The Land Beyond

Dark for Toronto, Alolan Ninetales and Garbodor for Seattle

Hello Underground readers! VA Regionals took place last weekend, and Lapras-GX finally took home a win in what seems to be a pretty stale format at this point in time. PRC–SUM did shake things up quite a bit, but mostly due to the presence of the new Decidueye/Vileplume archetype. This deck definitely takes a high amount of skill to pilot well; however, the presence of Vileplume severely limits many of today’s otherwise-viable decks.

This upcoming weekend, we have Toronto Regionals to look forward to. It’s the first and only Regional in Canada, and the last Expanded tournament of the season. Recently, there was an announcement that the Expanded format is being monitored by TPCi and the possibiliy of cards getting banned to achieve a healthy metagame is real. I myself am no expert on Expanded, so I’m mainly going to focus on looking ahead toward Seattle Regionals, but will first look at Toronto.

Maple Leaf Storm: Toronto

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Seemingly always a safe play.

If I were going to Toronto, I think the best and safect choices for an inexperienced Expanded player such as myself to consider would be either Volcanion-EX or Turbo Dark. Both options are very solid and don’t have any clear weaknesses or auto-losses that I can come up with. The presence of Gallade PRC in a variety of decks could possibly hinder Turbo Dark a little bit, but other than that, there aren’t any other viable Fighting types besides Primal Groudon (which 1-shots you no matter what).

Sam Hough’s list from Portland Regionals seems like an extremely safe play for the event, and here is that list for reference:

Pokémon – 10

2 Darkrai-EX BKP

2 Darkrai-EX DEX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Yveltal-EX

1 Yveltal STS

1 Jirachi-EX

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

Trainers – 38

3 Professor Juniper

2 N

1 AZ

1 Delinquent

1 Ghetsis

1 Hex Maniac

1 Lysandre

 

4 Dark Patch

4 Max Elixir

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Fighting Fury Belt

2 Trainers’ Mail

1 Battle Compressor

1 Escape Rope

1 Startling Megaphone

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Parallel City

2 Silent Lab

Energy – 12

12 D

The one things that struck me as very odd when I tried out his list was the single Battle Compressor. The only thing I would change going into the event would definitely be including a second Compressor over the second Silent Lab. The single Silent Lab will hardly ever stick, and Parallel City seems to me a much better deterrent to Mega Ray’s explosiveness than a soft Silent Lab lock could ever be.

I would play this deck over Volcanion-EX simply because it needs less ‘pieces’ to get going. Getting enough energy + many Volcanion-EX in play and the Keldeo-EX with a Float Stone seems less streamlined than simply getting Energy into play through Max Elixir, Dark Patch, and your regular Energy drops.


I will definitely be keeping up and trying out more Expanded, as I want to attend more Regionals next season, but I will be attending Seattle Regionals. This will be the first major tournament where Guardians Rising and all the new and exciting cards are allowed.

Sights on Standard: Guardians for Seattle

Garbodor

With the cards now available on PTCGO, I’ve been readily trying out the new GXs and other strong cards. Initially, the new Garbodor seems like the new card to beat. A non-ex Stage 1 with the potential to 1HKO any Pokémon in the game is nothing to scoff at. When paired with good early game attackers like as Drampa-GX or Tauros-GX, you get a high tempo deck that maintains pressure during every stage of a game.

I’m fairly certain this deck will not only be a Tier 1 deck immediately, but it might even alter the way we build decks (to reduce Garbodor’s potential damage output). This is the list I’m currently at:

Pokémon – 15

4 Trubbish GRI

3 Garbodor GRI

1 Garbodor BKP

1 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Tauros-GX

1 Oricorio GRI 56

3 Tapu Lele-GX

 

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Lysandre

2 Hex Maniac

1 Ninja Boy

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Float Stone

4 VS Seeker

3 Choice Band

2 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Super Rod

 

2 Parallel City

Energy – 12

4 Double Colorless

8 P

Ready to rain…garbage?

This list is quite similar to most that are floating around, but it seems to me like people have forgotten just how powerful Parallel City is against a lot of decks. Sure, Garbodor GRI is an incredibly hard-hitting card, but you rely on your opponent playing Items and advancing their game state. A Garbotoxin + Parallel City lock can effectively shut down decks like as M Rayquaza-EX or Volcanion-EX, along with denying Shaymin-EX and Tapu Lele-GX.

As the game goes longer, both Garbodor and Oricorio grow stronger, and both Tauros and Tapu Lele allow you to apply significant pressure with good, cost-effective attacks. We also can’t forget about the threat of Mad Bull-GX. Even if your opponent knows to play around it, they are pressured into finding the Lysandres or Escape Ropes, which is not always easy.

Alolan Ninetales

Garbodor is clearly going to be a top deck, but out of the new cards, Alolan Ninetales-GX is by far my favorite. Its raw power in terms of damage output makes it a great card as it has a lot of support with Choice Band, Professor Kukui, and Field Blower to hit key numbers like 170, 180 and 210. 220 is out of reach despite a Choice Band + Professor Kukui combo, but we do have a few options to reach up to 230 damage.

First off let’s start with the skeleton of the deck that I’ve been working with:

Pokémon – 11

4 Alolan Vulpix GRI

3 Alolan Ninetales-GX

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Remoraid BKT 32

1 Octillery BKT

Trainers – 30

3 Professor Sycamore

2 N

2 Lysandre

1 Brigette

1 Professor Kukui

 

4 Aqua Patch

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

3 Trainers’ Mail

2 Field Blower

2 Choice Band

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Escape Rope

Energy – 12

4 Double Colorless

8 W

 

That base has 53/60 cards total. It’s what I’ve found to be the cards I always want in my list, and the rest keep changing as I play more games with the deck. Currently I’ve identified a few problem matchups, where one might have a solution and another probably won’t, but it’s an acceptable loss to take going into a tournament.

The one card that should immediately stand out is Brigette. That card has seen almost no competitive play so far. However, now that basic GX’s don’t fall under its restriction, and we have these super powerful Stage 1 Pokémon-GX we want to set up, we should see it popping up in lists more often. In addition, you can also search for it with Tapu Lele on turn 1 off of an Ultra Ball, so it’s really a great card to have to develop your field.

The energy discard from Ninetales-GX’s main attack can be mitigated with Aqua Patches and discarding consecutive DCEs, so that’s a relative non issue. Aqua Patch not only serves to power up Benched Ninetales, but also to get consecutive KOs. There will be a few turns where using your GX attack to heal Ninetales completely is very viable, especially when combined with a Tapu Lele into Lysandre to guarantee you take a KO on something like a Shaymin-EX in the process.

With Aqua Patch not working on the Active Pokémon, we need to guarantee ways to either retreat the Active Ninentales into another powered up one, we can simply use Switching effects to do so. This is where it gets interesting.

Using heavy Switch/Float Stone or Manaphy-EX is the obvious go-to solution for this. However, there’s this very neat little card called Wishiwashi SUM — not the GX one — which can immediately come up to your hand no matter where it is.

If we combine Wishiwashi and Manaphy-EX, we can an infinite loop of reatreating into Wishwashi, powering up the Ninetales once again and then simply returning Wishwashi to the hand and promoting the same Ninetales ready to take a KO. This combo requires a few cards to set up, but once going it’s fairly simple to keep going and even if Wishiwashi gets targeted, it’s only 1 Prize card, and you can simply keep attacking through the use of DCE’s.

Pokémon that can 1HKO Ninetales, such as M Rayquaza, can be a real pain to deal with too. M Mewtwo can also cause issues if left unchecked, as it could potentially power itself up to get consecutive KOs, forcing you to have a combination of Choice Band and Kukui on the same turn. However, both of these matchups are easily handled by the inclusion of Faded Town. Faded Town gives you an extra out to KOing a clean M Mewtwo, and is the only way to reach 230 damage/KO a M Ray with Ninetales. Normally, Rough Seas would be preferred to combine with Ninetale’s raw power, as you’ll be getting rid of threats easily, but Faded Town is a good option to have up your sleeve if the metagame allows for Megas to make a comeback.

Other tech options for these matchups include Regice AOR and Glaceon-EX, both of which stop those decks from running over you. However, both certainly have real outs, such as Damage Change and Espeon-GX for Mewtwo, and Gumshoos-GX for Mega Ray.

Glaceon-EX, and a heavy count at that, could be considered as a way to deal with Garbodor and Sylveon-GX decks. Both of these will surely see play, with Sylveon arguably the second strongest deck out of Guardians Rising. You have answers to Sylveon with Ninetales-GX and the recovery Aqua Patch offers, but Garbodor is only effectively shut down by Glaceon-EX.

With Glaceon-EX in the deck, which is my current favorite version, an interesting dynamic arises where Lysandre is at a premium. Garbodor wants to 1HKO Ninetales before Ninetales can 1HKO the Tauros or Drampa, which want to be used to deal with Glaceon. This is what my Ninetales/Glaceon build currently looks like:

Pokémon – 14

4 Alolan Vulpix GRI

3 Alolan Ninetales-GX

2 Glaceon-EX

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Manaphy-EX

1 Remoraid BKT 32

1 Octillery BKT

Trainers – 34

3 Professor Sycamore

2 N

2 Lysandre

1 Brigette

2 Professor Kukui

 

4 Aqua Patch

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

3 Trainers’ Mail

2 Field Blower

2 Choice Band

2 Escape Rope

1 Rescue Stretcher

 

2 Rough Seas

Energy – 12

8 W

4 Double Colorless

This list features Double Glaceon-EX with double Professor Kukui for reliability. You never really want to hit into 210 – 220 Fighting Fury Belted basics, but since Choice Band is becoming quite popular, Kukui guarantees you don’t need Choice Band yourself to achieve those 1HKOs. Having 2 gives you better odds to draw it early on and have it in the discard ready for VS Seeker plays, but also makes it more likely that it won’t be prized so Tapu Lele can search for it directly. I also went with Rough Seas as my Stadium of choice, but it could easily be Faded Town or even the new Brooklet Hill to help set up.

Having Glaceon-EX, and Ninetales to deal with the possible Glaceon counters has worked wonder so far for me, and it’s a concept I will continue to explore. Regice was good as well but it seemed to be underwhelming as it doesn’t offer GX or Garbodor protection, and Second Bite is also another potentially useful attack.

Another interesting possibility to try and keep up with Garbodor is using Articuno ROS and perhaps even include a Victory Star Victini in order to try and trade cost effectively against it. However coin flip reliance has never been my forte and after a few wrong flips I decided I wanted something more reliable, hence Glaceon-EX.

My final attempt at minimizing Garbodor’s threat to the deck is the following Supporter heavy line up, although this is completely untested as of now:

Pokémon – 16

2 Tapu Lele-GX
4 Alolan Vulpix GRI
3 Alolan Ninetales-GX
2 Glaceon-EX
1 Manaphy-EX
2 Remoraid BKT 32
2 Octillery BKT

Trainers – 32

4 N
4 Lysandre

3 Professor Sycamore

2 Professor Kukui

2 Brigette
4 Aqua Patch
4 Ultra Ball
2 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher
2 Escape Rope
2 Choice Band
2 Rough Seas

Energy – 12

4 Double Colorless

8 W

4 actual Lysandre is unheard of, but who knows? It means Tapu Lele will surely always have a target, and the same is true for the extra Brigette. You can’t go down to less Items than the ones currently in the list, but perhaps no VS Seeker and no Trainers’ Mail would be a good starting point to diminish Garbodors strength.

The last thing I want to touch upon for Ninetales is its Ice Blade attack. Sniping 50 damage to any Pokémon opens up potential Lysandre + Field Blower to remove Float Stone plays. An early Ninetales can also be used more conservatively while the bench is readied with energy in order to reduce the deck’s reliance on Choice Band or Professor Kukui to achieve KOs. Picking the right targets and having a long term plan is essential if this is the way you have to play out a match. Having this option is great, but I think playing Ninetales more aggressively, especially with Octillery support as an anti-N measure, is the correct way to go about playing this deck in most situations.

Conclusion

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The sun has set on PRC-SUM.

I’m really excited for Seattle and to see what decks will come out on top at that event. I genuinely believe Ninetales-GX in one form or another will for sure be making a strong showing.

Thank you so much for reading my article! I hope to catch you guys next time after Seattle with my tournament report!


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