Hey SixPrizes readers! I am back again with another article, and today we will be switching things up by taking a look at the Expanded Format! Despite competing in Dallas Regionals just a month ago, I have played a ton of the Standard format recently so it feels like an eternity. Heading into Costa Mesa, Zoroark-GX decks are clearly somewhat dominant, and will be the most popular decks at the tournament. It reached pretty insane numbers in San Jose and Dallas, both in terms of numbers and success, and I expect that to be the case this weekend more than ever.
This has lead me to only test decks that I consider to have a positive Zoroark matchup, which isn’t a long list in the first place, and becomes even more difficult due to the different versions of the deck. I have been liking Drampa-GX/Garbodor and Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute the most, so that’s what we will be taking a look at today. Without further ado, let’s go Berserk with Drampa.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 36
Energy – 9
As I mentioned before, this is the exact list that I used to top eight Dallas Regionals with. That being said, I went over the list a bunch in my last article, so I want to focus on why I have kept the list the same post Ultra Prism. Let’s take a look at a few cards I thought about adding, a few cards I am still considering adding, and a couple of “cuts” in the deck.
Cynthia is a great card, and certainly a good addition to most decks in the standard format, but I don’t think it has a place in most Expanded format decks. Colress is a great “shuffle draw” supporter that works very well in most decks due to Sky Field, and it simply outclasses Cynthia. In slower decks, such as Drampa-GX/Garbodor, N is a very important tool for outlasting the opponent. Even if I am only getting a few cards off the N, severely reducing my opponent’s hand size is absolutely crucial in a lot of situations. I do have a Colress in the deck, which is what I considered removing for Cynthia when Ultra Prism came out, but Colress often finds six or more cards anyways. Cynthia is certainly a better turn one supporter than Colress, but that difference will hardly ever come into play.
While nothing in Ultra Prism made Battle Compressor a better inclusion in the deck, it is a card that is played in quite a few Expanded decks to increase consistency, so I figured I should give it a try. The results were not very surprising at all, actually. Whenever I drew the Battle Compressor early, it was fantastic for giving me access to specific supporter cards. Whenever I drew it later in the game, I could use it to thin useless cards such as utility Pokémon or Ultra Ball. The difference in these two uses was pretty significant, finding it early in the game made the card look amazing, but it was borderline useless further into the game. Being only able to fit one is what made this issue occur of course, and I couldn’t justify including more than the one copy, so I decided to just scrap the idea.
This is the glorious counter to that mean whale Pokémon we have seen popping up at Expanded events, Wailord-EX. Wailord is an absolute autoloss without having Trubbish NVI, which is why I decided to include the one copy of that Trubbish at Dallas. Even with the Trubbish, I would have to say the matchup is unfavorable. The Trubbish even giving me a chance in the matchup, and providing an additional recovery tool in other situations, made it an easy inclusion in the list. If I decided to include the Bunnelby, I would absolutely remove the Trubbish for a fourth copy of Trubbish PLS. Having the option to Tool Drop against Night March for just one Psychic Energy is very nice, as they will occasionally put Dimension Valley into play for you. On the matter of Bunnelby, it is a decision that I would have to make the night before the tournament, as it really only comes down to the popularity of Wailord decks. Sure, it can occasionally steal a game with Burrow, or help your chances of a win with Rototiller, but the frequency of these plays is very low.
Originally, I was convinced that Dowsing Machine would by far and away be the superior Ace Spec because of the nature of this deck. In most games, you are just looking to wear down the opponent and outlast them in a very grindy fashion. Being able to get back crucial resources such as Parallel City or VS Seeker can make a huge difference at the end of the game, and can sometimes result in a win instead of a loss.
This was my thinking headed into Dallas, and while I don’t think I was wrong, my use of Dowsing Machine was extremely minimal. I used it for Parallel City once or twice which was cool and all, but I am not convinced that those situations effected the result of the match. Dowsing Machine is very nice against Night March because it helps reuse Oricorio, which is the key to winning that matchup. Other than that, their really isn’t any specific matchup where I would label one of these Ace Specs as strictly better than the other. Computer Search is obviously better in the opening hand, as not only is Dowsing Machine absolutely useless at that point, but it usually leads to a very smooth start.
This is a card I had in my deck the night before Dallas, and didn’t remove it until nearly the last possible second. It was great against Night March, but I hadn’t done much testing overall with it in the deck, which lead to me removing it to increase the consistency of the deck. The Seismitoad-ex isn’t particularly strong against any popular deck, but it is just a very nice attacker to have in the early game. Previously Tauros-GX served this purpose, and while it served it’s purpose most of the time, it sometimes felt like a very weak play. Seismitoad-EX also slows down the game quite a bit, especially if Garbotoxin is online, which gives you time to get energy on your field. Even though Seismitoad-EX doesn’t do a whole lot of damage, doing a mere sixty per turn to a GX is pretty solid when your opponent is likely doing nothing of relevance. Acerola can heal the Seismitoad if the opponent starts to slowly poke away at it, which is a huge selling point of the Seismitoad for me.
You’re probably wondering why the card isn’t a guaranteed inclusion after all of the positive things I just said about it. First of all, the deck is a very tight list that doesn’t have room for a bunch of different tech Pokémon, which makes it hard to fit in the deck without lowering consistency. In addition to this, Seismitoad-EX is really only a great attacker in the early game or in combination with an N, which makes it somewhat hard to use. At the beginning of the game, it is difficult to attack with anything immediately due to Brigette taking up your first turn in most games.
Later in the game, if you are very behind in the game and N your opponent to two cards, it is usually better to try and sweep with Trashlanche than attempting to Quaking Punch them out of the game. While Quaking Punch does limit their options short term, it gives them a ton of time to peace together their final KO because of how little pressure is being applied to them. Lastly, Pokémon Ranger was pretty popular in Dallas, and while I think it should be removed from most decks, it will likely see some play in Costa Mesa.
This is certainly a key tool for beating Night March, but the matchup likely isn’t super negative if you replace it with a Seismitoad-EX. Oricorio has minimal effects in games against decks other than Night March, but can occasionally take a game winning KO with Supernatural Dance or setup a Berserk KO on an important Pokémon. I would only remove the Oricorio if I expected Night March to not be very popular, which is my current theory headed into Costa Mesa. Night March struggles vs most Zoroark decks, and absolutely loses to the Drampa/Garbodor list that my friends and I popularized at Dallas, which should be enough to scare most people off it.
This is definitely a nice card to have in the deck, as it makes it easier to find when you need it, and keeps your tool count for Garbodor higher. I never hesitate to put a Choice Band on my Garbodor because you won’t ever get decked out because of it like you sometimes do in standard. VS Seeker and Dowsing Machine increases the number of times you can Guzma by a decent amount, which will allow you to take your six prizes before being decked out.
In addition to this, the list plays Field Blower, which allows you to remove the Choice Band from Garbodor and replace it with a Float Stone. Choice Band is nice when doing “poke damage” with Horn Attack or Righteous Edge, or taking a KO with Berserk or Trashlanche, which definitely makes it an important card in the deck. The idea of removing one hurts, despite Dowsing Machine being in the deck, so a pretty impactful card would have to catch my attention in order for me to justify this removal. The fourth Choice Band is just one of the only cards in the deck that I don’t feel is absolutely necessary.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 36
1 Red Card
Energy – 4
This may seem like a lot of Exeggcutes, but they are absolutely necessary for the strategy of the deck. Using Zoroark to consistently deal 180+ damage and use Hex Maniac every turn is what the deck aims to do, and it does that a scary amount of the time. Exeggcutes allow you easy access to multiple basic Pokémon to put onto your bench, which lets you take knockouts with ease. Having easy access to these basic Pokémon is nice because you can follow things up with a Hex Maniac or Ghetsis to prevent the opponent from having a good response. In addition to this, Exeggcutes allow for a very smooth early game because you can use Computer Search and Ultra Ball for free. Battle Compressor is what makes these Exeggcutes so strong in the early game, as you can dump them to the discard on turn one.
Despite having VS Seeker and Puzzle of Time in the deck, having two copies of this card is still a fantastic idea that I consider to be a necessity for the deck. Having two prevents the catastrophe of prizing the only one you play and losing because of it, which always something I try to avoid. Previously, Hex Maniac is not a card I would have labeled as absolutely crucial due to it just being a matchup specific utility supporter. However, Hex Maniac is now one of, if not the best, answers Zoroark-GX available.
In any given Zoroark mirror match, the only real way to deny the opponent a KO is through the use of Hex Maniac. On turns two and three, one player can simply dominate the other by KOing basic Pokémon and using Hex Maniac on consecutive turns. This makes prizing your single Hex Maniac or not being able to find it in the mirror match a horrendous occurrence that usually results in a loss. Long story short, Hex Maniac is the key to Zoroark-GX mirror matches.
When playing with this deck, Battle Compressor stood out as a card I almost always had a use for. Not only was it great for discarding Exeggcutes and increasing consistency, but it helped to thin my deck of useless cards in the mid to late game. I increased the count of this card from two to three because of how smooth it makes the early game, I really feel like I am in a great spot when I turn one Brigette and find a Battle Compressor on the first turn or two.
Evosoda is yet another consistency card that I added to be as fast and consistent as possible . Consistency has always been king, and I feel that is especially the case in the current Expanded format. Having a clunky list that has too many techs is not going to win the mirror match, so I focused on consistency by adding this Evosoda and a third copy of Battle Compressor. Getting the strongest board possible on turn two and using Hex Maniac as much as possible are two of the most important steps in the mirror match.
Everyone used to laugh at this card and now it is played in the most dominant Expanded archetype! I find that quite amusing, but despite the card being a joke in the past, it is a great tech in current Zoroark-GX decks. It actually serves a variety of purposes, and pairs really well with a couple cards in the deck. Red Card can allow you to disrupt the opponent’s hand on the same turn that you play another supporter. This can go very well with Ghetsis, Hex Maniac, or just a Colress to beef up your hand. Using Red Card in combination with Hex Maniac is a popular strategy in the mirror match, and I have to say that I am a fan of it. It can frequently result in the opponent whiffing a solid response for the turn, especially if you get the combo off early and they haven’t had time to thin their deck efficiently.
This is just a consistency boost and is a bit excessive, but using Brigette on turn one is pretty important. The Tapu Lele-GX is also an additional basic Pokémon to toss onto your bench, which is important for taking knockouts with Zoroark-GX. I might remove the third Battle Compressor for this card, just so I don’t lose any substance from the deck, and moving around the consistency card counts could improve the early game of the deck. Having the Tapu Lele-GX makes you weaker to Hex Maniac, but improves your resistance to Ghetsis, so both of them have their desirable qualities in that regard.
This card is one of my favorite cards to draw on turn two, and it is honestly a shame that I couldn’t pack the deck with three of these to boost my consistency through the roof. Evosoda is a great consistency card that allows for some pretty explosive second turns following a turn one Brigette, which is the optimal start for the deck.
That is all for today guys! I hope you enjoyed hearing my thoughts on the best two decks in Expanded at the moment. Hopefully you can try one of these decks out at Costa Mesa, or dominate a local League Cup if you aren’t traveling this weekend. I am very excited to compete again, as I have been on somewhat of a hot streak recently and I hope to carry that into upcoming weekends. I will be at Costa Mesa, Charlotte, and Portland Regionals, so if you happen to be there, feel free to come up and say hi!
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