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Zach Lesage

Breaking the Unbroken

Zach explains the new metagame that came with Unbroken Bonds and three of his top decks right now.

05/14/2019 by Zach Lesage

A Seasonal Recap

What’s up 60 Cards readers? It’s been a hot minute for me, but Zach is back and I have a juicy article for you today. For those of you who have been playing this game actively this season, you might have noticed that we have been playing with the same decks for what seems like the beginning of the season. We started out the season with Rayquaza GX (CLS; 109)  / Vikavolt (SUM; 52)  and Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  being the best decks out Celestial Storm, Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Oranguru (UPR; 114)  and Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  being the best decks out of Lost Thunder, and Zapdos (TM; 40)  / Jirachi (TM; 99)  and Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)  were the new inclusions from Team Up.

The only deck on that list that hasn’t seen success lately is Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Garbodor (GRI; 51) , but it has seen some light amount of success within the past few months. You might be wondering where I am getting with this and I’ll tell you in just a moment, hang in there with me. With the release of Unbroken Bonds, there are a bunch of cards that sound really cool just by looking at them. Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20) , Honchkrow GX (UBO; 109) , Lucario & Melmetal GX (UBO; 120) , Tripple Acceleration Energy (UBO; 190) , and the list can just go on and on. This is the biggest set that we have ever seen in the Pokémon Trading Card Game which means that there are going to be plenty of new decks that everyone wants to experiment with. With this being my first article that details over Unbroken Bonds, I want to shape the landscape of the metagame for you to get a head start for your testing. In this article, I will be detailing the best concepts coming out of this new set and let you know some of the strategies that haven’t worked out well for me yet. With all that being said, let’s jump into it.

Looking at the Contenders 

So you have looked through set reviews, you have opened a few boxes of Unbroken Bonds, and you have ordered the single cards that you need. Where do you start? With any new set coming out, it is quite often a daunting task to discover which deck you like and if it is even viable in the new format. Well, I have been doing testing with the new set for a week or so now and I wanted to let you know which strategies I have worked on or at least the strategies that I have seen people test out. It’s weird because I might like a concept such as Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Slowking (LT; 55)  and other players might dismiss it right away. Anyways, let’s look at what my expected metagame consists of:

Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)

Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)

Zapdos (TM; 40)  /  Jirachi (TM; 99)

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Slowking (LT; 55)

Gardevoir & Sylveon GX (UBO; 130)

Lucario & Melmetal GX (UBO; 120)  / Regigigas (CIN; 84)  /  Hoopa (SLG; 55)

Blacephalon (UBO; 32)  /  Salazzle (UBO; 31)

There are other decks that might crack this list and they all fall I to the category of the unknown decks. I am not talking about Unown (LT; 91) , but concepts that aren’t as easy to create or less popular decks in general. I guess the best way to put these concepts is that they are rogue decks for now or lesser archetypes at the moment. Here they are:

Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  /  Naganadel (LT; 108)

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Oranguru (UPR; 114)

Weezing (UBO; 74)  /  Tapu Lele (BW; 45)

Honchkrow GX (UBO; 109)

Blastoise GX (UBO; 35)  /  Blastoise (TM; 25)

Blissey (LT; 153)  / Welder (UBO; 189)  /  Tripple Acceleration Energy (UBO; 190)

Hitmonchan (TM; 74)  / Hitmonlee (TM; 73)  /  Hitmontop (LT; 113)

I am sure I could add a few more to that list, but those concepts are definitely the ones that seem the most promising in this format. If you have a deck idea that isn’t pet of either list, don’t fret, I am sure it can totally work. When a set gets this big, it is often easier for content creators, such as myself, to focus from the top down instead of the bottom up. If it still isn’t part of that list, you might be onto a seriously strong idea. Test it against all of the above decks and try your best to make it consistent. I’m sure it can work! 

For the rest of the article, I will be going over some of my favourite concepts from the set, decks that I have had a chance to test out more than others, and try to start shaping the metagame as soon as possible. One of the ideas that Mark Dizon and I have been thinking about doing for 60 Cards is including videos that we create in our articles. I might start doing that with Unbroken Bonds so let me know if you think it is a good idea going forward. Anyways, let’s look at these fairly polished concepts below and really get into this article.

Reshiram & Charizard-GX

This is the most hyped deck coming out of Unbroken Bonds and it is for good reasons too! Whoever decided to put Outrage on a 270 HP Pokémon clearly doesn’t understand how Pokémon works, but I guess we will take those. Outrage does 30 damage and an extra 10 for each damage counter on Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20) . In a hypothetical situation, a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  can hit for 150 damage because they have a Choice Band (GRI; 121)  and get return KO’d because we have a Choice Band (GRI; 121)  attached too.

The other two attacks are meant to OHKO a big threat and you need to choose wisely on which one to use. I usually go with Flare Strike first to preserve my GX attack for later in the game. The goal of this deck is to use Jirachi (TM; 99)  / Dedenne GX (UBO; 57)  to setup and to hit hard with Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20) . It’s not the most complex strategy, but it does seem to work in this format. A huge credit goes to Rukan Shao for inspiring me with his list that he showed me. I changed a handful of cards, but my original list was awful in comparison haha. Let’s check out this much better list!

There are a few cool tech cards in this list and they all serve different purposes. Miltank (CIN; 78)  can be utilized as an incredible heal card and it works great in combination with Welder (UBO; 189) . Marshadow (UBO; 81)  is a nifty card to punish Ultra Beast Pokémon, such as Buzzwole (FLI; 77) , but you can use its Ability in a pinch to remove a Power Plant (UBO; 183)  or any pesky Stadium in play. Remember, you can even remove Prism Star Stadiums, such as Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star (TM; 158) , with its Ability. I decided to include a Volcanion (UBO; 34)  to get around pesky single Prize Card attackers, but I might cut it for a Turtonator (DM; 50) . On one hand I have a Pokémon that can attack and setup, but on the other hand, I can have a higher damage cap with Turtonator (DM; 50) . Regardless, I will keep you all updated if I make that change. Keep in mind that Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  is the hot new deck from Unbroken Bonds and there will be counters to this deck. 

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX

This is a deck that we have seen high profile players have success with all throughout the Sun and Moon - Team Up format. Most recently, we have seen Gustavo Wada, the 2019 European International Champion, dominate with this deck in Berlin. This deck is absolutely wild because it has a bunch of HP, can self attach Energy, and it has a plethora of Lightning type techs available for it to use. The goal is to use Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) ’s Flare Blitz to power up another Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) . The goal is to hit the side effect of Tag Bolt GX to draw as many Prize Cards as possible and / or take out important threats. You have free Retreat because of Zeraora GX (LT; 201) , Energy acceleration from Tapu Koko Prism Star (TM; 51)  STAR, and Absol can keep those PESKY Jirachi (TM; 99)  in their place. The deck functions similar to other big basic decks, such as Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  and Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) , but it also seems like a fresh game mechanic at the same time. In order to make the deck run more efficient, use a combination of Thunder Mountain Prism Star (LT; 191) , Tapu Koko Prism Star (TM; 51) , and Energy Switch (CLS; 129)  to use Full Blitz as early as turn one. This Gustavo Wada inspired list also focuses on Zapdos (TM; 40)  and Jirachi (TM; 99)  to add an additional component into the deck. Let’s look at this electrifying list.

The two cards from Unbroken Bonds that I have added into this list are Dedenne-GX and Electromagnetic Radar. I think both of those cards make this deck slightly more consistent, but that is all there is to it. Dedenne GX (UBO; 57)  can attack, but I don’t know how strong that will end up being. I guess the GX attack can auto Paralyze, but I would rather save it to use Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) ’s Tag Bolt GX. Electromagnetic Radar (UBO; 230)  is a weird card because it can only grab Lightning-type GX Pokemon, but it does give you the option to grab an attacker ( Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) or Tapu Koko GX (GRI; 147) ) and either free Retreat ( Zeraora GX (LT; 201) ) or a setup Pokemon ( Dedenne GX (UBO; 57) ). I am sure we will see lists evolve over time, but this list has been a great start. 

Blacephalon / Salazzle

This deck has been hyped online and dissed online, but if the deck has Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  in it, I am always ready to dive in. I am personally in the middle with this deck and I might even be leaning towards this deck having more potential than most might see in it. The goal of this deck is to power up a Blacephalon (UBO; 32)  with Fire Energy (BUS; 167)  and use your available resources to get some big Knock Outs. Fiery Flint (DM; 60) , Fire Crystal (UBO; 173) , and all other similar cards work in combination to make sure that this deck can hit hard each turn. I have decided that Salazzle (UBO; 31)  is the best engine currently available to the deck and it has been more consistent than using Green's Exploration (UBO; 175)  in my testing. The deck is a really easy deck to pick up and play so let’s look at this list.

While this isn’t necessarily a tip to play the deck, it will certainly help you build it. It might be cheaper to purchase discounted Dragon Majesty promo boxes than picking up a play set of Fiery Flint (DM; 60) . Additionally, you can look through your local store’s trainer bulk or look through your own bulk. The card is hovering between six and ten dollars at the time of this writing so you might want to act quickly on acquiring this card! 

The Season is Almost Done!

And just like that, the article is done! I hope you have enjoyed it and that you put the above information to great use. For those of you who don’t know, we are almost done with this season of competitive play. There are only two Regional Championships left on North America, a handful of major events around the world, and we have the 2019 North American International Championships coming up in about a month. It’s absolutely bonkers how quickly this season has flown by, but I guess everything just come to an end. If you are still fighting for a Worlds invite, give it all you got and if you are looking to get in some testing for the 2019/2020 season.

As for me, I am in a weird position. With my Day 2 finish at Hartford Regionals last week, I have now hit my Best Finish Limit for Regionals. My lowest placement, Top 64, is what I am looking to replace, but how can I reasonably replace that? As much as players look up to me as a top player in the game, I can’t just make Top 32 without trying. It is one of those things where I feel I can make Top 32, but I can’t guarantee it. Even if I could, that is me walking away with 10 CP and a small amount of money. After looking at my 1600+ CP that I have earned this season, I have decided that I don’t need to attend Santa Clara Regionals next weekend. My Day 2 invite to Worlds is already cemented and I don’t want to fight for minuscule amounts of Championship Points. That being said, my next event will be Madison Regionals because I can drive to that event to lower costs. I will still go to the North American International Championships too! I have had a successful season and I am grateful to be in this position right now. Best of luck to those who are still in the race for whatever they are racing towards. If you want to see more of my journey, follow me on my social media:

Twitch: twitch.tv/zlesagepokemon

Twitter: Twitter.com/zlesagepokemon

Facebook: Zach Lesage (PM me for coaching)

I also have open slots for coaching so if you are interested, please reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook.

Thanks,

Zach Lesage

[+25] okko


 

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