Mimicking Mind Moves — Mewtwo & Mew and Malamar

It happened again! Just as Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX was moving off everyone’s radar, it came back to win the São Paulo Regional Championship this weekend — just like it did in Sheffield and in Daytona Beach. Once again, I’m sure some people will write it off as a fluke, citing a lucky Top 4 match against Pidgeotto Control, which is almost an autoloss, but who happened to dead draw two games in a row. And sure, luck was involved there, just like it is in any major event win. However, Gardeon was a strong call in the Brazilian metagame. Not only was Mewtwo and Mew-GX the most played deck in Day 2, but Bruno Sermann also included a Fairy Charm L in his deck to deal with the return of Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, and Chaotic Swell which helps a lot against the rise of Blacephalon. Since these were two popular decks, it’s no surprise that he did so well.

I still find it interesting that you can never let your guard down: whenever you don’t think about Gardeon for a moment, the deck finds a way to come back in the spotlight. It’s getting to the point where I almost have to respect the deck for the Oceania International Championships, because no one would expect it in the upcoming Zacian V metagame, and that means that Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX once again has the effect of surprise.

With that said, enough talk about Gardeon. The real star of the weekend was, in my opinion, the second place deck, Pedro Pertusi’s Mewtwo & Mew-GX / Malamar. If you’ve been following Japanese results, you know that this deck has been doing quite well in the post-Sword & Shield-era (and Pedro himself said that this is where he got the idea), but this was the first time it did anything in our current Standard format. I started seeing it online a few weeks ago after Bochum Regionals and I thought it might secretly be strong, but I delayed testing it and now it’s not me you discover this deck from. My bad!

Mewtwo & Mew-GX / Malamar sounds like, and is, a hybrid deck of Malamar and Mewtwo & Mew-GX. Therefore, it’s only natural to ask the following questions:

  • Why play this deck rather than Malamar?
  • Why play this deck rather than a classic Mewtwo & Mew-GX?

The answer to the first question is simple. Classic Malamar, using only one-Prize Pokemon, has proven to be rather weak in the current format, since it has issues with Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX, Mallow and Lana, and other widely spread cards. This is why we’ve seen players add some stronger attackers in the deck, such as Garchomp and Giratina-GX and Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX. It gives the deck worse starters, and opens a player to the possibility of losing the Prize race to an opponent taking multiple Prizes at once, but it also gives more options than simply spamming Giratina every turn, which is not enough against most decks now. With that in mind, adding Mewtwo & Mew-GX is nothing outlandish. You include more GX Pokemon, sure, but it fits into the idea of using bigger attackers that can use Psychic Energy very well. You can also keep playing classic Malamar attackers: Giratina and Blacephalon.

As for the second question, the debate comes down to burst, Supporter-based Energy acceleration (Welder) and slower but continuous Energy acceleration (Malamar). Using Psychic Energy means you don’t have to play a specific Supporter so you can rely on the usual draw Supporters, Lillie and Cynthia. This, in turn, makes you less reliant on Dedenne-GX, which frees up space on our Bench (which is good since we need it for Malamar) and makes you not as weak to Mega Lopunny and Jigglypuff-GX.

However, there’s another reason to run Psychic Energy, and that’s the usable attacks themselves. Since Worlds, every Mewtwo & Mew-GX list has played Welder, but still used Psychic attackers — at least Naganadel-GX and Espeon and Deoxys-GX — because of their strength. Other attackers that need Psychic Energy have included Latios-GX, Giratina, Muk and Alolan Muk-GX, and Mewtwo & Mew-GX itself. That’s right, with more Psychic Energy, you can think about using Miraculous Duo GX more than once in a blue moon, and that’s a good thing too! It gives the deck a strong healing option, which is especially good against anything that can’t OHKO you (such as ADP). Miraculous Duo GX is also the only attack Mewtwo & Mew-GX can use when it’s affected by Mimikyu‘s Ability, and the healing lets it remove the damage counters that prevent it from using its other attacks.

Note that if you’re committed to using Psychic Energy as your main type, then more attackers become available, including Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX and Gengar and Mimikyu-GX, and if you add another type of Energy (such as Rainbow Energy), you can use even more powerful attacks. I’ll discuss them further in the next section.

How do these attackers compare to their Fire-type brethren? Much better than you’d think. Take Charizard-GX, for example: dealing 300 damage for only four Energy is definitely strong. However, if you’re using Psychic Energy, you can use Ultra Necrozma-GX instead, and deal 260 damage for the same amount of Energy, without using your GX attack. That’s enough to deal with some Tag Teams (Pikachu & Zekrom-GX and Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX, to name two). Against a stronger foe, you can still achieve an OHKO if you add one more Energy.

Overall, Mewtwo & Mew-GX / Malamar is a sound concept. One of its appeals is the number of ways you can build it. Mewtwo & Mew-GX is the perfect example of a toolbox deck, since you can add many different GX Pokemon to cover a wide variety of matchups and situations. In the next section, I’ll explain the Pokemon that you can run in this deck, then I’ll give my own list for the deck, which is quite different from Pedro Pertusi’s. And of course, we’ll cover what Sword & Shield changes for the deck, and why you shouldn’t ignore it.

Building Blocks

Mewtwo & Mew-GX / Malamar is, at its core, a Mewtwo deck, more than a Malamar deck. That means that Mewtwo & Mew-GX is the main attacker, and therefore you should consider which attacks you want it to use. Let’s talk about the possibilities:

Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX

This is the main one. Night Watch is a fantastic attack as soon as the opponent gets a low hand size, and having it as an option means that they can never let their guard down because, if they end a turn with two cards in hand, they’ll have to shuffle their whole hand back in their deck. It’s very strong against Green's Exploration decks (and Blacephalon in particular), since they don’t have any way to draw many cards at once (such as Dedenne-GX). You can combine it with Reset Stamp in the late game, but you don’t need it. Even when your opponent has a decent hand size, Night Watch is usually the best attack to use if you want to KO a small Pokemon (Jirachi for example). The disruption may be limited in this case, but it’s still better than nothing.

Pale Moon GX is also good, situationally. A good example is against Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX decks, where you can remove the Energy after they use Altered Creation GX. This gives you more time to set up more Energy in play for stronger attacks.

Gengar & Mimikyu-GX

Another card I would consider indispensible, Gengar & Mimikyu-GX has two great attacks. Horror House GX can be used on turn 1 to basically skip the opponent’s next turn. This gives you more time to set up, and you should consider using it on turn 1 whenever you have the chance, unless you know you’ll need a more important GX attack later on (for example, Stinger GX against Pidgeotto Control). Poltergeist is not very reliable since it relies on the opponent’s hand, but it’s an attack that can be used for two Energy, which is important. This deck doesn’t have amazing mobility, so if you open with Mewtwo & Mew-GX Active, you may have to attach an Energy to it on turn 1 and on turn 2, without the opportunity to bring it back to the Bench to Psychic Recharge to it.

Naganadel-GX from Unified Minds

Venom Shot has been good enough to run in almost every Mewtwo & Mew-GX list so far in the season, and these are the ones running Fire Energy. In a deck that runs Psychic Energy, it’s an obvious inclusion. You don’t need me to tell you, but 170 damage is pretty good to take two Prizes on a Dedenne-GX.

Latios-GX

Although it’s not as important as it used to be, due to decks having more ways to deal with Tag Purge (including Phione and Great Catcher), Latios-GX is still a solid attacker against PikaRom and the mirror match, and a has free retreat. Clear Vision GX can also be used against ADP, or any other deck that relies on its GX attack (for example checkmate decks that want to use Naganadel-GX‘s Stinger GX).

Naganadel-GX from Forbidden Light

Speaking of Stinger GX, it’s a powerful option against Control and Stall decks, in combination with Blacephalon. We’ve seen it played in Blacephalon-GX, and it can work just as well in this deck. This is the game plan that Pedro Pertusi and his teammates used against Pidgeotto Control at São Paulo Regionals: put both players at three Prizes remaining, then use Fireworks Bomb to Knock Out several Pidgeotto in one turn. Tord Reklev also used this combination in his Mewtwo & Mew-GX deck at Bochum Regionals, even though he was playing the Welder variant of the deck.

Espeon & Deoxys-GX

This is the other way to deal with Pidgeotto Control. Although it’s popular in the Welder version of Mewtwo & Mew-GX, it’s not as good in the Malamar version, because it takes too long to set up. With Welder, you can use Cross Division GX by turn 2. In a deck where you have to set up multiple Malamar, this takes much longer. You also don’t have the option to use it on turn 1 for ten damage counters to Knock Out a Pidgey and Ditto Prism Star. Overall, I’m sure Espeon & Deoxys-GX can be good in some scenarios, but I think there are better ways to use its spot.

Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX

A common attacker in Mewtwo & Mew-GX, and another way to help against Tag Team decks such as PikaRom and the mirror match. This is definitely a solid option, but I would only recommend it if you know the metagame you’re heading into, as it would be useless against many decks. Unlike Latios-GX, Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX is a pretty bad starter.

Ultra Necrozma-GX

This is one of the main reasons to use Malamar. Photon Geyser is a non-GX attack that can OHKO anything. It’s similar to Magcargo-GX‘s Lava Flow, but deals more damage per Energy, and the cost of discarding your Energy isn’t as high when you have Malamar to get the Energy back.

Garchomp & Giratina-GX

As long as you’re willing to include another type of Energy, Garchomp & Giratina-GX is another option to deal big damage. The issue is that this deck has less ways to put damage on the opponent’s board than regular Malamar: no Spell Tag, and Giratina isn’t the main focus of the deck. Therefore, it’s not easy to get a KO with Calamitous Slash. But GG End GX and Linear Attack also provide some utility outside of the main attack, so it’s something to consider, even though I’m not a fan.

Dragonite-GX

If you want to stick to Psychic Energy, then you can still have OHKO potential with Dragonite-GX‘s Sky Judgment, whose 270 damage can KO almost anything. It’s not as good as Charizard-GX’s Flare Blitz GX (one more Energy, 30 less damage) but it’s repeatable.

Solgaleo & Lunala-GX

In a similar vein, Solgaleo and Lunala-GX‘s Cosmic Burn deals 230 damage for four Energy, which isn’t enough to KO a Tag Team, but should be enough for any other GX Pokemon. Its downside is really no issue in a Mewtwo & Mew-GX deck. Right now, I don’t think the card is too relevant, since decks tend to attack either with Tag Team Pokemon (Mewtwo & Mew-GX, Reshiram and Charizard-GX, Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX…) or Basic Pokemon (Blacephalon, Giratina…). The one exception is Keldeo-GX, but obviously Cosmic Burn isn’t going to help there. However, that could change after Pokemon-V join the game — but more on that later.

Naganadel & Guzzlord-GX

I like this inclusion because Chaotic Order GX is a way to improve your matchup against non-GX decks, especially Malamar. If you can get a Prize on turn 2 with Poltergeist and then keep slowing them down with Night Watch, then your last two Prizes are free.

By the way, as with any other Basic Pokemon in this list, you can bench Naganadel and Guzzlord-GX and attack with it directly if needed. Usually this is dictated by necessity, for example if you happen to start with a Pokemon, or if you need to Bench it to copy its attack with your Active Mewtwo & Mew-GX because you have no way to discard it. However, in the case of Naganadel & Guzzlord-GX, this allows you to use the Violent Appetite Ability. Not only can this make you last longer against Giratina, but it’s also a way to discard Psychic Energy and GX Pokemon! (Remember, you can use the Ability even if there’s no damage to heal from NagaGuzz.)

Solgaleo-GX

Finally, let’s mention Solgaleo-GX. Turbo Strike is much less impressive in a deck that already gets Energy back from the discard, but 120 damage for two Energy is certainly not bad, and sometimes, it can be helpful in situations where you don’t set up Malamar quickly. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I still think it’s an option.

Assembling the List

Here is my current list:

Pokemon (19)

3x Malamar (FOL #51)3x Inkay (FOL #50)2x Mewtwo and Mew-GX (PRSM #SM191)1x Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX (PRSM #SM217)1x Gengar and Mimikyu-GX (TEU #53)1x Ultra Necrozma-GX (FOL #95)1x Naganadel and Guzzlord-GX (COE #158)1x Naganadel-GX (UNM #160)1x Naganadel-GX (FOL #56)1x Latios-GX (UNM #78)2x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)1x Giratina (LOT #97)1x Blacephalon (PRSM #SM221)

Trainers (30)

4x Lillie (SM #122)4x Cynthia (ULP #119)1x Guzma and Hala (COE #193)4x Mysterious Treasure (FOL #113)4x Switch (HS #102)3x Cherish Ball (UNM #191)2x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)2x Tag Call (COE #206)1x Great Catcher (COE #192)1x Reset Stamp (UNM #206)1x Stealthy Hood (UNB #186)3x Chaotic Swell (COE #187)

Energy (11)

8x Psychic Energy (EM #105)3x Rainbow Energy (CES #151)
I think the concept is new enough that it’s worth explaining some of my choices here.

The Consistency Engine

Four Lillie and four Cynthia are standard. The absence of Jirachi might surprise you, though.

Here’s my reasoning: I see this, as its core, as a Mewtwo & Mew-GX deck, not a Malamar deck. There’s plenty of reason to play Jirachi in classic Malamar lists, but here, it would slow down the deck and take a lot of space. Including Jirachi means running four, most likely, and also some Escape Board. You would also need to max out on Pokémon Communication, both to search out Jirachi and to get some use out of your extra Jirachi. However, I don’t like Pokemon Communication very much in Mewtwo decks. You need your Pokemon to go to the discard, not back in the deck. In addition, we have ways to attack on the first turn, so we don’t want to search for Jirachi and end the turn after using Stellar Wish. Plus, wasting a Pokemon Communication on Jirachi when we need to set up Mewtwo & Mew-GX and the Pokemon it needs to copy its attacks from, as well as some Inkay and Malamar, is undesirable.

Overall, it’s better to run Dedenne-GX in the deck. Instead of Pokemon Communication, we only need to add Cherish Ball, which works much better with the rest of the Pokemon. Dedenne-GX being a two-Prize Pokemon doesn’t matter that much since we already run all kinds of bigger Pokemon, and discarding cards with Dedechange can be great to get rid of a hand full of GX Pokemon.


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