Moving Squid-ward

On ReshiZard’s Dominance, the (Mostly) Failed Attempts to Counter ReshiZard, and a Potential Savior, Malamar, in Two Flavors (Standard and Techy)
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It’s not flashy, but, as Tord says, “Consistency is king.” (Lists below…)

Hello again 6P! I’m happy to be back with another article for you people as we are now drawing closer to the end of the season. We only have two weekends of Pokémon left, which include the Origins SPE, Brazil SPE, South Africa SPE, Sweden Regionals, and finally the big kahuna: NAIC.

ReshiZard Dominates

So far in the Unbroken Bonds era, we have seem ReshiZard dominate even more so than did in the previous quarter. Despite the fact that Azul fell short vs. Ian Robb’s Blacephalon-GX deck in the final at Madison, I’m a firm believer that that matchup is as 50/50 as it gets, since 6 Energy in play isn’t exactly easily accomplished twice in back-to-back turns. Having said that, Blacephalon-GX decks will gain some traction and confidence after the Madison Regionals result, and I would not be surprised if they had a solid presence at the events taking place this weekend.

Coincidentally, we had Japan Nationals take place this past weekend, and unsurprisingly enough, ReshiZard took down the whole event. Even though Japan has already gotten three new sets since ReshiZard was first released, the deck was still able to take the win, and with few inclusions from the newer sets. The biggest one being Cherish Ball, which allows you to search your deck for any GX or EX and put it into your hand, which is arguably better Ultra Ball or Nest Ball for the deck except when looking for Let Loose Marshadow. The winning list isn’t too far off from what I won São Paulo Regionals with, but those tournament results are not relevant for us as Unified Minds will only be legal once we have shifted format to the new Standard already.

Attempts to Counter

As for the next two weeks, I’m pretty sure we can expect more of the same: ReshiZard will be as popular as ever, and people will (for the most part unsuccessfully) attempt to counter it. So what are those counters?

  • Madison Regionals portrayed Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel as a potential counter.
  • Zoroark-GX/Slowking was touted as a solid one, except it fell short when it most mattered, in the ReshiZard matchup in Top 8, twice.
  • Quagsire/Naganadel has all it needs on paper to succeed, yet it doesn’t put up strong enough numbers versus the Eevee & Snorlax-GX techs in ReshiZard, and suffers from consistency issues.
  • Lightning decks have been the ones to post the most consistent results versus ReshiZard as of now, with our own Xander Pero making it past one ReshiZard in Top 8 at Madison, but falling short in Top 4. In my opinion though, that was only because the ReshiZard lists that made Top 8 lacked Choice Band, which makes the PikaRom matchup infinitely easier if it is included.

It’s no secret that ReshiZard is my favorite deck by far, and my top choice for NAIC. My list has also barely changed since the Regional win, and I’ve already gone over ReshiZard a bunch in other articles. So today I want to go over , which isn’t anything stellar, doesn’t have any true favorable matchups, but also doesn’t have any horrible ones, either.

Standard Malamar

In the words of Tord Reklev after he won the Tablemon Invitational: “Consistency is king,” and that is exactly what Malamar has going for it. A great combination of non-GX and GX attackers, OHKO potential, and ease of setup make this an incredibly reliable deck. It doesn’t boast the raw strength that ReshiZard or even PikaRom display since the first turn of the game, as it requires at least one turn of Inkay setup. It also doesn’t have the long-term reliability of ZapBeasts with 4 copies of Jirachi TEU; the cards you see after a Cynthia are the cards you have to play with, and there is no digging for more in most situations. However, Giratina’s Distortion Door combines nicely with Ultra Necrozma-GX’s Photon Geyser to make sure the TAG TEAMs have to make difficult decisions between pursuing Malamars or targeting down the GX straight up.

Here is where my list stands, and given how ZapBeasts (this deck’s arguably worst matchup) underperformed in Madison, I think Malamar has the potential to shine in the upcoming tournaments.

Pokémon (17)

4 Inkay FLI

4 Malamar FLI

2 Giratina LOT

2 Ultra Necrozma-GX

1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Jirachi TEU

1 Marshadow SM85

1 Mew UNB

Trainer (33)

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

3 Cynthia

1 Erika’s Hospitality

 

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Ultra Ball

3 Nest Ball

3 Switch

1 Rescue Stretcher

2 Escape Board

1 Choice Band

 

3 Viridian Forest

Energy (10)

6 Psychic

3 Metal

1 Beast p

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 17

* 4 Inkay FLI 50
* 4 Malamar FLI 51
* 2 Giratina LOT 97
* 2 Ultra Necrozma-GX FLI 127
* 1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 165
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Marshadow PR-SM 85
* 1 Mew UNB 76

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 2 Escape Board UPR 167
* 4 Lillie SUM 147
* 3 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 1 Erika's Hospitality TEU 174
* 3 Cynthia UPR 148
* 4 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Choice Band BUS 162
* 3 Viridian Forest TEU 156
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 145

##Energy - 10

* 1 Beast Energy p FLI 117
* 3 Metal Energy SUM 163
* 6 Psychic Energy SUM 162

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73599 ******

Pokémon

Nothing surprising here, with a maxed out 4-4 Malamar line, 2 copies of each main attacker (Giratina LOT + Ultra Necrozma-GX), plus only a copy of the risky TAG TEAM (Gengar & Mimikyu-GX) to make sure we’re not starting with it often, a Jirachi to help out with the occasional Stellar Wish. 1 Marshadow Let Loose and 1 Tapu Lele-GX is our disruption + consistency package, and a Bench Barrier Mew is included to make sure PikaRom can’t overwhelm us with the + bonus of Tag Bolt GX.

Trainers

Once again, no surprises here with 4 Lillie, 4 Guzma, and 3 Cynthia plus 1 Erika’s Hospitality (which could easily be 4 Cynthia, if preferred that way). 4 Mysterious Treasure, 4 Ultra Ball, and 3 Nest Ball help us in getting that crucial Turn 1 board filled with Inkays. 3 Viridian Forest are included so that we can win Stadium wars plus make sure we never lack the correct Energy for an attack, and enough switching cards with 3 Switch and 2 Escape Board so that getting our attacker powered up on the Bench and then to the Active is not an issue. 1 Choice Band is a great damage modifier for Photon Geyser, especially in combination with Beast Energy p.

Energy

There’s been debate whether 6 or 7 Psychic is correct, along with 2 or 3 Metal. I personally like this array as 2 Metal has led to some bad experiences with the Beast Energy not being searchable by Viridian Forest, but I can see the argument for only running 2 Metal, too.

Matchups

As far as matchup goes, it goes without saying that every game you want to get a Bench full of Inkays, that lead into the middle game of swarming with Giratinas or dealing with the big GXs with Ultra Necrozma-GX. However, there are some specifics to go through:

ReshiZard: Even

As long as you keep your bench clear of GXs, they won’t trade super efficiently. The issue in this match is how fast they get going, but if you can match their pace, Giratina’s Distortion Door is key to place 1 counter on their main attacker, and therefore back-to-back Shadow Impacts will KO them. If you can keep their focus on the Giratinas, or they whiff Guzma, it could lead to a follow-up final KO with Ultra Necrozma-GX.

PikaRom: Even

They key to this matchup is the timing of the Mew. Generally you won’t want to bench it until they commit themselves to loading up a Pikachu with Full Blitz, that way you essentially make their extra attachments useless. Preemptively benching it means they will not bother and thus go for a more efficient target, or worse, they will Guzma–KO the Mew while powering themselves up. If the Mew prevents the 2-Prize turn, the Giratina onslaught might be enough to overcome them, assuming you didn’t go too far behind to some quick Zapdos KOs in your early setup.

ZapBeasts: Unfavorable

The deck’s worst matchup by far because of how early they can apply pressure, and because you have no way to disrupt their Stellar Wishes. If you somehow manage to stabilize without going 1 or 2 Prizes behind, focusing on swarming with Giratina is your best bet, and trying to find an opening to get a multi-prize Sky-Scorching Light GX toward the end of the game is the only chance to win.

Zoroark-GX/Persian-GX: Slightly Favorable

The removal of Lycanroc-GX from Zoroark decks means it’s much harder for them to continually hunt down Malamars. Also, Slowking is pretty useless against you for the most part, as long as you don’t place the self-damage from Shadow Impact on your own Giratina. Dewgong is a big threat, but as long as you are able to time the Mew well, it directly counters that. If, however, they are able to get Dewgong with Alolan Muk, that usually means 2 Inkays will be gone on Turn 2.

Hoopa/Regigigas/Lucario & Melmetal-GX: Favorable

The key to this matchup is managing your resources properly, namely Guzmas and Switches. They won’t apply much pressure so slow and steady wins the race, there’s no need to fill up your Bench with Marshadow or Tapu Lele-GX as you can even draw–pass for a few turns. Make sure every Switch or Guzma = a Prize. Hoopas can be kind of annoying since you 2HKO them with Giratina but, as I said, you are in absolutely no rush to win quickly versus them. You have all the time in the world to get your setup as perfect as possible.

Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel: Slightly Unfavorable

Without Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX, this matchup can be a bit tricky, as they might be ahead in the Prize race by 2 Prizes before you are able to respond properly. You need to turn off Beast Ring right after you turn it on, and 2HKOing the first Blacephalon-GX with Giratinas is perfectly fine, so that you can shut off Beast Ring with Ultra Necrozma-GX, and hopefully close out the game with a second one.

Quagsire/Naganadel: Even

Both decks can go with the non-GX approach, and both decks have GX attackers that can potentially achieve multi-Prize KOs. Mew helps shore the threat of Magikarp & Wailord-GX, but there’s little we can do to prevent a big Beast Game GX KO other than try to keep the board clear of Energy. Malamar is more efficient at recovering from KOs, which is what we need to do in order to keep up the pressure and prevent the build up to the multi-Prize KO.

Weezing: Unfavorable

A not-so-great matchup, since we do need a lot of stabilization early on, which means damage counters on our multiple Inkays, and the Giratina approach is not ideal since we place even more damage counters on our own Pokémon. Mew can only do so much to protect us, and I think you have to accept this is a terrible matchup—no matter what—and move on.

On Gengar & Mimikyu-GX

As you can see, I never once mentioned Gengar & Mimikyu-GX. That is not because it isn’t useful, but rather because its attacks are extremely situational. It’s a great option to have, just not the most reliable one. In the global sense you don’t need it, but the more you play with the deck, the more instances you will notice where you can get a cheap KO with it, as it only requires 1 Malamar and 1 Energy attachment to fully power up in a single turn. A well-timed Horror House GX can give you that extra crucial turn to find a Guzma to close out a game as well.

Techy Malamar

The more techy version of Malamar features a ton of 1-ofs including:

  • 1 Ditto p: Can act as a 5th Inkay, but primarily gives you the option to evolve into various Stage 1s in order to pressure with your tech options.
  • 0-1 Dewgong UNB: Dual Blizzard can be extremely potent in the mirror match, picking off 2 Inkay at once or against Zoroark decks, 2 Zorua’s or a Ditto p too. The bench damage can also work reasonably well with Giratina’s Distortion Door Ability, as a way to close out games.
  • 0-1 Drifblim UPR: The holy grail of anti-Weezing cards, essentially turning a bad matchup into an autowin. It’s impossible for Weezing to OHKO. This card returns any and all damage counters on your side of the field back to the Weezing, fully healing your board and taking a KO in the process.
  • 0-1 Alolan Muk SUM: A great way to help combat Zapdos decks, although it does shut off your own Distortion Door as well. It can be a good trade-off though, as Jirachi is super key to Zapdos decks and without it, they might struggle to get back-to-back attacks going in the mid to late stages of a game.
  • 1 Chimecho CIN: Bell of Silence is incredibly good against many decks, especially mirror matches and Zoroark decks. Combine that with a follow-up Dual Blizzard from Dewgong and your opponent will likely heavily struggle to set up. It can also be a good attacker versus Weezing to delay them from evolving and placing damage counters early on.
  • 1 Mimikyu GRI: A great 2-Energy attacker option, less risky and potentially just as powerful as Mimikyu & Gengar-GX, especially when Copycat gets to use powerful attacks like Full Blitz or Flare Strike.

This is what the more techy version of the deck would look like:

Pokémon (19)

4 Inkay FLI

4 Malamar FLI

2 Giratina LOT

1 Ultra Necrozma-GX

1 Ditto p

1 Dewgong UNB

1 Drifblim UPR

1 Chimecho CIN

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Jirachi TEU

1 Marshadow SM85

1 Mew UNB

Trainer (33)

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

3 Cynthia

1 Erika’s Hospitality

 

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Ultra Ball

3 Nest Ball

3 Switch

1 Rescue Stretcher

2 Escape Board

1 Choice Band

 

3 Viridian Forest

Energy (8)

6 Psychic

2 Metal

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 19

* 4 Inkay FLI 50
* 4 Malamar FLI 51
* 2 Giratina LOT 97
* 1 Ultra Necrozma-GX FLI 127
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Dewgong UNB 45
* 1 Drifblim UPR 52
* 1 Chimecho CIN 43
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Marshadow PR-SM 85
* 1 Mew UNB 76

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 2 Escape Board UPR 167
* 4 Lillie SUM 147
* 3 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 1 Erika's Hospitality TEU 174
* 3 Cynthia UPR 148
* 4 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Choice Band BUS 162
* 3 Viridian Forest TEU 156
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 145

##Energy - 8

* 2 Metal Energy SUM 163
* 6 Psychic Energy SUM 162

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73599 ******

As you can see, the engine doesn’t change at all, but the Pokémon lineup is less straightforward, which isn’t a bad thing at all. A list like this or similar is probably better suited for Cups and Challenges, where the meta is more specific. But going into Origins SPE or NAIC, I’d much rather a hyper-consistent list than a more teched out one, but that’s my personal preference.

Conclusion

And that will conclude my article for the day. I really like the concept of Malamar. I think it will remain strong post-rotation, and I believe it’s a solid play for upcoming events because it doesn’t have any truly bad matchups outside of ZapBeasts and Weezing.

Thank you so much for reading, best of luck to everyone (including myself) going to Origins and NAIC (plus any other upcoming events) and I hope to see a lot of you there! Until next time!


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