How to Train Your Dragons and Squids

Matchup Guides for Malamar & Friends and Ability ReshiZard for Origins + NAIC, and Some Words on the Final Stretch of the Season
The Renegade Pokémon is rumbling, once again, ahead of Origins…

How’s it going guys, Jon here with another article. I’ve been on a bit of a “break” from the game as I didn’t attend either Santa Clara or Madison Regionals, but I am excited to get back into it for the final stretch of the year. I’m currently sitting at 1289 Championship Points, which makes me a bit of a soft lock for Top 16 NA going into Worlds, but that’s not going to stop me from giving these last few events my all.

The next events coming up are the Origins Special Event and NAIC (and others internationally this weekend) which will all be in the SUM–UNB format, exactly the same as the past two Regionals. In this piece, I will be going over my top two plays going into these extremely important events.

It is worth noting that my opinion can change from Origins to NAIC regarding certain decks. Assuming that nothing ground-breaking emerges to make one of these decks significantly worse, then yes, these are my top two decks for both events.

With that being said, here they are (in no particular order):

Malamar & Friends

Pokémon (20)

4 Inkay FLI

4 Malamar FLI

2 Giratina LOT

1 Ditto p

1 Dewgong UNB

1 Marshadow-GX

1 Necrozma-GX

1 Chimecho CIN

2 Jirachi TEU

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Marshadow SLG

1 Mew UNB

Trainer (32)

4 Cynthia

4 Guzma

4 Lillie


4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Ultra Ball

3 Acro Bike

2 Rescue Stretcher

2 Switch


3 Escape Board


2 Viridian Forest

Energy (8)

8 P Energy


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 20

* 4 Inkay FLI 50
* 4 Malamar FLI 51
* 2 Giratina LOT 97
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Dewgong UNB 45
* 1 Marshadow-GX BUS 80
* 1 Necrozma-GX BUS 63
* 1 Chimecho CIN 43
* 2 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Mew UNB 76

##Trainer Cards - 32

* 3 Escape Board UPR 122
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 2 Viridian Forest TEU 156
* 2 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 2 Switch PRC 163
* 3 Acro Bike PRC 122
* 4 Cynthia UPR 119
* 4 Guzma BUS 115
* 4 Ultra Ball PLB 90
* 4 Lillie UPR 125

##Energy - 8

* 8 P Energy Energy 5

Total Cards - 60

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

This list is one that Grant Manley recently posted and had success with at League Cups, so all credit goes to him. I’ve never played Malamar to a major event before, so it would be weird having Origins or NAIC as the first time I’ve played it in a grand setting. However, after careful consideration and testing, I think that Malamar might actually be worth it this time.


Green’s ReshiZard: 60/40

This matchup is one of your easier ones, but if the Green’s ReshiZard player draws well and plays the matchup correctly then you could see some issues. The way they should be playing is methodically and consistently across all games. They first should shove 2 Volcanions at you to deal with, to put you down to 4 Prize cards remaining, then they can use 2 TAG TEAM GXs (usually ReshiZards) to force you to take 8 Prize cards total to win the game. Your goal is to stream knockouts before their field of 8-Prizes-worth of attackers can overtake you. This is easy most of the time as your Giratinas can take care of their Volcanions while theirs can’t yours. You want to avoid benching GXs as this will give their ReshiZards an actual target they are okay with committing an attacker to. You should only go in with Necrozma-GX or Marshadow-GX when you know you can get a knockout on their TAG TEAMs. Sometimes you don’t even have to worry about using GXs and can just use Giratina to keep applying pressure and eventually win trades. If you can do any of these things to success, you should win this matchup.

Ability ReshiZard: 70/30

This version of ReshiZard is a lot easier to deal with as they attack with their GXs earlier and their 1-Prize attackers aren’t as useful against us. Still, be hesitant to bench a GX unless you absolutely have to, but past that, you win this ReshiZard matchup faster than the other.

Turbo PikaRom: 55/45

This is another favorable matchup, but due to the natural speed and power of the deck combined with Let Loose Marshadow, you can lose this within reason. However, you do have the appropriate tools to beat them. Mew is used to stop their Bench damage from Tag Bolt-GX, which saves your setup a bit in addition to stopping them from taking Prizes faster. You also have Marshadow-GX to finish off a PikaRom with ease. What they’re going to try and do is take early Prizes with Zapdos on your vulnerable Inkays and Malamars. Use Giratina against Zapdos while trying to maintain a good amount of squids on your Bench. Once Zapdos is out of the way, it’s going to turn into a battle of their GXs versus your GXs and Giratina. As said before, Marshadow-GX works wonders here and the matchup should be pretty easy once you get past that first part of the game. Frankly, as of recent, most lists have either been cutting Zapdos, or going down to 1, so the matchup might be even easier than expected.

Zoroark-GX/Persian-GX/Slowking: 55/45

This is one of my favorite matchups, in part because you get to use Chimecho and Dewgong to huge effect. Chimecho’s Bell of Silence does 10 damage and says that your opponent can’t play down Pokémon with Abilities from their hand during their next turn. This effectively shuts off most of their useful attackers and allows you to make the first move of the game. This gives you time to set up your Malamar without fear of them being Knocked Out amidst you setting up your board.

Something else cute you can do is evolve your Ditto p into Dewgong to use Dual Blizzard, which for CCC lets you do 60 damage to 2 of your opponent’s Pokémon. If they can’t evolve into Zoroark-GX or Persian-GX, they are left with their 60-HP Basic Pokémon which you can Knock Out for 2 quick Prizes. Doing this early is essential to winning the game as you then only need to deal with 2 GXs to finish the game off. Marshadow-GX again does work because of it hitting both of their main attackers for Weakness.

The matchup makes itself for you if you can get the Chimecho strategy off. If you can’t, the matchup gets a lot harder.

Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel: 60/40*

I’m going to be honest: I haven’t tested this matchup at all, but if I had to predict it, I’d say it is slightly favorable. I’d imagine that both decks do what they do and you win trades with Giratina, then take the last big knockout with Necrozma-GX. You can also set up a cool board state where you can deny them the usage of Beast Ring. You can do this by damaging 2 Blacephalon-GXs with Giratina to leave them short of being Knocked Out, then using Dewgong to Knock them Out at the same time, thus skipping Beast Ring. The matchup seems favorable all things considered.

ZapBeasts: 35/65

The issue with this matchup is that their Zapdos will constantly be able to target down your Inkay and Malamar, which causes you to not be able to set up attackers. Although yes, Giratina is quite hefty for Zapdos to deal with, they can usually spare the time to get through one, and if you don’t have any Malamar to recharge a Giratina after the fact, then you’re in for a rough game. If for whatever reason they decide to spare your Malamar and you can effectively stream attackers, then sure, you win, but I doubt that will ever happen.

Weezing: 60/40

Allow me to start by expressing my utter disdain for Weezing as a deck. I don’t think it has a shot against good players—no matter what deck they are piloting—and I think it’s extremely inconsistent. Nevertheless, people still decide to play this deck for whatever reason so it is a matchup that must be gone over. This is another matchup in which Chimecho gets to shine. Use Chimecho to deny them from being able to play down their Weezings, which slows their damage spread. While doing this, evolve your Inkay into Malamar so when they are able to play Weezing, Detention Gas won’t spread to nearly as much of your Bench. You have Mew as a fallback should they be able to get chip damage on your Bench, and you can even do the Dewgong play by using Giratina’s Distortion Door to get the Koffings in KO range. Since their deck is mediocre and won’t be able to do anything “broken,” you should take this one.

That’s it for Malamar & Friends. You’ll find that its matchups are quite good, but its consistency is what has been concerning me. I still think it’s extremely strong, and I’m going to try and make the perfect 60 by Origins.

Now for my next play:

Ability ReshiZard

Pokémon (17)

2 Reshiram & Charizard-GX

2 Eevee & Snorlax-GX

1 Growlithe UNB

1 Arcanine UNB

1 Volcanion UNB

1 Miltank CIN

4 Jirachi SM161

2 Marshadow SLG

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Mew UNB

Trainer (31)

4 Welder

3 Guzma

2 Kiawe


4 Nest Ball

4 Ultra Ball

3 Acro Bike

3 Switch

2 Fiery Flint

2 Fire Crystal


2 Escape Board

1 Choice Band


1 Heat Factory p

Energy (12)

12 R Energy


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 17

* 2 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 20
* 2 Eevee & Snorlax-GX TEU 120
* 1 Growlithe UNB 21
* 1 Arcanine UNB 22
* 1 Volcanion UNB 25
* 1 Miltank CIN 78
* 4 Jirachi PR-SM 161
* 2 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 195
* 1 Mew UNB 76

##Trainer Cards - 31

* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178
* 2 Escape Board UPR 122
* 2 Fiery Flint DRM 60
* 3 Switch PRC 163
* 4 Welder UNB 214
* 3 Acro Bike PRC 122
* 4 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 2 Kiawe BUS 116
* 2 Fire Crystal UNB 173
* 1 Choice Band BUS 162
* 4 Ultra Ball PLB 90

##Energy - 12

* 12 R Energy Energy 11

Total Cards - 60

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

This is the list that DDG played to the most recent Regionals in Madison with an added Choice Band to better help with the matchup where you need the damage modifier. I also added Bench Barrier Mew which I go into more in the matchups section.


Green’s ReshiZard: 60/40

This matchup is favorable as you can do everything that they can, but faster. Having access to Kiawe means that by the end of Turn 1 you can have a ReshiZard powered up and ready to go, no matter if you go first or second. An issue that comes up often in ReshiZard mirrors is making the early commitment to using your ReshiZard to attack into theirs because unless you are using a boosted GX attack, then you aren’t 1-shotting their ReshiZard. Something that we have to fix this problem is Bench Barrier Mew. We can use it to snipe damage a ReshiZard, which puts it in KO range for ours, assuming we have a Choice Band attached. This means we don’t have to make such a commitment by being the first to use a huge attack, and we have a 1-Prize attacker in the Active Spot. Using this strategy should usually give you the win here baring you don’t dead-draw.

Ability ReshiZard: 50/50

Naturally this is a 50/50 matchup. The same thing said in the other version of ReshiZard’s matchup against this applies in that we need to use Mew to put the opposing ReshiZard in 1-shot range. Whoever does this first and is able to maintain attackers should win.

Turbo PikaRom: 70/30

Just like the Green’s version, this matchup is extremely favorable. Us being able to 1-shot their PikaRom with ease, and them not easily 1-shot us back, is what gives us the victory here. It is important that you as the ReshiZard player don’t play into Tapu Koko-GX because it can be easy to get ahead of yourself and over-attach, especially with Kiawe in your deck. Koko-GX can cause a huge tempo swing in which they don’t have to take a huge knockout after that and can divide up their remaining Prizes on smaller things.

Zoroark-GX/Persian-GX/Slowking: 60/40

The star of this matchup is Eevee & Snorlax-GX. It is extremely hard for them to deal with and if all things go as expected, you’ll be taking 3–4 Prizes with ease, making the endgame easy to navigate. Same deal: Kiawe and run them over, and hope they don’t have a response.

Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel: 35/65

The issue with this matchup is that they have just as much 1-shot potential as we do and they do it more efficiently. Your best bet is using Let Loose in hopes that they dead-draw early on enough that you can run them over with your attackers. I don’t expect much of this deck going into the next two big events, but don’t be surprised if you hit one.

ZapBeasts: 40/60

This matchup is hard to deal with because of their attackers being worth only 1 Prize, and their ability to dish out big damage quickly with both Tapu Koko-GX and Nihilego LOT. You want to try and make use of your low-Prize attackers as much as possible before you commit into using a big GX, but I don’t think the list I would play would have enough low-Prize attackers to pull off the win.

Weezing: 60/40

In this matchup we get to use Miltank CIN, and frankly, this matchup is the only reason we play the card. In combination with Welder, we can heal our damaged ReshiZard on the Bench with Miltank in the Active and use one of the many switching cards we play to get right back to attacking. Weezing gains from us having a larger Bench, so try to maintain a reasonable Bench size, because if we have a small Bench in combination with the healing option of Miltank, we pretty much can’t lose the matchup.

So that’s it for ReshiZard. The reason I like this deck so much is how well it deals with the main few decks, and even though it takes some rougher matchups to the mid-level decks, its overall matchup spread shows that it is worth playing.

Some Words on the Final Stretch of the Season

This season has gone by so unbelievably quickly, and I thought I would give some words of advice for all players participating in this final stretch of the season.

As for people who are looking to close out their invites in these last few events, take a deep breath, no pressure, just play your heart out, and think about everything you do thoroughly. Make sure not to ask for scoops, because you can get in serious trouble for saying anything even close to it. Make sure that in the end, you have fun, and remember, if you don’t qualify, there’s always next season.

This season has been undoubtedly my favorite of the eight I’ve played in. I have had more consistently high placements this season than I have in any other, but the one thing that has eluded me for a while has been that big win, so I’m going to be testing a lot these next few days in preparation for Origins and NAIC. I’m going to continue to test these two decks and find their perfect 60-card lists. Something that is good about me being soft-locked into Top 16 NA is that it alleviates some of the stress from these next two events, and I play better when I’m more laid back and overall not stressed.

The day this is being posted is the day before the Origins Special Event goes down, so we are about to start what could be some of the most stressful two weeks of players’ seasons. But until then, I’m going to keep playing Pokémon until I’m confident and comfortable with something going into the events.

Thanks for reading, and if you see me either at one of these events, or even around the city of Columbus, make sure to say “Hi!” Also make sure to ask me any questions you have; my PMs are always open.


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