Hey there PokeBeach readers! Over the past month, I’ve written four articles detailing nearly every deck I think is viable in the current Standard format. If you have not read any of them and want my insight on specific decks, check out my articles on Gardevoir and Lucario, as well as my overall meta snapshot. Since between myself and my fellow writers we’ve covered nearly everything viable in Standard, today I will instead address an important skill in the Pokemon Trading Card Game that often goes overlooked: deck building. I will be giving insight into my deck building process from building a skeleton to fleshing out the tech options, and by the end, I hope to make you a deck building pro!
The Process of Building a Deck
The first thing I do when building a deck is create a skeleton list. A skeleton list is a list that only has the absolute essentials for a deck to function. I believe it is important to create skeleton lists for decks to help you identify the deck’s main strategy, as well as any potential weaknesses that can be shored up once you flesh out your skeleton list with techs. The list is supposed to have less than 60 cards. In this process, you boil down your deck to the cards that you could never cut, such as four Ultra Ball.
Your skeleton list could include things like: your main Pokemon line; some amount of support Pokemon, like Tapu Lele-GX and Octillery; draw Supporters; setup Supporters, like Brigette; utility Supporters, like Guzma; Ultra Ball; Pokemon Tools; Stadium cards; and Energy. Some decks will have other cards that will be considered staples for that strategy, such as Rare Candy in Stage 2 decks and Kiawe in Ho-Oh-GX and Volcanion-EX decks, but for the most part this template should cover nearly every single deck in the format.
One thing I notice newer players and/or deck builders do when first creating skeleton lists is building a list with greater than 60 cards and then paring it down. While I used to do this, I have realized that this is a poor deck building strategy. If you have more than 60 cards in your skeleton list, that means you have not pared your list down to only essentials. If you do not identify the absolute core cards from the beginning, you are liable to cutting them later on after testing and tweaking your deck, which we never want to do. You can avoid this ever occurring in the first place by figuring out the essentials with a skeleton and then building out your list from there.
Once I’ve created a deck skeleton, I go into my next step: teching out my list. In this step, I decide what matchups I want to beat, what cards are not essential to helping the consistency and strength of the deck but that I still may want to include, and whether or not I want to increase card counts of essential cards to increase my odds of hitting that card. This is my favorite step in terms of deck building, as this is where you really get to make your list unique. Once you have identified the core cards for a deck, you can take the remaining spots and build your deck to beat nearly any deck in the format if teched correctly.
If you find that after testing a certain matchup, you are still struggling versus it, you can either add a few more specific techs for that matchup, or go completely back to the drawing board and try out a new strategy with your techs. For example, if I am playing Gardevoir-GX with two Gallade, zero Max Potion, and zero Parallel City, and I am still struggling with Zoroark-GX decks, I could go back to my skeleton and try adding two Max Potion and two Parallel City. I will still be playing Gardevoir, but I have built this list to deal with Zoroark in an entirely different way than my previous build.
This may seem like a lot to absorb in just writing, so I believe the best way to demonstrate the concept is through examples. Let’s take a look at a deck skeleton and then tech it in different ways to show how you can shape a list to your liking based on the criteria listed above. For this exercise, I’m going to be building my favorite deck in the format, Gardevoir.
Pokemon (16)3x Gardevoir-GX (BUS #140)1x Gallade (BKT #84)2x Kirlia (BUS #92)4x Ralts (AOR #52)2x Octillery (BKT #33)2x Remoraid (BKT #32)2x Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #137)
Trainers (20)3x N (NVI #101)2x Cynthia (ULP #148)2x Brigette (BKT #161)2x Guzma (BUS #143)4x Ultra Ball (SM #161)4x Rare Candy (GUR #165)2x Choice Band (BUS #162)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)
Energy (11)7x Fairy Energy (BUS #169)4x Double Colorless Energy (GUR #166)
This initial skeleton only has 47 cards in it. That leaves us 13 deck spaces to add non-essential techs to make our list stronger. Let’s go over each card in the list and determine how they correlate with the template.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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