Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

An Evolving Standard

Chris reviews five decks which have recently gained popularity!

10/18/2017 by Chris Fulop

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Hello again everyone!

I have a lot to discuss today! I'll start with an aside on Brigette. I've covered a lot of the different archetypes that have been the most popular lately, so I wanted to go over some more "rogue" decks that I've seen pop up recently: Crabominable, Magnezone/Pikachu EX, and Decidueye Ninetales. Additionally, I revisit a pair of archetypes that I haven't discussed in a while: Metagross GX and a very streamlined Ho-oh/Kaiwe-less Volcanion list, similar to the one Igor Costa recently won a Regionals with.


I would like to address a sweeping change I have recently noticed many players embracing. Until very recently, decks have played a single copy of the card Brigette because you really only need to play it once, typically on the first turn. With 2+ copies of Tapu Lele-GX with its Wonder Tag ability, alongside a deck's mandatory (I don't want to hear about pre-rotation Greninja!) 4 Ultra Ball, it wasn't too difficult to be able to pull off a turn one Brigette with only one copy.

As lists have been refined, a lot of players have shifted over to running a 2nd copy in their setup decks. The card is just so important to hit on the first turn that you really want the second copy as extra insurance that you can pull it off. On the surface, a simple justification is that you do not want to prize your lone copy of the card ever and be unable to search for it at all. Depending on the deck, this can range from being a setback to fairly crippling. Without Trainers' Mail (Or other great Item based draw power) and Shaymin-EX, decks only have access to their one Supporter per turn and 4 potential Ultra Balls, so getting out multiple Pokemon on the first turn to evolve later is not that easy to pull off reliably without Brigette.

I've been saying this for a while now and I feel like this bump in Brigette counts supports this mentality, but decks have a limited amount of search and builds should account for this. I guess this can be a bit of a confusing statement as decks have a pretty reliable engine in Tapu Lele GX, Ultra Ball and Brigette (alongside fringe use of say, Mallow or Skyla), but this ends up being stressed when you rely on these cards constantly. I like running a bit higher counts of critical cards in this format so I don't have to expect to overextend on my search demands. The 2nd Brigette, even if you don't ever prize it, just further increases the odds of drawing it naturally and not needing to search for it. Using a Lele (Which ends up being very useful at all points in the game) eats up a bench space (Which is a real resource!), and lets not overlook the impact the depletion of resources from burning an Ultra Ball has either.

You can be greedy and stay with 1 Brigette (I have lists in this article where I felt that a lone copy is fine) but I think there is a real justification for the 2nd copy. The tie breaker for me a lot of times comes down to how important it is for a deck to have the card. I mean, yes, if you run the Brigette in a deck it is important for the deck, but some decks set up better than others without it. If there is a MASSIVE difference in performance between your deck with Brigette turn one and without it, I really support the 2nd copy. I've found the real impact to be felt when going 2nd. Going first offers enough of a set up advantage you can survive without a Brigette, but if you go 2nd with a set up deck and fail to Brigette, you are pretty far behind. You end up at the mercy of Guzma often, and without multiple copies of key basics, your entire game often gets picked apart. 

Crab Shack

I've taken to calling this deck "Crab Shack" (Long story, not worth telling, just embrace the name and spread it lovingly) in honor of its, well, crab content. I don't think I need to really sell anyone on the strength of the Garbodor line: The Guardians Rising Garbodor with Trashalanche has been a staple card in the format pretty much since release, and while it has weakened as engines have embraced fewer and fewer items post rotation, it remains a powerful threat, particularly as games progress. Garbotoxin is both generally disruptive, and also just a complete lock down against certain archetypes if they cannot find a Field Blower or a quick way to score a KO on the Garbodor. This list plays a pair of Rescue Stretcher, so it isn't easy that easy to keep the single copy out of play, either. 

As for Crabominable, it benefits from being a high HP Stage 1 Pokemon, packing an impressive 140 HP, with an attack that does 80 damage for only a Fighting Energy. It does less damage for each damage counter on Crabominable, but in an era where most attackers simply one hit things, I'm honestly just happy not getting my Pokemon OHKOed each turn, especially when it means my opponent has to spend two turns to KO a non-EX Pokemon. 80 damage, even for a low energy cost, doesn't seem like a lot, but by being a Fighting type crab, you get access to Strong Energy for an extra 20 damage. Toss on a Choice Band and you can reach 130 damage.

The "goal" of the deck is to be able to two hit most Pokemon while being two hit yourself, only your crabs are not EX/GX Pokemon and only give up one prize. As the game progresses, ideally you transition into one hit KOs with Trashalanche to break parity. The other big way you do this is with Acerola. This upgraded AZ lets you loop crabs that don't get one hit, furthering your prize denial game plan. To make this plan even more frustrating, I'm running a pair of Bodybuilder's Dumbbells. These Tools grant Stage 1 Pokemon (All of your Garbodors plus the crabs) an additional 40 HP. Taking a non-EX/GX Pokemon up to 180 HP provides a very tough to OHKO threat. Unfortunately, this defensive line of play loses a bit of strength due to the increased prevailance of Field Blower, although you can kind of overload opponents on the card since many decks that run multiple copies of it do so due to a weakness to Garbotoxin. If they burn copies regaining Abilities, sticking late game Dumbbells becomes more reliable.

Another strength of Acerola is actually in its ability to remove Tapu Lele GX off your bench. Since you play a very grindy game, a lot of opponents will bank on being able to take their last 2-4 prize cards off your GX Pokemon and if they attempt to do that, being able to remove those liabilities can swing a game around completely. Alongside that I have an Oranguru for the late game just to make sure the deck doesn't run out of gas due to Ns. I like the extra draw power too, as you end up using Guzma/Acerola mid to late game a lot, so just having a little bit of extra draw power to supplement that is strong.

This is absolutely a 2 Brigette deck. You really need to be able to fill your bench with crabs and Trubbish early on. You want multiple types of Garbodors out, as you often want a quick Garbotoxin, and at least the threat of a Trubbish to evolve into a Trashalancher. You also want to be able to loop Crabominables with Acerola so you at least want a 2nd Crawbrawler to evolve.

Energy-wise, the deck runs 4 Strong Energy and 4 Rainbow Energy. These provide 8 Fighting sources. Admittedly, Rainbow Energy is a bit...unfortunate...with Crabominable since it reduces the damage output down to 70 just by attachment, but you don't have room for a ton of Energy and need to be able to use Trashalanche too. The 4 Rainbow also act as your only Psychic sources. While that feels like a thin count, you really don't use Garbodor until later into the game so it ends up being fine. A pair of Special Charge lets you restock the deck, and late into a game this fills your deck with such a high energy density that finding copies shouldn't be difficult.

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