Hello! It’s been two weeks since my last article, but it feels like so much more. With the spread of COVID-19 and the lockdown that ensued, it feels like we’re living in a different era in many aspects — although the most relevant one for the purpose of this article is the cancellation of all Pokémon events until at least early May.
As someone who both loves the Pokémon TCG, and partly depends on it to make a living, it’s obviously rough. That said, I’m very happy to see that we as a community have been picking up the slack: there are more online tournaments than ever, in many different formats (Standard and Expanded of course but I’ve also seen custom formats). I have some experience with these: the French community is organizing one online tournament every Sunday until the end of the lockdown, whenever this is, and I participated as an organizer in the first one and as a player in the second one. Overall, these tournaments have been very well received by the community: since we run them over one day, they feel a little like League Cups — less convivial obviously, but there’s still quite a bit of discussion happening during them. It’s more common to run online tournaments that happen over a longer period of time, since that makes it easier for players to find time to play (especially if they’re from different time zones), but one-day tournaments definitely have their appeal as well!
Whatever type of tournament you prefer, though, the point is that they are still happening, which means that there’s still a point in trying to break the Standard format. Speaking of breaking the format, I’d like to talk about Green’s ReshiZard today!
Alright, maybe claiming that I’m breaking the format is too strong. That said, this deck definitely deserves more attention than what it’s getting now, which is none. Green's Exploration decks did take a big hit with the new first turn rule, which makes their first turn very weak if they happen to go first. However, due do their Pokémon’s high HP, Green’s Reshiram and Charizard-GX decks are unlikely to get donked, which mitigates an issue. On the flip side, Quick Ball solves the main issue the deck had going from last season’s Standard to this season’s: it gives a way to search for Volcanion on the first turn, which can then use Flare Starter.
The main reason to give this deck consideration is its good matchup against Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V, the king of the format. There are few decks that have a positive matchup against it, but so far, Green’s ReshiZard has been pretty good against it. Reshiram & Charizard-GX can OHKO Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX with Double Blaze GX, and the deck plays Lysandre Labs to counter Big Charm. (Even if there’s Chaotic Swell in play, if you put 300 damage on ADP, you can remove Chaotic Swell with another Stadium, then finish ADP off later by playing Lysandre Labs and deactivating the Big Charm.) Lysandre Labs also shuts down Metal Frying Pan, which means that Volcanion can OHKO Zacian V. On the defensive side of things, you can play your own Big Charm to protect Reshiram & Charizard-GX from Brave Blade. As long as you don’t take too many Shrine of Punishment ticks, Big Charm lets you survive and take easy KOs with Outrage. All in all, it’s a pretty good matchup!
It’s worth noting that Green’s ReshiZard had a couple showings in Japan in the January City Leagues, as many as Ability Reshiram & Charizard-GX (which we know is a viable deck, even though it’s been falling out of favor a little bit), so there are reasons to believe in the deck’s potential. Like any other Green’s Exploration deck, it does struggle with hand disruption, especially repeated Marnie, but Marnie is underplayed here compared to Japan, and I think Green’s ReshiZard can exploit this trend in the metagame.
List and Card Counts
Four Volcanion, Two Reshiram & Charizard-GX, One Victini V
It’s best to run four Volcanion since it’s the best starter in the deck. Of course, you could play less and search for them (Green’s Exploration on turn 1 gets you Quick Ball and Switch), but you don’t want to rely on getting the turn 1 Green’s Exploration, and it’s better not to have to use a Switch on turn 1 if you can avoid it, so maximizing the odds of starting Volcanion makes sense. Reshiram & Charizard-GX is the main attacker but usually one per game will be enough. Victini V fills the role of the secondary attacker: it’s much better than ReshiZard at attacking every turn since it doesn’t have the Flare Strike drawback, which makes it very valuable against mill and control decks. Spreading Flames is also a good attack, either on turn 1 as a pseudo-Volcanion or late game to power up a second ReshiZard.
One Omastar, One Unidentified Fossil, One Rare Candy, One Evolution Incense
This four-card package helps a lot against mill and control, and gives the deck a shot against Blacephalon. These decks all rely heavily on Item cards (Pal Pad for mill, Reset Stamp and Crushing Hammer for control, Fire Crystal and Fiery Flint for Blacephalon), so even though Omastar can be awkward to set up, I think it’s worth it. Remember that once Omastar is set up, though, you can’t use Green’s Exploration anymore, so don’t try to use it in other matchups as it would most likely hurt you more than it helps.
Four Green’s Exploration, Four Welder, Four Pokégear 3.0
This classic package gets one last chance to be used. It’s definitely worse than it used to be before the first turn rule, but in this deck, it makes sense. It’s a bit sad that Supporters have been devalued to the point that playing four copies of the two best Supporters in the format looks shaky now, though.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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