– Sun & Moon
December 20, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Decidueye GX (Sun & Moon, 12/149) changed the game last February. It wasn’t the only card, but when it came out, it signaled that a new era in the Pokemon TCG was about to begin. Ready or not, here come the GX’s.
But it didn’t instantly start out that way. Anaheim was the first tournament in which Sun & Moon cards were Standard legal, and only one GX placed in the top eight (Tauros GX), and that was just a one of tech in to try to take advantage of the cute Ninja Boy play that was common when Tauros GX first debuted. But if you look up and down the top thirty two, there are only a handful of GX cards. Most of the decks played in Anaheim were simply the same decks people had been playing for the last several months.
And that continued at the next major tournament two weeks later in Sheffield, England. There’s hardly a GX deck to be found… except for the Deciplume deck that won it. I remember watching that whole tournament that weekend, it was a rare weekend when I didn’t have much going on, and I just hunkered down and immersed myself in Pokemon. And I knew that Deciplume deck would do well. I knew it would stand above the other, obsolete EX decks that were oblivious to the fact that they were soon to be part of a bygone era. My best decks in February were all GX decks (Lurantis Lock, Decidueye Tauros, and Lurantis Decidueye). And there were tons of videos on Youtube extolling the greatness of the new GX Pokemon. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody, and yet virtually all of the meta at Sheffield was NOT GX Pokemon.
This is another instance where the meta is what the meta is, but the meta isn’t always right. The meta always defines itself – just like when I mentioned yesterday about how everyone was playing Drampa Garbodor when it first came out – the meta determines what the meta is… but that doesn’t always mean that it’s made up of the best decks in the format.
Exactly a year ago at this time, I played A LOT of matches with that cookie cutter Yveltal EX deck that everyone played, that only had seven draw supporters and played Elixirs even though it only had nine Dark energy. And I struggled with it mightily. I won barely half the matches I played with it. I got so frustrated with it that I almost quit playing. How could these guys dominate with this deck? I was missing more than half my Elixirs and could never get a draw supporter when I needed it.
I knew I had to do something different. I threw in some Random Receivers, a lot more Dark energy (you’ve gotta play twelve if you’re running Elixirs), and all of a sudden I was winning a lot more matches. And this was not over ten or twenty games – I went from being 50% after sixty matches to 63% in the next sixty matches I played.
I’m not saying I created the best deck in format and that my version was superior to all of those other decks – I’m just saying, the meta isn’t written in stone guaranteed to give you the BDIF. Goncalo Ferreira saw that in Deciplume (and I know he wasn’t the only one), but he took a chance and took advantage of a meta that was playing inferior cards.
And the meta figured it out too. At the Oceania Intercontinental Championship the next weekend, you’ll find Decidueye everywhere up and down the top 32. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the meta this year is that it is fast to move once it decides to get going. It just takes a strong impetus to get it into motion.
Standard: 4 out of 5
Even today, Decidueye is still a top tier Pokemon. Although I’ve yet to see a top 32 from Memphis, I know that there were some Decidueye Zoroark decks in there. I just started playing Decidueye Zoroark myself, and I love it. And for those of you who really love the big green owl, there’s even more promise for a Decidueye resurgence with Leafeon GX, which comes out in Ultra Prism in only about 52 days (BTW save your Poke coins on PTCGO NOW for Ultra Prism, that set is STACKED, it’s going to be SO much better than Crimson Invasion). Leafeon GX gives you the tremendous possibility of having multiple Decidueye GX completely evolved by your second turn! It’s like FoGP all over again! Unfortunately, though, this means my Greninja is definitely finished at this point.
Decidueye-GX is our eighth-place finisher, showing up on all four lists, but with only 28 voting points as one was in the 10+ section and none were overly high. So the question is… why? Some of the cards higher up on our list didn’t manage to make all four lists, placing higher because the people who did include them all ranked them well. I can’t tell you why the others ranked Decidueye-GX as they did, but I made it my personal 7th place pick because of what it can do and how long it has been doing it. First released in Sun & Moon, if anything released in 2017 had more time to affect competitive play this year, it would have to have been a promo. Releasing early can backfire, as some of what was great then faltered and has faded from memory, but Decidueye-GX quickly rose to become part of the strongest deck in the Standard Format and has recently seen a resurgence with a different partner.
When we first looked at Decidueye-GX, it was our second place pick for Sun & Moon. I was giving it both fear and praise because of what it could accomplish when aided by Item-lock. The catch? I was worried about the wrong deck; I was concerned about it backing up Seismitoad-EX in Expanded, never considering that players would use Decidueye-GX alongside Vileplume (XY: Ancient Origins 3/98). Though I played back in the days when a deck might contain two or even three separate Stage 2 lines thanks to Broken Time-Space or earlier versions of Rare Candy, I somehow failed to accept that Forest of Giant Plants could do the trick… even though it just Broken Time-Space restricted to [G] Types. There were matchups which Decidueye-GX found unfavorable, but if you weren’t running one of those, you’d face a barrage from its “Feather Arrow” Ability, possibly followed up by its “Razor Leaf” attack. Razor Leaf should have been mediocre but backed by Feather Arrow, the solid “Hollow Hunt-GX” attack, T1/T2 Item-lock, and some additional disruption, it was more than adequate. Decidueye-GX possessing 240 HP didn’t hurt it, either, though the Fire Weakness certainly did.
That was then, and eventually, both Forest of Giant Plants and Vileplume rotated from Standard Format play, with the former being banned from Expanded; both Decidueye-GX and the latter were still legal in Expanded play, but without the speed, it turns out the two weren’t anywhere near as formidable. Even before rotation, new releases finally shook up the metagame and had dethroned our bird and flower combo. Decidueye-GX faded from the limelight… until recently when it resurfaced backing Zoroark-GX! Apparently, a Stage 1 and a Stage 2 were still fast enough, partially due to Zoroark-GX possessing a solid draw Ability. Zoroark-GX also has a nifty attack for [CC], doing 20 damage for each of your Pokémon in play. You want a large Bench, then, to optimize your damage output, but Standard no longer has Sky Field, and we are talking about a Standard Format deck. Feather Arrow to the rescue; each Decidueye-GX is essentially +40 damage instead of +20.
Actually better than even that; if you don’t need to hit the opponent’s Active that hard, Feather Arrow can harass something on your opponent’s Bench instead, or if you really don’t need much to finish off the opponent’s Active, Feather Arrow(s) can take it out so that Zoroark-GX can start swinging at the next target. You also benefit from the attack/Ability divide, bypassing many (though not all) protective effects.
Decidueye-GX makes it on the top 10 cards of 2017 securing 8th place. This card was released in the Sun and Moon expansion, where the first waves of GX Pokemon were on the competitive scene. This card was the 2nd best card on Sun and Moon with 19 voting points, tied with first place Tauros-GX. So how was good back then and is it still good now?
Well, it has the HP to do its job as a GX Pokemon with 240. The ability, Feather Arrow, puts 2 damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokemon. Razor Leaf was a plain 90 for GCC, which is still a good number to reach for. And Hollow Hunt GX costs G and fetches three cards from the discard to your hand. These features gave decks several ideas to construct with, whether it be using just 4 Decidueyes or using it along with other beatsticks.
Then, there’s other attributes that really matter back then: being a Grass type. Forest of Giant Plants enables grass Pokemon to evolve on the turn it was played or evolved, even if it’s your first turn. You could potentially have Decidueye-GX on turn 1, using at least one Feather Arrow or more, and maybe using a early Hollow Hunt GX attack if you went second, to keep the aggression going. The prevalence of “Safeguard” users such as Alolan Ninetales and Hoopa made me consider the non-GX version of Decidueye. This card does enough damage to OHKO these safeguard users (Brave Bird for 120 damage will take care of both of them). That card is easily accessible from the Forest Shadow theme deck, though I doubt they still have those as of this writing.
So how is Decidueye-GX doing now? Well Forest of Giant Plants was banned in Expanded since September 1, 2017, severely toning down the speed of evolution, but I wouldn’t really count Decidueye out yet. The ability is too good to go unused. Another deck I saw was Zoroark-GX/Decidueye-GX. This deck’s purpose is to make Decidueye GX sit on the bench while Zoroark GX does the beating for a DCE. With a full bench plus the Active (6 Pokemon), 4 uses of Feather Arrow Abilities, Choice Band, Reverse Valley, and Professor Kukui, you would deal a total of 260 damage, some which could be assigned to somewhere else. The difference of deck construction is that instead of 4-4-4 and 4 Forest, it would probably be 4-2-4 and 4 Rare Candy. So with that deck being showcased, Decidueye-GX would likely stick around in the meta. Fire weakness will, once again, be a problem due to Metal decks on the rise in future sets (looking at you Ultra Prism). Just hope you don’t face a fire deck, or that your friend next to you has a water deck to counter them, so that less players with fire decks will appear.
In Limited, Decidueye can perform well there, doing the same job it would do in Standard and Expanded, except you’re pushing your luck on getting 4-2-4 line plus some rare candies from 4 packs. However, even with one Decidueye-GX, one Feather Arrow plus Razor Leaf will put a dent on your opponent’s active with 110 damage, and in turn, it could survive a Sunsteel Strike at full health unless backed with Kukui (Solgaleo was so close of OHKOing it).
Notes: I find it fortunate that I can find other methods to get Decidueye in play even without Forest of Giant Plants. The ability is very useful, leading up to KOs that your main attack would otherwise falls short of.
February 20, 2019 re-review:
We are looking at Decidueye-GX (Sun & Moon 12/149, SM Black Star Promos 37, SM Guardians Rising 146/145) again as we are about to lose this card due to annual rotations, most likely around September of this year. Since it would inevitably happen to cards, it is best to use them as much as you can. As for now, I am just imitating a review where the review crew would look at it if it was part of the Top X cards lost to rotation.
Decidueye-GX has an interesting history, in terms of playability. When it first came out, it was in a format where the rotation was XY Primal Clash-on. Being a Stage 2 would be slow, but being a Grass Type means Forest of Giant Plants will enable Grass Pokemon to evolve on the first turn, or the turn it was played. Paired with Vileplume from XY Ancient Origins and it’s Irritating Pollen Ability, and you had a archetype with the name “Deciplume” where the deck locks both players from using items AND places extra damage to slowly whittle down your opponent’s Pokemon. While the next couple tournaments in early 2017 didn’t capitalize on GX Pokemon (Decidueye-GX and Tauros-GX were seldom seen), later on it was seen on almost every deck placed on Top 32s.
Unfortunately, that was the peak of Decidueye-GX’s massive playability until rotation occurred. Being XY BreakThrough-on, Deciplume decks have collapsed: Vileplume and Forest of Giant Plants were rotated. The former being in Expanded and the latter being banned from Expanded. New decks begin to emerge with every expansion being released, and Decidueye just can’t keep up with a somewhat hostile format, with ability denial, anti-GX cards, 240 HP, and Fire weakness being possible factors that can hinder it. It’s playability plummeted significantly, but not enough to make it uncompetitive. The ability to place extra damage is very useful and can be fit into a variety of decks.
Nonetheless, Decidueye-GX had changed from being the focus of a deck to guest appearances in other decks. It was paired with Zoroark-GX for facilitating draw power and feed damage to Riotous Beating. Leafeon/Decidueye was briefly seen as it’s Grand Bloom let’s you evolve each of your Basic Pokémon to its Stage 1 counterpart, which will then evolve it into a Stage 2 in your next turn. Alolan Ninetales-GX also has Decidueye-GX as it can fetch for Rare Candies and get them into play. All in all, an ability without drawbacks is hard to ignore, and players will do anything to accommodate getting it in play. While Forest of Giant Plants is no longer an option for Expanded, Meganium’s Early Ripening Herb lets you put a Stage 2 on the Basic Pokémon even if it’s on the turn that you’ve played, acting like pre-errata Rare Candy. All you need is the Rowlet and Decidueye-GX in your hand and Meganium already in play.
I realized that I was talking mostly about the Feather Arrow Ability, but that’s not to say that the rest of the card didn’t matter. Hollow Hunt GX is one of the useful GX attacks to have, since for the price of a single Grass energy, you grab any 3 cards from the discard pile onto your hand, so you could, in theory, use them again. Razor Leaf is perhaps the most boring attack out there, but is reliable, doing 90 damage for GCC. This is still a good number to reach for regarding 2HKOs. If you factor in couple uses of Feather Arrow and attach a Choice Band, then Razor Leaf’s damage output has improved. Assuming Razor Leaf backed with a Choice Band and 4 Feather Arrows, you deal a total to 200 up front, or 120 up front and 80 on the others, distributed however you like. Again, Decidueye-GX used to be the main focus of a deck, but now you don’t see Decidueye-GX attacking too often unless it’s backed with Super Boost Energy.
In the end, Decidueye-GX will continue to see play regardless of what’s trending on the current meta. It’s one of the few cards that is already good on its own because of what this card does. In Limited, it may be hard to get the evolutionary line in four packs and to get them into play, but if you do, then Decidueye can handle almost anything except for other GXs in the Sun & Moon Base Set. It is useless in SM Guardians Rising because there is no Rowlet or Dartrix in that set. And you can’t use the Promo either!
Conclusion: The Pojo review crew looked at it twice: the 2nd best card of the set and the 8th best card of 2017. The first was based on when Forest of Giant Plants were legal, while the second review was pretty accurate without those cards taking into account. Decidueye-GX is a very good card and fun to use. Ultimately, though, it can be as useful as you make it to be, or otherwise you would have skipped it completely.
Decidueye-GX; bittersweet or golden memories? It has seen them all, and it has rebounded from them all. And its not even because of its offensive prowess; Razor Leaf, its main attack, only deals 90 damage. No, its the complete package that made Decidueye-GX such a powerful driving force in the meta.
The biggest block of text in the card should have shown you the main reason it’s a powerful card. Feather Arrow allows you to drop 20 damage to 1 opposing Pokémon… per Decidueye-GX in play. And the other thing about it is the symbol in its top right. Its a green circle with a leaf inside. Yep, being a Grass type, there’s another thing that made it a powerhouse; Forest of Giant Plants that allows it to evolve from a Rowlet to a Decidueye-GX in a single turn. So the idea for the ideal Decidueye bench play is simple; get the Forest stadium as fast as you can (maybe via Trainer’s Mail), get as many Decidueye-GXs as you can in the first turn, drop as many damage counters as you can and clean from there. Then when you are about to lose to a possible counterplay, use Hollow Hunt GX to retrieve 3 cards from your discard pile, scaring your opponent from executing such a counterplay.
There has been many variations of Decidueye decks, but the most consistent one that keeps a strong showing in tournaments has been the Decidueye lock decks. Such decks always include Vileplume (XY AOR) as the idea is that the big owl only needs items in the first turn of the game and it can function well without spams of it in the late game. In return, Vileplume allows your opponent to not setup and thus, you win by chip damage, as not many decks can beat you anyway between item lock and chip damage. This creates the infamous DeciPlume deck first introduced by John Kettler, winning many tournaments and shocking the meta overall. Decidueye-GX also works well with decks that play Rainbow Energy should they can find the room for about 18-20 cards back then; such examples include Zygarde-EX/Vileplume, Jolteon-EX/Glaceon-EX (thanks to Razor Leaf costing a Grass and a DCE) and even rogues like Mega Alakazam-EX/devolution.
However, starting from May, Garbodor comes around; and with the deck really reliant on stuff like Trainer’s Mail, Float Stone and VS Seeker, even its high 240 HP doesn’t help it either against the might of a Choice Band-boosted Trashalance. But that doesn’t stop Decidueye-GX from being at least a Tier 2 deck; still prowling but still viable, even after the rotation and ban of Forest of Giant Plants. Players, although a bit late, discovered that they can just play Rare Candy instead, and with the downfall of Garbodor thanks to Zoroark-GX in recent months, the owl simply asked the services of the sly fox to help bring it back to relevance, with the highest achievement as its new Zoroark/Decidueye archetype being 4th in the recent Memphis Regionals.
Overall, if any card has been on both extremes of the meta spectrum, its Decidueye and I think Decidueye-GX is back to full force next year.
Decidueye-GX started out having the disadvantage of being a Stage 2 removed by its typing thanks to Forest of Giant Plants, and this served it well with its Feather Arrow Ability that could dish 20 damage out every turn. Combined with multiple lines, this could bring numbers easily to Grass decks, and it really cemented Decidueye-GX as one of the best early GX up until the rotation of Forest of Giant Plants, and since then its popularity has dropped significantly. He’s still a powerful card to have, but he’s much slower, which lines him up with the other GX of this era.
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