Above is an audio recording of the article. Normally these recordings will be behind a paywall, but this was my first attempt at recording an article.
The last two pieces have been about rogues and I want to give the meta-believers some content before Dallas. The three described decks are consistent, safe picks, with solid match ups. This piece focuses on the general strategy of each deck, but ends up explaining match ups in the process. Each list has a few general routes it can take in any given game. When you understand the general strategies, you can formulate a game plan on the spot no matter which deck you are up against. Being able to find a path to victory when you have never played a match up is a crucial skill to develop when playing in a format which harbors a ridiculous number of archetypes.
ZoroGarb is not straight forward, so it has a longer section on strategy than the other two. The notion that ZoroGarb is a good players’ safest way to make Day 2 has been persistent over the years, and is proving to be true again in the new format. Ultra Necrozma is a deck that the middle-to-higher level players seem to be less invested in, but in testing it has actually been the most successful out of the three. I expect the players that dislike Ultra Necrozma are not really giving it a shot and may have been using bad lists if/when they actually do test it. As for Dark, to most players it is self evident that it is a great deck, so I’m not sure that I need to convince anybody of its power.
Long intros are annoying; let’s get into the fun stuff.
|Pokémon – 21||Trainers – 33||Energy – 6|
|4||Zorua (DEX)||2||Colress||4||VS Seeker||4||Double Colorless|
|4||Zoroark GX||2||Brigette||1||Bursting Balloon||2||Psychic|
|1||Garbodor (BKP)||1||Pokemon Ranger||1||Dowsing Machine|
|1||Garbodor (GRI)||1||Professor Sycamore||1||Field Blower|
|2||Trubbish (NVI)||1||Guzma||1||Super Rod|
|2||Tapu Lele GX||1||N||1||Rescue Stretcher|
|2||Shaymin EX||2||Pokemon Communication|
|2||Exeggcute||3||Sky Field||2||Choice Band|
|1||Ditto Prism Star||4||Ultra Ball|
Knowing how inherently strong ZoroGarb is, the best way to go about building it is with consistency in mind. I started out with a far less consistent list that had techs like Counter Gain with Mega Lopunny, but over more and more games I realized that the extra spice was getting me nowhere. At the moment there are three techs: Pokemon Ranger, Counter Catcher, and Wobbuffet. Ranger is a somewhat self-explanatory tech; it primarily is for ADP, but can have use against other decks such as Mewthree (Noivern GX). Counter Catcher is a solid way to cushion the damage of the Lt. Surge ban because it allows you to essentially play Guzma and N in the same turn. Dragging up the best target when you have your pivotal N + Toxin + Trashalanche turn, can give you wins where you otherwise would not be able to do enough in one turn. Wobbuffet is mostly for RowEggs, because it can be a negative match up without it. If you have no access to Items on your second turn, you probably cannot mount enough of a board to win. Wobbuffet is also an excellent tech against Archie’s as it always has been. The last common use is dealing with Sudowoodo, and that is not at all a trivial reason. There are several uses for Wobbuffet and regardless of meta shifts, Wobbuffet ends up having utility.
A couple other tech options that could be included, would be Mew and Max Potion. Mew helps with the Mewthree match up now that players have caught on to the incredible power of Solar Plant GX. Expanded has several snipe attackers giving Mew some use in general, but the fact that I have to turn it off when I use Toxin tends to turn me away from it. Max Potion is my favorite tech for Ultra Necrozma seeing as they usually hit for 170 or 200, making it possible for you to heal their entire attack off while you already have no Energy on the Zoroark (their attack discards your DCE). Either of these tech options have use against several archetypes and I would not fault anybody for playing them rather than the techs I prefer. Ranger may not be needed by the time the event starts because players are starting to cut ADP from their Ultra Necro lists, in favor of a Naganadel Guzzlord.
New format strategy
The games where you need a come-back
Without access to Lt. Surge, ZoroGarb ends up relying on a strategy centered around both Garbodors and N. In many games (if not every game) you should set up a turn where you N your opponent to two, turn on Garbotoxin, and Trashalanche for a KO. That specific combination has been the reason ZoroGarb can swing games back into its favor ever since Hex Maniac was banned. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of preparing your board for that turn. The reason you N your opponent and do the rest of the combo specifically when they are at two prizes, is that you are feeding them a one prize attacker. If you were to Riotous Beating on that turn, they could potentially draw well off the N and knock out Zoroark for game, whereas they need an almost impossible combo to take a knock out on Zoroark if it is not in the active. Assuming you do not already have a way to win in-hand on the turn after the Trashalanche, you will want to repeat the same strategy. What usually happens is your opponent plays a draw Supporter despite their small hand off N, and they do end up finding the cards to knock out Trashalanche Garb. You respond by: N’ing them once again, getting the appropriate number of Pokemon onto your bench, turning toxin back on (if it is not already), and hitting for a KO. Note that the best time to use Counter Catcher is usually on either of those two described turns.
Picking a path
In any game where you do not have a very clear lead that you can ride out, your early and mid-game planning should be derived from the knowledge that you will need to make these come-back plays. There will be a turn in every game where you pick a path, choosing between taking a more aggressive approach and the come-back approach. The choice is usually necessary because taking too many prizes can lead to not drawing enough cards when you play the late-game Ns. Although if you are able to set up (and continue to set up) an ample number of Zoroark, then Trade can take away the dilemma. If you can Trade three or four times after playing an N that only draws three cards (for example), your prize count will not hinder you. Your best way to make sure your late-game has flexibility is to never believe you have enough Zoroark in play. The other key factor will be using Klefki/Bursting Balloon wisely. On the turn when you N your opponent to two, you will likely need Abilities on the next turn, making the optimal Tool something that pops off. If you are too quick to use these options earlier in the game, you cannot complete the combo without getting lucky. With that being said, Stretcher gets back Key and Dowsing can recover the Balloon, so you may be able to use those Tool options earlier on and still have access to them later.
What is needed to win when playing aggressively