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Is Chien Pao the best new deck from Paldea Evolved?

The Chien Pao ex, Baxcaliber deck is a promising archetype coming out in our Paldea Evolved set. The deck has been doing very well in smaller events throughout April and May in Japan but struggled to convert in the larger Champions League event in Nigata. Veteran players can't help comparing this deck to an old favourite, Keldeo EX/Blastoise, a top-performing deck in the Black and White era in fact ‘Rain Dance’ style decks have been a successful strategy since the very first expansion of the Pokemon TCG. Will this new iteration follow its prestigious predecessors, or has the game evolved beyond the strategy and will Baxcaliber be cast aside like many other recent rain dancers? With Prerelease events starting at Griffins Gaming today, let's discuss!

Chien Pao ex (Special Illustration Rare)


Baxcaliber is really the card that makes the deck a powerhouse. It's a stage 2 water-type Pokemon with the ‘Super Cold’ ability which allows you to attach basic water energy from your hand to one of your Pokemon as often as you like, which breaks the fundamental one energy per turn rule of Pokemon. This can allow us to use higher energy attack costs of Pokemon for large payoffs and gives the deck an easy way to reload its attackers out of nowhere after suffering Knockouts.

Baxcaliber's hit points and attack are also worth noting 160 hit points are high for a single prizer and it deals 130 damage without a drawback which means Baxcaliber can get into the action in a pinch against other single-prize match-ups. It’s preferred to leave Baxcaliber on the bench rather than attacking as it is an integral part of your strategy and if it goes down without a backup it’s easy to fall behind as the Chien Pao deck relies heavily on using Super Cold to accelerate energy every turn.

Baxcaliber (Pre-release Promo)

One of the key differences between Baxcaliber and the number of other ‘rain dancers’ in recent times which haven't quite found success is that Baxcaliber has fantastic support cards around it Irida is going to be a crucial supporter for this deck as it can find both a rare candy and Baxcaliber immediately of one supporter effect. Irida is just an exceptional card in the deck in general, it's fantastic on the opening turns to get your ball search and other water Pokemon developed and it can help search out some key item cards throughout the game.

Chien Pao ex

The big new attacker in the deck, Chien Pao ex is a basic water-type Pokemon which will be used as the main attacking option when coming up against multi-prize match-ups, Chien Pao ex's ‘hail blade’ attack deals 60 damage times the number of water energy discarded from your Pokemon. It will often take five or six energy all in a turn to reach one-hit knockouts, which may seem like a daunting task but Chien Pao ex also has the incredible ‘Shivery Chill’ ability to help us out. When Chien Pao ex is in the active position, it can search for two water energy from your deck and put them directly into your hand! This is a great way to access your energy in the opening stages and this ability is not limited to just once per turn so switching between your Chien Pao ex can escalate the amount of water energy that you are able to grab very quickly.

Chien Pao ex (EX Battle Deck Promo)

This combination of Chien Pao ex and Baxcaliber is going to be the backbone of the archetype grabbing your energy from the deck and immediately attaching them to the board in one turn.

Support Pokemon & Trainers

Chien Pao ex is more than happy to come up against other multi-prize match-ups, but against single-prize match-ups, such as Lost Zone Box, Radiant Greninja is a complete no-brainer in the deck. Thanks to Chien Pao ex, the deck has constant access to energy and it can make use of the ‘Moonlight Shuriken’ attack as early as turn two, which forces decks to commit their own ball search and bench space to a Manaphy in the opening stages, or face the 90 damage spread from Greninja.

Radiant Greninja

Kyogre from Crown Zenith is also a great choice, 180 damage anywhere on the board is perfect for handling a vast majority of single-prize threats and is another way that the deck can pressurize your opponent's bench with this damage capable of even knocking out Lumineon V or Squakabilly ex for an easy upgrade without the need for Boss’s Orders or Serena.

Including your own Manaphy in the list is very important to stop the sniping an opponent will want in mirror match situations and against Lost Zone Box decks that have the option to use mirage gate Radiant Greninja combos.

Lumineon V (Trainer's Toolkit 2022)

Adding a copy of Lumineon V into the deck makes sense as it activates your Ultra Balls which the deck plays in high counts to increase your odds of finding that Irida combination to get your turn two Baxcaliber rolling let's not forget of course that you can use Lumineon V as an attacker if needed. Lumineon V can be very handy against single-prizers you can punish the likes of Escape Rope by throwing this card into the active position to take a hit and then simply jump back into the deck afterwards with ‘Aqua Return’ undoing the turn of damage. This puts decks such as Lost Zone Box far behind in the prize race.

As for new trainer cards in Paldea Evolved that help this deck flourish, Superior Energy retrieval is a returning item to the TCG which is integral to giving this deck enough fuel to see us through the game even when Chien Pao ex is throwing your energy into the discard pile from turn to turn. A copy of Super Rod, another returning item to the TCG, which serves a similar purpose as Superior Energy retrieval seeing as though you can immediately access the energy the rod put back into the deck with the Chien Pao ex but it also allows access to lower counts of single prize attackers in the match-ups where they're relevant, especially the Lost Zone Box matchups.

Bibarel (Pre-release Promo)

Although it’s an extra Stage 1 evolution line, Bibarel may be a card that is included in the deck too! With both Ultra Ball and Superior Energy retrieval at your disposal, the deck has many ways of reducing your hand size making Bibarel an excellent inclusion into the deck. This gives us some added draw power throughout the game and offers protection against Iono. Iono is a card you are going to be very used to seeing for the next three years as it puts you and your opponent's current hand on the bottom of your deck and then you draw a card for each of your prize cards remaining. Every deck in the format is going to have to respect Iono in some way and in this case but Bibarel makes a lot of sense seeing as you want to constantly reload a ton of energy turn by turn and develop different attackers.

The stadium cards in this deck may end up looking slightly strange, many Japanese lists are playing a couple of copies of Skaters Park. There are some cool plays you can make with this card in this list, with Baxcaliber already developed and Chien Pao ex in the active position you can use the 'Super Cold' ability to attach them both to your active Pokemon and use ‘Skaters Park’ to put those energies back into your hand before using the next Chien Pao ex's ability. It's really important that the deck plays a number of stadium cards in the deck anyway as you need ways to remove 'Path To The Peak' so that Radiant Greninja can use 'Concealed Cards' and your Chien Pao ex can use 'Shivery Chill'. I think the deck should also play will also play a single Lost Vacuum for a similar reason, the upside being that lost vacuum is an item card so it is searchable with Irida. I would also recommend playing a couple of copies of Iono for your own element of hand disruption in the deck. A single Professor's Research for a deeper dig which you can search out with Lumineon V when it's necessary. As well as the obvious Boss's Orders for targeting benched Pokémon.

How do we play into other decks in the meta?

Against Gardevoir ex, we attempt to present as many single prize attacking threats as possible threatening spread from the beginning of the game is important but typically using our Boss's Orders on engine Pokemon like Kirlia is a higher priority than Manaphy itself seeing as though we could often be the ones going ahead in a prize race simply hurting their engine can slow down the opponent’s setup.

When playing against Lugia VSTAR, we're going to have to adapt to their mixture of single and multi-prize attackers and essentially just respond accordingly. Kyogre is likely to shine in this matchup if ever the opponent is forced to use their own Lumineon V in the opening turns because it’s super easy to take a two-prize knockout against!

The Lost Zone box matchup is almost entirely single-prize-based. Using our several chunky single-prize attackers including Baxcaliber, and Kyogre, it’s possible to re-use them with Super Rod. An early Lumineon V can punish their use of Escape rope and can leap back into the deck so feel free to proactively fish to find the likes of Boss’s orders to target their Manaphy or Iono for that hand disruption.

Mew VMAX can be somewhat of a slugfest and Chien Pao ex is likely to shine but try to defend a developed Barrel before committing to a big Vmax Knock Out seeing as though the Mew VMAX player will likely be throwing an Iono plus path combination back at you the next turn.

What do you think of Chien Pao ex? Will you be building the deck? Do you see yourself running it in league challenges or cups? Let me know in the comments below or join the Griffins Gaming Discord Server.

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