Hi everyone! I’m Charmander, a long time lurker of this site. This is my very first Pokemon article. Unfortunately, due to work commitments I am unable to play in regular events and have resorted to playing on the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online (PTCGO). Without the time to stay up to date with Standard/Expanded, I have found a comfortable place playing in the HGSS-on format, also known as Unlimited on PTCGO.
Why even bother playing HGSS-on anyway? Isn’t it full of Shiftry? Well, HGSS-on gives you a slightly larger card pool than Expanded and allows you to be more creative when constructing a deck. In this blog post, I will give you an insight into a Wobbuffet / Primal Groudon-EX deck that destroys Shiftry as well as most other decks in the format. A similar concept has also done well in the Expanded and 2015’s Standard formats and if you’re familiar with those, you may enjoy this version too. My initial iteration of this deck came about when Forest of Giant Plants spawned the toxic Shiftry decks. For those who are unaware, Shiftry’s Giant Fan Ability can be used to remove all of the Pokemon on an Opponent’s field on the first turn of the game and it’s really easy with cards to reuse the Ability. Most Shiftry players will immediately scoop to the deck in this article so if you’re looking for some easy Versus points, continue reading. I once had 13 Shiftry decks in a row, before Celebi and Sableye were released, and had 11 instant scoops and two easy wins.
In this article, we’ll look at a normal list, thoughts on card choices, alternative card options, a few tips and tricks, and how to play the deck against certain match ups.
A complete list
Here is my list that solely focuses on getting out the Primal Groudon-EX with no other tech Pokemon. In my opinion, this is all we need for the deck.
Apart from Computer Search and Tropical Beach, there should be no card on the list (at lowest rarity) that is worth more than two standard online packs (even the old Trainers). Most people should have a Computer Search already and Beaches can be replaced with inexpensive alternatives. This should be a pretty cheap deck to try out, especially if you already own a good portion of the deck.
You may immediately notice the extremely small number of Pokemon in this list; furthermore, we only have 4 Basic Pokemon. There may be a number of mulligans at the start of the game but this is a small price to pay to ensure that you start with Wobbuffet 100% of the time. As Shiftry is the primary threat in the format, a Wobbuffet often forces a Shiftry player to concede straight away as they cannot use their Giant Fan Ability. In addition, Wobbuffet slows down almost every other deck as they are unable to use the Abilities of Pokemon that are not Psychic-type. Note that Unown and Hoopa-EX are able to be used as normal, and you are not able to prevent older cards with a Poke-POWER or Poke-BODY, such as Smeargle or the older version of Vileplume.
Primal Groudon-EX is your primary attacker. Your aim is to power it up with four Energy and to OHKO everything in your way. The base damage of Gaia Volcano is increased from 100 to 200 when there is a Stadium in play and it can even be your opponent’s Stadium! Strong Energy also helps increase damage, especially useful to take out tanky non-EX Pokemon while conserving your Stadia. As well as its huge damage, the other strength of this Pokemon is its Ancient Trait – Omega Barrier. This Ancient Trait prevents the effects of any of your Opponent’s Trainer cards that target it. This means Primal Groudon-EX is immune to annoying things like Hypnotoxic Laser, Crushing Hammer, Lost Remover and being Lysandre‘d from the Bench. Be mindful that a Primal Groudon-EX in the Active position may be moved to the Bench by an Opponent’s Lysandre. Also, if you have a Wobbuffet Active and a Primal Groudon-EX on the Bench, an Opponent’s Escape Rope may swap their positions.
Other worthy considerations for inclusion are Archeops, Machamp (Prime) and possibly Gallade. Archeops is most useful against Vespiquen as well as hindering Shiftry, Eeveelutions, Donphan, Bats and Megas. However, by starting with Wobbuffet every game, Primal Groudon-EX is a greater priority and Archeops won’t become useful until you have moved Wobbuffet from the Active position. Machamp is an alternate non-EX attacker that tries to get more use of your attached Energy in the game. Its Poke-POWER allows it to take the Energy from a damaged Primal Groudon-EX, and is also not stopped by anything that targets Abilities. The best use for this card is to deal with EX immunity effects such as Regice or Klinklang.
This deck focuses on a Maxie’s engine to get Primal Groudon-EX into play, however this is different from a typical Archie’s/Maxie’s engine you would see. Firstly, we use Wobbuffet so we do not have the help of cards such as Shaymin-EX, Jirachi-EX, or Exeggcute. We have expected cards like Battle Compressor and VS Seeker. The biggest difference here is that we have Junk Arm to reuse all our Items. This, along with Ultra Balland Computer Search allow us to search out cards but most importantly, play the hand down to just the Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. There are a few extra consistency-boosting Item cards to help, potentially reused with Junk Arms. You may also like Acro Bike and/or consider adding a 4th Junk Arm to the list.
You may have noticed there is an extremely low count of Supporters in the list, especially draw Supporters. I believe this is justified because of the high amount of Item draw, combined with VS Seekers and Junk Arms to get back Supporters. After Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, our other methods of drawing are Professor Juniper, Professor Oak's New Theory and N, used situationally.
Hex Maniac is great when Primal Groudon-EX is Active and you no longer have Wobbuffet shutting down Abilities. To defeat Shiftry without using Archeops, all you need is Hex Maniac. It’s also an important way to deal with Safeguarders or Aegislash-EX.
Pokémon Center Lady is your savior when Primal Groudon-EX runs into any Special Condition trouble as well as keeping it healthy.
Lysandre's Trump Card is legal in this format and we need it since the deck draws rather quickly. It saves you from decking out but can also allow you to reuse resources. This deck features many low counts of cards used to face certain Opponents but without being built specifically to counter de other than Shiftry, so sometimes LTC should be used to reuse these cards.
Using Mega Turbo and Junk Arm allows us to power up a Primal Groudon-EX extremely quick. This usually catches people off guard if they are familiar with how slow it is in Standard and Expanded.
Lost Remover is incredibly good in this format. While Enhanced Hammer only moves a Special Energy into the Discard Pile, Lost Remover will move it into the Lost Zone never to return again even if a player has played Lysandre’s Trump Card. Many decks use Special Energy, such as Vespiquen and Lost Remover with Junk Arms is a way of dealing with them.
Hard Charm is a great card overall to make your Primal Groudon-EX even tankier. When you go against a deck that threatens a OHKO, attach the Focus Sash instead. Another option instead of Hard Charm is the newer Assault Vest, however we play Lost Remover so it is not advised to play both Assault Vest and Lost Remover. Muscle Band could also be an addition to the deck, to get easier KOs on high-HP non-EXs, Megas or to use on Wobbuffet for an alternate attacker.
Unfortunately, Primal Groudon-EX is susceptible to Team Flare Tools so there is a Tool Scrapper. It’s also generally useful for removing Muscle Band, Float Stone, Rock Guard, Life Dew or the new Fighting Fury Belt from your Opponent’s Pokemon.
With the recent release of Puzzle of Time, I delayed this post to play around with the list to see if it would be useful. This deck typically operates in the a particular order: draw cards to set up Groudon then attack while setting up another Groudon or Trump Card to recycle the deck. In this deck, you would probably ideally use a minimum of four Junk Arm and three Puzzle of Time. This does require some extra space. The problems we have are that the extra space would mean you would have to cut early game draw cards which are essential for setting up a Primal Groudon-EX. Secondly, we always have Trump Card to get back resources and the draw power to draw into them. With plenty of games in this format, I have not seen any other Groudon players using it. Therefore, I don’t believe it is a suitable card for the deck.
Four Stadia in the list might not seem much but we are also able to utilise the Opponent’s Stadia and use Lysandre’s Trump Card to get them all back. The two Tropical Beach are really great early game. You can use it to draw cards when your Primal Groudon-EX is not attacking. There are only two so that you have a better chance to play your hand down for the Maxie’s. Scorched Earth provides an alternative way to draw without ending your turn. The Beaches are expensive in value so if you cannot use them, I’d have another Scorched Earth, Battle City and/or another Stadium mentioned in the following paragraph (different Stadia if possible).
Finally, Ruins Of Alph is played primarily for the M Rayquaza-EX match up to take away its Resistance and make it easier to OHKO. It also has a use to attack Shiftry with Wobbuffet. You could also use Magnetic Storm but this is a more common card, even if not that common, so it slightly reduces your chance to play your hand down if the Opponent has one in play. I also believe Fighting Stadium has a greater potential to help your Opponent which is why I chose Ruins of Alph over it. However, it can be useful for easier KOs in the mirror match or other high HP Pokemon. One other good option to consider is a Silent Lab as another way of dealing with Safeguard Pokemon but if Wobbuffet is Active, the Stadium will shut off its Ability. Also remember that it will not affect any Poke-BODY or Poke-POWER.
Strong Energy helps add damage so we need all four that we can use. There is a total of 6 Basic Energy which enables us to Mega Turbo our Primal Groudon-EX. One Psychic Energy also allows us to attack with Wobbuffet. Generally, you want to attack with Primal Groudon-EX but attacking with Wobbuffet is not as silly as it seems. If Primal-Groudon whiffs a Stadium, the Psychic Assault attack can easily finish something off. It can also take advantage of an Opponent’s Dimension Valley.
General Tips and Tricks
- Early game Battle Compressors should go for at least one Primal Groudon-EX, usually a Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick and a VS Seeker, Basic Energy, or a draw Supporter if you are struggling. If you get a Junk Arm, you can play your hand down, grab the VS Seeker for Maxie’s for Primal Groudon-EX.
- After the first Battle Compressor, you will want to discard some of your Basic Energy, your remaining Maxie’s and Primal Groudon-EX and anything you feel you don’t need for the match up. This could be Hex Maniac or Focus Sash if you are not threatened by Abilities or OHKOs.
- If you get or know you will get a Primal Groudon-EX in play, try to get a Tropical Beach to help set up your next turn.
- A Battle Compressor and Junk Arm in hand can get you any Item or Supporter, and if your Computer Search is available, you can grab anything!
- You should always aim to force your Opponent to win seven prizes. Either play three Wobbuffet and two Primal Groudon-EX, or sometimes five and one. Don’t bench any extra Wobbuffet that you do not need, except if it is to get out a Primal Groudon-EX and will advance your board state.
- Furthermore, in dire situations you can Bench five Wobbuffet (after a Lysandre’s Trump Card is played) and 2 Primal Groudon-EX. When the first Primal Groudon-EX is about to get KO’d, you can Switch/Retreat into the other one and usually not worry about the damaged one being switched back.
- Be careful with your turn timer. Some turns require many actions. An experienced player should never run out of time but inexperienced players may take longer and risk running out of time. This is nowhere as slow as playing Sableye / Garbodor.
- Your first deck search will allow you to note the number of certain cards you have at your disposal. Important counts to keep track of at the start are the Pokemon, Maxie’s and Lysandre’s Trump Card. Also, it is advised to note your counts of Switch, Escape Rope and all Stadia. Later, it is important to keep track of the number of Basic Energy, VS Seekers and Junk Arms. If you have LTC prized, you’ll have to play more conservatively until you get it out of the Prizes. Late game, you’ll have to keep track of VS Seekers and Junk Arms to see how many times you can reuse Supporters or Items, or if you need to play LTC.
- Your Primal Groudon-EX usually cannot be dragged up from the Bench, so you can be patient and only attack when you are ready and able to put pressure on your Opponent with early Prizes or removing big threats.
Meta Match Ups
Now, the HGSS-on format is pretty crazy but there are many decks that you will come across more than once. I’ll explain how to face certain match ups that you are likely to meet in this format.
Shiftry – Autowin
The deck is mainly built to counter Shiftry so if you lose against this, something has gone seriously wrong. Many Shiftry players will automatically scoop once they see a Wobbuffet in the Active position. Some Shiftry decks use Mewtwo-EX, Double Colorless Energy and Muscle Band to counter Wobbuffet or any Pokemon with the Theta Stop Ancient Trait. This can easily be countered by removing all their DCEs with Lost Remover. In these cases, just be patient. Power up your Primal Groudon-EX as normal and repeatedly use Hex Maniac once you start attacking with it. Alternatively, play Archeops. You must have at least one other benched Wobbuffet or else the Shiftry player can use Seeker to force Primal Groudon-EX off the field. If there is a turn where you cannot get another use of Hex Maniac, through VS Seeker and Junk Arm, remember that you can just simply Retreat back into a Wobbuffet.
Wobbuffet / Primal Groudon-EX mirror – Even
In a mirror match, the result comes down to skill and the use of Focus Sash. Whoever attacks first gains the first Prizes but risks losing their Primal Groudon-EX. Focus Sash is key in this match up although we have only one. Should this be prized, Hard Charm (or Assault Vest) may also allow you to survive a hit. You need to get out two Primal Groudon-EX and reuse your Focus Sash.
Mega Rayquaza-EX (Colorless) – Slightly favourable
Although you slow them down by preventing Shaymin-EX’s Set Up Ability, cards like Hoopa-EX and Winona can still help them to set up. Your strategy for this match up is to be patient until you are able to do enough damage with Primal Groudon-EX to OHKO a Mega Rayquaza-EX. It has 220HP with -20 Resistance to Fighting-types so you’ll need Ruins of Alph/Magnetic Storm and one Strong Energy, or two Strong Energy and another Stadium. This match up also requires Focus Sash or Hard Charm to survive a hit from Mega Rayquaza’s maximum damage of 240. Mega Rayquaza-EX does not have this luxury. They are also reliant on Double Colorless Energy and Delta Evolution, so make sure to use Lost Remover and Tool Scrapper to slow them down. Their decks typically run high counts of EXs so you just need to take a few KOs on selected targets while forcing them to take an odd number of Prizes.
Seismitoad-EX / Shaymin-EX – Favourable
Seismitoad-EX and Shaymin-EX made up the most toxic deck in this format until Shiftry took over. If you thought this deck was horrible in Standard last year, the HGSS-on format has Lost Remover, and Junk Arms to reuse everything. As with all Seismitoad-EX decks, you’ll have one turn to make things count. The Primal Groudon-EX list makes it pretty easy to get your turn one set up. Once that’s set up, with a Hard Charm if possible, your Opponent’s Trainers will do nothing to you and you can just sweep everything with Primal Groudon-EX. You are not really equipped to deal with the deck if you miss the turn one Maxie’s, other than Lysandre, Tool Scrapper and Lost Remover if you’re going second or they miss the Quaking Punch.
Vespiquen / Flareon / Night March – slightly favourable to slightly unfavourable
This paragraph combines many different deck match ups which are quite similar. The important difference is if a deck contains Vespiquen or not, as Primal Groudon-EX is weak to Grass-types. If it does, this makes it a little unfavourable due to the ease of trading two Prizes for one. In these match ups, Focus Sash is essential. For decks without Vespiquen, Hard Charm may be the better Tool but both can be used.
Another threatening Pokemon in Eeveelution variants is the Plasma Leafeon. Its Energy Crush attack does 20 times the number of Energy attached to all of the Opponent’s Pokemon. If you only have one Primal Groudon-EX set up, that’s only 160 damage so you’re safe from a OHKO. If you’re setting up a second Primal Groudon-EX, you’ll have to watch out for this attack and use Focus Sash.
All of these decks are reliant on Double Colorless Energy. The best strategy is to use Lost Remover to remove at least two of them from play. Each of the two Primal Groudon-EX should be able to survive at least two attacks and having three Wobbuffet gives you about seven turns. By removing some of their DCEs, they are not able to continuously attack every turn while you are able to take KOs every turn. Another important thing is to keep using Lysandre’s Trump Card once you have set up to reduce their damage output. These two key strategies should win you the game.
Yveltal-EX – Even
This is an extremely brutal deck to face. They are able to use Battle Compressors, Dark Patches with Junk Arms, Muscle Band, Double Colorless Energy or Special Darkness Energy to put out so much damage they can OHKO you. To win this game, you have to force them to fall just short of OHKO’ing you while being able to OHKO them. Take note of how many Energy are attached to each of your Opponent’s Pokemon. If the majority is on one Pokemon, you could be OHKO’d so use Focus Sash. If there is a good amount of Energy on more than one Pokemon, they won’t be able to power up one enough to OHKO you, so use Hard Charm. They are unlikely to use Energy Switch or Scramble Switch, instead opting to use Scoop Up Cyclone with Shaymin-EX for draw power.
Wobbuffet variants – Favourable
Wobbuffet starts with a very low base damage of 10. It slowly builds up through the use of Muscle Band, sometimes Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym, sometimes Bats, and whatever damage counters are on the Defending Pokemon. There is no need to worry about Lasers and damage can be reduced with Hard Charm and healed with Pokemon Center Lady before it becomes a problem.
LatiDonk – N/A
This deck uses Latios-EX , huge amounts of draw power and repeated use of PlusPower to donk Opponents. Our low amounts of Basic Pokemon makes it vulnerable to being donked. However, Wobbuffet also stops much of their drawing by use of Shaymin-EX. If they miss their turn one donk, you win.
This format does not have real sanctioned events and currently has not had PTCGO tournaments for a long while. Try out this deck and format if you’d like a change from the more common formats or if you can no longer keep track of them but still want to enjoy Pokemon TCG. There’s not much to gain apart from easy Versus mode rewards, general entertainment and perhaps a greater appreciation of an older generation of cards. This isn’t the easiest deck to play but I believe it’s the strongest deck in the format. I hope this has been an informative read on both the deck and the format as a whole. Thanks for reading if you’ve made it to the end! x