Hello SixPrizes readers! I’m glad to be writing again. My work schedule does not allow me too many opportunities to write, but I am always excited to bring you guys new content when I can. One positive of this schedule is that I am never starved for content! Since my last article in October, a lot has happened in my own season and the game in general. Today I want to take you through some notes on my successful season thus far and look at the impact of some of the Sun & Moon cards, with the meat of the article preparing us for Expanded Regionals in St. Louis. Let’s get to it!
- My Season So Far
- Sun & Moon Impact Cards
- The State of Expanded
- Top 10 Viable Decks (in Expanded)
- Notable Omissions
- New Contenders
My Season So Far
Last you heard from me, I had done well at some League Challenges in the fall before failing to perform at Orlando Regionals. In that article, I highlighted some of my top plays for the Expanded Philadelphia Regionals, where I was fortunate enough to take second place with an Accelgor/Wobbuffet list only two cards off the one I presented. Since then, I have not attended any other Regional Championships, as my schedule has not allowed it. I have, however, performed well at some League Cups. I took Vespiquen/Zebstrika to a Top 8 where I was eliminated in a close set to Scizor. I played Seismitoad/Crobat in an Expanded League Cup, losing in a nail-biter series to Frank Diaz with Yveltal. Finally, I finished the Winter League Cup season with a win with Gyarados/Shaymin-EX/Lucky Helmet.
After all this, I am sitting at 297 points, good for the top 25 in North America before Anaheim results come in. I’m hoping to attend St. Louis, Roanoke, Toronto, and Madison Regionals this spring, so I will be looking to keep myself on track for an invite, and potentially even the top 16!
Sun & Moon Impact Cards
Now that Sun & Moon has been out for a few weeks, I have been able to get in a bunch of games with the cards in both formats. Though there are certainly differences in which cards will be more useful in one format versus the other, many cards are objectively strong or weak regardless of the metagame in which they are played in. Sun & Moon brought us a lot of new and interesting cards that seep with potential — but potential does not always translate to impact and winning games. I’d like to offer my thoughts on some of the most hyped and controversial cards from the set.
- Deciduyeye-GX — Probably the most hyped card from the set has all but flopped in the Golden State. And I am not surprised. Though John Kettler, one of the game’s greats, was able to take his Decidueye/Vileplume deck through a tough field, the absence of any other Decidueye is quite telling. The card is slow. Real slow. Even with Forest of Giant Plants, it is difficult to get multiple Decidueye early enough for Feather Arrow to make a large impact throughout the game. In Standard, its partners are limited and quite weak. Volcanion and Flareon in Eeveelution decks get easy KOs on Decidueye, while decks like Yveltal and Mega Mewtwo pack Garbodor to render your Ability useless. In Expanded, the hyped deck revolving around Decidueye is Seismitoad/Decidueye. We will talk about that more later, but spoilers: I do not think it is better than Seismitoad/Crobat.
- Tauros-GX — The second most hyped Pokémon-GX from Sun & Moon, Tauros can fit in a variety of decks. Mad Bull is an extremely strong attack and all but guarantees at least one 1HKO throughout a game. I have been trying Tauros in a lot of decks, including, but not limited to: Yveltal/Garbodor, Vileplume Toolbox, and even a Quad Tauros deck! While the card is perhaps not quite as strong as some speculated, I do think Tauros is finding its place in the format and will continue to be a card you will need to account for as you build your decks.
- Umbreon-GX — The final hyped Pokémon-GX. Umbreon did not have much of a showing in Anaheim either, and I think for good reason. The card is very balanced, while the rest of the metagame is anything but that. Yveltal-EX is broken. Mega Mewtwo is broken. Darkrai-EX is broken. Etc. When these cards rotate, Umbreon will become one of the best attackers in the game. Until then, I think it will see only fringe play.
- Oranguru — Players have disagreed a lot on this card thus far: some say it is the best card in the set while others claim it is terrible. I am somewhere in the middle, but am leaning toward it not being all that great. I think its best use is actually in the Expanded format in decks that carry the Maxie/Archie package. Based on some anecdotal feedback from Anaheim, it sounds like Oranguru was fairly well represented and performed well, so I could be wrong on this. Perhaps the most important quality of Oranguru is it makes your opponent play differently. No longer can an opponent hope to Delinquent you to 0 or N you to 1 and pray you don’t draw out of it. Oranguru represents at least three fresh cards, which in the late game is often enough to “get” you there.
- Professor Kukui — While I initially considered this a 1-of in almost every deck, like others did, I have increasingly felt underwhelmed by the new professor. Drawing 2 cards is fine and +20 damage is fine, but most of the time I play this dude, I want something more impactful. There are times where the effect is the only thing that will fit into my strategy, and some decks benefit from it more than others: Umbreon-GX, for example, is able to use one Kukui over the course of two turns to turn 180 damage into 200 (or 210/220 with a Reverse Valley in play). This is the type of deck where Kukui is the greatest: one where you do not need it on a very specific turn for a 1HKO but can instead utilize it latitudinally to shore up 2HKOs. It is too unreliable to need it for 1HKOs all the time.
- Lillie — Lillie is a super interesting Supporter card. While it is simply a beefed up Biana — a card I hated — its extra effect gives it more merit than a lot of players may realize. In Standard, you can make a case for a Supporter line looking like 3 Sycamore, 3 N, 3 Lillie in order to maximize a turn 1 Lillie while also keeping enough Supporters for the rest of the game. Lillie is also great to draw off an N to a low number, especially when you also draw other valuable resources that you would not want to Sycamore away. In Expanded, we increase access to Lillie with Jirachi-EX and Battle Compressor, potentially making the card even more viable (or at least as a 1-of). Though I am not completely sold on the card yet, I do think it’s worth exploring.
The State of Expanded
Let’s jump into the meat of this article. With no Expanded Regionals happening since San Jose in December, St. Louis is sure to be a wide-open event. Before we run down the viable decks you’ll see in St. Louis, let’s analyze some of the data we have from San Jose and Expanded League Cups (data credited to The Charizard Lounge):
- Yveltal and Darkrai-EX decks continue to be some of the most popular and successful decks in the format with the addition of Dark Patch and the Maxie engine.
- Seismitoad, paired almost exclusively with Crobat now, is still a force to be reckoned with.
- Trevenant is still one of the top five most successful decks, but has been falling out of favor. The release of Giratina XY184 only accelerated this decline.
- Greninja is facing the same fate as Trevenant, perhaps even more so.
- Carbink BREAK/Zygarde-EX was a huge hit in San Jose, but is the largest victim of collateral damage I have witnessed in my time playing the Pokémon TCG, as Giratina promo absolutely annihilates it.
I would like to walk through what I consider the top 10 viable decks in the format and discuss what each one gains or loses from the release of Sun & Moon, both in terms of actual cards as well as from how the metagame will shift. I will stop on some and provide decklists and more insight and look at some new Expanded contenders at the end.
Top 10 Viable Decks (in Expanded)
Before I jump in, I do want to preface many of my comments with two underlying assumptions. You may disagree with these, but understand that much of my narrative is based on these beliefs about the metagame, and therefore if you do not share them, you will almost certainly come to different conclusions:
- I believe Yveltal/Maxie will be the most popular deck, by a significant margin (think 20% of the field).
- I believe Seismitoad decks will be the second most popular deck choice and will be played with Decidueye-GX, Crobat, and otherwise.
As said above, Yveltal continues to be the dominant deck in Expanded. With Dark Patch and the Maxie package, the deck is incredibly versatile and adaptable in different matchups. I think Sun & Moon makes Yveltal even stronger than it already was. For the first time in a few sets, Yveltal actually gains a useful card to include: Oranguru. The whole way the Yveltal/Maxie deck plays just begs to abuse a card like this. You are constantly putting your hand down to low numbers to establish a Maxie and you have Gallade’s Premonition to reorder the top cards of your deck. You also prevent the dreaded N to 1 or Delinquent to 0 by playing this card.
It will require some small changes to the list to maximize these effects, but it will be worth it. The big change is that we almost certainly should drop Silent Lab. San Jose winner Mark Garcia did not even play this card, so it seems like a fine drop. Reverse Valley is a very strong Stadium as well to run alongside the standard two copies of Parallel City. Here is my current list:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
Energy – 11
The Supporters could be a bit different. We could go -1 N -1 Colress and play two of a number of other 1-of Supporters, such as Ghetsis, Professor Kukui, Pokémon Center Lady, or Olympia. I like the consistency of those two cards, but will be messing around with Professor Kukui in particular. I like the double Maxie, double Gallade lists that saw a lot of success in San Jose. Coupled with three Battle Compressor and max Trainers’ Mail, this list consistently gets an early Maxie off. Sableye is another potential drop, but has shown itself useful in ensuring getting Archeops up. It is also insurance against the potential rise of Sableye/Garbodor decks.
Now, Yveltal gets stronger for another important reason besides just Oranguru. The Pokémon in Sun & Moon can be quite powerful, even in the broken Expanded format. Cards like Lurantis-GX and Umbreon-GX might find a good home in some decks, as they are bulky Pokémon that can take hits and deal with a lot of the threats in the Expanded metagame. Decidueye-GX is being incredibly hyped with Seismitoad-EX. However, Archeops laughs at these Evolutions. Archeops becomes so much stronger when the strongest Pokémon are Evolution cards. With people wanting to try new things and use their new cards, Archeops will quite literally give you free wins.
That said about Archeops, I would also like to present you with the “other” way to play Yveltal. This is talked about much less in articles, because it is not popular. However, one of the top players in the game, Frank Diaz, swears by it. He explained to me and some other players recently that he does not understand why you would dedicate so many spots to something like the Maxie engine when you can just play better cards that let you hit harder and faster. I won’t pass judgement either way, but results on either side of the spectrum speak for themselves, and I think as readers you should decide. Frank beat me in the Top 8 of a League Cup with something very close to this:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 38
Energy – 11
As Frank says, this list is designed to do one thing: “punch.” It has increased mobility with the second Darkrai-EX, Keldeo-EX, and Escape Rope, and additional damage output with the Laser + Bank package and a copy of Muscle Band. Four Yveltal-EX is reminiscent of some of the recent Standard Yveltal/Garbodor lists and this list plays max copies for a similar reason: you want a bunch of Yveltal-EX out as early as possible.
Another large consideration in both lists is Tauros-GX. While I think Tauros is a strong card in Standard, I am slightly less convinced in Expanded. Gallade deals with it very easily. With that as the only real Fighting threat, maybe Tauros does deserve a spot. It can take and dish out significant damage to Seismitoad-EX using Quaking Punch for a single Double Colorless, which is certainly a strong argument for it. From the first list, I would consider dropping Sableye or the 2nd Yveltal BKT for Tauros. From the second list, either the 2nd Darkrai, 4th Yveltal-EX, or 2nd Yveltal BKT.
Seismitoad-EX has been one of the most impactful cards since its release. It has been splashed into other decks (Yveltal, Metal), it has been built around Quaking Punch and disruption (Seismitoad/Slurpuff, Seismitoad/Crobat, Seismitoad/Giratina), and it has been built around Grenade Hammer (Waterbox). With the release of Sun & Moon, we see another chance for Seismitoad to adapt and reclaim its place as the top
dog frog in the format.
Though Japanese Seismitoad/Decidueye lists have been popping up on the internet for the past few months, myself and other dedicated Seismitoad/Crobat players have remained skeptical. Japan’s format is XY-on; very different from our BLW-on. They don’t even have access to Zubat PLS, so of course Decidueye is better! Let’s look at the pros and cons of each variant:
- Zubat PLS gives you more ways to Quaking Punch on the first turn, as it has free retreat
- The whole line has free retreat
- Swoop Across and Skill Dive are strong attacks in conjunction with the deck’s strategy, only require one C Energy, and can abuse an opponent’s Dimension Valley
- Can play W Energy for Grenade Hammer
- Can play Silent Lab or Virbank City Gym
- Super Scoop Up and AZ have more synergy
- Abilities can only be used once
- Perhaps weaker in mirror
- Once set up, Ability can be used every turn for however long Decidueye survives
- Gives you a GX attack to use, which recovers resources
- Playing G Energy lets you swing for a potential 1HKO in the mirror match
- Bulky Stage 2 that can take hits
- Clunkier in general — requires more spaces to set up (Forest of Giant Plants, Revitalizer, more Balls)
- No free retreat makes it more difficult to attack turn 1, requires Float Stone in the list
Perhaps I am a bit biased, but to me it seems the pros of the Bat line far outweigh the pros of the Decidueye line. Despite this, I have presented you all with many Seismitoad/Crobat lists and my current one is not far off those. Alex will give you a peek at an up-to-date Crobat list, so let me present you with a potential Decidueye list.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 33
Energy – 8
This build seeks to be extremely aggressive, maxing out on Seismitoad and playing three Float Stone to maximize your chances of getting Seismitoad in the Active on the first turn. Hypnotoxic Laser is still played as it is absolutely bonkers when paired with Quaking Punch: a heads/tails on Laser will often win games by itself. This list wants the extra damage from Laser by itself; as with Decidueye, you just want to pile on the damage as fast as possible. Going along with this theme, we split the Fighting Fury Belt/Muscle Band count in half to help our damage output. Lugia is still played to act as a deterrent to things like a big Yveltal or Mewtwo from running through our deck. It is also a good partner itself with Decidueye, as we have seen in the Standard format.
This list does not include the Battle Compressor/Revitalizer package that has been presented in the Japanese lists. While I think it is quite an effective engine for Vileplume decks, I am less convinced of its utility in a deck like this. This deck should set up fine without the need for such an aggressive engine and can instead buy itself time by using Quaking Punch. A 4th Forest, some Trainers’ Mail, and some more Pokémon search would all be nice additions to speed up the evolution process as well.
Ultimately, though, this deck suffers from not having enough space. Part of the reason the Bat line is so strong is that it requires very little beyond the 9–10 spaces devoted to the Pokémon. Zubat allows us to forego Float Stone and we get to play a disruptive Stadium in Silent Lab or an aggressive one in Virbank City. Decidueye takes 18 spots. Yes, 18! 12 from the Pokémon, 3 from Float Stone, and 3 from Forest. That is a lot of space dedicated to something that is not your main attacker. The lack of versatility in this deck as compared to Toad/Bats is evident as soon as you start playing it.
Perhaps the consistent damage will be enough, but in our versatile Expanded format, more options is usually better.
While gaining very little from Sun & Moon, Raikou/Eels has been thrust into a top tier deck purely based on how the metagame has shifted. With Yveltal and Seismitoad looking to be the most popular decks in the tournament, this deck could shine.
- Seismitoad decks have trouble doing enough damage over the course of a game to take 6 Prizes; barring Quaking Punch shenanigans, Raikou comes out on top every time.
- While the Yveltal matchup is not quite as good, it should still be favorable for the yellow deck. Gallade and Archeops can prove annoying, but cards like Evosoda and Mewtwo-EX help mitigate these issues. Darkrai-EX ends up being their best attacker, which is usually dealt with by a Raikou 2HKOing it. It is impossible for a Darkrai to 1HKO a Raikou, so we take that trade just fine.
- Turbo Darkrai and Darkrai/Dragons prove to be much more difficult matchups for the Eels deck, but they are still winnable.
- Greninja becoming much weaker is a huge plus for this deck. Night March can be dealt with if you include Seismitoad + Karen and Accelgor becomes an auto-win with a single Pokémon Center Lady.
You won’t be able to fit a tech in for everything, but if you can choose your weak matchup wisely, this deck can pull through. I worry a bit about the consistency and clunkiness of the deck, but in best-of-three, you should be able to put together two cohesive games. I will reference my buddy Sam Chen’s list from Philadelphia as an excellent starting place, but I think Alex will give you a look at a list next week as well.
Cousin to Yveltal and fellow Dark Lord, Darkrai-EX has been gaining more and more popularity in the Expanded format over the past months. There are two ways to play this deck: straight Dark (commonly referred to as Turbo Dark) and with Dragon Pokémon (Darkrai/Dragons). Though similar, both have their merits over the other:
- Turbo Dark is arguably more consistent, as it will rarely miss a Max Elixir with a dozen D Energy in the deck. It is more streamlined and can play more tech cards to swing some matchups, such as Escape Ropes, Keldeo-EX, and Enhanced Hammers.
- The Dragon variant sacrifices a small fraction of consistency to play four of an Energy card that gives +40 damage, which is a significant difference, and have some varying attacking options. Previously, Giratina-EX was the sole Dragon played, but now Salamence-EX provides some much needed versatility to this deck. Giratina allows for potential auto-wins against any Mega decks that may pop up in Expanded and Salamence keeps any deck in check from going crazy with their Pokémon-EX.
Unfortunately, I do not think either of these decks gain much from the new set. If Hoopa-EX was not in format, I would say Nest Ball would be an awesome inclusion, but it is outclassed. Professor Kukui might find its way into some lists as a means to “get there” when looking for a 1HKO, but it seems playing another Supporter like Professor Juniper or Colress will almost always be better, as you have so many other outs for additional damage with four copies of Max Elixir and Dark Patch.
In terms of the metagame, if Yveltal sees more play, I think Darkrai decks become weaker. Unlike the Standard format where Darkrai has a slight advantage over Yveltal, Gallade makes the matchup very difficult for the Darkrai player in Expanded. In San Jose, some notable players like Sam Hough ran Mew FCO to help with this, but I worry that it is not enough to truly swing the matchup in Darkrai’s favor. I would definitely include a copy in my list, but I cannot see myself playing Darkrai in a tournament where I know Yveltal/Maxie will be more popular than ever.
Oh man, this deck was fun to play in Philadelphia! My list was -1 Mystery Energy -1 Tool Scrapper, +1 Level Ball +1 Shaymin-EX from the list I posted in my last article. The extra consistency was crucial throughout the day. While Accelgor gains very little from Sun & Moon, its place in the metagame remains relatively unchanged. Though I performed well in Philadelphia, I was the only person piloting the deck on Day 2. Similarly, in San Jose, a single Accelgor deck made it through to the second day, where it failed to make the Top 8. This puts Accelgor in its often under-the-radar situation.
Cards that help against Accelgor are generally one-dimensional: Pokémon Center Lady and Switch/Escape Rope being the most commonly played hard counters. These cards have some uses outside of the Accelgor matchup, but they will not have nearly the impact anywhere else. This presents players with a difficult decision: do I tech for Accelgor or something else? More often than not, they will tech for something else.
(Note: I do not count AZ as a significant counter to Accelgor, as it simply allows them to attack into Wobbuffet and waste their Energy.)
From my Philadelphia list, I have been trying -1 Colress +1 Professor Kukui. I’m not sure if this is the correct cut; the 2nd Shaymin-EX may be better or perhaps something else. Professor Kukui finds a rather unique niche in a deck like this. Damage manipulation is the key to success with Accelgor. If you can KO your opponent’s Pokémon coming back into your turn, you have given yourself an immense advantage. Kukui helps with the math significantly while also digging through your deck for the extra pieces of the Accelgor line you need. There are many instances where you do not want to Juniper your hand away with this deck and I have often wanted a card like Cheren to simply draw some cards. Kukui gives us this option.
Shiinotic is another card from Sun & Moon that could be considered to help stream Accelgors. However, I think Musharna is still the better option.
Chances vs. Yveltal and Toad
The natural inclusion of Wobbuffet gives this deck its counter to Archeops, while other Evolution decks must jam in subpar cards to counter the fossil. This positions Accelgor well in the matchup, as they do not typically play cards to help them against paralysis. I tried a Pokémon Center Lady in Yveltal over the month of January and still did not feel confident in the matchup, as you still hit into the Wobbuffet. Keldeo-EX is much more threatening to Accelgor, as you can Lysandre to KO a Shelmet/Accelgor while getting out of paralysis. Seismitoad decks can go either way for Accelgor, but if you can break the lock once or twice, it tends to go in Accelgor’s favor. This should have a stronger Decidueye matchup than Bats, as Decidueye lists are less likely to run Super Scoop Ups, which play a huge part in determining the outcome.
This is still one of my top choices for St. Louis, but I would not recommend it if you have not played a bunch with Accelgor. The math can be daunting to think about!
While Vespiquen is still an option to run with Vileplume, it seems almost everyone has shied away from the deck. The presence of Karen in the format is a bit too much to handle for this deck, as it cannot recover in the same way that Night March can. Thus, let’s talk about Vileplume Toolbox. I brought you a list last time I wrote and I still think the deck is quite viable. It boasts solid matchups across the board … if it can set up a Vileplume and the right attacker quickly enough.
Sun & Moon brings Vileplume a huge card in Tauros-GX. Being able to attack early for just a DCE, as well as Ninja Boy into Rage or Mad Bull at any point in a game, may be the missing piece this deck was looking for. I have not tested the deck enough yet, but it is something I would highly consider as you prepare for St. Louis.
My current list is the same as the one from my last article, -1 Trevenant-EX +1 Tauros-GX. You could even make the argument for two copies of Tauros — I think it is that good in this deck. With Trevenant on the decline, I think the metagame is favorable for this deck to succeed.
7. Night March
Reference List: Brandon Cantu, “It’s Always Sunflora-y”
Night March is in an interesting place right now. It has a hard counter in the format in Karen + Quaking Punch, but most decks will not play it. Its two worst matchups, Trevenant and Seismitoad-EX, are going in opposite directions in popularity. Another relatively poor matchup in Greninja is all but gone. One of its better matchups, Yveltal-EX, is poised to be stronger than ever. Another good matchup in Raikou/Eels looks to get stronger in the meta shift. Overall, this seems like a net positive for Night March.
The deck does not gain much, if anything, from Sun & Moon. One could make an argument for Tauros-GX or Professor Kukui, but I doubt either will end up making anyone’s final lists. Night March lists have become fine-tuned in the past year and I see no compelling reason to change much of what has been working. Alex will look at Night March some more in his article, so I’ll leave that to him, but I would not be surprised to see this deck take some of the top spots in St. Louis.
Reference List: Aaron Tarbell, “Trainer’s Field Guide to Kalosian Trees”
As mentioned above, Trevenant has been on the decline ever since Phoenix and Philadelphia. Dark continues to be popular and players just don’t enjoy playing the deck. We have not had a major Expanded tournament with Giratina promo legal just yet, but if players opt to play it, it will chop off a few more branches from our tree friend. While I do not think playing a Giratina comes anywhere close to securing a win against Trevenant, much like Karen by itself does not secure a win against Night March, the presence of Giratina may further scare off potential Trevenant players.
Sun & Moon does not really add anything to Trevenant’s arsenal either. One could make an argument for Team Skull Grunt, but I think you would also need to include a line of Gumshoos-GX for that to be truly beneficial. Professor Kukui is extremely weak in the deck. The presence of Tauros-GX is bad for Trevenant, as Tauros can hit hard into a Trevenant for a single DCE. As Trevenant Silent Fears and Tree Slams, Tauros gets more powerful and it will take down at least one, if not two, Trevenants.
With its decline in popularity already evident and no redeeming reasons to switch to it, Trevenant is not set up for much success in St. Louis. One reason to play it is the potential for a huge amount of Seismitoad. Though, if players opt to go for Decidueye, Decidueye has some more outs to Trevenant than the Crobat lists do: it plays Forest, allowing it to quickly evolve and avoid disruption, it has a lot of HP and will survive many hits from the low-damaging Trevenant, and it can get back valuable resources using its GX attack.
Alex will talk a bit more in depth about Trevenant in his article next week.
9/10. Rainbow Road and Mega Rayquaza
I’m going to lump these decks together at 9/10, as I feel they have such a similar game plan. Both attempt to leverage Energy acceleration and the Hoopa + Shaymin + Sky Field engine to power through their deck and be extremely aggressive from the first turns of the game. I have never been very fond of either of these decks, especially in Expanded. Their strategy is extremely linear and therefore easy to plan for. Any type of disruption hits them hard and it is often difficult to recover from multiple layers of it: Garbodor + Parallel City is common in Standard, but in Expanded there are many more options. Enhanced Hammer + Silent Lab + Quaking Punch, Red Card + Team Flare Grunt + Forest’s Curse, Lysandre + Parallel City + Fright Night, Parallel City + Chaos Wheel, etc. …
Neither of these decks gain anything significant from Sun & Moon. Tauros-GX could be played in either, as could Oranguru. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Oranguru make its way into Rayquaza lists especially, but Rainbow Road has Shaymin to account for Colorless Pokémon already. Both decks have strong matchups against Dark decks, so that is a positive for them. However, they lose to a lot of other things. People will inevitably play these decks, so you need to prepare for them.
Greninja is dead. While Trevenant may be able to survive Giratina promo, Greninja must survive that along with a highly unfavorable metagame coming its way. Archeops is more powerful than ever and even Greninja lists running Hex Maniac, Wally, and Evosoda struggle against the fossil bird. Seismitoad/Decidueye as a deck should walk all over Greninja. Seismitoad/Crobat already boasted an even matchup against the frog, but Decidueye gives you a chance to shift strategies midgame and go for 1HKOs if the Greninja player does set up. Accelgor is a terrible matchup for Greninja and it doesn’t want to see any of the other new Grass Pokémon that might be played. Raikou/Eels gaining traction is the only positive for Greninja. I would not expect many Greninja players in St. Louis.
I also think this deck is dead. Giratina promo in any meta deck turns Carbink BREAK into a useless card and regular Carbink is too weak to stand up to any non-EX like Yveltal BKT or Crobat. Perhaps no one will play Giratina and you can steal some wins, but this seems like a high-risk, high-reward play at best.
Vespiquen gains some traction with Seismitoad gaining hype, but ultimately it still seems like a weaker Night March that must find artificial ways to deal with Archeops. Playing R Energy allows you to use Energy Evolution Eevee, but that won’t get your Vespiquens out and it shoehorns you into needing two attachments to attack with Flareon. It does gain Umbreon-GX and Espeon-GX if it wants to include them, but I doubt this deck will want to fit in other basic Energy to accommodate for these new Pokémon. It is better off focusing on Revenge attacks and doing what it does best.
There are the Bee-lievers still out there, but I can’t count myself among them in the Expanded format.
I do not have much to say about Sableye. I have only played the deck a handful of times and do not think it is all that great. I think it has some big problems with Seismitoad-based decks, as it runs so many Items itself, and can have trouble with Yveltal if they can get a few Energy on an initial Yveltal-EX before you can consistently connect on Energy removal. That said, Team Skull Grunt seems like an excellent addition to the deck, as it further regulates the opponent’s options. I do worry that a deck like Sableye will not be able to afford to play such a card unless the effect is guaranteed, as every turn before you establish the lock feels like life or death.
Skull Grunt without Gumshoos seems very risky, and for that reason it may not find its way into top lists. Tsareena is another card that could be paired with Sableye instead of Garbodor, but I too think this will prove too weak of a concept.
While Expanded is known for its stagnancy, this set has potential to breathe some life into the format. Though it is still very up in the air how big of an impact these decks will play, I think the following are worth considering as you prepare for St. Louis.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
This decks aims to leverage Lurantis’s excellent typing and versatile attacking options with a host of strong Basic Pokémon. Flower Supply is reminiscent of Mega Manectric’s attack, but I would argue it is much better: it costs a single Energy, can attach to two different Pokémon, and can attach to itself, all at the cost of 70 less damage. Mega Manectric decks have opted to run Grass Pokémon like Genesect-EX in the past, so Lurantis as a Grass-type already seems to be quite strong.
As a toolbox deck, this list is constantly changing. You can see by the amount of 1-of’s in the list I am trying many different things, some of which I am less sure of than others. Let’s briefly run down what I have here and why:
- Genesect-EX — The best Basic Grass attacker in the game. Megalo Cannon can help set up 2HKO or 1HKOs from Lurantis and can 2HKO most things itself. The threat of G Booster gives you a second potential 1HKO attack in addition to Chloroscythe. With a couple of Plasma Energy in the list, Red Signal becomes live. Not having to use your Supporter for then turn to choose the opponent’s Active is an extremely powerful effect. Just getting this off once in a game can be enough to swing it in your favor: think of how many times you have wanted to Lysandre and N in the same turn. This allows you to that, or something else. 2 Genesect-EX and a 3rd Plasma Energy might actually be correct in this deck.
- Virizion-EX — The other side of V/G is played in here just to counter Special Conditions. Accelgor is the main culprit, but any deck with Hypnotoxic Laser in it can be annoying.
- Seismitoad-EX — While just a good card in general, the Toad’s main role in this deck is one half of the Quaking Punch + Karen combo used to stop Night March. Without Toad and Karen, this deck will fail to ever beat a Night March deck. Even with the inclusion, since we do not run DCE, the matchup is far from positive. But having this in the deck gives us a fighting chance and puts the matchup not worse than 40/60.
- Mewtwo-EX — Mewtwo’s main role here, and across most of the format, is to regulate Gallade. Gallade is an extremely efficient and deadly attacker against a deck like this, as we seek to play the 2HKO game, gaining advantage by leveraging healing and different attackers across a long game.
- Dedenne — Dedenne regulates Yveltal-EX and punishes any player that goes too big on a single Y-bird. By doing any damage from Flower Supply, you set up potential KOs from Dedenne on an Yveltal with as little as three Energy. Dedenne also provides a non-EX attacker to be used in any matchup, allowing you to play a 7-Prize game. Jirachi could also be considered in this spot.
The Supporters are a little all over the place, but with Jirachi-EX and Battle Compressor, they are all accessible throughout the game. Hex Maniac is needed versus Archeops, PCL helps healing, AZ is a must-include in almost every Expanded deck to pick up unwanted Pokémon-EX later in the game, a single Lysandre is perfectly fine with Red Signal in the deck, Karen is for Night March, and Kukui lets us hit numbers otherwise awkward for Lurantis to hit. Lillie is somewhat of an experiment, as it is included over the 4th Professor Juniper right now. With so much Supporter search, it seems good to have more options. It might just be worse than the 4th Juniper, but I’m going to keep trying it for now in decks that run Jirachi-EX and multiple Battle Compressor.
Tools are another big reason Lurantis boasts more playability in Expanded. Silver Bangle can be attached to Pokémon-GX, making Lurantis’s numbers much, much better. 70 from Flower Supply + 150 from Solar Blade will 2HKO every Belted Pokémon-EX in the format. A copy of Muscle Band is included as it can be used on the various Pokémon-EX attackers in the deck and is almost as good as Silver Bangle on Lurantis. Flipping the counts of these cards might even be ideal, or going all three Silver Bangle could even prove to be the correct play. More testing needs to be done in order to determine these counts.
Lurantis barely showed its wings in Anaheim, but I think its positioned for much more success in the Expanded format. The metagame here contains no Fire foe like Volcanion, as Seismitoad keeps them in check. Lurantis boasts huge type advantage against the frog. Coupled with healing, the matchup should be very free. Trevenant is an easy matchup as you recycle your Energy and heal on a 210-HP beast.
Yveltal and Raikou/Eels will prove to be more difficult. Yveltal’s Archeops can stall you, but we have some answers: Forest of Giant Plants will let us evolve immediately if we can go first or if they miss Archeops on the first turn, while Hex Maniac gives us a turn to evolve our Fomantis if they do get Archeops on board. One turn should be all we need, as the deck normally seeks to just get out two Lurantis over the course of a game. Indeed, the plethora of Basic attackers can prove enough to contend with Yveltal until you can combo Hex Maniac and a couple of evolutions. Assuming you can get your Lurantis in play, the matchup will be 2HKOing back and forth. With PCL, Max Potion, and Solar Blade at your disposal, you should be able to turn some of those 2HKOs into 3HKOs, which will give you the advantage in the long run. Chloroscythe can be used in a pinch if an Yveltal gets too big, as can Dedenne or even Mewtwo-EX.
I am excited about the potential Lurantis has in Expanded, and I think other players are as well. There are multiple ways to play the card and I would expect to play against at least one Lurantis-based deck in St. Louis. Lurantis’s presence could pave the way for a potential Fire deck to do well in Expanded, despite Seismitoad’s presence. Perhaps Vespiquen/Flareon could be a strong play after all …
While not a new deck from Sun & Moon, Mega Mewtwo has gone relatively unplayed in the Expanded format. I actually think it has quite a bit of potential here. Nathian Beck played a Mega Mewtwo/Landorus-EX/Garbodor deck in Philadelphia Regionals to a Day 2 finish and I was very scared of it. He said Trevenant was his worst matchup, but otherwise felt confident against most of the field. With Trevenant dying down, Mewtwo might be in a position to combat the rest of the format. While I don’t particularly like Landorus-EX in the deck, I have concocted something else, based on his original list and some of the ideas from Mega Mewtwo in the Standard format:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 36
Energy – 9
This deck plays a bit differently than Mega Mewtwo in Standard. To start off the game, you usually try to go into a Seismitoad-EX and use Quaking Punch while you are setting up some Mewtwos to sweep the game with. The combination of Seismitoad, Garbodor, and Parallel City (usually two of the three and not all three at once) provide some solid disruption against a lot of decks. Having access to X Ball Mewtwo is a huge positive, as you can attack for a lot of damage even if you whiff the Spirit Link or Mega Evolution. It also allows you to attack for Weakness on things like Gallade or opposing Mewtwo-EX. Once you get a Mega Mewtwo or two going, Fairy Drop and Pokémon Center Lady will keep it alive longer than usual. Not many things can 1HKO a Mega Mewtwo, so you should be able to score more than one KO with each Mega you set up. Fairy Garden and Escape Rope give you some mobility. The deck feels a bit clunky, but can often overcome this with its sheer power.
This boasts strong matchups against what I consider the top three decks: Yveltal, Seismitoad, and Raikou/Eels. Yveltal has a difficult time keeping up with the ×30 for each Energy that Mewtwo provides and under a Garbodor lock will often fail to hit a revenge KO with Evil Ball. Seismitoad struggles to deal with the sheer damage output and HP of Mega Mewtwo. Raikou/Eels struggles against Garbodor and a single Mega Mewtwo can run through two or three Raikou when accounting for healing.
Though I am not currently considering this as one of my top three choices, it is in my top five for the event. It lacks a bit of the consistency I want in a Regionals deck, but I would consider (and have considered it) for League Cups.
I hope this gives you a good look into what to expect for the Expanded format in the coming weeks. Though not a whole lot has changed, the players that do well will inevitably be the ones that have considered all the potential changes to the format and adapt accordingly. Sun & Moon is an exciting set and I believe the player base has only scratched the surface of its potential. Combos like Solgaleo/Bronzong exist in Expanded now, and while I do not think the deck is viable, someone could prove me wrong with an innovative build and successful performance. I look forward to seeing everyone at events this spring. Until next time!
-Mike “Magnechu” Fouchet
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