Trial by Fire

A Santa Clara Tournament Report with the 1st Place ReshiZard, What I Learned From My Losses, the PikaRom I Didn’t Play, and Oh Yeah Madison
What it can feel like playing with (and against) ReshiZard.

Hello again 6P readers, it’s great to be back. This time I am writing for you all as a college graduate, free from my usual shackles of classes and exams. Today’s article won’t be on my favorite format, Expanded, but rather Standard with the new set Unbroken Bonds. I’ll be going over:

  • the deck that I piloted to a Top 128 finish at Santa Clara (while someone else—Kian—piloted it to 1st),
  • what went wrong for me, and
  • what to look forward to when thinking about Madison Regionals, which is less than two weeks away.

The Night Before (Friday)

I was set on PikaRom or Mill…until right before bed.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was ill-prepared for the inaugural tournament with Unbroken Bonds and hoping for some last-minute miracle of a deck to fall into my lap as I boarded my flight to Santa Clara. I was dead set on playing PikaRom or a Mill list similar to the one that Peter Kica wrote about in his article last week. I had found so much success with PikaRom in the past and the deck was testing well online, but at the final hour its flaws began to unravel themselves. Before I go into what went wrong with PikaRom and what deck I ended up bringing with me, here is the PikaRom list that I wanted to play and why I wanted certain cards in it.

The PikaRom I Was On

Pokémon (15)

2 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX

2 Zapdos TEU

2 Zeraora-GX

1 Tapu Koko-GX

1 Tapu Koko p

2 Dedenne-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

2 Marshadow SLG

1 Absol TEU

1 Wobbuffet LOT

Trainer (33)

4 Lillie

3 Guzma

3 Volkner


4 Electropower

4 Energy Switch

4 Ultra Ball

2 Electromagnetic Radar

2 Field Blower

2 Nest Ball

1 Rescue Stretcher


2 Choice Band

1 Stealthy Hood


1 Thunder Mountain p

Energy (12)

12 L


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 15

* 2 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX TEU 33
* 2 Zapdos TEU 40
* 2 Zeraora-GX LOT 86
* 1 Tapu Koko-GX GRI 47
* 1 Tapu Koko p TEU 51
* 2 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 2 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Absol TEU 88
* 1 Wobbuffet LOT 93

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 1 Thunder Mountain p LOT 191
* 1 Stealthy Hood UNB 186
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 4 Ultra Ball FLF 99
* 2 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 3 Volkner UPR 135
* 2 Electromagnetic Radar UNB 169
* 2 Field Blower GRI 125
* 4 Electropower LOT 172
* 4 Lillie UPR 125
* 4 Energy Switch LTR 112

##Energy - 12

* 12 L Energy Energy 4

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

This list may seem a tad bit unusual as it doesn’t sport the usual Jirachi engine nor does it employ the Turbo aspect with Order Pads. I chose to build somewhat of a middle-ground list that replaces the Jirachi engine with a couple of Dedenne-GX and Electromagnetic Radar. Allow me to explain why I have a few strange tech inclusions.

Tech Cards

1 Absol TEU

I have had tremendous success in the Zapdos matchup with a single copy of Absol. Coupled with Rescue Stretcher, you start to exhaust the Zapdos player’s resources very quickly. Many of the ReshiZard lists that I had seen on the internet and PTCGO were also using the Jirachi engine, so I felt like this card was absolutely necessary moving into this event.

1 Wobbuffet LOT

I didn’t believe that Zoroark would be a heavily played deck but I thought that Zapdos/Ultra Beasts would be a popular choice for this event. The Wobbuffet allows you to build up an early PikaRom without the fear of a Tapu Koko-GX coming in to clean up your board. This card was a flex slot at the end of the day and I believe that I may have included something else in its spot had I tested the deck longer.

2 Electromagnetic Radar, 2 Dedenne-GX

Electromagnetic Radar is the single most powerful card that has been released to help PikaRom become a better deck. Being able to grab 2 Lightning-type Pokémon-GX means that your attacker and draw power are easily searchable. Dedenne-GX is a balanced card that allows you to have that extra dig in this deck. I found that a majority of the time 1 copy of both of these cards wasn’t enough, but 3 copies felt like too many. I tested 4 copies of Radar but found quickly that they were dead cards after the first turn of play.

2 Field Blower

I originally had 0 copies of this card in my list and a Viridian Forest in this slot. I found that more and more random decks were playing important Tools or Stadiums that were increasingly bothersome. I believed that Weezing would be popular, as well as Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX, so I wanted to have an answer to both of those decks. If you were paying attention to the results this past weekend, you would have seen that 2 Shedinja Control decks made the Top 8. Had I found myself face-to-face with this matchup, I would have had an incredibly simple time cleaning out their Shedinjas with my pair of Field Blowers and taken a quick win.

1 Stealthy Hood

I had been hearing the underground rumblings of Stall/Mill decks popping up in every testing group. Even I had been considering it. After seeing that the Vileplume variant had become the variant of choice for many players, I knew I had to play the Stealthy Hood to give myself a chance. In tandem with the 2 Marshadow SLG, I would be able to take enough Prizes hopefully to close out the game. Hood was also really cute against Weezing and Zoroark decks that decided that they would establish a Muk against you.

A Flaw Presents Itself

Like I said earlier, I was having some good results testing online on PTCGO with the list but it began to fail me when I began my last-minute testing session. Kian Amini, Peter Kica, and myself made our way to Channel Fireball to get some games in, as well as purchase some of the missing cards for our respective options that we were considering. I played four games against Peter playing his Zoroark-GX/Persian-GX/Slowking deck and won three of the four, with my only loss coming at the hands of a poor opening hand. Even the single game I lost I brought down to a single Prize and needed Peter not to have his 4th Double Colorless Energy to close out the game. I had validation and confidence in my deck choice after these games, as I had won a majority of them, and then I began to test the ReshiZard matchup.

Hunter Butler piloted Kian’s list against me and I had won four of the seven games played, but I didn’t feel confident in the matchup as Hunter was making mistakes left and right. I went to the counter and purchased cards for Peter’s Mill deck and we headed over to Robert Rosas’s house to test for a little bit with his kids. I played two sets against Daniel Rosas who was piloting ReshiZard and I couldn’t win a single game, even after achieving a Turn 1 Full Blitz nearly every game. That was the final nail in the coffin for my confidence as I knew I couldn’t take a bad matchup against ReshiZard heading into the main event. I was talking to Kian about Cameron Shenoy’s ReshiZard list and we both discussed the final tech cards. I wasn’t a fan of the Acerola but told him that I would not play the deck without including Stealthy Hood, as I had heard the rumors about Vileplume making an appearance this weekend. I pulled aside the cards for ReshiZard, Mill, and PikaRom as I went to bed.

Day 1 (Saturday)

I woke up pretty early because of the time difference to the West Coast, and began inspecting results from the two Regionals that had already begun their respective tournaments. Australia had been chock full of Zapdos/Ultra Beasts and that reaffirmed my decision to put PikaRom back in my binder for the weekend. In São Paolo the meta looked to be ReshiZard, Malamar variants, and Gustavo Wada sporting an unusual Zoroark-GX variant. Given the short amount of time I had, I locked in the list that Cameron and Kian had sent to me and said that whatever happens, happens.

The ReshiZard List

Pokémon (7)

4 Volcanion UNB

2 Reshiram & Charizard-GX

1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX

Trainer (42)

4 Green’s Exploration

4 Welder

2 Guzma

2 Professor Kukui

1 Acerola

1 Judge

1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy


4 Custom Catcher

4 Nest Ball

4 Pokégear 3.0

3 Fire Crystal

2 Fiery Flint

1 Field Blower

1 Max Potion

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Switch


2 Choice Band

1 Stealthy Hood


2 Power Plant

1 Heat Factory p

Energy (11)

11 R


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 7

* 4 Volcanion UNB 25
* 2 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 20
* 1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX TEU 120

##Trainer Cards - 42

* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 4 Green's Exploration UNB 175
* 2 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Professor Kukui SUM 128
* 1 Judge LOT 209
* 1 Acerola BUS 142
* 1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy UNB 178
* 4 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 182
* 4 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 4 Custom Catcher LOT 231
* 3 Fire Crystal UNB 173
* 2 Fiery Flint DRM 60
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Switch ROS 91
* 1 Max Potion GRI 128
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Stealthy Hood UNB 186
* 2 Power Plant UNB 183
* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178

##Energy - 11

* 11 R Energy Energy 2

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

This list may look familiar to all of you by this point because of fellow author Kenny Wisdom’s article or the plethora of YouTube videos that are discussing how it is one of the best lists out there for ReshiZard. I’ll discuss the shortcomings of the list as well as some of the tech cards and why we chose to include them.

Tech Cards

1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX

EeveeLax was an inclusion that felt obvious but one that many players had overlooked. EeveeLax gave ReshiZard an advantage in the Zoroark-GX + Water Attacker matchup because of the monstrous HP that it had as well as the relative ease at which it was able to 1HKO everything in the Zoroark-GX deck.

1 Field Blower

The single copy of Blower was easily searchable with Green’s Exploration and had many uses that warranted its inclusion. The primary one was to get rid of Zoroark-GX’s Bodybuilding Dumbbells or a Metal Frying Pan in Stall decks. It was crucial in the Shedinja Lock matchup, as well as in the Zapdos matchup because you were able to get rid of their Tools with ease if they carelessly placed them down.

1 Max Potion

Max Potion was the unsung hero of the weekend. If you are able to Max Potion a damaged target and then Welder back onto it, it’s like you negated the opponent’s entire last turn. In the mirror the opponent will want to pepper some light damage onto your ReshiZard to set it up for a KO, but if you can Max Potion the damage you gain the advantage in the trade. It is also a huge swing tool in the Zapdos matchup as they will eventually struggle to 1HKO your swarm of Volcanion.

Tournament Report

I headed over to the venue and borrowed my last few cards I needed to complete the deck and felt as ready as I would be for the event. I walked around and there was a lot more Mill than I had originally anticipated and I began to worry a bit. It became too late to make any changes to the list and I was committed to the deck and had to hope for the best.

R1 vs. ZapBeasts … WW
R2 vs. ReshiZard … WW
R3 vs. Blacephalon … LL
R4 vs. ReshiZard … WW
R5 vs. Hoopa/Regigas Stall (Peter Kica) … LL
R6 vs. ReshiZard (Jose Marrero) … ID
R7 vs. ZapBeasts … LWL
R8 vs. ZoroRoc … WW
R9 vs. ReshiZard … WW

Final: 5-3-1, 93rd place, +40 CP

As you can all see, I walked away from the event with some CP and a respectable finish, but it wasn’t the finish that I had wanted to achieve at the event. Kian won the event with the exact same list, so what went wrong for me? This is often a question many players ask themselves after copying and using a list, so allow me to talk about my self-evaluation and how one should generally reflect on a post-tournament disappointment.

Reflecting on the Losses

Round 3 vs. Blacephalon (LL)

I didn’t anticipate having to play against Blacephalon-GX in the tournament and assumed the matchup would be a close one, but after realizing quickly that my opponent played Welder and other methods of acceleration that allowed him to reach the numbers needed to 1HKO my ReshiZard in Game 1, I had to adjust my strategy. In the second game I attempted to swing with only the Volcanion until I couldn’t anymore. My opponent was able to set up perfectly and I thought that he would run out of Energies after having to expend so many resources taking 1-shots on all of my Volcanions, but he was able to use a late-game Let Loose that left me without another Pokémon to bench. I played a little too conservatively and was punished for my play that turn. My opponent had the required Energy to take a 1-shot on my ReshiZard or EeveeLax, so I didn’t bench it knowing that it would lose me the game, but not benching it caused me to lose anyway.

Round 5 vs. Gigas Stall (LL)

In both games I opened a suboptimal starter—in the form of ReshiZard-GX—and felt like I was on the back foot from the get-go. The first game was a debacle as I used a Judge and took a Prize on his Active Hoopa, hoping that it would be enough to end the game. Peter had 2 Hoopa on his field and managed to draw a Steven’s Resolve off of the Judge, dashing my hopes of a victory in this game. Peter set up for the Lost Purge-GX with Lugia-GX onto my ReshiZard on the Bench, and from there proceeded to actually attack and take knockouts on my Volcanion that remained on the board. The second game I knew that I had to simply build up my Volcanion army until it was the right time to put down the ReshiZard, but unfortunately I opened my big boy once again. I brought the game down to a single Prize but unfortunately I had prized that one last Energy card to use ReshiZard’s GX attack and clean up the game. I played the series poorly and was punished accordingly for it.

Round 6 vs. ReshiZard (ID)

I feel like this round is important to discuss because it was not a decision I should have made considering I wanted to win the tournament. This round I found myself face to face with one of my best friends, Jose Marrero, in a round that would seal one of our fates in this tournament. Not wanting to knock each other out, we shook hands and said that we would be fine winning the last three rounds instead. While I am not at all upset by the decision that I made at this point in time, many others may be confused as to why I did such a thing. I’m an emotional player and Jose and I knowing each other’s lists made playing all the more difficult. I would rather opt to give both of us a chance to make it out, rather than end one of our journeys right there.

Round 7 vs. ZapBeasts (LWL)

This was a round I felt like I shouldn’t have lost and I handed my opponent the first game on a silver platter. The game was at 4-to-4 in Prizes as I proceeded to set up a ReshiZard much earlier than I needed to and swing into the Active for a Prize. I had left my board with 5 Energy cards on it, and knew I didn’t have to do that, but something was telling me to go big or go home. My opponent then drew an extra card off of a Lillie, leading to a Prize Penalty that worked in my favor. Again, I was reaffirmed that I was correct in this decision. My opponent had the perfect sequence of cards that allowed him to (1) set up a Tapu Koko-GX that could Knock Out my ReshiZard and (2) also Let Loose me in the same turn. My hand was a heap of nothing, much to my chagrin, and I somehow let this game that was sealed up out of my grasp. The second game I had learned my lesson and only used Volcanion until my opponent had endured the gauntlet of five of them (thanks to Rescue Stretcher), only to be met by the Final Boss at the end of my dungeon, ReshiZard. The game went according to the script and I locked that one up, but the third game was when disaster struck. After using a Turn 1 Fiery Flint and Nest Ball to set up my board, I had a pair of Pokégear 3.0 in my hand to find me a Supporter. The first Gear netted me an Acerola, and the second Gear was a blank. I begrudgingly attached my single Energy to the Active and used Flare Starter to set up my board. I took a few Prize cards, but every card I saw was nothing but a blank. After my trio of Volcanion perished, I was left to sign the slip and I knew my tournament had ended.

Acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them, and keep your head held high.

Going into a Regionals without preparing well and doing worse than you expected always leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, but there are two ways to approach the aftermath. One is to complain and make excuses and the other is to accept the mistakes and failures of the event and move forward with your head held high. While I didn’t win the event, my friend Kian Amini did with the same 60-card list and that speaks to the power of the deck as a whole. Moving into Madison Regionals, I would try to find an answer to the ReshiZard overlords or a way to make trusty PikaRom work out.

What’s next for me? Madison Regionals is the next stop on my world tour before my two-week excursion to Columbus, OH. I’ll be attending the Origins Special Event to play Pokémon as well as show off ARG’s new card game, Argent Saga. I’ll be spending the following three days in Ohio going to Cedar Point and I am willing to take all suggestions on what else to do between Origins and NAIC.

I suppose it is a point to make that I am back to coaching now that I am graduated and searching for a full-time job, so if you would like to inquire about coaching, please feel free to reach out to me on my social media (@thefleeee).

Thank you as always for reading and I hope to see you all at Madison and NAIC!

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