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Caleb Gedemer

"To the Garb(age) with It!" — the Card That's Changing the Game and More in the Standard Format

Caleb Gedemer goes over his ten favorite cards from the new English set, Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising.

05/09/2017 by Caleb Gedemer

Caleb Gedemer goes over his ten favorite cards from the new English set, Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising. That's not all though, because he wraps up his newest piece with some decks that are built from cards in the new set. Also, have you heard about a certain new card that looks to be changing everything? Come check this article out for all this, and more. You'll be glad you did!


Hey, Trainers. I’m happy to be back to 60cards as always, and today you’ll be reading about something I’m always happy to talk about: new expansions in the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising has only been out for a couple of weeks now, but it’s already making waves in competitive play. I’ve been hard at work getting the new cards, and testing them out in old decks, as well as trying out new concepts that are proving to have the grit of an archetype worthy of tournament play. To start off today’s piece, I’ll be going over my top ten favorite cards in the set, and explaining what makes them so good. Then, I’ll cover some of the new decks that should be on the rise, some of them containing the new cards we got from Guardians Rising in the Standard format. Enjoy, y’all!

Top Ten Cards of the New Set

Honorable Mention:

#21 Alolan Vulpix – Water – HP60

Basic Pokemon

[.] Beacon: Search your deck for up to 2 Pokemon, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

[C][C] Icy Snow: 20 damage.

Weakness: Metal (x2)

Resistance: none

Retreat: 1

It’s first attack, Beacon, is the only reason I even considered it on the coming list. For free, no Energy needed, you can search your deck for two Pokemon, and throw them in your hand. Absolutely no nonsense, just pick, and go. On its own without the existence of this mysterious Garbodor, it’s still decent.Let me start with something that might surprise you, Alolan Vulpix. This card flew under my own radar, until recently, too. This card’s viability directly relates to what I think is one of the absolute best cards in the set, Garbodor. While I won’t get into much detail on the new pile of garbage just yet, I would say that if the new Garb wasn’t coming out, then I wouldn’t be talking about this Vulpix.

I don’t want to spill the beans just yet, so let me just end this card’s section by saying that the fact that you can search Pokemon out of your deck without Item cards is going to be nice, and that this Vulpix might see a lot more play than you would originally guess, just because players are trying not to play as many Items.

Number 10:

#66 Sudowoodo – Fighting – HP100

Basic Pokemon

Ability: Roadblock

Your opponent can’t have more than 4 Benched Pokemon. If they have 5 or more Benched Pokemon, they discard Benched Pokemon until they have 4 Pokemon on the Bench. If more than one effect changes the number of Bench Pokemon allowed, use the smaller number.

[F][C] Rock Throw: 40 damage.

Weakness: Water (x2)

Resistance: none

Retreat: 2

Here we have Sudowoodo! Not only is the name fun to say, but the card is fun to use. Roadblock is the only thing this tree has going for it, but it’s a lot packed into one Ability. Now you are free to use other Stadium cards than Parallel City, and still get something close to the effect of Parallel, but this time in the form of a Pokemon.

This card is always going to be in play, and the best part is that if you play a Hex Maniac to turn it off, then at the end of your opponent’s turn, he or she will have to just discard back down to four Pokemon and not much will be accomplished. Aside from that, Silent Lab, another way of stopping Roadblock, doesn’t work all too well since most decks that are hurt by Sudo play Sky Field, and Lab doesn’t make any sense in those decks.

I like this card in just about everything, already. Volcanion gains the most from it, I think, but it seems like a good inclusion in anything. Most decks don’t mind another Bench sitter, except for maybe Vileplume ones. Be on the lookout for Sudo, and be sure to not play down too many valuable Pokemon on your Bench!

Number 9:

#6 Phantump – Grass – HP60

Basic Pokemon

[G] Tackle: 10 damage.

[C][C] Confuse Ray: Your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Confused.

Weakness: Fire (x2)

Resistance: none

Retreat: 2

While this card on its own isn’t anything special, it makes the new Trevenant from Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising playable. That cards reads as follows:

#7 Trevenant – Grass – HP120

Stage 1 – Evolves from Phantump

[C][C] Poltergeist: 30x damage. Your opponent reveals their hand. This attack does 30 damage for each Trainer card you find there.

[G][G][C] Horn Leech: 90 damage. Heal 30 damage from this Pokemon.

Weakness: Fire (x2)

Resistance: none

Retreat: 2

This has some obvious synergy with Vileplume, since your opponent can’t play Item cards when ‘plume is down. As good as that Trevenant is, I think that the biggest reason this new Phantump is great is because it can be used with the Trevenant from X & Y in the Expanded format. I’m sure you’re still curious about this, so I’ll tell you: Decidueye-GX / Trevenant sounds insane to me.

You simply leave a Trevenant Active, and spread damage with Silent Fear after BREAK Evolving, and use your Decidueye-GX’s Feather Arrow to punish your opponent’s Pokemon even more. The more I think about this combo, the better it sounds, and none of it would be possible without the release of this new Grass type stump.

Number 8:

#115 Drampa-GX – Colorless – HP180

Basic Pokemon

[C] Righteous Edge: 20 damage. Discard a Special Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.

[C][C][C] Berserk: 80+ damage. If your Benched Pokemon have any damage counters on them, this attack does 70 more damage.

[C] Great Revolution GX: Shuffle your hand into your deck, then draw 10 cards. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When your Pokemon GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize Cards.

Weakness: Fighting (x2)

Resistance: none

Retreat: 2

Drampa-GX clocks into work with three very playable attacks, and that’s what makes it so good! To start off, Righteous Edge is like an attack on an old Cobalion-EX card from many moons ago. The Cobalion was popular a lot of the time, and it required a Metal Energy to attack with its Edge. Drampa, though, just takes a Colorless, which means it can be put in just about anything! Getting rid of your opponent’s Special Energy is fantastic, and this card has the potential to be a disruptive force, all on its own!

Next, we have Berserk, which is good, too. If you play Team Magma’s Secret Base, you can get damage on your Benched Pokemon, and then do 150 to start off. Choice Band, which is next up on my list, will crank Berserk all the way up to 180 damage, which is a perfect number to knock out many of the popular Pokemon in the game today. Lastly, we have Great Revolution GX, which has received some scrutiny from players, but overall, I think it’s good as a GX attack. You get to shuffle away your hand, and take ten new cards! That’s a number that’s unfathomable in the Pokemon Trading Card Game, spare using Colress in the Expanded format for numbers even bigger than that. Regardless, this is a very splashable typing that works in any deck, and can give decks that didn’t have a GX attack in the past one of their own.

Overall, this card is fantastic. It could see play in any deck, if players decide to use it that frequently. Every attack on the card is great, and I’m excited to see if Drampa-GX will become a deck on its own, or if it will become somewhat of a staple in just about everything. The sky’s the limit for this fabulous new card!

Number 7:

#121 Choice Band – Trainer


Pokemon Tool: Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokemon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

The attacks of the Pokemon this card is attached to do 30 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokemon-GX or Active Pokemon-EX (before applying Weakness and Resistance).

You may play as many Item cards as you like during your turn (before your attack).

This card is amazing, and it’s something that’s been lacking in the Standard format for a while now. Choice Band is super similar to Silver Bangle, a card that’s been rotated out of Standard for a year or two now. What’s even better about this card, though, is that it can actually be attached to Pokemon-EX/GX, not only non-EX/GX Pokemon. An addition of thirty damage to those same Pokemon-EX/GX is fantastic, and helps reach crucial numbers with a variety of Pokemon that have been lacking in that department.

Let’s start by thinking about some of the cards that get significantly better with this release: Darkrai-EX, Raichu, Umbreon-GX, Vespiquen, are just some that come to mind right away. Vespiquen is the Pokemon that I’m most excited pairing Choice Band with. I talked a lot about Vespiquen in my last article for the site, so go check that out. Band will make Vesp have a much easier time dealing with bigger Pokemon, which is sweet.

Whenever a card like this gets released, it’s sure to make waves. Think about the many damage modifiers throughout the years, Fighting Fury Belt, Muscle Band, PlusPower, and Silver Bangle all saw lots and lots of play in their own days. Choice Band is the next one on the list, and I’m sure it’s successes will be no different!

Number 6:

#18 Turtonator-GX – Fire – HP190

Basic Pokemon

[C][C] Trap Shell: 20 damage. If this Pokemon is damaged by an attack during your opponent’s next turn, place 8 damage counters on the Attacking Pokemon.

[R][R][C] Crimson Flame: 160 damage. Discard 2 [R] Energy attached to this Pokemon.

[R] Nitro Tank GX: Attach 5 [R] Energy from your discard pile to your Pokemon in any way you like. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack per game.)

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

Weakness: Water (x2)

Resistance: none            

Retreat: 3

This thing is insane, just from looking at its HP. Its attacks are all solid, with the “worst” one being Trap Shell, and even that is good. Turtonator-GX is sure to find its way into Volcanion decks, and that’s probably it, so I’m going to talk about the card in terms of its place in Volc decks. Trap Shell probably won’t be too useful, since there almost always is a better attack to use. Crimson Flame, however, is insane with the power of Volcanion-EX’s Steam Up Ability. With just two Steam Up uses, you can take a one-hit Knockout on a M Rayquaza-EX, doing 220 damage. Without even being able to use Abilities, you can still do 170 with a Fighting Fury Belt to something like an Yveltal-EX, which is enough for a Knockout, provided the Yveltal doesn’t have a Belt itself.

Finally, let me talk about Nitro Tank GX, the best thing this card has going for it. You can attach five, yes, five Fire Energy from your discard pile to your Pokemon in any way! This means you can Steam Up five times, and maybe discard a Fire with a Professor Sycamore, and then just throw them all down in one turn! This effect is ridiculous, and along with Max Elixir, Volcanion may have just become the best deck out there.

Overall, this is a must have in every Volcanion deck going forward, you must be playing it to stay competitive against the rest of the field. Nitro Tank GX will make Volcanion decks even faster, and allow you to use Crimson Flame easily, and quickly. This card has a ton going for it.

Number 5:

#119 Aqua Patch – Trainer


Attach a basic [W] Energy card from your discard pile to 1 of your Benched [W] Pokemon.

You may play as many Item cards as you like during your turn (before your attack).

I almost couldn’t believe this card was real when I first saw it! Nearly five years after the release of Dark Patch, the card creators decided to make the same card, but for Water Pokemon! In any case, this card’s viability is obvious, and it makes Lapras-GX a lot better. I’m not talking about the disruptive Lapras deck that’s been going around, though, I’m talking about a turbo deck, aiming to use Blizzard Burn on the first, or second turn of the game.

Aqua Patch doesn’t need much explaining, because it’s simple, but I’d like to paint a better picture of what it’s capable of creating. A turbo Lapras-GX player can play four copies of both Aqua Patch, and Max Elixir, such that he or she will have improved odds of using Blizzard Burn on the first turn. Along with Manaphy-EX, the Lapras-GXs can then be Retreated back and forth, and you will be staring down two, or more, fully powered up loch ness monsters, swinging for over 150 damage every single turn with no drawback.

This card also makes a deck with multiple Keldeo-EX good in the Expanded format, too. You’ll be able to continually Rush In and heal off damage from attacks with Rough Seas, and continually do at least 110 of solid damage a turn. Seismitoad-EX can also be powered up with this Patch. The possibilities are endless, and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what becomes of this card!

Number 4:

#80 Sableye – Darkness – HP60

Basic Pokemon

[D] Limitation: Your opponent can’t play any Supporter cards from their hand during their next turn.

[C] Scratch: 20 damage.

Weakness: none

Resistance: none

Retreat: 1

As an Exeggutor from Plasma Freeze player back in the day, I’m stoked about this card, too. While it doesn’t do damage, I plan to use it with Decidueye-GX to make up for that. Personally, although I’ve heard differing opinions, I think this card is phenomenal in Decidueye-GX / Vileplume decks, and should make them close to unbeatable.

The only thing about this card that’s worth knowing is that for a Darkness Energy, you can stop your opponent from playing Supporter cards. Pretty sweet, huh? This card obviously won’t work on its own, because your opponent will just attach Energy and go from there, but like I already mentioned, I think it’s great in Decidueye with ‘plume, and just with Decidueye-GX alone.

Decidueye-GX / Sableye might become an archetype, to be honest. You would play Energy denial cards, stop your opponent’s Supporter cards, and have a damage output from Feather Arrow drops. With the pressure you put on from Feather Arrow, you would be able to address any threats that your opponent builds up with Energy that you can’t discard. This card is scary for any opponent, and I’m itching to use to more.

Number 3: 

#51 Garbodor – Psychic – HP120

Stage 1 – Evolves from Trubbish

[P] Trashalanche This attack does 20 damage for each Item card in your opponent’s discard pile.

[P][C][C] Acid Bomb: 70 damage. Flip a coin. If heads, discard an Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokemon.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)

Resistance: none

Retreat: 3

It was super tough to pick what I think are the top three cards in the set, and this card definitely received some votes. While Acid Bomb is complete rubbish, Trashalanche is not only a funny attack name, but down the lines of what I consider to be broken in the Pokemon Trading Card Game. It just does 20 damage for each Item your opponent has in his or her discard pile, but that’s a huge deal when you look at how many Item cards most decks play.

While some decks tend to be on the lower end of Item cards, like Decidueye-GX / Vileplume at around fourteen, let’s look at some of the averages of other popular decks (these are based on how many Items I have in my current list):

  • Darkrai-EX: 24
  • Lapras-GX: 23
  • M Gardevoir-EX (79): 23
  • M Mewtwo-EX (64): 22
  • M Rayquaza-EX (76): 21
  • Vespiquen: 18
  • Volcanion: 23
  • Yveltal: 24

So, if you use these numbers and average them, your opponent is going to usually have around twenty-two Item cards in a deck. That’s super easy pickings for Garbodor, and it’s going to be extremely interesting to see how we should start building decks going forward to counter it. My first thought is to lower the count of VS Seeker, and play more Supporter cards instead. This card is very good for the game, and adds a completely new dimension to it that we’ve never seen before. I have nothing but love for this Garbodor card.

Number 2:

#60 Tapu Lele-GX – Psychic – HP170

Basic Pokemon

Ability: Wonder Tag

When you play this Pokemon from your hand onto your Bench during your turn, you may search your deck for a Supporter card, reveal it, and put it in your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

[C][C] Energy Drive: This attack does 20 damage times the amount of Energy attached to both Active Pokemon. This damage isn’t affected by Weakness or Resistance.

[P] Tapu Cure GX: Heal all damage from 2 of your Benched Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

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

Weakness: none

Resistance: none

Retreat: 1

Tapu Lele-GX saw hype from the moment it was leaked, and it hasn’t simmered down at all ever since. Jirachi-EX from Plasma Blast had the exact same Ability as this card, and Jirachi is still used in the Expanded format. However, unlike Jirachi, Lele has nearly double the HP, and two solid attacks! Some decks won’t be playing Psychic Energy, but those decks will still be able to use Energy Drive, which is the same attack that Lugia-EX has.

In decks that play Psychic Energy, they can use their GX attack for the game to heal to of their Benched Pokemon with Tapu Cure GX, which is cool. The main draw to this card though is the Ability. Almost every deck will begin playing this card, awesomely enough. Some fringe Supporters should be coming back, too, like Brigette, Lillie, and Pokemon Fan Club, for instance. Wonder Tag can grab these Supporters on the first turn of the game, and get down the Pokemon you need, or draw you a huge hand with a Lillie drop.

What I think is the best part about this card overall, though, is the fact that it has decent HP! Gone are the times of “Lysandre for Jirachi-EX, (attack name here), that’s a Knockout!” This card can be used as an attacker, even, and can definitely take a hit or two without being a liability on your Bench. Get used to this card, and the potential price tag that will come with it, because it’s here to stay.

Number 1:

#125 Field Blower – Trainer


Choose up to 2 in any combination of Pokemon Tool cards and Stadium cards in play (yours or your opponent’s) and discard them.

You may play as many Item cards as you like during your turn (before your attack).

Here you go, Field Blower, the best card in Guardians Rising! I think it changes the game more than any card, in the Standard format most of all. Until now, a Garbodor with a Tool card was not possible to get around, unless you knock it out after a Lysandre. Now, players can take the Tools off Garbodor without moving a muscle, and just playing down a Field Blower.

Volcanion gains the most from this card I think, and it should sky rocket to the top of Standard, I would think. Vespiquen also has a lot to gain from this card, since it can take Knockouts more easily now by removing Fighting Fury Belt Tool cards from an opponent. I think that just about every deck will be playing one of these cards to start off, at least, just to get around Belts. Soon, people might stop playing Fury Belt altogether, and then slowly this card might creep away. Discarding Stadiums is amazing, too, since it can get rid of some of the pesky ones like Parallel City, or Silent Lab. This is especially useful for decks that either play Parallel City themselves, or don’t play a Stadium at all.

The other part why this card is so important is because a Garbodor, the one we just talked about above with the cool attack, can use Field Blower to get more Item cards in an opponent's discard pile, and boost its attack damage. Maybe Eco Arm will see some play to offset the damage of Garbodor’s attack? At any rate, this card shakes everything up and will be a must have in nearly every competitive Standard format deck.

New Additions, and New Decks

Carbink BREAK / Minior


This idea is probably the weakest of the ones I’ll be going over today, but has some strong potential nonetheless. I’m sure you all know what Carbink BREAK does, but for anyone that needs a refresher, it’s single attack allows you to attach two Energy cards from your discard pile to one of your Benched Fighting Pokemon for a single Fighting Energy. The strategy here would be to play both Minior, and probably Zygarde-EX in tandem, to not only have a solid attacker all around in Zygarde, but a closer in Minior.

Minior has a sweet attack that does a whopping 190 damage for three Fighting Energy, but knocks itself out after use of the attack. With Carbink’s Diamond Gift attack, you can easily power up Miniors on your Bench, and Max Elixir can assuredly help, too.

Overall, I’ll have to see if this idea is something worth trying out extensively, or just a gimmick idea that’s outweighed by more solid options. I like that Minior is a non-EX/GX Pokemon, so it’ll only be giving up one Prize, versus if one were to use a Power Memory Tool cards on a Zygarde-EX to unlock that powerful All Cells Burn attack for 200 damage. It hasn’t done well for me in testing, so maybe it should be saved for another day. Be sure to try this out at least once, Minior is a cool new card that should see some play at some point in its Standard format legal lifespan.

Deck List


Decidueye-GX / Vileplume | Unfavorable
  • Grass Weakness is too much to overcome
Garbodor | Unfavorable
  • While you don’t need too many Items to work, Garbodor is hard to trade with, since it doesn’t use a whole lot of two Prize Pokemon
Gyarados | Unfavorable
  • ‘dos is too fast for you, and trades much better
Lapras-GX / Toolbox | Slightly Unfavorable
  • Lapras has too many HP, and can overwhelm you quickly since Safeguard does not slow it
Vespiquen | Unfavorable
  • Once again, Grass Weakness hurts, and Vespiquen is even better positioned to beat you than Decidueye decks are
Volcanion | Even
  • Safeguard can be impossible for your opponent to deal with if you can take down his or her baby Volcanions first

Decidueye-GX / Sableye / Vileplume


You all know the drill on this deck already, I’m sure. It’s won a ton of events now, and is practically the frontrunner at every single event. You get Decidueye-GX out, Vileplume out, and attack with things like Lugia-EX to supplement the onslaught of your Feather Arrow Ability drops. Vileplume is extremely oppressive in a format filled with Item cards, so this deck makes a lot of cohesive sense.

Now with the release of Sableye, though, things are going to get a whole lot worse. A Decidueye-GX player will be free to stop the opponent from using Item cards, and Supporter cards, so that player can effectively trap whatever he or she would like in the Active spot, and freely punish the opponent. This is downright scary.

To make things even more efficient for a Vileplume player, one can now play Tapu Lele-GX instead of Lugia-EX, to not only provide a solid attacking option, but to bolster setup, and make sure that you always have a Supporter, primed and ready to go.

Deck List


Decidueye-GX / Vileplume | Even
  • Go first, and hope that you can get a Vileplume out, or hope the opposite for your opponent when he or she goes first
Garbodor | Slightly Favorable
  • You don’t play as many Items as other decks, and can easily knock out a Garbodor, however, if your opponent plays a heavily line of Wobbuffet, it can be difficult
Gyarados | Highly Favorable
  • Magikarp can easily be knocked out from the Bench with Feather Arrow, and there is almost no way Gyarados can win
Lapras-GX / Toolbox | Favorable
  • Now that Lapras decks shouldn’t be playing Energy disruption, you’re free to Razor Leaf to your heart’s content for one-hit Knockouts
Vespiquen | Highly Favorable
  • The fragile low HP Pokemon in this deck are no match for high HP Pokemon and an Ability that spreads the love of damage around for Knockouts
Volcanion | Slightly Unfavorable
  • Turtonator-GX can completely set up an opponent’s field from the first turn onwards, provided you miss the Item lock going first, but it also serves as a huge recovery option if your opponent is wary about playing down just enough Pokemon to win

Garbodor / Vespiquen


While Vespiquen has been doing work for ages, the new Garbodor from Guardians Rising is still a little child when it comes to competitive experience, but that won’t last long. As I covered earlier, Garbodor is an absolute beast. Along with Vespiquen, I see a very viable strategy that works both ends, one being a game plan by forcing your opponent to play Items and then going to town with Garbodor, and the other being aggressive with Vespiquen if your opponent chooses to play differently to make up for the nuisance of Garb.

Aside from the two options I just talked about, you can also use Garbodor early to set up Knockouts for Vespiquen, or visa-versa. I like this deck with Wobbuffet, since if you start it, it causes a lot of problems for your opponent with setup. He or she will likely be forced to burn many Item cards, and Wobb will not only give you something to sit behind to wait, but it will get those Items moving.

Tapu Lele-GX works perfectly when starting with Wobbuffet, even still, so it’s no matter if you start it. I don’t think this deck should be playing Shaymin-EX, since you’re going to be starting with Wobbuffet so often, and you’re looking to be on the slower side of things, more so than usual. This deck will be a powerhouse, so be on the lookout.

Deck List


Decidueye-GX / Vileplume | Slightly Favorable
  • Wobbuffet sets you up to win in dashing fashion, and Garbodor can run your opponent over once you decide it’s time to attack
Garbodor | Even
  • You’re both going to be playing non-EX/GX attackers, so it’ll be a strange fight of who can play the least Items to avoid Knockouts, and consistently stream attackers
Gyarados | Slightly Favorable
  • You’re slightly more consistent, and your Garbodors will punish your opponent for being overly reliant on a swarm of Item cards
Lapras-GX / Toolbox | Highly Favorable
  • Vespiquen says “hello”, and Lapras says “good game”
Vespiquen | Even
  • Another back and forth battle, where it just depends who takes the first Prize, and continues the assault until the end without skipping a beat
Volcanion | Slightly Favorable
  • Opening with a Wobbuffet greatly improves your chances of winning, and Garbodor serves as a good attacking option since your opponent will likely be forced to play a lot of Items to get going after you opened with Wobbuffet, Field Blower can take off Fighting Fury Belts if those are played, and one-hit Knockouts will be easier to come by

Volcanion / Turtonator-GX


Woah boy, time to talk about Volcanion on steroids! Like I mentioned when I talked about Turtonator-GX, that card is just absurd! Nitro Tank GX takes Volcanion to new heights, and not to mention the release of Field Blower does so much for this deck, too. Turtonator makes your setup even faster, while Field Blower can effectively deal with Garbodor from BREAKpoint, and it also can counter Silent Lab, one of Volcanion’s biggest enemies.

In addition to all of this, I’m very excited about Volcanion’s matchup against M Rayquaza-EX, since Volc can now play the new Sudowoodo card to limit the Ray player’s Bench to only four Pokemon. To explore this a little further, what I’ve found is that when Rayquaza uses a Hex Maniac, while it does shut off Sudo, and stop Volcanion’s Abilities for a turn, Ray is unable to fill up the Bench to the point of a one-hit Knockout, and both players end up trading two-hit Knockouts, while Volcanion can sneak in a one-shot during turns that M Rayquaza-EX isn’t able to play a Hex. Overall, Volcanion becomes favored in this matchup.

Going forward, Volcanion is one of the best decks out there in my opinion. It’s gotten all the cards it needs to take its game to the next level, and even clear some of the roadblocks that had stood in its path before. The new Garbodor, and decks that come with it, are the only problems for this deck, since it does have an acute reliance on Items, which can be a problem sometimes.

Deck List


Decidueye-GX / Vileplume | Slightly Favorable
  • As covered a bit earlier, Turtonator-GX brings a lot to this matchup if you can use Nitro Tank GX early, since you can power up all your attackers and no run the risk of anything getting trapped in the Active spot with no Energy on it
Garbodor | Slightly Unfavorable
  • You play a lot of Items, and you kind of need them, so it’ll be hard to deal with a non-EX/GX deck like Garbodor
Gyarados | Highly Unfavorable
  • Gyarados’ Water type completely rolls you over
Lapras-GX / Toolbox | Slightly Unfavorable
  • The disruptive Lapras deck was always a good matchup for Volcanion, but this match goes a little differently since the new Lapras-GX decks play both Aqua Patch, and Max Elixir, this way Lapras can keep up with the barrage of Volcanion-EX, and usually your opponent will out speed you, as weird as that sounds
Vespiquen | Slightly Unfavorable
  • This can matter a lot on the Vespiquen list, but historically non-EX/GX decks have given Volcanion problems, and this is no different, Choice Band and Field Blower both bolster the queen bee’s numbers to more strongly attack Volcanions for Knockouts
Volcanion | Even
  • This matchup is a lot more diverse now, since Turtonator-GX exists, so you can either rush your opponent with Max Elixirs, or you can be safer and Nitro Tank GX first, before getting into a trade

Water Toolbox / Aqua Patch


This new deck is fun, and good. The release of Aqua Patch puts Lapras-GX over the top as an attacker, and makes it very competitively viable. As a Lapras player, you’ll be able to stream multiple Lapras-GXs at once, and Retreat for free with help from Manaphy-EX, and repeatedly use Blizzard Burn for tons of damage.

Now that Field Blower exists, Lapras-GX can reliably knock out just about every Pokemon in the game in one hit. Choice Band helps a lot, too, and Professor Kukui is another option as well. While I’m still not entirely sure if I prefer Choice Band or Fighting Fury Belt in this deck, I should be able to pin it down soon, and maybe a split is optimal, since they both have great utility.

This deck has built in recovery too, coming from Rough Seas. One can simply Retreat between Lapras-GXs and heal each turn. The only glaring problem this deck has comes from a very popular Grass Pokemon, Vespiquen. Additionally, since you’re doing away with the Energy disruption that older Lapras decks played, Decidueye-GX / Vileplume becomes a bit of a problem, since a Razor Leaf attack from Decidueye can effectively take you down in one hit when coupled with a Feather Arrow. Either way, this deck has lots of potential, and has been doing well for me.

Deck List


Decidueye-GX / Vileplume | Unfavorable
  • Grass Pokemon aren’t good for a Water Pokemon’s health, hope to avoid this pairing
Garbodor | Unfavorable
  • Garbodor can do a whole lot of damage when you rely on Aqua Patch, and Max Elixir to even set up attackers that can do things
Gyarados | Unfavorable
  • Gyarados will have a field day with your Lapras GXs when it uses Choice Band to take Knockouts
Lapras-GX / Toolbox | Even
  • This matchup will be frustrating if you both play Fighting Fury Belt, it’ll be a lot of near-misses as far as Knockouts go, and you’ll want to try and avoid other Lapras when attacking, so you don’t waste your energy on things you can’t knock out in one hit
Vespiquen | Highly Unfavorable
  • Lapras-GX can’t get a break from the Grass types these days, it seems
Volcanion | Slightly Favorable
  • In the Volcanion section I mentioned that you have to Energy accelerants, while Volcanion has less, and that’s why you’ll usually win this matchup, since you can be faster, and more resilient in a trade of Knockouts

Dying Decks

With time, many of the off-viable decks in the Pokemon Trading Card Game widdle away into mediocrity. The advent of the new set is sending the following decks swirling into the lost zone, if I’m not mistaken.


  • Field Blower destroys a strong board with Exp. Shares, and Silent Lab is even more easily dealt with in one of your more tough matchups of Volcanion

M Gardevoir-EX (79)

  • The release of Sudowoodo limits your Bench space damage output, and makes it harder to set up, and really do anything since you can’t do as much damage

M Mewtwo-EX (64)

  • The release of Garbodor completely demolishes this deck, as it has become one of the best cards in the game, and Mewtwo has the unfortunate Weakness to its Psychic type

M Rayquaza-EX (76)

  • Just like with Gardevoir, Sudowoodo coming out hits this deck even harder, since it caps out at 120 damage, and to get around it, has to play a Hex Maniac, which then makes most of the Pokemon in the deck have no effect with their Abilities


  • I personally think this deck already died off in many ways, but Field Blower should be the end of it for multiple reasons, since Garbodor can now be addressed, and Fighting Fury Belt makes Yveltal-EX a punching bag with only 170 HP

Overall, Sudowoodo was a much-needed card in the game to address the repeated play and dominance of a variety of decks. It adds another dimension to the game, that I love, in the form of Bench shrinkage, and it will make players think twice before spreading Energy out, amongst other things.


The Standard format is shaping up to be very strange, and as sad as it is to say, Decidueye-GX / Vileplume isn’t taking any real punches from the new set, and should still be the best deck around. I do like the rest of the format, though, since there’s a lot that can be good. Gyarados decks could even see a resurgence, with the release of the new Machoke that stops damage from Abilities and attacks to your Pokemon on your Bench.

Field Blower changes so much, and all the non-EX/GX decks have vaulted the Pokemon-EX/GX decks, in my opinion, like Vespiquen versus Volcanion, for instance. I’m very excited about the Garbodor / Vespiquen deck that I talked about today, and think it can beat anything, even Decidueye-GX / Vileplume, with the many Wobbuffet that it plays.

It’s sure to be a colorful spring with this new set, so get testing, so you can have a leg up on your competition. I love testing with new sets because it's extremely fun for me to use the new cards. Be sure to have lots of practice before your next tournament, and keep in mind that everything in the coming months will be setting the scene for the North American International Championship, as well as the World Championship later this year in August. ‘till next time, readers, I hope you enjoyed!

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