The new format has certainly shaken up the Pokémon TCG landscape – the game is slower paced with fewer disruptions, meaning a stable deck that takes continuous prizes has the advantage.
While the format was still finding its legs in the first major tournament post-rotation (Melbourne SPE), we slowly saw a shift to non-GX Pokémon/Shrine of Memories dominating in Regional Championships Santa Catarina, Brazil and Philadelphia, USA.
However, Offenbach, Germany (29 September 2018) and Memphis Tennessee, USA (6 October 2018) saw the return of GX Pokémon. Old favourites, modified for the new format, stamped their dominance once again – Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX, Rayquaza GX, Psychic Malamar (now with more Marshadow GX) and the return of Sylveon GX.
On the local front, Pichubros (Penang) and Decards (Subang Jaya) have begun to organise League Challenge tournaments. While Klang Valley players are now spoilt for choice, northern players finally have the chance to earn CP in their own turf.
Locally, Buzzwole GX variants, Zoroark GX variants and Shrine decks continue to dominate League Challenges, though there have been surprises. Like Offenbach, Aaron Kang’s Sylveon GX made Top 8 in two League Challenges, while Lee Keng Fai brought an unorthodox Alolan Ninetales/Volcanion Prism/Quagsire to a Top 8 spot in Toysbar’s October League Challenge.
Our very own Darren Chien took Top 8 in C&H’s League Challenge in the same month with Ho-oh GX/Reshiram GX/Salazzle GX. His in-depth analysis of the new Reshiram GX was in September’s The Expert Belt.
For all the latest results of local tournament this season, click here.
Welcome back, Sylveon GX. Like the once popular (and most annoying deck to face against), Sylveon GX only plays 4 copies of itself with Eevee (Sun & Moon). The idea is to consecutively use Magical Ribbon, allowing you to find any 3 cards from your deck to disrupt your opponent’s setup while building up your board. This time around, Sylveon GX packs maximum copies of Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer and Plumeria to discard Energy cards, as well as Max Potion, Bodybuilding Dumbbells and Acerola to help it stay alive.
In a format without N, Tempest GX (allows you to grab a fresh new hand of 10 cards) is vital for a consistent turn 2 Vikavolt setup. It gets better if you managed to play your own Marshadow (Shinign Legends) before using Tempest GX.
With a steady flow of Energy cards, Rayquaza GX Attack becomes stronger with every passing turn. However, as Shrine of Punishment decks grow in number, Dhelmise (Celestial Storm) has been added into the deck as a non-GX, 130HP Basic Pokémon that’s able to deal 130 damage. Some decks prefer Shining Lugia as an alternative, as the latter can continuously attack each turn without a caveat, and be charged consistently by Vikavolt.
Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX
The absence of Strong Energy and Max Elixir in a new format hasn’t slowed the archetype deck of 2018 one bit. This time however, some players have opted for the combination of Magcargo (Celestial Storm) and Oranguru (Sun and Moon) to draw the right cards they need. The decks’ playstyle hasn’t changed – Put early pressure with Jet Punch, follow up with Buzzwole’s (Forbidden Light) Sledgehammer, and Beast Ring to finish. Add Lycanroc GX’s Bloodthirsty Eyes and Dangerous Rogue GX where needed.
Buzzwole/Garbodor/Shrine of Punishment
No longer can decks afford to flood the board with GX Pokémon. The Shrine of Punishment, which made an impact on Day 1 of Worlds 2018, returns post-rotation to annoy opponents. The lost of Garbodor (Breakpoint) is mitigated with the addition of Diancie Prism and Magcargo (Celestial Storm). The latter combined with Oranguru helps you get the right card you need depending on the board state. With all 1-Prize Pokémon, Buzzwole (Forbidden Light) will definitely be able to use Sledgehammer when your opponent has 4 Prize cards remaining – and they will be punished for liberal use of Items with Garbodor (Guardians Rising).
Buzzwole/Weavile/Shrine of Punishment
An alternate take to the Buzzwole (Forbidden Light) and Shrine of Punishment formula, Weavile (Ultra Prism) takes advantage of an opponent with many Ability-based Pokémon in play – it’s Evil Admonition deals 50 damage times the number of opponent’s Pokémon with an Ability. Some players may even add Weavile (Burning Shadows), which deals 60 damage to all Pokémon with an Ability. Unlike Weavile (Ultra Prism), the Burning Shadows variant also has free Retreat.
Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX
Here’s a deck that hasn’t lost its lustre after rotation. Setup plenty of Zoroark GX to abuse the Trade Ability, use Lycanroc GX’s Bloodthirsty Eyes Ability to take KOs that messes your opponent’s plans, and finish off big HP Pokémon with Dangerous Rogue GX. With Puzzle of Time out of the picture, Oranguru (Ultra Prism) is the substitute to recycle important cards back into the deck. However, the deck is still able to depend on Acerola to deny your opponent. Devoured Field and Professor Kukui have become permanent additions to the deck – with a Choice Band attached and a full Bench, a Zoroark GX can easily KO Tapu Lele GX with one Riotous Beating. Some players even play 1-1 Magcargo line to Smooth Over the right cards they need to win.
Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX
The foundations are close to the deck above, except Lycanroc GX is replaced by Golisopod GX. Works just like the pre-rotation build – constantly hit 120 damage with Golisopod GX’s First Impression Attack, and use Acerola when either Zoroark GX or Golisopod GX takes a significant beating. Crossing Cut GX, with a Choice Band, is able to hit a one-hit KO on plenty of Pokémon GX that’s 180 HP and below, and those 200 HP and below if you use Tapu Koko early on to pile a little bit of damage with Flying Flip.
Marshadow GX/Malamar (Psychic Malamar)
With Float Stone rotated, Rukan Shao made popular the use of 4 copies of Escape Board as a means to consistently Retreat the Active Pokémon – giving life to Psychic Malamar once more. The key is to setup as many Malamar as possible, and discard Dawn Wings Necrozma GX and Necrozma GX – so Marshadow GX will be able to copy the Attacks of both cards.
The addition of Deoxys (Celestial Storm 67) gives the deck a 1-Prize attacker for the Shrine of Punishment matchup, though it also has a decent Power Blast attack for 120 damage which you only need to discard 1 Energy. Mimikyu is also a key card that is able to return a KO if your opponent uses a powerful Attack.
The latest version of this deck that won in Memphis also included Psychic Oricorio (Guardians Rising) to search for Energy, and Chimecho (Crimson Invasion), which denies your opponent from being able to play Pokémon with Abilities.
Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt
Like Rayquaza, the deck aims to get Vikavolt out by turn 2, and use its Strong Charge to continuously stream Tapu Bulu GX’s Nature Judgement (or Tapu Wilderness GX) to take consistent KOs on your opponent’s Pokémon. Unfortunately, the deck doesn’t have “Tempest GX” to make this happen consistently in a tournament.
In place of Mew (Fates Collide), players have opted to use Dhelmise (Celestial Storm), a vital card for the Shrine of Punishment match. Some players have also added Aether Paradise Conservation Area, a Stadium that reduces the damage to basic Grass and Lightning Pokémon by 30 damage, protecting not only Tapu Bulu GX and Tapu Koko, but your Grubbin as well.
Dusk Mane Necrozma GX/Magnezone/Ribombee
A slower format gives more time for setup decks, like this one. Like Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt, this deck is also straightforward – use Magnezone’s (Ultra Prism) Magnetic Prism to charge Metal Energy from your hand to Dusk Mane Necrozma GX for Meteor Tempest. While before there was only Mt. Coronet to help return Energy to hand (from the Discard Pile), Shane Quinn added Ribombee (Burning Shadows), with the Honey Gather Ability to grab 2 Energy cards from your deck. A turn 1 Steven’s Resolve helps with setup, able to take any 3 cards from the deck to put into your hand. Stakataka GX can also be added for damage reduction, and/or Dialga GX for Timeless GX, an Attack that allows you to take another turn.
Solgaleo GX/Metagross GX
Just like the deck before this, Solgaleo GX/Metagross GX benefits from a slower meta and turn 1 Steven’s Resolve play. However, Metagross GX has an additional Algorithm GX, so you can search for any 5 cards from your deck and put to your hand. Attack wise, you would stream Metagross GX’s Giga Hammer or Solgaleo GX’s Sunsteel Strike, recharging Energy using Metagross GX’s Geotech System Ability. To frustrate your opponent further, the deck plays 4 Max Potions – making these two 250HP Pokémon even harder to beat.
Zoroark GX/Banette GX
While it didn’t make a splash at Worlds 2018, Zoroark GX/Banette GX did manage to win 3rd place at the recent Philadelphia Regionals. Banette GX is interesting – it’s Shady Move Ability allows you to move one Damage Counter on one of your Pokémon to any Pokémon on the field, even your opponent. It also has a one Energy attack, Shadow Chant, that deals 30+ 10 more damage for every Supporter in the Discard Pile (not more than 100 damage can be added, means a maximum of 10 Supporters). It’s Tomb Hunt GX Attack can also take any 3 cards from the Discard Pile. With such a low Energy requirement and great synergy with Zoroark GX (discarding Supporters for Trade), these two Pokémon make a lethal combination. You can even add Garbodor (Guardians Rising) to help finish off your opponent.
An under the radar deck that has been steadily gaining traction, it uses a combination of Quagsire’s Ability, Aqua Patch and Exp. Share to continuously stream Lapras GX for consistent KOs. The addition of Volcanion Prism Star helps soften up your opponent’s Benched Pokémon for a future Lapras GX KO, and Kyogre gives the deck another non-GX Pokémon option. There’s also one Dragon-type Dialga GX, to give it a non-Grass weakness Attacker. Variations of this deck also play Wishful Baton to make sure Energy cards stay on the field.
Lost Thunder will surely shake-up the meta with over 214 cards and plenty of new staples – it’s going to be a different playing field the moment the set becomes legal.
Take note that the new Solgaleo GX (SM104) and Lunala GX (SM103) are legal 19th October onwards. The Solgaleo GX looks promising so there may be players keen to test the new card. Don’t be surprised to see that across the board in your next tournament.