Hello again readers, I’m back with you for one last word on the format before the fourth Limitless Qualifier kicks off this weekend. I haven’t been playing nearly as much PTCGO in the last week as I had been, but that’s because I want to avoid burning myself out. However, I still have a deck that I feel like has been completely glossed over by everyone. What time I have spent on Pokémon since my last article on Vikavolt was used optimizing yet another Stage 2 deck for the final Limitless Qualifier.
Of course, I’m not actually playing the event, and I have no idea how well it will fair in a Bo1 format. I’ve solely been playing Pokémon for enjoyment over the last few weeks, which is what has led me to shy away from the meta decks in favor of rogue archetypes. Sure, I could play Blacephalon on the PTCGO ladder and rack up wins pretty quickly. Or, better yet, I could play a fun rogue deck where half of my opponents have no idea what’s going on, and win around the same amount of games as I would have with a meta deck. Part of the reason that I’m still involved in Pokémon during the extended break is because I must find it somewhat enjoyable on a surface level. Maximizing that enjoyment is paramount to not burning out.
I have to keep the decks I share here somewhat competitive, which is why the Incineroar monstrosity that I built is sitting on my Twitter rather than here. I have a long list of decks that are just okay, and not good enough to stand up to the top decks. However, one deck that I’ve spent most of my time working on actually boasts decent matchups against almost all of the top decks. Anyone who was watching Azul’s streams while he hit one of my friends or me has already been exposed to the early versions of the deck, but the list has come a long way since those games. The deck in question is Grimmsnarl RCL.
So, when RCL first dropped, I looked at Grimmsnarl and said, “This card is a really cool gimmick, but it is probably awful.” Part of that first impression was correct. The card is really cool, but it’s not totally awful. You don’t think about it much, but the ability to force your opponent to attach an extra Energy in order to attack is actually insanely broken in this format. As it is, multiple Energy attachments are already required for literally every top deck to be able to attack. Welder and Metal Saucer are there for acceleration of course, but those usually can only get you to the exact requirement to attack in one turn. That’s where Grimmsnarl really shines.
The deck started out as a joke while I was building things that should absolutely slaughter Dragapult VMAX, after I lost yet another match against it with meta decks. I wanted things that could give me incredibly good odds of winning the game. This led to Incineroar-GX TEU/ZoroNinja-GX, Dark Box, and Grimmsnarl being built. Of the three, Grimmsnarl was the only one that seemed remotely capable of beating the other top decks. Thus, the process of refining what was a really terrible list began.
1 Ditto p
1 Zacian V
4 Unit FDY
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 18
* 4 Impidimp RCL 123
* 1 Morgrem RCL 124
* 4 Grimmsnarl RCL 125
* 4 Jirachi PR-SM 161
* 1 Aerodactyl-GX UNM 244
* 1 Buzzwole FLI 77
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Mew PR-SM 215
* 1 Zacian V SSH 195
##Trainer Cards - 33
* 4 Switch
* 1 Escape Board UPR 167
* 4 Crushing Hammer SSH 159
* 2 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 2 Boss’s Orders RCL 200
* 1 Chaotic Swell CEC 187
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 3 Cynthia UPR 148
* 4 Rare Candy
* 1 Professor’s Research SSH 201
* 1 Dangerous Drill TEU 192
* 2 Pokémon Communication
* 2 Marnie SSH 208
* 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 215
* 1 Unidentified Fossil UPR 134
##Energy - 9
* 1 D Energy SMEnergy 16
* 4 Twin Energy RCL 174
* 4 Unit Energy FDY FLI 118
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81332 ******
As I began playing games, it became clear to me that PikaRom was going to be my biggest issue to overcome. Originally, my list played no Fighting-type counters to it. I tried to add only Buzzwole FLI, but that wasn’t nearly enough to make the matchup favored. At one point, I even tried playing 4 Falinks RCL and 2 Falinks V, but that was a disaster for consistency, and was scrapped after a few games. Finally, I happened upon Aerodactyl-GX in my search for a Fighting-type Pokémon that attack for a single Energy. Unfortunately, it’s a Stage 1, but that’s not the end of the world, especially if your opponent doesn’t know what the Ditto p could possibly evolve into.
Meanwhile, the list was also getting refined in terms of consistency and supporting cards. For instance, I started with 3 Dangerous Drill. They were good cards, but I found that I could rarely afford to actually discard a D Pokémon. I will admit, adding the Fighting-type Pokémon was harmful to the overall consistency of the deck, but if they make PikaRom even a 50/50 matchup, that’s worth a small consistency hit.
I hate playing the Stage 1 piece of a Stage 2 line, but unfortunately it’s a necessary evil in the current format. There will be times when I need 5 Grimmsnarl, or just cannot find a Rare Candy and need to evolve into the Morgrem instead. One of my friends suggesting cutting down to 3 Grimmsnarl, and I had to completely shut him down on that idea, because of how important it is to have as much access to them as possible.
It seems I will forever be playing Zacian in a supporting role rather than as an attacker. Zacian is really important for the deck’s functionality in some games, and in other games, you’ll never need it. The only reason there isn’t a 2nd copy is because of some serious space constraints on the deck.
Aerodactyl-GX, 1 Ditto p, 1 Unidentified Fossil1
This probably looks weird if you haven’t thought about a lot of the factors that come into play with a tech like Aerodactyl-GX. For instance, there will be games that your opponent will have no idea what’s coming when you bench Ditto p, but if you bench a Fossil, there’s a pretty big limit on what Pokémon they need to prepare for.
As an added bonus to Aerodactyl-GX, it has almost the exact same gimmick Ability as Grimmsnarl, and has free retreat, making it super strong in the deck. Unidentified Fossil also serves another purpose than just evolving into Aerodactyl. You can promote it after you are KO’d and discard it without any detriment such as burning a retreat or Switch. If you have no Jirachi in play after you’ve been KO’d, having Fossil in the Active lets you “switch” to a Jirachi whenever you find it.
I brought this up with my friends, but Buzzwole has been seriously power-crept. 120 damage is barely a drop in the bucket against most decks, which honestly hurts my brain to think about. However, it serves its purpose against PikaRom, barely doing enough damage to KO their attackers. It also has some application in the Blacephalon UNB matchup if they are able to apply high amounts of pressure.
Cynthia, 2 Marnie, 1 Professor’s Research3
This is another set of card counts that looks weird. There’s some semblance of logic here, but it mostly came down to “How many draw Supporters can I fit in the deck, and how many will I play in a game?” 6 ended up being the answer to both of those questions. I’m still flipping between the 4th Cynthia and the Professor’s Research, but there have been far too many games where the discard and draw won me the game where Cynthia would not have.
I really wish this number was higher, but the reality is that you should never need more than two in a game. On top of that, you’ll likely never get to play more than two before a conclusion occurs.
Evolution Incense, 2 Pokémon Communication2
I think I complained about this in my last article, but it’s still valid. I shouldn’t have to play Pokémon Communication in decks anymore, yet here I am. Last time it was all about conserving Pokémon, now it’s about finding Basic Pokémon on the first few turns.
Crushing Hammer, 1 Dangerous Drill4
Yup, I’m playing Energy disruption in the deck that deals damage based on how many Energy they have attached. As dumb as it sounds, it’s actually necessary for winning nearly every matchup. Since you’re likely playing a 2HKO game rather than a 1HKO game, you’re going to need to survive long enough to attack twice. As it turns out, Energy denial plus an Ability that makes them need more Energy to attack cripples a lot of decks. Who’d’ve thought? Dangerous Drill is mostly here as a sort-of Tool Scrapper that doubles as an Enhanced Hammer.
A lot of PikaRom lists only have 1 Stadium and no Marshadow UNB. That’s pretty convenient for us. Not only is Thunder Mountain p blocked from play, but we’re also forcing them to attach more Energy to attack. Of course, you have to actually find the Chaotic Swell for it to matter, but in my experience, the games I do find it and it sticks almost always go my way.
Twin Energy, 4 Unit Energy FDY, 1 D Energy4
Finally, a deck that Twin Energy actually makes perfect sense in. What a concept. I really dislike playing so many Special Energy in a format where Giratina UNM is a thing, but since it only targets the Active, you can reasonably build your attacker on the Bench and then KO a Dragapult VMAX before Giratina becomes an issue. There’s only 1 D Energy in here, which feels not great, but space is still rough.
I’m actually not going to go too in-depth here because almost everything is going to be self-explanatory. A lot of these were in the list at some point and ended up as cuts or just weren’t good enough. I definitely am not short on ideas though.
- 2nd D Energy
- 1-1 Lycanroc CEC (1HKOs PikaRom for zero Energy)
- Tool Scrapper
- 2nd Zacian V
- 1–4 Rosa (switch back to basic Energy-only build)
- Scoop Up Net/Giratina UNM/Mewtwo UNB/Galarian Zigzagoon SSH
- 2-0-2 Galarian Obstagoon SSH (it’s bad, but was really funny)
- 3rd Boss’s Orders or an Eldegoss V
- Mimikyu TEU + Counter Gain
- More Energy control cards
- Stage 2 Fossils + more Unidentified Fossils
- Lillie’s Poké Dolls
There’s more, but I’m pretty sure I hit on all of the better/cooler ideas that I tried out. The point here is that there’s a lot of different techs that you can play in this deck.
The Matchup Spread
Dragapult VMAX: Heavily Favored
Yes, I know that it’s shocking, but the matchup that I intended to beat when I built the deck is indeed a favorable matchup. You might think I’m joking here, but I had a lot of decks built to beat ADP before OCIC that ended up having an unfavorable matchup anyway. This matchup is relatively simple. They’re going to need multiple turns to set up and attack. So are you. That’s what the Hammers are for. Dragapult VMAX is their only attacker, so they don’t exactly have any way to get around the fact that you’re a 170-HP D type that easily 1HKOs them. The only way that this matchup goes badly is if you’re unable to set up a Grimmsnarl before they’ve attacked at least twice. There will be games where they never attack because of the Hammers and Dark Oath. There will also be games where you look at your hand and lose because you’re a Stage 2 deck. It happens.
Blacephalon UNB: Favored
This matchup is actually what ended up taking Grimmsnarl from a meme deck to actually worth putting time into. I ran into Azul on his stream for my first ever Blacephalon matchup with the deck, and I ended up running him over. As it turns out, 4 Energy is a rather steep attack cost for their deck to churn out at all consistently. Of course, there are ways for them to stall for a few turns while setting up multiple Blacephalon with Energy attached, but Crushing Hammers, and Boss’s Orders are sorta problematic for that strategy. On top of all of that, you’re able to play Marnie on key turns in hopes of preventing them from taking a KO. Both Aerodactyl and Buzzwole are actually surprisingly good alternate attackers in this matchup, which is how I’ve justified including so many cards for PikaRom.
Yup. Even with a lot of techs, this matchup is still rough. I think if you also included the 1-1 Lycanroc CEC on top of the Buzzwole and Aerodactyl, the matchup gets better, but that’s honestly just too many cards to commit. This matchup pretty much comes down to how well you’re able to use your techs. Buzzwole is almost guaranteed to take 2–3 Prizes if you attack with it. Aerodactyl-GX has similar prospects. The issue is claiming what’s usually the last Prize card. Depending on how your opponent has played, there’s a few ways to do this. Grimmsnarl will probably be able to deal a decent amount of damage to one of their attackers. After this, you can either clean up the damaged Pokémon with Mew or a recycled Buzzwole, or you can manage to pull off another Grimmsnarl to close the game.
I honestly expected this matchup to be borderline impossible to win. Instead, I found that depending on Hammer flips and how fast I got a Grimmsnarl Active, I would end up winning around half of the games played. The fact that the math works out perfectly for Grimmsnarl to 1HKO a Zacian with 4 Energy—which is the required amount to KO a Grimmsnarl—is what makes the matchup winnable. Depending on how fast you’re attacking, your opponent might never get to Ultimate Ray, which ultimately leads to them fizzling out when trying to take their last few Prize cards.
Mill/Control: Bad. Very Bad.
So basically, this matchup is unwinnable if:
- you don’t start a Jirachi or Grimmsnarl and they play a gust,
- they realize what Grimmsnarl actually does, and/or
- you manage to time all of your Hammers perfectly with your lone Grimmsnarl, which miraculously has Energies still attached, in order to make them deck out or somehow lose all of their Oranguru.
It just occurred to me that I didn’t talk about the Players Cup at all. Oh well. I’m not enthused. That’s my thoughts. Read everyone else’s thoughts and comments in order to get an opinion of someone who might actually play in it. Basically, I don’t want the game to become a mindless grind for me. I would much rather stay as I am, enjoying what I do.
I actually considered playing the Limitless Qualifier this weekend, but have ultimately determined that it wouldn’t be worth it to me. Either way, good luck and have fun to everyone who is participating. I’m sure I’ll get my fair share of entertainment out of all the people who complain about their “bad luck” on their social media accounts.
Anyway, stay safe everyone and try to stay positive. That’s all from me for this one. I’ll be back in June (I cannot believe it’s almost June already), with some more articles.
Until the next one.
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