Experts' corner

Igor Costa

A look at Volcanion in Standard and Expanded

Igor Costa discusses Volcanion for the Standard and Expanded formats.

01. 10. 2016 by Igor Costa

Hey, it’s Igor here. Thanks for coming back to read another one of my articles. I hope you enjoyed the last one. I’m really excited to compete this season. I think the new 500 CP cap will make it harder for everyone, and especially for European players to get the regular invite since they have less tournaments. Overall, I approve of the change because it was too easy to get 300 points last year, and this will make Worlds a more exclusive tournament.

I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon, in person and on PTCGO. My favorite deck for this season so far has been Volcanion. I won an LC last week in expanded and got 15 points with the deck.

Volcanion is really strong because the deck has a lot of synergy, since baby Volcanion powers up your Pokémon and Volcanion-EX's ability, Steam Up, makes it so you can one-shot any Pokémon-EX in the format.

Lots of people underestimate this deck because they haven’t played it or against it. This seems to be the most consistent deck in the format for standard at the moment.

Before we discuss the Volcanion list, let’s take a look at some decks in the current metagame. The following decks are popular in Standard right now, so I will discuss how Volcanion does against them.

1. Mega Mewtwo/Garb

This is a really close matchup, but I would say that it’s unfavorable since Garb can be such a pain in the ass for Volcanion to deal with. However, Volcanion can easily one shot Mega Mewtwo by only discarding 3 Energy while attacking with Volcanion-EX. This matchup is the reason why Faded Town is in the deck: we can discard only 2 Energy if we have the Stadium in play, dealing 130+60+20 or just enough to knockout that Mega Mewtwo with 210 HP. This makes the matchup actually seem pretty easy since we can one shot everything without too much trouble. When I say this, it’s because Volcanion deals 190 damage with no problem since it’s so easy to have 2 Energy in your hand. However, with Garb on their side, it makes it so the matchup is impossible until you can deal with Garb. Because of this I would aim to take the Garb off of the board, or get early kills on Trubbish with the baby Volcanion. Lysandre is going to be one of the key cards in this matchup. Also, leaving our Volcanion one Energy away from being able to attack makes it so our opponent needs more than 3 Energy on his mega Mewtwo. It’s easy for them to get 3 Energy but it gets harder to get more than that on each Mewtwo.

It’s not a favorable matchup by any means, but it’s still close if Volcanion is able to deal with Garbodor. Other than that, the only way to lose is by dead draw or N.

2. Rayquaza

Rayquaza seems to be Tier 1 at first glance, but there’s something wrong with it. I feel like the deck is able to power up 2 Rayquaza and that’s why Volcanion can beat it. Basically, after the first 2 Rayquaza the deck runs out of steam, unlike Volcanion.
So they are going to take the first KO, unless they start with Shaymin-EX and can’t retreat, so make sure to have a baby Volcanion in the Active spot at the beginning of the game so they won’t take two Prizes. Either that, or make them waste a Lysandre. After attacking with baby Volcanion and powering up a Volcanion-EX or two with help of Max Elixir, it shouldn’t be hard to one shot every Rayquaza, unless they keep using Hex maniac. N will be our go-to Supporter for this game. We are looking for Stadiums to follow up the KO in combination with a N. That play is just game changing against Rayquaza, because it takes so much out of them. It takes Pokémon and Energy off of the field and replaced the Stadium. It’s not hard for them to build an attacker, it’s just hard to attach Energy and keeping refilling the Bench.

In conclusion, Volcanion will fall behind in the beginning, but it’s entirely possible to make a comeback with N and any Stadium. Of course, Parallel City or Silent Lab would be the best Stadiums to counter Rayquaza but we can’t afford to play any of those in this deck because they also hurt Volcanion a lot. If you’re having a hard time with Rayquaza, even with the N and counter Stadium plan, one Enhanced hammer should be enough to prevent the second Rayquaza from attacking by one turn or even the third Rayquaza if need be. I would say the matchup is 60-40 in Volcanion’s favor. If they don’t miss anything, they’ll win but that usually doesn’t happen.

3. Rainbow Road

This matchup is pretty similar to the Rayquaza one, but Xerneas is a non-EX so we’ll be taking one Prize instead of two. The only thing we can take for our advantage here is that our baby Volcanion is able to one shot Xerneas if they don’t have a Fighting Fury Belt on them. The way to do this is to Steam Up three times and attach a Fury Belt to one of our baby Volcanion to deal 20+90+10=120 damage, or just enough. They usually have a bunch of Exp. Share, so don’t worry a lot about Fury Belt since they would rather have the other Tool. Also, killing three Xerneas with DCEs on them makes it really hard for them to get the fourth one. Just don’t let them trade the one prize Xerneas for the two prize Volcanion-EX. Of course, that trade is going to happen no matter what, but it’s best if you force them to make that happen. This means they have to be the ones bringing the Volcanion to the Active position with Lysander, and it’s actually hard to KO multiple Xerneas with baby Volcanion. I would say one is easy, but for the second one, either you use Steam Artillery and a Steam Up or you’re going to have to use a Pokémon-EX.

In conclusion, the matchup is also about 55-45. It’s more manageable for Xerneas to get a follow up attacker than it is for Rayquaza, mostly because of Exp. Share, but Xerneas is way more squishy or easy to KO. Since our non-EX Pokémon can have a lot of value to them, trading a baby Volcanion for a Xerneas is really well worth it. If they hit everything right on time, there’s no way to win, but the best way to go is for fair trades and hope that they’ll run out of attackers.

Other options to consider in this matchup would be countering the Stadium and trying to KO the double types on the Bench. Keep in mind that they usually play their own Volcanion-EX, and Volcanion-EX one shots other Volcanion without any Steam Up because of Weakness given by the dual-type.

4. Scizor-EX/Garbodor

This matchup is so easy, weakness takes care of everything for us!
Baby Volcanion can take a KO on a Pokémon-EX without needing a lot, and that is just devastating for Scizor-EX.

Not having Special Energy in the deck and not caring about discarding some basic ones since we can easily get them back with baby Volcanion really helps us here. Garb effectively does nothing since Volcanion one shots Scizor-EX without any Steam Ups, making it so they don’t have anything going for them against Volcanion. It’s really one sided matchup and Volcanion should win every time.

5. Zoroark/Yveltal

I actually think that the Fright Night Yveltal is one of the best counters to Volcanion. That’s why I’m playing Escape Rope instead of Switch, so that Yveltal can't just lock Volcanion. So in this matchup it’s extra crucial to know what to Bench not only to prevent Zoroark from OHKOing a Volcanion-EX, but also so that your Volcanion don’t get stuck by Yveltal. So I usually don’t Bench more than one/two Volcanion-EX. Usually one won’t die that easily, but it’s always good to have a second attacker. Never Bench more than one Shaymin and baby Volcanion, but try to discard them since Poké Puff is in the format but Target Whistle is no longer in the format.

I feel like this matchup is pretty easy, about a 70-30 or 65-35, since their damage is limited by your Bench and their HP is so low. The only way to lose this is to Bench too much stuff or get stuck with something heavy in the Active spot while baby Yveltal takes easy Prizes. So, try to discard Lysandre as soon as possible so you can make use of the VS Seeker to get them back. Be smart about using Escape Rope so that the attacker doesn’t really matter. Baby Volcanion puts on a lot of pressure and can one shot a Zoroark, so you can take time building your Volcanion-EX.

6. Giratina/Darkrai

This matchup is pretty favorable as well. Volcanion actually one shots Pokémon-EX nonstop once it starts going, so any heavy EX-based deck is gonna have trouble dealing with Volcanion especially if they can’t one-shot it.

Discarding one or two Energy to kill any Pokémon with Volcanion is really easy and effective. The only way they can make it harder is by playing Garb, but that just makes the deck worse against a lot of stuff, and I’m pretty sure they’ll still lose since Volcanion has time to stop OHKOing Pokémon-EX to KO a Garb. DarkTina can’t one shot Volcanion any time soon, and whenever Garb is out of the board you just have to go after the Energy so they’ll never one shot a Volcanion with the new Darkrai. I would say this matchup is 80-20 without Garb and 65-35 with Garb.

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