Battle Music in TCG

I do love the Sinnoh (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum) battle music and was listening to some remixes.  It got me wondering – maybe we should have music playing at the pre-release and for the finals of League Challenges and Cups? I know it would be distracting but on the other hand it would add awesome points! Anyway, below is a pretty funky remix of the Sinnoh battle theme – enjoy!


Guzzlord – Bad Deck Idea Friday

=Deck= guzzlord

4 GuzzlordGX

4 Guzma

4 Choice Bands / Fighting Fury Belt

3 Rescue Stretcher

45 Dark Energy


Yes it’s crazy.

Yes everyone has suggested it online.


However let’s break it down a little bit more.

Ideally you’ll go second. You will need to mulligan a lot to start, attach an energy and then Eat Sloppily to get Tyrannical Hole ready turn 2.

The choice bands let you hit NinetailsGX for 1HKO but FFB puts you out of most threats’ range so it depends on what you think you will encounter.

The Guzma’s are to let you get past any blocking Pokémon such as Luminous Barrier Ninetales and give you some control since the 4 Retreat Cost is high.

The Rescue Stretcher lets you fetch an accidentally discarded GuzzlordGX back from the discard pile if its eaten sloppily or KOed. You could run Super Rod to recycle energy but it’s highly unlikely to be necessary hence the preference for Rescue Stretcher.


It will struggle against GardevoirGX since 5 energy will be hitting you for 150 damage + what they have attached- at least 1 – so a guaranteed KO. Additionally GardevoirGX resists Dark types so even with a Choice Band you are looking at a 2 Hit KO.

However unless something else crazy emerges for Dark types with the next 2 expansions, the card is likely to be cheap and the deck is easy to construct, and will hopefully be fun to play!


What Deck To Play?

What deck should you play?


There’s many different factors to consider when choosing a deck to play in any format. In many ways the Expanded format is less subject to the whims of the local metagame. Today we’ll look at the following considerations which are worth taking into account when deciding which particular deck you should play.

  • Metagame
  • Playstyle
  • Flexibility
  • Expense


Generally the first factor to consider in Standard format, the metagame is an important but not as an important factor in Expanded. In Standard a weaker, clever, anti-meta deck with a really good player can dominate (Audino-EX 2016 anyone?). In Expanded such a deck would get crushed as the power level of each deck is simply much superior.

This isn’t to say that a careful analysis of the metagame and running a good choice isn’t worthy of consideration, simply that it’s less of a factor in Expanded where the format is more mature and the metagame changes more slowly.

For example if no one is running fighting, and there’s a lot of Yveltal then Raikou/Eels is a pretty good choice. However even if there’s not a lot of Yveltal, this doesn’t invalidate Raikou/Eels by any means.

PlaystyleJunk Hunt Sableye

Generally we play games for fun – weather that’s fun from winning, socialising, creating or simply playing. The only factor your deck doesn’t influence is the social side. (I’m reliably informed that everyone will hate me for playing Junk Hunt Sableye!)

Some decks win by taking 6 prizes faster than the opponent, some by decking out the opponent, others by limiting their options. A key factor in deciding what deck to play in expanded is looking at how the deck will play out.


Taking the previous two factors into account, can the deck deal with a variety of threats and matchups? If you have a deck that randomly wins 50% of the time but almost automatically looses the other 50% you may need to reconsider how it works. Unless of course you are happy with the 50% win rate!

Some decks can only be played in a very specific way (Junk Hunt Sableye for example!) whereas others are more flexible. Some decks are more of an archetype (Turbo Darkrai for example), which adhere to a set core of cards that work together but are less fussy about some of the other Pokémon and Trainers in the deck.

Almost every deck will have variations. People constantly make little changes to even the top decks in all formats because only by trying out new things can we overcome new obstacles.

ExpenseTropical Beach Promo

Unfortunately for most of us money makes the world go around! Consequently some decks are more expensive than others to construct. They may require a lot of hard to find EX/GX or cards that only appeared in limited releases such as promos. The textbook example is Tropical Beach – a promo card that was only distributed at Worlds events. There is a Groudon-EX that requires FOUR!

A good tool for comparing deck prices is the Pokemon Goldfish website. Don’t be put off by some of the high prices for some decks. You may be able to substitute trainers for a functional reprint, or a similar effect.

Lele-GX. While Lele is more expensive (making Jirachi cheaper!) it is also easier to get hold of as it is in a widely printed set in the standard format. Shaymin has dropped dramatically in price due to imminent rotation.

A main attractor for expanded is that it is arguably cheaper in the long run. You may only need a couple of cards from each new set to stay ‘up to date’. Your deck is unlikely to be rendered obsolete by any one (or two or three..) sets. Cards are still relatively easy to acquire and not as expensive as the legacy format which tends to be more ‘solved’ (IE there are only a limited number of viable decks).

While worlds and many of the top tournaments are in Standard format, expanded is a great way to play the game casually or for leagues as it allows a lot more freedom – 99% of the time, a Standard deck will be legal in the Expanded format – notable exceptions being Archeops, Forest of Giant plants and Lysandres Trump Card. (Which we covered here)

Our local League plays Expanded except for special events. Whereas the next town over is Standard all the way. If you’re looking to upgrade from casual Pokémon TCG but aren’t sure about committing to the time/cost of Standard you could do a lot worse than try Expanded. It is not the flashiest of formats but it can teach you a lot about the game and is a lot more tactical and fun due to less reliance on judging the metagame.

Still Can’t Decide?

If you’re still not sure on what deck to even consider you could do a lot worse than trying this handy flowchart:

Expanded Deck Flowchart

BDIF – Honchkrow/Tapu Koko

With Worlds coming up, I want to talk about my favourite deck: Honchkrow/Tapu Koko. As always, we’ll be deciding whether the deck earns the title Best Deck in Format or Bad Deck Idea Friday!

Why Honchkrow?Honchkrow Guardians Rising

Honchkrow/Tapu Koko can deal massive amounts of damage with a bit of setup. Damage counts can start reaching ridiculous number (300s, 400s +). You’re running one prize attackers that can 1HKO your opponent’s Pokémon a great deal of the time.  This deck aims to punish your opponent for every choice they make.

Sounds like one of those bad spiels you read before a really terrible deck list gets posted. There are flaws with this deck and I will be the first one to admit it. Your opponent can play around what you’re doing. They can Bench fewer Pokémon, Field Blower away your Stadiums or run cards like Machoke (GRI) or Mr. Mime (BKT) to stop you doing damage to the Bench. Then you need at least one turn (preferably two) of Tapu Koko before you can start swinging with Honchkrow. And of course each KO reduces the damage you will do next turn. But with the combination of different ways to do damage in this deck, it overcomes these drawbacks to shine.

Like Vespiquen, this deck is a glass cannon deck. You need to be ready to lose your Tapu Kokos and Honchkrows. However, once you start sweeping it is really hard for your opponent to stay in the race.

The List

3 Tapu Koko (SM Promo 30)
4 Murkrow (GRI 78)
4 Honchkrow (GRI 79)
2 Shaymin-EX (ROS 77)
2 Tapu Lele-GX (GRI 60)

4 Professor Sycamore
3 N.
2 Teammates
1 Brigette
2 Hex Maniac
2 Guzma
1 Brock’s Grit
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Special Charge
1 Team Magma’s Secret Base
2 Po Town
2 Nest Ball
2 Energy Loto
2 Rescue Stretcher
2 Bursting Balloon

4 Double Colourless Energy
4 Electric Energy

The StrategyTapu Koko

You always want to open with Tapu Koko to start spreading the love. I choose to go second to start doing damage as quickly as possible. A couple of turns of Tapu Koko putting 20 damage on everything and it stacks up! You’re going to have to sacrifice a Tapu Koko or two before your Honchkrows can start OHKOing everything. However, as they are only worth one prize to the opponent that’s ok! Going two prizes down is not really a problem for this deck. But three prizes down and things start looking iffy, so be careful.

I keep a couple of cards on the side that I can switch in and out before events depending on how I want the deck to play. Trainers Mail can help the deck run smoothly (-2 Bursting Balloon), Choice Band is an obvious, well, choice (-2 Bursting Balloon), and the addition of Drampa-GX (GRI) can be a great two of (once again probably -2 Bursting Balloon).

The only trouble with Drampa is that whilst you’re hitting with him you’re not pulling off your main strategy of spreading damage. To counter that, I’d definitely be running two Choice Band so that he can start trying to take 1HKOs for me (-1 Teammates, -1 Hex Maniac) and possibly a Professor Kukui (-1 Shaymin-EX as with two Lele this isn’t suicide anymore). This of course starts to make major changes to the deck, so it’s not a strategy that I employ often as it hurts the consistency.

Individual Card Choices

There are a few choices in here that I’m sure will raise some people’s eyebrows. Let’s take a look at a couple:

Hex Maniac

I choose to run two copies of this for the main reason that Krows can function absolutely fine without Abilities. I actually came close to adding Garbotoxin Garbodor in to the deck for this reason. However, I felt that the addition of six new cards (two Trubbish, two Garb, two Float Stone at least) would damage the consistency too much. But there are a lot of decks out there that rely on their Abilities. So, I chose two Hex Maniac. This increases the chance of drawing one. It also makes sure that if one was prized it wouldn’t be a problem. A timely Hex Maniac can swing entire matches, so I felt that it was definitely worth the extra space!

Energy Loto

There was one huge problem I had when I started trying to build Krows. Both getting set up and recovering after being KOd was not a guarantee. Finding the Murkrow/Honchkrow was easy enough with the Supporters and Items that are designed for just that, but finding the DCEs proved difficult. The only real card we have to find Special Energy at the moment is Energy Loto. I’ve found that running two of this card has really boosted my ability to set up. It’s just a no brainer in a deck that relies on its DCEs!


Like Hex Maniac, I run two copies of Teammates. One would probably be sufficient, but I’ve found that being able to guarantee Teammates is just too powerful. When one Honchkrow goes down, you Teammates to make sure you have at least one more set up. So, to mitigate the risks of prizing one Teammates and to increase the chances of drawing it, I run two. YMMV.

Bursting Balloon

I hope that the reason for running this card is obvious. Should the opponent hit into it, they take 60 damage thereby increasing your overall damage count. Should they Field Blower it away, that’s a Field Blower that isn’t taking out your Stadium later on. In an ideal world I’d be running four of these suckers and maybe an Eco Arm to pull them back for extra annoyance factor. However, I just couldn’t find the space. Still, I find two is enough to bring your opponent up short and hopefully pepper some more damage across the board.

Brock’s Grit

I’ve really ummed and ahhed over this one. Originally, Brock was actually Karen (make of that what you will) to counter Vespiquen and get rescue all the discarded Pokémon at once. In the end I went with Brock as I feel that right now, Drampa-GXs Righteous Edge is a bigger threat to this deck – or at least one I’m more likely to face – and so I needed a way to recycle those precious four Electric Energy along with choosing which Pokémon get returned to the deck.

Tapu Koko

As the card you want to start with, conventional wisdom says that you should run four copies of it to maximize drawing potential at the beginning of the game. Maybe this is me showing why I’m not a top player, but I find three to be just enough to pretty much always start with it and gives a slot for something else.


So one of the reasons that this deck isn’t Tier 1 is its matchups. I love this deck, but it is still a BDIF deck. Here is how it does against some of the matchups we’ve tested:

Vespiquen: Favourable

You can tell I started writing this just after Michael Pramawat won Madison Regionals with his Vespiquen deck. Bees is always a tough deck, though it hasn’t featured as much in the meta recently. However, we have a few things going for us here – Vespiquen prefers to face 2 Prize attackers and our main attackers are all worth 1 Prize. Vespiquen is a relatively low HP attacker, so we only really need 1 round of Tapu Koko to start OHKOing them. And even if they run Mind Jack Zoroark, our deck doesn’t often run at a full bench and often only has Tapu Lele and 2 back up Krows on it, making it a 2HKO to our 1HKO. Overall, Vespiquen is an OK match up for Honchkrow/Tapu Koko.

Gyarados: Favourable to Autowin

People who play Gyarados do not like this deck. Gyarados relies on keeping their 30HP Magikarp damaged but alive on the Bench, and between Team Magma’s Secret Base and Tapu Koko, we can eat them alive every turn. Their main attacker is also weak to electric, so they’ll be taking 40 damage in the Active spot from a Tapu Koko. We’re also running electric energy so that if necessary we can power up a Tapu Koko to hit Gyarados for weakness doing 200 damage. Overall, Tapu Koko can pretty much handle this deck by himself, and will often win because the opponent simply has no more Pokémon to play. A fun tech if you think you’ll be facing a lot of Gyarados decks is Wide Lens from Roaring Skies, assuring that you’ll be hitting Benched Magikarp, Gyarados and any Shaymin-EXs for 40 damage each instead of 20.

Garbodor: 50/50 to unfavourable

Garbodor is  difficult one. This deck is running at least an average number of items if not above average, and Honchkrow is a relatively low HP attacker in this format, making it an easy KO for Garbodor. However, Garbodor’s HP is also relatively low at 120HP making it an easy return KO for Krows. Drampa/Garb players do help us out by running Team Magma’s Secret Base and/or Rainbow Energy to up our damage count for us. In the end this matchup probably comes down to who can KO first and who can stream attackers the best. I’d be tempted to say Garbodor has the upper hand as with each KO our damage count goes down and Garbodor also usually runs Drampa-GX whose Righteous Edge can be a real problem for us – though that is exactly why we run three Special Charges and four Electric Energy.

Decidueye: Unfavorable

There are several variants of Decidueye. I’ve found that Vileplume is a nuisance to Krows, but the deck can cope without items. It’ll be slower, and if I think I’ll be facing lots of item lock I’ll boost the Tapu Lele and Shaymin counts. But the real problem for Krows is Decidueye itself. With two feather arrows and a Leaf Blade they can take the OHKO. They’re 250HP means that it is extremely hard to get the 1HKO in return. The two copies of Hex Maniac really help here, but unless you plan to chain Hex, there’s only so much they can do.


All in all, Honchkrow is a super fun deck to play and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. You won’t win all your matches but you’ll do well enough to really make an impact. Given its matchups I think this deck is probably a Bad Deck Idea Friday but you never know!