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Karl Peters

Do We Still Need Two Formats?

Karl examines the Expanded format and whether it's worth keeping as the game moves forward.

07/13/2016 by Karl Peters

Hey, guys, it's Karl again. This time I want to take a look at the current Expanded format and find out if there is still a need for two different formats. For this, I want to take a look at the Top 3 decks and their most important cards. After that I will show you which cards currently impact the Expanded format most. And after that I will explain which advantages the Expanded format brings with it, but also which disadvantages.

First of all let's take a look at the, in my opinion, current best decks in Expanded


Ever since we got introduced to the Expanded format, Yveltal was by far the most dominating force, winning multiple Regionals during this season and taking most top cuts overall, thanks to the following cards.

Dark Patch

Arguably one of the most broken cards we’ve ever had, it's no surprise that Dark Patch is what mainly helps this deck to be such a dominating force. The ability to attach multiple Energy onto your Yveltal-EX allows it to be a strong force against most decks. Dark Patch also opens up a lot of surprise plays with other attackers when your opponent doesn't expect you to put three or even more Energy into play in just one turn.


I don't think that we ever had a time since its release in 2012 where Darkrai-EX wasn't a part of the top three decks. At the beginning Darkrai-EX got its main strength due to its attack, but even after its attack became outdated, its Dark Cloak Ability allowed it to be part of very successful decks.

Archeops NVI

With the increase of decks like Vespiquen and Mega decks, and the combination with Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick, it was no surprise that Archeops was going to be a part of Expanded. Thankfully the build of Yveltal decks allowed a quick adaption and an easy way to include Archeops

Night March

Night March is by far the deck that gets the least amount of help from Expanded because its main strategy and resources still remain the same as in Standard. Other than consistency cards, there are only one other card the deck gains, but it’s not actually needed.


Mew-EX was the main reason why Night March became such a big deal at the end of last season, but due to recent releases it became pretty useless and I don't expect too many players to even run it anymore. Previously it was used to compensate the low HP of Joltik and Pumpkaboo, which would lead to a quick loss of important resources, mainly Double Colorless Energy. Most players solved this problem by running Milotic after the Standard rotation of Mew-EX. Players noticed that Night March seems to work perfectly fine without Mew-EX, which only got supported when Puzzle of Time was released. After the release of Puzzle of Time, Mew’s only purpose was to be a new attacker that isn't a Night March Pokémon, and therefore helps to keep attackers in play. But even this last purpose of Mew-EX got eliminated with the release of Mew in Fates Collide, complete erasing Mew-EX from relevance in Night March.


Main reason behind Seismitoad/Giratina’s success was that it combined the strength of regular Seismitoad-EX decks with another very strong attacker that helps to cover most matchups that Seismitoad previously would struggle against. So it's no surprise that the cards that Seismitoad/Giratina gains in Expanded are cards that we’ve seen in Seismitoad-EX decks ever since its release.

Hypnotoxic Laser

I feel like every player has already had a bad experience with Hypnotoxic Laser, after your opponent put you to sleep. Laser is still one of the most hated cards and for most people, it's actually the reason why they dislike Expanded. The poison on its own isn't too bad, but what makes the card so annoying is the sleep flip. It's a flip that often, especially in combination with N, can decide complete games, so it's no surprise that people dislike it.

Virbank City Gym

Virbank City Gym is the card that makes Laser so strong. I don't think that even half the players would still be using Hypnotoxic Laser if we didn't have Virbank City Gym to increase the Poison damage to 30 between turns. There are also other cards that are able to use Virbank City Gym, but most of these cards aren't seen in competitive play, such as Toxicroak-EX.

After we took a look at the cards that help the top three decks to remain so strong in Expanded, let's take a look with general cards help to change the Expanded format

Computer Search

I think everyone that has at least played one tournament in Expanded, or simply last season when Computer Search was still legal in Standard, know why this card is so strong. Being able to search your deck for any card has made Computer Search a staple card in pretty much every deck, that doesn't pull unreal amount of value out of any of the other Ace Specs. Vespiquen list used Life Dew at some points, simply to have a better shot in the mirror, Speed Darkrai lists use Dowsing Machine to often discard Darkness Energy for Dark Patch, but even these decks ran Computer Search a lot of times. So I don't think anyone will disagree with me putting Computer Search as the number one card in Expanded.


A lot of players keep complaining about bad draw Supporters, aside from N. This is mainly because we were able to enjoy formats with shuffle Supporters such as Professor Oaks New Theory and Colress. Most decks played something along a count of four Prof. Junipers and two N, aside of one Colress as a draw Supporter that doesn't shuffle your opponents hand into his or her deck. This changed when we got introduced to Sky Field, allowing Colress to draw up to 16(!) cards, which is a third of your whole deck. It was no surprise that these decks ran up to three Colress and a much lower count of N, making Colress also one of the most significant cards in Expanded.


A lot of games start with the simply play of Ultra Ball into Shaymin to draw some cards, sometimes through Hoopa, to get additional Pokémon. But even before the release of Shaymin-EX, seeing Ultra Ball in your starting hand was a really nice thing, thanks to Jirachi. Being able to search your deck for any Supporter is a very useful thing and can not only help you in the early game. Being able to search out that crucial Lysandre to get your last two prizes, or a nice N in the late game to disrupt your opponent are only a few reasons why Jirachi is such a strong cards, and often even leads to a lower Shaymin count in Expanded decks.


Keldeo is the main card that helps to keep Hypnotoxic Laser’s strength in check and also a generally very useful inclusion in most decks. Being able to freely switch your Active Pokémon once during your turn with the help of Float Stone is not something that make a specific deck a lot stronger, but it's a neat addition to most deck, especially those with heavy retreat costs. It's also very helpful in decks that have cards with effects that only work onto your Benched Pokémon, such as Bronzong, Eelektrik or Dark Patch. The release of Hoopa made it also very easy to search for Keldeo, Shaymin/Jirachi and an attacker, helping your setup a lot. It's no surprise that most players miss this card, especially because it doesn't have an annoying effect like Hypnotoxic Laser, or formerly N, which is now obviously is also legal in Standard.


Most people probably expected this card to be higher on this list, but recently Mewtwo-EX lost a lot of its popularity. Very similar to Darkrai-EX, Mewtwo has always been around ever since it was released. When it first got released it quickly became one of the strongest, but also most expensive cards in the game. When we first got access to Mewtwo the era of the so called "Mewtwo Wars" started. This term refers to the very common situation that one player would attack a Mewtwo-EX with another one, while this one would also be knocked out by a new one as well. Before Dark Explorers, every good deck used Mewtwo as its main attacker. The release of Darkrai however degraded Mewtwo-EX to a tech card, being able to still hit for very high amounts of damage, but usually inferior to Darkrai-EX. And ever since that moment, Mewtwo has remained in this techy position, mainly due to its versatile use, because X-Ball just needs two Colorless Energy, allowing Mewtwo to be played in any deck. Mewtwo-EX is still a very strong card, but compared to its beginnings, it has fallen a lot.

The biggest advantage of Expanded is the simple fact that there is a higher versatility of decks thanks to all of these additional cards and sets that we don't have in Standard. But that is also one of its biggest downsides. Due to all the different cards and decks, Expanded often get very confusing for newer players and the sets reach back to 2011, where a lot of players didn't even play. This becomes very clearly when we take a look at the prices of some of the older cards. Cards like Computer Search, which is pretty much used in all decks, cost HJVLJZ$, but even simple commons like Dark Patch have a prize around 5$, which is a lot for an uncommon card. The easiest way decrease the prizes would be reprinting them in newer sets, which also would make them available in Standard, leading to no need for an Expanded format. The next possible way would be reprinting them in a promo box, as Pokémon already tried with their Darkrai vs. Mewtwo boxes. This didn't decrease the price too much, mainly because each box only included one Dark Patch.

I don't think that there is a need for Expanded anymore. We always had a rotation in Pokémon and it's simply part of the game, similar to the banned list in Yu-Gi-Oh!. But do we really want to move into the direction of Yu-Gi-Oh!? Yu-Gi-Oh! has always been a very expensive card game and with the current state, we're not even that far from becoming one as well. $5 commons and $30 promo cards will not be exceptions and the longer we keep sets, the more expensive their cards will become. Pokémon has always been a beginner friendly game, which was the most appealing thing for most, which is why I feel like we need to get rid of 5 year old sit. I also think that it's completely fine to only rotate sets every two or three years, but keeping them for such a long time, is simply too much.


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