Hey everyone! My name is Matthew (phoenixfire712) and I’m here today to talk about one of my favorite ways to play Gym Leader Challenge.
I love playing fast decks where the goal is to take all of your prize cards before your opponent has a chance to get going. While a lot of decks can cook up an answer to a barrage of speedy attacks, it’s often too little, too late, as you’ve often already taken 2 or more prize cards by the time they take their first.
Just find a couple slots in any attacking deck list and throw Guzma & Hala, Frozen City, Rainbow Energy, Hustle Belt, and Tag Call in there for a good chance to have an explosive early attack. Just like Brigette and Gloria are staples in a lot of GLC lists just for the chance of drawing them on the first turn, Guzma & Hala should be too. Any and every type can utilize this archetype because it is based around powerful trainer cards and generic 30-60 HP Basics.
Feel free to skim or skip some parts of this article. I compiled a huge amount of information together for different types of players. Some are just looking for list ideas, others for strategies, and others for matchup spread and game plans. Just scroll to the part you’d like to see and read that.
Guzma & Hala is without a doubt one of the best supporter cards ever printed. The ability to search for a Stadium, Tool, and Special Energy cannot be overstated. What makes it so powerful is the number of combos it can create on the first turn of the game, and the fact that it is one of the only cards that can search directly for Special Energy such as Double Dragon Energy and Rainbow Energy.
Tag Call is another piece of the combo, being able to search for any two Tag Team cards allows you to search for Guzma & Hala and another Tag Team supporter such as Cynthia & Caitlin.
Green’s Exploration is another powerful card. While this can’t grab Special Energy like Guzma and Hala, it can still enable very powerful combinations with Stadiums, Tools, and Items. Its flexibility allows you to complete combos with other cards in your opening hand. If you start with a basic attacker and an energy, but no backup Pokemon or tool? Go grab the item cards from your deck necessary to find those cards.
Some lists need that little extra boost of consistency. These items increase the speed and consistency of T1 and T2 attacks by being able to search for or draw into attacker setup supporters such as Guzma & Hala, Korrina, Green’s Exploration, Irida, Volkner, or Piers.
Some of the best stadiums are ones that search out basics such as Brooklet Hill and Stormy Mountains. These help to guarantee attacks with Guzma & Hala no matter what else is in your starting hand. If you’re not aiming for the Turn 1 attack, then you can grab Tropical Beach or Jubilife Village and use it to draw you some cards.
There are over 75 different Special Energy to choose from, with different energies available for each type. Don’t underestimate Capture Energy and Rainbow Energy.
Cards like Scroll of the Flying Dragon and Scroll of Piercing can be used on the first turn of the game with the Stadiums like Magma Basin and with Special Energy such as Double Dragon Energy. Being able to do 90 damage to any Pokemon on your opponent’s field is a very powerful effect, and is just one of the many options available.
This card is game changing. Stadiums such as Gapejaw Bog and Frozen City allow you to place 2 damage counters on one of your Pokemon when playing it down on the bench or attaching an energy. Rainbow Energy also places a damage counter on the Pokemon you attach it to. When the Pokemon has 30 HP or less remaining and any damage counters on it, the Pokemon’s attacks do 60 more damage! Suddenly a 40 HP Zubat or 40 HP Cottonee is doing 70 damage and Knocking Out Squirtles and Charmanders left and right. Some Pokemon can reach even higher numbers with this powerful damage boosting card.
I recently used this list to go undefeated in a recent online GLC tournament with a record of 4-0-0 in Swiss and no losses in top cut, winning with two donks on my opponent in the finals. Both times they had a slow start, resulting in me Knocking Out their only Pokemon in play.
Spiritomb is the best Pokemon in this deck, and one of the strongest Pokemon in all of GLC. His attack does 10 damage plus 30 more damage for each damage counter on him. There are various ways to accelerate the amount of damage counters on Spiritomb such as Frozen City, Gapejaw Bog, Rainbow Energy, and Spiritomb’s ability. With 4 damage counters (1 from the ability, 2 from Frozen City, and 1 from Rainbow Energy) and Hustle Belt, Spiritomb can hit for a nearly unparalleled 190 damage on the first turn of the game! This is quite consistent with multiple Pokemon with free retreat and item search cards like Quick Ball, Nest Ball, and Capturing Aroma.
Guzzlord is one of the gnarliest Pokemon in GLC. For four energy, Guzzlord deals base 120 damage and takes an extra prize on a KO! Guzzlord is the ultimate finisher for this deck. After a close back and forth game with Spiritomb leading the charge, Guzzlord can come in for a game winning two prize cards. With Beast Ring, Raihan, and Double Colorless Energy there are several ways to get him going in one or two turns. Guzzlord sets up checkmates for your opponent, such that they can’t deal with both Guzzlord and Spiritomb in one turn. Fighting Fury Belt increases Guzzlord’s HP to 190 and damage to 130, making him one of the scariest Pokemon to be up against.
Float Stone can be searched out with Guzma & Hala as a pivot into a card like Spiritomb or Alolan Meowth. If you don’t draw a way to search out a Basic Pokemon, no matter. This deck can utilize the unique strategy of Capture Energy. Attaching this Special Energy allows you to search your deck for a Basic Pokemon and put it straight onto your bench. Normally, you wouldn’t be able to attack without attaching another energy, but Alolan Meowth can attack for free and do 70 damage on your first turn if you go second!
This dark deck has strong late game potential as well with multiple backup attackers in Weavile, Guzzlord, and Alolan Persian, several free retreat pivot Pokemon, and multiple ways to re-use Spiritomb such as Klara and Rescue Carrier. Spiritomb is the best Pokemon in the deck, as he is great at hitting the numbers all throughout the game. There are so many ways to play a variation of this deck, I have several different lists that I’m working on at the same time! This deck is one of the fastest and heaviest hitting decks in Gym Leader Challenge.
The general philosophy depends on whether you go second or first and whether your opponent gets a strong setup. Going second, bump all of the matchups up a level. A fast attack can often either win outright or put your opponent on the back foot trying to get anything setup to respond. First, some stay where they are and others drop a level. Either way, your opponent only gets one turn before you start attacking, assuming you don’t have a truly awful start.
This deck is built to be consistent, which makes it work especially well in Best of 3s as you’re guaranteed at least one game going second by being able to choose the coin flip result after a loss. If you win that game you only have to win 1 going first, which isn’t hard with Guzzlord and Weavile hitting hard late game.
Water tends to need a lot of setup Pokemon and doesn’t do much to affect your board for several turns. Come out swinging with Pokemon such as Spiritomb and Alolan Meowth, and set up late game checkmate scenarios with double prize takes and overwhelm their setup. Watch out for Inteleon with the 20 damage spread to a Benched Pokemon, it could be relevant. Weavile is great here.
Like Water, it tends to start slowly. Weavile is a great help here as most common Grass Pokemon have abilities. You occasionally can see your opponent launch a T2 attack with Rare Candy into Rillaboom, but this isn’t too common especially if you go second.
Many fire decks need time to set up stage 2 Pokemon to really get going. Keep the pressure on and leverage that Guzzlord, most if not all Fire Pokemon can’t OHKO it if he has a fighting fury belt attached.
While you do have weakness to this type, Fighting has no draw support Pokemon and often does little to no fancy stuff with bench spread or disruption, depending on the build. As with most decks, get ahead in the prize trade and don’t give them any time to catch up.
Since almost all of your attackers require 0 or 1 energy to attack, control can’t easily hand lock you, disrupt your energy or abilities, or otherwise try to stop you from doing your thing. Against paralysis decks, save your switch cards like Scoop Up Net and Guzma and you’ll do just fine.
Dark can use your own Frozen City and such to damage their Spiritomb, but keep in mind that a lot of the heavy hitters such as Zoroark and Galarian Moltres don’t do anything extra against a 20HP Spiritomb. Losing abilities to Weezing can hurt the viability of chaining Spiritombs, but use that Hustle Belt correctly along with Alolan Persian and you’ll do fine against an essentially slower version of your dark deck.
This is an interesting one. If you play field blower this matchup is easier. Oftentimes Metal sets up one big Pokemon like Copperajah or Heatran with a damage reduction tool but doesn’t have a lot else going on. If you manage to take that guy out early you’re having a great time. Guzzlord with Fury Belt is great late game.
Watch out for Zapdos, and avoid benching liabilities such as Alolan Rattata. Tapu Koko and Regieleki like to eat Spiritomb for breakfast. If you go first and they get the T1 Zapdos, move this to bad. Otherwise, you’re in a good spot. Weavile is a good attacker here.
This matchup switches between Good, Neutral, and Bad, depending on whether they get to attack before you do. Dragon is often a Guzma & Hala based deck, so they can attack for a lot of damage fast like Spiritomb can. However, you have a secret weapon: Yveltal. The Derail attack discards Special Energy, which really messes up their game plan. If you can take a KO, take the KO, but I’ve won games against this and Colorless from my opponent running out of Special Energy.
Similar to Dragon, Colorless plays a lot of special energy and has big Pokemon. Derail Yveltal can do a ton of work discarding their double energies (excluding Snorlax, who’s immune to effects of attacks) and there are often several abilities in play. This matchup comes down to how fast they can get Archeops or Porygon out, and whether they help you hit the numbers by damaging their Pokemon with your Frozen City. Guzzlord with Dark Claw/Fury Belt.
Earthquake Fighting plays lots of big dudes, however, they also help you by damaging their own Pokemon. Watch out for Galarian Runerigas, if that guy comes up to take 2-3 KOs with the damage counter spread, return the KO with Guzzlord to keep tempo.
You hit a lot of guys for weakness, so this isn’t too bad. With an early attack you can really stunt their setup. Only problems are Dragapult and Blacephalon. Be really careful about those. Guzzlord is the answer here, OHKOs everything for 2 prizes. Try to skip the Blacephalon turn if you can. Alolan Persian is great here. Whenever possible, use Alolan Persian to take KOs to conserve your Spiritomb.
Same as Water, but now they have spread tools. Avoid benching too many low HP Pokemon, take out their support Pokemon early, and use Guzzlord to checkmate their board. Articuno is scary, it can take out a Spiritomb without flipping any heads. Keep your early lead and use Weavile and Guzzlord.
Depends on how fast you can attack, as with most decks. Watch for the Blacephalon turn, skip it if you can with Guzzlord. Leverage Guzzlord and Scoop Up Net, don’t put too many damage counters on your Pokemon yourself with Frozen City.
Raikou can really devastate your board. If you manage to start attacking faster, move this to Neutral or Good. However, a single Raikou can end the game for you in a heartbeat. Watch out with playing down liabilities such as Alolan Rattata, don’t let them catch you with a Tapu Koko or Regieleki.
Be super careful with Spiritomb. When playing in an open list tournament, always check to see if they play Lost City and Lusamine. Of course, they have to have the Lost City in hand and be able to take a KO on your Spiritomb. If your Spiritomb does get KOd, don’t fret too much. That’s why there are backup attackers in Guzzlord, Weavile, and Alolan Persian. Alolan Rattata can get in there too with Hustle Belt.
Like I said before, this kind of archetype is possible with every type! Some may be less good at it than others, but don’t let that stop you from finding your favorite type and building a list around it. Drawing Guzma & Hala Turn 1 doesn’t have to lead to an attack, it can just lead to a strong setup with cards like Tropical Beach and Jubilife Village, or late game it can grab you HP increasing tools in tanky decks like Metal and Grass.
A very powerful and unique combo that can be utilized in a Psychic deck is using Capture Energy to search for the Phantump and place it onto your bench, retreat into the Phantump by discarding the Capture Energy or using a tool such as Float Stone, and use the Ascension attack for free because of Dimension Valley! The Trevenant has the disruptive ability Forest’s Curse, which prevents your opponent from playing Item cards as long as Trevenant is your Active Pokemon. While your opponent is stuck and slowed down by the Item Lock, you can set up a powerful board with other Psychic Pokemon and not allow your opponent time to fully establish their board.
This is not the only way to get Trevenant into play, but it is more consistent with cards like Tag Call, Guzma & Hala, and Green’s Exploration. You can increase the chance of getting a Turn 1 Item Lock by playing other cards such as Boost Shake and Wally. Item Lock is one of the most powerful effects in the game, and with this combo you can easily slot it into any Psychic deck playing Guzma & Hala.
With Dimension Valley, Double Colorless, and Muscle Band, Deoxys is a very powerful attacker. If 100 damage isn’t enough to KO some Pokemon, then you can attach a Fusion Strike Energy from your hand the next turn to deal 180 damage! It’s not unlikely that with the right cards in your deck you can use the card Max Elixir to attach a basic energy to Deoxys, attach a Fusion Strike Energy searched for with Guzma & Hala, and use the Dimension Valley to do the same 180 damage on the first turn! Played alongside other combos with Guzma & Hala and Hustle Belt, this is a great combo addition to your deck in the case of Hustle Belt being prized.
Zapdos is already known for its explosive attacks on the first few turns of the game, but a lot of the time to attack with Zapdos you would need to find several cards to be able to attack with Zapdos. In addition to the normal ways of finding a switch or escape rope, you can guarantee an attack with Zapdos by grabbing Stormy Mountains, Float Stone, and Speed Lightning Energy. In addition the Speed Lightning Energy draws you 2 cards to continue setting up your board. Simple yet effective.
Goomy is an average Hustle Belt enjoying Pokemon. 40 HP combos easily with Rainbow Energy or a damage counter dealing Stadium such as Frozen City or Gapejaw Bog. What sets Goomy apart is the ability Sticky Membrane. Sticky Membrane increases the attack costs of your opponent’s Pokemon by one colorless energy while Goomy is your Active Pokemon. This makes it very hard for your opponent to mount a comeback to this little fella dealing 70 damage a turn! Combined with Dragon’s other powerful cards and attackers that utilize Double Dragon Energy, this combo can fit easily into any Dragon Type GLC deck that plays Guzma & Hala.
If you think yourself a daring trainer, try this combo in your Fairy deck. Guzma & Hala can grab you Slumbering Forest, Rainbow Energy, and Hustle Belt, allowing you to deal 70 damage. If that doesn’t KO your opponent’s Active Pokemon, the attack Cotton Bed puts it to sleep. With Slumbering Forest, your opponent flips two coins. If either is tails, that Pokemon is still asleep! Fun and unique, this is sure to be a good way to play Fairy in GLC.
This one is slightly harder to pull off because it needs a couple more pieces that need to be found, but it makes up for that with a more rewarding outcome. Ponyta needs a little more to get down to 30 HP, so you can use both Rainbow Energy and Frozen City. The Agility attack allows you to flip a coin, and if heads, you are immune to all damage and effects of attacks for a turn! The Victory Star ability on Victini allows you to reflip that coin if the first flip is tails, bringing the chance of invincibility up to 75%!
You can do a very similar combo with the volatile Torchic from Primal Clash. You can guarantee the Torchic with Magma Basin and Capture Energy. As part of the cost to play Guzma & Hala, you can discard a Fire Energy from your hand. Magma Basin can accelerate that energy onto Torchic from the discard pile, putting the 2 damage counters required to activate Hustle Belt, and basically allowing you to get two energy attachments in one turn!
Torchic has the Barrage Ancient Trait, allowing it to attack twice per turn! With Hustle Belt, it can do 80 damage twice, enough to possibly KO two Basic Pokemon! However, it's only attack that does damage does nothing on a tails coin flip. Luckily, you can use Victory Star Victini to reflip one of those coins, increasing the chance of getting heads. If you like coin flipping and believe that the best game of Pokemon is a game won or lost by a coin flip, this card is for you.
Any basic Pokemon with 40-60 HP can utilize damaging Stadiums and/or Rainbow Energy to seriously increase their damage output with Hustle Belt. There are many, many, more not on this list for you and me to explore and discover. Hundreds of bulk basics just waiting to be played. Chances are most GLC decks already play one or two as part of their evolution lines. Throw in Guzma & Hala, Frozen City, Rainbow Energy, and Hustle Belt and now you have some super fast attackers, even in a slower deck such as Metal, Water, or Grass.
(These were all found using pkmncards.com’s Advanced Search, the HP setting set to less than or equal to 60)
Ideally, in a Turbo GuzHala list, all of your evolution lines have a basic with 60 HP or less that can attack in an emergency. Most evolutions do. This is why I play the 60 HP Sneasel in Turbo Dark instead of the 70 HP ones. Some basic attacks are better than others, but there are several unique effects that can be explored. There are hit and run attacks, attacks that have invincibility on a coin flip, paralysis, and more. I’m excited to see where people take this archetype.
Guzma & Hala is, in my opinion, an underused card. So many GLC decks play Brigette and Gloria just for the chance of drawing it on Turn 1 because it is a very strong setup card. I think Guzma & Hala should be played at least as much as Brigette, but probably more. Unlike Brigette, if you see Guzma & Hala mid-late game you won’t be unhappy. Guzma & Hala is a strong card in almost any deck because of its flexibility. Being able to turn it into a setup card with Tropical Beach, a turn 1 attacking card with Hustle Belt, or a setup card with Capture Energy and Stormy Mountains is what makes this card so strong.
Turbo GuzHala is a very strong archetype that takes the overall usefulness of this card to the next level. Pokemon is a game of prize cards. It doesn’t really matter how you take them, with what Pokemon, but the first to take all 6 wins the game. Attacking as fast as possible and consistently increases the chance of winning by a significant amount. It doesn’t take much to slot this archetype into the average Dark, Dragon, or Psychic list. Even throwing Alolan Meowth, Spiritomb, and Frozen City into a Dark deck allows you to flat out win games when your opponent only starts one Pokemon, a common sight in a slower singleton format like GLC. I expect Guzma & Hala to see a lot more play in the future. Try it out for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss other decklists and GLC stuff, feel free to ping me on discord or message me on reddit.
##Pokémon - 10
##Trainer Cards - 40
##Energy - 10