Hello 6P readers! It’s great to be back and writing again as a hectic school year comes to a close. However, even with a busy schedule, I’ve been able to make time for my favorite hobby: Pokémon!
Before I jump right into my adventures with Malamar, I want to set the stage with a quick overview of my season. I started off very hot with a 3rd place finish at Fort Wayne Regionals and rode that momentum into a consistent Cities season. I played everything from Donphan to Pyroar during Cities and picked up another 130 Championship Points. I tacked on some League Challenge Points through the year and went into Week 1-of States with 277 CP. Christopher Schemanske and I spent a lot of time testing for our first States, eventually modifying Dylan Dreyer’s Yveltal list to fit our predicted metagame. The hard work paid off for us at Michigan States as we both finished off our invites with a Top 8 finish for me and a Top 4 for him.
My story picks up in the days leading up to Week 2 where I was having a hard time choosing my deck for Indiana States. I thought that the metagame would shift to have even more Seismitoad variants after it took the first weekend of States by storm. I still liked Yveltal, but I was nervous of the matchup against Seismitoad/Crobat which beat both Christopher and me the previous weekend.
As I sat in class the day before we would leave for Indiana, my good friend Sean Foisy sent me a list for a Malamar/Seismitoad deck. Sean has always been very captivated by cards that involve coin flips, weighing the risks and rewards of each one. This has led to some great successes such as last year’s Speed Lugia deck, but I was absolutely sure he was crazy this time. I forwarded the list on to Christopher and we had a good laugh about the deck.
The next night, my testing group got together in Indiana, still very unsure of what we would be playing for the main event. Sean showed up with his Malamar deck and surprised us with the impact it had in the Seismitoad matchups. Once you and your opponent started exchanging Quaking Punches, being able to put the opposing Seismitoad to Sleep while also Item locking was a very powerful prospect. In addition, MAXamar was a very strong way to close out games. In times of desperation, it was even able to turn an unwinnable game into your favor with a few lucky coin flips.
Christopher and I eventually turned to each other and decided we would give Malamar a try. We had nothing to lose now that we had eclipsed the 300-Point barrier, and the prospect of winning a States with a deck as crazy as Malamar was hilarious to us.
Here’s the list that we ended up piloting:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
2 Head Ringer
Energy – 12
To construct this list, we started with the rather standard Yveltal/Garbodor list we played the week before but swapped out the Yveltal-EX for Malamar-EX. The Float Stone were cut for Head Ringer and we also made a few other cuts to include the Victini, Keldeo-EX, and 3rd Virbank City Gym.
The deck is essentially a Seismitoad-EX deck but instead of achieving the lock aspect with Garbodor, Malamar’s Hyper Hypnosis is used in an attempt to bar your opponent from attacking.
This trades the slightly better matchups against Flareon, Landorus/Crobat, and Night March that Garbodor enjoys for a better matchup against most Seismitoad-EX-centered decks. In addition to Malamar-EX to provide the Sleep condition, we also used Xerosic and Head Ringer to stop the opponent from attacking. These cards were mainly included to combat Seismitoad but also could give us a chance against Virizion decks.
With this new, risky deck in our deck boxes, we were ready to take on Indiana. We were very confident if the metagame proved to shift further toward Seismitoad. However, if players decided to counter the Toad with decks like Virizion/Genesect, we would stand no chance at all.
Round 1 vs. Bronzong/Klinklang
I was playing a local player who was likely a dad for my first round. I was confident in the Metal matchup by just using Seismitoad and Lasers, but the prospect of him getting out a Klinklang to nullify my damage output was very threatening. However, in both games, I was able to target down his Klinks before they evolved and Quaking Punch provided a lock that was too hard to overcome.
I did get to finish off the series with a 7-Energy MAXamar, collecting 4 heads to Knock Out a Dialga-EX!
Round 2 vs. Seismitoad/Ninetales
This round was my shot at revenge. I was playing against Travis Nunlist, a friend from Indiana who gave me my only loss in the Swiss rounds the previous weekend. He, along with many other Hovercats, was playing a Seismitoad variant that utilized Ninetales PRC and Silent Lab to shut off Abilities. They expected more Virizion/Genesect and would use this strategy in combination with Ninetales DRX to get easy knockouts.
Silent Lab proved to be very good against Malamar, shutting off both its and Darkrai-EX’s Abilities, forcing me to rely on my single copy of Xerosic to win the Quaking Punch war. Travis was able to use his own Xerosic in the first game to stop my Seismitoad and trap it Active, allowing him to set up while I sat on a dead hand. Game 2 was basically the mirror image of the first, but I was able to run through his minimal setup with a Malamar-EX that ran rampant without Silent Lab to turn off Victini.
Game 3 was a lot more exciting, as I was able to take an early Prize off of a Vulpix and then two quick knockouts on Seismitoad-EXs with a large Malamar-EX. Unfortunately, Travis kept my Malamar Asleep one turn with a Hypnotoxic Laser and I was unable to get my Keldeo-EX on the board to reset that condition. Once I got down to my last Prize, Travis mounted a 6-Prize comeback as I continued to draw into N as my only Supporter.
Unfortunately, Silent Lab was too much for Malamar to deal with in a matchup that would otherwise be very favorable.
Round 3 vs. Night March
This was exactly the matchup I needed to get my confidence back after a tough loss. Unfortunately for my opponent, this was a very easy set for me. I went first in Game 1 with a Hypnotoxic Laser to poison his lone Joltik, and a Professor Sycamore found the Computer Search to fetch Virbank City Gym and finish the game off in a matter of 30 seconds. Game 2 was not nearly as quick, but a Turn 1 Quaking Punch followed by a turn 3 Lysandre’s Trump Card completely obliterated my opponent’s setup. I was able to close out the game quickly after.
Malamar was actually very helpful in this matchup to provide guaranteed Sleep as Mew-EX can copy Quaking Punch and potentially even win a Quaking Punch war if they have a Muscle Band attached and Seismitoad-EX doesn’t.
Round 4 vs. Night March
This round I played against another Night March player who was sitting next to me the round previously. This series would not be nearly as easy as the last one, mainly because my opponent drew incredibly well. Game 1 I went first, but my Seismitoad-EX went down to a Night March for 180 on my opponent’s first turn. I scooped shortly thereafter as there was no way to shut down my opponent’s set up. My opponent was once again able to get 9 Night March Pokémon into the discard on his first turn in the second game but I was used a Lysandre’s Trump Card shortly thereafter to shuffle them back into his deck. The game was not over from there as my opponent had a Virizion-EX to shut off my Poison and Sleep and was able to use Quaking Punch. However, I got a quick Muscle Band down before he Item locked me and I won the war.
Game 3 looked very scary from the start as I once again stared down 3 Battle Compressor on the first turn of the game. My opponent left a Joltik Active and passed, giving me one turn to react. I had a mediocre hand with a Seismitoad start. I was able to get a DCE down but didn’t have Supporter. I used an Ultra Ball to grab Jirachi but I decided to use Lysandre’s Trump Card instead of a Professor Sycamore. I would be placing myself at the mercy of my topdecks for the rest of the game but the alternative was a sure knockout during my opponent’s next turn. My gambit paid off as my opponent played an N during their next turn. This game was much easier than the previous one as my opponent struggled to get out their Virizion-EX and I could use Malamar-EX to thwart their efforts to copy Quaking Punch.
Round 5 vs. Donphan
This was the round that I discovered one of the big weaknesses of Malamar. Yveltal-EX usually has a pretty decent Donphan matchup, but trading Yveltal for Malamar swaps a Resistance for a Weakness in this matchup. In these games especially, Hawlucha ran through my Seismitoads and I had no better attacker. I had to bench Darkrai-EX in both games as a way to retreat between Seismitoad-EXs and preserve them. I used the single Yveltal in my deck in an attempt to force my opponent to play a 7-Prize game but that was still not enough. The crushing blow in this series was when I tried to mount a comeback in Game 2 by using N to give my opponent only 2 cards in hand. I had a Malamar-EX with 3 Energy and a Muscle Band Active, needing only 1 heads on MAXamar to Knock Out Hawlucha and the only Energy my opponent had on the board. I flipped all 3 tails and did not have a Victini in play to reflip my coins and lost the game shortly thereafter.
Round 6 vs. Landorus/Crobat
I was pretty discouraged going into this match knowing that top cut was no longer an option for me. However, with two more wins, I would be able to at least walk away with a few Championship Points to boost my rating and chances for stipends.
This round was against Dimitri, one of the new local players from my area. Even though he is still new to the game, Dimitri had a very competitive deck and has the fundamentals down pat. I am very confident piloting any Seismitoad-EX deck against Landorus/Crobat, and not just because of the type advantage against Landorus-EX. Item lock shuts down their typical strategy of sponging up damage with large Pokémon-EX and then using Super Scoop Up to heal the damage off and also makes the Crobat line significantly weaker.
In Game 1, I was able to burst out of the gates with a quick Quaking Punch coupled with Hypnotoxic Laser to make quick work of his Landorus-EX. I took down Hawlucha after that and also got a crucial Head Ringer down on his Lucario-EX. He was still able to use another Lucario-EX to start attacking me but the math ended up working out in my favor. Usually, Seismitoad-EX with a Muscle Band plus Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym will cause your opponent’s Pokémon to be Knocked Out going into their turn after 2 Quaking Punches. However, Dimitri attempted to minimize the Poison damage by replacing my Stadium with his own Fighting Stadium. This ended up working against him as I could replace his Fighting Stadium with another Virbank City Gym during my next turn He couldn’t find another Fighting Stadium during his turn and I collected my 2 Prizes off of his Lucario-EX going back into my turn. I was able to win the game with a Lysandre onto a Golbat and another Hypnotoxic Laser.
Game 2 was a lot worse for me as Dimitri ran through my field with a swarm of Hawlucha and Lucario-EX. This is definitely his ideal strategy in this matchup, especially as Lucario’s Corkscrew Smash gives you a good way to draw out of bad hands under Item lock.
The third game went my way as I played the slow, control game. The single copy of Xerosic was very useful as I could discard Muscle Band from Lucario-EX and replace it with Head Ringer. Between this and Malamar’s Hyper Hypnosis, I kept his drawing options limited and took a decisive win.
Round 7 vs. Flareon
Flareon is usually a matchup I feel comfortable with when I am playing Seismitoad-EX. However, Game 1 didn’t start out as I planned. I got a Turn 1 Quaking Punch but my opponent got a Silver Bangle down on his Eevee on his first turn. He overwhelmed my first Seismitoad with a Leafeon and I had no Seismitoad on the Bench to attack with. During that turn of Items, he was able to play an Exeggcute on a Ditto, immediately evolve it to Exeggutor and place a Silver Bangle on it. I got up a Seismitoad-EX next turn to Knock Out his Leafeon but Exeggutor came up and took a 1-shot on my Seismitoad. I knew I was down pretty far at this point so I had to make a big play. I used Lysandre to bring up his Deoxys-EX and stalled him from here. I was able to use my Xerosic to get rid of his DCE attached to Exeggutor, leaving him with only one in the deck. He couldn’t string anything together from this point on, and I cleaned up the game.
Game 2 was a lot more typical. My opponent got out several Eevee early and evolved two of them to Leafeon. I manipulated his damage output by minimizing the amount of Energy I had on the board. He hit my first Seismitoad for 80 damage twice and the next one took just one Energy Crush for 160. We traded knockouts for a few turns until I cleared the Leafeon off of his field. Over the next two turns, my opponent used a Lysandre’s Trump Card and an N to put us both at 2 cards. I took my penultimate Prize during my next turn and my opponent brought up a Flareon. In his 3-card hand, he had a DCE and a Jirachi to grab Lysandre and pick off my Benched Seismitoad-EX with 20 HP remaining and close out the game.
After that heartbreaking loss, I thought things couldn’t get any worse for me. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as my opponent got a Turn 1 Empoleon through Archie’s Ace in the Hole. My setup was much worse than it was the last two games and I couldn’t find a second Seismitoad-EX after the first one went down to a Leafeon with a Silver Bangle. I tried to slow the game down by using Hyper Hypnosis but my opponent had an Audino in hand. The draw power provided by Empoleon kept my opponent firmly in control of this game and I had no way to respond.
The tale of Malamar ends here as all three of us who decided to play the deck failed to make cut. Christopher was painstakingly close, losing his 7th round to a Virizion/Mewtwo deck. He had a chance to win the series with a 4-Energy MAXamar coupled with a Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank combo against his opponent’s Shaymin-EX. He instead flipped 4 tails and went on to lose the series, making Top 16 instead.
In retrospect, Malamar had no business winning or even top cutting that tournament. There were way fewer Seismitoad-EX-centered decks in the format than we expected. Instead, Donphan, Virizion, and Kyogre were successful, all of which are poor matchups for the great squid. Even so, playing Malamar was a fun and wild ride, certainly one of the highlights of my year so far.
Is Malamar a deck that you should consider for the upcoming Regional Championships? Probably not. The rise of Exeggutor and the increased popularity of Virizion/Genesect and Donphan would make it a pretty bad play. However, if you’re looking for something fun to mix up the monotony of your testing games or you get a strong Seismitoad-EX read from your local metagame, Malamar might be the deck for you.
Thank you all for reading! Let me know if you played any creative or interesting decks at your States in the comments! And look forward to more articles coming from me in the near future.