Let’s talk numbers, 240 HP and an unrivaled raw power of 180 damage, before modifiers; Shiftry-GX is a beast! It is perhaps a better partner with Zoroark-GX than Gardevoir-GX or other Stage 2 Pokemon were. Adding Choice Band brings the damage up to 210! That’s enough to deal a one-hit Knock Out on a Zoroark-GX, as well as other popular Pokemon like Golisopod-GX. Hitting 180 damage is already enough to pop a Rayquaza-GX or Tapu Lele-GX, speeding things up in your favor in a trade of Prizes. The downside is matching your opponent’s hand size. It is easy using Zoroark-GX’s Trade, Ultra Ball, and so many other ways to add or subtract cards from your hand. Doing 180 damage in an easily accessible fashion is going to be a huge burst of potential. In addition, Perplex is a solid way to stall a turn and force your opponent into an awkward situation. Den of Iniquity GX is a failsafe for when you can’t knock something out; putting a Pokemon and all cards attached to it back into your opponent’s deck is just about as good as taking a one-hit Knock Out, you’re just removing the immediate threat. Its Weakness is mostly irrelevant and a retreat cost of two means Float Stone and Double Colorless can handle it.
Why is Shiftry-GX Good?
I see you’re confused, “Why is this even good with Zoroark-GX? Zoroark-GX isn’t good on its own, it’s underpowered and underwhelming in the Standard format.” Don’t get me wrong, disruption cards are a “partner”, so don’t be confused if you think I’m underselling the Zoroark-GX / Oranguru deck. Shiftry-GX can take multiple hits if you’re playing it with Zoroark-GX. Better yet, you can power it up in one turn using Masked Royal or Multi Switch. When you come out of nowhere with a huge Stage 2 with 240 HP, your opponent will need a lot to address it. The Grass typing makes you strong against Lycanroc-GX, and Seedot (60 HP) is a formidable attacker against a Lycanroc-GX itself! Stampede does 30 damage, and with a Choice Band you can smack a Lycanroc-GX for 120! It’s enough to give you another option in what would have otherwise been a rough matchup. Perplex presents some nice math in conjunction with Stampede against a Lycanroc-GX with 200 HP and Grass Weakness: Stampede for 30*2 = 60; Perplex with Choice Band for 70*2 = 140, 60+140 = 200 damage.
A strong partner deserves a home where it can be successful. Zoroark-GX is always going to welcome Shiftry-GX with open arms and I’ve found it to be the best place for it to have that success. You can use the Mallow engine like Tord Reklev did with Zoroark-GX / Gardevoir-GX back in Oceania to get Shiftry-GX going more efficiently. The best thing about this deck and what gives it a leg up on Zoroark-GX / Gardevoir-GX is that it has more HP and deals with Lycanroc-GX more effectively. Arguably, you could say that Shiftry-GX is better fitted for handling Zoroark-GX mirrors as well by surviving more hits than something like Gallade.
Four Zorua and Four Zoroark-GX
This no different from other Zoroark-GX builds. You are playing a Stage 2 in your deck and you need to prioritize a consistent approach that will get you Zoroark-GX as quickly as possible. Having a complete set of four copies will give you better odds of finding it sooner and getting multiple in play so you can then build up Shiftry-GX and go to town.
Three Tapu Lele-GX
In the same light of consistency, having four Brigette as well as three Tapu Lele-GX gives you more than a 70% chance of starting with Brigette on your first turn. Tapu Lele-GX also gives you more ways to get a Mallow on your second turn, and a Shiftry-GX thereafter. The whole idea behind the Mallow engine is that it’s insanely hard to Knock Out a Shiftry-GX. This said, as long as you just get one on the Bench you’ll always have the Multi Switch play ready and your opponent will have to deal with other things in the meantime while you wait patiently for a Multi Switch play to present itself, or you just power up the Shiftry-GX manually!
Three Seedot and Two Shiftry-GX
You only “need” one Shiftry-GX per game. This is the optimal line to save space and resources on if you’re only looking to get a single Shiftry-GX out per game. Three Seedot protects you in case your opponent targets them, and two Shiftry-GX protects you against your Prizes or an unfortunate discard. You don’t want to play Nuzleaf in here because it’s just too slow and on the turn you put it down your opponent can then subsequently Guzma and KO it, wasting that Seedot entirely. I’d rather leave the ambiguity of not knowing when and where the Shiftry-GX could come down, making it more difficult for your opponent to pick any Seedot. The Rare Candy mechanism is just faster and more reliable in the long run to setting up Shiftry-GX, the ultimate goal.
I think every Zoroark-GX deck besides Garbodor variants should be playing at least one copy of Mew-EX. With it, you have an amazing answer to Psychic-weak Pokemon in a pinch and you also give yourself the best counter there is to Buzzwole decks. While Mew-EX does give up two Prizes, you can usually get that many or more with it copying the attacks of your Pokemon for Knock Outs. While Shiftry-GX gives you an advantage against Lycanroc-GX, Mew-EX is there to fill in against Buzzwole and Buzzwole-GX, as well as other things like Mewtwo-GX and Necrozma-GX against Malamar decks.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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