Run it Back! — Updating Blacephalon and Lucario and Melmetal-GX By: Blaine Hill Posted 2 months ago to Premium Article 2 comments Hey PokeBeach readers! Since it’s now December and the last month of 2020 (gulp), I hope everyone is enjoying the barrage of Mariah Carey, mistletoe, and consumerism. Grab your leftover turkey and buckle down, because I have two great picks for your next PTCGO tournament: Blacephalon and Lucario and Melmetal-GX / Zacian V! I’ve been testing the hell out of each, and I believe I’ve found the best decklist for both. Each of these decks can easily bring home a trophy, but since someone at the Pokemon Card Laboratory decided that any single deck shouldn’t clobber the rest (this is an oxymoron when you consider Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX), there are a few Achilles’ Heels, which I’ll address. ContentsA Look at BlacephalonBlacephalon Without Energy SpinnerBlacephalon With Energy SpinnerMatchupsA Quick Look at Lucario and Melmetal-GX / Zacian VIn Summary A Look at Blacephalon Unsurprisingly, the meta has tons of VMAX Pokemon running around, with a few Tag Teams in the mix. And if anything does well against VMAX and Tag Teams, it’s a single-Prize Pokemon that can OHKO them. This was my thought process for selecting Blacephalon as a good deck to optimize. The loss of Fiery Flint in rotation hurt the deck, but there have been workarounds. In general, there are two ways to play the deck; choosing to go second each game with a high count of Energy Spinner, or by trying to get as many Giant Hearth effects off as possible per game. The Energy Spinner version is highly explosive and can get a turn-one Fireball Circus for 200-250 damage off, but it only happens roughly 50% of the time. Add in the fact that the opponent may choose to go second, and your Energy Spinner are no better than the Energy Search of old. Overall, the deck will get this explosive first turn off in ~25% of games. Yet the benefit of this version may be negated by the benefit of the alternative: running some cool techs! Here’s what I mean: Blacephalon Without Energy Spinner Pokemon (15)4x Blacephalon (UNB #32)4x Jirachi (PRSM #SM161)1x Reshiram and Charizard-GX (PRSM #SM201)1x Cramorant V (SWSH1 #155)1x Zacian V (SWSH1 #138)1x Oricorio-GX (COE #95)1x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)1x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Mewtwo (PRSM #SM214)Trainers (28)4x Welder (UNB #189)2x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Scoop Up Net (SWSH2 #165)2x Great Ball (SWSH35 #52)4x Switch (SWSH1 #183)4x Fire Crystal (UNB #173)4x Giant Hearth (UNM #197)Energy (17)17x Fire Energy (EM #102) Card Choices Since I wanted to maximize consistency for the BO1 format, this is a vanilla Blacephalon list for the most part. A large part of the deck is concrete, like the Pokemon, Supporter, and Energy counts. There is some leeway, but if you start cutting these, you’re going to run into a Fireball Circus without any fireballs. I tried many different tech packages, but the start of the show has to be Blacephalon, else the deck won’t be able to perform its function of having a good Prize card ratio. One Cramorant V, No Telescopic Sight At first, I wanted to try a heavy Cramorant V and Telescopic Sight package; the idea was to take down one VMAX with Fireball Circus and clean up with two attacks onto one- or two-Prize Pokemon. However, the biggest problem I was having was the opponent would either not bench enough Spit Shot targets or I wasn’t able to grab my Telescopic Sight in time. Thus, I decided to cut back on the package, leaving the traditional one Cramorant V. Spit Shot is still amazing if the opponent stumbles, allowing you a turn to grab an extra one or two Prizes in the early (or late) game. Since there are only two Boss's Orders, Spit Shot is also needed oftentimes to soften VMAXs or take out a Pokemon on the Bench. Beak Catch is an attack I would heavily emphasize too. Since the deck feeds the opponent lots of single-Prize Pokemon, giving up a two-Prize Pokemon is not the end of the world (unless your opponent has used Altered Creation GX and would take three Prizes! In this scenario don’t give your opponent two-Prize Pokemon at all costs). I find myself using Beak Catch to fetch combo pieces anytime my opponent plays a Marnie, trying to set up their board while disrupting my early Giant Hearth and/or Intrepid Sword. Not only does this force the opponent to find another Marnie, but I can also threaten Spit Shot as a follow up if they ignore Cramorant V. One Reshiram and Charizard-GX, No Dubwool V Reshiram and Charizard-GX is an absolutely awesome inclusion! I wish I could take credit for this idea since it is one of my favorite cards, but Le Bui on Twitter was able to take Top 4 with it at the latest Sunday Open online tournament. The purpose of Reshiram and Charizard-GX in here is to utilize Double Blaze GX as a vanilla 200 damage threat with a monstrous 270 HP. Furthermore, Flare Strike is on the way next, so the opponent has to react, which is hard when anything short of an OHKO can be returned via Outrage. While 270 HP isn’t what it used to be, it is perfect in the Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V matchup, withstanding a Brave Blade with Altered Creation. Reshiram and Charizard-GX is great in other matchups where it can’t be OHKO’d, like Pikachu and Zekrom-GX. Because it’s a Tag Team, I only play Reshiram and Charizard down when the opponent has two or fewer Prize cards remaining, letting me force an extra Prize card game. This actually pairs well, since sometimes the deck can run out of juice with a few bad discards. Needing only three Energy to Double Blaze instead of six or seven for Fireball Circus is huge when you need to take a Knock Out. In the same vein, Dubwool V is another tech that seems mildly out of place. In fact, it serves a similar purpose to Reshiram and Charizard-GX, but as a two-Prize Pokemon. It can usually deal 240-270 near the end of the game while having effectively 240 HP with its Ability. Each one does its job, but I’ve selected Reshiram and Charizard-GX for now since it’s slightly more versatile; I think the tradeoff for having +30 HP and Outrage is worth the extra Prize card. And since both cards are used at the end of the game, being able to “save” a Prize card with Dubwool V usually is a nonfactor. If you'd like to continue reading PokeBeach's premium articles, consider purchasing a premium membership! It grants you full access to PokeBeach's premium articles and allows you to submit your deck lists and questions to our writers for advice! 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