Hi everyone! Isaiah Williams here with the final installment of our NAIC mini series. NAIC is the day after tomorrow, and I know all of you are as excited as I am to prove yourself in such a large field. Today, I have an article for you on a deck that I am sure you will see a lot—Psychic Malamar—and the various ways you can play the deck. This deck has earned its spot in the RPS meta we are currently in and could very well be the most played deck we see going into NAIC. So let’s get right into it.
Cephalopods in the Meta
Psychic Malamar is in an interesting position in the meta in that it is the only deck that has a reliably favorable matchup against what most consider to be the BDIF Buzzwole-GX/ Lycanroc-GX. The downside is that it also has the hardest loss to its bad matchup Zoroark-GX out of all 3 pairs in the triangle.
Malamar is also quite a popular deck because, in my opinion, it is the easiest of the top 3 decks to pilot effectively. So, as a deck that is relatively easy to play and is able to boast a favorable matchup against the best deck at the moment, it is no wonder that Malamar is such a popular choice. I would imagine that this logic still holds true for NAIC.
If you want my advice, either have a solid game plan on how you are going to beat 2-3 Psychic Malamar throughout the tournament, or just play Malamar. If you’re feeling an inclination toward the latter, then you’re going to want to keep reading.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 28
Energy – 10
This skeleton has space for 10 cards not including the extra attackers we want to play besides Necrozma-GX. If you notice, I find some things fundamental to the list that might not normally be fundamental. Going into a tournament as large as NAIC, you absolutely need reliable consistency. We find that with our 4-4 Malamar, 4 Float Stone, and 4 Guzma. With all of these counts maxed out, there will never be a game where we regret not playing these cards because we either cannot find it early on, or we have none left in deck. Keep these counts at four. When you are in Day 2 of NAIC, you will not regret it.
This card seems to be the best single prize attacker for a few different reasons. It has 130 HP, which is in that sweet spot for non-GX basic Pokémon, making it quite difficult to kill. It is able to two shot every GX Pokémon in the format by using its second attack and resetting the effect with your Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX. The attribute that really puts this card ahead of other options, however, is its first attack. On the 2nd turn, Malamar can find itself stumbling to do damage due to lack of energy or lack of Malamar in play. Hyperspace Punch fixes that problem by softening up two Pokémon in play for 1HKOs later. This can be crucial in softening up Lycanroc-GX so that it can be 1HKOed by a Moon’s Eclipse GX.
Mewtwo is the alternative to the Hoopa and can even be played in addition to the Hoopa. The appeal of Mewtwo as a one prize attacker is its pressure ability. This effectively gives it 140 HP as well as very effectively limiting the power of Buzzwole-GX. With Pressure, the 30 snipe does 20 less damage, keeping your opponents from taking multi-prize KOs. Also, Mewtwo can be useful in the scenario where you do not have access to Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX’s invasion.
This card is another great 1 Prize attacker that is especially useful for punishing your opponent in being too aggressive with big hitters. Clefairy can copy attacks like Lycanroc-GX’s Dangerous Rouge GX or Ultra Necrozma-GX’s attack.
Marshadow-GX is the first GX inclusion we will go over. We play this card so that we can combat Zoroark-GX variants given their Dark typing advantage over our Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX. To use this card effectively, you want to set up a 4-Prize card turn by allowing your opponent to take a lead, then copying Moon’s Eclipse GX to 1HKO a Zoroark-GX or Tapu Lele-GX. Make sure that at this point you have no GXs on your bench so that at most, the Zoroark-GX player can take 1 Prize card due to your immunity. Then you can follow this turn with a 2nd Guzma KO on a Zoroark-GX. From here, you just need to take two more Prizes, which can easily be drawn with a Necrozma-GX.
This strategy would be foolproof, except that both Zoroark-GX variants have answers to the play. The Golisopod-GX variant plays Counter Catcher and Guzma to get rid of the GX immunity, and the Lycanroc-GX variant can use Bloodthirsty Eyes along with Guzma to get rid of the immunity. Be weary of these plays if you decide to play Marshadow-GX.
This card serves a few different purposes in the deck. The primary reason it was included was to swing the mirror match. When your opponent attempts to swing a game back into their favor with a well-timed Moon Eclipse GX, you hit them with Mewtwo-GX’s Psystrike GX. This gets through the immunity and essentially secures a victory for you in the mirror. On top of that, Mewtwo’s first attack is very useful for quick early damage with only 1 or 2 energies, or strong hits when you have a surplus of energy to attach.
This is an easy one to understand. If you do not play this card, your Greninja matchup is nearly an autoloss, if you do play this card, it becomes slightly favorable. Because of Greninja’s decline in popularity, we have seen a decline in this cards inclusion, but it might be a safe play in such a large field.
3rd Field Blower
Max Elixir is a common addition to this deck due to the consistency in early game attachments that it provides. Sometimes, the deck has slow starts, and Max Elixir can really round out the edges in pulling off a consistent turn 2 attack.
If you find that you are attacking turn 2 consistently enough, then you might opt to play Choice Band over Max Elixir to increase your damage output. This card can be very valuable as it allows for 210 damage Moon’s Eclipse GX to 1HKO most GX Pokémon in the game. It can also bring Hoopa and Dawn Wing Necrozma-GX’s attack output up enough to 1HKO GX Pokémon that were sniped for 20 early in the game.
Parallel City can be a great tech for the deck to try to help your Zoroark-GX match up. Parallel limits their bench, and Zoroark-GX variants are very reliant on bench space. This bench limiting strategy can be useful in almost every match up and be useful as a counter Stadium.
If your goal is to absolutely crush the Buzzwole.dec matchups, then this might be the card for you. Attaching a Fighting Fury Belt to your Pokémon makes KO’ing your basic Psychic attackers quite the task, especially if you are facing against variants that do not play Field Blower such as Buzzwole-GX/ Lycanroc-GX. Honestly, I would not recommend running this card in your deck because it is almost useless against decks that do play field blower, but given its strength against Buzzwole, it is worth mentioning.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
This is a very solid Psychic/Malamar list that is focused on keeping a strong Buzzwole matchup, while still having some game plan against Zoroark variants. If I were to play Malamar at NAIC, this is likely the list that I would play because I would hate to struggle against the matchup I am trying to beat by playing too many techs for other less important decks. It focuses on consistency, and it can achieve what it wants to do almost every time.
This match up is very dependent on the techs that each player plays. The player who has a Mewtwo-GX in their list has a clear advantage due to their ability to bypass Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX’s immunity. A player with high counts of Hoopa and Choice Band would also have an advantage because they could easily set up 1HKO’s on the opponents GX Pokémon and then finish them off with Hoopa’s second attack with a Choice Band. Clefairy also has a lot of value in this match up as a one prize attacker that can match the 1HKO potential of Necrozma-GX. In this game, your goal should be to take KOs as quickly as you can prioritizing KOs on GX Pokémon. Beat your opponent by taking 6 prizes first.
Ah, the matchup that defines the format and will most likely be the most commonly played match at NAIC. Malamar was created for almost the sole purpose of stopping Buzzwole-GX in its tracks, so why is the matchup so close? As a Malamar player, you should not underestimate a BuzzRoc deck just because of your type advantage.
Avoid benching GX Pokémon until your finishing Moon’s Eclipse GX in this matchup because it will lose you the game. Continuously stream Hoopa/Mewtwo into your opponent and beat them with the war of attrition. The Buzzwole player, will likely be doing the same with baby Buzzwole until they see an opportunity to jump ahead with their Lycanroc-GX. Lycanroc can give you a lot of problems if used correctly because it is not weak to psychic. Try to snipe Lycanrocs and Rockruffs for 20 damage in preparation for this. This sets up their eventual Lycanroc for an easy Moon’s Eclipse GX KO. If you are able to pull this off, you are definitely in the lead. If you are able to pull this off and N in the same turn, you have essentially sealed the game.
Many may disagree with me, but I feel as if this matchup is easier than the BuzzRoc matchup, especially if you opt to play 3 Field Blower. Because they only have Buzzwole-GX to reliably attack with, you can easily power up a Hoopa or Mewtwo to take very favorable prize exchanges. Just focus on taking 3 KOs in this game as going for a guzma on a garbodor could give the opponent enough turns to win the game. Of course, if you notice that they cannot beat you if you kill the Garbodor, then by all means take that route instead. Play 3 Field Blower, and this matchup should be something you look forward to.
This matchup will also be frequently played at NAIC, but alas, the results will be a bit more lopsided than that of the BuzzRoc matchup. In theory, Zoroark has type advantage, more consistency, and an out to every play you can possibly make. This is, however, just theory. You really have to roll with the punches in this matchup and try to take advantage of weaknesses you see your opponent give.
Sometimes, you can wear your opponent down with a constant stream of 1 prize attackers until they cannot keep up with your pressure. This can be risky, although, because they might just start to kill your Malamars while you hit into them, or Acerola the damage you do. If you notice that your opponent overextends and plays too many GX Pokémon onto the field, then punish them with Necrozma-GX’s Black Ray GX. From here, you can win in 3 turns by taking 3 GX knockouts with 1 Prize attackers. If you opted to play Marshadow-GX, look for an opportunity to take 4 easy Prize cards with the Dawn Wing’s GX strategy. Necrozma-GX is also very useful as an attacker that can 1HKO any GX with enough energies attached to finish the game.
This matchup is very similar to the Golisopod variant, except it is debatably worse given Lycanroc-GX’s Bloodthirsty Eyes. This gives the Zoroark-GX player free reign to 1HKO almost anything they want. Clefairy will be much more useful here to copy Dangerous Rouge GX and 1HKO a Lycanroc GX for a favorable prize exchange. Keep in mind that Black Ray GX is going to be more useful because of this variants lower counts of Acerola and Parallel City so look for an opportunity to effectively make that play.
Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar 50-50
This matchup can range depending on the techs you opted to include. Clefairy can really shine hear as a 1 prizer who can easily 1HKO an Ultra Necrozma-GX. You can win a game by using Clefairy 3 times with your two Rescue Stretcher. A well-timed Dawn Wings GX attack can also win you the game if you were able to set up good numbers with Hoopa’s first attack. Focus on killing 3 GX Pokémon in this matchup using your various techs for high damage output.
Going into NAIC, Psychic Malamar should be quite the blip on your radar. You should either be playing it or have an airtight strategy to deal with it. Having the advantage over the BDIF is going to make it an extremely popular deck and very well-positioned to take a deep finish or even win. Although, for it to win, I believe it is going to need to find a way to deal with Zoroark-GX—whether that be a spicy new tech or a very skilled pilot. If you are thinking about playing this deck, or any deck for that matter, make sure you are well versed in all of its matchups against at least the top 3 variants. This is likely going to be the Pokémon TCG’s largest event to date, and that means it will not be easy.
I am personally leaning toward Buzzroc as my play for NAIC, but I am still experimenting with a few different decks. One thing is for sure, I am extremely excited to see all of my friends in Columbus, Ohio, including you guys reading this. If you see me at the tournament, feel free to come up and say hi, or ask any questions that you might have. I am so honored to be writing my third article here on SixPrizes, and I really feel like a part of the team. Anyway, thank you guys so much for joining us in our NAIC mini-series. Until next time, good luck at NAIC and good luck at your future tournaments.
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