Experts' corner

Igor Costa

A Look at Standard: Analyzing Giratina/Bronzong

Igor Costa analyzes his favorite deck in the Standard format right now and discusses its matchups with other potential top decks in the format.

10/13/2015 by Igor Costa


Hello, 60cards readers! My name is Igor Costa. Some of you may know me from my 2012 Worlds win, but for those who don't, I will introduce myself before I get started talking about the format. 

I started playing in 2008 in my hometown of Lisbon, Portugal. During my time playing, I have achieved four Nationals wins, a Second Place, and a Third Place, and I've never missed a top in Portugal. I have also placed Second and Third at Worlds in the past four years in addition to my win. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to share my thoughts with all of you since I believe I’m a very careful player who likes to have an advantage in the metagame.

Before I begin my main analysis, I want to talk about the format differences between the U.S./Canada and Europe. Portugal, along with the rest of Europe, will be playing this season in Standard format, even though North America is playing Expanded. This means we have a much smaller card pool to choose from. I think that there are pros and cons to playing in Standard. There are fewer options as far as deckbuilding goes, but truthfully, I don't see this as much of an issue. Even without the added cards from Black & White, there are a healthy amount of viable decks in the format. Tons and tons of different decks aren't needed to make a format healthy, and too much randomness can even detract from the play environment.


A downfall of playing the Expanded format is, of course, the extra cost, as it requires players to have more cards, some of which may be difficult for new players to obtain. Another disadvantage that Expanded brings to players in North America is that they will have less opportunity to practice Standard, which is the format that Nationals and Worlds will be in. We will see how each format develops as the season progresses!

Deck Discussion

So as a jumping off point, I want to talk about a deck that I built recently. I think that this deck fits the format very well, and for me is one of the best options at the moment. The deck focuses on using a variety of attackers that can all be powered up by Bronzong. Let’s take a look at the list.

When I built this deck originally, it was supposed to be focused around Giratina-EX. I felt that Giratina needed some form of Energy acceleration, so in addition to Double Dragon Energy, I included the thin Bronzong line. That seemed to be working well, so since I was already playing Metal, I added the Aegislash. My thought process was that the deck had space, so why not? Also, Aegislash is yet another difficult Pokemon to deal with that a lot of decks have to simply play around. The deck still needed an option to increase its raw damage output, and since Lugia can easily be included, he found his way in. This lets the deck do more damage than the typical 120, which can be very useful in certain situations.

The reason I wanted to focus on building a deck that uses Giratina is because I am very interested in the card. I want to figure out its full potential and what the best deck to play it in is. Giratina just does so much all in one card: it blocks damage from Megas and locks Stadiums, Tools, and Special Energy. Also, it really only needs two Energy attachments to do 100 damage. That’s really powerful! However, I feel that the Vileplume and Toad versions of the deck lose to Aegislash, so I wanted to find a better solution.

There are some free spaces in this list, so you can fill the remaining spots with cards that will give you an advantage in your meta. Here are a couple options:


Hoopa-EX: Hoopa is a good tech. It helps to get all the Pokémon-EX you need at the beginning of the game, and a lot of Metal lists are playing this card. I don't believe it is a must in the deck, because you only want it to start off the game, and it becomes largely useless after that and is only used for discard fodder. One thing it can be used for late game is filling your hand with Shaymin to avoid getting into a dead-draw type of situation.

Seismitoad-EX: Again, many Metal lists include at least one copy of this card. The reason I don’t have it in my list is because I feel that it’s only good early game, and it’s generally not worth attacking with for more than one or two turns. Since the deck isn’t entirely focused on Seismitoad, it can be cut for other, more consistently useful cards.

Faded Town: There were two Stadiums that caught my attention for this deck. The first one is Sky Field, and that is the one I chose to include in the list. Sky Field lets you fill your Bench with as many Shaymin and Bronzong as you need, and even if they counter it through Chaos Wheel, you can just discard the Shaymin or damaged Pokémon to make it harder for your opponent to take Prizes. Another option is Faded Town to do extra damage to Megas, but since they can’t even attack Giratina I think this is the inferior option. However, it may help against Sceptile decks.

Pokémon Center Lady: I have one copy in this version of the list because I believe it is a must. It really helps against Manectric and Sceptile decks, and even against other Aegislash. Using Center Lady at the right time can set your opponent back an entire turn. For this reason, you could increase the count to two.

Heatran: Some Metal decks play multiple copies of this card, and it can be very useful. It gives a solution against Regice decks, which prevents Pokémon-EX from attacking.

Consistency cards: If you prefer consistency over techs, there are a couple of options even in Standard. Trainers' Mail adds a great deal of consistency to any deck. Less popular options that still have merit include Teammates and Ace Trainer, which can help get specific combos or disrupt your opponent since N is no longer in the format.

Matchup Discussion

Let’s take a look at other popular standard decks at this moment as I explain how to play against them.

This deck is simular to other Mega Manectric decks, where you want to build a Mega Manectric, power up another one, and start powering up your techs. Regice is one of his best partners since he can shut down some popular decks that focus on Pokémon-EX, and not all of them have an answer for it, so it's a very popular tech.

This is not a good matchup at all, but I still believe it could be slightly in our favor. We still have answers for this Manectric deck. Giratina easily deals with the Mega because of his Ability. But what about Regice? Pokémon-EX can’t attack it, so what do you do? As we discussed before, Heatran can be included, or you can simply use Bronzong’s attack for 120 damage after Weakness. The worst thing to deal with is Manectric-EX before it becomes a Mega, but f you can keep Tools off of your Pokémon and focus on only using Giratina, they can only deal 60 damage at a time, which can even be healed by Center Lady.

This one is not that popular since it's easy to counter it. This deck is supposed to lock your opponent with Vileplume and Giratina, making it difficult to them to set up, plus I added two Regice since you have some free space for Basic Energy and there's no point in playing Grass since you would still need the Double Dragon to use Giratina, so it’s another option to block your opponent if you can. 

Special Energy are a big deal nowadays, so Enhanced Hammer is a great counter against not only this deck but so many others. Aegislash pretty much ensures that you have an autowin against this deck, as Giratina will always need the Double Dragon Energy to attack with this list. You also have Lugia to deal with a four-Energy Giratina if necessary. There isn’t too much to say about this matchup. I feel it is very easy because they will have a hard time dealing damage to your attackers.

Another deck that is pretty popular and cheap at the same time is Vespiquen. Last year we saw something similar with the Vengeance Flareon deck. It's actually a fine deck since it's fast and can deal a lot of damage. The worst problem is Giratina and Aegislash, but that’s why you have Blacksmith to power up Vespiquen by using Flareons Ability, since its easy to discard Energy (or any other card) in this deck. I also add a Hex Maniac so you can shut off Item-lock for a turn so you can get all the Pokémon you need into your discard pile. Just make sure you can have it at the right time or it will be just a waste of space.

So this deck just came out and it's like Manectric: you build your Mega Sceptile and power up your Benched Pokémon. The thing is that sceptile also heals your Pokémon when you attach from his attack, so I would only attach one Energy with it instead of two so you can use the healing effect more often. Floette also gives you that extra HP so some decks need to three-shot you and you have enough time to Retreat and heal. Virizion is there for Regice mostly, since it can do 120. Also, I play Escape Ropes because of Regice because if I play Escape Rope then Lysandre, I can reset the effects of Resistance Blizzard, allowing Mega Sceptile to hit for 110, and Ariados' Poison finishes the job.

But it's harder for Mega Sceptile to do his job than Mega Manectric since you need the Energy in your hand, so that’s why you have Professor’s Letter and Energy Retrieval. Hex Maniac can also ruin your plans with the HP count, so watch out for that.

This matchup is not that easy. It’s kind of hard, actually, but you still have some answers. The matchup is focused on 2HKOs, so Center Lady or AZ will really help you. Lugia can also be helpful; I would also add a Hex Maniac for it to surprise-KO through Floette’s Ability, but since they also play it, you can try to turn the matchup in an old-school "Mewtwo war". That's your best bet in my opinion, but I wouldn’t expect a ton of Sceptile. Just be prepared in case you do see it.

This deck isn’t new at all; Rayquaza is a huge card that can deal a lot of damage, and very easily with all these cards like Mega Turbo, Unown, Shaymin, Trainers' Mail, Acro Bike, and Battle Compressor. You just need to have Pokémon to fill your Bench to do up to 240 damage, enough to one-shot any Pokémon in the game (except Wailord-EX). But this deck isn’t that popular since Giratina and Aegislash plus Regice shut it down really hard. You can still try to play around those things with Lysandre, but it's not that easy. However, there's also the speed factor since this deck can OHKO something on turn one.

So, since our deck struggles with Aegislash and Hammers, as I mentioned before, let’s take a look at a deck that plays those cards. In my opinion, this is an autowin as they can’t use Mega Rayquaza against Giratina-EX, so they're left with regular Rayquaza. Since they cannot attach Special Energy or play Mega Turbo because it's not a Mega they'll need three turns to power it up, and by that time, you should be able to destroy their setup. 

This one is not focused on speed but consistency since you play Bronzong, so you don’t run out of Energy and Heatran so you have an answer to Regice and Aegislash, and it’s a perfect answer to giratina. This deck is very strong because it has a bit of everything. It's fast, like a turn two threat, consistent, and can also stall with Aegislash, so look out for this deck too.

This version is a lot harder to beat since they have answers for us. They have Energy acceleration with Bronzong and Aegislash to deny your Giratina, so they are free to use Mega Rayquaza. I thought about a counter in Silent Lab, but since it also shuts off Giratina’s Ability, they could use Mega Rayquaza. Hex Maniac is also an option, but it has the same drawback. The best way to deal with this is to play around their Energy. Try to start with either Giratina or Aegislash so you can buy some time, and if your opponent goes with Aegislash, they will need three Basic Metal Energy to attack yours. They usually play six, and if they attach to Rayquaza or other Pokemon, running them out is probably your best shot.

This is like the deck we saw at Worlds, but without Hypnotoxic Laser, of course. It's fast, can one-shot with Manectric, Muscle Band, and Bats, and it's also disruptive with Head Ringer, Xerosic, Enhanced Hammer, Hex Maniac, Silent Lab, and even the most annoying card so far, Seismitoad-EX and even Super Scoop Up to deny KOs. This deck has a lot of synergy, I feel. Of course the Lasers would also help but since we can't play them, it's okay.

There are differing opinions on this, but I always play this Crobat line. Your perfect field is Crobat, Golbat, Zubat, so that if you pick up Crobat with either AZ or SSU, you can just play them all right back down. I also prefer Birch over Shauna for the following reason. Let’s assume you are looking for a specific card. When you play either Supporter, you will either get it or you won’t. If you do get it in four cards, why not flip a coin for a chance to get more cards? And if you don't get the card you want in only four cards, the odds of it being the very next card are a lot lower than 50%. Therefore, if you take this into account, you actually have a higher chance of drawing the card you need with Birch, even with the coin flip.

This is another slightly bad match up. The strategy against this deck is the same, as you don't really have an answer for regular Manectric-EX, and they probably play Enhanced Hammer. Manectric can OHKO Lugia, and Giratina is too slow to deal with it, so I’ll say try to go with Giratina either way. You don't need to play Muscle Bands down, and if you avoid Head Ringers until you lock the Tools, you will be fine. Center Lady can help you a lot in this matchup. I don't really know what else you can do; Toad probably is a good card to start with if you decide to play it so you can deny Hammers and Head Ringers, so try it out if you think this deck will be popular.

Mega Decks and Hex Maniac

I’m not going to include specific decklists for every deck that uses Megas, such as Groudon, Kyogre, and Ampharos, because I don’t think that they are particularly good right now. You have many obvious answers to these decks, the main one being Giratina-EX. The only thing these decks can do to counter Giratina is to play Hex Maniac. However, if they do, they usually still need to 2HKO Giratina, so they will need to use two Hex Maniacs for every Giratina, and this just isn’t a reliable strategy to win the matchup. It’s the same as going for Lysandre to play around it, and we all know that doesn’t usually happen.

While I have been playing this deck online quite a bit, a friend of mine actually played it at a tournament in Portugal recently. I wasn’t in attendance, but he used the list to get First Place. He told me a little bit about his rounds, which I will recount here.

Round 1: Mega Manectric/Bats: WW

Round 2: Mega Manectric/Regice/Lugia: WLW

Round 3: Mega Groudon: WW

Round 4: Mienshao: WW

Round 5: ID

Top 4: Mega Manectric/Bats: WW

Finals: Mega Manectric/Regice/Lugia: WLW


My goals for this season are pretty much the same as last year: I will try to get Top 22 in Europe so I can guarantee Day 2 at Worlds. I will also attend some tournaments in the U.S. and Europe to make it easier for me. I'm also thinking about streaming. I don’t usually write reports from my tournaments, but I can, so let me know if you guys would like it. However, I'd rather talk about my opinions on the format and deck analysis since deck choice and deck list choice is a big deal in my opinion, and there's always something you can do to improve some matchups, even if you have to play your deck in a very different way than it's supposed to be played, and since the game is growing so much, I hope I can help with some new ideas

That’s about all I have for this time. I am really looking forward to this coming season, and hopefully you all are too. Let me know what you think about my article, and I’ll see you next time!


[+23] okko


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