The World Championships are less than a week away, and the entire Pokémon community seems to be excitedly trying to see what the best decks are with the addition of Burning Shadows.
Pokémon.com has published their own piece with what they expect to be the most likely successful ones. Their assessment of the best decks seems to be similar to my own: that Burning Shadows is not going to add too many new archetypes to the format (Golisopod and Gardevoir being the only ones they bothered mentioning), but it certainly changes quite a bit about the way some decks are being played.
I think the “old” deck that has gained the most is a deck that we haven’t given too much attention between the release of Guardians Rising and now is Volcanion. Part of the reason for that is because I don’t think the deck was turning out to be too great of a pick, especially since Garbodor decks kept on winning despite the metagame (and Volcanion itself) doing everything it could to adapt to it. Espeon/Garbodor, in particular, was always a very rough matchup.
Now, though, Volcanion has been given one simple but very effective tool that not only improves that one of its bad matchups but also makes it more dangerous as a whole…
Let’s take a look at a list I made from what the deck tended to look like in the previous Guardians Rising that I’ve been enjoying quite a lot.
Here’s My Deck List:
Pokémon – 13
4 Volcanion STS
2 Tapu Lele-GX
1 Staryu BKP
1 Starmie EVO
Trainer Cards – 33
4 Professor Sycamore
1 Hex Maniac
4 VS Seeker
4 Brooklet Hill
4 Ultra Ball
2 Field Blower
2 Float Stone
2 Choice Band
1 Rescue Stretcher
Energy – 14
14 Fire Energy
Total Cards – 60
So for those of you who haven’t tried a Volcanion deck since pre-Guardians Rising, let’s get up to speed real quick. Before Trashalanche was there, Volcanion could afford to play fully to its strength: aggression.
Volcanion players would often play 4 Max Elixir and 4 Energy Retrieval, knowing there was very little that could punish this reliance on Items. The only deck that really penalized this was Decidueye/Vileplume, a deck that Volcanion was still better at handling than any other deck. If you were paranoid about that, you could play an Olympia and you’d probably have yourself a matchup you could be confident in winning in a best of three.
Now enter Guardians Rising, and suddenly this massive reliance on Items was a no-go. What good is having 2 Volcanion-EX all charged up turn 2 if it also forces you to use 7+ items, putting you in that precarious spot where Trashalanche Garbodor could come up and just OHKO your EXes for a single Energy? So Volcanion had to adapt and slow down. A 1-1 Space Beacon Starmie would replace Max Elixir, either partially or entirely depending on the preferences of the player. Instead of always playing Ultra Ball or Hoopa-EX for basic Pokémon, Brooklet Hill was added to the deck to give the deck an Itemless way to get out Volcanion-EX and Staryu.
One strange carry-over from the pre-GRI days was that a lot of people still ran Fighting Fury Belt instead of Choice Band despite the release of Field Blower. Now Volcanion doesn’t exactly need the damage boost from Choice Band, but I still always thought this was a very precarious card to run. Even if you do end up surviving an extra hit due to the extra 40 HP, your opponent could simply get the Field Blower later and take 2 prizes during their turn. Interestingly, I ended up locking up a game against a Volcanion player in this exact way at Liverpool Regionals.
A card that would always have been added to Volcanion regardless of any other metagame changes is Turtonator-GX. Ever since I started playing Volcanion in the Burning Shadows format I’ve been positively in love with this Pokemon, even though it looks ugly as sin. Whenever I’m setting up my field early game with the Volcanion deck I try to power up at least one Turtonator early on just because attacking with it over Volcanion-EX has so many advantages.
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