I haven’t had a ton of time to write as of late because of a heavy work schedule, so for this article I’m going to be combining a few things all into one article. In this article I am going to go over the three decks that I’ve been working on for the past few weeks and those decks are Gourgeist, Decidueye GX/Zoroark GX, and Volcanion.
Gourgeist is definitely a very fringe deck, but the other two decks are two of the decks you will want to test or at the very least test against in preparation for the Memphis Regional Championship.
Pumpkin Bombing with Gourgeist
When Crimson Invasion first came out, one of the first decks that I knew I wanted to build was going to be Gourgeist. Having played similar gimmick concepts in the past, such as Night March and Vespiquen, I knew that it would definitely be worth the time to investigate the deck as these powerful OHKO decks have the potential to be something very special.
Myself and Andrew Mahone of Derium’s Competitive Pokemon fame collaborated on a list for the deck and I think we got it to a pretty good place. We had some disagreements on the final few cards to go in the list, but we were 58 cards in agreement (now 54 since I swapped out 4 of the Tool cards for one I think may be better now), and you can check out his list in the video he made on his channel, and mine you will find right below.
For those not yet familiar with Gourgeist as a card, it is a Stage 1 Pokemon and it has the Pumpkin Bomb attack, which does 10 damage + 40 more damage for each Pokemon Tool card that you discard from your Pokemon. This means that with a full field of six Pokemon, Gourgeist is able to hit for 250 damage, allowing it to OHKO any Pokemon in the game except for the few bulky Pokemon with Psychic resistance, such as Metagross GX and Solgaleo GX. Being able to OHKO almost everything in the game certainly gives Gourgeist a very high power level.
Here is my list for the deck:
Pokemon – 18
Trainers – 38
Energy – 4
The biggest thing with this deck is that you need to see lots of cards every turn as you have a lot of resources that you need to hit to keep your attacks flowing. You need Tool Cards to attach to your Pokemon (potentially six in total depending on the HP of the Pokemon you need to knockout), you need to make sure you evolved into a Gourgeist to attack with (and at least have another Pumpkaboo in play for the next turn), and then of course the Double Colorless Energy to attack. Needing so much to keep going, you need some extra draw beyond your Supporter card for turn, so for that, we play Octillery so you can use the Abyssal Hand Ability to draw lots of cards throughout the game.
I know some people think that Zoroark GX should be the additional draw Pokemon, and as much as I would love to have Zoroark GX in the deck as a backup attacker, I don’t think its Ability lets you see enough cards to make the Gourgeist portion of the deck work effectively, and those discards on Trade can be very detrimental to the deck. I could see an argument for doing 1-1 Zoroark GX alongside a 2-2 Octillery line, but I really like the consistency that 3-3 Octillery brings to the deck, and having a draw Pokemon with Fighting weakness weakens the Gardevoir matchup whenever you’re forced to put it into play, so I’m not sure I’m at the point where that’s a move I want to make with the deck yet. Having Zoroark GX in conjunction with Octillery would help the issue of discarding valuable resources with Trade as you would be able to be a bit more selective with when you Trade compared to a list that played solely Zoroark GX for draw.
As far as Pokemon Tool cards go, you have 16 real Tool cards, and then 3 Klefki, which can use their Wonder Lock Ability to become a Tool card. Klefki is played in this deck in the Standard format because it is a Pokemon, which means it’s the one Tool card that you can recover with an Item card and re-use throughout the game. The deck plays four Rescue Stretcher, which lets you re-use Klefki throughout the game, as well as to get back Pokemon like Octillery or Gourgeist that you may need to put back into the deck to keep things going.
Outside of that, there are 16 Tool cards, and for the most part, which Tool cards you play in the deck aren’t actually all that important as they mostly just serve as discard fodder for Pumpkin Bomb. The only important Tool to include in the deck above all else is Float Stone as it is the card you use for mobility to get into your Gourgeist to attack with.
The other three Tool cards that I’ve chosen to play in here are Assault Vest, Choice Band, and Dashing Pouch. None of these are too great and mostly just get attached and discarded, but I believe these are the three other Tool cards that have the potential to be found useful.
I originally had Bodybuilding Dumbbells, as it could theoretically save you from a knockout, but I ended up cutting it for Assault Vest as having a Bodybuilding Dumbbells discarded with Field Blower leading to a knockout could leave you in a very compromising position if your opponent then knocks out another Gourgeist line on your field. Assault Vest is a bit of a safer play, as if you have a turn where you have it attached to your Active and it doesn’t get knocked out, you don’t have to worry about the Pokemon being knocked out later from a Field Blower.
Choice Band isn’t super useful, but there are times where you can take a knockout with Choice Band damage, leaving it attached for the next turn to be discarded then. This doesn’t come up too often, and would only be something that is particularly useful if you know that your opponent won’t be able to knock you out or on the wishful thought that your opponent won’t be able to knock you out. For example, against Gardevoir GX, you could discard 6 Pokemon Tool cards and do 250 damage for the knockout, or you can keep Choice Band attached and do 240 damage for the knockout. If your opponent doesn’t knockout the Gourgeist or remove the Pokemon Tool, that Choice Band would still be there for the next turn to be discarded.
It’s important to note that if you discard the Choice Band, you don’t get the +30 damage. This really makes Choice Band limited in how much use you get out of its effect. The other place where Choice Band is effective are on any turns where you choose to attack with Tapu Lele GX into EX or GX Pokemon.
The last Tool card is Dashing Pouch, which you can use to conserve Double Colorless Energy. This isn’t an every game occurrence, but every now and then situations develop in which you can conserve a DCE with Dashing Pouch.
The last big card to highlight in this list is the three Brooklet Hill. The primary purpose of this card is to act as your Parallel City counter. Field Blower was in the original list, but we were able to cut it for a Stadium based counter to Parallel City after Garbodor hit the wayside. Brooklet Hill is superior to Field Blower as we don’t care too much about whatever Tool cards our opponent has in play, and playing Brooklet Hill allowed us to use the Stadium effectively in other matchups as well as in the early game against Gardevoir GX to get Remoraid onto our bench. This gives the deck a much more stable setup.
On the note of Parallel City, make sure to play Remoraid BKT 32 for your Remoraid card. It has the Ion Pool attack, which discards a Stadium card, which gives you another out to Parallel City beyond just your counter Stadium.
It’s of the utmost importance to remove Parallel City form play against Gardevoir GX. If you don’t, you max out at 170 damage against Gardevoir GX, which doesn’t knock out a Gardevoir GX. Sometimes you can Guzma a Tapu Lele GX and do 170 to knock that out when you are hit with Parallel, but most of the time you just want to replace the Parallel City with Brooklet Hill and knock out the Gardevoir GX.
Final Thoughts on Gourgeist
As cool and powerful of a deck as Gourgeist is, I’m not sure about its tournament viability. It is certainly a super powerful deck, but it is also one of the least consistent decks that I’ve played. The two least consistent parts about the deck are the Klefki portion of the deck and your Double Colorless Energy attachments.
Klefki is needed in the deck as you don’t really have enough Tool cards to finish out a game otherwise. However, Klefki causes a natural conflict within the deck, as you need a full bench to hit knockout numbers in some matchups (such as Gardevoir GX or Zoroark GX where you need a full bench and six Tools for a knockout). If you have a full bench, you can’t play Klefki down to your bench, so you have to try to play around that factor.
In matchups where you don’t need six Tools discarded for a knockout, this isn’t much of an issue.
The other issue is just drawing the Double Colorless Energy for turn. In matchups with low Field Blower counts, it’s usually not a huge deal to whiff a turn of attacking, but against something like Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX and their four Field Blower and four Puzzle of Time, any whiffed attacks usually end up with all of your other Tool cards being removed (and Klefki will naturally remove itself), which can cause you to lose from running out of Tool cards.
Sometimes you don’t get the knockout because you don’t draw all the Tool cards you need, but from the games I’ve played, these situations are more rare, and just getting everything else and then whiffing the DCE is much more common.
For now, I don’t think the deck is more than a fringe contender. The deck gains some more options when the next set releases in the form of some Rotom cards that have Abilities that let you ignore their attack cost when you have 9 Pokemon Tools in your discard pile, and with this deck it doesn’t take long to get 9 in there, so these Rotom could be useful for giving your some extra one prize attackers to fill in the gaps.
Decidueye/Zoroark – An Emerging Favorite
One of the emerging favorite decks of the last few weeks has been the Decidueye GX/Zoroark GX deck. It was actually one of the decks that American players heavily played in London, but for whatever reason none of them ended up making Day 2 with the deck, although some European players did, with Stephane Ivanoff finishing the highest at 12th place.
In the weeks since London, the deck has been very successful at the League Cup level. The deck is a very appealing option because it has favorable matchups against what many consider the best two decks coming out of London (Gardevoir GX and Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX), and it tends to have fairly even matchups across the board, with just a few bad ones such as Volcanion EX and Greninja BREAK, although both of those matchups are still winnable.
This deck kind of has a skeleton list that has developed for the deck. Below, I will put out the decklist with the skeleton, and then after that discuss the common options that players are choosing to fill in the skeleton.
Decidueye GX/Zoroark GX Skeleton List
Pokemon – 19
Trainers – 30
Energy – 6
Free Slots: 5
Here are a few of the common options that players are choosing between in the deck to fill in these last five card slots. In each discussion, I will give my card choice for that slot.
Card #1 – 3rd Grass Energy versus Special Charge
Some lists have players playing a third Grass Energy, while other lists have players using Special Charge. The extra Grass Energy increases the number of outs you have for attacking with Decidueye GX, either to use its Hollow Hunt GX attack, or to attack with Razor Leaf.
Attacking with Decidueye GX isn’t the most important thing for the deck to do, and in most matches you will only ever get one setup at most, so two Grass Energy usually suffices.
Special Charge gives you more Double Colorless to use throughout the course of the game, which is better for all of your Pokemon that aren’t Decidueye GX. Special Charge also increases the total amount of Energy you can access in a game from 8 total from 7 with the third Grass Energy (ignoring any Hollow Hunts), which means you can use Special Charge to increase your probability of finding an Energy in the late game.
With Max Potion now becoming a staple in the deck, Special Charge is a natural inclusion as it lets you Max Potion to heal your Zoroark GX or other attacker, and then use Special Charge to get that Energy back into the deck.
My Choice: Special Charge
Card #2 – Mewtwo EVO versus Zoroark BKT
The second card choice that has players split is what the final attacker they should include into their deck should be. Both of these are solid general utility attackers, but each can provide a little something extra depending on the matchup you’re playing.
Mewtwo EVO was the standard inclusion in this spot headed out of London. Mewtwo EVO gave the deck a strong out to dealing with an Espeon GX as well as Buzzwole GX. However, Espeon GX is basically non-played since London, and Buzzwole GX isn’t super popular, so some players have looked to try to get more impact out of that deck slot.
The primary option that players have turned to is Zoroark BKT, which can be helpful at improving the Volcanion matchup, as Volcanion often plays with a large bench. I think Zoroark tends to be a more powerful attacker in almost every other matchup that isn’t against Psychic weak Pokemon. The only downside to Zoroark is that it’s an evolution, so you can’t just slap it into play like you can Mewtwo, but you have that extra 3rd Zorua to evolve off of, so it’s not too much of an issue getting it into play.
With Volcanion likely being more popular than Buzzwole for Memphis, Zoroark is probably the right call for now, but if Buzzwole sees an uptick in popularity, then Mewtwo would be the best option.
My Choice: Zoroark generally, Mewtwo in Buzzwole heavy metas.
Card #3 – 3rd Evosoda versus 2nd Rescue Stretcher
The next card choice is one of searching your deck for resources versus searching your discard pile for resources. The 3rd Evosoda gives you extra early game consistency, which can help you develop your field some. Rescue Stretcher on the other hand, lets you get discarded resources back from your discard pile.
I like Rescue Stretcher a lot more than the 3rd Evosoda. When I played a League Cup with 2 Evosoda/2 Rescue Stretcher, I never felt that I had trouble setting up my deck, and the 2nd Rescue Stretcher was certainly helpful for getting back cards that had to be discarded earlier in the game.
My Choice: 2nd Rescue Stretcher
Cards #4-5 – Mallow versus 3rd Brigette versus 3rd Dartrix versus 3rd Choice Band versus
The last two card slots tend to come down to these four options. All of these card choices are aimed at strengthening the consistency of some area of the deck, and all of them definitely give you advantages.
I really like Mallow in the deck. As you need Zoroark GX on the field to use it well, it’s not something you can afford to play in a high count of in a deck like this, but the card can be super powerful, so I think it’s worth running. What Mallow can allow you is the capability to pull off some ridiculous combos, in particular with getting your Decidueye GX out onto the field by giving you a way to search for your Rare Candy. Mallow also is useful for finding Energy and also as a pseudo-Skyla, letting you search out cards like Field Blower, Choice Band, and Max Potion at the moments when they are needed.
A third Brigette would increase the probability of naturally starting it to the point where you naturally start it about 1 in 10 games more. I don’t think that increased probability is strong enough to make a third Brigette worth playing over the other options available for this slot.
A 3rd Choice Band is good, but I don’t think it is needed. I think you can get away with using two and holding them for attachment until you want to use them.
The 3rd Dartrix is very nice to have as it helps you get setup more consistently. The deck functions fine with two, but the 3rd definitely makes the deck setup a lot better.
My Choices: Mallow and 3rd Dartrix
Combatting Gardevoir and Zoroark/Golisopod with Decidueye
These are going to be two of the most common matchups that players will play against in Memphis, so it’s worth discussing these matchups in particular. These could easily account for half of a player’s matches during Day 1.
Versus Gardevoir GX
In the Gardevoir GX matchup, you want to heavily lean on the devolution strategy with Espeon EX’s Miraculous Shine. You tend to want to avoid evolving into Zoroark GX in this matchup in the early game unless it becomes necessary to do so to avoid dead drawing. Zoroark GX is a major liability in the matchup and basically wears a two free prizes for Gallade sign on itself in the matchup. A common mistake that loses players games in this matchup is evolving into multiple Zoroark GX’s when they don’t need to leading to them being wrecked by Gallade.
There are some board states where your opponent developing a Gallade and being able to use Guzma to knockout the Zoroark GX are unlikely, and if you read the board state to be as such, feel free to evolve into the Zoroark GX then.
With Espeon EX, it’s important to recognize that just the effect of its attack can be strong, even if it isn’t taking a knockout. Just devolving a bunch of Gardevoir GX’s that were evolved on Rare Candy really sets back your opponent’s ability to attack you, even if you don’t take knockouts just then. Those Ralts don’t easily re-evolve into Gardevoir GX, as your opponent only has a limited amount of Rare Candy to work with.
However, it is best to devolve in a way that leads to you getting knockouts. I tend to try to spread my Feather Arrow around to different Pokemon to avoid losing the damage to Max Potion, and then try to attack with non-EX attackers like Tapu Koko and Mewtwo EVO/Zoroark BKT. This is one place where the second Rescue Stretcher can be useful for getting back something like Tapu Koko consistently when you want to go for the devolution strategy.
If you don’t have attackers available, just sending up a Decidueye GX with no Energy and then tanking it with Max Potion is useful, and it is often safe to attach a Grass and use Hollow Hunt, to gather more resources (such as getting your Max Potions back), but Gardevoir GX can definitely OHKO a Decidueye GX with 0-1 Energy some of the time, but if that happens, you can usually knock it out with Tapu Lele GX and some Feather Arrows, or Mewtwo EVO and some Feather Arrows.
One thing worth noting is that sometimes its advantageous to take a knockout on the GX instead of devolving if you end up in a situation where you can knock one out. This is because the GX gives up two prizes, while the devolved non-GX would only give you a single prize. Sometimes the effect of devolving has a greater impact overall on your opponent’s field than getting the extra prize at that moment does, so you really need to read your opponent’s field to figure out which is better.
Versus Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX
For some reason this matchup ended up getting a reputation as being bad for Decidueye, but I don’t think this is the case at all, and in fact, I’ve found it very difficult to lose this matchup from the Decidueye side.
In the past, I’ve heard the devolution strategy being mentioned as how this matchup should be approached, but I think that’s entirely the wrong approach to take to that matchup, and that may be why some people think this is an unfavorable matchup.
The key to this matchup is to develop a field with three Decidueye GX on it. What this does is allow you to do 210 damage in a turn with 60 Feather Arrow damage, and then 150 off of a Choice Banded Riotous Beating with Zoroark GX for a total of 210 damage, which is good to knock out Golisopod GX and Zoroark GX.
You can get by with only two Decidueye GX, but the third one definitely makes it a slam dunk win.
The key if you’re only going to be able to get two out is to spread your Feather Arrow across your opponent’s bench, and also try to get off a spread with Tapu Koko’s Flying Flip if they don’t have Mr. Mime in play. If Tapu Koko isn’t an option, swing with one of your other non-EX’s such as Mewtwo EVO/Zoroark BKT while you try to get your field fully setup. You can also just tank a hit with something like Decidueye GX or Tapu Lele GX and then Max Potion it off (Tapu Lele GX also lets you attack for some nominal damage against the active).
What you’re doing by spreading this damage around is creating a conflict for the Zoroark GX players deck. They can only Acerola one Pokemon at a time, so if the damage is all spread around, anything they go into can be OHKO’d by Riotous Beating.
It’s hard for them to deny you the three Decidueye GX field as they can’t Acerola and Guzma in the same turn. If they don’t heal their Pokemon with Acerola to use Guzma to hunt down a Rowlet or Dartrix then that Zoroark GX or Golisopod GX will still have damage on it, and be vulnerable to a knockout anyhow.
There is a remedy to this on the Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX side, and that is to start including Max Potion in their lists. This would allow them to both heal and Guzma in the same turn without being punished for doing so.
Final Thoughts on Decidueye/Zoroark
Ultimately, this is one of the best decks in the format. Right now I have it slotted as the #2 deck in the general meta game, right behind Gardevoir GX variants. I don’t think the deck will be as popular as Gardevoir GX or Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX, as it’s much more difficult to play than either of those, but it still should have a significant meta presence and will probably be a popular pick amongst top players.
The only thing that would cause me some concern with this deck is that it can be slow, which could be a big deal in a tournament where you likely need to go 7-2 to make Day 2, which makes ties super detrimental, but with enough experience with the deck I think you can understand the deck enough to quickly appraise whether a game will go your way or not and then quickly scoop out of any games you will likely lose to save time and give yourself time to play a third game.
As far as deck build, I prefer using a straight build more similar to Igor Costa’s winning list from Hartford than the slightly modified version that made Top 8 at London with Ho-Oh GX and Kiawe in place of the Lillie and 4th Max Elixir. I don’t think the Ho-Oh GX/Kiawe play improves any of the deck’s matchups, with the exception of Greninja BREAK, all that much, and it does make the deck a little less consistent.
Here is my current list for Volcanion:
Pokemon – 13
Trainers – 33
Energy – 14
14 Fire Energy
This list is very close to Igor’s Hartford list, with the two deletions I’ve made from the deck were a Fire Energy and Fighting Fury Belt in favor of two Energy Retrieval.
The Fire Energy cut doesn’t really need explanation, but I think Fighting Fury Belt is an appropriate cut. In lots of game situations these don’t have an impact, and a recurring problem I kept having was drawing into these off of late game N’s when they were dead cards. They’re still important to keep at a fairly high count of three, as they let you OHKO 60 HP Basics with a single Steam Up Power Heater, as well as let you do 230 damage with Turtonator GX’s Bright Flame with only two Steam Ups against Gardevoir GX.
With Garbodor no longer having any type of significant meta presence, I think it’s fine to bump up the Item count a little bit as you don’t have to fear Trashalanche any longer. Energy Retrieval makes the deck a little bit more consistent at getting all of the Steam Ups and attachments that it needs in a given turn.
During most stages of the game Energy Retrieval will be superior to just being another Energy card. Especially mid and late game, when you have 5+ Energy in your discard pile, Energy Retrieval being two Energy instead of just one that the actual Energy card really helps in hitting all the Energy that you need in a given turn.
As far as Volcanion goes, I think it’s one of those decks that is good almost all the time. Being able to OHKO anything in the game gives the deck a fighting chance in any matchup that comes its way. The only downside to the deck is that it does have an unfavorable matchup against Gardevoir GX, which will likely be the most popular deck in Memphis. It’s not a terrible matchup by any means (40/60 maybe?), but it’s definitely unfavorable.
I think in the context of a Regional Championship this makes Volcanion a solid option. If the 2-3 Gardevoir players you play aren’t all that amazing of players you can probably come out with a positive record against the deck, and outside of Gardevoir, Volcanion is pretty good against some of the other top decks, such as Decidueye GX/Zoroark GX, Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX, and Silvally GX/Metal.
Memphis quickly approaches, it’s less than two weeks away now. For those who haven’t heard yet, Memphis will be the largest Regional Championship in the history of the game and the first one to break 900 Masters Division players. I still have lots of testing I want to try to get in before then.
I am fairly confident that both Decidueye GX/Zoroark GX and Volcanion EX are decks that will give players a great opportunity to do well at Memphis. Gourgeist, probably not so much…