Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

A New Standard

Chris Explores A Whole Gauntlet Worth Of New Standard Decks For The Upcoming Primal Clash-Steam Siege Format!

08/24/2016 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone! With the World Championships taking place last weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to...actually take things in a different direction, and focus on the upcoming Standard format come September 1, Primal Clash-Steam Siege. 

Last article I stressed that Mega Rayquaza was going to be the defining force of the format. It is very clearly the "best" deck in a vacuum, and the litmus test by which every other deck must pass in order to become a viable option intially. ( If the metagame develops where the decks played hate Rayquaza out of the format, then the doors open up, but that will take some time, for sure. ) If we accept this as the first "known" quantity of the format, it lets us take a few things from it.

Lightning types will be extremely good. Now, lets be honest. Two of the most impactful Lightning Pokemon in Standard, Joltik and Manectric EX, have rotated. This guts us of options as a lot of the other Lightning types are a bit on the underwhelming side. That being said, one card which standards out as being extremely good will be Raichu, originally printed in XY and getting a reprint in Generations. It has always been a huge chore for Rayquaza to compete against despite not seeing as much play as it had previously. This isn't a clean solution, as Rayquaza decks can run Altaria to rid itself of that pesky weakness. Altaria got removed from most lists due to the fact that you lost to Night March anyways, beat Manectric anyways, and were generally overridden by Hex Maniac anyways. Now, without Battle Compressor, it is a lot harder for decks to run a "free" 1 of Hex Maniac for this type of scenario, and some decks may forego the Hex Maniac in their lists altogether. As such, I feel Altaria becomes a much stronger card in the Mega Rayquaza decks again.

Beyond Raichu, and also benefitting from this reduced strength to Hex Maniac is Magnezone. Armed with Raikou, Jolteon EX, and Pikachu EX, this deck was a fringe competitor during Cities last year ( Admittedly sans Jolteon! ) but was Hexed out of true tier 1 status. It doesn't make the deck any less potent, and as the format slows down and Night March leaves the format, it has a new lease on life. Historically cards like Magnezone always end up being good, and with strong typing, I would not be surprised to see this deck be a real player. Raikou, armed with a Fighting Fury Belt, is even better because of the lack of Xerosic and Startling Megaphone. While the deck has access to Pikachu EX, it is more of a back up plan than something you aim to be chasing, and the deck functions primarily as a non-EX deck.

One thing I do want to address is how bad Jolteon EX is now. First off, Pokemon Ranger is a real issue. Second, the only deck that really was soft to Jolteon EX was Night March, and that is leaving the format. No one would really be playing the card now if Night March were not such a factor. ( I guess Volcanion decks could be soft to it as well, but I'm not seeing that as reason enough for Jolteon EX to be popular. ) It is an option, but not one which is lucrative to me at the moment.

Beyond Lightning types, the other card I expect to see a ton of play is Zoroark. It is a pretty strong counter to Mega Rayquaza, while also taking Colorless Energy to attack. It sadly loses Target Whistle, but you do still have Captivating Poke-puff as a means to fill a bench. This can be paired with Buddy-Buddy Rescue to force Pokemon back into an opponent's hand at times as well.

Beyond being a direct counter to Rayquaza and a splashable attacker, Zoroark's Stand In plays so well with Float Stone that I can see decks running it just as much for that as they do for it being great against Mega Rayquaza. Zoroark already sees a lot of play, but I expect it to see even more post rotation.

While not directly due to Mega Rayquaza's presence, another card I expect to see get a bump in play is Octillery. We've seen how good Claydol was in the past, and do not get me wrong, Octillery is extremely far from Claydol in terms of how good it is, but it still sets a bench mark for how great this type of effect is, especially in a format with N. Without Battle Compressor ( And Night March! ) I expect the format to slow down considerably. Even Mega Rayquaza looks to be taking a more restrained approach opposed to chasing the turn 1 Emerald BREAK. The draw engine in the format got worse, and that leaves an opening for Octillery to slide into more lists. I could see 1-1 or 2-2 lines getting more and more play.

Lets take a look at some of the decks I like for the format so far, BESIDES Mega Rayquaza which I talked about in my last article.

The Pokemon in this deck are a pretty simple port over from the list use at Cities. You have a thicker Magnezone line, and I won't even say that the Magneton is even necessary, especially with less and less Item Lock being played now with Trevenant and Seismitoad EX rotating. The main attacker in the deck is going to be Raikou, and to pair with it we have some Fighting Fury Belts to slap on him. The damage output is extremely high, and Raikou is really, really beefy once tanked up.

I include the one Pikachu EX as a catch all that can OHKO really hefty Pokemon, and sweep a game up if necessary. MAYBE 2 copies, or a Super Rod/Buddy Buddy Rescue is correct so I have access to more than one copy of the card, but I'd rather not be benching multiple EX cards in a game as this deck can compete in a grindier game without them.

For draw power, we have only 1 Shaymin EX ( The deck isn't going to be that fast no matter how many cards you draw, so with less of an upside I look at Shaymin as more of a safety net in this deck than an enabler. This is particularly true since the deck accepts being slower ) and a 2-2 Octillery line. Octillery lets us maintain draw power while we use cards like Fisherman to set up. It gives us the critical mass necessary to keep pumping out energy cards over a longer game.

I'm running 11 energy, and I think that should be a good amount for the list. I don't think too much has changed since last format, at least not in a way which makes 11 too off base for the deck. You could run 1 copy of Flash Energy if you want, but I think I'd rather just run as many Fisherman-able Energy as possible here.

The Trainers are not that exciting, but I want to go over a few of the numbers. The deck IS slow, and I like Teammates in general, so this seems like a great deck to run a pair. Most decks will try and pressure Magnemites early to keep you off of setting up, and this can punish them for it. Having a card that grabs Rare Candy and Magnezone in the same play is good. Honestly, with Teammates, maybe a Prof. Letter or two would be worth playing so we can use one of the Teammates "slots" to grab 2 energy cards. I can see a lot of lines where you grab a Letter and a Rare Candy.

I'm at 1 Level Ball right now, but could see 2-3 of them being correct to help fill the bench wit Magnemites and Remoraids. One of the issues I do have with the deck is only 2 Float Stone as a means of switching. Without Zoroark, and with the deck having so many heavier retreat costs, maybe it is correct to be running a 3rd or even fourth card for the role. Also, with Teammates, maybe 1 DCE is good to be able to search it up. I think that is too fancy to include in the initial list, but it could be something worth looking at when refining a list, especially if Hex Maniac becomes more popular and we need to build the list to better function without Abilities.

Worth noting regarding this deck is that the next deck I will be discussing is Zoroark/Yveltal, another port over deck, and this deck should have favorable matchups against it, and against Rayquaza.

This deck is also nothing completely out of left field, but it was one of the best decks last year, and should still be good now. There is one major change to the deck though, and that is the loss of Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick and Gallade! This is not negligible! The engine no longer exists to just shoehorn that pairing into a deck like this without Battle Compressor. It is too hard to compile. Could a dedicated Maxie deck work? Honestly? Probably. I'm not sure the upside is there to chase that right now, and either way, this is definitely not the deck for it. As a result, the deck does have a bit of an issue now in that it loses that big hitter that isn't weak to Lightning. All of the Yveltals struggle against the type, and while we do run a big 4-4-1 Zoroark line, that is still a line which is exploitable by bench limitations. Gallade offered the deck a heavy hitting unconditional attacker for only a DCE, and that loss will certainly be felt. None the less, for anyone who has played this deck before, they know how potent it is even if you are unable to get Gallade out.

Luckily without Night March in the format, Yveltal EX becomes a viable attacker again. I mean, I guess it was always a good attacker, it just was also a big liability. Now it still suffers from the increase in Lightning Pokemon which Mega Rayquaza's presence instigates. Still, with it reprint as a higher numbered XY promo, Yveltal EX is legal for yet another year, a fact I overlooked in my last article.

The Trainers are also pretty normal. The big thing here is again I feel like this is a deck that wants to run Puzzle of Time, and in any deck with Puzzle of Time I want Teammates...and in any deck with Teammates I generally want a pair of them now without Compressor. You'll see that, tentatively, in my lists at the moment. I'm also a fan of 2 Lysandre, and then a base of 4 Sycamore and 4 N. It is quite possible this is overkill, but right now with decks that don't have a crazy first turn that I just want something stable.

I like having some copies of Stadium cards as well, so we have a pair of Reverse Valley to help with the deck's damage output. Without the Maxie engine, cards like Trainers' Mail seem less exciting as outside of Oblivion Wing, the deck doesn't have many impressive first turn plays anyways, so a conservative draw engine seems better. With Teammates and Puzzle of Time, we can make the most out of single copies of cards since the deck is otherwise very consistent. This is why the 1 of Energy Switch makes the 60. Having the ability to power out an Yveltal EX from "no where"...and by that I mean off say, work done by Oblivion Wing, seems strong.

I touched on the Poke-Puff/Buddy Buddy Rescue gimmick earlier, and honestly, maybe I'm actually going too shallow on the combo. Forcing a player into a wide bench for Zoroark seems really strong. I'll even go one farther and bring up something that is probably totally unnecessary but kind of fun to think about, and that would be a build running Sky Field to actually force their bench wider, and then do some extra convoluted Buddy Buddy/Poke Puff gimmick.

One of the cool things with this deck is that it can also run a toolbox of Pokemon that key off of DCE. What you want to run in those spots potentially depend on how the format fleshes out. Right now, we do not run any Hex Maniac, and maybe that is just necessary to compete with a deck like Magnezone, but I'm taking the wait and see approach on these utility Supporters until we see what the metagame looks like.

This is a deck I'm still theorycrafting some, since the loss of Blacksmith and Battle Compressor both force the deck to take a slightly different direction than it would have prior to rotation. The core of the deck is kind of spelled out for us. You use multiple Volcanion EX to boost the damage of normal Volcanion or the EX and go nuts. Without Blacksmith, we are kind of forced to rely on baby Volc to put energy cards into play from the discard pile. Volcanion is like a hybrid between Xerneas and Yveltal. It does damage, and can attach two energy cards to your Pokemon but they have to come from the discard pile. Without Compressor, getting 2 energy discarded is harder. You need to either dump them off of Sycamore or Ultra Ball.

4 of each Volcanion is pretty much a given. Hoopa EX is perfect for getting a swarm of Volcanion EX into play, and Shaymin is pretty self explanatory. Beyond that, we have the 2-2 Octillery line. Like Magnezone, this is a deck that wants to use Fisherman as it's Supporter often to keep the damage boost going, and thus we need a secondary source of draw. Plus, it is a deck that, due to the demand on it's bench as it is, wants to play Sky Field, so tossing on another Pokemon to the bench isn't a problem. Finally, and this is kind of a "eh, whatever, lets try these guys out" approach, but we have an Entei, and a Flareon EX. Flareon is a powerful attack, and lets the deck do enough damage to really pump out OHKOs. Entei is a good non-ex attacker, and with enoug Volcanion EX on the bench, is able to OHKO a Mega Rayquaza if they put enough on their bench. One copy may just be a bandaid for that matchup, and additional copies may be necessary.

I think this deck has a high degree of power and the damage output is really impressive. The power level is a bit lower than Mega Rayquaza, and it is vulnerable to Hex Maniac, but the deck has a different set of weaknesses than Rayquaza ( not just actual weakness! ) so it is a good alternative if Ray gets a massive bullseye on it's head.

Ok, first let me preface this by saying I am aware that this deck is likely miserable againt both Mega Rayquaza and Volcanion decks. It probably struggles with Pikachu EX out of Magnezone. THAT SAID, it is still a deck that is powerful and should be a pretty huge favorite over any deck that is unable to actually score a OHKO on a Mega Sceptile. The engine lost Battle Compressor, but not a whole lot else. The deck should be able to pull off a first turn Mega Sceptile, attacking, a pretty reasonable percentage of the time. Once this happens, you just start looping between a pair of them, using Energy Retrieval ( Buy your SR ones now kids! ) and Fisherman. In a format where not everyone is going to have a properly built deck, an aggressive deck that also has built in "auto wins" ( which is an exaggeration but you should do well against decks unable to OHKO ) is not a bad place to be. I don't think it is a fantastic deck, but I do think it is worth looking at.

This deck loses Battle Compessor, which is a major issue, but part of me is desperately hopeful that it is able to be disruptive and powerful enough that it may be able to still function without them. Decks will be less and less prepared for Item lock because so many of the cards which do it rotate now. That being said, without Compressor, decks will run more Supporters as well. There isn't a whole lot of changes to this deck since it pretty much just ports over directly minus Battle Compressor. I added a Random Receiver as a 5th Sycamore. I maxed out the Level Ball count. Will this keep the deck competitive? We'll see. Any deck that is very disruptive and fast in a format where players have let their guard own is appealing to me.

Ok, so this is a list I am very...skeptical of still, but I would rather include than overlook entirely as an archetype. You'll notice I have included a pretty wide range of decks in this article, and the decks are all in various stages of testing still. This is still one of the...cruder lists.

I think it is pretty obvious that the best route to take is to use Carbink BREAK. First off, Carbink itself slows an opponent down with it's Ability that prevents itself from getting hit by EX Pokemon. It isn't as hindering, usually, as Wobbuffet, but it does help bridge the speed gap between this deck and well, probably any other deck. Carbink BREAK also helps you dump additional energy into play for Primal Groudon which is huge.

On the topic of healing, you'll notice I am running an Assault Vest and a Pokemon Center Lady. Clearly Fighting Fury Belt won't work on a Primal, but Assault Vest will. A lot of decks will struggle to chew through a Vest and a Center Lady combo ( Which can be grabbed off of Teammates...and recycled with Puzzle of Times ) I am not sure this is the best healing set, but it is a start.

Outside of missing Robo-Subs and Wobbuffet, this deck also loses Korrina, which actually changes the engine up a lot. I'm stuck playing Teammates in a deck that is extremely defensive and tries not to give up prizes. The deck really wants to use Puzzles as well as a wide toolbox, though, so it is a bit of a necessary evil.

As for Stadiums, we also lose some of our previous options. As a result, we're playing 4 Scorched Earth. Without Battle Compressor ( And Korrina to grab a single copy of it ) the deck needs a better way to discard energy for Carbink and Mega Turbo. Scorched Earth supplies a Stadium for Groudon's attack, additional draw power, and a discard outlet. It isn't super exciting for any of those roles, but it does cover so many bases it is hard to overlook.

Outside of the Assault Vest as a means by which to protect a Groudon for getting lit up, I'm also running a Klefki. Klefki protects Groudon from getting OHKOed by a Mega Rayquaza, or another Groudon in mirror match. With Puzzle of Time, you can loop Klefki up to four turns.

Greninja is another deck that is already an established archetype that doesn't lose a whole lot in the transition. You lose the XY Greninja, which does admittedly limit your out of attack step damage output, but decks already focused on the BKP Greninja anyways.

This is a deck that didn't really use Battle Compressor in the first place, so the loss doesn't change much stuff up. What I am doing is cutting the fairly standard pair of Jirachi promos because I think the card is just not really necessary right now. It was strong against Seismitoad EX decks ( Rotated ) Night March ( Rotated ) Vespiquen ( Lost Battle Compressor ) Giratina EX( Hurt by Ranger, and the loss of some favored matcups. ) and other likely less popular decks. In it's place I'm running 1Shaymin EX and 1 Manaphy EX. With Night March out of the format, they aren't as much of a target, and the deck really does want 8 Basics. Manaphy lets you retreat between Frogs and heal them up with Rough Seas. The Shaymin EX does a little bit of work towards letting you dig towards that turn 1 Wally you really do want.

I am a bit concerned about this deck at the start of this format because it is fairly well documente that Greninja as a pretty miserable matchup with Rayquaza. The high HP totals and the engine that lets it dig fairly well to Hex Maniac is a major problem. On the topic of Hex Maniac, this deck definitely does benefit from the added difficulty of incorporating this card into the average deck.

On the topic of port overs, despite me saying Giratina seemed worse post rotation, this is another deck that doesn't lose a whole lot in transition. There isn't much fancy going on here.

Anyways, another card I am unsure about is Garbodor. Taking a tool off of a Garbodor is going to be impossible, so the card seems like it has to be extremely well positioned right now. I am just not sure what deck I would like to play it in. A 1-1 in Mega Rayquaza? ( Once it gets set up, it doesn't need Abilities. ) With Primal Groudon? In the above mentioned Darkrai Giratina deck to really deprive decks of options? I'm certain there will be a powerful Garbodor deck, but as a card which lends itself to being very controlling, it is easier to find the proper shell once there is an established metagame to plan against.

Anyways, these are some of the decks I have thrown together for the initial gauntlet of decks to test for this format. I've got a pretty similar engine in many of isn't very surprising, but they just run 4 N and 4 Professor Sycamore ( With some running slightly less in either count. ) and a few Shaymin EX. I want to try just jamming a 1-1 Octillery line into some of them and seeing how it plays out from there. The other card I am really high on right now is Teammates, but a lot of that has to do with my love of toolboxes, as well as my love of Puzzle of Time which I think is one of the best cards in the whole format.

Teammates is admittedly awkward and clunky, but I think Puzzle of Time is so potent that you make concessions to make them work. Hopefully this gives an initial insight into some of the possible deck ideas for the new Standard format, and also gets the creative juices flowing. There is a whole wide card pool of new options that were previously oppressed by Night March being in the format that now could be quite good. This is an interesting time to try out a new format just because there are so many cards that just never got explored in MULTIPLE sets just because of how unhealthy the format had been. As much as I love Mega Rayquaza, I am really hoping Raichu, Zoroark, Klefki, and others are able to keep the format balanced and competitive. Until next time, happy testing!

[+15] okko


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