Experts' corner

Aaron Tarbell

Newcomer's Guide to the Expanded Format

Howdy y'all! With Dallas right around the corner, it’s time to saddle up with some expanded, so I will be bringing you the Newcomer's Guide to the Expanded Format.

01/25/2018 by Aaron Tarbell

In the last year, there have been a ton of players picking up the Pokémon Trading Card Game at a competitive level. This has been seen from the huge rise in attendance numbers for each Regional this year. Having just recently picked up a secondary card game, I have come to understand how daunting it is having just a few, unfamiliar, legal sets, let alone 30 plus! So I have decided to dedicate this article to getting beginners and standard afficiandados up to speed on what cards from the old days they will need to know in order to perform well.

First, I will cover the trainers you may not have seen, or forgotten about, that you should definitely keep in mind for the tournament. Then, we will cover some of the most popular and older Pokémon that will influence the metagame. And, to not disappoint anyone that looking for an analysis on how the meta will probably shake out, I will be concluding the article with a rundown on what the audience can reasonably expect the meta to be.

Trainers you need to know about

I went through my whole box of expanded cards just to make sure you are well-versed on these trainers from way back when. Let's go through them by category.

a. Supporters


We are starting with old supporters because they are the best cards in the game, and they are designed to have broken effects. Every supporter in the game has to have an effect that would be situationally better than Professor Sycamore or N in order to be competitive, especially in a format that has the option to reliably recycle the cards. We will also begin with supporters because they are the cards people will definitely have to play against the most since lines of supporters tend to be standardized in a format or entirely altered to support a deck’s out game plan. One of the problem with starting with supporters as the reason why some cards are so busted is how they are coupled with popular strategies, but the same could be said for starting with Pokémon or Items, so if there is a reference to a card that is not fully explained here, it will show up again in later segments.

         i.            Professor Juniper -- Okay, so don’t let me lose you here. I know Professor Sycamore exists, and everyone comfortable with standard should also be comfortable with the effect of the card. Discard your hand to draw seven cards with the only drawback being that you can only do it once per turn is insane, and it’s the effect that is highlighted the heaviest for people entering into the game with a background of other card games. The notes I really want to hit about both Professor Sycamore and Professor Juniper are that you can only run sets of one of these cards in your deck (if you run Juniper, you cannot run Sycamore), and these cards, while busted, have been the gold standard for supporters to compete with for years. With the ability to play a myriad of other draw cards, these remain the best, but they are run in less numbers than in standard due to popular item cards such as VS Seeker, Puzzle of Time, and Dowsing Machine. The concept for most popular expanded decks is that they can get away with running 1-2 of specific supporters, and then they are able to have access to 5 or more of that supporter if they need it. Even with this, most decks continue to run 3-4 Professor Juniper and 2-3 N due to how necessary these cards are when they are needed.

       ii.            Colress -- This card is the man himself and the only draw supporter arguably better than N and Professor Juniper. This card will be played as a 1-2 of in almost every deck at the tournament. The draw is awesome for decks that have to bench a lot of Pokémon, like Zoroark-GX, and for decks that do not have a large bench, because it lets them keep up with decks that do. In the later turns of the game, or even turn one for Skyfield decks, this card easily nets between 7-9 cards and does not force the player to discard resources to draw them. With this card around, it will be a good idea for big basic decks to keep a low bench if they can, to prevent their opponents from getting insanely large hands to hit exactly what they need.

      iii.            Shadow Triad -- While this card is definitely niche; it is set up to see massive play in Dallas. There’s a strong combination between Hypnotoxic Laser and Seismitoad EX’s Quaking Punch. Quaking Punch does low amounts of damage, but it prevents the opponent from playing the cards they need to win. Hypnotoxic Laser both stacks damage on the opponent faster through poison, and it allows for Seismitoad to get turns where they take no damage due to a 25% chance that the opponent will stay asleep going into their turn. Shadow Triad is a great card to include in Toad Zoroark decks, because Zoroark will draw the cards that Seismitoad needs to win, so the deck can play supporters that do not draw, when necessary. Shadow Triad + Lusamine is a mean combination for Seismitoad/Zoroark due to allowing the deck to play essentially infinite Hypnotoxic Laser and recycle Virbank City Gym to continue to boost Seismitoad’s damage, take knock outs going into the Seismitoad deck’s turn, and buy more damage free turns for Seismitoad. This card is quite niche, but it is very strong in the right deck. If you play against Seismitoad Zoroark, it will likely be 50/50 if they are playing this card, so it will be more difficult to just run the opponent out of their Hypnotoxic Laser through Guzma and healing supporters.

     iv.            Iris -- This card is so rarely played it probably should not be mentioned, but it is definitely one to understand is in the format and take note of when it is seen. The card sets up for knockouts that are completely unexpected and has potential to be played in any M Gardevoir EX deck that is trying to stick around, but it is typically outclassed by other damage boosting supporters such as Professor Kukui.

       v.            Korrina -- This fighting girl can be expected to be played in any fighting deck. It allows for controlled search against decks that try to deck out opponents, and it is super strong for set up. It is a Wonder Tag target that can grab things like Muscle Band or Wide Lens for turn one attacks that can decimate decks that need to evolve to win. She will not be played in decks without fighting Pokémon though.

     vi.            Xerosic -- This is a VS Seeker recyclable Enhanced Hammer that has a 50/50 chance to be played in any deck that needs to control energy attachments to win like Seismitoad, Wailord, and Sableye. While it can also hit pesky tools like Float Stone, it is generally used for hitting energy attachments while under item lock against things like Seismitoad EX and Trevenant. If the deck play’s Plumeria, they will likely not play Xerosic due to already having a card that does a similar effect better under the right circumstance.

    vii.            Archie’s Ace in the Hole/Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick (the boys) -- Expanded, at one point, had boiled down to not allowing any stage 2 decks to be viable. Decks that lock abilities or items typically run rampant and tear apart decks that rely on Rare Candy to play Pokémon with strong abilities. These boys here allow for players to get around the evolution rule by just playing the strong stage two Pokémon on the first turn. Archie’s can see fringe play in Blastoise that needs the card to be successful now, and it can even get out Empoleon if people want a less consistent Diving Draw mechanic with alternate typing. Maxie’s, while seeing even more fringe play, and is more likely to be seen due to the potential for it to bust out Gallade from the discard in Gardevoir-GX. Most players will not see these cards in their opponent’s deck, but Maxie’s for Gallade is a super strong combo that should not be overlooked.

  viii.            Teammates -- The twins grew up, and they became awesome. The card allows for decks to search out any 2 necessary cards for a situation 3-4 times a game. In a format with Trashalanche and item lock being threats, this supporter adds a ton of consistency to any deck. While it tends to see fringe play, it has had success earlier in the season, and it should be expected in any deck that plans to attack with low HP Pokémon or does not run Zoroark GX to draw their entire deck. It is also a sizeable addition to almost any popular deck list due to the strength of what adding a perfect two cards from the deck to the hand.

     ix.            Steven -- Most players will not see this card played. It has potential in mill decks, and it saw play in the winning list of a regionals last year. I can only imagine this card seeing play as a one-of in Wailord if they try to run a Bunnelby and some energy to help with the mirror and Groudon.

       x.            Lysandre -- This card used to be the only VS Seeker searchable “Gust of Wind” effect, and it saw play in every deck. Now with Guzma around, this card is very likely to be a one-of in decks that do not run Pokémon with free retreat to add some versatility, but this card being in format basically guarantees most decks will attack what they want with what they want.

     xi.            Blacksmith -- This card is super nice for fire decks such as Turbo Turtles that need to attach large amounts of fire energy in to maintain tempo. It has also been played in the past in conjunction with Flareon in Vespiquen decks to have a way to attach energy from the discard with a supporter even after all Double Colorless Energy are gone.

    xii.            Ghetsis -- This card has flip-flopped from being viewed as busted or overwhelming since the beginning of expanded. It has potential to end games before the opponent gets a turn if played on turn one, and it has the potential to steal games at any point players do not play around it. Even with this, the card can be pretty underwhelming to play on a turn if players use their VS Seekers/Ultra Balls the turn before it is played, but just having it, and potentially forcing players to play around it, makes dedicating a spot in the deck to it worth it even if it is never played for its effect. Players can assume that any Seismitoad EX, Sableye, or Night March decks are likely playing a copy of the card, each for different reasons. Seismitoad can use it on turns it’s forced to attack with another Pokémon to mitigate the strength of opponent’s hands, Sableye can try to brick opponents or force their hand sizes to be low to get early delinquents to zero, and Night March can take super-fast wins if opponents have weak starting turns. While it will be common in these decks, almost any deck could justify having one in, but do not assume a deck plays more than one.

  xiii.            Hugh -- This card is nice in Wailord. One of the common strategies against any mill deck is to build up a large hand and then use an N late game to shuffle them into the deck and gain a ton of turns before decking out. Hugh lets Wailord players play their removal cards and use VS Seekers on Team Rocket’s Handiwork while opponents are building up a large hand and then gain massive card advantage when played right before the opponent wants to put the buildup cards into the deck. While the card is definitely nice to have in Wailord, it might have just been phased out by Delinquent, but if you see one, expect to have to be super aggressive to win rather than potentially gaining card advantage on the Wailord with your own Delinquent plays.

  xiv.            Karen -- This card is in standard, but it takes on a whole new life in expanded. Decks that are reliant on putting Pokémon in the discard to deal damage need to be weary of being item locked and having Karen force the Pokémon back into the deck. While Zoroark GX makes this a little more manageable for Night March decks, it is still something Night March can struggle with. If there is Double Colorless Energy, a Seismitoad EX, or Trevenant in a deck, players can comfortably assume a Karen is in the deck.

   xv.            Hex Maniac -- This card went from being a staple in every deck to seeing fringe play. It is a necessary card for some decks to compete against safeguard effects or the like, and it is very strong for turning off both Trade and Forest Curse. This card, like Ghetsis, has the slim chance to both steal games early and late by turning off precious abilities needed to either set up or win games. Due to its current lack of popularity, it is a card I heavily suggest including in some decks and one I do not feel players need to play around unless they see their opponents playing it. It is typically more heavily played in aggressive decks.

  xvi.            AZ -- Last supporter! This is a worse Acerola that does not have any conditions to being player. It is much better than Acerola in decks that play heavier counts of energy or have large bench spaces due to being able to pick up bench sitters without damage like Tapu Lele GX to reuse effects or undamaged Pokémon like Exeggcute to replace them with stronger bench sitters. It has the potential to be played in any deck that considers Acerola, but it will see less play due to losing energy on Pokémon that it picks up.

b. Items in Expanded

There are way too many playable items, so I will do my best to keep this concise to the ones most players are guaranteed to see.

         i.            VS Seeker -- This card gives you whatever supporter (best effects in the game) whenever you want it. Assume every player is playing four of these in their deck.

       ii.            Hypnotoxic Laser -- It has already been mentioned with Shadow Triad. Very good item that Seismitoad primarily abuses but some fighting decks have used in the past. Assume opponents are playing one in Sableye if you see it and four in any other deck you see one in.

      iii.            Muscle Band -- This card has been almost phased out by choice band, but for decks that need the extra “oomph” to take quick knock outs early, this is your head band. This card is very strong in fighting decks and Seismitoad-EX decks, but if you see Choice Band, it is likely not being played in the deck just for consistency reasons.

     iv.            Trainer’s Mail -- A few expanded formats ago, this card was the engine in almost every deck. Nowadays, this card is a reluctant inclusion due to the strength of Trashalanche, Trade, and mill cards, but it very well can be the extra consistency that some decks need to be competitive. It is a staple in any Archie’s, Maxie’s, or Night March deck.

       v.            Wide Lens -- While this card has never seen the finals table of a large tournament before now; the meta is likely primed for it this time around. This card couples very well with Buzzwole-GX and Landorus-EX for knocking out multiple Zorua on the first turn or putting large amounts of pressure on Darkrai oriented decks.

     vi.            Target Whistle -- This card has only seen fringe play in the past, but again this card is primed to be great in the current meta. Unlike Wide Lens, this card is very strong in the meta decks from San Jose rather than being very strong against them. Target whistle can both increase Mind Jack damage to the point of taking OHKO’s and provide Night March with better targets to take prizes on, like Shaymin-EX. It can also be used with Sableye and Wailord to put targets with high retreat cost onto the field to stick active. All of these decks have the ability to use the card multiple times through Puzzle of Time, but unless seen in the opponent’s deck, it might not be popular enough to be worth playing around due to the constraints that would put on setting up.

    vii.            Focus Sash -- This card will obviously only be played in fighting if it’s played, but it needs to be considered if playing against fighting decks. Groudon is the best pairing with the card since it guarantees Groudon-EX will survive a hit though its ancient trait, but it has had success in Carbink oriented decks in the past. Expect three-four in Groudon decks, one in Buzzwole decks, and four in Carbink decks that couple it with Max Potion.

  viii.            Dive Ball -- This card is obviously the best search for water decks that do not like to discard cards. It will be a four of in any Greninja deck, but it not see play otherwise.

     ix.            Dark Patch -- This card has created a legacy for itself by seeing success time after time. It is a very strong card in dark decks that need a multitude of energy on the field. It will see play as a four of in any Darkrai or Yveltal-EX oriented decks that pop up this weekend.

       x.            Battle Compressor -- This card is one of the best cards in the game. In expanded, having cards in the discard is easily abusable through being able to accelerate energy from the discard onto the field, put stage two Pokémon directly into play, recycle supporters through Vs Seekers, gain card advantage through Exeggcute, gain access to amounts of energy, and increase damage for Night March or Vespiquen decks. It should be expected as a four of in any deck that requires a large discard and might be included as a one to three of in any deck that plays Exeggcute or needs a little extra consistency.

     xi.            Superior Energy Retrieval -- This is the card that allows for Battle Compressor to provide access to large amounts of energy quickly, and Superior Energy Retrieval allows for strong late game energy recovery. This card will most likely only be seen if Blastoise shows up, but the Blastoise deck typically plays two Exeggcute that allows this card to discard effectively nothing to recover four energy, and Blastoise allows all of the energy to be attached immediately to quickly load up new, high energy attackers after one gets knocked out.

    xii.            Pokémon Communication -- This card can be the bee’s knees when it comes to decks that run a lot of Pokémon and no Exeggcute, or it can be solid just to force cards back into the deck. While this card used to see fringe play in decks that made day two when only day two was expanded, this card has now been mostly phased out. This card does have potential to add more cards to the deck for and against Wailord and it can allow for easier access to evolution deck that do not want to discard from Ultra Ball as often (i.e. decks with Crobat lines).

  xiii.            Robo Substitute -- It is time for the last item that needs to be known, and it is basically a Pokémon. This card has seen play in decks like Donphan and Groudon in the past due to Primal Groudon-EX needing time to attach four energies with just Mega Turbo as acceleration and Donphan needing a Pokémon to promote that could disrupt opponent or just not give up prizes. For Dallas, this card can be expected as a zero-three of in Primal Groudon decks, but will not see any play otherwise.

c. Stadiums in Expanded

Home stretch for trainers you need to know for Expanded!

         i.            Skyfield -- This card is arguably one of the best stadiums to ever be printed, and it provides Zoroark-GX with a means to hit for crazy good numbers. It will likely only see play in Zoroark GX decks due to most other decks being unable to abuse it as well as Zoroark-GX, and it should be expected in any Zoroark GX deck that does not have another stadium to play. Many players are now countering this strategy with Sudowoodo’s bench limiting ability.

       ii.            Team Magma Secret Base -- this card is only played in Gyradoes decks and that is because Po Town is better, but it lets Gyradoes deal damage, unlike Po Town. You can expect four in Gyradoes decks, but it probably will not see play in any other deck.

      iii.            Silent Lab -- This spicy card typically saw play in Seismitoad-EX oriented decks. Now a day, Virbank City Gym is widely considered to be better due to Silent Lab being less detrimental to the setup of decks in Seismitoad-EX. It definitely has the potential to see play in Toad/Zoroark, Trevenant, Sableye/Garb, and Wailord decks this time around though. If it’s played in Trevenant or Wailord, it is likely coupled with Lusamine to be able to be played multiple times in a game. If played in Toad/Zoroark, you can probably expect a split between it and Virbank, but the counts are the player’s discretion.

     iv.            Dimension Valley -- This card is awesome. It makes Oricorio and sometimes Mew attack for free, and it allows for Trevenant and Mewtwo EX better than reasonable attack costs. It is likely to be included as a 2-3 of in most Garbodor and Trevenant decks that see play this weekend.

       v.            Tropical Beach -- This is where the bomb drops. This card see massive play when it sees play and it see no play when it’s not in the best decks in format. The only two decks to run this super rare and expensive card are Wailord and Groudon; because these decks do not attack very often love the card advantage. Wailord is playable without the card, but it is probably not advisable, Groudon is not playable without the card, and older Vespiquen decks used to use 1-2 for early turns when the could not draw. With Lusamine in format, this card can be played in arbitrary counts to be effective, but remember, both you and your opponent can use its ability, and it ends your turn when you opt to draw.

     vi.            Virbank City Gym -- This stadium will likely only be paired with Seismitoad-EX, but it is a very strong combination. It provides the ability to take knockouts after the opponents turn but before the Seismitoad-EX player’s turn more frequently and that allows for Seismitoad to play another Laser on the new active Pokémon to continue to stack large amounts of damage while maintaining item lock. If seen without Silent Lab; you can expect 2-3 in the deck. If seen with Silent Lab; you can expect 0-2.

    vii.            Twist Mountain -- This card has seen play in Aerodactyl decks briefly in the past. I feel like Aerodactyl might have a strong Matchup against Zoroark decks if it runs hotter than the sun, so therefore I included it. It can be played between as a 2-4 of in the deck, but do not expect to see too much of this card without Archeops being around to slow down evolution decks.

Ancient Bullies--Oppressive Expanded Pokémon

I'm here to help you get to know some popular, common, even splashable old Pokémon. So read up!

a.       Shaymin-EX -- This card just rotated, and it is not as strong as it was in the good ol’ days when it was play 3-4 of this baby or get out, but it is still incredible in decks that need to hit large amounts of cards for big combos. Having a Lille or Bianca be able to be played onto the bench to mitigate its supporter cost is insane for decks that feel they can reliably trade with other decks. This card will be played in 3-4 of in any Battle Compressor Engine, 1-2 in any Max Elixir engines, 1-2 of in Trevenant, and it is liable to see play as a 0-2 of in anything else. The deer boy is not goin’ anywhere fast.

b.      Keldeo-EX -- Stand-in is good, and Stand-in on a basic is even better. Keldeo’s attack tends to get glossed over in any deck that is not Blastoise, but there are plenty of combinations in expanded that Keldeo can aid against excellently. This includes but is not limited to poison+item lock, shock lock (Stoutland plus a Raichu that paralyzes every turn), and retreat lock (Sableye’s and Wailord’s effective game plan). Keldeo-EX saw a lot more play when people were more willing to play Hoopa-EX to search EX’s easier and Skyfield decks didn’t have another easily tech’d Pokémon with a similar ability and better attack, but this card can be beneficial to almost any deck running Float Stone this weekend. If you see it, expect one unless the opponent also plays water energy.

c.       Darkrai-EX -- Free retreat is insane and giving effectively every card free retreat is hot. This card has seen play in almost every successful dark deck when it has been legal, and it’s very rare that it is not played when there are a lot of dark energies in a deck. The exception to these statements is Sableye Garb, but if you see dark energy otherwise, you can fully expect 1-2 copies of this card in the deck.

d.      Primal Groudon -- this card is obnoxiously slow but it is still a terror. It is only played in its own deck where it couples itself with ability lock Wobbuffet to slow down decks that run Shaymin-EX or have the potential to force it active with Lycanroc-GX. It will sit behind Wobbuffet, draw with Tropical beach and slowly amount energy till the deck feels comfortable attacking. The deck opts to attack with just two of these per game, but it will knock out three EX/GX Pokémon and be guaranteed to attack twice with a Focus sash on one of the two Groudon. The deck has a bad matchup against non EX/GX attackers that can avoid benching Pokémon that give up two prize and can do at least 180 damage (Night March and Garchomp), but otherwise can just lose to early pressure and being unable to retreat Groudon-EX into Wobbuffet. It can deal with minor bench damage with Pokémon Center Lady to heal it off, and it can sometimes manage to take games even with one Primal Groudon-EX. It is a very solid call for this weekend and should be addressed when preparing your deck. Typical answers to the deck include Bunnelby to put pressure on them without knocking out their Wobbuffet and Tapu Koko to deal some bench damage.

e.      Seismitoad-EX -- this card has been named dropped a dozen times already in this article and that is because its attack is oppressive. Item lock performs miracles, and cards that consistently apply pressure and cause item lock with minimal spaces in a deck dedicated to them are very strong. A single copy of this card and a Karen is a common answer to Night March deck, so you can expect it in any Double Colorless Energy oriented decks. Due to its strength though, it will likely be countered by Pokémon Ranger in decks that cannot deal with prolonged item lock.

f.        Trevenant -- This is my boy and I love him. He can item lock opponents before they even get a turn, abuse counter energy, and he takes his prizes all at once. He can be scared of Zoroark-GX, or really any dark Pokémon, but he has the ability to shut the dark decks out of the game before they set up or even keep pace if Trevenant can constantly discard their energy. It has been seeing less play due to Zoroark-GX, but it is definitely something that needs to be considered for any expanded tournament. It does not super like things that item lock it, switch its active Pokémon, turn of its abilities, or deal 160+ damage consistently to non-EX/GX Pokémon, but it can still hold its own with decks that do this.

g.       Giritina-EX -- This card might not see play but this and Mismagius CRI are both worth mentioning for their attack Chaos Wheel. The attack is obviously oppressive and can just win against special energy reliant decks with just a single attack. These card can be paired with two of the strongest concepts in expanded, Dark Pulse for Giratina and Trashalanche/Garbotoxin for Mismagius, and they will win games on their own this weekend against players who want to cut their Pokémon Ranger for other techs.

h.      Zoroark BW -- this is my favorite card in expanded. If the opponent plays cards that have sick attacks, this card is able to copy them with just a Double Colorless Energy rather than all the set up that those cards normally take. It previously gave Zoroark decks a way to knockout high HP, high damage Pokémon, and now that Zoroark-GX can do this with Skyfield, it is still worth including to take OHKOs with a non-GX Pokémon.

Decks you can be darn tootin’ will show up this weekend

Now that we have reviewed the most relevant old cards that will make an appearance this weekend, it’s time to get down to more grit than an old school cow boy with the decks you will likely have to beat to win the tournament.

Zoroark-GX decks

If you have not had your ear talked off by every person you have talked to about expanded and had your eyes bleed by reading every article to mention the strength of this card, you might not be prepared quite yet for Dallas. This card can be played in and with anything. I, personally, love it more in expanded with Golisopod since it lets Golisopod straight draw cards through discarding Exeggcute and use supporters to a switch in and out or heal more consistently. Not to mention, one of the best parts about running the Zoroark-GX is the inclusion of Zoroark BW that can knock out most of the cards Golisopod is scared of as a one prize attacker. Zoroark is also included in Seismitoad-EX, Night March, Vespiquen, tech decks, and is its own deck. The possibility for this card to be splashed with anything to add consistency is real and it will probably be what you play against the most in Dallas, but I would argue you won’t see it 7 times unless you are super unlucky, because whenever there is a solid, well known concept like this, everyone’s first instinct is to beat it rather than play it. There have been plenty of deck lists on and that you have access to, so I suggest checking those out and being well versed on them.


In standard, this was the obvious answer to Zoroark Lycanroc. Now, the deck tends to struggle a bit more due to Zoroark being able to take OHKOs on the high HP Pokémon, but it is still a real threat to Zoroark. It can manage against most of the combinations played in Zoroark by just being super aggressive and hitting Max Elixirs. It does struggle with the strength of Zoroark BW, since Zoroark BW can OHKO anything in the deck. This almost forces the deck to run a Wide Lens to take early knockouts on multiple Zorua, but taking out two Zorua on the first or second turn usually will lead to a win for this deck.

Primal Groudon-EX

I already addressed this deck with my inclusion of Primal Groudon-EX earlier. The lists from this do not change much from what they were when Christopher Schemanske got second with the deck at Ontario Regionals last year. It is hard for decks to include techs because having a Pokémon that is not Primal Groudon-EX or Wobbuffet down opens the door to a ton of outs to abilities for opponents. I do not like this deck for how slow it is and how deliberate every action has to be for it to be successful on top of it just having very bad starts sometimes.


This is the fattest Pokémon in the game, and it will pass its way to victory. With how reliant most decks have become on double colorless energy, this card is primed to do well. It can struggle against decks with both Puzzle of Time and Special Charge, but it is a deck that is typically more skill based to play and pry’s off of people inexperience playing against it. The addition of Team Rocker’s Flare Grunt and Lusamine means that the deck now has all of the tools necessary to be able to draw with Tropical Beach and not have to worry about decking itself out before the opponent. Fortunately, we have access to Drew Bennet’s Top 8 list. Unfortunately, since it just did well, more people will be playing Special Charge than Wailord really wants.


I hyped this deck in my last article. Its strength is that it is a Wailord deck that can both take prizes and continuously recycle Puzzle of Time at the drawback of having only a fourth of the HP. Whenever a mill deck performs well, the concept of milling becomes worse because opponents are more prepared for it. Thankfully, Sableye Garbodor tends to be a little more resilient to the counters to Mill decks than Wailord. Sableye’s attack is inherently more versatile than Wailord’s passing mechanic, and Junk Hunt allows for abusing Trick Shovel over and over to almost guarantee an opponent will not draw what they need after their hand has zero cards in it. It has a rocky but winnable Zoroark GX match-up, beats Wailord, and it a little stronger than Wailord against Groudon.


I love this deck, and I have a sick list for it in my last article. Unfortunately, Zoroark-GX is definitely scary to play against, but if this deck runs into the counters for Zoroark-GX and gets lucky against Zoroark-GX, it can definitely pull out a win this weekend.

Shock Lock

This concept is included earlier in the article, and it is likely that you will not have to play against it to win the tournament, but it has the potential to smash any deck that is not prepared for it. It has no answer to two Keldeo EX or two Zoroark BKT, but if players only play one, which is typical, shock lock will win once it establishes its lock and locks the Rush-in mechanic Pokémon active. It is liable to be overwhelmed due to running both a stage 2 and a stage one that needs to be played every turn, but its late game lock is insanely good, and I suggest playing it to anyone who wants to run something a little more rogue this weekend.


This is another deck that will likely only see one or two spots of the top tables if any. It tends to be inconsistent in my experience, but it has a solid chance of beating Zoroark, Groudon, and Buzzwole if it can get set up properly.


This deck is weirdly placed in the meta. There are people who argue that it can have success in this format, and they are probably right. If the deck adapts to run either maxis or Korrina to stream Gallade easier, the deck can compete with Zoroark very well. It is always nerve wracking to play a stage two deck in a format that is so fast though. Against Groudon, the deck can overwhelm Woubbuffet early with Gallade and force Groudon to have to attack into a one prize attacker. Against Wailord, Gardevoir can potentially overwhelm it. If it sets up against Buzzwole Lycanroc, it can easily trade with the deck. Both Trevenant and Sableye Garb can be very hard matchups to deal with. The deck feels like it can compete but does not necessarily have strong enough matchups to justify playing it to win the tournament.

And that is all for this article! I hope I was able to provide a thorough enough history of all the great old cards. Feel free to contact me if you think there are some I missed. Otherwise, thanks for reading and good luck in Dallas!

[+22] okko


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