Yes, the angry dragon/eel/fish is STILL here and kickin’ (or splashing, rather)! Over the past few weeks of going through old tournament reports and decklists, I remembered how well Gyarados has treated me every time I’ve played it. However, I had a small issue with the deck concerning the recent rotation. The exclusion of Claydol (GE), Night Maintenance, and Felicity’s Drawing were something of a hindrance to the efficiency of the deck. Sure, there are cards like Uxie and Volkner’s Philosophy that could fill in, but would it work? Some….no, MANY have completely written of Gyarados until Junk Arm and Rescue Energy are released. While I agreed with the assumptions that the deck won’t work without Felicity’s/Claydol for a while, I quickly found that the deck can not only still fully function without them, but THRIVES in a format with trainer lock where using supporters is required as well as a pokemon that can FISH (har har, puns) them out of your deck.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What are you going to do against Vileplume, scrub? Good luck winning when you can’t play SSU, Communications, Poketurns, and most importantly, your rescues, which Gyarados hinges on.” This is a very valid argument for not running the deck, but the key to victory lies in Dialga G Lv. X. Yeah, DGX as some call it gives Gyarados the edge it needs in a meta full of trainer locks whether it’s from Spiritombs or Vileplumes. I initially thought Floatzel GL Lv. X was a more solid play, not requiring me to run recovery cards, but G’dos is also about NOT being KO’d (thanks to super scoop ups), and another pokemon with Lightning weakness is no fun. When you combine the 1-1 DGX along with 3 warp energy, you can get it out relatively quickly and continue your beatdown on some of the most played decks in the format right now. While it doesn’t help the SP matchup in the slightest, you should be able to do well against them anyway, considering you OHKO them while they are typically forced to take cheap prizes around gyarados as well as the occasional Trash Bolt/Lucario OHKO. The SP matchup hasn’t really changed as much post rotation, I’d put it at an even 50-50 because so much of the matchup depends on who can keep up the stream of KO’s as well as the use of Expert Belt on G’dos’ side of the field. Regimove also plays a huge factor, allowing Gyarados to take a prize nearly every turn, barring Power Sprays.
I was also asked to discuss the relevance and efficiency of Volkner’s Philosophy as a Felicity’s Drawing substitute. Yes, Volkner is a moody guy, nowhere nearly as cheerful as Felicity, and he makes it clear that he doesn’t care that you can only discard one Magikarp with his “Philosophy”. Aside from the 1 card discard, Volkner’s can do wonders for the deck. Judge is a commonly played card right now, and getting rid of G’dos’ large hand for a measly 4 can suck, especially when holding onto those recovery cards you need. Volkner’s can not only get rid of a trash card from your hand, but also let you keep the good cards while drawing until you have 6, which is pretty good for not having claydol. The other reason it still works is because you need 3 magikarp in the discard. Regice can take care of 2 while Volkner’s drops the 3rd, still getting the same amount of discard *required* to set up, but not necessarily drawing as many cards mid-late game as Felicity’s would.
One last note before posting the list is the importance of Warp Energy. Between Bright Looks, Luring Flames, Sleep Inducers (Froslass GL), Reversals, and starting with Regice or Dialga G X, Warp Energy has saved my bacon several times. It can also be used to get out of a Status Condition such as Paralysis, Poison, Sleep, Confusion, etc. It also comes in handy when getting Gyarados back to the bench so that you can Psychic Restore back into the deck for late-game Set Up. The main reason it’s so essential in the current list is really to get your DGX to the bench safely after you level up, though.
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