The Hawk’s Nest: Garchomp/Altaria

“FluffyChomp LV.X

Several days ago, I opened with a “Moving On” article touching on the basics of a BLW-on format. Today, I am continuing down that path. The first deck I would like to look at is FlyChomp (FluffyChomp, etc.), AKA Garchomp/Altaria.

Obviously, prior the presumed Dragon Exalted set, neither of those two Pokémon were known as big hitters (or even existent in Modified). That means they must be cards coming out in our next set. Let’s start by looking at a skeleton list. Then we will look at the individual cards, the strategy of the deck, and possible cards to fill out the list.


Pokémon – 18

4 Gible (60 HP)
3 Gabite (Dragon Call)
4 Garchomp
3 Swablu (Sing)
3 Altaria (Battle Song)
1 Emogla (Call for Family)

Trainers – 21

12 Draw Supporters


3 Level Ball
3 Rare Candy
3 Catcher

Energy – 7

7 F

Open Slots – 14

I know that looks very basic, but it is a pretty standard skeleton list. I hope it shows you exactly how straightforward this deck will be.

Key Cards

Gible: There will likely be two Gible released, and neither are particularly strong. One has more HP than the other. The weaker Gible has Sing, but the 60 HP Gible forces your opponent to flip for his attack anyway. Ultimately, this comes down to just having that little bit of extra health, especially with Mewtwo EX still running around.

Gabite: This Gabite (with Dragon Call) is really the engine of the deck. It is an 80 HP Dragon type with C retreat and an amazing Ability. It is actually Sunflora HS’s Sunshine Grace, for Dragon types. Dragon Call allows you to search your deck for a Dragon type Pokémon and put it into your hand. This is why you play a think (4-3-4 or 4-4-4) line of Garchomp.

Garchomp: Toe be completely honest, Garchomp is merely above average at an attacker. It has 140 HP and two attacks. The first attack does 60 damage and discards a Special Energy from the Defending Pokémon for a single F energy. The second attack does 100 for a W and F, while forcing you to discard two cards from the top of your deck.

Basically, it is a hefty body that attacks for solid damage on its own, but certainly other Stage 2s (looking at Empoleon DEX) can hit harder and have more attractive attributes. So, the rest of the deck must have something to compensate for that.


Swablu: Both Swablu have 40 HP and are Colorless basics. One has a Sing attack that might end up being useful.

Altaria: Here is the card that makes the deck viable. Altaria is a Stage 1 Dragon type that has 70 hp and an insane Ability. The Ability, Battle Song, turns Garchomp into a much more formidable threat. Battle Song increases the damage by Dragon types’ attacks by 20 damage. Even more, the Ability is stackable. Therefore, if you manage to get two or three Altaria into play, Garchomp can do 80-120 for a single Energy.

Emogla: This is a 70 HP Basic that is only good for one thing: getting two more Basic Pokémon. It’s Call for Family attack allows the player to search for two more Basic Pokémon and put them onto the bench. That means a single Level Ball effectively turns into 3 Pokémon on the board.

10 Draw Supporters: Overall, people figuring out an optimal Supporter line is going to be one of the most frustrating experiences in the new format. Our options are just severely limited. Let’s talk through the main possibilities for this deck.

C: Search your deck for two Basic Pokémon and put them onto your Bench. Shuffle your deck afterward.

Professor Juniper: Obviously, this is the highest risk/highest reward Supporter. It is clearly the fastest Supporter in the format, and this deck wants to be very fast. However, Garchomp’s second attack already discards resources, and if you play Ultra Ball, you are discarding even more cards.

N: This deck is pretty solid against late-game N’s (not as much as Zeels though). It is not extremely susceptible because Garchomp can attack for only one energy. For that reason, N is very attractive because it nets you a lot of cards early and is not terrible late.

Cheren: The first two Supporters appear to be the clear cut premium Supporters, and the next two are going to be interesting to sort out. Cheren is straight draw of three cards with zero draw backs. That is obviously solid, but it does not dig into the deck very deep.

Bianca: This card could come very close to replacing PONT. It may allow you to draw six new cards. At worst, you will likely get one or two cards in this deck because you should not be holding onto resources too much. That means this could be a solid option.

Random Receiver: The other option is to only play the two premier supporters and run a lot of Random Receivers to “guarantee” you access to the better Supporters. However, if you only play 8 Supporters, there is a possibility to prize one or two; or you might have to discard one with Juniper. That would leave you with 5-6 Supporters to play over the course of a game. Is that a risk you want to take?

Ultimately, I will not tell you what I think you should play. However, right now I like heavy N, Juniper, and some diversity with the last two. That means something like 4 N, 3 Juniper, 3 Bianca, and 2 Random Receiver.

Level Ball: Save Garchomp, everything else is searchable with Level Ball (due to HP less than 90). Naturally, that means Level Ball will be played at a high level. Additionally, Level Ball pairs extremely well with Emogla and Gabite. Emogla is searchable with Level Ball and turns into two more Pokémon at the end of your turn. With multiple Gible in play, a single Level Ball turns into multiple Gabite. You get to search for the first Gabite and then use Dragon Call to string together more Pokémon.

Rare Candy: Normally, building into Garchomp is a better option, but you want to have the ability to attack on turn two available. So, Rare Candy is the option to make that happen.

Pokémon Catcher: Garchomp/Altaria is supposed to be an aggro pressure deck. Well, to apply pressure to the board, the deck needs have the ability to attack any target on the board. Catcher is the card that makes that happen. So, a high count should be run.

F Energy: Garchomp’s most used attack costs a single F Energy. That means we need a solid Fighting base to use.

Well, what to do with the remaining 14 slots?

The first thing you want to do when playing a new deck, is to build the most consistent list possible and then working backward from there making little tradeoffs here and there. With that in mind, I would recommend the following list to begin testing with.

Testing List

Pokémon – 22

4 Gible (60 HP)
4 Gabite (w/ Dragon Call)
4 Garchomp
4 Swablu (Sing)
3 Altaria (Battle Song)
3 Emogla (Call for Family)

Trainers – 27

4 N
3 Professor Juniper
3 Bianca
2 Random Receiver


4 Level Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Rare Candy
2 Switch
2 Super Rod

Energy – 11

7 F
4 Blend WLFM

What are the differences?

pokemon-paradijs.comObviously, I pushed the Pokémon lines out to a near maximum consistency count. The three Emogla are to help start with Emogla and getting Pokémon on your bench.

I also added Switch and Super Rod. Switch allows you to get Pokémon out of the Active while not burning Energy. Super Rod allows you to get Pokémon back that are KO’d (most likely Altaria).

Finally, Blend Energy WLFM works really well with Garchomp. It obviously, provides Water, Fighting, Lightning, and M Energy to any Pokémon. Garchomp’s Energy requirements are Water and Fighting. That means Blend is a way to utilize the second attack.

What else…

Again, that is a list I would recommend as a starting point for testing. However, the final question remains: What other cards should be considered?

Rayquaza: There has been some serious speculation lately whether or not we will even get the normal Rayquaza in our next set. Because of that, I will keep this simple. For L, Rayquaza does 40 damage. Against Dragon types, that becomes 80 damage and 1HKOs a lot of things (Tynamo, Gible, Gabite, Swablu, Altaria, etc.). Although the format is slowing down and we would like to avoid donks, Rayquaza might be too good to pass up.

Rescue Scarf: Rescue Scarf is Rescue Energy in Tool form. Ideally, you could put the Scarf on Altaria’s to cycle their recovery through faster. This would be instead of playing Super Rod (or running a split) for recovery.

PlusPower: Aggro decks like to be able to manipulate damage. PlusPower is the standard damage manipulator.

Big Cloak: Allow me to go on a tangent. When most people saw Big Cloak, they equated it to Eviolite. Unfortunately, this is not true. The Mechanic is actually very different. Obviously, to 1HKO a Pokémon with Eviolite or Big Cloak your required damage output is the same. However, to 2HKO the same Pokémon, with the different tools, the aggregate damage is actually 20 more to 2HKO the Pokémon with Eviolite.

That is because Eviolite blocks damage, but Big Scarf increases HP. I do not know how many of you needed that explanation, but I hope it helps some people.

Back to it, Garchomp already has 140 hp and 160 just makes it more difficult to KO.

Max Potion: As a rule of thumb, when your main attacker has a Big number of hp and attacks for low amounts of energy (or you have very good energy acceleration) Max Potion is a card you want to test out. Here, you may be able to deny prizes with Garchomp while swinging away for solid damage.

Ultra Ball: This is a card that almost every deck should try out in the testing phase. The ability to consistently search out any Pokémon is always a solid play. If the non-EX Rayquaza gets printed, Ultra Ball should warrant more consideration.

Pokémon Communication: Similarly to Ultra Ball, Communication is a great search card. Unfortunately, both cards have strengths and weaknesses. While Ultra Ball costs more resources, Communication is more situational. With Communication, you need to either have a Pokémon on hand or a Gabite in play to get to the Pokémon you really want.

In turn, Communication is less reliable at getting the turn one Emogla and/or the turn two Garchomp than Ultra Ball. More consistency or more resource conservation?

Ultimately, when considering any deck for competitive play, you must ask the question: is this any good? Unfortunately, without a developed format to compare it to (merely a speculative one) we cannot say for certain whether or not Garchomp/Altaria will be good after the rotation. We can answer a couple other questions though.


1. The deck is very consistent. Gabite’s ability to search out other Dragon types gives this deck a unique advantage in terms of Pokémon consistency. Being able to get out your attackers and support Pokémon under almost any condition is a huge boost.

2. The deck is relatively fast. In testing, you should be getting out Garchomp no later than turn three. On turn one you should have Emogla in play, leading to multiple Gable. On turn two you should get Gabite in play. From there, you can stream Dragon Call to get Garchomp out on turn three and other Pokémon from then on.

3. The deck is efficient. For me this means its damage to energy requirements are at a good ration. With a base of one energy to 60 damage, the deck is efficient in attacking.

4. The deck is nearly auto-pilot. I know a lot of people view auto-pilot decks as bad, but I actually think that is a strength. By being nearly auto-pilot, you have fewer chances to mess up. For most players, improving and winning is not about drastically out thinking your opponent. Rather, winning more is about making less mistakes than your opponent.

I know that is a pessimistic outlook, but it is relatively true. Think of skill as a set of levels. Everyone needs to master the “make no mistakes” level before moving onto the “drastically out think my opponent” level.


1. The deck has lots of low-HP Pokémon. 40, 60, 70, 70, and 80. Those are the respective hp of everything but Garchomp. That means you are susceptible to donks and turn two losses. If not losses, you are susceptible to going down multiple prizes on turn two. Early Mewtwo EXs, Tornadus EPO, Tornadus EX, Landorus NVI, Thundurus EPO, Rayquaza (if printed), etc. may give this deck trouble.

2. The decklist is tight on space. Running a thick Stage 2 line and a think Stage 1 line require a lot of space. That means you options to tech the deck out are comparatively slim.

3. The deck relies on a (assumed) common mono-type. The Dragon type will likely be played a decent amount at the beginning of the new season. This will be partially due to hype and partially due to how good the type is. Either way, this deck is x2 weak to all things dragon at virtually every Pokémon slot. That tends to be an unenviable position.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this little write up. It’s been good getting to test out new things in a new format. I also hope some of you are enjoying a change in pace from the Nats/Worlds/HGSS-on type articles.

Follow @airhawk06 on Twitter.

Reader Interactions

48 replies

  1. Grant Manley

    Nice set review on a hyped deck, you did it justice. If Rayquaza comes out then it is a definite inclusion; it helps a lot against the mirror and Zekeels. Also, you forgot to mention Rayquaza’s downside to its attack, discarding the top two cards of your deck. In my opinion for the deck, if people are deciding between Ultra Ball and Communication, you should use Communication because you can burn enough resources with Rayquaza and Garchomp”s first attack. That is just my opinion and testing results, I just favor PokeComm. more. Your list is almost identical to mine so therefore, I really like it. (Only 3 cards different!)

  2. bowser

    Thanks for your article. I guess the auto-pilot aspect of the deck is probably a turn-off for me. The decks I make aren’t usually that good, but they’re my own, and force me to think (usually think about “why am I running this deck?” (-: )

  3. Roarkiller Master

    I prefer pokecomm if you’re running Bianca. The logic is obvious; you don’t want to discard too many cards in a deck that can’t take back anything, yet also need a way to thin your hand for Bianca. And at 22 pokemon, You’re hard pressed to NOT have a pokemon in your hand. It also allows you to pull out garchomp just as well as ultra ball.

    Personally, I think what defines the next format, with the heavy use of Bianca and N, is a way to thin your own hand without losing too much resources.

    Oh, and rayquaza is in. Definitely in.

    • Benjamin Bolival  → Roarkiller

      Yuta ran only 3 level balls and no pokemon communications in his Yokohama-winning Garchomp/Altaria list so it seems that in tournament practice 3 level balls plus emolga sufficed. It is logical since you use the ability to get your other dragon evolutions.

  4. Dan W

    When this deck get rolling with Gible and Gabite, it gets set up REALLY fast. The amount of Dragon Calls you can pull of a turn gets bigger and bigger until you have a field full of Chomps and Altaria.

  5. Adam Bigott

    Just a few thoughts. I like that you are running two super rods. I also like the pokemon lines as a whole. I don’t see much of a point of Random Receiver without junk arm or sableye, you might as well just run more supporters. I also think that the 2 switch should be communications. It helps get out a T2 Garchomp more easily. (You need two gibble in play and candy gabite in hand to do it without communication, assuming no candy assuming no garchomp in hand.) I also don’t see switch doing all that much. Everything in this deck has a 0-1 retreat cost and altarias will most likely be ko’d when catchered. I know some of this was mentioned in the additional cards section, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Nice article as always!

    • Benjamin Bolival  → Adam

      The list is very similar to Yuta’s winning Garchomp/Altaria list. Yuta’s list didnt run random receiver and like you pointed out just ran 2 more supporters in place of it. It did run 2 switch but Yuta was able to pull it out without pokemon communications ! Yuta ran only 3 level balls.

  6. Benjamin Bolival

    Your list is almost similar to Yuta Komatsuda’s winning Garchomp/Altaria that Yuta piloted in the Yokohama tourney. Did you base your list on Yuta’s by any chance? If yes then it might be worth mentioning in your article that it was derived from Yuta’s list.

    • airhawk06  → Benjamin

      I have seen exactly zero Japanese BLW-on lists other than the Darkrai/Hydro list. I don’t even know where to look…

      • Benjamin Bolival  → airhawk06

        Please keep churning out articles airhawk if you can come up with a list that’s very similar to a tournament winning deck played by a world champion then that only shows that you’re an excellent deckbuilder.

  7. Josh

    I feel like 1 more Juniper and Bianca is better than the 2 random receivers probably especially later in the game. I also feel like 10 energy is the magic number for this deck. I would play the 3rd switch for a more consistant T1 CFF.

  8. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    Any similarity to the successful Japanese lists is inevitable. This is how it’s gonna be now that we have reliable info from Japan.

    We don’t know who invented the deck, only who won with it.

    • Benjamin Bolival  → Jak

      Yeah but the person who won with it was the World Champion of 2010 so we can be assured that it is a good list. I believe Yuta’s is the most publicized list too (in english posts that is) since it was posted in pokegym.

    • airhawk06  → Jak

      Where are you finding these Japanese lists? I swear I have not seen (and thus basd this) any Japqnese lists.

        • airhawk06  → Benjamin

          Thanks. Sorry, if it seems like I “took” hist list. But, I promise, the one in the article was just developed through a couple weeks of playtesting.

        • Benjamin Bolival  → airhawk06

          well at least your list is close to what a world champion builds so keep churning out those articles. it also in a way vindicates that the list you came out is a good list (it won a japanese world qualifiers).

      • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → airhawk06

        Sorry, didn’t mean to imply that you took your list from the Japanese lists.

        Just that there is not going to be much variance between them and independently created versions. The deck is pretty straightforward.

  9. Franco L III

    I thought that the translation said that you could only use one Dragon Call Ability per turn. I don’t think that it stacks.

        • theo Seeds  → Joseph

          One total per turn per Gabite. It’s not like Gardevoir SW where it stated that you could only use one Telepass per turn. Dragon Call’s Pokebeach translation is the following:

          Ability: Dragon Call
          Choose 1 Dragon-type Pokemon card from your deck, show it to your opponent, and put it in your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward. You can use this Ability 1 time during your turn.

          Notice how Gardevoir states “You may only use one Telepass Poke-Power per turn”, however in Japan they translate things differently. To add to my argument, here is the Pokebeach translation of Dynamotor in japaneese:

          Ability: Electric Dynamo
          Choose 1 Lightning Energy card from your discard pile and attach it to one of your Benched Pokemon. You can use this Ability 1 time during your turn.

          Notice how it and Gabite both say “You may use this ability 1 time during your turn”, yet you can use 4 Dynamotors if you set 4 Eels up. It should be the same way with Gabite, unless the Beach screwed up.

  10. Balasar

    one part i didn’t like was that you included rayquaza in the tech options. we will not get rayquaza. here’s why i think people should not expect it: DRE will have 124 cards. we’re going to assume that the 6 FA are included in that because they always have been. with the FA, there are a total of 53 cards in Dragon Blade, and 53 in Dragon Blast. That adds up to 106. there are 9 half-deck exclusives for the garchomp half-deck. same with the hydreigon half-deck. that adds up to 18. 106 and 18 make 124, which is the set limit of DRE.

    in summary, 53+53+9+9=124. that leaves no room for dragon selection. of course there are still the secret rares, but i doubt that tPCi would put out a secret rare version before they put out the regular version. this also explains why we won’t be getting first ticket either.

    • Ziggmiceter  → Balasar

      First, no one said that it has 124 cards. It’s 120+. Also, Shinies are counted as Secret Rares, meaning that’s -4 cards. They will release some cards from Dragon Selection, and probably Rayquaza because it’s a shiny, and we almost never get cards before Japan, especially not Ultra Rares that they would have to replace Rayquaza with.

    • Bryan Ward  → Pokémon

      No, the actual translation is “Your [Dragon] Pokemon do 20 more damage to the active Pokemon.” If it affected your opponent’s attacks too, then Rayquaza could get an even prize exchange on Garchomps very easily.

    • airhawk06  → Alton

      It’s not broken. It’s good, but not broken.

      A turn one Charge followed by a turn two 80 from Thundurus actually gives this fits.

    • Ross Gilbert  → Alton

      I can see Eels standing toe to toe with this, mostly because no junk arm = safer eels and when set up eels can stream attackers that can KO Garchomps etc.

      Not only that, but Rayquaza (regular), assuming it is printed (and i’m guessing it will be) can start tearing this apart on T1.

      This deck will be goooooooooooood, but not broken :)

  11. Alton Aderhold

    Turn 2 Garchomp/Altaria is waaay acheivable. I feel as if everything in this deck is acheivable way to easy, making it easily a tier 1 over the top. You are right, this deck isn’t nessasarily “broken” just will be outplayed just like Zekeels during its prime. It seems like a fun deck to play though.

  12. Ed Mandy

    “This is why you play a think (4-3-4 or 4-4-4) line of Garchomp.”

    Is “think” half way between “thick” and “thin”? :)

  13. Tyler Kittelson-Burke

    Seems like tier 1 material to me. Although Rayquaza EX based decks might be a problem, only because of weakness.

    • Chuck Rancor  → Tyler

      Well Garchomp can trade KO’s, figuring they get their Altaria out. In that case the Garchomp player would be trading one prize for two. But in the end, it’d come down to which deck sets up first, where Rayquaza ought to have the advantage.

  14. joey bellafiore

    Im new to pokemon so when this set gets released, to you think i should run this deck or the ninetails/amoongus deck that also seems pretty cool? I have been hearing that the ninetails deck has a lot of weaknesses and flaws but it seems less expensive then the altaria/garchomp. What do you guys think?

  15. David Dewey

    Am I the only one who has added dragon type Haxorus to this combo? Haxorus is a Fighting/Metal type dragon, and can be searched for with Garchomp. The two work very well toghether, having similar attacks, and both are very, very powerful. It’s really easy to set up a stage two attacker very quickly with this combo. Throwing in Altaria just makes it that much stronger.

    Is the US even going to get the dragon type Haxorus? We have it here in Japan already.

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