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.

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