Hello and welcome to my very first SixPrizes article. I am known here and anywhere as Mekkah, and I’m an avid Pokémon TCG player even though the most recent cards I own are from a Neo Genesis booster pack and I have never played in a tournament in my life.
However, I’ve played a fair share online, using my circle of friends from another site as well as various Hamachi networks to find opponents. I am pretty confident that I know what I’m doing: I spend quite a lot of time building and testing almost every deck that I think has potential, and even some that I wrote off as terrible.
Last format, I had an easy time with that, since between the various SP decks, Gengar (with or without Vileplume), and Gyarados, all unfairly powerful in their own way, many rogues simply could not compete. That doesn’t mean it was impossible for them to do well at some tournaments, but I think we can all agree HGSS on is where creativity has a better chance to shine.
But before you can get really creative, it’s important that you understand your surroundings. Both the cards that could potentially accompany your inventive new deck idea, as well as the decks you could be facing. That’s why I’m doing (or at least making a start with) a type-by-type analysis of the HGSS-on format, highlighting both important techs and possible focuses of your deck.
Today’s type is perfect for demonstrating that, since the Grass department is filled to the brim with useful Pokémon, from starters to Bench-sitters to main attackers. I’m going to be starting with the supporting cast, since the amount of these in the format is incredibly vast, and it’s easier to realize a main attacker’s potential once we know how we can build it.
pokebeach.comGrass has various Pokémon that can be used to set up. You are probably all familiar with Cleffa right now, who is making a name for himself as the premiere starter for pretty much every deck. It’s not easy to match a free “Professor Oak’s New Theory” at the end of every turn, combined with a Poké-Body that protects itself while it’s Asleep, so let’s see if we should bother trying.
There is Heracross, who can use its “Green Draw” attack for GC, allowing you to draw a card for every Grass Pokémon in play. Not terrible, but having to wait until turn 2 to start drawing cards alone is pretty bad. Combine it with a 2 Retreat Cost making it less flexible than Cleffa, and not even having 50 more HP is going to save it.
Ledian has the same problem, its “Quick Draw” being everything but quick when you have to wait to evolve your Ledyba. You will probably expend more resources setting this up than you’ll be getting from your deck, even though it draws 3 cards every turn for just G.
No, the only Grass starter that you might want to give another look is Celebi Prime. We can completely ignore the ridiculously costed “Time Circle” attack, but the “Forest Breath” power is interesting. If Celebi is your Active Pokémon, you basically get an extra Energy attachment during your turn (as long as you’re using G Energy, of course).
Last format, we had the delicious Unown Q to negate the Retreat Cost. We could hop this guy in and out of the Active Spot to stop opponents from exploiting its 60 HP, but right now it is probably best to leave it there until your opponent shoves it aside. Or you can use Dodrio (UD-11) and its “Retreat Aid”, but I think that’s putting too much effort into a simple set-up Pokémon.
Celebi Prime is a decent way to accelerate Energy, and will be moderately useful for speeding up some of the heavier guns of the Grass-type. But we can’t set up a strong attacker with Energy alone: we need the Pokémon cards to use them. You could try Tropius (UL), and its “Green Call” attack. For the low cost of G, you flip two coins, and for each heads you get to search out one Grass Pokémon.
pokebeach.comBut if you want real searching power, you have to look into the direction of Bench-sitters. By far the best one (in my opinion) is Sunflora. Like a real sunflower, you shouldn’t really expect it to do anything offensively, but if you just place it out of range of your opponent’s attacker it makes for an incredible support Pokémon (and it will be looking pretty for longer that way).
The “Sunshine Grace” Power allows you to search your deck for any Grass Pokémon, every single turn you have the thing there.
Personally, I like to use my first Sunflora to set up a second one, allowing me to thin my deck and get my other evolutions out at an alarming rate. Don’t do this if you expect to ditch your entire hand with Professor Juniper though, that is just a waste of solar power. And we all know we can’t have that in this age of global warming.
Nothing really matches Sunflora’s searching power, so in combination with your starter of choice and plenty of searching Trainers, you should be able to get your ‘mons out.
Now, most main attackers of the Grass-type are really big in every possible sense. Large HP, huge Retreat Cost, their attacks are rather expensive and deal quite a bit of damage. So you might want to find a way to keep them alive for longer than a few times, since there is no fun in spending all that time setting them up only to have to sacrifice or retreat them and wasting all your efforts (but if you’re into wasted effort, I recommend just attacking with Sunflora).
There are lots of Grass Pokémon who have healing attacks. You could say it’s their signature trait, especially since the Grass Arceus (no longer legal) has an attack that heals the bench. Unfortunately, using an attack to heal 2 or 3 damage counters on another Pokémon generally isn’t a great idea in a constructed format.
You will usually end up taking more damage than you heal every turn, dealing little (if any) damage in return, and you will often have to fiddle around with Switches or wasting Energy attachments to get it all in motion.
pokebeach.comSo what we’re looking for are Pokémon that can heal without needing to attack. The only one that really qualifies is the Serperior with the “Royal Heal” ability, which removes one damage counter from each of your Pokémon between turns. There’s also Cherrim with the Sunny Heal Poké-Power, but that’s only one damage counter, and only from your Active.
Its only advantage over Serperior is being a Stage 1 rather than a Stage 2, but considering we have Sunflora available, and quite probably Rare Candy, I believe it’s the best First Aid Kit you can get. When combined with Reuniclus’s “Damage Swap”, used to spread the damage from your Active over your bench, you can heal up to 60 damage with this every turn. Talk about ridiculous.
But even the best First Aid can’t help an incinerated Grass Pokémon. The weakness to Fire wasn’t as big of a deal before Black and White came out, but now that Reshiram and Emboar have entered the arena, you can wave your chances of tanking goodbye as 240 damage from Reshiram’s “Blue Flare” is simply too much to deal with.
Enter Metapod: its Green Shield Poké-Body negates any and all weaknesses on your Grass Pokémon, including Fire. Blue Flare might still do a lot, but at least you can no longer be Knocked Out as easily by the weaker attacks in Fire decks (such as Reshiram’s “Outrage” and Typhlosion’s “Flare Destroy”), forcing them to bring the bigger guns and using more resources.
Any Grass deck that works with a tanking mechanism should be running a Metapod line. Don’t worry about evolving it to Butterfree, it’s not worth it.
If you do end up with a heavily injured tank, you will be up the creek without a paddle since it seems no matter what you do, you will end up losing a lot of hard work. Whether you scoop it up with Seeker or Super Scoop Up, pay the Retreat Cost and have it sit on the bench, use Blissey Prime to heal it, or simply let it take one for the team to buy you time to get the next one in, you will be a few steps behind.
The major issue here isn’t the evolution line per sé, thanks to Sunflora being able to dig these out of your deck. But the Energy attachments that allowed you to use that expensive attack will often go to waste.
pokebeach.comThis is where you may be interested in moving your Energy from one Pokémon to another, and Grass happens to have two legal Pokémon that do just that: Meganium Prime, and Shaymin. The former is a descendent of the Venusaur from Base Set, allowing you to move as many G Energy as you like during your turn as long as you have this guy in play.
The latter is a one-time deal: the moment you drop it on your bench, you get to move any kind of Energy around, until you say you’re done and make your next move. From there, you will need to drop another, or scoop up this one in order to do it again.
The next bench-sitting tech is the mother of them all: Vespiquen. Instead of supporting your active, she keeps your bench safe from being sniped with her “Defense Sign” Poké-Body. Theoretically, if you have a beastly high HP monster sitting in the Active Spot, you would think they will go after your bench instead.
But sniping isn’t too common, and most snipers that are left in the format just don’t have the firepower to KO something like Sunfora or Metapod. Your main worry would be the Water snipe decks (either Blastoise or Suicune & Entei LEGEND, accelerated by Floatzel or Feraligatr Prime), so if you have trouble with those I recommend trying this one out.
But the weaker snipes such as Yanmega Prime’s “Linear Attack” and Crobat Prime’s “Skill Dive” will only kill the likes of Hoppip and Cleffa, the former of which you should be evolving as soon as possible, and the latter can’t even be protected by Vespiquen. And don’t forget that Vespiquen’s basic form Combee is every bit as vulnerable as these two, so it might be hard to get her out to begin with if your start isn’t significantly better than your opponent’s.
Roserade should not be overlooked, even if you aren’t running a Grass deck. “Energy Signal” is the closest thing this format has to Crobat G drops (barring PlusPower), allowing you to reliably put an extra damage counter on their Active by Poisoning them.
pokebeach.comIt does use up your Energy attachment for the turn, but keep in mind Roserade can actually pay for this by himself (or herself, I suppose) since “Power Blow” is actually likely to get a kill or two when loaded, getting stronger with every drop.
I am assuming that you’re hooking it up with Rainbow Energy, of course, since P Energy is generally not a good idea in Grass decks (don’t say “Time Circle”). I’m not just saying that to make Roserade look better: the additional effect of Confusing them is too good to pass up, forcing them to retreat, find a Switch, or flip a coin.
I’m going to mention one more tech that I don’t necessarily think works best for Grass decks, but Grass decks are better at getting it out thanks to Sunflora (and to a lesser extend Tropius), so I didn’t want to leave them out. I am, of course, talking about Vileplume. Trainer lock was crazy last format, with all those Team Galactic Inventions and draw Trainers around. Right now, there isn’t much left, at least not compared to them.
But still, Vileplume will prevent both trainers from using Pokémon Communication, Dual Ball, Rare Candy, Switch, Energy Retrieval, Junk Arm, PlusPower, Super Scoop Up, Pokémon Reversal, Research Record, Victory Medal, the many different healing cards (Moomoo Milk, Life Herb, and our slightly boosted Potion), and a few more. Locking these is obviously a double-edged sword, since every single one in your own deck will become a dead-draw once Vileplume is out, but not using them will slow down your set-up.
At the very least, you can use Sunflora as a substitute for many of the search and draw cards, and hopefully you will be able to capitalize on the advantage. If you can get it out versus your worst matchup (Emboar), locking out their Energy Retrievals might just give you the edge you need to overcome them. Emphasis on might.
So, that’s a lot of talk about the support of your deck. The cheerleaders, the fans, the medics, but what about the team itself? What Pokémon are going to be searched out by Sunflora, accelerated by Celebi, and kept alive by Metapod? Those five Bench spaces will be easy to fill, but what are you going to use to take the beatings in the Active Spot?
pokebeach.comLet’s start with a typical Grass tank: Tangrowth. Poor thing saw both its own LV.X as well as Shaymin’s leave the format. The additional rotation of Expert Belt leaves with “only” 110 HP. That’s not enough to survive a hit from Reshiram or Zekrom, which is a poor start.
At first sight, Tangrowth’s own “oomph” isn’t too spectacular: “Grind” is vanilla damage, 20 per any kind of Energy, starting at the lowest price possible of C, with the sky being the limit.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that the pre-evolved form, Tangela, has a pretty decent 70 HP, and its own Energy acceleration in “Nutritional Support”, attaching a single G Energy from your deck to a Pokémon of your choice. That means you don’t necessarily have to whip out Celebi to boost Grind to reasonable levels.
“Plow Over” costs GCC and only does 30 damage, which is half of what Grind would do at this point. It also says “flip a coin”, at which point several investors are already leaving the room. But before you’re out of that door, notice how it has a beneficial effect whether you flip heads or tails.
Both paralysis and taking away an Energy card are effects that you generally need to see the right side of the coin for: having them in one attack seems pretty marvellous.
However, cool effects or not, 30 damage isn’t going to cut it, so Tangrowth should try to take advantage of the potential high damage output of Grind. Whether you find it good enough, I’ll leave up to you to decide.
From my testing, I’ve found that Tangrowth has an easy time gaining momentum and sweeping the board if the opponent can’t set up too well…but the moment they got their hard-hitter going, that 110 HP isn’t enough, and a fresh Tangrowth is going to take a bit to set up.
Torterra’s 140 HP is more like it. “Land Crush” does exactly as much as Tangrowth’s Grind would if you were to attach exactly the same amount of Energy, but Torterra also has its own healing attack in “Giga Drain”. Most of the time, that’s going to be putting 4 counters on them and removing 4 of yours, for the cost of GCC.
Durable for sure, but 40 damage isn’t going to get us anywhere. Without Cherrim from Stormfront or Expert Belt to power it up, I’m afraid Torterra’s days are counted.
I think that if you are looking for the real Grass tank of that format, you’re going to have to take another look at Meganium Prime. I know I already looked at it as a Bench-sitting tech, but we’re running low on options here, and compared to previous candidates Meganium suddenly doesn’t look so mediocre anymore.
It matches the attacking power: “Solarbeam” does 80 for 3 Energy attachments as long as one of them is a Double Colorless Energy. It provides an easy way of healing because of “Leaf Trans” (read up a little if you forgot already), and it’s not going to get 1-shotted with its 150 HP as long as you set up that Metapod.
Meganium Prime/Blissey Prime is a deck that I have been testing a little, mostly in last format. While its insane durability cannot be disputed, you have to realize that a card with this much attacking cost and relatively low damage output will allow your opponent to develop their own field, and probably the ways to disrupt Meganium.
Remember that Meganium getting Burned or Poisoned will stop you from using Leaf Trans as well as cutting its lifespan short.
I asked the next candidate to come in, but I see no more stereotypical beefy Grass types in our format. The verdict is that while they are viable, they’re not as strong as you could hope for. Grass is a spoiled type, with Shaymin LV.X, the various Cherrim forms and Expert Belt still fresh in its memory.
pokebeach.comSo if you want to have a Grass tank deck, I recommend you use Meganium Prime to see how it works for you. And if you find the damage output too low, maybe you should check out one of the other Grass decks. Or perhaps another type altogether.
Let’s look into the more offensively inclined Grass Pokémon. The quintessential offensive Grasser is obviously Jumpluff. This deck has been in the format for quite a while now, making quite a showing for itself on the tournament stage until someone took Claydol away from it.
Jumpluff’s “Mass Attack” has the potential to deal up to 120 damage as long as both players have filled their Bench, and all of that for a simple G Energy.
The low attacking cost and the way the attack’s damage is determined encourage the Jumpluff player to swarm the Jumpluffs, throwing one after the other at the opponent. This isn’t just a cool play to make where I say “if you could do this, that’d help”.
No, it’s a necessity, because Jumpluff’s 90 HP is extremely low (especially for a Stage 2), and bound to get 1-shotted by everything that gets fully set up. For that reason, I recommend running a thick Sunflora line and setting two of them up on your Bench (remember that you can chain them), using Sunshine Grace to get the next Jumpluff in line ready before the previous one is Knocked Out.
Metapod is less of a priority for a Jumpluff deck since Reshiram can 1HKO it regardless, but like with the other Grassers, it forces your opponent to use Blue Flare instead of Outrage, Flare Destroy, Heat Crash, etc. So I still recommend running a 1-1 line at the very least.
Jumpluff is light in every sense, the opposite of what you’d expect from a Grass type. It is frail, attacks for cheap, and even has free Retreat Cost. I’ve used Jumpluff quite a bit, and from what I can tell it’s fast enough to get going before most Stage 2 decks do.
However, its speed and recovery were crippled with the Rare Candy nerf and the leave of Broken Time-Space, and the low HP values of Hoppip, Sunkern and Caterpie combine nicely with Cleffa’s to make for a deck that might have to give up some cheap prizes to the weakest of attacks before it can start evolving.
Don’t knock it before you tried it though, and remember to make use of Rescue Energy or Flower Shop Lady for that 5th or 6th Jumpluff (you will obviously never need more than that unless you plan on retreating). Remember to attack with Leaf Guard when you can for a slight increase in durability, perhaps use Pokémon Reversal to drag up their Cleffa to kill multiple birds with one stone.
You might think that Cinccinno is going to replace Jumpluff, or maybe vice versa at some point. Personally, I see them as pretty different Pokémon that can actually work well together if you want them to, especially since Jumpluff resists Fighting whereas Cinccinno is weak to it.
It’s a matter of preference to me: whereas Jumpluff takes an extra card to get out (be it Skiploom or Rare Candy), Cinccinno requires Double Colorless Energy or two attachments. Jumpluff has all these Grass support options, but does have to worry about the opponent keeping his Bench small and limiting its own damage output.
Next is Leafeon, who is every bit as cheap and frail as Jumpluff. However, Leafeon is slightly better off because it’s a Stage 1, and the Eevee you should be using (UD-48) has 50 HP and is able to search out a Basic to put on the Bench instantly.
In addition, the attack you should be basing an attack around, “Miasma Wind”, doesn’t even require a specific kind of Energy, allowing you to make use of Rescue Energy. The perfect partner in crime for Leafeon is the Roserade discussed earlier, which allows you to deal 100 damage on every turn you drop a Rainbow Energy.
pokebeach.comOther plausible partners include Houndoom Prime (50% chance of inflicting a Burn every turn it’s on the Bench with “Fire Breath”), Hypno (50% chance of inflicting a Sleep every turn it’s on the Bench with “Sleep Pendulum”), and Muk (“Sludge Drag” pulls up one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon and inflicts Confusion and Poison, perfect for Emboar and Typhlosion).
Remember that your opponent’s Active can only have one of the three attack-impeding status conditions (Sleep, Confusion, Paralysis), so you don’t waste your time overriding status.
While it’s not a Grass Pokémon, you should definitely keep Umbreon in mind. You are already using Rainbow Energy, and might not even need more than a few G Energies (Leafeon’s “Soothing Scent” isn’t very useful), so there’s no reason not to include one of these.
It makes for a great wall against Pokémon such as Donphan Prime, Machamp Prime, Typhlosion Prime, and Lanturn Prime. It won’t win you the game by itself, but it can buy you enough time to fill your bench with Leafeon and status inflictors.
Leafeon/Roserade is an interesting deck I haven’t tested yet for HGSS on. The constant status hurling is a massive pain by itself, especially if you’re running a deck with high Retreat Cost Pokémon such as Blastoise and Tyranitar Prime.
But Miasma Wind is unreliable on a turn by turn basis, and fairly weak when you’re not inflicting at least two status conditions. Combined with the low HP of both Leafeon and Roserade, you will find it’s hard to keep up the strong heavy hitting for all your 6 Prizes.
The last quick Grass-type we have left is Yanmega Prime, whose “Insight” Poké-Body eliminates the need to pay Energy for its attacks as long as you and your opponent have the same hand size. This makes Yanmega an extremely splashable tech that has found its way into many, many decks, usually to supply a Fighting resistance to a deck that would otherwise fold to Donphan Prime or Machamp Prime. Examples include Zekrom, C
pokebeach.comWe’re moving on to Victreebel, one of the most interesting Pokémon in the format right now in my opinion. While interesting most definitely doesn’t mean it’s good, at the very least it’s unique enough to give it a closer look, and perhaps a few runs in the arena.
Honoring its distinction as a flytrap, Victreebel’s “Tangling Tendrils” Body increases your opponent’s Active Pokémon’s Retreat Cost by two Energy. This would put Victreebel right up there as one of the best Bench sitting techs, especially for decks that make use of status, such as Leafeon/Roserade.
Unfortunately, the Body demands that Victreebel is Active for it to work. Until they release a good “hit and run attacker” such as Cursegar or “Gyro Ball” Magnezone from last format, that means we’re going to have to work with Victreebel as an attacker.
We’re not exactly working with vanilla damage here: for GC, “Acidic Drain” not only does 30 damage but also Burns and Poisons whatever is unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end, while removing 3 damage counters from Victreebel at the same time.
They obviously want us to use Victreebel’s Poké-Body to trap an unfortunate Pokémon in the Active Spot, inflict it with several status conditions while it can’t retreat out of them, and heal any damage they attempt to inflict to it. Each of these parts of Victreebel’s intended strategies can be augmented with a different Grass tech.
Vileplume harshens the retreat lock, preventing the opponent from using Switch as well as Rare Candy and various searching cards that would help them evolving the Pokémon you are strangling to death. Roserade can Confuse them to prevent them from harming Victreebel, and Serperior adds more healing to the mix.
You might want to pick your targets with Victreebel carefully, as you don’t want to trap an opponent in the ring that has no reason to run away to begin with (once again, public Grass enemy #1 Reshiram rears its head). You have three options here: flip with Pokémon Reversal, wait for Pokémon Catcher before stocking up on Victreebel, or take a closer look at the flower that is eventually destined to become Victreebel.
pokebeach.comBellsprout’s “Inventing Scent” takes after Base Set Victreebel’s “Lure” in that it allows you to gust up one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon at the cost of using up your attack to do it. Sadly, Memory Berry is out of the format, so you will have to time your Bellsprout use well and make sure your opponent can’t make use of that 40 HP.
I have to admit I’ve done zero testing with Victreebel so far, and I’ve only had it used against me once when I was already on the losing hand to begin with. As I said, it’s definitely interesting, but you’re going to have to be careful when you’re only doing 30 damage per turn (before Burn and Poison).
Its 110 HP isn’t bad per sé (the same as Tangrowth), but I’m going to question whether it’s enough to actually tank, even with the healing taken into equation. Regardless, I’m not going to be surprised if Victreebel ends up as a strong play somewhere down the line.
With Pokémon Catcher a whole new world should open for it, and perhaps the right partner for it will come right along.
Before I get to a final verdict about the playability of Grass decks as a whole, I need to make a comment on its weaknesses. As you must know by now, Reshiram and Emboar spell out bad news for Grass. Not just because of the weakness (Metapod fixes that pretty easily), but because of that deck’s enormous and quick damage output.
This is not just a problem Grass decks have, but since many of them seem to be focused on tanking and other rather subtle, eloquent strategies that take a little time to develop, they are left vulnerable to decks like Reshiram that dish out large bursts of damage turn after turn.
Grass has an amazing supporting cast that can help your main Pokémon in so many ways, but being reliant on them makes your deck a little slower than usual since your main attacker isn’t going to be self-sustaining. If a snipe or a Pokémon Reversal or Pokémon Catcher takes out your Metapod or Sunflora, you could very well be in trouble.
In addition, it seems there is no really good Grass Pokémon to use for attacking right now. There are several decent ones, and some I would even call good.
But when you look at Tangrowth, Meganium, and Jumpluff, and compare them to Pokémon such as Reshiram, Magnezone Prime, Machamp Prime…I can’t help but think they’re doing it on purpose, since Grass could very well extremely dominant the moment you give them a no-brainer powerhouse to work with.
That doesn’t mean you should give up on them though, I sure didn’t. It’s just kind of backwards that the most common use for Grass Pokémon I’ve seen so far are to use them as parts of decks based around other Pokémon.
Vileplume gets thrown in with various attackers, Jumpluff is sent to the Lost Zone by Mew for Mass Attack, Shaymin moves Energy from Pachirisu to Zekrom, and so on. I rarely see a deck that actually focuses on Grass in HGSS on.
Before you’re finally done with this long beast of an article, I’d like to make one small note about types of decks. New players often make the mistake of trying to build “a [Grass/Fire/Lighting/Water/etc type] deck”, and fitting in all kinds of different lines. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m encouraging people to do so.
I’m using various types here to outline what kind of support you can give to a main attacker of a certain type, and also because it’s a convenient way of dividing Pokémon into categories and being able to analyse them one by one.
I believe that you should be able to read this article and think “that sounds like a nice Pokémon to build a deck around”, and get some ideas for the right cards to go along with it.
That is about all I have to say on the Grass-type. I hope you enjoyed it, even if you knew your basics already. I may do more articles like this in the future, especially if feedback is positive. I hope you enjoyed reading this!