February 27, 2023
Elena (Gaia Storm)
Thisis Elena from Gaia Storm and itis a pleasureto be here once again. I wantedtowritetodayaboutthe Standard formatagainbuttherealityisthatif I look at theresults, everythingkeepsrevolvingaroundLugia. Lugia VSTAR istheundisputedtier S in theformat and theonlywayto stop itcompletelyistotechhardagainstit, withtheriskoflosingconsistency in thelongterm. But I promisedmyselfthat I wouldn’ttalkaboutLugia (yetagain) so I decidedtocoverherethree “underthe radar” decksthat are still a verygood and solidoptionfortheremainderoftheformat. Soifyoudon’twanttoplayLugiaoranyotherLugiaCounterdeck, thisisthearticleforyou!
I am goingtostartwithmy favorite deck and theone I wouldpersonallyplayallthe time iftheformatwasnot so Lugia-centric. Not so longago, Palkiawasconsideredthemostpowerfuldeck in Standard and itisstill a prettysolidoptionbutyouneedtoknowhowtopilotit as thegameplanradicallychangesfromonematchuptoanother. Youknow, theflexibilityofwaterattackersissometimes a double-edgedswordbecauseitprovidesyouwithoptionsagainstbasicallyeverythingbutitforcesyouto be abletotakemanydifferentroutesdependingonthesituation. AnotherveryinterestingaspectaboutPalkia VSTAR isthatitisoneofthefewdecksthat “depends” verylittleonluck in a sense. Insteadof running drawsupportersthatmight (ormightnot) giveyouthepiecesyouneed, itreliesalmostentirelyontheDrizzile/Inteleonenginetoconsistentlysearchwhatyouneed. Thisofcourse has somedrawbacks as thereisonly a limitednumberofresourcesyou can accessduringthegame so youneedtoknowyourlistverywell.
Havingsaidallthat, thisis a samplePalkiadeckthat I think can be a good pick fordifferenttournaments. As you can see, thisislessof a Palkiadeck and more like a PalkiaToolbox, in thewaythatPalkiaistheretoprovidesupportforotherattackerstoshine. And what are theseattackers? Well, tobeginwithwehaveEiscue, whichisanamazingchoice in case youfacesomethinglikeRegigigas. ConsideringthatRegigigas no longer run Escape Ropes, itisprettyeasytolockthemdownwiththislittlefriend. Then, anotherveryimportantcardisArticuno, whichprovidesyouwiththepossibilityofparalyzinganopponent Pokémon at will. Thisisveryimportant as itforcesyouropponenttohave a switchingcard (which are notthat popular in certainstrategies) orto lose a turn. In fact, you can evenpushthings and keepattackingwithArticunoforseveralturns in a row, buildingyourfield and momentum. Articunoisspeciallyrelevant in theLugia match up totrap a big VSTAR in the active position. Lastbutnotleast, thereisonecopyofCrabominable, thatis a veryinteresting pick againstverybulky Pokémon that can not be takendown in one hit otherwise, likeDuraludon VMAX oreven Mewtwo VUNION. Italso has a differentweaknessthanPalkia, so itis a niceadditiontothedeck.
All in all, I thinkPalkiastillhasn’tsaidtheirlastword in thisformat so maybeitis a goodmomenttostartgetting familiar withit, especiallybecause Pokémon announcedthatthey are goingto be releasing a League BattleDeckcenteredaroundit!
2) Ditto Control
I thinkwe can allagreethatDittoisevil. Well, I mean, notnecessarily a badperson (or Pokémon, in this case) butifyou look at theirface, itisclearthatthislittlemorphingguyisnotplanninganythinggood. And Ditto control istheperfectrepresentationofhowmuch a player can gettohateDitto.
Thisdeckisbasically a differenttakeontheclassical “Yveltal control” deckthatwe’veseengainingsomepopularityoverthepastfewmonthsbutwith a veryinteresting twist. Yveltal control isveryeffectiveagainstLugia and Lost box but at theendoftheday has a somewhatlimitednumberofoptionstodisruptyouropponent. Dittotakesdisruptionto a whole new leveladdingthepossibilityto use many more attackers. WhenDittois in the active position, it can “transform” and use anyattackfromanother Basic Pokémon thatisonthediscard pile. As such, thedeckruns a lotofdifferent Pokémon that can create a situationforyouropponent and thatcouldn’tfit in a classical control strategy. Forexample, Jynxforcesyouropponentto switch a Pokémon and confuses the new one; Morpekoshutsdownoneattack at yourchoice; Calyrexgetsyouanytwocardsyouneed and Sandile (eveniftheenergycost looks veryhigh) istheperfectendgamecardtomilltheremainingofyouropponent’sdeck.
Now, ofcourse, there are someproblemsyoumight run intowhenplayingthisdeck. Tobeginwith, the set up can be a bit difficult and handdisruption in earlygameisverypainful. Ontheotherhand, youonly run one-prize Pokémon so evenifyouropponentisabletostartattackingquickly, itmightstill be verypossibleto come back. Overall, I thinkifyouwantto step awayfromtheclassiccounterstrategiesthat are focussedaroundjustonedeck, thisisdefinitelysomethingyouneedto try out.
Whenever I thinkaboutthisstrategy, thefirstthingthat comes tomindisthatsongthatgoes “a little bit ofthese, a little bit ofthat” and I thinkthisis a perfectsummaryofthisdeck. Ifyou look at thisbuild, itis a bit difficulttounderstandwhatisexactlygoingonbutthenifyoucheckevery Pokémon separately, itstartstomakecertainsense. We are allvery familiar withArceusstrategies and knowexactlyhowtheywork. TheyfeatureArceus as the starter Pokémon topower up anotheronethatiseither more relevantfor a certain match-up (Duraludon VMAX, FlyingPikachu) orthat can fire a verypowerfulattack (Giratina VSTAR). The “EverythingArceus”, as I havedecidedtocallthisdeck, isonethatfocusesonArceus and pairsit up withother Pokémon thatmighthelpitsurviveagainstthemost popular decksofthemetagame. Forexample, AerodactylistheperfectcounteragainstLugia, as once itis set up, itisimpossibleforLugiatoactivatetheir VSTAR ability. FlyingPikachu VMAX isveryeffectivewhenyoufaceRegigas al, to a certainextent, Palkia. Espeon VMAX isverygoodagainstLost Box becauseitpreventsSableyefromplacingdamagecountersonyourboard and Empoleon V can alsohelp a lot in thatsame match up. Lastly, oneimportantaspectofthisdeckisthatit has replacedCheren’s Care, whichistypicallythemostusedhealingcard, forHyperPotion. Whileitislesseffective in thesensethatitonlyheals 120 HP, itletsyou use anothersupporterfortheturn.
Onpaper, thisdeck can literallywinagainstanything in the meta butone-offs and theamountofdifferentbasicenergiesmakeitdifficulttoproperly set up or, at least, more challengingthan a more optimizedArceusbuiltwithjustoneadditionalattacker.
Once Scarlet & Violetfinallyarrives, theformatwillradicallychangenotonlybecauseof a new set appearingbutalso, becauserotationwill be legal and manycardsthat define theformatwill no longer be playable. Untilthatmoment, we are “stuck” withthecurrentsituation and withLugia and Lost Box dominatingwithoutoppositionbutthatdoesn’t mean you can notplayotherdecks. I hope thisarticle has givenyousome ideas and thatyouhave a great time tryingthemout.
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.