State of the Meta — The Power Four and How to Beat Them


In addition to the various local tournaments happening online, we now have the first results of a major event in the Rebel Clash Standard format. A PTCGO tournament series that attracted more than a thousand players happened last weekend to give us a good look at the new metagame. At the same time, Pokemon has announced an official Players Cup online event for the summer! Frequent PTCGO players can now put their tournament tickets to good use throughout the month of June to qualify for the July main event and the international finals in August. It’s not an International Championship and it’s not Worlds, but it will give the community something to follow and a reason to care about the current Standard format.

The Players Cup

I’m not terribly happy with the structure that TPCi chose for this tournament—specifically, with the Players Cup qualification in July being based on Tournament Rep in June on your success in in-game PTCGO tournaments. Not only have these tournaments never been especially competitive but they require tickets to enter, which means that players who have been playing for longer and have accumulated tournament tickets during their months or years of play are at an advantage. Conversely, many players who don’t have a lot of tickets feel like they shouldn’t bother to participate. They can grind tickets on the ladder but so can players who have hundreds of them, so they’ll be left behind. With no best finish limit for in-game tournaments, it’s almost impossible to catch up to the players that have a head start.

That is assuming equal skill level, of course. A talented player will perform better overall in these tournaments and get more Tournament Rep for the same amount of tickets. But not even the best player in the world is safe from a bad starting hand in a best of one, single elimination tournament. Or worse, a terrible matchup in the first round.

The sad part is that this system doesn’t only disadvantage newer players, but those that used their tournament tickets to win Rebel Clash online booster packs when the set came out. These players had no way of knowing that they would need these tickets only one month later and may feel betrayed. They were effectively punished for engaging with some PTCGO features.

Overall, I appreciate that TPCi is making an effort to keep their player base’s attention and this first attempt could be the first move in a series of changes that would give the Pokemon TCG a real online competitive scene. It’s not too late to make changes to ensure all players are on an equal footing at the start of the month. For example, tournaments in the month of June could be accessed using a new type of tournament ticket. A best finish limit would ensure that the quality of players’ tournament runs is what matters most, not their quantity. Hopefully by the time this article is published, a clarification on this topic will have been made.

If you’re planning on trying your luck at the Players Cup or if you’re competing in other online competitions, it’s a good time to review the state of the metagame to understand what are the best Standard format decks and how to counter them.

The Big Four

There are currently four decks which stand clearly above the rest of the metagame. In no specific order, they are [card name=”Pikachu and Zekrom-GX” set=”Team Up” no=”33″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Dragapult VMAX” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”93″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”156″ c=”name”][/card] / [card name=”Zacian V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”138″ c=”name”][/card], and [card name=”Blacephalon” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”32″ c=”name”][/card]. The first three use powerful three-Prize Pokemon and a tendency to start their attacks on turn 2. Pikachu and Zekrom-GX can sometimes use Full Blitz on the first turn and has the option of using [card name=”Boltund V” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”67″ c=”name”][/card]’s Electrify if it doesn’t, but its defining Full Blitz attack usually happens on turn 2. Blacephalon as a one-Prize attacker is a bit different. It can require a bit more time to setup and is more dependant on its hand (therefore weaker to hand disruption). But if you let it do its thing, it will win the Prize race against all the other decks.

I won’t cover each deck in detail since neither of the four options are new and other articles have already analyzed them. However, I do want to give some quick updates on how the lists have evolved and how they can be countered.

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Pikachu and Zekrom-GX

[cardimg name=”Pikachu and Zekrom-GX” set=”Team Up” no=”33″ align=”right” c=”none”][/cardimg]

Pikachu and Zekrom-GX might be the best deck in the format right now thanks to its speed and variety of attackers. As I wrote in a recent article, I believe the best approach is not to play any one-Prize Pokemon in order to beat Dragapult VMAX (apart from [card name=”Tapu Koko Prism Star” set=”Team Up” no=”51″ c=”name”][/card] and [card name=”Marshadow” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”81″ c=”name”][/card] that don’t stay in play). Many Pikachu and Zekrom-GX players have taken this approach, although others did play [card name=”Jirachi” set=”Team Up” no=”99″ c=”name”][/card]—but not many. Against Dragapult VMAX, they try not to bench Jirachi. Other one-Prize Pokemon such as [card name=”Oranguru” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”148″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Absol” set=”Team Up” no=”88″ c=”name”][/card], or [card name=”Zapdos” set=”Team Up” no=”40″ c=”name”][/card] are uncommon choices in this deck.

Not many players are using [card name=”Tag Call” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”206″ c=”name”][/card], with most favoring a Supporter base of [card name=”Volkner” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”135″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Professor’s Research” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”178″ c=”name”][/card] and [card name=”Boss’s Orders” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”154″ c=”name”][/card] plus a few copies of [card name=”Marnie” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”169″ c=”name”][/card]. Kim Pobega, who won a recent PTCGO tournament series had a very interesting approach as he chose not to play Volkner at all. As useful as Volkner can be to grab a specific Item card ([card name=”Tool Scrapper” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”168″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Reset Stamp” set=”Unified Minds” no=”206″ c=”name”][/card] and [card name=”Electropower” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”172″ c=”name”][/card] come to mind), it’s not as good now since the deck doesn’t need to search for [card name=”Custom Catcher” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”171″ c=”name”][/card]. In many cases, your first Volkner will grab an [card name=”Electromagnetic Radar” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”169″ c=”name”][/card] to get [card name=”Dedenne-GX” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”57″ c=”name”][/card] and an important Pokemon-GX so it makes sense to play more direct draw Supporters instead. The only thing I dislike is its inability to find Reset Stamp. Maybe it’s possible to play one or two copies of Volkner for the late game, especially if you’re including [card name=”Eldegoss V” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”19″ c=”name”][/card] in the list.

If you’re trying to counter Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, you should be thinking about [card name=”Mew” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”76″ c=”name”][/card]. Note that Pikachu and Zekrom-GX is not as helpless against Mew as it was in the early days of the season. In the mirror match it’s possible to KO Mew thanks to Boss’s Orders, then take the last five Prizes in one turn with Tag Bolt GX. That said, a well-timed Mew can be strong. Many Pikachu and Zekrom-GX lists are using a high count of [card name=”Energy Switch” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”162″ c=”name”][/card] and [card name=”Tag Switch” set=”Unified Minds” no=”209″ c=”name”][/card] to spread Energy around but move them to Pikachu and Zekrom-GX if there’s a chance to use Tag Bolt GX, something that’s important in the mirror match. Relying on Mew instead for that matchup means that you don’t have to fear a huge power turn from your opponent. Additionally, not playing too many Energy Switch is nice since it can be a dead card if you have several [card name=”Speed L Energy” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”173″ c=”name”][/card] in play.

Dragapult VMAX

This deck is living up to its hype. [card name=”Dragapult VMAX” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”93″ c=”name”][/card] performed very well despite many players teching for it, with [card name=”Crushing Hammer” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”159″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Team Yell Grunt” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”184″ c=”name”][/card] and other forms of Energy denial along with anti-Dragapult VMAX strategies such as Pikachu and Zekrom-GX not playing Jirachi.

Overall, Dragapult VMAX’s strength is its ability to get additional Prizes against low-HP Pokemon, which makes it strong against decks with Jirachi. Since these decks usually play [card name=”Scoop Up Net” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”165″ c=”name”][/card], I think [card name=”Mr. Mime” set=”Team Up” no=”66″ c=”name”][/card] is a must have. Both Dragapult VMAX players in Top 8 of a recent PTCGO tournament series had it in their lists. I already explained last week why I thought Mr. Mime was a great addition to the deck, so I won’t repeat myself here. I’ll reiterate that [card name=”Nihilego” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”106″ c=”name”][/card] is underappreciated. I find more uses for Nihilego the more games I play with it.

With Tool Scrapper use not widespread, [card name=”Giant Bomb” set=”Unified Minds” no=”196″ c=”name”][/card] has been finding some popularity in the deck. Giant Bomb is useful against Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX since Ultimate Ray hits for 180 damage after Altered Creation GX. With [card name=”Horror P Energy” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”172″ c=”name”][/card], it can KO Blacephalon when it attacks. On the flip side, Pikachu and Zekrom-GX players can avoid it by using Full Blitz or [card name=”Raichu and Alolan Raichu-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”54″ c=”name”][/card]’s Tandem Shock. Plus, the card is completely useless in the mirror match. In my own experience, it doesn’t make or break the Blacephalon matchup. Reset Stamp (which is universally useful) and Mr. Mime’s Scoop Up Block Ability already make the matchup favored for Dragapult VMAX. I don’t want to tell you not to play Giant Bomb because its important for the Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V.

If you want to tech against Dragapult VMAX, one option is Energy denial—I’ll refer you to my article on how it can be used and what Dragapult VMAX can do against it. I also want to mention [card name=”Sky Pillar” set=”Celestial Storm” no=”144″ c=”name”][/card]. Many Dragapult VMAX lists only play one Stadium card so if Sky Pillar stays in play, it can completely stop Dragapult VMAX’s plan of attack. If you’re playing a low-HP deck that gets destroyed by Max Phantom (something like [card name=”Jumpluff” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”14″ c=”custom”]Lost March[/card], although this specific deck might be a lost cause as far as its Dragapult VMAX matchup is concerned), consider playing a few copies of Sky Pillar! This is true for Mill or Control decks too which can win the Stadium war thanks to [card name=”Oranguru” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”114″ c=”name”][/card] and [card name=”Lusamine” set=”Crimson Invasion” no=”96″ c=”name”][/card].

Consider using [card name=”Hoopa” set=”Unified Minds” no=”140″ c=”name”][/card] as a secondary attacker. Between Jirachi, [card name=”Malamar” set=”Forbidden Light” no=”51″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Phione” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”57″ c=”name”][/card], Mew, Marshadow, Oranguru, [card name=”Galarian Zigzagoon” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”117″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Giratina” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”97″ c=”name”][/card] and more, Dragapult VMAX decks will have a couple of Pokemon with Abilities on the Bench. If they have three of them in play, Hoopa’s Evil Admonition deals 140 damage after Weakness. It isn’t a 2HKO but can be one if it comes after another attack such as Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX’s Ultimate Ray or Pikachu and Zekrom-GX’s Full Blitz. Hoopa has Psychic resistance so if it doesn’t attack into a Horror P Energy, it will survive Max Phantom and you can use Scoop Up Net to return it back to your hand. Hoopa can help against other Pokemon too such as [card name=”Oricorio-GX” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”95″ c=”name”][/card] in Blacephalon. Of course, you should only play Hoopa if it makes sense in your deck. Remember that if it’s the only one-Prize Pokemon you’ll use against Dragapult VMAX, it could help them instead. For example, it clashes with the no one-Prize Pokemon strategy of several Pikachu and Zekrom-GX lists. That said, given how easy Hoopa is to tech it deserved a mention.

Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V

This deck performed the worst compared to the other three-Prize decks recently, which means it might be the best positioned for upcoming events. People are not teching too much against it, but [card name=”Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”156″ c=”name”][/card] / [card name=”Zacian V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”138″ c=”name”][/card] is an absolute powerhouse and Altered Creation GX is a format-defining attack.

If Dragapult VMAX punishes decks that rely on low-HP support Pokemon such as Jirachi, Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V punishes those that rely on Dedenne-GX. Taking a KO on Dedenne-GX for three Prizes then another Pokemon is this deck’s easiest path to victory in many matchups. Focusing on this line of play makes this deck’s [card name=”Pikachu and Zekrom-GX” set=”Team Up” no=”33″ c=”name”][/card] matchup better.

It’s possible to play Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V like Pikachu and Zekrom-GX and avoid using any one-Prize Pokemon in order to improve the Dragapult VMAX matchup. Although Dragapult VMAX can’t be OHKO’d, it has a hard time dealing with the damage output of the deck’s main attackers—you only need to KO one Dragapult VMAX for four Prizes then take the last two Prizes from some easy target on the Bench (or in the reverse order).

It’s important to play [card name=”Jirachi” set=”Team Up” no=”99″ c=”name”][/card]. If you’re committed to having one-Prize Pokemon in your deck, you can add Oranguru, whose Primate Wisdom Ability combines very well with Zacian V’s Intrepid Sword, and Mew, an effective support Pokemon against Pikachu and Zekrom-GX.

The reason why I recommend having Jirachi and Oranguru in your deck is because they work very well with [card name=”Custom Catcher” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”171″ c=”name”][/card]. That’s right, Custom Catcher is worth playing! [card name=”Boss’s Orders” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”154″ c=”name”][/card] is good but Custom Catcher can be played alongside a draw Supporter. Having more gust options is important in this deck because a Jirachi KO gives you two Prizes instead of one, and a KO on [card name=”Dedenne-GX” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”57″ c=”name”][/card] gets you three Prizes instead of two. Don’t cut them and add a variety of options. Boss’s Orders, [card name=”Eldegoss V” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”19″ c=”name”][/card], Custom Catcher, and [card name=”Great Catcher” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”192″ c=”name”][/card] are all powerful.

The other card I’d recommend is Sky Pillar, which I mentioned earlier. [card name=”Chaotic Swell” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”187″ c=”name”][/card] remains a powerful option, but Sky Pillar is good against Dragapult VMAX and Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, which plays only one Stadium. Sky Pillar is not as good against Blacephalon, as it hates Chaotic Swell shutting off [card name=”Heat Factory Prism Star” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”178″ c=”name”][/card]. Since most Blacephalon lists are playing [card name=”Cramorant V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”155″ c=”name”][/card], Sky Pillar has its uses in this matchup as well. Here’s an example of a list:

[decklist name=”ADP Custom Catcher” amt=”60″ caption=”” cname=”Zacian V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”138″][pokemon amt=”12″]2x [card name=”Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”156″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]3x [card name=”Zacian V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”138″ c=”deck2″ amt=”3″][/card]3x [card name=”Jirachi” set=”Team Up” no=”99″ c=”deck2″ amt=”3″][/card]2x [card name=”Dedenne-GX” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”57″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Oranguru” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”148″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Eldegoss V” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”19″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card][/pokemon][trainers amt=”38″]4x [card name=”Professor’s Research” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”178″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]2x [card name=”Marnie” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”169″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Boss’s Orders” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”154″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”1″][/card]4x [card name=”Quick Ball” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”179″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]4x [card name=”Metal Saucer” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”170″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]4x [card name=”Custom Catcher” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”171″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]3x [card name=”Acro Bike” set=”Primal Clash” no=”122″ c=”deck2″ amt=”3″][/card]4x [card name=”Switch” set=”HeartGold and SoulSilver” no=”102″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]2x [card name=”Energy Switch” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”162″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Cherish Ball” set=”Unified Minds” no=”191″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Energy Spinner” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”170″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Reset Stamp” set=”Unified Minds” no=”206″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Great Catcher” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”192″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Escape Board” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”122″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”1″][/card]2x [card name=”Sky Pillar” set=”Celestial Storm” no=”144″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”2″][/card][/trainers][energy amt=”10″]2x [card name=”Water Energy” set=”EX Emerald” no=”103″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]8x [card name=”Metal Energy” set=”Evolutions” no=”98″ c=”deck2″ amt=”8″][/card][/energy][/decklist] 

It isn’t easy to tech against Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V. Energy denial can help but many lists play [card name=”Energy Switch” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”162″ c=”name”][/card]. Some decks can try to use a specific strategy. Pikachu and Zekrom-GX could try playing several [card name=”Big Charm” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”158″ c=”name”][/card] and play as few Dedenne-GX as possible. If you can stick Big Charm on a Dedenne-GX, it’s out of Ultimate Ray range. Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V players could have [card name=”Tool Scrapper” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”168″ c=”name”][/card], [card name=”Vitality Band” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”185″ c=”name”][/card] or Galarian Zigzagoon, but it’s a bit harder to play. Against lists that use Custom Catcher, [card name=”Marnie” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”169″ c=”name”][/card] can prevent them from getting the combo early. Play Marnie when the Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V player is going into their third turn, when they’re looking to use Ultimate Ray on your Dedenne-GX!

Blacephalon

[cardimg name=”Blacephalon” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”32″ align=”right” c=”none”][/cardimg]

I must admit I made mistakes. When Rebel Clash approached, I sang the praises of a [card name=”Blacephalon” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”32″ c=”name”][/card] list with Mr. Mime and [card name=”Jirachi Prism Star” set=”Celestial Storm” no=”97″ c=”name”][/card] to take additional Prizes. However, it seems that the lists that had the most success were those who stayed closer to the previous format using cards like Cramorant V, [card name=”Victini V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”25″ c=”name”][/card], and [card name=”Beast Bringer” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”164″ c=”name”][/card]. The [card name=”Scoop Up Net” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”165″ c=”name”][/card] engine was included and cards like Phione and [card name=”Absol” set=”Team Up” no=”88″ c=”name”][/card] were removed but overall, many successful players didn’t change their approach to the deck as radically as I did. I especially underestimated Victini V. The card doesn’t make a lot of sense as a Mill counter now that Mill seems to have disappeared from the format. However, Energy Burst is a strong attack against [card name=”Pikachu and Zekrom-GX” set=”Team Up” no=”33″ c=”name”][/card], since it threatens a Pikachu and Zekrom-GX that has five or six Energy preparing for Tag Bolt GX (your opponent will do to win the matchup). In theory, Blacephalon should beat Pikachu and Zekrom-GX but with a little bit of hand disruption, I’ve found that Pikachu and Zekrom-GX can actually outspeed Blacephalon to win before Blacephalon can catch up. In this matchup, Beast Bringer is much better than Jirachi Prism Star, which you don’t have time to set up to use.

Generally, I thought Beast Bringer would become worse because of the lower amount of Pokemon-GX. This is partly true, but several top decks still rely on Pokemon-GX. Plus, against [card name=”Dragapult VMAX” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”93″ c=”name”][/card] you don’t need a mechanic to take extra Prize cards anyway since you’ll win by taking a KO on two Dragapult VMAX.

That said, I don’t think Jirachi Prism Star was a bad idea. In the Blacephalon mirror match, a list with Jirachi Prism Star is favored against one that doesn’t have it. Beast Bringer is almost useless in this matchup and without hand disruption you’ll manage to get Oranguru, Mr. Mime and Jirachi Prism Star in hand at some point in the game; so the player that uses this combo is basically up one Prize over their opponent. In addition, if [card name=”Cramorant V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”155″ c=”name”][/card] is very good to finish games, I believe that [card name=”Mew” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”76″ c=”name”][/card] will rise in popularity (also due to Pikachu and Zekrom-GX’s dominance), so Cramorant V should become worse than it was last weekend.

Consider [card name=”Dubwool V” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”153″ c=”name”][/card] if you’re looking for an alternative way to finish games. While it can’t snipe [card name=”Dedenne-GX” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”57″ c=”name”][/card], for the same cost Dubwool V can deal up to 270 damage in the late game to KO most Pokemon. It has effectively 240 HP (thanks to its Ability) so it’s not that easy to return KO. Pikachu and Zekrom-GX needs to either expend two [card name=”Electropower” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”172″ c=”name”][/card] or use [card name=”Raichu and Alolan Raichu-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”54″ c=”name”][/card]’s Lightning Ride GX to KO it. But they shouldn’t have this option since they need to use Tag Bolt GX to keep up in the Prize race.

For a Blacephalon counter, [card name=”Tapu Fini” set=”Unified Minds” no=”53″ c=”name”][/card] is an option. It doesn’t autowin by itself, but it can improve a difficult matchup. I think that increasing the amount of hand disruption is very strong. Marnie is usually what lets Pikachu and Zekrom-GX survive one more turn and win the Prize race.

Thinking Outside the Box

So, is there any deck that can beat this top four? Probably not one that wins consistently against all of them, no—such a deck would instantly become tier 1. Your best bet to qualify for the Players Cup is most likely to play one of these four decks. However, there are other good ideas below tier 1 that can be perfectly fine plays and optimal ones in the right metagame! Here are some ideas.

Galarian Obstagoon

This seems like a perfect counter to the top four decks. Three of them only play Basic Pokemon and [card name=”Dragapult VMAX” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”93″ c=”name”][/card] is weak to Darkness so it can be OHKO by [card name=”Sableye V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”120″ c=”name”][/card]. In addition, some cards that used to give [card name=”Galarian Obstagoon” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”119″ c=”name”][/card] trouble such as [card name=”Phione” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”57″ c=”name”][/card] are seeing less play now. If you’re the type of player that wants to counter the metagame, Galarian Obstagoon is one of the best plays. Grant Manley wrote a piece about this deck recently!

Dark Box

Sticking with the idea of playing a Darkness-type deck to beat Dragapult VMAX, we can try to make Dark Box work once more. The deck can now use [card name=”Scoop Up Net” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”165″ c=”name”][/card] in combination with [card name=”Darkrai Prism Star” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”77″ c=”name”][/card] for a unique form of Energy acceleration. Put Darkrai Prism Star on the Bench with one or two Darkness Energy using its Nightmare Star Ability, move them to other Pokemon with [card name=”Weavile-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”132″ c=”name”][/card], take Darkrai Prism Star back to your hand, repeat. In theory, the deck has a lot of options. [card name=”Umbreon and Darkrai-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”125″ c=”name”][/card]’s Dark Moon GX can OHKO anything, [card name=”Mega Sableye and Tyranitar-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”126″ c=”name”][/card] can take additional Prizes with Greedy Crush (on Dedenne-GX for example) and so can [card name=”Guzzlord” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”136″ c=”name”][/card] with Red Banquet (usually against smaller targets like Blacephalon). This means that this deck can hold its own against more powerful decks if everything goes perfectly. But you’re denied Energy acceleration if Darkrai Prism Star is in the Prize. Plus you need to keep up with Energy acceleration and find your attackers constantly, so it’s likely that something goes wrong at some point during a game.

In my opinion, the best way to play the deck is to use [card name=”Red and Blue” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”202″ c=”name”][/card] both for additional Energy acceleration and to use [card name=”Silvally-GX” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”184″ c=”name”][/card]. Consider something like this:

[decklist name=”Dark Box” amt=”60″ caption=”” cname=”Darkrai Prism Star” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”77″][pokemon amt=”19″]3x [card name=”Jirachi” set=”Team Up” no=”99″ c=”deck2″ amt=”3″][/card]2x [card name=”Weavile-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”132″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Sneasel” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”73″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Silvally-GX” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”184″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Type: Null” set=”Unified Minds” no=”183″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Ditto Prism Star” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”154″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]2x [card name=”Umbreon and Darkrai-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”125″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Mega Sableye and Tyranitar-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”126″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Darkrai Prism Star” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”77″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Guzzlord” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”136″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Dedenne-GX” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”57″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Mewtwo” set=”Sun and Moon Black Star Promos” no=”SM214″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card][/pokemon][trainers amt=”30″]4x [card name=”Professor’s Research” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”178″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]2x [card name=”Cynthia” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”119″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Red and Blue” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”202″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Boss’s Orders” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”154″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”2″][/card]4x [card name=”Quick Ball” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”179″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]4x [card name=”Acro Bike” set=”Primal Clash” no=”122″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]4x [card name=”Scoop Up Net” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”165″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]2x [card name=”Switch” set=”HeartGold and SoulSilver” no=”102″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]2x [card name=”Tag Call” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”206″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Cherish Ball” set=”Unified Minds” no=”191″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Pokémon Communication” set=”Team Up” no=”152″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Escape Board” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”122″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Training Court” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”169″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”1″][/card][/trainers][energy amt=”11″]11x [card name=”Darkness Energy” set=”HeartGold and SoulSilver” no=”121″ c=”deck2″ amt=”11″][/card][/energy][/decklist] 

The hard part is to fit everything in 60 cards. There are so many cards I’d like to add for more consistency, another Stadium, a second Dedenne-GX, [card name=”Ordinary Rod” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”171″ c=”name”][/card], etc. Try it and don’t hesitate to change more cards!

Mewtwo and Mew-GX

[cardimg name=”Mewtwo and Mew-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”71″ align=”right” c=”none”][/cardimg]

Comparing the Rebel Clash metagame to the Sword and Shield metagame, [card name=”Mewtwo and Mew-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”71″ c=”name”][/card] seems to have disappeared from the radar. Of course, [card name=”Dragapult VMAX” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”93″ c=”name”][/card] is to blame. It’s hard to have a Pokemon that hits Mewtwo and Mew-GX for weakness and has too much HP to be KO’d in return. However, Mewtwo and Mew-GX could benefit from its lack of attention since it’s a deck that can compete with many powerhouses like [card name=”Pikachu and Zekrom-GX” set=”Team Up” no=”33″ c=”name”][/card]. Thanks to [card name=”Jirachi-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”79″ c=”name”][/card] and maybe [card name=”Weakness Guard Energy” set=”Unified Minds” no=”213″ c=”name”][/card], it can deal with Dragapult VMAX. Now, it’s easy for Dragapult VMAX to tech against Mewtwo and Mew-GX and Jirachi-GX as well, by adding [card name=”Mimikyu” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”97″ c=”name”][/card] or [card name=”Power Plant” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”183″ c=”name”][/card]. But in online tournaments to qualify for the Players Cup, I assume most Dragapult VMAX players won’t do that and focus on consistency instead, which means Mewtwo and Mew-GX has a shot.

Both the [card name=”Welder” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”189″ c=”name”][/card] and the [card name=”Malamar” set=”Forbidden Light” no=”51″ c=”name”][/card] variants of the deck are viable, but I’d like to focus on Welder for two reasons. First, it’s more immediately aggressive with [card name=”Charizard-GX” set=”Hidden Fates” no=”9″ c=”name”][/card]’s Flare Blitz GX in particular being a huge threat for Pikachu and Zekrom-GX. Second, the Malamar variant relies on Bench sitters which can be picked out by Dragapult VMAX’s Max Phantom.

Here’s a decklist strongly inspired by the one played by Satoru Nagano, the highest-ranked Mewtwo and Mew-GX player in a recent PTCGO online tournament series:

[decklist name=”Mew3″ amt=”60″ caption=”undefined” cname=”Mewtwo and Mew-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”71″][pokemon amt=”18″]3x [card name=”Mewtwo and Mew-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”71″ c=”deck2″ amt=”3″][/card]3x [card name=”Dedenne-GX” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”57″ c=”deck2″ amt=”3″][/card]3x [card name=”Jirachi” set=”Team Up” no=”99″ c=”deck2″ amt=”3″][/card]1x [card name=”Heatran-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”25″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Reshiram and Charizard-GX” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”20″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Charizard-GX” set=”Sun and Moon Black Star Promos” no=”SM211″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Magcargo-GX” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”44″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Incineroar-GX” set=”Team Up” no=”97″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Solgaleo-GX” set=”Sun and Moon Black Star Promos” no=”SM104″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Jirachi-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”79″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Eldegoss V” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”19″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Galarian Zigzagoon” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”117″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card][/pokemon][trainers amt=”30″]4x [card name=”Welder” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”189″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]2x [card name=”Boss’s Orders” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”154″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Professor’s Research” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”178″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”1″][/card]4x [card name=”Quick Ball” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”179″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]4x [card name=”Cherish Ball” set=”Unified Minds” no=”191″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]4x [card name=”Scoop Up Net” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”165″ c=”deck2″ amt=”4″][/card]3x [card name=”Switch” set=”HeartGold and SoulSilver” no=”102″ c=”deck2″ amt=”3″][/card]2x [card name=”Reset Stamp” set=”Unified Minds” no=”206″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Great Catcher” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”192″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Tool Scrapper” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”168″ c=”deck2″ amt=”1″][/card]1x [card name=”Escape Board” set=”Ultra Prism” no=”122″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”1″][/card]2x [card name=”Giant Hearth” set=”Unified Minds” no=”197″ c=”deck2″ amt=”2″][/card]1x [card name=”Heat Factory Prism Star” set=”Lost Thunder” no=”178″ c=”deck2″ divide=”yes” amt=”1″][/card][/trainers][energy amt=”12″]12x [card name=”Fire Energy” set=”Call of Legends” no=”89″ c=”deck2″ amt=”12″][/card][/energy][/decklist] 

Venom Shot [card name=”Naganadel-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”160″ c=”name”][/card] is no longer needed now that the deck can use [card name=”Boss’s Orders” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”154″ c=”name”][/card] to target anything on the opponent’s Bench, so we don’t need Psychic Energy anymore. Stinger GX [card name=”Naganadel-GX” set=”Forbidden Light” no=”56″ c=”name”][/card] has been cut too because Mill is no longer a big threat. Apart from that, the deck plays like a classic Mewtwo and Mew-GX deck with [card name=”Scoop Up Net” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”165″ c=”name”][/card] to benefit more from [card name=”Jirachi” set=”Team Up” no=”99″ c=”name”][/card], but with some additions. [card name=”Galarian Zigzagoon” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”117″ c=”name”][/card] makes sense since the deck already runs Scoop Up Net and it can fix some math. For example, it makes [card name=”Reshiram and Charizard-GX” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”20″ c=”name”][/card]’s Flare Strike an OHKO on Pikachu and Zekrom-GX. The main new Pokemon is [card name=”Incineroar-GX” set=”Team Up” no=”97″ c=”name”][/card]. Crushing Punch can be used to discard Energy from Dragapult VMAX or [card name=”Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”156″ c=”name”][/card] from turn 1, but more importantly for its Darkest Tornado GX attack which can easily OHKO Pokemon that don’t OHKO Mewtwo and Mew-GX (Dragapult VMAX being the main target). [card name=”Tool Scrapper” set=”Rebel Clash” no=”168″ c=”name”][/card] can remove [card name=”Big Charm” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”158″ c=”name”][/card] from Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX so that it can be OHKO’d by Flare Blitz GX or from Pikachu and Zekrom-GX so that it can be KO’d by Flare Strike and Galarian Zigzagoon). Tool Scrapper can remove [card name=”Metal Frying Pan” set=”Forbidden Light” no=”112″ c=”name”][/card] from [card name=”Zacian V” set=”Sword and Shield” no=”138″ c=”name”][/card] as well so that it can be KO’d by a Fire-type Pokemon like [card name=”Heatran-GX” set=”Unified Minds” no=”25″ c=”name”][/card].

Overall, Mewtwo and Mew-GX can trade favorably with the other Tag Team Pokemon-GX and Pokemon VMAX decks. Its [card name=”Blacephalon” set=”Unbroken Bonds” no=”32″ c=”name”][/card] matchup is difficult; you have to hope for an effective [card name=”Reset Stamp” set=”Unified Minds” no=”206″ c=”name”][/card] and target their two-Prize Pokemon (especially [card name=”Oricorio-GX” set=”Cosmic Eclipse” no=”95″ c=”name”][/card]) on the Bench to win.

Conclusion

Before I leave you to your playtesting I want to express my gratitude. In the various online tournaments I’ve played recently, I’ve been paired several times against readers who told me they enjoyed reading my articles. This means a lot to me, so thank you! While it’s going to be a while before I can say, “I will be at Regionals next week, come say hi if you see me,” it’s always a pleasure to have similar interactions online. I hope you’ll keep reading and enjoying my articles!

–Stéphane

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