Hey, Wanna Trade? — Zoroark-GX in Popular Standard Decks

Welcome back to the ‘Beach! It’s an exciting time for a competitive Pokemon Trading Card Game player as we’ve just received two new expansions, Crimson Invasion, and Shining Legends and all the great new cards within them. The first International Championship of the season is coming up super-fast, and another quarter of League Cup events should start popping up any day now. Not only that, but the first wave of stipends for travel to the second International Championship of the year in Australia are going out soon! I hope to earn one with a strong finish at some of the upcoming events I plan on attending, including London, United Kingdom for Internationals, and San Jose, California for Regionals. All of these events will be featuring brand-new formats with a fresh card pool, which I for one am super excited about!

Now back to the topic of sets, perhaps the most hyped new card is Zoroark-GX, and for good reason. It boasts a powerful Ability, Trade, which is a form of built-in consistency for any deck utilizing it. Aside from that, as if that wasn’t enough, it even has a great attack in Righteous Beating! It can serve as a backup attacker in a pinch for any deck using it, which is pretty cool. I like the trend of support Pokemon that can double as attackers themselves lately, most notably Tapu Lele-GX, and now Zoroark-GX.

While I’m not sure that Zoroark-GX is an instant replacement for Octillery and its Abyssal Hand in every deck that played that before, I think it’s a solid option to consider, and weigh the pros and cons to before moving forward with it instead of the tried and true Octillery. The attacking option keeps itching away at me, and for that reason, I think it’s reasonable to think that Zoroark-GX might just be better in a vacuum. Zoroark-GX is pretty awesome. What decks does it fit in? That’s what I’m here to talk to you about today, and now it’s time to find out!

Breaking Down Zoroark-GX

I already went over the good stuff: it’s got an Ability and an attack. Now let’s go over some specifics, with a few direct respects to Octillery and/or Oranguru in comparison (all observations are based on the Standard format).

Pros

  • Can draw you two cards no matter what, your hand does not need to be below a certain number
  • Helps you thin out your deck by discarding cards from your hand as well as discard cards in decks that want certain things in the discard pile
  • Large HP makes it unlikely to be picked off at some point
  • Solid attack in Riotous Beating

Cons

  • Draws only two cards, whereas other options can potentially draw you more than that
  • Not a Basic Pokemon
  • Two Prize liability if your opponent manages to KO it, especially against Gallade
  • With a low hand size of one or two, it can be difficult to discard a card from your hand

TL;DR

Zoroark-GX in my opinion is marginally better than Octillery in most decks. If Oranguru was all you needed before, I wouldn’t make the switch over to Zoroark-GX, but if Octillery was your draw support of choice I would strongly consider this frisky fox. If you’re playing a deck that goes under five cards frequently, Octillery still may be the better choice overall, though.

Zoroark-GX goes well in just anything playing Octillery in the past. It also goes well with decks playing Double Colorless, or anything that needs a consistency boost and wouldn’t mind a backup attacker or just in decks that were already playing Zoroark.

Alolan Ninetales-GX

This is perhaps the most obvious of the landing spots for Zoroark-GX. Its Trade Ability combos very nicely with Aqua Patch, as it’s a built-in means of discarding Water Energy so you can then get them back with your nifty Item. Most Alolan Ninetales-GX decks also played Octillery in the past, so it only makes sense to swap it out for a card that can make things function even smoother. I’ve been playing the deck with Jose Marrero’s straightforward list just opting for maximum consistency.

List

Pokemon (18)

3x Alolan Ninetales-GX (GUR #22)1x Alolan Ninetales (BUS #28)4x Alolan Vulpix (GUR #21)2x Zoroark-GX (SHL #53)2x Zorua (BKT #89)3x Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #60)2x Tapu Koko (PRSM #SM31)1x Espeon-EX (BKP #52)

Trainers (30)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)4x N (FAC #105)3x Guzma (BUS #115)2x Professor Kukui (SM #128)1x Brigette (BKT #134)4x Ultra Ball (SHL #68)4x Choice Band (GUR #121)4x Aqua Patch (GUR #119)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)1x Field Blower (GUR #125)

Energy (12)

8x Water Energy (EVO #93)4x Double Colorless Energy (SHL #69)

Explanations

Four Alolan Vulpix, Three Alolan Ninetales-GX and One Alolan Ninetales

Four of the bottom stage, Alolan Vulpix, is essential. It not only evolves into your main attacker, but provides a great starter for your deck too! You’re never going to use four Alolan Ninetales-GX in a game, and that’s why three is fine. A single Alolan Ninetales provides a nice change of pace attacker with its Ability and can throw a wrench in Pokemon-EX/GX deck’s plans.

Two Zorua and Two Zoroark-GX

A line of two Zorua and two Zoroark-GX is perfect for this deck as it gives you good odds of setting it up quickly to get those Water Energy in the discard pile to pull out with Aqua Patch. Most lists in past played two Octillery, so subbing those out for these makes a lot of sense.

Two Tapu Koko and One Espeon-EX

As your tech attackers, these are not as important to have heavier counts of in your list. Two Tapu Koko, however, is very crucial because it sets up important one-hit Knock Outs. Gardevoir-GX has 230 HP and can be in one-hit Knock Out range of Alolan Ninetales-GX and its Blizzard Edge after just one Flying Flip! You’ll need a Choice Band a Professor Kukui though, but that’s not too hard. Espeon-EX works well in this deck since you have many ways to spread damage around and set up Devolution Knock Outs.

Two Professor Kukui

Having two of these makes it less punishing when you have to discard one of them. Like I talked about in the Tapu Koko section, it’s used in this deck to take Knock Outs on Gardevoir-GX. Amassing a big hand is fine too, since Zoroark-GX can keep adding to it with Trade.

One Field Blower

Stripping Garbodor of its Tool to stop Garbotoxin is always a nice option to have and also against decks using Fighting Fury Belt it’s incredibly useful to remove them to make it easier to take Knock Outs. I don’t think you need more than one since you’re already pretty strong against Garbodor decks anyways, since Riotous Beating can take OHKOs and Alolan Ninetales-GX can offset any damage that’s less than a Knock Out with Ice Path GX.

Options

Jirachi

This card is always great in any deck that has some struggles against Gardevoir-GX. To take OHKOs on your Alolan Ninetales-GX, your opponent is going to have to load up a huge Gardevoir-GX. In response, you can buy time and do some (actually) big damage with Stardust. With a Choice Band down, you’ll be doing 80 damage!

Tapu Fini-GX

Since this deck plays Aqua Patch, you can power up a Tapu Fini-GX out of nowhere to use Hydro Shot. Aqua Ring isn’t that great, but it’s an option as well and Tapu Storm GX can be great in a variety of matchups. Say against Gardevoir-GX your opponent has a huge pile of Energy down, you can go ahead and shuffle that all right back in!

Po Town

This card is always nice to play with anything using Espeon-EX and in this deck, that’s no different. While it can kind of hurt you in a way, usually the damage it does to your opponent is more meaningful. In addition, you can opt to only Evolve on turns when your opponent had gotten rid of your Stadium and then you can play another one right back down!

Matchups

Alolan Ninetales-GX is a pretty solid deck. It has very close matchups all around the board. Its unfavorable ones are still very close, so it reminds me a lot of Yveltal decks of old. They weren’t exactly dominant by any means, but they just managed to scrape by since they were just inherently strong. Metagross-GX is your only terrible matchup, so hopefully you can avoid that if you decide to play this deck for an event.


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