An Anaheim Avalanche

A Look at Zoroark, Blastoise, and Blacephalon for Expanded for Anaheim’s Regional

Hello again 6P! We’re in the final stretch for our next big tournament, Anaheim Regionals, and I’m very excited! I have not competed in an Expanded tournament since last March I believe, where I decided to play Trevenant and proceeded to not get Championships Points at a Regional for the first time that season. On paper, it seemed like it was really well poised to do well, but in reality I regretted playing it the moment I hit my first Zoroark matchup.

I do not intend to make that same mistake again, and so I’m not going to consider Trevenant as an option until Zoroark-GX is not a big part of the metagame. Seeing how it won the last Expanded Regional and it has so many options available to it, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.

Now that we have Lost Thunder in the mix, Faba is the most important card to shake up the metagame. You can’t be greedy with Double Colorless Energy decks anymore, since any deck that can loop Faba with Lusamine will eventually run you out of options to attack with. Girafarig is another important player in the field, as it can hit key cards in a discard pile to stop things such as a Lusamine loop or a Faba loop.

Having said that, all the ‘control’ or ‘mill’ style decks just don’t quite tickle my fancy. Zoroark/Seismitoad or Zoroark control are obviously very strong decks with a plethora of disruption options available to them. I do feel confident that I could pilot such a deck successfully, but I simply don’t enjoy it. I tried to play a deck in that style back in Portland last season, where I piloted Sylveon to a Top 16 finish. However, I did it more as a challenge to play something ‘outside of my comfort zone’ than anything else.

That doesn’t mean I won’t end up playing a control deck if I feel that is what gives me the best possibility to win the tournament, but so far I have narrowed down my options to 3 very strong and reliable archetypes (it would be 4, but I genuinely don’t want to play Trevenant).

My number 1 option right now is a Zoroark-GX aggressive deck, similar to what I played all the way back in Dallas. It’s solid, consistent, and Ditto p essentially giving you a 5th Zorua is just amazing. Here’s my current list, where I’ll go over the standout cards:

Pokémon (23)

4 Zorua DEX 70

4 Zoroark-GX

1 Zoroark NXD

1 Zoroark BKT

2 Exeggcute PLB

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

3 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Alolan Grimer SUM

1 Alolan Muk SUM

1 Ditto p

1 Oranguru UPR

1 Sudowoodo GRI

1 Unown LOT 91

Trainer (33)

2 Brigette

2 Colress

1 Delinquent

1 Guzma

1 Professor Sycamore


4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Battle Compressor

2 Evosoda

2 Field Blower

2 Red Card

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Special Charge


2 Choice Band

1 Float Stone


1 Dowsing Machine


4 Sky Field

Energy (4)

4 Double Colorless


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 23

* 4 Zorua DEX 70
* 4 Zoroark-GX PR-SM SM84
* 1 Zoroark NXD 102
* 1 Zoroark BKT 91
* 2 Exeggcute PLB 102
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 3 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Alolan Grimer SUM 57
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Oranguru UPR 114
* 1 Sudowoodo GRI 66
* 1 Unown LOT 91

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 1 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 2 Red Card GEN 71
* 2 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 2 Colress PLS 135
* 2 Evosoda XY 116
* 1 Special Charge STS 105
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Delinquent BKP 98
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Brigette BKT 161
* 2 Choice Band BUS 162
* 2 Field Blower GRI 163
* 4 Sky Field ROS 89
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128

##Energy - 4

* 4 Double Colorless Energy GRI 166

Total Cards - 60

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

Alolan Muk – I choose to use Alolan Muk over Garbodor to shut off opposing Sudowoodos. How do I usually lose games with this deck? When I’m not using Trade over and over to find the resources that I need. There are definitely spots where one if preferred over the other, but since Sudowoodo is your number 1 enemy, and Trade is your best friend, I figure having a counter that doesn’t affect Trade is the way to go.

Zoroark BKT – Helps with status conditions and punishes people who overextend using your Sky Field which allows your non-GX attacker to deal huge damage, specially if you fall behind in a mirror match.

Zoroark NXD – The MVP against Buzzwole and what I think makes the matchup very winnable. It’s also extremely valuable in the mirror match, and now that we have 5 Zoruas basically, we can afford to play this and the other non-GX Zoroark more freely.

Unown HAND – This card alone opens up a win condition against Wailord or other mill decks that was previously not there. Just set up 2-3 Zoroarks without playing any other cards, Propagate/Trade away until the win condition and then declare yourself the winner. It is not the only viable strategy against Wailord, but I’ve caught a lot of people off guard so far with it.

In the Trainers department, it’s a mix between consistency and disruption. With Red Card + Delinquent combined, you get to completely limit what your opponent might be able to do in response to a Zoroark. How strong is N to 1 late game? Well imagine having that option as well except early on.

With Puzzle of Time gone, Dowsing Machine is our ACE SPEC of choice in order to have direct recovery from the discard pile. Special Charge is a band aid of sorts to that as well, as even though Faba is a threat, it is a Supporter and not many decks will be able to afford to run that over Enhanced Hammer and keep up the tempo of a match.

This same reasoning applies to having 4 Sky Field. Without Puzzle of Time, 3 didn’t feel like enough in a format filled with counter Stadiums as strong as Parallel City or Shrine of Punishment. I would love to have a second Alolan Muk in here, that would probably be my 61st card for the deck, and depending on the Wailord expectations, you could perhaps choose to run that over the Unown.

Matchups-wise, you want to trade favorably against GX decks, using your 1HKO potential in Zoroark-GX or good trades of 2 for 1 Prizes with your non-GX Zoroarks. Blacephalon, Archie’s, Buzzwole, mirror matches, they all play out the same. Set up, Trade and combine Red Card + Delinquent to limit their possibilities to respond to your threat so that you’re always in the driver seat in the matchup.

Trevenant is a bit trickier due to the possibility that you clunk out and their access to Faba, so it kind of becomes a race to you getting 6 Prizes ASAP before they remove all your energy from play. There are two key things for this matchup: one is to stagger your Zorua so that they can’t just devolve with Espeon-EX and remove all threats from your field at once. Number two is purposely benching Exeggcute on your bench to give prizes to your opponent prizes and thus making their N’s less effective, and possibly deactivating Ace Trainer, Counter Catcher and Counter Energy.

I am fairly confident this is going to be my top choice for Anaheim, but I’m not discounting the next couple of ones just yet.

Archie’s Blastoise is definitely a deck that came back out of nowhere at Portland, and it’s a very appealing deck due to its ‘all in’ nature. You have a usually long, puzzle like turn 1 where you need to utilize Archie’s and set up a Blastoise in order to have energy advantage the whole game. The big game changers for the deck are definitely Kingdra-GX, Volcanion p and Order Pad, but the premise still remains: solve the puzzle and overwhelm your opponent with 1HKOs and 2 for 1 trades thanks to Articuno.

Pokémon (14)

2 Blastoise PLS

2 Articuno ROS 17

2 Keldeo-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Exeggcute PLB

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Volcanion p

1 Kingdra-GX

Trainer (36)

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

4 VS Seeker

1 Field Blower


2 Muscle Band

1 Float Stone


1 Computer Search

Energy (10)

10 W


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 14

* 2 Blastoise PLS 137
* 2 Articuno ROS 17
* 2 Keldeo-EX BCR 142
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 2 Exeggcute PLB 102
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Volcanion p FLI 31
* 1 Kingdra-GX DRM 66

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Professor Juniper PLF 116
* 4 Superior Energy Retrieval PLF 103
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 2 Muscle Band XY 121
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Faba LOT 208
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 4 Order Pad UPR 131
* 1 Fisherman CES 130
* 2 Archie’s Ace in the Hole PRC 157
* 4 Trainers’ Mail AOR 100

##Energy - 10

* 10 W Energy CIN 124

Total Cards - 60

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

Solving the turn 1 Puzzle to have Archie’s or VS Seeker as the last card in your hand can be a headache sometimes, but the deck is built to have a high chance of pulling it off. Beyond that turn 1, the deck becomes a 1HKO machine that tries to utilize the best attacker for any given situation. Zoroark matchups in particular usually require a second use of Archie’s, in order to have a Blastoise and a Kingdra-GX set up. Kingdra is by far our most efficient attacker energy wise, as Keldeo needs 8 energy vs Kingdra’s 4 to do the same 210 magical number. However, Kingdra’s high 230 HP means it can tank hits even from a full bench Sky Field plus Choice Band Zoroark.

Articuno is another key player that can usually let you finish off games by taking the last 2 Prizes on a non-GX thanks to its Delta Plus trait. What I’ve normally found to happen is players will try to limit Blastoise’s bench with Sudowoodo but toward the end, that’s a very easy 2-Prizer for Articuno with Guzma, as it being weak to Water means a single flip out of three is enough to KO it. The flips are always a risk when using this card of course, but it sometimes opens up win conditions which would otherwise not be there thanks to its amazing Ability. Trying to pick off a Shaymin-EX as a last resort to close out a game by taking 3 Prizes is also an option, albeit not a likely one. Articuno shines most when being used turn 1 or 2 against an unsuspecting Zorua or Trubbish, starting off the game with a 2 Prize lead.

Volcanion p has been talked about a lot too, and I really love the inclusion of it in the deck. It’s kind of a utility Pokémon perhaps, but its Ability and attack really do wonders for the deck. 160 HP for a non-GX basic is fantastic, but its Ability can both, help you in discarding an excess energy from your hand in order to get down to the turn 1 Archie’s, but also reactivate your Items against Trevenant if they went second. That alone could win you games vs Trevenant as setting up 1 Keldeo-EX is usually difficult for them to deal with. Finally, its attack is also great as it can deal with some basic Pokémon but also every 20 damage you spread to the bench is one less Energy Keldeo-EX will need later on to KO an opposing threat.

This deck has the nostalgia factor going for it, but it’s genuinely very very strong. I keep it as my second option purely because it doesn’t offer the possible disruption that Zoroark does, and feels just a tiny bit less reliable. However, Sudowodoo doesn’t directly counter it unlike Zoroark, so not having to play against a counter every round is appealing as well.

Finally, probably a distant third choice for me for Anaheim, is Blacephalon. Lost Thunders newest deck to the scene, it offers a lot of the same benefits as Blastoise decks, but with a couple extra tricks. The support that Blacksmith brings to the deck is great, as it allows you to power up Blacephalon’s to attack in a single turn more directly than Energy Switch and more importantly, under Item lock. With Seismitoad having won the last Regional and Trevenant expected to be popular, having answers to Item lock decks is very appealing.

We also have Naganadel-GX which, just as in Standard, can use its GX attack to activate Beast Ring for you against mill decks.Between this and Blacksmith, you should be incredibly energy efficient, to the point where those sort of decks should be close to auto-wins should you go up against them.

This is what my current list looks like:

Pokémon (14)

4 Blacephalon-GX

4 Poipole LOT

3 Naganadel LOT

1 Naganadel-GX FLI

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Marshadow SM85

Trainer (30)

3 Blacksmith

2 Guzma

2 N

2 Professor Sycamore

1 Colress

1 Cynthia


4 Beast Ring

4 Ultra Ball

3 Battle Compressor

3 VS Seeker

2 Mysterious Treasure


1 Computer Search


1 Heat Factory p

1 Ultra Space

Energy (16)

15 R

1 Beast p


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 14

* 4 Blacephalon-GX LOT 199
* 4 Poipole LOT 107
* 3 Naganadel LOT 108
* 1 Naganadel-GX FLI 121
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Marshadow PR-SM SM85

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178
* 2 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 4 Beast Ring FLI 141
* 3 Blacksmith FLF 88
* 3 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 1 Colress PLS 135
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 1 Cynthia UPR 148
* 3 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 2 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 N 101
* 1 Ultra Space FLI 115
* 2 Mysterious Treasure FLI 145

##Energy - 16

* 1 Beast Energy p FLI 117
* 15 R Energy BUS 167

Total Cards - 60

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

One annoying thing I’ve found with this deck is that Professor Sycamore, in all the advantages it offers over Lillie or Cynthia, the big discard drawback when you have such valuable cards in hand like VS Seeker and Beast Ring can be incredibly hindering. My initial list had 4-of those but I’ve since gone down to 2 purely because the discards were being too harsh, and Blacksmith being a Supporter means it’s definitely nowhere near as good as Beast Ring is on those key turns where its activated.

This deck is probably a very good ‘transition deck’ for any newer players that haven’t had a lot of experience in Expanded yet. The deck plays out identically to its Standard counterpart but with a different array of moving pieces to achieve the same strategy.

Sudowoodo is probably the number one card I would like to fit in here due to the potential of Zoroark-GX and how strong it is when not stopped by one. However, bench space is of course at a premium with this deck and therefore having extra attackers or Naganadels to make sure the energy keeps flowing feels a lot more necessary.

Volcanion-EX is another card that seems like it would synergize well with Blacephalon decks, but I decided to stray away from it because the risk vs reward just isn’t there in my opinion. The deck doesn’t struggle at all to get 1HKOs to the point where it needs extra firepower, but playing Volcanion-EX would require some sort of Switching card inclusion in Switch or Float Stone, and starting any game with it would be absolutely horrendous.

Out of the 3 decks, this one has by far the worst non-GX matchup, so things like Night March, Lost March and even Alolan exeggutor would give you a tough time. This is why its in third place in my list of options for Anaheim, but given the right metagame this could be a great call.

Other decks that I’ve liked, but didn’t quite feel as broken as the first 2 were Lost March and Primal Groudon, but the inherent slowness of Primal Groudon is just very unappealing to me. I don’t own Tropical Beaches either, not in English at least, and I’m not willing to go out of my way to get them to be honest.

And so with this I will conclude today’s article. I hope you enjoyed reading it and hope to see many of you at Anaheim! As always, feel free to direct any questions or comments here or on any of my Tablemon social media outlets. Wish me luck at Anaheim and until next time!

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