Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

The Szechuan SAUCE - List Dump, Hindsight and Foresight, Morty!

Daniel Altavilla reports on his last two Expanded tournament decks, fixes them and discusses future plays for Expanded with a sprinkle of Standard.

15. 04. 2017 by Daniel Altavilla

Hey 60Cards readers! Daniel Altavilla here, fresh off of an interesting occurrence in Portland. It seems that the meta was defined in Expanded for once! Our results from St. Louis showed us that M Rayquaza-EX was a great deck in a meta that was mostly blind. Due to the lack of Expanded events, we only had articles, Youtube videos and general knowledge of the history of Expanded to go off of for this tournament. That's why a deck like M Gardevoir-EX was such an attractive choice for the tournament-- when you aren't sure what the meta is, you want to be able to beat as much as possible. These two Mega Pokemon aren't the only ones that received a buff in a blind meta--Volcanion-EX was also able to pick up some steam (pun absolutely intended) and took a 3rd place finish. 

The interesting thing about this tournament is that in blind Expanded fashion, there was a solid presence of each archetype in the room. We even received some new archetypes and some new ways to play old ones, with Aerodactyl/Maxie's or Vileplume/Lurantis and with Vespiquen/Herdier or Yveltal/Maxie's with an Oranguru tech. It goes to show that when you face 2 or less of each deck on a given day, you're bound to have a hot run if your deck allows!

Now, not to throw shots at fellow 60Cards writer Alex Wilson, as I've faced him before and he is a strong player, and definitely not throwing shots at veteran player and HeyTrainer mogul John Kettler,  and lastly not taking a stab at Rahul or John S., but I feel that the top 4 in St. Louis was a fluke. Alex played M Rayquaza to a 27-point finish in day 1, meaning he needed to go 1-3-1 day 2 in order to solidify a spot in top 8. It's pretty hard to not go 1-3-1 with a deck that has half a game plan of just going first and using Hex Maniac. His Day 1 success may have been a result of hitting a field filled with Volcanion, M Gardevoir-EX and other fringe decks that don't often see play. I would say that Rahul had the same amount of success with his Volcanion deck. Nobody was teched for it and nobody had a very strong game plan besides the one known to us in Standard, so he was able to take advantage of this to the fullest extent. John S. admits that he is a fairly new player and that he was just playing Night March. John Kettler took a standard archetype into expanded and had success based on nobody preparing for it (or expecting it) in the room. All these players know how to pilot their decks, and they are all strong forces, but let's face it--Night March is the only deck out of the 4 that has any sort of longevity in the Expanded format.

Fast forward to Portland Regionals and you can see what I mean--Night March was the only of these 4 decks in Day 2. We may not have had the same volume of people running the decks or we may not have had the most skilled players piloting them, and if we did maybe they just had awful luck or fell prey to the one bane they all have in common--Hex Maniac--but the point stands that we had 0 of them in Day 2. This is a rare occurence as I don't remember this happening last year. Crazy decks sneak into day 2 all the time, but some of the crazy decks that reach top 8 status are still piloted by a decent amount of players! When Grafton Roll made Greninja for Florida Regionals last year and brought it to day 2, he essentially brought the archetype to the forefront for everybody. It become a top deck. When Ross Cawthon made two top 8s with Accelgor Wobb, people piloted the deck to success elsewhere. When Kevin Baxter innovated 2 Wobb and 2 copies of Tropical Beach in Vespiquen to combat Archeops and inconsistent draws, the deck took a 2nd place finish on the next weekend.

So why is it that when 3 decks receive so much hype, 0 of them make Day 2? We have to assume that the decks are just too gimmicky to survive when people have adequate time to prepare for them, which drops them into a similar category with Trevenant and Greninja, decks that seem to only receive success when they're under the radar.

Anyways, let's put my incessant rambling to rest and get into a couple tournament reports. I feel that tournament reports are losing their allure and that players are caring less about how one another finishes if not in the top 8 or dangerously close (see: Jon Eng), but as the malleable Expanded format continues to shift it's important to see trends and to know how effectively certain lists play out. I'm going to do this in a what I played/what I should've played/what I would play now format in order to keep the info relevant.

St. Louis: Herdier is kind of like a Meeseeks

For this tournament I had tested M Gardevoir-EX/Max Potion/Dimension Valley for the longest. I fixed the list up more and more with time and eventually I had what I considered to be the perfect list for the deck. I was outplaying people and really piloting it well. The issue I had with it was there were games I didn't get to outplay my opponents--the ones where I bricked so hard I had no hope of catching up! It happened so often that I went to my 2nd pick for the tournament--Vespiquen/Flareon/Herdier.

A 2-2 Herdier line and a Paint Roller along with a Rattata EVO and Oranguru SUM are the only real changes to a traditional Vespiquen deck that the list I ran played. Phinnegan Lynch came up with these changes when he was running the deck in Anaheim, and he brought it into Expanded with Life Dew and Battle Compressor to enhance the deck tenfold. I feel that Herdier is an amazing card and I really don't see Vespiquen being a strong deck without it. The reasoning for the card was explained by Phinn in one of his Cut or Tap articles--it can just get back Battle Compressor when you get hit by Karen and it can retrieve Life Dew to win prize trades and Paint Roller to bump Silent Lab and be able to dig with Shaymin. Most of the time I used the card in St. Louis, I grabbed an Ultra Ball or a VS Seeker (I found myself using Hex Maniac or Teammates often). On paper the card doesn't seem as good as it could be if it were just a 4th VS Seeker and some different Pokemon slots, but in practice it's very relevant most of the time.

In Bees, you often find yourself needing a 2 or 3 card combo to gain board advantage for a turn or two. For example, a Hex Maniac to shut off Archeops but also 2 evolutions for Combee and Eevee; or an AZ for Wobb but a way to also dig out Shaymin-EX and then ultimately a Double Colorless Energy. If you were able to run 6 Battle Compressor, you would have them in your hand always, sure, but would you always need them? Herdier essentially becomes a 4th VS Seeker and 2nd Life Dew or a 5th Ultra Ball and 5th Battle Compressor or even a 2nd and 3rd Paint Roller! When you see the card as leniency towards retrieving your outs instead of just an extra finite resource, it looks way more attractive!

I ended up dropping Oranguru SUM and Rattata EVO for a Tauros GX and a Startling Megaphone. I took out the 2nd N I was playing for a Teammates, and I'm pretty sure I fit an AZ in somewhere. These last minute changes had me feeling comfortable, but I knew after I was able to observe the meta that I would notice my list's imperfections. This is the list I ran for St. Louis:

The list I should've played:

This list essentially had a counter for the entire field. You have 30 Pokemon to keep your numbers up to par with GX Pokemon and Fighting Fury Belt, but you also have Milotic to grab Rattata EVO to keep discarding tools as you see fit. At the cost of setting Darkrai-EX up for stronger Night Spear math, you get even more lenience while playing the game. You have to discard 4 Vespiquen in your opening hand with Sycamore? No worries, I'll just grab one back out for you so you have 4 attackers this game. Oh, you seem to not be able to grab Pokemon Ranger under Quaking Punch lock! No problem, I'll take that right out for you. What's that, you need a Double Colorless Energy in hand rather than 2 in deck? Here you go!

Milotic just makes more sense than Herdier. I understand where Phinn is coming from--rarely do you ever need a card that isn't an item to pull your games out. But in those grindy games where you absolutely can't close it out without having access to the exact precise combos, Milotic will be your best friend. And these games come up way more than you would expect them to! For example, you can Milotic for Parallel, play Parallel on yourself, and randomly discard 3 Pokemon off of your bench (a Milotic and an EX probably) to get a surprise Silver Bangle on the field (essentially!). Or you can Milotic for Unown in situations where you need to dig for one card with Sycamore but you have 9 cards left in deck and you need 2 turns to win. These situations pop up so frequently and unexpectedly that I would often appreciate Milotic over Herdier.

Not to mention that versus Turbo Dark, they don't even have the capability of drawing 6 Prizes against you. I only drop games to it when my attackers are all hiding in the Prizes or when they just out-consistency me. This being said, I'm totally fine letting my Feebas get sniped and having another Pokemon placed into my discard for me, assuming I didn't have the means to do it myself or I just wanted to N them to 1 later in the game. (2 prize turn sets them to an essential 7th prize game)

Another issue in the tournament was the lack of Jolteon. I noticed that against Maxie's that they usually stuck Parallel before me and I didn't have the opportunity to dig for discarded Pokemon due to Wobbuffet being active. All of my Maxie's matchups ended up in ties because I was always an attacker short due to being 10 or so damage off of a KO. Jolteon alleviates this in 2 ways:

The rest of the article is only available to PRO Members. Sign up for PRO Member today to view the rest of the article!

In order to maintain a high standard for our content, we have created a subscription service. To get you the best possible articles from the top players we pay more than $25 000 every year to our authors and editors. There are endless hours of playtesting and research behind each article. Our goal is to be able to publish an article every day and make even more competitions for everyone. Thank you for considering our subscription.

More information here.

60cards article competition is here! Join our competition to win cash prizes or playmats! Support your favorite author with your (+)vote.


Buy any cards you need on 

Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to see the latest stories. 



Chris Fulop

Anything Goes

25. 06. 2017 by Chris Fulop // With Multiple Regionals Featuring Guardian's Rising In The Books, We Are Left Looking At One Of The Healthiest Formats... (+12)

Jose Marrero

A Closer Look at the Origins Special Event Finalists Decks

22. 06. 2017 by Jose Marrero // Jose discusses the two decks that made the Finals at the Origins Special Event last weekend. (+12)

Ryan Sabelhaus

"La Ciudad de Zoroark" - Analysis of the Best Decks from Mexico City Regionals

19. 06. 2017 by Ryan Sabelhaus // Ryan takes a look at his performance in Mexico City Regionals with his Vespiquen/Zoroark deck, along with some analysis... (+11)

Welcome in our Pokemon Community Portal. Have a look around and enjoy your stay!