Hello again readers, it’s a pleasure to be back with you so soon. We just saw Dallas get dominated by Zoroark-GX (shocker, right?) and Archie attempt to make a comeback, though it seemingly failed in the Zoro-concentrated Day 2 field. I saw some success playing good ol’ Primal Groudon. Today I’m going to go over what led me to that choice, my thoughts on Expanded in general, the pre-Team Up Standard format, and finally Team Up.
What I Played: Primal Groudon
I’m trying to think of another deck that has had such longevity in the field of viability, and I’m drawing a blank. There have been no Regionals since the initial rise of Primal Groudon that I feel the deck has been utterly unplayable. Dallas was no exception to this. We saw a few vastly different takes on the deck this past weekend, all of them viable in their own right. My build was built more as an attacking–mill-style deck, whereas the others we saw focused more on healing their Groudon rather than alternate attackers.
1 Regirock XY49
1 Switch HS 102
5 F Energy
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 12
##Trainer Cards - 39
* 2 Cynthia UPR 148
* 2 N FCO 105
* 2 Steven’s Resolve CES 165
* 4 Korrina FFI 95
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 2 Lusamine CIN 110
* 1 Team Rocket’s Handiwork FCO 124
* 1 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 1 Lysandre AOR 78
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 AZ PHF 91
* 2 Focus Sash FFI 91
* 1 Float Stone PLF 99
* 1 Bent Spoon FCO 93
* 1 Target Whistle Team Flare Gear PHF 106
* 1 Wishful Baton BUS 128
* 1 Professor’s Letter BKT 146
* 1 Scramble Switch PLS 129
* 3 Tropical Beach PR-BLW BW50
* 1 Beast Ring FLI 141
* 1 Super Rod DRV 20
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 1 Counter Catcher CIN 120
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 1 Pokémon Center Lady GEN 68
* 1 Switch HS 102
##Energy - 9
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72325 ******
Hours of testing with my friend, Wes Hollenberg, led us to believe that Groudon was once again an incredibly strong play. I also have to give credit to Aiden Toler for sending me his list, which I used as a baseline for my own.
Dallas Regionals 2019 // 802 Masters
R1: Zorogarb WW (1-0-0)
R2: Lucario LL (1-1-0)
R3: Bees LL (1-2-0)
R4: SceptilePlume WW (2-2-0)
R5: Gardy (w/ Fairy Charms) WW (3-2-0)
R6: Zoro Exodia WLW (4-2-0)
R7: Mally Bees WW (5-2-0)
R8: BuzzShrine WW (6-2-0)
R9: Buzz GX ID (6-2-1)
R10: Zorogarb WLT (6-2-2)
R11: Buzzshrine WW (7-2-2)
R12: Wailord Walls WW (8-2-2)
R13: ZoroToad WW (9-2-2)
R14: Archie LWL (9-3-2) (W by way of Game Loss)
R15: Zoro Exodia WLL (9-4-2)
Out of 15 rounds, I managed to hit 11 unique matchups. I think this shows that Expanded can be quite the diverse and interesting format.
This was by far the single strongest card in my deck. Period. I’ve never before played a tech card that would end up winning over one-third of the games I played during the weekend. The theory behind Snorlax is that after your opponent has KO’d all of your Wobbuffet and left you with Pokémon who all have Omega Barrier, you can drop Snorlax and Guzma up a Pokémon that cannot attack. This is a strategy that you have to be planning for the entire game, usually, but it is possible to pull out of thin air with the correct combination of cards. Needless to say, I would have done much worse in the event had I not included Snorlax.
Buzzwole-GX, 1 Buzzwole FLI, & 1 Beast Ring1
Buzzwole-GX is not an unknown concept in Groudon. However, I have yet to see another group play Buzzwole FLI in their lists. The card has incredibly synergy with Omega Barrier, Wobbuffet, and Focus Sash. I actually won multiple games without even putting a Groudon into play because of these two cards. Buzzwole-GX also has a certain synergy with Target Whistle, which allows us to put that nice little Exeggcute onto our opponent’s Bench early or late game for an easy Prize card. Beast Ring works well with both of these cards, so it seems stupid to not play a copy. Beast Ring is also a form of acceleration when coupled with Scramble Switch if we can’t power up a Groudon fast enough.
I really didn’t want to lose to decks like ZoroToad. If we find Bent Spoon early enough, we can completely prevent our opponent from ever using Cold Crush-GX to cripple us.
I already mentioned the synergy with Buzzwole-GX, but Target Whistle also allows us to place a Snorlax target onto our opponent’s Bench. There is also the added bonus that against single-Prize-attacker decks, like Bees, we can place a Shaymin or something similar for a 2-Prize KO.
Steven’s Resolve is such an insane card in a deck like Groudon, where our sole goal early game is to find and attach Energy. It also allows us to set up the Snorlax combo effortlessly, assuming we don’t have our hand disrupted.
Tropical Beach (?)3
Groudon has always played 4 Tropical Beach. So why did I mess with this count?Well, I found myself using Steven’s more often when given the choice. However, Steven’s does not provide a Stadium for us to deal the extra 100 damage with. Lusamine covers this flaw fairly well, essentially allowing us to infinitely recycle our Tropical Beach.
F Energy (?)5
For as long as I can remember, there has always been a single copy of a P Energy in Groudon. However, with the addition of Beast Ring and the Buzzwole, the P Energy is no longer without risk. So, we finally cut it from our lists in favor of the F Energy.
Not Played, but Could’ve Been
Wes ended up playing this, along with a few more consistency cards, over the Snorlax stuff. It would more than likely be a good card to play, but lists are tight enough as it is. The theory is that as long as you have a VS Seeker in your hand, you can Korrina for any Supporter you want for your next turn.
We suffer sketchy matchups against any decks that are able to easily do damage to our Benched Groudon while we’re setting it up. Mr. Mime would likely help this problem, but it comes at the cost of being a Pokémon that we can start that isn’t Wobbuffet.
We initially cut this from our list without realizing that Bees became much harder for us. Oops. If we were to play it, it’s very simple to Faba the 4 DCE from play and then win. Oh well, too late now.
The game plan with this deck is similar in almost every matchup. Sit behind a Wobbuffet, power up a Groudon, and take Prizes, or resort to milling if you cannot take Prize cards. To save time, I’m just going to go through and list each matchup as Favored, Even, or Unfavored.
- Bees (w/ Faba)
- BuzzShrine (Snorlax Lock is easy here)
- Any other deck that plays a Snorlax target with no way out.
Thoughts on Expanded as a Whole
There’s quite a bit of hate for Expanded going around right now, and I can certainly understand why many don’t like the format. However, due to the insanely large card pool, there are so many decks that are viable for play. The biggest grievances people seem to have with the format are Zoroark-GX and Lusamine.
Lusamine Be Banned?Should Zoroark and
Many have proposed errata as a way to fix the problems with these cards. I don’t think that this would be the correct course of action in any way, shape, or form. From what I witnessed this past weekend, the entire format is oppressive. My personal opinion on Expanded as a whole is that it needs a major rework, and that banning just a few cards isn’t going to fix it.
Say we ban Zoroark-GX, for instance. Nothing stands up to the new Archie deck. Say we then ban that after it dominates a Regional. We now have Trevenant without any bad matchups, so it will then dominate the next major event. Well, what’s the best way to nerf Trevenant? Bring back Zoroark-GX. Now we’ve achieved nothing, and we’re still in a format full of broken combos.
My personal thoughts are that we need to let the year play out, banning any combos that legitimately break the game, and then next season, either ban a ton of cards, or remove Expanded in general.
Lusamine is another matter altogether. Just ban it and move on. Please.
Standard, Pre-Team Up (SUM–LOT)
For most, this is a format that doesn’t matter anymore beyond local-level events. However, for those attending the slew of SPEs coming up, it’s still relevant. I myself have to worry about this format still, so it feels worth the time to write my thoughts on it.
Let Loose, Lost March
Marshadow SLG has enjoyed quite a bit of play recently, due to its ability to completely shut your opponent out of the game due to our the lack of strong draw support in the game currently. The deck that seemingly abuses Marshadow the most right now is ironically Lost March. This was the deck that was regarded as too inconsistent to ever see play. Well, people have finally made it consistent and it’s now incredibly strong against everything, excluding spread decks. I myself have found personal enjoyment playing off-meta decks at local events and doing somewhat well. It is immensely satisfying to play an unknown deck and come out with a good placement, and Standard seems to be full of completely random decks that can be viable.
One Unknown: Swampert/Solgaleo
This is a concept that a few players had already been playing around with, but the list below, inspired by Michael Catron, that I used to win a League Cup, is a much different take on the deck than what we’ve seen in the past.
3 Solgaleo-GX SM104
1 Ditto p
4 Rare Candy UL 82
1 Pal Pad
5 W Energy
4 Double Colorless Energy
2 Y Energy
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 22
* 3 Mudkip CES 32
* 1 Marshtomp CES 34
* 3 Swampert CES 35
* 3 Cosmog SUM 64
* 1 Cosmoem UPR 61
* 3 Solgaleo-GX PR-SM SM104
* 2 Alolan Vulpix GRI 21
* 2 Alolan Ninetales-GX LOT 225
* 1 Alolan Ninetales-GX GRI 22
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
##Trainer Cards - 26
* 3 Professor Elm’s Lecture LOT 188
* 4 Cynthia UPR 119
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Pal Pad UPR 132
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 4 Rare Candy UL 82
* 2 Aqua Patch GRI 119
* 2 Timer Ball SUM 134
* 3 Max Potion GRI 128
##Energy - 12
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72325 ******
The idea of using W Energy and Swampert as an attacker hasn’t been explored as much as it should have been in the current format. Very few things can 1HKO a Swampert and have it be worth the effort. Swampert is also a perfect attacker to deal with Blacephalon. I’m heavily considering this deck for my next few Standard events because of how strong it is.
1 Ninetales-GX GRI: IceTales is such a powerful card in certain matchups that it would be a very bad idea to cut it. The ability to snipe a Hoppip or two against Lost March is invaluable, and Ice Path-GX allows you to tank multiple turns against decks like Zoroark and BuzzShrine.
2 Timer Ball: I hate this card. I really do. It’s just that the times you flip heads will result in multiple Stage 2s dropping in one turn. 4/11 games I played with the deck in the Cup resulted in three Stage 2s in play on turn two, and in two more games I actually avoided playing the third ones intentionally due to the Weavile threat.
1 Pal Pad: I initially didn’t see a point to playing Pal Pad. And then I tested a few games. We burn through Guzma way too quickly to not have a way to recycle them. There have been games that I’ve had to use Guzma 5 times to win.
2 Y Energy: The Fairy Alolan Ninetales-GX is another support Pokémon that doubles as an attacker. Between Snowy Wind and Sublimation-GX, it can easily take 3 Prizes in the Blacephalon matchup before getting KO’d.
1 Mallow: This is something that I considered, but eventually decided was unnecessary, because of how often I would prefer to play another Supporter. However, in a best-of-3 format, the extra consistency might be worth the turn it costs to use.
1 Cyrus p: I wanted to play this at the Cup, but was unable to find the space to justify it. There are definitely situations where it can win games, specifically in the Zoroark matchups.
1 Volcanion p: Having a 160-HP Basic that can do spread damage seems pretty good. It is, but Bench space comes at a premium here, and a big 3-Retreat Pokémon is dangerous to start with.
1 Solgaleo-GX SUM: I would really only include this if Wall decks are common in the area. If we have infinite switches, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever lose to a wall deck.
There are quite a few viable decks in Standard right now, so I’m going to be more brief than normal here.
Attack with FairyTales and Swampert a lot. Try to avoid playing down extra Pokémon-GX. Aqua Patch becomes really important here, because it allows you to drop a Swampert out of nowhere.
Zoroark Decks w/o Weavile: Favored
These are favored because they don’t really have a great answer for an attacking Swampert. Yes, they can heal just as well as us, but it generally requires their Supporter to be played. Targeting down Basics is a great way to take your first few Prize cards, and you should be able to take a GX KO at some point with Swampert and Super Boost coupled with a few basic Energy or some chip damage from a Ninetales.
Weavile is really quite a pain to play against. Literally all of our Pokémon have Abilities, so the damage adds up fast. Against BuzzShrine we can function with fewer Abilities, but Zoroark can apply much more pressure. Here, it is best to target down any Sneasel/Weavile in play, while limiting your Ability count to 3 or less.
Swampert is a very strong attacker here, and IceTales allows us to tank a hit and send it right back with Ice Path-GX. Target down the Malamar when possible, and take a GX KO if you have the damage output, but Malamar certainly takes the priority.
If you play Solgaleo-GX, I truly do not see a way to lose this matchup. If not, be incredibly careful with what you bench. Eventually, you’ll have a Swampert with 5 W Energy, and you’ll run through your opponent. If you find that they are getting to 35 cards too fast, just add a Judge.
We have 250 HP, hit their Ninetales-GX for Weakness, and have a lot of healing. It’s very hard for them to take a big KO after they use their GX attack, so as long as we’re careful about our Benched GXs, we should be fine.
Lost March: Even
Marshadow can potentially end our game before it even begins, which is why I’m wary of this matchup. However, if you do survive the first turns, IceTales is the perfect Pokémon to lead with, because by sniping their Hoppip, we limit their damage output by quite a bit. Solgaleo-GX also has 250 HP and Psychic Resistance, so it can easily tank a hit, and be healed through a Max Potion. Basically, if you set up, you probably win.
Standard, Post-Team Up (SUM–TEU)
I have yet to do any testing in this format, due to Expanded and my current Standard issue, but a preliminary glance at the set tells me that Malamar is going to be disgustingly good. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (PikaRom) also appears to have great potential, so I’m going to make sure to test that once I have time.
The set is full of cute concepts that I’m sure will be attempted by many people, but, from what I understand, none of them are game-breakingly good. If you have unlimited time, then sure, some might be worth the time and effort to futz with, but if you’re limited in your testing time, it would be best to focus on the stronger, more proven decks.
I’ll have a much better understanding of Team Up next time (Feb 7), so look forward to that. I now have an irrational fear of whales after Dallas, and hope and pray that Pokémon decides to fix something with their next ban list, but I expect nothing of the sort to happen.
Anyway, I’ll see y’all next time. As always, good luck with whatever you’re doing next, Pokémon or otherwise. Feel free to PM or walk up to me with any questions regarding the article or just questions in general. See some of you soon. Until the next one.
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.