The BIG LostGar Article

So the big story associated with the release of Call of Legends (outside of how generally poor it was as a set for players) was the impending release of the stadium card Lost World. It had been hyped up as a major player in Japan, winning numerous events, and mechanically, the card reads incredibly busted. For the uninformed, here is Lost World:

Once during each player’s turn, if that player’s opponent has 6 or more Pokémon in the Lost Zone, the player may choose to win the game.

PokeGym

Needless to say, from a game play perspective, the card feels very much like cheating. All it requires is for you to force 6 different Pokémon into the opponent’s Lost Zone.

This is, theoretically, much easier than killing 6 Pokémon. You don’t discriminate with hit points. You don’t get stuck having to score 2, or 3 hit kills. You don’t have to worry about them healing their Pokémon. You simply send the card to the Lost Zone, and are done with it.

It effectively lets you bypass the concept of hit points entirely. Theoretically, you should be able to outrace the other players bid for 6 prizes rather comfortably.

Clearly, everyone’s first thought when reading this card was Gengar Prime. Coupled with an impressive 130 hit points, Gengar’s Poké-Body is synergistic but underwhelming and less practical than it may read. When it is active, whenever the a Pokémon your opponent controls is knocked out, it gets sent to the Lost World instead.

This means one of two things needs to happen. Either Gengar needs to score a kill with its “Cursed Drop” attack, or you need to “cheat” and use attacks which let you hit and run, enabling you to switch into Gengar Prime.

Cursed Drop costs 2 energy, a Psychic and a Colorless, and lets you place 4 damage counters, as desired, amongst your opponent’s Pokémon. This isn’t necessarily a bad attack, but it is one that fundamentally betrays the deck’s purpose.

The appeal and allure of a Lost World deck is that you get to cheat the system by theoretically getting a “kill” a turn, but Lost Zoning a Pokémon every turn. The second your game plan abandons that clock, you have to ask yourself: “Why am I going through all of the trouble to win in a contrived way if I’m not really outracing the conventional win condition?”

If you get to a point where you need to start using Cursed Drop to slowly place Pokémon in the Lost Zone, you are in trouble. The attack walks into Seekers, and Poké Turn, and any number of effects which offer to remove the damage done before there are any actual returns on the invested attack.

PokeGymThat isn’t to say that Cursed Drop is a bad attack, or that it shouldn’t be used. Merely that it should always be looked at as an already attached Plan B (or more accurately, Plan C or worse).

The big attack, on the other hand, is Gengar Prime’s “Hurl Into Darkness,” which, for a Psychic Energy, lets you look at your’s opponents hand and grab a Pokémon from it for every Psychic Energy attached to Gengar. You get to hurl those guys into Darkne…erm, the Lost Zone.

This not only helps you cherry pick key cards such as Level X cards, but obviously puts you closer to scoring the win off of your stadium card. This is generally going to be your best and fastest route to winning.

There are problems of course. Your opponent is going to see your plan, and they certainly aren’t going to sit there and let you enact it. Well, they could, but generally they will lose doing so. So how are they going to go about beating you?

If your primary means of sending a Pokémon to the Lost World is Hurl into Darkness, the easiest “solution” is to make sure you don’t have any Pokémon to Hurl!

By either benching them, or discarding them, or shuffling them into their deck, players have access to means by which to empty their hand of Pokémon entirely, which, in turn, makes it so Hurl into Darkness whiffs and the Gengar player experiences a wasted turn almost entirely.

That is, obviously, the worst case scenario, so measures need to be taken to make sure that doesn’t happen. There are two major ways to interact with your opponent to make sure that even their most carefully laid plans to keep their hand Pokémon-less goes awry. The first, and most reliable, is Seeker.

Seeker’s primary use is to return your damaged Pokémon to your hand, or to return to your hand a Pokémon with a re-usable coming into play Poké-Power, but here there is a more important interaction. The “balancing cost” of Seeker has already been exploited before.

While the bouncing of a Pokémon is symmetrical, an attempt to create a slightly less one-sided Mr. Briney’s Compassion, the parallel nature of the card has already been abused. By forcing an opponent to bounce a Pokémon, you can force them to set themselves back during set up.

PokeGymYou can force them to bounce a Pokémon while you kill their active, and effectively first turn them despite them having multiple Pokémon. Now, you also get the benefit of forcing a Pokémon back into their hand so you have a guaranteed target for Hurl into Darkness!

Your next option is to simply give them a new hand. There are a few means by which to do this. You have the traditional methods, such as Judge and Looker’s Investigation.

These, unfortunately, take up your use of a Supporter for the turn, and also are unreliable. Judge only gives them 4 cards, so the odds of them not having targets are not favorable.

Looker’s Investigation gives them a potential 5, but also lets them opt to draw fewer, so that is even less reliable. If they are in a good position on the board, they have no reason to draw that full five.

Supporter-less options include Giratina from Platinum, with its “Let Loose” Poké-Power. It forces both players to draw 4 cards. It also is able to be looped with Seeker, so you get double duty off of the card.

Unfortunately, 4 cards is too few, and you are also stuck shuffling your own hand into the deck. 4 is a pretty small number of cards, and you really don’t want to derail your own game by giving yourself a junky hand. Long gone are the days of “Cosmic Power,” and you can’t always reliably have access to Uxie and its “Set Up” to get you back into the game if your Let Loose goes sour.

The better choice for a deck like this is Spiritomb, from the Triumphant expansion. While it generally reads like a bad card, and an even worse one when you realize it also eats into the number of Spiritomb from Arceus you can play. (As otherwise it might have fringe uses in Vilegar.)

Its Pokémon Power forces the opponent to shuffle their hand into their deck and draw a new hand of 6 when it enters play. 6 is far too many to be used as a disruptive card, and it doesn’t work on you, so its applications are few and far between.

PokeGymOddly, the card fills the perfect niche in this deck, and is pretty much an automatic inclusion. It doesn’t interfere with your hand, it doesn’t require a Supporter use for the turn, and it gives them a large enough hand that the odds you hit a Pokémon are pretty good. As a basic Pokémon, it also works really well with Seeker, so it is a perfect fit.

Now that we see the two counter measures we can put in place to try and deal with the theoretical “counter plan” decks will try to enact against us, we have to address the cards and tactics they can run to try and beat these concepts as well.

Junk Arm and Regice, or other discard conditions, are our enemy. They let a player discard Pokémon recklessly, and this thins their deck entirely.

This makes it so that Spiritomb and similar shuffling effects are less and less likely to “hit” anything as the game goes on. Couple that with the fact that they are putting more and more cards into play, and they are twisting the odds in their favor.

This brings up a major issue working against the deck that I need to address. Fundamentally, the deck does very little to impact the opponent’s field. As a result, you aren’t getting any kills. You aren’t applying any pressure to their game state.

This means they do not really have to focus resources on maintaining a board presence, so they can instead overlook building their field entirely for merely managing their Pokémon count, and denying you Lost Zonings. While in most matchups, you can’t afford to discard a lot of your attackers, since you need to be playing and replaying them, most of these Pokémon are expendable in this matchup.

Once you have an attacker in place, it isn’t getting killed, so extra copies of that line are unneeded, and can be pitched to Regice, or Junk Arm, with no real downside. I’ve played a number of games where, by the end of the game, a player has no Pokémon left in their deck. This makes it very difficult to Hurl anything into Darkness, to say the least.

Decks can be built with convoluted means by which to kill Gengar in one shot. Why? We aren’t doing anything to break up that game plan. They can slowly piece that plan together, and we can’t do anything to stop it since our desired game plan is so linear that it can’t really afford to be adaptive to try and also attack and interact directly with their board.

This is especially true when we realize that time is always working against us. Not simply because we have 30 minutes and 3 turns to win, but because the longer the game goes, the more likely it is that they can position their hand free of Pokémon. (SP Radar, Bebe’s Search, discard effects, etc.)

It also gives them more and more turns to thin their deck of Pokémon, weakening our odds even further the longer the game goes.

Now, let’s go back to Seeker. With VS Seeker, and Junk Arm, we have access to more than 6 Seekers over the course of a game. This makes it pretty easy to get Pokémon in their hand…unless you take into account Fossils. As lame as this sounds, a lot of people I have playtested against have been running these Trainers.

The catch here is that the cards count as Pokémon in play, but nowhere else. While this has traditionally been a handicap, limiting a decks ability to actively search for them, it offers an incredibly frustrating interaction here. While in play, they are legal targets for Seeker.

So if you play a Seeker, and they have a Fossil in play, they simply opt to bounce that, and you are cheated out of a Hurl into Darkness target because, in hand, they count as a Trainer. They then get to bench it again, and lock you out of profitable Seeker plays for the rest of the game.

Admittedly, it is difficult to get access to the Fossil, as I addressed earlier, because it is hard to search for. Twins won’t work because no prizes are taken, but Poké Drawer + does work, as does simply cycling through your deck “hoping to get lucky”. You can get it later in to the game and it still works, so that is more realistic than you’d think.

Pokemon ParadijsYou can get fancy and play Crobat G, and Cursed Drop fossils though. If you don’t one shot them, you are risking it being Seekered, or Super Scoop Up’d, or even discarded, and Junk Armed for.

Best case scenario, you kill it, and send it to the Lost Zone, but once there, guess what? It is a trainer again, so they force you to overextend to kill the Fossil, and even then, it counts as effectively a wasted turn.

If they wanted to be silly but oddly effective, placing an Expert Belt on the fossil, prevents that play even, and it can be discarded to stop the irrelevant prizes drawn anyways.

So decks have a hard counter for Seeker, and can slowly but surely reduce the impact Spiritomb has. Guess what though, it gets a bit worse. They have other answers for Spiritomb as well. SP decks can Power Spray it, and decks like Regigigas, and Palkia, can keep looping Psychic Bind from Mesprit to lock you out of the card.

Even aggressive decks that run a single Mesprit and some Seekers can really mess with your game plan. Depressing, isn’t it?

Now, despite all of this, LostGar manages to win. It doesn’t effortlessly win every game, but it wins it’s fair share in spite of all of the counter measures players are taking. Needless to say, when decks start running Fossils, people are really going for the deck’s throat. Unfortunately, players are going beyond these defensive measures meant to stop you from winning via Lost World.

There are two other major countering tactics being employed. First and foremost, players are running Dark types. A single Honchkrow SV, Absol G Lv.X, or even Weavile G can threaten to kill every Gengar Prime thrown at a deck, and since you aren’t even really killing that Pokémon, you really are put in a rough spot.

Not only are you stuck trying to Lost Zone cards despite the opponent’s plans to prevent you from doing so, but you are now facing down a truly threatening clock. They can now prevent you from winning, but also beat you in a very quick time. Even if you switch gears and try to kill those Pokémon, it’s still buying them time from you winning.

Due to tie breakers on time, you are the one who has to win. They will always be up on prizes, so they don’t need to win, they need to prevent you from winning. So every turn they force you to react to them in order to alleviate pressure is one turn you skip trying to win.

Pokemon Paradijs

The second tactic is to use “Deafen,” from Dialga G. This isn’t a particularly “great” long term solution, as eventually, you Lost Zone 6 Pokémon, then have some sort of game plan in place to kill the Dialga and prevent Deafen, and once that happens, you sneak Lost World into play for the win.

Unfortunately, that condition is hard to accomplish on time. It also requires you to fit in some sort of “solution” to Deafen. This could be a Fire type, or a Machamp from Stormfront. You simply need some means by which to kill Dialga in your list.

Now, let me point out that all of these counter measures have counter measures that can be taken to try and beat them in return.

The issue is, there are so many different types of counters that threaten the deck that you are really forced to try and attack them all differently which really threatens to thin the deck out as it tries to include all of the cards needed to have game against all of those tactics.

Now that I’ve addressed how the deck works, and some of its major fears, I’ll go over some of the cards which can be coupled with Gengar Prime to make it better, or to try and beat problem matchups. Needless to say, I’ll preface this with the disclaimer that I’m not proposing you throw all of these cards into a list. I’ll be listing off cards which have uses, and what those uses are, and you can pick and choose what ones to include.

Let’s start with the obvious basics of the deck:

Gastly (Stormfront)

“Pitch Dark” is such a fantastic attack. It is one of the best openers in the deck, and really slows an opponent down. If anyone has played against Gengar in the past 2 or so years, they know how good this card is, and I don’t think it needs any further introduction. It will likely go down as by far the best Gastly ever printed, and is an obvious 4 of in the deck.

Haunter (Triumphant)

pokemon-paradijs.com

I have championed the Hoodwink Haunter from Stormfront in Vilegar builds, but that card has no place in this deck. The free retreat cost is simply better here as Hoodwink will not be used. You don’t want too many Haunter, as you’ll be making more use of Rare Candy in this deck, but you still are going to need some, and this one gets the go ahead in my eyes every time.

Gengar Prime

Alright, I’m not going into further detail on this card’s applications and uses, but I will say that the deck can run either 3 or 4 of this guy. Four is the most reliable, but you also could end up running 3, and a single copy of a different Gengar, as they have their uses.

It could theoretically be a 2 of, allowing you 2 other Gengars, but that is a bit of a rare scenario and you really need a good justification to run that split as it dilutes your game plan rather heavily, and will require you to run a lot of recovery cards to get them back somewhat reliably.

Gengar Level X

This card is optional. You aren’t taking kills, so it is just re-setting Lv.X cards more often than not, which isn’t that great vs SP decks. It can put more Pokémon back in their deck which isn’t bad, and is the closest you get to interfering with their game plan, so it applies some pressure at least, but it isn’t that great.

If you rely on Mew Prime at all, it can threaten Dialga G Lv.X, allowing Mew to be useful again, so if you run a build heavy with Mew, you certainly want this guy in there. Its attack is somewhat interesting after Cursed Drop, if you want to try and start killing a bench if they do lock you out of reasonable Lost Zone targets late in the game, but the card has underwhelmed me in testing.

Gengar (Stormfront)

This card is more of a “sudden death answer” and way to take a cheap prize early on. It is much more of a play on time then it is a synergistic inclusion with the rest of the deck. I don’t personally like it, but I’ve seen some players championing it, so I figured it deserved mention at the least.

Gengar (Arceus)

Pokemon ParadijsThis is a card I actually have singled out as the future of the deck. I am, of course, referring to the Curse Gengar from Arceus. One of the need tricks with Gengar Prime is that if you knock out a Pokémon with an attack that switches to the bench and you promote Gengar Prime, you still get to send that Pokémon to the Lost Zone.

This Gengar does a couple of key things. It lets you Curse a damage counter over to a Fossil, allowing a kill on it with Cursed Drop, taking up the role of the otherwise underwhelming Crobat G plan I addressed earlier.

More importantly, it deals with a few other issues. It actually applies pressure. This lets you have some sort of game near the end once you don’t have good targets for Hurl into Darkness. You can get your last few Lost Zonings off of kills. The attack is expensive, and not that threatening to big attackers, but that is what the following card is for.

Luxray GL Lv.X

This card is off of everyone’s radar at the moment for the deck. Everyone has been pestering me to come up with some huge innovation to make this deck better, and while I won’t say I have broken the deck in the least, I do feel this card is my biggest contribution to the deck.

This card is your best possible counter to a Fossil. You simply Bright Look up the Fossil, then use Seeker, forcing them to send a different Pokémon back to their hand. If you retreat Luxray before hand too, it gets even better, as you can loop your Luxray with your own Seeker.

Want to know the best part?

It forces your opponent to willingly discard their Fossil to get it out of the active position if they want to do anything. Luxray also is disruptive, forcing cards like Regice active, or simply making plays which require your opponent to have to interact.

Pokemon Paradijs

It forces them to miss attachments, or attacks, or at the very least interferes with them. That is a trait the deck previously lacked, and besides being a hard counter to fossils, Luxray offers plenty of other random uses throughout any matchup.

The card is also an all-star with the Arceus Gengar. Luxray “breaks up” the Deafen Lock. It lets you Bright Look around it, and ideally lock a Pokémon active. Gust up an Uxie or an Azelf, and use Lock Up with your Azelf. Gust up a high retreat cost Pokémon, and use Pitch Dark.

Whatever it takes to get them to miss a Deafen. It also lets you use Shadowskip on killable targets. Benches will be full of Pokémon such as Uxie, Azelf, Spiritomb, Sableye, and other vulnerable targets for Shadowskip, but you normally only get to interact with what they send active.

Luxray lets you cherry pick these targets, knock them out, and send them to the Lost Zone as you promote your Gengar Prime. This gives you a late game approach that lets you send things to the Lost Zone in spite of the fact they have been trying to empty their hand of Pokémon.

Crobat G

Again, we have to try and address the Fossil issue. I’m still unsure if this is an unfounded “fear” or something enough players will be wielding going into States, but from my testing online, the cards have been very popular. Unless you have some other game plan in place, I really do feel that you need Crobat G to deal with the Fossils.

The “key” means to hitting all of your Hurl Into Darkness attacks is by using Seeker, so Fossils really are the worst thing you can run into. Crobat G is still a bit lame if they get greedy and attach an Expert Belt to the Fossil. As silly as it sounds, the 70 hit points are very difficult to kill, and really set you back. Plus, the “two prizes” don’t really matter in the least here.

Blaziken FB Lv.X

This is a card I’m not a huge fan of, but I understand it’s “purpose” as well. It is your “kill” on Dialga, to break Deafen lock, and it is also a mild answer to Fossils in that it can lure them active and provide the same game plan against them as Luxray.

Unfortunately, this wastes an attack, and lets them discard the Fossil into a Junk Arm before you are able to play a Seeker, and it doesn’t let you use Hurl Into Darkness on the same turn, so it doesn’t quite have the same punch to it. Now, it is a supbar answer to fossils, and it is a subpar answer to Dialga compared to the next card, but it gains value in that it addresses both at the same time, for less space, so I haven’t ruled it out as a viable contender.

Machamp (Stormfront)

Pokemon ParadijsThis is the other “anti-Deafen” out that I personally prefer to Blaziken. Both “deal with” Deafen, but the thing I love about Machamp is that it also gives you a game plan for timed games. I’ll address the different engines in a little but, but the one I personally prefer runs a ton of trainers and guns to get out a Gengar Prime on the first turn of the game.

In Sudden Death scenarios, you abort that plan, and replace it with going for a quick Machamp. By doing this, it actually gives you a totally valid Plan B which does allow you to actually win game 3 in match play.

It also lets you “donk” players if they have only a single Pokémon (or, if you are extremely lucky and want to include Seeker plays, then 2). While that isn’t a “huge” perk, it matters because one of the intangibles I hate about the deck is its inability to “steal” games.

Due to its alternate win condition path, it is forced into being slow and playing out full games. It can’t capitalize on a bad start, or put any lasting pressure on, so Machamp at least gives you that same Plan B to jump all over a weak start by the opponent.

It also gives you some insurance against Regigigas, of all cards. Regigigas plays an interesting game vs LostGar. It can continually Power lock it with Psychic Binds, and is well equipped to empty Pokémon out of its hand and/or deck.

It also can use Sacrifice to enable Twins, so it can search out a Fossil. Between not being able to use Spiritomb due to Mesprit, and not being able to use Seeker due to a silly Fossil, your outs shrink fast. The irony is, you can play a totally different game against them.

Force them to overextend to fight your Plan A, in other words, Lost Zoning Pokémon, and switch it up to a Machamp midgame. They can’t one shot it, so its going to get a ton of mileage. They have a hard time taking prizes past your Gengars, especially when they get “looped” by Seekers from both players, so they have to overextend into awkward scenarios where Machamp comes in and starts killing Regigigas.

Mew Prime

PokeGymMew is an interesting card in the deck. It is inherently weaker in the mirror match, but it offers a few strengths. First, it is a great turn one play. It allows you to set up a guaranteed turn 2 Hurl into Darkness. One of the things the deck needs is to be fast and start its game plan early, and Mew does that.

Mew also offsets the weakness of the “turbo engine” in that normally the deck would be extremely subpar vs trainer lock, but by being a single Basic Pokémon that gets your game plan going, it really lets you skirt around the lock early game. It helps your game vs Vilegar, and other lock-based decks.

It also is good against decks trying to play the Power lock game, as it requires almost no set up so if they go to infinitely lock you, you can fall back on your “simple” route. Mew is almost never the decks “Plan A” but it is a great built in fall back plan against decks that would otherwise disrupt your ability to set up.

Smeargle

Smeargle is another effort to inflate the number of good openers for the deck. I’ve run anywhere from 0 to 4 of this card, and it’s hard to judge what is best. This card literally baffles me, and I’m going to go off on a tangent about it real quick.

I’ve had games where this card has been a huge help, and I’ve had games where this card has backfired entirely. Part of the problem I have with it is that it requires you to (usually) keep a total variable in your plan for the turn. When I take my turn, I generally have the entire turn planned out before I make any moves what so ever.

The problem with Smeargle is, plans involving it require you, generally, to actively use it, and in turn, force you to have no idea what is actually going to happen. Your turn differs depending on if you hit specific supporters, or none, and I never find myself in scenarios where taking that risk is ever the most appealing option.

PokeGymIt’s one thing if you open with the card, at which point, unless you are forced to Judge or Copycat, you are pretty safe, but having to grab it as one of your Pokémon with a Collector, and having to retreat to it is a very difficult trigger to pull with no prior information on their hand.

It gains a bit of strength midgame if you get a Q on it, so you can promote it between kills, but by that point, you should generally be pretty set up regardless, plus your opponent should be able to regulate the supporters in their hand at that point.

So even after months of playing with this card, I am literally clueless how I feel about this card as a whole. I’ve had long strings of games where I’ve loved it, only to have equally long strings of games where its been awful. I’ve never been so confused regarding a card in my history of playing this game, so congrats Smeargle, you are one difficult card.

Azelf Lv.X

One of the key “answers” to LostGar is simply using dark types to exploit the weakness of Gengar, and keeping up with the 1 for 1 race of prize vs Lost Zoning. Whoever takes the first prize or Losting wins unless someone can force the other player to “whiff” on a kill or a Lost Zoning.

If a player gets, say, a Honchkrow SV going, it’ll be a lot harder to stop it from scoring kills than it will be for the other deck to force you to miss on a Hurl into Darkness. Toss in the fact that the dark types force the LostGar deck to also focus on replenishing their field in addition to making sure they pull off Seekers or Spiritombs, and you really put them on the defensive.

Azelf Lv.X takes away Gengars weakness, and in turn, makes things “fair” again. The main “culprits” of adding Dark splashes unfortunately, are SP decks, and between Luxray and Garchomp C Lv.X so Azelf becomes a pretty quick target. You almost need to protect it with a Mesprit so they can’t Crobat G it early.

Exploud

Pokemon ParadijsThis is pretty much the same plan as Azelf, except it requires more space, is harder to get out, and doesn’t die easily. Its high hit points make it very difficult to answer, and forces a “skip” in “kills” during the game that can definitely sway games. Of course, it is clunkier and pretty awkward, but none the less a more surefire way to answer the dark weakness issue.

Bubble Coat

Same idea, a bit less of a long lasting solution. Ideally, you can play this card on a crucial turn, then Junk Arm it as needed. I don’t personally support this choice, but I’ll list it alongside the other anti-weakness options just to be complete and to address all of the cards that had been discussed for the deck at least.

Vileplume

Alright, now we get to address the other approach. Rather than using a turbo engine akin to Kingdra or Machamp, we get to try and insert the LostGar approach into a Vilegar skeleton.

While this slows your deck down considerably, it also helps to prevent your opponents from enacting their counter measures. It prevents them from playing down Fossils, and prevents mass spam of Junk Arms to empty cards from hands. This version improves your odds against Fossils and the “empty the hand” approach, and against the Power locking Mesprit loop decks, but is worse against Dialga, and is far worse in timed games. It’s sudden death plan is almost non existent.

This is a perfect example of what I addressed earlier about how it is extremely difficult to build a LostGar deck that is able to beat every attempted hate plan. Certain decks cover certain weaknesses, but always remain vulnerable to other problems. It is very aggravating, and makes it hard to test.

Spiritomb (Arceus)

Pokemon ParadijsThis goes alongside Vileplume. You still want to run one Triumphant Arceus, but it lets you set up your field while also locking out trainers until you get Vileplume out. If you don’t run Mew Prime for trainer lock matchups, this card can be a one or two of to fall back on when your trainer locked already as a means to force your own set up.

Mr. Mime (Call of Legends)

The new Mr. Mime lets you know what is in the opponents hand, which is helpful, but I’m not sure how much difference it makes. It costs a deck slot, and a bench spot, and most of that “information” is easily tracked once you start your Hurl into Darkness campaign anyways, but the card is certainly worth considering.

It is much the same reason I like Smeargle, in that it lets me garner information by seeing their hand. The difference is, Smeargle actually has additional uses.

Spiritomb (Triumphant)

This card I addressed earlier, and is used solely to give them new, unpredictable hands in the hopes of sticking them with Pokémon to snag with Hurl Into Darkness.

Mesprit

This is one of the absolute best cards in the game right now, and it’s value hasn’t even caught on as much as it should yet. The trainers in the game right now make this card so easy to exploit. It’s synergy with Seeker, a card you already use to force their Pokémon back to hand, can’t be overlooked.

Slowing them down, and disrupting them is huge. You can win games off of cheating this card back into play over the course of multiple turns. It is also a great card to abuse when your opponent uses Seeker.

Staraptor FB Lv.X

This card lets you reliably get access to Twins and Seeker, so it has its place for that. It helps offset the difficulty of always having what you need, which can be hard when you are put on the defensive by a fast start by the opponent.

Absol G Lv.X

Pokemon ParadijsThis card lets you “skip ahead” in the “kill exchange” with Lost Zoning cards. Unfortunately, it requires you to flip coins, and then get lucky. It also requires a lot of cards to be added to the deck to make it work. To really milk it for full value, you need Chatot G and Poké Turns, both which take up a lot of space.

This card was one of the ones I was most excited about for the deck right off the bat, as it accelerated its game plan and gave it a huge edge in mirror match and the time issue, but it’s too hard to fit it, and answers for all of the counter measures taken to beat the deck. I don’t rule it out, but it played a lot better to start than it did by the time people started trying to beat it.

Chatot G

Again, this card is useful almost exclusively with Absol G Lv.X, but it works quite well there, assuming you don’t go 0/3 on flips. It also has a bit of a consistency boost built in, but I’m still not entirely sold.

Poké Turn

See the above two, and maybe Luxray, as to why this card is even in consideration.

Palkia G Lv.X

Palkia is another card which punishes players for expanding their bench, and emptying Pokémon from their hand by putting them down. Unfortunately, the card is pretty clunky, slow, and rarely does enough to warrant the spots used in the deck, and effort used to get it out.

If you can comfortably get this card in play and then win, you probably had enough leeway to do so without it. It strikes me as the definition of a “win more” card. Only it is an extremely clunky “win more” card.

Now, I’ll address some of the very basics. I won’t explain why these are open to consideration as I’m pretty sure they are all self explanatory by this point.

PokeGymPokémon Collector
Bebe’s Search
Twins
Poké Drawer +
– PokéDex
Rare Candy
Broken Time-Space
Lost World
Pokémon Communication
Luxury Ball
Copycat
Looker’s Investigation
Junk Arm
Seeker
Warp Point
Uxie LA
– Uxie Lv.X
Azelf LA
Unown Q MD
– Psychic Energy
Rainbow Energy

Now the real question is, how do we take all of these options, and from them, force an effective deck? Well, that really is the challenge. I’ll give you a few lists here that work as options. I’ll preface it by saying that, at the end of the day, I am simply not happy enough with any of them to warrant me playing them for States.

Not due to a lack of effort, or innovation, but simply because I don’t feel that the tools to make it work exist at the moment. You have an innate disadvantage in matchplay, and in time in general. That is a huge handicap right out of the gates. It is one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of Vilegar either. Next, the hype pretty much killed the deck right out of the gate.

There are very few decks in the history of the game that remained a great deck choice if every player was openly gunning for it. The deck is clearly powerful in both theory and execution, but it isn’t resilient enough to overcome all of the hate.

WikipediaAgain, you can build a LostGar list to beat any other deck… you just can’t build a list that beats enough of the decks to make me feel like it is the choice to use going into States. The more and more I tested it, it felt like I was trying to force a tier 2 deck to be tier 1 for the sake of wanting to use it.

There is a point where you need to abandon a deck despite your investment in it when it simply is not the correct call. I’ll use an example:

In 2007, I used Metanite for a vast majority of the season. It was the best deck, and people started to gun for it, especially locally since I won a ton of events with it. I was able to adapt and win despite this. You can only innovate so much though, regardless of “success”. Diamond and Pearl was released, and Infernape hit the scene.

I spent a month trying to get Metanite to have game against it, while also dealing with the other decks built to beat it. At that point I asked why? I still felt that Metanite was the best deck. It had unmatched consistency, and the ability to be teched better than any other deck in what I’d call the “dark ages” of Nintendo Pokémon, the inconsistent, fragile 2007 season.

The format was built around needing to Delta Draw to reliably get set up, and Metanite had access to Beldum, which effectively led to 8 “Holon’s Castform” starts assuming you had any of your Mentors or Transceivers. So Metanite was likely the best deck in the format, but it sure wasn’t the best deck in the metagame.

When a disproportionate amount of decks are built specifically to combat a popular one, you often need to abandon that “best deck” to dodge all of the hate. Can you still adapt and win with the deck? Sure. But it is often a lot more trouble than it is worth, and likely isn’t giving you the best odds to do so.

I feel that this is the case with LostGar. The decks raw power is there, but the witch hunt against it is too strong. I wouldn’t advise using the deck for the first week of States. Perhaps the second week of States, if LostGar’s presence turns out low for week one, would be a better time to pull the trigger. (It also gives you a better gauge of what your local metagame will look like.)

Perhaps Regionals, or Nationals will be a better metagame for it. Unfortunately, right now, Week 1 of States is NOT the metagame for its use.

I have three builds I want to share though, and then I’ll address some of the LostGar matchups, and finally, touch on cards which I feel will gain strength in a metagame anticipating the LostGar explosion.

Trainer Lock

Pokémon – 30

4 Gastly SF
3 Haunter TM
3 Gengar Prime
1 Gengar LV.X/Gengar AR 16
2 Oddish LA 111
2 Gloom LA 97
2 Vileplume UD
3 Spiritomb AR
1 Spiritomb TM
1 Unown Q MD
2 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Azelf LA
1 Azelf LV.X
1 Smeargle UD
1 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X

Trainers – 18

4 Pokémon Collector
3 Bebe’s Search
4 Twins
1 Broken Time-Space
2 Lost World
4 Seeker

Energy – 12

10 Psychic
2 Warp

WANTS: Palmer’s Contribution, 2nd BTS, Copycat, Mesprit, Regice/a discard outlet.

Luxray gains strength off of the trainer lock. Its disruptive power is much higher in here, and can be looped with Seekers. Warp Energy help with the Vileplume, and also lets you use Seeker with Luxray easier. The deck is hard to play, and you need to learn to play it effortlessly as time will work against you almost every time. Your game 3s will be difficult to win as well, but if Vilegar can do it, theoretically so can this.

One of the issues with this deck is that it doesn’t really have a way to empty its hand. The inclusion of say, a Regice, would let it empty some of its staggering 30 Pokémon in mirror match so Hurl Into Darkness doesn’t ruin you.

It also lets you empty your hand of clutter so you can get maximum value out of Seeker’d Uxies since you’ll want to be re-using Set Up over the course of the game. I’m not sure Regice is the best dump outlet, but it probably is.

Turbo Engine

Pokémon – 23

4 Gastly SF
1 Haunter TM
3 Gengar Prime
1 Gengar AR 16
1 Machop SF
1 Machoke SF
1 Machamp SF
2 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Smeargle UD
1 Unown Q MD
1 Spiritomb TM
1 Mesprit LA
1 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X
1 Azelf LA
1 Azelf LV.X

Trainers – 30

4 Pokémon Collector
1 Bebe’s Search
4 Twins
4 Seeker
1 VS Seeker
3 Junk Arm
4 Poké Drawer +
3 Pokédex Handy910is
3 Rare Candy
1 Broken Time-Space
2 Lost World

Energy – 7

4 Psychic
3 Rainbow

WANTS: Palmer’s Contribution, Spiritomb AR/answer to trainer lock.

This is the fastest build, and my personal favorite so far. It’s got the best timed game of any of the decks. It’s got answers to Fossils, Deafen, and an attempted answer for Dark types. It lacks a few more good openers, but in the grand scheme of things I’m pretty happy with this list.

It’s the one I’ve tested the most, and the most evolved of the decks. I’d like to add something silly like a Switch or a Warp Point in here, just because I need to be able to switch between Pokémon more easily. It also lets Machamp steal a kill in sudden death by forcing basics active, if I run Warp Point.

SP LostGar

Pokémon – 25

4 Gastly SF
2 Haunter TM
4 Gengar Prime
1 Chatot G
2 Absol G
1 Absol G LV.X
1 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X
2 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Unown Q MD
1 Azelf LA
1 Azelf LV.X
1 Smeargle UD
1 Mesprit LA
1 Spiritomb TM

Trainers – 27

4 Pokémon Collector
4 Twins
3 Rare Candy
1 Broken Time-Space
2 Lost World
4 Seeker
3 Junk Arm
1 VS Seeker
2 Poké Turn
2 Bebe’s Search
1 VS Seeker

Energy – 8

5 Psychic
3 Rainbow

This is far more experimental and less tested, but its got a far more diverse game plan. A lot of the elements from the other decks are in here. I’m really torn on the Gengar lines in all of the lists. Depending on personal preference, 3 Gengar Prime with either an X or an Arceus Gengar works, and so would 4 Gengar Prime. Do whatever you feel most comfortable with and it doesn’t change too much to the deck.

Pokemon ParadijsHere is an issue I hear brought up a lot, and one I will address again. Some people do not feel comfortable running a low energy count like this. I stand by the fact that it isn’t bad at all, but will admit you really need to play with the fact you can’t take energy drops for granted.

If you get careless, you can easily hurt yourself, as you can’t just assume you’ll have them. If you play with the low count in mind, you can still have plenty of success with it. If you still find yourself struggling due to the lower energy count, feel free to add more, but I don’t really encourage it.

One thing that is important is that I don’t care what I feel is the “best” list for a deck, or what the best deck is. If you aren’t winning with it, I don’t care how much success someone else has with it. If you get busted up in testing, don’t expect a miraculous change come tourney time.

There are a lot of variables that may be causing your poor results, and I’m sure a lot can be fixed in time, but play to your results when it comes to tourney time. Not every player fits with every style of deck.

Anyways, let’s address some of the decks and how the matchups go:

VS SP

SP decks are a pretty diverse bunch, so it will be hard for me to do overarching suggestions here, especially since their games play out so differently every time. SP decks are generally not going to be running any Fossils, but are very likely to run either a Dark type, or a Dialga G.

Pokemon ParadijsDark types options include Honchkrow, Absol G Lv.X, and Weavile G. If they run Weavile or Absol, if you have Machamp, sometimes it is correct to simply promote it, and kill the problem, as it may not be that easy for them to get the dark type back.

Honchkrow is a bigger issue as it won’t die to Machamp, so you just have to try to race past it. It requires a Dark and a Double Colorless though, so it is definitely slower than Absol, who is the fastest option.

Your Seekers will generally net maximum value here. If you get a few good Lost Zonings early, expect Seeker to go the distance. Try and push Spiritomb past Power Sprays early, and save the Seekers for later in the game. Spiritomb is better early, and weaker later, because it gives them more time to empty their deck of Pokémon.

If you get off to a great start, you’ll be good in this matchup. If they put you on the defensive early, that is where you start to run into problems. If they clip your draw power off early with Power Sprays, you have to struggle to get set up, and try and catch them with Pokémon in hand.

One of the ways you’ll lose this matchup, besides to Dark Types, is if they force you to be caught up on Supporters. Sometimes you’ll have to use Twins to stay in the game, and can’t Seeker. So if they put you too far on the defensive, it becomes a struggle to really set up and hit your Hurl into Darkness. The high count of non-Supporter draw cards helps here in the Turbo build.

Vileplume helps slow them down, and probably makes you a pretty good favorite against them. If you are able to keep them from getting a super aggressive start, you’ll be in great shape. Vileplume has even deeper issues with Dialga G Lv.X though, so you improve your game against Dialga-less SP, at the cost of having a really bad game against decks that do run it.

Pokemon Paradijs

Mesprit is key in these matchups, but it’s a bit of a gamble. You want to time your Mesprit for key turns so that they whiff on kills (ideally on Azelf Lv.X) but as a result, its easy for them to spot when they need to Spray. The challenge is trying to give them so many Spray targets that you overload their supply. With Seekers, that works.

Vileplume (or even a tech Spiritomb) fixes the Spray issue. I’m a bit afraid that the SP version lacks the speed or disruption to hold up as well vs SP as the other two builds, which is one of the reasons I am hesitant to endorse it.

SP isn’t a bad matchup at all if they don’t run Dialga, or a Dark Type. I guess I should address how to play around Deafen a bit. They’ll go up on prizes and let you Lost Zone cards, and then, as you are about to drop Lost World, just loop Deafen until you lose on time.

It’s dumb, but what else can you do? Luxray is huge here, in that it keeps gusting up other Pokémon. SP decks have no means by which to get an Uxie or Azelf out of the active position if you gust and Lock Up it with your Azelf, so that forces a broken Deafen.

The other issue you have to deal with involves playing against a deck like Sablelock, or even hybrid approaches which seem to be gaining popularity in response to the LostGar menace. Any combination of Judge, Giratina, and Cyrus’s Initiative stands to cut you off as you try to set up, so that is always a threat to worry about.

The deck also inherently runs Dark Pokémon. It seems like a bit of a rough matchup, but it comes down to the same thing the other matchups do. If you get set up and going, you should be fine. If they disrupt you pretty heavily, and go up a few prizes while you try to get a Gengar out, you are in a lot of trouble unless their game falters along the way.

VS Vilegar

PokeGymThis matchup depends heavily on which build you are running. The Vileplume build should be a pretty strong favorite in this matchup because they run so many Pokémon and not nearly enough ways to get rid of them. The turbo build is a bit dependent.

It gets hurt with its set up a ton, but if you do get set up, you again get the benefit of being able to snag a whole ton of Pokémon from them. Again, it comes down to the issue of how well you can regulate trainers in your hand.

The Vileplume build runs a lot amount of Trainers, and can set up past the disruption, so you are a huge favorite. The other ones run way too many trainers, and not nearly enough ways to get Gengars out. The turbo build, for example, runs ONE Haunter.

As a result, that matchup is going to be pretty brutal for you. I’m not too concerned because I’m not going to advise Vilegar as a great play at the moment. The worst part of LostGar’s presence for Vilegar is that the measures taken by many decks to beat LostGar also overlap by improving your Vilegar matchup. Dialga and Dark types are a pretty effective weapon.

The other advantage is, you can easily craft your LostGar build to have it’s way with Vilegar. Adding a Regice, a few more Haunter, and a Spiritomb should do a huge favor to the matchup. Again, it comes down to the fact that you have to end up tweaking the lists to fight each individual deck, and as a result, it is really hard to find a properly balanced list.

Luxray comes in handy in this matchup as well, harassing their Vileplumes and other benched Pokémon to buy some time for you to set up so they don’t start swinging too quickly. In the more aggressive builds, Luxray might buy you that free turn of Trainers needed to set up, and if it does, you should be in good shape.

Once both decks do set up, the matchup certainly favors LostGar. I opted to focus less on beating Vilegar, and more on beating SP, because I feel they are better decks, and will be far more widely played.

VS Gyarados

Pokemon Paradijs

This matchup isn’t too bad because they can’t really one shot a Gengar Prime. The traditional logic of the Vileplume build being better here is actually backwards. Since you never even attempt to kill a Gyarados, the fact it is harder for them to return them doesn’t matter.

This is another matchup where it depends on what sort of techs they run. A standard list from Cities will be unable to kill enough Gengars to race you. If they run a Fossil, which they can if they run the Poké Drawer + build, then it negates your Seeker players, and you get to go into Luxray mode, and get back to business.

Gyarados is a bit of a suspect play in my eyes due to its subpar SP matchup, and its atrocious Vilegar game. LostGar doesn’t do it any favors either, but it still remains a good deck.

To play a bit of devil’s advocate, a Gyarados list running Poké Blowers, Luxray, or a ton of ways to increase its average damage output to 130 may be able to compete here, but unfortunately, Gyarados isn’t positioned well enough in the metagame to be able to make such concessions to its other matchups to try and shore up this matchup.

VS Mirror Match

This is VERY list dependent. The lists using Absol G Lv.X will inherently be at an advantage. I’m pretty sure that the Vileplume build, on the other hand, is just slower, and is stuck running so many Pokémon that it can really get molested by Hurl into Darkness.

On the other hand, it could completely end up cutting off the turbo build by preventing it from ever getting set up in the first place, but again, that comes down to the fact that the build is intended to merely be as blistering as possible. As a result, it should be a favorite against other similar approaches, which it could reliably outspeed.

VS Regigigas

Some States will have a ton of this, some will have none. I personally feel it really is the “real deal”. Assuming they run a Fossil and the Power Lock chain, then you really need to rely on a Machamp, if you run it. It’s actually a tough matchup.

If LostGar can start the Mesprit chain first, and gain some ground before Gigas really gets going, it will be in alright shape. If it gets stuck with trying to function under Psychic Bind loop, you’ll really struggle. You can’t really try and answer Fossils with Luxray here either because they cut you off of Bright Look entirely.

The Vileplume build functions a bit better, as you cut off their ability to play down Fossils, and to loop Psychic Bind. Unfortunately, they generally run at least one Drag Off Gigas, so it will mess with your Vileplume and try to bring it active and kill it.

I actually feel that matchup is still very much in favor of the Vileplume LostGar, especially if you use your Unown Q and Warp Energy effectively.

The SP build, as usual, functions the worst of the three, as it runs no trainer denial, or Machamp, so it merely functions as a worse version of the turbo build.

Anyways, I’ll try to do a basic “matchup chart” for the three builds. I’m interested to see how Adam takes the info and puts it into a cute little chart for me. (All the ridiculous images are his fault, or an editors :P)

Turbo-VS Sablelock: 40-60
-VS LuxChomp: 50-50
-VS DialgaChomp: 60-40
-VS Vilegar: 35-65
-VS Gyarados: 70-30
-VS Regigigas: 40-60
-VS Turbo LostGar: 50-50
-VS Vileplume LostGar: 40-60
-VS SP LostGar: 30-70
Vileplume-VS Sablelock: 40-60
-VS LuxChomp: 40-60
-VS DialgaChomp: 30-70
-VS Vilegar: 70-30
-VS Gyarados: 30-70
-VS Regigigas: 70-30
-VS Turbo LostGar: 60-40
-VS Vileplume LostGar: 50-50
-VS SP LostGar: 40-60
SP LostGar-VS Sablelock: 35-65
-VS LuxChomp: 40-60
-VS DialgaChomp: 60-40
-VS Vilegar: 60-40
-VS Gyarados: 60-40
-VS Regigigas: 30-70
-VS Turbo LostGar: 70-30
-VS Vileplume LostGar: 60-40
-VS SP LostGar: 50-50

Now, all of those are of course adjusted depending on what kind of techs they run and are generally not as useful as they would be for most decks where you can more reliably compare stock list vs stock list.

Now let’s look at what cards gain strength headed into States:

Entei Raikou Legend

This card has always been good, but has fallen in and out of favor with players depending on the metagame. The card is somewhat subpar vs Vilegar, but is really good against Gyarados and against the new LostGar builds.

It’s a one-sided multi prize snagging attack. If you kill 3 of your own Pokémon, it is irrelevant as you take 2-3 extra ones of your own. In matchups where you are trading 1 for 1 all game long, it lets you cheat ahead by a prize or two, ideally.

This is the kind of card which allows strong players who get slower starts to make comebacks and secure games. The most aggravating part of this format is the difficulty for players to make legitimate comebacks, and this is a card that not only does that, but rewards foresight and skill.

It also is a potential attacker vs Steelix or other random tank decks. Not dealing with LostGar, but decks in general, a lot of players fill their bench with Uxie, Azelf, Mesprit, and friends, and this card can really punish them.

Honchkrow SV

This card is really good right now. Both Gengar decks don’t want to deal with it, and it can mess up the bench. It’s strength with Seeker is underappreciated as well. Normally they bounce a card like Uxie or Mesprit, but now you can lock them out of replaying it by filling their bench with filler.

The card helps a bit against Gyarados as well for that exact use. It is my personal favorite Dark type attacker, both in LuxChomp and Sablelock, as well as in my Palkia Lucario brew. It gives SP decks a Dark type attacker, some fun tricks to manipulate the bench, and an answer to Machamp and Mewtwo.

Absol G Lv.X

Pokemon ParadijsThis is a splashable inclusion for SP decks as well, but it requires more work. It hits a turn faster, and can be grabbed with SP Radar and thus Cyrus, so it has its perks. Its Pokémon Power, which not reliable or that great, is still a nice way to steal an occasional game or two.

Weavile G

This card requires more work to get kills, and I’m far from a huge fan of it, but it requires 1 spot, and it is both a basic, and has an attack that offers a boost in consistency.

Mesprit

This card has always been a powerhouse but it sees less play than it should. The card is so strong in the format at the moment, and I expect to see a lot more of it going into States.

Anyways, that is the best I could do involving Vilegar. I’d suggest using SP going into States, as it’s the most resilient of the decks, but if you expect less hate at your events, feel free to try out and tweak any of those above LostGar lists (besides the SP one, I really feel it is just inferior at this point despite originally testing strong.)

Those lists, while heavily tested, are still highly adjustable based on the suggestions and guidelines I’ve offered in this article. Every matchup wants different cards, so you need to build according to what you expect to play against.

I’ll hopefully have another article up before States, with a few more deck lists for other articles, but it really depends on when I get scheduled.

If you have any decks you are looking at, and want advice, or for my opinion, send me a PM and I’ll do my best to give my opinion and help. So again, happy testing, and good luck headed into States!

P.S.- WAILS!


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