Read on below to learn more about Pokémon TCG: Scarlet & Violet.
Gardevoir ex Pokémon TCG Deck Strategy
The Embrace Pokémon immediately makes its way into the upper echelon of decks after the release of Scarlet & Violet.
So, which Pokémon would benefit the most from having access to essentially unlimited Psychic Energy? Gardevoir ex’s own attack is useful enough to Knock Out smaller Pokémon, but it needs some help when it comes to facing other high-HP Pokémon. The two most obvious choices are Zacian V and Gardevoir. They have attacks that do the same amount of damage (60 damage plus 30 more for each Psychic Energy attached to them), and both fill important roles in the deck. Zacian V has 220 HP and can receive up to 10 Energy attachments from the discard pile—enough to Knock Out any Pokémon in the Standard format—and the single-Prize Gardevoir sets up some efficient Prize trades.
The following deck was used by Tord Reklev to reach second place at EUIC, and I finished in the top 32 of the tournament with the same list.
4Professor’s Research (Professor Sada)
1Boss’s Orders (Cyrus)
1Temple of Sinnoh
4Battle VIP Pass
1Sky Seal Stone
Another key piece of the deck’s strategy is Kirlia. Gardevoir ex in combination with Zacian V and Gardevoir is strong, but Kirlia with its Refinement Ability is what brings it all together and makes the deck work like a charm. Any Stage 2 deck would love to have a Stage 1 Pokémon that draws cards, but this deck also greatly benefits from the discard effect to assemble Energy cards in the discard pile.
As Kirlia is a major part of the draw engine, you always want to have as many of them in play as possible. It’s partly for this reason that there’s only a single regular Gardevoir in the deck. It’s a great attacking option to have, but when it’s Knocked Out, you lose a part of the draw engine and become more susceptible to disruption cards like Roxanne. Attacking with Zacian V is usually the better choice, so there’s two of them in the deck.
Cresselia is an additional single-Prize attacker in this deck. Its Moonglow Reverse attack synergizes perfectly with the damage placed by Psychic Embrace and can Knock Out low-HP Pokémon on the opponent’s Bench.
The rest of the Pokémon form the supporting cast. Mew helps to find important Item cards with its Mysterious Tail Ability, and its Retreat Cost is easily paid for thanks to Psychic Embrace. Radiant Greninja with its Concealed Cards Ability acts almost as a fifth Kirlia, which is good news for this deck. Lumineon V makes the deck even more consistent by giving us an additional way of finding Supporter cards. Lastly, Manaphy is needed to protect your benched Kirlia and Ralts from attacks like Radiant Greninja’s Moonlight Shuriken.
Due to the deck’s strong draw engine, it can afford to play a very diverse selection of Supporter cards and still reliably find the correct one in the right situation. Setting up a board full of Kirlia is the first step to getting into any game, though, and there’s no better card to help with that than Professor’s Research. You always want to find it on the first and second turns of the game, so the list includes a full four copies. In the later stages of the game (when it isn’t needed anymore), you can simply trade it away for other cards with Kirlia’s Refinement.
Judge and Roxanne are the deck’s hand disruption options, which are frequently needed to win games after falling behind. Miriam is our Pokémon recovery option. It is an important card to have when using Professor’s Research as the main draw Supporter, and it allows you to draw 3 cards to boot. Worker is another Supporter that draws 3 cards with the added effect of discarding a Stadium card, which comes in handy against decks that use Path to the Peak. Boss’s Orders is a Supporter card that is seen in almost every deck, but as it’s not as essential in this one—a single copy is usually fine. In most games, you can simply try to Knock Out every Active Pokémon instead of targeting the Bench!
The final Supporter card is Penny. Yes, it can pick up a damaged Zacian V or reuse Lumineon V, but the main reason it’s included is as a counter for lock strategies centered around cards like Mawile, Dreepy, or Snorlax. Since this deck doesn’t play Switch or Escape Rope, one of your supporting Pokémon could be trapped in the Active Spot and you could slowly run out of cards in the deck. Those strategies are relatively common in the current format, so it’s important to have a defense prepared.
With six one-off Supporter cards in the deck, Pal Pad becomes an obvious inclusion: it protects us from bad discards that may happen when using Professor’s Research. The rest of the Item cards are all about setting up and searching cards out of the deck. Battle VIP Pass is the best card to open the game with, and any additional copies that make an appearance later can easily be discarded. Level Ball can find Kirlia in addition to Basic Pokémon, which makes it just as valuable. Fog Crystal makes it easier to the Psychic Energy necessary to take big Knock Outs, and Ultra Ball allows us to reliably find Gardevoir ex. The deck really has a ton of great Item cards to choose from!
Rare Candy might look a bit unnecessary in a deck with four Stage 1 Pokémon, but it does make the deck more powerful and less predictable. In most games, you won’t need to attack on the second turn and can take the time to evolve manually through Kirlia, but the fact that you can find Gardevoir ex a turn early should be scary for the opponent and could completely destroy their plans. When drawing 7 cards with Professor’s Research, adding a couple of Refinements on top, and using Mew to look at 6 more cards, it’s not difficult to find one of the two Rare Candy!
Because Gardevoir ex is a Pokémon with a Rule Box, the deck needs answers for Path to the Peak, which is still a popular card. Worker is one such answer, but often we’ll need to play other Supporter cards instead. Because of this, having Stadium cards in this deck is essential.
Several Stadium cards are sensible choices for this deck. Temple of Sinnoh acts primarily as a tech card against Lugia VSTAR decks, enabling many comeback scenarios when falling behind on Prizes. Lugia VSTAR decks rely on Single Strike Energy attackers like Tyranitar V to Knock Out Gardevoir ex, so a well-timed Temple of Sinnoh in combination with Roxanne can leave an opponent unable to take Prizes for a turn. Follow that up with a K.O. on one of their Pokémon V, and that might be all that’s needed to seize a victory from the ashes!
In this deck, Collapsed Stadium has the potential to decide games. While it’s most commonly used to remove Lumineon V from play, we’ll use it here to clear damaged Pokémon or other easy targets.
Speaking of situational but highly impactful cards, it’s time to talk about the single Pokémon Tool card in the deck, Sky Seal Stone. Zacian V can Knock Out any opposing Pokémon, but it will always give up two Prize cards if Knocked Out itself. Gardevoir usually isn’t the deck that attacks first, so it needs some ways to make up for a Prize deficit. Taking an extra Prize card is one of the most powerful effects in the game, and Sky Seal Stone lets us do just that against Pokémon VSTAR or VMAX decks! It isn’t a card that’s used in every single game, but when it does come up, it can singlehandedly turn a loss into a win.
One very important aspect of playing this deck is knowing when to put Zacian V into play. It may seem beneficial to always go for the Roar of the Sword Ability, but by doing so you give the opponent a potential two-Prize target to Knock Out.
Against decks like Lugia VSTAR or Mew VMAX, attacking for 150 damage with a Storm Slash on the second turn of the game doesn’t achieve much. Instead, you should focus on setting up with only single-Prize Pokémon in play, and then put down Gardevoir ex and Zacian V once they’re ready to take the Knock Out with a single attack!
Against Lost Zone decks, however, you want to use Zacian V as soon as possible to answer the Cramorant that is usually used for attacking on the first turn. A mirror match against other Gardevoir decks is another matchup where you want to start attacking immediately, which Zacian V greatly helps with.
Generally speaking, the deck has two different game plans that you can choose from, based on the opponent’s deck. Against Pokémon VSTAR or VMAX decks, you’ll often fall behind in Prizes while setting up to take the game in just two or three attacks (often aided by using Sky Seal Stone), while other matchups require you to be aggressive and attack as soon as possible. This deck is stronger in the first category of matchups, but its power to be fast shouldn’t be underestimated!
Another tricky part of playing the deck is deciding what to discard with Kirlia’s Refinement every turn, which once again depends on the deck you are playing against. If you’re trying to build up to a big Knock Out on something like Mew VMAX, always prioritize discarding Psychic Energy, even if you also have something like an unplayable Battle VIP Pass in hand. Against decks like Lost Zone, however, you want to attach an Energy card from your hand every turn to prevent unnecessary damage, so it makes sense to be a bit more conservative with discarding Energy.
Gardevoir Going Forward
As evident by its strong performance at EUIC, Gardevoir ex is in a great position in the current format, and I don’t expect it to lose that position anytime soon.
Multi-Prize decks like Mew VMAX, Goodra VSTAR, or Miraidon ex are not much trouble if you can set up and execute your strategy. Lugia VSTAR decks have some extra tricks that make them a bit more difficult to beat, but I’d still rate Gardevoir as favored in the matchup.
The biggest obstacles will be Lost Zone decks built around Sableye. They usually attack first and have multiple ways of threatening two-Prize Pokémon with their single-Prize Pokémon, making it rather difficult to catch up. When finding an attack for the second turn of the game, it’s not an insurmountable difference, though, and you do have some tricks to compensate. Collapsed Stadium and Penny can remove damaged Pokémon from play, Cresselia can even the Prize trade as an efficient attacker, and Roxanne can disrupt your opponent once they’ve taken three Prize cards.
This version from EUIC isn’t the only way to build a Gardevoir ex deck. If you ever feel like Sableye is getting too popular and you want a different plan against it, there are versions of the deck that are better equipped for dealing with it. The first option would be to put Mewtwo V-UNION into the deck. It synergizes very nicely with the discard-based draw engine of Professor’s Research and Kirlia, and it can make some serious comebacks happen thanks to its 310 HP and powerful attacks. Committing four spots in the deck is a high price to pay, especially when considering potential issues with one of the parts being stuck in the Prize cards. The deck took the win in the Senior Division of EUIC, so it’s definitely something to look out for!
Another option is to include a bunch of Klefki and deny the Lost Zone decks their Abilities. When combining this with Hatterene V, it’s possible to keep them locked while attacking for 80 damage every turn, which is very difficult to deal with for almost every Lost Zone variant. The obvious downside is that it makes the deck weaker in other matchups, but it can be a worthwhile trade-off depending on what decks are the most popular at a given moment.
No matter which version you choose, Gardevoir ex is an incredibly powerful deck. In my opinion, it’s one of the most fun to play as well! It has a lot of different attacking options, comeback potential, and one of most iconic draw engines in the game. And who wouldn’t want to attach 10 Energy in a single turn?
Robin Schulz is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He has been competing in Pokémon tournaments for 10 years and was the Pokémon TCG Masters Division World Champion in 2018. He spends a lot of time traveling and competing, and he rarely misses a big event. Aside from playing Pokémon, he attends university, where he is studying mathematics.
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