With both Worlds and the Anaheim Open only a few days away, I thought it would be beneficial to devote an entire article to the most hyped deck to come from Burning Shadows, Gardevoir GX.

I think that Anaheim is going to be filled with a lot of different decks, not just a sea of pink, and I don’t think Gardevoir GX is necessarily the best deck or the perfect play (although it may well be!). The format is too open and undefined, host to too many good decks with a diverse set of strengths and weaknesses, for any one deck to stand head and shoulders above all the rest, at least from my vantage point.

Okay, the disclaimers are out of the way. The point is that Gardevoir GX is a deck you should be intimately familiar with: it’s hyped, it has all the hallmarks of a tier one contender, it won Japan’s National tournament recently and it is also far more “mysterious” than a well-known and discussed deck like Decidueye GX/Vileplume given its newness.

I am going to present you with two lists sourced from respected players and YouTubers Pablo Meza and Josh Marking (both lists are public), one that runs Gallade and Octillery (the most popular variant) and one that omits those two supporting Pokemon (far less popular but still out there as an option and something you may encounter in Anaheim). Before I get into these lists, I want to go over some of the basics of Gardevoir GX as a card and deck focus.

 

Gardevoir GX: general things to know

 

 

Main strategy/strong points

 

The goal of any Gardevoir GX variant is to use Gardevoir GX’s Secret Spring to attach extra energies to itself, allowing Infinite Force to do huge damage, enough to OHKO absolutely any Pokemon in the game under the right conditions (and often minimal effort since the Defending Pokemon will usually have energy on it, too). Gardevoir GX is basically a M Mewtwo EX for the Sun and Moon era. The opponent gets punished for attaching energy but they have no choice in the matter; even without the opponent’s help, Secret Spring plus DCE is a winning combination that allows for stupid numbers to be generated sometimes just from your own attachments.

Unlike most Stage 2s with energy acceleration Abilities, Gardevoir GX doesn’t need to be paired with any other attackers which frees up a bit of space in the deck for things like Octillery, extra Supporters and so on. The fact that Gardevoir GX supports its own attack also means that you have less pieces needed to start firing off meaningful attacks – you don’t have to fish for both a Stage 2 and also a main attacker because in this deck, the Stage 2 and the attacker are one and the same. Of course, Gardevoir GX CAN also support some other attacking options, namely Tapu Lele GX (Energy Drive is basically a mini-Infinite Force attack) and Gallade, but those cards are easy to slip into the deck/would be there regardless – they don’t take up extra room and they are not main attackers.

With 230 HP and a Resistance to Dark, not a lot of Pokemon can OHKO Gardevoir GX which only makes Infinite Force more frightening and difficult to control once it reaches a certain level of damage. Infinite Force belongs to the class of attack that is the most powerful in the game, a class that also includes Night March and Bee Revenge: once a certain state is achieved (in this case, enough energies on Gardevoir GX), only a KO is going to stop the carnage because there are no conditions that need to be met turn after turn, no drawbacks, no discarding of energy and so on. Nothing outside of a KO is going to stop you from declaring Infinite Force. A card like Tapu Bulu GX depends completely on a condition to be able to attack for 180+ a turn, by contrast (help from Vikavolt’s Strong Charge). With Infinite Force, as long as you have the energy sitting there on Gardevoir GX, you can keep taking KOs indefinitely.

Secret Spring stacks, too, allowing the deck to have even more explosive turns as well as the means to recover from KOs when they do come. The popular Octillery build of the deck is also able to reliably recover from N; the combination of constant N recovery plus Secret Spring(s) is scary and makes it hard for decks to stop the huge Infinite Force attacks from coming.

Gardevoir GX benefits from a generally slowed-down format which has arrived at this state due to a combination of factors, from the community’s need to lay off the Items to avoid losing to Garbodor to the simultaneous rise of other Stage 2 decks like Metagross GX and Greninja to a general spike in decks that feature some sort of Evolved Pokemon (Stage 1, Stage 2 and/or Mega). Sure, there are still some aggressive decks, and it’s not like any deck in the format is just sitting there on turn 5 still letting you freely do your thing, but there is definitely more of a deliberate pacing to this format and you do have more of an opportunity to set up Evolutions than in some of the more recent seasons. Gardevoir GX’s high HP, energy acceleration and OHKO power all combine to allow it to make comebacks once a good set up is achieved.

 

Anti-Trashalanche

 

I don’t know if the Pokemon Card Laboratory team consciously designed Twilight GX to be a hard counter to Garbodor’s Trashalanche, but this attack is exactly that: a very hard counter to what has been the single most devastating attack of this entire season. The ability to shuffle up to 10 Item cards back into the deck at any stage in the game stifles Trashalanche completely.

This is a big deal considering how dominant Garbodor variants have been since their debut, including at last week’s ARG Invitational event which was taken down by Garbodor/Espeon GX. Trashalanche is going to continue to be a factor in Anaheim. Of course this GX attack is not exclusively good because of its anti-Garbodor potential, either – unrestricted recovery times 10 is generally great, especially with Abyssal Hand there to help you draw back into some of those cards on subsequent turns. Twilight GX gives you insurance against resource loss, allowing you to run fewer copies of other recovery cards, not automatically lose from ugly Sycamores, put back game-winning cards like VS Seeker and so on.

 

Weaknesses

 

Metagross

 

As strong as Gardevoir GX is, it is not invincible.

 

OHKOs.

 

Not many Pokemon can deal 230 damage consistently or at all, but there are a few who can and Gardevoir GX hates them, namely Metagross GX and M Rayquaza EX at the moment. In the case of the former, type advantage and high HP (out of the range of an easy Infinite Force OHKO) equal a lot of trouble for Gardevoir GX.

I think that Metagross GX is an overall risky deck to run in Anaheim mainly because of its horrible Volcanion matchup but the single best reason to indeed sleeve Metagross GX up is the expected popularity of a certain ultra-loyal Fairy Pokemon. M Rayquaza EX seems like it could be a surprise play in Anaheim with its combination of explosiveness, consistency and OHKO ability and I don’t expect Gardevoir GX to be able to withstand a string of 240-damage Emerald Breaks. The Magearna EX variant would have an even better matchup as that typical Bench-sitter can actually step up and deal 240 itself to Gardevoir GX.

 

Stage 2 clunkiness.

 

With or without Octillery, Gardevoir GX is still a Stage 2 and with that reality comes the knowledge that there will be games lost solely due to lack of set up, excessive resource loss from Sycamore that even Twilight GX can’t fix, random dead hands and so on. The reward is high when you do set up, as is often the case with a good Stage 2 deck (see also Greninja, Metagross GX and Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu GX), but to balance that out you have to accept the risks associated with going the Stage 2 route.

 

Ability lock.

 

Secret Spring and, for many lists, Abyssal Hand are integral to the success of Gardevoir GX as a deck. Take these Abilities away consistently with Hex Maniac, Garbodor BKP or Greninja BKP’s Shadow Stitching and you have the potential to really put your foot on Gardevoir GX’s neck. One of the main reasons for Greninja’s hype as of late is its ability to turn off these Abilities every single turn with a one-Prize attacker that takes a lot to OHKO with Secret Spring.

 

Item lock.

 

Decidueye GX/Vileplume’s last stand is approaching and I definitely expect this deck to have a solid showing, especially given both the deck’s performance at last weekend’s ARG event (2nd place, piloted by Team Fish Knuckles’ own Josh “Squeaky” Marking) and the big Gyarados turnout at the same event. Why does this matter for Gardevoir GX? Well, Rare Candy is a big part of the Gardevoir GX equation and a quick Vileplume can be difficult or impossible to overcome. Irritating Pollen also clogs up the hand which hurts Octillery or outright renders it useless.

 

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