11/08/2017 by Jay Lesage
Since we're super close to seeing Crimson Invasion's release into the standard format, I figured I'd like to talk about one of my favorites from the set, Buzzwole-GX.
Buzzwole-GX is an amazing addition to this format and balances many things that were... erm... unfair to say the least. One example of this was the rock-paper-scissors dilemma that has seemed to develop over the past few months. Whether it was between Golisopod, Garbodor, Gardevoir, Volcanion, or even Greninja, it seems like every deck just had some sort of auto-loss. While these terrible matchups still exist, Buzzwole adds in a new dimension to the metagame by introducing a very strong Fighting-type attacker. Fighting has always been a type that seems to setup slowly but has inherit strength within raw damage; Buzzwole is not your average Fighting-type though!
Table of contents
Let's have a peak at what makes this hornet so buff:
(F) Fighting Type
Fighting type is really strong right now, being able to take down Drampa-GX and the newly released Zoroark-GX in one hit. Likewise, Phinnegan Lynch has just released a new article on Darkrai-GX, which Buzzwole can also put in work against. There's currently not many Pokemon that are relevant in the format that resist Fighting - Yveltal-EX is the only Pokemon that comes to mind currently. It's also important to keep in mind all the support Fighting has currently, such as Strong Energy and Regirock-EX.
HP - 190
This is above average for a usual basic EX/GX. It seems either this card will tend to have higher HP upon future prints of this Pokemon. Either that, or GXs are just getting stronger as the game goes on. Regardless, that 10 HP extra helps to put us out of Drampa-GX Berserk range, as well as Gardevoir-GX range (we'll have 10 HP more than a regular 180 HP GX, which means Gardevoir-GX will need a total of 7 energy between both Pokemon). Solid hit points.
(F) Jet Punch - 30
"This attack does 30 damage to 1 of your opponent's Benched Pokémon. (Don't apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)"
This attack is very reminiscent of Landorus-EX's "Hammerhead" attack, which had the exact same effect. Being able to put 30 damage on two Pokemon is inherently strong, especially when combined with damage modifiers such as Strong Energy and Regirock-EX. You'll see that very early on in the game, you'll be able to spam off speedy damage to opposing Pokemon, while putting a ton of pressure onto your opponent. This type of attack is especially effective against low-HP Pokemon, which entails mostly basic non-EX/GXs. Mr. Mime will become more popularized with this attack being introduced into standard, but that's okay provided you can put enough pressure on with Buzzwole-GX's second and third attack. That brings me to....
(F)(F)(F) Knuckle Impact - 160
"This Pokemon can't attack during your next turn."
As if Jet Punch wasn't enough, Pokemon decided to give this honeybee a OHKO style attack as well, which allows you to base this guy as a whole deck on his own! Popping off a couple of Max Elixir will aid you in powering up in order to use this attack. The cost is a little hefty, but between Carbink BREAK and manual attachments, you should be fine with maintaining tempo of attackers. With Strong Energy, Fighting Fury Belt, Choice Band, Regirock-EX, as well as any chip damage from Jet Punch, you'll be able to OHKO anything in your path. Not much to comment on besides this being a powerhouse of an attack.
(F)(F)(F) Absorption GX - 40x
"This attack does 40 damage for each of your remaining Prize cards. (You can't use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)"
Besides Jet Punch, this attack is going to be your go-to first attack. You're going to want to hit this as early as turn two and land a big OHKO on something most of the time, followed up by a Knuckle Impact afterwards. This'll give you an aggressive start, which is what this card is all about - explosiveness. Think about it: if you have six Prize Cards left, you can hit 240 damage without any damage modifiers. Talk about powerful!
Buzzswole-GX was doing so well until I read its weakness: Psychic-type. Garbodor is looming all around standard right now, so it's important that we figure out a way to counter this trash heap. My initial go-to thought is to include Zygarde-EX due to its Grass-type weakness; Zygarde-EX can abuse all of the Fighting-type support that Buzzwole-GX abuses, but with a different moveset and different utilization.
This is alright, considering this deck is going to have a fair bit of space. I'll be including a high count of Float Stone in my list in order to combat Knuckle Impact's setback. Being mobile in a deck that's otherwise stagnant will allow it to achieve an ideal setup, as well as position its optimal attacker within the active slot.
With all of these factors in mind, I decided to create a base list similar to what Igor Costa piloted at Hartford. I wanted a deck that could explode, but had a really simple premise setting up. I included things to counter Garbodor, as well as give you longevity against other OHKO-based matchups such as Gardevoir-GX. Below is the list I've been toying around with:
- 3x Buzzwole GX
- 1x Zygarde EX
- 2x Regirock EX
- 1x Carbink BREAK
- 1x Carbink
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Sudowoodo
- 1x Giratina
- 1x Oranguru
- 1x Espeon EX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x N-supporter
- 3x Guzma
- 2x Acerola
- 1x Lillie
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Max Elixir
- 4x Float Stone
- 3x Fighting Fury Belt
- 2x Brooklet Hill
- 1x Super Rod
- 1x Field Blower
- 9x Fighting Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
Buzzwole-GX's strategy is very simplistic: you're going to want to tee-off as early as possible, either by spamming Jet Punch or by loading up attackers with Max Elixir. This deck is very versatile due to its onslaught of attackers, as well as its positioning in the current metagame. This deck doesn't lose to anything right off the bat, and should hold its ground against all sorts of decks. Within the first turn, Jet Punch will begin to spread quick damage onto the opponents field, and start to take cheap KOs. The following turn or so should be followed by Absorption GX, mainly because it will only get weaker as the course of the game goes on (since it is based on how many Prize Cards you have left). Followed up by a Knuckle Impact, your first Buzzwole-GX should be able to score you the first four Prize Cards in 80% of your matchups. Jet Punch can score you 1-2 additional Prize Cards, pending on how low-HP your opponent's Pokemon are. You're going to want to put your all into one or two Buzzwole-GX, and just run with them for the entirety of the game; this may just be the most aggressive risk-taking deck in all of standard, because it relies on you going all in with a beefy attacker for instant results.
There are separate goals within this decks first few turns which you must also comply to. For example, you're going to want as many damage modifiers in play as possible (namely Regirock-EX, Fighting Fury Belt and Strong Energy). These will aid you in hitting those high damage numbers, and apply those early game pressures via Jet Punch. If you have a Jet Punch that's hitting 70 damage to the active Pokemon and 30 to the bench, you're going to most likely win; this is because most decks in standard aren't reactive enough to handle a big damage threshold early on in the game. Fighting Fury Belt will also aid you in staying alive in a ton of matchups, while also denying knockouts from the opponent alongside the healing supporter, Acerola! Lastly, similar to how Volcanion and Greninja decks utilize Starmie as a support Pokemon, we utilize a different form of energy support in the form of Carbink BREAK. Carbink BREAK is excellent at helping us flow energy into play and can seal the game as our 1-prize attacker by flooding the field with Strong Energy.
All this information was a lot to take in as a summary, so let's break down why we play the counts we do, shall we?
The main head honcho of our deck! Whether it's to get off chip damage, or go head-first for a dangerous KO, this will be our main attacker throughout all of our matchups, and for a good reason - he's probably the best card to come out of Crimson Invasion. We play three to optimally start with Buzzwole-GX, or to draw into Buzzwole-GX if we don't start with it. Regardless, if we prize one Buzzwole-GX, we'll still have two more in the deck in order to kick some butt. I initially included the fourth Buzzwole-GX, but figured Brooklet Hill was a stronger inclusion. If need be, there's always a Super rod to recover one of these guys.
Ah, a fresh face for this deck! Zygarde-EX is exclusively for any Psychic-type decks that Buzzwole-GX wouldn't normally be able to take on. In the case of the current standard format, we're looking primarily at Drampa-GX/Garbodor decks, that utilize Pokemon like Espeon-GX. We're able to recycle Zygarde-EX with Acerola and Carbink BREAK in order to eventually overcome their wide variety of Psychic-type attackers. Thank goodness for Zygarde-EX's Grass-type weakness, otherwise this archetype may have been history. We'll talk more about this card a little later on.
If Buzzwole-GX were to have a wedding, Regirock-EX would be the best man (sorry, Sudowoodo). Regirock-EX aids in applying the early game pressure that I've been talking a lot about, and allows us to hit magical numbers that we wouldn't otherwise be able to hit. We play two of these for the same reason we play Buzzwole-GX - so that if we prize one, we can still ideally use the other. The second Regirock-EX doesn't hurt though, because it only heightens our potential damage ceiling. These are also searchable via Brooklet Hill, which adds to the versatility of this deck.
1-1 Carbink BREAK
Carbink BREAK is your go-to tool for recycling precious Strong Energy. This is just a simple 1-1 line because that's all that is needed - if you get off one Diamond Gift, you'll have met Carbink's goal and purpose in the deck. This card is usually used to setup multiple attackers in order to prepare for a prize tradeoff with the opponent. In unfavourable trades with the opponent, I wouldn't advise using Carbink, because you'll approach the tradeoff too slow. Use Carbink is situations in order to make a normal tradeoff even better, by ensuring you have the adequate amount of power. Safeguard on the basic Carbink is also a huge plus, being able to get off cheap shots against EX Pokemon. Who knows - it may just auto-win you matchups against full-on EX decks!
My brother brought this card to my attention in his testing, and let me tell you something: It makes the difference! Sudowoodo offers many dimensions depending on the matchup, but mostly against Gardevoir-GX and the mirror match. Against Gardevoir, if there's 8 combined energy between both Sudowoodo and an active Gardevoir-GX, Sudowoodo will easily take the KO - this isn't even factoring damage modifiers, or any previous existing Jet Punch damage. In the mirror match, Sudowoodo can also do the same thing to a Buzzwole-GX by either copying Knuckle Impact or Absorption GX. Being a single prize attacker that can easily take down a GX/EX Pokemon, Sudowoodo may be the best card in the entire deck. It can even take down a Tapu Bulu-GX!
Espeon-EX is a very great inclusion in this deck since it is able to work perfectly with Jet Punch. Spreading mass damage across the field allows for some interesting plays, especially in an evolution based format. Feel free to kiss your opponent's Rare Candies away!
2 Tapu Lele-GX/1 Oranguru
These just seemed like easy inclusions for the deck. Two Tapu Lele-GX seems like the right amount, while a single Oranguru aids you in recovering against any late game Ns. Since we play Brooklet Hill, I may choose to include a 1-1 line of Octillery instead of this.
With the success of Michael Long at Hartford, I'd hate to face off against a Greninja with a deck that can have trouble pacing against it. Without the Giratina, the matchup is winnable due to the raw power of Jet Punch and Knuckle Impact, but this secures us a safety net against a matchup that we may play against 2-3 times at larger tournaments. Being able to shutoff Giant Water Shuriken with Giratina's ability will surely become relevant one round or another.
I desperately wanted the fourth Guzma in this deck, it's just so hard to find room because there's a lot going on! The fourth Guzma helps us to remove the drawback of Knuckle Impact, while also giving us extra outs to targeting our opponent's bench. Three has seemed to workout well so far, so I may keep it this way.
Within Buzzwole-GX being a 190HP beast (230HP with a Fighting Fury Belt) that attacks for a single energy, Acerola becomes an asset that can't be ignored. Scooping up a Buzzwole-GX just feels so good after our opponent can't OHKO it! Acerola also serves a dual purpose as a switching effect since our deck plays so many high retreat cost Pokemon (e.g. Regirock-EX, Buzzwole-GX). Resetting our health a couple times in a game can help us keep tempo against decks that aim to take two-shots against us like Golisopod-GX.
Our deck doesn't abuse Brigette since we have a mixture of EX and GX, so our opening turn one Supporter slot goes to Lillie! Lillie gives us exploding starts in almost every game, and is accessible via Tapu Lele-GX. We need these explosive starts in order to draw into Regirock-EX, as well as other resources such as Strong Energy or Fighting Fury Belt. In the late game, Lillie is a good Supporter to draw into as well, by refreshing your hand to a healthy 6 cards. A lot of our cards are also instantly usable, which will allow us to maximize our hand draw efficiency with Lillie. This slot can also be replaced with Pokemon Fan Club in order to search out an EX/basic Pokemon combo.
4 Max Elixir
These are included to fish out valuable energy attachments out of the deck. We only play 9 Fighting Energy, so our odds of hitting these out of our 6 cards aren't high, but we should be able to land a couple of late game Max Elixirs. We also included a copy of Super Rod in this deck over Rescue Stretcher in order to boost our odds of hitting Max Elixir. These are meant to help us keep pace in a deck that normally wouldn't be fast! Max Elixir is the only way we can possibly achieve Buzzwole-GX's energy costs for Absorption/Knuckle Impact, so it's vital we dig for these in the early game. We can thin our deck by consistently using cards like Brooklet Hill each turn, or by getting fodder out of the deck by using Ultra Ball.
4 Float Stone
Float Stone is a key player in this deck, especially since Fighting-type Pokemon naturally have a very high retreat cost! In the case of this Buzzwole-GX deck, we have high retreaters as our main attacker - in order to keep them mobile, packing a few Float Stone is very important! Also, Knuckle Impact is an attack that has a nasty drawback, disallowing us to attack the following turn with our active Buzzwole-GX. Float Stone actually depletes the drawback text by allowing us to retreat, and Guzma back into the active position in order to attack once again. Voila! Float Stone also allows us to apply early pressure by ensuring we can switch Buzzwole-GX into the active slot as early as turn one.
3 Fighting Fury Belt
In order to jack up our mighty bee's HP, we play three FFB! This card is absolutely insane in making our main attacker near invincible (and by near invincible, I mean he's very difficult to OHKO). The +10 clause from FFB also allows us to reach key KOs, as well as allow us to dish early damage. Choice Band is something I've considered in this deck heavily, but I'll need a heavy amount of testing in order to determine the split/if one is superior to the other.
2 Brooklet Hill
In order to avoid Garbodor decks running rampant on us, this card aids us in setting up without the use of Ultra Ball. Likewise, we can also use this card to fish out multiple Regirock-EX, and to setup our Carbink so that in future turns we can evolve into Carbink BREAK. Brooklet Hill can just about get you any basic Pokemon in the deck besides Tapu Lele-GX, and thin your deck for potential Max Elixirs.
1 Field Blower
This is only used to clear Garbotoxin off of the field, as well as to get rid of FFB on any Pokemon.
9 Fighting Energy
This is the ideal amount of energy in order to hit Max Elixir. More energy would be nice but it would negatively impact the decks consistency.
4 Strong Energy
These are our main source of damage modification! Try to fish as many of these out in the early to mid game, so that in the late game you can reattach them via Diamond Gift.
So, I'm going to spill the beans on this one - I haven't tested direct matches with this because my practice time has been limited. I've theorized a ton however, and my theory is usually correct as a player! Overall, these are just assumptions for the most part (barring a few primary research sessions). For the sake of these matchups, we'll assume that they don't hard-counter us with Mr. Mime - the reason why I'm discounting Mr. Mime is because I think Buzzwole-GX will be an underdeveloped deck by the time London hits, and Mr. Mime won't be considered in the deck. It'll be a 61st spot in most lists, and Giratina may be favoured more. Below are a few general notes I've taken on key matchups.
Gardevoir-GX - Favorable
Being able to Jet Punch and kill Ralts for easy prizes is a joke! Setting up multiple KOs with Espeon-EX also makes the matchup very simple, and FFB makes it difficult for Gardevoir-GX to OHKO Buzzwole-GX. Try to setup Jet Punch damage in the first few turns for a big devolution play with Espeon-EX. Then, KO any looming threat with a well-timed Absorption GX.
Drampa-GX/Garbodor - Even
This is a weird matchup - so if you don't play any Items and fall into an early Trashalanche, you can usually pop off a ton of damage using Jet Punch. Espeon-EX helps to clear your opponent's board of any Garbodor, but the scary thing is Acid Spray - the opponent will favour to use Shining Mew to power up multiple Trubbish with a single energy in anticipation of using Garbodor's second attack. With a Choice Band, the opponent will actually be able to OHKO a Buzzwole-GX! FFB helps us in avoiding this KO, followed by multiple Acerola. Drampa-GX isn't a threat, due to us being able to take care of it easily since it is weak to Fighting-types. If you can spam a few Zygarde-GX attacks, and eventually Cell Restore with few Items, you'll usually win this game. Just be sure to preserve Acerola, and attack wisely!
Golisopod-GX - Favorable
Since we're able to dish out high amounts of damage, taking OHKOs are very simple. Likewise, we can also soften up Pokemon by using Jet Punch. Devolution also presents an opportunity in this matchup, by being able to clear our opponent's board of Golisopod all at once. We can also OHKO Tapu Koko with Jet Punch, which helps a ton!
Alolan Ninetales-GX/Zoroark-GX - Very Favorable
This is a deck that just recently has popped up at League Cups, mainly due to Jose Marrero and the adaptation Brad Curcio has recently been promoting. This deck is very versatile but doesn't stand a chance against Buzzwole-GX on multiple fronts - we can handle them by either OHKO-ing them, by spreading damage and KO-ing basics, or by devolving their hefty GX Pokemon. Zoroark-GX's Fighting-type weakness also gives us a massive advantage, because they're unable to abuse their deck's draw engine without a looming liability. Their best key to success is to keep up in the prize race, which is awfully difficult when we play multiple FFB in this deck and they max out at 190 damage (Blizzard Edge with a Choice Band).
I can't comment too much on other matchups since I haven't tested them - but right off the bat, the rest of the matchups seem relatively easy, with the most alarming being Volcanion (the more Field Blower you run, the easier the Volcanion matchup becomes due to their pesky FFBs).
As of lately, people have been theorizing about this Buzzwole-GX deck with the inclusion of Garbodor for the purpose of blocking off abilities. While I think this is an obvious combo, it is important to acknowledge it in the metagame because I'm sure it will gain traction as this quarter of the season progresses. The reason why I opted to talk about this version of the deck today was to explore the options of Buzzwole-GX, as well as put a fresh spin on a "big basics" concept. Could this deck be better than the Garbodor version? Yes - it'll inherently be faster than the Garbodor version, mostly due to there being less Stage 1 Pokemon in the deck, as well as a constant flow of abilities throughout the game. This version of the deck also fares better against Greninja due to our inclusion of Giratina, whereas the Garbodor version falls short against the frog army due to Greninja's inclusion of Field Blower. However, the ability locking trashbag helps immensely against Gardevoir-GX in slowing down Secret Spring, and also allows you to slow down opponents in the mid-late game from common support Pokemon (i.e. Tapu Lele-GX, Oranguru). One of my favourite inclusions in my list is the Oranguru to help against late game Ns - this is something that the Garbodor versions can't include since they would shut down their own Instruct! They both have their ups and downs, but currently I favour the Garbodor-less version because of its sheer speed. The only upside I wish this deck had is the ability to shut down Mr. Mime.
Overall, I love this deck! The options are endless, the attackers are versatile, and the deck has a decent amount of room to play around with and customize. If for some reason I'm able to go to London, England for the European International Championships, I'll probably end up playing some variant of this. In preparation for the first internationals of the season, I'd suggest to practice very hard over the course of the next two weeks; if you're flying across half the globe for a Pokemon tournament, you're going to want to be prepared. Until then trainers, tally ho!
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