08/29/2018 by Chris Fulop
Hello again everyone!
I'm sitting here, writing this while watching the World Championships being streamed from Nashville, TN. Despite watching a lame duck format, I've been focusing all of my testing on the upcoming 2018-2019 Standard format. In my last article, I showcased multiple decks I had started to test that I thought would be strong. (Note: I included Energy Search in my Malamar list. Somehow, Energy Search is NOT actually going to be Standard legal, so that card would need replaced by either an additional Psychic Energy, Metal Energy, or an Energy Loto. I don't think anyone is going to blame me for believing that card would just always be in circulation, I hope.)
Table of contents
This article I cut straight to the point. I include every single list (besides those in the previous article) that I have tested so far. I won't be going as in depth about the builds and matchups as I normally would, as a lot of these lists are understandably in the exploration stage and are far from refined. Also, there are a LOT of decks.
I do want to go over a few overall trends I've been finding in testing so far, though.
Malamar is the defacto "deck to beat."
Malamar is resilient and extremely powerful. It lost very little with rotation, where as most other decks have taken quite a hit. None of the port over decks are particularly competitive against it so far in testing (this means Zoroark builds, Buzzwole, and Rayquaza in particular). Most decks are either less stable, slower, or less powerful. A deck's Malamar matchup is absolutely the litmus test for a deck's viability. This doesn't mean that Malamar will settle in as the best deck in the format, and that decks with a bad Malamar matchup cannot be played. The metagame's starting point is absolutely Malamar, and from there it will evolve with "decks that can beat Malamar," and then things should open up from there.
All of the Supporters besides Cynthia and Guzma are very bad.
Cynthia is an above average Supporter. It is significantly worse than either Professor Sycamore or N was, and it is now the standard bearer moving forward. I've been trying to find what the strongest companion Supporters are and thus far all of them have been varying degrees of terrible.
Lillie is interesting, and actively very strong on the first turn of the game. Without N, hand sizes stay more stable, so you draw less cards off of Lillie than you may have last format. Streamlined decks with a lot of fluidity in their hands still like this card. If you can play both Ultra Ball and Mysterious Treasure, Lillie is above average. Clunkier decks full of evolutions will end up with far worse results with it.
TV Reporter and Sophocles are both underwhelming. If you have a deck that wants to discard cards, I believe Sophocles is the superior option. If you do not want discards, I think Hau or Underground Expedition are both better than TV Reporter.
Copycat has been really bad. Hand sizes often sit between 3-5 cards and very rarely get huge. To make it worse, it is really easy to play around Copycat if desired. This is less of an issue if Copycat is not widely played, but if you expect Copycat to be popular in your area, it is worth burning cards out of your hand to hinder Copycats.
Judge should be played in most decks. Judge is not great. It isn't a strong draw card, and it isn't a strong disruption card, but it is one of the only disruption cards available. There are not a ton of ways to come back when behind, and Judge is still a way to break up huge stockpiled hands that can be built up. Zoroark decks LOVE Judge, too, and should be played as a 2 of or more as you get so much additional draw power due to Trade.
Tate and Liza is good in Malamar. If you are playing a deck that really cares about switching, this card is totally reasonable. The draw mode of the card is poor but playable. I wouldn't run more than a copy or two of it though.
Zoroark decks also get access to Mallow. Mallow is very, very good. Since Zoroark decks need to run more attacking options going forward, it isn't easier to run Magcargo, which would otherwise render this card more obsolete.
Steven's Resolve is a card I want to experiment more with in Stage 2 decks. It is a near guaranteed way to draw into a turn two set up in a world without N. It is still weak to Judge. I also think this card could be really strong in Decidueye-GX decks in particular, since the deck's set up continues to be super demanding all game, and much of it's damage output is independent of attacks.
Hala is actually interesting too. I want to explore decks that use either Drampa-GX or Rayquaza-GX for their GX attack to set up while enabling Hala as a premium draw Supporter for the rest of the game. This strategy also invites a "Lass/Eeeeeeek" type gimmick (in nod to Lass and Neo Genesis Cleffa) where you Judge on the first turn and follow it up with your GX attack to assure a strong hand going forward.
Professor Kukui is actually pretty decent alongside Magcargo, if you play a deck that cares about the damage boost even a little bit. Something like Buzzwole comes to mind, as this engine can offset the damage lost by losing Strong Energy.
Apricorn Maker is actually a much better replacement for Brigette than I thought it would be. If you run some sort of mix of Ultra Ball, Nest Ball and Timer Ball, you can grab two Basic Pokemon off Nest Ball, mimicking Fan Club. It is far more flexible though, in that it can grab one Nest Ball and an Ultra Ball. It can even grab 2 Ultra Ball mid game when you do not need any more Basics. If you don't have the cards in hand to pitch to a pair of Ultra Ball, running a lone copy of Timer Ball as an alternative is good. I've been liking this engine in Zoroark, in particular. It feels like Zoroark gets all the good fringe Supporter options, doesn't it?
Anyways, now lets get to the decks!
Rayquaza Beast Ring, 2018-2019
- 4x Rayquaza GX
- 1x Xurkitree
- 1x Pheromosa GX
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Marshadow
- 1x Latias Prism Star
- 4x Cynthia
- 3x Sophocles
- 2x Lillie
- 4x Guzma
- 4x Beast Ring
- 3x Switch
- 3x Energy Switch
- 1x Rescue Stretcher
- 4x Acro Bike
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Mysterious Treasure
- 7x Grass Energy
- 7x Lightning Energy
Rayquaza loses a lot with rotation. Well, mainly it loses Max Elixir, but that is an extremely important card in the deck. I've talked about Rayquaza/Lanturn as an option going forward (feeling particularly unexcited about it), but this is another interesting approach to the deck. Rather than relying on Lanturn to conserve Energy, this build runs Pheromosa-GX and Xurkitree-GX as Ultra Beasts to Beast Ring onto. Once the first Rayquaza goes down, you get to explode with Beast Rings and more than likely be set up for the rest of the game in terms of damage output.
Energy Switch lets you relocate these Energy onto a Rayquaza. Pheromosa is also a very strong late game attacker to sweep with as well. Xurkitree is a pretty safe target to store Energy on as well because of how obnoxious its Ability is against a lot of decks. I'm still not super sold on Rayquaza moving forward, but this is an alternative build to the deck.
- 4x Buzzwole GX
- 2x Buzzwole
- 2x Slugma
- 2x Magcargo
- 1x Oranguru
- 2x Rockruff
- 2x Lycanroc GX
- 1x Diancie Prism Star
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 3x Beast Ring
- 3x Switch
- 2x Multi Switch
- 4x Guzma
- 4x Cynthia
- 2x Professor Kukui
- 4x Acro Bike
- 3x Choice Band
- 1x Lillie
- 1x Nest Ball
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 10x Fighting Energy
- 1x Beast Energy Prism Star
I've tried to look at how to port over Buzzroc, since it is one of the most powerful decks in the field. The big losses to look at are Strong Energy, Max Elixir, and Octillery. That is a lot of the skeleton gone, although the core strength of "Buzzwole-GX plus Beast Ring" is still there and worth exploring. My gut actually tells me that Buzzwole is better supported by more of an Ultra Beast gimmick (my attempt at Beast Box in my last article still feels like a better fit for the card), but it's foolish not to explore what is one of last format's best decks.
Luckily, the deck isn't super demanding on resources, and thus can survive the loss of Octillery. I'm actually going with a Magcargo/Oranguru engine, alongside Acro Bike for additional draw. The deck is primarily Basics and Items, and I actually suspect the deck can empty its hand size frequently enough to pull off the Magcargo/Oranguru draw gimmick well enough. One thing worth noting here is that since you do not run Max Elixir to be able to go off super aggressively, it is probably better to save Acro Bikes for midgame to pair with Magcargo to smooth your draws.
The loss of Max Elixir isn't the biggest deal due to Beast Ring and just accepting a slower game plan, but it is felt when trying to power up Lycanroc-GX as an attacker. In this case, I'm relying on Multi Switch to be able to get Lycanroc powered out of nowhere. Pairing it with Beast Ring is still a powerful play.
Finally, and this may just be terrible, but due to the lack of Strong Energy, the deck does need a bit of a damage boost. In this case, I'm turning to Professor Kukui to offset it. Alongside Magcargo, the "draw two" aspect of the card goes from embarrassing to reasonable draw.
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