Shifting Sands

Profiling the Shift to Expanded with Lost Thunder in Gardevoir-GX and Archie’s Blastoise

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another article. The meta has been absolutely crazy in both realms: Standard and Expanded, as Lost Thunder has greatly impacted what’s considered top tier decks. Standard has been completely flipped on its head by the resurgence of broken Stage 2 decks, and I expect Expanded to be completely overrun by broken combos as well. Just two weeks ago, we saw the rise of the new “Broken Gardevoir,” coupled with Swampert CES, Solgaleo-GX, and Alolan Ninetales-GX LOT. I have no doubt that a new Expanded deck will take over the world in these coming weeks leading up to Anaheim, nor do I doubt the existence of an anti-meta secret waiting to be revealed there as well.

As the last major Expanded tournament was Portland, there hasn’t been much experimentation with Lost Thunder in Expanded. With a set so large, there’s bound to be at least some cards that make their way into decks or create their own. The main decks on my mind are Lost March, Unown HAND/DAMAGE combo decks, and an updated Gardevoir-GX list. These are the decks that are purely introduced or greatly revamped with the introduction of Lost Thunder.

In today’s article, I plan on looking at an ArchieStoise list, updating a Gardevoir-GX list from pre-LOT to include the all-powerful Alolan Ninetales-GX, and talking about Lost March. These are the three decks I think will make an impact at Anaheim should there be people playing them. On the plus side, these dodge the Mill-Control-Combo triangle that’s going to come about as a result of other decks.

Meta Overview

Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX looks to be a main contender in Lost Thunder Expanded. It gains as many tools as those used against it: Faba and Girafarig. I think Faba will make its way into the list for any mirror matches or permanent removal, but I’m unsure about Girafarig. Moving on, Primal Groudon may make a resurgence because of Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX. Joe Sanchez had success in Portland, and I’d be unsurprised for more success in the next West Coast city. The main barrier to Primal Groudon is Tropical Beach, as most players won’t have access to the full set that the deck requires.

ArchieStoise, another pre-LOT deck, remains well in contention for Anaheim. With Garbotoxin decks becoming worse, Deluge only becomes stronger. The deck also has the capabilities of beating both EX/GX decks and single Prizers. Articuno ROS is honestly the main reason the deck is playable, as without it the deck fails to trade favorably against small Pokémon or steal games with heads flips. Against Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX, it should be able to win with an adapted list. I’ll get more into that later.

The Mill-Control-Combo triangle is weird. Combo is incredibly strong because it can win the game as early as T2 or T3 (with the right luck). However, the deck is incredibly fragile. Both decks struggle/cannot deal with Alolan Muk SUM because it shuts off either Unown’s Ability. Unlike Garbotoxin, there isn’t an easy counter in Field Blower either. The one saving grace for Combo is that many decks don’t have the space nor care enough to include the direct counter. Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX is the only deck that comes to mind that would readily include it anyway. Other decks, without an easy Ditto p, will have less leniency in including Alolan Muk.

Mill decks, like Durant NVI, may make a resurgence to counter these decks. Durant especially should be able to mill for at least 2-3 turns, hitting approximately 6-12 cards, likely hitting away an important combo piece. I don’t think these decks can manage to fight against other decks, though. Tons of decks have the capabilities to trade Prizes efficiently in this fast format. These mill decks have their own problems.

What I predict will happen is that many people will resort to the usual Expanded deck from past. The off-base strategies like mill, control, combo, or whatever are typically ignored because they defy the usual trend of Pokémon. Someone on the fence about a deck won’t pick up one of these archetypes. Shock Lock, albeit a strong deck, will never win a tournament because not enough people are playing it. The same will likely happen with these other decks. The more mainstream a concept is, the more likely someone will play it.

Archie’s Blastoise

Pokémon (15)

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Exeggcute PLB

2 Tapu Lele-GX

2 Articuno ROS 17

2 Keldeo-EX

1 Volcanion p

1 Wishiwashi-GX

2 Blastoise PLB

1 Kingdra-GX

Trainer (35)

2 Archie’s Ace in the Hole

1 Faba

1 Fisherman

1 Guzma

1 N

1 Professor Juniper


4 Battle Compressor

4 Order Pad

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball DEX 102

4 VS Seeker

1 Field Blower


1 Float Stone

1 Muscle Band


1 Computer Search

Energy (10)

10 W


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 15

* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 2 Exeggcute PLB 102
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 2 Articuno ROS 17
* 2 Keldeo-EX BCR 142
* 1 Volcanion p FLI 31
* 1 Wishiwashi-GX GRI 38
* 2 Blastoise PLB 16
* 1 Kingdra-GX DRM 18

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Professor Juniper PLF 116
* 4 Superior Energy Retrieval PLF 103
* 4 Ultra Ball DEX 102
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 1 Muscle Band XY 121
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 1 N 101
* 1 Fisherman HS 92
* 2 Archie’s Ace in the Hole PRC 157
* 4 Order Pad UPR 131
* 4 Trainers’ Mail AOR 100
* 1 Faba LOT 173

##Energy - 10

* 10 W Energy HS 117

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

I think this list is best optimized for dealing with the current meta, and is what I would play if Anaheim was tomorrow. The deck is inherently strong and has very few counters in the field. It has the capability to Prize trade efficiently against almost everything, and is faster than almost everything. I’ll go over the specific techs that I find important in this meta, as well as the unsung heroes of the list.


Wishiwashi-GX is one of my favorite cards in the list. It’s a loaded gun that conserves Energy at the same time. Tired of getting all of your Energy removed by Articuno-GX? Or leaving it on a worthless attacker that would only do 120 damage? Have no fear! Simply use the GX attack and spread it across Pokémon on your Bench. Unlike Kingdra-GX, it’s possible to take a big KO with Wishiwashi-GX on the first or second turn of the game. Kingdra-GX is the strong late-game sweeper, but it’s impossible to use T1 and unlikely on T2. Wishiwashi-GX is portable, basically.

Wishiwashi-GX’s second attack is very important against Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX. By constantly threatening to 2HKO Seismitoad-EX while discarding their Energy, they have to continuously Acerola and Quaking Punch. Otherwise, you can use Superior Energy Retrieval to recover your lost Energy. Eventually, they’ll also have to use Oranguru UPR to shuffle in their Double Colorless. Wishiwashi-GX puts on more pressure than other Pokémon in the deck, specifically Keldeo-EX. Good luck getting out Kingdra-GX under Quaking Punch.

The unhighlighted aspect of Wishiwashi-GX is its addition of a GX to the deck. Maelstrom-GX is irrelevant. The main reason why I find Wishiwashi-GX and Palkia-GX to be contenders is because they have a powerful GX attack. Of the two, Wishiwashi-GX is preferable at the moment because of its capability to redistribute Energy and function as a niche attacker against Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX. It’s also bulkier than Palkia-GX with Lightning Weakness, so alternating typing is covered too.

Volcanion p

The main part of Volcanion p to be emphasized is the 20 damage snipe across the Bench. This is incredibly useful in setting up Articuno kills on pesky 70-120 HP Pokémon. Tri Edge knockouts come much easier with it, going from 87.5% for at least one heads, 50% for at least two, and 12.5% for all three. These drastic 37.5% increases are well worth the inclusion for tight games.


pokebeach.comFisherman is one of the unsung heroes of this deck that originally made its way out of my Portland list (that Colter Decker played), but has since returned because of its utility against Item lock. Simply put, it’s incredibly efficient. One Fisherman and the next attacker is ready to go! There’s no requirement to dig for more Energy. Long term, it removes the effects of variance from the deck. You may have an opening hand with 2 Super Energy Retrieval and run out of Energy later in the game. This is solved with Fisherman!


Faba is the easy counter to Garbotoxin. My original list ran 2 Field Blower, but I’ve realized that Faba is the way to go. It not only provides good coverage against Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX, but gives an extra 5 outs to Garbotoxin rather than the 1-of a second Field Blower. This greatly increases the chance of drawing Faba/VS Seeker off of an N from a Garbotoxin deck. The only downside to this is that Faba is a slow measure of Tool removal. If your hand already sucks, you won’t be doing much alongside the Faba. Field Blower is fast, meaning you could play Professor Juniper or Guzma at the same time, potentially drawing more Energy.

Gardevoir-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX

I know Travis will hate me for writing this, but here’s the update to the already strong deck: Gardevoir-GX. Its last big point of success was in Salt Lake City a few formats ago. Since then, I think the meta is shifting back around to a place where it can work well. Significantly, it gains the big boost in consistency from Alolan Ninetales-GX. It was already a strong deck, but has become even stronger and should be able to make a splash at upcoming Regionals.

Pokémon (18)

1 Ditto p

1 Oranguru SUM

2 Alolan Ninetales-GX LOT

3 Gardevoir-GX

1 Sudowoodo GRI

1 Gallade BKT

4 Ralts PLS 59

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Kirlia NXD

2 Alolan Vulpix GRI

Trainer (32)

2 Brigette

2 N

2 Professor Juniper

1 Colress

1 Guzma

1 Pokémon Ranger

1 Teammates


4 Rare Candy

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Field Blower

2 Max Potion

2 Mysterious Treasure

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Timer Ball


1 Choice Band


1 Computer Search

Energy (10)

6 Y

4 Double Colorless HS 103


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 18

* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Oranguru SUM 113
* 2 Alolan Ninetales-GX LOT 225
* 3 Gardevoir-GX BUS 140
* 1 Sudowoodo GRI 66
* 1 Gallade BKT 84
* 4 Ralts PLS 59
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 1 Kirlia NXD 56
* 2 Alolan Vulpix GRI 21

##Trainer Cards - 32

* 2 Professor Juniper PLF 116
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 1 Timer Ball SUM 134
* 1 Choice Band GRI 121
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Brigette BKT 161
* 2 Field Blower GRI 163
* 2 N 101
* 4 Rare Candy PLB 105
* 2 Mysterious Treasure FLI 145
* 1 Colress PLS 135
* 1 Teammates PRC 160
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 113
* 2 Max Potion GRI 164
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137

##Energy - 10

* 6 Y Energy GEN 83
* 4 Double Colorless Energy HS 103

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

This is a solid, consistent Gardevoir-GX deck. Like before, it aims to set up as many big Stage 2s as possible. There are a lot of Standard Gardevoir-GX vibes, but a lot of the Stage 2s from there have been shifted into other things here. For one, Swampert and Solgaleo-GX aren’t necessary nor wanted. Alolan Ninetales-GX isn’t as strong in Expanded, meaning the Metal Menace will get a lot less action here. Also, this deck is purely focused on Gardevoir-GX rather than the sidekicks in that deck. That version revolves around Super Boost p, and I’m sure there’s a version for that here, but I decided to keep it traditional.

The main engine swap I’ve talked about is the shift off of Tropical Beach to Alolan Ninetales-GX. The former was great when it was in the opening hand, but otherwise wasn’t great. However, Alolan Ninetales-GX gives us both the tools to set up Gardevoir-GX while providing the great first attack: Beacon, as well. The passive set up of Tropical Beach is replaced with an active set up card. It’s immediate and cannot be N’d away.

Ditto p

Ditto is, once again, an excellent card in this deck. Even though it only functions as either a Ralts or an Alolan Vulpix, this is perfect for guaranteeing the T2 Alolan Ninetales-GX. With only two Alolan Vulpix in the deck and 1 Prized, it’s unlikely that your Alolan Vulpix will survive. There isn’t enough space to play three, nor is it worthwhile to either. The one Kirlia is in the deck because of Ditto, and because forms of Item lock are generally very annoying.

Oranguru SUM

Without Swampert CES, some form of draw is necessary. Oranguru is the most efficeint because it only takes up a single card spot and usually can draw enough cards to get out of the dreaded N to 1. The list has many turn-and-burn cards despite being a Stage 2 deck, so it’s likely that the few cards it gets are enough. Anyway, the deck doesn’t need the raw draw power it does in Standard. Who knows, with more testing a Swampert version may come out on top. The Standard version of Gardevoir-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX is already super strong and may be well worth playing here in Expanded.

Sudowoodo GRI

Even though Zoroark-GX has dropped off the face of the earth in Expanded thus far, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it make a return. I think the list needs to adapt and start running basic Energy, like Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX. That deck was already somewhat strong long ago in Dallas last year, and may work again this year. Sudowoodo is at the ready to stop them in their tracks.

In general, I think Zoroark-GX decks need to take advantage of Alolan Muk in order to be viable. Alolan Muk no tonly hsuts off the combo decks, but destroys other engines that utilize Tapu Lele-GX, Shaymin-EX, Exeggcute, and more. There is already enough space to run Alolan Grimer on top of Ditto p. It’ll be interesting to see if Zoroark-GX/Sky Field makes a comeback. I think it’s largely dependent on the shaping meta and the techs involved in the list because it has good matchups and bad matchups; it’s not evenly distributed across the board.

Pokémon Ranger

Seismitoad-EX is incredibly scary when it can attack before you’ve use a Rare Candy. Play Pokémon Ranger to prevent that! Now you don’t have to worry about never setting up a Stage 2 because of it.

The main reason why this card works now is because Alolan Ninetales-GX exists. You can play Pokémon Ranger and still be able to tutor cards from your deck that will help set up Gardevoir-GX. In the past, you would have to pass and use Tropical Beach, potentially not even solving the problem if they find another Double Colorless.

Mysterious Treasure

Mysterious Treasure is neat in this deck because it increases the T1 Brigette percentage and lets you search for Ralts/Kirlia. It’s really great that there’s a Psychic Ralts/Kirlia since it allows this to be played rather than extra copies of Brigette.

Lost March


Lost March—the new and improved Night March. Seriously, I think this deck is stronger than Night March It has all of the same benefits of playing Night March without the drawbacks of Karen or Oricorio GRi. There is yet to have a counter printed, meaning that there isn’t much that a deck can do to tech or Lost March. Sure, some decks might fundamentally beat it, but this means its matchups are polarizing.

The main difference from Standard to Expanded is that there ma not be a reason to run Skiploom/Hoppip anymore. Exeggcute gives great access to sending a Pokémon to the Lost Zone when combined with Lost Mixer. However, I think it’s still worthwhile to run a thin Jumpluff line, maybe 3-3-3, because of the extra T2 attack damage it gives you. On top of that, it also diversifies the Energy color and adds a basic Energy attacker to the deck. It’s a trade off between speed and consistency.

In my opinion, there are two ways to build the deck. You can either take the path of Jumpluff and G Energy, or the path of increased burning cards like Trainers’ Mail, etc. Level Ball is a big boost to the deck’s consistency. Regardless of version, Level Ball card search for practically any Pokémon in the deck. This makes it much easier to send Pokémon to the Lost Zone, either with Trumbeak’s Ability or any of the aforementioned strategies.


That’s all for today guys! I hope your Anaheim/Dallas preparation is going well as we all shift back into the Expanded swing of things. Personally, I won’t be at Anaheim, so I’m excited to see how the metagame evolves leading up to Dallas. If I were to take a guess, I’d expect to see Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX take a backseat and other decks to take the forefront. Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel seems incredibly strong in Expanded, but that may fall to Weakness against Seismitoad-EX and the right techs. There is always enough of a tossup in terms of what will succeed in Expanded; it’s always fun to play against so many different, viable decks.

In the realm of Standard, it appears that the Meganium deck has made its way into the spotlight. I’m not too sure on my thoughts for that deck coming around, as it seems incredibly frail, but it looks powerful once it sets up. It looks like a more consistent, faster Greninja BREAK deck. Only time will tell if it’s a lucky break or an actual, working deck that will make its way into the meta soon.


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