Hello again readers, I’m back with you after a few weeks and my worst finish at an event in well over a year. I can’t even express how much I feel that this current Standard format needs to just go away. I honestly can’t say I have ever played a deck (Ability Zard) that is so draw-reliant. I can usually acknowledge when I make misplays that cost me the game, but I don’t think I even reached the point where a misplay could happen in a lot of my games in San Diego . With that, I can happily say farewell to the Standard format on a major event platform for a few months.
That brings me to Expanded. I have literally never had more fun with a format than I am with Expanded right now. I think that the most recent bans are just what the format needed to become fun and not be a horrible format with oppressive cards everywhere. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks grinding games with multiple decks and I have noticed a trend in a lot of decks recently: They’re cutting Sudowoodo GRI. Between this fact and the fact that hand-lock decks are virtually nonexistent, I decided to try out two of my old pet-decks and I was surprised with the results. Of course, one of these decks is Primal Groudon, which I’ll cover sometime later this month in a free article. The other deck is something that I took to success in 2015: Mega Rayquaza-EX.
This card was good when it came out. Now that it has more support like Triple Acceleration Energy and Magearna UPR, it has a way to hit 270 on turn 1. I have been grinding games with this for a while and it has actually been standing up to the format rather well. Even the single-Prize decks like Ultra Necrozma are very beatable.
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 17
* 3 Rayquaza-EX ROS 60
* 3 M Rayquaza-EX ROS 105
* 1 Alolan Grimer SUM 57
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 3 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 2 Hoopa-EX AOR 36
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 1 Magearna UPR 91
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81
##Trainer Cards - 39
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 2 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Acerola BUS 112
* 3 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 1 Lysandre AOR 78
* 3 Rayquaza Spirit Link ROS 87
* 1 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 2 Special Charge STS 105
* 2 Professor Juniper DEX 98
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 4 Sky Field ROS 89
* 1 Guzma & Hala CEC 193
* 2 Float Stone PLF 99
* 1 Adventure Bag LOT 167
##Energy - 4
* 4 Triple Acceleration Energy UNB 190
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=78706 ******
There are way too many cards in this format with Abilities that would singlehandedly prevent us from winning the game. Sudowoodo GRI is the biggest one, but things like Xurkitree-GX and Keldeo-GX can also cause us issues. Alolan Muk covers all of these bases, but also harms your own side of the field. However, not losing to three hard counters is definitely worth two slots in the deck.
This card may seem weird, but after countless games of testing, it has proven itself to be useful enough to warrant the spot in the deck. The idea here is that you can evolve into M Rayquaza-EX with the Spirit Link and still attach a Choice Band to hit the magical 270 damage.
Tapu Lele-GX over Jirachi-EX
Jirachi-EX makes more sense with Hoopa-EX in the deck, but I’m trying to play around Mewtwo & Mew decks that play Necrozma-GX. If your opponent uses Black Ray-GX with Jirachi-EX in play, they are likely winning the game that turn by taking 6 Prize cards at once.
Sometimes your opponent puts down a Power Plant and that would normally shut you out of the game. Having a card that you are able to search to discard Power Plant is incredibly helpful. On top of that, if you play the Basic Energy package I mention later, Marshadow can easily take down a Buzzwole FLI or two.
Ultra Necrozma/Ability Lock decks are going to see a lot of play. Luckily, they damage cap at 200, which isn’t enough to KO a M Rayquaza-EX. Acerola allows you to pick up a M Rayquaza-EX and put it right back down as if it were a Basic Pokémon.
I wanted to play 2 gust effects in the deck, but found that there were times where Guzma was inferior to Lysandre because sometimes you are forced to attach the Energy before a Shaymin-EX or Dedenne-GX, and you have no idea whether you’ll find Guzma so you can’t make a “correct” choice on where to attach the Energy. Lysandre gives you an out to not needing to attach suboptimally or rely on finding a Float Stone.
Usually 270 damage is enough to 1HKO something. Of course, ADP just had to have 280 HP, so I decided on playing Laser to make that number doable.
This card is absolutely broken in Expanded. I can search for Sky Field, Triple Acceleration Energy, and whatever Tool I need? How is this a thing? There’s so many applications for this card in other decks too. I want to play 2, but space got a little weird, and it’s not great turn 1 to get the deck rolling.
Sometimes you want to be able to search multiple Tools at once, or want a specific Tool at a certain time, and Adventure Bag is perfect for that.
I want to play this card solely to make ZoroGarb a better matchup. They either keep their Roadblock in play and we poke at each other, or they turn off both Roadblocks, and we play as normal albeit without Abilities.
With Chaos Wheel and Altered Creation-GX seeing play, there is definitely an argument for Ranger in the list. I don’t have it right now because I actually have encountered very few instances where it would be useful, but if that ever changes, it belongs in the list.
Basic Energy & Alternate Attacker
I’ve thought about it, and I could see an argument for playing at least some basic Energy and an attacker that is paired with it for matchups that can lock Special Energy. Honchkrow-GX is currently a hard loss, but you could include Xurkitree UNM, Tapu Koko p, and Lightning Energies to seriously mess with your opponent.
The Matchup Spread
There’s still a lot of decks in Expanded, so I’m sure that I’ll miss some of them. Feel free to message me somewhere if you have further questions about a matchup.
Weavile-GX: 60/40Turbo Dark/
You’re both decks that play attackers that give up 2 Prizes. This matchup is pretty much whoever takes the first 2 Prize cards and then doesn’t miss a beat. Alolan Muk is actually kind of good here because it shuts off Mew FCO, so your opponent will be forced to attack with a Pokémon-GX. This is a matchup where I would heavily consider going second. It is fairly easy to attack turn 1 for both decks, which means that the first attack likely determines who wins the game. In this matchup, it is going to be important to race your opponent to 6 Prizes. If they attack with a Mew, ignore it if at all possible and target down a GX or Pokémon-EX. Save your Laser if possible, if you do go first, then try to evolve a Rayquaza without a Spirit Link and get Marshadow Active so you are not giving up an EX KO and you have access to Choice Band later.
Turbo Dark/Dragons: 40/60 w/o Ranger, 60/40 w/ Ranger
Giratina-EX is an issue if they manage to Chaos Wheel. Like a really big issue. If they’re just playing ADP, the matchup is fine and you can play it like any other Turbo Dark matchup, but Giratina-EX is bad. This is the matchup that would convince me to play Pokémon Ranger. There’s not much else to say here. Alolan Muk allows you to actually damage Giratina-EX and can slow your opponent down a lot, so that needs to be a priority. Otherwise, play it like you’re against normal Turbo Dark if you can play around Chaos Wheel.
This is assuming they do not play Sudowoodo. If they do, it’s harder, but still winnable. Unlike Turbo Dark, they cannot go off on you turn 1, and that means there is less of a rush to attack. However, they also have Trashalanche, so you need to either play around it or Guzma around it for multiple turns. Fortunately, we have 220 HP which is 10 higher than Zoroark’s damage cap unless they play Laser.
If they don’t have Sudowoodo in play, then just go aggro and win the game before they can.
Ultra Necrozma/Octillery: 60/40
This version is more popular in Japan, but that doesn’t mean it will translate over to our format. This matchup is relatively easy because they cannot 1HKO a M Rayquaza-EX and you can Acerola spam. Your opponent will likely be unable to stream an Ultra Necrozma, Double Dragon Energy, and Silent Lab every turn without playing a Supporter of some kind, so it is unlikely that they will be able to Guzma up something that they can KO more than once a game. Even if you are unable to Acerola consistently, you should be able to Guzma or Float Stone your way out of the Active Spot if you need to.
Ultra Necrozma/Garbodor: 50/50
This matchup is a bit harder than the Octillery version because they have a more sound Ability Lock and that means it is harder to make them whiff an attack and harder for you to chain Triple Acceleration Energy and still Acerola once or twice. Otherwise, you just go back and forth taking KOs, and hopefully you come out on top. With Guzma & Hala being important for both players, a late-game N can completely flip the game upside down.
This may seem like a difficult matchup, but your opponent applies almost no pressure, and you can 1HKO an EggLet if you find a Choice Band on turn 1. You need to play carefully with your Triples, but if done correctly, you should be more than capable of taking 6 Prize cards with 4 Energy. I would make it a priority to save your gust effects to target down either a 2nd EggLet or both Vileplume AOR. Once you remove Item lock from the game for a single turn, you can easily win the game because you can put all of your Energy back in the deck with Special Charge and VS Seeker your Guzma and Lysandre.
Night March: 35/65
You’re basically counting on your opponent benching 3 EX or Pokémon-GX or missing multiple attacks for you to win. This is easily your worst non-Lock matchup. There’s really not much else to say about it.
Archie’s Blastoise: 60/40
People always assume Archie’s is dead and gone once it has a weak showing. Deluge will never be bad, and if you are not respecting this deck, then you’re going to have issues in Expanded.
- If they are playing the Mewtwo version, you’re going to need to focus on getting Choice Band into play, because it is the only way to 1HKO Mewtwo & Mew-GX.
- If they are playing some other version, which I actually have zero idea what this would be, I would focus on taking Prize cards wherever is fastest.
Archie’s will always be a threat in my mind and planning for it and testing against it is the best way to be prepared for it. There will be games where it goes off without a hitch and destroys you no matter what the matchup is. Then there will be the games where it does nothing and you sweep it.
This matchup is similar to Turbo Dark in that you need to hit hard. However, GardEon plays Fighting Fury Belt in almost every list, so your Field Blower is a lot more valuable. They also have the ability to put your hand to zero with Ability lock in play, so that can create a lot of issues for you.
I would actually elect to go second in this matchup as well because they achieve nothing beyond a potential Ability lock on their first turn. The reason I say to go second here is that you are able to put damage into play before they are well and truly set up. If you go first, they have 3 Energy in play before you can apply pressure, which is actually harder to deal with than when they go first and you deal even a bit of damage. They will be forced to heal before they even attack.
I probably missed a few matchups and ideas I had for inclusions, but I think it is a very strong deck. If the way decks are built remains stable until Dallas , I think that Mega Rayquaza-EX might finally be able to see success again. The removal of a lot of control cards from the format makes the deck so much better and I can’t wait to see what else is viable in the format now.
I have put a lot of time into Expanded already, and when my semester concludes, I will have a lot of spare time to test the format and get a feel for the decks that will be good. I’m sure that there is probably some disgusting Control deck that will emerge in Dallas and my excitement will be destroyed, but as it is, I’m actually enjoying Expanded again.
I’ll be back later in the month with a FREE article on Primal Groudon, so watch out for that. I’m taking a long-awaited weekend off from even League Cups this weekend, so if you see me at an event, things went horribly wrong and I couldn’t curb my Malamar addiction. As always, good luck in whatever events you’re playing, and I’ll see you next time.
Until the next one.
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