Hello SixPrizes readers! I hope everyone has been having as much fun exploring the new format as I have. Sadly, I haven’t found anything from the new set to be very powerful during my early stages of testing. Rayquaza-GX seemed great at first, and is definitely not a bad deck, but it was definitely worse than I had previously thought. Magcargo and Copycat have been the only cards I have found to be useful in decks for the World Championships, but I am still fiddling around with Shrine of Punishments. You may ask how I have been having fun in testing if Celestial Storm has not had much of an impact, and the answer is Zoroark decks.
For starters, the Zoroark decks are pretty fun to play in comparison to Buzzwole, which I played a ton of this season. They all have a ton of options, and their own bag of tricks, which really allow you to try and outplay the opponent. This is especially true in Zoroark mirror matches, where the games frequently end in deckout. Oranguru completely changes how the games are played, and I have been enjoying the presence of our monkey overlord. Without further ado, lets take a look at exactly what Oranguru has done to the format, and look at our options for the World Championships/Nashville open.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 37
Energy – 6
The list only plays one Garbodor, and a low tool count. This is because Garbotoxin does not always need to be online and the deck does not have room for a thicker count. It needs to dedicate space to techs for opposing Zoroark decks, and that means cuts elsewhere. With Rescue Stretcher and Puzzle of Time in the deck, you usually don’t have much trouble maintaining the ability lock when you want to. The biggest issue I have had with the singleton copy is prizing it, which can occasionally result in a rough game.
These are great tools against opposing Zoroark decks, which are a pretty solid portion of the current metagame. They are especially useful now that Oranguru is involved, because games are very grindy and come down to resource battles. When used, these cards essentially cancel the opponent’s last turn, and usually force some sort of follow up from the opponent. If they simply keep attacking and don’t use healing cards of their own, you will be ahead on the prize race and usually board state.
This card is another powerful one in Zoroark matchups, and is the key to managing any Lycanroc-GX you might have to deal with. If the opponent takes a KO with Lycanroc-GX, you can use Team Flare Grunt, and potentially Enhanced Hammer, to stop them from making their board stronger. Even if they are able to continue attacking, the energy attachments they have to commit to Lycanroc will prevent them from setting up other attackers. The combination of Counter Catcher and Team Flare Grunt can be used to stop a Lycanroc from ever starting to attack, which is one of the best ways to stop it from running you over.
This might seem low in comparison to the other Zoroark decks that run three Evosoda, but it isn’t that noticeable in testing thus far. The deck has less space because of all the techs and Pokémon it includes, so the slightly lower search count is expected. The Mysterious Treasure has a ton of flexibility, as it can be used to get Brigette, which is the optimal turn one play, of course. Additionally, Mysterious Treasure can be used to find Garbodor after using a Brigette. In the case where you don’t Brigette, you want to find as many basics as possible off whatever draw supporter you play. This is another situation where having the split of Mysterious Treasure and Evosoda is beneficial.
I don’t like the idea of simply playing two Mysterious Treasure, because the deck is Zoroark-based after all, and having no Evosoda could slow you down a bit. Long story short, the 1/1 split on the consistency cards may seem odd, but it has been strong in testing.
2 Psychic Energy
This is definitely lower than we have seen in the past, but I have found it to be fine in testing. The deck just doesn’t have room for more energy, and having a bunch of Psychic Energy in the deck can really slow you down. With Puzzle of Time and Oranguru in the deck, you should never run out of them. You can draw a ton of cards with a draw Supporter and Trades, which makes it likely to find a Psychic Energy when you really need it.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 40
Energy – 4
Magcargo is something that I doubted in my previous article, stating that Parallel City would likely give it too much trouble. I must admit I was wrong, as I have been enjoying a thin line of it in the deck. Being able to search out a key card each turn is very strong in the early game, and makes your late game a tad smoother than usual. You don’t ever have to worry about digging too deep in the late game because you can just search through your thin deck to grab what you need.
If the opponent goes out of their way to KO your Magcargo, they are usually burning resources to KO something you don’t actually care too much about. Sure, they take a prize and deny you the ability to find whatever you want, but your goal is to run other Zoroark decks out of resources, and them killing your Magcargo doesn’t stop you from doing so. Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX should never kill your Magcargo, as they should always be focusing on your Zoroarks and Tapu Leles.
This is a card I talked about in my last article, and exclaimed how powerful it was in the metagame. While Zoroark decks are becoming more popular, which makes it harder to put your opponent in topdeck mode with it, it still has game winning potential. Simply making your opponent discard resources is a strong enough play, which makes Delinquent an easy inclusion in this control deck.
These cards are all key for beating opposing Zoroark decks, but are certainly useful in a majority of matchups in the current meta. Having high counts of these will give you the edge over decks such as Zoropod, which usually only includes one healing card and two Enhanced Hammers. Your goal is to just outlast them and eventually deck them out or cripple them to the point where they can’t fight back. These cards are great for accomplishing that goal, and I think all of them should remain in the deck. Enhanced Hammers can be used to prevent the opponent from attacking, and if you use enough of them, you can simply run them out of energy sometimes.
Max Potion and Acerola essentially cancel the opponent’s last turn, and forces them to have healing of their own. They can’t just keep attacking, otherwise you will win the prize trade/resource war. These healing cards are especially strong when you disrupt them in another way on top of the healing, such as Parallel City or Enhanced Hammer. Forcing the opponent to respond in as many ways as possible is always a good thing, and it will have them running low on resources quickly.
These are included in the deck to help handle Buzzwole decks, and are certainly great inclusions if you expect to play against any. If other players get greedy and decide to simply lose to Buzzwole if they run into it, they will likely have a solid edge against you because of the extra techs they got to include. Another thing to note is that these Buzzwole techs don’t ensure a win against Buzzwole decks, which make them a risky inclusion off the bat. I have them in the deck because I personally believe Buzzwole is not something people should be ignoring, but I have seen other opinions doing so anyway.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 35
Energy – 7
These are the techs for Buzzwole decks, which are actually somewhat fading out of the meta. Without them, you have almost no chance against any Buzzwole decks. With them, you are 50-50 at a minimum, which makes them worth playing if you have a chance of running into Buzzwole decks. Against Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX, Mew-EX can be used early in an attempt to KO two baby Buzzwole before they have much of a shot at KO’ing the Mew after its first attack. Mewtwo can be used to KO either Buzzwole when it has three energy on it, which is fantastic value for a non-ex attacker. Mewtwo being a non-EX makes it useful in other situations where you want to two shot a Pokémon, but can’t afford to have a GX active for the first poke.
Like I said in my last article, this is a card that can win games by itself. If the opponent is ever caught with a three card hand and doesn’t have draw power on the board, you put them in top-deck mode and start to take over the game. In Zoroark vs Zoroark matchups, you can use Delinquent as a way of winning the resource battle. Even if you don’t discard their whole hand, you can force them to discard some valuable stuff if you catch them with a low hand size of 4-5 cards. Delinquent becomes even more valuable in the late game if the game turns into an Oranguru stalemate, as you can actually run the opponent out of stuff to trade and create an awkward situation.
3 Grass Energy, 0 Rainbow Energy
I ended up removing the spicy Rainbow Energy for a third copy of Grass Energy due to the insane popularity of Enhanced Hammer. The risk now outweighs the reward, which was not the case at NAIC. The Rainbow Energy can definitely make a big play from time to time, but I would rather just have an additional basic energy card instead. If you insist on including the Rainbow Energy, please don’t overlook the opportunity to play a split of Zoruas like I did.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 33
Energy – 14
1 Beast ♢
4 Buzzwole, 1 Buzzwole-GX
This is the split I have been a fan of since I tried it, and I am confident it is strictly better than any other option at the moment. Strong non-EX attackers have always been great in Pokémon, and Buzzwole is one of the best non-EX attackers of all time. Additionally, it fits into the meta very well right now, and not much can deal with it easily. You need the Buzzwole-GX in order to threaten OHKO potential on things that baby Buzzwole can’t always deal with, such as Golisopod-GX or a Pokémon with Fighting Fury Belt on it. Not playing multiple Buzzwole-GX does hurt your matchups against some less popular decks, such as Greninja and Gardevoir-GX, but I like to focus on beating the decks I am most likely to play against. It is not like you have no chance of beating these decks with only one Buzzwole-GX, and you have Super Rod to help manage things a bit better.
Pokemon ParadijsThis has been my favorite shuffle draw supporter lineup since Celestial Storm has come out. Due to the decreasing popularity of Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor and Malamar decks, the third N was no longer a necessary inclusion. This left me to decide between a Copycat or a second copy of Cynthia. I have been a big fan of Copycat in Zoroark decks, so I gave it a try here and it worked out. You have a lot of supporter options now, and Copycat is fine as long as you draw six cards off of it, anymore than that is just a bonus. I decided not to play two Copycats because then it is worth the opponent actually consistently playing around it, which could really hurt your draw power. Additionally, just having a way to draw six no matter what the size of the opponents hand is seemed like a nice thing to have.
This card was originally included to help against Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor, and even though that deck is not as popularity as it once was, the Field Blower still has many uses. It can be used to help against any Garbotoxin decks, such as Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor or Zoroark-GX/Garbodor. It can be used to remove a Parallel City, which can cause a lot of problems if you don’t remove it right away. Lastly, it can be used to remove Float Stones and make it awkward for the opponent to use Guzma or respond to a KO.
I just wanted to provide a tidbit on how to take advantage of predicting the meta, which is easier to do with smaller tournaments. This is especially strong at League Cups where it might be easy to predict the popular decks, but can be done at any tournament if you are confident in the metagame.
The decks in this article are built to handle a blind metagame, and essentially have all of the other decks in mind. This is usually the best way to have decks built if you’re unsure of what will be popular, but you can definitely change your techs up if you’re confident in what you’ll be playing against.
The Zoroark decks in this article all have techs for Buzzwole and opposing Zoroark decks, which is very reasonable. However, these techs are usually only good when you play against the decks they are for. An example of this is Mew-EX, which is great against Buzzwole, but pretty bad against everything else. An example of a player knowing this and using it to their advantage is Ryan Antonucci, you didn’t even play Mew-EX in his top eight NAIC list. He didn’t completely give up on the Buzzwole matchup, but lets take it one step further and look at what we can do with this information.
If you expect to play against a lot of Buzzwole decks, you could choose to include a tech such as Latios or Mewtwo. This would allow you to have an early game psychic attacker that isn’t reliant on the opponent playing item cards. Since you expect to play against more Buzzwole decks and less Zoroark decks, you could choose to remove a tech meant for Zoroark decks, such as Acerola.
If you expect to play against mostly Zoroark decks, you can make your Zoroark matchups incredibly strong by removing the Mew-EX and two Weakness Policy for a 3rd copy of Field Blower, 3rd copy of Parallel City, and an additional tech, such as a third Max Potion. On the other side of the coin, you could expect to play against a lot of Buzzwole decks. This could mean it would be a good idea for you to remove Team Rocket’s Handiwork, an Acerola, and an Enhanced Hammer for a Mewtwo, a Choice Band, and a third copy of Weakness Policy.
Your Buzzwole matchup is already pretty secure, but you could certainly improve your Zoroark matchups substantially if you wanted to. You could remove a Mew-EX, a Mewtwo, and a Choice Band for a third Tapu Lele-GX, an Acerola, and a second copy of Max Potion. Obviously Tapu Lele-GX isn’t a tech for Zoroark decks, but you can’t remove two basic Pokémon without putting one back in with this list. Tapu Lele is certainly more useful than Mew-EX or Mewtwo, and increased your turn one Brigette odds a bit.
If you don’t expect to play against Garbodor decks, removing Field Blower is completely justified. Instead, you could choose to include a 2nd Remoraid to help your Zoroark matchup, or a fourth Beast Ring to help your mirror match out a bit, depending on which one you expect to play against more.
These are things I would definitely consider for local tournaments such as League Cups, as you can really gain an advantage by doing so. For larger events, it is always a tad riskier, but if you are confident in what you expect to be popular and/or do well, you can take advantage of that.
- Rayquaza-GX decks seem to be very fast and consistent, but have some poor matchups. Trashlanche and Gardevoir give it a lot of problems, and Buzzwole getting to trade with non-EXs is hard to handle.
- You might have noticed that Zoroark decks have seemingly taken over the format. They are a lot slower and give you more control over the game, which means the games take a long time. Zoroark mirror matches usually can’t finish three full games in fifty minutes.
- Buzzwole is a deck that I label as highly underestimated at this point in time. It takes a couple fifty-fifty matchups, and then has a solid chance against the rest of the field. The deck has the potential to get even stronger if people aren’t teching for it. Players may end up paying less attention to Buzzwole and more attention to Zoroark, thus changing how they build their deck. What hurts it the most is its slight inconsistency issues, which are more noticeable now that it is being compared to a bunch of Zoroark decks.
- Oranguru is incredible in the current metagame. I wish I would have played one at NAIC. It is especially necessary to include in your deck because almost everyone else will have one. It is a fantastic tool in the Zoroark mirror match, and the player without one is always at a disadvantage.
- I hyped up Copycat in my last article, which I had done without playing many games with it. Since then, I have played quite a few games and still like Copycat as a card. Sometimes it sucks not having Cynthia around, but Copycat has impressed me many times.
- Shrine of Punishments is a very strong card that I had a lot of faith in before I started testing. I have played with a couple decks based on the card, but haven’t seen much success. However, the issue seems to be that it doesn’t have a great partner—not that the card is too weak. I am convinced it will see some play in the future, but it might have to be sidelined for now.
- You may have noticed that Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX was not on my list of favorite decks. This may come as a surprise to some of you, considering it is essentially the only Zoroark deck not on the list. The reason behind this is that it didn’t feel the same as the other Zoroark decks, which can take the games very slow and have full control. Additionally, I feel like if I was going to play a Lycanroc-GX deck, I would prefer to just play Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX.
- Two Tapu Lele-GX has been my preferred count in Zoroark decks, other than Zoroark/Magcargo (because it needs the additional basic Pokémon). Tapu Lele is a bad starter because it means you have less “good” basic Pokémon on the field after a Brigette. Additionally, having a higher Brigette count and lower Tapu Lele-GX count, as opposed to vice versa, makes you stronger against Parallel City in the early game.
That is all for this article! I hope that my knowledge of the new format and all it beholds has helped you feel more prepared for upcoming tournaments. Their is still plenty of time before the world championships and Nashville open, but I recommend getting as many games in as possible before game day arrives. A lot of matchups are pretty tricky at the moment, and even I wouldn’t feel comfortable winging it on this one. I plan to attend a League Cup or two before the event, which I have weirdly been struggling with recently. League Cup points will certainly be important for the top 16 race, so hopefully I can step things up.
I would be surprised if I didn’t play one of the decks in this article, and I will probably tech for what I expect to play against. This is where the “adapting to the meta” sections of this article might come into play, where I get a bit greedier with my decklist. If any of you are attending a League Cup soon, I wish you the best of luck. Otherwise, I will be at the World Championships and hope to see everyone there!
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