Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

"Squids" - Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar and Hoopa/Malamar

Jose examines two variants of Malamar that he believes are strong plays for the NAIC this weekend.

07/05/2018 by Jose Marrero


Hey there 60cards readers! I hope you had a nice 4th of July. I am back again with another article, though this time going over two variants of Malamar that I feel are the best lists out there respectively. The first list I'll be discussing is Zack Taylor's Ultra Necrozma-GX variant from Madison Regionals. Next, I'll transition into the Top 4 list from Mexico Regionals piloted by Fernando Castaneda Perez who played the non-Ultra Necrozma-GX variant but instead played Hoopa. The NAIC is this weekend and is going to be a blast to play in. It'll be exciting to see who and what wins this big event. Personally, all I want is to get enough points to put me back into Top 16 because a Day 2 Worlds invite is all I care about right now. I'm currently sitting at 1192 Championships in 18th place in NA/Canada rankings. I'm hoping I can achieve this because it would mean a lot. I'm confident that a Top 64 at the NAIC should keep me there. I've placed Top 64 in Brazil and London this season and did not attend Australia. Hopefully, I can keep my streak going or do better. 

With that said, let's take a closer look at Zack Taylor's Top 8 Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar list from Madison Regionals.

Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar

4-3 Malamar

This build likely only plays a 4-3 line of Malamar because the deck also plays Beast Ring. Meaning you don't necessarily have to always rely on Malamar's ability.

2 Ultra Necrozma-GX

Its first attack, Photon Geyser has the means to one hit KO any Pokémon. That is why this version of Malamar has the better Zoroark-GX matchup. Photon Geyser has a base of 20 damage and adds an additional 80 damage for each Basic Psychic Energy you discard off Ultra Necrozma-GX. Its GX attack Sky-Scorching Light GX is very situational to the point where you will likely never use it unless the opponent clumsily plays into it and forgets all about it by benching multiple Pokémon with 60 or fewer hit points once the prize total is six or fewer. Photon Geyser can do 210 damage with a Choice Band or Beast Energy with just two Psychic Energy. That is enough to one hit KO most relevant Pokémon in the format.

2 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX

Invasion and Moon's Eclipse GX makes Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX an easy inclusion in all Malamar decks. You need to be able to power up Ultra Necrozma-GX in a single turn to get the most out of it which is where Invasion comes in handy.

1 Mew

Mew can copy attacks such as Photon Geyser and because Mew is a one prize attacker means it'll be useful and advantageous for taking KOs on GX Pokémon.

1 Mimikyu

Great one prize attacker that can copy an opponent's attack that they used the previous turn. Except Mimikyu can't copy GX attacks so not a big fan of it.

1 Giratina

A solid attacker in the mirror and against Buzzwole decks. Not to mention useful against Greninja decks.

3 Choice Band

Needing only two Psychic Energy as opposed to three on Ultra Necrozma-GX to one hit KO Pokémon GX with 210 hit points can make a huge difference. That is why Choice Band are needed. They also make Moon's Eclipse GX do 210 damage now which is also useful if you want to take down a Golisopod-GX or Lycanroc-GX while being invincible next turn.

2 Field Blower

I'd like to see a third copy of Field Blower in this deck because the deck doesn't play Parallel City. Also, Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor has been having more success lately so we may see a resurgence in play at the NAIC.

2 Professor's Letter

I like Professor's Letter in this build because it plays two different types of Basic Energy so it makes sense to play them.

2 Beast Ring

The deck doesn't play Max Elixir so having another means of energy acceleration is ideal. Beast Ring makes perfect sense because a surprise Ultra Necrozma-GX or Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX out of nowhere can win games.

7 Psychic Energy/3 Metal Energy/1 Beast Energy Prism Star

I'd like to see an 8th Psychic Energy because of Beast Ring. However, this list got top 8 in Madison so maybe you can get away with playing just 7 Psychics. Especially since there is also two Professor's Letter. Three Metal is fine and what most if not all lists play. Beast Energy is a must in this build because of Ultra Necrozma-GX. Beast Energy is basically a Choice Band except for all Pokémon. Ultra Necrozma-GX can do 130 damage with just one Psychic Energy assuming you also have Beast Energy attached to it. That is enough to take out Baby Buzzwole, Hoopa, Baby Volcanion, and plenty more.

Other card options

(I talk about other card options as far as Pokémon go in the next section as I did not want to repeat which most of them can be played in this build as well. You can replace any of the one prize attackers with any other one prize attacker assuming it's a Psychic-type or Clefairy)


Great card in the mirror because Clefairy is a fairy type meaning it can take down opposing Ultra Necrozma-GX's with ease. Trading a one prize attacker for two prizes is always the way to go if you can.

Fighting Fury Bet

Giving Ultra Necrozma-GX 230 hit points can be great in forcing the opponent to have to dig for their Field Blowers or two hit KO them. The only downside I have with Fighting Fury Belt is that Ultra Necrozma-GX would still need a third Psychic Energy to take down Zoroark-GX in one blow. That is why Choice Band may just be the overall winner here in this scenario. However, if you want to win more against Buzzwole decks then Fighting Fury Belts is the way to go.

Super Rod

I'd personally play Super Rod over Rescue Stretcher at least in this build. This is because the deck plays Beast Rings which you need to have energy in the deck for. It'll be likely that the turn you have Super Rod that you also have Mysterious Treasure or Ultra Ball to get the Pokémon you would have likely Rescue Stretched for anyway since the deck plays a number of ways to search out Pokémon.

Max Elixir

You can play Max Elixir in this build too. However, they will be less consistent since if you don't have Ultra Necrozma-GX in play then you may not hit a Psychic thus wasting Max Elixir. Or a scenario where you only keep hitting Metal Energy when you already have one in play on Ultra Necrozma-GX. 

Unit Energy LPM

The deck uses both Metal and Psychic attackers meaning Unit Energy can be very useful. However, Unit Energy can be Enhanced Hammered away and it can't be accelerated with Malamar.

With that said let's now get into the variant that strays away from Ultra Necrozma-GX but instead focuses more on non-GX attackers. This next list was piloted to a Top 4 finish at Mexico Regionals by a player named Fernando Castaneda Perez. Actually looking back at previous events this list is just 1 card shy of the list Caleb Gedemer had placed 2nd with at one of the Mexico Special Events. Without a doubt, the list in question is one of the best non-Ultra Necrozma-GX lists out there right now. The difference between Fernando's list and Calebs is - 1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX + 1 Giratina Promo.


4-4 Malamar

The deck's main means of energy acceleration and why this deck is one of the best decks out there right now. Malamar is reminiscent of Eelektrik, though Malamar accelerates Psychic Energy as opposed to Electric. There are a number of great Psychic attackers in the format that makes Malamar such a great card and deck as a whole. Fernando knew how important Malamar is so he kept a maxed 4-4 count which I can get behind with. Two Rescue Stretcher also lets you get Malamars back so you shouldn't have trouble getting them out.

2 Hoopa

Great one prize attacker. Useful in the mirror and Buzzwole decks. Trading single prize attackers with another single prize attacker is the way to go. However, there will be times when you are able to take two prizes with Hoopa and that is when you should be taking the game into your own hands. Its first attack, Hyperspace Punch only does 20 damage to two of your opponent's Pokémon. This attack only takes a single Colorless Energy so it is easy to get going. Hyperspace Punch can assist in setting up KO's later in the game. However, its second attack, Portal Strike is why Hoopa is a threat to a number of Pokémon because it does 130 damage. That is enough to take down Buzzwole and any Psychic weak Pokémon. Not only that but Zoroark-GX can't one hit KO Hoopa that easy so they may have to rely on other means of one-hit KOing Hoopa. If that is the case then so be it. Mew-EX is likely their only out unless they play Mewtwo as well or Professor Kukui. Reverse Valley can be something as well but most don't play that stadium.

2 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX

This card can do wonders in Malamar decks. Not only does it's ability, Invasion allows for easy access to attack with Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX but Invasion also makes it easier for you to attack with other Pokémon that would do more damage. Dark Flash does a solid 120 damage which takes down Buzzwole, Buzzwole-GX, and other Psychic weak Pokémon. However, Moon's Eclipse GX is what makes Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX something to worry about in the mirror. The only thing that goes through Moon's Eclipse GX that's relevant is Mewtwo-GX's Psystrike GX attack. Be wary of Mewtwo-GX when using Moon's Eclipse-GX and make sure you have a backup attacker ready preferably a non-GX. Another thing is to try not to bench a GX when using Moon's Eclipse GX because the opponent will just take those prizes instead and ignore Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX.

1 Necrozma-GX

Prismatic Burst can do some big numbers and is useful in taking down Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX because it is weak to Dark types. Prismatic Burst has a base of 10 damage and then does 60 damage for each Psychic Energy you discard off of Necrozma-GX. If you are able to have four Psychic Energy on it then you can do massive 250 damage which should one hit KO anything. Its GX attack won't likely be used unless you set it up. For example, if you put three GX Pokémon from having 100 or less damage from being KOed. That is when Black Ray GX can be effective. You can potentially set this up against Zoroark-GX decks and hope they don't know your strategy. That means do not bench Necrozma-GX until it is time to use it otherwise they will see your strategy from a mile away. In order to achieve this strategy, you have to Guzma around different GX Pokémon and hit them with most likely Hoopa. They can only one hit KO Hoopa with Psychic-type of their own or Professor Kukui which decks have been dropping lately. If they use Mew-EX to take out a one prize attacker like Hoopa then that is fine since you get a free two prizes anyway. If you don't need to bench Necrozma-GX early then simply toss it especially in the mirror match. You don't want the opponent to take two free prizes on it so toss it and Rescue Stretcher it when you need it.

1 Mewtwo-GX

Mainly useful for its GX attack, Psystrike GX. This attack is great against two very common attackers in the current format. The first being Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX. When they use Moon's Eclipse GX that is when Mewtwo-GX can shine and take the revenge KO because Psystrike GX ignores all effects on your opponent's active Pokémon. Lycanroc-GX can also be troublesome for this deck so having access to Psystrike will be clutch when the time comes. I would save your GX attack for when Lycanroc-GX comes out and play because Psystrike GX does exactly 200 damage which is enough to take down Lycanroc-GX and many more Pokémon. Psystrike GX also goes through Jolteon-EX so remember that in case you think you are forced to attack with just Malamar.

1 Marshadow-GX

This card is mainly to help combat against Zoroark-GX decks. Marshadow-GX can copy attacks from your Basic discarded Pokémon. Meaning Marshadow-GX can use attacks from Hoopa, Necrozma-GX, Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX, Mewtwo-GX, and Tapu Lele-GX if needed. If you can take down two Zoroark-GX with a single Marshadow-GX then you should be favored. If you copy Moon's Eclipse GX with Marshadow-GX then you should be able to achieve the double Zoroark-GX KO. Marshadow-GX can be a liability against most matchups so only bench it when you are going to attack with it. Otherwise toss it away because you can always Rescue Stretcher it back later if you need to.

1 Clefairy

This little rascal can be a lethal threat for the opponent. Its second attack, Metronome is why it is in the deck. Metronome can copy any of the opponent's active Pokémon's attacks. Metronome takes three energy but that isn't too difficult between Malamar and Max Elixir. Some attacks that are very useful in copying are Ultra Necrozma-GX's Photon Geyser, Lycanroc-GX's Dangerous Rogue GX, Necrozma-GX's Prismatic Burst, and Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX's Moon's Eclipse GX. Clefairy can copy any attack as long as the Pokémon is active. Clefairy is a one prize attacker so you should be able to trade one prize for two, especially against other Malamar decks.

4 Professor Sycamore/4 Guzma/3 Cynthia/2 N/1 Brigette

Not having access to non-supporter draw such as Zoroark-GX, Octillery and Oranguru means you need to play a good amount of draw supporters then. As you can see Fernando went with four Professor Sycamore because of two things. The first for the draw and the second to help put energy in the discard for Malamar's ability. Next, he went with four copies of Guzma and in this build of Malamar, I like it. Playing Max Elixirs can make that Guzma play easier to achieve. Fernando also went with three Cynthia and two N. I personally would do that vise versa and play three N and two Cynthia because N is too important at times when needed most. The deck only plays two Tapu Lele-GX so if you had to use or discard them early means you will need to have N in hand already. The deck doesn't necessarily rely on a turn one Brigette. That is why there is just one in the deck. Mysterious Treasure allows you to play less Brigette because they can just grab Inkays while using a draw supporter at the same time.

4 Mysterious Treasure/3 Ultra Ball

Personally, I believe a maxed Mysterious Treasure and Ultra Ball count is overkill in this deck. However, you still want to have at least seven total combined. This way the deck is still very consistent. Tapu Lele-GX turn one will be an option most of your games for sure with this many outs in searching for one.

3 Max Elixir

Because the deck plays all Psychic Energy means Max Elixirs are very useful in this build as you are more likely to hit them. Max Elixirs allows the deck to less reliably need Malamar at times. The opponent may not see an attack coming because they see only one Malamar on board. However, that's where Max Elixir comes in the clutch to take that surprise KO.

3 Field Blower

Buzzwole/Garbodor has been seeing more and more success lately. Three Field Blowers is definitely the way to go in this build for sure. Parallel City is also troublesome. Getting rid of Fighting Fury Belts can come in handy as well to make for easier one-hit KOs.

3 Float Stone

Having access to Invasion is one thing but making sure you can freely go in and out of attackers is another thing. I think at least three Float Stone is the ideal amount that one should play. You can even argue going up to four but no less than three that's for sure. Having easy access to Malamar's ability is what the deck thrives on.

2 Rescue Stretcher

The deck plays a number of 1 of attackers meaning a couple Rescue Stretcher can go a long way. In the early turns, you can afford to just discard attackers if you don't want them as a liability right away. Having access to two Rescue Stretchers allows you to be more safe with benching Pokémon when you don't have to yet.

10 Psychic Energy

This is the perfect amount of energy for this deck. Mainly for the fact that the deck uses only 1 single type of energy making your Max Elixirs more efficient.

Other card options


This card combined with Necrozma-GX's Black Ray GX can be a force to reckoned with against Zoroark-GX decks. Once Black Ray GX hits a number of Zoroark-GX, Golisopod-GX, and Lycanroc-GX then Miraculous Shine can come in the clutch. Just be wary because the opponent can just toss their bench away with Parallel City denying you those easy KOs.

Mimikyu GRI 58

Mimikyu's attack, Copycat is situational for sure because you can only use it when the opponent has attacked you. However, Copycat only takes two energy meaning you can take a revenge KO easier with it. On the downside, Copycat cannot copy GX attacks which is a bummer, to say the least.

Mew FCO 29

This card can copy attacks from any of your Basic Pokémon. This means Mew can copy attacks like Prismatic Burst, Psystrike GX, and Moon's Eclipse GX. Mew is a non-GX so using these attacks can bounce you back in the prize lead. Or if you need to trade 1 for 1 prizes then Mew is a solid choice as an attacker. Mew only has 50 hit points so it'll likely get revenged KO pretty easily.

Giratina XY184 Promo

Obviously useful against Greninja decks so that you can shut off their Giant Water Shurikens. Not only that but Giratina can serve as an attacker against other Malamar decks as well as Buzzwole decks. Shadow Claw does 110 damage and lets you randomly discard 1 card from the opponent's hand. Taking a KO and disrupting the opponent's hand is pretty good. The only downside to Shadow Claw compared to all the other one prize Psychic attackers is that it takes four energy as opposed to three which can be a big deal at times.

Mewtwo SM77 Promo

Great card against the mirror and Buzzwole decks. On top of that Mewtwo is actually good against Greninja. Its ability reduces 20 damage done to the active and bench meaning Shadow Stitching will only do 20 damage to the active Mewtwo. Don't forget Mewtwo's ability, Pressure only works when it is in the active spot. Super Psy Bolt does a solid 100 damage which is enough to be a threat in the current format.

Dawn Wings Necrozma SM106 Promo

Can be useful in the mirror and Buzzwole decks to trade 1 prize for two prizes. Or to keep the prize trades even with 1 for 1 against four Baby Buzzwole. Its first attack, Gulf Stream can force the opponent to not attack into Dawn Wings Necrozma because Gulf Stream can be lethal if the opponent isn't careful. However, Sword of Dawn is what you will mainly want to use as it will be able to one hit KO a number of relevant Pokémon in the mirror and Buzzwole decks as I mentioned. The downside is that Dawn Wings Necrozma can get one hit KOed by Zoroark-GX with ease.

Lunala Prism Star

Another solid 1 prize attacker that can be great against other Malamar decks and Buzzwole decks. Lunala can be very powerful with enough energy on the board potentially one hit KOing any Pokémon because of its Psystorm attack. It does 20 damage times each energy in play. You can rack up damage in no time with Malamar and Max Elixir. Its first attack, Full Moon Star isn't too bad especially against Garbodor decks that would otherwise deny you of Malamar's ability. Just be wary that Zoroark-GX can take out Lunala with one blow.

Oranguru SUM 113

This deck doesn't play any form of a non-supporter draw so having Oranguru for late-game Ns can come in handy. However, the deck doesn't need Oranguru personally because all you need are attackers once Malamar is on the field.


Lillie can refresh your hand up to eight meaning if you had a couple Inkay beforehand then your next turn should be crazy good. Another draw supporter can never hurt the deck but if anything gives the deck more consistency.

Fighting Fury Bet

If you want to win more against Buzzwole decks then Fighting Fury Belt is the way to go. Having beefy 220+ hit point attackers can go along way even against Zoroark-GX decks.

Super Rod

The deck plays Max Elixirs. Putting Psychic Energy back into the deck can result in hitting Max Elixir more efficiently.

Parallel City

Disrupting the opponent's bench can always come in the clutch. Especially against the mirror match which can force the opponent to have to discard attackers. Or even against Zoroark-GX decks where you may have to force them to discard Zorua, Wimpod, or even Rockruff.

Closing Thoughts

That will conclude this article on two strong Malamar variants for the upcoming NAIC. I personally am more of a fan of the Hoopa variant as I believe it is more consistent than the other. Though the other variant has a better Zoroark-GX matchup, however, the Hoopa variant has a better Buzzwole-GX matchup. I'll definitely have one of these two decks as my top 3 deck choices for this weekend. If you are still chasing the Day 1 invite to Worlds and are relying on the NAIC then I hope the best for you and truly wish you are able to finish it off. Worlds is always a blast to attend whether or not you have the invite. If you see me this weekend at the NAIC feel free and come to say hi or take a picture with me. Love meeting new players and fans from all around the world.

If you want to help support my team, be sure to check out Team ARG's Pokémon page on Facebook: "Team ARG Pokémon-TCG." There you can keep up to date with all the players on the team. Also, check out and be sure to pick up some awesome dice and GX markers. They are by far my favorite dice to use and I recommend getting yourself at least two sets of any given color. I recently started coaching on so if you are interested then check them out to schedule an appointment or just pm me directly. Don't forget my Twitter handle is down below if you want to follow me for when I post lists and other exciting news.

If you have any questions, then please feel free to leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook. I'll be sure to get to them as soon as possible.

As always, if you enjoyed reading this article, then please consider giving it a thumbs up. If you want to see a specific type of article or topic next time, don't hesitate to give me ideas down below, and I'll consider them. As always, keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time!

-Twitter @Jose_MarreroTCG

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