Pink Is The New Black — A Guide to Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX

Hello! We are officially at the end of the SUM-TEU Standard format. Opinions on it have been mixed; at the risk of disappointing you with my boring neutrality, I thought it was basically alright. There was some diversity in the format, although the best decks were figured out early and didn’t change much over the course of these three months. My main regret is that big Basic Pokemon are once again the centerpiece of the metagame, and this will probably stay the same as long as Tag Team Pokemon exist; but I suppose there’s no use lamenting the lack of Stage 2 Pokemon in the metagame in every article.

Instead, I’d like to delve into the new format. The deck I’ll be discussing today is Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX, which is either the second or third most hyped new deck of the set (depending on how you feel about Blacephalon; Reshiram and Charizard-GX is of course number one). It was, possibly, the best deck in the format in Japan before Double Blaze — the Japanese set with all the Fire support — came out, and has continued to perform well. It’s not the most flashy, but it’s been doing well in my testing, so I believe that the deck will find a good spot in the new metagame.

1. List

There’s a lot I want to say about the deck, but I know some of you want to see a list more than anything, so here is my current Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX deck. I will explain the guiding principles of the deck, and some of the card choices — including possible replacements.

Pokemon (9)

4x Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX (UNB #130)2x Mismagius (UNB #78)2x Misdreavus (CRI #39)1x Xerneas (CRI #73)

Trainers (42)

4x Green's Exploration (UNB #175)3x Acerola (BUS #112)2x Bill's Analysis (TEU #133)2x Judge (FOL #108)2x Guzma (BUS #115)2x Lt. Surge's Strategy (UNB #178)1x Erika's Hospitality (TEU #140)4x Pokégear 3.0 (UNB #182)3x Nest Ball (SM #123)2x Max Potion (EPO #94)2x Counter Catcher (CRI #91)2x Switch (RS #92)2x Energy Switch (SM #117)2x Dusk Stone (UNB #167)2x Choice Helmet (LOT #169)1x Fairy Charm L (UNB #172)1x Fairy Charm Ability (UNB #171)1x Adventure Bag (LOT #167)1x Field Blower (GUR #125)2x Viridian Forest (TEU #156)1x Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star (TEU #158)

Energy (9)

9x Fairy Energy (XY #140)

2. Playstyle

A New Type of Build

Often when the annual rotation is announced, players panic. For example, “I can’t play N anymore, what will I play to replace it?” Such questions are common but misguided. Adapting to rotation isn’t about switching cards one-for-one to play an inferior copy of a previous deck; you often need to start from scratch and challenge your assumptions of how the game works. Some rotations, of course, change the game more than others, but it made players think. Losing N means you can’t disrupt your opponent’s hand as often. On the other hand, it’s safer to accumulate cards in hand, which means that shuffling your hand to get a new one isn’t as good as before, which is why Lillie, not Cynthia, ended up being the preferred Supporter in many decks.

Why am I bringing this up? Because rotation is not the only time when the way we build decks is challenged. Some cards are so powerful they have this same effect, and I believe Green's Exploration is one of these cards. Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX, at least this version of the deck, functions thanks to Green’s Exploration.

Look at the above deck. There’s no Lillie or Cynthia, and only one Erika's Hospitality. You’re not drawing cards, you’re searching for them, and that’s a departure from what we’re used to! Sure, we’ve had a lot of searching cards as Items, and Supporters such as Skyla, but these were secondary to draw effects like Professor Juniper, N, Cynthia, Lillie, etc. The only decks that only use search Supporters are Stall decks which use Steven's Resolve and Lusamine, but Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX is not a Stall deck even if it sometimes behaves like one. It is a new type of deck.

Learning a new playstyle can take some time. You have to unlearn some habits, and accept that instead of drawing seven cards on your first turn with Lillie after putting a bunch of Basic Pokemon in play, you use Green’s Exploration for Nest Ball and another Green’s Exploration, and that’s okay.


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