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Gabriel Semedo

Rayquaza deserves attention for Worlds - Part I

A huge breakdown about Rayquaza GX by Gabriel Semedo.

08/06/2018 by Gabriel Semedo

Hey there everyone! It's been a while since I last wrote something but now I feel like writing so much and I hope this feeling keeps on lasting for a long time. I really like writing Pokémon articles and I've been doing it for 5 years now! Since it's been such a long time I think it's reasonable to take a little time off to get the energy back.

Well, right now we are at the end of the season and I was not able to reach a goal which is to be part of LATAM's Top 8. I started out the season pretty well, getting Top 32 at EUIC, winning São Paulo's Regionals and finally getting Top 16 at LAIC. That was all. Besides the events I mentioned, I also played other 3 Regionals, a Special Event and NAIC, and unfortunately I was not able to get CPs in any of them.

There were a lot of ups and downs in this season for me: I got some awesome placements in some tournaments, but on the other hand, I also had some catastrophic results in other tournaments. I couldn't make myself a solid player this year which ended up costing my spot at LATAM's Top 8. But I don't feel that bad at all, I'm still proud of what I've accomplished this season and I feel like I overachieved in some aspects. For example, I got Top 32 at EUIC which was my first big significant performance overseas.

Winning São Paulo's Regionals meant the world to me. It was definitely on of the best moments in my life because I've always dreamed of winning a big tournament in Brazil, and this one had around 400 players from Brazil (some others from Argentina and Chile). Getting Top 16 at LAIC meant that I'm able to get great results in a global level. What I want to the 2018/2019 season is to get awesome results again and maybe winning an International event or even Worlds. I feel like this is every player's dream, am I right?

Speaking of World Championship, I started my few first trainings for this competition. To be honest, the new Celestial Storm collection has not caught my attention and I believe it will have little impact in the Worlds metagame, but it will probably have more impact after the rotation. The collection still needs to be studied better, but at first glance the only thing I've seen great potential so far is Rayquaza-GX. There was a lot of hype about this card in Japan and the hype was confirmed with Takuya Yoneda's victory at the Japanese Nationals, using a neat and very well built Rayquaza-GX deck. Since then there has been much anticipation about this card in the Worlds environment. I did not think the Rayquaza-GX deck was strong enough to compete against the best decks in the format, like BuzzRoc and Zoroark-GX, but after a few playtests I realized I was wrong. The deck is indeed very good and so I decided to do an analysis of it, telling everything I could study so far and what I really think about this new powerhouse in the Pokémon TCG competitive scene.

 

The deck is very consistent and it is very easy to power up Rayquaza-GX, although it needs three energies to attack. Rayquaza-GX will almost always present itself in the field with an Energy attached, thanks to its Ability that allows to attach a basic Energy on itself when it come into play, besides we have the Max Elixir which can bring a second Energy for Ray and finally we have your casual Energy attachment for the turn. Pretty much all you have to hit is your Max Elixir to have a Rayquaza-GX ready to attack in the same turn it has been brought to the field.

Seeing how easy it is to power up Rayquaza-GX and accumulate Energy in play it sure makes this deck a strong contender. With each Rayquaza-GX in play that was able to use its ability we have +30 damage in Rayquaza-GX's damage base, every Max Elixir we hit we have +30 damage in Rayquaza-GX's damage base and each Energy attachment we get for the turn gets us +30 damage in Rayquaza-GX's damage base. In two turns it is possible to sum up enough damage to knock out a Zoroark-GX and this is not difficult to happen. The challenge is to keep the damage output as high as possible, because when Rayquaza-GX is knocked out you lose an extra 90 damage output and also an attacker.

To have such a fast and powerful deck you have to pay the price for it. The price is destroying your own deck. When Rayquaza-GX comes into play it forces you to discard three cards from the top of your deck. If you happen to play four Rayquaza-GX onto the board then you have already discarded 12 cards from your deck. Almost always you will lose important cards of the deck and in some cases you will lose because you have discarded some decisive resources to win the match. This is one of the weaknesses of the deck and there is not much to do.

Cards such as Pal Pad and Rescue Stretcher will mitigate the damage (if you're lucky not to discard them in the Rayquaza-GX Ability), but that's still far from enough for the deck not to suffer the losses. Even so, I would say that it's worth paying the price, because the pressure you can put on the opponent is massive and this will also tilt the opponent. If you do not have full control over your deck due to the destructive Ability of Rayquaza-GX, your opponent also will not have full control of the game due to the very high pressure that Rayquaza-GX will put in the first few turns. Because it is such a destructive and linear deck, it is difficult to put tech cards, as there is a very good chance you will throw it into the discard pile through Rayquaza-GX's ability. So the list ends up being very simple and with enough copies of the important cards, like Ultra Ball / Mysterious Treasure, Supporters, Fighting Fury Belt and Float Stone.

The main difficulty in using the deck is to pay close attention to the resources that have already been discarded and the resources we still have in deck. You will always need to do a strong initial setup, the concept of the deck is exactly that. Do not be afraid to destroy your deck in the first few turns, just close your eyes and plow through. Once the setup is done and your field has several Rayquaza-GX powered on the field, it's time to check the resources you still have available in your hand and in your deck. It will be with these remaining resources that you will work the next turns to get the win.

I will do a card-by-card analysis to further explain how the deck works.

4x Rayquaza-GX

Obviously the main and pretty much the only attacker in the deck. Clearly it is essential to use 4 copies, because besides being the attacker, it is responsible for increasing its own damage by bringing a discarded Energy with its Ability. When looking at Rayquaza-GX in your hand, think of it as a "Plus Power that increases 30 damage to all Rayquaza-GX on your field", rather than just an attacker. The ideal scenario is to always have 3 Rayquaza-GX on the board as soon as possible, less than that and you may end up having difficulties to energize a third Rayquaza-GX in a match.

Rayquaza-GX's great weakness is its 180 HP, which is a reasonably fragile HP for the current metagame. It is difficult to place all the responsibility of the deck on a 180 HP Pokémon, since it is a number that can be reached in several ways by the metagame decks. There is a big difference between 170HP (Tapu Lele-GX), 180HP (Rayquaza-GX), 190 HP (Buzzwole-GX), 200 HP (Lycanroc-GX) and 210 HP (Zoroark-GX), although it seems so little. Here are some examples that can cause problems for the Rayquaza-GX:

  • Zoroark-GX full bench (120) + Choice Band (30) + Reverse Valley (10) + Professor Kukui (20) = 180 damage

  • Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX's GX attack = 180 damage

  • Baby Buzzwole's Sledghammer (when opponent has 4 prizes) (120) + Diancie Prism Star (20) + Choice Band (30) + Regirock-EX = 180

  • Baby Buzzwole's Swing Around when you hit at least 1 heads (100) + Diance Prism Star (20) + Strong Energy (20) + Choice Band (30) + Regirock-EX (10) = 180

  • Sylveon-EX with DCE and Choice Band hitting for weakness = 180

Tip: If you are in doubt if you whether attach Lighting or Grass Energy through Rayquaza-GX's Ability, especially at the beginning of the game, you should give preference to Grass Energy in order to use Rayquaza's GX attack. However, take a brief review of the game to see if the Tapu Koko-GX will be useful early in the game or not, if it is useful, then go for the Lightning Energy. Ideally, your Rayquaza-GX will have more Grass energies than Lightning energies, and the rest of your Pokémon will have Lightning energies attached. Rayquaza-GX is the main attacker and the main target to be knocked out by the opponent, so it would not feel nice to lose the Lightning Energy, because then Tapu Koko-GX would not work.

Another advantage of having a Rayquaza-GX with two Grass and one Lightning is that when Tapu Koko-GX comes into play and gets the energies, you will only lose a single Lightning Energy, which will allow it to attack quite easily only needing an Energy attachment. Another important thing is that the second Energy you attach onto Rayquaza needs to be different from the first one. That will make easier for you to have a Rayquaza-GX able to attack. Had you attached 2 Grass energies in sequence, for example, you might have whiffed an attack with Rayquaza because you couldn't find a Lightning Energy.

 

1x Tapu Koko-GX

This card was really well-thought by Takuya Yoneda and I feel only a few players would have the same perception as him. It is not a card that is often used but it is a card that can help you whenever you are not in a favorable situation. Tapu Koko-GX brings well-differentiated and irreverent benefits to a deck with such straightforwardness in its strategy, which is to basically power up Rayquaza-GX as much as possible and reach the damage necessary to knock out whatever you want. Because it is such a complex and useful card on this deck, decide to explain it in parts to better understand its uses.

Ability: It is very easy to accumulate electric energies in the field with Rayquaza-GX's ability. Without great difficulties it is possible to bring a powered up Tapu Koko-GX as soon as turn 1, all you need is two Lightning energies in the discard pile, two Rayquaza-GX's abilities, and then your simple Energy attachment for the turn. I also like the fact that Tapu Koko-GX goes to the active position after getting all Lightning energies onto it, which makes the retreat cost issue much easier, which is a deck problem. Even though you play switching cards, the deck does not have such good mobility because you'll almost always prefer to attach a Fighting Fury Belt on Rayquaza-GX instead of Float Stone. If you have a Rayquaza-GX with a lot of damage in the active position, the Tapu Koko-GX can come out, pick up the Rayquaza-GX's energies and send it to the bench at the same time, forcing the opponent to have Guzma and making that Rayquaza-GX much less valuable because it no longer has the three energies attached to it.

Sky-High Claws: This attack has a simple 130 damage but it helps a lot to knock out non-GX Pokémon, which is always a problem for the deck. Rayquaza-GX is wonderful for knocking out GX Pokémon because its damage is high enough for this, however it's tricky to be using Rayquaza-GX to knock out non-GX Pokémon. The deck does not have any good non-GX attackers to deal with other non-GX players, so you have to use Rayquaza-GX to knock everything out, be it GX or non-GX. Against Buzzroc we have the best example. You have to use Rayquaza-GX to deal with 4 Baby Buzzwole and it will come a time in a match where Baby Buzzwole is able to knock out a GX / EX with an attack, either Sledgehammer when you have 4 prizes or even the Swing Around with the help of Beast Ring. In these cases the ideal is to take turns with different Rayquaza-GX, so they stay alive and the energies remain on the field to keep the high damage. You will reach a point where all your Rayquaza-GX will be damaged and you have nowhere else to run. This is when the Tapu Koko-GX comes in. He will get into play, get all the energies and it will be a fresh attacker to deal with Baby Buzzwole. The same goes for other popular Pokémon in the format like Mewtwo EVO and Hoopa STS.

Tapu Thunder GX: This GX attack saved me a lot at the end of some games. When a Rayquaza-GX is knocked out, 90 damage is lost. So far so good, but when the second Rayquaza-GX is also knocked out, 90 more damage is lost. Often this means that your third Rayquaza-GX will not have enough damage to knock out a GX Pokémon or you don't even have a third Rayquaza-GX energized by the next turn. When it happens, Tapu Koko-GX may be the Pokémon that will make you draw your last prizes. In the current metagame decks like Buzzroc and Malamar accumulate enough Energy on the table, so as long as your opponent has four energies on the field Tapu Thunder GX can hit for 200 damage and knock out a GX Pokémon.

 

1x Latias Prism Star

Latias Prism Star's role is to finish Rayquaza-GX's deck setup. Sometimes you will not even have to use its attack and often a single attack attack will be enough to get enough Energy to the rest of a game. It will also be useful in times when you do not have an ideal setup or when you are far behind in the game, as we know, in the Pokémon TCG everything is possible and it won't be always possible that you will have the setup that you would like. Basically Latias Prism Star works as the Solgaleo Prism Star on Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX Turbo decks and Lunala Prism Star on Ultra Necroma-GX Turbo decks. Although it is a non-GX Pokémon, the damage from its attack is almost always insignificant, rarely does the damage help complete a knockout since the Rayquaza-GX already hits high damage easily and it does not have enough strength to deal with non-GX Pokémon or Hoopa SLG, which makes it a problem to deck these Pokémon, so it is useful only to support Rayquaza-GX.

1x Oranguru SUM

Rayquaza-GX deck manages to go through hands easily. With 3 Ultra Ball and 4 Mysterious Treasure, plus several other items that have immediate use like Fighting Fury Belt and Float Stone, you can empty your hand whenever you need it, but that does not mean you always want to do it. As mentioned before, Rayquaza-GX is a deck that already loses enough resources and you do not want to lose the resources that you can preserve, so Oranguru SUM is not perfect, although it is still interesting, especially at the end of the game. I'm still not 100% convinced that it is the best option for the deck, but it is a card that brings safety in moments when the hand is dead. Another reason I like to keep him in the deck is the fact that he may be a possible non-GX attacker. I managed to win some games against a Baby Alolan Ninetales deck thanks to Oranguru SUM, which was my only resource to deal with this type of Pokémon. The same goes for knocking out Hoopa SLG, which is much more popular in the format.

Tip: Give preference to Lightning energies whenever you have the possibility to choose between  either in the Max Elixir or the attachment for the turn. Lightning Energy is more important because of Tapu Koko-GX.

2x Tapu Lele GX

I tested a few games with 3 copies of Tapu Lele-GX and I had more versatility when using my Supporters, but the bench space factor is a problem. If you have two Tapu Lele-GX on the bench, a Latias Prism Star, and an Oranguru SUM, then you will have room for only two Rayquaza-GX and the ideal is to always have 3 Rayquaza-GX on the field. As interesting as it seems for the deck to put the third copy of Tapu Lele-GX, I think the bench slots do not allow you to enjoy these three copies at full potential, so much so that for me the main reason to use Parallel City is to clear your own bench and then hope to find the Field Blower or the opponent to puts out a stadium of his own for you to get new slots on the bench (I will talk more about it later).

4x Professor Sycamore

The best and most aggressive supporter in the game. It will allow to go through resources and also discard energies to be used later with Rayquaza-GX's ability.

2x Cynthia

Cynthia will be much better when I can get my setup going. It will allow me to draw cards without the need of discarding important resources from the deck.

2x N

Even though Rayquaza-GX is an aggressive and straightforward deck that gets prizes quite quickly, it will not always be the case. This card comes in clutch when you need a comeback or simply getting the winning card from your opponent's hand.

1x Lillie

I'm in love with this Supporter in this deck. Thanks to 3 Ultra Ball and 4 Mysterious Treasure, you're likely to have access to Tapu Lele-GX on turn 1, and the deck can easily empty your hand in the first few turns as you need full power at the start to do the setup. Refilling the hand with 8 cards cards have interesting advantages to the deck. First of all, Lillie lets you preserve some of the important resources in your starting hand that you would not want to discard with Professor Sycamore, and putting eight cards in your hand means you have a better chance of preserving something you do not want discarded by Rayquaza-GX. Also, having 8 cards in the hand is always welcome. If you do not use these 8 cards, your opponent will do everything to use N, which means that he will have one less N at the end of the game to get in the way and if you can use these cards it will speed up your setup.

4x Guzma

As I said before, Rayquaza-GX deck has an enormous ease to knock out GX Pokémon and I believe we should exploit it to the fullest. Due to this, it will be normal for the opponent to send several non-GX Pokémon active to disrupt our lives, so we always like to have access to Guzma, to divert those non-GX Pokémon and knock out the ones who really matters, which are the GX Pokémon.

1x Pal Pad

Pal Pad is much better than it looks in this deck. In addition to returning Supporters who were involuntarily discarded by Rayquaza-GX, the deck naturally gets small in a few turns due to the large number of cards discarded by Ultra Ball, Mysterious Treasure, Ray's Ability and Professor Sycamore. If you have the opportunity to use the Pal Pad when your deck is already small, the chance you can find the Supporters you brought back to the deck is huge and that's why Pal Pad gets a lot more interesting. Usually the metagame decks take a little longer to be "consumed", so when you get to the point that your deck is small, the game will probably be well at the end and the Pal Pad will not be more impressive, but in that deck the Supporters you get back will be important and will be found in time to be able to finalize the match in a consistent and controlled manner. I liked this card so much that I consider putting the second copy, precisely because in this deck you have no control of what is going to be discarded and Pal Pad can end up getting discarded.

3x Ultra Ball

The only cards you do not have access to by Mysterious Treasure are Tapu Koko-GX and Oranguru SUM. Three copies of Ultra Ball to fetch only two Pokémon that are not essential to the deck is of good size but I believe the main qualities of Ultra Ball is to be able to discard the energies from the hand and increase the chances of searching for the Rayquaza-GX and the Tapu Lele-GX in the early turns. Often both the Ultra Ball and the Mysterious Treasure will be left on the deck without having a defined role, but they can still be decisive to look for Tapu Lele-GX at the end of the game to use Guzma for the victory or Professor Sycamore to find the resources required. Ultra Ball can be better than the Mysterious Treasure if you want to empty your hand, throw more than one Energy in the discard or just discard cards will no longer serve you in the game. And in that deck you're the reason for that. Cards like Lillie and Oranguru SUM work best with the possibility of discarding two cards from the hand with the Ultra Ball.

4x Mysterious Treasure

Even though Ultra Ball can give access to any Pokémon in the deck and also lets you to discard two cards from your hand instead of one, you will not always want to discard two cards from your hand since you have important resources in hand that you don't want to get rid of. The deck itself is self-destructive. Don't lose important resources unless you really need to.

4x Max Elixir

We always have the Max Elixir to make the impossible possible. This card was responsible for bringing out the most aggressive strategies of the past two years and now nearing its end she says goodbye to the most aggressive and powerful strategy that this card could provide in its standard Standard life time. As well as several decks based on Max Elixir, I believe the Rayquaza-GX deck would not have half the strength without this card. The more Max Elixir you hit, the greater your chance of winning, because it brings a giant benefit by being just a card item. Basically every Max Elixir you hit, you shorten in one turn the time you need to finalize the game. If you hit four Max Elixir on your Rayquaza-GX, you shortened your win by 4 turns. Seriously, try to see Max Elixir that way, because that's what this card does. A Max Elixir hit early in the game has a higher value as they are decisive to know if you will be able to attack on turn 1 or turn 2 with considerable damage. Of course, there will be games in which the Max Elixir will not be needed and the Latias Prism Star can energize your Pokémon. However, the most likely route is for you to hit Max Elixir and forget Latias Prism Star to complete the Energy acceleration. There will be cases where both Max Elixir and Latias Prism Star will be needed, all of which vary from game to game.

If you can get your setup and still have some copies of Max Elixir, I suggest you keep these cards in your hand if you do not really need to use them. That's because at the end of the game if you need to make a third Rayquaza-GX to finish the match, this is hardly possible without the Max Elixir because you will not have enough turns to put three energies into it. In these cases you will probably need to energize Rayquaza-GX in the same turn as you have put it down on board. Super Rod is an essential card to give you the power to get that last Rayquaza-GX out of nowhere.

4x Fighting Fury Belt

Rayquaza-GX can enjoy the two advantages that the Fighting Fury Belt brings, both +10 damage and +40 HP. As stated above, the Rayquaza-GX's HP is a problem and Fighting Fury Belt gives you the chance to survive an extra turn. Even if Field Blower is a pretty played card in the format, I think it's worth trying to stay alive with the Fighting Fury Belt because if you can survive a turn, the advantage is very great. Since the +10 damage is useful mainly to knock out 130 HP Pokémon (Baby Buzzwole) with only 3 energies, which means that this can be gotten as soon as turn 1 if you can hit your Max Elixir. The extra 10 damage can deal with 190 HP Pokémon and it will take you only 6 energies on the field, which are the cases of Buzzwole-GX and Ultra Necrozma-GX. Maybe four copies of FFB is an exaggeration, but again, the deck already discards quite a few cards from its deck and the Field Blower is quite present in the format, so I believe that out of these 4 copies only two will remain "alive" and effective in the game.

3x Float Stone

Float Stone is one of the pieces that allows you to be aggressive right in the first turns. If you do not find it soon enough, you can only attack using Guzma or Tapu Koko-GX's ability or attack. So I think it's more important than it sounds, but after the first few turns it's not that important anymore. The truth is that you only need one Float Stone in the game, but we use three copies to find it fast and avoid the risk of discarding all of them with Rayquaza-GX's ability. After the setup is done and you have your Rayquaza-GX attacking in the active position, you will want it to always have Fighting Fury Belt attached to avoid being knocked out. It is possible that your opponent will use Guzma to bring some heavy Pokémon to buy time. That's why we use four Guzma. If your opponent makes this move, the chance of him getting hurt is huge, as well as returning with the Rayquaza-GX to the active position, you still have the option to choose who you want to knock out from the opponent's bench.

1x Field Blower

The main reason I use Field Blower in this deck is to get rid of my own Parallel City when I need it. I like the idea of limiting my own bench and getting rid of Pokémon that can no longer help me, especially Tapu Lele-GX. Field Blower will allow me to get two slots on my bench in order to put down more Rayquaza-GX, Tapu Koko-GX or even even use Tapu Lele-GX again via Rescue Stretcher or Super Rod.

1x Rescue Strecher

Being such a destructive deck, you need something to fetch some resources back from the discard pile. Rescue Stretcher comes in as mandatory to reuse Rayquaza-GX and Tapu Lele-GX that were discarded early in the game.

1x Super Rod

I like having the Super Rod in the deck instead of the 2nd Rescue Stretcher because I can get back energies with it. With enough discarded cards, Max Elixir and constant Energy acceleration, it is natural that at the end of the game your deck has few energies. Sometimes it is necessary to hit a Max Elixir at the end of the game and without Super Rod the task becomes much more complicated. In addition, it returns Pokémon to the deck and although the Rescue Strecher is better for having the option of returning a Pokémon to the hand if necessary, it is not difficult to find the Pokémon that you want on the deck with 3 Ultra Ball and 4 Mysterious Treasure.

2x Parallel City

Parallel City is a popular card in the format and is present in the main decks of the format like Malamar and Zoroark-GX. Using two copies of this card gives you the chance to put down Parallel City before your opponent can and this can give you the time to get your setup without being harmed by your opponent's Parallel City. Yes, it is risky to think that way, because if your opponent drops Parallel City before you, your Parallel City will turn out to be an unusable card and your bench will be limited to three spaces until the end of the game or until you can find your only copy of Field Blower (assuming it hasn't been discarded yet).

Although it is a risky strategy to be forced to play your own Parallel City before the opponent, I believe it is the most consistent way possible to prevent the opponent from bothering you with the same card against you. Since everything in the deck is a risky choice, I believe that this choice may also be worth it. If it works out, you're in a great position, the deck is explosive and you'll almost always use Professor Sycamore or Lillie, so the chance to find Parallel City is good. If it goes wrong and the opponent put Parallel City down before you, you still have the chance to get away with Field Blower. For the opponent to get in the way you need to find Parallel City right on turn 1, otherwise you will put down multiple Rayquaza-GX, Tapu Lele-GX and will do an explosive turn to get as much Energy down on the field as possible. After turn 1, the opponent's chance to help you by limiting your bank is high, because in that case you can remove the Pokémon that are no longer useful on the bench like Tapu Lele-GX and Rayquaza-GX / Tapu Koko-GX, in the cases you started with them and could not use their Abilities.

7 Grass Energy, 7 Lightning Energies

You will feel the need to use Grass Energy just to use the Rayquaza-GX's GX attack and you will feel the need of Lightning Energy for Tapu Koko-GX. In all my tests I had no problem finding the correct Energy in any of the cases, nor did I have problem of attacking with the Rayquaza-GX for not having the necessary energies. I believe that equal distribution between Grass and Lightning energies is the best way to go with the deck. If I had room to put an extra Energy, I would play an extra Lightning Energy, just to make it easier when using Tapu Koko-GX.

End of part 1

With this analysis of the deck we finished the first part of my article on Rayquaza-GX. In the second part I will talk about some card options and ideas that can be inserted in the deck of Rayquaza-GX. I'll also talk about the matchups for the deck and look a little deeper as

how Rayquaza-GX deck behaves in every matchup. I preferred to split my article on Rayquaza-GX in two parts to be able to go deeper and explain everything about this deck that definitely deserves a lot of attention until the Worlds Championship. From the first moment the deck impresses by the aggressiveness and will be normal the metagame deck will suffer from this game's powerhouse. But I believe that just as Buzzroc did, players will learn how to deal with the deck and better prepare to play against it. The difference here is that we do not have any tournament to analyze the strength of the deck, so we have to study as much as possible to surprise or not to be surprised by the Rayquaza-GX.

That's it for now guys! See you in part 2! Cheers!

[+17] okko


 

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