Your Daily Dose of Vitamin Bee

Inspecting the Big Two (to Counter) for Daytona and Bringing Back Bees

Hello again everyone! It’s a pleasure to be back again with another article and another Expanded article at that. My last piece, “Pinch Me, I’m Playing Green,” was also a feature on Expanded where I detailed the then recent bans of Lusamine and Delinquent and how the format has gotten considerably healthier, and today we’ll be discussing:

  1. what I believe are the Big Two decks to counter coming into this weekend and
  2. a personal favorite of mine, /.
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“To bee, or not to bee?”—Is that even a question? (Revised list coming up!)

Expanded had gotten a reputation for being a format filled with degenerate decks, and until very recently this was holding true. Games were decided on the first turn and many players couldn’t even play the game, having their whole hand stripped away before they could take their first turn. The recent bans have changed all that and created a much more fun environment, with aggressive decks taking the helm again and control/cheese strategies falling by the wayside. I myself haven’t had a lot of time to explore some of the options that have been kept down by the degenerate decks, but I did have plenty of time to test out Vespiquen/Flareon with the new changes.

Before we get into the wild, buzzing world of Vespiquen, let us take a few moments to recap what I think are the biggest decks to worry about for Daytona this coming weekend. In my personal testing I would say that taking a loss to more than one of these decks is a recipe for disaster as you head into this Expanded event.

The Big Two

1. Zoroark/Garbodor

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has always been a juggernaut in Expanded since its initial release. Kian Amini and company piloted a Zoroark-GX/Alolan Muk deck to great success at the first Regionals that the deck had been legal for, in 2017, and it set the standard for all Zoroark-GX decks moving forward.

Zoroark has a few cards that make it as powerful as it is currently. The first of which is Exeggcute PLF which has the Ability Propagation. Zoroark-GX can abuse this Ability by using Trade without the drawbacks of discarding a card from their hand. Combined with Colress and Brigette, the deck can set up under any circumstances and throw a lot of damage at you, fast. Combined with another of the most powerful cards the game has ever seen, Garbodor BKP, it becomes one of the best decks in the Expanded format.

What are some of the tech cards that you can include in this deck?

Tech Cards

1 Wobbuffet PHF
Noah Bujak’s 2nd place Toronto list played a singular copy of Wobbuffet PHF as a mechanic to slow down your opponent. Zoroark-GX decks are inherently weak to the speed of Archie’s and decks, so being able to promote an early Wobbuffet or open with it can slow your opponent down long enough for you to set up your board and compete with that speed that they offer. Once the is online this card isn’t needed anymore, but it gives Archie’s a hard time setting up while it is in the Active slot.

1 Zoroark BLW
Both Noah’s 2nd place list as well as Justin Bokhari’s 13th place list from Greensboro sported a single copy of the Foul Play Zoroark. This card in tandem with Hypnotoxic Laser is meant to deal with a single Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, as well as have an answer to a possible Buzzwole-GX. Being able to 1HKO the Buzzwole-GX with a single-Prize attacker can often leave your opponent scrambling for resources, forcing them to answer the threat; if they’re unable to, you can Foul Play again.

1 Hypnotoxic Laser
As I mentioned before, when paired with Zoroark BLW you can copy Tag Bolt GX with a Choice Band and Hypnotoxic Laser for a 1HKO on a Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, securing yourself 3 Prize cards and hopefully a chance to slow them down enough to where you can take control of the game again. If you need a turn to swing the tempo around, a fortuitous Laser flip can buy you the turn you need with your opponent’s Pokémon staying Asleep. (Lest we forget how games were decided just a few years ago and how powerful this card was at the time.) Laser also helps with some awkward math that Zoroark struggles with under Sudowoodo BKP and Parallel City, so it is a useful inclusion.

1 Counter Catcher
Counter Catcher has begun making its way into some lists as a cute tech card for when you fall behind. Imagine a turn where Zoroark-GX establishes their Garbodor, manages to bring up your threat on the Bench, as well as N you to a low hand size. The addition of a card that does what a Supporter card (i.e., Guzma) can do without actually using your Supporter card for the turn creates a lot of value for a deck like Zoroark-GX that can go through their whole deck quickly.

Dowsing Machine vs. Computer Search
Computer Search is the popular ACE SPEC of choice because it is the most consistent at setting up in the early game. I prefer the Dowsing Machine because it allows you to replay all these cute tech cards. Why Laser only once when you can do it twice? The possibilities are endless with Dowsing Machine!

Matchup Spread

Archie’s Blastoise: Slightly Unfavored
I think this matchup is slightly unfavored because Archie’s can set up incredibly quickly and an early Towering Splash can cripple the Zoroark-GX player. Azul Garcia Griego finished 2nd place with Archie’s that sported 2 copies of Field Blower which allowed him to brush past the Garbodor in crucial turns, using his Abilities. Some of the lists even play Eevee & Snorlax-GX which can deal with your Zoroark-GX efficiently while you have no good answer to it other than Trashalanche.

PikaRom: Even
I believe this matchup can either be favored or unfavored depending on the tech cards you choose to play. Zoroark BLW and Hypnotoxic Laser are vital to swinging the matchup in your favor, but without those two cards it can be tough at times. Mr. Mime BKT is another excellent card you can play to protect yourself from a crippling Tag Bolt GX. The matchup can get really scary if they flood the board with Energies and you have a slow start, which makes the matchup unfavorable as well.

Mirror: Even
This once again comes down to some of the tech cards that both players play. An early Wobbuffet can slow your opponent down but also cripple you at the same time. Going first gives that player a huge advantage and leaves the other player looking for their Brigette or the game is pretty much over. It is a frustrating mirror match to play, but an early Garbodor can seal one player’s fate.

2. Archie’s Blastoise

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Archie’s Blastoise won the 2015 World Championships in the hands of Jacob Van Wagner and since then has been a powerhouse of the Expanded format. Archie’s Blastoise has evolved over time, but the idea of the deck has remained the same: Get the Turn 1 Archie’s Ace in the Hole and command the board with a powerful attacker loaded up with Energies. Your opponent has to respond quickly to the pressure that it puts on or the game can end in a few turns. Recently, Archie’s took 2nd place at the Greensboro Regional Championships in the hands of Azul Garcia Griego who played quite an interesting list. Azul’s list (located below) played 2 copies of Field Blower (as well as a Eevee & Snorlax-GX) which gave him a slight edge in many of the Garbodor matchups he found himself face to face with. Let’s explore some of the tech options for this turbo consistent deck!

Decklist

Pokémon (14)

2 Blastoise PLB

1 Magikarp & Wailord-GX

1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX

1 Volcanion p

1 Articuno ROS 17

1 Onix LOT

1 Kingdra-GX

2 Exeggcute PLF

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Marshadow SLG

Trainer (36)

2 Archie’s Ace in the Hole

1 Fisherman

1 Guzma

1 Professor Sycamore

1 Tate & Liza

 

4 Battle Compressor

4 Order Pad

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Field Blower

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Choice Band

1 Computer Search

 

1 Silent Lab

Energy (10)

10 Water

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 14

* 2 Blastoise PLB 16
* 1 Magikarp & Wailord-GX PR-SM 166
* 1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX TEU 120
* 1 Volcanion p FLI 31
* 1 Articuno ROS 17
* 1 Onix LOT 109
* 1 Kingdra-GX DRM 18
* 2 Exeggcute PLF 4
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 2 Archie’s Ace in the Hole PRC 124
* 1 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Tate & Liza CES 166
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Fisherman CES 130
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 4 Ultra Ball SLG 68
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 4 Trainers' Mail AOR 100
* 4 Order Pad UPR 131
* 4 Superior Energy Retrieval PLF 103
* 2 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Professor’s Letter BKT 146
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Silent Lab PRC 140

##Energy - 10

* 10 Water Energy Energy 3

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73084 ******

Tech Cards

1 Articuno ROS 17
Articuno was a card that was initially played in many lists to deal with decks like and Vespiquen, but as time passed the card has been removed for other options. It made its way back into lists because of Jimmy Pendarvis’s recent win in Toronto with Night March. I think this card can be removed in favor of anything else moving into Daytona. There was a lot of hate for Night March and Vespiquen in Greensboro, and I think anyone would be crazy to play those decks into Daytona after seeing that. (Spoiler alert: I am crazy.)

1 Onix LOT
Onix LOT is a strong answer to Zoroark-GX decks as well as Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. If they can’t find their Flash Energy then you can just 1HKO and take 3 Prizes all of a sudden. It is also a solid 1-Prize attacker in a lot of matchups where you can’t afford to use a lot of GX Pokémon to attack.

“Hello Zoroark, our new friend…” ?

1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX
Eevee & Snorlax is a card that I had been advocating for strongly since its release in Expanded. In Toronto we saw players choose not to play it in favor of more aggressive options like Palkia-GX to deal with Pikachu & Zekrom. Eevee & Snorlax gives you the perfect answer to Zoroark-GX without expending too many resources at once. Zoroark-GX has a hard time answering this card and it can take 4 Prizes before it hits the discard, which makes it a worthwhile tech card.

1 Kingdra-GX
Kingdra-GX is an interesting card because it requires you to be able to pull off the Archie’s combo two turns in a row, in order to get it out. Once you’ve pulled the combo off, however, you have an attacker that has a theoretical infinite damage cap and can deal with a majority of the format, even that pesky Celebi & Venusaur-GX. Maelstrom GX is an interesting attack early as well because it sets up the board for knockouts as the game goes on, and against 1-Prize decks like Vespiquen/Flareon, it can sweep their board if they neglect to find their Mr. Mime early.

Marshadow SLG vs. N
Lists are playing one or the other currently and I am torn myself. I prefer having N to use multiple times in a single game and as a comeback card, but Marshadow doesn’t use your Supporter for the turn so you can Let Loose and then go for a second attempt at getting Archie’s out. Marshadow was in Azul’s 2nd place list and he used it to great success, but it isn’t a card that you can recycle so I prefer the N. Both are excellent options and I think you need to play one or the other in a tournament; you cannot go without playing one.

Matchup Spread

Zoroark/Garbodor: Favorable
This matchup was a little tough because of Archie’s reliance on Item cards, but with 2 Field Blower and an Eevee & Snorlax-GX the matchup becomes slightly favorable. Having the 2 Field Blower can blow the game wide open with a Towering Splash GX after a single attack from Volcanion p. Onix also makes you have an attacker that can 1HKO Zoroark-GX while only giving up a single Prize.

PikaRom: Unfavorable
This matchup is a battle of speed, and unfortunately for Archie’s, they need to get two pieces off to contest a quick Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. If PikaRom finds their Flash Energy then Archie’s needs to find their Kingdra-GX to answer the imminent threat because Onix won’t do the trick. If PikaRom manages to get an early Tag Bolt GX, they can clear your board of Blastoise and your attacker all at the same time which is scary. If you choose to play a Palkia-GX, you have a better shot against this matchup because you can shuffle in all of their Energy cards with Zero Vanish GX, but I think Palkia-GX is a bad card in the deck and doesn’t even help the matchup that much, so I would opt not to play it. With a Choice Band, Eevee & Snorlax-GX can 1HKO a Pikachu & Zekrom as well.

Mirror: Even
This matchup, like the Zoroark/Garbodor mirror, revolves heavily on who goes first and who gets the first Archie’s out. If the player going first manages to get an Archie’s out on their first turn and the Silent Lab you can say goodnight, Gracie. The mirror matchup is more luck based but the tech attackers do in fact matter. If Articuno and Volcanion p can do some of the heavy lifting then Magikarp & Wailord or Eevee & Snorlax can play a big role.

Just Buzzing Around with Vespiquen/Flareon

As fellow writer Travis Nunlist mentioned in his article “Broken Eggs, the Paleontologist,” playing what you know best in a wild jungle like Expanded is the best thing to do if you are lost. For me, that deck is Vespiquen/Flareon and I believe that the deck can always surprise anyone, in any metagame. Here is the list that I would play if I was to consider Vespiquen/Flareon for this event!

Decklist

Pokémon (28)

4 Combee AOR

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

3 Eevee UPR 105

3 Flareon PLF

1 Ditto p

1 Alolan Muk SUM

4 Unown AOR

2 Marshadow SLG

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Exeggcute PLF

1 Mr. Mime BKT

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainer (28)

3 Professor Juniper

1 Colress

1 Faba

1 Guzma

1 N

1 Teammates

 

4 Battle Compressor

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Special Charge

1 Rescue Stretcher

2 Choice Band

1 Float Stone

1 Computer Search

 

1 Parallel City

Energy (4)

4 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 28

* 4 Combee AOR 9
* 4 Vespiquen AOR 10
* 3 Eevee UPR 105
* 3 Flareon PLF 12
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 4 Unown AOR 30
* 2 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Oranguru SUM 113
* 1 Exeggcute PLF 4
* 1 Mr. Mime BKT 97
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60

##Trainer Cards - 28

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 3 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 2 Special Charge STS 105
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 1 Teammates PRC 160
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 135
* 1 Parallel City BKT 145
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Faba LOT 208
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109

##Energy - 4

* 4 Double Colorless Energy NXD 92

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73084 ******

Tech Cards

1 Alolan Muk SUM
Alolan Muk is in the deck to deal with walls like Xurkitree-GX and slow down decks like Archie’s Blastoise and PikaRom enough to make them play your game. The Ditto p could just as well be a Grimer, but I like having the option of making it into another attacker if Muk isn’t relevant for a certain matchup.

2 Marshadow SLG
Marshadow has become a really efficient way to continue digging through your deck for resources while not putting a GX Pokémon down onto your Bench. If you can find your Parallel City as well it makes for two extra Pokémon into the discard. It makes for great extra dig and just the right amount of disruption!

1 Faba
There was initially a Field Blower in this slot, but after careful consideration I decided that being able to search for the Faba using Battle Compressor plus VS Seeker or Tapu Lele-GX was crucial for having it when you need it. Being able to reuse it was better than having it for a one-time use and not being able to bring it back if it hit the discard. Faba helps out a lot against Garbodor decks as well as removing the Silent Lab that Archie’s decks play down against you.

1 Rescue Stretcher
With the massive amounts of HP that Pokémon have these days you gotta dig further into your deck sometimes and discard more Pokémon than you’re used to. You might be left without an attacker for the following turn and just a Combee or Eevee left on your board. The Stretcher makes it so you can make a play like that and then shuffle in exactly enough for another pair of attackers to close out the game. In situations where you have an abysmal hand, you can even discard a Marshadow SLG or Tapu Lele-GX for the Stretcher play and make that hand live again.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts on Expanded

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Fewer players have been turning up for Expanded events, though the format is now good.

It’s once again time to bid you farewell, but first a few parting thoughts. Expanded is healthier than it has ever been and Daytona and Hartford should both be interesting to see how they turn out and if anyone has some secret spice brewing with this giant pool of cards we have. That being said, I believe that Expanded shouldn’t be a format in the following year because it creates a barrier to entry for newer players. This year’s attendance numbers can only vouch for that with Expanded Regionals’ turnouts being comparatively lower than Standard’s.

As Travis Nunlist said it best, play what you know best. Do not switch up your deck last minute in an attempt to metagame the competition because, at the end of the day, your nine rounds are determined by TOM, the pairing software. You could hit all the matchups that you wanted or end up against Donphan or Durant Mill in your first few rounds—only fate will tell.

Go out there and have fun above all else and enjoy the Expanded format finally free of the degenerate cards! (Or so we think!)

I’ll be attending Daytona and heading to Berlin on a last-second miracle, but I will unfortunately be missing out on Hartford this year (I walk for my undergraduate diploma that weekend). My next article won’t be until after Unbroken Bonds hits the shelves and we’ve already had Santa Clara in the books, so start testing for that because the new set looks really fun and promising. Thank you for sticking with me and I’ll see all of you next time!


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