What is up, Some1sPC readers? It’s Israel, and I’m back again with another article. It’s been a couple months since my last article, but I return with a new one for you guys just before the new set is legal. Before I get to it, let’s go over what I am going to talk about:
- Granbull List and Card Choices
My last tournament was at Denver Regionals, where I had horrible luck with bad matchups and finished with a 5-3-1 record, which ended my season. It’s been a month since I touched cards, but after watching Hartford and Daytona Beach Regionals, I’ve been getting an itch to play again. I won’t be able to travel anymore due to what’s going on in my personal life (child on the way), but I decided to test and share what I’ve found to be most successful.
Once I started looking at the new set, I was dying to try some new archetypes like Persian GX and Vikavolt. Persian was the first thing I wanted to test, but after a couple games I’d already found so many flaws with the deck. Initially, I was trying a thick Zebstrika draw engine to get through the heavy Pokémon hands to find Energy to attack. It was good for what it’s worth, but it struggled against Lightning and Fire decks. I tried Dewgong, which was ok for what it’s worth, chipping down different attackers but I liked a Gyarados line much more for the Fire matchup. That’s probably why it failed for me, but after so many whiffs and awful luck with draws, I gave up with the deck altogether.
The next thing on my try list was Vikavolt, and honestly, I liked it so much that it would have had potential were there a more reliable draw engine to remove the inherent inconsistencies of Stage 2 decks. If it hits everything, and Rare Candy come in at the right time, it can beat a lot of decks, especially since you can one-shot practically everything in the format with a Choice Band. But just like with the Persian deck, I gave up due to too many whiffs and unfortunate luck with the deck.
I tried a lot of other things like Gengar swarm, Salazzle mill, and other Fire decks but didn’t really like anything. Each of these things had their flaws and nothing really excited me enough to keep going with these options; maybe the Salazzle mill deck had potential but since I’m in the casual mood, I didn’t push for it. So I ended up looking at some of the Trainers from the new set and found the card Red’s Challenge, and knew instantly where it belonged.
Granbull List and Card Options
Before I talk about the list, why Granbull? Why now? Well, here are a couple reasons/theories for why I think it has a chance in this format. Unbroken Bonds gave us new cards that help thin out hands or help with old problems. I’ll talk about the cards themselves in a bit. The theory I am on at the moment is that Fire is going to be very popular in the first couple events, which will give Zoroark a hard time. That means that’s one less deck that’s playing Alolan Muk, which made playing Granbull so much harder by itself, even making the matchup nearly impossible to win due to the inability to sequence things to get your hand down to zero. PikaRom is also another reason why the deck disappeared, since it can snipe two Granbull at once, which makes you just fall behind and lose very quickly. With the new Fairy Charm: Lightning and Mew, the matchup is much more realistic. The final reason why I think Granbull can potentially make a run is because there are so many other one-prize decks that Granbull can beat. One thing that hasn’t changed for the deck though, is that if you do face any type of Mill, you’re going to lose.
This is the only attacker in the deck, so ideally you always want to have only one Snubbull on the Bench due to limited space. Granbull’s maximum damage output is 190 with Choice Band and 200 with Choice Band and Shrine of Punishment. You will probably never get a chance to use the second attack unless you’re trying to load up Energy against something like a Shuckle GX.
1 Ditto Prism
Ditto is very important in the deck since it can become either a Granbull or a Magcargo, depending on what you’re missing after turn one. Ideally, you want to Bench it as early as possible, but if you know they play Wobbuffet or Alolan Muk try to avoid it to make sure you don’t have a dead Bench space. Zebstrika is also another option–though most of the time, you’ll want to have Magcargo or Granbull–however if your Bench space allows, or you know they play Muk then that’s your ideal Stage 1.
This is only used if you know they play Muk in their list. You need Zebstrika to give you another draw engine to work with Magcargo’s “Smooth Over” Ability. It’s not as good as Oranguru, but it gives you hope against Alolan Muk techs. You’ll never attack with this card.
I believe this is the correct count for Granbull lists and don’t feel like a third would help it that much more. Oranguru is the main draw support for the deck; combined with Magcargo you can set up easy sequences to get the full value of the attack “All Out.” The way you set up the sequence is try to play cards down to two so Magcargo can get you the missing piece like Ultra Ball to thin out your hand to the magic zero cards. Sometimes the other two cards are burnable and you simply use Magcargo to set another burnable card to thin out your deck more. Without Oranguru, this deck would have such a difficult time getting the sequences to work. You don’t have to use the Ability all the time, especially if you already have no cards in hand (don’t try to draw more cards!). The main point of Oranguru is to keep these easy sequences to thin out your hand to zero.
This is the main support of the deck. This is the card that makes these sequences happen, since without Magcargo, thinning out your hand would be utterly reliant on top decks. As I mentioned above, Magcargo finds the missing piece to help with sequencing, however there will be times when you already have the proper cards in hand and just use “Smooth Over” to set up your next turn. Honestly, there’s no specific card you would always put on top, since it would be risky to get Diantha on the off chance that a non-Fairy gets knocked out. Try to aim for a card like Nest Ball, or something in that ballpark to keep your future hand at zero. If you get a knockout on a GX then you always want to set up an Ultra Ball for the next turn.
4-4-4 Ultra Ball/ Great Ball/ Nest Ball
The heavy ball count is to make it where you can burn your hand as easily as possible while setting up your board. Ultra Ball are very important cards in the deck since they discards two other cards for you, so try to use them more wisely as opposed to other decks. Of course, you have Diantha to help you get back some Ultra Ball if needed, but ideally you want to use the card to get more important stuff like Pal Pad or a Granbull. Nest Ball helps find your essential Basics throughout the game and always functions as a burnable card provided you have a Bench space open.
4 Apricorn Maker
This is the main Supporter to help you set up. Usually, you aim for double Nest Ball for turn one plays, but outside of that you could aim for other ball search cards that you want, so long as it helps with the sequencing.
2-2 Stadium Count
I found this count to be very good so far in testing. Viridian Forest allows you to burn a card for an Energy, but sometimes you just use the effect to burn a card. Shrine is the more important card out of the Stadiums, since it makes taking out GXs much easier. With Shrine and a maximum damage “All Out,” you’ll swing for high numbers that can one-shot many GXs in the game.
This is your recovery Supporter. Once a Granbull gets knocked out you can find any two cards from your Discard pile and put them directly in your hand. This helps you recover your main attacker, and can bring another card like Pal Pad or Ultra Ball or something that helps lower your hand. Diantha does have a flaw, since people can play around it and knock out another Pokémon that’s not a Fairy type.
2 Red’s Challenge
Red’s Challenge is an important Supporter that came out in Unbroken Bonds that significantly helps Granbull. If you discard two cards from your hand you may search for any one card in your deck. This lets you play out the hand while also helping to find another burnable card, or a recovery card depending on the scenario. This is a card that helps sequencing without Magcargo’s Ability, which is always nice to have. I haven’t tried a higher count of the card, but I found that two have good enough.
2-2 Tool Line
Choice Band helps with the math to one-shot many GXs in the format, but another card that came out in Unbroken Bonds that I think could potentially help Granbull is Fairy Charm: Lightning. When attached to a Fairy type, this card prevents all damage done by Lightning GX/EX Pokémon to it. I believe this can help with the PikaRom matchup, since some list don’t play Field Blower and can get punished by being walled while taking massive damage. Of course, this is still in trial and not a definitive answer to PikaRom, but you can add different kinds of Charms depending on the Meta you expect to see.
This is a very nice tech in the deck, allowing you to switch out the Active Pokémon without being a Supporter. This helps move Oranguru or Magcargo from the Active spot if you started with one of those, and it’s almost always a burnable card.
1 Fiery Flint/ 1 Mysterious Treasure
Either of these work but Fiery Flint is better, since it can help burn two cards as opposed to just one, like a pseudo-fifth Ultra Ball. There are some scenarios, however where you just want to burn one card instead of two, at which point Mysterious Treasure is better. I am currently on Mysterious Treasure since I don’t own any Fiery Flint, but if you expect some Alolan Muk then I would go with the Fiery Flint.
1 Pal Pad and Rescue Stretcher
Pal Pad is needed in this deck to bring back your important Supporters like Diantha or Guzma. Rescue Stretcher is there to bring your Pokémon back outside of Diantha so you wouldn’t have to be reliant on that as your only recovery card.
8 Fairy Energy
This might be a little high on Energy but so far for me it’s been good. I feel this is personal preference, and if you feel you need less to add more stuff then it’s up to you. Having the eight Energy makes it where you don’t have to use Diantha to bring back Energy and frees you to just focus more on Pokémon and other important cards.
Mew recently came out in the Unbroken Bonds set and it has the same Ability as Mr. Mime in the Expanded format. Mew can be extremely helpful with anything that spreads damage, like Tapu Koko decks and PikaRom’s GX attack. Unfortunately, it has 60-HP and can easily be knocked out by a lot of things in the format, but in the right scenarios it can save you the game. If you somehow get into a scenario where you need a little bit of damage to finish something off, for one Colorless Energy Mew can place three damage counters on any Pokémon on your opponent’s side of the field. The only problem I would have with this card is that Granbull is very reliant on Bench space, but if the Fairy Charm: Lightning doesn’t solve the PikaRom problem then I would definitely add this to the deck.
Wobbuffet is very good to prevent Prism Star cards from being played for any effect as long it is on the Bench. There’s a huge amount of cards this can disrupt. This would help play around Ditto to prevent Muk being played, however this would also prevent your own Ditto from being played, and just like Mew, Bench space is a deterrent to playing this card.
This is probably one of my favorite cards that came out in the new set and there are a couple reasons why it can be good here. This would prevent Tapu Lele GX or Dedenne GX from being played for effect, which can help in a way to slow down your opponent. This also shuts down PikaRom decks since they are very reliant on Zeraora GX to pivot around and it would deny Tapu Koko GX the ability to jump in for a bite. This also slows down Zoroark decks, since this would prevent them from using “Trade” and building a board. It can be a better option than Viridian Forest or Shrine of Punishment, but it would need a lot of testing in order to get a spot.
This is the Prism card that makes all non-Fairy attacks require another Energy to attack. I personally haven’t tried it in recent list, but I feel this can be extremely useful in some scenarios. This would make decks like Zoroark and Fire decks need to invest more to attack. It might be a worth a spot for how good it is at disrupting your opponent, but I don’t think it’s needed.
This is a Tool that helps boost a Stage 1’s HP by 40. This makes Granbull a 170-HP slugger that can be very difficult to deal with, but this is also a nice Tool to have to save a Pokémon that’s getting hit by spread damage or ten-HP from getting knocked out. If you were going to add this into the deck I would maybe just add one, since I don’t feel like it’s a card you want to have multiples of.
This card can help remove annoying Tools like Wishful Baton or Escape Board. It was in the original list but I found I didn’t use it as much, though it came in handy in some specific scenarios.
Pokémon Catcher/ Counter Catcher
This can be a fun option, since it can provide a gust effect outside of Guzma, so even if you used it as Ultra Ball burns, you can find it right back with Diantha. Pokémon Catcher is risky since you have to flip a coin, but if you hit heads you can take out a GX or a pesky Alolan Muk. Counter Catcher can be good in a matchup like ReshiZard, since you can’t one-shot the thing and they will for sure take a couple prizes before you take any.
This is more of a try-it-out card as opposed to being recommended. If Stall makes a big appearance then maybe this guy can help keep up. With this, you can recycle important cards back into the deck to make sure you can finish off the game. Of course, just like all the other Pokémon I’ve recommended, it is a Bench spot but it’s something that can help against Stall decks, which are auto-losses otherwise.
I played the matchup a couple times but from theory and hands only, I feel this matchup is favorable due to the three-to-one prize trade. Of course, there’s more to it than that, and it comes down to what else they have in the deck as backup attackers. Counter Catcher can really shine here if it is added since they will almost always take a lead on the prize race through their Welder to speed up attachments. You want to put a heavy emphasis on damaging ReshiZard throughout the entire game. If you can, try to get an early Guzma to get first hit on it. This would force it to either Retreat or just use “Outrage” to get some value out of it. Usually, you just want to take out what’s in front of you, but in this matchup you have to get early hits on ReshiZard because they usually don’t play anything like Max Potion or Acerola. Salazzle can also be a good thing to take out since that’s their main draw engine and they need the extra draws to get full value out of Welder. It’s a favorable matchup unless you mess up your sequencing, but as long as you keep doing so correctly it’s pretty hard to lose the matchup.
Blacephalon (Even to Favorable)
In this matchup we’re exchanging one-for-one on prizes, and if they get the turn one knockout on a Snubbull and just keep getting Energy to stay on board with more Welder and Wishful Baton plays it’s hard to take a lead. If they keep this lead going, they even have Lusamine Prism to prevent all damage done to their Ultra Beasts if we’re at exactly three prizes. However, it can be favorable if they don’t get the knockout on turn one, or if they miss one turn of Welder, at which point the matchup is pretty much free. Beast Rings can play a factor, but if you can just keep the prize lead it won’t matter. The only thing you will have to worry about is the Lusamine Prism, which is a way for them to catch up. Just keep sequencing the recovery and you should be able to win this matchup. Also, their Custom Catcher can be annoying to trap Magcargo so try to avoid using Switch early.
PikaRom (Favorable if you play Mew, Unsure without)
I’m going to say right now, I haven’t played this matchup a lot, but in theory if you can place the Mew right when they load up the PikaRom you can set it up to where you’re guaranteed to have one Granbull to deal with the rest of their squad. Everything else is extremely easy to deal with, but the PikaRom itself is what made Granbull disappear from the Meta (as well as higher counts of Alolan Muk). It having 240-HP makes it where you have to hit it twice in order to take it out, and if they do play Max Potion they can remove all that damage. Fairy Charm: Lightning can play a huge factor since Zapdos needs two Electropower to one-shot a Granbull, which is a lot to ask for when dealing with multiple Granbull over the course of the game. Even if they kill the Mew, you have recovery to bring it from the Discard back to the Bench, and that could spell doom for PikaRom. The Charm can help if they don’t play Field Blower, basically allowing you to wall them out. Of course, this is all just theory, but I do know that if you add Mew into the list it will benefit this matchup. Try to take out what’s in front of you, but hit PikaRom if you can get to it first. Then all you need is another Guzma to take it out for good.
Zoroark Variants (Unfavorable, Favorable if you get through the Alolan Muk)
Alolan Muk is a living nightmare for Granbull, and Zoroark variants usually play a high count of the line. If you go first and can get back-to-back knockouts on the Grimer/Ditto then you’re most likely going to win, but if they set it up then the matchup becomes much harder to win, since now you don’t have your draw engine and are relying on top decks. You need Zebstrika in this matchup to have some type of shot to keep up with Zoroark once they achieve the Muk lock, but outside of that, you can deal with most of the deck and the variants it plays. Shrine of Punishment is really important to stick since you need at least two damage counters on the Zoroark to one-shot them with “All Out” with a Choice Band. Mew can also be cute here, where if they don’t Acerola you can sneakily snipe it. Some techs that can help with this matchup are Power Plant since that can prevent Zoroark from using “Trade,” and having a Catcher option to bring up Muk and knock it out. One saving grace is that Zoroark has to two-shot you (one-shots with Devoured Field and a Professor Kukui) so you can take a hit, and things like Lycanroc and Persian have 200-HP so you can one-shot with Choice Band and Shrine. Just take out the Muk and you will be able to win the matchup, otherwise hopefully you top deck like a god.
This matchup is pretty easy to deal with as long as you can sequence correctly throughout the game. Their deck is a one-prize deck too, but it needs a lot to one-shot a Granbull as opposed to you being able one-shot them right back. The only ways you lose are if you don’t get multiple Snubbull out on the early turns, draw into an unplayable hand off “Let Loose,” or sequence awfully. Baby Buzz is your only threat since they can one-shot you at four prizes, but the rest of their attackers need some work to deal with Granbull. I don’t know if the Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX will see any play in these variants but it still shouldn’t be a problem to deal with, especially since you have Mew. If they play Jolteon GX that can be annoying since it can wall with its “Swift Run GX” attack, but as long there are other targets you can easily get around it.
Quagsire Toolbox (Favorable if you play Mew, Unfavorable if you don’t)
This is another matchup I haven’t really tested, but I can already see it being extremely horrible if you don’t play Mew due to Wailord & Magikarp Tag Team’s GX attack. Without Mew, their sequence of events would involve using Volcanion Prism to spread twice putting everything on the Bench at or under 100-HP remaining. Then all the Quagsire player has to do is get eight Energy on the Wailord and it will take out everything on your Bench in one fell swoop. With Mew, you prevent that play from ever happening and it becomes a slugfest. Of course, you have to two-shot their Wailord no matter what, but the exchange will be heavily in your favor. The tech that can potentially help take a lead is Field Blower, making it where you can take something out and remove the Wishful Baton and subsequently all their invested Energy. The Energy will never truly go away of course, but taking away that Energy for the next turn can make a huge difference. The reason I went over this matchup is because of the hype for Fire decks making it where I wouldn’t be surprise to see this deck appear in Santa Clara.
Malamar Variants (Even)
Depending on the variant the matchup can go both ways. If it’s the Ultra Necrozma variant then I feel the matchup is more favorable for the Granbull player due to your ability to one-shot everything they have while hitting for Weakness. If it’s the spread version or more focused on Giratina, then the matchup can either go extremely badly or just become a back and forth prize exchange. Mew helps with the spread matchup, but if you don’t play it then their ideal play would be trapping the Magcargo Active and keep spreading around. Sure, twenty damage doesn’t hurt as much but if you keep getting trapped then eventually you will get stuck and you’ll watch multiple things getting knocked out at the same time. Luckily, we have four outs to bailing ourselves out of that situation, but stuff like Giratina and Tapu Lele promo can manipulate our setup. Granbull knocks out everything but techs that can help with the spread matchup are Bodybuilding Dumbbells or Mew, which will help important pieces to stay alive.
Weezing Spread (even if you play Mew, Unfavorable to Even without)
This is another matchup that I haven’t tested with this deck but I feel that it can get really ugly. Depending on their build, they can do the same thing like the spread variant and keep trapping Magcargo while spreading the damage. Mew will definitely help this matchup but Weezing’s Ability “Detention Gas” will get around Mew, and in six turns it will die from their Ability alone. As long as Mew keeps coming back and you can just keep swinging for knockouts I feel the matchup will be easy. However, without Mew I feel it’s pretty bad since the damage spreading will be too much and eventually you won’t have anything to keep setting up. Spell Tag can also be annoying since that’s another way to put damage on the board, making Field Blower can be a good tech. Wondrous Labyrinth can also be a good tech in this matchup since all their attackers need at least two Colorless Energy to attack and adding that one extra requirement could help your side survive a turn. Remember that Weezing’s Ability is only effective on Basic Pokémon so once you evolve you don’t take damage. Zebstrika can be really good in this matchup since this would provide an outside draw support and doesn’t get worked by Weezing.
Gardevoir & Sylveon GX (Very Unsure)
In the sixty games I’ve played of this format I still haven’t faced a Gardy/Sylveon deck, but in theory it seems pretty good. The one thing I feel that would annoy me is all their healing, and I feel if they can chain all the healing then you pretty much lose. You’ll never have to worry about their GX attack if you have Oranguru out, and even then if you have another Granbull out you can take advantage of the no card hand and go “All Out” again. Honestly, there’s no real tech for beating this deck 100% of the time, but if you can keep applying pressure and hope they miss one turn of healing I feel you will win. Dumbbells can be a nice tech in this matchup since their second attack doesn’t one-shot Granbull with the Tool.
Blacephalon GX/ Nagadel (Even to Favorable)
In my testing against the deck it’s been pretty favorable for me due to the fact that you can one-shot everything they have while only giving up one prize. However, some lists play Alolan Muk, which is not a thing you’re happy to see, but if you can get through the Muk quickly and just keep one-shotting their Blacephalon it’s pretty hard to lose. Your lose conditions are dead drawing off Marshadow, Muk doing Muk things, or you mess up your sequencing. Techs that can help in this matchup are Pokémon Catcher or Counter Catcher since their ideal turn one is to use the GX attack to take an early lead. Another tech is Wobbuffet to play around Ditto Prism preventing Muk from coming online. Lastly, Dumbbells can be really annoying for the Blowns player, since they will be required to Lost Zone four Energy on a Stage 1 single-prize-attacker as opposed to three. If they don’t get Muk you just win the matchup. If they do, then it becomes much closer. Setting up Zebstrika in this matchup would not be bad if they Bench a Ditto or Grimer, otherwise avoid it and use Bench space for other things.
Stall (Auto-loss to Some type of miracle)
They gained Lt. Surge, which is a really good card for Stall players to have, allowing them to pretty much do whatever they want and set up until they get Unown “HAND.” The only way you win is if you can donk them, or you use Oranguru UPR (if you’ve chosen to play it) and keep looping until they are forced to do something like attack with Shuckle GX. The one copy of Switch can be useful in bailing yourself out of Paralysis or Poison conditions. Power Plant can be a nice tech to deal with the dreaded Shuckle GX, but would have to be timed perfectly. In reality you will eventually lose or at best tie unless you can take a quick knockout on turn two.
Do not play Granbull if you know you’re running into a Stall Meta, otherwise this variant can have a lot of potential in the first couple events. I feel the matchups are very favorable for Granbull if you can hit a lot of Fire decks, and play Mew for other matchups. Avoid Muk users and I think a deep run could happen. I will not be participating the rest of the season due to my child arriving at the end of the month, and I obviously want to put more focus on my son, but I will be doing another article at the end of this month. I will also still be coaching in my spare time, so if you need help for the last bit of the season I am more than happy to help out. Follow me on twitter @Drdy_Sosapc if you haven’t already. I will use it more since I will not be competing anytime soon and it’s a good way to contact me for deck help or coaching. Thanks for the read and good luck to everyone this weekend!