In the newest set Team Up we were introduced to Tag Team Gxs, which are two Pokemon working together on one card. The drawback to these new powerful cards is if they are knocked out your opponent takes THREE prizes instead of the usual two from GXs. Although they were very interesting and some were very powerful, I decided to look at the regular GXs in the set to see if any could catch my eye, and that’s how i came across Incineroar-GX!
Incineroar-GX is a stage 2 Pokemon with 250 HP, which ties for the highest for non Tag Team GX pokemon. Being a stage 2 means we can play Rare Candy and Alolan Ninetales-GX to add consistency to help us push for a turn two set up attacker. Sadly it is weak to fighting which is too important not to discuss due to Lycanroc-GX still seeing a ton of play, not to mention all the new decks to come out of Team Up that people are most excited for(Pikachu & Zekrom-GXand Jirachi Zapdos) are also both weak to fighting. Resistance to Psychic is nice but not too important in the current metagame and 3 retreat is a shame honestly if it had four retreat we could’ve thrown Buff Padding in the deck to help us tank our way through the game.
Now that the basic stats of Incineroar-GX are discussed let’s get into the exciting part the ability and attacks! Which funny enough each attack and its ability reminds me of other cards we have in standard at the moment.
The ability, Scar Charge , puts 3 damage counters on Incineroar to let you search your deck for 3 basic Dark energies and attach them onto Incineroar. Just looking at this card alone, you would see that all of its attacks only need three energies to use, which means we can evolve into our main attacker and then use his ability to ensure we attack immediately and not waste any time! This ability is a larger version of the new Charizard we got in Team Up as well, only Charizard puts 2 damage counters on itself to search for 2 energies.
Incineroar’s non GX attack is Crushing Punch which does 130 damage for 3 colorless energies and lets you discard special energy from the opponent’s active pokemon. This is helpful for decks like Zoroark/ Lycanroc who play mostly special energies, it can help you discard that pesky Beast Energy in decks like Blacephalon-GX and Ultra Necrozma-GX. This attack reminds me of Sceptile-GX’s that we got in Lost thunder which for one grass energy did 60 damage and had the same energy denial effect.
Last but not least The GX attack, Darkest Tornado GX, which does 10+ 50 for each damage counter on this Pokemon. For 3 colorless energies. These type of attacks excite me because of the damage potential they have. Without accounting for any damage boosts like weakness or choice band this attack can reach up to 1,210 damage if Incineroar has 24 damage counters! This attack reminds me of Tauros-GX from Sun and Moon which did 10+ 30 for each damage counter on itself for 2 colorless energies.
After giving this card a look I saw a lot of potential for this card to be a playable GX in the standard format. So let’s take a look at some deck options!
The list I have for this is a straightforward but very powerful list. Get turn two Incineroar and start hitting as often as possible. It is a stage 2 deck so we see Alolan Ninetales-GX to find your Timer Balls and Rare Candies, we have Elm’s Lecture for early game setup since Litten is under 60HP, and we have Black Market Prism Star since it is a Dark Pokemon deck. Three cards to bring up would be Max Potion, Weakness Policy, and Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star. The Max Potion is helpful since we are a 250HP Pokemon for if our opponent can’t OHKO our Incineroar we can just heal it back to full HP and keep swinging, and the best part is Incineroar’s ability will get us all of our energy to keep attacking immediately. Weakness Policy is to help us with the rise of fighting decks in the meta, and Wondrous Labyrinth is to help us get ahead by making our opponent find extra energy. It affects us too but all we have to do to get around this is attach an energy from hand and then use our ability and we have the extra energy requirement. Other decks have a harder time finding energies than we do which means we might not get attacked for a turn or two while Wondrous Labyrinth is in play.
After seeing how powerful of a fighting pokemon it is at Oceania Internationals and Collinsville Regionals that it’s the right partner for this deck. Buzzwole was another option I thought about but not being able to reliably one hit a big tag team like Pikachu & Zekrom is why it didn’t make the cut. Alolan Muk makes its way into the deck due to how powerful of a tech card it is now more than ever with its ability to shut down decks like Jirachi Zapdos and hinder PassimianKoko enough to help you win that inherently bad matchup. These matchups are difficult due to their speed and the fact they utilize non GX Pokemon to attack with which turns into us taking one prize while they take two per knockout. Other than those big changes the deck is almost identical, i feel removing the Ninetales and Elm’s Lecture from the deck for Nest Ball is worth it in the long run since you need the bench space for Muk or to set up Riolus. Pokemon Communication helps with the increased number of Pokemon so you always can get the right Pokemon for the situation.
I believe either of these decks has the ability to be great but there is an entirely new way to play Incineroar coming up with the new set Unbroken Bonds coming out in May and that would be Greninja Zoroark Tag Team GX! With this new tag team coming out it revives the Turbo Dark archetype, which was based around getting as many Dark energies out as possible to increase your damage output.
Greninja & Zoroark-GX is a 250HP tag team that does Dark Pulse for a Dark energy and a colorless for 30+ 30 for each dark energy on your Pokemon. But it’s GX attack is what caught a lot of people’s eye. Night Unison GX puts in any combination of 2 EX or GX Pokemon from your discard onto your bench and if you have at least 1 extra energy attached to it when you do you may attach 2 dark energies to each of those Ex of GXs. The ability to put a stage 2 right onto your bench has always been a very powerful effect, just look at cards like Archie’s Hidden Ball Trick which sees a ton of play in the Expanded as well as the recently banned Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick. Both of these cards let you take a Pokemon from discard (each one has their own type restriction) and put it right on the bench as long as you have no cards in hand.
So where’s the combo? Well we first find a way to get 2 Incineroar-GXs into the discard, first card that came to mind was Battle Compressor but that’s sadly that isn’t in standard anymore. But wait! We just got a card in Team Up that can help us, Spiritomb. Spiritombs first attack puts up to 4 Pokemon from your deck into the discard pile, which means we can throw Incineroar-GX straight from deck to discard as early as turn one. Which means in a Greninja Zoroark-GX deck we can throw in Incineroar-GX without having to find room for Litten and Rare Candy and still get all the power of Incineroar-GX! Once incineroar-GX is in the discard all we have to do is charge up a Greninja & Zoroark-GX to use Night Unison-GX for the base requirement since the bonus from extra energy attachment isn’t super important in this combo. That puts 2 Incineroar-GXs onto the bench and then next turn both Incineroar-GXs use their abilities to get a total of up to 6 energies onto the bench so your Greninja Zoroark-GX does at least 210 damage without any attachments from hand or damage buffs like choice band. The sweet thing about this combo is after they kill your tag team, you still have Incineroar-GX to attack with right away! I can see this deck idea being very powerful and potentially a powerful contender in the meta to come.
I personally think Incineroar-GX is an underrated card as a whole and has a ton of potential in the current and future meta. What are your thoughts on the card? Thanks for reading and I would love some feedback!