Worlds is finally over and what a crazy weekend it has been. Despite not finishing as well as I had initially hoped at 3-2-2, I still had an amazing time in Boston catching up with friends I only see a couple of times a year as well as meeting plenty of new ones! I don’t have any regrets about the crazy Raichu deck I played and worked on with my friend Jit Min, which I’ll come back to talking about in just a bit. I believe there’s generally a lot more to learn from losing compared to winning, and the process of self-reflection is critical to becoming a better player. I’ve also got quite a few requests for the decklist, so I’m happy to oblige for anyone that wants to try it out!
Although my deck choice was crazy and I had quite a few close matches, I don’t want to solely focus my article on my Worlds performance. The majority of competitive players seem to want to get a head start on testing for Expanded, the format for our upcoming Autumn Regionals. However, with a plethora of legal sets and such little exposure, it’s incredibly hard to know where to even begin! From what I’ve seen, there hasn’t been much talk on Expanded besides how broken Shiftry will be and rumors of ban lists. While I’m not anywhere close to figuring this new format out or having my Regionals play locked down, I’m fortunate enough to have had some Expanded experience last season after a few successful Regionals.
After reflecting on my Worlds performance, I’ll be going over my thoughts on some of the threats in Expanded along with a few decklists to start testing.
I’m not claiming that the decks I discuss will all end up being “Tier 1” or that all my lists are perfect. With such a small gap since Worlds, I’ve only had so much time logistically to test Expanded myself and it’s very likely my thoughts will change drastically in the next month. The format is also very wide open with so many sets legal, meaning that every deck has a potential counter.
As a result, I expect the metagame to be filled with variety and quite volatile the first few weeks as players decipher which decks are the best. With so little information out there, I simply intend for my thoughts and decklists to serve as an above-average starting point for anybody trying to get an edge in preparing for Autumn Regionals.
Raichu & the Motely Crew: A Worlds Recap
I somehow ended up with another “binder-drop” deck this year at Worlds. My friend Jit Min had been testing different Raichu variants on and off against me since US Nationals. These variants suffered from the same problem that many of the decks I was working on heading into Worlds; it was impossible to exploit the weaknesses of every deck in the format because there was too much variety to prepare for and not enough deck space.
The deck basically sacrificed the extra damage from Crobat in exchange for deck space in an effort to become more of a toolbox-esque Raichu deck that had techs for any difficult matchups. While visiting New York together the week leading up to Worlds, we discussed the deck’s matchups and tried to address the most space-efficient techs for each matchup in an attempt to prepare for everything. After making some more suggestions in Boston, Jit went off to test the deck Thursday night while I met up with a ton of friends in Boston and tried to offer all of them some last-minute help before Day 1 of Worlds. Friday morning, Jit showed me the new and improved Raichu deck based on a few of my suggestions and his own insight and said that it was much better.
After winning some games in testing with the deck, I was excited it worked and had roughly 50/50 and 60/40 matchups against everything in addition to the surprise factor that might cause players to make mistakes. When I was making my final decision the night before, I felt that the metagame was too diverse to justify a metagame call such as Klinklang that preys on a couple auto-wins (Groudon) in exchange for at least one auto-loss (Seismitoad/Garbodor).
With that said, here is the list both Jit and myself ended up playing:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 30
Energy – 10
“That deck looks so inconsistent!”
I can’t say that I disagree with the plethora of 1-ofs and the crazy Energy line at first glance. But when you really think about it, you’re essentially just gutting the Crobat line and the increased damage output in exchange for deck space to tech for other matchups. None of the techs take away from the consistency that the engine in a Raichu deck usually provides.
When it comes to simply chaining multiple Raichu and doing tons of damage, I actually find the deck extremely consistent for that very reason. Any inconsistency the deck arguably has comes from prizing crucial 1-ofs in a particular matchup or finding the correct Energy for the tech attackers. While these issues certainly came up occasionally in testing and during the event, I felt that was a necessary evil in preparing for everything in such a diverse format.
I’m not going to break down every card since there’s a whole new format to tackle, but I’ll take some time to break down all the strange tech choices.
Metal Rayquaza was one of my favorite decks when testing for US Nationals … at least until I realized a ton of other players had come to the same conclusion and the deck would likely be teched against. A lot of decks couldn’t handle a 220 HP Pokémon swinging for up to 240 damage on Turn 2. However, as M Manectric and Primal Groudon entered the format, the deck simply became too risky to play in my eyes.
Jit recycled the idea of playing a 1-1 M Rayquaza-EX in many the Raichu variants we tested to have the option to pressure with an early M Rayquaza-EX without accepting all the bad matchups that come along with basing a deck around the card. It deals with any early pressure from Landorus-EX, a card Raichu struggles with even more due to the lack of Crobat. It also threatens to sweep certain builds of Seismitoad-EX (such as the build that got 2nd without Manectric or Crushing Hammers) as well as Trevenant/Gengar if you manage to get a Lysandre. Essentially, any EX-based deck that can’t either 1-shot M Rayquaza-EX or disrupt its Energy, alongside any non-EX-based decks that can’t 1-shot M Rayquaza-EX, will have a ton of trouble with a simple 1-1 tech.
We both came to the conclusion that the most consistent way to set it up would be to run Winona alongside Jirachi-EX, the same engine I suggested to help setup the 1-1 Altaria in my Metal Rayquaza build in my pre-Nationals article. Simply drawing Ultra Ball, barring bad Prizes, allowed you to set up the M Rayquaza Turn 1 while refilling your hand with Shaymin. It was essential to evolve Turn 1 as consistently as possible, since the downside of ending your first turn without attacking is largely irrelevant for a Raichu-based deck.
1-1 Bronzong PHF
One of the glaring issues Raichu has is its reliance on Double Colorless Energy. Chase Moloney was able to take advantage of this weakness with Aegislash-EX and win Canadian Nationals in a Raichu-dominated metagame. I attempted to implement a similar strategy by making the choice to run three copies of Aegislash-EX in my Klinklang build for US Nationals. With so many different Metal variants, I expected to run into at least one of them at Worlds and wasn’t willing to fight an uphill battle.
After testing Bronzong in a standard Raichu/Crobat build, I found that setting up Bronzong and a few copies of Raichu made Aegislash-EX-based strategies feel like an easy matchup. I pitched the idea that a 1-1 Bronzong would be more effective than a tech Garbodor or Silent Lab in the Metal matchups, in addition to making the deck less reliant on Double Colorless Energy in the non-EX matchups if we could sacrifice the consistency in the Energy line. We were only able to fit two M Energy in the deck, but you can simply Metal Links back the same Energy back as your opponent Knocks Out your stream of Raichu throughout the game once you draw one of them or search them out with Teammates.
Tropius is a card players have tried on and off as a counter to both Seismitoad and Groudon in the past. However, Tropius only really works in a very specific deck. The list has to be able to both make the sacrifice in its Energy line in order to fit G Energy and naturally run multiple copies of Silver Bangle.
Multiple copies of Silver Bangle give you a good chance of getting Tropius with a Silver Bangle down before the Quaking Punch lock, putting you at an advantage in that matchup. A Tropius with one Energy and a Silver Bangle attached is extremely hard to play around if your opponent doesn’t hit a barrage of heads with Crushing Hammer. However, Tropius simply becomes too space intensive to include if you also have to make space for Silver Bangle alongside it. You’re essentially adding five or so cards that don’t even make the matchup an auto-win.
Raichu fits both of these conditions and needs to run a high count of Basic Pokémon for Circle Circuit, making Tropius a good fit for the deck. Tropius also fits nicely into the metagame as Groudon decks have begun to favor Hard Charm over Focus Sash. In testing, I rarely saw more than 1 copy of Focus Sash in Groudon, while some players even cut it completely. It made sense because almost nothing in the metagame could swing for 260 damage, making Hard Charm the superior choice. This allows Tropius to find a niche in the metagame as both a Seismitoad counter as well as an unsuspecting 260-damage threat when facing a Groudon with four Energy attached.
In addition to being able to Energy Press for tons of damage, Return was surprisingly useful in testing. There were so many games the deck would get N’d to a bad hand where Tropius could bail you out and set you up with the cards to win next turn. Using Return for 20 due to Weakness against Seismitoad is also very relevant damage, as it allows Raichu to swing for 160 and get the knockout. When you don’t have any more Silver Bangles in play and you’re getting N’d to one or two cards, the Return into Circle Circuit combo was one of my main game plans when facing a Seismitoad deck at the end of the game.
One of the biggest downsides to removing Crobat, in my eyes, was that Raichu’s damage output was now capped at 190. M Rayquaza-EX was Weak to Lightning, Tropius would help take care of Groudon, and our own M Rayquaza-EX helps take care of Landorus-EX. This means that the only other Pokémon in the metagame above the 190 damage cap was M Manectric-EX. M Manectric builds started featuring Garbodor anyway, so most of the time Crobat simply wasn’t enough to get the job done.
However, in a deck that could afford to run F Energy alongside either Muscle Band or Silver Bangle, Terrakion was a very real, yet underrated, threat to the deck. A Terrakion with just a single Energy has to be dealt with immediately, making it much easier to stream and apply pressure with a swarm of Raichu. If your opponent ignores Terrakion, it trades 2 Prizes for one against M Manectric. In addition, if your opponent doesn’t have an easy way to deal 130 damage, Terrakion threatens to sweep for 4 Prizes if left unchecked.
Iris was meant to serve as a soft counter to M Manectric and Landorus-EX while also giving Raichu the option to Circle Circuit for 180 damage under Seismitoad’s Item lock. However, in practice it was very difficult to have the Iris the turn you needed it. Many of the games I was set up for an Iris play, it was N’d away and I simply never redrew it. Iris was never useful throughout the entire event, but it is one of those cards going in that I knew was going to be dead roughly 90% of my games and straight up win roughly 10% so perhaps my perspective is skewed based on results.
In hindsight I underestimated the amount of Trevenant/Gengar decks present, so I’d potentially cut the Iris for a second copy of Lysandre in order to pull off the Emerald Break with Lysandre combo more efficiently. There’s also a decent chance your opponent has a Shaymin on the Bench at the end of the game, meaning that Lysandre is essentially just as strong as Iris when it comes to getting the last 2 Prizes in that scenario.
“I did my best, I have no regrets!”
Although I wish I could have done better than 3-2-2 at Worlds after a pretty good run all season, I had so much fun playing yet another crazy deck at Worlds and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I could have of course playtested more or picked a different deck, but I honestly believe this Raichu deck was the most solid option that I had.
My losses both came from Seismitoad/Garbodor and while I believe the matchup is slightly favorable, it’s also extremely volatile. The matchup can swing dramatically based on how many early Silver Bangles get attached to Pikachu or Tropius, how fortunate the Seismitoad player is on both Hammer and Laser flips, as well as late game N’s combined with the Item lock.
While I could have played something like Primal Groudon to have a bigger edge in that particular matchup, I expected Groudon to get targeted after its success Day 1. If I did make it to the top tables, I would have had to get lucky with pairings in order to avoid all the Night March as well as the few Trevenant/Gengar at the top tables. I simply picked a deck with a slight advantage against most the field and accepted I would have to either get luckier or make less mistakes than my opponent in game, rather than playing a deck such as Night March hoping to hit my good matchups while avoiding a few bad ones.
The only thing I wish I had done differently is given some more attention to Trevenant/Gengar. I’ve tried the deck on and off this season in testing, but never played it because it struggled with both Yveltal and M Manectric. I feel that I should have realized Trevenant/Gengar was a really strong play as it countered both Groudon and Night March from Day 1. In addition, many players would be afraid to play M Manectric Day 2 with the threat of Night March and Groudon from the previous day.
Even if after testing the deck myself I found that I didn’t like it for whatever reason, I could have at least considered the deck when making last-minute card choices, such as not including the second Lysandre like I talked about before. While it likely didn’t make a huge difference this year, I can say from past experience at Worlds that making the wrong one-card tech choice can easily cost you an important game.
Modern Origins: Expanded Frontrunners
Gone with the Wind: An Aside on Shiftry
I’m not going to discuss Shiftry at great length as Dylan Leafavor already discussed his testing results in his last article, but I’ll at least give my brief opinion on it. It’s certainly unhealthy for the game if a deck has a Turn 1 win condition such a large percentage of the time and I don’t think the Shiftry combo was ever intended to exist. That being said, while I’d prefer if the combo was somehow banned or errata’d before Autumn Regionals, it’s not going to ruin the game if it’s not. Players simply need to take Shiftry’s popularity into account when building their Regionals decks.
Wobbuffett PHF is a soft counter that fits in several decks and helps against other matchups, while running Baltoy AOR 32 with the Theta Stop Ancient Trait is a harder counter. The biggest advantage to running Baltoy is that if you Ultra Ball for it going first, your opponent can’t Escape Rope around it. You’d need to Ultra Ball for two copies of Wobbuffett going first in order to be safe from the Shiftry madness.
How hard to tech for Shiftry largely comes down to how many people opt to actually play it. I would personally include either 2 Wobbuffett or 1 Baltoy in most of my decks if I didn’t have an out to something like a Turn 1 Trevenant via Wally.
Ancient Power: Yveltal/Archeops
A lot of players seem to make the argument that you can simply play the same deck in Standard that you can in Expanded to players trying to get competitive. While this is technically true, it’s also pretty bad advice. There are a few cards that exist in Expanded that either force you to accept a fairly bad matchup or alter the way you build your deck. One of these cards that I’ve played against a few times in Expanded last season is Archeops.
Archeops, in tandem with Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, allows your opponent to stop you from evolving on their first turn. This is obviously devastating to any decks relying on Evolutions to function, however I believe there are more than enough ways to combat this. Running a couple copies of Wobbuffett serves as a way to counter both Shiftry and Archeops. Wally in any Stage 2 deck helps against both Item lock and Archeops. Ancient Origins brings us a very versatile card in the form of Hex Maniac, which also allows you to evolve Pokémon under the lock. Evosoda is also a soft counter and a slight boost in consistency, but it’s usually less impactful than the other options. I think it’s critical to play at least one of these counters in any Evolution deck heading into Autumn Regionals.
However, this doesn’t mean that Archeops itself is useless. It forces your opponent to make sub-optimal plays, such as wasting their Supporter on Hex Maniac for the turn or forcing them to get Wobbuffett active in order to evolve. In addition, it also forces your opponent to Lysandre the Archeops if they need to setup multiple Stage 1’s throughout the game, keeping your attacker safe for another turn. And of course you occasionally pick up free wins with Archeops against an unprepared player.
One of the more common decks in Expanded that takes advantage of Archeops, although not a deck I personally enjoy playing, is Yveltal:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 38
Energy – 10
This list is based on both a successful Yveltal/Archeops from Japan as well as the engine Jacob Van Wagner used in his Blastoise deck. While a bit less all-in on the Maxie engine since your entire strategy doesn’t revolve on setting up Archeops in every matchup, it’s still extremely consistent. This means that while your opponent is busy playing around the Archeops portion of the deck almost every game; your attackers are free to wreak havoc.
While I’ve never been a huge fan of playing Yveltal due to its linear and predictable play style, I can’t deny that it was extremely strong throughout several formats since it’s been released. However, Yveltal has finally fallen into the shadows in the Standard format because it simply can’t keep up with the current decks. They often output too much damage for such little Energy, causing Yveltal to fall behind in Energy attachments when it’s not able to take advantage of Evil Ball.
In Expanded, Yveltal gets back Dark Patch for better or worse, causing it to yet again be a real threat to the metagame. Archeops slows your opponent down while Dark Patch speeds your attachments up, allowing the deck to amass quite a bit of Energy in order to 1-shot opposing EX’s with Evil Ball later in the game.
Faded Town allows Yveltal to deal with the Mega Pokémon that would normally be fairly safe from a giant Evil Ball thanks to their higher HP. In addition, Faded Town is one of the few cards that can deal with a Primal Groudon that has a Focus Sash attached. If Groudon ever becomes relevant in the Expanded metagame and your deck has a way to deal at least 240 damage, Faded Town is an easy to include 1-of or 2-of for that matchup.
Yveltal’s other main problem is keeping up with non-EX decks that can 1-shot Yveltal. An early Quaking Punch can sometimes shut down the Battle Compressor decks, but when it doesn’t the deck still plays several non-EX attackers in the form of Yveltal XY and Absol PLF. Yveltal trades extremely efficiently with both Pumpkaboo and Joltik, forcing your Night March opponent to ideally Knock Out 3 non-EX attackers along with 2 EX attackers. You can then potentially keep up in the Prize trade by Knocking Out either two Night Marchers, 1 Mew-EX, and using Lysandre on Shaymin-EX or by Knocking Out 4 Night Marchers and using Lysandre on Shaymin-EX.
Something like Vespiquen is a bit trickier due to the higher HP, but Vespiquen needs to be able to play around Archeops in order to pull out a victory.
Pop and Lock: Trevenant/Accelgor
Perhaps one of the most polarizing cards since its tribute to the game has been Accelgor. Some players find Shelmet adorable and love playing all the intricate lock decks. However, other players are extremely annoyed whenever their opponent flips over a Shelmet as they know it won’t be long until they’re stuck in sort of some of unbreakable lock as they watch their opponent essentially shuffle cards and play solitaire.
Over the years I’ve found myself drifting toward these annoying set up-and-win Accelgor decks because players often aren’t prepared against them. They either believe Accelgor isn’t worth teching for or believe a 1-of soft counter will flip the matchup, so it only makes sense to play Accelgor when it has such good matchups.
Perhaps one of the most tried and true variants in Expanded is Trevenant/Accelgor, so here’s my take on the deck heading into Autumn Regionals:
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 33
Energy – 4
I unsurprisingly opted for a more teched-out build rather than one focused on pure consistency. There are only a few cards that Trevenant/Accelgor really struggles with, so I see no reason why not to tech for the deck’s counters. While Wonder Energy is near impossible to beat, many of the cards that get around Accelgor’s Special Conditions are Pokémon that rely on their Abilities, making Ninetales with Silent Lab a strong counter. Your opponent can no longer escape by using Audino BCR, Virizion-EX, or Keldeo-EX even if they had a counter Stadium because Ninetales locks your Silent Lab in place. You’d have to be very confident that none of these counters would be present in order to cut the Ninetales/Silent Lab combo from the deck.
Moving along, one of the less essential techs that has done wonders for me is the 1-1 Musharna line. One of the issues Accelgor decks lacking Dusknoir suffer from is the dreaded late-game N. Without Dusknoir BCR to control when you take your Prizes, it’s very possible for your opponent’s N to cause you to whiff a very crucial Deck and Cover. Musharna protects you from this caveat at the expense of a Bench spot, while marginally improving consistency throughout the game. If I were to cut the Musharna, I would simply add in extra consistency cards.
I also opted to include 1 Jirachi-EX and 1 Wally. These cards go hand in hand and give you a realistic chance of hitting a Turn 1 Trevenant without basing your entire deck around it. Without the Musharna, you can probably make the Wally engine more consistent. It’s simply a tradeoff between the early disruption of the Turn 1 Item lock versus the late-game insurance Musharna provides. Getting a Trevenant Turn 1 going first is devastating to any of the Battle Compressor decks, such as Night March or Vespiquen. It also serves as a soft Shiftry counter to help ensure you’ll win almost every time you go first as well as a soft counter to Archeops as Archeops is impossible to setup Turn 1 without Items.
If you expected more Shiftry and Archeops, Wobbuffett would be a harder counter. Simply swapping the Pokémon Communication for an Evosoda also gives you extra insurance against Archeops while serving a similar purpose.
After including several techs that rely on Bench space, I opted to run 2 Shaymin-EX and 2 Sky Field rather than Item-based draw in the form of Trainers’ Mail or Acro Bike. This engine worked well for me in my Klinklang build at US Nationals so I believe the same concept should apply here. You can fill up your Bench early game while abusing Shaymin and then discard all your excess Shaymin-EXs when you need to play Silent Lab or when your opponent counters your Sky Field.
The other option would be to simply play 1 Shaymin-EX and no Sky Field alongside Item-based draw to combo with the Wally engine. Even if you were forced to play Shaymin-EX and Jirachi-EX in the same game, you could still afford to pick up Shaymin with Sky Return at some point to make room on the Bench. My initial reaction to playing the deck was that Bench space was just too tight with both Ninetales and Musharna, but if Musharna was cut from the deck then I see the Sky Field engine being slightly less necessary.
The last card that really stands out is the lone Silver Bangle. The idea behind it is that when facing a 170-HP EX, you can use Deck and Cover twice and Knock Out your opponent’s Pokémon coming back to your turn if you had Silver Bangle attached for one of those attacks. This is optimal for the Accelgor player as your opponent is forced to promote another Pokémon, only to be locked by another Accelgor. I’m not sure if there will be enough 170 HP Pokémon in the metagame for Accelgor to be worthwhile in the end, but it’s very useful in the matchups where the math is relevant.
The tech I considered playing in its place was a single copy of Startling Megaphone as a counter to Garbodor. Playing Startling Megaphone when Trevenant is active stops your opponent from reattaching a Tool, thus Item-locking them with Trevenant. Startling Megaphone’s use just comes down to how popular Garbodor actually ends up being in Expanded.
Two of the important exclusions I made from the deck were Skyla and Tropical Beach. While these cards have been featured in past Accelgor decks, they don’t really fit the rhythm of Trevenant/Accelgor because they are simply too slow.
Many of the Accelgor decks featuring Dusknoir created a permanent lock, allowing you to sit behind on Tropical Beach and make a 6-to-1 Prize comeback once set up. Trevenant/Accelgor is a different animal as it’s much faster, but your opponent can actually Knock Out Trevenant after having their attacker Knocked Out by Deck and Cover. This means that it’s critical not to fall to far behind in Prizes when playing the deck, which is exactly what happens when committing to cards like Skyla and Tropical Beach in order to achieve the dream setup.
The Bee’s Knees: Vespiquen/Flareon
Although everybody is hyped to try out Vespiquen in XY-on, I think the deck also has some potential in Expanded. There are several options for 1-shotting your opponent’s Pokémon by taking advantage of an unlimited damage cap, but I believe Vespiquen fares slightly better than Night March at first glance due to the higher HP and potential versatility of attackers. I also think the non-EX decks with unlimited damage outputs fair slightly better than an EX deck doing the same thing, such as Rayquaza/Eelektrik. This is because Vespiquen or the Night Marchers can simply trade 2 Prizes for 1 Prize against an attacker like Rayquaza-EX, forcing the EX-based decks to run a ton of non-EX’s just to keep up.
One of the main arguments against these Battle Compressor-reliant non-EX decks is that they are extremely weak to Item lock. However, now that Seismitoad decks have lost Lysandre’s Trump Card and Vespiquen has a typing advantage compared to Flareon, it should be much easier for the deck to navigate the Seismitoad matchup.
Although I previously made a video showcasing the deck XY-on, here’s my current Expanded build:
Pokémon – 29
Trainers – 24
Energy – 7
There’s obviously a ton of versatility with this deck in terms of Pokémon to play. But one of the key things Vespiquen/Flareon decks gain in Expanded is the ability to play both Vespiquen and Flareon simultaneously. This makes it unnecessary to play Sacred Ash and means that your opponent can’t win by simply targeting down Eevee with Lysandre early game.
The other important addition Flareon didn’t have is Unown. Unown improves the consistency of the deck while also send Pokémon to the discard. It might still be correct to run a couple of Trainers’ Mail in exchange for a couple of Pokémon, but now Vespiquen/Flareon has the option to run higher counts of Pokémon while staying consistent.
In terms of tech Pokémon, I went for Jolteon, Bronzong, and Slurpuff.
Jolteon allows both Vespiquen and Flareon to deal with a Lightning-weak threat, such as Yveltal or M Rayquaza, earlier. If Landorus-EX ends up more popular than these two, then a simple switch to Vaporeon AOR or Mr. Mime PLF would improve that matchup instead.
I found the 1-1 Bronzong so useful in the crazy Raichu build I ran at Worlds that I opted to include it here. While Aegislash isn’t likely to be terribly popular in Expanded, Bronzong makes the deck less vulnerable to running out of Double Colorless Energy. This is incredibly important against other non-EX decks as you potentially have to set up six attackers if your opponent Knocks Out your Active Pokémon every turn.
Slurpuff serves a similar role to Musharna in the Trevenant/Accelgor deck as it protects you against late-game N’s and also helps you draw into the game-winning VS Seeker for Lysandre. In matchups where you need extra damage, there’s no harm in using Battle Compressor to simply ditch Slurpuff or any of the other excess tech cards.
Faded Town seemed better than Silver Bangle in Vespiquen because running a Stadium gives you a soft counter to Silent Lab, Faded Town counters Groudon with a Focus Sash, and the only Pokémon Vespiquen usually struggles to Knock Out are high-HP Mega Pokémon.
Hex Maniac serves a plethora of purposes and can be recycled with VS Seeker. It allows you to utilize all your Items under a Trevenant lock, serves as another soft Aegislash counter, stops any opposing Bronzong your opponent was likely relying on next turn, stops any potential Shiftry craziness, and serves as an Archeops counter. I’d consider running a Jirachi-EX in place of an Unown or one of the other tech Pokémon to find Hex Maniac more reliably, but so far I’ve been able to dig for it with the Battle Compressor/VS Seeker combo or Computer Search.
Other tech options I’d think about include Baltoy and Wobbuffett.
If Shiftry isn’t banned and everyone is still riding the hype train heading into Regionals, Vespiquen is one of the best decks to splash in a Baltoy. While Baltoy is a dead card in almost any other deck, this deck can at least Battle Compressor it away for additional damage.
The other Pokémon I’d consider teching would be a single copy of Wobbuffett. Archeops can be annoying for Vespiquen to deal with since you are forced to use Hex Maniac as your Supporter for the turn and have evolutions in your hand along with energy to attack with. Getting Float Stone onto Wobbuffett would give the deck a way to evolve every time one of your attackers was Knocked Out. The Archeops player could always target down Wobbuffett, but this would at least let you stabilize for a turn in order to have time to Lysandre up their Archeops in response.
Vespiquen is one of those decks that you can adapt based on the metagame once you understand how it works, but the engine stays the same every time. The only thing I might try to improve consistency, as I said before, is a couple copies of Trainers’ Mail in place of a couple of Pokémon.
I hope my overview of some of the biggest threats in Expanded points everybody in the right direction when it comes to testing for Autumn Regionals! There are still so many decks with untapped potential if somebody gets them to work, alongside old favorites like Seismitoad and Virizion/Genesect that will surely see play. I haven’t been able to make Vileplume work at all, despite having success with the older Vileplume way back in the SP format. All the lists I’ve tried either don’t hit Turn 1 Vileplume often enough or they are too Item based to function as a double-sided Item lock deck. I’ve played a few games with Durant, but it’s tough to mill a lot of decks if they can take Prizes quickly and deal with the disruption. Still, Vileplume will make a huge splash whenever somebody finds the right build just as Durant could come back if somebody finds a list fast or disruptive enough to keep up with the metagame.
I could also see some kind of M Manectric deck popping up in the right metagame since M Manectric has a lot of versatility in what you pair it with. It naturally counters Yveltal, can run something like Pokémon Center Lady as a Trevenant/Accelgor tech, and can potentially partner with an attacker to help it keep up with the Prize trade against Vespiquen. Of course if that actually worked, people could counter M Manectric with Fighting or some kind of Fairy/Wonder Energy deck that can abuse Max Potion against M Manectric. The example just illustrates how wide open, volatile, and exciting Expanded should be as the format evolves during Autumn Regionals.
Feel free to message me any questions as well as any suggestions for my future articles — I’ll do my best to get back to everyone! If you enjoyed or learned anything from the article, don’t forget to give it a +1!
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