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Caleb Gedemer

Zoroark-GX and the Bigger Brain — A Crabby Rogue Deck for California Regionals

Crabominable, The Pokemon, The Meme, The Legend; is it time for it to finally shine in the Expanded format?

02/27/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

Hey everybody, Costa Mesa, California Regionals is closer than ever! It’s time to lock in a deck choice, but before you do that I want to try to sell one last deck: Zoroark-GX / Crabominable. This rogue deck has performed well in testing with many of my friends and teammates, so it’s certainly something that’s on my radar. Crabominable is an often-memed Pokémon that’s never seen a lot of success in competitive play. Why would it be good in here with Zoroark-GX, you might ask? In the Expanded format with nearly every deck running Zoroark-GX, finding a strong Pokémon counter with a high-power ceiling is something super desirable. Crabominable is that card, and with the potential to take a one-hit Knockout on Zoroark-GX every time it attacks, you have the potential to put your opponent in a world of hurt very quickly.

Its formidable HP actually protects it from one-hit Knockouts in Zoroark-GX mirror matches where you have Sudowoodo in play. With a limited Bench, your opponent tops out at 100 damage to Crabominable with Riotous Beating. Comparatively, if you keep your Bench at four Pokémon, Zoroark with Mind Jack also won’t be able to reach to the point of taking one-hit Knockouts. Why does any of this matter? You can lead with your Crabominable, take a two-Prize Knockout and once you don’t get knocked out in return you’ll be able to blow something else up for another two Prizes. Crabominable is a tank and it goes to town on Zoroark-GX decks if you have an optimal setup.

Zoroark-GX serves as your main attacker in this deck nonetheless, but it’s a bit more of an afterthought in mirror matches (you want to focus on getting out your Crabominable first). Trade is always a nice component to have in a deck, creating a consistent force that is really only penetrable with Hex Maniac or other Ability lock. Crabominable is the best Fighting Pokémon for your buck in the Expanded format if you’re looking for a direct counter to Zoroark-GX decks, which just so happens to be a hugely concentrated percentage of the meta. Look no further if you’re searching for a last-minute rogue deck for California Regionals!

§Crabby List

§Crabby Explanations

4 Zorua DEX 70, 3 Zoroark-GX SLG 53, and 1 Zoroark BLW 71

As always, this is the optimal Zorua. Three Zoroark-GX is a great starting point, and playing four is almost always necessary. Before playing a fourth, you should be playing an additional copy of a search card like Pokémon Communication, or Evosoda (in the Standard format). Zoroark with Foul Play is better in this deck since you do play Sudowoodo. You can copy a variety of decks that would otherwise give you problems. Anything that’s capable of taking a Crabominable in one hit is also capable of being copied with Foul Play for a comeback one-hit Knockout.

2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60 and 1 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

This support lineup for this deck has been optimal for me. Two Tapu Lele-GX is all you need when you’re playing four Brigette (covered later) and a single Shaymin-EX works well for this deck since you want to save your Bench spaces for your techs and Crabominable, itself, obviously. This deck plays similarly to Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX in the early game: prioritizing getting Wimpod down (Crabrawler). When you’re focusing on getting Basics down that aren’t Zorua, you’re not going to have as much room for things like Shaymin-EX.

2 Crabrawler SUM 72 and 2 Crabominable BUS 74

I love the simplicity of a two, two line of Crabominable. It’s all you need, since you can play Rescue Stretcher to get a piece back if you ever have to. This is the biggest drawing point to this deck, obviously, as a formidable Fighting tech attacker to punish Zoroark-GX decks definitely has a place in the Expanded format which is currently extremely oversaturated with Fighting-weak decks.

1 Sudowoodo GRI 66, 1 Regirock-EX FCO 43, and 1 Exeggcute PLF 4

For utility cards, Sudowoodo is a must for the mirror match. This deck doesn’t have the space to be playing Alolan Muk. Alolan Muk is a counter to Sudowoodo in opposing Zoroark-GX decks, but since you have Crabominable, you’re already playing a tech to beat Zoroark-GX decks so playing anything more than that is just necessarily. Regirock-EX is super nice to hit numbers with Crabominable.

Gusty Hammer (80) + Strong Energy (20) + Regirock-EX in Play (10) = 110 Damage

The above scenario is the biggest draw to playing it. It’s a super nice, searchable damage modifier that really plays into your strategy of always taking one-hit Knockouts on Zoroark-GX whenever you have the chance. Normally, you can just use a Choice Band to do it, but that’s not an immediately searchable card with something like Ultra Ball. Regirock-GX can come in handy in many situations; some of them you need to look for and be aware of your additional damage potential, though. Exeggcute is a must have in pretty much any Zoroark-GX deck. It’s too good not to play as it makes your Trade uses free of charge if you use Propagation. Ultra Ball are easier to use as well, but for Trade alone, there’s no reason not to be playing Exeggcute already.

1 Oricorio GRI 56 and 1 Bunnelby PRC 121

These are strictly techs. Oricorio is obviously for Night March, which this deck can struggle against. Since you don’t have the option to play Alolan Muk, you’re a little worse off than other Zoroark-GX decks. Oricorio can shore you up in the matchup, though, and get you the advantage that you’re looking for. Bunnelby is a tech for stall decks like Wailord-EX, and it should get you a free win. Rototiller is useful against Seismitoad-EX decks as well to recover some of your resources, so it’s not completely dead outside of the Wailord-EX matchup. If you’re fortunate enough, you might even play into a situation where you deck someone out if he or she leaves themselves with just two cards left in deck!

4 Brigette

Four Brigette gives you roughly a fifty percent chance of starting with it naturally in your opening hand. In the Expanded format where Glaceon-GX and even Hex Maniac are becoming popular, having all the better odds of opening with Brigette is preferable. Your win percentages are off the charts whenever you start with it naturally, so I highly recommend playing this count so that you’re not put at a disadvantage whenever your opponent locks out your Abilities. Lastly, these all can become worthy Trade fodder in the late game, so there’s no harm in playing a higher count since you can just thin them out with your Zoroark-GX at a later time.

2 Colress, 1 Teammates, 1 N, and 1 Cynthia

Two Colress is a must in every Zoroark-GX, at least. I’ve been considering playing even more to bolster your outs after a Hex Maniac and Red Card play from your opponent. In those situations, the only thing you can do is hope to draw an out to drawing more cards that doesn’t include Abilities. Teammates is very valuable in this deck because Crabominable sometimes only needs an Energy to do its work. Luckily, Teammates can keep that flow of support going and keep your attacks coming. Since you’re not an overly aggressive deck (no Alolan Muk included), you are more linear in the decisions you can make. When it comes to getting a return Knockout, you have to be able to take it in order to stay in games. For situations where you can’t afford to miss what you need, Teammates is your best bet. Cynthia gets swapped in for Professor Sycamore in almost every Zoroark-GX deck in the Expanded format, and this deck is no different. Cynthia is a nice way to draw a set number of cards when Colress just isn’t cutting. Four draw Supporters is on the low side of things when it comes to defending yourself properly against Ability lock, but in matchups where Ability lock doesn’t exist, then you’ll be just fine. The majority of your matchups won’t be against a lock, so this lineup will be all right.

1 Hex Maniac and 1 Guzma

There isn’t much room for tech Supporters in this deck, but Hex Maniac and Guzma make the cut. Hex Maniac is for combination plays with Red Card, of course, and random utility in a variety of matchups. Guzma is a must in almost every deck, and this one is no different by any stretch.

4 Ultra Ball

A deck revolving around Pokémon needs to play four Ultra Ball to make sure that things work out consistently.

4 Puzzle of Time

Every Zoroark-GX deck should run four of these. Recovery is everything in almost every deck, and with Trade on tap, you’ll get use of all four of your Puzzle of Time almost every game.

3 VS Seeker

This deck needs a little more recovery than super aggressive Zoroark-GX variants. Three VS is a happy medium that still keeps in mind that you won’t use four if you were to play four in a Zoroark-GX deck.

2 Choice Band and 1 Float Stone

This is the perfect Tool count for pretty much any Zoroark-GX deck out there right now. It’s all I’ve ever wanted in testing. Choice Band is a crucial damage modifier for this deck, but with Puzzle of Time you can get the third or fourth copy you might need at some point. Float Stone is a useful pivot in key situations and I’ve only ever needed one. Even with two, you have relatively low odds of starting with it in your first or second turn, so I would rather just play a single copy for the key situations that arise in the middle of the game versus devoting another space to having just a slightly better chance of getting a valuable use out of it in the early game.

1 Rescue Stretcher

Getting back pieces of your Crabominable line is critical in the mirror match, as is recovering Basics to bolster the power of your Riotous Beating for when you’re focusing on Zoroark-GX.

1 Red Card

Part of the deadly Hex Maniac and Red Card combo, this is a must to keep up to par with the many other aggressive decks in the format. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

1 Pokemon Communication

Adding something to your consistency is always nice, and Pokémon Communication helps you improve your starting Brigette odds as you can grab a Tapu Lele-GX with it or any other Pokémon that you’d like as the game goes on. This card is fantastic in decks that play a high count of Pokémon and I highly recommend it in any Zoroark-GX deck, especially this one since you’re playing an alternative attacker in Crabominable.

1 Field Blower

Garbodor with Garbotoxin needs to be countered in some capacity, especially since it’s making a bit of a comeback in the Expanded format. Crabominable just so happens to hit Drampa-GX for Weakness, which can really play to your favor. Field Blower smooths over your draws when Garbotoxin is online and gets you access to your Zoroark-GX and their Trade once more. It’s occasionally decent to discard a Sky Field to remove Pokémon-EX/GX from your Bench, or even stripping away a Fighting Fury Belt. This card is versatile and deserves a spot in pretty much any deck in a single copy, at the least.

1 Computer Search

The best Ace Spec in the game belongs with the best card in the game, Zoroark-GX. Early game consistency is everything, so play Computer Search instead of Dowsing Machine, or any other abysmal Ace Spec for Zoroark-GX decks.

3 Sky Field

With Puzzle of Time you’ll never need more than three hard copies of Sky Field. This deck doesn’t always focus on Zoroark-GX either, since you do use Crabominable frequently, so three Sky Field is fine either way. Playing two could even be all right at times.

4 Double Colorless Energy and 3 Strong Energy

Four copies of your main Energy card is optimal, obviously, and three Strong Energy, or even two of them, is enough to fuel your Crabominable. Teammates helps a lot to provide a motor of sorts to getting Crabominable rolling, so three Strong Energy is certainly the way to go.

§Crabby Options

Second Exeggcute

The second Exeggcute makes Hex Maniac a little stronger of a play in combination with filling up your Bench with Zoroark-GX. While this deck tries to do a lot of things, the one thing it doesn’t do all that well in comparison to other Zoroark-GX decks is using Riotous Beating effectively. Since you don’t have Alolan Muk, your only option is to use Hex Maniac to get around opposing Sudowoodo with Roadblock.

First Battle Compressor

This can fish out your Exeggcute and it also makes your tech Supporters live quicker than usual since you can then use VS Seeker to get them back. This card is interesting and adds a very small sliver of consistency to the deck, too.

First Pokemon Ranger

If you’re worried Seismitoad-EX might still be hanging around, you might want to play a Pokémon Ranger to make things a little more winnable. Getting use of your Items is all it really takes to take down Item lock, but without Pokémon Ranger you won’t ever be able to. The only problem with Pokémon Ranger in this deck is that if the Seismitoad-EX player is using Sudowoodo, then you won’t even be able to fill your Bench up for a Riotous Beating Knockout, even if you do get to pull off a Pokémon Ranger play.

§Crabby Matchups

Buzzwole-GX Toolbox | Slightly Unfavorable

Normal Zoroark-GX decks can handle Buzzwole-GX because of their natural aggression and options. If a Buzzwole-GX deck is running Sudowoodo with Roadblock, you’re probably not going to be able to win. However, if it isn’t, then you have a real fighting chance. Zoroark with Foul Play is an amazing attacker in this matchup because you can copy Knuckle Impact or Absorption GX for one-hit Knockouts on Buzzwole-GX. Crabominable is basically a non-factor in this one, since it doesn't do enough damage to be a reliable attacker. You can take two-hit Knockouts with it but it’s really not worth it if you get taken down in one hit in return. Using Zoroark with Foul Play multiple times gives you the best shot at beating this unfavorable matchup, so try to get as much use out of it as you can with Puzzle of Time and Rescue Stretcher.

Garbodor Toolbox | Slightly Favorable

You can immediately eliminate what’s normally the biggest threat in a Garbodor deck for Zoroark-GX: Drampa-GX. Crabominable hits Drampa-GX for Weakness and can make quick work of them. If you limit your Items, Garbodor with Trashalanche won’t even be a threat in return, even though you do have Weakness to Psychic. Zoroark-GX can cream Garbodor on its own; the big problem was always Righteous Edge from Drampa-GX. Watch out for Parallel City and make sure you get your Field Blower back in the turn you play it with Puzzle of Time. Try to maximize the value of every card you have and take things slow to make sure that you don’t make an irrational play and waste precious resources.

Garbodor / Sableye | Slightly Unfavorable

This matchup is rough. You want to just stick with one attacker, which should be Zoroark-GX. Limit your Bench and don’t put things down that can get trapped in the Active. The whole purpose of a Sableye deck is to deny you resources and ensure that you can’t attack for Knockouts each turn. Your Field Blower is the most important card in this matchup so try to use it as many times as you can. If you can string together a bunch of attacks in a row and use Red Card to disrupt your opponent, this matchup can be doable. Trashalanche is played by Sableye decks, so be sure not to get too crazy on Items either.

Gardevoir-GX | Unfavorable

Your only hope against Gardevoir is early pressure. You want to take down any Ralts or Kirlia you can before they Evolve into Gardevoir-GX or the dreaded Gallade. Either one of those Stage 2 Pokémon will spell doom for you. Red Card with Hex Maniac is okay in this matchup, but it’s not really a win condition like against Zoroark-GX decks. Hope to avoid this matchup; I wouldn’t expect to play against it often at Regionals, personally.

Glaceon-GX Toolbox | Unfavorable

Glaceon-GX is quickly becoming the boogeyman of the Expanded format. Will they play it, or won’t they play it is a question that lots of players, me included, have begun to ask themselves going into Costa Mesa, California Regionals. The deck isn’t good by design, but it’s very strong against Zoroark-GX since it can shut down the whole deck very quickly. Hope to not face this deck, but if you do, four Brigette will give you a fighting chance to at least get a few things going. This matchup comes down to a lot of draw-based questions that are hard to answer because they will vary each game. Hope to get lucky!

Greninja BREAK | Slightly Unfavorable

Similarly to Gardevoir-GX, pressure a Greninja BREAK player as much as you can. Take one-hit Knockouts with Zoroark-GX and try not to let up. Make sure you’re prepared for the Shadow Stitching lock to hit once it does. If your opponent plays Bursting Balloon, remove it with Field Blower.

Trevenant BREAK | Even

Getting Zoroark-GX is a start to winning this matchup. From there, you’ll need a Double Colorless Energy for the games to truly begin. Stagger your Zorua so that they all don’t get knocked out at the same time by the Espeon-EX that all Trevenant BREAK decks should be playing. Try to pressure the deck out and use your Hex Maniac to get access to your Items to recover Energy and get out of tricky situations.

Wailord-EX Stall | Highly Favorable

Bunnelby quite literally gives you a free win in this matchup unless Wailord-EX players develop a counter to it that can either knock it out or render it useless. Using Rototiller to recover resources like Energy or even Puzzle of Time is your first priority, and when you hit spots where there’s nothing to get back, then you can use Burrow to slowly deck your opponent out.

Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX | Favorable

It’s Crabominable time. Golisopod-GX can’t even take one down in one hit unless it uses Crossing Cut GX, so your opponent is going to be in for a really hard time. Get your Sudowoodo down to prevent any one-hit Knockout situations, and make sure that you limit your own Bench to just four Pokémon so that Mind Jack can’t address a Crabominable either. If all goes well, you should destroy this matchup.

Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX | Slightly Favorable

Lycanroc-GX can make this matchup tricky as it can not only one-shot a Crabominable with Dangerous Rogue GX, but its Bloodthirsty Eyes Ability can move it around to avoid it altogether. Crabominable is strong because it’s a non-GX/GX that can’t always be taken down in return, so playing against its strengths is something that Lycanroc-GX can do very well. Again, follow the same strategy of getting Alolan Muk down and focusing on your Crabominable. Getting two out will almost certainly seal the game for you. Zoroark with Foul Play can take down a Lycanroc-GX when given the opportunity to as well.

Zoroark-GX / Magnezone | Slightly Favorable

Magnezone is seemingly phased out at this point, as most players have moved away from it, but nonetheless it’s still out there. Your opponent will only be playing Zoroark-GX, so you are free to take them down with Crabominable one-hit Knockouts. Don’t play into any gimmicky traps like Delinquent and you’ll be fine.

Zoroark-GX / Night March | Even

Night March is a difficult matchup for you. Oricorio is your direct counter, but aside from that you don’t have many options. You need to use Crabominable to stay even in the Prize trade and if you can get Hex Maniac down you can effectively use Zoroark-GX since you won’t be afraid of Marshadow-GX. Do your best to stay even in the Prize race and try to get ahead with Oricorio in the late game, of course.

Zoroark-GX / Red Card | Slightly Favorable

Hex Maniac and Red Card can still get you, as they can get any deck, but starting off you’ll want to establish your Crabominable as always. If you can survive a hit, then you should outright win the game. Hex Maniac with a Gutsy Hammer is pretty much a win condition against any Zoroark-GX deck. As always, play around Zoroark with Mind Jack and get your Sudowoodo as soon as you can avoid one-hit Knockouts from Riotous Beating. In every Zoroark-GX matchup you want to set up two Zoroark-GX so that you have a defense against late game N drops or even Ghetsis. Regirock-EX takes a Crabominable with a Strong Energy attached to that magic 110 damage number that when doubled takes down a Zoroark-GX in one hit!

Zoroark-GX / Seismitoad-EX | Even

This matchup isn’t a cakewalk because of Item lock. Crabominable is a nice attacker even against Seismitoad-EX and you can use it to score a Knockout on a Benched Zoroark-GX with Guzma. Bunnelby can recover your Guzma and other useful cards with Rototiller to give you more chances to take easy Prizes. This deck can handle Zoroark-GX; it’s just whatever Zoroark-GX is paired with that is sometimes a problem (like in the case of Seismitoad-EX).

§Crabby Conclusion

This deck is ranked very high on my list of options for Costa Mesa, California Regionals. The Fighting typing of Crabominable automatically makes it a viable option in a Zoroark-GX-flooded Expanded format. It will be very interesting to see how this Regionals plays out as it will be the first one in the Expanded format with Ultra Prism legal for play. Going into the last Expanded Regionals the format was very defined, but this time there are new decks like Glaceon-GX, for one, that have never seen play before this and might leave people scratching their heads at the end of the day. Good luck if you’re going. See you next time 60Cards, thanks for reading!

~Caleb

[+21] okko


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