Hey everyone! It has been a bit longer than normal since my last article, but never fear I am back once again. Since my last article, I took down another Regional Championships with one of my favorite decks in recent history, ZoroToad. I had not expected to play the deck for the event whatsoever, and could not believe it when I found myself sleeving it up the night before the event. My group had pretty much completely wrote the deck off after the release of Lost Thunder, but I think we just didn’t put enough work into it as we should have at first.
I was absolutely expecting to play a Zoroark control list similar to what Isaiah Williams played, but made the switch late Friday night. I am totally glad I did, as it really paid off, and the deck was actually a blast to play once again. For the next Regional Championship, Dallas, I still like the ZoroToad deck, and ZoroPod is another deck that has caught my attention. Let’s kick things off with a look at old faithful, ZoroToad.
Pokémon – 20
4 Zorua DEX
1 Girafrig LOT
Trainers – 34
Energy – 6
Honestly, I don’t think this card would be in the deck if it were not for the release of Faba. Faba made it so that this deck would have to include basic energies to continue being playable, and that made it very easy to include this majestic beast. Artciuno, while useless in some matchups, made some of the deck’s closer matchups substantially better. Primal Groudon was a deck that gave us a ton of trouble in Portland, and Articuno provides a strong answer to that issue. Additionally, Buzzwole was a close matchup in the past, and Articuno helps to make aggressive starts much more manageable.
While the deck is certainly a Seismitoad deck, these techs are very strong when it comes to managing the options of both players. Girafrig, despite being a control card, is somewhat of an aggressive option in comparison to Oranguru. You use it in an attempt to whittle away at the opponent’s options, and make it difficult for them to close games. In the past, it was impossible to interact with the opponent’s discard pile, and they could play cards that could recover these protected resources. The Girafrig removes that protection, and I definitely caught some people off guard with it. Additionally, the Girafrig happened to be very strong against Connor Finton’s Vespiquen deck, which I happened to play against in day two and finals. The Oranguru is not anything new, but it still plays a very important role, and adds an entire aspect to the deck. Oranguru is the key to beating Garbodor decks, especially Drampa-GX/Garbodor, which would otherwise be a very difficult matchup. Mill decks are also solved by the inclusion of Oranguru and Girafrig, which is not something the toad could stop.
This card is incredible! I still remember all of my opponents reading the card in Portland. I don’t quite understand why, but it felt like I was not operating the full on Tirtouga loop nearly as much in California. I recall getting down to zero cards in deck and being reliant on the turtle quite a bit in Portland. I think that it could be the decks I was playing against, and how those matchups play out. I have tried removing this card from the deck, in favor of things like a second Exeggcute, but I found myself missing it in a few games. I would never deck out because of Lusamine and Oranguru, but those options make me change my gameplan and account for having to keep cards in my deck.
This card is incredibly broken, should honestly probably get an errata to prevent Lusamine from grabbing Lusamine. Until then, though, we can continue to abuse this powerful card in this deck. It has a ton of synergy with the other options in the deck, and makes it incredibly easy to outlast the opponent. The biggest issue for previous Seismitoad decks, regardless of their overall strategy, is that they would run out of steam in the late game. Lusamine assures that this will not happen, and makes managing your disruption cards a whole lot easier. It is a slow loop, though, so you will need to plan accordingly!
Incredibly underrated card! The card is mainly used in control decks that need access to as many resources as possible, which is the case here. This deck plays a ton of single copies, which makes prizing a very real issue. With the Gladion in the deck, I very rarely have prizes that are so detrimental that I lose the game because of them. Additionally, I even have games where I prize something like a Double Colorless Energy, and can find it early on super easily through the use of Gladion.
Yes, this card is cheesy. No doubt about it, but it is just too strong not to play. In matchups where the opponent will try to burn through their deck in order to accomplish their strategy, you can catch them with a pretty low deck size. Quaking Punch limits their options severely, making it harder for them to keep their deck at a reasonable number of cards. Using Team Rocket’s Handiwork even just two turns in a row can make all the difference when it comes to decking the opponent out. Team Rocket’s Handiwork is also more likely to hit a valuable card than most people think, simply because a well versed opponent will try to dump useless trainer cards as much as possible before you get off that first Quaking Punch. Back to the cheesy aspect of the card, it can win you games that you simply have no business winning, by milling a crucial card such as Pokémon Ranger.
Way back at Portland, this inclusion felt somewhat weird. It couldn’t go on all the Pokémon in the deck, unlike something like Hard Charm which was an original consideration, but it ended up being so powerful that it doesn’t matter. Fighting Fury Belt will go on your main attacker in any given matchup, whether it be Seismitoad, Oranguru, or Girafrig. A lesser known target of Fighting Fury Belt is actually Sudowoodo! Against Zoroark decks, you can give the friendly tree a Fighting Fury Belt to make him extra beefy. Under Quaking Punch and Sudowoodo, the Zoroark decks actually have no way of being able to OHKO the Sudowoodo, which gives it full protection.
Counter stadiums are a great thing to have in Expanded, and these are some of the strongest stadiums I have played with in my entire Pokémon career. Additionally, you can repeatedly get them back through the use of Lusamine! This makes winning the stadium war a piece of cake, and that can make all the difference in long games. Parallel City and Rough Seas are just strong, well rounded cards for the most part, and don’t really serve a specific purpose. Parallel City is very strong against Zoroark decks, while Rough Seas help to dominate Trevenant, but both matchups are winnable without said cards. Blastoise, however, is a very tricky matchup that Silent Lab helps out quite a bit. Silent Lab is not a card I played in Portland, but it was a great inclusion in California and I will keep it around moving forward. Silent Lab is probably the main reason I was able to defeat Preston Ellis in top four of California, who was playing a turbo Rayquaza deck.
Pokémon – 24
4 Zorua DEX
1 Ditto ♢
1 Alolan Grimer SUM 57
1 Girafrig LOT
Trainers – 29
Energy – 7
For starters, I just want to say that I took this deck idea from Danny Prather, who finished top 16 in California with a list extremely close to this one. We had a good match that ended in a tie!
ZoroPod feels like one of the only decks that has a naturally good matchup against ZoroToad. It doesn’t have to play Pokémon Ranger or any other hard counter, and the deck still performs well against the rest of the meta. This is a huge plus in my mind, because I would hate to switch off of ZoroToad only to show up and lose to it all day.
I am a huge fan of all the options this deck has! It can play defensively, use single prize Pokémon, and even hit for a whopping 210 damage with ease. Most decks are built to do one of these things, but this deck has it all! It reminds me a lot of the Zoroark/Garbodor deck that I played at this year’s World Championships in that sense.
I think that this deck will not be very popular or prepared for, so it has that going for it as well. I love to play decks that my opponent’s aren’t super familiar with because it is harder for them to play properly.
Without these, the ZoroGarb matchup would be a very difficult one, but these Zoroarks make the matchup very winnable. You are essentially trading one prize for two whenever you get full value out of one of these bad boys. Obviously, that is a recipe for success, and it is definitely the way to go about that matchup. The deck actually doesn’t even play Sudowoodo, simply because of this reason! Overall, Mind Jack has always been a strong attack, and using a single prize attacker is usually a good thing. As for more general uses, this Zoroark can be used as a way of activating First Impression, which is a nice bonus to this inclusion.
While this deck does not always play for big combos, such as a full board with Sky Field in play for Riotous Beating, Shaymin-EX makes it easier to dig through your deck and find all the pieces in cases where you are going for an important play. This inclusion can also advance your board state a ton in the early game, when you would otherwise not have as much draw power. Its low HP is something that worries me, so you have to gauge the risk when you are considering putting it on the board.
Alolan Muk is key to this deck’s success because it is your only answer to Sudowoodo, which would otherwise completely stop you from ever doing real damage with Riotous Beating. The Muk can be evolved into through Ditto, which is something we have seen a lot of in the past, but this list also features a copy of Alolan Grimer. Not only does this make the Muk easier to get out, but it also allows for you to get out more than one Muk per game, denying the opponent the option of simply KOing it.
These cards are great techs in this deck! Not only is the duo a fantastic answer to control decks that you might run into, but they can allow you to control the pace of the game in more straight forward matchups. If you are ever able to Get Lost the opponent’s one Guzma, it allows you to play the game as a single prize deck, using Zoroark BKT to completely take over the game. The opponent will be forced to simply trade back and forth with your single prize attackers, and that is a very positive trade for you. While Oranguru is usually not quite as devastating of a maneuver, it can help you outlast the opponent in the late game, or simply recover from an unideal start.
These cards feel like we see them less and less in Expanded as time goes on. I would say that this is because decks vary in style, making Acerola more useful in some decks than others. At this point in time, control and mill decks feel like they are the only ones that play Acerola, so it is somewhat refreshing to see these options in a normal Zoroark deck. This just goes to show how this deck has more options than a deck like ZoroGarb, and I have to say that I am a huge fan of being able to play for the late game with this deck.
While you are not a deck like ZoroGarb that simply aims to build up a huge bench every single turn and OHKO the opposing threat, the deck still plays two Sky Field because you want the option to be able to do so. Dowsing Machine helps out in this category, and I would say that being able to make this big play even once per game makes it all worth the inclusion. With ZoroGarb becoming ever so popular, playing a low Sky Field count can help you include more useful cards for that matchup, such as our thick count of Zoroark BKT.
I mentioned earlier that this deck was played by Danny Prather in California, and these are the two cards I took out of his list. I removed them for a Shaymin-EX and a second copy of Field Blower. The Shaymin-EX is something I talked about earlier, and is honestly just a different form of early game consistency than the cards that were removed. However, the Field Blower is more of a meta prediction. I definitely expect ZoroGarb to be the most popular deck in Dallas, and the second copy of Field Blower is a very strong tech for that matchup. The second copy of Battle Compressor felt somewhat useless to me and I haven’t really missed it in my testing thus far, but I can’t really say the same for Brigette. In a majority of my games, I haven’t noticed the difference between one Brigette and two, which is good. However, there have been games where I prize my one copy and deeply regret skimping.
That is all for today everyone! I hope you enjoyed getting the inside scoop at my two favorite decks in expanded. They aren’t exactly spicy at this point in time, but they definitely get the job done! They both have a ton of options and a slew of close matchups, as opposed to really polarizing mathups. I prefer decks like that because it feels like my tournament run is more in my control because my play effects my results as opposed to what matchups I hit. Anyways, I will be spending my next few weeks preparing for Dallas! I have enjoyed this holiday break thus far, but I am getting very excited to play again. The expanded format is certainly my favorite right now, and it isn’t very close. I will be going to a pair of Standard League cups this weekend, where I will be giving Granbull or Decidueye a go, but that just isn’t as fun as decking people out. If you’ll be at any cups this weekend, I wish you goodluck! Otherwise if you will be at Dallas, feel free to come up and say hi! I promise I don’t bite. Peace.
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