“Gyara-who?” An Inside Look at What Made Waves in Orlando!

After taking second place in August’s community blog competition and securing first place in August’s TCG Cup, I had selected Ancient Origins as my prize packs because I needed a few cards from that particular set. I was looking for the Full Art Hoopa-EX, the priciest card out of the set at the moment, a couple of Full Art Lugia-EX for my binder, and all of the gold Primals because…well…they’re shiny.

While I pulled none of these cards, I did get a few goodies, like a Secret Rare Trainers' Mail and a Regular Art Lugia-EX (which I actually needed for my collection as well). I set aside the three Gyarados I pulled to the side, oblivious to its potential, to sleeve them because the artwork was nice.

I had no idea it was going to be dubbed the “secret” deck for Orlando Regionals. And I had no idea it was going to see two Top 32 placings.

Gyaradon’t think this matchup is easy.

How we feelin’ PokéBeach? John here to cover a card that’s made quite the splash this weekend: Gyarados. You read the title correctly, ladies and gentlemen. Your vision is fine, you don’t need to see your doctor – I didn’t see it coming either. Frankly, I was more excited for its reprint in Evolutions because of the nostalgic artwork. I only heard of the Gyarados deck’s existence on the Friday before Orlando Regs had began, and I quickly had to check what on Earth it did in the first place.

But no worries! I’m here to break down what Gyarados does for you, why it’s actually very formidable, and run a decklist by you from someone that’s been playing the deck before it was cool to get you started on your testing. It’s a threat to look out for, no doubt about it, so let’s dive right in!

An Atrocity

Gyarados, the Atrocious Pokémon. It evolves from a pathetic fish but is known to wreck face when least expected. Can we be honest for a moment? When was the last time you saw a legitimately competitive Gyarados deck? For me, it’s been nearly eight years. That’s right, I’m talking about the Gyarados from Stormfront that could attack for no Energy and hit for 90 damage if you had three Magikarp in your discard pile. Stomachs dropped and hearts sunk when players opened with Magikarp in play, knowing that they were in for the long haul. And now, that exact feeling has returned.

Gyarados is a 130-HP Stage-1 Pokémon with an Ancient Trait – θ Double. θ Double allows you to attach two Pokémon Tools to Gyarados, a trait that was made popular by the now far-less-prevalent Entei, also from Ancient Origins. In some builds, this can be shockingly useful, but in some others, it’s just there so Gyarados owns more of the card with its sick artwork. Being Water-type has its merits in the current meta. There aren’t many Lightning-type threats in the meta and you’re able to hit Volcanion-EX for Weakness if that pops up in your area. You have access to Dive Ball, grabbing you those key ‘Karps or ‘Doses with no drawback, and you can Rough Seas if that so happens to be around (but we’ll actually never want to use Rough Seas and that’ll make sense later). The three-Energy Retreat Cost isn’t much of an issue because we’re not going to be switching between Gyarados, like, ever, so we don’t care about that. Thrash is an attack that we’ll never use because it requires too much Energy.

Shhh don’t tell anyone where it is

What we’re really here for is its first attack that sounds like it’s ready to kick some PokéBum – Full Retaliation. For a single Double Colorless Energy, you’re dealing 30 base damage and an additional 30 for each damage counter on your Benched Magikarp. “John, how in the world are you going to get damage on a 30-HP joke of a Pokémon?” First of all, don’t be mean to Magikarp. Second of all, there’s a pretty simple way of going about this. You remember those Double Crisis packs from like a year and a half ago? Those suddenly have relevance because that’s where you’re gonna find the key: Team Magma's Secret Base. While this card is in the Stadium slot, every Pokémon that gets set from the hand to the Bench are immediately penalized with two damage counters – no questions asked.

If you can add one and one, you’ve already realized that you can drop all your Karps with the Secret Base on the field and max out on Full Retaliation damage. You’ll have three Magikarp that are about ready to kiss death from 10 HP away, but with just enough strength to channel their energies for their leader. Gyarados’s initial 30 is lackluster, but count 60 more (two damage counters on the Benched Magikarp) for each Benched Magikarp…and you have the potential to deal 210 damage on the second turn. That’s a Mega Mewtwo. That’s a Giratina-EX with a Fighting Fury Belt. That’s an Yveltal-EX with a Fighting Fury Belt. That’s so. Much. Damage. Okay, okay. We’re missing a few key KOs on M Scizor-EX and M Rayquaza-EX, but we can actually make this happen (and I’ll talk about it a little later). Stay with me now.

Why Now? Why Not Last Format? This Game is Crazy…

Lol, you’re not wrong. But let’s be real – this is what makes Pokémon so much fun. Things like this can just…happen. But back on topic – Gyarados is positioned to do some big things in today’s Standard, completely different from where it was just a few months ago. It was a different format with different threats entirely; think about the meta Gyarados was up against. Night March, with Joltik hitting for Weakness. Trevenant BREAK, Silent Fearing your entire army of fish. Greninja BREAK, sniping multiple Magikarp with shuriken, giant or not. It was a different ballgame, and Gyarados simply did not stand a chance.

Fast forward to where we are now, where Mega Evolution Pokémon run rampant, big Basics triumph, and Shaymin-EX is a seventy-dollar card. You can afford to be one or two turns too slow to catch up and the coinflip isn’t as important (although we still prefer going first, eh?). Let’s look at why Gyarados was able to sneak in and take a couple of Top 32 slots in Orlando:

  • Surprise factor. How many people saw this as a threat? Probably few. Unless it’s just me and everyone knew Gyarados was out there and took it seriously. Because I didn’t. In the case players didn’t, inexperience with the matchup could very well be your downfall. Not knowing when to make particular plays (like using Lysandre to go for damaged Magikarp over a fresh one) can be critical in the long run and are easier to pick up on when you actually have match experience.
  • Not a lot of Bench-damaging attacks. Other than Galvantula, we don’t have Pokémon that really target the Bench much. People joke about Spinda‘s uprising, but who’s actually gonna commit a slot to Spinda. Greninja builds might get lucky if they setup faster than you, but Garbodor‘s place in the meta discourages its play…so we’re kinda safe there.
  • A pretty solid meta call. Judging by what’s made Top 32, we’re seeing a lot of those big Basic and Mega decks that I was talking about earlier. We’re looking at a bunch of Darkrai-EX / Giratina-EX / Garbodor, (aka DarkTinaGarb), a chunk of Mega Mewtwo, and a few M Gardevoir-EX in there as well. Gyarados loves being able to trade one Prize with two, and playing Gyarados was a great meta call by the two players that made it through. A job well done indeed.
Gyarados

When you realize Gyarados has viability

Gyarados’s success here goes to show that the game involves more than just having the “best” deck – you’ve also gotta have the “right” deck, and that’s entirely dependent on where you’re playing and when. Some of the most critical decision-making occurs outside of the venue writing in your decklist, where your awareness of the area and the meta come into play. Preparing yourself in this regard will pay off handsomely in the long run – make sure you know the meta!

Bring Out the Bulk – Building Gyarados

If you were me, until like…yesterday, Gyarados was sitting in a bulk pile or in a binder far away from your playable stuff. Well, it’s time to build the deck that we’ve been hyping up this entire time, and to help out I have a good friend of mine: Evan Cole.

Evan is actually only in his second year of competitive play and reached Top 128 with Night March at Nationals last year. He creatively included three Pokémon Catcher in his build, which was how his deck was eventually dubbed “Casino March”. In that same season, however, he notably piloted his own Gyarados build to a League Challenge win when nobody even considered it, and has kinda become the most knowledgeable on the deck simply based on experience alone. He may or may not go by “GyaraDad.” He’s also the proud owner of fifteen retro decks, so challenge him if you’ve got some decks from older formats! Anyways, here’s the version of the deck he’s been playing so far:

Pokemon (11)

3x Gyarados (AOR #21)4x Magikarp (AOR #19)1x Octillery (BKT #33)1x Remoraid (BKT #32)1x Mr. Mime (GEN #52)1x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (45)

3x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)3x N (FAC #105)2x Teammates (PRC #141)1x Giovanni's Scheme (BKT #138)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)1x Lysandre (AOR #78)4x Dive Ball (PRC #125)4x Puzzle of Time (BKP #109)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)3x Acro Bike (PRC #122)3x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)2x Super Rod (BKT #149)1x Buddy-Buddy Rescue (BKT #135)1x Escape Rope (PRC #127)1x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Level Ball (AOR #76)1x Special Charge (STS #105)1x Town Map (BKT #150)4x Team Magma's Secret Base (DOC #32)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless Energy (GEN #74)

So we’ve got a lot going on here, with a lot of details that we need to cover. I’ve already explained the general strategy of getting Magikarp on the Bench with the Secret Base in play, so we don’t need to review that. What we do need to review are Evan’s tech picks and why he went with the T/S/S line he did. Let’s not waste time!

Gyarados

How I feel when I max out on Full Retaliation damage

Postulating the Pokémon Plays

  • A 4-3 Gyarados line? You got it. We obviously need the four Magikarp in order to maximize damage output in Full Retaliation, but the three Gyarados is an interesting play. For the same reason Mega Evolution decks run 4-3 lines in their builds, the 4-3 line in Gyarados is understandable – 4-4 is a little clunky and we usually end up having plenty of reasons to grab him when we need him. We play so much search support and a couple of Super Rod that we are rarely without our main attacker.
  • And only 1-1 Octillery? Yup. Octillery isn’t essential to our setup seeing all the Item support we already have, but he’s great to have late game. Octillery’s Ability, Abyssal Hand, draws us cards until we have five in our hand once a turn. This is big; those Ns are devastating and we want to make sure that we aren’t subject to those kinds of shenanigans, so a 1-1 line is all we need. If we miss a piece of our Pokémon draw support, Town Map fills us in on exactly what we need to grab when we Knock Out our opponent’s Pokémon. (I personally love this inclusion as Here Comes Team Rocket! has always been one of my favorites.)
  • What’s Ash’s mother’s housemaid doing here? We touched on those cheeky threats to Gyarados earlier, Galvantula and Spinda. Well, this is to make sure we are 100% in the clear now. Rainbow Road is still a closer matchup for this deck, so we want to protect our Karp and our odds of winning by having Mr. Mime around. His Ability, Bench Barrier, prevents all damage done to your Benched Pokémon, just what we need to keep those two at bay. Of course, there are others out there that might be able to dish out similar attacks, but these are the two, (really the one), that we’re concerned for. This is the one tech I think is most cuttable from the deck, and we’ll talk about those decisions in the next section.
  • Just 1 Shaymin!? I mean this is good for the wallet but… Yeah. You’ll be fine! By trimming the number of Pokémon-EX to just one, your opponent is then forced to take down four Gyarados for the remaining four Prizes. How scary is that? You can argue a bump to two to quicken the pace of your first-turn setup, but usually you’ll be well-off with just the one. Actually, it’s discouraged to play more than one. Keeping this deck very non-EX is a part of why it’s so powerful in the first place, so it’s not a bad thing if Shaymin never sees the playing field.

Whoaaa That’s a LOT of Trainers

No kidding. We can trim the amount of chatter I need to do by going over the basic stuff first. Four Dive Ball, four VS Seeker, four Trainers’ Mail, four Secret Base, yeah. Very self-explanatory. If the majority of your deck contains Water-type Pokémon, we’re gonna run Dive Ball. Are you not playing Vileplume? Then you play four VS Seeker. Do you want consistency? Play four Trainers’ Mail. Playing Gyarados? Hide in the Secret Base. Sound good? Let’s discuss the less obvious stuff now, starting with:

  • 3 Sycamore? When was this a thing? Well, you can actually fluctuate between three and four. Evan’s build is definitely more Item-based, so I’m sure you can cut a card here, cut a card there, blah blah blah to find the room for the fourth Sycamore if you really need it. In my eyes, I’m seeing a reasoning that goes like, “Hey. I’m more than likely going to end up drawing into it with the sheer amount of draw and search support in those Items I have, so I’m good at three.” Of course, you can always make adjustments as needed.

    Teammates

    Reminding your opponent you grab two of whatever you want because they took a Knock Out

  • Two pairs of twins. Playing Teammates in non-EX builds is so good, as they provide an incredible card advantage to keep you rolling with the big boys. Teammates searches the deck for two of whatever card after one of your Pokémon gets Knocked Out, which is pretty busted. This kind of effect is incredible in a deck like this because when a Gyarados gets Knocked Out…you do need to chain a few cards together to make sure you can attack again the next turn. Those include another Gyarados, (because you’re usually not wanting to have more than the one you’re swinging with in play), a DCE, some sort of Item to get that Magikarp back into the deck or hand from the discard pile, and an Item to search it from the deck. Teammates can help with a lot of that. I’d rather opt for the consistency in Teammates than pray I draw the right cards off of a Sycamore. Additionally, you may even have one of the pieces of Puzzle of Time in your hand as well, so you can search for the other piece and go that route. Teammates opens up a lot of options for recovery, and playing two puts less stress on having to burn a VS Seeker for one.
  • What’s Giovanni scheming in this deck? To help out with math. While its effects include drawing until you have five cards in your hand or dealing an additional 20, we’re usually going for the latter. As mentioned before, we max out at 210 if we have all three Magikarp in play and get two damage counters on each. In order to get those critical Knock Outs on Mega Ray and Mega Scizor, we’re gonna need a damage boost. Enter Giovanni's Scheme. We also like Giovanni’s if one of our Magikarp is Prized, lowering our damage output to 150. With his help, we bump that up to 170, just enough to take one-hit Knock Outs on baby Mewtwo-EX, Giratina, Yveltal, all those non-FFB’d EXs. (We’re out of range on those 180-HP Pokémon, but we’ll talk about how we can change that, too.) Giovanni’s Scheme is definitely a neat pick for the deck and can help early game to take down some bigger EXs without as much setup.
  • 4 Puzzle of Time? Is this Night March? No siree. When we need to grab critical cards out of the discard every time a Gyarados goes down, it’s only natural that we run Puzzle of Time to recycle those resources. By playing one Puzzle, we get to rearrange the top three cards of our deck as we see fit. Play two, and you get to search your discard pile for two of whatever card you need and add them to your hand. This combines very well with Teammates (as we’ve seen in Night March) to make the most of every Knock Out on our side of the board, because we can get that swag second effect if we Teammates for the missing Puzzle piece. Even if we play just the one Puzzle of Time in a pinch, we can control our draw for the next turn or prioritize what we grab off of a smaller Abyssal Hand (say, drawing for one). Needless to say, this card promotes consistency.
  • Stylin’ with 3 Acro Bike! If you remember decks like Vespiquen / Vileplume and Night March from last format, you’ll find that some variations of these turbo archetypes utilized Acro Bike to burn through the deck for key resources as quickly as possible. Because Gyarados is similar in that regard, we’re gonna toss in a few Bikes as well. We aren’t as concerned with discarding a card as a penalty for drawing one, because that is usually recycled with Puzzle of Time or one of the cards we’ll discuss in the next bullet. When all’s said and done, Acro Bike is more often than not a high-reward low-risk card for the deck. Note that not all decks can use Acro Bike in their lists because they simply can’t afford to discard resources that they can’t get back.
Still not over the name of this card
  • The 2 Super Rod / 1 Buddy-Buddy Rescue Split. This is why Acro Bike has more swag. If we have to get rid of a Gyarados or a Magikarp or a piece of that 1-1 Octillery line, it’s not the end of the world. Super Rod picks up multiple fallen Gyarados at a time while Buddy-Buddy Rescue directs them right to your hand. The argument to opt out of Buddy-Buddy would be because its effect also adds Pokémon to your opponent’s hand as well, helping them get precious attackers and can pave a path back into the game. Personally, this split can be debated and/or Super Rod could be exempted from the list entirely. I don’t mind helping my opponent out with a Buddy-Buddy because I would rather have whatever got Knocked Out or in my discard pile be guaranteed in my hand when I play the Item rather than have to dig with a follow-up Dive Ball or Ultra Ball. But…this isn’t my list. Hah.
  • Lastly, the singleton Items. The cards we have one-ofs (other than the Buddy-Buddy) include: Escape RopeFloat StoneLevel BallSpecial Charge, and Town Map. We like Escape Rope and Float Stone in case one of our Octillery or Shaymin get stuck active because they can switch em out without paying a Retreat Cost. I’m a big fan of Escape Rope as well because this could potentially move an undesirable Pokémon out of your opponent’s Active slot to something smaller or less threatening that Gyarados can put some damage on. Level Ball grabs us any Pokémon with 90 HP or less, meaning that’s a free Magikarp, Remoraid, or Octillery. That’s consistency that we like. In case we discard DCE from Acro Bike or from an unfortunate Sycamore or Ultra Ball, Special Charge gets us two of those back into the deck. If we avoid playing the Shaymin, we’re forcing our opponent to take six Prizes – six Gyarados. We’d like to power all of those up if we can, so by having Special Charge, we functionally have six Double Colorless Energy at our disposal. Finally, Town Map flips over our Prize Cards so we know exactly what we’re grabbing when we take Knock Outs. When we hit EX Pokémon, we’re taking two at a time, so we can pick Prizes that set up for combos. It’s good.

The four DCE don’t need their own section. We’re only using Full Retaliation in this deck and it only requires one of these per Gyarados. Anything else is completely unnecessary and a waste of space. Four DCE is perfect.

Talkin’ Techs

What can help particular matchups depends on what you choose to tech in your deck, and Gyarados has some room to work with. I’m not saying it’s a whole lot, but there may be a few cards in Evan’s list you may disagree with or feel aren’t as important as some of the other cards I’m going to mention. There are three big ones on my radar right now – let’s talk.

Meow’s a good time to try teching this in Gyarados
  • Bursting Balloon. You’ve got an Ancient Trait, why not give it a go? Now more often than not you’re not gonna have two Balloon attached to a Gyarados at a time…but it’s definitely possible. If you time your Puzzles or hold onto em at just the right moment, you can deal some serious residual damage from Bursting Balloon. Placing six damage counters on your opponent’s Active Pokémon after they deal damage to you, penalizes your opponent hard for laying hands on your Gyarados. Two Bursting Balloon? Yeah. They’re gonna dig for a Lysandre. Bursting Balloon can help when you don’t have the extra damage on a Magikarp or if one is Prized early game, and can make your opponent think twice about attacking and choose a sub-optimal play instead. This could be another turn to find Magikarp, or to Lysandre a smaller target to grab ‘Karp from the Prizes. What’s great about Bursting Balloon is that if your opponent Knocks themselves Out when attacking, you get the advantage of choosing your Prizes moving into your turn (potentially knowing what you need with Town Map) and doing whatever you need to get fully set up. Not a bad card to consider.
  • Pokémon Ranger. We’re gonna talk about Giratina later, but it is a strong counter to the deck. Furthermore, Glaceon-EX can also cause problems in Vileplume lock decks, nullifying any damage done by Evolved Pokémon with its Crystal Ray attack. Pokémon Ranger remedies that issue by voiding those effects for a turn. This is all we need to potentially make a comeback. Against Giratina, cancelling the effects of Chaos Wheel gives us breathing room to play Double Colorless Energy and bring Magma’s Secret Base back into play if it was booted out. Doing so might give us the opening to OHKO the Giratina and worry about one less Chaos Wheel. Against Glaceon, well…we breeze through the Crystal Ray and (hopefully) take a Knock Out. With the rise of DarkTinaGarb from Orlando’s Regional results, this a one-of must-have in every Gyarados deck.
  • Meowstic-EX. Popularized by Addison Powell, (who placed 16th at Orlando Regionals), Meowstic-EX might finally find herself out of the binder and into deck sleeves. After pulling two of my own out of Generations packs, I was getting pretty upset with my luck when cooler cards like Jolteon-EX were available. Now that I see her actually making moves, I’m excited to see if she’ll go places. Meowstic’s strength is in her Ability, Shadow Ear. If Meowstic’s in the Active slot, you get to move a damage counter from one of your Pokémon to one of your opponent’s Pokémon. This sounds underwhelming at first, but with a Float Stone attached and residual damage built on maybe a Shaymin drop or Octillery or whatever, you can promote Meowstic as your pivot Pokémon, fire off the Ability, and slowly heal your damaged Bench and help with the math on the bigger baddies like the aforementioned Mega Ray and Mega Scizor. In some matchups the 10 damage isn’t all that critical, but in a meta where those two are particularly big…we can commit the space.

Gyarados VS The Meta

What we define as “the meta” right now is pretty diverse. We haven’t seen one like this in a while, and it’s refreshing to say. I’ll cover the big five (promoted from the “big six” lol) and we’ll see how Gyarados fares against em. Sidenote: the numbers do not rank the deck in any form of tierlist or whatever haha.)

1. DarkTinaGarb — I Hope You Have Pokémon Ranger Handy

Giratina

Pretty much what Chaos Wheel feels like

Clearly the biggest deck and one of the most popular from the past weekend, DarkTinaGarb is making serious strides in the meta right now. As mentioned before, Chaos Wheel can shut you down entirely if you’re locked from playing Double Colorless Energy, so it can get very scary very fast. On the other hand, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As long as you have a DCE attached somewhere, you might be able to forge a comeback by Lysandre-ing something on the Bench until you get the Ranger you need. If that Ranger is Prized, you’re gonna want that Town Map lol. Thankfully, Giratina doesn’t one-shot Gyarados, not even with Fighting Fury Belt, whiffing by 20 damage. This gives us time to dig with Acro Bike or Trainers’ Mail to find that critical Supporter to turn the tides on the game.

In short, Gyarados users need to have a solid setup if they want success against this deck. As long as you can get three damaged Karp on the Bench by the second turn or however long it takes for the opponent to fire off the Chaos Wheel, you’re gonna be fine. Due to the sheer speed of DarkTinaGarb with Max Elixir involved, this is obviously a tricky matchup. I’m giving the edge to DarkTinaGarb as of right now, but the odds aren’t unwinnable.

2. M Mewtwo-EX — Keep Team Swagma’s Secret Base in Play

Mega Mewtwo was also a popular deck in Orlando but also has been for the last couple of months. It finds strength in opponent’s needing multiple Energy to attack and in Damage Change, baby Mewtwo’s second attack. If you have two Psychic Energy and a whatever Energy, you can couple Shrine of Memories with your Mega Mewtwo to fire off a Damage Change attack which does exactly that – change damage. You swap the number of damage counters with your opponent’s Active Pokémon with Mewtwo, potentially moving all the damage you just received onto your opponent’s board while healing completely. Mega Mewtwo conveniently stands at the 210-HP mark, meaning that we can cook up just enough damage with three 10-HP-left Karp on the Bench. What we don’t wanna do is swing for anything less than this.

If Shrine of Memories is in play and we use Full Retaliation for only 150, (with two Magikarp in play with two damage counters each), Damage Change heals off all that damage and slaps it right back onto our Gyarados, also dealing a Knock Out in return. If I’m the Gyarados player, I’m not attacking unless I know I’m taking a Knock Out. Bump the Shrine out of play for the Secret Base so your opponent doesn’t have this opportunity. After this is all said and done, the matchup lies in Gyarados’s favor for sure. Psychic Infinity indeed does take OHKOs on Gyarados if both Pokémon have just a DCE attached, but we end up winning because of the Prize trade.

3. Vileplume Lock — Yuck

A card designed to frustrate opponents everywhere

Items are so big in Gyarados. They’re the reason we can cycle through attackers, they’re the reason the deck is consistent. Vileplume shuts all of that down, and if they go first…ha. We gon’ lose. The Glaceon tech makes matters worse, meaning the pressure is on to find Pokémon Ranger and Hex Maniac, our only out to Irritating Pollen.

There might be hope if we go first and get some heavenly setup that includes damaging three Magikarp and finding a Hex Maniac for the following turn. Glaceon requires two attachments to get Crystal Ray going, which gives us a little bit of time to either Hex for another turn of Item burning to search for the Ranger or find a Lysandre to pick up Prizes elsewhere while we keep looking. It’s helpful to keep Team Magma’s Secret Base in play too, because Glaceon that take two extra damage counters see an HP drop from 170 to 150 as soon as they hit the board. Thus, we only need two Magikarp in play, making it a little easier on us to find the Knock Out. I’m drawing this one up as a big fat “L” otherwise, because our reliance on Items is just too big.

4. Rainbow Road — Non-EXs and non-EXs collide. What happens?

:(

What happens here is that we more often win. Here’s why. Rainbow Road gets its name from Xerneas‘s Rainbow Force attack that does a base damage of 10 with an additional 30 for each different type of Pokémon you have on your Bench. Against a Gyarados, you’ll need four different types, which is actually very achievable. You’d probably see a Shaymin, a Volcanion-EX, and another Xerneas at bare minimum. What we like about this is that they have EX Pokémon we can take advantage of. By Lysandering around the Xerneas and hitting those two-Prizers, we not only get more out of those Knock Outs but bump down the number of damage Xerneas does as well. Of course, it’s not difficult to replace just a couple of types, but they continue to leave other Pokémon out in the open for the taking.

Heads up though – Galvantula is a big problem. The moment you see a Joltik come down, that’s probably priority numero uno. Galvantula’s Double Thread attack hits two Benched Pokémon for 30 damage apiece, meaning your Magikarp become dinner for this guy. A well-timed Hex Maniac can go straight through your Mr. Mime, so it may be better to target the seemingly little guy before it evolves into a two-Prize-taking monster. Just putting that out there.

5. M Scizor-EX — Go First and Don’t Let Them Evolve

If you learned anything from my last article, it’s that Mega Scizor disrupts like it’s nobody’s business. Whether it’s discarding Stadiums or Special Energy, Iron Crusher gets the job done. 220 HP gets us right out of reach for the OHKO, but Meowstic may be able to fix that…unless Scizor runs Garbodor. Which it often does. Get ahead on the damage-switching shenanigans if you can, and follow that up for the 210 swing if you can make it happen before Garbotoxin kicks in and gets rid of Abilities. Iron Crusher miraculously does not OHKO Gyarados, but it gets rid of the DCE which can make things kinda weird. All of a sudden, Puzzle of Time and Special Charge become a lot more important and managing these particular resources become crucial for the match outcome.

This is a rough matchup. If you can hit the baby Scizor-EX to take Knock Outs and target Garbodor when there’s an opening, you may have a chance. You’ll need to manage the consistent DCE-discarding with what you choose to play early game and, and being careful with where you attach Energy. Crushing Hammer is not an uncommon card in Scizor builds, so seeing two of them go in one turn is a frightening sight. Don’t overcommit those Energy, and don’t burn Puzzle of Time when you don’t need to. Special Charge when there are actually two DCE in the discard pile. That sort of thing.

6. Yveltal Variants — Feels good, fam.

Slap

Chansey = us. Meowth = them.

I’ve been tinkering with Yveltal builds for Standard and I love going up against EX and Mega decks. Fright Night sizzles Spirit Links into nothing and hitting for 60 up front and another 60 to a Benched Pokémon-EX is insane. Unfortunately for the Yveltal player, we don’t play EXs for them to take advantage of. The biggest potential threat to this deck is Yveltal-EX, whose Evil Ball hits for 20 and another 20 for each Energy attached to both Yveltal-EX and the opponent’s Active. For Gyarados to get OHKO’d, it would need six Energy total (or five and a Fighting Fury Belt). Because we’re only gonna have one DCE attached at a time, this forces the Yveltal player to have four Energy attached to hit the 140. This isn’t impossible, but they’re gonna need to commit some Energy that they can’t quickly accelerate back. Meanwhile, we’re able to stream OHKOs on them, and Gyarados looks good doing it.

This isn’t a matchup I’m seeing any trouble with. If the Fright Night Yveltal sniped non-EXs, we’d be hurting for sure…but that isn’t the case. I mean, If an Oblivion Wing Yveltal wants to take a free Knock Out on the first turn, we’re able to take a return Knock Out with only two Magikarp if we can’t find the resources to get the third one. The matchup is very much tilted into our favor, and we enjoy seeing our opponents wanting to flip the table losing to a few fish.

Everybody Else

Mega Ray. Volcanion. Greninja. There are so many other decks out there that we can go over, but those were the biggest six that have made the biggest dents so far. (Which is kinda surprising. Like. Ray. Where you at?) I would argue that the Mega Ray matchup is favorable with Meowstic’s Ability being a game-changer, but also due to the sheer amount of Shaymin or Hoopa we can take down for two Prizes without needing the 210 and Shadow Ear combo. Volcanion is a stronger matchup due to its Weakness to Water, and Greninja should kinda be obsolete without Tool removal against the heavily popular Garbodor. In addition, the Greninja from XY has rotated, meaning we won’t see sniping until it reaches its BREAK form. Have any other matchups you’d like to review? Drop a comment and we’ll chat.

Believing the Hype?

It’s good to see fresh ideas make it far in tournaments as big as these. Whether or not you think Gyarados is S-tier or A-tier or whatever-tier, it’s worth to test with and against in order to understand just how it functions at a deeper level. It’s a fun deck too – watching dinky Magikarp fuel the strength of a far more fearsome Gyarados has always brought a smile to my face. When I played with the Gyarados from Stormfront, the feeling was very similar to what it is today playing with this deck, and I can’t wait to bring it to League (or maybe a League Challenge!?) one of these days.


Thank you all for reading another one of my articles! I’m so glad I was able to pump this particular one out this month (it’s been crazy, no lie) and I hope you’re able to take something away from it. Watching seeing this deck come to life was a sight to see, and I hope I carried that excitement in my article as well. As always, feel free to drop a comment or a critique on something you wished I had mentioned or something you liked about my writing. I’m all ears man.

Much appreciated and take it easy,

John / Serperior


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  1. blahblahbal Aspiring Trainer
    blahblahbal

    Member

  2. chella182 Aspiring Trainer
    chella182

    Member

    Literally the day after Orlando regionals all of my Gyarados I had listed on eBay sold instantly :D I'm not too sure whether I like the deck myself. You do describe some positive match-ups there, but I'm just not seeing its strength overall for now. I guess I'll be seeing it at my league soon with it being a budget deck, so I'll see how it performs, and it may become my new budget deck if I like it!
     
  3. Nyora The End of the World~
    Nyora

    Member

    You mention Pokémon Ranger several times in the article. I've looked over it several times, and there are 0 Pokémon Ranger in the deck list.
     
  4. Serperior 553/550
    Serperior

    Advanced Member Member

    @blahblahbal - haha. Two very different builds.

    @chella182 - thanks for the comment! I highly urge you to give it a go! It's a hard-hitting one-Prize attacker with a ton of consistency. Give that a run!

    @rainyman123 - thanks for reviewing the article several times! As mentioned, this is my buddy Evan Cole's list. He didn't include Pokémon Ranger in this list - he's most likely going to work that in (and I would too) after DarkTinaGarb's success this past weekend.
     
  5. BrianFrobey Aspiring Trainer
    BrianFrobey

    Member

    No Archie's?
     
  6. Serperior 553/550
    Serperior

    Advanced Member Member

    Archie's and Maxie's builds both took hits without Battle Compressor. It's difficult to get the exact cards you need in the discard pile all the while whittling your hand to just one card. While Archie's sounds like a novel idea, it's just not needed. Your damage output is already just where it needs to be in order to be competitive, so having four Benched Magikarp with damage isn't necessary. The Archie's route is more inconsistent and by forcing yourself to discard stuff (which could end up being valuable resources) hurts you in the long run.
     
  7. nepeta100 Aspiring Trainer
    nepeta100

    Member

    great article I really want to try out the deck now
     
  8. chella182 Aspiring Trainer
    chella182

    Member

    Yeah so the deck won the League Challenge I was at yesterday, so I guess it does have some power!