Remember at the beginning of our current Standard format when Xerneas BREAK Giratina was all the hype? Pepperidge Farm remembers. Xerneas BREAK is one of those cards people have seemingly forgot about until Dallas Regionals. With the release of cards such as Salamence-EX and Snorlax-GX, Xerneas BREAK is once again seeing a glimmer of hope as a formidable deck choice.
Table of Contents
II.Debunking Salamence – Why Salamence-EX isn’t the optimal play
III.Tipping the Scale – Why Snorlax-GX is so good
IV.Card Choices – Why it’s in here
V.Other Considerations – Other cards that didn’t make the cut
I’ve done my fair share of arguing for Salamence-EX and for good reason. At first glance, this Pokemon offers a lot of potential against a heavy Pokemon-EX format. It has early punching power and is already threatening your opponent after a single Geomancy. Unlike its Dragon counterpart, Giratina-EX, Salamence-EX can start attacking on turn two with little effort. Its attack, Beastly Fang, is so threatening that your opponent is forced to play around it if they’re playing a Pokemon-EX based deck. Your opponent will essentially have to think twice about benching a Shaymin-EX or two, so in a sense, just by benching this Pokemon you’ve effectively put your opponent in a Parallel City predicament. Although these benefits are all really good, this card falls short for several reasons.
Salamence-EX will have an extremely low damage output against a good player. They will know that you’re playing Salamence-EX the second they see a Double Dragon Energy (DDE) or Giratina-EX and play accordingly. I they don’t see it early enough, they will only forfeit two prizes to you at most and adjust their play style to ensure Beastly Fang will not be a huge threat and take OHKOs. You’ll end up playing a sub-optimal 2HKO game with your opponent that relies on DDE to score a KO. In addition, you’ll be putting an EX in the active position and putting your energy at risk while playing this 2HKO game with your opponent. Additionally, all of your DDE are at risk of being Enhanced Hammered which is a wildly popular at the moment. A single Enhanced Hammer takes away 40 damage from your overall Life Stream damage output and this is something we want to avoid at all costs. Overall, Salamence-EX is a great Pokemon on paper but falls just short of being the Pokemon we needed him to be. When compared to the build that Snorlax-GX lets us build, we find that Salamence-EX will undoubtedly take a back seat.
Tipping the Scale
Snorlax-GX was the card everyone forgot about at Dallas and was slept on by the majority of players. It’s ok though because Snorlax was probably sleeping on you too and wanted to prepare a banquet of Pancakes for when you awakened. Now we’re all awake and Snorlax-GX was the first taste we got of Pokemon-GX and it was absolutely flavorful. If you were watching the stream from Dallas, Sam Chen was featured playing this deck and styled on his opponent by setting up to win game two with a Pulverizing Pancake on his opponent’s Yveltal-EX: it was a thing of beauty! It was at that moment I realized (along with many others) this deck has potential.
Now I normally prefer waffles, but in this case pancakes are more than acceptable and it is all made possible because of Regirock. Regirock’s Ancient Trait makes it unaffected by any of your opponent’s Trainer cards that try to target it. This means that’s it can’t be Lysandre’d or Enhanced Hammered. This is invaluable because putting energy on Regirock means it’s going to stay on the board and on your bench allowing you to do massive damage with Xerneas BREAK’s Life Stream. This combo alone made Xerneas BREAK appealing early in the format, but it lacked a game changing secondary attacker that you could Ninja Boy the Regirock into. Enter Snorlax-GX, everyone’s favorite road block. Snorlax-GX has the GX attack Pulverizing Pancake, which does 210 damage for 5 Colorless Energy. This would normally be a difficult task to accomplish, but in a deck like this it works perfectly with the strategy that is already being executed.
By utilizing Geomancy and setting up consistently turn after turn, building up Regirock and multiple Xerneas, you’ll eventually have a potential Snorlax-GX threatening your opponent (especially since we’re running DCE). As tantalizing as it would be to use that attack immediately, you will have to use all your willpower to save it for your final KO. Since you’re only able to use a GX attack once per game, you have to play accordingly. It works out well if you miss your Exp. Shares in crucial moments and you only have your Regirock built up. Although this should be a rare occasion, it can definitely happen and you’ll be thanking yourself that Snorlax was there to save the day. So with that said let’s dive into the list!
- 4 Xerneas STS
- 4 Xerneas BREAK
- 2 Shaymin EX
- 1 Lugia EX
- 1 Snorlax GX
- 1 Regirock XY49
- 1 Giratina XY184
- 4 Professor Sycamore
- 3 N
- 1 Delinquent
- 1 Lysandre
- 1 Ace Trainer
- 1 Ninja Boy
- 4 VS Seeker
- 4 Ultra Ball
- 3 EXP Share
- 2 Trainers’ Mail
- 2 Super Rod
- 1 Switch
- 1 Float Stone
- 1 Repeat Ball
- 2 Fairy Garden
- 2 Silent Lab
- 9 Fairy Energy
- 4 Double Colorless Energy
4-4 Xerneas BREAK
You’ll need to max out this line in order to stream Geomancy early as well as stream your attackers as often as possible. The fact that they’re “easy” to KO compared to most Pokemon EX is the reason we run two Super Rods so that we can ensure we’ll have enough Pokemon to compete in a 2HKO battle. Also, increasing our chances of drawing into more Xerneas through the use of draw Supporters will let us utilize better consistency cards outside of Brigette.
This deck needs as much consistency as it can get and Shaymin-EX is the best Pokemon to bring it. Since we’re running DCE in this build, you can easily Sky Return to take easy prizes off the board.
This will be an easily setup secondary attacker for your deck. Lugia-EX will help you set up numbers for when you need to trade attacks without giving up a Xerneas BREAK and allow you to easily hit for decent numbers when you lack the amount of energy on board to do decent damage. Lugia-EX will let you be aggressive and force your opponent to play a bit more defensively and allow you to go back to setting up a threatening Life Stream.
The Syrup of your deck, aka the finishing topping. Snorlax GX will ensure you can take a swift OHKO on a turn where Xerneas BREAK isn’t available or you don’t have enough energy on board. He’s the late game attacker the deck was missing before and thus deserves his one spot because let’s face it, he takes up way to much space to begin with.
The reason this deck has potential. Being able to protect your on board energy as the game progresses is game breaking. This is especially true when you factor in that your damage output is based on you having a bunch of energy on board. Utilizing this in combination with EXP Share and Snorlax will ensure that you don’t fall short of taking your last two prizes.
You have ahard match up against Greninja and this card can single handedly fix that match up in theory. Although a really good Greninja player can play around this card with Silent Lab, forcing them to have that card can buy you enough time to build the energy on board that is necessary to OHKO Greninja BREAK. In addition, you will make your opponent think twice before taking a KO since your EXP shares will be viable with them taking the KO via attack and not Water Shuriken.
4 Ultra Ball, 4 VS Seeker, 2 Trainers’ Mail, 4 Professor Sycamore, 3 N
The common core of consistency. They go in almost every deck and this deck is not an exception.
I love running two when I can, but this deck is already crowded enough as is. It is a deck that needs to focus more on consistency than tech Supporters so I can only fit a single Lysandre since I need room for…
1 Ninja Boy
Ninja Boy is the reason we are able to play Snorlax-GX. This card alone makes Regirock that much more powerful. It needs to be included to ensure we can have a late game “surprise” in Snorlax-GX. Additionally, it can allow us to turn a poor starter Pokemon such as Shaymin-EX or even Snorlax-GX into a Xerneas so that we can start utilizing Geomancy as soon as possible.
I like winning the stadium battle against Greninja and this card allows me to accomplish that. Additionally, this card can punish players who choose to not play around it and leave themselves with four cards in their hand. These two factors make this card a must for me in most decks and is my Tech Support of choice.
1 Ace Trainer
Ace Trainer is such a great card in this deck and allows us to play the slow game. Just like this card helps in the Greninja Deck, it also helps in this deck. We can Geomancy at least twice before a KO and get an extra 4 energy one board. This can be followed by utilizing Ace Trainer to put our opponent further behind and we can start executing a 2HKO strategy. Overall, Ace Trainer has good synergy with this deck and is too good not to earn a slot.
3 EXP Share
We want to be able to keep our energy on board and this card allows us to just that. We run extremely fragile attackers and this card will allow us to keep the energy we committed to our main attacker on the board and create a snowball effect that allows for massive damage in the late game. Also, utilizing this card with Regirock will make sure most of your energy will stick and damage output will remain high.
2 Super Rod
Like I’ve said before, we have fragile attackers and we’re going to sacrifice a few to get our setup going. In order to account for this we run two Super Rods in order to produce more attackers during the midgame. This card also allows us to put Snorlax-GX back into our deck should we need to discard it early. Additionally, running this card over Brock’s Grit will allow us to use a draw Supporter for the turn and give us better setup potential.
1 Repeat Ball
We need to get as many Xerneas as we can onto our bench in order to have better Geomancy targets and Repeat Ball lets us consistently make this happen. I would love to use more than one, but space dictates that I can only fit a single copy.
1 Switch, 1 Float Stone
We are going to need to ability to switch out our active outside of Fairy Garden since we’ll only be running two. Switch and Float Stone are great options because we’ll be able to switch and EXP Shared Pokemon with Switch and keep a permanent float on another Pokemon to give us a good promoting option when our Xerneas are KOd.
2 Fairy Garden, 2 Silent Lab
This deck originally ran four Silent Lab in order to counter Volcanion and that Idea is great, but I wanted to work in the ability to beat both Volcanion and Greninja. I wanted to do this by having a counter to Greninja’s own Silent Lab. Addtionally, I wanted to have the ability to hit and run by switching between attackers with Fairy Garden. Doing so means that we can make the prize trade more annoying and keep more energy on board for at least another turn.
9 Fairy Energy, 4 Double Colorless Energy
Since we are going to Geomancy and our damage output is based on energy, we are going to need a lot of it. Ideally, you’re going to want to Geomancy and attach an Energy for the turn. This means you still want to draw into energy even after utilizing Geomancy. You also have to account for the fact that all your energy will be saved by EXP share and you will need more to replace the Energy that is lost by your opponent’s taking KOs.
I’ve been in such a rut lately that I’ve been experimenting with cards that just let me draw. Lucky Helmet does just that. It lets me tank with Xerneas and just Geomancy while drawing cards as my opponent tries to KO my Pokemon. Utilizing this strategy early game can get you completely setup with very minimal effort. Most of the time your opponent won’t be able to OHKO your Xerneas early so this can effectively nab you four cards from your deck. When entering late game, this card can essentially make you N proof by allowing you to draw two cards when they N you to 1 and attack your Xerneas BREAK with a Lucky Helmet attached to it. I’ve been toying around with the idea of just replacing all my Trainers’ Mails with Lucky Helmet and so far it’s been working out for me. This is still just a concept, but I feel that it’s worth mentioning if you’re having consistency issues.
Geomancy is a great attack in slow format, but with decks like Volcanion running around and being able to hit for heavy damage while accelerating energy, we need a way to put pressure on our opponent. Burst Balloon solves this problem. Not only will it make your opponent think twice about attacking and make them play to the pace you want to, you’ll potentially be able to start taking KO’s sooner with less energy on the board. Basically, if you want to put pressure on your opponent early, then this card will do just that. You’ll be able to set up manageable numbers against your opponent without all of your energy on board. The drawback here is that you’ll sacrifice room that could be better tech options.
You’d think this card would be a staple in this deck since we rely on a lot of energy being in play in order to produce high damage output, but it’s far from necessary when you have an attack like Geomancy. Geomancy is a consistent stream of energy that doesn’t miss and sets up multiple attackers on the bench. When utilizing this attack, we end up lowering the percentage of hitting Max Elixirs mid and late game. This essentially takes away from better tech options we could fit in and creates wasted space. Although I will agree this card is great for turn 1 or turn 2 to threaten putting out high damage output, taking an aggressive route early in this deck will lead to a weak mid game and eventually lead to a loss. The point of this deck is to sacrifice the first Xerneas while setting up your board with multiple Xerneas and Exp. Share. You’re then able to suffocate your opponent with OHKO numbers and put them in a bind by utilizing Ace Trainer. Overall, this card is still pretty good and can set you up early, but you’ll end up sacrificing a stronger mid to late game because you gave up better tech options.
Fairy Drop has been a card I wanted to fit in this deck for some time, but other tech and consistency options have ousted it out of most of my lists. It is utterly amazing in the Yveltal match up since it is extremely difficult for them to OHKO you with Xerneas resistance to dark. When you play against decks that utilize a 2HKO strategy, Fairy Drop will mess up numbers for your opponent and can effectively turn the prize trade in your favor. I would definitely find room for one or two of these in the deck if I could if the format continues to be dominated by Yveltal-EX, however, with the way things are shaping up, it seems that Turbo Darkrai has become all the rage and we’re staring down damage output that Fairy Drop won’t save us against. Overall, this card is very clutch in a single match up, but is only mediocre at best against other top decks in the format. I’ll continue to opt for consistency over this card until the format dictates otherwise.
This is your worst match up. It is such an uphill battle since you will be playing the slow paced game that they are innately better at. Also, with the ability to KO your Pokemon without attacking they’ve effectively shut off all of your EXP Shares and have also taken away your ability to protect your energy via Regirock. Unfortunately, with an already crowded deck it’s nearly impossible to fit Garbodor so we’ll have to utilize the single copy of Giratina we’ve included in this deck to manage this match up. As most Greninja players are prepared to face Giratina with Silent Labs, we have altered our list from its origins of four Silent Labs to two Silent Labs and two Fairy Garden in order to provide us with a counter stadium. Additionally, we play a copy of Delinquent to help rid them of their Silent Lab. Sure, a good player can hold Silent Lab until they’re going to utilize Giant Water Shuriken, but we can just hold our Fairy Gardens and Delinquent to counter it and retreat into a secondary attacker to hide from a KO from a direct attack. By just manipulating a single turn of damage can result in you being able to maintain energy on board and constantly OHKO Greninja BREAK. Overall, this match up essentially becomes a stadium battle during the late game when Greninja BREAK starts to become a threat and hit the board turn after turn.
You have the slightest of advantages here due to your resistance to Dark Pokemon and it’s extremely difficult for them to OHKO you. Since they are playing the 2HKO game, you have plenty of time to Geomancy and set your board up and win that 2HKO battle. You essentially need to Geomancy until they KO your active Xerneas. This is normally the signal for you that it’s time to start being the aggressor. By this time, you should potentially be doing 100-140 damage via Life Stream assuming you were able to set up moderately well. Once the KO on your Xerneas occurs, you can promote another Xerneas and start evolving into BREAKS to play the 2HKO game. You should only need to play the 2HKO game for the first KO since EXP Share and Regirock should be aiding in keeping your energy on board for massive damage output for the remainder of the game. You’re more than likely to always win the first 2HKO battle since you let your first Xerneas absorb most (if not all) of the damage from early game. Should you be forced to play the 2HKO game past the first KO, be sure to just keep loading your energy on to Regirock and spread your Exp. Shares as you draw into them. This will ensure that you have both massive damage with Life Stream and more than enough energy to Ninja Boy into Snorlax-GX for the final KO.
Although this strategy is relatively sound, we are going up against one of the most consistent decks in the format. A skilled player will be able to force you to play the 2HKO game throughout the match by Lysandreing up your Pokémon with EXP Share and bring the battle to your on-board energy. This can potentially put you in a bind since they’ll spread damage for potential game changing KOs during the mid-game. This is why I’ve always considered putting Fairy Drop in this deck to completely turn the tide of this strategy against you, however, utilizing tech cards such as Team Flare Grunt, Enhanced Hammer, and Delinquent can be just as effective in this match up and while still providing benefit against other decks you may play against. You’ll want to emphasize your ability to retreat via Fairy Garden in this instance in order to take away easy KOs from your opponent and force them to have Lysandre to finish a KO.
This match up should go in your favor, but it really depends on how well they open up. Much like your Yveltal match up, you’re going to just Geomancy until they’re able to take the knock out on your Xerneas. You’ll need to set up multiple attackers to keep up with the potential OHKOs they can produce on you. Although they do have the potential to OHKO you, this will mostly be a 2HKO battle since it would be unwise for your opponent to continually discard four Pokemon to OHKO a Xerneas BREAK for a single prize because of how many resources they’ll have to utilize turn after turn. To ensure that this match up can end in your favor, you can utilize a strategy of holding on to your Silent Labs until mid game and putting them down on turns after they discard a bunch of Pokemon. From my experience, when they discard Pokemon when playing M Gardevoir, it’s because they have a follow up play with Dragonite-EX. To counter this, we wait for a situation where they’ve used up some resources to hope that Silent Lab can stick when you go for a revenge KO. Hopefully, your Silent Lab can stick long enough to help you get more than enough energy on board to take OHKOs via Life Stream or put you in a position to win the 2HKO battle and steal the last KO with a Pulverizing Pancake.
This deck can overwhelm you quick and can end up stealing the game from you. Luckily, we’re teched for this match up despite how quickly they can ramp up. We’re going to rely on Silent Labs and utilize Ace Trainer to keep them at bay while we set up and Geomancy for as long as we can. If we’re lucky enough to hit Silent Labs and Exp. Share early, we’re looking at a very manageable game state. By utilizing Geomancy while they attempt to work around Silent Lab, we can potentially set up OHKO numbers against a Volcanion-EX that they attached a Float Stone to. This is important because taking away the Volcanion-EX that can retreat freely will help you in the mid game. You’ll take away their ability to easily stream attacks without the use of other switch cards or Pokemon Ranger. Playing the 2HKO game here is extremely difficult as they can overwhelm you so easily with their energy acceleration despite having Silent Lab in play. Essentially, you’ll have to recognize turns where Geomancy will be valuable in the mid game and sacrifice another Xerneas for your setup. Pin pointing these scenarios can be difficult, but they’ll tend to look like the following:
Let’s say that you just scored a KO on a Float Stoned Volcanion and they promote another Volcanion-EX with two energy. They proceed to Steam Up and KO you the following turn and you have a single Exp. Share to save an energy on your Xerneas BREAK and promote another Xerneas Break. You then draw into another EXP Share that you attach you your Xerneas and proceed to play Sycamore. You get a Fairy Energy and Super Rod in hand and you attach energy to Regirock and Super Rod your Xerneas line along with a single Energy back into your deck. You now have the option to attack or Geomancy. In cases where the 2HKO game is more viable you should use Life Stream and put pressure on your opponent. In this case, just Geomancy and get more energy on board because the following turn could result in DCE and allow you to produce OHKOs on non-Fury Belted Volcanion. Although this scenario can seem a bit convoluted, I hope it sheds at least a little light on situations where you should Geomancy over Life Stream during the mid game.
This match up might be harder than Greninja. With their ability to Damage change during the mid game, they essentially erase any 2HKO strategy you planned on implementing. You’re going to have to get incredibly lucky in this match since hitting 210 damage, relies on you surviving the 2HKO battle during the mid-game. Even though this strategy won’t work against the more popular build, I say you still go about your business and keep your damage out lower than 150 in order to avoid KOs via Damage Change. This way you can at least score a KO by only sacrificing a single prize and one Xerneas BREAK line. I have yet to discover a better route for this match up, but I’ll stick this plan because It will help secure my late game.
The new hype that’s been going around lately. This matchup will depend on how quickly they can ramp up their energy. Luckily your main attackers are only worth one prize and you should be able to Geomancy a few times before shifting to your 2HKO strategy. Your resistance to Dark will help a lot in this match up as they’ll need seven Energy and a Fury Belt or Reverse Valley to OHKO your Xerneas BREAK. Hopefully, by the time they have that much energy on board, you too have produced the same amount of energy and have drawn into your Super Rod to ensure you’ll have enough attackers to keep up with their pace of play. While playing this deck you’ll be tempted to Ninja Boy into Snorlax-GX a lot but, like always, save this attack for you final KO because they’ll be able to KO your Snorlax with no problem by the time you have enough energy on board to use it. You essentially have to hope they miss a few Max Elixir in order to gain the upper hand in this match up. As tempting as it is to play aggressively in this matchup, if you stick to you Geomancy strategy you can mount a comeback via Ace Trainer and an intense 2HKO battle mid game.
With Darkrai Turbo, Mega Gardevoir, and Mega Mewtwo gaining traction in the format, Yveltal Garb has been overwhelmed and will not be seen in the numbers it has been at recent events. This makes way for Mega Rayquaza since it no longer has to deal with a large presence of Garbodor and Parallel City. Although those two cards will be scattered throughout the Meta, the deck that took the most advantage of them has dropped out in favor of the more explosive decks that offer a lot of control and thus we need to be prepared for this match up. You’ll essentially start the same way as you always do: get in as many Geomancy as you can and sacrifice the starting the Xerneas. Chances are, you’ll actually have to sacrifice two or more Xerneas in order to have enough damage output to start taking OHKOs on Hoopa-EX and Shaymin EX because Mega Rayquaza will be hitting you hard starting turn two. Hitting 220 is a tall order and, as always, we will try to save Snorlax GX to take the final KO; so in order to exchange properly after you sacrifice two Xerneas, you’ll have to go after the benched Pokemon with lower HP. Your biggest combos here will be to save Silent Lab for mid and late game so that you can N or Ace Trainer them into less resources to make a comeback. You’ll essentially be playing from behind this entire game and you’ll need to get lucky with your Ns and Ace Trainers to ensure you can stop their onslaught on your Xerneas BREAK. You’re still at a huge disadvantage in this matchup though since they’re able to hit for 150 Damage even without Sky Field.
This deck has become popular since it was awakened so it makes sense to address the mirror. This is basically a tossup and I still advise following the Geomancy Strategy early and avoiding first blood. By doing so, you’ll make your Ace Trainer live and can keep their resources at bay after their first KO. Even after the first KO, I suggest you keep utilizing Geomancy to produce OHKO’s on your opponent’s Xerneas BREAK. This may seem like a risk, but if they opted to start attacking before you, they have forfeited high damage output for the mid-game where you will begin to make up for the prize exchange that you gave up. Overall, the main goal of this matchup is to play to your OHKO and hope you draw into Ace Trainer to mitigate what they can do during their turn.
This Deck has a chance of shining in a format that is dominated by Yveltal Garbodor, but with the constant shifts in the Meta, it’s hard to say when it’s a good call. In a field dominated by Darkrai Turbo and Mega Rayquaza, this deck can fall quickly and make room for the Salamence-EX version to find its place in the meta. Overall, I love the novelty of this deck and its ability to compete in meta. I just hope it can continue to find its place as the meta wheel keeps on spinning.