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The Many Faces of PokeStop

For a mini-set, Pokémon Go contains a lot of playable cards: Radiant Charizard, Solrock and Lunatone, Slowbro, Radiant Blastoise and more. However, since it was revealed, the card that grabbed my attention was PokéStop, a Stadium card that acts as draw power if your deck is heavy on Item cards. I quickly got the feeling that I was valuing this card more than most “big names” in the game.

PokeStop (068/078)

To be fair, so far, PokéStop hasn’t been a dominant card. It’s improved some archetypes and created or resurrected others, but the best decks in the format are still Palkia and Arceus/Inteleon, decks that have no use for PokéStop. Maybe that’s for the best: the game is, I think, healthier when top tier decks rely on card search than when it’s full of decks drawing and discarding cards as fast as possible. That said, there should still be a place in the metagame for the kind of speedy decks that can abuse PokéStop, and in my opinion, there is.

I haven’t found the perfect PokéStop deck yet, unfortunately, but in this article, I want to showcase various decks that can make good use out of this card to show its potential and maybe encourage you to try out ideas involving it. Inteleon decks are always a safe bet, but they aren’t the only viable ones anymore!

 

 

Header - PokeStop: How and Why?

Before I give any specific examples of decks, let’s explain what makes PokéStop work. A card that can draw multiple Item cards is good, but PokéStop also runs the risk of discarding precious cards. That’s why it’s not a good card in Inteleon decks, which tend to play many one-of Supporters that they can search for at the right time with Shady Dealings. In fact, when playing PokéStop decks, I’ve often seen my opponent use my own PokéStop and, while sometimes this can help them, it’s always hilarious when they discard, say, Drizzile, Inteleon and an Energy card.
Instead, to make the most out of PokéStop, you should play a lot of Item cards – pretty obvious, right? The more Item cards you play, the more you’ll draw from PokéStop on average. Cards like Trekking Shoes work perfectly with PokéStop, as your PokéStop can be leveraged into drawing other cards. It also makes sense that a card like Mew, which also works well in decks full of Items, would go well with PokéStop.

PokéStop’s card discarding can also be an advantage! Take the Solrock / Lunatone deck, for example: not only can it use PokéStop to draw into good Item cards, but it can also discard Psychic Energy, which is fantastic in the early game to allow the use of Solrock’s Sun Energy. There are a few other examples in Standard (which I’ll discuss later), and plenty more in Expanded, which has a lot more discard synergies.

Finally, PokéStop can also be played in decks that rely on specific Item cards. One example that comes to mind is Stage 2 decks, who need Rare Candy to function: PokéStop can help to draw it. Unfortunately, Stage 2 decks also tend to play more Pokémon cards than the average deck, which might be discarded by PokéStop, so it’s not ideal. I could see Cinderace SSH using PokéStop, but that’s about it.

Instead, let’s talk about some more competitive decks! I’ve already mentioned Solrock / Lunatone, but there are other decks that can make great use of PokéStop.

 

Header - Turbo Dialga

A high density of Item cards, Mew and Trekking Shoes: there’s some obvious synergy between decks using the Turbo Engine and PokéStop. While every Turbo deck could use PokéStop, I think the one that makes the best use of it by far is Dialga VSTAR because in addition to drawing the staple Item cards of the engine (Trekking Shoes, Quick Ball, Scoop Up Net), PokéStop can also help to draw into Metal Saucer, which is a key card of the deck. Thanks to it, there’s a much higher chance of hitting the turn two Star Chronos (it’s not necessary to use Star Chronos on turn two to win with this deck, but it definitely helps).

Including PokéStop in Dialga does require making some changes to the deck list, though. Here are some things to keep an eye on:

  • In a deck that plays a 2-2 line of its main attacker, an effect that discards cards from the top of your deck is risky. Discarding a Dialga VSTAR can be pretty bad; discarding two (or discarding one when the other one is Prized) would be devastating. I think the ideal solution is to play an Ordinary Rod, which can’t be discarded via PokéStop and can recover important cards. Even if nothing big is lost to PokéStop, Ordinary Rod can still be used to recover attackers and/or Energy cards in the late game, and also to avoid decking out, which can actually be a legitimate issue sometimes: PokéStop accelerates the rate at which you draw (or discard) your cards, even compared to the already fast non-PokéStop version of the deck.
  • Similarly, Pal Pad should probably be included in order to recover Supporter cards when they’re discarded (or played). Dialga doesn’t play a lot of Supporters, so if you lose them, you run the risk of not playing Supporters a lot of the time, which is obviously not optimal.
  • There’s been a split between Dialga decks that use Cross Switcher and Dialga decks that play a higher count of Boss’s Orders. Both are valid, in my opinion, but if you play PokéStop (and I believe that it’s the right call), Cross Switcher is better, since it’s an Item card. I still play one copy of Boss’s Orders because it’s just too good not to (and with Pal Pad, a second Boss’s Orders is possible).

Here’s my deck list:

PTCGO Code

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 12
* 1 Crobat V DAA 104
* 2 Origin Forme Dialga V ASR 113
* 1 Zacian V SSH 138
* 2 Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR ASR 114
* 4 Mew CEL 11
* 1 Lumineon V BRS 156
* 1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46

##Trainer Cards - 37
* 4 Metal Saucer SSH 170
* 2 Avery CRE 130
* 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
* 1 Raihan EVS 152
* 1 Pal Pad UPR 132
* 1 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 4 Cross Switcher FST 230
* 3 PokéStop PGO 68
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Energy Search SSH 161
* 1 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 1 Canceling Cologne ASR 136
* 2 Ultra Ball SUM 135
* 1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
* 1 Marnie SSH 169
* 4 Trekking Shoes ASR 156

##Energy - 11
* 11 Metal Energy SWSHEnergy 8

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******

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The only card that’s unusual in here is the Lumineon V. It’s something that I’m unsure about, and it’s still in the testing phase, but the idea is that I think the deck generally works well enough with one Crobat V. However, there are times where I just can’t draw into a Supporter card, since the deck plays so few. With Lumineon V, I can turn a Quick Ball into a Supporter card to keep draw more. It also lets me find Boss’s Orders when I need it, or Raihan, which is ideal to find the missing Metal Saucer or Cross Switcher I may need.

It might look strange to play Lumineon V with so few Supporters in the deck, but it’s precisely because there are few Supporters that we need a way to draw them. Like many things, this is something I’ve thought about because of my experience in Expanded, where decks that play only a few Supporters may still play Tapu Lele-GX.

I’m still unsure about the ideal form of Dialga. Maybe the Supporter line should be something else: for example, Alex Schemanske has played the deck with Bird Keeper and Rowlet, and that sounds interesting at the very least. Cyllene is also an interesting card that can recycle Metal Saucer, or Canceling Cologne against decks with multiple Miltank.

There are also some Item cards that I’m always considering: one or two Battle VIP Pass could make the deck’s setup more reliable, Big Charm could make Dialga more secure against early attacks (especially from Palkia VSTAR), and a third Ultra Ball would be nice to draw into Dialga VSTAR more consistently. However, I think the deck is good. It has some bad matchups, especially Solrock / Lunatone, but I don’t expect these to be heavily played at Worlds, so Dialga could be a smart play there.

 

Header - Mad Party

Earlier, I stated that PokéStop had improved some archetypes (for example, Dialga) and created others (for example, Solrock / Lunatone; it might be disingenuous to attribute the emergence of that deck to PokéStop, when Solrock and Lunala were also released in Pokémon Go, but I think the deck wouldn’t have worked without it). It’s time to discuss a deck that is being revived by PokéStop: Mad Party!

Mad Party is an aggressive deck that plays a lot of Item cards and doesn’t mind discarding random cards since about a quarter of the deck is explicitly made to be discarded. That gives it some nice synergy with PokéStop. Of course, it would be misleading to say that PokéStop revived Mad Party alone; the deck actually received quite a bit of help in the last few sets! Double Turbo Energy, Trekking Shoes, Manaphy, Ditto and Ultra Ball were all released in Brilliant Stars or later, and they make the deck much more viable than it was a few months ago.

Here’s my take on the deck:

PTCGO Code

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 24
* 4 Bunnelby DAA 150
* 3 Ditto PGO 53
* 1 Oranguru SSH 148
* 2 Crobat V DAA 104
* 4 Dedenne DAA 78
* 4 Polteageist DAA 83
* 1 Lumineon V BRS 156
* 1 Manaphy BRS 41
* 4 Galarian Mr. Rime DAA 36

##Trainer Cards - 30
* 1 Pal Pad SSH 172
* 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
* 2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 3 PokéStop PGO 68
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 1 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 1 Level Ball BST 129
* 1 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 4 Ultra Ball BRS 150
* 1 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 4 Professor's Research SHF 60
* 1 Roseanne's Backup BRS 148
* 1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
* 1 Collapsed Stadium BRS 137
* 4 Trekking Shoes ASR 156

##Energy - 6
* 4 Twin Energy RCL 174
* 2 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ****** 

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With these new cards, Mad Party can be played differently from before, closer to how it works in Expanded (where it has been pretty viable since its release). Sinistea isn’t even needed anymore! With Ditto, there are enough attackers in the deck that we don’t need to use Polteageist to attack, and with new ways to discard cards, Polteageist’s Ability is not necessary either.

As with the Dialga list above, this list plays a few recovery cards for when important cards are discarded (due to PokéStop or Professor’s Research). In addition to Ordinary Rod and Pal Pad, Roseanne’s Backup lets us recover Energy cards, as well as Choice Belt, Ditto and PokéStop itself if needed.

In addition to PokéStop, I chose to include Collapsed Stadium, which adds a tiny bit of disruption to the deck, and more importantly lets us discard Crobat V or Lumineon V to deny the opponent an easy two-Prize KO. In addition to these classic support Pokémon, we also play Oranguru, which can save an important card from being discarded to Professor’s Research, and adds a little bit of help against Roxanne and Marnie.

This list has some obvious flaws: Flying Pikachu VMAX is an autoloss, and so is Duraludon VMAX. There are ways to help against these matchups: including a couple of Sinistea would allow us to use Polteageist as an attacker, so we can hit Flying Pikachu VMAX; and Path to the Peak (recoverable with Roseanne’s Backup) allows our attackers to hit Duraludon VMAX.

That said, I’m not sure the deck is better if we find space for these techs. Mad Party is a bit of a gamble to begin with, and it seems better overall to me to accept some bad matchups than to cut consistency cards in the hopes of improving a difficult matchup.

 

Header - Expanded

Finally, I want to talk a little about PokéStop’s applications to the Expanded format. There’s some history there: I think that one of the reasons why I was so enthusiastic about PokéStop to begin with is that when I read it, I immediately considered its potential in Expanded. PokéStop is an amazing Stadium in Expanded, because its downsides are strongly mitigated due to the higher amount of powerful Item cards. For example, most Expanded decks play three or four copies of VS Seeker. That means that if you discard a Supporter with PokéStop, not only it’s not an issue (the card is not lost), but it’s even a good thing because you can now play it as long as you draw into a VS Seeker. To a lesser extent, discarding Pokémon is also fine because of Rescue Stretcher, although it’s only a one-of.

The more pressing issue regarding PokéStop in Expanded is that it has a lot more competition. Aggressive decks can play all sort of Stadiums, such as Parallel City to discard their own Crobat V and Dedenne-GX (like Collapsed Stadium, but better), Sky Field to have more space or even Chaotic Swell to deny other decks their own Stadiums. PokéStop is not bad, but it “only” draws cards, and doesn’t provide any additional effect to the deck, so it can only work in decks that don’t need their Stadiums to do more important things. Meloetta Turbo, for example, typically plays around 35 Item cards, but it can’t play PokéStop, because it relies on Dimension Valley.

That said, that still leaves room for PokéStop in the format. For example, here’s Volcarona:

PTCGO Code

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 10
* 1 Crobat V DAA 104
* 3 Volcarona V EVS 21
* 2 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Mew FCO 29
* 1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
* 2 Volcanion-EX STS 26

##Trainer Cards - 32
* 1 Heat Factory {*} LOT 178
* 1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 4 Fiery Flint DRM 60
* 2 PokéStop PGO 68
* 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 2 Float Stone PLF 99
* 3 Professor's Research SHF 60
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 3 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 1 Canceling Cologne ASR 136

##Energy - 18
* 18 Fire Energy SWSHEnergy 2

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ****** 

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If you’ve followed my Expanded Power Rankings videos for a while, you know that I was never the biggest fan of Volcarona. It’s very linear, focusing only on dealing big damage, and I think there are aggressive decks with almost the same consistency that have more options at their disposal, such as ADP Dragonite (which tends to win Prize races thanks to Altered Creation GX). That said, Volcarona can have some absolutely insane early turns, and this new list focuses on that. With no Zebstrika, replaced by Radiant Greninja and Scoop Up Net (which also works on Volcanion-EX, by the way), this deck is entirely focused on dealing high amounts of damage very quickly, and PokéStop helps. Even if it only discards three Energy, that’s still +60 damage, and if you can draw into a Battle Compressor or Fiery Flint, for example, you can do even more.

PokéStop is also reminiscent of Clay, a Supporter that has seen play in a few specific Expanded decks. One of these decks is Durant, but there’s also a very interesting Excadrill Control deck that has existed for a while, although I don’t think the deck has seen play for a year. It uses Clay to draw into the deck very quickly, then achieves a loop where Excadrill UNM can’t be OHKO’d due to Focus Sash, then gets healed with Max Potion or Last Chance Potion. Then the cards can be recovered with Rototiller, and drawn again the next turn.

Nevertheless, a few days ago, a new version of this deck by Swedish player Ljovynn made Top 4 at a 90-player online Expanded event. And guess what, the deck plays PokéStop! That’s not very surprising: PokéStop is useful to set up, but in the late game, it will generally draw three cards that were recovered by Excadrill. In fact, PokéStop works so well that the list plays Stadium Nav, so that it can more easily recover PokéStop in the late game, after it’s discarded by the opponent and shuffled back in the deck by Rototiller.

Since I’m not familiar enough with the deck to feel confident making changes, here’s Ljovynn’s unaltered deck list:

PTCGO Code

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 12
* 1 Skwovet CRE 127
* 1 Greedent CRE 128
* 1 Cubone BST 69
* 3 Drilbur CEC 114
* 2 Excadrill UNM 119
* 1 Excadrill CEC 115
* 1 Marowak FCO 37
* 1 Girafarig LOT 94
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81

##Trainer Cards - 45
* 3 Clay CEC 188
* 1 Professor Juniper DEX 98
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 104
* 1 Peonia CRE 149
* 1 Marnie SSH 169
* 1 Faba LOT 208
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Bellelba & Brycen-Man CEC 186
* 4 Trainers' Mail ROS 92
* 4 Level Ball BST 129
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 3 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 3 Stadium Nav UNM 208
* 2 Energy Retrieval SSH 160
* 2 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 1 Last Chance Potion CES 135
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Switch EVO 88
* 1 Adventure Bag LOT 167
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 1 Max Potion GRI 128
* 4 Focus Sash FFI 91
* 2 PokéStop PGO 68

##Energy - 3
* 3 Fighting Energy Energy 6

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ****** 

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You can see how the deck focuses on Clay and PokéStop to draw plenty of cards and end up in a state where there are only a few cards left in the deck each turn, making it hard to disrupt. Discussing every single choice in this list would be way outside the scope of this article, and some techs are specific to Expanded (for example, Marowak is strong against Vikavolt V, but also Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX), but one interesting inclusion is Marshadow UNB to counter Chaotic Swell in order to keep PokéStop in play. This deck really relies on the idea that in the end game, it can draw every card it needs thanks to its Stadium card.

 

Header - Conclusion

If you skipped the Expanded part of the article, thanks for coming back for the end! I really think you should take a look at the Excadrill deck above, though. Not because I’m trying to convince you to play Expanded, but because it offers a unique take on what PokéStop can do. Instead of being used to power a fast deck looking to take big KOs before it runs out of resources, it can instead be used to draw your deck in order to achieve a state where you can’t lose anymore and your deck is too thin to be disrupted. And that’s something that may be applicable to Standard, too! When I think about that idea, I think about including PokéStop in Mewtwo V-Union Stall (which, remember, also wants to discard important cards, and also plays Items such as Trekking Shoes) in order to make the deck faster. After all, it will eventually recover all its cards thanks to Cyllene, Pal Pad and Team Yell’s Cheer, so there’s nothing that’s terrible to discard!

I don’t have a deck list because I’m honestly not much of a Stall player, and I had this idea too recently to have time to try it out anyway, but I think it’s likely an improvement over Sander Wojcik’s original deck list.

And if you don’t like playing Stall either, then good news, you can play Turbo Dialga to beat it. No matter where you stand, PokéStop is a good card, after all!

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