Experts' corner

Isaiah  Bradner

Portland Possibilities: Many Pieces, but No Puzzle

Hello, 60 Cards readers! It's Isaiah, and I am back with a look at the daunting Expanded format...

10/25/2018 by Isaiah Bradner

Hello, 60 Cards readers! It's Isaiah, and I am back with a look at the daunting Expanded format. Portland is quickly approaching and many players are trying to put the pieces together. In this article, I review one of my two "tier one" decks and also a deck that is poised to make a comeback in the Expanded meta.

Post-Ban Updates

Personally, I am excited to get a little break from the recent standard format before the grind begins leading up to the first International of the year held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It doesn't take long in the Expanded world before the challenges become apparent. The enormous Expanded card pool combined with the recent banning of four controversial cards makes this a largely undiscovered meta. 

When it comes to the recent bans; three cards, in particular, have the greatest impact in reshaping the Expanded meta. These three cards are all powerful enough to change how popular decks are built and their absence also revives the viability of some decks that were not as competitive. Those three cards are Puzzle of Time (BKP; 109)Hex Maniac (ANO; 75) and Ghetsis (PF; 101) . Here is a glimpse at a few of the top decks that got even better after the bans. 

Trevenant: With the absence of Hex Maniac leaving no way to turn off Silent Fear, and no Puzzle Of Time to give Zoroark more DCE, Trevenant is in a great position. 

Sableye/Garb: The banning of Puzzle Of Time severely reduces many decks' resources, at the same time the Ghetsis ban ensures you get the cards you Junk Hunt for.

ArchieStoise: Since Hex Maniac and Ghetsis both were banned, getting a turn one Archie's Ace In The Hole is now a very realistic goal.

Drampa/Garb: An already favorable matchup, Zoroark, lost Puzzle Of Time, which allowed them more access to Field Blower, Sky Field, and DCE.

Buzzwole/Lycanroc: While on a lesser scale, without Puzzle Of Time, Zoroark has a harder time streaming psychic attackers such as Mewtwo EX (ND; 54)  and Mewtwo (EVO; 51)  

Malamar/Eelektric/Bronzong: All three of these recharge decks need abilities to function, and without Hex Maniac, they have more freedom to do so.

*Side note; every deck that isn’t Trevenant benefited from Wally being banned.*

Tier List

Now that we’ve been over how the recent bans affect the format, let’s get into my expanded Tier list!

Tier 1: Trevenant, Sableye/Garbodor

Tier 2: ArchieStoise, Drampa/Garb, Buzzwole/Lycanroc, Wailord, Zoro/Garb, EeelsBox, BronzongBox.

Tier 3: Gardevoir, Shock Lock, Greninja, Malamar, Buzzwole/Shrine Of Punishment

I believe that Sableye/Garb and Trevenant are tier one due to the limited amount of unfavorable matchups, paired with the ability they have to beat almost any deck if they draw well. They only take one or two losses to Tier-one/Tier-two decks, which is insane. The challenge to these decks is that they can be countered, but that is the case with any deck choice. 

I chose to put decks in Tier two because they either lose to Sableye or Trevenant, or a large number of decks in Tier Two. (Ex: Archiestoise loses to Sableye, but beats most other stuff barring dead draws).

The tier three decks are decks that I personally don’t think are very good right now but you should be familiar with them because they will likely get some play. Many of them are inconsistent or lose to both tier one decks.

In today's article, I want to go over my current list for Trevenant and give why I think it is a tier one play. I will also talk through Blastoise, my favorite tier-two deck. 

Trevenant (XY; 55) ">Trevenant

After a lackluster year last season, our favorite mystical tree is back for revenge. Last year's Expanded meta was full of  Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) running rampant, which greatly hindered the success  Trevenant (XY; 55) could have. Fortunately for Trev fans, both Hex Maniac (ANO; 75) and  Puzzle of Time (BKP; 109) were banned, which were key pieces for  Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) in the matchup. Before we get too excited, we should acknowledge that Trevenant was negatively impacted by a ban as well. The ban also included Wally (ROS; 94) , which was the only way to item lock turn one in Expanded. Although not having that option is annoying, it’s a small price to pay for  Hex Maniac (ANO; 75) being banned.

The deck has a very straightforward strategy. Trevenant aims to Item Lock your opponent the entire game through Forest Curse, stream Trevenant BREAK through  Rescue Scarf (DR; 115) , disrupt them with Enhanced Hammer (DE; 94) , and finish the game off with a big Magical Swap from Tapu Lele (BW; 45) . If you go first, you want to establish as many  Phantump (BKP; 64) as possible so you can start flooding the board with Trevenant (XY; 55) . If you go second, then using Ascension into  Trevenant (XY; 55) to lock your opponent's items is always the ideal play. Once one  Trevenant BREAK (BKP; 66) is set up, you should attempt to attach  Rescue Scarf (DR; 115) to get it back to your hand after it dies. In most matchups, you should Silent Fear even if the main threat is in the active. This is because of the new  Tapu Lele (BW; 45) which makes every damage counter worth it when you get late into the game.

The List



4-4-3 Trevenant line — We want to max out our  Phantump (BKP; 64) and  Trevenant (XY; 55) counts to make sure we can stream them once we start attacking. You only need one Trevenant BREAK (BKP; 66) out at a time, which is why the count is lower. Along with this thick line, four Rescue Scarf (DR; 115)  and two  Super Rod (BKT; 149) are here to aid us.

1 Espeon EX (BKP; 52) /1 Tapu Lele (BW; 45) — These cards are used for late game combos with the Silent Fear spread damage. The Espeon is especially useful for devolving after three Silent Fear vs Zoro/Garb and Gardevoir. In addition to Espeon, the long-awaited  Tapu Lele (BW; 45) is finally here! And let me tell you, in a deck like Trevenant, the card is definitely worth the hype. This card punishes your opponents for benching anything excessive or having to use  Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) to set up. It is especially good vs decks with multiple  Acerola (BUS; 112) because they will often heal their main attacker, and then you can move the damage to it.

1 Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) /1  Marshadow (SLG; 45)  — One Tapu Lele-GX is a staple in every deck, and 1 Marshadow allows for extra disruption on turns when you need to play a supporter such as  Guzma (BUS; 115) or Xerosic (PHF; 110) . It is also extremely good when combined with the Item lock we already have.


4 N/3 Cynthia (UPR; 119) /1  Professor Sycamore (XY; 122)  — You want 4 N to be able to constantly disrupt your opponent's hand. Cynthia is better in this deck because of the heavy disruption and recovery you play, which can often cause awkward discards.

1 Xerosic (PHF; 110) /1  Guzma (BUS; 115)  — These are the best tech supporters for the deck. Xerosic allows you to shut off Garbotoxin, which is the main card that will shut off your ability. You can also take a DCE off of  Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) in the  Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) matchup.  Guzma (BUS; 115) allows you to stall heavy-retreating Pokémon late game and gives you the option to Tree Slam something for a Knockout. It also fills the spot of a switching card if needed.

3 Enhanced Hammer (DE; 94) /1  Counter Catcher (CIN; 91)  — These cards give you disruption vs anything with special energy, and Counter Catcher allows you to use N and stick something random in the active in the same turn. The overall goal of these cards is to make your Trevenant (XY; 55) live longer.

4 Rescue Scarf (DR; 115) /2  Super Rod (BKT; 149)  — This high count reflects how you want to use only Silent Fear for the entire game until you win. With this much recovery, you shouldn’t have a problem with running out of attackers.


Sableye (DE; 62) / Garbodor (DR; 54)  — Favorable

From my testing, this matchup is favorable for  Trevenant (XY; 55) due to our ability to easily Item Lock them. In this matchup, you should work on removing  Trubbish (NVI; 48) and  Garbodor (DR; 54) ASAP because the only chance they have to win is with Item lock. If they play Latias EX (PF; 85) , you should be very careful with your shuffle draw, and only play them when you have 0 cards in your deck. If you do that, you should be able to deck them because they can’t  VS Seeker (PHF; 109) for  Cynthia (UPR; 119) and you can.

ArchieStoise — Very unfavorable

This is one of our worst matchups because they can one shot a  Trevenant (XY; 55) from turn two (or even turn one when going second) onward, don’t play special energy, and cannot be disrupted by Counter Catcher (CIN; 91) . However, if they happen to whiff Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124) , you will immediately lock them with item lock and win the game. If they have to over-bench,  Tapu Lele (BW; 45) can punish them hard in this matchup.

Drampa GX (GRI; 115) / Garbodor (DR; 54)  — Very Favorable (50/50 with Giratina (BW; 184) )

This is one of your best matchups as Trevenant (XY; 55) , because they have no way to one shot your Pokémon. Make sure to use your  Psychic Energy (SUM; 162) over  Mystery Energy (PHF; 112) because of Righteous Edge.  Tapu Lele (BW; 45) and  Guzma (BUS; 115) stalling are very good in this matchup, as they generally have to bench a lot of Pokémon. As with the  Sableye (DE; 62) matchup, remove  Garbodor (DR; 54) ASAP. One important thing in this matchup is that unless you are taking a big knockout, it is almost always better to use Silent Fear, because it puts more damage on board to be spread with later with Tapu Lele (BW; 45) .

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) / Garbodor (DR; 54)  — Even

This is a very even matchup and often comes down to how each side draws. As always, removing  Trubbish (NVI; 48) is key.  Xerosic (PHF; 110) is the MVP in this matchup because it discards both  Double Colorless Energy (XY; 130) off of Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , and  Float Stone (BKT; 137) off of Garbodor (DR; 54) . If they mismanage their benching and happen to bench too many Zorua (DE; 70) , you have  Espeon EX (BKP; 52) to punish them. Even after all that, the matchup can still be hard due to how many cards they are able to draw and their ability to temporarily shut off your abilities. 

As you can see,  Trevenant (XY; 55) is a powerhouse in this format, and should definitely be considered for this event.  Now that we have taken an in-depth look at Trevenant, I want to mention the second deck that I put in Tier One...

Sableye (DE; 62)

I don't feel a need to go in-depth about this deck today because fellow writer Jay Lesage just did a write up on the deck himself. I personally believe it is favored vs everything in format except for Trevenant (XY; 55) . If you are interested in a more in-depth look at Sableye, take a look at Jay's recent article on 60 cards.  

As I said above, I think the top two decks are Trevenant and Sableye due to the limited amount of unfavorable matchups as well as the opportunity to beat nearly everything if you draw well. 

I would now like to take a look at a deck that I think is poised to make a splash in the Portland meta. That deck is none other than...



This deck had a strong start to its career when it won Worlds the first year  Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124) was legal. After that, its success continued in Expanded regionals until  Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) and  Garbodor (DR; 54) took over the scene. With both  Hex Maniac (ANO; 75) and  Ghetsis (PF; 101)  gone, I feel it is positioned to be a major contender in the format once again.
The deck is very simple in nature and revolves around using  Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124) to get out Blastoise (BC; 31) . Then, ideally from turn one or two, spam the board with energy through  Blastoise (BC; 31) Deluge ability. With a wide variety of attackers, you are well prepared to respond to a number of situations you might face. As of now, here is the current list I am testing: 

(*Tip, I sometimes see people go for a second Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124) on turn two after they already have a Blastoise (BC; 31) , and I would advise against that because in most games you’ll only need one and it will clog up bench space.) 

The List



Blastoise (BC; 31)  — Your entire deck revolves around getting him out, so you never want to risk prizing your only copy. You will almost never attack with him.

2 Keldeo EX (BC; 49) /1  Palkia GX (UPR; 101)  — This is the ideal split of your main attacker. Palkia-GX is just a better Keldeo-EX on most occasions due to the base of 10 more damage. However, Keldo gets around the high retreat cost Pokémon in your deck with its ability, Rush In. That extra mobility boost is why we play a higher count of Keldeo.

1 Wishiwashi GX (GRI; 38) /1 Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) /1  Articuno (ROS; 17)  — These tech slots are interchangeable between a bunch of Pokémon, but these three have proven most useful to me. The Wishiwashi-GX is especially crucial for taking a kill on a high HP GX mid game (notably Zoroark-GX, Buzzwole-GX, and Lycanroc-GX). This often is a huge tempo swing in the game because Blue Surge sets up two threats for your opponent to deal with.

Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20)  is a tech for the  Sableye (DE; 62) and Drampa GX (GRI; 115) / Garbodor (DR; 54) matchups. Against Sableye (DE; 62) , your game plan is to establish Seismitoad-EX as early as possible and lock them out of their disruption tools. Against Drampa GX (GRI; 115) the  Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) gives you an additional turn of abilities because they can’t attach a Float to their Garbodor (DR; 54) .

Articuno (ROS; 17)  is an absolutely insane card! Not only does it take two prize kills on Zorua (DE; 70) / Joltik (PHF; 26) and finish off GX’s for three prizes, but it also puts  Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) asleep if you need to gain a turn of Items. Additionally, it's a good attacker if you have something with just a little HP left or need to fix weird prize trades.

2 Exeggcute (PF; 4) /2 Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) /1 Shaymin EX (ROS; 77)  — Two Exeggcute gives you the ability to maneuver your discards to get your  Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124) on turn one and saves you resources throughout the game. Two Tapu Lele-GX and one Shaymin-EX have worked well for me because I have come to prefer the extra out to a supporter in my opening hand. Shaymin-EX is good if you don’t have enough combo pieces in your opening hand, but I’d rather have the consistency of almost never prizing Tapu Lele-GX. 


Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124)  — This is the same reasoning as 2 Blastoise (BC; 31) , you don’t want to prize them both.

2 Professor Sycamore (XY; 122) /1 N — These are your consistency cards for after Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124) . Playing a higher count leads to the chance you draw too many supporters when you need to  Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124)

1 Guzma (BUS; 115) /1  Xerosic (PHF; 110)  — These are my tech supporters of choice, one more widely played than the other. Guzma is seen as a one-of in almost every deck and is a no-brainer to include in here. A less widely seen inclusion is Xerosic, but it is an essential part of being able to beat Garbodor (DR; 54) decks. With the Xerosic, you have 6 outs to knocking a tool off  Garbodor (DR; 54) during the game. I like those odds. 

4 Order Pad (UPR; 131) / Trainer's Mail (ROS; 92) / Ultra Ball (FLF; 99) / VS Seeker (PHF; 109) / Battle Compressor (PHF; 92) / Superior Energy Retrieval (PF; 103)  — Purely for consistency reasons, you want to get the  Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124) on turn one and these cards allow you to do that.

1 Field Blower (GRI; 125) /1 Choice Band (GRI; 121) / 1  Float Stone (BKT; 137)  — Float Stone (BKT; 137) is a needed card in the deck and gives you a free retreating board when on a Keldo. There is some debate on whether Choice Band or Fighting Fury Belt is better but I prefer Choice Band due to the extra reach it provides, especially with  Palkia GX (UPR; 101) in the deck. The Field Blower is an item out to  Garbodor (DR; 54) which is easily searchable with  Order Pad (UPR; 131) . Unfortunately, more than one of these could clog up your opening hand before Archie's Ace In The Hole, and  Xerosic (PHF; 110) has multiple uses.


Trevenant (XY; 55)  — Very Favorable

This matchup is entirely dependent on whether you can establish a  Blastoise (BC; 31) on turn one. If you do, you win. If not, you lose. I would say you get Blastoise around 80% of the time, so that reflects my matchup evaluation.

Sableye (DE; 62) / Garbodor (DR; 54)  — Unfavorable

This is one of the deck's worst matchups, and even with the  Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) tech, it’s unfavorable. They can establish Garbodor and Counter Catcher your Blastoise, leaving you stranded. Your plan for this matchup it to get a Seismitoad going ASAP and attach a  Float Stone (BKT; 137) to  Keldeo EX (BC; 49) to avoid Confuse Ray/Guzma stall. If you can get that setup, and avoid getting run over by Garbodor (GRI; 51) , you have a shot.

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) / Garbodor (DR; 54)  — Unfavorable

This matchup is unfavorable, but definitely winnable, especially with Seismitoad-EX. If you wanted a tech for this matchup, Sudowoodo would be a great choice to limit their bench. In this matchup, you should aim to kill one  Zorua (DE; 70) (Or Sudowoodo (GRI; null) ) with  Articuno (ROS; 17) for the first two prizes. After that, you should GX a  Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) with Wishiwashi GX (GRI; 38) . Finally, attempt to take your last two prizes through a Secret Sword or Hydro Pump. Keeping  Garbodor (DR; 54) and  Trubbish (NVI; 48) off the field is generally a good idea if possible. The  Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) allows for you to grab an extra turn of abilities if needed. This matchup is negative due to their extreme draw power, and the ability to KO you while keeping item lock on.

Drampa GX (GRI; 115) / Garbodor (DR; 54)  — Favorable

Despite how it seems at first, this matchup is generally favorable because of the Xerosic/Seismitoad-EX combo. This allows you to get at least two turns of abilities, and flood your board with energy. Be sure to keep your items at 7 if possible so that they can’t one-shot your GX's. Always be conscious of their ability to Acerola, and remember that  Articuno (ROS; 17) can be a great way to stall for time.


It's clear that the Expanded meta is largely undefined and Portland will be the beginning of a new era without staple cards like Puzzle of Time, Hex Maniac, Ghetsis, and Wally. While there is surely a lot of uncertainty surrounding this format, I hope that my review of Trevenant and Blastoise helps you in your preparation. For those of you headed to Portland, I look forward to seeing you. Wheels Up!

[+20] okko


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