Hello, everyone! This is Franco, back with another article for you all. Now that Team Up has finally been released and we have several major events coming up–whether it is a Regional, League Cup or League Challenge–I’m sure many of you guys are testing out different archetypes, or even reading through the cards to find a possible new combo/archetype that hasn’t been discovered yet. Since the meta is still developing, I’ve decided to share some deck ideas that you guys can experiment with. Hopefully, this article inspires you, or at the very least gives you some knowledge about the current format. Let’s just get started!
The Team Up Charizard turned out to be a very interesting card. It is a Stage 2, non-GX Pokémon that has an Ability that self-accelerates energies from the deck, and its attack, “Continuous Blaze Ball” deals 30 damage plus another 50 for each Fire Energy you discard from it. Generally, Stage 2 Pokémon are difficult to use, since they are so reliant on constantly having to hit Rare Candy and having the right pieces to maintain your board under pressure. However, with the release of Stellar Wish Jirachi, the setup is easier, since it allows you to find the various Rare Candy pieces, and since Charizard has the ability to self-accelerate, you’re not constantly pressured to find energy to attach. Here’s a list for Charizard for those who are interested.
Not much to explain here. Its Ability, “Stellar Wish” is the heart of the deck, allowing you to find the Item, Supporter, or Tool card to help set up your board. If you have two Jirachi in play, and you have cards like Switch or Guzma it allows you to use Stellar Wish twice. This card will become a staple in many decks from here on out. Since the deck does not play Tapu Lele GX, it relies even more heavily on Jirachi, but since it is a single prize Pokémon–though the ability isn’t as strong as Wonder Tag–it is still less of a liability when it comes to prize trade later in the game. You want to utilize its ability to the max and you want to start with it, so there is no reason not to run four in the deck.
The Magcargo line is also an important engine for the deck. Since you play Jirachi, you can combo Magcargo and Jirachi to get the perfect Trainer card you need every turn, which is a major help to maintain your board control. Even if you don’t combo it with Jirachi, you still have cards like Kukui and Erika’s Hospitality, or even Heat Factory to help you draw the card you Smoothed Over for. The main reason why the deck only plays a 1-1 line is because you generally want to get multiple Charizards in play, and you’d also have other Pokémon like Jirachi in play as well, so you don’t always have room for more than one Magcargo at a time. For consistency reasons, I thought that the 1-1 line was enough, since you still have Jirachis to back you up even if you don’t have Magcargo setup. Ditto wasn’t really a choice, since the deck doesn’t play any Charmeleons so Ditto can only evolve into Magcargo, at which point you might as well just stick with Slugma.
This is the main attacker of the deck, and despite the fact that it is a Stage 2 Pokémon, thanks to Jirachi setting it up is slightly easier. Its Ability, “Roaring Resolve,” allows you to search for two Fire Energies from your deck and attach them to Charizard, though Charizard deals 20 damages to itself in exchange. Since Charizard originally has 150 HP, the Ability recoil brings it down to 130, which isn’t a terrible HP and gets your Charizard instantly ready to attack. Of course, what makes this deck so strong is its “Continuous Blaze Ball” attack, which deals 30 damage plus an additional 50 more for each Fire Energy you discard from the attacking Charizard. With a manual attachment and the Ability accelerating another two energies, you’ll typically get three energies on Charizard, which allows it to deal 180 damage and 210 with a Choice Band. In addition, despite that Charizard is a Stage 2 Pokémon, it is still a non-GX Pokémon that can hit like a truck creating a favorable prize trade against most other decks. Since the deck plays a decent amount of Pokémon search cards such as Ultra Ball and Timer Ball, you generally want to focus on finding Rare Candies, and with cards like Jirachi, Magcargo and other Supporters in the deck, it should be fairly easy to find those cards. The 4-0-4 line seems like the most consistent option.
The one Blacephalon GX in the deck is a luxury card to mainly serve as a closer. Since the deck is heavily focused on trading prizes with non-GX Pokemon, you don’t really want to play multiple copies of Blacephalon. Still, the card has nice synergy with Charizard’s “Roaring Resolve” ability, along with the “Mind Blown” attack to close out the game by scoring big knockouts against these new Tag Team GXs. The deck doesn’t play an energy acceleration for Blacephalon itself, since it only plays a single copy, so you‘d have to manually attach two Fire to Blacephalon in order to use “Mind Blown,” but you can still utilize Blacephalon for its “Burst GX” attack to take the last prize; a niche use, but another reason why the card is a solid inclusion.
Still very much a staple card, it allows you to shuffle back and refresh your hand when certain pieces of the Rare Candy line clog them, and since you’re playing a Stage 2 deck, it is a nice Supporter to have in the deck as a four-of. There’s almost no drawback to using it in the early game, so four copies are absolutely necessary.
The card may seem somewhat iffy for some of you guys but it is actually a strong draw Supporter, albeit situational. Once you draw a lot of cards with Erika, you most likely won’t be able to use another one in the following turns so it becomes a dead card, and there are times where you can’t really use it efficiently early game as well. Therefore, I think that two is a balanced count in the deck, since it is generally strong when you’re about to enter into the mid-game phase.
Professor Kukui is mainly there as a damage modifier to help you reach 230 damage with a Choice Band and a third energy with Charizard. In addition to that, you can utilize Kukui to draw the card you put on top with Magcargo’s “Smooth Over” Ability. Most of the time, however, you’ll want to use other draw Supporters, and the +20 damage is situational depending on the matchup so a count of two is a balanced number to have in the deck.
A staple Supporter in the deck, of course, and due to space in the list and the fact that Charizard generally can hit the Active really hard, three is a good number to hit it consistently when you need it.
An important card to get your Jirachi, Charmander and Slugma onto the board so there’s no reason not to run four. Since the good Charmander has 70 HP, and due to the existence of Zapdos as an archetype you really don’t want to commit to playing four Professor Elm’s Lecture either, so Nest Ball was the go-to for this deck.
Another search card that lets you get any Pokemon from the deck, the cost of discarding two cards can even be helpful in shrinking your hand size so you can play Erika’s Hospitality. Still, in a Stage 2 deck that has so many necessary pieces, discarding two cards from your hand can be harmful, so I figured three would be sufficient.
One of the search cards that potentially allows you to grab your Charizards without having to ditch valuable resources. Since the list is already tight, I’ve decided to cut the fourth Ultra Ball in favor of the Timer Ball, but as a personal preference I tend to lean toward Ultra Ball for its consistency, though you can try a split of two Ultra Ball and two Timer Ball as an option as well.
Since the deck does not run Charmeleon, you need four for max consistency and the card has nice synergy with Jirachi’s “Stellar Wish” Ability.
Another important card for Charizard to reach 210 damage by burning three Fire Energies. You can also use it with Blacephalon GX to close out the game, thus why it is a necessity in the deck. The count of three seems like a good number where you have decent odds to hit it when you need it but won’t get in the way when you don’t.
3 Escape Board
Another important tool card in the deck so your Jirachi can retreat after using its Ability. As was the case with Choice Band, three seems to be an ideal number.
Since Charizard requires that you burn all energies attached to it, Energy Recycler is an important card to prevent you from running out of steam. In addition to this, the deck also runs cards like Ultra Ball and Heat Factory Prism Star, where it could require you to discard Fire Energies aside from Charizard’s attack, so Energy Recycler helps compensate for the continual loss of Energy. Since Charizard generally only needs to burn two or three Energies, you don’t really need to play a heavy count of the Recycler either, since it is a dead card early game. Having two Energy Recyclers seems to be enough for the deck.
The card is pretty self-explanatory; it is a card you can potentially pick up with Jirachi and one that you can utilize so that you can use another “Stellar Wish,” then switch into your attacker in the same turn. It is also helpful to be able to switch out of your Charmander at the beginning of the game into Jirachi. Since the list is already tight I was only able to fit two in the deck, but I personally think that Switch is a strong card overall with Jirachi.
1 Heat Factory Prism Star
A good consistency card for fire decks overall, and since it is a draw card you can combo it with Magcargo as well. However, since the deck only plays ten energies total, you want to keep track of your Energies before you dump too many of them.
10 Fire Energies
Since the deck is a setup deck and there are times where you don’t want to have a hand with bunch of Energies early game, ten is a decent number where you can find them frequently to attach from hand or off Charizard’s Ability. You also have the Energy Recyclers to prevent you from running out of them at any point.
Even with Jirachi and Rare Candy, if you feel unsafe or would like to have a mid-stage Pokemon in between to keep the Charizards streamlined, then perhaps adding a Charmeleon would be a good idea. This all comes down to personal preference.
1-2 Bill’s Analysis
Just like how Jirachi is really nice in the deck to setup, Bill’s Analysis is another card that helps you to get some of the key cards you need. It lets you get two Trainers from the top seven cards of your deck, and you can still use Jirachi’s Ability, which means you’re most likely grabbing two or three valuable cards with this combination. This was one of the cards I had actually considered, but I chose to opt-out to give preference to other essential cards. I personally feel like a single copy of this card couldn’t hurt, especially if you’d like to increase the consistency.
1-2 Pokémon Communication
Another card I debated back and forth was Pokémon Communication. Pokémon Communication is a card that you can use to search for any Pokémon from your deck as long as you have another in your hand to shuffle back, and it isn’t a coin flip like Timer Ball. However, In the end I’ve come to the conclusion that since the cards you’d be wanting to shuffle back with Communication most of the time would be either Blacepahlon GX, Charizard, or Magcargo, Ultra Ball and Timer Ball are just more useful overall. Of course there will be scenarios where you might want to shuffle Charizard back into your deck in order to set up, but the deck does not play Tapu Lele GX and you can search Jirachi via Nest Ball, so I personally felt that the scenarios where I’d wish for a Pokémon Communication are quite slim. That being said, the card is useful, and Timer or Ultra Ball don’t fit your personal play style, Pokémon Communication is definitely a consideration you can add into the deck.
1 Victini Prism Star
Victini Prism Star is a cute tech in the deck, however since the deck only plays a total of ten Energy I felt like the damage output would be mediocre. Returning the Energies into your deck is nice, but at that point you’d rather look for Energy Recycler since Victini requires two Fire Energies to attack, and as I mentioned before, the deck doesn’t have a way to accelerate Energies to Pokemon that aren’t Charizard, so for those reasons I decided not to include the card. Personally, I think the card is interesting, but in order to combine this card with Charizard, I think you’d have to build the deck differently fundamentally in order to make Victini Prism Star efficient.
Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX – Slightly Favored
This matchup can vary a bit depending on the ZoroRoc’s build, but overall I want to say that the matchup is fairy favorable for Charizard. Once you setup Charizard with a Choice Band you can one-shot their Zoroark GX and Lycanroc GXs easily, and despite the fact that Zoroark decks can aggressively take prizes, the prize trade still inevitably goes in your favor as long as you can maintain the steam to continually one-shot their GX Pokemon. The time where the matchup becomes tricky is when your opponent begins to disrupt your setup from the start, and toward mid-game if something goes wrong where you whiff a key card or fall behind with your Charizard producing process. As long as you can setup your board consistently utilizing cards like Jirachi, you should be able to keep up against it.
Pikachu & Zekrom GX – Slightly Favorable
The PikaZek matchup also varies slightly based on the list as well, but the deck generally relies heavily on GX attackers, so once you setup your Charizards you should be able to exchange your prizes fairly well. Even if you don’t manage to one-shot PikaZek GX, you can still two-shot efficiently. However, there are also two things you need to watch out for. The first thing is their Zapdos, since it can go aggressive early game to take prizes and disrupt your setup in the process. Even during the mid-game stage, Zapdos can still be a threat, since Electropower allows it to reach one-shot potential on a damaged Charizard that has used its Ability, so you have to bear in mind that your opponent can bring a Zapdos out of nowhere. The other thing to watch out for is PikaZek’s “Tag Bolt GX” attack, since it can knockout a Charizard in the Active and another one on the bench in the same turn. Nonetheless, Charizard is a strong non-GX attacker, so if you manage to survive or have an answer to the aforementioned scenarios you should be able to keep up and win the game.
Celebi & Venusaur GX – Favorable
I think this matchup is pretty self-explanatory where the deck isn’t affected by their Crushing Hammers, nor things like Choice Helmet since Charizard isn’t a GX Pokémon, and pretty much the fact that it can bring energies from the deck with ability and it can swing for a lot due to weakness makes this matchup favorable. Pollen Hazard can be an annoying attack, but you play enough switching cards in the deck to negate the special conditions as well so it shouldn’t be an issue.
Zapdos/Jirachi – Difficult
This matchup is very difficult, since Zapdos goes super aggressive from the start. It comes down to how quickly you can setup your board to pressure the Zapdos player before they rush you with the prize trades. As I already mentioned in the PikaZek matchup, they can still reach the one-hit-knockout damage by utilizing Electropower, but the Zapdos player will need to burn two in order to do so on a damaged Charizard. Therefore, you will eventually get the board control if they run out of steam. Another key point in the matchup is to be careful which Pokémon you’re playing and when you play them. For example, over-benching or playing too many Jirachi or other Pokemon that can get easily knocked out out by Zapdos runs the risk of seeing your opponent snatch the game away from you. Therefore, the matchup generally depends on the pace of the prize trade and whether you manage to setup early enough for them to run out of steam or not.
Malamar Variants – Unfavorable
This matchup is unfavorable for Charizard mainly due to the fact that it needs to hurt itself to use the Ability to accelerate energy and subsequently attack. As a result, most of your Charizards are at 130 HP, which puts them in range of Giratina. Once the Malamar player sets up their board they can pretty much just keep getting out Giratina every time it gets knocked out, so eventually Charizard won’t be able to keep up with it.
Now I would like to present you with this version of Jirachi/Zapdos. The main change in this list compared to the Jirachi/Zapdos decks from the Niigata Champions League format is that Tag Team GX Pokemon were released after the event, and as a result the deck had to make some changes in order to adapt. I personally think this deck is really strong since it is very fast, aggressive, and the changes made give it the slight edge to be able to put up a fight against the Tag Team GX Pokemon. Here’s the list:
The heart and core of this deck, it helps you to fish out the Supporters and key Items you need for Zapdos to be aggressive, and could keep you from dead drawing as well. Four copies of the card are a must, since there is no harm in having access to multiple “Stellar Wish(es)” and you want to have the highest chance to lead with it.
Zapdos is the main attacker of the deck. Its 110 HP makes the Pokémon not so fragile, and the Fighting Resistance never hurts. The attack, “Thunderous Assault” deals 80 damage when Zapdos becomes the Active from the bench, and despite the drawback that it does not apply Weakness, the attack is still strong enough to setup knockouts on GX Pokemon, or even to knockout small Basic Pokemon right away. In addition to that, the attack becomes scarier if you combine it with Choice Band and Electropower, allowing you to hit the right numbers frequently. Since the deck plays a lot of switching cards it shouldn’t be an issue for Zapdos to be going back and forth from the Bench to the Active. It is a very strong attacker in the current format, indeed. Yet, still the card has a two Retreat cost, and in spite of all the switching cards in the deck, you’d still prefer to open Jirachi and conserve your switching cards for later use. You don’t really need a fourth Zapdos since your opponent will be knocking out your other attackers, so generally a Rescue Stretcher does the job better. Therefore, three is the perfect number.
The 1-1 line of Jolteon is actually enough in the deck, since it tends to play the prize trade game and you wouldn’t want to give out too many two prize options to your opponent if possible. Jolteon GX plays a major role in the game towards mid-game on due to the fact that its attack, “Head Bolt” does a flat 110 damage for just two Energies (1 Lightning, 1 Colorless), which is significant because with cards like Choice Band and Electropower, you can potentially score a big knockout that would otherwise be a challenge for Zapdos to accomplish. In addition to that, its GX attack, “Swift Run GX “also deals 110 damage, but you become immune to effects and damage from attacks during the next turn, which often swings the match in your favor. Since the main attacker of the deck is Zapdos, and Jolteon GX is mainly a tech in the deck to create a tie break, you don’t really want to have multiple Jolteon GX in play, therefore 1-1 is enough.
Buzzwole is one of the new additions into the deck with the release of Tag Team; it is mainly in the deck to one-shot Pokemon like Zoroark GX and Pikachu & Zekrom GX with Sledgehammer. With the release of Tag Team GX Pokemon, one of the issues the deck carried was that Tag Team GX Pokemon have such high HP that it actually became difficult for Zapdos to pull off a two-shot, or even a three-shot, since some of the Tag Team decks play some healing cards as well. Therefore, in order to improve those matchups, Buzzwole was teched into the deck to one-shot PikaZek, since it is one of the strongest Tag Team archetypes in the format at the moment. Since the card can get prized, and you really need Buzzwole in the PikaZek matchup to keep up, two is the optimal count of this card.
1 Tapu Koko Prism Star
The card’s Energy acceleration is welcome to setup your attackers on the bench, while also serving as a pseudo-Energy Retriever.
“Let Loose” is still a strong Ability, and it is necessary to use under the right circumstances. Once you Bench a Marshadow it generally sticks there, and since those Bench spaces are vital to this deck it doesn’t really make sense to play more than a single copy.
1 Tapu Koko GX
With the rise of PikaZek in the format Tapu Koko’s value has gone up, since you can ambush your opponent’s PikaZek and other Tag Team GX Pokemon with the “Tapu Thunder GX” attack due to those decks often having large quantities of Energy in play. In addition to this, Tapu Koko GX’s other attack, “Sky-High Claws,” deals 130 damage, which is a nice number to one-shot a lot of the non-GX Pokemon as an added upside. The card requires three energies to attack and it only has 170 HP, plus you wouldn’t want to open to give your opponent the option to take two prizes, but it is still a great card under the right circumstances. One copy of the card is plenty.
1 Mr. Mime
The new Mr. Mime denies your opponent the ability to pick up any of their Pokemon with damage on them. This tech is mainly to prevent your opponent from using Acerola to heal their Pokemon like Zoroark GX, Tag Team GXs tend to do, since they all have a high HP and if you don’t two-shot them then Zapdos eventually runs out of steam. In order to make the process of taking big GX knockouts easier, Mr. Mime was the ideal tech for the deck to achieve this.
Switching cards for Zapdos and they help you to hunt down your targets for the prize trade, so no reason to play less than four. The card has perfect synergy with Zapdos, so for max consistency there are four of them in the deck.
Since the deck has quite a heavy amount of Items, you actually get to burn a decent amount of cards in your hand fairly easily, so Lillie was the ideal draw Supporter in the deck. Personally, I don’t like how it could clog in your hand mid-game, therefore I decided to play three in the deck, however playing four Lillie isn’t a bad choice either, so that’s a personal preference thing.
Mainly a draw Supporter used to refresh your hand when it clogs, but generally that scenario is quite rare due to the fact that Jirachi can search certain cards that you need. Two felt like enough, so I didn’t feel the need to push the Cynthia count further beyond.
Volkner is the main supporter in the deck. With this one card you can search for 1 Lightning Energy and a Switch to make Zapdos instantly ready to go. Volkner even searches for other cards, whether that be an Escape Board, Electropower, Nest Ball, and etc. The card synergy was too good, so I decided to go for max consistency of four so Jirachi can fish it out better as well.
Very simple: it is your damage-modifier card to hit the right number for knockouts.
3 Escape Board
The key card for Jirachi to be able to retreat after “Stellar Wish,” so three seems to be enough.
2 Choice Band
Another damage modifier, and since you already play Electropower and other techs, generally two is enough in a game.
2 Ultra Ball
Ultra Ball is one of the search cards in the deck that allows you to get cards like Tapu Koko GX, Marshadow, and Jolteon GX into your hand. Since it is a card that makes you discard two of your resource cards, and generally it is a limited scenario where you can use It efficiently, I thought that two was fine.
4 Nest Ball
Not much to explain here. It gets your Zapdos, Jirachi, and Eevee into play, thus four is the staple number to start strong from the start.
3 Escape Rope
Escape Rope also forces your opponent to switch their Active, which sometimes can force them to promote their weak Basic Pokemon and you can simply pick on those with Zapdos. Personally, I think this is one of the personal preference parts of the deck as well, so running two Rope and two Switch wouldn’t be a bad idea either. I chose to lean slightly toward Rope a little more, thus why the deck plays three.
As I explained in the Escape Rope section, I chose to lean more toward Escape Rope, so for that reason the list plays one Switch. Making a split or leaning more toward Switch isn’t a bad choice either.
1 Rescue Stretcher
This is simply a recovery card to get your Pokemon back based on your board state. Since your opponent will try race you on the prize trade, I figured there was really no need to have another Stretcher.
1 Beast Ring
One of the tech Items in the deck, which allows you to instantly charge your Buzzwole for Swing Around. The card can be found with Jirachi, so your odds of having Beast Ring on time are quite fair. Since the deck still revolves around Zapdos, and the only Ultra Beast in the deck is Buzzwole, there was no need to add another one. The second Beast Ring would become a dead card, so the single copy is perfect as is.
1 Viridian Forest
The Viridian Forest is there to increase your odds to hit the energy when you need it. Also, since the deck now plays Fighting Energies for Buzzwole, you’re able to search the Fighting Energy with this handy Stadium. The list is tight, so running one copy of it to bump other Stadiums and to search for the Energy for late game is the way to best utilize this card in the deck.
1 Thunder Mountain Prism Star
Thunder Mountain Prism Star is mainly in the deck to ease the cost for Tapu Koko GX and Jolteon GX’s attacks. Be ingable to cut down their Energy cost can create a significant advantage in a game, so I figured it was important to have in the deck.
7-2 Lightning/Fighting Energies
The deck uses low-cost attackers, so you don’t really need to have a heavy count of Energies, and all of your attackers except Buzzwole use Lightning Energies, thus why you only really need two Fighting Energies in the deck to Sledgehammer. The Beast Ring can also search for one Fighting and one Lightning Energy, or two Fighting Energies, and you also play Viridian Forest to make your attachment requirement easier for Buzzwole as well, so the 7-2 Energy split makes the most sense.
Zoroark GX/Lycarnroc GX – Favorable
This matchup is generally favorable mainly due to the fact that Zapdos goes really aggressive from the start to open a prize lead, and since Zapdos is a non-GX Pokémon, they only take one prize, while you take two prizes every time you knockout a Zoroark GX or Lycanroc GX. Furthermore, the deck also has cards like Buzzwole to take two quick prizes with Sledgehammer, and Mr. Mime, which prevents the Zoroark players from picking up their damaged Pokemon with Acerola makes this matchup favorable in general.
Pikachu & Zekrom GX – Even
Despite the tech cards in the deck, this matchup can be considered even due to several factors such as opening hand, list, and even how the player plays through the match. Since both players Zapdos, it really comes down to how the players trade their prizes with Zapdos, and when PikaZek gets promoted and how many energies are on the board when they do, since the PikaZek player needs to be careful about Buzzwoles and Tapu Koko GX while taking the prizes. If you manage to counter their Tag Team GX Pokémon with one of the tech cards then you can gain control of the board and eventually to the point where you close out the game. Of course, once your opponent knows your list, they’ll try to play carefully around the techs so the game really comes down to which player can corner the other player in the long run to maintain their game control/board-state control.
Celebi & Venusaur GX – Unfavorable
Long story short, this matchup is unfavorable in general for the Zapdos player, since the deck plays energy denial, healing, and damage reduction cards. You can try to pick on the Shaymins to disrupt their healing a little bit and snag some prizes, but eventually the Zapdos player will run out of steam, and as a result, you get into a spot where you can’t deal enough damage to overtake the control of the board.
Malamar – Even
Malamar decks are tricky because, generally you can pick on their Inkays early game, however once they evolve into Malamars you’re forced to find an Electropower to take the knockout. If the Malamar player plays a GX Pokémon you can try to trade two for potentially one. Once the Malamar sets up their board it could become tricky when they start attacking with Giratina, so the matchup really comes down to how quickly they can set their board up while the Zapdos player tries to pressure them early. Zapdos is a very fast deck, so often it’ll be hard for Malamar players to get through.
Charizard is a neat card from Team Up, where it can self-accelerate and swing for big knockouts against 230 HP or less GX Pokemon. Since the deck revolves around non-GX attackers, it also has the ability to trade prizes fairly well, and the release of “Stellar Wish” Jirachi was a major help, not just for Charizard, but for many other decks as well. Jirachi/Zapdos is another strong archetype currently finding its way to adapt itself to the Team Up format. Some of the changes and additions in the deck are cards like Buzzwole, Tapu Koko GX, and since many of the Tag Team GX Pokemon have a large amount of HP, the deck needs to find a way to reach the damage output in order to stay strong in the meta. Nonetheless, the deck is still very strong against non-Tag Team GX decks, thus why it can’t be ignored in our current format. Hopefully this article was somewhat helpful or entertaining for you guys! As always, thank you very much for reading this far; I really appreciate it. Until next time, everyone!