With Pokémon Catcher now officially a part of the Modified format, a lot of players are shaking in their boots and wondering if Magnezone is dead. While my articles normally talk about rogue, and the lighter side of Pokémon, today I’m going straight into the heart of Tier 1, to write about my current tournament deck, Megazone (I TOLD you it wasn’t Leafeon).
pokebeach.comFor the uninitiated, Megazone is a deck combining Yanmega Prime, a fast attacker that uses no energy to attack or retreat, and Magnezone Prime, the best straight damage nuke in the game. While there are certainly more efficient high damage attackers, Magnezone’s total lack of a damage cap lets it run through things like LEGENDs and Tyranitars, and it also has a built-in draw engine that certainly helps any deck go far.
The biggest advantage of Megazone is its versatility: it has one of the best early game pressuring Pokémon in Yanmega with its ability to snipe and strike without energy, it has a huge attacker that can take down anything, and it has the draw power to run a toolbox. The deck’s bevy of top cut appearances around the world began in the Majestic Dawn through Call of Legends format, and has done very well at Nationals and Worlds as well.
So what’s the catch? Magnezone is a Stage 2 Pokémon, meaning you’ll need to evolve twice, or use Rare Candy, to get it into play. Neither of these methods are always easy with powerful decks such as Rush (Stage 1 variants such as Megazord or Cinccino), Mew Box, and Zekrom putting on the early pressure. Hitting that multiple Magnemite opening, and getting Magnezone on the board as early as possible, is key in these matchups to avoid being dominated by Pokémon Catcher.
The basic strategy of Megazone is relatively well known, and I won’t be going into an overview in this article. Learning about Megazone is best done from this article – this article is going to cover a skeleton of the major matchups, and ALL of the tools you can add to Megazone to customize it and make it fit your metagame. There are a lot of them, so brace yourself.
Without further adieu, here’s my skeleton for Megazone. While it has some cards that some people would consider optional, I do not believe the deck is competitive without them.
Pokémon – 15
4 Yanma TM
1 Cleffa HS/CL
Trainers – 21
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 6
These 42 cards form the core of Megazone, and almost any Megazone deck seen in the top cut of a serious tournament will have every single one. Typically, the remainder of the deck goes to between 4 and 6 more Energy, two to six Pokémon to thicken the lines or add techs, and about eight to ten more Trainers and Supporters. The skeleton clearly lacks draw Supporters, and a minimum of three more draw cards should be added to complete any build. Which Supporters these are depend entirely on the style of build you’ve chosen.
With that in mind, the next thing to consider are Megazone’s overall matchups, so that the cards to go with can be decided.
Typhlosion aka TyRam, Reshiphlosion
Average Rating: Even
pokebeach.comThis is a deck that many people claim to be Megazone’s foil, and I have seen, especially post-Catcher, that the opposite is true. While Catcher does let Reshiram hit Magnezones on the bench with relative impunity, making double PlusPower drops to KO in one hit with “Blue Flare”, it also allows Yanmega to remove Cyndaquils early on before they evolve into threats, and later, Magnezone to quickly cut the deck off from any remaining Typhlosions.
While Kingdra is useful for softening things up more than “Afterburner” normally does, now that Catcher makes using Magnezone easier, it’s much farther from necessary. Evolutions attacking with Pokémon Catcher are so key to this matchup, with both decks having decent starts it really comes down to whoever goes first.
Playing this matchup really involves focusing on preventing them from dealing damage – there is no deck in the game that can win a straight slugfest with a Typhlosion deck. The best builds tend to be straight-up offensive bulldozers – 4 Typhlosion Prime and 4 Reshiram form the core, usually with Ninetales for draw. Some builds also run a singleton Zekrom, so be careful; two “Afterburners” and your Yanmegas are taking 80 from “Outrage”.
In the early game, apply heavy pressure with Yanmega; your own setup is important, but any opportunity to KO a Cyndaquil or otherwise set back their offence takes priority, as your Yanmegas will not be your focus later in the game. As the game goes on, and Magnezone and Typhlosion take the field, quickly use the former and any remaining Pokémon Catchers (Junk Arm will ideally be using mostly Catchers in this matchup) to remove the latter.
While it does cost 3 energy to “Lost Burn” a Typhlosion out, the result is worth it, especially as they start to run low on them. By this point your prize lead is likely starting to dry up, but so too should their energy supply. A final push with a remaining Yanmega or your remaining energy and Magnezone is all you should need.
If you find yourself with a slow start against their early setup, there is likely no way to recover; in a leading Game 2 situation, seriously consider scooping early from this kind of position. Typhlosion decks tend to have too many high HP Pokémon to make a victory from behind a viable strategy if they evolve their bench before you can take a prize or two.
Rush aka Stage 1s, MegaZord, DonMega
Average Rating: Even
The only seriously threatening card in this deck is Donphan Prime; everything else takes a back seat. While this deck aims to KO your unevolved Pokémon, aside from slow start situations, this deck has no difficulty evolving quickly and denying too many early prizes.
Be careful to avoid having a single Magnemite on the bench at any one time, however, as a Catcher play could prevent you from playing Magnezone at all, and put you back to square one. Unless such a gambit is required, play Magnemites in multiples.
Offensively against Rush, Phanpys are public enemy number one. Having exactly enough HP to be Knocked Out in one hit by Yanmega’s “Sonicboom”, and having a Retreat Cost of 2, Phanpy really has “Pokémon Catcher Bullseye” written all over it.
Usually, the best thing to do is draw up the Phanpy and quickly KO it – sniping around it risks it becoming a Donphan and wreaking more havoc. That said, an opponent with several benched Yanmas or Zoruas and a small hand is easy prey to 40 damage snipes, as Donphan can no longer attack, in fear of setting up multiple prizes. Once they feel safe after evolving, a late game Jirachi or second “Linear Attack” can quickly turn a prize race around.
Judge is a very useful midgame card against Rush, but only after surviving the initial onslaught. With the aid of Magnezone, a Judge can put a deck with no Pokémon draw power (Rush rarely even runs Cleffa or Manaphy UL) into dire straits while you draw a new hand immediately. On the opposite hand, however, unless you have Cleffa ready to go, opening with a Judge will put THEM in the better position, due to their higher count of draw supporters. The last thing anyone wants to do is Judge a Rush player into a Juniper and himself into nothing!
Rush is a VERY dangerous deck to Megazone in match play, because of its access to the slow-to-kill Donphan and incredible sudden death performance. While the ZPS tech (see card reviews, later) is a strong option in sudden death, it fails miserably in the face of Donphan in general – generally, the better way to handle it is avoid sudden death against Rush at all costs.
pokebeach.comWhile slow play is not always deliberate, when it is suspected, or when the pace feels too slow, don’t wait – call a judge! The judges cannot rule on slow play they did not observe, so the earlier in the match they catch it, the sooner it will stop, or a penalty will be given. Unlike against Typhlosion, comebacks are more possible – Rush often runs out of gas unpredictably when their chain of draw supporters is broken.
One further note on Rush builds: many are running different Pokémon lines post-Catcher, with Cinccino becoming more common, and Donphan and Yanmega both losing favor in the deck. Any version of the deck without Donphan is a better matchup, but Cinccino is just as dangerous, as all it takes is a single PlusPower and a full bench to KO Yanmega. Builds with both Cinccino and Donphan are much more difficult to take down, and protecting Yanmegas by making sure Cinccino is left with a 2HKO is a must.
Stick to the plan: short them out of Donphans using Pokémon Catcher, and use your free retreat to your advantage. Finally, when dealing with Cinccino, consider carefully before you Judge them midgame when their bench is not full: it means they lack basics in hand to fill it up, and Judge could give them the extra Pokémon they need to get that 100 damage swing. On the other hand, in the early game, Rush with a big hand of few basics usually spells trouble with a slew of PlusPowers, Catchers, Supporters, and Evolutions, so Judge away!
Average Rating: Solid Advantage
Gothitelle is to many the new Best Deck in the Format – and to me, a serious threat. To Megazone, however, it stops at “inconvenient”, because this matchup is the first on the list that falls very clearly in favor of the steel saucer. This analysis assumes Gothitelle is partnered with Reuniclus; other Gothitelle builds are generally not durable enough, and can be overcome by swarming Yanmega.
Gothitelle’s big problems are twofold: a reliance on Twins to set up two Stage 2 Pokémon, and a lack of damage output as the game goes on. These can easily be taken advantage of by Megazone’s versatility, by three things: NEVER holding trainers, not taking foolish prizes, and not dealing pointless damage once Reuniclus is on the board.
Never holding Trainers is a simple axiom: because Gothitelle locks Trainers, they stay in hand after Magnezone is in play, and cannot be used. Plays such as a turn 1 Pokémon Communication for a Magneton are very useful just to clear dead cards for when Magnezone comes into play, and to prepare for being unable to play Rare Candy.
All early Trainer plays should be as directed as they can be into getting Magnezone: Gothitelle decks DO run Catcher, and Magneton is the biggest target in your deck.
In the second case, players often think “taking prizes is good” – not necessarily when the opponent has 4 Twins. Taking out that Pichu starter before setting up often opens the door for your opponent to go get the missing pieces of the lock, and prevent you from doing any more significant amounts of damage.
Only take prizes from key Pokémon – notably Solosis. While Gothitas are key to the deck’s function, unsupported Gothitelles are Yanmega bait, having to trade 2HKOs with your free-retreating, zero-energy Stage 1. The typical outcome of this scenario is the Gothitelle player running out of energy and losing.
Assuming the lock does hit the board, careful play to manage your opponent’s available damage counters is crucial. With Reuniclus, and most importantly with no easy way for it to be removed, damage becomes a resource for your opponent, and less of an asset to you. Even with a lot of damage in play, your opponent gets to choose what can be sniped with “Linear Attack” rather than yourself.
The best way to take prizes in such a situation is to use “Linear Attack” to remove any remaining Pichu or Solosis from the bench, then load up Magnezone for “Lost Burn”. A surprise Jirachi drop to devolve multiple Gothitelles or Reuniclus that were storing damage counters could also win the game handily.
In a timed match, the clock is your friend this time: their deck is almost as useless in Sudden Death as LostGar. Be careful not to get greedy with your time and receive a slow play penalty, but avoid rushing through games once you get a lead in the match.
Suggested Tools: 2nd Magneton, More Supporters, Weavile, Rescue Energy, Jirachi
The Truth aka Ross.dec, Epic Rogue, Vileplume/Reuniclus
Average Rating: Slight Advantage
pokebeach.comThis deck is evil, simple as that: it combines Vileplume, Reuniclus, and a beautiful toolbox of Stage 1s, Basics, and even LEGENDs to take apart any opponent it faces. Unlike Gothitelle, it presents a powerful offence from Donphan Prime and Zekrom, and if it gets going, it can easily rip Megazone in half. There is only one problem: getting it going. Like Gothitelle, it relies on two Stage 2 Pokémon, but unlike Gothitelle, both of the required basics have 40 or fewer Hit Points.
This really lets Yanmega have a field day, taking pot shots at their setup. While they do set up with Twins just like Gothitelle, meaning irrelevant prizes should be avoided until late game, it certainly makes it easier to disrupt. More so than Gothitelle, this deck will run Pichu, and ideal builds also run Tropical Beach; take advantage of these symmetrical effects and set yourself up.
Much like dealing with Gothitelle, once the lock is achieved the point is to take cheap prizes of remaining Pokémon, then generate 1HKOs with Magnezone. NEVER give this deck damage to play with, as Zekrom is a very serious threat to attacking with Yanmega. Victory on time is often possible as well, as once it sets up two Stage 2s and a threat, this deck is often playing three or 4 Prizes behind.
Match play time strategies are similar to Gothitelle, but as this matchup is more difficult, Game 2 may often be played from behind. If Game 1 is hopeless and cannot be won on deckout or match time, SCOOP! Give yourself time to win Game 2, and give yourself a comfortable 4-Prize game in Game 3, as it is almost impossible for this deck to win quickly.
Suggested Tools: 2nd Magneton, 4th Yanmega, More Supporters, Bellsprout, Weavile, Rescue Energy, Jirachi
ZPS aka Zekrom
Average Rating: Slight Disadvantage
pokebeach.comZPS is a deck that can provide Megazone definite problems, mostly due to its choice of primary attacker. Zekrom, a Basic Pokémon with 130 Hit Points, Lightning type, and the ability to 1-shot Yanmega with Outrage with only 4 damage counters on it (exactly the result of its “Bolt Strike” attack) means Megazone is very likely to lose prizes to early pressure.
Using Pokémon Catcher, the ZPS player can largely choose what Pokémon of yours he Knocks Out at least a few times per game, making setting up a Magnezone difficult. Your own Catchers can be used to buy time, or to even up the prize race by Knocking Out Pachirisus and Shaymins with Sonicboom, but there is usually little you can do to stop them from loading a Zekrom in a single turn.
Once Magnezone comes out, the game turns around; they have three-energy attacks with poor acceleration, and you have a 140HP attacker that can destroy their offence. Use Lost Burn to KO any Zekroms with energy, and the extra draw power should allow you to finish the game using Linear Attack and Pokémon Catcher to pick off Pachirisus and Shaymins.
After a Spray Splash or a Linear Attack, Tornadus can be Knocked Out easily by Magnezone or Yanmega, respectively, making it much less of a threat than Zekrom. While the matchup is very simple, it is also very luck based: the strength of each deck’s opening is usually the deciding factor, and whoever goes first usually wins. In sudden death, this match is more or less a loss; try to finish games quickly, and scoop lost causes – the clock is on their side, not yours.
Magneboar aka MagBoar
Average Rating: Even
pokebeach.comMagneboar – the deck that won it all at the World Championships, still considered a joke by most people in a post-Catcher format. The reality is, this deck isn’t as bad as people say, because of its high HP attackers and incredible hitting power – it’s impossible for Megazone to take continuous prizes once they set up their board, and with 4 Twins and access to Magnezone Prime for draw, they almost certainly will.
The opening of this matchup is best played by ear: react to what they put down. Whatever they have one of on the bench, be it Tepig or Magnemite, Catcher it up and KO it, or at worst, go for two Linear Attacks. In an ideal situation, you will deny them one of the two parts of their setup for long enough to take a huge prize lead – or entirely, if too many of their basics are prized – before the midgame.
The midgame of this matchup is generally characterized by Magnezone up on both sides, with Yanmega on yours, and Emboar and an attacker (likely Reshiram in this matchup) on theirs. You should have at least a 2 Prize lead at this point, ideally more.
Your job now is to disrupt them and force them to spend more resources on maintaining their setup than on attacking you. Catcher is key here, as is Magnezone’s “Lost Burn” – key targets again depend on the situation. If your opponent still has a decent supply of R Energy, KO their Emboars and try to deprive them of acceleration. If your opponent has six or more R Energy already in the Lost Zone, it is usually better to Catcher up and KO Pokémon with 2 or more energy already on them.
If your opponent has Lost Zoned several L Energy, try to KO Pokémon with Lightning on them, denying his Magnezones’ attack and forcing him to discard four energy from BadBoar to take prizes, or attack with Reshiram.
As the game changes, attack accordingly – and plan to use most of your Junk Arms on Pokémon Catcher. On the opponent’s side, once set up he will likely be taking a prize a turn; plan ahead for losses, and consider taking a 2HKO with Yanmega on a catcher target with no energy, rather than going for a Lost Burn if you don’t have another Magnezone ready.
In match play, the clock is on your side: Magneboar is terrible in Sudden Death, with nothing that can attack without multiple energy and/or evolutions. Yanmega should be able to take the single prize before they can do anything.
Average Rating: Huge Advantage
BlastZel looks like a deck that has significant advantages in the current format, with its ability to catcher up dead cards and snipe for 100 damage with “Hydro Launcher”. Its biggest weakness, however, is against Magnezone Prime, which can take prizes for minimal energy investment, and Yanmega, which can KO Floatzels with two “Linear Attacks”.
Because Blastzel is a Stage 2 deck, without any Pokémon based draw power, Megazone can open this matchup aggressively, using Yanmega and Pokémon Catcher to take early prizes. Even after Twins gets Blastzel set up, none of Megazone’s main Pokémon are within the 100 HP range of “Hydro Launcher”, meaning Megazone can just continue taking quick prizes, or even “suffering” the 2HKO on Blastoise.
While the deck has advantages against other competitors, against Megazone the match is a massacre, and should not be worried about.
Megazone aka MegaJudge, ZoneMega, Mirror Match
Average Rating: Intensely Difficult
mortalkombat.wikia.comAh, the mirror match. This is often the hardest part of playing a serious metagame deck: staring down the same build on the other side of the table, and matching your tools, techs, and expertise against your opponent’s. This mirror match is a very tricky one, with weakness coming into play against Yanmega, and Magnezone’s offence restricted by Pokémon Catcher and its high Retreat Cost.
It is truly a game of cat and mouse – each player has to move to take prizes, ideally of Magnemites, while preserving their Magnezones to clear out the opponent’s Yanmegas. Really, whoever goes first is going to define the winner more often than most plays, but there are some techs that can reverse the odds.
In the opening, whoever goes first will ideally evolve a Yanmega, and Catcher a Magnemite for a first KO, so be prepared with multiple benched Magnemites, especially going second. Both players will continue this exchange until they run out of Catchers, Junk Arms, or targets. Obviously, target Magnemites with energy before empty ones – a savvy player will play a Psychic energy to a benched Yanma early, to enable bigger Lost Burns or force a poor choice with Catcher.
pokebeach.comMagnezone hitting the board signals the midgame of this matchup. Catcher is still the dominant card, forcing Magnezones into the Active Spot, with Switch dragging them back out. Count your opponent’s Junk Arm plays and discards carefully, and keep an eye on their deck during this phase.
Knowing when they’re low, and when they’re out of Catchers, Switches, Rare Candies, or Junk Arms is very important – there are very few good things to throw away to Junk Arm in this matchup, and whatever your opponent chooses to run low on is the resource you should target.
If your opponent discards two Rare Candies, and has used two Junk Arms for Catcher in the early game, you can make more risky plays, knowing your opponent is likely going to have to make a choice between evolving his second and third Magnezone, or Catchering up something on your side of the field. In response to that situation, you should IMMEDIATELY throw all your resources into Knocking Out his initial Magnezone.
On the other hand, if your opponent has no Switch in the discard by this point, consider a Catcher gambit, hauling up an empty Magnezone and sniping around it with Yanmega. It may force them to dig for a Switch, make them attach energy, or at least force the Switch out of their hand.
As the game goes on, the winner will be the leader in the Magnezone count; usually, two to one, then one side makes a Catcher and Lost Burn play, followed by a revenge KO if it was started by the side with one (leaving it one to zero) or a Switch if done by the leading side, as without Magnezone, taking the revenge KO after a Lost Burn is mostly impossible.
While techs are not normally discussed in this section of the article, a notable mention of Jirachi will be made here, because of how key it is to taking prizes – Yanmega’s free retreat, and the importance of getting damaged Magnezones back to the bench will often yield damaged Bench-sitters. A quick “Time Hollow” can often take multiple prizes, and especially if they can remove Magnezones, it can easily end things.
Rating: Strong Advantage
pokebeach.comThere is little to say about ReshiBoar that has not already been said about Typhlosion; against you, they are almost the same deck, but ReshiBoar comes with a much bigger disadvantage in the form of Emboar. Catcher becomes a bigger asset to you in this matchup than against Typhlosion, and you have fewer targets to KO before their engine shuts down.
All in all, it’s much easier than the Typhlosion matchup. While Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND can be teched into the deck, the card may as well read “two free prizes”, as you can simply Catcher it up and Lost Burn it away.
Suggested Tools: None; this matchup is too strong to tech against.
With a detailed rundown of the phases of each matchup, we can much more completely review all of the possible techs and tools in Megazone. With all of the draw power the deck has available, the possibilities are almost endless, but this section will discuss the cards that I (and many other players – all of these techs have seen play either with or against me) feel are playable.
Matchups: Zekrom, Typhlosion
Pachirisu is your more consistent acceleration tech. It lacks the versatility of Jirachi, but while it can’t close out games with devolutions, it does offer the chance to donk, and allows you to run only Lightning energy – which opens up plenty of room for Rescue Energy as well, adding even more consistency. There is little to say about Pachirisu because it is so simple; but it should not be run in builds with less than 9 L Energy, and even then, its acceleration must be well timed.
“The ZPS Tech”
Matchups: Zekrom, Mirror
ZPS still stands for Zekrom, Pachirisu, Shaymin, but in this case, only one of each. The reason for the tech is to provide early game pressure, including a donking option for hands of “Yanma, Energy, Collector”. Zekrom mostly helps in the mirror match, by quickly becoming a threat to opposing Yanmegas, just like Zekrom techs in other decks are to yours. The Zekrom has slight utility against Rush for the same reason, though it becomes a waste of energy the second Donphan rears its ugly head.
Against Zekrom itself, it provides two things: a cheap sponge to set up behind, as Zekrom will burn a PlusPower or two turns to remove it, and an easy way to KO Tornadus without Lost Burn. All in all, it is not a stellar tech, but if the mirror is expected often, it’s a good play. Any remaining Yanmega/Kingdra decks (now considered quite rogue) will take serious splash damage from this as well, as ZPS is their flat out auto-loss.
Matchups: All but Zekrom
Jirachi is two things: the deck’s only serious energy recovery, and a game ending bomb. Jirachi’s “Stardust Song” Poké-Power lets it pull Psychic energy back from the discard pile, while its “Time Hollow” attack returns evolutions to your opponent’s hand, causing damaged Pokémon to be Knocked Out if they have more damage than their lower form can take.
Even if Time Hollow does not take prizes, it can severely set back decks using Rare Candy for evolution, especially mid to late game as the setup and Catcher exchange has caused a flurry of Junk Arms. Jirachi does not come without a price, though, and that price is energy consistency; to seriously run Jirachi, at least three of the deck’s energy should be basic Psychics.
If Stardust Song is not a priority, Jirachi can simply be run with Rainbow Energy, to be powered up manually, but it is generally accepted that the acceleration of Magnezone’s attack is too good to pass up, giving it far more versatility than Pachirisu, at the cost of consistency.
Matchups: Typhlosion, Rush, Mirror
pokebeach.comKingdra Prime used to be called the “universal tech” – as it dealt with the three biggest decks in the format going up to Worlds: Typhlosion, Rush, and Megazone. Now, with Catcher able to quickly remove the single benched Horsea, it can be a risky proposition to run the typical 1-0-1 Kingdra line. The rarely spoken counterpoint, however, is that Catchers spent on Horsea are not spent elsewhere.
Revive can be used to help reinforce that counterpoint, letting Kingdra come out to do its job more often. When Kingdra does do its job, it does things very well: it can be relied upon (with Rainbow Energy) to KO Donphans after a Linear Attack or two Spray Splashes, and it can help Yanmega take out the plethora of 50HP basics in the format. Along with Jirachi, it can also speed the setup of a devolution – really, Jirachi and Kingdra form the “KYJ Tech”, mimicking the effects of the now defunct Yanmega/Kingdra deck.
Matchups: Zekrom, Rush, all but The Truth
The fourth Magnemite is another tool in the box: a tool for consistency, ensuring that the deck’s supply of Magnezones get into play, instead of being cut off by sniping attacks and Pokémon Catcher. Magnemite is a relatively poor starter, having 50 HP, a single energy Retreat Cost, and an attack that just sends it back to the bench for free, at the cost of your turn (you’ll want to attach the energy anyway).
Adding a 4th Magnemite adds to the probability of the Magnemite start, a generally bad thing, but it provides more Catcher resistance, especially when a Magnemite is prized. When two early Catchers spell game over, increasing that number to at least three can be a lifesaver.
Matchups: Gothitelle, The Truth
A second Magneton provides another line of defence against trainer lock, by allowing Magnezones to be manually evolved. It provides a higher probability of drawing into it with Sage’s Training, Copycat, Judge, or Cheren, as well as not having it prized for the ideal Turn 1 Communication play going second. As these matchups are generally winnable going second without it, and consistently winnable going first, the second Magneton is rarely needed unless the metagame is flooded with Gothitelle and Vileplume.
Matchups: Typhosion, Magneboar, Mirror, Gothitelle, The Truth, Rush (Donphan)
Four Magnezones, the most you can possibly run, offers more consistency in getting the Stage 2 onto the board as early as possible, simply by adding one more way to draw into it. It also (obviously) allows four Magnezones to be played in one game should the need arise, which can sometimes be the case against decks with a habit of Catchering up evolved Magnezones and Knocking them Out.
This can be a benefit against many of the deck’s matchups, but it has a twofold drawback: a 4th Magnemite is both required, and risked, by playing 4 Magnezone: once one Magnemite is Knocked Out before evolving, that last Magnezone will never see play. The extra consistency offered by the sheer number is still worth running, though, especially with Revive.
Matchups: The Truth, Gothitelle
A fourth Yanmega is usually a dead card: the deck simply doesn’t need, or doesn’t get, to play four Yanmegas in most games. It comes into its own in two ways: first, against Vileplume (and to a lesser extent Gothitelle) where drawing into Yanmegas to keep taking cheap prizes after the lock is so important, and secondly, alongside Revive, to provide an effective 5-4 Yanmega line, which somewhat strengthens the Rush matchup without having to play Rescue Energy. Overall, it is usually a weak choice, but dependent on the amount of Trainer lock in the metagame.
Matchups: Zekrom, The Truth, Gothitelle, Rush
pokebeach.comWeavile is an odd tech, generally backed up by one or two Sneasel, and between zero and four copies of Seeker, a card that will not otherwise be mentioned due to its only real utility being here. Weavile’s only value is as a disruption card, to look at your opponent’s hand and discard a card found there.
Against Zekrom, you can remove combo pieces; against Trainer lock decks, Twins is an excellent target, and against Rush, it may keep a Donphan from entering the game at all. While what can be caught with Claw Snag can be unpredictable, it is especially effective after a Judge, as in many cases it can stick your opponent with a completely dead three card hand.
While it is unlikely to be doing any attacking, if the deck runs Rainbow Energy, it has the option of sniping, and a free retreat to let it jump back to the bench and spend the energy on Lost Burn. Finally, with 60 HP and a free retreat, Sneasel is a great starter.
Matchups: The Turh, Gothitelle
Bellsprout is a card that exists for one reason: yanking Vileplume and Reuniclus off of the bench and into the Active Spot, preparing them for Lost Burning next turn. While it can also have occasional utility against other high retreat support cards such as Emboar and Magnezone, Pokémon Catcher does the job better whenever Trainers can be played.
Like other Trainer lock specific techs, this should only be considered in a Vileplume and/or Gothitelle heavy metagame, and mostly the former: against Gothitelle, it cannot stop the Trainer lock, only put Reuniclus at risk – which, if removed, allows Yanmega to become a forward attacker again. Adding in the card slot and the energy used to attack and retreat, Bellsprout simply makes too many assumptions against Gothitelle.
Matchups: Typhlosion, Rush, Mirror, Zekrom
Any serious deck without Vileplume is likely to run at least three copies of this card, and max Junk Arms, and Megazone is no exception. Like four Magnemites and Magnezones, four Catchers is for consistency – it adds to the number of Pokémon that can be pulled up, and increases the odds of drawing into one early.
What it is not, however, is a card that helps YOUR setup – something that is at least somewhat required to take advantage of the Catcher pull. A fourth Catcher is most useful in a metagame full of decks where more specialized tools are less needed, and in builds designed for pure consistency.
Matchups: Typhlosion, Rush, BlastZel, Zekrom, Mirror
pokebeach.comA second Switch is key against almost anything running Catcher, as Magnezone retreats for three energy, and can be trapped active while your opponent sets up. Having a Switch prized means not only spending three turns attaching energy to Magnezone, but discarding those three energy with no chance for recovery aside from Jirachi, and even then only in the case of Psychics.
While most decks prefer to quickly KO Magnezones after a Catcher, they often cannot in a single hit, and Switch denies a prize unless they can play another Catcher. In matchups where your opponent is suspected to have Judge, or before refreshing your hand early in the game, it is good practice to use one of the two Switch if they’re available (even when not needed), so that Junk Arm can retrieve them when needed, instead of having it shuffled back into the deck. Free retreat on most of the deck’s Pokémon means playing a pointless Switch is easily undone.
In most cases, a third Switch is completely unnecessary, as there will only be one or two opportunities to use the card in any given game. The odds of having both prized, during a matchup where it will be relevant, and being put in a position where Switch is needed before it can be taken from the prizes, are very, very slim.
Matchups: Zekrom, Rush
Lost Remover is a card that goes “boom, I win”, in matchups where you can have difficulty. Removing a Rainbow Energy from a Donphan, or a DCE from an early Tornadus or Zekrom, can put you in a good board position while they try to get their energy back in order. Against Rush, which in some cases runs Rainbow AND DCE, Junk Arm and one copy of Lost Remover can quickly turn into an energy denial strategy. It is a good 61st card in every deck, and in a deck whose worst matchups both run special energy, a very strong choice in the first 60.
Matchups: Rush, Mirror
Max Potion is a card that plays very well with Pokémon that often have no energy attached to them, and both Yanmega and Magnezone often fall into this category during or after they do their jobs. Combined with Switch, it lets a Magnezone recover after a Catcher play fails to KO, or it buys a turn while you dig for said Switch or load two energy for Lost Burn (play the Max Potion, then attach the first energy).
It can also play very well with Yanmega against decks that can’t reliably KO it in one hit – notably, Rush, and to a lesser extent, ZPS with Tornadus. Every other situation either locks Trainers or 1HKOs Yanmega, making Max Potion a situational, but powerful card to play to stay ahead in the prize exchange, or begin engineering a comeback.
Revive is a card that does not help any particular matchup, but instead helps all of them in different ways, depending on the other tools available. It plays best with Kingdra (to revive a removed Horsea), the 4th Yanmega option (to act as a 5-4 line), and generally helps keep Magnemite losses from becoming game over. While it cannot reuse the Power, it can also act as a second Jirachi. Revive is often considered the 61st card of Megazone, but in heavily teched builds, I consider it mandatory – it’s the universal sharpener in a box of fancy tools.
Pokégear turns Junk Arms into potential Supporters, and acts as a 5th Pokémon Collector on the start. More than one adds even more consistency to getting the first turn Collector, but adds very little to the deck beyond that. There is really no specific matchup where Pokégear helps or hurts more – even against Trainer Lock, it can be used with early Junk Arms to go get as many Cherens, Collectors, and Sage’s Trainings as possible before the lock comes down, letting you build up a big, powerful hand and push out.
Matchups: Rush, Typhlosion, Zekrom, The Truth, Gothitelle
Judge is a double-edged sword: in the early game, before Magnezone, it wishes it was any other draw supporter, save sometimes Copycat. Once Magnezone is in play and draw power becomes a less serious issue, it helps disrupt opponents while shrinking your own hand to allow more Magnetic Draws.
Judge is a core card in Megazone for this reason, along with being a hand equalizer to keep Yanmega attacking. Both are especially key against Gothitelle, as they can drop their hand size down to near zero while you will be stuck with trainers. Vileplume decks cannot play Trainers either, so their hand size can’t change as quickly as Gothitelle’s. Judge is generally played in at least 3 copies, often 4, because of how useful it is in so many matchups.
Cheren is one of three options for a straight draw supporter in the current format; two of which are remotely useful in Megazone (Engineer’s Adjustments has no room in this deck). Cheren’s advantages over Sage’s Training are twofold: most importantly, it draws an extra card. This is useful with Yanmega, especially when trying to match the dreaded seven or eight card hand – simply Magnetic Draw, then play Cheren to match their hand and attack, instead of being forced to promote a Magnezone and Lost Burn, or give up the initiative by not attacking at all.
Sage’s Training is the option to replace Cheren. The advantage Sage’s Training has over Cheren is that it digs deeper into the deck, making it easier to set up Magnezone earlier in the game. The drawback of using it is the three-card discard. In matchups where you’re less expected to need all of your lines, and early pressure is more important (like against Trainer lock), Sage’s is the better play. In games that are expected to be a long exchange, Cheren is better.
Matchups: Gothitelle, The Truth, Typhlosion
Copycat is an old, terrible hand refresher that draws a hand of equal size to your opponent’s. Its strength is entirely matchup-dependent, and against decks that can quickly empty their hands, it usually has no power. To equalize hand sizes for Yanmega against such a deck, playing Trainers is all that’s needed. Against medium sized hands, Magnetic Draw takes care of equalizing hands, and Cheren or Sage’s Training can do the rest.
It is only against decks that can repeatedly hold seven or more cards, or that can lock trainers while playing very small hands, where Copycat is useful. It’s a card that can be nice to have depending on how and what you expect to play, but unlike Yanmega-centric Rush builds, it is far from mandatory in this deck.
Matchups: Rush, Zekrom
Twins is one of the most talked about changes to the format coming out of the World Championships, after both decks in the top 2-of Masters ran four copies each. It is a come from behind consistency card that, when drawn and down in prizes, gets you any two cards: a free setup. It could be a Rare Candy and a Magnezone, it could be a Yanmega and a Judge, or it could even be something and another Twins.
The problem with Twins in Megazone comes from a simple bit of Magic philsophy: realizing who, in any given matchup, is the aggressor. With Megazone, in most matchups, that’s YOU. Aside from staring down a horde of elephants or taking a turn 1 Bolt Strike, Megazone is going to take first prize against a lot of decks and hold that lead for the game.
Twins is a card that shores up its bad matchups and lets it get rolling against decks that could otherwise give it a hard time, while shaking consistency in some of the better ones. The upside to Twins in that situation is, if that loss of early consistency makes you give up a prize, you probably still have the Twins in hand to mount your comeback.
A further note is that Twins has made such an impact on the game that opponents may be reluctant to take an early ineffective prize from you (ie, Cleffa as you start showing Magnezone) to gain the lead if they don’t have a strong setup, in fear of activating Twins. People associate Twins with Stage 2s right now, so even if you AREN’T running them, you can get away with plays like hanging a Cleffa and having your opponent pass or make a bad snipe instead, because they THINK you have them.
Rescue Energy is an amazingly powerful card, one of the most underrated in the format. In Megazone, it lets you choose which of your attackers to recycle, while also acting as an energy to use with Magnezone’s attack. Usually, Rescue Energy is used in Yanmega-driven matchups, so that you can keep a steady stream of attackers while not wasting Magnezones. It is also useful against Trainer lock decks, for rescuing your Magneton back to hand if your Magnezone is Knocked Out.
In the current metagame, I believe one is almost mandatory, and if you don’t need Psychic energy for Jirachi, run three, or even four. I’ve personally found four to be occasional overkill, but they don’t harm Lightning consistency much and can always be Lost Burned.
Rainbow Energy is your Kingdra power supply, and in a pinch, Weavile as well. The downside, of course, is that the damage counter placed on your Pokémon can be a serious drawback in some matchups. Reshiram and Zekrom will only need a single PlusPower to KO a Magnezone after a Rainbow, and after two, it’s an easy prize. Kingdra with a Rainbow has the same problem against Reshiram, but is of less importance. Rainbow Energy is often a necessary evil with Kingdra, but should only be played to a Magnezone in a pinch.
L Energy is needed to power Magnezone’s attack – but remember, the attack only costs a single Lightning, so as long as the Lightning isn’t thrown in the Lost Zone or discarded by the opponent, you don’t need many. Six is enough, if the deck plans to use other energy types to fuel different techs like Kingdra and Jirachi. Megazone needs at least ten energy, ideally eleven or twelve, to run properly; any energy not used for techs or Rescue Energy can be Lightnings.
P Energy only has a single purpose in this deck: Jirachi. Jirachi, as explained above, returns basic Psychic energy from the discard pile, attaching it to itself when it comes into play. The energy can then be used to fuel Lost Burn, or Jirachi’s Time Hollow attack.
Long story short, if you use Jirachi, use at least three Psychics, probably along with Sage’s Training to help Junk Arm get one into the discard pile. Relying on discarding more than one is questionable, but the extra energy never hurts.
Putting it All Together
There have been hordes of Megazone lists posted on SixPrizes in the last month; just about every big writer has posted one on the site. Based on the information I’ve given you, here’s what I’m considering for Battle Roads, and has been topping MY testing:
Pokémon – 17
4 Yanma TM
1 Cleffa HS/CL
1 Jirachi UL/CL
Trainers – 32
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 11
It’s better to develop from the skeleton in your own metagame than to just use my list. My list is designed specifically for what I expect to face at Battle Roads (a good mix of opponents, with significantly more Zekrom and significantly less Rush, with probably a lot of Gothitelle), and the list may change any minute inspiration – or a tournament – happens.
Use the advice on what to tech in for which matchup carefully, and when in doubt, play consistency cards. A bad tech can completely foul your game, but the Yanmega/Magnezone combination on its own has an answer to almost everything in the game. Going straight 4-2-4 and 4-4 with a Revive is certainly a solid option, especially for a player without a lot of metagame experience.
Anyhow, next article you can expect is going back into alternative formats and funky stuff. Do the words “Rotation Battle” excite you? If so, stay tuned!