The Primal Reversion

Looking at Primal Clash’s Titans in 2018’s Expanded Format for Anaheim

Hello again readers, today I am going to be bringing you my thoughts on the Expanded format that is (sadly) going to be very relevant for the next few months. In my last Expanded article, I was pretty excited to write about and play the format. However, after my incredibly painful experience in Portland, where I played a Trevenant BREAK deck to a top 128 finish, my excitement to play the format has waned quite a bit. That doesn’t mean I’m not happy to write about it though, because Expanded is quite literally a sandbox where we can build and play whatever concept we desire.

The Impact of Portland on the Meta

I feel safe in saying that the Top 8 in Portland is going to determine what quite a few people are going to play in Anaheim this weekend. So, when we look at the plethora of control style decks that emerged/reemerged that weekend, it seems like we’re in for another fun filled weekend of staring at each other while playing Lusamine quite a bit. However, for me at least, there is a ray of hope amongst all of the degenerate control decks. Primal Groudon has once again defied the odds and achieved another Top 4 finish. Ironically, Groudon is also a somewhat control-oriented deck now, but alas, it still makes me happy to see it finish so well

Going into Anaheim this weekend, I fully expect to see a bunch of Zoroark, Trevenant and Archie’s Blastoise. Of course there will be other decks in lesser proportions, but those are easily the best three archetypes. These three also have the added bonus of not required Tropical Beach, unlike Groudon and Wailord/Wall decks.

Primal Groudon

It’s no secret that I have somewhat of an obsession with making Groudon work whenever possible, and I’ve played it more times than I can justify. Thankfully, I believe it is actually well positioned again this weekend, so I might not completely flop if (when) I end up playing it. The list is incredibly different from what I’ve used before, focussing more on control than actually taking 6 Prize cards in a timely manner.

Pokémon (10)

4 Wobbuffet PHF

2 Primal Groudon-EX PRC

1 Groudon-EX DEX

1 Groudon-EX PRC

1 Oranguru UPR

1 Regirock XY49

Trainer (41)

4 Korrina

3 N

2 Cynthia

2 Lusamine

2 Pokémon Center Lady

1 AZ

1 Guzma

1 Lysandre

1 Steven’s Resolve

1 Team Rocket’s Handiwork


4 VS Seeker

1 Counter Catcher

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Escape Rope

1 Field Blower

1 Max Potion

1 Nest Ball

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Switch


2 Focus Sash

1 Bent Spoon

1 Counter Gain

1 Float Stone

1 Wishful Baton


1 Scramble Switch


4 Tropical Beach

Energy (9)

4 F

4 Strong

1 P


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 10

* 4 Wobbuffet PHF 36
* 2 Primal Groudon-EX PRC 151
* 1 Groudon-EX DEX 106
* 1 Groudon-EX PRC 150
* 1 Oranguru UPR 114
* 1 Regirock PR-XY XY49

##Trainer Cards - 41

* 2 Cynthia UPR 148
* 2 Lusamine CIN 96
* 1 Max Potion GRI 164
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 163
* 1 Scramble Switch PLS 129
* 1 Bent Spoon FCO 93
* 1 Counter Gain LOT 230
* 1 Enhanced Hammer GRI 162
* 1 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 4 Tropical Beach PR-BLW BW50
* 1 Wishful Baton BUS 128
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 2 Pokémon Center Lady FLF 105
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Switch PRC 163
* 1 Counter Catcher CIN 120
* 3 N 101
* 1 Professor’s Letter BKT 146
* 4 Korrina FFI 111
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 2 Focus Sash FFI 91
* 1 Lysandre FLF 104
* 1 AZ PHF 117
* 1 Team Rocket’s Handiwork FCO 124
* 1 Steven’s Resolve CES 145

##Energy - 9

* 4 Strong Energy FFI 104
* 1 P Energy SUM 162
* 4 F Energy XYEnergy 3

Total Cards - 60

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

Card Choices

There’s an absolutely ridiculous amount of 1-ofs in here, but it somehow manages to work.

1-1-2 Groudon

In the past the deck played a much heavier line of Groudon. The reasoning behind the thiner line is along the lines of needing the extra slots for Trainers and the fact that the format feels a lot less 1HKO oriented.

1 Oranguru UPR

With the loss of Puzzle of Time, Oranguru and its Resource Management is the the only way to reliably recover our Scramble Switch and Max Potion. This allows us to feasibly win the game with only 1 Groudon and 1 Regirock.

2 Pokémon Center Lady

In the past we were able to rely on Item based healing or only one Pokémon Center Lady to win games. However, Trevenant is seemingly a much bigger threat now than it was before, so I have opted to play 2 PCL instead of another healing item.

2 Lusamine and 1 Handiwork

The days of Groudon being able to just power through every matchup by taking 6 Prizes are over. Thus, we need a way to win games when we can’t chain Scramble Switch and Max Potion multiple times. This also gives a very strong out to beating Trevenant in games that we would otherwise lose.

1 AZ

AZ is just another card that is intended to help the Trevenant matchup become better. It also has a use in the Sableye/Garbodor matchup for when you start Wobbuffet.

The Tools

There is quite a long list of Pokémon Tool cards that are playable in Groudon, but at some point we have to pick which ones benefit us the most. 2 Focus Sash is pretty self explanatory, since they make it so that Groudon will never be 1HKO’d. The Bent Spoon is another tech to beat Trevenent that is very strong assuming they miss the turn 1 Faba on it. The Wishful Baton is a card that we sort of use as a second Scramble Switch, since we lost Puzzle of Time. The Counter Gain is a super interesting card here, because it allows us to attack a turn earlier than normal, which can change the game dramatically.

Potential Inclusions

Mega Turbo

This is a card that used to be a staple in Groudon, but has now seemingly fallen out of favor. I didn’t include it because Counter Gain seemingly achieves the same effect, but I could see quite a few arguments for the reinclusion of Mega Turbo.


This is yet another card that seems to have vanished from play completely, but I think it could be very strong in the deck because it allows us to mill a potential of 6 cards in one turn.

3rd Lusamine or Gladion

Both of these cards generally achieve the same thing here. They allow us to keep the Lusamine Loop going strong even if we prize a copy. Gladion does have that added bonus of being able to pick any card from the prizes, so I think it might have a little bit of an edge on the extra Lusamine.

Team Flare Grunt/Faba/Team Skull Grunt

These are all cards that lend themselves to the control aspect of the deck, but I am unsure on whether I want to include them or not. There comes a point that if we try to get too control-based with the deck, that we are just playing an inferior Wailord.

More Tool Choices

As I said earlier, there are so many different Pokémon Tool cards that we can play in Groudon. Two that I have heavily considered are Muscle Band and Hard Charm. Muscle Band would allow us to take 1HKOs on Pokémon like Wailord-EX much faster and more efficiently than we have in the past. Hard Charm acts in a way similar to Bent Spoon in that it reduces the damage we take from Trevenant BREAK. Hard Charm focusses on stopping Tree Slam, while Bent Spoon negates Silent Fear.

The Matchups

Expanded is so ridiculously diverse that I couldn’t even dream of discussing, or even predicting every possible matchup. So, I will just go over the ones that I feel are somewhat relevant for us.

Zoroark Control: Favored

We all saw Groudon flourish in a Day Two full of skilled Zoroark Control/Toad players, and this was for a good reason. The matchup feels very favored for Groudon because they are unable to discard your Energies. The only way that this matchup goes south is if your opponent times their Articuno-GX perfectly and leaves you completely crippled. So, lets just play around this. I propose that we set place down at least 6 or 7 Energies onto 2 separate Primal Groudon-EX or Regirock. If they start to apply pressure very early, it gets difficult to keep up, so you might have to attack earlier than we would like, which does open you up to a nasty Articuno-GX.

Zoroark/Garbodor: Favored-Even

In my testing I have found that this matchup greatly depends on if they are playing Garbodor GRI or not. If they are not, then this is just an easier version of control for us to beat. However, if they do, your Item usage becomes much more important to manage, and your Lysandre/Guzma turns become much more important. Your goal here is to take 6 Prizes as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do this, you are going to have to abuse Scramble Switch and Focus Sash, so you’re never just passing late into the game.

Archie/Blastoise: Even

This is a matchup that is incredibly coin flip reliant, both for who goes first, and their Articuno flips. If they go first and manage to Lysandre KO your Groudon-EX on turn 2, the game is incredibly difficult to win. During any other game state though, it really just depends on how well those pesky Articuno flips go for your opponent. Game plan here is to just target down three EX/GX and win before your opponent takes a nasty 3 Prize turn with Articuno.

Trevenant: Even

We finally managed to make this matchup not just a loss. Between the mill factor, increased healing, and niche tools, we can finally pull games out against Trevenant somewhat reliably. However, there is one major flaw with this matchup: Time. I played this matchup from the Trevenant side in Portland and if my opponent had not been exceedingly unlucky with coin flips on Team Rocket’s Handiwork, I should have lost a ~35 minute Game 1.

In my experience, it is now nearly impossible to finish a complete series of this matchup within the time constraints. Whether this is good or bad for you is up to debate, but if you don’t think you’re going to win Game 1 and you notice it early enough, it might just be the right choice to scoop and play Game 2 with as much time as possible and force the tie. Chasing 6 Prizes in this matchup is uncommon at best, and I would definitely focus more on the mill aspect. Taking a knockout or 2 to harm your opponent’s board state and discard a stadium is vital to the ultimate strategy of milling though.

Zoroark/Golisopod: Favored-Even

Apparently this is reemerging as a deck to be worried about again. I don’t think our strategy has changed here though. Get down the Primal Groudon ASAP, and hope they can’t Lysandre KO it on turn 2 if you lose the coin flip. Focus Sash and Scramble Switch both play key roles here and need to be used effectively to remain in the game. N is an incredibly dangerous card here, because of Zoroark decks being able to cripple us and not themselves due to Trade. Weakness Policy is a card I would consider playing if I felt that it was necessary, but teching for every matchup is impossible

Single Prize Attacker Decks: Negative

These include things such as Buzzwole/Garbodor, the March Decks, and Alolan Exeggutor. They are incredibly hard for us to win because they generally focus less on abilities and are not harmed by Wobbuffet and are able to trade very well against out Groudon.

Is Groudon “the Play”?

Potentially. I’m not quite sure how I feel about its matchup spread yet, but rest assured, there is a very large chance a Schemanske reps Groudon this weekend.

Archie’s Blastoise

This is a deck that has come from completely unplayable, to “Wow, I actually need to test this and beat it somehow.” My current thoughts on this are basically, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” The deck is incredibly strong and it appears that lists have come pretty close to being streamlined already, but mine is a little (not all that much) different than the others.

Pokémon (14)

3 Articuno ROS 17

2 Blastoise PLB

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Exeggcute PLB

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Palkia-GX FLI

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

* 3 Articuno ROS 17
* 2 Blastoise PLB 16
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 2 Exeggcute PLB 102
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 1 Keldeo-EX BCR 142
* 1 Palkia-GX FLI 20
* 1 Volcanion p FLI 31
* 1 Kingdra-GX DRM 18

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Professor Juniper PLF 116
* 4 Superior Energy Retrieval PLF 103
* 4 Ultra Ball
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 2 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: ******

The only real changes made from the list that got Top 4 Portland are the 3rd Articuno and a Volcanion Prism. Like I said earlier, I believe the list is pretty much the best it’s going to get, with a few attackers being swappable.

Card Choices


This was a card that the majority of players probably weren’t even aware of as a possible tech until it saw play in Portland. It provides a solid attack that deals 210 for only 4 Energies, and it also has a convenient GX attack that will wipe any Lost March Pokémon off of the board instantly.

3rd Articuno

As we’ve seen in the past, Articuno is an incredibly strong card that makes Archie’s one of the most powerful decks in the format. It essentially removes the losing matchups that are presented to us by the single prize attacker decks. Because of all this, I thought, “Why not a third one?” It’s actually been incredibly strong in my testing, and I really think it is worth the deck slot.

Volcanion p

This is a card that I’m including purely because of how generally good it can be. It can help you thin down your hand to ensure you get the Archie’s off on turn 1, and its attack can set up easier KOs with Articuno later in the game.

4 Order Pad

You all have no idea how much I want to cut this card from the deck. I feel like I’m playing Timer Ball when I play it. That is to say, I’m almost always going to flip tails. I know in reality it should be a 50-50 chance, but I’ve flipped as low as 30% heads in a tournament setting with Order Pad. However, because even a single heads all but guarantees the turn 1 Archie, I feel that there is no choice but to include this card.

The Matchups

I’m not going to go very in depth with this, as there are really two ways the games tend to go—those being if you hit Archie on turn 1 and if you didn’t. The only matchups where this is generally untrue would be those with Garbodor.

Zoroark/Garbodor: Even-Negative

This is probably one of the hardest matchups the deck has, and it becomes even worse if they opt to play the Trashalanche Garbodor. Your play is to get as many Energy down on attackers before they drop Garbotoxin. We do have 1 turn where we can play Field Blower to recover abilities, but our hand size is generally pretty low during the mid-end game. If possible, use Articuno to steal Prize cards on any stray trubbish and hopefully a Garbodor or 2 if you can flip heads enough.

Trevenant: Even

This really just comes down to if they are able to drop Alolan Muk down and Guzma up Blastoise or something before you win the game. Go as aggro as possible, use Articuno and Keldeo to take Prize cards. Our best chance at winning the game is to target down the Ditto p in order to remove Alolan Muk from the game. A well timed Zero Vanish-GX can also swing the game in your favor.

Zoroark Control and Control Decks in General: Favored

This probably one of biggest reasons to play Archie over most other decks. Kingdra allows us to take cheap 1HKOs against things like Wailord-EX, and our fast paced energy acceleration allows us to out speed Zoroark Control decks.

“All the Other Decks That People will Show up With:”

It’s a fact of Expanded as a format. There will always be people who show up with their pet decks or their comfort decks no matter what the meta actually looks like. Archie’s generally beats all of these things because of its speed and overall versatility. This right here is probably what will lead me to play Archie’s over almost any other deck.

Some Final Thoughts

I could easily see myself playing either Groudon or Archie’s this weekend, but there is also a very real chance I fall back on to Trevenant again. Faba has added a new life to the deck that wasn’t there before. Now it can just run Zoroark out of Energies rather than partake in the race for 6 Prizes. Expanded always scares me a little bit, mostly because of all the unknown janky decks that I could easily run into.

Anyway, I’ll see you all later this month with another article, and will see some of you this weekend in Anaheim. Good luck to everyone playing in events or doing whatever you may be doing. As always, feel free to text me any questions or come up to me at events. Until the next one.

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