Hello SixPrizes readers! I hope everyone has been enjoying the holidays, as I know I certainly have. It has been very nice to take a decent break from traveling to Regional Championships and just stay local. I have been using this extra time to really get in the zone for Dallas, despite it still being a solid three weeks away.
The Expanded format has so many cards and it feels kinda crazy to think that the best combination of cards have already been discovered, so I have been trying my best to really explore my options. While I haven’t found anything groundbreaking quite yet, this has led to me feeling very comfortable with the Expanded format, and I could end up with something neat before Dallas.
That being said, I am going to talk about two of my favorite decks in Expanded at the moment. I will start off with a deck I haven’t seen too much discussion about, Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX. I will then move onto one of the most hated decks in Pokémon, Trevenant BREAK. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 43
Energy – 4
I haven’t seen much hype surrounding this deck online, but it was a dominant force at League Cups this past weekend here in Florida. On Saturday, Justin Kulas beat me round one and went on to win the entire tournament. I considered playing the deck the following day, but decided to stick to Zoroark-GX/Muk because I was comfortable with the deck and expected Golisopod-GX and Pokémon Ranger to be popular.
The next day, despite having Ranger in my deck, I lost to one of the two Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX decks I played against. In addition to this, three of the top eight decks were Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX. The deck is quite consistent despite having so many disruption cards packed into the list, and has pretty solid matchups all around just because of how the deck works. Pokémon Ranger is certainly a solid inclusion if you are expecting to play against this deck, but it didn’t help me in my matches nearly as much as I thought it would. The deck applies a ton of pressure and is very disruptive, so the opponent being able to play a couple Items after using a Ranger usually isn’t the end of the world.
This is a Seismitoad deck after all! You might be wondering why I don’t run four, which is a solid question. For starting purposes, four is obviously superior just because they will be slightly easier to find in the early game, which is a crucial point in the game for the deck. However, once I get one or two Seismitoad-EX in play, Acerola allows me to manage them pretty well, and I almost never find myself actually using even a third copy. This means that if I start Seismitoad-EX, or have an easy way of getting it in the active anyways, the fourth copy would certainly be useless.
This might seem like an odd inclusion because the deck already has four Enhanced Hammers, and while I agree, it is nice to have easy access to an energy denial card that can be reused. It makes some of your turns a lot smoother because you don’t have to go digging for an Enhanced Hammer, which allows you to preserve the contents of your hand. Even using a Colress in those situations can be annoying if you like your hand!
pokescans.tumblr.comThis might seem like a weird inclusion because you are taking cards away from your opponent that they can’t play, which could even allow them to play a Professor Sycamore without burning a ton of resources. However, Ghetsis is still a strong play in a couple of situations. Going first, Ghetsis can often be a strong play because you don’t really have much else to do, and it can lead to crippling your opponent’s start. Ghetsis should also be used whenever the Item lock is broken in order to attack with Zoroark-GX, otherwise your opponent will likely have a great response.
This card allows you to use Trade for free, and the only real downside is how bad of a starter it is. I will probably try this out in my next texting session and see how much I value the cards in my deck. The consistency cards of the deck can often get dumped with Trade once you’re setup, which is nice for the purpose of thinning your deck. However, I have noticed a couple times where I don’t Trade because I don’t want to discard anything, and I have also had a couple painful discards during my time with the deck.
This could be worth trying instead of one of the Acerola, mostly because it can be used as a switch effect on turn one or two. This can lead to an easier time getting the highly sought after Quaking Punch off in certain situations. Overall, I would say this card is a worse choice than Acerola because it will burn a Double Colorless Energy when it is used, but that downside only happens a maximum of once per game. After it’s original use, the Acerola can just be grabbed with VS Seeker whenever a healing effect is needed.
This is an inclusion I haven’t wanted much while playing the deck, but was definitely something I wanted when I went to make a list for the deck. The difference between this deck and one like Zoroark-GX/Muk where Special Charge is a staple, is the way each deck is played. Zoroark-GX/Muk is a deck that aims to race the opponent in prizes, and needs to find a new Double Colorless Energy everytime a KO is taken. Enhanced Hammer can also cause a bunch of problems for the Zoroark-GX/Muk deck, while Quaking Punch simply denies your opponent from using them. Seismitoad-EX also slows down the game a decent amount, despite applying a lot of pressure, which gives you time to find Double Colorless Energy for your next attacker. Plus, being more Acerola based also preserves your Double Colorless Energy.
This matchup may seem like one you want to hit, but it is actually one of the sketchier matchups for the deck. Going first makes the matchup a whole lot easier because it means you will actually get to play items and get decently setup. Obviously some games will basically be over when Trevenant goes first and leaves you with an unplayable hand of items, but that can happen with any deck.
I have noticed that finding Guzma as the Zoroark player is one of the most important plays you can make, because it can allow you to Guzma up a bench sitter, such as Jirachi-EX, and use a ton of items. This usually means playing an Enhanced Hammer, Hypnotoxic Laser, VS Seekering for a couple supporters, maybe a pair of Puzzle of Time, and certainly following things up with a Quaking Punch. This is a huge swing in the game because Trevenant doesn’t have a great answer to this play. Sure, they can sometimes just retreat and attack, but if they don’t have an N in their hand, you will follow up the turn by putting them in a bad spot yet again. This is why I believe if the Guzmas are found at the right time and used properly, Trevenant struggles in the matchup.
However, in games where it takes too long to find Guzma and Trevenant BREAK just gets to flood the board with damage, it is very difficult for the Seismitoad/Zoroark deck to make a comeback. Simply trading blows between Zoroark and Trevenant will almost always result in an unfavorable result, given that this Seismitoad deck plays a thinner Zoroark line and no Hex Maniac.
I have played this matchup the most out of all of them, and I have to say that this is a great matchup for Zoroark/Seismitoad. I have played it from both sides, and firmly believe that even a Pokémon Ranger does not swing the matchup in Zoroark/Muk’s favor. The disruption is just too much for them to handle, and you can just sit their and Quaking Punch until they lose most of the time. Hypnotoxic Laser and Choice Band make your damage output pretty insane, so it’s not even like they have a ton of time to draw into their useful cards. Enhanced Hammer and Acerola make it so once they do attack, they are pretty severely punished for it. Sudowoodo is the all-star in this matchup, because it makes it so they can never OHKO a Zoroark-GX or a Seismitoad-EX, which is pretty important for the strategy of this deck.
This is a matchup where Xerosic might be better than Team Flare Grunt, just because it can remove the Float Stone from their Zoroark BKT if they happen to set that up. However, them having that in play really doesn’t usually hurt you too much, as all it does is lower the value of Hypnotoxic Laser.
This matchup is actually incredibly easy because of all the Special Energy they play. They have a ton of extra dead cards in their deck because the Lycanroc-GX line is essentially useless, which makes the Quaking Punch lock even more effective. I already think that the Zoroark-GX/Muk matchup is pretty favorable, and I would have to say this one is even easier. Lycanroc-GX will never get to attack because of the four Enhanced Hammer and Puzzle of Times that the deck has access too, which means you just have to deal with Zoroark-GX attacking.
Acerola will always negate a Riotous Beating because it can’t one shot you under Sudowoodo, and Enhanced Hammer can come down to remove the energy they used to attack. My goal in this matchup is to just remove ever energy they put into play immediately, and while that isn’t always feasible, it is actually much easier than you might think. If you have two Zoroark-GX in play and use a Colress for just nine cards, you get to see an additional thirteen cards on that turn. This makes finding what you need quite easy, especially when they are unlikely to be attaching an energy card every single turn of the game.
This is the deck you want to be playing against all day at Dallas if you decide to play Seismitoad/Zoroark. Night March can handle a Seismitoad-EX tech in a Zoroark deck, but this situation is much different. The disruption that this deck brings to the table is too much for Night March to bare, as Zoroark-GX is not a great response to a Karen + Quaking Punch because of all of the energy removal.
If a Zoroark-GX does ever attack into a Seismitoad-EX, it can just get healed via Acerola, and then the energy will get removed from the Zoroark-GX via Enhanced Hammer. Not to mention that a Hypnotoxic Laser could be tossed into this play to knockout the Zoroark-GX even quicker. Speaking of Hypnotoxic Laser, it is a great card in the matchup because it allows Quaking Punch to OHKO a Pumkaboo, which is not something that a mere tech Seismitoad-EX can do. The opponent will likely fall into a Sky Return loop at the end of the game, which is not the end of the world. Worse case scenario, you can just use Ghetsis and then KO the Shaymin-EX with Riotous Beating.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 35
Energy – 9
This list with heavy counts of Enhanced Hammer and Rescue Scarf is not the Trevenant we have seen played consistently in the past, but it does remind me of the list that Jonathan Crespo used to take down Philadelphia Regionals in late 2016. The goal of this list is to continuously stream Trevenants, and in some cases, follow up with a big Miraculous Shine play. The deck has to be built this way in order to handle one of the biggest counters it’s ever faced, Zoroark-GX. A normal Trevenant list would simply get run over, but the deck can be built to win that matchup without sacrificing much overall. In my testing, this deck has been very consistent and has a slew of good matchups, but it gets blown out by Giratina Promo techs and can certainly still lose to Zoroark-GX decks.
This card is definitely a worse card to have on the board than a Tapu Lele-GX, but it is still a very useful card to have in the deck. It boosts the consistency of the deck quite a bit because it is searchable via Level Ball. This makes hitting the turn one Wally incredibly likely, as the deck contains a whopping thirteen cards that grant you immediate access to the magical Supporter.
This is definitely the card in the list that I am most unsure about. To be honest, I have been rotating this card in and out of my deck, and I’m still not entirely sure if it’s worth the space. Necrozma-GX is not a card that will get used every game, but it can be the different between winning and losing in some of them. In other cases, it is either nearly useless, or just a “win-more” card.
This is the finisher that I have seen in almost every current Trevenant list. Similarly to the Necrozma-GX I just mentioned, this is not a card that I use every game. However, it can often mean the difference between winning and losing, especially against Zoroark-GX. The Zoroark-GX matchup is actually one where I would say Espeon-EX gets used to win the game consistently. Even if all six prizes are not taken, the game is essentially over if Espeon leaves the opponent without any Zorua on the field.
Pokemon ParadijsThis is a key part of how the deck plays nowadays because it makes consistently attacking with Trevenants very easy. After a Trevenant with a Rescue Scarf is knocked out, you can just start building your board back up right away. As long as you had just a single Trevenant in play before, the only thing you will be missing now is Energy. Rescue Scarf in this deck reminds me of Splash Energy in Greninja, and we all know how powerful that is.
Enhanced Hammer has been a very popular card recently in both formats! A lot of decks recently (Seismitoad/Zoroark, Trevenant, and Azul’s Golisipod/Garbodor) play four Enhanced Hammer and have a way of denying Zoroark-GX from easily getting DCE back. The card is incredibly strong right now because Double Colorless Energy is being played in pretty much every deck, and dedicating a few spots to Enhanced Hammer is not too difficult.
5th Psychic Energy
This would likely mean that the Double Colorless Energy (and by association, Necrozma) will get removed from the deck, as I don’t see how the deck would have space otherwise. Having ten Energy also seems like a lot, so sticking at nine is something I would probably like to do in order to keep the deck running smooth.
This would be a nice consistency boost for the deck, but i’m not sure how much more consistent the deck needs to be. I haven’t been having any issues thus far, but if I did think that the deck needs a little more early game consistency, this is the card I would aim to include.
2nd Super Rod
This is an inclusion I hadn’t really thought about, but I did notice that Xander Pero had this in his most recent list. I could see it being nice to have if your Super Rod is prized or you have to ditch it early, but I don’t really think that two is necessary when you have four Rescue Scarf in the deck. I will probably try this out when I play with the deck next, just so I can get a better understanding of the inclusion.
This is the mirror match that everyone hates to play, as whoever goes first is at an absolutely insane advantage. This means getting the first Trevenant into play, denying your opponent the use of item cards, and getting the first attack off. Obviously all of these things are important, and it’s pretty hard to lose after this if you don’t miss something crucial during the game. Techs can change the matchup, as a player could be prepared for the mirror by being less trainer reliant and have more utility supporters.
My list is admittedly slightly worse in the mirror match than one like Xander’s because I currently have the Necrozma-GX package and a fourth Level Ball in my list, while he has two extra draw supporters and an extra Psychic Energy. However, at least in my experience in the mirror match, these differences will only matter if both players setup and the game becomes somewhat even. I have never been a fan of mirror matches, and for obvious reasons, this is probably the one I dislike the most.
This is the matchup that the list I have been using was made to beat. At first, Trevenant was basically written off due to how obviously good Zoroark-GX is against it. However, people started to realize that running an Espeon-EX and heavy counts of Rescue Scarf + Enhanced Hammer made the matchup slightly favorable. Obviously I wouldn’t want to be playing the matchup every round because it is very close, but it went from seemingly unwinnable to slightly favorable, which is a pretty interesting thing to think about. The Zoroark player should be staggering their Zoruas, which will make it more difficult for the Espeon-EX to rid their board of all relevant attackers, but this won’t stop us from winning. Enhanced Hammers help to slow them down, and will usually result in them missing an attack at some point.
When they do attack to KO a Trevenant, Rescue Scarf is a great recovery tool that will keep the Trevenants in play. The end-goal is to setup their board in a manner where Espeon-EX or Necrozma-GX can completely rid their board of relevant attackers. In some cases, Necrozma-GX will simply take all six prizes which is great of course, but it really only needs to ensure that Zoroark won’t return KO it the following turn. Cards like Acerola will allow them to heal a damaged Zoroark-GX, Hex Maniac will allow them to navigate through the Item lock a bit easier if they ever find it, and Sky Field is a decent counter stadium for them to use. Sky Field is strong against Trevenant because it knocks Dimension Valley out of play, which makes it harder for the deck to use Silent Fear every turn. In addition to this, Sky Field can be used as a way of removing liabilities from the bench because Dimension Valley will eventually comeback into play and limit the bench to five again.
I think this is the scarier of the two Zoroark decks because they have an easier time getting around the Item lock, but they are a less consistent deck so when they don’t find the pieces to their Lycanroc-GX line, they struggle a bit more. It plays a lot like the Zoroark-GX/Muk matchup in the sense that I do still believe it is slightly favorable, and the matchup is played the exact same way.
The goal of the Trevenant deck is to rid the opposing board of any Zorua and Zoroark-GX, while the opponent will counteract this strategy with cards like Acerola and counter stadiums in an attempt to take six prizes before their field is crippled. This is why Lycanroc-GX is good in the matchup, because it can act as a way of taking cheap prizes and let’s the opponent use crucial item cards such as Puzzle of Time and VS Seeker. Necrozma-GX is a bit stronger in this matchup just because it has more targets to hit, which simply makes it more likely that it will play a role in taking a few prize cards.
This is one of Trevenant’s best matchups, but it used to be a much easier matchup than it is now. My previous opinion on the matchup was something like “If Trevenant sets up, it should almost always win”. However, due to the addition of Zoroark-GX, the matchup is not just a free win. I absolutely still feel it is favored due to how strong Item lock and Silent Fear are against Night March, but there is certainly room to lose. Zoroark-GX is a great attacker against Trevenant, but thankfully they only have two of them, and our four Enhanced Hammer can prevent them from attacking consistently.
An important part of the game is how early the Zorua(s) get into play because if they are benched in the middle of the game, you likely have a pretty solid lead already and aren’t too worried about the incoming Zoroark-GX. In addition to this, they have to evolve the Zorua the turn after it hits the bench, otherwise it will be KOed by two Silent Fears. The scary games are when they get one or two Zorua on the board going first, and then start attacking with Zoroark on the second turn of the game. While this situation is manageable, it usually means that drawing less than good will result in you falling very behind and getting pressured out of the game.
That’s all I have for today’s article! Hopefully one of these decks piqued your interest, as I certainly think both of these decks are worth a try. With Dallas still being three weeks away, there is an abundant amount of time to try as many things as possible and see what you like. The meta should be much more defined as things grow closer, which makes me want to know as much about the format as possible heading in. This will allow me to adapt much easier if the deck I am liking at the time ends up looking like a poor play. That being said, I will continue to grind out games as much as possible and get a great understanding of what decks and techs I like in the meta. I have two more League Cups this weekend, and I hope to pick up some points as I am lacking a solid finish in this quarter. If you have any upcoming League Cups, I wish you good luck and I will be back before Dallas with another article to get everyone as prepared as possible!