Greetings friends. Travis Nunlist here with an article covering probably the most hyped card out of our newest Pokémon set: Gardevoir-GX. Since we last spoke, the NAIC took place, and per everyone’s expectations ended up being the largest Pokémon event in the history of the game! I don’t think anything terribly exciting happened deck-wise as the clear BDIF of last format and this format ended up squaring off in the finals with Drampa/Garbodor taking the entire event — but the event overall seemed like a major success for the Pokémon Trading Card Game.
The implications of Vileplume and Garbodor taking the Top 2 spots of the biggest tournament in history seems somewhat obvious to me: Items are still the most powerful cards in the game and despite players’ best deck building adjustments targeting them is still an incredibly powerful strategy. Moving forward for worlds this is absolutely something to keep in mind and definitely something you want to be aware of when deck building. Vileplume and Garbodor have both proven that item-hate is not going anywhere and will continue to dominate if they cannot be properly handled.
While I am incredibly sad I missed the NAIC, this has given me ample time to prepare for 2017 Pokémon World Championship in Anaheim. I was actually sleeving up Burning Shadows proxies for testing while everyone else was attending the NAIC, which I hope has given me a bit of a jump on a lot of the other players that will be attending the event. The first and most obvious card I found myself enamored with was Gardevoir-GX. I just cannot believe how powerful of a card it appears to be at first glance, and just knew that I had to get in and start testing it ASAP. Here I’ll be going over every single card that I have personally tried in the deck, advantages and disadvantages of their inclusion, and then will share my personal list with a bit of a discussion on my selections.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 19
Energy – 10
20 free slots
I did my best to leave this skeleton as bare bones as possible to show you that despite being a Stage 2 deck, Gardevoir-GX actually has a surprising amount of room to work with. Because it is such an inherently powerful card you don’t need a whole lot else to go with it other than just doing your best to ensure you can set it up every game! As long as you can get out more than 1 Gardevoir-GX every single game you should be in a fine position. Now let’s go over all the options Gardevoir has at its disposal:
This is a card I almost included in the skeleton because of how valuable it is, but ultimately decided against it as I wanted to keep it focused on Gardevoir-GX. Gallade BKT has been a great card since it was printed and overall just has incredibly powerful stats for a non-EX Pokémon. The typing, Attack, and Ability on the card are all very powerful, and it’s just very well rounded in general. We’ve seen Gallade played in decks with a focus on Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick alongside Archeops NVI in expanded or all by itself in Standard last year and as a deck by itself. There is no doubt that Gallade BKT is very powerful, and being apart of the same Evolution line as Gardevoir-GX makes it an invaluable addition. The last time there was a good Gardevoir and Gallade legal at the same time, it was the undisputed BDIF for a decent portion of its legality and the combo was always good — I’m certain this combo has just as much potential.
I actually forgot about this card until I was going through bulk somewhat recently. The ability to heal 20 from your entire board essentially gives you Rough Seas-like durability and can aid the tanky nature of the 230 HP beast that is the GX. It significantly improves your matchup against things trying to spread on you like Tapu Koko and Decidueye-GX, and can really hinder any strategies trying to utilize Espeon-EX for a devolve strategy. The snipe attack is decent, but if your opponent is able to put pressure on you early, it can become difficult to justify evolving into this Gardevoir instead of the GX or Gallade. It ultimately comes down to how impactful this card is in certain matchups and the perception of how popular those matchups may be at an event.
This is a card that has had hit and miss success since it was printed. With the release of Tapu Lele, it has become even more powerful due to the decline of Shaymin-EX’s playability and the increased popularity of a T1 Tapu Lele into Brigette. This combo has become a very powerful play that a healthy portion of decks currently try to utilize, and it turns out that Remoraid is a fantastic option to grab off of a T1 Brigette for any deck giving you 2 other Basics and access to steady draw the following turn. To make the argument for the eight-legged friend even more powerful, the combo was already an optimal inclusion for the Gallade-focused deck I mentioned earlier as the Premonition/Abyssal Hand combo gives you incredible control over what cards you’re drawing and can help make your setup even more explosive — once the two are online.
In my mind Remporaid BKT 32 is still the superior option as Ion Pool is much more impactful than Wild River. Discarding Stadiums is much more useful than switching, especially when neither attack does damage. Also, if the Energy is on Remoraid the only time you would attack to switch instead of just paying the retreat cost is if you have some sort of wall to switch into and/or have absolutely nothing useful on the bench you would rather be attacking with.
This is something I tried out as a pseudo-Octillery in the deck. I wasn’t a fan of evolving into Octillery alongside the Gardevoir line at first so I thought playing Oranguru SUM would be provide similar returns with easier setup. The ability can also work well with Premonition, it has a decent attack you can utilize, has more HP, and is a basic.
I found Oranguru not as impactful as I had hoped, but the logic is definitely still sound. Oranguru is better in decks that are trying to take prizes quickly while Octillery is better in slower decks like this, but if you find yourself not enjoying Octillery then I would definitely give this card a try!
Alolan Vulpix has become more and more popular the longer the Guardians Rising format is legal. We’ve seen its inclusion without its Ninetales counterpart more often than with it, showcasing exactly how powerful of a card it is by itself. Being able to search any 2 Pokémon for free is insanely powerful because it essentially nets a win-win for the Vulpix user. Either your opponent plays an N and you get to work with a fresh hand the following turn, or your opponent does not play an N and you get to push your setup even further. This card has seen play in just about every single Evolution deck without a better setup option, and I’m sure will continue to due so during its lifespan.
I slyly mentioned “without a better setup option” underneath the Alolan Vulpix GRI section because as it turns out Gardevoir-GX actually does have some options when it comes to setup Pokémon. Diancie BUS is the newest choice amongst Fairy Type setup companions, and provides a bit more reliability than Vulpix GRI in some scenarios. Diancie’s first attack straight evolving your Pokémon allows you to kind of cheat your setup by evolving Pokémon that were just put into play, potentially getting you to the Stage 2 faster. It also has 90 HP, which may not seem like a whole lot more than Vulpix’s 60hp, but can mean the difference between life and death against things like Volcanion STS, Tauros-GX, etc.
Diancie also gives you a guaranteed effect that cannot be disrupted by your opponent unlike Vulpix. However, Vulpix has the potential for more Pokémon and sometimes you really don’t mind being hit by an N for a fresh hand. Vulpix can also grab essential Basics if you’re struggling to stick the little guys into play during the early game. Vulpix also attacks for free, while Diancie does require one Fairy energy for Sparkling Prayer. Overall both Basics are very good options, and each fill a different searching niche.
This is an option in the deck that I’ve seen surprisingly little discussion on from the player base during my internet browsing. When Sylveon-GX was first printed everyone’s initial idea was to play it similar to a deck like the Quad Lapras deck that became popular before GRI was printed. While that deck proved to be a flop, Sylveon-GX is an insanely powerful card when paired with Gardevoir-GX.
Magical Ribbon‘s ability to search any 3 cards is the setup attack that every Evolution deck dreams of, and if you don’t get hit by an N after a singular use, it’s almost certain you’ll be evolving most of your Benched Pokémon the following turn. Eevee’s Energy Evolution is icing on the cake, allowing Sylveon-GX to come into play as early as Turn 1. Having Plea-GX as another GX attack option is certainly not bad, and can be incredibly devastating against the right decks with correct timing.
Even Fairy Wind is a fine attack, scoring 2hko on most EX/GX Pokémon while also being able to knockout a lot of smaller non-EX/GX Pokémon. 200hp is certainly nothing to scoff it, and gives you a bulky lead to prevent your setup Pokémon from getting knocked out too quickly, which can happen much more easily to Alolan Vulpix or Diancie. The downside is that it is a Stage 1 GX, can be disrupted by N like Vulpix, and, despite Energy Evolution, you can have the occasional stumble in getting it out. Giving up 2 prizes if it does get knocked out is certainly worse than 1 as well, but the extra bulk helps to make up for it. I personally believe Sylveon-GX is incredible in the deck and highly recommend everyone try it out.
All of the mentioned inclusions are very powerful cards in a deck that just wants to setup, but ultimately it comes down to what the rest of your decklist includes. If you plan to utilize consistency Pokémon like Sylveon-GX, Octillery BKT, Diancie, etc. then it may not be as necessary to include more Supporters, and the reverse is also true. Believe it or not, I have actually tested 4 Brigette in this deck and found the reliability of T1 Brigette to be incredibly powerful. When you can open with Brigette instead of having to use Tapu Lele to go into it you save yourself an Ultra Ball, Tapu Lele, and a Bench spot for later use which can be game changing during your setup. Surprisingly enough, this deck can also sometimes afford to play Brigette Turns 1 and 2 given the right scenario, and getting out all of your basics that quickly makes the rest of your game flow incredibly smoothly. Skyla and Teammates are cards I’m always back and forth on. Having access to those sorts of search cards can be game-breaking at the right times and ensures you can keep tempo at critical moments in-game, but other times I find them almost utterly useless and go entire games without using them.
It’s weird seeing Lysandre listed as a tech supporter right? With the print of Guzma, Lysandre is no longer the auto-inclusion it used to be, but the card is valuable. Decks that wanted 2 will probably resign to a 1/1 split of the gust effects, while decks that only want 1 effect will take Guzma. Both effects are game-breaking when timed correctly, so it’s important to be aware of the options.
Acerola seems incredibly powerful in just about every deck, and getting to pickup anything with damage and everything attached is actually an insane effect. AZ was played almost universally during its legality, and while it provides a slightly different effect, I do think we’ll see a similar amount of playability while it remains the only Supporter option to remove Pokémon from play. Being able to pickup a damaged Gardevoi- GX after using Secret Spring, evolving a Kirlia, and then using Secret Spring again has proven useful, and I’m sure a plethora of decks will find a use for the card.
Fisherman was seen in the Japanese Nationals winning list and can give a lot of energy at once to raindown with Secret Spring. Hex Maniac gives you the option to shutoff abilities, which can essentially win you the game when timed correctly against a deck like Volcanion-EX, Decidueye-GX, or Vikavolt SUM.
Professor Kukui gives you a way to reach certain levels of damage output when you don’t have the necessary energy, out to Ability uses, or simply want to attach Energy elsewhere. With the release of Tapy-Lele, Professor Kukui has become one of those universally useful cards that is never bad and just about every single deck can find a use for the card at some point or another if it can justify the inclusion.
All of these item cards would certainly help boost the consistency of the deck by allowing access to the right supporter at the right time and/or helping ensure we are able to stream our Evolutions appropriately. The issue with these sorts of cards was highlighted earlier: item hate is all the rage. With Garbodor and Vileplume crushing the NAIC these cards can actually be more of a liability than an asset in certain matchups. I’m not saying you should avoid these options entirely because they are still very powerful cards that can be useful even against Garbodor and Vileplume when timed correctly and especially against decks that do not utilize an item-hate strategy, but just be aware of your deck’s item usage moving forward.
This card has seen universal play in almost every deck since it was printed, and I’m sure Gardevoir-GX will be no different. With Secret Spring and Infinite Force giving you an unlimited damage cap you might not always need the Choice Band, but having the damage modification option is incredibly useful and can help keep you from over-investing in one Gardevoir-GX if you’re reaching for a big knockout.
Similar to Choice Band, this card has seen insanely high levels of play since it was printed. Having an out to Garbotoxin proves especially useful as well, and being able to pull a second use out of it with Twilight-GX is incredible in the matchup.
This stadium was seen in the Japanese winning list, and is actually a pretty smart play. The only Basic whose Ability you use is Wonder Tag, so being able to gain a considerable advantage against a deck like Volcanion is always useful. A well timed Silent Lab can ruin your opponent’s following turn if they were planning to use Wonder Tag, Setup, or any of the other plethora of useful Basic Abilities in the game.
It can also slow down your opponent’s early game a bit if you nail it early enough giving you critical time to setup and relieve any pressure your opponent may have been able to apply. I think the Japanese list included it almost exclusively for Volcanion because that deck is incredibly popular there, but with Volcanion gaining Kiawe I’m sure you’ll see enough of the deck to justify its value.
This is a spicy tech I’ve been trying in the deck for a little while now. You rarely want to parallel yourself down to 3 because Gardevoir loves using all of its bench space, but it can remove unwanted Tapu Lele or damaged liabilities at critical moments. The primary reason I’ve included it is because it works so well with Sylveon-GX’s Plea-GX. Against any deck that fills up the bench, you can provide a game breaking tempo play with Parallel and Plea. Having the option to Parallel your opponent down to 3 and then Plea up 2 of the remaining 3 can reduce your opponent’s bench from 5 to 1 in only one turn!
If you combine this with a Lysandre or Guzma play to bring up something undesirable into the Active, you can essentially reset your opponent’s board and force them to start from scratch. I cannot think of a single deck that can’t be absolutely devastated by this play, especially if they don’t see it coming. I highly recommend giving the pair a go together so you can see the potential for yourself.
More Energy: 8th Fairy, 4th Double Colorless
More energy in a deck like Gardevoir-GX is never a bad thing. Because of the nature of Infinite Force and Secret Spring, you want to be able to maximize your damage output at critical moments to ensure you don’t miss key knockouts. The energy count in the skeleton is the absolute minimum I would play, but the deck almost certainly hungers for more.
Wonder Energy seemed like such an amazing inclusion when I first considered it. It stops Espeon-EX, which is probably your biggest threat in the meta right now, alongside a surprisingly large amount of other things like Drampa-GX’s Righteous Edge, Tapu Fini-GX’s Tapu Storm-GX, and Espeon-GX’s confusion effect from Psybeam. However, testing with it showed me the weaknesses of the card. It cannot activate Eevee’s Energy Evolution, cannot be attached to any non-Fairy Pokémon, and cannot be accelerated with Secret Spring. This is a card I’m still very torn on including the deck because it is either incredibly bad or incredibly good depending on the timing and matchup, but right now I’m leaning towards the former.
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 27
Energy – 12
The most surprising thing about the list is probably the inclusion of a 2-2 Sylveon-GX. The consistency and options the Sylveon inclusion brings to the table are unmatched, and I have a 2-2 not because I want to use 2 Sylveon every game, but because I plan on using Sylveon-GX every single game and want to ensure I’ll have access to it ASAP. The deck has room for the additon, and if I were to cut them I would probably only add in a Diancie and a tech supporter or two tech supporters, which I don’t really value over the added consistency of the 2-2 line. Double Brigette is my concession that 4 was probably too many despite my love for ensuring the T1, but I do enjoy the added access to it and the additional increase in opening with it.
Gardevoir-GX is definitely the deck I’ve currently invested the most time into in the PRC-BUS format. If anyone wishes to discuss card choices or any other aspect of the deck feel free to comment and and start a discussion! I’m enamored with the possibilities of the deck and would have never imagined being able to build a deck like this at the beginning of our Standard season.
Looking forward to Worlds 2017, I’m incredibly excited that they’re following the same format as last year by dropping a new set right before the event. This was incredibly fun last year and allows a lot of room for creativity in the most prestigious event of the season. Gardevoir currently seems to be one of the most hyped cards out of BUS, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it gain somewhat of a target on its back going into the events when players start to realize how powerful the card is if left unchecked.
However, amongst all the hype, I would highly recommend we do not forget about the beasts of PRC-GRI as they are even more poised to dominate if not accounted for and have the added bonus of being battle-tested. I’m very excited for the upcoming World Championships and will definitely be investing more time into preparing for this event than any other event of the year. As always, feel free to come up and say hello if you see me at that event or anywhere else! Until next time.
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