As we detailed in a few of our latest posts, Gym Leader Joel has been taking a beating in recent Gym Leader challenges. Despite two recent losses, his Steel-type deck still stands as a tough deck to beat. On the other hand, Joel’s Grass-type deck has been burned down by several gym trainers recently, losing six times in the last eight challenges. All six losses were not by the same deck. The earlier version was a straight Lurantis GX/Tapu Bulu GX deck, which in its own right is a solid deck and did not really need to be retired, as it had a strong record in challenges. Joel changed from that one simply because he wanted to try something else. The current version is an all Grass-type Golisopod GX deck. The strength of Fire-type decks at the moment makes any Grass-type deck vulnerable to defeat. Building an unbeatable deck is not our goal. We want our gym decks to help players learn how to focus a deck build towards a specific goal, like focusing on a central attacker or line of attackers, and supporting it with the correct line of Items, Supporters and Stadiums. Recent challengers have definitely been on point as far as that goal goes. Like we promised earlier, when a few trainers take down the same deck, we will retire it (if possible) and share it here with you.
Once Golisopod GX hit the format, Gym Leader Joel wanted to build something that centered around it. Unfortunately, the constraints of keeping a deck to a single energy type limits the effectiveness of a heavyweight like Golisopod GX. It pairs better with the likes of Zoroark/Zoroark GX or Garbodor (both the “Garbotoxin” and “Trashalanche” versions) and other attackers that can benefit from the use of “Rainbow Energy” and “Double Colorless Energy”, like Celesteela GX, Magearna EX or even Buzzwole GX. Gym Leader Joel has been around the block a few times in terms of deck building and put that experience into making a unique Golisopod GX deck. This deck has some pretty sweet tricks up it sleeve that boost the very popular GX. The likes of Turtonator GX, Volcanion EX and Delphox are among the recent challengers that are unfortunately too powerful for those tricks. These ideas should not be overlooked, though, as they could prove very useful in the current format. Take a look at the list.
- 4 – Wimpod (BUS 16)
- 3 – Golisopod GX (BUS 17)
- 3 – Fomantis (SUM 14)
- 3 – Lurantis (PR SM25)
- 1 – Lurantis GX (SUM 15)
- 1 – Oranguru (SUM 113)
- 2 – Tapu Lele GX (GRI 60)
- 3 – Choice Band
- 4 – Ultra Ball
- 2 – Field Blower
- 2 – Rescue Stretcher
- 4 – Switch
- 2 – Lillie
- 4 – N
- 4 – Professor Sycamore
- 3 – Guzma
- 2 – Brigette
- 2 – Acerola
- 11 – Grass Energy
The strength of Golisopod GX lies in its one-energy attack, “First Impression”. It deals a base 30 damage which increases to 120 damage if you can make Golisopod move into the Active position during your turn. That does not include becoming the Active pokemon following a knock out, however (that technically happens before your turn begins). It means that it either has to move to the Active spot from your bench after your turn begins or has to switch out of the Active spot and somehow return there in the same turn to gain the damage increase. It was obviously designed to pair with the Supporter card, “Guzma”, which, in addition to allowing you to force an opponent’s benched pokemon to the Active spot, also makes you switch your own Active with a benched pokemon (if you have one).
This combo is pretty easy to pull off as long as you have someone who can retreat for free (with a “Float Stone”, with the aid of a Stadium or with a zero-retreat cost). The same result can be achieved with cards like “Escape Rope” or “Switch”. Early versions of the deck relied on Zoroark and its ability, “Stand In” and an accompanying “Float Stone” to just reset the attack “First Impression” again and again. More recent build like to use the Supporter card, “Acerola”. Acerola does double duty, as it removes a damaged Active pokemon from play, allowing you to promote Golisopod GX and gain the damage increase AND it removes all the damage from whomever you used it on, effectively healing that pokemon and saving a knock out.
Now that you’ve seen an overview of how to take advantage of the one-energy attack, let’s look at how Joel tried to boost it even further. The first and obvious step in to play a “Choice Band” and raise “First Impression” to 150 damage (against EX/GX only), which is great, but unfortunately does not get you to a one-hit against most of the format. Gym Leader Joel turned to Lurantis, in two different forms , to push that damage count higher.
Lurantis GX is that utility pokemon that just hasn’t been able to find a place in the format, especially since the banning of the Stadium card, “Forest of Giant Plants”, which we will talk more about in a moment. In this gym deck, however, the attack, “Flower Supply”, whether it accelerates any energy into play or not, serves the singular purpose of getting 40 to 70 damage (w/Choice Band) on a target so that Golisopod GX can follow-up with 120 to 150 damage and finish off almost any target. This deck was originally built with only Lurantis GX to support Golisopod GX when Joel first made it in the PTCGO (trading card game online). However, his interest was piqued and definitely shifted when the promo Lurantis was released in May of 2017.
Sun and Moon promo #25 Lurantis boasts a very nice ability, dubbed “Sunny Day”. The ability adds 20 more damage to any Grass-type or Fire-type’s attack and IS stack-able, meaning that if you have four of these in play, you add 80 damage to your attack. With the benefit of hindsight, this deck would have been better served by playing a 4-4 line of this version of Lurantis as opposed to the mix of GX and promo, as all four could boost “First Impression” all the way to 230 damage (w/Choice Band). That is, of course, dependent on getting all four in play at once, which is not that easy to do, as that only leaves two spots on the field for Golisopod GX. We do feel that you could get and keep three in play fairly consistently, which still makes Golisopod hit for 180 to 210 damage. If we were to give this deck a try again in the future, Gym Leader Joel would definitely remove the GX Lurantis in favor of the full line of promos.
We know that we’ve been exclusively talking about the attack, “First Impression”, as it is a game defining attack and the focus of this deck (which is why we use only grass energy). Golisopod GX does have two other attacks that are worth mentioning. “Armor Press” deals 100 damage for a Grass and a Double Colorless energy with the added effect that Golispod GX takes 20 less damage from attacks on your opponent’s next turn. Not a bad attack, but much better in the context of the damage boosts discussed in this deck. The same can be said of the GX attack, “Cross Cut GX”. The one-time attack for 150 damage is not overwhelming by any means. Add 30 damage from a Choice Band and 60 damage from the promos and eyebrows begin to rise….
This deck uses a mixed bag of tricks to try to “re-activate” the attack, “First impression”. We kept a two-count of “Acerola”, because the strength of what it can provide is hard to dispute. However, when constantly facing Fire-type decks, it often does not come into play, as you either out-speed them or they one-hit you. We went with a mix of “Guzma” and “Switch” with no “Float Stone”, as we did not always want to have to switch our own Active and did not want a “Stone” blocking us from playing a “Choice Band” when we needed the extra damage. There were times when a “Stone” on a benched pokemon would have been nice, but every deck can not have every possibility covered. We like the versatility of the “Acerola/Switch/Guzma” lines. As always the count of each can be tinkered with depending on player preferences.
Where this deck would stretch into the bounds of being labelled “broken” would be if the aforementioned stadium, “Forest”, had not been banned. “Forest of Giant Plants” allowed Grass-type pokemon to immediately evolve when played. Imagine this first-turn scenario: you evolve to two Lurantis (one in the Active spot), one Golisopod, attach a “Float Stone” to the Active, retreat and then attack with a “Choice Band’ for 190 damage, just for one energy…. Do you see now why it was banned? The removal of “Forest” is what shifts this Grass-type deck (and surely most others) from perhaps the most difficult to beat to one of the most vulnerable.
Golisopod/Lurantis is headed for Shady Shoals, as it is officially retired. We will likely tweak it in the PTCGO as mentioned and see how it fares. If you like the concept, give it a whirl yourself and see what you come up with. Gym Leader Joel is constructing his new Grass-type deck this week. It will be available for challenges at our next league meeting. The Ultra Prism set is not officially legal for sanctioned events until 2/16/18. However, as our pre-release has come and gone and the set goes on sale this week, we will allow its use in gym challenges at our next meeting.
Speaking of next league meetings… we will not have league this coming Sunday, 2/4/18. Dark Moon Cards and Games will be at the Star City Anime convention this weekend at the Holiday Inn in Roanoke. We will be there all three days, so come by and see us and check out the convention. Whether you are a fan of all things anime and cosplay, or just like shopping for cool collectibles, artwork and Japanese merchandise, it is definitely worth the trip. We always have to restrain ourselves, as our eyes are usually much larger than our wallets at this event.
We hope you enjoyed the look at Gym Leader Joel’s Grass-type deck. Check back in a few days for a look at the second deck to be retired, his Steel-type deck. We hope to see you this weekend in the Star City! See you soon at the Gym!