Playing Solitaire – Two Powerful Control Decks for Atlantic City / Cologne

Hello everyone! This is Grant Manley here once again. While I’d love to write another piece on Malamar, you’ve probably had enough of that for now. Today I’ll be discussing my other two top contenders for the Atlantic City Regional, which is just around the corner. Coincidentally, both of them are pretty nasty control decks. The first deck I want to go over is no stranger to competitive success, and that would be Pidgeotto Control. At this point, Pidgeotto is actually the deck I’m most likely to play at Atlantic City, though Malamar is certainly still up there. The second deck I’ll go over today is my own new rogue deck that is surprisingly effective. It functions similarly to the Oranguru / Shedinja deck I made earlier this year, but the list looks a lot different. You’ll have to read on (or scroll down) to see exactly what secret deck I’ve come up with this time.

Pidgeotto Control

Pokemon (17)

4x Oranguru (ULP #114)4x Pidgeotto (TEU #123)3x Pidgey (TEU #122)1x Pidgey (TEU #121)2x Articuno-GX (CES #31)1x Girafarig (LOT #94)1x Mew (UNB #76)1x Ditto Prism Star (LOT #154)

Trainers (38)

4x Professor Elm's Lecture (LOT #188)2x Mars (ULP #128)2x Lt. Surge's Strategy (UNB #178)2x Cynthia (ULP #119)2x Tate and Liza (CES #148)1x Jessie and James (HIF #58)4x Pokégear 3.0 (UNB #182)4x Acro Bike (CES #123)4x Crushing Hammer (ULP #166)3x Custom Catcher (LOT #171)2x Chip-Chip Ice Axe (UNB #165)2x Reset Stamp (UNM #206)2x Pal Pad (ULP #132)1x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)3x Power Plant (UNB #183)

Energy (5)

2x Recycle Energy (UNM #212)3x Water Energy (XY #134)

As you may know, this archetype made Top 8 at this year’s Worlds, first place at the DC Open, and it also cracked Top 4 at the recent Sheffield Regional in Europe. The two lists were somewhat similar to each other, with the main difference being Isaiah Williams’s Worlds list playing two Girafarig and Fabian Pujol’s Sheffield version playing none. Anyway, this deck is a pain to test because games take a long time, but this is my current list after a bit of refining.

For a brief review of the deck’s strategy, it aims to establish a late game hand lock and deck out the opponent. This is accomplished via cards like Reset Stamp, Lt. Surge's Strategy, Mars, Chip-Chip Ice Axe, and now Jessie and James. After the opponent takes a few Prize cards, you want to drop the combo on them in addition to Custom Catcher or Articuno-GX’s Cold Crush GX. When the opponent is left with no hand, an Active Pokemon with no Energy, and a useless topdeck thanks to the Ice Axe, they are left with no options. From there, Oranguru puts back the control cards so that you can prevent the opponent from doing anything until they deck out. Pidgeotto’s Air Mail enables the user to assemble the combo, and we have plenty of time to do so.

Jessie and James

The main surprise from Fabian’s list is the absence of Jessie and James, despite the card being released for Sheffield Regionals. I believe this omission is incorrect. Jessie and James is a powerful control card and it has been incredibly useful in testing. It allows you to establish the hand lock earlier than you otherwise could with Mars, and it can deck out opponents faster. Not to mention, it is a pseudo-third Mars. Fabian opted to just run the three copies of Mars, but Jessie and James offers more options and power to the deck. I would love to play a second copy of Jessie and James, but this deck is actually really tight on space.


I went with a middle-of-the-road approach to Girafarig by including one copy. I was almost set on not playing Girafarig because it wasn’t actually needed against Malamar in my testing. However, it offers a legitimate option to win against other control decks, and gives a distinct advantage in the mirror match if they do not also play Girafarig. Another use for Girafarig is against Mewtwo and Mew-GX decks, which is one of the scariest decks to face. Although I think the Mewtwo & Mew matchup is favorable, they have the most options to deal with this deck between Cross Division GX, Turbo Strike, Marshadow, and multiple copies of Stadium cards and Switch. First of all, Girafarig’s existence forces your opponent to play Espeon and Deoxys-GX on the Bench or risk it getting sent to the Lost Zone. This is a nice, juicy Custom Catcher target for Pidgeotto Control. Additionally, Girafarig can send cards like Solgaleo-GX and Naganadel-GX to the Lost Zone, stripping Mew3 of its Energy recursion and snipe options, respectively. Of course, Girafarig can also be useful against Malamar, it just isn’t critical in the matchup.

One Pokemon Communication

Running only one of these is admittedly a little greedy, but the engine can more or less get going off just Professor Elm's Lecture. Cutting down on Pokémon Communication is only to make room for other cards that I believe are essential, though it is an unfortunate concession to have to make. There are lots of games where I naturally draw into Oranguru and use Elm to fully set up the birds, so Pokemon Communication often ends up being unneeded. That said, consistency cards are always good to have.

Three Power Plant

Fabian ran three Power Plant, though the Worlds list only ran two. While you can probably get away with two Power Plant, I like playing three because I expect to run into lots of Mewtwo decks. Power Plant is devastating to Mewtwo & Mew; and as I already said, that is one of the sketchier matchups for this deck. Of course, Power Plant is useful against things like Naganadel-GX’s Ultra Conversion and Zeraora-GX’s Thunderclap Zone.

Two Recycle Energy

Recycle Energy is insanely useful for chaining Resource Management. It’s almost unbelievable to me that most lists to this point have only been running one. Without Recycle Energy, you are forced to use Resource Management to recover Water Energy! Recycle Energy helps guarantee a Resource Management every turn and also can act as a pivot. Igor Costa’s first place DC Open list ran a copy of U-Turn Board as a pivot card so you could preserve an extra bench spot by not requiring a second Oranguru on the bench at all times. Recycle Energy can fulfill this role while also acting as an Energy card along with its other benefits.


As far as matchups go, this deck either accomplishes the hard lock or it doesn’t. While some decks do have more options than others, they are usually powerless against this deck’s strategy. In an interview, Isaiah Williams put it perfectly: “This deck takes advantage of the fundamental way the game of Pokemon is played.” Pidgeotto Control takes away the opponent’s hand, all of their Energy, and controls their topdeck every turn. The only way to get out of the lock once in it is if a player has something like Zebstrika on their board. However, there are no relevant decks right now that actually play Zebstrika.

There are two major hiccups that this deck has to watch out for in terms of matchups. The first is the Quagsire / Naganadel deck. This isn’t really a hiccup, it’s a terrible matchup. There’s no reliable way for Pidgeotto to beat that deck as far as I’m aware, so just accept it as an auto-loss. In theory, Articuno-GX can attack and disrupt their board, but I haven’t actually tried playing this matchup. The second potential problem is Espeon & Deoxys-GX, which can delete three Pidgeotto at once with a full-powered Cross Division GX. The only two decks that run Espeon & Deoxys are Malamar and Mewtwo & Mew. Malamar usually can’t pull the move off in the matchup. Mewtwo & Mew can pull it off every once in awhile. It isn’t the end if that happens though. There’s a very real chance of being able to stick them with Reset Stamp + Power Plant while you reestablish your board of birds.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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