Hello everyone! Isaiah Williams here for my first ever article. This article will be an comprehensive guide of the Expanded BDIF Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute PLF. First, let me start off by saying that I am very excited to be joining the SixPrizes writing team and am honored to be working alongside such a pantheon of players. A lot of you probably have heard of me, but in case you have not, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am currently finishing up my sophomore year at Stanford University where I major in Computer Science. I have been playing Pokémon TCG since 2010, where I started off as a senior. I have always been a pretty competitive player, but I really got involved in the TCG at the start of last season when I found myself with a bit of spare time and funds. Ever since then, I have been an active participant in the TCG scene with a few strong finishes at Regionals.
One that I am most proud of from this season is my 2nd place finish at the Expanded Dallas Regionals back in January. It was here that I played and formally introduced the well-known Expanded archetype Zoroark/Exeggcute. Now, I am here to walk you all through the deck from my perspective.
Genesis: The Birth of a BDIF
This is essentially the story of how the deck was created. It all started when we were desperately trying to figure out how to beat Zoroark in Expanded. My testing group and I had actually built a Gallade/Focus Sash/ Gardevoir deck that was later featured in an article by Kian Amini. It tested really well against Zoroark until we figured out something strange: if Zoroark just played Hex Maniac from Turn 2-onwards, then, most of the time, the Gallade deck would just run out of cards to play and lose. Even if we took 4 Prizes with 2 Gallades, we would still end up losing under Hex lock. Quickly, we realized that almost every match up in the Expanded format pre-Dallas Regionals played out like that. Playing Hex Maniac every turn pretty much beat everything.
My buddy Brian Ramirez then came to me saying that we should play 3 Exeggcute instead of 1 because then you could play Hex Maniac and bench them under Sudowoodo GRI lock, so now you only need 1 more Basic Pokémon to hit 210. I simply responded: “Why not just play 4?” Thus, Zoro/Eggs was born.
My testing group known as “All My Hexes Live in Texas” tested the deck against every match up. We found that most were extremely lopsided into Zoro/Eggs’ favor, making us very excited for Dallas. A few days leading up to the tournament we were testing the Night March match up, and it was giving us a hard time. A Joltik swinging for 210 is hard to deal with even for Zoroark. One of the main problems was that we could not Hex Maniac and N on the last turn of the game, and Night March just kept barely winning with enough cards from Teammates chain because of it. My buddy Jake Morgan says to me after the game: “What if we play Peeking Red Card?”
Obviously, this would not be the greatest addition to the deck, but then it hits me: Red Card!
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 36
1 Red Card
Energy – 4
Numbers: A Breakdown of the Optimal Counts
Even though the format is gone now, and this list will not really be played anymore, I feel like there is still a lot to learn from it. This is what I now see to be the optimal Zoro/Eggs list after testing and playing the deck through 4 different Regionals.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 37
2 Red Card
Energy – 4
I’m going to get into some of the debates on card counts for this deck, and then explain my opinion for why I made that choice.
I am pretty set on this being the most optimal arrangement of consistency cards for the deck. The debate has long been about which of these 3 cards should have a 3 count. In a format where your opponent is either benching a Sudowoodo or playing Hex Maniac almost every Turn 1, it seems more valuable to have early access to a Battle Compressor than a Shaymin-EX or Tapu Lele-GX. Both Sudowoodo and Hex Maniac limit the playability of Shaymin and Tapu Lele, but opening a Battle Compressor is almost always great (unless you get Ghetsis’d, but rarely do people Turn 1 Ghetsis anymore). Compressor also helps thin your deck, which is key to winning most matchups. Compressor gives you an out to T1 Brigette as well, without using Abilities, if you have a VS Seeker in your hand.
For the longest time, I was a big advocator for 2 Brigette, but finally I concede having a Level Ball to be more optimal. The flexibility and speed of a single Level Ball makes a great addition to the deck, especially considering that 2 Brigette rarely ever makes a difference over a single Brigette. One might worry about prizing the Brigette, but that does not happen often enough to warrant a 2nd Brigette and the deck can still set up nicely without even playing Brigette at all in a game. Not to mention: the value gained from having the increased odds that Level Ball gives you of pulling off a turn 1 where you bench two Zorua and play Hex Maniac.
I think that Special Charge provides an immense amount of value in the deck, especially if you are a player who often uses Exeggutor. First of all, Special Charge makes multiple matchups from sketchy 50/50s to clearly favorable. These matchups would be things like Durant, Groudon, Sableye/Garbodor, and anything that tries to discard your Energy. Besides the obvious matchups where Special Charge would be useful, it allows you to play way more flexibly with energy attachments and retreating Pokémon. Since you know that between 4 Puzzles and Special Charge, it is very unlikely that you will run out of DCE, you can play riskier which often times results in stronger leads.
Also, in games where you use Exeggutor one or more times, Special Charge can provide a lot of ease in getting that necessary energy to attack with Exeggutor and still having the energy to finish the game with Zoroark-GX. Another way to look at Special Charge is also as a 5th Puzzle.
Think back to how many times you have Double Puzzled for a 1 of DCE and something else so you can attack. Now, you can use that extra slot for something to increase your lead instead of a DCE, given the surplus of energy in your deck.
Mind Jack Zoroark is a staple of the Zoro/Eggs archetype. It is so important in the mirror match to trade a 1 Prize Attacker that only requires a single attachment for a 2 prize Zoroark-GX. It, along with Exeggutor, is what gives you a good chance of beating the mirror match going 2nd and playing from behind. This is not even considering the benefits in specific matchups you find from the stand in ability. Foul Play, as an alternative, is a good addition to the deck, but I would not play it over the Zoroark BKT. (This may change depending on the meta, for example, in a meta overrun by Buzzwole like the FLI meta.)
One Field Blower is optimal in Zoro/Eggs, and adding a 2nd provides little value. The only matchup where it is important is the Drampa Garb matchup, and oftentimes, you do not access the Field Blower through drawing ,but through compressor and double puzzle. Having 2 does increase your odds of drawing into it, but it is rarely relevant. Most of the time, that matchup is decided by early game momentum alone anyway.
Other possible techs to include (but I would not recommend):
Muscle Band: Allows you to hit for 30 with Exeggutor for two-shots on 60 HP basics and 1 shots on things like Froakie. Allows you to win Exeggutor wars.
Bent Spoon: A tech for the Drampa/Garb matchup. A Drampa cannot Righteous Edge off a DCE if you have bent spoon attached. Also, a Zoroark with Bent Spoon attached to it can trade under a Shadow Stitching lock. Can prevent an Oricorio from KO’ing a Pokémon.
Oricorio: Can take easy prizes on Basics and Eggs in the mirror. Can hit a Buzzwole for 120 and is very difficult for them to KO back. Can swing the Night March matchup pretty hard into your favor.
Isaiah’s Guide to Using Exeggutor Properly
“How do we break Hex Maniac lock in the mirror?” This was a question that plagued my testing group for weeks leading up to Costa Mesa Regionals. It finally hit us: we just play Exeggutor. Exeggutor can attack for a single colorless Energy, which we can satisfy easily, and we already play 4 Exeggcute. It is only natural. Little did we know that it would serve so many other purposes than just in the mirror match.
The idea here is that since we already have Eggs on the bench from how the matchup plays out naturally, it will be easy to get out an Exeggutor off of a Colress under Hex lock. We know that the opposing Zoroark player will KO the Exeggutor because it only has 100 HP. However, at this point, taking Prize cards is not really the priority. We first use Blockade to stop our opponent from playing Hex Maniac during their next turn. Going back into our turn, it makes it very easy for us to establish a board state since we now have access to Abilities like Trade, Set Up, and Wonder Tag.
Because of the explosiveness of the deck, we can easily set up a return 1HKO paired with Red Card and Hex Maniac on our opponent’s Zoroark-GX. Even if our opponent is up in Prize cards at this point, it does not matter much, because now our opponent is the one who cannot use Abilities. We trade Prize cards for board position and priority. In this matchup, this is often a trade that ends up being very favorable for the player with an Exeggutor.
The value Exeggutor provides in this matchup was enough to almost completely push this deck out of the meta, which should attest to its strength. Here, a Choice-Banded Exeggutor 4 shots a Wailord. (10+30)*2*4 = 320, which is more than enough to kill a Wailord. One might think a 4 shot is not optimal, but a quick look at any Wailord list will show how powerful it is when they cannot play a third of their deck (the Supporters). The rest of your resources go toward preventing the Wailord player from playing Tropical Beach or having Items in their hand. This becomes easy with Field Blower, counter Stadiums, and especially Ghetsis. The combo of Blockade and Ghetsis is what makes Wailord such a favorable matchup.
Exeggutor really shines in this match up. Normally a single Primal Groudon-EX would be a huge amount of trouble for a Zoroark deck because once they set up a Groudon, he could easily take 4 Prizes before being stopped. With Exeggutor, however, you can nicely set up a two shot with Zoroark and Exeggutor. A Choice Banded Exeggutor does 80 damage to a Groudon, and then you can finish it off with a Riotous Beating for 180. In that turn you Blockade, you can also Red Card + Ghetsis the Groudon player so they are unlikely to have helpful cards in the following turn. Exeggutor really swings this matchup from unfavorable to favorable.
Exeggutor really seals the deal on this being a favorable matchup for Zoroark. Red Card being an Item to shuffle the cards that Sylveon searches for already makes it a good match. One of the main appeals of Sylveon in Expanded is that Zoroark cannot one-shot Sylveon given that Sylveon has 200 HP with -20 resistance to Dark Pokémon, and Zoroark-GX caps out at 210 damage with a full bench and Choice Band. Sylveon surviving with that 10 HP could be a real problem if it weren’t for Exeggutor. To completely destroy this strategy, you can play Red Card and use Blockade on a Sylveon for 10. In most circumstances, because Sylveon cannot play Items and already only has 5 cards in hand from Red Card, they will only be able to use Magical Ribbon to search for cards during their turn. This makes it extremely easy to retreat to Zoroark-GX, hopefully Red Card again, and take the KO.
Exeggutor actually provides a lot of value in this match up. One cool trick that people will often not expect: if you blockade a Gallade, the Gallade cannot KO the Exeggutor. They can only hit it for 60 damage. This can be used as a stalling tactic in the scenario where you need to set up your board more and a Gardevoir player is pressuring you with an early Gallade. Another useful trick: if you hit a Gardevoir with a Zoroark-GX for max damage, because of Resistance it will leave the Gardevoir with 40 HP. If only there were a way to do 40 damage and apply disruption, then maybe the 2 shot would seem much less intimidating…luckily, Exeggutor with a Choice Band does exactly 40! This makes your two-shot on a Gardevoir much more threatening.
If you’ve played the Pokémon TCG for any amount of time, then I am sure you have felt the pain of whiffing a crucial card for your turn. Even in a deck as consistent and speedy as Zoro/Eggs, this still happens from time to time. Well an early Exeggutor can stall for a turn by playing Guzma on a benched Pokémon that cannot retreat or attack (think Octillery or Garbodor with no Float Stone). Most of the time, this is a safe play to make because your opponent cannot play Supporters to try to draw into a Float Stone, and they cannot play Guzma to switch out of it. Unless your opponent was just luckily holding the Float Stone, then you just bought yourself a turn to try to hit the card you need. And, do not be afraid to do this for multiple turns if you need to in the late game. Using Blockade puts your opponent in a temporary topdeck mode, which is a very powerful stall tool.
Exeggutor vs the Clock
Another benefit of Exeggutor is its ability to take advantage of the rules of official tournament play. In a series of 3 with only 50 minutes, you can win game 1, and if there is not much time left in the set, you can “legally stall” by just using Blockade every turn from turn 2. This puts your opponent in a position where they just cannot win a Game 2 fast enough, locking up your Game 1 win as a set win. This can also be done in the reverse to force ties in tournament play. Say that you have no way of winning the game, and your opponent needs take 2 Prizes on the last turn of time to win the series. You can just retreat into Exeggutor and blockade. Now, your opponent cannot Guzma around the 1 Prize attacker and there is no way for them to take 2 Prizes in that one turn.
Proverb: A Lesson to Live By
Thin. Thin. Thin!
The most important part of playing this deck, and what really separates the good Zoro/Eggs players from the great ones, is your ability to thin your deck. If you thin your deck properly, then when you get red carded, when you get Garb locked, when you get Glaceon locked, when you face any type of disruption: you will draw out of it. The deck is built to do so. This is a big part of the reason I love three Battle Compressor in the deck. Thinning also comes to knowing when to Propagate and Trade or when to Trade a card in your hand. I have created a priority list in deciding what to discard when you Battle Compressor. This list is generally the correct play in my opinion, but of course there are scenarios where you might want to deviate.
Mirror Match: 50/50
This matchup is probably one of the most skill-intensive, but also luck based matchups I have seen in a long time. The key to winning this one is to be the first person to play Hex Maniac, and continue to play Hex Maniac for the following turns. Normally, the winner of this series is the player who set up their board state and deck counts with thinning to be able to respond to knockouts and disruption the best. Zoroark BKT and Exeggcute really shine in this matchup. You should be consistently thinking about what you opponent could do next turn and what can you can do this turn to prepare for it.
This means things like Wonder Tagging for a Supporter preemptively in preparation for a Hex Maniac, or benching an Exeggcute with a DCE to prepare for Blockade if you know you cannot respond to a Red Card+Hex maniac in your following turn. If you plan for everything correctly, play Hex more times than your opponent, and have a little luck, you should be able to beat most mirror matches.
A lot of people will probably disagree with me on this one, but this match up is very even, but tempo based. Your goal in this matchup should be to try to control their hand and board state with Red Card and Ghetsis. In reality, you only need to attack 3 times on 3 GXs to win this game, and often times that first KO is given to you for free due to your speed. That means for the last 4 Prizes, you just need to Colress into a KO under Garb Lock once, and then hit Field Blower/Hex Maniac into a KO once. And, of course, this is all assuming you just did not lock them out of the game with your early Red Card+Ghetsis. When looking at the matchup in this manner, it becomes a lot less threatening, leading to the 50-50 matchup.
I really dislike this matchup because it is very reliant on the opening coin flip. Whoever goes first has a clear advantage. If you are the Zoroark player, then you get to Turn 1 Hex to prevent the glaceon lock for another turn. If you are the Glaceon player, then you get the T1 lock to prevent Zoroark from setting up. On both sides, the player can do things to still win going 2nd, however, it relies heavily on variance. Really, just play Hex Turn 1 when you go first and hope your opponent misses the Turn 1 Glaceon.
Other Zoroark Variants: 70/30
This is the matchup that the deck was originally created for. You take easy 1HKOs on all of their Pokémon while locking them with your Hex Maniac. Most of the time, you win these games 6-0 or 4-0 because they just cannot set up under your constant Hex Maniac.
Night March: 50/50 – 65/35
This matchup is played a lot like the Zoroark matchup is, especially since they often play their own Zoroark-GX. The only difference is that Night March has 1 Prize attackers that can 1HKO you. You want to keep playing Hex Maniac until your opponent runs out of steam. The reason I say this matchup is 50-50 is because Night March can Teammates chain against you so that they constantly take 1HKO, allowing them to steal games. One way to make it favorable for you is by playing Oricorio. Once Oricorio is in the equation, it becomes extremely hard for Night March to win because they have to deal with you taking multi-Prize card KOs while under Hex Maniac and only taking one prize themselves.
The only reason that Trevenant should ever take a game from you is if they get Turn 1 lock and your hand is not very playable. Unfortunately, given the item count of the Zoro/Eggs list, this happens more times than we would probably like, but the matchup is still very favorable. You should take this game slow by staggering your Zoruas so that they do not kill all your Zoroark-GX at once with Espeon-EX. You should try to thin your deck a lot on Turn 1 to increase your odds of drawing cards you can play. Hex into Red Card is a strong combo against Trevenant because normally their deck is not super consistent.
If you see that the game is reaching a point where they can, in fact, KO all of your Zorua in play with an Espeon, try stacking DCE on a Tapu Lele with a Choice Band, so you can potentially KO the Espeon in one hit with Tapu Lele and win the game.
In this matchup, you have to do something that may seem counter intuitive. You should actually keep trading a single Exeggcute until you have double Puzzle in your hand and 1 or 2 DCE. This way, you can constantly attach DCE when they discard them with Enhanced Hammer or Jirachi. Trading may seem like a bad idea, but actually, as long as you keep your bench size at 4 or below, you do not lose much by Trading. Since you are discarding an egg, that does not change the count of playable cards on your side, and when Durant is about to win the game, you can just propagate all of your eggs back into your hand and Colress to reshuffle your ~20 card hand back into your deck.
This strategy keeps the durant player from milling your Puzzles (because they were in your hand), allows you easy access to your Puzzles, and allows you to refresh your deck size at your leisure. The reason this matchup varies from 50/50 – 80/20 is a dependance on whether you play Special Charge or not. If you play Special Charge, you should win almost every time—otherwise things can get a bit tricky once your DCE count runs low, but the matchup is very winnable either way.
This is one of my favorite matchups to play. Here, you actually want to bench a Shaymin as quickly as you can and get a Choice Band on it. The trick is to keep playing Hex Maniac and Sky Return a Gardevoir for 60 into a 0 energy Zoroark-GX. Under Hex Lock, it is almost impossible for the Gardevoir player to get enough energies to 1HKO. At this point, you just fill your bench, and then attach the DCE and Choice Band to your Zoroark for the KO. Repeat this until match slip is signed. See the Exeggutor Guide for additional tips.
For the following matchups, see the Exeggutor Guide from earlier, as it’s the key to beating all of these decks.
Revelations: Zoro/Eggs in the Post-FLI Meta
Predictions for Roanoke Regionals
If you are going to this weekend’s Regionals, then you definitely need some way to deal with Buzzwole and its new tricks, along with some way to deal with Zoro/Eggs. In my opinion, the best way to accomplish this is by playing a modified Zoro./ggs. I would expect you to play against 2-4 Zoro/Eggs and 2-4 Buzzwole.
Another deck that should be on your radar, specifically for this tournament, is Night March. If you have noticed a trend from the past, in Expanded events where there is uncertainty due to a new set, Night March tends to be a deck that good players fall back on.
Given that Night March has a pretty nice Buzzwole matchup due to the Psychic weakness, and a decent Zoro/Eggs matchup given that most list have dropped Oricorio, I would not be surprised to see a resurgence. I also expect to see a bit more Trevenant. Trevenant players have begun to feel more confident in the Zoroark matchup, and Trevenant has a naturally good matchup against Buzzwole. As long as you play the matchup correctly, Trevenant should not be a problem for Zoroark.
As a Zoro/Eggs player, I would not be worried about facing a Malamar.dec because Malamar relies on Abilities, and Zoro/Eggs is best at stopping just that. Everything else in the meta should play out fairly similarly as described by this article. Expanded has a huge amount of cards, and from my experience, people normally like to have a bit of fun with it. You should be ready for everything, especially considering it is the end of the season.
Why Buzzwole is a Threat
Buzzwole has been in expanded pre-Forbidden Light, and Zoro/Eggs dealt with it fine. Why would this new Buzzwole be any different? The shining star for Buzzwole in expanded right now is Beast Ring. This card, especially in Expanded, is amazing for Buzzwole, given its ease of access due to Korrina. The game plan for Buzzwole against Zoro/Eggs, is to turn 1 Wide Lens and kill two Zorua. Then, for the sake of this scenario, let’s say you respond with an 1HKO, which is not too unlikely for Zoroark. They then Korrina for Beast Ring, setting up a 2nd Buzzwole-GX. If, somehow, on that same turn, they access a 2nd Beast Ring, they now have two powered up Buzzwole-GX with only 4 Prize cards remaining. This, in a sense, is a checkmate. They need so little to be able to 1HKO 2 GX Pokémon at this point, and you need so many cards to be able to respond every time they do.
This scenario is only including the use of the card beast ring. When we factor in the new Baby Buzzwole, and its potential to 1HKO a Zoroark-GX, as a non-GX, along with the additional damage given to Jet Punch by Diancie and Beast Energy, we quickly see why this deck might be a problem for Zoro/Eggs. However, have no fear, because there are things we can do. Here are some techs to help fight back:
Mr. Mime is almost a must for Zoro/Eggs going into Roanoke. Being able to drop Mime on your first turn with a Brigette or Level Ball will give you such an advantage in knowing that your opponent will only be hitting your Active Pokémon for damage. In a deck with multiple Fighting-weak 60 HP Pokémon and 30 HP Pokémon, a Wide Lens Buzzwole-GX becomes a huge threat. Mr. Mime fixes that issue. This addition could end up saving you multiple Prize cards over the course of the game. In match ups where he is not needed, he can easily be Traded away or saved as an extra Pokémon to bench depending on the match up.
This guy could provide the pressure in the Buzzwole matchup necessary to swing it back to Zoro/Eggs’ favor. Much like in the Standard, Mewtwo is a high damage threat to Buzzwole-GX that cannot be easily dealt with. If your opponent decides to beast ring to a Buzzwole, Mewtwo could hit into that Buzzwole for high damage pressure. In a deck like Zoro/Eggs, one could even play a card like a one-of PlusPower that can be recycled with Puzzles to hit 1HKO on 2 Energy Buzzwoles with Mewtwo and Choice Band.
Oricorio could be a great re-addition to Zoro/Eggs in the coming meta. Much like in Standard, Oricorio’s 2nd attack with a Choice Band does 120 damage to Buzzwoles. Given its resistance to Fighting, it is almost impossible for Buzzwole-GX to 1HKO a Oricorio unless they decide to attack it with one of their 3 Energy attacks. This requires your opponent using a lot of resources to deal with a 1 Prize attacker that you can easily recycle.
An added benefit of this card is that, given our prediction of an increase in Night March, Oricorio could provide the dual effect of countering both Night March and Buzzwole, since Night March uses a sequence of low HP attackers, but discards a lot of Pokémon. Oricorio even has uses in the mirror to snipe Eggs for quick, easy prizes.
This card might also be a must for Zoro/Eggs going into Roanoke. Foul Play can copy Buzzwole’s 2nd attack with a Choice Band for an 1HKO or copy its GX attack early in the game for an 1HKO. As a one prize attacker, he provides a tremendous amount of pressure in the early game against Buzzwole.
Mewtwo-EX could be a card we see come back in Roanoke as an easy counter to Buzzwole. For a DCE and a Choice Band, Mewtwo-EX can use X-Ball to 1HKO a 2 Energy Buzzwole-GX. Much like with the Mewtwo EVO, a deck like Zoro/Eggs could play a PlusPower so that a combination of Mewtwo-EX, Choice Band, and DCE can 1HKO a 1 Energy Buzzwole- GX.
Some combination, depending on your play style, should be sufficient to at least bring Zoro/Eggs matchup against the FLI Buzzwole deck to a 50-50. Below, I’ve included a list for FLI Zoro/Eggs that has an even Buzzwole matchup, while still including the cards that are fundamental to the deck.
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 35
1 Red Card
Energy – 4
Zoro/Eggs is a ridiculously strong deck with a high skill cap. While the new additions to Buzzwole prove challenging for Zoro/Eggs, it will not push it out of the meta by any means. I am very excited to see how the deck is able to stack up against this new set at Roanoke Regionals. While Zoro/Eggs does have a target on its back, its sheer power is still going to be enough to carry it to the top tables.
Thank you guys for reading through my very first article! I had a lot to say about the deck after having piloted it for so long, so I hope you enjoyed it. If you ever see me around, feel free to say hi or ask me any questions you may have! Good luck to all you players either playing Zoro/Eggs or trying to figure out how to play against it. Until next time!
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