The 2016–2017 season of Pokémon has been incredible. I’ve played in more tournaments than ever and have made tons of memories with great friends, new and old. However, it has also been exhausting. Traveling to a Regional every 3–4 weeks takes a toll on your body and mind. I’ve had to really dedicate myself to my testing efforts this year. There’s a lot to research and try out as the format changes between Standard and Expanded and new cards are constantly released.
Speaking of which, it seems like the new Sun & Moon cards will actually impact Expanded far more than Standard. In Anaheim, Tauros-GX and Oranguru were basically the only Sun & Moon cards that saw widespread play. At least one of them seemed to be splashed into nearly every deck from Yveltal to Vespiquen to Waterbox. Espeon-GX ended up being the most surprising new card. Several top players such as Travis Nunlist and Sam Chen included it in their Mewtwo decks as a tech for the mirror match. Espeon also gives the deck some much needed versatility with the GX attack and option to confuse a troublesome attacker. Other cards like Decidueye-GX and Lurantis-GX were hyped but failed to make much of an impact.
In Expanded, decks like Seismitoad/Decidueye and straight Lurantis seem to be catching some interest among players. These new Sun & Moon cards have a better place in the metagame for Expanded. The format is actually a bit slower than Standard and focuses more on control than high damage output. This should open the door for some interesting decks with high-HP Pokémon-GX to shine.
To help you prepare for St. Louis, I want to spend this article rehashing the major decks in Expanded and talking about the changes that Sun & Moon could bring to them. There have only been three Expanded Regionals this year, and many players (myself included) haven’t played the format since Philadelphia in November. There are a ton of decks in the format and Sun & Moon only adds more to that number. Let’s get started!
I originally planned to include a short write-up of the Expanded format and my thoughts on its development but Mike Fouchet’s summary from earlier in the week accurately represents my view. The metagame seems to be shifting away from BREAK Pokémon, even without the addition of Giratina. The only thing that I want to add is that I think Pokémon-GX could actually have a strong impact on Expanded in the next few months. Few things in the format can reliably take down multiple Pokémon with 240 HP in a game, and they will instead have to prey on non-evolved forms or Shaymin-EX to satisfy the 6-Prize requirement to win.
Until we find out how much of an impact these new Pokémon will have on the format, it’s best to consider and test against the major decks from the last few months of BLW–EVO. After St. Louis, it will be imperative to reevaluate and see if decks with low damage output like Trevenant, Seismitoad, and Raikou are still as strong as they once were.
The Likely Competition
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
Energy – 11
Yveltal/Maxie’s is a deck that has seen a surprising amount of innovation in the last year and a half of the Expanded format. This is not due to new cards being released, but players dipping into the vast card pool of the BLW-on format to react to metagame shifts.
Starting with the San Jose Regionals, Sableye DEX has started to see a resurgence in these Dark decks and I really dig the inclusion. It helps you set up and often guarantee a mid-game Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick. Or, it can grab 2 Dark Patch and help you power up a 2nd Darkrai-EX DEX or a big Yveltal-EX. It really adds a lot of versatility to the deck.
AZ is another recent addition that saw play in San Jose. Many of the Pokémon in this deck have 2 retreat so they’re fairly hard to move out of the Active spot. Darkrai-EX can give you some maneuverability with Dark Cloak but sometimes you need to devote your Energy attachment elsewhere. I like AZ better than another Float Stone for two reasons: 1) it can be used to remove a Yveltal BKT from the Active spot even when Fright Night is online, and 2) it’s searchable with Battle Compressor.
Silent Lab has been falling out of favor in Yveltal/Maxie’s but I’ve always thought it was amazing in this deck. You don’t have a lot of damage output, especially in the early game, so any options to slow your opponent down are great. Many decks in Expanded play low amounts of draw Supporters so they rely on Shaymin and Jirachi to set up. A high count of Silent Lab will steal at least a game or two over a 9+ round Regional Championship.
Tauros-GX is a new inclusion that I like for Mega Manectric and Seismitoad. Mega Manectric can only do 110 so a Mad Bull will always be able to OHKO them after they attack into you. Many Manectric decks are teching Mewtwo to OHKO Gallade after you use it to OHKO their Manectric, meaning that Gallade will only usually take 2 Prizes. From here, you can use a Yveltal to KO their Mewtwo but you’ll get OHKO’d by a Manectric for your trouble. To take your last two Prizes, you might be able to attack with a Darkrai or take a 2HKO with Yveltal. Instead, I like to continue the OHKO war whenever I can but it’s pretty hard to get another Gallade out in the middle of the game. That’s where Tauros comes in. An N to 2 or 3 and a Horn Attack forces the Manectric player to either attack into your Tauros and lose, pass and continue to take 60 a turn (until they lose), or find a Lysandre to take other Prizes that you have on your Bench. If you manage your Bench space correctly, Tauros is the equivalent of a checkmate. You can even get some damage on it early in the game and use the Gallade as a finisher. It just gives you more options.
Against Seismitoad, I’ve found Tauros to be invaluable as one of the few attackers that work for 1 Energy attachment. If they’re constantly discarding the Energy cards off of your attacker, you’ll never be able to take out a Seismitoad. Instead, Tauros can tank a few hits and use Mad Bull for an OHKO with a single DCE drop when you’re ready to attack. The combination of Horn Attack and Rage can even take out a 2nd Seismitoad if your opponent can’t take care of your Tauros in time. Be sure to test out Tauros in your Yveltal deck.
Bottom Line: Yveltal has been and will continue to be the most played deck in any Expanded tournament this year. It’s never a bad play as it has answers to basically every deck in the format. Be sure to prepare for it and expect to play against it 2–3 times in St. Louis.
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