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Jimmy McClure

Enter Expanded- How to Take Advantage of the Large Format

It never ends, does it? It feels like Worlds was just yesterday, and now Regionals are right around the corner!

09/08/2015 by Jimmy McClure

Hello, everyone! I am Jimmy McClure, an eighteen-year-old Master from the U.S. (specifically, Virginia). This is my first article on 60cards, but not the first Pokémon article I have written. I am excited to become a member of the 60cards team and share my knowledge with the loyal readers here!



It never ends, does it? It feels like Worlds was just yesterday, and now Regionals are right around the corner! This year's events come with a twist though: the whole tournament will be expanded. This means that from Round 1, the massive card pool will come into play, as opposed to just on Day 2. This seems quite scary, but on the other hand, there is some comfort in knowing what combos work, as some of them were very successful last season. I'm going to cover two of my favorite Pokémon-EX, Yveltal and Seismitoad, in different decks with partners taking advantage of both the Expanded format, and the new set. I think the most important thing in a large format like Expanded is that you pick good decks that you are comfortable with. These are just my two favorite decks at the moment. This does not mean these are both top class decks (although I'd like to think so), but rather good decks that I prefer.

I would like to take a moment to briefly discuss the results of the recent Arena Cup. The first major tournament of a new format is always big, as it dictates where the metagame will go. I will save most of my deliberation on two of the Top 8 decks for the rest of the article, but there were some nice surprises that I enjoyed seeing make the cut.

Vespiquen variants: A card that was subject to massive hype, Vespiquen has already made its first major showing. The attack is a proven one, as Flareon PLF was a very effective deck this past season. We saw two styles of Vespiquen this past weekend: an aggressive variant, and a more control-oriented version. Vespiquen/Flareon is exactly what it sounds like: more Pokémon that can take KOs. Many Vespiquen variants have decided to include the Flareon that makes each of your Stage 1 Pokemon a Fire-type in addition to its other types, but why not just play a Fire-type Vespiquen with 10 more HP? The strategy is not the best necessarily on paper, but sometimes these are the kind of decks that are very strong. On the other hand, we have Vespiquen with Accelgor. This deck can allow you to steal games with the combination of Accelgor and Wobbuffet against Keldeo-reliant switching, while also having Vespiquen as back up. I am a huge fan of this "hybrid" concept, and I will be sure to log some games with this deck in the near future.

Night March/Archeops: The little Marchers will never leave! After a Top 4 performance at Worlds, Night March does not lose anything in the newly-incorporated Expanded format. In fact, it gains an asset in Archeops. Many Night March variants used to run Archie's Ace in the Hole with Empoleon, but when given the option between the two, Maxie might just be better. Being able to make sure that you will get your Knock Outs on unevolved Pokémon is quite strong. Unfortunately, Giratina-EX seems like a bit of a problem, as your Double Colorless Energy cannot come down, nor a Dimension Valley to replace the current Stadium in order to Night March for one Basic Energy. Despite this, it looks like the deck will continue to have success based on how powerful it is.


A "pleasant" surprise coming out of Europe, Seismitoad/Giratina looks like a force to be reckoned with. While Seismitoad-EX has been around for quite some time now, Giratina-EX looks to be one of the next lock-style cards that can control a game. Not only does Renegade Pulse stump potent attackers such as M-Rayquaza-EX and M-Manectric-EX, but its attack Chaos Wheel shuts down Tools, Special Energy, and Stadiums from your opponent simultaneously. A card that can take away this many of your opponent's options by itself is quite rare, and I am sure Giratina will see success for a long time. Let's take a look at the list that won the Arena Cup in Würzburg, Germany. I have made two small edits to fit my playstyle.

The original list had a copy of both AZ and Tool Scrapper. I dropped the AZ for a Pokémon Center Lady, as I like to have the Special Energy stick on my Pokémon as opposed to being discarded. I think that with 4 Super Scoop Up, you can still pick up your Pokémon if need be. In the Seismitoad mirror, Pokémon Center Lady can achieve the same result as AZ—surviving the next attack. It can also wake up a sleeping Seismitoad without having to get rid of Double Colorless or Muscle Band.

I also decided to drop the Tool Scrapper for a third Muscle Band. Again, in the Toad mirror, Tool Scrapper is irrelevant once you get the lock going, and has limited uses the turn or two before you are being locked. Muscle Band needs to come down right away in order to maximize damage output and to prevent a possible Head Ringer. Xerosic can also fulfill the purposes of Tool Scrapper, with VS Seeker always there to reuse it.

It's no surprise why Seismitoad/Giratina won the Arena Cup—the field was not ready for it! Many decks are so reliant on Double Colorless Energy, which Giratina can take advantage of. Giratina puts out enough damage for two-hit KOs (sometimes OHKOS!) while also shutting off many important cards. Add in Double Dragon Energy, and you can be ruining your opponent's gameplan as soon as Turn 2!

The biggest strength of this deck, in my opinion, is how versatile it can be. No longer will Seismitoad be walled by Mega Manectric. Giratina is a nice counter to Manectric, and with Lasers/Muscle Band you can set up two-hit KOs on opposing Manectric. Seismitoad is still one of the best attackers in the game, and can do the job itself if need be. It is easy to hype a deck that just won its first tournament, but I can see much more success in the future for the control deck that is Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX.


Yveltal has been in the majority of my decks ever since it came out in 2014, and I am thrilled to have another opportunity to play it again. It has been missing an answer to potent threats such as Manectric, Rayquaza, and even Primal Reversion EX decks (Groudon, Kyogre) in the Standard format. It still is missing an answer in Standard, but in Expanded, a strategy that was made popular last season is now very strong in the current metagame: Archeops with Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. First at Regionals, and then at Worlds, Archie's Ace in the Hole has been a proven effective card. Maxie has not been played as heavily, but relies on the same stretegy: empty your hand to VS Seeker/Maxie, and then get your Evolution out of the discard and a cool five cards. I think Yveltal is the perfect partner for Archeops/Maxie, as it allows Yveltal to Knock Out things that cannot Evolve and get big enough to reach HP numbers than Yveltal cannot reach consistently. This is my take on the deck:

My favorite part about this list is that it remains simple while having depth. Darkrai is also a very formidable attacker next to Yveltal, as Archeops will make Night Spear more likely to pick up KOs on lower-HP targets. The list is geared towards consistency, however, and the ultimate goal is to get a turn-one Archeops. Some of the hands that this deck will produce will not be able to achieve that, and some of the card choices help make sure that the game goes smoothly regardless (second Baby Yveltal, second Darkrai). Having attackers than can help when Pokémon get to Evolve is key, and one can look no further than Darkrai. With Faded Town, Darkrai-EX can help with M-Manectric. Simply set up two Darkrai, and maneuver them around so that they can live and pick up as many KOs as possible. It is not ideal, but it is not an unwinnable situation by any means.

The consistency is real! Three Trainers' Mail, three Acro Bike, four Professor Juniper, two N, three Shaymin-EX, and four Ultra Ball to grab the three Shaymin-EX. Add in Computer Search, and you have seventeen ways to reliably draw cards via Supporters/Shaymin. Situational draw is also high, with six Trainers that can fetch cards and a Maxie's. Another strong play early is to Battle Compressor a Supporter or two that you might need later, and VS Seeker will then become live later on. This deck has many ways to get the cards that you need before the Prize trading starts, while it is going on, and after it is over (defending against N). Combine the Archeops strategy with all of this, and it's no surprise why Yveltal/Archeops is so good.

Yveltal will always be my favorite deck in the format as long as it's legal for one major reason: it can beat anything. No matter what the matchup, you always have a chance when you sit down with Yveltal, given the right list. Being able to do enough damage to kill anything in the format combined with efficient energy acceleration is what makes the deck tick, and it will remain good until it is no longer legal. If you do not play Yveltal at your Expanded events, make sure you have a gameplan for it.


The two decks I presented today were just the beginning. This year's Expanded format will have as many as fifteen to twenty decks at one time. While this may seem incredibly daunting, it is not as difficult as it seems if you approach it correctly. There are three major things I like to remind myself before tournaments:

1. You will not beat everything.

A common mistake I see from some players is to try and tech out decks so that they can answer everything. The problem with this is it is not usually possible, especially in such a wide-open metagame. Figure out what will be popular, and realize what you can accept a loss to. This will not only make your deck better overall, but can also help make perhaps one or two tech choices with only a few decks in mind.

2. Do not overthink it.

This is a problem I deal with for the most part before tournaments, especially larger ones. You might see one or two of a rogue deck in an open play room, and wonder how you match up against it. It is not worth looking into beating decks that you might only play against once in a tournament (if at all), and it is just better to take your odds as they are.

3. Take care of yourself.

While it might seem trivial, this is probably the most important thing on the list. Your body is a machine, and it will only work as well as you treat it. Hydrate, eat, and decompress after long rounds. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, but the third one is very portant as well. It is a big deal that you do not go on tilt; make sure after every round you take a bit of time to refocus on the task at hand.

Thank you, everyone, for reading! I hope my article was helpful, and I cannot wait to be back to write more articles for 60cards! Good luck at your own Regionals/League Challenges/etc. I will be in Lancaster, PA on October 10th, and Fort Wayne, IN the following week. Come say hi!


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