Did you know that I like single-Prize decks, especially Stage 2 decks? Probably, since I mention it every other article. What can I say, I’ve had a long and happy relationship with Empoleon DEX. That was a time when Stage 2 attackers could still compete with multi-Prize Pokemon (Pokemon-EX, at the time). Playing a deck that was slower to set up than most of the competition, but able to do a lot more once in play, was extremely fun and no Stage 2 deck has really felt the same since then (Solgaleo-GX / Alolan Ninetales-GX came close).
Obstagoon, the card that is the focus of this article, is certainly nothing like that. But it is a Stage 2 attacking Pokemon and that’s something you don’t see a lot these days (not counting cards like Decidueye that have value for their walling potential more than their attacks). Maybe I’m settling, but I’m happy that this kind of deck still exists. And if you’re anything like me, good news! It’s actually a pretty good deck.
Why would you play a Stage 2 Pokemon in the era of 310 HP VMAXs that can one-shot it? There are multiple reasons, but the main one is that this deck has a positive Mew VMAX matchup! Mew VMAX is generally considered the BDIF and it’s an extremely scary deck for most of the metagame. However, Obstagoon trades favorably against it. This is thanks to Obstagoon’s Darkness-type, allowing it to hit Mew VMAX for Weakness. If there’s already one damage counter on Mew VMAX (for example via Galarian Zigzagoon’s Ability), then Obstagoon will simply OHKO it! And that only requires a single-Prize Pokemon and one Energy. If there’s a good reason to play a Stage 2 Pokemon today, I think this must be it.
If Obstagoon was only good against Mew VMAX, it would be a very specific meta call. However, it can trade well against other Pokemon too. First, Darkness is a good Weakness to hit in the current met since, in addition to the all-powerful Mew VMAX, Dragapult VMAX and Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX are still around. Even against other VMAX Pokemon, Obstagoon trades well. In two attacks, it will deal 300 damage with Merciless Strike, so if there’s some residual damage from Zigzagoon and Inteleon (there must be at least one damage counter for Merciless Strike to deal 150 damage anyway), it will 2HKO the opponent. This allows it to take good trades and get the lead against other decks even if it sets up a bit more slowly.
Of course, it has weaknesses too. Like all the single-Prize decks, it struggles against VMAX Pokemon that can spread damage to multiple targets: Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, Jolteon VMAX and the new Inteleon VMAX. These Pokemon (especially the latter two) can also be paired with Cheryl, which is very bad for a deck that relies on many small attacks.
Despite that, Obstagoon is a strong deck, which has already won multiple online events. So, if you’re ready to accept some unfavorable matchups in order to beat Mew VMAX and you would like to learn more about the deck, I’ll explain how to build it and showcase some general tips! Also, if you want to see the deck in action, I recently played it in a gameplay video.
As I alluded to, Obstagoon pairs very well with the Inteleon line. Quick Shooting not only lets you use Merciless Strike to its full potential, but also fixes the math in order to be able to 2HKO VMAX Pokemon. Drizzile’s Shady Dealings is, like in so many other decks, a fantastic Ability to access key Trainer cards. In a Stage 2 deck like this one, it can search for the all-important Rare Candy.
Fitting two full Stage 2 lines in a deck is not an easy task and has never been, even in the eras when playing multiple lines of Evolution Pokemon was common. Stage 2 Pokemon require more space than other types of Pokemon: for an attacking Pokemon, you want at least a four-one-four line (possibly four-two-four) and four Rare Candy, for a total of 13 slots in your deck, not counting the recovery cards (Rescue Carrier and Ordinary Rod), which are necessary to not run out of resources before the end of the game.
The bright spot is that Obstagoon can save some slots thanks to the power of role compression. The Inteleon line takes space, yes, but it functions as consistency in addition to the Stage 2 having a strong Ability. Pokemon whose attacks require damage counters on the opponent’s Pokemon, like Jolteon VMAX and Vaporeon VMAX, need Galarian Zigzagoon for the early game, before Inteleon can come into play, but in this deck, it’s already here as the Basic form of Obstagoon anyway, so you don’t need to take more space for it.
In addition, Obstagoon only attacks for one Energy, so you don’t need to use a lot of space in your deck for Energy cards (or Energy acceleration). This means that, after adding the Pokemon and required cards (such as Rare Candy), you can focus on consistency.
Here’s a decklist I recommend: