Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be writing another article for you. Last time, I talked about some of the key new cards in the Paldea Evolved expansion, such as Iono and Reversal Energy as well as a bit about one of my favorite new archetypes, Chien-Pao ex / Baxcalibur, a deck which I still consider to be one of the top decks in the current format. As of now, I would say this deck is still one of my top picks, largely because Blastoise was one of my favorite decks when I was younger, but also because I think the deck is capable of making an incredibly deeper run with reasonably good matchups against most of the decks in the current Standard format.
As the format continues to develop within its infancy, we are slowly starting to see the meta take shape. As expected, the deck to beat continues to be Gardevoir ex with the release of Iono and a reprint of Super Rod propelling the deck into the stratosphere when it comes to the deck’s position in the metagame. With an effective game plan against almost every deck in the format, the deck does give off the illusion of it being almost unbeatable, but that is not exactly the case either. Just like in the Scarlet and Violet format, Lost Zone decks continue to give Gardevoir ex some problems, but to a far lesser extent than before, largely thanks to Iono. The combination of Judge (or Iono) and Path to the Peak also continues to give the deck trouble, but this particular combo seems to be a bit less popular now than it was last format, possibly due to the emergence of Spiritomb, which makes hard counter decks to Mew VMAX a bit less valuable. However, to the surprise of some, Mew VMAX is still extremely strong with the Fusion Strike Energy build thanks to its immunity to Spiritomb should the opponent play it. The ever present Lugia VSTAR also seems to be sticking around, and as a natural beneficiary to less Path to the Peak, the deck is poised to do quite well at upcoming events in this format.
All of this brings us to one final deck that I want to take a look at, and that is Lost Zone Giratina VSTAR, the main topic of this article. Seemingly out of nowhere, Giratina VSTAR has seemed to star popping up again as a potentially strong deck in the format after over six months of being considered borderline unplayable or just strictly worse than its Arceus VSTAR cousin. In order to best understand what has changed for Giratina VSTAR, we first need to take a step back and look at what went wrong for it in the first place.
What Went Wrong for Giratina VSTAR?
When Lost Origin first released, the community was heavily divided on the best way to use the new Lost Zone cards. On one side of the argument were people arguing in favor of Sableye / Radiant Charizard decks, which largely benefitted from being strong against two of the best decks in the previous format, Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and Inteleon / Radiant Charizard. The fast Sableye strategy proved to be highly effective and it led to Tord Reklev winning the Peoria Regional Championships, which was the first major tournament where Lost Origin was legal. Also at Peoria, we saw a large amount of success from Giratina VSTAR. This deck was largely good because of its sheer damage output, almost completely invalidating most Arceus VSTAR strategies which had been at the top of the Astral Radiance format. It also benefitted from Radiant Greninja and its own Sableye to be able to have competitive games with single Prize attackers, such as the other Lost Zone decks.
Unfortunately, while it saw some consistent success in that format, Giratina VSTAR never was quite good enough to win a Regional Championship, largely due to the card itself actually not being all that great. While Star Requiem is an absolutely absurd attack that almost singlehandedly makes the deck good, Lost Impact is rather lacking, aside from doing a massive amount of damage. In the past, I have talked about cards doing “too much damage” referring to the idea that attacks that do massive amounts of damage typically have big drawbacks that you would rather avoid in exchange for doing a little less damage, and that was exactly Giratina VSTAR’s problem in that format. It did not really do anything special, only acting as a big attacker in a format with Mew VMAX or Radiant Charizard around to take big Knock Outs instead. The card just had an inherent flaw where it was not good enough at doing what it was designed for.
Then came the next format, Silver Tempest, and in this format, Giratina VSTAR’s problem went from being a minor issue that did not completely invalidate the deck, to now being a problem so massive that the deck was basically unplayable. Between having a very difficult time taking a Knock Out on Lugia VSTAR and struggling to keep up with cards like Yveltal, the format advanced so far beyond Giratina VSTAR that it just could not possibly try to keep up with an extremely fast metagame. Giratina VSTAR would ultimately need a format that was slower, similar to the Lost Origin format, in order to truly shine again.
What changed for Giratina VSTAR?
In the Paldea Evolved format, following the rotation of the early Sword and Shield sets as well as the release of various game slowing cards like Iono, Giratina VSTAR may have finally found its foot in the meta again. Lost Impact still has the issue of doing too much damage, possibly even being worse of an issue now than it was in the Lost Origin format, but Star Requiem continues to be an extremely strong attack and the addition of Iono in place of Roxanne from deck lists in the past is a perfect way to open the doors for Giratina VSTAR once again.
Mew VMAX continues to be one of the deck’s best matchups, often locking up the game with either the combination of Drapion V and Star Requiem or just using Spiritomb to get ahead. The Gardevoir ex matchup, while not easy by any means, is very winnable, acting as a Lost Zone deck in the early game before switching to taking a one-hit Knock Out on Gardevoir ex toward the end of the game to swing the Prize trade. Lost Zone decks still can be a bit annoying, but with a few Cramorant and Sableye, you can keep up before using an Iono and a Giratina VSTAR to swing the Prize trade back in your favor. Finally, of course, is the deck’s biggest adversary, Lugia VSTAR, which continues to be a bit of a difficult matchup. But Lugia VSTAR decks in general are much weaker now than they were in the Silver Tempest format, which allows for Giratina VSTAR to gain some footing to keep up with Lugia VSTAR’s power for most of the game. All of a sudden, every matchup in the format has become winnable, which should be plenty of a case to justify playing Giratina VSTAR once again.
With a case built for Giratina VSTAR’s redemption, how about we take a better look at a deck list for it and what makes it tick.
Giratina VSTAR Deck List
With the way I have been talking, I am sure you have picked up on the way that Giratina VSTAR decks tend to work in the current format. The early game is very similar to that of any other Lost Zone deck, using a few Comfey and Colress's Experiment to get things started until you hit seven cards in the Lost Zone to activate Mirage Gate. Once Mirage Gate is online, the deck starts to get much more complex. With many more attacks at your disposal, it becomes important to properly manage all of the resources that the deck has in order to use them in the most effective way to take all of your Prize cards.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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