Keeping It Shivery With Chien-Pao ex

Hey everyone! Before I dive into Chien-Pao, I thought I would introduce myself, since this is my first article on PokeBeach! I’m Ciaran, a player based out of Toronto, Canada. I have played the TCG since 2011, and have played at the World Championships seven times. Some of the accomplishments I am most proud of are as follows: #1 Championship Points North America 2016, #1 Championship Points Canada 2023, Top 4 LAIC 2023, Top 8 LAIC 2022, and Top 32 at the World Championships three times (2015, ’16, ’23). I also have a YouTube channel and podcast where I make competitive content. I love Pokemon and making content, so I’m excited to start writing for PokeBeach!

For my first article, I want to do a deep dive on my favourite deck in the format, Chien-Pao ex. Chien-Pao got off to a bit of a slow start after releasing in Paldea Evolved, but found its footing when the aptly named “Canadian Pao” build gained popularity following Lucas Xing’s Top 8 performance at Pittsburgh Regionals. His version of the deck focused on Bibarel and played no Pokemon VSTAR. From there, Grant Shen took the build to a Top 8–Top 16–Top 8 streak at the following three Regionals, proving Chien-Pao was a deck to be reckoned with!

Heading into the Paradox Rift format, Chien-Pao was expected to be a mainstay of Tier 1 with the release of Iron Hands ex, but the deck has seen a massive fall-off in play following LAIC. There were a multitude of factors that led to this, which I will cover, but I think with the maturation of the Paradox Rift metagame, the deck is primed for success!

Why Has the Deck Struggled?

On paper, Chien-Pao has fantastic matchups against a majority of the meta, and it still does, but initial builds of decks during the LAIC meta were put together with Chien-Pao in mind. For example, most Gardevoir ex decks were playing two, sometimes three copies of Avery, which allowed the deck to completely eliminate your Bibarel when combined with a Roaring Scream from Scream Tail. We also saw an uptick in Miraidon ex decks, one of Chien-Pao’s weaker matchups. Other bad matchups, such as Snorlax Stall, picked up in play, and Manaphy was still included in a majority of decks.

The other issue is Chien-Pao’s consistency. The deck needs a Stage 2 Pokemon and a Stage 1 Pokemon (Bibarel) to fully get online. If you have tried the deck before, you probably know the painful feeling of using PokéStop and discarding Irida and Baxcalibur. The inconsistency of the deck is what helps keep it in check, as any game in which it achieves the desired setup normally results in its victory.

Why is Chien-Pao Primed for Success Currently?

There are a few reasons why Chien-Pao ex is in a good spot currently. Firstly, since Chien-Pao has seen a massive decrease in play, most people have adjusted their deck lists accordingly. We have seen Gardevoir ex decks remove their second copies of Avery, and Giratina VSTAR is seeing play without Manaphy. Without those cards, both of those matchups become much more favourable for Chien-Pao.

Second, we have seen a massive uptick in Charizard ex. I would argue this is Chien-Pao’s best matchup, and it attained a meta share of 17% at our most recent Regionals (Portland). Over nine rounds, it will not be uncommon to face two or three Charizard decks, and if you make it to the second day of the competition there will probably be some more waiting for you at the top tables.

Finally, we have seen Miraidon ex drop to around 10% of the Day 1 metagame, with a further decrease in play on Day 2. While Miraidon isn’t an unwinnable matchup, it definitely isn’t something you want to sit across frequently at your tournaments.

All these factors combined, the metagame is shaping up nicely for Chien-Pao to see success!


This concludes the public portion of this article.

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newtale

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Is there any good configuration to use Chien Pao and Arceus Vstar? 2-- Will this deck survive with Ace Specs arriving?
 

CiaranTCG

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Is there any good configuration to use Chien Pao and Arceus Vstar? 2-- Will this deck survive with Ace Specs arriving?
You could cut 1-1 bib for arceus, but I'd advise against it. This deck gets better with the new prime Catcher ace spec since it's cross switcher on one card. The new poffin card can also help replac vip pass when rotation happens!
 

newtale

Aspiring Trainer
Member
You could cut 1-1 bib for arceus, but I'd advise against it. This deck gets better with the new prime Catcher ace spec since it's cross switcher on one card. The new poffin card can also help replac vip pass when rotation happens!
Thanks, I will try these tips
 

newtale

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Você poderia cortar 1-1 babador para Arceus, mas eu desaconselho isso. Este deck fica melhor com a nova especificação Prime Catcher Ace, já que é cross switcher em uma carta. O novo cartão poffin também pode ajudar a substituir

You could cut 1-1 bib for arceus, but I'd advise against it. This deck gets better with the new prime Catcher ace spec since it's cross switcher on one card. The new poffin card can also help replac vip pass when rotation happens!
Come to think of it, I really liked your idea, especially with the Ace spec... can you give me an example of a deck list of what the deck would look like in your formation? (with the number of each card for example)? I think I'm going to invest in this deck
 

CiaranTCG

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Good article
I knew this was coming cause i listen to your podcast :cool:
Cryptomaniac’s deciphering is insane in this deck right?
Just realized I forgot to respond to the second part of your comment. Yes, I'm really excited to try Cryptomaniac and Prime Catcher with the new set!
 

CiaranTCG

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Come to think of it, I really liked your idea, especially with the Ace spec... can you give me an example of a deck list of what the deck would look like in your formation? (with the number of each card for example)? I think I'm going to invest in this deck
Take the list in this article as a base. I think we can cut switchers now that we get prime catcher, and we can add a counter catcher to give another gust option. Without VIP I also want that 4th nest ball for a bit more Pokemon search consistency. Cryptomaniac also seems strong to help us set up and hit what we need off Bibarel/Pokestop!

- 4 Battle VIP Pass
- 4 Cross Switcher

+ 4 Poffin
+ 1 Prime Catcher
+ 1 Counter Catcher
+ 1 Nest Ball
+ 1 Cryptomaniac's Deciphering
 

PMJ

happy thoughts
Forum Head
Articles Head
Elite Member
Advanced Member
Member
Just had a game against Tina where I prized three Cross Switcher, the Lightning Energy, an Ultra Ball, and a Super Rod.

First Prize I took was Super Rod. Second Prize was the Lightning so that at least opened up an Iron Hands play. Good thing, too, because I managed to search it out the next turn for an Amp out of nowhere for another two Prizes - got one of the three (ughhhh) Cross Switchers but by then I had given up on relying on it so I had already thrown out the one in my hand. Next turn I hit a Super Energy Retrieval off PokeStop on the last 10 cards in my deck to enable the Chien-Pao play for the last two Prizes, but it was pretty anxious on my end the whole time.

The absurd luck of me prizing three Cross Switcher has me wondering why you think it's okay to simply remove all of them when you don't run any Boss's Orders or switching cards.
 

CiaranTCG

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Just had a game against Tina where I prized three Cross Switcher, the Lightning Energy, an Ultra Ball, and a Super Rod.

First Prize I took was Super Rod. Second Prize was the Lightning so that at least opened up an Iron Hands play. Good thing, too, because I managed to search it out the next turn for an Amp out of nowhere for another two Prizes - got one of the three (ughhhh) Cross Switchers but by then I had given up on relying on it so I had already thrown out the one in my hand. Next turn I hit a Super Energy Retrieval off PokeStop on the last 10 cards in my deck to enable the Chien-Pao play for the last two Prizes, but it was pretty anxious on my end the whole time.

The absurd luck of me prizing three Cross Switcher has me wondering why you think it's okay to simply remove all of them when you don't run any Boss's Orders or switching cards.
If you remove them you need to put in counter catcher, iron bundle, or prime Catcher in the future, so you'd still have gust. With Iron hands you can also turn one prizer in two prizes or if they're attacking with a two prize pokemon you can chien Pao. So even without gust you can normally take two prizes a turn anyways.

Also prizing three cross switcher and the lightning is very low roll. If you cut switchers you can also consider playing escape rope if you still want a switch effect
 

predatoure

Aspiring Trainer
Member
I've been playing Jared Grimes 24th portland list. He removed the Iron hands and has 9 water energy + 2 copies of cancelling Cologne. I prefer it to the hands version, I feel like hands makes the deck even more clunky.
 

CiaranTCG

Aspiring Trainer
Member
I've been playing Jared Grimes 24th portland list. He removed the Iron hands and has 9 water energy + 2 copies of cancelling Cologne. I prefer it to the hands version, I feel like hands makes the deck even more clunky.
I saw that he did well with that build. I was actually talking to Lucas Xing about that build for Portland. I don't find it that much more consistent, the only additional consistency card is the 4th nest and then 9th water. The pure water build relies heavily on the cologne play, and is more susceptible to bax getting knocked out or Iono/Counter Catcher plays since you aren't leaving energy in play with Hands. I still think it is solid, and I've messed around with it, but I still prefer the Hands version