Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

Expanding Expanded: A Look at Five Decks

Jose goes over five decks that are possible options for the upcoming Expanded format.

09/17/2015 by Jose Marrero


Hello, 60cards readers! I'm back with another Expanded article, only this time it's five instead of three decks that I'll be discussing, and unlike my last article, most of them don't encorporate Archeops. If you want to check out my last article, where I talked about three decks that run Archeops effectively, then you can check it out here. With Regionals creeping closer and closer, this article should hopefully give you more ideas on decks to test. I know a few of these decks you've probably already seen, especially after the Arena Cup results, but I put my own spin on each list so they'd fit to my liking, so hopefully they fit to your liking as well. Of course, we all know by now that all Regionals will be played in Expanded even in Day 1, which is one of the main reasons I'm doing another Expanded article because quite frankly, the XY-on format is almost irrelevant at the moment, at least until Cities come around.

With having all Regionals played in the Expanded format, this now gives people a wide range of card pools to choose from when deck building. Not every deck will be able to beat everything, so just run what you think the meta will shape up to be and hope for the best. With a little bit of good luck and good draws, I'm sure you will do well. There are only two Regionals on Week 1: Phoenix, Arizona and Houston, Texas. I wouldn't be surprised if the meta is basically the Arena Cup results because, well, why not? That's the only major tournament that was played with the Expanded format, so people will take it seriously. The banning of Shiftry, I'm sure, impacted the format a lot because it now means you don't have to ruin your deck's consistency with a pesky old Baltoy. Some of the decks that did well in the Arena Cup such as Archeops variants and Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor were nothing new. Still, I think their results will impact the first weekend of American Regionals tremendously. If you want to see the Top 8 decks from the Arena Cup, then check them out here.

With that said, let's get into the core of the article, starting with Forretress Donk which is similar to Shiftry Donk, but a little less effective.

     A Look at five decks for Expanded

A lot of people think this deck is just as powerful as Shiftry, but I don't think so. Let's say your opponent opens with two Pokémon-EX. Then odds are, you're not donking them. You basically have to hope they open with low-HP Pokémon or just a single Pokémon to make your odds of donking them more viable. This type of deck is an all-or-nothing deck, meaning if you don't win on the first turn, whether you go first or second, then you most likely lost that game. Decks that rely on non-EX Pokémon, such as Night March and Vespiquen, should definitely fear this deck, though.

Let's start with the Pokémon lines. Of course, there's a 4-4 Forretress line, because you want to make sure you have enough damage to one-shot things, so maxing out on these is ideal. You don't always want to rely on a single Forretress to keeping picking up, so the more you can get into play, the better. Four Shaymin-EX is a no-brainer in a deck like this because you want to try and draw your whole deck when going for a turn-one donk and Shaymin-EX is the perfect way to accomplish this, assuming you have the Bench space. The deck's main and only attacker is Latios-EX, so all you really need to find is just one because, again, if you fail the turn-one donk then you've lost at that point. Running only two copies is ideal because you don't want to draw into too many since you don't want them taking up your Bench spots.

The one Absol is interesting because it can set up nice plays on the Active Pokémon since you're most likely donking the Active Pokémon. It's whether or not you can also donk the Bench at the same time that decides the match. So Absol can take off damage so you can manipulate the Active's KO range more easily while at the same time putting an extra 30 damage onto something else on the Bench because Latios-EX plus a Muscle Band is already doing 60 damage. Now let's take a look at the Trainer counts.

The deck runs two Professor Juniper because you don't want to draw too many of them and clog your hand. You want to find Professor Juniper when more than half your deck is basically gone. If you find one of them early, just make sure to hold onto it until you know it's the right time to use it. Four Acro Bike, Bicycle, Super Scoop Up, and Trainers' Mail so we can make sure we draw through most, if not all, of the the deck. Again, it's all-or-nothing with this type of deck. There are also four Devolution Spray because they can immediately be used to devolve a Forretress to play it down again and reuse its Ability.

That brings me to the four Recyles, which are helpful for getting back any resources you need at the time, assuming they're in the discard pile already. It's really great for getting back either PlusPower or Devolution Spray since both are essentially the same thing, assuming there's just the Active in play, but if there's more than one Pokémon, then of course, getting back Devolution Spray with Recycle is more ideal. Now, the four PlusPowers are to boost your damage output with Latios-EX and they're basically an extra 40 damage should you find them all and none are Prized.

Four Ultra Ball to, of course, search out whatever is needed at the time, whether it's Shaymin-EX, Latios-EX, Pineco, or even Forretress. Two Muscle Band because just like Professor Juniper, you don't want to draw in too many since it can hurt your Shaymin draws. With how the deck draws, it shouldn't be too hard to find at least one. Now we get to the deck's one-of Trainers, starting with Repeat Ball. Since the deck runs so many counts of single Pokémon, Repeat helps search out more of the Pokémon you want without having to discard resources. One Float Stone because it's great if you can find it early so you can get Latios-EX in the Active spot without having to rely on Super Scoop Up.

I chose Scoop Up Cyclone as the ACE SPEC of choice because quite frankly, it's a free Super Scoop Up without the flip effect, which is essentially free damage. It can be used for a number of things. For instance, on Forretress for the extra damage or even on Shaymin-EX for more draw. Since the deck relys on Forest of Giant Plants to make the deck function, it only makes sense to max them out, which is exactly what I did. Now , this brings me to the Energy count, which is just two Psychic Energy. Yeah, it seems extremely low, but like I said, you only really need to find one Energy, just like Muscle Band and Professor Juniper. This deck is no Shiftry, but it still can be annoying to play against, especially if you're not prepared for it.

With that said, let's move onto the next deck.

This is one of my favorite decks this season, and for good reason. The raw power this deck brings to the table is a force to be reckoned with. With M Rayquaza-EX maxing out at 240 damage, it's no surprise this deck is a top contender. We've seen it have success in the past before so there's no reason why it still wouldn't be viable with the new Expanded format. Let's start with the Pokémon of the deck. I went with one Dragon Rayquaza-EX just for those random times where it's sitting on the Bench and your opponent is playing Manectric-EX or Night March or basically any Lightning Pokémon that can one-shot the Colorless one. Running one helps in those situations, but there is still two non-Dragon ones for a total of three non-Mega Rayquaza-EX. There is also three M Rayquaza-EX because it's the deck's main and strongest attacker. Some lists I've seen run a 3-2 line, but I personally rely on M Rayquaza-EX to take me to victory more than any other Pokémon so for now, I think I will keep it at 3-3.

I personally love four Shaymin-EX in case some are Prized, but I can see playing three, which is what I'm used to seeing people run. One of the deck's newest inclusions is Hoopa-EX, which came out in our most recent set, Ancient Origins. This card is perfect for this deck because it runs so many Pokémon-EX. A turn-one Hoopa-EX is all you really need to get going. One Keldeo-EX helps to make sure we can get out of Special Conditions, but mainly it's so we can Rush In and Retreat out so we can Metal Links onto a Pokémon and attack with it the same turn. With Accelgor decks being more popular now with the new format, it might even be best to run more than one Keldeo-EX if you think your meta will see a decent amount of Accelgor or Seismitoad-EX because of Hypnotoxic Laser.

A one-of Aegislash-EX makes sure we have some kind of wall against certain decks such as Night March or basically anything that relys on Special Energy. Another new addition to the deck is Lugia-EX from Ancient Origins. I don't know if the deck needs Lugia-EX, although having a turn-one attacker is a nice option to have. Lugia-EX is also a solid attacker and you don't have to rely on Mega Evolving to do some quick damage. Lugia-EX is really good against Giratina-EX, which is a new Pokemon that gives M Rayquaza-EX trouble, so having Lugia-EX as a backup could be worth it in the long run since it can two-shot Giratina-EX. One Heatran just to make sure we have our non-EX attacker that can get through annoying walls such as Safeguard or Hippowdon or even Regice. You can even go with two Heatran if you rather go aggro non-EX more.

I went with a 3-2 line of Bronzong, but you can go with a 3-3 if you want to feel more safe should a Bronzong be Prized or discarded early. That should be it for the Pokémon line. Of course there are other possible options that can be added, for instance, Kecleon if you expect the mirror match or Cobalion-EX if you expect tons of Seismitoad-EX. Altaria is another nice addition if you expect Lightning decks to be popular, so I recommend adding it in if you feel they are going to be. As for the Supporter line, I went with three Professor Juniper, two N, one Colress, one AZ, one Pokémon Fan Club, and two Lysandre. I feel like this Supporter line is pretty solid. Four Professor Juniper seemed like too much, so I went with three so I could fit in other things. You can go up to three N, but the deck takes quick Prizes so a late-game N can be useless.

One Colress is just to have the option of drawing a ton of cards at once. The AZ is a great addition in this deck since it helps for a number of reasons. The first is that you can pick up and reuse Shaymin, and the other is that you can heal things that are damaged or that have a Team Flare Tool on them. The Pokémon Fan Club is great early on since it can grab both a Bronzor and Hoopa-EX, and Hoopa-EX then grabs any three Pokémon-EX of your choice. You could even run Hex Maniac just to get past Aegislash-EX and Giratina-EX more easily. Four VS Seeker and Ultra Ball are standard counts in almost every deck, so no change there. I see people run only two Spirit Links, but since I run a 3-3 line, running three Spirit Links is ideal in my opinion. Two Battle Compressors are so we can dump supporters so VS Seeker can become active and to help put Metal Energy in the discard for Metal Links to work. Two Float Stones as well, so we can put it on Keldeo-EX to make for easier Rush In-Retreats.

A one of Sacred Ash is really great in this deck since it essentially lets you have two Heatran or even two Aegislash-EX should you need to use more than one. It's also great for getting back discarded M Rayquaza-EX and Bronzong. The ACE SPEC of choice is none other than Computer Search because it helps the deck's consistency a lot. Having the option to search out Double Colorless Energy or a Sky Field is nice to have. That brings me to Sky Field, which I have four of since I want to make sure we can find them fast enough when trying to one-shot Pokémon-EX. As for the Energy line, I went with five Metal Energy and four Double Colorless Energy.  I see people going with six Metal Energy, but I think five is good enough since I'm not relying on Aegislash-EX or Lugia-EX to take me to victory.

With that said, let's get into the third deck, Durant/Bunnelby/Ninjask.

Oh no, Durant's back! Only this time with a few new friends, Bunnelby and Ninjask. It's scary to see that this little ant is back after being away for some time. The Pokémon line is pretty simple, so let's get into them. Four Durant, of course, since you want to maximize the number of cards you Devour each turn. Just hope you don't Prize more than one since the deck takes no Prizes, so whatever is Prized will stay there the whole game. Let's move onto the 2-2 line of Ninjask, which is one of the decks newest additions since its reign back in the day. Ninjask is basically used once Durant goes down; you simply promote Ninjask for a free discard on your opponent's deck and since Ninjask has free Retreat, it makes going into another Durant easier. Two Bunnelby just in case you go through resources too fast and they can be used to discard cards as well, as a backup.

One Jirachi-EX and one Shaymin-EX to make sure the deck doesn't dead-draw early on. Having these two as insurance to get out of dead hands is a nice option to have. The one-of Exeggcute is strictly used for Ninjask's Ability since you have to discard a card from your hand in order for it to work, so you can just keep discarding Exeggcute and getting it back everytime so you don't have to keep discarding important cards. The Supporter line is pretty neat, so let's go over them. Four Professor Juniper to maximize draw. Then comes all the one-of Supporters starting with N. The deck doesn't take Prizes, so N will only negatively effect your opponent, which is why we run at least one. One Colress as well, in case we have the option to draw more cards than N or Professor Juniper would give and also if you don't want to discard resources then you can just N or Colress to preserve them. One Skyla simply because the deck runs so many different Items that sometimes you may just need one thing, whether it's a Level Ball or Revive. One Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic since Seismitoad-EX can give this deck trouble. Four VS Seeker, which are mainly used on the one-of Supporters. Four Trainers' Mail as well, since the deck runs so many Items, so Trainers' Mail should almost always get you something.

There are also four Trick Shovels so we can deck the opponent out even faster. Since the deck doesn't need Ultra Ball since everything aside from Shaymin-EX can be searched out with Level Ball, there was no real reason to add Ultra Balls so I went with four Level Balls instead. Four Crushing Hammers, two Enhanced Hammers, and two Head Ringers slow the opponent down, letting your Durant live longer. Two Revive and two Rescue Scarfs keep getting back Durants to keep maxing out on Devours. One Eco Arm is nice to get back Rescue Scarfs and Head Ringers if necessary, and also Life Dew which is the deck's ACE SPEC at the moment. The Super Rod also helps get back Durant or whatever is needed back at the time. Super Rod can also get back Basic Energy, which Sacred Ash can't do, so this is why I went with Super Rod instead of Sacred Ash, even though Sacred Ash can get back more Pokémon. The Energy count is seven Metal Energy, which I think is fine, especially with Super Rod.

With that being said, now let's move onto the deck that won the Arena Cup, Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX.

This deck again? On a side note: this deck is still extremely good in the XY-on format, so if you want to play around with it, I recommend giving it a go, even though you can't use Keldeo-EX and Hypnotoxic Laser. With this deck recently winning the Arena Cup, it's no surprise that it ended up doing so well. No one was prepared for it. People probably weren't expecting another crazy disruption deck, this time paired up with Giratina-EX. The list I presented above is almost card-for-card from the winning Arena Cup list because quite frankly, it's near perfect aside from not running Hex Maniac, which you can see I've included. I've also added a single copy of Munna because with the deck already running Keldeo-EX and Float Stone, it makes Munna that much more viable. The only problem I can see happening with the Munna is Bench space since the deck can easily fill up with Pokémon-EX.

From the original list, I ended up dropping one Head Ringer and the Tool Scrapper for the Hex Maniac and Munna. Obviously you can change the list how you see fit, but I think right now, the list is pretty consistent and has many options going for it. Even though this deck has been talked about a few times, I'll still go over my personal opinions on it, starting with the Pokémon line. Three Seismitoad-EX because it's basically the main attacker of the deck, with Giratina-EX being more of a backup attacker against certain decks that rely heavily on Mega Pokémon or Special Energy.

There are only two Giratina-EX instead of three because they shouldn't go down easily and if they are damaged, you can simply use Super Scoop Up to pick them up. If you're going up against decks like Flareon, Night March, or even Vespiquen, then going for a turn two Giratina-EX is what you want to try and aim for since it shuts those decks down tremendously. Seismitoad-EX can easily stall the opponent until a Giratina-EX is powered up. A turn-one Quaking Punch is still scary and still should be accounted for when deckbuilding. Three Shaymin-EX is fine since four might just be overkill, especially with all the ways to reuse Shaymin. One Hoopa-EX is perfect in this deck because it mainly just runs all Pokémon-EX anyway aside from the one Munna, which I talked about before.

You can see how easy a turn one Quaking Punch can be assuming you find a Double Colorless Energy. One Keldeo-EX just to make sure you can freely get in and out of attackers if needed, especially if you want to transition into a Giratina-EX without having to rely on Super Scoop Up flips or AZ. A sneaky addition you can add to the deck is Latios-EX for the potential turn-one donk, since the deck runs Double Dragon Energy anyway, as well as an easy way to get Latios-EX into the Active spot. Just something to keep in mind in case decks that have a lot of low-HP Pokémon start to see more play such as, Night March or Vespiquen. With all that said, let's move onto the Supporter counts, starting with Professor Juniper.

We're running four Juniper since it's the deck's main source of draw, along with Shaymin-EX. Now, every other Supporter is a one-of aside from Lysandre, and VS Seekers should mainly be saved for these one-ofs. One N, because you still need make sure you have some kind of hand disruption if you're behind and need a way to come back. One Colress just for the potential option of drawing more than seven cards without discarding resources. One AZ is great since it can be used on multiple things effectively, whether it's for reusing Hoopa-EX or Shaymin-EX, or even just to heal things. One Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic just so you can have the option of discarding Energy or Tools if needed. Both great against opposing Seismitoad-EX decks. I added one Hex Maniac to feel more safe against Pokémon such as Aegislash-EX, and Safeguarders, and even Pyroar. Also, you just never know when a clutch Hex Maniac can disrupt your opponent's next play, whether it's stopping Shaymin for a turn or Bronzong's Metal Links. Two Lysandre is pretty much a staple in most decks, if not all, so nothing special here. You can add a Battle Compressor to help find specific Supporters more easily for VS Seeker.

A few other Supporters the deck can also run are Cassius and Pokémon Center Lady, as well as Shadow Triad. All three Supporters have their uses since they can be clutch in certain situations. Cassius can put Pokémon back into the deck and potentially saving them, Pokémon Center Lady can also save Pokémon without losing all the Energy attachments, and Shadow Triad can be used to get back Colress and more importantly, Hypnotoxic Lasers. That's basically it as far as the Supporters go. Let's move onto the Items.

Ever since VS Seeker was released, it's been in a staple in basically every deck. Four Ultra Ball so we can keep the deck as consistent as possible when trying to find your attackers and Shaymin. Four Super Scoop Up because again, it gives the deck a lot more consistency and it also gives you the option to heal and reuse certain Pokémon. Four Crushing Hammer since the deck focuses on locking the opponent out of Items, Tools, Stadiums, and Special Energy so it makes sense that you want to try and lock them from attacking as well, at least to the point where you can power up a Giratina-EX if needed. You could even add a couple Enhanced Hammer just to be more disruptive, but I'm not sure if there's that much room for them at the moment. Still something you should take into account when building the deck. That brings me to the four Hypnotoxic Laser and three Virbank City Gym.

Since the deck's damage output is either 50 from Seimsitoad-EX or 120 from Giratina-EX, adding in the LaserBank combo only makes sense, especially since Quaking Punch and Laser damage combo very well together, as we have seen in the past. To be fair, this deck could still work without the LaserBank combo, giving you room for other things such as more Supporters. You could even run Faded Town if you expect Mega Pokémon to see a fair amount of play, but then again, the LaserBank combo is probably doing more damage anyway and has the 25% chance of keeping them asleep. Another interesting Stadium that could work is Shadow Circle if you expect Fairy decks to come back, since Giratina-EX is Weak to Fairy types. Since Giratina's attack locks in your Stadium and Double Dragon Energy counts as all types, including Darkness Energy, Shadow Circle is a very good way to eliminate that Weakness. Still, in the end, it's hard to give up the LaserBank combo.

Two Head Ringers slow Pokémon-EX down and two Muscle Bands to give Seimsitoad-EX and Giratina-EX more damage output. Two Float Stones, of course, for Keldeo-EX. I chose the ACE SPEC to be Computer Search because in this deck, you're running only Special Energy which Computer Search can search out if needed. As for the Energy count, it runs four Double Colorless Energy, but only three Double Dragon Energy. This is because the deck's main attacker is Seismitoad-EX, so all you really need is one or two Double Dragon Energy in a game since there are only two Giratina-EX. The Super Scoop Ups should help preserve Energy. That's basically it for this deck. You can see why it did so well at the Arena Cup.

With that said let's move onto our last and final deck, which implements Archeops.

This deck is basically an updated version of the "Spookysect" deck that current World Champion Jacob Van Wagner used to win Oregon Regionals in 2014. The basic idea is that Ho-Oh-EX provides Virizion/Genesect with another form of Energy acceleration as well as access to tech attackers via Energy Switch. The deck gains a lot from the addition of Battle Compressor, since it provides a fast way to get Ho-Oh-EX into the discard pile, as well as a way to use this deck's big new Pokémon, Archeops. Let's take a look at the rest of the Pokémon.

The deck runs three Virizion-EX because it's the primary form of Energy acceleration. There are three Genesect-EX because it's the deck's main attacker. You can clearly see this is not your typical Virizion/Genesect deck. Ho-Oh-EX basically gives the deck the option of getting turn-one attacks, whether it's with Virizion-EX, your tech attackers, or even Ho-Oh-EX itself. One Manectric-EX is so you can surprise-KO M Rayquaza-EX, which is one of the deck's biggest problems (although if you can get Archeops out before a Mega Rayquaza hits the field, then you should be in a prime spot, assuming they don't run Hex Maniac). One Jirachi-EX helps ensure we get an easier Archeops going since it can grab Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick if needed. One Shaymin-EX is here as well, just for the added draw power.

One Sigilyph is here just in case you need to buy time and stall for a few turns. Now, the Archeops is a new addition in this deck since it was last seen. Archeops only makes sense since the deck doesn't run Evolution Pokémon. Adding two cards that can demolish Evolution decks is definitely worth it in the long run. Of course, there are other attackers you can decide to run as well, such as Terrakion or Bouffalant, both of which Jacob actually ran back when he won Oregon Regionals. You would just have to change your Energy line accordingly. Let's move onto the Supporter count.

Running four Professor Juniper in this deck only makes sense because you want Ho-Oh-EX and Basic Energy in the discard. Two N because, again, you want to be able to come back in games where you're falling behind. One Colress needs no explanation. One Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick is necessary for Archeops. One Shadow Triad is used for multiple things. It's mostly useful for getting back Plasma Energy and G Booster, but it can even be used to retrieve Genesect-EX and Colress. One Skyla is just for the option of searching out G Booster if needed. Remember that you can search Skyla with Jirachi-EX or discard it with Battle Compressor and use VS Seeker to get it back.

One Lysandre gives you more dragging-up options so you don't always have to rely on Red Signal. Four VS Seeker is a staple in most decks, as I said before (although sometimes I see people running three in Virizion/Genesect decks). The Escape Rope is mainly to get Archeops out of the Active should it get dragged up, but at the same time, it can catch people off-guard when they Bench just one or two Pokémon. Since the deck runs three Genesect-EX, it only makes sense to run G Booster as the ACE SPEC. Having the option to hit anything for 200 damage is too good to pass up and with Ho-Oh being able to get Energy back onto the field, it makes for easier back-to-back G Boosters.

Three Muscle Bands are helpful against Team Flare Tools and to boost the deck's damage output. Two Skyarrow Bridge give Basic Pokémon one less Retreat Cost, which is perfect in this deck since basically everything has one Retreat Cost aside from Ho-Oh-EX. Skyarrow Bridge doesn't work with Archeops, but that's where Escape Rope comes in. This deck can also run cards like Enhanced Hammer or Tool Scrapper, but they can get in the way of getting Archeops out. Now, let's get into the crazy Energy counts. Seven Grass Energy is to ensure we have enough Energy to Emerald Slash onto things if needed, which is why there's more Grass than any other Energy. Three Plasma Energy are for Red Signal plays. Two Lightning Energy are for Manectric-EX, and one Psychic Energy is for Sigilyph, but again, you can run whatever Basic Energy you see fit.  You just need enough different types to effectively use Ho-Oh-EX's Rebirth Ability.

                     Closing Thoughts

That's all I have for you guys at the moment. I hope these five decks give you great results, should you decide to play one of them come Regionals in a couple weeks. All are great options. I think right now, I'm liking Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX the most, just because of how fast and consistent it is. Durant and Ho-Oh may see the least play among these five decks simply because they are a bit too rogue, so people might prefer to play something simpler. Forretress might actually be the same, but then again, Forretress actually has been talked about a ton. I'll be going to Houston Regionals, so be sure to say hello if you see me there. If you have any questions about any of these decks or lists, feel free to ask down below in the comments or message me on Facebook and I'll be sure to get to them as soon as possible.

As usual, if you enjoyed reading this article, then please consider giving it a thumbs up. If you want to see a specific type of article or topic next time, then don't hesitate to give me ideas down below and I'll consider them. Before I forget we recently added Igor Costa and Mees Brenninkmeijer to our 60cards roster so be sure to check out their articles when they are published. As always, keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time!


[+8] okko


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