By Robin Schulz, Contributing Writer
The Sword & Shield—Lost Origin expansion has introduced strong cards into the game, but the star of the expansion is definitely the excellent Giratina VSTAR. Its Lost Impact attack does enough damage to Knock Out any Pokémon VSTAR, including the popular Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and Arceus VSTAR. Lost Impact requires a Grass, a Psychic, and a Colorless Energy, and you have to put 2 Energy attached to your Pokémon in the Lost Zone. And yet somehow Giratina VSTAR’s other attack, Star Requiem, is a bit more difficult to use, as it requires you to have at least 10 cards in the Lost Zone. The effort is worth it, however: Star Requiem will Knock Out any Pokémon in the game, even the bulkiest of Pokémon VMAX. In addition to its strong attacks, Giratina VSTAR’s 280 HP and its lack of Weakness make it difficult to Knock Out.
2Boss’s Orders (Cyrus)
4Battle VIP Pass
4Scoop Up Net
The main question when building a Giratina VSTAR deck is obvious: How do we get enough Energy into play to support the Lost Impact attack? We have options from other recent expansions, like Arceus VSTAR or Gardenia’s Vigor, but for this deck, there’s a clear choice when you want to use Giratina VSTAR’s own VSTAR Power.
The Lost Zone Engine
Sword & Shield—Lost Origin introduces a number of cards centered around the Lost Zone mechanic. Some of them put cards into the Lost Zone; others have powerful effects that are usable only when you have a certain number of cards there. Giratina VSTAR is unique in that it does both—its Lost Impact attack fills the Lost Zone with Energy, and its Star Requiem VSTAR Power is an incredible attack that can be used once 10 of your cards are there.
As we’ll soon see, the most important payoff card for the Lost Zone engine—and the way we power up our Giratina VSTAR with Energy—is the Mirage Gate Item card. Most of the deck’s strategy is based around being able to use this card as effectively as possible. But first we need to get at least 7 cards in the Lost Zone.
Our two main ways of adding cards to the Lost Zone are Comfey with its Flower Selecting Ability and the Colress’s Experiment Supporter card. Comfey allows you to look at the top 2 cards of your deck each turn, adding 1 to your hand and sending the other to the Lost Zone. Colress’s Experiment digs even deeper by looking at the top 5 cards of your deck, adding 3 to your hand and sending 2 to the Lost Zone. During the first few turns of the game, we want to use them as often as possible to achieve this goal. Since both of them are great setup cards, they also help in building up our ideal board state of multiple Giratina VSTAR in play and a few Mirage Gate in hand.
Since we want to alternate among multiple Comfey to use each one’s Ability, the deck must include a lot of switching cards like Switch, Escape Rope, or Air Balloon. If you don’t find an Air Balloon early enough, you can retreat Comfey by attaching an Energy to it. However, thanks to the power of Mirage Gate, manual Energy attachments aren’t as important as they were in similar decks in the past. The most important card to use in combination with Comfey is Scoop Up Net. This Item card moves Comfey out of the Active Spot and even allows its Ability to be used again during the same turn if you put it back into play!
In addition to multiple Flower Selecting Abilities, we want to use Colress’s Experiment as soon as possible. With a good opening, it’s possible to get to 7 cards in the Lost Zone and use Mirage Gate as early as the second turn. Because of how important it is to consistently find Colress’s Experiment, we are playing a Lumineon V that can search Supporter cards out of the deck with its Luminous Sign Ability. Remember that since the deck includes Water Energy, we can also use Lumineon V’s Aqua Return attack to send this Pokémon back to the deck! Aqua Return might do only 120 damage, but stopping the opponent from taking 2 easy Prize cards can be very important. Having that option makes Lumineon V even better here than it is in most other decks.
One additional option for filling the Lost Zone is Giratina V’s Abyss Seeking attack. It’s not going to come up in every single game, but it's a useful option to have, especially during your first turn when going second.
Cramorant & Sableye
Mirage Gate and Giratina VSTAR are not the only key cards that can fill the Lost Zone. Cramorant is a Basic Pokémon that attacks for free if you have at least 4 cards in the Lost Zone, which can be achieved as early as the first turn. We can also use Cramorant as the first attacker to draw an easy Prize card while setting up Giratina VSTAR on the Bench.
Our second (and arguably even stronger) Basic Pokémon attacker is Sableye. With a requirement of 10 cards in the Lost Zone, it will take a few turns until we are able to use its Lost Mine attack. Lost Mine is well worth the wait, however—placing 12 damage counters on the opponent’s Pokémon in any way is an incredibly powerful effect. Since placing damage counters is considered an attack effect, it can’t even be stopped by the popular Manaphy from Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars!
Sableye has a lot of different applications. When playing against a deck with low-HP Pokémon like Sobble from Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign, Sableye can take two KOs at once. In other situations, it might be used to set up the exact damage needed for your other Pokémon to take Knock Outs during following turns. If you were short by a few damage counters during a prior attack, it can also finish a KO while targeting other Pokémon at the same time. Sableye is truly an amazing card and one of my favorite parts of the deck.
Due to their usefulness, almost every deck should include a Radiant Pokémon. In the Giratina VSTAR deck, the already-popular Radiant Greninja is the perfect fit. Since we naturally want to play a high number of Energy, its Concealed Cards Ability should almost always be usable for some extra draw power. It also synergizes very nicely with the hand-building nature of the Lost Zone engine: we want to dig as deep as possible into the deck to find multiple Mirage Gate cards to use later, so drawing 2 additional cards per turn can help a lot.
Besides its role as a draw engine, Radiant Greninja is also an excellent attacker. It’s important to remember that Mirage Gate can be used on any Pokémon, not just Giratina VSTAR! With that level of Energy acceleration, we can set up a Moonlight Shuriken attack completely out of nowhere and terrify an opponent.
The best counter against Radiant Greninja’s attack is Manaphy, but as mentioned previously, we have an easy way of dealing with it in the form of Sableye. Knocking Out a Benched Manaphy with the Lost Mine attack while getting a Radiant Greninja ready is a powerful play that puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. The flexibility this adds to the Giratina VSTAR deck can hardly be overstated. Thanks to Radiant Greninja and Sableye, the deck isn’t just excellent at Knocking Out whatever is in the Active Spot with Giratina VSTAR, but it also has ways to take multiple Prizes at once by targeting smaller Pokémon.
Because Radiant Greninja burns through a lot of Energy, I’ve included two copies of Ordinary Rod to shuffle those Energy back into the deck, where they can be found by Mirage Gate. Ordinary Rod is also great for reusing our Sableye, Cramorant, or Radiant Greninja after they’ve been Knocked Out. Energy Recycler would be another option, and it could recover even more Energy, but Ordinary Rod should be good enough. I’ve also added a single Training Court, a card that works well in combination with Radiant Greninja and gives you a way to remove an opponent’s Stadium card from play.
Finalizing the Deck List
So far, we have talked about Lost Zone-related cards and the Radiant Greninja package, but we still need some generic Trainer cards to tie this deck together. For this, cards that search for Pokémon are crucial. In this deck, I’ve found Battle VIP Pass to be very effective. We can go through a lot of cards during the first turn thanks to Comfey, Radiant Greninja, and Colress’s Experiment, so finding a Battle VIP Pass is not unlikely. After your first turn, you can simply use Comfey or Colress’s Experiment to put it into the Lost Zone whenever you see an extra copy of it, so the downside of not being able to use it anymore is rather negligible.
For the remaining search cards, a split among Quick Ball, Ultra Ball, and Capture Energy makes the most sense. Capture Energy is great because it acts as an Energy attachment for Lost Impact and can be discarded with Concealed Cards, but it’s less flexible than a Quick Ball that can be used at any time. Ultra Ball is the least useful of the three, but it does give us an additional way of finding Giratina VSTAR, which can be a struggle with this deck.
Since we always want to use Colress’s Experiment during the first few turns, the deck doesn’t include any traditional Supporter cards with draw power. However, we do play a couple of strong late-game options in Boss’s Orders and Roxanne—two cards that can be a deciding factor in a win or a loss. Don’t be afraid to put one of them into the Lost Zone if you see them early in the game, however: this deck plays two copies of each card so that you can do so.
One very important aspect to keep in mind when playing this deck is that even though it is built around Giratina VSTAR, you don’t need to use that Pokémon in every single game. Lost Impact is a very strong attack against Pokémon V, but it’s inefficient against decks that rely on Pokémon that give up only a single Prize card when Knocked Out. Remember that there are numerous other attacking options if you play against those kinds of decks!
One of those options is Giratina V itself. When unevolved, it can do 160 damage, which cannot match up well against other Pokémon V but can just Knock Out almost any popular single-Prize Pokémon. Using Giratina V in combination with Sableye, Cramorant, Radiant Greninja, Ordinary Rod to recover all of them, and Lumineon V, it is possible to take all six Prize cards without ever evolving into Giratina VSTAR. Always adapt to the Pokémon your opponent is using, and try to find the most efficient attack for the situation.
The myriad options and decisions the deck presents might be a bit intimidating at first, but I promise learning the ins and outs will be worth it!
I’ve kept the deck list rather focused on consistency, but there are a few tech cards you could include to make it stronger against specific strategies or counters.
One of the biggest obstacles when playing a deck like this is Empoleon V. Its Emperor’s Eyes Ability shuts down Comfey’s Flower Selecting Ability, making it very difficult to get going. Escape Rope can push Empoleon V back to the Bench, but many players have started playing a second Empoleon V for that very reason.
If playing against Empoleon V is frustrating, I would recommend including a few Path to the Peak, which blocks its Ability. It does also stop our own Radiant Greninja, but being able to use Comfey is more important. On top of that, it’s a useful comeback card in many matchups when combined with a well-timed Roxanne. It’s also an answer to Radiant Gardevoir, a card that can prevent Giratina VSTAR from Knocking Out other Pokémon VSTAR.
Another potential inclusion is Tool Jammer, a Tool card that can be used both offensively and defensively, as it blocks the effects of Big Charm and Choice Belt. If you want to make the deck more unpredictable, you could include Thorton, who can be used to set up a Giratina VSTAR in a single turn!
Overall, I’m a big fan of this deck and would highly recommend trying it out for yourself. It is very flexible and doesn’t have any big weaknesses, which can inspire a lot of close (and fun!) games.
For more Pokémon TCG strategy and analysis, visit Pokemon.com/Strategy.
Robin Schulz is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He has been competing in Pokémon tournaments for 10 years and was the Pokémon TCG Masters Division World Champion in 2018. He spends a lot of time traveling and competing, and he rarely misses a big event. Aside from playing Pokémon, he attends university, where he is studying mathematics.