Looking Towards a Post-Rotation World with Pikarom
Welcome back readers. Today I will be starting my coverage for World’s 2019 format which is very exciting since it is also the new post-rotation standard format. For anyone who does not already know, Sun and Moon, Guardians Rising, Burning Shadows, Crimson Invasion, and Shining Legends are rotating out of standard format August 15th and Unified Minds becomes legal on August 16th, the first day of competition at World Championships 2019.
There are a plethora of great cards that we are losing to rotation, and it is important to analyze which archetypes lose the least and also which ones gain the most from the new set Unified Minds. Pikarom loses several universal cards like Nest Ball, Ultra Ball, Marshadow SHL, Tapu Lele-GX, and Guzma. I believe that Pikarom can make up for those losses with a new-age manner of building the deck with existing cards that were previously overshadowed by soon-to-be rotated cards and also with the help of new cards from Unified Minds. Pikarom is possibly more versatile than ever and its only major loss with rotation is Tapu Koko-GX, but after acclimating myself with post-rotation Pikarom I have not found myself missing Tapu Koko-GX much at all.
If it weren’t for Mewtwo & Mew Tag Team, I would have 3 Pikarom in this list but instead opted for a 2-1 split. Pikarom is the ideal main attacker of the deck and can full blitz as early as turn 1 thanks to the energy acceleration of Tapu Koko Prism and the energy cost decrease of Thunder Mountain Prism. The power of Tag Bolt GX now has a new layer to it since Guzma has rotated and damaging benched Pokémon is arguably more important now that our universal gust effect is gone. Mew UNB is a pesky Pikarom tech since it prevents bench damage, but fortunately this list is built to deal with that as effectively as possible.
Our 2 Zeraora-GX are mostly used for its ability to give your Pokémon free retreat. If you have ever piloted Pikarom before, you’ll know that people pivoting your Pokémon can be crucial to attach energy to the correct Pokémon with Dance of the Ancients and to rotate between attackers. Thunder Fist for 160 is mostly outclassed by Alolan Raichu & Raichu Tag Team GX now since that card can do 160 and paralyze for the same cost.
I would not play this deck with less than 3 Dedenne-GX since it is your only Pokémon-based draw power. Pikarom looks for a combination of cards early to power up a turn 1 Full Blitz and Dedenne-GX is crucial in finding those possible combinations of cards. Electromagnetic Radar allows Dedenne-GX to work seamlessly for lightning type decks as you can search it at the same time as a Pikarom or Zeraora-GX.
Zapdos has definitely been nerfed with the rotation of Guzma and Escape Rope, but still serves its desired role as the non-GX attacker in Pikarom. Zapdos is essential if you want a sufficient option versus the likes of abilities and attacks like Safeguard Pokémon that cannot be attacked by GX Pokémon. Zeraora-GX makes switching into Thunderous Assualt for the full 80 damage easy and Electropowers can buff the attack when needed.
Alolan Raichu & Raichu Tag Team is a really cool attacker that adds another versatile option to the Pikarom archetype. It is impressive with it's 260 HP and it’s first attack works like Zapdos’ Thunderous Assault - for three energy it does 80, and if it was on the bench this turn and then became active it does +80 damage and also paralyzes the defending Pokémon. This 160 and paralyze is a very relevant attack due Guzma and Acerola being out of standard format. Ideally, this attack can stick your opponent’s Pokémon in the active so that you can finish it off on the following turn. At worst, you still swing for 160 and your opponent has to find a switching effect or mixed herbs to remove the paralysis and swing back at Raichu. It’s GX attack is a little less impressive but still has utility that I have used numerous times over my accumulated testing thus far. For 3 energy Raichu’s GX attack does 150 damage and switches Raichu with one of your benched Pokémon, and if you have at least 2 extra energy attached it does +100 damage. I have used this several times in the late game to send up either a Zapdos or Dedenne-GX when my opponent needed to take 3 prizes to win the game. Of course there are gusting effects still, but none as universally usable as Guzma was.
Mewtwo & Mew is a card of substantial power since it can use the attacks of any of your discarded or benched GX Pokémon. This can be applicable when the Pokémon you want to use has been damaged or knocked out, when you want to hit for a different weakness, when your opponent would hit your lightning types for weakness, or when your opponent could more easily knock out one of your other Pokémon compared to the 270 HP Mewtwo & Mew.
Finally, Koko Prism makes the attack costs of your Pokémon much more manageable since it can accelerate two Lightning energy from the discard pile to two individual benched Pokémon. Tapu Koko Prism is only used for this one attribute, but it is explicitly necessary to the way this deck functions.
The 4 Radars are obvious since they search out Pikarom, Raichu Raichu, Zeraora, and Dedenne-GX. Unfortunately they cannot search out Tapu Koko Prism and Zapdos which are important in most situations and Mewtwo & Mew which is marginally less important. Our 2 Pokémon Communication can search out the Pokémon unsearchable by Radar and works well with Radar since Radar finds two Pokémon - one of which you could potentially send back to deck for the cost of Pokémon Communication.
This card does not replace Guzma in every deck nor does it feel like Guzma when it does fit into a deck. Because of the thinning and drawing that Dedenne-GX offers and the specific search of Volkner and Red’s Challenge, I feel that Pikarom is a deck that can naturally adapt to Custom Catcher over Guzma. I find a gusting effect to be very important in Pikarom in order to take out opposing Mew UNBs which can otherwise put a devastating hitch in your plan.
Reset Stamp is a powerful new card that offers balanced disruption in the absence of Marshadow SHL. It is designed to be a comeback and/or late game card when your opponent has gone down to a small number of remaining prize cards. A second stamp would be great as it can get discarded by showing up in early hands, but at this time I am confident in Pikarom’s power even in games when reset stamp isn’t used.
Yet another well-designed card from Unified Minds that is a pseudo replacement for an older card. In lieu of Max Potion and Acerola, Great Potion can heal 50 damage from your active Pokémon GX and is an item card, so two can heal 100, three can heal 150… and four can he’s 200. We’re only playing 2 in this deck since tanking damage is not a main priority but it is nice to mitigate two-shot strategies with this healing option.
I almost want more than 1 Tag Switch just because of how nicely it can work with Alolan Raichu Raichu it any tag teams when you’re trying to conserve attackers for that matter. The Energy switches still have priority over tag switches since moving energy around early is integral to using the early full blitz.
Why Pikarom? Matchups?
Pikarom was one of the first post rotation decks I built to start testing for worlds. I realized early on that any deck with specific Pokémon search has an advantage due to the loss of Ultra Ball and Nest Ball. As I have also mentioned, Custom Catcher works very well in this deck due to the amount of drawing and deck thinning which allows you to find cards easier, and Volkner and Red's Challenge which can specifically search out Custom Catcher in addition to other important trainers like Reset Stamp and Great Potion.
Matchups are tough to discuss right now since lists are new and preliminary and we’re not sure of the prototypes for each archetype yet. Pikarom feels like one of the 50/50 decks of the new format as of now. My given list loses to Shedinja Control which is a deck that attaches a Shedinja to their Oranguru so that their active Pokémon is never rewarding prize cards while looping cards into their deck with resource manamegent. Pachirisu LOT is a possible tech for this matchup since you’d be able to make use of it in other matchups in a pinch as well. Pachirisu does 60 and paralyzes if the defending Pokémon has a tool attached, which will leave their Oranguru paralyzed and unable to use resource management on their next turn. In response to this they can Tate and Liza into a Shedinja and then attach it as a tool to guru, but the 60 over and over while removing a tool will eventually net the Pikarom player prize cards due to the Shedinja being popped off.
With the combination of 1, 2 and 3 prizes attackers, the new utility of Alolan Raichu Raichu Tag Team, and replacements for old cards like Great Potion and Custom Catcher, Pikarom keeps a similar engine to the pre-rotation build and is going into post rotation as one of my top picks. This archetype is a force to be reckoned with and rewards skillful play due to the options and potential this deck offers.