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Caleb Gedemer

"All Aboard the Raging Bull" — Tauros-GX Finds Its Way into Expanded Yveltal, and More

Caleb breaks down the entirety of the Expanded format for your reading pleasure. Be sure to check this article out for some awesome deck lists and great insight!

02/27/2017 by Caleb Gedemer


Hey 60cards, it has been a little while. I am happy to be back today writing for you all, but I am equally excited to talk a little bit about what is probably my favorite new card from Sun and Moon, Tauros-GX. Tauros is an amazing card with lots of potential, and today we will be seeing if it fits into anything in particular in the Expanded format. In addition to that, I will discuss Expanded in its entirety, and give you all a better view on what the upcoming field will look like for the Illinois Regional Championship in early March. Without further ado, let us get right into it!

Tauros-GX and Its Projected Dominance

Tauros-GX has a very vanilla typing, with three attacks all taking off for just a Double Colorless Energy. Each attack has its own purpose. To start off, Rage can punish an opponent for attacking into Tauros, as early as on that player’s first turn. Next, we have Horn Attack, which can simply do 70 damage at any point in the game, with a Fighting Fury Belt. Lastly, Mad Bull GX is the shining gem of this card, this attack is the best GX move available for players right now, in my opinion, and rightfully so. Few Pokemon can take one of these Tauros down in one blow, and that being said, if a player does a mere 60 damage to your bull, you can swing right back for a whopping 180 damage. This GX attack is nearly guaranteed to score you two Prizes from a Pokemon-EX, or GX, at some point in the game, which is fantastic.

For a deck that can sometimes be victimized by a mediocre start, Tauros is an amazing “wall”, if you will, to promote up as your Active Pokemon to take a hit will you complete your setup. Max Bull GX is absolutely the biggest selling point for this card, since very few Pokemon can take a 220 HP Pokemon down in one hit. Basically, if anything ever attacks a Tauros, sometime on your opponent’s field is going to be taking a one-hit Knockout.

I have already had the chance to use this Pokemon in the Standard format, and boy, let me tell you that it redefines the format. Ninja Boy has not always been the most popular card in the world, but with the new inclusion of Tauros in many of the most popular decks, Ninja Boy can suddenly change a random damaged attacker into a Tauros-GX that is swinging for insane amounts of damage, especially with the Mad Bull GX attack. This element of surprise is not only suspenseful, but adds a very new level of skill to a game that some say has been lacking it for some time now. Making sure you want to damage something instead of digging for a one-hit Knockout becomes a real point of concern with the birth of the Tauros and Ninja Boy combo.

Yveltal Hits the Rodeo

Could Yveltal decks get better? You betcha, and it absolutely did in the Standard format already. Tauros-GX cranks up the heat for this already powerful deck, even in Expanded, and takes it to what I feel is the next level as a competitive build. Yveltal decks with Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick have consistently topped other competitive decks time and time again. These builds always seem to find a new niche, and change drastically in structure from time to time. Tauros, I believe, is the next piece of the puzzle that will make this archetype even better.

As it already stood, Yveltal did not have very many bad matchups in the Expanded format. A few questionable ones that Tauros-GX helps in are things like Crobat/Seismitoad-EX and Eelektrik/Raikou. Neither of these decks takes one-hit Knockouts, and against Seismitoad-EX especially, Tauros can wreak havoc. ‘toad does not hit for very significant damage, and right away you can use Mad Bull GX against it to score two Prizes. This puts the pressure on for the Seismitoad player and forces them to immediately have another attacker with a Double Colorless Energy, most likely. Once they attack again, then the Rage attack is doing a ton of damage and will either take another one-hit Knockout, or set up an easier Prize play for a different Pokemon.

Raikou usually swings for 110 damage on average, and Tauros-GX can obviously take good advantage of that, too. In general, having another Pokemon that does not have a Weakness to Lightning is very nice to have. Regardless, Tauros can take knockouts, and in combination with a Hex Maniac, you can shut the opponent out of the game right there. When you put Darkrai-EX, Gallade, and Tauros-GX together, you finally have a formidable attacking corps against one of your toughest matchups as an Yveltal player in Expanded.

The Developing Metagame

The best two decks right now in my opinion look to be Trevenant BREAK and Yveltal/Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick when it comes to Expanded. These two archetypes are very polarizing, and should always be kept in mind when choosing a deck for an Expanded event. While these two decks might be the face of the format, there is more to life than just those two, let us take a look at the rest of the decks, shall we?

Accelgor/Wobbuffet (Low Popularity)

Accelgor has been around a long time now, and it has waned and waxed as far as its popularity goes. Recently, its play has seen a tiny increase, and it has found itself in the Top 8 of multiple Regional Championships. This deck thrives on your opponent’s inability to attack, since Deck and Cover renders an opponent’s Pokemon Paralyzed. Wobbuffet makes things worse and stops them from using Shaymin-EX as a means to set up, as well as Keldeo-EX’s Rush In to escape the crippling effects that Paralysis brings.

Going into the metagame that I predict, Accelgor is a very solid play. This deck effectively only takes a bad matchup to Trevenant BREAK decks, on paper, but a lot of things can get in the way in even good matchups. The deck is naturally clunky, as it relies on a Stage 1 attacker that does not even stay in play the whole game, it must get shuffled back into the deck each time you attack.

Chaining Deck and Cover attacks can be tricky, and when you break it, all kinds of things can break loose and ruin your day. Late game Ns to a low number like one or two can also make or break you, since you rely so heavily on using the same old attack every single turn. I would personally be wary of piloting this deck because of general inconsistencies, but overall it is very solid.

Carbink BREAK/Zygarde-EX (Low Popularity)

This is a build that randomly popped up at the last United States Expanded Regional Championship in San Jose, California. I personally do not think very highly of the deck, and to be quite frank, I think it is pretty bad. Nonetheless, it has been played, so it is worth talking about. The goal of this deck is similar to that of Primal Groudon-EX decks, to sit back, relax, build up some big attackers, and heal your Pokemon as you go. Through in some Energy card disruption to make things harder on your opponent, and you have a decent deck.

This deck struggles with many of the top decks, including both Trevenant BREAK and Yveltal. Greninja BREAK is not as popular anymore, but that deck absolutely obliterates Carbink decks. This Fighting build does well in a metagame that is flooded with Darkrai-EX decks, and that is much of the reason that it saw play in the first place.

Carbink BREAK/Zygarde-EX is also naturally clunky, and that is another reason I do not like it all that much. As a slower deck, you will struggle to compete with many of the decks that rush you in a tournament. I would not suggest playing this without proper testing, or a watchful eye for the decks that you expect to be played.

Darkrai-EX (Medium Popularity)

Here we have a deck that I do not mind at all in the Expanded format, but it does come with some very glaring weaknesses. With the release of Salamence-EX, this deck saw a huge resurgence in play in San Jose. This deck is very fast, and hits hard quickly with the combination of Dark Patch, Max Elixir, and Double Dragon Energy. Each of the Pokemon in the deck bring something different to the table, which is very intriguing.

Now to pour some rain on the parade, Darkrai-EX has that annoying Weakness to Fighting, and the ever so popular Yveltal decks play Gallade, which completely foils your plans. It may seem crazy, but a single Gallade can usually score two consecutive Knockouts on Darkrai-EXs, which pretty much ends the game. Once, I was personally playing a deck that had Gallade, and took down my opponent’s entire field of Darkrai-EXs to win the game.

If I were to discourage you from playing this deck, my argument would be completely centered around the Fighting Weakness predicament. The fact that Gallade is a popular deck, and other Fighting decks exist (Carbink BREAK), is all the reason I need to personally shy away from this deck myself.

Eelektrik/Raikou (Low Popularity)

I have played this deck myself this season at a Regional Championship, so I believe I have a deeper understanding of it than other decks. I do not think it is extremely good, but more of the middle of the line when it comes to strength. When you are stumped about choosing a deck for an event, that is when Eelektrik can become one of your top choices. It is solid, and easy to play, which makes for a solid choice no matter what the occasion is.

The strategy of this deck is very linear, and you will rarely stray far from it. You just need to use Eelektrik’s Dynamotor Ability to take Lightning Energy from your discard pile to charge up Raikous to attack with. Your deck is mainly non-EX Pokemon, so it is very efficient in trading with decks that attack with the opposite.

Some words of warning about this deck are that it can oddly fall victim to Ghetsis quite often, and if you do not play Gallade, the turbo Darkrai-EX decks will be hard to beat. Additionally, Archeops can be a huge pain if an opponent gets it out, and Seismitoad-EX and Trevenant’s Item locking powers are very oppressive and keep you from truly setting up. Rough Seas is incredibly important against both of those decks, so do not even think about dropping it from your list. Opposing Gallades, too, can be very hard to deal with, so Mewtwo-EX is a must-have inclusion in the build. I would not play this deck because it is very lackluster, and its engine just feels slower than that of other decks out there. I even have the personal experience to back these claims, so I am quite confident in saying that.

Flareon/Vespiquen (Low Popularity)

Another one of the decks I have played before, and am quite fond of. This deck never gets old for me, even though it has somewhat of a target on its back now with Karen being around. Karen has drifted into mediocrity in the Expanded format, in a way, since many people do not value playing it as much as they once did. That makes this deck a viable play once again, and it has many new things to work with that make it even better.

Archeops is another deterrent that shies people away from this deck, but with Wobbuffet, you can effectively combat the prehistoric bird and get all your Stage 1 Evolutions out. I really like Tropical Beach in this deck too, as it in a way serves as a counter to Karen, since you can re-draw your Pokemon and then throw them in the discard with a Professor Sycamore, and it also helps you set up in the early stages of the game by simply drawing more cards.

This has been an early consideration of mine for this upcoming Regional Championship, but I have slowly become more and more discouraged with it, since Karen is such a problem. Additionally, Trevenant BREAK, and sometimes even Seismitoad-EX can be troublesome. The number one reason to not play this deck definitely hinges on the Karen problem, it becomes a matter of if you are willing to risk losing games outright from that very Supporter card.

Greninja BREAK (Medium Popularity)

Here we have a deck that is on its way out of the format, in my eyes. Even though counters to Archeops can be played, players have figured out ways for those Archeops decks to still win. At the most recent Expanded format Regional Championship, Greninja BREAK was taken down by Yveltal with Archeops in the finals. The match was very one-sided towards the Yveltal player, and was very convincing.

With the release of the new Giratina Promo, Greninja has taken yet another fatal blow, and that card should pretty much do this deck in. Regardless, players may still pilot the deck, but that would be ill-advised in my opinion with all the counters going around.

I have not even mentioned one good thing about Greninja yet, and that is honestly because I cannot really think of anything. If it sets up, you may still do well, as I did earlier in the season with a Regional Top 8 finish, but I think ‘ninja’s time is up. To make matters even worse, one last deterrent I have about the deck is the fact that the Trevenant BREAK matchup is not even that great, and when your opponent plays Red Card, things can spiral out of control right away. I would suggest steering far away from this deck for upcoming events, in both the Expanded and Standard formats.

Lurantis-GX (Low Popularity)

Here is a card that shows a lot of promise, but I am not sure if people have found a viable partner for it yet, even in Expanded. Basically, it functions the same way as M Manectric-EX decks did, but even better since it has a lower attack cost. I have tried Lurantis-GX with Gallade and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, and that has seemed pretty good in testing. It can tend to be somewhat on the inconsistent side, though, so I am not sure how I truly feel about it.

As far as Weaknesses go, Fire Pokemon obviously exist, but they are not super popular. Other than that, Archeops can be troublesome, but I with Hex Maniac and Evosoda, I do not foresee it being a major problem. If you play Forest of Giant Plants and go first, too, you can quickly get out multiple Lurantis-GXs and completely avoid the problem entirely. I like playing this deck with Hypnotoxic Laser and Muscle Band, since it helps you hit better numbers when using Lurantis-GX’s Solar Blade attack.

While the event is creeping up faster and faster, I would recommend trying this deck out, since it seems very strong in theory. Not many things exist that can beat it with ease, so it is more like one of those decks that we have not completely figured out as players yet, but in the future, it could be incredible.

M Gardevoir-EX (Low Popularity)

This is an Expanded deck that is starting to finally get some hype, which is something that has never happened before. Despair Ray is obviously strong, but a not so obvious combination is that of M Gardevoir-EX, Dimension Valley, and Max Potion to heal off damage.

This deck has performed very well for me in testing, and when you play a Karen, you remove some otherwise poor matchups like Flareon/Vespiquen and Night March from the table. Archeops can be annoying, too, but with two Hex Maniac in your list, success is just a blink away.

I would recommend this deck to players that have played it in the Standard format and are struggling to find a deck for Expanded, since the carryover between the formats is the same in many ways. It is very strong and a contender moving forward.

M Rayquaza-EX (Low Popularity)

I really dislike this deck, not only because it has many, many bad matchups, but the playing it is close to mindless, and it can be very inconsistent and is prone to weird opening hands that are hard to play around. It thrives on taking one-hit Knockouts, and while most of the format is centralized around Pokemon-EX and Pokemon-GX, many of those decks play Stadium cards that remove the one-hit threat from M Rayquaza-EX’s Emerald Break.

Parallel City and Silent Lab are huge problems for this deck, and those are among the most popular Stadiums in the game right now. Seismitoad-EX and Trevenant BREAK also are major problems for this deck, as they are for much of the format, and those decks will generally give you a beating when it comes to gameplay.

I would not recommend playing this deck for many reasons, but more than anything else, there is little maneuverability when it comes to games, and much of it is matchup-based. Basically, you will be paired up against whatever you get paired up against, and that will be that. There is little space to make up for a bad matchup, and you often times just have to accept it.

Night March (Medium Popularity)

Here we have the dreaded Night March! This deck has fallen drastically when it comes to popularity, but the premise that the deck is still strong is an easy decision. This deck has close to fifty-fifty matchups nearly all around the board, which is nice, but does have some troubles.

Seismitoad-EX is gaining a lot of traction right now, and for that reason, Night March might not be the best idea. Trevenant BREAK, too, is nearly an automatic loss, and that is something no one wants. Karen, too, presents a huge problem.

I would not play this deck, personally, because of the many things out there that beat it, and the unknown nature of the popularity of Karen. It is too difficult to really put a figure on how many players will be using Karen, and I would not want to take that risk.

Primal Groudon-EX (Low Popularity)

I have piloted this deck at a Regional Championship this year, too, and had decent results. I took some annoying losses to Greninja BREAK, but did well against everything else. While they were not on my radar then, Seismitoad-EX and Trevenant BREAK have both surged in popularity, and both are difficult for Groudon to maneuver around.

Groudon is a slow deck that sits behind Wobbuffets to set up, and tries to generally win the game with just a single attacker. This can be difficult, but when it works, it works well. Much of your deck needs to be Items, and these deck lists usually use Korrina as an engine of sorts to get things to function correctly. That being said, with all the Item locking business around right now, I would be ill-advised to play this deck myself.

Besides Item lock, the nature of the format with the uncertainty that comes from the release of Sun & Moon makes things tricky, too. Primal Groudon-EX is a deck that players generally roll out when the metagame has been solidified, and they know exactly what to expect. For that reason, with the unknown nature of everything, I really would not consider this deck at all.

Seismitoad-EX/Crobat or Decidueye-GX (Medium Popularity)

These decks are getting some well-deserved hype, once more, going into the new Expanded format. Many players have been adamant, and I even agree, that Crobat is the better way to play Seismitoad-EX versus than with Decidueye-GX. Regardless, these two get lumped into the same category since they are very similar in structure and the way they play. Quaking Punch is good, but when you pair it with Pokemon that make its damage output increase very quickly, then you have found a real winner.

I know I have said it many times, but Item lock is just very strong right now with the way that decks are built, and Seismitoad-EX is probably the best way to do it. As far as Weaknesses go, Grass Pokemon are the first thing to call to mind. Lurantis-GX does not seem like it will be very popular, but that is something that absolutely goes in on you. Trevenant BREAK decks naturally do well against you, too, since they have a better attack that spreads damage, and can even use Tree Slam to hit for 60 and finish up Knockouts.

I would feel confident playing one of these decks, since they can steal away pretty much any win from any deck. Hypnotoxic Laser is super annoying, and it is not going anywhere as long as Seismitoad-EX is played.

Trevenant BREAK (High Popularity)

“Wally into Trevenant.” Ugh, I wish that was not a possible scenario. Turn one Item lock is devastating, and can score a win right away against many decks before they get to play a single card. When you are paired up against a Trev player, you probably will only get a single turn of Items, in the best-case scenario. Not only that, but the damage spread of Silent Fear is very strong, and creates big Knockout situations where many things can fall at the same times.

The biggest reason to not play Trevenant is its glaring Weakness to Darkness Pokemon, which in my opinion, just so happens to be the most popular archetype in Expanded. Trevenant can get absolutely blown away by Darkness decks, unless, of course, it gets lucky going first with a Wally, or hits an obscene number of Crushing Hammers heads flips.

I would not play this deck simply because of the Darkness Pokemon problem, but also it can crumble to an opponent that somehow manages to draw decently under Item lock. When that happens, there is nothing you can really do, and you can run out of attackers and lose. The addition of Alolan Muk brings a new dimension to Trevenant, which could end up helping a bit in the Darkness matchup, even.

Vileplume/Attackers (Low Popularity)

This deck tries to attack with a corresponding Pokemon that counters your opponent’s attacking Pokemon: Glaceon-EX for Evolved Pokemon, Jolteon-EX for Basic Pokemon, and so on. Vileplume stops them from using Item cards that can get them out of the lock, and sets up pretty simple wins. This can work a lot of the time, but it does have flaws.

This build is incredibly inconsistent and can struggle to find Energy and manage discarding some resources as it starts to set up. Outside of that, there plenty of decks that just do not lose to it, since they run attackers of all kinds that can address the various Pokemon an opponent throws at them.

I would not play this deck for the inconsistency factor alone, and would not even fathom playing it after realizing that its matchups are not as great as they may seem to be at first glance.

Xerneas (Low Popularity)

I once liked this deck in Expanded just a little bit, but with the Item lock decks coming back onto the scene, it does not seem very wise to play this deck anymore. Items are what make it work to begin with, and the entire deck will fizzle without them. While Xerneas can still reach one-hit Knockout numbers on a lot of the best decks, its matchups are not very stellar, either.

This deck also relies on Stadium cards, like Sky Field, to do much of anything, and running out of different types of Pokemon is a problem. This deck is just a hot mess waiting to happen, so I would not suggest playing it whatsoever.

I do not think many people will use this deck either, and if any do, they will probably be sitting around the bottom tables of the event, wishing they played something else.

Yveltal/Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick (High Popularity)

Here we have the biggest cog of Expanded, a safe play for any player that knows what they are doing with the deck. It has options for all the decks out there, Archeops, Gallade, Tauros-GX, the list goes on.

This deck can overcome nearly any obstacle, and has pretty much fifty-fifty matchups with all the best decks, or better. It struggles when decks like Night March, for instance, get off to a hot start and take knockouts right away.

I would feel comfortable playing this deck, knowing that you have pretty decent matchups, and it is one of my top choices right now as it stands. With the nice array of matchups that it has, its proven consistency, and just overall flexibility, it seems like a fantastic choice.

What Looks Good

After taking a long look at all the playable options, I really am a big fan of Yveltal/Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick most of all. Following that, I am intrigued by Lurantis-GX, and have a cool concept for the deck which I will be sharing below. Other than that, Trevenant BREAK is a deck that always seems decent, even with the Darkness problem. If you can avoid that, then it will be smooth sailing for any tournament.


To wrap it up today, I would like to reiterate that the Expanded format has pretty much become close to, or entirely matchup-based. This being said, take some of the things I wrote about today into consideration, grab a deck you like that also seems solid, sleeve it up, write out a deck list, and just have some fun. You will never be able to predict a tournament exactly, but I have provided my thoughts on how popular I think each of the decks out there will be. Good luck everyone, thanks for reading.

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