Malamar Forbidden Light

– Forbidden Light

Date Reviewed:
July 30, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.00
Expanded: 3.00
Limited: 3.50
Theme: 4.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below:


Another piece of Psychic support that’s leaving rotation (after reviewing Mysterious Treasure) is Malamar from SM Forbidden Light! It’s selling point is it’s Psychic Recharge ability, which puts a Psychic energy from the discard to one of your Benched Pokemon. As previous Pokemon such as Eelectrik NVI and Bronzong PHF showed, this is a very useful ability that you can get away with discarding energy cards without any consequences. However, some of the decks might not need a Stage 1 Bench sitting Pokemon in fear of having their Abilities offline and being “gusted” and OHKOed (as 90 HP is pretty low, even sufficient Bench damage can still KO it). Still, this is a card to be missed in Standard, since some Psychic based decks will be hurt without Malamar….except for maybe Mewtwo & Mew-GX.


Standard: 3/5 (Soon to be N/A)
Expanded: 3/5
Limited: 3/5


9th-place in our countdown goes to Malamar (SM – Forbidden Light 51/131; SM – Black Star Promos SM117; Shiny Vault SV18/SV94)!  Our focus is on its Ability: “Psychic Recharge” lets you attach a [P] Energy card from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon.  It is a once-per-turn effect, in the sense that each instance of Psychic Recharge can be used once, prior to attacking.  Basic Psychic Energy is the only Energy that counts as [P] while in your discard pile.  Naturally, Psychic Pokémon are the most likely to use [P] energy well, but you can attach to any Pokémon, so long as it is on your Bench.  Energy acceleration is potent because it lets you access your attacks more quickly, including more expensive and (theoretically) strong attacks.

The rest of Malamar matters as well.  [PPC] let’s it use “Psychic Sphere” to do 60 damage; it is a badly overpriced attack, but Psychic Recharge means you could use it, when desperate.  Malamar is a single-Prize, “regular” Pokémon.  It’s a Psychic type, so it can access tricks like Mysterious Treasure… our 11th-place finisher in this countdown.  If you’re desperate and need to attack with Malamar, the good news is that [P] Weakness can come in handy, but the bad news is that [P] Resistance is somewhat common.  Being a Stage 1 is okay.  Running a TecH copy with just a Ditto {*} isn’t a likely to make sense, from a 1-1 to a full 4-4 line can prove competitive: it all depends on the deck and the rest of the metagame.  It just isn’t as strong or flexible as being a Basic… though that still might be a bonus, given how easily Abilities on Basics can be countered in Expanded (and in past Standard Formats).

90 HP isn’t good, but it isn’t awful, either.  Gradual damage spread won’t take out your Benched copies of Malamar too quickly, but a focused Bench-hit is likely to do the job.  If Malamar finds itself up front, it almost guaranteed to be a OHKO.  [P] Weakness would matter more if the HP was higher; as is, attacks doing under 50 still whiff on the OHKO, while attacks doing 90+ already had it.  No Resistance is the worst, but also the most common.  Plus, your opponent has to be depending on a single type of attacker for it to strongly matter.  A Retreat Cost of [CC] is also typical; low enough you can often pay it, but high enough you’ll usually prefer not to.  It isn’t uncommon to see a Malamar deck use a spare Psychic Recharge to attach a Psychic Energy or two to Malamar in case it needs to retreat later.

We’ve looked at this Malamar twice already, first as our top pick from its set, then as as the 4th-best card from 2018.  Currently, Malamar decks seem to be good but not great.  If they were sticking around, they’d take a hit from losing Mysterious Treasure, but this kind of Energy acceleration isn’t new, and seems to mostly just wait until we get the right attackers with which to pair it.  I’m low on time and room in the review, so I’m not going to dive deep into the various Malamar archetypes, because there are so many.  In general, if an attacker can benefit from extra Psychic Energy attachments, it probably has a Malamar variant.  Giratina (SM – Lost Thunder 97/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM151) is a pretty famous example, but we’ve also seen stuff like Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX or Mewtwo & Mew-GX backed by Malamar.

I still have no hard data for Expanded Format events since Rebel Clash became legal, and there were few tournaments from shortly before that, either.  I think Malamar still has a future here, but for the last two tournaments, it wasn’t making the top cut.  It is great to have in the Limited Format; even if you lack any Psychic attackers, as long as you can cover your [C] Energy requirements, it can still be a huge help.  That is also why it is a great card to have in the Theme Format.  You can find it it “Twilight Rogue” and “Laser Focus”.  The former only gives you a single copy and has been left far behind by power creep, but Laser Focus still has some chops.  Related to Standard, Expanded, and the Theme Format, Malamar is also good for budget/beginner decks!


  • Standard: 3/5
  • Expanded: 3/5
  • Limited: 4/5
  • Theme: 4/5

If the scores seem low, remember that Malamar isn’t doing so hot right now.  It was easily a four-out-of-five (maybe more) during its high points.  Yes, “points”, plural.  As it has already fallen in and out of favor with the competitive scene a few times, if Malamar was sticking around, I think it’d go through that cycle at least once more.  I had Malamar as my 11th-place pick, but 9th still seems appropriate.

We would love more volunteers to help us with our Card of the Day reviews.  If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email.  We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc.   😉

Click here to read our Pokémon Card of the Day Archive.  We have reviewed more than 4200 Pokemon cards over the last 20 years!