Hello again readers, I’m back with my last article of October. Today, I’m going to be covering a deck that I believe has the capability to blow the Richmond meta wide open. I currently have no idea what deck I’ll settle on playing for the event, but it will likely either be this deck or Zoroark/Garbodor unless something else pops up.
Last week, I mentioned Groudon and provided a list. I listed Mewtwo & Mew-GX decks as favorable matchups, but I completely forgot about the fact that Mewtwo & Mew-GX has 270 HP. There are two ways that Groudon can go about this. Sack the matchup, or play multiple Martial Arts Dojo to hit for 270 damage easily.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a hallway about to take a midterm, and about 15 minutes before it started, this idea just came into my head. Naturally, instead of continuing to study, I started to think about this list, and after a lot of testing, this is where I landed with it.
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 23
##Trainer Cards - 33
* 3 Silent Lab PRC 140
* 1 Faba LOT 208
* 1 N FCO 105
* 4 Lillie UPR 151
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 2 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 4 Evosoda XY 116
* 4 Level Ball
* 3 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 3 Float Stone PLF 99
##Energy - 4
* 4 Triple Acceleration Energy UNB 190
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=75652 ******
The theory behind this deck is that you use Beheeyem to Item lock, then switch into a wall such as Pyroar or Honchkrow-GX. Then Zoroark provides the incredibly powerful draw engine the deck needs to be able to find Beheeyem pieces every turn.
Honchkrow-GX is easily one of the most powerful GX cards in Expanded because of the fact that it has a Chaos Wheel-style attack as an Ability. On top of that, Unfair-GX is the most powerful disruption attack that is easily achievable in the game. When combined with Item lock, it is incredibly hard to get around Honchkrow-GX because your opponent likely only plays a singlegust Supporter. What makes Honchkrow so oppressive when combined with Item lock is that it is physically impossible for your opponent to remove Silent Lab without using a Supporter like Faba or Guzma. Silent Lab prevents Klefki from attaching to Garbodor, and Beheeyem prevents Field Blower and any other Items like VS Seeker from being played.
Pyroar is one of the most powerful wall cards ever printed that isn’t a Stage 2 (e.g., Vileplume BUS). So many decks in Expanded rely on Basic attackers to do anything, and with Pyroar Active, they can do nothing. Pyroar is mainly used against Archie’s, PikaRom, Turbo Dark, and potentially Mewtwo TAG TEAM decks. Again, because your opponent is limited to onegust, you’re unlikely to lose any of those matchups once you’re up and running.
Just to be clear here, there is literally no Zorua that is better than another, as long as the one you play has 60 HP. I’ve opted to play only 3 Zoroark-GX because it is incredibly unlikely that you set up more than 2, and I would much rather have a search card than a 4th copy of Zoroark-GX.
Yes, I know that this isn’t Standard. However, Brigette was too slow because you need to build up your hand early into the game. The Lillie/Level Ball/Nest Ball engine is superior to Brigette in this deck. Unfortunately, there is not a better Supporter than Lillie to play because it is the only Supporter that doesn’t discard cards like Sycamore and doesn’t shuffle your hand away. Once you get to the late game, your hand is likely going to be too big to play them, so they become Trade fodder while Silent Lab is in play.
Say your opponent does get a Tool on a Trubbish during their first turn. Faba is better than Field Blower here because you can recycle it in case there is ever a turn in the late game where you miss Beheeyem and they put down another Tool. There is also the added bonus of Lost Zoning any Double Colorless Energy that Zoroark players get down before Honchkrow gets into play or if they Guzma around it.
Zoroark Control is currently a very weird matchup. With their ability to Faba all of your Float Stones while Item locked, they can easily lock you in the Active Spot for a turn and get Items back. Dodrio helps this issue somewhat because it has an Ability that lowers Retreat by CC and cannot be turned off by Power Plant or Silent Lab. I’m currently unsure of whether or not I actually want to play this card in the deck.
One of the biggest issues the deck has is Bench space. In a perfect world, your field is 1 wall, 2 Zoroark-GX, and 3 Beheeyem/Elgyem. Obviously, this perfect world is somewhat unrealistic if you have to bench a 2nd wall or a Jirachi-EX. Theoretically, you can function with 2 Beheeyem/Elgyem, but then you’re vulnerable to Guzma. So, in an effort to make the deck more stable, I would lobby for playing a Sky Field or 2, but I have yet to decide on cuts.
You’ll notice that the deck that plays 4 unique Stage 1s but isn’t playing Ditto p. Initially this might seem odd, but after thinking about it a bit, I realized that Ditto is pretty bad in Expanded now, and especially in this deck.
- In this deck, it is incredibly unlikely that you’re not going to have Silent Lab in play for most of the game, so that’s one strike against Ditto.
- Next, with the existence or Mewtwo/M Gardevoir-EX STS, and with their lists playing potentially 4 copies of Giratina LOT, 40 HP is quite the hinderance. Strike two.
- Against Garbodor decks, if they do manage to get Ability lock, Ditto is a completely dead card and can hinder your ability to play the game more than it ever helps. Strike three.
Of course, I could be completely wrong about the card, and it might be optimal to play it in the future, but for now it hasn’t made the list.
These cards will both serve the same function as Sky Field in that they allow you to free up Bench space. Parallel City is likely better than Giovanni’s Exile, but Giovanni has the added bonus of being recoverable with VS Seeker.
Without testing the matchup more, I would say that it’s possible the inclusion of a 4th Float Stone would allow you to beat Zoroark Control just as often as Dodrio would. One of the major issues with Dodrio is that Retreat Aid doesn’t apply to Dodrio itself, so it can easily be locked Active once Lt. Surge’s Strategy is turned on. Between 4 Float Stone and theoretically 5 Guzma, you should be able to take all of your Prize cards before you get infinitely locked in the Active Spot.
At times, 90 damage may seem a bit low. I’ve thought about including a Tool that modifies damage, but I’m not sure if it would ever make a difference in many matchups. If I did decide to play Sky Field, Choice Band has a lot more merit because it allows your Zoroark-GX to 1HKO another Zoroark-GX for your last couple of Prize cards if your opponent has been able to keep pace with you.
The Matchup Spread
Mewtwo & Mew-GX Variants: Heavily Favored
Basically, once you set up, you win. You need to be careful to not bench both Murkrow at once because of Alolan Marowak-GX’s Lost Boomerang-GX. If both of your Murkrow are removed from the game, then the matchup becomes a lot harder for you to win. In theory, Pyroar can be decent, but that’s only true if they don’t have access to a Shred attack, which is unlikely. Once you set up Honchkrow-GX, all you need to do to win within a few turns is find a Silent Lab, start attacking with Beheeyem and after a few attacks, it’s likely that you’ll have won. The Vileplume variant can get a bit tricky because if you don’t find Float Stones in the early game, your entire game gets very difficult. This is another matchup where Dodrio would likely pull its weight.
Turbo Dark: Favored
This is one of the matchups where Pyroar is absolutely disgusting. The only way your opponent will even be able to win the game is through Dead End-GX and a lot of Guzmas, which should be impossible with Item lock in play. In this matchup, it’s very important to keep the Item lock going, and that could mean playing a very long game.
One thing that you may need to watch out for is the fact that many Turbo Dark lists are playing multiple copies of Guzma. This means that your opponent will likely have two turns to attempt to disrupt the Item lock chain, or they will be able to casually take 4 Prize cards while you’re locking them. With some basic math skills, it’s easy to deduce that you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in this matchup. With 2 Guzma and a GX attack, your opponent has access to 5 easy Prize cards. It is at this point that you need to realize just how important it is to get Silent Lab in play and hope your opponent cannot bounce it. If you go first and they have a terrible turn without Abilities, your game gets so much easier to win.
Zoroark/Garbodor: Even–Slightly Favored
This matchup may seem great on paper, but in reality the games are usually very close. This is because you have no real way to completely wall them out of the game. Yes, Honchkrow does prevent Double Colorless Energy from hitting the field once you’re in the Active, but that means that any DCE they find on turn 1 is still a threat to you. On top of that, they will be able to use Guzma to get around you for at least one turn. Once they find their Guzma, the game gets infinitely harder because they can bounce Silent Lab and get a Klefki into play.
Yes, that doesn’t actually mean much because they are still Item locked, but without Abilities, and after a Guzma on what is presumably an Elgyem or Beheeyem, there is a very real chance that you miss the Item lock in the following turn. That’s where the game gets very gross. Hopefully, you have access to Faba at this point, and you’ll have to make a decision based on your hand. If you can attack again without using Abilities, then remove that DCE from play. If not, that Klefki better be hitting the Lost Zone, or you better be using Colress or another draw Supporter. If your opponent does get a Sky Field in play early, it is vital that you use it to discard any worthless Pokémon on your side of the board, like Jirachi-EX or Litleo.
Unlike ZoroControl, Sableye cannot infinitely recover Faba or Guzma. This means that as long as we have a Float Stone down, we should be able to maintain the lock for as long as we need to win. Item lock is a whole lot more crippling for Sableye than it is for ZoroControl. There’s also an argument for going into Elgyem or Beheeyem when using Mysterious Noise, and forgoing the Honchkrow-GX wall altogether. I’ve seen multiple Sableye lists cut Garbodor GRI, so there is literally zero threat to your Elgyem. Because we shuffle our Energy back, there is no risk of us having all of our Triple Acceleration Energies sent to the Lost Zone or even discarded.
Zoroark Control: Slightly Unfavored–Even
This matchup pretty much comes down to what our opponent’s Prize cards look like. If our opponent prizes any combination of 2 or more of the following, the game is almost always free:
If 2 of these aren’t prized, it becomes very difficult to win the game with the current list. Dodrio in combination with multiple Float Stones might be enough to swing it into our favor completely. If your opponent either has a full Bench with no extra Oranguru, or gives any indication that the 2nd one is in their Prize cards, it becomes of paramount importance to KO the one they have in play and continue to Item lock them without missing a beat.
Of course, if they manage to pull off the turn 1 Cross Division-GX, then the matchup gets a heck of a lot harder. But, with Silent Lab and Item lock, there’s a very real chance that if you survive the first turns, the game completely falls into your favor. Archie’s cannot deal with an extended Item lock very well because of how much of their deck is Items. On top of that, because lists have been converting to Mewtwo TAG TEAM builds, we can easily take all 6 Prize cards in 4 or 5 turns.
Right now, I cannot see a world where I’m not going to play Zoroark in my deck. Whether that is as a support role, like with Beheeyem, or as the main attacker, like in ZoroGarb, is still up to debate. Expanded is a very interesting format right now because of how many decks are capable of completely shutting opponents out of the game.
I’m very curious to see what happens this weekend in Richmond, and then the next weekend in Portland. Unfortunately, LAIC follows Portland with no break, and that means the time I’ll be able to put toward the next Standard format (UPR–CEC) will be minimal. Hopefully I’ll be able to devote the week between Richmond and Portland to Standard, but if Portland is as small as I believe it will be, then Expanded might have to take priority again.
I’ll be back next week with what is hopefully a favorable report on Richmond, my thoughts for Portland, and maybe a look into the LAIC Standard. As always, good luck in whatever events you’re playing, and maybe you’ll see me around?
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or PM me if interested.
Until the next one.
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