Hey everyone! We’re coming up on the final events of the 2016-2017 season so it’s a very exciting time in Pokémon. And even better — we just got a brand new set! Many players, myself included, are excited to see the format shake up in the coming weeks.
Although I have voiced my concerns with how the game might change, other players have helped assuage my fears. It seems that the format will simply slow down as we build our decks in ways to beat oppressive cards like Garbodor and Sylveon. Tapu Lele-GX will also introduce some much needed consistency to the game. I would certainly welcome a slower and more consistent format, but only time will tell if that’s what actually happens.
So far, most of the major new players such as Garbodor, Sylveon, Greninja, and Alolan Ninetales have been discussed by myself and other writers. Instead, I’ll mostly be going over existing archetypes and how you can update them to see if they’re still viable in the PRC–GRI format.
Let’s jump right in!
Old Faithful: Decidueye/Vileplume
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 30
Energy – 7
Decidueye/Vileplume is easily my favorite deck of the past 3 seasons. While it can be a tad inconsistent, almost every matchup is winnable and even the wildest comebacks can be achieved.
I finally feel comfortable cutting the Tauros-GX with the expected decline in play of Turbo Dark. Darkrai decks thrived on burning through Item cards (which now makes them very weak to Garbodor’s Trashalanche) and Field Blower neuters both their sustainability and damage output. I still found Tauros to be useful in other matchups, but Tapu Lele serves a much better purpose in that spot now.
Speaking of Lele, I’ve heard players talking about cutting Lugia entirely and only using Tapu Lele as an attacker. I would definitely not recommend this, as Deep Hurricane is one of the best ways to deal damage for Decidueye. When combined with 1-2 turns of Feather Arrow, you can easily clear any threat off the board. Tapu Lele is a great card in the deck, but it shouldn’t be the only attacker in most situations.
The only other addition to the list is Field Blower. As Garbodor GRI becomes popular, it opens the door for Garbodor BKP to be splashed into all kinds of decks. Since Garbotoxin is shutting off your Vileplume’s ability, you can play the Field Blower as soon as you find it to re-activate your abilities. It’s actually usually better to find and discard/use it early in the game, so you can Hollow Hunt for it whenever you need it. If your opponent doesn’t find an N (without the use of Tapu Lele’s ability!), you get a guaranteed tool removal without having to end your turn as you did with Beedrill-EX’s Double Scrapper.
The main problem with Decidueye now, and the reason I all but wrote it off when thinking about this format, is the ease at which players can find and chain Hex Maniac with Tapu Lele and Sylveon-GX. When searching through my bulk from Guardians Rising, I had this (potentially terrible) idea which could counter Hex Maniac:
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 29
Energy – 8
For all intents and purposes, you can basically play this like a normal Decidueye/Vileplume deck. You still have Tapu Lele-GX and Decidueye-GX to attack and the set up pieces are still there. However, you also have Sableye to stop your opponent from playing Hex Maniac or any other supporters! In conjunction with Vileplume’s Irritating Pollen, this lock may just give you wins outright. At the very least, it gives you a few turns of guaranteed Ability usage. When combined with N and Hollow Hunt for more Sableye/Rainbow Energy, you could keep Hex Maniac out of your opponent’s hand for a long time
In theory, you could even take this a step further by getting rid of the Vileplume line in favor of cards like Hex Maniac, Team Flare Grunt, and VS Seekers. This would give you a different kind of control over your opponent, but still neuter their ability to set up/attack.
This strategy might not have worked in prior formats where Ultra Ball -> Shaymin-EX used to be the primary draw power. However, with Tapu Lele seeming to take the spot of the most used “set up” Pokémon, you could take advantage of the shifting format pretty easily.
The combination of Supporter-lock plus constant damage from Decidueye’s Feather Arrow just seems like a lot for any deck to handle and should be explored further.
Rock Solid: Lycanroc/Carbink
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 33
Energy – 10
Alright, this one is a bit of a stretch, as Lycanroc doesn’t have any notable tournament finishes. However, I do think that Carbink’s Energy acceleration could be incredibly valuable if Sylveon sees as much play as the current hype would suggest. Plus, with the expected decline in popularity from Decidueye, Lycanroc could be poised for brilliance.
I’ve tried to build this deck to deal with the whole metagame. There’s the normal disruption and high damage strategy against most of the format. But you also have a slower mode where you attempt to minimize your item usage/discarding with cards like Skyla, Steven, Brooklet Hill, Scorched Earth, and Professor’s Letter. You can keep Garbodor at a low damage cap for a lot of the game, and even use Pokémon Center Lady to heal what little damage they do.
One odd thing you might notice in this list is the single copy of Lysandre. However, Lycanroc-GX GRI gives you the option to have a gust effect without playing your Supporter for turn. It also has a very strong GX attack so I know I’ll be using one to gust up and finish a target off at some point in the game. That knowledge makes me feel safe about including the single Lysandre. You could even but one of the other Lycanroc to fit a 3rd of the Guardians Risings ones. It would be a good way to more consistently have gust options available.
I’m not sure that the Carbink FCO 49 is all that useful, but it’s nice to be safe. I’ve heard tons of interest in Sylveon-GX centered decks so I want to be able to keep my energy on board whenever I can. It only protects the basic energy on Rockruff and your other Basic Pokémon, but with some patience, you may be able to set up for a late game sweep. Sylveon is able to 1HKO Carbink BREAK so you won’t have a ton of energy acceleration at will like you normally would, making the option to keep energy on your board even stronger.
Overall, my concern with this deck is that I’m trying too many things. Some games, you feel like you’re trying to deal heavy damage while also disrupting with energy denial and you don’t strike a good balance. The idea behind Lapras/Sylveon decks is that you can switch on and off between modes by drawing/searching for the cards you need every turn. Once you’ve disrupted them enough, you can shift gears into aggressive mode and wipe out their board in a few turns. Lycanroc often tends to play with both modes at once, which is doable but can be hard against things like Rayquaza with high HP and low energy cost + high damage attacks.
The Jet Setter: Rayquaza
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 32
Energy – 9
Speaking of Rayquaza, here’s another hybrid type of deck that could be good in the new format. Rayquaza is a deck I hadn’t even considered for the new format until I saw Sejun Park (2014 VGC World Champion) tweet out the list he used to win South Korea’s National tournament. Sejun is a well respected TCG player as well, winning a Day 2 invite for last year’s worlds and defeating yours truly in the 2nd round. The deck actually stands a good chance in the new metagame as it can 1HKO Sylveon with ease and play around Garbodor’s Trashalanche attack by playing fewer items than previous iterations.
Sejun’s list was built for the XY-GRI format, but it still can translate into ours. He plays a myriad of supporter cards and uses Tapu Lele to grab them at will. His list also has the option to use Battle Compressor + VS Seeker to find Supporters. Since we can’t use Battle Compressor in our PRC–GRI format, extra copies of Tapu Lele should serve a similar purpose. This also gives us decent attackers if our opponents tech in the new Sudowoodo to limit our bench space and neuter Rayquaza’s damage output.
Once again, we’re trying some less played supporter cards to search out the specific cards we need. Steven finds Energy Cards, Winona finds Pokémon (draw power with Shaymin!) and Skyla grabs the single Item we need to get our combo finished. You’ll usually have Item cards that you have no choice but to play, but as long as Garbodor is only hitting for 60-80 (+30 with Choice Band), you’ll be able to stay ahead in the Prize trade. That will even give you some leeway for playing items later in the game if you need to recharge your board.
The Gumshoos line is a cute idea that was championed by my good friend Sean Foisy. You can look at your opponent’s hand at the start of every turn, then make your decisions for the turn with full knowledge of the field. This is incredibly useful, especially now that you have Tapu Lele-GX to search out N, Hex Maniac, or Lysandre on demand. You skirt a fine line between playing aggressively and reacting to your opponent’s plays and it works out quite nicely.
Rayquaza really got helped out by the new Guardians Rising cards and what they do to the format. Field Blower gives you a way to deal with both Parallel City and Garbodor BKP at the same time. This can make all the difference after an N to 1-2, especially with Skyla. In addition, many other decks are playing with less speed so they aren’t as susceptible to Garbodor. This could give you the opening to blow decks like Volcanion out of the water. Magearna and the M Energy could be swapped out for a Carbink FCO 49 and some F Energy if Sylveon/basic energy denial becomes super popular. Right now, I like the Magearna to guard against Drampa-GX.
It could find some bad matchups in the format if Electric-focused decks like Tapu Koko-GX see play. Also, players could pick up Vespiquen (another bad matchup) if the new Oricorio GRI 56 doesn’t find its way into decks. However, as the format currently stands, it seems like Rayquaza will be a strong play.
Tips Against Sylveon
Let me leave you with one last bit before I go. I’ve heard so much hype about Sylveon and I’m not sure why it seems to be so popular. There are a lot of flaws with a deck like that and I think players should be able to take advantage of it pretty easily. Here are some tips I have for facing the deck:
- Aim to take quick knockouts. Decks like Rayquaza and M Gardevoir can do this with ease already. Magearna could be a card to build Big Basic-style decks around as it hits for weakness and can be charged up in 1 turn with Max Elixir. Volcanion and Waterbox decks have options to do this as well with cards like Turtonator-GX and Alolan Ninetales-GX being paired with Choice Band and Professor Kukui.
- Stop Eevee from evolving! If you play a Hex Maniac on the first turn, or start with a Wobbuffet, there’s a decent chance that your opponent won’t survive for long. Sylveon decks usually don’t play Pokémon search like Ultra Ball. And with N as the only draw supporter, it’s likely they can’t find a 2nd Eevee. You can deal 60 damage from here fairly easily to end the game before it starts.
- Oranguru > Delinquent. When Oranguru was first revealed, players noted that it would be a great counter to Delinquent. However, at the time, Delinquent wasn’t played very frequently. Now, many players are including high counts of Delinquent in their Sylveon lists, so you can use Oranguru to replenish your hand to a respectable level turn after turn. If they’re playing Delinquent as the supporter for turn, it’s unlikely that they’re disrupting you too much other than a potential Crushing Hammer discard. It should be relatively easy for you to recover from that with Oranguru’s Instruct guaranteeing you at least a 3 card hand.
After my misgivings that I outlined in the last article, I actually feel more excited about the PRC–GRI format now. Most of the players I’ve spoken with feel that it won’t be that difficult to adjust to the limitations and aggressiveness of Garbodor and Sylveon. After thinking more about deckbuilding and listening to my friends, I’m excited to start tackling the new format!
Unfortunately, I won’t be playing in as many tournaments as I’m used to for the next 6 weeks. I’m planning to sit out the remaining Regionals (and Special Event at Origins) as I have 8 finishes in that category. I think it’s a better use of my time and money to go to League Cups. Those points should also be better bets to help me lock up Top 16 in North America going into Worlds.
However, I’ll be looking forward to the North American International Championships! I’ll also be back here to document the decks I’ve been testing and which ones I like best next month! See ya then.
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