Malamar lost it’s reputation for being a consistent powerful deck after it was played at Worlds. The deck saw very high numbers taking up around one third of the meta in Masters Day 1 and despite the popularity, not a single Malamar deck made it to Top 8…It didn’t even make Top 16! I felt the need to explain where competitors (including myself) went wrong with their lists and strategy. This piece covers a few different builds, but for the most part talks about my current list; match ups are the other focus of the article taking up about half the piece. Through covering this info I explain where we went wrong with Malamar at Worlds. Let’s start with the first step to building a list and look at a skeleton.
Updated Malamar Skeleton
|Pokémon – 18||Trainers – 31||Energy – 8|
|4||Malamar||4||Lillie||4||Pokemon Communication||1||More Energy|
|1||Ditto Prism Star||2||Escape Board|
|2||Big Hitters||3||Viridian Forest|
This may be a skeleton, but it is actually 55 cards (not including the Big Hitters part). If you just get the shell of Malamar stamped into your head, you will notice that building new versions or tweaking lists takes very little work. Look, you do not need to overwhelm yourself by trying to figure out if Acro Bike is good, or if Custom Catcher really is worth it. No need to think about stuff like if you can get away with three Switch or if two Jirachi is enough. I did the work for you, so now you can put your energy into mastering your play and tweaking the variants for your meta. With that being said, I know not everybody is quick to just accept this big skeleton right off the bat. This is a short explanation of why it looks the way it does.
First of all, why are people not playing Custom Catcher in this deck? If there is a single mistake it seems the majority of players are making with their lists, it is not including four copies of this staple. There is not a top tier deck in the format that does not play either Ninetales or Custom Catcher, and Malamar is no exception (Infinity Stones might be an exception). You can easily be abused by any deck that plays Mew when your only out to damaging benched stuff is through Espurr, and most decks in this format do play Mew. Catchers are a no-brainer in my view.
Jirachi is pretty well established in the deck at this point, but the count of Jirachi is not obvious. Three is the minimum because you need to maximize your chances of getting good openings. It is your best starter and in the mid-to-late-game Jirachi makes it far more possible to use double-Catcher. Four is preferred, but three is the base.
Ten is the lowest number of Supporters you can get away with. Otherwise you end up dead drawing too frequently, no matter how many Jirachi you play. Four Lillie and Cynthia are pretty intuitive, but those last few draw slots are up for debate. I like a split of Erika and Copycat because against the decks with small benches they tend to have big hands. However, against the decks that tend to have smaller hands, they usually have a full bench. Blacephalon Nag actually has both a big hand and bench, making either Supporters strong. Sightseer, Ingo & Emmet, Hapu, and Tate & Liza have all been tested in here; none of them are better than Erika or Copycat.
Seven Psychic is the lowest I can go without making my chances of getting a turn-two attack off unbearably low. Some lists can use that other Energy slot on another Psychic or Recycle if they play no alternative Energy-type attackers. Otherwise you can play a Metal or Fighting.
Let’s get to the variants. There are two ways to build a straight Psychic Malamar deck: with Spell Tags or without Spell Tags. This first list does not have them, mostly to display how much consistency you really can fit in this deck when you opt to not include them. The list underneath that does have Tags is what I consider to be the better version for a pure Psychic Malamar deck. Still, depending on the meta, it might be better at some point to play a list entirely oriented around consistency.
Variant #1: Pure Psychic (w/out Tags)
|Pokémon – 20||Trainers – 32||Energy – 8|
|1||Ditto Prism Star||2||Escape Board|
|1||Dawn Wings Necrozma GX||3||Viridian Forest||1||Reset Stamp|
|1||Espeon Deoxys GX|
This list is pretty consistent, but there are still some techs in here that could be cut for even more consistency. At a certain point you have to stop prioritizing consistency over every tech because the most consistent deck in the world will not beat anything if it has no power behind the consistency. Fitting in stuff like Latios GX and Reset Stamp is pretty sweet because your Mewtwo match up is much more manageable. I like this list, but in general it is not the list I would recommend playing.
Variant #1.5: Pure Psychic (w/ Tags)