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Daniel Altavilla

PikaRom: Not BDIF But Still OP?!

Daniel goes over two different ways to play PikaRom in Standard, and why it is still winning events even when it clearly isn't the best deck.

09/25/2019 by Daniel Altavilla

Whaddup 60Cards readers, let me go ahead and start this article off by saying I do not think  Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 184) is the best deck in the format by any means. PikaRom boasts being the most consistent deck in the format, which is definitely the main reason to play it at any given event, but it isn’t particularly full of options and chooses to just swing - hard. A deck like this should be respected either way because there are going to be games where you slip up for a single turn and PikaRom takes advantage of you. More on this in the section of this article dedicated toward discussing the deck in depth, but for now let’s get into some of the format’s changes that come along with Hidden Fates and some of what I think PikaRom can do to combat these crazy decks. 

 

The first thing worth mentioning is that  Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71) gets a pretty strong buff in the new Charizard-GX from Hidden Fates. This Charizard-GX is going to allow MewMew to take a big KO way easier which is a huge boon for the deck in the Tag Team matchups. MewMew was already making short work of PikaRom, but I think I’ve found a way to play Pika that can utilize a specific comeback strategy to pull out the W against some of the decks that normally outspeed you. The next thing that we must discuss is the success the deck saw over the weekend at the Melbourne Regional Championship, where Kaiwen Cabbabe was able to pilot the deck to a 1st place victory. Kaiwen’s version of the deck utilizes the oppression of  Power Plant (UBO; 183)Reset Stamp (UB; 206) to try and buy you at least a single extra turn to pull the game out. This was a rewarding strategy in a room filled with MewMew and Ability Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 217) , and was probably even pretty good against mirror. Kaiwen also ran a  Sigilyph GX (LT; 202) for mirror to force the opponent to miss t1 Full Blitz, so this list is really aiming to give PikaRom a chance at comeback potential. I thought I’d capitalize a bit on this and extend it further, which I will go over later. 

 The Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing Pikarom 

PikaRom comes with plenty of packed-in consistency.  Lillie (SUM; 147) as your turn one Supporter,  Volkner (UPR; 135) to find whatever you need whenever, Dedenne-GX and Electromagnetic Radar (UBO; 230) , even  Jirachi (TM; 99) can be used in variants of the deck! Pika has the most consistency in Standard right now and the biggest advantage of that is how much room the deck still has. PikaRom is the deck most naturally capable of consistency, not having to go out of it’s way to add combo consistency cards just to get the deck to work. What I mean by combo consistency is  Professor Elm's Lecture (LT; 188) with quad Pokémon Communication (BLW; 99) , quad  Cherish Ball (UB; 250) to use your Communication,  Green's Exploration (UBO; 209) to find your Welder (UBO; 214) , and Acro Bikes everywhere! This all means that decks have to burn deck slots to combo their consistency cards. Pika is the kind of deck that runs these consistency cards but doesn’t need any combo with them necessarily outside of Communications which you have Volkner for anyway. 

 

This is a huge boon for the deck because it just has an evolutionary advantage of being the only deck that has everything going for it right now. The extra room in the deck is going to be huge because you can play whatever you want. You can run even more consistency through Jirachi/ Order Pad (UPR; 131) / Acro Bike (CLS; 178) , you can run a teched out PikaRom list with  Malamar (FLI; 51) answers and  Keldeo GX (UB; 240) answers for your predicted meta, you can run a healthy balance of both for a more conventional Pika build, or even subtly tech the deck by putting in 1-of Reset Stamp,  Choice Helmet (LT; 169) or other useful Items to grab off of Volkner. Pika is the most interesting deck for this reason, but I still don’t think it is the best deck in the format. That’s no reason to not talk about it though, because the deck is still winning events like crazy. I think this is the biggest indicator that the deck is most capable of adaptation, which is brought on by the room Pika has - it all comes full circle.

Pikapsy



This list is a bit more of a conventional PikaRom deck, it has plenty of consistency options and multiple attackers. I like the attacking options the deck has and how much pressure it provides throughout every part of the game. Kaiwen really did a great job on this deck, with 4 Switch and 3 Jirachi being incredibly good and the Stamp/Plant combo really being insane. I was positive that PikaJudge was better than this after Worlds,  but Kaiwen’s subtle changes were strong enough to keep pushing out consistent finishes and I think that speaks to the strength of the deck.
 
Mirror is a wash because you have so many techs, the Dedenne-GX decks will have trouble with Reset Stamp/Power Plant, and you have a fair shot against some of the One-Prize decks, so Malamar is really the only thing you’re worried about. Sometimes the deck draws pieces too early and has to Dedechange them away early, and sometimes you just can’t set another attacker up if you get pressured too quickly. This is where the strength of Stamp/Plant comes in to play, and in a deck like PikaRom where you are constantly applying pressure and creating multiple threats, you can really put your opponent in a corner. When pairing that with a set-up Tag Bolt you can destroy your opponent’s hand and board at the same time so Pika becomes a deck that applies constant pressure and has a strong chance in any game it plays.

The Attackers

Pikachu & Zekrom-TTGX is going to be your first attacker, which will lead into your Raichu or your 2nd copy of PikaRom. Sometimes it can even go into Zeraora-GX, specifically against MewMew when they Tag Purge. You go into anything you want at that point and pick between whatever is best for the situation. Tag Switch is going to help here a lot because it allows you to Full Blitz to your Raichu and then be able to switch off to any other attacker instantly. Having the freedom to shift between attackers on a dime is cool because when you Stamp, your opponent might not be able to rip double Custom Catcher right away, so you can retreat to an Attacker with full HP and either bide time or get off another attack. This is playing into your opponent’s outs and PikaRom is the perfect deck for this right now because your opponent needs a solid amount of combo to beat you.

                       

Sigilyph-GX is actually an Attacker in this list! I thought it would be pretty good to attack with because the first attack does 80 and doesn’t apply Resistance, so you OHKO Jirachi and Poipole/Nagandel, and the GX attack does 60x each Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon, so you are OHKOing different TTGXs and forcing your opponent to hit into a Sigilyph off of Stamp. You can also Power Plant if you’re taking a KO because even if your Sigilyph’s own Ability is being shut off, your opponent may be forced to bump your Plant in order to even attack. This is a card that turns from a linear tech into a valuable resource by playing the one Psychic, so I’m going to keep running it for now. The Psychic isn’t detracting from the deck either because Full Blitz and Tag Bolt are the only attacks that a Psychic can’t set up, and you have too many ways to find a Lightning for it to ruin your t1 Full Blitz percentage or to run out of energy to Tag Bolt.  

The Support Pokemon

Jirachi is the best starter in the game and grabs you any card you want which is a very strong card to combo into Volkner with. Volkner can search out your Escape Board, so two Jirachi a turn into a Volkner to finish out the last piece you need is always an option and you can also hit the full Stamp/Plant combo off of this as well. Dedenne-GX is just a Hand refiller that can burn through your deck, thin cards you don’t need, discard 2 Lightning for Tapu Koko Prism or even sometimes become an attacking option like when you prize Zeraora against MewMew. The combo of Jirachi, Dedenne-GX and t1 Lillie puts you at a very low deck later into the game so when you are late game Stellar Wishing if you managed your resources properly, you are hitting into whatever you want and Pika is the kind of deck that usually doesn’t lose a game where you have a huge pop-off turn. Mew is going to be pretty cool in niche situations to set up multiple kos for you to use one less Electropower to take a big KO and sometimes against Blacephalon it can set up a Psypower to skip Beast Ring turn.

Trainers/Supporters/Stadiums

The T/S/S in this deck are either a 1-of tech card for Volkner to be able to grab or a 4-of so that you can afford to discard a copy or two off of Dedechange without completely running dry. Lillie has been way better than Judge because seeing more cards before having to Dedechange t1 can give you more options, sometimes allowing you to save the Dedechange until the turn after which is a massive boon for the deck because you want to hold your precious Items for an impactful moment. I tried three and one Reset Stamp and it wasn’t very good at either of those counts, because you always hit it too early before it is impactful or you just never find it without having to Volkner. 3 different Stadiums is fine, I feel like Viridian Forest and Thunder Mountain are kind of the same card (not really at all, but you know) and Power Plant is a great 2-of for the combo. Stadium Nav is pretty much necessary now, Board is great because you can make up for whiffing t1 Lillie the games you hit Volkner/Board instead because you can use Stellar Wish twice a bit earlier and start seeing more cards.

The Energy line is a fair 10/1, keeping Sigilyph an option without over-prioritizing the Sigi and without making it too hard to get the t1 Full Blitz. 

Pikapads

This list is pretty similar to the other one because Pika skeletons are always going to be close but this deck is aiming to be super turbo and try and reuse Dedenne-GX, heal against Malamar and other One-Prize decks and even against other Tag Team decks through the Tag Switch/Super Scoop Up combo. The deck really has a lot of consistency and aims to turn the Jirachi combo into a one-card ordeal, but requires the coin flip which balances it out a bit. It is a bit more consistent using a single item for Jirachi but the tradeoff is the finite number of Order Pads available to you over the amount of Stellar Wishes you have. This deck feels better than the other because it hits t1 Full Blitz a bit more often and it is equally not as strong because of the lack of late game options outside of attackers. I prefer the other list, but I can see how somebody could be attracted more to this version and wouldn’t knock anybody who brought this to an event. It is taking advantage of what PikaRom is and feeds well into that idea by complimenting everything a good Pika deck needs.

                       

Super Scoop Up has plenty of use outside of healing and can just be really good to force your opponent into whiffed KOs and mess up their lines by picking your guy up early. Sometimes in games where you hold them you have the opportunity to just spam them and pick up your Dedenne-GXs so your opponent has no way to close a game out. This is especially helpful against MewMew as well so you can swing with a fresh Zeraora-GX again after they Tag Purge or force them to not use Tag Purge for a turn so you can combo with a Stamp or Judge into a KO.
 
Judge is also a very good option in here when paired with Order Pad as the Pads are going to allow you to find an Electromagnetic Radar off of your own Judge turn 1. I think Judge is pretty good because it is another strong turn 1 option and I would not recommend running it if you don’t have all the extra consistency cards available in the deck because setting up is going to be more important to have actual pressure when you get into the late game over trying to hinder your opponent’s set up. Judge is still a great option and deserves to see play in a PikaRom deck, but I couldn’t see a full set of 4 like some people had at Worlds. While it can be oppressive, it can have that effect on you as well, which is something any deck wants to avoid. The 2-2 split will open up options sometimes and others it will let you just minus your opponent 2 or 3 cards (or neutralize mulligans) or it will just draw you a ridiculous amount of cards turn 1 and give you more options for the entire game. Finding Pads early and flipping Heads is going to put you into the best hands of your life so both Supporters have strong effects one way or the other.

Extra Options

X-X Zebstrika line: I’m not sure if 1-1, 2-2 or better Zebstrika is the best way to run it, but if you are afraid of Jessie & James this card is going to refill your hand and help out in general to dig into multiple Electropower for big turns. I don’t hate having a heavier line in here to just whack Keldeos too. The best cut would probably be a Dedenne or two because you are shifting to Sprint often, and if you wanted a thicker line you just have to cut whatever you feel isn’t very important for your expected meta. In both lists there is a decent amount of consistency that can be switched out for thick Zebstrika.

Electrocharger: I have been meaning to try some Electrocharger to see if you can win games by doing raw damage. I haven’t had a chance to test it out but it definitely has a nice effect - when it works. Charger effectively lets you get a quad-Electro Power turn in Pika and then a one-Power GX attack with Raichu or simply an Intercept from Sigilyph to completely seal the deal. When PikaRom is using Dedechange from turn one, one of the biggest things that happens is one of those 4-ofs go bye-bye, and when that card that is getting discarded is an Electropower you are going to see issues with damage output. 

                         

Eelektross UNM: Eel daddy is a strong way for the non-plant list to get around Keldeo-GX and packs a serious punch in random matchups for a swing turn. It is just a one-prize attacking option that is strong in niche scenarios. It requires a decent amount of setup but I like to drop it early and Full Blitz to it or do the Raichu play I mentioned above. Eel is also specifically nice against certain decks for the effect of the attack, which will prevent your opponent’s active from retreating. Some situations this could be good are against decks like Beheeyem where they promote a Pokemon you can’t KO like Keldeo-GX, but you stop them from retreating so you force out Tate & Liza, which lets you Judge and Lysandre Labs your way into them whiffing a retreat at some point. This can also save you against MewMew when you Custom something up from the bench and then prevent it from retreating. As they only have 2 copies of Switch, you will likely get this play off perfectly, and even more so when you pair it with Reset Stamp. 

Matchup Lines 

The deck’s matchups are pretty much going to be Full Blitz > pick best Attacker for situation > keep applying pressure in the most impactful way you can. The Malamar matchup is the hardest one for either list but you can finesse it pretty well with the bread and butter option either deck offers. The only real “line” you take off of Full Blitz is going into either of your GX attacks. Against Ability Zard you want to threaten Tag Bolt, but you want to split between two Pikas and then turn that into a full Raichu if one of the Pikas gets KO’d. Against One-Prize decks Tag Bolt will also be pretty good after you KO the Mew and that helps make up the prize trade, and then in any other situation Lightning Ride GX or Intercept GX to pressure their Attacker is going to be the best option.

 Sequencing is one of the biggest things that separates the good Pikarom players from the poor ones, and you tend to see players extend combos further and the deck feels more consistent when you are sequencing right, though this can also be a general statement as sequencing is a very large part of the game. Against decks that have Mew, you normally want to save Customs for the Mew if you feel Tag Bolt is going to be the option that wins you the game. Otherwise it is fine to allow your opponent to leave the Mew on bench to lose a space. Custom Catcher on Dedenne is always a strong option due to the ease of finding 2 copies of the card and because sometimes you can KO a Jirachi early and go into Big Attacker > Dedenne KO to win a game. This is normally how I get bodied by PikaRom at Cups, *sad face*. 

Conclusion

 Thanks for checking out this article, I think it has a solid amount of info on the PikaRom deck and covers two versions different enough to allow people to pick a list they feel comfortable with and roll with that. PikaRom will likely not be something I play for future events as I am more into MewMew and Spiritomb right now, but the deck is definitely great and as much as I hate getting bodied by it I have been absolutely slaughtered by multiple PikaRom players and have witnessed them make misplays and still just steamroll me because of how strong the deck can be. I’d like to see what edits can happen to the deck with Hidden Fates - Jolteon-GX and Electrocharger are what I have been debating fitting in right now.

[+24] okko


 

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