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Brandon Flowers

'Blast' from the Past - top 5 picks for BW-Sun Moon Expanded Format!

My top 5 picks for the Expanded Format, with a focus on Toronto and Oregon Regionals, and upcoming Expanded League Cups!

03/14/2017 by Brandon Flowers

ANAHEIM REGIONALS WINNER

     This is my take on the current BW-SUM Expanded format, which is applicable for Oregon Regionals and Toronto Regionals, as well as any League Cups between now and May. The format is huge and wide open, with no clear cut dominating force just yet, but per usual the strongest and most consistent decks do tend to rise to the top. Dark of all varieties, Seismitoad, Vespiquen, and Blastoise have all seen success at varying times, and all have some neat tricks up their sleeves this time around too. While these may be some of the more odd choices, with the right playstyle and meta, these all have pretty solid potential.

     Coming out of Anaheim Regionals, which was the first major Standard tournament in the ‘new’ Primal Clash-Sun/Moon format, we actually saw a deck with 0 Sun/Moon cards in it win. Kenny Britton got 1st with his Darkrai/Giratina deck, which has already hit Pokemon.com’s posted lists:

     This certainly shows that while Sun/Moon may have added a few good options to spice up the meta game, there are no definitely game changing cards, at least not in Standard- I believe this will change going into Expanded however, due to the overall higher amount of consistency allowing for more tech options. Having options such as Colress, Battle Compressor, Jirachi EX, and Computer Search definitely help do away with consistency issues, and open up more slots for techs like Tauros GX or Oranguru.

MAXIE'S YVELTAL

    The Dark archetype does certainly change quite a bit from Standard to Expanded, going from a very consistent and straight forward deck like Turbo Darkrai to Maxie’s Yveltal. One of the decks that has reigned over the Expanded format since its inception hasn’t lost too much steam going into our new set block, and even picked up an option in the way of Tauros GX. Here’s my take on it:

 

    Maxie’s Yveltal is by no means a unique or new idea, and I’ve only changed a couple things from previous winning lists to continue to adapt to the meta. Sableye was a neat tech that saw success in Mark Garcia’s winning list from San Jose Regionals last December, and is still worth the space in my opinion. It opens up options for continued energy acceleration in way of Dark Patch mid to late game, and can all but guarantee a successful Maxie’s if need be.

    Tauros, as mentioned previously, is a newer option. It allows you to quickly take out evolving Basic Pokemon easily with Horn Attack, hitting a flat 60 normally or 70 with a Belt, and is always a good option to Sky Return into or use to bide time, so long as there’s no Gallade in sight. Without hitting for weakness with something like Gallade, there are very few things that OHKO a Fury Belted Tauros, and it hits back hard if hit and not KO’d.

    Of course, the bread and butter of the deck are Yveltal and Darkrai, very little explanation needed here. Yveltal scales damage and has the ability to take 2HKOs easily and one hit knock outs if need be as well. Darkrai excels in taking out smaller targets with ease, such as Pumpkaboo or Joltik, and has the added benefit of Dark Cloak, giving anything with a Dark Energy free retreat.

    Archeops and Gallade help shore up most any matchup that can get a little rocky for Yveltal- Archeops helps tone down the threat of things like Vespiquen, Mega Rayquaza, Greninja, and even Trevenant if successfully Maxie’d onto the field before they achieve their item lock. Gallade can take knock outs on opposing Darkrai EX, Tauros GX, Manectric EX/M Manectric EX, and provide a one prize attacker for various other situations. Even without needing it to attack, Gallade’s ability also gives you options to essentially stack the top 5 cards of your deck.

    Per usual, there are always other options to build towards as well – putting an Oranguru in as a way to provide a sort of safety net for N/Delinquent can be useful, especially in combination with Gallade. Gallade and Oranguru provide a very useful combination that can be game changing, much in the same way that allowed Gallade/Octillery to work on a smaller scale, but without all the clump of evolution lines.

    Overall, Yveltal is definitely a contender in the format, as always, and should never be taken lightly. With seemingly fewer bad matchups in lou of Manectric and Night March seeing less play, the matchup spread with known decks in the format just keeps going up. It does take quite a bit of skill to pilot and has a decently high skill ceiling however, so it is definitely a deck that merits considerable testing before going into a large event with.

SEISMITOAD EX/DECIDUEYE GX

     Next on the chopping block is a twist on yet another old archetype – Seismitoad/Decidueye. The emergence of Decidueye GX as both extremely useful for the ability, and having decent attacks to back it up can certainly add options to the way Toad is built and played.

 

     Toad with disruption such as Flare Grunt, Ghetsis, and the occasional Enhanced Hammer has always been in play with Toad in some shape or form, but the addition of Decidueye gives it a more consistent damage output with a GX attack option and a 3 energy cost attack to do 90 damage in a pinch if need be. Decidueye’s GX attack, Hollow Hunt, gets any 3 cards back from your discard pile to your hand, allowing you to get back Double Colorless, disruption cards, or even Decidueye pieces if need be. Of course, it’s generally better to keep your opponent locked with Seismitoad EX’s Quaking Punch, but having different options if need be is never a bad thing. As mentioned, Decidueye’s GCC attack Razor Leaf can provide a 90 damage attack for just 2 energy cards, giving a slightly faster ‘big’ attack than Seismitoad’s Grenade Hammer has provided in the past. The only thing that it doesn’t get that the commonly used Crobat line does is free retreat for both the Basic and Stage 2 of the line. This does merit a slightly different playstyle, as well as more careful use of Super Scoop Ups, Float Stone, and AZ. Careful management of these is crucial to getting the early Quaking Punch, and maintaining it.  

     The tech disruption in way of Flare Grunt, Hex Maniac, Enhanced Hammer, Xerosic, Silent Lab, and even Lysandre in certain situations provide options for keeping your opponent a step behind while you build up damage on their board. These slots are pretty flexible, giving you space for Delinquent, Team Skull Grunt, and Ghetsis if preferred. All of said options all depend on what you’re expecting out of both the meta and your own deck. Namely, Yveltal, Archeops, decks such as Night March or Vespiquen that are over reliant on special energy, and even the occasional Garbodor to target with Xerosic for the given list. Energy denial is the main focus, with Hex Maniac and Silent Lab giving decent turn 1 options to slow your opponents before Quaking Punch can be used.

     The main things that stopped me from playing this at St Louis are my general affinity for Battle Compressor centered decks, concerns about the Yveltal matchup, and a healthy fear of Archeops. Vespiquen can often be a pretty terrible matchup if they get a chance to setup as well. With a knowledge that less of these are rampant, Toad/Decidueye can and will likely do extremely well. Many will also simply stick with Toad/Bats, as it’s been around longer and people are just more familiar with it.

VESPIQUEN/FLAREON

    Moving in a different direction from Toad entirely, and back to my ‘roots’, Vespiquen decks have always been a favorite of mine. Starting off with the more common archetype of Vespiquen/Flareon, I feel this will be the most common and well rounded Vespiquen archetype to see play in the upcoming months, and for good reason. Here’s my take on it:

 

    Vespiquen Flareon has always been strong due to focusing on non-EX attackers, having a decent base weakness coverage in way of Grass and Fire primary attackers, and having more options for tech Pokemon than most decks would. For this build, I actually cut a little into the Flareon line to allow for more tech options to get a better handle on things that I believe will see more play.

    Gallade is a pretty common mainstay of the Expanded format, and I believe it has more reason to see play now than ever before. It takes down Tauros with ease, which could otherwise pose a problem if not taken out quickly. It has the ability to take out any big Fighting weak EX or GX as well, namely things like Manectric, Darkrai, and can even take out Shaymin EX if a supporter was played. The aforementioned combo in way of Gallade and Oranguru is also present here, and can create an extremely strong combo to prevent your opponent from unexpectedly taking the game through late game Ns or unexpected Delinquents.

    Wobbuffet and Hex Maniac both serve as ways to deal with Archeops, as I’ve simplified the energy count and Eeveelution line to give Eevees a bit more HP and make the deck overall more consistent at the expense of having one fewer way of dealing with Archeops via Energy Evolution. Both Wobbuffet and Hex Maniac can provide options to other potential issues in the format as well, such as Vileplume or simply slowing your opponent down while you take knock outs. Preventing setup via Shaymin, preventing Blastoise’s Deluge, and even preventing Hoopa EX with Hex can prove to be game changing in the right scenario.

    Jolteon adds yet another option to hit for weakness, giving both Vespiquen and Flareon ways to dispatch Yveltal, M Rayquaza, and even something like Kyogre EX DEX without having to reach too far to discard too many Pokemon. It more than pulls its weight, and can completely swing matchups that I believe will be quite relevant in the meta.

    Tauros, albeit a one of, proves useful in almost every matchup. Without hitting Forest of Giant Plants quickly, you generally won’t be able to attack with something besides Sky Return early on, but Tauros both adds to Sky Return’s merit and gives you an option besides. Using Sky Return to lift a Shaymin off your field and promoting Tauros forces your opponent to choose between attacking into something that can hit back 3x as hard with its GX attack, Mad Bull GX; or just not attacking into it all to prevent such an option, but buys you a turn. Even just having it active and attacking with Horn Attack early gets damage on the field, which can build into knock outs with Vespiquen or Flareon later, or even just knock out small Basics outright. The 1 of Bangle in the list will be commonly used with either Vespiquen or Flareon to get numbers later in the game, but Tauros being a GX and not an EX also gives it the ability to use it as well if need be, giving it the option to 2HKO EXs with Horn Attack, or potentially OHKO with a built up Rage.

    One of the most different variations from old Vespiquen/Flareon decks here, I completely opted out of having Fire Energy and Energy Evolution Eevees to focus more on consistency while having Special Charge as a way to keep the attacks and Double Colorless Energy flowing. While Energy Evolution certainly has merit to get around Archeops, and the basic Fire Energy helps alleviate the threat of Aegislash EX and Giratina EX, I opt for different Archeops answers while just not being too worried about seeing Giratina and Aegislash, with Hex as an alternate option to Aegislash in a pinch.

    Silver Bangle is something that hasn’t seen play too much at all, but is definitely a useful 1 of in an EX heavy format. While it doesn’t work against opposing GX unfortunately, it does fortunately work when attached to GX such as Tauros, giving all of your attackers (sans Shaymin) the option of using it.

    Forest of Giant Plants is something I just can’t get away from after playing Vespiquen Vileplume. Having the option to get a Vespiquen up in one turn is extremely underrated, and gives you some good surprise plays that the deck normally wouldn’t be able to pull off. Having unexpected options with a deck that everyone expects to play per their own expectations can often give you a game winning upper hand.

    Level Ball is the only other ‘unique’ card here, which I simply chose as the best filler option after taking out Acro Bikes for more necessary options. With early testing, I originally opted for 3 Acro Bike instead of the Bangle, Level Ball, and Hex Maniac, all of which are definitely more needed than the bit of added speed. Without Hex, Archeops was a terrible matchup in any deck. Level Ball simply gives you a bit more search to get out your Basics and Vespiquen faster.

    Standard counts of Sycamore, N, VS Seeker, and Battle Compressor are pretty expected, but not without merit. I actually tested with 3 VS Seeker and higher counts of Acro Bike to begin with in a way of transitioning from Vespiquen Vileplume, and when they didn’t work quite as desired I went all in on a more conventional supporter engine. While Vespiquen Flareon and Vespiquen Vileplume share a primary attacker, they definitely play very differently with different options, and should not be built quite the same. Vespiquen Flareon should certainly take a more slow and steady approach for best results, and works best capitalizing on existing board state instead of trying to create an unfavorable board state with Vileplume.

VESPIQUEN/VILEPLUME

     Yet another Vespiquen archetype, Vespiquen Vileplume plays very differently and has more powerful options at the expensive of being less versatile. While there are various ways to build it, which can range to including Jolteon EX or Mew EX, both of which I’ve tried in the past, straight Vespiquen Vileplume tends to be the most reliable and powerful option, and as such is what I will be focusing on:

 

Changing very minimally from the previous Standard format, the core of the deck is generally the same with a few neat new options.

    The first thing out the gate that is different are the Oddish and Gloom – Boundaries Crossed gave us a pair of lower Vileplume evolutions that both attack for CC, perfect for slapping a Double Colorless on in a pinch and attacking if need be. Oddish’s attack is just a flat 20 damage, which isn’t too useful, but Gloom’s attack confuses both Gloom and the defending Pokemon. The most useful situation I’ve found for Gloom’s attack, Foul Odor, is dealing with active Fright Night Yveltals in the scenario you start Oddish against it. Confusing it before retreating Gloom forces them to either try and attack through confusion, or retreat, both of which are favorable options for you to capitalize on by either getting potential free turns of them failing to attack through confusion, or giving your Float Stones merit again. Confusion can also be a useful tool in setting up bulky, 3+ retreat attackers like Tauros GX or Seismitoad EX for knockouts after a failed confusion flip if you haven’t put just enough Pokemon in the discard to OHKO them yet.

     Vileplume is definitely a fearsome Pokemon to many opponents, and I’ve won games simply based on opponents not knowing how to play against it, but there are various ways of utilizing Vileplume that aren’t as straight forward as one would believe.  There are certainly times where you have to make the decision to forego Vileplume due to not having a good enough setup yet, or simply needing the damage that getting all the Pokemon, including your entire Vileplume line, can give you. With Special Charge, Bunnelby and Revitalizer as fallbacks, playing a whole game with no Vileplume and streaming Vespiquen can be just too much to deal with. It’s especially effective when you aren’t expecting item based disruption, and know you can end the game in a few turns by benching them out or knocking out 3 EX/GX quickly. It’s nearly always the correct approach against Mega based decks, and similarly with something like Lurantis GX that relies predominately on living multiple attacks. Generally Toad is something that you should get Vileplume out, but if facing down a Toad/Giratina, playing a game of “target the Giratina” while foregoing Vileplume is also effective- that is, the second they get an energy on Giratina, get 15 Pokemon in the discard and find your Lysandre. Once the first one goes down, you’ll have at least 2 more turns of energy attachments and attacks, in which you should be able to setup or take your remaining 4 prizes. Anything that runs Archeops, suspected or otherwise, is something you will either want to immediately get out Vileplume, or get out multiple Vespiquen lines and have a plan for targeting the Archeops if/when it hits the field.

      Bunnelby is here both to help keep the resources you want in play mid to late game, and also to be able to capitalize on your opponent overextending. I’ve won games against both Metal and Night March by letting them play back to back Sycamores, while cycling Lysandre and forcing them to retreat to be able to attack while using Burrow to deck them out. It’s an avoidable loss for them if they don’t overextend, but many don’t know how far they’ve gone until it’s too late.

     For any who have played the deck, Exeggcute is a needed inclusion to keep your digging from discarding too many needed resources. It’s accessible once a Compressor is hit, adds to your damage, and allows you to make the ‘puzzle pieces’ that are Ultra Ball and Computer Search work more smoothly when digging for the pieces of your setup. Of course it is hands down the worst Pokemon to start in the deck, but being 1 of 18 different basic Pokemon makes it a very unlikely start.

     Tauros GX has been explained time and time again previously in the article, but also has the added benefit of being the only way of reliably dealing with Glaceon EX here as well. It handily dispatches Glaceon EX by at worst 3 hit KO’ing it in the event they don’t attack into it at all, or using Mad Bull GX to OHKO it in the event it takes a Crystal Ray.

     4 Shaymin EX is a necessity, and not one I didn’t try and tweak a bit. At one point I attempted to play 3 Shaymin and 1 Jirachi EX, but the combination of so few supporters, Shaymin’s ability to dig linearly through the deck, and Shaymin having a useful attack that can pull it off the field simply make 4 Shaymin a much better option over 3 Shaymin and 1 Jirachi.

     4-4 Vespiquen is the strongest and most consistent route – there isn’t anything overwhelmingly needed that warrants doing anything but. Getting out a Vespiquen swinging for 140+ turn 1 is the norm for this deck, and being able to get one to do 180+ turn 1 going second is huge. Early game pressure and being able to stream knockouts is the biggest perk Vespiquen Vileplume has going for it, with a close second in the ability to shutdown most of your opponent’s options with Vileplume. Time and time again I’ve been able to win games by donking my opponent’s only starting Pokemon, EX or otherwise.

      The trainer line sees very little variation from my 12th place Worlds list from last year as well, only adding Computer Search, Level Ball, and 4th Acro Bike at the expense of the former 3 Trainers’ Mail. Level Ball, once again is the filler for taking out 3 consistency options (previously Acro in Vespiquen Flareon, above), opting to have the 1 of be a deck search card instead of checking the top few cards of the deck. Computer Search was the driving force at lowering Trainers’ Mail counts at all, as being able to discard 2 cards from hand and search something out is the main reason this deck works at all with Ultra Ball and Shaymin fitting that description as well. Trainers’ Mail was taken out instead of Acro Bike, as Acro Bike gives you the option to discard unneeded Pokemon while digging for Double Colorless Energy, whereas Trainers’ Mail has more limited effects in way of no discard and only being able to grab Trainer cards. The ‘messy’ discard that Acro Bike gives is complimented by Revitalizer and Special Charge making up for any unfortunate discards.

     Special Charge and Revitalizer give the deck options it needs to play an extremely aggressive game, which pays off when your opponent either doesn’t have a way of dealing with the early pressure, or their only way of dealing with it is an EX or a GX than can be knocked out directly after with another Vespiquen. As mentioned, Megas fall into this type of game plan too, as discarding most of your Pokemon, including a couple Vespiquen lines, can prove to be too much for them to deal with. They’re also good safety nets in the event you’re forced to discard too many resources while setting up.

     4 Ultra Ball is necessary- at one point I tried dropping 1 Ultra Ball for the Computer Search instead of getting rid of Trainers’ Mail, and found that I would much rather just have 4 Ultra Ball and Computer Search instead of 3/1. The more discard+search options you have, the better.

      The 1 AZ/1 Lysandre/3 Sycamore is a simple mainstay that has no reason to change- in the event you want access to more AZ or Lysandre, I would sooner play 2 Bunnelby rather than more of either of them, as the ability to get them after the lock is either lessened due to the lock itself, or you end up getting rid of them while getting the lock. Bunnelby is like your pseudo VS Seeker (or I guess, more in line with Pal Pad) in that it can get them back after the fact, even while being under your own item lock.

     4 Forest is of course a necessity as well – there are very few matchups in which you would need them all for countering the opponent’s stadiums, but the need of it as soon as possible turn 1 requires the max count. Without it, your game plan is just gone.

    4 Double Colorless is always going to be a ‘risky’ play regardless of the format, but Special Charge helps alleviate it. Aegislash EX isn’t worth trying to counter with Toxicroak any longer, as most things that play Aegislash will play Magearna EX and Metal Energy as well, making the Toxicroak plan obsolete and just an autoloss, unless you’re able to lock them from getting it, or Lysandre around it to take enough prizes to win. Giratina EX is tricky, but can always be taken out before it gets an attack off potentially.

     A deck so high risk/high reward is not without its pitfalls, of course. Aegislash and Giratina are only the start of the pitfalls in the Expanded format, which comes with a few more hurdles than last year’s Standard format. Archeops is the big bad of the Expanded format for any evolution based deck, and there’s simply no practical way to try and deal with it besides hoping you can get an attacker up before they get an Archeops out and start attacking. Tauros is a soft counter to try and deal with it, and can help dispatch Archeops after it takes a hit, but your best bet is to either get out multiple Vespiquen before they get Archeops, or get out Vileplume before they have a chance to get Archeops. This is especially tricky against things like Yveltal that can get attacks up as fast as they can get the Archeops, or even just let you get Vileplume and then lock it active with a Fright Night Yveltal. Being prepared with an AZ is a nice option, but not always accessible- generally Yveltal/Archeops is just a terrible matchup between players of comparable skill.

     GX Pokemon above stage 1 also prove troublesome- Basic and Stage 1 GXs can be treated similarly to EXs and Megas, since their HP range is similar and they give up 2 prizes still. Luckily, the majority of the Stage 2 GX are either not played (Incineroar, Lunala), require intensive item based setup and discard to attack (Solgaleo), or are grass weak (Primarina). Decidueye GX is the toughest to take down, due to its attack being able to do 90 and OHKO Vespiquens, and the same ability to abuse Forest of Giant Plants to come out onto the field as soon as possible. Any partner with Decidueye that isn’t Seismitoad will be a difficult matchup to overcome. Seismitoad EX is your best hope for a partner, since it’s grass weak, and will struggle to reliably attack with a Decidueye without giving up quite a few prizes first.

     Despite these flaws, this is one of my top 2 decks to take into this format – if I decide that I can avoid Archeops reliably enough to do well, this well definitely be my go to. The deck has a very odd skill curve, which can be more than overcome by playing the deck repetitively (even through solitaring) to find your limits and be able to push the deck to them.

BLASTOISE/LAPRAS GX

     Tied for top choice is another one of my ‘go to’ decks from past format, which got a bit of a boost with Lapras GX from Sun/Moon – Blastoise. Blastoise has always been a powerful engine, and can do well in the right meta with the right partners. I believe the meta is ready for it, now that it can do 180 without 6+ energy (Keldeo) or multiple different energy types (Black Kyurem).

 

     Lapras GX’s attacks all provide some decent options for the deck. The primary draw is of course 160 for 3 Water, which can be boosted to 180 with a Muscle Band and take out any basic EX in the format. Collect isn’t really an attack you would end up relying on, but draw 3 for 1 energy is a good fallback in the event it’s needed. Ice Beam, Lapras’s GX attack, only does 100 but does Paralyze as well, which can set up a knock out on anything higher than 180 HP, such as Megas and GX Pokemon. The 190HP is a nice addition too, making it capable of taking hits moreso than any Basic EX.

     Kyogre EX is a must for me in this deck, as it gives incredible coverage against Night March, Vespiquen, and any deck that runs Basic Pokemon with low HP. With Archie’s, Blastoise can be put into play turn 1, getting Kyogre powered up before anything can evolve. It can also be used to soften up high HP Megas/GX for knockouts from Lapras or Keldeo later, as well as a great option against Sableye/Garbodor if you can get it loaded up before they get Garbodor up. Dual Splash can take out the active Sableye and the bench Garbodor over the course of 2 turns, diminishing the effect of Life Dew and getting your abilities back online. Kyogre’s basic uses are strong enough without all of these options, but the added utility that 50/50 spread can add is just too good to pass up. It has the added benefit of having a Lightning weakness as well, rather than the Grass weakness that Keldeo and Lapras both share.

     Articuno is useful for similar reasons as Kyogre – it can capitalize on your opponent’s low HP Pokemon, taking 2 prizes off of non-EX Pokemon with Tri Edge. Tri Edge can swing games with 1-2 flips- it can even KO a Shaymin for 3 prizes with either 3 heads, or 2 heads and a Muscle Band. Chilling Sigh can also help against things like Seismitoad EX, buying you time to get the Archie’s if you don’t get it turn 1 and they don’t wake up.

     Keldeo EX has been a necessity for the deck since inception – its attack allows it to scale damage, giving damage output options above 180 if need be, and the ability can get you out of tricky spots that cards like Hypnotoxic Laser create in the format. Well rounded card all around, and gives the deck all around more versatility.

     Shaymin, Jirachi, and Exeggcute are nothing new to the deck – ideally I would play 2 of each, but due to limited space with the addition of Lapras, cutting to 1 Jirachi is a sacrifice that’s needed to make. All of these help coordinate getting out the Blastoise as soon as possible with Archie’s, and all help continue a steady game. Exeggcute is particularly useful with 9 “discard 2 cards, then effect” with Ultra Ball, Superior Energy Retrieval, and Computer Search.

     Sycamore, Archie’s, N and Lysandre are the standard supporter line up as well, for good reason. It’s the absolute minimum number of supporters the deck can get by with, maximizing the likelihood of Archie’s as early as possible, while still giving supporter based options that items simply can’t do.

     2 Rough Seas isn’t something I’m used to, but it’s the best thing to go with going into a format that could potentially be riddled with Trevenant. In the past, without a concern of Trevenant, I would go with either 1 Seas and 1 Sky Field to allow for use of more basics without worrying of filling your bench with Shaymin/Jirachi. After using Sky Field and playing out the Archie’s setup, then Rough Seas can be played to bump off your Shaymin and Jirachi. Without the imminent threat of Trevenant, 1 Seas/1 Sky Field would definitely be my go to option for that reason.

     4 Compressor/4 Mail/3 Acro are all predominately used for thinning the deck, getting out the Blastoise, and having a decent engine to get to your resources as reliably as possible. Much like 1 Jirachi, 3 Acro Bike is a slight sacrifice to make space for all the options I wanted in the deck. Cutting out tech spots like Muscle Band and Megaphone will lead to more consistency options like Jirachi or Acro, but also give less outs against Fury Belt and being able to OHKO with Lapras, Keldeo, and Articuno.

     2 Muscle Band/1 Float are useful to allow you to take knockouts reliably with Lapras, take risky knockouts with Articuno, and allow Keldeo to use Float to just rotate the active Pokemon out of status conditions. Careful use of Float Stone against ability lock is needed to ensure something like Kyogre or Blastoise doesn’t get stranded on active though, so it of course has a little more utility than just always attaching it to Keldeo.

      4 VS Seeker maximize the chances of Archie’s, as well as give you options to reuse your minimal supporter counts later as well. So far the only deck I’ve ever played that wouldn’t run 4 VS Seeker is Vespiquen Vileplume, for the inability to use them past turn 1 most of the time.

     4 Superior is much like 4 VS Seeker in this deck in particular – it couldn’t run optimally without them, since Keldeo could never get the energy back after attacking once or twice, and you’ll naturally burn through quite a few energy in set up as well. Even with 11 energy in the deck, you’ll be lacking for it at times. Much like Standard Volcanion, the deck can waver between 11 and 12 energy depending on the amount of space you’re allowing for other cards.

     The matchup spread for this deck, despite being a similar engine to Vespiquen, is quite the opposite – it’s barely hindered by Giratina EX, isn’t affected by Aegislash EX at all, and can deal with Yveltal without being affected by Archeops at all. It has options to deal with Jolteon EX if need be via Blastoise and Status Conditions, and is barely affected by Glaceon EX at all. On the flip side, Seismitoad EX can be much more of a problem if you miss the turn 1 Archie’s, and Mega Rayquaza can just run straight through you- any Mega based deck that can OHKO is going to be a problem. So albeit high risk high reward similarly, the caveats are flipped around, giving someone with a playstyle catered towards Battle Compressor-centric decks options for different formats. Yveltal fits that description too, but is far less straight forward, and is quite a different playstyle for someone accustomed to Vespiquen and Blastoise based decks as I am.

CLOSING REMARKS

     At the end of the day, playstyle is as important a factor to me when selecting a deck as metagame or specific strength and weaknesses the deck has. Playing to your own strengths is a fairly underrated strategy that people take when going about picking a deck to play, and in this situation it’s why I’m choosing either Blastoise or Vespiquen going into a format that I believe will be dominated by Yveltal still. I feel much more comfortable outplaying Yveltal with either of these decks than I do with Yveltal itself. If you’re comfortable with the Yveltal mirror match, I believe that’s the best deck to take into the first round of Expanded tournaments in March. If you aren’t, play to your own strengths as I intend to.  

     Overall, these 5 decks seem like the most definitively strong decks in the right hands, but the Expanded format is way too huge to cover everything. Some notable things that I either mention in passing or excluded entirely are Night March, Sableye/Garbodor, Volcanion, Trevenant, and maybe a few other under the radar things like Zygarde, Solgaleo GX and Lurantis GX will likely see play to some success, but very likely in fewer numbers than the more ‘common’ and expected plays.

Good luck and goodbye for now,

Brandon Flowers 

[+12] okko


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Zach Lesage

Revisiting Buzzwole for Memphis

12/05/2017 by Zach Lesage // Zach, while not attending Memphis, details the deck that he would play going into the event, Buzzwole/Lycanroc (+20)

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Jose Marrero

"It's Rock and Roll Time" -Two Strong Plays for Memphis Regionals

12/13/2017 by Jose Marrero // Jose discusses two strong plays for the upcoming Memphis Regional Championships this weekend. (+19)

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Caleb Gedemer

"Forgotten Deck" — Secret Garbodor / Buzzwole-GX Deck for Memphis

12/12/2017 by Caleb Gedemer // Garbodor/Buzzwole-GX was lost in translation before the European International Championships. Will it pop up at Memphis... (+19)

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