Uncharted Territory

An Exploration into Primal Clash’s Expanded Format
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Everyone’s en route to the Sunshine State.

Reading through other writers’ articles from the past couple of weeks and taking the circumstances into account, I can tell that Florida Regionals is shaping up to be both one of the largest tournaments ever and an event that rewards innovation and commitment to the game.

This will be the first time that there has been only one location for a Regional in the US on a given weekend, meaning that players from all over the country will be congregating in Florida alone. With winter only having two weekends of Regionals this year I expect many players will hope to take advantage of this opportunity to gain Championship Points, especially with more players “in the race” for an invite this year because of the 300-Point cutoff. I talked to a few players at Virginia Regionals who said that the preregistration numbers for Florida were in the 600s for all divisions, and that number can only have gone up in the past two weeks.

These circumstances also play into the unique nature of Florida’s metagame. Not only will we have a large field of players from across the country, but we will also also have a new set to work with: Primal Clash. I expect a majority of the competitive players in attendance will have gone to one of the four Regionals over Valentine’s Day weekend, meaning that they will have realistically had only two weeks to fully commit to testing the new format.

As many of you know, a common theme of my articles and the topic that usually gets the best feedback from readers is information from Japan. Japan is still playing Black & White-on, which lends a perfect opportunity to look at the decks that are doing well there and see how they can be modified to work in Standard (if possible) or more importantly be used in Expanded. So far, I haven’t seen one other article about Primal Clash mention Expanded. I hope that this will help those of you who are looking to prepare for one of the least-tested formats in the game, especially with Primal Clash adding in so many fantastic decks. It’s somewhat fitting that Kyogre and Groudon’s Pokédex entries talk about their ability to expand the seas or the continents respectively.

Table of Contents

The Rainbow Fish

huntail hidden legends art
Back in the TCG after a 7-year hiatus.

No, not the children’s book … one of the best combos to come out of Primal Clash: Huntail PRC & Ho-Oh-EX. Ho-Oh-EX gained a lot of traction in Expanded with the release of Battle Compressor, which makes Ho-Oh decks a lot more consistent, but it was lacking the right partners to push it into contention against other top decks. Being able to quickly get Energy onto the field works perfectly with Huntail’s Powerful Storm, which does 20 damage for each Energy attached to all of your Pokémon. After a couple turns of getting out Ho-Oh-EXs and attaching Energy for your turn, you’ll usually have enough Energy to start Knocking Out opponent’s EXs.

What’s especially great about this deck is that there is no upper limit to the amount of damage you can do, within reason, which is important with so many Megas in the format that can usually withstand a hit from most cards given that Weakness isn’t involved.

Here’s a sample list to get you started:

Pokémon – 14

4 Clamperl PRC

4 Huntail PRC

4 Ho-Oh-EX

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

2 Lysandre

1 AZ

1 Teammates

 

4 VS Seeker

4 Battle Compressor

4 Ultra Ball

3 Muscle Band

2 Energy Switch

1 Escape Rope

1 Switch

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search

Energy – 13

5 W

1 P

1 Y

1 R

1 G

1 F

1 M

1 D

1 L

As you can see, we’re trying to cycle through the deck as quickly as possible and get as many Ho-Oh-EX and basic Energy in the discard as possible. One huge game changer is Teammates, which is easy to start using with the help of Battle Compressor and VS Seeker and is important when trying to keep a Huntail ready to attack each turn.

The biggest issue that this deck has is that it needs early Rebirth heads to get going. Having four Ho-Oh-EX helps a lot with this, and it usually isn’t too big of an issue, but there are always games where you miss a large portion of your early Rebirths and aren’t able to keep up with the opponent.

I have seen lists with Acro Bike, which could be a useful inclusion for the speed and ability to discard more cards. I don’t think it is as needed as in something like Night March, which is why I didn’t include it on the sample list, but it’s a great option if you’re finding the deck too slow and are able to find the room.

There are a few things that you might want to change in the list, so I’ll go over a few of the possibilities for customization. Scoop Up Cyclone is another ACE SPEC that can be used in place of Computer Search. I prefer Computer Search because getting set up is the highest priority of the deck and being able to pick up a Ho-Oh-EX usually isn’t too big of a deal, but I have seen plenty of lists with both ACE SPECs, so it’s up to preference. A second Jirachi-EX is used in many lists. I prefer not to have such a high chance of starting with Jirachi-EX, but searching for the Supporter that you need the most (Professor Juniper in most cases) can be very nice.

If you’re worried about Silent Lab being heavily played it’s important to include multiple Stadiums. Skyarrow Bridge would be the one I would recommend, because it is somewhat helpful if you start Ho-Oh-EX or Jirachi-EX. Other somewhat viable options include Training Center, Frozen City, Fairy Garden, Shadow Circle, and Mountain Ring. I would make the decision on whether to play Stadiums or not, and in what amount, based on the popularity of Silent Lab on day one. There are surely more Expanded decks that can take advantage of it, but for the most part I feel as if it’s a unique enough card that people won’t just play it unless they’re confident that it works well.

Blastoise’s Big Break

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Look out …

Blastoise has probably been the deck that I’ve written about most on SixPrizes, and for good reason: It had a very dominant position in the format from the time it was released until the release of Flashfire. Since then it has seen very little play, greatly due to the fact that Tropical Beach isn’t in the format anymore. With the release of Primal Clash a new variation of Blastoise has emerged, and I expect it to be good in both Standard and Expanded.

Because of the uniqueness of this build, I’ll provide the list before going into any more detail.

Pokémon – 11

3 Blastoise BCR

3 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

2 Keldeo-EX

1 Primal Kyogre-EX

1 Jirachi-EX

1 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 39

3 Archie’s Ace in the Hole

2 Professor Juniper

1 N

1 Lysandre

1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

1 Xerosic

 

4 Battle Compressor

4 VS Seeker

4 Acro Bike

4 Bicycle

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

4 Ultra Ball

3 Muscle Band

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search

Energy – 10

8 W

2 L

In contrast to the Blastoise builds from the past, this variation is purely about speed. Running so few Supporters seems risky, but with Bicycle, Acro Bike, Battle Compressor, and VS Seeker the deck actually runs very smoothly. Burning as many cards in hand as possible is the top priority, and getting a turn 1 Blastoise is entirely possible with the amount of draw and discard that this deck runs. Using Archie’s Ace in the Hole effectively can take some time to get used to, since it is usually counterintuitive to be wasteful in almost every other deck.

Before Megas, Black Kyurem-EX PLS didn’t need any kind of damage boost to Knock Out everything in the format, but Muscle Band is crucial with Mega Gardevoir-EX and M Manectric-EX being so prevalent. Because we are now forced to run Muscle Band, I have included a copy of Primal Kyogre-EX, which can Knock Out 170 HP EXs with a Muscle Band. It’s also needed against Garbodor to have any chance of winning, in which case α Growth is your only way to get a good amount of Energy on the field.

This deck usually performs best against the slower setup decks, such as Aromatisse/Gardevoir, which I expect a lot of in Florida. Being able to quickly apply pressure, accelerate Energy, and Knock Out practically every viable Pokémon will make Blastoise a contender at Regionals in my opinion, but struggling against decks like Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor could prove to be a serious issue.

If you are having serious issues against Seismitoad-EX and expect a lot of it in the format you can increase the count of Primal Kyogre-EX and add in multiple Rough Seas, which can heal a lot of the damage you’ll take from Quaking Punch and allow Primal Kyogre to take control of the game.

One thing to note is that this list is legal in both Expanded and Standard. I consider it to be viable in both formats, and I’m not sure if it really benefits from anything that could be used in Expanded.

Silent Tales

ninetales primal clash art
Shhh.

I’m quite picky when it comes to finding a good lock deck, and this deck has been one of the most interesting and promising concepts I’ve seen in a long time. The versatility of the lock that comes along with this deck is unmatched in recent years, and as you all know I’m a sucker for a good lock deck. Without further ado here’s the list for Silent Tales.

Pokémon – 14

4 Seismitoad-EX

4 Vulpix DRX
2 Ninetales DRX

2 Ninetales PRC

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Colress

1 Lysandre

1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 VS Seeker

3 Muscle Band

3 Ultra Ball

2 Switch

1 Level Ball

1 Max Potion

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym

2 Silent Lab

Energy – 10

6 R

4 Double Colorless

I have seen a few other writers mention Ninetales PRC and Silent Lab as having potential, but no one has found a deck that works for either. Being able to put a Stadium in play and keep it there for as long as possible is an amazing mechanic that Ninetales PRC has introduced into the game, and Silent Lab is easily one of the most game-changing Stadiums in the format. Against decks that don’t rely on Abilities from Basic Pokémon, Ninetales is still incredibly useful for keeping your opponents useful Stadiums out of play, such as Fairy Garden or Fighting Stadium, and keeping Virbank City Gym on the field to accumulate the most damage possible.

A great upside to playing Ninetales PRC is that you are already running Vulpix and this gains you access to Ninetales DRX. Firstly, Bright Look is incredibly useful when combined with Item lock. Being able to essentially have a Lysandre effect while also keeping your Supporter open for the turn is incredible. Seismitoad decks often struggle with keeping the lock and having a steady draw power, which is why the Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff deck is so good, but being able to Juniper and bring up one of your opponent’s Pokémon in the same turn is incredible. Secondly, with your opponent’s Basics’ Abilities out of the way, Ninetales DRX can be a great counter to Virizion/Genesect, which is usually an issue for Seismitoad-EX decks.

Looking at the list there isn’t anything too special about it; it’s similar to any other Seismitoad list with the inclusion of Ninetales and Silent Lab. I like having Jirachi-EX even with Silent Lab for the matchups that you don’t use Silent Lab or for the early game. Many Garbodor decks in the past have still used Jirachi-EX, and in testing I haven’t had any issues with it.

One of the biggest issues that I see with this deck is that its matchup against Aromatisse/Gardevoir isn’t as strong as I’d like it to be. Item lock doesn’t do too much to stop them from getting a lot of Energies on the board, and Mega Gardevoir-EX is next to impossible to deal when attacking with Seismitoad-EX.

Night March’s Ace in the Hole

archie's ace in the hole art 9-16
Archie can be splashed into certain aggressive decks.

While finding information about decks for this article I stumbled upon a really interesting variation on Night March, which I thought some of you might enjoy. I don’t think that it’s particularly better than the streamlined versions that most people are playing, but it might be an interesting concept to check out.

Pokémon – 18

4 Joltik PHF

4 Lampent PHF

4 Pumpkaboo PHF

3 Mew-EX

1 Swampert PRC 36

1 Empoleon DEX

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

1 N

1 Archie’s Ace in the Hole

1 Lysandre

1 Teammates

 

4 VS Seeker

4 Acro Bike

4 Ultra Ball

4 Battle Compressor

3 Muscle Band

1 Escape Rope

1 Computer Search

 

4 Dimension Valley

Energy – 9

5 W

4 Double Colorless

The most interesting part about this list wasn’t necessarily the deck itself, but rather the concept of fitting strong Stage 2 support into faster decks with the help of Archie’s Ace in the Hole. Night March is often able to whittle its hand down to nothing, making Archie a viable play. Both Empoleon DEX and Swampert PRC 36 are game changers when they hit the field and can be incredibly useful after an opponent uses Lysandre’s Trump Card.

I hope that more players will mess around with using Archie’s Ace in the Hole or Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick to add interesting techs to decks that can create combos that might not otherwise be possible or feasible. With such little time to test this format, I don’t expect many people if any to be using this kind of deck, but as time goes on and possibly more good Water and Fighting Stage 2s come out we could see this concept become more prevalent.

On this note, I’m really interested to see if anyone is able to make use of Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick and Archeops NVI in Expanded. Archeops has always been a very good card, and it was even used in a few competitive decks during its time in the Standard format. Being able to skip the Fossil mechanic and get an Archeops on the field right away could turn out to have some interesting decks. Archeops is sadly only legal in Expanded, so it will be a lot less likely for us to see someone using it, but the potential is there.

Almost Good

Eelektross PRC

Finally! An Eelektross that has an Ability that synergizes well with Eelektrik NVI. There were a few lists that I saw using Eelektross PRC alongside Eelektrik in the normal kinds of decks you would see such as Rayquaza-EX/Eelektrik or Mewtwo-EX/Eelektrik, but there were also a few new decks that used Eelektross to a fuller potential. One of these was a Primal Kyogre-EX deck that relied on Eelektross moving the Energy back to the Active after using Tidal Storm. It was a neat concept, but not good enough to write a whole section on.

Crawdaunt PRC

Crawdaunt PRC caught my eye when I first read over the scans of Primal Clash. The Ability is incredibly good, but most decks that want to discard Energy can still use Crushing Hammer to greater success. Being slowed down by Evolution is also an issue when discarding Energy starting at the very beginning of the game is much more impactful than later on.

Primal Groudon-EX

Most people were turned off by the high Energy cost that comes along with Primal Groudon’s Gaia Volcano, but if played with Landorus FFI you can accelerate Energy fairly quickly and set up two Primal Groudon which is usually enough to finish off your opponent if they’re running an EX-based deck. The biggest issue comes when playing against anything that doesn’t rely on EXs, making Night March a horrendous matchup. Seismitoad is also difficult because you aren’t able to use your Groudon Spirit Links, and Landorus is Weak to Seismitoad-EX, so it’s difficult to accelerate Energy in the early game. Both of these downsides come together to make the deck unplayable in my opinion.

Medicham PRC 81

There hasn’t seemed to be a consensus on whether or not Medicham is a good deck or not. For my experience with and against Medicham, I would have to conclude that it isn’t as good as others have said. Attacking twice is very good, especially when you can boost Medicham’s base damage so much, but overall there are too many things that have to be in effect for the deck to work properly. Most of the time you aren’t going to be able to have the optimal setup doing 90 or more with each attack, and even with that setup it’s too easy for Medicham to be Knocked Out turn after turn.

Conclusion

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See you in Florida!

I hope you enjoyed looking at some Expanded decks rather than the same old Standard that we’ve been seeing article after article lately. As I mentioned in the beginning, some of these decks will work for both Standard and Expanded, so unless one of the key cards is from before Boundaries Crossed I would definitely take those decks into consideration.

With so many players expected to be at Florida Regionals I’m sure I’ll be able to see a lot of you there. I’ll be arriving around 5 PM on Friday and staying at the venue, so I’ll most likely be hanging around the open play area on Friday and obviously at the event on Saturday and Sunday if anyone wants to come say hi or discuss any of my articles.

As always I would love feedback on my writing, the topic, and the article in general to make sure that I’m providing my readers with the kinds of information and articles that they’re looking for. With Japan being Black & White-on I can either modify decks and information that I get about Japan to fit into our current format, or give you guys the information to use for Expanded. Be sure to let me know which you prefer, or if you’d like more of a mix.

Until next time,
Henry


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