Squid Now and Squid Later

What I Like About the Limitless Online Series, Mew3/Malamar (My Q1 Deck), and Malamar VMAX to Counter Dragapult, the Likely New BDIF

Hello 6P! As of my last article, the season was canceled until May 15th. However, I’m sure you know that now the whole 2019–2020 season is canceled, which is a huge bummer. Thankfully though, there are plenty of online tournaments that we can participate in, including the Limitless Online Series.

It was supposed to start this past Saturday, but Battlefy and other factors caused it to be delayed by a couple of weeks. This means two things for us:

  1. We have more time to get back on track and test/prepare the current Standard format, UPR–SSH.
  2. The third qualifier will now be allowing Rebel Clash, along with the fourth qualifier and the invitational.

All the updated information can be found here: https://limitlesstcg.com/important-changes-for-the-limitless-online-series/

My motivation to play wasn’t very high before Limitless announced their tournament series, but I’m definitely hyped to be playing Pokémon now, and I am looking forward to the retry the first qualifier in a couple of weeks, especially after I had started 2-0.

What I Like About the Limitless Online Series

limitlesstcg.com

I think what I love the most about the Limitless Online Series is their format, with Best-of-1, 25-minute rounds, akin to what Japan runs for their own big tournaments. Best-of-1 adds variance, but in order to compensate for that, the original plan was to play 20 total rounds, and I expect that to stand. I love it because it makes strategies such as Cinccino Mill or Pidgeotto Control less viable. These, in my personal opinion, take away fun from the game as they essentially are solitaire decks where your opponent doesn’t get to do much during their turn, removing all strategy or planning for the most part. Granted, effectively playing against them takes a good amount of skill on its own, but with a less than stellar start, you might be stuck watching your opponent simply play the whole time while you do nothing. I very rarely play these sort of decks at tournaments, with my last being back in Portland in March 2018, where I played a Sylveon Control deck to Top 16 and my friend Simon Narode made Top 8.

20 rounds sound like a heck of a lot of Pokémon, but if you consider Masters Regionals always have 9 rounds in North America, and they are 50 minutes Best-of-3. So unless you’re playing a Mill deck, you can reasonably expect to play at least 18 games, assuming you either win or lose 2-0 every time, and when a series goes to 1-1, it’ll be even more! So realistically it shouldn’t be a big deal for most Masters, and it’s great testing grounds for any Seniors or Juniors that decide to join in on the fun. I encouraged all the Seniors and Juniors I coach to join in.

Qualifier #1 Deck: Mew3/Malamar

I chose to play Mewtwo & Mew-GX/Malamar for the first Qualifier, for a few reasons, but mostly the surprise factor because in the few tournaments we had during Q3, including OCIC 🇦🇺, it barely made an appearance or had significant results. This could be because the deck isn’t as powerful anymore, but I also believe that it was on many people’s radars and Mimikyu CEC 97 was included in a lot of lists in the beginning of the Sword & Shield meta. However, Mimikyu has been mostly replaced for answers to Galarian Obstagoon SSH, and thus I felt the deck was well positioned in terms of strength and surprise.

Decklist

This is the list that I ended up going with:

Pokémon (19)

2 Inkay FLI

3 Malamar FLI

1 Ditto p

1 Naganadel-GX UNM

3 Mewtwo & Mew-GX

2 Dedenne-GX

2 Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX

1 Absol TEU

1 Dragonite-GX UNM

1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX

1 Latios-GX UNM

1 Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX

Trainer (32)

4 Marnie

4 Professor’s Research

 

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Quick Ball

4 Switch

2 Cherish Ball

2 Energy Spinner

1 Great Catcher

1 Reset Stamp

 

2 Air Balloon

2 Big Charm

 

2 Chaotic Swell

Energy (9)

9 P

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 19

* 2 Inkay FLI 50
* 3 Malamar FLI 51
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Naganadel-GX UNM 160
* 3 Mewtwo & Mew-GX UNM 71
* 2 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 2 Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX PR-SM 217
* 1 Absol TEU 88
* 1 Dragonite-GX UNM 152
* 1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 53
* 1 Latios-GX UNM 78
* 1 Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX CEC 165

##Trainer Cards - 32

* 2 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 2 Energy Spinner UNB 170
* 2 Chaotic Swell CEC 187
* 1 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Big Charm SSH 158
* 2 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 4 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 4 Marnie SSH 169
* 4 Switch SSH 183

##Energy - 9

* 9 P Energy SWSHEnergy 5

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=80312 ******

I go over the deck choices and my train of thought more in depth in this video, in case you want to watch it:

I’m probably going to stick with this deck for the first qualifier at least, and see how it goes. I accept a huge loss to Spell Tag/Malamar and Mill decks without the Stinger-GX + Blacephalon CEC combo available to me, but I also improve matchups such as PikaRom and even ADPZ with the inclusions of Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX and Dragonite-GX UNM respectively. I also can’t express how many times in testing I have used Mach Delivery-GX in order to help me set up with a less-than-ideal hand.

Rebel Clash Frontrunners

Qualifiers #3 and #4 will pave the way for Rebel Clash, and that means any packs or codes we buy will be put to good use in a competitive environment! I’m actually curious how distribution of that set will work, given how we are all staying home. Regardless, Qualifier #3 should be dominated by the new Pokémon VMAX from the set which I went over on my previous article: Dragapult VMAX and Toxtricity VMAX.

From the Japanese websites I’ve mentioned before, Hou/Hou News and Poké Card Lab, we know that Dragapult VMAX was immediately popular and also played in huge variety of ways, including being paired with Malamar FLI, Gengar UNB, Roxie/Weezing CEC, and on its own. There was a tournament held in Japan recently—Special League Ginza—behind closed doors and with only a few players invited, such as Takuya Yoneda and Shintaro Ito, but also celebrities from Japanese culture. The final was played between Shintaro and Takuya, both of whom were playing Dragapult VMAX. You can find a small interview with the winner and all the lists used in the event here.

Countering Dragapult

Dragapult VMAX is very clearly going to be the Zacian V of Rebel Clash. It will be everywhere, and it will be the most expensive card for sure. So how do you counter it? Well, Zamazenta V might finally take stage in order to help counter the new VMAX, especially since Dragapult V is a bit underwhelming overall. However, I think Malamar VMAX shows a ton of potential and also reminds me of my favorite Expanded deck: TrevNoir.

Malamar VMAX’s Max Disruption attack, for DDC, does 180 damage and reads “Your opponent reveals their hand. Choose a card you find there and put it on the bottom of their deck.” How many times have we played against TrevNoir decks and just hoped they wouldn’t hit the one out we have to not dead-draw after they Marnie or use Reset Stamp? Well, Malamar VMAX solves that! With Grass being a non-existent type, basically, you have a 310-HP behemoth that will go through Dragapults very very easily.

Powering up for the hefty DDC attack cost could be problematic, so we have two options:

  1. either use a Red & Blue + Weavile-GX engine to power up, or
  2. we can play Green’s Exploration + Mismagius UNB, along with Counter Gain.

I personally really like the Green’s engine, as being able to directly search for resources is amazing. However, the Weavile-GX version of the deck is more versatile and has better recovery options overall.

Malamar VMAX/Mismagius

Here’s my current Malamar VMAX/Mismagius list that I’ve been tinkering with a bit:

Pokémon (12)

3 Malamar V

3 Malamar VMAX

3 Misdreavus UNB

3 Mismagius UNB

Trainer (39)

4 Green’s Exploration

3 Marnie

2 Boss’s Orders

2 Professor’s Research

1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy

1 Mallow & Lana

 

4 Pokégear 3.0

4 Quick Ball

3 Reset Stamp

2 Energy Spinner

2 Switch

1 Great Catcher

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Wait and See Hammer

 

3 Counter Gain

2 Dusk Stone

 

3 Power Plant

Energy (9)

9 D

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 12

* 3 Malamar V RCL 121
* 3 Malamar VMAX RCL 122
* 3 Misdreavus UNB 77
* 3 Mismagius UNB 78

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 4 Green’s Exploration UNB 209
* 2 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 2 Boss’s Orders RCL 154
* 1 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
* 1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy HIF 60
* 3 Marnie SSH 169
* 4 Pokégear 3.0 SSH 174
* 3 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 3 Power Plant UNB 183
* 2 Dusk Stone UNB 167
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 264
* 2 Energy Spinner UNB 170
* 1 Wait and See Hammer LOT 236
* 1 Tool Scrapper
* 2 Switch SSH 183
* 3 Counter Gain LOT 170
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 216

##Energy - 9

* 9 D Energy BUS 168

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=80312 ******

These sort of decks got significantly weaker due to the new no T1 Supporter rule, and whiffing an Energy attachment with this deck can essentially be game over. However, the Dark typing, along with hand disruption and 2HKOing everything relevant, makes this a powerful deck. Being able to pull Max Disruption off on turn two is essential for the deck, and that is where the Dusk Stone and Mismagius UNB come in. Mismagius’s Mysterious Message Ability provides draw power and puts you behind in Prizes in order to activate Counter Gain, which allows you to use Max Disruption on turn two for only 2 Energy total. It’s the same concept as the Garchomp & Giratina-GX decks from Quarter 2, which ended up dominating the format before Sword & Shield made them disappear.

Professor’s Research and Marnie complement Green’s really well with more direct draw power, along with disruption from Marnie with Max Disruption. Lt. Surge’s Strategy gives the deck the possibility to gust with Boss’s Orders plus Green’s or Professor Research in order to find the last disruption or combo pieces in order to lock your opponent out of the game.

Power Plant helps with the disruption theme of the deck. If played on turn one going first, you can stop a Dedenne-GX from setting your opponent up. Wait and See Hammer allows you to further disrupt your opponent if you end up going second, and can be especially useful versus any ADP deck that is trying to set up the turn two Altered Creation-GX+.

9 Energy is honestly low, but it’s essentially 11 if you consider that having an Energy Spinner is basically like having an Energy, but that means we can also use Green’s Exploration to guarantee we don’t miss an attachment that turn. Ideally you would want between 12–14 Energy to further increase your chances. However, we do have to consider the rest of the utility and consistency and that’s why we can’t afford that many.

Malamar VMAX/Weavile-GX

The Weavile-GX version of the deck requires more setup but is also more resilient to the late-game Marnies and Reset Stamps, especially with the help of Silvally-GX CEC:

Pokémon (17)

4 Sneasel UPR

2 Weavile-GX

3 Malamar V

3 Malamar VMAX

2 Type: Null UNM

2 Silvally-GX CEC

1 Umbreon & Darkrai-GX

Trainer (32)

3 Marnie

3 Professor’s Research

2 Boss’s Orders

2 Cynthia & Caitlin

2 Red & Blue

1 Mallow & Lana

 

4 Quick Ball

4 Tag Call

3 Pokémon Communication

2 Evolution Incense

2 Switch

1 Ordinary Rod

 

2 U-Turn Board

 

1 Black Market p

Energy (11)

9 D

2 Capture

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 17

* 4 Sneasel UPR 73
* 2 Weavile-GX UNM 132
* 3 Malamar V RCL 121
* 3 Malamar VMAX RCL 122
* 2 Type: Null UNM 183
* 2 Silvally-GX CEC 227
* 1 Umbreon & Darkrai-GX UNM 125

##Trainer Cards - 32

* 3 Marnie SSH 200
* 3 Professor’s Research SSH 201
* 2 Boss’s Orders RCL 154
* 2 Red & Blue CEC 234
* 2 Cynthia & Caitlin CEC 228
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 216
* 3 Pokémon Communication TEU 196
* 1 Mallow & Lana CEC 231
* 2 Switch SUM 160
* 2 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 4 Tag Call CEC 270
* 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 215
* 1 Black Market p TEU 134
* 2 U-Turn Board UNM 255

##Energy - 11

* 2 Capture Energy RCL 171
* 9 D Energy BUS 168

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=80312 ******

Weavile-GX gives the deck versatility and is a prime target to get Energy on board thanks to Red & Blue, and in turn allows you to move those Energy to your Malamar VMAX to start using Max Disruption. Silvally-GX CEC is also another option for a Red & Blue target, while providing draw power and making the deck Reset Stamp-proof. 1 Umbreon & Darkrai-GX provides the deck with Bench sniping possibilities, along with an extremely powerful GX attack in Dark Moon-GX+, especially if you’re able to have the 6 Energy on it and able to immediately KO an opposing VMAX.

The Trainer engine relies heavily on finding the Red & Blue and evolving Sneasel that way, and thus it has a heavy emphasis on Pokémon search with the Quick Balls, Pokémon Communication, Tag Calls, and Evolution Incense. If you can stick the Black Market p, which isn’t too difficult with the sort of hand control that Max Disruption provides, you might force your opponent to go through 2 Pokémon VMAX or maybe even a third, which would be very powerful.

Energy-wise, the Capture Energy helps in avoiding donks with a lone Sneasel going first, but also helps in setting up at any point. 9 D Energy should be enough to power up your attackers and get to Dark Moon-GX+ if necessary. However, it’s not enough to consider running another big hitter like Greninja & Zoroark-GX, especially with the HP ceiling now becoming 300+ after Rebel Clash.

There are plenty of other Dark Pokémon to consider teching, such as Guzzlord CEC or Darkrai p, but this should provide a good starting point to expand on this concept. Dark Box is something that has been talked about since before Worlds, especially with Weavile-GX allowing for Energy manipulation, but it has yet to make a big impact outside of the Top 16 finish at Worlds in August.

With Dragapult VMAX poised to become the biggest threat in a month’s time, it might finally be time for Dark Box to shine as a meta counter. I’m not sure how it will stand up to the other big VMAX from the set, Toxtricity VMAX, as with the proper setup and double Electropower, Toxtricity can actually hit for exactly 310 damage. It’ll be interesting to see how the meta develops and if this deck ends up becoming the “dark horse” of UPR–Rebel Clash.

Conclusion

And with that, I will be concluding today’s read! I hope you enjoyed the article and are preparing for the Limitless Qualifiers like I am. As always, feel free to respond to the article or reach out on the Tablemon social media if you have any questions or concerns. There may not be too much organized play going on right now, but PTCGO is as lively as ever, I’m sure hitting record numbers for TPCi. And for the first time in apparently three years, they’ve assigned a major log-in bonus and are encouraging people to play with this tweet:

Hopefully that’s a sign of good things to come and TPCi finally pays attention to the online platform they’ve been developing for the past 9+ years. Until next time!


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