Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Just a G Thang: Gardevoir and Golisopod in Standard

Zach details Gardevoir-GX, one of the best decks in Standard, and Golisopod-GX, the deck that he just piloted to a Top 32 finish at Hartford, CT Regionals

10/13/2017 by Zach Lesage


Hey 60Cards readers, I am back again and this time I am diving right into the Standard format. Make sure you check out my article fleshing out Darkrai-EX in expanded if you haven't yet! 

I competed in the Hartford, CT Regional Championships this past week, and was able to acheive a very respectable Top 32 finish. Because of this, I feel I am in a position to share some insight about the best decks in the BKT-BUS format. Standard right now is a fairly healthy format with plenty of decks in it, but there are still two top decks right now. Let's start by looking at the most popular: Gardevoir-GX.



Three Gardevoir-GX, One Gallade, Three Kirlia, and Four Ralts

These cards are what the deck is all about because of its limited selection of attackers. Gardevoir-GX is an absolute beast with high HP and a busted Ability in the form of Secret Spring, which allows you to attach a Fairy Energy from your hand to any of your Pokemon in play. Gardevoir-GX doesn't stop there, its attack Infinite Force can basically do infinite damage, and Twilight GX can help you get back your much needed resources in a pinch. Gallade is a neat Pokemon that pairs well with Oranguru to draw one or two (maybe even three) of the top five cards of your deck, or can provide some solid chip damage with its Sensitive Blade attack. The Ralts and Kirlia in this deck have some fair attacks that can provide some assistance in the game, but they are really meant to evolve into their much more powerful counterparts.

Three Tapu Lele-GX

Tapu Lele-GX has really become a staple in every deck in Standard, and this deck really doesn't stray from this trend, as it contains three copies of the card. In this deck, Wonder Tag can search out Professor Sycamore, N, Guzma, Brigette, Acerola, and Skyla, so there are quite a few options to search for on a whim. Tapu Lele-GX can also steal games in combination with Gardevoir-GX's Secret Spring ability by doing quite a bit of damage without having to endanger a Gardevoir-GX in the active spot. This deck unfortuantely doesn't play any Psychic Energy so Tapu Cure GX is not an option, but it may be an interesting tech to personalize your deck list.

Two Alolan Vulpix

I know that quite a few Gardevoir-GX lists don't run this card in favor of Diancie or Sylveon-GX, but I honestly think this is a much better choice. Unless the format switches to a Po Town or a "spread" based format, it is better to play Alolan Vulpix because Beacon requires zero energy! When using Beacon, you often want to search for evolution pieces such as Kirlia or Gardevoir, but you can also search for Tapu Lele-GX if you have a dead hand or if you want to search for a different Supporter. A super interesting plan as I have learned from my fellow Pro-Play Games teammate and testing partner Hunter Butler, is to use Icy Snow with a Choice Band to attack a fire GX Pokemon for 100 damage! 

One Oranguru

Whether you're using Instruct to draw a few cards during a game, or drawing right after your opponent plays N to limit your hand, Oranguru is going to be your go-to Pokemon for draw support! Psychic is also a fairly efficient attack on a single-prize card Pokemon that does some decent damage, especially in mirror.

One Parallel City

You may be wondering where my Sylveon-GX is with the inclusion of Parallel City in this list, and I am going to pretty much respond with “it’s lit”! I usually try to have a stadium card in most of my lists, and in the current Standard format, Parallel City seems to be fairly strong on both sides, depending on your situation. You can limit your opponent’s side of the field to only three Benched Pokemon, which can completely stop them in their tracks when it comes to playing down Pokemon such as Tapu Lele-GX or other important attacking Pokemon. You can also use the other side of Parallel City to reduce damage taken by popular Pokemon in the metagame right now such as Greninja, Volcanion, and Golisopod-GX! The true last use of Parallel City is to reduce your own bench, freeing it of weaker two-prize card Pokemon such as Tapu Lele-GX or damaged Gardevoir-GX.

Four Professor Sycamore and Four N

These two cards are really the main way that we draw cards throughout a game. You really want to use both of these cards wisely because N may allow your opponent to draw some extra cards, or you may just end up discarding useful resources when you play Professor Sycamore. However, don’t view either of these cards negatively! N can instantly turn your opponent's large hand to a single card when they have only one prize card left. Also, Professor Sycamore may be able to draw you the game winning combo, or you may be able to discard some cards that may not be useful throughout the rest of the game.

Three Guzma

Well, if orange is the new black, Guzma is the new Lysandre; this is a staple card in almost every deck in the new Standard format. Guzma combined with a very powerful Pokemon on your side is always guaranteed to bring up a Pokemon you want to take out or at least give a tough time to! With the addition of Guzma, we do not have to run any switching cards in our deck, we already have three in the form of Guzma! 

One Brigette

This is the card that we want to see in our starting hand every game, and if we don't see this card, we would love to see a Tapu Lele-GX or an Ultra Ball to search for a Tapu Lele-GX just to get out a Brigette. This card is so powerful because in a Stage 2-dominant deck, we need our Basic Pokemon as soon as possible so we can use Rare Candy or Kirlia right away. Brigette will usually be used to search out one Alolan Vulpix and two Ralts, though different basics can be grabbed depending on who you start with. The goal with this list is to always have an Alolan Vulpix ready to use Beacon turn one so we can get out our Pokemon quickly.

One Acerola and Two Max Potion

These cards are basically one and the same: they are both for healing our Pokemon when we sense that they are about to be Knocked Out by our opponent! Max Potion should almost always be used when you don’t over-attach energy to a Gardevoir-GX (two or less energy), and Acerola should be used when you have a damaged Gardevoir-GX that you can't afford lose the energy on. Skyla can search out Max Potion in a pinch and Tapu Lele-GX can search out either Acerola or Skyla with relative ease. Feel free to use Acerola as a Switch-type card when you are stuck, or send up a Tapu Lele-GX to take some chip damage and Acerola it back just to use Wonder Tag again!

One Skyla

Skyla is the most versatile Supporter in this deck because it gives you outs to grab multiple cards including Rare Candy, Choice Band, and Max Potion. With seemingly endless cards that you can grab, you will find Skyla saving you quite frequently.

Four Ultra Ball

Similar to N and Professor Sycamore, playing four Ultra Ball seems like a necessary consistency mainstay in the current format. In this deck, Ultra Ball can search for many interesting Pokemon that may further our setup such as Alolan Vulpix, Gallade, Oranguru, or Tapu Lele-GX! It can also grab us pieces of our Gardevoir-GX evolution line, which will allow us to keep our strategy going.

Three Rare Candy

We need a way to get Gardevoir-GX and Gallade up and running very quickly, and Rare Candy is currently the best way to accomplish this! With the deck being based around Brigette and Alolan Vulpix, we can quite often get a few Gardevoir-GX set up on the second turn! If you played back in the yesteryears and are trying get back into the scene, Rare Candy can only be used after the Pokemon you want to Evolve has been out for an entire turn and you can only use it to evolve into stage 2 Pokemon.

Two Field Blower

This card is really our answer to Garbodor BKP shutting off our Secret Spring mid-game, lowering our damage output. I almost want to take the advice of my fellow Pro-Play Games teammate Phinnegan Lynch and run a third in my list, but I personally think two is a great starting point. Field Blower can also be used to get rid of pesky cards such as an opposing Parallel City, a Po Town, or even random Pokemon Tools such as Bursting Balloon. You can also pull off some unique plays with Field Blower, such as discarding your own Choice Band and slapping on a Float Stone or vice versa.

Two Choice Band

This card is as simple as dealing an extra 30 damage to EX/GX Pokemon. Infinite Force's damage is partially dependent on the number of energy your opponent attaches, it is often helpful to slap on a Choice Band to do an extra 30 damage out of nowhere. This trick can either turn otherwise unavailable Knock Outs into OHKOs, or lessen the amount of energy a Gardevoir-GX needs to get a KO, freeing up energy that can then be attached to your other Pokemon.

One Rescue Stretcher and One Super Rod

You may be asking yourself, with Gardevoir-GX having its Twilight GX attack for recovery, why do we need to play an additional two recovery cards? The answer is for the consistency in long games! As I explained about Professor Sycamore, you may have to discard some important Pokemon and/or Energy pieces in order to get your game state going. Without Super Rod and Rescue Stretcher, we would be forced to use Twilight GX very often, which gives our opponent the opportunity to attack our Gardevoir-GX without taking any damage during the turn we use Twilight GX. 

One Float Stone

This is really just meant to help out our first turn retreating aspect in order to get an Alolan Vulpix out as soon as possible. It also has merit late-game because Oranguru can be your “free retreater” for the second half of the game when playing Guzma or when one of your Pokemon get Knocked Out. I have played multiple games where my opponent uses Field Blower to get rid of my Choice Band, and I then was able to retreat to a fresh Gardevoir-GX with Float Stone.

Eight Fairy Energy and Four Double Colourless Energy

Besides being a fairly energy-intensive deck, the split between eight Fairy Energy and four Double Colorless Energy seems like the most correct play in a deck like this. It seems like the correct number to both have enough energy to Retreat turn one into an Alolan Vulpix and hit those impressive OHKOs late game with Gardevoir-GX. If you ever find yourself needing any Double Colorless Energy back at any point, you can use Twilight GX to retrieve them.

The Big Four Match-Ups

As with any format, there are seemingly endless amounts of decks available to play, but there are rarely large amounts of truly viable decks. The below section will contain the most popular decks at this time and the match-ups explained to the best of my ability.

Volcanion-EX (70-30)

This is actually one of our easiest matchups because we have very high HP and Volcanion actually uses quite a bit of Energy to attack. The biggest thing that you need to worry about is that they can get a run away start by using their Volcanion to knock out multiple one-prize card Pokemon while setting up a full board. The match will quickly come to a close once they attack with a Volcanion-EX, requiring three Energy, to which you can quickly respond with three energy on your Gardevoir-GX for an OHKO. The matchup can get somewhat tricky if they use multiple Turtonator-GX, using Bright Flame to discard their Energy! A sneaky play, as explained above, is to attack their water-weak Pokemon with your Alolan Vulpix for 40 damage or you can attach a Choice Band for a whopping 100 damage to their EX/GX Pokemon. As long as you get a decent start, it will be very hard for this deck to get too far.

Greninja BREAK (20-80)

This is one of our hardest matchups because we usually will have to deal with six separate one-prize card attackers. If you thought that was the worst of it, we are also facing ability-lock in the form of Shadow Stitching! That being said, Gardevoir-GX has 230 HP which means we can survive a few Giant Water Shuriken snipes and we might be able to manually attach enough energy to get a few OHKOs. My game plan in this match-up is to use Gallade to do 130 damage to a non-BREAK evolved Greninja for an OHKO while only promoting a single Prize Card attacker in return. Using this strategy, we can also utilize Rescue Stretcher and/or Super Rod to continue our chain of Gallades. While the aforementioned strategy sounds fine, we do need to worry about our opponent evolving into Greninja BREAK to increase their HP and start using Giant Water Shuriken. Overall, we are hoping for our opponent to have a shaky start and for us to have a decent opening - besides that, we just need to hope for the best.

Golisopod-GX (50-50)

This matchup is one of the most back and forth matchups and most of the community is on one side or the other when deciding this matchup. The match usually comes down to getting to a point where you can have a combined seven energy between your Gardevoir-GX and a Golisopod-GX without getting OHKO'd back instantly. In order to get to our win condition, we need to learn to survive a barrage of First Impression attacks while setting up, which requires us to send up sacrifices such as Alolan Vulpix and the occasional Ralts or Kirlia. Once we get ourselves to seven energy, we will try to win the game in three turns to maximize the use of our “big” Gardevoir-GX. The only other thing I would recommend in this match-up is to avoid playing Tapu Lele-GX down to avoid the dreaded Crossing Cut GX with a Choice Band for a rough Knock Out. When in doubt, use Max Potion and Acerola to heal “targeted” Pokemon to stay in the game longer.

Gardevoir-GX (50-50)

With this being a mirror match, you are usually going to either experience a game of outwitting your opponent or a game that falls flat on one side or the other based off of luck. My goal in this matchup is to set up very quickly with an Alolan Vulpix and continue to promote single Prize Card attackers to an odd amount of prize cards. Some players will only try to only sacrifice one single prize card attacker, but I often find myself sacrificing three of them to really dig deep into those opposing Gardevoir-GX. I also find Oranguru to be a fairly efficient attacker because of the “endless” energy requirement of Infinite Force - you can sometimes stop an overpowered Gardevoir-GX with just an Oranguru. Overall, keep your energy limited by only attacking with a minimal Infinite Force and you should be fine because you can then freely heal with Max Potion or Acerola.


Four Golisopod-GX and Four Wimpod

These are our attackers in almost any matchup and Goliopod-GX will be the main Pokemon taking all six Prize Cards. Golisopod-GX is a fairly simple Pokemon with high HP, requires minimal Energy to use its attacks, and it has three versatile attacks to choose from. First Impression is an extremely speedy attack that requires almost no effort to set up and can quickly inflict 120 damage or 150 damage with a Choice Band. At a first glance, First Impression may seem like a tough attack to continuously use, but we do have two free-retreating Tapu Koko, four Float Stone, four Guzma, and four Acerola we can use to continuously try to beat down our opponent. Armor Press is a great mid-game attack that can allow you to withstand otherwise unbearable blows and only requires a Double Colourless Energy if you have already attached a Grass Energy to use First Impression. Crossing Cut GX is a saving grace to potentially hide a Golisopod-GX from an opposing Knock Out, and it has the power to Knock Out popular Pokemon such as Tapu Lele-GX if you attach a Choice Band. Wimpod is really just the Pokemon to evolve into a Golisopod-GX, but it does have free Retreat on the first turn of the game which is a great addition to our deck.

One Gumshoos-GX and One Yungoos

This is really where we become different from the more popular Golisopod-GX/Garbodor variant of the deck and I personally adore this addition. Gumshoos-GX can be an absolute monster versus Pokemon such as Gardevoir-GX or Ho-Oh-GX with it’s Gumshoe Chance GX attack. For example, you can start the game off with a Brigette for a Wimpod, Wimpod, and a Yungoos and pass. Next turn, your opponent decides to use Kiawe onto their Benched Ho-Oh-GX and attach four Fire Energy to it. You can now evolve into a Gumshoos-GX, attach either a Grass Energy or a Double Colourless Energy, play Guzma, and use Gumshoe Chance GX for a whopping 210 damage for an OHKO! Gardevoir-GX is in the exact same boat when your opponent decides to attach four Energy because you can OHKO it with a Choice Band, or even without anything extra if they ever power up a Gardevoir-GX with five energy! Search the Premises is also a super-interesting ability because it allows you to take the guessing game out of the equation and properly play according to what your opponent is holding in their hand. 

One Octillery and One Remoraid

Octillery is really meant to draw cards to keep the deck consistent throughout the game. Sometimes it will be in your prize cards, or you will have to discard either a Remoraid or an Octillery, but you can always get them back with your copy of Rescue Stretcher. You also can use Ion Pool on Remoraid to discard an opposing Po Town or Parallel City. I quite often slap a Float Stone on Octillery due to its higher Retreat Cost in order to ensure it doesn't get stuck active..

Three Tapu Lele-GX

Tapu Lele-GX has really become a staple in every deck in Standard and this deck really doesn't stray from this trend with three copies of it in the deck. In this deck, Wonder Tag can search out Professor Sycamore, N, Guzma, Brigette, and Acerola so there are quite a few options to search for on a whim. Tapu Lele-GX can also become a strong attacker against Pokemon who you have previously used First Impression against or perhaps an opposing Tapu Lele-GX that has quite a few energy attached to it. In most games, Tapu Lele-GX will be used to search out a Brigette turn one to set up and can grab your much needed Guzma or Acerola to keep First Impression at its maximum damage output.

Two Tapu Koko

Tapu Koko is a fantastic Pokemon in this deck because you can always Guzma into it knowing it has free Retreat! Flying Flip can also put Pokemon into the range of getting OHKOd by either First Impression or Crossing Cut GX with or without using a Choice Band. A little known fact is that Flying Flip can hit Ho-Oh-GX for 100 damage when you attach a Choice Band to Tapu Koko because of Weakness.

One Oranguru

Oranguru is a simple draw support Pokemon for the late game, but can also become one of your only attackers against Alolan Ninetales with Luminous Barrier. Similar to Octillery, this is another Pokemon I try to out a Float Stone on due to it's hevay Retreat Cost!

Four Professor Sycamore and Four N

These two cards are really the main way that we draw cards throughout the game. You really want to use both of these cards wisely because N may allow your opponent to draw some extra cards or you may just end up discarding useful resources when you play Professor Sycamore. However, don’t view either of these cards negatively! N can instantly turn your opponents large hand to a single card when they have only one Prize Card left. Professor Sycamore may be able to draw you the game winning combo or you may be able to discard some cards that may not be useful throughout the rest of the game.

Four Guzma and Four Acerola

I think that these are the two most influential non-draw Supporters in the game right now, and Golisopod-GX truly pairs the best with them. Guzma is really the new Lysandre in Standard, but it also allows us to use First Impression multiple times in a game! Acerola plays a similar role in this deck as Guzma, but it also gives us the option to heal our tank Golisopod-GX multiple times throughout the game. Between bringing up whichever threat we want to do damage to and healing our bulky Golisopod-GX, both of these cards are set to see some action in most of your games.

One Brigette

This is our most ideal Supporter on the first turn of the game because it allows us to evolve our Pokemon on the following turn. In most cases, depending on what you start with, you want your field to include two Wimpod, one Remoraid, and one Tapu Koko. If you are facing a deck that accelerates a bunch of energy to a single Pokemon such as Gardevoir-GX or Ho-Oh-GX, Yungoos would also be a great addition to a turn one search.

Four Ultra Ball and One Heavy Ball

Similar to N and Professor Sycamore, playing four Ultra Ball seems like a necessary consistency mainstay in our current Standard format. With us playing Oranguru and Octillery, it is also possible for us to clear unneeded cards in order to draw more cards if necessary. Heavy Ball is really our fifth Ultra Ball in this deck because it can search out eight of our Pokemon: any of our Wimpod or any of our Golisopod-GX, without discarding any cards at all!

Three Choice Band

This card allows us to hit some otherwise unreachable numbers, allowing us to get crucial OHKOs or 2HKOs. At first glance, this card seems to pair fantastically with Crossing Cut GX to OHKO many basic Pokemon-GX, but it can also pair extremely well with First Impression following a Flying Flip to total 170 damage! Basically, we want to do as much damage as possible and since we are in a Pokemon-GX dominated metagame, it is a no-brainer inclusion to this deck.

One Rescue Stretcher

As somewhat explained before, this card is really meant to fetch a single Pokemon you were forced to discard with a Professor Sycamore or an Ultra Ball or to shuffle back multiple Pokemon if your opponent knocked out something important. Rescue Stretcher can also be used late game to avoid decking out by shuffling cards back into the deck.

One Field Blower

If you ever are under lock by Garbodor’s Garbotoxin, or if you see a Choice Band that seems a little scary, this is when you really want to get rid of them by using Field Blower. I have since updated my personal deck list since Hartford to include two copies of Field Blower (I took out a Float Stone) because of the amount of Pokemon Tools and Stadiums trending right now.

Seven Grass Energy and Four Double Colourless Energy

I feel like this is a fair amount of Energy in a deck that requires only one to three Energy for any of the attacks in the deck. I have gone back and forth on wanting to cut a Grass Energy for an assortment of techs since Hartford, but it is painful to miss a First Impression on your second turn.

The Big Four Match-Ups

As with any format, there are seemingly endless amounts of decks available to play, but there are rarely large amounts of truly viable decks. This below section will contain the most popular decks at this current time and the match-ups explained to the best of my ability.

Volcanion-EX (30-70)

This is probably the hardest matchup for the deck because of the type advantage that Volcanion-EX holds over you and the unmatched speed of this deck! When you play against Fire-typed decks, you almost want to play as if you are using a Tapu Lele-GX, Tapu Koko, Oranguru, and Gumshoos-GX deck because those Pokemon are much harder to OHKO! My general game plan is to use Flying Flip two to three times in a row after using a Guzma to hopefully keep a Pokemon with a high retreat cost up in the active position. This allows us to use Energy Drive to do the remaining damage required to knock out their EX/GX attackers, to try to keep up with the prize trade. I also try to have a Wimpod with a Grass Energy attached to it on the Bench so I can always bounce back into a game with a surprise Crossing Cut GX. Sometimes the game will come down to them taking a huge lead or always having an answer to your Guzma/Flying Flip play so don’t sweat this matchup too much.

Greninja BREAK (80-20)

Similar to the above Fire-type match-up above, this is really a game where you can pick off all of their Pokemon due to their Weakness to Grass-type! It will often be quite hard for them to set up Greninja BREAK because of your dominance during the first three turns of the game. You will mostly be using First Impression early game, but using Armor Press requires less resources mid-game! As long as you get a half-decent hand, this matchup can mostly be deemed an "auto-win."

Gardevoir-GX (50-50)

This is a game that is usually a grind of you needing to OHKO two single prize card Pokemon such as Alolan Vulpix and Ralts, a Tapu Lele-GX, and a Gardevoir-GX. The main thing that you need to prevent is your opponent getting a Gardevoir-GX set up with the ability to do 210 damage to one of your Golisopod-GX for an OHKO! As explained before, Gumshoos-GX can also be a strong counter-measure to them attaching a bunch of Energy to a single Gardevoir-GX because you can threaten to OHKO them right away. If they only do chip damage to try and 2HKO a Golisopod-GX, you can always use Acerola to completely heal and get back to swinging for some more damage. I would extremely caution against attaching a Double Colourless Energy to a Golisopod-GX, except when using Crossing Cut GX. I would also advise against trying to attach anything more than a Grass Energy to a Tapu Lele-GX to avoid getting OHKOd.

Mirror (50-50)

This 50-50 matchup is probably based more on the variant of the deck, and my variant has more room because we don’t play a glorified 3-3 line of Garbodor, which means we have more space for Guzma and Acerola. This game is basically a long back and forth game of First Impression, Acerola, etc. on both sides until someone runs out of Acerola or can’t return an attack. Our version of the deck should be slightly more consistent with its Octillery line and the extra space for more Acerola, so we should often come out on top. It is often more worthwhile to attack an opposing Golisopod-GX than a Wimpod because you can get forced into drawing other meaningless prize cards while getting pummelled by an opposing Golisopod-GX! However, it is advisable to try and OHKO Wimpod with any Energy attached earlier game when they aren’t evolved because it can take away their option to Acerola a Golisopod-GX if they can’t evolve a Wimpod back in the same turn. Overall, try to stay conservative with your resources such as Acerola and Guzma and you should be fairly ok in this match-up!


I hope that all of our 60Cards members have enjoyed my take on two of the most powerful decks in the Standard format. I am personally excited to see the results of all upcoming tournaments and hopefully I will continue to ride the wave on top of the competitive spectrum. I wish everyone the best of luck who is living out their dream trying to compete for a World Championship invite or for those who are loving and supporting the game from a casual standpoint.

I will see everyone at the London International Championships, if you haven’t met me in person or if we have just briefly met, feel free to actually introduce yourself to me, because I love getting to know people. Thank you for all of the support, I truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my articles and for supporting 60Cards.

-Zach Lesage

[+12] okko


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