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Jay Lesage

"Teaching an Old Stoutland New Tricks" - Seismitoad in Expanded

Seismitoad EX sound familiar? Jay takes a look at a familiar archetype with a brand new twist!

03/01/2017 by Jay Lesage

Hey there 60 Cards! I've loaded up my PTCGO account and played quite a few games with the new TCG Sun and Moon expansion, and let me tell you -- I'm having an absolute blast. Pokemon feels like a brand new game to me, and I have high hopes for this format in the ongoing months. The sheer quality of cards being pushed out by the creators are marvelous, whether it's the resiliant Lurantis GX, or the pseudo-Crobat PLF card, Decidueye GX! Many cards have been hyped up upon the release of this glorious set, and there were a lot of “myths” per-say to debunk. I've been working overtime with these card concepts and theories to truly see what works, and I can gladly say creativity is back.

Today, I'll be bringing in one brand new concept, as well as a revitalized older concept, both who will see success within this upcoming metagame. Since I won't be able to attend Anaheim Regionals this year, I'm setting my sights over to St. Louis, a Regional Championships that I've never personally attended; needless to say, I couldn't be any more happier. In preparation for that format, I'll be playing in Expanded, my favourite format to play in overall. It's very exciting to play in Expanded, especially being a player from Canada where we're drowning in Standard events, and Expanded events are essentially barren (barring our upcoming Regionals). I feel as a player I'm much more comfortable in Standard, so in order to break out of my Expanded shell so-to-speak, I've launched a card-search expenditure, beginning with the oldest set, Black and White, and looking onwards to the newest precedent, Sun and Moon. Without further adieu, let's dwell into the new waters Expanded has to offer.

Seismitoad/Garbodor

Strategy

You'll notice a common trend with today's article -- all of my lists will be based around Seismitoad EX, because with Sun and Moon, I feel as if Toad got the absolute boost it deserved (as if it really needed one though). Reminiscent of when Jason Klaczynski won US Nationals in 2015, this deck packed a punch out of nowhere, and I firmly believe that this deck can have that very same surprise factor with a few new toys. Seismitoad is everybody's Item-locking nightmare, being able to “brick” opponents as soon as the first turn, where they can't perform optimally because they can't play the neccessary cards. When explaining Pokemon to my friends who don't play Pokemon, I use the following analogy:

“If Pokemon decks were to be a vehicle, the Pokemon would be the body, the Trainers would be the engine, and the Energy would be gasoline.”

By this testament, when Seismitoad attacks the opponent, their car won't be able to start because it'll have no engine. The same premise goes for their gasoline – without the neccessary energy to attack (or the ability to draw into energy) they simply won't be able to move. If you're able to knock out their main attackers, their car won't have a body either, and a Garbodor on your bench also puts fog around their car so that they can't see. I hope my opponent isn't playing a blinged up deck, because if so, their $400,000 White Ferrari Spider LS will never get out of the parking lot. Seismitoad has also been notorious for being one of the most annoying decks to play against, and part of what makes this deck special is how much it can put our opponents on tilt. The main strategy of the deck is to begin with Seismitoad EX, abuse Quaking Punch alongside disruptive Trainer cards, and to whittle away at our opponent's bulky Pokemon with poison. Yes, you've heard me right – poison; poison hasn't seen much play in Expanded lately, but I feel like with the release of Poison Barb, you'll see a comeback being made. I'll talk more about Poison Barb in a little bit, but essentially we abuse damage via Special Conditions, which become very tricky to remove when you can't play cards like Switch or Float Stone. Tauros GX and Mewtwo EX are backup Pokemon to counter very specific decks, and we couple all of this with Garbodor to neuter popular abilities.

Key Cards

1 Jirachi EX

Jirachi EX is a beautiful inclusion in decks like this because it allows you to open up your deck to more search viability. Being able to be searched for with Ultra Ball is amazing, and helps to improve your consistency. Once you've played your first draw-Supporter, all four VS Seekers become draw cards as well, and optimally boosts your ability to draw cards as a whole. Since Seismitoad plays a lot of situational Supporters, it's key to have access to them when you need them. Although we play Garbodor, this is a very good card to have in your deck, especially because in some matchups we won't need to use Garbodor.

2-2 Garbodor

Garbodor is sheerly in here to shut down hurtful Abilities to our decks core strategy, such as Keldeo EX's Rush In, or Greninja Break's Giant Water Shuriken. It also voids Virizion EX's Verdant Wind ability, and mainly helps us to keep poison on the board. On an aside, Garbodor also allows us to control our opponent's Shaymin EX, Hoopa EX, and Jirachi EX drops, considering all of them won't work when Garbotoxin is active. Everybody loves a good sack of trash!

2 Tauros GX (+1 Ninja Boy)

The new kid on the block! Tauros EX packs quite the punch, and is insane in this deck! I've included Ninja Boy in this entry, just because Ninja Boy is in here solely for Tauros GX. In the Trevenant matchup, a single lone Tauros GX can prove to be devastating for our opponent who can only deal 60 maximum damage per turn. Rage will eventually catch up to them, and Mad Bull is an insane GX attack that can essentially take down any threat that may harm our Seismitoads. Overall, this is a very good card to clean up a matchup with, and usually takes my final Prize Cards for me in the ending stages of the game. Ninja Boy not only aids us in surprise Tauros plays, but also rids our board of easy targets like Shaymin and Jirachi (while also allowing us to replay their precious abilities). Ninja Boy has many other niche uses, but comes up short when a Tauros is prized, in our hand, or already in play; this is the main reason why we play two.

1 Mewtwo EX

A subsidiary of the Tauros/Ninja Boy combo, Mewtwo provides a similar purpose, but is more independant than a Tauros. Mewtwo is able to attack without any other variable, whereas Tauros depends on already being pre-damaged and is therefore less vulnerable. Mewtwo is able to take down various high-energy threats (I'm looking at you, Yveltal and Groudon) while also neutralizing common threats, such as Gallade and opposing Mewtwo. Combined with Super Scoop Up and poison damage, Mewtwo provides to be a staple in most Seismitoad decks. I considered Lugia EX because of it's strong secondary attack, Deep Hurricane, however I disliked how it couldn't OHKO the before-mentioned threats in a single hit. After intense thoughts and brainstorming, I deemed Mewtwo the better fit.

3 Hypnotoxic Laser, 3 Virbank City Gym, 2 Poison Barb

Poison seems very good on paper, but before we talk about why this combination is so broken, we must address it's main weaknesses. You can remove poison by doing the following actions:

>moving a Pokemon to the bench

>evolving the active Pokemon

>devolving the active Pokemon

>Virizion EX's “Verdant Wind” ability

>picking a Pokemon up to your hand (think AZ, Scoop Up Cyclone, etc.)

>Supporter cards such as Pokemon Centre Lady

We must be able to answer as many of those as possible in order to keep the poison on the opponent's Active Pokemon. This job is constructed very faithfully to deal with the majority of common scenarios in the Expanded format, but with as wide of a card pool that we have in this game, some of these situations are just unforseeable. We're able to prevent situations by negating abilities with Garbodor, preventing Items via Seismitoad's Quaking Punch, and sometimes prevent retreating with Hypnotoxic Laser's sleep effect. Now that our opponent's Active is trapped, we can inflict poison on them with either Laser or Poison Barb, both with their individual benefits. Hypnotoxic Laser is a card that we can play whenever it's relevant -- with Virbank City Gym in play, poison essentially triples, and is able to pile up damage quite quickly. Poison Barb though, however, takes place coming back into your turn, so if your opponent is unable to get rid of your Virbank City Gym on their turn, and choose to attack you, then they'll be forced to take 60 additional poison damage that otherwise is unpreventable. On top of that, they'll also be struck with 30 damage from Quaking Punch, and life just seems too good to be true.

1 Ghetsis

Ghetsis is a phenomenal card that's seeing a decline of play currently (for reasons that I'm unsure of). This miracle of a card is a saviour when it comes to moments where you're unable to use Quaking Punch; if we can't prevent our opponent from playing Items, then let's just make sure they have no Item cards available to play. When we attack with Tauros GX or Mewtwo EX, it's very important that we try to combo this with a Ghetsis to ensure that our opponent can't explode their setup exponentially the following turn. Ghetsis is also a searchable tool with Jirachi EX, and can sometimes be crippling to our opponent; I've even seen friends on stream become straight devastated by a turn one Ghetsis from the opponent, just to reduce their hand to zero. Just a simply decimating card.

1 Team Flare Grunt, 1 Xerosic, 1 Enhanced Hammer

The first two are excellent cards for recycling energy-denial due to the almighty VS Seeker. A single copy of Enhanced Hammer is included because disruption cards work in numbers; as my friends in the US always told me, “a slap to the face may hurt, but a slap on a bruise will hurt even harder.” Over the course of the game, these disruptive cards truly add up, and will most likely convert into many wins. Seismitoad decks tend to be grindy, and the longer the game, the more potent these cards become.

3 Super Scoop Up, 1 AZ

With our onslaught of Pokemon Tools at our disposal, it's nice to be able to alternate between them by picking up our Pokemon. Coincidentally, it's very difficult to score OHKO's underneath Item-lock, so Super Scoop Up acts as a healing card simultaneously. Not only that, but it can help us to reuse valuable abilities, such as Shaymin or Jirachi. This card is so versatile, it can even pick up a Garbodor in order to allow us to use abilities that turn. Go figure!

Cards to consider: More healing cards (Pokemon Centre Lady, Olympia), fourth Virbank City Gym, fourth Hypnotoxic Laser, Delinquent, Lugia EX, fourth Super Scoop Up.

The majority of the rest of the cards are typical counts for a Seismitoad EX deck, and show throughout when you play the deck. It's almost like the entire deck just comes together once you give it a shot; it's extremely consistent, and more reactive than other Seismitoad based decks. This list gives Yveltal/Maxie's based decks a run for their money, while also allowing you to poison opposing Item-locking decks without the use of an Item card. That factor alone is one of the instantaneous reasons why I enjoy this deck so much, and it thrills me every time I play it. The other really strong thing about this list, is that while it is threatened by Jirachi Promo, after a Stardust attack, the Jirachi will become poisoned, and will perish efficiently going back into the opponent's turn. Things like Accelgor give this deck an impossibly hard time, but versus decks like Turbo Dark and Raikou/Eels, we should stand a very good chance against these based on our ability to slow the game down. These decks tend to rely heavily on Item-based engines, and after turn one, they'll struggle immensely. Trevenant seems to be a bit of a tricky matchup, but it involves an onslaught of Poison Barb and a Tauros GX -- if the opponent ever opts to use Tree Slam, they'll become poisoned. This forces them to use Silent Fear, which isn't strong enough to stop enough Rage attacks. Ninja Boy and AZ will tend to be your best friends in this matchup. Lastly, against Greninja, it's key to get a Garbodor up very promptly, and to abuse your Tauros' attacks to score KO's on Froakie/Frogardier in the early stages of the game. Save your GX attack to OHKO the Break, and use Lysandre to avoid touching any of those harmful Bursting Balloon.

Seismitoad/Decidueye

Strategy

This a concept most players are familiar with when entering the Sun and Moon Expanded format – but I feel as if this deck is lacking something in terms of damage output. The main strategy mirrors that of Seismitoad/Crobat: use Quaking Punch to lock down your opponent and limit their play, while using multiple Decidueye to snipe the opposing bench. This is an extremely effective strategy on paper, but in a very obscure way, I feel as if Toad/Bats is slightly better (we'll talk about this more in detail a little bit later in the article). Each Toad variant poses it's own strength, but this decks strength mostly lies in it's ability to abuse Lysandre in a defensive way. The ideal strategy (as opposed to the traditional strategy) would be to Lysandre a heavy target, and spam Decidueye's ability until all six Prize Cards are taken – this is exponentially easy because of how hard it is for your opponent to retaliate. Without access to cards such as Switch, Escape Rope, or VS Seeker to recycle Olympia, their chances of escaping the Active position look bleaker by the second. In theory, this deck should play maybe a third Lysandre in order to pull off this play more frequently. Let's go over some of the main cards in this list:

Key Cards

3-3-3 Decidueye GX

I've opted to play a 3-3-3 line of our feathery friend, mostly due to space constraints. I've seen some of the Japanese beta lists playing a 4-4-4 line of Decidueye, but personally I think when coupled with a few Revitalizer, it makes for a bit of clunkiness. At that point, your dedicating 14 cards to a Pokemon that's very powerful, but just aids your common strategy. While I say this, I'm also biting my tongue vividly because it's also the cornerstone of your deck in relation to damage output – without it's ability, you're maxing out at 50 damage a turn with a Muscle Band attached to your Seismitoad. Although Item-lock is one of the strongest locks in the game, it isn't strong enough for 50 damage to last you the entire game. Hollow Hunt allows you to recycle tons of valuable cards (such as VS Seeker...) that'll allow you to close out the game. As talked about earlier, I enjoy using this attack on the same turn that I use a Ghetsis – it's devastating to the opponent, and may even potentially brick them. If you've ever tried to take down a 240 HP Decidueye, it isn't fun; it requires an Yveltal EX so many energy, it's insane. While a Double Colourless Energy and a Grass may seem like a far time away, it's very obtainable and honestly packs quite a punch when neccessary. This also helps to counter Seismitoad based decks in the mirror match!

4 Forest of Giant Plants, 4 Trainer's Mail

Although it may seem like overkill, if you don't draw into this card within the first few points of the game, your deck while pivot into a nosedive. A tad exaggerative, but it's important you draw this card in order to flood your field with Owls very quickly. If you can start with this card, you'll notice the pressure your opponent feels is exponential compared to drawing into this on the second turn of the game. It's important to conserve a few of these throughout the game, because an AZ on an Owl to reset the ability can be gamebreaking – a measly 20 damage can mean the win or not. It's also important to hold onto a copy of this card so that you can counter your opponent's Parallel City. 4 Trainer's Mail are key in order to reach extra far for those copies of Forest, but they also serve a dual-purpose as extra consistency cards. Voila!

1 Muscle Band, 1 Fighting Fury Belt

In this deck, I mimicked something similar to what my friend Kian Amini made – he played Yveltal/Maxie's with a copy of each tool. I thought this was “anti-aesthetical” and borderline garbage, but upon playing it I realize that it's optimal because it allows for lots of flexibility. The versatility in Expanded is just as important as consistency, and this card count allows for just that. I've considered cutting out the Fighting Fury Belt in favour of a second Muscle Band in order to get that little extra umph that I've been looking for, but for now the extra HP helps Toad's durability in the early game. Once you establish a lead, the damage output isn't as relevant. Being able to do 110 with an Owlunderneath ability lock is also a very beneficial case made for including Muscle Band.

2 Revitalizer

Revitalizer is an absolutely amazing inclusion in any deck that includes non-Basic Grass Pokemon! I figure either playing two copies of this card, or one copy accompanied by a Super Rod are the ideal counts of recovery in this deck. I've attempted to play a singleton copy of this card, and it didn't work out because I felt like either a: I never drew the card, or b: it was in the Prize Cards at the worst time. I feel like it is a possible cut, but not quite far enough to be called a “luxury” card. Setting up Owls are vital in any matchup, so I'd be preserving these in your hand whenever applicable, and use N to keep this in your deck as opposed to discarding these with Juniper.

1 AZ

This is a card that I feel extremely torn on, because the more I play the deck, the more I realize how powerful it is. It's able to pickup a card to heal it, reuse the ability, remove it from the Active spot, or any combination of the above. I've considered adding in an extra copy into the deck in order to see if it aids me in spamming more of the Owl's ability – but would it clog my deck up? I'm beginning to think less of that, as I can simply use a copy of Battle Compressor to discard an AZ during my initial deck setup. Multiple times, my opponent has played Lysandre on my Decidueye, and it's been stranded up Active due to lack of response from myself; needless to say, you can see why this would be quite frustrating. A second AZ is on my want list for Christmas this year for sure.

2 Battle Compressor

I thoroughly love Battle Compressor as a card, and I'd love a reprint in the Standard format. In the meantime while I pray for that miracle, we can look into how it can benefit us in setting up. By abusing Battle Compressor's discarding power, we can chuck some of our Owl line into the discard pile in order to return it into our hand later with a handy Revitalizer. This card is also handy to discard singelton supporter cards like AZ into the discard pile, and resuse them later with a more-so versatile VS Seeker.

4 Ultra Ball, 2 Level Ball

This is something very small in the list that makes an exponential difference – I've been toying around with the counts of Level Ball, and I'm considering cards like Pokemon Communication as well as one or more copies of Timer Ball. The reason for this is because the quicker you can get your Owls out, the faster your damage output, and the more disruptive you can be. “Ball” cards tend to be deck thinners, and can also assist you in drawing specific cards later.By that merit, they're also some of the most versatile cards in the deck depending on how you structure them into your list. Playing deck thinning cards are especially important in Forest of Giant Plants-based decks, majorly due to the fact that these decks are sequential; you need Forest fo Giant Plants in play in order to operate optimally. I know that I've touched on this briefly earlier, but I can't stress it enough! Two copies of Level Ball seems fine for now, but I'll surely be looking into how I can improve the overall speed of this deck.

3 Grass Energy

Hollow Hunt is a phenomenal GX attack, especially when combined with Ghetsis (can you tell I love Ghetsis?). Three Grass allows us to potentially use Quaking Punch with Basic Energies, while also being able to use Decidueye's Hollow Hunt attack in the same game.

Cards to consider: Lugia EX, Tauros GX, Super Rod, second AZ, Team Flare Grunt, fourth line of Decidueye GX.

Overall, this deck seems very good on paper, but it just seems like an overall bust in my opinion. A few weaknesses that this deck poses is that it's sequential; as stated multiple times, this deck relies on Forest of Giant Plants in order to explode and capitalize on the first turn. Otherwise, you're left with an underdeveloped field, and an extremely low damage output. Unless starting first against Yveltal/Maxie's, an Archeops will absolutely stunt your Owl's growth, and that's just no fun. In summary, I could sit here and talk all day about variables that can threaten this deck – but in perfect vision, I can say that this deck's main problem is that it doesn't supply enough pressure. You can give up a few Prize Cards against this deck, and still come back just because their Seismitoad EX caps at 50 damage (with a Muscle Band), and they'll only have access to 1 or 2 Owls on the bench. This deck needs supplemental damage (think Hypnotoxic Laser, Kukui), but just can't fit the cards in. This deck could also benefit from a bigger bench (think Skyfield), but needs to abuse a different Stadium card in it's place. This deck could benefit from healing cards (think Pokemon Centre Lady, Super Scoop Up, Olympia) but it needs to play more explosive Supporter cards in order to setup. Something like a Tauros GX or a Lugia EX would be nice in here, but this list was made just for the sheer purpose of seeing how quickly I could possibly setup. I won't be touching this deck for any nearby tournament, but that doesn't mean to take your eye off of it: innovation is always present in Pokemon. Remain vigilent, and look for ways to bust this unique spin on the traditional Seismitoad/Crobat deck.

An Aside on Versatility

As I'm writing this article, Pokemon released that they're awarding the Top 16 in most rating zones with travel to the 2017 Oceania International Championships! While I'm very excited to attend this prestigious tournament and compete for another title, there's a valuable lesson in this: always be prepared. I was steadily practicing the Expanded format for the upcoming St. Louis Regional Championships, once I realized that Australia was unobtainable for me. That's the reason I had so much insight on this article: I had debunked so many Toad myths, and had innovated some new concepts to bring to the Expanded table. However, now that Australia is back on, I'm going to be rushing into a new Sun and Moon Standard format that I'm slightly unprepared for. My new rule of thumb is to remain brushed up on as many concepts as possible in both formats, because there's always links between Standard and Expanded.

One example of this can be how Greninja came over from the Standard format over to the Expanded format with one phrase: “why wouldn't this work in Expanded”? You can question any deck in this way, and keep on reinventing the wheel with pizazz. In Pokemon, anything's really possible, and it's true that you can teach an old Stoutland new tricks. Hence the premise for this article, it's important to revisit older decks from time to time because they can surprise you – take David Cohen at the 2011 World Championships. I hadn't seen MagneBoar on the competitive scene in a while because it was phased by the likes of Donphan Prime, as well as de-evolution cards like Jirachi. However, David found his way around these threats, and ended up becoming the world champion over his opponent, Ross Cawthon. Just like how I stated at the beginning of this article, Jason Klaczynski brought back Seismitoad/Garbodor for US Nationals, and ended up reigning supreme over Enrique Avila to win his first National Championships. There's tons of examples throughout the history of the game, but who knows – you could add a new chapter to that texbook, you'll just have to try!

Solar Eclipse in the Outback

With a smooth segway over to the end of this lengthy article, did I mention I'm going to Australia?! This has always been a dream of mine, and Pokemon's never let me down in terms of making those dreams come true. I love this season because it's allowing travel to deeply trail the competitive scene; while this is a negative thing cost-wise, it's given me more experiences than I've ever had opportunities in what I call “the real world”. I'm now looking to complete a goal of 100 games of Pokemon a week testing new decks, just to ensure that I'm prepared for this monstrously-large event! London took me by surprise when I attended, mostly due to how high the skill level was. Since Pokemon is flying every top contender from each rating zone, these International Championships transfer over from national-level events to global-level events. In the later rounds, almost every single player you play against will be of World's callibur, and the only way I can prepare for that is by knowing this game better than them.

Regardless of all of this competitiveness, I'm very excited to be competing within the next month! I need to quickly grab my ETA (my VISA equivalent for the commons) and get my families flights booked as well! Pokemon's been a little slow with the info, but I can't complain when I'm getting a free trip across the globe. Also very key to note is how Pokemon has been handling travel awards – this free trip to Australia also alludes to Pokemon awarding top contenders the same/similar awards for the following International Championships, taking place in Sao Paolo, Brazil! Thanks for reading my insights into the Expanded format, I hope my studies can benefit somebody going to an Expanded tournament in the next few weeks. It may seem cheesy, but I'll leave you with this – when you're not practicing, somebody else is.

- Jacob Lesage

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