Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

The Land of Forgotten Pokemon - Different Decks in Expanded

Zach details some underrepresented decks in Expanded and shares lists for those decks!

01/15/2018 by Zach Lesage

Expanding on Thoughts

Hey 60 Cards readers, I hope you have enjoyed all of your Holidays and that you had some time to play test some Pokémon! The next major tournament will be in Dallas, Texas and it is an Expanded tournament; luckily for us, we can quickly look at the San Jose, California results from November. In this article, I will briefly go over two interesting concepts that have either likely never been played or have been hidden for a while. Sometimes in the Expanded meta game, some decks will lay low for months, or even a year, until it becomes viable again. The factors that cause this are the current card pool being accepting of an idea, certain meta game trends, and how talked about a deck is heading into a tournament. With all of this being said, let’s look at some reasons why we create different concepts:

Cooking Up Different Concepts

In a format as expansive as our current Expanded format, we have full reign on what cards we choose to play. While this might be a hefty task for some - it can be exciting for others to look through a vast card pool and create a new concept. Overall, I am enjoying Expanded, despite some recent frustrations with some of my new ‘creations’, and I think the format is inviting to those who are willing to experiment. Alternatively, we can also look at the history of the game and choose decks that have done well during its Standard legality - decks such as Archie’s Blastoise, Night March, or Maxie’s Yveltal. While it may be a great idea to play test the expected decks that have a track record of performing well, I like to experiment to learn about the game to a deeper understanding. Here are a few reasons why I ‘try’ to create different concepts:

  • I can feel fulfilled when one of my ‘creations’ does what it is supposed to do
  • I can catch my opponents off-guard and surprise them with the new deck that I am playing
  • My games are more fun because I am playing a refreshing deck
  • I can gain knowledge of the inner-workings of deck building. This allows me to further my knowledge when building other decks because I can create things in different ways
  • I can become inspired by a failed concept to create a better concept


All these reasons lead me into playing a certain deck for a tournament, or they allow me to add certain tech cards into my decks because I learned something new about a match-up. I can also learn how similar cards can be better than other cards at times or how the format changes when I am testing with some of my partners. At the end of the day, I feel like my process for exploring different concepts allows you, as the reader, to experience something that is unique to my articles. However, sometimes when I am working on new decks, I also get disappointed by certain cards that can stop my creativity due to their dominance. Ghetsis is one of those cards:

Ghetsis Grinds my Gears

Expanded has some stupidly overpowered cards due to the fact we have been using some cards for almost six years now - Ghetsis is actually one of the most overpowered, skilled, unskilled cards I have ever seen printed! We are seeing larger amounts of play of this card because it works with and against Zoroark-GX. Trade allows our opponents to finish turns with larger hands and when we have a Zoroark-GX, we can play non-traditional Supporter Cards due to our supplemented draw power. I have had games where I have absolutely nothing in my starting hand, I look down because I am probably about to lose the game, I play a lonely Ghetsis, my opponent shows five to six Trainer cards and they absolutely crumble allowing me to win the game. I have also been on the other side of a horrible Ghetsis, leaving me with an almost unplayable hand and I fizzle out within the next few turns. On the other hand, I feel a late game Ghetsis or a mid-game Ghetsis is where the true skill of the card comes into play similar to mapping out your Prize Cards when you know your opponent is going to try to late-game N you into nothing. I have played Ghetsis in multiple late-game scenarios where I know my opponent has Trainer cards because they played a Puzzle of Time and held onto cards, they have used Junk Hunt on a Sableye DEX to set-up a checkmate position, or I otherwise looked at the odds of what my opponent could potentially have in their hand and dropped a Ghetsis to switch the board position back to my side.

Hypnotoxic Laser is another card that can alter a game quickly on its Sleep side-effect on its own! While Hypnotoxic Laser hasn’t seen play for a while, it is slowly creeping back into lock decks - I even helped create Turbo Darkrai-GX, a deck where is functioned beautifully. There have been multiple situations where my Pokémon will stay asleep beyond normal odds (read as two to three turns) allowing my opponent to steal a game I was winning from right beneath me. The card gets almost exclusively better when paired with a Virbank City Gym and Seviper, allowing for extra damage to be applied which can sometimes be the deciding factor between a game win or a game loss. As much as both of these cards are sometimes ineffective at times, they are both returning powerhouses in the expanded format and make the format what it is.

How can we fix this? Unfortunately, we can’t fix that we have no way to block a turn one Ghetsis or flip a coin to wake up from a successful Hypntotoxic Laser flip. We do have some options in the form of altering our deck lists to include more Supporters and/or Pokémon and include cards that can heal Status Conditions traditionally or even more versatile cards such as Keldeo-EX BCR and a Float Stone. I personally use my insight on the format to decide what factors will make or break my deck/tournament and decide on what is appropriate in my deck lists; this allows me to mostly have optimal results and win more games overall. Hopefully my advice will guide your properly towards your deck building choices and help you win more games in such an exciting format.

For this upcoming deck, I need to give a huge shout out to my fellow Pro-Play Games teammates Daniel Altavilla and Hunter Butler for working on this concept with me before Daytona Beach Regionals. Remember when you share a deck list to always give credit to those who helped you get it to a certain stable level and make sure they are ok with sharing the list. We eventually scrapped the idea before Daytona Beach Regionals and I think the dominance of Zoroark-GX is enough to breathe some new life into it. Let’s dive into my first interesting deck, Crabominable

Crabominable Deck

Card Explanations

I will go over cards in the deck list to explain how they should work in a real-life setting! Not all cards are included, such as Ultra Ball, because it is included in almost every competitive deck!

Three Crabominable and Four Crabrawler

In an Expanded format where many of the top decks are weak to Fighting-type, I have looked for obscure Pokémon to help fight against some otherwise scary Dark Pokémon. Crabominable is a straight-up solid attacker that can hit for a single Energy - this translates into knocking out Pokemon such as Zoroark-GX very easily with our damage modifiers. We play Crabrawler BUS because it can attack for a single Double Colorless Energy, something the other Crabrawler cannot do.

One Flareon and One Eevee

Golisopod-GX has been hyped to become a strong deck for Dallas so we naturally wanted to have an out versus that deck. We can attack for Weakness which can lead to a surprise Knock Out that would have required two hits before.

One Necrozma-GX

If we don’t face against Grass-type or Dark-type decks, we need to have a way for Crabominable’s Gutsy Hammer to swing for some Knock Outs. I have found out that hitting with Necrozma-GX’s Black Ray GX attack to hit every EX/GX for 100 damage and then swing for 80+ with Gutsy Hammer can lead to a strong path for victory.

One Landorus-EX

We use this card over Buzzwole-GX because it offsets our Weakness by adding in a Pokémon that is weak to Water-type and it can start spreading some damage. After this card spreads some damage, we can try to gain KOs with Crabominable, Necrozma-GX, and/or Espeon-EX. This deck is all about options and this card opens those options up.

One Regirock-EX, Two Muscle Band, and Four Strong Energy

These are our damage modifiers of the deck and allow for us to make numbers happen that otherwise would be unreachable. With the potential of adding an additional 50 damage (one Regirock-EX, one Muscle Band, and one Strong Energy) to almost any attack in our arsenal, these cards are vital to this deck being successful! You can add even more damage when you attach more than one Strong Energy to any of your Crabominable.

One Espeon-EX

As with most decks that have a spread aspect, De-Evolution will always be a popular option in the deck. That being said, Espeon-EX is the best vessel for De-Evolution in the game right now. If you use Necrozma-GX’s Black Ray GX versus a Gardevoir-GX that has used Rare Candy to Evolve from a Ralts, you can now De-Evolve it for a Prize Card. Espeon-EX De-evolves all Pokémon on your opponent’s board which means you can do some solid chip damage with Crabobinable’s Gutsy Hammer attack, apply spread damage, and use Espeon-EX to possibly take multiple Prize Cards.

One Tapu Koko

This card allows us to have a free retreat aspect of the deck and Flying Flip can allow for some magic numbers in combination with Crabominable’s Gutsy Hammer and/or Necrozma-GX’s Black Ray GX.

One Computer Search

I view this as the best ACE SPEC because you can have a dead starting hand and this card can save you; no other ACE SPEC can do that.

Two Korrina

While this card used to see a decent amount of play when it was strong in Standard, it has seen lesser play in Expanded recently due to the way that the format has shifted. It makes perfect sense to play this card in a Fighting-deck because it gives us a strong search engine.

One Ninja Boy

Sometimes you need to surprise tour opponent by switching a Pokémon for another Pokémon. You can use this card to switch into a surprise Necrozma-GX to use Black Ray GX out of nowhere or turn a Tapu Lele-GX start into a Landorus-EX spreading some damage. Whichever way you decide to play this card, it will definitely surprise your opponent.

Two Focus Sash

This card can allow us to survive an otherwise unsurvivable attack, it is an almost must-have in any Fighting-type deck. 

So with that explaining how this weird Crabominable deck works, let’s dive into my Darkrai-EX/Giratina-EX deck. This deck hasn’t seen success since Toronto Regionals, but I believe the amount of Special Energy in the format will allow for it to resurge on top again:

Darkrai/Giratina Deck

Card Explanations

I will go over cards in the deck list to explain how they should work in a real-life setting! Not all cards are included, such as Professor Juniper, because it is included in almost every competitive expanded deck!

Two Darkrai-EX BKP

The biggest card in this deck to talk about is the card that is the main focal point of the deck, the one and only, Darkrai-EX from BREAKpoint! This card is a strong EX Pokémon sitting at a whopping 180 HP, has an attack that feeds on energy manipulation - something that this deck focuses on. Darkrai-EX is one of my favourite Pokémon cards printed over the past few years because it seems like it is always a contender and it is versatile in many situations! This card functions similarly to how it would in a traditional Turbo Darkrai deck; we just have Giratina-EX for additional support.

Two Darkrai-EX DEX

I like to think of Darkrai-EX from Dark Explorers as the fluidity that allows this deck to be “next-level” good! With similar characteristics to Darkrai-EX BKP in terms of Retreat Cost and HP, you may be asking yourself what does this card do for the deck except free retreat? Well, Darkrai-EX carries a fantastic attack in the form of Night Spear, which can help you chip some damage off of a big threat or perhaps OHKO that lone Joltik on your opponent’s field.

Two Giratina-EX

Giratina-EX is used to block away pivotal cards in your opponent's deck. If your opponent does not need Special Energy cards for their deck to function, it is best to focus on attacking with Darkrai-EX BKP to get the job done. However, Giratina-EX is important versus many strong decks such as Night March and “LonZoroark” because both of these decks focus on Special Energies. If we face versus any decks that focus on Special Energies, Giratina-EX is almost always the best route for us to take. It is worthwhile to take note that attaching a Double Dragon Energy to Giratina-EX does power up Darkrai-EX BKP’s Dark Pulse for 40 more damage.

One Darkrai-GX

I feel like having one Darkrai-GX is most likely the correct final number because two copies emphasize focus on the Darkrai-EX aspect of the deck and this card is too good not to play. This card is actually a severely underrated attacker in the form of Dark Cleave, a sneakily cost efficient attack due to its Restoration Ability! Dark Cleave is incredibly strong against weaker Pokémon such as Shaymin-EX - be sure to use it to nab some of those remaining Prize Cards. In this deck, we use Darkrai-GX to get Energy on our board to power up Darkrai-EX BKP’s Dark Pulse attack!

One Hoopa-EX

I’m a firm believer in the fact that consistency wins every time. If you look at the Item portion of this deck list, I sport a common four-set of almost every bread and butter item card. Max Elixir, Ultra Ball, and even two Trainer’s Mail to give it an extra boost. Playing these consistency cards are truly what make the deck tick with many cards to get your strategy rolling. Without them, you’d be restricted to a single energy attachment a turn, and no surprise factors! Your opening turns will most likely involve the use of Hoopa EX, which we have many ways to access. We play a staple four Ultra Balls that allows us to also conveniently access our Shaymin EX. Ultra Ball is a godsend amongst item cards, being able to grant us free retreat with Darkrai-EX DEX, which is such a huge asset to this deck.

One Sudowoodo 

With decks such as ‘LonZoroark’ and Turbo Darkrai-EX being successful in Expanded, we need a card that can combat decks that abuse Sky Field. Sudowoodo does just that and will take the focus off of your more important Pokémon as your opponent is forced to try and Knock Out your Sudowoodo.

One Mew

So I decided to play Mew as my one Prize Card attacker and I haven’t really looked back! This card allows me to hit random Pokémon for their Weakness such as Hoopa-EX, Garbodor, and Gallade. This allows me to stabilize my plan if my deck can’t produce ten Energy on board quickly enough. Mew also has the amazing rebound attack, Encounter, which can allow for the search of a support Pokémon such as Hoopa-EX, Shaymin-EX, and Tapu Lele-GX if you ever start with a dead hand. Oh, did I mention Mew has free Retreat, yeah, I guess that is totally a plus too.

One Colress

In a format where Zoroark-GX, one of the biggest decks in the format, plays Sky Field, Colress has the potential to draw upwards of sixteen cards! I guess you can say we will be using this card a few times per game with VS Seeker!

Four Dark Patch 

I think the choice to max out this card goes without saying; it is honestly the card that makes this deck work! With all of the consistency cards in this deck and all of the other card choices I have made; you should have very little problems using three or four of this card per game with ease.

Four Max Elixirs

Similar to Dark Patch, this is our secondary Energy acceleration card of choice in the deck and it is also equally maxed out. The biggest differentiator between this card and Dark Patch is that you can use it to power up your Mew or perhaps you can use it to get the necessary amount of Energy on a Tapu Lele-GX! As explained below, this card pairs quite nicely with Battle Compressor to clear your deck off non-Energy cards so try to remember that when you try out the deck. This deck’s micro-decisions can influence a game greatly. An example of this would be a common one: you have a Trainer’s Mail in hand, and you have a Max Elixir as well. Which one do you play first? The answer depends on the goal you need to achieve that turn.

Max Elixir first: by playing the Max Elixir first, you make the extra energy attachment a second priority. You realize that you need a specific Item card (or a Supporter) that turn, and want to thin the deck of an energy card to heighten your odds with Trainer’s Mail.

Trainers' Mail first: by playing the Trainer’s Mail first, you acknowledge that you’re behind in energy attachments and need to maximize your odds of hitting an energy on Max Elixir. You do so by thinning the deck of a Trainer card.

Using an Ultra Ball to discard useless cards before playing N or Professor Juniper can also make a huge difference. When playing N, you not only discard Ultra Ball, but also 2 useless cards that game (typically tech Pokémon) that otherwise clutter the deck. When playing Sycamore, I like to use Ultra Ball, discard two cards that were going to be pitched with Sycamore anyways, grab another useless tech Pokémon in that matchup, and discard it with my supporter for the turn. Keeping the deck thin is a main priority in this deck.

Three Fighting Fury Belt

In our current expanded format, cards such as Field Blower are often not fully utilized because they are currently being played at minimal counts. This is a huge plus for passive cards such as Fighting Fury Belt because it means the card will stick on our Pokemon for more turns. In this deck, we are using the Fighting Fury Belts more for the extra HP and the ten extra damage is a more of a side effect. 

Two Battle Compressor

With the obvious synergy between VS Seeker, Darkrai-GX, and Dark Patch, this card is such a valuable asset to the deck! You can use this card to maximize your odds on a Max Elixir to discard non-Darkness Energy cards or if you need to hit specific cards off of a Professor Juniper, you can discard “useless” cards to cater to your situation. Tread with caution overall because this card can allow you to deck out in a blink of an eye.

Dallas: Here I Come

I hope that you enjoyed my take on the current expanded meta game and I invite you to explore many different decks as we head into Dallas. Speaking about Dallas, I have registered for the tournament and booked my flight! While it often goes unsaid, a key factor in playing in events is actually planning for them. If you put your mind into playing in an event, you will start taking each event seriously within its own right! For any of my upcoming articles, they will be all about Expanded heading into Dallas so get excited for new content coming from me soon!

As you may or may not have known, I have taken a brief break from the game after London to relax and I am super excited to play in Dallas. It was getting very tiresome playing the game at a top level; the travel was expensive, I was losing sleep, and I would frantically force myself to play test. During my minor break from major competitive tournaments, I started on focusing my efforts into coaching players, writing articles, and getting myself together. Sometimes you just need to pause your Pokémon life to regroup - this is regardless if you are a newer player trying to catch a wave or a seasoned veteran who grind tournaments weekly. Now this doesn’t mean that you don’t want to play, but you need to clear on your self-reflections, realize what you want out of the game, and make sure you are making wise decisions. It feels great to be back with many planned tournaments heading into 2018!

Either way, feel free to follow me on my Twitter: zlesage_pokemon to see if there are any changes to my lists. I am personally excited to see the results of the upcoming Dallas Regionals and hopefully I will continue to ride the wave on top of the competitive spectrum. I wish everyone the best of luck who is living out their dream trying to compete for a World Championship invite or for those who are loving and supporting the game from a casual standpoint. If you haven’t met me in person or if we have just briefly met, feel free to actually introduce yourself to me because I love knowing everybody. Thank you for all of the support, I truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to read one of my articles and for supporting 60 Cards.

- Zach Lesage

[+18] okko


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