Putting the Spark Back in Virizion/Genesect
One deck that has been kind of lost in the wind as the format has changed to include the XY set is Virizion/Genesect. The deck is still seeing plenty of Top 8 appearances, but the deck has had nowhere near the amount of success that it was seeing before the format change at States thus far.
It’s a deck that for all intents and purposes should still be good. It shuts off Hypnotoxic Laser, which is regaining popularity, it has built in Energy Acceleration, and easily hits for 70 on turn 2, and 120/200 on turn 3. There is no reason for this deck to not be really good, yet it still has seen a large decrease in play at State Championships.
The deck has struggled with the power creep of some of the new cards, and thus players have had some difficulty putting together the right mix of cards to make the deck succeed in this format. I covered some ideas in this article, but I want to take another look at the deck with some ideas influenced by some of the top State performances for the deck.
Here are some of the relevant finishes for the deck at State Championships this year:
- 4th Place at Alberta, Canada Provincials
- 3rd and 4th Place at Idaho States, 3rd place with Drifblim
- 1st and 5th Place at Illinois states, 5th place with Drifblim
- 1st Place at Maryland States with Drifblim
- 2nd and 4th Place at Missouri States, 2nd Place with Ho-Oh, Terrakion, and Yveltal EX, 4th Place with Raichu.
- 1st Place at New York States with Drifblim
- 2nd, 6th, and 7th place at Rhode Island States, all with Drifblim
- 5th Place at Texas States
One Pokemon that has popped up in a lot of the successful variants has been Drifblim. There are two good Drifblim’s in the format right now, and both are worthy of inclusion in the deck. The first Drifblim, from Plasma Blast, does 70 damage and discards a Special Energy attached to the Defending Pokemon. It has an Ability which decreases the attack cost of Derail for each Plasma Pokemon your opponent has in play. That means that you virtually have a free attacker at your disposal against Plasma, Fairies, and other Virizion/Genesect decks.
The second Drifblim is from Dragons Exalted, and has a one Energy attack called Shadow Steal, which does 50 damage time the number of Special Energy Cards in your opponent’s discard pile. This is a great attacker in the late game against a lot of decks, as Plasma, Fairies, Virizion/Genesect, and even Darkrai now all usually play some form of Special Energy. With Muscle Band, it can hit for the almost magical 170 damage number with just three Energy in the discard pile, something to watch out for.
One thing that I’ve learned about Virizion/Genesect since I’ve played it so extensively this season is that the deck is low maintenance in its setup, and there is also a lot of open space beyond the deck’s basic skeleton that can be used for creative leverage.
With my current build of the deck, I wanted to expand on the idea of Virizion/Genesect + Deck Specific Counters to better suit the meta game I’ve been seeing. You still have the base of Virizion/Genesect in place, which is still super strong against a lot of decks, but you also have hard counters against some of the most popular decks in the format, and these Pokemon actually have great synergy with the deck as a whole.
Pokemon – 17
3 Virizion EX
Trainers – 27
4 Professor Juniper
4 Ultra Ball
2 Skyarrow Bridge
Energy – 16
What I’ve done with this list is combine both the idea of playing Raichu and Drifblim in the deck, giving you counters to Plasma and to Yveltal EX. Raichu is a fringe card that has seen some play to counter Lugia EX and Yveltal EX, as it is a Lightning type. Its Circle Circuit attack costs [C][C] and does 20 damage times the number of benched Pokemon you have in play. So with a full bench, you hit for 100, which turns into 200 against Lightning weak Pokemon. Even if you don’t have a full bench, Muscle Band can help bandaid that letting you get away with just four benched Pokemon.
Now I said these Pokemon have great synergy with the deck, so lets take a look at how they fit into the grand scheme of the deck.
Both Raichu and Drifblim (PLB variant) have free retreat. That means you have a Free Retreat Pokemon to promote after one of your Pokemon gets knocked out, giving you more freedom with where you go on your next turn. More importantly, is that it gives the deck more good starters, making it easier to get Virizion EX active on turn 2 for an Emerald Slash attack. Start Drifloon or Pikachu? Just have to evolve them, and then you can retreat for free.
Raichu’s attack costs [C][C], so I’ve included 4 Double Colorless Energy to best make use of the attack. This works great in the deck, as not only can it be used to power Raichu’s attack, but it gives you a discard option for G-Booster, making it easy for the deck to stream G-Booster attacks.
In matchups that Raichu and Drifblim can be powerful in, your opponent will often avoid promoting those Pokemon Active. With Genesect EX’s Red Signal Ability, you can drag the Pokemon with weakness Active for knockouts with these Pokemon. Raichu gets the KO’s on Lugia and Yveltal, while Drifblim can OHKO Deoxys EX or Mewtwo EX with a Muscle Band.
As the deck doesn’t play Hypnotoxic Laser anymore, in favor of Muscle Band, there isn’t a need for Virbank City Gym, so I’ve changed all my Switching cards to Skyarrow Bridge. It gives you a counter Stadium, and then free Retreat for most Pokemon in your deck. Snorlax isn’t too popular anymore, but if it sees a lot of play in your area still, Escape Rope and Switch are probably superior options.
Lastly, one problem Genesect decks often faced was Safeguard Pokemon, Sigilyph and Suicune. Raichu’s Circle Circuit attack is a great counter to these Pokemon.
While this list is what I find most suitable for the meta games I have encountered, you might want to switch some cards out for your own meta game if you’re seeing something different. The most flexible spots to cut in the deck are probably Mr. Mime, the DRX Drifblim (and a Drifloon in that case), a Muscle Band, and a Double Colorless. That gives you 3-5 spots to mess with for your own meta game.
If Rayboar/Blastoise are popular in your meta game, you may want to consider playing a Palkia EX and a Sigilyph DRX. You can use Palkia’s Strafe attack and go back into Sigilyph, preventing them from attacking with Rayquaza EX. While it doesn’t completely save you from your opponent going to Delphox, it can force your opponent to use resources to take this combo down, and it also allows you to target their non-EX’s and then go to that strategy in the late game. If you go the Palkia route, it may be worth it to invest some space in Deoxys EX to open up OHKO’s on Dragons, as well as to boost Genesect’s Megalo Cannon damage.
A one of-Deoxys EX isn’t a bad choice as well, as it allows Genesect EX to hit for 130 with a Muscle Band with Megalo Cannon, which is one of the magic numbers in the game.
Other techs like Mewtwo EX and Lugia EX that have seen play in the deck in the past are still options as well. Mewtwo is particularly solid, as you already play Double Colorless. I went against including one, as I wanted to utilize Skyarrow Bridge. If you want to include more two retreat Pokemon in your deck, I would recommend going the Switch/Escape Rope route.
I think Virizion/Genesect is still one of the strongest decks in the game, and if I were to play it in an upcoming tournament, this is the route I would go with the deck. I think everything has great synergy in the deck and gives you some hard counters against the two most popular decks.
The Ho-Oh box version also has some potential as well, but I haven’t been able to find much comfort with the playstyle of that version, so I hven’t invested quite as much testing time with such variants as I have done this or the other variants I’ve been testing.