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Midrange Zoroark-GX and the Sinister Vileplume Stall Reformulated for Santa Clara
It is so cute…and terrifying!

Hello readers! I’m very excited to be back writing for SixPrizes. The recent release of Unbroken Bonds has given the format an abundance of new cards that are extremely playable and, as such, has created a bunch of new archetypes. We’ll get to see how well these new archetypes integrate into Standard in Santa Clara (and São Paulo) this weekend. Going into this weekend, I want to share with you guys my top two decks (in no particular order) and a list of techs to look for at Santa Clara.

The Old and Forgotten: Zoroark-GX

When beginning my testing for SUM–UNB, I overlooked Zoroark-GX as many others have. With its decline in success due mostly to Lightning decks (Zapdos and PikaRom variants) swarming the fields, Zoroark has lost respect in the eyes of many as the “top dog” it once was. With its Standard legality coming to an end at North America Internationals in June, I thought I should give Zoroark-GX a chance to shine in this new format.

Styles of Zoroark

Throughout its history, Zoroark-GX has been an incredibly versatile card and its ability to be utilized by many different styles of decks has been very apparent. Zoroark has seen action and great success in all three main styles of play:

  1. Aggro,
  2. Midrange, and
  3. Control.

Going into the Unbroken Bonds block of events, I thought to myself that a more Midrange approach to the deck would probably be best. Its lack of aggressive damage output has it gasping for air when trying to combat extremely powerful TAG TEAM GXs, and the an abundance of Energy acceleration-focused decks (such as PikaRom and all of the Fire decks [ReshiZard, Blown-GX, and Baby Blown]) leave its Control side in a very weird position. With not many options in terms of controlling Energies efficiently, Zoroark is sort of pushed into this Midrange archetype where you have a lot of options and can choose to be either aggressive or passive.

Here is my current Zoroark-GX list which attempts to counter the anticipated metagame but also stay true to its 2HKO nature.

Pokémon (21)

4 Zorua SLG

4 Zoroark-GX

1 Alolan Grimer SUM

1 Alolan Muk SUM

1 Slowpoke UNB

1 Slowking LOT

1 Meowth TEU

1 Persian-GX

1 Ditto p

1 Oranguru UPR

1 Mew UNB

1 Marshadow UNB

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Dedenne-GX

Trainer (31)

4 Lillie

2 Acerola

2 Guzma

2 Judge

1 Cynthia

1 Professor Kukui


4 Nest Ball

4 Ultra Ball

2 Pokémon Communication

1 Field Blower

1 Max Potion

1 Pal Pad

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Switch


2 Choice Band


1 Devoured Field

1 Wondrous Labyrinth p

Energy (8)

4 Double Colorless Energy

4 Triple Acceleration Energy


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 21

* 4 Zorua SLG 52
* 4 Zoroark-GX PR-SM 84
* 1 Alolan Grimer SUM 57
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 1 Slowpoke UNB 42
* 1 Slowking LOT 55
* 1 Meowth TEU 125
* 1 Persian-GX UNB 149
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Oranguru UPR 114
* 1 Mew UNB 76
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57

##Trainer Cards - 31

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 2 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
* 4 Lillie SUM 122
* 2 Acerola BUS 112
* 2 Judge FLI 108
* 4 Ultra Ball PLB 90
* 4 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 1 Cynthia UPR 119
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 2 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Wondrous Labyrinth p TEU 158
* 1 Switch ROS 91
* 1 Pal Pad FLF 92
* 1 Professor Kukui SUM 148
* 1 Max Potion GRI 164
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Devoured Field CIN 93

##Energy - 8

* 4 Triple Acceleration Energy UNB 190
* 4 Double Colorless Energy XYEnergy 130

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

New Inclusions (and Exclusions)

No Fighting! But a Cat…

As you can see, there are no Fighting types in this list. Immediately you think of how rough the PikaRom matchup must be. I do agree that PikaRom is not a great matchup for Zoroark when built with no Fighting counters and I will be looking into adding a Lycanroc-GX line in the future, but for now, I think this list deals with the anticipated metagame the best. Instead of Fighting-specific counters, we have a Persian-GX line which can, in theory, 1HKO a PikaRom with 9 Pokémon in the discard and Choice Band/Kukui. These cards are generally easy to assemble because of the Ability Cat Walk which lets you search your deck for 2 cards if 1 of your Pokémon-GX/EX was Knocked Out on your opponent’s last turn. The card that makes this all possible is Triple Acceleration Energy, and its synergy with almost every attacker in this deck makes it an auto-include as a 4-of.

General Consistency

In terms of general consistency, we have the best version of a Lillie + Nest Ball-based build possible now with the inclusion of Dedenne-GX. This card is so incredibly strong and I expect it to shape the way decks are built as long as it’s legal.


There are bunch of tech Pokémon in this deck, so let’s go over them all.

  • Mew UNB: This card has incredible utility. Its Ability is great versus PikaRom and Buzzwole-GX and its attack is generally useful in some other matchups where you can either set up (A) multiple-knockout turns to bypass Beast Rings or (B) numbers on some strong big attackers.
  • Marshadow UNB: This card may look like our old and often-hated Marshadow SLG, but it’s more utility-focused and I believe an incredible addition to Zoroark-GX. Its Ability lets you get rid of pesky Stadiums like Shrine of Punishment and the new Power Plant. On top of having overall synergy with Zoroark-GX, its attack is a strong answer to Buzzwole FLI which is commonly a problem for Zoroark.
  • Field Blower: I believe this is one of the most important tech cards you can include in any deck in this upcoming format. There are an abundance of annoying Tool and Stadium cards such as Wishful Baton, Spell Tag, and, as mentioned before, Shrine of Punishment and Power Plant.
  • Slowking LOT: Slowking is in this deck exclusively to hard-counter ReshiZard. With its popularity apparent by its rise in price alone, paired its success in Japan, ReshiZard is destined to sear in Santa Clara. The fact that Ditto p exists to make 1-1 Pokémon lines more consistent is enough justification for me to include Slowking.
  • Alolan Muk SUM: As many would expect, Zapdos isn’t going anywhere. Alolan Muk is a necessary inclusion in all Zoroark-GX decks because without it you stand close to no chance versus Zapdos decks. Their ability to use Jirachi TEU multiple times in a single turn and consistently pick off your setup on the Bench is a pain to deal with.
  • Oranguru UPR: Lastly we have our old friend Oranguru whose service in the deck is simply to attempt to not lose to Mill. I personally think the Mill archetype is very strong (*wink wink*) and as such, I want to be prepared against it. The single copy of Switch is also in the deck to accommodate Oranguru and get him into the Active slot while also having utility in moving heavy Pokémon such as Alolan Muk.

Let’s briefly talk about some of Zoroark’s matchups!


Zapdos/Beasts: Favorable

This matchup was favorable before Unbroken Bonds and it’s still favorable now. With additions to the deck such as Marshadow UNB, you have an immediate answer to Buzzwole FLI and can also lock down their draw engine with Alolan Muk.

ReshiZard: Favorable

The addition of Triple Acceleration Energy into the format has opened the doors to an insane amount of techs. Zoroark being the master of including them all, we see Slowking now with the ability to 1HKO ReshiZard. That, paired with common disruption via Judge, ReshiZard will struggle to take the remaining few Prize cards.

PikaRom: Unfavored

This matchup has always been a toss-up in my opinion. The fact that we’re playing no dedicated Fighting support in this list makes the matchup sketchier. Instead, we have to rely on Mew’s Bench Barrier and sometimes Alolan Muk to lock down Abilities in key turns. Overall, I’d say this matchup is winnable with the right draws. You have the ability to 1-shot a PikaRom with Persian-GX maxing out its damage via Choice Band and Kukui, which is a key factor in the matchup. I wouldn’t say this is an awful matchup, but it’s definitely not a matchup I’d look forward to playing against for multiple rounds at Santa Clara.

Baby Blacephalon: Highly Favored

This deck has received a ton of hype. Its ability to dish out insane damage has appealed to many. However, its inconsistencies are taken advantage of with our list here. Field Blower takes care of Wishful Baton, Blacephalons have only 120 HP to begin with, and Judge disrupts their hand to a point of no return on their damage.

Stall/Mill Decks: Unfavored

The inclusion of Oranguru UPR helps; however, those decks play outs to it, like Faba looping via Lusamine and just annoying things like Vileplume. I’d be looking to get a tie more so than winning in a Best-of-3. You have Judge to disrupt their hand. If you can get lucky, you might be able to squeeze out a win.

Weezing: Favored

Weezing is an interesting addition to the meta. I think it has great potential. It does, however, struggle with decks that can constantly heal. Yes, we have to worry about Larvitar LOT 115 but it’s not that big of a threat. Wisely use your Acerolas and Max Potion and you should be coasting to a victory here.

Blacephalon-GX: Slightly Favored

This matchup is incredibly close from my testing. The addition of Persian-GX is extremely helpful in this matchup. It can 1HKO Blacephalon with both of its attacks and provides an extremely powerful search tool. Sometimes they can overwhelm you with Beast Rings and that becomes an uphill battle since they can start attacking on Turn 1. The addition of Welder into their lists is also a huge threat. They can reach numbers you didn’t think they could out of nowhere. Overall, it seems like the techs we play have a lot of utilization in this matchup, which is convenient.

I think those are the most common matchups you’ll encounter at Santa Clara. Overall, Zoroark seems to have a decent spread of matchups and is definitely a high consideration of mine going into this weekend.

Vileplume Stall

I didn’t think the day would come where I’d be playing Stall, let alone writing an article about it. But, here we are. Vileplume Stall seems to be in an incredible position heading into this weekend and I’ve been putting in a ton of hours testing the deck. Let’s take a look at the list.

Pokémon (13)

3 Oddish BUS

2 Vileplume BUS

3 Hoopa SLG

2 Lucario & Melmetal-GX

1 Girafarig LOT

1 Lugia-GX

1 Unown LOT 91

Trainer (44)

4 Steven’s Resolve

3 Bill’s Analysis

3 Lusamine

2 Acerola

2 Gladion

2 Plumeria

1 Faba

1 Guzma

1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy

1 Mars

1 Tate & Liza

1 Team Skull Grunt


4 Max Potion EPO 94

4 Nest Ball

3 Pokégear 3.0

2 Counter Catcher

2 Rare Candy DEX 100

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Rescue Stretcher


2 Metal Frying Pan

1 Counter Gain


1 Mount Lanakila

1 Power Plant

Energy (3)

2 Double Colorless Energy

1 Rainbow Energy


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 13

* 3 Oddish BUS 4
* 2 Vileplume BUS 6
* 3 Hoopa SLG 55
* 2 Lucario & Melmetal-GX UNB 120
* 1 Girafarig LOT 94
* 1 Lugia-GX LOT 159
* 1 Unown LOT 91

##Trainer Cards - 44

* 3 Lusamine CIN 96
* 1 Mars UPR 128
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 4 Max Potion EPO 94
* 1 Mount Lanakila BUS 118
* 3 Bill’s Analysis TEU 133
* 1 Team Skull Grunt SUM 133
* 2 Metal Frying Pan FLI 112
* 2 Rare Candy DEX 100
* 2 Gladion CIN 95
* 2 Acerola BUS 112
* 1 Tate & Liza CES 148
* 4 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy UNB 178
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Enhanced Hammer GRI 124
* 4 Steven’s Resolve CES 145
* 1 Power Plant UNB 183
* 2 Counter Catcher CIN 91
* 3 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 182
* 2 Plumeria BUS 120
* 1 Faba LOT 173
* 1 Counter Gain LOT 230

##Energy - 3

* 2 Double Colorless Energy SUM 136
* 1 Rainbow Energy XYEnergy 131

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

As we can see, the list has added a few new tools. Mainly Lucario & Melmetal-GX. This beefy boy wins matchups by himself. The shortcoming of this card is only that it doesn’t have a fancy nickname like “PikaRom” or “ReshiZard” that sounds cool. I’m open to suggestions.

New Additions from UNB

Pokégear 3.0

This card provided the deck with an amazing boost in consistency. Some games literally come down to you playing Steven’s Resolve on Turn 1. If you do, you win; if not, you’re in for a shaky game. Having good reach for your Supporters, which this deck plays an abundance of, is an amazing tool and I expect this card to see play throughout almost every archetype in the game.

Power Plant

An amazing inclusion. The fact that we can recycle this card infinitely gives the deck another dimension of disruption. Those pesky Zeraora-GX now have to deal with this Stadium.

Lt. Surge’s Strategy

This card, although only played as a 1-of, introduces to the deck the ability to burst. Traditionally burst would be tailored to attacking and dealing damage; however, in this deck, you’re now able to burst out disruption. Having the ability to dish out 2 Acerolas or two ways of discard Energy can set your opponent back a lot. I chose to only play 1 copy of this card because those scenarios are few and far between, and I wanted to focus on making the most consistent build I could.

Lucario & Melmetal-GX

This card is a wall. Its unique attack and massive HP paired with its ability to utilize Metal Frying Pan make it an incredibly annoying card to deal with. Even though Fire archetypes are in abundance, this card is an auto-include in every Stall deck, in my opinion.

One-Two (Anti-)Punch

The deck plays a lot like it did in its Regigigas iterations. With enough matchup knowledge you lead yourself through a game plan that involves grinding your opponent out of resources and, if needed, winning with Unown LOT 91 (HAND). The current meta seems to have devolved into two main classes:

  1. GX-heavy decks and
  2. Basic decks.

We do see other decks that don’t fit these categories which I’ll be going over later. Hoopa SLG makes quick work of GX-heavy decks with its Scoundrel Guard Ability, and Vileplume BUS’s Disgusting Pollen Ability wrecks havoc on Basic Pokémon by preventing them from attacking altogether. These two friends alone make an amazing wall, but their friend Lucario & Melmetal-GX is no slouch either.

The Impenetrable Wall: Lucario & Melmetal-GX

This card alone has put Mill on the map for me personally. Its GX attack is absolutely insane. Being able to discard your opponent’s Energy and reduce damage for the whole game is an effect never before seen in the Pokémon TCG. If your opponent has no means to 2-shot Big Boy here then they auto lose. The ability to spam Lusamine for Lusamine and Acerola (into Acerola) spells nightmares for a ton of decks in this format.

Here’s a quick list of matchups I’ve found that Lucario & Melmetal-GX wins by himself:

  1. Weezing: Once you Nest Ball for this guy your opponent should scoop the game. With his GX attack and a Metal Frying Pan, your opponent’s Weezings do no damage. They rely on Shrine of Punishment, which you have an infinite number of counter Stadiums to, and Weezing’s Ability to deal damage. You just sit there and discard all their Energies to cleanly win the game.
  2. Zapdos: This one is simple again. They cannot 2-shot you, so you can basically sit there and discard all their Energy and heal infinitely. Easy win.

Besides these two auto-win matchups, Big Boy has great utility. He has an attack that can pressure during the late game. Double Colorless for 50 damage is fair enough. When paired with a Stall archetype it can certainly take down games by himself. I’ve found that some opponents like to draw–pass when they see Mill…but you can take 6 Prizes with Steel Fist. His attacks paired with his enormous HP and access to Metal Frying Pan sometimes truly make this an impenetrable wall.

Techs and Their Uses

Girafarig LOT / Lugia-GX

I’ll pair these two together because their main use is to send cards into the Lost Zone. Traditionally, Girafarig’s inclusion tends to lean toward the side of Energy and Supporter disruption. Getting rid of Energy in the Malamar and Fire matchups is rather useful. Additionally, it has great utility in Lost Zoning Guzmas in a lot of matchups where you might not think to. Trapping stuff Active and proceeding to deck people out is a huge win condition for this deck, and Girafarig can help facilitate that.

Lugia-GX is more or less the same kind of answer. When your opponent makes a large threat, you can simply send it to the Lost Zone with a DCE and Counter Gain.

Mount Lanakila

This was one of the cards I was most adamant about including. It allows you to trap a ton of Pokémon. Using Lusamine to have infinite access to it and run your opponent out of ways to attack you is a realistic possibility. I know that if I sit across from someone playing this Stadium, I’m in for an annoying game, and that’s what Stall aims to be.

Power Plant

As mentioned before, this card has a ton of uses. It provides an already annoying deck the ability to stop Abilities. (lol.) The main card you want to stop is Zeraora-GX, which traditionally gives this deck problems with its free retreat and even its GX attack. This card further contributes to the general idea of the deck which is to trap things Active and actively disrupt your opponent as much as possible.


Unbroken Bonds brought a ton of new cards into the meta and I think Zoroark-GX and Mill were one of the two greatest beneficiaries. Cards like Dedenne-GX provide general consistency and cards like Lucario & Melmetal-GX can seem to be immovable walls. Overall, I’ve been having a great time testing a ton of new and old decks in this new format. I look forward to testing more and providing some in-depth matchup analysis with my next article later this month and I’m excited to be playing in Santa Clara this weekend. I hope you guys learned a few things by reading this article and I’m always appreciative of SixPrizes for inviting me back to write.

As always, If you have any suggestions, criticisms or comments, I’d love to hear them. You can always reach me either here on SixPrizes through the comments or on Twitter @PeterJoltik.

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