Primal Clash through Burning Shadows – Gardevoir, Greninja, Darkrai, and Noivern

Hey reader! Many of us are preparing for a format including a set that does not exist in English yet. For most Worlds competitors the format that is relevant at the moment is including Burning Shadows. The only tournament we have to base our format on is the 2017 Japan championship, which actually is a different format because they have many more sets legal. For that reason I wanted to create lists for some of the decks of the new format.

It seems like everybody has a Gardevoir GX deck put together. Most are trying to play the list that Misaki Miyamoto used, but without the expanded cards. I took a somewhat similar approach initially but over time the list changed somewhat dramatically. My build focuses on consistency, and cuts out cards like Fisherman and higher Choice Band counts.

Greninja is another deck that I think has huge potential in this format. With Volcanion and Gardevoir hype, Greninja is a great call in this meta. A couple additions and a new concept for the list has made the deck more consistent than it has been in previous formats.

Darkrai Garbodor is the next option in this piece, and probably the most underrated archetype right now. Darkrai GX is a nice addition, but this deck is mostly powerful because of how prevalent abilities are in this format. I am reminded of a mid-2014 format where Blastoise, Ray/Boar and TDK were at the top. Michael Pramawat won a Regionals in this format playing Darkrai Garbodor; in that case the Dark Explorers Darkrai rather than the Darkrai from BreakPoint.

Darkrai Garbodor is the new Darkrai Garbodor. This 2014 format was dominated by decks using Garbodor, or using super strong ability based decks. To me Gardevoir is the new Blastoise, and Volcanion is the new Emboar. There is no doubt that Volcanion and Emboar are very different decks, but they are both based on abilities and take one-shot knock outs. Gardevoir is a little more comparable to Blastoise because they are both ability based, Stage 2, one-shoting decks. This is (in part) why I think Darkrai Garbodor is a good option in the current format.

Finally I have a Noivern GX deck that I would love to play above everything else. The obvious issue with the deck is the fairy weakness, but I do think we can find a way around the weakness. The list you will see later on is an early one, and I expect it will change significantly. However it does boast a 45/55 against Gardevoir, which is great considering Gardevoir is supposed to a counter to Noivern.

Starting off with Gardevoir because I know that’s the list everyone wants to see. Even though I do not plan to play Gardevoir for Worlds, the deck is what I have tested more than anything else. This is the list I’ve developed.


Pokémon – 16 Trainers – 32 Energy – 12
 4 Ralts  4 Professor Sycamore  3 VS Seeker  4 Double Colorless
 3 Kirlia  3 N  4 Ultra Ball  8 Fairy
 4 Gardevoir GX  2 Guzma  4 Rare Candy
 2 Diance  1 Hex Maniac  3 Timer Ball
 1 Tapu Lele GX  1 Brigette  2 Field Blower
 1 Remoraid  1 Choice Band
 1 Octillery  2 Silent Lab  1 Rescue Stretcher
 1 Super Rod

The idea behind this list is basically that it is more important to set up than it is to have cards like Choice Band and Fisherman. My philosophy is that if I can set up consistently, I will get the added damage by being able to attach more energy from having several Gardevoir in play. Consistency is king.

Timer Ball

I like Evo Soda much better in general. The only reason this list needs Timer Ball is because it searches out Gardevoir so that Rare Candy can be used. Since Evo Soda does not put the Pokemon in your hand, it cannot be used with Rare Candy. I do not see this higer counter of search cards as strange, and I think players are seeing it this way because they did not play back in previous formats where your main damage output is through Stage 2s. Back when I played Flygon, Dusknoir, or Empoleon, playing 6 to 9 pokemon search cards was the norm. I had Pokemon Communication, Heavy Ball, Level ball, and Ultra Ball all in the same list. Even now many Greninja lists are playing around this many pokemon search cards.

0 Gallade/4 Gardevoir GX

In my testing so far Gallade has been next to useless. If you have toyed with the deck at all, you probably have realized how lackluster the card can be. Gallade is normally seen as a consistency card, but in this deck a fourth Gardevoir is more consistent than the tech. There is no need for a 7-prize-trade attacker because there are already several other one prize Pokemon that will end up fitting that role. Premonition just doesn’t do much, especially with N in every deck, and Garbotoxin in many of them.

1 Tapu Lele/1-1 Octillery

In my experience there is never room for more than one Tapu Lele on the bench. For a while I had a second copy, but found it to be useless almost every game. There is the argument for a second copy just because of prizing the one, but to me this is not a strong enough reason to warrant two.

Octillery is a great addition to the deck but does little to help deal with ability lock. With this deck I want to do what I can to make the list less ability reliant so that when I face one of the main counters to my list (Garbotoxin), I have a better way of dealing with it. I went to a 1-1 line because I felt Remoraid is easily searchable with Brigette, and any of the three Timer Ball can find the Octillery. The only issue is prize cards.


I decided to go for more basic fairy energy because this list likes to use Secret Spring as much as possible once it sets up. The idea is basically that I will only have small pockets of time to use Secret Spring when playing against a Garbodor deck. This means it is important to hit the fairy energy when I am in one of these pockets of ability use.

Super Rod

This is a change I made (from Rescue Stretcher) because the deck no longer has Fisherman. Energy recovery is nice in the late game because oftentimes the only thing needed to win the game is more energy.

0 Vulpix/2 Diance

Diance is not the best card in this deck, and frankly it just serves as something to take damage a lot of the time, but that use is important. You cannot have Ralts being picked off over and over in the early game. Diance is a card that is nice to start with, especially when playing second, but is also insurance for when you cannot draw the timer balls at the right time (or maybe just flip tails). I like that Diance breaks the evolution rule; it is very nice to bench a Remoraid and immediately evolve it for extra draw power on the following turn.

My issue with Vulpix is that N is used frequently in the early game, meaning Beacon can easily be nullified. 6o HP is also significantly less than 90. People tend to not factor this in, but it certainly does matter in many matchups.


This deck seems very strong to me. It makes sense that Gardevoir is the most hyped deck at the moment. I suppose I’m just not a big fan of playing a deck that sees more hype than anything else. Instead I would rather try to play a deck that has similar matchups with a smaller target on its back…Maybe even one that beats Gardevoir.

Hey this next deck fits that description pretty well! This is my Greninja list:

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2 thoughts on “Primal Clash through Burning Shadows – Gardevoir, Greninja, Darkrai, and Noivern

  1. Great read! I see you did decide to put in a bunch of timer balls into gardevoir lol. I also love the noivern GX list. I am also the BIGGEST toad fan and have been trying out noivern GX but just could get it to beat popular matchups like gardevoir. I am definitely gonna try out your take on the list.

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