Toxic Gas

Exploring Expanded Garbodor Variants: Zoroark-GX, Ultra Necrozma, and Rogue Giratina-EX/Welder
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“Expanded’s all right now; in fact, it’s a gas!”

Hey everyone! Today I want to talk about a few of decks I’ve been messing around with in Expanded. It’s been relieving to explore a new format while UPR–CEC drags on (though there are still international tournaments in that format). For those who don’t know, I’ll be in Bochum enjoying UPR–CEC one last time before Dallas, and eventually the release of Sword & Shield.

Expanded has seen lots of changes recently because of the bans. I personally had to revisit the ban list multiple times in recent days simply because there are so many of them. I’m glad that they happened, though, and am excited for an Expanded format without these cards. A majority of the unfair combos have been removed, and Expanded is healthier without them. Decks don’t need to worry about getting locked out of the game as easily as it previously has been.

I’ll be taking a look at two frontrunners of the format and one deck that I want to tinker more with. All of these have their strengths and weaknesses, and I think all have the potential to succeed with the right amount of work put into them. I’ve just begun my Expanded testing so these lists aren’t perfect, but they’ve been strong and I urge you to try them.

Zoroark-GX/Garbodor

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Zoroark-GX/Garbodor has been a staple of the Expanded format for as long as I can remember. Lists have remained incredibly similar over time due to the unchanging core of the deck: Brigette and Colress. These two Supporters define the engine and contribute to the deck’s low variability between games. Garbotoxin always counters an entire format, Riotous Beating is a good attack, and Trade glues the components together.

The List

Pokémon (24)

4 Zorua DEX 70

4 Zoroark-GX

1 Trubbish NVI

1 Trubbish GRI

2 Garbodor BKP

1 Garbodor GRI

1 Ditto p

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Tapu Lele-GX

2 Exeggcute PLF

1 Klefki STS

1 Sudowoodo GRI

1 Marshadow UNB

1 Mew UNB

Trainer (30)

3 Colress

1 Acerola

1 Brigette

1 Guzma

1 Iris

1 N

1 Pokémon Ranger

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

1 Battle Compressor

1 Field Blower

1 Great Catcher

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Super Rod

2 Choice Band

2 Float Stone

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Sky Field

Energy (6)

4 Double Colorless

2 P

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 24

* 4 Zorua DEX 70
* 4 Zoroark-GX SLG 53
* 1 Trubbish NVI 48
* 1 Trubbish GRI 50
* 2 Garbodor BKP 57
* 1 Garbodor GRI 51
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 2 Exeggcute PLF 4
* 1 Klefki STS 80
* 1 Sudowoodo GRI 66
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81
* 1 Mew UNB 76

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 3 Colress PLS 118
* 1 Acerola BUS 112
* 1 Brigette BKT 134
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Iris PLB 81
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 104
* 4 Ultra Ball SLG 68
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 1 Battle Compressor PHF 92
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 1 Super Rod BKT 149
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 2 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 3 Sky Field ROS 89

##Energy - 6

* 4 Double Colorless Energy SLG 69
* 2 P Energy Energy 5

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=78762 ******

As you’ll see, the list is quite similar to all those before it. To start my testing, I took Ian Robb’s list from Portland and made a few changes to account for the bans and new set:

I’ll briefly discuss key points of the list and any additional cards I want to add.

Pokémon

4 Zorua DEX 70

This is the best Zorua because Paralysis is a good Special Condition. The only other possible Zorua is the Lunge one from BLW because it can 1HKO Pokémon with 30 HP remaining. This isn’t super relevant because Sky Return does 30 damage and can promote a different Pokémon. Nevertheless, these situations are unlikely to come up.

1-1 Trubbish split

The Garbage Collection Trubbish is an immediate 1-of because of its use in any Stall matchups. The other Trubbish spot is harder to fill, though. Acid Spray, Stomp Off, and Tool Drop are all good attacks for different reasons. I personally think Stomp Off is best, but there are arguments for all three.

2-1 Garbodor split

Garbodor BKP is more relevant for obvious reasons. If it’s prized, that spells bad news for you. 1 Garbodor GRI is enough because of Rescue Stretcher and Super Rod.

1 Marshadow UNB

Marshadow is great for removing any pesky T1 Stadiums like Silent Lab or Power Plant that destroy your hope of setting up. It also has niche value in KOing Buzzwole FLI—an enemy of Zoroark-GX. Another niche use is in removing Sky Field from play in order to rid your Bench of targets like Shaymin-EX or Exeggcute.

1 Mew UNB

Though ArchieStoise has been on the decline, I’m still scared of its presence. The Espeon & Deoxys-GX version is unaffected by Mew, but the traditional version with Magikarp & Wailord-GX still remains blocked. Mew will likely end being cut for something else down the line if there is low presence of Bench-hitting decks.

Trainer

1 Iris

Iris is the coolest card in the deck. For each Prize card your opponent has taken, your Pokémon do +10 damage this turn. This is a super Professor Kukui! Importantly, this allows you to hit numbers like 210 without a Choice Band, 220 to KO Pokémon with a Fighting Fury Belt, and 120/130 under Roadblock. Iris loses the ability to 1HKO TAG TEAM Pokémon without Lt. Surge’s Strategy, but I believe it still warrants a spot given its other uses.

One idea that could make Iris strong against TAG TEAM Pokémon is to include Seismitoad-EX or a Robo Substitute/Lillie’s Poké Doll. What you can do is Sky Return (into the Robo Sub/Doll) or Quaking Punch for 30 damage, then clean up the TAG TEAM GX for up to 260 damage. This will barely fall short of KOing Bird Trio-GX, but KO anything else that’s relevant in the format.

1 Battle Compressor

This is a card that’s likely overlooked in the list, and doesn’t seem to make much sense to an outside onlooker. However, Battle Compressor plays a vital role of increasing consistency and opening options:

  1. First, it can discard Exeggcute and important Supporters once drawn.
  2. And second, it can discard Pokémon to be brought back with Rescue Stretcher in that same turn. If you don’t have Ultra Ball, then Battle Compressor + Rescue Stretcher is a combo you’ll end up using at least once during a long tournament.

Other Additions

Seismitoad-EX

I already briefly covered this in the Iris section, but Seismitoad-EX does so much more than that one niche play. Against all decks, Quaking Punch can buy vital time and chip damage for KOs later. Also, when combined with Acerola and Choice Band, it can do meaningful damage while preventing the opponent from gusting up a vulnerable target. This is especially strong when trying to lock Garbotoxin in play. Current Mewtwo & Mew-GX lists have no counter to Quaking Punch + Garbotoxin; they need to add Pokémon Ranger.

Oranguru UPR

Oranguru is the prime addition if you’re expecting Stall concepts—that part is self-explanatory. Oranguru’s other incredibly strong use is in mirror, and even more so if you play Parallel City. When your opponent has 2–3 Prizes remaining, it’s easy to stick Garbotoxin + N and a pivot into Oranguru. You can Resource Management back vital resources like VS Seeker, Great Catcher, and Double Colorless Energy. This strategy was more effective when Red Card and Delinquent were in the deck, but it’s still relevant today. I imagine Zoroark-GX Control decks will be in circulation, so it would be a good idea to have a counter going into Dallas 🇺🇸.

Meowstic BUS

If you can pull it off, this card 1HKOs a Mewtwo & Mew-GX with a Choice Band and 11 cards in hand. The opponent may have Jirachi-GX in play, but Garbotoxin can shut that off easily.

Cobalion-GX

I haven’t done any testing with this idea, but I imagine Ian used Iron Rule-GX to block any attacks that threatened his Benched Pokémon, like Cross Divide-GX or Towering Splash-GX. Perhaps this was his inclusion instead of Mew BUS, as it can defend against placing damage counters and dealing damage.

Oricorio GRI 56

Night March and Vespiquen are decks that exist, and Supernatural Dance is the perfect counter to them in this deck. Karen is another option if you include Seismitoad-EX, but I think Oricorio would be a better answer because I expect all lists to play Pokémon Ranger to counter Chaos Wheel or Altered Creation-GX.

Counter Energy + Attackers

The Counter Energy package is one I meddled with back in Dallas 2018 and nailed a T32 finish with. You can find the list here. A few other people played the deck with me, but we ultimately finished in scattered placings throughout Day 2 because of an imperfect list. Dean Nezam played a Zoroark-GX/Counter Energy deck to 11th place in Richmond 2019, but his list is unavailable.

Special Charge

When a deck only runs 4 copies of its most important Energy card, it may be worth running a way to recycle them. Ian didn’t play Special Charge in his Portland list, but Luster of Downfall may mean more discarded Energy than you’d like. Special Charge would also improve the matchup vs. Stall decks, providing up to an additional 2–4 DCE with Dowsing Machine.

New Matchups

Ultra Necrozma variants

At their core, all of these decks focus on attacking with Luster of Downfall ASAP. Your way to beat them is by out-healing them with Acerola, or by shutting them down with N + Garbotoxin. Pokémon Ranger is key in this matchup if they play ADP-GX, as it prevents them from 1HKOing a Zoroark-GX. Make sure to get full use of your Energy, as Luster of Downfall annoyingly discards one with every attack.

Special Charge would be a good inclusion for this matchup, as it would allow you to Acerola loop more effectively since you’re less likely to run out of Energy.

Dark Dragons

This matchup is very similar to that of the old Turbo Dark matchup, except the opponent will be playing Dragon Pokémon and Double Dragon Energy. The Pokémon of choice are ADP-GX and Giratina-EX AOR, though they may also play niche single-Prize attackers like Ultra Necrozma. In essence, you’ll counter their Altered Creation-GX with Pokémon Ranger and go about your merry way.

Buzzwole FLI would be a good counter for this matchup, as you can 1HKO anything Weak to Fighting with Sledgehammer. This would require Rainbow Energy or Counter Energy, and a slightly reworked list. My best idea is a Zoroark-GX Control list with 1 Buzzwole FLI and 1 Articuno-GX and Rainbow Energy. That would be entirely different than this list, and likely wouldn’t include Garbodor.

The Beast Itself: UN/Garbodor

This has been the most hyped deck since its debut in Cosmic Eclipse. I’ve seen many content creators take different approaches to Ultra Necrozma variants, so here’s mine!

The List

Pokémon (15)

4 Ultra Necrozma CEC

2 Trubbish NVI

2 Trubbish GRI

2 Garbodor BKP

2 Garbodor GRI

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX

Trainer (39)

3 Professor Sycamore

2 N

1 Acerola

1 Colress

1 Guzma

1 Guzma & Hala

1 Iris

1 Lysandre

1 Pokémon Ranger

1 Teammates

 

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 VS Seeker

3 Nest Ball

2 Energy Loto

1 Field Blower

1 Great Catcher

1 Special Charge

1 Super Rod

3 Float Stone

2 Choice Band

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Silent Lab

1 Parallel City

Energy (6)

4 Double Dragon

2 P

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 15

* 4 Ultra Necrozma CEC 164
* 2 Trubbish NVI 48
* 2 Trubbish GRI 50
* 2 Garbodor BKP 57
* 2 Garbodor GRI 51
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX CEC 156

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 3 Professor Sycamore BKP 107
* 2 N FCO 105
* 1 Teammates PRC 141
* 1 Acerola BUS 112
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 1 Guzma & Hala CEC 193
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Iris PLB 81
* 1 Lysandre AOR 78
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 104
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 2 Energy Loto GRI 122
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 1 Special Charge STS 105
* 1 Super Rod BKT 149
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 3 Float Stone BKT 137
* 2 Silent Lab PRC 140
* 1 Parallel City BKT 145

##Energy - 6

* 4 Double Dragon Energy ROS 97
* 2 P Energy Energy 5

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=78762 ******

The list looks extremely wacky at first, and gets even wackier the longer you look at it. My inspiration for the skeleton came from old Necrozma-GX/Garbodor lists, like this one here. I modernized the important pieces and those relevant for this list, like fewer Tools, more search cards, and a greater Supporter diversity.

The strategy of the deck is to win the Prize trade starting from turn 1. The deck makes use of Altered Creation-GX to do extra damage and win the Prize trade even harder.

Pokémon

2 Tapu Lele-GX

I’ve seen some lists floating around with zero Pokémon other than Ultra Necrozma and Garbodor, and that’s just plain wrong. That list might be better in mirror, but that list will lose to Altered Creation-GX if unanswered and will be incredibly less consistent vs. the entire field. Tapu Lele-GX gives the deck an out to a Supporter with Mysterious Treasure. Moreover, Guzma & Hala gets the entire attack off on turn 1 with Float Stone, Silent Lab, and Double Dragon Energy! Not running Tapu Lele-GX is foolish.

1 ADP-GX

It’s necessary to run ADP-GX to punish players not playing Pokémon Ranger. In those matches, you’ll be able to run away with games so easily that it’s not funny. The list also runs Acerola and Parallel City so that you can remove ADP-GX from play on turn 2, nullifying the threat of a triple-Prize Pokémon.

Trainer

1 Iris

This deck falls short of KOing Pokémon when Altered Creation-GX is nullified, so it’s justified to toss in a copy of Iris. Further testing will prove if it’s possible to find near the end of the game consistently. At the very least, the opponent won’t expect it and you’ll be able to steal a game in the series.

Professor Kukui may be a better card because this deck struggles with consistency, but the potential for an additional 30 damage is too great to ignore. KOing a Zoroark-GX with Luster of Downfall and +40 from Iris is amazing.

1 Guzma, 1 Lysandre

I chose to run both cards in this list because both have viability, just like old Necrozma-GX/Garbodor lists of the past. It may be unnecessary now that Great Catcher exists, but I still think it’s relevant because this deck has very little draw power; it cannot find the gust effect from the deck without Tapu Lele-GX.

1 Pokémon Ranger

It’s counterintuitive to play Pokémon Ranger in a deck with ADP-GX. But, what would you want to do if you go first in the mirror match? Pokémon Ranger your opponent’s Altered Creation-GX! This is a mirror tech. It’s also good vs. Chaos Wheel.

2 Energy Loto

Because this deck so heavily relies on finding Double Dragon Energy, I thought it necessary to include more ways to find it. It can also find the needed P Energy to finish the game, which is another huge bonus! This card is too strong not to play.

Note: One small thing to note is that Dowsing Machine can now be a soft search for an Energy card. You can Dowsing Machine for Energy Loto, whereas without it there’s no way Dowsing Machine can be converted into an Energy.

2 Silent Lab, 1 Parallel City

The counts reflect the importance of each respective Stadium in the deck. The single copy of Parallel City is there to remove any straggling Tapu Lele-GX as the game progresses. Silent Lab is to threaten the T1 attack, or when you’re under Item lock and Garbotoxin is offline. The 2nd copy is important so that Guzma & Hala almost always means an attack, and also for having another copy later in the game.

Giratina-EX/Garbodor

leecario.tumblr.com

I built this list with the desire to explore a wacky concept. I wanted to include the Giratina-EX package in my first Ultra Necrozma/Garbodor list, but I decided to create an entirely new deck to separate the concepts. Without further ado, here is the madness.

The List

Pokémon (16)

2 Giratina-EX AOR

1 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX

1 Seismitoad-EX

1 Ultra Necrozma CEC

2 Trubbish NVI

1 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor BKP

1 Garbodor GRI

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Jirachi-EX

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainer (34)

2 N

2 Professor Juniper

2 Welder

1 Acerola

1 Colress

1 Guzma

 

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 VS Seeker

2 Enhanced Hammer

1 Energy Retrieval

1 Field Blower

1 Great Catcher

1 Super Rod

3 Float Stone

2 Fighting Fury Belt

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Giant Hearth

1 Parallel City

1 Silent Lab

Energy (10)

4 Double Dragon

4 R

1 Double Colorless

1 P

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 16

* 2 Giratina-EX AOR 57
* 1 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX CEC 156
* 1 Seismitoad-EX FFI 20
* 1 Ultra Necrozma CEC 164
* 2 Trubbish NVI 48
* 1 Trubbish BKP 56
* 2 Garbodor BKP 57
* 1 Garbodor GRI 51
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
* 1 Jirachi-EX PLB 60
* 1 Hoopa-EX AOR 36
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60

##Trainer Cards - 34

* 2 Welder UNB 189
* 2 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 2 N FCO 105
* 1 Acerola BUS 112
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 2 Enhanced Hammer GRI 124
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Energy Retrieval SLG 59
* 1 Super Rod BKT 149
* 2 Fighting Fury Belt BKP 99
* 3 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 3 Giant Hearth UNM 197
* 1 Silent Lab PRC 140
* 1 Parallel City BKT 145

##Energy - 10

* 4 Double Dragon Energy ROS 97
* 1 Double Colorless Energy SLG 69
* 4 R Energy Energy 2
* 1 P Energy Energy 5

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=78762 ******

I’ll attempt to unpack my thought process when crafting this list:

The Supporter and Item lines are as thin as I want them to be. I’d like to add more tech Supporters like Guzma & Hala or Teammates, but I don’t know where to find the space. The Item line has some things that can be cut, but otherwise is tight. There are likely unfound optimizations—improvements that can save a card slot, but I don’t know of any now.

As it stands, this deck probably struggles vs. the fast, basic Energy-heavy decks like Turbo Dark and PikaRom. The best improvement is probably Buzzwole FLI + Beast Energy p/Rainbow Energy. I’d want to add Teammates then so that that pair of cards can be easily found from the deck.

Conclusion

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my thoughts heading into Dallas. Zoroark-GX/Garbodor is my #1 pick right now because it’s the most versatile deck and I have the most experience with it. If I can get it to consistently beat Turbo Dark and Ultra Necrozma variants, I’d be set. Other decks like EggRow, Mewtwo & Mew-GX, and ArchieStoise are also worth beating.

I’m going to continue exploring the Dragon/Garbodor lists that I posted. They can stand up to a lot of the meta, but can definitely be improved. I’ll have more answers in my next article before Dallas (on 1/15). Good luck at any future tournaments, and I hope to see you there!

Xander


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