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Chris Fulop

A Journey Into A New Expanded...

With Shiftry's Abrupt Exit From Expanded, I Look At Some Of The Decks Likely To Make An Impact Headed Into Fall Regionals!

09/11/2015 by Chris Fulop

After repeatedly refering to Expanded as a "Lame Duck Format" until we got some sort of banned list, on September 1st we were all met by a timely, albiet fairly expected announcement: Shiftry, the boogeyman of the Expanded Format, was banned. That was the good news. The bad news? I had to put all of my Standard decks aside and go into the tank on the new Extended Format!

Despite Extended being a format for some time now, it has really not been a very fleshed out one. Prior to the announcement that it would be the sole format for U.S. Regionals, players generally put a majority of their testing time into Standard. It makes sense, though. Why test for the format you had to do well in a different format with to even get a chance to play? As a result, it seemed as if a majority of players who made Day 2 at Regionals and shifted into Expanded decks had barely played the format at all. I know when I took 10th at Regionals last year, I felt extremely well-prepared for Standard, and thirty minutes before the start of Day 2, threw together a terrible Yveltal list on the fly...and I was more prepared than most of my opponents that day, from my observation. Most people just updated Standard archetypes and called it a day. The decks which were winning, and the metagame presented, were almost certainly wildly off from what we would see if players had spent weeks or months testing for Expanded. Obviously, we have new cards added to that card pool, but even then it is hard to look back at those decks as great examples of a starting point for testing.

 

More recently, it was leaked that Regionals would be in Expanded, and a lot of people began actually testing for this format. Unfortunately, those results are even more skewed because Shiftry warped the format so much. I don't expect to see any Baltoys, or decks which only run Wobbuffet as their basics, relying on Maxie or Archie as their means to get out attackers to avoid being beaten by Shiftry. This isn't to say that we don't have a pretty good idea of what the good cards are. We've played with all of these cards for years now, its pretty easy to have a decent guess what may be competitive. What I am trying to stress is that we don't really have too much information on which of these cards will end up being the best out of them.

When approaching a new format, be it because of rotation, or well, in this case, widening the card pool, the first step is to try and form a "gauntlet" of decks which are expected to be popular deck choices. In general, you want to build decks other people are hyping, or decks which seem pretty obvious in their strength. Once you play some games with those decks, you can set an initial benchmark for what is going on in the format. From there, you can get a better idea of what decks are likely to thrive in that very premature metagame, and let things evolve from there. It is actually a pretty difficult process unless you have a lot of time and people to work with, and it usually shows throughout the season. Look at the lists that would be played at the start of say, Cities, each year, and see how much more refined and tuned decks are by the end of them. That change is easier to foster when you have a large sample size of events to gather data from.

Theory aside, lets go over some of the "archetypes" I wanted to include in my initial gauntlet. I wanted to include the decks people were talking about, whether I thought they would be good or not; popularity, as much as viability, shapes a metagame, so you can't really just pick and choose. Beyond this, I wanted to include decks which I felt repressed the "extremes" of the format. By doing so, you get to try and explore just how far you can push certain gimmicks in the format, and whether the decks end up being a major factor or not, it is useful to have an understanding of that. A quick disclaimer: as of writing this, I've had four days to be able to dig into this format, so like most people, I'm still very much in the exploration stages of Expanded. I'm not going to present this information as me having solved the format. That would be extremely far off. I do think I've started to figure some key things out, and want to share my findings, and thought process with everyone as they also begin their Regionals testing.

Lets address these "Extremes". Pokémon is generally played in a very linear, fair manner: players take turns taking Prizes, in a war of attrition, until one player takes their sixth Prize first. Some decks go out of their way to break this system, by establishing either a soft or hard "lock" or by just being so wildly aggressive that they try to avoid the "game" other decks are even playing. Isolating these early is helpful towards figuring out the quirks in a format.

In Expanded, the biggest offender of this was going to be Shiftry. With Forest of Giant Plants, the deck aimed to just play and replay enough Shiftry that eventually you would just Bench a player out on the first turn of the game. This got banned, but the Forest still presented another potential problem: Forretress. When Forretress Evolves, it places a damage counter on each of your opponent's Pokémon. The gimmick here is to use the Forest of Giant Plants alongside Scoop Up effects and Devolution Spray to reuse this Ability over and over again, attempting to wipe out a players entire side of Pokemon in one turn. With Shaymin-EX and all of the draw power available in this format, it is impressive how many uses of Forretress's Thorn Tempest you can pull off in one turn. Obviously, you are going to really struggle to take out a Pokémon-EX with Forretress spam, but the damage adds up and can still play "fairly" towards helping a real attacker finish something off. Due to the fact this turn one "combo" struggles against high-HP Basics, I'm skeptical that it'll end up being a tier-one option, but what it threatens to do is so unique and out of left field compared to most decks that its worth testing with just to understand how the deck interacts with the rest of the format.

I went over how "old Expanded" did little to offer us insight into what decks to expect this time around, and there are going to be exceptions to this. The biggest unfair deck before was Accelgor, a card which had rotated out of Standard last year but was still a lingering threat in Expanded. (It and Eelektrik were two of the major cards stripped from Standard last season...and let me tell you all, Eelektrik's spelling feels so ridiculous after not writing about it for a whole year.) Accelgor would be paired with either Trevenant or Gothitelle (Lets be honest: Trevenant is just the strictly superior option, but the deck did exist prior to the ghost tree so I wanted to mention it) as a Pokémon to promote after using Deck and Cover, sending itself back into the deck. This would leave the Defending Pokémon trapped under Poison and Paralysis, while the opponent would be unable to play any Item cards to undo the Special Conditions due to the the new Active Pokémon's Ability. Some builds would go so far as to include Dusknoir, allowing a "hard lock" as long as their opponent had no means of breaking up the status loop. (Sometimes the deck would also just fail to loop Accelgor, but that was surprisingly rare.) Mew-EX made the Accelgor loop less demanding to pull off.

The deck gains a few new tools now. Wally is incredible with Trevenant, and also works great with Accelgor. The card is just a perfect fit into the deck. Forest of Giant Plants lets you Bench and Evolve a Shelmet in one turn, which takes away a notable weakness the deck had before. If you could "hunt" down their Shelmet and leave them without any way to get out an Accelgor, their deck kind of fell apart. Also, if they failed to get access to Mew to use with Deck and Cover, they'd have to shuffle in an Accelgor. If they didn't have a Benched backup Shelmet, the lock could get broken. The Forest lets the deck not only potentially get a first turn Accelgor, but it also makes replacing them midgame very easy. The one problem that arises is that the deck was previously enjoying Tropical Beach as a nice way to establish some consistancy. I'm not sure what sort of split between the two Stadium cards is proper in the archetype now.

This is the type of deck that just beats decks which don't have built-in answers for it, and that threat can really warp what decks wind up viable. This is a perfect example of a format's extreme which can have a disproportionate impact on which decks could otherwise be played. Previously, this deck beat up on a ton of decks, but struggled against any deck which ran Keldeo-EX (Rush In is an easy way to break the Special Condition lock) or Virizion-EX (an even more blatant counter to Special conditions). As a format's cardpool widens, you run into more and more archetypes which seem strong but do not have any built-in counter to Accelgor.

Accelgor tries to establish what I've referred to as a "hard lock". This is a board state where the game is almost literally won because the opponent is locked out of any actual line where they can break through whatever disruption is being thrown at them. There are usually fringe, very unlikely circumstances which can play out to break these locks, but in general, once a certain point is reached in the game, the "hard lock" deck will win. Pokémon has generally done a good job of avoiding these types of decks, but they do pop up. "Soft lock" decks are much more popular, as is the case with Seismitoad-EX, Trevenant, and well, pretty much any Vileplume ever printed. (Vileplume knows what it wants, and what it wants is no Items!)

I feel like the best Trevenant build is, in fact, Accelgor. Previously, the main attackers in the deck have either been Gengar-EX or just looping Shaymin's Set Up, but both of those just seem worse than Deck and Cover, even if the latter requires a lot of work to chain. Trevenant's own attack isn't bad by any means, but in a format like Expanded, it is far shy of what you want your Plan A to be. Once you accept you'll be using some sort of hit-and-run attack, you do kind of force your hand towards going with Accelgor in my eyes.

The new Vileplume offers Item-lock as well, but I feel like it is a bit difficult to build around in Expanded because it doesn't leave you very flexible at all. You are disruptive, but have to manage to find attackers which cover your bases against a very wide-open format, and that is difficult. Still, Vileplume is a great card, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't find a deck which makes it at least close to tier-one. The problem is, it feels like a potential archetype which really needs a fleshed out metagame to know how to build it. In Magic, the old motif is that the control decks are generally weak at the start of a new format, especially a format with a large cardpool, because so much of how they work relies on knowing what proactive decks you need to beat. Since unlike Accelgor, you aren't chasing a universal win condition, its hard to know what tools you'll need. As a result, I'm not looking to put a Vileplume deck into my initial gauntlet until things get a bit more fleshed out. I expect one to be good, it is just hard to know what it will be without more information.

The deck I do have to include in the gauntlet is Seismitoad-EX. The card is downright degenerate in how strong it is, as it offers an easy-to-accomplish one-sided Item-lock. I don't think I need to sell people on how good this card is, as its results since release are pretty telling. I feel like some form of "Quad Toad" list needs to be included into the initial gauntlet. I decided to go with Seismitoad/Garbodor, since I'm very interested to seeing how it pairs with Hex Maniac, since that can help establish a turn-one Ability lock against gimmick decks that you may want to buy time against before you get Garbodor's Garbotoxin online. The other alternatives I've looked at are some form of Shaymin/Slurpuff, heavy Hammer build, and a Crobat build along the lines of the decks which took 2nd and 3rd at this year's World Championships. While Seismitoad may not be as degenerate as say, Accelgor lock, it is still a very stiff litmus test which a lot of decks may fail, and thus should be tested.

Now lets switch to the other end of the spectrum. We've gone over a gimmick deck like Forretress, and multiple "lock" decks, but there are some very aggressive options in the format as well. A deck which had gained a ton of momentum at Worlds was Night March, after it was hated out of Nationals by the large target painted across its back after the emergency Trump Card banning. Night March really benefits from the strength of Shaymin-EX and all of the great Item cards we have available now, and can routinely hit for 140+ damage on the first turn while maintaining this damage output every turn from there on. The deck is somewhat demanding in that it needs to replace attackers, Energy and Stadium cards each turn. (Okay, not every turn, but often enough.) It has low-HP attackers, but benefits from being able to abuse a lot of non-EX attackers.

I've talked with a lot of players who have Night March as their current "go to" deck in Expanded, which I think is telling. Most players, even those not "on it," are still acknowledging it as a major factor in the format, so its another shoo-in for the gauntlet. The loss of Mew-EX really hinders the deck's viability in Standard, but it should remain a prominent factor outside of it. I do want to acknowledge that some sort of Vespiquen/Flareon deck could also work in Expanded, but my initial assessment is that those decks are going to be worse than Night March, and similar enough in what they do that I'm not making it a priority to put those into the initial rotation. (Like Vileplume, that deck is certainly going to eventually be tested, of course.)

In order to judge how popular I think a deck will be in the general population, a good default approach to take is to look for any deck that did well over the past season that is rotating. This obviously includes Jacob Van Wagner's Blastoise deck, which he won Worlds with in Masters. It is another very aggressive deck, although a little clunkier to set up than Night March is. It is more stable once set up, though. One downside it does face is that it's attackers are primarily Pokémon-EX, so it doesn't benefit from the nice Prize exchange rate you get with Night March. I don't know if the deck really gains much off of the wider card pool, but I do think what it is does is still just as powerful in Expanded as it was in Standard. The Keldeo give it inherent strength against Accelgor, and Wailord and Articuno give you solid game against Night March. The fact the deck has a very powerful, proactive plan and has built-in strength against some of the polar ends of the format is very appealing to me.

The problem I do see with the deck is that Hex Maniac potentially throws a wrench into its plans. If your Keldeo gets KO'd the same turn you get Hexed, Blastoise can't replace your attacker. Depending on how popular Hex Maniac is, it could definitely do a lot of damage to this deck. It makes me fear for it's viability if it proves to be one of the top decks in the format.

A third potential hyper-aggressive deck is my boy Mega Rayquaza. Unfortunately, I'm not too high on the deck for Expanded at the moment because I feel like it struggles against the lock decks, and it definitely is terrible against Night March. I feel like Night March and Blastoise are both better options at the moment than "Turbo Ray". Perhaps Metal Ray is viable still, as it should do well against the slower decks, but it seems like it would be too slow in too many matchups.

One of the best decks in Expanded previously had been Yveltal. Yveltal was a top deck throughout most of the season in Standard (it started to lose ground near the end as decks became more powerful) and it stands to gain a ton in Expanded because...well, Dark Patch is just an incredible card. It makes up for Yveltal somehow falling behind some in the power creep. (I can't believe I can say that...although I think a lot of what held it back was the prevalence of strong Lightning-type attackers like Raichu, Manectric-EX, and the strongest of them all, Joltik.) It could gain Sableye as well, but likely only as a one-of for fringe scenarios. I don't think I'd run it at all myself.

Between Dark Patch and baby Yveltal, the deck can really gain a ton of Energy quickly and sustain a strong stream of attackers. Yveltal would have easily been a tier-one deck last format with Dark Patch available in Standard, so I imagine it is very strong in Expanded still. It also requires very little commitment to any sort of gimmick, making it extremely flexible. Darkrai and Keldeo-EX give you strong answers to Special Conditions. It fills this sort of middle-ground role, as it is fast and aggressive, but not to the point of leaving itself exploitable like some of the more gimmicky decks are. It is extremely stable and consistent. Perhaps that isn't the place to be in this format, as maybe an extreme is just better. I'm pretty optimistic about it though.

While dealing with Darkness-types, we have to address Mega Tyranitar. Like Yveltal, it benefits off of access to Dark Patch in Expanded, but it also can use Mega Turbo as well, making it surprisingly quick to power up. Mega Tyranitar is obviously much tankier than Yveltal is, and can hit harder for less Energy. It does require a lot more of a focused deck, though, both in order to get the Tyranitar out and powered, but also to make sure you have the ability to actually get boosted damage off of Destroyer King. This takes up a ton of space. You can still run Darkrai-EX, Keldeo-EX, Yveltal, and Yveltal-EX as support and alternate attackers, but you do not get to fit many of the cards that make them as strong as they would be otherwise. Mega Tyranitar is not only likely to be a good deck, but it is fairly hyped at the moment, meaning it will likely be a presence in the upcoming Regionals metagame, and an easy inclusion into the initial gauntlet.

So now that I went over the first set of decks I wanted to test, I'll include the current lists for them, as well as some analysis over some of the more interesting inclusions/exclusions.

Night March doesn't really change too much from its build from the past year. The only real changes are the addition of an Iris, an Unown, and a Hex Maniac. Hex Maniac is great in this deck, which doesn't really rely on Supporter draw early in the game. If you go first, since you cannot attack, you can kind of play a reserved start, not chasing 140+ damage, but go for a Hex. This should slow the other deck down dramatically. There are going to be decks which struggle to draw enough cards past this card, and this deck's engine is perfect for exploiting the card. I like the card in most decks, but I really like it in any of the "turbo"-engine decks.

Unown basically lets you play with a 59 card deck, but it also synergizes with Revive to turn that card into midgame draw power in games where you don't need to otherwise get Pokémon back. I feel like Night March loses a decent number of games off of a late-game N (big surprise, right?) and saving an Unown on the Bench is a good insurance policy there. I actually started testing with a couple of Level Balls, two Revive, and two Unown, which was kind of cute, but I wound up having to trim cards and we're at a bare minimum now on those cards. I'm not sure if the Unown is worth it, but I've liked it so far.

Iris is an interesting inclusion, and pretty narrow in purpose. I've had the deck struggle to get OHKOs on Mega Pokémon, even with Muscle Band, so this is my answer to that. Faded Town won't work due to needing Valley most of the time. Plus it is hard to get to. Iris is pretty easy to reliably have access to due to Battle Compressor and VS Seeker, on the other hand.

I'll admit that the Stadium split is more an experiment to see how both of them end up playing out. With Wally, and potentially FoGP, the deck is less incentivized to try and use Tropical Beach. There is also so much more Item-based drawpower than there was when Beach was originally so appealing, so maybe it is just too outdated and outclassed. On top of this, decks now run a ton of Stadium cards, so it is harder to actually stick. I do like having it, as Shaymin-EX is hard to really use with this deck since the Bench space gets super cluttered.

Hex Maniac is so awkward in this deck, but probably just necessary. You need to get past Archeops. You can use it to turn off Keldeo and Virizion, although I'll admit that's probably just a band-aid for a far larger wound that you may not be able to actually overcome anyways.

I'm opting not to use Dusknoir in here for a number of reasons. First off, there simply isn't the space to do it. Beyond this, the deck is now quicker and a bit more consistent, so you don't have to rely on quite as strong a late game. It used to be with these types of decks that you would wind up being pretty far behind when you start to try and turn the corner, and would need all the help you could get closing that gap. Now, with you likely being tighter in Prizes when you set up, Dusknoir becomes less needed. Finally, with Hex Maniac and Lysandre as options to allow players to play Items and break the lock for a turn, the "hard lock" is moderately frail.

Possible inclusions: one Lightning Energy, one Black Kyurem-EX.

One of the ways to exploit Blastoise's reliance on Keldeo-EX is to run Mewtwo-EX/Yveltal-EX/Lugia-EX in order to punish it for having so many Energy cards attached to it. If Blastoise is prepared, I actually like the idea of running a Black Kyurem-EX as an alternate attacker, as you can easily Battle Compressor for the one Lightning Energy to Superior Energy Retrieval back. This gives you an OHKO option that purges itself of attached Energy after the fact. It also lacks a Grass Weakness, so it helps with type coverage. I'd wait to see how the metagame plays out before making any cuts to fit these two cards, but I think it is a pretty alluring way to counteract players adjusting to beat this deck.

The deck really hasn't changed a whole lot beyond it's Standard composition, but one of the things I did do was cut the Rough Seas that were fairly commonplace. It is a pretty reactive card in a deck I'm not sure needs it in general. I'm not going to say there were not reasons for running it in the Worlds metagame, but when approaching an unknown field, I'd rather not start with the card unless I can cite specific reasons that it is useful. The Stadium is incredibly powerful...I'm actually a huge fan of it, but my gut tells me that the damage output in this format will be high enough that the healing isn't terribly relevant. Either you'll be one-hit, or still two-hit, in most cases.

In place of this, I've added a Hex Maniac and a Super Rod. I have beaten to death my opinion on Hex Maniac, and this engine supports it well. Super Rod is a card I imagine would have been played if it were legal, helping with the Energy count while also giving you additional copies of the assorted one-of Pokemon.

This was one of the first decks I started testing, and I'm not sure exactly what this suggests, but the results are what pushed me into playing Yveltal/Seismitoad. That isn't to say that the archetype is bad; I merely started by testing it against Night March, which proved to be a bit too fast for Mega Tyranitar, forcing the deck to fall back on Yveltal, which showed off how impressive the Pokémon was still.

As for this list, it can either try to go with a quick Mega Tyranitar, as the 3-3 line is supported by four Dark Patch and an additional two Mega Turbo to help offset Destroyer King's costly Energy requirements. I've included a thin Golbat line as a safe means to set up boosted Destroyer King damage, but Yveltal also helps put damage on the field to set up OHKOs. Even if Yveltal doesn't hit the Pokémon that Tyranitar wants to take out, Absol lends a helping hand and can move the damage over. This gives you two good means to put damage counters onto Pokémon.

I originally tried to fit multiple Hard Charm into this deck to take advantage of Mega Tyranitar's Ancient Trait, which allows it to carry two Tools. It strained the deck, spacewise, and also just hadn't come up as that useful in the matchups I tested. That isn't to suggest that the card won't end up in the final list, though. If OHKOing becomes popular in the format, Tyranitar getting that effective 260 HP becomes very alluring.

I mentioned before how Tyranitar testing pushed me into Yveltal, and this is the list I wound up settling on. Dark Patch is just an extremely good card. Last year, the deck was still moderately clunky because the drawpower just didn't really let it run as smoothly as it would have liked. Now, with Trainers' Mail and Shaymin-EX, the deck's early turns are so potent.

The deck can either lead with Yveltal, setting up a more powerful next few turns, a quick Yveltal-EX, or a disruptive Quaking Punch with Seismitoad-EX. Yveltal benefits from being quite good against Night March. Its 30 damage KOs a Joltik or a Pumpkaboo (due to Weakness). With Hex Maniac turning off Mew-EX's Ability, you can restrict Night March to having to use Pokémon which all die to Yveltal. Yveltal, alongside Dark Patch, allows you to power Darkrai-EX fairly easily, and he can pick off benched Joltik if they make a mistake while having to play around your Yveltal and Hex Maniac.

One of the things I love about this deck is that while it has stable, raw power, it also picks on the unfair decks in the format. Due to its disruption, alongside Yveltal, it matches up well against Night March. Darkrai-EX and Keldeo-EX answer any gimmicky Accelgor decks. Yveltal-EX checks Keldeo-EX in Blastoise decks perfectly, especially paired with Hex Maniac. Your Pokémon all have high HP totals, making any sort of Forretress deck rather impotent against you. Since it uses all Basic Pokémon, players trying to use Archeops have no edge on you. Their deck has enough base power to compete with most decks at a 50-50ish level, but seems to have an advantage against all of the more fringe decks, which is extremely appealing in a wide open format.

If Regionals were tomorrow, I would be playing Yveltal/Seismitoad. I'm not sure the attacker lineup is correct, though. I feel like a third Toad or Yveltal-EX may be correct, although only two of each has been sufficient so far. As with all of these lists, numbers will get tweaked as a more defined metagame shapes up.

This particular build runs so many one-of Supporters that I opted to go with Jirachi-EX over Shaymin EX. I love Shaymin, perhaps more than I should, but it doesn't make Jirachi completely obsolete, and I am pretty sure Jirachi is just a better fit in this deck. You'll notice as my ninth Supporter that I am again going with the one Skyla for the extra out to hit a DCE with Computer Search.

These are a few other ideas I have thrown around that I am less certain about, and haven't gotten to really test yet. Both of them seem fairly exciting to me, but were not part of my initial testing. I don't like my "cop out" split of three Super Scoop Up and three Crushing Hammer, but I'm not entirely sure which is better in the deck, or if it is better to try and run both. I'll openly admit that the Garbodor decks are not my speciality, so there are a lot of "fit a bunch of thin counts and see what I like" moments in this list.

Toad is another deck that is very "control"ing, and the numbers you end up settling on will likely be dictated by what the other decks in the format end up looking like. There is a lot of customization to this deck. (And all Toad decks, really.)

You'll notice that there is a deck which I have in my gauntlet that I have not included a list for, and that is anything involving Forretress. Why is there no list? Because I do not have one. It is a low priority for me to test as I think it is going to not be particularly good. I'm also not entirely sure where to begin with building it. I'm not sure what attacker to use with it. One of the options I've seen thrown around is Latios-EX, as it allows you to attack on the first turn. Latios deals 40 (or more!) damage for a single Energy, so you get a reasonable amount of quick damage without really needing to devote a lot of space in the deck to it, letting you fit more cards towards the Forretress gimmick. I figure I'll wait and see what sort of builds end up getting played on PTCGO, and try and build one off of that, since it is a lot of work to try and build a deck I consider a low priority in testing.

This is the natural evolution of the old Virizion/Genesect decks. Sceptile-EX is pretty alluring in Expanded. Hypnotoxic Laser (which we have as many as nine copies of) enables its second attack, which then deals 130 damage. With a LaserBank and Muscle Band, Sceptile-EX hits for 180 damage for only a pair of Energy.

The first two pairings that came to mind for this shell were Virizion and Genesect, giving the deck immunity to Special Conditions and some nice alternative attackers. In some matchups, Genesect is just very appealing, and you can still run the traditional VG game plan. The other build I was looking at was to pair Sceptile-EX with Ninetales, as both key off of Special Conditions. Ninetales gives you a strong non-EX attacker, and the deck can use Blend Energy to provide both Fire and Grass Energy. The big problem I see with Sceptile-EX is that it struggles against a deck like Night March or Vespiquen, as they use non-EX Pokémon that can take out your Pokémon-EX. As a result, a Ninetales line can actually help maintain a somewhat even exchange.

You'll notice we've got Hex Maniac making another appearance here, and there are a few reasons it is in here outside of its standard utility. The deck has no non-EX attackers, so getting past Safeguard without needing to use G Booster is useful. The decks damage output gets substantially hit by an opposing Virizion-EX, so being able to shut that off to enable Special Conditions is another perk of the Supporter.

This deck is actually pretty low-maintenace, so there is a lot of space. I'm opting for G Booster as my ACE SPEC, for obvious reasons. The deck doesn't really take too much advantage of Battle Compressor, but I just love how well it smooths everything over, even in decks which don't actively abuse it.

Ok, I've stated before that I feel like the thick Crobat line is excessive and really just overkill in a Tyranitar deck...and in general, I still agree with this. I had someone bring up a pretty reasonable counter point for this stance though. Tyranitar is great at nuking Pokémon, but can definitely struggle against some of the more aggressive decks featuring non-EX Pokémon that can hit first or just win the Prize exchange. These are usually Stage 1 decks, or something like Night March. Crobat not only enables Destroyer King in most matchups, but against decks featuring low-HP targets, the thicker line, normally an excess, now lets you steal free KOs between attacks. I was focusing on "In matchups where Mega Tyranitar is good, a full Crobat line is overkill" mindset and ignoring that the Crobat line is actually pretty good in matchups where Tyranitar is bad. I'm not sure the Crobat line is better than letting Yveltal and friends pick up Tyranitar's potential slack, but I figured it was at least worth including a list for it

I wanted to go over an omission I've had so far regarding a card a lot of people have been talking about: Archeops. Using Maxie, you can cheat an Archeops into play on the first turn, locking your opponent out of playing down any Evolution cards. I am just not a fan of this card, because I feel like too large a percentage of the potential field is just not really hindered by the card. Now, normally I like the approach of running a card or two (Archeops and Maxie, in this case) in order to gain a ton of strength against a few decks. Unfortunately, while the actual card count adding this gimmick is only two additions, you have to really adjust your entire engine to make it viable.

The bigger problem I see with this is the power of Hex Maniac. This card is already incredible, and in my opinion should be included in almost every deck as it is. It breaks up a lot of the gimmicky decks, and it also stifles decks which rely heavily on Shaymin for draw power. It turns off Vileplume, enabling Items. It turns off Trevenant, allowing you to play Switching cards. It turns off Blastoise, preventing a chain of powered up attackers. It turns off Mew-EX and Shaymin versus Night March, slowing them down, or controlling who they attack with. It turns off Bronzong's Metal Links. And it turns off Archeops. One turn of Evolution can be backbreaking on decks hoping to rely on Archeops to keep it at bay. The worst part is, Archeops requires a large concession of effort to get out, and Hex Maniac is a pretty easy to fire off reaction to it. (It also can be one when necessary, not immediately in response either.) I would hate to devote the resources chasing Archeops only to get Hex Maniac'd.

Now, lets say you don't share my opinion on how great Hex Maniac is as a one-of in decks, or at the very least, don't assume most people will come to the conclusion by Regionals...if a player is using an Evolution deck that is just completely helpless to Archeops, you have to acknowledge the incentive to run the Hex Maniac increases. I imagine the decks that get completely housed by the Fossil Pokémon are pretty much priced into running Hex Maniac. I know I would be.

Finally, I wanted to at least list some of the ideas which are worth exploring, or at least thinking about. We have almost five years worth of set releases to build from, so there are going to be a huge amount of options. You'll notice a lot of these are simply me wanting to go back and revisit past archetypes which had been good, assuming they remotely stand the test of time. (I will not be thinking about "Six Corners", for example. Sorry Virizion/Kyurem/Terrakion/etc.)

Eelektrik/Rayquaza
Eelektrik/Other Stuff (Very scientific deck name)
Rayboar
Klinklang
Bronzong/Metal
Metal/Rayquaza
Turbo Rayquaza
Donphan
Durant
Crobat/Seismitoad-EX
Vespiquen/Flareon
Vileplume
Virizion/Genesect
Raichu
Mega Manectric
Fighting/Crobat
Dragon Rayquaza/Reshiram
Latias/Reshiram
Latias/Crobat
Primal Groudon
Primal Kyogre

Needless to say, there are quite a lot of directions you can take your initial testing for Expanded. It is both exciting, and admittedly very daunting. Currently, I'm on Yveltal/Seismitoad, but we'll see how things evolve from here. I'll be attending at least the Regionals in Fort Wayne and Philly this fall, since they are within driving distance. Hopefully I'll see some of you there!

 

Chris

[+6] okko


 

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