Experts' corner

Ryan Sabelhaus

"Searching Through Muddy Water" -- Look at Two Rogue Decks with Dragon Majesty Out

Ryan takes a look at two rogue deck ideas for the current Standard format, which are Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX/Victini Prism Star and Lapras-GX/Quagsire.

10/03/2018 by Ryan Sabelhaus


What’s going on, 60cards readers?! I’m back with another article and excited to talk about some more Pokémon with you guys. So, in the last article, we discussed Zoroark-GX/Banette-GX and its place in the current metagame. Since that concept already has gotten some coverage and has done well at a large Regional Championship, let’s make this article a little more rogue and talk about a lesser known deck that has some good matchups in the current Standard format. For this article, let’s talk about a concept that won the Wakefield League Cup and was played by Joe Bernard, which is his Lapras-GX/Quagsire deck. When I first heard about this deck, I thought it was a joke and could never stand up against the stronger decks in the Standard format, like Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX or Buzzwole/Shrine. After testing some games, I feel this deck is actually the real deal and can pull of some amazing plays to win games. Major props to Joe for thinking of such a cool and original concept to play in a League Cup. Like I discussed in my last article, this format is all about putting creativity into deckbuilding and making new ideas turn into wins, which is exactly what Joe has done with Lapras-GX/Quagsire.

To go along with discussing this new rogue deck idea, I’d like to add in discussion of another rogue deck that could do well in the current Standard format, which is Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX. While it may not be talked about, Ho-Oh-GX performed decently well at the Philadelphia Regional Championships. Two of the decks that moved into the second day of competition were Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX and they were both unique builds that show this deck has plenty of room for creativity. I feel as though many people in this game are not satisfied with the current format and believe it to be stale. In my opinion, there are many decks that could perform well at major tournaments that need to be explored! The format doesn’t have to be stale unless you choose to pick up another Buzzwole/Shrine deck to bring to every single tournament going forward and join the rest of the community that is conforming. It surely is a good deck that can perform well, but this current standard format is new and many ideas are undiscovered. With this article, I’m hoping to put out some new ideas for everybody in the community that reads this, get the brain waves moving in terms of building some new deck ideas, and just to promote players in to having fun with the game again! Let’s get into the article!

Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX/Victini Prism

Here is the deck list we are going to examine, follwed by an analysis, and a discussion of the deck's strengths and weaknesses. 


When trying to build a list for this deck, I figured that the best idea would be to look at the recent builds that have performed well. The two decks that did well at the Philadelphia Regional Championships and both moved into the 2nd day of competition were piloted by Anthony Bruno and James Dorsey. Anthony Bruno played a version of Ho-Oh that was based purely on consistency and had maxed out copies of every important card in the deck. He played 4 copies of: Ho-Oh-GX, Tapu Lele-GX, Cynthia, Guzma, Kiawe, Ultra Ball, and Nest Ball. Anthony finished in 51st place at Philadelphia Regionals when everything was said and done.

The other Ho-Oh-GX deck was played by James Dorsey and focused completely on disruption. James did not play an extremely consistent list, but instead played 2 Marshadow SLG to disrupt an enemy’s hand while Ho-Oh could completely run them over. Interestingly enough, James also didn’t play any Choice Band and focused on adding damage through playing 3 Po Town. While this concept may seem like a good idea on paper, as the added 30 damage can help to knockout a Zoroark-GX with Ho-Oh’s main attack, many decks are also playing larger amounts of Stadium cards so the added 30 damage may not even get placed down. With no other way of adding damage, this deck can’t hit for one-shot knockouts and won’t be able to compete with some of the main decks in the format that are based around Zoroark-GX.

From these two decks that did well, I began to test with Ho-Oh-GX and started forming a list that has been working well for me. With the addition of Dragon Majesty, another attacker has also been added to the deck as a clean-up hitter in Victini Prism Star. To summarize how this deck works for anyone that may not be aware, the main point of the deck is to use a Kiawe to attach 4 Fire energy cards to a Ho-Oh-GX on the first turn of the game. Afterwards, you begin to Phoenix Burn anything in your path and take as many prize cards as possible before you run out of steam. When you inevitably start slowing down, you can then switch to attacking with a Salazzle-GX that has increased attacking for every prize card that you have already taken for just 2 Fire energy. The other option when running out of steam is to send up a Turtonator-GX and use Nitro Tank-GX to fill your board with energy cards to sustain attacks for the rest of the game. The deck is fast, simple, and straight to the point with attack after attack being done to draw prizes as quickly as possible and just show aggression before an opponent can get setup.

Let’s go over some of the card choices included in this Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX/Victini Prism deck:

4 Ho-Oh-GX: The main attacker for the deck. To be as consistent as possible, we need to have as many of our main attacker as we can put in the build. Playing 4 Ho-Oh also assures that we have a target to use Kiawe on for the first turn of the game, as having a dead turn in the opening of games is terrible for this deck. Early aggression isn’t possible without our attackers being in play.

2-2 Salazzle-GX: Our secondary attacker for the deck that helps to sweep in the late stages. Since we don’t need Salazzle-GX out until later in the game, we play a much smaller line and assume that we will draw into the pieces throughout the game. People truly underestimate how strong Salazzle-GX can be in the mid-late game stretch, as it can one-shot Tapu Lele-GX’s with a Choice Band after just 3 prize cards are taken. When in a pinch, also don’t forget that Salazzle-GX has a useful GX attack against enemies that are trying to build energy on their board. Against opposing Rayquaza-GX decks that are running low on energies, a Queen’s Haze GX can come in handy to slow down an opponent for multiple turns.

4 Tapu Lele-GX: Since hitting a Kiawe on the first turn of the game is all but a necessity for this deck to function at optimum efficiency, there might as well be a maxed-out number of cards that can search for a Kiawe. This deck doesn’t usually struggle with bench space so a couple of Tapu Lele-GX on the bench won’t be too detrimental, especially if opponents will be dealing with too much aggression to capitalize on attacking these Pokémon anyways.

1 Turtonator-GX: As discussed earlier, Turtonator-GX is great at replenishing energy later in the game to close out a win. Aside from that, Turtonator is also a great target to use Kiawe on during the first couple of turns and can be a great replacement attacker against any decks that focus on Lightning attackers to knock out our Ho-Oh-GX’s.

1 Victini Prism Star: One thing that this deck was missing was a great single prize attacker to help play the seven-prize game, as all our attackers are Pokémon-GX and make taking prizes easy for our opponents. With Victini in the mix, we now have a great late-game attacker to force our opponents to use a Guzma to take optimal prizes later in the game. With using a deck that focuses on attackers that need 4 energy to attack, Victini also helps with a great strategy that is now included in this deck. If our opponents don’t use a Field Blower and we get to use our Wishful Batons, then we have no issue with keeping attackers going and should be fine throughout the game. If our opponents use Field Blower to knock off our Wishful Batons, then all those energies will hit the discard pile and fuel our Victini’s attack. Victini is basically our insurance policy against any opponent that keeps hitting Field Blower to discard our Wishful Batons throughout the game, which has always been a problem with this deck.

4 Cynthia / 4 Guzma / 4 Kiawe: Like the thinking of Anthony Bruno, we are playing maximum copies of our best supporters to assure that our game plan works. With 4 Kiawe and 4 Tapu Lele-GX, along with Ultra Balls to find them and Acro Bikes to help draw, we should have no issues with hitting a turn one or turn two Kiawe to one of our main attackers. After that first Kiawe, we play max copies of Cynthia to help draw through our deck and max copies of Guzma to target down any threats on the bench. Guzma also provides a way to reset our Ho-Oh onto the bench, which will allow it to use Phoenix Burn for two turns in a row.

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