Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

Stylizing Standard: Top 3 Techs for Any Deck

Daniel goes over three of his top techs for Standard and a couple of decks to put them in.

11/18/2015 by Daniel Altavilla


Hey there, 60cards readers! We've just wrapped up a crazy month of Regionals and now we're moving forward into the next chapter of this format. BREAKthrough has given us a bunch of cards to throw into the Standard format, giving us a bit more of a chance to diversify our decks. Along with this refreshing addition to our card pool comes three interesting cards that singlehandedly solve the problems we have against three top Standard contenders, namely Seismitoad/Giratina, Manectric/Regice, and Night March. 

Those 3 decks were pretty much the entire field for League Challenges throughout the U.S., and they're mostly the only decks people feel comfortable with after BREAKthrough's release. But it's time to leave your comfort zone, because they get attacked pretty hard by this new set! (And new promos!) I've been tinkering with these select cards in a couple different decks, so after going over the cards and applications of them, I'm going to throw them into a couple of lists to show exactly where they'll be most necessary, in my opinion. We'll start by talking about Gallade.


Gallade looks like a great card from the start. A Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick target with an attack that only takes a Double Colorless Energy? Count me in! Gallade has been messed with by people since it was first revealed, so it's pretty hyped right now. This hype isn't just a coincidence, though! Gallade has an Ability that pairs incredibly well with Unown AOR's Farewell Letter Ability, making it an instant candidate for Night March and Vespiquen, two decks which can run Unown smoothly. It also helps these decks and Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX with one sort of big issue they've had—M Manectric-EX! 

Sensitive Blade is an incredible attack, as it gets powered up by 70 damage if a Supporter has come into play. This means that every Supporter you play during your turn not only has it's effect but it also sets you up for a knockout. This is incredible partly because it's a wonderful thing being able to gain even more off of your Supporter, but it's also scary because if you whiff a Supporter, you're doing fairly low damage. But with Premonition, constantly shuffling your top five cards around to fit your needs means you most likely won't be Supporterless for long! Now that we've talked about Gallade's usefulness, let's go over some of the decks he's most beneficial in. 

Gallade is more of a tool to keep yourself drawing into the cards you need who has a neat attack in case you ever need to use it, but he'll mostly only see the Bench for the duration of your game. This means he's most useful in decks that can work fine when their engine is switched to a Maxie engine, so Turbo Rayquaza and Crobat-based decks will have trouble finding room for him, or will have to run Ralts, Kirlia, and Rare Candy. His home is in decks that already have Battle Compressor engines, meaning M Manectric-EX, Night March, Vespiquen, and Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX. These decks all have some trouble versus M Manectric-EX, and can prosper greatly from being able to OHKO it. Also, the last three decks listed all gain from Premonition, being able to fish out Double Colorless Energy and VS Seekers without having to Sycamore away their hand! That's a really good thing for these decks, and they're definitely going to abuse Gallade for the time being. 

Gallade is also possible to run solo, but it's much tougher. You take a loss to Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX, and you take a loss to Bats-based decks, so it's not the safest bet, but if your area is filled with M Manectric-EX and little else, it might be best for you to pair this bad boy with a couple of Hawluchas and Lucario-EX and create a deck that blows Manectric out of the format. The interesting thing about Gallade as a standalone deck is the amount of cards you can run with him based on his attack's cost. Seismitoad-EX is a given, along with other guys like Miltank and Hippowdon, but it doesn't stop there! You can tech Zoroark for his anti-M Rayquaza-EX attack, or you can tech Machamp-EX as a sort of wall to keep your Gallade safe for a little bit, and you can even tech the Jirachi that I'm going to elaborate on later in the article. 

With so many different choices for Gallade, he not only is one of the greatest techs in Standard, but he's one of the more diverse cards we've seen in this XY block. It'll be great moving forward to see exactly how this card is used and abused, but next we have the one card with the most interesting attack, Jirachi!


At first glance, Jirachi isn't the best card. A measly 60 HP, two light attacks that really don't put a dent in anything, and a Promo that will most likely be three to five bucks apiece just because it's in a clamshell. But read the first attack carefully. This Pokémon only hits for 10, but it discards a Special Energy on your opponent's Active and is invulnerable for a turn after doing so. Jirachi can easily force Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX to either run out of Energy, or to break their lock, meaning the deck loses it's flair just like that. This guy takes ONE COLORLESS ENERGY too, meaning that he's literally fit to be teched into any deck! It's crazy how overwhelmingly powerful that first attack is! You can run this card in Sableye/Garbodor to beat Rayquaza and ToadBats and other iffy matchups more favorably, you can run him in Bats decks to autowin Seismitoad/Giratina even though you couldn't before, you can run him in Metal to be a perfect shield against Night March...the possibilities are truly endless. 

An interesting thing about this card is that it scares Special Energy decks to the point that they'll need to tech Escape Ropes in hopes of getting around it. It's always incredible when a card forces decks to waste a space in their list just to counter it. For example, Eviolite was so big in 2012 for Darkrai-EX that players had to run PlusPower just to deal with it. When a card scares the rest of the meta, that's truly how you know the card is powerful.

Jirachi could be paired with Vileplume and Team Flare Grunt to make a lock deck, paired with Crawdaunt and Bunnelby to make a deck that runs your opponent out of Energy and then mills with Bunnelby's Burrow, or could be kept as a simple one-of in decks that are afraid of Seismitoad/Giratina, M Rayquaza-EX, or any other deck that uses mostly Special Energy. Or maybe you don't necessarily want to remove Special Energy from the field, but you want to be able to survive attacks from those Pokémon who are utilizing them? In that case, check out my last tech!

Assault Vest

Yep, probably not expected to be on a "top three techs" list, but here it is! Assault Vest is one of the most underrated cards to come out of BREAKthrough. This card reduces attacks done to you by Pokémon with Special Energy attached by an entire 40 damage! That's the perfect number, and we'll do some math to show it. 

Seismitoad-EX with Assault Vest versus Night March:
  > 11 Marchers in discard needed to do 220-40=180 damage. Can't play Revive after another Toad comes up and gets the revenge-KO, meaning this is the last attack of the game for Night March. Can't play Muscle Band beforehand to prevent discarding all Night Marchers. Can't OHKO if even one Night Marcher is Prized, out of twelve. 

M Manectric-EX with Assault Vest versus M Rayquaza-EX:
  > OHKO on Rayquaza, hitting 220. Can't be OHKO'd back, because 240-40=200. Math is PERFECT. 

Giratina-EX with Assault Vest versus Yveltal-EX with 3 Energy and Muscle Band attached:
 > 20 base, plus 60 on Yveltal, 20 more for band. 100. Plus four Energy on Giratina, 80. 180 total. 180-40=140. If Yveltal decides to Y Cyclone, that's only 70 damage. Can't even get a 2HKO anymore with that attack!

M Manectric-EX with Assault Vest versus Vespiquen with 21 Pokémon in the discard pile:
 > For this one, we're using the largest number of Pokémon Vespiquen can realistically discard. Two Shaymin will probably be in play, along with a 1-1 Vespiquen line, and another Combee with another Vespiquen somewhere in the deck. That's six out of the standard number of 27. Without Muscle Band, Vespiquen is hitting 20+210-40= 190 damage, not even OHKO'ing M Manectric-EX. If any of these Pokémon aren't in the discard or if one happens to be Prized, even WITH MUSCLE BAND AND 20 POKEMON IN THE DISCARD, this last-ditch attack is doing only 200 damage. M Manectric was already a tough matchup for Vespiquen, but with Assault Vest, it's essentially an autoloss.

Hopefully this math proved my point about Assault Vest. The card is tough to pull off for Megas because you can't attach your Spirit Link, so it puts you a turn behind, and it also takes up the Muscle Band spot, giving your attacks less power, but regardless, you're preventing KOs, which is the biggest thing you can do in this game, because that's literally the game of Pokémon, taking six Prizes before your opponent!

Assault Vest has a place in absolutely every deck, because there will always be a situation in which it's applicable. Not sure if I'd run multiple, though, and if I ran it, I'd probably also run Skyla or four Trainers' Mail to guarantee that it comes out at some point. But anyways, now that we've gone over the three techs, it's time to show you guys the two decks I feel these techs work best in, Vespiquen and Seismitoad/Crobat.


This deck is almost a standard Vespiquen list, just with a few techs for the current meta. You have Druddigon in there for the mirror, you have Entei also for the mirror, for Night March, and for metal, and you have Gallade for M Manectric-EX. Everything else is pretty much standard for the Queen Bee. But for those who have yet to understand exactly why Vespiquen is built the way it is, I've gone over the counts below.

 4-4 Vespiquen

This number is obvious. 4-4 Vespiquen is a given in this kind of deck, considering she's your main attacker. If I could run an 8-8, I would. The thing that makes Vespiquen/Flareon such an attractive deck in Expanded is the idea that you have eight attackers and hit Seismitoad for Weakness with half of them, meaning not only can you feel safe against Toad, but you have four extra backup attackers in case your four Vespiquen can't do the job alone. This isn't the case in Standard, though, so we make up for the lack of eight attackers by teching two Basic attackers and two Gallade, to still hit that magic number of 8. 

2-1/1 Flareon/Jolteon

Eeveelutions are meant to allow Vespiquen to OHKO the heavy hitters of the format. This was the reasoning behind the deck's viability in the first place. I could see two Flareon because of the Blacksmith, but it's not really necessary. Regardless, this entire line can be messed with and fixed up according to your local meta and is just the base line I'd use in a deck like this.

2 Gallade

Gallade is almost necessary for this deck to prosper in Standard. M Manectric is too abundant to forsake Gallade. Plus, he's a heavy hitter for non-EX attackers like Yveltal XY, which has always been a thorn in the side for Vespiquen and Flareon. Lastly, Premonition is an incredible Ability for this deck and when paired with Unown, it becomes an incredible asset. Plus he has swords for elbows, which may be the most important consideration.

1 Jirachi

This homie is almost broken, as I stated above. Vespiquen has slight trouble against Seismitoad/Giratina, and this Jirachi pretty much fixes that issue. Turn your number one rival into an autowin with one card? Why would you not include Jirachi?

1 Druddigon

Druddigon used to be the counter in Yveltal-EX decks and Landorus-EX decks for Blastoise back when he was released. Now that Dragon-types are weak to Fairy rather than their fellow Dragon brethren, Druddigon has seen virtually no play. But he can still be strong, OHKO'ing Vespiquen and Night Marchers without needing Combee to be in play for a turn. He puts your opponent in a situation in the mirror match where no matter what they do, they're going to be OHKO'd on their next turn. And with Judge in the format again, I highly doubt they'll be able to pull out the lead under all of that pressure. 

4 Shaymin-EX

Shaymin-EX at a 4-of is kind of scary, but the idea is that you have one or two to discard after you've set up, and in case you can't set up, you have multiple at your disposal. Also, if they get Prized, you'll always have at least two copies. 

4 Unown

Unown is already pretty necessary as a four-of, but it's even better now that Gallade is a part of the deck. Also, I can't stress enough how incredible it is to start an Unown. If it gets Knocked Out, your opponent can only take one Prize, and if not, it only has one Retreat Cost. The only starter that's better is Entei. 

1 Entei

Entei is kind of like Mind Jack Absol, except way better against one of Vespiquen's harder matchups, Metal. Entei is also a wonderful attacker for the mirror, can hit M Rayquaza for a bunch of damage, and is a sort of tank and a great starter for this deck. I wouldn't mind more than one if I could fit it, but it's not that easy to do so with Gallade in the deck too. 

1-1 Ariados 

Ariados is for safe measures against Fighting decks. Mienshao is troublesome, and Ariados gets through Focus Sash with Poison. Also, Poison is a good way for your non-Vespiquen attackers to hit the extra 10 damage they need to KO certain Pokémon, for example, Entei, when your opponent has four Pokémon on the Bench is hitting for 100, and with Poison is hitting an OHKO on Shaymin-EX. Jirachi's damage really adds up with Poison, too. Granted, it'll get KO'd from it, but the point is to deal a good 60 damage with it, take off a couple Special Energy, and then Retreat to another attacker. Ariados is definitely a great card for this deck, but can be switched out for other guys like more Entei or more Eevees.

3 Professor Sycamore

Professor Sycamore is a card I could see being played at a one, two, three, or four in this deck. No matter how many you have, it's all the same. Unless it's Prized. Then you have some trouble on your hands. But I prefer three because it gives you room while not condemning you to an inconsistent Supporter count. Alternatively, if you want to drop one for a Parallel City or another tech, I wouldn't blame you.

1 Judge

No Birch and no Shauna is kinda ballsy in a deck like this, but honestly, who needs 'em? You'll be better off Judging your opponent to four, hitting one of your four Shaymin-EX, drawing three more cards off of it, and blowing up without having to Sycamore away multiple important cards. Plus, it's hard to find time for this card. You're usually going to Maxie in the first two turns of the game, so cards like this are going to be played maybe once a game, if that. 

1 Blacksmith

This guy is important against that pesky Giratina-EX. Blacksmith has been the only clear-cut counter to Giratina for this deck, and remains the only solid counter. Also, he sets Entei up, so they go hand-in-hand in this deck. A Fire Energy-accelerating card in a Grass deck. Go figure.

1 Hex Maniac

Hex Maniac is for those first-turn Battle Compressor decks. I've gone over this in the past, and I'll mention it again. If you can blow up on your first turn and play Hex as your Supporter, you've probably already won the game. Hex also comes in handy for Magnezone. You shut off its Ability and take off Raikou's built-in Hard Charm. Another use that might be seen fairly often is using Jirachi against Tyrantrum-EX to take off a Special Energy and being untouchable because you Hex off Tyrantrum's Despotic Fang while shutting down Bronzong's Metal Links, all in one shot. Pretty good card, and definitely a necessity in this deck.

1 AZ

AZ is a sweet guy. He has a Floette as a Pokémon, for Arceus' sake. He also picks up  your Pokémon when they're stuck Active after your opponent Lysandres them, and denies your opponent late-game KOs on Shaymin-EX. AZ is one of the spookiest cards of this format, and I'm loving him in every single deck I play. 

1 Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick

Maxie is obviously necessary with Gallade. Ralts plus Rare Candy is too slow and susceptible to Item-lock, so that's out of the question for now, but with Maxie you can hit 130 first turn if you're lucky enough, which is a big deal. If you prize Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick, you have Town Map to fish it out, so it's not the most horrible thing, but it's still kind of worrisome. 

1 Lysandre

Lysandre is necessary in the deck as a one-of but we don't have room for two because most of these other counts are the bare minimum already and it's tough deciding which cards are more important. But with Vespiquen OHKOing everything in the format, Lysandre isn't on the top of our list.

4 VS Seeker

This needs even less explaining than the 4-4 Vespiquen line! This, four Ultra Ball, and four Battle Compressor are the twelve cards that are absolutely necessary in the deck. 

1 Muscle Band

This card and Level Ball are interchangeable. You can do one Band, two Balls, or one Ball, two Bands. Depends on how many Megas are in your area.

2 Level Ball

Level Ball is really good for grabbing your Vespiquen when you can't discard two cards from your hand, and for grabbing Unown, which is pretty important with Premoniton. I love this card at a two-of, but one is fine too. 

1 Super Rod

This card is alright, and Sacred Ash is alright, but I'm not sure if I'd run Ash over this because sometimes you just can't afford to shuffle in five Pokémon, but you still need to put a couple cards back into your deck for some reason. The best example of this is if you have two Fires in your discard and a Combee on the Bench ready to attack for 210, which is the number you need to hit. You have exactly 20 Pokémon in the discard, four of them being Vespiquen. You Super Rod in the Vespiquen that you need along with two Fires, and instead of five Pokémon entering the deck, causing you to whiff the KO and forcing you to need to draw into Ultra Balls and Compressors, you're hitting the KO on the nose and allowing yourself a fourth Vespiquen to finish out the game.

Also, Super Rod gives you a fifth Vespiquen. Remember the whole "eight attackers" thing? This is another card that allows you an extra attacker.

1 Town Map

Town Map is to grab your prized one-ofs. Not that important, but if you're like me and you're prone to never drawing into the Prize you were hoping for, this card works wonders. 

No need to go over the Energy; those are as standard as it comes. But this'll make sure that all of my counts and my thought processes going into the counts are explained, which is the important thing. 

This deck is nuts and a very strong contender for Standard, but mostly when paired with Gallade and Jirachi, and that's about it. Vespiquen isn't the only deck that prospers from these techs, though, so let's look at our second teched-out list, Seismitoad/Crobat.

Bats and Toad together are always really good, but in Standard, with the amount of Night March, Mienshao, and other obnoxious decks with low-HP attackers, they can truly shine. I just went over this deck two articles ago, so I won't spend too much time on it. I'll just explain some of the techs. 

1 Jirachi

The Jirachi is meant for Seismitoad/Giratina. If you can't even attach Energy to your Seismitoad-EX, you're not going to be able to win. Jirachi paired with Bats also has a huge damage output, which makes it quite strong against Vespiquen and Night March. I'm loving this card in this list and you should be, too!

1 Brigette

Brigette grabs three Zubats in one shot, and late game, it'll pull out another Seismitoad or one of your baby techs, Jirachi or Dedenne. Great card, like Pokémon Collector but somehow even better. 

1 Assault Vest

Assault Vest was explained above, but to put it into a different perspective, you can attach it to Crobat against Fighting decks, and take literally 0-20 damage per hit. This card is pretty good for a multitude of reasons, and it would be nice running even more than one. It could be interesting running two of these and two Muscle Bands instead of a 1/3 split.

1 Parallel City

Parallel City is mostly to stop M Rayquaza-EX from completely smashing you. Granted, it brings your damage output down by 20, but it's worth it if you're preventing a KO. Rayquaza is a horrid matchup anyway, but if you can hit Shaymin with Bats enough, you'll pull out the win. 

That's about it for Seismitoad/Crobat. You can't really get much better than that, though. This list is really interesting and actually pretty fun for a Toad deck! I've been loving it and I'm sure you all will, too. This list can also transfer to Expanded, but obviously the Ghetsis list I posted in the past is the better of the two. Also, another idea is using Giovanni in this deck to hit extra damage, because Assault Vest limits your potential and Giovanni makes up for that.


So that's everything I have for you guys this time around! If you guys are as hyped about these three techs as I am let me know, and if you have any techs that you're loving, go ahead and talk about it in the comments! And keep in mind that there are plenty of other options for these techs I've mentioned, some of which still have yet to be discovered. So we'll see exactly how the format grows from here, but as of right now we've established who's the boss. 

Make sure to give me a [+1] if you like this article, and also make sure to check out my Youtube channel, The Tuff Puff! Until next time!

- Daniel Altavilla

[+9] okko


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