Standard Tier List, Metagame Review and Fire Box Updates
The Origins Special Event in Columbus, Ohio takes place this week and we are just over a week away from NAIC which is the largest annual tournament on our side of the planet. Madison Regionals defined our current meta as being GX-centric with Reshizard, Pikarom, Zoroark-GX, and Blacephalon-GX being widely respected as the four strongest archetypes. Reshizard and Pikarom have the most oppression due to their high HP and huge damage output, while Blacephalon-GX is slightly less powerful but only gives up 2 prize cards opposed to the 3 that Reshi and Pika give for being KO’d. Zoroark is more of a toolbox than ever since there are a variety of overpowered threats to attempt to handle.
Below is a Tier List revised from the list I posted two weeks ago.
Tier 1: archetypes in this tier are meta defining. These are the decks that are being teched for and countered. Archetypes in this tier are expected to be popular and perform well.
- Reshizard ↔
- Blacephalon-GX ↑
- PikaRom ↑
- Zoroark-GX / Water Attackers / Silvally / Fighting Techs ↑
Tier 2: archetypes in this tier have inherent strength but are not as oppressive and/or threatening as tier 1 decks. These decks are not expected to be universally teched against. Archetypes in this tier are expected to perform decently well, but are not generally seen as overpowered in a diverse field of decks.
- Zapdos ↓
- Stall ↓
- Weezing ↓
- Baby Blowns ↔
- Granbull ↑
- Nag Quag ↑
Tier 3: Archetypes in this tier have flaws such as lack of consistency, no draw engine, and/or bad matchup spreads. These decks are noticeably in a lower echelon and are expected to be much less popular and successful than decks in Tiers 1 and 2.
- Malamar ↔
- Blissey Welder ↑
Rogue: These archetypes are either 1) not established as a known archetype or 2) have fallen off since their inception and have become an outlier in the current meta. These decks are usually not prepared for and go under the radar for most players.
- Vikavolt UNB ↔
- Nidoqueen Meganium ↔
- Shedinja Oranguru ↓
- Zoroark Control ↓
2-2 Arcanine UNB
Starting with one of the most unique parts of this deck, the 2-2 line of Arcanine. Many lists surfaced with 1-1 Arcanine as a Vileplume BUS tech, but the card ended up being an efficient one prize attacker elsewhere. Using your first Arcanine as early as turn 2 to either deal 190 + Choice Band or 120 and accelerate energy applies a lot of pressure and is very possible due to Welder, Kiawe, and Volcanion UNB. Using Grand Flame turn 2 to power up either a Growlithe or Turtonator DRM is a very strong play against most GX decks that are leading a GX attacker. Chaining back-to-back Arcanines vs Zapdos variants is very strong and hard for them to deal with since Arcanine has 140 HP and one shots Zapdos while simultaneously replenishing energy to the bench.
1 Eevee Snorlax / 1 Reshizard
Since I have made my list so focused on having a variety of attackers, there is a lack of room to have 2 of either of these tag teams in my opinion. I started with 2 Reshizard and 1 Eeveelax, but I recently cut the second Reshizard for a Rescue Stretcher. Reshizard is the best all-situations attacker to power up, while Eeevelax shines versus Zoroark-GX due to Dumptruck Press.
Originally omitted, I tried both Max Potion and Acerola in Miltank’s place for this specific build of Reshi. I realized that maxing out on switches for consistent filtering of attackers and utilizing Jirachi is optimal anyway, so adding Miltank and keeping an abundance of switching to mesh with Moomoo Malt seemed like the correct way to go. MIltank healing an Arcanine is the nail in the coffin versus Zapdos and Weezing, while using Moomoo Malt and Welder to heal 180 from a Reshi or EeeveeLax after a large hit is devastating versus any deck unable to one-shot your tag teams.
Turtonator offers an attack that is super similar to Blacephalon-GX’s Mind Blown except it is on a single prize attacker and the energy cards go to the discard instead of the lost zone. Turtonator can realistically KO any Pokemon, especially after a turn 1 Kiawe or turn 2 Grand Flame to get a lot of energy on board. The attack from Turtonator can come out of nowhere since you can bench Turtonator, attach for turn, Welder two additional energy down, and then switch into Turtonator all in the same turn. Turtonator is not efficient versus other single prize attackers, but most of the other Pokemon in this deck are.
1 Volcanion UNB
Switching into Volcanion on your first turn going second to use Flare Starter for 3 additional energy onto the board is nothing short of amazing. The fact that you can spread these energy out however you like and you are leaving a single prize Pokemon active is the icing on the cake that solidifies Volcanion’s spot in this deck. An additional bonus is how nuts Volcanion is versus Zapdos due to Volcanions 120 HP which means Zapdos needs 2 electropower to one shot it and Volcanion’s High-Heat Blast deals 110 with 4 energy on board which is exactly Zapdos’ HP.
3 Jirachi / 2 Marshadow / 1 Tapu Lele-GX / 1 Dedenne-GX
Shrine of Punishments can be brutal vs Reshi variants and Pikarom since Reshizard’s Flare Strike for 230 + 1 Shrine proc is an OHKO on Pikarom and Flare Strike for 230 + Choice Band + 1 Shrine proc is an OHKO on Reshizard and EeveeLax.
For a similar reason I want to add shrine, Kukui could make Arcanine be able to one shot Pikarom with Heat Tackle 190 + Band 220 + Kukui 240. It can also help achieve the same OHKOs that Shrine does, but as a Supporter it’s much harder to pull off since you need to use Welder on a lot of big turns.
Fiery Flint was in the deck but I dropped 2 Fiery Flint for a 3rd Fire Crystal and 4th Acro Bike. With 12 Energy in the deck and cards that help you dig for them like Dedenne-GX and Acro Bike, Fiery Flint felt more extraneous than necessary most of the time and a 3rd Crystal is very nice to have.
Before getting specific, I will say that so many matchups are close and are decided by opening hands, swing turns, Let Loose draws, and of course who plays a more perfect game. While many matchups can be played as a one prize heavy deck, sometimes you start with a tag team or a hand that doesn’t allow you to play your ideal strategy.
Vs. DDG Reshizard (and similar lists)
Double Arcanine and Turtonator are your MVPs here. If you are going to swing into a tag team and not knock it out, assess the situation and Let Loose accordingly if you think their hand is large enough to be holding a Miltank healing combo. If Miltank is already benched, Guzma KO on Miltank with Grand Flame to also accel energy onto your bench is a strong play, especially if you have Turtonator and/or Arcanine available to you next turn. Ideally I want my opponent to take prizes in these orders: 1 prize, 1 prize, 1 prize, 1 prize, 3 prizes - or - 3 prizes, 1 prize, 1 prize, 2 or 3 prizes. Using tag teams when your opponent has less than 3 prizes left gets extra mileage out of your single prize attackers and causes the game to go on longer usually in your favor.
Vs. Mirror (One Prize Heavy Fire)
There are two ways to play this to give yourself the advantage. Option 1 is to try to trade 1 prizers more aggressively than your opponent and keep GXs off of your board. Option 2 is to lead with a tag team and successfully heal two-shot attempts with Miltank. These strategies will often be decided on what your starting Pokemon is and what is prized. For example, if MIltank is prized you will want to go with the one prize option if possible, and if you have a 1-1 Arcanine line prized you will usually want to lead an Arcanine but power up a tag team to follow up with.
If you watch back any of the Madison streamed matches between DDG Reshizard and Pikarom you’ll notice that the Reshi player usually hid behind a jirachi until they could guzma Pikarom and use Reshi’s GX attack for the full 300 for 6 energy. With my list, you have Choice Band as an option to allow Flare Strike to take an OHKO on opposing Pikaroms, Choice band to allow Eeveelax’s Megaton Friends GX to take an OHKO on opposing Pikaroms, and of course more single prize attackers. Arcanine’s Grand Flame swings 120 and attached 2 energy to a benched Pokémon, so your opponent has a Pikarom ready to be knocked out whether your opponent knocks out Arcanine or the benched Pokémon you attached to. Of course they could always get aggressive with Aapdos, but as long as we evolve into an Arcanine, the 140 HP is a lot for a Zapdos to extend to take down in one hit.
It is easy to create an overwhelming board if you can establish a turn 1 Reshi by either Welder or Kiawe. Accompany the first Blacephalon GX knock out with a Let Loose to do your best to affect their upcoming Beast Ring turn if they aren't stuck on a dead hand. Leading with Arcanine or Turt is very viable to play a one prize strategy, especially since turt with choice band only needs 3 fire energy discarded for an OHKO and Arcanine’s second attack one shots a Blacephalon GX without any modifiers. Blacephalon has some slight favor versus Reshi since it only awards 2 prize cards opposed to 3, but as I prefaced this section with: most of these high tier matchups are very close and come down to draws, swing turns, and player performance.
Vs. Zoroark Persian Slowking
I consider this matchup to be slightly in Reshi’s favor due to Zoroking needing a few one-of cards to take an OHKO on Eeveelax ie: Marshadow-GX, Koga’s Trap, Alolan Grimer in the discard. The Slowking is a huge threat to Reshi, but is more evenly matched by our Arcanines. A single Eeveelax will often take 3-4 prizes and give up 3, making it at worse a neutral trade by my estimations.
Vs. Zoroark Dewgong
Zoroark Dewgong can set up two shots on two of our Pokémon simultaneously with Dewgong’s 60/60 spread. Miltank being used to heal one of these 60 spreads is a very strong tempo swing, as is using Arcanine to clear off Dewgongs with Grand Flame.
Vs. Zapdos Variants
Unfavored on paper, but Zapdos is challenged by our 2-2 line of Arcanine and Volcanion. Both Arcanine and Volcanion require 2 Electropower + Thunderous Assault to be knocked out in one hit. They can snipe our growlithes in the opening turns which brings the favor back to them and our ability to establish a one prize board will dictate the early advantage. It is completely possible to win with a tag team strategy due to Miltank, but the pressure to make plays is on Reshi in this match.
Overall, I think Fire Box is a great choice for NAIC in a diverse Standard metagame and offers a lot of flexibility. Good luck if you pick it up!
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