08/08/2017 by Alex Wilson
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Hello again 60cards readers, the 2017 World Championships are three weeks away now. By next week, the new set, Burning Shadows, will be available on PTCGO, changing the 2017 format one last time. So, for any of you that will be competing at Worlds, the Anaheim Open, or PRC-On league cups, I’ll be looking into a couple of decks that are sure to affect the meta. But first, I want to share my thoughts on how the recent ban list affects the expanded format for next season.
This year, TPCI announced that each quarter, (unlike the promise in quarterly cups), they would update us with any rule changes to the game, or any cards receiving a ban. A while back, they updated the ‘Burned’ status condition (or special condition, whichever it is). With the most recent update, they’ve banned the stadium card, Forest of Giant Plants, and the Stage 2 Pokémon Archeops, from the expanded format. While I never cared for any bans to take effect, I absolutely love the way expanded is taking shape. While one may not think that two little cards getting banned can considerably change a format, without the use of those cards, multiple decks no longer exist.
Decidueye/Vileplume is Gone!
If any of you remember mine and John Kettler’s finals match in St. Louis, I had to face his signature deck with mine. And while I may have come out on top that day, Rayquaza’s matchup versus Decidueye/Vileplume is very tough. If Vileplume gets set up on the first turn, the matchup becomes close to impossible. Which applies to each and every matchup Vileplume finds itself facing, which is a huge reason Forest of Giant Plants was banned. While item lock is nothing new to the game of Pokémon, item locking your opponent out of the game before they can play a single card was pushing it. On top of item lock, Forest of Giant Plants also allowed for a quick Decidueye GX to come on board and begin spreading damage with its Feather Arrow ability. Decidueye GX and Vileplume are literally the only reasons Forest of Giant Plants was banned, (though doubtful, it’s quite possible that TPCI felt that Golisipod GX was going to be busted in expanded), and like I said before, while I never felt the ban was needed, it’s nice to know that I don’t have to worry as much about a turn one item lock at my next Regionals. (The key word there was “as much.”)
Yveltal’s Partner Goes Extinct!
Archeops’ ability prevents both players from evolving their Pokémon manually from their hands. TPCI’s official statement on banning Archeops was that its ability took away from the main aspect of Pokémon, evolving. It has been fairly obvious that with the recent Sun and Moon sets, the game’s welcoming evolutions back into the competitive meta for the first time since Black and White: Next Destinies was released. Just like with the ban of Forest of Giant Plants, I don’t necessarily agree that it was a needed change. Most evolutionary decks adapted by playing copies of Hex Maniac, Garbotoxin Garbodor, or Wobbuffet, so it has always felt balanced to me. Though I won’t complain, as now I can freely evolve my Mega Rayquazas anytime I want without the use of Hex Maniac!
Yveltal Moving Forward
Yveltal will still be a force to be reckoned with, and arguably, remains as the best deck in the expanded format. I’ve heard quite a few players talking about how Yveltal might be bad without the help of Archeops by its side. But if you look back this season, many times, we witnessed players dropping Archeops in place of an additional tech card, like Sableye. So, the idea that Yveltal isn’t as good, is ridiculous. Archeops only really helped in the Vespiquen, Trevenant, Decidueye, and Greninja matchups, one of which, no longer exists with the recent ban, and another remains a favorable matchup with or without Archeops. Yveltal still has 50/50 matchups with everything in the format, so expect to continue seeing it at the top tables for yet another year.
With as many people running around thinking that Yveltal is bad all of a sudden, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a decent chunk of players choose to try it out again. While it has an obvious weakness to Yveltal and Darkrai, a turn one Wally sometimes is just enough to win a game alone. Which is another thing to thing, with Vileplume out of the picture, some players may choose to turn to Trevenant to fill the void. Trevenant really isn’t that bad of a deck, it’s really quite good in my opinion, the only thing standing in its way of winning a regionals is the immense amount of Dark type decks seeing play.
More Item Lock?
As with Trevenant, some players may choose to try Seismitoad EX variants again solely for the reason of item locking their opponent out of the game, namely Toad Bats. Toad Bats has seen many successful runs in the past, but with the fear of running into an Archeops, many players stopped playing the deck, and once Decidueye GX was released in Sun and Moon, Toad Bats packed its bags and ran away. Now, the only Grass type Seismitoad needs to fear is Vespiquen.
Archeops is THE reason Vespiquen began getting scarce, that is, before Fighting Fury Belt was released. Once both Archeops and Fighting Fury Belt saw combined play, Vespiquen disappeared for good. Archeops is gone, the scary Decidueye matchup is nonexistent, and some decks may choose to run Choice Band over Fighting Fury Belt, making perfect since that Vespiquen Flareon can fight its way back up to the top tables once again.
As inconsistent as this deck is, it can see success in the expanded format once again now that both Archeops and Decidueye aren’t standing in its way. Its Yveltal matchup is pretty good, Volcanion is a piece of cake, and Rayquaza’s a decent matchup as long as it’s not playing the Giratina promo I opted to play in St. Louis.
Night March was making a slight resurgence in the past few regionals, but with the fact that both Trevenant and Greninja can survive in expanded again, Night March might be gone for good.
Those were just a few of my thoughts I currently have about how the expanded format may change with the most recent bans of two extremely relevant cards in Archeops and Forest of Giant Plants. I don’t think anything “new” will appear in expanded other than Trashalanche Garbodor, but that’s a topic I have yet to fully consider.
Decks I’ve Been Testing for Worlds
Testing for Worlds is interesting… With the new rule last year, sets are legal slightly earlier from their release date, allowing each new set in August to be legal for Worlds. I love the idea, but boy is it tough to prepare for a tournament without having access to the cards on PTCGO but only two weeks before the most important tournament of the year. This week, I proxied out every deck that needs consideration for Worlds, and have literally been ‘playing with myself.’ While it’s a great way to see how matchups pan out, it’s a dangerous testing method in that I’m not playing against someone else with different thinking patterns. Playing against myself only gets me so far, I always now “my opponent’s” hand and what they’ll do next. Additionally, if I don’t see a certain strategy others may have figured out, I could be playing a matchup completely wrong. Anyways, all I’m saying is that my testing methods currently aren’t the best, and that my lists may be a little different than other’s world’s format decks.
Holy smokes, Volcanion has never looked better! Not only did it gain some amazing Supporter cards in Kiawe and Guzma, but it gains a new powerful attacker in Ho-oh GX. Fellow 60cards writer Ryan Sabelhaus piloted Volcanion to a top 8 (deserved to make top 4) finish at the North American International Championships. Volcanion was already a top contender leading into Worlds, and with Kiawe and Ho-oh GX, Volcanion is one of, if not the, biggest threats heading into day one. The list I’ve been testing with the most is a list resembling Azul Griego and Ryan Sabelhaus’ successful Volcanion lists updated with the three new cards aforementioned from Burning Shadows. Take a look:
- 4x Volcanion
- 4x Volcanion EX
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Staryu
- 1x Starmie
- 1x Turtonator GX
- 1x Ho-Oh GX
- 3x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 3x Float Stone
- 1x Escape Rope
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 3x N
- 1x Fisherman
- 3x Brooklet Hill
- 2x Field Blower
- 4x Fighting Fury Belt
- 1x Kiawe
- 3x Guzma
- 14x Fire Energy
Like I said, the list may not have changed much, but boy is it in the best shape of its life! Let me go over some of the key cards from the deck.
NEW Ho-oh GX
This flying roasted chicken may not look like a lot at first glance, but its second attack allows for some heavy punches that fits well with Volcanion’s engine. Its first attack is meh at best, only seeing use in desperate situations, dealing 50 damage to any Pokémon of choice on your opponent’s side of the field. Its second attack however is the reason it’s a great addition to the deck, dealing a whopping 180 damage. It easily combos well with Kiawe on your first turn of the game. With two Steam Ups, Ho-oh GX easily deals 240 damage without the use of damage adding tools, unlike Volcanion EX and Turtonator GX. And though its attack has the same repercussion Volcanion EX’s Volcanic Heat attack has, using a Float Stone and either Escape Rope or Guzma quickly allows Ho-oh GX to begin swinging again. And lastly, its GX attack, though not too useful, may help in desperate situations, allowing for three Fire type Pokémon to be revived from the discard pile onto your bench.
Kiawe is arguably a better Blacksmith. Blacksmith attached two Fire energy from the discard pile to a Pokémon, Kiawe on the other hand attaches four Fire energy from your deck onto any given Pokémon. And for better or worse, using Kiawe ends your turn immediately. Kiawe allows the deck to quickly apply pressure with a fully built Volcanion EX, Turtonator GX, or Ho-oh GX, all of which deal massive amounts of damage. And thanks to Tapu Lele GX, getting out a turn one Kiawe is easier done than said! Though turn one is the most optimal time to play Kiawe, it can come in handy at any point in a game where an attack isn’t needed.
Guzma is by far one of the best cards that has been released this season. While it would have been nice to see Lysandre rotate in peace, it’s not too surpising to see yet another “Gust of Wind” card printed. Would it have made more since to reprint Lysandre with another name? Either way, we’re dealing with the best Supporter card printed in a while. Just like Lysandre, Guzma allows you to switch your opponent’s active Pokémon with one of their benched, but with the added effect of switching yours aswell. This card can really come in handy when you have a Pokémon stuck in your active spot, with no way to retreat. You can switch into your attacker, “Lysandre” (it’s going to be soo weird saying Guzma) a new target, and attack or take a knock out. In a deck like Volcanion, which plays Float Stones, anytime you play Guzma, you’ll always have the choice to switch into a free retreater before attacking again. Aaand, since we’ve seen Volcanion lists in the past include a copy of Olympia, Olympia is easily replaced by a copy of Guzma. Olympia helped with Volcanion EX’s Volcanic Heat attack’s reprocussion if a Float Stone wasn’t attached to it. Now, with Guzma, you can combine the Lysandre effect while freely retreating Volcanion EX so that it can attack again for a second turn in a row. Though Guzma is sure to replace every Lysandre in every deck, Guzma helps Volcanion more so than any other deck in the format. Sure, Guzma can hurt you if you don’t want to remove your only attacker from the active spot, but the pros definitely out way the cons that come with the added effect.
Fighting Fury Belt
Many lists have have opted into using Choice Band, but now that this format has slowed down and become a two hit knock out format, Fighting Fury Belt’s additional 40 HP is far more important than an extra 30 damage, especially considering that a single Steam Up grants said 30 damage.
What Are Its Matchups Looking Like?
Golisopod Decidueye – Very Favorable
While I don’t think many World’s competitors will take the risk of playing this new deck, I can’t help but feel that there will be a hand full from Japan trying it out. This is, in my opinion, Volcanion’s easiest matchup in the format. It’s very quite simple, everything in Volcanion attacks everything in Golisopod for weakness. At best, Golisopod can knock out a Volcanion EX in two turns, but obviously, no Golisopod can last even two turns in a field of fire. Summing this matchup up, I don’t think too many players will play Golisopod knowing that Volcanion is one of the best, if not the best, decks in the format. Araquanid from Sun and Moon however???
Decidueye Vileplume – Favorable
We all know how this matchup works, as it hasn’t changed much even with the release of Burning Shadows. Decidueye only gains the use of Acerola and Guzma from the new set, and in this matchup, Volcanion typically knocks out everything in the deck in one hit anyways. So, in a way, Volcanion’s matchup against Decidueye has only gotten stronger with the new set. Though, as always, a turn one Vileplume can easily win the game, even against the Fire type Volcanion. However, even under item lock, Volcanion now has access to Kiawe. Just a short while ago, Volcanion wasn’t doing much under item lock, only until fully setting up a Volcanion EX or Turtonator GX. Now, drawing into your one of Kiawe swings the game into your favor!
Turbo Darkrai – Favorable
At the North American International Championships, Darkrai was seen being playing in two different variant, pure Turbo Darkrai and Darkrai Garbodor. In the list I talk about below, it’s a refined pure Turbo Darkrai deck with the additions of Burning Shadows. For the sake of this matchup, I’ll be referring to the Darkrai I feel players are more likely to play at Worlds, the more consistent, pure Darkrai deck. Like at the International Championships, Volcanion has the upper hand as it typically has the faster setup. Even though we no longer play Max Elixirs, while Darkrai does, it still take Darkrai three to four turns before swinging for one hit knock outs. Thanks to Volcanion EX’s Steam Up ability, reaching 180 damage, and even 220 damage, is fairly easy. Volcanion also has the quicker energy acceleration with Volcanion’s Volcanic Heat attack and Starmie’s Space Beakon ability. Darkrai relys heavily on Yveltal’s Oblivion Wing attack, only grabbing one energy from the discard pile, compared to Volcanion’s two, and Max Elixirs, which is a fairly risky card to rely on. However, don’t forget about the new Darkrai GX from Burning Shadows, which brings an extra Darkness energy from the discard pile onto the bench.
Garbodor Drampa – Favorable
What was already a slightly favorable matchup prior to the release of Burning Shadows, the new additions of Guzma and Kiawe help swing this matchup even more into Volcanion’s favor. Obviously, the scariest part of this matchup is your opponent setting up a Garbotoxin Garbodor, but with two Field Blower, you should have, at the very least, two turns to take huge Steam Up’ed knock outs. And thanks to the newly added Ho-oh GX, building up four Fire energy onto Ho-oh GX allows for an easy one hit knock out without the use of abilities. Aside from Garbotoxin, conservatively playing items is the key to winning this matchup, which is why we only play five different types of item cards. With Brooklet Hill, Ultra Balls rarely ever need to be played, so that’s one type of item we can cross off the list. Escape Rope shouldn’t be needed with both Float Stones and Guzmas in the deck. And you can always get away with keeping VS Seekers in your hand if a Supporter isn’t needed that turn.
Rayquaza – Slightly Unfavorable
Rayquaza still has the upper hand. With Hex Maniac, easily hitting for 240 damage, and Guzmas of their own, Rayquaza almost always finds itself coming out on top of Volcanion. The only way this matchup could truly, and consistently, swing into Volcanion’s favor, is if we included a copy of Hex Maniac of our own. It’s not a total loss however, with Kiawe, Ho-oh GX, and Guzma, this matchup is a lot closer than it has been in the past. Successfully setting up a turn one Kiawe can apply so much pressure with a turn two knock out, that it could catch your opponent off guard. And if your opponent can’t set up a second Mega Rayquaza EX, Volcanion can steam role its way through the match. Turtonator also applies a little bit of pressure that the Rayquaza player may not quite be used to, knowing that if they attack, their 220 HP dragon becomes quite fragile.
Vespiquen – Unfavorable
Leading to, and during, the North American International Champioships, Vespiquen was in a tough spot with decks like Garbodor and Zoroark since they ran copies of Oricorio. Now however, the fear of an Oricorio tech has diminished, allowing Vespiuen to come out of its hiding place, which is bad news for Volcanion. Knowing that Volacnion is one of the decks to beatat Worlds, all Vespiquen lists will run a copy of Vaporeon, allowing both Vespiquen and Zoroark to attack Fire types for weakness. The key for victory is attacking with baby Volcanions, all while perfectly timing the knock out of either Eevee or Vaporeon. Waiting too long, or knocking out the Vaporeon when taking out an attacker would have been better however can spell disaster for Volcanion. All in all, Volcanion usually doesn’t beat Vespiquen unless Vespiquen draws quite terribly.
Greninja – Very Unfavorable
Greninja’s a hit or miss deck, but even with its inconsistencies in full display, a few attacks into the game, and you’ll notice just how aweful this matchup is for Volcanion. Just one Giant Water Shuriken and a Moonlight Slash easily knocks out a Volcanion EX with or without a Fighting Fury Belt attached. The unfortunate part about this Volcanion list is its slower setup without Max Elixirs, making it even easy for a deck as inconsistent as Greninja to stay in the game. The only way to help with this matchup is a copy of Hex Maniac or even a Giratina promo to turn ogg Greninja BREAK’s Giant Water Shuriken ability.
Turbo Darkrai (GX)
One deck we saw make a resurgence at the North American International Championships was Turbo Darkrai. Although it didn’t have many day two placements, it was a solid performing deck that had good matchups all around the field. And like most other decks in the format, it gains some new additions from Burning Shadows. I played Darkrai Garbodor at Internationals last month, and over all enjoyed it, only wishing that I had played a more consistent list, leaving out the Garbodor line. With the new Darkrai GX from Burning Shadows, playing a more consistent list that has a fighting chance in the format is a lot more doable.
The newly released Darkrai GX is like a combination of Propagate Exeggcute from Plasma Blast and Ho-oh EX from Dragons Exalted. Its Restoration ability allows you to revive Darkrai GX from the discard pile, and place it onto your bench, additionally, allowing you to attach a Dark energy from your discard pile to the Darkrai GX that was just revived. This ability fits in perfectly with Darkrai EX’s Dark Pulse attack, the more Dark energy on the field, the better. This ability is the real reason we’ve included this Pokémon into the deck. While its Dark Cleave attack is okay, since it isn’t effected by resistence, you’ll nearly never want to use Dark Cleave over Dark Pulse. And its GX attack is very interesting, allowing you to knock out the defending Pokémon so long as the defending Pokémon is effected by a special condition. While we have no way of using it in this deck, I’m sure we’ll see some use of it come next season.
Like Volcanion, Guzma fits perfectly into this deck. With Altar of the Moone, you always have a way to retreat your Pokémon so long as a Dark energy is involved. So why not play Guzma? It’s better than Lysandre in that if you have a Pokémon stranded in the active spot without a Dark energy, Guzma allows you to Lysandre and switch for the perfect combo knock out. And if you don’t need to switch your active Pokémon with one of your benched, like I said earlier, Altar of the Moone works well with an unwanted switching effect.
Fighting Fury Belt
I’ve choosen to include Fighting Fury Belt in this list over Choice Band due to the Volcanion, Rayquaza, Decidueye, Garbodor, and Vespiquen matchups. It’s fairly simple, the additional 40 HP on your Darkrai EXs is crucial in these matchups. I like to look at it this way, before Darkrai GX was involved, Choice Band added 30 damage to your attacks. But now that we have Darkrai GX, its ability brings an extra Dark energy into play, adding 20 more damage to Darkrai EX’s attack, and with Fighting Fury Belt’s added 10 damage, it’s the same as Choice Band, but with more bulk!
How Are Those Matchups Looking?
Garbodor Drampa – Favorable
The reason Darkrai saw play at the North American International Championships was due to the abundance of Garbodor and Zoroark decks. Though I see Zoroark dying down thanks to the new Gardevoir GX from Burning Shadow, I’d like to think that Garbodor is still a deck to look out for at Worlds. After all, it did just win the largest event in the history of Pokémon. Anyways, back on topic, this much up easily leans in Darkrai’s favor. Over all, Darkrai doesn’t need to use many item cards in this matchup. And even if you find yourself in a pickle, and have to throw a ton of items into the discard pile, Garbodor can’t easily knock out your Darkrais thanks to its Psychic type resistence! Which again, is a great reason to run Fighting Fury Belt with its additional 40 HP. Drampa GX can’t even knock out your Darkrai s without a second turn of attacking thanks to Fighting Fury Belt. And since we only play basic Dark energy, Drampa GX’s Righteous Edge attack isn’t as effective as it’s meant to be in most matchups. The math just works perfectly for Darkrai EX, it can easily deal 120 damage to knock out a Garbodor with a Rainbow Energy attached. And in some situations, Darkrai might get built up quick enough to knock out Trubbish before they ever have time to evolve.
Vespiquen – Even
Without Fighting Fury Belt, this match would be slightly unfavorable, but with the added 40 HP, it’s quite hard for Vespiquen to take one hit knock outs on our attackers. While the have the advantage in prize trade, it helps you in that all of their attackers can easily be knocked out in one hit. And we actually can trade evenly with them for half of the game, attacking with out Yveltal’s Darkness Blade attack. Thanks to both Guzma and Altar of the Moone, the reprocussion of flipping tails with Darkness Blade doesn’t effect us in the slightest, making for a great attacker. And with Exp. Share spread across your benched Pokémon, you don’t have to worry about losing the three Dark energy attached to Yveltal. Missing a Fighting Fury Belt is by far the worst weakness to this matchup, it’s the difference between losing an attacker in one attack, or surviving to attack for a second turn. With their Zoroark’s Mind Jack attack, and a Choice Band, they can easily deal 180 damage if you have yet to attach a Fighting Fury Belt. One great aspect about this matchup is the prize trade, you’re sure to win there!
Greninja – Even
Greninja is a matchup you more or less would rather not run into piloting Darkrai, even with Hex Maniac. But with Greninja’s inherent inconsistencies, and the fact that Darkrai can setup quite quickly with Max Elixirs and Darkrai GX, means this matchup can easily lean in Darkrai’s favor. However, when Greninja gets set up, it’s unstoppable. With a Field Blower, two Giant Water Shurikens, and a Moonlight Slash for 80 damage, a Darkrai EX falls quickly to the feet of the Greninja. Can’t stress it enough, Hex Maniac!
Decidueye Vileplume – Unfavorable
The worst part about this matchup is that pesky Vileplume. (Boy am I glad to see it rotate, and in a way, be illegal for use in expanded.) Items cards are what get this deck moving. A turn one item lock with Irritating Pollen hurts Darkrai more so than any other deck in the format. Unless they set up a lone Vileplume and pass, you might as well scoop as you’re wasting time trying to slowly build up Dark energies on your slowly dying Pokémon. It’s when they whiff the Vileplume setup that the game gets interesting. With the use of items, Darkrai’s an inherently fast deck, and can knock out the first Decidueye GX in just two to three turns. After that, Decidueyes become quite easy to kill thanks to Exp. Share. However, if one of your Pokémon are knocked out by Decidueye’s Feather Arrow ability, Exp. Shares won’t turn on, meaning every Dark energy attached to the freshly knocked out Pokemon just got discarded, hurting your damage output.
Rayquaza – Unfavorable
Even with Guzma and Darkrai GX, the Rayquaza matchup is still brutal. And even with the added HP with Fighting Fury Belt, Mega Rayquaza EX can easily deal 240 damage with a Sky Field in play for a one hit knock out. If Rayquaza wins the coin flip, you can be sure that at the end of their first turn, they’ll have played a Hex Maniac and Mega evolved one of the Rayquaza EXs. And by their second turn, attacking for one hit knock outs. Teching a one of Sudowoodo is worth it in a field of Rayquaza decks, but I don’t see anyone risking the consistency for the possibility of hitting one deck out of a two hundred person pool.
As always, I love playing around with Rayquaza when a new set drops! Whether it’s a good play for worlds or not yet, I’m not sure, but it’s worth taking a look for now! It gains quite a few cards from Burning Shadows, namely Guzma and Acerola, as well as neat cards that I’ll get into down later down the line that aren’t included in this list, like Darkrai GX and Plumeria.
- 3x M Rayquaza EX
- 3x Rayquaza EX
- 4x Shaymin EX
- 2x Hoopa EX
- 2x Dragonite EX
- 1x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Magearna EX
- 1x Sudowoodo
- 2x Hex Maniac
- 3x Professor Sycamore
- 3x N
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 3x Rayquaza Spirit Link
- 1x Float Stone
- 1x Rescue Stretcher
- 3x Mega Turbo
- 1x Field Blower
- 4x Sky Field
- 2x Guzma
- 1x Acerola
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
- 4x Metal Energy
I’ve opted to go with the metal variant since Drampa GX is insanely relevant in this format. The last thing you want is for one of your Double Colorless Energies to get discarded before you can even attack. It also comes in handy against Trubbish’s Acid Spray attack, Froakie’s Bubble attack, and even Lapras GX’s Ice Path GX attack. It’s also a decent attacker, especially in the Gardevoir matchup, knocking it out thanks to Gardevoir’s weakness to Metal type attacks.
Playing a one of Sudowoodo helps in literally every matchup, and since Sky Field allows us to bench up to eight Pokemon, using one of those spots for Sudowoodo is worth slowing your opponent down. It helps in the Zoroark matchup immensely so that they can’t copy M Rayquaza EX’s Emerald Break attack for more than 120 damage at a time. The same applys to the rare mirror match as well.
Before Burning Shadows, the only switching options in standard Rayquaza lists were the two Float Stone. Now, while having “Lysandre” in the deck, we have a switching option. I won’t go deep into examples as to how Guzma can help since it would be the same examples that I used when talking about Volcanion and Darkrai above.
Acerola is one card I have yet to talk about today. In expanded, we play AZ to scoop up any Pokemon we want, when ever we want. Acerola gives us that same effect in standard, though the Pokémon must have damage counters on it in order to use Acerola, it makes up for that “set back” as the cards attached to the Pokémon also get returned to your hand. The reason I’ve enjoyed the addition of Acerola is because the current format is a two hit knock out format. Very rarely will any of your M Rayquaza EXs get knocked out in one hit, so as long as it’s still living, you can use Acerola to completely heal one of your attackers. With M Rayquaza EX’s Ancient Trait, you can then bench that same Rayquaza EX, attach a Rayquaza Spirit Link, mega evolve, attach one of the energies, and Mega Turbo a Metal energy to continue attacking with your newly healed dragon! If you can’t find a Guzma or Float Stone, Acerola can also help if you’ve started a game with an unwanted Pokemon in the active spot, once it’s been attacked that is. One more fun example; in the Garbodor Drampa matchup, if your opponent played a Team Magma’s Secret Base, you can bench a Shaymin EX, use Acerola to scoop up the “damaged” Shaymin, then bench it again to draw even more cards!
Field Blower is a must I feel with Garbotoxin Garbodor still seeing play in Garbodor decks. Though there are many uses you can get out of Field Blower in any given matchup, Garbotoxin is the true reason we include one in this list.
Like I’ve said with other Rayquaza lists, you need a revive effect outside of your Dragonite EXs. Brock’s Grit, Karen, and Super Rod aren’t as good as Rescue Stretcher since it gives you a choice between two options that could come in handy depending on the situation.
Not included in this build, I still feel like talking about it as it’s a neat card that may be worth the consideration. In expanded, Exeggcute’s Propogate ability has always been useful in that it can be Ultra Ball / Computer Search fodder, as well as an easy way to fill up your bench to better reach knock outs with Emerald Break. Darkrai GX can fill in that void that Rayquaza has been missing in standard. Though I don’t see any reason to play Dark energies, using a one of Darkrai GX to fill up bench space to more easily hit those clutch knock outs sounds too good to pass up.
This new Supporter is more of a 65th card I’d consider to run in a Rayquaza list, but still interesting. In the past, we’ve seen Rayquaza lists run a one of Volcanion EX to abuse its Steam Up ability to more quickly get energies into the discard pile so that we could use a Mega Turbo. Plumeria actually sounds a lot more appealing, especially since we’d rather run Magearna EX for its ability. Plumeria allows you to discard two cards from your hand, AND discard an energy attached to one of your opponent’s Pokemon. Using a Plumeria to discard both a basic energy and Darkrai GX, all while discarding one of your opponent’s energies, is the reason Plumeria sounds so good. It can help in both energy acceleration and damage output. I don’t think it’s worth running for worlds, but I’m sure it’ll see use in other decks come September’s rotation.
How’s Them Matchups Looking?
Darkrai – Favorable
Eeasy peasy matchup, unless Darkrai is playing a Hex Maniac or Sudowoodo, Rayquaza tends to have a hay day with this one sided matchup. Even with Darkrai’s Fighting Fury Belts, Rayquaza can take one hit knock out, while Darkrai needs ten to eleven energies in play just to knock out a M Rayquaza EX in one shot, which is quite difficult when Rayquaza continuously getting rid of Exp. Shares and Dark energies.
Volcanion – Slightly Favorable
Like I pointed out earlier, this muchup has gotten closer and closer with time. Now that Volcanion has Kiawe, Ho-oh GX, and Guzma, they can put on a lot of early game pressure, and continuously apply it. Rayquaza still plays Hex Maniac however, which is the key to this matchup. Rayquaza can still easily hit 240 damage without the use of abilities, while Volcanion can’t. Aside from a Hex Maniac of their own, or a tech Sudowoodo, Rayquaza players needn’t worry too much about the Volcanion matchup.
Vespiquen - Slightly Favorable
Vespiquen is sure to see play day one of the World Championships, lucky for us however, most don't play Jolteon. 220 damage is pretty tough for Vespiquen to reach, but Zoroark on the other hand can easily knock out your Mega Rayquazas if you're sloppy about benching too many Pokemon. With Hex Maniac, you can prevent them from ever using Unown, Shaymin EX, Tapu Lele GX, and their pesky little Klefki. Which shouldn't see more than two to three copies of since megas aren't on their threat radar.
Greninja - Even
Like most other matchups, you really want to find as many Hex Maniacs in the late game as possible. Greninja's win condition is to set up two or three Greninja BREAK while using multiple Giant Water Shurikens per turn to take out Rayquazas.Guzma is a sneaky card Greninja can use now, allowing for a possible three Giant Water Shurikens in a single turn! Don't forget though, Greninja is an insanely inconsistent deck, and with Hex Maniac and easy prizes, Rayquaza has a pretty good matchup against Greninja.
Garbodor Drampa - Slightly Unfavorable
Be the smarter player. Obviously, watching the amount of items you play is key to this matchup. But you also have to make sure you bench your Magearna EX so that their Drampa can't discard your Double Colorless Energies, aaand save your Field Blower for when they set up their Garbotoxin Garbodor.
I've been testing quite a few decks leading to the biggest event of the year, and for now only felt like writing about these three. I'd love to discuss the new Gardevoir deck that everyone has been hyping, but the truth is, I don't know much about it, nor the best list to go about testing it/against it as of now. Anyways, whether you're competing at Worlds, playing in the Anaheim Open, or simply just spectating, please come say hey, travel safe, and have fun!
Until next time!
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