Hola again 6P! Happy New Year! 2017 was a great year for 6P and myself too, and I’m hoping 2018 will be even better! There are 9-10 Regionals and 3 Internationals to go through in the next 6-7 months (and typing it now makes me realize just how crazy packed a normal Pokémon season is now!), where our first challenge is Dallas and the Expanded format!
Before I begin talking about decks, I wanted to bring up a recent discussion that took place on Twitter regarding Tropical Beach, ACE SPECs and overall card accessibility.
On January 5th, I tweeted the following:
If Pokémon wants Expanded to keep growing, they need to reprint Ace Specs and Tropical Beach.
— [SoS] Tablemon (@tablemon) January 5, 2018
This came up after I noticed many of the people that I coach are struggling to complete their Expanded decks for Dallas. As they’ve come into the game between the last 3 years or earlier, they don’t own all the necessary cards for Expanded.
ACE SPECs were first introduced to the game in the BW: Boundaries Crossed set that came out in November 2012 — that’s a little over 5 years ago! The $50 price tag on Computer Search is completely understandable when you consider the size of the player base back then. There are, simply put, not that many Computer Search in circulation, and the huge consistency boost it brings to decks in Expanded dictates the hefty price tag. The same applies to Dowsing Machine, and to a lesser extent, Rock Guard, Scoop Up Cyclone, Scramble Switch and Gold Potion.
We have already received some products with Alternate numbering A tag to prevent their legality in Standard, but this has been limited to the XY-era so far. I feel like a “Best of BW” would be a great product to for the game’s exploding popularity at the moment. We have, at the time I’m writing this, over 800 Masters registered for Dallas (900+ by time of publish!). I truly wonder how many more would attend, likely to the point of selling out, if Expanded’s sought-after older cards were more readily available.
This lets us move on to Tropical Beach. A trophy card for many people, it’s actually starting to see more and more play in different successful decks in Expanded. The problem with this card is even more serious than the ACE SPECs. Tropical Beach was a promo given only to Worlds Competitors and Staff in 2011 and 2012. This, in my eyes, has created a huge availability and exclusivity problem with the card. Part of the Twitter discussion included people arguing that a reprint would devalue the cards given to competitors from those years. While true, it becomes a decision of whether you want to cater for a value of a card that’s 5-6 years old, versus catering to the current and rapidly growing player base?
I’d argue that Pokémon should be caring about the latter, as the older cards would still hold their prestige in my opinion. Another simpler option is to just print the effect of said card with a different name. This is the simplest solution, and while it may introduce the effect to Standard once again, who’s to say it wouldn’t be a welcome addition and would open up new and creative strategies to be created/become viable? Perhaps the limited availability of the card is actually deterring players from exploiting the effect?
Anyways, those are just some thoughts I had since Expanded testing began happening in full swing. Which now leads us to the meat of the article:
Since my last article, I’ve fleshed out and continued to test the Buzzwole/Garbodor and Golisopod/Garbodor concepts that I proposed… to very little success. I even tried to adapt the Buzzwole/Lycanroc deck from Standard to Expanded, with Sudowoodo GRI, VS Seeker, Computer Search for extra consistency, and even Focus Sash. This is where I left the concept after giving up on it, in case you’d like to follow up on it:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 31
Energy – 13
None of the decks has been able to successfully stop Zoroark/Lycanroc, Zoroark/Alolan Muk, and Zoroark/Night March to where I’d be comfortable going into the tournament with them, hence they’ve been scrapped from my testing grounds. If League Cups are any indication, those decks are clearly going to be the most popular ones going into Dallas.
My colleagues here on 6P have already touched on Trevenant, Primal Groudon, Wailord and Seismitoad/Zoroark. All of those decks have a ‘slow and steady’ approach to win, ranging from completely passive (Wailord) through to trying to set up and simply overrun the opponent (Primal Groudon). I’d actually like to go over my favorite Zoroark variant, and what makes it so strong currently.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 33
Energy – 7
This is my current iteration of the deck, and it has everything I could possibly want in a deck. These are the crucial cards from the list above:
4/3/1/1 Zoroark – Zoroark-GX is an amazing card, no need to keep stating that. However, we also get access to Zoroark BLW with Foul Play, to copy opposing opponent’s attacks, and Zoroark BKT, in order to use Stand In against Poison/Sleep from Hypnotoxic Laser and Mind Jack to hit very hard in a Sky Field metagame.
2/2 Lycanroc – Lycanroc-GX GRI has an incredible ability which allows you to essentially ‘cheat’ and have access to 2 Supporter effects, draw/disruption + manipulating the active. Aside from that, we get fighting type to deal with opposing Zoroarks which is a huge bonus when Sudowoodo is everywhere.
1 Seismitoad-EX – A great Pokémon to lead off with if you start with it, but also one of the 2 card combo to try and counter Night March.
1 Sudowoodo STS – Necessary tech for the mirror. It being prized cost me getting to Day 2 at San Jose in my third game of the win and in.
1 Exeggcute PLF – Its Ability, Propagation, allows you to consistently Trade without discarding valuable resources. However, there are occasions where you’ll prefer to Trade excess cards in order to properly thing out your deck.
Supporter wise, we have 2 Brigette, 2 Professor Sycamore, 2 N, 1 Teammates and 1 Colress for draw/consistency (which might seem low, but when combined with Tapu Lele-GX, Shaymin-EX, VS Seekers and Trade, it’s more than enough). For disruption, we have Hex Maniac, Guzma, and Karen (this one being exclusively a Night March/Vespiquen counter). Item-wise, we have max consistency with 4 Ultra Balls, 4 Puzzle of Time, 4 VS Seeker and Computer Search, along with 3 Choice Band, 2 Field Blowers and a Float Stone for utility. Finally, we have the 3 Sky Field, which allow Zoroark-GX to hit high enough numbers to become a serious threat by reaching for OHKO’s.
For Energy, we have a very simple 4 Double Colorless and 3 Fighting. With decks now trending towards 4 Enhanced Hammer, I genuinely feel as if the basic Energy counts in decks such as this one is incredibly important, and thus I’m shying away from the 2 Fighting/1 Strong split most people ran (including myself) at San Jose.
It seems like there’s a heavy focus on Item Lock and Special Energy hate going into Dallas, so an increase in Supporter counts plus basic Energy seems like the logical way to go about countering this.
The other version of Zoroark going around is ‘LonZoroark.’ I personally still don’t get the ‘Lon’ part. Apparently it’s a joke referring to a musician? (Editors Note: I have since told Pablo who Lonzo Ball is.) I genuinely thought it just meant lone-Zoroark, as it’s not partnered with another heavy hitter at all. Its structure is very similar to the previous deck, except it opts to use Alolan Muk from SUM to shut off Basic Abilities. The timing of when you evolve the Alolan Grimer has to be optimal though, as you also shut off your own Set-Up, Wonder Tag, and Propagation, along with Sudowoodo’s Road Block. This is what the deck looks like:
Pokémon – 20
1 Alolan Muk SUM
Trainers – 36
Energy – 4
The spots that are not used for the Lycanroc-GX line and the basic Energy are used up by extra resources such as Ghetsis, Battle Compressor, Rescue Stretcher and Special Charge, while conserving the versatility of Puzzles, VS Seekers, etc.
These are the 2 main versions of Zoroark decks that are currently successful. Another is Golisopod/Zoroark, but its failure to make Top 8 in San Jose made a lot of people disregard the deck as an inferior version.
Then we have Night March. This deck took San Jose by storm, and 3 of the Top 4 decks were the same 60 card list. Zoroark gives the deck an extra attacker and solid draw under Item Lock with Trade. The extra draw and discard allows Night March to reach every resource it needs during its turns, and thus have an answer to every threat the opposing deck manages to put out.
It’s no surprise that all the talk revolving around Item Lock and energy denial is specifically ways to shut down Night March, along with Zoroark-GX decks.
So, if denying Special Energy is a huge trend right now, with decks running up to 4 Enhanced Hammer in their lists, what are decks that can try to counter this?
The first one that comes to mind is Gardevoir-GX. Although Item Lock certainly hurts the deck, it is the one deck which isn’t reliant on 4 Double Colorless and that doesn’t just get overrun by Zoroark variants.
This is the list I’ve been toying with, which coincidentally is very similar to the Worlds list I used just a few months ago:
Pokémon – 19
4 Ralts BKT
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
The deck has the same basic core as back then, with Teammates actually being the card that rounds it all up very nicely. Teammates is the key card that allows this Stage 2 deck to keep up with the hyper aggressive Night March, whilst Gallade is a great response to Zoroark decks due to weakness and high HP.
The deck also has enough wiggle room where you can bench a ‘counter’ to whatever you’re up against. Giratina PR is a direct counter to Trevenant BREAK and Greninja BREAK, and can be easily Brigette’d for on Turn 1. Stopping the BREAK’S Abilities is key to reducing their HP and more importantly their damage output in a significant way.
Finally, Comfey is a great counter to the Seismitoad/Zoroark decks that have been popping up, as it negates Special Conditions on Pokémon that have a Fairy Energy attached. Thus, Hypnotoxic Laser strategies have their damage reduced in a significant way. Not only that, but you avoid the RNG that’s caused by the Sleep flips.
Despite being a Stage 2 deck, Gardevoir seems to be versatile enough where it can adapt to the current metagame in a way that counters the top tier strategies. It’s also shown quite a bit of staying power, as it has consistently made Day 2 at the Expanded Regionals in Fort Wayne, Daytona and San Jose, so I would definitely not be surprised to see it pop up again in Dallas.
I’ve also logged in quite a few games with Trevenant and Seismitoad lists similar to the ones posted by my fellow writers last week. The decks that rely on Item Lock are quite strong at the moment, but what I don’t particularly love is the fact that it seems like you’re always hoping your opponent won’t top deck out of the situation, and so it’s a play style I’m not very comfortable with.
The one deck I have definitely not tested too much is Wailord-EX, simply because I don’t own English Tropical Beaches, only Spanish ones, but I’m not allowed to play them for whatever reason. Therefore, I haven’t spent time testing the deck and this is exactly what prompted me to start the Expanded discussion the other day.
Muchas gracias once again for reading my article. I hope your testing for Dallas is going well, and I’ll update you guys once more before Dallas, with a much more closer look at the final decks and lists I’m considering for the event. Until next time!
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