A skeleton list is an incomplete deck list that highlights 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. This allows players to ultimately develop a better understanding of the competitive value of the cards in their deck. It prevents players from “netdecking”: taking the complete 60 card decklist of someone else’s tournament deck and replicating it.
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.
We examined two of the most successful decks since Sun and Moon were released for competitive play. We then compared each deck’s 60 card list that placed highly at the Oceania International Challenge and at Regional events worldwide. The following are the resulting skeleton lists for Vespiquen and Yveltal/Garbodor (in the standard competitive format).
Note: The player’s full deck list can be accessed externally by clicking on the player’s name.
The Vespiquen deck is designed to rapidly discard Pokémon and manipulate typing through the abilities of the Ancient Origins Eeveelutions, in order to increase the power of Vespiquen’s Bee Revenge attack. Using Vespiquen, Jeffrey Cheng placed in the top 4 at Anaheim Regionals, and Rahul Reddy placed in the top 8 at the same event. With this deck, Rahul Reddy also placed in the Top 4 at the Puerto Rico Special Event, where Hector Hoyos used it to place 2nd. Each of the decks had these 46 cards in common:
|4 Combee||4 Professor Sycamore||4 VS Seeker||4 Double Colourless|
|4 Vespiquen||2 N||4 Ultra Ball|
|2 Zorua||2 Lysandre||3 Acro Bike|
|2 Zoroark||2 Special Charge|
|3 Shaymin EX||1 Float Stone|
|1 Mew EX|
Things to note:
- 3/4 of the decks played 2 Eevee, 1 Ancient Origins Jolteon and 1 Ancient Origins Vaporeon. At the Puerto Rico Special Event, Rahul and Hector also played 1 Ancient Origins Flareon.
- 3/4 of the decks played 1 Oranguru, 1 Tauros GX, a 2nd Float Stone, a 4th Acro Bike, at least 1 Revitaliser, and 2 Forest of Giant Plants.
- From Anaheim Regionals to the Puerto Rico Special Event, Rahul Reddy only changed one card in his deck. He replaced an Oranguru with an Ancient Origins Flareon.
The Yveltal/Garbodor deck is designed to shut off all abilities with Garbodor’s Garbotoxin, and accelerate energy onto Yveltal EX. This allows Yveltal EX to deal a large amount of damage or set up a two-hit knockout. With Yveltal/Garbodor, Igor Costa placed in the top 8 at Anaheim Regionals, and Marc Lutz placed in the top 16 at Malmö Regionals. At the Puerto Rico Special Event, Michael Canaves piloted Yveltal/Garbodor to a top 8 finish, and Tristan Macek won the event. Each of the decks had these 52 cards in common:
|3 Yveltal EX||4 Professor Sycamore||4 VS Seeker||9 Dark|
|1 Yveltal BKT94||2 N||4 Ultra Ball||4 Double Colourless|
|1 Shaymin EX||2 Lysandre||4 Max Elixir|
|2 Trubbish||3 Fighting Fury Belt|
|1 Garbodor||3 Float Stone|
|2 Trainer’s Mail|
|1 Super Rod|
|2 Parallel City|
Things to note:
- Every deck played at least 1 additional Pokémon from a selection of Tauros GX, Mewtwo (from Evolutions) or Hoopa EX.
- The 2 decks that included Tauros GX also ran 1 Ninja Boy. The 2 decks that did not include Tauros GX, included 1 Professor Kukui.
- Every deck ran between 21 and 24 Item cards. As indicated by the skeleton list, 21 of these item cards were the same for all the decks.
Now that you have the bones of these two popular decks, make them your own! Play a variety of tech Supporter cards like Marc Lutz, or go against the grain with some unconventional Item cards like Jeffrey Cheng did.
This article is part of a weekly series for competitive Pokémon Trading Card Game players. Never miss an article! Follow me on Twitter here. You can find commentated matches featuring some of these decks at my Youtube channel here.
Thank you to all the players for sharing their deck lists.