Gardevoir ex: The Standard deck that does everything | Pokémon

When Scarlet and Violet released and the rotation happened, there was a general sense of uncertainty. What decks were going to be on top? Which are going to lose their place in the metagame? Well, some time has passed already and all it takes is to look at the official tournament results to see what the metagame looks like.

Gardevoir ex has consolidated as one of the most popular and best strategies for this season, rightfully so. In this article, we are going to be taking a look at the deck, analyzing its advantages and disadvantages against the rest of the format and see what the future holds for everyone’s favorite Psychic-type Pokémon.  

Pokémon: What makes Gardevoir ex so good in Standard?

When Gardevoir ex was first announced, I must confess I was a bit shocked by the amount of people that labeled the card as a "decent one" at the best. Of course, I understand that it is not broken per se, but the ability and the stats were just so good that I couldn’t understand that it wouldn’t immediately become one of the strongest decks in the format.

Let’s start by taking a proper look at the card. Gardevoir ex is a stage 2, Psychic-type Pokémon with a ton of HP (330) and a crazy ability. Once Gardevoir is in the field, it basically allows the player to attach as many Psychic energies from the discard pile as they want at the cost of placing 2 damage counters for each energy attached this way. Yes, I know, placing damage counters does not sound great but when you have the possibility to cheat the game that hard, this is something I’d gladly take.

I’ve always said that the abilities or effects that let you "cheat the game" are the most powerful ones and this is for a reason. What I mean by "cheating the game" is being able to go beyond the normal restrictions like playing one energy per turn or having to pay the retreat cost to promote another Pokémon. With Gardevoir, you don’t have to worry about energies: Send them to the discard pile and place them wherever they are needed, whenever you need. And this, to me, is incredible.

If Gardevoir itself was not good enough, there is another reason why the deck is so solid and it is called Kirlia. Unlike many other stages 1 (that you kinda want to avoid playing because you want to be able to use Rare Candy as soon as possible). Kirlia from Silver Tempest is a really cool card that lets you discard one card and draw two once per turn. This means that it is actually quite advantageous to have and maintain several Kirlias in play and that the dependance on Rare Candies is not as big as for the rest of decks that rely on a Stage 2 to work. 

Perhaps the most repeated argument that Gardevoir ex’s detractors had was that the Psychic attackers available in the current format are not broken but I am going to argue that they are more than enough (in fact, if we had better attackers, there would be nothing standing between Gardevoir ex and the undisputed tier S).

Zacian V can KO everything that is under 360 HP (I can’t think of any single Pokémon that has more than that), mini Gardevour from Chiling Reign can also destroy V Pokémon on its own and Cresselia is able to heal your bench while moving damage to a Pokémon of your choice. And let’s not forget you can always attack with Gardevoir ex itself and deal quite some damage, even though it won’t be probably enough to pick the one hit KO on another ex/V Pokémon.

And last but not least, Gardevoir benefits from having one of the most consistent engines in the entire format, with endless options to search for Pokémon and energies: Level Ball, Fog Crystal, Ultra Ball and Battle VIP Pass. In a nutshell, everything in your deck can search anything. So, if we combine a great ability, with a great evolution line, with powerful attackers and great searching cards, the result can’t be better.

Pokémon: What is Gardevoir ex's place in the metagame?

As of now, Gadevoir is, in my opinion, one of the best decks in the entire game. In fact, I think the only other deck that is in the same tier as Gardevoir in terms of power and consistency is Lost Box. But Gardevoir has a small, big big problem. While it can beat almost anything, it really struggles to beat Lost Box, which is the other most popular deck in the game. So … can you be a tier 1 deck if you lose against the other tier 1 deck? That is kind of the debate going on right now.

The reality is that Gardevoir has been getting great results worldwide. In fact, it was very close to winning the European International Championship but Arceus prevented it from happening. Here is the list of Norwegian player Tord Recklev piloted during the event and the one that can be considered now the most extended standard build.

Gardevoir ex by Tord Recklev

Pokémon (18)

3 Ralts ASR
1 Ralts SIT
4 Kirlia SIT
2 Gardevoir ex SVI
1 Gardevoir CRE
2 Zacian V CEL
1 Cresselia LOR
1 Mew CEL
1 Radiant Greninja ASR
1 Manaphy BRS
1 Lumineon V BRS

Trainer (30)

4 Professor's Research SVI
1 Judge SVI
1 Roxanne ASR

1 Worker SIT
1 Miriam SVI
1 Boss's Orders BRS
1 Penny SVI
4 Battle VIP Pass FST
4 Level Ball BST
3 Fog Crystal CRE
3 Ultra Ball SVI
2 Rare Candy SVI
1 Pal Pad SVI
1 Sky Seal Stone CRZ
1 Temple of Sinnoh ASR
1 Collapsed Stadium BRS

Energy (12)

12 Psychic Energy

I think this list is as consistent as any Gardevoir list can ever get. It has a lot of searching options, Lumineon V to maximize the odds of setting up when needed and Penny to counter a potential Mawile lock in late game.

Now, with this build in mind, how does Gardevoir do against the rest of the meta?

  • Mew VMAX: I would say this one is often favored because, in an ideal situation, you only need two attacks to win (Zacian + Sky Seal Stone to KO a Mew VMAX and a KO on a benched Genesect). You might struggle against Path to the Peak + Judge in early game but there are many chances of you drawing your way out. If you go against the Mew Meloetta build and they start attacking on their turn 1, it might be difficult to come back into the game though.
  • Goodra VSTAR: Unless they are running a 1-1 line of Vulpix, this one should be very winnable because you hit harder than what Goodra can heal.
  •  Arceus variants: Depends on the build they run and who goes first. Against the Giratina version you can struggle because they run V-Guard energy so the best option here is to try to power up a Zacian V as soon as possible and try to get a turn 2 KO (which, I know, is not easy).
  • Lugia VSTAR: Lugia is way more inconsistent and you should be able to trade prizes very well with your non-ex attackers. Tyranitar V can be difficult to deal with if they are able to power it up in the second turn but that is not something that happens very often.
  • Lost Box: Bad. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Can Gardevoir win against Lost Box? Yes, it can. But it is not the matchup you want to play in the final round of a tournament. Gardevoir has chances if they are able to start attacking in turn 2 and if they are able to hit Penny in the right moment but Lost Box is extremely effective at taking an early lead and, sometimes, by the time you have your board ready it is very difficult to come back into the game. Again, I am not saying it is unwinnable but definitely a very challenging matchup to navigate.

Gardevoir ex: Can you tech for specific matchups?

The thing with Gardevoir is that the deck is already pretty stacked and there is little room to include tech cards without hurting consistency. I am always in favor of playing the 60 cards that will ensure you draw well during every round rather than trying to come up with ways to counter a strategy that you might or might not face during a tournament. But having said that, there are options available when it comes to playing Gardevoir.

  • Klefki (Scarlet & Violet): This card can be incorporated if you are really, really scared of facing Lost Box, but bear in mind that you will need to set up at least 2 of them in early game so that they can’t use Escape Rope. And then of course, the issue with this play is that if you use your resources to set up Klefki, you are not benching Ralts …
  • Drifloon (Scarlet & Violet): I actually think this card is better than most people think, as it is a very decent one-prize attacker that can deal with any other one-prize attacker in the format. The only problem is that its HP are really low so it is not ideal against something like Lost Box.
  • Path to the Peak (Chilling Reign): This is actually a very concrete card for very concrete matchup. The idea is to power up a Zacian V, slap Path to the Peak down and hit Vulpix VSTAR to get a KO. It does a very good job in this scenario, but might be useful against other decks. .
  • Mewtwo V-Union (Sword and Shield Promo): This is not exactly a tech card since it forces you to build your deck in an entirely different way but if you are able to set up a Mewtwo V-UNION, you should have a very favored matchup against Lost Box all of the sudden. The downsides, you ask? Mewtwo’s version is more inconsistent so I would only play it over a standard Gardevoir build if you consider you are going to be facing 90% of Lost Box in your tournament.

Will Gardevoir still be good with Paldea Evolved?

The next Pokémon expansion (Paldea Evolved)  is just around the corner and Gardevoir is looking stronger than ever. I am not the one saying it, it is common sense and what the Japanese metagame (where they are already using the new cards) has been telling us for a while. This is an image from one of the most important Japanese Twitter accounts that sums up how things are looking like in their region. According to tournament data. Gardevoir is the most popular and powerful deck, followed by Lugia, Arceus and Lost Box variants.

It is true, however, that this information needs to be taken with a pinch of salt because Japanese metagame often tends to differ from ours, so I am curious to see if Gardevoir is really the best positioned deck in the entire format and the latest results show.

The truth is that Gardevoir ex is getting amazing new additions from Paldea Evolved. I am not going to go over them in a lot of detail (maybe that is something we can analyze next!) but there are some great cards that contribute a lot to the strategy. For example, Super Rod is a perfect recycling option, much better than Mimi; Reversal Energy can help you do incredible amounts of damage and turn the tables upside down and Iono is just THE card of the format, ensuring you have a much better matchup against Lost Box variants.

Gardevoir ex: Conclusion

Gardevoir is undeniably a good deck already and the only reason why it is not played more heavily is because it has a lot of problems to deal with Lost Box strategies. However, it is one of the most consistent decks in the entire format and it will only get better with the new expansion. It also has the capability to modulate the game plan according to the circumstances and everything points out that it is going to be the deck to beat very soon. So, if you are a Gardevoir fan, enjoy, because this is your time to shine!

Autor: Elena (Gaia Storm)

Elena has been playing Pokémon Trading Card Game since 2011 and has never stopped. With her partner, she runs Gaia Storm, one of the largest Pokémon TCG Youtube channels in the world. She has a problem remembering the names of all the Pokémon but tends to open the most broken Pokémon packs.