Experts' corner

Gabriel Semedo

Unraveling Some Myths of the Format and 3 interesting deck choices in standard

In this article, Gabriel talks about some cards, strategies and decks that got hyped ...

10/04/2016 by Gabriel Semedo

In this article, Gabriel talks about some cards, strategies and decks that got hyped without a big reason for it. Besides this he shows 3 interesting decks to play in Standard format.

Hello everyone! Today I will talk about some truths and myths about the format. The community takes it for the absolute truth but in reality it’s a big mistake. For example, is Greninja unplayable because of Garbodor? Is M Rayquaza one of the strongest decks in format? Is Giratina-EX effective in a format with Ranger, Hammers and Garbodor? Is Xerneas Rainbow Road the "Night March of the New Era"? Well, I have all these answers and I will tell you my opinion and explain everything. Besides this, I have some interesting decks that I want to talk about. I think they are good and interesting calls for the metagame.

Unraveling the Myths and Truths of the Metagame

It’s common to see a hype on some decks or cards when we have new formats or leaks of new cards. The biggest hypes of the format were M Rayquaza-EX and Garbodor, because of these cards every strategy and new concepts was planning around then. Some big plays in format were discarded just because the theory of how powerful Garbodor is and how it neutralizes that idea, or how M Rayquaza-EX hit tons of damage since turn 1 and how difficult is to get a knockout on a 220HP Pokémon. But the reality is very different when we go deep in format and stop to take a superficial look of the meta. There is a thing I noticed when I started to study the format: there is a difficulty of some players in predicting the metagame and the worrying of some players to immediately counter strategies that they haven’t even played against – to learn if they really need to be countered or how it can be countered without spending so many slots in a deck or to build a dedicated deck only to beat a “big threat” in meta. These problems are the main reason that made me to come here to talk about some myths that have been created in the format. So let’s start to discover some truths of the format.

M-Rayquaza EX: one of the strongest decks in format?

M Ray is strong but unfortunately isn’t a good call for Standard. It seems weird to say but it’s the truth. Every deck in format has at least a soft counter against M Rayquaza that hurts a lot. Some of the best “techs” against M Ray are cards that are already good by themselves and are welcome in a lot of decks in format even if M Rayquaza-EX didn’t exist in the game. For example, every deck in format with Garbodor and Parallel City together like M Mewtwo-EX, M Scizor-EX and some Darkrai/Giratina builds are good counters against M Ray. Reducing the bench for 3 and shutting down abilities like Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX to rebuild the setup for Emerald Break is too much for the deck. Just Parallel City is already a good counter but M Ray still can deal with it. The other big counter is Giratina-EX. If you are under Chaos Wheel, so you can’t change Parallel City or others stadiums, you can’t attach Double Colorless on Rayquaza or put Rayquaza Spirit Link. Ok, if you use Pokémon Ranger so you will be able to do all of those things, but you still have to deal with the Ability of Giratina-EX that prevent attacks/effects of Mega Pokémon-EX. In other words, it’s impossible to use Pokémon Ranger and Hex Maniac at the same turn, so you are almost in a check mate. To escape of this situation you need to use Jirachi Promo to remove Double Dragon Energy and pray that Giratina-EX doesn’t play Pokémon Ranger and attach another DDE. Another way to counter Giratina-EX is to play Marowak FCO and shut down effects of Chaos Wheel, but if you go for this rote, Marowak will be almost a tech only for Giratina-EX. Some decks with hammers give some nightmare to Rayquaza as well, like M Scizor/Garbodor and Hammers. To close the topic, there are some Pokémon that can beat easily M Ray like Raichu, Zebstrika and Zoroark / Zoroark Break can be tough as well.


Greninja: dead because of Garbodor?

Absolutely not. Before my training I thought Greninja became unplayable and lost about 50% of its power because of Garbodor, but the truth is that Greninja is tough and amazing even with Garbodor on the board and I will tell you why.

This is a list of my teammate Augusto Lespier that I liked very much. He beat me some games in our training with this very consistent and smart list against some decks with Garbodor that I used.

Card Explanation:

4-4-4-3 Greninja Break

Standard. Many players play just 2 Greninja Break in order to play some tech cards, but the beauty of Greninja Break right now is your high HP, your great attack hitting for 80 with just 1 Energy and the fact that it only give one prize when knocked out.

1-1 Octillery

I think this is the exact number in a metagame where Garbodor is in everywhere. You still have the option to put Octillery in play in matchups without Garbodor and you only lose 2 slots when you paired against Garbodor.

4 N / 3 Professor Sycamore / 3 Trainers Mail / 4 VS Seeker


4 Bursting Balloon

This is why Greninja can beat Mega Pokémon-EX decks with Garbodor’s Ability in play. Bursting Balloon gives the exact math to knockout every Mega Pokémon with at least 220HP. With two attacks for 80 plus 60 of Bursting Balloon, Greninja can knockout a Mega. In other words, against a Mega Pokémon like M Scizor that can’t OHKO Greninja, you are trading 2-hit-knockout against 2-hit-knockout, but with the difference that Greninja is a non-EX Pokémon and Scizor-EX is one. Against M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor it’s a little bit difficult, because M Mewtwo-EX has an unlimited damage but you force Mewtwo-EX to drop 6 Energies on board to get a knockout. Besides this, M Mewtwo-EX has the option of Damage Change that can destroy the strategy of Greninja to get a knockout in 2 hits.

1 Float Stone

This tool is exclusive for Octillery. It seems a perfect count because it can’t be discarded.


4 Dive Ball / 3 Ultra Ball / 1 Level Ball

Standard. Three Ultra Ball are needed to thin your hand, throw cards that you won’t need in the game and draw more cards for Octillery’s Ability.

2 Super Rod

This deck misses Sacred Ash a lot because you need to recover so many cards of Pokémon, so you need to cover this with an extra copy of Super Rod even if it isn’t good as Sacred Ash.

2 Rough Seas

This card is overpowered in my opinion, but now in format you don’t need 3 or 4 copies, just because the game has a lot of decks that hit for big damages to get one hit knockout. M Rayquaza, M Mewtwo, Volcanion and Darkrai/Giratina are examples of tier 1 decks that can knockout Greninja in one hit.

1 Faded Town

With so many Mega Pokémon decks playing in the metagame, Faded Town becomes very good. In case of Greninja, Faded Town corrects the math to get knockout on Megas. If your opponent plays Parallel City and you don’t have any Stadium to counter it, so you must do only 60 damage and your math you be reduced for 3-hit-knockout with the damage of Bursting Balloon. To recover the math to 2-hit-knockout, you will need to hit for 100 in next turn, so you can break Parallel with Faded Town and then for 80 + 20 to get the knockout. Another play with Faded Town is to get 2-hit-knockout without Bursting Balloon. If you hit 80 + 20 of Faded Town and your opponent doesn’t find a way to break Faded Town, so your opponent will take plus 20 between his turn and you have the chance to do a second hit of 80+20, and get 220 damage in two turns.

1 Professor’s Letter

It’s good to get 2 Energies at the same time in a deck where you have only 8 Energies and you need multiples Energies in hand to work. Trainer’s Mail plays well with Professor’s Letter.

8 Water Energy


Deck Analysis:

This version is very focused on raw damage and I never thought in a Greninja like this. Since Greninja came to the game, the biggest worry of the players is to find the best way to use Greninja’s Ability Water Shuriken with consistency and no big threats. The first famous version of Greninja was a build with two or three copies of Jirachi Promo, with some techs like Startling Megaphone and a bunch of Rough Seas. Then with Steam Siege release, a straight forward version with Talonflame and Bursting Balloon splashed at Worlds 2016. Now I think the focus of Greninja deck your attack and your high HP. If you see Greninja Break without your Ability, we are looking for an amazing attacker that hits 80 damage for one Energy and retrieves it back to your hand (which is nice) and Non-EX Pokémon with a Pokémon-EX HP of 170. In a format where the best strategy is to play a powerful Pokémon with no Ability and a great attack like M Mewtwo-EX and M Scizor-EX and paired it with Garbodor, Greninja can be a great attacker and play without your Ability as well. So, in this list we trade Talonflame, Jirachi Promo and techs cards in order to play a full set of Bursting Balloon and tons of cards to bring a lot of Greninja hitting hard to the game as fast as we can and for the entire game. As long as we can hit for 80 every turn and bring new Greninja on board to keep attacking, we will be fine.

In matchups where Garbodor isn’t in play, Greninja is one of the best decks in format so far. With only way of item lock (Vileplume) and I don’t see it being popular in the metagame yet, so Greninja can abuse of it ability in matchups like M Rayquaza to knockout out Shaymin-EX and Manaphy-EX (depends on the version of M Ray).

Is Giratina-EX effective in a meta with Pokémon Ranger, Garbodor and Hammers?

The answer is yes. Of course - Pokémon Ranger, Garbodor and Hammers are big threats for Giratina-EX, but all these techs Giratina-EX can play around. Let’s start with Pokémon Ranger. In Worlds we almost didn’t see Giratina-EX in the field because the afraid of Pokémon Ranger. Now I think the things has changed. Without Battle Compressor it’s hard to find Pokémon Ranger right on time to use and even if you have the chance to use Pokémon Ranger, depends on the situation only one turn without the effect Chaos Wheel won’t be enough to deal with the Giratina-EX lock. Like I said before, against M Rayquaza if your opponent is under of Chaos Wheel, you will be fine, because it will be hard to deal with the effect of the attack and Giratina-EX Ability at the same time. Now let’s talk about Garbodor. In theory, decks like M Scizor and M Mewtwo-EX are safe against Giratina’s Ability because of Garbodor, but in practice it’s just knocks out Garbodor with Chaos Wheel to win the game. Most decks plays a line of 2-2 Garbodor, with a line like this, in most of cases only one Garbodor is setup for the entire game, so in most of cases if you are able to Lysandre and knockout Garbodor with Chaos Wheel, it means that will be impossible for your opponent to hit Giratina-EX for the next turns, because Giratina’s Ability prevent damage/effect from megas and Chaos Wheel blocks your opponent to put float stone in a Trubbish. The only way of Megas/Garbodor decks avoid this situation is to play down 2 Trubbish with 2 Float Stone attached before Chaos Wheel. There is a chance of those Mega decks run Pokémon Ranger, so in this case it’s possible to your opponent to attach a float stone in a new Trubbish. I already saw some Mega/Garb decks that play Hex Maniac even with Garbodor. It seems weird but make sense, not only in situations that Giratina-EX is able to check mate the game, but against Vileplume is very clever, since you can Hex Maniac your opponent and play tools on your Trubbish/Garbodor and stop Vileplume’s Item lock ability. The last and biggest threats are Hammers. Hammers always will be painful for Giratina-EX (except if paired with Vileplume) since Giratina needs 4 Energies and probably one of them will be a Double Dragon Energy. I think hammers are returning to the metagame because the biggest decks in format like M Mewtwo and Darkrai/Giratina have the Energies like the main focus of the power of the deck. With this on mind, Giratina-EX can cover this situation with Special Charge and Pokémon that put Energy on board, like Baby Yveltal to recover discarded Energies and put one more Energy on board and Baby Xerneas to Geomancy for two more Energies on board.

Is Xerneas Rainbow Road the Night March of the new Era?

It’s funny to say but some players are looking for Rainbow Road like a Night March deck, because it’s a non-EX attacker that can hit for 200+ damage. The things are so much different, because Rainbow Road needs a setup to do this and Xerneas need three Energies to attack (one fairy plus one Double Colorless Energy). I think this deck is inconsistent and Parallel City hurts the strategy. I know that even with Parallel city on board, you have the option to let on the bench Galvantula, Bisharp and Volcanion-EX and still hit for 190 if you already have all the setup. But in pratice you still need the slots on the bench mainly to setup a new Xerneas or just to have a Xerneas on the bench with Exp. Share waiting to receive the basic Energy to attack next turn. About the consistency we are talking about a deck that plays 2 lines of evolution and an attacker that depends on Special Energy plus basic Energy, this is not easy to get fast and I don’t think that is easy to keep energizing and attacking with Xerneas if your opponent is able to knockout one Xerneas per turn. Even all those things setup, Xerneas can miss some knockouts against Megas or-EX with Fighting Fury Belt.

Well, those are the biggest myths of the format right now for me. If you know some case of deck, card or strategy that got hype with no reason in this format, please tell me in the comments! Now let’s talk about some good and interesting lists that I prepared for you guys.


Three Interesting Deck Choices for Standard

Now that I have been training a lot this format, there are 3 deck choices that I think it’s good and out of the spotlights in the metagame right now. I bring to this article a rogue deck, that is a Xerneas Break / Lugia / Garbodor deck, a known but underrated Zygarde / Carbink deck and a known and tier 1 metagame Darkrai/Giratina-EX deck. In case of Darkrai/Giratina-EX deck, I think the deck is out of spotlight because M Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor, M Rayquaza (with no reason) and M Scizor-EX are the biggest star right now and Darkrai/Giratina-EX still has some free path to shine.


Cards Explanation:

3-3 Xerneas Break

Geomancy brings Energies to the board in early turns while Xerneas Break hits hard in the middle and end game.

2 Lugia FCO

With a lot of-EX in the format, Lugia FCO have a good attack to deal with it. Your 120 HP plus your Ability and Fighting Fury Belt let Lugia with a total of 180 HP to be knocked out, while your attack hits for 120 damage. This is perfect to knockout Shaymin-EX and Manaphy in 1 hit and any-EX in two hits.

2 Lugia-EX

Different of Xerneas/Break paired with Giratina-EX, Lugia-EX can be a good starter since you can Aeroball since turn 1 with just a Double Colorless attack, that’s why I just play 3 copies of Baby Xerneas, because if start with Lugia-EX it’s ok as well. Besides this, Lugia Ex loves Energy and it’s a decent attacker with two great attacks.

1 Mew FCO

Mew is the best counter of Mewtwo if Garbodor isn’t on board, so if there is a chance, Mew FCO can shine copying Lugia FCO or Lugia-EX attack against M Mewtwo-EX.


1-1 Garbodor

I know it’s a thin line and there will be many games where build Garbodor won’t be possible but I think the metagame is changing and players are choosing decks that don’t depend so much on Abilities to work. It’s inconsistent to bring Garbodor but I still have a chance to do if I really need. On the other hand, there will be games that I need Mew FCO and Lugia FCO abilities more than Garbotoxin. One thing that you might have noticed is the lack of Float Stone. The idea here is to attach exp. share on Garbodor and retreat via Fairy Garden if needed. In this way, Garbodor isn’t only a bench sitter, but an Energy keeper for Xerneas Break.

2 Shaymin-EX


3 Professor Sycamore / 3 N / 3 Trainer’s Mail / 2 Lysandre / 4 VS Seeker / 4 Ultra Ball

Standard. The big difference is that I dropped 1 Professor Sycamore for 3rd N because I play two evolutions line and I depend on Energies to do my damage, so I don’t want to discard to many resources in a Sycamore play.

3 Max Elixir

I just play 3 copies because it seems effective only in turn 1 or 2.  I play only 9 Fairies and probably I want to use Geomancy as soon as possible, so the deck become with just a few Energies to use Max Elixir. I consider drop all Max Elixir in order to increase consistency of Geomancy turn 1 and keep Energies on board, maybe 10th Fairy, 4h Xerneas and a Escape Rope or the 4th Exp. Share.

2 Fighting Fury Belt

This tool is nice for Lugia-EX and Lugia FCO.

3 Exp. Share

The soul of the deck, these tools keep Energy on board for Xerneas Break while it let Lugia FCO being able to attack easily without spending two Energy attaches on it. It’s good to do a big Lugia-EX in some matchups as well.

1 Super Rod

It’s nice to get back Energies and pieces of Garbodor.

4 Fairy Garden

It’s amazing to spend retreat slots in a Stadium because I can use a better “switch” and counter an opponent’s stadium at the same time.

9 Fairy Energy

In decks like this it’s hard to fit enough Energy, we always ask for more. I think 9 is the minimum that we can play with we want to hit a Max Elixir with some consistency. Thanks to Xerneas’s Geomancy, we don’t depend on Max Elixir to bring multiples Energy on board. The ideal number to hit Elixir with consistency is 11 or more Energies in my opinion.

4 Double Colorless Energy


Deck analysis

This is a well-balanced deck in general, with a versatile attackers, split numbers of EX and non-EX attackers and attacks that are strong and easy to perform. There aren’t any decks that you have big advantages but in other hand this deck don’t have many bad matchups. This deck has a bad matchup against M Rayquaza, which it’s not the end of the world because M Ray is being heavily countered, but in general you can play against any deck in format.


M Rayquaza: 30/70

M Mewtwo: 50/50

M Scizor: 50/50

Volcanion-EX: 60/40

Xerneas Rainbow Road: 60/40

Greninja: 70/30

Vileplume/Blockers (Regice/Glaceon/Jolteon): 70/30



Card Explanation

4 Zygarde-EX

It is the main attacker and it is a good starter as well.

2-2 Carbink Break

Sometimes just one attack with Carbink Break is enough for the entire game and sometimes I don’t need any attack of Carbink Break. It’s a good starter and Carbink’s Ability buy some time against-EX Pokémon to setup Zygarde-EX’s All Cells Burn on the bench.

2 Shaymin-EX


1 Hoopa-EX

I opted to put Hoopa-EX because I can get Zygarde and Shaymin-EX with one Ultra Ball and save other balls for Carbink setup and I can thin my deck at least for 4 Cards (Hoopa + 3 EX) to increase the chance to hit Max Elixir.

3 Professor Sycamore / 3 N / 3 Trainer’s Mail


1 Pokémon Center Lady

This Supporter plus the second attack of Zygarde-EX can heal 90 in the same turn. It means that Zygarde-EX can survive several turns on active spot.

1 Olympia

I need retreat in this deck everytime because Zygarde-EX is too heavy and to have a consistent synergy between Carbink break and Zygarde-EX All Cells Burn attack, so Olympia fits well in the deck. Olympia heals 30 as well, it’s a bonus effect.

1 Pokémon Ranger

I use this card because of Regice and Jirachi. It’s useful against Giratina-EX as well.

4 Ultra Ball


4 Max Elixir

This is the best way to get a fast All Cells burn attack or get a strong attack in the begginning of the game. Carbink Break will come in hand in the end of the game, just to refill the last All Cells burn.

2 Power of Memory

Now the metagame is about high HP and high amount of damage. Zygarde-EX have both. Power Memory is the key to trade knockouts against the Megas and basic EX with Fighting Fury attached. Specially against M Mewtwo-EX, it’s perfect do All Cells Burn for 220 (you just need 1 Strong Energy) and discard 3 Energies, forcing a Fresh M Mewtwo-EX put 6 Energy on it to perform a 190 Psychic Infinity attack.


2 Fighting Fury Belt

Power Memory is amazing but you can’t do this all the time. There will be games like Zoroark decks that you just need high HP and a standard attack.

2 Escape Rope / 2 Switch

Like I said before, Zygarde-EX is heavy and this deck must have to retreat with consistent to perform well. Escape rope is good to avoid Bursting Balloon and sometimes to bring an EX from the bench while switch it’s consistent and sometimes you don’t want to change opponent Pokémon from the active.

2 Parallel City

Good to remove Shaymin-EX and Hoopa and amazing against M Rayquaza and Volcanion-EX.

Deck Analysis

This deck is simple and plays well against most decks of the meta. The bad matchups of the deck are Yanmega and Vespiquen, but with Garbodor being so powerful in format I don’t see Yanmega being played so much and about Vespiquen all that I have to say is Karen is out. The secret of this deck is to know the right time to keep hitting and healing or go all in with All Cells Burn. I think these decisions are easy to make, just because the board will tell you the right direction you have to take.


M Rayquaza: 40/60

M Mewtwo: 60/40

M Scizor: 60/40

Volcanion-EX: 60/40

Xerneas Rainbow Road: 40/60

Greninja: 50/50

Vileplume/Blockers (Regice/Glaceon/Jolteon): 40/60


Card Explanation

3 Darkrai-EX

It’s the main attacker of the deck. I remember when Darkrai-EX BKP was released, everyone thought the good attack was the second, but the truth is that the first attack is amazing. Hit a tons of damage with just two Energies attached on it is what makes this Pokémon one the best of the format. Strong Pokémon like M Mewtwo-EX and Yveltal-EX need a lot of Energy attached to do a one hit knockout.

2 Giratina-EX

The main reason of Giratina-EX is to boost Darkrai-EX damage, but now with the meta so focused on Mega, Giratina-EX started to shiny almost like Darkrai-EX in the deck.

2 Yveltal

This Pokémon is one of the most annoying being KOed. 130 HP (170 with FFB) and a small damage  attack that make a big difference in order to get a knockout against EX, Baby Yveltal is great in the deck as well.

2 Shaymin-EX / 1 Hoopa-EX

I see some players using 3 copies and that is Ok, but I like to use just 2 because I use in the beginning of the game and after a Garbodor is done, Shaymin-EX become useless. In this deck I use Super Rod, so if my matchup isn’t against Garbodor, I can use Parallel City to take Shaymin-EX from my bench and then recover Shaymin-EX to the deck with Super Rod to reuse in the End Game, where N for 1 or 2 will hurt a lot.

4 Professor Sycamore / 2 N / 3 Trainer’s Mail


1 Skyla

I like this card because it can be a Ultra Ball in turn 1 (Which is good), a good consistency card for mid game and a better card than N in end game.

2 Lysandre


1 Hex Maniac / 1 Pokemon Ranger

These are “safety cards” in the deck to deal with many big and small things of the metagame like Carbink or Regice.

4 VS Seeker


4 Ultra Ball


4 Max Elixir



3 Fighting Fury Belt

Maybe 4th FFB wouldn’t be a bad idea, but now there is no way of remove tools, so three copies is fine.

2 Escape Rope

This card is good when I have to retreat something with Fighting Fury Belt attached or to avoid Bursting Balloon.

2 Float Stone

Standard. I play float Stone on Giratina in matchups that Giratina-EX is on the bench just to boost Darkrai-EX attack.

1 Super Rod

Good to retrieve dark Energies back and Shaymin-EX for the end game.

2 Parallel City

Parallel City + Chaos Wheel is amazing against M Rayquaza. The other advantages of Parallel you already know.

1 Faded Town

Again, Chaos Wheel + Faded town means that you hit for at least 140 damage against a Mega, because your opponent can’t take your stadium out.

9 Darkness / 4 DDE


Deck analysis

I think this deck is the best choice right now. I think M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor is a stronger deck, but I like how Darkrai/Giratina-EX is consistent, fast and deals with everything in the metagame. M Mewtwo/Garbodor is on the Spotlight and if there a deck that players want to counter will be Mewtwo, not Darkrai, so I think Darkrai/Giratina have some free path in the format.


M Rayquaza: 70/30

M Mewtwo: 50/50

M Scizor: 60/40

Volcanion-EX: 50/50

Xerneas Rainbow Road: 60/40

Greninja: 50/50

Vileplume/Blockers (Regice/Glaceon/Jolteon): 40/60 

Final Thoughts

Well, I think the metagame is very open with so many ideas with real chances of doing well, but right now my bets are in decks that is simple and consistent to play and don't rely on abilities. Xerneas Break/Lugia is a similar version of Darkrai-EX, but the main difference is the count of EX and non-EX of each deck. Zygarde-EX is the most simple of the three decks and probably the most consistent and fast one. M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor still is the biggest threat of the meta and it isn’t a thing easy to be countered, but it’s not the end of the world, there a lot of decks that can play well against it and these three decks that I presented in this article are examples of this.

I hope you like this article and I see you next time.

Thank you for reading!

[+8] okko


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