"Z.W.O.L.E." - Buzzwole/Garbodor in Standard!
Jay takes an in-depth look at Ian Robb's list that performed well at Wisconsin!
06/14/2018 by Jay Lesage
Good afternoon 60Cards readers! It’s been a whisk-and-a-way with all of these Regionals lately, and it’s been exhausting keeping up with all of the travel – at least in the North American tournament circuit. We’ve seen all sorts of decks pop up, but with the recent Madison Regional Championships, we saw Buzzwole/Lycanroc take yet another victory alongside a stealthy pilot, Igor Costa. This format has embraced a lot of speed coming its way, and it’s important to acknowledge the tempo of game state: players either need to find a way to be the fastest, or slow the pace of game down. Whether you choose to slow down or accelerate, there’s multiple ways to do both of those things (which we’ll look at in this article). Today, we’ll be talking tempo, how you can abuse tempo to the best of your advantage, and my favourite deck that uses tempo to its advantage!
I just finished up school, which means my first initial instinct is to begin practicing more Pokemon. My go to website for decklists, Limitlesstcg.com, was an excellent resource for reviewing the top decklists at Madison! Via the website, I was able to catch up on all of the action I missed previously, and compare lists between top level players at a Regional level. A unique tool to see is also who piloted the same list – this shows who is a specific players teammate, if they have affiliations with another player, or in some cases, both players just think alike. You can see if somebody piloted the same list as somebody else by checking the bottom of the decklist, where it shows the decklist’s accomplishments. If a single list has multiple accomplishments at the same tournament, it’s safe to say (most of the time) that that deck was a phenomenal play; I cherish consistency of a deck over anything. Proof really is in the accomplishments! With that consistency comes a lot of common concepts – here are a few of my chart topping cards that can quickly change the tempo of the game.
Max Elixir is an insane card that lets you attach energy in a whole new different light. The main reasoning behind this card increasing tempo is because it breaks the rules of the game – usually you’d only be able to attach a single energy per turn. Max Elixir also only allows you to attach energy to basic Pokemon, which increases the likelihood of a quicker format since you don’t need to evolve in order to connect with strong attacks. Max Elixir also encourages a fast engine within your deck because it requires the pilot to efficiently thin their deck enough in order to maximize your odds of the card working. Yes, you can play a Max Elixir at any point, and provided you have an energy in your deck, it has a chance of hitting. However, if you properly thin your deck with aggressive Supporter and Item-type cards, you can hit off Max Elixir more frequently.
An example of a deck that utilizes this is the previously mentioned Buzzwole/Lycanroc. Max Elixir allows you to promptly power up your Buzzwoles on the bench, all the while providing some energy to Rockruff while it is waiting to be evolve into a Lycanroc.
Hot Tip: Sometimes, it’s best to Cynthia/N in order to preserve Max Elixir for a later time. Just because it’s in your hand doesn’t mean you need to play it. Great player Azul Garcia Griego at many times held his Max Elixirs because he had several basic energy in his hand – he knew his odds were low if he played the Max Elixir. Rather than waste a Max Elixir that he knew had low odds of hitting, he played Cynthia, and utilized it later on in the match for a solid hit.
Beast Ring is an absolute… well.. beast! Being able to attach multiple energy at a certain time in the game is no joke, and allows Buzzwole to hit new heights regarding energy manipulation. This card doesn’t just apply to Buzzwole, as it can really apply to any Ultra Beast; this card increases tempo at a specific point in the game, because it only comes into effect during a very narrow 1-2 turn window. Imagine taking multiple energy drinks all in a row, and then running a marathon – that is effectively what Buzzwole is after playing a single copy of Beast Ring. The unique trick with this card is to manipulate the Prize Trade so that you are ahead when you play this card – that way, you stay ahead of the Prize Trade, and maintain that tempo all the while taking KOs. This card has insane synergy with Buzzwole because Knuckle Impact is able to take those big OHKOs that other Pokemon can’t. Absorption is a very hefty GX attack as well that requires energy manipulation (such as Beast Ring) in order to fire off. Beast Ring requires very little skill to play as card, but requires resource management – you must reserve this card in your deck. You must also be able to find as many copies as applicable during that very short window of time, otherwise it is useless.
As mentioned above, Beast Ring is found in Buzzwole-based decks primarily. It can also be found in Malamar decks with Utra Necrozma in order to fish out Metal energy. Beast Ring will be around for quite some time, and because of that will have a lot of unique versatility over the years. People have even paired it with Dusk Mane Necrozma, which is one of my personal favourites!
Hot Tip: If you’re trying to boycott this card, try to use a deck that takes multiple Prize Cards at once – for example, take Joey Ho’s Greninja deck – it aims to take care of business by timing Giant Water Shurikens so that you go from six Prize Cards, to 5 Prize Cards, and then take a bunch of KOs to get down to 2 Prize Cards. This way, you avoid the entirety of Beast Ring, and topple all of your opponent’s attackers simultaneously! Magnificent!
3. Draw Supporters
This is more of an abstract term – what I really mean is that draw supporters accelerate tempo moreso than a card like Brigette, which manually searches your deck for Pokemon. While random draw is good for any game, too much of it can make the game pace much faster than what the players themselves can handle. Professor Sycamore is a card that initially seemed like it was in good taste, but the more I play it the more it feels like “let’s pray that I get the correct cards to stay in the game, and optimally draw a card that’s useable”. The thing about Professor Sycamore is that every time you draw for the beginning of your turn, and that card is unusable, it gets discarded – that is unhealthy if you assume 20% of your deck is unplayable. Cynthia is a more stable version of Professor Sycamore, however it’s still posing a ton of variance for the overall umbrella of supporters. It would be much better if the format were to be based around cards such as Trevor, or even draw cards such as Lillie, because they are much more controlled in a sense where you have to burn cards to use them – Sycamore’s effect will happen regardless of whether or not good play occurs. Lillie’s effect will also occur, but it rewards players who determine how effective they want it to be.
Hot Tip: Losing to N in the late game all the time? Spend a ton of time thinning your deck in the early-mid game, so that way you don’t draw into clutter on the last turn. Use your Ultra Balls effectively, and Sycamore away anything useless. Use N before Cynthia in favourable matchups where you know you’ll get ahead – that way, in the late game, you’ll have a bunch of live Cynthias in the deck to pull you out of a rough spot.
4. N (FCO; 105)
This is both an accelerator, and a decelerator (which is why it fits into both categories on this list). N has been a card that has been around for tons of time, causing headaches and nightmares to those who draw dead off of it. It’s one of the very few unique cards that exchanges both players hands into the deck, and balances it off by making them draw equal to their remaining Prize Cards. I’ve always love the element of skill that goes into an N because you have the power to exchange your opponent’s hand (or not). An N can change the complete course of a game at anytime, and is very reminiscent of the card Rocket’s Admin. It changes the tempo of the game because in the early game, it speeds things up by being a draw Supporter – in the late game, it poses as a “stick in the wheels”. You can literally flip an entire game upside-down by dropping your opponent on an N-to-1, and then praying that they draw dead off of it.
N is a staple in almost any deck, but has been dethroned slightly by on-board draw Pokemon such as Zoroark, Oranguru, and Octillery. These Pokemon alleviate the pressure N can put on a player by allowing them to keep their drawing stabilities in play, the only real hazards that can be caused against them is when you knock them out. Whilst KOing your opponent’s draw support Pokemon can be a solid strategy, most of the time you’re forced to KO the opposing attacker you’re facing down.
Hot Tip: Don’t play N as your opening Supporter – try to Cynthia or something first. That way, you can see whether your opponent has a dead hand or not, and you may walk away with a win. Try to read your opponent’s body language based off of their enthusiasm towards the general game state, and go from there.
5. Support Pokemon
Support Pokemon are some of the most common ways to accelerate the board state. This type of accelerant is fine because it requires time, and effort (in most cases) in order to establish a Pokemon to your field for the sake of setting up. Sometimes, these specific cards are deemed as liabilities (ex. Octillery with two retreat) or perhaps they are basics, but with weaker abilities (ex. Oranguru with Instruct). All of these Pokemon can assist in sculpting a favourable board position provided you can dedicate bench space to it.
Support Pokemon can speed up the tempo of the game the same as a draw Supporter can – by making you see more cards in a shorter period of time. Zoroark is the most common example of this with its Trade ability – if you can get multiple Zoroark in play, you can draw upwards of four extra cards each turn, all the while discarding useless cards before you’ve even played a Supporter! This is the reason why Zoroark can afford to play different one-of Supporters, such as Professor Kukui or Acerola.
Hot Tip: Don’t forget to use your draw abilities each turn! Use tokens to symbolize whether or not you’ve used them, and don’t let your opponent tell you otherwise. It’s so easy to get lost away in such a long turn, so keep your memory sharp and utilize the resources given to you. Each card counts!
Double Hot Tip: 99 times out of 10, don’t use a draw ability before using Professor Sycamore. It isn’t worth it, because most of the time, you’ll discard valuable resources.
6. Garbodor (BKP; 57) “Garbotoxin”
Garbodor is a MASSIVE downer for any decks running abilities, especially since it’s typically ran in decks that don’t utilize many abilities! Garbodor slows down the tempo of games by preventing them from gaining card advantages; need a Supporter at a key moment in the game? You won’t be able to use Tapu Lele to fish it out. Need to use Zoroark-GX’s Trade ability to get things starter? You unfortunately won’t be able to spam that ability either, because you’re underneath Garbotoxin lock! This is one of the main reasons many players include 1-2 Field Blower within their decks – because they don’t want to get shut out of the game by being locked. Garbodor is fantastic in combination with other ‘lock’ type cards, such as Parallel City and N. By playing one of these, you’d typically not cause much harm, but in combination, these cards can bring a game that may previously been favouring a certain player, to a point where it can completely alter the results. Reducing one’s bench to three Pokemon, while ability-locking them, and reducing their hand size to a low count is disturbingly hard to shake off in this game. Most times, the only way out is by topdecking one of the few remaining draw Supporters in your deck!
An example of a deck that utilizes Garbodor would be Ian Robb’s Buzzwole-GX deck that recently did well at the Wisconsin Regional Championships. I particularly wanted to highlight this deck because I thought it had an interesting premise behind it, and Ian obviously did very well with it. He played an interesting list that used a ton of tempo cards to not only speed up his own deck, but to also shut down his opponent. This mixture added a unique component to his deck that allowed him to surpass his opponent’s skillfully in a game with relative ease. I personally would’ve been very unprepared to play against this had I not seen it coming at Wisconsin, so I urge you to take a peak! Here’s the list below:
- 1x Buzzwole
- 4x Buzzwole GX
- 2x Garbodor
- 2x Trubbish
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 4x Nest Ball
- 3x Mysterious Treasure
- 1x Lillie
- 1x Professor Sycamore
- 4x N-supporter
- 4x Cynthia
- 4x Guzma
- 3x Order Pad
- 4x Beast Ring
- 4x Float Stone
- 1x Choice Band
- 4x Fighting Fury Belt
- 7x Fighting Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
- 1x Beast Energy Prism Star
You’ll notice a lack of Baby Buzzwole in this deck – Ian opted to only play a singular copy of this card in his deck for the sledgehammer attack during its peak 4-Prize Card turn. The reasoning behind this is because he couldn’t continue to ‘buff’ these Babies due to his own Garbodor being in play, which would shut down his Diancie Prism (which Ian obviously decided to exclude because of this purpose). Also important to note is the exclusion of Regirock-EX in comparison to Igor Costa’s list, which is the common ‘BuzzRoc’ list now. Ian’s list deviates away from these decks by including Garbodor, and excluding excess Pokemon with abilities.
As a result of running less Babies, Ian copped a solid four-set of Buzzwole, which means he’s always going to have a target for Beast Ring. This heavy count of Buzzwole is so that in the beginning of the game, Ian can most likely start Buzzwole, and begin pressuring with Jet Punch as well as an early Knuckle Impact. Since there is no Lycanroc-GX in this deck, Ian’s GX option is Absorption – Ian’s first Buzzwole-GX can easily take four Prize Cards this way. There are far less Pokemon to setup in this variant, so there is a lack of Brooklet Hill/Brigette. This means that Ian can opt to play a single copy of Lillie, and search it out with Tapu Lele turn one for maximum efficiency. In lieu of playing a card such as Brigette or Brooklet, he actually decided to play a mixture of Nest Ball and Mysterious Treasure. The MTs I found to be very interesting, because while they can’t search out your Buzzwoles, they can find anything else in the deck (which leaves your Ultra Balls to have complete power to search out your attackers). Mysterious Treasure also discards less resources than a typical Ultra Ball would, which means your Beast Rings stick around longer in the deck.
Most Buzzwole decks are playing many energy cards, but Ian’s actually plays a much lower count of seven basic Fighting energy, while maintaining the common four Strong, and single copy of Beast. This is primarily due to his lack of Max Elixirs in the deck – because he doesn’t need to hit Elixirs, he doesn’t need to include many energy in the deck itself. All he needs is an appropriate amount that he can find with Beast Ring, and he’ll be on his way. He also doesn’t need to include Super Rod, because once again, Ian doesn’t play many cards that discard resources. He can preserve them in his deck/hand at any time he pleases.
It seems that Ian dedicated his entire deck to swarming attackers full of energy with Beast Ring. He enjoyed this card so much that he not only stuck to playing three copies of it like most lists, but included the fourth copy as well to ensure that he always had it available to him during the 3 or 4 Prize Card window. True to this decks resource conserving ways, Ian barely plays any copies of Professor Sycamore – in fact, he only plays one! This is so that he never has to discard Beast Ring if he doesn’t want to, and he heightens his chances of still having it in the deck. If he were to play a standard four-count of Professor Sycamore, he would be discarding resources left and right, and in most cases execute his core Beast Ring strategy to a much-lesser extent to what this list can provide. I enjoy his Supporter line-up because it just feels right; I like the conservation aspect of it. He even goes as far as playing Order Pad, so that on the turn when he needs his Beast Rings (or really any Item card at any given time), he can just fish them out of the deck provided he flips a single heads.
One of the last elements I found extremely cool and unique to his deck was the inclusion of Fighting Fury Belt. These Belts do a lot for the deck, and saved Ian surely from what would’ve been OHKOs. A 230HP Pokemon that is taking out your entire field is very reminiscent of Primal Groudon-EX, a deck that once struck fear into many people. The difference between that deck and this one? In Primal Groudon, we were setting up one tank to live the whole game. With this deck? We’re setting up multiple tanks, and they’re dealing the same amount of damage, and we’re doing it all while our opponent is underneath ability-lock the entire match. Fighting Fury Belt also provides answers to the Baby Buzzwole problem we’d normall have, by boosting our HP out of their 2HKO zone (all the while still being able to OHKO them). We still run a Choice Band if ever needed, and that can be searched out with Order Pad at any time. This deck feels like it comes together like the egg in a quiche, and I can’t wait to try it out at the local League Cups I’ll be going to very soon.
That’s my take on tempo in the game, and what players have been doing to abuse it to the best of their abilities lately. It’s excellent to see creativity still flowing through player’s veins, and to not see the same old cookie cutter decks topping every single event. The more I write articles the more I realize I like to showcase certain decks that have done well and study those rather than innovate concepts that may flop. Although I enjoy writing about decks that perhaps may not have seen play, I’ve never regarded myself as the best ‘innovator’, but perhaps I’d rather relish in my research abilities. That’s why you, the readers, get to cherish and enjoy articles like these – it’s like little chewed up pieces of information. I know why I love watching documentaries: because the information has already been provided for you.
I’m in a weird spot in life where I’m moving out for the first time. At the age of 21, I still have a lot more to learn about life, but luckily there’s tons of competitive play where I’ll be going (as well as a tight circle of friends waiting for me). I’m excited to play in the Ottawa area as opposed to the Toronto area, as I feel like the vibe here is more friendly, open, and that’s exciting to me (that’s not a knock against Toronto, as I enjoyed their hyper-competitive aspect as well – it’s just ‘different’). I’ll have to update you guys very soon as to how the new organized play is out here, but until then, I’ll see everybody at North American Internationals! Cheers folks, and remember – get lucky, and run hot!
Garbodor (BKP; 57)
Max Elixir (BKP; 102)
Beast Ring (FLI; 102)
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