Messing with Gothitelle: Techs and Matchup Tips

The current format is wide-open. There are a huge number of decks running successfully around the world. The BDIF has not truly been decided, as the current spread of decks sees most decks suffering a mix of good and bad matchups. If any deck is to be crowned the best-in-show, it would probably be one that carries the dragons as primary attackers. The main suspects are TZPS (Tornadus-Zekrom-Pachirisu-Shaymin) and Reshiphlosion/boar, both of which have astonishing damage outputs of 120 raw damage, on Basics, no less. This damage can be thrown out on turn 2 very often, or even turn 1. This is supplemented by the Trainers PlusPower and Pokemon Catcher, which allow Dragons to OHKO each other and hit benched ‘mons respectively, making very few Pokemon safe. Anything that needs to evolve might not last the turn it needs to enable evolution. So, how does a deck with a Stage-2 as its main force manage to counter the two big decks? Let’s talk a bit about Gothitelle.

Right, Gothitelle. Gothitelle is, in case you hadn’t heard, a deck that locks Trainers. What’s unique about it is that it’s a one-sided lock, leaving you free to throw down Trainers while your opponent fills their hand with unusable Catchers, Rare Candy and Communication. The deck runs with either Reuniclus (see below) or Electrode (or both, in rare cases). Electrode aims for speed, accelerating the deck with the Twins engine and energy acceleration all at once, while Reuniclus makes Gothitelle into a powerful tank. The latter is what I consider to be a more competitive deck (read: less luck-based), so this is an overview of the deck, specifically its tech options and brief spiels on its matchups against the decks any competitive player might come up against.

Gothitelle has 130HP. This is half of the reason why it is as good as it is, the other half being the aforementioned Trainer locking. Funnily enough, either attribute as a standalone is alright, but not amazing. Together, however, they manage to wall the vast majority of the format, stopping Stage 1s, a good number of Stage 2s, and most importantly, the fearsome Dragons, from knocking Goth out in one-shot. While there are ways to surmount this, Gothitelle is able to play around them, making it a powerful tanking deck. One-shotting, however, is a moment away from two-shotting. This is where Reuniclus comes in. Reuniclus allows you to move your damage across the board freely. In essence, you can shift all the damage away from your Gothitelle and make it so it can tank another powerful hit the next turn, all the while pounding away with Gothitelle’s own attack. It’s a solid concept, and the deck has won a reasonable number of Battle Roads. It will likely have a solid presence until the EXs come out, even with the release of Rocky Helmet in Noble Victories.

Building Gothitelle

Now, a decklist. Most decklists will be fairly fleshed out, but I’m just going to offer the bare bones of what I think a reasonably successful Gothitelle deck will always contain.

Skeleton List
Pokemon – 15 T/S/S – 24 Energy – 10
4-1-3 Gothitelle EP
3-1-2 Reuniclus BW
1 Baby (Pichu or Cleffa)
4 Pokemon Communication
4 Rare Candy
2 Junk Arm
4 Pokemon Collector
6 Draw Supporters
3 Twins
1 Tropical Beach
8 Psychic
2 Double Colourless

49 Cards Total

4 Gothita is for maximum chance of starting with one and general anti-donk. I use #43 for Hypnotising Gaze and the possibility of donking babies. Gothorita #46 is for decent damage output. Deleting Glare isn’t as important in the current format, but it’s there. 3 Solosis is to make sure you can get 2 onto the bench. Gothitelle wants the trainer lock up fast, meaning max Rare Candy, which in turn means fewer Stage 1s is a viable choice. Babies are cheap fuel for your Twins engine.

The T/S/S lines are very standard. Tropical Beach makes Gothitelle so much better that I consider it a staple (you can play it without, but you need to sacrifice a lot of space for consistency Supporters). 2 Junk Arm is what I consider the minimum in any successful deck, 3 is even better.

The energy lines probably need to be fleshed out a little, but this is the bare minimum.

This is a very standard skeleton and can be teched out in a number of ways. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Pokemon Techs 

Dragons (Zekrom)

Zekrom is placed in for a few reasons. The first is that he is a hefty basic (searchable with Collector and Pichu) that can soak up a ridiculous amount of damage. The second is that he helps alleviate the weaknesses you have to Yanmega and Water decks (more the former than the latter). A Zekrom with four damage counters on it knocks out Yanmega with a DCE (this situation may be hard to come by against a good Yanmega/Magnezone player though). I personally play 2 Zekrom in my deck.

Reshiram is another option, but frankly, he offers nothing Zekrom cannot except coverage on Steel types and the Grass types that don’t really matter. He is better against Donphan Prime than Zekrom is, but Donphan has problems with Gothitelle anyway.

Another Gothorita/Duosion

This is an option if your area is Vileplume-heavy. If they fling out a T2 Vileplume and your only Gothorita is prized, you’re in a bit of trouble. Even though my area had an absurd amount of Ross.dec, I didn’t bother with this and did alright against every Ross.dec I played, barring the one with Krookodile. It’s also quite helpful against MewLock and opposing Gothitelle, but the former is basically an autoloss that comes with playing Goth and beating other Gothitelle is more about outplaying than teching in another Stage 1.

4 Gothitelle

If you know how to play the deck, 2 Gothitelle is the absolute most you will ever pull out in a normal game. If the game isn’t normal and the opponent has something to bypass the 130 HP barrier, a third may be necessary. I consider 4 overkill, but it does improve the chances of drawing into one early and reduces the possibility you’ll have one Gothitelle too many in your prizes. You might argue more Gothitelles equals more damage sponges, but I think Dragons and/or Blissey Prime do the job just fine.

More babies

Pichu is a great baby to start with and is generally played in most Gothitelle decks, but opponents are now smart enough to know not to kill him off instantly. After the initial Playground, he’s not going to be helpful to you at all. I would suggest putting a Cleffa or even a Tyrogue/Elekid in to create a more tempting target for your opponents. Tyrogue is always good for the donk chance anyway, while Cleffa is just a decent Pokemon in general. Elekid is an interesting one to experiment with, as 20 damage on any Pokemon is more often than not helpful (especially against Reshiram and Typhlosion). Magby is another possibility if you want to disrupt PokePower use (Typhlosion, Blastoise, Magnezone). I prefer a 1/1 split between Pichu and Cleffa.


Manaphy is a decent play in decks like TZPS, where energy can be moved, or Reshiphlosion, where energy is recycled and a dropped energy doesn’t really matter, but in my opinion the only thing it brings to Gothitelle over Cleffa is the added safeguard against T1 donks and three more damage counters worth of sponging. Not only that, Gothitelle often needs every single energy it can get, and tossing one onto Manaphy can be frustrating.


Gothitelle is a deck that desperately needs draw support fast to play to its full potential. Smeargle improves the chances of that throughout the game, or at least until you draw into a Tropical Beach. I prefer Cleffa, as it is a juicier-looking prize, but Smeargle isn’t a bad choice either. Be wary of Portrait-ing Junipers though.


A tech I’ve seen floating about but never encountered in an actual tournament. Serperior has obvious synergy with Reuniclus in terms of damage management and removal. It makes the opponent’s job slightly harder, and playing it down can cause some players to scoop immediately. The trouble is getting it out. With two Stage 2s already sitting about, you’ll be hard-pressed to get this out early. Luckily for you, the Twins engine and patient pace of Gothitelle on the whole make this a viable tech regardless, and you can supplement your early damage sponging with Max Potion or simply knocking out your benched Pokemon to open up more room. If you’re really lucky, you can nab the pieces by using Cleffa over and over while counting on opponents not attacking for fear of Twins. A tech to consider in any build of Gothitelle, though hardly an essential one. Play a 2/1/2 line if anything, preferably with the promo blister Snivy (Paralysing Gaze).

Blissey Prime

A good play in any deck with Reuniclus. Blissey Prime helps tremendously in a number of situations, and can even serve as a backup attacker and sponge. Its advantage over Max Potion and Seeker/SSU is that it is searchable through more than just Twins, as well as the obvious greater capacity for healing. A 1/1 isn’t a bad idea if you can afford the space. Anything over that isn’t recommended, because Chansey is a pretty bad starter (2 retreat, though it does have the T1 DCE 20 damage).

Electrode Prime

Electrode Prime is for the gamblers out there. It has actually proven itself to the point where putting Voltorb on the bench no longer topples laughing opponents from their chairs. This is serious energy acceleration, and lends itself to a ‘speed Gothitelle’ build. You did remember Gothitelle has no damage cap, right? Electrode is very helpful in the mirror match, as well as against any deck which cannot set up a strong attacker in one or two turns. If you can get even one or two extra Psychic energy on Gothitelle, you’ll have a huge advantage, as you not only have Trainer lock active, but also have a powerhouse rattling out 90 or even more damage long before you should.

Do remember that this is also a helpful card for recovery situations. Suddenly having an attacking Gothitelle a turn after losing your last is quite demoralising (for your opponent, not you). On the other hand, if you whiff the energy and happen to discard 3 Twins, 2 Max Potions and your only Tropical Beach, then you’re in a bit of a pickle. A surprisingly good tech that gives you some oomph at any point in the game.

Jirachi (and Shaymin)

Jirachi is an interesting Pokemon that helps you against T2 Stage 2s. Of note are Vileplume and Gothitelle itself, as well as Magnezone, Emboar and Typhlosion. Jirachi is also a form of energy acceleration and recovery in the same Pokemon. While it is very luck-based, it is one of only a couple viable ways to accelerate Psychic energy. Shaymin is needed if you intend to make use of the acceleration element. I don’t like this method myself, purely because running more than a 1/1 line of each is wasteful and running Super Scoop Up or more than 1 Seeker is in my opinion rather questionable as well. It does come in handy sometimes, but be wary of that tech Pokemon start. I wouldn’t play Shaymin without Jirachi, by the way.


I’m talking about the Poltergeist Mismagius. The problem with Missy here is that it has to be active to do anything, which means they won’t be locked the next turn and will be free to play all the Trainers that bound them the previous term. I wouldn’t bother, but do keep in mind the huge damage potential this thing has. Misdreavus (Double Draw) is also an ok starter.


Bellsprout’s first attack is essentially Catcher for [C]. Only worth mentioning if you have nothing but Ross.dec and Gothitelle in your area. It’s more viable here than in most decks because being a free prize is often an asset rather than a shortcoming, but it’s still not stupendously viable. Carnivine isn’t too different, but it has a retreat cost of 2 (but a nicer HP cap of 80), which makes it worse on the whole. Drowzee suffers from the same issues (and sleep is inconsistent at best), as well as requiring [P] instead of [C], which can be a crucial energy you want on your Gothitelle (depending on the energy you run).

Dodrio/Metagross UL

These give you free retreat. It’s not that free retreat is bad, but instead that you shouldn’t ever need to retreat so much that you’d put Dodrio in. Catcher is already mitigated by Gothitelle, and a DCE or two should help with Bellsprouts bringing up your Reuniclus.

Donphan Prime

Play this with Rainbow Energy. It’s early game firepower and allows you to prioritise Reuniclus over Gothitelle, knowing that Twins can nab you the Goth pieces once you Damage Swap a baby/Solosis to death. It also skews the Tyranitar matchup back in your favour – it would have been unfavourable or at best even before that. A surprising option. Confuses people into thinking you’re playing Ross.dec :P


Afrobull gets an obligatory mention in any deck running DCE. The potential of an easy DCE drop and revenge kill on Zekrom (sans Defender), Mew, Gothorita or RDL is always nice to have, though I wouldn’t run it myself.

Palkia-Dialga Legend

Hahahahaha…gets rid of those pesky Vileplume. Archeops too, except he doesn’t exist yet. Your opponent might time out from laughing too much at the sight of this on your bench.

Do remember that even if a Pokemon seems playable in Gothitelle, it may not be an appropriate play. Tornadus, for example, can often power up T2 with appropriate Twins’ing for energy, but it’s a Pokemon that takes prizes quickly and efficiently early on, which isn’t what Gothitelle aims for in the long run.

T/S/S Techs

Now to look at the Trainer/Supporter/Stadium options.


Trainers first. There are lots of Trainer options you can play in Gothitelle. I personally like a moderate Trainer count at most, because Ross is common in my area and Gothitelle is always a threat (and those damned Teddiursa, of course). Here are some of the possibilities for your Trainer lines.

More Junk Arm

The reasoning for more Junk Arm is essentially the combination of every Trainer card in the skeleton and below. It’s that good of a card. While you may not instantly think it’s amazing, it will deliver, and when it does, you will be glad. I would say this is a big reason why the current BDIFs (Mostly TZPS and Reshiphlosion) are as great as they are. I would start your decklist with 4 of these and cut down as you see fit, but that’s just me.

Max Potion

I consider this a nigh-mandatory card in a Gothitelle deck, though you can make do with Blissey Prime if need be. Max Potion, in conjunction with Junk Arm, is rage fuel for your opponent. Seeing the damage they stacked up vanish neatly from the board is irritating at best, depressing at worst. You’ll mostly be using these on Zekrom and benched Gothitelle/Reuniclus. I would play 2, supplemented by 2 or 3 Junk Arm, but it’s up to you, especially if you like Blissey Prime and/or Seeker or have a meta with rafflesias (Vileplumes) and Teddiursas ^(^w^)^ everywhere.

Pokemon Catcher

While some people don’t even consider running a deck without Catcher (Vileplume excluded, of course), Gothitelle is one of those decks where it’s merely an option. This is a deck that prioritises setup over disruption or quick kills, but Catcher is still a very viable option in the deck as a 2-of (or 1-of, if you’re running lots of Junk Arm). Adding to the viability is the opponent’s inability to play Switch. During early game, Catchering up an Emboar, Magnezone or high-retreater can weaken your opponent’s setup considerably. Come lategame, Gothitelle will often want to take cheap prizes anyway, and any benched threat can be taken care of quickly. It’s a good card in general and I play 2 of them in my build. More is also a possibility, because sometimes Gothitelle has to fight in the early-game prize race, but I think 2 is a good number.


Mainly to get dragons and sleeping babies out of the active. I would not play this as more than a one-of, though you might consider 2 or more if you have certain techs.

Energy Retrieval

Gothitelle can often find itself short on energy, so Energy Retrieval can be helpful to grab back Psychics you discarded to retreat or lost with your first Goth. I would not run more than one of these, but it’s definitely an option. What’s more notable is that this broadens your options for techs – Bellsprout, Shaymin and Manaphy become more viable, for example. I think this is a better option than Jirachi or Fisherman.

Dual Ball

I prefer Collector myself for any number of reasons (generally because I flip too many heads when I don’t need them, and nowhere near enough when I do), but this is, as always, an option as a mini-Collector.


Not that useful in Gothitelle. Most important things have odd numbers of HP and Gothitelle hits odd numbers naturally, meaning you either get the kill or need 2+ PP to do so. It’s viable for dragon/Elekid/Gothita donks on babies, as well as the one heads to donk a Mew/opposing Gothita (as opposed to two).


As far as I’m concerned, these two play the same role in a set-up Gothitelle, and considering them for any other purpose feels silly. Potion is slightly better, though I wouldn’t bother with either to be quite honest. Defender stops Tyranitar and 110+ damage Dragons from one-shotting you, and that’s about it. To put it another way, Gothitelle works because it tanks with or without Defender.

PokeGear 3.0

A consistency option in every deck. Some swear by it, I just run extra Supporters and make do with that. 1 or 2 if any.

Research Record

Play this with Electrode or don’t bother. It’s that simple. You might also consider this if Cheren is a Supporter of choice.

Victory Cup/Victory Medal

Dazzle your opponents into forfeiting: you’ve placed high at a BATTLE ROADS, they stand NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER. Victory Medal can occasionally be fun if you have the room.


Now let’s talk Supporters (and Stadiums, given there is just the one stadium you should consider at all). Draw Supporters are the big question. There are heaps of ways to run your draw supporters. I’ll list a few of them and their use in Gothitelle specifically, as well as the other Supporters you might think of using.

Shuffle-draw – PONT, Copycat

This option is nice because you won’t ever waste cards, and your desperation for maximising draw potential isn’t anywhere near that of TZPS. Copycat is particularly viable in the deck for two reasons. The first is that locked opponents amass large-ish hands. The second is that Tropical Beach can compensate for poor Copycats.

Discard-draw – Juniper

It’s hard to argue Juniper is objectively better than PONT, but the option is there if you want a slightly thinner deck and feel you can potentially lose a few resources. It’s honestly a question of personal taste here, both are powerful cards. You might argue that Tropical Beach makes PONT into a pseudo-Juniper anyway, but the extra card isn’t the only reason people run Juniper. At the same time, that extra card is great, and losing your attack to use Beach at a key point can hurt.

Adding to the hand – Sage’s, Cheren

Sage’s digs deeper, Cheren gets you that extra card. Discarding can be huge or a non-issue, and I really like Sage’s myself, so I’m recommending it over Cheren. Cheren is by no means a bad card though, and one Beach-less build is to run Judge and Cheren/Team Rocket’s Trickery to slow down opponents even further.

Disruptive Draw – Judge, Team Rocket’s Trickery

I’m only listing these here to discourage anyone with access to Tropical Beach from using them. Otherwise you can go nuts, even add in a Weavile line (free retreat, yay).

More Twins

Twins is great, and I run 4. Not because I feel like I’ll use all of them, but because it improves the chances of drawing into one unaided. Having one early makes you feel much better about exposing babies and Solosis to those angry dragon(flie)s, elephants and Tyrogues.


I like to run 1 in my list, as it serves as a Max Potion under Trainer lock (for Zekrom and basics, not Gothitells/Reuniclus). You could argue to play more, but I don’t see it, especially because these generally cannot be used the same turn they are searched (Pokegear maybe). I considered a list with 3 Beach and 4 Tyrogue, 4 Pluspower/Junk Arm and 4 Seeker for donks, which was amusing but a pretty bad idea.

Black Belt

It has the same activation requirement as Twins, so it should be great, right? I find that you’ll be using this to knock out a threat, which means taking a prize. This can be an unnecessary problem to subject yourself to. Knocking out a dragon two turns earlier than expected is tempting, but I wouldn’t put this in unless you’re running Electrode. Note: 90 + 40 is 130, which is a very, very nice number in this format. One possibility is running a single copy for the mirror and specific situations, using your last copy of Twins to nab it.

Professor Elm’s Training Method

This is an option if your area is heavy on Trainer lock, but if you run your deck consistently you might not even need it. I was getting T2 Gothitelles pretty often and my area is swarming with Trainer lock, as I’ve probably mentioned a few times. Adding to that, Twins is a more effective engine than Elm’s. I believe you should play 2 if you play any.

Interviewer’s Questions/Fisherman

Energy support cards. They can be very helpful. One-ofs are viable because you can Twins for them.

More Beach

If you have access to more than one Beach, consider playing it. Two or even three will almost guarantee swift early/mid-game setup for you, while your opponent suffers from an inability to play Trainers and thus a large hand, stopping them from truly abusing Tropical Beach. I recommend two.

Ruins of Alph

I mention this because I am a huge fan of Tyranitar Prime and want people to remember he exists and is a scary green dinosaur. Also mildly helpful for Zoroark, though it’s not as if Zoroark is going to be hurting you anytime soon (I have had Zoroarks use Nasty Plot – you know, the other attack it has – instead of Foul Play against my Gothitelle).


Self-explanatory section. 10 Energy, as shown in the skeleton, feels a tad low, so you can buff that up to 12 or even 14 or so.

More Psychic

My preferred option. Psychic is more important to draw into at basically every point in the game. Every Psychic is a permanent double Pluspower. You want this.

More DCE

DCE fuels dragons and early Gothitelle/Gothorita/Gothita attacks. An arguably more important use is covering the 2 retreat cost all your major Pokemon have. In the case you have two energy to sacrifice (Psychic and DCE), the DCE is almost always the one to go. It’s not that DCE is bad, but instead that Psychic is generally better here.

Rainbow Energy

Rainbow is good if you’re running some techs, but otherwise there is little to no point in running them. You get damage to manipulate, but it’s one counter per energy, and you need to drop one for three turns to activate Twins AND have Reuniclus active, unless you enjoy wasting three turns of energy dropping. Another use is powering up Zekrom for Bolt Strike or a stronger Outrage (or Reshiram, I guess).

Rescue Energy

This is a fairly good play for use with Zekrom. Zekrom will likely have no significance in a match bar damage sponging and the very occasional temper tantrum, so letting Zekrom get knocked out and placing it back down is like a Max Potion, but with the downside/upside of having your opponent grab a prize. It’s worth a look at the very least.

Lightning Energy

If you’re set on Bolt Striking, go for it. Energy Search might be an option here, or Interviewer’s. Fire Energy for Blue Flare isn’t quite as good an idea, since you can’t retrieve or accelerate the energy efficiently.

That wraps up almost every competitive option (and some non-competitive ones) for Gothitelle decks. This is by no means a compendium on cards allowed in Gothitelle. If you want to try Xatu, Weavile, Noctowl, Slowking (Prime?) or any of the flippy Trainers I haven’t mentioned, go for it. Most cards are fairly viable with the correct support, but I feel I’ve covered the good majority of Gothitelle tech-ins and staples.

Matchup Tips

The matchups will be fairly brief summaries – the best knowledge you can get is by playtesting, so I’m going to strongly recommend you do this, even if it’s just against yourself over Redshark or something. Knowledge of the other decks and various cards is assumed to a reasonable extent. I’ll add in tips from the losing deck’s perspective on particular things to look out for/attempt.

Another thing, I hate matchup ratios. I play fighters, so I know that when somebody says ’60-40 matchup’, they can mean one of several things, and the whole point of using numbers (give universal meaning to matchups and allow quantified calculation of a chart/tier list) is then ruined or leads to strangely questionable rankings. I’ll be using subjective description in their place: Autowin, Advantage and Even.

Universal ways Gothitelle can lose:
  1. Damage flooding – be very careful of this, Gothitelle setups are not invincible. Keep track of your resources, including the dragons/basics you have in your deck for sponging and the number of healing cards you have access to.
  2. Only half the combo – your deck runs Gothitelle AND Reuniclus. Having only Gothitelle isn’t very dangerous, and having only Reuniclus is downright laughable (for the most part anyway, Stage 1s still can’t get past it without Cinccino or a double Pluspower :P ). Have two Gothita and two Solosis out ASAP to protect yourself from being left Solosis-less, or worse, without a Gothita.
  3. Donk – Gothitelle has it worse than most, with higher-than-average baby counts and plentiful Solosis. While Solosis can Cell Culture to avoid the donk, that only works if you go first. Tyrogue is a hateful foe indeed.
  4. Timing out – Gothitelle is a come-from-behind deck. Make sure you can get the win on time by learning what decisions to make and becoming able to make them automatically. This can only be done with some good experience.
  5. Sudden Death – this is not good for Goth. You’ll have to rely on either a dragon or Gothita start for a T2 Goth or Outrage, neither of which is really ideal. Don’t even think about laying down babies or Solosis unless you have to/Solosis can win you the game.
  6. Bad luck – self-explanatory. Make your deck more consistent, I guess.
Techs to be wary of:
  1. Mew Prime – it’s possible they get an attacker in the Lost Zone. If they do, make sure Mew goes down quickly. Remember that Duosion and one of the Gothitas can OHKO Mew.
  2. Magby/Bellsprout – increasingly popular techs that burn Goth/lure up Reuniclus. There’s not much you can do since you can’t really prepare for this – pack more DCE so you can retreat more often, perhaps.
  3. Kingdra Prime – Applicable with Dragons, particularly in Reshiphlosion or MegaZones that manage to get out a Zekrom. Anyway, KILL THE HORSEA, CATCHER IT NOW.
  4. Darkrai Cresselia Legend – This is actually a concern. You can’t really do much about it since it can be thrown down in one turn, but seeing Rainbow Energy in, say, a Reshiphlosion should alert you to the potential threat. Heal off damage whenever possible, and make sure you never have more than 120 damage on the field at any time.
  5. Xatu – lol, just stand up and give them a pat on the back for being ballsy enough to do this. Then Catcher Natu. In the odd event it gets up and running, Zekrom helps.
  6. Black Belt – haha, just murder off your own 30 HP Pokemon. While you’ll never be a true Pokemon master for killing your own ‘mons, it gets the job done.



Advantage Gothitelle

If you haven’t yet played a Reshiphlosion, I’d say you haven’t played this game very long, or have a really wacky meta. Reshiphlosion is no threat to a set-up Gothitelle, as it can’t beat the damage cap of 130 and has no choice but to aim for fast prizes, which activates Twins. If you can quickly set up a Gothitelle with Reuniclus and have adequate support for it, you’ll be able to slowly build up energy and smack the opponent’s Typhlosions slowly but surely to oblivion.

The ways Reshiphlosion can win are:

  1. Stack damage on Reshiram with Afterburner until they can Outrage you – don’t you dare let this happen, kill their Typhlosions fast or Catcher up the Reshiram in question.
  2. Outrage in general – Don’t hit Reshiram into the 110-120 zone.
  3. Deprive you of energy using Flare Destroy repeatedly – again, kill Typhlosions, Cyndaquils and Quilavas. Ensure a consistent build with plenty of draw to replenish energy. If you’re concerned, Fisherman/Retrieval is a possible play.



Even/Advantage Reshiboar

Reshiboar is a steady deck that isn’t seeing as much play as Reshiphlosion, but it’s much more dangerous to Gothitelle. BadBoar breaches the damage cap. The idea here is simple: whoever sets up their two Stage 2s first will have an advantage. Gothitelle gets to stay in the game, Reshiboar has essentially won.

Tips on the matchup:

  1. Reshiram can be ignored if you can get your setup going. Catcher Tepigs and kill them before they become Big Bad Boars. Next priority is AbilityBoar, force them to expend resources retreating or attacking in vain, but only if the board is free of Tepigs and Pignites.
  2. Keep track of the energy in their discard – Reshiboar runs anywhere from 9 to 14 Fire on average, but 12 is a good number. Expect them to use Fisherman.



Advantage Gothitelle

The purported BDIF is dangerous indeed. It threatens with the turn 1 donk and gets steady damage from turn 2 onwards. Luckily, Gothitelle doesn’t really care for that and thrives off the quick kills with Twins and tanking. If you survive the donk and have a not-awful hand, this should be Gothitelle’s game.

The ways TZPS can win:

  1. Outrage with 110+ damage – don’t hit clean Zekroms with 4 Psychic attached. Also, for the love of God, do not allow them to Bolt Strike three times unmolested.
  2. Random techs – this is far more likely here than any other deck, as they can Shaymin energy around, often have retrieval and usually have some space for one-ofs. Be especially wary of Bellsprout and Magby here.



Advantage MegaZone

This is another contender for BDIF. It has dragon(flie)s too. The two components of the deck both happen to be dangerous for you. Yanmega can snipe Solosis, which means you don’t have as much control over what you sacrifice (ok, Catcher restricted this, but still…) and Sonicboom Gothitas away. Magnezone can one-shot Gothitelle and your dragons. You don’t get damage to manipulate due to all the OHKOs flying around. The one good thing is that Magnetic Draw’s efficiency is limited by the trainers clogging their hand, though Judge is always frustrating. You should also be wary of Jirachi.

The ways Gothitelle can win:

  1. Early active Gothitelle – this makes hand-size manipulation much harder for them, as they can’t Communicate or Junk Arm, and stops quick Candies into Magnezone/Kingdra (although Kingdra is very welcome, to be honest).
  2. Don’t allow Magnezone to hit the board – Catcher is your best bet. Early active Gothitelle helps heaps as well. Without a Magnezone, they’re limited to 70 damage a turn and infrequent sniping of any babies remaining on the field.
  3. Zekroms – Reuniclus and Zekrom together are fairly potent, taking into account Yanmega’s weakness. While you won’t have the lock going if Zekrom is attacking, it’s something to remember in a pinch.
  4. Get Tropical Beach down early – 7 cards is much harder to get than 6. While good players will be able to compensate for this, it helps alleviate the pressure from random Judge plays slightly. The downside is that you give them more to Copycat, and any time they can’t match hand-sizes they get some more draw. It’s still a huge boost in the early game.
  5. Deprive them of energy – This is a theoretically sound way to win. Don’t let 3 energy get onto the field. Gothorita can Deleting Glare them, or you can Crushing Hammer. Lost Remover gets rid of Rescue energies they might play. The problem is Pachirisu, which most good decklists will probably run. Another method is having them burn energy killing Dragons. This is very risky, given Catcher abounds and putting a Zekrom up won’t guarantee Magnezone will attack it.


Stage 1 Rush

Advantage Gothitelle

Stage 1 Rush throws Cinccino/Donphan, Yanmega and Zoroark into a deck and provides plenty of options to fight off other decks. It is a fast-hitting, versatile deck with consistent recovery and reasonable damage output. Luckily for Gothitelle, nothing in the deck is particularly scary to it, and the matchup should lie solidly in Gothitelle’s favour. I won’t lie, I’ve experienced nightmare games against Stage 1 Rush, but every time Goth comes out to play, Stage 1 Rush folds.

The ways Stage 1 Rush can win:

  1. Kill Solosis fast – Gothitelle without Reuniclus is just Trainer lock with meh damage output. Yanmega can snipe those Solosis rapidly, and even two might not be enough. Put more out and hope you draw into evolutionary pieces or Twins. Sometimes you should forgo the Twins chain in exchange for a Reuniclus, that’s how efficient Yanmega is.
  2. Teched Mew – particularly noteworthy here, a teched Mew or three can be a serious problem. Get rid of them quickly. Remember that Duosion and Gothorita can do it too, but be careful exposing them to dragonflies and elephants.
  3. Damaging a teched Dragon with Earthquake – same sort of thing as Reshiphlosion/TZPS. Don’t let this happen. Please.


Ross.dec/The Truth

Varies, from Advantage Gothitelle to Advantage Ross.dec

It’s exceedingly difficult to categorise all the Ross variants into one grouping. I’ve faced reasonably successful Machamp Prime builds that fold to Gothitelle, then faced random Krookodile builds that basically laugh at you, then go on to get a poor tournament record. Generally advantage Gothitelle, as Goth has no damage cap and there is no potent tank (excepting Tyranitar and possibly Machamp Prime/DCL/SRL) that poses a real threat to Goth.

The deck is too diverse to offer ways to win, so I’ll just list some general tips.

  1. Know your cards. If they put out Suicune Raikou Legend and you don’t know what it does, Thunderbolt Spear might just knock you into next week.
  2. Play as if they always have Black Belt and Twins in their hand. Good for all matchups, but especially relevant here.
  3. Only place down Tropical Beach if you have to. If Trainer lock is on the field, their Trainer-light deck will benefit more than you.
  4. Consider aggression – many Ross decks run Donphan, Lightning energy for Zekrom or Rainbow Energy, allowing them to get damage onto their field while yours (presumably) remains spotless. They get up Twins and you have a problem. Electrode Prime might help this. Alternatively, go aggro. You might win by attacking swiftly and shutting down their attackers/tanks before they get up and running. Do beware of Outrage though. Once again, this is only a suggestion, a Ross build without the above is still beaten by a loaded Gothitelle/Reuniclus, even if Trainer locking is irrelevant.



Autowin MewLock

This is the deck you should fear. If you see two Mews, a Yanma and an Oddish turn 1, be very afraid. In fact, scratch the Oddish, a Mew with Jumpluff/Cinccino Seen Off is basically GG. If it comes down to it, you’re going to have a stupendously uphill battle, one that is almost unwinnable.

The ways Gothitelle can win:

  1. Prioritise Grass/Rainbow’d Mews over Psychic – Sludge Drag is not a concern, Mass Attack is. If Cinccino goes into the Lost Zone and you can’t stop Do The Wave next turn, cry a little.
  2. Rely on Dragons – they won’t be running Pluspower, so they’ll never flat out OHKO you. With board management, they’ll barely manage a 2HKO, so make sure your Dragons count by having them trade at least a prize each. Rescue energy on them is even better.
  3. Use your unevolved/NFE Pokemon – this matchup is part of the reason I prefer this Gothorita – it can, with a Psychic and DCE, knock out Mew (and Gloom). Duosion can knock out Mew too. I have steamrolled 3 Mews in a row (energy-starved) with Duosion. Gothita can, with a DCE and two heads, OHKO Mew, and Solosis can do it in a pinch with Pluspower. Consider more than 1 of each Stage 1 if there is MewLock in your area. Alternatively, switch to TZPS, MewLock hates that deck :D
  4. Rely on luck a little – Gothita’s Hypnotising Gaze and Gothorita’s Deleting Glare have the potential to be game-changers.
  5. Remember about Leaf Guard – this is an annoying move which will ruin your day. Hope that you can Hypnotising Gaze/Deleting Glare when they use this.
  6. Disregard Oddishes – to be quite honest, the only Trainers you’ll have a reason to play are Communication, Catcher and Max Potion. You need to aggro up and rely on your Supporters regardless.
  7. Smoochum tech – I like Smoochum, I really do. Move those energies onto Yanmegas and pray you stay asleep.



Advantage Magneboar

I hesitate to call this advantage Magneboar because of how powerful that T2 Gothitelle really is, but when you compare the two setups objectively, Magneboar wins hands-down. They can use either BadBoar, RDL or Magnezone to knock out your Gothitelle and have very, very high HP counts that require two hits from three Psychic Goth to knock out. Magneboar has strong, reasonably constant attack power that doesn’t let you recover, so you have to be fast and consistent in starting up to have a chance.

The ways Gothitelle can win:

  1. Fast, fast setup – this is pivotal, there is no way you can win if you don’t impede their setup. On that note, be very, very wary of Twins, and don’t kill anything until you have Trainer lock up.
  2. Knock out Tepigs – never let Tepig live. You might think that Magnezone is more important, but with Trainer lock hindering Magnetic Draw and both of Tepig’s evolutions being ridiculously dangerous, there’s only one choice as to what you kill.
  3. Catcher – Use Catcher wisely. AbilityBoar is the first target. Second priority is anything with energy on it, especially Lightning on Magnezone.
  4. Keep track of Lightning – Magneboar will generally run anywhere from 4 to 7 Lightning, usually on the low end. Be very wary of RDL being suddenly thrown down and stomping you for 150 and lots of prizes.



What do you think the matchup is?

Well, you should know exactly what your opponent’s gameplan is if you’re running Gothitelle. While they say ‘know your opponent and you shall not fear a thousand battles’, that’s just plain untrue here. The mirror match has its fair share of key points that really tip the scale in somebody’s favour.

How to win a Gothitelle mirror:

  1. Go first – that’s just how it is. You have to assume they get a T2 Gothitelle.
  2. As with every single mirror matchup, consider your actions helping the opponent. There are two sides to this. The first is simple – cards like Tropical Beach and Judge work for both players. Play them only when you get a lot more good out of it than they will. For Tropical Beach here, that’s when you have the lock going and they have a packed hand. When Goth is losing, they won’t be attacking very often, but won’t be able to use Beach with a full hand of Trainers anyway.
  3. The second aspect to this is assuming opponents know exactly how the deck works and shortcomings of the deck. Always assume they will play properly and not randomly KO your baby with Gothorita.
  4. Speed is key – while you might first think that activating Twins will hurt you, that’s just not true with a turn 2 Gothitelle. They can’t Communicate, Catcher or most importantly, Candy. Arguably the best outcome is T2 [P][C][C] Gothitelle belting out OHKOs to all non-dragons on their field.
  5. Don’t fear dragons – damaging dragons is never good, right? Well, if you’re doing 90 damage, those dragons are merely 110 damage attackers, which is no worse than it usually is.
  6. Fear Black Belt – Black Belt is far more dangerous than Twins. It lets a Gothorita and even a Duosion one-shot your Gothitelle. Be absolutely paranoid of a Black Belt drop and build up your bench/target their Stage 1s accordingly.
  7. Deleting Glare/Hypnotising Gaze/Baby stall – you didn’t forget these moves, did you? Stall for time if you’re in a pinch.
  8. Run more draw Supporters – while some players may feel safe with their 4 PONT and 2 Beach, more is always better. Sage’s in particular is very helpful, letting you search out that elusive Rare Candy or Stage 2.
  9. Elm’s – not a massively useful card against anything but Trainer Lock. Being able to get that Gothorita out can mean a lot.
  10. Use Jirachi – Jirachi is helpful to shut down opposing Rare Candy’d ‘mons. In that vein, evolve via Stage 1s where you can. Be warned, Jirachi is basically a free prize, and if they Rare Candy right back up then you have a big problem.

The following decks have Advantages against Gothitelle once they are set up, but can be beaten by setting up faster than them and knocking out key Pokemon.

  • Blastoise/Floatzel – target Squirtles as they come out and Blastoises if applicable. Basically, isolate one half of the combo. Build a second Reuniclus if you can.
  • Tyranitar Prime – Get rid of Larvitars. Remember Pupitar retreats for free with energy attached. Be wary of Jirachi and/or DCL in this deck.
  • Feraligatr Prime/Samurott – a very rare deck, but you occasionally find a card veteran new to Pokemon who sees this combo. Again, isolate one half of the combo and break it.
  • Gothitelle/Electrode – it outspeeds you (theoretically). It does need to get a Gothitelle up, but after the loss of your first built-up Goth you’re in a bad spot.
  • Krookodile – don’t laugh, Krookodile variants using the BW Krokorok make Gothitelle incredibly sad.
  • LostGar– To be honest, I put this here because I could. Play as you would against LostGar with any other deck. Junk Arm/Sage Pokemon you can’t play immediately, get basics down, don’t Collector more than necessary, etc. If you can aggro them with Gothitelle early you can take quick prizes and possibly win on time. Some builds of LostGar will run Mew with Haunter-less lines, meaning Trainer Lock is deadly. If this is the case, you might see Sludge Drag. Pump out the damage early by setting up fast, and be very, very careful of Cursed Drop. Gothitelle technically wins this if it is fast enough.
The following decks lose to Gothitelle.
  • Donphan/Dragons w/o Reuniclus – straight Donphan Dragons isn’t dangerous to you. The damage output is theoretically high and T2 Donphan is scary, but Twins it up and you’ll control the board.
  • Basically any deck sniping with Kingdra – Yanmega, Mandibuzz, Gengar Prime (shush) – against Goth, sniping only matters when it’s a OHKO.
  • MewGar – any Mew deck that doesn’t attack, honestly. You OHKO with almost every Psychic ‘mon in your deck, they attempt to Hurl Into Darkness and snipe babies for your Twins-ing pleasure.

That’s my surprisingly long spiel on Gothitelle decklists and matchups. I won’t divulge my personal list, but I can tell you that running a plain vanilla Gothitelle sans pretty techs is quite effective, and that you should probably either run Beach or an alternative Gothitelle (did somebody say Electrode?). Don’t let this disparage you. You can have a vanilla list without Beach to try out. Do note there’s no Pichu involved. For Electrode, you can drop the Sage’s and Copycat for 2/2 or 3/2 Electrode Prime, then add a Psychic or two over PONT/Zekrom. Alternatively, run Electrode without Reuniclus and add in Samurott components to help with Reshi matchups. Your call.

Gothitelle/Reuniclus Full List

Pokemon – 16 T/S/S – 31 Energy – 12
4-1-3 Gothitelle EP
3-1-2 Reuniclus BW
2 Zekrom BW
1 Cleffa HS/CL
4 Pokemon Communication
4 Rare Candy
2 Max Potion
2 Pokemon Catcher
2 Junk Arm
4 Pokemon Collector
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Sage’s Training
1 Copycat
4 Twins
1 Seeker
10 Psychic
2 Double Colourless

I hope you enjoyed my first written TCG article and don’t mind that I’m writing as an anon. I played the TCG during Base Set, then took a break all the way to HGSS-On, and I’m loving the format as it is. I hope this article has helped everyone, Goth and non-Goth players alike. While the deck is not overwhelmingly hard to run (nothing in this format really is) or particularly diverse, it’s a fun deck when you have it going, and it has a good shot at taking titles, so if you’re looking to top cut and are sick of dragon-centred decks, give Goth a shot.


Posted by at November 2, 2011
Filed in category: TCG Articles,
  • Andrew Carbon

    Great article, lots of detail and very well written. Gothitelle is an enjoyable deck to play, but I don’t like the idea of having to set up two stage 2 Pokemon. As you mentioned, having Gothitelle without Reuniclus isn’t very favorable. One the lock gets going, its powerful, its just getting there that could be a problem.

  • oliver barnett

    you ever thought about Serperior? its a really nice tech that allows for damage reduction

  • ZettaSlow

    i attempted a serperior build – i was initially skeptical since i like having some damage on the field (purely so i can place down a baby/solosis, whack it and play twins), but i realised serp doesn’t really remove that benefit with good management, and offers another damage sponge as well – by the by, i found a 1/0/1 line (4 candy 3 junk arm) doesn’t compromise consistency much, though i haven’t tried anything else

    i personally prefer vanilla goth/foetus, but after trying it i can definitely see the concept working in a tournament scenario

  • Navin Raaj

    Can Tornadus be a mew counter as you can charge it up with dce and 1 psy?

  • Navin Raaj

    Can Tounadus be a mew counter?

  • ZettaSlow

    perhaps, but against any other deck it’s counter-intuitive, since you don’t want to be taking prizes quickly, and mew swarms tornadus easily anyway…maybe in a speed electrode variant or something

    if mew is really such a massive problem, consider donphan prime…i should have added that to the tips

  • Anonymous

    I agree with this.. Amazing article on insight about the deck, Well done.

  • PKMN Trainer Andrew

    I like that idea. Donphan can one shot Mew for a single fighting energy. Adding fighting energy to the deck won’t hurt you too much since Gothitelle’s cost is entirely colorless. Donphan also has a lot of HP, so you can use him to hold damage counters after moving them around with Reuniclus.

  • ZettaSlow

    rainbow energy would be an arguably smarter play, as it powers goth and that extra damage can very, very occasionally be handy early-game (im talking like 1 in 50 matches, if that), plus you probably won’t mind the extra damage lategame