Spittin’ Truth on the Rogue Regal Pokémon: Serperior

You’re really excited.

You’re one of the few. You’re one of the proud. You’re one of the very first to speed over in your mother’s off-white Honda Civic to Barnes & Noble…to find none other than rows and rows of before-release-date Fates Collide product on the shelves.

And you’re about to drop an entire week’s worth of work money.

Barnes & Noble
A treasure trove or travesty?

Carrying four Elite Trainer Boxes, all the boosters they had available, and even the Lugia theme deck because Wynaut, you struggle your way over to the register. A concerned cashier with “Nicole” on her nametag, (repping tortoise Ray-Ban Havanas and a nicely self-sewn beanie, mind you), carefully scans your cards. (Wait a second…do a double take. Be smooth. *Gently nods head to see girl* WOW. Judging by this hipster vibe, she seems intelligent and sweet and…oh. She’s kind of cute. Maybe you should ask her out? You quickly belittle the thought as you realize you’re purchasing literally ninety-five percent of their Fates Collide inventory and you’re wearing a My Little Pony t-shirt and that pick-up line you tried using on the last girl earned you a slap across the face. Heck, the handprint’s still there, if you look closely. Just try not to make eye contact.)

“Find everything you need?” Nicole politely asks, flashing the most dazzling smile you’ve seen in a long time. “YES,” you yell, startling the old woman behind you in line. (Why are you always so loud when you’re in front of a pretty girl? Get it together man!) Nicole slightly jumps, also taken aback by the volume of your answer. Your hands begin to shake and a bead of sweat rolls down from your forehead…onto the bridge of your nose…it’s about to…you quickly dry the area with the edge of your sleeve. (Time is running out…say something man! Just say anything!)

Your mouth begins to form the shape of what is hopefully a word when Nicole begins to announce the total price: “Two-hundred-and-” “DON’T” you interject, as the shame of the amount of cash you’re about to spend starts to sink in. You hand her your now-very-moist MasterCard and she swipes it. You sign your name on the pad aggressively to confirm the damage and she heaves your forty-some packs over to you. You’re hyperventilating during the entire process, wiping your hands on your cargo shorts, and praying to Princess Twilight Sparkle (she’s the leader of the Ponies, right? RIGHT?) that Nicole doesn’t ask any more questions before you melt down. “Have a nice day!” she says as you busily rush out the door, with armpit stains in your shirt so visible they might as well just be declared two new oceans. (PHEW. That was a close one. Hopefully no one saw you.)

You finally get home from that catastrophe of a shopping experience and lay down the goods – so many boosters! Forgetting the nightmares just fifteen minutes earlier, you tear through the packaging rapaciously, seeking for a glimpse of gold in the form of Alakazam-EX. After flopping at States with and against all that Night March, (MAN you hate that deck now!), you’re ready for something new. Let’s go Zams! One after one you open pack after pack. You don’t spend any time admiring the beauty in the artwork or even notice that the Fennekin running alongside a Chikorita is the same Chikorita from BREAKpoint. Your smile turns into a snarl as you rip through nothing but Audino-EXs, Altaria-EXs, and their Mega Evolutions. These pulls are terrible!

World's Smallest Violin
RIP wallet, RIP pulls, RIP your dignity

You scramble through the remains of the packs you’ve opened…sifting for maybe one more pack to redeem your awful luck. Alas – a Zygarde pack! Right, you like the way Zygarde reminds you of Transformers. He’s bound to bring you some heat in this last one!

You actually take your time here, peeling through the wrapping ever so carefully. What do those PokéTubers do? Yeah! Three from the back…one, and two. Those two have the greatest swag potential. You take a deep breath – Common you don’t care about, another Common you don’t care about, blah blah blah…hey an N! Blah and blah. You peek at the Reverse Foil…hey! It’s a Reverse Power Memory! You could use that later! But now…the moment of truth. Did we save the best for last? Is this the moment we’ve been waiting for?

Your fourth Serperior.

What an awful day. You don’t even organize your cards as you lay down to cope on your couch, upset that you just burned a ton of money and unnecessarily freaked out in front of Nicole. Attempting to be positive about your life, you roll off of the couch and look at your Rares.

The first one you see, of course, is that dreadful Serperior. The artwork’s not bad. Another look. Whoa, he can do 80 for an Energy? Not terrible. And he has two attacks. You pick up the other three Serperior and find a handful of Servine and way too many Snivy. You’ve heard a few things about Servine too…hm. Is there any hope for the Unova starter family?

Ayyy what’s up Beach people! I have to apologize for that super long intro. Go ahead, tell me, I got carried away. I know. I’m sorry. (Or is it too late now to say sorry?) But I really wanted to build the character of our protagonist in question as he delves into the dilemma that I will be answering today: what’s the deal on Serperior and does he/does he not have swag?

Second to Espeon for being my fave Pokémon ever. Third has to be Dragonair.

Let’s be real: you saw this article coming. I’m John, aka Serperior here, so come on. I have to write about my namesake, and boy am I glad to do so. As the title says, Serperior’s a rogue option in today’s meta full of Night March and Vespiquen and Greninja BREAK and Yveltal, so you might read some new info here. First, lemme talk about the card itself and get those basics out of the way. We’ll talk about what you can pair with Serperior, what they do in tandem, and how they work together. Next, I’ll throw a decklist at the really big team (who, interestingly, also needs some really nice things) and discuss how it fares against the Standard meta. And if you’re in for the long haul…we’ll see if our knight in My Little Pony armor is able to get his act together and muster the courage to ask out Nicole. (I’ve literally spent way too much time setting up the scene between the two. Don’t worry, ya boi’s not gonna leave you hangin’.)

Fam Meet n’ Greet

So before we get too carried away thinking Serperior works alone, I wanna give a shout out to his predecessor Servine. Serperior is ok, but it’s what Servine does that really puts the Grass-type Kalos starter team on the map. Let’s meet the gang real quick.

Snivy aka “Munchkin”

Um…ok this guy really has no significance here. I guess it’s for the sake of completion? I didn’t wanna leave him out of the evolution line? He’s my favorite of the Kalos starters so…at least he has that for him. He has an attack, Blot, that hits for 10, (or 30 with Muscle Band, meaning we’re taking Knock Outs on Joltik at bare minimum. Really, though, never use this unless you’re super desperate), and he’s got 60 HP, which is usual. Other than that…there’s nothing special going for the Grass Snake Pokémon. Let’s move on with our lives.

Servine aka “The Come-Up”

Now we’re getting into the meat and potatoes of why this deck has a particular level of swag. Like Snivy, however, we’re not planning to attack with him or keep him in play for very long. Servine’s our stepping stone to Serperior, but he also has a special Ability we can take advantage of. When you Evolve Snivy, you can choose to activate Servine’s Ability, Serpentine Struggle. Aka, you’re always going to use it. Flip a coin (a red Fennekin one if you want to flip heads more often). If it’s heads, ZAP! Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is Paralyzed. Although you have to rely on a coinflip, this is devastating if it hits – especially when today’s meta relies on blowing up on the first turn. Granted that the opponent doesn’t have cards like Switchor Escape Rope, you can prevent your opponent from firing off a massive Night March attack or using Yveltal‘s Oblivion Wing to charge up a Benched Pokémon from the get-go. This is huge if you’re going first. For example, if your starting hand is a little less than desirable, you can buy yourself another turn to grab the stuff you need next turn to move forward with Serperior. Here’s an idea: to be extra dirty, hit another heads on the next turn to keep your opponent from doing anything again. You starting to see how sneaky these snakes can be?

Serperior aka “The Bossman”

He’s the Head Honcho. The Moneymaker. The King Kong of the deck. He’s your main attacker and he’s what’s gonna bring you the victory…with some help of the aforementioned Pokémon and techs we’ll discuss in a hot minute. Let’s take a little more time and break this card down in full:

  • Grass-type. This alone makes Serperior far more viable because of its synergy with Forest of Giant Plants. We can get multiple Serperior out at a time or fire off multiple Serpentine Struggles on the first turn because of how we can Evolve Grass-types on the turn they’re played. We can use cards like Revitalizer to grab Knocked Out Servine or Serperior and Evolve a Snivy we already have in play so we can return to the forefront of battle with little setback. We’ve seen just how powerful decks like Vespiquen / Vileplume  have become by abusing the high-speed play the Forest permits, so we can also hop on the hype train.
  • 140 HP. So…Serperior’s got a little bit of bulk, but it won’t matter to Night Marchers all that much. They’re usually able to dump seven of their pals in the Discard Pile no problem on the first turn, (that’s four Lampent and three of whatever), but against EX decks there’s some resilience here. Gallade is a lucky (for us) 10 damage away from a one-hit-Knock-Out (OHKO) which we’ll take, Yveltal-EX swings with Evil Ball for hilariously low (hehe) amounts of damage because we should only have one Energy attached to Serperior for attacking purposes, and, looking ahead to Zygarde-EX, he’ll need at least a pair of Strong Energy attached to OHKO with Land’s Wrath. It’s not a bad number by any means, and if your opponent stays immobilized under Serpentine Struggle Paralysis, it makes looking Serperior in the eye only more daunting.

    Coil’s lit fam
  • Coil. Serperior’s first attack does 40 for a single Energy of any kind with a nifty effect to boot. (This doesn’t mean you go off and splash this Stage-2 Pokémon in whatever you feel like, so don’t even think about it.) Coil allows you to get up from your seat, walk around the table, and embrace your opponent in such a fashion that the end result bolsters Serperior’s next attack by 60 damage. Look at how Serperior is performing this attack on Pikachu in the image to the right. Make sure you ensnare your opponent with the greatest amount of strength your arms can muster for the greatest benefit possible. Anyways, this means you could Coil for 100 the next turn or choose Slashing Strike for 140, both of which are admirable for one-Energy attacks. Coiling for 40 OHKOs Joltik which is cool, but we’re looking forward to Coiling for 100, also. This OHKOs buzzing Vespiquen, pesky Zoroark that gets rid of Paralysis by using Stand In from the Bench, as well as Zygarde-EX and Greninjas with that wonderful Grass-type Weakness. Unfortunately, this puts you 10 damage away from OHKOing Shaymin-EX, but we have ways to work around that. Using Coil again doesn’t mean Coil’s hitting for 160, but you can stream 100-damage attacks unless you switch to Slashing Strike.
  • Slashing Strike. This is the heavy hitter of Serperior’s two attacks. For just one Grass Energy, you smack your opponent for 80 damage, with the drawback being you can’t use Slashing Strike again next turn. 80 damage is nice, but it’s awkward. We can’t OHKO a Vespiquen with it. You can’t OHKO a Pumpkaboo with Fighting Fury Belt attached. Heck, you can’t even OHKO Greninja BREAK, even with Weakness. (We’ll talk about making those magic numbers in a little bit.) For these heftier Pokémon, we’re gonna need a power boost. Thankfully…well. You know what’s coming. We hit on this when talking about Coil, but you can potentially hit for 140 if you take advantage of those effects. We’re OHKOing a lot of things like baby Yveltal and even Vileplume if you can pull that off, but we’re also missing that 30 to 40 extra damage to take down EX Pokémon. (We’ll fix this, don’t worry.)
  • Fire-type Weakness. If your opponent attempts to hand you his or her mixtape, KINDLY REFUSE. All it takes is a few hot rhymes for Serperior to feel the effects of taking double damage from Fire-type people, I mean Pokémon, so we’re not gonna run that risk. Real talk though, due to Greninja seeing more play in the meta with a decent matchup against Night March, we’re seeing less Entei around. The Volcano Pokémon was the main Fire-type threat in the format until frog squad showed up, raining on its parade and discouraging the deck as a viable option. Therefore, we’re not as worried about Weakness, and we can feel pretty optimistic about our lives altogether.
  • Two-Energy Retreat Cost. There really isn’t any reason for us to be Retreating. I touched on this earlier, but it’s either we take all 140+ worth of damage…or the opponent’s Paralyzed from Serpentine Struggle. If, in the rare case we’re left to survive, we’re not going to waste an Energy we could spend on another Serperior to attack for Retreating…we’re gonna do something else. We’re about to get nasty with our rogue options.

So there you have it folks. We’ve covered all of the bases on the core of the crew, but what’s a crew without its shipmates? Serperior alone is not enough to sustain a spot in meta contention, so we need to look at…

The Tech Team

Serperior needs help hitting magic numbers. We’re more often than not 10 damage short here or there, and missing out on key KOs can spell “ah crap we gon lose” if we don’t have the right partner-in-crime to help us out. In my time researching the deck and seeing how it works, we’re really looking only at two viable options. These are similar in the fact they take advantage of Forest of Giant Plants and can call for explosive first-turn plays and carry Abilities that can trigger on the Bench. Thus, while we have Serperior in the driver’s seat in the Active slot, we’re cool with having our techs in the trunk, just chillin’. Let’s take a look.


You remember this dude? When people were hyping Latios-EX donk decks and giving this bag of noodles some airtime? Welp, it’s time to bring this bad boy out of the bulk pile and give him another peek cuz he’s got damage-dropping power. Forretress‘s only purpose in our deck is for its Ability, Thorn Tempest. Once you Evolve a Pineco from your hand, you drop a damage counter on all of your opponent’s Pokémon. Yeah. This is big. You probably thought of this already, but yes. These stack. You can drop as many damage counters as you can drop Forretress, which is definitely a helpful option when dealing with beefier Pokémon in the meta or when picking off Joltik. One of the biggest benefits to the Bagworm Pokémon is its ability to hit Vespiquen. When we talk about (spoilers) Ariados in the next bullet, you’ll find that you’re missing damage on the bee by 10 damage. And because Poisonous Nest only hits non-Grass-type Pokémon, Forretress can sneak in a damage counter where Ariados can’t. Very helpful. Anyways, moving on. You should rarely ever use this, but Iron Crash, Forretress’s sole attack for two Colorless Energy, hits for 20 base damage and 20 more for each Energy in your opponent’s Active Pokémon’s Retreat Cost. We could see this doing dirty damage to Giratina-EX as a last resort or even putting a dent in Seismitoad-EX‘s HP (but if you’re not hitting Toad for Weakness with Serperior, you’re doing it wrong). But, please. You’re probably better off keeping Forretress on the Bench.

What’s a little meh about Forretress is that this guy doesn’t have any longevity. You trigger Thorn Tempest once and he sits there for the rest of the game, unless you have a way to scoop em back up (which we will). If your opponent is wise, she may call when you’re gonna try and go for a Thorn Tempest and hit you with a Hex Maniac. While this doesn’t mean the end of the world, if you’ve committed Pineco to the Bench already…Greninja players can take free Knock Outs with Shuriken Abilities and Vespiquen players can survive an extra turn when you Slashing Strike for a just-shy 80. If you want your Serperior deck to be successful, you need to make sure that you maintain the momentum when you have it.


When was the last time you saw this homie? It was more than likely in a M Sceptile-EX deck or with a Vespiquen, but hey. You know what kind of potential he has. As alluded in the tidbit on Forretress, Ariados has a valuable Ability in Poisonous Nest. It automatically Poisons both Active Pokémon if they’re not Grass-type, meaning the entire Serperior line will be immune to those effects. Meanwhile, like, eighty-five percent of the meta’s gonna feel under the weather, and it’s gonna be a good time. Remember when we wanted to hit magic numbers from just a second ago? This is what’s gonna do it for us. What makes Ariados even better is its synergy with Servine’s Serpentine Struggle. Look at it this way – you go first. You successfully Paralyze and Poison your opponent’s Active Pokémon. If he doesn’t have an Item or a Supporter to move that Pokémon from the Active spot, you’re being given 30 free damage. That’s a Joltik. The extra damage gives you more than enough to help OHKO a Seismitoad. Slashing Strike a Shaymin after the Poison damage and that’s a two-Prize pickup. Now, even if the opponent does pull a Switch play or have a Zoroark Stand In, we at least get the 10 Poison damage and more opportunities for Poisonous Nest the next turn. Unlike Forretress, Ariados stays useful after turn one or whenever we finally get him in play and might actually divert attention from our main attacker if he gets too pesky for our opponent.

Ariados’s main weakness boils down to its inability to target Vespiquen. The counter to Night March are first-turn Item lock decks, and no one does it better than Vespiquen / Vileplume. If we can’t take OHKOs on an opposing non-EX deck, we’re gonna be constantly behind in the game which is never fun. Hex Maniac troubles us sometimes as it does Forretress, and…well. That’s really it for the downsides.

The List

Andrew BEAST
Andrew Beast debating whether you draw seven or eight cards at the beginning of the game in a Cities Final.

Alright, the moment you’ve been waiting for! …or you literally just scrolled through a few thousand words of chatter you already had an idea about just to see what I had to bring to the table. Well, slow down! I need to give my buddy, Andrew East, a shout out for helping me out with this list. If you don’t know him, he’s an Indiana player on Team Victory Star that’s done pretty solidly for his first season of competitive Pokémon! He also has a very diverse taste in music, so hit him up if you need something different to listen to. Anyways, we both find this deck very enjoyable, think it has swag, and is actually not meta. Here’s what we came up with:


Pokemon (18)

4x Serperior (FAC #7)4x Servine (FAC #6)4x Snivy (FAC #5)2x Ariados (AOR #6)2x Spinarak (AOR #5)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (35)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (DEX #96)1x AZ (PHF #91)1x Lysandre (AOR #78)1x Teammates (PRC #141)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (RSK #93)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)4x Super Scoop Up (FFI #100)2x Level Ball (AOR #76)2x Muscle Band (XY #121)1x Revitalizer (GEN #70)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)4x Forest of Giant Plants (AOR #74)

Energy (7)

7x Grass Energy (EM #101)

So this is what a pretty standard Serperior list should look like, to be real. The list is very tight, (as are most Stage-2 decks), so there’s not much wiggle room to get techy. Therefore, a lot of this stuff is self-explanatory and I’m only gonna hit the main points that make the deck great. Not gonna lie, it’s not meta for a reason. One thing you’ll notice from the get-go…holy coinflips. And that’s exactly right. You’re not gonna hit heads on every Serpentine Struggle, you’re not gonna hit heads on every Super Scoop Up. But you read it in the title: it’s rogue. Take a deep breath, relax…it’s a fun deck. I’ll give you some pointers, and maybe you’ll decide to stop aggravating everyone at League and put Night March away. Anyways, let’s get to the analysis!

Our Pokémon Posse

  • 4-4-4 Serperior line: You want consistency, right? Serperior’s your main attacker, right? In that case, let’s rep the gang to the fullest. I shouldn’t have to explain this, so I won’t. In terms of what we do with Serperior, I’ve hit on the main points already. We usually want to start with Coil, hoping we’ve hit heads on Serpentine Struggle. This gives us a free boost of attack damage in which we can decide to poke at a Shaymin aggressively to the point of Knock Out or put a dent in a big EX’s armor.
  • 2-2 Spider Squad: Yup, we went Ariados. Unless your meta is full of Vespiquen, I wouldn’t go Forretress. Ariados has longevity on the Bench and can rack up critical amounts of damage if you time Poisonous Nest with Serpentine Struggle. This is especially beneficial if your opponent doesn’t have any outs or has used them all already, meaning this Special Condition control can really put the ball in your court. Furthermore, we can target Knocked Out Ariados with Revitalizer in case it were to get Knocked Out and consistently irritate your opponent with Poison damage. Feel like I didn’t explain this well enough? Scroll up a little bit.
  • 2 Shaybae-EX: Consistency. I am personally a big fan of running three, but…we have Super Scoop Up. This means we don’t really need to run as many if we can recycle one on a heads, so we run that risk. Granted, we don’t want Shaymin being our SSU target all the time, (in order to save them for Servine), but we don’t mind the option if it gets caught in the Active spot or when we don’t have a way to get the second Shaymin and need another Set Up Ability. This card is just too good to pass up on right now, so we’re including a couple of the most expensive cards in the game in our list.

The T/S/S Toolkit

Like I mentioned earlier, some of this is fundamental T/S/S selection. If you don’t play four copies of Professor SycamoreVS Seeker, and Ultra Ball, you don’t have a deck. This is the backbone for the majority of the Standard format, so there’s no reason to postulate an argument for why we made these decisions. Don’t have these? Git gud. Or…save your allowance money and order them when you get the chance. They really do make your deck more consistent.

New look. Same Supporter. Welcome home fam.
  • 2 Nostalgic Supporter: N’s back and we’re glad we can finally remove Professor Birch's Observations from our lists. (I enjoyed risking it for the biscuit only half the time.) A cornerstone of consistency and disruption, we put him at two in our list. While we intend to play more aggressively on our first turn to get Servine and Serperior in play, we intend to go up on Prizes first – especially if we can keep the opponent from attacking. Therefore, we don’t want to N ourselves to a disadvantage. Then again, this isn’t always gonna happen, and we’re going to want to try slowing our opponent down differently if we end up behind. We’ve seen N make or break games by its utility, and we’re definitely going to take advantage of it in this deck.
  • 1 Stranger Hanging Out in the Woods: AZ guarantees we relieve one of our Pokémon from the field, but not without discarding Energy or whatever else is attached to it. Nonetheless, we welcome AZ because it ensures we save an attacker without burning our Super Rod or Revitalizer and gives us a second chance to hit Serpentine Struggle. One of this guy is the best number as we’d like to go off on our first turn and usually opt for a Sycamore, but we’d at least like to leave the option open if we can draw into him or VS Seeker for the dude. Just imagine the frustration on your opponent’s face when they’re just about to take a 2HKO on Serperior…when they see this guy. What a lovely sight.
  • Twins: This card is good, but it’s even better in non-EX decks. Because games are usually longer when you force your opponent to take more Prizes, you can take full advantage of strategizing exactly what you need in the short-run and long-run with Teammates. If one of your Pokémon gets Knocked Out during your opponent’s last turn and you play Teammates, you search your deck for any two cards. This could be a Revitalizer and a Snivy if you need a fresh Serperior on board and another chance to hit Serpentine Struggle. This could be a Supporter for the next turn and a critical Muscle Band to take the next step for a Knock Out. This could be the Left Arm of the Forbidden One and the Right Leg of the Forbidden One, the last two pieces you need to complete Exodia and win the match outright. We only play one because it could be cloggy on the first turn, and is usually gonna end up being a target for VS Seeker than something we play from our hand.
  • 1 Cool Fishing Pole and 1 Pair of BPA-free Bottles: Why do we split these? Why do we not just run one or the other? Isn’t this kind of inconsistent? Thanks to Teammates, this isn’t such a big deal. Yet, if they are discarded early game before we can use one or the other, this could be disadvantageous. We run one Super Rod because we don’t have a way to get Energy out of the Discard Pile (and if we hit tails on Super Scoop Ups…we have no way to preserve them) and to potentially recycle an entire Serperior line. We’ve discussed the key Revitalizer play: have a spare Snivy out, Revitalizer a Servine and a Serperior, boom. You’re back in the ring.
  • 4 Serperior Reset Buttons: I’ve been chatting up Super Scoop Up all this time…and this is finally the opportunity we get to get into the detes. Yo, this card is huge. You thought Bats were the only Stage-2 Pokémon to swag out with SSU…well you’re dead wrong. This deck is only as good as it hits heads and that’s me being one-hundred percent honest right now. Serpentine Struggle is what makes the deck viable, and if you’re not maximizing your opportunities to fire those off, you’re toast. The deck needs a turn to get attack power boosts off Coil, another one if you’re trying to 2HKO big EX Pokémon, and another one if you intend to really frustrate your opponent. Of course, there are outs to Paralysis, but you get the idea. Unlike AZ, you pick up everything attached to the Pokémon. We get to recycle critical Grass Energy and a Muscle Band if we attached one, and we’re gonna wanna do this if your opponent can’t take OHKOs or stay under Paralysis lock. There’s no doubt – we need four of these, especially when it’s a flippy card.
Can’t be a chef without the band bruh
  • 2 Staples in a Japanese Bistro Chef Uniform: We have to play Muscle Band in this deck. Sometimes, you don’t get the 100-damage Coil, and sometimes we need that extra damage now. If we can Lysandre a Straymin for two Prizes but don’t have the beefed up Coil, we’re gonna Slashing Strike. That’s 80 from there, 20 with a Muscle Band, and…right. Poisonous Nest gets the job done. Perfect. Have an opportunity to run up on a Pumpkaboo? Coil + Muscle Band = Flexin’ on em. Muscle Band is also critical for OHKOing EX Pokémon too. After a Coil boost, Slashing Strike hits for 140. That takes us to 160, and Poisonous Nest will bring us to the 170 to KO Yveltal-EX, Giratina-EX, Manectric-EX, and a few others also. What’s also kind of depressing is that even with Weakness, we don’t OHKO Zygarde-EX. With Muscle Band, we can actually do that and not dishonor our families.

The Energy Explanation

Whoa, only seven Grass Energy? Aren’t you walking on thin ice with that count? Honestly? Kind of, but not really. This is my mindset though: we play lots of consistency cards. We can get through a good chunk of our deck quickly and we don’t need more than one Energy in our hand to do anything. Our attack costs are cheap, so we can sacrifice a slot or two to make sure we push for Serperior (and a heads on Servine at bare minimum) on turn one. If we go first, attaching doesn’t even matter because we can’t attack – we’re focusing on hitting the Serpentine Struggle and whipping out Serperior so that we can save a turn. If we pull this off, we don’t need to worry about drawing into Energy by the second turn. Making sure we start racking up Poison damage and Paralyzing your opponent’s Active Pokémon is the major key to going first, and this’ll happen (or at least supposed to happen) fifty percent of the time. This is why you see four Forest of Giant Plants and four Trainers’ Mail and even a couple of Level Ball for our big push; this massive setup play is our priority. After thinning our deck on the first turn, we’re more than likely going to draw into the Energy we need. We’re Gucci fam.

When Serperior Gets Sad

Ok, remember when I said the deck was rogue? Right. Remember when I said the deck is as good as how it flips? I stand by that statement whole-heartedly because sometimes a flip can make or break a game. When you deal with luck, you deal with inconsistency. And when you deal with inconsistency, you deal with losing. Sometimes, a lot. Once you understand that you’re not always going to be in Lady Luck’s favor, you know that you have no reason to rage quit and flip tables when you don’t see this deck succeed.

Serperior sheds a single tear when he sees Zoroark. Your strategy is built upon taking advantage of Poison and Paralysis, and when Stand In + Float Stone nullifies all of that, we have a little less fun. In addition, we thrive on having big Benches that host plenty of Servine from Serpentine Struggle attempts and an Ariados (usually), meaning Mind Jack will be hitting for a lot of damage a lot of the time. You can avenge a Knock Out with a Muscle Banded Slashing Strike, but you’re going to want to Lysandre that out before Stand In puts in too much work.

Breaking the Coil chain can upset our friend as well. Cards like Escape Rope and Lysandre can ruin our math big time, which also means we may need to spend an extra turn using a nude Coil (you know, like Coil without the attack boost? Ok I just really needed an adjective and this is the best I can do) to strengthen our attacks for next turn. This means one of two things: this either emphasizes the need to hit Paralysis so we can stall for the next turn or we need to hope to Arceus we don’t get KO’d. Both risky business, but it’s all we can do once our opponent resets the math on us.

So what can we do about those?

Just like every other list, sometimes there’s that fifty-first card that gets left out that you wish you could’ve added. Sometimes you know you don’t like how a card or two fits into the list and you wanna try something new. Sometimes you’re throwing the deck together and in your mind you think, “Ah crap. I need an out to this.” Here’s a few cards I think you can mix and match in the deck if you’re feeling like testing the deck differently, or feel like the aforementioned weaknesses in the deck need to be better addressed:

  • Cash out with more recyclable bottles (Revitalizer): This card is just too nasty. Discarding our single Revitalizer early game is bad, and it’d be nice to have a backup copy in case that were to happen. Night March will have no problem taking KO after KO on your Serperior and this card helps you bounce back…if you haven’t realized that already. Paralysis hardly matters when you can already one-shot all of their attackers, so for this matchup…definitely worth considering a second.
  • Invite the creepy old lady next door to the house party (Hex Maniac): Earlier, I was talking about how bothersome this card could be. And while this is true when it’s used against us, we can definitely find potential when we’re the ones with the special senile woman on our team. As I said, Zoroark rips this deck’s potential apart. Stand In laughs off any Paralysis we attempt to inflict and limits Poisonous Nest damage to a meager damage counter from when the turn passes to our opponent. This just isn’t enough. Hex Maniac can shut off that Ability to potentially guarantee a turn to stall. (Of course, this comes down to whether or not your opponent has an AZ or Switch at his disposal, but we at least force him to burn resources.) While this is the main Ability of concern, we might be able to stop Shaymins from going too hard, Trevenant from blocking our Items, and Greninja from dropping free damage.
  • …and invite the guy with that crazy hair and chinstrap too (Lysandre): We need to be slaying Shays if we wanna win, and including another Lysandre ups our chances of taking big Prize leads. This alleviates the need to burn for resources to grab Servine (because…why would you Paralyze a Pokémon you’re about to take down) and shifts the focus to taking quick Knock Outs. It’s more of this meta’s playstyle and is more aggressive, so here’s an option if you’re feelin’ it.
  • Scoop Up Cyclone: This card would be absolutely bonkers in this deck – it’s literally the gifted child of AZ and Super Scoop Up, if they had one. If it was even possible. Ok I think I need to move on with this. Anyways, it’s definitely unfortunat that Scoop Up Cyclone doesn’t exist in the Standard format, but we can dream.

Looking at the Matchups

Ok. I told you what the deck does. I told you what the deck doesn’t like. I told you what you could try to do to fix the things the deck doesn’t like. BUT – how does our humble rogue do against the scarily aggressive meta? I’ll list off the big decks we can expect to see in Standard and how we’d fare against em. I will be rating the matchup by clothing brand, the best matchups being the more desirable brand with the worst ones being clothes that don’t fit or should embarrass you while wearing them.

But like…does anyone actually wear a polo like this?
  • YZG: Polo Ralph Lauren (Not awful)
    • I use a positive negative here because if we can keep the Zoroark shenanigans under control, we shouldn’t be in a bad position to do cool things. I rank this as Polo Ralph Lauren because while a classy brand, the general population of PRL wearers have shifted to young, cocky, high school kids who think with long hair and a fifteen-dollar t-shirt can do whatever they want. Then again, if worn by the right individual, it’s not bad-looking. Yveltal-EX can hardly take advantage of Evil Ball when we’re attaching one Energy to attack, meaning that the biggest damage is gonna need to come from Gallade. As mentioned before, Gallade’s Sensitive Blade hits for 130, meaning we survive a turn to fire back (unless…he’s got a Muscle Band). If he doesn’t have a Band, scoop that Serperior right back up. Zoroark needs to be priority number one in this matchup, so that once he’s down, we can Paralyze Gallade and take full advantage of Special Condition control. In addition to this, YZG wouldn’t be taking as many two-Prize Pokémon as we would. We can rely on being ahead in the Prize trade (usually) and promoting attackers that YZG can’t often OHKO. I’m not saying this is an auto-win by any means, but we’re not crying about this matchup whatsoever.
  • Frogs: Lacoste (Pretty swag) 
    • Lacoste is timeless, and has been around since 1933. The crocodile logo is memorable and their polos are vibrant. We like Lacoste as much as we like this matchup. And what we like about this matchup is that we hit for Weakness. Greninja BREAK boasts 170 HP, which means that no Coil’s required to OHKO this punk. Well, this does mean we need an Ariados in play to pull this off, but that isn’t too hard to do. Slashing Strike and a Poisonous Nest activation will earn us the magic 170-damage mark we need to OHKO everything in the deck, which is a good feeling. Unlike Frogs, we can attack on the first turn, because they need a turn or two to fire off Frogadier‘s Water Duplicates to get as many Frogadier aka future Greninja they can in play. Meanwhile, we can pick off the one they used to attack and already leave them an entire attacker down, putting us ahead already. What’s also Gucci (for us) is that Greninja BREAK is forced to target Serperior for Giant Water Shuriken if the opponent plans on taking him out in one turn. Returning a Water Energy for Greninja’s Moonlight Slash hits for 80, meaning the extra six damage counters has to come from the Ability. This effectively puts pressure on the opponent to have a spare Energy while protecting our Bench from that damage. In addition, we’re more effective at replenishing our attackers than they are. We can recycle Serperior far more easily than Frogs players spend time needing a Super Rod, hitting Dive Ball, and then even a couple turns to Evolve back up to Greninja.
  • Vespiquen / Vileplume: Spencer’s (Ehhhh)
    • Anybody that’s walked into a Spencer’s or a Hot Topic knows this place is shady. I don’t care if that cool graphic tee you bought was for half off when you visited last week; you know you’re uncomfortable in there. This matchup should, also, rustle your jimmies. The coin flip obviously matters the most here. You go second? Shake your opponent’s hand. You’ve kinda lost the game already unless you draw monstrously and can survive OHKOs. Even then, I doubt you can pump out consistent Serperior to replace another. I mean, you can flip heads on Paralysis to attempt to slow down the rate at which we get pummeled, but…we can’t Super Scoop Up. Now, if you go first, you can potentially get enough in play to put up a fight. Muscle Band whatever you can and get the Servine and Serperior ready to go. If you can Paralyze to give yourself a turn to start dishing out 100-damage Coils, you might see a light at the end of the tunnel. But even then, playing down the Forest for yourself is one less card your opponent needs to have in his hand to pull off a turn-
      When you see the Zygarde

      one Item lock. At the end of the day, this matchup is just eh.

  • Zygarde-EX + Fighting Friends: Versace (We take those)
    • NOW we’re cookin’! We love the Weakness. We love how many EX Pokémon they play. We love everything about this matchup. We love it so much, it’s like donning rich, black, Italian leather, man. (You’re not donning a man, I was just reaching out to the audience. Like that was cool, man. Commas are important. Understand me.) Regirock-EX they have on the Bench are easy targets for OHKOs, meaning that the opponent may be hesitant in playing them at all. Because Regirock-EX’s Regi Power Ability boosts the attacks of Fighting-type Pokémon by 10, our typing may discourage the opponent from dropping these two-Prize mines. In turn, Zygarde-EX and whoever swing for less damage, meaning we can survive longer, meaning…you know what’s up. There’s not much else to say here – this is Versace for us, yo.
  • Trevenant / Wobbuffet: The Children’s Place (Why even bother)
    • You’re an adult. What in the world are you doing here. This is scary territory, and you’re not…you’re not even expecting! Nothing feels right about this…which is how we feel about trees. Item lock really hurts, and it doesn’t help when they can Evolve past our Paralysis to continue with whatever they’re doing. Oh, you flipped heads on Serpentine Struggle? Sad times, they just Evolved into Trevenant BREAK. Think you can squeeze in an attack? Bursting Balloon is eating up almost half of your HP. Just like with Vileplume, having no access to Super Scoop Up hurts, and the stalling potential in Servine is evaporated when your opponent just needs to Ultra Ball for the next Pokémon to Evolve into. The only glimmer of hope is if we try out that Hex Maniac and go first, because Trevenant does only have 110 HP. We can pull off the Slashing Strike + Muscle Band + Poisonous Nest combo to swing for OHKOs, but this needs to be before they can put a Trevenant in play, of course. This is a scary matchup and one we should kinda write off as a loss.
  • Night March: Baby Gap (RIP)
    • Just…just why. I told you to get outta Children’s Place…and you come here?! AND YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A COUPON?! I’m done. Guys, this is one of the best decks in the format. Paralysis doesn’t mean anything when we one-shot stuff, and it boils down to the Prize trade. Night March is just more efficient, consistent, everything, than this deck. We can try and go for as many Shaymin as we want, but…we also play Shaymin. They have access to Target Whistle and can Knock Out the same Shaymin to go way ahead on the Prize trade, and…and it’s just a sad time. Is there any possible way we can work around this? Avoid playing them. We need to choose to go second to get ahead asap and take Shaymin KOs where we can. See how these non-EX decks play out? The new game is: who can Knock Out more Shaymin? Usually it’s Night March because of the Whistle. So. Rest in spaghetti never forghetti. Flip the table and make news at the very least.

Now what?

With few (good) Fates Collide cards actually you have, you throw together this very Serperior deck and head to League. Maybe at least it’ll be fun to play.

You swing open the door into the card shop when, already, “Yo Carl! I saw you post all those packs on Facebook!” that annoying kid who got on his mom’s social media that you added out of basic courtesy and frequent interaction at League nights that you didn’t wanna come off as disrespectful begins to squeak. “Whatcha pull dude?!”

“Ayyy McSweaty my man! What, you made out of money? Show us what you pulled!” another buddy approaches.

You panic. (Dang it! All these people think I cashed out with these packs…what am I gonna tell them?! What am I gonna do?! Maybe this is what I deserve for playing Night March at States…) Everyone is beginning to close in on your trade binder. (NO! Everyone’ll think I’m a complete scrub that spent hundreds of dollars on Audino and Altaria! My entire reputation will be ruined!)

Someone’s fingers is just about to pry open your binder when, “STOP!” you demand, striking up as much confidence as you can muster. An eerie silence settles in the room, not a single sound daring to break it other than that pathetic whirring box fan that hardly works and the card shop promises they’ll replace but only just takes the money from that fund to restock the Mountain Dew. “You don’t wanna see that binder. I promise you.” You’re about to tell them the truth. There’s no hiding the shame any longer. You dig your hands deep into your old, stained cargo shorts, ready to deliver the worst news of the day…when your fingers graze your escape plan – the Serperior deck! Even your eyes widen when you realize…maybe this…maybe this will divert them from the financial failure of an afternoon!

Felt like this

You lift the kelly green deckbox from your pocket slowly…raising it so that the ceiling lights reflect upon the lid as to appear it had descended from the heavens themselves. As you look around the room, you see that everyone’s attention is now transfixed upon this little box, exactly like the animals in The Lion King when Rafiki held Simba.

And you are Rafiki.

(Ah crap! You’ve got pit stains again. Quick! Just show the deck off!) In light of this consistent hygienic mishap, you lower your arm and crack open the lid. You flash your Serperior build, (most being reverse foil, at that), and everyone is oohing and ahhing over the new deck. “Behold!” you bellow, sending chills down the spines of everyone looking at the deck, “The new face of rogue!” They ask all the questions, what does it do? How did you come up with this idea? Where can I buy Serperior? People want to play against you just to see how the deck works. You’re already finishing your tenth game, for crying out loud.

“Can I play?” a familiar voice asks behind you. You swivel your head with the smile lingering from the last game…just so it could transform into a gaping mess.

It’s Nicole.

(FEMALE ALERT. FEMALE ALERT.) Your eyes are sunny side up eggs and your mouth is a cave. Your body is ice and your armpits are rivers. (CARL. PLEASE TELL ME YOU CHANGED OUT OF THAT MY LITTLE PONY T-SHIRT.) You quickly glance down at your attire. (HOW IN THE WORLD DID YOU NOT CHANGE?! IT LITERALLY SMELLS LIKE THE MAGIC: THE GATHERING COMMUNITY!) She’s still waiting on an answer, but how long has it been? Your heart says speak but your brain says no. So your body decides to sneeze.

“ACHOO!” you go.

“God bless you!” Nicole responds.

“Thanks!” (Wait. Did you just…answer appropriately?) “Allergies. Wow.”

“I get em too. They’re pretty bad this time of year. You heard of Flonase?”

“Nah, what’s that?”

“It’s a nasal spray. It can help with your allergies. The active drug is a corticosteroid that prevents your body from promoting an anti-inflammatory response that can sometimes exacerbate your symptoms. You can get it over the counter at your local pharmacy.”

Available over the counter or with a prescription, ask your local pharmacist about Flonase to fight summer allergies.

“I have no idea what you just said. But ok. I’ll have to check it out.”

“Hey wait…” She pauses for a moment and peers closely at the side of your face. “Did you get slapped?”

(Oh geez. Awkward silence.)

“Yo McSweaty!” a bro shouts from across the room. “We playin’ or what?!”

“Sorry man, she already asked.”

Nicole smiles and sits down across the table from you, unpacking her kawaii Pikachu Japanese deckbox with matching sleeves and her playmat featuring a Cherrim. She introduces herself (even though you knew who she was eight-thousand words ago) and you ready yourself for an important battle: you win? You win her heart. You lose? You’ll look like a n00b.

“Wait…you actually play?” you say in disbelief, noticing her supplies are definitely top quality. Flashbacks of that horrifying transaction…turn into regrets of not taking pride of the very hobby you enjoy so dearly. What an opportunity it would have been to strike up some conversation!

“Of course! I was a little upset you took all of our packs – I wanted a couple for myself. I was gonna say something but you were sweating so badly I didn’t want to distress you any further.”

Your laugh is a mixture of nervous chuckle and shame as you turn away, shuffling your now-damp deck.

“Do they really call you McSweatypits?” offering to cut or tap.

“Haha…ha,” you begin to tremble, attempting to come up with a legitimate response. “Ha…um. Yeah. It’s…uh. Nickname from having a thyroid condition.” You tap, lose the coin flip (she’s going first), and set up.

Your hand isn’t awful, a couple Snivy, a Level Ball, Sycamore, an Energy, your Forest, and a VS Seeker. Maybe you can finally impress this girl! You set your two Snivy, lay out your Prize Cards and look her in the eye. “Good luck!”

(This girl’s got everything! The looks, the personality, the passion for Pokémon! This is gonna be an awesome game!)

She flips over Mew and a Pumpkaboo.

You flip the table, flip her the bird, and never return to the card shop again.

Wow, guys. Thank you oh so much for giving my now fourth article on PB a look over! I hope you enjoyed the info on Serperior and the continued adventures of our friend Carl. (Maybe…maybe he’ll come up in the next article?) If you’ve been tinkering with Serperior, let me know in the comments! What have you tried or what do you wanna try? Have you swagged out or have you been a miserable failure? What other techs have you tried…or have you attempted to run this in Expanded, even? Let’s talk.

I appreciate every click and like and comment and share and etc. Let me know how I’m writing. If you wanna see something different, gimme a shout out. If you want me to get straight to the point, tell me. If it’s time to write off Carl, holla at ya boi. I’m always open to different ideas.

Thanks team, and as always, take it easy,

John / Serperior