Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

Stunting on My EX - Exodia Lock and Donphan Updates

Danny reviews a Glaceon Lock deck and Wobbuffet/Donphan in Expanded!

05/23/2018 by Daniel Altavilla

Hey there, 60Cards readers! I'm in my hotel in Salt Lake City and I thought it would be appropriate to go over my tournament this weekend. I finished at 26th place at the SLC Regional Championship with my Donphan (PS; 72) / Wobbuffet (PHF; 36) build. The deck was very fun to play and it really challenged me as a player to overcome some rough matchups, which was thrilling. There were moments where I felt underwhelmed by the list and moments where I felt perfectly fine with, though I feel some changes definitely deserve to be made with the release of Forbidden Light. I wanted to allow this article to be dedicated to Donphan (PS; 72) / Wobbuffet (PHF; 36) , because after this weekend and with what's to come, the deck just doesn't seem like a bad play.

 I initially received the list from Limitless after seeing that Toby Woolner made 9th place with it, bubbling out with the necessary match point total. This meant that there was potential in the deck that others didn’t recognize, and I immediately looked for holes in the deck’s strategy in order to refine the list for Utah. At first it wasn’t really working out for me -- I thought the Toby list could be played around by a Zoroark that wasn’t held back by Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)  enough to have a big hand. They could simply hit Sky Field, Double Colorless and Guzma every turn they needed until you lose your momentum. Maybe sometimes I can be a little extreme with how hot I think my opponents will actually run, but Expanded Zoroark is actually the one deck that really never whiffs anything. Here’s the initial list for Donphan (PS; 72) :

The strategy behind this list is to keep using Parallel in tandem with Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)  lock to keep your opponent from hitting the Float Stones and being able to OHKO a Donphan (PS; 72) . The main issue with this is that, in Expanded, the big trick to beat Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  is to force them to play two Supporters in one turn for a KO -- since this obviously cannot happen within the rules of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, your opponent cannot take the KO they want. That is why Road Block is so big right now in decks with one-prize attackers -- the trick is, you force your opponent to either take 1 prize or 2HKO the GX/EX on your bench. I can confidently say any deck that is able to accomplish both of these things should be favored against Zoroark, even more so if the one-prizer can threaten an OHKO or at least has a Focus Sash attached to it. 

From this list, we simplified it a bit more and dropped the Parallels for Brooklets. I also found Oranguru UPR to be a way better tech than Bunnelby for the deck, because Guru loops are always viable strategies if your opponent expends enough resources, plus Guru to shuffle in your Items is viable against Drampa/Garb’s strategy. Hoopa was a card I actually thought was genius in the deck after Toby explained it to me -- I was using it to beat Toad decks and to bring up versus Garbodor so they can’t poke it with Lele and Acerola in the same turn. Hoopa is a card I really missed this weekend! 

After working out the kinks with Toby, I was pretty sure that the Donphan (PS; 72)  build I currently had in my hands was the play for Salt Lake. But then it started testing very poorly versus Zoroark, and before tossing the deck to the side and just playing Drampa, I decided to make some big changes. First off, I wanted to run Brooklet and a Sudowoodo over Parallel and Hoopa. With that out of the way, I looked at the supporter counts, and decided 4 Juniper and 4 Korrina would be fine with the 2 N/2 Guzma split and that the list was fairly Red Card/Ghetsis proof, especially when you start Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)  and they can’t use Set Up to dig for the combo and Zoruas at the same time.

Eventually I got tired of always having to discard resources, so I dropped a Juniper for a Colress. Colress is a staple card in the meta right now, and deserves a slot in every Expanded deck that fills their bench with Pokémon. I considered actually putting Juniper at 2 and N up to 3 because I knew I would be using N a lot, but I never tried it because I was skeptical about the consistency with that supporter count. I ended up dropping a Double Colorless for an Energy Loto, which was good in some spots but bad whenever I wanted to use Wreck twice or more in the same game (which came up plenty of times). Wreck is a huge attack for the deck and I admittedly underestimated Wreck’s usefulness in this event. For the future, Wreck seems to remain a strong option to swing a game, so 2 DCE will more than likely be the count over 1 and a Loto.

Here’s the list that Zach Lesage and I streamlined together, which gives us the greatest chance to avoid dead draws off of Red Card/Ghetsis and is just generally consistent. 


The Donphan (PS; 72) , Phanpy, Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)  are all maxed while Lele and Sudowoodo (GRI; null)  are 1-ofs that we are playing. This keeps the deck as streamlined as possible and allows you to not fall victim to dead hands as often as the deck usually would in the past. There’s something really powerful about Brooklet Hill letting you grab half the Basics in your deck that the deck didn't really have before. You can dig out a Phanpy with Brooklet, then a Donphan (PS; 72)  with Korrina or two Phanpys etc. which makes for a large consistency boost. I explained most of the other cuts above, and you can see other consistency options we chose, such as Float Stone maxed and keeping our selection of Basic Pokémon at the bare minimum, so that we don’t have undesirable starters often. We have a pretty good chance of opening a Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)  in our starting hand, and an even better chance of getting a Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)  into the Active Position after our Supporter for turn. I wish there was room for more Ball cards to dig out a Wobbuffet, but usually you just have it off of a Korrina. It hurts when you whiff the t1 Wobbuffet (PHF; 36) , but that happens so little and there’s not much two extra Ball cards can affect with variance anyways, so we just accept the sacrifice and run a 2/1 Ultra Ball/Nest Ball line.

The list was pretty strong overall and rarely disappointed me, though I find it ironic how the games I would draw the worst were against the Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  decks I faced, giving me a scare G1 and G2 before ultimately giving me everything I needed G3. Donphan can definitely have some ugly hands, though no deck is exempt from that. My tournament went pretty well defeating a Seismitoad-EX/ Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) deck my first round of Swiss, going 1-0-1 against Lucario-GX/Buzzwole-GX throughout Swiss, and only dropping one round to a Durant deck that I had unfortunate luck against. The thing I like the most about Donphan (PS; 72)  is that if you run hot enough and play well enough you can finesse your way through any matchup, which is what I had to do Day 2 to attempt to beat 3 Gardevoir-GX decks and a Trevenant deck. I ended up going 0-2-3 on the day, with 2 losses to 2 Gardevoir (as expected, though I brought them to 1 Prize more often than not,) tying the Trev and 3rd Gardy in very close rounds.
Donphan for Roanoke

With the Blue Ridge Regional Championship happening soon, we should look ahead to cards that benefit Donphan (PS; 72)  going into the new set. The one that stands out the most would be Diancie <*>. This card makes it easier to reach an OHKO on Donphan, so I could see a direct drop of the Professor Kukui in favor of Diancie. Alternatively, you could run both to hit larger numbers against Gardevoir and Drampa/Garb, but I was actually thinking of teching a Buzzwole-GX for both of these matchups already. The issue with extra basic Pokemon is obviously the lowering of consistency to start turn 1 Wobbuffet (PHF; 36) , but Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  numbers are dropping a bit for Roanoke so I think now is a better time than ever to play a techier list. I also think it is appropriate to switch the Choice Band/Muscle Band counts to 3/1, because Choice Band is necessary so often to KO a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  and is huge against Tapu Lele-GX, which you aim to two shot in the Drampa/Garbodor matchup. It also makes it easier to reach Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX 2HKOs, which feels like it’ll be more important in this new format. Something admirable about Donphan (PS; 72)  is the prize trade it boasts, making it harder for Beast Ring to swing a game like it would in other matchups. This is another reason to run Buzzwole-GX -- to set up KOs in the Buzzwole matchup and then take a 4-Prize turn to avoid Beast Ring activation. With Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)  shutting off Lycanroc-GX and Octillery your opponent is already going to suffer issues with consistency, granting you the extra time to set up these snipe plays, something attempted but difficult to execute in Standard. 

If you were to play this deck, I would suggest the list posted below. I’ll go over some other options, as well, to give a bit more flexibility -- Donphan (PS; 72)  is a deck that has some flex room and certain techs can honestly make or break a tournament run. For example, if I were running the Buzzwole for Salt Lake City I could see myself defeating the Gardevoir decks more often, setting up KOs and even taking early Jet Punch prizes which fix the prize trade. Buzzwole also puts your opponent at a low prize count earlier so you can start the N/Strafe into Wobb/Pray play which works so well against Ability-reliant decks. 

Other Options For Donphan:

Focus Sash -- This card can be a strong option if you expect to be OHKOd more often in Roanoke. Trends that would make me want to add Sash would be Night March, Buzzwole, and Gardevoir gaining in popularity, though I honestly don’t see them being so big right now to warrant the card’s use. I can see a proper argument for it from both sides though. 

Hoopa SHL -- There is absolutely no reason to count this card out as good in a deck that switches out so often, Hoopa can sneak a win against Toad decks which can’t do any damage to it outside of Laser. A turn one Float Stone on a Hoopa can buy you turns against Seismitoad you otherwise wouldn’t have. Its also just a great option against Buzzwole to just leave it up whenever your opponent can’t Lycanroc and force them to have a Guzma or pass. After four Guzma, your opponent can’t even take prizes anymore! Also a great card versus Gardevoir if they choose to set up Gardevoir over Gallade which can happen based on their hand and is the most ideal card to promote besides Lele against Garbodor/Drampa, being immune to Drampa and Lele and having resistance to trashalanche. Letting Hoopa take a couple hits and then using AZ can buy you so many turns against Garbodor. The card is cut right now because we are already adding two Basics to the list. 

Baby Buzzwole -- A card capable of hitting 190 damage with a Choice Band, Diancie <*> and a Strong Energy, or 210 with another Strong or Kukui is a serious surprise for people. It can swing matchup pretty easily and because your opponent usually has to take a Prize at a time it makes it hard for them to go from 5 prizes to 3, meaning Buzzwole’s damage boost is active most games. It also fits the one Prize agenda and can just swing matchups where you start off rough, giving you a chance to catch up for such a little investment. The only issue with it is yet again the fact it is another Basic. This would probably have to take the place of Buzzwole-GX in the list above, which I can see happening based on personal preference. I like the Spread option right now though, I wanted Jet Punch a few times in Salt Lake, and the option for Absorption as a GX attack the deck doesn’t otherwise have and even Knuckle Impact versus toad and other matchups just makes the GX feel better to me.  

Donphan (PS; 72)  doesn’t need to lay down and die until Expanded rotates! The deck is always a good call because Abilities will always be something big in Expanded. Ability Lock is never an unviable strategy. Speaking of Ability Lock, the next deck I wanted to go over with you all is a deck that attempts to lock the opponent out of the game from Turn 1. It has no real bad matchup for this reason, but can fall flat on it’s face at times and loses hard to turn 1 Hex Maniac. 

Exodia Lock

The Exodia Lock deck was piloted by David Selin, Joel Stroeve and Trevor Bustamante in Costa Mesa and then fixed up and carried over to Salt Lake City Regionals by the same crew. I’m not sure if it made Day 2 at Costa Mesa but they unfortunately whiffed in Salt Lake. I was sitting next to them later into the day though so I know the deck didn’t have an awful showing. The games I saw were just poor on RNG for the Exodia pilot and always ended in scenarios that usually just don’t happen. The deck uses a plethora of draw cards and disruption cards combined with Glaceon-GX’s Freezing Gaze ability to attempt to leave your opponent in a draw/pass scenario early on, which can often mean a t2 or t3 victory. If not, you rinse repeat until they just lose. The interesting thing about this lock is that even the games it doesn’t stick you haven’t lost - you can attempt it again sometimes and leave them without options and Glaceon generally shuts decks down to the point that the early disruption puts you far enough ahead to give you a W. 

I spoke with David and he was kind enough to share the exact list they piloted in Salt Lake along with some words on exactly how the combo works with explanations on the counts, so I decided to just trust in his testing and ask for him to allow me to share his words in this article.  Hopefully this can be a fun new idea for players to try out going into Roanoke! Normally I wouldn’t think twice about a deck like this, but I’m a sucker for any deck with an Exodia strategy. I love being that guy that knocks their opponent out of the game from turn 1, it is such a satisfying feeling not having to play the game and it can be interesting having a long turn 1, usually when an opponent has to sit through such a long turn it can tilt them and because you are locking them into oblivion they were probably already tilted. It takes a strong player to sit a game through and find a way out of the combo, and the notion you can take free wins off of even the best players in the game through the Lock is attractive. Its always good to note that cheesing somebody like Azul with a Lock concept is usually safer than playing him in a 50/50, especially for newer players who simply aren’t at that skill level yet. 

I’ll pass the mic over to David and share the words he wrote on the counts, the exact sequencing for the lock and why some cards are in the list that you wouldn’t expect. 


                                      David Selin on Exodia Lock


  "                                              --- THE COMBO ---

*Beyond Delinquent (BKP; 98)  being one of the last turn actions, these are generally in no particular order* 

- Find a Sky Field since you need to bench quite a few Pokemon.

- If you didn't start Eevee, find a Float Stone for whatever your active is.

- Find an Eevee and either draw into a Water Energy at some point or search for one with Oricorio's Vital Dance; Energy Evolution into Glaceon-GX.

- If the opponent's hand size is greater than 4 (often times it will not be when they get to go first) use Marshadow's Let Loose ability to reduce hand size to 4.

- After the Let Loose, if possible, use Captivating Poké Puff (STS; 99)  to bench a Pokemon and further reduce hand size to 3. 

- Play Delinquent (BKP; 98)  to discard your own Sky Field and force your opponent to discard cards. There are two general scenarios from here:

    1) If Puff ever hit successfully, your opponent now has a 0 card hand. Simply pass and then find a Double Colorless Energy on T2 to begin knocking out any Pokemon they have in play. 

    2) If you Delinquent (BKP; 98)  a hand of 4, your opponent will obviously choose to hold onto the best card remaining. This is where Peeking Red Card comes into play -- use one to check opponent's hand. You are then allowed to decide if their hand is dead, or force them to shuffle in their only card and randomly draw 1. While this isn't a perfect lock and your opponent has the chance of just drawing out of it immediately, a hugely significant amount of the time you'll hear "draw, pass" and then you may proceed to Frost Bullet until the game ends. It is also worth noting you may play multiple Peeking Red Cards in succession, if your opponent is fortunate enough to draw a Juniper as their only card, you often can play a second and force them to shuffle once again.

            While this combo does have quite a few moving parts, it isn't particularly difficult to pull off, as the entire deck is basically the pieces you need to hit and draw power to find them.  

                                          --- IMPORTANT CARDS ---

3-2 Glaceon GX (UPR; 141) : Glaceon's Freezing Gaze Ability completely denies both Tapu Lele GX and Shaymin EX as immediate outs to the lock. While Frost Bullet's 90-30 may seem like mediocre damage, it's just enough to knock out weak basics and set up a Polar Spear GX to finish off the game as early as possible. The thin line may seem weird but space is a major issue in the deck and the entire concept is to go all in on the combo T1 so setting up a second Glaceon will rarely matter. Fun fact: I actually opted to play the older FFI Eevees despite the lower HP as the lower retreat cost did come up once in testing. 

4 Unown: Not only does Farewell Letter yield more draw power, something the deck desperately craves, it relieves itself of a bench slot which is majorly relevant against arguably the biggest threat to the deck, Sudowoodo GRI 66. This deck has no answer to Road Block and can often struggle to find all the combo pieces with a maximum bench size of 4. While Unown doesn't completely circumvent this issue, it does make it more feasible for you to find everything you need.

1 Mewtwo EX (ND; 54) : Definitely the inclusion most people questioned, mainly with ‘Why not just play Lele?’. We have enough draw power to consistently find our Delinquent (BKP; 98)  when necessary so the difference comes down to Mewtwo's ability to hit for weakness. The only relevant deck our group has decided Exodia consistently loses to is Drampa/Garb, since it has everything our deck does not want to see (energy removal, ability lock, Parallel city, Sudowoodo (GRI; null) , attack-based draw power, and Trashalanche which will basically always deal well over 200 damage). Mewtwo EX with a DCE will one shot a Trashalanche Garbodor with a single energy attached from full, something the deck could absolutely not deal with before the addition. It also one shots Trubbishes for a single DCE, cleans up/sets up Frost Bullet KO's on things like Tapu Lele GX, and is extremely important against the likes of Buzzwole GX which can be potentially problematic.

 2 Captivating Poké Puff (STS; 99) : While not the most reliable card in the deck, if you can drop your opponent's hand size to 3 and then Delinquent (BKP; 98)  away all of their resources, you generally will just win the game immediately. It is worth noting even if you aren't able to bench a Pokemon, this card will always thin itself out of your hand (assuming your opponent has a hand at all) and gives you information as to whether or not you need to find a Peeking Red Card that turn.

 4 Peeking Red Card (CIN; 97) : The heart and soul of the deck. In the original version of the list played in Costa Mesa we opted to play 0 of these in lieu of several copies of Tormenting Spray (zero cards is better than one, right?). However, we soon realized a Let Loose into a hand of let's say Professor Juniper, VS Seeker, and 2 random cards would never actually lock the opponent out of the game, granted they had any idea what was coming, as Tormenting Spray can never discard VS Seeker as it isn't a supporter itself. Thus we've arrived at 4 Peeking Red Card, so the deck effectively will force your opponent to shuffle, draw 1 card, and pray either that card or the top deck lets them even play the game. There is also the chance Let Loose gives your opponent 4 useless cards in which case you can just fail the Peeking Red Card and let them hold onto whatever junk remains.

 4 Repeat Ball: A later addition to the deck ultimately replacing Roller Skates as draw power, we've opted for more search cards instead. Repeat Ball gives you significantly more outs to finding Shaymin EX once you've already played one, can flood your field with Unowns, or can simply be failed to lower your hand size for Set Up. 

1 Assault Vest (BKT; 133) : Our trial run of the deck at Costa Mesa brought to light a few issues with the deck we've since addressed, one being Lele stacking as a legitimate threat. A huge portion of the Expanded metagame plays both Tapu Lele GX and Double Colorless Energy so the odds of your opponent announcing "Energy Drive" as early as T1 are quite high. Since the deck is incapable of on shotting a Lele from full, Energy Drive damage can add up quickly since you'll have at least 1 turn with 3 energy attached to your Glaceon with no way of dealing with the Lele that turn. Assault Vest (BKT; 133)  destroys the math your opponent needs to pressure you with Energy Drive (generally 20 with just a Water and 60 with Water and DCE, neither of which is particularly threatening). 

1 Bent Spoon (FCO; 93) : Another tech with the Drampa/Garb match-up in mind, as this deck has no energy recovery whatsoever so one or two Righteous Edges can often simply run you out of attacking options. Spoon has a multitude of very random uses, preventing paralysis from the likes of Zorua/Froakie/Ralts, Rip Claw effects, sleep or confusion, and so on."

David did a great job of going over the deck. He makes it seem like such an easy combo to pull off instead of making it sound difficult and daunting. If I was just getting into the Expanded format or usually didn’t like playing Expanded events, this deck would change my mind. I think this just shows that David and his testing group are going to have some really strong ideas in the future and they should all be on people’s radars. 


That’s all I have for you going into Roanoke, I think both of these decks are as competitive as they are fun and they just show just exactly how expansive the Expanded format can be. Aggressive decks, comeback decks, Item/Ability Lock decks, older concepts coming back into play, and decks that aim to have complete control over the entire game all exist together and mesh into a format that stays fun even when it can be one-sided at times. I hope to see everybody at the Blue Ridge Regional, please say hi to me and to my Sponsor Pro-Play Games who will be vending the event! Best of luck to everybody!

- Daniel Altavilla

[+24] okko


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