2007 probably takes the cake for being the most diverse and wide-open metagame in the history of competitive Pokemon TCG. Not only were there an obscene amount of different archetypes that were played, but also saw success at the highest level of events. Even after Diamond & Pearl Base released, many of the older archetypes were still able to keep up with the power creep that the new single-prize attackers brought, and a lot of cool new ideas saw success as well. Today, I wanted to take a look at one of these older archetypes that is near and dear to me. Flygon was the first truly “competitive” deck that I picked up and played at tournaments, and the wide array of tech options in 2007 make it one of the most interesting decks to build, and it makes for some of the coolest matches that the game has to offer.
- Tournament Placings and Notable Decklists
- Skeleton List
- Deckbuilding Considerations
- What the Tech?
- RS-PK Options
Tournament Placings and Notable Decklists
So when looking at tournament results for this year, it’s important to note something – many decks (including these ones) don’t have a huge laundry list of accomplishments like other decks might in future seasons (looking at you, LuxChomp). This is not (always) because the decks were bad, or inconsistent, or strictly metagame calls – it’s more of a testament to the fact that this metagame was ABSURDLY wide-open. Many decks only got themselves 1 or 2 high tournament finishes because almost every player came to events with something different. It was not uncommon for there to be 6 or 7 different decks in the top 8 of a large event. That being said, let’s take a look at 2 different routes this deck went to see success at high level:
|3 Flygon ex|
2 jolteon ex
1 Vaporeon ex
4 Holon’s Castform
1 Absol ex
1 Holon’s Voltorb
|2 Holon Adventurer|
2 Holon Mentor
1 Holon Researcher
1 Holon Scientist
4 Holon Transceiver
2 Professor Elm’s Training Method
4 Rare candy
1 Warp Point
1 Power Tree
1 Crystal Shard
|6 Psychic Energy|
4 Lightning Energy
Flygon/Eeveelutions was a cool deck – similar to Absolutions, you could use Jolteon ex and Absol ex to spread damage around the opponent’s field, and to move damage counters to take crucial KOs. However, Flygon ex doubled down on this spread damage, both with its poke-body and its attack. Flygon ex also gave you the benefit of having a large body to hide behind, with no weakness attached to it. This made it very difficult for aggressive decks to keep up the pressure, while simultaneously putting out a lot of damage for slower builds to deal with. In addition to the Jolteon for spread, you also gained access to all of the other Eeveelutions should you want them – Gino Lombardi saw success with Vaporeon ex and Espeon ex – with his main gameplan against Holon’s Castform decks being to devolve, shuffle their hand in, and then KO the castform on the same turn. Umbreon ex could theoretically be used as well, as any gust effect is strong, but it wasn’t as popular as the other eeveelutions were in builds like this. FlyVees won the World Championships in the Juniors division, and it also got 1st + 2nd at two different regionals in the Masters Division. The list above is the 1st place Junior Division Worlds list, but it could probably be further optimized – cards like Budew and Fieldworker are pretty easily replaceable.
1 Flygon ex
1 Sceptile ex
4 Holon’s Castform
2 Mew POP 5
1 Mew Star
1 Rayquaza ex
1 Holon’s Magnemite
|2 Holon Mentor|
2 Holon Researcher
1 Holon Scientist
1 Holon Adventurer
1 Mr. Briney’s Compassion
2 Lanette’s Net Search
2 Giant Stump
1 Strength Charm
4 Holon Transceiver
4 Rare Candy
|4 Delta Species Rainbow Energy|
2 Lightning Energy
1 Grass Energy
1 Fire Energy
1 Metal Energy
R-gon didn’t see the spikes in finishes that FlyVees saw, but it was the more popular version of the deck, and had more consistent placements within top cut. Rather than focusing on spreading damage around the board, R-Gon seeks to use several different Delta Species pokemon to attack weaknesses the opponents might have. Sometimes this meant making it harder for the opponent to attack through something like Latios ex, sometimes this meant sniping down critical attackers, and sometimes this literally meant weakness, as in type advantage. Holon’s Castform was already extremely popular among many different decks, as it not only made for a consistent setup, but also functioned as an energy that made it easier to run multiple different attacking options. Delta Species Rainbow Energy made this even easier, allowing you to power up practically any Delta Species attacker of any type requirement in the blink of an eye. In the masters division, the type advantage provided by this deck allowed it to have an easier time after the release of Diamond & Pearl base – it had 4 different placements in top cut of Worlds (top 8, 2x top 16, top 32), it top 16’d at US Nationals, and pre-Diamond/Pearl, it had several top 8 finishes at different Regional Championships – but for all of its popularity, it only secured 1 win.
1 Flygon ex
4 Holon’s Castform
1 Holon’s Magnemite/Voltorb
|2 Holon Mentor|
1 Holon Adventurer
1 Holon Scientist
1 Holon Researcher
4 Holon Transceiver
4 Rare Candy
36 cards seems like a low amount, however, a lot of these spaces will fill up quickly with one group of techs vs the other, depending on which route you go. The eeveelutions package will take up ~10 Spots immediately between the eevees themselves, and the supporters (most likely Elm’s Training Method) to search them out. The same is true for the opposite side between the Exeggutor, Mew, and Sceptile lines. That being said, the skeleton list above is also just a starting point, and not all-inclusive of what you can do. There are a couple of important things to consider when building your list:
How Thick should my Flygon line be?
The eeveelutions version of this list has been pretty consistent with its lineup – it is much more centralized around Flygon ex as one of its biggest attackers, so having a 4-2-3-2 line is necessary, with 3 copies of the ex. Delta Supply is also very good, but once your first Flygon starts attacking, you don’t need it that badly. It can’t accelerate to Eevees after they evolve, and Flygon generally takes at least 2 hits to go down, so you’ll have time to power up your next attacker.
R-gon is a little more tricky – lists have been successful with the bare-bones line that you see above – 3-1-3 Flygon Delta Supply line, with only 1 ex as more of a tech attacker. Other decks have increased this to a 4-2-3/2 split (3 copies of Delta Supply, 2 of the ex) so the deck doesn’t rely as hard on Rare Candy, and to have a couple of high-HP attackers for the opponent to deal with. This can be especially good if the decks you’re playing against are focused more on the ex-era, as the extra HP and damage comes in handy, and giving up 2 prize cards isn’t as big of a deal.
How many slots should I keep available for techs?
In the eeveelutions build, a 3-3 lineup seems pretty straightforward, but even this isn’t really certain. The worlds list above neglected to include Espeon, which is one of the strongest tech cards in the deck. Devolving something not only combos well with Vaporeon, but it also allows you to take down multiple attackers on the opponent’s side of the field. (Not to mention that it just does a lot of damage if you attack with it!) Adding to the eeveelution line takes away from other tech spots, or consistency spots, so it’s certainly up for debate how many spots should be dedicated to this lineup.
In R-Gon, it doesn’t get any simpler. 2-2 exeggutor vs 1-1? Both saw success. 1-0-1 Sceptile? 2-0-1? How about 2-1-2? Do I buff up both this line and the Flygon line and cut to 3 Rare Candy? There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Be sure to take time to think about the consistency of the list, and what matchups you expect to be playing most often when you decide how much of a specific tech you want to use.
What the Tech?
As always, this is the section where I’ll explore some of the tech options that these decks have available to them. I’ll try to make a note of which variant of the deck the cards see more play in (FlyVees, R-Gon, or both), as well as what you might be using the techs for. I do also want to briefly touch on the core packages of each archetype, and explain their specifics, as they are CRUCIAL when playing the deck.
The eeveelutions package above functions as the primary tech core in the FlyVees variant. The cards are ordered from most important (left) to least important (right). Jolteon is obviously crucial as its poke-power spreads 10 everywhere, and enables Flygon’s attack to double-down on where the damage goes. Damage on basics will rack up extremely fast, and damage on evolutions will make them easier to KO later in the match. Jolteon also functions as a strong attacker in the deck – Second Bite will KO a lot of pokemon with just a few damage counters put in place, and it also hits Empoleon for weakness.
Vaporeon is the 2nd most important not necessarily as an attacker, but because Evolutionary Swirl is the ONLY form of consistent hand disruption in this format. Hand sizes in 2007 build up to very high amounts over longer matches, so being able to put the opponent down to 4 cards is so important, and it cannot be understated. To put this into perspective, Espeon ex (the next one on the list) puts out high amounts of damage with Psyloop, can snipe targets with Snap Tail, and has the potential to devolve pokemon on the bench, and I would still choose Vaporeon if I could only pick one of them.
That being said, the worlds list doesn’t include an Espeon ex, which I think is criminal. Devolving pokemon has always been a strong play in decks that focus on spreading damage around the field, and it gets even stronger if you manage to devolve something, then also shuffle it back into the opponent’s deck with Vaporeon. Gino Lombardi used at least one Espeon in his list when he won and placed 2nd at two different regional championships.
Umbreon ex is definitely weaker than the other eevees for this specific archetype, but a guaranteed Gust effect is still worth mentioning, as it’s powerful in every format. Dark typing is also strong in this format, as Banette ex variants are some of the stronger decks in this format. Flareon ex is just not necessary – if you want a fire-type attacker, the Mew from Pop 5 will be stronger. it only gives up 1 prize card, it’s a basic pokemon, and it actually has the potential to OHKO Steelix EX.
The R-gon package is a very different approach to what Flygon could do. All of these pokemon can abuse Delta Supply to gather energy on them more efficiently, and they are all different types, which is strong in specific matchups. Rayquaza ex is strong in 2 scenarios – as a comeback attacker, it can do a lot of work for very few energy. Its poke-body is a nice insurance policy if you ever go down in prizes early. Electric typing is also nice against Empoleon. On the other hand, Special Circuit is a fantastic attack to pressure the opponent early. Sniping around Holon’s Castform means you can build up damage on more relevant threats, and decks like MetaNite or Delcatty that rely on abilities early will really struggle if they don’t get going quickly.
Exeggutor has the ever-important Fighting typing, and in this format it’s more important than ever. Jolteon ex, Steelix ex, Umbreon ex, Raichu, and Delcatty are just a couple of pokemon that have weakness to fighting, and Exeggutor threatens all of them for just 2 energy. In addition, Split bomb is fantastic for setting up KOs later, so even in matchups where it isn’t hitting for weakness, Exeggutor will rarely ever be a dead card.
Sceptile ex doesn’t get used as often – its poke-body includes itself, which is important to note, so you’ll need 3 energy to attack with it. Power Revenge is a fantastic way to finish a match out, though. It will often be swinging for at least 100 damage, and any sort of damage modifier scores it an OHKO on important threats like Rayquaza ex. Sceptile is also nice to shut down certain poke-powers, such as the eeveelutions.
This rarely comes up, but a nifty combo when you’re behind on prizes is Rayquaza ex + Sceptile ex. Rayquaza’s poke-body allows you to ignore the extra colorless energy that Sceptile charges you, so you get to keep hitting the opponent for low energy cost. At the same time, Sceptile will still be working against opposing pokemon ex, so it will be harder for the opponent to respond.
Absol ex was strong in basically any deck it was put into. It was more popular in the FlyVees variant, as Psychic Pulse really helped speed up the damage process, and you could also attack with it against decks like Banette. This deck also had an easier time putting lots of damage counters in play to manipulate with Cursed Eyes. However, this card shouldn’t be overlooked in the R-Gon variant either. Both Rayquaza and Exeggutor can snipe 30s around the board early, and Absol will ensure none of this damage goes to waste.
Mew from POP 5 is another one that was more popular in one of the versions (R-Gon) but isn’t necessarily “bad” in the other one. As a fire-type attacker, Copy allows you to grab any attack from the defending pokemon, which has a wide variety of uses depending on the matchup. being able to copy a Rayquaza ex to snipe the opponent’s field is great, and being able to copy a high-damage output attack on a single prize pokemon is great also. The fire-typing is also very useful here, as it hits Steelix ex, Scizor ex, and Metagross. It can theoretically also hit Meganium Delta, but this was mostly used as support and not as an atatcker.
Both Fearow and Nidoqueen are strong consistency engines for either deck, but they both have their own trade-offs. Fearow is the easier pokemon to set up, as it is only a stage 1, and doesn’t require the use of Rare Candy. However, there is no Delta Species Spearow, so you will be shorting yourself on Delta Draws with Holon’s Castform to do so. Delta Sign also only searches out Delta Species pokemon, which means it won’t be able to grab Holon’s Castform or Holon’s Magnemite, which can be crucial in situations where you need to find an energy card. Nidoqueen takes a little bit more effort to set up, but the payoff can be worth it. Not only does Invitation grab any pokemon from your deck, but Vengeance is also a really nice attack to clean up late-game with.
Latios ex saw play in a lot of different delta species variations this year – as a basic pokemon, it required no work to play down, and it was searchable with Holon Mentor. Ice Barrier was a strong situational attack – you could punish your opponent for going all-in on an ex in the early game by hiding behind Latios and setting up your field. Ice Barrier did immediately win against a few decks (most notably Scizor ex), but most decks had a way to get around this effect. Latios’s poke-body includes itself as well, so the risk to playing it was minimal as you didn’t even need a switching card to bail out to your main strategy.
Latias ex was less common, but it could still put in work. As an early game threat, it could accelerate energy to itself and demolish slower starts from pokemon like Holon’s Castform. later in the game, you could use Flygon’s Delta Supply to repeatedly power it up and keep the opponent on the back foot. As mentioned above with Mew, Fire-typing was also pretty strong in this format, as many steel-types were played pretty heavily.
In any deck that is able to accelerate energy consistently, Mewtwo Delta Species is a worthy consideration. Being able to swap energy around your side of the board can let you power up pokemon in 1 turn that your opponent might not expect. Mewtwo also combos well with Briney’s Compassion, as you can swap your energy over, then pick your pokemon up and heal all of its damage off. Be aware though, that Mewtwo only swaps BASIC energy around the field, so you will have to build a different energy base than the one you see in R-gon above. running 4 Delta Rainbow and 4 Holon’s Castform just won’t end well.
Winning the Stadium War
Winning the stadium war can be pretty crucial in this format – both Battle Frontier and Crystal Beach are pretty detrimental to the central strategies of both Flygon decks, and Cursed Stone can do a number to both lists as well. Power Tree was played in the Eevees version – because Holon’s Castform counts as a Pokemon while it’s in the discard pile, you will always be able to grab a basic energy (and simultaneously re-attach said energy with Delta Supply). Power Tree won’t be as strong in R-Gon because of the high amount of Delta Rainbow Energy you play. Giant Stump could conceivably be played in both variations, although FlyVees likes to have its full bench space available to it. R-Gon doesn’t mind going down on bench spots though, and limiting opposing decks like MetaNite made it more difficult for those decks to function. Multiple copies of windstorm should be included in both decks as it not only helps against stadiums, but Cessation Crystal as well.
Because R-Gon couldn’t rely on Power Tree, Chimecho was used to grab energy out of the discard pile instead. The deck runs off of the Holon engine, so it wasn’t difficult to repeatedly play these supporter cards and grab energy out of your discard pile. Furthermore, Chimecho was searchable with Holon Mentor, and it also wouldn’t be countered by another stadium, or windstormed away. As a result, you could pretty easily discard energy cards to your Holon supporters, grab them back, and save all of your resources for later in the match.
Bolstering your damage output
Each of the three trainers above are situationally useful for grabbing surprise KOs. Crystal Shard was strong in the mirror match in particular – the Grass-type Flygon is weak to colorless, so you could take a surprise KO on your opponent’s energy accelerator. Dragonite delta and Flygon ex LM would also by hit hard by this pokemon tool. Strength Charm and PlusPower are more universally useful, and while 10 damage isn’t a lot, it’s sometimes all you need. 10 damage is enough to turn Swift from a 3HKO to a 2HKO against Empoleon, and it also allows your Sceptile ex to easily hit for 110 against opposing Rayquaza ex in matches where you traded away 2 ex knockouts. Strength Charm also isn’t discarded until you attack, so you could potentially attach it to something on your bench in preparation for a Vaporeon’s Evolutionary Swirl. PlusPower is a second option for an extra 10 damage, and it comes with the bonus of being able to play multiple at once (alongside Strength Charm), so you could potentially add 20 or 30 damage out of nowhere for a surprise KO. (even more if you played Absol ex)
Going for Gold
Only one Gold Star pokemon is allowed in a deck, and all three of these had situational usefulness. Mew Star was the more popular tech in R-Gon, as Delta Supply made it easy to power up, and you could also use it to spread damage around the field easily against Empoleon if you decided to include a basic water energy. Mimicry also allowed you to copy anything on your opponent’s field, which was WAY stronger than the usual Mew POP 5’s attack, which only copied the opponent’s active pokemon. You could literally pick anything on the opponent’s field depending on what helped you out the most. Jolteon Star was popular in a number of decks, as Yellow Ray gives you an extra 10 damage out of thin air, and is searchable with Holon Mentor. Vaporeon Star was less common, but Gino Lombardi used it in his regionals lists. He noted that Healing 30 from the opponent’s active pokemon usually didn’t matter – Flygon ex and/or Jolteon ex would score a 2HKO anyways. On the flipside, healing his own Flygon ex could potentially be catastrophic for the opponent – many decks tried to chip away at the Flygon by placing 30 on it early (such as Exeggutor or Rayquaza ex) and removing that damage could take it completely out of KO range, and had the potential to break the game wide open.
On a similar field as Vaporeon Star, Briney’s Compassion allowed you to pick up and essentially heal one of your non-ex pokemon. Picking up Delta Supply Flygon was fantastic, as it was often used as an attacker. Swift provided consistent damage, and ignored effects like Buffer Piece. If you had the potential to play the Flygon back down again on the same turn (via rare candy) you also had the opportunity to get an extra use out of Delta Supply. Because this specifies non-ex pokemon (thank goodness), this wasn’t seen very often in the ex-heavy FlyVees version.
Gardevoir ex delta seems awfully clunky for Flygon to be using, but it is an incredibly strong inclusion. Imprison is a phenomenal ability – shutting down any pokemon’s abilities PERMANENTLY had the potential to completely change the outcome of the match. Flame Ball is also a really strong attack in this deck for a couple of reasons. First, it does enough damage to consistently OHKO Steelix, Scizor, Metagross, and other fire-weak pokemon. Second, bouncing the fire energy to your bench allowed you to conserve your energy, and make it easier to power up the other attackers in your deck. Remember, Holon’s Castform counts as a fire energy, so you can easily bounce it to a pokemon that uses completely different energy types to attack. Gardevoir ex/Flygon won Western Canadian regionals, and also performed well in the hands of Ross Cawthon in the Northwestern regionals here in the states.
In recent days, the Ruby/Sapphire-Power Keepers format (also known as RS-PK or “ex all”) has gained a lot of traction, so I want to touch on a couple of cards that could be cool to play in that format. There are a lot of similar decks between 2007 and RS-PK, but going back to Ruby/Sapphire means Flygon has to deal with cards that had rotated out for the 2007 season. Flygon is still a strong choice in the format, but there are a couple of tech options that are extra nifty to have in this format.
In addition to Nidoqueen and Fearow, Flygon gains Pidgeot as an option for a setup engine. If you think grabbing any pokemon in your deck is cool, imagine being able to grab any card you want! Holon Phantoms also printed delta species versions of Pidgey and Pidgeotto, so you can slot this in without shorting yourself on Delta Draws. This card won’t be searchable with Holon Researcher, but if you are already playing either Celio’s Network or Elm’s Training Method, then finding Pidgeot shouldn’t be too difficult.
Both of these Team Rocket Returns cards are pretty obvious 1st and 2nd inclusions, but they are still worth mentioning. Rocket’s Admin is extremely nice for Flygon decks as you are generally a bit slower to set up – so early in the game you’ll be reducing your opponent’s hand size while refilling your own up to 5 or 6. Late game you have the potential to set up one large Flygon ex and drop your opponent to 1 or 2, making it hard for them to respond. Pokemon Retriever is nice in any deck, but it’s worth mentioning especially in Flygon as grabbing back Holon’s Castform is so crucial for decks that have many different attacking types, and being able to do so without wasting a supporter for turn on something like Holon Farmer is extra nice.
I could have mentioned this card with the other Lati ex pokemon above, but I didn’t because in 2007 there just…isn’t very much to shut down with this card. Because this only hits evolved non-ex pokemon, you’d be playing this card to only hit something like Safeguard Banette, which you can already play around by attacking with Swift. In RS-PK however, this changes drastically. Both Dark Tyranitar decks make heavy use of Poke-Bodies to spread damage around your field. You also hose up a bunch of random poke-bodies such as Houndoom UF (which is much more common this format), and Pidgeot HP, so the extra one slot is more worth it.
Ancient TM Rock was used to close games out for a couple of different decks in 2006, and as mentioned before, anything that spreads damage will appreciate having a way to devolve pokemon. Ancient TM Rock is a way to do this without dedicating an evolution line to Espeon ex, and it will also hit everything on your opponents field at once, which can be back-breaking. Stone Generator has to be attached to a non-ex evolved pokemon, but this isn’t to difficult for either version to accomplish as you can easily slap it onto a Delta Supply Flygon, or one of the support pokemon like Exeggutor.
Flygon, although tight on space, does have a wide array of techs available to it. The matches it plays are very skill-intensive, and at times require a lot of thought to be put into where your energy are getting attached, and which tech attacker will be the most useful. Deckbuilding for this archetype continues to grow deeper with the RS-PK format picking up steam, and I’m genuinely excited to see where people take Flygon in that format. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, this was the first truly competitive deck that I played as a TCG player, and I really hope that somebody else out there can enjoy playing this deck as much as I did. Thank you so much for reading, hope to see you at the next article!