Hello everyone! It has been a while since my last article. I have been busy the last two months, both in my personal and my Pokémon life. Personally, I have gone through the process of finding a new job. Luckily, that search was quicker than I anticipated, and I have a new school I will be starting at next fall. As for Pokémon, though I have not had the opportunity to play in any large tournaments recently, I have been working on the podcast! Hopefully you have tuned in – and if not, I hope you will tune in going forward. It has been a lot of fun so far and while I know it is far from perfect, I know it will continue to get better the more time I put into it. Some of my thoughts on the Standard format are on the episode that just came out, so definitely check that out for some of my more general thoughts.
Today, I want to go into some of the decks we talked about on the latest episode and give some lists and further insight. Though I will not be attending Charlotte, I have been testing a fair amount in preparation for League Cups and because the format is actually quite fun right now.
First, I want to mention briefly my thoughts on all of the Zoroark decks. Any Zoroark deck is a good play for Charlotte. However, some are stronger than others. My opinion of the major Zoroark decks goes as follows:
I personally do not think the Garbodor variant is very good. Though mashing broken cards together worked for Gardevoir and Zoroark, I am less convinced on Garbodor and Zoroark. Bursting Balloon to get a Hex Maniac effect is cute but a bit gimmicky. You lose a powerful secondary attacker by focusing on Garbodor. You do have Trashalanche, but you do not force your opponent to play items as quickly as other partners like Espeon (via Confusion) and Drampa (via Righteous Edge) do.
I have been enamored with the consistency of this deck recently. It is much more consistent than the other Zoroark decks because the deck runs seven “attackable” Energy cards—Energy that can be used to attack for just one attachment. This is a huge boost to the deck, as Zoroark variants like Lycanroc, Weavile, and Gardevoir require either multiple attachments beyond using Riotous Beating or cannot be fully utilized until later in the game. Golisopod, therefore, is the most consistently powerful in the early game. My current list for this is a mash up of Igor Costa’s and Benjamin Pham’s. I enjoy having the Sudowoodo to have that ‘X’ factor that pushes the deck over the edge. This is what I consider the best deck in the format heading into Charlotte.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 33
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 8
I got second at a large (61 Masters) League Cup in Pennsylvania with the above list. Here were my matchups:
R1 W vs Zoroark/Weavile
R2 W vs Zoroark/Counter Energy
R3 W vs Solgaleo/Zoroark
R4 L vs Zoroark/Gardevoir
R5 W vs Magnezone/Zoroark
R6 T vs Passimian/Octillery
Top 8 WW vs Zoroark/Lycanroc
Top 4 WW vs Gardevoir/Sylveon/Octillery
Top 2 WLL vs Solgaleo/Zoroark
Note that I played a lot of the other top decks and did pretty well. Notably absent was Buzzwole, which did not fair too well at the Cup as a whole. Most of the top players there decided to bring Zoroark decks—a testament to the strength of the card.
I don’t want to spend a lot of space here reiterating all the things I said on the podcast about Zoroark/Golisopod, so give that a listen if you want more insight into this deck. The one thing I do want to briefly discuss is Pal Pad. I included this card primarily to act as a pseudo-4th Guzma and 2nd Acerola. It also has some niche uses of getting back extra N in the late game and it allows you to discard Supporters with Trade with a bit freer reign. Finally, it provided a way to “save” a spot by trimming down on other counts and including this.
Overall, the card was not very good. I found that more often I would Wonder Tag looking for a Guzma, find that my third was prized, but that Pal Pad was in the deck. There was also at least one game where Pal Pad was in my hand in the early games and I really just wanted a Guzma to pick off a Basic on my opponent’s field. I think I would drop the Pal Pad for the 4th Guzma. You actually do not use Acerola all that often, so I think I am comfortable with a single copy.
This is almost certainly what I would play if I was attending Charlotte.
This wouldn’t be a Mike Fouchet article without a Gardevoir list! While I think traditional Gardevoir lists are a bit too inconsistent in a format dominated by Zoroark and Buzzwole, the inclusion of Zoroark in Gardevoir is something I find quite potent. Mash two broken cards together and you often have a broken deck!
My list has not strayed too far from what Tord won the Oceania International Championship with—indeed, no Zoroark deck can stray too far as they have the same 40-45 card shell. However, there are some key tech choices that can shift matchup percentages. Here is the essential cards for the deck and I will discuss options for filling out the list below.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 30
Energy – 8
Remaining Spots: 3
There is not really a lot of ‘give’ in this deck – there are just so many important cards when you stick a Stage 2 in with the Zoroark shell. Golisopod and other Stage 1s have more flexibility in filling out their spots, but since we need Rare Candy, more Energy, and double Mallow, we are not left with too many open spots. Tord chose to include Parallel City, Enhanced Hammer, and the 3rd Guzma in his list. These are all pretty good choices, but maybe not the best anymore with the current metagame. Let’s explore other options.
- 2nd Gallade – This can make your Zoroark matchups even better. Will Jenkins played this at our local League Cup and I was able to deal with the first Gallade, but the second one was the nail in the coffin. I would never drop below two Gardevoir-GX, but a second Gallade might be more potent for Zoroark decks than the Parallel City. Gallade also has obvious synergy with Trade, so getting it up is easier with a second copy.
- Clefairy – Clefairy is a wonderful little Pokémon that has been in and out of lots of Gardevoir lists recently. The original prompt for this card was Dusk Mane Necrozma. With Clefairy, Gardevoir actually has a pretty even matchup against Magnezone and other Metal decks utilizing Necrozma. However, Clefairy also has other solid uses, such as against Buzzwole. Though Mew is your primary threat against Buzzwole decks, Clefairy acts as another Pokémon (and a 1-Prize one!) that can 1HKO a Buzzwole. Clefairy also has some utility in the mirror match. I don’t think you can fit both a second Gallade and Clefairy, so you need to choose between the two.
- Oranguru UPR – This may feel out of place in a deck that already has so much recovery between Puzzles and Twilight-GX, but if you are worried about mill than Oranguru should still have a place in the deck. My friend Christian Ortiz won a cup with this in his Zoro/Gardy list, so I thought it worth mentioning.
- Parallel City – Parallel City is a card I have had in all my Gardevoir lists since the beginning of the season. The card can put so much pressure on the opponent and force them into suboptimal positions. Further, it hurts Zoroark decks pretty significantly. This is the first time I am considering dropping the card from a Gardevoir list, simply because there may be better options out there in such a tight list. The 2nd Gallade is the most appealing card to play over this as it is a bit better vs Zoroark decks than Parallel.
- Enhanced Hammer – You’ll notice my Golisopod list also did not include this card. I have not been a fan of Enhanced Hammer for a long time and its inclusion in all of the Zoroark decks with Puzzle has bothered me a bit. I think if you run two or more copies, Enhanced Hammer is very strong. However, with only one, I am more skeptical. It is rare you have it when you need it (unless you Mallow for it—which feels weak). I understand you can reuse it multiple times, but especially in a deck like Gardevoir where you want them to have more Energy so you can 1HKO them, it feels weird. Perhaps I need to test it more, but I have been largely unimpressed by this card and it likely will not make my final list.
- 2nd Max Potion – Max Potion is an incredible card with Gardevoir. I would not play a straight Gardy list without at least two Max Potion, but I do not think this list really needs a second copy. However, it is worth mentioning as it can give you an edge in grindy matchups and lets you find a copy of it more easily.
- 3rd Guzma – Again, Tord ran three copies of this card and for good reason: Guzma is insane. I have been playing mostly with two copies and I often want a third. Not because of needing three in a game, but rather to more easily find it in the early game. During the beginning stages of the game you are a Zoroark deck, meaning you want to go aggressive. Having a Guzma early on to snipe a benched basic Pokémon integral to your opponent’s strategy can be very important, so the extra copy allows you to find it so much easier. Overall, I think it is fine running two copies but this is one of the spots I go back and forth on the most often.
- 3rd Field Blower – With Garbodor and Parallel City seeing so much play, a 3rd Field Blower would be really nice. This is usually the spot I am switching on and off with the 3rd Not much else to say here.
- 4th Brigette – This may sound crazy, but getting a turn one Brigette in these Zoroark decks is so important – especially with a Stage 2 in the Zoroark deck. I could see cutting the 4th Ralts for a 4th Brigette to be completely honest. I think one of the biggest strengths of Zoroark decks is that it is able to run more than two copies of Brigette and not have it harm its consistency during the later stages of the game.
Solgaleo/Zoroark is another interesting Zoroark deck that could be viable. It has good matchups against many of the other Zoroark decks, as you can 1HKO and they cannot 1HKO you back. Michael Catron won our League Cup, taking the idea from Chris Taporco and Sydney Morisoli, I believe. He changed cards from the list they ran in Collinsville, and I am changing some cards from Michael’s list:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
Though the deck takes a similar approach as Zoroark/Gardevoir, there are some important differences.
- No Puzzle of Time – This is perhaps the biggest difference. Without Puzzle we have less options to recover resources in mid to late game. This requires us to play higher counts of some key cards, like Guzma and play a Pokémon recovery option in Rescue Stretcher. We could fit Puzzle of Time by dropping counts of some of the things I will discuss below. However, I do not think Puzzle of Time fits as well into this deck as other Zoroark variants.Your goal is to take three 1HKOs on GX or EX-Pokémon. You do not need to win long, grindy games because that is not part of your win condition. By playing beefier counts of everything else we can accomplish the goal without needing to stockpile resources in our hand as we approach the late game.
- More Energy – Solgaleo’s Sol Burst-GX allows you to cheat a bunch of Energy on the field, so you need to play more Energy to account for this. Further, Solgaleo’s attack requires you to discard all your Energy, so you need to have Energy to attach later on.
- Max Potion’s importance – While Max Potion is more of a tempo card in other Zoroark decks, Max Potion here acts as a way to keep a single Solgaleo-GX on the field for a long time. Almost nothing 1HKOs Solgaleo-GX, so even if you are able to set up only one of it, you can leverage Max Potions and Solgaleo Prism to get multiple 1HKOs from the one Solgaleo-GX.
- Four Rare Candy – Unlike in Garevoir, we really need a turn two Solgaleo as often as possible. Zororark/Gardevoir can act more as a Zoroark deck during the first few turns and then clean up with Gardevoirs in the late game. We need to use Sol Burst-GX as soon as possible, hence the increased Rare Candy count.
- No Tools – A way to save space in this deck is to run no tool cards. Float Stone is superfluous with Ultra Road as an ability and Choice Band is really only useful for math against the mirror match.
If you wanted to fit Puzzle of Time in the deck I would recommend the following changes:
This is a pretty fun deck and I would not be surprised to see it do decently well in Charlotte. Solgaleo p is a very strong card in the format, as very few decks can 1HKO it. This allows it to get immense value, and also allows it benefit from the inclusion of Max Potion.
The last deck I want to present you is something for Expanded I was testing a bit before Costa Mesa. Though I didn’t go to Costa Mesa, the idea is pretty cool. The list is still very much in the works, but maybe I can get it working (and the meta will still be prime for it) for Virginia in May.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
Energy – 11
Why could Mega Sceptile be a decent deck all of a sudden? Here are a few reasons:
- Mega Sceptile has 220 HP. Zoroark caps out at 210 damage. This is wonderful!
- Jagged Saber allows you to heal all damage from the Pokémon you attach to. Against Zoroark, since they cannot 1HKO, you just heal all your damage! Using Starmie and Fisherman you can pretty much infinitely cycle between two Mega Sceptile in this way.
- Magearna UPR is a cool card that Mega Pokémon can specifically abuse. With its Ability, you can pop a tool back to your hand once per turn. This allows you to attach Spirit Link, Mega Evolve without a downside, return the Spirit Link, and then play a Choice Band or Muscle Band down. You can now reuse the Spirit Link on another Sceptile-EX, and more importantly your Jagged Saber attack can now actually 2HKO things! Before, despite the healing from Jagged Saber, you could not even 2HKO a Zoroark-GX. This was pretty inefficient. Now you can, and the matchup is accordingly much easier.
- You do not play any Special Energy cards! Special Energy hate was a big theme at Costa Mesa and will likely continue as long as Zoroark is so meta-defining.
- Sceptile beats most of the other Zoroark counter decks. Seismitoad is a very easy matchup for Sceptile because of the Grass weakness. I imagine we will see an increase in popularity of Seismitoad heading into the next Expanded Regionals. Lycanroc is weak to grass, so you get an easy 1HKO against Zoroark/Lycanroc and the Fighting box deck. Buzzwole can reach the numbers to 1HKO you but requires double Strong and a Choice Band once they have used their GX-attack. Drampa/Garb is likely a close matchup, but they also cannot 1HKO you. If you can leverage Fisherman enough (assuming Starmie will be shut off), you should be able to come out ahead.
- Note I do not think you need Tropical Beach for this deck. It is just what I am trying right now. If you dropped the Beaches you would have to play more consistency Supporters and perhaps a Shaymin-EX. A Hoopa-EX could also be interesting.
I will be testing this deck now and then over the next few months to see if it is really a contender. Mega decks are always inherently clunky, so I advise going into this deck with a fair amount of skepticism. If nothing else, though, it will be fun!
Thanks for reading everyone. As I mentioned, I will not be at a major event until the end of May for Virginia Regionals. But, I will still be playing around and helping friends test for tournaments. And of course I will be pushing out podcast episodes!
Speaking of which: April is a light month for major events. So far I have been basing the podcast episodes around the major tournaments, but this will not work in April. I have some ideas of what I might want to do, but I would also love to hear any suggestions you all have. Let me know either on the thread for this article, PM on the message boards, or messaging me on Twitter.
Thanks again and good luck to those of you playing in Charlotte next week!
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