Experts' corner

Alex Wilson

Looking into Expanded and Worlds

Alex discusses his thoughts on how the expanded format will change with the recent bans of Forest of Giant Plants and Archeops. And goes into detail with three decks he's tested so far for the World Championships.

08. 08. 2017 by Alex Wilson

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Hello again 60cards readers, the 2017 World Championships are three weeks away now. By next week, the new set, Burning Shadows, will be available on PTCGO, changing the 2017 format one last time. So, for any of you that will be competing at Worlds, the Anaheim Open, or PRC-On league cups, I’ll be looking into a couple of decks that are sure to affect the meta. But first, I want to share my thoughts on how the recent ban list affects the expanded format for next season.

Looking into Expanded

This year, TPCI announced that each quarter, (unlike the promise in quarterly cups), they would update us with any rule changes to the game, or any cards receiving a ban. A while back, they updated the ‘Burned’ status condition (or special condition, whichever it is). With the most recent update, they’ve banned the stadium card, Forest of Giant Plants, and the Stage 2 Pokémon Archeops, from the expanded format. While I never cared for any bans to take effect, I absolutely love the way expanded is taking shape. While one may not think that two little cards getting banned can considerably change a format, without the use of those cards, multiple decks no longer exist.

Decidueye/Vileplume is Gone!

If any of you remember mine and John Kettler’s finals match in St. Louis, I had to face his signature deck with mine. And while I may have come out on top that day, Rayquaza’s matchup versus Decidueye/Vileplume is very tough. If Vileplume gets set up on the first turn, the matchup becomes close to impossible. Which applies to each and every matchup Vileplume finds itself facing, which is a huge reason Forest of Giant Plants was banned. While item lock is nothing new to the game of Pokémon, item locking your opponent out of the game before they can play a single card was pushing it. On top of item lock, Forest of Giant Plants also allowed for a quick Decidueye GX to come on board and begin spreading damage with its Feather Arrow ability. Decidueye GX and Vileplume are literally the only reasons Forest of Giant Plants was banned, (though doubtful, it’s quite possible that TPCI felt that Golisipod GX was going to be busted in expanded), and like I said before, while I never felt the ban was needed, it’s nice to know that I don’t have to worry as much about a turn one item lock at my next Regionals. (The key word there was “as much.”)

Yveltal’s Partner Goes Extinct!

Archeops’ ability prevents both players from evolving their Pokémon manually from their hands. TPCI’s official statement on banning Archeops was that its ability took away from the main aspect of Pokémon, evolving. It has been fairly obvious that with the recent Sun and Moon sets, the game’s welcoming evolutions back into the competitive meta for the first time since Black and White: Next Destinies was released. Just like with the ban of Forest of Giant Plants, I don’t necessarily agree that it was a needed change. Most evolutionary decks adapted by playing copies of Hex Maniac, Garbotoxin Garbodor, or Wobbuffet, so it has always felt balanced to me. Though I won’t complain, as now I can freely evolve my Mega Rayquazas anytime I want without the use of Hex Maniac!

Yveltal Moving Forward

Yveltal will still be a force to be reckoned with, and arguably, remains as the best deck in the expanded format. I’ve heard quite a few players talking about how Yveltal might be bad without the help of Archeops by its side. But if you look back this season, many times, we witnessed players dropping Archeops in place of an additional tech card, like Sableye. So, the idea that Yveltal isn’t as good, is ridiculous. Archeops only really helped in the Vespiquen, Trevenant, Decidueye, and Greninja matchups, one of which, no longer exists with the recent ban, and another remains a favorable matchup with or without Archeops. Yveltal still has 50/50 matchups with everything in the format, so expect to continue seeing it at the top tables for yet another year.


With as many people running around thinking that Yveltal is bad all of a sudden, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a decent chunk of players choose to try it out again. While it has an obvious weakness to Yveltal and Darkrai, a turn one Wally sometimes is just enough to win a game alone. Which is another thing to thing, with Vileplume out of the picture, some players may choose to turn to Trevenant to fill the void. Trevenant really isn’t that bad of a deck, it’s really quite good in my opinion, the only thing standing in its way of winning a regionals is the immense amount of Dark type decks seeing play.

More Item Lock?

As with Trevenant, some players may choose to try Seismitoad EX variants again solely for the reason of item locking their opponent out of the game, namely Toad Bats. Toad Bats has seen many successful runs in the past, but with the fear of running into an Archeops, many players stopped playing the deck, and once Decidueye GX was released in Sun and Moon, Toad Bats packed its bags and ran away. Now, the only Grass type Seismitoad needs to fear is Vespiquen.

Vespiquen Again

Archeops is THE reason Vespiquen began getting scarce, that is, before Fighting Fury Belt was released. Once both Archeops and Fighting Fury Belt saw combined play, Vespiquen disappeared for good. Archeops is gone, the scary Decidueye matchup is nonexistent, and some decks may choose to run Choice Band over Fighting Fury Belt, making perfect since that Vespiquen Flareon can fight its way back up to the top tables once again.


As inconsistent as this deck is, it can see success in the expanded format once again now that both Archeops and Decidueye aren’t standing in its way. Its Yveltal matchup is pretty good, Volcanion is a piece of cake, and Rayquaza’s a decent matchup as long as it’s not playing the Giratina promo I opted to play in St. Louis.

Night March

Night March was making a slight resurgence in the past few regionals, but with the fact that both Trevenant and Greninja can survive in expanded again, Night March might be gone for good.

Those were just a few of my thoughts I currently have about how the expanded format may change with the most recent bans of two extremely relevant cards in Archeops and Forest of Giant Plants. I don’t think anything “new” will appear in expanded other than Trashalanche Garbodor, but that’s a topic I have yet to fully consider.

Decks I’ve Been Testing for Worlds

Testing for Worlds is interesting… With the new rule last year, sets are legal slightly earlier from their release date, allowing each new set in August to be legal for Worlds. I love the idea, but boy is it tough to prepare for a tournament without having access to the cards on PTCGO but only two weeks before the most important tournament of the year. This week, I proxied out every deck that needs consideration for Worlds, and have literally been ‘playing with myself.’ While it’s a great way to see how matchups pan out, it’s a dangerous testing method in that I’m not playing against someone else with different thinking patterns. Playing against myself only gets me so far, I always now “my opponent’s” hand and what they’ll do next. Additionally, if I don’t see a certain strategy others may have figured out, I could be playing a matchup completely wrong. Anyways, all I’m saying is that my testing methods currently aren’t the best, and that my lists may be a little different than other’s world’s format decks.

Volcanion’s Looking Hot!

Holy smokes, Volcanion has never looked better! Not only did it gain some amazing Supporter cards in Kiawe and Guzma, but it gains a new powerful attacker in Ho-oh GX. Fellow 60cards writer Ryan Sabelhaus piloted Volcanion to a top 8 (deserved to make top 4) finish at the North American International Championships. Volcanion was already a top contender leading into Worlds, and with Kiawe and Ho-oh GX, Volcanion is one of, if not the, biggest threats heading into day one. The list I’ve been testing with the most is a list resembling Azul Griego and Ryan Sabelhaus’ successful Volcanion lists updated with the three new cards aforementioned from Burning Shadows. Take a look:

Like I said, the list may not have changed much, but boy is it in the best shape of its life! Let me go over some of the key cards from the deck.

NEW Ho-oh GX

This flying roasted chicken may not look like a lot at first glance, but its second attack allows for some heavy punches that fits well with Volcanion’s engine. Its first attack is meh at best, only seeing use in desperate situations, dealing 50 damage to any Pokémon of choice on your opponent’s side of the field. Its second attack however is the reason it’s a great addition to the deck, dealing a whopping 180 damage. It easily combos well with Kiawe on your first turn of the game. With two Steam Ups, Ho-oh GX easily deals 240 damage without the use of damage adding tools, unlike Volcanion EX and Turtonator GX. And though its attack has the same repercussion Volcanion EX’s Volcanic Heat attack has, using a Float Stone and either Escape Rope or Guzma quickly allows Ho-oh GX to begin swinging again. And lastly, its GX attack, though not too useful, may help in desperate situations, allowing for three Fire type Pokémon to be revived from the discard pile onto your bench.

NEW Kiawe

Kiawe is arguably a better Blacksmith. Blacksmith attached two Fire energy from the discard pile to a Pokémon, Kiawe on the other hand attaches four Fire energy from your deck onto any given Pokémon. And for better or worse, using Kiawe ends your turn immediately. Kiawe allows the deck to quickly apply pressure with a fully built Volcanion EX, Turtonator GX, or Ho-oh GX, all of which deal massive amounts of damage. And thanks to Tapu Lele GX, getting out a turn one Kiawe is easier done than said! Though turn one is the most optimal time to play Kiawe, it can come in handy at any point in a game where an attack isn’t needed.

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