Hello again, readers. Team Up has just dropped and will become tournament legal very soon. I’m going to talk about the set and certain cards before anything else. I’m also going to cover a few very relevant decks that I feel should be on almost everyone’s radar as matchups to test against as well as decks to consider playing. Team Up has introduced/made viable quite a few different decks, and it has also added more consistency into the game than any recent set.
Team Up Notables
There are a lot of cards in Team Up, and quite a few of them are pretty good.
Pikachu & Zekrom-GX: This is probably the card/deck that is seeing the most hype, and from my experience it has certainly lived up to that hype. The card is incredibly strong, combining high HP, insane Energy acceleration, and a broken GX attack. Add in the Lightning-type support we’ve received in the last two sets, and you get a truly powerful archetype.
Celebi & Venusaur-GX: This is what I feel is probably the most interesting TAG TEAM to talk about, because it is played in an attacking–stall type of deck. I personally enjoy playing this sort of deck, as it reminds me a bit of Primal Groudon in Expanded. However, this deck is even more straightforward than Groudon is, because you’re not hiding behind any Wobbuffet or other walls. You heal with Shaymin LOT and attach Energy until you can attack. Sadly, there is one deck that I feel completely kills the viability of this deck: Blacephalon. They only need to Lost Zone 3–4 Energy to draw 3 Prizes at once. If you think you can avoid Blacephalon throughout the event, and find ways to beat Malamar and Lost March, then maybe you can play this?
Jirachi TEU: This is a card that is seeing quite a bit of play in preliminary lists of a lot of decks. I’ll acknowledge that the card is good in some of those decks, but I don’t think it deserves slots in decks like Malamar.
Pokémon Communication: I’m very happy that this card finally got a reprint. Basically, it provides consistency in some decks that were lacking consistency before. I think this will become a staple in many decks, so make sure you own a playset.
Erika’s Hospitality: Another card that I’m happy to see back in the game, even if it received a significant nerf when compared to Steven’s Advice. Even with this nerf, I feel that Erika will soon be played in many decks, since the ability to draw 6 cards for one Supporter while keeping your old hand is very strong. Like Pokémon Communication, I would acquire a playset.
The Oceania Meta
This is obviously only a guess, and as such I’ll probably be wrong about it, but you gotta start somewhere I guess:
- Ultra Necrozma is seeing quite a bit of hype, so I fully expect to see some of it at OCIC.
- Pikachu & Zekrom-GX is the cool new deck, so I’m sure there will be plenty of it to go around. However, I foresee a potential problem with the acquisition of cards by the Australian playerbase. From what I understand, it is harder to find newer cards in Oceania, so they may not actually own the Pikachu & Zekrom-GX they need.
- Next, I see ZoroRoc being popular once again, because it seems to be the “safe” fallback deck of many players. In my opinion, the deck is horrible in the meta I foresee for OCIC, but I could be wrong I guess.
- Finally, I expect to see a bunch of 1-Prize attacker decks (e.g., Lost March, BuzzShrine, Granbull, and Zapdos).
Without further ado, let’s get into the decks!
Lost March (SUM–TEU)
Before TEU, Lost March was a very powerful deck, but somewhat inconsistent. However, post-TEU, it is much more consistent. This is due to Pokémon Communication along with the Nuzzle gimmick Emolga. I initially scoffed at Emolga in the deck, but the added consistency is noticeable, so I suppose I can support the idea now.
3 Natu LOT
2 Net Ball
4 Double Colorless
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 25
##Trainer Cards - 27
* 4 Pokémon Communication HS 98
* 2 Net Ball LOT 187
* 2 Great Ball SUM 119
* 1 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 2 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 3 Cynthia UPR 119
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Erika’s Hospitality TEU 174
* 4 Lost Blender LOT 181
* 2 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 3 Lillie UPR 151
##Energy - 8
* 4 Grass Energy GEN 75
* 4 Double Colorless Energy GRI 166
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72452 ******
4 Emolga TEU: Emolga has an Ability, Nuzzly Gathering, that allows us to search out another Pokémon with Nuzzle and put it into our hand. This gimmick works quite well with Pokémon Communication, as well as Lost Blender. Emolga also has a free Retreat, so there’s no downside to starting it.
2 Marshadow SLG: Let Loose is still broken, so I’m keeping at least two copies in this list, even though some lists have started to cut Marshadow.
1 Erika’s Hospitality: Lost March is one of the decks that I feel can exploit Erika’s quite well, because of how often it has a low hand size. Even then, I’m only playing a single copy currently because there’s always a chance that Lillie is better in situations.
Lost March is a pretty streamlined deck, so there are not many changes I would make to the list other than potentially the Ball counts.
Oranguru SUM: I cut this card to find space for the Emolga engine, and have not really missed it, but I could see wanting it back, so I thought I’d mention it.
I’ve found that Lost March has favorable matchups against most of my expected meta. However, it does suffer some bad matchups.
You play a bunch of 1-Prizers, and they have to attack with their Pokémon-GX. We win the Prize trade to the point that we can even dead-draw for a few turns and still win.
Psychic Malamar: Even–Favorable
If they are ever forced to bench a Pokémon-GX, we win the matchup, but I think the matchup is fine even if they don’t. Natu allows us to attack on our first turn if we go second, so we usually start with the Prize lead. However, there is one potential flaw with this matchup: Spell Tag. This isn’t a card that is played in every list, so it’s not necessarily something to worry about all that much. Just keep it on your radar.
Ultra Malamar: Unfavored
The problem here is that as soon as we go down to 6 Prize cards or less between us and our opponent, our field gets wiped by Sky-Scorching Light along with Giratina’s Distortion Door. There’s not anything we can do about this, aside from adding a Ditto p + Machoke GRI.
Pikachu & Zekrom: Favored
As soon as we are able to hit 240 damage with Lost March, I don’t see a way to lose beyond dead-draws.
Spread Decks: Unfavored
This includes Malamar/Spell Tag, Tapu Koko Spread variants, and ZoroDeciTales. Our entire field is made up of low-HP Pokémon, and even if we take the early Prize lead, eventually the spread damage will catch up to us.
Psychic Malamar (SUM–TEU)
This is a deck that has so many different attacking options available to it, almost to the point of there being too many choices. The only real changes that I’ve made to older lists are the inclusions of Pokémon Communication and Eevee & Snorlax-GX.
1 Lunala p
1 Giratina SM151
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 17
* 4 Inkay FLI 50
* 4 Malamar FLI 51
* 2 Marshadow-GX BUS 80
* 1 Necrozma-GX BUS 153
* 1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX UPR 63
* 1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX TEU 191
* 1 Chimecho CIN 43
* 1 Lunala p UPR 62
* 1 Giratina PR-SM SM151
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45
##Trainer Cards - 32
* 4 Switch HS 102
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 4 Lillie UPR 125
* 4 Acro Bike PRC 122
* 4 Guzma BUS 115
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 4 Cynthia UPR 148
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 2 Pokémon Communication HS 98
##Energy - 11
* 11 Psychic Energy GEN 79
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72452 ******
I personally do not enjoy playing Malamar whatsoever and hate the fact that I have to consider it as a potential play for OCIC. Despite my reservations, the deck has proven itself time and time again, so I’m forced to play games with it.
95% of this deck is the same thing that has been floating around for months, so there’s really not much to go into beyond a few tech cards.
1 Lunala p: This is more of a mirror tech than anything else, but it also does quite a bit against Pikachu & Zekrom-GX as well. They will usually have ~6 Energy in play, so all we have to do is attach 6 more to our field and we can 1HKO a P&Z-GX.
1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX: This is another beefy attacker that can be abused with Malamar’s Energy acceleration, as well as the versatility of Marshadow-GX. This helps the Zoroark matchup even more in my opinion, which is going to somewhat important in OCIC.
Viridian Forest: This is something I want to test in the future instead of cards like Acro Bike to discard and search out our Energy cards. I just can’t convince myself to actually play more games with Malamar at the moment.
Gengar & Mimikyu-GX: I can see playing a single copy of this to punish the heavy Trainer counts I’ve been seeing in lists recently. However, I don’t know if the 3-Prize attacker is any better than using a Necrozma-GX.
Tapu Koko SM30: I would play this as a pivot Pokémon for when your Giratina has been KO’d. Flying Flip isn’t terrible either, and can certainly steal Prizes off of Lost March.
Spell Tag: I want to play these, but I’m currently unsure of what I would choose to cut from the list, and I worry about what it would do to the deck’s consistency. It’s definitely an idea worth exploring.
Jirachi TEU + Escape Board: This combo would provide a boost in consistency, but comes at the cost of a Bench space. However, this cost is offset by the fact that Jirachi can be used as our pivot Pokémon.
Chimecho looping allows us to set up our board before our opponent does, and it allows us to choose who takes the first big KO. After that point, it is best to take KOs as fast as possible using our plethora of attackers.
Ultra Malamar: Favored
I personally feel that Ultra Malamar is the stronger deck in general, but that it loses to the Psychic Malamar variants. Basically, don’t bench Pokémon-GX needlessly, and force them to trade with your Giratina. Eventually, they’re going to have to bench a Pokémon-GX, so that’s when you should attempt to take the lead. Watch out for a triple Distortion Door + Sky-Scorching Light play on your Benched Malamar.
Lost March: Unfavored–Even
This is a matchup that I feel comes down to whoever can take the first KO, and then keep up the stream of attackers. It’s in this matchup that I want to have a pivot Pokémon the most, as it is difficult to constantly stream your Giratina.
Pikachu & Zekrom: Even
I personally think this matchup can go both ways very easily, depending on if we are ever forced to bench an extra Pokémon-GX. The problem here is that they can easily Guzma around Marshadow and use Tag Bolt-GX to take a 3–4-Prize turn. It all depends on how well they draw and if they manage the T1/2 attacks.
Spread Decks: Unfavored–Even
This seems to be a theme here; Spread seems to beat a lot of things now that I am thinking about it. However, I would be uncomfortable playing Spread at such a large event, so I’m probably going to stop that train of thought at this time. Anyway, Spread is a problem for us because they only need a few turns of spreading to absolutely cripple our board state. You can probably play around it in some of the variants by keeping a low Bench and spamming Giratina.
Format Impressions / Test & Beat
I really don’t know how I feel about this format right now, but I’m leaning toward a strong disliking of it. The concept of 3-Prize Pokémon still bothers me, even more so now that I’ve played games with Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. I find that I’ve either won the game handily or I’m getting slaughtered. The only good thing that I’ve seen come out of this set is the increase in consistency brought to the game by Erika’s Hospitality and Pokémon Communication. I personally do not enjoy the fast-paced, “who can run hotter?” games that I’ve been playing so far. It really hit me how bad the Power Creep has gotten when I used Tag Bolt-GX to do 260 to the Active and another 170 to a Benched Pokémon. That’s a potential 4-Prize card swing in one turn for a relatively easy attack. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong, but my own hopes are very low for the format. Whether I enjoy it or not is less important, as long as I figure out how to do somewhat well in it, and I believe that Lost March and Malamar both have a chance at being the decks that will bring me some success.
Anyway, the format still has to be figured out, and lists made much better (some of the things I’m seeing are blatantly terrible). This in mind, there’s always a chance that some new, fun, and exciting concept emerges from the ashes, and brings enjoyment back into Standard for me.
Going into OCIC, I would test and choose to beat (in order):
- Malamar/Ultra Malamar,
- ZoroRoc, and then
- Lost March.
I feel that if I play all 14 Swiss rounds of OCIC, I have a high chance of hitting 2–4 of each of those archetypes. Hopefully after OCIC we’ll have a much better feel for the format for Collinsville[link] the following weekend.
And that’s going to conclude what I have to say for today. As always, feel free to ask me any questions you have through messages or in person. Good luck to all of you playing in events this weekend and such. See some of you all soon. Until the next one.
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