Hello, Some1sPC readers! My name is Adler Pierce and I am excited to bring you my first ever article, which is going to cover my Top 32 run at Madison Regionals with ReshiZard. I am a Columbus, Ohio based player currently at 641 CP, which qualifies me for Worlds and places me at 36th place rankings-wise at the time of this article’s writing. Here’s a little background on myself, which I hope will lead to some credibility for the information presented in this article: I started playing all the way back in 2008 as a Junior who somehow grinded into Worlds his first year playing. As a Master, I have a Top 8 finish at 2014 Nationals, a Top 32 at 2014 Worlds, and a 2015 Kentucky State Championship before I opted to take a break due to lack of motivation and my going off to college. I started up again at Collinsville Regionals last year, so this is my first full season back. Some of my accomplishments this season include Top 32 Roanoke Regionals, Top 8 Denver Regionals, and of course Top 32 Madison Regionals, the latter of which I will be discussing today.
This article will cover my Madison tournament report, which will include why I chose to play the Kiawe ReshiZard version, the list I played with explanations about why I included some of the techs, and match reports from some of my more interesting rounds. After that, I will provide an updated list for ReshiZard moving forward into Origins and Internationals along with a matchup guide. I hope you find this guide helpful!
Madison Tournament Report
The Deck Choice:
Going into Madison Regionals, the deck I had the most testing with was PikaRom. I piloted a list similar to the one that made Top 8 in Santa Clara to a 4-2 finish at the Nick Bailey Open. While I really enjoyed the list, I felt like it was missing something. It wasn’t necessarily a turbo-PikaRom deck, but it also wasn’t a slower, more Zapdos focused one like we saw last format. I was trying different lists (at one point I literally had Gustavo’s 60 from EUIC sleeved up testing games) but I ended up liking Andrew Mahone’s PikaPads list the most. The week leading up to the tournament, I was playing the most games on that, as well as Kian’s Green’s version of ReshiZard. While I enjoyed both and thought they were good decks, I knew something was missing. PikaPads was so reliant on the coin flips and that just wasn’t how I wanted to spend my tournament. The Kian ReshiZard felt very slow to play and people were expecting it. I thought through some of my options, which included Blacephalon-GX, Zoroark, and Zapdos, but none of those felt great. I watched Blacephalon get smacked by Dewgong in testing, Zoroark still lost to ReshiZard even with Water attackers, and Zapdos was struggling heavily in all matchups. As I was going back and forth on decks, inspiration hit me: why am I messing with these decks and not just playing the best deck right now? With that in mind, I sleeved up the Kiawe, Ability-focused version of the deck based on Alex Schemanske’s second place finish at Santa Clara and a Sixprizes article, grinded a couple of games, and submitted the list.
If you take away one thing from this article, let it be this: Kiawe ReshiZard is the best deck in format. Playing the clear BDIF was something new to me and it felt incredible. The deck works by putting out a threat, and if your opponent can’t deal with it through a barrage of “Let Loose” and Guzma, you win the game right then and there.
Here is the list I piloted to a 26th place finish at Madison Regionals; some of the card descriptions will further explain why I decided to go with this deck.
I decided not to review every card, as most of them are straightforward, choosing instead to review the highlights and techs of the deck.
To be completely honest, this is the primary reason why I choose this deck. “Let Loose” is one of the best (if not the best) Ability in the game right now. I won an absurd amount of games this weekend by going turn one “Let Loose” into Kiawe, followed by my opponent draw passing it right back to me. At that point, the game is just over already. It gives comeback potential, draw, and disruption all in one card. I opted to run two because that gave me the option to play it turn one and then have another to play later in the game if I needed to disrupt my opponent or dig to find the card I needed. It has strong synergy with Jirachi, as you can “Let Loose” yourself and be confident that you will find playable cards off of the “Stellar Wish.”
I had my best finish of the season on ZapRoc so I absolutely love Jirachi as a card and felt very comfortable playing with it. This along with Marshadow are the primary draw engine of the deck and allow you to dig for the Energy acceleration pieces you need to be able to win the game. The Green’s version of this deck doesn’t allow you to run this or Marshadow, which is the primary reason why I chose this version of the deck. Playing only two copies of the card was a mistake.
Theoretically, this card is good against PikaRom, Weezing, and the mirror match. You can use the attack to spread damage on their ReshiZard to be able to one-shot them with the “Flare Strike” and a Choice Band. However, this card was dead all weekend. It effectively does none of the things it sets out to do, which I will explain more in the matchup section at the end of the article.
1 Shining Lugia/1 SLG Reshiram/1-1 Arcanine
I wanted to make sure I had hard outs to decks designed to counter ReshiZard. These non-GX attackers are very good against other single-prize decks, since Zapdos needs two Electropower to be able to one-shot one of these guys. Arcanine is an evolution that can tear through Weezing with a second attack that can one-shot pretty much any non-Tag Team GX, and ReshiZard can one-shot baby Blacephalon easily. Shining Lugia is very good against NagQuag. These attackers also give the deck more versatility in attackers. You can do things like Welder onto a Reshiram and hit for 130, then next turn Welder onto Arcanine and clean it up while accelerating Energy to your next attacker. Most likely, your opponent will have to knockout two Tag Teams, and these single-prize attackers can throw a wrench in that plan while improving the bad matchups. I will add that Shining Lugia was a dead card throughout the tournament, as I didn’t play against any one-prize Ability decks like Weezing or NagQuag.
This is a very polarizing card throughout the game. You REALLY want to see it in your first seven, but never again after that. It allows you to completely set up an attacker while threatening a turn two Guzma into “Double Blaze GX” with the boosted effect, which is essential to winning the mirror or just snowballing the game. Without Kiawe, I feel like ReshiZard decks cannot snowball as effectively.
The best answer for why I play four Guzma is ‘why not play four Guzma?’ It increases your chances of finding it at every point in the game making it even easier to snowball out of control. What is your opponent supposed to do when you “Let Loose,” Kiawe, then turn two Guzma whatever they have in play? Additionally, Guzma acts as a pseudo-consistency card. You can Guzma your attacker out of the Active and put up a Jirachi to “Stellar Wish” to find whatever you need for next turn.
3 Acro Bike
One thing you will quickly note about this deck is that the Supporter line works very differently than any other deck. None of the Supporters besides Welder nets you any card draw, therefore we must find cards in different ways. This is accomplished through all the draw Pokémon we play, in addition to these Acro Bikes. One important thing about the Bikes to keep mind: don’t play them until you actively need something for that turn. You want to conserve your resources and don’t want to Acro Bike too aggressively or you might find that you discarded what you ended up needing turns later.
1 Viridian Forest
A very good Stadium that allows you to thin the deck (albeit not as well as Heat Factory does). This card’s primary use, however, was to bump my own Heat Factory. I had several games against Fire decks where I had put Heat Factory down turns earlier to get going but found myself in a position where I needed to “Let Loose” my opponent into missing Guzma or some other key card, so it was necessary to find the Forest so I could reduce the chance of them finding it, which surprisingly worked several times.
I don’t vividly remember all my matchups, but I can provide some quick notes for the ones I do remember:
This just shows the power of the deck. Just by using Eevee & Snorlax-GX in combination with “Let Loose” I was able to beat a deck built to beat Fire. Winning this first round gave me a lot of confidence in the deck.
This guy’s list was INSANE. I won a convincing Game 1 with Eevee & Snorlax-GX again, but in Game 2, he revealed his counter: a single Marshadow-GX with Koga’s Trap copying the dark Alolan Grimer with a Choice Band to one-shot the Eevee & Snorlax-GX. My jaw dropped when that happened. I still went with the Eevee & Snorlax-GX strategy in Game 3 but timed my “Let Loose” more strategically culminating in a victory.
LWW PikaRom (against Xander Pero on stream)
I’ve known Xander for a while, but never have had the chance to play against him before. I was even more excited when we got chosen for the stream game. I really enjoy playing on stream, as it helps me focus in and gives the chance for some of my college friends back home to tune in. Game 1 started off atrociously, with me having to Welder onto a Marshadow just to draw cards, which quickly translated to a loss. Game 2 went much better, where I was able to find consistent knockouts and eventually Welder two onto the Active to “Double Blaze GX” for the win. Game 3, I started Growlithe, which enabled me to attach an Energy and Choice Band to “Live Coal” the Active PikaRom for 40. This made the math very easy for the first PikaRom, as all I needed was a three Energy ReshiZard to one-shot it. I was able to do so without a response, which led to a quick end to the series. Although I won the matchup, I realized it wasn’t as favorable as I had previously thought.
LL Kian ReshiZard
I can chalk this loss up to me misplaying and not knowing the matchup as well as I should have. I didn’t play to my win conditions of the turn two “Double Blaze GX” to one-shot his ReshiZard or time “Let Loose” correctly leading to an 0-2 loss in what I think is a fine matchup.
WW Ultra Necrozma
I think he was only able to “Psychic Recharge” once all series; “Let Loose” put in a lot of work.
LL ReshiZard (Caleb Gedemer)
I was very excited coming into the round to play against Caleb again, as he had ended my Denver Regionals run just a few months prior. I was unable to put up much of a fight, however, after getting some suboptimal hands off “Let Loose.” My list was also much worse than his in terms of consistency, which was evident.
I didn’t know the deck I was up against, so I opted just to take the ID. It felt bad going into Day 2 at 6-2-1 making you unable to lose a single game to have a chance of making Top 8, but had I traveled with a couple of judges who would be there most of the day anyway, and I preferred to guarantee play in Day 2 instead of just hanging out until they were done.
All these matchups can be contributed to me just drawing better. I was able to finesse one of these six games going second by him playing Kiawe onto his Active ReshiZard going first, so he would need Guzma and a switch card to knockout my Benched ReshiZard, which he missed giving me the chance to respond.
LWL Blacephalon-GX (Ian Robb)
I was very excited to be on a win-and-in to Top 8, but my heart dropped a little bit when I saw the matchup. It was a bad matchup against an incredibly good player, but I knew I had a chance. Game 1, I lost the coin flip and went with my usual strategy of using a Kiawe onto a ReshiZard, following it up with a turn two attack and “Let Loose.” He drew out of it and hit the knockout, at which point I promptly scooped to Game 2. I ended up going with a different strategy of leading with the Arcanine first and using “Heat Tackle” to secure the first knockout, which makes the Beast Ring turn much easier to handle with a single-prize attacker in the Active. He missed the knockout and I was able to quickly take the game. Game 3 was very close with a lot of back and forth, but he was able to deal with the Arcanine very easily and even after knocking it out, still had enough Energy on board to knockout the follow up ReshiZard. I opted instead to go in with Reshiram SLG and a Choice Band hitting in for 160 with the goal of cleaning up with Mew. However, I whiffed it on the next turn and he was able to eventually find Guzma for game.
LL Zoro/Persian/Slowking (Zack Taylor)
I was disheartened after losing my win-and-in, which hurt my mentality coming into this game. It didn’t help that after my turn one Kiawe going first he hit the Lele, Double Colorless Energy, Guzma to “Energy Drive” onto it, along with a Dedenne-GX to find every Basic he needed to close out the game. Game 2, I prized my Eevee & Snorlax-GX along with dead drawing to put an end to my tournament run at 9-4-1 and 26th place.
Overall, I was happy with the deck. I knew going into the tournament that the list wasn’t perfect, but even with its faults the deck performed very well. Even before the tournament ended I knew exactly how I wanted to improve the list moving forward based on anticipated Meta shifts, which I will share in the next section.
Moving Past Madison and Into Origins SPE and NAIC
ReshiZard is still the best deck in format and is my number one play going into these events. My list from Madison was not optimal, and so I will be going over the first iteration of a new list:
2 Reshiram & Charizard-GX
2 Marshadow SLG
1 Tapu Lele-GX
1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX
4 Ultra Ball
4 Nest Ball
3 Acro Bike
3 Fire Crystal
2 Choice Band
2 Escape Board
1 Heat Factory Prism Star
The key changes from my Madison list are first and foremost adding more consistency. Only playing two Nest Ball and two Jirachi was insanity on my part and made my opening turns terrifying to play. This is one of those decks where as long as you get going early it will be very hard for your opponent to respond, so maxing out consistency should be a top priority. I cut Mew and Shining Lugia, as they weren’t great, and put in Miltank and Turtonator. Single-prize attackers are inherently important to have, as they can help swing the prize trade in your favor, but Miltank can also do that. It makes your Tag Teams much more resilient to poking, allowing them to get through enough one-prize attackers to make the trade more favorable. Turtonator is very good against Blacephalon-GX, as you can use Arcanine to “Heat Tackle” the first one, Turtonator with a Choice Band to knockout the second one, and then clean up the final prizes with a ReshiZard. I expect Blacephalon to rise in popularity seeing that it just won a Regionals, and most people already have the cards for it. Choice Band is still a necessary card, as I see PikaRom getting more and more hype and that card is crucial in that matchup. I opted for no Fiery Flint, my reason being you want to “Let Loose” as much as possible and the card feels very dead when you draw it off the “Let Loose.” With a four-card hand you simply don’t have two other cards you want to discard for the four energy. Unlike Ultra Ball, where you can pull out the Lele or Dedenne to draw more, Fiery Flint is often not worth the card loss. More testing is necessary on the card, but I would be more inclined to put Viridian Forest back in rather than the Flints. The second Snorlax Tag Team was a great Meta call for Madison, but I am unsure how great it will be moving forward. I did fine against Zoroark even with only one, and I could foresee Zoroark decks shifting back to some Fighting attackers such as Lycanroc-GX or Fighting Memory on Silvally-GX, which makes the Snorlax worse.
This is only the first list I will be testing and I’m sure I will switch around some of the tech spots to improve certain matchups. I could see a return of one-prize decks such as Malamar and Zapdos trying to combat the oppressive Tag Teams in PikaRom and Charizard, so putting back in another single-prize attacker such as Reshiram SLG could be good.
Up next, I have a matchup guide along with techs you can play to improve certain matchups.
Kiawe ReshiZard: Even
The matchup is straightforward; whoever gets six Energy on a ReshiZard first will end up winning the game. This obviously favors the play going first. Your game plan going first should be finding a ReshiZard, attaching an Energy to it and then using Kiawe. This puts five Energy on the beast, which sets it up perfectly for the following turn being able to Guzma up your opponent’s ReshiZard and GX attack it for three prizes putting you in a commanding lead. This is why the DDG guys cut Choice Bands; they are irrelevant if you just hit the turn “Double Blaze GX” in the mirror. Going second in the matchup makes things a lot more difficult but still manageable (I went 6-0 match score against mirror in Day 2 and I definitely did not go first all those games). Your best tool going second is “Let Loose.” They have five of their twelve Energy in play already, which means just under half of their Energy are gone (probably more since prizes exist). It is possible that they whiff the Energy and Guzma off the “Let Loose.” This can give you enough time to hit the six Energy on ReshiZard first. As the game progresses, you always want to focus fire where the Energy is. Other options for starting the game include leading with the Arcanine. If you find the Choice Band to go with it, you can hit for 150 on their ReshiZard and accelerate more Energy onto your board, and they can’t really Guzma around it since it can just clean up the knockout the following turn. This allows you to do things like using Arcanine to accelerate two Energy onto the ReshiZard, then attach and Welder bringing it up to five Energy on the following turn, which can lead to some checkmate scenarios with Guzma and an Energy on the final turn. The mirror match is the most important matchup to know going into Origins and NAIC.
Techs to improve: Turtonator, Consistency
Both decks are high-powered and can trade one-shots, but at the end of the day ReshiZard can do it easier. Their plan is to find three damage modifiers in Choice Band and Electropower to one-shot a ReshiZard using “Tag Bolt GX” with just three Energy attached with hopes that you won’t be able to respond. This is why Mew does nothing in the matchup, because they never actually have a free turn to “Full Blitz” to set the Energy up for the bonus effect of “Tag Bolt.” They must aggressively “Tag Bolt” to even stand a chance. Choice Bands are crucial in this matchup to find those one-shots. Your game plan should be finding Kiawe on the ReshiZard turn one to put immediate pressure on the board. Be very cautious in the amount of Energy you have in play as they can use Tapu Koko-GX to take an easy knockout out of nowhere. They will use Zapdos at the start to find some cheap knockouts and poke onto the ReshiZard, but the game plan is still the same to find Guzma/Choice Band to take the first knockout on a PikaRom. They must commit an absurd amount of resources to take the one-shot in the form of three modifiers, their GX attack, and possibly Guzma. This means they will be starved of Energy on board and not have the gas in the tank to take another one-shot on a Tag Team. Not playing a normal GX down will force them to knockout three one-prizers and a Tag Team, or just two Tag Teams, both of which are hard for the deck to do. “Let Loose” is also key once they have used a Dedenne-GX or two. They also have very few ways of bumping Heat Factory outside of Thunder Mountain.
Tech to Improve: Choice Bands
Zoroark/Anything: Extremely Favored
Eevee & Snorlax-GX is just too strong here. Most of the time it can steam roll the entire game taking one-shots on everything, and even if they take the knockout, you can easily run a second one meaning each one has to take three prizes, a very simply task since they play no way to one-shot it. Focus down the Persian-GX if possible, as that gives their deck a lot of extra gas. Their best chance against you is finding the turn two attack with Tapu Lele onto the Eevee & Snorlax-GX to weaken it. Them hitting that is very rare and rather risky, as it means they usually don’t have a strong board state. If your hand allows it, it is almost better to not Kiawe and just Welder onto it the turn you attack with it. This prevents the “Energy Drive” play from doing enough damage. Zoroark decks can have an incredible amount of variety and counts, so use the first game to gauge what sort of techs they’re playing and adjust your game plan accordingly. I never played against the Silvally-GX version of the deck, but your play should be focusing down the Persian-GX if they play it and “Let Loose” followed with an attack of whichever Pokémon the Memory is not hitting for Weakness, as they don’t have a way of searching the right Memory out of the deck.
Techs: Second Eevee & Snorlax-GX, Power Plant
Green’s ReshiZard: Slightly Favored
This plays out very similarly to the normal mirror match. Your goal is still the same; get six Energy onto the ReshiZard first. The Kiawe version does this better so you should be a turn ahead in this regard since Volcanion only accelerates three Energy whereas Kiawe nets you four. Additionally, you can disrupt their hand, which is crucial as their whole goal is to amass a large one with all the resources they need to close out the game. They have a few tricks up their sleeve–mainly doing something along the lines of using Professor Kukui and Custom Catchers along with a Choice Band be able to one-shot your ReshiZard. That requires a lot of combo pieces however, so if you time your “Let Loose” correctly the game should be no problem. You also have attackers such as Arcanine that can trade very favorably with the Volcanion. This is a matchup that benefits from a lot from testing.
Techs: More consistency, more hand disruption
Zapdos: Slightly Unfavored
You want to utilize your non-GX attackers as much as possible in this matchup. Shining Lugia, Arcanine, and baby Reshiram all trade incredibly well into all the attackers Zapdos plays. Zapdos, however, requires multiple Electropower. The reality is that they eventually run out of gas and can’t one-shot your single-prize attackers anymore leading to a favorable prize exchange. You want to find the Growlithe either turn one when you go first or the first time you attack with a non-GX attacker. They will highly prioritize knocking it out so you want to Bench it at a time when you have a response, or when it’s hard for them to find the Guzma. You want to avoid Benching the ReshiZard for as long as possible since they have strong answers to it with Koko-GX and Nihilego. If you have to attack with it and go down to two prizes, do so in combination with a “Let Loose,” hopefully making it harder for them to hit the Nihilego, Choice Band, Shrine to take the one-shot. At that point in the game, most, if not all, of their Electropower should be gone, so sticking a four Energy ReshiZard in the Active should be safe from Tapu Koko-GX. This is a matchup that can substantially improve with techs. If you run enough one-prize attackers to force six knockouts the matchup becomes very favorable.
Techs: More Arcanine, Rescue Stretcher, Shining Lugia, Reshiram SLG, Volcanion, Miltank
Blacephalon GX: Very Unfavored
Ian Robb took down four ReshiZard in his last five rounds of Madison, which just shows how hard this matchup is. With the addition of Welder, they can get so much Energy on the board so quickly that it makes attacking with ReshiZard almost impossible. The game plan is to use a one-prize attacker to knockout the first Blown–which will hopefully lessen the brunt of the Beast Ring turn–then follow that up with the ReshiZard’s “Double Blaze GX.” Hopefully, they then either miss the knockout, or you can stall long enough to get another ReshiZard online to take the final two prizes. Make sure to “Let Loose” on the Beast Ring turn to limit their outs and, if possible, don’t play down Heat Factory, as the more cards they see the more likely they are to win. I think this is another matchup that be improved with techs. A thicker Arcanine line or Turtonator gives you the option to knockout two Blowns with non-GX attackers, which means you can clean up the last one with a “Double Blaze GX.”
Techs: Turtonator, more Arcanine
Their deck is designed to beat yours. They have easy access to both Water and Fighting Pokémon to hit for Weakness. They also have the potential to find the “Beast Game GX” knockout, which I expect more people to play seeing Frank Percic’s success on the deck in Madison. Their deck has a lot of moving pieces, which you can exploit with well-timed “Let Loose” (one at the start and another at a pivotal point in the game). This is another matchup where you want to lead with the non-GX attackers to try and take some favorable trades. Focus down the Woopers and Quags to shut down their engine. If you play Shining Lugia, this is one matchup where it can put in a lot of work. You want to stream your non-GX attackers before switching over to the Eevee & Snorlax-GX to try and finish out the game. At the end of the day, this is not something you should be teching for. It takes up a very small percentage of the field, so you will likely not even hit one, and even if you do it’s still possible to steal games.
Techs: Field Blower, Shining Lugia, Rescue Stretcher
I really do not think Weezing is that good of a deck. Weezing is one of those decks that if you start off 2-0 or 3-0 at Origins or NAIC you will likely not play one for the rest of the tournament because it has poor matchups across the board. It’s one of those decks that good players just know how to play around. What you want to do is keep your Bench as small as possible and map out the prizes that you want to let them take. You should make them play the eight-prize game, giving them a ReshiZard (most of your knockouts can be with “Outrage”), then two non-GXs and follow that up with a single Tag Team in play with nothing else. One of those non-GX attackers should be Arcanine, as they need several attacks to finish it off. Doing that should lock up the game.
Techs: Field Blower, Shining Lugia, Rescue Stretcher, more Arcanine, Stealthy Hood
Baby Blowns: Unfavorable
This is very similar to NagQuag in the sense that they play a non-GX attacker that can one-shot all your stuff. In fact, you want to play out the matchup in the same way. Start with non-GX attackers and transition into your Tag Team after they have used their resources with a well-timed “Let Loose” (although it’s harder to stick as they likely play the Jirachi version). The deck has inherit inconsistencies that you can exploit and is not a deck played in high numbers, so you will likely not even play against it.
Techs: Baby Reshiram, Field Blower, more non-GX attackers, Stretcher
Stall: Extremely Favorable
ReshiZard is the only thing keeping stall from being the BDIF right now. Whether the deck plays Vileplume or not, Arcanine is the MVP, allowing you to stream Energy and deal consistent damage while threatening one-shots with “Heat Tackle” on anything they might play. If it is the Vileplume version, make sure to protect the Arcanine with “Let Loose” so they can’t build up the pieces to a Lugia-GX and “Lost Purge” against it. The match will likely be long and grindy but be careful what you Bench (don’t Bench a ReshiZard too early or they can pull it up and Hoopa stall) and hold onto your resources and you should be just fine using Arcanine and then transitioning into ReshiZard for the final prizes.
ReshiZard had a dominating Madison performance and I expect it to remain at the top for Origins and NAIC. One of the biggest strengths ReshiZard has is its ability to be teched depending on the anticipated Meta. Turtonator, Reshiram SLG, Shining Lugia, Field Blower, and any other card discussed could all be teched in effortlessly to improve matchups that you think you will hit. I recommend focusing your efforts around the big three decks of ReshiZard mirrors, PikaRom, and Zoroark. For anyone looking to lock up their Worlds invites at Origins or NAIC, look no further. ReshiZard is a very consistent deck that takes positive matchups around the board. I guarantee that you will win several games just by using “Let Loose” and Kiawe on turn one. The deck is not perfect, and people will try to hard counter you, but those decks are usually suboptimal against the rest of the field, and you can even cheese wins off them anyway. Put some time into testing and have a plan for playing the mirror match and you will be in good shape to lock up the final points needed for that invite. Thanks for reading my first article! I hope it was both helpful and informative, and I wish you the best of luck in finishing out the season.