Hello everyone! It’s great to be back writing another Underground article for Adam and SixPrizes, as the last one I wrote was back in December about one of my favorite decks at the time: Ho-Oh/Archeops.
Since I last wrote, I also started my own Pokémon TCG website, A Roll of the Dice! I was inspired after writing my last UG article and wanted to keep writing, so with the help of my very talented mother (who surprisingly knows a lot about web design even though she’s a lawyer) the website was born! I couldn’t have done it without her, and now I also have some guest writers that do articles on the website as well.
Please do go check it out if you get a chance, as we’re all working very hard to bring you quality content, just as Adam does with SixPrizes!
Today, I’ll be talking about a couple different Big Basics variants. I’ve always loved the Big Basics archetype, whether it be centered around Garbodor, Ho-Oh, or now, Aromatisse. The ability to slam down a Basic onto your Bench and immediately start dealing big amounts of damage is just so good, especially when Max Potion can be run alongside.
This season, I’ve been using mainly Virizion/Genesect, Blastoise, and Darkrai/Garbodor, even though one of my favorite decks to play is Darkrai/Hydreigon. I feel that it fell out of favor as the months went on, but now the idea is back and streamlined with the introduction of Aromatisse.
While I found joy in Big Basics/Aromatisse, the deck has its flaws and instead I took a last-minute gamble on a little-tested Big Basics/Garbodor variant, which I piloted to an undefeated 1st place finish at Arizona States last weekend.
- Setting the Stage
- A New Scent of Big Basics
- Deck List
- Card Choices
- Turn 1 Geomancy
- Why I “Dropped” the Deck
- How the Concept Was Born
- Skeleton List
- The Metagame and Card Choices
- Theorymon for the Win
- Arizona States Recap
I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to play for States when the XY set was first introduced, but I knew that I wanted Aromatisse to be a part of it. Aromatisse allows for so much versatility, which is something that I love.
There are a two popular ways to play the fragrance Pokémon, both of which involve utilizing big Basic Pokémon against the popular archetypes. This sort of set the stage for what I would be playing for States; a deck involving Big Basics and a support Stage 1.
With the release of XY however, we saw the decline of the “traditional” Big Basics deck featuring Landorus-EX, Tornadus-EX DEX, Mewtwo-EX, and Garbodor LTR. I think the deck fell out of favor due to two main reasons:
1. The Increased Play of Tool Scrapper
Right before XY was released, Darkrai/Garbodor was a very successful deck, winning the Virginia Regional Championship and doing very well in many other tournaments. The deck was (and still is) very popular and successful. Garbodor was trouble for decks, including Blastoise and Plasma.
As a result, more players started to include Tool Scrapper in their lists. Having access to just one or two more turns of Abilities could spell doom for a Garbodor variant. So, the more that Tool Scrapper was played, the less play Garbodor saw, and vice versa.
After XY was released, Darkrai/Garbodor players could now switch over to playing straight Darkrai/Yveltal to dodge the effectiveness of Tool Scrapper, leaving our traditional Big Basics/Garbodor deck with another bad matchup and out to dry. Big Basics/Garbodor had to be updated to keep up with Darkrai decks now including Yveltal in their lists.
Speaking of Yveltal, it was the other big factor in the decline of Big Basics/Garbodor.
2. The Introduction of Yveltal-EX
Yveltal-EX is one of the best cards to come out of the XY set, being an obvious addition to the already powerful Darkrai decks. There is one particular thing, however, that sets it apart from typical Darkness Pokémon: it has Resistance to Fighting-types.
This is incredibly bad news for Landorus-EX. Instead of doing 60 and 30 to a Darkrai, Landorus is only doing 10 and 30 snipe to an Yveltal. Whenever you have a Landorus up, the Darkrai player can just switch to Yveltal-EX and immediately make your attacks much less efficient, all the while hitting you for huge amounts of damage.
Mewtwo becomes inferior to Yveltal with X Ball doing 20 less damage than Evil Ball.
It’s also surprisingly easy for Yveltal-EX to knock out a Tornadus-EX DEX in one hit. An Yveltal only needs 3 Energy, a Muscle Band, and Laserbank to knock out an attacking Tornadus with 2 Energy on it. If the Tornadus-EX is using Power Blast, then Yveltal only needs 2 Energy.
Yveltal-EX is basically the bane of Big Basics/Garbodor’s existence.
Because of the two reasons listed above, I decided to try out a complete rehash of the Big Basics archetype. XY opened up a lot of options, so I ran with it. Instead of Garbodor, I utilized Aromatisse. This allowed me to run a variety of different Pokémon to counter the meta that I predicted for States instead of the typical Tornadus-EX DEX, Landorus-EX, etc. I still like the premise of having Big Pokémon-EX that can abuse Max Potion, and both decks can do this.
I tested this deck for about two weeks leading up to States, and it was looking like it was very good from my games on PTCGO.
Here is my final deck list that I was planning to run for States:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
This deck isn’t like other Aromatisse lists that might use Plasma Pokémon. The main focus is on the amazing card that is Xerneas XY. For only 1 Energy, it accelerates 2 Fairy Energy onto your board; the only catch is that you need at least 2 separate Pokémon to accelerate to. It also gives a nice out if your opponent is playing a Safeguarder like Suicune PLB or Sigilyph LTR, doing 100 damage for 3 Energy, but you won’t use Rainbow Spear very often at all.
This is your preferred starter of the deck obviously, as it spews Energy onto your field. I feel that 3 is the perfect number, as 4 is too many, and with only 2, it severely decreases your odds of starting with it, especially if 1 is prized.
This card has gotten a lot of criticism for being a bad attacker; however, I found hope in the rainbow-colored deer comboed with Xerneas XY and Aromatisse. It can tank hits from Darkrai and Yveltal, which I found to be its most useful attribute. It is actually pretty hard for Yveltal to knock out Xerneas considering Resistance and Virizion-EX stopping Poison damage. Yes, X Blast has a 4 Energy attack cost, but when Laserbank and Muscle Band are added to the equation, Xerneas-EX can take OHKOs like nobody’s business.
Its first attack, Break Through, also helps to set up OHKOs for X Blast and does a substantial amount of damage for how easy it is to set up with Xerneas XY, Aromatisse, and Double Colorless Energy. It can do 110 and 30 snipe damage when paired with Laserbank and Muscle Band, which is pretty powerful.
This is my general attacker for the deck and is useful in nearly every matchup. Xerneas-EX is special because it can use Fairy Energy, and when Double Colorless is factored in, it only gives up 1 or 2 Colored Energy whenever it is knocked out.
It’s a nice 2 Energy attacker, and a great late game finisher. Just move all of your Energy to Yveltal and go to town. Another nice thing that you can do is Y Cyclone a Prism Energy off Yveltal to save it for another non-Fairy attacker like Shaymin or Raikou.
This card is one of a couple that probably stands out in this list. I originally intended for this to be a counter to Yveltal-EX and Lugia-EX, but it actually did another job much, much better: knock out opponents’ Aromatisse and Garbodor. I loved playing against the mirror match because once I sniped Aromatisse, my opponent had to get another one up ASAP before I started knocking out everything else on their field. Not having Aromatisse severely limits the deck and makes Geomancy and Raiden Knuckle much less versatile.
I still wasn’t dead set on which one of these cards to use before I switched to another deck. I liked Landorus for Bench damage and as a 1 Energy attacker, but Terrakion was interesting for a number of reasons: it could OHKO a Thundurus with 2 Energy, a Muscle Band, and Laserbank; it could OHKO Fighting-weak Pokémon without a Muscle Band (something that Landorus couldn’t); and it can accelerate any Fairy Energy that I have leftover in my hand.
I felt like this card deserved a spot in the deck because it was a fantastic last attacker. It only took 2 Energy which was perfect for late game, after I had exhausted most of my Energy. Since Xerneas XY is my main attacker and all the rest are Pokémon-EX, my opponent was almost always forced to play a 7-Prize game, allowing Shaymin-EX to hit for 180 damage after a Xerneas and two Pokémon-EX had been knocked out.
It’s pretty much a staple at this point in most decks that run pseudo-Grass Energy. It stops Special Conditions entirely and turns an auto-loss to Accelgor variants into a highly favorable matchup.
Huh? Did you really read that? Great Ball? Yeah, you did. One thing that I found very quickly about this deck is that it wants Pokémon on the field very quickly to make the most of Geomancy. I tried 4 Ultra Ball at first, but quickly changed once I realized that I would have to discard way too many resources to just get two more Pokémon in play. After that, I tried a higher Level Ball count, but it was only useful for getting Spritzee. Great Ball seemed like the next best option, and it actually worked very well!
When you want a Pokémon on your Bench for Geomancy, you don’t really care which one it is, so long as you can Geomancy to it and get the Energy off later. Great Ball netted a Pokémon the majority of the time and made the deck flow a lot better.
This lineup may also seem out of the ordinary for this type of deck. The reason that I chose to include multiple switching card instead of Fairy Garden is as follows: Fairy Garden requires an Energy to actually give a Pokémon free retreat (the same goes for Darkrai-EX). If I start with a Spritzee going second, and I Ultra Ball for a Xerneas, I can’t afford to waste the Energy attachment on Spritzee. I want to switch it out of there and still be able to attach to a Xerneas to Geomancy.
With this amount of switching and searching cards, I felt confident going second, knowing that I could get a turn 1 Geomancy the majority of the time.
I can’t stress how good of an attack Geomancy is; it is an Emerald Slash for 1 Energy without damage. Remember when people tried to build Virizion decks revolving around Team Plasma Badge and Colress Machine just to try and get a turn 1 Emerald Slash? That’s because being able to attach this amount of Energy so early is insanely good. Xerneas also gets the added bonus of being a non-Pokémon-EX.
That being said, the deck focuses on getting that turn 1 Geomancy, opting to run regular switching cards over Fairy Garden and Darkrai-EX, and cards like Great Ball to just accelerate Pokémon onto the Bench.
After an experimental trial of games against PTCGO’s Expert level computer players, I found that I got a turn 1 Geomancy 20 out of 24 times. (I was really big on making sure this deck had a lot of consistency, so I conducted these trials.) That means that 83% of the time, I was getting a Geomancy turn 1 going second. Those are good enough odds for me to choose to go second every game.
65% of the time I was getting a fully effective Geomancy with 2 Pokémon on the Bench, which is actually a surprising improvement from when I solely ran Ultra Ball. When I ran 4 Ultra Ball instead of Great Ball, I had a 40% chance of having a fully effective Geomancy turn 1.
I was fully set on playing this deck for the Arizona State Championship, until I played against my friend’s Tool Drop deck. He was entirely serious about Tool Drop being a good deck for States, and he was dead set on playing it. To make a long story short: I got crushed.
Sure, usually every deck loses to Tool Drop so long as Tool Drop doesn’t completely flop its setup. Well, he didn’t ever flop, and he steamrolled right through my deck again and again.
Of course, this made me realize one thing about the deck that I had made: it had pretty bad matchups against anything that gave out OHKOs. Even after Geomancy-ing Energy onto my field, it would still normally get wiped away very quickly, especially when you’re trading 2-Prize attackers for 1-Prize ones.
Although I was dismayed, only good came out of that experience. It snapped me out of my paradigm about the deck, and I realized that there were going to be a lot of decks played that have OHKO potential, which would be a big problem for me. As it turned out, Tool Drop actually was very popular at the tournament, with one even making Top 8, so I’m glad I caught the problem early.
Blastoise and RayBoar were the most obvious decks that rely on OHKOs, but what I also discovered was that Plasma decks could use Lugia to one-shot most of my 170 HP Pokémon-EX as well, for 3 Prizes.
With this new realization, I decided to make a complete 180 and revamp Big Basics again.
aka Cobalion-EX/Landorus-EX/Garbodor LTR/Zekrom LTR
Like I said before, I was taken back by the amount of decks that could deal OHKOs, but what surprised me even more was the amount of OHKOs that were perfect knockouts on 170 HP Pokémon.
Yveltal-EX hits for odd numbers with Laser damage, Trubbish hits for odd numbers with Silver Bangle, and finally, Lugia-EX usually hits for odd numbers since it’s most common to have 3 Deoxys on the field at one time.
That extra 10 HP from 170 to 180 makes a world of difference.
I decided to make a list of all of the 180 HP Pokémon that I knew of. Even things like Venusaur-EX and Kyogre-EX made the list. I just wanted to see what kind of Pokémon I had to work with and what I could put together.
Right away, I was disappointed to see very few, playable 180 HP Pokémon, the noteworthy being: Black Kyurem-EX PLS, Lugia-EX, Darkrai-EX, Landorus-EX, and Cobalion-EX. However, after looking at the Pokémon a bit more, I realized how good Landorus-EX and Cobalion-EX are in this format. Landorus-EX has always been good, but gets even better with Muscle Band. With the rise in Special Energy usage due to Rainbow Energy and Aromatisse, Cobalion-EX also becomes worlds better in the right metagame. It also doesn’t have an Ability, so Garbodor fits right in.
After realizing how little Garbodor was being played, I predicted that there would also be a decrease in Tool Scrapper counts, making Garbodor even more useful, especially against RayBoar which I thought was the deck to beat.
Just to make my shift of decks even more dramatic, I added in Hard Charm to make my 180 HP Pokémon even more difficult to OHKO.
I wrote the list online two days before the actual tournament, tested it, and was very happy with the results. I knew that this was the deck that I wanted to run.
Since States are still going on and I’m planning to attend events the next two weeks, I’ll just be giving out a skeleton list for the time being, but a full list will be released on my website after State Championships have concluded.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 31
2 Switching Cards
6 Pokémon Tools
Energy – 11
Free Spots – 9
This deck was largely a metagame call, so let me start with actually describing what it the Arizona scene was like. There were a lot of Plasma/Aromatisse decks, Plasma, Darkrai/Yveltal, and Yveltal/Garbodor decks. I was not expecting a lot of Tool Drop, but apparently a lot of people had the idea for it, and it made a pretty large showing. This wasn’t necessarily a problem for me, as I ran Garbodor which makes it a near auto-win.
There weren’t a whole lot of Rain Dance style decks, but I knew that RayBoar and Blastoise were some of the best decks in format, so I accounted for them as well. Even though not a lot of Arizona players played Blastoise or RayBoar, a good amount of people outside of the state played the decks.
Landorus is the main attacker of the deck. This card gets a lot better with Muscle Band out, as now it hits for 80 damage and 30 to the Bench with Muscle Band and Laserbank. That’s essentially a slightly watered down Night Spear for just 1 Energy. This allows the card to be a hard hitter with a ton of HP that can also abuse Max Potion. It isn’t the worst card against Yveltal-EX, but it’s also not the best; that’s why we have our techs in place.
This is our secondary attacker to replace Tornadus-EX DEX. Cobalion is a real nuisance for decks that run Special Energy, such as Plasma, Aromatisse variants, and even now, some Darkrai/Yveltal builds.
It’s another Big Basic attacker that is very difficult to knock out in one hit and is a very powerful card against certain matchups.
Now this is probably the first time that I have ever used this card in a deck in a long time. This deck already has a somewhat passive nature in that Landorus and Cobalion never really hit for OHKOs unless you devote 3 Energy to one of them. Zekrom simply adds to that against the Yveltal matchup by forcing them to either attack into Zekrom or play around it.
Yveltal has to hit for 150 damage to knock out a clean Zekrom with a Hard Charm, which is not that easy to do. Yveltal would need 4 Energy, a Muscle Band, and Laserbank. Even a Y Cyclone with all of the damage modifiers would be 10 damage short, allowing Zekrom to OHKO Yveltal in return and trade 2 Prizes for 1.
The strategy with Zekrom was to send it up in the Active position with a Hard Charm to put my opponent in an awkward position. I would Laser my opponent to put on pressure, which would force them to act.
With Garbodor up, Darkrai’s Dark Cloak Ability no longer works, meaning that Yveltal now has to sacrifice 2 of its Energy in order to get out of the Poison, especially since Darkrai decks rarely play more than 1 Switch. If they tried to use a Hypnotoxic Laser on my Zekrom in return, I was glad to have that 30 damage on Zekrom because again, with a Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser, Zekrom can one-shot Yveltal. If my opponent could not OHKO Zekrom, they were either forced to retreat giving up 2 Energy or attack into it.
This card was of course added for Outrage, but during the tournament I also ended up using Bolt Strike on a Darkrai to seal the game up.
This was the final piece of the puzzle in my mind. This card was used a lot up to the release of XY, but for some reason, it just completely dropped in play because it was overshadowed by Yveltal. Mewtwo-EX is still a good card and will always be a good card. X Ball is definitely nothing to scoff at.
The math worked out that if an Yveltal had the Energy to be able to one-shot my Zekrom, Mewtwo could come up and revenge KO it with Muscle Band and Laser. Mewtwo hits for a lot of damage with only one Double Colorless Energy, unlike the other attackers in the deck. Whenever I needed a little extra oomph, Mewtwo was nice to have.
This deck would be nothing without this card, plain and simple. When Garbodor is up, Poison damage adds up like nobody’s business. Hammerhead hits for 80 and 30 after Poison, so typically, if my opponent kept their Pokémon in the Active spot or it stayed asleep, then the next turn, I was two-shotting it.
I had many, many games decided on Sleep flips because of this card, including in the finals of States. The damage just adds up so nicely and so quickly that it makes your 1 Energy attackers, that normally only hit for 30, do some really big amounts of damage.
This is probably a matter of personal preference. I liked being able to Skyla to search out a Double Colorless Energy, but Dowsing Machine is extremely good in here as well. If you wanted to take out a Tool or something else to put in a fourth Double Colorless, then I could see the merit in running Dowsing Machine. I could see it extremely useful in getting back the final Laser or Muscle Band that you need to win the game.
6 Pokémon Tools
Of course, when you’re running Garbodor, you’ve got to have a sufficient amount of Tools. The ones that I would recommend are: Muscle Band, Hard Charm, and Float Stone. I utilized these Tools because they’re not only good on just Garbodor, but also have a beneficial effect if attached to any of the Pokémon in the deck.
Again, I built this deck just two nights before the tournament, so I didn’t have much experience testing it at all. However, all of the theory that I worked out in my head just sounded solid.
Against Plasma, I have Landorus against Thundurus and Cobalion to rid their board of Special Energy. Garbodor shut off Power Connect and Overflow, making their deck significantly worse.
Against Aromatisse variants, Landorus could snipe Spritzees, Cobalion could remove Prisms or Rainbows, and Garbodor shuts off Fairy Transfer and Verdant Wind.
Against Darkrai/Yveltal, I have Landorus and Zekrom. This was my most untested matchup and actually played out pretty weird. It was somewhat how I predicted it, but Sableye was a bit of an annoyance at times.
Against Blastoise/RayBoar, well I had Garbodor. If people had decreased their Scrapper counts like I had hoped, then it would be a favorable matchup.
The deck had solid matchups against the field, so I decided to just go for it.
R1 vs. Mark Garcia (RayBoar) T
R2 vs. Brian Gibbons (Plasma/Aromatisse) W
R3 vs. Chris Olson (Darkrai/Yveltal/Bouffalant) T
R4 vs. Cooper Harvey (Blastoise) W
R5 vs. Steven Stoyer (Darkrai/Yveltal) W
R6 vs. Anthony Desiata (Plasma/Lugia) W
R7 vs. Drew Bennett (Tool Drop) W
T8 vs. Seth Covitz (Dragonite) W
T4 vs. Jason Martinez (Darkrai/Yveltal/Bouffalant/Garbodor) W
T2 vs. Jeremy Jallen (Yveltal/Garbodor) W
This tournament was a crazy one. I went undefeated throughout the entire thing, going 8-0-2 at the end of top cut to win first place. I had intense games with both Jason Martinez and Jeremy Jallen in the Semi-Finals and Finals. Seth Covitz, Top 8 opponent, actually came up to me and scooped right after Swiss rounds were over, causing a whole lot of controversy because my buddy, Travis was at 9th place playing the same deck as I did. He bubbled at a heart-breaking 0.51%. Maybe if he didn’t have to play against a rogue Ninetales DRX/Amoonguss NXD deck, he could have made it because he ended at a 5-1-1 record and still missed cut.
Overall, this was an amazing tournament that I am so lucky and honored to have won. It is my first tournament win in the Masters division after various “tops” at multiple tournaments, and boy, am I glad that it could be won as big as States. I never thought that I could be the one to make a somewhat rogue deck that could actually win a tournament, but I guess I should have more confidence in myself. I’ll also be getting a first round bye at Nationals, so I’ll definitely be going in July. Please come say hi if you ever run into me!
If you guys want to check out my full detailed tournament report, please come check out my website; the report should be up in the next week or so. It’s a fairly new site that just started up in January, so hopefully it can grow into something like that of SixPrizes!
Thank you all for reading this article, I’m so grateful for Adam to be allowing me another opportunity to write for this awesome website.
Please “Like” this article if you enjoyed! All of the Underground writers work very hard to give you guys quality content, and the feedback helps us all out a lot!
Good luck to anyone that still has more States to go to; I’ll be going to Nevada this weekend to compete and see how I do. Until next time!
– Andrew Zavala
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