Broken Eggs, the Paleontologist

Alolan Exeggutor, Yveltal BREAK, and Lucario-GX/Omastar on Display for Daytona
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Next Up: The Daytona Dance!

Hello everyone! Travis Nunlist here rounding out this week at SixPrizes with a fresh take on Expanded just in time for the Daytona Beach Regional Championships coming up next weekend. It’s been a minute since we’ve been able to focus on the Expanded format, and we’ve seen an incredible amount of changes since then! Since my last Expanded piece, “Doing the Dallas Dance,” we’ve lost Delinquent, Lusamine, Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, and Unown DAMAGE from the format, bumping up the total number of banned cards from 7 to 11 and the total number of cards banned this season from 4 to 8. It seems like whoever is behind managing the Expanded format has decided to get a lot more aggressive with their banning of certain cards, which I think is overall a good thing. I’m generally fine with the game designers being cautious in these kinds of scenarios because it’s quite easy to unban a card should it prove to be fine, and I’d rather them be overzealous than not address a potential issue.

I’ve been quite happy with how we’ve seen the format play out so far because, for the time being, it seems like a lot of the degenerate control variants have found themselves sidelined with the changes. We’ve seen Night March and Drampa/Garbodor win the two Expanded events since the changes, with a plethora of variants, Archie’s Blastoise, Trevenant,Pikachu & Zekrom-GX rounding out the rest of the format. There are at least a half dozen other decks with some finishes here and there across both events, and the sheer variety of choices reminds me why I enjoy Expanded so much.

I’ve been having a great time testing out the new options in Expanded, and I’m hoping we see some of the new cards start to make a major impact soon. So far in the format we’ve seen some individual cards make an impact and has been doing fine, but overall it seems like a lot of the same decks are performing, minus the control variants that plagued the format earlier in the season. I’m usually very optimistic with new sets, but I think there are a lot of concepts with top tier potential should the right list get figured out.

Egg SPLAT: Alolan Exeggutor

Pokémon – 14

4 Exeggcute PLF

4 Alolan Exeggutor TEU 115

3 Ditto BCR

1 Ditto p

1 Mr. Mime BKT

1 Noivern-GX

Trainers – 42

4 Professor Sycamore

2 N

1 Lysandre
1 Lance p

1 Teammates

 

4 Trainers’ Mail
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Battle Compressor
3 Field Blower

3 Level Ball

2 Rescue Stretcher

2 Special Charge

1 Town Map
3 Choice Band
1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Shrine of Punishment

1 Silent Lab

Energy – 4

4 Double Dragon

The above list was piloted to a 28th place finish at the Toronto Regional Championships by my good pal Franklin Percic. When I first read that Alolan Exeggutor months back, I immediately thought it had potential in Expanded, and was beyond hyped to see Frank find success with the deck. The goal of the deck is to get three of your Exeggcute PLF into the discard pile with one Alolan Exeggutor in play and a Double Dragon Energy attached. Pulling the Exeggcutes into your hand with their Propagation Abilities allows you to then discard all three for a whopping 180 damage without any modifiers. This means you can hit the magical 210 mark with a Choice Band, and even higher if you decide to play Professor Kukui or Altaria DRM. If you’re able to keep all 4 Exeggcute in the discard and still set up Alolan Exeggutor via Ditto {} or Lance {} you can reach even higher at 240 without modifiers, and 270 with a Choice band!

Ditto BCR is especially useful here because it allows us to keep as many Eggs in the discard as possible while keeping something in play to help set up back-to-back Alolan Exeggutors.

I especially liked the Noivern-GX that Frank chose to include which has two different ways to come into play despite not having a Noibat in deck. You can either evolve it through Ditto {} or pull it out of the deck with Lance {}. Its attacks are great for setting up math on some of the bigger targets, slowing the game down to help set up, or even outright winning you the game in some scenarios.

List Review

1 Lysandre, 0 Guzma
This may seem odd at first, but I think I get the reasoning behind it. You generally will only ever have one attacker ready to go, so it is rare that you are fine with switching into a different attacker because the one you want to use is likely already Active. I’m not convinced this reasoning is worth taking the option of Guzma away altogether, but I definitely get it.

2 Shrine of Punishment, 1 Silent Lab
I don’t love the Stadiums here with first testing. The Shrines are super useful when you prize an Egg, and can help alleviate pressure on Dittos by allowing you to bench an additional Exeggcute ahead of time when a few Shrine ticks make the KO easier to reach, which are both fine, but don’t make the card super necessary. The Silent Lab shuts off a giant chunk of your deck which is quite scary, but it is incredibly useful against most opposing decks if timed right.

1 Dowsing Machine, 0 Computer Search
Call me a coward, but I’m a fan of Computer Search over Dowsing Machine in just about every single deck, expect for ones that can recycle their ACE SPEC throughout the game. Being able to search Double Dragon Energy is enough of a sell for me, and the fact that it’s always good versus sometimes better/sometimes worse is icing on the cake.

Prize Denied: Yveltal BREAK

Pokémon – 13

2 Yveltal XY

1 Yveltal TEU

2 Yveltal BREAK

3 Trubbish NVI

2 Garbodor GRI

1 Garbodor BKP

1 Sableye DEX

1 Tapu Koko SM31

Trainers – 36

3 Professor Sycamore

2 N

1 Brigette

1 Colress

1 Guzma

1 Teammates

 

4 Dark Patch

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

1 Battle Compressor

1 Counter Catcher

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Super Rod

3 Float Stone

2 Muscle Band

1 Choice Band

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Parallel City

1 Black Market p

Energy – 11

6 Darkness

3 Blend GRPD

2 Counter

I’ve had my eye on trying to get this to work in Expanded for some time now. The Hoopa-GX is what initially piqued my interest in the concept because of how well the GX attack synergizes with the spread strategy. However, testing made me like Pokémon who are worth more than 1 Prize less and less, and I’m currently sitting on the above list.

A major component of the deck that cannot go understated is just how strong Sableye DEX is with Black Market p. Counter Catcher, N, and Garbodor BKP with Black Market p has won me so many games on its own.

The Stadium can put your opponent in quite the bind, and if you’re lucky enough to end up sticking it at some point then your opponent’s out to win becomes decking out and benching you. If the Stadium sticks and you have constant access to Sableye DEX then you’re not going to get benched or deck out, so the ways you lose the game dwindle rather quickly.

Overall a deck like this can be prone to being run over by the likes of Archie’s Blastoise, but ideally gives you the comeback potential you need to pull out a matchup like that. Honestly, the Sableye part of this deck has been more fun than anything, which makes me almost want to build a Sableye deck with Ninetales PRC to lock Black Market p into play.

List Review

2 Garbodor GRI, 1 Garbodor BKP
I went with this split as a nod to Archie’s Blastoise more than anything else. Ability lock isn’t the most reliable against them because they usually have both Faba and a Field Blower, but Trashalanche is reliably doing a million damage by the second turn most games. This matchup is all about the Prize trade, so as long as you can stream Garbodor then you’ve got a chance.

2 Parallel City, 0 Shrine of Punishment
I’m still not sold on 0 Shrine of Punishment, but the deck just has so many Stadiums it can benefit from and you can’t play them all. Having access to Sableye DEX and Dowsing Machine means you can loop any of the Stadiums in the right scenarios, but Parallel City is one of the best Stadiums ever printed in the Pokémon TCG so I decided to stick with that for now.

1 Sableye, 1 Counter Catcher, 1 Enhanced Hammer
I would love nothing more than to up all of these counts and add in a suite of Trainers’ Mail to make the deck more Sableye/Garbodor-esque, but unfortunately space dictates the current counts. I’ve got some list changes in mind to make the deck more control-oriented (with the spread plays as more of a sweeper option), but finding the right balance between the two has been a bit difficult. As mentioned above, my next idea is to include a Ninetales PRC to lock in Black Market p.

Aura Bind: Lucario-GX/Omastar

Pokémon – 12

3 Riolu UPR

3 Lucario-GX

1 Buzzwole FLI

1 Buzzwole-GX

1 Diancie p

1 Omanyte TEU

2 Omastar TEU

Trainers – 38

4 Korrina

3 N

2 Acerola

2 Guzma

1 Faba

1 Professor Sycamore

1 Teammates

 

4 Ultra Ball

3 Unidentified Fossil

3 VS Seeker

2 Rare Candy

1 Beast Ring

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Field Blower

1 Professor’s Letter
3 Focus Sash
1 Float Stone

1 Scoop Up Cyclone

 

2 Silent Lab

1 Parallel City

Energy – 10

6 Fighting

4 Strong

I’m still not sure if it’s a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in-between but I just cannot let these Fossil cards go. I’ve said it before, but having so many different powerful Evolution lines coming from the same card just has to fit somewhere! My latest iteration is attempting to utilize Omastar, which reads: “As long as you have fewer Pokémon in play than your opponent, they can’t play any Item cards from their hand.” Though it does have a somewhat difficult clause to maintain, one-sided locks have consistently proven their worth when they’re figured out (see Trevenant BREAK, Seismitoad-EX, and Gothitelle EPO 47).

The goal here is to get a couple of Fighting Pokémon out on your first turn without filling your Bench up too much, and follow that up with a quick Omastar to begin slowing your opponent down while you try to swing with Lucario-GX every turn. You have the little Buzzwole to Sledgehammer should the opportunity arise, and the Buzzwole-GX provides a good buffer plus set-up damage via Jet Punch, then can hit like a tank if you get the Beast Ring off when the time comes.

Korrina pulls this entire engine together. On the first turn of the game Korrina is almost as good as Brigette being able to grab any Fighting Basic alongside an Unidentified Fossil. You can then follow that up with another Korrina for Rare Candy and Omastar TEU to begin the lock. Korrina has always been one of my favorite Supporters, and decks with Korrina engines have always been some of my favorite to play (e.g., Primal -EX).

List Review

0 Sudowoodo, 0 Octillery, 0 Tapu Lele-GX, 1 Diancie {}
I tried to minimize the Bench-sitters other than Omastar here as much as I could so we can rely on Fossil Bind without having a bunch of Pokémon we are unable to bench. As great as all of those support Pokémon are, we need to keep our Bench to a minimum at all times in order to ensure Fossil Bind stays active. I’m not yet convinced that Diancie {} is our best option yet. Because of the tanky Focus Sash route we’ve decided to take, the extra damage rarely matters on Lucario, but is much more useful with both Buzzwole. If Diancie p continues to be just “okay” we may switch to Octillery.

Parallel City is a very popular Stadium and a constant threat because any time an opponent can play a Stadium they can theoretically immediately regain access to their Items if our Bench has 3 or more Pokémon on it. In the same vein, we can use our own Parallel City to limit our Bench to 3 to make their lives a bit more difficult. Target Whistle is a card on my list to test because it can mess with your opponent’s Bench control and lock Omastar’s Fossil Bind in for the game if played at an opportune time.

If you wanted to get extra saucy you could try to find a balance between more of these techs and Omastar. I’m going to be messing around with cutting into the Omastar line a bit more because you can theoretically get away with a 1-0-1 line that includes either 1 Rare Candy or 1 Omanyte, which would cut the space taken all the way down to 3 slots as opposed to the current 8.

2 Omastar TEU, 0 other Fossils
I briefly had a Rampardos UPR and Kabutops TEU in the deck, but they quickly got the axe when I realized how important it is to keep your board at an absolute minimum at all times. The reality is a lot of games you can win just by cycling through a couple of Lucario and then switching off to a Buzzwole, so you really don’t need any additional fancy tricks once the Omastar starts to do its job. As long as you can avoid dead-drawing, you should be rockin’.

2 Silent Lab, 1 Parallel City, 0 Brooklet Hill
I ended up cutting all copies of Brooklet Hill when I realized I was rarely ever using it more than once in order to keep my Bench small. I went for the double Silent Lab because I learned from playing Sceptile/Vileplume at the Anaheim Regional Championships just how devastating Item and Ability lock can be at the same time, and the Parallel City helps me control Bench sizes which is especially appreciated with Fossil Bind.

Conclusion

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The above are just the of the iceberg when it comes to the spice I’ve been brewin’ in Expanded with Team Up and the most recent bans, but fortunately for y’all I filter through (most of) the especially ludicrous ideas before they make their way here. A couple of other decks I didn’t mention that I’ve been playing with are Buzzwole variants and Sceptile variants. I think Buzzwole and Fighting in general are in a pretty underappreciated spot in the format, but they either need to figure out how to reliably handle Archie’s Blastoise or strike at a time when Stoise is much less popular in order to make some deeper runs.

Looking forward to Daytona, I’m certain that Drampa/Garbodor and Archie’s Blastoise are the decks to beat and my best guess at what would comprise the majority of the rest of the meta includes Zoroark variants, Trevenant, and PikaRom decks. Everything else will likely be played in smaller numbers than any of the previously mentioned, but Expanded is always so wide open that it’s nearly impossible to account for the entire room when preparing for the event.

I’ve definitely mentioned this in previous articles focused on Expanded, but because the format can be so wide open with a plethora of viable concepts, the #1 most important thing going into this event is to be comfortable with your deck. It is always preferable to play a Tier 2 deck perfectly than a Tier 1 deck at an average level.

The first great example of this that comes to mind is fellow SixPrizes writer Rahul Reddy who has played at a staggering amount of events in the Expanded format. I’m certain (and I’m sure he would agree) that Vespiquen was not the perfect play for every single one of those events, but his experience with the deck and ability to play it perfectly consistently carried him to several great finishes.

Sadly I will not be attending the Daytona because the traveling to the opposite side of the country is way too much work. Looking at the schedule of events coming up, I think my next big tournament might end up being Santa Clara as it is relatively local for me being in California. I’m not confirmed for that event just yet, but I 100% know that I will be at the Madison Regional Championships. As always, please come up and say hello should you see me at an event or elsewhere. Until next time!


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