Hey there readers, I’ve been invited back to write again following my first article and I’m beyond excited to do so! I’m particularly enthusiastic because I get to share with you all a currently unknown variant of Cinccino Control, which has quickly become one of my favorite decks of the current Standard format.
Following the Limitless Series, after just barely whiffing the invitational, I was burned out. I had no motivation to play Standard, Expanded, or really engage in any competitive play. I’d join the occasional online tournament, wanting to keep myself sharp, but I was mostly motivated by the prize support. Like many people, I gravitated toward the Legacy format on PTCGO. I had fun creating some funny Stall and Mill decks, most of which were not great but I was enjoying myself. However, I was quickly thrown back into the Standard mindset when my friend Joel Stroeve introduced to me the idea of a Cinccino Control variant that focused heavily on Energy denial. I, of course, implored him to try Cinccino Mill. However, he said he wanted to try the idea out. The deck quickly became a focus within our friend group. Within a few days it went from an interesting pet deck to something we thought could become a high-tier archetype.
Previously, I’ve had my issues with Cinccino Control. Until now, it has been attempting to accomplish a similar goal to Pidgeotto Control’s, where you attempt to hand lock the opponent late game. However, I found multiple issues with the archetype.
Firstly, hand lock often wants to pull off what is sometimes referred to as the “Exodia” turn, where the hand Control player typically wants to: (1) use Reset Stamp late game, then (2) Chip-Chip Ice Axe, followed by (3) removing the cards the opponent got from the Reset Stamp with either Mars or Jessie & James, and (4) finish it off by using Articuno-GX’s Cold Crush-GX attack in order to remove any Energy off an Active attacker. The exact line of play obviously varies on the situation, but the objective is to leave your opponent with no hand, a bad topdeck, and something useless stuck in the Active Spot. From there, the Control player could use Oranguru’s Resource Management attack to continuously retrieve and play Chip-Chip Ice Axe to infinitely lock their opponent for the rest of the game.
However, this “Exodia” turn has been harder and harder to completely pull off with such a strong presence of Marnie and Reset Stamp in the meta. A well-timed hand disruption from the opponent can quickly ruin Control’s chances of securing a lock, and it can prove difficult to recover from such a situation.
From there, the Control player has to decide whether they want to (A) wait until they have a complete lock available to them at the risk of getting their hand disrupted or (B) attempt a lock earlier at the risk of the opponent getting lucky and drawing out of it. That level of uncertainty never made me happy when playing the deck.
Secondly, until now, Cinccino’s lock hasn’t been as infinite. Because the Control player needs to discard a card every turn with Cinccino’s Make Do Ability to get what they retrieved with Resource Management, they eventually run out of cards that they want to discard. This limits the Control player’s options toward the end of the game, and, if the Control player isn’t careful, their opponent might land an opportunistic Reset Stamp and deck them out. Unlike Mill, Control is playing for a longer game, recycling many more resources, and appreciates an infinite loop. Eventually the Control player is limited to 2 cards per Resource Management, as they need to discard the first to draw the other two.
Lastly, and this has been my biggest concern, consistency was always a problem for me when playing Cinccino Control. Until now, Cinccino Control lists have reduced their Pokémon search options, reduced their Supporter counts, and pared their Cinccino line. Individually, I don’t have a massive issue with these changes. However, all together, they’re very concerning. I continuously bricked and with fewer Cinccinos it was harder to set them up and that made Marnie all the more intimidating. I found the deck to be more fragile than Mill, and so I stuck with Cinccino’s more aggressive and consistent archetype.
I’m glad to say that most of these issues have been resolved with this new deck. It still has its flaws, but it is less susceptible to hand disruption, has the ability to infinitely loop its resources, and it’s surprisingly consistent, as all Cinccino lists should be. This deck has answers to most things in the meta, with multiple overwhelmingly favorable matchups and very few unfavorables.
Without further ado, I present to you the new and improved Cinccino Control:
2 Zacian V
1 Pal Pad
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 19
##Trainer Cards - 37
* 1 Boss’s Orders RCL 154
* 1 Chip-Chip Ice Axe UNB 165
* 2 Metal Saucer SSH 170
* 2 Team Yell Grunt SSH 202
* 3 Marnie SSH 169
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 4 Crushing Hammer SSH 159
* 1 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
* 4 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 2 Mt. Coronet UPR 130
* 1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy UNB 178
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 3 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 1 Switch SSH 183
* 1 Pal Pad SSH 172
* 1 U-Turn Board UNM 211
* 1 Bellelba & Brycen-Man CEC 186
* 1 Mars UPR 128
* 2 Ordinary Rod SSH 215
##Energy - 4
* 4 M Energy BLWEnergy 112
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81795 ******
Considering that the deck focuses on Energy denial, most of the list should be fairly self-explanatory. However, there are some very unorthodox includes that I feel need to be elaborated upon.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Why is there a Shuckle-GX in a competitive deck, let alone a Control deck? Shuckle-GX is not only one of the most out-there inclusions, but also one of my favorite mechanics the deck has to offer.
Spiritomb cannot handle Shuckle. The Spiritomb matchup becomes one of the most laughably easy matchups thanks to Shuckle-GX. A Spiritomb player has to load 3 Energy on a single Spiritomb, put 4 damage counters on it, and attach a Hustle Belt in order to Knock Out a Shuckle-GX. With the vast amount of Energy denial that you have at your disposal, this is near impossible. Even if they somehow manage to Knock Out the Shuckle-GX, all you have to do is get Shuckle back into the deck with Ordinary Rod, use Quick Ball to get it back into your hand, put it back into the Active, and use Shuckle’s Triple Poison attack to Knock Out the Spiritomb that they worked so hard for. Shuckle also has uses in niche matchups where the opponent doesn’t have an efficient way to play around it, but it’s mostly for the Spiritomb matchup.
Quite possibly the most important change from traditional Cinccino Control lists is the omission of Articuno-GX for Lucario & Melmetal-GX to fill a similar role. Instead of using Articuno’s Cold Crush-GX attack, you use Metal Saucer to get a 2nd Energy onto Lucario & Melmetal-GX in order to use its Full Metal Wall-GX+ attack. The first question that will come to most people’s minds is “Why? It’s obviously worse and harder to pull off than Articuno, right?” Although Articuno-GX is easier to use and requires less pieces to pull off, there is one crucial card that puts Lucario & Melmetal-GX above Articuno-GX: Mt. Coronet.
Mt. Coronet is the key to our infinite loop. By allowing the Control user to recover 2 cards directly to hand, they are able to use Cinccino’s Make Do Ability for effectively no cost, allowing for an infinite loop. Mt. Coronet can’t be utilized in every matchup, but it allows for the deck to comfortably loop resources in most matchups.
In addition, running M Energy and Metal Saucer enables you to do something not possible in previous Cinccino Control builds: use Brave Blade. Every so often you might find yourself dealing with a card you’d really rather not deal with. Victini p, Aipom SM244, opposing Oranguru UPRs, and Item lock techs are a few examples. With the ability to use Zacian V’s Brave Blade attack, you can rid yourself of those annoyances swiftly. Most decks don’t often play a way to recover these techs they play, and that knockout can remove those cards for the rest of the game. It also allows you to remove Energy from the field by Knocking Out their attacker. It’s not going to happen most games, but it’s an option at your disposal.
Marnie is a surprisingly nice draw Supporter for this Cinccino build. When trying to dig deep for Crushing Hammers in the early game, you will often find yourself wanting to dig deeper, but not wanting to use Professor’s Research to discard valuable resources that you’ll need for later in the game. Marnie fixes that issue. You are able to dig deeper for those Crushing Hammers and leave the late-game cards for later. With Crushing Hammers, your Energy denial is immediately expendable. In the early game, when you need Crushing Hammers, you either have them in your hand and you can use them, or you don’t and not much of the rest of your hand is very important at that moment. Marnie putting those cards that you don’t necessarily need back into the deck doesn’t harm you to a great extent.
In addition, Marnie allows you to play around Aipom SM244. You can reduce your hand size but still draw the cards you need. If you ever find yourself with a hand that’s vulnerable to Aipom, a Marnie can save that precious hand from Aipom’s havoc. Marnie also helps you disrupt your opponent’s hand, which is always beneficial to a deck that wants to prevent Energy from hitting the field.
Reset Stamp, 1 Mars, 1 Chip-Chip Ice Axe)Hand Lock Package (2
By including a thin hand lock package, the deck receives a more consistent win condition against decks that are equipped to deal with Energy denial. The Reset Stamps are good regardless of matchup. You want to get rid of Energy on the field and then Reset Stamp can remove Energy from their hand. The Mars is also useful regardless of matchup because it’s a nice Supporter to draw a few extra cards, and it also can threaten to punish your opponent if they leave themselves with a small hand. However, the Chip-Chip Ice Axe is for securing a hand lock and usually isn’t used otherwise. Matchups such as Malamar, where they can circumvent your Energy denial, require the hand lock in order to secure control over the board state.
Other Possible Includes
Adding a 2nd card to control the opponent’s topdeck is at the top of the list when it comes to possible changes. The two cards we have in the format currently are Hiker and Chip-Chip Ice Axe. When establishing a hand lock, you want a second topdeck controller because typically you will want to use Full Metal Wall-GX on the turn you initially hand lock. This means that you cannot use Resource Management that same turn to recycle the Chip-Chip Ice Axe. This leads to one turn following the initial lock where the opponent can topdeck themselves out of the lock. We want to eliminate that point of uncertainty. The advantage of using Chip-Chip Ice Axe is that it’s an Item, and you can use a Supporter during that turn as well. However, there is a benefit to Hiker in that it can be retrieved from the discard with Pal Pad. This, along with its stronger effect in comparison to Chip-Chip Ice Axe, makes it a more versatile and reliable card. There is also the chance that you prize your single Chip-Chip Ice Axe in an important matchup, and running a 2nd topdeck-control card can assist in those circumstances.
A good Control deck usually has a Supporter that can switch your Active Pokémon in some manner. It’s important to prevent your opponent from trapping Zacian in the Active Spot. This role is often fulfilled by Tate & Liza. Playing Tate & Liza has the benefit of providing a consistency card as a draw Supporter but also providing that niche ability to pivot the Active. However, the list currently opts to use Mallow & Lana to fulfill that role instead. The main idea behind this choice is that the deck already has quite a few draw Supporters, and healing can be really useful in niche situations. If you find yourself needing that extra draw support, maybe consider swapping the two cards.
Although both of these cards can serve multiple niche purposes, their main purpose would be to win the mirror match (or any other similar archetypes). Faba itself doesn’t help much in a 60-card mirror match for this list, as it doesn’t run Recycle Energy. However, Faba allows you to have a reliable answer for Recycle Energy when you encounter it. Otherwise, you would need to put it back into your opponent’s hand with Crushing Hammer and then discard it from their hand with Mars, and then put it in the Lost Zone with Girafarig. That is not reliable.
Girafarig is far more universally useful than Faba. It allows you to remove any cards from your opponent’s arsenal permanently, and could prove useful in matchups where your opponent can naturally recover resources from the discard. It should win the mirror, not just because it can permanently remove Energy from the game when you discard them with Crushing Hammer, but also because you can slowly remove important cards from their discard that can recover resources such as Ordinary Rod, Oranguru UPR, Pal Pad, etc.
Persian acts as a soft counter to Zacian decks. Zacian decks can cause a little bit of trouble in that they have consistent access to drawing an extra 3 cards at the end of their turn with Zacian’s Intrepid Sword Ability. That means that the Control player needs to Reset Stamp them every turn, hoping that the 1–2 cards that they get off of the Reset Stamp will not help restore their board state. Persian is helpful in that you force them to reduce their hand to at most 1 card and then draw out of the lock on the first Intrepid Sword. Otherwise, if they don’t pare their hand to 1 card or less, Persian can ruin the hand and any further Intrepid Swords would put the Zacian player over 4 cards again, leaving them susceptible to Persian again.
However, there is a fairly strong argument that it isn’t necessary. By the time you start looping Reset Stamp, you ideally want the Zacian player to have almost no Energy on the field, so regardless of how well they draw off the Reset Stamp, they can’t build an attacker quick enough and you just continue to loop Reset Stamp and Crushing Hammers in order to remove any progress they made.
Mew allows you to further protect yourself from Pikachu & Zekrom-GX’s Tag Bolt-GX attack taking 3 Prizes in one turn late in the game, which would skip the turns of painful Reset Stamps that your game plan so heavily relies on. Mew also helps protect the Bench from annoying attackers that target the Bench such as Cramorant V. However, Mew isn’t in the list because there is a strong argument that it isn’t necessary. By the time the opponent can use Tag Bolt-GX to win the game, the Control player should have been chaining a flurry of Crushing Hammers. In addition, they can rarely Full Blitz directly onto the attacking PikaRom or else you can punish them with Full Metal Wall-GX. It’s also important to note that Zeraora-GX’s Full Voltage-GX attack often proves far more effective as an answer to Energy denial.
Rosa is a really nice card to have when you are missing a piece or two from the “Exodia” turn. It can allow you to get Lucario & Melmetal-GX, a Metal Saucer, and an Energy, which means for most matchups, all you’d need is a Reset Stamp or Metal Saucer previously in hand in order to pull off the combo.
Unfortunately, Rosa feels a little too niche. It gets you key pieces but a lot of times you’d rather play Marnie or Professor’s Research. In the early game it’s often a dead card. It’s somewhat anti-synergistic with your early game plan. You want to deny Energy and deny knockouts but Rosa requires a knockout to be useful. The only time where Rosa is better than Marnie is during that late-game period before the Reset Stamp + Full Metal Wall combo, when your deck probably won’t be too large anyway and you will probably just draw into the pieces anyway.
As always, I believe the strength of a Control deck lies in the pilot’s knowledge on how to play each matchup. I’m going to try to give a brief explanation on how relevant matchups play out and how one should plan to tackle them.
Spiritomb is easily one of my favorite decks to play against with this archetype because it is a hilarious concept to me that a Control deck is going to take 6 Prizes to win the game. You barely have to think whatsoever. Just put Shuckle-GX into the Active Spot, and play Crushing Hammers and attack with Triple Poison every turn. You do need to be careful if they play Mind Report Mewtwo, as they technically have the ability to gust around Shuckle seven times. However, you can either Knock Out the Mewtwo or you can just outpace them. You take Prizes very efficiently with Shuckle and they need to find a viable attacker, set it up under Energy denial (meaning that they need to hold the Energy in their hand until they attack), and they need the Boss’s Orders. You can stream Marnies or Reset Stamps in order to prevent them from achieving that combo.
In addition, the first place list from the Limitless Invitational didn’t play a single way to retrieve the Supporter from the top of the deck after a Mind Report without using another Supporter. This means that for every Mind Report they use, they are relying on getting it on the next turn. This is good for the Control player because if they drew into it last turn with the effect of a Supporter, you can use Reset Stamp or Marnie to remove it from their hand, or, if they leave it on top of the deck, you can discard it with Bellelba & Brycen-Man.
Combo Zacian/LucMetal Zacian
Combo Zacian is one of your closer matchups. The ideal game plan is to use Crushing Hammers to remove Energy from all but one Zacian. That way, when you use Reset Stamp late in the game and use Full Metal Wall-GX on the Zacian with the Energy, the opponent is left with no Energy on the field and 2–3 cards in their hand. This can prove difficult at times. Combo Zacian has the ability to take an extra Prize whenever they want, so they will often save Jirachi p in the Prizes until a game-winning knockout in order to play around your Reset Stamps. I would advise to remove Zacian V from the board in the mid-late game, as it can be gusted and your opponent can take 3 Prizes, completely skipping the painful Reset Stamps you rely on.
The difficult thing about any Zacian matchup is that the opponent can use Zacian’s Intrepid Sword Ability to draw 3 cards. This is combated by recovering and using Reset Stamp every turn so that they never get to use those cards. However, if you continue to Reset Stamp, the opponent is getting at least 3 new cards every turn (2 off of Reset Stamp and 1 for turn). Your goal is to make their board state so poor that nothing they can do in one turn can realistically recover it. This means getting rid of their Energy, gusting the Oranguru they often play, etc. Always make sure that you have your Crushing Hammers available to you when you start looping Reset Stamp. The opponent might get the occasional Energy off of Intrepid Sword that you’ll want to get rid of.
Zacian LucMetal is essentially the Combo Zacian matchup but without the concern of Jirachi p. Unlike the Combo Zacian matchup, you can often Reset Stamp the opponent to 1 card in hand, which makes it all the more difficult for your opponent to recover.
Side Note: This should go without saying, but don’t play Mt. Coronet in this matchup. They’re just going to have endless Energy too…
Pikachu & Zekrom-GX is this deck’s other close matchup. Zeraora-GX and the deck’s inherently large number of outs to draw cards after a Reset Stamp can prove troublesome. Zeraora-GX has its Full Voltage-GX attack, which can invalidate a lot of effort the Control player may have made in regard to Energy denial. Zeraora-GX’s Ability also makes it difficult to trap something in the Active Spot, as L Energy provides free retreat to whatever you try to trap. Zeraora-GX provides you with a lot of challenges. Your game plan is similar to that of the Combo Zacian matchup, where you want to destroy their board state and loop Reset Stamps if they ever draw out of a previous Reset Stamp. PikaRom has a far easier method of getting all their Energy onto the field, so it’s often difficult to achieve that perfect board state.
An interesting line of play that you can take is Knocking Out the Zeraora-GX. PikaRom plays no way to recover its Pokémon at the moment, so Zacian V Knocking Out Zeraora-GX would remove it from the game entirely. However, it’s important to note that this line of play only works if Zacian has a previously-attached Energy on it. Otherwise, if you use both Metal Saucers in one turn, you will leave yourself vulnerable to a Tag Bolt-GX. The opponent can recognize that both Saucers have been used and that Lucario & Melmetal couldn’t use Full Metal Wall to discard their Energy the next turn. With that knowledge, they can Full Blitz the Zacian V, load their Active PikaRom with the extra 3 Energy, and that sets up a 3-Prize turn for them fairly easily. However, they can’t really do so unless it’s for the win, or else you can respond with Reset Stamp, Lucario & Melmetal-GX, etc. Just be mindful of the opponent’s ability to use Tag Bolt at any point later in the game.
Despite being a Cinccino deck, Dragapult is a surprisingly favored matchup. Most Dragapult lists run 8 Energy: 4 Horror P Energy and 4 P Energy. Due to the extensive Energy denial at your disposal, it’s not very difficult to prevent them from using Max Phantom, and eventually remove all their Energy. Half of their Energy can be easily removed with Giratina UNM. However, it’s important to look out for Mr. Mime TEU and its Scoop-Up Block Ability. If the opponent plays Mr. Mime, it’s beneficial to wait until you have a Scoop Up Net in your hand before benching Giratina so that you can immediately pick it up again. If the Giratina does get stuck on the Bench, you can discard it with Bellelba & Brycen-Man and retrieve it with Ordinary Rod, but that’s less efficient and can take time. Toward the end of the game, it becomes harder and harder for the Dragapult player to respond to Energy denial, as you can start chaining Reset Stamps along with Crushing Hammers and Giratina.
If your opponent is playing the Malamar build of Dragapult, the matchup becomes less straightforward. Not only do you want to deny their Energy, but also hand lock them so that they cannot capitalize on Malamar’s Psychic Recharge ability by switching their Active. This is one of the matchups where the Chip-Chip Ice Axe can pull its weight.
Like other Control decks, this one takes a heavily favored Baby Blacephalon matchup. If Control sets up properly, it’s near impossible to lose. The reality of the matchup is that Baby Blacephalon cannot stream attacks effectively under constant hand disruption with Reset Stamp. Blacephalon itself needs R Energy in the hand to take knockouts, and Cramorant V needs R Energy and a Welder after it takes a knockout. If the Control player loops Reset Stamp and Crushing Hammers, they can eventually reach a point where their opponent has a 2–3-card hand and no Energy on the field. Inevitably, the Blacephalon player will start using Blacephalon’s Blazer attack in order to slowly damage the Active Oranguru. Luckily, the Oranguru can be returned to hand with the help of Scoop Up Net, and used again, denying the opponent from ever taking Prizes with Blazer.
Wow, a matchup where the opponent has no Energy acceleration and relies completely on Energy that can be discarded by Giratina’s Ability? That sounds great! Although Ultimate Mewtwo has Energy acceleration with Solgaleo-GX SUM’s Sol Burst-GX attack, they need to use Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX’s Altered Creation-GX attack instead in order to take Prizes fast enough to have a chance. Especially in the late game, Ultimate Mewtwo cannot cope with constant Energy denial and hand disruption.
Although this list doesn’t run Girafarig in order to remove Alolan Raticate-GX from their discard pile, they can’t take a knockout late game without Energy. Alolan Raticate-GX’s Chuck Away attack does 110 damage after an Altered Creation, which means that the Control player can prevent a knockout by looping Scoop Up Net and removing the damage from Oranguru every turn.
It’s also important to note that Ultimate Mewtwo plays Chaotic Swell. Make sure not to get careless with your Energy supply. If Mt. Coronet is being relied on for Energy attachments, don’t let a Swell remove your ability to use Resource Management.
This deck is incredibly strong. Its placement in the meta gives it favorables almost across the board, with only a few close matchups. The deck is still relatively new. This isn’t a perfect list. This list has had a good amount of effort put into it, but it’s only been a concept for ~2 weeks. Like any Control deck, this deck is meant to be adaptive to the meta. Certain cards become less or more relevant depending on how the meta may shift.
I implore you to try this deck. Cinccino Control has already shown itself to be viable in this meta, and this build is less frail and far more consistent. Once again, I’ll say that you shouldn’t factor other people’s opinion into whether you want to play a deck. If they don’t like it that’s their problem. They need to prepare themselves and learn how to handle Control. A good number of players call Control “degenerate” but never put in the effort to learn how to handle the matchup. The deck isn’t degenerate, you just don’t face it enough or put in the effort to understand how to beat it. Sorry if that comes off as blunt, I just don’t feel like people should be judged for playing the game in a way that suits them best.
I got a comment on my last article about how they found my article to be useless information, as they never wanted to play Mill/Control and they felt that they would much rather have information on how to deal with Mill/Control. I urge anyone that feels this way to regard this type of article as your most valuable resource to combating these archetypes. I provide a game plan for each deck that is significantly relevant in the current meta, which means that I’m informing you of how I am going to try to beat you. I’m telling you my strategy, time to counter it.
An example of this would be the Pikachu & Zekrom matchup. I say in that section that PikaRom has an inherently large number of ways to draw cards after a Reset Stamp. I also say that an Energy + Zeraora-GX can be troublesome for Control’s game plan. You can also see that I run Giratina, which discards Special Energy off of the opponent’s Active Pokémon. With this information, you could figure out that you could keep your Speed L Energy in your hand/deck until late game. This allows you to prevent early Giratina pressure, and it gives you an extra 4 outs to both Energy and drawing cards off a Reset Stamp. Will that win you the matchup 100% of the time? No. Could that increase your chances of winning? For sure. It’s often important to understand how Control works in order to exploit its flaws.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I appreciate it! Hopefully you learned something. If this inspires anyone to try this Control variant, then I hope you the best. The deck can be pretty insane. I want to thank Joel Stroeve for introducing me to the deck and allowing me to write an article over it. If you have ever wanted to learn Control, now’s the time. It’s fun, interactive, and has a consistent place in the meta. It will expand your knowledge and can help you grow as a player. Seize the opportunity.
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