As our regular readers might have noticed, the front page of ProPokemon has been mostly premium articles as of late. However, starting today, we’re going to be trying to release two free items every week in addition to the premium content we were already doing. These free articles can (and will) be about almost any subject: deck and tournament analysis, in-game decisions, the usual suspects. But I’m also planning to cover some other things that don’t get as much attention, such as traveling tips, Pokémon finances, PTCGO, alternative formats, fun decks…if you have any requests or ideas for a subject, leave a comment here or on Facebook.
Of course premium content will continue to be posted every week and will go more in-depth on the most current decks of recent and upcoming tournaments. A single premium article will contain about three times as much content as a free one and will go more in-depth on advanced plays, tricks and techs.
That said, today we’re going to take a look at Zoroark/Drampa-GX, a deck that proved to be more than a one day fly on the competitive scene. Daniel Altavilla managed to not just Top 4 the Wisconson Regional Championships with it, but he followed it up with a 1st place finish at Mexico City Regionals as well. The deck also made it to the Finals of Birmingham Regionals 2 weeks ago, piloted by Brian Peach.
Here’s the list that Daniel Altavilla used, courtesy of the Charizard Lounge:
4 Zorua BKT (Moonless Madness)
4 Zoroark BKT
2 Zoroark BREAK
2 Tapu Lele-GX
1 Oranguru SUM
1 Tapu Koko SMP 30
1 Oricorio GRI (Supernatural Dance)
4 Professor Sycamore
1 Pokémon Fan Club
1 Hex Maniac
1 Professor Kukui
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
2 Rescue Stretcher
1 Special Charge
3 Choice Band
2 Float Stone
2 Team Magma’s Secret Base
4 Double Colorless
The most popular deck with Drampa-GX in it has been Drampa/Garbodor. The way Drampa is used is roughly the same: you take 2 turns to charge up Drampa with the aid of Double Colorless Energy, use Team Magma’s Secret Base to get a bit of damage on one of your benched Pokémon, and then you attack with Berserk for 150. If you need to hit for 180, you can attach a Choice Band. Normally this kind of a setup would be too slow, but your opponent is forced to slow themselves down and hold back on playing Item cards, lest they walk into a powerful flurry of Trashalanches from Garbodor that they can’t hold back from. You’re putting them in a bind: either they’ll be too slow to keep up with Drampa’s Berserk, or they play too many items and end up being unable to trade properly with Garbodor’s efficient 1-energy Trashalanche.
So why would you play Zoroark instead of Garbodor? Zoroark has been around for a long time but it hasn’t seen mainstream play for a while, mostly because it makes for a poor main attacker. If your opponent tries to limit their bench to 2-3 Pokémon at a time, it’s hard for Mind Jack to do significant damage. Limiting your bench is much easier than limiting your Item use.
The key to Zoroark’s strength, in my opinion, is Zoroark BREAK. Foul Play opens up a whole new window of possibilities, most notably in the sort-of mirror match against other Drampa decks. If both decks limit their item use, the only way either player is going to get an OHKO is by using Drampa’s Berserk. The Garbodor/Drampa deck can only do so by using their own Drampa, but the Zoroark version can use Foul Play to copy Berserk and OHKO opposing Drampa. This puts the prize trade heavily into Zoroark’s favor, since Zoroark is taking two prizes to Garbodor’s one.
Not that Zoroark is completely reliant on what is essentially a Stage 2 in this matchup: Mind Jack will still usually get a 2HKO on a Drampa or Tapu Lele, especially with Choice Band. And it can obviously utilize its own Drampa as well.
Zoroark BREAK can do many things, a lot of which your opponent might not expect. If your opponent stacks a lot of energy onto a Tapu Lele, you can copy Energy Drive to use it against them. If they try to slowly chip your Zoroark with Tauros’s Horn Attack, you can copy Mad Bull GX for an easy OHKO.
Zoroark’s Stand In is also a great tool. It stops anything in your deck from getting stuck active by a Lysandre, as you’ll always be able to Stand In with Zoroark and at least Mind Jack. Or if you attach a Float Stone to your Zoroark, you can retreat to whatever you want at any time.
You can see the list prioritizes getting a quick start with as many Zorua as possible, since it features both Brigette and Pokémon Fan Club, obtainable with the 2 Tapu Lele. Both of these also allow you to fetch a Drampa if needed.
Daniel chose many interesting 1-ofs to tackle various situations and matchups.
Tapu Koko promo is a great early game spreader, further punishing your opponent for benching multiple things at a time. If your opponent doesn’t deal with it swiftly, it can put their Pokémon in OHKO range for Drampa or even Zoroark even if they’d usually survive. But it’s also just a nice Pokémon to have on your bench for free retreat, since your Float Stones can be Field Blowered.
Oricorio is most of all a Vespiquen counter, providing a cheap way to get at least 1 and sometimes two prizes at a time for a single attachment. But it can also be a clutch sniper late in the game, when your opponent has gone through a lot of Pokémon. If your opponent retreats a heavily damaged Pokémon-GX or EX to their bench, Oricorio can finish them off.
Both Tapu Koko and Oricorio also provide some tough situations for Gyarados players, since both of them prey on the 10 HP Magikarp lying around on their bench.
Oranguru’s Instruct makes it harder for your opponent to stick you with a bad hand lategame using N, as you’ll always have at least 3 cards to work with. Combined with the 2 Tapu Lele, the Shaymin and the huge array of supporters, this is a surprisingly consistent deck considering the large evolution line in it.
Being a stage 1 deck that uses Double Colorless a lot you do need plenty of recovery, so that’s where Special Charge and the 2 Rescue Stretcher come in. Without them you would probably run out of resources before you run out of prizes. Sometimes when playing this deck I’ve found myself wanting Super Rod instead of a Rescue Stetcher, but only when I’ve been forced to discard too much Dark energy.
Teammates is always a good option in non-EX decks. Not only does it always find exactly what you’re looking for, but you also don’t consume any items when doing it, which is helpful against Garbodor decks.
Professor Kukui can occasionally get you that extra 20 damage you need to get a KO. I haven’t found this card a must-have so far, but there are some Pokémon that have an awkward number of HP that you just want to KO but can’t. Espeon-GX’s 200 HP comes to mind, just out of range of a fully powered Choice Band Berserk if you don’t have Kukui.
Lastly, Hex Maniac is for the many ability-reliant decks out there, most notably Metagross and Vikavolt decks. If these decks need to use their abilities in order to get an attack off, Hex Maniac might just buy you an extra turn.
It’s really nice to see yet another contender that can go the distance in our already rich metagame. Go ahead and try this deck out, it’s got a lot more depth to it than you might think.