I spent Friday and Saturday testing Standard with Celestial Storm, trying out new archetypes and the new lists I posted five days ago. I also got to test out my favorite rogue deck and 2004’s Blaziken! In this piece I cover the issues and benefits of Rayquaza (with my list for it), why Mismagius is a top tier deck (with my list for it), and other opinions on new cards; specifically Acro Bike, Magcargo, and Shrine of Punishment.
The truth is, I am passionately against playing Rayquaza at sanctioned events for several reasons, but that it actually is a good choice for some players. There are some strong arguments for not playing the deck; here are a few.
- Inability to control resources: Intrinsically Rayquaza decks will have a big hurdle of keeping enough of different resources around long enough to win games. The problem comes from the unpredictability of Stormy Winds. It makes any variant of the deck struggle with resource management. As a result you end up having to play cards like multiple Rescue Stretcher, Pal Pad, and higher counts of cards you otherwise would not need that many of. Sometimes, despite your efforts in deck-building, you still end up milling away the cards you need. Even if you play 4 Guzma and 2 Pal Pad, sometimes you end up having to Sycamore away one other Sycamore, Ultra Ball away a Pal Pal and the rest end up discarded from Stormy Winds. But the bigger problem is that you never know when something like this will come up. If you could see the future and know that you will have to mill away your Sycamore, then you wouldn’t use Mysterious Treasure to discard one, but of course, you can’t see the future unless your name is Alice Cullen
- Extremely opening dependent: If you do not get a fast opening with Rayquaza and/or allow your opponent to knock out a Rayquaza with three energy on it, you will most likely lose. Because Rayquaza has a damage output solely based on the number of energy in play, your opponent can really ruin your board-state by taking an early knock out. If you do not have a solid first turn or two, usually involving aggressive Sycamore use, you can fall behind too quickly and lose to Sylveon EX KOs on your Rays, or maybe you lose to the combination of energy denial and your Latias Prism Star being knocked out.
- Too hurt by Field Blower: The two normal ways to play Ray are with either Fury Belt or Wishful Baton. Both cards are there to keep energy in play; Baton does it by putting energy on something else when Ray is KO’d and Fury Belt just makes it hard to KO Ray. Either way, Blower is at a high point right now since a Garbodor deck just won NAIC, and Zoroark decks have very easy access to it. It is even becoming normal for BuzzRoc to play Field Blower and BuzzRoc was the only deck before that did not play Blower.
- Easily teched against: I found in my Zoroark lists that one Sylveon EX was a low commitment way to make my Ray matchup something like 20% better, which is monstrous. An even more effective tech is the fairy type Dedenne, which can combine with Tapu Koko to allow you to OHKO a Rayquaza with a one-prize attacker. But Buzzwole or any other deck with Choice Band can tech Sylveon EX as well and it only costs one spot.
There are actually some good reasons to play Rayquaza as well though. For me the cons outweigh the pros, but you can decide for yourself.
- Great under time restraints: Because Rayquaza is easy to play and aggressive, it makes for a great deck for finishing three games in 50 minutes. Ties should not be an issue for Rayquaza almost ever. This is a bigger upside than many people realize and it makes a big difference, especially at events like Worlds where you need to play very carefully.
- Not too big-brain: Rayquaza is not a deck that you will have to think too hard to use. There are a couple things to learn within your first ten games or so and after that the deck plateaus in difficulty of use. This is good not only because it makes games go more quickly, but also because it gives you a better chance of playing the deck optimally and will forgive little mistakes more often. If I end up getting three hours of sleep the night before worlds, Rayquaza is probably my best bet. It also makes for a good archetype for newer players.
- Room for techs: The deck really just needs Elixirs, a lot of energy, and four Professor Sycamore. Past that you can do a lot of different things with the deck, from Garbodor, to 16 energy, to whatever else is conducive to a resource-destroying archetype.
I have my own list for the deck with Garbodor, but I certainly see the merit of playing it without the trash. Bellow you can find lists for both versions. Here’s what I have sleeved.