Malamar Forbidden Light

#4 – Malamar
– Forbidden Light

Date Reviewed:
December 26, 2018

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 4.10
Expanded: 3.92
Limited: 4.33

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

Reviews Below:


…do I need to say anything?

Malamar’s a Stage 1 Psychic Pokemon, 90 HP, and it gets you Energy from the discard pile. That’s really all you need to know, and that’s all that really matters. It made the #1 spot on our Forbidden Light list for a reason! Between the various forms of Necrozma-GX, Malamar was bound to find a partner, and it comes as no surprise that both forms work out really well with him, especially Ultra Necrozma-GX.

He’s gonna be good, he was always gonna be good, he’s gonna continue to be good.


Standard: 4.5/5 (that’s the review)

Expanded: 4.5/5 (there’s really not much else to say)

Limited: 4.5/5 (these kinds of cards have always been good)

Arora Notealus:…I guess I could talk about Oranguru a little bit here, since I don’t have much else to say about Malamar. Not that I have much to say about Oranguru, Resource Management is just a pretty good way of getting stuff back. Sure it puts it at the bottom, but that doesn’t matter if you search it out again. 

Next Time: Wasn’t this Pokemon reviewed like, a few years ago?


Malamar (FLI 51) completely turned the game upside down when it came into the meta out of the Forbidden Light expansion set back in May.  Remember back to the early part of the year?  Buzzwole GX was running rampant all over the place, second at Collinsville in February, four out of the top five at Charlotte in March, 1st and 2nd at Sao Paolo in April, first place in Toronto in May….

And then a week later the purple squid showed up.  I will say that Buzzwole still held its own in the first week of June at Madison and even at the regional in Mexico City at the end of that month, but you could already see that the writing was on the wall for the Protein Shake.  That Psychic weakness was just too much for the Giant Mosquito to overcome, even with the emergence of Baby Buzz as perhaps the superior card.

The first part of 2018 was the golden age for Fighting archetypes, and Malamar helped dampen their success after its release in May.  It also paved the way, in part, for Zoroark GX to reclaim its top spot, as Zoroark Garbodor (BKP) decks won both of the last two tournaments of last season, the International at Columbus (largest Pokemon tournament ever) and the world championship at the end of August.  With the rise in popularity and potency of Psychic Toolbox decks, Buzzwole GX and Buzzwole FLI fell out of favor.  With the decrease in Fighting archetypes at major tournaments, Zoroark GX found its way back to the top of the meta, with an unlikely ally in Garbotoxin Garbodor to help it shut down the Psychic Toolboxes.

Psychic archetypes have continued to thrive post rotation.  They went 1-2 in Memphis at the beginning of October, and Malamar decks finished 5th and 7th at Roanoke in November.  A Malamar Spread variant even finished 4th at Harrogate a couple of weeks ago.  The purple squid will still win you matches, and there are a wide variety of different builds you can come up with and still manage to have a good amount of success.


Standard: 4 out of 5


My favorite build was a Malamar, Drampa GX, Promo Dawn Wings Necrozma deck I ran a lot of in October.  I was frequently able to abuse Beast Rings with it and finish up the game with Lunala Prism, which can really hit for a LOT of damage.  I actually went 26 W 3 L with one version of that deck.  But like I said, there are a ton of different combinations and archetypes you can use with Malamar, that’s the main reason I really like this card: it has inspired so much creativity in how people are using it.  Every tournament, somebody shows up with a different Malamar Psychic Toolbox build and does well with it.  It just goes to show how versatile and powerful the card is in the game today.


Like you didn’t expect a Pokémon with an ability that does energy based acceleration to be somewhere on the list.

Like Eelectrik NVI and Bronzong PHF before it, Malamar FBL has an ability which puts a Basic Psychic energy from your discard pile into one of your Benched Pokemon. When it does that, it accelerates energy (even if it’s just one energy per Ability) while conserving resources (getting stuff back) and makes discards as a cost inconsequential (discarding a Psychic energy from your hand via Trade as an example, knowing that you’ll easily get it back). 

It goes without saying that Malamar will help each and every attackers that need Psychic or Colorless attack costs. That is why it took the best card of the Sun & Moon Forbidden Light expansion. It will continue to see play for the foreseeable future. Perhaps the drawbacks of using this card is facing an opposing ability denial (prevalent in Expanded due to Garbodor) and it’s 90 HP is bait for Guzma or snipe damage (being hit on the Bench). Drawbacks aside, Malamar should be a definite must run for decks running Psychic energy.


Standard: 4/5 (Ability based acceleration is a great asset.)

Expanded: 4.25/5 (And with more cards in this card pool, that’s a lot of enabling.)

Limited: 4/5 (I don’t think it’ll perform much on its own, but it can help others.)

Theme: 4/5 (Especially if this Theme Deck provides just a single copy…)

Notes: This ability historically sees play, but with some of the energy based acceleration exists like Ether and Max Elixir, its value diminishes a bit, but not enough to count those engines out.

Next up: This snail is consistently slow, but consistently useful!


We’ve been counting down the Top 11 Cards of 2018, and we’re finally breaking into the top four. Don’t we normally do Top 10 lists? Yes, but 11 let us easily end the countdown on Monday, December 31st, so we fudged things a bit. Fourth place is Malamar (SM – Forbidden Light 51/131; SM – Black Star Proms SM117), a Stage 1 [P] Type Pokémon with 90 HP, [P] Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC], the Ability “Psychic Recharge”, and the attack “Psychic Sphere”. Up to once per turn per copy of Psychic Recharge, before you attack, the Ability lets you attach a [P] Energy from your discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon. Psychic Sphere costs [PPC] to do 60 damage. Even if you’re brand new to the game, I hope it is clear that Psychic Recharge is what landed Malamar here but also let it top the SM – Forbidden Light countdown. Few people doubted Malamar would fail to do well… because Malamar is very unoriginal. Just sticking with the Expanded Format’s cardpool, you’ll see Bronzong (XY – Phantom Forces 61/119; XY – Black Star Promos XY21) and Eelektrik (BW – Noble Victories 40/101). There are plenty of differences, but they tend to be minor. In all three cases, we’ve got a 90 HP Stage 1 with a Retreat Cost of [CC], a filler attack that was rarely used, and an Ability that lets you attach a basic Energy of a particular Type from your discard pile, and that stacks.

Malamar also had great timing, as it released into a metagame where Buzzwole-GX had been dominating. anything with sufficient [P] or [C] Energy needs can take advantage of Psychic Recharge, but it naturally lends itself to actual [P] Types. We were spoon fed a few obvious decks, and innovators came up with a few less than obvious decks. You can run Malamar with mostly Pokémon-GX, with no Pokémon-GX, or with a mix of the two, and still do well with the deck. We even received additional [P] support that worked well with Malamar, especially the GX-less versions, in the form of Giratina (SM – Lost Thunder 97/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM151) and Spell Tag. Malamar decks have been a competitive presence since their release, usually a sound choice and sometimes the best. Malamar’s Expanded Format performance doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as strong. In fact, a quick glance didn’t bring up any major events where it placed highly. A very quick glance.

Malamar is great for the Limited Format, though it isn’t too likely you’ll get the chance to try it out as Pokémon doesn’t have a lot of Limited Format events; usually, just Pre-Releases.  Even just one of these can practically eliminate a [C] Energy cost for your attackers.  At least, when the timing works out right.  The “Twilight Rogue” Theme Deck features a lone Malamar, and it does a similar job there however Theme Decks have steadily been improving, so while Twilight Rogue was among the better built ones when released, it is now only just a “competitive” Theme Deck for the Theme Format.  Odds are another set or two and it’ll be obsolete.  Still, when it shows up Malamar usually a wonderful Bench-sitter.


Standard: 3.9/5

Expanded: 3/5

Limited: 4.5/5

Theme: 4/5

Malamar itself isn’t going to win you games, but what Psychic Recharge powers up should.  Still, remember that this card is vital for Malamar decks and not really anything else.  You don’t see a 1-1 Malamar line slipped into too many decks, let alone those that win.

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