Improvements to established decks and new archetypes with Guardians Rising

Hey everybody! My name is Nick Conocenti and this is my first article for Cut or Tap. With the new set Guardians Rising coming out in just a few weeks, I am sure everybody, including myself, is itching to see what new archetypes will come out and how this set will affect the meta. Let’s start off by taking a look at already existing decks that benefit from our new set.

Decks that Get Buffed


Volcanion is a deck that has always been strong because of the pure consistency of quick damage output and energy acceleration. It has done well at many events including local League Cups, Internationals, and Regionals, and recently placed first at Utah Regionals.

One of the main struggles this deck has is Ability Lock, as you no longer can use your most important ability: Steam Up. This often leads to a much slower set up and less damage output making it hard for Volcanion-EX to one shot anything. Under Ability Lock, Volcanion is simply a deck with nice Energy acceleration, maxing out at 130 damage. However, with the main sources of Ability lock being Silent Lab and Garbodor, a Stadium and a Tool, there is a specific way that we’re now able to counter the lock.

We now gain Field Blower! This allows you to discard two in any combination of Pokemon Tools and Stadiums in play, both yours and your opponents. Say goodbye to Garbodor’s tool and blow away that pesky Silent Lab in play, regain your abilities, and take some one shots!

Surprisingly enough, Field Blower is not the only new card that helps out Volcanion. We also gain Turtonator-GX. Turtonator has been overshadowed by a lot of the other cards in this set, mainly due to how amazing this set is, but I don’t feel it should be overlooked. This is a 190 HP, Fire-type GX Pokemon that may be able to find a niche role in Volcanion.

The first attack is nice to stall, but the next two attacks, however, are the main attacks that we want to be looking at. For two Fire Energy and a Colorless Energy, its Crimson Flame attack can dish out 160 damage with the downfall of discarding two Energy. This attack is very useful in Volcanion because it allows players to not only do more damage for the same energy cost as Volcanion-EX, but makes it so if Turtonator gets knocked out, you still have access to all four of your Steam Up abilities.

Finally, Turtonator’s GX attack, Nitro Tank GX, for one Fire Energy, lets you attach up to five Energy cards from your Discard Pile to your Pokemon in any way you like. Often times in this Volcanion deck, you will have a decent amount of Fire Energy in your Discard Pile from Steam Up and Scorched Earth. With Nitro Tank GX, you can get all that Energy back and attach it directly to your Pokemon in play, which is very useful to keep streaming attacks. Volcanion previously lacked a good GX attack (barring those that played Tauros-GX) so this fills a nice role in the deck.

Here is a potential list that I would consider using for Volcanion:

Pokémon – 11 Trainers – 37 Energy – 12
 4 Volcanion EX  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Ultra Ball  12 Fire
 3 Volcanion  2 N  4 Max Elixir
 2 Shaymin EX  2 Lysandre  3 Trainers’ Mail
 1 Hoopa EX  1 Fisherman  2 Field Blower
 1 Turntonator GX  1 Olympia  2 Energy Retrieval
 4 VS Seeker  2 Float Stone
 2 Escape Rope
 2 Sky Field  2 Fighting Fury Belt

This list is fairly similar to the European list that recently did well, except instead of Salamence-EX, I chose to play Turtonator-GX; instead of Scorched Earth, I chose to put in two Field Blower. The strategy with this list is to fill up your bench with Sky Field and then use Field Blower to discard the Sky Field, along with your Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX you may use to set up.


Another deck that might be able to rise from the ashes due to some cards from Guardian’s Rising, is Raichu. Around two years ago, at the 2015 Nationals Championships, Raichu was the bee’s knees. People would play Raichu with Golbat and Crobat to do extra damage to guarantee a KO on something, or possibly to snipe off low HP Pokemon with Sneaky and Surprise Bites. But ever since then Raichu has not been seen. This could be due to the fact that it does not do nearly enough damage right now in the Standard format, capping out at 160 damage, or 180 damage if you used Professor Kukui that turn. But that could change now that Choice Band is here!

Choice Band is going to be good in pretty much every deck, except for maybe some big Basic decks that favor Fighting Fury Belt over Choice Band. And it may even be strong enough to rise Raichu back from the dead. Choice Band allows the Pokemon that it is attached to, to do 30 more damage to your opponent’s active Pokemon-EX or -GX. This makes Raichu’s Circle Circuit attack to do 190 damage with a full eight benched Pokemon! That is enough to OHKO any Pokemon-EX or -GX that is not a Mega Evolution such as, Mega Mewtwo, or an evolved GX Pokemon, such as Decidueye-GX.

Another new card that helps Raichu is Rescue Stretcher. Rescue Stretcher allows you to either choose one Pokemon from your discard pile and put it directly into your hand, or shuffle three Pokemon from your discard pile into your deck. This is great in Raichu decks because often times, if your opponent discards your Sky Field or knocks out your Pokemon, you find yourself running out of Pokemon to either attack with, or to put on your Bench for added damage. This should no longer be a problem because you can keep recycling your Pokemon through Rescue Stretcher.

Field Blower is another card that gives this deck a boost as well. Field Blower allows you to discard your opponent’s Fighting Fury Belts so that you can OHKO their Pokemon with ease. Not only that, but Field Blower also gives this deck a nice out against Ability Lock to gain access once more to Set Up with Shaymin EX and perhaps Sneaky Bite on Golbat GEN.

The last card that I want to talk about in this deck is the new Tapu Lele-GX. If you haven’t already heard, Mewtwo-EX and Jirachi-EX had a baby and his, or her name, is Tapu Lele-GX. Tapu Lele-GX has the Wonder Tag ability that lets you search for any Supporter card in your deck, and put it into your hand. Not only can you put it onto your bench and search for whatever Supporter you need, but it also serves as an extra Benched Pokemon that fuels Raichu’s Circle Circuit attack.

There are many ways to go about building a Raichu deck. You could play Zoroark, Golbat, Passimian, Eeveelutions, or even Vespiquen. In this list I opted to go for Zoroark because I actually found it to be the most useful and most consistent option.

Pokémon – 22 Trainers – 32 Energy – 4
 4 Pikachu (GEN)  3 Professor Sycamore  4 Ultra Ball  4 Double Colorless
 4 Raichu (GEN)  2 N  2 Field Blower
 3 Zorua  2 Lysandre  2 Float Stone
 3 Zoroark  1 Professor Kukui  2 Rescue Stretcher
 4 Shaymin EX  1 Hex Maniac  3 Choice Band
 2 Tapu Lele GX  4 VS Seeker  2 Special Charge
 1 Oranguru
 1 Dragonite EX  4 Sky Field
 (2 open slots)

The last two spots in the list are open to preference.

This list is targeted at dishing out as much damage as possible with Raichu. With four Shaymin-EX and two Tapu Lele-GX, it is very easy to fill up your Bench and perform a quick 190 damage Circle Circuit attack. Dragonite-EX is a card that most people play in the Mega Rayquaza decks and in Mega Gardevoir decks because those decks also need to be able to recycle Pokemon in order to do as much damage as possible and keep attacking. Oranguru is a card that is often played in Mega Rayquaza decks because Mega Rayquaza (as well as Raichu) struggles with a late game N to one; with Oranguru, an N to one becomes an N to three.

New Archetypes from Guardians Rising

Now that we have established how much better both Volcanion and Raichu get in the next set, let’s take a look at some completely new archetypes that could be powerful and impact on the meta.


Let’s start off by taking a look at the new Garbodor card that has been getting a reasonable amount of hype. Garbodor does 20 damage times the amount of Item cards in your opponent’s discard pile for only a single Psychic Energy. This card has the potential of doing upwards of 180 damage by turn two or three depending on how many Items your opponent plays.

The only problem with this card is that your opponent has the power to limit your damage by playing around Garbodor and not playing many Item cards. However, if you punish your opponent from playing Items cards, they will be limited in what they can do. There are many ways to combat this problem such as playing Bunnelby and hoping to discard some of their Items by using the Burrow attack. Also by using Team Rocket’s Handiwork or Delinquent, you can forcibly discard some Item cards. But I believe the best and most simple option is just to play an alternative attacker.

Alternative attackers in this deck can vary from Tauros-GX to Lugia-EX/Tapu Lele-GX to even Espeon-GX. Tauros-GX gives a nice option in the deck as it makes your opponent need to play around the intimidating Mad Bull GX attack. This often leads to your opponent playing a lot of Items in order to hit what they need so that they can pursue their strategy around the big, bad, mad bull that is Tauros-GX.

I also like the inclusion of Espeon-GX because Psybeam can be a really annoying attack for your opponent, making your opponent possibly play a lot of Items (like Switch or Escape Rope) to, once again, hit what they need in order to get around the Confusion effect. The other nice thing about Espeon-GX is, even if they flip heads on Confusion, you are still chipping away at their Pokemon, making it easier for a Garbodor to come in and knock everything out. The last reason I like Espeon-GX is because of the Divide GX attack which can either spread damage in order for a Garbodor to come in and sweep the board with Trashvalanche, or, it can finish off KOs that Garbodor could not fully manage to OHKO. I am not a fan of Lugia EX or Tapu Lele-GX as a main side attacker in this deck as neither of them accomplish the goal of forcing your opponent to respond to different threats and in doing so, putting Item cards in the discard pile. All your opponent really needs to do, is attach Energy and hit the Lugia-EX or Tapu Lele-GX, and your opponent can do this without using any Items.

There are so many different ways to go about this Garbodor deck, and I am sure that we will see the best one in about a month after the set gets released. I myself have been trying to stir up something spicy with this Garbodor, and the closest that I have gotten is with this crazy anti-meta version that Alex Bobenrieth and I created.

Pokémon – 20 Trainers – 28 Energy – 12
 2 Wobbuffet  4 Professor Sycamore  2 Choice Band  4 Double Colorless
 4 Trubbish (BKP)  3 N  3 Float Stone  2 Fighting
 4 Garbodor (GR)  2 Lysandre  2 Super Rod  6 Psychic
 2 Rockruff (GR)  2 Bridgette  2 Field Blower
 2 Lycanroc GX (GR)  4 VS Seeker  4 Ultra Ball
 2 Blitzle
 2 Zebstrika
 2 Tapu Lele GX





This list is crazy, I know. With this list we are just trying to counter the most popular decks. The two Wobbufett are for Vileplume decks, specifically Decidueye GX/Vileplume. With Psychic Energy in the deck we can even attack with Wobbufett’s Psychic Assault attack. The two Rockruff and two Lycanroc are a counter for Turbo Darkrai decks, but they also have a very strong ability that lets you bring up one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon, just like a Lysandre in Ability form. This opens up a lot of strategies in the deck such as sniping off Shaymin-EX or even Hoopa EX since Garbodor can hit it for weakness.

We play two Zebstrika to deal with Yveltal and Mega Rayquaza, and it’s also good for targeting Shaymin-EX on the bench that we bring up with Lycanroc. We also play a two Tapu Lele/two Brigette combo. This combo pairs nicely because a turn one Brigette with this deck is ideal for setting up all of your attackers on the following turn; with four Ultra Ball and two Tapu Lele GX, this happens most games I have played with the deck. Field Blower is great in this deck to discard Items from your opponent’s field, fueling Garbodor’s attack. Lastly, we do not run any Stadiums in this deck since there aren’t any Stadiums that really benefit this deck, and I would rather go for more consistency cards than to play some useless Stadiums. There are no Stadiums that hurt this deck much and if your opponent has a Stadium in play that benefits them too much, then we can respond with Field Blower.


Another new card, or cards, that some players are either grieving over, or celebrating, is the Grass-type Phantump and Trevenant. Why is the Grass Phantump that only does 10 damage for a Grass Energy good? Well, because it is a Grass-type! This means that you can set up a Trevenant or even a Trevenant BREAK on turn 1 with the help of Forest of Giant Plants. This also makes it very easy to play a Vileplume line in this sort of deck because you are already playing Forest of Giant Plants, and it combos so well with Trevenant’s Poltergeist attack which we will go over next.

Trevenant’s Poltergeist attack does 30 damage times the amount of Trainer cards in your opponent’s hand for only two Colorless Energy. Most decks play upwards of around 30 Trainer cards in their deck, so for them to have at least 6 Trainer cards in their hand to do 180 damage is not too “farfetch’d”. Combine this with Vileplume, and your opponent would have all of these trainer cards stuck in their hand which enables you to do some massive damage for a low energy cost.

Here is a list that I have been liking a lot in my testing:

Pokémon – 20 Trainers – 32 Energy – 8
 4 Phantump  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Ultra Ball  4 Double Colorless
 4 Trevenant  3 N  3 Level Ball  4 Psychic
 2 Trevenant Break  2 Lysandre  2 Timer Ball
 3 Oddish  2 Revitalizer
 2 Gloom  4 Forest of Giant Plants  4 Float Stone
 2 Vileplume  4 Trainers’ Mail
 3 Shaymin EX

This list is purely targeted to get out a turn one Vileplume and a turn one Trevenant. With a total of nine balls, and three Shaymin-EX to keep drawing cards that you need, pulling off this task is not difficult. The two Trevenant BREAK are definitely the MVP of this deck as it does a total of three different things in the deck. First, it gives 40 extra HP. Second, it serves as a Psychic type Pokemon, just in case you need to hit weakness on a Psychic-weak Pokemon, such as Mega Mewtwo EX. Third, Silent Fear is amazing! There have been so many games, especially against Volcanion, that I would Lysandre up a Pokemon that would be hard for my opponent to retreat, and then use Silent Fear to spread damage all over the board and take some knockouts on things on the Bench, such as Shaymin-EX.

Lastly, we play a 3-2-2 Vileplume line. This is because the most important part of starting the Vileplume train, is to get your Oddish down. Once you get your Oddish down, you can then play your Timer Balls and search for Gloom and Vileplume. This line is something that could be changed but right now, it’s working really well.

Alolan Ninetales

The last new deck that I want to talk about is Alolan Ninetales GX. This card has not been getting any love recently in the States, but in Japan, where this set is already released, and Alolan Ninetales-GX has been taking tournaments by storm. I believe this is mainly because of the combination of Rough Seas, and the fact that it has a Metal Weakness, which pretty much says it has no Weakness since the only viable Metal Pokemon is Solgaleo-GX which one shots Ninetales anyways. Another reason Ninetales is geared for success is our new access to Water-type Energy acceleration in the form of Aqua Patch. Ninetales gets is the new card, Aqua Patch.

Alolan Ninetales has three useful attacks. All three of these attacks are useful which is a nice refresher since most GX Pokemon with three attacks have at least one attack that is beyond garbage. Starting off with the first attack, for two Colorless Energy, this attack does 50 damage to any one of your opponent’s Pokemon. This attack is very nice for sniping things off the bench or finishing KO’s that you started with its second attack. Alolan Ninetales’ second attack does 160 damage in return for discarding two Energy off the Alolan Ninetales (sound familiar? Turtonator-GX has the same attack). Even though this attack does not seem to do much, 50 damage for the first attack, plus 160 damage for the second attack, adds up to 210 damage which is a very nice number, letting you hit knock outs on many Mega Evolution Pokemon and Fighting Fury Belted EX’s.

Lastly, the main shebang of this Ninetales is its GX attack. Ice Path GX, for only two Colorless Energy, lets you move all of the damage counters from Alolan Ninetales-GX to your opponent’s Active Pokemon. This is insane because not only are you healing off all of your damage, but you are also inflicting at most, 200 damage! Also, as opposed to Mewtwo-EX’s Damage Change, you don’t receive any of the opponent Pokemon’s damage counters, you just get to pile yours on top of theirs.

I believe there are multiple ways to go about a list for Alolan Ninetales-GX. You could play Garbotoxin Garbodor in it, maybe some Eeveelutions, but I feel like the most consistent way is just to use Manaphy-EX and Aqua Patch and just do your thing.

Pokémon – 13 Trainers – 36 Energy – N
 4 Vulpix  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Ultra Ball  7 Water
 4 Alolan Ninetales GX  3 N  4 Aqua Patch  4 Double Colorless
 2 Shaymin EX  2 Lysandre  4 Trainers’ Mail
 2 Manaphy EX  1 Hex Maniac  2 Choice Band
 1 Tapu Lele GX  1 Professor Kukui  2 Escape Rope
 4 VS Seeker  1 Super Rod
 4 Rough Seas

This list is fairly simple. The only thing you want to be doing with this list is consistently getting out your Ninetales-GX and start attacking as fast as possible. The only thing in this list that might stand out to some is the four Double Colorless Energy. If you haven’t noticed already, both the first attack and second attack of Ninetales GX only cost a single Double Colorless Energy. This makes it a lot easier for you to attack on the second turn, which will pretty much always happen. Another reason why Double Colorless Energy are good in this deck is because with Ninetales GX’s second attack, you can just discard a single Double Colorless Energy, instead of two Water Energy. This makes it way easier for you to stream attacks.


This set will definitely impact the meta greatly. With new cards such as Tapu Lele-GX, lists might opt to play a lot more one of supporters in their deck because they can easily find them. I think with the likes of Aqua Patch, we will see a rise of Water type decks in general. Whether they’ll be a Water toolbox deck with Regice, Glaceon-EX, and Lapras-GX, or maybe some Water type Mega Evolution Pokemon; or, of course, Alolan Ninetales-GX.

Volcanion-EX decks get a huge boost and will remain to be a very high tier deck throughout the season. Even with all the new Water type hype that is coming out, I have actually tested Volcanion-EX against these new Aqua Patch decks, and Volcanion still has a decent shot at winning.

I believe that Choice Band is going to make a lot of decks stronger, especially Stage 1 decks since they didn’t have a very good tool to use before this.

Lastly, I believe that the Garbotoxin Garbodor has seen its days and will soon shy out of the Standard format due to Field Blower. Field Blower, I believe, is going to see a ton of play and will make tools such as Bursting Balloon and Fighting Fury Belt, a little bit worse because the plus 40 effect of Fighting Fury Belt and the placement of six damage counters from Bursting Balloon can all be ignored due to Field Blower.


Alright everybody, I hope you enjoyed my very first article on Cut or Tap, and learned a lot about the next set. This has been Nick Conocenti, signing off, for!