Hey all, I’m back with an article I’m really excited to share with you all. The current Standard format is pretty stale and I’m ready for some major changes. Luckily for us, the new Guardians Rising set is going to bring a ton of innovation into the format. A handful of cards in the set like Tapu Lele-GX and Fieldblower will have immediate impact on how we build decks, while others like Tapu Koko-GX will definitely see play at some point in their competitive lifetime.
For today, I think it’s more interesting to go over some of the new decks from Guardians Rising than to continue to rehash our current Standard format. Every major deck in the PRC-SUM format has been covered extensively, and you can see that content in the Underground archives. I will, however, end this article with a few words on the current format and my #1 choice for Virginia, so stay tuned for that.
Without further ado, here are some of the new decks I’m excited to try out.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 40
1 Team Rocket’s Handiwork
Energy – 11
For this deck, I’ve basically started with the Lapras list that I played in Brazil. We played Max Elixir to better deal with the Volcanion we expected, but thankfully we’re able to play Puzzle of Time in that slot now. Otherwise, all of the cards that you could want are basically the same between the two decks.
I’m incredibly interested in testing out Sylveon as it has a nearly foolproof gameplan against Decidueye. Being able to search out Hex Maniac turn after turn is insane. On the first turn, you grab a Hex Maniac and a VS Seeker, as well as the disruption card necessary for the next turn. After that, you can just grab 2 Puzzle of Time, plus another card, turn after turn. Just make sure you always have a physical copy of Hex Maniac in your hand or deck at the end of your turn, or else you could be locked out of your own lock by their Vileplume. They usually only play 3 N, and you could even prevent them from ever getting a Hollow Hunt off to find more N in the games that go right. After they’re all gone, you should have a nearly guaranteed win, either by deckout or slowly taking prizes. Professor Kukui might help here, turning a 3HKO on a Decidueye into a 2HKO.
Against other decks, your gameplan is to starve them of Energy and out-damage them after that, just like Lapras. If you’re unfamiliar with that deck, check out Xander’s write up on it from a few weeks ago. Slyveon is almost strictly better than Lapras though, as the GX attack gives you a better gameplan against Volcanion and Darkrai. Lapras has problems with both decks when they charge up attackers with bench-based acceleration like Volcanion STS or Yveltal XY. Sylveon gets to force those large attackers back into their owner’s hands, setting them back 3+ turns and giving you a way to win the game.
The only thing that could make Lapras better is the consistent healing from Rough Seas. I’m hoping that Max Potion can make up for that loss. With testing, I’ll find out if I have to up the count to make it worthwhile, and whether the Energy count will need to increase to make up for discarding them frequently.
I’m also curious about the Ball count, since finding Eevee in timely spots without wasting one of the 3 cards I get with Magical Ribbon could be crucial. The Ultra Balls are important, as I’m afraid of being locked out of the game by my opponent’s Wobbuffet before I get my first Sylveon. The problem here is having to discard 2 valuable cards to use it, but I don’t see any better option.
Overall, Sylveon seems like one of the best control decks we’ve had in years. It has answers to almost everything in the format, but I’m afraid it might be outclassed by the next deck I want to mention.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 35
Energy – 11
The new Garbodor has so much going for it. Stage 1, more than 100 HP, gives up only one prize, deals insane amounts of damage: what else could you want? I’ll make the claim now. Garbodor GUR will be part of the BDIF at least once during its competitive lifecycle. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s much of a bold statement to make, so I probably won’t be impressing many if I turn out to be right.
Garbodor can fit into almost any deck, but I’m starting off by pairing it with Tapu Lele-GX and Tauros-GX. Both of them are potent threats when not dealt with appropriately. You force your opponent to quickly deal with your attacker (or lose the game), which makes them play their Item cards. Later, this will fuel Garbodor’s Trashalanche, but your opponent won’t have any way around it. That’s really the whole point of the deck.
For the first iteration, I’m only focused on pure power, with a few tech cards. Tapu Lele-GX seems way too good not to play in high amounts, and it lets you play all kinds of disruption supporters. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even play the tech supporters, focusing on speed with Trainers’ Mail and maybe Max Elixir to power up Tapu Lele’s Energy Drive.
Another variant of the deck plays Crushing Hammer, continually forcing your opponent to use Item cards to search for Energy. My thought is to instead see if the deck can win without a focus on Energy denial. That would open up my options for playing the deck both now and in the future. As the metagame evolves or rotations happen, you could have that space to fit in tech Pokémon, other Pokémon lines, etc.
In the near future, I actually expect deckbuilding to change drastically. As Garbodor punishes you for playing Item cards and Tapu Lele allows you to easily find Supporter cards, I think we’ll see less Item-based draw and more Supporter-based draw. Decks could play 14+ Supporters and 2+ Tapu Lele, while cutting Items like Trainers’ Mail and Acro Bike. Speed won’t be as much of a focus, since you might be punished for burning through your deck so quickly. Plus, with VS Seeker (almost assuredly) rotating out, you have to swap 4 Items out of your deck anyways.
In the interim, I think a deck like this will let you punish players who are behind the curve and unable to adapt to a new style of play. Only time will tell just how dramatically these 2 Pokémon can change the game.
Pokémon – 22
Trainers – 30
4 Trainers’ Mail
Energy – 8
Of course, right after I talk about how deck construction will shift away from Item-
based draw engines, I showcase a deck that completely ignores that idea. This deck is
essentially a Vespiquen/Vileplume list from last format, but I’ve swapped in Trevenant for Vespiquen. This deck is super simple: punish your opponent for not being able to/not wanting to play Item cards, then punish them for discarding/using them later. Trevenant and Garbodor seem like a match made in heaven.
The first iteration of this list is completely bare bones, but there are some other options I want to try out. Almost any other Supporter card could fit into this deck, as it’d be accessible with Tapu Lele when you need it. Olympia comes to mind immediately as a way to get Vileplume out of the active spot. Team Skull Grunt would be a good way to punish your opponent as they desperately attempt to stop you from quickly taking your prizes. Team Rocket’s Handiwork or Delinquent could even let you amass more Items in the discard in a pinch.
Garbodor BKP and Field Blower could both be added to give you more control over when you/your opponent can and can’t play Item cards. Unfortunately, Field Blower would probably have to be at least a 2-of to make timely use of it, and you’d probably want a Skyla in that case. However, you do have Tapu Lele, so an Ultra Ball can turn into Skyla to grab Field Blower (assuming Vileplume and Ability lock aren’t present on the board).
If you’re adding the other Garbodor, I would probably want another Float Stone as well. You could even beef up the Garbodor GUR line to 3-3 or just add another Trubbish to accommodate the copy of Garbodor BKP. A Revitalizer could turn into a Rescue Stretcher if you find yourself wanting other Pokémon back as well. Trevenant BREAK is another Pokémon that could fit in as you already play Psychic Energy.
One other thought I had was that this deck might not even need Vileplume! You could actually convert the deck and play 4-4 Trevenant and 4-4 Garbodor instead. I would want to play less of an Item-based draw engine now that I’m not focused as heavily on the T1 Vileplume, which would also help against other Vileplume and/or Garbodor decks. You’d probably need more disruption at that point, so I’d use the extra space on Energy denial cards and/or other disrupting Supporters.
Although I am excited for some shake-ups in the format, I’m also somewhat concerned. These 3 decks that I’ve highlighted are all focused on either disrupting your opponent or punishing them for executing their set-up strategy. Maybe we’ll start to see some changes as we shift our mentality towards deck building, but Items will probably still be a major part of every deck. If you need those Items to set up, but playing Items means that you’re taking an increasingly high amount of damage each turn, you’re stuck in a nearly impossible situation.
With only 9 Items needed in the discard to KO most Basic Pokémon, I forsee games being even quicker than before. Think about it, 9 Items is only 3 Trainers’ Mail, 3 Max Elixir, 2 Ultra Ball, and 1 VS Seeker. Volcanion goes through at least that much in 2 turns. Plus, we have Field Blower to discard Fighting Fury Belt (if it’s even played anymore now that we have Choice Band). However, we do have a 50 minute time limit for best of 3 matches, so the increased speed of decks might be useful there.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope Garbodor isn’t the wrecking ball I envision it to be. If that’s the case, the format actually looks very promising. Decidueye/Vileplume has more counters than ever, with Turtonator-GX potentially making Volcanion better and Hex Maniac being searchable via Tapu Lele-GX. Although I enjoy playing Decidueye, I think it’s just too oppressive for the format. Field Blower opens up tons of options for Ability-based decks. Choice Band punishes the big basic style decks that have always plagued the format (Darkrai/Mewtwo of 2012, Team Plasma of 2013, Yveltal of 2014-current). It seems that we have more options than ever.
In the meantime, I encourage you all to get out and test! Maybe Garbodor can be neutered by simply switching up the way we build decks as I mentioned earlier. Or, smart play to keep Items out of the discard when necessary could do enough. It’s too early to tell, but I’m hoping to find out soon!
Rather unsurprisingly, Decidueye is my top pick for Virginia. The results from the Brazil International Championship seem to prove that the deck can survive even in metagames that are hostile to it. Volcanion, Rayquaza, and Lapras were all played in Brazil and with the intention of defeating Decidueye, yet Decidueye still dominated the tournament. In my mind, the deck is too oppressive and hard to counter to not play it.
Since my article where I discussed Decidueye in depth, I’ve actually started to think that the Rainbow Energy version might be worth consideration. Jolteon and Regice give you a theoretically easy win against Volcanion, even when you whiff the T1 Vileplume. Running Regice also gives you a great counter to Mewtwo, a matchup that can be a problem when they have time to build up a giant Mewtwo with 5+ Energy.
I’m currently trying to decide whether I want to run the Rainbow version to have better Mewtwo and Volcanion matchups or the normal version to be better against the mirror. In the normal version, I’m testing out 2 Lugia vs 1 Tauros + 1 Lugia, as well as the merits of Beedrill-EX. Right now, I think the “normal” version with a Beedrill is the safest but I’m going to continue to test Decidueye builds. Connor Finton made Top 4 in Brazil with the list I posted a bit ago, so I’m very confident in that list’s ability to get wins.
Even though Garbodor isn’t played that much, I’m leaning towards keeping the Beedrill-EX in the list. It has won me several matches that I otherwise would have assuredly lost, and if it wins me even a single game, I think it’s worth the space. It actually has uses past discarding tools from Garbodor. I’ve used Double Scrapper on Spirit Links, EXP. Share, Fighting Fury Belt, and other Pokémon’s Float Stone. Stranding a Wobbuffet in the active spot actually can help you to set up, giving you access to your Items to build up another Decidueye. You can quickly dispatch that Wobbuffet using Razor Leaf one turn, then bringing something else up with Lysandre and hitting Wobbuffet with Feather Arrow.
One way or another, I’ll almost certainly be playing some version of Decidueye in Virginia.
With only 2 months left in the season, it’s more imperative than ever to make sure you squeeze every CP out of the events you have left. Personally, I’m going to be playing a safely as possible as I fight to stay in Top 16. I can only go to 2-3 more Regionals and 4-6 League Cups, so I’ll be sticking to decks that are proven contenders wherever I can.
Good luck in your upcoming events! Be sure to say hi if you see me in Virginia or Toronto.
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