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Ruining Your Opponent's Day: Star-Struck Control

Good Afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  It's time once again for MostlyNotGaming's MostlyNotRegular MostlyNotAGuid to MostlyNotADeck.  In today's episode, we are going to delve into the seedy underbelly of control decks (a running theme of my playstyle, apparently) and see if we can find a way to make the most frustrating deck currently playable EVEN MORE FRUSTRATING!  So grab your "Opponent's Tears" mug, put on your best smug superiority smile, and let's play some control.  

THE DECK

THE ENGINE

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The primary function engine of the deck is the Oranguru Loop package.  For those uninitiated, the Oranguru Loop is where you use Oranguru UPR 114 plus a pokemon that can draw cards, in this case Pidgeotto TEU 123 to get your deck down to a very small size (3-4 ideally) and just continually loop a set of cards.  You can get your deck down to, say, 3 enhanced hammer.  Then you draw one for your turn and use two Pidgeotto to draw the other two.  Play them.  Then end your turn by using Resource Management to put them back into your deck.  Rinse + repeat.  It's a pretty annoying deck to play against.  But you didn't come here for annoying.  You came here for soul-crushing.  So, what cards do we add to this to push the deck over the edge?

THE PRIMARY COMBO

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This is the primary loop you want to be pulling.  Bellelba & Brycen Man CEC 186 is a new card that just came out which forces both you and your opponent to discard the top three cards of their library (an action which is referred to as "milling" as in "Mill the top three cards").  This is, to put it mildly, huge.  Oranguru Stall decks always had two fatal flaws, both of which are addressed in this loop.  The first is that your opponent was only ever "milling" one card per turn by drawing one card.  There was no way to speed up the game so, in a best of one, you'd frequently tie.  Or your opponent would just slow play (don't lie, you've done it) in order to get the tie rather than take a loss.  Bellelba & Brycen Man speeds up the process by, essentially, forcing a 4 card mill minimum per turn (draw + 3).  

The second fatal flaw of Oranguru Stall was that you were always at the mercy of your opponent's deck and what they top-decked, because they would see their entire deck.  You had no way to stop them from drawing that one-of Switch they had in their deck.  Well not anymore, thanks to Chip-Chip Ice Axe UNB 165.  This card lets you look at the top three cards of your opponent's deck and chose which one they draw.  So you can finally see the top three, see that switch, and make sure it's not the next card they draw.  This lets you control the opponent's top deck.  So, how can we best use these together?  

The loop you want is, and I cannot stress this order enough, Bellelba AND THEN Chip Chip.  This way, you deprive your opponent of the next three cards, AND make sure that the fourth card they draw is not the one that ruins your day.  This is the primary loop.  This is your bread and butter.  This is what makes the deck soul-crushing.  

THE SUPPORTING CAST

Your Trainer Card list is pretty standard, but there are some choices in here that might look odd, as well as some choices that might make you think "wait, why not *card*?"

The thing that might jump out and make most people want to pound their keyboard and scream obscenities at me through their computer screens is the very obvious lack of Jessie & James HIF 58.  This is an astute observation.  I do not run J&J, instead opting to use Mars UPR 128.  The logic behind this is that, while it is nice to be able to discard two cards instead of one, the main goal of the deck is to thin out and get to the Oranguru Loop as fast as possible.  Mars lends herself to that goal.  Plus, it is a random discard so there is a chance that your opponent is forced to discard that one card in hand that they were hoping they could keep, rather than any of the other cards they don't' really care about.  

Another thing that may jump out at seasoned players of Oranguru Stall is the lack of Jirachi TEU 99.  A lot of oranguru loop decks run Jirachi as a way to get your stuff into your hands faster.  While this is a good card, and I think you might be ok playing it, the version of the deck I run plays Acro Bike CES 123.  Again, the whole point is to get your deck as thin as you can, as fast as you can.  Acro bike does this better than Jirachi.  

The last specific inclusion I will address is U-Turn Board UNM 211 instead of Escape Board UPR 122.  While I can understand the draw to escape board, I have become very fond of U-turn board as a retreat-assistance card which comes back to your hand in case your opponent somehow discards it or KO's the opponent it is on.  

Recycle Energy UNM 212 lets you, essentially, free-retreat.  Or guarantee an energy after a KO.  When it would be discarded for any reason (DISCARDED for any reason, so no help against Faba), it goes back to your hand.  

The rest of the deck is bog-standard control.  Reset Stamp to mess with your opponent's hand.  Professor Elm's Lecture to get your stuff.  Hammers to hammer.  Brock's Grit to shuffle stuff into the deck.

THE TECHS

We will conclude the discussion of the deck by talking about the tech cards that I've included.  I'll spend some time on each of these as some of them may be obvious, and some of them may be drastically not obvious.  

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There is a window of time, now, where Keldeo-GX UNM 47  will give you an auto-win against certain decks.  Keldeo GX has full-immunity to GX pokemon.  You will face people who do not expect this card to be in decks.  This card, if played right, can utterly ruin your opponent's day.  But you have to play it right.  As best as you can, you want to avoid slamming this guy down early.  You need to lull your opponent into a false sense of security.  Let them think you're just playing Pidgeottos and Orangurus.  Let them fill their bench with GX.  Then, once they have done so, slam him down and just wait for the chance to put him in the active.  

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Articuno-GX CES 31 is, incidentally, why there are three water energies in the deck.  The GX attack is what we are after here, which discards all energy from both active pokemon.  This is helpful against those decks that like to stack a bunch of energy on a single pokemon.  Or against a deck that needs two types of energy and runs only one or two of one of those types (I'm looking at you, Garchomp & Giratina-GX UNM 146 ).  But, just like Keldeo, the trick is knowing how to play.  Because as soon as your opponent sees Oranguru, they will assume you play this card.  They will, to the best of their ability, attempt to not stack energy.  Be mindful that Articuno's best play is not discarding the most amount of energy, but the right energy at the right time.  

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Girafarig LOT 94 lets us permanently get rid of stuff from the discard pile that we don't want.  Energy discarded. Pokemon Discarded.  Hopes.  Dreams.  Self-Control.  Anything which we can get our opponent to discard disappears. 

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Don't underestimate how impactful Absol TEU 88's ability to increase the retreat cost of basics is.  Remember, you are going to be denying your opponent most of their resources, so making it hard for them to get that useless pokemon that you've stranded in the active really goes a long way.  

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You are kind of suuuuuuuuper reliant on being able to use Pidgeotto.  Which means you are super reliant on being able to have a pidgey to evolve.  Ditto Prism Star LOT 154 gives you, essentially, 5 pidgey in your deck.  

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Ahh, Goomy FLI 91.  Goomy, Goomy, Goomy.  The best stall Pokemon you've never heard of.  Goomy is my tech against any deck that runs low-cost attackers, or low-energy count decks.  Nightmarch, other Oranguru decks, the Beacon Alolan Vulpix back when it was around.  Anything that relies on running a low number of energy in the deck can very quickly be beaten by this little guy.  Goomy is one of my top three favorite pokemon cards, and is a card I stick in every stall/mill/control deck I make because it really is that good.  

PLAY NOTES

The first thing to note is the deck has very few bad matchups, but the bad matchups it has are baaad.  Its worse matchup has always been Mew3, MewMew, or whatever name you call the decks that feature MewTwo & Mew-GX UNM 71.  I can't tell you exactly why the matchups are always bad, but they are historically bad, and you can verify this via any tournament stream.  HAVING SAID THAT, I think Bellelbe & Brycen Man might actually help the win rate, as it gives us a little bit more pressure on the deck.

Second, your goal is not to protect your stuff.  You have to be ok with losing a few pokemon in the early game.  Most of my games have been one with me down in prizes, with my opponent frequently having three or less prizes remaining.  Your goal in the beginning of the game is to just survive.  Delay your opponent and survive long enough to start doing some real damage with your disruption cards.  Don't be afraid to sacrifice an Oranguru.  

Third, learn when to play B&BM.  This is, unfortunately, not something I can explain to you, but it's something you have to just learn.  B&BM is your workhorse.  It's the card that gives you a greater chance of winning.  So you have to not be afraid to use it early.  Once I get two or three pidgeotto set up, I B&BM every chance I can.  

PARTING WORDS

And so, with that, I believe we have finally taken the most frustrating deck in Standard and made it somehow worse.  Your opponent will grumble and groan as they see you mill their one out.  They will talk under their breath as you Chip-Chip away their only hope of victory.  They will hate your deck.  They might even call you names.  I want to end this article by reminding you that this is a game.  Decks like this are so frustrating to play against because, if done right, your opponent has no chance of winning.  And they know that.  There comes a point where they know not only are they going to lose, but that it is going to be a slow and agonizing process.  I've been to tournaments where my opponent scooped right when they saw me flip an Oranguru because they just didn't want to deal with the headache.  People hate these decks, and they will hate losing to you.  Don't relish in it.  Don't celebrate.  Be humble about the win.  

Have fun!


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