Experts' corner

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Alex Wilson

Roc'n the Night

Alex goes over Night March and Zoroark Lycanroc, two decks he has tested vigorously ahead of the Dallas Regional Championships!

01/23/2018 by Alex Wilson

Alola, 60cards readers! Long time, no see! It feels so great to be back writing for the best community I’ve come to love. Unfortunately, I’ve been quite busy with my life the last couple of months unable to write as many articles as I’d like to, but now I’m back in the swing of things and wanted to share with you what’s going on in my head looking toward Dallas Regionals this weekend.

Expanded is by far my preferred format over Standard. The variance in decks is far greater; knowing what possible techs any given deck could throw at you is far more important; and just the overall atmosphere of seeing cards like Seismitoad-EX, VS Seeker, Ghetsis, and Hex Maniac is enjoyable to me, disregarding others' opinions on those “toxic” cards. Now I know what you’re thinking, “No, Alex, you like expanded because of Mega Rayquaza-EX.” Well for the most part you’re right. But I’ve finally come to the unfortunate and painful realization that Mega Rayquaza is dead, for now. Maybe in the near or far future, it can make a comeback, but so long as every deck is playing the dreaded Roadblocking Sudowoodo, Mega Rayquaza can’t deal anymore than 120 damage most games. And even Zoroark GX variants are teching in copies of Mind Jack Zoroark, which utterly destroys Mega Rayquaza, dealing up to 250 damage. All the more reason Mega Rayquaza needs to sit out this tournament.

So, without further ado, let’s get into two decks I know are top contenders for Dallas, two decks of which I’ve spent nearly all of my time testing, Night March and Zoroark Lycanroc.

 

 

Night March

While this is currently my favorite deck heading into Dallas, it’s a considerably dangerous play, as it has the largest target on it’s back, thanks to its insane performance in San Jose a little more than a month ago, the last Expanded Regionals. With easily tech-able cards like Oricorio, Karen, Ghetsis, and Seismitoad-EX, an unprepared Night March player will easily find themselves amongst the bottom tables.

Even though nearly every player will be prepared to play against Night March, I still feel that I can overcome any obstacle that I may find in my may with the deck. Night March has every trick up its sleeve and has nearly every tech available to its exposal. My favorite being Marshadow-GX, being able to one shot a Zoroark-GX (which I absolutely expect to play against at least six times out of my nine rounds).

 

So the idea of this deck is ... hehe, as if you didn’t know already. Night March has been recently deemed as one of the most destructive and influential decks in the history of Pokemon. So if you haven’t heard of this deck by now, I’d say it’s about time you climb out from underneath your rock.

Key Cards

Night March (Attack)

As you all know, Night March deals 20 damage for each Pokemon with the Night March attack in your discard pile. With twelve Night Marchers in your deck, having discarded eleven means you’re attacking for 220 damage. With a Choice Band attached, you're dealing 250 damage OHKOing anything in the game!

Marshadow-GX

Marshadow’s ability, Shadow Hunt, is the reason this card sees play at all, allowing it to use the attacks of any Basic Pokemon in your discard pile. So, as long as you have a single Joltik in your discard pile, Marshadow GX can copy the Night March attack, making it easier to discard additional Night Marchers than you would without this Pokemon in the deck. Just like Fates Collide Mew, but as a Fighting Type, meaning that it easily OHKO’s a Zoroark-GX, which again, is in every single deck in expanded. The only two downsides to this Pokemon are that it has a mediocre 150 HP, and for a two-prize attacker, is quite risky. Amd the other being that while it can copy Pumpkaboo’s attack from the discard pile, Marshadow doesn’t gain any aid from Dimension Valley, meaning that you’d have to attach two Double Colorless Energy to Marshadow-GX to copy Pumpkaboo’s Night March attack.

Zoroark GX

Trade ... need I say more? Again, if you’ve emerged from your rock yet, you know how powerful and broken of a card Zoroark-GX is. A 210 HP Darkness type Pokemon, its ability, Trade, allows you to discard a card from your hand and draw two cards from the top of your deck. This conveniently fits into Night March perfectly. It’s another means of discarding your Night Marchers and provides a secondary attacker if needed. Its attack is quite busted, Riotous Beating, dealing 20 damage for each Pokemon you have in play on your side of the field. While you won’t use Zoroark-GX’s attack much in this deck, it has completely flipped one matchup (Trevenant) from an auto loss, to having the upper hand!

Tapu Lele-GX

While most Night March decks take inspiration from lists like Pram’s and Azul Griego’s, item lock is more prevalent than ever now, meaning getting a draw Supporter under item lock is quite important. I’d like to play a second Tapu Lele-GX, specifically to help getting a draw supporter when under item lock. So if I were to cut anything, it would be the third Shaymin-EX, though, I think we’re safe running one Tapu Lele-GX with how things are looking now. And even if you’re not faced against an item lock deck, having a second Tapu Lele-GX may help in getting that turn one Ghetsis or Hex Maniac off on turn one.

Field Blower

While Garbotoxin Garbodor is no longer much of a threat in Expanded, you still may need to get rid of a Fighting Fury Belt to knock out a Pokemon or rid an opponent of their Float Stone and Choice Band. Even ridding of a Stadium that you don’t want in play since you only play the Dimension Valley.

Ghetsis

THE MOST BUSTED CARD IN EXPANDED ... or the worst. With a well-timed Ghetsis, especially on the first turn of the game, you could literally win the game from this card alone. I would know, since I’ve done it countless times leading to my Regional titles. However, play this card at the wrong moment, and you’ll have wasted your Supporter card for your turn. While the typical rule of thumb being play a Hex Maniac over a Ghetsis, if you’re paired up against a Night March deck or Trevenant or Darkrai, play Ghetsis just about every time. If faced against a Zoroark deck, and you see that they’ve started with just a Zorua, I’d usually play a Hex Maniac in that situation, as they’re more prone to bench a Tapu Lele-GX. Whereas if they started with a Tapu Lele-GX as their active Pokemon, playing a Ghetsis is the more optimal play.

Lysandre and Guzma

The one-one split is perfect in this deck, since you only play one Float Stone, and no free retreaters, Guzma isn't always your ideal catcher card. And since you play Battle Compressor, you can easily choose which catcher Supporter you’d like to discard and use later.

Pokemon Ranger

Since Night March relies on Double Colorless Energy alone as its only energy source to attack and items to do everything else, we fear things like Giratina-EX, Quaking Punch, and the new Mismagius, which has the same attack as Giratina-EX, but deals 30 damage while preventing the opposing player from playing special energy, tools, and stadiums. Pokemon Ranger, if in hand usually, or with the help of Tapu Lele-GX’s Wonder Tag ability, can negate the effects preventing you from playing the game, and taking back the lead that’s rightfully yours. At the way the meta is currently standing, you can’t play Night March without the inclusion of Pokemon Ranger, period, the same also goes for mostly all Zoroark-GX variants as well.

Night March Matchup Overview

Ghetsis

I know this isn’t really a matchup, but it’s a card that as a Night March player, you should expect every single game that your opponent is going first. Literally, every good player with a brain will be running a copy of Ghetsis in their deck, so if you don’t like the sound of that, maybe Night March isn’t for you for the time being.

Trevenant

What used to be Night March’s worst living nightmare, is now a pretty favorable matchup, and it’s all thanks to Zoroark-GX. Just setting up one of these bad boys can literally win the game alone. Zoroark-GX has a massive 210 HP, which can survive five attacks from a single Trevenant thanks to its Psychic resistance. The only key to remember is not to bench both of your Zorua at the same time, as both could be knocked out if you can’t find your Zoaroark-GX in time under item lock. Also, keep in mind that their Trevenant BREAKs can still knock out any Pokemon sitting on your bench, so don’t bench too many Pumpkaboo or Shaymin-EX. And I shouldn’t even have to say it, but don’t ever bench any Joltik as that’s a free prize with just one Silent Fear attack.

Lonzoroark

This matchup is one that you should be most prepared for as it represents more than half the meta. This matchup can be both easy, yet tricky. Mostly all Lonzoroark decks play a 2-1 line or 2-2 line of Alolan Muk, which turn off abilities for Marshadow-GX, Shaymin-EX, and Tapu Lele GX, slowing you down tremendously. Without the use of your Marshadow-GX, you lose a free two-prize turn and have to work for it using a Joltik to hit for 210 damage. While that’s not particularly difficult for Night March, it’s still slightly annoying when you could just as easily use your Marshadow-GX to one-shot the Fighting weak Zoroark. Alolan Muk isn’t the only problem though, Oricorio and its threatening Supernatural Dance attack can flip the game you’re winning upside down, so watch out. Besides using Lysandre or Guzma to knock out the Oricorio before it attacks, there’s nothing much you can do besides take it like a man, (or woman of course, or child, or Pokemon master, what-ever you are). Aside from those two threats, and the possibly destructive turn one Ghetsis, I find this matchup to typically go in my favor when piloting Night March, as Joltik and Marshadow-GX both easily reach 210 damage, the perfect amount of damage to knockout their attackers in Zoroark GX. The prize trade is the biggest advantage we have here, in that while we’re knocking out their Zoroark-GX for two prize cards a piece, they’re only returning the knockout taking one prize card off our Joltik and Pumpkaboo.

Golisopod Zoroark

While this is my least favorite Zoroark variant, it’s still sure to make an appearance for this event. I really love seeing this matchup while piloting Night March. Both Zoroark-GX and Golisopod-GX are easily killed by our little Night Marchers, and without the inclusion of Alolan Muk, like other Zoroark variants run, there’s nothing stopping us from steamrolling, (or should I say Night Marching), our way through this matchup. There’s always the possibility of an Oricorio popping up, but even still, we should have only four or even two prize cards remaining by the time they try to catch up with Supernatural Dance. In this case, all that’s left is using Marshadow-GX to one-shot a benched Zoroark-GX.

Seismitoad Zoroark

This is the toughest matchup for Night March, no contest. Typically expect to be item locked after your first turn of the game, whether they go first or second, you’ll always have one guaranteed turn of using as many items as your heart desires. That is, if they don’t Ghetsis you first. For the most part, you’ll always be behind in this matchup, and without Pokemon Ranger, you’d never be able to catchup in the first place. With Pokemon Ranger, and the help of our two Tapu Lele-GX, it gives you an additional turn of using your items in attempt to even the playing field. And while effects have been lifted off of you with Pokemon Ranger, you can play a VS Seeker to put it back into your hand to use the following turn or later in the game. Negating item lock isn’t the only thing you have to worry about though, Karen is an expected threat as well. While you don’t have to worry about Oricorio in this matchup, which I guess is a positive thing, getting all of your Night Marchers shuffled back into your deck, followed by getting item locked again is a game ender. Good luck. You’ll need it.

Turbo Darkrai

This matchup is very much in Night March’s favor, aside from a turn one Ghetsis, which you should expect from any and every matchup in expanded anyways, Oricorio is the only lingering threat. In order for Darkrai to have a chance in this meta, it must play Choice Band over Fighting Fury Belts in order to more easily reach 210 damage against Zoroark-GX. This helps Night March tremendously, as we can attack for 180 damage a lot quicker than we can for 220. We focus on attacking with Joltik for a majority of the game, since Pumpkaboo’s Psychic type is resisted by Darkrai. We have Marshadow-GX too, hehe, which with a single Joltik in the discard pile, and four additional Night Marchers, OHKOs a Darkrai for 200-plus damage!

 

Zoroark Lycanroc

With Lonzoroark being considered the most popular and “busted” deck heading into Dallas, playing a Fighting-type Pokemon is a pretty good idea. Lycanroc-GX’s Claw Slash attack deals 110 damage, OHKOing a Zoroark-GX thanks to weakness. But that’s obviously not all it’s good for: Its GX attack is the most busted attack in the game currently if you were to ask me, and its ability is literally a Lysandre! The only flaw with this Zoroark variant is the slight inconsistency in getting Lycanroc set up, since it’s both a Stage 1 and requires a different energy besides a Double Colorless Energy. Even still, it does have quite the advantage over Lonzoroark, which is why I’ve enjoyed testing it over the last week.

As you know, and can see in the list above, Zoroark Lycanroc is more or less the same deck as Lonzoroark, but with the inclusion of a 2-2 Lycanroc line and Strong Energy to gain the advantage in most Zoroark variant matchups.

Key Cards

Zoroark-GX

Obviously, this is your main attacker in the deck. The idea is to play a Sky Field, bench as many Pokemon as possible, and take big knockouts! (Just like Mega Rayquaza!) With a Choice Band, the max damage your Zoroark-GX is 210, which is just enough to OHKO most attackers in Expanded. Its Trade ability is insane, combineed with the utility of Propagation Exeggcute, you’ll continuously be drawing cards from your deck without wasting any valuable resources from your hand.

Lycanroc-GX

Our backup attacker in the deck, and “Lysandre,” for all intents and purposes, Lycanroc-GX fits perfectly in the current Expanded meta. Its ability is literally a Lysandre, which allows you to get away with only running one copy of Guzma, especially since we’re able to use VS Seeker in this format. Its first attack, Claw Slash, deals 110 damage, which is just enough to one shot a Zoroark-GX. With a Strong Energy and Choice Band,  Claw Slash deals 160 damage, enough to knock out smaller threats like Marshadow-GX. Its final attack, Dangerous Rogue GX is my favorite part about this card! Dealing 50 damage for each Pokemon your opponent has chilling on the bench, this insane attack can deal anywhere from a pathetic 0-70 damage, (thanks to Strong Energy), to 400+ damage! For those who know me, I love a Pokemon that can hit for tremendous damage: *cough, cough* Mega Rayquaza-EX.

Tackle Rockruff

I prefer this Rockruff over the Corner one in this deck. Odds are, if you’ll ever find yourself attacking with a Rockruff, you’ll be attacking a Zorua, and with a Strong Energy, you’re hitting that black fox for a perfect 60 damage, OHKOing it. Additionally, Keldeo-EX and Mind Jack Zoroark are for the most part everywhere in Expanded, so preventing a Pokemon from retreating probably wont get you very far.

2-1 Alolan Muk

First off, don’t forget to write the Alolan part in your decklists, I’ve continuously made that incredibly important mistake. With the Darkness type Alolan Grimer, you can use its Division attack, which lets you search for the other Alolan Grimer in your deck and move it straight to the bench, accelerating the speed in which Zoaroark-GX can hit for big damage. And what’s better, Alolan Grimer’s Division attack doesn’t require a single energy! Alolan Muk is in the deck for more or less two reasons: an opposing Sudowoodo and Marshadow-GX. Alolan Muk’s Power of Alchemy ability turns off all Basic Pokemon’s abilities. Sudowoodo is a hinderance to this deck, preventing us from ever benching more than four Pokemon. So as long as you bench an Alolan Grimer at the beginning of each game, you should always have access to turning off that disgusting Roadblock ability. Marshadow-GX is another threat Alolan Muk helps you overcome. Since Marshadow-GX is a Fighting type Pokemon, it hits our Zoroark-GX for weakness, which is a huge problem. So rather than allowing Marshadow-GX to take a knock out, then revenge killing it the turn after, we’re just going to prevent it from ever attacking in the first place, since it relies on its ability, Shadow Hunt, to copy an attack.

Oricorio

A card I haven’t seen play since Madison Regionals last season, this little dancing purple bird has one purpose, to destroy Night March and destroy Night March it can. Its Supernatural Dance attack allows you to place one damage counter for each Pokemon in your opponent’s discard pile on any of your opponent’s Pokemon. Since a deck like Night March intentionally discards Pokemon, it’s easy to abuse their means of attacking to your advantage. And as a bonus, Night March plays Dimension Valley, which Oricorio can abuse too, never having to waste a Double Colorless Energy attachment to attack. If they’ve discarded nine Pokemon for example, you can place three damage counters on a Joltik and the other six damage counters on a Pumpkaboo, knocking out two Pokemon with one attack! A well-timed use of Oricorio can come in handy in clutch situations, even outside of matchups like Night March. As another quick example, if there are six Pokemon in your opponent’s discard pile, and the defending Zoroark-GX has 170 damage on it, you can use Oricorio to take the knockout, as you’d rather not risk wasting one of your own Zoroark-GX.

Seismitoad-EX

Most lists don’t include this annoyance of a croaker, but I’ve found that it can come in handy in the early game, preventing your opponent from setting up, while we’re setting up a bench full of powerful attackers. And going back to the Night March matchup, since Joltik only has a measly 30 HP, rather than attacking with literally anything in your deck, you can use Seismitoad EX’s Quaking Punch attack to both knock out their stupid flee and item lock their sorry butt for a turn.

(Optional) Mind Jack Zoroark

I’m more than prepared to play against at least five Zoroark variants in Dallas, making Mind Jack Zoroark absolutely busted, dealing 10 damage plus 30 more damage for each Pokemon your opponent has benched. Making it super easy for this 100 HP Zoroark to OHKO a Zoroark-GX if your opponent has six or seven Pokemon on their bench. (Only needing six with a Choice Band.) If I were to include Mind Jack Zoroark in the deck, and I honestly would if Dallas were tomorrow, I’d replace an Enhanced Hammer for the Zoroark, and replacing the single Field Blower for a fourth Zorua.

Enhanced Hammer

Nearly every single deck you’re going to play against in Dallas, or any Expanded tournament for that matter, uses Double Colorless Energy as its main means of attacking. So, if any of your opponent’s make the mistake of playing a Special Energy without using it to attack, we can get rid of it, setting them back a turn in energy attachments, and possibly, Puzzle of Time bait. The deck can easily go without them, or even just one, possibly replacing one with a second Rescue Stretcher.

Zoroark Lycanroc’s Matchup Overview

Lonzoroark

This matchup is more or less the reason we even consider running the Lycanroc variant of Zoroark. As Lonzoroark is expected to be the most played and possibly most successful deck in Dallas. So, running any deck with Lycanroc sounds like a great idea. Lycanroc-GX hits a Zoroark-GX for 110 damage times two with weakness, which is more than enough knocking it out. The only difficulty in this matchup though is setting up Lycanroc-GX, as most Lonzoroark players are smart enough to target a benched Rockruff, killing the threat before we can ever evolve. Also, there’s the slight inconsistency in running only two Strong Energy, though our Zoroark -GX’s Trade ability definitely helps with that. Overall, it’s a fairly even matchup, but with our Lycanrocs giving us the slight advantage, as an additional attacker that can literally knock out anything our opponent presents to us. We also play one Mind Jack Zoroark, which can and will one shot every Zoroak-GX our opponent attacks us with.

Night March

While Zoroark variants usually stand a good chance against Night March, it’s an insanely good matchup when we play Oricorio, Alolan Muk, and Seismitoad-EX! Lycanroc-GX also gives us an additional source of knocking out which ever Pokemon we desire sitting on our opponent’s bench. While Joltik can at anytime easily reach 210 damage, knocking out any of our attackers, we have Oricorio’s Supernatural Dance that we can abuse at any given moment, taking multiple prizes cards, followed by even more prizes taken after playing a Rescue Stretcher to revive Oricorio. Marshadow-GX is no doubt a threat, but as long as we have our Alolan Muk in play, it should never cause us worry. And even if we’re having trouble finding our Muk, (yuk), we always have access to our handy, dandy Hex Maniac.

Turbo Darkai

Free win, ‘nough said.

Seismitoad Zoroark

This here is an unfavorable matchup for Zoroark Lycanroc. Seismitoad-EX obviously prevents us from using our items, while poisoning us and possibly putting our Pokemon to sleep. And while we’re trying to wake up and emerge from item lock, they’re playing multiple copies of Enhanced Hammer, discarding any and all of our energy in play. While we do play Puzzle of Time and Special Charge, we can’t really use them if Seismitoad-EX is continuously attacking with Quaking Punch. This matchup isn’t at a complete loss, however, as we can always slowly two-hit knock out their Seismitoad, if they miss their Acerola. More or less, if you’re expecting to play against multiple Seismitoad Zoroark decks in Dallas, play a Pokemon Ranger. For now, I think it’s fairly safe to leave it out.

Closing Thoughts

I’m still testing every possible deck that comes to mind for Dallas, and while I love both of these decks I featured today, they both have their fair share of weaknesses in the current meta looking toward this weekend. I’ll be posting another article really soon, featuring some more decks that I’m considering for Dallas. In the mean time, I hope you enjoyed and got a little something out of what I wrote here today. Until next time guys!

[+14] okko


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