Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

"Full Retaliation" - Revisiting Gyarados in Expanded

Jose examines Gyarados in the Expanded format.

01/04/2019 by Jose Marrero



What's going on, 60cards readers?! I'm back again with another article — this time revisiting Gyarados ANO 21 in the Expanded format as I feel it can still be a strong deck in the current Expanded format should you hit the right matchups. So for this next article, I'll be examing the deck as a whole. Next, I'll be talking about more options that you can play in the deck depending on your playstyle or what techs you may want to add. Finally, I'll then transition into some of the deck's matchups and go over those. I've actually been a fan of Gyarados ANO 21 for some time now as some of you may already know. In the past, I've had some solid success with the deck.

Some notable finishes with the deck that I've done are placing in Top 8 of the 2017 ARG Invitational and bubbling 9th at the 2017 Anaheim Regional Championships. The deck is a ton of fun to play and is definitely a force to be reckoned with if not prepared. Right now I am sitting at 544 Championship Points which puts me ranked 8th in the US/Canada ranking zone. I'm very eager to finish up my invite soon. I can get it by placing in the finals of 1 League Cup since I already have 2 Top 4 placements. I have about four League Cups left before Dallas Regionals so I'm hoping to finish it before then but if not no big deal since I'll get it eventually.

With that said, let's take a look at my current list for Gyarados ANO 21.

Gyarados Updated 2.0

4-3 Gyarados

Back in 2017 we actually didn't have access to the Submerge ability Magikarp. Its ability is now quite relevant not having to play cards like Mr. Mime. This lead to freeing a spot in the deck. It's ability blocks damage done to it by damage from attacks namely cards like Buzzwole-GX and it's Jet Punch, Landorus-EX and it's Hammerhead and Tapu Koko Promo and it's Flying Flip attack. However, damage counters such as Trevenant BREAK's Silent Fear and Tapu Lele Promo's Magical Swap attack gets around Submerge making those matchups troublesome and usually a near auto-loss.

Gyarados has an ancient trait that is quite unique and would be cool if more cards had these types of traits. You can attach two Tools onto Gyarados at once. This means you can have two Choice Bands on it making it do an additional 60 damage to an EX/GX Pokémon. Gyarados's attack, Full Retaliation is what makes decks want to fear it. Not only does it do 30 base damage but it adds an additional 30 damage for each damage counter on each of your Magikarp. Down below are all the ways you can increase the damage to Full Retaliation.

Damage modifier with 1 Magikarp=90 damage/2x Choice Band=150 damage

Damage modifier with 2 Magikarp=150 damage/2x Choice Band=210 damage

Damage modifier with 3 Magikarp=210 damage/2x Choice Band=270 damage

Damage modifier with 4 Magikarp+Ditto Prism Star=270 damage/2x Choice Band=330 damage

Now you can see by adding 1-2 Choice Bands how much more damage you can potentially do. Adding an extra 30-60 damage depending on what you are trying to KO can make all the difference. For example, for when you prize Magikarps which will happen at times. That is where Choice Bands will be needed to get that last 30-60 damage you need for a KO. For example, if you prize 1 Magikarp then you know you max out at 150 damage. However, if you add 2 Choice Bands then Full Retatialtion can now hit up to 210 damage which is enough to take down plenty of Pokémon namely Zoroark-GX.

1-1 Octillery

Octillery is absolutely necessary for its draw power. Being immune to N in this deck is needed because you don't want to dead draw. You will want to try to get Octillery out almost every time on turn 2; that's how important it is.

1 Ditto Prism Star

A new inclusion to the deck, this is why I think Gyarados is much stronger now. You don't have to play multiple Remoraid and Gyarados can now do more damage by evolving into Ditto. Not only that but you can play other Stage 1 techs if you wanted, which next I'll be talking about one of those techs.

1 Marowak

Mainly in the deck to help combat against Seismitoad-EX. You will have to go into Marowak with Ditto in this case. Marowak also does help against Giratina-EX and Noivern-GX, should you see those.

1 Tapu Lele-GX/1 Shaymin-EX

These are in the deck in case you desperately need them for when you have a dead hand. Try not to use them unless you absolutely need to because they will become liabilities at times. At least Shaymin-EX you can pick up if you attack with it. Lategame Shaymin-EX can assist in digging a little more which is nice if you are trying to find a Double Colorless Energy.

3 Professor Sycamore/2 Teammates/1 Lysandre/1 Guzma/1 N/1 Colress

These are the supporters I went with for the deck. Three Professor Sycamore so far feels just good enough to not have too many dead hands. I like double Teammates in case you prize it. Usually, you can just keep using Teammates every turn to keep getting those revenge KO's. That is why Teammates is so good in this deck. One Lysandre and Guzma is to make sure you have ways to pick off the bench and not get stalled out. One N and Colress are there in case you need to manipulate the opponent's hand into smaller amounts, or when you have too many resources in hand and can't really afford to toss them away with Professor Sycamore. Using Colress for more than seven cards can be great and usually means you will find what you need especially against decks that play Sky Field.

3 VS Seeker

I felt 4 VS Seeker was a little too much because you really do not want to open with VS Seeker, so having them early usually means more dead hands. In testing, three has been fine. You can always use Dowsing Machine as a supporter if you really needed to.

4 Rescue Stretcher

Buddy-Buddy Rescue used to be the way to recover your Pokémon in this deck. However, with the release of Rescue Stretcher, Buddy-Buddy Rescue would quickly be replaced. You want to max out on them because you have to keep getting back Magikarp as they start to fall to keep your damage output as high as possible if needed. Rescue Stretcher also helps you play around Oricorio by shuffling up to three of your discarded Pokémon, not only just Magikarp and Gyarados. This will be important if you know the opponent plays Oricorio.

3 Trainers' Mail

I had tested three and four Trainers' Mail and to be honest three seemed fine. Barely noticed the difference between 3 and 4, but if you are a consistency freak then, by all means, go with four Trainers' Mail.

4 Choice Band

These are absolutely needed to try and make one hit KO's easier to achieve. I maxed out on them because Puzzle of Time is no more. Choice Band will be important at times especially when you prize a Magikarp or two.

4 Dive Ball/3 Ultra Ball/3 Level Ball

Early on you basically just want to find Ball cards to start setting up right away. I maxed out on Dive Ball because it can grab everything in the deck aside from Ditto Prism Star, Shaymin-EX, and Tapu Lele-GX. Three Ultra Ball seemed fine in testing since sometimes you don't want to discard resources anyway. Now, Level Balls are what you can switch around if you wanted. You can go down to two if you wanted to fit something else. However, I like having three Level Ball and I can even see upping it to four. Opening Level Balls and Dive Balls are what you want to do anyway so you can start getting things set up. Level Ball can grab Ditto Prism Star and the Octillery line on top of Magikarp so it will almost always be useless throughout the game.

2 Field Blower

Garbotoxin is troublesome for every deck so having a couple ways to get rid of Tools on them should hopefully alleviate some of the annoyance that would otherwise stop you from playing the game. Dowsing Machine can also act as another Field Blower if needed.

1 Special Charge

Getting back Double Colorless Energy is important of course. Dowsing Machine can also reuse Special Charge if needed which is nice.

1 Float Stone

I really want to fit a 2nd copy of Float Stone but it might not be needed. Sometimes when you don't open Magikarp or Ditto will mean you may have to manually retreat a Double Colorless Energy which usually isn't the worst thing.

1 Town Map

If you prize 1-2 Magikarp it will be important to try and fish them out of the prizes as soon as possible to ensure your damage output is strong enough to take one hit KO's. Town Map also is nice just to pick your prizes even if they aren't Magikarps. Sure the opponent will know what you get but that doesn't matter most of the time anyway. A nice play you can do and what I do a lot is if you know you are getting a KO then you can Teammates for Town Map just to make sure you have access to freely pick your prizes for the rest of the game. Finding Town Map early feels really good.

1 Dowsing Machine

Having the option to get back a Team Magma's Secret Base or Rescue Stretcher or whatever you need at the time can make all the difference now that Puzzle of Time is banned.

4 Team Magma's Secret Base

The bread and butter of the deck because without them the deck does nothing. They help put damage counters onto your Magikarp which then fuels Full Retaliation. The opponent might have to take the 20 damage at times which if so then will make one hit KO's easier to achieve.

Other card options

Alolan Muk

Useful against Aegislash-EX and Xurkitree-GX but I just don't see having a counter to those cards being too relevant right now.

Machoke GRI 64

Great card to block effects of attacks that would otherwise KO multiple Magikarps such as, Silent Fear and Magical Swap. However, you will still be item locked.

Sudowoodo GRI 66

Useful against Zoroark-GX decks. However, if they get Garbotoxin on board then Sudowoodo is useless. Bench space in this deck is very important so if the opponent hits you with their own Sudowoodo you have to make sure you don't bench too many useless sitters that would otherwise make one hit KO's more difficult to achieve. I tried Sudowoodo out but then decided against it.

Giratina Promo

If you expect a ton of Greninja then Giratina will surely help in that matchup. However, against Trevenant I don't think Giratina will help too much because they can still KO 3 Magikarps at a time. Not to mention they might also play Tapu Lele Promo which can Magical Swap and KO multiple Magikarp as well.

Professor Kukui

Adding an extra 20 damage can make KO's smoother especially when you prize Magikarps or when your opponent takes 20 damage from Team Magma's Secret Base. However, the deck already does a ton of damage making Professor Kukui overkill and more situational in my opinion.

Pokémon Ranger

Nullifying Quaking Punch and Chaos Wheel seems like its worth including Pokémon Ranger. However, the deck does play Marowak which is easier to get out and also helps block those effects from working.


Getting back Team Magma's Secret Base and a supporter like Teammates can be quite good. However, early on I feel as if Lusamine will do more harm than good as far as consistency goes.


Picking up Shaymin-EX or Tapu Lele-GX can be crucial at times since they are liabilities. You really rather not bench them unless you desperately need to. They can lose you the game so having AZ can be useful.


Getting rid of Tools on Garbodor, Parallel City, or Double Colorless on Seismitoad-EX can be clutch. For now, I think I'll stick to two Field Blowers since you can still use a supporter afterward.

Energy Loto

Sometimes finding energy can be troublesome if you don't have Teammates readily available. Energy Loto can assist and hopefully help find a Double Colorless Energy when needed most.

Adventure Bag

Getting two Choice Bands from the deck or a Float Stone can be quite useful. If I had room I think I would play one for sure. Searching out 60 damage for 1 card seems pretty good to be honest.

Silent Lab

This card is pretty much to ensure you don't auto-lose to cards like Aegislash-EX and Xurkitree-GX. Personally I rather not play Silent Lab as decks with the cards I mentioned will be slim to none anyway.

Computer Search

The deck used to play Puzzles of Time but now that it is banned I feel as if Dowsing Machine is overall better than Computer Search in the long run. Getting back a resource can be huge when you need it most.

Counter Energy

Magikarp has only 30 hit points so it's possible it can get KOed on the first turn. Counter Energy would work nicely in these types of situations basically having more than four Double Colorless Energy in the deck in a sense.



Fairly easy matchup as Gyarados can 1 hit KO anything in this deck. They will eventually have to trade 2 prizes for 1. You just need to not bench Shaymin-EX or Tapu Lele-GX. Octillery will be very useful in this matchup as well. Taking out multiple Baby Buzzwole will be easy as well since you only need 2 benched Magikarp to one hit KO them.


This matchup just comes down if you can keep streaming Double Colorless Energy and if the opponent gets Garbotoxin out or not. A lot of factors comes down to this matchup but overall the matchup is definitely winnable and not as bad as it may seem especially with a couple Field Blower. Having access to Octillery is very important in this matchup and if you can stop Garbotoxin from coming out then I recommend it as it'll make the matchup go a lot smoother.

Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX-Even to Unfavorable

Marowak will definitely be MVP in this matchup because it will make Quaking Punch useless. Even if the opponent uses Quaking Punch before you get Marowak out it's still okay because once you get Marowak out then Quaking Punch gets negated right away. Without Marowak, I think the matchup is a near auto-loss so Marowak will be needed if you expect to face this deck.

Zoroark-GX/Hand Lock-Even to Favorable

If you can get Octillery out then this matchup is a cakewalk because then they can't really lock your hand. From there you just one shot everything in site.


In this matchup, you are trading 1 prize attackers for 2 prize attackers making the matchup easy.

Vespiquen/Flareon-Even to Favorable

This matchup can be even because you are trading 1 for 1 prizes. However, it also can be favorable because this deck might have to use an EX or GX to help draw into Double Colorless Energy. Thanks to Octillery the Gyarados deck may not have to bench those EX or GX Pokémon to find what they need.

Lucario-GX- Favorable

This deck plays Focus Sash but we don't really care since we play multiple Field Blower and have the potential to one hit KO Lucario-GX not to mention Landorus-EX.


Another favorable matchup. However, this one is due to weakness typing. All you need is 1 Magikarp on the bench to take down Blacephalon-GX.

Archie/Stoise-Even to Favorable

This match will come down to if the opponent can get a turn 1 Articuno KOing for 2 prizes on Ditto or Magikarp or Remoraid. If not then the match should be fine and even then it's probably fine.

Closing Thoughts

That will conclude this article on Gyarados in the Expanded format. If you hit the right matchups then this deck can do wonders. It's worst matchup is obviously Trevenant and Shocklock but those decks shouldn't see too much play. There are still a couple weeks left of League Cups until Dallas Regionals. I wouldn't be surprised if someone won one of them with Gyarados. If you see me at Dallas Regionals be sure to stop by and say hi. Last season I actually finished in 5th place at Dallas Regionals with Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX. It is still a deck in my mind so hopefully, this time around I can finish strong as well no matter what deck I decide on.

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 also have Ability Markers for sale so be sure to pick some up if you haven't already.

If you are interested in taking coaching lessons from me then feel free to either PM me on Facebook or on Twitter. 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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