05/02/2018 by Chris Fulop
Hello again everyone!
With the release of Forbidden Light only a few weeks away ( Less if you want to count Pre-release tournaments! ) I want to spend some time looking at the new cards coming out to see which of them are going to be major players going forward, while also trying to identify which of the hyped cards are just that: Hype.
Before doing that, I do want to go over two different pre-Forbidden Light decks that I think are worth looking at. I understand that we are nearing what I like to refer to as a "lame duck" Standard format with so many new cards coming out, but there are plenty of players with events in the upcoming weeks. Beyond that, these lists do not become invalidated entirely with new cards: They simply may need tweaked to adjust for what is being added to the table.
The first deck is a new take on Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) . I am sure everyone is surprised to see me still testing Gardevoir, right? Still, I feel like this is an approach I haven't seen anyone touch on yet, so I want to talk about it. Without further ado:
The general consensus on Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) ...and honestly most Stage 2 decks, such as Vikabulu, Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41) and Magnezone (UPR; 83) ( in descending degrees of viability, in my eyes ) is that they are extremely powerful when they set up quickly, but are held back by how weak they can be when on the back foot and stumbling. Therefore, the most important issues to address when trying to make these decks better is speed and consistancy. I listed Vikabulu as the "best" of the Stage 2 decks ( I know someone is going to make a case for Greninja being the better deck, and while totally debatable, Vikabulu is also far more of a textbook "stage 2" deck than Greninja is anyways. ) and one of the reasons for this is that players have figured out how to make it a more reliable deck.
Gone are the Brigette (BKT; 134) s and Stage 1 Pokemon and conventional safety nets you would have seen in mosts lists in recent memory. In their place are Nest Balls, Skylas, and a total reliance on Rare Candy (DE; 100) . This engine DOES result in a higher turn 2 Stage 2 rate, and that is the most important thing we are looking for with these decks. Rather than going for a Brigette build, with a pile of Kirlia and even an Alolan Vulpix, I'm applying the new standard build for Vikabulu towards Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) .
Now, lets not kid ourselves. While I oversimplified both of these decks as "Stage 2 decks" because they face a number of the same hurdles, they do function quite differently beyond that. Vikabulu needs to keep one Vikabolt out and use it to dump energy onto Tapu Bulus over and over until the game ends. Gardevoir actually attacks with it's stage 2s, putting them in harm's way and therefore will actually need to get 2, 3...all 4...out over the course of a game.
Luckily, Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) has a MASSIVE amount of HP and is very hard to OHKO. Paired with a bunch of Max Potion ( I am going with the full playset this time, I'm not messing around! ) this 230 HP can be really tough to take down. The first Gardevoir will generally be able to hold the ground long enough to get additional copies out. Since this is the Max Potion build, it is also going to leverage Gardevoir's GX attack to recycle 10 cards back into your deck, and this helps with not facing down a true shortage of Rare Candies. On that note, the lack of any Professor Sycamore (XY; 122) in the deck, and a reliance on all shuffle based bulk draw cards means that Rare Candy (DE; 100) should more or less never get discarded. If the opponent wants to ignore Gardevoir and focus on the benched Ralts...more power to them. In the mean time, the active Gardevoir can snowball out of control while the opponent devotes Supporter use and energy attachments taking one prize KOs. The pair of Super Rod make it very difficult for an opponent to cut you off of Ralts.
Lets look at the Pokemon.
A 4-0-3/2 Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) line carries most of the weight of the deck. Kirlia is slow and clunky and with a large Skyla count, fairly unnecessary. It may feel weird cutting them since they feel alright when you are playing with them, but they also end up not feeling missed once you start playing with this build. Gallade is just too good against the Zoroark GX (SLG; 77) decks, and is also a one prize attacker which comes up. The card, especially as a 2-of, is so powerful against Hoopa and Xurkitree GX, even if these cards are already falling out of favor. On top of this, I am not running Octillery (BKT; 33) and instead am running Oranguru. Without Brigette (BKT; 134) , Octillery is a little awkward. Without Kirlia, Evosoda is "bad" because it would only get the Octillery. The card was great when it could double up as an out to Octillery or parts of the Gardevoir line, but here it would just be Octillery 3+. On top of this, the deck is a bit tight on space and a second Evolution line would be asking for a lot of sacrifice.
Because of this, Gallade does a lot of work towards smoothing out draws over the span of a longer game. Oranguru is primarily a counter to late game N, but it is not that difficult to pair it with Gallade's Ability to draw the best card or 2 in the top 5 cards of your deck. Sequencing gets interesting when you have shuffle effects and are looking for a specific card, too. You can Premonition to see if the card is in the top 5, and if not, then play an Ultra Ball or Super Rod to randomize the deck and then use Oranguru for a blind shot. This gets even cuter when you have both Gallade out to do this with. ( Admittedly due to the strain on Rare Candy (DE; 100) in this build, this should often only come up against decks where Gallade is a premium attacker. )
One final thing worth noting regarding Gallade is how it is often correct to end your pre-attack options with Premonition. This comes up less in this deck since Oranguru offers far less frequent bulk draw than Octillery (BKT; 33) does in builds with it, but is worth talking about. If I am not looking specifically for an immediate answer, and will be using Abyssal Hand for 3-4 cards, and have access to Premonition, I'll often blindly Hand to draw my 5, and then use Premonition afterwards. While a pre-Abyssal Hand Premonition gives me immediate access to the best cards out of the top 5, the value of potentially adding the last card or two may not be as overall valuable as seeing your new 5 card hand and then being able to sculpt your next 5 going into the next turn with the newfound information of what you drew off of Octillery (BKT; 33) . It is alluring to chase the immediate return you get from manipulating the top 5 first, but in many cases it is incorrect. Clearly if you are missing Energy drops or Supporter plays, this doesn't apply, but for games where things are going well, it is okay to slow down and be conservative with the sequencing.
For Energy, I am running 8 Fairy Energy and 4 Double Colorless. Traditionally I had been fine with the concession of only running 7 Fairy Energy, but if I am increasing the odds that I get to have a turn 2 Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) , I also want to avoid missing Energy Drops so I can maximize the chances I then attack as well. On top of this, the 4 Max Potion also really burn through Energy. Even with 2 Super Rod and a GX Attack, additional Energy can only help.
Without any Brigette (BKT; 134) in the deck, the Supporter line-up gets to run more copies of N, Cynthia (UPR; 119) , and Skyla. Without Octillery (BKT; 33) , I'm going for 4 Cynthia and 3 N. The split is actually pretty interesting and I may be incorrect with how to divide them up. Cynthia is better draw during a longer game, and is better against Garbodor. N (FCO; 105) provides less "true draw" over a long game, especially without access to Octillery. That being said, the deck is the defensive deck in many matchups, falling behind and walling off behind Max Potions. In this case, N can be fairly lopsided, allowing you to stiff the opponent with smaller hands over and over again while still drawing plenty yourself. That said, I give the nod to Cynthia because in most games you end up wanting to leverage N, you are also using Twilight GX and can get them back. N is also nice in this deck because the decks that N is "weak" against are often those using Zoroark GX (SLG; 77) , and Gallade gives you natural strength against them.
I started with 4 N (FCO; 105) and 4 Cynthia (UPR; 119) and cut the 8th copy for a Lillie. It is good late game with smaller hand sizes, and is often extremely strong on the first turn. The 4th Tapu Lele's inclusion was partially influenced by this card's presence. One of the benefits you get with not being pigeonholed into using a turn 1 Brigette (BKT; 134) is that you can use "real" draw Supporters to try and set up better turn 2s, which helps towards getting out a quicker Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) . Since we are running Nest Ball, one thing that I do suggest is to avoid the "trap" of filling your bench with this deck. Not only do you want to save spots for Tapu Leles, but you want to be able to burn Nest Balls later in the game as they are just as obnoxious to draw once fully set up as Brigette is. Outside of thinning your deck, being able to "fail to find" off Nest Balls can trim cards out of your hand for Oranguru, or even provide an important re-shuffle after seeing a subpar Premonition.
Skyla is great in the deck as it lets you reliably draw into Rare Candy (DE; 100) , but it also can easily become a Nest Ball or Ultra Ball depending on your needs. Beyond this, it gets you Field Blower or Max Potion when you need them. This level of redundancy adds up over the longer games the deck tries to induce.
I've played about 30 games with this build so far, and have like the results quite a bit. Since I am not planning to attend any events prior to the release of Forbidden Light, I've spent a lot of my time trying to explore more unorthodox ideas than I have spent trying to refine safe, well understood decks. There are some cards I would like to at least look at for this deck going forward.
Wobbuffet: This would either replace the 4th Tapu Lele or would be a 10th Energy. I want additional basics, and this card is great at slowing the opponent down. It doesn't shut off Tapu Lele, but it does wreck Octillery (BKT; 33) and Zoroark GX (SLG; 77) . In hindsight this would have been a really interesting approach to my build using Regirock EX as it would force opponents to rely more on Tapu Lele, which would leave more targets for the 170 damage Gallade shot.
Mewtwo: Mewtwo is a little extra insurance for Buzzwole. Without Kirlia, you do have to worry about 30/30 splits picking on you Ralts. 4 Max Potion does a good job of combating this, as it is often totally correct to burn one of them on an in danger Ralts. If I was to run Mewtwo, I'd consider the 3rd Choice Band.
3rd Choice Band: I really like 3 Choice Band in Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) decks, but I deferred to the wisdom of (FREE) Seena Ghaziaskar's 2 copies in the Max Potion builds as they care a little bit less about being able to close a faster game. My gut still likes 3, but I trust his stupid number of reps with the deck more than I do my gut. ( Seriously, the guy more or less only plays this deck, and has for months on end. I doubt any player in the world has more reps with any specific deck. )
3rd Field Blower: I hate Garbodor. That said, with Skyla to draw this, and a higher Supporter count than I am used to, I don't think the 3rd copy is necessary. The card just offers a lot of utility overall. I just worry about games where you use one early for small value to thin your hand, only to get punished over a longer game. I think with Twilight GX that it is fine at 2 though.
Parallel City: I don't think I need to explain why the card is good. Being able to re-set your bench by pitching Tapu Lele away is great especially if the end game is often walling off behind a Gardevoir that can't be OHKOed. With 3 Skyla, this situational card is easy to get access to, and you do get a second copy off of Twilight GX. This is definitely the 61st card for the deck.
Kirlia: Running 1 Kirlia as a "5th" evolution out may be fine. They aren't super necessary but having one copy may end up adding enough over a long game to be worthwhile. One final talking point regarding the lack of Kirlia: Espeon EX. Espeon EX has seen a massive decline in play, pretty much only being used in Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41) . Greninja is a terrible matchup anyways, so the threat of it being a major issue for the build is fairly irrelevent.
In conclusion, I'm not trying to sell this as some major breakthrough superior Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) build. It has proven to be impressive so far, and it accomplishes what it is set out to do, which is offer up superior starts compared to traditional Gardevoir builds. Beyond that it has pros and cons compare to other builds. It is worth remembering that even if archetypes are well established and successful that it doesn't mean there is no room for change or innovation. Always keep your eyes open for new ideas.
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