The Salazzle Experiment — A Fire Draw Engine for Centiskorch VMAX and Blacephalon

Hello, readers! Today, I’ll talk about one of my experiments in the current Standard format: Finding out how viable is Salazzle.

Our story starts early September, as I was quickly becoming disillusioned with the post-rotation Standard format. Big Tag Team Pokemon-GX and Pokemon VMAX exchanging OHKOs or 2HKOs is not my idea of fun, plus the lack of anything else in the format was starting to make me very jaded. Evolution Pokemon, apart from Pokemon VMAX seemed completely absent from the format. This is the direction that the game had been taking for a while, but we saw cards like Malamar and Cinccino do well last season.

Recently, a Japan vs USA friendly match was announced. Two teams of seven players from each country would face each other. The games were streamed by the Japanese community, with the decks and results announced on Twitter. Both teams chose a varied selection of decks, but some of the Japanese decks caught my eye as they often do. Two players, Taketo Seki and Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi brought a Centiskorch VMAX deck that used Salazzle. Yoshiyuki won against Kenny Britton’s Eternatus VMAX, and Taketo lost against Isaiah Bradner’s Blacephalon. I was immediately impressed by the Salazzle idea and it made a lot of sense: You can play Evolution Incense to grab both Salazzle and Centiskorch VMAX! Use Giant Hearth to grab Energy, discard them with Salazzle’s Roast Reveal Ability, then get them back with Fire Crystal!

You may not be surprised to learn that Salazzle is exactly the type of card that I like playing. My affinity for Pokemon-based draw engines is well documented at this point (it predates Zoroark-GX by six years!). Last season, I had some fun on ladder with the Unown HAND / Salazzle deck, a deck which only lost one important piece to rotation (unfortunately, that lost piece is Unown itself). Obviously, I was excited to try Salazzle.

It turns out that Salazzle has a spot in another Welder deck as well, Blacephalon. In this deck, you have to take some time to set up Salazzle, but you need that time anyway in order to get Energy out of your deck. Salazzle provides a good draw engine in order to find Welder every turn and more importantly makes Blacephalon very resilient against Reset Stamp.

Read on to understand why Salazzle works and how to build the deck, the benefits and drawbacks of including it compared to a more standard Jirachi variant, and what to keep in mind when you play the deck.

Centiskorch VMAX / Salazzle

Let’s start with the beginning. Here is the list used by Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi in the Japan vs USA match. Taketo Seki played the same list with a second CARD NOT FOUND instead of Bird Keeper.

Pokemon (15)

3x Centiskorch VMAX (SWSH3 #34)3x Centiskorch V (SWSH3 #33)3x Salazzle (UNB #31)3x Salandit (UNM #98)1x Dubwool V (SWSH2 #153)1x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)

Trainers (35)

4x Welder (UNB #189)4x Sonia (SWSH2 #167)2x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)2x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)1x Lt. Surge's Strategy (UNB #178)1x Jessie and James (HIF #58)1x Bird Keeper (SWSH3 #159)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Fire Crystal (UNB #173)2x Evolution Incense (SWSH1 #163)2x Reset Stamp (UNM #206)1x CARD NOT FOUND1x Switch (RG #102)1x Pal Pad (ULP #132)4x Giant Hearth (UNM #197)1x Power Plant (UNB #183)

Energy (10)

10x Fire Energy (EM #102)

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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