How to School the Competition – VileGar

Since its release in the 2008-09 season, Gengar has never been the best deck in the format. Sure, it’s done well at a number of tournaments over the past couple of seasons, but nothing compared to decks that have dominated season after season; decks such as SP or even the never-to-be-seen-again-after-2009 FlyChamp (it’s true, since January 1st, 2010, I have never played a single FlyChamp).

There are a lot of things you could blame Gengar’s under-performance on. You could say it was Unown G, which made the Pokémon it was attached to immune to “Shadow Room.” Perhaps it was because “Fainting Spell” relied on a coin flip, making it unreliable. You could even go as far as saying it was because of Gengar’s low 110 HP.

However, I think that most would agree the reason Gengar was hasn’t done as well as say, LuxChomp, is because every aspect of the card can be countered, or at least controlled, in some way by your opponent.

Fainting Spell – Use a combination of Uxie’s “Psychic Restore”, “Flash Bite” drops and Poison.

Shadow Room – Keep from benching a lot of Azelfs, Uxies, Smeargles, etc.

Poltergeist – Keep Trainers out of your hand either playing them, shuffling them away (via Judge, Bebe’s Search) or discarding them (via Regice, Volkner’s Philosophy, Junk Arm).

With the release of Undaunted came Gengar’s most powerful ally, one that could really give Gengar a good shot at the gold. That card was Vileplume. Vileplume’s attack was nothing special, but its Poké-Body, “Allergy Flower,” made it stand out from the crowd. It prevents both players from playing any Trainer cards.

Like I said before, almost every aspect of Gengar can be countered or made less-threatening by your opponent. However, by locking your opponent’s Trainer cards, you make it much more difficult for your opponent to play around Gengar, making it much more powerful.

Nowadays, VileGar is one of the most successful decks in the format. A good VileGar player will be doing three things throughout each match he/she plays:

1) Ensuring a Trainer Lock lasts throughout the game

2) Keeping a constant stream of Gengars ready for battle

3) Preparing in case their Trainer Lock is broken

Match Ups

Now, the reason you’re all reading this article: the match up guide. Here, I will discuss situational technicalities, strategies that work well in a particular match up, helpful rules of thumb as well as a variety of ways to outplay your opponent. Let’s get started!

VS LuxChomp

pokebeach.comWhen you’re playing against LuxChomp, one of the biggest factors that decides who will win are the techs your opponent is playing. If they’re running a 1-1 Dialga G or 1-1 Blaziken FB line, you’re looking at a much more difficult match up than if they aren’t running such cards. There aren’t many techs that a VileGar player can run to counter LuxChomp, which is why the match hinges so heavily on what your opponent is running.

Whenever you’re playing against a deck which includes Luxray GL LV.X, Blaziken FB, Froslass GL, or any other Pokémon that can drag your Vileplume to the Active Spot, you want to stockpile Warp Energy in your hand.

In addition, it is a good idea to have an Unown Q ready (so when you run out of Warp Energies to attach, you can just discard one to retreat instead of two). A single Warp Energy along with an Unown Q will allow you to get Vileplume out of the active slot twice for a single turn’s Energy attachment, which is very efficient.

When you’re up against “draggers”, do your best to KO them quickly as to prevent wasting Energy attachments getting Vileplume back to your bench. Also, if it keeps getting dragged up, there will very likely be times where it will be receiving damage, so it is crucial that Vileplume stays on the bench where it belongs.

When you’re constructing your deck, you may wonder which Oddish and Gloom you should play. You should be using Oddish LA-112 and Gloom UD. The thing that may confuse you about my Gloom choice is that its attack, “Miracle Powder”, costs GC. Despite my not being able to use its attack, this is a much better play based on its stats. Gloom LA-96 only has 70 HP and the LA-97 has two Retreat Cost, so the one from Undaunted is a better play. The situation with the different Oddish in the format is similar.

However, on the flip side, if you suspect you’ll run into an Umbreon deck, it may be a good idea to run 1 Gloom that can attack (I know, the attacks are terrible, but that is better than nothing). It won’t win you the match, but it CAN help.

One nice move that I like to do when I have a Vileplume set up is to use Seeker to pick it up. Then, I can use one or two crucial Trainer cards. Then, after I have used my Trainers, I use Broken Time-Space to get the entire Vileplume line up and running again. It’s a very sneaky move!

Have you ever heard the saying “Don’t run away from your Creditors”? This saying applies to when you’re in debt and get behind on your payments, your Creditors will start calling because they want their money! If Gengar’s “Fainting Spell” is a Creditor, your opponent wants to run as far away as possible.

The most common way your opponent will try to avoid “Fainting Spell” is to use Crobat G’s “Flash Bite” in combination with Seekers/Super Scoop Ups/TGI Poké Turns to Knock Gengar Out. Another common way is to reduce Gengar’s HP to 20, then use Uxie to KO it. Yet another way that is commonly used is to KO Gengar by means of Poison by Pokémon such as Crobat Prime, Skuntank G, etc.

If you’ve ever played a straight Gengar deck (during the ’10-11 season), you’ll know that they have a few strengths VileGar doesn’t. The biggest strength they have is their ability to recover Gengars much faster than you can because they can run ~3 Rare Candy. In addition, because they aren’t forced to run Warp Energies (or even Call Energies, for that matter), they can run a heavy count of 3-4 Rescue Energy, which is MASSIVE in keeping Gengars coming one after another.

Since VileGar doesn’t as powerful recovery as its non-Trainer locking counterpart, it is important you keep the Trainer Lock up and running. If you don’t, your deck just becomes a weak Gengar deck (thinner Gengar line, no Trainers to help you). There is very little hope you will win.

If LuxChomp gets at least a some-what good start, they can somewhat function under Trainer lock and get in a few KOs. However, before long, they will run out of steam because they cannot get what they need when they need it. It’s at this time that, unless you get some terrible luck, the match is yours.

The other notable edge that Gengar looses when paired with Vileplume is the ability to 1HKO Crobat Gs, Uxies, Azelfs and other such Pokémon. Why is this? Because straight Gengar has a lot more room. VileGar can play one or two Crobat G along with a few Seeker (I won’t even mention the four TGI Poké Turn that most run), whereas VileGar usually cannot run more than 1-2 Crobat G’s and a couple of Seekers (I strongly urge all VileGar players to run a minimum of two Seeker).

VS DialgaChomp

This entire match is basically a TGI Power Spray war. Your opponent will try to get a Dialga G LV.X in play so they can use their Trainer cards. This is why 99.99% of VileGar players run a Gengar LV.X. With its “Level-Down” Poké-Power, Gengar LV.X can shuffle Dialga G LV.X back into your opponent’s deck, thus restoring the Trainer lock.

“Level-Down”, like all other Poké-Powers, as long as there isn’t a Trainer lock in effect (which there won’t when Dialga G LV.X is in play), can be Power Sprayed. One route they will most likely go down is to get a Dialga G LV.X on their bench, then use Garchomp C LV.X to 2HKO Vileplume, thus breaking them free of the Trainer Lock permanently.

A good way to help give you an edge in the DialgaChomp match is to run a couple of Trainers. I suggest running one or two. Three can be a little high, but some decks can support it. Most people will run a Luxury Ball and perhaps a Rare Candy. While I agree with Rare Candy being a good option, I believe Pokémon Communication to be superior to Luxury Ball.

If Dialga G LV.X is in play during your turn, it is most likely caused by one of two things:

1) Your opponent has Power Spray(s) to block “Level Down

2) You don’t have Gengar LV.X in play

While Luxury Ball is certainly one of the most powerful Trainers the game has ever seen, I think Pokémon Communication will work better. Also, one other aspect that makes it easier to use is the high Pokémon count that most VileGar players use (It would be a very strange list if it’s Pokémon count went below twenty), it will help to alleviate Pokémon Communication’s downside.

When you’re playing against DialgaChomp, you will typically want to be more aggressive than not. I’m not suggesting burn your entire hand to get a Gengar with two Energy in play, but it’s probably a good idea to focus slightly more on Gengar than Vileplume. This is because if your opponent gets a Dialga G LV.X in play, Vileplume will be useless, whereas Gengar can actually be of some help to you. Also, Gengar will be needed to get Gengar LV.X in play, which is a key card for this match up.

Looker’s Investigation drops can win or lose you the match. If your opponent uses TGI Poké Turn to pick up their Dialga G LV.X (this will probably be because they have little or no TGI Power Sprays or useful Trainers to play next turn). As soon as they pick up Dialga, it is probably a good move to use Looker’s Investigation to shuffle away those cards. More often than not, your opponent won’t be able to get another one set up for a couple of turns while Vileplume/Spiritiomb is locking their Trainers.

pokebeach.comOne way to make Vileplume much more difficult to Knock Out is to attach a Rescue Energy to it. While it won’t stop Dialga G, it will make it much more difficult for your opponent to use Garchomp C LV.X to KO it as Oddish, Gloom and Vileplume will be returned to your hand. You can then use Broken Time-Space to lay out the full set again (before you do, check to see if you have any Trainers in your hand that could benefit you).

I have seen some players repeatedly use “Shadow Room” to put damage counters on your opponent’s benched Dialga G LV.X in hopes of Knocking it Out before they get the Level Up. This is a terrible play, as it is almost impossible to Knock Out Dialga G LV.X because:

-If Garchomp C LV.X is put in play, “Healing Breath” could render 2-3 turns of attacks useless

-If your opponent needs to, they can use TGI Poké Turn to save it

-Since you are playing against DialgaChomp, the odds are quite high that they will be able to get another Dialga G LV.X in play

Instead, you’re better off using “Poltergeist” or “Shadow Room” on targets that you can actually get a 1HKO or 2HKO.

VS Machamp

Note: This assessment is mostly based on DonkChamp, or a similar Machamp build.

This should be one of your easiest match ups, but it is still important that you don’t go into it with a big head. Most of the top Machamp players are changing their decks to better withstand VileGar’s fury. While the odds are still in your favor, with a little bit of luck, your opponent has a great chance of claiming victory.

The first few turns of the game are a very accurate indicator in showing if the match will be close or you’ll blow them away. Their only hope of victory is to get a Turn 1 or 2 Machamp SF up and running and hope to overwhelm you before you can get a Gengar up and running. To do this, they’ll need to use Broken Time-Space or, if you don’t get a Gastly/Spiritomb, Rare Candy. I’ll be honest, there is very little you can do prevent this, whether this happens or not is mostly up to luck. However, if you’re the VileGar player, you should like your odds.

pokebeach.comIf you get an Oddish start and 6 P Energy in your hand, there’s not much that can be done about it. However, if it is a slightly more even match, there are a few things that can really go a long way toward swaying the match in your favor.

Let’s say that your opening hand consists of a Spiritomb, Gastly, Oddish, two P Energy, a Palmer’s Contribution and a Rescue Energy. You place the Spiritomb as your active Pokémon along with the Gastly and Oddish on your bench. Your opponent flips over a Machop. When you go to draw next turn, all you get is a useless Seeker.

So, when it’s time to use “Darkness Grace” do you try to keep the Trainer lock by searching for Gloom or get an attacker up and running by picking out a Haunter. You should definitely be getting a Haunter. Next turn, if your Spiritomb survives, you can have a Gengar up and running with two Energy.

In that example it should be some-what obvious as to what you should have searched for, there will be times when you aren’t sure what is the best call. While the correct will vary quite a bit by what on the field and in your hand, usually getting your attacker set up is a better play. After that, you can focus on setting up Vileplume.

After you get through those first few turns, the next couple of turns will be just as important. It is essential that you keep a constant stream of Gengar to combat their Machamps as well as making sure a Trainer lock is kept throughout the match. If you’re able to do these two things, most Machamp builds will quickly run out of steam and succumb to your wrath.

As long as you aren’t donked and can maintain those key elements I discussed(Get a Gengar up and running, then keep a Trainer Lock functioning), you should have very little trouble winning.

VS Mirror

pokebeach.comThe VileGar mirror match is very interesting, to say the least. One of the most important aspects to remember during the mirror match is that your opponent isn’t running many Trainers. While this should be obvious, even top players sometimes forget it. Since they are using a low Trainer count, it is a good idea to forget about Vileplume and focus on Gengar.

It is possible that getting a Vileplume set up could stop your opponent from using a Rare Candy or Luxury Ball, but in the grand scheme of things, you’re better off using those resources for other, more important tasks. Let your opponent get the Trainer lock and use up their resources instead of you using yours. One other thing to note is that if you get a Trainer Lock set up, you’ll be locked from your Trainer cards as well. Basically, all you’re doing with a Trainer lock is wasting resources and not gaining anything.

Just like Garchomp C LV.X is key during the SP mirror match, Gengar is vital during the mirror match as it is typically each deck’s sole attacker (apart from Uxie LV.X). The player who can keep Gengars flowing to the field turn after turn will most likely win the game, which is why it is important to devote all unnecessary resources to getting Gengars up.

While it is common knowledge that using “Shadow Room” to 2HKO Gengar gets around “Fainting Spell”, but you should also take note that it avoids Rescue Energy as well, which is very important in doing. If your opponent is able to save an entire Gengar line, they’ll get a dramatic advantage over you. If your opponent attaches a Rescue Energy to their Gengar, make sure you’re using “Shadow Room” to Knock it Out. The exception to this rule would be if you’re sure that a “Poltergeist” would get the Knock Out and you’re down to your last 1-2 Prize cards and are ahead by 2-3+ prizes.

pokebeach.comWatching your Looker’s Investigation drops is very important. While it isn’t as powerful as using Judge on a LuxChomp deck, playing a Looker’s at a key moment in the game can easily allow you to get ahead by a prize or two before they can get back into the game, which is often enough to win you the game.

The best way to tell if your opponent has anything good in their hand or not is to look at two things: Their hand size and what’s on the board. If you have a Gengar set up attacking, they have a benched Haunter and it’s been sitting there for two turns, it’s a good bet they don’t have a way to reach Gengar. In this case, you probably shouldn’t use Looker’s Investigation unless if you’re prepared to use it on your own hand in the case your opponent’s hand is terrible.

Finally, I would like to point out the importance of Uxie LV.X(yes, you should be running it). Since having a consistent way to ensure that you’re never left without a main attacker, it is vital that you get Uxie LV.X set up as quickly as possible. Being able to use a Pokédex Handy 910is each turn is a great asset that’s even better if you get it up and running early in the game.

VS Gyarados

I’ll start off my analysis on the Gyarados match up by stating what should be an obvious fact, but (way more often than it should) people forget/do. Don’t play down Broken Time-Space until YOU need it! Many times, I’ll see players drop down BTS for the heck of it. This can be a very costly mistake.

Whenever possible, your opponent will attempt to get Magicarp’s into their discard pile, drop down a Magicarp and a Broken Time-Space so they can attack with Gyarados straight away. However, sometimes your opponent will whiff on the BTS, and when they do, it is a big advantage for you. By no means am I suggesting that you shouldn’t play it when you need it, just don’t do so until you do.

pokebeach.comOne big thing that will take a long time to master is how to properly pace yourself during this match up. I’m not talking about overextending or anything like that (more will come on that later), but when to shift your resources from set up to attacking.

It is important that you take the match slow enough that you get set up, but not so slow that your opponent gets a big lead before you’re ready to go. Make sure you can get 1-2 Gengars ready to go along with a Vileplume and you should be good for a while.

Now is the other thing you’ll need to manage very effectively during not only this match up, but others as well and that is resources. You should rarely be using an Uxie for two cards or placing an Azelf down just to speed up your set-up by a turn. Pace yourself, overtime, it becomes like second nature as to when you need to be more aggressive and extend a bit and when you need to pull back and be more conservative.

Well, that’s most of the information that I have collected on VileGar and how to play some of its most common match ups. If you have any questions, write a comment below and I’ll be sure to get you an answer asap.

Until next time,

-Dakota Streck

Reader Interactions

7 replies

  1. Anonymous

    I disagree with you about the mirror. It is the most boring mirror I have ever played in my life. -.-

    What I usually do in the Gyarados matchup is to set up a Gengar AR. Shadow Skip, Curse, Shadow Skip KOs a Gyarados. If my opponent sticks a Rescue Energy on his Gyarados, Shadow Skip, Shadow Skip, and Curse takes care of it without much hassle. The key thing about CurseGar is that Gyarados players will often use Regice to discard all the trainers out of their hand, and Poltergeisting for only 60 damage on a 130HP Gyarados isn’t worth it at all.

    Great article, though.

  2. John

    Great article, just one thing though. Wasn’t GeChamp and Nidoqueen/Gengar pretty big too during their time. Even Speed gengar did fairly well. I think one of those 3 versions actually did better than the Vilegar we have now

    • steve McGann  → John

      You might be right i have heard a lot of mother-gengarbeing played again (gengar and nidoqueen.

    • Dakota Streck  → John

      Yeah, they did see play, but they weren’t Tier 1, which is what I was trying to say in the article. Also, I would argue that VileGar has done better than those three decks.

      GenQueen took 2nd place at worlds 2009 in the junior division as well, so yeah it did well, just not as good as VileGar has done this season.

  3. Anonymous

    good article. though mirrow for vilegar can get boring if you know how to play it. but im surprised to see how vilegar isnt doing as well as many people thought. ive seen many players constantly get vileplume and a engar set up turn 3 or turn 4. not at all that slow. almost can consitenctly bring up a vileplume t2.

  4. Sam Marshall-Smith

    Magicarp? Whats a Magicarp??? Good article though!

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