What is considered to be the most skill-based deck in the format, Yveltal/Garb, has been running rampant at events all season long. After winning Orlando, coming in both first and second at Fort Wayne and then capping that off with first, second, third AND fourth at the London International Championships, it’s undeniable that Yveltal/Garb is the deck to beat at the moment in the Standard Format. With such a seemingly straight-forward deck, you’d think it would be an easy pick-up-and-play deck, but it’s really not. In fact, I consider myself to be a fairly adept player, and I noticed myself making minute misplays throughout games frequently early on in my testing. Granted, this is my first time playing Yveltal, so there’s that. Regardless, after a couple months of trying out Yveltal, I think I have a pretty good handle on it. The nature of this article is to shed some light onto a few different intricacies of the deck, as well as point out some tech cards to help in the mirror!
Last year people seemed to have a problem with Night March being such a dominant deck because of how low the skill-curve seemed to be, despite many players also contesting that Night March’s low skill-curve was offset by a steep mastery-curve. That’s not the same story this season; Yveltal/Garb has emerged as the best deck in the format, but it’s extreme emphasis on game-state details and deck-building and especial exploit-ability of misplays seems to settle any arguments of it being an “unfair deck.” However, a flawlessly played Yveltal can be nearly impossible to deal with for an unpracticed player of any deck.
What seems most appealing about the deck is the fact that Yveltal has no apparent auto-losses, like every other deck in the format. A Vespiquen/Zebstrika deck emerged quietly during the London International Championships as a hard-counter to Yveltal, very similar to a Vespiquen/Raichu deck I profiled much early in the season (be sure to go check out that DeckLab when you’re finished with this one!) (Editor's note: yes do this pls). The only problem about that deck is that it comes with its own list of problems, particularly in a best-of-one format, which is increasingly relevant as League Cups begin popping up. Decks based around Jolteon EX can be particularly troublesome for Yveltal decks, though they can be manageable with a good Yveltal player playing a solid list.
1x Super Potion
4x Double Colorless
Jumping straight into my list, none of the Pokemon should be all too surprising. Three Yveltal EX, the main attacker in the deck. Yveltal has two attacks: Evil Ball and Y Cyclone. Evil Ball does 20 damage, plus 20 more for each energy attached to both active Pokemon; this is how you hit your biggest numbers, and can be exploited heavily in the mirror when a player begins investing to heavily in a single Yveltal EX. Y Cyclone does a clean 90, and you move an energy from Yveltal EX to your bench, either setting up another Yveltal EX or Fright Night Yveltal, which is another key component to the deck. Y Cyclone is also an extremely valuable attack in the mirror because it allows you to decrease the damage your opponent’s Yveltal EX is capable of doing by moving energy off of your active Pokemon. Fright Night Yveltal, which I already mentioned briefly, is another key attacker in the deck. The attack Pitch Black Spear does 60 damage and then 60 more damage to one of your opponent’s benched Pokemon EX. Being able to spread damage like this can be huge for setting up future KOs or for stealing KOs on Pokemon you have already damaged. Don’t forget about Fright Night being one of the scariest abilities in the game, turning off all tool cards when Yveltal is in the active position! This can create some sticky situations for your opponent when you trap a fatty in the active spot, like Volcanion EX and your opponent isn’t able to use Float Stone to retreat. Garbodor is in the deck to help against other big meta decks in the format such as Volcanion EX, Greninja BREAK and speedy mega decks like Rayquaza or Gardevoir.
The energy isn’t anything particularly unique. Most lists seem to be playing four Double Colorless, which just makes sense since all of the attackers in the deck benefit from this. Eight or nine Darkness energy has been the most common count I have seen, any less and you’d struggle to hit your Max Elixir, more and you begin to cut other key cards in the list.
The Trainer lineup is where the deck creativity really shines. Stadiums normally include two or three Parallel City, but players should really not forget about Reverse Valley. Though less popular, Reverse Valley can open up some nice options in the mirror. Pitch Black Spear is one of the best attacks in the mirror, since it’s able to spread damage to the opponent’s bench, but it only does 60 damage, meaning you would need to swing three times to knock out an opposing Fright Night Yveltal. However, even just one Pitch Black Spear with Reverse Valley in play will allow you to two-hit KO an opposing Fright Night Yveltal with your own Fright Night Yveltal, saving you a whole turn, which is crucial in the mirror! Also, Yveltal EX with a Fighting Fury Belt and Reverse Valley in play is able to KO an opposing Shaymin EX with Y Cyclone! This isn’t paramount in the mirror, since you normally want to be attacking other attackers, but in nearly every other matchup it’ll certainly be relevant.
Supporters can really add some depth to a list as well. Sycamore, N and Lysandre are the staples, so we don’t need to discuss them. However, Delinquent, Pokemon Center Lady and Team Flare Grunt can each be game changers if played at the right moment. With many lists opting to only play Parallel City, Delinquent may very well be the only way to bump the stadium, allowing you to replay Parallel City however you please, not to mention forcing your opponent to discard three cards from their hand. When played at the right time, Delinquent can force your opponent out of a win-condition. Pokemon Center Lady heals 60 damage and removes all Special Conditions from one of your Pokemon, this can be used to squeeze some more life out of an Yveltal EX, or even to negate the damage done by an opposing Fright Night Yveltal! This will rarely have the obvious impact that Delinquent might, but 60 damage can certainly be enough to swing the tide of a game. Finally, Team Flare Grunt might seem counterintuitive, because Yveltal does more damage when your opponent has energy attached. However, a common play is for your opponenet to use Y Cyclone when they have a Dark and a DCE attached in order to save the DCE on their bench. One of the best counter-plays to this is to use Team Flare Grunt to knock the Dark energy off your opponent’s active, and hopefully drop an Enhanced Hammer to knock that would-be-safe DCE off the bench. On top of that, you could even attack with Fright Night Yveltal this turn to force your opponent to have a switching card in order to attack on their next turn, since Float Stone would be turned off by the Fright Night ability.
Finally, items are mostly straight forward, with the exception of one: Super Potion. Super Potion allows you to remove 60 damage from one of your Pokemon, similar to Pokemon Center Lady, but instead of this costing your Supporter for turn, this will cost you one energy, if you have one attached, that is. This can be another great way to shore off some damage dealt by an opposing Pitch Black Spear. Enhanced Hammer is another card I notice some Yveltal lists not playing, but it’s critical in the mirror, and applicable in many other matchups as well, maybe most notably Greninja, which can abuse Splash energies to preserve Greninja BREAK lines and maintain a frog-swarm, which can sometimes be hard to deal with, even with Garbotoxin active.
With many League Cups just around the corner coming into 2017, you can expect to see a lot of Yveltal decks being played! Anyone looking into trying out the deck, I encourage you to put some serious time into testing. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not the kind of deck you can just pick up and play proficiently.
Good luck at your next event, no matter the size, and don’t forget to keep it right here at Dead Draw Gaming for all your Pokemon TCG needs!