A Final Chapter

Looking at Trevenant BREAK, Lucario-GX, and Primal Groudon for Dallas Expanded, Plus News

January: winter, snow, school, resolutions, and more. For Pokémon players in North America (and, rumor has it, beyond), this year, Dallas Regionals will be the first of the New Year. With the Special Event in Dubai last weekend marking the first major event of 2019, the ball has dropped on the rest of the season’s festivities—and it’ll be a mad dash to D.C. for Worlds.

Today, I want to go through some candidates for Dallas Regionals. It’s the next big event on the calendar, and thus I’d imagine the next big thing on most players’ minds. Expanded is not most people’s cup of tea, and with every new set, it becomes a greater challenge to acclimatize to the format. Personally, I’m fairly sure will continue to run amok until a truly absurd counter makes its way into the format, or it finally makes its way out via ban. Even removing Double Colorless Energy would probably be insufficient to dethrone Zoroark, in my mind—but I suppose none of that matters.

I have some news to cover at the end of today’s article, but other than that, let’s get right into it.

Trevenant

Pokémon (16)

4 Phantump BKP

4 Trevenant XY

3 Trevenant BREAK

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Espeon-EX

1 Marshadow SLG

1 Tapu Lele SM45

Trainer (35)

3 N

2 Professor Juniper

1 Ace Trainer

1 Brigette

1 Colress

1 Cynthia

1 Faba

1 Guzma

 

4 Enhanced Hammer

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 VS Seeker

2 Super Rod

1 Counter Catcher

4 Rescue Scarf

1 Scoop Up Cyclone

 

4 Dimension Valley

Energy (9)

4 Mystery

4 Psychic

1 Counter

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 16

* 4 Phantump BKP 64
* 4 Trevenant XY 55
* 3 Trevenant BREAK BKP 66
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 1 Espeon-EX BKP 117
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Tapu Lele PR-SM SM45

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 1 Cynthia UPR 148
* 3 N FCO 105
* 2 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 1 Brigette BKT 161
* 1 Ace Trainer AOR 69
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Faba LOT 173
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 145
* 4 Enhanced Hammer GRI 162
* 2 Super Rod BKT 149
* 1 Counter Catcher CIN 120
* 1 Scoop Up Cyclone PLB 95
* 4 Rescue Scarf DRX 115
* 4 Dimension Valley PHF 93

##Energy - 9

* 4 Psychic Energy GEN 79
* 4 Mystery Energy PHF 112
* 1 Counter Energy CIN 100

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72191 ******

Trevenant is in a bit of an odd choice. Item lock is a reasonable approach to much of what Expanded has to offer in terms of threats, and Archie’s Blastoise—an ugly specter of a matchup—has checked back out of the carousel of Expanded viability. The bad news is that there’s nothing revolutionary to offer for the Zoroark matchups: your reliance on Item lock to offset their advantages and Faba/Enhanced Hammer to neutralize the attacking threat is as pronounced as ever.

I’m of the persuasion that you have the ability to deal with control as a concept, but, admittedly, it’s as hard as ever. It’s no mystery that Trade is absurd, so disruption isn’t the easiest thing to pull off against a Zoroark variant—at least, not in a long-term sense. The advisable route is to keep them slightly off balance as long as possible, while racking up the necessary damage to eventually attain a winning board state. This list is largely based on Aaron Tarbell’s Portland runner-up edition, but I’ll talk through the highlights briefly.

Tapu Lele SM45

I’m back and forth on this inclusion, as my gut has always been that it represented a “win more” addition to a deck whose goal was to spread anyway. In more recent weeks, I’ve come around to the notion that it might be valuable as a way to reduce the time required to win individual games, aiding the outcome of matches as a whole. In addition, it’s useful for countering certain strategies that can be employed against Trevenant, such as staggering a counter, and oftentimes you can soft-win a game simply by removing all of the relevant elements from an opponent’s board, whether that involves taking all 6 Prizes or not.

I don’t think Buzzwole is terribly positioned at the current moment either, and this could be effective in that matchup to clean up a Buzzwole-GX as well. On the whole, I’d entirely buy omitting it from the list, but it makes its way into my edition for the moment.

Brigette

In my mind, this is the single biggest single difference between the list I played and what Aaron succeeded with in Portland. It’s an incredibly important one, too, and I don’t think I’d play the deck without it at this point in time. Whenever you start Phantump and an Energy/Valley, the Lele into Brigette is a great play—and even if you don’t open that ideally, it’s often an entirely reasonable play going first. The biggest vulnerability in most of Trevenant’s matchups is the risk of simply being run over before sufficiently setting up. When you establish extra Phantump early in the game, that becomes a lot less likely, especially given Rescue Scarf.

Expanded is notoriously unpredictable, but this is the kind of “tech” that helps in every matchup: setting up with greater certainty is always better. While it’s not intuitive to need Supporter search for Basics in a deck with only 4 Basics that you regularly want, the urgency and generality with which you want the Basics makes it plausible. It’s a smart inclusion.

Scoop Up Cyclone

Another inclusion of Aaron’s that makes a lot of sense, Scoop Up Cyclone enables the recycling of an extra Trevenant. When not facing Zoroark, 160 HP is pretty useful for withstanding attacks, and often Scoop Up Cyclone will let you get away with it. Against Mill decks, you can also reset attempts to stall a bad starter (or a bad Target Whistle/Captivating Poké Puff outcome) with Cyclone.

The added mobility, in a deck with no real other switching outs that aren’t Guzma, is valuable as well. Without it, Tapu Lele SM45 would make substantially less sense as an inclusion, as it’d be that much harder to get into Active. I don’t want to overstate the impact of a one-of on the playability of another card, but it’s enormously helpful in a number of situations, and adding the extra out is enough to put Lele over the “worth playing” barrier in my mind.

Counter Energy

If nothing else, it’s extraordinarily useful in mirror, making Tree Slam a more realistic possibility in more spots. But, as the format continues to revolve around Stadiums and other disruption, for a deck that’s often behind, Counter Energy makes a lot of sense. Realistically, the two paths your games can take are come-from-behind and blow-out-of-the-water due to disruption. With that in mind, Counter Energy is either going to be notably useful or its uselessness isn’t going to have any practical effect. It’s almost the perfect deck for the card.


On the whole, I have mixed thoughts on the viability of Trevenant moving into Dallas, but I do feel it’s a deck that’s always a threat to nab points of some sort. Depending where you are in your season, I feel it’s a relatively safe play in almost any Expanded room, and that’s a trait to be interested in when uncertainty reigns, as it often does in Expanded.

Lucario

ebay.comOne of the only truly new decks out of Anaheim, Israel Sosa’s run with Lucario has surprised me in the lack of post-event hype generated by the deck. With a fairly simple strategy, a high damage cap, and the ability to attack for minimal resources, it’s ideally suited for a format full of control nonsense—this is most especially true considering the Weakness of the format’s foremost foe, Zoroark.

It’s a card I played to mediocre success in Portland’s first Regional of 2018, but was one that had a fair amount of hype on its release. Though Buzzwole took point for Fighting from then in time through most of the rest of 2018, the low Energy cost for Lucario seems to make it a more compelling option to me moving forward. The list I’d consider:

Pokémon (14)

3 Riolu UPR

3 Lucario-GX

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Buzzwole FLI

1 Diancie p

1 Landorus-EX

1 Sudowoodo GRI

1 Zygarde-EX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Absol ROS

Trainer (36)

3 Korrina

3 Professor Juniper

2 Acerola

2 Guzma

2 N

1 AZ

1 Colress

1 Cynthia

1 Faba

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

1 Field Blower

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Super Rod

3 Focus Sash

2 Float Stone

1 Muscle Band

1 Scoop Up Cyclone

 

2 Brooklet Hill

Energy (10)

6 Fighting

4 Strong

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 14

* 3 Riolu UPR 66
* 3 Lucario-GX PR-SM SM100
* 1 Oranguru SUM 113
* 1 Buzzwole FLI 77
* 1 Diancie p FLI 74
* 1 Landorus-EX BCR 144
* 1 Sudowoodo GRI 66
* 1 Zygarde-EX PR-XY XY151
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Absol ROS 40

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 1 AZ PHF 117
* 3 Korrina FFI 111
* 1 Cynthia UPR 148
* 2 N FCO 105
* 3 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 2 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Acerola BUS 142
* 1 Faba LOT 173
* 4 Ultra Ball SLG 68
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Professor’s Letter BKT 146
* 1 Super Rod BKT 149
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Scoop Up Cyclone PLB 95
* 3 Focus Sash FFI 91
* 2 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Muscle Band XY 121
* 2 Brooklet Hill GRI 120

##Energy - 10

* 6 Fighting Energy GEN 80
* 4 Strong Energy FFI 104

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72191 ******

Rather than including Buzzwole-GX, Landorus-EX makes sense to diversify weakness while achieving the spread needed to setup future knockouts. Else, a lot of the deck is what you expect from anything looking to play Fighting Energy: Diancie p, Strong Energy, Korrina, etc. I’ll discuss a few of the specifics below.

1 AZ/2 Acerola

In the spirit of the mill/control/stall/annoying decks I alluded to earlier, I like including AZ as a means to reset Lucario without relying on a damage counter that will probably never come in such a matchup. The loss of Energy is unfortunate, but I consider 2 “scoop-up” Supporters a good number, making AZ more an extra utility to aid consistency in that effort and fulfill the extra function of anti-mill.

3 Professor Juniper/1 Colress/1 Cynthia

I will forever include Juniper over Sycamore, but that’s not the important part of this split. The deck thinning offered by Discard/Draw 7 is something I think this deck particularly seeks, given there are a number of situational cards that we don’t especially want to see in the late game. Colress is important for big “go-off” turns, and a second copy could be included over the Cynthia, but I’m a sucker for the stable 6 in this weird Expanded. Can be useful in cases where Colress would draw more than 6 cards, but you want to outlast a mill effort, too.

Faba

A card I decried at its outset, it’s now 2-for-2 in inclusion in this piece. I do feel validated in that it certainly hasn’t rid Expanded of the Zoroark scourge, but it’s proven useful in navigating certain situations among a few decks to justify its inclusion. In particular—though, admittedly, not especially in this case—the Tool-removal element is something I see as more important than I did before.

Absol ROS

pokemon-paradijs.comThis is the weirdest thing I’ve included in this list. Lucario can come up just-short of KOs in a lot of situations. With the early game chip damage we might generate from Hammerhead, Sledgehammer, or Zygarde-EX use, those almost-KOs can be turned into actual knockouts with a Cursed Eyes. In addition, even in the absence of early game damage, in a deck that might hit for 140–160 on back-to-back turns, but only KO a 200-HP Pokémon with the effort, the extra damage can be leveraged with Absol for future use. It’s a versatile utility, and one that I think plays very well with how this deck tries to operate.

It’s possible I’ve been playing too much 2007 recently, when Absol e was a relevant part of many archetypes for this sort of utility, but in a deck that relies so much on chaining a combination of cards to hit a specific number, this is the kind of utility I think could be particularly useful to certain games. As an added bonus, any Exeggcute or Joltik (assuming any of those are still crawling the earth) that make their way out will be in considerable danger.


Lucario’s a super interesting consideration for Dallas in my mind. Like Trevenant, it features a number of inherently strong traits. This is a concept I’ve talked about before in relation to Expanded: when you can’t metagame, it becomes valuable that a deck be “intrinsically strong” in a number of dynamics, meaning it executes a powerful strategy largely-independent of what’s going on over on the other side of the board. A deck worth testing.

Primal Groudon

If I’m to be remembered to have an association with any given deck, and if I have any choice in the matter, it’d be this one, and not that other thing that happened in 2017. I’ve had some good runs with over the years, and for my final deck, I want to talk about it in the context of Dallas.

Pokémon (10)

1 Oranguru UPR

1 Groudon-EX DEX

1 Groudon-EX PRC

1 Regirock XY49

2 Primal Groudon-EX PRC

4 Wobbuffet PHF

Trainer (41)

4 Korrina

3 N

2 Cynthia

2 Lusamine

2 Pokémon Center Lady

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 Mega Turbo

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 Fighting

4 Strong

1 Psychic

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 10

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

##Trainer Cards - 41

* 2 Lusamine CIN 96
* 1 Scramble Switch PLS 129
* 1 Switch PRC 163
* 1 Wishful Baton BUS 128
* 2 Focus Sash FFI 91
* 1 Mega Turbo ROS 86
* 1 Counter Catcher CIN 120
* 2 Pokémon Center Lady GEN 68
* 1 Professor’s Letter BKT 146
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 163
* 4 Tropical Beach PR-BLW BW50
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Steven’s Resolve CES 145
* 2 Cynthia UPR 148
* 1 Bent Spoon FCO 93
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 3 N NVI 101
* 1 Max Potion GRI 164
* 1 Team Rocket’s Handiwork FCO 124
* 1 Lysandre FLF 104
* 4 Korrina FFI 111
* 1 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 1 Enhanced Hammer GRI 162
* 1 Counter Gain LOT 230

##Energy - 9

* 4 Strong Energy FFI 104
* 1 Psychic Energy SUM 162
* 4 Fighting Energy SUM 161

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72191 ******

It’s actually the deck I took to Dallas Regionals last year, where the newborn Zoroark regime ate my dreams for lunch—and by dinnertime, I was instead enjoying the mild climate of the DFW Airport complex. There’ve been a few new cards, some shifts in the meta, and other factors that bring it back into consideration in my eyes for the event. Some highlights of the list:

Oranguru UPR

An essential inclusion in any deck without a staple anti-stall strategy, and especially useful here without Puzzle of Time anymore. It allows you to pull some creative moves, as the most important part of playing Groudon is remembering that your opponent has to take 6 Prizes to win—and it’s really easy to make that really, really hard.

Team Rocket’s Handiwork

As part of that previously-mentioned principle, one very strong way to deal with late game scenarios and keep pressure on an opponent is Team Rocket’s Handiwork. Since we’ve included double Lusamine, you can make this loop infinite, and keep pressure on an opponent to do something. You can steal games off unsuspecting opponents, too—with the vast card pool in Expanded, that’s actually not that hard of a reality, and given the fact that this deck can easily stall out a Game 2 to a natural non-conclusion after Game 1, it’s a viable approach to take to a match.

Bent Spoon

Your anti-Trevenant answer, with utility against other oddities. The reality of the format is that Giratina isn’t going to hurt more than help Groudon, so as counters go, this is about as hard of a counter as it can get. Counter Gain has a ton of potential utility in the format, but is notably not useful in the Trevenant matchup: it’s one of the few matchups where you’re probably actually losing if you’re not winning.

Counter Catcher

Korrina continues to provide, and Counter Catcher is a fantastic outlet within the deck. Gust effects were always awkward for this deck, but this one being searchable is really a revelation that I’m not sure how I missed out on playing for so long.


On the whole? Probably not the best play ever. It’s Expanded, though. Probably not the worst ever. Do me a favor, and read on, though.

Conclusion and News

pokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com

With that, we’re to the end of this article—everything ends, and it is no exception. Another non-exception: my tenure at SixPrizes, which ends today. Since taking the day-to-day helm, originally with Alex Hill, then on my own, I think we accomplished a good thing here, and I couldn’t be prouder of the effort put forth by the team over the last ~20 months. I can’t thank Xander, Pablo, Jimmy, Isaiah, Kenny, Alex, Mike, and Travis enough for their efforts. It’s been great.

I could write for eons on the ups and downs, on the advice I’d give to players across the spectrum of success, and other topics, but that’ll have to wait for the time being. It’s been an honor to be trusted with your subscription over the better part of the last two years. I’ve learned an immense amount, and I hope we’ve helped you in some way too.

Shuffle well. Mark your match slips between games. Call judges for slow play. Never play Greninja. Have fun. Be kind.

Wishing all the best to you in all of your endeavors,

Christopher


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