Hello everyone! My name is Kiernan Wagner, and I’m a player in the Senior Division from Iowa. I’m so glad to be writing my first article for SixPrizes! I feel that since this is my first article, it would be only appropriate to introduce myself. I’ve been around Pokémon since I was pretty young, but I started playing the game competitively last year during Cities. In addition to playing Pokémon, I’m particularly fond of music and basketball. I’m currently at 300 Championship Points, with a large chunk of my points coming from Fort Wayne Regionals, where I took 3rd, using the deck that I’ll be talking all about today: Sableye/Garbodor!
Ft. Wayne Fall Regionals Flashback
To kick things off, I’m going to go ever the event where I fell in love with this deck, and became hooked on this particular form of lock: total denial. I won’t go into too much detail with my tournament report, since it’s pretty dated at this point. I had heard about the deck before and had kept it in the back of my mind, as fellow writer Dylan Dreyer posted a list for it a few weeks earlier, but it wasn’t until my good friend Austin Baggs gave Nick Robinson and myself a list for the deck on Friday that we began testing it. We noticed a few minor issues, so we changed eight or so cards and we were set!
Here is the list we played:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 40
Energy – 6
This list ended up being very rough and far from optimal. I’ll spend a small amount of time talking about unconventional card counts, or cards that I would change if I could go back and play this event again.
The reasoning for this was simple. When we were packing, I grabbed this Trubbish with the line of thinking that the only way I’d play Garbodor at Regionals was in Manectric/Tool Drop. I did really like the 70 HP because if Trubbish was stuck Active on the first turn with me going second, and a Seismitoad player used Hypnotoxic Laser, I wouldn’t get Knocked Out going back into the Seismitoad player’s turn. Despite the fact that it gets Knocked Out anyway coming back into my turn, whenever Seismitoad gets a Knock Out going into its turn, it provides the player with a monumental advantage.
I was never really in a situation where I could’ve used Trubbish NVI’s first attack but not Junk Hunt. My reasoning for this was that any excess Float Stones I had that weren’t attached to Garbodor would usually get discarded with my own Tool Scrapper after I used them to retreat something that had been pulled Active with Lysandre. Afterward, I would grab Float Stone with Junk Hunt, holding onto it until I’d need it next.
All in all, it’s a toss-up whether I would keep this one or use the one from Noble Victories should I play this deck again.
1 Virizion-EX, 3 Blend Energy
The main purposes of this combo were for the Seismitoad, Yveltal, and Sableye (mirror) matchups — to keep up from being slowed down by Special Conditions. This was extremely tunnel-visioned and Nick and I both agree we wouldn’t play Blend and Virizion if we ever played this deck again, with the reasoning being this: Garbodor is infinitely better against Yveltal and Seismitoad, neutralizing the mobility of Keldeo-EX. Against Sableye, it’s too easy for them to Enhanced Hammer off the Blend. I would switch the Blends to Darks, and try to free up one more space for 2 Full Heal — if I were expecting a lot of Yveltal or Sableye.
One of the most common questions we get is why we only play one of these, since the ultimate goal of Sableye is to deck the opponent out. The biggest thing to understand is that this isn’t a mill card. If you’re playing this card as a mill card, you aren’t being actively productive — you’re simply accelerating the game state. By playing this card, you’re burning a single card to burn a single card belonging to your opponent, thus keeping the game state equal to what it was before, except for the fact that you and your opponent each has access to 1 less card now.
The correct way to play it is as a control card. For example, I have the lock established, I’m playing against a deck like Vespiquen, and a single Blacksmith could put them back into the game. I use Trick Shovel, look at the top card if my opponent’s deck and see that it is a Vespiquen (or some other Pokémon). Because this is a card that wouldn’t be useful to my opponent, I shouldn’t discard it, and rather, keep it on top of their deck, so they’ll draw into it next turn, triggering another turn of drawing and passing. Had that card been something like a VS Seeker, which they could use to get Blacksmith out of their discard pile, discarding it would obviously have been the superior play in that situation.
Overall, while the list is full of small imperfections here and there, I’m happy with how it performed, and I think that the concept as a whole is extremely strong. I’ll give a quick rundown of how my matches went throughout the weekend.
R1: Yveltal — WT
R2: Seismitoad/Giratina — WW
R3: M Rayquaza/Hex Maniac — WT
R4: Seismitoad/Giratina — LT
R5: Archie’s Blastoise — WT
R6: M Manectric — WT
R7: Seismitoad/Bats — ID
T8: Seismitoad/Giratina — WW
T4: Sableye/Garbodor w/ Lasers — LL
I definitely had a solid run, and even though I didn’t win, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.
Next, I’m going to go over how this deck fares against some of the most popular archetypes in the game right now.
Archie’s Blastoise: 65/35
This matchup is generally pretty favorable, but there are ways your opponent could steal a win. The most important thing for the Sableye player in this matchup is going first. If you can get down multiple Trubbish and end your first turn with a Hex Maniac, it immediately becomes an uphill battle for the Blastoise player. They’ll have a hard time even establishing any sort of attacker, let alone a dominating board state.
With that in mind, if your opponent goes first, they will have the chance to set up a Blastoise and load up Energy on as many Pokémon as possible. If they establish a Keldeo with a Float Stone and 3 Energy along with a Blastoise with 4 Energy, there isn’t much you can do to fight back.
To combat this issue, many Sableye players have been including Wobbuffet PHF. Starting with this card makes it infinitely harder for your opponent to able to get their hand size down to use Archie’s Ace in the Hole. Even if they do manage to use the card that means they won’t be able use Lysandre to get Wobbuffet out of the Active Spot to use Deluge. This means that unless they play Escape Rope, you’ve already established an oppressive board state. Even going second, if you’re able to use Crushing Hammers and/or Team Flare Grunt to rid your opponent’s Active Pokémon of at least 2 Energy and end your turn with Wobbuffet Active, you’re in an amazing position.
This is arguably Sableye’s best matchup. They only play 4 Energy that can even be placed on Seismitoad-EX, and you play 5 Supporters that have a purpose of Energy denial. Generally you want to start the game by getting out as many Sableye as you can, and hopefully attaching a Life Dew on the Active. Getting a Trubbish on the Bench is also extremely helpful, although you shouldn’t stress out if you fail to do so, as a lot of the time it’s not necessary.
Progression of the game is generally fairly linear. They aim to apply early pressure with Seismitoad-EX, while you power through the Item lock with Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic. They transition into Giratina-EX after running out of Double Colorless Energy, and you just utilize your Hammers or VS Seekers to get back Team Flare Grunt or Xerosic if need be. The game generally ends with your opponent running out of Energy and you using Bunnelby to mill them until they either deck out or concede.
Night March: 75/25
This is another extremely favorable matchup for the deck, due to their low count of Energy and lack of any sort of recovery aside from a possible single Super Rod. Their best option is to utilize Sky Return with Mew-EX’s Versatile along with Dimension Valley and a Double Colorless to ensure that even a Head Ringer won’t stunt their flow of damage, however this is combated with ease by Garbodor. Once Garbodor is established, the game is generally in your hands from there, as using Sky Return with Shaymin-EX will result in a Head Ringer shutting down their plans.
This matchup is easily one of the deck’s toughest. Yveltal XY and Dark Patch keep a consistent stream of Energy in play, not to mention that a Muscle Banded Keldeo-EX can Knock Out a Sableye in one hit. Garbodor is a helpful card in this matchup, but it is usually not enough. If your opponent plays the matchup the way they should — only benching Yveltal XY, Keldeo-EX, and the occasional Darkrai-EX — I wouldn’t get your hopes high on winning.
The final matchup that I’ll be talking about tonight is a rather strange one. On one hand, Vespiquen/Flareon suffers the same Energy-lacking issues that Night March suffers from, but on the other hand, intelligent use of Blacksmith could very well carry them through the game. Smart use of Trick Shovel and aggressive use of Bunnelby will be invaluable when playing against this deck.
Revising the Deck for Future Events
I wholeheartedly believe that up until the day a hard counter is released or Sableye gets banned, this deck will continue to have an oppressive and dominating presence on the Expanded format. After all of the things I’ve spoken about today, this is how I’d most likely build the deck:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 41
Energy – 6
This card is insanely strong against the mirror, where your opponent will try desperately to utilize Hypnotoxic Laser and Confuse Ray to take Prizes. Most of the time, playing the mirror in Swiss will result in a tie, unless you can get lucky and use Trick Shovel to get rid of Super Rod and lock something like a Shaymin-EX Active. In a top cut situation, if and when the match goes to time, sudden death will occur. In sudden death, the immediate game plan must become to Laser and Confuse Ray and to keep your opponent from doing the same. If you’re expecting any Sableye at all in whatever event you attend, this inclusion is worth it.
Laser is mainly just there for the Sleep flip, giving you the ability to deprive your opponent of productivity in yet another way. With that in mind however, the damage is extremely valuable over time, especially in the mirror match.
AZ is a strong utility card that I love having around. Being able to draw more cards with Shaymin-EX, Stellar Guidance a second time, or pick something up that has been pulled Active when you don’t have access to Float Stone can provide a monumental advantage. I regret not including it in my original list, as it would’ve been extremely helpful in my Top 4 match.
More often than not, the 60 damage being healed off doesn’t make much of a difference, but it’s useful against things like Yveltal XY that aren’t necessarily Knocking you Out in one hit. The catch for me is that you can practically negate an entire turn of Quaking Punch and Hypnotoxic Laser by healing off the damage from Quaking Punch and the Special Condition. I know there are flaws in this plan, like when they have access to Laser, Virbank, Muscle Band, and DCE all in one turn, but once you established that lock, chances are that their Supporter for the turn is going to go toward an AZ or a Xerosic to keep themselves in the game, so they won’t be able to put together all of the pieces of the puzzle.
Another nice thing is the fact that you can grab it with VS Seeker, which is strong in the mirror when you’re going to be either Junk Hunting for multiple Crushing Hammers or using Confuse Ray a lot of the time.
This card was originally suggested to me by two good friends of mine, Jeffrey Cheng and Sam Hough. Originally, this was a 2nd Laser and a Virbank City Gym. I was turned away by the fact that it made Bunnelby getting stuck Active a very real issue. Sam quickly pointed out how often I tended to use Tool Scrapper and Junk Hunt to make sure I had a Float Stone in hand, and if I didn’t, I could always use AZ. That logic put me back onto the card, and it’s been testing extremely well. If you still aren’t sold, things like Silent Lab or Parallel City are always options.
Most of the other cards are pretty standard, so I feel that explaining them would be rather redundant.
Two Worthy Adversaries
Finally, I’m going to give lists for two decks that I think have a very real possibility of beating Sableye.
These two decks are two of the three big decks that I have on my radar (with Sableye of course being the fourth) with Winter Regionals just around the corner.
Pokémon – 27
Trainers – 26
1 Life Dew
Energy – 7
As I mentioned earlier, Vespiquen/Flareon has the potential to put in a lot of work against Sableye, and this list just furthers that potential. Milotic PRC can provide late-game stability, allowing you to get back a VS Seeker for Blacksmith, or a Double Colorless Energy that the Sableye player got rid of early on. In addition to this, cards like Float Stone and Parallel City turn potential Lysandre targets into non-issues.
Unfortunately to fit all of these cards in, something had to be cut. You really only ever need 7 “Vengeance Pokémon” at most per game — you can give up 6 knockouts, and one functions as a form of Prize insurance or as a target for Life Dew. The reason a Vespiquen was cut over a Flareon was the fact that Blacksmith efficiency is extremely valuable.
The other deck I’ll be talking about is a little concoction of my own. The concept has been around since Canadian Nationals, where it made Top 4, although it never really saw much play outside of that event.
After winning two Standard Cities with Vespiquen decks that played a high count of Yveltal XY, I instantly fell in love with the card due to its ability to trade efficiently with Night Marchers and the add assurance against Giratina-EX. In the Expanded format, I wanted a beat-all deck, and the result was this:
Pokémon – 24
Trainers – 28
Energy – 8
This deck is very much a counter deck, like the Flareon decks from the 2013-2014 season. The idea is to have some sort of counter to almost anything that you may be expecting. The reason this is so good against Sableye is because you’re simply able to circulate Oblivion Wings to keep your Energy in play. Eventually with the bats, Oblivion Wing will start being able to overwhelm your opponent’s Sableye, and you’ll more than likely be able to power through the Junk Hunt brigade.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this! I’ve had a great experience writing for 6P, and I hope that I get the chance to do so in the future. Whether you’re playing in an Expanded City Championships or in a Winter Regionals, Sableye is a card that should definitely be on your mind, whether you’re playing it or countering it. The deck is so intricate and has so many layers, and I thoroughly believe that testing with it and against it are worth your time.