Powerful beasts that can make the earth shake and swift combatants that can pierce the rock with their fists: the Fighting type Pokémon are creatures with an untamed heart and only the strongest trainers can earn the right to become their masters. If you are up to the challenge and you are eager to follow the steps of Brawly, Korrina and Bea to become a fighting type Gym Leader, this is the right place where to start.
In the Gym Leader Challenge Format, Fighting decks are not among the top tier decks (yet) and it’s important to understand why that is: knowing your own weaknesses is crucial in the path to victory. Most decks in the GLC format have access to a plethora of Pokémon with supporting Abilities that allow players to draw cards, search their deck and accelerate Energy on the board, ensuring to speed up their plays and easily build up big attackers. The Fighting type lacks a reliable consistency engine which is a disadvantage against snowballing decks like Fire and Water. When building a Fighting deck, you should always try to maximize the number of draw Supporters and don’t forget to include set-up Pokémon to push you through the first phases of the game. For instance, Carbink from Lost Thunder allows you to search your deck for both a Stadium and a Supporter card, so that you can prepare the ground for your next turn, without having to rely on the turn’s draw.
Other set-up Pokèmon to consider:
One of the biggest issues of playing a Fighting deck is that most Fighting type Pokémon have a quite a high Energy cost for their attacks, which can be tough to pay without any form of Energy acceleration. However, the Fighting type has been blessed with several low-maintenance attackers which can deal a great amount of damage for as little as 1 or 2 Energy. Donphan from Vivid Voltage and Excadrill from Cosmic Eclipse can deal 120 damage at the price of just 1 Fighting Energy. Of course these attacks have important drawbacks, but being able to hit so hard and so quickly is extraordinary valuable in the GLC format. Having some fast attackers can put you in a leading position against decks that need some turns to set-up. You can further increase the damage output of your fast attackers with cards like Martial Arts Dojo, Strong Energy and Muscle Band.
Other fast attackers:
Fighting possesses the highest number of Fossil Pokémon among all the Pokémon types. Some of these Pokémon have spicy Abilities which can hinder your opponent and others have very powerful attacks. One of the best Fossil Pokémon is Archeops from Noble Victories, banned in the Expanded Format, but legal in Gym Leader Challenge. Its Ability “Ancient Power” prevents your opponent from playing Evolution Pokémon from their hand. If you can put down this Rocky Bird fast enough, you can stop your opponent from setting-up their board and significantly slow the pace of their plays. Though Archeops’ Ability is strong, it is possible to get around Ancient Power by playing cards like Evosoda and Pokémon Bredeer’s Nurturing, which evolve Pokémon from the deck and not from the hand.
The best card for setting up Fossil Pokémon is Pokémon Research Lab from Unified Minds, which allows you to search your deck for two Pokémon that evolve from Unidentified Fossil and place them on the Bench. With Research Lab you can play multiple Fossil Pokémon even if you can only run a single copy of Unidentified Fossil in your deck. For more consistency, you can use Stadium Nav or Guzma & Hala to search for your Pokémon Research Lab and Fossil Excavation Map to search for the Unidentified Fossil.
Other Ability fossils:
As anticipated, Fighting doesn’t have many options when it comes to support Pokémon, but there are still some juicy cards we can utilize. My personal favorite is the Machamp line! Machamp from Furious Fists is great for boosting the power of your attackers. Its Ability, Fighting Fury, gives all your Fighting type Pokémon a massive +20 damage boost. The best part about Machamp is that its pre-evolution, Machoke from Guardians Rising, is incredibly useful as well. It has an Ability, Daunting Pose, that blocks all damage and damage counters from opponent’s Attacks and Abilities done to your Benched Pokémon. This is great against spread decks which are popular in GLC Format!
Another good supporter pokémon is Coalossal from Rebel Clash, whose Tar Generator Ability can accelerate Fighting and Fire Energy from the discard pile to your Pokémon. Using Coalossal’s Ability can be tricky, since you need to put energy in the discard pile, but running some number of Fire Energy in your deck also gives you access to Welder, which can also be useful for loading your heavy attackers.
Gallade from BREAKthrough is potentially the best Support Pokémon for Fighting, since its Premonition Ability allows you to look at and rearrange the top five cards of your decks, adding
much consistency to the deck. Sadly enough, in this format Gallade is accessible only through the card Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, which is playable only when Gallade is in your discard pile and you
have no other cards in your hand: some conditions that are very hard to meet.
Finally, here are some cards I suggest to run in your Fighting decks.
The stadium card Brooklet Hill allows you to place Basic Pokémon from your deck to your Bench and it’s very good in the first phase of the game. Focus Sash is a Tool that prevents OHKOs, leaving the Fighting type Pokémon that is equipped to with 10 hp. Focus Sash can help you guarantee that a Pokémon will attack twice before going down. Ninja Boy is an underrated supporter card that allows you to take your opponent by surprise when changing a set-up Pokèmon into an attacker, saving the attached energy in the process. Since many fighting type Pokémon have an high retreat cost, you can try using the Item card Heavy Ball to search for them in the deck. Also, it’s usually a good measure to play a Bird Keeper or an Escape Rope (or both) to move your big boys around. This is all for the guide, I hope you found it useful and inspiring. Now raise your fists and punch your way to the top along with your faithful Fighting Pokémon!
– Luca Eze Guglielmo