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Marc Lutz

Using Junk for Victory

Marc Lutz talks about one of the less famous decks in Expanded, Sableye/Garbodor!

12/15/2015 by Marc Lutz

Hello my dear readers, it's Marc, this time with an article about an Expanded-only deck that has been around for quite a while, but always moved in the shadows behind big established meta decks like Yveltal, Night March, Seismitoad and recently, Vespiquen. The deck I'm talking about is Sableye/Garbodor, one of the few real lock decks that are still around after the ban of Lysandre's Trump Card. Before Lysandre's Trump Card got banned, the best deck was Seismitoad/Slurpuff, which quickly became Seismitoad/Shaymin when Roaring Skies was released. Another very successful lock deck was Exeggutor, which blocked Items instead of Supporters like Seismitoad.

Both died pretty quickly after the TPCi announced that Lysandre's Trump Card got banned, which left Seismitoad/Garbodor and Seismitoad/Crobat as the only lock decks, with Seismitoad/Garbodor struggling with the fact that its damage output wasn't that high and it only had access to a limited amount of Crushing Hammer and Super Scoop Up. Seismitoad/Crobat was successful even without Trump Card which was made pretty clear after it finished 2nd and 3rd at this year’s Pokémon World Championships in Boston. The next lock deck that came up was Seismitoad/Giratina which saw a large amount of play after Robin Schulz piloted it to the first place at the Arena Cup in Würzburg, Germany. But with the release of the new promo Jirachi from XY BREAKthrough it was pretty clear that the amount of play would go down by a lot, leaving Sableye as the only real lock deck that's still around. Sableye is a mixture of deckout decks that existed before Lysandre's Trump card was released, and of the unlimited access to Trainers like Seismitoad/Slurpuff. But first of all let's take a look at the decklist that recently won a Regional Championship in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The main strategy for this deck is to prevent your opponent from taking any Prize cards by removing their Energy cards and locking useless Pokémon in the Active position, almost like Wailord did. The major difference between Sableye and Wailord is that you have unlimited access to your Item cards thanks to Sableye's Junk Hunt attack. Junk Hunt usually just allows you to get back Item cards, but thanks to VS Seeker and Super Rod, you're able to get back any cards that you want, as long as you stick to this list, but I will get to possible changes or different tech cards at a later point of this article. The most common card that you will want to get back with Junk Hunt are Life Dew and Crushing Hammer or VS Seeker, depending on which kind of lock and/or removal you need. If you don't have to get the Life Dew back, because your opponent didn't Knock Out your Active Pokémon, or just played Lysandre on a different one, you have the choice to get either two Crushing Hammers or a VS Seeker and a Hammer if you need to keep removing your opponents Energy, or just cards like Super Rod to get back attackers and Energy.

There might, of course, also be situations where you need your Float Stone back because Garbodor got either Knocked Out, or just Tool Scrapper’d, or a Hypnotoxic Laser if you feel like you need one in your next turn, but all of these possible Junk Hunt targets depend on different situations which I will talk about in certain matchups. If you have your opponent in a spot where they’re just-draw passing, you can start focusing on milling their deck with Trick Shovel and Bunnelby, but if you try to mill them to0 early, before disrupting them enough, you will find yourself in a really rough spot to win the game. Most decisions while playing this deck depend on playtesting and experience with the deck itself, or other decks of its kind, but as soon as you feel comfortable with it, most decisions should be self-explanatory.

Now that we've talked about the deck's general strategy, I want to take a look at some matchups that will be important just because the decks are played very often, like Vespiquen and Yveltal, but also about decks that aren't that commonly seen, but require different thoughts, or just very bad matchups on their own.


Yveltal is probably the most interesting and exciting matchup when playing Sableye, because it's neither an autowin, nor an autoloss. It's still slightly in Sableye's favor, but the Yveltal deck does have a lot of potential ways to play against Sableye. The most common way is to use the regular Yveltal from XY to keep cycling your Energy to power up a big Yveltal-EX to KO any Sableye in one hit. The next way to play against Sableye is to use Quaking Punch with Seismitoad-EX, which is very strong if you manage to get it off in early stages of the game where the Sableye player doesn't have a fifteen-card hand with a lot of options.

 You can also try to use Yveltal a few turns in a row to attach Energy to a Benched Shaymin-EX to use Sky Return and get all of these Darkness Energy back into your hand. This however requires you to have some kind of switching cards every time you want to attack with Shaymin, because usually the Sableye player is going to discard any Float Stones, and both Darkrai-EX and Keldeo-EX are being blocked by Garbodor. The best way is still to power up one big Yveltal to keep knocking out these Sableye and hope for a lot of Tails on your opponent’s Crushing Hammer and Hypnotoxic Laser. If Sableye doesn't manage to get rid of the Energy fast enough, Yveltal has the upper hand; other than that Sableye is probably going to win most of the time.

Night March

Night March is probably the easiest matchup you can get, because you've got the advantage against any version of this deck. The easiest version to beat is the Milotic version as you're able to block Milotic’s Ability with Garbodor’s Garbotoxin Ability, while also discarding any Double Colorless Energy your opponent is going to put into play by either Enhanced Hammer, Team Flare Grunt, Xerosic, Crushing Hammer or even Jirachi. On top of these already heartbreaking problems for the Night March player, you also prevent them from taking Prizes by using Life Dew, and even if they manage to hit the Lysandre each turn, as long as you don't Bench to many Shaymin it's almost impossible to lose against this version.

The next version is the commonly used Mew version with a bunch of Basic Energy which also doesn't threaten Sableye too much. You won't be able to discard Basic Energy with Enhanced Hammer or Xerosic, but flipping some Hammers should be enough to discard any Energy from possible Benched Night March threats. Like Milotic, Mew-EX Ability Versatile is also being blocked by Garbodor which prevents one-Energy attacks with Mew-EX combined with Dimension Valley and a Benched Joltik.

The last version I'm going to talk about is the Yveltal version, which is a slight reminder to the Yveltal matchup with the major difference that this version is going to run out of dark Energy way quicker than its big brother Yveltal. With some Flare Grunt and Crushing Hammer combinations, this should also be a pretty easy matchup, but if you want a Night March version that can possibly win the Sableye matchup, this is probably the best shot you can get, even though it has still got a pretty rough time against Sableye.


The Vespiquen matchup is almost the same as Night March, with the only difference being that Vespiquen is able to use Blacksmith onto their Flareon, which will allow them to attack more often than Night March. The biggest problem for Vespiquen is that it's very vulnerable to Lysandre as you'll have to either use Energy to Retreat, or use VS Seeker on AZ, which is also going to limit your Blacksmith options. Overall, Vespiquen has a slightly better matchup against Sableye than Night March does, but it's still going to be in Sableye's favor most of the time.


Seismitoad/Crobat is probably the deck that will have the highest influence on the playability of Sableye/Garbodor. It's almost impossible for Sableye to survive in a Seismitoad/Crobat heavy metagame, because the matchup just favors Seismitoad so much. You have the damage output from Golbat and Crobat combined with Quaking Punch, which allows the Seismitoad player to kill the biggest threat to Seismitoad/Crobat – Jirachi. This already is a very easy and strong counterplay to Sableye, but there is even more. The next thing is Hypnotoxic Laser, which has a lot of ways to hurt the Sableye deck. The first and probably most important way is that it allows Seismitoad, in combination with Golbat and Crobat to get the guaranteed KO on any Sableye, Trubbish, Bunnelby, etc. each turn, even without a Muscle Band.

The next way is that Sleep will prevent you from using Trubbish or Bunnelby to get back any Xerosic or Flare Grunt, even though this probably won't be important anyways as these two are almost killed every time. The biggest hope to win this matchup is to get Trubbish and a Float Stone down on your first turn, because shutting down Bats will make this matchup much easier. If you manage to get the early Garbodor you want to get a second Trubbish to use Garbage Collect and use Xerosic and Flare Grunt as often as possible, to get at least one turn to use Trainers and use Tool Scrapper to attach a Head Ringer to your opponents Seismitoad. If you manage to get all of these thing done, you should be in a very good spot to win the game, but if you don't it really depends on if you can draw your Energy-removal Supporters and delay Bats knockouts as long as possible, but that's actually something you don't have that much influence to.


The Manectric matchup has to be divided in two parts. On one side we have the conventional Manectric/Garbodor or Manectric/Articuno variants, on the other side is the pretty recently come up Manectric/Raikou version which often abuses Mega Turbo because this deck is more focused on M Manectric-EX or Manectric-EX in general, where most other versions usually try to power up other attackers primarily.

Regular Manectric aren't that hard to beat if you can manage to hit at least some Hammers in the first few turn, or get your Head Ringers onto your opponents Manectric. In most cases you should be able to either hit Heads on one of two Hammers or just get your Team Flare Grunt if he's going to power up their Active Manectric you should be fine. On the other hand the addition of Mega Turbo changes the matchup completely. If your opponent plays Mega Turbo all they has to do is to Mega Turbo to their M Manectric-EX, and attach one energy from their hand to use Turbo Bolt and get even more Energy into play. Usually they will use Turbo Bolt to power up a second M Manectric-EX to even deny you the chance to prevent them from attacking. The only way to win this game is to either lock a Shaymin-EX or Hoopa in the Active spot, or hit four Heads on Crushing Hammer, or three if you're also got a Team Flare Grunt. Overall this is one of the worst matchups by far, and you'll have to get very lucky to potentially win the game against any version that also uses Mega Turbo.


This is probably the saddest matchup for this deck as there is absolutely nothing you can do. Your opponent is just going to have an Active Trevenant with a Float Stone and a Gengar-EX sitting on their Bench while taking a Prize card each turn with its Dark Corridor attack to switch back to the Bench right away. You can only play Xerosic for either the Double Colorless Energy, or the Float Stone which will leave you with very few options to turn the game into your favor. You can also hope to hit the Lysandre, flip heads on Hammer, and get your Lysandre back with VS Seeker which will require a lot of luck and is very unlikely to happen, but there's obviously still the chance to do it. The only real option that's also realistic to happen is to include a Double Colorless Energy which will allow you to use Sky Return to prevent your opponent from taking any Prizes, unless they hits the Lysandre each turn, which also puts them into a spot where they isn't allowed to discard any of their Lysandres or VS Seeker, or to use VS Seeker for anything else than Lysandre, because it's pretty unlikely that they will run more than six options to use Lysandre.

Possible additions:

Virizion EX and Blend Energy

Blend Energy and Virizion were included in most list when the deck first came up, especially because you this deck is one of the few ones that are still able to abuse Blend Energy. When the two Blend Energy first came out, both saw a lot of play, one of them in Empoleon variants that also ran Landorus-EX after its release in Boundaries Crossed, or in a deck that had a huge metagame impact when Dragons Exalted first came out: Darkrai/Hydreigon. When these decks first came out Blend Energy were used to fit in some nice tech attackers like Shaymin-EX from Next Destinies, but after the release of Plasma Blast it also became a nice addition in Dark decks to abuse the Ability of Virizion. Sadly when Plasma Blast came out, Darkrai/Hydreigon had already been removed from meta impacting decks, so we never actually saw Darkrai/Hydreigon abuse Virizion’s Ability.

In the Sableye deck, Virizion is almost only serves one purpose – to block your opponents Hypnotoxic Laser. Hypnotoxic Laser is very annoying for Sableye as it serves a lot of purposes for decks that use Hypnotoxic Laser and Seismitoad. The main reason why Laser is so annoying is that it can prevent you from attacking at some turns, which can be very devastating for a deck that is relying so much on getting cards back by attacking. The next thing is that Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank in combination with Muscle Band allow Seismitoad to Knock Out Sableye in one hit, while also applying the Item-lock with Quaking Punch. On the other hand, Hypnotoxic Laser often doesn't make the difference and playing Virizion in the same deck with Garbodor is actually pretty counterproductive. The probably most annoying factor is that you can't get Blend Energy back into your deck with Super Rod, which is why I would just chose Virizion and Blend Energy if you expect a lot of players to play decks with Seismitoad, and if you're afraid that these players will ruin your strategy with some lucky Laser flips.

Virbank City Gym

Virbank City Gym is one of the more discussed cards in this deck, as it's probably the 61st card for most players that have been testing this deck, especially if you chose to run at least two Hypnotoxic Laser. The main reason why Virbank City Gym isn't included in this list is that your deck is not focused around taking knockouts on your opponents Pokémon. You don't run Hypnotoxic Laser to draw six Prize cards, it's used to get some Sleep flips if you can't manage to Lysandre around your opponents attacker, or just to Knock Out annoying attackers like Yveltal to get rid of them because there isn't that much to do against it, other than flipping Hammers each turn or getting the Team Flare Grunts to hopefully get your opponent into a spot where they won't be able to attack anymore. Virbank City Gym is also a very nice choice to kick your opponents Stadium, but you also have to be aware of the fact that you won't be able to win any Stadium wars with just one Stadium.

Parallel City

Parallel City is a very interesting choice for this deck as it can help in a lot of situations. The first one is kind of working for you in two ways. You can place the Stadium in a way where you get top discard Pokémon from your Bench which is pretty nice to get rid of the Shaymin you played in early stages of the game. In the meantime, the other side of the Stadium is going to reduce your opponents damage, which could be game changing against decks like Seismitoad/Crobat where you're able to reduce Quaking Punch’s damage by 20 which could lead to a longer living Bunnelby or Trubbish to get back your Team Flare Grunts or Xerosic to make the damage much more favorable. You could also, obviously, use Parallel City to reduce your opponents Bench space which is also very good against Seismitoad/Crobat to either block space for Seismitoad-EX without a Head Ringer, or to prevent your opponent from playing down any more Zubat. Overall I would just include Parallel City if you don't want to play Hypnotoxic Laser, because it's better to run at least two of them to really have it getting the impact on the game you want it to have.


Teammates is actually a very good card in this deck, especially in the first few turns. You are often in a spot where you can't find your Life Dew as fast as you would like, or get that extra Enhanced Hammer which isn't already in your discard pile to Junk Hunt for. The main problem with Teammates is that it becomes very useless after you have all you need in your discard pile, because you just won't need any more cards that are in your deck. It's also often just not worth using your Supporter for the turn to search for, let's say Crushing Hammer, where you can also just get your Flare Grunt for a safe discard. In most matchups Teammates is just useful to get that Life Dew, or maybe Garbodor and Float Stone to get it into play right away, but other than that it's not that useful in most games.

One matchup where Teammates really gets to shine is once again the Seismitoad matchup. With Teammates you're able to get two cards in any combination of Team Flare Grunts or Xerosic which is equivalent to two discarded Double Colorless Energy which is huge if you consider that you're able to discard at least one more with Jirachi which will leave them with just one Double Colorless Energy against your left Energy-removal cards, Trubbish and potentially even a second attack from Jirachi if they isn't able to get rid of it the turn after you already discarded one Energy. Overall Teammates is a card that I would definitely include if you're expecting a lot of Seismitoad/Crobat, or just Seismitoad decks in general.

Double Colorless Energy

Double Colorless is a card that helps to make Shaymin-EX so much better than it already is. Double Colorless Energy allows you to use Sky Return which is game-changing in some matchups. Sky Returning under a Quaking Punch lock where your opponent isn't able to Knock Out your Shaymin in one hit, or just to prevent Gengar/Trevenant from drawing any Prize cards is just so good that you will usually wish for this card if you're playing one of these matchups. The sad thing about Double Colorless Energy is that it's completely useless in any matchup which isn't won why Sky Returning every game which makes this one of the more theoretical choices which probably won't see any play in decent Sableye lists, but if you're way to scared of Gengar/Trevenant or some Seismitoad-EX variants, you can include it, but I honestly don't think that it's as good as it might seem.


Overall this deck is pretty powerful, especially if players in your area aren't expecting it, which usually means that there won't be too many decks like Manectric with Mega Turbo, or Gengar/Trevenant, because these are quite uncommon to see. If you want to play the deck you will have to be aware of the fact that you're playing a deck that is focused only on decking your opponent out, so if you flip tails on almost every Hammer, or just can't get any access to any Energy-removal cards before they power up, let's say an Yveltal-EX with six Darkness Energy, you won't have a chance, especially because unlike Seismitoad, you won't have a chance to block their Item cards which will allow them to use cards like Dark Patch to power up their Benched Pokémon, or Mega Turbo in decks that run M Mewtwo, M Manectric or Primal Groudon.

But if you manage to get the right cards, which isn't that difficult considering that you're running a lot of consistency, you will win most matchups most of the time, which is exactly what makes Sableye/Garbodor such a strong deck. Where decks like Yveltal have a lot of decent matchups, but no actual autowins, Sableye will win most of its games if you're not unlucky in your flips, or happen to Prize your Life Dew. But be aware that you will have to play long rounds with games that are often barely on the edge, because you're depending so much on flip cards like Crushing Hammer.


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