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The Gyarados archetype is a popular deck in the Pokémon Trading Card Game. After appearing sometime shortly after the release of Stormfront, the deck gained recognition and was played heavily during the 2009-2010 Pokémon Organized Play season. It placed well in numerous tournaments but saw a decline in use as LuxChomp grew in popularity. Although its merits were frequently discussed, many players moved away from Gyarados as a competitive archetype in favor of decks requiring more finesse, such as Sablelock and the aforementioned LuxChomp. However, after the release of the Triumphant expansion late in 2010, Gyarados was seen as more viable than ever due to the inclusion of Junk Arm and Rescue Energy in the new set.
Although versions including certain tech cards will be more complex, Gyarados has one of the most straightforward strategies of any archetype today. Sableye is the deck's ideal starter, as its Impersonate attack can be used to give the player an additional Supporter card play on the first turn. When used to utilize the effect of Pokémon Collector, Cyrus's Conspiracy, or any other of the deck's numerous searching or drawing Supporter cards, Sableye's Impersonate can give Gyarados a remarkably fast setup. After two or three turns, the deck aims to have one Gyarados on the field with three Magikarp in the discard pile. This allows Gyarados to do maximum damage with its Tail Revenge attack, which does 30 damage for each Magikarp in the player's discard.
To get multiple Magikarp in the discard pile, the deck employs Regice, Junk Arm, and Volkner's Philosophy. Regice's Regi Move Poké-Power forces the opponent to switch out his or her active Basic Pokémon with a Benched Pokémon, and makes the Gyarados player discard two cards from his or her hand.
Once the Gyarados player has one Gyarados on the field along with as many Magikarp as possible in the discard pile, the deck's strategy is simply to keep Gyarados alive while taking as many prizes as possible. With Expert Belt, Gyarados's Tail Revenge can do 110 damage, enough to knock out many Pokémon and enough to severely damage all others. Since Tail Revenge has no Energy cost, the deck can afford much more room to situation Trainer and Supporter cards such as Warp Point, Seeker, and Pokémon Rescue. The deck can afford to use multiple Luxury Ball, since Junk Arm's ability to retrieve it allows it to be used again once discarded. Combinations such as Warp Point and Seeker, which effectively allows the player to return a damaged Gyarados to his or her hand, along with Pokémon Rescue and Rescue Energy make sure that the Gyarados player can almost always maintain an attacking Pokémon with several Magikarp in the discard pile, allowing for a continuous high damage output.
- Gyarados - Gyarados is the deck's main attacker. Since many builds do not run energy, Gyarados attacks only with Tail Revenge. Tail Revenge's damage output is completely dependent on how many Magikarp are in the player's discard pile. With three Magikarp discarded, Tail Revenge does 90 damage for no energy cost. With Gyarados's 130HP, which is far above average for a Stage 1 evolved Pokémon, along with Expert Belt, Gyarados can prove to be a strong, bulky attacker.
- Sableye - Sableye is Gyarados's ideal start. With Impersonate, Sableye can use any Supporter card from the player's deck, allowing Gyarados to set up much faster. Impersonate is often used to grab Pokémon Collector, giving the player access to Regice, Magikarp, Uxie, and a variety of other Basic Pokémon on their second turn.
- Regice - Regice's Poké-Power, Regi Move, allows the Gyarados player to discard two cards from his or her hand to force the opponent to switch out his or her active Basic Pokémon. In addition to allowing easy discard of multiple Magikarp, Regi Move can disrupt decks based around Pokémon SP, as well as those using a Spiritomb Trainer lock.
- Uxie - Uxie is in the deck for simple drawpower. Its Set Up Poké-Power allows the player to draw until they have seven cards in their hand.
- Pokémon Collector - Pokémon Collector is used to search whatever Basic Pokémon the decks needs at a given time out of the deck. It can be used with Sableye's Impersonate, making it a fairly easy card to access. Early in the game, Pokémon Collector can search for one Regice and two Magikarp, allowing for their immediate discard with Regi Move. It is a very versatile card that is absolutely crucial in modern Gyarados builds.
- Junk Arm - Although many may not consider Junk Arm a key card, as Gyarados thrived even before its release in the Triumphant expansion, it certainly helps the deck. Junk Arm allows the player to discard two Magikarp from his or her hand in order to retrieve a Trainer card from the discard pile. Since Junk Arm is a Trainer card it cannot be 'Power Sprayed' (unlike Regice's Poké-Power).
- Pokémon Rescue, Rescue Energy, and Combee - Pokémon Rescue, Rescue Energy, and Combee all serve the same purpose. All three are used to easily recover Magikarp and Gyarados when they are knocked out. Since the deck does not rely on energy cards to attack, a knocked out Gyarados with Rescue Energy attached can be returned to the hand and played down again immediately, if Broken Time-Space is in play, ready to attack. Combee is very useful if the player is Trainer-locked with Vileplume or Spiritomb. Since Combee's Honey effect is not a Poké-Power, a Power Spray cannot be used against it.
The deck list appearing below is not official; it is meant to represent an average build of the archetype, not specifically constructed for any regional metagame. Being that this is merely an archetype, a player may wish to change any part of this deck when building his or her own version.
Possible Tech Cards
- Dialga G LV.X - Dialga G LV.X is a fairly common tech in Gyarados. When on the Bench, it nullifies all Poké-Bodies in play. Since Gyarados does not rely on Poké-Bodies, Dialga G LV.X can be a powerful deck against metagame decks that do, such as VileGar.
- Poké Blower + - Poké Blower + is used in some Gyarados decks as a means to knock out the opponent's support Pokémon by forcing them up from the Bench and attacking them with Gyarados. Pokémon Reversal is used in some builds as a more luck-based method of doing this. Some players may wish to use Luxray GL LV.X; its Bright Look Poké-Power has the same effect as playing 2 Poké Blower +.
- Poké Healer + - Since Gyarados reaches a massive 150 HP with Expert Belt attached, it can generally take multiple hits . Play two Poké Healer + at the same time heals eight damage counters off Gyarados, allowing it to tank even longer against the opponent.
- Chatot - Although it is not a common tech, some builds run Chatot for hand refreshment and as a free retreater that can be brought up and immediately retreated for no cost in the event of a knocked out Gyarados.
- Water Energy - Water Energy was a much more common tech when decks such as CurseGar ran Mr. Mime as a means of stalling low energy decks such as Gyarados. After Mr. Mime's rotation, the need to run Water Energy lessened, as most players believe there is no reason to attack with anything other than Tail Revenge.
- Call Energy - Call Energy is occasionally used in Gyarados as a simple alternative to Pokémon Collector for getting Basic Pokémon into play early in the game.
- Special Darkness Energy - For decks wishing to have a chance at donking the opponent with Sableye, Darkness Energy provides the cost of its Overconfident attack.