Hello everyone, Conner LaVelle here with my annual article for the Charizard Lounge. Though I must say that I was becoming quite fond of my once-a-year schedule, I am ecstatic to announce my joining on as a monthly contributor to the site. I aim to provide you with in-depth analysis that you can apply to not only individual decks, but your game as a whole. On the note of analysis, I’d like to move onto my topic of discussion today: Gardevoir GX in the Expanded format. Specifically, I’ll be analyzing the list that Jac Carter and I took to top 8 and top 64 finishes, respectively.
Gardevoir is clearly a powerhouse in the Standard format, but its place in Expanded is less defined. Prior to Fort Wayne, it had garnered very little attention, especially in comparison to the powerhouse decks. My approach to deckbuilding has always been to take a wide look at the format before narrowing in on anything specific, and this time, my look took me toward Gardevoir. The top of the Expanded metagame was fairly defined, with clear favorites in Night March, Trevenant, Dark, and Rayquaza. To say that these would be the only decks a player would encounter, however, would be foolhardy, as Expanded has always had a level of diversity not seen in Standard. Keeping this in mind, I had two goals when selecting a deck. The first was that I wanted the deck to have even to favorable matchups against the top 4 decks, if conceivably possible. The second was that I wanted the deck to have a strong core game plan that would hold up in the face of the unexpected; this could not be a deck that strictly countered the top decks and lost to everything else.
I began bouncing around the idea that Gardevoir could be both of these things. Gardevoir GX was undoubtedly strong on its own, having just won the World Championships. This meant that the deck was already tried and true; the core game plan of attaching a bunch of Energy and killing everything would prove effective against the format at large. The techs came in afterward. The deck was already running four Double Colorless Energy, so Seismitoad and Karen could fit without much departure from the skeleton. Diancie had two excellent attacks against Trevenant, and Fairy Garden could be used for mobility and to fight Dimension Valley. Gardevoir and Gallade were both very strong against Dark, though I did have some concerns about the matchup due to Dead End GX. Sudowoodo was a card that turned the Rayquaza matchup from autoloss to quite favorable due to Gardevoir’s massive HP. Though I understood that not all of these cards would fit into the same list, the deck certainly had the ability to tech for whichever matchups were perceived as its weakest among the major decks. After hundreds of games of testing and input from Zack Martin and Zak Krekeler, the list eventually came to this.
Pokemon – 17
Trainers – 29
Energy – 14
Of course, not all the cards that I mentioned made the final cut. The list originally included three Fairy Garden, but they were all cut in order to make room for overall consistency. This meant a hit to the Trevenant matchup, but it remained close to 50/50, trending slightly in favor of Trevenant. Seismitoad came out pretty late in the testing cycle upon the affirmation that Night March could be kept close with just the inclusion of Karen. Wonder Energy was the last notable addition; this served a multitude of purposes. Wonder blocks Dead End GX, making Gardevoir GX unmanageable for Dark and alleviating the deck’s reliance on Gallade. It also made many fringe matchups significantly more manageable–there were lesser played decks that we had minimal testing against.
All said, this was how my tournament went:
Round 1 – Golisopod GX/Garbodor – Win
Round 2 – Waterbox – Tie
Round 3 – Golisopod GX/Zoroark – Win
Round 4 – Archie’s Blastoise – Loss
Round 5 – Turbo Darkrai – Win
Round 6 – Turbo Darkrai – Win
Round 7 – Waterbox – Win
Round 8 – Mega Rayquaza EX – Win
Round 9 – Turbo Darkra – Loss
My sincerest apologies to anyone whom I may have incorrectly listed; rounds 5-7 are a bit of a blur.
I discovered several things over the course of the tournament. Golisopod GX was a deck that I had not tested against whatsoever headed into the event. It turned out that it was near 50/50 with different variants changing the numbers some, seeing Zach Zamora’s style of build with heavy Tapu Koko promo as the least favorable and builds with Zoroark being the most favorable.
Archie’s Blastoise is a near autoloss matchup if they draw well. The ability to take two prizes on 60 HP basics with Articuno followed by oneshotting Gardevoir GX with Wishiwashi GX is a tall mountain for Gardevoir to climb.
My tie round 2 was due to my failure to concede in a reasonable amount of time, resulting in letting a promising game 3 fall to a tie. Round 9 was a mess. Game 1 I started Tapu Lele GX and immediately ate a Ghetsis, removing an Ultra Ball out of my hand, forcing an N that grabbed me only one Ralts. By the time I had any semblance of a setup, I was down four prizes. I needed a strong series of draws to turn the game, but they didn’t come. I prized Gallade in game 2 and then hit an absurdly improbable series of draws off a late game N, preventing me from sealing the game. This left me with a 6-2-1 record and a Top 64 finish. While Round 9 left me more than a tad bitter, my tie in Round 2 was to wholly preventable circumstances, so blame for the missed day two falls to me.
Jac Carter, on the other hand, was busy having a phenomenal run that culminated in a loss to Michael Pramawat’s Night March in Top 8. Seeing him do so well with the deck was fantastic, not to mention an affirmation of the deck’s potential. Seeing his success, it’s fairly likely that Gardevoir GX will show up in greater numbers come the Regional Championship in Daytona Beach.
As with all decks, cards have come in and out and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Here, I’d like to explain reasoning behind the inclusion and exclusion of several cards, taking time to highlight how various changes will affect your matchups. I will do my best to be comprehensive, but there will inevitably be cards that I miss. Additionally, if I don’t mention a card that’s already in the deck, it’s because I wouldn’t consider changing the count. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or message me on Facebook, and I’ll do my best to answer.
Gallade: Gallade is a knight in shining armor for the deck, bringing three benefits that the deck doesn’t have without it: a one-prize attacker, a way to ensure strong draws into the late game, and an immediate answer to Darkrai. Some decks also have a hard time dealing 150 damage to a non-EX; this is specifically important with Golisopod after they have used their GX attack. Other decks can one shot Gallade but do not want to expend the resources to do so. This is true for a deck like Primal Groudon, where they either must burn a stadium or heavily commit Strong Energy onto a single attacker. Though some people have dropped Gallade from lists in Standard, I highly advise against doing so in Expanded.
Octillery: Synergizing with Gallade, Octillery offers the deck reliable, continuous draw throughout the game. Though its benefits can be tempting, especially after losing to a late-game N, I found Octillery to be too slow to get much use out of in Expanded. Since the format is faster, you are often under a great deal of pressure to push out attackers as quickly as possible. This means every single one of your search cards is finding either a Gardevoir piece or a Tapu Lele GX to keep up with the pace of the game. Your Brigette needs to find either three Ralts or two Ralts and a Vulpix on the first turn. Trying to incorporate Remoraid often leaves you exposed to Guzma in early turns. To add to this, games frequently end in five turns in Expanded, leaving little room to get use out of Octillery, even when you do manage to establish it.
Ribombee: While some people are partial to Ribombee in Standard, in Expanded it has the same issues as Octillery without the N recovery. You’re better off running two more basic Fairy Energy than including Ribombee.
Diancie: Diancie is your best answer to Trevenant. It both allows you to set up under item lock with Sparkling Wish and heal off Silent Fear damage for as long as the Trevenant player will allow you. In a larger sense, Diancie increases the consistency of your deck by giving you an additional starter that will establish your board. That said, I prefer Alolan Vulpix in every matchup outside of Trevenant. Diancie’s biggest problem is that you have to attach Energy to it for it to be useful, making it significantly less effective if you do not start with it. A matchup like Trevenant gives you an extra turn to get Diancie going compared to Dark or Night March, keeping it relevant even outside of a Diancie start. Alolan Vulpix also has a major advantage in its ability to search for Tapu Lele, allowing you to Brigette on your first turn without a second supporter out. If you do not expect to see Trevenant, I would drop Diancie in favor of other cards.
Alolan Vulpix: Alolan Vulpix is a boon to a substantial number of decks, and Gardevoir is no exception. The ability to Brigette for three basics and immediately search for their evolutions or a follow-up Supporter is strong enough to keep Vulpix relevant in Expanded. Alolan Vulpix is also the sole reason why I dislike Tropical Beach in this deck. Beacon gets you what you need much more reliably, and it will guarantee that you draw out of a bad hand whereas Tropical Beach will not. I consider at least one Alolan Vulpix mandatory, with two being an option if you drop Diancie.
Sudowoodo: Sudowoodo is an excellent tech card. It has a profound effect on any matchup involving Sky Field for very little investment. With Turbo Darkrai, Volcanion EX, and M Rayquaza EX all making heavy use of Sky Field, Sudowoodo pulls every bit of weight that could be expected of it. I would consider dropping Sudowoodo if Turbo Darkrai builds moved away from Sky Field or M Rayquaza EX completely fell out of the metagame, but neither of those were the case at Fort Wayne. Looking ahead to Daytona Beach, Sudowoodo is a worthwhile drop to test due to Rayquaza’s lackluster performance at Fort Wayne, but its utility against the other two mentioned decks is not to be understated.
Comfey: Comfey has been in and out of this deck more than any other card. On the surface, its effect seems very strong. Hypnotoxic Laser is a card seeing moderate amounts of play, and fringe cards like Espeon GX and Accelgor DEX can inflict conditions that actively affect the outcome of the game. As we played more games with Comfey, though, it became painfully obvious that it was worthless in most matchups. Comfey was also vulnerable to Hex Maniac, a card that finds its way into nearly every list in Expanded. Wonder Energy was our effort to shift to a more universally useful card, and it filled the role excellently. If Hypnotoxic Laser or Special Energy removal become popular, Comfey provides an excellent answer. Until then, Wonder Energy will be doing the job.
Gardevoir AOR: This is a card that I never tested, but it has theoretical value against Trevenant. You have plenty of search under Item lock, so setting Gardevoir AOR up shouldn’t be an issue. The attack is also very situationally useful, but I’m having a hard time visualizing any situation where you’d want three Energy on this instead of a Gardevoir GX. I’m not looking to include Gardevoir AOR in the deck now, but it’s something to keep in consideration for the future.
3rd Kirlia: I list this near Gardevoir AOR because I see it being included for the same reason: a Trevenant heavy metagame. If you expect a great deal of Trevenant to be played, Kirlia number three is an excellent addition to ensure that you develop your Gardevoir lines. Other than that, a third Kirlia is unnecessary.
Seismitoad EX: Seismitoad EX is largely used in tandem with Karen to solidify the Night March matchup. I had the card in the deck until the Thursday before Fort Wayne, and there’s a very high chance that it’ll find its way back in at least once before Daytona Beach. Outside of Night March, Seismitoad EX can be used to buy you time in situations where you’d be unable to find it otherwise, and it has a particularly strong effect on variants of Volcanion that do not focus primarily on Turtonator. Also worth mentioning is that Seismitoad particularly enjoys Choice Band, and your ability to make use of it against the field at large will noticeably improve if you include both.
Shaymin EX: Shaymin EX is a card that I never want until I hit a game where I desperately need it. Overall, Tapu Lele’s ability to search for Brigette makes it much more useful in this deck, but Shaymin’s ability to synergize with Gallade and close out games is tantalizing. I have very little testing with Shaymin in the deck at the moment, but it will definitely be getting its due time in the coming weeks.
Colress: Colress seems like an obvious inclusion, but it hasn’t always been in the deck. It has inherent counter synergy with Sudowoodo, and I often find it outright worse than Sycamore. I like the diversity it brings to your draw lineup though, giving you the ability to draw a moderate to large hand without discarding resources. If space gets tight, Colress might go, and you shouldn’t feel bad about dropping it for a 2nd Guzma, Lysandre, or critical tech.
Acerola: Acerola is a little bit of a love-hate card for me. Because it doesn’t develop your board, you need an already solid hand or setup to justify playing it, and even then, it can be worse than a draw Supporter or Guzma. The card is an absolute must-have against Golisopod GX, though, allowing you to combat their war of attrition with your own. In addition, it greatly contributes toward your ability to develop a clean six Energy Gardevoir GX, as you can Acerola a damaged 3-Energy one and offload the Energy onto another that already has three Energy. Aside from the Golisopod matchup, I feel that you need at least one healing effect between Max Potion and Acerola, and Acerola’s ability to recover Energy and be re-used with VS Seeker trumps out Max Potion most of the time.
Karen: Karen is in the deck for the sole purpose of improving your Night March matchup. For best results, use it with Seismitoad EX, but Night March is beatable with just Karen due to Gardevoir’s 230 HP. If you do not expect to see Night March, Karen is a very easy cut.
2nd Brigette: I ordinarily hate two Brigette in decks as your odds of prizing a single copy are so low. Gardevoir, at least in Expanded, is a rare exception to this. Getting an early Brigette is critical to your setup, and prizing it makes any matchup drastically more difficult. This is especially the case since Expanded is so fast. That said, the card does occupy a space that may be better served elsewhere; it doesn’t add any options to the deck. It’s likely that the 2nd Brigette will come out for something else in the future, but the insurance it offers against prizing is a major benefit.
2nd Guzma: I rarely ever need a 2nd Guzma in this deck. Most of the time, you’re content with hitting the active, and in situations outside of that, finding your first copy between three Tapu Lele GX and four VS Seeker is not a challenge. The biggest allure to another Guzma is in the ability to use one and still be able to Wonder Tag for it in the late game. For this reason, a 2nd Guzma is absolutely a valid inclusion, but for now, I’ll be keeping it at one.
Lysandre: Lysandre can be nice in here since you lack the mobility to retreat after Guzma. If I were to add a second Gust effect, Lysandre would be my go-to over another Guzma. It’s worth mentioning that I would not drop Guzma outright for Lysandre as the switching out can be important in a deck with so many two Retreat Pokemon. The odds of me fitting a Lysandre into Gardevoir before Daytona Beach are high, but I can’t speak for the odds of it staying until the tournament.
Hex Maniac: I’ll be upfront: I hate Hex Maniac in here. The card has undeniable utility, but it is almost always worse than another supporter in any given situation. Even against Volcanion and Trevenant, I find myself wanting to use Guzma, Teammates, or draw cards far more than Hex. Your board has to be so well-established for it to benefit you that you’d be unlikely to lose regardless. The exceptions to this are if the mirror or Alolan Ninetales become popular, in which case Hex would be a vital inclusion.
Skyla: Last on my list of Supporter options is Skyla. Skyla can help your consistency and allow for easier access to Rare Candy or Ultra Ball, but it is worse than Teammates almost 100 percent of the time. In Expanded, hitting a matchup where you don’t lose a low-HP basic on the first turn is incredibly rare. In the event Expanded slowed down drastically, Skyla would be up for consideration again.
Max Potion: Max Potion fills a similar role to Acerola. While Acerola can be used under Item Lock, be searched with Wonder Tag, and recovered with VS Seeker, Max Potion only has the advantage of being immediately useable after a Teammates. Max Potion has one major matchup advantage: Night March. The ability to heal a Gardevoir and disrupt with Karen or N in the same turn is matchup defining, sometimes winning you the game immediately. For all other cases, however, Acerola is preferred.
Super Rod: I specifically included Super Rod in this list to advise against running it. Rescue Stretcher is all the recovery this deck needs, considering you have a high Energy count baseline and the option to Twilight GX for Energy recovery. While certain matchups in Standard can be long and drawn out, sometimes needing Energy recovery, this is not the case in Expanded.
Field Blower: One Field Blower is plenty in Expanded. If you find yourself with a dire need of a second tool removal option, play Xerosic instead. Games are simply not long enough and tools have comparatively weak impact. If games slow down, Garbodor gains extreme popularity, or more dangerous tools are printed, a 2nd Field Blower would be a reasonable inclusion.
Choice Band: I would generally only advise running Choice Band if you expect to see a significant amount of mirror. Running extra Basic Fairy is going to have a more universally beneficial outcome. The mirror match is different because you want to force your opponent to commit more Energy for KOs. This both makes their game harder and yours easier since they not only have to commit the Energy, but they have to burn resources, too.
Fairy Garden: Fairy Garden is my favorite Stadium in Gardevoir as well as an excellent way to disrupt Trevenant’s game plan. It gives the deck mobility that it otherwise doesn’t have, and it also gives it a reliable counter Stadium. However, it didn’t make the final cut. Gardevoir has highly limited space for techs, and we ultimately decided that Karen, Sudowoodo, and additional consistency would be more effective. If you wanted to play a Stadium, Fairy Garden is a respectable option, but I would only recommend it in a Trevenant heavy metagame.
Tropical Beach: Tropical Beach is a card that I’ve seen bounced back and forth, but I don’t seem to get the amount of use out of it that I want. In nearly every game, I would much rather Beacon than Beach on the first turn. Also important to note is that Beach is not nearly as reliable as Vulpix without Skyla, and playing Skyla on the first turn means you’re not playing Brigette. There may be a build of Gardevoir out there that looks drastically different from mine and contains Beach, but I haven’t found it.
Wonder Energy: Wonder Energy is a godsend. Not only does it block Silent Fear and Dead End GX, but it also improves many of your fringe matchups drastically. There are only two circumstances in which I would consider dropping Wonder Energy. The first is Turbo Darkrai dropping significantly in popularity and another deck that uses effects of attacks not replacing it. The second situation is an increase in Enhanced Hammer and Xerosic across the meta. Wonder Energy is useless if every deck is going to be removing it, so Special Energy hate would definitely be a valid reason to cut it. If you decide to drop Wonder Energy, I would heavily recommend adding a 9th basic Fairy to keep up the Energy count.
Covering every matchup in Expanded is nearly impossible. Instead of attempting to assess every single matchup you could conceivably encounter, I’ll go into the ones that you’ll be most likely to see in the current metagame. I’ll offer ways to alter the deck to improve each matchup so that you can tailor your list to your expected metagame, listed in order of effectiveness.
Include: Karen, Seismitoad EX, Max Potion, Choice Band
Exclude: Diancie, Stadiums, Acerola
Night March is an unwinnable matchup if not teched for. Their ability to OHKO your attackers with great haste will run the deck over. However, there are many routes you can take to dealing with Night March.
Your core game plan is always going to be to develop a Gardevoir GX, force them to knock it out, and Karen or N when they’ve gone through a significant amount of resources. You’re going to aim to use all three Gardevoir GX in this matchup simply because it’s the most difficult Pokemon in your deck for them to knock out.
In order, Karen is the obvious inclusion for this matchup. Without it, your ability to win is next to zero. Seismitoad EX will have the next greatest impact, having the ability to shut Night March out of the game in tandem with Karen. Important to note is that your goal is not necessarily to lead with Seismitoad, but to hold it until after your first Karen goes through. I mentioned Max Potion’s effect in this matchup earlier, but, to reiterate, the ability to heal a Gardevoir GX or Seismitoad EX while playing another supporter can be game changing. This means you can disrupt your opponent or develop your board while avoiding the threat of an impending KO. Choice Band is the last inclusion because it enables Gallade to OHKO a Marshadow GX, improving your prize trade.
Diancie, Stadiums, and Acerola are either too low impact, too slow, or worse than a different option.
Include: Gallade, Wonder Energy, Sudowoodo
Exclude: Karen, Stadiums
Your core game plan revolves around Gallade. Gallade will oneshot any of their primary attackers regardless of whether they have a Fighting Fury Belt attached. Teammates and Rescue Stretcher allow you to chain Gallades if they are able to knock it out, and, if they aren’t, their game essentially ends. Gardevoir GX with a Wonder Energy is also a bear for them to deal with, and it is my go-to option if they fail to pressure you on the first turn. It is a much more stable investment than Gallade, weakening the Dark player’s N’s later on.
Outside of Gallade and Wonder Energy, Sudowoodo can slow down the Darkrai player’s setup as it makes Hoopa EX much less appealing. Limiting their bench from eight to four also makes it much more difficult for the Darkrai player to make full use of Darkrai GX.
Karen and Stadiums, on the other hand, have next to zero impact on the Dark matchup.
Include: Diancie, Fairy Garden, 3rd Kirlia, 2nd Guzma, Acerola, Hex Maniac, Gardevoir AOR
Exclude: Max Potion, Choice Band, Karen, Sudowoodo
Trevenant can be a difficult matchup. Depending on your list, you can have anywhere from a 30/70 matchup to a 70/30. Of all top decks, Trevenant is the most space-intensive to counter, so you must determine how common you think the deck will be first and foremost when deciding on techs.
The core game plan involves establishing Diancie to set your board up and stave off early damage. Eventually, they’ll throw two Tree Slams into Diance, but you’re very likely have at least one Gardevoir GX by this point. Always be careful to find a balance between overcommitting GX’s into Necrozma’s Black Ray and keeping your Kirlias alive by evolving them. It can be easy to walk into a Black Ray GX for six prizes.
Much like Gallade against Darkrai, your Trevenant matchup gets much worse without Diancie. As previously discussed, it provides multiple benefits not offered by other cards. Fairy Garden in a three or four count commonly forces Trevenant to attach extra Energy and give you easier knockouts. In rare occasions, it can make them miss attacks or run out of resources. Kirlia, second Guzma, and Hex Maniac allow you to set up through Trevenant more easily, while Acerola and Gardevoir AOR heal substantial amounts of damage.
The Exclude section is composed of cards that are either useless, or in Sudowoodo’s case, actively detrimental to the matchup. Sudowoodo’s two retreat cost makes it a major liability, requiring a DCE, Acerola, or Guzma to get it out of the active.
M Rayquaza EX
Include: Sudowoodo, Acerola, Max Potion
Rayquaza is even more black and white than Night March; you either lose to it badly or beat it badly.
The game plan is to continuously attack with Gardevoir GX while using Sudowoodo for protection. If they Guzma or Lysandre Sudowoodo, prioritize its recovery over all else. Don’t be afraid to Twilight GX your Rescue Stretcher if you’re down to one and can’t take a KO. Acerola and Max Potion can help when Ray is forced to settle for a twoshot, but they are largely unneeded.
As long as your deck isn’t an inconsistent mess, your techs outside of Sudowoodo won’t have any real negative impact here.
Include: Acerola, Gallade, Max Potion, Choice Band, Diancie
Exclude: Seismitoad EX, Karen
The core game plan is to establish two Gardevoir GX simultaneously, each with three Energy. When one takes damage, your goal is to Acerola the Energy and Gardevoir line back to your hand. From there, you dump all three Energy onto the second Gardevoir to get it up to six, redeveloping the Acerola’d Gardevoir as quickly as possible. This commonly allows you to take four prizes with one GX, all the while turning your benched GX into a follow-up threat. If they apply fast pressure to your Gardevoir pieces, don’t be afraid to play the slow game with a second Diancie/Vulpix to hide behind. You can afford to go down three prizes in this matchup and still win. Once your opponent has used their GX attack, you can safely develop and attack with Gallade against their lower damage cap.
Against the Zoroark variant, you’ll ideally limit your bench to two or three, but having to bench past that isn’t game losing by any means. Foul Play Zoroark, while uncommon, grabs a OHKO on a six Energy Gardevoir when Choice Banded, making it a high priority KO. Gallade will comfortably take you two prizes in this matchup. Most of the time, you can take two prizes on Zoroarks, alleviating pressure to KO three Golisopod GX.
Against the Garbodor variant, you’re going to use Twilight GX to severely limit the power of their Garbodor GRI. After this, you can transition to Gallade for a few turns while they struggle to deal with it. A Crossing Cut GX commitment into your Gallade makes a Guzma KO with Infinite Force much more manageable, so you’re fine if they take that line of play. Garbotoxin can be a pain, but it is an easy Gallade KO and can be dealt with once by Field Blower. If you manage to get an undamaged Gardevoir up to six Energy on that turn, you can usually take the game from there.
Golisopod/Seismitoad is going to struggle against you. You have plenty of search options under Item lock, and a two Energy Seismitoad EX makes for two very easy prizes. You neither have to worry about limiting your bench or item usage, taking a significant amount of pressure off of you. This is by far your easiest Golisopod matchup.
Zach Zamora’s heavy Tapu Koko version is where the matchup gets dicey. You can take two KO’s on Koko Promos early on, but it softens up your Gallade to an easy KO. If they use Flying Flip three times, Gardevoir GX is within range of a Choice Banded Crossing Cut GX, making commitment risky at best. Acerola and Max Potion are useful here, but your opponent’s ability to drop your attackers to comfortable KO range still makes this your worst Golisopod matchup.
Choice Band makes KO’s on Golisopod easier and requires you to commit less to a single Gardevoir GX. Diancie is only tremendously useful against the Tapu Koko version, allowing you to heal some of the chip damage that they inflict early on.
Meanwhile, on the Exclude side, Karen will be worthless for you while Seismitoad EX feeds two easy prizes.
Include: Gallade, Field Blower, Choice Band, Acerola
Exclude: Karen, Sudowoodo, Max Potion
Twilight GX is your friend in this matchup. Not only will it allow you to recover key resources as it does in other matchups, but you can also use it to reduce up to 200 damage from Trashalanche. Don’t be afraid to use it early, especially if you’re missing a KO otherwise or not under a serious amount of pressure. Immediately off of your Twilight GX, Gallade can be a major problem for some variants. By the time they manage to deal with it, Gallade will have often taken two prizes.
If your opponent is taking advantage of Tool Drop Trubbish, the matchup becomes somewhat closer, though it remains favorable. In this case, their attacker is an effortless knockout for you, and you don’t run any tools to fuel it. Acerola asserts itself here by making knockouts on your Gardevoirs next to impossible. Espeon GX variants will struggle to deal with Wonder Energy, and Necrozma GX based variants will struggle if you stagger your GX’s to only have one on board at a time.
As always, be sure to avoid feeding Trashalanche when possible.
Field Blower and Choice band are both strong against Garbotoxin, though each for a different reason. Field Blower gives your Abilities back for a turn whereas Choice Band facilitates easier GX knockouts when you can’t accelerate. Acerola is your preferred method of recovery to Max Potion because it avoids boosting Trashalanche’s damage output.
Karen can have the consequence of recovering key Garbodor pieces, so, while it’s weak in many matchups, it can be an active detriment here. Sudowoodo is both shut off by Garbotoxin and unhelpful against a deck that doesn’t need a large bench. Max Potion, as previously mentioned, takes a backseat to Acerola.
Turtonator GX/Volcanion EX
Include: Hex Maniac, Sudowoodo, Seismitoad EX, Wonder Energy, Choice Band
Exclude: Karen, Diancie, Max Potion
Volcanion has persistently refused to die since its release. Turtonator GX and Ho-OH GX bring new life to the deck in the form of attack variety and damage. This matchup varies somewhat depending on many Turtonator GX your opponent is bringing to the table. Turtonator GX centric variants are worse for you than all others.
The biggest way you can help yourself win the Volcanion matchup is to get Sudowoodo with your opening Brigette. Limiting their bench forces them to decide between damage and draw, often meaning they will set up much more slowly. This is the reason Turtonator GX is threatening; it can knock out Gardevoir GX with only a tool and two Steam Ups. Regardless of variant, this matchup plays out fairly linearly in that you just aim to KO their attackers with a big Gardevoir GX. Against Turtonator GX, this line of play is incredibly risky without a Hex Maniac due to their ease of knocking out your attacker. While you can elect to take a more nuanced approach against the Turtonator version, you will ultimately live or die by whether you play Hex Maniac.
Seismitoad EX is strong here both because it swings for weakness and because Volcanion is Item reliant. It is especially powerful in combination with Choice Band, setting up knockouts and slowing down your opponent simultaneously. Wonder Energy seems strange in the Include section, but it’s there for protection from Shell Trap’s return damage. Choice Band makes your life easier by allowing you to commit Energy to benched Gardevoir GX’s while you KO the active.
Karen once again finds its way onto the Exclude list by being essentially worthless. Diancie is much too slow against Volcanion when compared to Alolan Vulpix. Max Potion is here for two reasons. The first is that you rarely take damage that is both significant and not a OHKO, and the second is that you desperately want to preserve your Energy against Turtonator GX and Bright Flame’s Energy discard.
Note on Deckbuilding
Growing toxicity in the newer player community has motivated me to take a brief aside to discuss deckbuilding, making some distinctions between Standard and Expanded. I frequently see players, especially newer ones, attempt to build a deck with the exclusive goal of countering the best decks in the metagame. While there have been instances of this succeeding in the past, it can be a misguided venture. In a constrained metagame dominated by a few decks, this can succeed because your odds of hitting seven of the top decks in a nine-round tournament (and three to four more in day two) is fairly high. Grant Manley’s 2nd place Wobbuffet/Jolteon EX/Glaceon EX/Araquanid from Roanoke regionals is an excellent example of a well-executed “counter deck” in a narrow metagame. Grant’s deck would have had a terrible time against a deck that it was not expressly built to beat, but those decks were few enough that he went largely uncontested until the finals.
In a metagame that is diverse, like Expanded, it is critical for your deck to have a strategy that can win a game on its own. A deck that I was floating while still in the deckbuilding process for Fort Wayne was M Manectric EX/Seismitoad EX/Marshadow GX. This deck held favorable matchups against the top decks, but I ultimately dropped it because 110 damage and 30 healing every turn was not good enough on its own. Lo and behold, Garbodor, Volcanion EX and Golisopod GX decks emerged as popular choices; my “counter deck” would have had miserable matchups against all of them. This is an example of a situation in which a deck built strictly to beat the metagame would not have been viable.
The takeaway for newer players is that, sometimes, succeeding with a counter deck is not possible. People who build decks exclusively to counter others sometimes fail to find success, and it does not make you a better or worse player to play a well-established deck over a rogue. The elitist attitudes than can often pop up among less experienced players that suggest playing top decks makes you worse impairs the growth of the game. Not everyone needs to be a rogue master like Ross Cawthon; Jason Klaczynski won worlds three times with decks that had already been seen and heavily discussed.
The takeaway for more experienced players is that sometimes a deck or tech can move past matchup conscious to the point of being worse than something more conventional. Making that distinction is difficult, and sometimes even the best players take questionable lists into events to poor finishes. The best way to avoid this is to maintain a critical eye for your own work. Even after a concept or tech has proven to be effective, it’s important to continuously re-examine your list throughout its testing cycle. Is the deck setting up as well as before? How does your teched build play into an even matchup compared to a standard build? There were definitely points in Gardevoir’s life cycle where we included too many things to cover for questionable matchups, worsening the consistency by a retrospectively noticeable margin. Sometimes you have to rein it in, and it can be easy to lose sight of when.
Gardevoir in Daytona and Conclusion
Gardevoir GX retains much of its momentum going into Daytona. The format isn’t changing dramatically, and the new decks that have come out of Ft. Wayne present manageable matchups. Seismitoad EX and Hex Maniac may find spots again with the success of Night March and Turtonator GX, while Diancie will be first on the chopping block due to Trevenant’s weak showing. Otherwise, I expect the deck to stay largely the same.
I’d like to thank everyone for reading this article! I hope you can all take something away to better your game, and I look forward to writing for you again soon!