Dragon type Pokemon are arguably one of the most difficult types to play in Gym Leader Challenge Format. But difficult does not mean weak! Many trainers may be turned away by their expensive attacks and multiple Energy type requirements, but for those that are up to the challenge, piloting a Dragon type deck successfully can be an immensely rewarding experience. Once these ferocious Pokemon start marching, they evoke calamity on the other side of the playmat! I’m Farhan Ishraq (AKA VS_SEEKER) from Bangladesh and I’d like to share a few of the secrets that have helped me get a decent amount of success so far in the Gym Leader Challenge metagame. Note that this article is written prior to release of Evolving Skies! With the reintroduction of Dragon Pokemon in the next set, there is a lot to look forward to as a Dragon trainer!
Dragonite from Team Up & Gabite from Dragons Exalted make up the core consistency engine of the deck and help to set up your board position. Gabite’s Dragon Call Ability is one of the best consistency Abilities in the format. It allows you to search your deck for a Dragon type Pokemon and put it into your hand once per turn. With Gabite in play, its easy to get exactly the right Pokemon at exactly the right time. It’s also easy to set up Dragonite!
Dragonite’s Fast Call Ability allows you to search your deck for a Supporter card and put it into your hand once during your turn. Playing the Dragon deck requires that you forecast and predict a few turns ahead to utilize Supporters and Trainers effectively. So, we need to choose our Supporters wisely to map out our strategy.
The most valuable Supporter in this deck is Guzma & Hala. Guzma & Hala is super valuable because it searches for a Stadium, Special Energy & a Pokemon Tool. With Guzma and Hala you can search out Silent Lab, Tropical Beach or even the new Stadium, Mountain Range, which will be released in Evolving Skies! Although Tropical Beach is very difficult to get on the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online, World Championship versions of the card are available for tabletop play. Tropical Beach is nice to help you refresh your hand while building up your powerful Dragons!
The Dragon deck also relies on almost entirely Special Energy, including the busted Double Dragon Energy! Being able to get Double Dragon Energy whenever you want is very good, making Guzma & Hala even better. And then, of course, you can select a Tool from the deck as well, which is amazing for grabbing Fighting Fury Belt or Cape of Toughness to make our Dragons even bigger!
The Dragon deck isn’t the fastest archetype in Gym Leader Challenge, so You usually have to try and bide a few turns while you establish your board position. That’s why I play very buff Basic Pokemon like Zygarde from Burning Shadows, Kyureum and Zekrom from Dragon Majesty, and Drampa from Guardians Rising to soak some hits and stall while I set up. After setting up the deck’s engine, its time to welcome Ultra Necrozma from Cosmic Eclipse, the star of the deck!
Ultra Necrozma from Cosmic Eclipse is an absolute beast! It’s a Basic Pokemon that does 170 Damage for a Psychic and a Metal and discards one Energy from the defending Pokemon. The only thing holding Ultra Necrozma back is its Ability, Ultra Burst, that only allows it to attack when your opponent has 2 Prizes or less. To allow Ultra Necrozma to attack whenever you want, you have to turn that Ability off! Thankfully, we have access to Silent Lab, a Stadium Card that turns of the Abilities of all Basic Pokemon in play. With Silent Lab its possible to do 170 damage with Ultra Necrozma’s Luster Downfall as early as the first turn of the game! If I’m lucky enough to start with Ultra Necrozma and Silent Lab, I’ll usually go for the aggressive play while my opponent attempts to set up.
What usually happens, however, is that you will set up Gabite and Gabite uses Dragon Call to search for Ultra Necrozma, then Dragonite can use Fast Call to search out Guzma & Hala to let loose Ultra Necrozma and wreak havoc on the opponent’s board.
The Goon Squad
Once Gabite has done its part it can evolve into Garchomp from Ultra Prism which is a great attacker with free retreat. Also with the help of Dragonite’s Fast Call, you can use Cynthia at just the right time, enabling Garchomp to do 200 damage with its Royal Blades attack! Dragonite itself is also a decent attacker. It can do a respectable 120 damage for 3 Energy, however, I usually prefer to protect it on the Bench with a Float Stone. Zekrom & Zygarde are both buff dudes who need a Double Colorless energy or Twin Energy, plus a couple of additional rainbow-style Energies to attack, but once they are up and rolling they are tough to stop! Drampa is great for the early game to fetch a Basic Energy from the deck and then start passing the Energy to other attackers with its Dragon Cyclone attack.
The Ultimate Spice
One of the most insane plays you can make in this deck is to bring Ultra Necrozma back as sooon as it gets KO’d. You can do this by playing Teammates for Revive or Rescue Stretcher and an Energy + Multi Switch or Counter Energy to swing with Ultra Necrozma back to back turns! This deck also loves Lysandre’s Trump Card to throw all your broken Special Energy back into the deck! The only card I wish I could play in this deck but cannot is Lance Prism Star, but the ban on Prism Star cards is certainly justified! Lance Prism Star is broken! Thank you so much for reading and major thanks to Andrew Mahone for creating such a fun format!