Desert Decisions

An All-Encompassing Preview on the State of Expanded for Phoenix Regionals
Bringing clarity on the state of Expanded for Phoenix.

Once again, we’re headed into the rewarding grind of the tournament season. At this point, Worlds is effectively a memory, and everyone’s eyes are focused on the exciting prospect of the coming circuit. Today, I’m continuing with my recent habit of a highly-jagged article schedule, as it’s only been a short week-and-a-half since I was last with you. Nevertheless, today we’re going to delve deeply into a topic I only scratched the surface of last time: the Expanded format for Phoenix Regionals.

Of course, it’s a nuanced topic: the following Expanded event, Philadelphia on November 4th, will include Karen, which figures to revolutionize that format. Phoenix, of course, will be played without Karen. Contrary to the narrative I’ve heard circulating a lot recently — “Expanded is stale, and it doesn’t change” — I believe Steam Siege (Ninja Boy, in particular) affects Expanded more than anything since the release of Trevenant BREAK. I got into that a little bit last time, with my discussion of Rainbow Road, and it’ll continue to be a necessary focus today.

One thing I have to credit the “it’s stale” believers for: decklists for concepts like Trevenant BREAK, Vespiquen/Flareon, and Vespiquen/Vileplume are, quite frankly, available en masse. For the moment, Poké’s archives of Spring and Winter decklists are also still available, and those lists are as good as any for a basis. It requires some thought to incorporate newer cards, but if you’re looking for something like that, it’s the type of case where it’s better to reach out individually to one of us writers rather than try to absorb concepts from decklists alone.

So, today I’d like to take a look back at Spring Regionals — the last time Expanded was at the forefront — to remind us what we’re dealing with before taking a closer look at a current personal favorite for the format. Without further ado, that’s the path we’re going to get started on.

Lookback: I Know What You Did Last Spring

politoed sunflora bellossom jumpluff
Not you guys … Night March …

First, I’d like to recommend you review the results from last Spring, with appreciation, as always, for their compilation by Andrew Wamboldt. Today, the most important table will be the Week 3 (BLW–FCO) Overall Results, but I’m also going to refer to the Weeks 1+2 Table to draw comparisons.

Here’s why I think Weeks 1+2 still matter: quite honestly, Fates Collide didn’t offer much to the Expanded metagame. Mew FCO wasn’t exactly a game changer for any deck (though, as I’ll get to later, its presence appears to have altered at least one deck’s amount of overall play), and the set mostly fizzled after that as far as Expanded is concerned.

The initial, most relevant change from Weeks 1+2 to Week 3 is the presence of Night March atop the Championship Point table. I firmly believe that Night March was the best available play for Week 2, and nothing in Fates Collide changed that for me, so I played it for Week 3 as well last spring. At the time, I didn’t even want to play a Mew (fortunately, sanity prevailed there, as it was a worthwhile choice), if that says anything about my attitude toward Fates Collide.

Personally, I net a 16-7 record over the two weekends while picking up 150 CP. Had things gone just a tad differently in Madison, I could’ve avoid bubbling at 9th, which would’ve set the stage for an even greater pickup. If Sean Foisy, my dear teammate, had managed to win his Round 14 in Madison over Vespiquen/Flareon, we would’ve been primed to take Top 8 by storm from different sides of the bracket.

I don’t say any of that to lament the lost opportunity, but instead to demonstrate:

I fully believe Night March had the potential to be the “king of the hill” in both spring formats.

Over that 16-7 run, my losses were to Trevenant BREAK (which I was 2-1 against during the run overall), mirror (×2), Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF, Wailord-EX, and what I can only describe as a terrible series against M Manectric-EX. Basically: Item lock (though I went .500 against it), mirror, and Wailord.

Given the startling diversity of decks in Expanded — over that run, I beat M Rayquaza-EX, Speed Dark, Virizion/Genesect, M Alakazam, and Ross Cawthon’s Accelgor monstrositya deck that only takes a “bad” matchup to Item lock, itself, and Wailord is in an extremely enviable position. Now, I know some of you are out there cursing my failure to consider things like Vileplume Toolbox or Primal Groudon-EX. Obviously, even fringe decks are good to consider in selecting a deck or considering a deck’s playability, but my point is this: Night March had a crazily good slate of matchups this spring. In a group of four players, the Night March list net 405 CP over those two weekends. I’m adamant that Night March was better than its Week 2 results showed, which is saying a lot given it did fairly well.

Skill Show: But Why Anything Could Win

OK, Christopher, so you’ve told us that Night March was the best deck in format three months ago. So what?

More important than my belief that Night March was the best deck is my stance that any of the top four or five decks had roughly an equal chance of taking home a trophy. Statistically, it’s not a startling statement, as each of the top decks was roughly equivalent in terms of final placement and Championship Point share over the three weekends.

I can’t believe I’m about to write these words, but I’m so glad to have reached this point:

For the first time in a long time, I believe there’s a real chance for games to be primarily decided at the table rather than by a pairing algorithm.

I’m not saying that we’ve recreated formats of days long-gone or anything, but we finally have something so much more than a static rock-paper-scissors lottery. I have been a proponent of the structure encouraging pre-tournament skills (metagame analysis, deck building, etc.) to play a large role in a player’s tournament success. At this stage, we’re approaching a point where deck building prowess becomes more important than simple metagaming. Some relevant constants:

  • All Regionals are going to have a lot of people. Particularly in the early portions of the season, when you consider the relatively sparse allocation of events and the timing of those events (Fort Wayne on Thanksgiving, Dallas on New Year’s Eve/Day), we’re primed to annihilate previous attendance records.
  • All Expanded Regionals are going to have a lot of archetypes represented. When you put over 3,000 cards in a format, you end up with a plethora of combinations that are competitively viable on some level.
    • At the same time, Expanded Regionals are going to feature a fairly well-defined pool of “top archetypes” that you can expect to be piloted in good numbers and by high-level players at any given event.

Everything in the article thus far is dedicated to proving the following point: the difference between first and fourth on a Championship Point or placement list isn’t going to be very significant at all this year.

We started to see the aforementioned effects a bit at the end of last year. Good friend John D’Alotto has a bit of an affinity for trying to make M Rayquaza function. My first question whenever the topic comes up is usually something along the lines of “Have you found a way to beat Night March yet?”

We’ve had this conversation so many times at this point that I can summarize the outline. He may or may not have an idea for countering Night March on that given day, but if there is one, we usually conclude in me being more or less skeptical because of my experiences in the matchup where he finds his present tech may be assisting in taking games over Night March. I may or may not be correct in my dismissal of that instance’s method (there’s at least one point where I was very much too quick to judge a pursuit’s validity), but my skepticism is admittedly fairly pervasive.

. . .

Last Spring in Massachusetts, the finals match was Night March vs M Rayquaza. Rayquaza prevailed. I’ve looked up and down both lists multiple times and have yet to come up with an explanation I understand for this outcome. M Rayquaza’s only semblance of a Night March tech appeared to be Aegislash-EX, which is a novel idea when not considering the near-omnipresence of Hex Maniac. Whatever happened, though, my congrats to the player in question for pulling off the upset.

My own aforementioned loss to M Manectric-EX in Madison, while being somewhat incumbent on my deck’s inability to set up that game, tells a similar tale. We’re no longer in a state where a match’s outcome is predicated more on the computer-generated round pairings than either player’s merit, and that’s an excellent reality.

Something essential to note: even as I speak about the stability of the format, it’s important to note that there will be shake-ups. [something something this current situation may not last] For example, Karen is going to fundamentally redefine this format in a few short weeks. Even with that said, such dramatic shake-ups figure to be few and far between — format-defining cards don’t drop in every set even in Standard. In Expanded, where that set has 25+ counterparts, the rate figures to be even lower in the long term.

Front and Center: The Powerhouses

Night March is still quite possibly the top gun.

As we move into Fall Regionals, I believe the “powerhouses” of the upcoming format are fairly clear. We’re going to get right into it, but I want to set the stage for my templating here: for every deck, I’m going to give some general thoughts on its strategy or chances in the format, a specific scenario in which I’d be uncomfortable with the deck, a scenario in which I’d be excited about the deck’s chances, and a pair of ratings. The first rating, “Fear Factor,” is the level of concern that deck is going to impart in my deck decision, and “Playability Factor” is how strongly I currently view a deck’s chances to make Top 32 in Phoenix this October.

Night March

Even with low HP, you simply can’t beat the investment to damage output ratio that’s now legendary in the game’s history. This might be its swan song with Karen on the horizon, but this might be the one deck that I refuse to take a loss to heading into Phoenix. Special programming note: with Phoenix set to possibly be its final tournament in the preeminent spotlight, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a few players’ deck choices swayed by sentiment.

  • I’d be worried about playing this … if Item lock takes off. There’s a very real chance that Sam Hough’s run at Worlds inspires some consideration of Vileplume Toolbox, and I’m aware of a contingent of players that consider Seismitoad/Crobat to be a major contender in the format. I’m not quite there in considering it as an option myself, but I keep hearing about it. I differ from most of my peers in that I don’t think Ghetsis is a consistent threat to Night March’s existence.
  • I’d feel good playing this … under most circumstances. Simply, I don’t expect any one archetype to capture more than 10% of a very large and a probably heavily-diluted field. That means there will probably only be so many of Night March’s bad matchups. The scariest part? Trevenant BREAK, which Night March should all-but-scoop to on paper, can be beaten a fairly often.
  • Fear Factor: 70/100
  • Playability Rating: 85/100

Trevenant BREAK

This is a concept that might also have a shaky future ahead, as Night March both keeps its counters at bay and serves as decent prey. But for now, Item lock will always be oppressive and Night March is still around to provide a favorable metagame. I’m confident we’ll see both Bursting Balloon and Crushing Hammer variations.

  • I’d be worried playing this … if Yveltal comes back with a vengeance. The West Coast has always had even more of an affinity for Dark than the rest of the country does. While the effect of such regional tendencies should be mitigated this year with a broader geographic constituency present at each event, that doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere.
  • I’d feel good playing this … if I’m wrong above and Night March is a very significant chunk of the metagame. This deck possesses a similar trait to Night March in that it can steal games it has no business winning, as Item lock is just that good, but it’s also very frail and does minimal damage output. M Manectric-EX, Dark, and Rainbow Road are a few examples of decks that can cause trouble here.
  • Fear Factor: 80
  • Playability Rating: 65


(Both Yveltal/Maxie and “Speed Dark” variants)

Obviously, these two decks are fairly different in the way they reach the end goal of winning the game, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to lump them together. Night March is a problem for both variants, while Trevenant serves as a fairly easy matchup in both cases. M Rayquaza is a bit more competitive — but still ugly — when Maxie is included, but Vespiquen/Flareon is decidedly better for the Archeops-wielding variant. I think Rainbow Road is a serious threat to the deck’s existence, however, as I believe most instances of the matchup will buck Spring’s Seattle final and see Rainbow Road come out on top. Essentially: these decks are consistent and powerful, and that’s where their strength lies.

  • I’d be worried playing this … if Rainbow Road and Night March comprise more than 25% of the metagame. I’m not saying that Dark isn’t more than capable of stealing a series against anything due to its sheer strength, but a metagame like this with a few other sketchy matchups thrown in will be an uphill battle.
  • I’d feel good playing this … if Item lock showed up en masse. Keeping Night March down while providing a good to great matchup? There’s not much more we can ask for. While Rainbow Road is likely to thrive on that Item lock as well, it’s more susceptible to a turn 1 Vileplume or Trevenant than Dark is, so Dark is more likely to thrive in that situation. It can’t be understated how strong this archetype can be when it’s running well.
  • Fear Factor: 70 (Speed Dark), 65 (Maxie’s)
  • Playability Rating: 70 (Speed Dark), 75 (Maxie’s)

M Rayquaza-EX (Colorless)

I might be stretching a bit by putting this on the same tier as the other three archetypes, but I do expect it to be a present force in Expanded all season, so I include it here. Positive matchups with Dark variants and a lot of fringe decks in the format make for an interesting play. Overwhelming speed and power is never something that can be ignored.

  • I’d be worried playing this … if Night March is as big as I suspect it will be. Things do happen, people do rate matchups on a % scale for a reason, etc., but I don’t think this deck is fit to swim up a waterfall of bugs and lanterns. Heavy Trevenant would be another concern.
  • I’d feel good about playing this … if Night March either took the day off or Trevenant/Vileplume/Seismitoad were represented in high enough quantities that Night March was utterly oppressed. The deck has an incredible ceiling, but I do suspect it will have the least representation — for good reason — of anything I put on this list.
  • Fear Factor: 65
  • Playability Rating: 55

Undercover: The Sleepers and the Dreamers

blastoise hydro cannon 16-9
Few would anticipate a deluge in the desert.

These decks, unlike the ones above, aren’t necessarily pervasive forces in the format. Are we going to see them represented? Certainly. Am I confident I’m going to hit at least a few of them during my tournament run? Absolutely. The difference between this section and the last section is that I don’t believe these decks, at present, are omnipresent format definers. I’m not going into a tournament certain I’m going to play against these decks, but they weigh on my mind both as foes and as potential options for selection.

(Note: The elaboration in this section will be much shorter than in the one before, as we’d be here all day with the number of qualifying decks.)

Archie’s Blastoise

As I discussed in my last article, this is a deck I see as a very real option for Phoenix. It has the ability to swing through EXs with Keldeo, durably trade with non-EXs (or Shaymin) with Wailord-EX, and generate an excellent Prize trade with Articuno. I talk about inherent strengths in a good bit in my articles, and this is a deck whose attacker suite is uniquely poised to address a wide variety of decks. It has a weakness in its early reliance on Items and another in reliance on Ability lock, but I think it’s a very real sleeper option — and, if last season taught me anything, it’s that this is a deck people seem to play no matter how “good” it is.

  • Key to success: Dark lists not utilizing Hex Maniac OR Dark lists trending more toward the “Speed Dark” concept than a more traditional Maxie’s list. I believe the Speed Dark concept can be overwhelmed and blown by Archie, as it features a lesser focus on Yveltal-EX than the Maxie’s variant. When trying to use Darkrai-EX BKP to trade with Keldeo, Dark loses because it’s essentially the same as what Archie does, except Archie has Blastoise to accelerate Energy.
  • Fear Rating: 35
  • Playability Rating: 80


I strongly believe this deck is overrated by most players, as chaining Stage 1s when Night March can effectively do the same thing for less deck space is a confusing concept to me. Still though, there are those that will continue to look toward it for its flexibility in gaining a type advantage, ability to easily tech a variety of Stage 1 lines, and higher HP when compared to Night March.

  • Key to success: Seismitoad being the biggest Item lock force in the room. This would result in Night March being kept down while providing a decent matchup for Vespiquen. I still don’t know that I think this deck can fit all of the techs and tricks it needs to be successful into a 60-card list, but if someone’s going to see success with Vespiquen in Phoenix, it’s going to be predicated on Seismitoad having a large presence.
  • Fear Rating: 50
  • Playability Rating: 35


I know a few people that think this is near-BDIF status in the format. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but Item lock is always a formidable foe, and the extra damage provided by Crobat allows for a lot of unique plays that go far in matchups like Night March.

  • Key to success: Virizion/Genesect, M Rayquaza, and other fringe decks that would beat it staying away. I think this has a super interesting matchup with both Rainbow Road and Archie’s Blastoise, and a lot comes down to how many Silent Lab the list chooses to play (and how many Stadiums the opponent plays). I feel that Trevenant is a poor matchup unless Rough Seas is included, but diluting the Stadium line with Rough Seas opens the deck to a myriad of other issues. That’s going to be a tough line to strike a balance on, and while I’m not comfortable authoritatively dictating that one is definitely better than the other, I’m leaning toward including a Rough Seas.
  • Bonus detail: A debate I hear a lot with Seismitoad/Bats is the N/VS Seeker count. Most decks play 7 in combination, but there are schools of thought on both sides of the split that ardently stand for their side. Personally, I think N’ing my opponent to 6 under Item lock is a waste — if not counterproductive — so I’d lean toward the 4th VS Seeker for greater flexibility.
  • Fear Rating: 60
  • Playability Rating: 75

Primal Groudon-EX

This was my selection for Week 1-of Spring, and I still think it’s a force to be reckoned with. Yveltal is a convincingly strong matchup when Scramble Switch is utilized, and Night March can be won with careful play. Special Charge is a concern in that matchup though, and it’s something I want to dedicate more time to testing. Primal Groudon has the unique capability of coupling an early-game Ability lock with a heavy-hitting attacker in the mid and late games, which makes it a convincingly attractive option to me.

  • Key to success: Seismitoad, Yveltal, and Night March are all intriguing matchups to me. M Rayquaza, Trevenant, and things like Accelgor make me nervous. If the right metagame showed up, Primal Groudon could be crowned king. Or, it could go 0-0-9 — the tournament structure is not kind to decks of its nature.
  • Fear Rating: 40
  • Playability Rating: 70


Raikou BKT might be one of the best non-EXs printed in the BLW and XY eras, and as long as it’s around, I suspect it finds a home as a niche in some competitive deck. For now, that’ll be with Eelektrik. Consistent non-EX damage is something to sneer at, and Lightning has been great for type coverage for years. The big weakness: Tynamo and Eelektrik’s low HP. That makes the Trevenant matchup an uphill battle for sure.

  • Key to success: Night March and Trevenant somehow both taking hits early in the day. Neither of those matchups are that great, with Night March able to prey on the slightest sign of an EX (and make sure they don’t bench one of their own). Considering you attacking on turn 2, let alone turn 1, isn’t a foregone conclusion, Night March is a sketchy matchup for sure. If you can chain Rough Seas effectively, you obviously can beat Trevenant, but I can’t say I’d count on it being a frequent occurrence.
  • Fear Rating: 25
  • Playability Rating: 55

Rainbow Road

My current sentimental favorite, Ho-Oh-EX’s newest calling certainly has nothing if not options. The sheer amount of techs that can be worked in and out of here with ease, all tied together by a uniquely powerful form of Energy acceleration and the glue of Rainbow Force’s reliable damage output, makes this a formidable foe.

  • Key to success: Someone finding the right techs! Well, and avoiding Night March. I don’t see a scenario in which this deck finds itself in a positive matchup with Joltik and Pumpkaboo, so a metagame full of things like Seismitoad and Trevenant would probably fit Ho-Oh’s model for success.
  • Fear Rating: 60
  • Playability Rating: 70

With those out of the way, it basically completes my profile of the Expanded format heading into Phoenix. These are all of the decks that I believe are likely to see significant play. Concepts on the peripheral like Wailord-EX, M Manectric-EX, Accelgor DEX, and Vileplume Toolbox will inevitably see play in the room, but I expect that play to be negligible enough that I’m not going to fully weigh it in my decision-making process.

If it’s not obvious, Night March is my current incumbent. Right now, the list is more or less my Spring Regionals one with a Pokémon Ranger rotating in and out. I don’t think STS necessarily changes anything else with the deck, other than perhaps Special Charge, to the point that an overhaul is necessary.

I do worry that Item lock could carry a lot of momentum into Phoenix, so I’m also going to be investigating Rainbow Road lists as an option. I just talked to you about Rainbow Road in my last piece, so I’m not going to get back into it today. Instead, we’re going to look at the third genre of deck I’m considering: Item lock itself.

Check-Out Item: Seismitoad/Crobat

Pokémon – 15

3 Seismitoad-EX

4 Zubat PLS 53

3 Golbat PHF

2 Crobat PHF

1 Dedenne FFI

1 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

1 Lysandre

1 Ghetsis

1 AZ

1 Colress

1 Xerosic


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Super Scoop Up

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Fighting Fury Belt

1 Muscle Band

1 Red Card

1 Super Rod

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search


3 Silent Lab

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless

3 W

Quite honestly, I expect that most lists for Toad/Bats will be within 3 or 4 cards of each other at this point. There’ll be some debate on the Stadium count, some might play Lugia-EX over Dedenne, and others might play a slightly different Tool line (Rock Guard would be a part of that argument for sure). I err on the side of caution in most of those debates, going for more consistency in executing a strategy over niche techs to position that strategy to morph into something for each matchup.

This deck is positioned to do well due to Item lock’s ever-present strength, promo Jirachi’s current lack of play, Virizion/Genesect’s present hiatus in play (Karen will change that), and its ability to spread damage with Bites. This list is meant to complement those points, with Silent Lab accentuating Item lock’s effect to mitigate an opponent’s ability to set up effectively, Hypnotoxic Laser adding extra damage and a layer of disruption, and Jirachi-EX allowing easy access to the situation’s requisite Supporter.

If you have any other questions about the list, feel free to reach out. In light of the prior discussion about Expanded’s top foes, I’d like to to run through the relevant matchups and my thoughts on the best way to approach them.


Vs. Dark Variants

Once again, I’m going to lump them together for ease of consideration. A key detail here is keeping control of the board. If the opponent is able to set up a large Yveltal-EX, you need to ensure you have the resources to allow a Dedenne response in the fairly-short term. Control of the Yveltal problem is one reason that I elect Dedenne over the perhaps more-conventional Lugia-EX selection.

Toads may fall in efforts to maintain the lock.

Problems can also arise if Speed Dark is able to have an explosive turn 1, filling its board with Energy and potentially threatening to run through our Seismitoads with ease. In a situation like this, I’d prioritize Knocking Out whatever has the most Energy by whatever means necessary. It’s unlikely that an opponent will manage to 1HKO Seismitoads at any point in the early game, but if they start moving aggressively for 2HKOs, an option worth considering is using your first Seismitoad to net 80-100 Quaking Punch damage (with additional Laser/Bat damage), letting it fall (holding Super Scoop Ups for Crobat usage unless absolutely necessary), and utilizing an N+new Seismitoad to reset an opponent to 4 cards, Item lock, and, ideally, remove the Darkrai from play.

Depending how explosive that turn 1 was, this may or may not be an effective strategy. If the opponent managed to largely thin the deck with Battle Compressor/the like, it’s unlikely that this strategy will result in enough disruption to make the sacrifice worthwhile.

Something to note as a Yveltal/Maxie player when playing against Toad/Bats: I think there’s a very realistic argument to be made in favor of getting Gallade, rather than the Archeops that some players might default to, with a turn 1 Maxie. With Item lock, the deck-order manipulation is probably more worthwhile than preventing Crobat/Golbat from hitting the board.

Vs. Colorless M Rayquaza-EX Variants

A significant problem in this matchup is M Rayquaza’s sheer bulk. If they run hot enough, it’s not unrealistic to fear being swept by a single M Rayquaza. But, as long as Item lock keeps the game in relatively close shape, that shouldn’t be a major concern. If you can limit Rayquaza to one turn of Item usage, and they don’t get a 2nd Spirit Link down, odds are you’re going to be in decent shape.

However, that’s not always a given. M Rayquaza is perfectly capable of exploding into a board state that dashes most of the hope that can be had victory. For that reason, when taking the first turn of the game, this is one of the matchups where I believe a turn 1 Ghetsis is valuable enough to expend Jirachi-EX on it. If that’s not possible, my second priority would be on trying to dig as much as possible for Zubat/Seismitoad/Double Colorless so that I could afford to spend turn 2 on a Xerosic/Lysandre play. If all else fails, Silent Lab has a real chance to destroy their turn 1 as well.

When going second against an explosive start by Rayquaza, you’re already well behind the 8-ball. In that situation, I’d prioritize getting as many Zubat in play as possible. Hypnotoxic Laser damage will add up quickly, and if you’re able to find the Red Card+Silent Lab combo, there’s a decent chance that subsequent Item lock will prevent them from doing anything significant on the following turn. There’s no way around the fact that a serious element of luck is required in this sort of scenario, but it’s very manageable.

Vs. Night March

silent-lab-primal-clash-pcl-140 (1)
Shaymin don’t want to hear it.

You ought to be heavily favored, but as some of my friends have experienced, nothing is sure when dealing with Night March. Unlike M Rayquaza, I don’t believe the turn 1 Ghetsis is always a goal. While it’s nice to steal a quick game, it’s not always worth the risk posed by benching a small EX. Moreover, if your hand is subpar, it’s somewhat questionable to risk a low Ghetsis return landing you with a dead hand. The matchup is mostly favorable; my advice is to let it come to you rather than going over-aggressive.

With that said, when going first, Silent Lab is something you want to make happen. It’s not nearly as integral when Night March has already had a chance to play its opening hand out, but otherwise, forcing them to find a Stadium — when most lists now only play a relatively low number — in order to use Shaymin-EX is a boost to your cause.

Even without Silent Lab, your goal is to eventually N (or Red Card) them into an unplayable hand while clearing the field of Night Marchers. Unless they’re running extremely well, at some point the flow of Energy will dry up, and you’ll be able to coast to a win. If you lose Game 1 to a Night March in a Bo3 series, remember to keep calm and avoid overextending in the early portions of Game 2. It’s overextension that can lead to a lost series.

Vs. Trevenant BREAK

One of the worst matchups in modern TCG history, this war of attrition features you both doing minimal damage while making 30%+ of each player’s deck useless. When playing against Bursting Balloon/minimal Energy denial lists, there’s a real chance to Item lock your opponent out of the game early and take a W.

Unfortunately, lists with heavy Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic aren’t nearly as hospitable. While Seismitoad may be relatively durable, an ugly dilemma presents itself when you’re unable to apply pressure: benching low-HP Pokémon is a recipe for disaster, but if you don’t bench anything, your opponent would be wise to pursue a Tree Slam solution to the Active Seismitoad. In this case, the proper course of action probably comes down to an opponent’s prior consumption of Dimension Valley and Energy cards.

In all cases, if you’re ever able to remove a heavily-reinforced Trevenant from the field with Grenade Hammer, that’s probably not a terrible play. It’s an even better play if it removes their only Energy from the board. However, in all cases, this is a matchup I’m a bit leery of.

If there’s any other matchups you particularly would like thoughts on, feel free to ask outside of the article. For the purposes of this space, I hope that these thoughts have given you something to consider both as a Seismitoad/Crobat player and as an opponent.


That’s about all I have for today. Like I mentioned in my last article, I’ll be in Phoenix for what could be Night March’s last stand. It’s my belief that any player would be foolish to discount it as an option moving ahead, but even more foolish for discounting it as a significant threat. Quite honestly, I’m not even convinced that Karen’s mere presence will do enough to completely remove it from the scene, but it’ll be a significant dent in its playability for sure.

If you have any questions about anything I’ve talked about today, or anything else in general, feel free to reach out.


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