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Chris Fulop

London Calling - How the EUIC has Changed Standard

The 2017 European International Championships brought a major shift to the metagame. See what new decks have emerged as threats!

11/27/2017 by Chris Fulop

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Hello again, everyone!

The European International Championships in London are in the book, and the metagame has truly been shaken up quite a bit compared to the status quo we had settled into prior to the event!

We saw a few of the usual suspects perform well at the event. (I am not just talking about Masters champion, Tord Reklev, who continues to be an absolute monster at major events, making a very real case for best player in the game at the moment.) The metagame was defined by the presence of Gardevoir-GX, a deck that was isolated as being the Standard format's best deck by a majority of players. This identification really skewed the rest of the deck choices in the field, as decks really soft to the archetype got abandoned, and decks aiming to prey on the Gardevoir showed up in great numbers. Gardevoir saw more play than any other deck and unsurprisingly had the greatest number of copies to make it into the 2nd day of the event, even if only one copy converted this into a top 8 (top 4) appearance.

Beyond Gardevoir, we saw a Volcanion deck make top 8, as well as a Greninja deck. While these decks shift numbers around depending on what they expect to play against, the decks haven't changed a substantial amount in the past few months, and I don't really plan to cover them in great detail in this article. Volcanion felt like a good deck in that it wound up being well positioned against a lot of the anti-Gardevoir decks that showed up. Greninja was a decent call as well, eventually meeting an unsurprising end at the hands of Tord's Golisopod's type advantage.

The two biggest breakout decks at the event were Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX (which won the event and looked very impressive in doing so) and various Metal Toolbox decks. The metal decks preyed upon Gardevoir's weakness, as well as being a bit of an unknown quantity, as a lot of the cards to see play were a bit off of the radar. I wasn't super impressed by these decks in a vacuum, but they wound up being a pretty good choice for the event with such a high presence of Gardevoir decks. I actually don't believe that matchup is even that favorable for the Metal decks, which is a testament to how strong Gardevoir-GX is. Confession: I'll own up to feeling underwhelmed by Gardevoir when I first read it, and I was clearly incorrect.

Another deck that put up pretty good results was Buzzwole-GX. I am actually really surprised this deck did as well as it did, since the game seemingly power creeped right past Landorus-EX (a card that parallels Buzzwole fairly accurately) years ago. On top of that, decks had plenty of copies of Max Potion and Acerola, which mitigate the strength of spread damage. I love the idea of such an aggressive deck and its ability to put up multiple strong finishes in a field fairly hostile to it is a really good sign for the card.

A card that did not perform well for the weekend was Garbodor! It didn't see nearly the numbers it had been seeing, and it also didn't really see the widespread success it was used to. This is a major talking point, because with both Garbodor seeing less play, it removes a pair of restrictive forces on deck selection. Garbotoxin really hurt the viability of certain decks and so did Trashalanche. With both being reduced in presence, it is worth looking back to decks that may have been pushed out of the metagame by their larger presence.

Finally, I do want to talk about a deck that I absolutely love from the event, which is Heatmor/Raichu. This lock/mill deck managed a top 16 placement, which is really impressive for such a quirky deck! I don't actually know how great it is, but it looks like an absolute blast and is doing something so far away from what every other deck in the format does that I had to write about it.

The first deck to review is Gardevoir-GX, as it is really the most important deck in the format. There were two real camps when it came to building Gardevoir decks. One build embraced a thin line of Sylveon-GX. The other embraced a full set of four Max Potion and aimed to play an extremely defensive game plan. This is the build I like more and can be traced back to the testing of Seena Ghaziaskar before getting picked up on a much wider scale. That is the list I'll be using for discussion.

This deck is pretty streamlined and straightforward. I actually made one change from Seena's list after the results from London. I trimmed the third Field Blower in favor of a second Gallade. While Field Blower is a versatile card, it's primary function is to strip Tools off Garbodor to remove Garbotoxin. With Garbodor taking a huge hit coming out of the tournament, I am fine going down to two Field Blower. Gallade is a really valuable attacker against Metal decks, allowing you to actually have a primary attacker which isn't weak to Metal and also one that can leverage a better prize exchange by only giving up a lone prize. Seena has stubbornly argued the second Gallade isn't needed, but I think it is very much worthwhile going forward. A lot of lists in London played two already, likely in response to catching wind of the popularity of the new Metal cards printed and Zoroark-GX.

The 4-3-3/2 Gardevoir/Gallade line is thick to guarantee the cards all come out reliably. I normally don't feel you need three of a Stage 1 Pokemon when playing four Rare Candy, but there are various devolving effects in the format which make evolving the hard way worthwhile. Bench-damaging attacks also are popular, so just reliably getting past that vulnerable Basic Pokemon is important.

The Pokemon count is not fancy. It runs three Tapu Lele for consistency and attacking options and, beyond that, just a lone Oranguru and Alolan Vulpix. Vulpix is great alongside Brigette, so you can fill your bench and start grabbing Pokemon to evolve from there. Since the deck takes a slower, more defensive gameplan in a lot of matchups, you don't mind giving up a turn or two to assure a strong setup. Oranguru vs. Octillery is an interesting debate, especially since Octillery gains a lot of value over the span of a very long game. Oranguru is a bit more streamlined and eats up less deck space, but it also ends up being a pretty decent non-EX attacker. Octillery seems pretty easy to get out with the Vulpix inclusion, so I do see this as a point of contention.

Trainer-wise, most of the numbers for this archetype are pretty locked in stone. This list opts for one Brigette opposed to two. Since this list cares less about pressing an early advantage, missing a turn one Brigette isn't as impactful. More concerning is playing only two Choice Band. I understand that the deck isn't as aggressive, but I do think this card is etremely strong, and I don't like deviating from the standard three count. That being said, no, I do not know what I would cut for a third, so I guess I understand the thinner count out of necessity.

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Two Super Rod felt really awkward at first, but the purpose is because you end up using so many Max Potion that you actually end up discarding a lot of Energy over the span of a game. Since the deck is built to abuse Gardevoir's GX attack, you end up discarding a lot of Supporters and Items, namely Max Potion, so the pair of Super Rod allow you to not worry about having to burn any of those spots on Energy as well. Some builds run only seven Fairy Energy, and the eighth copy here is also with the Max Potion gameplan in mind.

With this build, you have an advantage in the mirror match and are pretty well equipped to be able to beat any deck that isn't able to score a OHKO on you. With four Max Potion (or eight, considering Twilight GX), you end up being able to outgrind even other Max Potion/Acerola decks, especially since you do eventually threaten to hit a critical mass of energy for a OHKO as the game progresses.

Prior to London, there were not a lot of decks that are able to OHKO a Gardevoir-GX, and most of the decks that can are forced to use a lot of energy to do so, leading to an easy OHKO from Gardevoir. The mirror match often comes down to attacking with low energy counts into each other to avoid walking into the OHKO from the other player, which is why Max Potion ends up being such a great mirror breaker.

One thing I do want to discuss is how overlooked Gardevoir's GX attack has been, and why I think it makes sense for players to not catch on to how powerful it actually is. This is the type of effect that is often low impact; games don't often end up that grindy, and most games do not ever hit a point where that extra glut of resources ends up mattering. On top of this, most games end up a tight prize race, and giving up a turn of pressure is not appealing. Even a card like Decidueye-GX, which has a similar style GX attack, had primarily been used alongside Vileplume, which applied a lot of disruption. These kind of long-game, grindy effects have very rarely been effective outside of disruptive/lock decks, and Gardevoir certainly doesn't play like that on the surface. In fact, play a build of Gardevoir without a high Max Potion count, and the GX attack becomes bad again. Gardevoir, on paper, reads like the type of card that wants a deck build that doesn't benefit from its GX attack much at all. It makes sense that its value as a tankier Pokemon wasn't really understood until players explored how to get an edge in the mirror match.

I still feel like this deck is strong going forward. You are an underdog against the Metal decks, but the matchup is certainly winnable. Beyond that, the Metal decks lose ground as players  shift from Gardevoir and into decks that have a neutral or better matchup. I don't think these Metal box decks are that powerful, and when their prey deck wanes in metagame percentage, they lose a lot. I actually feel like London's metagame was about as hostile to Gardevoir as you will see, and it will only get more favorable as the metagame widens and players can no longer gun for a lone best deck as aggressively.

Next up is Zak Krekeler's Metal Toolbox list. I was looking through various placing lists, and decided to cover Zak's, since he finished as runner-up in the event.

The overarching concept of this deck is to use Silvally-GX's Turbo Drive attack and Registeel's Turbo Arm to help bring Energy back into play. Alongside these attacks, Zak ran four Max Elixir. This slower, grindy way of putting and keeping Energy in play is aided by Silvally's Gyro Unit Ability, which gives all of your Basic Pokemon free retreat. With most of the Pokemon in the deck having pretty hefty retreat costs, it ends up doing a lot of work. As a result, you don't even have to run any sort of Switching effect outside of Acerola/Guzma.

However, I have been a bit critical of the deck's raw power: The damage output as a whole isn't that strong, capping at 130 for a hefty four energy with Celesteela GX. The copy of Dhelmise does add 10 to all potential damage calculations from Metal Pokemon, of course. Silvally's GX attack is an exception, as it offers a huge burst of damage that should allow one easy OHKO a game. Decks are just not really built to play with a thin bench.

One thing I do love with the deck is how it is able to diversify it's Weaknesses. Silvally is weak to Fighting. Registeel, Genesect-EX, and Kartana-GX are weak to Fire, and Celesteela is weak to Lightning.

Genesect-EX actually is a real all-star in this deck. Not only is it able to breach the damage output cap, its Ability comes into play a bit too. It lets you recycle your Choice Band, which is nice since you can retreat between attackers so freely.

Fighting Memory is great, by the way. It gives Silvally the ability to OHKO an opposing Silvally or a Zoroark-GX. I saw some builds with Psychic Memory, but I don't think it is worthwhile or necessary.

Rounding out the Pokemon, we have three Tapu Lele-GX and Oranguru. These are more than just consistency cards, since both end up actually being pretty reasonable attackers in this deck.

The deck runs 10 Metal Energy for two reasons. First, you want to hit Max Elixir. Beyond this, you also want to be able to see and discard multiple copies of them aggressively to use with Turbo Drive and Turbo Arm early. The four copies of DCE are obviously necessary as Silvally and Celesteela both use them really well.

You see a pretty standard assortment of Items. The draw power in this format is pretty homogenized, which I am a bit disappointed in. Decks run four Professor Sycamore, four N, one Brigette, four Ultra Ball, three Tapu Lele-GX and either an Oranguru or Octillery. These numbers can fluctuate slightly, but there aren't really many viable alternative engines. (This is a bit of foreshadowing as the next deck I'll be talking about is Zoroark/Golisopod.)

Zak ran a pair of Acerola to manipulate his bench, as well as deny prizes and loop attackers. Acerola has proven to be one of the best cards in the format. Since most decks are not really built to pull off reliable OHKOs at the moment, you wind up with a lot of grindy Acerola/Max Potion games. Rounding out the Trainers are a Rescue Stretcher and a pair of Field Blower. Stretcher is nice since the deck runs a lot of assorted one-of attackers, so being able to recycle them offers a lot of utility.

I'll be interested to see how well positioned this deck stays going forward. I've also seen so many various Metal decks, some using Zoroark, some with Scizor EX, that I'm equally curious to see what approach ends up being embraced as the best build of the fairly diverse archetype.

Next up, we have Tord Reklev's Zoroark/Golisopod deck.

Tord's deck is the best example of a deck that realized just how powerful Zoroark-GX is. (While it didn't break into the top 8, there were also Decidueye/Zoroark decks that did decently at the event as well, as well as the aforementioned Metal decks that ran a line of it.)

Zoroark is similar to Tapu Lele-GX in that it offers both a powerful attack and a very useful boost in consistency. Tord relies so heavily on Zoroark's draw that it impacts his entire engine. He is only running two Professor Sycamore. This card gets a lot worse if you had previously been stockpiling a huge hand off of Zoroark. With Zoroark's extra draw power, he is able to run a full set of Puzzle of Time to recycle resources.

By using a 4-4 Zoroark-GX line as the deck's primary source of mid- and late-game card advantage, it frees the deck up to be able to use Acerola and Guzma. Both of these cards are super important for Golisopod GX, although do not let that fool you about the deck. Tord has already acknowledged this is more of a Zoroark deck than a Golisopod deck. Zoroark is the deck's primary attacker as well as it's engine.

Both Zoroark and Golisopod have hefty HP numbers and attack costs requiring one energy attachment, so they are easily looped with Acerola. The deck ends up just trying to outgrind an opponent. While this seems like a common gameplan, the choice to play Puzzle of Time, plus the huge edge in draw power due to Zoroark gives the deck an edge at it.

I'll also be honest: I'm not going to say that I have a full grasp over a few of Tord's tech choices. Mr. Mime stops Tapu Koko spread which seems like a real issue since you are encouraged to have a full bench for Zoroark and it adds up to the point were you can't really Acerola around all of the damage and will find yourself eventually put into OHKO range from a lot of decks. Buzzwole is another deck that it helps against, as Zoroark is weak to it, and it pressures the bench aggressively. Tapu Koko offers some spread damage and also free retreat which is nice with Guzma and Acerola. Mewtwo I am less certain of, but it does have type advantage against Buzzwole and can rock one pretty hard if it gets powered up. The last two cards are Enhanced Hammer. I've never been huge on this card outside of dedicated disruption decks, and as a result its hard for me to really peg what matchups they excel in on the fly without having played with the deck a ton. I imagine they are for any of the grindier matchups, where you can strip DCE away before they can Acerola. With four Puzzle you can get rid of four DCE or Rainbow for a deck like Golisopod Garbodor, which can just prevent them from attacking again. It also prevents a deck like Gardevoir from amassing a huge pile of DCE for OHKOs. With the Puzzles, and the near excessive draw from Zoroark-GX, I like the cards quite a bit since they are live vs. pretty much every deck.

Zoroark from BREAKThrough makes a one-of appearance, but it does a decent amount of work. Its Ability works for switching a bit, although without Float Stone, it doesn't do the greatest job of this; however, it also is a pretty nice attacker. With decks really filling up their benches, it isn't unlikely for Zoroark to be able to hit for 160 damage; with Choice Band that is 190, and that means with just one shot of Tapu Koko spread, you are hitting the 210 mark and sweeping a lot of the popular GX Pokemon. It isn't that hard to catch an unsuspecting opponent off guard with an out of no where OHKO.

One thing I think is interesting is Tord's decision to go extra deep on his copies of Brigette. In general, with Tapu Lele and Ultra Ball, Brigette is pretty reliable to hit in the first place. In this case, this deck benefits probably more than any deck I've ever seen from seeing that turn-one Brigette, and so Tord is just running three. This makes sense, since he doesn't want Professor Sycamore forcing him to discard resources to set up. Later in the game, extra Brigette fuels Zoroark's Trade Ability.

Since the deck's engine is so based around Zoroark, you have to play four Field Blower, because Garbodor is an absolute nightmare for the deck. The other deck which shuts off Abilities, Greninja, is kept in check by how strong Golisopod is against it. Also, over the course of a slow game, just being able to take out Float Stones and Choice Bands gives Field Blower some strength. Mallow is also just incredible with Zoroark. You can stack the top two cards of your deck and draw them with a Zoroark. Mallow is also great with Puzzle of Time, as it lets you pair them easily. One of the reasons I hate Enhanced Hammer in a lot of decks is because they are hard to obtain at the right time, but Mallow mitigates that a lot. I actually think I want a second copy of the Supporter in the deck because of how strong it is.

I love this deck, and think it was by far the most innovative deck from the tournament. I feel like it is showcasing just how far you can push Zoroark as a card in the format, and Tord was clearly rewarded for being at the cutting edge of deck design. I wouldn't be surprised to see deck design change quite a bit after seeing what this deck has opened up. I'm not convinced Golisopod is the best partner for Zoroark, but I do know I love the shell that has been set up here.

Buzzwole is a card I wrote off as too underpowered, but it turns out it is actually really powerful. While Landorus had failed to see much play in the tail end of it's legality, and it still seems minimal play in Expanded, Standard is now a whole different entity. Evolution decks are far more popular, and it is far easier to leverage bench damage.

The basic idea of this deck is now difficult to grasp. You use either Buzzwole-GX or Zygarde-EX as a fast, low-energy-cost attacker to put pressure on an opponent very early. With Max Elixir in the deck  you are almost always threatening to transition into either of these Pokemon's heavier attacks. With the quick damage applied early on, this almost always translates into a KO.

This deck is built to take advantage of both Guzma (and alongside this Lycanroc-GX) to be able to gust around Pokemon to be able to spread damage in a way that best sets up attacks. With Lycanroc, you can actually bring up a new Pokemon and hit an N in the same turn, potentially stranding something. I love the flexibility in terms of plays this gives the deck.

The other big gimmick the deck has is in its four Max Potion. Your primary attackers all have 190 HP which is a really difficult OHKO for most decks. Even if your opponent is healing their Pokemon as well, you end up netting damage across their field because you get to pressure multiple Pokemon at once. Most Max Potion wars favor you.

While Buzzwole only deals 30 base damage, with Strong Energy, Choice Band, and even Regirock-EX bolstering it, it can deal quite a bit of damage. One thing I really love about this deck is how great Brooklet Hill is. Not only does it help with the deck's consistency in terms of getting out it's Fighting-type attackers, but it makes playing Octillery even easier.

With Octillery, one card I am surprised by the absence of is any amount of Acerola. I understand that the deck is playing four Max Potion, but Acerola seems very strong since you do want to be able to recycle your Strong Energy. This isn't a deck that needs eight Max Potion/Acerola, but I could see it liking six. It also lets you reset a Lycanroc-GX for another gust if need be. With Lycanroc providing a gust and Octillery supplying draw power, you can really afford to play a utility Supporter like Acerola, especially since it has so much synergy with the deck.

 

Alright, now THIS is a spicy brew. So the basic idea is that you lock your opponent indefinitely with Paralysis from Raichu's Ability. You use Devolution Spray or Acerola to reset Raichu every turn. Puzzle of Time and Heatmor allow you to recur these cards over and over again while the opponent is paralyzed. While this is happening, you eventually deck them with Team Rocket's Handiwork.

Now, there are obviously a lot of things that can go wrong here. First, you hate Guzma and Acerola. They break up status conditions, and give the opponent openings for KOs. There was a point in time where most decks just ran three Guzma. With that, seeing how most of this deck is non-EX Pokemon, it isn't that difficult to run the opponent out of ways to break out of Paralysis. Unfortunately now four Guzma is common, and a lot of decks run a bunch of Acerola too. They really only need to break lock six times to win, and a lot of decks have the tools to do this. What you need to do is start milling some of these cards with Team Rocket's Handiwork. You can also stick an N mid to late game and hope to buy some turns to get you some time to get your Handiwork on.

A cute card for the deck is also Xurkitree-GX, which has a great GX attack for only a Lightning Energy which takes a card from your opponent's hand and puts it face down as a prize. This forces an opponent to need to take seven prize cards, which is HUGE. On top of this, you can often catch a Guzma or an Acerola from an opponent's hand, which pulls double duty. Xurkitree's Ability also prevents damage done to it by Pokemon with Special Energy cards attached, which is not negligible! Against a lot of decks, its 180 HP is going to be really difficult to OHKO without the use of Special Energy cards, and this means Acerola is no longer an answer to Paralysis while it is active.

Another issue the deck has is that it has to flip with Heatmor to recover cards, as otherwise you do eventually run out of Raichu uses. First, the deck has so many Raichu options: four Devolution Spray, four Puzzles, two Acerola, and a 4-4 Raichu line, so you can afford a few whiffed flips. More importantly, you run a pair of Victini, whose Ability lets you re-flip when you botch a Heatmor attack.

Another issue the deck faces is a weakness to Ability lock. Obviously, if you can't use Raichu, you have very little game plan. Luckily, you have four Field Blower for Garbotoxin. Heatmor and Puzzle of Time give you far more copies than that. Greninja's Shadow Stitching is a much scarier issue, as you can't really stop it. On top of that, Greninja BREAK's Ability still lets you place damage counters even if it is Paralyzed. You can break up a Shadow Stitching chain with Pikachu flipping for Paralysis though, which is a bit of a sketchy answer, but its the best you've got.

Durant gets added to the deck too as a way to mill the opponent faster. Rainbow Energy makes its second attack possible, and this makes me wonder why this deck can't run a Mew from Fates Collide. Being able to copy Heatmor's attack and then when it is not needed, mill copying Durant seems really useful. Jirachi seems like a totally unnecessary inclusion, honestly. I get the idea that it can protect itself for a turn which is great, but it doesn't stop Guzma, and thats the biggest issue the deck faces. You don't really do much else to threaten the opponent's energy supply. I would legitimately like to see some Hammers in here, just so that you can loop them with Heatmor and put real pressure down if your opponent is caught without any way to break paralysis midgame. It also forces the opponent to burn more resources to play Energy, which accelerates their milling.

The deck's win conditions are Team Rocket's Handiwork and Durant, and those are both one-ofs. The deck can't actually take prize cards, but you do have Gladion as a means to take cards from your prizes. I'm honestly not sure if that is better than just biting the bullet and playing a second Handiwork, but I guess it does help with some of the other thin counts. It isn't unreasonable to prize two copies of a card, and losing Victini or Rainbow Energy is a major issue. Gladion being a wildcard is strong here.

The card I honestly just do not understand is the Plumeria. It feels super redundant, and just not worth the card spot. The deck could benefit from a lot of other options. Also, one thing worth looking at is the inclusion of only one Tapu Lele-GX. I kind of hate that, since it makes the deck much less consistent, but it is pretty necessary as you don't event want to use THAT copy as it ends up being two prizes to a Guzma at some point to almost any deck.

I'll be honest, I love this archetype, but I have major reservations about the particular build and can't believe it is optimized yet. This is a hard deck to build though, and it did manage to make it into the top 16 at London, so there is definitely something here. It looks like an absolute blast to play and a nightmare to play against. It is completely different than anything else in the format, so if you are feeling at all bored, give it a spin!

Finally, I wanted to go over a deck I think is extremely good for Expanded!

You thought I could go this many months with a Mega Rayquaza list? Ha! Anyways, the addition of Zoroark-GX has given the deck a whole new lease on life! Mega Rayquaza suffered from a few issues in Expanded, and this list answers most of them.

The biggest issue Mega Rayquaza faces is Sudowoodo. Not only does Sudowoodo cripple Mega Rayquaza's damage output, but the engine of the deck relies on benching Pokemon to use their Abilities for draw. Even in Expanded, the deck relies on Colress as its other main source of draw, and that gets hurt by Sudowoodo too. I feel like playing Sudowoodo was a bad decision in Expanded. Mega Rayquaza isn't that popular, and the card wassn't good vs. much else. With Zoroark-GX being as good as it is, and how much better it is in Expanded due to Sky Field, Sudowoodo feels like it should make it into even more decks now, and justifiably so.

So why would I then propose a deck which on paper looks crippled by the card? The deck actually excels against it.

I don't need to explain why Zoroark is good in the deck. It plays off the same axis as Mega Rayquaza, wanting a full bench abusing Sky Field. 180 damage for a DCE is an insane rate. There will be plenty of matchups where it is your primary attacker. It offers a lot of draw power that stays in play too. The biggest benefit of this is that it frees up your Supporter play for the turn.

This of course leads to Hex Maniac. Hex Maniac shuts off Sudowoodo and a whole lot of other important cards in a lot of decks. Normally, Rayquaza was a very resource-demanding deck. Rebuilding Rayquaza was asking a lot, and disruption was your worst enemy. With this deck aiming to get multiple Zoroark in play, not only do you always have access to draw, but you also have a very low maintenance attacker which isn't much worse than Rayquaza. You can now reliably Hex chain. Zoroark helps perpetuate the Hex spam, while also keeping you setting up.

Normally a Hex can break a Sudowoodo for a turn, but you still end up struggling to reliably refill your bench. Exeggcute solves this. Not only does Exeggcute give you endless Zoroark-GX fuel, it also makes it super easy to refill your bench after a Hex Maniac. Unlike using cards like Dragonite-EX or Hoopa-EX to produce multiple benchwarmers, you can actually use Exeggcute's Ability with a max bench, putting them in your hand, and then Hex and bench them.

Neither Sudowoodo or Parallel City should be keeping you locked down very long anymore. You also end up being very resistant to N now.

Another issue that Rayquaza sometimes ran into was having issues against Item Lock, especially going second. This is now much less of an issue. Item Lock was a problem for a number of reasons. First, it could just leave you with dead hands, but often it would prevent you from using Shaymin's Set Up because your hand got too bloated. Zoroark offers draw that works even with a clogged hand. Not only does Zoroark give you reliable draw that options like Shaymin and even Octillery couldn't do, but Zorua has an Ascension attack. You can now bench a Zorua and immediately convert it into a 210 HP Stage 1 Pokemon. You can't get your Zorua Guzma'd and KOed. You don't have to worry about piecing the two Pokemon together because you can't use Ultra Ball. You see a Zorua and a Darkness Energy and you end up with a Zoroark. This is huge against both Seismitoad and Trevenant, as well as any Vileplume decks (if they exist without Forest anymore). I mentioned that Zoroark would be a good attacker against Seismitoad earlier, but its even better against Trevenant due to type advantage.

Another slight issue the deck had was Necrozma-GX, but that card is a bit of a joke against Zoroark-GX threatening 180 damage. While Giratina-EX isn't exactly a thing anymore, Zoroark does also give the deck means to beat anti-EX/Mega cards, which is not to be overlooked.

I'll address the one matchup that it does not solve: Night March. You don't really have much of an answer for a deck that can OHKO all of your EX Pokemon for a DCE that has that much consistency. You can hope to steal games with Hex disruption. You could consider Ghetsis to stop their starts. You can try Karen and Seismitoad-EX. I'm just not convinced any of this actually gives you a competitive matchup anyways, and space is extremely tight in the deck. I believe Night March is a very good deck, but a very good deck in a fairly wide-open format, and one that does not carry with it a particular high percentage of the field. I do feel like it is played less than it should be for how good it is, but the number of copies you can expect in a field makes it a matchup you can afford to write off as a loss. Previously, I could have maybe argued Karen and Quaking Punch gave you a shot in the matchup, but it seems as if most builds today are running Zoroark-GX, which means they can deal with that gameplan very easily.

In addition, playing a 3-3 line of Zoroark in a deck that was already a bit cramped on space isn't easy, especially when it comes with a pile of Eggs. There are a lot of cards I would love to add to the deck, and this is a rough list of the deck still. Here are some cards that are options.

Karen/Rescue Stretcher/Dragonite-EX: Part of me is paranoid the build needs recovery cards, and it seems insane to consider a Rayquaza build without them, but I honestly am not sure any are needed. You now have Zoroark-GX as a second attacker, and Exeggcutes handle refilling the bench. You don't even need to recover your draw Pokemon because Zoroark stays in play providing so much of it.

Fourth Zorua/fourth Darkness Energy: You are almost always going to try and Ultra Ball for a Hoopa-EX on the first turn, and you want as many Zorua as possible to draw into naturally. Also optimizing the chance of seeing one early against Item Lock is big.The fourth Darkness also is to help play Ascension early on, but the desire to attack with Zorua makes a fourth copy appealing.

Third Battle Compressor: This was the 61st card. I want more, but it just had to go. Maybe something else just has to be cut.

Third Switching Card: Almost every Pokemon is a poor opener, so being able to switch around is ideal, especially since a decent number of turn ones should end in Ascension. You have two Float Stone and Guzma, plus Computer Search (Hoopa into Jirachi-EX plus Shaymin-EX can net you a Mallow for a Float Stone pretty reliably too), so I think two is fine.

Third Hex Maniac: I just want to reliably be able to spam this card, and while two is great, I'd feel even better with a third. This build isn't trying to attack with a Mega Rayquaza on the first turn, which often means you can get by without needing a Supporter on the first turn, since you want to Ascension or manually Mega Evolve, leaving your second turn as your much easier to accomplish "go off" turn.

Zoroark: I wouldn't mind a Zoroark from BREAKThrough, it works with Float Stone well, and is actually a great attacker against other Zoroark decks and in Rayquaza mirrors. I'd need a real indicator that those are matchups which will be popular, but if they are its a good gameplan.

Field Blower: I've left myself pretty soft to Garbodor Life Dew, but unless Garbodor is paired with Parallel City, I think Colress allows me to just power past it, unlike in Standard where the deck just didn't have the necessary draw power to reliably defend itself without Abilites. It also feels like a one-turn reprieve isn't exactly what I'm looking for. Xerosic is probably a much better option.

AZ: This card is so good, but I don't see the space and it may be a luxury. It is of course still on the radar.

Anyways, I am really excited about this deck, and part of me wanted to not talk about it until I got a chance to test it more, but I decided to just get it out there. I'm not confident that it's the right 60 cards, but I am pretty confident this is the starting point of an extremely good deck. Enjoy!

[+14] okko


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