. With all Fighting Energy in your deck at the time of a Max Elixir use, you have about an additional five-percent chance for each extra Energy you put in the deck. In this instance, you went from sixty-five percent to seventy percent with the tenth, so we decided to keep it in. Going forward I would suggest taking your chances and running something else.
Four Strong Energy
The whole point of this deck changed a little with the release of so much Fighting damage modification. Having as many Energy like this as possible improves your chances of starting with it, and getting that quick attack off for 90 or so. Strong Energy is extremely instrumental in knocking out 70 HP Pokemon along with Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) , as there are many popular Pokemon out there with that typing. Froakie and Rockruff just to name a couple…
One Beast Energy Prism Star
Again to the same tune as the maximum number of Strong Energy, having a Beast Energy just gives you another out to a damage-boosting Energy, which you’re going to want to play every time. While you do only have one and the times that you hit it vary, it can set up nice numbers just on its own, taking your Jet Punch or Sledgehammer damage to 60 total. If there were even more damage-modifying Energy I think this deck would play them, so as it stands you’re going to want all of these for sure.
There are two changes that I highly recommend for this list going forward…
Take out a Max Elixir and a Fighting Energy for another Remoraid and another Rockruff.
With these in the deck, then you don’t have to worry as much about your opponent targeting them down before you can Evolve them. Extra counts of support Pokemon are always nice, but I think that having a second copy of the Basics is super important and something you need to try to work into the list. Above all else, these are the most important inclusions I feel, and since the Remoraid is more important than the Rockruff, maybe adding something instead of the second Rockruff could be better. In any case, these are the changes I’ll be rolling with for now and they have felt very good in testing.
Buzzwole Mirrors | Generally Even
This mirror matchup can be extremely frustrating, but there are steps you can take to mitigate your chances of losing. The first step is to attempt to be the first to use Swing Around. Swing Around with Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) , Regirock EX (FCO; 43) , and Strong Energy in play gets you a one-hit Knockout on an opposing Buzzwole, so getting that off equal multiple Knockouts with ease. If you’re missing one of those modifiers remember that you still can flip for the extra damage on Swing Around, which could very easily get you the Knockout as well. If you can’t establish that three-Energy attack quickly, then the best measure is to slowly poke away at your opponent with Sledgehammer. Try to set up two-hit Knockouts, or even 100 damage placements that you can later finish off with Jet Punch.
There are a few unrealistic strategies too, so avoid them… Jet Punch can technically play around Beast Ring by taking out two Pokemon-EX/GX at once, but this will almost never happen. You want to avoid using Pokemon-EX/GX in this matchup, as mentioned earlier, Buzzwole is the key to victory! Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) is usually pretty hard for an opponent to knock out, so setting it up can get you multiple Knockouts with the same Pokemon, a pretty awesome bonus.
The “luck” elements that come into play in this matchup can be frustrating. If you opponent gets a quick Guzma Knockout on your Remoraid or Rockruff, you might be annoyed, especially if it keeps happening. Someone whiffing, or conversely, hitting, all of his or her Max Elixir is a nuisance, and even finding Beast Ring “at the right time” is of note. All these things considered, this matchup still has a skillful element in the detailed Prize trade that unravels. Don’t get to irked by any of the randomness that many go on and focus on making the best play for each situation. Games of Pokemon can often be decided by luck, but many take in skillful measures; it isn’t over until it’s over, hang in there!
Greninja BREAK | Generally Even
I didn’t drop a game to this matchup in three separate rounds in Wisconsin, but I think I got lucky to do that. Greninja BREAK is a clunky deck, and while you can optimize it for consistency and include all the techs you want, it will still falter… Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) gets an advantage in this matchup by quickly taking Prizes. Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) with a Strong Energy can take a Froakie or Frogadier down in one hit with Jet Punch or Sledgehammer. Buzzwole and Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) are both great attackers in this matchup, although Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) takes one-hit Knockouts much easier with its bigger attacks of Absorption GX and Knuckle Impact.
When using Jet Punch, it might seem weird to decide where the damage goes, especially in the early game. I like to put it on the lowest HP Pokemon, which is usually Froakie or Staryu, sometimes even Frogadier or Starmie. The ideology here is that your opponent is less likely to get the Pokemon in question Evolved all the way up, and if he or she cannot as expected, then you’ll be able to score a Knockout on that said Pokemon eventually with Bench damage snipes.
The emphasis in this matchup lies in your quickness to pressure your opponent. You want to stave off Greninja BREAK for as long as you can, because if you can avoid it coming down then the game will be yours. Shadow Stitching is a great attack, don’t get me wrong, but against this deck it doesn’t do much except for stop Octillery. If Greninja BREAK isn’t supplementing the damage output then you’re in a great spot to win because the Shadow Stitching damage is far too little to win games on its own, even with a Choice Band. If you want to play around Choice Band, you can attack with Buzzwole to start, using Swing Around to hopefully take one-hit Knockouts if you get some heads flips. Other things to watch out for in this matchup are things like not putting high Retreat Pokemon on your Bench if you can avoid it (Counter Catcher), and being wary of Enhanced Hammer (Beast Energy Prism Star and Strong Energy). Try to keep a set of Supporters for the late game, so don’t be too aggressive and discard them with Professor Sycamore. Mew EX (DR; 46) and Tapu Fini-GX are also other random threats, threats you want to play around if possible. Using Buzzwole aggressively instead of Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) eliminates some of the threat of your opponent taking four Prizes in a turn with Giant Water Shuriken and then an attack from Mew EX (DR; 46) , which in turn plays around Beast Ring. Almost always, if you get to Beast Ring in this matchup the game will be over because you will simply have too many attackers powered up and ready to go.
Malamar (FLI; 51) Variants | Generally Even
Formerly pretty unfavorable, the inclusion of a heavy count of Buzzwole has made this matchup much better. The way I like to play it is by leading with a Buzzwole, using Sledgehammer to poke at a Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63) , and then eventually finishing it off. You can also use Sledgehammer to take down Inkay, just be sure to knock out at least two so that you can even your Prizes out and focus on taking down two Pokemon-EX/GX to finish off the game. If you use back-to-back-to-back Buzzwole, your opponent will be sitting with three Prizes remaining. From there, you can end the game by trading Prizes with Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) and Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) . The key is just getting two Prizes, minimum, with your Buzzwole before they’re all knocked out. Up to the point where your opponent has three Prizes left, try to avoid putting any Pokemon-EX/GX down because they are huge liabilities!
Once Sledgehammer has its damage boost “activated” you can almost always finish off a Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63) that you were poking at. Be sure to calculate out the math so that you can get clean two, or three-hit Knockouts on those pesky Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63) ! Once two Prizes are taken by your opponent, you can also use Beast Ring to power up a Swing Around and make a Knockout even easier by doing more damage than what you’re accustomed to. Of course, once your opponent takes two Prizes you can just use Sledgehammer, but later in the game you can Swing Around if the time is right!
Take this matchup carefully, and like I said, focus on using non-EX/GX Pokemon. If you limit your field of those two-Prize liabilities, then your opponent will have no choice but to knock out your Buzzwole, over and over. This strategy worked for me in my game against Malamar at Regionals, and you have to realize too that with so many Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) decks in the Top Eight, we all must have played Malamar decks at some point! This matchup is about as close to even as it gets, and I will say that the Ultra Necrozma-GX variant is easier to beat since it’s a game focused around trading Prizes. You can just use Beast Ring to build up one-hit Knockouts from a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) and meet your opponent toe to toe after each big attack for two Prizes. The simple fact of the matter is that you’re a more efficient and quick deck, a deck that can rush a Malamar deck down if the deck ever falters.
Zoroark-GX Variants | Favorable
This is your best matchup, by quite a bit. Fighting Weakness is too much for Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) to overcome against this deck in general, but the inclusion of three baby Buzzwole makes it that much harder. It’s hard enough for your opponent to deal with one, there aren’t that many one-hit Knockout answers, let alone when the second comes down it’s usually a fine time for your opponent to pick his or her cards up. I like to target down Zorua early to eliminate your opponent’s option of drawing extra cards with Trade because there isn’t a pairing with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) that scares Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) anymore. Sure, your opponent might double up on Psychic Pokemon (Latios, Mew EX (DR; 46) , Mewtwo, etcetera) but those Pokemon can just be knocked out or gusted around to take multiple Prizes on more valuable Pokemon like Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) . I’ll admit that I got lazy a few times in these matchups over the weekend and it even cost me a game once, but if you don’t get overzealous and focus on the task at hand these matchups are pretty hard to lose.
This is the undisputed top deck of the Standard format going forward. There will need to be a rise of a new counter deck to address it, but I’m not convinced there is one that can consistently handle this build every time. Three Buzzwole-GX is insane, and not necessarily because they’re “strong attackers”, it’s more that opposing decks have such a hard time dealing with them, often giving you multiple turns of attacks from just one 130 HP Basic Ultra Beast. I had a blast playing this deck, it was fun to bring Fighting to a tournament again. Thanks for reading everyone, I hope this clears any questions you may have about this “new” deck up for you. Take care, good luck at any events you’re playing in the future!
Mew EX (DR; 46)
Octillery (BKT; 33)
Scizor EX (BKP; 76)
Regirock EX (FCO; 43)
Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)
Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)
Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)
Dusk Mane Necrozma GX (UPR; 90)
Lucario GX (BW; 100)
Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74)
Malamar (FLI; 51)
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