Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Shedding Some Light On Forbidden Light

Chris Covers The Two Newest Decks To Come From Forbidden Light: Beast Ring Buzzwole and Malamar! Plus, TREES!

05/21/2018 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone!

Today I want to go over the impact that Forbidden Light is looking to have on the Standard format. In addition to this, I want to go over my choice for a deck in Expanded: Trevenant (XY; 55) . I would have played it in Utah, and I would play it again in Virginia, and not just because the deck got a sizeable upgrade in Mysterious Treasure. In fact, lets look at Trevenant first!

Trevenant (XY; 55)  offers a lot of selling points, and one possible "issue", which is its hypothetical issue against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  decks. I'm not going to tell you that the deck is favorable against Zoroark decks -- I don't feel it is. I do feel that the deck is surprisingly competitive against a deck with a 210 HP Stage 1 Pokemon that OHKOs your deck for one attachment that has built in draw power against your disruptive deck. I do feel as if the matchup settles around a 45% win rate for Trevenant (XY; 55)  though, and for a "worst matchup" this is not that bad at all. I feel that this winrate actually inches closer to 50% or above against average or subpar Zoroark players, too. Players who may write off the Zoroark/Trevanant matchup as lopsided and therefore do not test against it will realize they lose a lot of edges. When a large portion of Zoroark players are on the deck because they do not actively play Expanded and are bandwagoning the "best deck", you will get paired against these players more often.

On top of this, with the release of Forbidden Light, the Fighting decks centered around Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  get a LOT better. This deck has felt extremely powerful, to the point where, in a vacuum, I think it may be the most powerful in Expanded. It is also, of course, really well-positioned against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  builds. Zoroark proved to be able to weather most archetypes, including attempted counter decks, fairly well over the months. While Buzzwole has yet to be put through that gauntlet and may end up less resilient with a target on it's head, the current bullseye is on the current "best deck" -- Zoroark. Zoroark made up a massive percentage of the field of events headed into Utah. It failed to convert very well into a day 2 and top 8 performance, meaning it was already losing momentum. With Buzzwole on the horizon, you have to assume that even less people will be on Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) . I don't even think Zoroark is that poorly positioned: The deck is still very good. In the context of thinking about Trevenant (XY; 55)  though, the deck is not expected to make up over a third of the field as was expected at events roughly a month ago.

What makes Trevenant (XY; 55)  such a powerful deck choice right now? Well, for once, it is a very disruptive deck. One-sided Item lock is extremely powerful, and always has been. Going second, this deck is able to use Phantump's Ascension to reliably have a turn-one Trevenant active. Going first is even sillier with Wally to cut off Items before the opponent is even able to play a single cad. Many of the most powerful engines in Expanded rely heavily on Items, and decks wind up embracing greedy builds to take advantage of this; many are really prone to collapsing to Item lock.

Trevenant also benefits from having an exceptional Buzzwole matchup. A lot of Buzzwole's strength comes from Max Elixir and Beast Ring -- Items which are cut off. On top of this, Trevenant (XY; 55)  has type advantage over Buzzwole. Not only does it deal double damage, but Trevenant, being it's usual ghostly self, resists Fighting.

One of the trends we saw with the rise of Zoroark decks was a shift in players embracing disruptive- and mill-based strategies to prey on them. These decks include Durant, Wailord, and Sabeleye/Garbodor. Sabeleye and Durant really, really struggle against Trevenant (XY; 55) . Wailord is not bad either, but it is closer because of Rough Seas and the fact that a lot of the deck's disruption stems from Supporters opposed to Items. It is not impossible for them to actually run you out of Energy entirely some games. A second Super Rod does a lot to shore up this matchup, even though it is already around a coin flip.

Trevenant (XY; 55)  is a great choice for Regionals, as well, because its games are fairly quick. It can play a kind of grindy game, but its turns are very quick and its game plan is surprisingly linear. On top of this, it really limits the number of plays an opponent can make on their turns. Couple this with the amount of "cheap" wins where the opponent fails to set up at all, and you should reliably complete your rounds. Trevenant is a huge pain to play AGAINST, but in general is fairly easy to play. This makes for a less grueling tournament mentally. With how long a Regionals tournament is, this isn't negligible.

Lets break down this specific list!

4-4/3 Trevenant BREAK: This is a pretty standard line. You are clearly going to run the maximum number of Phantumps and Trvenant. Due to Super Rod and 4 Rescue Scarf, you don't really need more than 3 of the BREAK. While you do really want to get the BREAK out, the deck can function without it in a pinch, so the 4th is overkill.

2 Tapu Lele-GX: The deck has no Pokemon based draw, and doesn't really have any sort of complex or powerful Item based engine either. Since it relies on a very "fair" Supporter game plan, it needs Tapu Lele GX to be able to smooth out it's draws. Also, the deck wants to play Wally on turn one. With 2 Lele, the Wally, 4 Mysterious Treasure and 2 Ultra Ball, this is fairly reliable. To address the elephant in the room...the deck's optimal board consists solely of Trevenant. One of the ways for decks to break Item lock is with Guzma or Lysandre on a non-Tree. You don't WANT to have targets for this if you don't have to, but you usually wind up with Leles or at the very least un-evolved Phantumps. Tapu Lele offers too much of a safety net, while also enabling the Wally plan of the deck not to run a couple of copies of it anyways. You want to open Phantump as often as possible, so you don't want to run too many additional Basics, therefore 2 feels perfect. Previous builds ran a split of 1 Tapu Lele GX and 1 Jirachi EX because the deck used to run Level Ball. With the release of Mysterious Treasure, a card that can grab any card in the deck, the otherwise inferior Jirachi gets the upgrade to a second Lele.

1 Espeon-EX: Espeon is a huge weapon in this deck that works really, really well against any deck playing evolutions. It is a major part of how you beat Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , Greninja and Gardevoir. You only need 2 attacks with a BREAK to leave Zoroark's vulnerable to devolution KOs. Trying to actually deal with Zoroark's 210 HP the hard way is just not a functional strategy. You have to fall back on Espeon.

4 Psychic Energy/4 Mystery Energy/2 Counter Energy: The correct number of Energy in this deck is between 9 and 10 Energy. I'm a bit partial towards 10, particularly because I really like Counter Energy. Mystery Energy is superior to Psychic in most cases, offering a reduced retreat cost. With Item lock, you don't really have to worry much about Enhanced Hammer as an issue.

Counter Energy is nice because this deck is a spread deck. You fall behind in prizes almost every game, and while ideally a Trevenant BREAK (BKP; 66)  attacks with a lone Energy and Dimension Valley, Counter Energy is another attacking out for games where you don't have access to Valley ( Decks run a lot of Stadiums at the moment so getting them countered is a real threat. ) or in games where you want to do your 60/20/20 spread. One of the other big issues the deck faces besides Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  is Giratina ( Promo ) as it shuts off your BREAK's Ability. With Counter Energy, you increase your ability to actually attack with a normal Trevenant (XY; 55) , and if you can Counter Catcher up Giratina, you can answer it in short order.

Counter Energy comes up sometimes against Zoroark too. Well, more so with Exeggcute. Zoroark can "Safely" bench Exeggcutes against you with Sky Field if you will be left with 0 Energy attached to a Tree. Normally Eggs are a huge liability against the 30 spread, but they can be discarded if Sky Field gets countered with Dimension Valley to enable the attack. If you get an initial KO on some Zoruas with Espeon EX, it is not uncommon for a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  player to "go off" with Items, fill their bench, and OHKO Espeon, expecting their Eggs -not- to be a liability. Suddenly dropping a Counter Energy so you can attack without countering Sky Field can really blow them out.

A card I had been exploring at one point for the matchup was Weakness Policy. Put on a 160 HP BREAK, it makes it a difficult KO for Zoroark. This actually can be leveraged to force an opponent into falling for the Sky Field/Exeggcute bench just to get KOs. Target Whistle could theoretically be used to get cheap Egg KOs in the matchup too. I tested Weakness Policy to decent results, but have no had the guts to actually try out Target Whistle as I think it is way too cute and not actually good.

4 Mysterious Treasure/2 Ultra Balls/1 Nest Ball: The deck really wants to fill it's bench with as many Phantump as possible because, well, Trevenant (XY; 55) s die a lot. You need a constant chain of them. I actually would like 8 "Balls" here but 7 suffices. The 4 Treasure are clearly the best option. The split between Ultra Ball and Nest Ball may seem unusual, but the deck doesn't really love discarding cards. You want enough additional Ultra Ball to reliably see Tapu Lele over the course of a game, but since most Balls go towards Phantumps, the Nest Ball is a fine 7th.

4 N: N is the best Supporter in the deck. Since you often play from behind, you will be drawing a lot of cards from N while your opponent draws less and less as the game progresses. It really applies to pressure alongside your Item lock. Against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , it is important to hit it almost every turn. You want to be stripping DCEs with Enhanced Hammer or stranding targets with Counter Catcher and hoping these paired with N can just buy free turns without getting KOed. While some games the opponent just runs really well and draws what they need off the Ns, most games the disruption adds up. I have considered an Ace Trainer in the deck as a "5th" N, and one that is more lopsided in disruption early on but it didn't make the cut.

4 Cynthia: I mentioned before with the Ball discussion how the deck dislikes discarding resources, so I am going with all Cynthia and 0 Sycamore. A 3-1 split in favor of Cynthia isn't terrible as the value of the 1 Sycamore goes way up alongsided Lele and VS Seeker, but I'm playing it safe here.

4 VS Seeker: It's Expanded. I sometimes forget how great this card was. If you wanted the Ace Trainer, cutting the 4th VS Seeker is a totally reasonable way to go about getting it.

4 Dimension Valley: You would play way more than 4 if you could, I feel. You want it early, and you want it often as decks WILL counter it. Rough Seas is one of the worst possible cards for you to play against, and against Wailord and Greninja decks you suspect run them ( Not all of them do! I like to assume they do until given a reason to suspect otherwise ) you really want to save your Valleys until you can make the first counter as those matchups go long and grindy and you NEED to win the Stadium war.

1 Comp. Search: I should have just lumped this in with VS Seeker as an Expanded gimme in most decks.

4 Enhanced Hammer: Hammer is the main way you beat Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) . Eventually they should fail to hit a DCE over the course of a game and you only need a brief lapse in their pressure to be able to actually get way ahead. Other decks using Special Energy cards get hurt by this too.

2 Counter Catcher: Since in most close games, you are getting KOed a lot, or at least need to be actively disrupting the opponent with N, you are hoping to play a Supporter towards these ends every turn of the game. As strong as Guzma or Lysandre is with spread and Item lock, you really can't take turns off to play them much. Counter Catcher is a compromise, as being able to bring up targets to strand is VERY good. On top of this, N plus Counter Catcher is legitimately filthy and will win games. For as good as Giratina is against this deck, it feels really bad if it ever gets brought up and stranded.

4 Rescue Scarf: When I first picked up this deck I didn't respect how important this card was. I wanted to start at 2 copies. I got talked into at LEAST playing 3. I played two games with the deck and immediately added the 4th and admitted I was an idiot. You need a constant stock of Trees and this is just the easiest way to keep them flowing.

1 Super Rod: You need a means to recover Energy, and it also gets you back Tree pieces and more importantly Espeon EX. You may end up needing to use it twice in games, and it can be KOed easily enough as decks get to "go off" with Items after the first use. You can't even really rely on Rescue Scarf here because with Items live again, Field Blower and similar effects are turned back on and that can get stripped.

I need to give a huge thank you to Seena Ghaziaskar who has helped me a lot with this deck, both in terms of convincing me that it is a strong play ( It didn't take much. It had a lot of traits I wanted in an Expanded deck ) and with the list. The deck's "Flex" spots come from the 2 Counter Catcher and the 10th Energy. How you want to split the Ball count up is also debatable, as is whether you want to play Counter Energy opposed to more Psychic. I think by fully embracing the play from behind mentality the deck benefits.

Lets move onto Standard though! Every set that comes out has a few gimmicks or cards which are very clearly advertised as the viable strategies to come from the set. It is a bit heavy handed and does take some of the fun out of deck building, but it has been this way for years and we should all be used to it. While this isn't to say there are not other strategies to be explored in Forbidden Light, there are two very obvious ones worth exploring first.

We get Beast Ring, an Item which makes all Ultra Beasts even more powerful than they already are. I don't know why they did this, or if it was a good idea, as most of these Pokémon were already pushed to begin with, but hey, we test what we are given, right? It is no secret at the moment that the most obvious place to start with Beast Ring is with Buzzwole GX. Buzzwole has been one of the best cards in Standard since it's printing either as an aggressive powerful primary attacker in Buzzwole/Lycanroc, a durable flexible attacker in Buzzwole/Garbodor or even as a secondary support attacker in Lucario GX decks. Buzzwole gets not only Beast Ring but a slew of other great tools in the set.

The next big card is Malamar. We've seen this card functionally in Eelektrik and Bronzong in the past, and it is not hard to see how this type of Energy Acceleration is going to fit into decks. Psychic is a type that historically has NOT had access to much in the way of acceleration, so it is worth looking back at older cards to see what Malamar may have made viable.

We'll get to Malamar in a moment, but I want to go more in depth with Buzzwole first. Lets look at all of the new tools the card has gained in this set.

Beast Ring: While Jet Punch is a great comically efficient attack, Buzzwole has a pair of heavy hitting attacks in Absorbtion GX and Knuckle Impact. Fighting is another type that doesn't really have access to a lot of acceleration and Buzzwole had previously had to rely on some combination of Max Elixir and Carbink BREAK to see it. Once the first Buzzwole goes down, and the opponent goes down to 4 prizes, Beast Ring lets you power up Buzzwole quickly. It isn't unreasonable to pull of multiple Beast Ring in a turn and be set up for the rest of the game. This card is honestly dumb.

Beast Energy: Generally this will just act as a 5th Strong Energy, which is always welcome. The difference between a 20 damage boost and a 30 damage boost is not irrelevent, but I do feel as if Buzzwole already kind of either comfortably 2 hit KOs Pokémon with Jet Punch, or OHKOs them with either of it's bigger attackers. Even with the 30 bench damage it is difficult to get a benched Pokémon EX or GX in range of a "OHKO" with Jet Punch.

Diancie Prism Star: I just learned very recently that it is Diancie and not Diance. I don't want to go back and re-read my old articles to see how many times I messed that up. Maybe the editor caught the mistake for me? Maybe? I don't want to think about it. Anyways, Diancie is a double Regirock EX that only gives up one prize, so that feels fair. It is just another source of passive additional damage for Fighting types, and all of these boosts really add up quickly.

Buzzwole: Buzzwole, the non-GX one in this set, is a great addition to all Buzzwole decks. In general, you will lead with Buzzwole GX, and when it goes down you can transition to this one prize attacker that has 130 HP and does 120 damage for one Fighting Energy. By 120 damage, of course I mean far more than that as this is before modifiers such as +20 from Diancie, +20 from Strong Energy, and +30 for Choice Band. It is not uncommon to be able to hit 190 damage. 200 if the Strong Energy is a Beast Energy! This takes out another Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  even! You have to plan the prize exchange correctly but the card is just so powerful at a certain point in most games. Once the first Buzzwole goes down, you can swing with this guy while using Beast Rings to power up a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  or two on the bench. This card is also just exceptional against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  GX. It OHKOs it easily for an energy, while it's 130 HP keeps it out of OHKO range. It isn't that rare to KO back to back Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  with one before the opponent is able to get off of 4 prizes.

I have two similar lists I have been running lately, and I want to go over those. I mentioned previous shells for Buzzwole: Buzzwole Lycanroc, Buzzwole Garbodor and Lucario GX. These builds are much more streamlined than any of those decks, but would be closest to a spiritual successor to Buzzwole Lycanroc if anything.

I feel as if Lycanroc is no longer needed. The Ability is clearly still great, but replicable with Guzma. With how much easier it is to pull off Buzzwole's big attacks, even Dangerous Rogue seems unneeded. I will admit, I like having a 200 HP Pokémon that doesn't have a Psychic weakness, but I've generally been able to just overpower decks in general. It is less than Lycanroc is BAD, it isn't, but more than space has to be freed up from somewhere and Lycanroc got the axe.

The shell is, of course, still familiar. The deck relies on a Brooklet Hill/Octillery engine which is pretty well established for this type of deck. One of the things I did do was bump up the Energy count a bit. I had to make room for the Beast Energy, and I still wanted to have access to 9 Fighting Energy for both Max Elixir and Beast Ring. You can make a case for 10 Fighting here honestly, but I have no interest in playing 15 total, and 5 slots of locked in on the Strong Energy and Beast Energy.

The differences between the two lists here stem from choosing to run either Choice Band or Fighting Fury Belt. I honestly have no idea which is actually better yet. I feel like the default has been to just run Choice Band, but at the very least I think Fighting Fury Belt deserves some additional consideration. ( I actually wouldn't be surprised if some sort of split was correct, too. )

Choice Band is the more proactive card. You get more damage against Pokémon which are the hardest to KO. It gets the most damage out of baby Buzzwole. That being said, I did stress before that Buzzwole feels firmly locked in one "two hit KOs" and "OHKOs" where the extra 20 damage seems to be incrementally relevent less often. ( One of the big matchups where it DOES matter is against Gardevoir, as it makes hitting 230 a lot easier. ) Choice Band also makes Mewtwo ( EVO ) a great option for mirror match. With a base damage of 20, doing 20 additional damage per Energy, the Choice Band lets a Mewtwo do 220 damage to a Buzzwole with 3 Energy on it. Belt only hits 180, which is 10 shy.

That being said, you can look at this in the opposite direction: Fighting Fury Belt puts your Buzzwole 10 HP outside the range of a Mewtwo with a Choice Band, a combination which will almost assuredly be a popular counter for the deck. Belt also makes baby Buzzwole a 170 HP one prize attacker and if anyone remembers how much of a chore to deal with baby Volcanion has been...

In defense of Fighting Fury Belt, I also want to look at it in the context of the mirror match. First and foremost, I want to point out that almost none of the Buzzwole lists I've seen are running any Field Blower. The deck is so streamline and non-reliant on Abilities that this absolutely makes sense. I mean, I'm not running any Blower, because I think that is correct. Still, that is a trend worth taking note of, as it does make Belt a lot better.

I mentioned before how Buzzwole ( with a Choice Band ) can hit 190 damage with a Choice Band for a OHKO on a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) . Fighting Fury Belt puts you outside of the range of this ( While admittedly denying you the same line in return against their Buzzwole GX. This is one reason why I think a split could be interesting. ) Anyways, lets look at some of the midgame match for Buzzwole GX damage. Remember, we're looking in the context of 230 HP. At 6 prizes, Absorbtion GX is just always going to be a OHKO. Pretty much the same at 5 as well. When the opponent gets down to 4 or less prizes, though, things get interesting!

Both Absorbtion GX and Knuckle Impact do 160 damage here. With Diancie, Strong Energy, and Choice Band, they do hit 230. Anything less than that trifecta and they can't actually OHKO you. What is very much worth looking at is that Diancie is a Prism Star. This means that if you were to knock it out, it goes to the Lost Zone. What I have been doing in the mirror match with the Fighting Fury Belt is using baby Buzzwole and Guzma to actually OHKO Diance once they go down to 4 prize cards. At this point, they can't OHKO my Belted Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  without multiple Special Energy cards attached to a Pokémon. This is one of the reasons why I am running 2 Enhanced Hammer in the build. Hammer in general is a good card, and a pair of them is reasonable anyways, but when you take into account what I am trying to do to win the mirror match ( outside of the games where one player just clearly gets far ahead of the other due to a start difference ) the Hammers revent my opponent from being able to pair Strong/Beast Energy for late game OHKOs.

As an aside, the Choice Band version is running a Mewtwo ( EVO ) and a Multi Switch in place of those Hammers. Mewtwo is my mirror match plan with Choice Band, and Multi Switch increases my ability to actually power up Mewtwo in one turn since the deck runs no DCE. I'm banking on Max Elixir or Multi Switch to provide the second attachment. Multi Switch is also just generally good in a deck that can flood the field with so many extra attachments like this can with Beast Ring and Elixir.

My initial assessment is that in a vacuum, Choice Band is the "stronger" Tool for the deck, but that the deck is also just so powerful and fast that Fighting Fury Belt, a card which is better against cards and decks that counter you, may be better since that is where you care about gaining your edges.

One final perk of Belt is that it does apply damage to non-EX/GX Pokémon. This does come up when trying to KO basic Pokémon on the first turn of the game. With Diance and a 5th "Strong" Energy now, this math matters less, but it does come up.

Before moving onto Malamar, I want to discuss the fabled idea of "Beast Box". I get the idea of it. There are multiple cards in this set that suggest such a strategy is viable. Box, of course, being short of toolbox, and Beast referencing Ultra Beast. There is a cycle of non-GX Ultra Beasts which correspond to potential prize counts of the opponent that gain situational attack boosts. These Beasts cover a ride range of types. On top of this, the Psychic type Stage 1 Ultra Beast Naganadel looks extremely powerful! It has an attack for a Colorless Energy that does 20 damage for every Ultra Beast you have in play! This demands a pretty specific set of restrictions on deck building. Running only Ultra Beast attackers seems fine. There are a ton of great options. You lose out a lot on consistency though! You can't run Octillery, or Oranguru. You can't even run Tapu Lele GX! Well, you can, but you miss out on very important damage.

Trying to pair Naganadel with an array of supporting attackers is almost assuredly a trap. None of the other Beasts play well together at all. The entire deck hinges on Beast Ring for acceleration, forcing you into running a lot of Basic Energy, so you can't even really use Rainbow Energy type cards to enable all the potential attackers. That said, Psychic is an INCREDIBLE type to be right now as it beats up on Fighting, which is the type to beat. Naganadel is weak to Psychic in return, but it's low attack cost keeps it out of range of Mewtwo ( EVO ). Where I feel a "toolbox" approach to this deck is just bad, I do feel like Naganadel is good!

Anyone else predict that I'd use this as a lead in to just pairing it with Buzzwole?

Anyways, here is what I managed to come up with for that idea. I'll be honest, I have a grand total of 2 games under my belt with this deck, but it felt promising and is a start.

The Pokémon are pretty simple. There is a 4-3 Naganadel line. Honestly this is excessively bloated, but the deck wants to be able to keep a full bench of Ultra Beasts and the 4th Poipole seems more appealing to me than a 2nd Buzzwole or Dawn Wing. You need enough replacements to keep damage up as KOs fleece your Beasts away, and lets not think too much about Parallel City. (I do expect this card to see an increase in play due to Malamar.)

Much of this build is similar to my standard Buzzwole list, with the removal of Tapu Lele and Octillery towards extra Supporters and the Naganadel line. I also made a shift to Ultra Space over Brooklet Hill. I'd like a 3rd copy, but made the last minute change to make it the 4th Poipole for the reason discussed earlier.

What I do find interesting here is whether or not Naganadel is worth it. I feel like the deck loses a bit of raw strength against the field, but it should really destroy the mirror match. Have access to both a great Fighting and Psychic type attacker should give it inherent strength against the most powerful pillars of the format.

Much like Buzzwole, I have two similar Malamar lists that are taking two slightly different paths that I am struggling to find a preference for. While the shell is basically the same, I'm torn between whether I like the normal Necrozma-GX or the Ultra Necrozma GX from Forbidden Light. Ultra Necrozma has more HP and a better Weakness ( Fairy opposed to Psychic ) but it forces you to run Metal Energy for it's attack. This isn't close to free. Ultra Necrozma does 20 damage + 80 more for each Psychic Energy you discard from it. Therefore if you have the pre-requisite Metal Energy and 2 Psychic Energy, you hit for 180 damage. If you bump that to 3 Psychic, its 260 damage, which takes out anything in the format. Necrozma on the other hand does 10 damage plus 60 for every Psychic Energy you discard from it for CCC. At 3 Energy its 190. At 4 it is 250. Assuming both Pokémon survive, Ultra Necrozma keeps its Metal, so the damage output later on scales better.

What scares me about Ultra Necrozma besides the demand for Metal Energy is that it is Dragon type. That isn't -really- that big a deal but when it's 3 energy output is 180 damage, it falls shy of a OHKO on Buzzwole. My gut is telling me to just go with the Psychic type Necrozma-GX in this deck. The price tag for Ultra Necrozma though suggests that a lot of people seem to enjoy that route though. Enough debate though, lets look at the lists!

Both lists run a 4-4 Malamar line. The first list runs 3 Necrozma-GX, where as the build with Ultra Necrozma only runs 2 and still runs a copy of the normal Necrozma for type diversity and varied GX attack options. 2 Tapu Lele for consistency feels plenty. Dawn Wing Necrozma is very important because it's Ability lets you bench your attacker to re-fuel it with your Malamars on turns you can't really use Guzma. Mew is not only a one prize attacker that can copy your OHKOing attacks, but it's free retreat is fairly important. Against Zoroark decks, for example, you really don't want to bench the Dark weak Dawn Wing Necrozma-GX if you don't have to, and Mew makes Guzma plays a bit safer and easier to pull off. You'll notice a lack of Octillery or Oranguru, and that is because the deck is actually super self reliant once set up. Since Malamar pulls Energy from the discard pile, it doesn't really care if you are getting N'd. Dawn Wing Necrozma also is an in-play source of benching your attackers, so most of what you need is going to be in play already.

The Energy count is either 11 Psychic Energy or a split of 8 Psychic and 4 Metal. Obnoxiously, 11 feels like it is plenty, but I had to go up to 12 ( And 2 Professor's Letter! ) just to make getting Metal energy semi-reliable. That is another reason why I went with 1 normal Necrozma in the deck, because it is an option when you can't get access to a Metal. I don't really feel safe with less than 8 Psychic either, so I'm stuck at 12...effectively 14 with Letters.

I do want to get to the engine of the deck though, which I am really excited about! With the printing of Mysterious Treasure, the deck can run 8 Balls ( 10 in the case of the first list! ) to reliably fill the bench out on the first turn and hopefully get multiple Malamar on the second turn. The best part about this is that they both discard cards, which makes it easy to pitch Psychic Energy to recur. Since the deck is able to empty it's hand so quickly, Lillie is INCREDIBLE in this deck. You are really able to maximize it's turn 1 value, and even midgame drawing up to 6 looks strong since you can get your hand size down so easily. I'm going for Sycamore over Cynthia as additional outlets to discard Psychic Energy. 4 Guzma is strong in general, but since you need to bench your attackers so often to re-power that I think 4 is just mandatory.

Three Field Blower is to deal with Garbotoxin. Since Psychic is such a strong type at the moment to beat up on Buzzwole and Lucario, I do expect more Garbodor decks in general. This deck also really doesn't like Parallel City, so that is another card where you want Field Blower to deal with. Three Float Stone pair with Dawn Wing Necrozma to give you the retreating fluidity the deck needs.

Finally, I am running 2 Rescue Stretcher. Since the deck is running so many cards which discard cards, between the 8 "Balls" and 4 Sycamore, I want to have a bit of extra insurance to make sure I don't get caught short on Pokémon. Since Parallel City is already an issue for the deck, that is even more of a reason to run a pair of Rescue Stretcher.

I've been impressed with both Buzzwole and Malamar so far, and I'm sure that as the metagame gets better fleshed out by bigger events that we will get a much clearer picture of what the decks to beat are! Until next time!

[+24] okko


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