Hey all, I’m happy to be back from Collinsville Regionals and sharing another article with all of you. I had a fantastic time this weekend meeting new people and spending time with the those who make this game a home for me. With that being said, I’ll be focusing on Expanded this time, because I quite honestly haven’t been extremely focused on Standard with all my preparation for Collinsville. While I know Mississauga is the next Regional, I figured I would focus on what I know best right now, while my thoughts are still fresh on Expanded. Today, I’ll be going in-depth with the deck I played for Collinsville Regionals, before wrapping up with three takeaways regarding how I expect to see Expanded develop for Charlotte Regionals in a few weeks.
Thursday, Friday Night
Going into this weekend, I was fairly set on a list a few cards off from the Zacian V list that I had posted last week. The only real changes I had made were swapping a Blissey LOT line out for the Copperajah SSH and Galarian Rapidash SSH line I was working on in my article, while trying out a few different slots, like a 2nd Dhelmise GRI and a Professor Kukui, as well as a 12th Energy and a 4th Max Elixir. Each time I laid out my list, it felt like it made sense to me.
Then, my friends Caleb Patton and Carter Anderson came over Thursday night to do some extra testing before our eight-hour drive the following day. Caleb and I had been considering an Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX/Blacephalon-GX deck, but we quickly discarded that after playing some games with the deck against Roxie/Garchomp & Giratina-GX and Snorlax VMAX variants. From there, we directed our attention for the rest of the night on testing the Zacian V against RoxieChomp matchup.
Now, I didn’t exactly think that RoxieChomp would be the most popular deck at the event, but it wasn’t something I wanted to strictly lose to. As the night went on, I started to lose confidence in the deck after losing around four or five straight games in the matchup. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I was just exhausted from a long week, getting unlucky, or playing an unfavored matchup. I packed up my Zacian V list, threw together the cards I would need if I wanted to play our RoxieChomp list, and got ready to leave the following day.
On the car ride down, I started talking with my friends, both physical and digital, about what I should play. Tate Whitesell and Frank Percic mentioned that they were feeling good about their Cramorant V deck, and I talked a bit more to Tate about his list and the deck’s matchups. At this point, I was tired of going in circles with Zacian V—I had gotten stuck in my own head and fallen into the Expanded trap of worrying about trying to beat every single matchup, rather than focusing on the deck’s strengths and my prior experience with it. I didn’t want to play RoxieChomp because I was less experienced with the deck compared to Zacian V, and I figured that if I was going to play something I wasn’t experienced with, then I wanted to have something with some surprise factor. I found the cards for Mew/Cramorant V, sleeved up the deck, and went into Saturday feeling optimistic about my chances.
The List and Tournament Performance
4 Mew FCO
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 18
* 4 Mew FCO 29
* 2 Cramorant V SSH 198
* 1 Blacephalon CEC 104
* 1 Bunnelby PRC 121
* 1 Clefairy EVO 63
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81
* 1 Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX HIF 44
* 1 Oranguru SUM 113
* 1 Sudowoodo BKP 67
* 1 Sudowoodo GRI 66
* 1 Tapu Koko p TEU 51
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Yveltal-GX FLI 79
##Trainer Cards - 32
* 2 Spell Tag LOT 190
* 1 Stealthy Hood UNB 186
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 4 Dimension Valley PHF 93
* 3 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Teammates PRC 141
* 1 Special Charge STS 105
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 2 Float Stone PLF 99
* 1 N FCO 105
* 1 Guzma & Hala CEC 193
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 104
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 3 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 1 Target Whistle Team Flare Gear PHF 106
##Energy - 10
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=79818 ******
My matchups were as follows:
R1: Turbo Zacian V (Caleb Gedemer) … LL … 0-1-0
R2: Zacian V/Bronzong BREAK … LL … 0-2-0
R3: Medicham PRC 81/ADP-GX … WW … 1-2-0
R4: Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX … WW … 2-2-0
R5: Hitmonchan TEU/Wobbuffet PHF … WW … 3-2-0
R6: Turbo Dark … LL … 3-3-0
R7: Turbo Zacian V … WW … 4-3-0
R8: Turbo Dark … WW … 5-3-0
R9: ADP-GX/Blacephalon-GX … LL … 5-4-0
First of all, all credit goes to the Cut or Tap and Team GaS groups who developed this list. As I noted before, I more or less hopped on the train the night before, and that ended up showing in my tournament results. If you’re interested in more analysis, you can find words from the primary creators of the deck here, as articulated by Kiernan Wagner.
Essentially, the deck aims to take quick, cheap Prizes by using Cramorant V’s Spit Shot in conjunction with Double Colorless Energy, Dimension Valley, and Mew FCO. In addition, the deck played a number of tech cards, like Blacephalon CEC, Spell Tag, Bunnelby PRC 121, and Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX, amongst others. All of these had purposes in their specific matchups, which I’ll address in the next section of the article.
As you can see, I had a bit of a rough start on the day. I largely attribute this to my inexperience with the deck, and some early yet costly mistakes, like playing a Nest Ball with a full, Roadblock’d Bench in Game 2 of Round 1 against Caleb Gedemer—a game I was fairly confident that I would have won otherwise. After my first two rounds, I felt like there might have been ways to win each game I had lost, but I wasn’t sure what the proper route was. After rallying back for three rounds, I ended up losing to a Turbo Dark list that featured Marshadow-GX and Guzzlord-GX, which ended up being too insurmountable for my low-HP attackers. Despite a bit of bad luck here and there, my lack of experience with the deck hurt my run in this tournament more than any other factor.
One interesting point of note is that this may be the first Regional where I played zero Game 3s throughout the entire day—I either rolled my opponent, or they rolled me. I’m not sure about what this says about the nature of Expanded—perhaps it has something to do with the first turn rules, or with how polarized Expanded can be when it comes to matchups. Either way, it was an interesting experience to partake in.
A 5-4 finish, of course, brings up the question: is the deck worth playing again? What about going into Charlotte in a few weeks? In my eyes, yes; the deck is powerful, versatile, and can square up against almost any deck in Expanded. If you’re interested in playing the deck more, here are some tips to get you started:
Bench Space Management
This, simply put, is the hardest part of playing the deck, especially with Sudowoodo GRI being as prevalent as it is. Typically, you’ll be trying to plan turns ahead by using Beak Catch, but balancing your Bench between setting up additional attackers, Bench-sitters, and support Pokémon is what I struggled most with over this weekend. Within this, there are some good rules of thumb when starting with this deck:
- Against Sky Field-based decks (think: TrevNoir, Turbo Dark, Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX), you’re going to want to prioritize dropping Sudowoodo GRI as early as possible so that you can limit their options for working around your reactionary strategy.
- Oranguru SUM is important against decks that can consistently play N against you or aim to limit your hand, like TrevNoir, Zacian V, and RoxieChomp.
- Be cautious when benching your Pokémon-GX and V, because a smart opponent can find Guzma twice and end the game quickly.
Overall, there are a ton of microdecisions to master with this deck, and it’s worth your time to work with the deck leading up to any event where you might play it.
Since we saw my good friend Grant Hays return to Top 8 with his trusty Sceptile variant, and Kolton Day reach the finals with the deck, I figured I’d put in a note about this matchup. Essentially, you aim to Spit Shot any and all Vileplume cards they put into play with Super Growth. You should have plenty of time to go for this strategy, especially if you go second and use Beak Catch. Grant did play a Mew UNB going into the event specifically because he had heard about this deck, but I don’t think that will be a popular tech moving forward. You can also address Mew by going in with Blacephalon CEC or Guzma.
This is another perplexing matchup until you realize that Mew can copy Sky Legends-GX and be powered up in one turn via the use of Tapu Koko p, Dimension Valley, and Counter Energy. Essentially, you aim to trade Prize cards with them until going for this play to wipe their board of attackers. Of course, you need to be behind to pull it off, but the lead that you gain from this play should often be enough to swing the matchup into your favor. If you’ve got an especially good hand, this play paired with a well-timed N can leave your opponent in topdeck mode.
This seemed like another matchup worth addressing due to the prevalence of this deck in Collinsville. The matchup is a little wacky depending on how your opponent’s list is built, but generally you’ll want to start using Bunnelby’s Burrow in combination with Rototiller to start applying pressure on their resources. From there, you can start taking knockouts with Cramorant V through Mew, using Target Whistle and Rototiller to take knockouts and conserve resources. The biggest issue for this deck can be Alolan Persian-GX, but if they attack with it, you can simply go in with Tapu Lele-GX’s Energy Drive for 1 L Energy and Dimension Valley. If they don’t, you can simply mill them out with Burrow. Should they go for Pyroar FLF, you can go in with Blacephalon, and Doom Count-GX, should you need a concrete way to get through an attacking Pyroar. Patience is the key in this matchup.
So, what would I change going forward? There’s a few options for teching for what I expect to see (assuming no bans) as the top decks at Charlotte Regionals in a few weeks. Although I won’t be attending, I’ll be testing with my friends to help them get ready for the event, and I’ve got a few ideas on how to improve the deck before its next opportunity to shine.
- Additional Energy: While Yveltal-EX was nice for getting through cards like Aegislash-EX, I’m not totally convinced of its (and, by extension, Spell Tag’s) spot in the deck. One option could be more streamlining on the overall strategy, opting to play additional Lightning or Prism Energy. I’m not inclined to play more Counter Energy, as Prism Energy + Dimension Valley with Mew can produce a similar effect, but it’s also a consideration moving forward.
- Wobbuffet PHF: I’m starting to feel like a broken record in my articles—Wobbuffet is still really good in Expanded! In the streamed Top 8 match, we watched Will Jenkins and eventual champion Justin Bokhari try and slow each other down by promoting this card on their opening turns. I think this is a more effective strategy in the Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX matchup than simply benching both Sudowoodo and Oranguru, because it has a greater potential to slow them down, and forces them to search out the Alolan Muk line under pseudo-Ability lock to shut off Bide Barricade. While I’m on the topic, it’s worth mentioning that Oranguru in combination with Stealthy Hood is a good piece of counterplay, assuming you can find it quickly enough, against TrevNoir decks.
- Muscle Band, Choice Band, Galarian Zigzagoon SSH, Field Blower: There were a few times over the weekend where I wished I would have had a little extra damage, like when my opponent went for a turn two Glutton-GX and I couldn’t find the intricate Tapu Koko p/Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX combination to Trinity Burn, as a Watch and Learn wouldn’t have taken a return KO. The reason I include Field Blower with these cards is that the only real situation I ever wanted this card is when my opponent had Fighting Fury Belt, and playing Field Blower gives you an effective damage boost by lowering your opponent’s HP.
After playing this weekend, I just have a certain number of thoughts that seem like they’re worth sharing with you all, in case you didn’t attend Collinsville or are feeling lost for Charlotte. It’s worth noting that all of these takeaways for the future are under the assumption that there will be no banned cards, and that Charlotte is simply an extension of Collinsville’s format. Here’s three thoughts about the current state of Expanded:
Sudowoodo’s Prevalence and Wobbuffet’s Potential
Sudowoodo GRI was a card that singlehandedly won or lost games in tons of matches this weekend. Whether it was stopping the benching of an additional Shaymin-EX, or the overt limiting of explosive decks like Turbo Dark, Sudowoodo proved itself as one of the most important techs coming into the weekend.
However, as we move forward, I think we’ll start to see more decks incorporate Wobbuffet PHF, Stealthy Hood, and Stage 1 draw support as we head into Charlotte. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like there’s a ton of better techs for TrevNoir. We already saw the emergence of Wobbuffet in Justin and Will’s list from the weekend, as techs for Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX decks, as well as an additional out to Sudowoodo. As we move forward, I think finding better ways to slow down and draw out of Night Watch will come to define the metagame.
TrevNoir’s and Stall’s Dominance
When watching Day Two this weekend, I realized during a certain round that there was a Stall variant or a Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX at each of the top five tables. This shouldn’t be particularly shocking, of course; the decks each focus on creating an extremely unbalanced gamestate and took extremely favorable matchups against many of the more traditional behemoths of Expanded, like Turbo Dark or EggRow.
Going forward, I don’t see this changing: unless something is done to adjust the Expanded format, these two decks seem like by far and away the best decks for Charlotte Regionals. In some ways, their strength feels symbiotic; the techs for one of these two oppressive variants don’t particularly help against the other, meaning that players will have to innovate new strategies entirely or be forced to take an auto-loss to one of the decks. These would be the two initial decks I address, or consider playing, for Charlotte Regionals.
Zacian V’s Underperformance
It’s no secret to anyone that Zacian V was my top pick for this weekend. Simply put, the deck just feels like it works, on paper. I think fellow author Jonathan Croxton phrased it best when we were talking about the deck leading up to the event: “It’s just Turbo Dark, but you need less to happen.” Going into the event, I used this as rationale to play the deck, but looking back on it, I think that it’s a detriment to the variant as a whole. Metal Pokémon don’t have as many options as Dark Pokémon, like Guzzlord CEC, Darkrai-GX, or Weavile-GX, and that leads to a more linear style of deck. This means that when Zacian V works, it’s easier for the deck to be outplayed or lose to teched-out lists because the other person knows what’s coming. If you’re going to hedge your bets on a certain turbo engine working, I’d rather give myself more options and attackers rather than a simpler, more predictable strategy. I think that Turbo Dark is a strong variant to consider for Charlotte in addition to the two variants I mentioned before, and the deck I played in Collinsville.
If you’re curious about how my friends Carter and Caleb ended up doing with the RoxieChomp list they came up with, they finished in the Top 32 and 64 respectively, with the final member of our car, Kyle Warner, losing a win-and-in and finishing in the Top 128. Just goes to show that sometimes innovating on an already-known deck is the best way to create success.
In addition, I’d like to give a very special shout-out to John Mostowy (pronounced Moss-Tov-EE) for his Top 4 finish this weekend. I can’t think of a kinder, more wholesome member of the community, and he deserved every second of this weekend. In addition, a shout-out to Chad Ross and his family for his Day Two finish and the kind words, as well as to John Patrick for a Top 4 finish in Seniors with a great Zacian V list.
Then, there’s all the usual things: if you haven’t already, you can find me on Twitter, or on Facebook as Em Taylor, or leave a comment below with any thoughts, questions, or constructive criticism. I hope you have a great time experimenting and innovating with Sword & Shield, and I wish you good luck in all your future endeavors.
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