Hello Some1sPC readers! As we wind down to the end of the season with the North American International Championships fast approaching, these final tournaments can be so crucial to many people getting the last few points they need to finish off their invites to the World Championships in Nashville this August. With only a few tournaments remaining many players can really feel the pressure as the season comes to a close, especially in a format where there is still a lot to explore. We’ve seen the format being mostly dominated by Buzzwole/Lycanroc decks, followed closely by Zoroark/Lycanroc decks. The Malamar decks that saw a lot of hype coming into the format have been overshadowed by these other two decks for the most part.
I think Malamar is just such a powerful card but both of the Malamar decks take hard matchups to any of the Zoroark decks and it seems like the Buzzwole decks that are now playing three or more copies of Buzzwole FLI make that matchup very close as well. There is still a lot of potential with Malamar which I will go in depth with for the first deck in this article and then I’m going to look in depth at an anti-Meta Zoroark/Mismagius deck which I think could be pretty powerful heading into these last few weekends of League Cups and NAIC.
There has been much debate about which version of Malamar is better, Ultra Necrozma with the split Energies or the most straightforward all Psychic Malamar deck which focuses on Dawn Wings Necrozma GX and Necrozma GX. While I do think that Ultra Necrozma versions of the deck have a better Zoroark matchup, I prefer the more streamlined feel of the all Psychic deck, which is what I’m going to be writing about today.
I think we could get away with a four-three line, but I just really prefer the consistency of having four in the deck. You really only need to have two set up most of the time, but I just really like how having four copies of the card makes it that much more likely for us to draw into Malamar when we need them. You’re usually content with getting two-three Inkay in play on your first turn, but I always want to have two Malamar set up on the second turn.
2 Dawn Wings Necrozma
This is our main attacker, Dark Flash for 120 may feel underwhelming, but it is consistent damage that is really easy to pull off reliably on turn two. Of course, Psychic typing and Fighting Resistance are two very good things to have printed on the same card right now and Moon’s Eclipse GX can be a very good way to get ourselves back into the game after falling behind. Having Choice Band in the deck can set us up for some good numbers with Hoopa’s Hyperspace Punch, but we will talk about that later on.
This card makes up for Dawn Wings Necrozma not being able to pick up those one hit knockouts. Prismatic Burst with three Psychic Energy hits for 190 which will KO Ultra Necrozma and with a Choice Band we can KO Pokémon like Golisopod GX and Lycanroc GX. I also like the ability to put a fourth basic Psychic Energy on Necrozma to have the potential of getting an OHKO on a Zoroark GX. Black Ray GX is of course also extremely powerful and can set up easier knockouts later on in the game.
1 Mewtwo GX
This is a card I was actually unsure about when going into testing with this list, but it has proven to be quite good. The main reason it is here is Psystrike GX, which serves two main purposes. One, it can be a fast response to KO a Lycanroc GX with one attack while not needing a Choice Band. Two, Psystike GX hits through all effects on our opponents Pokémon, so it can hit through a Moon’s Eclipse GX in the mirror match. I’ve also found it occasionally useful against Zoroark decks to be able to pick up a KO on a clean Zoroark GX with a Choice Band in certain situations. Full Burst and Super Absorption are also very good attacks being able to hit for 30 on turn one can be really good to set up numbers later on and Super Absorption is very good against the Buzzwole decks to heal off Jet Punch damage and can also be good against Greninja.
There are so many different one prize attacking options for this deck to choose from, but I ultimately settled on Hoopa. I’ve tested this deck with Mewtwo Promo, Dawn Wings Necrozma Promo, Mimikyu and Mew FCO but Hoopa was the one that came out on top for me. Hyperspace Punch places 20 damage on two of our opponents Pokémon for one Energy. This can set us up for so many different numbers later on in the game. 20 damage on a Lele means we can Dark Flash with a Choice Band for a KO, 20 on a Baby Buzzwole or a Buzzwole GX means we can KO with a Super Absorption on Mewtwo GX later. 20 damage on a Zoroark means that Necrozma GX can pick up the KO with a three Energy Prismatic Burst with a Choice Band, the list goes on and on. Portal Strike is also a very good one prize attacking option that can KO two prize, Psychic weak Pokémon. Zoroark decks can’t easily KO Hoopa since it has 130 HP and Portal Strike can KO a Zoroark that has 100 damage on it from an earlier Black Ray GX.
2 Tapu Lele GX
The main function of Tapu Lele is to be a support Pokémon that can grab us a Supporter when we need it, but both of its attacks can be very useful in this deck. Tapu Cure GX is always something to keep in mind as a GX attack option at some point. Energy Drive can easily get to high numbers when combined with Malamars Psychic Recharge. I’ve specifically found myself using Lele as an attacker against Zoroark decks and in Malamar mirrors, but we will get to that in the matchups section below.
This has been a popular card in most DWN focused Malamar decks as an attacker against Zoroark GX decks but I personally dislike it. It very easily returns KO’d by a Riotous Beating with a Choice Band and I feel like you can get more value out of cards like Hoopa and Necrozma GX which can set up KO’s later on and are not immediately KO’d in return without them putting a Mew EX into play.
1 Brigette, 1 Lillie
Two different turn one Supporters leaves us with multiple options. I originally opted not to play any copies of Brigette but have since had my mind changed and realized that there are opening hands that can get a lot of value out of Brigette. With four Ultra Ball and four Mysterious Treasure it can also be really easy to pull of turns where we can get two-three Inkay in play naturally, then Lillie for a lot of cards. Lillie is of course also another draw out after an N later on in the game.
Having eight search cards in this deck just makes everything feel so consistent and so smooth. Of course, discarding Energy is also extremely important with this deck, so these eight cards also serve that purpose.
I think we could certainly see an uptick in Garbodor decks heading into NAIC and having a high Field Blower count is extremely important against Garbotoxin. Of course, Parallel City is also really annoying to deal with, so having three Blower helps with that as well.
2 Max Potion
This is the main thing that sets my list apart from others. Max Potion has just had so many uses for me in testing. It’s useful against Zoroark decks when they’re not one hitting Hoopa, Mewtwo, or Necrozma, it’s good in the mirror to heal off opposing Dark Flash damage and it’s good against Buzzwole as well to heal off any spread damage.
It seems that most lists have opted to not include any copies of this card, which I can understand since a lot of the time a damage modifier isn’t needed, but as I have already detailed above, there are a lot of different numbers where Choice Band allows us to clean up KOs or set up knockouts. Ryan Moorehouse just got Top 4 at Sheffield Regionals with Fighting Fury Belt in his DWN Malamar deck and while I do like that card better against Buzzwole specifically, I think that Choice Band just allows for better math in other matchups.
0 Max Elixir
This is a card I’ve really never felt the need for. While it can be nice to try and pull of a turn one attack or to try and get another Energy in play while having less Malamar out, there are just other cards I would rather make sure I have space for.
The lack of Ability based draw has hurt in the past so I would love to include an Oranguru in the list, but bench space gets tight very fast and with Parallel City still being so popular I’ve just opted not to include this card.
The main reason I would want to play this card is to make it harder for our opponent to play it on us. We can work around Parallel and we do have the three Blower to get rid of it, so I don’t think it is necessary for us to play our own copy but there are times where it would have been nice.
This card is totally a Meta call as Greninja is extremely unfavorable without it, but with it in combination with Mewtwo GX, the matchup becomes very favorable.
Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX – Favorable
The matchup is still close, but I think if you approach it correctly and use Hoopa at the right times the matchup is just fine. If they get a fast Lycanroc, Choice Band can allow for a Moon’s Eclipse GX to hopefully buy us a turn. I also think there is merit to chasing after a Diancie Prism Star if you have the chance to on turn two. This makes it much harder for Swing Around to KO a Dawn Wings later on in the game.
Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX – Even to Slightly Unfavorable
This is a hard matchup regardless of how you look at it. There are two ways to try and map out your six prizes in my mind. One route is taking two Prizes with Psystrike GX or Moon’s Eclipse GX on Lycanroc, taking two prizes with a Prismatic Burst and then two prizes on a Lele that has 20 Damage on it from Hyperspace Punch earlier. This strategy can go downhill if our opponent is able to Parallel away their own Tapu Lele and then finding the last two prizes can require trying to Power Up a second Prismatic Burst. Another option is dependent upon how our opponent sets up. If they have four-five GX Pokémon in play on turn two or three I think going for a Black Ray GX and attacking with Hoopa and Lele to win the game is a good strategy. Hoopa can take two prizes on any GX with 100 damage on it and Lele can KO a Zoroark that has a DCE on it with two Energy of our own and a Choice Band. I would prefer to attack with Lele in this instance since it can’t be easily KO’d since most lists have cut Professor Kukui. They can of course always Dangerous Rogue but a second Lele can usually come in to return the KO since in this scenario the Lycanroc would have 100 damage on it already.
Both of these lines of play require us to be reactive to how our opponent approaches the game and if they are able to go about things a different way, the matchup can get pretty shaky.
Ultra Necrozma GX/Malamar – Even
I think in general our consistency can give us an edge in this matchup, but if they can set up well the matchup does get a little harder. Hoopa dealing 20 to a Tapu Lele can be the key to our victory here. If we are able to Hyperspace Punch twice putting 40 damage on an Ultra Necrozma GX it can be KO’d by a Dark Flash for 150.
Dawn Wings Necrozma GX/Malamar – Slightly Favored
I have found that the Max Potions can actually give us an edge in the mirror match. Being able to heal off their Dark Flash damage and letting our damage stick can allow us to gain the advantage. Something I think is good is using Dark Flash for 150 and then Hyperspace Punching the active for 50 with a Choice Band to get a two prize KO with Hoopa, while at the same time putting that important 20 damage on a Lele.
Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX – Slightly Unfavored
I think this matchup can go similarly to the Zoroark/Lycanroc matchup, but the difference here is that Zoropods are much more low maintenance being able to attack for one Energy and many lists run healing cards like Acerola and Max Potion which makes our Black Ray strategy much much weaker.
Buzzwole GX/Garbodor – Favorable
This matchup is very favorable for us. We have multiple Field Blower to get rid of the Tool on Garbotoxin and Hoopa’s Hyperspace Punch can set up Mewtwo GX to Super Absorption for KO’s.
Greninja – Unfavorable
Without Tina Promo this matchup is just bad. Including Tina swings the matchup back into our favor, but the decision to include just comes down to a Meta call. Do you expect to see Greninja or not? This is much easier to answer at a League Cup than it is at something like NAIC but I could absolutely see myself adding this card back in specifically for this matchup.
I think there is still a lot of potential with Malamar decks even though it hasn’t seen the same level of success as Buzzwole and Zororoc so far in this format. After Sheffield Regionals this weekend, I spent a lot of time thinking about ways to counter the Meta we have experienced so far. Zoroark is very good against the Malamar decks but both Zoropod and Zororoc took unfavorable matchups to Buzzroc. So I looked for a partner that I thought could help the Buzzwole matchups. I still think that Zoroark GX/Espeon GX that I wrote about a few articles ago can still do pretty well but I wanted a Psychic partner that could be useful in Zoroark mirrors too and then I decided on Mismagius.
- 4 Zorua
- 4 Zoroark GX
- 4 Misdreavus
- 3 Mismagius
- 1 Shaymin SHL
- 1 Mew EX
- 1 Kartana GX
- 3 Tapu Lele GX
- 4 Double Colorless Energy
- 3 Unit Energy LPM
- 1 Counter Energy
4-4 Zoroark GX
This deck is a Zoroark deck at its core but there are many different tools that give us responses to different matchup and scenarios. Zoroark is still a consistent attacker and the Trade Ability can allow us to draw into all the different pieces we have.
With a format so reliant on Special Energy, Chaos Wheel can completely lock certain decks out of the game. For example, Seb’s Zoroark Lycanroc deck that just won in Sheffield played nothing but Special Energy, so a turn two Chaos Wheel could literally just win the game for us. Chaos Wheel is also really good against Buzzwole decks. Not only do we hit for Psychic Weakness but we also have Fighting Resistance, meaning attacks like Jet Punch and Sledgehammer will only deal 10 damage since Strong Energy can’t be attached. Even though we only have one copy of Parallel City, Chaos Wheel can lock it into place forcing a Field Blower in order to get rid of it. Dark Arts is also a useful second attack which we can use to pick up easy KOs on Psychic Weak Pokémon like Buzzwole and Necrozma GX.
1 Shaymin SHL
A fast Lycanroc can still be very hard to deal with, so having Shaymin and the Counter Energy are necessary to provide a quick response. Shaymin is also good against Lapras which is a deck that has started to see a bit of play this format.
1 Kartana GX
This card just fits so well into our deck. Slice Off is really important when our opponent is able to get a Special Energy in play before our Chaos Wheel and Blade GX is an attack that is almost always useful. I played a Kartana GX in my Counter Zoroark deck in Charlotte and I used it way more than I thought I would.
1 Mew EX
I think this is still important to have as a response to an aggressive Buzzwole. You can also use Versatile to copy Chaos Wheel to keep a Mismagius in play a little longer.
3 Tapu Lele
Once again, Tapu Lele can be a valuable attacker at times. We can actually use Tapu Cure GX since we play Unit Energy, which can be pretty useful in Zoroark mirrors.
I used to be very wary of including Mallow in Zoroark decks. Now it has become one of my favorite cards and I think it is so important to pull off certain combos. We absolutely need to be able to pull off Shaymin + Counter Energy against Lycanroc decks and it’s also important to find Mew EX + DCE if we need to respond to a Buzzwole. Whatever we need in a certain situation, Mallow can easily find for us.
1 Enhanced Hammer
This is just another way in addition to Kartana GX to remove Special Energy that comes into play before we can get a Chaos Wheel off. We can also easily find it when we need to with Mallow.
I think this is really important for the Zoroark Mirrors, specifically Zoropod. The matchup is really bad if they play it and we don’t, but having access to this healing card puts us back on an even footing.
1 Max Potion
I think an extra healing card outside of Acerola would be really nice, but space is the issue and our consistency has already been cut a little low.
A third N, second Cynthia, fourth Guzma and a fourth Brigette are all cards I would love to include. I would say this list is at the bare minimum level of consistency but all we really need is Brigette on turn one and a Zoroark on turn two and we are normally able to get things rolling from there. So while the counts seem low, I think they are what they need to be.
This is something I had toyed around with initially but decided to cut. The Twisted Incantation Ability works as a “one way N” only on our opponent and provides some late-game disruption that can be very useful. Using Guzma or Acerola + Twisted Incantation can be the comeback play we need to get us out of certain scenarios.
I think one-two copies of this card would be so good in here since it is an out to a Lele turn one, it can search out Mew EX and it can find our whole Mismagius line. I would potentially consider cutting a Lele for one copy of this card.
I actually think this card has some merit in this format in general. Being able to get around Shadow Stitching to get Trade back online is huge and also being able to Ranger around Moon’s Eclipse GX can be a huge swing our opponent was not expecting.
Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX – Favorable
Shaymin SHL, Mew EX and Mismagius all give us the outs we need in this matchup. Chaos Wheel at the beginning of the game prevents Special Energy attachments, forcing Basic Energy to come out early, meaningless Energy for Elixirs and Beast Rings later on. Mismagius’s Fighting Resistance should provide us with time to set up additional attackers so we can get a second Mismagius powered up to use Dark Arts on a Baby Buzzwole.
Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX – Favorable
If the opponent plays all Special Energy an early Chaos Wheel should wrap it up for us, provided we find our Enhanced Hammer or Kartana to remove any Special Energy attached before we attack. Going second is actually pretty tough in this matchup since that gives our opponent two turns to get Special Energy in play.
Ultra Necrozma GX/Malamar – Even
Mismagius won’t do too much for us here. Zoroark is going to have to be the main attacker and I think generally Zoroark decks should come out on top in this matchup. Our list can be a little clunkier than other Zoroarks but Ultra Necrozma can also have its own consistency issues.
Dawn Wings Necrozma GX/Malamar – Favorable
We can use Mew EX to easily KO a Necrozma GX or Mewtwo GX and we can even power up a Dark Arts to be a one prize swing for us. Of course, Zoroark GX is very good for applying early pressure to Malamars and can easily knockout Dawn Wings Necrozma GX.
Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX – Even
Since this Zoroark deck does play some basic Energy, Chaos Wheel doesn’t outright win the matchup but it is still very good. If we can Chaos Wheel with the damage reducing side facing our opponent, First Impression can only hit for 100 (unless they find a Field Blower) and Chaos Wheel for 60 onto a Golisopod sets up good numbers to hit with Zoroark GX for 150.
Buzzwole GX/Garbodor -Favorable
A pretty cool interaction is being able to Blower + Chaos Wheel in the same turn so that our opponent can’t attach a Tool to Garbotoxin, giving us free reign of our Abilities. Dark Arts can also pick up KO’s on a Buzzwole GX pretty easily if we are able to get it set up.
Greninja – Unfavorable
Greninja is just bad for Zoroark decks in general. We could play the Tina Promo to make it a little better, but I think just relying on our consistency winning out over their clunkiness can be enough to get you by. Enhanced Hammer can be huge to get rid of a crucial Splash Energy. I would almost rather have Pokémon Ranger to be able to Trade as opposed to Tina, which can be hard to find when we need it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about two decks that I think are currently really solid in this format. There is still a lot of time between now and NAIC, so there is still a lot of room for shifts in the Meta but I’ve really enjoyed playing these two decks and I think they could be great plays for the upcoming tournaments! Good luck to everyone at North American Internationals and I’m looking forward to playing again!