Today I’m going to look at Viable Pokémon EX and GX in the Standard format. Expanded has several gems that shine but they are usually quite niche within their own deck types.
This post idea was partially inspired by a reddit post on r/pkmntcg.
Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends aren’t really discussed since there has not been any major events where they’ve both been legal yet! The next big event will be Internationals at London (which I’m unable to go to this year 🙁 ) When I next do an article on Viable Pokémon it will include these and probably the next set!
Anyway, without further ado –
Viable Pokémon EX:
As per the heading, viable pokemon that are EXs from before the Sun & Moon sets.
Regirock-EX FCO – Used on the bench to add +10 damage. However Fighting isn’t featuring heavily at the moment and even then there’s usually better ways to get more damage that doesn’t rely on an ability in a Garbotoxin meta.
Darkrai-EX BKP – Rarely used in standard at the moment but still a key component of a Darkrai based deck.
Espeon-EX BKP – Used as a 1 of tech in certain decks (Espeon-GX/Garb or Drampa-GX/Garb) for the devolving attack. Often seen in decks with Po Town since re-evolving means another round of damage counters.
Pokémon-GX that ‘never’ see competitive play:
Never is a strong word but at the moment it seems correct! This may change in the future of course, but for the moment these aren’t seen as competitivly viable Pokémon.
Kommo-o is possibly the only ‘non-viable’ card on the list due to lack of Double Dragon Energy but the rest are not very competitive or are relatively lack lustre in the current state of the game. Arguably ‘counter energy’ from Crimson Invasion works as DDE although it’s a bit more conditional than the traditional DDE. The Prism Quad Energy might also work but is still a corner case.
Toxapex – people want it to work but it is rather clunky and the 3 Psychic attack cost is prohibitive.
Umbreon – a tricksy card with some interesting effects on its attacks. However sadly it loses out on raw power compared to other ‘mons and also on utility compared to Sylveon or Espeon. The low damage output for the energy investment leaves Umbreon a relatively uncompetitive choice outside of a dedicated energy denial deck.
Noivern – I want to like this card since it is Seismitoad 2.0 but lack of DDE and odd colour requirements (Psychic and Dark) means that for the moment it’s relegated to the sidelines. Update: I did end up facing one at our League Challenge which was interesting. Weakness to Fairy does hurt though!
Random off-meta/rogue Pokémon-GX:
These are Pokémon-GX that are not terrible, or only feature as an option in some main decks, or feature as a counter to certain other decks.
Wishiwashi, Marshadow – they may have a use but are better in expanded decks where they can be a little bit more viable.
Raichu – People are trying to make it work and it is a Stage 1 compared to Gardevoir-GX being a stage 2. (Also early days since it is from Shining Legends.)
Gumshoos – counters Gardevoir-GX and was included in some finalists decks recently for that very reason.
Alolan Muk – Needs a deck built around its conditions and a way to capitalise on them. Could pair well with Raticate BREAK.
Darkrai – Part of the Darkrai deck, also works in expanded.
Solgaleo – not in the ‘never’ pile because it counters Gardevoir and has a decent ability and GX attack. Still quite niche, paired with Metagross. The new one in January will be the killer.
Lycanroc – the literal rogue deck, bloodthirsty eyes is a free Lysandre effect while the GX attack can punish an unaware opponent. Combine with Regirock-EX for much lolz! This card has become popular as a partner with Zoroark-GX as it also counters enemy Zoroarks.
Vikivolt – can be included in Vikivolt/Bulu as a backup attacker.
Thoroughly Viable Pokémon that are included in some deck types as a 1 or 2 count or as a secondary attacker in competitive decks.
Espeon – combine with Garb for a Psychic shenanigans deck. Turn 1 Eevee to Espeon and hit with the Confuse Ray is a solid play.
Tapu Koko – fits into Vikivolt/Bulu or some people replace the Bulu all together. Can jump in late game, steal all the energy and hit you when you least expect it. Like most of the Tapu-GXs it has no weakness.
Necrozma – Included for Black Ray GX – if you think its worth 3 energy. Cat sticks this in Golisopod to put pretty much everything in One Hit KO range. Also good in expanded thanks to Dimension Valley reducing the cost of it’s attacks.
Decidueye – fallen out of favour but still viable, especially in baby Alolan Ninetales decks. 99% of the time its for Feather Arrow.
Lurantis – used to be combined with Golisopod, though fallen out of favour at the moment.
Tauros – features more in Expanded I think, but some decks include it for its versatility of 3 different attacks for a DCE. Gets stronger as it gets injured which is nice too!
Sylveon – although a decktype by itself (Quad Sylveon Box), it used to feature heavily in Gardevoir decks. The Energy Eeveelution ability and Magical Ribbon ability for 1 Fairy energy makes this a great Turn 1 play (especially if you go 2nd!)
Archetype Defining Pokémon-GX:
These aren’t just Viable Pokémon, these GX’s are so good that they have a whole deck archetype centred around them!
Tapu Bulu – (Vikivolt/Bulu) Extremely consistent damage and setup with some built in resilience in the form of a healing GX attack. Probably the lower end of the top tier but one you have to be able to beat.
Metagross – It hard-counters Gardevoir although it’s not guaranteed since Gardevoir is more consistent. It can be clunky and brick up if things go wrong. The max 180 damage cap is also quite painful although this is easier to swallow with 250hp and Max Potions. Includes lots of switcheroos to get rid of the ‘can’t attack next turn’ penalty.
Gardevoir – Arguably the best deck in format at the moment. Has optional techs to improve consistency (Sylveon, Octillery) and hits for ‘bigger-numbers-that-you’ almost all of the time. However it is still beatable and not an easy deck to ‘pilot’ requiring skill to use effectively. I’ve tried testing it many times and I still lose because I’m not very good at using it yet! Update: I managed to go 4-0-0 at a league Challenge with this on 11/11/17
Golisopod – relatively tough stage 1 that has several attack options. Most of the time it’s hitting for 120 for 1 Grass which is excellent value for energy. Needs the deck built around supporting it but still has room for things like Garbodor and even promo Tapu Koko for free retreating shenanigans. Crossing cut GX and a choice band can take a KO and keep it safe for another turn of switcheroo shenanigans.
Turtonator /Ho-Oh/Salazzle – A variety of the fire archetypes, usually includes some Volcanion-EX to help with the damage output. Turtonator vs Ho-Oh is more of a meta call, there’s almost no electric in the format (yet) but Ho-Oh does need 4 energy to properly attack compared to Turtonators 3, AND Ho-Oh can’t use the big attack next turn. Salazzle an option for late game KOs when you get down to your last couple of prizes and need to pull ahead.
Ninetales – another 210 hp stage 1 with decent attacks. The support that water has is really good with aqua patch so it can power up quickly. The Ice Path GX damage swap can also help keep you going. Usually includes a baby Alolan Ninetales to help against pesky EX/GX decks. Needs to watch out for Metagross though!
Drampa – There’s very little fighting in the meta at the moment so weakness isn’t an issue – exceptions being Gallade in Gardevoir, Lycanrock-GX in Zoroark and Buzzwole-GX. A good early game GX attack to net you 10 cards is helpful and it has a variety of partners in the game. Drampa can also be splashed as a tech in quite a few decks and can be quite threatening as a result. Probably the most played of these cards outside of a dedicated deck archetype for good reason.
It’s worth mentioning in an article about Viable Pokémon – Tapu Lele-GX
Almost all competitive decks have 2-4 (usually 3) copies of Tapu Lele-GX because it’s that good (broken!) Literally its only flaw is its’ 170HP. It has no weakness and an excellent retreat cost of 1.
The Power Drive attack only requires 1 DCE and in a format where a lot of energy is required it can really punish an opponent. Especially against things like Gardevoir GX or Fire decks. I have ‘donked’ several opponents who have played a 60hp Pokémon (eg Alolan Vulpix) attached an energy. My turn I attach a DCE and then hit for 60 for KO. Not a common occurrence, but still occasional enough that even starting with it isn’t the end of the world.
The Wonder Tag ability alone enables several strategies involving things like Kiawe for fire types or Bridgette for decks that require a rapid set up. As long as you have access to a Tapu Lele-GX (or the means to get one via an Ultra Ball for example) then you can get established quickly.
The only real downside is the financial cost, however this is beginning to drop (as I think it’s hitting saturation point) and since it can be used in all of your decks it’s worth investing in. I do need to do an article about actual real-world costs at some point soon. However the very fact that you can use it in any of your decks means that it’s not a wasted investment if you play at all competitively.
Too soon to say:
The new Crimson Invasion (CRI) and Shining Legends hasn’t really been tested in the crucible of battle yet although Zoroark-GX is looking popular and I’m sure people will be gunning to use the new Ultra Beasts where possible. More will be revealed in the upcoming London Internationals I’m sure!