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Jose Marrero

"The Four Musketeers"-Four Ways to Implement Zoroark-GX in Standard

Jose discusses four ways you can implement Zoroark-GX, in Standard.

10/24/2017 by Jose Marrero

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Introduction

Hey there 60cards readers! I'm back once again with another article, this time explaining four ways you can implement Zoroark-GX into decks in the Standard format. Shining Legends became legal for play last Friday and players are eager to make the new cards work in the current Standard format, most specifically Zoroark-GX. It's definitely the most hyped card of the Shining Legends set for superb reasons. First, it's a stage 1 Pokémon with a whopping 210 hit points. Second, it has an extraordinary ability, Trade, which lets you discard a card from your hand and draw two cards. Trade is reminiscent to that of Empoleon's Diving Draw. Right off the bat you can tell this ability is great in any deck, and especially so in decks that rely on certain cards being in the discard pile. For example, in Alolan Ninetales-GX, which thrives on having Water Energy in the discard so you can abuse Aqua Patch. Zoroark-GX's Trade ability makes the card quite versatile, so any deck can make use of it. Not to mention its attack, Riotous Beating, inflicts 20 damage for each Pokémon you have in play for a max total of 150 damage if you have a Choice Band attached. Riotous Beating only requires one Double Colorless Energy attachment, which isn't too difficult to accomplish if you are playing four copies. Now, its second attack, Trickster GX, is very situational compared to Riotous Beating. This is because Trickster GX requires two Darkness Energy as opposed to just a Double Colorless Energy. However, Trickster GX lets you copy any one of your opponent's Pokémon's attacks. If a deck plays Darkness Energy or Rainbow Energy, then having Trickster GX as an option can become very advantageous. There really isn't anything negative to say about Zoroark-GX, so hopefully I was able to give you enough insight on why Zoroark-GX should be taken seriously at upcoming events.

With that said, let's dive right into the first of four decks, Alolan Ninetales-GX/Zoroark-GX.

Illusionist Fox

Alolan Ninetales-GX/Zoroark-GX

I personally think the best way to play Alolan Ninetales-GX right now is with Zoroark-GX. They have great synergy together because you can discard a Water Energy from the hand, drawing two cards while ensuring you have water energy to target with Aqua Patch. On top of that, Zoroark-GX is one of the best attackers against Garbodor. This is because Zoroark-GX can dish out 120 damage, enough to one-hit KO Garbodor while also having resistance to it. As great as Zoroark-GX is, Alolan Ninetales-GX is still the main attacker of the deck, as it inflicts the most damage. Alolan Ninetales-GX has three great attacks. Ice Blade is what you are likely going to start chipping things off with until it's time to go more aggressive with Blizzard Edge. You never really want to use Blizzard Edge unless you are taking a KO. Ice Blade does 50 damage to one of the opponent's Pokémon, such as against Golisopod-GX, which can be followed up with a Blizzard Edge for 160, an exact knockout. Against Gardevoir-GX you can do the same thing, except you need a Choice Band. Its GX attack, Ice Path GX, can be critical in a lot of scenarios, as long as you don't get one hit KOed.

Depending on how much damage you took, Ice Path GX can do wonders. For example, if you can't KO the active then you can go with plan B and Guzma something up and take a KO on it while healing to full health. At the same time you can threaten a one-hit KO on the active Pokémon next turn. There is also a one-of Alolan Ninetales in the deck for its ability, Luminous Barrier, which prevents all damage and effects of attacks done to Alolan Ninetales by EX/GX Pokemon. This ability can be extremely powerful for stalling and for eventually setting up Espeon-EX, which lets you devolve all your opponent's highest-staged Pokémon. The deck also plays a couple Tapu Koko because its Flying Flip attack can be used to set up KOs later on, and its free retreat helps with using Aqua Patch more efficiently. I went with three Tapu Lele-GX because it's important to not dead draw and the deck plays a hefty amount of supporters you can Wonder Tag for.

I added a couple Professor Kukui to hit better numbers. For example, Blizzard Edge with Professor Kukui and Choice Band is enough to one hit KO anything with 210 or fewer hit points such as Zoroark-GX, Golisopod-GX, Sylveon-GX, Alolan Ninetales-GX, and plenty more. Because of this, I made sure to max out on Choice Band as they are a big part of this combo. I didn't max out Guzma because Alolan Ninetales-GX and Tapu Koko can hit the bench to take KOs and in most cases, you should be one-hit KOing the active anyway. This way you have Guzma for the late game. I'm not too sure if Float Stone is needed in this deck, although they help when you don't start with Tapu Koko. Then again you can just retreat with a Water Energy and reattach it with Aqua Patch. Overall I like this build and I'll definitely be working on it some more.

Other card options

Tapu Fini-GX:

This card can be a solid back-up attacker, especially for its GX attack, Tapu Storm GX, which would be very helpful against Metagross-GX and Gardevoir-GX. Hydro Shot doesn't seem so bad either since it can do 120 damage to any 1 of your opponent's Pokémon. You have to discard two Water Energy in order to use Hydro Shot, which is fine since you can just Aqua Patch them onto something else.

Turtonator-GX:

Metagross-GX can be a huge threat to this deck and honestly, Turtonator-GX may not be enough to take them down. Still, Shell Trap in conjunction with Choice Band can hit Metagross-GX for up to 100 damage while not being KOed the following turn. Then, you can follow up with a Blizzard Edge to finish Metagross-GX off. The same thing goes against Solgaleo-GX although they can KO Turtonator-GX in one shot.

Latios SHL 41:

Similar to Tapu Koko, however, it can do 10 extra damage to the active and a bench Pokémon. Latios may become more popular once Buzzwole-GX comes out since it's weak to Psychic-types.

Giratina XY 184 Promo:

The inclusion of this card basically turns the Greninja matchup into an auto-win. Shutting off Giant Water Shuriken makes a huge diffrence in the matchup.

Mallow:

I'm currently not playing Mallow because you may have to use Professor Kukui to take KO's anyway, although with enough Tapu Koko Flying Flips Mallow can be more helpful since then all you need to have is a powered up Alolan Ninetales-GX.

Enhanced Hammer:

Adding a couple Enhanced Hammers can help slow down Gardevoir-GX, and at the same time can be clutch against anything playing Special Energy. Zoroark-GX can help find them much faster too, which makes Enhanced Hammer more viable.

Bodybuilding Dumbbells + Acerola:

You can go with a more defensive approach to Alolan Ninetales-GX and Zoroark-GX if you want. I prefer the more aggressive approach because I would much rather one-hit KO things than two-shot them. Then again, if you are two-shotting things while still staying alive then I can see that build being really effective. Bodybuilding Dumbbells would make Ice Path GX more deadly than it already is, which can be great against pretty much everything, especially Gardevoir-GX. 

Po Town:

By adding this stadium, Alolan Ninetales-GX can hit easier numbers, however against Gardevoir-GX you are still short 10 damage even with a Choice Band and you don't want your own attackers taking 30 damage. That is why I went with Professor Kukui over Po Town. If you Flying Flip one time then you set up so many numbers where you don't need Po Town anyway.

With that said, it's time to move onto the second of four decks with Zoroark-GX, this time paired with Drampa-GX.

Drampa-GX/Zoroark-GX

This deck was a huge threat in the format pre-rotation and took home a number of big wins. Will we see this deck make a comeback due to the release of Zoroak-GX? Only time will tell and I personally believe it can. I like decks that have a lot of options going for it. You can see there are three different Zoroarks in this deck because the deck revolves around Zoroark as a whole. Because of this, you want to have a max count of Zorua, and I went with the Moonlight Madness Zorua because it can auto-confuse. I also went with a 2-2-1 split on Zoroark and Zoroark-GX with just one BREAK. You have Riotous Beating, Mind Jack and Foul Play as attack options. Not to mention Trickster GX. Although Foul Play is similar to Trickster GX, Foul Play only copies the active Pokémon's attacks while Trickster GX can copy any of your opponent's Pokémon.

Mind Jack can force the opponent to limit their bench, which is fine because you can then use Riotous Beating to take or set up KO's. Foul Play and Trickster GX can be very useful against Volcanion-EX and Ho-Oh-GX since you can copy their attacks for potential KOs. Foul Play can also copy a GX attack, which can be clutch at times. Drampa-GX is kind of the main attacker in the deck as well because it can do 180 damage because of Po Town. I still prefer Tapu Koko in this deck, especially because it can help set up one-hit KOs. Three Tapu Lele-GX is because a turn one Brigette is crucial to get going with this type of deck. Most decks are starting to play three copies of Tapu Lele-GX, which should be the ideal amount. I added a second copy of Brigette because if you open with one then you should have a phenomenal start and it's likely that you also started with either a draw supporter or Tapu Lele-GX for the following turn. You can even search out Drampa-GX, which makes Brigette work wonders in this deck. Four copies of Choice Band is also ideal because you want to have them everytime they are needed and Zoroark-GX can help dig for them. Just two Float Stone because Choice Band will likely be the preferred Tool at the time, however, Float Stone is nice on Zoroark so you can Stand In and out anytime you want. Four Po Town makes it so that you can potentially find one as fast as turn two because you want to start doing 30 damage to opposing Pokemon as soon as possible. You don't care if your Zoroarks take damage because Drampa-GX will be taking KO's anyway and Zoroarks don't have a lot of hit points anyway aside from the GX.

Other card options

Hoopa SHL 55:

This deck already plays a heavy count of Darkness Energy meaning Hoopa can easily be splashed into this deck. I'm just not too sure if it's worth the inclusion. I guess we will have to see how the meta looks leading up to the next big event.

Professor Kukui:

Sometimes the extra 20 damage Professor Kukui provides can go a long way. In this deck, the opponent can manipulate their own damage done to them by not benching too many Pokemon. Professor Kukui can come in clutch in this scenario where you are a couple damage short of the KO. Drampa-GX can hit up to 200 damage with Professor Kukui, which is enough to one-hit KO Sylveon-GX or any GX/EX with 200 or fewer hit points. Not to mention, if something takes 30 damage from Po Town such as Gardevoir-GX then Drampa-GX with Professor Kukui can finish it off.

Acerola:

Healing Drampa-GX or Zoroark-GX can be helpful by not allowing the opponent to take prizes. Acerola can also allow re-use of Trade if you pickup Zoroark-GX and immediately evolve into another one.

Mallow:

This deck relies on combos to perform well. Drampa-GX and Zoroark BREAK can abuse Mallow since it can assist in finding the last pieces of the puzzle they need to take a KO.

With that said, we now have the third of four decks, this time Zoroark-GX with Golisopod-GX.

Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX

This variant has Golisopod-GX as the main attacker as opposed to Drampa-GX and Alolan Ninetales-GX. Golisopod-GX has a number of handy attacks. Its First Impression attack is likely the one you will use the most because of how hard it hits for just a single Grass Energy. You can refresh First Impression with cards such as Guzma, Acerola, as well as Stand In. Its second attack, Armor Press, I actually use a lot more than I expect at times because it reduces 20 damage done to Golisopod-GX next turn. If you know you are still two-shotting something, then using Armor Press to survive a hit is ideal, which a lot of players don't take advantage of it. Then you can Acerola and heal it up on the following turn. You still have Zoroark-GX and Zoroak as backup attackers if needed. Zoroark is mainly in the deck to use its ability, Stand In, as I mentioned. Again, three Tapu Lele-GX for their consistency, and they can also be used as an attacker in all these decks.

Tapu Koko always deserves a spot wherever Golisopod-GX goes because they work nicely together. Once you Guzma or Acerola you can send up Tapu Koko for its free retreat, assuming Stand In isn't an option. This build of Zoroark-GX has one of the most supporter counts of all four decks: seventeen! This is particularly due to the heavy count of Acerola. Guzma and Acerola work wonders with Golisopod-GX, but at the same time, Zoroark-GX can use them as well. Two Brigette is ideal in a deck with Golisopod-GX because it's crucial to have multiple Wimpod/Golisopod-GX in play. Otherwise, you can't take advantage of the Acerola strategy with Golisopod-GX. As you may have noticed, every deck so far has four copies of Choice Band. Maximizing your damage output is needed in a lot of situations.

I did have four Float Stone as well, however with the addition of Zoroark and its Stand In ability I decided to drop down to three, which I think is perfectly fine as there are plenty of others ways to refresh First Impression. I went up to two Field Blower as well because you want Zoroark-GX's ability to be active against Garbotoxin in case you need to dig for something. I still like the one Heavy Ball, which a lot of players don't play. Now that Garbodor is out of the deck, maybe it's time to drop it, however, it's often still clutch because it can get both Wimpod and Golisopod-GX with no drawback. Right now I'm messing with just Grass Energy, but I can see going back to Rainbow Energy and other attackers in the near future as the meta starts looking more clear.

Other card options

Drampa-GX/Garbodor GUR 51/Hoopa SHL 55/Rainbow Energies:

The build above only plays Grass Energy at the moment, however, you can easily just replace three to four of them and add Rainbow Energies. This way you can add different attackers such as the ones I presented. Drampa-GX can dish out 180 damage, which can be a solid backup attacker. Not to mention it's other attacks are great as well. Garbodor has been paired with Golisopod-GX for some time now, which is the obvious combo, however with the release of Zoroark-GX, I think Garbodor decks right now aren't the best play. This is especially true because they struggle against Gardevoir-GX as well. Hoopa is a new card from Shining Legends which is reminiscent to Alolan Ninetales. Hoopa can catch players off-guard and take wins by just forcing Guzma out and making them waste them early.

Espeon-EX:

This card may actually be needed because against Gardevoir-GX and Metagross-GX it'll be hard to take them down. Espeon-EX can be used mid to late game to clean up those big threats.

Turtonator-GX:

This card can be effective against both Metagross-GX and Golisopod-GX. Turtonator-GX has 190 hit points, which means Golisopod-GX and Metagross-GX can't one hit KO it because they cap at 180 damage with a Choice Band. Shell Trap can put a lot of pressure on the opponent, which can force out an early Guzma. Otherwise, Shell Trap with a Choice Band can pump out 100 damage per hit, which sets up KOs later on.

Jirachi XY 67 Promo:

Gardevoir-GX most likely won't stop seeing play anytime soon because of how strong it still is. Pablo Meza recently won Vancouver Regionals with Gardevoir-GX. This means players will look toward that event to see what's still viable or not. With the addition of Shining Legends, there's no reason for Gardevoir-GX to slow down anytime soon. Because of this, Jirachi can be helpful. Jirachi can discard a Double Colorless Energy attached to Gardevoir-GX while being immune next turn and with a Choice Band, Jirachi can dish out a solid 80 damage. Golisopod-GX can then finish it off with a Choice Band of its own. You can even finish Gardevoir-GX off with Crossing Cut GX or a Choice Banded Zoroark if they have a full bench.

Mallow:

This card can go with any deck playing Zoroark-GX simply because they combo with each other. Mallow does take up your supporter for the turn, however in a lot of cases that's fine because the two cards you're putting on top of your deck is likely exactly what you need anyway.

Enhanced Hammer:

In the past, Golisopod-GX decks that ran Enhanced Hammer still performed well. Now, with the release of Zoroark-GX, there maybe even more players running Special Energy. If that's the case then a couple Enhanced Hammers can go a long way, especially since Zoroark-GX can assist in finding them easier with its Trade ability.

Finally, we get to the last of four decks and this time Zoroark-GX will be paired with Lycanroc-GX.

Lycanroc-GX/Zoroark-GX

I've been a fan of Lycanroc-GX since it's release. I've played it at tournaments before, including at a Regional Championship. Zoroark-GX is in the deck for the same reasons as the others. This build has Lycanroc-GX as a secondary or main attacker depending on what you are playing against. Before we get into Lycanroc-GX let's first take a look at Rockruff. Its attack Corner can force out Guzma meaning Rockruff will be out of harm's way and you can evolve it next turn. Corner can also trap things and potentially take a cheap win by decking out your opponent, which I've done before. Lycanroc-GX has a lot of spice going for it. First, its ability Bloodthirsty Eyes makes it a big threat in the meta because it's essentially a Lyscandre, but as an ability. Secondly, it's first attack Claw Slash can one-hit KO Drampa-GX, Zoroark-GX and plenty of other things.

As for its GX attack, Dangerous Rogue GX, which does 50 damage times the amount of benched Pokémon the opponent has, can be a huge threat against any deck. The way I see it is that Dangerous Rogue GX is basically any two prizes at any time, at least in my personal experience using the card. Something interesting this deck plays that's new is Alolan Muk. This card can help against Volcanion and pretty much any deck that relies on basic Pokémon abilities. Zoroark-GX is not affected by Alolan Muk, which is why they pair well together. Tapu Lele-GX will just be used for Brigette usually and you can just Trade into other supporters if you have to. This build, unlike the others, does play Mallow.

This is because you can use Mallow and still have the option to use Bloodthirsty Eyes to drag something up. Mallow can grab a Double Colorless Energy and Lycanroc-GX if needed. There are also a handful of Acerola because you want to be able to reuse Bloodthirsty Eyes while healing Lycanroc-GX or even Zoroark-GX. I've also included two copies of Enhanced Hammers to again slow down Gardevoir-GX because it's still one of the strongest decks right now. The reason I went with a split on Rescue Strectcher and Super Rod is because the deck only plays four copies of Fighting Energy, which you may need to get back if you want to keep attacking with Lycanroc-GX.

Other card options

Puzzle of Time:

There were top Japanese lists that ran this card, however their format was and is different than ours. For them, Puzzle of Time was easily accessible because they had access to Korrina, which is legal for them, however, it's not legal for us, making Puzzle of Time not as reliable. Honestly, those four slots can just be a higher supporter count or whatever you need extra of. If you know me well you know I was obsessed with Puzzle of Time and as I'm writing this I'm wondering why I'm not adding them to the list. Who knows, maybe I'll cave and add them in at some point but for now they will stay out.

Special Charge:

I think if the deck also ran another type of Special Energy such as Strong Energy, then Special Charge will be more effective. If decks are playing more and more Enhanced Hammers, then Special Charge should be discussed further.

Rockruff SM 6 Promo + Strong Energy:

Adding an extra 20 damage to Lycanroc-GX's attack's can be effective against a number of Pokémon. Garbodor is the first to come to mind, however, Zoroark-GX already handles Garbodor pretty well. On second thought, Zoroark-GX caps at 120 damage if you don't include Choice Band, which let's say if you are facing off against Volcanion, Zoroark-GX will be 10 damage shy of the KO or even against Greninja you run into the same problem. Strong Energy definitely has its merit in this deck and I'll likely contemplate it some more as the meta starts to shape up. If you have a Fighting Energy on Rockruff or Lycanroc-GX then it can't get Enhanced Hammered away, which is great since now you can threaten Claw Slash or Dangerous Rogue GX. There is a promo Rockruff that does 10 base damage for a Fighting Energy and 30 with a Strong Energy, which can one-hit KO opposing Zoruas.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully you guys are still with me, and with that will conclude this article. I can see myself literally playing any of these variants, as I'm a huge fan of Zoroark-GX. The card is all around powerful, bulky, and can be splashed into any deck. Personally, I desire it with Alolan Ninetales-GX the most. However, if Metal starts to pop up then it might be time to switch to another variant. I think my second favorite variant would have to be with Lycanroc-GX. Its Bloodthirsty Eyes ability is essentially a free access to Lysandre, which can be game-changing, while you can still use your supporter for the turn. Next, would be with Golisopod-GX because that's all I've been playing since rotation. I would last play the variant with Drampa-GX, which had a ton of success before rotation. It'll still definitely see play with the inclusion of Zoroark-GX and Po Town, so don't be surprised to see it pop up at events near you.

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If you have any questions, then please feel free to leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook. I'll be sure to get to them as soon as possible.

As always, if you enjoyed reading this article, then please consider giving it a thumbs up. If you want to see a specific type of article or topic next time, don't hesitate to give me ideas down below, and I'll consider them. As always, keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time!

-Twitter @Jose_MarreroTCG

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