A skeleton list is an incomplete deck list that includes the essential or minimum number of cards necessary for a successful deck of that archetype.
Assuming that the creation of the skeleton list was influenced by proven 60 card lists, skeleton lists are useful for competitive TCG players for a variety of reasons:
- They provide players with an understanding of the core of a deck (and the bare minimum cards required to successfully pilot it)
- Allow players to add their own flavour or anti-meta techs to a deck, while still having some assurance of consistency
- Force players to add their own cards to the list. Why is this important? It promotes critical thinking about the inclusion or exclusion of cards, allowing players to ultimately develop a better understanding of the competitive value of the cards in their deck (compared to 60 card netdecking)
Semi-competitive, time poor, or casual players will call for lists like seagulls call for chips. Better players will look for skeleton lists and make them their own.
I have examined the deck lists of one of the most successful decks since Burning Shadows was released for competitive play- Gardevoir GX. I then compared the Gardevoir GX lists that placed in the top 16 at Hartford Regionals, Vancouver Regionals, and Bremen Regionals. The following is the resulting skeleton list for Gardevoir GX (in the standard competitive format).
Note: The player’s full deck list can be accessed by clicking on the player’s name. This will direct you to an external site.
Skeleton List for Gardevoir GX (Breakthrough to Burning Shadows)
The Gardevoir GX deck is designed to allow the set-up of multiple Gardevoir GX, and use Gardevoir GX’s Secret Spring ability to accelerate energy and maximise the damage of Infinity Force. During the 2017-2018 competitive season, Sam Chen used this deck to place in the top 4 at Hartford Regionals, Pablo Meza won Vancouver Regionals, Hale Obernolte placed 2nd at Vancouver Regionals, Mark Garcia placed in the top 4 of Vancouver Regionals, Oliver Barr placed in the top 8 of Vancouver Regionals, and Philipp Emmerich placed in the top 8 at Bremen Regionals. Each of their decks had these 50 cards in common:
|4 Ralts* BUS||3 Professor Sycamore||4 Ultra Ball||8 Fairy|
|2 Kirlia BUS||3 N||4 Rare Candy||4 Double Colourless|
|3 Gardevoir GX BUS||3 Guzma||2 Choice Band|
|1 Gallade BKT||1 Brigette||2 Field Blower|
|1 Remoraid BKT|
|1 Octillery BKT|
|3 Tapu Lele GX GRI|
*All players except Oliver Barr ran 4 x Ralts BUS 91. Oliver Barr ran 2 x Ralts BUS 91, 1 x Ralts BKT 100, and 1 x Ralts AOR 52.
Things to note:
In addition to the cards listed in the skeleton,
- All players included Pokemon that could use their attack to search the deck for additional Pokemon. All players included a 1-1 Sylveon GX line (at a minimum), except Phillipp Emmerich, who played 1 Alolan Vulpix and 1 Diancie.
- All players played 4 N, except Phillipp Emmerich, who played 3.
- All players except Mark Garcia and Hale Obernolte played at least 1 Acerola.
- 1/3 of players included 2 Float Stone, 1/3 played 1 Float Stone, 1/3 played 0 Float Stone
- Mark Garcia and Hale Obernolte were the two players who played 0 Float Stone. They were also the only two players to play any Max Potion. Both played 2.
- All players included at least 1 Pokemon Retrieval item card- Super Rod or Rescue Stretcher. Mark Garcia and Hale Obernolte played 1 Rescue Stretcher instead of 1 Super Rod. Phillipp Emmerich played both.
With these observations in mind, the skeleton list could be amended to include:
- 2 slots dedicated to Pokemon with attacks that search for Pokemon
- 1 slot dedicated to a Pokemon retrieval card
The European International Challenge is fast approaching, bringing with it the Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion expansions to the competitive standard format. It will be interesting to see the new decks that emerge, and whether Gardevoir GX will maintain its dominance (and how it will appear).
Keen to see the deck in action? Check out the CoolTrainerTV livestream of the Burning Shadows Adelaide League Cup, which features Gardevoir GX (piloted by Jordan Palmer) and Golisopod GX/ Garbodor (piloted by Steven Filiposki).
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