Hey, readers. Lost Thunder has had an immediate and heavy impact on the format, and I think this set has been one best ones in a while. I would go as far as to compare its impact to that of Guardians Rising and Phantom Forces. This 200-plus card set released so many good cards for the format. We saw Zoro Control win Brazil, then Gardevoir win Roanoke Regionals the following week. From observing the trend, the Gardevoir deck was meant to combat Zoro Control variants from the previous tournament. Now we have to see how the meta can keep evolving as we move forward.
III. Swampert/Meganium/Greninja GX
For the first part of this article, I’m going to talk about Magnezone. I think it can be strong in the current Meta due to its Metal typing and, after testing the deck this past week, I’ve found that there are many ways to build it. It has gained strong new cards in Dialga, Zebstrika, and Alolan Ninetales GX which significantly improved Stage 2 decks in general.
I think the main selling point for this deck right now is that the format appears to be shifting towards a heavy GX-focused format where this deck is well-equipped to trade KO for KO with Dialga and Dusk Mane Necrozma GX.
This card is great in the deck because of Timeless GX. Skipping turns against single-prized focused decks and even one-shotting certain GXs is very powerful. Alolan Ninetales GX and Gardevoir GX are very popular currently, and with weakness, Timeless GX can just swing the game if you knock those out. Shred is a decent attack that can knockout low HP Pokemon as well as Granbull. Overclock is a solid attack because drawing cards will help you set up.
The main powerhouse of the deck. It’s funny how hitting for 220 damage isn’t always enough since there are 240 and 250 HP Pokemon in the game. Thankfully, 220 is still going to knockout most GXs, and where it’s not enough, the GX attack is great to reach those high-HP numbers without the need for a Choice Band or Beast Energy for the knockout.
This deck needs a one prize attacker to deal with one-prized based decks such as Lost March and Granbull. Turn Back Time should knockout a lot of popular Pokemon for one prize. You knockout Zoroark GX and most Stage 2 GXs that evolved via Rare Candy. Power Blast is also a solid attack, hitting 130 to knockout those high HP one-prized Pokemon such as Giratina, Oranguru, Deoxys, etc. Overall, this is just a solid card to have in the deck because of its usefulness as one prized attacker.
This is a thin line but it’s all you need. This deck runs four Nest Ball so you don’t really need four Magnemites. Magneton is too slow to run in this deck because you can’t really afford a turn to evolve Magnemite twice.
This where the deck gets a little whacky. Lost Thunder added a lot of consistency from Alolan Ninetales GX and Zebstrika, and these cards are great in this deck for that reason. We see Alolan Ninetales GX in decks like Gardevoir/Swampert and Decidueye/Zoroark to help set up their Stage 2s. The same can be applied to this deck, since getting Rare Candy for Magnezone is essential for setting up.
Zebstrika is great draw power for a deck that lacks it outside of draw Supporters. This guy pretty much helps the deck keep going, allowing you to dig for any missing pieces to your combos.
Ribombee is great when you need Metal Energy in a pinch. Sometimes it is the best option to evolve from your Ditto Prism to ensure that you consistently find a lot of energy.
Four Cynthia is necessary in a deck like this. You don’t have Zoroark, Swampert, or Magcargo to have inherent consistency, so you need the max of four.
Three Lillie has been fine, though I would like a fourth. Lillie is an excellent opening Supporter because you have decent odds to hit a turn two Magnezone out of your eight card hand.
Two Guzma is very low and the bare minimum in this deck. Since this deck is just looking to swing hard and fast there won’t be too many opportunities to use it. It’s needed to target Pokemon such as Alolan NInetales GX for easy prizes, as well as other situations to close out games. I would run three but space is tight,
I run a max count of Nest Ball to try to get as great an opening I can. Nest Ball is also better than Professor Elm’s Lecture in this deck because it can’t search your attackers. Nest Ball + Lillie is what you want in your opening turns. Nest Ball is fine at any point in the game since you can get more attackers or just burn them to thin your deck.
Timer Ball is for consistency and added Trainer versatility for Alolan Ninetales GX. This deck runs four different evolutions, so Mysterious Guidance grabbing a Timer Ball over a costly Ultra Ball can matter a lot. A common combo in this deck is also just using Mysterious Guidance for Rare Candy and Timer Ball.
These are the energy recovery lines I chose for this deck. I felt like three Coronet was perfect, and since you always want it in play, having three means you will reliably see it in the opening turns. I feel like two would be low and four too much.
Two Energy Retrieval has been sufficient as well. Mt. Coronet is not always enough on its own, so you will often need to use Energy Retrieval and Mt. Coronet in combination to power up some big attacks.
I’m not including Fisherman because I think the card is too slow. I think Stadium versions and Trainers versions of energy recovery are slightly better.
This is just for fixing numbers to take knockouts on those high-HP Pokemon. Some common plays are Meteor Tempest plus Choice Band to knockout GX Pokemon with 230-250 HP. Choice Band also helps with Timeless GX. Timeless GX to knock out a Tapu Lele or Blacephalon GX is such a huge swing.
Ten has been sufficient. Eleven would not make too big of a difference and I would rather run a more impactful card.
This essentially functions as Choice Band and an eleventh Metal energy. It’s nice to have a card that functions as attachment and power for Dusk Mane Necrozma GX.
This the deck’s best matchup, since you hit their Fairy Pokemon for weakness. If they get the Promo Solgaleo GX out, you can just use Beast Energy or Choice Band with Dusk Mane to knock them out anyway. One goal here is to be efficient by knocking out one of their GX’s with Timeless GX, then knock out another Pokemon to take a three to four prize swing.
This match is close since they can be a tad faster than you, and Zoroark GX + Decidueye GX is often good enough to knock out your GX Pokemon. I think whoever can take the first two prizes in this matchup has a significant advantage because of the lack of hand disruption for both sides. Zoroark decks will continue to “Trade” and have answers to keep the lead. When Magnezone takes the lead, it is pretty easy to get attackers and power them up via Mount Coronet. Their primary attacker is Zoroark so you need to answer it with Dusk Mane. They occasionally attack with Alolan Ninetales GX to use Sublimation GX to knock out Dusk Mane. If they do attack with Ninetales, you have easy answers in Dialga GX and Dialga LOT.
I am going categorize these together because they were essentially the same matchup-wise in testing. You have to use the non-GX Dialga in this matchup to keep up with their one-prized exchange. Sometimes, either of these deck can fumble early and you can take a big enough lead so you can attack with a GX. I still think these matchups are hard, but if you are able to use both Dialgas effectively it is very winnable.
This is the hardest matchup because of weakness disadvantage. I feel like the only way to win is hitting a fast Dusk Mane knockout on their Blacephalon, or inspiring a comeback by pulling out a Timeless GX for 180 with Choice Band. It is winnable, but you will need start well. Weakness doesn’t matter much later since you’re basically one-shotting each other back and forth. Their deck is often smoother, more consistent and aggressive.
III. Swampert/Meganium/Greninja GX
The next deck I want to cover is the Swampert/Meganium/Greninja GX deck that did well in a Japanese tournament last weekend. The deck was piloted by one of Japan’s best players in former World Champion, Shintaro Ito. The deck seems whacky but it makes sense and it is very powerful.
The deck functions through setting up Meganium, multiple Swamperts, and Greninja GX to establish a very strong board full of Stage 2s. You are then able to use Super Boost Energy and attach it to Greninja GX to use Haze Slash, shuffling itself back into the deck. You’d then promote a Slaking for Ability-lock or another Greninja GX to tank a hit. The deck just cycles back in Greninja GX over and over again to set up knockouts.
I made my own version of the deck that is not as Trainer-focused as Shintaro’s. In testing, I preferred Elm’s Lecture and a heavy count of Brooklet Hill, though I still kept the Pokemon the same. I did not like Acro Bike at all because of how it can discard critical resources. His list ran only one Rescue Stretcher, so it made me uncomfortable using the card. I really like the heavy Elm and Brooklet Hill count for a strong opening. I did not feel like two Lillie was reliable without Tapu Lele GX.
These pokemon are the heart of the deck. The Meganium sets everything up and the Swampert helps you burn and cycle through your deck. I found that I would want two each of these in play at all times. I actually did not know that Meganium could stack when I first started testing this deck, but having two is incredible since it allows you evolve many pokemon at once.
You only need two Greninja GX to attack throughout a game. If one is prized you can Gladion for it, or just make do with one. Greninja just serves as a wall. It takes a hit and then shuffles itself back in the deck. Keep in mind that Shadowy Hunter GX can be very useful to close out games.
Beacon and Mysterious Guidance make this function and provide the consistency backbone for this deck. Alolan Ninetales GX is one of the best cards from Lost Thunder, and it has propelled Stage 2 decks to the top of the meta.
This a nice tech for Ability-locking. This deck can get out Slaking instantly, so a 1-1 line is fine as it is. Greninja GX Haze Slashes itself back into the deck and then you promote Slaking to lock your opponent out of abilities. Pretty much every deck in the format relies on Abilities, so this will be a pain for the opponent if they do not have Guzma to move it out of the Active.
It’s funny how this is actually the best draw Supporter for this deck. The reason why you run Looker is so you can draw through your deck sufficiently to find Super Boost Energy, while continually re-drawing your Greninja GX line after you Haze Slash. This deck’s hands get really big from Swampert’s “Power Draw,” which means you cannot Cynthia because you’ll clog your deck. Looker Whistle is convenient as well, since it thins two cards out of your deck, provides draw Supporters for back to back turns, and is essentially a Supporter that’s searchable from Mysterious Guidance.
This card is great in here because it heals Greninja GX and Slaking. We run two of these and two Pal Pads to potentially Acerola up to six times. A cool function of running Acerola in this deck is that you can pick Alolan Ninetales GX off the board so can have space to play other Stage 2s.
This deck needs switch cards so it can move Greninja or Slaking in or out of the Active. Normally, when Slaking is in the Active, it will need a switch card to be moved into a Greninja. Guzma is just great for maneuvering around your opponent’s board. This also can do this neat trick where you bring something up and hit it with Haze Slash, and hope that Pokemon stays Active. Then, in following turns you can knock that Pokemon with Shuriken Flurry. Guzma is great for annoying your opponent’s board.
You never want to prize two copies of a Stage 2, Super Boost Energy, and/or Choice Band (depending on if it’s a GX or non GX deck). Gladion is just excellent in this deck so you don’t suffer from bad prizes. Two copies of Gladion are needed because you need to see the card as soon as possible since this deck does not run Tapu Lele. With “Power Draws,” you should able to see this mid-game. There can be some games where you prize really badly and you might be forced to use two of these to find what you need.
I didn’t really like the count of three Rare Candy in Shintaro’s list because I feel like this deck needs Rare Candy as early as possible. I have been liking the four copies a lot because it just increases the odds of early Swampert or Meganium.
This deck runs a lot of Basic Pokemon search from Professor Elm’s Lecture and Brooklet Hill, but you also need outs to your evolutions as well. I didn’t like running a max count of Ultra Ball because they can be too costly to use. This deck is already discarding cards with “Power Draw,” so I would rather use Timer Ball for search. I also love running a max Timer Ball count because that is the preferred card to use after a turn one Professor Elm’s.
I run two copies of Ultra Ball and they have been fine as well. There are points where you can thin and reliably get out a Pokemon instead flipping twice for Timer Ball.
This deck obviously needs these cards for a good start. You want max Elm’s just to ensure that you open with it. Three Brooklet Hill has been great as well. This deck plays three different water Basics, so Brooklet Hill has great value.
1 Choice Band
I was surprised Shintaro did not run this card in the deck. This card won’t get removed by Field Blower if you attach it when you attack. This card is too useful not to run. Doing 30 more damage against GX decks every turn is just too good to go without.
1 Rescue Stretcher
With Gladion, I think one Stretcher should suffice. I would run two but space is very tight.
Gardevoir/Swampert/Alolan Ninetales GX
I found this matchup to be fine since they have to commit a ridiculous amount of energy to knockout a Greninja GX. What you want to do in this matchup is spread your damage accordingly. You should “Shuriken Flurry” one Gardevoir GX, and Haze Slash another so they don’t get full value from Max Potion. I would just try to target down Ralts and Kirlia in this matchup since Gardevoir is the biggest threat.
I haven’t tested this matchup too much. I think the scary thing is that they can rush with Alolan Ninetales GX’s Snowy Wind and “Feather Arrows” to knockout your small HP Basics. I think if you’re able to set up, you should be fine. I would focus on knocking out Tapu Leles, Zoroark and Ninetales. What I would try to do in this matchup is set up Slaking. All their Pokemon rely heavily on Abilities. You should force them to Guzma to keep up. One thing you can also do in this matchup is play around their Counter Gain and Counter Catcher. You hit a Lele for 140 with Haze Slash AND “Shuriken Flurry,” then leave it there until you can “Shuriken Flurry” the Lele for the last prizes of the game.
This matchup is pretty easy since they cannot one shot Greninja at all. Magcargo also only takes three hits from “Shuriken Flurry” for a knockout. Granbull is a deck that is not great at streaming Guzma, so moving Greninja out of the Active would be hard to do multiple times.
I haven’t tested this matchup too much, but I do think you have the advantage since Haze Slash one-shots Blacephalons and you can keep throwing up one-prized Pokemon. Their deck can actually one shot Greninja GXs, so I would either feed them one prized Pokemon or set up Slaking and slow down their board.
Blacephalon decks are aggressive and fast. Having a slow start can be bad, so try to prioritize setting up multiple Swamperts. One thing Blacephalon decks like doing is using Marshadow early to try to take a quick win. This is very scary since four cards aren’t always enough to set up. All in all, I feel like this matchup is relatively fine because of the type advantage.
I feel like Malamar variants are generally easy for this deck since you have Slaking and you can “Shuriken Flurry” Malamars three times for KO. They can’t operate at all if you have Slaking, so if you are able to set up that lock, this matchup should be a breeze.
I based this list off Zack Everest’s third place and Sam Chen’s ninth-place lists. This deck is still really good because of its speed and power, and its consistency can beat Control/Mill decks.
The one card that I added is Professor’s Letter. Sometimes, it can be inefficient to use the Battle Compressor/Superior Energy Retrieval combo. I found it convenient to Order Pad or Trainers’ Mail into Professor’s Letter. This card has been played in this deck before so it’s no new discovery that it works in here.
Another addition here is Faba. I think this card, in general, will see a lot of play. It is great in this deck because it helps get rid of Garbotoxin and pesky Stadiums. Some Zoroark decks like to re-use Silent Lab, but Faba can remove their one copy of Silent Lab to the Lost Zone where it can’t be reused anymore. Overall, this card is very convenient in the deck.
The one card I would like to add is Volcanion Prism Star. This card helps set up knockouts, and “Jet Geyser” can be useful to switch an unfavorable Pokemon from your opponent.
I don’t need to get into detail about this deck since it has existed for years and the base is relatively the same. Don’t forget, this deck won Worlds in 2015! Now that Hex Maniac and Ghetsis are gone, this deck will be one of the strongest in the format. I think the deck is an excellent play for Anaheim Regionals because of its raw speed and power.
As always, thanks for supporting us. Lost Thunder has made the format more exciting, and I wonder how it will impact Expanded for Anaheim. The Meganium/Swampert/Greninja deck is awesome and I love how it works. Japanese players are innovative for creating these new concepts. I will be at Anaheim Regionals if you have you guys have questions or concerns, so let me know! Until then!