Attack on Anaheim — Four Standard Decks That Rise to the Top with Sun and Moon

Hello readers! Zander Bennett here once again. Today we’re going to be looking over four plays that stay alive with Sun and Moon coming out! This set as a whole is phenomenal, and there are a lot of new cards to mess around with. However, it is important to not forget the cards that are proven to be powerful when we look forward. Obviously, the main change going into Sun and Moon is the new Pokemon-GX mechanic, which rival Pokemon-EX for the two-Prize attacker slot. With a lot of the Pokemon-GX (Umbreon-GX, Espeon-GX, Gumshoos-GX, Decidueye-GX, Lurantis-GX, etc.) all seeming good, it’s going to be important to have decks that can reliably and consistently Knock Out these new Pokemon. So, today, we’ll look at four decks that I expect to remain viable with Sun and Moon’s release!

It’s funny, since my first article was four Expanded plays, my second article was two Expanded and two Standard plays, and now here we are talking about four Standard plays. It’s not important but personally I found this funny. Now, let’s cut right to the chase. You basically always prefer to one shot Pokemon in this metagame. Pokemon are so powerful that if they get the chance to live for the turn, it largely impacts the board state as a whole.


Since its release, I’ve enjoyed Volcanion. Though it is a rather linear deck, I will admit, I definitely feel like there is some skill and differentiation between lists. Even if the strategy is mostly the same for what the deck is doing, there are many differences in lists. When Dalen Dockery and I played this list for Orlando, we ran four Bursting Balloon, two Faded Town, and two Parallel City, while other lists were running Sky Field, Scorched Earth, Fighting Fury Belt, Max Elixir, or heavy Item draw counts such as Trainers' Mail and Acro Bike. It’s a spacious deck where you are able to choose the direction you want to take. For this version, I’m running a consistent, simple list to take into the volatile future metagame.

Pokemon (11)

4x Volcanion-EX (STS #26)3x Volcanion (STS #25)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)1x Hoopa-EX (AOR #36)1x Entei (AOR #14)

Trainers (38)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (AOR #78)1x Fisherman (BKT #136)1x Pokémon Ranger (STS #104)1x Olympia (GEN #66)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Max Elixir (BKP #102)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)2x Energy Retrieval (PRC #126)2x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Escape Rope (PRC #127)2x Sky Field (RSK #89)1x Parallel City (BKT #145)

Energy (11)

11x Fire Energy (XY #133)

This list is simple, and that’s okay. These are the lists that I would play if I was going to Anaheim, and one of my biggest mantras is the notion of wanting all of my cards to do something in every matchup. I never want to sit on dead cards. The trick to doing well at Regionals, and I swear by this, is only to have the most necessary of techs in your deck, techs that change matchups from atrocious to absolutely amazing, and if it isn’t that good, then don’t run it and grind the matchup till you have a gameplan.

Here are the big changes for this deck going into Sun and Moon.

One Entei and One Parallel City

Entei is the closest thing to a tech that this list runs, but at this point it might even be a staple. There are two main reasons to run Entei, both of which are to completely flip certain matchups.

The first is that Entei is a two-Energy attacker that kills Garbodor. With most players only being able to get out only one Garbodor, Entei is your most efficient answer to kill it without wasting resources (by that I mean another Energy, or an Energy and an extra Prize card). Entei is also good against M Rayquaza-EX, a matchup that is awful, and gives you an answer to one of their attackers, which is enough to make it so a Volcanion-EX can come through and clean up shop in combination with Parallel City.

Speaking of Parallel City, I still think it is one of the most important cards in any bulky Pokemon-EX deck in the format. Both sides offer many strengths, the blue side (as just mentioned) can put M Rayquaza-EX or M Gardevoir-EX on the back foot, and can also discard extra Energy on Turbo Dark’s board since they commonly spread their Energy amongst multiple Benched Pokemon.

Four Max Elixir

Though four Max Elixir is nothing new to most Volcanion lists, since it is one of the big differences between my last list and this list, I find it necessary to describe why we made this change.

Bursting Balloon and Faded Town were in this list with one matchup in mind, M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor. The math, which Dalen covered, was that they would eventually have to attack into Bursting Balloon and take the 60, and then you could Volcanic Heat for 130 and Faded Town for 20, putting them at exactly 210. This was helpful but took time to set up. Once they got two Mega Mewtwo out, along with Garbodor, they would win. I went 1-1 against Volcanion at Orlando Regionals but luckily M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor isn’t the main issue anymore. In the new format Yveltal / Garbodor will drop in popularity due to Yveltal not being able to snipe Pokemon-GX. Yveltal / Garbodor was once a large threat but it is falling in popularity.

While we are on this topic let’s look at a few more noteworthy interactions Pokemon-GX have.

  • You can Wally into a Pokemon-GX.
  • Resistance Blizzard (Regice’s attack) does not block Pokemon-GX’s attacks.
  • Safeguard (Sigilyph, Suicune, and Carbink) does not stop Pokemon-GX.
  • Pokemon-GX do not factor into the damage calculation for Salamence-EX‘s Beast Fang attack.
  • Hoopa-EX cannot search for Pokemon-GX off of Scoundrel Ring.

Two Escape Rope, Two Float Stone, and One Olympia

With Fright Night Yveltal dropping in popularity, lists should definitely be running two Float Stone if they previously cut down to one in exchange for another switching method. This plethora of switching cards gives you the highest chances of attacking with a Volcanion turn one, as well as enough options to reset Volcanic Heat for when you can’t hit Pokémon Ranger.

Volcanion has been kind of on the back foot recently in this metagame, with multiple top decks having seemingly positive matchups versus Volcanion, but the metagame changes coming into Sun and Moon. Greninja, one of the best decks coming into this metagame, gets worse with Lurantis-GX and Decidueye-GX both being beefy Grass types that can easily trade with Greninja. Yveltal, as mentioned, is seeing less and less play and also gets worse with better Dark decks existing (Turbo Dark) or coming out(Umbreon-GX). Though the matchups versus M Gardevoir-EX and M Mewtwo-EX are still not great, you gain easy matchups in the form of Lurantis-GX, Umbreon-GX, and Decidueye-GX. Though it is unknown how viable these decks will be, there is a lot of promise in each of them, and out of the gate Volcanion takes free wins on each of them.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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