Hey there Underground readers! It’s been a long while since my last article and I’m glad to be back. Today I’ll be discussing my Boston Open experience and giving a short report on that, and then I’ll cover the results of the recent Arena Cup in Germany. Afterwards I’ll be talking about two of my favorite Expanded decks, Vespiquen/Flareon and Seismitoad/Giratina. Let’s dig in!
After Day 1 not going so well, I had no clue what to play for the Boston Open. I was able to register for it late Friday night and I decided to spend my time relaxing rather than testing for the event the next day. I messaged my friend Brandon Cantu the night before and asked him to send me the list he planned to play for Day 2 and I was going to play whatever it was, no matter how crazy it might be.
At around 7:30 AM on Saturday Brandon sent me his list, I sleeved up the deck, and I headed down to grab breakfast before the tournament. I felt very relaxed knowing that I didn’t have to try too hard for the tournament since it was only a bonus after not making Day 2.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
2 Archie’s Ace in the Hole
4 Trainers’ Mail
Energy – 11
The list is pretty self-explanatory and only a few cards off of the list that Jacob Van Wager ended up using to win the main event. The list ran incredibly smoothly, hitting a Turn 1 Blastoise about 80% of the time when not under a form of lock. I recall hitting 190 damage on Turn 1 multiple times throughout the weekend, which was incredible.
Unlike Jacob’s list, this one runs a second Articuno over a Wailord-EX. I asked Brandon why he didn’t run the split, and he believed that the Articuno had more utility against Seismitoad-EX with its first attack, Chilling Sigh, which would allow you to break the Quaking Punch lock and set up. Articuno also can completely swing the Night March matchup, which ended up having a large showing at the Boston Open and World Championship.
Here’s my recap of the event. Most of my games were pretty similar, and my losses were typically due to being under a lock or being unable to get Blastoise out quickly enough.
R1: Kyogre (2-0)
R2: Night March (2-1)
R3: Groudon (0-2)
R4: Groudon (1-1)
R5: Hippowdon (2-1)
R6: Night March (2-0)
R7: Landorus/Crobat (2-0)
5-1-1, 7th seed in Pod 3
T32: Landorus/Crobat (2-0)
T16: Virizion/Genesect/Seismitoad (2-0)
T8: Seismitoad/Garbodor (1-2)
8th place, +75 CP
One interesting thing to note is that the tournament was held with four 128-man pods, which each played 7 rounds on Day 1. The Top 8 from each pod advanced to Top 32 and played single elimination the following day.
In the Top 8 I played against my friend Jeremiah Williams, and for the first time of the entire tournament I started with a lone Exeggcute and he was able to find the Virbank City Gym and Hypnotoxic Laser to end my run. The tournament was a blast despite the long wait times and confusion about the rounds and structure. The Boston Open was a great idea and I hope Pokémon continues to keep tournaments like these around during the World Championship.
Recently a Regional-level event called Arena Cup Würzburg took place in Germany, which was the first large event to take place in the BLW-AOR format. A lot of interesting decks popped up, as well as a few that were expected to perform well. Below is the Top 8 from the tournament, as detailed on amigo-spiele.de.
Arena Cup Würzburg Top 8
- Robin S. — Seismitoad/Giratina
- Faith A. — Yveltal/Archeops
- David S. — Vespiquen/Flareon
- Tobias T. — Vespiquen/Accelgor
- Lucas B. — Night March/Archeops
- Nico A. — Yveltal/Seismitoad
- Niklas L. — Yveltal/Garbodor
- Tobias S. — Yveltal/Garbodor
As you can see, Yveltal-based decks took up four of the top eight decks. With the addition of Dark Patch, the deck has a lot of added firepower and has more sustainability than ever before.
The Vespiquen/Accelgor deck is very interesting, combining two cards that you don’t normally expect to see together. It’s hard to tell whether or not the deck is focused on attacking with Vespiquen early or getting a fast lock with Accelgor. Without the inclusion of Battle Compressor, it’s fairly hard to deal significant amounts of damage early game with Vespiquen. I can only assume the deck focuses on using Accelgor to soften up large attackers, and then transitions into an aggressive late game once a fair amount of Pokémon have been discarded and knocked out.
The next part of the article will be covering two of the decks that performed well at the Arena Cup, Seismitoad/Giratina and Vespiquen/Flareon. The decks placed 1st and 3rd respectively, and are two of the biggest threats in the Expanded format.
The list below is my own, but is similar to the one that finished third at Würzburg. I took the results from the tournament and modified my deck accordingly to help deal with the new threat, Seismitoad/Giratina. I still believe that Vespiquen/Flareon is one of the top decks in format due to its flexibility and consistency. Let’s take a look at my list:
Pokémon – 26
Trainers – 26
1 Professor Birch’s Observations
Energy – 8
I choose to include three Flareon PLF in this deck to provide backup attackers as well as extra type coverage without relying on getting Flareon AOR into play solely for its ability. After testing with multiple Flareon in the deck, I would have a hard time playing it in any other form. They allow the deck to flow better, and in conjunction with Blacksmith, you have a reliable source of Energy acceleration to help against Giratina-EX.
I’ve also included an Espeon DEX in the deck to help fend off Accelgor DEX. In my own testing, the Espeon has improved the matchup dramatically by preventing them from keeping a lock and allowing me to mow down whatever they send up every turn. As long as I’m able to get an Espeon with an Energy on the Bench, I’m able to take down Accelgor decks because they will struggle with two-shotting my attackers.
I choose to run Espeon over Audino BCR mainly because of the fact that it is a continuous threat to Accelgor rather than a one-time status heal. It is easier to leave an Espeon in play than stress over drawing into multiple Audino over time.
Since the deck already runs a heavy Eeveelutions line, it only makes since to include one of these. The main purpose is to help deal with M Rayquaza-EX, which hasn’t proven to be huge, but is still a fairly large threat to this deck. It also helps against Yveltal-EX, which is another large threat.
This card is mainly for Archeops NVI and Vileplume AOR. The deck struggles against both of these without the use of Hex Maniac, which isn’t always the easiest card to grab and play. Wobbuffet gives the deck some breathing room when dealing with these two forms of lock by allowing you some time to set up.
The rest of the Pokémon in the deck are fairly simple. I decided to cut an Unown for a third Shaymin-EX when I took the Trainers’ Mails out of the list to help with prizing or to help pull off huge knockouts on the first or second turn. I included an Exeggcute after using it in the Boston Open and realizing how strong it is in a deck that runs four Battle Compressors. It is definitely cuttable, but I’ve liked having it to preserve resources throughout the game.
I felt like the deck needed a Stadium card, but I never really liked Faded Town like most people. After testing with both Faded Town and Forest of Giant Plants, I decided to go with the latter because it serves a purpose more often than the former. I’ve had games where I get a Turn 1 Vespiquen rolling out 100+ damage, as well as games where I’ve had a 1-1 Vespiquen line sitting in my hand that I was able to drop without worrying about getting N’d and losing my Stage 1. I think it’s arguable as to which is better, but ultimately it’s up to you as to which Stadium you’d prefer to play.
The Supporters are a bit wacky, but thanks to VS Seeker, Battle Compressor, and Jirachi-EX they work out pretty well. Each of the 1-of Supporters have a different utility and can be important in different matchups. I decided to go with 1 N and 1 Professor Birch’s Observations due to the need to have shuffle draw and disruption.
Blacksmith allows you to deal with Chaos Wheel, forcing your opponent into a long Quaking Punch game, which is very good for you due to the type advantage. I recommend going in with Vespiquen early and leaving Flareon back until the late game. Flareon is really only good in this matchup to ward off Giratina, as it gets knocked out in one hit by a Quaking Punch with a Muscle Band.
Yveltal/Garbodor: Favorable to Even
One of the cool things about Vespiquen is that it doesn’t have a huge reliance on Abilities after the first two or so turns, making Garbodor less of a threat. The only times Garbodor is too relevant is when it comes out on their 2nd turn and you’re still trying to set up, or when you’d like to use Jolteon AOR to help against Yveltal-EX. Otherwise, it slows down the opponents deck considerably and can give you time to set up while they do the same. A lot of the time they will try to go with an early Quaking Punch lock, so I recommend focusing on Vespiquen in the early game to help combat the Seismitoads.
This version of the variant is probably the least threatening since they won’t be able to prevent you from playing the game as you normally would. Vespiquen has a huge type advantage against Seismitoad-EX which will keep them away from using it early game. With the addition of Jolteon AOR, you shouldn’t have much of a problem getting an early knockout on Yveltal-EX.
Yveltal/Archeops: Slightly Unfavorable
Of the three forms of Yveltal, this one is probably the scariest. Archeops poses a major threat to the deck, and they can dish out damage fairly quickly which is a worry. In our list we have multiple outs to Archeops, but they all require a decent amount of time and resources to be put into them. You usually end up having to sacrifice a few prizes in order to get attackers into play, but if you are able to do so you should be in a good position to roll through the game.
If they are unable to hit the Turn 1 Archeops, I believe the matchup becomes favorable. From there it will play out similarly to the Yveltal/Seismitoad match-up, only easier due to their lack of Hypnotoxic Laser.
Night March/Archeops: Unfavorable
Night March has two really big things going for it in this matchup: speed and disruption. Vespiquen has a much harder time throwing out attackers than Night March, which is only made worse by dealing with Archeops. You should focus on taking knockouts on their benched EX’s as much as possible, and try to keep your own off of the field. Remember to use Shaymin-EX to take out any Joltik they attack with as it will conserve resources and allows you to promote something that isn’t super relevant and let it take the hit.
At first glance, this deck may seem a bit crazy, and I would definitely agree. The deck popped out of nowhere and ended up taking home the first large event of the season. A lot of people were shocked when they heard that a Seismitoad-EX deck was even doing well due to all of the hype surrounding Grass types, such as Vespiquen and Accelgor, but this deck has them covered.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 43
Energy – 7
This is the exact list that Robin Schulz piloted to win the Arena Cup. This deck takes the old Seismitoad-EX-based disruption and adds a neat twist to it in the form of Giratina-EX. You focus on using Quaking Punch early game while disrupting your opponent with Head Ringers, Crushing Hammers, and the like. Throughout the game you power up a Giratina-EX (depending on the matchup) and eventually transition into a harder lock that does more damage.
The list itself is nearly perfect in my opinion. One of the only things I would change in the deck is including a copy of Mewtwo-EX or a Lugia-EX AOR. Mewtwo and Lugia allow you to deal with large Yveltal-EX and opposing Mewtwo-EXs (if you decide to go with Mewtwo) much more efficiently. Lugia allows you to have a big hitter via it’s second attack Deep Hurricane. With a Muscle Band and a Hypnotoxic Laser, Lugia can hit a key 180 damage. To make room for this card, I would most likely cut either a Super Scoop Up or a Shaymin-EX.
The deck has some very interesting and solid matchups across the board, which makes it a solid play for the upcoming Autumn Regionals. Unfortunately, you won’t have the surprise factor that Robin did when he played it.
Vespiquen/Flareon: Favorable to Slightly Unfavorable
Many players see Vespiquen/Flareon as one of the strongest decks in the Expanded format, so it’s one you need to be prepared for. With the inclusion of Giratina-EX, you may be able to mow your opponent down very quickly before they are able to get a stable attacker going thanks to Chaos Wheel. In this matchup, I recommend trying to set up a Giratina-EX as soon as possible and get it in the Active position, attacking whenever you can. Most Vespiquen lists will struggle to attack without the use of Double Colorless Energy.
Thanks to the inclusion of Crushing Hammer and Team Flare Grunt, you should be able to get rid of most of your opponent’s basic Energy fairly easily. If the Vespiquen list doesn’t run some form of Energy acceleration, you shouldn’t have a hard time winning this matchup. If the list does include Energy acceleration however, you should be cautious with your Giratina-EX use, and make sure to build up a second one just in case.
This matchup is interesting due to the speed of the two decks. Yveltal/Garbodor isn’t as fast as the other versions of Yveltal, but it can still pack a punch early. Garbodor can be a nuisance, but they should have a hard time setting it up thanks to Quaking Punch. Eventually you can transition into a Giratina once you feel comfortable with your lead, but do not rush into it. Over time the Yveltal player will build up a bunch of Items in their hand and if you break the Quaking Punch lock, they can overrun you with multiple Dark Patches and Hypnotoxic Lasers.
Thanks to the limited amount of space the deck has to work with, they are typically unable to run a Keldeo-EX, making them very vulnerable to Hypnotoxic Laser. This is where you should be able to pull ahead, as they’ll struggle with all of the disruption you have and eventually lose once their first decently-sized Yveltal-EX goes down.
Yveltal/Seismitoad: Even to Slightly Unfavorable
One thing that this deck has over you is its ability to dish out huge damage quickly. The extra consistency from not running Garbodor is a key factor here, as well as the inclusion of Keldeo-EX. The Yveltal player should focus on setting up a large Yveltal early and powering through your Seismitoads as soon as possible. This puts a lot of pressure on you to flips heads on your Crushing Hammers and Hypnotoxic Lasers, otherwise you will end up with a quick loss. If the Yveltal player is forced into an early Seismitoad and decides to go that route, you should be able to pull ahead thanks to cards like Xerosic and Team Flare Grunt.
Head Ringers also play a big role here, and you should be very cautious with them. Y Cyclone is very good against Seismitoad, and forcing them to have four Energy to use it can really drag them down since they will be under Item lock.
In the later parts of the game, it may be correct to transition into a Giratina-EX and try to close it out. If they’re running low on Energy and Dark Patches, making the switch can win you the game as it will shut off one of their most important resources, Double Colorless Energy.
One of the biggest disadvantages this deck has against you is its lack of Hypnotoxic Laser. Without them, they have a hard time taking knockouts quickly, thus causing them to fall behind. They also run a very large amount of Item draw which will clog up their hand very quickly and make a late game N hurt them quite a bit.
Most Yveltal/Archeops lists run a low amount of basic Energy, which you should keep track of throughout the game. In my personal list, I only run 6 Darkness, and at certain points I have a hard time drawing into them. While under Item lock this only gets worse, and you can take advantage of that. If you know that your opponent only has a few Darkness Energy and Dark Patches left, it may be correct to transition into Giratina-EX and shut off their Double Colorless Energy. They will have a hard time knocking out Giratina-EX in one hit, and if you start attacking with it after a fresh N, you may be able to steal the game.
Night March/Archeops: Even
This matchup isn’t amazing, but isn’t too bad for you at the same time. Night March focuses on speed and taking fast OHKOs, and if they are able to pull off an early 180+ Night March, you’re going to be in some serious trouble.
One of the most important parts of this matchup is knowing when to transition into Giratina-EX. A well-timed Giratina can easily steal you the game, but there are some things you need to do first. Make sure you are able to get down Head Ringers on any Mew-EX in play, and make sure to play down a Virbank City Gym to counter any Stadium in play. Then, you should be in a very good spot to move into using Chaos Wheel.
I’ll be at Arizona Regionals next month, so if you’re there please stop by and say hi! I’ll most likely be wearing either a SixPrizes or “Mad Pullz” shirt.
Thanks for reading!
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