Garchomp & Giratina-GX
– Unified Minds
August 14, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Third-place in our countdown goes to Garchomp & Giratina-GX (SM – Unified Minds 146/236, 228/236, 247/236). By now, folks are fairly used to what TAG TEAM Pokémon like this bring to the field; a massive Basic that was at least intended to have good effects. We’re seeing a few more cards that interact with TAG TEAM Pokémon, rewording or punishing them, but nothing really worth bragging about, in part because we’ve lost a potent combo partner for all TAG TEAM Pokémon: Acerola. At least that is the case for the 2020 Standard Format; Max Potion is gone as well. Why am I stressing this? 270 HP isn’t record-setting for a TAG TEAM but it is good… but probably not as good as it would have been prior to the rotation, give or take Choice Band and Professor Kukui also cycling out.
Being a [N] Type is completely no good for exploiting Weakness in Standard, and almost as bad at it in Expanded; at least nothing is naturally Resistant in any Format. There are some anti-[N] effects, but none I recall being worth it; on the other hand, Expanded has some amazing [N] support and even Standard has a few tricks with as-yet-unproven potential. [Y] Weakness isn’t the worst, but there are a few [Y] decks floating around out there and they’ll enjoy taking three Prizes off of a OHKO. Lack of Resistance is slightly disappointing but predictable. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is too high to bother manually paying, and too low to take advantage of some recent high-Retreat Cost support.
Garchomp & Giratina-GX have three attacks; two regular and one GX. “Linear Attack” does 40 for [C] to one of your opponent’s Pokémon. “Calamitous Slash” does 160 for [PFC], plus another 80 if there is even one damage counter on your opponent’s Active. The slightly heftier cost of [PPF] pays for “GG End-GX”, which lets you discard one of your opponent’s Pokémon (plus all cards attached to it). If you have at least three [F] Energy attached beyond the printed attack cost, then GG End-GX lets you discard two opposing Pokémon (again, plus all cards attached to them). You do not take Prizes for Pokémon that are simply discarded, but it will win you the game if this leaves your opponent with nothing left in play. So… that’s what they do, are they actually any good?
Quite. While it should probably be seen only as a backup option, Linear Attack quite naturally leads into Calamitous Slash. Without Energy acceleration you’re not directly going from no Energy to a Linear attack to Calamitous Slash, but nothing says you can’t Linear attack two targets in the hopes of setting them up to be follow-up KO’d by another Garchomp & Giratina-GX. You’re better off using a spread-attacker that hits everything your opponent has or most obvious, combine this TAG TEAM with Ability (or Trainer) based Energy acceleration and Ability based damage spread. Most Energy acceleration won’t help with accessing the secondary effect of the GX-attack, however.
From what I’ve seen, folks aren’t too fussed about the GX-attack. The obvious deck handles the damage spread and Energy acceleration via established Abilities already seen in the same deck: Malamar (SM – Forbidden Light 51/131; SM – Black Star Promos SM117) are already likely to include Giratina (SM – Lost Thunder 97/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM151). Giratina’s Ability can’t touch your opponent’s Active, so either you accept you’re not pulling off the full combo there or you’ll have to try for a more involved combo. We’re still at the point where I don’t have a bunch of tournament tested results for reference, but it is quite possible you also sacrifice some opening attacker, either one that spreads damage or is just useful and sporting Spell Tag.
There may be other ways to effectively run Garchomp & Giratina-GX, but I haven’t seen them yet. Call it personal bias, but I’m open to the possibility. I’m even less aware of what the Expanded Format is going to be like after SM – Unified Minds becomes legal, but between Double Dragon Energy, Max Elixir (with basic Energy), Battle Compressor, Giratina, and Guzma, it seems like we ought to be able to do something impressive with this card. Again, though, I’m out of touch and the idea is off the top of my head, so take such a suggestion with more than just a grain of salt. Where I am fairly confident in this card is the Limited Format. Yes, it is an autoloss if your opponent has Keldeo-GX and nearly an autoloss if they’ve got mostly [Y] attackers or just set up quite quickly, but with 270 HP and attacks you should be doing quite well.
While something you’re only going to see in certain decks, while not necessarily the best of the Malamar-based archetypes, Garchomp & Giratina-GX should become the new face of its own variant. It has the HP, it has the attacks, and it has the support. It also has some steep competition and cannot easily (if at all) OHKO the largest TAG TEAM Pokémon… but those are pretty reasonable drawbacks for a competitive deck. This was enough for me to award it 4th place in my personal Top 11, so third-place sounds about right. I definitely think our top two picks beat it, though.
Good Game or Git Gud? (pun of it’s GX attack!) I feel like Garchomp & Giratina GX is saying the ladder, but I’ll get to why in a moment.
So we have another Tag Team in this countdown because it seems like these guys have some potential, and it must be their attacks worth talking about. Linear Attack is a flexible attack that costs C and does 40 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokémon. While not much, it can take out a Benched Ditto Prism Star before it gets to evolve next turn. Calamitous Slash costs PFC for 160 damage plus 80 more if your opponent’s Active Pokémon already has damage counters on it. 160 is enough to take care of most Stage 2s and smaller Pokémon-GX like Dedenne. A damaged Pokémon, even at 10 damage, means it’ll take a total of 250 damage (10 prior damage and 240 for the attack). Martial Arts Dojo seems to be the only damage boosting card for Pokémon with basic Fighting Energies attached to them, so that would be either 260 to 290 total damage against damaged Pokémon. As long as you find a way to place damage counters prior to attacking, then you can comfortably spam that attack without hiccup.
And then there’s this GX attack, GG End. It costs PPF and lets you discard one of your opponent’s Pokémon and all cards attached to it. If they have PPFFFF attached, then you discard two of your opponent’s Pokemon and all cards attached to it. I sworn that there is a method to win you the game, but that has to happen in a extremely specific scenario, and it’s less likely to happen, but it can happen nonetheless! You play Cyrus Prism Star to make your opponent’s bench count down to just two Benched Pokémon remaining, then use GG End to discard two Benched Pokémon, leaving the Active. And if the opponent’s Active Pokémon is Burned and/or Poisoned and that residual damage knocks it out between turns, you win the game! Again, this is a highly unlikely scenario if your opponent can see this coming, but the ability to potentially win the game when you achieve all this is extremely astounding. Looks like I poured my excitement of that GX attack, and it’s definitely saying the bad part of GG.
But even without working very hard to achieve a instant win condition, their repeatable attacks are also good. Standard may not have much to work with, but Expanded has Choice Band, which is more reliable to deal extra damage with, as well as Double Dragon Energy to easily meet the attack cost of Calamitous Slash and hopefully meet the ludicrous demand of that GX attack (you’ll need three of them). Decidueye-GX helps place extra damage on your opponent’s side of the field. Enhanced hammer may get rid of one Special Energy, but Special Charge recovers two of them! Dragon based support might come from Altaria’s Fight Song which boosts damage output as well as maybe Zinnia for energy acceleration (haven’t looked at her for a while).
Standard: 4/5 (They can win you the game, but only if you poured a lot of investment to achieving this.)
Expanded: 4.5/5 (I suppose Garchomp & Giratina GX will have more mileage based on the card pool.)
Limited: 4/5 (Unless you pulled another Tag Team, then why not run this?)
Two of the most powerful dragons ended up teaming up, so it should translate to something powerful, right? Well it’s not just powerful – it’s MEGA powerful!
…well, at least for Garchomp, since he can Mega-Evolve.
Garchomp & Giratina-GX is a Basic Dragon-Type Tag Team-GX, 270 HP, with a Fairy Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 3. Linear Attack’s straight-forward, it’s a 1-for-40 against any opposing Pokemon, minus Weakness/Resistance for Bench-sitters. Calamitous Slash however is bulkier and builds off of that, starting as a 3-for-160 that adds another 80 damage if the Pokemon already has damage counters on it. Finally, GG End GX costs 3 Energy and discards 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon and all the cards attached to it, or it discards 2 Pokemon if you have at least 3 Fighting Energy on top of the 2 Psychic/1 Fighting Energy required for the attack.
I’m not gonna focus too much on GG End GX, since that’s not always likely to occur, and if it does it probably means you’re in a winning position in the game. Worst case, you’re getting rid of 1 of your opponent’s more annoying Pokemon to deal with without any rebuttal – fun fact: you don’t get a Prize for discarding Pokemon, only KOing them. Calamitous Slash is probably where it’s at, and given the requirements include Psychic and Fighting Energy, I’m willing to bet there are some Pokemon that can add on some extra damage without the need to use Linear Attack first, though that does make for some nice little quick finishes.
Right off the bat from this set, Espeon & Deoxys-GX looks alright, but they have to use their GX Attack to spread out at least 10 counters (20 with extra set-up). It’s probably not worth it to go through all that trouble, especially cause we’ve got Weezing for Basics and even Azelf from this set does enough for setting up these guys. Drifblim and Lucario from this set each have Abilities that support Tag Team Pokemon in general, but they do have similar Types for Energy purposes with these two. Even Karate Belt can be useful with these guys to shave off the extra Fighting Energy, making Calamitous Slash even more dangerous!
I’m sure there’s more stuff to combo with Garchomp & Giratina-GX that I can’t think of right now, but needless to say, they’re looking pretty strong coming into the game, and I think they’re likely to be a top contender in the new format!
Standard: 4/5 (good easy attack, super strong high damage attack, solid GX move)
Expanded: 4.5/5 (it’s hard not to see why this card wouldn’t do well)
Limited: 5/5 (especially here in this format)
Arora Notealus: I’m not entirely sure it should be so high up on the list, but I can’t argue with the end results. Out of the Tag Team GX in this set, Garchomp & Giratina-GX just sell a lot of their power! Other seem to have a little bit of trouble convincing everyone about their own power level, but that’s usually what these first couple of weeks are about with a new set and a new format!
…wait what do you mean there’s gonna be another set coming out soon?
Next Time: Take good card of your Pokemon, and they’ll treat you right!
Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive. We have reviewed more than 3500 Pokemon cards over the last 17+ years!
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉