GRI Sableye: Applications of Limitations

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Limitation/Absol
Your Future Is Doomed!

With the advent of the new Guardians Rising set there have been many powerful cards that change how we play our cards like Trashalanche Garbodor. However there are a couple of cards that may have been looked over. More importantly these two are Sableye and Absol. When these cards were first leaked many people thought they were okay but nothing more than that. I myself took a second glance at the synergy of these two cards and wondered how they could work together. My strategy for using these two in a deck would be to use Sableye’s Limitation attack after killing their entire hand, then use Absol’s Future Sight to manipulate the top 4 cards of their deck to guarantee they would have no outs in their situation. Put the opponent in top deck mode, use Future Sight to further slow them down, then use Absol’s second attack Doom News to take a knockout on anything the following turn. This is easier said than done however and in order for a deck like this to work there are many other things to consider. Such as what the opponent is playing, how they are playing their cards, and when you can use Doom News without the opponent breaking the lock or escaping.

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Sableye’s Limitation attack costs a single Dark energy. Absol’s Future Sight also costs a single Dark energy and for another of any type, you can use Doom News on the following turn. These two under the right circumstances can be very powerful but the challenge is setting up the situation beforehand and maintaining that synergy. This will not be a deck overview or a profile on a single deck. Rather, this article will be used to inform you of each possibility of how to setup a good Limitation lock. This lock is simply denying the opponents hand by discarding or other means, in order to shrink their hand to 1 or fewer cards. Then following up with Future Sight to rearrange the top 4 cards of your opponents deck to keep them from playing any cards that they can use to get back in the game.

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There are different types of routes to go with this strategy. Obviously you will want to have the best hand disruption cards to utilize in the early game. The strongest combo is definitely Red Card followed by a Delinquent play. This combo will leave your opponent with only one card in their hand. Now generally, opponents will be smart and leave their draw supporter as the only card left in their hand in order to be able to keep playing normally. Or they might keep a Shaymin EX or Tapu Lele GX as their last card. This seems like an easy way to counter the Red Card/Delinquent combo since the opponent will know that they will fill up their hand next turn. But with Limitation they will no longer be able to play their remaining draw supporter. These two cards are crucial in a Limitation/Absol deck. Wonder Tag is a very powerful ability that allows you to get that Delinquent whenever you need. This is a must have in a deck like this to keep the pressure on your opponent. Obviously, 4 copies of VS seeker will give you more oppurtunities to remove three cards from your opponents hand.

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Delinquent needs to discard a stadium for the hand discard to take effect. Generally you will want to drop a stadium as soon as possible in order to use the above combo whenever you have a chance. These two stadiums are good choices. Silent Lab will shut off abilities from basic Pokemon leaving abilities like Shaymin’s Setup and Tapu Lele’s Wonder Tag useless which is good when the other player is desperate to draw more cards to maintain ther board state. Altar of the Moone is also a good choice since the main two attackers of a deck like this both use Dark energy. Reducing Sableye and Absol’s retreat by two is crucial since you will want to be switching them out depending on the situation you have your opponent. These two cards are decent stadium plays that you want to run frequently in these decks and since you will be discarding them with Delinquent most of the time, you want to make sure you have a good amount of each or maybe a decent split among them. You can even opt to not use Silent Lab at all as there is an alternative that will be talked about further that you can use.

Establishing the Dead Hand
Now you may not always get your opponent down to zero cards in hand but there are other cards that help you get rid of the leftover cards that they have. These options will be used after a Delinquent play to ensure that you will force the opposing into top deck mode. Each one will be covered indivually and are all used as support for a Limitation/Absol deck. Don’t expect to use all of these in one deck. You may want to focus on one or maybe two at most. These cards are going to be your follow-up after dropping a Delinquent to deny the remaining cards in their hand.

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Rotom’s Electric Mischief attack doesn’t seem like much, but in a deck like this when a player has only one card in their hand it can be disasterous. For each heads you flip, (which will be at least one hopefully) you can choose a card at random from their hand and have the opponent shuffle it into their deck. This will require Double Colorless energy in your deck if you want to use this quickly and easily. Victini is used if your opponent happens to have two cards in hand left in case you missed a Red Card play. Being able to reflip coins is very convenient and increases the chances of Electric Mishief being a strong disruptive play.

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Shiftry while being a stage 2, can actually discard cards from the opponents hand rather than shuffle them back into the deck which is more powerful. Other than that the effect of Roll Up is generally the same as Rotom’s Electric Mischief except it cost (D)(C) which is awkward. But since it is Dark energy, it can utilize the free retreat from Altar of the Moone. You can also evolve into Shiftry much faster using Forest of Giant Plants and its grass type pre-evolutions. If you go this route, you may want to only run a split of Altar of the Moone and FOGP and drop Silent Lab altogether. Victini is used to reflip coins for the same reason as Rotom’s attack.

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Granbull’s Startling Bark is very powerful. Rather than gambling on up to 3 cards to deny in your opponents hand, you flip a coin for a guaranteed 3 cards. The attack cost a single DCE so it can be easy to fulfill. Combined with Victini, this attack can be even more versatile than Rotom or Shiftry since it is always three cards that the opponent has to shuffle back into their deck. Meaning that you can use this right after a Delinquent play without a Red Card, and still most likely be able to put them in top deck mode if at anytime they happen to have six cards in their hand. Being a stage 1 means it doesn’t have the speed that Rotom has, but this is a powerful follow-up to consider. Be prepared to have a switch option though like Float Stone since Granbull has a retreat of three. You can attach a Dark energy for less retreat with Altar of the Moone but having a DCE and a Dark energy on a pokemon that won’t do damage can be a weird situation to be in. And you would still have to discard that Dark energy to retreat.

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Tsareena has Queenly Majesty which only discards 1 card when it’s evolved into. But it has the benefit of revealing the opponents hand before disarding. This can be useful in order to guarantee a supporter discard if the opponent has 2 or more cards left. In the event that they happen to have two supporters in their hand or another draw option, you can use Devolution Spray combined with Forest of Giant Plants to discard two cards in one turn. You will want to use Queenly Majesty/Devo/FOGP before using Delinquent to get a good disruption play. However this is still a good follow-up after Red Card/Delinquent and since it is an ability, you can keep this card on the bench and go straight to using Limitation quickly.

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After using Red Card/Delinquent and a follow up of your choice, you will want to use Limitation right after. This means that your opponent will get the chance of top-decking a draw option. If they do, then they will be able to further their strategy and most likely KO Sableye to get rid of their problem. However if they end up drawing into an item or any other card before a Limitation has been placed, then they are in a bad spot. You will want to make sure that even if the opponent begins to setup strongly in a single turn, you will still have a way to counter them. This is why you want to run energy denial in a deck like this. For various reasons, you can’t keep up the Limitation lock forever, but that’s okay. You only want to slow down the opponent for a couple turns in order to stream back to back Doom News knockouts if possible. The rest of the disruption will come in the form of using Team Flare Grunt, Crushing Hammer, and maybe Enhanced Hammer to keep the pressure on your opponent. This isn’t like an item lock deck where the goal is to keep your opponent from playing. This is more of a control deck with multiple options to help get you KO’s without dealing damage, and at the same time forcing your opponent to carefully play their cards from their hand.

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Here are additional cards to consider that can support the goal of this deck. Victini has already been mentioned as it helps with follow-ups but there are other cards that give you an edge for control. Gumshoos GX can allow you to see your opponents hand which is very useful after you have used Limitation. With Gumshoos GX you will always have access to your what your opponent has and you can use this to your advantage to get an idea of when to go for another hand discard play. It is decent as a bench sitter and since it has colorless attacks you can have the option of using Gumshoe Chance GX to take a surprise KO if the oppurtunity arises. Alolan Muk is a very good alternative to using Silent Lab. Silent lab can be replaced or more likely, discarded with your own Delinquent combo. This will give your opponent more options to escape a dead hand since they will be able to use Lele GX, Shaymin, and even Oranguru. While it’s true that BKT Garbodor can do the same thing, it will also shut off your own abilities like Victory Star and your own Search the Premises. Garbodor also has a single card counter which is Field Blower. You can deny this card with Future Sight manipulation but that can be a hassle since you only want to worry about draw supporters and VS Seekers. Silent Lab and Garbotoxin both have single card counters where as with Alolan Muk, the opponent actually has to commit more than one card in order to deal with it. Which isn’t easy for them when you are blocking them from playing a Lysandre while denying them energy as well. Captivating Pokepuff is a good tech that can be used maybe as a one-of in certain variations. The idea of this card is that the opponent will be smart and not downplay their hand as much if they break out of a Limitation lock. Pokepuff can force your opponent to bench a Shaymin without activating its ability. They also have to reveal their hand when this card is used so you get to see what they will most likely play next. It also means that if it is successful, then that is one less card in their hand.

Future Sight of Doomed News
So the way you would play this deck is to ideally start with a Sableye in the begining of the game. Early game Limitation can be just as dangerous as being item locked since the first turns of many decks will give way to how their decks set up and flow. If your opponent cannot set up their board properly on the first couple of turns then you have already slowed them down. You want to keep track of the opponents hand size at all times. Remember that you have access to Red Card/Delinquent but in the event that you don’t you can still use Delinquent and a follow-up to remove 4 cards from their hand or if you’re lucky 6! In the early game you want to go for Red Card/Delinquent if it is possible since a follow up can disrupt your opponent very quickly. Your Dead Hand setup will depend on how many cards the opponent has in their hand. If the opponent has 5 or more: Red Card/Delinquent/follow up. If the opponent has 4 cards, then simply use Delinquent/follow. If they have three or less, then a single Delinquent will do. This might seem obvious but consider the pressure this puts on the opponent. With you having access to these combos and energy denial in between, your opponent will have to worry about having less than 5 cards in their hand. And no matter how big their hand gets, Red Card can ruin their day. It will be difficult to make a comeback after they have suffered from a Dead Hand setup. Unless a Tsareena Queenly Majesty follow-up was used, your opponent will have a chance to draw into something that can save them from no cards to play. But you don’t have to go for Rotom, Granbull, Shiftry, or Tsareena for a follow-up. Many times, following up with Limitation can be just as disruptive. You may not always need to get rid of that last card in their hand if you can see it with the ability Search the Premises. If you have Gumshoos GX on the bench, then you can see whether or not the remaining card or cards will help your opponent get out of top-deck mode. Remember, using Rotom, Granbull, or Shiftry as a follow-up to attack will give your opponent an opening to fill their hand if they top-deck a Proffesor Sycamore or N. To minimize the risk of this, many times Sableye’s Limitation is the best follow-up if you have access to their hand.

After using Limitation, the next step is moving Absol into the fray which shouldn’t be difficult since Sableye has only one retreat and you should be playing Altar of the Moone anyways. You then want to use Future Sight to rearrange the top four cards of their deck in whatever order you like. This is very powerful. The name of this attack is very fitting because you will know exactly what your opponent is drawing the next four turns. Once you see the top four cards, you will probably want to put the Supporters all the way to the bottom where the fourth card will be. Tools or Energy won’t be that much of a threat so you can prioritize them if you want. Using Future Sight is not just a matter of denying your opponent for a turn or two. You need to look at their board state and ask, what is the least useful card that can help them in this situation? Decide what that is and place it on top. Do the same for the second card by process of elimination. If there is a draw supporter like Sycamore or N then put it as the THIRD card that they would draw. Put any retreat options like Float Stone or Escape Rope as the last card since that will allow them to dodge a knockout. Now it is very Important that you place the draw supporter as the third card and not the last.

Example: Say you kill your opponents hand with your combo. Your opponent draws a card, and passes. You have Gumshoos GX and have them reveal their hand. If it is a retreat option, then you will need to get rid of that card from their hand since retreating will save them from Doom News. If they attached an energy or it was another card other than a supporter, then you use Absol’s Future Sight to rearrange their next 4 cards. Lets say these are the cards you have to manipulate: Professor Sycamore, Float Stone, Basic energy, Shaymin. Depending on the board state you will be arranging these cards differently but you want to place the Professor Sycamore as the third card to be drawn. Let’s say you have an Alolan Muk on your bench. You know that its ability will block Shaymin EX so you can go ahead and place Shaymin as the first card since it will not help them out at all. Next you can place the basic energy as the second card, Sycamore as the third, and Float Stone as the last. Your turn has now ended because you used Future Sight. Your opponent draws out of their dead hand into Shaymin EX which is useless to them now. They are forced to pass. Now you can use Doom News with Absol as they draw into their next card which is an energy. At the end of their turn the defending Pokemon is knocked out and you take your prize. Now going back into your turn, place Sableye back in the active to use Limitation. The Sycamore they have drawn into is now useless for that turn so they pass again. Now you can go for another hand denial play to get rid of that supporter and get ready to go for another Future Sight/Doom News setup. This is usually the best case scenario but you may not always have the chance to place a suporter exactly where you want it with future sight because of the issue of multiple supporters or switch options to avoid Doom News. If this is the case, then just reset back into a hand denial play and try again. Or manipulate your opponents next cards so you can keep them playing slowly while you continue to deny their resources.

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It is important to keep a number of mill cards at your disposal in a deck like this. As stated before, the Limitation lock will not last forever so you will need other cards to deny an opponents recovery. You might be able to block supporters from being played but you can’t stop your opponent from playing a VS Seeker. This will be an instant comeback card for them whenever they draw into it since they can hold onto it until they get an opening to use a supporter. Dealing with VS Seeker can be as easy as simply placing it as the second card that they would draw into with Future Sight, and then using one of these milling options to get rid of it. The less VS Seekers your opponent has the better. Also be aware of items, abilities, or attacks that can shuffle the deck since it can break a Future Doom News setup. Cards like Nest Ball, Max Elixir, Energy Loto, and Brooklet Hill can counter the manipulation that you placed on them. Abilities like SM Vikavolt’s Strong Charge or attacks like STS Xerneas’ Geomancy can also shuffle the deck and ruin a topdeck manipulation. Use the same strategy for dealing with VS Seeker to discard these cards when you have the chance. You may get a Future Sight that looks similar to this: N, Max Elixir, Professor Sycamore, Escape Rope. In situations like these, where there is more than one card that can give the opposing player an out from an incoming Doom News attack, you’re better off resetting the lock and going for another hand denial play like Rotom that will shuffle the deck to give you another shot at taking a knockout with Absol. You may want to play at least two Team Rocket’s Handiwork and maybe some PRC Bunnelby to avoid running into this situation often. You will not always have a good 4 cards to work with when using Future Sight so it is important to know when to go for a KO, mill, or reset the lock and try again. This deck also has the stall capability of decking the opponent out if it is played smart enough. This will depend on the matchup and how fast your opponent draws through their deck.

Counters to watch out for:

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There are certain matchups that will be very difficult to rely on the usual strategy of this deck. If you are playing against a deck that happens to use Dark energy, Rainbow Energy, or Double Dragon Energy, then you need to remember that they will be able to take advantage of your Altar of the Moone to retreat from a Doom News effect. For decks like these, make sure you don’t have that stadium in play when going for a KO. This can be a difficult thing to manage but it wil require that you be more careful unless they also play the same stadium. In which case the only way to remove it would be a Delinquent. This is also why it is important to run Enhanced Hammer here. Decks that play a strong attacker with free retreat can be a problem. Something like GEN Raichu can easily avoid Doom News whenever it wants. To get around this, you will need to focus more on dragging something from the bench without free retreat to take a knockout on that instead. Lysandre is a good card for this but this deck already will play a lot of supporters so consider using Repel/Escape Rope in addition to a single Lysandre and you might be able to play around them. Even if the opponent has a retreat cost of 1, that can still be prevented by energy denial. But decks that have pokemon with free retreat and/or BKT Zoroark can be a bad matchup. Any deck that runs BKT Octillery can avoid Alolan Muk’s Power of Alchemy ability and draw out of a dead hand easily every turn. For a deck like this, you simply want to not go for a Future Doom News at all and instead constantly stream energy denial and mill cards while keeping a Limitation lock in place. Remember you have Gumshoos GX and Tapu Lele GX that can function as attackers for decks like these that give you trouble. Some of the worst matchups for Limitation/Absol are single energy attackers. Decks like Greninja Break or Tauros GX can run straight through Sableye and other benched pokemon very easily. Energy denial won’t be that effective against these types of decks and Tapu Lele GX and Gumshoos GX both rely on the opponent having multiple energy attached to deal extra damage, which won’t happen. Single energy attackers will force this deck to go into full deck out/Limitation mode. But even then, those games can be lost easily.

So there you have it. The goal of a deck like this follows a flowchart of some sorts and requires a player to carefully plan ahead. But when up against an EX or GX Pokemon this deck can trade prizes very well. Speed is not a factor in a deck like this. If you plan to build Limitation/Absol know that each variant will be played differently. Each follow-up option has its pros and cons so it is up to preference on how to build the rest of the deck. To end this, I have put together a skeleton list of what cards to generally keep when building Limitation/Absol

Pokemon
4 GRI Absol
3-4 GRI Sableye
3-4 Follow-up option of your choice
2 GRI Victini (depends on follow-up)
1-2 GRI Tapu Lele GX
1-2 PRC Bunnelby
1 SM Yungoos
1 SM Gumshoos GX
1 SM Alolan Grimer *
1 SM Alolan Muk *

Supporters/Stadium
4 Delinquent
2 Team Flare Grunt
2 Team Rocket’s Handiwork
1-2 Lysandre
3 Altar of the Moone
1 Silent Lab *

Items
4 Crushing Hammers
3-4 Red Card
1-2 Enhanced Hammer
1-2 Field Blower
*Play one or the other to shut off Basic Pokemon Abilities. No need to play both if you can cut space.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have found this article to be creative and informative. This deck is certainly fun to play and requires a lot of thought between turns. I encourage those brave enough to use this deck to experiment with each follow-up variation to see which one best fits their playstyle.