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Franco Takahashi

A New Look at the New Standard

Now that the new season arrived, Franco looks through some of the popular archetypes in the standard format and analyzes their strengths and weaknesses.

10/03/2017 by Franco Takahashi

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Introduction

Hello 60 cards readers, this is Franco. Now that the 2018 season has started and rotation is now in effect, I’d like to go over six archetypes in the new standard format that are doing well so far.

My intention is for this article to serve as a guideline for upcoming standard format events to understand what decks are currently out there.

But first, I’d like to go over once again, how rotation has changed and affected the the current format. This can provide a better understanding of the changes in the game and how they affect deckbuilding. 

Rotation

 

First, I’d like to go over how rotation has affected decks in general. With the loss of VS Seeker, decks don't have the same consistency as before in terms of draw power. Since VS Seeker is gone, you need to play more draw supporters, in order to bump up your draw engine or play a thicker line of Tapu Lele-GX, and/or cards like Octillery or Oranguru. However, even then it seems that dead drawing can still happen to many decks in the new format.

Dead drawing happens more often due to the fact that a lot of the meta decks are becoming more stage-2 oriented or running multiple evolutions, which it makes the deck slightly clunky along with the lack of VS Seeker. In addition to this, the lack of VS Seeker also affects the use of tech supporters. With VS Seeker in the format, once the supporter was sent to the discard pile, you were able to use those supporter cards with VS Seeker at the right time, and you were able to execute your strategy more efficiently, such as playing Hex Maniac at the right timing to shut off abilities on a crucial turn or even supporters like Ninja Boy and Acerola. Now, you need to run more tech supporters to ensure you'll have them at the right time.

As a result, this means you’ll be using more slots in your deck dedicated to consistency, but in exchange, you lose space for tech attackers, making your deck less flexible.

Another meaningful card that left the format is Hex Maniac. This has helped decks that rely on strong abilities such as Metagaross-GX, Vikavolt, Gardevoir-GX, among others. Losing Hex Maniac made the format more favorable for ability-based decks, since now there are only a few cards in the format that can shut down abilities like Garbodor,  Alolan Muk, and Greninja with its Shadow Stitching attack.

Gardevoir GX

 

Gradevoir had huge success recently at the 2017 World Championships, proving its strength as an archetype. It requires some time to set up the board completely, but with Gardevoir’s Secret Spring ability, you can attach more fairy energies the more Gardevoir in play. In combination with Double Colorless Energy and Choice Band, you can swing for 180 damage or more on average. The deck also can play cards like Max Potion and Acerola to deny prizes while remaining aggressive, due to its energy acceleration.

Overall, the deck’s capacity to take easy knockouts is something really attractive. The deck’s strategy remains the same for most matchups: set up your board by evolving into multiple Gardevoir-GX to accelerate energy and apply pressure with its 230 HP and high damage output.

However due to loss of VS Seeker, the deck can be clunky sometimes in the setup process. Two other key losses for Gardevoir after rotation definitely are Hex Maniac and Wonder Energy. The loss of Hex Maniac for Gardevoir makes certain matchups harder such as Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX and Metagross-GX. Being able to Hex Maniac to make your opponent lose a momentum was a significant match-swinging card.

In addition to Hex Maniac, losing Wonder Energy was also another very important card for Gardevoir. Wonder Energy protected from effects that can disrupt you like Espeon-EX’s Miraculous Shine, where it devolves your Pokemon, and Righteous Edge from Drampa-GX that discards your Double Colorless Energy. Wonder Energy also protected against Espeon-GX's Divide GX and Psybeam attacks, as well as Greninja's Shadow Stiching.

In the end, due to the lack of VS Seeker, the deck seems to have a little hard time hitting cards like Field Blower or some of the key cards to deal with Garbotoxin Garbodor, not to mention that it has an even harder matchup versus Metagross-GX.

But overall, the deck is still strong once it manages to setup and hits the right cards at the right time, so I think this archetype will stick around in the format, as long as the meta isn’t metal heavy.

Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX

 

Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX is another archetype that seems to be strong in the new standard format. As many of you know, the deck relies heavily on Vikavolt’s Strong Charge ability to energy accelerate from the deck and utilize different attackers like Tapu Bulu-GX, Tapu Koko, and Tapu Koko-GX. Since the deck has nice acceleration once it’s setup, you can tech other attackers into the deck as well, which is one of the nice aspects of the deck.

The deck’s basic strategy is pretty simple: you set up Vikavolt so you can accelerate energy to your attackers, then you can utilize cards like Tapu Koko early in the game to spread 20 damage across the board to set up knockouts against high HP GX Pokemon.

Another nice thing about Vikavolt and Tapu Koko is that since you already have multiple lightining energies in the deck to accelerate, you can also charge up Tapu Koko for its Electric Ball attack which is pretty useful against Pokemon that have lightning weakness (Ho-oh-GX, for example). Once Vikavolt is set up, the main attacker, Tapu Bulu-GX, comes in with Nature’s Judgment that can swing from 120 or 180 damage and up to 210 damage with Choice Band.

With Hex Maniac out of the standard format, Vikavolt/Tapu-Bulu-GX is very well positioned. Just like Gardevoir, it is a stage 2 deck that relies on Field Blower at the right time against Garbotoxin Garbodor, or else it’ll have a tough time dealing with it. Sometimes, it can take time to setup Vikavolt, as well, if your draws are awkward or poor early on.

Overall, the deck is solid and can adjust itself nicely by changing techs of attackers and changing the item cards in the decks such as modifying Choice Band counts and Fighting Fury Belt counts based on the meta and matchups. The deck definitely has high potential, and I'm curious to see how well it’ll perform in upcoming events. 

Metagross-GX


 

Metagross is another deck that has increased in popularity since rotation, due in large part to its extremely favorable matchup with Gardevoir-GX. Metagross-GX is a stage 2 GX with 250 HP along with a resistance to Psychic type. Its ability, Geotech System, allows you to attach a Metal or Psychic Energy from the discard to your active pokemon. The ability stacks if you have multiple Metagross-GX on board. This allows you to consistently stream attackers.

Its attack, Giga Hammer, needs little explanation. It can swing for 150 or 180 with a Choice Band, which is nice considering Metagross has 250 HP and plays Max Potion to deny knockouts. This deck also is pretty flexible with its techs, allowing for room for many Field Blower for the Garbodor matchup, or you can even tech cards like Mimikyu and Magearna-EX to solve some minor issues like protecting Metagross from Espeon-EX’s Miraculous Shine. Since the deck also runs Necrozma-GX, it gives a variety of options overall making this deck a strong archetype going forward.

Another strong aspect with Metagross is that despite that most decks play four N, if you manage to use its Algorithm GX attack at the right time, you’ll be able to keep the five cards you grabbed and be in a great position going forward. Since VS Seeker is out of format, it seems to be harder for your opponent to have N.

Despite that the deck holds a very strong deck power, the deck can still struggle with Garbotoxin’s ability. Since it is a stage 2 deck that requires setup, it can also can give up some momentum for your opponent’s Tapu Koko to use Flying Flip to spread 20 damages across the board for a turn or two, which could affect the match potentially midgame on. In addition, Ho-oh-GX/Salazzle-GX is another popular archetype along with Volcanion-EX. And since Metagross is weak to Fire, this is a huge issue, but, nonetheless, the deck is well positioned if you're able to dodge Fire types. 

Ho-oh GX/Salazzle-GX

 

Ho-oh-GX/Salazzle-GX (created by Team Torchic) is another archetype that made a strong appearance since Worlds 2017. It managed thee Top 32 finishes and ninth place at Worlds leaving a strong impression of how a turn one Kiawe into Ho-oh to take immediate knockouts was a strong thing. Salazzle-GX is a nice alternative attacker and does an excellent job at closing the game.

The deck is pretty straightforward. You can apply pressure quickly with a turn one Kiawe to Ho-oh-GX or Volcanion-EX most of the time. Then, slowly you try to attach energy manually or utilize Max Elixir to setup your backup attackers. One of the key cards here is Turtonator-GX. Because attackers like Ho-oh-GX or Volcanion-EX need three or four energy to attack, it can be difficult to take return knockouts. Turtonator-GX's Nitrotank GX attack is a very good attack to get back five fire energy back into play. Unlike Kiawe, Nitrotank GX allows you to attach the energy anyway you like and it is not restricted to attaching to one Pokemon.

And finally, Salazzle-GX comes in to close the game.  Salazzle-GX has nice synergy overall with this deck, since its first attack, Diabolical Claws, does 50 damage times the number prize cards you have taken. As I mentioned earlier, with attackers like Ho-oh-GX and Volcanion-EX, it is fairly easy to take quick two to four prize cards with the proper start. Therefore, Diabolic Claws can deal 150-plus damage quite often.

However, Salazzle-GX is a stage 1 Pokemon, so it does require some time to set up, and it does not get the benefit from Volcanion-EX’s Steam Up ability. Despite that, Salazzle-GX shines the best late game with Diabolical Claws. Its second attack, Heat Blast, does a solid 110 damage for two energy, in case you happen to start with Salandit or you need a quick attacker right away. Queen’s Haze GX isn't used often --  Nitrotank GX is the preferred GX attack in most matchups -- but it is a nice option to have nonetheless.

This deck can have a very explosive start, but there are some weak points. Ho-oh is weak to Lightning, which means it can get one shot easily by Vikavolt and Tapu Koko. Even a Choice Band-ed Flying Flip will deal 100 damage to Ho-oh-GX. Another weak spot is that this deck requires a lot of energy to attack, so it is vulnerable to Gardevoir-GX and Tapu Lele-GX. Since the deck takes a few turns sometimes to get another attacker ready, if your attackers are getting returned K.O. consistently, the deck might lose pace and potentially lose the game.

Also since Alolan Ninetales is seeing some play, this could become an annoying matchup for this deck, since it hits most attackers for weakness and has an ability that prevents damage from EX and GX Pokemon. Yet still, I think thid deck is very strong, since not many of the key cards were lost from rotation.

Golisopod-GX/Garbodor

 

Golisopod-GX/Garbodor is another deck that showed a strong result during the 2017 World Championship and lost few key cards from rotation. However, the loss of VS Seeker made the deck slightly less smooth when it comes to using Acerola or Guzma at the proper time, since you need to have it in your hand to recycle Golisopod-GX’s First Impression attack.

The deck is pretty straightforward where you want to utilize Golisopod-GX as the main attacker dealing 120 to 180 damage. Since Golisopod-GX has 210 HP and is stage 1, it is quite difficult to get one shot. Therefore, it pairs well with Acerola, since it requires only one Grass energy to use First Impression. Along with Golisopod-GX, you utilize cards like both BKT and GRI Garbodor and Tapu Koko to expand your strategy to be more well rounded. With Tapu Koko’s Flying Flip attack, you can spread 20 damage on your opponent’s board to setup some knockouts easier in the future.

Trashalanche Garbodor is mainly used as secondary attacker midgame onward, since your opponent will most likely need to use some items during the game in order to keep up with Golisopod’s. Garbodor becomes quite effective later in the game. Also, since Hex Maniac was lost from rotation, a lot of ability-reliant decks are showing a strong appearance in the current meta. Having Garbotoxin Garbodor makes the deck strong by shutting down opponents' abilities without affecting your strategy, since Golisopod-GX doesn’t rely on abilities.

Rainbow energy is also another nice card that have a strong synergy allowing you to provide either Psychic or Grass energy, giving consistency for your attackers to provide the proper energy for any situation. Also, the 10 damage from Rainbow Energy goes along well with Acerola, so you can pick up cards like Golisopod-GX or even Tapu Lele-GX if needed. Overall, the deck is pretty self-explanatory where you want to apply pressure to your opponent’s pokemon and try to pick them up with Acerola to deny prizes and disrupt/slow down your opponent by shutting down abilities.

In addition to this, the deck still has a bit of space for some tech attackers such as Necrozma-GX or Magearna-EX.  It may seem to be a simple strategy, but it is actually very efficient and thus why it is showing positive results in the new standard format.  Just like most decks in standard format, this deck also has a prominent weakness. It has a lot of trouble with Fire decks, since they can one-shot Golisopod easily.  Yet still, the deck is one of the most balanced decks overall in this format, since it can put up a fight against decks like Gardevoir, Vikavolt, Metagross, and even Greninja.

Volcanion EX/Turtonator GX

 

Volcanion is another strong archetype that is showing strong presence in the current standard format alongside with fire decks like Ho-oh GX/Salazzle GX.  However unlike the Ho-oh deck that have the strength to go really aggressive from the start swinging for 180+ damages Turn 1 or 2 with Kiawe, the Volcanion deck is not fast as Ho-oh but it have a more consistent base utilizing the non EX Volcanions.  The deck generally utilizes the non EX Volcanion with Fighting Fury Belt, having a 170 HP basic pokemon to wall and chip some damage to your opponent’s EX/GX pokemons while accelerating energies to your other attackers in the bench. 

This method can be annoying for the opponent since they generally will need to have Guzma to try to knockout the backup EX/GX attackers on the back to take the prize exchange smoother, or to have Field Blower at the right timing so you can knockout the non EX Volcanion right away to avoid giving extra turns to the Volcanion to give more momentums to attach more energies.  Despite that I said that the deck may not be explosive as Ho-oh, it still plays cards like Max Elixirs and with the combination of Power Heater and attachment from the turn, it becomes fairly easy for the Volcanion to player to set up 2 attackers right away making it more consistnet where Ho-oh decks can struggle if their first attacker gets knocked out right away.  Overall the deck is pretty straight forward, where you setup your attackers the way I just mentioned then utilize heavy amount of Fighting Fury Belt to make your Volcanions and Turtonators bulky difficult to knockout while you try to one shot them with Steam Up Volcanic Heat or Crimson Fire. 

The deck also have a nice synergy with Guzma since Guzma allows you to switch your pokemons, you can easily retreat back your Volcanion EX that have used Volcanic Heat already or even attackers that have Fighting Fury Belt already attached that can’t have Float Stone, so you won’t have to waste some of the energies that are already attached to your attackers.  The deck in fact is very consistent and good in a ideal way, however it does have some aspects where it can struggle also. 

One of them is simply water type decks such as Alolan Ninetails and Greninja.  As of Alolan Ninetails, the deck uses fair amount of Tapu Koko to set up some damages ahead of time, and the fact that Alolan Ninetails have the water Weakness with Aqua Patch makes the matchup very tricky since it can one shot Volcanions and Turtonators easier than Volcanion would one shot an Alolan Ninetail, it is not an auto lose match for Volcanion, but it is a tricky matchup.  Similar with Greninja,  the Greninja matchup is another tricky matchup where Greninja player can dead draw or Volcanion player can get a very strong aggressive start that it won’t give Greninja the momentum, to consistently setup, but once Greninja BREAK is on the board, the matchup becomes much more difficult since Shadow Stiching shuts down Steam Up and as a result it forces the Volcanion player to have Turtonator GX with a Fighting Fury Belt to use  Crimson Flame in order to one shot a full HP Greninja BREAK.  It is possible to achieve that however, the matchup becomes extremely difficult if there are more than one Greninja BREAK on board along with cards like Splash Energy, and Choice Band to make the Shadow Stiching lock strong and last longer, therefore this is also another tricky matchup for Volcanion. 

Another interesting matchup is the Sylveon GX/Gardevoir GX matchup, since majority of the Gardevoir with Sylveon decks runs Parallel city, it comes in clutch where they can either play the side to decrease your damage output by 20 to make the difference in the knockout, or they can use the other side to shrink your bench to 3 then use Sylveon’s Plea GX attack to return 2 of the bench Pokemons that have energies attached are quite devastating since depending on the timing you might’ve used some of your Max Elixirs already and have to reattach them from scrap again with manual attach and utilizing Power Heater, but Gardevoir GX might come in to apply a strong pressure while you’re trying to rebuild your board as well.  One of the key recovery method in the scenario could be is to utilize Turtonator’s Nitrotank GX attack to get the energies back from the discard after the Plea GX so you don’t lose much momentum from it, aside from that there are few minor factors like how well the Gardveoir can Field Blower the Fury Belts on the right timing and etc.

Nonetheless Volcanion is a very consistent and strong deck, which is why I decided to give it a spot here and I’m sure this deck will continue to show its strong presence in the near future as well.

Conclusion

In conclusion, those decks that I’ve mentioned are some of the strong archetype decks in the current standard format. Of course there are other strong archetypes in the current meta like Garbodor/Espeon-GX, Garbodor/Drampa-GX, Alolan Ninetales-GX, Volcanion-EX, and others that are actually worth looking into. But these decks are definitely showing strong appearance in the current standard format and it’s definitely worth looking out for them as well.

Hopefully this article helped you understand some of the top archetypes in the new standard format.

Once again, thank you very much for reading this article this far, and I’ll see you guys in the next article.

Franco

[+11] okko


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