Worlds is fast-approaching. In August, fates will collide as the fans roar to the skies as they watch competitors duke it out in San Francisco. But with Worlds comes format rotation rumors. The Standard Format we know now may not stay that way for much longer.
Therefore, I decided to sit down and reflect upon my experience playing in this year’s Standard Rotation (XY– Fates Collide). So far, we have seen a wide range of powerful decks come to fruition with each consecutive set released; however, it has dawned on me that one Pokemon in particular has been involved in my personal top win-rate decks since the very beginning–the Life Pokemon Xerneas!
I want to highlight three decks in which, albeit more on the rouge side, combated the meta of their time fairly well! The profiles will be in order from oldest to newest and will be time-sensitive to the sets that were out at the time. Luckily, I will showcase the majority of Xerneas’s prints! Best of all, after you see these lists, you can build upon them using your knowledge of the current Standard card pool. Now, lets take a look at the first deck I built in the XY era!
Xerneas and Pals! (XY – Furious Fists)
This was my first ever competitive TCG deck post XY. I had always kept my eye on the game, but since signing up to PTCGO’s Beta, I took a very long break from playing and collecting. When I came back from my 4+ year hiatus, I discovered the Fairy-type and was immediately enticed by the potential of Geomancy Xerneas. Energy acceleration was something I never saw aside from Dark Patch. Then I read Xerneas-EX and Aromatisse‘s Fairy Transfer Ability and was sold.
The strategy is simple. Go second, open with turn one Geomancy and as many Fairies as possible. Hopefully have an Aromatisse online turn two. Freely retreat with Fairy Garden and attack with Xerneas-EX after transferring energy. If your Active Pokemon gets weak, simply retreat and Fairy Transfer to another attacker. Pressure with Sylveon‘s Echoed Voice attack and out-sustain with Hard Charm and other healing cards. Lastly, as a side note, Aromatisse was the most expensive card in the entire deck, making this deck extremely affordable to a new player like I was!
In the early stages of the 2015-16 Standard Format. Not many Pokemon could OHKO EXs, so it was all about sustaining resources and giving as few prizes as possible. The big three cards of this time were Yveltal-EX, Charizard-EX, and Lucario-EX. I can easily say all three match-ups were quite even and, in fact, very fun. With most opponents opting to go first, turn one Geomancy was very consistent and gave this deck a huge advantage. Let them KO Xerneas after it did its job, then go off. The Dark match-up was a laugh. When you combine Hard Charm’s resistance and Klefki‘s Ability, Secret Key, your Fairies negate a total of 60 damage from Dark-type Pokemon! Xerneas-EX’s Break Through attack was also very convenient attack for setting up future KOs with Lysandre. Let’s add some cards to the pool and discuss Fairy Toolbox!
(Pure) Fairy Toolbox (XY – Roaring Skies)
More sets are out, and power creep has now taken full effect. Note that Lysandre's Trump Card was legal during this time, and therefore players were willing to rush through their entire deck in one turn if it meant they could set up efficiently. The big decks that come to mind instantly were Gengar-EX / Trevenant, Seismitoad-EX / Slurpuff, M Manectric-EX, and M Rayquaza-EX. To sum it up, the meta was “set up super quick with Shaymin-EX, but don’t forget to spam Crushing Hammer first! Then, Trump Card and repeat!
This deck is similar in design to Xerneas and Pals, but with more tools at your disposal. Going second, opening Florges-EX meant you could search for any supporter you’d need in future turns. The Slurpuff added draw and/or Special Condition immunity, while Xerneas-EX and Florges were typically ready on turn 2. The key still was retreating when a Pokemon’s HP was low, Fairy Transfer or AZ to heal, then replaying chosen Pokemon to attack again. Lastly, M Diancie-EX was a fun (yet somewhat pricey) tech I decided to tinker with to answer the meta decks. When it worked, it was amusing to witness opponents scoop after she attacked with Diamond Force!
Without going too in-depth for each meta deck mentioned above, games played before Trump Card’s emergency ban were very difficult. The majority of these games were often hard-fought and drawn out extensively thanks to the Supporter card’s exploitable properties. Despite this, match-ups usually went as follows…
Versus EXs, it usually began with “Can I bring out M Diancie safely?”. If you could, and got a Diamond Force off, you usually won. If not, the next best thing was to ramp energy and 2HKO opposing EXs, obtaining the final two Prize cards on a Shaymin-EX with Lysandre. Matches against non-EX decks were usually one sided due to the amount of healing the deck has. The key advantage to this deck was not caring to go second so long as you began with Geomancy Xerneas or Florges-EX. Unfortunately, this decks weakness was losing Aromatisse prematurely or playing against any Metal-type deck in general. To this day, I believe if they ever printed a Diancie Spirit Link, Fairy-types would be no doubt tier one!
Rainbow Force!! (aka Rainbow Road) (XY – Fates Collide)
This print of Xerneas attacks for a whopping 10+ for a Fairy Energy and a Double Colorless Energy! So strong! Ok it may seem bad, but know that the additional damage come in bundles of 30 for EACH unique type on your Bench! That means a full colored Bench totals 160 damage! Combined with Fighting Fury Belt, Xerneas can KO 170HP EXs! No you’re probably wondering, “What about 180HP Pokemon? Mega Pokemon-EX?” NO PROBLEM! This deck is stuffed with nine different types of Pokemon. Just drop a Sky Field and add a few more colors! You have the Trainers to get you there!
Ideally, you want to lead with an energy attachment to Xerneas and play Brigette to quickly fill your Bench with supportive Pokemon like Remoraid and Jirachi. Turn two, attach the DCE and start attacking. Seeing a belt is a luxury, and Octillery & Shaymin-EX are there for reach, making sure you see Sky Field and the extra colors (if needed) to get that KO! Set up another Xerneas while your opponent struggles with the first and win from there!
With so many decks out there from XY to FCL, I cannot begin to describe all the match-ups this deck faces. Instead I will focus more in-depth on a small handful of match-ups I personally run into often, followed by a brief section detailing miscellaneous ones.
Pretty even and intense. Its all about trading well with your non-EXs while using as few resources possible. Let them burn through their deck as much as they want, just keep track of how many DCE / VS Seeker / Puzzle of Time they use early. This information is what wins in the long run. Ususally, your first Brigette wants to bring out Jirachi, Dedenne, and Druddigon (Xerneas isn’t the focus in this match-up). The former pressures their resource game, while the ladder two trade well against their low HP Pokemon. End by KOing one of their many Shaymin-EX!
As with nearly any deck playing against Trevenant, its usually very dependent on the coin flip. Never go second against this deck! Go first, spam your items, hope you get a footing for future turns, then kiss your items goodbye! In all seriousness however, this deck has about a 50/50 vs this deck going first OR second. Leading with Xerneas / Brigette / Energy is pretty threatening, especially if you have a Draw Support for next turn. Most Trevenant players underestimate the damage Xerneas can put out. Even without the Stadium or FFB, it can still KO a Trevenant BREAK in one hit, granted you fill your Bench. The key to this match-up is KOing their one tree they are attempting to set up. If luck is on your side you may even see your Lysandre or Hex Maniac to play around your opponent’s Abilities.
Similar to the previous match-up, it helps to KO the first frog they attempt to set up. This will force them to attack more and throw less shuriken. Turn off Greninja and Octillery for a turn with Hex Manic, and live through Giant Water Shuriken / Moonlight Slash with FFB. You can also bait their shuriken by benching Celebi. If you’re slightly behind, you can promote Wobbuffet to slow down the game and allow you to power up a Xerneas on your Bench.
Two decks are a real struggle. Metal is the obvious first. With no Fire-type attacker in the deck, the only way to beat Metal is to KO 3 EXs before they have one Pokemon online. And if one of those happens to be Aegislash-EX you’re tempted to scoop. The second deck is M Manecrtic / Jolteon-EX. Jolteon shuts down ALL damage from Basic attackers, which is our entire deck. It’s not exactly an auto-loss, but a win will require your one-of Escape Rope. Oh, and I almost forgot, Raichu / Bats is one deck I don’t think I have ever beat with this build. It simply does a little less damage (scaling by 20 rather than 30) but the extra versatile damage from bites, and attacking with 1 attachment give them an edge. Techs for all these decks would probably do the trick, but are too risky, as they are as rouge as we are!
Being a legendary Pokemon, Xerneas will likely show up many more times in the TCG. In fact, its getting another print in the next TCG expansion, Steam Siege, in the form of Xerneas BREAK. This is exciting not only for decks with Geomancy Xerneas, but also as an out to Jolteon-EX in Rainbow Road variants. Geomancy Xerneas users need not fear format rotation, as a reprint is also scheduled in Steam Siege. Xerneas is doing just fine in Standard and even has implications in Expanded. I’m sure as we transition to the Sun & Moon era, we will see at least one more Xerneas, with the possibility of a Black Star Promo(s) along the way! No matter what format it is, Xerneas will be there to bring some life!
Now it’s your turn! What is your outlook on the Standard Format since X&Y’s debut? Have you tried out Xerneas and/or Fairy-types? Discuss down below in the comments section! Also, head over to the forums to discuss the impact of new cards on the meta and post your own decklists! Everyone here at PokeBeach is willing to help you with anything Pokemon!