Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

The Four Horsemen of Standard

Chris discusses the four decks he feels are at the head of the pack in Standard.

06. 04. 2017 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone!

I want to take this article to go over the decks I currently consider to be top contenders in the Standard format, as well as some slight variations of those decks. This format is actually really wide open, with a number of decks putting up strong results around the world. That being said, I do think that certain decks are better positioned as a whole right now than others. In many cases, these opinions line up pretty well with the results being posted by the decks, and in some cases I disagree a little bit. Lets go over the archetypes briefly, with some justification of their position on this list before I go over specific lists and card choices.

1.) Decidueye/Vileplume

This is the defining deck of the format right now. Vileplume has been a card that has seen fringe yet successful play for awhile now. Last format, we saw Vileplume Vespiquen put up great results. This year, we've had Vileplume toolbox, featuring Jolteon-EX, Glaceon-EX, Regice, and other disruptive, defensive Pokémon be successful as well. Vileplume is just so disruptive to almost every deck in the format, and with Forest of Giant Plants enabling it to hit the field in one turn, even on the first turn, it can force the average deck, which is very likely to be quite dependent on Item cards, to play a majority of the game without most of their engine. In a lot of games, they see ZERO turns where they get to play Items at all! By being able to do this, Vileplume decks are able to just steal free wins off of dead drawing opponents.

The strength of Vileplume doesn't really need to be stressed, though.

Decidueye has proven to be the most impactful Pokémon-GX out of the Sun and Moon expansion. Tauros' impact is lessening as the metagame evolves, and while Lapras, Lurantis, Solgaleo, and Espeon have all seen some play, none of them can content with the shadow the Stage 2 Grass Owl Pokemon has. Decidueye keys off of Forest as well, and on the deck's best turns, you can get out a Vileplume and 2 Decidueye on your first turn! Those games are really, really difficult to lose.

Why do I feel like this is the best deck in the format? Well, I'd argue that the general consensus is also on the deck's side, and the results seem to support it as well. At the very least, the results do not disprove it. Well, I mentioned before that the deck steals games off of the strength of Vileplume's disruption. That is a major selling point. Certain decks, even if they get to go off a bit first, are just so dependent on Items that they are just very disadvantaged even if they get to play a full game.

The deck also really lets you leverage yourself over weaker players. A lot of players are not the best at playing against disruption, so a deck like Vileplume has some inherent strength there. To top it off, Decidueye is ALSO very good at forcing opportunities to outplay a weaker opponent. By being able to place damage counters all over the board, without even attacking, you can perform some great set up plays. This allows you to make some complex lines of play involving N and Lysandre (not on the same turn, kids!) that enable some great comeback wins.

That is another big point: While you can win games by having a great start, you also have more come back ability than almost any deck in the format. Decks which try and just throw haymakers each turn are powerful, but they don't really have much ability to break serve in exchange. This deck plays a totally different game plan. That is also important: Decks have to play a totally different game against this deck than they do against basically the rest of the format. That makes it difficult for decks to really adjust to combat it. Vileplume/Decidueye is the format's most disruptive deck, and it plays on a fairly differen axis than most of the metagame, and that makes it hard to adjust for. On top of this, it is great at leveraging play skill, making it a great choice for any player who takes the time to master the difficult to play deck.

2.) Mega Rayquaza

Okay, lets be honest, every one who has read my articles in the past 2 years or so knows how much I love this card. It may honestly be my favorite card ever printed. That being said, bias aside, the deck has been putting up good results, and a lot of other players seem to be pretty high on the archetype at the moment.

I like this deck because it is the single most powerful deck in the format. It is the most proactive deck in the format, and is a solid favorite against most "fair" decks in the format. If you do not play against Item denial, Ability denial, Parallel City, or Lightning Pokemon, you are just going to be a very strong favorite. The deck is more than able to combat Item and Ability denial, and it can deal well enough with Parallel City as well. Lightning Pokemon, as a whole, are quite bad at the moment, so that isn't a major concern. While the deck has a lot of free wins against the average deck, it is also competitive against those decks which are suited to fight it. I'm not going to pretend that Vileplume and Garbodor do not making up a large portion of the metagame, or that many decks run a few Parallel Cities. Those are all major pillars of this format, but they do not making Rayquaza roll over either. (I realize now that Giratina-EX was left out of this discussion...that is a card which you do more or less roll over to, though!)

I mentioned before that Decidueye and Vileplume are really dictating the direction the metagame is headed, and in order to deal with the disruption of the deck, you'll see more and more decks adjust to beat it. In almost any format, as the metagame gets inbred to deal with specific decks, it usually opens up the format for the default "most powerful" deck to thrive, especially when that deck isn't particularly weak to the big deck with the bullseye on it's forehead. In this case, I believe that Rayquaza is very much competitive with Vileplume Decidueye.

3.) Mega Mewtwo

Let me start by saying that I dislike this archetype. I can't even put a finger on why: I know it is good, I respect the deck, and I encourage people who want to use it to do so. I just dislike playing it, and don't see myself choosing to use it in the future either.

Mewtwo is now the best Garbodor deck in the format. Yveltal is just not good enough anymore. It struggles against Vileplume Decidueye: The deck doesn't need to attach many energy, weakening Evil Ball. Yveltal BKT is rather anemic in a format thriving with GX, and not EX, Pokemon. Darkrai decks are either no longer running Garbodor and focusing on speed, or they are pairing the deck with Giratina-EX and Salamence-EX and Double Dragon Energy.

Mewtwo is great because it is powerful, disruptive, and most importantly stable. It isn't as powerful as Mega Rayquaza, but the damage output is still very high. Unlike Rayquaza, you do get to play Garbodor which is absolutely well positioned in this format. It is interesting against Vileplume, where it comes down to a race between getting a Tool onto the Trubbish and Vileplume coming out. The Vileplume deck does have the ability to still answer Garbodor, but it is a challenge. Mewtwo is also competitive with Mega Rayquaza because it runs Garbodor, and Parallel City, and hits hard enough to OHKO a Mega Rayquaza under reasonable conditions.

One of Mega Rayquaza's biggest issues is that while it is extremely powerful, it requires a lot of moving parts. You need a full bench, and a Stadium card out to do your damage. Mewtwo functions really well even when you are facing down disruption. The deck is more powerful than a lot of decks. It plays well in the face of disruption. It offers strong disruption. It is just a very well rounded deck that is hard to exploit, and that makes it a very strong choice. (Even if I hate it.)

4.) Darkrai

Darkrai is another deck that has put up great results recently, even though I do feel like it's standing is slipping a little bit. It is a fast, powerful deck that also is pretty resilient to disruption. Prior to Sun and Moon's release, I would even argue that it was the de facto best deck in the format. Darkrai has three different potential builds, all of which have different strengths. You can play it in a very streamlined build. You can pair it with Double Dragon Energy and Salamence and Giratina. Finally, you can play it with Garbodor.

Darkrai has game against Vileplume/Decidueye, and Mewtwo. It is an underdog against Mega Rayquaza, but it isn't a hopeless matchup either. Alright, finally, I want to list off the decks which are viable, but not something I really don't like the position of at the moment. In other words, this is the section that will just anger people who like these decks, but oh well.

Yveltal/Garbodor: It is a worse Garbodor deck than Mewtwo, and a worse aggressive deck than Darkrai. As EXes become GXes, Yveltak ( BKT ) weakens, and the deck loses a lot due to that.

Lapras/Waterbox: This deck suffers from being weak to Grass Pokemon... such as Decidueye. I actually have been a fan of how the deck plays, it just struggles both against Owls, and Mega Rayquaza which can OHKO most of it's threats. It'll be interesting to see what impact Aqua Patch has on this deck... on one hand, the card is incredible, but the deck already has energy acceleration with Max Elixir and Exp. Share, and the reasons it isn't better positioned is not due to a lack of this. Aqua Patch makes the deck better, for sure, but it doesn't really address what keeps it from being tier 1.

Volcanion: Volcanion was a deck I really wanted to like, it is powerful and proactive, and it should be really good against Decidueye. Unfortunately, it isn't as good against Decidueye as you'd think (don't worry, it is still favored!) and it is pretty poor against Rayquaza and Mewtwo. 

Vespiquen: Vespiquen was a really powerful deck, but it is pretty poor against Decidueye Vileplume. That is enough to make me want to avoid it.

Greninja: Another deck that just really got hammered by the emergence of Decidueye. The deck was already closely competitive with much of the metagame in the format, and just tossing a near auto loss onto the pile is pretty muc a backbreaker.

Lurantis: Be it with Vileplume, Solgaleo, or any other shell, Lurantis decks have seen mild amounts of play. I'm just not totally sold on the card. I think the most appealing of them to me would be alongside Solgaleo, as Solgaleo at least offers the deck another powerful attacker as I just don't feel like Lurantis GX alone is enough to carry a tier 1 deck. Pairing it with Vileplume is dubious now as well, as all of the decks in the format adjust towards dealing with Vileplume Decidueye. The splash hate you suffer there is too much. I think the card is good, I just haven't seen a DECK with it yet that I think checks off all the right boxes.

Mega Gardevoir: I've seen a bit of a resurgence of this deck lately, but I'm not really sold on it. I just think it plays a bit too fair for my liking. It is also really, really bad against Mega Rayquaza. (I was amused to see on Facebook that Rahul Reddy conceded the finals of his League Cup because he "didn't want to waste 40 minutes" losing to Rayquaza in the finals with his Gardevoir, if you want an addication of the matchup.) It is nice in that it handles disruption fairly well, and is very consistent. I feel like Gardevoir is almost always a metagame call...there are too many decks I honestly dislike it against, and I feel like you have to pick your spots when using it.

Now, lets look over the lists for the decks I like:

Alright, so this isn't too far off course from a fairly stock Vileplume Decidueye list, but I do want to go over the numbers anyways.

4-4-3 Decidueye: The stock list is 4-4-4, and I've even experimented with a 3-3-3 line (I don't hate it, but you have to compensate by giving the deck something else to do offensively because you do lose a bit of Owl oomph. More on this in a bit.) The 4th Decidueye is nice, but not mandatory, especially not with 2 copies of Revitalizer. You rarely get out more than 3 of these guys in a game, and in spots where the lost copy could be obtained but can't be because you only run 3, I can't imagine how many times it is the difference between a win and a loss.

2-2-2 Vileplume: This feels thin to me but it is pretty common place. A thicker line would make it easier to get out on the first turn, but that is a price you have to pay. I've had a fundamental discussion about the merits of chasing Owls vs Flowers as a set up priority, and how that should impact the counts of the Pokemon, and while I think there could be more focus on the Vileplume line, I've been happy with these numbers.

3 Shaymin-EX: Shaymin is necessary to help this deck get it's best starts. It is somewhat awkward in that benching multiple Shaymin ends up eating into your Decidueye bench slots, but this deck can actually use Sky Return fairly well. You still get Owl damage each turn, so "only" doing 30 damage is not a major issue. I've seen a lot of players put off taking opportunities to reset their Shaymins during games, and I think that is a mistake.

2 Lugia-EX: Lugia is just a great attacker in this deck. It is a cheap attacker and is great for answering any quick threat most decks drop before you cut off their Items. It is low maintenance and can usually trade even with an EX or GX while you set up your Owls. Beyond this, doing 150 damage... alongside proper Owl a very very powerful sweeper if the game progresses in a way where you can power it up. I feel like 2 of these is the perfect number, and I don't think I'd ever want to go below that count.

1 Meowth: This is the "flex" spot in the deck, Pokémon wise. I've had it be Meowth, I've had it be a Tauros, and I've had it be a Beedrill. Tauros was oddly underwhelming...well, at least I am fine with just running Lugia over it. Beedrill-EX is pretty much exclusively an "answer" to Garbodor, in that you can rip off Tools from it once you get Vileplume in play and they can't reactivate their Ability afterwards because they can't re-attach a Tool. It was just such a narrow application... you needed to lose the Garb/Plume race, then get Beedrill out, then get to attack with it, then also still win the game. It looked really good at times, but it just so rarely got used. It is also nice because you can just rip Float Stones off of potential Lysandre targets, which is nice. I actually run 3 Lysandre in this deck, so that type of play is pretty common. Tearing a Stone off a Hoopa, or a Dragonite, or honestly anything with a big retreat cost sets up so many brutal turns. While Beedrill synergizes with that game plan, so does Meowth. Meowth does 50 damage for a DCE to anything with damage...which you control with Decidueye.

This increases the clock drastically every time you get to "stall" with a defensive Lysandre. On top of that, it is a non-EX Pokémon that gives you a "7th" prize option. Often you end up sacrificing a Vileplume for that purpose, as you continue Owl Abilities, but with Meowth, you continue to apply additional pressure.

This is also a reasonable compromise because Meowth is pretty good against Garbodor as well! On your first turn, if you get out a Decidueye and Meowth, you can drop 20 damage on a Trubbish then snipe it for the KO with Meowth. It isn't as reliable as Beedrill, but it is a soft answer to Garbodor while not also being totally useless most games.

4 Double Colorless Energy: Moving on...

3 Grass Energy: This allows you to attack with either of Decidueye's attacks. 90 for GCC isn't a great rate, but it is more than threatening after their Pokemon are already softened up. The fact that it paired with one Ability use threatens a KO on a Shaymin EX is nice too. One Decidueye can also two hit a Mega Rayquaza, so if they can't keep a full bench, you can go toe to toe with it. 3 feels like the perfect amount in this deck. Decidueye's GX attack is actually awesome as well. The games get grindy and very positional, so getting back cards your opponent may be fighting over depleting is very strong. I really like saving it for the late game where you can N both players to a small hand size and then assure you recover whatever cards you need for your post N game plan. You don't have VS Seeker obviously, so getting back Lysandres is pretty important here. It also helps to mitigate the fact that you do only run 7 total Energy cards.

3 Sycamore/4 N: I spent a majority of my games testing this with 4 Sycamore and 4 N. I wanted to add a Skyla to this mix, and had to cut one of the cards. I wound up choosing to trim Sycamore, mainly because I feel like you play from behind so much that you want to play multiple N as the game goes on, where as Sycamore isn't as useful as it is only a draw card. N is early game draw and powerful mid to late game disruption (you can use N alongside your Sky Return turns to assure you draw into a viable hand) so it gets the nod for the 4 spot.

1 Skyla: There were a few things I didn't like about the deck, and that was mainly that I REALLY wanted more copies of Forest of Giant Plants in the deck. This is a "5th" copy (it grabs Forest way more than anything else in the deck). Once you get Forest, your Items and Shaymins can generally give you a pretty strong turn even if you don't get a full draw Supporter for it. Also, I wasn't too comfortable with just 2 Float Stones, and this is a bit of a hedge for that.

3 Lysandre: 2 is stock, but I love the 3rd copy. I wasn't thrilled with going with 3 Decidueye GX, but in order to fit the 3rd Lysandre I was willing to do it. Not only do you want to be able to kill benched Pokemon...this isn't Greninja where once set up it takes almost no time at all to kill anything you want with Abilities. You often need to do the work with attacks too. On top of that, I mentioned how I love disrupting set ups by bringing up Pokemon with no energy in hopes of buying time and sniping around them without facing pressure. On top of this, decks are playing Wobbuffet...this lets you escape a t1 Wobbuffet, or pick it off from the bench. If they leave a Wobbuffet up, you can try to bench it and snipe it off while they work to retreat whatever you yoinked up. I think 3 is just too strong in this deck to settle for only a pair.

4 Forest of Giant Plants: Judges don't like me running the 6 I'd like to play...

4 Trainers' Mail/4 Ultra Ball/3 Level Ball: This is your Item draw engine, and it does a good job of getting you a bunch of Grass Pokemon out early. The 4th Level Ball is a bit redundant, and you are tight on space. I tried Timer Ball, and it was actually pretty good. I'd consider it over the 3rd Level Ball, especially if you are running a different attacker besides Meowth, which Level Ball gets you. I'd love to be able to fit Acro Bikes, and I honestly want to try a build that goes with a 3-3-3 Owl line to help fit in 4 Acro Bike to see just how much better your starts end up being. With Revitalizer and Decidueye's GX attack, the lost resources are pretty manageable actually.

2 Revitalizer: A bit of a necessary evil to get your lines back. I am still not totally convinced you need a 2nd copy, but I'm not willing to risk deviating from the norm on this yet. Maybe with the Skyla it is more defensible. Not only do you Sycamore/Ultra Ball away line pieces at times, but you end up getting Vileplume killed, either by Lysandre, or by sacrificing it. You end up with a "second" Item turn mid or late game a lot when you momentarily wind up without a Vileplume, and you can immediately get it back. Also, you run into Wobbuffet/Garbodor/Hex Maniac enough that you do get turns worth of Items.

2 Float Stone: I'd like 3, but Skyla works for this kind of. You really want to get one on your Vileplume because otherwise retreating it is a HUGE challenge with how few energy you run. You usually end up just letting it die while doing Ability damage. With Meowth, I'd really like to see the Float Stone to get it active early to pressure low HP Pokemon though.

Now lets go over some cards I'm not running that are interesting, which also didn't really get discussed in the above.

1 Wobbuffet: I believe I first saw this in a Vespiquen/Vileplume Expanded list, but the game plan is that you put a Float Stone on your own Wobbuffet so that you can promote it between KOs so you can use all of your own Items, only to then retreat it and re-lock the opponent for their turn. The problem with this is that you leave yourself open for Lysandre to really wreck your day...and one Lysandre to bring up Wobbuffet then leads to VS Seekers and...well you can see how that snowballs. That being said, they are locked into promoting a non-EX they don't really want to KO, while also using their Supporter each turn. If you want to try this, I do recommend a 3rd Float Stone. One reason I'm really looking at it now is that it has to be pretty good in Decidueye mirror match! It locks them off of Shaymin, and it forces them to Lysandre around it to use Owl abilities. You can use all your Abilities, and play all your Items, and then promote your Wobbuffet and force them to react. Alongside N, this seems really tough for them to deal with. Plus, if you go first, rather than trying to Vileplume them, you can focus your efforts on Owls, and leverage your Wobbuffet as disruption instead.

Jolteon-EX/Glaceon/Regice/Rainbow Energy: I was thinking about this the other day...and I haven't gotten around to actually playing with it at all yet, but it doesn't seem totally unreasonable to switch Grass Energy into Rainbow Energy ( Likely adding a 4th ) and running these disruptive attackers that were so popular in the Vileplume Toolbox builds. This was what I was hinting at when I mentioned only running a 3-3-3 Decidueye line...I don't mind doing it when you can to run another viable strategy within the deck. Regice in particular is really appealing as it is your "7th prize" and even the paralysis attack is really good when opponents can't use Items to break it, and the extra turn is just more Ability damage. Jolteon, and to a less extent the Water attackers, are also pretty good against Volcanion, which can be a bit of a problem otherwise. Regice is also good against Mewtwo, and Rayquaza, both decks I feel are very competitive against this deck. To make this work, you can trim the Decidueye line, but also go with 1 Lugia and no Meowth.

3-3 Mega Rayquaza: This is pretty much the settled on correct count now.

4 Shaymin-EX: Also standard. Shaymin-EX is just so good in this deck.

2 Hoopa-EX: I'm finally content with just 2, but I still would love to fit a 3rd copy. The deck just always wants it turn 1, and it is so good for recovering from Parallel City ( Or even just any counter stadium for that matter. )

2 Dragonite-EX: Well, I was just starting to be content with 2 copies of this card, and I was a bit annoyed with how poorly it interacts with Garbodor, but you really need 2 copies against Vileplume, as its your best means to re-fill your bench every time they Forest away your Sky Field. It is annoying in that matchup because a lot of games devolve in a way where they force you to use Dragonite to keep up with KOs, only to then Lysandre it up with a dumb, awful 3 retreat cost. This is one of the reasons I am running Manaphy EX, a card I am otherwise not too big a fan of. One thing I end up doing in that matchup a lot is actually putting energy pre-emptively onto a Dragonite EX. The attack isn't terrible at all, so it isn't a wasted attachment, but it also makes Lysandre'ing it dubious. They don't run a ton of energy, so you can actually make good use of this card as an offensive threat.

1 Manaphy-EX: You need more Pokemon on your bench, and this really is mainly to allow you to not getting picked apart by Lysandres against Vileplume. It has it's fringe uses as well, but that is it's main role. I actually went aggressive with it before too. I had my opponent try the "sacrifice a Vileplume" plan, and I just put 2 Water on Manaphy and started healing off my bench. It won't come up often, but I've used the attack.

1 Wobbuffet: Hey look, more Decidueye tech! If you can get this guy benched, you just need to buy a turn or two of Items over the span of a game. One Rayquaza goes a long way against Decidueye, and just a little bit of freedom on Items is enough to swing games. This is one of the rare decks that can comfortably OHKO a Decidueye, so you just need to set up at all, and then not get destroyed by Ns, or get something stuck off of Lysandre. Between Wobbuffet and Manaphy, this build is well positioned to avoid the latter two problems. The matchup is pretty good if you get an early turn of Items at all. Going first the matchup is favorable, but unfavorable going 2nd. Its too difficult to set up under Item Lock going 2nd if they hit turn 1 Plume. I've heard conflicting reports of the odds of getting the t1 Plume...I've heard 60% thrown around, but I've also been doing a lot of testing with 2005 National Champion and swell guy Seena Ghaziaskar, and after 150+ games hes giving me the number at just under 40%...( Masochist has been keeping stats on his games. ) With Wobbuffet and Manaphy, I feel like the matchup is about 60-40 in favor of Rayquaza. It gets better the more Supporters you end up adding.

4 DCE: Standard

5 Water Energy: You just want to hit your energy drops with this deck...This helps under Item or Ability lock where your draw power is hindered, and it also lets you have more comfortable turn 1s, where you just want to see an energy and a Hoopa EX more or less. Hitting your attachment and then ending your turn with a Mega Evolution is going to account for most of your turn 1s. I wouldn't mind a 6th Energy even, but it may be overkill and I'm unsure what else I'd cut for it.

2 N/2 Sycamore/2 Skyla: These are your draw Supporters, and I'm pretty locked in on these. Skyla is oddly your best turn 1 Supporter, followed by N. Sycamore is just too necessary LATE game. This deck's early game is actually extremely consistent, but once it starts eating Ns while under Item or Ability lock, it suffers. I wouldn't hate a 3rd Sycamore just for late game power, and how useful it is against Vileplume decks going 2nd.

2 Lysandre: Standard, although I wouldn't hate a third. It just is too hard to fit more.

1 Hex Maniac: Not as useful as Greninja is non-existance, and Volcanion is on the decline. MAY be cuttable, but it isn't bad against Vileplume Owls at all, even if our losses come from failure to set up more than anything else. 4 VS Seeker/4 Ultra Ball/4 Sky Field: Pretty stanard, not going further into it.

3 Trainers' Mail: I want 4, but the 4th became the 6th draw Supporter. The starting point for the "Raichu-less Rayquaza" build I'm using now was actually with 1 Volcanion-EX to try and get the 1st turn Emerald Break, and I had 4 Mail...then I cut Volcanion for Manaphy and the Mail for a Sycamore.

3 Mega Turbo: I was on 2 for awhile, accepting that I was just getting my first Rayquaza the manual way, but I went up to 3 with the re-addition of Trainers' Mail. I'm not even sure this is necessary, but I'm staying at the number for now.

2 Rayquaza Spirit Link: The 3rd one became Wobbuffet. Since the first Rayquaza usually comes from ending your first turn, 2 is fine with Puzzles and Skyla. It is a bit unfortunate because I like to sneak one of these in on the first turn against Vileplume if possible as that is one of the more annoying problems. You really do need to get 2 Rayquaza out in the matchup, and a lot of times I'll spend my first two turns just evolving them before applying pressure.

2 Float Stone/1 Escape Rope: I had 3 Float Stone because of Wobbuffet, and just wanting to get quicker starts in general. With Puzzles, and Skyla, and needing a way to deal with Regice/Glaceon EX/Espeon GX's confusion, etc, the 1 Rope was too good in the deck. Its also nice because a lot of decks are running 1 Wobbuffet and this resets that. Its also a sort of Lysandre in spots where decks try and feed you a baby Volcanion/Yveltal/etc to force that 7thprize out of you.

3 Puzzle of Time: Fine. I saved this for last. Okay, so the deck needed space freed up. I started thinking back to my games...I almost NEVER manage to pair off all 4 Puzzles. You just need additional DCE and Sky Fields...with 3 Puzzle, you can still net one pair, with 1 left over to "burn" or prize over a game. If you are looking to just recycle the same card, or be conservative, you can just Puzzle for one card plus one of the Puzzles, and still get two "uses" out of it all. Not only did I never MANAGE to pair these twice often, but I equally rarely NEEDED to. I actually tried a build without the performed better against Vileplume, and I was really happy...until I started testing against Garbodor decks with Parallel City, and quickly realized those matchups got so much worse without them. Also, I was running into issues where I couldn't get out a 3rd Mega, since Dragonite doesn't help recovering that.

As for cards I didn't play but am considering still...

Volcanion-EX: If I wanted to focus on a fast build of the deck, I'd use Volcanion EX over Manaphy. It really did smooth out the starts of my game, but it got replaced because I needed to address the new boogie man of the format better.

Magearna-EX: I see a lot of people use this card, but I just don't feel like there are enough threats that it prevents to make me like it over Manaphy. Regice: I actually like this card now that we're running Water Energy. It is really good against Darkrai and Mewtwo, and it also is a non-ex in matchups it matters. Also it is your 7th prize.

Espeon-GX: I was talking with Seena about this card... it is good against Mewtwo. It is a quick attacker. It's GX attack kills a Garbodor (the MAIN reason I like it... even if it ends up eating a Mewtwo KO in the process). It can confuse Giratina-EX, plus attackers in Plume decks. Its good, but takes up some space. Seena and I wound up souring on it, but today I saw a FB post where Jose Marrero wound up winning a local event with Rayquaza using Espeon-GX... so I am now re-evaluating it after discarding it last week.

Jolteon-EX: I don't like running this card in this deck, but I figure its a card people associate as an option, so I'll list it. Its hard to power up, doesn't answer enough of the "problems" the deck faces, and unlike Regice, it is an EX.

Jirachi: Not enough special energy decks at the moment. One of the other big problems is that "stalling" with this isn't really the deck's MO.

3rd Hoopa-EX: Addressed before.

Oranguru: I keep losing games to obnoxious late game Ns, but whenever I actually ran this card, it never did anything for me. I want to like this card, I was really high on it in theory, but I've been unimpressed by it.

Unown: As anti-protection, I actually think I prefer Unown to Oranguru still. It is also very good with Dragonite EX. This is also semi relevent now, but it also works while under Wobbuffet lock as it is a Psychic type.

Mewtwo/Fighting Fury Belt: This is a pairing that is a bit out there, but I was testing against Mewtwo, and trying to figure out if I could improve the matchup a bit after a cold streak in the matchup.  I did a best of 9 against Seena, and I went 7-2, but the next day struggled with an 0-3 start, so who knows. I was tilted enough to think of this little gimmick again.) The idea being that Mewtwo with a Belt does 220 damage against a Mega Mewtwo with 4 Energy on it (the amount needed to OHKO a Mega Rayquaza that is attacking). Fury Belt is otherwise quite bad...I guess it isn't terrible on a Rayquaza-EX in some cases...and it does take Shaymin or Manaphy up to a reasonable HP count so they are less of a Lysandre target...and Mewtwo is otherwise anemic on it's own although with 130 HP it can actually put some real pressure on a Giratina-EX which the deck needs answers for.

4th Puzzle: Yeah yeah yeah...still in consideration! ( Shocker, right? )

4th Trainers' Mail

3rd Rayquaza Spirit Link: Yes I am basically just listing off the cards I trimmed... 

6th Water Energy

Teammates: I cut the Teammates for the 2 Skyla and the additional draw Supporters as they are a bit better in the early game, but I think the Teammates is my 61st card.

3-3 Mega Mewtwo/4 Spirit Link: I normally like a 4-3/4 count, but to fit the Wobbuffet in I went to 3 Mewtwo-EX. (I have to give due credit to Seena for a lot of the Mewtwo tweakings, as he has been the one playing the deck, while I play against it.)

2-2 Garbodor: I opted away from the growing in popularity 2-1 line, both because it was already a gamble...admittedly a defensible game, but a game none the less...and because of Vileplume. Nothing sucks like sticking a Tool on Trubbish only to either prize a Garbodor or not draw into it because you are locked off of Items. I think the emergence of Vileplume as a format defining threat makes a 2-1 Garbodor line strictly incorrect now.

2 Shaymin-EX/1 Hoopa-EX: Standard.

1 Wobbuffet: This was originally added to just deal with Vileplume, to buy time to get out a Garbodor or re-establish a Garbodor. What ended up happening was that the card just performed well overall. I wound up constantly harassed by Wobbuffet promotions. It can come out turn 1, and slow an opponent's set up. It can just buy time while you get out Garbodor. It is just a very annoying stop gap between Garbodors too. It also can be used as an attacker too, albeit rarely. None of these reasons are useful enough to play the card just for that, but it ended up a counter to Vileplume that then actually wound up being useful in a lot of assorted scenarios.

6 Psychic/4 DCE: Honestly would prefer 7/4, but with the Super Rod in the list, 6/4 is fine to me.

4 Sycamore/3 N: The deck gets 7 Draw Supporters, and the deck is a bit more aggressive, so Sycamore gets the preference here.

2 Lysandre: Standard.

4 VS Seeker/4 Ultra Ball/4 Trainers' Mail: Standard

2 Parallel City/2 Shrine of Memory: The prior stock lists were all dropping down to a 1/2 count on these, and I dislike only running 1 Parallel City. Rayquaza is gaining in popularity and the card is really important in that matchup. It is also strong against Volcanion ( which is admittedly in decline) and has some value against Decidueye. It is also good against Mega Gardevoir, which is gaining in popularity, although I have no idea how you aim to win that matchup anyways. Shrine of Memory is a card I've never been too high on, but it is still strong in the right matchups. It forces Decidueye to play a very different game, and can be really obnoxious against decks that fall just short of OHKOs. Even though you rarely get to pull off great plays with it, the threat of Shrine makes opponents play around it, and that is great in and of itself.

1 Super Rod: With 6 Energy, and 3 Mewtwo-EX, Super Rod is a necessity even if we are also at 2-2 Garbodor.

4 Mega Turbo: Too good not to max out on this card.

3 Float Stone: Important with Wobbuffet and Garbodor. I've looked at 2 copies and either an Olympia or an Escape Rope too, since it would still leave us with 6 Tools for Garbodor. Olympia works under Item Lock, and is also re- usable. Being able to get out of status conditions is important too, especially is Espeon trends up. Escape Rope is trickier and also gets out of status conditions and can be used to deal with dumb stuff like Regice which can otherwise be a real problem for the deck.

As for exclusions... honestly, Mega Mewtwo has been pretty stable in it's list for a long time now. Not much has evolved and the deck only has a few flex spots to begin with. The biggest "option" to include would be Espeon-GX, but that isn't going to fit with Wobbuffet and the thicker Garbodor line. I think you either focus on improving your Decidueye matchup or run Espeon, and with the meta shaping up how is, I can't fathom picking Espeon right now.

So I'm personally partial to the Darkrai build that runs Double Dragon Energy and Giratina EX. I think that "Darkrai" and this build are pretty comparable in most matchups as a whole, although this has a much better game against Rayquaza, which I do consider to be a deck to beat. I feel like Salamence is a great weapon against Rayquaza and Mewtwo, and can also just catch a sloppy opponent off guard with a huge burst of damage.

3 Darkrai-EX: A traditional Darkrai list runs 4 copies of this, but with the other attackers, 3 is totally fine here.

2 Giratina-EX: This is your secondary attacker, or your primary one in a lot of matchups. It is great against Rayquaza and Vespiquen if it shows up. Against Mega Mewtwo, if you can lock them off of Garbodor, they really struggle to kill it.

2 Shaymin-EX/1 Hoopa-EX: Again, the standard Shaymin/Hoopa count for most of these EX decks.

1 Salamence-EX: Great against EX decks. It either punishes them if they walk into it, or have to play into it, or the threat of it really forces them to make subpar plays.

2 Yveltal: Your "7th prize" and energy acceleration. It is also a generally solid attacker! 130 HP is tough to chew through, and both attacks are good. Darkrai is often just shy of OHKOs on a lot of higher HP Pokemon, and Oblivion Wing provides nice set up shots.

1 Wobbuffet: Well, you can tell that I'm basically jamming this in every deck. I am pretty sure that is correct if the deck can at all support it, too. I don't want to roll over to Vileplume.

9 Darkness Energy/4 Double Dragon Energy: 4 DDE is mandatory and normally the deck runs 10 Darkness, but with the Super Rod, I'm fine with 9. (The 10th went and became the Wobbuffet.)

4 Sycamore/2 N: With 4 Mail, and a generally sleek build in general, I'm fine with 6 draw Supporters here.

2 Lysandre: Standard

1 Olympia: With Exp. Share, and Fighting Fury Belts, the deck wants to be able to actually switch and Float Stone isn't always an option. This is re-usable, and also works under Item Lock. I generally dislike this card but its good here.

4 VS Seeker/4 Ultra Ball: Standard

4 Trainers' Mail: I've had people tell me to trim 1 for the 3rd N, but I don't like that. This is a very aggressive deck, and it wants to hit Max Elixirs early. I want to enable that. I'll skew the list towards being more all-in early than I would with most decks.

4 Max Elixir: Also standard.

2 Parallel City: You need a counter stadium, even more so than normal because you can lock people off of their desired stadium with Chaos Wheel. Also, it is just backbreaking against Rayquaza.

1 Super Rod: With 9 Energy, I want this. Also, the deck has a wider array of attackers, so being able to re-use some of them is useful. It also is important towards re-establishing a higher energy density late game for Elixirs and has more impact than an extra Dark in those spots.

2 Float Stone/1 Escape Rope: Previous builds ran a ton of Ropes both to be disruptive and because the deck overloads you with Tools at times. In this case, the presence of Vileplume (and your own Wobbuffet) gives so extra value to Float Stone.

2 Exp. Share: You want a high density of Energy in play at all times, and this is a cheap way to maintain that. Its too good not to play a few copies.

2 Fighting Fury Belt: This card is also great because you want your gives to live so that you do not lose energy and push towards that critical mass of damage. ( You know, beyond the normal reasons you want your guys to live. ) Unfortunately, this is already 6 Tools, and while I do want a 3rd Belt, I can't fit it.

As for cards I would like to fit...

10th Darkness Energy: It was standard in here for a reason. 9 is fine, but 10 is still optimal

3rd N: Same idea. With Mail, and a list skewed to combat Item Lock to make up for the lower Supporter count, 2 is fine, but the 3rd is still optimal. 

3rd Fighting Fury Belt: Beating a dead horse here.

2nd Escape Rope: Because you really do not want to retreat with this deck, the extra switching cards are important. I think 4 is fine when one is an Olympia for re-use, but this is on my radar.

Hex Maniac: If I can't fit a Garbodor line (I can't) this isn't a bad addition. I think I like the Wobbuffet better though. If Volcanion or Greninja were bigger this would probably be mandatory though.

FINALLY I want to go over a deck I want to test. This is totally experimental and an idea I had the other night, so you'll have to accept that this is theoretical at best. Having gone over 4 of the more documented decks, I figure I may as well mix things up with something out of left field.

I decided to try and make a hybrid Volcanion Mega Rayquaza deck.

Okay, so this all started when I thought about my Mega Rayquaza build with a Volcanion-EX in it. I got throttled by a Vespiquen deck and thought half jokingly: I could add a Volcanion and with the EX's ability OHKO Vespiquen! From there I starte thinking about how a decent Volcanion presence could maybe help against Decidueye too! It kept going and going from there, until I decided I'd try and just fit a Volcanion line into Rayquaza...this was, of course, overlooking how I would have no where NEAR enough Fire Energy for the package to be at all useful. That was when the game plan shifted more to "fit a Rayquaza package into Volcanion"... I mean, Elixir can still go on a Rayquaza-EX. Plus, you can threaten to power them up with baby Volcanion... I decided to try a 2-2 Mega Rayquaza line. 2 Spirit Link should suffice. You can still get one out pretty quickly due to Hoopa-EX. Or you can focus more on Volcanion! I feel like the build is reasonably suited for both. Now I'm not going to pretend that this is going to be able to play a full Volcanion or a full Rayquaza isn't. You WILL have to embrace both aspects of the deck over a full game. I think theres enough overlap in both set ups to make that work though!

I played a few games with the deck, and it actually played rather well! It is far from perfect, don't get me wrong...I'm tweaking the numbers still. I'm not going to say that its better than just playing one or the other...but it is really, really fun to play. It is something different if you are bored of playing the same old established archetypes. ( So hey, instead, play two at once! )

Also, this time, I am pretty certain I even read Volcanion-EX right (I'm looking at you Incineroar GX!...honestly surprised I didn't get made fun of more for that one).



[+16] okko

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