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Deck Crafters: Porygon-Z Guidance Initialized

Welcome back trainers! In my last Deck Tech article, I discussed the possibility of putting in a line for Porygon-Z into decks but also raised a small question: what would a deck based entirely around the card and its ability look like? So today in this Deck Crafter article, we're going to look at Guidance Initialized, a deck I designed around the concept. Along the way, we're going to look at how the deck was built as an exercise to help you learn to build decks of your own! First, let's take a look at the deck list, then we can dive all the way in.

Now that you've seen the deck, let's discuss how it was built! The first thing I always do when designing a deck is figuring out how I intend to approach the win condition. Remember there are three ways to win, taking all of your prizes, your opponent having no Pokemon in play, and your opponent running out of cards to draw. The latter option is not our focus here, and while this deck is certainly capable of winning by taking all of your prizes, its specialty will be cleaning out the bench and your opponent's Pokemon in one fell swoop due to a combination of Initialize and spread damage. Let's take a look at what Porygon-Z's ability Initialize does again.

When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon during your turn, you may devolve each of your opponent’s evolved Pokémon by putting the highest Stage Evolution card on it into your opponent’s hand.

Tapu Koko PR-SM SM30For this to have maximum effect, Porygon-Z needs to be played after the opponent has enough damage on their Pokemon that when they are returned to their previous evolutions, they will be knocked out. As we discussed during Deck Tech, a large number of meta decks are currently using 60 HP Basic Pokemon as they are easy to search out with Professor Elm's Lecture. However there are still certainly some Basics that have 70 HP like Slugma, Poipole, and Snubbull. So we want to find a Pokemon that can spread damage as quickly as possible to take these Pokemon out, and if at all possible could even take out their evolutions if needed to stop their setup tools while you spread. 

The most obvious choice might be Tapu Koko as its being used in many current meta deck variants like Malamar Spread, Passimian Spread, and Poison Spread decks. The word spread is in all of those decks' names, it has to be perfect for this kind of deck right? Well, not exactly. It takes 3 attacks to have enough damage on the entire bench to take out 60 HP Pokemon when you play Porygon-Z, which with the prevalence of 60HP Pokemon sounds great right?

The real issue is those 70 HP Pokemon. That fourth attack isn't that bad, but trying to manage it while getting your Porygon-Z ready to play and having a proper draw engine set up with potentially the likes of your own Magcargo and Oranguru takes a lot more work. Especially as you'd need to grab Rare Candy to get Porygon-Z onto the field. 

This is why I thought Alolan Ninetales-GX was such a great fit instead: it comes with incredible synergy. Let's look at the major talking points for the card:

  • Mysterious Guidance can help us search out our Rare Candy needed and other items.
  • Alolan Vulpix, its previous evolution, can help us find Pokemon we need while helping us set up.
  • Alolan Ninetales-GX has the attack Snowy Wind which does 70 damage (perfect for those 70 HP Pokemon and also covering the 60HP ones) while doing 30 to a benched Pokemon (which can add up to 60 in two attacks). 
  • With a Rare Candy related engine provided by Alolan Ninetales-GX we can use Swampert as a draw engine for the deck, as we already have the setup to support it.

In simpler terms: Alolan Ninetales-GX is perfect for this deck. With it as the main attacker, you simple need to put 70 damage down on one Pokemon, then place 30 on another. After that, force the opponent to switch to a Pokemon without damage, give that Pokemon 70 damage, while making sure the Pokemon with only 30 damage before now has 60. In theory, this already means 3 knockouts after Porygon-Z is played, and potentially just a plain knockout if their benched Pokemon aren't yet evolved. Rinse and repeat until you can pull off the epic finale and clear out their bench!

With our main strategy in mind, I had to make sure it ran consistently as consistency wins games. Alolan Ninetales-GX itself provides serious consistency, but we can make it even better. Professor Elm's Lecture will be able to grab all of our Basic Pokemon cards, as every single one, Porygon included, has 60 HP. I also included Brooklet Hill not only as a way to remove any Shrine of Punishment that the opponent may play, but to help search for Alolan Vulpix and Mudkip as needed. Thankfully with Alolan Ninetales-GX I can also easily grab items like Ultra Ball and Timer Ball which can get either the specific Pokemon needed, or potentially load up my hand with needed evolution Pokemon like Alolan Ninetales-GX, Swampert, and Porygon-Z. Also, the deck itself is more consistent purely as its able to avoid the effects of Alolan Muk, which is currently being teched into several decks. 

How does the opponent make the right switches to execute my main strategy? The first option, and a staple in almost every deck currently, is Guzma. However, Guzma alone wont be enough for the deck to function, it can only manage to switch maybe 3-4 times and it's a Supporter, limiting your ability to use others on my turn. So I included Custom Catcher which comes with the advantage of forcing a switch and being an item. The only tough part is that it takes two of them, but Mysterious Guidance searches out two item cards! Plus as my main attacker is a Fairy Type, Diantha can be used to search them out of the discard pile once they are used. They also can help you draw up to a hand size of 3 if needed, which is good utility to provide more consistency. I also included a couple copies of Pokemon Catcher. Despite it being a coin flip, I needed a little more forced switching power, and this card is the next best option.

This only leaves us left with three cards to discuss, and the first is important. Often times in decks the decision of whether to use Tate & Liza or Cynthia takes place with Cynthia finding more use, but in this deck I feel Tate & Liza are the correct choice. This deck lacks the card Switch and outside of Guzma had to deal with forced switches against itself which Tate & Liza can do nicely. While not as strong of draw support as Cynthia, I hopefully have Swampert going, possibly two of them, to help build up my hands. Not to mention Custom Catcher from earlier if I'm desperate. So I find its utility is too good to not use!

Finally we have Rescue Stretcher and [Energy Loto]]. The former is an obvious choice, if somehow I manage to lose both of my Porygon or Porygon-Z cards, I need a way to get one back. The same goes for Mudkip and Swampert. Energy Loto I've included because this deck does take two attachments of energy to work and is honestly one of the deck's biggest weaknesses in terms of speed. This is an item that can be searched out if needed by Alolan Ninetales-GX. On that note, we also of course include 10 Fairy Energy in the deck because we kind of need it to attack and all!

Now after talking about all of the positives of the deck, we need to be realistic: the deck still has weaknesses. As already mentioned, getting two attachments down to attack, and needing to do so with a backup ready on the bench to hit once your first Alolan-Ninetales-GX goes down, isn't easy. It's certainly not impossible, but it does have its share of issues. Secondly, your opponent may simply use several higher HP basic Pokemon, making Porygon-Z itself entirely useless. It's still not impossible to win with your spread damage and clever switching alone, but it's certainly not easy. Snowy Wind does take out Pokemon with either 120 or the peskier 130 HP with two hits, while maybe leaving a Pokemon on the bench ready to crumble. Sublimation GX can potentially just send one Ultra Beast packing, and they are quite common in the current meta. Still, the pure play of Porygon-Z is gone, and thus it leaves a few dead cards in the deck that, while they can be discarded as fuel for Ultra Ball, clog up the works.

Despite the decks potential shortcomings, I truly feel as though this deck has some serious potential in the current meta game as a hard counter to decks with Rare Candy engines (which are currently 1-4 decks). However it's not just my thoughts that matters, I need to hear yours! Comment below or feel free to talk to me directly on Twitter @LiteralGrill to discuss your thoughts on the deck, or share your experiences playing it if you try it out. Now as always until next time keep it lit trainers!

- Linnea "LiteralGrill" Capps

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