Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

"Foxy Duo and the Dragonic Human" - A Look at Zoroark-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX and Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel for Brazil

Jose examines two decks that can do well at the Brazil International Championships in the Standard format.

11/15/2018 by Jose Marrero



What's going on, 60cards readers! I'm back again with another article — this time examining two decks for the upcoming Brazil International Championships. Brazil will be the first major event with the new set Lost Thunder legal for play and will feature a Standard format. I'm sure players are scrambling and testing like crazy — for those that are attending — and if not, then testing for Roanoke, Virginia the week after.

The first deck I'll be looking at is one of my personal favorites and is a list I tweaked myself. It has a little bit of everything going for it, and if you like spicy lists then it'll surely be of interest to you. That deck is Zoroark-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX. The deck actually took 10th of 1200+ players at the recent Japan event. My list is quite different from that one, so be sure to compare them, if need be. Next, I'll then transition into a newer deck which is, in fact, Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel, as it'll surely see lots of play. This deck took 2nd place at the Japan event and is a deck a lot of players have in their top three, including myself. Right now I am sitting at 10th in NA/Canada rankings with 310 CP so any points in Brazil should net me the Australia stipend which is the current goal.

With that said, let's dive into the first of two decks and one of my favorite decks going into Brazil, Zoroark-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX.

Zoroark-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX

4-4 Zoroark-GX

We all know by now how good of a card Zoroark-GX is with its Trade ability and Riotous Beating attack so I won't go too much into it. Zoroark-GX is a great attacker to take quick KOs early on, but still has the power to potentially one-hit KO Pokémon GX's with 180 or fewer hit points thanks to Choice Band, Professor Kukui and Devoured Field.

3-3 Alolan Ninetales-GX (2 LOT 1 GRI)

I went with two of the new Alolan Ninetales-GX's and one old one. The one from Lost Thunder is very very good in a plenty of decks. Its ability is mainly why it is so good. Mysterious Guidance lets you search your deck for 2 item cards and put them into your hand when you evolve into Alolan Ninetales-GX from hand. However, both of its attacks are quite good, as well — Snowy Wind does a solid 70 base damage and also snipes one of your opponent's benched Pokémon for 30 damage. This is a great attack to set up KOs. Now, it's GX attack, Sublimation GX, lets you auto KO the opponent's active Pokémon if it is an Ultra Beast Pokémon, namely Buzzwole-GX, and Blacephalon-GX. The GRI Alolan Ninetales-GX is also great against Blacephalon-GX, because with Professor Kukui and a Choice band, you can one-hit KO them with Ice Blade. Not to mention, Ice Blade is also good against Lost March because you can snipe-KO Natu, Hoppip, and even Ditto Prism Star which other decks play. Ice Path GX is good as well in certain scenarios.

1-1 Lycanroc-GX

Because of Ditto, adding a 1-1 Lycanroc-GX seemed like a no-brainer, especially since the deck already plays Unit Energy for Alolan Ninetales-GX. You can threaten Dangerous Rogue GX if you need to. Lycanroc-GX is also just great against other Zoroark-GX decks. You can even use Dangerous Rogue GX for a single Fighting Energy, thanks to Counter Gain, if you are behind on prizes.

1-1 Solgaleo-GX SM 104

Finally, we get this Solgaleo-GX. Overall, it's a great card if you are able to get it out. Its ability, Shining Mane, makes all your Pokémon have no weakness. This is especially good against Buzzwole decks. Its attack, Turbo Strike, does a solid 120 damage which because Solgaleo-GX is a Metal-type can one hit KO Pokémon such as, Gardevoir-GX, Alolan Ninetales-GX, and even Granbull. If you attach a Choice Band and use Professor Kukui then you can one-hit KO Tapu Lele-GX. Not to mention, the rest of the attack lets you attach 2 Basic Energies from your discard to one of your benched Pokémon. That is why I decided to play one each of a Basic Fighting and Fairy Energy. Now, its GX attack, Prominence GX, heals all your damage from all of your Pokémon. This attack can be great against spread decks, so you can see how Solgaleo-GX has plenty of uses.

1 Ditto Prism Star

Ditto Prism Star is likely the best Prism Star printed so far. Ditto gives stage 1 decks so many more options.

3 Cynthia

I'd like to fit another Cynthia in, as well, but space just won't allow it at the moment. 

3 Professor Elm’s Lecture 

This is one of the new supporters from Lost Thunder, which lets you search out any three Pokémon with 60 or fewer hit points and put them into your hand. That is why all the Basic Pokémon in the deck that evolve are the 60 hit point ones. You can also search out Ditto Prism Star. I think replacing the Lillie+Nest Ball engine with Professor Elm's Lecture+Timer Ball is more effective, personally.

3 Guzma

At least three Guzma is recommended in Zoroark-GX decks because you can take benched KOs at a moment's notice if need be. Also, the deck only plays one Lycanroc-GX. This means that at most, you can get two Bloodthirsty Eyes off, so having at least three copies of Guzma is preferred.

2 Professor Kukui

The added 20 damage from Professor Kukui is needed to be able to one-hit KO certain Pokémon because 2 hit KOing is usually never a good idea especially if it's a non GX.

1 Judge

Hand disruption is important when the opponent is up too many prizes or has a huge hand. You need to be able to slow them down, so at least 1 Judge is ideal.

1 Acerola

Healing one of your Pokémon is always good to deny prizes. Acerola can give the deck plenty of options in that sense. 

2 Timer Ball

Thanks to Professor Elm's Lecture we can now go back to Timer Balls. Usually you only really need to hit one heads on Timer Ball to make it relevant. Flipping even one heads can mean lots of possibilities and options. Just flip at least one heads and you will be fine.

3 Choice Band/1 Counter Gain

I felt at least three Choice Band are needed to take one-hit KO's on certain threats because there is no more Puzzle of Time. Alolan Ninetales-GX can search them out, which is so so good. Counter Gain is a new card from Lost Thunder that has merit in the deck as well. If the opponent took an early prize then you can attack with Alolan Ninetales-GX or use Dangerous Rogue GX for a single energy attachment. Against Buzzwole-GX, you can search out Counter Gain with Alolan Ninetales-GX and then GX attack them with Sublimation GX for a single energy for the KO.

1 Rescue Stretcher

I can see adding a second copy of Rescue Stretcher in this build. However, so far one has been just fine.

1 Rare Candy

I'm still messing with the 1-1-1 line of Solgaleo-GX. If you don't like it, then that's three open spots you can replace with anything. I still like it, so I'll definitely be keeping it in for now.

1 Pal Pad

Pal Pad is nice to get back two supporters, making your 1-of counts like Acerola and Judge into 2-of counts in a sense. Also, if you need to get back Guzma, Professor Kukui, or even more Cynthia, Pal Pad allows you those options.

1 Field Blower

You just never know when one Field Blower will come in handy. It's great to get rid of Shrine of Punishment and Weakness Policy on the opponent's Zoroark-GX.

1 Max Potion

Having Max Potion in the deck has been pretty clutch. You can heal off all damage from one of your Pokémon and just attach another Double Colorless Energy and attack again. Max Potion is especially great if you're attacking with Solgaleo-GX because it is so beefy. Alolan Ninetales-GX can search out Max Potion, which is awesome.

2 Devoured Field

The added 10 damage Devoured Field provides to Dark-types is huge. This means Zoroark-GX can now hit up to 180 damage, which is very much relevant in today's format. If you combine Devoured Field with Professor Kukui and Choice Band, then Zoroark-GX can now one-hit KO Pokémon such as, Blacephalon-GX, Rayquaza-GX, and many more. Not to mention, having your own Stadiums will come in handy against Prism Stadiums and Shrine of Punishment.

4 Double Colorless Energy/3 Unit Energy FDY/1 Fighting Energy/1 Fairy Energy

I felt this energy line was fine; I wanted to have a couple Basic Energy so that Solgaleo-GX can set up multiple attackers, also, in case Energy disruption is an issue. There are 4 energy for Alolan Ninetales-GX and Lycanroc-GX which should be good enough.

Other card options

Buzzwole FBL 77

The deck plays both Unit Energy and Basic Fighting Energy so you can take advantage of Sledgehammer, which would be very good against other Zoroark-GX decks.

Deoxys CES 67

Great card to help counter Buzzwole-GX decks. It's Psychic attack can one-hit KO Buzzwole-G with three energy attached assuming you also either have a Choice Band or Professor Kukui as well. Deoxys is an overall solid 1-prize attacker too.

Machoke GRI 64/Alolan Muk SUM 58

Thanks to Ditto Prism Star, you can basically just play any Stage 1 evolutions you want without running their basic forms. Machoke is really handy against spread decks and Decidueye-GX's Feather Arrow. Alolan Muk can be clutch against Giratina which are in Malamar decks and to shut off Pokémon such as, Oranguru's Instruct and even the opponent's Ditto Prism Star. Alolan Muk should also help win against Rotom/Zebstrika and Shuckle-GX/Seviper. Alolan Muk also shuts off abilities from Rayquaza-GX, Zeraora-GX, and Shuckle.

Tapu Koko Promo

Having a free retreater is always nice but at the same time, one that can do spread damage and set up KO's for a single Double Colorless Energy is even better. Still, I don't think it's needed because you can set up KOs with both Alolan Ninetales-GX.

Weavile ULP 74

The deck already plays Unit Energy, so technically you can use Weavile as a secondary attacker. I personally have never been a fan of Weavile, so I'm not playing it at the moment. Still, Weavile can be great against most decks because a lot of decks play a handful of abilities.

Magcargo CES 24

This card could be cool in this deck, but it's just not needed anymore in my opinion. I mean if you wanted you can just play a 1-of Magcargo because of Ditto just to have the option of Magcargo but again not needed.

Marshadow SLG 45

The deck only plays one Judge for hand disruption, but you can use it once more with Pal Pad. However, Marshadow you can use more reliably but to be honest the bench space I simply do not like so, for now, I'd think twice about Marshadow.

Girafarig LOT 94

One of the new cards from Lost Thunder. Its attack, Get Lost, for a single Colorless Energy lets you Lost Zone two of your opponent's cards in their discard. This attack is especially great against decks like Exeggcutor, which thrive on energy in their discard, so by removing their Basic Energies then they will do less damage in the long run.


This variant of Zoroark-GX thrives on a turn one Professor Elm's Lecture over Lillie because the deck doesn't play Nest Balls. One Lillie could be okay though but you don't need those turn one Lillies anymore.


The deck doesn't play Magcargo. Mallow can be a substitute if you wanted. However, Alolan Ninetales-GX can grab basically anything relevant not needing Magcargo or Mallow.

Nest Ball/Great Ball

If you aren't a fan of Timer Ball and Professor Elm's Lecture then Great Ball and Nest Ball are recommended. I wasn't a fan of Timer Ball for a while until now. However, the deck pays so many Pokémon that Great should almost always net you something. 

Counter Catcher

The deck is pretty aggressive so not sure how much use Counter Catcher will have but having the option to grab it with Alolan Ninetales-GX is cool.

Bodybuilding Dumbbells

This Tool can be clutch at times. However, Choice Band helps to take one hit KO's which I prefer over a 2 hit KO.

Enhanced Hammer

Being able to grab Enhanced Hammer with Alolan Ninetales-GX's ability seems too good to pass up. However, I much rather go aggro and try to take KO's instead of trying to disrupt the opponent.

Energy Lotto

Having 9 energy in the deck is decent odds that you will grab an energy with Energy Lotto. The cool thing about Energy Lotto in this deck is that it can be searched with Alolan Ninetales-GX basically searching out an energy card with an ability.

Multi Switch

The deck plays a variety of energy so Multi Switch can be useful. However, I don't think it is necessary. Maybe if the deck had a bigger line of Lycanroc-GX. I think for now I'm going to shy away from it though it can be searched out with Alolan Ninetales-GX which is nice.

Escape Board/Switch/Escape Rope

Having some form of switching effect that is not Guzma can be handy especially because you can search it out via Alolan Ninetales-GX. However, space is really tight and I just cannot see dropping anything at the moment but if I had to choose one I'd probably go with Escape Rope. Mainly so you are able to go around Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX while Guzma KOing it on the same turn. If not then probably Escape Board since a lot of decks don't play Field Blower or Faba so you might have a free retreater most of the game if not all game.

Brooklet Hill

This Stadium isn't too bad in this deck because it can search out Alolan Vulpix and Rockruff. However, the added damage from Devoured Field is likely more important in the long run.

Rainbow Energy

I really didn't want to have all Speical Energy in case players start playing energy removal cards like Hammers and Sceptile-GX. However, if you don't fear those type of cards then Rainbow Energy would fit nicely to give your attackers more options and extra energy counts.

With that said, we now into one of the newest archetypes of the Lost Thunder set, Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel.


4-3 Naganadel

Both Poipole and Naganadel have merit in this deck. First, the new Poipole has an attack that lets you look at your prize cards which can come in handy when you use Blacephalon-GX's GX attack, Burst GX. Now, Naganadel is used to fuel energy onto the board to make Blacephalon-GX do more damage. You can even use Naganadel as an attacker to take small KO's. Not to mention it's attack, Turning Point does an additional 80 damage if you have exactly three prize cards. The way to do this is use Blacephalon-GX's GX attack, Burst GX then take a 2-prize KO. Or take one prize, then a 2-prize KO, and with Choice Band you can do 190 damage.

4 Blacephalon-GX

One of the newest and most powerful cards to come out of Lost Thunder. Blacephalon-GX will be a force to be reckoned with come Brazil that's for sure. All of its attacks are good even the first attack, Bursting Burn which is great against Sceptile since Sceptile only blocks damage and not effects from an attack. Auto Burn and Confusion can be annoying for the opponent. It's GX attack, Burst GX is super cool because it lets you take a prize card and discard it and if it is an energy you can attach it to any of your Pokémon. Now, the main attack, Mind Blown is the bread and butter of the deck and why Blacephalon-GX is a huge threat in the format. Mind Blown does 50 damage for each Fire Energy you Lost Zone from your field. That is why the deck plays so many Fire Energy. Let's not forget Beast Ring works well in the deck to power up Blacephalon-GX at a moments notice.

2 Tapu Lele-GX

Most decks have to play a couple Tapu Lele-GX just for the sheer fear of dead drawing. Being able to search out any supporter is nice in general anyway especially the game-winning Guzma. Energy Drive is likely going to be your best bet against Sceptile based decks that try to deny Ultra Beasts from doing damage so remember that. It'll force the opponent to bench more Pokémon which you can then Guzma and take KO's on.

4 Cynthia/3 Sightseer/1 Lillie

This draw supporter count is fine in this type of deck because you don't need much once you are set up. You only want to keep finding energy while putting them in the discard. Cynthia is just an overall great card while Sightseer is a nullified Professor Sycamore in a way. Still, Sightseer fits nicely in this deck because it can help discard Fire Energy while filling your hand back up to five at the same time. One Lillie just in case you do want to get a turn one Lillie off.

4 Guzma

In testing, I felt 3 Guzma was okay but some games I did want a 4th Guzma so I added in the 4th. There may be times where you may have to discard one from Acro Bike so by having 4 means you can at least still use three if need be.

4 Ultra Ball/2 Mysterious Treasure

I felt 4 Ultra Ball and 2 Mysterious Treasure should be enough searchable cards to grab Pokémon while discarding Fire Energy at the same time. You can't search out Blacephalon-GX with Mysterious Treasure but that is okay because we also play Ultra Space.

4 Beast Ring

Blacephalon-GX is the main attacker of the deck so having a maxed count of Beast Ring is ideal. You need to be able to stream them one after another if the opponent is threatening lethal KOs.

3 Acro Bike

I personally like the addition of Acro Bikes in this deck to make the deck run a little smoother and faster. Acro Bikes help you dig more for what you need and also let you discard energy into the discard.

1 Rescue Stretcher

One Rescue Stretcher is always good to have in case you have to get back an attacker or a 1-1 line of Naganadel.

2 Choice Band

Having a couple Choice Bands is great against Pokémon GX/EX with 180 hit points especially the mirror match. Needing one less energy to take a lethal can be advantageous. Choice Band is also clutch against Pokemon GX/EX with over 200 hit points because you would need one less energy to KO.

2 Ultra Space

This Stadium makes perfect sense in this deck because all your Pokémon aside from Tapu Lele-GX are Ultra Beasts. Being able to freely grab an attacker like Blacephalon-GX or Naganadel is quite clutch.

1 Heat Factory Prism Star

This is one of the best stadiums ever printed, to be honest. Definitely the better Prism Stadium by far. Not only can it not be removed by Field Blower or Faba, but it lets you discard a Fire Energy from hand and then draw 3 cards. Ridiculously good in this deck because it lets you put Fire Energy into the discard for Naganadel as well. The only way to remove Prism Stadiums are by attacks or simply bumping them with your own Stadium.

15 Fire Energy/1 Beast Energy Prism Star

As you can see, this deck needs tons of Fire Energy to get going and to be able to one-hit KO enough Pokémon to take all your prize cards. I went with 15 Fire Energy but I can see upping it to 16 or 17 if you feel the need. Personally, I think 15 is enough. Beast Energy provides an additional 30 damage which is actually quite relevant. It can make it so that you need 1 less energy to take a KO for example against let's say Zoroark-GX. You would normally have to remove 5 Fire Energy. However, with Beast Energy, you would need to remove 4 Fire Energy instead of 5 because of the base 30 damage Beast Energy provides. The one energy difference can be a huge deal at times.

Other card options

Ditto Prism Star + Salazzle-GX/Ho-Oh-GX + Kiawe/Turtonator-GX + Kiawe/Reshiram-GX + Kiawe

These are all used as a means to try and counter Exeggcutor/Sceptile. Having some form of non-Ultra Beast attacker obviously being a fire type seems ideal if you want to have a better chance against Sceptile decks. The first option we have is Ditto paired with Salazzle-GX. Ditto allows you to evolve into a stage 1 Pokémon the following turn meaning Salazzle-GX can be abused here along with Naganadel if need be. Its Heat Blast attack does a nice 110 damage which can take down Exeggcutor, Sceptile, and Sceptile-GX if you have a Choice Band attached. If you have taken a few prizes already then you can use its first attack, Diabolic Claws, for some KOs. Next, we have Ho-Oh-GX with Kiawe. This will be extremely powerful against any deck, let alone a fire weak deck like Exeggcutor/Sceptile.

Its Phoenix Burn attack should be able to net you a couple prizes for sure. You can also try Turtonator-GX with Kiawe — its Bright Flame attack can take out any grass Pokémon with ease as well. Not to mention, it's GX attack works well in the deck to power up multiple Blacephalon-GXs if need be. Lastly, we have Reshiram-GX with Kiawe. Probably what I would go with if I had to choose one because its attack Scorching Column can take lethal KO's on any grass types and its GX attack is quite powerful as well. Vermillion GX can take a KO and power up other attackers at the same time which is awesome and has perfect synergy in the deck.


This card can help disrupt an energy from your opponent's board. One scenario being against Exeggcutor/Sceptile. Its ability blocks Ultra Beasts from doing damage to any of their Pokémon with a Grass Energy attached. Both Blacephalon-GX and Naganadel are Ultra Beasts so you will have to take care of Sceptile quick or attack with Tapu Lele-GX. Plumeria will assist in taking one KO because you can discard the active Grass Energy and KO it. However, the benched Sceptile will always be safe because you can't Guzma and Plumeria it at the same time making the matchup difficult. Not to mention, you can discard two Fire Energy with Plumeria to get them in the discard for Naganadel.

Closing Thoughts

That will conclude this article on what I think are two strong plays going into the Brazil International Championships. At the moment I'm leaning towards the Zoroark-GX deck as it has plenty of options going for it. I think it has solid matchups all around. If you see me in Brazil be sure to stop by and say "hi". This will be my third consecutive Brazil International. It should be interesting to see who and what deck ends up winning the first major event with Lost Thunder.

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. 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.

As many of you know already, 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 below if you want to follow me for when I post lists and other exciting news.

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 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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