Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Anaheim Fallout - The Best Decks From Anaheim Regionals

Chris discusses the best decks from Anaheim Regionals as well as some exciting breakout performances from New Sun and Moon cards!

03/12/2017 by Chris Fulop

Hey everyone! Anaheim Regionals (Standard) is in the books, and by the time this gets posted, there is a good chance that St. Louis Regionals (Expanded) may also be in the rear view. I'll have a pair of Expanded lists I have been testing in the off chance I was going to St. Louis (I am not going.) that I want to share with everyone. But a bulk of what I want to go over is the results from Anaheim, the first major tournament with the new Sun and Moon cards legal.

The first major thing I noticed about the results from the tournament was that players generally stayed clear of a lot of the Sun and Moon cards. If you look at the top decks, you saw a smattering of the new set, but they were more supporting additions to already existing archetypes than anything archetype defining. Lets look at the Top 8 from Masters Division.

Anaheim Masters Top 8

1.) Kenny Britton: Darkrai / Giratina
2.) Tony Jimenez: Turbo Darkrai
3.) Lawrence Xu: Turbo Darkrai
4.) Jeffrey Cheng: Vespiquen
5.) Igor Costa: Yveltal / Garbodor
6.) Ryan Sabelhaus: Mega Mewtwo / Garbodor
7.) Rahul Reddy: Vespiquen
8.) Travis Nunlist: Mega Mewtwo / Garbodor

So we had two Turbo Darkrai, two Mega Mewtwo, two Vespiquen, an Yveltal deck, and Darkrai Giratina. All of these are well established archetypes that did not really gain a whole ton off of Sun and Moon. Now, there are two ways to look at this: either the new cards are not that impressive, and are not competitive, or players were much more willing to stick with a deck they knew was good, with a list that was refined in place of trying to optimize a new deck. Not everyone stayed away from trying out new cards: John Kettler had a strong run with a Decidueye / Vileplume deck, for example.

Normally I only address the Masters' lists, but for the sake of trying to find some new Sun and Moon cards, I'll look over the younger divisions' results as well.

Anaheim Seniors Top 8

1.) Turbo Darkrai
2.) Mega Rayquaza
3.) Mega Gardevoir
4.) Lurantis-GX / Vileplume
5.) Mega Rayquaza
6.) Vileplume Toolbox
7.) Mewtwo / Garbodor
8.) Decidueye

Anaheim Juniors Top 8

1.) Mega Gardevoir
2.) Turbo Darkrai
3.) Water Toolbox
4.) Mega Gardevoir
5.) Darkrai / Giratina
6.) Darkrai / Giratina
7.) Yveltal / Garbodor
8.) Mega Mewtwo / Garbodor

So with Seniors, we get a Lurantis deck and a Decidueye deck. While "Water Toolbox" is a fairly ambiguous term for the deck, the deck featured Lapras-GX prominently as a main attacker. So out of a total of 24 decks to make Top 8, three of them spotlighted new Sun and Moon cards.

The "breakout" new cards from the event were actually Tauros-GX and Espeon-GX. Tauros is a great inclusion in most decks running DCE. I mentioned in my last article how I liked it in Yveltal decks, which I don't think was any major stretch, but that turned out to be a general consensus as well. It provides a powerful 60 damage attack for CC, allowing Yveltal access to an easy first turn attack which many builds previously lacked. On top of this, both of it's "rage" attacks are threatening against decks which can't quite OHKO it. (Which is not easy with it's HP total!)

Tauros gains extra strength with Ninja Boy, turning any heavily damaged Pokémon into a cannon out of no where. While there isn't a great engine available in Standard to reliably draw into Ninja Boy and you really don't want to run a bunch of them, the mere threat of Ninja Boy into Tauros looms over an opponent. Either they do not expect Tauros and walk into it, or they do expect the play and thus play around it all game which is great value as well. I love card combinations which passively impact how an opponent plays, and this Tauros gimmick is a great example of it.

Here is a bit of a spoiler, but Rahul Reddy, who has had a great season so far (I am still bitter about him beating me round 9 of Regionals last year! Never Forget!) piloted Vespiquen to a Top 8 finish, and he ran a Tauros in his list. One of the nice perks of this is that if you are a slightly slower deck, you can just toss Tauros active as a deterent to the opponent. If they swing into it, you eat the GX attack before the deck transitions into Vespiquen. If they don't attack it, it gives Vespiquen the time needed to set up better. I think that many players realized how powerful Tauros was, and how impactful it would be in the format as there was a LOT of Escape Ropes being played this weekend, and one of the reasons is to help toss an ornery Tauros from the Active position so you could not feed the Rage. Escape Rope is a card that just gets better and better and I've continually been impressed with it.

Espeon-GX was a card that saw play in some of the Mewtwo decks as a 1-1 line. The card is pretty strong in the mirror match, and honestly, GX attacks are so powerful that there is some incentive to try and have access to one copy of Pokémon which possess them in your deck if possible. There is a similarity with Ace Specs in Expanded... the attacks are scaled over the top by virtue of you being limited to using only one per game, but if you only have access to it once anyways, it just ends up being a really powerful, efficient attack. I don't really even find Espeon that impressive personally, but it slides right into the deck well and the downside to its inclusion is really low. It is also nice because while they function similarly as huge HP Pokémon which give up 2 prizes, a GX is NOT an EX, so cards like Regice can't stop it. In a deck where all of its attackers are Pokémon-EX otherwise, it's an added benefit.

Anyways, lets look over some of the decks. I'm not going to show duplicates of every archetype, I'll go over the lists I personally think are the best examples of the archetypes, even if the list may have placed lower. Since some of the more interesting lists, or at least archetypes, stem from the younger divisions, I'll ignore my usual rule of only discussing lists from Masters and go over those as well.

Kenny is a player who has had an amazing couple of years playing this game now, and a player I still feel flies under the radar a bit despite his growing list of accomplishments. The top 3 placing decks from the event were all realistically "Turbo Darkrai" decks, only Kenny opted to include Giratina-EX and Double Dragon Energy opposed to running the admittedly more streamlined "all Darkrai" builds that took 2nd and 3rd place.

There are a couple of advantages to adding Giratina to offset the slight consistency disadvantages which come with doing so. Double Dragon Energy counts as two Dark while attached to Giratina, so it helps boost your Darkrai damage quicker than the other build can accomplish. It doesn't do a ton to speed up early game damage, but as the game progresses you do scale better.

On top of this, Giratina-EX as an attacker gives you strength against a lot of the decks in the format. Mega Rayquaza saw a resurgence lately and Giratina is fantastic against it. Turbo Darkrai actually struggles in that matchup quite a bit, too, so this is a very relevant benefit. Also, Vespiquen saw a big spike in play as well, with two copies making it into Top 8, and they get locked out of the game by Chaos Wheel clipping them off of Double Colorless Energy.

While the addition of Giratina is not "free" by any chance, it doesn't take a lot of sacrifice to fit it in. You run 14 Energy instead of the stock 12 Dark, and have to make room for two Giratina-EX. In Kenny's case, he opted to go with only three Darkrai EX, which is fine since you actually have another viable attacker. A pair of Yveltal is great in the deck, as it fulfills a number of roles: It is a viable non-EX attacker (and thus your 7th prize). It helps to spew Darkness Energy into play to fuel Darkrai's damage output. It is your one energy attacker either for the start of the game, or if you find yourself wiped and unable to mount something stronger. Finally, Darkrai's damage output is impressive, but not always able to score OHKOs, and setting 30 (or 40 with a Belt) on something works as a great set up attack meaning you aren't even giving up KOs or "relevant pressure" by taking time off to use Oblivion Wing. Also, and I know this isn't super important with the top decks at the moment, but Yveltal resists Fighting, and covers Darkrai's weakness. That is another selling point of Giratina: It varies the weakness of your attackers, too.

Two Shaymin-EX and a Hoopa-EX seem pretty well standard in all of these decks - as well as in Mega Mewtwo, and Yveltal / Garbodor builds. They provide a great safety net of consistency. The last spicy addition to this deck that is enabled by the addition of the Double Dragon Energy is a lone Salamence-EX. There are a lot of decks... such as other Darkrai decks, which are weak to Beastly Fang as they really rely on using so many Pokémon-EX that even if they see the card coming, they can't avoid taking a big hit without truly compromising their play.

Trainer-wise, you see a fairly standard Supporter line of 4 Sycamore, 3 N and 2 Lysandre. To round things out we have an Olympia and a Pokémon Center Lady. Olympia gives the deck additional switch effects, and both cards give the deck some healing prowess. With how beefy the Pokémon get with Fighting Fury Belt, this is pretty useful. I've been testing the Yveltal / Garbodor vs Darkrai matchup lately, and this healing is particularly frustrating for me as it really limits the effectiveness of Fright Night Yveltal.

I don't think I need to explain why the deck runs 4 VS Seeker, 4 Ultra Ball and 4 Max Elixir. The deck runs a pair of Parallel City, which is a great default counter Stadium for a deck that doesn't really need a Stadium to function. The card is just great for either hindering an opponent's set up by limiting their bench, or getting rid of your own benched liabilities as the game goes on. Plus, the damage reducing side can actually be pretty useful. While you do not have Garbodor like some decks, the damage reduction is still annoying for Greninja and Volcanion (although neither deck managed to crack into the Top 8). Decidueye and Lurantis are both fringe playable now, so the Grass damage reduction is not worthless either. It would be strong against Vespiquen too, although in this case you crutch on Giratina's Chaos Wheel so it isn't too important. Finally, Parallel City is the perfect Stadium to lock in play under Chaos Wheel. Decks like Rayquaza and Rainbow Road are just crippled by an uncounterable Parallel City.

To round the deck out, we have 2 Exp. Share, 2 Fighting Fury Belt, and 3 Escape Rope. Fighting Fury Belt is an obvious inclusion, although only two copies is a bit unusual to me. I really feel like the additional 40 HP they grant is important in this deck. Preventing KOs keeps your Pokémon - and more importantly their energy - in play longer, which leads to bigger damage as the game progresses. Its not a deep realization or anything, but the extra HP seems particularly valuable in here. With the inclusion of Escape Rope over Float Stone, they aren't even fighting over Tool attachments with anything. The only real change I'd like with this deck would be to fit a third Belt into it. It works great on every one of the deck's attackers, and I'd want to draw multiples each game.

On the topic of Escape Rope, without running Garbodor, the deck no longer needs to hit a 5-6 count on Tools. While none of the Darkrai builds in Top 8 opted to run Garbodor, the card has been a common inclusion in past lists. Escape Rope is good because it lets you skirt around Tauros, a very popular card this weekend. While I opted to include the 2nd place Darkrai list because I personally liked it better, the 3rd place list DID run a Tauros-GX, even without access to DCE. On top of this, Darkrai decks are very aggressive, and you often find spots where, for the sake of racing, Escape Rope can work as a Lysandre in that it forces an easier KO active. Escape Rope seemed to be the switch of choice for the weekend in the Darkrai decks.

Finally, Exp. Share is another common inclusion in this deck, which makes sense as it conserves energy in play. This is also the likely reason Kenny opted not to run a third Belt, as these do take up Tool slots, and there is a finite amount of space in the deck too. I sit here wanting the third Belt, but at the same time am not really sure what I'd be willing to cut for it besides trimming the third Trainers' Mail which sounds really unappealing because you really do want the deck to be consistent, streamlined and fast.

Before I go over Tony Jimenez's Turbo Darkrai list, I do want to definitively state that if I had the choice between running Darkrai with or without Giratina, I would play it with Giratina. I think the sacrifices made to fit it are absolutely worth it and give the archetype so much more play.

So the Pokémon counts have basically been discussed in the previous analysis, only this list runs a fourth Darkrai and obviously doesn't run any Giratina or Salamence. Without Double Dragon Energy, the list opts for 12 basic Darkness Energy.

Looking at the Trainers is where we will find the big differences in the decks. First off... unlike Kenny's list, we have Sun and Moon cards! The list has 1 Prof. Kukui and 1 Lillie. Tony went on record saying he was actually pretty unimpressed by the cards, and I'm not surprised by that. I really just don't like Lillie, and I think most people are coming on board with that evaluation. I'm more open minded on Kukui, since I was always a fan of Giovanni's Scheme...although that card was reasonable because of Battle Compressor being able to search up your one copy of it. Without Battle Compressor in Standard now, I'm a lot more hesitant to run Kukui. You don't want a ton of them as they are very bad draw Supporters, but there will be situations over the span of a game where the 20 damage really matters. I actually think I do like it in this deck, but I don't think it is close to mandatory. Tony went with 4 Sycamore, and only 2 N in order to fit the Lillie and Kukui.

He also did not run Olympia or Pokémon Center Lady, and went with a Team Flare Grunt and a Hex Maniac. I actually really do like Hex Maniac, even though the decks which are soft to it did not put up great results. As players skimp on Garbodor and Hex Maniac in lists, likely because most of the top decks right now either run Garbodor or could and thus the cards are dead in the tier 1 matchups, decks which got pushed from the format due to their prevalence could make a push back into being competitive. The Grunt pairs with the one Enhanced Hammer in the list to pressure opposing deck's Energy. While all of these one-ofs seem a bit odd at first, you have to also realize that a lot of decks, primarily Yveltal builds, embrace a two-of Enhanced Hammer count to combat the field, and this split isn't really much different than that, only Grunt is a Supporter. This is generally a downside, but it also benefits from being able to hit Basic Energy which is actually important as Volcanion, Darkrai, and Mega Gardevoir at the very least do not run any Special Energy cards. Plus, by being a Supporter, it can be looped with VS Seeker. I have been growing increasingly frustrated by how often Enhanced Hammer has been a dead draw for me with Yveltal, so I can absolutely see how this split is beneficial.

Where Kenny ran his four "switch" cards as an Olympia and 3 Escape Rope, Tony goes with only 2 Escape Rope, a Switch and a Float Stone. I do really like Escape Rope, but I do feel like three is probably excessive. I like 2 Escape Rope, and some natural one sided switching options as well. I'm not sure if I like the Float Stone or Switch better. Olympia is an interesting card, as I've not really fallen in love with it yet. It seems fairly polarizing as some players seem really high on it, and others shy from it. I'm closer to the latter camp, honestly. With this build, since it has more utility Supporters as it is, I can absolutely see why Tony would run a Float Stone over the Olympia. (Olympia benefits from being a re-usable switch due to VS Seeker, and Float Stone offers a similar function in that it leaves you with a permanent free retreater.)

The last difference is in Stadiums. This list runs three total Stadiums, being only 1 Parallel City and a pair of Silent Lab. Without Giratina, Parallel City is less useful, but it certainly does leave you worse off against Rayquaza. I don't think a 2nd one would make you favored either, of course, so I guess that is a poor argument to fit the 2nd.) Silent Lab is just a really good card, and is a slight replacement for Garbodor. Without Garbodor, you still have the Labs and Hex Maniac to be disruptive. While the Giratina build has a strong secondary game plan with Chaos Wheel and Salamence-EX, this deck makes use of the extra space to fit disruption. Lab and Hex attack Abilities, and the Hammer and Grunt can pick apart energy. I still prefer Giratina, but I see the selling point.

While a Vespiquen list did make Top 4 and Rahul was defeated in Top 8, I'm choosing to go with Rahul's list here because again, I think it is the better of the two. I won't pretend I'm an expert with Vespiquen. I actually don't enjoy how the deck plays very well, and I've felt generally uncomfortable using it compared to most decks. I won't deny how good it is as an archetype though. When most decks in the format are abusing EX Pokémon, relying mainly on non-EX Pokémon is going to be strong. Forcing these decks to take six KOs is a big advantage. Lets break the list down some.

First, we'll get the Energy out of the way because it's simple. 4 DCE. Nothing fancy. Last format, you saw lists try and use Fire Energy to pair with Blacksmith and Flareon, but with the rotation of those cards, there isn't really a point in using any other Energy.

The Trainers are pretty simple. 4 Sycamore, 2 N and 2 Lysandre are the bare minimum for pretty much any deck. 4 VS Seeker and 4 Ultra Ball are also just universal. This deck opts for Acro Bike over Trainers' Mail which makes sense. The Trainer count is lower than a lot of decks, and you actually WANT to discard Pokémon cards to fuel Vespiquen's damage.

2 Float Stone are the decks only switching cards, which is fine as the deck does have access to free retreaters, and the card pairs so well with the 2-2 Zoroark line the deck runs. 2 Special Charge are a must with the deck often needing to use six copies of DCE. 2 Revitalizer end up as the deck's Pokémon recovery card of choice. Finally we round the Trainers out with 2 Forest of Giant Plants. These help you get out replacement Vespiquens more easily, while also allowing a turn 1 Vespiquen going 2nd, or a turn 2 Vespiquen if you fail to bench a Combee on the first turn. Honestly, those perks aside, I feel like the biggest reason you want this card is because decks really want Stadium cards. By running no copies, you just allow other decks the ability to keep their Stadiums uncontested. Even if you run less copies yourself, playing a counter stadium and an N in the same turn is so powerful against a lot of decks.

Unlike most decks, the most interesting cards end up being the Pokémon. 4-4 Vespiquen and 3 Shaymin-EX is nothing exciting but they are the core of the deck. Unown is just absolutely perfect in this deck, as it is draw power and a Pokémon that can immediately go to the discard pile for damage. Four is an automatic inclusion. Klefki is another great card in here, as while it takes a turn to do so, they are easy to send to the discard with their Ability as well. There are enough Mega Pokémon in the format where the Ability is just really strong. The Mega Pokémon are generally the ones that Vespiquen struggles to hit enough damage to OHKO, so having a bit of an insurance policy there is nice.

Oranguru is your N insurance... N-surance... hehe... hehe? I guess it could technically attack in this deck too, if you want to use up 2 DCE on it. I'm honestly not sure how necessary it is, since you already have 4 Unown which can be used for this function from N, not attacking with a pair of DCE.

Mew EX is an interesting inclusion, and I'm not going to say I've figured out all of it's roles, but having a basic which can copy Vespiquen's attack is nice. I assume it is mainly as a counter to Mega Mewtwo decks to use for Weakness. It can score an easy quick KO, but it does run into the issue of being shut off by Garbodor so it either has to come out quickly before Garbodor and do it's damage, or it can be used as a surprise since in general I don't imagine Mewtwo decks go out of their way to chase getting Garbodor into play ASAP in this matchup.

Tauros-GX is a capable attacker with a DCE, but is mainly used as a deterring wall in the early game. Having something to hide behind is pretty reasonable in this deck, as it is full of so many low HP Basic Pokémon.

Finally, the deck has two additional Stage 1 lines in Zoroark and an Eeveelution package. Zoroark gives the deck full flexibility with switching, and also is a pretty reasonable secondary attacker for a DCE. I'd say the card is really good against Rayquaza, but it is actually pretty anemic since the matchup doesn't force Ray into a huge bench due to overall low HP totals, and because the deck is naturally strong against it due to forcing Ray to take 5-6 KOs over the span of a game while being able to pick off Hoopas and Shaymins from the bench pretty easily.

This build opts for Vaporeon (counters Volcanion, an otherwise challenging matchup, although one that is disappearing from the metagame some) and Jolteon (counters Rayquaza and Yveltal). Since Vespiquen can struggle to get into OHKO range of Pokémon-EX, especially those suited with a Fighting Fury Belt, being able to take advantage of different Weaknesses is important. I'm actually not the most excited by the Zoroark, but the Eeveelutions seem necessary. It is nice that the deck could also try out Flareon if Decidueye or Lurantis gain traction. One of the biggest selling points for Vespiquen is just how flexible it can be because you honestly have close to 10 flex spots of Pokémon. You have to run a certain amount just to get them into the discard pile, so any Pokémon that may have some obscure fringe purpose could still make the list. I honestly would love to see a Rattata in here, as Fighting Fury Belt can be really annoying.

One of the big challenges facing this deck going forward will be Giratina-EX. With Vespiquen gaining popularity, and Darkrai / Giratina proven to be great having just won this Regionals, I could see a lot of players revisit the card. It seems difficult to really skew this deck in a way to combat that, unfortunately.

Well, I find it a glowing endorsement for this deck when Igor chose to play this over his trusty Mega Mewtwo deck! Don't worry though, he still has a Mewtwo by his side. At it's core, this is a pretty simple Yveltal list. 9 Darkness Energy and 4 DCE. The usual. For Pokémon, we have 4 Yveltal EX, and only 1 Yveltal ( BKT ) 2 Shaymin EX and no Hoopa EX which is less common but something I agree with. Igor is still playing his patented 2-1 Garbodor line (with a Super Rod which makes his 1 Yveltal more tolerable, as I am still a big fan of this card). Tauros GX is great in this deck. It is a turn 1 attacker and an attacker that can be powered in one turn without an Elixir. Plus, it is just so obnoxious to have to swing into. I went over how good Tauros is earlier, so I won't beat a dead horse here.

Finally we have a Mewtwo, who is another one Energy attacker, as well as a strong counter against Mega Mewtwo which he correctly predicted would be a popular choice for this event. It is also another non-EX attacker with a lot of HP which is nice to have with his trimming of Yveltal. I see why he would play 4 Yveltal EX... it is the decks core attacker, and without Hoopa, you want to draw into them naturally more often. That being the case, there are two changes I would make to this list, and they are fairly lateral changes, but I would still go with 3 Yveltal EX and 2 Yveltal (Fright Night).

The second change I would make would be to cut the third N for the third Trainers' Mail. This is again a preference call, and the difference isn't that great. The rest of the Trainers are pretty stock, with the only worthwhile cards to talk about being the two Enhanced Hammers, the Super Rod, and the Ninja Boy. The Hammers aren't necessarily innovative, but are worth noting that he continues to include them. I mentioned before how I found them frustrating often, but at the same time, when they work, they are so good. I get annoyed drawing them often, but don't want to cut them either. Super Rod is a necessity with the 2-1 Garbodor line, as well, and my gut tells me Igor crafted a lot of his Pokémon decisions around the fact he ran the Rod.

Ninja Boy is mainly for Tauros, as that play, and even that threat of play is so powerful. Ninja Boy also offers a degree of flexibility over a game, and can also just smooth out your draws at times. I wouldn't even hate a second copy of the card, as every time I do draw into it, it has been very powerful. Its weird, as this is still one of my favorite decks in the format right now, as it feels like it is just super competitive against every deck while not really feeling terribly favored against much anymore. It is just such a safe choice that gives you the ability to outplay people regardless of matchup, and that is really appealing to me.

Here is another deck that didn't run any Sun and Moon cards! Woo! Actually, also making Top 8 was Travis Nunlist with a very similar list, only he ran a 1-1 Espeon GX line. In order to fit it, he cut the Hex Maniac and the third Trainers' Mail. It is a pretty simple switch if that is what you prefer.

The Pokémon here are the same as they have been in this deck since it's inception more or less. Ryan also opted for the 2-1 Garbodor line, which seems to be gaining more and more popularity among top players. I'm okay with gambling! (I mean, I can't say anything: I ran a list at Worlds 2006 with no less than 23 1-ofs...) The Energy is also the standard 7 Psychic, 4 DCE count.

The Trainers are also pretty much stock, although it is worth noting that Ryan is only running a single Parallel City alongside his 2 Shrine of Memory. I still am not a huge fan of the Shrine gimmick, but it is what it is. With the resurgence of Mega Rayquaza as a threat, I really would like the second Parallel City back, and I think I would just invert those two counts anyways.

Anyways, moving on, we have some lists from the younger divisions that are a bit more exciting!

From Seniors, we have this Vileplume deck featuring the new Lurantis-GX! (I intentionally avoid using the names of the younger players for privacy reasons.)
Pokémon wise, we have a 4-3 Lurantis line, and an unusual 2-3-3 Vileplume line. I am honestly at a loss for why the line would be split like that, as Oddish is the most important part of the line to have copies of. If there were more ways to just grab Basic Pokémon in the deck, I could see offsetting that by running less of the Basics, but the deck actually runs 2 Timer Ball, making the Evolutions easier to grab. I am so confused by this line that part of me actually suspects that the list entered online on Pokémon's website may have been put in incorrectly. I would much rather see a 3-3-2 line. Anyways, finally, we have 3 Shaymin-EX which are important for setting up since a majority of the game will be played Item-less due to Vileplume.

Lurantis is pretty much the deck's only attacker, but boy is it a good one. As a Stage 1, 210 HP is pretty massive. Admittedly, with only 9 Grass Energy, it feels like it's first attack isn't going to be too impressive early on. Still, 40 for a Grass is good, and its upside is really powerful. It is just such a powerful attack even if this deck doesn't inherently make the most of it.

Lurantis' primary attack is going to be doing 120 damage for three Energy and healing damage off of itself. Backed up by the disruption from Vileplume, I feel like many decks are going to be hard pressed to chew through a few of these guys. It's GX attack, Chloroscythe, is powerful, but takes awhile to get powered up to the point where it is worth the energy investment.

The second biggest selling point of this deck for me (the first being well, Vileplume, as it is extremely obnoxious to play against and a lot of decks are just really soft to it) is how streamlined and consistent it is. It is ironic that a deck which has the end game of locking out all Items can benefit so much from it's Item-based engine, but that's what these Vileplume decks do. Lurantis is just because it piggybacks off the 4 Forest of Giant Plants so well. It will often come out on the first turn, and going second, hitting for 40 and potentially dumping some Energy into play.

The Trainers are not too different from the engine used in say, Vileplume Toolbox decks that we are already familiar with. One thing I would like to see in this deck is actually a third Lysandre. This deck is doing a lot of 2HKOing, meaning it will not be rare for Pokémon to get retreated to hide on the bench. Only a pair of Lysandre seems low. On top of this, both of Lurantis' attacks benefit from a lack of pressure...Lysandre'ing up something with no Energy and hitting it to buy time either gives you free turns of healing or energy acceleration, both plays which seem worthwhile.

The two changes I would make almost immediately to this deck would be to invert that Vileplume line, and then cut a Timer Ball or Level Ball for the third Lysandre.

Next up we have a Decidueye deck. This is interesting because it doesn't really have a whole lot of flashy support behind it, it is pretty much just a Decidueye deck. In Expanded, people are hyping Seismitoad / Decidueye. In Standard, I know John Kettler ran Decidueye with Vileplume, although I do not have his list. In this case, we see a full 4-4-4 Decidueye line, 2 Shaymin-EX, and some really interesting supporting attackers.

We have the lovely Tauros-GX as an attacker, who I can't stress enough how much I like. I wouldn't mind two in here, honestly. If an opponent wants to ignore the Tauros, it's attacks plus the Ability damage from the Owls is going to end up crushing them. Lugia is your other primary attacker, also powered by the 4 DCE the deck runs. Lugia is just a great attacker and easily slotted into this deck. Its damage output was usually just shy of competitive as a primary attacker, but when you back it up with Decidueye, it becomes far more formidable.

Finally, by far the cutest addition is a pair of MEOWTH. Yes. MEOWTH. The Fates Collide Meowth has an attack for a DCE that does 50 damage to any Pokémon with damage on it...which is pretty much whatever you want when you get some Owls in play. Three Owl Abilities plus a Meowth shot can take out a Shaymin-EX off the bench in one turn! I'm not sure I like two copies of Meowth, one may suffice...or maybe the deck already wants more recovery cards, in which case one copy would also be plenty.

Energy wise, we have 4 DCE and 3 Grass Energy. The Grass allow you to use Decidueye's GX attack, and also potentially use it's normal attack as well. They also let you boost up Lugia's attack, retreat Pokémon, and if you pair them, potentially power a Lugia, Tauros or Meowth. With the slower, grindier nature of this deck, I do feel it is worthwhile to play energy beyond just the DCEs, even if it is definitely very awkward.

Again we see a 4 Forest of Giant Plants based engine, which is pretty much mandatory in order to get out all of your Owls. Supporter wise, we have 4 Sycamore, 3 N and a Lillie (I hate Lillie) and a Lysandre. First of all, I'm not sure how I feel on this engine. First off, I don't want to play Lillie in anything. Second, Sycamore is a bit awkward because you wind up discarding Owl parts, and you don't run that much recovery. I do feel like the solution here is more recovery opposed to cutting Sycamores, but still, it is a bit of an issue.

Finally, I'm not sure I like one Lysandre. I get that the deck is kind of similar to Greninja in that you deal most of your damage through Abilities and thus Lysandre can feel redundant, but I think that's a bit off. First of all, your damage output is definitely lower than Greninja. I see a lot of game states arising where you want to put damage down with your Owls AND hit the target for a KO. I also see a lot of times where you want to bring something up to strand and them snipe around it (likely also using Meowth). The flexibility of Lysandre makes me want the second copy anyways.

The rest of the deck's engine consists of 4 Ultra Ball, 4 VS Seeker, 4 Trainers' Mail, and 3 Level Ball. The deck isn't as "all in" with it's first turn as the aforementioned Vileplume deck, but it doesn't have to be. The gap in performance between getting the T1 Plume vs T2 or later is massive. This deck still plays normal, fair Pokémon and has a grindy game plan that can stumble a little bit.

Finally, to round the deck out, we have 2 Fighting Fury Belt, which are great on Tauros and Lugia (a little bit shy of "enough" on the frail Meowth) and 2 Float Stone and an Escape Rope as switching cards. Every deck needs them, even if they are unexciting. Finally, to round it out, a Revitalizer to get some of your Owls back.

My changes to this list, without having gotten to play it (hey, Decidueye are hard to get on PTCGO, alright!?) would be to cut Lillie for a Lysandre and to cut the second Meowth for some sort of universal recovery card because it both becomes a second Meowth, and also because it alleviates the pressure of discarding Owls to Sycamore.

"Waterbox", a "Water Toolbox" deck first popped up last year and saw differing degrees of success for the duration of last formation. Unfortunately, one of the key parts of the deck, Seismitoad-EX, rotated this year, and not much had been heard from any sort of replacement build since it's exit. WELL, with Sun and Moon and the introduction of Lapras-GX, the deck could have found a new lease on life!

Lapras-GX is a sturdy Basic Pokémon clocking in with a huge 190 HP. For just one Water, it can draw you three cards! That means the deck is going to have some inherent consistency to it, even though the attack is more of a fallback plan than anything you actively want to be doing. Lapras' main attack deals 160 damage for three Energy, but it can't attack the following turn. With Manaphy allowing it to retreat for free, though, that isn't a tremendous issue! Lapras' GX attack does 100 damage, also for 3, but automatically paralyzes the Defending Pokémon. This attack is likely best saved for late game scenarios once switching cards have been depleted and you can pair it with an N, but it is still really powerful.

Manaphy-EX is another core pillar of this deck, as it gives all of your Pokémon with Water Energy on them a free retreat cost. Paired with Max Elixir and Energy Switch, Manaphy gives the deck a near total freedom when it comes to switching between it's Pokémon. Manaphy has a frail HP total, but a somewhat reasonable attack. Still, while it can tag in to do some work, it's main purpose in the deck is to help with retreating.

Glaceon-EX is part of the "toolbox" nature of the deck. It is your silver bullet against decks which primarily rely on Stage 1 Pokémon to attack. Palkia-EX is a cool card that hasn't really seen much play previously but finally has a home. Rocking 180 HP, Palkia is quite the tank, and it's Aqua Turbo attack for WW does 40 damage and grabs two Water from your deck and dumps them into play! While the deck primarily relies on Max Elixir for acceleration, this attack goes a long way towards getting you set up for the rest of the game. To top it off, for four Energy, Palkia does 120 damage and snipes something for 30. While it is a bit expensive, it isn't unreasonable to use this attack either.

Finally, we have a Regice, which is your toolbox answer to decks relying mainly on EXs. Mewtwo, Darkrai and Mega Rayquaza come to mind. Unfortunately, as decks have access to more and more GX attackers, Regice just gets inherently worse. Still, this deck is so well equipped to make use of it that you can rely on it being "strong" against certain decks without the need to expect it to nearly auto win the matchup on it's own since you don't have to compromise your overall game plan to chase this dream.

The Trainers are pretty interesting. Supporter wise, we have 4 Sycamore, 3 N, 1 Lysandre, 1 Ninja Boy, and a Kukui. I refuse to believe 1 Lysandre is correct and would immediately cut something for it. Ninja Boy is awesome in here, and it fits with the decks overall plan of being flexible. Tauros is a bit awkward without DCE, but it can be powered up in a turn off of Elixir, and is also just so good in this deck as a Ninja Boy target. Kukui is also great in here, because the damage output is generally on the lower side. Also, it lets Lapras jump up to 180 damage (or 190 with a Belt!) which is incrementally very important.

For Stadiums, we have 3 Rough Seas, which is obviously great when all of the deck's attackers are Water Pokémon. Lapras has so many hit points, and when paired with a Belt and Rough Seas, it is just so hard to take out. There are less and less decks which can piggyback off of the Rough Seas against you now too.

The rest of the deck's engine is made up of Ultra Ball, VS Seeker, Trainers' Mail and Dive Ball. To go with the Elixir and Manaphy-EX, the deck runs 3 Energy Switch. Toolwise, we have 2 Fighting Fury Belt, and 3 Bursting Balloons, which are awesome in here. Taking 60 damage makes it so Lapras more or less can OHKO any Pokémon. The one thing that worries me about this is that Escape Rope is so popular that it is easy for a lot of decks to get around the Balloon. The nice part is, if a player Lysandres or Ropes around it, they reset your Lapras' attacking ability by benching it.

Anyways, lets look at some of the Expanded decks I'm liking at the moment. I won't pretend I am the best versed in the format, I'm not really a fan of it and there are not a ton of events for it so I don't test it as much as I do standard, which is why I default to two of the decks I've played over and over again: Yveltal and Mega Rayquaza.

Just an updated list for Yveltal / Maxie. You have the standard 3 Yveltals. Yveltal-EX is one of your primary attackers. Yveltal (BKT) is honestly one of the main cards drawing me to this deck over and over again. I'm not the biggest fan of Yveltal XY anymore, but it has it's uses and I like it against more disruptive Toad builds (although Decidueye and Crobat builds seem to be the most talked about now) and if anyone is still on Night March. Trevenant is a lot worse now too, but it isn't bad there either. I've seen a lot of lists forego it entirely,a nd I don't think I can pull the trigger on that.

For Dark attackers, I'm also running 2 Darkrai-EX, as it diversifies weakness and because well, Night Spear is still good. Darkness Cloak is also extremely important to the deck, but I don't think I need to stress that too much. Shaymin/Hoopa/Jirachi-EX are all for consistency. The deck's bench does get fairly busy actually, so Hoopa is a little difficult to justify now, but being able to chain into Jirachi is really important. The addition of Ninja Boy as a means to ditch it later is key too.

The Maxie gimmick lets me play an Archeops ( It is really good against Vespiquen and Eels, and well, honestly a lot of decks, even if you have to worry about Hex Maniac or Wobbuffet turning it off eventually. ) and a Gallade which is a great non-EX attacker, even though I feel like it is getting comparitively weaker as more powerful cards get printed.

Finally, we have Tauros, who is just as good in Expanded as it is in Standard. It may even be better, because Ninja Boy is easy to get with Jirachi and Battle Compressor. (One of the new Legendary Pokémon from Sun and Moon has Jirachi's Ability too and will be printed coming up soon, so that will make Ninja Boy much more reliable in Standard, which will only further raise Tauros's stock to a probably obnoxious level.)

Energy wise, 7 Dark and 4 DCE is pretty much perfect. I've flirted with 6 Dark over the years and while it is functional, I still hate it and would much rather play it safer
For the Trainers, I really like diversifying my Supporters in Expanded. 2 Sycamore and 2 N are the bread and butter of the deck, but 1 Ghetsis, 1 Colress and 1 Maxie are also there as good targets. This isn't the best Ghetsis or Colress deck, but the opportunity cost of running them is pretty low with all of the search. I'm taking a calculated risk running 1 Maxie opposed to 2, but you don't need the combo in any matchup, and if you prize pieces, you can Battle Compressor away the rest.

I also run an AZ, a Ninja Boy, a Xerosic and 2 Lysandre. Lysandre is obvious, and AZ is just a card I like too much in Expanded. It is really helpful against any Accelgor deck, and I like it a lot against Toad as well, in addition to it just being a way to free up bench spots or switch/heal. Xerosic fills both the "Tool Scrapper / Megaphone" slot and random Energy Removal role while also functioning under Item Lock, a feature that is way more appealing in Expanded than Standard.
4 Trainers' Mail, 3 Battle Compressor and 1 Computer Search are mandatory towards making the Maxie gimmick functional. Dark Patch is the best card in the deck. I'd like a third Fighting Fury Belt, but can't fit it in the deck. I have room for one switching card besides AZ (as Darkrai helps with a lot of that stuff) and I went with an Escape Rope since it has a lot of utility built into it. Since status conditions actually see play in Expanded, I prefer Switch or Escape Rope over Float Stone here.

There are so many cards you can include in a deck like this in Expanded that you obviously end up leaving some stuff out. I feel like I managed to include most of the cards I wanted in this build, even if a lot of the numbers are fairly thin. I'd love to have a Super Rod or some similar type effect in here, just to be able to re-use a lot of the Pokémon.

Finally, we have trusty old Mega Rayquaza. Big surprise, right? Mega Rayquaza is so much better in Expanded, at least in vaccuum because it has Battle Compressor and Colress. It may not be as well positioned, but a lot of the clunkiness issues it faces in Standard long gone.

Before I get into the list I want to touch on Ray for Standard. (Despite having some Top 8 placements in Anaheim, I didn't go over the deck because I felt like I'd gone over the archetype enough as it is.) I saw a list that placed well recently that ran Volcanion-EX and Fire Energy. As someone who has included Fire Energy in my list for the fringe use of using opposing Scorched Earths before, I'm astounded I never pieced that together. One of the reasons I avoided trying to build some kind of aggressive "turbo" Ray build in Standard is the lack of good discard outlets for Energy without access to Battle Compressor. (Especially since Sycamore is a double edged sword in the deck.) With Volcanion as a Hoopa'able discard outlet, it actually changes a lot as you can reliably hit a turn 1 Mega Turbo now.

Anyways, to this list...rather than bothering with a grindy Puzzle of Time engine, we can actually just chase the turn 1 Ray again, which is a relief. No Acro Bike still, but we get the full set of Trainers' Mail again. I try to keep the Energy and Supporter ( cards which are hard to filter from your hand ) to a minimum. For raw draw power, I almost exclusively want to play Colress or N. I don't even bother with Sycamore, as the deck can get a powerful Colress on the first turn most games.

Lysandre is a most, and I love Hex Maniac in this deck, especially going first. You can make such a gap in set up that even weaker matchups are very winnable. AZ is both a third Switching effect, and a way to get liability Pokémon off your bench. It is also a way to Switch under Item Lock. Against Item Lock decks, I try to hold Jirachi for the late game as it (or your Hoopas to get it) let you grab Lysandre / AZ / Hex at key times.

Xerosic can help combat Toad, and also deals with generally pesky tools. The Pokémon are pretty simple, with the exception of 2 Exeggcutes. I love being able to bring them back at will, and it just really smooths the deck out and makes it easy to get a full bench even with your Sky Fields being countered.


Magearna-EX/Virizion-EX: Both of these Pokémon dictate which Energy type you play and give you protection from status conditions/negative effects. I don't think they are worth it, but they are options.

Giratina (Promo): A great counter to Trevenant BREAK, but it feels like Trevenant is a bit unpopular at the moment, so I don't want to start it.

Prof. Kukui: It seems silly, but if you end up needing to OHKO 250 HP Pokémon-GX, you have an option to be able to do it.

Prof. Sycamore: I hate this card in here, but if you are too paranoid not to run it, you can.

Skyla: Skyla is great as its a safe way to grab a Sky Field or specific Trainer. With Computer Search, it can even grab DCE. I thin you draw enough quantity that this isn't necessary, but I like it enough to consider it.

Teammates: Similar to Skyla, although I think worse since you will be so aggressive.

Karen: This is another recovery card, which I wouldn't mind in the deck (maybe cut an Exeggcute for it?) and it is really solid against Night March or Vespiquen.

Seismitoad-EX: Paired with Karen, Toad can really mess up Night March. I feel like it is too weak against Vespiquen though, and that is the deck I care more about beating between the two.

Anyways, that is all for this week! I'll be back next time after what promises to be an exciting Regionals!

[+14] okko


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