Hey, everyone! It’s been a while since my last article but now that I have officially graduated from college I will be focusing on spending the next few months preparing for NAIC and the World Championships. There will be an exciting new set and a rotation before we can worry about Worlds, and because of that I am much more focused on NAIC at the moment. I have been testing a lot of different decks and find this format to be extremely fun and one of the best formats we’ve had in a very long time. It is diverse enough so that you get to play what you want but it is also very clear what the best decks in the format are. First, let’s talk a little bit about what those best decks are.
Reshiram & Charizard-GX is clearly the best deck in the format right now. I don’t care if you like the Green’s version or the Ability version, we will lump them together for right now. The card is amazing and is easily dominating the format right now. I personally like the Green’s version better, but I think that both versions deserved to be clumped together as the best deck in format; the mirror match between the two is just too close to consider one better than another. The strength of this deck comes from Welder, which is just an extremely good card that can be used with almost anything. This is why we are seeing it played in so many other decks just as an engine to make the deck flow better. The deck I will be talking about today is one of those such decks not named ReshiZard, that uses Welder to accelerate Energy, while also drawing cards to make the deck more consistent.
PikaRom is still one of the best decks in this format. When the format started, PikaRom lost some popularity because of how badly Power Plant hurts the deck, but when ReshiZard started dominating it was very hard for anything to fit Power Plant into their decks because it did not help against the BDIF–it even hurt one of the versions by shutting down Lele-GX and Dedenne-GX. PikaRom gained a lot of tools that it could use to help explode Energy onto the field, namely Dedenne-GX and Electromagnetic Radar, which are both exceptional cards for this deck. I do think PikaRom still has a bad matchup against ReshiZard, but it’s good enough that it still can win games here and there. It also has a very good matchup against everyone that is trying to beat ReshiZard with different types of decks. This deck was the best deck before Unbroken Bonds and it is still an extremely strong deck right now. It has seen a rise in popularity over the last couple of weeks, but everyone is going for straight consistency and not trying to mess around with any sort of speed or techs, which I think is the correct way to play the deck.
Blacephalon-GX is a deck that always just randomly pops up at events and takes them down, but I have never considered it to be the best deck in format. I don’t see this as a top tier deck in the current Meta, but it’s one you should be able to beat if you have hopes of winning a major tournament. This deck thrives when played into a field of GX and Tag Team decks, which is all anyone is playing right now. PikaRom was a very bad matchup for this deck, but thanks to the decrease in play that we saw they did not have to worry about that anymore. With new additions like Welder they no longer are 100% reliant on the use of Beast Ring and can spew Energy on the field with ease. This was a huge addition to a deck that requires a lot of Energy on the field, which is why we saw this deck take down the last Regional. When it is well positioned in an event it will dominate that event.
Zap Beasts is an extremely good deck still in my opinion, even if we have not seen as much of it being played. When formats change it brings up older decks that will start to do well again, and that is what’s happening here. This deck was always a top tier deck and now is no exception. With people playing heavy baby Volcanion in their ReshiZard decks it made it very hard for Zap Beasts to win events, but now that people are starting to change their lists and Volcanion is not seeing as much use in these decks it gives Zap Beasts a chance to come up and dominate tournaments moving forward. It is a deck that does not need a lot to get the job done, and because of that it is always a threat. With new tools like Kartana it can see success again when the format is right.
Those are all the top decks in my opinion. I know it is unusual to not see Zoroark in this list but I think that Zoroark has to try and counter too many deck in order to be good right now. It also has turned into one of the less consistent decks of the format, losing to “Let Loose” a lot of the time because of the lack of Jirachi and Supporters that the deck plays. Persian-GX does help the deck a lot, but I don’t think that’s enough to make the deck good. The format is too diverse and too many cards are needed in order to keep up with that for Zoroark to be considered a top deck of the format.
Okay, now that we have had a break down of what I think the format is looking like, I will tell you a little bit about the decks that I would consider playing for NAIC, followed by the deck that I am going to be playing for NAIC myself. Most of you know that I have never loved playing the best deck in the format and I like to play something a little different, and this time is no exception. The decks I would consider playing for NAIC are QuagNag/BuzzMosa and baby Blacephalon. I think both are very solid decks that can do well in a Meta if you hit the right matchups. I would expect a few of each of these to make Day 2, and I could even see it winning the tournament. I have been testing both a lot and feel like finding the right 60 cards is completely doable. I am going to be talking about the deck that I think is the best rogue deck in the format and one that is so unbelievably fun to play (the deck even made Day 2 at the last Regional): Blissey.
Blissey is a coin flipping deck that relies around putting a lot of Energy onto your Blissey to maximize how many coins you can flip and increase your chances of getting a knockout on your opponent’s Pokémon. The catch to this deck is trying to figure out what is the correct amount of Energy to put on your Pokémon. You don’t want too many because you need to make sure that you have multiple Blissey ready to go, but if you only have a few then you do not have the odds to get the knockout on high-HP Tag Team GXs. Blissey has been out since Lost Thunder but it has not been a very good deck. I tried it in the past with Malamar, as most people did, but it required too much to set up and was not very good. Now the entire deck is new and the tools that we got from Unbroken Bond make it more consistent and more powerful than it ever was previously. The first of the two cards we got in this set was Welder. Like I said earlier this card is amazing, and I think it is the best card in the set just because of how powerful and versatile it is, especially for a deck that just wants to attach a ton of Energy onto their Pokémon to attack for a lot of damage like Blissey. Playing this card allows us to fully charge up a Blissey and attack for big damage, which is why it is so important to play it. The second card is Triple Acceleration Energy. This reprint of the old Boost Energy (which was also played with Blissey) is amazing in this deck. We get to flip a coin for each Energy on Blissey via the attack, and this one card is three extra coin-flips and has the potential for 240 extra damage if everything goes well for us. This card also makes it so that we can use Welder and then use this as our manual attachment for turn and now a Blissey that did not have any Energy is suddenly attacking with five and can get the knockout relatively easily on anything. These two cards completely changed the direction this deck was trying to go in. Both on their own are extremely powerful, but when you’re able to combine both in the same turn you’ll present an incredibly imposing board state for your opponent to handle.
Now that we have a better engine than Malamar we also gain a lot more Bench space for the deck. Instead of needing three Malamar out we can use that Bench space to play Jirachi to help consistency, which was always a big issue for the deck. Thanks to Jirachi we have that pivot Pokémon that will be able to come up and always find us something to keep our engine flowing well. The other card that we really want Bench space for is Victini. This card allows us to re-flip all the coins we just flipped for an attack, which makes it so that if we did not get the knockout we are able to give it another shot. This is an extremely powerful Ability for this deck. I am not a statistician, but it always seems better to have more chances of flipping the right number of heads. This was a card that was very difficult to get out in the Malamar deck because we just did not have the Bench space to do it. The engine for Blissey is much better right now and has been a very good deck for me in testing.
So, why Blissey? It’s a question that I am sure a few of you are asking. There are a few non-GX decks right now that I think are good like I said up above, but I think that Blissey is the best-positioned deck among them because it has a good matchup against all those other one-prize attacker decks. We win almost every prize trade because Blissey has 160-HP, which is HUGE for a non-GX. QuagNag will not be able to trade effectively because we are able to knock them out every turn, and Zap Beasts will have a hard time getting knockouts on 160-HP–it’s hard enough for them to knockout 120-HP baby Volcanion. We also have the bonus of being able to one-shot big Tag Teams, much like how baby Blacephalon can. We are not restricted to only being able to knockout big-HP Pokémon thanks to Weakness; we just need to flip a few heads to take out anything. On top of that, we do not have to ever worry about Zoroark being able to one-shot us like the other baby attacker decks do. The 160-HP and the ability to one-shot the Pokémon with the biggest HP are the two reasons that I believe this deck is the best non-GX deck in the format. This deck is also able to handle just about any decks that come up because we are not trying to counter the Meta by playing a deck that takes knockouts through Weakness, since we just have good matchups against a lot of the decks.
Now for the moment you all have been waiting for: the decklist. This list is a lot like the one that got Day 2 in Madison, but I have changed cards because I believe that his list was not perfected yet. It was a good baseline, but there are some things we can be doing better to make the deck just a little bit more consistent instead of just hoping we run hot the entire day.
This card is extremely good in this deck. It was built for decks that need to flip coins and we’ll be flipping a lot of them. We were unable to play this card in the Malamar version because of Bench space and that is one of the main reasons the deck was not working very well. You don’t need to get Victini out extremely early in the game however, since you are only going to want it out when you start attacking. Usually, you want to get a Jirachi in the Active and at least two Chansey out before you get the Victini. The other thing that you should know about this card is that using the Ability is optional, but if you are not getting the knockout then you may want to re-flip. There is the off chance that you re-flip and fail to get any heads, but that is a risk worth taking because you have the same chance to get the knockout. We are not playing this deck so that we can two-shot things, instead we want to always go big and try for the knockout.
This is obviously the entire point of the deck and I talked about it a little bit already, but I wanted to add something. I talked earlier about the perfect number of Energy that should be attached to Blissey, and for the most part that’s five, and we can get to that number very easily thanks to Triple Acceleration Energy and Welder. The only time that you want more is if you moved Energy with Wishful Baton and you are up against one of the big ReshiZard or Eevee & Snorlax-GX Tag Teams where you’re going to want to add a couple more Energy to secure the knockout. The other thing to keep in mind is during the first couple turns of the game you want to spread the Energy around as much as possible so that you do not have to worry about a Guzma destroying your whole board. I like to Welder to one Chansey and then attach my Energy for turn to another one. This makes it hard for my opponent to successfully Guzma to crippling effect. Keeping Energy on the field is an important part to our game plan.
I think people forget about this card a lot right now when they are trying to make decks consistent. I understand that we are playing a one-prize deck and putting down a GX is not something that we want to do, but dead drawing is also not something that I want to do. We lose more games from not having a Supporter than we would by them knocking out our Tapu Lele, and they often won’t have the time to go after the Lele since they must target down the Energy or else the Blissey go out of control and completely run over everything in their path. Lele is also an excellent attacker in this deck, since we can Welder onto it to charge it up very quickly. There were times that I would Wishful Baton to the Lele and then Welder to it to score a big knockout.
1 Fiery Flint
This was at two before, but I found out that after you use the first one it is the worst card in your deck since it is hard to find something you want to discard. I cut it down to one because the first one is amazing to use and is always good. The advantage to playing two is that we can find them easier, but because we are playing Jirachi it makes it easy to find that card right away. It is not needed for our engine to work but it is good when we see the card. If you happen to run across it in your games you will be very happy, but if you don’t see it at all you will never say, “I lost because I couldn’t find Fiery Flint.”
2 Choice Band
I believe that if the list played two Choice Bands at Madison it would’ve had a much higher chance of winning the tournament. This card is needed to help your odds of winning, since it changes the numbers significantly against ReshiZard. Instead of needing four heads like you normally would, you only need to flip three if you have the Choice Band. That significantly increases your chances of getting knockouts and that is exactly what we are looking for. There have been times when luck was on my side and I just attached a Triple Acceleration Energy to my Blissey with a Choice Band and hoped for the best, but that option is not possible without Choice Band. It also makes it so the 170-HP, 180-HP, and 190-HP GXs that run around here and there will only need two heads to get the knockout on those. If there is ever a card that makes it so you need less heads it should be in this deck. That is why I believe two Choice Band is crucial to our game plan. In matchups where they are worthless, we can discard them easily without much worry.
I personally do not like this card in this deck. It is an extremely powerful card and I can understand wanting to drop it down during the end of the game and using Welder to charge it up in one turn to take a couple knockouts and swing the game, however that just does not happen all that often. A lot of the time you will start it and it just feels bad to have it in the Active to give up three prizes. If you do not start it you need to find it on the turn that you want it, which is just not very easy to do. The upside to playing this card just was not worth the potential of giving up three prizes, especially with so many people trying to play Water to counter this card. We could potentially lose a good matchup just because we wanted to be playing a big Tag Team. The same goes for Eevee & Snorlax-GX even though I think that one would be better.
Third Fire Crystal
I love this card in the deck because it allows us to discard Fire Energy without being too worried about running out. When it comes down to late game and we are trying to get the last one or two prizes, the extra Energy comes in handy, especially if we have been using Heat Factory the entire game. You must be very careful throughout the game with your Fire Energy because we only play nine and two Fire Crystal, but if we have the third Crystal it gets rid of that worry altogether. I have messed around with taking out the Tapu Lele for the Fire Crystal and I do not hate it but something about Lele just feels better to me.
We are playing the Jirachi engine, which means Switch is an extremely good card for it. There are a lot of times when I will not be able to attack for a turn just because I cannot get the Jirachi out of the Active. It is a little bit unfortunate, but we are not a deck that cares too much about that. We really do not care how long we set up because all that does is allow us to get more Energy on the field, however another Switch would make it much easier for us to use Jirachi. The third Escape Board is another option for this deck, but I do not think that it is as good as Switch just because Absol is starting to see much more play right now.
Second Double Colorless Energy
We do not have room to play very many of these because Triple Acceleration Energy is just a better card for us, but this is a better Energy to attach than a Fire Energy, though. Originally, the list played eight Fire and two Double Colorless Energy, but we need to have Fire Energy in our hand in order to Welder and Double Colorless Energy does not help us in a situation like that. After the first couple turns we only use our Energy attachment for Triple Acceleration Energy and do not have any chances to attach Double Colorless Energy, which is why there is such a low count of them. Two is ideal but it is similar to Fiery Flint where if you have it, it ends up being amazing but if you do not you do not miss it too much.
This is the last card that would be decent in this deck. I have found that PikaRom is not a bad matchup even if we do not play Mew, which is why I took it out of the deck. It is only for PikaRom because spread does not hurt us all that much thanks to being a Stage 1 deck. PikaRom has their GX attack, which normally would be a huge burden for us. They cannot charge it up in one turn however, which means we will always get a chance to knock it out before they get to use the GX attack. They will try to charge up the Active PikaRom with “Full Blitz” and then we get a chance to flip three heads and knock it out. This is easy for us to do because we are able to attach five Energy per turn (not to mention that if they do not get the Electropower when they “Full Blitz” they don’t even knockout the Blissey). A lot of the time, PikaRom is too scared to put six Energy onto a PikaRom because of the threat we have of being able to knock it out so easily. If they do that and we knock them out they do not have any chance of winning the game because they have most likely already used Koko Prism Star anyway. It is for those reasons that I took out the Mew from this deck to fit in a couple other cards that I wanted.
1-2 or 2-2 Salazzle Engine
Another idea that came to mind was dropping the Jirachi, Escape Board, and Switch Engine and commit to a Salazzle draw line. This gives us room for 3rd Crystal and gives us a new level of consistency when we’re able to have a Blissey survive. Salazzle serves a few purposes which is giving us a new draw engine and also removing Jirachi out of the deck as early game quick prizes opponents can take off Guzma. Salazzle with 3 Fire Crystal also gives us a streamlined version of quickly discarding fire then putting them onto Blissey with Welders.
This deck is the best deck in the format right now but we have a very good matchup against it. We are a little bit slower then them, but that really does not matter because we are able to win the game in two turns by knocking out two Tag Teams. We might have a slower start than them, and they will get a few knockouts but that will not be an issue if we focus on setting up. You want your Choice Bands in the matchup to make it so that you only need three heads to get the knockouts on their Eevee & Snorlax Tag Team or their ReshiZard. This is one of the matchups where if you can get six or seven Energy onto the Blissey you are going to want to do that. You want to make sure that you still have an Energy or two on another Blissey, but because we need a few heads you do not want to risk having a lower amount of Energy and potentially whiffing the knockout. Most of the time during the end of the game they will try to take their last couple prizes with a Volcanion or a non-Tag Team that they are playing, which is where the Guzma comes in handy. You just need to bring up a GX and you will be able to win the game easily. Guzma is one of those cards that we do not use often but having it is nice so that our opponents cannot try to steal the game from us by keeping their GXs on their bench. Overall, this is a very good matchup for us because we are a one-prize-attacking deck that is able to one-shot their big Tag Teams very easily.
It is a little bit harder to beat PikaRom but it is still very favorable for us for the same reasons as the ReshiZard matchup. I talked a little bit about it in the section where I talk about Mew in the deck, but I will go over a couple extra details here. They must try and take a few prizes with Zapdos, but even that is hard for them because they will need an Electropower just to knock out a Chansey and that’s one less that they’ll have in the end of the game. Once we get out a Blissey it is hard for them to effectively use Zapdos anymore and they’re forced to switch to PikaRom. Once they do that we can get very quick and efficient knockouts for higher counts of prizes. We only need three heads to take a knockout because of the 240-HP on PikaRom, and we can often accomplish this very easily. Most of the time you will be knocking out a Zapdos or two, one PikaRom and then some sort of GX that they have out; Dedenne-GX are easy prizes because they only require two heads to get the knockout.
This is an extremely easy match for us. They need four Energy just to knock out one Blissey, which already is a lot for them and we only need two heads if we have a Choice Band to get the knockout on them. We are not much slower than them and will be able to get knockouts early on in the game. They might try and “Bursting Burn” us to get that Burn damage and Confuse us so that we cannot attack but that does not work against Blissey because of its Ability making it so that we can get rid of a Special Condition from our Active Pokémon once per turn, which is just a little bit of salt in the wound for Blacephalon to have to deal with. We are completely unaffected by any sort of Confusion strategies they want to try. They also will run out of Energy much faster against us than against a deck where they only need to discard three to get one prize like they do against Zapdos. Overall, this is a very easy match p for us to win.
This is also a very good matchup. Just like I talked about with the PikaRom matchup, Zapdos does not get to take very easy prizes during the game. They need an Electropower just to knock out one of our Chansey. They will try to do this, but once we get our Blissey up they can only get a knockout on the “Sledgehammer” turn. We will be able to trade one Blissey effectively for two prizes every single time and that makes it so it is a prize trade they are unable to win. If we have a very slow start and they are able to get some prizes on multiple Jirachi early game then it ends up being a little bit in their favor, but for the most part we will be able to set up easily. The other benefit to this match is that we only need two heads in order to get the knockout on their entire deck, which means we do not need to have Victini out as often as we would against GX decks. It still will come in handy, but we have to remember that it will always be an easy prize for our opponent to take with Zapdos when they run out of Electropower.
It is impossible for Zoroark to one-shot us, which is why this is such a good matchup. They can deal 140 if they Kukui but we have 160-HP, which makes it very hard for them to keep up with us. They no longer are playing Lycanroc or any sort of Fighting because they have to play Water attackers in order to counter all of the Fire decks that are running around, which means we are not worried about getting one-shot. The Silvally version is a little bit different because they run the Fighting Memory and we can get one-shot easily but then it is just a prize trade. We still only need three heads to knockout a Silvally and we will be trading one prize for two just about every time. I do not think Zoroark is much of a threat, but having a game plan against it that works is always an important thing when you are going into a tournament as big as NAIC will be.
These are the decks that I believe will be the most popular decks in the room and I think we have a very good matchup against all of them. Blissey is a little bit of a risk to play because it has not been proven on a big scale yet, but I think because of that it can be the deck to take down NAIC. I would not play Blissey if you need to get points to get your Worlds invite. If you need that invite, then you should play one of the decks I talked about above. I do think that if you have your invite and want to take a risk to win the tournament Blissey is the correct deck for you. Not only is it an extremely strong and well-positioned deck right now, but it is also the most fun I have had playing a deck in a while. I hope that everyone has been able to finish off the season strong and got their invite, but if you are going to NAIC and need a few extra points I wish you the best of luck to get those last couple that you need. I will be rooting for you! I am lucky enough to have gotten my invite and am able to play the risky, yet extremely fun Blissey at NAIC. I look forward to seeing all of you there, and hopefully one of the Some1sPC team or readers will be able to take down the event!