Apologies for posting this AFTER Cities. I started on this in early December and promptly forgot about it until now. Whee!
VileGar is a strange deck, and isn’t quite what everyone thinks it is. And it definitely isn’t what everyone thought it was. It was, IMO, far over-hyped and that is the sole reason it was so prevalent in BRs and the sole reason its use died down so much for Cities. On top of that, people are convinced that the 30+3 format (and the new rules for top cut best-of-three matches) are stacked against slower decks like VileGar, while others dismiss it as too slow and too inconsistent.
But it still has a chance. The reason it performed so poorly at BRs was because nobody built the deck correctly. (That, and Triumphant wasn’t out at the time.) Coming out of Cities, I’m not going to claim that I know how to build it properly, or even that the optimal deck list has ever been found. But we are getting closer; I’ll say that much.
Given the nature of the deck, there’s no such thing as a skeleton list (excuse the pun). Everyone builds it differently — most run 2-2-2 Vileplume UD, yet others swear by 1-1-1. I run 2-1-2. Some love Gengar Prime, others hate it — you get the idea. So I’ll just run through the cards, suggest some numbers, and leave you to your own devices.
First, the Gengars.
You should already know what this one does. It’s the main Gengar of most decks. Trainerlocking with Vileplume UD and then Poltergeisting for obscene amounts of damage was the original premise of this deck. And for the most part, it still is. But deckbuilders have found creative ways around it, and the combo isn’t always easy to pull off.
It’s still here, Fainting Spell is still as broken as ever, and being able to Shadow Room stuff on the bench is still a major asset to the deck. Not much has changed.
I’d suggest one or two. While its use has diminished, it’s still a major attacker, reasonably fast if not always consistent. It’s the best attacker against most SP decks and decks like Donphan and Machamp that use far too many trainers.
An often overlooked card, it was brought to the public eye thanks to the CurseGar deck from last season. The idea behind that deck was to use Spiritomb to keep a trainerlock going the entire game — use it to set up your Gengar, and then Shadow Skip to retreat to Spiritomb and keep the trainerlock up. It was the precursor to VileGar, and IMO, if people look at a VileGar deck as a CurseGar deck + Vileplume tech, they’ll be much more successful.
Not only do you have a great Poké-Power in Curse (it helps immensely with setting up KO’s and not “wasting” damage counters), but you have a reliable attack in Shadow Skip. The biggest problem with Gengar SF is that Poltergeist may or may not hit for very much damage. Gyarados players in particular are notorious for dropping everything they don’t need out of their hand so Poltergeist doesn’t hit for anything, and to an extent, SP does that, too. So, set up a Gengar AR to hit for a reliable 60+10 every turn. 80+10 with an Expert Belt.
And as I mentioned before, if you’re crazy enough to run Gengar AR and Gengar Prime, you can Shadow Skip to Gengar Prime to Lost Zone anything you happen to KO. Or, you can just not even bother setting up Vileplume and Shadow Skip to a Spiritomb, just like old days. And I know someone (and this guy’s been placing really well in Cities around here, so it isn’t some random schmuck off the street) who runs a Mewtwo Lv.X in his VileGar list to help with that.
Overall, an extremely versatile card. Run one in your VileGar list. Or else.
And, if you really have to, you can Cursed Drop to spread damage counters on your opponent’s side of the field to set up for (or finish) Shadow Room KO’s and Compound Pain. Additionally, you could play Seeker and drop Gengar Prime to Lost Zone the Pokémon your opponent picked up. It’s a reasonably flexible card, if not the most flexible Gengar out there.
It combos well with Gengar AR. If Shadow Skip KO’s something and you switch to Gengar Prime, whatever you KO’d is sent to the Lost Zone. (Effects of attacks resolve before you check for KO’s. It’s the same reason why Shuppet/Uxie isn’t affected by Fainting Spell.) And there are few things more disruptive than sending key Pokémon to the Lost Zone.
And don’t forget Cursed Drop. It’s really fun to get a Rescue Energy’d Pokémon a few damage away from a KO and then Cursed Drop to not only bypass Rescue Energy, but to send whatever Pokémon it is to the Lost Zone. Surprisingly enough, when people ask me if Gengar Prime actually did anything to help me, I end up citing the times I did this to a Steelix or a Gyarados because my opponents seem to forget that the second attack exists.
I’d suggest zero or one. It’s only good against certain matchups *cough*Gyarados*cough* and there are still other ways to get around those matchups without sacrificing consistency. If you draw it late-game, it’s more than likely a(n) (un)dead card, and Gengar AR is far more useful.
Gives a little more HP and mainly exists as a Dialga G Lv.X counter, though it is still extremely useful whenever your opponent plays any Lv.X’s. If you somehow manage to spread enough damage, Compound Pain is also a great attack.
Not really much else to say, here. Play this card like you’d play an Expert Belt (especially against any deck running DGX, or in a mirror match). Keep it in your hand and play it when you need to. If you have a CurseGar set up, play this card on that one just to make it even more annoying.
Definitely run one, unless you want to take autolosses to DialgaChomp or Gyarados.
Gastly and Haunter
For Gastly, run three or four Gastly SF. Pitch Dark is yet another option to get a trainerlock rolling if you don’t have a Spiritomb start, and you always have the option of using Trick Gas to switch to a Spiritomb.
As for Haunter, you have two options. You could run Haunter SF, or Haunter TM. Haunter SF has a fun attack where you can move any trainers your opponent has played back into his/her hand. Assuming your Vileplume isn’t about to get KO’d soon, that can easily feed up a Gengar SF and make Poltergeist more consistent.
Or, you could run Haunter TM. Haunter TM has two mediocre attacks (Sneaky Placement and Sleep Poison) that you could use in a last-ditch scenario. Sleep Poison can get really annoying if you get lucky with coin flips, while Sneaky Placement can, well, do what it says it does. But the biggest factor is the free retreat. Free retreat is always a plus.
I guess, you could also run Haunter AR (with Hidden Poison). But don’t. It’s not worth it. Hidden Poison only works if Haunter is active, and its snipe attack is mediocre at very best. If you need to snipe for 20, Sneaky Placement does it for one less Energy (and one less retreat cost).
The other core card of this deck. Vileplume UD keeps up a trainerlock for the rest of the game. Against almost any deck (except, I suppose, other VileGar), constant trainerlock really hurts. Against any deck besides Gyarados, trainers will build up in your opponent’s hand, and you can easily Poltergeist for a ton of damage.
As for Oddish and Gloom, run the psychic-type Oddish LA and either the grass-type Gloom LA or Gloom UD. Psychic-type Oddish has 50 HP (as opposed to 40) and a +10 psychic weakness as opposed to a x2. That will help immensely against Uxie donks, and I’m not just talking about the deck.
The Grass-type Gloom LA, while it has only 70 HP (as opposed to 80), has only a +20 Fire weakness instead of a x2 Psychic weakness, and has a retreat cost of one instead of a retreat cost of two. Some, however, prefer the 80 HP over the 70 HP. The argument is that the x2 psychic weakness isn’t too terrible, given that there aren’t many things that hit for exactly 40 damage. If Gloom LA is hit with Bright Look, it can easily be KO’d by Flash Impact + Crobat or just a Trash Bolt. However, that x2 psychic weakness isn’t too easy to ignore, given that Uxies are splashed in every deck.
The Rest of Them
Do I really need to explain this section? Run four Spiritomb AR, one or two Uxie LA (I’d strongly suggest two), an Azelf LA, and an Unown Q. I’ve even heard of people running two Unown Q, but I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. VileGar is easy enough to donk as it is.
Teching it out!
Obviously, those cards above aren’t the only cards you can run in this deck.
Who knows when you might need that extra 10 damage? Especially considering Uxie, Azelf, and Smeargle all have 70 HP (10 HP away from a OHKO with Shadow Room), that extra 10 damage is definitely worth something. Gyarados is also 10 HP away from a four-trainer Poltergeist KO, which can get annoying.
Cons? Crobat sits there and takes up bench space unless you burn a Seeker to get it back up. Not nearly as useful as it is in SP decks, but still useful.
This card exists mainly for one reason: the mirror match. I’ll go over matchups later, but they basically involve KOing as many of the opponent’s Gengar SF as possible with your own Gengar SF. If you run two Gengar SF and one Ditto LA, you’ve probably got the match in the bag.
You could also use it to copy opponents’ Spiritombs (if you have to, or if you know they aren’t playing VileGar), Sableye, Jirachi, or whatever else they happen to use as a starter.
More draw power is almost always a nice thing to have. It helps bolster the consistency of a naturally somewhat inconsistent deck. There are a lot of times where you’ll be looking for one card that’s been avoiding you the entire game, and Uxie Lv.X will help you cycle through your deck in pursuit of that card.
Mewtwo will help your matchups against various decks — namely, SP and MewPerior. As someone once told me, you’re already using psychic energies, so why not?
It’s becoming more prevalent, though, so people are running their anti-Mewtwo techs. The only decks it’ll really help against is MewPerior and Uxie Donk (assuming you keep a trainerlock going long enough to get it out), given that Sablelock and LuxChomp will both snipe around it (and have Mewtwo counters) and DialgaChomp shuts off its Poké-body. But it’s still not a bad tech to run, and it can put certain players in a serious bind.
Running Mewtwo MD with this card is a no-brainer.
Trainers, supporters, and stadiums!
Looker’s Investigation/PONT/Copycat/Cynthia’s Feelings
The basic purpose of these is as hand refreshers. Because you can’t play all those trainers that SP and other decks do, a lot of VileGar players find hand refreshers are the best way to draw into what you need. PONT (Professor Oak’s New Theory) is the most basic of these, and a lot of people prefer it because it gets a reliable six cards. Looker’s gets you five, and Copycat and Cynthia’s are unreliable.
The idea behind Copycat, though, is that with the trainerlock rolling, your opponent’s hand will get larger and larger. Then, you can Copycat for a ton of cards and get what you need. Cynthia’s Feelings works the same way Twins does (I’ll go over that later) — Spiritomb is not difficult to knock out, and Gengar itself is a rather squishy Pokémon.
Looker’s Investigation is the way to go, though. Whether or not you include any of those above cards, include Looker’s Investigation. Not only is it a hand refresher, but you can disrupt your opponent. If your opponent has a great hand, have them shuffle it away. If it’s full of trainers, shuffle your own hand away and Poltergeist for insane amounts of damage. Even if neither of those happen and you have to shuffle your own hand away, you know what’s in your opponent’s hand.
You’re going to be sitting there all of early-game with a 60 HP basic out active, and you’ll actively be putting damage counters on said basic. The life of a Spiritomb is a rather short one indeed. So, one of the cons of VileGar is that you’ll start the game behind on prizes.
So turn that to your advantage. Search out a BTS and a Vileplume, or an Uxie and a psychic energy, or whatever else you need to slap down that trainerlock and get your ball rolling. The way I play, I usually don’t even get Vileplume set up until Spiritomb’s KO’d (make one of many exceptions for LuxChomp here). They KO Spiritomb, I send out Haunter/Gengar, play all my trainers, slap down that Vileplume, and cap it off with Cynthia’s Feelings/Twins to get myself even more situated.
It isn’t strictly necessary in VileGar, but I run two of them to much success.
The biggest use for Seeker is to scoop up damaged Gengars and BTS them back down for a quick full heal. The second-biggest use for a Seeker is to scoop up a Vileplume, play all your trainers, and then BTS it back down. And that doesn’t even include scooping up useless Azelfs/Spiritombs to free space for more Gengars, reusing Uxies early-game, etc.
If you can catch your opponents off-guard, you can even use Seeker to force your opponent to pick up an important Pokémon and then Lost Zone it with Gengar Prime. And if your opponent has only one Pokémon on the bench, Seeker it back up and then KO your opponent’s active for a pseudo-donk.
Obviously, keep an eye on what your opponent will be picking up with your Seeker. It’s an amazingly versatile card that you should be running at least two of. Never more than three, though, because then it’ll clog all of your opening hands.
Now, you might be thinking, “What!? Trainers in a trainerlock deck!?” But that’s exactly the sort of thinking that’ll get you destroyed by a speedy-ish VileGar (as opposed to slow as a glacier) or have you run sub-par VileGar lists. Your strategy revolves around getting not one, but two Stage Twos out before attacking. Why wouldn’t you be running Rare Candy?
You could also surprise your opponents with Gengar Primes using Rare Candy. Lost zone key Pokémon and your opponent won’t be able to do a thing.
The idea behind running trainers in VileGar is to speed it up, obviously. I always run two Pokémon Communication in my VileGar deck. If I get it early, I can speed-setup to solidify my position, and if someone’s bright enough to leave a DGX out on the field, I can easily dump my hand of them, get myself situated, and level down the Dialga. On top of that, it’s a great way to recover if your Vileplume dies. So I’d strongly recommend playing Pokémon Communication and other trainers in your VileGar decks. Experiment and see what works out for you.
Aaaand, the rest of ’em.
I shouldn’t need to explain Bebe’s Search (and possible Pokémon Communication), Broken Time-Space, or Pokémon Collector. Run four Bebe’s, two or three BTS, and three or four Collector (depending on whether or not you use Call Energy). Palmer’s Contribution might also not be a bad idea, though I dropped it in favor of more Rescue Energy a loooong time ago.
There are few things more annoying than finally KOing your opponent’s Gengar SF, watching that coin flip heads, and then watching that exact same Gengar slapped back on your opponent’s bench the next turn, ready to attack again. (Though, I suppose, the constant trainerlock itself is pretty annoying, too.) You can put it on your Vileplumes so they have to KO the dratted thing not once, but twice (and possibly three times).
Easily one of the best cards to come from Triumphant. I don’t run Palmer’s Contribution anymore, so this card is a godsend for me.
An object of huge debate, Call Energy may or may not be one of the most important cards in your deck. There was a time when you’d run four Call Energy without thinking about it, but that time’s over. If you’re running Pokémon Collector to grab three basic Pokémon out of your deck, why waste your time (and turns) with Call Energy?
The difference between VileGar and the rest of this speed-intensified metagame is that VileGar truly is a setup deck. What are you going to do with your Spiritombs if you have nothing to evolve? What are you going to do with your lone Oddish or Unown Q if you’re stuck going first?
Run three or four of these as a supplement to Pokémon Collector. Or run four Collector. It’s all up to you. Don’t forget that your Gengars are using rather energy-heavy attacks, and Call Energy can easily come in handy later on in fulfilling colorless energy requirements.
I shouldn’t even need to explain this. What are you going to do when your Vileplume is Bright Looked/Luring Flamed, or if your Spiritomb is stuck active? It’s also great for leveling up Uxie without having it stuck active.
The big difference in what people thought about VileGar and what it really is is in how you play it. The big thing I’ve learned (the hard way, I might add) from early City Championships is that Poltergeist is one of the most unreliable attacks in the metagame. Just because your opponent has a hand of twenty doesn’t mean there’s a single trainer in there. (I’ve Poltergeisted hands upwards of nine-ten cards for only thirty damage, before. That sort of thing makes me very unhappy.)
So what do you do? Take advantage of all the flexibility Gengar offers you. Not just Gengar SF. Gengar AR (As far as I’m concerned, Cursegar is the only Gengar AR in existence), Gengar Prime, Gengar Lv.X… Most lists running three Gengar SF and one Lv.X are going to do rather poorly.
And don’t forget the rule that everyone seems to forget all the time: Learn from the past. Past Gengar decks worked well for a reason. Gengar SF was popular long before Vileplume existed. And even without Vileplume, a trainerlocking Gengar deck isn’t any sort of a novel idea at all. The way I see it, CurseGar is the precursor to VileGar, and we should pay attention to that past deck’s successes.
Anyhoo. On to how to play the deck.
There are basically two ways you should set up with this deck. The first is where you sit behind Spiritomb and Darkness Grace your Gengar and Vileplume up. Standard stuff. The second is where you sit behind a Pitch-Darking Gastly while you set up your Pokémon using trainers/supporters.
The first is the most reliable method, given that Pitch Dark can’t stop Power Spray, and lets you evolve your Pokémon more easily. The second lets you use trainers and Rare Candy your active Gastly to a Gengar to set up more quickly, and sometimes even get a donk. Cons obviously include the Gastly getting KO’d, so it’s best to use that method if you don’t mind losing a Gastly.
PokeBeachWhat I end up doing a lot is walling behind a Spiritomb until my opponent makes the first move. I don’t even set up the Vileplume — I’ll keep the whole line (plus a BTS) in my hand, or I’ll just leave it as a Gloom without evolving it fully. (Insert an exception here to LuxChomp and DialgaChomp.)
If my opponent KO’s the Spiritomb, I promote Gengar (or Haunter or Gastly), play all the trainers I need to play, slap a Vileplume on the table, use Twins or Cynthia’s to get myself even further situated, and then start Poltergeisting/Shadow Rooming my way to victory.
Now, obviously, there’s more to it than that. And that’s what you are for. Go out there, do some playtesting! Learn how to use the deck, and what to do against other decks! I’m not going to do all the work for you!
Some common matchup guidelines
The thing I love about VileGar is that it fills the niche that DialgaChomp filled last season: It doesn’t have any bad matchups. Obviously, some are worse than others, but VileGar still has a good chance at winning every game you play, barring a terrible start. So here are some guidelines on what to do to get started.
(Win ratios are educated guesses at best. Feel free to disagree with me.)
This matchup more or less goes down to a coin flip. It’s not as terrible of a matchup as people say it is, but it is a pretty terrible matchup. Looker’s Investigation is one of your best friends in this matchup — use it to scout out and/or shuffle away Power Sprays so you can Level Down their DGX. There are two different strategies you can take with this. The first one is to get Gengar Prime out and hope to heck that you’re able to Lost Zone that DGX before it ever hits the field.
The other strategy is to get the Vileplume/Gengar SF combo set up ASAP. Take some quick KO’s with Shadow Room and Poltergeist while setting up Gengar AR in the meanwhile. Gengar AR will give you a consistent damage output, given that Poltergeist will do little to nothing once your opponent gets DGX out and dumps his/her hand of trainers.
Your opponent will be petrified of KOing your Gengar SF in fear of invoking Fainting Spell on their main attacker, and Rescue Energy will help immensely with that. Keep your Gengar X ready, but only play it when the time is right. Catch your opponent off-guard with Level Down or with the extra 30 HP.
Set up the Vileplume/Gengar SF combo and Rescue Energy the Vileplume if you have to. And don’t forget to be extra-careful when setting up — you never know when that Garchomp X will pop up out of nowhere and KO your Haunter or Gloom. Keep Warp Energies handy because this is (obviously) the matchup where your Vileplume is most vulnerable.
Lost Zoning Luxray X’s and teched DGX’s is always an option if you run Gengar Prime. Otherwise, Poltergeist your way to KO’s or Shadow Room Uxies/Azelfs/SP Lv.X’s. Another fun thing to do is to Level Down Garchomp X’s before you KO them. If they run a 2-2 Garchomp, this’ll actually hurt them more than it will help them because then they’ll end up with basic-less Garchomp X’s and they can’t just Aaron’s both of them out of the discard pile.
This matchup can either be a cakewalk or a major pain in the neck, depending on the LuxChomp build and your luck in setting up. I got destroyed five times in a row by JWittz in playtesting, and then proceeded to win against a bunch of LuxChomps, a Sablelock, and a DialgaChomp at actual tournaments.
Avoid the donk. That’s step one.
Then, get Vileplume set up ASAP. Be careful of Sableye Overconfident-KOing your Spiritombs and crippling your setup that way. Gengar isn’t that important at this point — Vileplume is. The sooner you get your trainerlock rolling, the better. And then, once you’ve got a proper trainerlock going, it isn’t difficult to Poltergeist/Shadow Room your way to victory.
Be very careful of the actual Sablelock, though. That’s why I run four Collectors and a bunch of other ways to grab an Uxie if I have to. Judge really hurts.
Gyarados: 60-40 to 80-20
Depends entirely on your build and the Gyarados player’s knowledge of the VileGar matchup. There are a lot of different strategies I’ve seen to counter VileGar, including having a Gyarados swinging for only 60 damage, and then dropping a second Gyarados swinging for 90 once the first one goes. Seeker makes it easy to reuse Combee, too, and teched DGX’s help the matchup immensely.
However, constant trainerlock HURTS. Regice can easily discard unwanted trainers, but not being able to use Pokémon Rescue can seriously hamper this deck.
Option number one, like always, is Lost Zoning key Pokémon. I don’t like this strategy as much, because you’ll need to Lost Zone two ‘Karps to actually do anything. Ninety percent of the time, a Gyarados swinging for 60 will do just as much as a Gyarados swinging for 90. It still takes two hits to KO a Gengar.
First priority is to make sure there are two Spiritomb on the field at all times during setup. Regi Move is incredibly annoying and can easily dump their hand of trainers. Next, set up Gengar AR, not Gengar SF. It’s very easy to Poltergeist for thirty damage despite your opponent’s massive hand in the Gyarados matchup.
Once Gengar AR is out, though, getting through Gyarados is incredibly simple. Shadow Skip for 60, Curse that 10 damage onto Gyarados, and then Shadow Skip for a KO. If they try to get around you with Rescue Energy, Shadow Skip, Shadow Skip, and then Curse to bypass the Rescue Energy. Use random Pokémon you don’t really need as a wall for Gengar AR until you get a Gengar SF set up. Once you do, you can just wall with Gengar SF, keeping Fainting Spell as annoying as ever, and heal it with Seeker or reuse it with Rescue Energy.
Mirror Matchup: 50-50
This one also comes down to a coin flip. Set up your Haunters, and keep them there. Only evolve to Gengar SF when you have to, or when you will have the upper hand by having the first Gengar. Because what’s going to happen immediately afterward is your opponent will evolve to Gengar SF and start the Shadow Room war.
Basically, whoever wins the Shadow Room war wins the game. Whoever has the last Gengar SF standing wins. Rescue Energy does nothing. Fainting Spell does nothing. It’s all about Shadow Room. Make sure to use Seeker to heal damaged Gengars to ensure you’re the last one standing.
This is the matchup where Ditto shines. Send it out to get that last KO and leave your opponent without a Gengar.
Set up Vileplume and Gengar SF. Poltergeist your way to victory. ‘Nough said.
Against all other decks, I suggest setting up Gengar AR. Or, Gengar SF to Shadow Room for cheap KO’s and then set up Gengar AR in the back. Gengar AR is far more reliable than Gengar SF, and you never know if you’re facing a battle-hardened rogue or just a new player who hasn’t learned the importance of trainers/supporters.
That’s about all I have to say about VileGar. Sorry for not getting this out sooner when it was much more relevant, but thanks for reading!