Gym Leader Joel has always enjoyed the late-season tournaments in Pokemon organized play, in both the TCG and VGC. On top of enjoying playing in them, he has enjoyed considerable success in tournaments this time of year. Why is that? Gym Leader Joel does not devote much time to deck sites that spout about “The 3 Tops Plays” for the next event, as those seem to be efforts to dictate the format, rather than aid players with helpful info. This often leaves Joel a step behind in terms of what to expect early on in a season. However, by this time of the year, he has had time to step back and absorb what has been going on and build decks that handle most, if not all, of the format. Joel regrets not being able to play this year’s Roanoke event, but as the Fincastle Gym has too strong of an obligation to helping the Regional weekend go as planned, playing is just not a possibility this time. So, in this environment where secret decks or strong lists kept close to the vest are virtually impossible, here’s a look at what he was heavily considering playing.
Before we get into this list, Joel has a deck building method that has come about recently that he’d like to share, as it is how this deck came into being. We don’t recall exactly when it began at this point, but for at least the last 2 years, Pokemon.com has been publishing the list of the top 8 finishers for all major events. Our initial reaction to this was negative, as Gym Leader Georgia’s Top 8 list from a Regional was one of the first ones published, leading us to think, “Well, that deck is dead now…”, as that was the general mindset at the time. Georgia’s amazing march through the Junior division followed a dominant era by her older brother, Logan, which was a different world all together. When Logan was a Junior, you could ride a deck through the majority of the year, while others struggled to figure out how to beat you. Anyway, we now see that the move from Pokemon was a wise one, as it stole the thunder away from pay-to-view deck sites that raced to be the first to reveal someone’s list following a big win at a major event.
Gym Leader Joel has never been a proponent of copying the most recent lists and playing them blindly. Often he has found that some of these list are quirky, leaving him to believe that those who piloted them either have a very particular play-style that is hard to replicate, or they got to the finals with the help of Lady Luck. However, as these lists stack up over the course of a season, they do prove to be handy resources, as they aid in identifying trends in the game and establishing strong base lines for builds. Over the last year, Joel has liked to use these base lines for various builds when experimenting with decks. At this point you may be asking, “What in God’s holy name are you blathering about?” I’ll tell you what I’m blathering about… I’ve got information man!
At first this method may seem like a bit of a dumpster fire (nice transition, Dude), but bear with me on this one. Say you want to build a Water-type deck around an assortment your favorite EX’s (maybe Ash’s Greninja EX and Kyurem EX), but don’t know where to start. Using this method, Joel would just take the most recent Lapras GX/water box deck, swap the pokemon and go from there. It may not function perfectly if you go card for card, but its a good starting point. If you want to build a new fire deck, start w/a Volcanion build. If you want to build anything with Garbodor, look at recent Yveltal/Garbodor lists. After you play it a time or 2, you can make the adjustments where necessary. It has proven to be a quick way to get a good start on a new deck.
Speaking of dumpster fires, that’s where this seemingly hot mess began and what it turned into. However, unlike what the phrase implies, this dumpster fire establishes order and keeps a lot of the format in check. And yes, this deck grew out of the above method. Joel started with a collection of Top 8 Yveltal/Garbodor lists that despite some play-style differences, were all very similar. A simple swap of the core pokemon and energy types and this deck was ready to play. Joel has since tweaked it as he discovered some cards did not work as well in this list. Take a look at this dumpster fire, just don’t stand too close.
- 3 – Charizard EX (XYP 121)*
- 2 – Volcanion (STS 25)
- 1 – Wobbuffet (GEN RC11)**
- 2 – Shaymin EX (ROS 77)
- 2 – Trubbish (BKP 56)
- 2 – Garbodor (BKP 57)
- 1 – Professor Kukui
- 3 – N
- 2 – Lysandre
- 1 – Delinquent
- 4 – Professor Sycamore
- 1 – Team Flare Grunt
- 4 – Ultra Ball
- 4 – VS Seeker
- 3 – Float Stone
- 3 – Fighting Fury Belt
- 4 – Max Elixir
- 2 – Enhanced Hammer
- 1 – Escape Rope
- 1 – Super Rod
- 2 – Sky Field
- 8 – Fire Energy
- 4 – Double Colorless Energy
*Charizard EX (PHF 36) & (EVO 12) are alternate prints of same card. **Wobbuffet (PHF 36) can be substituted if the “grandma lipstick” version creeps you out too much.
Charizard EX has disappeared from competitive play since the rotation and the loss of the supporter card, “Blacksmith”. As a longtime fan of the series, Gym Leader Joel has always looked for ways to use the TCG forms of his favorite characters, playable or not. While this card has never dominated any format, we feel that it is massively overlooked at the moment. If we had to describe this deck to someone in one sentence, it would be, “A Volcanion EX deck under self-imposed ability lock.” Take a look at Charizard EX‘s attacks and think about them in this format.
Charizard‘s first attack seems kinda “meh”, but “Wing Attack” is better than you might think. “Wing Attack” for 60 damage, or 70 w/the all important “Fury Belt” is very versatile. It provides 1-hits on Vileplume, Vespiquen or any of the pre-evolutions of Decidueye, among other things. Well timed uses of “Professor Kukui” drive its damage total to 90 damage, often creating a KO you opponent did not see coming. “Wing Attack” is also valuable in setting up 2-hits on Mega pokemon and all of the major EX’s that usually sport a “Fury Belt” of their own.
The second attack, “Combustion Blast”, hits for 150 damage, which may seem under-powered as pokemon stats continue to climb. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we suppose, as we the attack’s strengths rather than its handicaps. On its own, “Blast” does exactly that to the likes of Decidueye GX, Lurantis GX and Solgaleo GX, providing 1-hits on all of them. The addition of the “Fury Belt” takes to total to 160 damage, still seeming short of the necessary numbers to be relevant. However, add the 20 extra from “Kukui” and you have yourself a 1-hit on every “un-belted” EX commonly used at the moment (Yveltal, Volcanion, Mewtwo, Shaymin, Hoopa, Darkrai, Giratina, Gardevoir, Lugia, Dragonite, etc) and the always frightening Tauros GX. When any of these characters get a “Fury Belt”, then you are back to a 2-hit scenario.
In the same fashion that Yveltal EX decks rely on Yveltal‘s “Oblivion Wing” attack to soften larger targets like Mega Mewtwo EX and Tauros GX, so does “Dumpster Fire” lean on Volcanion‘s “Power Heater”. The energy acceleration/recovery is obviously valuable, but the chip damage that it provides is what makes this deck work against decks like Mega Mewtwo, Mega Gardevoir (210 HP each) and Mega Rayquaza (220 HP, the hardest of the 3). It is also valuable against Tauros GX, as Tauros is not something that you want to damage much, just enough to get it in range of “Combustion Blast”.
The ability locking combination of Wobbuffet/Garbodor and the mix of disruption cards even what would normally be very poor match-ups for a Charizard EX centered deck. It all but disables the likes of Mega Rayquaza and Mega Gardevoir. Ability lock combined with a strong Fire-type attacker make the Decidueye/Vileplume match laughable. Disruption cards like the 2 “Enhanced Hammer”, “Team Flare Grunt” and “Delinquent”swing many of these match-ups, including the Mega Mewtwo EX match. Mega Mewtwo often thrives on one big Mega that sweeps the game, often surviving by using “Shrine of Memories” and “Damage Swap”. If you want to see a player piloting Mewtwo come unglued, hit them with 2 “Hammers” at once (discarding 2 DCE’s) and then “Delinquent” (discarding their stadium and 3 cards from their hand). Timing is important in all games, but being patient and making your plays at the right times are essential in this “Dumpster”.
The stadium card of choice always seems to be the biggest struggle for Gym Leader Joel. The first version of this list had 2 “Silent Lab”, essentially tripling down against abilities, which was overkill and often prevented the use of his own Shaymin EX. Most Yveltal EX lists use “Parallel City”, which is versatile in that deck. The red side of that stadium (the part that reduces damage from Fire-types by 20) clashes with what this deck is trying to do. Joel settled on “Sky Field”, as it allows him to get everything he needs out and once that it done, he can discard it with “Delinquent” and get his Shaymin EX off of the field.
The only other thing that seems worth mentioning is how to deal with the effect of “Combustion Blast” (can’t be used next turn). The “Escape Rope” card is excellent when you get it, as once you send Charizard EX to the bench, the effect is gone. You simply send up anyone with a “Float Stone”, retreat and attack again. Unfortunately that scenario is not always there. However, Charizard EX only carries a 2-energy retreat cost. Joel never hesitates to pay that cost with 2 Fire Energy, retreat to Volcanion and re-attach those energies with “Power Heater”.
Gym Leader Joel has been playing around with this list for a while and has grown very comfortable playing anything with it. Bad Lapras GX match-up aside, he likes how it performs against everything else. He was holding onto the list for the right time, which could’ve been any of the recent Regional or International tournaments, had he been able to attend. With release of “Field Blower” in Guardians Rising, Garbodor‘s days are numbered. So, “Dumpster Fire” is looking at a now or never situation, which will likely be a never, as Gym Leader Joel would’ve surely been the only one in the field of 800+ players (and still growing) crazy enough to take this one to the tables. Sometimes that’s what it takes to make it to the final rounds. See you this weekend at the Blue Ridge Regionals!