Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Beachside Brews, Volume 1

In this INAUGURAL EDITION of Beachside Brews, Chris discusses 8 different deck ideas for the brand new Standard format!

09/05/2016 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone! I'm taking a slightly different approach to this article...and by that, I mean I am currently sitting up at a Bench overlooking the shores of Lake Erie, with my laptop on my lap, and my phone, Pokémon GO open looking for Magikarp, resting next to me. It is all about efficiency, kids. Well, that and the beach here is pretty fantastic, and it is a much better way to spend my day off than camped up in my house all day.

So for this special Beachside Edition of...well, I really guess I should have coined a title for my article series or something along those lines by now, seeing how I've been writing for the site for about a month and a half now. Ok, well, alright, since I'm in a particularly jovial mood right now, welcome to the inaugural edition of Chris Fulop's Beachside Brews.

In this edition, I will be going over some of the other deck lists I've been working at for the new Standard format. I went over a bunch of decks in my last article, and oh trust me, I've got a whole lot of other ones here too. I've taken a somewhat different approach to testing this time around. I usually isolate what my favorite deck is right out of the gates, and just test it into the ground. I honestly don't disagree with that least as long as the deck you latch onto doesn't actually end up being bad. In this case, I already know what "my deck" is: Mega Rayquaza. I love the deck even when I do not believe it is the best deck in the format, and right now there is little to convince me it currently isn't ALSO the best deck.

This time though, I am really just excited to explore as many different avenues as I can. I think part of this stems from the fact that Standard had been warped by Night March for so long that we more or less skipped 3 sets worth of "Playable" cards that were just straight ousted from the format by its presence. I mean, yes, that is clearly an exaggeration, cards have made their impacts, but a lot of fun cards never got explored. I'm now getting a chance to go back and look over cards I considered to be "good" but not viable due to failing the litmus tests of the prior Standard format.


I mentioned in my last article how I felt Octillery, Zoroark and Raichu all gained a lot of value for this format, but there was another card I wanted to touch on for being a probably role player in this format too: Garbodor. Turning off Abilities is always going to be strong, and now Garbodor benefits from being safe from tool removal options. Yes, it can still be Lysandre'd and dealt with that way, but it’s still a huge hill to climb for pretty much any deck. If I'm right with both Octillery and Zoroark being more and more playable, being able to cut decks off of these only raises the trash bag's stock higher. If a deck runs Octillery, it is often at the expense of other draw power. If a deck runs Zoroark, it usually runs a pair of Float Stone to enable it...many of these decks use Zoroark because they expect their active Pokémon to carry a Pokémon tool. Of course, robbing a deck of free retreat is more an inconvenience (If you cannot exploit it) than a backbreaker, but it matters. On the flip side, Garbodor DOES eat up a Bench space, making Zoroark's damage output greater, and Zoroark is pretty good at being a low maintenance KO option on a Garbodor.

I'm not sure what the best option to pair Garbodor with is. Last season we saw Darkrai Giratina paired with Garbodor, so that is a natural default as the deck really didn't lose a whole lot with rotation. Mega Mewtwo also seems really powerful, especially now that it doesn't have to contend with Pumpkaboo just lighting it up for a DCE. Dark decks are pretty light on their demand for Abilities as the game progresses, so that is a pairing to consider as well.

One of the cards getting a lot of hype lately is Mega Mewtwo. I'll include a list that does not run Garbodor, and a second which employs the disruptive trash bag.

One of the big problems I have had with Mega Mewtwo as a potential deck is that it really struggles against decks which can OHKO the Mewtwo. Previously, the deck has been kept mainly in check by Night March and Mega Rayquaza. Night March rotates, but as I've beaten into the ground, Mega Rayquaza is still the frontrunner for the presumptive format. This means that for Mega Mewtwo to be a great threat, it needs an answer for this. Mega Mewtwo being paired with Zoroark is nothing new: This was already a pretty common pairing during Cities when Mega Mewtwo was being played somewhat frequently. Zoroark offers a great degree of utility, but also allows you to have a good secondary attacker which makes use of the DCEs you want to help boost Mewtwo's damage output with. It just so happens that Zoroark is also a viable attacker against Mega Rayquaza. I'm...not entirely sure that even the 3-3 line allows the deck to compete against a conservative Rayquaza player, but it is at least a start.

To add an additional countermeasure, I'm also running 1 Assault Vest. Now, there is clearly an issue of this preventing the deck from using it with Mewtwo's Spirit Link, but I do like how Assault Vest gives Mewtwo an effective 250 HP against Rayquaza's damage cap of 240 damage. Another option would be to just use the new Klefki to do the same thing. All of these counter measures benefit from the fact that there is no real means to discard a tool in play after rotation.


One of the things I am torn on is the strength of the Shrine of Memories and Mewtwo's damage swapping attack. It is cute, but pretty unwieldy too. I do like how if you pair Mega Mewtwo with Assault Vest, if it eats an Emerald Break, you can fling it right back for a pretty hefty amount of damage. UNFORTUNATELY, it is 20 shy of the return KO. There are going to be decks which really struggle to break past this sort of healing lock, though. I'm only running a pair of Shrines because there are matches where I feel like this gimmick is going to be really bad, and between Teammates and Puzzle of Times, I feel like it is easy to assemble this "combo" anyways. One of the nice parts of this is that the Shrine makes an immediate get value out of each Shrine you play even if it gets countered on the next turn, which is nice.

The Puzzle of Times and Teammates make it so you are pretty easily capable of spamming together DCEs and Mega Turbos. They also let you take advantage of your one-ofs, such as the Assault Vest, and Captivating Poke-puff which works really well with Zoroark.

This deck can be taken in a different direction as well, and with me not being super sold on needing the Shrine combination, I've toyed with the idea of cutting the Psychic Energy for Darkness Energy and running Yveltal in the deck. This gives you access to Yveltal, Yveltal-EX, and Zoroark BREAK. Which of these routes wind up being correct will depend on how the rest of the metagame fleshes out.

One of the problems the transition of a Mewtwo list over to including Garbodor is that you have to re-evaluate what secondary attackers you run, and how you plan to fit them. This build eats up a lot more space than the prior list, and this makes running a card like Zoroark more questionable. You lose out on Stand In, which is a huge appeal. (This isn't a huge deal, you need more tools as it is, so a 3rd Float Stone kills two birds with one stone there.)

I feel like Garbodor isn't even that great against Mega Rayquaza...Rayquaza does most of its work on the first turn, and after that it is really self-sustained. As a result, I am taking a slightly different approach to combating the matchup: Parallel City. I don't expect to keep up with OHKOs with them, but if you can keep purging their Bench, you can do a lot of damage, especially when pairing it with N. Without Shaymin or Hoopa to help rebuild the Bench, you can keep them off of OHKOs.

Oh boy am I excited to be addressing this one. So I've stressed multiple times how decks are really not able to deal with Pokémon tools at the moment. This means the occasional Fighting Fury Belt or Assault Vest is going to put a major wrench in someone's plans. Well, I feel like things can be taken a bit further using Mega Tyranitar! Capable of wielding a pair of unremovablable Assault Vest, Mega Tyranitar can subtract a full 80 damage per hit from a Pokémon with a Special Energy Card attached. Already rocking (har har type joke) 240 HP, this makes Mega Tyranitar into a huge tank. Even Mega Rayquaza, assuming it is suited up with a DCE, only smacks it for 160 damage. Unfortunately, this means even with a Pokémon Center Lady, Emerald Break still scores a two hit KO on Tyranitar.

That is where Klefki is key. (I am so sorry) You can suit up Mega Tyranitar with it to prevent all damage from other Mega Pokémon, making the giant Dark type the effective king of the ring. Right now I have a pair of Klefki, but I wouldn't mind seeing a way to retrieve them either. It has been a long time since a very defensive deck has been viable in Pokémon, so this is super exciting to me.

The challenge beyond this is figuring out exactly what to support Mega Tyranitar with. I took the easy way out. Yveltal, with Oblivion Wing, is just too good to pass up on. It sets up 30 damage (effectively ensuring an OHKO off Destroyer King) and also dumps Energy into play. The Breakthrough Yveltal is another almost gimme inclusion. It is another great non-EX attacker, but it also sets up 60 damage on Benched Pokémon to help give Tyranitar KOs. This is also a Dark deck, so we may as well toss in a copy of Yveltal-EX simply because of how downright powerful the Pokémon is. You'd be hard pressed to convince me not to play an Yveltal-EX in a Dark deck in Standard.

Finally, to help enable Destroyer King, we have a 2-2 Golbat line. Golbat was printed in Generations, whereas unfortunately Crobat was not. To be fair, I don't think I would be running any Crobat anyways, but it is a shame the card is not legal as this format could be an exciting one to run it in. The ability to dump 2 damage counters wherever you'd like is really useful towards getting out of nowhere OHKOs. Absol is also a 1 of to move 30 damage around from Pokémon to Pokémon. You can Fright Night an-EX for 60, then move 30 of it to another-EX later on and get two easy set up KOs off of it. It also lets you reallocate early Oblivion Wing damage. Without AZ or Super Scoop Up, it may not be worth it, and I am a little concerned for Bench space, but I think the upside is there to warrant it.

There are two cards I would love to run in this deck: Octillery and Zoroark. Unfortunately, this is really hard to justify for a few reasons. First, deck space. Second, Bench space. The deck is tight as it is, and I'll openly admit I am probably dragging the deck in too many directions with this build. (I'll also openly admit this is a deck I had thrown together VERY recently, right before the article deadline, so it is more brainstorming on my end than a refined product, but I think that is where a lot of people are still at right now.) Octillery helps glue everything together, and Zoroark is both a great attacker and something that can help with the hefty retreat costs in the deck. As much as I like Octillery, Zoroark seems more important here.

One idea I'm also looking at is taking the deck in a really focused healing direction. Suit Tyranitar up with Klefki/Assault Vest, and run a tremendous amount of healing cards, and potentially even Jynx. This would involve accepting that the deck would be extremely slow, and it would play more like a Primal Groudon style of deck, knowing it would be giving up prizes early and hoping to establish a late game grindy win opposed to trying to run Golbat to ensure OHKOs, and Yveltal stuff to try and mitigate Tyranitar's speed disadvantage. That is the biggest issue I have in evaluating this deck: Do you try to...and are the tools make this deck fast enough to compete on the same axis as the average deck, or take a totally unorthodox approach and just accept it for being slow and embrace that. Until we see what else is being played, it’s tough to know, but there are definitely options.

It does seem like Mega Pokémon, and decks using special Energy cards are going to be some of the format defining cards and Tyranitar is a house against all of those. I'm optimistic that there is some configuration of this deck will be a great choice for the upcoming season.

I did want to include an updated list for Mega Rayquaza. Not a whole lot has changed from my previous list, but I did include a 1-1 Zoroark line. This is both for ease of retreating, and also to give the deck a viable non-EX attacker to be able to hit with. Forcing a player to take a "7th" prize through the use of a non-EX in a deck like this is still really strong.

Most importantly, this helps the deck compensate for what I'm expecting the metagame to shape out into. First, it is good in the mirror match. If the opponent is able to OHKO your Mega Rayquaza, their Bench is big enough for you to be able to OHKO their Ray back with Zoroark. Against other decks using Zoroark, or Raichu, or Zebstrika, or honestly any other non-EX "counter" to Mega Rayquaza, you can use Zoroark to get a KO to avoid leaving yourself open to that attack. This could either mean leading with Zoroark to force them to use a Lysandre on your Ray (and in the case of Lightning counters, you can leave your Rayquaza as the Fairy weak Dragon type one on your Bench until it has to attack) and then still get this counter Pokémon KO'd by Zoroark the next turn without exposing another Rayquaza. This also works in situations where the opponent runs a 2-2 or thicker line of counter Pokémon. I'll cite the Mewtwo list I included above as an example, where you may need to chew through multiple Zoroark to get to a safe point to transition into Rayquaza-EX.


This "support attacker" slot is actually open to one of two options: Zoroark, as I chose, and Raichu. Zoroark offers utility and has strength stemming from a different direction than Rayquaza, which is nice. Raichu is also able to OHKO counter Pokémon, and helps mirror match, but it gains strength in that it is a proactively better attacker. The opponent has no ability to play around it by limiting their Bench. You can always reach 100 damage (and as much as 160 with Sky Field!) if need be, regardless of how they play. Whether this makes Raichu the better option is up in the air.

This thin "support" line is not limited to just attackers, either. I've had the spots allocated to an Altaria line before as well, but I'm not sure it is worth it. Outside of Raichu (and someone REALLY gunning to beat Rayquaza and running Zebstrika, a card I am absolutely not a fan of) there isn't a great amount of Lightning Pokémon to contend with. Magnezone is Lightning, but oddly not -that- difficult if you can draw into your Hex Maniac. They need a lot of Energy attachments to get KOs, and you can deplete them pretty quickly and if they aren't able to use Magnezone, it’s going to be difficult on them. I think that matchup may still be unfavorable without Altaria, though. If that is the case, and the deck is popular, it isn't impossible to squeeze in additional Pokémon.

I was on the fence about adding an Escape Rope into the deck, either as a 3rd Switching card, or in place of the 2nd Float Stone. With the decision to go with Zoroark, I felt like 2 Float Stone was too important. My major issue that prompts me to want an Escape Rope is that I am concerned with Klefki. Klefki only stays around for a turn, but you can't always rely on Lysandre'ing it away. Having a non-Supporter option to Benching a Pokémon (I guess Hawlucha is an option as well!) is nice, especially when switching cards are desired in general. If Klefki becomes a prominent presence, I definitely like fitting in an Escape Rope, as it is easy to Teammates for, or Teammates for Puzzle of Time to re-use if it is already played.

The one thing I've noticed about this deck is just how much more play it has to it than old Rayquaza builds. You can do a lot more than just "Emerald Break for 240" every game, and with people gunning for you, I think that is important to remember. You need to avoid walking into Zoroark OHKOs by limiting your Bench. You need to ration what you Bench to avoid Parallel City blow outs. There are times when it is better to lead softer and save resources for later in the game once you can start overextending WHILE protecting yourself with Ns opposed to overextending early and purging yourself of resources.

I'm still trying to figure out what to do with both Vileplume, and Sceptile. One of the things which scares me about Vileplume at the moment is that I don't know how good item lock actually is looking to be in this format. If you look at all of the decks I've included so far, you'll notice a generally high Supporter count. Without Battle Compressor, decks have embraced a thicker Supporter line in their builds. Without Battle Compressor, less decks are even running Trainers' Mail. Decks which are extremely cold to being cut off of their items are going to be much rarer.

As for Sceptile, in my last article I went over a turbo Mega Sceptile deck abusing Forest of Giant Plants, and now I'm looking more into trying out something taking advantage of the fact that the non-Mega Sceptile is also rather good. With Ariados (Which also benefits from Forest of Giant Plants, a necessity alongside Vileplume, and off of Level Ball.) it is easy to key Sceptile's second attack.

This build takes everything in a different direction, choosing to run the full Sceptile line instead of Ariados. You can loop between two Mega Sceptile-EX to heal and repower them, which really powerful but there are a lot of problems this deck faces which keeps me from being too excited about it. First off, Vileplume eats up a lot of space in a deck. You need at least 10 slots just for the Pokémon, plus 4 Forests, plus Level Balls and Trainers' Mail. You free up a bit of room because the deck doesn't run VS Seeker.

Unfortunately, Mega Sceptile winds up extremely Energy hungry. Usually you get away with Energy Retrievals, or Professors Letters, or even VS Seekers on a few copies of Fisherman in order to get back all of the Energy you need to be able to keep healing your Sceptile. None of that really works with Vileplume. Also due to the amount of space running Vileplume takes up, you have to run a thinner amount of Energy cards. Even if you had room to fit in like, 3-4 extra Energy cards, you don't really want to do that because you often end up using Set Up fairly aggressively early on and don't want to glut your hand full of non-cycleable cards.

You also want to run at least a few copies of its Spirit Link. You can afford to just end your turn on your first turn to Forest one out, but you need more than 1 Sceptile as the game progresses, and I really do not want to be throwing multiple turns away to Mega Evolve. I just don't feel like that is reasonable. Instead, we're running 2 Spirit Links in the hopes that they are able to be obtained on the first turn. You usually want to Mega Evolve a non-linked Sceptile, and save the Spirit Link for your second one.

The one thing this deck does have going for it is that unlike most Vileplume decks, you aren't as pressured into getting a first turn Vileplume because you have a healing lock to go alongside the item lock. Even if some decks set up perfectly before you disrupt them, you can lock them out of the game. Because of this, I've considered trying a build that accepts a much lower turn 1 Vileplume rate in order to better accommodate the Energy count and recovery for Mega Sceptile. I was looking at cutting the 4 Trainers' Mail to add a 3rd Rayquaza Spirit Link, 2 more Grass Energy, and a 3rd Fisherman. Without the Mail, I feel like you are kind of just priced in on playing the Spirit Link to bring the count up to where you can more reasonably expect to see it. While on the topic of a lower chance of hitting a quick Vileplume...I actually think this is a deck that may end up NOT evolving all the way to Vileplume on the first turn sometimes. Because the deck isn't as reliant on the quick item lock due to a better late game, you can sacrifice some disruption in order to better secure your own set up. If you are tight on Energy cards, or don't see a Spirit Link, maybe it is better to just leave them with items and allow yourself an extra turn to see that Spirit Link.

Normally I really fear playing against Mega Rayquaza with Sceptile, but since you run 4 Stadiums, you can actually sometimes take them off of Sky Field. Without Items, Rayquaza struggles to actually replace Sky Fields and recover enough Pokémon to fill the Bench to get out a full 8 Pokémon repeatedly. I feel like the deck is still an underdog to Rayquaza, but much less so than any of the other Sceptile builds which more or less have no options to be able to win that matchup at all.

When Roaring Skies first came out, Emerald Break Mega Rayquaza was clearly the most hyped attacker to come out of the set, but it’s not fair to overlook the promise held by the OTHER Mega Rayquaza in the set. While its attack costs are...prohibitive at best. It costs 5 Energy to attack for 300 damage, and you have to discard two Energy. This is offset somewhat by the fact you have Double Dragon Energy and Mega Turbo. The main enabler that makes this deck run is Reshiram though.

One of the main reasons this deck fell by the wayside was that it had been so much easier to deal effectively the same damage (By that I mean, if you one hit someone, who cares how much overkill there is.) with Night March, Vespiquen, or the other Mega Rayquaza. All of those decks were faster, and had lower maintenance. Well, without Battle Compressor, Vespiquen is a lot worse. Night March rotated. Mega Rayquaza has a GIANT bullseye on its forehead. Everyone is gunning to beat it. This means Lightning decks. This means decks splashing Lightning Pokémon like Raichu and Zebstrika JUST to beat it. This means Parallel Cities to limit a Bench size. None of these are particularly good against this deck. (Despite running Sky Field, this deck doesn't really suffer from Parallel City much. You just want a wide Bench available to play down extra Hoopa and Shaymin, and getting to discard them is not bad!) This is one of the better "OHKO" decks, and avoids the counter measures that would hurt other alternative decks. I mentioned how this deck has a different weakness to its attackers...Fairy, arguably the worst type in Pokémon right now, and almost entirely unsplashable.

One of the challenges with this deck is trying to optimize what all you put in it. When I first made a list of everything I wanted, the deck came out to having about 80 cards in it. I had to trim numbers and cut into some of the trainers. I wound up having to get rid of Trainers' Mail AND Puzzle of Time, despite the fact that the deck would really like both. This is another case of a deck needing a fairly demanding amount of Energy cards, and that really hurting how quick an engine it can play. 

Pokémon wise, we start with 4 Reshiram. You want to open with it, and you often want 2 to be able to use its Ability twice in the same turn. It is beefy enough to take hits, and can be a functional secondary attacker. It is the glue that holds this deck together. Next, I run a Hydreigon-EX. Hydreigon's primary role (It can attack too) is to give the deck a greatly reduced retreat cost. I've seen versions of this deck run 2 copies, and I'm not sure it is needed. You get minimal returns on a second copy in play, and space is tight. The deck still functions when it is prized. Two is probably ideal, but there is that list of about 20 cards I'd also like to run, so I'm biting the bullet on this count.


I'm running 2 Hoopa-EX and 3 Shaymin-EX. The deck is primarily Pokémon-EX, and it runs Sky Field. You can play with a wide Bench and really take advantage of how much these cards help set up. Since this deck is-EXTREMELY demanding on resources each turn, I also run a 1-1 Octillery line. I think the deck wants a thicker line, but for now, I have no idea what I'd trim for a widening.

As for the Rayquaza line, we have 3 of the Dragon type Rayquaza-EX (necessary to Reshiram onto) and 2 of the Dragon type Mega Rayquaza. You don't really need more than 2, because they are hard to power up when they go down, and we do have a Super Rod. . I'd sooner run 1 copy of the colorless Mega Rayquaza instead. This diversifies weakness (For all those Fairy decks!) but is also a lot easier to power up if you get a Mega Ray KO’d on an empty board. One Reshiram use, an attachment for the turn, and a Mega Turbo gets it up and going. Not only is it a good transitional attacker once KOs start, but it is a great option against non-EX attackers where discarding 2 Energy a turn really pressures your board advancement. The fact that the shell this deck wants to be running anyways enables an effortless splash of this Rayquaza is fantastic. Since we are not realistically every attacking turn 1 with this Rayquaza, the Trait on the Roaring Skies Mega is unnecessary, so I'm again defaulting to the Ancient Origins Secret Rare.

The Energy count is lower than I wanted, with the mandatory 4 Double Dragon Energy, 8 Fire, and only a lone Lightning Energy. I really wanted Puzzle of Times for the DDE, but couldn't make it work. The Energy is buffed up by a Professor's Letter, a Super Rod, and the re-usable Fisherman. All of these numbers could be higher, but I'll again cite the space issue.

When looking at the Trainers, pretty much look at the number, realize I want 1 more copy of everything that isn't already a 4-of, and then try and look at what you'd cut to buff those counts. I hate 1 Teammates and 1 Fisherman. The deck REALLY wants to see both cards over the course of a game, but really only exactly that copy. Sky Field at 3 is probably correct. You want to enable Hydreigon's Ability, and Sky Field is generally just good. The two Switch may not be necessary, but I like being able to use two Reshiram in a turn and then still move into an attacker. Switch gets the nod over Float Stone for exactly that reason: You want to switch between Pokémon WITHOUT actually using up your retreat for the turn.

I was trying to figure out how to adapt Water Box to a new Seismitoadless format, and it quickly dawned on me that I was looking in all the wrong places. I'd be better off just abusing Primal Kyogre, who can extremely reliably be powered up and attaching on the second turn now with a combination of Max Elixir, Mega Turbo, and its Trait. Manaphy-EX lets you retreat between them and really take full advantage of Rough Seas to keep the already tanky Kyogre from getting KO’d. 


This is a very streamlined version of the deck. I am not sure what sort of back up attackers you could want in here. Maybe Articuno is a good choice. There are other interesting Water Pokémon-EX that have a different weakness, which may be a worthwhile idea to explore.

That concludes this edition of Chris Fulop's Beachside Brews! There are so many interesting ideas to explore for this Standard and I cannot wait to see what ones end up settling down as the top tier decks!

[+10] okko


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