Hey everyone! Welcome back to the latest installment of Garbodor variants with none other than myself! In today’s episode, we’ll explore the possibilities of Banette-GX/Garbodor for the BKT–CES format. It runs many strong cards and is practically the descendant of Espeon-GX/Garbodor, but is a much stronger deck overall. It has more inherent synergies and options at its disposal in the deck-building process which makes it much more versatile.
Overview + Skeleton
Banette-GX/Garbodor functions very similarly to Espeon-GX/Garbodor. One huge benefit is that Banette-GX only requires a single Energy to attack at all times. The deck doesn’t rely on drawing Double Colorless Energy in a timely fashion for Divide-GX or Psychic anymore. Shadow Chant hits for solid damage for a single Energy, which smoothes over the problems Espeon-GX had before of hitting for inconsequential damage with Psybeam. Overall, Banette-GX is a bigger threat on its own.
The second major difference between Espeon-GX/Garbodor and Banette-GX/Garbodor is that the latter can run Rainbow Energy effectively. Energy Evolution required a Basic P Energy, meaning that it wouldn’t trigger with a Rainbow. With Banette-GX, Rainbow can be offensive with Shady Move, easily move one to the Bench for Berserk, and provide for Rainbow Energy attackers like Buzzwole FLI.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 27
Energy – 10
7 Open Spots
There are lots of familiar cards here; the only change made since Celestial Storm is the Banette-GX line. The usual cards that outfit the remaining slots are similar of other Garbodor decks: recovery, Supporters/search, forms of healing, etc. I’ll go over different options then end with what I consider to be my favorite list.
Hoopa works in this deck because it adds early spread damage that can later be manipulated with Shady Move. The residual damage makes Berserk numbers much easier to hit against 200 and 210 HP Pokémon by adding the kicker past 180. Moreover, Hoopa is great for stalling in the early game while Garbotoxin is set up. Zoroark-GX decks are unlikely to 1HKO it on T2, so it gains time for other Pokémon to be set up.
Celesteela is one of my favorite Rainbow attackers because it hits for so much damage. Compared to Buzzwole FLI, it hits for 40 more and can easily take a 1HKO with a Choice Band. However, Celesteela is much less versatile. Because it requires 6 Prizes total, it can only attack once if it takes a Prize. Once that happens, it’s practically a worthless attacker because of its 5 Energy cost. It’s a narrow attacker that has one turn of use, yet it’s out of your control what turn that falls on. Also, in approximately 50% of the games, it will never work because the opponent (or you) will jump from 7 to 5 total Prizes remaining. Celesteela requires careful mapping to use effectively.
Acerola works better in this deck because it adds slightly relevant damage to Shadow Chant. It’s also great for looping Drampa-GX to Righteous Edge. However, in practice, it’s a clunkier Supporter that rarely works in an effective situation. Most of the time, it’s better to switch attackers or let them take a knockout so that N becomes more dangerous. Parallel City works better because it adds disruption, healing, and doesn’t require the coveted Supporter per turn.
Brigette is great in this deck for grabbing Pokémon efficiently on T1. It’s great for guaranteeing 2 Trubbish so that one survives, getting a Drampa-GX to attach an Energy to, or for grabbing a Shuppet to get a crucial T2 Banette-GX. One unspoken benefit is that during the middle of the game, Brigette can act as a way of searching out a specific Pokémon like Buzzwole FLI. In some cases, that’s all that’s needed, and guaranteeing that is the best play.
In this modern format, Brigette may be too difficult to pull off and might be most easily replaced with a Mysterious Treasure. I’ll get into my specific card choices when arriving at my final list, but even then there’s much fluidity and testing remaining. In preparing for this article, I’ve always enjoyed Brigette and found it worthwhile, while Mike Fouchet has found it lackluster. I quickly shared this idea with him and a few others—this is the culmination of our thinking.
Judge is a card I’ve thought about playing because it acts as an incredibly disruptive N in the initial turns of the game. I prefer this over Pal Pad because Pal Pad is too slow to work effectively. The Judge adds a soft 5th N but also has the capability of crushing the opponent on T1-T2.
Mysterious Treasure is a much better card than Ultra Ball when searching for Psychic Pokémon. However, I’d say that 25% of the time (and probably closer to 50% without Brigette) you’re searching for Drampa-GX, Buzzwole, or Celesteela (if played.) In these situations, it is much more important to have access to every Pokémon in the deck rather than keeping the extra card in a different scenario.
As a reinforcement to this point, a majority of the non-Psychic cards are the fast Pokémon. Drampa-GX and Buzzwole FLI are both timely cards; they require execution on an important turn to Righteous Edge or Sledgehammer. The cards that would be found with Mysterious Treasure, even if they are attackers like Banette-GX or Garbodor GRI, are usually less important in dictating the result of the match. A missed Trashalanche sucks, but a missed Sledgehammer is devastating.
More recovery is always nice. The deck already runs a copy of Rescue Stretcher, but it doesn’t hurt to run more, especially when looping Drampa-GX is the only strategy vs. Zoroark-GX. Rescue Stretcher is usually the most important card I’m digging for to finish the game off of a Professor Sycamore, so a second copy makes plenty of sense. Super Rod would be used so that it could shuffle in at least some Energy, but I doubt it’s useful with only 4.
More Choice Band means more damage! Simple.
Tried and true, Parallel City adds nice healing/Pokémon removal, making the game last longer, and also can limit the damage of Zoroark-GX decks so that they don’t 2HKO Drampa-GX. In today’s format, it may be stronger because Zoroark Control cut all Choice Band, while Garbodor or Golisopod only run 1-2 copies. This means there are fewer ways to 2HKO Drampa-GX. I don’t think this will reliably save a Drampa-GX, but it will at least force them to use resources and dig deeper for Trashalanche.
An interesting addition. I honestly think it isn’t good enough to run because this deck is fairly GX dependent, at least in the form of Tapu Lele-GX. Garbodor decks always want to trade Prizes, especially against Zoroark-GX, because it’s much harder to take Prizes as the Garbodor deck than as the Zoroark-GX deck.
A similar analogy that I can think of is in chess: a stronger player does not want to trade pieces against a weaker player because it equalizes the field. With more pieces in play, there’s greater potential to create a winning position. In Pokémon, the same can be said about Prizes. Against a good matchup, don’t play carelessly and trade Prizes, go for more: healing, switching attackers, etc.
With Shrine of Punishments, it does make taking Prizes easier, but also severely weakens your side of the board and makes Tapu Lele-GX a huge target. I want to experiment more, but I think Parallel City is a stronger Stadium choice.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
The above list is a happy medium that I’ve found from testing with my original list, adaptations I’ve made to that, and with Mike’s updates he sent me. Compared to the above list, Mike has -1 Celesteela, -1 Brigette for +1 Mysterious Treasure +1 Double Colorless Energy. I’ve simply found myself not wanting to give up the consistency of the 5th search card in Mysterious Treasure nor Celesteela CES. Gardevoir-GX has been getting some silent hype, so I certainly wouldn’t want to cut that and regret it. The 4th Choice Band is also a borderline card, but it’s ultimately great for getting meaningful damage and hitting 1HKOs with Trashalanche.
For a wackier (and less safe) approach, cut 1 Choice Band and either the Brigette or Mysterious Treasure for 2 Shrine of Punishment. This makes the deck a bit more fun and less comparable to old Espeon-GX/Garbodor. To be honest, I haven’t messed around with this much so I don’t know how these changes will improve/hurt its matchups. I predict it will make Zoroark-GX more about using timely Berserks for a 1HKO and racing rather than spamming Righteous Edge. Likewise, it’ll be important not to bench Tapu Lele-GX so that it doesn’t give up an easy 2 Prizes after a few turns of stacked damage.
This argument is one I’m still undecided upon because both options are great. Brigette is amazing when it’s played Turn 1, but mostly sucks and is difficult to use on every other turn. In my opinion, the card was vital in Espeon-GX/Garbodor, even though that deck was more reliant on attaching an Energy T1. This means that because Banette-GX is more flexible and doesn’t require it, Brigette should be able to be played T1 a higher % of the time than before. Espeon-GX/Garbodor played it, so theoretically it can be played now.
The caveat to this discussion is the fact that getting out either Garbodor at the correct time is very important. In the Zoroark-GX matchup, it’s arguably more important to get Garbotoxin out T2 than to Brigette T1. Mysterious Treasure can act as another search card for this purpose, but also works to grab Basics T1 when it’s drawn. Mysterious Treasure is more flexible because it can function in both manners, but is less potent in regard to getting Basics.
In a vacuum, the deck aims to reliably set up a Garbotoxin after settling in, set up a Banette-GX and start attacking with Shadow Chant, and prepare a Drampa-GX or another Banette-GX on the Bench. This general strategy usually happens against decks that aren’t Zoroark-GX or Buzzwole-GX because both of those take advantage of respective Weaknesses. Another important note to make is that against Ability-based decks, keep an extra Trubbish on the Bench unevolved in case the Garbotoxin falls. Some of my un-losable (or so I thought) matches were lost because I evolved my last Trubbish into Garbodor GRI.
In one match, I had a Trubbish and a Garbotoxin on the Bench, Garbodor GRI in hand, and a Professor Sycamore. I remember this was against Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX. I chose to discard the Garbodor GRI, which was the correct play! It didn’t end up mattering, but it very well could have if my opponent had a Guzma.
The goal against Zoroark-GX Control decks (with or without Magcargo CES) is to immediately Righteous Edge and have Berserk pressure with a Garbotoxin online. This will force the opponent to pick their poison: KO Drampa-GX and fall into Sledgehammer, or KO Garbotoxin while leaving Righteous Edge/Berserk alive. In both of these cases, you should be winning because whichever threat they nullify can be easily reincarnated in combination with an N. The longterm goal of the match is to N them continuously until the point where they stop attacking, then to immediately switch to Trashalanche (because it gives up a single Prize) and sweep from there.
As stated previously, Sledgehammer is a great tool against Zoroark-GX that will force them to keep Drampa-GX alive a bit longer. This strategy is a bit sketchy when going second because it’s likely they’ll KO a Trubbish and go down to 5 immediately. If this happens, it’s probably smartest not to have any Pokémon-GX in play and force them to go to 4. Once this happens, evolve to Garbotoxin, load the Sledgehammer, and N. This should equalize the game and make it difficult for them to get off 4 Prizes. If you’re lucky, Sledgehammer will swing twice!
A great tool Zoroark-GX Control decks can take advantage of is Oranguru UPR. It’s extremely pesky to deal with because the only things that can 1HKO it are Berserk and an almost maxed out Shadow Chant. If this happens, I’d either Righteous Edge and lead into Berserk or go for the 1HKO with Shadow Chant if possible. It’s fine to let them KO a Banette-GX if you’ll have the follow up of a clean Drampa-GX + Garbotoxin + N.
This matchup isn’t much trickier than Zoroark-GX Control, but can operate differently depending on if they run Basic Energy or Unit Energy. Basic Energy makes Righteous Edge a less effective strategy because they can easily switch to Garbodor GRI and 2HKO Drampa-GX. If they play Unit Energy, everything should be relatively normal. An important thing to note is that Zoroark-GX/Garbodor inherently runs more Energy than Zoroark-GX Control, meaning Ns are less effective in removing their Energy. It’s most important to have a backup for when they attack after an N, because it’s very likely that they will.
As always, Trashalanche is a threat from their side of the board. They won’t ever evolve to Garbotoxin because that would only hurt their consistent engine. It’s somewhat worthwhile to KO it preemptively with your own Trashalanche, but it’s usually better to KO whatever has Energy attached to it. Also, keep track of what Energy is in their discard pile because that can affect your decision of which attacker to target. If they have 1 Double Colorless left but 3 Unit Energy, it’s better to target their lone Garbodor GRI in play.
Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX can be a difficult matchup if they get an early Lycanroc-GX, but that can be dealt with in a 2HKO. Once that falls, they’ll have very little to swing back with. Garbotoxin is very strong in this matchup because it shuts off their engine and damage simultaneously. As usual, N is great.
Against Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor, rush to set up multiple Banette-GX and Garbodor GRI. Honestly, it’s probably better to start hitting at them with Garbodor GRI because you have more control over your own Supporter count than of their Item count. You should be able to reach 1HKO potential with either attacker eventually, at which point you’ll have won. The only risk of losing is if they sweep a few turns with Sledgehammer. To prevent this, simply have another attacker ready for after they N.
Strong tech cards: Choice Band, Consistency
Unlike most decks, Rayquaza-GX does the work of discarding Items well within a few turns. It’s not even worth it to set up Garbotoxin because that’s a Trubbish wasted on that instead of Trashalanche. When going first, it’s best to attach to a Drampa-GX in case you can ever load up a Berserk. This will give them 2 Prizes, but ultimately get you closer to winning as well. It may even be that they cannot 1HKO the Drampa-GX.
Because this matchup is a race to see who can takes Prizes the quickest, it’s not even worth using N to disrupt their hand. Their deck is so focused on being able to churn through cards that they’re likely to hit an out to a Supporter. Rayquaza-GX is also a board-focused deck, meaning that N does very little to actually stop any of the damage coming at you. It’s more important to slam a Professor Sycamore each turn and maximize the odds of hitting the right cards to start a counterattack.
Set up Garbotoxin, have a spare Trubbish, and sweep with Banette-GX or Garbodor GRI. This is a well-favorable matchup once you learn to deal with Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX with either a Trashalanche or Guzma. It’s worth it to have Drampa-GX ready in case they swing back with something.
Quad Stakataka-GX with or without Naganadel-GX
Set up Garbotoxin and sweep with Berserk. If this fails, they’ll eventually run you over.
Strong tech cards: Shrine of Punishments
Take early Prizes with Banette-GX and set up Garbotoxin. Banette-GX is the best attacker because it will eventually take 2HKOs for a single Energy. It’s worthwhile to attack with Trashalanche if you have an answer to them using Twilight-GX and leaving it stranded.
That’s it! Thanks for reading once again, and as always, I hoped you enjoyed. Garbodor BKP/GRI decks are always my favorite to write about and play because there’s tons of macro play in each game. It’s more important to make longterm decisions like which attackers to use, when to play N, when to race with Guzma, etc, that makes it appealing to me. Aside from this, there’s capabilities in deck-building to smooth over any rough matchups and account for the meta.
Banette-GX/Garbodor is a strong deck I want to keep exploring for Worlds. I think Garbodor decks (without Zoroark-GX) are ill-positioned because of Zoroark-GX’s dominance, but I’m continuing to make it work. My current fallback deck is Zoroark-GX/Magcargo or Zoroark-GX/Garbodor GRI without Garbodor BKP. I hope y’all are enjoying the birth and impending demise of the BKT–CES format, regardless of your participation in the Worlds tournament. As for me, I’m ready to play SUM-on for some much needed freshness. Alas, there is one more month.
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