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Caleb Gedemer

Updating Zoroark-GX in Expanded — Dealing with Glaceon-GX and More

Zoroark-GX is the best deck in the Expanded format. See what kind of changes the deck should make going forward with the release of Ultra Prism!

02/23/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

Zoroark-GX might finally see the end of its dominance in the Expanded format in Costa Mesa, California in a couple of weeks stateside. Freezing Gaze ended up being subpar in the Standard format, but with the Expanded format almost completely focusing on Abilities in the setup phases at the start of a game, there should be nothing stopping Glaceon-GX from dominating the early turns, at least. Say goodbye to Shaymin-EX, Tapu Lele-GX, and even Zoroark-GX, some of the most important Pokémon in the Expanded format. Worst of all, a first turn Energy Evolution from Eevee can leave you starting down a Glaceon-GX before you get to do much of anything. Similarly, to a first turn Forest’s Curse from Trevenant; this can leave you grappling for a way to get back into a game.

Glaceon-GX isn’t going to be as powerful against non-Zoroark-GX-based decks, so it might not actually see that much play like in the Standard format. The reality is, though, that it exists and each time you’re paired with it as a Zoroark-GX player you’re going to be in for a very difficult time. It can be hard to deal with a lock of any kind, and one that disables the clear majority of your deck is going to be extremely scary. Zoroark-GX can still take one-hit Knockouts against a Glaceon-GX; it just needs to adjust to still maneuver when the first turn Freezing Gaze lock comes down. Using Hex Maniac on the first turn can spell trouble for a Glaceon-GX deck as well, since Eevee won’t even be able to use Energy Evolution at all.

Zoroark-GX still remains a strong contender in the Expanded format and will be sure to be hanging around for years to come. It’s potent consistency, great array of matchups, and emphasis on power is enough for me to choose it for nearly every tournament, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I were using it in California in March. I’m an expert with this deck, as my group of friends took four day two slots in Dallas, Texas Regionals last month with the same sixty cards, and I’m excited to share some of my changes to the deck going forward. All aboard!

Table of contents

The combination of Zoroark-GX, Hex Maniac, and Red Card dominated the Dallas, Texas Regionals. This combination unfortunately beats Lycanroc-GX variants of Zoroark-GX, so that’s one of the first conclusions I made when starting to test the Expanded format again. There’s a long forgotten Ninetales with Bright Look from Dragons Exalted, and this Ninetales can step right in and replace Lycanroc-GX simply as a “gust” effect for a deck that longs for a way to not only play a Supporter card, but also have that insane effect to take easy Prizes. Lycanroc-GX is too slow when your opponent can buy turns to shut off your Abilities, and worse yet, your opponent can use Foul Play from Zoroark to copy its Dangerous Rogue GX attack for big Knockouts!

I love Lycanroc-GX, and I’m genuinely sad to put the deck to rest for now, but I think it’s best to move on to something that’s a little more linear. The “LonZoroark” decks have always been missing a little something for me, and that’s where Ninetales comes in. Ninetales is also awesome because Bright Look works even when a Glaceon-GX is in the Active spot for your opponent, and you’ll be able to switch it with something on your opponent’s Bench to regain your Abilities!

Zoroark-GX is the best card in the game right now, and in an Expanded format that draws a ton of cards, you want to have the best chances you have at gaining a card advantage over your opponent. Trade is a great way to keep bolstering your hand size, and Sky Field decks make the best use of Colress. Having access to more options at once is going to yield you far greater winning percentages, and I’m pleased to say that this deck is my number one choice going into this upcoming Regionals. Right below, you’ll be able to see my list in all its glory!

§List

§Explanations

4 Zorua DEX 70, 3 Zoroark-GX SLG 53, 1 Zoroark BLW 71, and 1 Zoroark BKT 91

Zorua with Paralyzing Gaze is the optimal Zorua. I don’t know why so many people need so much convincing, but the card can buy you extra turns of attacking and stave off losses. Yes, the Expanded format has a lot of ways out of Paralysis, that is true, but the simple fact remains that if you can Paralyze something there are going to be that low percentage of games where it does in fact buy you an extra turn or prevent a loss. This situation has come up first hand for me at San Jose, California Regionals last year where I used Paralyzing Gaze to prevent myself from losing a game and buy a tie. The Zoroark lineup is very standard for straight Zoroark-GX decks, and the only card I’m on the fence about a little is the Black & White Zoroark with Foul Play. While it does have a lot of utility, every time you Evolve into it you lose access to one of your Zorua, and you won’t be able to Evolve it into the best card in your deck anymore, Zoroark-GX. A Kecleon from Plasma Freeze may be better in its place, as it does not waste a Zorua by Evolving and still serves as a way to potentially counter the mirror match. Zoroark with Mind Jack is irreplaceable and an essential component to beating the mirror match. It would be lovely to have four Zoroark-GX, but you’ll realistically never put that many down since you do want to leave Zorua for Mind Jack and such. Playing four would be a luxury, basically only to guarantee that you’ll never be ravaged by your Prizes.

2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60 and 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

Support Pokémon are very simple to come to a solid conclusion on in this deck. I love two of both Shaymin-EX and Tapu Lele-GX for many reasons. With two Tapu Lele-GX, I’ve bumped my Brigette count up to three, which I’ll discuss more a bit later on. Tapu Lele-GX is only for the early turns for Brigette and then sometimes in the middle of the game when you want to fish out a very specific Supporter card. Shaymin-EX allows you to dig a little deeper on turns where you need to overextend to make a play. I love two copies of it and think it’s bad to play any less.

2 Alolan Grimer BUS 83 and 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58

Two Alolan Grimer is a must whenever you’re playing Alolan Muk in a deck. Your opponent will target down your Alolan Muk if he or she is smart starting off, and from there you’ll need another Alolan Grimer in play if you want to also get Alolan Muk out in the same turn. I love using Division as a starting play if I go second, and I can’t advocate more for this lineup. Even having two Alolan Muk would be nice, but just a single copy is fine with Rescue Stretcher and plenty of Puzzle of Time to make sure you never lose track of your Sudowoodo with Roadblock counter card.

1 Vulpix PRC 20 and 1 Ninetales DRX 19

Here’s where this list gets spicy: my Ninetales line! Bright Look is awesome with any Zoroark-GX deck as you will have many ways to extend your turns and play up to the Bright Look Knockouts you’ll be looking to take. I could even look to buff this line out a little more as the “gust” effect as an Ability is absolutely crazy. With the option to use Ninetales, you’ll almost ensure that you’ll be taking three two-Prize Knockouts in consecutive turns. That’s what this deck wants to do! As a bonus, against a Shock Lock deck (Stoutland / Raichu), you can use Ninetales to win the game. With Alolan Muk down, you will shut off your opponent’s Shining Celebi. This forces him or her to use Shrine of Memories to use Pickup from Lillipup. From there, you’ll be able to use your Ninetales to break the Sentinel lock with Bright Look, and buy yourself time, and Prizes. You can play a Sky Field down, increase your Bench size above five, and then when the Shrine of Memories comes down you can discard your Ninetales line. This gives you a “recycling” option for the Evolution line, as you can then use Puzzle of Time or Rescue Stretcher to recover the Ninetales and keep using Bright Look to get around Stoutland. This combination won me a match against the deck in the second day of play at Texas Regionals (I was using Lycanroc-GX then, though, of course).

1 Oricorio GRI 56, 1 Marshadow SLG 45, 1 Exeggcute PLF 4, and 1 Bunnelby PRC 121

Tech Pokémon can be very important in Zoroark-GX decks. I’ve chosen Oricorio as my Night March counter, because along with Alolan Muk, I think it’s an even better answer to the deck than Seismitoad-EX and Karen. Marshadow has Let Loose which can substitute as another Red Card, one that is searchable with just an Ultra Ball, too! It’s another way to draw cards as well, which can be very desirable. Exeggcute belongs in every Zoroark-GX deck, with at least one copy being played. Bunnelby is fantastic and creates a free-win situation against Wailord-EX decks as well as those random games where you manage to run someone out of cards with Burrow. I achieved both of these win conditions in my last event while playing my new favorite bunny.

3 Brigette

I’d like four, but three does the job well. With three, you have roughly a thirty-five percent chance of starting with the natural Brigette, which is very nice to have against Hex Maniac plays from your opponent turn one, as well as Glaceon-GX locks. These can all become Trade fodder in the late game, so I’m content with playing as many as I’ve got right now.

2 Colress, 1 N, and 1 Cynthia

Draw Supporters are amazing in the Expanded format, and I especially have a big crush on Colress. I love drawing huge hands and collecting all the cards I need to make a huge combination play that can spell trouble for my opponent. N is still a cog in the Expanded format, since it can create comeback situations in the late game along with Alolan Muk. I’d like to have two copies of it, but the next card on this list, Cynthia, is too good not to play on its own and alleviates the rough discard situations that you’d sometimes run into in the past with Professor Sycamore. A solid draw of six cards is nothing to scoff at; I really like it!

1 Hex Maniac, 1 Guzma, 1 Ghetsis, and 1 Acerola

The tech Supporters in this deck can be hard to deduce. One thing's for sure, all of these should be in the deck except for maybe Acerola. Since you are playing a higher VS Seeker count, Acerola has a lot more utility for games that get drawn out where you want to deny Prizes to stay ahead. Hex Maniac is for Red Card plays where you can lock your opponent out of the game, Guzma is for bigger Knockout turns, and Ghetsis is for extra disruption and as a counter for Sableye. All of these are recoverable with VS Seeker, so playing a single copy of each is optimal.

4 Ultra Ball and 1 Pokemon Communication

Four Ultra Ball is a must to giving you the best chance of opening up with Tapu Lele-GX. Pokémon Communication would be lovely to have at least two copies of, but you’re a little strapped for space right now so finding the spot will be difficult. I like having three VS Seeker in this version of Zoroark-GX since you do play more tech Supporters and want to have access to those more frequently than not, otherwise that would be a potential cut.

4 Puzzle of Time and 3 VS Seeker

For hard resource recovery, this is what you’ve got! Puzzle of Time is busted in all Zoroark-GX decks, and VS Seeker trails not far behind. Having three VS Seeker instead of the traditional four might be a cause for concern, but when games run so quickly, there’s no reason to be playing a higher count. At my last Expanded Regionals, my whole crew played just two VS Seeker because games went so fast. Since this deck is built a little be more for the long game, having three VS Seeker is something you’re going to want to have.

2 Choice Band and 1 Float Stone

This is the perfect Tool card lineup for any Zoroark-GX deck that comes to mind. I’ve been running it like this for a long time now and haven’t run into problems of any kind. I think this should be held constant no matter what.

1 Special Charge and 1 Rescue Stretcher

For specific resource recovery, this is what I’ve got. With just Four Double Colorless Energy in the deck, you’re going to want another way to get Energy back outside of Puzzle of Time, so Special Charge fits the billing. It’s very nice to have against the many ways that exist to discard Special Energy, too. Rescue Stretcher is amazing in all Zoroark-GX decks and gives you a way to recover your Alolan Muk, especially, without having to burn a Puzzle of Time play to recover it. I really like that quickness and don’t like spending my Puzzle of Time combinations on anything but game-winning cards that are going to immediately take me Prizes.

1 Red Card and 1 Field Blower

The Hex Maniac, Red Card combination was “invented” in Dallas, Texas, and ever since it’s been a fearsome combination play that sends every deck running. Putting it in your own Zoroark-GX deck is a must now, as you will lose games to versions that do run it if you’re not playing it yourself. Field Blower is still a card you want to have as an extra out to Parallel City, removing Fighting Fury Belt, and even taking Tools off Garbodor with Garbotoxin (a deck that’s been popping back up in the Expanded format).

1 Computer Search

The best Ace Spec in the game belongs in the best deck in the game. Zoroark-GX becomes so much more consistent and speedy with the inclusion of Computer Search and for that reason it’s a no-brainer in the deck. You can even use it to get a Brigette early on, which creates yet another out for your play that you’re going to be trying to pull off every single game on your first turn.

3 Sky Field

Just three Sky Field is the perfect number with Puzzle of Time in your deck. You don’t want to open up with too many of them in the early game and have them clog up your hand, so three is the best number to look at for having a decent chance of drawing into them early and often, but also not having them clumping up and creating discarding problems where you don’t want to get rid of them but have to in order to keep playing the game.

4 Double Colorless Energy

Four of these are all you need. Riotous Beating takes just two colorless energies, and that’s the game plan. Special Charge can get these back if you need to, but other than that, sometimes you don’t even need more than three to close out a game if you’re taking three Pokémon-EX/GX Knockouts!

§Matchups

Buzzwole-GX Toolbox | Even

Don’t be afraid of your opponent’s type advantage in this matchup; it means next to nothing. Both you and your opponent can take one-hit Knockouts, so this matchup is more of a trade than anything. Wide Lens can cause some shenanigans if you can’t get three Zorua on your Bench at a time, but other than that your opponent will have to work hard to take one-hit Knockouts just like you have to. Using Shaymin-EX and Tapu Lele-GX to set up Knockouts is also something I’ve frequently used when trying to buy time. Your opponent will have to use an attack with a drawback, notably Knuckle Impact, if he or she wants to deal with either of these beefier Pokémon. That said, then you can use those turns to get back into the Prize trade with a big one-hit Knockout from Riotous Beating. Most Fighting lists still play Sudowoodo with Roadblock, so using Alolan Muk to your advantage is advised.

Garbodor Toolbox | Even

Watch out for all of the cards your opponent plays to have a bit of an edge against you. Drampa-GX, Garbodor with Garbotoxin, and Parallel City are all worthy adversaries and things you should be prepared against and ready for. Whenever you use Field Blower in a turn, you should have two Puzzle of Time to recover it back right away for another use later in the game. Ensuring you get the best use out of it each time is critical to success. Special Charge should be used in the same light: always being used to get back two Double Colorless Energy. Whenever you’re up against any kind of lock, you want to make sure you optimize your value out of every card so that you can do more with less. Make sure to limit your Items in fear of Trashalanche and aim to take one-hit Knockouts instead of doing chip damage; you won’t last long enough to finish slightly damaged things off.

Garbodor / Sableye | Even

You don’t have many answers to Gardevoir-GX outside of using Hex Maniac, Red Card, and hoping your opponent doesn’t draw anything. Often times, he or she won’t! Ghetsis is also a solid option in the beginning of the game, too. You don’t have many ways to deal significant damage outside of two-hit Knockouts, so you’re going to be hard pressed to stay in the game when your opponent has access to the Fighting type Gallade. A barrage of disruption from your side and even things out and that’s how you’ll win the games that you do. Be as aggressive as possible to try to score a quick win.

Gardevoir-GX | Unfavorable

You don’t have many answers to Gardevoir-GX outside of using Hex Maniac, Red Card, and hoping your opponent doesn’t draw anything. Often times, he or she won’t! Ghetsis is also a solid option in the beginning of the game, too. You don’t have many ways to deal significant damage outside of two-hit Knockouts, so you’re going to be hard pressed to stay in the game when your opponent has access to the Fighting type Gallade. A barrage of disruption from your side and even things out and that’s how you’ll win the games that you do. Be as aggressive as possible to try to score a quick win.

Glaceon-GX Toolbox | Slightly Unfavorable

This is your new public enemy number one. Freezing Gaze is super degenerate as I talked about early, so you’re going to want to rush your opponent in every way possible. One way to stop him or her in their tracks immediately is to play a Hex Maniac on the first turn if you get to play first. This will stop Eevee from using Energy Evolution, and in turn, you’ll get some extra turns of Ability usage. Along with a Red Card, you have the option to break the game right there and get ahead. If you can establish attackers and begin a stream of draw Supporters like Colress and Cynthia, you’ll be in great shape to walk away unscathed. Try to get the best value out of your Puzzle of Time plays and Special Charge uses, too. The disruption of Glaceon-GX is hard to vault, but you can do it.

Greninja BREAK | Even

Rush Greninja BREAK as quickly as you can. You do have the capability of taking one-hit Knockouts with a full Bench with Sky Field out, so things are doable. The biggest threat is Shadow Stitching which will stop you from using Abilities and getting more of the cards you want. An early Ghetsis can leave your opponent helpless, and of course, don’t forget Red Card plays, too. Try to take advantage of the inconsistencies of a Greninja BREAK deck before it's too late.

Trevenant BREAK | Even

Ninetales can get you out of the Item lock, but other than that, your Zoroark-GX should roll tide. Use your Hex Maniac to regain Item usage and make sure you stagger your Zorua one at a time so that Silent Fear doesn't knock everything out at once. Beware of Espeon-EX, too, and have a clean Zoroark-GX ready to knock it out in one hit.

Wailord-EX | Highly Favorable

Bunnelby will get you a free win in this matchup. Use Rototiller to put your Energy back into your deck and Burrow whenever you don’t have something useful to recover. Putting Puzzle of time back in is amazing, too. Unless a viable Bunnelby counter arises, this counter will be hanging around for some time. If you don’t run Bunnelby, this matchup is unfavorable.

Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX | Slightly Favorable

With Alolan Muk, you can get to the point of taking one-hit Knockouts on your opponent’s Pokémon. Ninetales can use Bright Look to snag threats from the Bench, too. In Zoroark-GX mirror matches you want to be careful starting off not to put too many useless Pokémon on your Bench and then be punished by Sudowoodo. Take things slowly and opportunities will present themselves.

Zoroark-GX / Red Card | Slightly Favorable

I think that Ninetales gives you a slight advantage in every mirror match. You gain another option to punish your opponent and take easy Prizes. Obviously be working to get the Hex Maniac, Red Card combination off at some point in any of these matchups and you will be good. Be aware that you can use your Zoroark with Mind Jack more than once to get easy Knockouts, too!

Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX | Slightly Favorable

Hex Maniac, Red Card makes this matchup simple. Your opponent doesn’t have a great answer to it, and his or her deck is clunkier than yours just by design. You can use your Zoroark with Foul Play to copy Dangerous Rogue GX if the opportunity presents itself and remember that you can also use Trickster GX to copy Lycanroc-GX even when it’s on the Bench, too!

Zoroark-GX / Magnezone | Slightly Favorable

Again, using Hex Maniac and Red Card shuts this deck down completely. Magnezone relies on its Ability, and without it the deck crumbles to pieces. Try to get the combination off at some point and you should instantly get into the lead.

Zoroark-GX / Night March | Favorable

Prioritize getting down Alolan Muk as soon as you can to render Marshadow-GX useless. Oricorio is your sweeper in the end of the game, but once you have Alolan Muk down, don’t be afraid to just pressure your opponent with things like Zoroark-GX. Without Shaymin-EX to extend draws, it’s hard for a Night March deck to draw the cards it needs to in order to take one-hit Knockouts on a beefy Pokémon with 210 HP. If you’re wary of using two Prize Pokémon, feel free to use Mind Jack to take Knockouts and trade evenly. Remember that your Shaymin-EX can use Sky Return to take a Joltik down in one hit and that’s a good way to not only conserve Energy, but to deny your opponent Pokémon-EX/GX Knockouts while still being able to reap the benefits of Set Up.

Zoroark-GX / Seismitoad-EX | Slightly Unfavorable

This matchup is super difficult without Pokémon Ranger, a card that I don’t think is worth playing after the awful showing that Giratina-EX and Seismitoad-EX alike had in Dallas, Texas. You can cheese out wins with Hex Maniac and Red Card before Quaking Punch strikes, but other than that, you’ll be working to get to the point of taking things down in one hit, which is super hard without Items. Cyrus ◇ is extremely oppressive as well and forces you to rebuild a Bench that once could have been formidable. Hope to avoid this one!

§Conclusion

This is one of my top choices for Costa Mesa, California Regionals right now, and I hope you try it out too. The Hex Maniac, Red Card combination in the Expanded format has become super polarizing, as will Glaceon-GX and Freezing Gaze, too. There’s no time like the present to pick a deck you enjoy with decent matchups and hope to run hot! Build it as consistent as you can get it and roll with it. There’s no avoiding some of the luck-based dirty combinations of Expanded, so do what you can to avoid them and play the best you can. Catch you later; I should have another article coming out in a week or so. Good luck; always play clean and fair; honesty and integrity are everything!

~Caleb

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