If you’re reading this, you are probably not at the World Championships right now, but you might be at home eagerly anticipating the stream and its results. The format seems to be wide open and it seems like any player with almost any deck could make it through the gauntlets of Day 1 and Day 2.
There’s one deck that I think deserves at least a bit of coverage before the event kicks off, and that’s Decidueye/Ninetales, also known as “Decidueye without Vileplume.”
The deck was a definite frontrunner in the previous format, arguably the most powerful deck after the Garbodor variants. I think the number one reason for it was flexibility: between the many different attackers and techs, it just had so many aces up its sleeve. Between Decidueye GX, Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele GX, Alolan Ninetales GX, Drampa GX and of course Espeon EX, the deck just has so many paths to victory that it never seemed to be out of it. It’s such an intriguing combination of sniping, straight up damage and devolving and it really rewards players who can think ahead on how to best place their Feather Arrows.
Things are about to get more complicated for the deck, as it’s gained even more tricks with the release of Burning Shadows.
The first “trick” is Acerola. Decidueye GX is one of the bulkiest Pokémon in the format at 240 HP, almost impossible to take down in one hit without the aid of Flareon AOR. The moment your opponent tries to 2HKO it, which will often still take a pretty dedicated attacker, Acerola can scoop it right up. If you have a Forest of Giant Plants in play, you can even use Feather Arrow, play Acerola to take the Decidueye out of play, then put it back down to use Feather Arrow again with the “new” Decidueye.
The next one is Guzma. Of course, every deck plays Guzma now, so it’s not exactly something Decidueye has going for it. What I mostly like about Guzma for this deck is that between it and Acerola, you can afford to play less Float Stone and worry less about having to leave a Pokémon active that you don’t want there. And in the meanwhile, you still force your opponent to have a switching card of their own to get what they currently have in the active spot. It also makes it easier to target down something of theirs, such as the aforementioned Flareon.
The last new card Decidueye really enjoys is the new Alolan Ninetales. Before, the deck often featured just a slim 2-1 line of Alolan Ninetales GX, but now you have a good use for both of your Alolan Vulpix. Alolan Ninetales BUS has Luminous Barrier, also known to veteran players as “the new Safeguard”, protecting it from both flavors of 2-prize Pokémon (EX and GX). This functions as a great wall to set up behind, and if your opponent doesn’t have a particularly good single prize attacker to get it out of the way, they will have to play Guzma or Hex Maniac to get around it.
Decidueye is a deck that really capitalizes on every turn where its opponent doesn’t take a prize or put on pressure, as each turn is one where you can get more Decidueye into play and use more Feather Arrows. Volcanion decks, especially, will have to reroute their energy attachments in order to get rid of Alolan Ninetales.
Here’s a deck list:
Pokémon – 21
2 Alolan Vulpix GRI
1 Alolan Ninetales BUS
1 Alolan Ninetales GX
1 Tapu Koko PR-SM
2 Tapu Lele-GX
Trainer Cards – 31
4 Professor Sycamore
3 VS Seeker
4 Forest of Giant Plants
1 Rescue Stretcher
4 Ultra Ball
2 Field Blower
1 Float Stone
2 Choice Band
1 Level Ball
Energy – 8
4 Double Colorless Energy
4 Rainbow Energy
The way I’ve gone around building this is by taking a stock list from last format, then making space for the new toys by cutting a Float Stone, Drampa-GX and a couple of other cards. Basic Grass Energy has been replaced by Rainbow Energy in order to fuel Alolan Ninetales’s Aurora Beam. The damage can sometimes set you back a little, but it can also help you since Acerola only works if the Pokémon you try to use it on is damaged. Rainbow Energy opens up a couple of rarely used but interesting attacks such as Tapu Cure GX and Espeon’s Psyshock. If you still choose to include Drampa, Rainbow Energy gives you a way to activate Berserk as well.
The exact path you’re going to take in a game depends a lot on the matchup, the Pokémon you end up drawing early on and your opponent’s board. But generally, you should try to turn 1 Brigette to get yourself 2 Rowlet and a Vulpix and start using Beacon. If you’re going second against a more aggressive deck, it’s not unlikely that your opponent will be able to drag up and KO one of your benched owls, so try to take that possibility into account when using Beacon. Don’t grab evolution pieces that you might have to end up discarding unused with Professor Sycamore.
The earlier you find Forest of Giant Plants to accelerate your Grass evolutions, the better, as you’ll be able to put out more damage with Feather Arrow. Early on I recommend attacking with other Pokémon as much as you can to keep Decidueye alive, especially since Decidueye also takes 2 energy attachments for a fairly mediocre output. So evolve your Vulpix and start putting on pressure with Ice Blade or Aurora Beam, spread damage with Tapu Koko or just hit them up with Tapu Lele’s Energy Drive. Then when you have enough energy in play you can start doing Decidueye/Acerola shenanigans.
Against evolution decks, especially Stage 2 decks with Rare Candy, you might want to set up a future devolution knock out with the help of Espeon EX. You won’t be able to execute an Espeon win very often, since a devolved Pokémon GX only gives up one prize, but it can be one of the easier ways to get some evolved Pokémon out of the way. Try not to use Espeon until you can take multiple KOs with it, and be very careful about benching it against Garbodor decks, because it has a Psychic weakness.
As I’ve said before, this deck might be the hardest one to pilot in the current format. It’s a lot of fun once you get the hang of it, but on the way there you’ll experience a lot of games where you realize in hind sight that you could’ve done something way different. There’s also going to be games where you just get steamrolled due to the slight inconsistencies the deck has. After all, it does run two different evolution lines and a total of 21 Pokémon, although a good portion of them aid consistency rather than hurting it. It’s not as bad as Greninja, but it can get annoying.
Have fun raining down spread damage onto your opponent’s field, and enjoy watching Worlds!