Hello again readers, today I am bringing you my top pick for Sheffield (if I was going), as well as a crazy rogue deck that has the potential to completely flip the format on its head.
Hidden Fates brought only a few new cards into the game that will ever be relevant. Right now, the only cards that pop out as good in the set are Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX, Jessie & James, and Pokémon Center Lady. Currently, I only see one of these having a major impact on the game, and that card is Jessie & James. Peter Kica wrote about the Poipole Control deck that literally everyone has been talking about, and it is the deck that seemingly best abuses Jessie & James.
Ability ReshiZard (Updated)
1 Pal Pad
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 18
* 4 Jirachi PR-SM 161
* 3 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 2 Vulpix TEU 15
* 2 Ninetales TEU 16
* 2 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 20
* 1 Turtonator DRM 50
* 1 Heatran-GX UNM 25
* 1 Victini p DRM 7
* 1 Volcanion UNB 25
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81
##Trainer Cards - 25
* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178
* 4 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 2 Escape Board UPR 167
* 1 Pal Pad UPR 132
* 3 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
* 3 Giant Hearth UNM 197
* 3 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 1 Fire Crystal UNB 173
* 3 Acro Bike CES 123
##Energy - 17
* 17 Fire Energy Energy 2
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=74751 ******
This is currently my favorite deck in the format because of how ridiculously strong it is. I don’t believe that it takes any matchup worse than 50/50, and it takes favorable matchups against the biggest decks in the game. If I was in Sheffield this weekend, I would almost certainly be playing this deck.
Card Choices (Zard)
This is essentially a mirror tech for when you end up going second and they find a Welder. If you manage to get off a Flare Starter, you will be pretty much caught up to your opponent. This is also a nice alternate attacker for when your opponent uses Victini p or Turtonator DRM to take a KO on you.
There’s a lot of Power Plant floating around right now, and having a Marshadow on your Bench after you get Reset Stamped could be enough to win the game. There is also the little added bonus that against any deck that plays Naganadel LOT, you have an amazing attacker to 1HKO a Naganadel for a single Energy.
Super Scoop Up functioned as a Switch at times, so it only makes sense that we would need to add at least one more switching card into the deck to make up for the loss of the Super Scoop Ups. I’ve found Switch to be better than a 3rd Escape Board in my testing, but that is something that could be on the table.
18 Energy is nice and all, but what happens when I need to Stellar Wish into an Energy, and I’ve already used my Giant Hearth? Well, that’s what Fire Crystal is for. I can see almost no logical reason to play the 18th Energy over a single Fire Crystal, aside from that you are marginally harming Victini p’s damage output on occasion.
Potential Inclusions (Zard)
This is something that I’ve thought about testing, but haven’t gotten around to actually trying in games. Burst-GX is a great way to start or finish games where you don’t need to deal 300 damage at once to win. On top of that, you get to have an easy out to finishing the game with Mind Blown, which, unlike Explosive Jet, only requires 2 Energy to attack. This saved Energy could be used to pay Retreat or Gust up a Pokémon with Ninetales.
This is one of the more obvious things we could include in our deck because of how well it fits in. You can discard more Energy for Victini p, find an Energy off of Stellar Wish with it, and have more consistency than you would without it.
The Matchup Spread (Zard)
Green’s ReshiZard: Favored
This matchup is super straightforward. You have a bunch of non-GX attackers that can actually 1HKO a TAG TEAM, and they do not. This matchup is basically about getting as many Energy in play as possible, using Turtonator to KO a ReshiZard, then using whatever other Pokémon you can to KO a 2nd ReshiZard. This second KO will usually come in the form of Double Blaze-GX or through using Victini p. Watch out for Reset Stamp + Power Plant, maybe keep a Marshadow on your Bench, and you should be home free.
This matchup takes a bit more thought than the previous one, but not much. Depending on their list, your opponent will be able to disrupt your hand constantly, which means that you’re at a much greater risk of drawing bad hands than you would normally be. However, they also have access to some rather annoying ways to slow you down or take multiple Prize cards at once. Watch out for Paralysis and Tag Bolt-GX, and the matchup should go in your favor. It is best to use Turtonator for your first TAG TEAM KO, and then hopefully use Heatran-GX or ReshiZard to take another. Victini is also a great attacker here.
Mew Box: Favored
This is one of the more difficult favored matchups because of how well Mew Box is equipped to handle so many scenarios. Your opponent will almost always lead with a Clear Vision-GX, which means that you only have one great way to 1HKO a Mewtwo TAG TEAM. And that’s Turtonator, which is almost always going to be KOed after you use it. This matchup is one of my biggest arguments for the inclusion of Blacephalon-GX because it has the potential to 1HKO without using a GX attack. However, with enough Gust effects, you can easily take the last 3 Prizes.
Poipole Control: Extremely Favored/Unfavored (List Dependent)
This matchup comes down to whether they have opted to play Lunatone CES & Solrock CES. If they don’t, just Gust around the Poipole 6 times. If they do, it’s a battle to win the game. If they establish the lock, it’s over, but if you’re able to either (A) KO one of the combo or (B) take 6 Prizes before they get the lock up, you can win. Marshadow UNB is an underrated attacker here because you can easily force them to find a new Poipole every turn with no room for error. If they ever miss, it’s easy enough to retreat into a new attacker and KO whatever is Active. Victini p can be used to prevent deck-out to an extent, but is eventually rendered somewhat useless by Girafarig.
This matchup essentially comes down to if you can either (A) prevent the Magical Miracle-GX from happening or (B) manage to draw out of it when they do hit it. The best safeguard against it is to have Jirachi and Marshadow on your Bench at all times. Past that, it is very difficult for your opponent to deal with you because they don’t have a Fire Fairy Charm, and we have multiple ways to 1HKO them. Heatran-GX and Turtonator are likely the Pokémon that will take all of your Prizes unless you manage to Double Blaze-GX for 300.
This matchup comes down to how well you’re able to trade attackers with your opponent. In this matchup, it is very bad to drop a ReshiZard because of how much it can swing the Prize trade against you. If possible, limit yourself to your Turtonator and Heatran-GX, and then finish up the game with Victini p. It’s not the worst thing ever to use ReshiZard to clean up the game if there is literally no way for your opponent to win off of it, and you have a way to win the game the following turn.
This matchup is weird and something that I haven’t even bothered to test because of how little I care about it. The way I see it, you have infinite Gust effects to KO all of the Malamar in play, so eventually, you’ll win the game before they do because you’ve completely crippled them. Be careful of Mimikyu SM99 and whatever other attackers they have that are capable of big damage, use your non-ReshiZard attackers well, and don’t trigger Spell Tags unless you have to, and you’ll be fine.
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 19
##Trainer Cards - 34
* 3 Lusamine CIN 96
* 4 Professor Elm’s Lecture LOT 188
* 2 Pokémon Fan Club UPR 133
* 3 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Tate & Liza CES 148
* 2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy UNB 178
* 2 Misty’s Favor UNM 202
* 2 Brock’s Grit TEU 135
* 4 Pokémon Communication HS 98
* 3 U-Turn Board UNM 211
* 1 Koga’s Trap UNB 177
* 4 Slumbering Forest UNM 207
##Energy - 7
* 7 Water Energy GEN 77
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=74751 ******
This has been my brainchild since August before Worlds, but I was much too scared to pull the trigger on the deck. Now, however, the meta appears to have shifted to a point where it is viable for competitive play. At Worlds, there were too many unknown factors for me to play the deck because of how fragile it is. There are a number of cards that can be teched into decks to beat this, and I got cold feet.
Before I go anywhere else with this, I guess I should explain the deck. The goal is to Item lock your opponent while keeping them Asleep. This needs to happen long enough to where you can win by HAND or take 6 Prize cards through damage, which is augmented by Koga’s Trap.
Card Choices (Cryogonal)
Unlike classic Shedinja decks, the goal of this deck is to win through taking 6 Prizes or Unown HAND. This means that Zebstrika LOT is suboptimal and Pidgeotto is the best way to draw cards. You’re probably never setting up more than 2 Pidgeotto, but having a 4-4 is necessary for you to find them when needed.
I tried the deck without these, but I was losing too fast for me to win through HAND. This lead me to find a way to last longer, and that way ended up being Shedinja. Theoretically, once you set up the loop perfectly, you should never be able to lose the game. Of course, this doesn’t happen overly often because of your own Prize cards, but it’s insane when it happens.
This is how we’re putting our opponent’s Pokémon to Sleep whenever we want. Between U-Turn Board, Switch, and Tate & Liza, you should always have a way to seamlessly switch in your hand. This is the greediest count in my deck, and I think I should probably add the 3rd copy to prevent Prize cards from hurting me too often, as well as to up the odds of opening with it.
Finding Pokémon is essential to the game plan, and both of these cards do just that. Fan Club is included because it is the best way to search out a Cryogonal aside from Pokémon Communication. Elm’s can easily search out all the Pokémon in the deck aside from Cryogonal, so that makes it an automatic 4-of.
Because Cryogonal is so hard to search out, I decided to max out my Pokémon Communication count, even though it is a card I can’t recover to use for Unown HAND. In a perfect world, you’ll never even play one of these, so they’re basically 4 dead cards that have occasional use. I’m still considering whether or not I would rather have Pokégear 3.0 instead, but for now, this is what I’m sticking with.
I’m still wondering if I even care about taking Prizes, and I could easily see cutting this for something else. However, the argument that taking Prize cards also helps Unown HAND happen faster is a strong one, so I don’t see myself cutting this anytime soon.
Potential Inclusions (Cryogonal)
This would help us achieve the perfect lock more often, but I don’t even think it’s 100% necessary to win games.
This feels obvious, but in that 1/10 games where it is Prized, it is easy enough to focus on playing the Prize card game rather than the HAND game. If I decided to cut Koga’s Trap, this is the card that would be going in.
Prize card protection. That’s really the only reason to play it.
Bench Barrier can win games, but I don’t know if it fixes any matchups where it matters. Naganadel is the only deck that actually wins by sniping my Bench the entire game, and I suppose that translates into Mew Box, but they can easily run out of Energy before they win, or I can HAND before they manage to take 6 Prizes. I would cut the 4th Pidgeotto if you find it necessary to play Mew.
This only becomes relevant when you’re playing the Prize card game, but in theory you can use it to keep the lock 100% of the time by using it to KO the Active, then use a Switch or Surge/Tate & Liza to Sleep them again.
The Matchup Spread (Cryogonal)
The deck has a pretty simple game plan. Set up 2–3 Pidgeotto, have a Mareep in play, use Cryogonal to Item lock, and attach Shedinja to the Cryogonal. Maybe have a Nincada Benched when possible. Once you have this, draw cards as fast as possible, but be careful to not Air Mail too much that you deck out before you hit 35 cards in hand. Lusamine for Supporters and use Brock’s Grit to shuffle back the Pokémon and Energy that get KOed. Use Tate & Liza whenever you need to Sleep your opponent, and don’t use your Item cards unless you absolutely have to because you cannot recover them.
Ability ReshiZard: Even
You’re Item locking them, which means they have a finite amount of Energy without using Victini p. This means that sometimes they cannot Gust often enough to win the game before I win through HAND. This matchup is super hard, but once you achieve the perfect lock, you’re going to be hard-pressed to lose. It’s getting there that’s difficult. Sleep flips play a major role in the matchup, which is something that is quite uncomfortable for a lot of players.
Judge): FavoredPikaRom (Not
This matchup is pretty easy once you set up. They can only Tag Bolt-GX for an extra Prize card once, so it becomes very difficult for them to take 6 Prizes. The only thing that can go awry is the potential inclusion of Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX in their list. If they can attack every turn, then you’ll be hard-pressed to actually win the game. You might be able to achieve the perfect lock and not lose, but you’ll likely never HAND for the win.
As a side note, if you’re playing against the Judge version, get ready to win through Prize cards or simply tie. It’s a long match.
Green’s ReshiZard: Extremely Favored
You play this like any other matchup, except you need to have 2 Cryogonal in play whenever there is a threat of a Magical Miracle-GX. You’ll need to be able to Sleep them and attack the turn after they attack, which means you need to have a second attacker and Mareep in play along with some birds.
Dark Box: Unfavored Unless Obscenely Lucky?
So, did they manage to find 10 Energy and use Gigafall-GX before you used HAND? That’s it. Literally. Draw cards as fast as possible while trying to maintain a Sleep lock.
This matchup comes down to how fast you set up and if they play Espeon & Deoxys-GX. Basically, you need to avoid giving up 3 Prize cards before they can Cross Divide-GX for 20 damage counters. If you can survive past that turn and reestablish your field, then you’ll probably win the game. It’s certainly a scary few turns that can easily go wrong fast.
Mew Box: Unfavored
This matchup is basically a carbon copy of the Malamar matchup if you opt to play Mew UNB (which I probably would). Without Mew, you lose to Cross Divide-GX and Naganadel’s Venom Shot. With Mew, it’s exact same scenario of “did I lose because of Cross Divide?” One important thing to watch out for here is Magcargo-GX. This means that you can never let your deck drop below 6 cards unless they’ve already used a GX attack.
Poipole Control: Favored
Set up Pidgeottos while Item locking. Playing Supporters is risky because of Girafarig, so probably just set up a couple of Pidgeotto and draw cards naturally.
Sheffield will hopefully give us a clue whether Jessie & James will be causing trouble and the format to shift too much. If it’s as bad as s0me people are making it out to be, then I’m scared to play in Atlantic City later this month.
I really hope someone is able to take my Cryogonal madness and do well with it. It’s certainly a risk to play, but it can pay off super well if you hit good matchups. I would be playing Ability ReshiZard this weekend if I was going, and I’m sure that emulates the thoughts of a lot of players. Maybe someone will be able to find something that beats it consistently, and run away with the event. Who knows?
Well, that’s all I have for today. I start college tomorrow (as of the time of writing), so my free time is about to evaporate. I’m certainly very excited to continue testing this format and playing events in what free time I do have. I’ll be back in exactly two weeks to bring you my thoughts on the format, after we’ve seen the results of Sheffield, in anticipation of Atlantic City (and Köln).
As always, feel free to message me with any questions that you might have about anything related to Pokémon. I also now offer coaching! Either email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or PM me if interested.
Until the next one.
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 90 days, we open each Underground (UG) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thanks for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.