Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Wanna Win? Choose Blacephalon!

Zach showcases his updated BLOWNS list and goes into full detail. Check it out!

01/29/2019 by Zach Lesage

Standard on my Mind

Suhhhh 60 Cards readers, it’s ya boi Zach aka Blacephalesage aka me, with the intentions on selling you on the concept of Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108) . As you might be aware, I have used this specific deck to make Top Eight at the LAIC in São Paulo, BR, Top 16 in Roanoke, and have had a strong run with it at League Cups / Challenges. It’s one part pet deck for me and the other half is just beast mode. I strongly consider this deck the best deck in the format and I would love for the readers of this article to see success with the deck! After playing Expanded for both Anaheim and Dallas, I am sure players are somewhat lost in the Standard format. That being said, peak into this article behind the paywall for my take on the best Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  /  Naganadel (LT; 108)  list available mixed with some hot takes on the match ups surrounding the metagame right now. Three. Two. One. Lift off!!

Oh, wait, I’m gonna slow it down for just one quick minute here to give you a preview of our week at 60 Cards. If all goes according to plan, we should have some FRESH articles by Mark Dizon, Jose Marrero, and Daniel Altavilla. On top of all that, I should have four articles to release myself as we close out the Lost Thunder Standard format. There is always the possibility of us releasing more articles by some fresh faces so be sure to keep on the lookout for some BIG news coming from us. Heading into February, we will have a direct focus on covering the metagame for the OIC in Melbourne, AU, which is the same format as Collinsville Regionals. I want to reassure all of the readers that 60 Cards is going to be poppin’ off in the hands of Mark Dizon and myself, we have plans in the works. Ok, now we can actually lift off. Catch ya behind the paywall...

BLOWNS is Busted!

So if that intro didn’t hype you up, let’s get down to business! If you have read any of my previous articles, you would completely understand that Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  is a speedy deck. For those parents or newer players reading this article, the deck has a lower skill cap than most which means it generally has a higher chance to do well.


Don’t take offence if you choose to play this deck, I did too with great success, I’m just saying it doesn’t take much skill to Marshadow (SLG; 45)  your opponent into nothing while you draw three Beast Ring (FLI; 102) . The general strategy of this deck consists of attacking with Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  to take down bigger threats while you acquire Energy with Naganadel (LT; 108)  and Beast Ring (FLI; 102) . Burst GX is a spicy attack that can grab an Energy in a pinch, but do be careful of getting a leg up on your opponent; when you are ahead on Prize Cards they can use Counter Catcher (CIN; 91) , Counter Gain (LT; 170) , and Counter Energy (CIN; 100) . The general game plan is to use Burst GX on your first turn, follow it up with a Mind Blown, and finish off the game with Mind Blown. You can always use Naganadel (LT; 108)  when you have three Prize Cards remaining, but don’t necessarily count on that being a huge strategy because cards like Guzma (BUS; 115)  do exist. If you find yourself running behind, you can always leave the game to Special Conditions by using Bursting Burn. Here is an excerpt from my past article that shows some additional strategies available within the deck.


“Starting with Poipole (FLI; 55) , I truly believe this is the better one because you can instantly do 10 damage because of Poison and that can make a world of a difference. You see, Pokémon like Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  now only need to take four Energy to get OHKOd with Mind Blown and that can change the pace of a game. The other Poipole (LT; 107) , has a similar action, because you can know where your Fire Energy (GEN; 76)  is, but you might be costing yourself a turn by doing that. While I might have some future back and forth on which one to choose, it likely won’t matter at all because you don’t really want to attack with Poipole (FLI; 55)  if you don’t have to. It’s one of those things where if you find yourself in a certain situation, which one will pull you out more times than the other? I’m sure you can vibe my stance here.” Anyways, let’s hop into this deck list.

The biggest thing about this deck is the inclusion of two Marshadow (SLG; 45) ! I am an advocate for Marshadow (SLG; 45)  getting hit with a ban in Standard because it’s ridiculous to have a card throw a game into the blender, but let’s use it while we can. My general game plan is to use Marshadow (SLG; 45)  on the first turn of the game, if my opponent has five or more cards in their hand, and use the second Marshadow (SLG; 45) during the latter half of the same game. Think about it like this, you are using Burst GX, drawing a Prize Card, your opponent is now at four cards. In what world does that ever sound bad? I have used this strategy to the tune of 400+ CP and approximately 5000$ in tournament winnings. The biggest issue that I have with this deck is that it can suffer from a poor match up to single Prize Card attacking decks. This includes Granbull (LT; 138) , Lost March ( Natu (LT; 87) / Jumpluff (LT; 14) ), and Tapu Koko (BW; 31)  spread. Alolan Muk (SUM; 58)  is an answer, you can cut a Naganadel (LT; 108)  / Poipole (FLI; 55)  for an Alolan Muk (SUM; 58)  / Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154) , but I would rather take the loss. You can always beat those decks, and if a deck is going to suddenly win, it’s gonna be Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108) . If you are seriously worried about these decks, go ahead and tech for them, but it’s at the expense of your deck becoming less consistent.

The biggest card that I am considering right now, besides Big Malasada (SUM; 114)  (like always), is Rescue Stretcher (GRI; 130) . I have recently been finding that I will randomly Burst GX away a Marshadow (SLG; 45)  or Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) . Uh, what else... Naganadel (LT; 108) ! Yeah, that one annoys me a lot too. I think having an out to get back some of these cards back or all of them back could be a worthwhile investment in the deck. I’m not entirely sure, but it might find it’s way in the list. Potential cuts would be a Naganadel (LT; 108) , Energy Switch (CLS; 129) , Choice Band (GRI; 121) , or a Fire Energy (GEN; 76) . Before doing any changes to the above list, you do need to realize that the above deck is absolute flames! Even when I am not having success with that list, you can actually fact check me on my Twitter and see that plenty of other players have used my EXACT list to success. 

The Match Ups

These match ups are popular at the time of writing, feel free to peep them all out and learn how to play this deck like an expert. Here is another bit taken from one of my past articles, but it does explain the match ups quite well:

Zoroark-GX / Decidueye-GX / Alolan Ninetales-GX

This match up hovers between slightly favourable and even, but it truly depends on the coin flip to see how close this match up gets. If they go first, use Professor Elm's Lecture (LT; 188) , and get out Alolan Vulpix (GRI; 21) , Rowlet (SUM; 9) , and Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154)  you are going to be in for a rocky game.If you go first, use Marshadow (SLG; 45)  on your first turn, and then play a Lillie for eight, you are in business. Similar to the Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  match up, you usually want to use Burst GX early and follow it up with a Mind Blown on a single Prize Card Pokémon. Once you get into the thick of the game, you want to prepare yourself to take back-to-back double Prize Card Knock Outs so you can either have enough Energy in play or try to focus on Knocking Out Decidueye GX (SUM; 12) . The one truck that you have to worry about is that Alolan Ninetales GX (LT; 132)  can snipe around your field and potentially put you into a position where you can’t use Beast Ring (FLI; 102) .

Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX

This is actually one of the most favourable match ups for Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  because Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  can’t keep up. It doesn’t matter if they use Dangerous Rogue GX or if they get a big OHKO with Riotous Beating, they just can’t keep up.

Similar to most match ups, you want to steal a Prize Card early with Burst GX and follow it up by Knocking Out either a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  or a single Prize Card Pokémon. You should be at either three or four Prize Cards at this point and you will need to Knock Out two Pokémon regardless of whatever your opponent throws your way. At this point, it doesn’t matter if they are able to Knock Out a Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  because you can easily use Beast Ring (FLI; 102)  to power up a Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  and clear a path for you to win the game.

Blacephalon-GX / Naganadel

This is actually the most ridiculous match up because it will involve someone using Bursting Burn, someone using Burst GX and usually a player will miss their turn of Beast Ring (FLI; 102)  due to variance. I have played the mirror match about 20 times now and I still haven’t figured out a great game plan beyond using Bursting Burn to slow them down, but that only works if I am behind. The best advice that I can give you is to take bountiful leaps in this match up by racing to four Prize Cards first. If you win that race and follow it up with Beast Ring (FLI; 102) , you should have a solid chance at winning overall!

Granbull / Magcargo

Granbull (LT; 138)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  is definitely a match up where you would love to have Alolan Muk (SUM; 58)  / Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154)  in your deck because it will definitely give you an edge by shutting off Oranguru (SUM; 113) . If your opposing is unable to use Oranguru (SUM; 113) , they won’t be able to draw the top card of their deck that has been stacked by Magcargo (CLS; 24) , and they won’t be able to max damage out with All In on Granbull (LT; 138) . If you don’t have Alolan Muk (SUM; 58) , try to our pace your opponent by using Burst GX early and focus on Knocking Out their Magcargo (CLS; 24)  as early as possible. Alternatively, if your opponent struggles to get out Snubbull (LT; 137) , you can Knock Out those Pokémon to isolate their Granbull (LT; 138) . This match up is rough because they can chain Diantha (FLI; 105) , use All In with Choice Band (GRI; 121) , and Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  can really add up.

Gardevoir-GX / Swampert / Alolan Ninetales-GX

The only 'big' match up that wasn't explained in the snippet of my past article is Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93)  / Swampert (CLS; 35)  / Alolan Ninetales GX (LT; 132) . This games is basically you trying to outpace your opponent, utilizing Naganadel (LT; 108)  when you have three Prize Cards remaining, and getting your copies of Beast Ring (FLI; 102)  when you need them.

If your opponent is able to utilize Swampert (CLS; 35)  to tackle down multiple Blacephalon GX (LT; 52) , you are gonna be in hot water really quick. Don’t Bench too many GX Pokémon, attack with single Prize Card Pokemon when you can, and always try to Marshadow (SLG; 45)  your opponent into nothing whenever possible.

Team Up Ideas?

If you are reading this article looking for some advice on the Team Up Standard format, I’m gonna start off with anything from this point is just an educated guess. With some hefty Pokémon coming out with plenty of HP, look at Magikarp & Wailord GX (BW; 166)  for example, you gotta realize that Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  is one of the only ways to Knock Out those monsters in a single swing. The issue is figuring out which single Prize Card attackers are going to be played in the format. Early predictions show that Zapdos / Jirachi (TM; 99)  is going to see significant play, but it also hasn’t interacted with Tag Team Pokémon due to the release schedule in Japan. Regardless, the staff and I will be updating all of you readers on the format as we learn it’s ins and outs.

Grindin’ Special Events

Thats it for today readers! I hope that you enjoyed this article on my current Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  list and that you can grab some easy CP with the deck in the process. As for me, I have finished my League Cups / League Challenges with a perfect 130 CP this quarter and I plan on going to two more major events. This week I am off to the Mexico City Special Event with my girlfriend Michele and the week after I am off to Melbourne, AU for the 2019 Oceania International Championships by myself. This season is crazy! Remember to have fun, showcase the upmost Spirit of the Game, and be a true competitor. If you wanna follow me on my journey, check out my Social Media (follow me too):

Twitter: zlesage_pokemon
Coaching: Team DDG PTCG Coaching
Personal Coaching: Message me on Facebook
YouTube: Team DDG PTCG

Best of luck,

[+27] okko


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