Deck List Linearity
Now that the player going first can't play a Supporter card on
their first turn, Jirachi's Stellar Wish Ability is vital for finding cards early in the
match. Stellar Wish increases the likelihood of finding additional Basic
Pokémon via Quick Ball or Great Ball. Our example list runs nine cards dedicated to Jirachi: the full
count of four, plus three Switch and two Escape Board. Unlike the various approaches possible for a deck like Mewtwo & Mew-GX, this deck thrives on executing its sole strategy as efficiently
Perhaps that's not entirely true; a perfectly linear deck is a
perfectly predictable one. Cards that fill a specific niche are in the list too,
such as Yveltal-GX, Tyrogue, and Lillie's Poké Doll, to give the deck more options. Strategies besides repeatedly
using Obstruct are possible with these cards—they capitalize on placing damage
counters throughout the game.
Like many decks, the role of the cards beyond Galarian Obstagoon
and other niche attackers is simply to create consistency. Eight search cards—four
Quick Ball, three Great Ball, and one Evolution Incense—are more than most decks
include. Adding in three copies of Rosa
makes these cards easier to get, too. As you'll soon
see, Pokémon search is required more in this deck than in many others.
Attaching an Energy every turn is important, too; nine Energy seems to be a
sweet spot given the space available.
The deck is designed primarily to set up Galarian Obstagoon and
attack with Obstruct as soon as possible. There are a few complementary tricks
involving placing damage counters, but Obstruct is the main source of damage
output. Until your primary attacker is fully evolved, Lillie's Poké Doll or
Jirachi should stay in the Active Spot so any Galarian Zigzagoon remain safe on
the Bench. Mew protects the Bench from attacks like Tag Bolt-GX and Venom Shot, so if your
opponent wants to target Galarian Zigzagoon directly, they'll need to use something
like Custom Catcher or Pokémon Catcher.
The goal on your first couple of turns is to draw into the
necessary pieces to begin attacking. Rosa is my favorite card in the deck
because it can search for exactly what you need. If you miss an Energy drop on
the first turn and your opponent gets an early Knock Out, you can easily find Counter Gain—a card that's normally hard to draw into since there's only one
in this deck—and begin attacking for cheap. Like most other decks in the
Standard format, the list boasts a full count of Professor's Research and a
few Marnie for further consistency.
Most opposing decks will have an answer to one or two Galarian
Obstagoon, so the goal is to set up several of them. In some games, no other
attacker is needed to win. Just be careful not to put too many Pokémon on the
Bench for your opponent to Knock Out. Even if the opponent doesn't have an
answer to Obstruct, they can win the game by taking enough Prize cards off of
Figuring out how you expect to take all six Prize cards is
integral to winning with Galarian Obstagoon. It's unlikely to Knock Out most
opposing Pokémon with a single attack, so there will often be residual damage
on the opponent's board. Untamed Shout and Galarian Zigzagoon's Headbutt
Tantrum Ability can Knock Out these weakened Pokémon even if they're on the
Bench, saving Great Catcher for another target. Tyrogue and Mew provide additional Bench damage.
Pokémon in the 160–180 HP range are too difficult to Knock Out with Abilities
after a single Obstruct—Tyrogue comes in by giving an additional boost, pushing
the HP total in range of an Untamed Shout + Psypower combo.
Against TAG TEAM decks, the best strategy is to Knock Out two TAG
TEAM Pokémon-GX—one with Obstruct and one with Yveltal-GX's Doom
Count-GX attack. It's best to save Yveltal-GX for the second
Knock Out—if you've already used its GX attack, then the opponent has
plenty of breathing room and can formulate a plan knowing you won't be able to
do more than 90 damage at a time. Remember that Yveltal-GX gives up two
Prize cards, too!
In matchups that include your opponent attacking with Evolution
Pokémon, targeting those Pokémon is often the smartest strategy. In most
circumstances, once any Pokémon capable of damaging Galarian Obstagoon are
removed, you'll be on the path to victory. Common example decks of this type are
Malamar, Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX/Rillaboom, and other Galarian
Obstagoon decks. The focus should fall on the threat: aim for the Pokémon that
can actually attack.
When you play this deck, remember this: four is the perfect
number. Conveniently, one damage counter from Galarian Zigzagoon's Ability and
three from Galarian Obstagoon's Ability results in four damage counters total.
Moreover, it's best to place damage counters in preparation for Doom Count-GX
on Benched Pokémon. Then, when the opponent's Active Pokémon is damaged by Obstruct,
there will still be a Pokémon in danger of Doom Count-GX on the Bench.
Stray damage counters can also pick up Knock Outs by themselves. A
Ninetales can be an effective attacker against Galarian Obstagoon. One way
of dealing with this is to Knock Out the 60-HP Vulpix before it evolves. One
Untamed Shout plus another three damage counters from either a second Untamed
Shout, Bratty Kick, or Psypower effectively deals with one potential Ninetales
that could have caused trouble later in the game.
There are three ways to counter Galarian Obstagoon: attackers, “gust”
effects that can move Pokémon between the Bench and the Active Spot, and
alternate win conditions. Read on to see how each method can be effective
against this Pokémon.
One major drawback to Obstruct is that it doesn't prevent additional
effects of attacks. For example, Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX can use its first attack,
Tandem Shock, for the Paralyze effect, even if the damage is ignored. Then,
because Galarian Obstagoon can't attack, it can be damaged and Knocked Out by any
Pokémon. Blacephalon and its Fireworks Bomb attack can damage Galarian Obstagoon for
the same reason—placing damage counters directly is different than doing damage
with an attack.
Other common attackers are Reshiram & Charizard-GX,
Greninja-GX, and Eelektross. Reshiram & Charizard-GX can hit Galarian Obstagoon
with Double Blaze-GX, whose additional effect not only increases the
damage by 100 but also overrides the blocking effect of Obstruct, scoring a
Knock Out. Greninja's Mist Slash has the same clause. For Pikachu & Zekrom-GX decks,
Eelektross is an easy addition that can Knock Out a Galarian Obstagoon with one
If there are enough Pokémon in play, then it's possible to take
six Prize cards while avoiding Galarian Obstagoon entirely. Most decks without
Ninetales (who can lure a Pokémon off the Bench with its Nine Temptations
Ability) run four Custom Catcher or four Pokémon Catcher, along with maybe a Great Catcher or
two. But without something like Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX's Altered
Creation-GX attack, that's not enough to take six Prize cards around
Obstruct. Phione is a pesky card for Galarian Obstagoon to face because it's
reusable and easy to find with Quick Ball. With enough uses of Phione's
Whirlpool Suction Ability, it becomes possible for
the opponent to take six Prize cards.
Decks that try to run their opponent out of cards (“milling”) against
Galarian Obstagoon are effective because they don't worry about taking Knock
Outs. Cinccino and Magcargo/Zacian V are the best mill decks currently in the Standard format. Because
Obstruct maxes out at 90 damage, winning the game before running out of cards can
be difficult. Untamed Shout and other damage-placing effects are great ways to
Knock Out Lillie's Poké Doll without attacking. Each wasted attack is crucial
because every turn is more cards being milled with Bellelba & Brycen-Man, so
it's crucial to find other ways to remove Lillie's Poké Doll.
Managing the Counters
By knowing what the opponent can do to counter your strategy, you can actively prepare and develop a countermeasure for their counter.
Galarian Obstagoon can take a similar course of action when facing
any Pokémon-GX. Raichu
& Alolan Raichu-GX and Blacephalon-GX have
the option of inflicting Special Conditions. The smart strategy is to hold onto
your Switch and Escape Board until you need to get out of these situations.
With Escape Board attached to Galarian Obstagoon, its Retreat Cost is reduced
to 1. Then you can retreat into a Lillie's Poké Doll and send it under the deck
to begin attacking again. Switch does the same thing but can also weave in a
Stellar Wish and avoid the Retreat Cost altogether.
Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX, Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, and some Mewtwo & Mew-GX
decks play Phione. The way to counter Phione is to put Lillie's Poké Doll on
the Bench. That way, it can be promoted after Whirlpool Suction, denying any
Prize cards. Be wary of the combination of Phione plus a gust effect—once
Galarian Obstagoon is sent to the Bench, the effect of Obstruct ends, and it
can be damaged by Basic Pokémon.
Galarian Obstagoon is a strong deck that runs against the current
meta, making it a deck that I think will continue to place well at tournaments.
That said, the popularity of the current heavy hitters won't decline, either. Something
to watch for is whether Evolution-based decks will become more popular at
upcoming tournaments. Namely, Magcargo-GX
can easily Knock Out Zacian V and can damage Galarian
Obstagoon. It'll be exciting to see how the meta continues to take new shapes, and
to see which new decks may become viable and clinch a major win!
Be sure to continue following the 2020 Championship Series and check out more articles at Pokemon.com/Strategy.
Xander Pero is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He was an avid fan until discovering sanctioned tournaments in 2009. He formerly traveled often for the Top 16 circuit, but now spends his time focusing on university, where he studies systems engineering. You can find him at various tournaments, as well as on Twitter at @xanderpero.