Everybody Likes an Underdog

Offbeat Ideas for the Fall Season

We’ve got only a couple more weeks until Fall Regionals and it is doubtful that many players are just sitting around, not with the news of the change in the Championship Point requirements to qualify for Worlds 2014. While playtesting has been mostly limited to Leagues and friend circles, it does not mean that the metagame isn’t already shaping up.

The two decks with the most focus right now are Darkrai/Garbodor and Genesect/Virizion. The former has been around for over a year, and the concept is hardly new. The latter is, in my opinion, still a work in progress due to there not being any large tournaments to truly test its strengths (besides the Klaczynski Open).

Of course, TDK and Blastoise have yet to leave the spotlight, considering how both have barely changed with the rotation being largely irrelevant to their livelihood.

Niche Decks

As more and more players begin testing the major decks, others have begun looking at alternatives to counter the upcoming meta in a bid to stay ahead of the curve. We will take a brief look at some of these decks and their pros and cons.

Tool Drop

“What is it?”

What a creative name for a deck!

Tool Drop is named after Trubbish PLS 65’s attack, Tool Drop. The core of the deck’s strategy revolves around the new Sigilyph PLB and its Ability, Toolbox, which allows itself to have up to four Pokémon Tool cards attached to it, hence allowing Trubbish’s damage output to reach levels over 9000. Masquerain PLB finishes the combo, allowing free movement of Tools between your hand and board.

“Why is it good?”

Considering how over a quarter of the deck consists of Tools, dumping your entire opening hand is very easily done thanks to Sigilyph. This allows the deck to abuse the only Item draw card out there, Bicycle, to its maximum potential. It is not at all uncommon for a player to burn away half their deck by the end of the third or even the second turn. This ease of digging into the deck is what makes it consistent as well.

The plethora of Tools provide a wide variety of tricks to cater for every matchup. Silver Mirror walls anything Plasma while Silver Bangle increases the damage output further to achieve 1HKOs on Pokémon-EX. Eviolite provides that significant defense against everything else, especially when stacked on a single Sigilyph, while Exp. Share conserves the Energy for Trubbish to continually pile on the assault.

But the biggest draw for this deck is probably the fact that none of the Pokémon in the deck gives up more than 1 Prize. The Prize exchange is thus very favorable most of the time.

“Why is it bad?”

While Sigilyph has a relatively healthy 90 HP, Trubbish sits at a very dangerous 70 HP, while Surskit is simply donk bait. Also, the amount of Basic Pokémon in the deck is not very high, and a lone Surskit start is a very real problem. Other similar decks counter this problem by adding more Basics, but Tool Drop usually cannot afford to lower its Tool count without risking consistency and firepower at the same time.

Likewise, Darkrai/Garbodor is its worst matchup, and when your worst matchup happens to be one of the strongest and most played decks, you know you’re in trouble. Garbodor shuts off both Toolbox and Tool Reversal.

“Why should I play it?”

Tool Drop’s raw speed is nothing to joke at, and its damage output rivals Blastoise’s without the penalty of discarding. If you suspect the meta to be full of Genesect, Plasma, or slow setup decks like Blastoise and Hydreigon, Tool Drop has a very real chance of flying past the competition.


“What is it?”

victini ex plasma storm pls 18pokemon-paradijs.com
Bring on the bug.

Like Darkrai/Garbodor, this deck has been around for a while now, but it never really caught on due to the prevalence of Kyurem PLF and Blastoise decks. The objective of the deck is to counter two of the most hyped decks, Darkrai and Genesect, in the most mano-a-mano style possible.

Variations of the deck may include Garbodor or Drifblim (either or both) as options against the rest of the meta, which means it can be played just like Big Basics of last year. In fact, the deck is really just another variation of Big Basics except with different attackers.

“Why is it good?”

Victory Piece remains the only other way a Pokémon can attack without having any Energy on it besides Drifblim PLB’s “Drifting Balloon” Ability. With it, Victini-EX has an excellent chance of clean-sweeping any Genesect decks outright.

Alternatively, Turbo Energize can accelerate Energy onto Terrakion-EX, who can continue the flooding the next turn with Pump-Up Smash while dealing 2HKOs on any EX-Pokémon. The deck also has an amazing matchup against Darkrai/Garbodor thanks to its typing and Garbodor being a dead weight.

The options available to pair with this extreme form of Energy acceleration are many. Landorus-EX comes to mind who, when paired with LaserBank, 1HKOs any EX-Pokémon. Likewise, Bouffalant DRX can easily become a quick threat thanks to Silver Bangle.

“Why is it bad?”

Plasma and Blastoise go to town against this deck (Victini-EX, the preferred starter, is a liability here). In particular, Kyurem PLF who is largely unaffected by techs you could think up. Terrakion-EX is also a very bad starter, and having to using Skyla to search out a Switch/Float Stone rather than Victory Piece or Energy Search is very, very bad indeed.

The linearity of the deck’s strategy is also a disadvantage when going against more technical cards like Sigilyph DRX, while the lack of sheer firepower means tanking decks like Hydreigon that abuse Max Potion will likely have an easy matchup against you.

“Why should I play it?”

If you expect a large number of players sporting either Genesect or Darkrai, then this deck is the ultimate anti-meta, or close to it. Drifblim is utterly useless against it while Sigilyph DRX and Suicune PLB techs can be dealt with using Bouffalant. Against Blastoise and Plama decks, tech accordingly to improve the matchup.

Quad Sigilyph

“What is it?”

Where is all started.

Quad Sigilyph is back with a vengeance as the (almost) ultimate wall. Safeguard protects it from most attackers in the format, while Silver Mirror protects it from Kyurem PLF and Absol PLF. For the remaining few attackers that slip through the cracks, a pair of Mewtwo EX cleans up the act. All this while using only Level Ball and Skyarrow Bridge as assistants.

“Why is it good?”

With every other deck using Pokémon-EX as their attackers, Sigilyph got a new lease of life. Also, thanks to Silver Mirror, the deck no longer fears Kyurem as much. It replaces the much loved and hated Crushing Hammer, although Enhanced Hammer is still very much a part of this deck as a counter against Plasma decks.

The deck also has a lot of wiggle room, which means it can easily afford that second Tool Scrapper, or even a third for the paranoid, to combat Garbodor. Or you can just Knock Out the Garbodor. Dat Weakness.

Ghetsis is also an option as a soft counter against Sableye’s Junk Hunt.

“Why is it bad?”

The deck’s concept is not new, which means everyone already knows the basics of beating the deck. And the same way you can counter Garbodor with Tool Scrapper, so too can Plasma decks. Genesect EX even has the option to simply power through with G Booster as a last resort, but more likely they would generally try to discard a DCE from your side so Drifblim DRX can 1-shot everything. Also, an auto-loss against Tool Drop is just sad.

“Why should I play it?”

Quad Sigilyph should be considered only in a metagame where Garbodor and Tool Drop are not very popular.


“What is it?”

Can create an unbreakable lock.

Zebstrika/Garbodor is another deck from the lower tiers that is starting to pop up again. Again, Silver Mirror provides the protection from any Plasma Pokémon while Disconnect prevents any Tool Scrapper from destroying the lock.

“Why is it good?”

This is one of the few decks that almost auto-wins against Tool Drop due to Disconnect/Garbotoxin. It also forces Genesect players to rely on Virizion or G Booster. Dark Patch and Lasers are also unusable half the time. There’s also its ability to snipe for 80 as an option.

“Why is it bad?”

The deck is rather inconsistent, which allows your opponents to set up faster than you almost all the time. Also, Virizion-EX can easily 2HKO Zebstrika, while Darkrai EX can 1HKO it. Lasers can only do so much to buy time from a bad start, and if you miss a crucial Disconnect or fail to set up Garbotoxin, the game spirals out of control.

“Why should I play it?”

Similar to Gothitelle/Accelgor, this deck can be very deadly once the lock is up. Item lock is as difficult to play around as it has always been, unless you have a direct counter like Landorus Promo quickly dispatching the Blitzles. If you can handle its natural inconsistencies, the deck’s matchups across the board are generally no worse than 50/50.

Flareon and Friends

“What is it?”

flareon plasma freeze plf 12pokemon-paradijs.com
This card is HOT.

Thanks to Dylan Bryan, the popularity of Flareon PLF variations have shot up. The deck usually sports a variety of Pokémon, like Landorus-EX and Leafeon PLF, to deal with any deck. The high counts of Pokémon also aid Flareon’s main attack, Vengeance, to allow 1HKOs.

“Why is it good?”

Like Tool Drop, the lack of Pokémon-EX coupled with the ability to do sky-high damage is its selling point. Because Flareon itself needs no specific Energy requirement, almost anything can be paired with it, which also means that the deck is very flexible in what it can do.

The techs are usually the same for most decks. Leafeon handles Keldeo and Blastoise like a dream while Landorus helps against Darkrai. Some variations even include Garbodor DRX, although this isn’t very common compared to Mewtwo EX or Bouffalant DRX. Drifblim is also slowly finding its way into the deck as an alternative attacker against Plasma decks.

Cofagrigus PLS 56 is slowly losing favor, but don’t be too surprised to see it in action as well, especially when it pairs so very well with Lugia EX.

“Why is it bad?”

Eevee is weak. Very weak. You won’t normally get donked due to the high Basic count, but the most crucial piece of the puzzle is also the biggest liability in the early stages of the game. Audino BCR can also turn into a liability for the same reason, although Hip Bump is useful in its own way.

The deck is also very technical, as most toolboxes are (LuxChomp comes to mind), so not many players know how to properly use the deck. After all, Flareon isn’t the only attacker, and if you tried dumping as many Pokémon into the discard pile as fast as possible, you would find yourself out of attackers sooner than you’d think. It is also for this reason that Flareon is only a threat in the mid and late game, who otherwise can only threaten a 2HKO at best.

“Why should I play it?”

If you are the type of player who loves having choices, this is the deck for you. The decklist itself depends solely on the meta and it is not uncommon to see a difference of more than 10 cards between different lists. This makes the deck very difficult to play against as you never know what surprise is in store for you. Expect anything from Lasers and Hammers to Silver Mirror and Silver Bangle, that rare Life Dew, or even Iris to mess up your game plan.

Techs to Consider

While non-top tier decks are usually a black hole of mystery, it doesn’t mean that they are hard to tech against. Some are easier to tech against, while others require a revamped decklist. The same also holds true for and against the top tier decks.

Chatot PLB

chatot plasma blast 77
Music to my ears.

Chatot is a rare instance of a card whose design seems to be in direct response to another card; in this case, Sigilyph PLB. Misinformation does the single most damage to Tool Drop decks by removing all their Tools, except for those attached to Pokémon protected by Silver Mirror, and even then, a Tool Scrapper played prior to using Misinformation can easily solve that problem.

Outside of the Tool Drop matchup though, Chatot is almost a dead card, so only include it if you expect a strong showing of Tool Drop in your area.

More Tool Scrapper

The game is quickly turning into a Tool war with the introduction of Silver Mirror, Silver Bangle and G Booster. Dowsing Machine is not always available to get you out of a pinch a second time, and this is especially true if you have a heavy reliance on Abilities like Blastoise.

Landorus Promo

While this tech is limited to Plasma decks, it is one worth consideration if Darkrai variants are popular. A Bangle and a Deoxys-EX allows you to 1HKO Darkrai EX (as well as Thundurus EX in the mirror matchup) turn after turn if you can keep up with their hand size and handle their Enhanced Hammers.


Also limited to Plasma decks, Moltres is unique in the sense that it not only hits Genesect decks for Weakness, but it can also remove their Energy, thereby stalling Genesect’s onslaught while you set up your board. If left alone, you could even try charging up Power Flame to stream KOs against them.

Victini-EX + Victory Piece

This two-card combo can easily fit into any deck if you are willing to sacrifice your ACE SPEC spot. Designed to counter Genesect decks, it is also useful in general if you run basic Energy to grab with Turbo Energize.

Kyurem and Darkrai variants stand to gain the most out of it, while Blastoise can switch out the their Lightning for Prism Energy to allow Victini-EX to continue the onslaught if Victory Piece gets discarded.


There are a lot of uncertainties this year with the shift from Battle Roads to League Challenges and the changes in tournament structure. TPCi is certainly doing a lot to change the face of the competitive scene, and if the new rule changes are anything to go by, expect a dramatic shift in the metagame and price jump of Tropical Beach sooner than you think.

Thanks for reading, and good luck to all in this new format.

Reader Interactions

4 replies

  1. Marcello Bosio

    I’m not a competitive player but I must say that I found your article to
    be an excellent, excellent read. Plenty of neat ideas and comments even
    though it’s only an overview of non-tier 1 decks. Thanks

    • Bella Brown  → Marcello

      I agree, and I am a competitive player. :P I’m actually running Flareon atm, might consider running a one-of Chatot too, good Flareon fodder and amazing against tool drop and good against Garbodor variants :) Thanks for the great article!

    • Marcello Bosio  → Tyler

      I thought that too, mainly because I’m a big fan of Empoleon myself. Not sure it may do well in the current format, but in the previous with Dusknoir and maybe Mewtwo and Terrakion it was a really fun deck and decent too. Also, no Garchomp.

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