The Unlikely VSTAR — A guide to Lost Zone Goodra

Hello ! My name is Stéphane Ivanoff, and I’ve been playing the Pokémon TCG competitively since 2010. My achievements include winning the North American International Championship, the largest tournament of the season (outside of Asia), two years in a row, as well as two Regional Championships wins and multiple top 8s. I’ve also qualified for […]

Stéphane Ivanoff30 Jan 2023

Hello ! My name is Stéphane Ivanoff, and I’ve been playing the Pokémon TCG competitively since 2010. My achievements include winning the North American International Championship, the largest tournament of the season (outside of Asia), two years in a row, as well as two Regional Championships wins and multiple top 8s. I’ve also qualified for the World Championships every year since 2012.

Last weekend, I finished second out of more than 750 players at Liverpool Regionals in the UK, using Lost Zone Goodra, a deck that saw little success before this event. In addition to myself, another player, Vinnie Schelfhaut, also made the top 8 with Goodra, and Rune Heiremans also won with it in the Seniors Division. It seems clear that the deck was very well situated for this event. But what is this strange deck that’s rising up, and why was it a good play this weekend?

For my first article for TCGPark, I’ll explain all about it, including how I built my decklist and how to play the deck against the most popular matchups.


Pokémon – 15

1 Drapion V LOR 118
1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
3 Hisuian Goodra V LOR 135
3 Hisuian Goodra VSTAR LOR 136
4 Comfey LOR 079
1 Cramorant LOR 050
1 Lumineon V BRS 156
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 046

Trainer Cards – 33

2 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
2 Roxanne ASR 188
3 Switch SUM 132
4 Colress’s Experiment LOR 190
4 Quick Ball FST 237
1 Air Balloon SSH 156
4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
3 Temple of Sinnoh ASR 155
4 Mirage Gate LOR 163
3 Boss’s Orders LOR 241
2 Escape Rope BUS 114
1 Raihan EVS 202

Energy – 12

4 Capture Energy RCL 171
4 Water Energy
4 Metal Energy

Goodra VSTAR decklist TCG Park Blog

The idea behind the deck is to use Hisuian Goodra VSTAR as soon as possible. In order to power it up with three Energy cards, we use Mirage Gate, which requires having seven cards in the Lost Zone. To achieve this, we use the classic engine of Comfey and Colress’s Engine. Radiant Greninja also provides some draw power to the deck.

In the early game, we can use Cramorant as an attacker; afterwards, every turn is spent using Goodra’s Rolling Iron. Between Rolling Iron’s damage reduction and Goodra’s Moisture Star allowing it to heal damage, opponents will have a hard time Knocking it Out, so even if Goodra’s damage output isn’t the highest in the game, it can still consistently take Prizes and let you come back from dire situations.

Hisuian Goodra VSTAR

Colress's Experiment


Why Goodra?

People often ask me how I choose my deck for a tournament. While I do sometimes play the most expected deck (Lugia VSTAR / Archeops at the Latin America International Championships, for example), I tend to feel more at ease with less popular decks, because they’re not on the radar as much. Going into a competitive event such as a Regionals, every player in the room has played games against Lugia, and is prepared for it. However, not everyone has played against Goodra or even knows which cards are likely to be in the deck, and that gives me an edge.

Despite that, I don’t consider myself a rogue player. I feel like many of the decks I’ve had success with were not rogue decks, they were powerful decks that the player base didn’t rate correctly. For example, when I won NAIC 2018 with Zoroark-GX / Garbodor, it was considered a fringe deck (probably because most players didn’t build the deck correctly and included suboptimal cards in it). After the tournament, players quickly recognized it was one of the best decks in the format, and the deck went on to win Worlds months later.

In the case of Liverpool Regionals, I wasn’t comfortable playing Lugia because, while it is an extremely strong deck, it’s also unreliable. The Lugia mirror match, for example, usually comes down to who goes first, no matter the players’ skill. Instead, I found myself drawn to Lost Zone decks. These decks also have very powerful cards (Mirage Gate can power up some of the strongest attackers in the game) but require more precision. When playing such a deck, you have to make decisions every turn about which cards to send to the Lost Zone with Colress’s Experiment or Comfey’s Ability, and these decisions have consequences for the rest of the game. One misstep in the early game can cost you the game turns later, so they’re hard to master but very rewarding to play.

This reasoning also led me to expect that other top players would gravitate towards Lost Zone decks as well. This was my first reason to choose Goodra: it’s a Lost Zone deck that beats other Lost Zone decks. There are many Lost Zone variants, but most of them focus on efficient one-Prize attackers (Sableye, Kyogre, Raikou…). These Pokémon have a hard time Knocking Out the tanky Goodra VSTAR. Only Rayquaza can get the OHKO, but not easily, and usually not twice in a game.

In addition to Lost Zone decks, Goodra also enjoyed good matchups against several other popular decks. Regigigas, for example, had been picked up by some good American players recently, after it won the 2800-player Kyoto Champions League in Japan. Fortunately, Goodra enjoys a very positive matchup against Regigigas. Similarly, Vikavolt V had seen a surprising amount of success, winning two Regionals in the current format, and Goodra also beat it most of the time. Goodra was even strong against some other decks that players could pick up to try to beat the metagame, such as Arceus VSTAR / Flying Pikachu VMAX.

The only issue? Lugia was still the best and most popular deck in the format, and Goodra didn’t do that well against it. It could win, of course, but I wasn’t feeling comfortable playing against it. Around that time in my deckbuilding process, I also discussed the metagame with my friend and excellent deck builder Ithiel Arki, who had independently come to the same conclusion that Goodra was a good pick for the metagame. Together, we spent about a week trying out a bunch of ideas in order to improve the Lugia matchup, and the list above is what we arrived at in the end.

Explaining the decklist

Our list is a bit different from other decklists that had already been around at that time, so I’ll explain the main choices we made.

  • 4 Quick Ball, 4 Capture Energy, 0 Battle VIP Pass: Many Goodra lists play Battle VIP Pass, but I’m not sold on it. Battle VIP Pass is a highroll card, and Goodra is not a highroll deck. It can afford to start slowly and mount a comeback later, so I prefer Quick Ball and Capture Energy as Pokémon search options, since they’re useful all game long. There’s nothing worse than being Marnie’d into a dead hand full of VIP Pass!
  • 2 Roxanne: Since Goodra is a comeback deck, it makes sense to run the best comeback card in it. Roxanne improves the Lugia and Lost Zone matchups greatly. The innovation is playing two copies of it.
    Generally speaking, Lost Zone decks benefit from redundancy, since you’ll have to Lost Zone some cards to Colress and Comfey. By playing two copies of your cards, you make sure you can afford to lose one, and still have access to the other one in the late game. That’s especially important for cards like Roxanne or Ordinary Rod which are useless in the early game: you’ll usually want other cards more in the early game.
  • Lumineon V: It’s counterintuitive to include this low HP Pokémon V in a deck that aims to be tanky, but Lumineon V provides a lot of consistency to the deck, since it can turn a Quick Ball into a Colress’s Experiment, and playing Colress early on is invaluable to the deck. Being able to find Roxanne late game is also strong.
  • Galarian Zigzagoon: The main reason for this card’s inclusion is allowing Goodra VSTAR to OHKO targets with more than 200 HP. It’s particularly important against Stoutland V. Without Zigzagoon, a Lugia player could use Stoutland V to KO low HP Pokémon two turns in a row and there would be no way to stop it.
  • 0 Big Parasol, 3 Temple of Sinnoh: Both of these cards are usually included in order to counter Lugia VSTAR, whose main threat against us is using Yveltal’s Amazing Destruction. However, after testing, I found that Big Parasol was rarely impactful. You need to find it early enough to protect your Goodra, it can be removed by Lost Vacuum, and even if it sticks in play, the opponent can KO Goodra with Lugia, then use Yveltal to KO the second Goodra VSTAR later in the game. Big Parasol was also useless in all other matchups. Therefore, I made the call to remove it.
    Temple of Sinnoh, on the other hand, is a fantastic card. It usually forces Lugia players to attack with Lugia VSTAR itself instead of Yveltal or anything else, and combined with Roxanne, it allows for powerful comebacks. It’s also strong in other matchups, such as Regigigas, or just to remove opposing Stadiums (like Path to the Peak in Mew VMAX). I even considered playing a fourth copy.
  • 3 Switch, 3 Escape Rope: Our decklist plays more copies of switching cards than most Goodra lists. This is for two reasons: first, it’s important to be able to retreat Goodra V if you happen to start with it (playing only two copies of Goodra V is also an option, but I don’t like it, as it can lead to awkward situations if one is Prized). Second, without Big Parasol, Regigigas can use Regice’s Blizzard Bind in order to prevent Goodra VSTAR from attacking. More switching cards let you easily get rid of Blizzard Bind’s effect.
  • Raihan: The last card added to the deck, Raihan is also the one I’m the least sure of. I wanted a card to add a bit more consistency to the deck, and Raihan does that. However, I used it very little over the course of the tournament, and it’s possible that Marnie, for example, would have been a better choice.


In this section, I’ll explain how to play against some of the most common decks you’ll face.

  • Lugia / Archeops: The main threat in this matchup is Yveltal. One good way to protect yourself against it is to play Boss’s Orders on Archeops as soon as the opponent uses their VSTAR Power so that the opponent can’t power up Yveltal in one turn. Then, if they start Benching Yveltal, you can simply Boss it to Knock it Out. Lugia VSTAR will attack you in the meantime, but you can tank the damage and heal it with Moisture Star. Then, keep dealing with the opponent’s attackers, and use Temple of Sinnoh to prevent plays such as Stoutland V Knocking Out a Comfey. If the opponent only uses one Lugia, Temple becomes a great play, especially combined with Roxanne.
    Cramorant is an important card in this matchup as its attack will put Lugia VSTAR in range of a Rolling Iron KO. Therefore, digging deep in your deck to achieve a turn 1 attack is well worth the investment.
    Overall, it’s not an easy matchup, but definitely winnable.
  • Lost Zone Toolbox: I’ll assume it’s the Rayquaza variant since it’s both the most popular and the most dangerous for Goodra. Your goal is to take one Prize each turn (if the opponent has a poor setup, Greninja’s Moonlight Shuriken can take two, but they will usually Bench Manaphy). The opponent will usually go for easy KOs on Comfey and Cramorant in the early game. Make sure you don’t Bench too many Pokémon and use Scoop Up Net to remove the easy targets in the midgame. Ideally, when the opponent has taken three Prizes, your only two Pokémon in play are two Goodra VSTAR. You can then play Roxanne to disrupt them, making it even harder to deal with your Pokémon.
    Rayquaza is the big issue in this matchup, but it needs five Energy to KO Goodra if it has used Rolling Iron. You should play Boss’s Orders on any Benched Rayquaza that has at least one Energy attached to it. A Rayquaza with no Energy needs two Mirage Gate in order to take the KO (even with Raihan), so it’s much less of a threat.
  • Regigigas: This is almost an auto-win for Goodra. Simply take a KO every turn. All the opponent’s attackers are largely ineffective; even Regidrago + Choice Belt is a 3HKO into Goodra VSTAR, and you can heal after taking two hits, so they’d need five turns to actually take a KO. Keep your Switches and Escape Ropes for when the opponent uses Blizzard Bind, and Temple of Sinnoh for when you want to use your VSTAR Power. In theory, Roxanne + Temple of Sinnoh is a good play, but honestly, I tend to send both my Roxanne to the Lost Zone in this matchup because the opponent never gets to the point where I can actually play it.
  • Mew VMAX: This matchup is good in theory, but is made difficult by the disruption cards that Mew VMAX plays. Assuming the Double Turbo Energy version, here’s the way to win, going second. Get as many Comfey as you can, as well as Radiant Greninja, for better resilience against Marnie, Judge, and Roxanne. Don’t bench any two-Prizer. When the opponent takes a KO on turn 2 with Mew VMAX, KO the Mew with Drapion V, and Bench a Goodra V at the same time (ideally, you should also play Mirage Gate to power it up). They will likely retaliate with Roxanne and a KO with Drapion V, sending it to the Lost Zone with Lost City. (If they don’t, you can simply Rod the Drapion and use it to take your last three Prizes.) At this point, you need to take three Prizes with Goodra VSTAR, which you can do either by 2HKOing Mew VMAX or Knocking Out Oricorio and a Genesect V. The opponent might play some combination of Escape Rope, Boss’s Orders, and Cross Switcher to bring your Goodra VSTAR to the Bench then back to the Active spot, removing Rolling Iron’s protection and letting them take a KO, but even then, you can use another Goodra to finish off Mew.
    Going first, the plan is similar, but you can actually play down a Goodra V on the first turn since you’ll be able to evolve it before the opponent can Boss and KO it. An early Goodra VSTAR can take Prizes against Mew V and Genesect V, letting you use Drapion V in the late game instead. Galarian Zigzagoon is important to allow Rolling Iron to KO Genesect V even with Oricorio in play.
    Against the Fusion Strike Energy version, things are easier because there’s usually no Path to the Peak, Oricorio, or Marnie/Judge. The plan is to take one Prize off Meloetta, then to use Drapion V to KO Mew VMAX, and finish the game with Rolling Iron on a two-Prizer.
  • Vikavolt: Vikavolt V’s Paralyzing Bolt is a threat to most Lost Zone decks, but Goodra doesn’t care much. Use your Item cards in the early game while you can, but use all your Energy attachments on Goodra. Once you have a Goodra VSTAR ready to attack, Paralyzing Bolt can no longer hurt you and you can simply use Rolling Iron every turn while the opponent will struggle to do anything. The best they can do is to break the lock and try to use other attacks, but you can heal the damage, and also power up another attacker with Mirage Gate at that point.

Looking ahead

Finally, a quick word on the deck in the Crown Zenith format, mostly theoretical, as I haven’t tried the deck in the new format yet. There are two new cards that could fit in Goodra VSTAR: Zamazenta and Sky Seal Stone.

Sky Seal Stone, in theory, improves the Mew VMAX matchup. You don’t get to use Moisture Star often in that matchup. On the other hand, being able to take four Prizes, rather than three, with Drapion V could swing the matchup. The issue is that, due to Mew’s disruption, it’s hard to use Sky Seal Stone, as you need to draw it after a Judge or Marnie, alongside Drapion V itself and a Stadium card to remove Path to the Peak. I don’t think it’s very realistic, so while I’ll try it, I don’t expect it to work very well.

I’m a bit more optimistic regarding Zamazenta, which is an excellent attacker that happens to fit in the deck. Zamazenta improves Lost Zone decks because it’s a bulky one-Prize attacker that can one-shot the dreaded Stoutland V. For this reason, it could replace Zigzagoon in this deck since they play the same role, and Zamazenta is more useful in other matchups.

That’s all for now! I hope this guide was useful to you. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you thought about it. If you want to know more about the deck or the metagame in general, you can follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/lubyllule)!

Thanks for reading,

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