Deep Into the Alphabet

The Latest on ZoroGarb, ADP Dark, and UltraGarb for Dallas
Zoroark, Garbodor, and now DDE have infiltrated Expanded.

Hello 6P! Happy New Year to you, reader! 2020 looks to be an exciting year for Pokémon, with the first VGC Sword and Shield tournaments and the TCG release coming up in February! New generations always bring cool things and I’ve actually been spending a lot of time (over 200 hours logged so far) practicing VGC as I also coach some people for that.

My main focus has been Expanded for the last few weeks though, and I’ve been giving a genuine go to most of the competitive decks that I can come up with that I think are viable. My approach toward Expanded—a format that is approaching 50 legal sets at once—is more about focusing on one deck and playing it as optimally as possible. That way, when it comes to facing an unexpected combo, you can improvise as best as you can with a familiar deck.


With that in mind, I have found myself putting in the most work with ZoroGarb, mostly because it feels familiar and very powerful. It combines a wide variety of things that are important in Expanded, such are Item abuse, Ability abuse, and overextension on the Bench usage, while having the amazing Trade Ability.

The List

Here is the latest draft of the list that I’ve been practicing with the most:

Pokémon (23)

4 Zorua SLG

4 Zoroark-GX

1 Trubbish NVI

1 Trubbish BKP

1 Garbodor LTR

1 Garbodor GRI

1 Ditto p

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX

2 Exeggcute PLB

1 Klefki STS

1 Marshadow UNB

1 Mew UNB

Trainer (31)

2 Colress

1 Acerola

1 Brigette

1 Guzma

1 N

1 Pokémon Ranger

1 Professor Sycamore


4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Cherish Ball

1 Battle Compressor

1 Field Blower

1 Great Catcher

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Super Rod


2 Float Stone

1 Choice Band

1 Counter Gain


1 Dowsing Machine


3 Sky Field

Energy (6)

4 Double Colorless Energy

2 Psychic Energy


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 23

* 4 Zorua SLG 52
* 4 Zoroark-GX SLG 77
* 1 Trubbish NVI 48
* 1 Trubbish BKP 56
* 1 Garbodor LTR 68
* 1 Garbodor GRI 51
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Shaymin-EX ROS 106
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 195
* 1 Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX CEC 225
* 2 Exeggcute PLB 102
* 1 Klefki STS 80
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81
* 1 Mew UNB 76

##Trainer Cards - 31

* 1 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 1 Acerola BUS 142
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 264
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 113
* 1 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 1 Super Rod BKT 149
* 2 Colress PLS 135
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 2 Float Stone BKT 137
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Brigette BKT 161
* 1 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 2 Cherish Ball UNM 250
* 3 Sky Field ROS 89
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 1 Counter Gain LOT 230

##Energy - 6

* 4 Double Colorless Energy GRI 166
* 2 Psychic Energy SUM 162

Total Cards - 60

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

The list is of course heavily based on Ian Robb’s winning list from Portland. However, it does feature new inclusions that are both great new cards but also personal preference choices.


The base for the deck is incredibly standard with 4/4 Zoroark, 2/1/1 Garb and Ditto and featuring classic support Pokémon such as Marshadow, Exeggcute, Klefki, and the Draw Trio: Tapu Lele-GX, Dedenne-GX, and Shaymin-EX.

The brand new card here is Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX, which combines with Counter Gain and DCE to give you a fantastic way to hit beyond the 210 damage cap from Zoroark’s Riotous Beating. Zoroark-GX decks continue to face the issue of power creep and HP getting much higher than its maximum damage output. It solved that by playing Iris and Lt. Surge’s Strategy before the bans, but I’ve found LoPuff to be a great surprise against unsuspecting opponents, and overall a great punish to decks that overextend their Bench with your Sky Field. The Draw Trio adds a lot of consistency to any deck and thus should be popular overall. LoPuff thrives on that and should allow you to dish out some serious damage. Best of all is that through the use of Rescue Stretcher and Dowsing Machine you can actually get back-to-back Jumping Balloons by recovering the LoPuff and Counter Gain respectively.


Once again, standard although I did deviate from the 3 Colress in Ian Robb’s list to a 2/1 split with Professor Sycamore. I find the reliability of Professor Sycamore in the early game to be unparalleled and I really wanted that. I’ve found the early game to be the deck’s biggest concern, so I wanted to strengthen that a bit. If I could, I would fit a 2nd Brigette too.

Acerola is a card that has stopped being a staple in Zoroark-GX decks as damage output got higher and higher with time. However, with GardEon, Ultra Necrozma, and RowEgg decks expected to be popular, this card has been fantastic to out-damage them as you can reuse it with VS Seeker. It at least helps you match GardEon’s healing to an extent and sometimes even surpass it if you are able to N + Garbotoxin them at some point in the mid to late game.

Pokémon Ranger is included to counteract the Altered Creation-GX+ effect from ADP and ensure that your opponent plays a “fair game” when it comes to the Prize trade. It will also help situationally against random things like Seismitoad-EX’s Quaking Punch or Noivern-GX’s Distort.

Counter Gain is the other new inclusion, which I touched on when I discussed LoPuff, but it can also be used in a pinch to Riotous Beating for a single Psychic Energy, too.

The 2 Cherish Balls don’t seem like a big deal but they add so much consistency to the deck it’s unbelievable. These were a suggestion by my good friend Alex Garcia, and we haven’t looked back since adding them. It has improved my odds to Wonder Tag for Brigette on turn 1, set up extra Zoroarks, or search for LoPuff in the late game. It’s been especially good as a turn 1 card that is less straining on resources, as opposed to Ultra Ball which requires the hefty 2-card discard in order to play it.

Finally, Great Catcher is a fantastic card combined with N and Garbotoxin, as you can potentially eliminate a threat while denying resources. Before the most recent bans, you could Red Card or Reset Stamp + Guzma on the same turn. This is the next best thing in order to accomplish thegust effect and disruption in the same turn.

Dowsing Machine is the ACE SPEC of choice due to its versatility mid to late game where you’re looking for specific pieces and it can become anything in terms of draw or support.

Final Thoughts on ZoroGarb

This is, as of today, my top pick for sure. It has a plethora of previous successes to build on, an incredibly good and reliable draw engine, and is a familiar concept with a combination of powerful attackers. The main thing that I’m not a fan of is the potential of running into heavy Power Plant decks, but we do have 3 Sky Field and 1 Field Blower to combat that, plus Marshadow and technically Dowsing Machine. A big Colress is usually good enough to bail you out in those sorts of situations, though.

ADP Dark

Another deck that I’ve put a lot of time into optimizing is ADP Dark. This deck doesn’t quite qualify as Turbo Dark as it doesn’t go through half your deck on your first turn. It doesn’t contain any of the Draw Trio (i.e., Shaymin-EX ROS, Dedenne-GX, and Tapu Lele-GX), as Silent Lab and Power Plant will likely be all over the place in Dallas 🇺🇸, so not being weak to any of that seems important.

The biggest takeaway from Cosmic Eclipse for me is how a single Tag Call guarantees that you are able to pull off an Altered Creation-GX+ by fetching an ADP and Guzma & Hala. Combining that with Ultimate Ray getting Energy into play for Greninja & Zoroark-GX seems like a natural fit. A Japanese Expanded tournament when Cosmic Eclipse came out featured this concept and I immediately loved it.

The List

With that in mind, here’s the ADP Dark list that I’ve been working on:

Pokémon (7)

3 Greninja & Zoroark-GX

2 Darkrai-GX

2 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX

Trainer (40)

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Guzma

2 Guzma & Hala

2 N

1 Cynthia & Caitlin

1 Mallow & Lana


4 Dark Patch

4 Max Elixir

4 Tag Call

4 VS Seeker

3 Battle Compressor

2 Hypnotoxic Laser

1 Field Blower


3 Float Stone

1 Choice Band


1 Computer Search


1 Tropical Beach

Energy (13)

10 Darkness Energy

3 Double Dragon Energy


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 7

* 3 Greninja & Zoroark-GX UNB 200
* 2 Darkrai-GX BUS 139
* 2 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX CEC 220

##Trainer Cards - 40

* 4 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Cynthia & Caitlin CEC 228
* 2 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 1 Tropical Beach PR-BLW 28
* 1 Mallow & Lana CEC 231
* 3 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 4 Tag Call CEC 270
* 3 Float Stone BKT 137
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 2 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 2 N NVI 101
* 4 Dark Patch DEX 93
* 4 Max Elixir BKP 102
* 2 Guzma & Hala CEC 229

##Energy - 13

* 3 Double Dragon Energy ROS 97
* 10 Darkness Energy BUS 168

Total Cards - 60

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


Straightforward and to the point. 2 ADPs to avoid prizing issues, 3 ZoroNinja as the main attacker, and 2 Darkrai-GXs for support and to be able to eliminate threats with Dead End-GX very cost-effectively. Against other TAG TEAM decks, you don’t need to use Altered Creation, which is where Dead End-GX becomes the preferred GX attack of choice.

Turn 1 Altered Creation-GX+ into turn 2 Ultimate Ray into turn 3+ Dark Pulse is the main way to play this deck. With 280 HP and the lesser focus on 1HKOs in Expanded as opposed to Standard, this is actually quite feasible.


The Tag Call engine provides the deck with amazing consistency, as you are able to guarantee the Altered Creation-GX+ by fetching ADP and Guzma & Hala into Double Dragon Energy and a Float Stone. Tropical Beach is added for good measure as a way to find more resources in a pinch but more importantly for when you go first and you can’t Altered Creation-GX+ quite yet.

Mallow & Lana provide variety for mid- to late-game scenarios where a Guzma & Hala is underwhelming when trying to get more Energy on board or help with the Prize trade.

Having both Max Elixir and Dark Patch makes for a sustainable way to continue fueling the deck’s damage output in case your opponent was somehow able to KO ADP before you use Ultimate Ray or Enhanced Hammer/Faba got rid of your Double Dragon Energy.


Double Dragon Energy makes ADP and ReshiRom completely busted in Expanded in my opinion. Their attacks are supposed to be balanced by the specificity of their Energy costs, yet that is thrown out the window in Expanded. Having extra DDEs helps fuel Dark Pulse as well by providing a +60 bonus to the damage output rather than the regular +30 from a single Darkness Energy attachment.

Final Thoughts on ADP Dark

ZoroGarb and ADP Dark are ends of a spectrum, where Zoroark has a fully Ability-reliant engine, a myriad of options every turn, and damage caps, while ADP Dark focuses on a streamlined engine and narrow game plan. It hits hard and fast, and if the Altered Creation-GX+ effect sticks, it can run over decks very, very quickly.

One particular thing I find appealing about ZoroGarb and ADP Dark is that they both feature even to good matchups against RowEggs with Vileplume. I expect that deck to show up in decent numbers and thus a decent matchup against it is appealing.

How can you beat RowEggs/Vileplume with a deck that doesn’t have an Evolution Pokémon to bypass the Disgusting Pollen you ask? Well, there are a variety of factors:

  1. First off, Altered Creation-GX+ means all you need to do is KO a RowEgg and any other non-GX for a full set of 6 Prizes, so Bench management becomes incredibly crucial for them and there’s basically no way they can avoid using RowEggs at some point.
  2. Number 2 is, if they decided to simply let go of RowEgg and set up a single Disgusting Pollen Vileplume, you can Hypnotoxic Laser it as you won’t be under Item lock and thus they will eventually need to bench something else. Your reliance on basic Energy means their myriad of Fabas aren’t really impactful on you, so it is actually complicated for them to set up a game-winning scenario. It’s all about being patient and the access to Hypnotoxic Laser that makes a big difference.


One final deck that I think many people have put a lot of time into is Ultra Necrozma variants. I especially like the Garbodor variant as both Garbotoxin and Trashalanche are fantastic, always. The deck does run into mid- to late-game consistency issues though, as is expected of one that doesn’t have any draw Abilities. I’ve stopped testing the deck as I’m very happy with where I ended up with it, and I know that I could simply choose to play it the day of Dallas if I wanted to.

The List

Pokémon (13)

4 Ultra Necrozma CEC

2 Trubbish GRI

1 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor BKP

2 Garbodor GRI

1 Buzzwole FLI

1 Wobbuffet PHF

Trainer (39)

4 Guzma & Hala

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Guzma

1 N

1 Pokémon Ranger

1 Teammates


4 VS Seeker

3 Mysterious Treasure

3 Nest Ball

3 Trainers’ Mail

1 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher


4 Float Stone

2 Choice Band


1 Computer Search


4 Silent Lab

Energy (8)

4 Double Dragon Energy

4 Rainbow Energy


Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 13

* 4 Ultra Necrozma CEC 164
* 2 Trubbish GRI 50
* 1 Trubbish BKP 56
* 2 Garbodor BKP 57
* 2 Garbodor GRI 51
* 1 Buzzwole FLI 77
* 1 Wobbuffet PHF 36

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 4 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 1 N FCO 105
* 4 Silent Lab PRC 140
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 113
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 4 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Teammates PRC 160
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 2 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 3 Mysterious Treasure FLI 145
* 4 Guzma & Hala CEC 229
* 3 Trainers’ Mail AOR 100

##Energy - 8

* 4 Rainbow Energy CES 183
* 4 Double Dragon Energy ROS 97

Total Cards - 60

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


I added Buzzwole as a way to have added damage output vs. Zoroark-GX and Dark decks, as including Rainbow Energy was easy when I was already featuring Trashalanche as an alternate attacker. I originally considered a thicker Ultra Beasts package with the Rainbows, but ultimately decided that all of them except Buzzwole were underwhelming.

Wobbuffet also makes an appearance to have a better shot vs. Vileplume decks, although their basically 0 Item usage means it’s going to be almost impossible getting past the Disgusting Pollen Vileplume. It’s never a bad starter, but it could easily be the 4th Trubbish for consistency purposes.


I’m trying to keep everything as consistent as possible, hence the 4 Guzma & Hala and 4 Silent Lab, as they are the cards you want on turn 1 along with an Ultra Necrozma and DDE. 4 Professor Sycamore to have the best chance at a follow up after the turn 1 Guzma & Hala and to keep replenishing resources throughout the game. Nest Ball, Mysterious Treasure, and Trainers’ Mail help dig for further resources.


Straightforward (once again) with max counts of both Rainbow Energy and DDE. There’s merit for possibly playing a Beast Energy as it provides bonus damage for Ultra Necrozma and Buzzwole.

Final Thoughts on UltraGarb

The deck is powerful and has a super strong early game, as opposed to something like ZoroGarb. However, as the game drags on, it does tend to fizzle out, and whiffing pieces such as DDE or Stadium can be a big deal, especially when Chaotic Swell gets played in some decks. The simplicity and unreliability of this deck in the mid to late game is what stops it from being an absolute monster, but it can overwhelm opponents who have any minor hiccups in their game plan, especially with a possible late-game Garbotoxin + N combo.


That will be all for today’s article! I’m looking forward to Dallas very much, and I hope to see many of you there! As always, feel free to contact me on any of the Tablemon social media outlets if you have any questions regarding the content of this article. Thanks for reading!

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Reader Interactions

1 reply

  1. Daniel Hugar

    Thanks for the great article! How do you think the dark dragons build compares to turbo dark and dark box? Do you have a preference for one or the other? And why?

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