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Meta Shifts to Hartford, How to Counter Shock Lock, Plus Zoroark/Vespiquen and Buzzwole/Garbodor/Jirachi for this Weekend

Hello again readers, I’m with you today to talk about the upcoming Regional in Hartford this weekend. I once again have 6P’s final word before the event, so I will endeavor to make it a good one. To get this out of the way now, I will not be attending the event this weekend, but I still have some thoughts on the meta and what “the play” is.

Meta Shifts: From Daytona to Hartford

The meta is deeply rooted but has short-term memory.

But before anything else, I want to talk about how the Daytona meta is likely going to impact what we see in Hartford.

Takeaways from Daytona

  • Over half of Top 8 was made up of Control decks
  • Zoroark/Garbodor and Archie’s Blastoise fell off the map in Day 2
  • Seismitoad is back and still a major threat
  • Shock Lock made two consecutive Top 8 placements by the same player
  • PikaRom is easily the strongest deck in the game

The Impact

But what does this all mean? Hot Take #1: We should see more people playing Shock Lock. How does the game deal with this though? There are a number of ways:

  1. Play 2 Zoroark BKT in any Zoroark deck,
  2. play 2 Switch and Oranguru UPR in literally any deck, or
  3. play Garbodor.

Hot Take #2: Remember Vespiquen/Zoroark? Well, I think that it’s about to make a major comeback if the right player plays the right list.

Hot Take #3: Seismitoad decks are somewhat easier to deal with than Shock Lock, because a Pokémon Ranger can completely turn the game upside-down (and Pokémon Ranger will see play).

Going into Hartford, I expect to see multiple Shock Locks, a good amount of Zoroark/Seismitoad, and a ton of PikaRom.


I believe that this list is the best way to play the deck, but there are other ways to play it.

Pokémon (26)

4 Zorua DEX 70

3 Zoroark-GX

2 Zoroark BKT

2 Combee AOR

2 Vespiquen AOR 10

2 Eevee UPR 105

1 Flareon PLF

1 Flareon AOR

1 Alolan Grimer SUM

1 Alolan Muk SUM

1 Ditto p

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Tapu Lele-GX

2 Exeggcute PLB

Trainer (28)

2 Colress

1 Blacksmith

1 Brigette

1 Guzma

1 Lysandre p

1 N

1 Pokémon Ranger

1 Professor Sycamore


4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

1 Battle Compressor

1 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Special Charge


2 Choice Band

1 Float Stone


1 Computer Search


2 Sky Field

1 Parallel City

Energy (6)

4 Double Colorless

2 R


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 26

* 4 Zorua DEX 70
* 3 Zoroark-GX SLG 77
* 2 Zoroark BKT 91
* 2 Combee AOR 9
* 2 Vespiquen AOR 10
* 2 Eevee UPR 105
* 1 Flareon PLF 12
* 1 Flareon AOR 13
* 1 Alolan Grimer SUM 57
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 2 Exeggcute PLB 102

##Trainer Cards - 28

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 1 Blacksmith FLF 88
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Brigette BKT 161
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 2 Colress PLS 135
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 1 Lysandre p FLI 110
* 2 Sky Field ROS 89
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 104
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 1 Parallel City BKT 145
* 1 Float Stone PLF 99
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Special Charge STS 105

##Energy - 6

* 4 Double Colorless Energy GRI 166
* 2 R Energy GEN 76

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

I built this by taking a Zoroark/Garbodor list and cutting all of the cards that felt like techs or were involved in the Garbodor aspect of the deck. I don’t think I’ve missed anything vital, and it has performed well in the games I have played with it.

Other ways to build this deck are:

I don’t think either of these have as much potential as the Flareon variant, because Blacksmith and R Energy provide outs to a few different matchups.

Card Choices

2-1/1 Flareon

There are two helpful Flareon in the game. One has Vengeance and the other makes all of our Stage 1 Pokémon Fire-type. Both of these are vital to our deck’s strategy.

1-1 Alolan Muk SUM

We’re also a Sky Field deck that runs Zoroark-GX, so it is vital that we shut down Sudowoodo GRI. There is also the fact that it makes Xurkitree-GX obsolete.

4-3/2 Zoroark

We don’t have space for 6 Zoroark cards, which resulted in me cutting a 4th Zoroark-GX. I decided that I needed 2 Zoroark BKT to make Shock Lock favored, and it is also a strong attacker in many other matchups.

1 Blacksmith & 2 R Energy

When all of our Pokémon are Fire types, we can use Blacksmith on any of our attackers to attach Energy that cannot be removed via Faba or Enhanced Hammer. This helps swing our ZoroToad and Shock Lock matchups in our favor.

1 Lysandre p

Since we have the ability to have quite a few Fire Pokémon in play, playing Lysandre p makes sense. We can Lost Zone our opponent’s Exeggcute, Supporters, and other important cards.

1 Pokémon Ranger

With the rise of Seismitoad-EX, we need to be able to get out of Item lock as often as possible, and it’s very likely that our opponent plays Karen, so we may need to use Items to discard Pokémon again.

Potential Inclusions

Sudowoodo GRI

We play Sky Field, so it is not the worst idea to try and limit our opponent’s Bench to 4. However, I would rather our opponent play into Mind Jack or a crippling Parallel City.

Sudowoodo BKP & 1 Counter Energy

If PikaRom ends up being too difficult for some reason, this is an easy answer that fits into the deck well.

Mr. Mime BKT/PLF

Bench Barrier is an important Ability, but I did not manage to find space for it. I would try to find a slot, but I feel that Archie’s Blastoise will see much less play.

3rd R Energy

I would like to have a 3rd copy of a R Energy because it is easy to Prize one of them.

The Matchup Spread

Archie’s Blastoise: Favored

Vespiquen provides a great out to winning this matchup. Most of their attackers are weak to Grass, and that is vital for us. Eevee & Snorlax-GX is annoying to deal with, but it is easy enough to 2-shot it. Lysandre p can also cripple our opponent by removing Energy or Supporters from their discard pile. The matchup can be difficult if they hit a Towering Splash-GX, but it is still winnable.

PikaRom: Even

This matchup seems similar to the Archie matchup, except an N played with Alolan Muk in play can function exactly the same as Garbotoxin + N. The big difference is that PikaRom cannot cripple us with a single GX attack. At times, it might be best to target down regular EX or Pokémon-GX rather than the high-HP PikaRom. However, if the PikaRom is the only threat, it is definitely correct to target it as soon as possible. Establishing the pseudo-Ability Lock that Alolan Muk provides is vital and should be one of your main early-game goals. There is the potential that they run you over early game, which is why I would try to find space for the Sudowoodo and Counter Energy or the Mr. Mime if possible.

ZoroGarb: Unfavored–Even

I’m much less worried about this matchup than I have been in the past because of how little play I expect it to see. Garbotoxin causes us no end of problems that we cannot handle well. In theory, our out to winning is spamming Zoroark BKT when our opponent fills up their Bench. We can also use their Garbotoxin against them by playing N + Parallel City while they have the Ability Lock in play.

ZoroToad: Favored

Unlike ZoroGarb, we do not have to worry about Ability Lock. Instead we have to worry about Item lock and Special Conditions such as Poison. The double Zoroark BKT helps with the Special Conditions and the Pokémon Ranger handles Item lock. Blacksmith + R Energies gives us an out to beating the Faba loop, which makes this matchup pretty darn favored.

Shock Lock: Favored

They don’t have an answer to 2 Zoroark BKT. Once this is established, we win the game no matter what. I would not dig very hard for them though, because Shock Lock provides no active threat to us whatsoever. Once you get the double Zoroark, the only thing that we need to worry about is not decking out, which should be doable once we start Knocking Out their Stoutland. Even if they play an Enhanced Hammer, we can easily attach both R Energy to one Zoroark.

Rayquaza-GX: Favored

This matchup seems fine to me because we have access to multiple 1-Prize attackers. Focus on the Zoroark BKT and Vespiquen, and you should be fine. Utilizing Lysandre p well can also swing the matchup into our favor.

Celebi & Venusaur: Favored

The fact that all of our Stage 1 attackers can become Fire types, and therefore hit for Weakness of Celebi & Venusaur, should be enough to completely destroy this matchup.


I started out this little Expanded spree by playing this deck, but was ultimately thwarted by the resurgence of Trevenant BREAK. I think that it could have a place in the meta for Hartford though.

Pokémon (16)

4 Jirachi TEU

4 Buzzwole FLI

1 Nihilego LOT

2 Trubbish NVI

1 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor GRI

1 Diancie p

1 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainer (35)

3 Cynthia

3 Lillie

2 Guzma

2 N

1 Erika’s Hospitality

1 Teammates


3 Nest Ball

3 Ultra Ball

3 VS Seeker

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Escape Rope

1 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Switch


3 Choice Band

2 Escape Board


1 Computer Search


3 Shrine of Punishment

Energy (9)

4 Strong

3 Rainbow

1 Beast p

1 P


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 16

* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 4 Buzzwole FLI 77
* 1 Nihilego LOT 106
* 2 Trubbish NVI 48
* 1 Trubbish BKP 56
* 2 Garbodor GRI 51
* 1 Diancie p FLI 74
* 1 Mr. Mime PLF 47

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 2 N FCO 105
* 2 Escape Board UPR 167
* 3 Choice Band GRI 121
* 3 Shrine of Punishment CES 143
* 1 Switch SUM 160
* 2 Guzma BUS 115
* 3 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 1 Teammates PRC 141
* 3 Cynthia UPR 148
* 3 Lillie UPR 151
* 3 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 1 Enhanced Hammer GRI 162
* 1 Erika’s Hospitality TEU 174
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 163

##Energy - 9

* 1 Beast Energy p FLI 117
* 4 Strong Energy FCO 115
* 1 P Energy SUM 162
* 3 Rainbow Energy CES 151

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

This list is almost exactly what I played in Toronto to finish one win short of Day 2, and I still think that it can stand up to the current meta.

Card Choices

4 Jirachi TEU

I favor Jirachi as my consistency rather than Octillery BKT or Magcargo CES. I don’t necessarily think one is objectively better than the other, but Jirachi works much better with the Lillie engine that I’ve opted to play. One of the major drawbacks of Jirachi is that it cannot find an Energy, but that can be remedied by playing Energy Loto.

1 Nihilego LOT

I was building my initial BuzzGarb deck in Toronto when I quite literally stumbled upon a Nihilego while stealing cards from my Zapdos/Ultra Beasts list. On a whim, I decided that I would play Nihilego instead of a 3rd Garbodor. That decision paid off and I will still stand by Nihilego as a staple in BuzzGarb. It gives us the potential to take a massive KO even if our opponent does not have many Items in their discard pile.

1 Escape Rope

Because we’re playing Jirachi, we need to have a decent number of switch cards. I didn’t play Escape Rope in Toronto in favor of a 2nd Switch. I immensely regret that decision because there were quite a few times where forcing my opponent to switch would have won me the game.

1 Erika’s Hospitality

Another card that I initially overlooked in Expanded. Erika’s Hospitality has the potential to draw up to 9 cards because of Sky Field. In a deck like BuzzGarb, drawing cards is usually better than shuffle–draw, so I decided to add a copy for the sake of the situations where it provides insane draw.

1 P Energy

Xurkitree-GX is unfortunately a real card, so I need to play a counter to it. 1 P Energy is usually enough.

Potential Inclusions

Garbodor NVI + Float Stones

Garbotoxin is one of the most important Abilities in the game and it does seem a little dumb to play a Garbodor deck without it. However, it doesn’t fit in with the Jirachi engine as well as it does with other engines because of the lack of Float Stones.

The Matchup Spread

Archie’s Blastoise: Even

Trashalanche is key here. Archie players almost always have to play a very high amount of Items to set up and then actually attack. Make sure you get as many Trubbish in play as possible as well as Mr. Mime. If for some reason they go for an Eevee & Snorlax-GX, then a Buzzwole should easily handle it. Nihilego gets a bit of usage here as well because it can be dropped out of nowhere to do major damage.

PikaRom: Favored

PikaRom is weak to Fighting. We spam Fighting. They play lots of Items. We play Trashalanche. The matchup is incredibly favored as long as you don’t play into a crippling Tag Bolt-GX. This means that we need to find Mr. Mime early enough to where it would be impossible for our opponent to skip our Sledgehammer turn. Be careful of benching too few Trubbish, as Garbodor will become our primary attacker late-game, especially if they’ve found some Flash Energy.

ZoroGarb: Even-Favored

I’ve been on both sides of this matchup, and I can honestly say that it is one of the dumbest things in Expanded right now. BuzzGarb can easily go up by 4 or more Prize cards, only to get hit by an N and then have their Pokémon systematically KO’d. My advise here is to not let yourself put all your eggs in one proverbial basket. This means not attaching all of your Energy to one Buzzwole. Have multiple attackers ready before you go down to an extremely low Prize count. As long as you don’t get crippled by that late-game N, this matchup is a cakewalk.

ZoroToad: Unfavored?

In all honesty, I haven’t played this matchup because of how hard it is to get people to play with/against the Control decks in testing. I feel that it’s a safe assumption that this matchup is unfavored because of how badly Item lock can affect us and the fact that the Faba loop is a thing. Conserve your Energies and Guzma.

Shock Lock: Bad

This is why Shock Lock keeps doing so well. People don’t care enough to beat a deck that requires a $1,200+ investment for just 4 of the cards (i.e., Tropical Beach). Unfortunately, if you decide to play BuzzGarb, you are taking a loss to any Shock Locks. Oh well.

Rayquaza-GX: Favored

We’re reliving the Worlds 2018 format with this matchup. Because of Shrine of Punishment, Garbodor, and the fact that we trade so well when it comes to Prize cards, the matchup is very favored for us. The game plan here is to lead with Buzzwole, and then transition into Garbodor late-game.

Celebi & Venusaur: Unfavored–Even

The problem with this matchup is that our opponent has so many ways of healing. We’re more of a chip damage deck, and cannot 1HKO a TAG TEAM. The best way of handling this matchup is to wait until your opponent is at 4 or 2 Prize cards, then Enhanced Hammer, N, and spam Sledgehammer or Nightcap. Nightcap is especially effective because they will have less cards to draw out of the lock with, and you can inflict Confusion on them to prevent any annoying Evergreen-GX healing.

Final Thoughts

I believe that both of these decks have the potential to do well this weekend, and I’m kind of sad that I am not going to the event to play one of them. If I were going, I would 100% be playing one of these decks.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you today. Good luck and have fun in Hartford or playing in whatever local-level event you might be attending. Obviously, I will not be seeing any of you this weekend, but look out for my next articles in the coming weeks!

As always, feel free to message me with any questions that you might have about anything related to Pokémon. I also now offer coaching! Either email me ( or PM me if interested.

Until the next one.

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