Hello again readers, I’m back with you for the last time in this month with my final words on the pre-Atlantic City/Cologne/São Paulo format. Last week, I alluded to an Ability ReshiZard list that I believe is near optimal. I’ll be talking about that today, but first I’m going to discuss what I expect the meta to look like this weekend.
My Predicted Meta (for Atlantic City)
Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about Europe or Latin America to be able to make a prediction on what those player bases will play in Cologne and São Paulo. The format hasn’t changed much since Worlds, but people’s perceptions on certain decks has. Ability ReshiZard was almost completely ignored by Americans, and that was an oversight. Now, most would say that it is the BDIF. Quagsire/Naganadel also emerged from the DC Open as a threat to be reckoned with, but after playing with and against it, I have to say that it isn’t a great deck.
But what does this mean for Atlantic City? Well, a lot of people have been continuously hyping Ability ReshiZard, and I can understand why. When it draws well, the deck is almost unbeatable. Many of the lists I’ve seen recently leave something to be desired, and these intricacies will be the difference between making Day 2 and settling for a mediocre Day 1 finish. Malamar is back on the radar, but there are still plenty of people who completely dismiss the deck. I sit in the middle of that debate.
By the Percent
This is a list of what I believe will be the most played decks in Atlantic City. I could be wrong though.
- Green’s Decks (GardEon, ReshiZard, MimiGar, Blacephalon-GX) (18%)
- Ability ReshiZard (16%)
- PikaRom (12.5%)
- Mew Box (12.5%)
- Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel (10%)
- Quagsire/Naganadel (8%)
- Malamar (7%)
- Other (16%)
This list may look a little weird because Ability ReshiZard isn’t #1, but it basically is. I grouped together the Green’s decks because I think they have similar matchups, and I think that lots of people will be playing them. PikaRom will always have a group of loyal followers, so I have a decently-sized portion of the event playing it. Mew Box feels like a slightly worse Ability ReshiZard to me, but I know that plenty of people like it because it can beat Ability ReshiZard a decent amount of the time. There will be Blacephalon players, Quagsire/Naganadel is the Water deck of choice (even though it’s not great), and Malamar has too much of a negative stigma (despite Grant Manley’s valiant PR campaign) to see extreme amounts of play.
My Ability ReshiZard
I’ve put a lot of time into Ability ReshiZard because I believe that when it draws well it is the best deck in the format.
4 Jirachi SM161
2 Pokégear 3.0
1 Pal Pad
16 R Energy
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 18
* 4 Jirachi PR-SM 161
* 3 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 3 Vulpix TEU 15
* 2 Ninetales TEU 16
* 1 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 194
* 1 Turtonator DRM 50
* 1 Blacephalon UNB 32
* 1 Heatran-GX UNM 25
* 1 Victini p DRM 7
* 1 Volcanion UNB 25
##Trainer Cards - 26
* 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
* 2 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 2 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 233
* 3 Fire Crystal UNB 173
* 1 Stealthy Hood UNB 186
##Energy - 16
* 16 R Energy Energy 2
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=75080 ******
The Stealthy Hood idea was finally taken up by the community, so my groundbreaking tech is no longer that special. But this is the list that I have spent weeks playing and perfecting. You’ll notice a few oddities in the list, but I swear they’re all rational.
Okay, I get that 2 of these doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because you’ll rarely use 2 in a game. However, cutting both makes the deck strictly worse because your Malamar matchup gets tanked incredibly hard. There’s also the fact that ReshiZard is the only thing in the deck that hits high damage without requiring Energy to be (A) discarded from play, (B) in hand, or (C) in the discard already.
This is probably the card I’ve seen flip-flopped the most in lists recently. There are a lot of people who like it, but there also are plenty that deem it unnecessary. I think that Volcanion can singlehandedly prevent you from losing the mirror match if you go second, as well as provide you an out to Energy on turn 1 that isn’t Welder (because there will be games where you miss Welder).
Getting Vulpix down on your first turn is vital for success with this deck. Thus, a 3rd copy is included. There are also games where it is best to get 2 copies down at once so your opponent cannot Custom Catcher or snipe your only out to agust effect.
Fire Crystal, 16 R Energy3
I have seen so many combinations of these cards at this point that I have almost no idea what to expect when I sit down and see Ability ReshiZard across from me. I personally believe that this is the optimal count for both of these cards for a few reasons.
- Victini p is still capable of hitting 280 damage when all of your Energy are in the discard besides the two attached to Victini.
- Blacephalon UNB can easily hit 300 damage when you need it to.
- Stellar Wish is capable of grabbing Energy in the form of Fire Crystal often enough to where the count is justified.
2 Pokégear 3.0
Finding Welder is almost always the most important part of your game plan. Having 2 copies of Pokégear has made finding Welder on turn 1 happen much more often.
This card has so many different applications right now that it’s not even funny. The biggest one, though, is the fact that it prevents Nine Temptations from targeting down whatever Pokémon it is attached to. In the mirror match, you’ll almost always be attaching it to ReshiZard-GX or Ninetales to prevent them from beinggusted up. Another great use is against Mew Box. They have taken to playing Wobbuffet LOT to stop us from using Victini p. With Stealthy Hood attached, Victini ignores Wobbuffet and serves its intended purpose. One niche use is against Malamar where Stealthy Hood prevents Distortion Door from doing any damage to 1 Pokémon. This can theoretically prevent Espurr from being able to KO the Ninetales at some point. Finally, the reason that I initially included it for: Lunatone CES and Solrock CES in Poipole Stall. When attached to Ninetales, Stealthy Hood allows you to use Nine Temptations, despite it being turned off.
I hate Acro Bike in decks where you don’t exactly benefit from discarding resources and don’t desperately need the extra draw support. I have lost more games than I can count because I was forced to make a decision between discarding a Welder and an attacker. This lead me to play Pokégear 3.0 instead of Acro Bike because it finds Welder much easier and doesn’t come with a (potentially) major drawback like Acro Bike.
This is something that I want to find space for, but I don’t know what to cut. I highly doubt I’ll use Explosive Jet more than once a game, but it’s the thing that most likely swings a match. This means that prizing or sacrificing your first copy can be crippling.
Tapu Fini UNM
I don’t expect to hit more than 2 Blacephalon during the event, so I don’t see the point in playing Tapu Fini. That matchup is already winnable, and we shouldn’t need the extra help unless we’re playing against it 4–5 times. (I’ve just guaranteed myself playing against at least 6 Blacephalon in Day 1 when I decide not to play Tapu Fini.)
I hate this card. I also love this card. Friend Ball fills a niche that only Pokémon Communication is capable of (somewhat) filling: non-Pokémon-GX search. In a format full of Fire, Jirachi TEU, and Dedenne-GX, I struggle to imagine a realistic situation beyond GardEon and QuagNag where Friend Ball won’t work in some form.
Sometimes 2 Energy isn’t enough. Most of the time it is. I don’t love Fiery Flint, but it’s another way to discard Energies and it makes Blacephalon UNB even better. I could see cutting a Giant Hearth for a Fiery Flint, but that leaves us more susceptible to Power Plant, and that scares me.
There’s merit to playing a 4th copy of Fire Crystal, but I’m unsure of what I would cut from the deck. It’s never the 16th Fire because that would make Victini much worse.
3rd/4th Pokégear 3.0
Pure consistency may become the name of the game for this deck, and additional Pokégears could be exactly what the deck needs to function even better.
This is probably my 61st card. Whenever I don’t play it, I miss the hand disruption that Reset Stamp provides. This card allows the deck to come back from a slow start when it would otherwise be outpaced. I played a copy in a Cup a week ago, but never really got to use it to any effect.
The Matchup Spread
Mew Box: 50/50
This matchup comes down to how well both players draw. If both draw optimally, ReshiZard will win. If both draw mediocre hands, it’s a close matchup. Against Mew Box, it is vital that we get going fast. We have a bunch of different 1-Prize Pokémon now, so between them, Double Blaze-GX, and Ninetales, the matchup is winnable and fast.
Your first turn will be spent playing Welder on ReshiZard or Turtonator. Your second turn hopefully sees another Welder and a Ninetales togust up and KO whatever Mewtwo & Mew-GX is most threatening. After that, the game becomes more delicate. You will likely have 0 Energy in play after your opponent’s turn, where it’s likely they KO ReshiZard. At this point, Victini and Blacephalon are both outs to winning the game. Both take a bit of setup, so be careful about benching them early, especially Victini.
I personally don’t believe that PikaRom is a good deck right now. I think that a good Ability ReshiZard player will usually beat PikaRom. Not only that, but PikaRom loses to decks like GardEon, Malamar, and Blacephalon/Naganadel unless it manages to hit them with a Reset Stamp that sticks. But people will still play PikaRom despite all of this. That means we need a plan.
You have a lot of ways to 1HKO a PikaRom, whereas they are usually unable to 1HKO a ReshiZard unless they’re using Lightning Ride-GX. In this matchup, it is best to lead with whatever will get you a KO on PikaRom first. This will prevent them from ever using Tag Bolt-GX. It is important to keep a Jirachi in play at all times in an effort to avoid Reset Stamp. In this same vein, it is important to conserve your Dedenne-GX and Stadiums in order to avoid Reset Stamp + Power Plant.
ReshiZard is the only deck that will consistently beat GardEon. This is because we are capable of multiple, easy 1HKOs before they’re even set up. There’s no Fairy Charm R, so we don’t need to worry about getting blocked. KO them fast and you’ll have no issues in this matchup.
This matchup is very similar to Mew Box. It entirely comes down to how well you draw. It’s safe to assume they’re going to draw well because of how consistent their deck is and how many cards they’re capable of drawing. You’ll lose the game if you lead with ReshiZard. It’s fine if you finish the game with it, but giving up 3 Prizes that early is a death sentence. You’ll probably want to lead with Blacephalon UNB, take 2 Prizes off of their first Blacephalon-GX, then use Victini or Turtonator to KO their next attacker. (Turtonator only works if you stuck an extra Energy in play at some point.) Finally, you’ll use either ReshiZard or whichever of Turtonator and Victini you didn’t already use.
Intuitively, this matchup should be difficult. However, QuagNag is a mediocre deck that can’t handle lots of early pressure. If they ever bench Keldeo-GX, then it becomes easy enough to take the Prize lead after using Blacephalon or Turtonator to KO it. Aside from that, it is best to target down the Naganadel depending on how much Energy your opponent already has in play. If you’re able to remove their main source of Energy, then do it. But there are times where it is correct to target down the Quagsire. If they leave themselves with 1 Quagsire in play, then it needs to be KO’d.
This matchup is likely the hardest one you’ll play against if they set up. You’re going to want to lead with Heatran-GX, which will likely take 2 Prizes before it is KO’d. Then you’re going to want to use your single-Prize attackers to trade back and forth for a bit, while targeting down Malamar. Once you’re each at 1 or 2 Prizes left, transition into ReshiZard and tank your way through your last few Prizes.
Watch out for Spell Tags, force your opponent to take 8 Prizes, and target down the Malamar, and all should go well in this matchup.
Pidgeotto Control: 50/50
This matchup is very close because of how much player skill can contribute to winning the game on both sides. It is easy enough for them to start controlling your hand early from the game. What you need to do is force them to Cold Crush-GX you early enough to where you should be able to recover without having your hand completely controlled. In a perfect world, you can use Ninetales + Victini to target down and 1HKO Pidgeotto every turn to remove their draw support. This can go badly very quickly, and I would recommend attaching an Escape Board to Victini and having a Jirachi in play.
That’s all I have for you today. Ability ReshiZard is high on my list of potential plays. I have been able to put a bit of time into testing, but most of my knowledge is coming from playing in League Cups. I’m excited to see what this weekend brings us in all three events. I’m convinced that we’re missing something in the format, but I don’t have the time to invest in the game right now.
I’ll see some of you this weekend in Atlantic City. I wish everyone luck in their respective events, and I hope to have a favorable tournament report in my next article.
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 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you 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.