Happy New Year! Hopefully you’re off to a great start in 2018, and all the best with your Pokémon endeavors this year. Hopefully we can help you with that along the way.
We’re going to start of the year with something new today here on 6P. Xander and Christopher both attended the same set of (Expanded!) League Cups in the greater Chicago area this weekend, and were scheduled to write back-to-back this week. Since each planned to write about said League Cups, we thought it’d be an interesting experiment to try co-writing this larger article covering our experiences at these Cups. Especially after the first day went well—with some unconventional deck choices—this seemed like a pretty cool idea to us.
So, as you may have gathered from the byline when you clicked your way here, this piece is co-written by the two of us. We’re going to go over each of the 4 decks we played this weekend and our experiences playing them. We played 4 very unique, fairly under-the-radar, lists this weekend, so hopefully there’s something here you can take toward Dallas. Unfortunately, for the Standard-inclined, this probably won’t be of as much help, but as has been discussed, Standard isn’t exactly revolutionary at the moment.
Clarity-wise, hopefully the headings and structure make it fairly clear who’s saying what at a given point in the article. This is a first for us, and we hope you find it interesting—in any event, though, we’d love to get your feedback on this as an idea.
League Cup #1: Niles, IL
Oh, Expanded. I’ve only played in 2 Expanded tournaments in the past year and a half, with those being Collinsville and Daytona Beach Regionals. Needless to say, Expanded is not my forte, nor my preferred format. I know many people that love Expanded to death, yet I prefer Standard. At least this weekend gave me an opportunity to play VS Seeker again, but I can’t say for certain that my opponents enjoyed playing against me. With no practice in the format and little reason to play anything more complicated, I threw together Trevenant.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 37
Energy – 9
This list is not too far off one posted by Robin Schulz on the Limitless TCG website a few weeks ago. The concepts are the same: set up multiple Trevenant, Enhanced Hammer to deny Energy, and use Silent Fear. The list is meant to do that as efficiently as possible. I did not make this list, but in the tournament I found it to be great. As is with any simple deck, there isn’t much to talk about. I want to focus on the matchup vs Zoroark-GX variants, as it is the most popular difficult matchup.
In that matchup, it’s important to set up as many Trevenant as possible. Even with Enhanced Hammer, you have to expect that they’ll take a knockout every turn. The game plan is to Silent Fear enough times to where all Zoroark-GX on board have 60 damage, so that Miraculous Shine removes ALL Zorua/Zoroark-GX from play. If one is left up, then that can evolve and KO the Espeon-EX for two easy Prizes. It’s important to continuously stream Trevenant BREAK, or else it’s difficult to keep pace.
With Rescue Scarf being the main method for streaming Trevenant BREAK, it’s ideal to have a Trevenant BREAK, Trevenant, and Phantump on board at all times. With a Rescue Scarf on the Active Trevenant BREAK, you can fully replace and maintain your board state every turn. It’s much more difficult to win without establishing this loop.
With only a Phantump on the Bench when the Active Trevenant BREAK falls, you’ll need to hit a Wally to use Silent Fear that turn. You may think that’s great, but that doesn’t even fix the loop; you’re still left with just a Phantump or two on the Bench! From this position, there isn’t anything convenient to do other than Ascension and evolve a Trevenant on the Bench, meaning you have 2 Trevenant and a Phantump in play, which can set up the loop on the following turn.
Niles, IL – 34 Masters
R1 Trevenant BREAK L
R2 Zoroark-GX W
R3 Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor W
R4 Zoroark-GX/Alolan Muk W
R5 Turtonator-GX/Volcanion-EX W
R6 Zoroark-GX ID
T8 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI LWW
T4 Zoroark-GX WW
T2 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI/Counter Energy LL
Throughout the day, I was continuously surprised at how easy, yet difficult, the Zoroark matchup can be. It becomes so easy if I go first, or if they miss an attack, any of the little nuances that can go wrong for the Zoroark player on occasion. The difficulty comes when they do find the Energies, when I don’t find Rescue Scarf, or Enhanced Hammer, or Trevenant to evolve into. Skill definitely matters, but I also found out that it was mostly dictated by luck, eventually equating to 50-50 vs. skilled players.
None of my matches were too interesting, but one to mention is my fifth round. I was scared that Blacksmith and easy Energy acceleration would lead to my demise, but it’s important that Volcanion-EX can typically only attack every other turn. The early lead my opponent gained was lost after I cycled Trevenant BREAK. It was slightly scary as there was one turn he could win with a Guzma on my Jirachi-EX, but he didn’t have it off of his 5-6 card hand, assuming he played 2.
Trevenant BREAK is strong in Expanded, but also doesn’t require tons of skill to pilot. I’m considering it out of its strength in Item locking, but I also dislike how easily it can fall behind when it goes second. Night March and Zoroark-GX can easily KO Trevenant BREAK, which can lead to the deck struggling to keep attackers rolling. It also depends how anti-Trevenant the meta is with Giratina XY184 or decks that are favorable against it. I wouldn’t expect many to be playing it, but there will definitely be some.
Ahh… Primal Groudon. My pick for 2-of my last 3 Expanded Regionals, it’s been fairly kind to me over the years. I first wrote about it in May 2016, after a fairly mediocre Top 32 in Kitchener, ON’s last Regional. After a Top 16 in Portland last March, I had this list to share. I took 2nd in Toronto—the final Expanded Regional of last season—with this list published then. To say the least, I have a lot on record discussing Groudon.
You may find any of those articles useful as reading material, but the point I wish to underscore is this: compared to the May 2016 list, the list I have below is a grand total of 6 cards different. Fittingly, I don’t think any archetype has evolved less over time.
Even the changes are somewhat a matter of simply-better cards being printed. Nest Ball replaced Ultra Ball upon its release (for Portland last year), and Guzma allowed a precious extra deck space by combining the switch utility of Olympia and the gust effect of Lysandre into a single spot—no, it’s not perfect, but this sort of multi-use paradigm is exactly the kind of thing Groudon looks for in as many deck spots as possible.
Here’s the list I played Saturday:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 38
Energy – 9
Other than the aforementioned “the-new-card-is-just-better” sort of changes, the alterations since the last iteration of the list are primarily intended to take Night March from “toss-up, and if they don’t know what they’re doing, favorable” to “as good as possible.” Since the list is entirely built around that premise, I’m going to talk through the Night March matchup, and hopefully cover much of the list’s logic through that.
I know many players that feel strongly that the deck has never well-beaten Night March, or, at least, it was disfavored. My experiences tell me otherwise, and I’d tell those players to find a better Groudon. Of course, they’d follow up by telling me to find a better Night March!
To me, the presence of a matchup like this, where smart people can reasonably disagree, is a sign of a healthy format. I’ve never hated Expanded all that much, but I find it in a particularly good place at the moment.
Back to the list: Special Energy is the defining paradigm of this format, in my mind, and therefore I aimed to deny it wherever possible. 3 Enhanced Hammer is a lot in a deck that demands utility from every deck spot, but I feel they were totally worth the cost. Oricorio was a fairly late add, but it does a good amount in the matchup too—will cover more of that later, though.
Depending on the strength of my opening hand, I generally approached the Night March matchup by building a Groudon behind an army of Wobbuffet, Robo Substitute, and Energy Denial. If at any point they miss an attack because of the Energy denial, it’s a free turn. If they end up burning too many Puzzle/Special Charge/Dowsing outs in this stage of the game, it becomes viable to simply run them out of Energy.
The key to this matchup is that they only have so many resources to burn. In theory, they do have enough to win any given game. In practice, it’s a little more complicated than that, as early game Junipers and Prize cards can dampen the available resources—plus, at some point, Night March needs to be conscious of its remaining attacking outs too.
I generally proceed a few different ways depending on their board. If they’re struggling to deal with Wobbuffet, there’s no reason to start attacking. Make them commit a DCE. As we’ll get into more later, my Top 8 match with Night March featured a Game 1 in which the only attack I used was a Turn 1 Rototiller—I simply didn’t need to do anything else, as my opponent decked out trying to keep up with the denial.
It should be noted that very few scenarios dictate it being appropriate to place Focus Sash on a Groudon in this matchup. You almost invariably want it to be on Regirock, enabling a Scramble Switch, Max Potion, Puzzle-for-Scramble-Switch play at some point in the game. Assault Vest is well placed on Primal Groudon, as they can theoretically hit 240.
As an aside, this is the first Groudon list I’ve ever played Assault Vest in, as until now, the 2nd Sash was too important to give up. With a drop in play for things that can actually 1HKO Primal Groudon, I took the opportunity to add the Vest. It does decent work against Zoroark, and an Assault Vest+Pokémon Center Lady can sometimes make their entire turn irrelevant—except, of course, that they wasted a precious Double Colorless Energy.
Against Night March, it can have a hilarious side use: on a Robo Substitute, they won’t be able to Sky Return it anymore, which means they’re committing a DCE to the board. This means, of course, that you can discard it from there.
Returning to Night March, one key point: Marshadow-GX and Wobbuffet have a nice little interaction. Most Night March lists have only been playing 1 Switch out that isn’t Guzma. If your bench is exclusively Omega Barrier Pokémon, which happens decently often, you can trap a Marshadow, rendered useless by Wobbuffet, active, and force them to have Float Stone+DCE to deal with a lowly Wobbuffet.
The matchup is a war of attrition, and those with experience in the battle are more likely to come out on top. While all of what I’ve written so far was enough to make the matchup about 60-40 when playing against my brother, who’s logged a lot of against-his-will games in the matchup over the years, adding Oricorio induced an entirely new dimension to the situation. Now, you threaten on a lot of fronts: deck out, Energy denial, exhaustion of their attacker supply, and this idea of taking 6 Prize cards before they do.
This is where I believe Night March can be overwhelmed. Fundamentally, I don’t believe they can reliably deal with Energy Denial and you threatening benched Joltik/Pumpkaboo with Oricorio. I’ve won games where my opponent went for a Turn 2 180 on my Groudon because I followed it up with a Supernatural Dance to clear their board of Night Marchers, then been able to deny them the Energy to win once they had to commit Puzzles to retrieving attackers. I look at it as if I’m playing Wailord, but at the end of the day, my Wailord can attack—ergo, they can’t sit around doing nothing all game.
It’s easily one of my favorite matchups ever, as there are so many layers to consider in each and every game. I can hear half of the Pacific Northwest jeering at me already, but in any event, that’s my treatise on Night March vs Groudon.
I think the last key thing to note about the list is that I cut Mr. Mime PLF. Yveltal BKT was the primary reason for its inclusion, but Yveltal has been retired to binders worldwide. Should it seem that Buzzwole/Garbodor starts to take off, it’s something I’ll revisit.
Niles, IL – 34 Masters
R1 Night March W
R2 Night March W
R3 Zoroark-GX/Alolan Muk SUM W
R4 Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX W
T8 Night March WW
T4 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI/Counter Energy LL
After the above discussion of Night March, there’s not as much to be said here. Golisopod was very strange, and very close. I was aided by the fact that my opponent didn’t completely understand what Omega Barrier did, among other things, but in the end Focus Sash and some Guzma shenanigans pulled through. Top 8, as I mentioned earlier, featured a Game 1 where I didn’t attack outside of a pair of Rototillers on Turn 1, but my opponent decked out. I really only paid notice to attacking in Game 2 because the 4-Prize rule meant I needed to either limit him to 3 Prizes or have a lead of my own. As it happened, the game state worked out such that I took my final prizes on Turn 3-of time.
Top 4 was a bit of a mess. Game 1 dealt me a pretty bad start, but sometimes that happens with the deck. In Game 2, I just didn’t pull off enough combos or find energy quickly enough to do much. If you asked me if I’d get KO’d by a Sudowoodo BKP, Counter Energy, and Iris, I would’ve dismissed it out of hand. I reject the notion that the matchup is “bad,” but it’s obviously not as easy as a straight Zoroark build.
I’m not going to say out of hand that I won’t play Primal Groudon in Dallas, but it’s definitely not at the top of my list right now. It has some issues with “random” decks—that is, those that don’t fall in the first 10 or so decks you think of when considering Expnaded—which are a staple of the Expanded format. Trevenant, which you’ve already heard about from Xander, is another big concern.
I think the deck I lost to, which won the event, has some interesting attributes to consider. Zoroark’s draw power means you generally have access to almost anything you want in a given turn, meaning ridiculous combos aren’t really all that ridiculous. Counter Energy has no shortage of partners in Expanded, and Zoroark with that draw engine strikes me as potentially useful.
League Cup #2: Buffalo Grove, IL
For the tournament on Sunday, I decided to play something other than Trevenant BREAK out of fear of being countered, (with Christopher doing the same, as you’ll see in a minute). In reality, there aren’t any decks that hard counter Trevenant BREAK, but I was scared of Zoroark-GX decks playing Giratina XY184, therefore severely swaying the matchup out of my favor. The loss of Item lock makes it much easier for them to find the necessary cards required to attack, like a Double Colorless Energy or Zoroark-GX. Field Blower is also insane at removing Rescue Scarf, which is 100% necessary for continuously streaming Trevenant BREAK.
Late Saturday night, I thought about what decks I could throw together for the second Cup. I already had the popular Night March list from San Jose built, as well as Wailord out of enjoyment. With little motivation to adjust a Standard deck for Expanded like Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX, I decided to roll with Wailord. I had a preliminary list made that was derived from Yehoshua Tate’s (Yoshi) Memphis deck, Drew Kennett’s San Jose list, and a list channeled to me by Eric Gansman and Oliver Barr. Eric, Oliver, and I discussed last minute changes to suit the expected meta, and I was ready to go.
Pokémon – 5
Trainers – 54
Energy – 1
This list is very similar to Drew’s San Jose list. The sole reason I played Wailord to the cup was to get practice in learning it for Dallas within a timed, competitive tournament. It’s much different to practice a deck with friends in a leisurely setting than during a tournament. I also attempted to try different niche cards, like N and Gladion, both of which were absent from Drew’s list. Xurkitree-GX was another experiment that can easily be changed out for Hoopa SHG depending on what decks are expected. Diane Schemanske (yes, Diane) was running Wailord as well, but ran slightly different counts of cards. For example, she ran 2 Team Rocket’s Handiwork, Hoopa instead of Xurkitree, and 0 N. I don’t know the other minute differences, but the idea behind the deck is the same.
Some key cards that I’d like to point out are Gladion, Hugh, and the 2 Plumeria. Gladion is insanely good in this deck because it can retrieve the most necessary card from the prizes based on the matchup. Assuming an important card like Team Rocket’s Handiwork, Guzma, or Lusamine is prized, Gladion can retrieve it. Instead of the space being dedicated to one card, Gladion can essentially act as another copy when the original is prized. What’s important is that it can save any card from being prized, not just one.
Imagine you have 3 cards to allocate toward Team Rocket’s Handiwork or Guzma. With a 2-1 or 1-2 split, you risk the roughly 10% chance of prizing the only copy of the Supporter. With a 1-1-1 split—the third being Gladion—the probability decreases greatly for you to be unable to utilize one of the cards. If both Handiwork and Guzma are prized, you’re given the option to choose the more important one. The math only becomes more appealing once the sample size expands to include more 1-of or important cards.
However, despite the inclusion of Gladion, I still would’ve liked a 2nd Handiwork. This addition would be made in order to draw it more easily and allow myself to have one in the discard pile at all times. In the event that my opponent can no longer win, they will try to stall by N’ing me out of the Team Rocket’s Handiwork in my hand I just grabbed with Lusamine. It’s then impossible to play it in the following turn without drawing into it manually or with Computer Search, since Skyla takes up the turn. Having one in Discard opens up VS Seeker to be an out to an immediate Handiwork, one unable to be stalled.
Hugh was great for forcing my opponent to lower their hand size with N/Colress preemptively, discard mass amounts of cards unexpectedly, or for myself to discard unwanted cards. There are simply too many uses for this card to the point where I’d never consider removing it. I found myself using Hugh to discard unnecessary Supporters and Enhanced Hammer in the wrong matchup, allowing myself to draw cards with Tropical Beach. In fact, I used it more for that purpose than to force the opponent to do the same!
Plumeria served the unexpected purpose of discarding unwanted cards like Hugh did, to the point where I’d consider removing a Team Flare Grunt in favor of a 3-3 split. This is dangerous when I don’t have access to the reload of Tropical Beach, but I also found my hand becoming clogged in dire situations.
Lastly, I’d like to briefly highlight two major strengths brought to mill decks by Yoshi’s deck from Memphis. Hoopa is great for setting the opponent on odd prizing, but so is Xurkitree, because of its GX attack. This is great for sending a Puzzle of Time or other important card to the Prizes, hopefully never to be reclaimed. The GX attack also has the potential to win games after time has been called in Top Cut—something never able to be done before. It can set the opponent back to 3 Prizes in Game 2 after time is called, so you’ll win 1-0 because it doesn’t resolve (by the 4-Prize rule). Also, in Game 1/3 if the Prizes are tied, you’ll win by adding an additional Prize card. Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t work in 1-Prize Sudden Death, as that game concludes only when a normal win condition is met.
The last piece is Lusamine, which I found to be insanely good. Lusamine gives Wailord a way of retrieving past Supporters and Tropical Beach without going through the deck. Drew played 1 in his list, while Yoshi played 3. I decided to roll in between by playing 2 copies. What was great is that I could Lusamine for another Supporter and the other Lusamine, like a 100% efficient machine. This was great for reusing Handiwork, effectively every other turn.
R1 Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor W
R2 Turtonator-GX/Volcanion-EX W
R3 Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX/Alolan Muk W
R4 Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX T
R5 Zoroark-GX W
R6 Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX ID
T8 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX/Vileplume WW
T4 Zoroark-GX/Garbodor GRI W, L (Time), L (Sudden Death)
My tournament run was met with very little resistance until facing Christopher in Top 4. Round 2 was slightly scary as I was forced to use VS Seeker inefficiently because I never drew Lusamine. The game came down to me drawing the final card in deck, my 4th VS Seeker, and my opponent having 2 cards remaining. With a sigh I grabbed Handiwork from my discard pile, and flipped a heads. I almost lost Round 3 because of an unexpected Seismitoad-EX, which removed functionality of a majority of my hand. I had multiple Team Flare Grunt, which he responded to with his 2nd and 3rd Double Colorless. My Wailord-EX was at 210 damage when my 4th Team Flare Grunt stuck, at which point I was able to grab another Wailord, heal the Active, and put a Tropical Beach in play to refresh my hand.
The 4th round is an example of something I disliked about playing Wailord in 30 minutes Best of 1. My opponent went into the match with no intention of winning, but only to tie. He never played “slowly” within the rules of the game, but simply made so many plays, legal plays, such as using Propagation… waiting… Propagation… Ultra Ball, etc. Even with me playing as fast as possible, I couldn’t finish the game with anything less than 1 card left in my opponent’s deck.
The most tense match of the tournament was against Christopher, mostly because he knew how to conserve his resources against Wailord. Because he started out 0-1 in the event, I never saw anything about his deck outside of the little I watched in Top 8. I noticed he played Garbodor GRI, but card counts, tech Supporters, and the like were all missing information.
One example where this mattered is near the end of the game when he had 3 P Energy and 4 Puzzle of Time in his discard pile, but he continued to play. He bluffed me for a good five minutes, feigning a win condition, and ultimately eating time on the clock. In that scenario, I chose to Team Skull Grunt to look at his hand rather than use Handiwork to finish the game, but it was not revealed to me—until I read this article!—that he played only 3.
Game 1 was pretty well in my favor because I was able to keep my Item count very low. Tropical Beach was in play for most of the game too, which led to me being able continuously fuel myself. I tried to use Enhanced Hammer to remove Double Colorless and to save Team Flare Grunt/Plumeria for any Psychic he chose to play. Perhaps 1-2 Crushing Hammer would be worth a spot in the list, but I also recognize the dark timeline where I flip tails and it adds another Item to the discard pile.
In Game 2, I was on the back foot at the start because he opened with Brigette and started attacking relatively quickly. In the first game, we had a nice exchange of passes until he found the Brigette. We had approximately 20 minutes left after the first game, and ultimately both of our intentions were to let this game go unfinished. However, Christopher had to play quickly, or else he would risk the possibility of not reaching 2 Prize cards remaining before time. Upon further reflection, I realized that I played this game too defensively. In the final turns past time, I had approximately 8 cards left, him with 2 Prizes, and the Xurkitree + Lightning nowhere to be found. Had I been able to thin my deck enough to guarantee that combo, I could have won right then and there.
Unfortunately, I lacked that foresight, or the foresight to concede Game 2 before time is called and enter a 6-6 Prize split in Game 3. During an unresolved Game 3, I have many more turns to find Xurkitree + Lightning before he takes a Prize card than I did within the +3 in Game 2.
In the meek Sudden Death Game 3, I essentially was forced to heal my Wailord every turn because there’s no breathing room when the opponent only has 1 Prize to take. This let my Item count rack up quickly because I had to use Team Flare Grunt + Max Potion or AZ/Acerola + Enhanced Hammer; the latter only working against Double Colorless, too. After about 40 minutes of sitting there, crying on the inside, I lost. It wasn’t close either: the 40 minutes is unrepresentative of how easy the game was for him.
I think Wailord is strong heading into Dallas because of its matchups, but one thing I dislike is the vast difference in win percentage vs. a top player and a worse player. Obviously, a top player will pilot a deck better than one less talented, but it matters especially against a deck like Wailord. If a worse player than Christopher was sitting across from me in Top 4, I think I could’ve won easily.
I’m considering Wailord for Dallas, but I’m also very open-minded to other choices, because I’d rather play a deck that doesn’t have time rules as a burden to its success. If I consider playing 4 Tropical Beach, I also need to foot the bill for that, too.
Heading into Sunday’s Cup, I was sure I didn’t want to play Groudon. Some folks had discussed playing Rattata EVO, and while I try not to worry about hard teching at small events, that would be pretty ugly for me. In addition, I wanted to try something different in exploration of decks for Dallas.
To date, I’d never played a game with Zoroark-GX, which is pretty incredible given the position of power it’s held in the game for the last while. This was a symptom of missing San Jose and judging Memphis, but nonetheless, I expect I was one of the last players with that distinction intact. Expanded can presently be broken open by the right combination of cards at the right time, so the drawpower available with Zoroark is a serious boon.
On the other hand, Expanded has never been more Item-hungry, which makes Garbodor GRI an incredibly versatile presence. Zoroark-GX’s Resistance and relative non-reliance on Items (via Trade) means most purely Psychic efforts fall short in that matchup—a nonstarter at the moment.
So, when I got back to my hotel late on Saturday night, I picked up the Zoroark list I’d built to test against, took out some cards, and fit the Item-hungry menace and some P Energy. In essence, I was simply fitting as many broken cards as possible in one deck and hoping it stuck.
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 32
Energy – 7
Like I said previously, the list is pretty much just a conventional Zoroark list with 7 cards cut for Garbodor and Energy. One missing card is Ghetsis, which I’ve never been a huge fan of in Expanded. It has some niche uses for sure, but I always prefer my Turn 1 Supporter to be immune to doing absolutely nothing. However, with Zoroark drawing lots of cards, it may be worth having as a disruption option in the mid-late game—something to consider that I left out for the sake of space.
The deck has a lot of options: Zoroark is a strong attacker and Garbodor is great by the end of the game against almost anything. The Garbodor line does seem rather thin, and 3 Psychic mildly dangerous, but the deck simply draws so many cards that it’s rarely an issue. The lack of Alolan Muk is probably going to concern some, who would suggest that it’s the only way to deal with Sudowoodo, but I’d say I was pleasantly surprised with how often I was comfortable doing only the 100 damage—while reaching higher with Hex on key turns. Garbodor as an alternative attacking option definitely helped that element.
I really like Dowsing Machine in “Puzzle Decks” at the moment, but this deck seems to really need the extra consistency out, so for now, I’m sticking with Computer Search.
R1 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI L
R2 Night March W
R3 Sableye DEX/Raichu CIN W
R4 Trevenant BREAK W
R5 Wailord W
T8 Zoroark-GX/Lyanroc-GX WW
T4 Wailord L, W (Time), W (Sudden Death)
T2 M Gardevoir-EX STS WLL
Round 1 had me thinking I’d come too far in search of a new idea, as I drew poorly, to understate. But, I promptly won out until Game 1 of my Top 4 with Xander. As you’ve already read, that match came down to a gimmicky resolution by the hands of the current iteration of the time rules. I lost Game 1, snuck out Game 2 by virtue of the 4-Prize Rule (though, in my personal view, I probably could’ve won the game itself in the end anyway), which took us to sudden death.
One key element of the match, as Xander mentioned earlier, was the number of P Energy I played. In Game 1, I mismanaged my Float Stones and Psychics catastrophically, meaning by the end I had no real chance to win. But, we were only about 25 minutes into the match by my count, so I dragged the game out. I was playing at three things here:
- By dragging the game on, seemingly without an out, it implied to him that I did have another out. Therefore, in Games 2/3, he played on the assumption that I had 4 Psychic where I only had 3.
- I was confident that I could take 4 Prizes in under 20 minutes, but more importantly, that I could drag out taking 6 to at least 20 minutes. My win condition once I dropped Game 1 was to win Game 2 on time, invoke the Sudden Death rules, and win that game. Therefore, I needed Game 2 to have enough time for me to take 4 Prizes, but not too much time that we would start Game 3 before time was called at 60 minutes. Therefore, I needed to drag Game 1 out, and I ate about 10 more minutes this way.
- There was a slim theoretical chance that I could deck him out—in theory, with enough Tails on Handiwork, it would’ve come to fruition. Given I had nothing to lose, I stuck around.
I figured out midway through Game 2 that I needed to use Zoroark enough to be irritating and make him waste some Max Potion/Energy Denial outs, then transition into Garbodor once I’d exhausted some of those outs—as it was the way I’d eventually get to 1HKO range, and he had less outs to discarding Psychics than he did Double Colorless. I felt Game 2 was pretty comfortable, but then we were off to Sudden Death.
On paper, this should end when I setup a Zoroark to do 140+, bounce Tropical Beach, and N to 1. Even if he top decked out of the initial KO the following turn, Trade would put me in a position to sustain my board while he’d get 1 card per turn. It should be unwinnable, on paper, for him—and really, it shouldn’t take too long. Instead, the lone copy of N was my 1 Prize card! Therefore, it was a much longer game, eventually clocking in at 40 minutes. Will definitely file that under “things I don’t want to do ever again.”
Finals was a bit of a mess. I won Game 1 handily and got off to a dreadful start Game 2 and sort of muddled through before just losing. Game 3’s opening Brigette revealed that I’d prized 3 Zorua, so I knew I was in for a bit of a trial. I never really got the requisite draw power going, and it all fell apart.
Garbodor GRI is definitely as broken as ever in Expanded, but it needs a way to deal with Zoroark to be successful. I’m not convinced my list was an ironclad way of doing that, and will be looking more into partners for it in the future. I don’t really know that I’d consider M Gardevoir in this format, though like everything in Expanded, there are definitely rooms where it can be positioned very well. Simply, it doesn’t strike me as good enough for something like Dallas. Only time will tell, though.
If I would have played the 3rd Cup in Illinois, I’d have probably gone with Buzzwole/Garbodor akin to what Pablo discussed last week. I admittedly don’t know that there’s a specific reason for this choice, other than that it’s a concept I’ve been wanting to get experience with, but I think anything with Fighting as its typing is somewhat well-off in a format that Zoroark currently defines. I won’t be back here until after Dallas, so we’ll see how off the mark I am from this far out, but it’ll be an interesting few weeks as we head toward the big event.
Hopefully you enjoyed this side-by-side look at our League Cups this weekend. We both got quite a few requests for the lists we played, so we figured having everything in one place would be quite convenient for all. If you enjoyed this style of article, or thought it was awful, we’d love to hear from you—as always, the forums, Christopher’s Twitter, etc. are the best contact routes.
Jimmy finishes out our week on Thursday, then Alex, Brit, and Pablo will be with us next week. As a general notice, a chance we will be shifting the standard publishing time from noon EST back to 3:00, but we will see what the coming weeks hold.
Thanks for reading, and and all the best.
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