Three under the radar - Decks for Standard

Hello everyone!

This is Elena from Gaia Storm and it is a pleasure to be here once again. I wanted to write today about the Standard format again but the reality is that if I look at the results, everything keeps revolving around Lugia. Lugia VSTAR is the undisputed tier S in the format and the only way to stop it completely is to tech hard against it, with the risk of losing consistency in the long term. But I promised myself that I wouldn’t talk about Lugia (yet again) so I decided to cover here threeunder the radar” decks that are still a very good and solid option for the remainder of the format. So if you don’t want to play Lugia or any other Lugia Counter deck, this is the article for you! 

1) Palkia Inteleon Toolbox 

I am going to start with my favorite deck and the one I would personally play all the time if the format was not so Lugia-centric. Not so long ago, Palkia was considered the most powerful deck in Standard and it is still a pretty solid option but you need to know how to pilot it as the gameplan radically changes from one matchup to another. You know, the flexibility of water attackers is sometimes a double-edged sword because it provides you with options against basically everything but it forces you to be able to take many different routes depending on the situation. Another very interesting aspect about Palkia VSTAR is that it is one of the few decks thatdependsvery little on luck in a senseInstead of running draw supporters that might (or might not) give you the pieces you need, it relies almost entirely on the Drizzile/Inteleon engine to consistently search what you need. This of course has some drawbacks as there is only a limited number of resources you can access during the game so you need to know your list very well.

Having said all that, this is a sample Palkia deck that I think can be a good pick for different tournaments. As you can see, this is less of a Palkia deck and more like a Palkia Toolbox, in the way that Palkia is there to provide support for other attackers to shine. And what are these attackers? Well, to begin with we have Eiscue, which is an amazing choice in case you face something like Regigigas. Considering that Regigigas no longer run Escape Ropes, it is pretty easy to lock them down with this little friend. Then, another very important card is Articuno, which provides you with the possibility of paralyzing an opponent Pokémon at willThis is very important as it forces your opponent to have a switching card (which are not that popular in certain strategies) or to lose a turn. In fact, you can even push things and keep attacking with Articuno for several turns in a row, building your field and momentum. Articuno is specially relevant in the Lugia match up to trap a big VSTAR in the active position. Last but not least, there is one copy of Crabominable, that is a very interesting pick against very bulky Pokémon that can not be taken down in one hit otherwise, like Duraludon VMAX or even Mewtwo VUNION. It also has a different weakness than Palkia, so it is a nice addition to the deck.

All in all, I think Palkia still hasn’t said their last word in this format so maybe it is a good moment to start getting familiar with it, especially because Pokémon announced that they are going to be releasing a League Battle Deck centered around it! 

2) Ditto Control 

I think we can all agree that Ditto is evil. Well, I mean, not necessarily a bad person (or Pokémon, in this case) but if you look at their face, it is clear that this little morphing guy is not planning anything good. And Ditto control is the perfect representation of how much a player can get to hate Ditto.

This deck is basically a different take on the classicalYveltal control” deck that we’ve seen gaining some popularity over the past few months but with a very interesting twist. Yveltal control is very effective against Lugia and Lost box but at the end of the day has a somewhat limited number of options to disrupt your opponent. Ditto takes disruption to a whole new level adding the possibility to use many more attackers. When Ditto is in the active position, it can “transform” and use any attack from another Basic Pokémon that is on the discard pile. As such, the deck runs a lot of different Pokémon that can create a situation for your opponent and that couldn’t fit in a classical control strategy. For example, Jynx forces your opponent to switch a Pokémon and confuses the new one; Morpeko shuts down one attack at your choice; Calyrex gets you any two cards you need and Sandile (even if the energy cost looks very high) is the perfect endgame card to mill the remaining of your opponent’s deck.

Now, of course, there are some problems you might run into when playing this deck. To begin with, the set up can be a bit difficult and hand disruption in early game is very painful. On the other hand, you only run one-prize Pokémon so even if your opponent is able to start attacking quickly, it might still be very possible to come back. Overall, I think if you want to step away from the classic counter strategies that are focussed around just one deck, this is definitely something you need to try out.

3) Arceus Counters 

Whenever I think about this strategy, the first thing that comes to mind is that song that goes “a little bit of these, a little bit of that” and I think this is a perfect summary of this deck. If you look at this build, it is a bit difficult to understand what is exactly going on but then if you check every Pokémon separately, it starts to make certain sense. We are all very familiar with Arceus strategies and know exactly how they work. They feature Arceus as the starter Pokémon to power up another one that is either more relevant for a certain match-up (Duraludon VMAX, Flying Pikachu) or that can fire a very powerful attack (Giratina VSTAR). TheEverything Arceus”, as I have decided to call this deck, is one that focuses on Arceus and pairs it up with other Pokémon that might help it survive against the most popular decks of the metagameFor example, Aerodactyl is the perfect counter against Lugia, as once it is set up, it is impossible for Lugia to activate their VSTAR ability. Flying Pikachu VMAX is very effective when you face Regigas al, to a certain extent, Palkia. Espeon VMAX is very good against Lost Box because it prevents Sableye from placing damage counters on your board and Empoleon V can also help a lot in that same match up. Lastly, one important aspect of this deck is that it has replaced Cheren’s Care, which is typically the most used healing card, for Hyper Potion. While it is less effective in the sense that it only heals 120 HP, it lets you use another supporter for the turn.

On paper, this deck can literally win against anything in the meta but one-offs and the amount of different basic energies make it difficult to properly set up or, at least, more challenging than a more optimized Arceus built with just one additional attacker.

Once Scarlet & Violet finally arrives, the format will radically change not only because of a new set appearing but also, because rotation will be legal and many cards that define the format will no longer be playable. Until that moment, we are “stuckwith the current situation and with Lugia and Lost Box dominating without opposition but that doesn’t mean you can not play other decks. I hope this article has given you some ideas and that you have a great time trying them out

Thanks for reading

Author: 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.