Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

"The Illusionist Fox Learns New Tricks" - Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Counter and Control for Worlds

Jose analyzes two different Zoroark-GX variants that implement Magcargo for Worlds.

08/21/2018 by Jose Marrero



Hello, 60cards readers! This time around I'll be discussing two strong Zoroark-GX variants that implement the newly released Magcargo from Celestial Storm. Zoroark-GX variants can see a lot of success heading into Worlds this weekend. The first variant I'll be dissecting is paired with Counter attackers. Next, I'll then transition into the Control variant that's been hyped up a ton ever since Tord's second-place finish at the NAIC. However, now the deck has gained even more popularity with Magcargo added into the deck.

With that said, let's start with the first Zoroark-GX variant with Magcargo and Counter attackers.


4-4 Zoroark-GX

Trade and Riotous Beating. What more to say other than Zoroark-GX being one of the best cards to ever be printed because of its versatility?

1-1 Magcargo

Combining Trade with Smooth Over can grant you any combo in the deck which is why this deck can work even better than it used to. You can put a Counter Energy on top or the desired attacker you need at the time.

3 Tapu Lele-GX

Three Tapu Lele-GX helps with consistency and making sure you have a turn one Brigette. Having access to Guzma will be important as well.

1 Sylveon-EX

The deck's main attacker to Rayquaza-GX decks. Rayquaza-GX can steamroll Zoroark-GX without a counter so having Sylveon-EX with a Choice Band can one hit KO them. If they have a Fighting Fury Belt attached then just simply Field Blower it away.

1 Mew-EX

Obviously your main answer to Buzzwole decks. Mew-EX will be huge in that matchup and can very much sweep them by itself if they don't have an answer to it. Mew-EX can also be useful for taking out Necrozma-GX because of weakness.

1 Mewtwo EVO 51

A great attacker against Buzzwole decks and Malamar decks. Psychic can do some lethal numbers when hitting for weakness.

1 Shaymin SLG 7

A great attacker against Lycanroc-GX and Zygarde-GX because Shaymin can one hit KO them right back with Rally Back. Maybe Zygarde-GX will see a rise in play because of all the Zoroark-GX decks. If that is the case then Shaymin will surely be useful.

1 Sudowoodo BKP 67

This attacker is great against Zoroark-GX because you can copy Riotous Beating and hit for weakness, Buzzwole-GX to copy Knuckle Impact, and even Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX to copy Meteor Tempest. Watch and Learn can also copy GX attacks giving you more options.

1 Cobalion STS 74

This card is great against Gardevoir-GX, which has been starting to pop up with the rise of Rayquaza-GX and Zoroark-GX decks. Revenge Blast can one hit KO Gardevoir-GX if they take just two prize cards if you have a Choice Band. The more prizes the opponent takes, the more deadly Revenge Blast is.

1 Oranguru ULP 114

Absolutely needed against the Zoroark-GX/Control matchup. Without Oranguru, you will likely lose for sure because the opponent can just not take prizes to activate your Counter attackers. They can just sit back and wait until you have no energy left and eventually deck you out.

3 N/3 Brigette/3 Guzma/2 Cynthia/1 Professor Sycamore

Three N and three Brigette is basically a staple at this point in Zoroark-GX decks. Three Guzma is needed in this build because you will want to pick off the bigger threats for when you are behind on prizes and use your respective attacker.  Two Cynthia: I like for the extra draw and Professor Sycamore just in case you need to dig even further.

3 Field Blower

Parallel City and Garbotoxin can be annoying so having at least three Field Blower is needed in my opinion. The good thing about this build is that you technically don't need a big bench because your attackers don't rely on the number of bench you have aside from Zoroark-GX and Mew-EX. Just bench your attackers only when you really have to or if you are attacking with Zoroark-GX.

3 Evosoda

Getting at least two or three Zoroark-GX into play by turn two is ideal. Having at least three Evosoda can assist with that. Magcargo is important as well and can be searched out with Evosoda as well.

2 Choice Band

The deck wants to take big KO's so having a couple Choice Bands to hit those magic numbers more easily is needed. The extra 30 damage Choice Band provides can be huge in determining a one hit KO or two hit KO.

2 Float Stone

Having a free retreater is very important for this deck to thrive because you need to be able to get your attacker ready to attack after something was KOed last turn. Two Float Stone seems to be the ideal amount for this build.

1 Counter Catcher

This deck basically revolves around you being behind on prizes meaning Counter Catcher should be effective at some point.

1 Max Potion

Having a healing card can always be good. You never know when healing and denying a prize or two can win you the game so one Max Potion seems worth the spot in this build.

1 Rescue Stretcher

Having Rescue Stretcher means you can reuse your attackers easier by not having to use Puzzles of Time on them.

1 Enhanced Hammer

You never know when a one-of Enhanced Hammer will help. It'll help at some point for sure because a lot of decks play Special Energy.

2 Counter Energy

The deck has so many attackers that rely on Counter Energy so having at least two is ideal in case the one is prized.

Other card options

Mimikyu GRI 58

Great answer against Buzzwole decks. If Buzzwole-GX uses Knuckle Impact then Mimikyu can copy that attack for a revenge KO. 

Tapu Lele ULP 94

This can also be a Rayquaza-GX counter. However, Rayquaza-GX has to have at least three Energy on it in order for Tapu Lele to KO it with a Choice Band. That is why I prefer Sylveon-EX as I think it is more efficient against Rayquaza-GX even though it's an EX and not a one prize attacker.

Latios SHL 41

A quick attacker against Buzzwole and Malamar decks. Latios can one hit KO Inkay and also help set up KO's for later on.

Professor Kukui

Adding 20 extra damage to your attacks can make for hitting magic numbers easier. Plus you can manipulate your top card with Magcargo and draw it with Professor Kukui in case you don't have Zoroark-GX in play or simply don't want to Trade anything away.


Healing your attackers with Acerola for when they aren't one hit KOed can be clutch and a lot of times game changing.


If Magcargo is taken down then Mallow can be used as a backup.

Parallel City

This deck has a ton of attackers making space really tight. Still, Parallel City can be great against most matchups. Limiting the opponent to three bench is usually always ideal.

With that said, let's get into Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Control.


4-4 Zoroark-GX

The raw power of Trade is still going strong and doesn't seem to want to slow down anytime soon. Zoroark-GX is just one of those cards that are good in basically every deck if built correctly. Riotous Beating is also a very good attack even if it's taking more than one hit to take prizes.

1-1 Magcargo

I know the two finalist lists from the ARG Invitational played a 2-2 count of Magcargo. However, I strongly believe you only need a 1-1 line. Playing a 1-1 line also gives you room for two extra cards. Smooth Over is so good in this deck. Eventually, when you are thin on cards in the deck you won't need it as much. You get to a point where you can draw your whole deck every turn anyway not needing Magcargo.

3 Tapu Lele-GX

Three Tapu Lele-GX and three Brigette are ideal to make having a turn one Brigette fairly high. Tapu Lele-GX can also be used as an attacker if needed. Not to mention the deck plays so many unique supporters meaning Tapu Lele-GX will come in handy to use any of them at a moment's notice.

1 Oranguru ULP 114

The reason this deck is so good is that of Oranguru. You basically just drain the opponent of resources while denying prizes at the same time and reusing your resources to rinse and repeat until victory.

1 Mew-EX

There will be times where you have to go aggressive against Buzzwole decks. Mew-EX is the best answer against Buzzwole decks so having access to it will be clutch for sure. You can copy Riotous Beating with Mew-EX to one hit KO Buzzwole. You can also use Mew-EX to copy an opponent's Oranguru in case yours is prized. However, that means they can just take two easy prizes on Mew-EX so I wouldn't recommend this strategy unless you absolutely have to.

3 N/3 Brigette

I believe this is the perfect count in this deck. Having N when needed most will be very important in limiting the opponent's hand size. Opening Brigette will be very useful that way you can use Tapu Lele-GX for a draw supporter.

2 Guzma

Even though this deck isn't too aggressive you still need a couple Guzma in case you have to be. Guzma can also be used to stall the opponent while you go into Oranguru.

1 Cynthia/1 Professor Sycamore

You still need to play a couple draw supporters just to fill your hand up and deny the opponent of any Delinquent plays. There will be times where you need a 2-3 card combo so by using a draw supporter then trading/Magcargo you should be able to get there.

1 Delinquent

Limiting your opponent's hand size can cripple them. Doing so also means you are decking them out fasting because they are discarding cards. If you can catch the opponent off guard with a three card hand then your opponent should then pack their bags because the games over. Delinquent is also just nice to get rid of the opponent's Parallel City in case you are unable to find Field Blower.

1 Acerola

The deck plays Max Potion, however, Acerola is also great for healing your Pokémon. Acerola can also give you an extra Trade if you have Zorua on the bench already.

1 Team Flare Grunt

Great card to disrupt the opponent's active Pokémon's energy. You can combo Enhanced Hammer, and Crushing Hammers with Team Flare Grunt.

1 Team Rocket's Handiwork

This card was added into the deck to help win faster because the deck is already slow as it is. Milling the opponent will surely speed that process up because one of the key win conditions with this deck is to actually deck the opponent out.

3 Evosoda

I've seen most lists running only two Evosoda, though I like having the third one personally just to have higher odds of getting Zoroark-GX into play faster. You can get away with two but for now, I'll keep it at three for consistencies sake.

3 Field Blower

Both Parallel City and Garbotoxin can be annoying for this deck so I recommend at least three copies of Field Blower moving forward. Not to mention, the NAIC was won by Zoroark-GX/Garbodor so the deck will see a huge increase in play come Worlds. Getting rid of Fighting Fury Belts and Wishful Batons against Rayquaza-GX is super important as well. Using Field Blower to get rid of Float Stones in order to trap a Pokémon active is one of the decks win conditions too so keep that in mind.

2 Crushing Hammer

A lot of players opt to play Weakness Policy over this card. However, I'm more of a fan of Crushing Hammer as they help against basically every matchup. Even against Buzzwole, they are great because you can deny them of attacks especially on Lycanroc-GX. Against Rayquaza-GX they come in handy big time. Crushing Hammers can also potentially help against the Mismagius matchup because if they miss an energy drop then you can use Double Colorless Energy again. Against Ultra Necrozma-GX you can Crushing Hammer off Metal Energy while picking off Malamar.

2 Enhanced Hammer

This card is absolutely needed. They help against a number of matchups because a lot of decks these days rely on Special Energy. If you can force the opponent to miss can attack at any point in the game it usually means you are highly favored to win the game. Drain the opponent of Special Energy and you should be in a great position to win the game.

2 Max Potion

Healing cards are very important in this deck because this deck isn't aggressive unless it has to be. I can see dropping to one Max Potion though. Still, having them against the mirror is very important to deny those two prizes and your draw power. One of the biggest strategies with this deck is just to survive, deny prizes, and drain the opponent of resources until you are able to deck them out.

2 Counter Catcher

I can also see dropping down to one of these. However, against Buzzwole they are important because they will likely take a fast KO. If you can then use Counter Catcher on Rockruff with energy or Octillery followed by an N you can maybe steal a game that way. Against other Zoroark-GX decks if you go second it might be likely that one of your Zorua will be taken down. If so then you can ditto the opponent and take out one of their Zorua and still able to use a supporter for the turn.

1 Rescue Stretcher

This card is super important in the mirror because you need to make sure you don't put yourself in range of losing by Team Rocket's Handiwork. By adding three Pokémon and using Resource Management you should never be put in that scenario f you play it correctly. Rescue Stretcher is also nice to pick up Oranguru when KOed or even Mew-EX so you don't have to use Puzzle of Times on them.

1 Float Stone

Having at least one Float Stone is always ideal in Zoroark-GX decks. Magcargo has a hefty retreat cost so you want to be able to get it out of the active if needed. Float Stone also makes it easier to reuse Mew-EX to revenge KO back-to-back if needed.

1 Red Card

This card was mainly added to help win the mirror match. What you can do is Red Card then Delinquent, forcing the opponent down to one card, and against Zoroark-GX decks having fewer cards can be troublesome. Red Card is also clutch for when Rayquaza-GX uses its GX attack to get 10 cards. Red Card can just randomly come in handy for when the opponent has more than four cards in hand. Another neat trick you can do is use Red Card to give the opponent extra cards and then use Team Rocket's Handiwork to try and deck them out that way.

2 Parallel City

Limiting the opponent down to three Pokémon can disrupt their set up and deny them easier KO's. Plus with the Delinquent you can make spicy plays. You can also use Parallel City to limit your own bench to remove damaged Pokémon. Not to mention, if you reduce your own damage then you can abuse Slugma's attack, Magma Ring which is basically Corner and because Parallel City reduces Fire damage means you can technically lock a Pokémon up for good.

Other card options

Sylveon-EX + Choice Band

Rayquaza-GX decks can be tough at times if they get an explosive turn one or two. Having Sylveon-EX and a Choice Band can make the matchup less stressful. If they play Fighting Fury Belts, then you can just simply Field Blower them away.

Baby Buzzwole + 1 Fighting Energy

I was thinking of ways to beat the mirror. I came up with this combo because it technically can net you 4 prizes if the opponent is unable to one hit KO it. If they do, it may likely be with Mew-EX and if that is the case then that's another two free prizes for you anyway. Sure the opponent can play Weakness Policy but the Buzzwole play should be a surprise play and plus you can just Field Blower the Weakness Policy. The Basic Energy can help in the mirror and Mismagius as well.

Kartana-GX + 1 Metal Energy

Kartana-GX can be used for a number of reasons in this deck. First, for its ability to get rid of Special Energy. Then for its GX attack which gives you a free prize. This deck doesn't play any way of using a GX attack, meaning Kartana-GX is even better than it seems. If the opponent Parallel Cities you then you can reuse Kartana-GX. Again, the Basic Energy can help against the mirror and Mismagius as well.

Shaymin + 1 Counter Energy

Lycanroc-GX and Zygarde-GX can be troublesome at times for this deck. If that is the case, then Shaymin can come in the clutch to revenge KO them with Rally Back. Having Magcargo in the deck will make this play much easier to achieve.

+ 1 Psychic Energy

Adding one Psychic Energy helps in the mirror when using Oranguru because they can't just Enhanced Hammer it away. They will have to use Team Flare Grunt or Plumeria to get rid of it. Meaning they aren't using Team Rocket's Handiwork or Delinquent for the turn. Like I said before, the one Basic energy can also help against Mismagius. Not to mention, it also gives you the option to use Tapu Cure GX if you need to.


I know a lot of players like to play this card. However, because I am playing Crushing Hammers and Team Flare Grunt, I prefer not to play Plumeria, since you need to discard two cards for it and in this deck, most cards are important resources.

Team Skull Grunt

Getting rid of energy the opponent may be hoarding in hand can cripple them and hopefully force them to miss attacks.

Professor Kukui

This card adds 20 damage to your attacks. If so then Zoroark-GX can take down Yveltal, baby Buzzwole, Volcanion, and Hoopa STS in one blow. Unsure if hitting 140 is relevant anywhere but 130 surely is.


There will be times where an important supporter or card, in general, will be prized. Having Gladion search that card out can be clutch. However, you should be able to make do without Gladion if you are able to take prizes. 


I know Tord ran Mallow in his list. However, now with the inclusion of Magcargo, I don't think Mallow is all that needed anymore.

Weakness Policy

I'm not a huge fan of this card. I personally prefer Crushing Hammers in place of these, because Crushing Hammers are great against any deck. Weakness Policy is only really good against Buzzwole decks which you can still beat without them. Recently I've been seeing 1-2 Field Blowers splashed into Buzzwole decks, so if that is the case, then Weakness Policy becomes even worse.

Tormenting Spray

This card can be a nice combo with Red Card and Delinquent. Once the opponent goes down to one card, then you can use Tormenting Spray to hopefully get rid of their whole hand, if their last card in hand is a supporter. There can be times where it can be a Tapu Lele-GX, which would be annoying. 

Devoured Field

This card adds 10 damage to Zoroark-GX's attack, making it able to one-hit KO Pokémon such as Yveltal, Volcanion, baby Buzzwole, and even Hoopa STS. However, it also adds 10 damage to Dragon-types namely Ultra Necrozma-GX and Rayquaza-GX. Luckily the extra 10 damage isn't really relevant for those Dragon types unless you are playing Sylveon-EX. Rayquaza-GX would only need five energy, Fighting Fury Belt, and Devoured Field to one hit KO Sylveon-EX so be wary of that.

Reverse Valley

This card also adds 10 damage to Zoroark-GX's attack, making it able to one-hit KO Pokémon such as Yveltal, Volcanion, baby Buzzwole, and even Hoopa STS. The difference between Reverse Valley and Devoured Field is that Reverse Valley reduces 10 damage done to Metal types, so technically Devoured Field is probably the better option if you were to choose one or the other.

Closing Thoughts

That will conclude this article on two new variants of Zoroark-GX heading into Worlds. Both variants seem strong, though the control version will see more play by a long shot. Especially after Tord's NAIC second place finish with it and the newly released Magcargo implemented into the deck. Worlds is next weekend and creeping up fast. If you see me there don't be shy and come say hi or take a picture with me. I enjoy meeting new players and having a great time. I'll have another article after Worlds so keep your eyes peeled for when that one is published.

If you want to help support my team, be sure to check out Team ARG's Pokémon page on Facebook: "Team ARG Pokémon-TCG." There you can keep up to date with all the players on the team. We are adding new players to the team soon so be sure to stay tuned for when they are announced. Also, don't forget to check out to pick up some awesome dice and GX markers. They recently restocked on all dice and GX markers, so get them now while they are hot. They are by far my favorite dice and markers to use and I recommend getting yourself at least two sets of any given color. Remember to use the code worlds2018 for free shipping until the end of August. Not to mention, I recently started coaching on so if you are interested in a coaching session with me then check them out to schedule an appointment or just pm me directly. Don't forget my Twitter handle is down below if you want to follow me for when I post lists and other exciting news.

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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 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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