What’s up guys, Jon here again with another article. I recently attended the Dallas Regional Championships where I was fortunate enough to get Top 4. This feels especially fortunate as I haven’t been a huge fan of Expanded for quite some time now. In this article I will be going over the deck I played to Dallas with a little analysis, how I think it gets affected by the rule change and the new expansion moving forward for Collinsville Regionals , other decks I think will be good in Expanded, and another idea dump to help get you guys ready for Sword & Shield, specifically Standard for OCIC and onward. With that being said, let’s go!
T4 @ Dallas w/ ZoroGarb
Leading up to Dallas, my group and I had tested several decks, all of which felt relatively mediocre in comparison to Turbo Dark, which left us with the question “Why aren’t we just playing Dark?” To tell it short, only one of us ended up on Turbo Dark. I can’t speak for the others, but the reason I didn’t end up playing it—despite it being a sheer powerhouse of a deck—was because I didn’t feel as if I had enough options to outplay my opponent when I was playing the deck. The deck felt too reliant on if you could set up a lot early, and if you didn’t you’d fall behind. In summary, the deck felt too linear; I also didn’t want to have to deal with the inevitable mirror matches I’d hit if I played it.
This is what lead me to ZoroGarb. If you remember, I wrote a little about it during the first string of Expanded Regionals back in November and called it one of my go-to decks in the format. This hasn’t changed. I don’t want to bore you by repeating why I think the deck is amazing, so here is a little summary of why I played it:
- The consistency and late-game power of the deck is unmatched. I always feel as if I have a chance in any game I am playing with the deck and at the very least, know I will likely not dead-draw into a loss. The deck also allows me to punish my opponents if they play suboptimally, something I don’t find with many decks in Expanded.
- The deck obliterates Shock Lock. This may seem like an odd reason but I assure you it is valid. Every, and I mean every, Expanded Regionals has a few people who hover at the top tables with Shock Lock solely because the deck goes uncontested and disrespected. My logic was that if I can find myself at the top tables early as opposed to winning my way up to 6-2-1, I will encounter these Shock Locks and take easy wins on them. This logic proved true and frankly probably could’ve gone even better as I found myself at the same record as the deck in multiple rounds.
- It had the best win-rate against Dark of any deck I could realistically see myself playing, and my group had tested Dark against so many things that I’m pretty sure we were playing Dark more optimally than the average player.
- Lastly, I have experience with the deck. I’ve played it to success before, so I was confident in my ability to do it again.
Here’s the list Tanner Hurley and I settled on:
1 Mew UNB
1 Ditto p
4 Double Colorless Energy
2 Psychic Energy
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 24
* 4 Zorua DEX 70
* 4 Zoroark-GX SLG 53
* 1 Trubbish NVI 48
* 1 Trubbish PLS 65
* 2 Garbodor LTR 68
* 1 Garbodor GRI 51
* 2 Exeggcute PLF 4
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
* 1 Sudowoodo GRI 66
* 1 Klefki STS 80
* 1 Mew UNB 76
* 1 Oranguru UPR 114
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
##Trainer Cards - 30
* 3 Colress PLS 118
* 1 Brigette BKT 134
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 4 Ultra Ball SLG 68
* 2 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 2 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Battle Compressor PHF 92
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 1 Super Rod BKT 149
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 2 Float Stone BKT 137
* 3 Sky Field ROS 89
##Energy - 6
* 4 Double Colorless Energy SLG 69
* 2 Psychic Energy Energy 5
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=79243 ******
Note: I actually played 1 Zorua SLG (Ram) because I am bad and couldn’t find another Paralyzing Gaze one. Never punished.
Here are my matchups throughout the event:
R1: Turbo Dark … WW 1-0
R2: Archie’s Blastoise … LL 1-1
R3: Raticate BCR/Lasers … WW 2-1
R4: Milotic FLF/Bird Trio … WW 3-1
R5: ADP/Turbo Dark … WLW 4-1
R6: Regirock/Hoopa/Doll Stall … WW 5-1
R7: Shock Lock ;) … WW 6-1
R8: Shock Lock w/ Goodra … ID 6-1-1 (I messed up big time and thought he was playing something else. At least Goodra means he has a shot in the matchup, so the ID could’ve prevented a potential loss?)
R9: Toad/TinaChomp/Roxie … WLW 7-1-1
R10: TinaChomp/Roxie (Same 60 as Hunter) … WW 8-1-1
R11: EggRow … LWL 8-2-1
R12: Turbo Dark … WW 9-2-1
R13: Turbo Dark … WLW 10-2-1
R14: Attacking Regirock (Fellow 6P writer Alex Schemanske) … ID 10-2-2
T8: TrevNoir Hand Lock (Fellow 6P writer Pablo Meza) … WW
T4: TinaChomp/Roxie … LWL
Final: 11-3-2, 4th
All in all I’m happy with how the event went. I think the ideology behind ZoroGarb being a good deck holds true in Expanded moving forward with the rule change and new set, you just have to switch some stuff up.
I feel that the big reason people have written off ZoroGarb post-rule change is the inability to both go first and use Brigette to set up your board easily. I agree that this hurts the deck, but with the changes shown above, the deck will survive and may even be better.
Updates for BLW–SSH
The deck doesn’t actually change much. You need to add Quick Balls as a way to search for your Basic Pokémon in the situation that you go first and you’ll need another Dedenne-GX as a way to draw cards on your first turn to find the cards that find your Basics.
If I were to make these changes, it would probably look something like this:
- -2 Cherish Ball
-1 Oranguru UPR
+3 Quick Ball
- -1 Mew UNB
I actually think that the deck gets even better going into a blind meta like what Collinsville will be because, as said before, ZoroGarb flourishes when your opponents play suboptimally, whether it be their in game play or their list.
However, if ZoroGarb isn’t your fancy, here are some other decks that stand out from the crowd in Expanded moving forward:
Other Good Expanded Decks
From first glance, with the new rule change we can infer that any of the explosive decks that can dish out huge amounts of damage on turn 1 will benefit from going 2nd, but could be questionable going 1st. We will have to see these decks increase their counts of Shaymin-EXs and Dedenne-GXs to compensate for the missing draw, assuming they go first. Decks like PikaRom and Turbo Dark are the decks that come to mind when I think of this.
In addition to those two, Hunter’s RoxieChomp gets even better with the inclusion of Galarian Zigzagoon SSH as Roxie becomes less needed and pinging damage becomes a lot easier to pull off.
Archie’s Blastoise also benefits from going 2nd now, but unlike Turbo Dark, PikaRom, and RoxieChomp, it can’t really do much when it goes 1st. It will be interesting to see if Archie’s can find its way back into the top of the meta.
EggRow went from the BDIF in Richmond, to virtually unplayable in Portland, to a decent call in Dallas, and now back to a real threat moving forward with this new rule. The deck doesn’t mind going 1st, and absolutely loves going 2nd as you can quickly lock your opponent out of the game.
I predict that, at least for Collinsville, the format will be shaped around whether or not people give EggRow the respect it deserves. The first time EggRow did well was when no one expected it or had answers. If this happens again, then you all know what will happen.
That’s it for Expanded, now on to my idea dump:
Idea Dump (Sword & Shield Edition)
- If you haven’t acknowledged it yet, now is a good time to: PikaRom is the face of the meta. Every article I’ve seen written on the subject of UPR–SSH/Standard has either been entirely about PikaRom or included it. This is for good reason, though. The deck gains a plethora of tools from this set. Whether it be because of the new draw in the form of Professor’s Research, new attackers such as Tapu Koko V, added consistency in the form of Quick Ball, or the fact that it doesn’t suffer much from the new turn 1 rules, PikaRom is a force to be reckoned with in this meta. I, of course, have no issues with Pika taking the throne back in Tier 1. :)
- I have seen the Malamar deck that is more focused on the heavier attackers that are copied by Mewtwo & Mew-GX. From first glance, the deck itself seems quite mediocre. Malamar was good because of how well it traded with other decks, and this iteration of the deck throws that concept out the window. However, a key part of this deck caught my eye. Gengar & Mimikyu-GX’s GX attack (Horror House-GX) is extremely powerful with the new turn 1 rule. Imagine a scenario where you are going 2nd, your opponent doesn’t do much on turn 1 due to the limitations, and you use Horror House-GX. You’ve effectively just removed their 2nd turn from them as well. You get two turns of Supporters before they even get one. I think that a deck based around this could be quite powerful and I definitely will be exploring this in testing for Australia.
- I can’t go without acknowledging ADP/Zacian and the sheer tankiness and power that it brings to the table. I haven’t messed with this deck as much as I’d have liked to by now, but I think it will suffer from the same thing that old ADP did: the fact that it starts off relatively slow. Any deck that can take advantage of their slow start should be naturally favored vs. them.
- Frosmoth SSH definitely adds a good mechanic that Standard has been missing for a while but in my opinion, the attackers that can be paired with it aren’t the best. More testing is needed, but I don’t have high hopes for Water Box.
- Baby Blowns gains Lucky Egg which solves the deck getting Reset Stamped late game which was a pretty big issue for it. The deck is super solid because it is able to dish out the huge numbers that seem to be getting bigger and harder to deal with. I will be testing this deck heavily moving forward.
- I don’t understand the hype around the Morpeko V deck. It’s pretty obvious with the game shifting to be more Pokémon V-based that Custom Catcher will come back to at least contest Great Catcher as a pretty common gust effect. This deck seems easily exploitable by rushing the Morpeko V, thus making the deck stumble.
- I don’t know where the Welder decks from before stand right now, but I can make some educated assumptions:
- Ability Reshi will likely become worse due to it being a little more reliant on getting the turn 1 and 2 Welder to swing with ReshiZard to do 300 as early as possible. You can’t rely on going 2nd every single game; however, it is still doable this way. Who knows though—last time AbilityZard was written off, it won the whole IC.
- Mewtwo was a little less reliant on getting back-to-back Welders to do a ton of damage, so I think the deck will survive quite well moving forward. Especially with Malamar (one of its hardest matchups) being more based around multi-Prize attackers, Mewtwo may even get better going forward.
- As long as Zacian is as prevalent as it is predicted to be, GardEon will be even worse of a deck than it was before.
- With the new first turn rule, there isn’t a lot players can do on their first turn outside of attempting to set up their board and attaching. I particularly like Wait and See Hammer for this reason, as some decks rely on that 1st-turn attachment to make their deck function the following turn. Specifically, decks like ADP that are already naturally slow would suffer from this. Mewtwo wants to hit the turn 2 300 with Flare Blitz-GX, but can’t anymore if you remove the attachment from their first turn, assuming they went 1st. I don’t know how easily this card would fit into decks, but it does seem strong if you can ever get it off.
- There are a lot of prevalent Tools right now… Like a lot. ADP/Zacian has Metal Frying Pan, Baby Blowns has Lucky Egg, any deck can play Air Balloon, and any deck can play Big Charm. Pokémon definitely didn’t hesitate when it came to the Tools this time around, so a card like Lysandre Labs becomes quite good in my opinion. Again, like Wait and See Hammer, I don’t know how easily this could be fit into decks, but its merit is apparent.
- Control definitely gets hurt, but I don’t think it’s done yet. Having an Ability like Cinccino SSH’s is amazing in any kind of Control deck, but the release of the new Oranguru SSH is what prevents a Control style deck from ever achieving the “perfect lock.” I will continue to explore ways build Control to both (1) cater to the new rule and (2) function despite counters. And if not in Control, Cinccino will be played somewhere else; it’s way too good of a card.
That’s it for the idea dump.
Preliminary UPR–SSH Tier List
Before I fully read through the set and analyzed how it affected past decks and what new decks would come of it, I was extremely lost. I didn’t know where to start my testing or theorying, so for those of you who are having these same issues, I have made a tier list of decks based on their importance and how much you should focus on either (A) testing with/against them or (B) theorying them:
- Baby Blowns
- Frosmoth/Water Attackers
- Malamar (Both versions)
- Big Blowns
- TinaChomp (Normal and Roxie)
- Pidgey Control (Or Cinccino???)
That’s all for now. Hopefully I was able to give you some insight on why ZoroGarb is so good, and how to adjust it moving forward, in addition to giving you some ideas to work off of and consider in regard to all of these changes to the game quickly approaching us. I apologize for this piece not being super dense when it comes to lists. I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving you guys something that isn’t tested, but I hope you guys can use this piece as a starting point as you venture into this new era in the game. As always, let me know if you have any questions.
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