Whenever a tree falls in the forest, it’s expected for people not to hear it, but if a tree grows beautifully in a field, it’s hard not to appreciate. Good day, SixPrizes readers. My name is Aaron Tarbell, and this is my first appearance for Underground, but what you need to know about me is that I played Trevenant last season. Piloting the deck at only five tournaments, I earned a total of 390 CP. You might also want to know that I am a full-time student attending Indiana University, and I major in biology.
This article will be a high-level analysis of the Trevenant deck, and my intention is to increase your understanding of Trevenant, including how to play it against the most popular decks in Expanded and how to adjust the common build for playing in specific metas. In other words, this will be a care guide for your trees so you can make them stand out, stand strong, and stand tall among the field in Phoenix.
- Why I Believe in Trevenant
- Popular Bunch: Seven Decks to Watch Out For
- The Trunk: Adjusted Regionals-Winning List
- Trevenant’s Matchups and Different Branches
- Common Questions and Final Thoughts
The basis for the deck is insane: it has the ability to stop the strongest cards in the game (Items) from being played before the opponent ever gets a turn. Thus, as Items become increasingly integral to decks and strategies, Silent Fear becomes more and more effective, so in a format where all of the strongest Items are available for use and will likely see play (Expanded), Trevenant requires little change to maintain its potency over the opposition.
I also adore Trevenant due to its simple setup and ability to win against anything with enough luck. It’s got some great matchups against the popular decks of Expanded, it keeps a strong place in Expanded with help from key cards like Jirachi-EX and Computer Search, and it will most likely maintain its strength until more compelling counters for the deck are released.
- Trevenant (meta analysis, list)
- Dark variants (meta analysis, list)
- Night March (meta analysis, list)
- Vespiquen/Flareon (meta analysis, list)
- Toad/Bats (meta analysis, list)
- Blastoise (meta analysis, list)
- M Rayquaza (meta analysis, list)
Of all of the archetypes in Expanded, I believe these seven decks have the highest chance of winning Phoenix Regionals (Oct. 1–2). Each of these decks had a strong showing at Spring Regionals and each has a diverse strategy that can be very difficult for other decks to overcome. Any deck that can compete with and/or beat around four of these seven decks definitely has a place in the meta, but these are the decks that I expect to comprise the majority of the field.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 36
Energy – 8
Adapted from my Winter Regionals list:
I’m going to cover how Trevenant matches up against all of my projected top seven and offer advice on how to play these matchups, including what card choices will help you.
Estimation: 50/50 — Personal Tournament Record: 0-2-1
Much like trees in nature, Trevenant must sometimes compete with each other in order to survive. In order to do this, trees in nature can either develop in patterns that cut off the roots of their competition by expanding their own roots to lessen the nutrients other trees are able to receive, or the trees can grow taller faster in order to cut off the light source of their adversaries. These relationships are indicative of how Trevenant decks can beat the mirror: either one version “grows faster” and sets up first, allowing it to disrupt and out-damage the opponent, or tech cards are able to disrupt the version that sets up faster and allow the slower deck in the matchup to regain its ground. Each specific Trevenant mirror match can go in wildly opposite directions based on the luck of the draw due to each deck being able to reliably set up under Item lock due to Ascension, but the decks tend to falter under Item lock past this point if further Energy or Evolutions cannot be drawn.
The way to play this matchup is pretty straightforward though. Due to Expanded Trevenants being very consistent with turn 1 Wally, it is generally optimal to go first, especially with the very consistent “Florida Palm” (Bursting Balloon) list. This can possibly stop the opponent from setting up their own Trevenant, and going first allows for the first Energy attachment. Generally, the first attachment won’t be removed if Trevenant is on the field due to the Item lock requiring the opponent to start with a Team Flare Grunt or a Lysandre/Crushing Hammer heads combo to remove the Energy, on top of needing a Trevenant as well to keep up.
Even if you don’t go first, don’t worry too much! If the Item lock isn’t established turn 1, the deck going second has a good chance to stay in the game because it’s able to use Ascension rather than Wally to evolve, which keeps the deck from over-extending and placing liabilities such as Shaymin-EX or Jirachi-EX down as much. Going second also allows the player to use cards such as Team Flare Grunt or Crushing Hammer more readily if Item lock isn’t established, causing the person going second to basically gain the advantage of going first if the Item lock wasn’t established.
Past the turn 1 intricacies, the matchup begins to be touch-and-go due to neither player getting a lot of options. If possible, each player would prefer to stagger their Basics to minimize the damage output of Silent Fear. This means you space out when you bench your Pokémon so they go down on different turns. This is a common strategy against Trevenant and one that is important understand. Putting damage on the Trevenant lines should take precedence due to each player most likely not being able to set up many Trevenant, and the Trevenant are the only real threats in the matchup.
Wobbuffet can be beneficial to start with in order to provide a form of disruption if the opponent is going first, so they might not be able to hit the Wally as easily, but it should only be used as an attacker if it will end the game due to 1) releasing the Item lock, 2) the opposing Trevenant deck being able to reestablish Item lock very easily if they have resources built up, and 3) some forms of the deck being able to remove all of your Energy from the board when allowed to play Items.
Techs: The cards that provide advantages in the mirror are Jirachi-EX, Lysandre, Team Flare Grunt, consistency cards, Red Card, Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, Xerosic, Silent Lab, and sometimes Wobbuffet, in that order. Some cards to cut if you want a good Trevenant matchup would be Bursting Balloon, Mewtwo-EX, Wobbuffet, and general Item cards that don’t help as much.
The idea is to break the lock and disrupt further, be able to play disruption cards under Item lock, and draw better than your opponent. Even with overly consistent techs for the mirror, it most likely won’t become too lopsided in one person’s favor, and playing extra Supporters versus Items can slow you down in other matchups that you need to be faster in.
Estimation: Very Unfavorable — Personal Tournament Record: 2-4-1
This matchup is the biggest deterrent for people wanting to play Trevenant, and with good reason — the matchup is awful, and Dark is the most played archetype in Expanded. Trees need sunlight in order to grow and Trevenant in particular does not like the dark. The “Florida Palm” is a very fitting name for the list that won Florida Regionals: each game looked fairly the same, it had spikes that deterred various predators (Bursting Balloons), and the deck couldn’t have done well if it was in an environment that was cold and dark all the time. Florida was actually infested with Dark, but the tree that did well was lucky to survive its one overcast encounter.
The thing about this matchup is that there are “shade trees” that can survive with just a little light shining through. This light comes to you through Weakness Policy. It allows you to survive an otherwise very bleak matchup and is worth considering if you feel you’re going to run into more than a couple of Dark decks.
With the list depicted earlier, the outlook on this matchup is bleak, but it is not unwinnable. Going first and getting a turn 1 Wally is obviously the strongest route to winning because it can force the Dark deck to dead draw, and it can force Gallade and Turbo Darkrai versions to dead draw more heavily due to their abundance of Items. Following the initial Item lock, the next step toward winning is limiting the opponent’s resources through using Team Flare Grunt multiple times along with the Enhanced Hammer on Dark threats like Yveltal BKT, Yveltal-EX, and Darkrai-EX.
Caution: It’s not worth it to use a Team Flare Grunt on an Yveltal XY. That Energy will only be used the next turn with an Oblivion Wing, creating an even bigger threat you will have to deal with. You’re allowing them to accelerate Energy onto their field, which they might not otherwise be able to do without the use of Items.
Following a turn missing the Grunt, a Bursting Balloon can be attached and this forces the threat to take damage if the opponent decides to attack. The best route to winning is placing the most damage counters possible on the field while using Balloons to deal extra damage to threats. This allows for the Trevenant deck to take cheap knockouts on Shaymin, and sometimes Hoopa, which the deck will inevitably need to do to win, unless the Dark deck misses a few Energy attachments, which is possible. While overextending does happen in this matchup, benching both Shaymin-EX and Jirachi-EX in order to get the Wally is okay. Since the Dark deck tends to be aggressive enough to threaten consistent one-hit knockouts — even on Trevenant BREAK — it is imperative that multiple Trevenant will have to be set up to win.
Wobbuffet and Mewtwo shine in this matchup because they can clear the threats that have built up a lot of damage or Energy. Obviously maintaining the lock is strong, but breaking the lock to deal with anything that would knock out two more Trevenant BREAK in two attacks is not the worst thing in the world. (Save the trees!) This should be done only if it is for a knockout or to set up for a knockout with a Trevenant. Using Lysandre on non-threats such as Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX that require multiple Energy attachments to attack (or retreat) can work as a pseudo Team Flare Grunt. Early on the Lysandre is much less effective due to the abundance of Energy in the Dark deck, but late game can be scary for them.
Techs: This is an obviously bad matchup, so how can trees grow in a biome (meta) where there is so much darkness? Firstly, there is merit in trying to find light in the dark. A tree positioned well in an environment that has a lot of dark surrounding it can still grow tall if it somehow gets enough light. Then there are trees such as the “Maple Bonsai” that can live in colder environments and even survive a good amount of time with little to no sun, but they still grow best in the sunlight. These “Maple Bonsai” Trevenant thrive in the dark through the usage of cards such as Weakness Policy, Hammers, Team Flare Grunt, Xerosic, Captivating Poké Puff, and Red Card, but they tend to give up their thorns — cutting Bursting Balloon and consistency in order to accommodate these additions.
Weakness Policy is the equivalent of a sunlamp. It can get the tree through the dark by not letting it die so fast, but in intense sunlight where the tree normally grows, it can be bothersome and even damage the tree. Hammers along with control cards such as Red Card can force an unfavorable board state and tend to make Dark a better matchup than do the Bursting Balloons, but if the Hammers are unlucky, they can lead to worse board positions than the Bursting Balloon they replace.
Overall, even though I am more willing to bet on the “Maple Bonsai” to win against Dark (see Christian Ortiz’s 1st place Spring list on Pokémon.com), I’d much rather have a rendition of the “Florida Palm” with a couple of small adaptations to make Dark more survivable when heading into a fresh, unexplored biome — aka Phoenix Regionals.
Estimation: Very Favorable — Personal Tournament Record: 8-2-1
Now we can begin to explore the light (Trevenant’s favorable matchups). I’m going to group Night March and Vesipquen together, since they operate so similarly. The good news for Trevenant players and bad news for anyone that hates Night March and Vespiquen and thinks they are gone, is that Karen isn’t legal for Phoenix, so Night March is a crazy good play, and Vespiquen will still be relevant. In fact, these decks are better now than ever with Steam Siege legal. They now have Pokémon Ranger to make sure that they don’t go extinct from common strategies such as Giratina-EX AOR and pesky Eeveelutions. For our trees, this is great news! Forests tend to grow much greater whenever the bug life is allowed to flourish.
These matchups tend to be very one-sided and not require a lot of finesse for most trees. Trevenant’s Item lock can entirely shut Night March and Vespiquen out of the game if they never get a turn with Items, since all of their damage comes from being able to use Items that discard cards. On top of this, their attackers all have relatively low HP which gives Trevenant the ability to KO attackers with Bursting Balloons, if the attackers ever even threaten attack. Night March would be the harder matchup, since they can explode using Battle Compressor, Trainers’ Mail, and a myriad other Items in order to get the turn 1 Ghetsis and try to stop your trees from growing before the seeds are even planted. On turn 1 they can basically go through their entire deck in order to stop you, but as long as the tree has some sort of care keeper such as a Professor Juniper or N, Trevenant is normally able to recover. Night March has low enough HP as well so that they can lose their threats if they ever attack into a Bursting Balloon with one of their unnaturally strong scamps.
While Vespiquen/Flareon does gain Talonflame STS, and the Evolutions can survive Bursting Balloons, the gained consistency doesn’t usually do enough, and Trevenant BREAK can usually perform return knockouts while damaging the rest of the field, unless the trees aren’t growing properly for whatever reason. The Umbreon BW93 tech for Vespiquen deals 60 damage and heals 60 from itself for just a DCE, but it usually isn’t enough to win. Team Flare Grunt can remove its Energy before it does anything significant. Mewtwo is there to deal with it via Psydrive, and you can still take Prizes off the Bench. However, Umbreon is definitely something that should be played around by damaging Eevees as fast as possible if the choice is presented.
Shaymin-EX are weeds to trees in more ways than one. They are able to defy all odds and attack Trevenant without return damage from Bursting Balloon ever knocking them out. Since they are crazy annoying to deal with, Mewtwo normally comes in to knock them out and the game can progress normally from there, after providing the Item-dependent decks one turn of Items. The Trevenant deck should set up as much as possible before relying on Psydrive in order to guarantee that they will be able to deal with their opponent’s explosive turn full of Items.
When Mewtwo is unavailable, Trevenant can normally deck out the opponent if they sped through their deck. Using Delinquent, or two Tree Slams after a good N or Red Card, can be enough to run them out of cards. Pumpkaboo can use our Dimension Valley to attack, so it is not always the best idea to lay them down early. Play fast and bold so Sky Return loop doesn’t take you to time; these are matchups you can be confident in.
Techs: In these matchups, Bursting Balloon is heavily preferred over Crushing Hammer since they allow you to recover from bad starts. Possible additions to make these matchups better are consistency cards, Bursting Balloon, Delinquent, Captivating Poké Puff, Red Card, Xerosic, and Head Ringer. Each of these provide further disruption that can lead to less Items being played, remove of existing board advantage, stop Sky Return loops, or deck out opponents. Cards that aren’t as helpful include Hammers and Weakness Policy since the Night March decks only need one Double Colorless per attack and aren’t Dark type.
Estimation: Very Favorable — Personal Record: X-0
Trees also tend to thrive whenever toads rule the biome! Seismitoad-EX is always a big threat in Expanded, and the good news is that Trevenant often tends to do well in metas that are Quaking Punch-heavy. This is partly because the matchup is so favorable and partly because Seismitoad has a strong advantage over Dark decks.
The Seismitoad/Crobat matchup is probably the most favorable matchup Trevenant has. Both decks have similar goals: win with Item lock and place damage in strategic places in order to deal with threats or take easy Prizes. Toads are sometimes poisonous as we know, presenting a threat to any predator that comes along. Trees, however, are not affected by these toxins entirely. Most Expanded Toad decks deal out that extra damage in the form of Lasers and Virbank City, and while this works great against much of the meta, Toad usually can’t use its Lasers or other myriad Items past the first turn of the game against Trevenant.
How does Trevenant do under Item lock? Not as well as normal, of course, but it has a great advantage over Toad due to its ability to maintain Item lock without attacking. The BREAK is also a non-EX with almost as much HP, giving up only one Prize when it goes down. Trevenant has more outs to Energy to attack with (actual Energy + Dimension Valley), and it also out-damages Toad: Quaking Punch deals 30 damage just to the Active Trevenant but Trevenant BREAK deals 60 to the Active for extra pressure, or 30 to the entire board, returning Toad’s damage two- to six-fold.
The matchup usually plays out in a fairly linear fashion, since both decks remove a lot of options from each other. The Trevenant deck will usually Item lock first. Each player’s first turn should be used to gain access to Supporters that can remove the Item lock (Energy removal through Team Flare Grunt against Toad; Lysandre for something on the Trevenant side). If Trevenant is able to set up first and get the BREAK Evolution and Energy, the Toad player’s out is to load up enough Energy to use Grenade Hammer on the Trevenant. If you run Hammers, a few heads on Crushing Hammer can force a concession from the Toad player as soon as they stop using Quaking Punch. Seismitoad-EX decks generally run less Energy than average.
Note: You should attempt to limit your Bench to Trevenants if at all possible to keep Lysandre plays out of reach. Also, try to play around Delinquent by keeping more than 3 cards in hand each turn, and do your best to keep Energy off the Toad.
Techs: The cards that help further with this matchup are Team Flare Grunt, Xerosic, Head Ringer, AZ, Jirachi-EX, Red Card, and both Hammers, but the matchup is favorable enough that the Trevenant player doesn’t need to go overboard on these cards.
Estimation: Favorable — Personal Record: n/a
I like turtles. You like turtles. We all like turtles! Turtles are cute. Much as in life, if turtles are just munching on leaves and being helpless, everyone is going to have a good time, but if turtles are causing flash floods, there are going to be issues. Blastoise has recently had a resurgence in Expanded format, and with good reason. The deck has a solid chance against everything after it manages to set up. Due to the strength of Blastoise compared to its inability to set up under Item lock, this matchup is very reliant on who goes first. If Trevenant goes first and establishes the lock, Blastoise effectively becomes a bad M Manectric-EX deck with low Rough Seas. If the Blastoise hits the field, the matchup can become as hard as Dark due to Keldeo-EX being able to knock out Trevenant BREAK in one hit, and the deck can get its Energy back with a Lysandre on a support Pokémon coupled with Superior Energy Retrieval.
If going first, the Trevenant should try its hardest to get the turn 1 Wally, and then maximize its damage output on both Keldeo-EX and Articuno: choose carefully between Tree Slam and Silent Fear so that most of your damage is being placed on these main threats. Keldeo-EX will generally be the threat while Articuno can stall for more turns to attach Energy through Sleep flips for low Energy cost. Bursting Balloons should be attached to Trevenant whenever Keldeo-EX have the chance to knock them out on the next turn. Without the potential to knock out the Trevenant, Keldeo normally won’t be pressured to force an attack on the Trevenant and the Balloon can be wasted due.
Hammers can be played flippantly against Blastoise, since Lysandre and Superior Energy Retrieval can return Energy from four Hammer heads to their hand. Generally the Hammers should be used to minimize Keldeo’s damage output. If Blastoise goes first and gets the turtle up, the Trevenant deck needs to place down as many Phantump as possible, get an Ascension, and try to get Keldeo to attack into Bursting Balloon while setting up Tree Slam with Benched Phantump. If Trevenant is able to deal with the first two Keldeo through Balloons and Tree Slam, it can still win.
New Species: The good news is, if Trevenant are in biomes with Rough Seas and even Shaymin-EX XY148, the “Weeping Willow” (Silent Lab, Acro Bike, no Shaymin-EX version) is a tree adapted specifically to grow swiftly and deal with an abundance of water and weeds (Shaymin). This is a version that arose at Worlds in the Standard format, and it functions through a consistency engine comprised of Acro Bike and Trainers’ Mail, opting to run 2 to 3 Silent Lab and no Shaymin-EX or Wobbuffet. These changes allow for the deck to have more Stadium bumps, to shut down both types of Shaymin-EX while maintaining Item lock, and to lessen the effectiveness of Lysandre by forcing its Bench to consist only of Trevenant. “Weeping Willows” can be very all-or-nothing oriented, but they are also very strong and are designed for fields where palms can’t grow.
Techs: If Trevenant are attempting to combat an army of turtles, the most effective cards in the matchup are Bursting Balloon, consistency cards, Silent Lab, Red Card, and Delinquent. Cards that could be cut are Enhanced Hammer, Mewtwo-EX, and Wobbuffet. Mewtwo-EX can punish Keldeo-EX with a lot of Energy, but generally, letting up Item lock will lead inevitably to losing the matchup. Wobbuffet can be a strong way to end the first turn if Item lock was not established, but it’s still not as good a turn 1 Wally.
Estimation: Very Favorable — Personal Tournament Record: 2-0-1 (VOD: R4 US Nats)
Just as snakes and trees co-exist in their respective forest environments, the snake-like Rayquaza-EX does well in a field of Trevenant. The trees provide refuge for the snakes, who thrive in darkness and are voracious forest predators, eating everything small and big alike. While Trevenant keeps Night March and Vespiquen at bay, Rayquaza-EX goes around beating down all the Yveltal and Blastoise decks. Again, peaceful coexistence in the field, until one day when a tree falls in the forest and the snake is crushed underneath.
Rayquaza has two ways to play against Trevenant, much like Night March: they can either go first, explode, and overwhelm Trevenant, or the deck can attempt to constantly Sky Return until it has a perfect hand with a Lysandre to set up later in the game. Fortunately for Trevenant, neither way is super effective. Trevenant has the potential to recover from an explosion from Rayquaza almost immediately by attempting to do three things: bump their Stadium to lower their damage output allowing Trevenant BREAK to survive an attack, remove 3 Energy from the active Rayquaza-EX between Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer, and set up Item lock to prevent a second explosion. Their Items allow them to make extra attachments (Mega Turbo) and search out more Pokémon which increases their damage output again.
As the Trevenant player, you should attempt to go first, but if the gods are against you, don’t fret too much. Trevenant should attempt to set up Item lock and many Phantumps for after the initial explosion. Following this, attaching to Benched Phantumps while putting Balloons on the Active and searching out Energy removal can provide enough pressure to stop Rayquaza-EX in its tracks. Also, if Trevenant is never able to remove the Energy, and Rayquaza is running very hot, Trevenant is usually still able to use Silent Fear four times to knock out Shaymins: use a Lysandre-stall technique or just run hot and set up 4 to 5 Trevenant (Super Rod necessary).
Note: If the explosions never come and the weeds (Shaymin) begin to do their thing and start eating away at the trees, ask N to help, get set up and drop Mewtwo-EX, or … move on to the next game. Hey, it happens.
Techs: Every type of tree tends to enjoy the Rayquaza matchup but the Palm Tree version (original Florida List) does the least due to not having as much Energy removal or as many Stadiums. Don’t worry, though; the matchup is still very favorable. If you’re adjusting your deck for Rayquaza-EX (though you probably don’t need to), you can run Parallel City, Head Ringer, Red Card, Hammers, Lysandre, consistency cards, Delinquent, or Mewtwo-EX.
1. Who should play Trevenant at Phoenix Regionals?
Trevenant should be played by the brave-hearted who have some experience with the deck. Dark is a very real threat due to its high prevalence in the meta since the dawn of Expanded format, and it should be stated that Dark tends to perform better on the West Coast for whatever reason. Dark alone should not be threat enough to deter your decision though. If you play a few games, and understand the route to winning most of your matchups, Trevenant is a very strong deck since it beats the majority of the field. The rest of the field is basically designed to deal with the Dark decks Trevenant players lose to, so play if you play Trevenant, and believe in the deck, you might grow the greatest Arizona Desert Shade (the Trevenant that performs the best in Phoenix).
2. How do I choose which version to play?
Decide on a version based off your predicted meta. If you think you will play primarily against Dark decks, plant the “Maple Bonsai” and be prepared with a myriad of Hammers, Red Card, and your sunlamp (the Weakness Policy). If you believe you will play against a horde of Water decks and Promo Shaymin-EX, then the “Weeping Willow”(Silent Lab, Acro Bike, no Shaymin-EX version) is the tree for you. If you don’t predict either of these decks to comprise over three of your rounds, then the tried and true “Florida Palm” is your best bet, since it is the most consistent with the best form of dealing with aggression through Bursting Balloons.
3. Can I play the “Energy Press” Trevenant because it can be good against … ?
No. It’s bad. It’s not worth it. Trevenant relies on Item lock to win and the Trevenant player needs 4-5 Trevenant XY to win most of its games. The Trevenant BKP provides the opponent with too many options.
4. Anything I should be careful of?
Each game, count your Trevenant line and Bursting Balloons/removal cards. If you don’t know what resources you have access to later in the game when you need them most, you’ll be in for a potentially bad surprise. Next, try not to bench your support Pokémon (Shaymin-EX, Jirachi-EX, Wobbuffet) because these provide outs for your opponent to play Lysandre and gain access their Items. Remember, we don’t like people playing Items. Each time you bench a support Pokémon, you could also be giving up two Prizes, so tread carefully.
Another warning: Play fast against Sky Return loop. If you don’t, you can lose precious time and end up tying games you were supposed to win.
Also: Don’t play against Dark too many times! About once per tournament is great. But in all honestly, if you do all of this, know your matchups, and get good pairings, then you will do great.
5. What should I consider before playing Trevenant?
Consider each of the card choices I have discussed, depending on what matchups you want to be most prepared for. The purpose of this article is to indicate how diverse Trevenant can be: it can be built to beat the best of the format and it has a strong chance against anything when running the right cards. Consider my top seven decks and the meta that surrounds them: without Karen, Night March is insane and should honestly rule the Expanded format with its ability to consistently Ghetsis and pressure everything with Basic non-EX attackers. Toad/Bats also gets a boost with Night March being good and having access to Special Charge which gives it an even stronger matchup against Dark due to its ability to recover better. Dark decks are versatile and stand a chance against everything in the meta, but they are heavily countered.
With these considerations, I believe it’s apparent that Trevenant will have a very strong position among the field in Phoenix.
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