Gardevoir ex has been one of my favourite cards to come out of the Scarlet & Violet format. With its extreme flexibility in game plan, its maneuverability through tough situations, and balanced card design, I think Gardevoir ex is one of the top contenders going into Paradox Rift format. This deck does have a few tougher matchups ahead of it, but its new tools it has at its disposal is nothing to disregard.
Gardevoir ex has achieved a huge boost in its arsenal with one card: Counter Catcher. Counter Catcher was one of my personal favourite pet cards from aeons ago. I can assume full credibility in popularizing it when I played it as a one-of tech in Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX to the Memphis regional championships in the 2017-2018 season, so naturally, I am absolutely loving this reprint. The amount of options this one card opens up cannot be understated. I will be going more in-detail with utilization in the matchup breakdowns below.
My current list is trying to tow the line between disruption and also making sure the early game is as consistent as possible. I’ve seen people playing with Klefki, Jirachi, etc., and, while I think those are fun choices that offer lots of options, I would personally opt for more consistency than more disruption.
3 Ralts (060)
1 Ralts (067)
3 Kirlia ((068)
1 Kirlia (060)
2 Gardevoir (061)
2 Gardevoir ex (086)
1 Radiant Greninja (046)
1 Manaphy (041)
1 Mew (011)
1 Cresselia (074)
1 Scream Tail (086)
1 Boss’s Orders
1 Professor Turo’s Scenario
4 Battle VIP Pass
4 Level Ball
3 Ultra Ball
2 Fog Crystal
2 Super Rod
2 Rare Candy
2 Counter Catcher
1 Pal Pad
1 Luxurious Cape
10 Psychic Energy
2 Reversal Energy
In this list, we play the standard line for Gardevoir, and we play the standard Pokémon techs in Mew, Greninja, Manaphy, Cresselia, and Scream Tail. We still play the 1 of Memory Skip Ralts as this one card can out-maneuver many plans for your opponent’s strategy, especially versus static attackers such as Charizard ex (125). The benefit of this one Pokémon, I think, outweighs the risks of getting donked by your opponent’s Iron Valiant ex (089). Since less and less Lost Box is being played at the time of writing, the 60 HP Ralts simply has more utility and viability at swinging board states. We also still play the one Mirage Step Kirlia, as this one card can generate an inherent swath of value from one attack, being able to leave Ralts to be Rare Candied into Gardevoirs and leaving your other Kirlia to be a draw engine for an extended period of time. Mew is also good as a good Pokémon to leave in the active to be knocked out and to put us behind on prizes. Mew mainly ensures an increased boost in consistency being able to find Battle VIP Pass or other essential pieces such as Rare Candy, Level Ball, etc. to keep our game plan going.
With the addition of Paradox Rift, we got a few new cards to have many more options. The first ones I want to talk about are the duo of Scream Tail and Luxurious Cape. Before Paradox Rift, it was almost never an instinct to bench a Manaphy versus Gardevoir ex decks. It never made any sense. With Scream Tail, forcing your opponent to either play Manaphy and have a worst setup overall, or not play Manaphy and be at a massive disadvantage is nothing to discount. With just Scream Tail, it can pump out an impressive 160 damage to any of your opponent’s Pokémon. This is especially an important number to keep in mind as people have started playing Squawkabilly ex (169) more and more and these can now be cleaned up much easier for a win. Luxurious Cape plays an important role in this deck for Scream Tail, as with it, its HP gets increased to 190, allowed you to attach up to 9 energies using Gardevoir ex’s Psychic Embrace. This pushes Scream Tail’s damage ceiling to a whopping 360 damage! This is enough to clean up any Pokémon ex, VMAX, or VSTAR off the bench! At the price of giving up an additional Prize card for being knocked out, it is well worth the addition in the deck. Keep in mind that Luxurious Cape not only works on Scream Tail, but it also works on the regular Gardevoir, giving it 240 HP and increasing its raw damage ceiling with Psychic Embrace to the maximum 360, without using Reversal Energies. This gives Gardevoir ex decks the ability to be extremely flexible in how they deal with any situation. While playtesting in preparation for this article, I found you can actually sometimes cheese Iron Valiant ex players if you have the Luxurious Cape in your opening hand. You can just attach it to a vulnerable Mew stuck in the active and prevent it being knocked out turn 1 from your opponent’s Tachyon Bits abilities, slowing down the game just enough for you to attempt to pull ahead.
Professor Turo’s Scenario has also been invaluable in this list and through my playtesting. Turo’s Scenario allows you to make flexible plays such as going all in on one big attacker and not being punished for it. Typically, before this card, you would have to hold back some energy in the discard or in hand, otherwise your opponent could Boss one of your benched Pokémon and stall it Active. Now, you can simply use Turo’s Scenario to either pick up the active Pokémon that is stuck, or pick up the Pokémon that has all the energy to discard them, allowing you to utilize Psychic Embrace once again, with no drawback. Playing Turo’s Scenario also justifies no Collapsed Stadium in this list. Through my testing, I’ve found Collapsed Stadium is still very good, however, I have enjoyed the increased consistency double Artazon has given me. Playing Turo’s Scenario ensures you don’t necessarily need Collapsed Stadium anymore, however, you can easily swap the count of Artazons to be lower if you would prefer to play some amount of Collapsed Stadium—that’s the best part about Gardevoir is that you can change it up however it best suits your playing style.
The last, and certainly not least, card I wanted to touch on in this list is probably the most important one: Counter Catcher. Counter Catcher is absolutely invaluable, and I truly believe that if you do not play at least 2 copies in your list, your list is strictly weaker than other Gardevoir lists. Counter Catcher plus a hand-resetting Supporter has been a staple of any comeback mechanic since it first debuted in Crimson Invasion. Gardevoir’s powerful ability to draw through the deck and discard unwanted cards, paired with the ability to one-shot anything in the format is only reinforced with Counter Catcher being able to maneuver Pokémon on your opponent’s Bench at will, rather than having to use Boss’s Orders, allowing you to take advantage of their board however you need. Being able to even Counter Catcher your opponent’s Baxcalibur, play Iono, then knock out that Baxcalibur can absolutely cripple your opponent’s setup and allow you to run away with the game. This goes for most anything where you can Catcher up any of their draw engine pieces, reset their hand, and completely dismantle what semblance of setup they have established. This card has thrust Gardevoir into the tier 1 list of decks going into Paradox Rift format, and I have been thoroughly enjoying it to no end!
Things to look out for while playing Gardevoir ex:
- Iron Hands ex is one of the most hyped cards from Paradox Rift. Its ability to turn any one-prize Pokémon into a two-prize Pokémon is currently unparalleled. It can also come out of no where. It is currently being played in variants of Lost Box, Miraidon ex, Chien-Pao ex, and even Lugia VSTAR decks! Be aware that these decks can sometimes swoop in a nasty Iron Hands ex just at the right time for 2 prizes.
- Not evolving and maintaining a consistent draw engine can be a game breaker for Gardevoir ex players. Sometimes, they can break your board state if you have not maintained enough Kirlia on the field and they reset your hand. Getting Iono’d to 2 cards and having your main attacker KO’d whilst also not having any draw support on the field can cripple any Gardevoir player. This is where your skills shine and your deckbuilding comes through. Have you been able to recover Pokémon that have gotten KO’d so that you can manage a certain amount of resources left in deck? Have you ensured your list supports being disrupted and is able to come back from a defeated board state? Ensuring you are using Refinement to discard the “right” cards is crucial throughout the game, and throwing away even one crucial piece of your strategy can spell the end for that game.
- Try to balance your prize cards to either be just behind your opponent or ahead enough that they have no chance of coming back. If your opponent is drawing dead, do you think that they can easily get back into the game? Is it worth going super aggressive to take prizes, or should you hold back and just ensure your board is set up? Sometimes, going too aggressively can negatively impact your game. Suddenly, your Counter Catchers don’t work, and more importantly, your Reversal Energies also do not work. You’ve lost a core piece of your deck’s strategy, to where you must ask yourself: is it actually worth taking this knockout? This is a question to be highly considered during the early stages of the game. Sometimes, it is warranted to be aggressive, but I would say more often than not, Gardevoir would ideally like to be behind on prizes. This allows you to play from behind and lost a little ground in the early game to have a big sweep through the late game where your opponent cannot get back into it.
All around, I believe that Gardevoir ex is one of, if not the, top contender going into the Paradox Rift format. With its incredible variability of plays, comeback potential, and disruption options, it remains strong even through adversity in the meta. Gardevoir ex will continue to have top placements, and I highly recommend giving the deck a shot if you have not yet. Thanks so much for reading!