Trainer – 41
4 Professor Sycamore BKP 107
1 N FCO 105
1 Ghetsis PLF 101
1 Delinquent BKP 98
1 Guzma BUS 115
1 Team Flare Grunt GEN 73
1 Team Skull Grunt SUM 133
1 Gladion CIN 95
4 Trainer’s Mail ROS 92
4 Ultra Ball SUM 135
3 VS Seeker PHF 109
3 Puzzle of Time BKP 109
2 Trick Shovel FLF 98
2 Enhanced Hammer GRI 124
2 Crushing Hammer SUM 115
1 Super Rod BKT 149
1 Battle Compressor PHF 92
1 Counter Catcher CIN 91
1 Field Blower GRI 125
1 Red Card GEN 71
3 Float Stone BKT 137
1 Life Dew PLF 107
1 Parallel City BKT 145
Energy – 6
3 Blend Energy GRPD DRX 117
3 Darkness Energy 7
At least I know what my ‘pimped out’ Sableye deck is going to look like, there’s nothing we haven’t seen before but this list certainly looks more flexible with multiple outs when it comes to things like bad prizing. Although I have yet to watch the streams I will be very interested to take this to a local League Challenge and see how well I can do with it!
Originally this was supposed to be a write up of 2 different Expanded League Challenges (Southampton & Bournemouth) however due to family commitments I wasn’t able to make either of them. So instead I’m going to give a quick run down of Standard vs Expanded and which might be best for your community.
A disclaimer: I’m not that worried what format is played per se, I’ve got 2 copies of most relevant ACE Spec. cards and can field most meta-relevant decks in each format. So it’s not a case of ‘waagh no cards’!
Standard & Expanded
Since 2014 the Expanded format has been from Black & White onwards which covers a fair range of cards including the infamous ACE Spec. cards. Any given newly released set might only have a couple of cards relevant to Expanded, cards which are sometimes ‘unusable’ in Standard format can find life in an expanded deck.
Standard, by contrast to Expanded, rotates about 4 sets every year – I would imagine by August 2018 that we’ll jump to Sun & Moon (SM1) onwards. Additionally each new set tends to shake up the metagame significantly, although not all sets are created equally. Guardians Rising’s Tapu Lele-GX significantly shook up things as did Gardevoir. Buzzwole from Crimson Invasion is possibly the only relevant Pokémon in the set!
Our local league is Expanded format. The reasoning given is that it allows for more variety of deck and a wider range of cards to be played. Supposedly this makes it easier for new players to play. However most of the people who turn up don’t have meta-relevant decks anyway and those that do tend to be geared towards Standard format. Those who do bring really old cards are still told that they can’t play them. Additionally newer players will not have bought any non-Standard cards so now in order to compete they need to search for things like VS Seekers, Battle Compressors, Blacksmith, Dark Patch or whatever makes their deck work. Most do not have these.
The store that hosts the league also sells Standard format cards, with the exception of Zoroark-GX boxes, nothing is massively relevant to the expanded format. While the current top Expanded decks have many similarities to Standard meta decks (namely the Pokémon) the supporters and trainers are usually quite niche and not available in store.
Accordingly, I don’t think that expanded is actually more accessible for newer players. Most new players only have more recent cards and then they have to start looking to get ACE Specs, VS Seeker, Blacksmith, Dark Patch or whatever is needed to make a viable deck. Most of our players do not have these except the competitive people who only turn up to events.
Additionally the shop that hosts us doesn’t have cards for Expanded, only standard so it hits their sales since if I was a Expanded only player there’s very little I need so am less likely to buy cards. Essentially we’re selling them Standard cards but supporting an Expanded format.
As well as this, the expanded metagame doesn’t change as much as standard (which may or may not be a good thing depending on a person’s view) whereas standard is shaken up by each new set. So while I like Expanded since it allows for more crazy decks, it also is less accessible at a competitive level for newbies.
Add to this decks like Seismitoad or Trevenant which lock down items and it can lead to a less than fun experience for players. These decks can seriously lock down your opponent while you slowly chip away at their Pokémon (and will to live!). All in all not a fun experience for newbies. Additionally a lot of expanded decks are so well developed in the meta that there are distinctive counter-tech/hate options available that can totally destroy a deck.
Case in point one week before a League Challenge last year I rocked up with Night March and obliterated every opponent I played, only to bring Volcanion for the actual event because I knew everyone would then hard-tech hate against Night March. Also it wasn’t fun for my opponents to play against Night March because it outclassed most of the decks quite dramatically.
Hopefully that’s given some food for thought, sorry that it’s not the cutting edge analysis that you’re used to here! While I like expanded, it’s hard to break into for a lot of people and the format is a lot more brutal when you have things like Siesmitoad, Trevenant and so on. Additionally the Expanded metagame as of today is extremely similar to Standard (Zoroark, Zoropod and BuzzRoc) which defeats the argument of a more diverse meta!
Don’t get me wrong, a bit of expanded is good to shake things up – it’s faster, has a more high stakes and intense style of game with more kooky techs and plays available. However for newbies the better balanced, more accessible and affordable Standard format is the option I’d be pushing to grow a community.
On Saturday 2nd December I attended our local Pokémon League Challenge held at Nerdworld, Southampton. The last time I played expanded I ran Volcanion/Turtonator and it went quite well.
This time I was equipped with a Night March list that won at San Jose the previous weekend. I choose it since I was used to playing it before I switched to volcanion, but now with Zoroark-GX it seemed unbeatable!
The field seemed relatively diverse with some casual decks as well as a pair of Lycanroc/Zoroark, another Nightmarch (2 Marshadow, Computer Search) , a couple of Solgaleo/Metagross and
There were 4 Rounds of Swiss, best of one, and I’ll try to give blow by blow coverage of each:
Round 1 -Ryan- Solgaleo/Metagross
The first round to the League Challenge started promptly and I was facing off against Ryan who is relatively new to Pokémon but not to TCGs in general. As the game progressed it emerged that he was playing Solgaleo-GX and Metagross-GX with Shaymin-EX and Magerna-EX as support. Not exactly meta, but no cake-walk either.
I had a start with only 1 basic (Joltik) and a bad hand, so in the back of my mind I was worried that my deck might brick and I’d get donked. With a best of 1 there would be no recovery. However the sheer draw power of Night March from 3 Shaymin-EX meant that I managed to set up.
Ryan played well and was able to take out a couple of my attackers. I was worried about the sheer volume of Hitpoints that his Stage 2 Pokémon had and worried that I’d need to 2 Hit KO (2HKO). A sneaky Kartana also Sliced Off one of my Double Colourless Energys. Thankfully I was able to use Lysandre and Guzma to pick on his Shaymins, Metangs and finally the Kartana to secure the win.
Round 2 -Rachel- Lunala-GX
In round 2 I shimmied up to the adjacent table to face Rachel who is a regular at our league. She was running a Psychic based Lunala-GX deck for this League Challenge.
Rachel started with a Cosmog and another on the bench and was about to bench a Tapu-Lele but I pointed out that the Wonder Tag wouldn’t work unless it was played from her hand, so she held it back to try and get a supporter. Unfortunately her only Brigette was prized so she didn’t manage to get set up as rapidly as she might otherwise have. That said throughout the game Rachel made good use of my Dimension Valley to get more draw support out of the little Cosmogs without the need for energy attachments.
I was able to set up rapidly and proceeded to one-hit KO her un-evolved Cosmogs. I did feel bad at one point for top-decking an N which got rid of a Rare Candy that she had used Skyla to find. I proceeded to KO Pokémon only taking a bit of damage from a Stuffle and losing one nightmarcher to a Tapu-Lele’s Energy Drive which was KO-ed in return to secure a win.
Round 3 -Liton- Lycanroc/Zoroark/Buzzwole
Game 3 was against one of our stronger local players. Liton was running Lycanroc-GX with Zoroark-GX and the Stand In Zoroark too. I knew this game would be tough as the Zoroarks’ Trade ability provide excellent draw support and Lycanroc has type advantage over Zoroark. This combined with the Bloodthirsty Eyes ability makes it a fearsome thing to face off against.
Liton won the dice flip/roll and chose to go first which was fine by me as I was hoping to take a Turn 1 KO if possible. He started with a Buzzwole-GX and I started with a Joltik but soon benched a Pumpkaboo who has type advantage against the Buzzwole. I took a risk to play my DCE onto the Pumkaboo and then tried to get a find my Float Stone in order to take the KO on the Buzzwole due to weakness.
However despite how far I fished into my deck I couldn’t find my floatstone, nor get the Night March count up to enough to allow the Joltik to take out the Buzzwole in one hit. I eventually took it down in 2 hits but that was basically the deciding factor in the game right there. After getting a search off, I realised that my Marshadow and Float Stone were both in prizes which made it difficult.
The match came down to a Bloodthirsty Eyes pulling in some of my weaker components (Shaymin-EX) and Litons’ Zoroark trying to take the knock out. Enhanced Hammers also made my life generally difficult. However despite almost running my deck dry and then drawing until there were only 2 cards left I couldn’t pull ahead and only had one prize left by the time Liton took the victory.
I found that my very last prize was the Float Stone that I needed so there was literally no chance of seeing it in game. This is where the best of 1 format really gutted me. If I didn’t take the risk to fish for the turn 1 KO with Pumpkaboo I would have been that 1 turn ahead on tempo and would have won- just. If I’d had found the float stone I could have 1 hit KOed and been 2 turns ahead. However thems the breaks and while the 30 minute best of 1 format is fast, I much prefer best of 3.
Round 4 – Andrew- Lurantis/Golisopod
The final round was against Andrew, another of our regulars to the Pokémon League. Running a bespoke Lurantis-GX and Golisopod list that was keenly off meta. Unfortunately for Andrew he didn’t manage to get a Lurantis-GX out in time and my bigger numbers meant that I could take OHKO on his Golisopods – even with their Armor ability.
By consistently applying the pressure and exploiting the massive draw power in the deck I was able to eventually KO all of his Pokémon for a win before he could get established.
League Challenge Summary
The result was that I came 4th due to resistance – having faced some relatively ‘soft’ opponents meant that my resistance was quite low – 50%. I really needed to win game 3 and due to Swiss system’s random nature it meant that without a perfect record I had no chance of winning or coming in the top 3. I really would have preferred another round or even just best of 3 which would mean less fluctuation due to sucky prizes or whatever!
The best of 1 meant that some of the 1-counts came up short due to prizing and in game 3 that really hurt. Had I know that it was best of 1 I would have made some different tweaks to the list before hand to improve consistency like I did for the GvC tournament.
I was thankful not to face a single Trevenant since it can really shut down Nightmarch and stop it from getting off the ground. With all of the Zoroarks around though it is a bad play so that checking makes my life easier.
This was a relatively well run event with approx 17 players (14 masters) and the winners got a Ho-Oh-GX tin each with 4 boosters for 2nd and 2 for 3rd place. I got a 4th place Regigigas promo to live in my folder. (See right, English not Japanese!)
Overall I was happy with my performance but was disappointed in the resistance tie breakers. (3 others were 3-1-0) so another round would have been good since you cannot affect how good or bad your opponents perform. Additionally the best of 1 format really hurt me in game 3. None of my games went to time so I think that by adding 20 minutes and having a best of 3 the tournament might give the feeling of a better outcome.
That of course is not to say that the winner, Craig, didn’t deserve it! He too was playing Night March but with 2 Marshadow-GX and a Computer Search. I know he had tough games. Additionally fellow #TeamOddish member Ace Trainer Sarah had 4 tough games so deservedly came 3rd due to resistance.
Overall I had a relatively easy ride in 3 out 4 of my games since none of those opponents were playing tough decks, but it felt like I lost the only game that mattered and mostly due to poor prizing which didn’t help!
Our next event is a Pre-Release (hoping to help Judge) and an Expanded League Challenge in January, before a Standard Format League Cup in Feb for which I think the next block (Ultra Prism) might just be legal.
Since I’m still at max non-cup CP for this quarter I can afford to bring a less serious deck and might try and reform my little Sableye troll/mill deck.
On Saturday 7th October Cat & I went to our first league challenge. We’d previously been to a League Cup in nearby Portsmouth. Although I placed mid-ranking (3/2/0) with Metagross-GX it wasn’t a strong showing. However I learned a lot from that in terms of how tournaments actually run in terms of timing and organisation. The 2 main things lessons learned from this were;
#1 – Make sure your opponent is aware that they have hit time and are on turn 0/3 – because if only you know then it’s not time (apparently). I couldn’t read my opponents mind to know that they didn’t know, so you have to verbally confirm basically.
#2 – Even if it hits time, don’t rush because it isn’t over. In the same game we missed resistance from my Metagross-GX on damage from Necrozma-GX so it should have survived and the game be a tie. Although it should have been over a turn earlier and thus a loss and thus a matchup to Volcanion and thus a 2nd loss… and so on and so forth!
Secret Lesson #3 – Don’t ruminate. Yeah I screwed up badly in terms of missing the resistance, (so did my opponent) but the key is to remember it, learn it and move on rather than letting it fester.
Thankfully these lessons were implemented in the slightly smaller (16 adults, 2 kids) local League Challenge. I had been playtesting Night Marshadow with success except via Trevenant. Online anything with Karen proved difficult too. Although if they hadn’t those cards it was an almost guaranteed win, if they did have them and played sensibly that went down to maybe a 20% win rate. With both Karen and Oricorio (sensu) being popular and literally only needing to be a 1-of in a deck I reconsidered and went for ‘Toto & The Blacksmiths’. It sounds like a bad band from the 70s but is basically Volcanion/Turtonator. (Turtonator-GX being the eponymous ‘Toto’)
League Challenge Deck
Round 1 – Andrew – GolisopodGX+Lurantis
Unfortunately Andrew had prized 2/3 DCE and was universally weak to me. I accelerated rapidly with Kiawe and began to power through his grass Pokémon until he ran out after I had taken 3 prizes. He did try to put my main Pokémon to sleep to buy some time but I woke up and burned through to round 2
Round 2 – Litten – GolisopodGX+Garbodor
My opponent was convinced that I was running Night March so when I flipped over a Volcanion-EX it was a surprise. There was a little horse trading and we came quite close on prizes. I had a stuck Volcanion-EX who was unable to attack next turn but by Lysandre-ing my Shaymin-EX for 2 easy prizes it meant I could promote my powered up Turtonator-GX and Bright Flare to victory.
Round 3 – Cat – Trevenant (Forest’s Curse)
Not being fans of IDing we proceeded with the game despite playing each other a lot! (You can read about Cat’s deck in this article) Cat started strong and proceeded to evolve to Trevenant to item lock me and overall had a strong start. We had a couple of turns where I could only Shell Trap and accumulate useless items in my hand! However I managed to pull back before Necromza-GX hit the field with a Prof. Sycamore discarding an 8 card hand of mostly useless items. Turtonator-GX managed to Bright Flare away one Trevenant BREAK after another until I had won. Unfortunately for Cat her hand stalled out and my deck managed to pull out ahead once I hit the draw supporter.
Special mention must be made to Rob who loaned us a Trevenant on the day. We only had 3, my attempts to procure one resulted in ‘Trumbork‘ (a German language Trevenant) which we were told (incorrectly) was not valid for play so Cat was looking at a sub-optimal deck for the day. This was made extra frustrating once we found out that any EU language cards (French, Spanish, German etc) were to be allowed!
My opponent won the flip and we knew that we had 90% similar decks (I had 2 Shaymin-EX and Acerolla, he had 1 Shaymin-EX, 1 Tauros-GX and no Acerolla)
He opted to go first and setup with Kiawe for 4 energy onto a Volcanion-EX. I managed to Ultra Ball dropping 2 energy and then using Blacksmith to attach them onto my Volcanion-EX for the knockout. There was a bit of horse trading and I had injured his Tapu Lele-GX for 100 damage with baby Volcanion. At one point my hand of Blacksmith and energy was N-ed away but each exchange was carefully measured. There was a benched Tauros-GX waiting to sweep in late game so I had to be careful and soon we were down to 2 prizes each.
I was trying not to give my hand away by pokerfacing until my opponent had taken his turn as once again sitting on Blacksmith and energy meant that I was in a strong position to pull ahead. It felt as though there were many parts to a puzzle and I had sufficient resources to solve it once I had figured it out. Of course I knew my opponent was thinking the same thing!
However I managed to VS Seeker to retrieve Guzma to pull in the Tapu Lele-GX and swap my Volcanion-EX who had attacked in the previous turn (meaning he couldn’t attack again this turn) for my Shaymin-EX who rapidly retreated to reset the Volcanic Heat on Volcanion-EX to hit again for weakness and KO. I also had a Ho-Oh-GX who I was thinking about using to snipe away at his injured Lele but as it was 110/170 I would have had to have attacked twice which probably would have been a turn too late. Thankfully getting the VS Seeker enabled me to close the game for a 4-0-0 victory!
Wrapping Up the League Challenge
Less fortunate were the pulls from the Tsareena-GX box that I won! Do’h! Still I got delicious delicious victory points* and some semi-useful stuff including a Raichu-BREAK and a Heavy Ball. More importantly were the trades and
Not bad for my 2nd ever Pokémon event!
Just for full disclosure I have played other CCGs including Magic: the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh but never at a serious level. I have played some MTG pre-release and FNM style events but again never did very well because I tended to use decks I wanted rather than good meta calls.
Similarly having an amazingly supportive partner (and worthy opponent!) also helps. Finally being part of a community where people support and are for each other is amazing. Case in point; Rob had played me once before (he was the fire player that stomped my Metagross-GX at the last Po Town Cup event!) and happily offered to loan us the Trevenant for the duration which made Cat’s day a lot better! I find that I have made more friends from Pokémon than other CCGs which seemed more combative by comparison – but that’s a rant for another day!
*deliciousness may vary on your tastes
Consistency is key! There was a point in game 2 where my 2nd Shaymin-EX was prized and it was what I was Ultra Ball-ing for. Similarly in game 3 I needed a Tapu Lele-GX to get Blacksmith and I almost didn’t find the ‘Lele (it was on top of my deck!) Ideally I’d have a 2nd Tapu Lele-GX if I had the space but fortunately it wasn’t prized in a single game. Thankfully only in 2 games was one of my Shaymin-EX prized but I drew them early on and so it wasn’t a massive issue in the grand scheme of things.
Patience – Pokémon is odd in that it expects you to do things almost continuously. I prefer to take an extra 30 seconds or a minute to think about everything I’m going to do and then do it all at once. I find it frustrating in the online version when the timer ticks down despite me having lots of time in my timer! It expects you to do things one after the other quite rapidly.
If someone starts pressuring me then I loose my train of thought, have to tell them that they’ve interrupted me and that I just need a minute to think. Most people are OK as long as you don’t exploit it to stall the clock. In real life Pokémon you can take a little bit more time than online to plan out your moves and consider the options and then do things quickly.
Online is often slower since there’s clicking and animations and stuff, although it’s quicker for things like shuffling and damage calculations. So some and some!
Sportsmanship – all of my opponents were brilliant and friendly. The last game, while tense (purely in terms of the thinking!) at times, was also marked by periods of calm too. We gave each other the time and space to think so that we played our best game possible which was simply brilliant.
The spectators were interesting too as some were about to clearly discuss tactics or strategies which of course isn’t allowed within proximity to the game. Maybe I’m paranoid, but if being watched from behind I tend to play with my hand of cards almost horizontally so that no-one can see my cards and accidently (or otherwise) give away what I have or am about to do. I’m sure it didn’t matter but it made me feel better!
I know often that spectators comments are motivated by the desire to help but unfortunately it disrupts the game and is against the rules. That being said I know that our judge was vigilant about ensuring there was no coaching! (Not that any of my opponents needed help, they were formidable by themselves!)
Next Friday (13th Oct) sees another League Challenge in the Standard format in Portsmouth (aka Po Town). I am unsure weather to go strong or bring a more ‘rogue deck’ for the experience. At the moment I’m thinking that if I’m going to go the effort of getting a lift from a friend to get there I should probably bring my A-game and so may try and take a Standard variant of this deck. Watch this space!
First up a disclaimer: Expanded Trevenant is a nasty nasty deck. It won’t make you friends – You have been warned!
Trevenant is a control deck. It aims to lock down your opponent via the Forest’s Curse ability and then spread damage around via Silent Fear. It can then finish with Necrozma-GX or simply by using Tree Slam.
The core of this deck are; Phantump, Dimension Valley and of course the XY Trevenant with Forest’s Curse ability.
Phantump – the underrated king of the deck. With Dimension Valley it can ‘attack’ for free and this allows you to search out and evolve into Forest’s CurseTrevenant, activating the item lock. If you go second you will attack with it, but if you go first you’re going to have to try and get a Wally (possibly via Ultra Ball + Tapu Lele-GX) in order to have it evolved before your opponent has a turn!
Dimension Valley – Energy is at a minimum in this decks (as always in expanded) so the ability to reduce your attack costs by 1 is quite strong. This enables a Phantump to use ascension without an attachment and enables Trevenant BREAK to use the Silent Fear attack with only 1 energy attached – a bargain!
Forest’s CurseTrevenant – you’re playing this 90% of the time to lock out your opponents ability to play items. Unlike similar lockdown abilities it doesn’t affect you, so you can play items but your opponent cannot. Additionally unlike Seismitoador Giratina-EX you don’t have to hit with an attack in order to put the clamps on your opponent. Ideally you’ll get this up and running in your first turn in order to slow down your opponent.
The deck rounds out with Trevenant BREAK, Necrozma-GX and energy denial in the form of 2 Team Flare Grunts and 2 Enhanced Hammers.
Trevenant BREAK – as well as adding some Hitpoints, the attack ‘Silent Fear‘ is extremely powerful – 30 damage on all opponents Pokémon for only 1 energy with Dimension Valley – Bargain!
In a low energy format, knocking off the energy in addition to denying items can extremely hinder your opponents deck’s ability to function. As mentioned in the beginning – this is a nasty nasty deck!
Necrozma-GX is there for it’s ability to do 100 damage to all EX/GX for only 2 energy. This can enable you to essentially snipe off Tapu Lele-GXs, Shaymin-EXs etc after a couple of Silent Fears. It synergises perfectly with the energy type and Trevenant’s attacks so it’s worth the include.
As always your mileage may vary, and there are some tweaks that you may like to make. Those with a bigger budget could replace Jirachi-EX and/or Shaymin-EX with Tapu Lele-GXs. There are also arguments for either Lysandre or Guzma or both.
Drawing everything together we end up with this potent decklist:
Now that several regional events are in the Expanded Format, the format is growing and gaining in popularity. Our local League has always been in Expanded Format as it allows a wider variety of deck to be used. Additionally since the ‘Nightmarsh’ deck doesn’t utilise Tapu Lele-GX it is extremely affordable and competitive at the same time!
Expanded Format allows anything from Black & White set (circa 2011 onwards) to be used with the exception of a short banlist. From a competitive viewpoint there are a variety of ‘viable’ decks in Expanded, and even more with the latest Sun & Moon block. Play tends to be faster and EX Pokémon are featured heavily being basis of several strong decks, although there are an equal number which do not rely on such Pokémon
This post has a short overview of some Expanded deck archetypes – although we’re going to look at the winning deck from the latest US Expanded regional (Fort Wayne) and then a re-hash of 2 expanded deck archetypes combined into one!
Night March / Marshadow aka ‘Nightmarsh’
Nightmarsh is similar to the typical Night March decks that dominated Standard Format in 2015-16. In Worlds that year it was defeated by the mighty Audino-EX but that is another story!
Put simply Night March is an attack that gets more powerful depending on the number of Pokémon with the ‘Night March’ attack in your discard pile. Decks focus on having one or two attackers (usually Joltik or a Mew) and put the rest of the Night Marchers into the discard pile. This enables them to have a high damage attack for a low energy cost.
It is similar to Vespiquen/Flareon decks (aka ‘Bees’) although the main attacker is usually much more fragile. Joltik has 30HP, Mew a mere 50HP – The solution to this is Marshadow-GX!
Marshadow-GX is a Fighting type Pokémon that can copy any basic attack from a Pokémon in the discard pile via its ability ‘Shadow Hunt’. This synergises with Night March Pokémon as you want them to be in the discard pile. Voila instant improvement of the deck!
Here is a sample decklist:
Puzzle of Time
Computer Search/Dowsing Machine
Fighting Fury Belt
Double Colourless Energy
The most difficult components to acquire is the Computer Search or Dowsing Machine – these are ‘Ace Spec.’ meaning you can only have one or the other in your deck. They are relatively expensive but thankfully you can only have, and so ever only need, one! Shaymin-Ex has dropped in price since it’s not in the Standard Format any more. In this deck it works to draw you cards. You need to be able to keep drawing since you have to discard so much out of your deck with Battle Compressor.
The Charizard Lounge has a great article on how to run this deck with a very similar list to the above and also the winning Fort Wayne Regional list. It is a high skill level deck because you need to fine-tune the amount of Pokémon in your discard pile (and therefore your damage output) with your need for Pokémon on the bench to be able to attack with.
Raikou/Eels + Seismitoad-EX
This is my secret love-child of a deck. It combines the offensive might of Raikou powered by DynamotorEelektrik with the item-lock abilities of everyone’s second favorite frog*
(…but Seismitoad is a toad not a frog.. hmm…)
Raikou/Eels is an existing archetype that basically involves using Eelektrik to rapidly accelerate energy onto an efficient recipient, namely Raikou.
Raikou is a great Pokémon, especially when equipped with a Fighting Fury Belt. It also resists all damage when it has at least one Lighting Energy attached. It’s attack scales with the amount of energy attached so it can hit for high numbers and only concedes one prize when KOed.
To add to the mix, Rough Seas will heal 30 damage every turn. For example if you’re attacked for 60 damage, you will take 40 since Shining Body will resist 20 damage, and then with Rough Seas you can heal 30 – meaning that of your 160HP (120HP base + 40HP Fighting Fury Belt) – you’ve only taken 10 damage!
The deck usually runs DCE to accelerate in addition to Max Elixirs so Seismitoad-EX can benefit from these. Although both Eelektrik and Raikou are Lightning types, nothing about the Dynamotor ability states that the recipient must be Lightning type. This means that you can power up Seismitoad-EX just as easily as Raikou.
The item lock of Seismitoad-EX combined with Rough Seas gives him some durability while giving you a little time to ramp up your energy and then go for knockouts with Raikou.
Raikou BKT 55
Tynamo NVI 38
Eelektrik NVI 40
Keldeo-EX BCR 49
Seismitoad-EX FFI 20
Fighting Fury Belt BKP 99
Rough Seas PRC 137
Double Colorless Energy
As you can see this deck has quite a bit going on including a Keldeo-EX/Floatstone combo to help switch out a redundant ‘toad or Raikou. It is an extremely fun deck to play, and aside from the Tapu Lele-GX also quite affordable. While not as dynamic as Nightmarsh, it can provide a great challenge to top tier decks. It also is well positioned to counter Yveltal decks and emerging Ho-Oh-GX decks.
If you’re thinking about getting into the Expanded Format it’s never been easier. The banlist in Pokémon TCG is mercifully short and there’s lots of people around to play against. Let us know if you have tried any of these decks. Until next time, keep being the very best – like no one ever was!
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.
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.
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.
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:
As discussed recently, only one card, Shiftry was banned in the Expanded format of Pokémon TCG.
However as of 18th August 2017Forest of Giant Plants and Archeops will be banned from Expanded while Shiftry will be unbanned.
Unlike many other TCGs this is not common. Pokémon tends to be quite well playtested, resulting in very few bans. Why print a card if you’re just going to render it obsolete? In the example of Shiftry it was banned before it was legal to play – it was a massive exception as stated by TCPI:
No cards were banned from the Standard format. It will be an extremely rare occurrence for cards to be banned from the Standard format.
Another recent, banned card was ‘Lysandres Trump Card’ which could have lead to infinite game length and so was banned. Again the theme of what’s best for the game seems to shine through in the reasoning. Long may it continue!
What this means – Banlists?
However, this recent announcement of a bigger banlist, even if it only adds of a pair of cards, is a huge step for the Pokémon TCG!
This means that in future Pokémon TCG may have other banned cards depending on the type of the decks played. Key points include preventing Turn 1 or Turn 0 wins/knockouts before your opponent has had a chance to play anything. This seems reasonable and keeps the expanded format mature. Interestingly Sableye with Life Dew and Puzzles of Time is still fine!
Why these cards?
Forest of Giant Plants [XY Ancient Origins 74/98]
– This is probably the most ‘controversial’ in that the effects are numerous and widespread. Forest of Giant Plants enables rapid evolution of grass type Pokémon. This facilitated Stage 2 Pokémon to be played on turn 1. While facing a Turn 1 Venusaur might not be ideal, Pokémon like Vilplume could item lock you. Alternatively a bench full of Decidueye-GX could easily snipe you off the table.
The effect of this ban are immediately obvious – many grass decks, or decks that had a large grass component, will be nerfed. Decidueye-GX/Vileplume, Lurantis-GX/Vileplume, Seismitoad-EX/Vileplume – in fact most Vileplume!
In this instance it wasn’t the actual card itself, but the strategies which it facilitated that led to it being banned.
Archeops [BW Noble Victories 67/101] – Again nothing exists in a vacuum. Archeops was often combined with Maxies Hidden Ball Trick. This card enabled Archops, or indeed any Fighting Pokémon to be reliably played from the discard pile. Generally Gallade and Archeops were chosen for their abilities. (And Gallade has a decent attack too!)
Archeop’s Ancient Power Ability stopped evolving. Outside of Evosoda or Wally type effects, neither player could evolve. This could easily stop several decks (including those relying on Forest of Giant Plans!) dead in their tracks. While the Maxie+Archeops trick relies on several cards (E.G. Battle Compressor to put the Archeops in the discard pile) it seemed that the most direct route was to ban Archeops itself. Several other strategies (Dark Patch, Dowsing Machine, Bees, Night March) rely on Battle Compressor so that would’ve been a bad choice and Maxies’ isn’t overpowered by itself. Unfortunately for our favorite fossilized bird, the easiest thing was to ban it! I’m sure it’s time will come around again however.
It’s tournament season for Pokémon, Guardians Rising (GUR) has only recently been released and everyone is waiting to see what impact it has on the state of the game. The key card clearly has been Tapu Lele-GX [Wonder Tag] with others such as Drampa-GX and Garbodor [Trashalanche] making massive impacts.
The clear winner is Tapu Lele seeing multiple copies played in almost every successful deck – The winner ran 4! The change of the Standard game to a more slower, slightly less consistent format is clearly seen.
Less clear however, is how GUR has effected Expanded – there have not been any major Expanded tournaments and Liverpool 2018 and Worlds 2017 will be in the Standard format just after Burning Shadows has released.
Expanded consists of the Black & White series onwards, it has not rotated any already legal sets as of the 2017/8 rotation announcement although we are waiting for any clarifications, with rumours of a new banlist. Unlike standard nothing has been invalidated yet. At present the only banned card is Shiftry due to the Turn 1 Giant Fan ‘donk’. This was a consistent way to win before you opponent had a turn! Not fun!
Online we’re seeing many of the same decks – Bees, Nightmarch, Maxie’s Yveltal, Turbo Darkrai, Zygarde/Cabink and even a smidgen of my beloved Sableye. At present many capable decks are in testing. These tend to be quite powerful standard decks too – Tapu Bulu for example, just made better for Expanded.
Staple format cards such as Colress, Ghetsis, Battle Compressor and others can essentially ‘expand’ a standard deck. Generally these cards make a deck faster or more consistent. We will have to wait and see what news the Pokémon Company International releases soon!