Greetings SixPrizes! Cori James here with my second article in as many years covering the ins and outs of a not so common deck – Gourgeist/Dusknoir. As with every new expansion, some cards are hyped for weeks prior to release date only to fade into tier 3 or rogue decks.
Gourgeist is arguably one of those cards that seemed so good in theory, but was difficult to use in practice. For such a low Energy cost its attacks hit hard and wide, dealing damage without fail. This article will cover how Gourgeist can be used successfully, a comparison of the potential gains and losses going into rotation, and how this deck could potentially become a threat after rotation with the introduction of Rising Fist and the improvement of Fighting.
First, I would like to go over my list that I used to achieve multiple top 4 finishes during League Challenges, including a 1st place, and a good showing during a Provincial tournament. This variant uses nearly no discarding cards and needs some explaining. Below is a must-have list, with four spots open for tweaking:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 35
1 Town Map
Energy – 7
The cards that I currently include in my list for the missing four spots are Sigilyph DRX (or LTR), Toxicroak-EX, Pal Pad, and Startling Megaphone. Sigilyph helps setting up while Toxicroak-EX places more damage on the field to later move via Dusknoir’s Sinister Hand Ability. Toxicroak-EX also serves as a boost against Darkrai-EX or Yveltal-EX, giving the player an extra turn or two to set up a Spirit Scream as both Dusknoir and Gourgeist are Weak to Dark-type Pokémon. The extra 30 or 50 Poison damage (assuming your opponent retreats the Active Poisoned Pokémon) can also come in handy later in the game when using Dusknoir’s Ability Sinister Hand.
Pal Pad is utilized for recycling Lysandre while allowing for Random Receiver to work effectively and prevent the need for the inclusion of a second Lysandre. Startling Megaphone is used to remove Genesect-EX’s G Booster and for a well-timed use of Dusknoir’s Sinister Hand Ability against a Garbodor Garbotoxin.
Typically I start any given match with a sacrifice card of either a Pumpkaboo or Duskull in the Active Spot. Because this deck requires manual attachment of each P Energy, only Pumpkaboos, Sigilyph, or Toxicroak-EX on the Bench will receive the Energy attachment. Even if the Benched Pokémon with the Energy is unwillingly promoted through Pokémon Catcher or Lysandre, the opponent is still burning a precious resource that could have been used later in the game against a Dusknoir or fully-powered Gourgeist.
A Duskull has a P Energy attached only when using the Revival attack, and even then the attack is used in special cases late game for great effect. Two cases in particular are when an opponent puts either a Jirachi-EX or Exeggcute PLF into their discard pile, which can then be put onto an opponent’s Bench via Revival for an easy one or 2 Prizes through Sinister Hand.
The next step is to get Pumpkaboos Benched as quickly as possible in order to have them cycle. The idea is to get an Eerie Voice attack off by turn two to start spreading damage. The second attack, Spirit Scream, is commonly reserved for EXs that are Poisoned and can be Knocked Out for 2 Prizes. Dusknoir should only be Benched if a Duskull was forced into play early in the game, if there is enough damage on the field to take a Prize, or if it is conveniently in the player’s hand.
The ideal setup for this deck is to have damage spread across the field, Town Map played, Dusknoir on the Bench, the opponent’s Active Pokémon Poisoned, and an Active Gourgeist with two Energy attached.
It seems like a lot to ask for, but because almost every card in the deck can be useful and played when drawn, this particular situation occurs often enough to be effective. Running four Bicycles increases the odds of achieving this position. Having at least one Hypnotoxic Laser Prized is very useful as well as it can be selected at a critical moment through Town Map.
When this setup is achieved, Dusknoir’s Ability allows for the player to move damage onto desired Benched Pokémon, select whichever Prize is most useful, ensure the opponent’s Active Pokémon is Poisoned, and then use Spirit Scream to take one or two more Prizes from the Knocked Out Active Pokémon. Sure, Gourgeist is left with 10 HP, but the tradeoff is well worth the cost. Often taking Prizes comes out of nowhere and catches the opponent off guard.
Druddigon is good as a Bench threat and could disrupt your opponent’s plans, even if you have no intention of using it. For a cheap two C Energy Druddigon could place a sizeable 90 damage on the field and allow Dusknoir to take a Prize the following turn through the use of the Sinister Hand Ability.
Rarely do I find myself able to move a precious P Energy anywhere to save it, but even a small chance of preserving an Energy can be effective if played correctly. Late game Energy Switches from Sigilyph to Gourgeist for a Prize or two could end up winning the game.
I originally had this card in the failed category, but reconsidered later. It has been several months since my original version of Gourgeist/Dusknoir, which included Mr. Mime in it to protect the Duskulls and Pumpkaboos, and also created another target other than Gourgeist. Depending on what decks are popular in a particular area, Mr. Mime could either be a lifesaver or Ultra Ball fodder.
Although a staple in most powerful decks, Professor Juniper often discards too many critical cards to allow this deck to last. Most cards can be played when drawn leaving the player with a low deck count and running the risk of decking yourself. Additionally, losing even one Gourgeist to a Professor Juniper can be detrimental as the idea of this deck is to stream Gourgeists for spread damage and 1HKOs. Professor Juniper could increase the speed of the deck, but through playtesting I found the costs outweighed the benefits in most games.
When I first built this deck I felt that Bronzong was a must have! How perfect would it be to spread unhealable damage? Alas, like most setup decks, Gourgeist and Dusknoir eat up most of this deck’s resources and including a 2-2 or 1-1 Bronzong line was not worth it.
This card seems like a good choice for preserving Energy, but was found to be ineffective due to Tool Scrapper or Startling Megaphone. Because Exp. Share was found to be so inefficient, no Tools were included in this deck because they ended up discarded, and cards like Muscle Band do not increase Gourgeist’s damage output.
These cards could sometimes slow down your opponent, but often will only buy one turn, if that. This deck does not have enough room to make efficient use of Crushing Hammer or Enhanced Hammer in most situations.
Most Gourgeists are Knocked Out too quickly for this to be useful.
Usually the Active Pokémon is the one with the Energy attached and consequently the one that should be targeted. Pokémon Catcher only has a 50% chance of success, so the odds for this card are not high enough to merit inclusion.
So what is holding this Spirit Screaming gourd back from taking tournaments by storm? The answer is twofold – Virizion/Genesect variants and Darkrai or Yveltal variants. Virizion-EX prevents the Poison condition needed for taking multiple Prizes and Darkrai-EX or Yveltal-EX variants currently dominate in tournaments and can easily destroy a Dark-Weak Pumpkaboo, Gourgeist, or Dusknoir in one hit.
With the introduction of Pyroar and the strengthening of Fire decks in general, the use of Virizion-EX and Genesect-EX is threatened, but not eliminated. Including Raichu XY in Virizion/Genesect decks creates another Bench target for Eerie Voice. Come fall with the introduction to Rising Fist and the improvement of Fighting-type Pokémon, Darkrai-EX may also start taking punches.
For a deck like Gourgeist/Dusknoir to have a chance all it needs is for these two decks to decrease in popularity – even marginally.
Gourgeist has a slightly favorable matchup against Pyroar decks because the 60-90 damage does not 1-shot this gourd. Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser are always threats to Knocking Out Gourgeist, but because there are typically no EXs on the player’s field there is an even Prize tradeoff. With Gourgeist’s 100 HP the opponent is forced to burn resources to Knock Out Gourgeist.
Not all is doom and gloom for these fun little pumpkins! Gourgeist’s Eerie Voice attack goes through Mr. Mime’s Bench Barrier Ability and only needs Virbank City Gym for increasing damage spread and not the knockout. The Energy count is intentionally low as Gourgeist requires a maximum of two P Energy. Super Rod can be played throughout the game to replenish either Pokémon or Energy, depending on the situation. I usually use two Super Rods specifically for shuffling in a total of four P Energy and two Pumpkaboos early in the game. The last is used on a game-to-game basis.
By far the best advantage of using a Gourgeist/Dusknoir build is that this deck does not rely on Weakness or Resistance for winning. It does not matter whether the opponent is playing something that Resists Psychic or, consequently, is Weak to Psychic as placing damage counters or dropping both Pokémon to 10 HP does not constitute attack damage. A Pokémon Knocked Out by Hypnotoxic Laser between turns also does not trigger attack damage effects.
Decks such as Blastoise and Emboar variants usually have a pretty full Bench that can be exploited through Eerie Voice for maximum damage spread. If Bench-heavy decks that attach Energy from the hand are common in your area, including a Frozen City Stadium can discourage your opponent from attaching too many Energy cards at once, lest they take the damage for the attachments.
Aromatisse variants are also susceptible to Gourgeist as whatever they attach Energy to should automatically become the primary target for a Spirit Scream Gourgeist or Dusknoir’s Sinister Hand Ability. These two decks are pretty evenly matched for setup time and Gourgeist can easily Knock Out whichever Pokémon has the Energy attached to it.
So you may read this article, be really excited to grow your own crop of gourds for competitive play, but question how bad this deck will do come rotation. Fortunately this deck is not likely to lose game-breaking cards that other decks will likely lose such as Dark Patch.
The cards this deck will likely lose are Town Map, Level Ball, and Super Rod. Sigilyph and Random Receiver are secret rares and, unless the rules change or more sets than usual are cut, should remain in format. Town Map represents the biggest loss to Gourgeist/Dusknoir with Prizes remaining a mystery. Mid-turn Prizes can still be taken, but the strategic aspect of Prize selection will be eliminated.
Level Ball and Super Rod have roughly similar equivalents in Pokémon Fan Club (or Great Ball), Sacred Ash, and Superior Energy Retrieval. This deck will function differently, but can still maintain the core strategy with these substitutions.
The biggest gains for Gourgeist/Dusknoir come post-rotation Rising Fist are Resistance to Fighting, Darkrai-EX’s Weakness to Fighting, and the potential introduction of the Training Center Stadium. Earlier in the article I mentioned the two biggest threats to this deck are Virizion/Genesect and Dark variants. Pyroar represents a partial threat to Virizion/Genesect and Rising Fist represents a partial threat to Darkrai variants.
Regardless of level of impact, if Pyroar and Fighting decks become a credible enough threat come fall, Gourgeist will likely find a niche to Scream its way to victory and have a puncher’s chance.