Broken Santa Clara — Reviewing Standard with Unbroken Bonds

The first major event with the release of a new set is always entertaining and important in the development of the metagame moving forward. California Regionals was won by Kian Amini and his Reshiram and Charizard-GX deck. His list was unique, likely becoming one of two different versions of the deck from here on out. There were a few other surprises — Shedinja Control making a stand in the hands of me and my friends, and the introduction of a new Zoroark-GX breed: Persian-GX. Wall Stall decks were likely the most played overall and took up the most slots in Day Two. The forty-seven person Day Two consisted of the following:

Of these, the Top Eight finished like this:

  • 1. Reshiram & Charizard-GX / Volcanion
  • 2. Reshiram & Charizard-GX Turbo
  • 3. Zapdos / Buzzwole
  • 4. Zapdos / Ultra Beast
  • 5. Shedinja Control
  • 6. Lucario & Melmetal-GX / Vileplume
  • 7. Shedinja Control
  • 8. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX / Zapdos

The Top 8 makes sense except for the Pikachu & Zekrom-GX deck. This deck gained Electromagnetic Radar from the release of Unbroken Bonds as well as Dedenne-GX, but, while those are nice buffs, they didn’t correct the bad matchups the deck had before like against non-GX decks. The introduction of Reshiram & Charizard-GX to the format didn’t do any favors for it either. I presume it hit nice matchups and was piloted well.

Reshiram & Charizard-GX and Wall Stall are the decks to beat right now. Zapdos decks remain a big threat as well and a few new things got introduced to the fray.

Popularity Tier List for Wisconsin Regionals

The next and final American Regional Championship this season takes place in a couple weeks in Madison. Here’s my take on the decks to expect in order. You should prepare more thoroughly against the ones at the top of the tiers.

Tier One

  • Reshiram & Charizard-GX
  • Wall Stall
  • Zapdos

Tier Two

  • Quagsire
  • Weezing Spread
  • Zoroark-GX

Tier Three

  • Blacephalon
  • Malamar
  • Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
  • Shedinja Control
  • Vikavolt / Charjabug

To give you a better idea of what a tournament in this format could look like, I played against the following decks in Santa Clara:

  • Round 1: Zapdos / Ultra Beast — Tie — 0-0-1
  • Round 2: Reshiram & Charizard-GX — LL — 0-1-1
  • Round 3: Gardevoir-GXW — 1-1-1
  • Round 4: Gardevoir and Sylveon-GXW — 2-1-1
  • Round 5: Lost March — Tie — 2-1-2
  • Round 6: Mirror (Daniel Altavilla) — WW — 3-1-2
  • Round 7: Weezing — W — 4-1-2
  • Round 8: Naganadel / Quagsire — Tie — 4-1-3
  • Round 9: Malamar — Tie — 4-1-4

You can see that I played against nine unique decks, not a single repeat of the same matchup. I hit just about every deck in the format except Pikachu & Zekrom-GX and Wall Stall.

Here are some write-ups on the most popular decks from this event and those that you should expect the most in the future:

Reshiram & Charizard-GX — Best List

Pokemon (7)

4x Volcanion (UNB #25)2x Reshiram and Charizard-GX (UNB #20)1x Eevee and Snorlax-GX (TEU #120)

Trainers (41)

4x Welder (UNB #189)4x Green's Exploration (UNB #175)3x Guzma (BUS #115)2x Professor Kukui (SM #128)1x Lt. Surge's Strategy (UNB #178)1x Judge (FOL #108)1x Acerola (BUS #112)4x Pokégear 3.0 (UNB #182)4x Nest Ball (SM #123)4x Custom Catcher (LOT #171)3x Fire Crystal (UNB #173)3x Fiery Flint (DRM #60)2x Stealthy Hood (UNB #186)2x Choice Band (GUR #121)1x Field Blower (GUR #125)1x Switch (CES #147)1x Heat Factory Prism Star (LOT #178)

Energy (12)

12x Fire Energy (EVO #92)

I’ve taken Kian Amini’s list and made a few edits. Another Guzma is great for the Shedinja matchup and all around. Another Fiery Flint and another Fire Energy makes you more consistent. Another Stealthy Hood gives you an even better shot at beating Wall Stall decks. Power Plant is lackluster because your Zoroark-GX matchup is already quite strong with the inclusion of Eevee and Snorlax-GX.

Slowking can be addressed easily by this deck with Volcanion and Professor Kukui. Eevee and Snorlax-GX is another option you can use against Slowking; most Zoroark-GX decks won’t have a good response to it.

This is the most vanilla way to play this deck — more conservative than Kiawe, but still holding the firepower that any Reshiram & Charizard-GX deck has. Hitting numbers quickly is easily attainable with eight total outs to Welder on any given turn.

From Amini’s list, I didn’t like the Rescue Stretcher because you should already have enough attackers; and I didn’t like the Max Potion much, especially with Acerola in the deck already. I love the Lt. Surge's Strategy as a way to pull back into games you’re losing. Using a combination of that, Acerola, and Welder in the same turn is broken.


  • Nice mix of non-GX options to play, making it strong against non-GX decks and Pokemon-GX ones
  • Quickly hits for 230 or more
  • You’re always a Welder away from attacking provided you haven’t used your GX attack


  • Can run out of steam with hands lacking Energy or Welder
  • Linear; can’t switch around to different attacking options easily as there are few to begin with
  • Water matchup is terrible (not that popular though)

I would play this deck if you have limited practice with anything else, or just want to play a deck that lacks many bad matchups and can play for itself. This makes it a good play for both new and veteran players, regardless of skill. It’s a deck that’s hard to thwart as the strategy is so simple and it stacks up well with a lot of decks. The Volcanion focus gives you a great Zapdos matchup, and a killer one against Vileplume as well with the two Stealthy Hood.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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