NagQuag + Keldeo-GX Spotlight — Better without Wishful Baton?

Naganadel / Quagsire has really become a staple in the Standard metagame in the past couple weeks. Only one deck rivals its use of Keldeo-GX and that would be the ever-so inconsistent Blastoise deck. This Stage 1 build sets up and maintains Keldeo-GX much more efficiently and Keldeo-GX can carry you against many matchups right on its own. In other ones you can attack with Quagsire itself, or include techs to individually cater a matchup to your liking. The deck was thought to be dead without Wishful Baton, rotating back in August, but to be frank the deck is better now than it ever was without it. That’s primarily because Keldeo-GX is powerful right now, as is the Water type. The non-GX supporting cast, quite literally, of the deck make great attackers in their own right to soften targets up and screw up the Prize trade for your opponent.

List and Explanations

This deck has seen success at a high level on two separate occasions now: the DC Open and a Special Event in Australia. I’ve faced it a handful of times at local events now myself; the hype and popularity is there for it to be a real threat. Here’s my current list, a blend of the two popularized ones with some changes:

Pokemon (21)

4x Quagsire (DRM #26)4x Wooper (DRM #25)4x Naganadel (LOT #108)4x Poipole (FOL #55)3x Keldeo-GX (UNM #47)1x Ditto Prism Star (LOT #154)1x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)

Trainers (29)

4x Lillie (ULP #125)4x Cynthia (ULP #119)4x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)4x Mysterious Treasure (FOL #113)4x Custom Catcher (LOT #171)4x Acro Bike (CES #123)2x Pokégear 3.0 (UNB #182)1x U-Turn Board (UNM #211)2x Viridian Forest (TEU #156)

Energy (10)

10x Water Energy (EVO #93)

Four Wooper, Four Quagsire, Four Poipole, Four Naganadel, and One Ditto Prism Star

It’s simple, without Nest Ball and Ultra Ball you want to find these Pokemon to make your deck run. Yes, it’s sixteen slots eaten up right away, but without the maxed out lines you’re going to be more clunky and inconsistent than you already are. Playing as many as you can increases your odds of drawing into the Basic Pokemon naturally in the early game and finding the Stage 1 Pokemon afterwards without having to burn all your Pokemon Communication. If this deck falters in setup, unless you’re up against something that automatically loses to Keldeo-GX, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.

Three Keldeo-GX

There are multiple decks in the format that fold to a single Keldeo-GX, there are even more that concede to two of them. Having three defends you against bad Prizes and helps you find them early so you don’t have to put extra Pokemon down (Prizes an opponent can actually take) while you wait. Keldeo-GX isn’t a tank or hard-hitter, it’s just a craft Pokemon that makes a solid enough attacker in matchups where Pokemon-GX aren’t as prevalent but can carry games outright in matchups where they are. Last time, I talked about Spiritomb, one of the few non-GX builds out there. Being that as it is, Keldeo-GX is extremely powerful against most decks. I desire to go further into this developing “problem” later on, stay tuned…

One Dedenne-GX

It might seem counter-intuitive to play such a squishy Pokemon with such a drawback in this deck, but you need all the support you can get to stave off bad starts. Pokemon Communication is your only way to search out Dedenne-GX, but that’s fine. It’ll save you more than you know and prove its value eventually; it makes dead hands alive and well!

Four Custom Catcher

Most decks don’t need an explanation for such a card, but this deck is very similar to the Darkness Toolbox that’s really fallen off. That deck doesn’t always play Custom Catcher, but probably should. This one’s no different, but I’d argue that the card is even more important in here. It can eliminate a non-GX threat off your opponent’s Bench before it can truly be a problem and then Keldeo-GX is free to run your opponent over. Custom Catcher also speeds up the game and doesn’t encourage a waiting game where your opponent builds a combo to one-shot a Keldeo-GX or something to that effect. Even when it’s not used in a pair, it can save you from a bad hand and draw you some extra cards. This deck can mostly play its cards down immediately for some effect, dropping your hand size down and making the Custom Catcher have some consistency value.

One U-Turn Board

Some lists have opted for an Escape Board instead, but I prefer U-Turn Board because it can be used multiple times. The reason a card of this nature is even good in this deck in the first place is because it makes your Naganadel have free retreat. The nice thing about that is the pivot it creates: you can push a Naganadel up after any Knock Out your opponent takes. This saves an Energy from being discarded with your normal Retreat Cost. Keeping Energy in play for this deck makes Quagsire a greater threat with its Hydro Pump, your big-hit potential and finisher. Quagsire is a support Pokemon and an attacker in here, never force it up to attack unless you have another Wooper or Quagsire on the Bench ready, unless it’s stopping the only attacking threat or winning you the game.

Options

Escape Board | My Percent Chance of Adding It: 0%

There is no doubt in my mind that U-Turn Board is superior in this deck. Unless some Asleep or Paralysis deck arises in the near future I won’t be making this change. That is quite literally the only reason to ever opt for Escape Board over U-Turn Board in this deck.

Pheromosa and Buzzwole-GX and Unit Energy GFW | My Percent Chance of Adding It: 5%

This gimmick is cute but unreasonable. The idea is to use Beast Game GX as a surpise to tilt the Prize exchange in your favor, but it requires a bunch of additional Energy on your attacker, a three Prize TAG TEAM Pokemon-GX. If you ever start with the Pheromosa and Buzzwole-GX (just like Magikarp and Wailord-GX) you’re going to be in a world of hurt. The idea is fine and dandy but simply not as easy and reliable as something I would include in my list, an addition that comes with great space cost as well.

Quagsire from Unbroken Bonds | My Percent Chance of Adding It: 15%

The Fighting-type Quagsire is a nice tech for Fighting-weak matchups like Pikachu and Zekrom-GX which can be tough, even moreso without the next card on the list. However, Keldeo-GX already gets you super far in that matchup as it is, but some lists are beginning to play ePower Plant to counter Keldeo-GX so perhaps playing this Fighting-type is worthwhile. What I don’t like is that it eats up a Wooper or your Ditto Prism Star without becoming the backbone of the deck and it makes you weaker to your other support Quagsire being Knocked Out. Using Hydro Pump more aggressively becomes less possible and in matchups where your opponent isn’t weak to Fighting this is almost useless.


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