"Eye See You" - Expanded Talk and Intro to Sableye!
Are you in need of an Expanded Bible? Here's the first part of a new chapter.
10/16/2018 by Jay Lesage
Good morning 60Cards readers! I’m hard away at the grindstone after seeing the results of Memphis Regionals, resulting in the victor being Florida’s own Daniel Altavilla, winning his 5th overall Regional Championships piloting GasKan 2.0! Appropriately nicknamed after the deck’s innovator, Rukan Shao, it’s interesting to see a deck that wasn’t regarded as Tier 1 by the masses have two respective runner-up placements, and a win within the first two Standard Regionals of the North American circuit. These are simply things we can’t ignore, and we must pay attention to in regards to upcoming tournaments (e.g. the upcoming Portland Regional Championships). Even though the next Regionals is in the Expanded format, I find that many concepts from Standard parallel over to its sibling format. You can guess it, today, we’re going to go over the Expanded format, something I’ve been toying with, and a brief PSA reminding everybody of the staple cards we should all know about.
Table of contents
The last Regional Championships was in Roanoke, Virginia this past May, where we saw none other than Xander Pero take down the Expanded Regionals with his BuzzRoc deck. Falling just short of the win in the finals was Butch Smith, with his Wailord mill-focused deck. Rounding out the Top 4, we saw Ryne Morgan with their Zoroark-GX deck, and Isaac Milaski (a then aged-up Master) pop up with a deck very similar to Xander’s, clenching that 4th place spot. A triage of Trevenant decks also performed very well at this Regionals, taking the 5th, 6th, and 7th place spots within the Top 8! In the 8th and final spot within the Top 8, we saw yet another Buzzwole-focused deck piloted by James Arnold, but this one had many more Baby Buzzwole than the others.
In the Expanded format, it’s vital to study what other players have piloted in the past, because this is what other competitors are going to study and pilot in the future. It’s a little different within the Expanded format however, because since they are so gapped out, it makes it increasingly difficult to practice for them, let alone craft an ideal format within one’s head. Likewise, it’s also difficult to emulate a proper metagame because virtually any deck you could imagine could potentially pop up at your Expanded Regionals! Expansions become released between almost every single Expanded format, and since there is such a large card pool with increasing options, there are far too many interactions to track. Unless you have all day to read every single card, my best bet is that you have a grasp of what has done well (as of lately), and understand thoroughly what these types of decks do. By lumping specific decks together, we can form groups of decks and see what their inherent weaknesses are (or what their strength caps out at). When building a deck, sometimes picking a seemingly “weaker” versatile card can be better than choosing a “straight-forward” non-choosy card. Here's a scenario I came across recently:
When deck constructing a Buzzwole/Garbodor deck, I came to realize that there are quite a few Supporter cards I could choose from. I could opt between Korrina, and Teammates — I initially tested Korrina, which I realized was inferior to Teammates. Why, you ask? Because all I need is Energy, and Pokemon each turn. Proceeding after a KO, I can search out any two cards I need, and with all my Energy being Special for the most part, I’d need access to those too. Therefore, past the first turn where my opponent can’t take a Prize Card, (assuming they take a Prize Card every turn) I’ll be able to use Teammates for five turns of the game. This warrants Teammates as the more versatile, superior choice to a card like Korrina because it can do more things for me. While Korrina is effective when my opponent doesn’t take KOs, it is inferior in most matchups where each turn they’ll be KOing something. Here’s a few cards that are pretty hot in Expanded that some people might’ve forgotten…
Teammates — Busted in decks that are primarily single-Prize Card attackers
Korrina — Perfect fit for decks using primarly Fighting-type attackers
Professor Juniper — One of the greatest Supporters of all time (if you play Sycamore, get out)
N — Best shuffle-draw Supporter of all time
Colress — Go for those greedy draws in a Skyfield-infested metagame
Skyla — Useful in setup style decks alongside Computer Search, or to access Stadiums from the deck
Team Flare Grunt — See an Energy? Say no more!
Brigette — Great for all those Stage 1/Stage 2 setup decks
VS Seeker — Staple in almost every deck in minimum 2-3 counts
Battle Compressor — Key for tossing certain cards in the discard pile
Level Ball — Useful to nab those 90HP> Pokemon
Max Elixir — Attaching extra Energy has never been so easy
Super Rod — A versatile recovery card
Special Charge — Energy recovery now that Puzzle of Time is banned
Float Stone — It’s only been a few months and I miss this card dearly. Basically a staple in any deck that has a retreat cost
Muscle Band — Superior than some counts of Choice Band in most decks
Shaymin-EX — A beautiful setup Pokemon, usually a 1-of in most decks
Jirachi-EX — An EX version of Tapu Lele-GX with lesser HP
Octillery — Your common draw-engine octopus
Exeggcute — Nifty Pokemon with a cute resource-saving ability
Seismitoad-EX — A splashable Item-lock in any deck
Computer Search — A staple of an ACE SPEC
Life Dew — Popular in lock decks with Oranguru UPR, and Sableye DEX
Dowsing Machine — A comparable ACE SPEC to Computer Search, useful in certain decks for niche combat points
Scoop Up Cyclone — Useful in niche strategies to pick-up Pokemon
Strong Energy — A 20+ damage boost adds up in Fighting-type decks
Mystery Energy — Lesser retreat costs for Psychic-type Pokemon
Tropical Beach — This expensive Stadium card will definitely make a splash in setup/mill decks this Regionals
Rough Seas — Great for healing off spread damage from a Tapu Koko, or a Trevenant BREAK
Sky Field — Useful in decks that need more bench space, like Zoroark-GX
Dimension Valley — All of your Psychic attackers can get there A LOT faster now!
These are just a (very) brief list of some of the common cards you’ll see in Expanded, or may have oversighted when crafting your own Expanded list. Try to use cards that aren’t situationally good, because you’re going to have to find multi-purpose cards within Expanded. The amount of scenarios you’ll be put in are unforeseeable, and when you lock in your 60Cards, you’ll only have those tools to defend yourself with. Go on PTCGO, and search through the Expanded card databases for interesting combos you can put into your next deck.
With any decent deckbuilder comes an expectancy of what is going to be played. Here’s a list of some of the concepts that I think will be played. Keep in mind, this list is comprised of decks that have been influenced by the Puzzle of Time, Ghetsis, and Hex Maniac ban:
Archie’s Blastoise — This deck will be played heavily because now that Hex Maniac/Ghetsis are gone, there is very minimal things that can be done to disrupt such a deck. Once it sets up the Blastoise, it’s just non-stop pressure from there!
Night March – Michael Pramawat recently just wrote an article about Night March, and to be honest with you, I’m convinced that this deck is a real contender in the Expanded format. Even with losing Puzzle of Time, you just have to be slightly more careful with resources and you should be fine.
Buzzwole/Lycanroc – This is always a fan favourite because of how good Beast Ring, Max Elixir, and these hard-hitting attackers are. Expect this at all times.
Buzzwole/Garbodor – This is a new kid on the block that has translated over from Standard. With the addition of Strong Energy, I can’t see this deck being bad in a metagame filled with GXs and EXs. Shrine becomes much more effective on several more Pokemon, however there are more Stadiums available to bump the card.
Malamar – Yet another “old” concept translated from Standard, this style of deck has been popular since Eelektrik came out. This deck has been booming in Standard, and has a gauntlet of attackers in Expanded to work out. It’s only a matter of time before we find out what those best attackers are!
Trevenant – The classic spread deck may have lost Wally, but now the opponent can’t Hex Maniac to get out of Forest’s Curse. Trevenant also gains Tapu Lele (Promo) to move damage around the board wherever necessary. It can also use Dimension Valley in order to attack even more efficiently, which is a very scary idea.
Sableye/Garbodor – Ah, the last of the expected forecast from me! Sableye outclasses Wailord for me because you don’t need Tropical Beach to pilot it efficiently, and it also can return resources to the hand (which is extremely powerful in a format where there are no more Puzzle of Time). Having ability-lock in the form of Garbotoxin can become too much for some decks in general, so Sableye often proves itself as resilient throughout various metagames. You just need the moxy (and speed) in order to run this clock-meddling mill-deck.
Here’s a bit of a Sableye/Garbodor deck that I’ve currently been working on. It’s in the very early stages of testing, so there isn’t too much to lament on, but I just wanted all of my readers to know where I’m at in the Expanded processes!
- 4x Sableye
- 2x Garbodor
- 2x Garbodor
- 4x Trubbish
- 1x Shaymin EX
- 1x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Latias EX
- 4x Professor Juniper
- 2x N-supporter
- 1x Gladion
- 1x Team Flare Grunt
- 1x Xerosic
- 1x Delinquent
- 1x Team Rocket's Handiwork
- 1x Life Dew
- 2x Parallel City
- 4x Trainer's Mail
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 2x Crushing Hammer
- 1x Enhanced Hammer
- 3x VS Seeker
- 1x Peeking Red Card
- 3x Float Stone
- 2x Super Rod
- 1x Counter Catcher
- 1x Field Blower
- 2x Trick Shovel
- 1x Guzma
- 2x Darkness Energy
- 4x Blend Energy GRPD
For anybody that’s unfamiliar with the deck, it focusses around Sableye using its Junk Hunt attack in order to recycle disruptive item-cards in an effort to beat down the opponent, and whittle their deck down to zero cards (after a very long game). Due to the recent Puzzle of Time ban, some people are skeptical to give this deck a try, but let me tell you – it barely feels like it lost anything it all! There are a few things you can’t do now (i.e. Puzzle of Time for a Parallel City), however there’s now equally as much things that your opponent can’t do (i.e. Puzzle for two Double Colourless). The only difference? Our opponent lost their entire ability to recover any resources from the discard pile, whereas we lost a single stream of our “access” to discard recovery. This is an uneven tradeoff in my opinion, because being the Sableye player now feels very overwhelming for the opponent, because they now have very few ways to combat the Sableye player’s strategy. I’m not going to go into a crazy amount of detail as to why we play X copies of every card, however I wanted to touch on some of my early findings as more of an intro to this deck. Let’s hope into why I’m diggin’ this junk hunter so much.
Sableye right now is in a position to do well because of its sheer resilience - being able to recycle Life Dew consistently and deny Prize Cards (in a meta game where players are struggling to fit Field Blower into their lists) is a huge factor in the deck’s success. Garbodor being one of the few cards in the format to deny abilities from use is also a massive factor within the deck - considering 90% of most decks are relying on abilities, Garbodor will shut down X percentage of decks. My only issue with the deck is its consistency, and it’s something I’ve been trying to implement within the deck for some time now. Here is the list I’ve been working on below:
These are the consistency counts I’ve been utilizing within the list.
4x Trainer’s Mail
They’re recyclable via Junk Hunt, and can help us to nab Supporters in the early game, or grab us disruptive cards in the late game. This is a vital part of the deck’s engine, so all four copies are essential.
4x Professor Juniper
This could go lower, but realistically it doesn’t matter what cards we dump - almost everything in this list is recyclable via Junk Hunt.
N in combination with Garbotoxin can lock down our opponent when combined with something like Counter Catcher to lock something in the active spot.
Gladion can sometimes fish us something out of our Prize Cards that can get us places (i.e. a Shaymin-EX). We also need it to fish out certain 1-ofs that are trapped in the Prize Cards, since we won’t be drawing many of those.
4x Ultra Ball
The optimal count for getting Pokémon out of our deck - also fantastic for discarding valuable Items in the discard in the early game, only to be used in the mid-late game. It can also search out one of our support Pokémon below!
Shaymin-EX is busted at what it does - in combination with Ultra Ball, you can draw additional cards to get the ball rolling. We only play one copy of this card because it is so fragile and can break our brittle strategy (by giving our opponent such a far lead), but we can always bump it off the bench with Parallel City.
1x Tapu Lele-GX
Tapu Lele services as a massive consistency boost for this deck, but can also double as a disruptive card because it can search out the Supporter cast we need to slow down our opponent (i.e. Team Flare Grunt).
These are just quick jot notes on how I feel about the matchups at hand and what our strategy is. They aren’t fully detailed because I haven’t dwelled into that stage of testing yet, but the insights are valuable.
Archie’s Blastoise - Favourable
We’re going to establish Garbodor ASAP in order to ability lock our opponent. Sableye serves as more of a setup/recover Pokemon Tools card in this matchup. If we can trap the Blastoise with Counter Catcher, we’ll win due to their inability to use Deluge. An intelligent Archie’s player will attack with Blastoise, so be prepared to Trashalanche it with Garbotoxin also in play. This should seal the deal.
Trevenant - Even
We’re going to get Latias-EX out, and force our opponent to attack us with Psywave on Tapu Lele (Promo); this is their only attacker without an ability that can attack Latias-EX. Since they only do 20 damage at a time, we’ll just pick away at their energy the whole time until they run out. If we can’t establish Latias-EX, we’ll lose. If we bench too many Pokémon, we also lose because our opponent can Magical Swap damage from those Pokémon onto Latias and win that way. Those are our only two lose conditions.
Push for Enhanced Hammer while continuously looping Life Dew. Establishing Garbotoxin is also a great idea because Shaymin is how they draw into DCE. Likewise, strand up their Pumpkaboo, and replace their Dimension Valley in order to prevent them from attacking.
Utilize Garbotoxin to shut down their Malamar, and just go for an aggressive Trashalanche strategy early on. This deck will more than likely be packing Field Blower, and we need a combative strategy against that. In order to not get run over, we must attack unless they run out of Blowers.
This is the exact same as the matchup against Night March, you just need to stream Enhanced Hammer and Life Dew in order to delay Prize Cards from being drawn.
I’m still testing a ton of Expanded concepts, as right now it’s my favourite format. I wish Pokémon gave us more opportunities to play in this format, because it’s really a joy when it’s balanced out. The fact that they’re actively banning cards that harm the meta game means that Pokémon is stepping up to give us the most fun games possible (given their tools). I, for one, welcome our Ghetsis-less overlords, even though I LOVED playing that card first turn! As for Portland, you can catch me on PTCGO playing the dark stuff during real Bulu hours. Until then, I’ll catch you all in my next article, where I’ll discuss another deck. Cheers, and remember - get lucky, and run hot!
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02/22/2019 by Jose Marrero // Jose goes over his outstanding Top 4 finish at this past Oceania International Championships. (+36)