Experts' corner

Russell  LaParre

Samurai Jack and the Abyssal Hand

Let’s discuss the deck I wanted to profile today Gallade/Octillery.

01/15/2016 by Russell LaParre


What’s going on, 60cards readers! My name is Russell LaParre and this will be my first article ever written for competitive Pokémon TCG. I’d like to start by introducing myself. I’ve been playing Pokémon TCG competitively for coming up on three years now. Throughout these three years I’ve made Top 16 at Nationals, won a State Championship, made Top four at one and Top 8 at two others, and I’ve made Top 8 at a Regional Championship with numerous City Championship wins and tops. I used to play VS System TCG competitively for about three years and Yu-Gi-Oh! for about 6 years having a few accomplishments in both. I tend to play off-meta or rogue-type decks that can catch my opponents off-guard and force them to adapt to a deck they’ve never seen before. I also favor building extremely reckless and tech-filled lists as opposed to decks full of consistency cards with little to no plays of adaptation. With that out of the way, let’s discuss the deck I wanted to profile today Gallade/Octillery. 

The Origins

Before we get to the list I wanted to discuss the creation of this entertaining deck. Around the third week of December, two players named Daniel Watt and Fred Hoban made top cut of their City Championship at Tarentum, PA with Daniel Watt winning the entire tournament using their Gallade/Octillery deck. Fred reached out to me with the list hoping to reveal their deck to the Pokémon community and receive some feedback on how they could improve it. We’ll start by looking at the original list and how we improved it.


The overall goal of this deck is to establish as many Gallade BKT as you can on your field alongside Octillery BKT using their Abilities Premonition and Abyssal Hand to organize and draw the cards you chose from your deck to maintain a steady stream of Sensitive Blades to win the game. 

At first glance I noticed a few things about this list that most players deem “necessary” to play in the Standard format. The absence of Shaymin-EX and absolutely no Professor Sycamore which is without a doubt the best Supporter in the game. Why no Shaymin-EX? This deck sets up through Octillery BKT’s Abyssal Hand Ability and uses a combination of Brigette, Korrina, and Level Ball to put multiple Gallade into play, allowing us to use Premonition multiple times in a turn alongside Abyssal Hand to constantly refuel and plan out future turns. I believe the lack of Shaymin-EX, or any Pokémon-EX for that matter, is a strong asset to this deck being as successful as it has been in the Standard format. It forces an opponent to take six knockouts in one game, which is an unusual thing in the competitive Pokémon TCG community as over the past couple of years, the metagame has grown to include at least one Jirachi-EX PLB and/or one Shaymin-EX ROS in every deck. You can get away with playing one Shaymin-EX in the deck but the lack of Ultra Ball and risk it provides on Bench as being a potential two Prizes your opponent could take off of a Lysandre far outweigh its potential benefits. I would strongly advise against playing one.

Playing no Professor Sycamore was a strong decision made by Daniel and Fred as it allowed every card in their deck have the potential to be played at any point in the game as they no longer had to discard cards early in the game to get to their wanted board state. Most decks can’t accomplish this feat as Korrina and Octillery are able to provide the consistency that Professor Sycamore supplies to almost every deck in the format.  Let’s stop talking about what the deck doesn’t have and get into why certain cards were chosen and which ones should be added.


2 Hawlucha FFI: Hawlucha provides three important tasks for the deck that not many cards in the game could. One, it has free Retreat on a basic Pokémon allowing us to use Brigette to bring it out to the Bench and constantly swapping it out for a Gallade. Two, it provides a single-Fighting Energy attacker in the deck to can complement the 2HKO that Gallade BKT will normally take on Pokémon-EX. Three, it can utilize any Focus Sash that could potentially clog your hand when your dire need of drawing cards with Abyssal Hand. Do we need two? I don’t believe so, as one Hawlucha paired with a Super Rod is all you’ll need as this card isn’t essential for the deck to function.  

4-2-3 Gallade AOR/AOR/BKT: The first thing I recommended to Fred and Daniel was adding in the fourth Gallade BKT to the deck as it is the main attacker and has one of the best Abilities in the Standard format, Premonition. I recommend playing both the Ralts AOR and Kirlia AOR as it has resistance to Darkness attacks allowing you to absorb a few Yveltal XY/Zoroark BKT attacks which are extremely common as Yveltal XY/Zoroark BKT/Gallade BKT is one of the strongest decks in the Standard format, as outlined by John Kettler in his article “The Dirge Of Darkness”. Why two Kirlia? I’ve found myself making five or six Gallade BKT in a few matchups and playing two Kirlia allows you to setup future turns of evolving Gallade manually when you’ve already used a Korrina to fetch the amazing Gallade/Rare Candy combo.

2-2 Octillery: The 2-2 Octillery is the trickiest Pokémon line in the deck. Sometimes I find myself wanting to play a third Remoraid for the sake never Prizing my only two but at that risk I could also end up prizing two Octillery. Playing the third Remoraid would also allow me to sacrifice them during early turns of the game allowing me to setup my Gallade lines behind it without running the risk of having only one Remoraid for the rest of the game until I play a Super Rod or Sacred Ash. I ultimately decided on keeping the 2-2 line but this could easily become three if you are an extremely “safe” player.

No Jirachi XY67: The deck has a difficult matchup with Giratina AOR and Seismitoad-EX as their attacks Chaos Wheel and Quaking Punch, respectively, cause numerous problems for this deck to overcome. I recommend playing at least one Jirachi XY67 in this deck as it can be Benched instantly by Brigette and turn your awful matchups in favorable ones. Just breaking the Quaking Punch lock for one turn can put your entire setup on board and allow you to use Premonition and Abyssal Hand to plan out the next couple of turns against whatever lock is causing you issues.


4 Korrina: Korrina provides you the ability to search a Gallade/Rare Candy with just one card. That’s an insane way to get your turn-two setup on board and keep every card in your hand. If you already have a Rare Candy in your hand, you could search a Gallade and Level Ball to grab an Octillery from your deck and begin the Premonition/Abyssal Hand combo with ease. While I think this card provides a great early game setup, I believe playing four Korrina is unnecessary and ends up clogging your hand in the mid-to-late-game transition as it does not allow you to grab any Energy, which seems to be biggest issue I’ve run into when having multiple Gallade and Octillery established. I dropped this count from four to three and the deck has been setting up extremely well.

2 Brigette: Brigette is the absolute best start you can have to this deck. It allows you to begin your optimal turn one by getting Hawlucha, Ralts, and Remoraid on your Bench depending on whichever Pokémon you opened as your active. You might be thinking “This card becomes useless after turn one,” but I’ve found after piloting this deck over the course of five City Championships that you usually play Brigette at least twice during a single game. With the great start this card provides scaled against the risk of having multiple copies of it in your hand clogging your Abyssal Hand Ability, I’ve decided to play three copies of Brigette alongside one Ultra Ball.  

2 Judge:  Judge is a great Supporter for this deck as it provides control on your opponents hand and a way to refresh a potentially clogged start when you’re in desperate need to use Abyssal Hand. Ideally, you’d like to play this card turn three or four after using Brigette and Korrina to put Gallade and Octillery into play but it’s not an awful play on turn one if you’ve been a couple of your Basic Pokémon into play. Playing two is recommended but this card slot that can be dropped to one if you’re in the mood to tech for particular matchups.

2 Lysandre: Gallade BKT’s attack Sensitive Blade jumps from 60 damage to 130 damage after you’ve played a Supporter for the turn. This means a Lysandre on a Shaymin-EX ROS into a Sensitive Blade deals an OHKO and nets you two Prizes with a one-Prize attacker. That’s an insane trade in Prizes and is one of the best win conditions in this deck. Since Gallade BKT can only hit for 60 to 130 damage with this build that lacks strong Energy and Fighting stadium you are more than likely going to attack a Pokémon-EX twice before taking a knockout. With this game plan you’ll need to use multiple Lysandre to grab Pokémon that Retreat to the Bench after being attacked the turn before. Playing two is the best count for this deck.

1 Giovanni’s Scheme: Giovanni’s Scheme adds a fun feature to the deck in boosting your Sensitive Blade to 150 and with a Muscle Band attached, you’d reach 170 damage allowing you to one-shot some strong attackers in the Standard format, mainly Giratina AOR. With the boost of Muscle Band, Giovanni’s Scheme provides the 20 damage increase you’ll need against Yveltal XY and Crobat PHF to OHKO them after calculating their resistance. I’ve rarely used the draw-until-five effect of Giovanni’s Scheme so I will say if you expect to play against a lot of Crobat PHF and Yveltal XY, play this card and a Muscle Band. If you do not, then this card can be cut from the list.

Teammates: This was one of the final additions to the list. After playing with deck a couple of times, we noticed that during the mid-to-late-game transition, we wanted to be able to fetch Double Colorless Energy and a win condition such as Target Whistle, Lysandre, or VS Seeker. Teammates was able to provide this option without taking up multiple spots in the deck.

Xerosic: If you’re expecting to play against multiple decks that rely on special Energy such as Seismitoad Ex/Giratina AOR, Seismitoad-EX/Bats, or Night March this would be a good tech Supporter to add but you have to weigh the risks of having it clog your opening starts and being one less card you’re fetching with Abyssal Hand.

Hex Maniac: This card is a pure metagame call. If you expect to play against a lot of Vileplume AOR, Golbat/Crobat PHF, and Zoroark BKT you should play one in your list. I don’t believe it’s 100% necessary for the deck to function.

Cassius: The final tech Supporter I was consider to play. Cassius could add a damaged Gallade with Focus Sash back into the deck and conserve a Pokémon line along with a DCE, further denying your opponent a knockout or a chance to play around one of the Focus Sashes in your deck. I’d advise playing this card if you don’t have multiple Seismitoad/Giratina or Night March decks in your area.


4 VS Seeker: One of the best cards in the game. Provides multiple copies of resources to your deck with cards that you might only play one or two of. Play 4.

4 Level Ball: Many decks tend to play four Ultra Ball to search whichever Pokémon they’d like in their but since this deck has the consistency of Korrina, Premonition, and Abyssal Hand you are given the luxury of playing Level Ball to search for every Pokémon in your deck except Gallade BKT. Playing four is perfect.

4 Rare Candy: This card lets you get out a turn two Gallade and begin putting pressure on your opponent with Sensitive Blade. Since we upgraded to playing four Gallade and you can make five or six Gallade in a single game through Sacred Ash and Super Rod we need to play four.

3 Focus Sash: Focus Sash is a powerful Tool that swings your tough matchups into relatively easy ones. Imagine you’re playing a deck that plays multiple Pokémon-EX and only has one Startling Megaphone or one Xerosic to combat three Focus Sash and essentially needs to take nine knockouts against your opponent before they take three or four against you. That’s the type of struggle that Focus Sash and this deck creates for your opponent. I found four was too many and might clog your opening hand unideal starts such as opening no Brigette and only having Korrina as your starting Supporter.

3 Trainers' Mail: Trainers' Mail is an absurd item card in the Standard format that provides consistency and helps you hit Brigette turn one which is extremely important. One of best features of this card is that it provides a shuffle to your deck when you use Premonition and do not see the resource you’re fishing for with Abyssal Hand.

1 Target Whistle: In a deck that forces your opponent to take six Prizes without any Pokémon-EX, this card is one of the strongest late-game Items you could play. Playing Target Whistle on a Shaymin-EX then using Lysandre to bring it active is a great win condition that this deck has at its disposal.

1 Muscle Band: Since this deck has no Strong Energy nor Fighting Stadium, all this one Muscle Band does is allow your Gallade to OHKO any Yveltal XY and Crobat PHF. If you don’t expect to play against many decks that resist Fighting, I do not recommend keeping this. This is another slot you can cut.

1 Enhanced Hammer: A lot Special Energy are played in the Standard format and Enhanced Hammer provides you plays against Giratina AOR and any Double Colorless Energy that could be attached to Benched popular attackers such as Vespiquen, Yveltal-EX, Zoroark BKT, and Seismitoad-EX. Playing one Enhanced Hammer also allows you to OHKO a Mega Manectric-EX or Raikou that has one Flash Energy attached to it. This could be a surprise OHKO against an opponent who thinks they’re in a strong position.

1 Ultra Ball: If you’re piloting this deck and play a bunch of cards that could potentially stay clogged in your hand you can use this one Ultra Ball to discard unwanted resources in hopes that you’ll refill your hand with Abyssal Hand. Since Level Ball already grabs every Pokémon in the deck except Gallade BKT this is ideal to keep at one.

1 Super Rod: I kept Super Rod at one in most builds as you might need to refuel Basic Fighting Energy in matchups where your opponent played Enhanced Hammer and Xerosic to control any Double Colorless Energy on your board before you can take your final couple of Prizes.

1 Sacred Ash: I have dropped Sacred Ash from my recent list as I found I’m usually able to end the game without making my sixth Gallade BKT, but I could see its inclusion if you run into moments where you want to use Jirachi XY67 after it’s been KO’d twice.

1 Escape Rope: This was originally put in the list by Dan and Fred to answer an opposing Jirachi XY67, but after playing with the deck a couple of times, I’ve felt this is unnecessary and should be swapped out for a Float Stone.

Float Stone: The final card I wanted to add after looking over this list was Float Stone. Playing Float Stone allows you to Retreat any non-attacking Pokémon in the deck as well as providing an easy card to get out of your hand when you want to refill using Abyssal Hand. Playing two is perfect for this deck.

Startling Megaphone: If you play in a metagame that has a lot of Mega Evolution decks, Focus Sash, and Float Stone-dependent decks I’d recommend playing one copy of Startling Megaphone to add a midgame to late-game control. Every deck tends to play at least one copy of Spirit Link, Muscle Band, or Float Stone so this card should never be dead during any point in a game.

Battle Compressor: An interesting idea that was chosen to be including in the original list is the addition of one Battle Compressor to discard Supporters from your deck so they can all be brought back with VS Seeker at any point in the game. This is a strong play if you’re opting to play multiple tech Supporters like Xerosic or Hex Maniac that could be useless in matchups and game breaking in others.

No Stadium: I don’t believe a stadium is needed for this deck as there aren’t many stadiums that potentially damage this deck. If you’re going to play a stadium of your own I’d recommend Silent Lab or Parallel City. Since this deck has no Shaymin-EX, the only card that you hinder through Silent Lab is Hawlucha and that will rarely factor into its attacks. I would rather not play Silent Lab and encourage my opponent’s to Bench Shaymin-EX so I could force bad Prize trades with Gallade BKT. Parallel City provides some control on your opponent’s Bench and protects yourself from receiving the Blue side control and potentially losing a Gallade or Octillery in the process.


Strong Energy: Playing strong Energy brings more Special Energy to your field which leaves your Hawlucha or Gallade vulnerable to Aegislash-EX, Enhanced Hammer, Xerosic, and Jirachi XY67. The deck was created to take a non-aggressive approach and maintain a steady two-hit knockout game state against Pokémon-EX, so you’re able to play Basic Fighting Energy and your own Jirachi XY67 to control your opponent.


Mega Manectric-EX/Raikou: This should be one of the easier matchups for your deck. You can one-shot any attacker in their deck with Sensitive Blade after using a Supporter that turn. If you play Enhanced Hammer this matchup is all but guaranteed even if your opponent plays Flash Energy.

Night March: I’d consider this matchup close depending on how fast both of the decks open. If you are able to get a turn-two Gallade with a Focus Sash alongside an Octillery, you can usually squeeze out the win against them if they Bench one or two Shaymin-EX throughout the game. I tend to use my first Lysandre to Knock Out a Shaymin-EX then Knock Out two Night Marchers and end the game with a Target Whistle-into-Lysandre play on the Shaymin-EX that was Knocked Out in the beginning of the game. If your opponent is using the Milotic build instead of the Bronzong variant, I like to use Jirachi XY67 to remove as many DCE as I can, then use Enhanced Hammer and Lysandre on Bronzong to burn my opponent out of Energy so they’re unable to take six Prizes.

Entei/Charizard: Entei/Charizard can provide a lot of pressure early and most of the recent builds have been teching Pokémon Catcher to get quicker knockouts on Shaymin-EX which also hurts this deck as they’re able to target down your Ralts and Remoraid before you establish their Evolutions. You need to keep a mindset that you do not need to Knock Out Entei in this matchup. If you’re playing Target Whistle, you can easily take three knockout against their Shaymin-EX or two-shot their Charizard-EX and KO their two Shaymin-EX while Focus Sash keeps their Entei at bay. Using Lysandre to KO an Entei that is Benched with Muscle Band and potentially Fire Energy or Double Colorless Energy is also a strong play as the active Entei is usually going to have their Flame Screen effect active during your turn.

Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade: This is one of the easier matchups in the metagame, as playing Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick for Gallade BKT means your opponents are less likely to be playing tech cards against Focus Sash. If your list has Muscle Band and Giovanni’s Scheme, you’re able to take quick KOs on Yveltal XY and trade hits with Gallade BKT. My gameplan is to target every Zorua or Zoroark on the Bench with Lysandre then work on their Shaymin-EX or Yveltal-EX to finish the game while having Muscle Band and Giovanni’s Scheme providing the OHKO against Yveltal XY if they choose to power it up to the point where they can use Darkness Blade to pressure a Gallade after using Oblivion Wing.

Manectric-EX/Crobat: This matchup could be somewhat annoying depending on how many Golbat PHF and Crobat PHF your opponent is able to get into play. Keep in mind that you should never attach a Focus Sash to Gallade as that could would give Manectric Ex that option to Assault Laser you for the boosted 60 damage. Just Lysandre every Zubat/Golbat/Crobat you can and remember that Manectric-EX alone will have a tough time Knocking Out your Gallade.

M Mewtwo-EX X/Y: I consider this matchup to be extremely favorable as most consistent Mewtwo decks need to play multiple Shaymin-EX on their Bench and they can only use Damage Change for a maximum of 130 damage if you play conservatively and do not attach your Muscle Band or play Giovanni’s Scheme for an extra 20 damage. Keep constant track of how many VS Seeker and Lysandre they have in their discard as you can use Focus Sash to swing the matchup in your favor even after they use Lysandre on a Benched Octillery or Ralts then Damage Change the previous turn’s Sensitive Blade damage on it for a Knock Out. Keep in mind you they need to take six Prizes against you and it’s tough for them to do so before you Knock Out two of their Shaymin-EX and a non-powered-up Mewtwo-EX.

Dragons/Bronzong: This is the matchup where Jirachi shines. If you’re able to remove two to three Double Dragon Energy against your opponent's Giratina and keep the lock offline, then you’ll see this matchup is favorable. Attach a Float Stone to Jirachi as soon as possible and use it to control their Giratina until you can safely take KOs with Gallade against their Pokémon-EX.  Much like other decks that play Sky Field most Tyrantrum/Giratina/Bronzong variants will Bench multiple Shaymin and can fall behind in the Prize exchange with Gallade/Octillery.  

To end this article, I’d like to say that this deck is extremely unique and equally fun to pilot between using Premonition and Abyssal Hand to organize and draw your deck then forcing your opponent to play around three Focus Sash in a deck that has no Pokémon-EX makes this one of the most amusing decks you can use in the current Standard Format. I’d like to give my thanks to Daniel Watt and Fred Hoban for creating such a monster pioneer list and thank you for taking your time to read my first ever article. I look forward to hearing any and all feedback from you. Peace!

-Russell LaParre


[+11] okko


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