Experts' corner

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Zach Lesage

Exploring Ultra Prism in Expanded - Two New Decks

Zach goes over a Zoroark-GX/Garbodor deck and a Buzzwole-GX/Wide Lens deck in the new Expanded format.

02/23/2018 by Zach Lesage

Dashing Past Collinsville

What’s up 60Cards readers? I am back with a jam-packed article today that will end up including two decks that seem like strong choices heading into Costa Mesa! I know most of you are likely exhausted with the tournament schedule (I know I am), but it is something we have to deal with until TPCI decides to change the seasonal structure. The one thing that you need to remind yourself is that the best players will always make time to test new concepts, so that they are ahead of the learning curve of average players. If you don’t have as much time to test, you are in the right place, because here I dive into our Expanded metagame now that Ultra Prism is legal.

The State of Expanded

For those of you who don’t know, this past weekend Ultra Prism was formally released for tournament play at Collinsville, IL Regionals; that means that Ultra Prism will be able to affect our decks in Expanded as we approach Costa Mesa, CA Regionals. It is at this point where we go back into a circle of questions that boggle most competitive players:

What cards are good from Ultra Prism?

What does the metagame look like right now?

Is my deck still relevant?

Is Zoroark-GX still good?

Did Ultra Prism create any new decks?

Are there any updates we can add to older decks?

My goal within this article is to answer as many of these questions as possible. In order to make sure we know what we are heading into, we should prepare for what has already seen success at our last Expanded Regionals in Dallas,TX. I would like to note that most players heading into Costa Mesa will use similar decklists to the decks that saw success in Dallas. It should go without saying that Ultra Prism has added Cynthia to most decks, and that is going to be the most played card from Ultra Prism. Let’s look at the decks that performed the best in Dallas:

Zoroark-GX/Joltik/Pumpkaboo/Lampent

Zoroark-GX/Alolan Muk/Seismitoad-EX

Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX

Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX

Zoroark-GX/Magnezone

Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute

Drampa-GX/Garbodor

Sableye/Garbodor

Wailord-EX

With us looking upon the individual decks that made top 8 or better in any one of the three divisions, it is clear that there are only three styles of decks. Zoroark-GX is one style of deck, we have Drampa-GX/Garbodor as another style of deck, and we have stall/mill decks to round out the list. Out of the 24 decks that made top 8 in any division, all of them were able to be tossed in one of those categories. Zoroark-GX was the best deck for Dallas overall, winning in two divisions and littering the archetype at the top of each division. You might be asking, how can we handle Zoroark-GX in Expanded? That answer seems very easy and extremely tough at the same time.

Zoroark-GX is Too Much!

Well, if you have played any Standard or Expanded tournament since November, you should know that Zoroark-GX has been in the spot light for a while now. While this doesn't necessarily mean that Zoroark-GX decks are the absolute best decks, it has won every single major event in North America since its release (and both International Championships thus far). Zoroark-GX decks gain strength through their ability to draw many cards, attack for a single Double Colorless Energy, do plenty of damage, and they are versatile in construction to include many different concepts. In order for us to beat a Zoroark-GX deck, we need to do the at least some of the following things:

Lock our opponent out of using Zoroark-GX’s Trade Ability

Stop our opponent from attaching Double Colorless Energy 

Remove our opponent's Double Colorless Energy

Have more than 210 HP on our main attacking Pokemon

Block our opponent from Benching many Pokemon

Stop our opponent from playing Sky Field

Stop our opponent from playing Supporters, Items, and/or Stadiums

Isolate Zorua before it Evolves into a Zoroark-GX

Be able to Knock Out Zoroark-GX consistently

Block attacks from GX Pokemon

While most decks can’t possibly include all of these concepts, we must include answers against Zoroark-GX in any deck going forward. Furthermore, most Zoroark-GX decks also answer opposing Zoroark-GX deck in tournaments so it can also counter itself. If you have a deck idea heading into Costa Mesa, I would experiment by adding a few of these cards into your deck:

Garbodor DRX/BKP and Hex Maniac to block Zoroark-GX’s Trade Ability

Barbaracle FCO to stop our opponent from playing Special Energy cards

Team Flare Grunt, Enhanced Hammer, and Plumeria to remove Energy Cards

Wailord-EX is a Pokemon with an absurdly high amount of HP - think big!

Sudowoodo GRI and Parallel City can limit our opponent's Bench

Ninetales PRC can stop our opponent from playing a Sky Field

Sableye GRI, Seismitoad-EX FFI, and Trevenant XY can stop our opponent from playing Trainer cards.

Buzzwole-GX CRI can use Jet Punch to Knock Out a Zorua quickly

Lycanroc-GX GRI can easily Knock Out a Zoroark-GX with Dangerous Rogue GX and Claw Slash.

Hoopa SLG can stop a Zoroark-GX from attacking it.

These are just a few examples of cards that are strong inclusions in some decks right now, and they can all help solve the Zoroark-GX problem. If you do decide to build any new deck or expand on an existing concept, it would be wise to answer Zoroark-GX in some way.

Jumping back on the Ultra Prism wave, there may be some interesting concepts that are ready to shake up the metagame. At the time of writing, I have not fully dived into creating every new Expanded deck, but there might be something there.

Creating New Decks from Ultra Prism

So you may be wondering where to begin your new concept, so I am including a list of cards/concepts that are on my to-do list. Some of these ideas might be stronger than others, but I think some ideas are compelling to say the least. Let’s check out what some of these ideas are:

Alolan Dugtrio UPR/Superior Energy Retrieval PLF (Shoutout to Darian Nigro for the idea)

Darkrai-EX BKP/Darkrai-EX DEX/Darkrai-GX BSH/Darkrai PRISM UPR

Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX UPR/Dialga-GX UPR/Bronzong PHF

Empoleon UPR/Empoleon DEX

Garchomp UPR/Lucario UPR/Gabite DRX/Altaria DRX

Glaceon-GX UPR/Disruption Cards

Drampa-GX GRI/Garbodor GRI/Garbodor BKP/Lunala PRISM

Raichu-GX SLG/Pachirisu UPR

Passimian SUM/Passimian UPR

Weavile UPR/Zoroark-GX SLG

With that being said, I have not personally found anything else that Ultra Prism has added to our format, and I would be surprised to see something not listed above see success. While I obviously can not think of every possible deck ever, those are the likely bunch of decks that are created out of Ultra Prism cards. Hopefully your Ultra Prism testing consists of well played out games, exploring unknown concepts, and having fun. It is always exciting to test cards that are from a new set, so I hope that you enjoy yourself!

Now I have actually been testing the below deck, and I find it to have some compelling answers to our current format. Let’s dive right into this new list:

Zoroark-GX/Garbodor/Exeggcute 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.

Four Zoroark-GX, Three Sky Field, and Two Colress

This is a standard line for any Zoroark-GX deck and it is the strategy behind our entire deck. Zoroark-GX is used as our main attacker in the form of Riotous Beating and our main source of drawing cards in the form of the Ability Trade. Riotous Beating does 20 damage per each of your Pokemon in play, which means that you can do 180 damage if you have a full bench of eight Pokemon with a Sky Field in play. Colress gains some significant strength in this deck due to the synergy between needing Benched Pokemon and a deck that play Sky Field. With the combination of Zoroark-GX, Sky Field, and Colress, you will be able to draw many cards and attack for a high amount of damage.

Four Zorua ‘Paralyzing Gaze’

Some players think that dropping ten dollars on a common card is a financial mistake, but I think that this Zorua is the best Zorua currently available in Expanded. I like having the option to play from behind if prompted and Paralyzing a Pokemon can buy us an extra turn if we need it. In all honesty, I don’t ever want to use Paralyzing Gaze in a game, but the option is nice.

Two Garbodor ‘Garbotoxin’, One Klefki, and Three Busting Balloon

This is the secondary component of this deck and likely the most interesting concept in this deck. I am sure that the concept of Garbodor Garbotoxin is ingrained in every competitive players head by now and you may be wondering why I would play this card in a Zoroark-GX deck. Well, the answer is as simple as using Trade as many times as possible and then putting a Bursting Balloon or Klefki on my Garbodor. The interaction is weird, but it plays out in a simple loop that is advantageous only to our board:

1) Use as many Abilities as possible during your turn 
2) Play a Bursting Balloon or a Klefki on your Garbodor to activate Garbodor’s Garbotoxin Ability
3) Attack your opponent as you would normally
4) Your opponent plays their turn under Garbotoxin lock and can’t use any Abilities
5) They attack you as normal; their turn ends
6) Bursting Balloon or Klefki is discarded and your Abilities turn on again
7) Repeat steps 1 through 6 until you win

With this combination of cards, it is possible to only lock your opponent out of using their Abilities while you are able to use Zoroark-GX’s Trade Ability as often as you like. It doesn't really seem fair, but at least it is your opponent who is locked and not us. 

Two Trubbish ‘Garbage Collection’

Similar to Zorua ‘Paralyzing Gaze’, this Trubbish ‘Garbage Collection’ can pull us out of a jam if we absolutely need to get a card back from our Discard Pile. If you look at the decklist, you can see that the amount of cards that we can grab back can lead to some cool situations. Maybe you dropped a Puzzle of Time early because you were forced into playing an Ultra Ball, or perhaps you want to get back your Computer Search. Whichever way you decide to use Garbage Collection, let it be known that you can jump back into games out of nowhere if your opponent can’t prevent you from getting back an important card.

Four Exeggcute and Two Battle Compressor

I have taken inspiration from the finals match of Dallas, TX Regionals earlier this year, and I like the inclusion of extra Exeggcute in this decklist. It makes complete sense to include Exeggcute in any Zoroark-GX deck, but the inclusion of four of them starts to become zany. When you play four Exeggcute, you can always gain a full Bench if you can shut off an opposing Sudowoodo Road Block to use Zoroark-GX’s Riotous Beating for full damage. Once Sudowoodo’s Ability activates again, you can discard all of your Exeggcute to keep all of your important Pokemon in play. Battle Compressor and Exeggcute have strong synergy in this deck because we can quickly discard our Exeggcute to get them back with Propagation as we please. This strategy can help us expedite our use of Zoroark-GX’s Trade Ability and being able to use that Ability without the drawback of discarding a card.

Two Tapu Lele-GX and Two Brigette

Our goal in almost any game is to be able to get our Zorua in play as quickly as possible and the combination of two Tapu Lele-GX and two Brigette should give enough odds to make that happen in most games. The more Zorua that you get out in the earlier stages of the game means that you can evolve them into Zoroark-GX to attack or draw cards quickly. Either way, we need to make sure that our Bench gets full quickly to make sure we can use Zoroark-GX’s Riotous Beating for the maximum amount of damage.

Two Shaymin-EX

With this deck already having so many outs to drawing cards, you may be wondering why I would opt to include other draw cards, but sometimes you need the cards when you want them. Shaymin-EX is also another Pokemon that we can use to power up Riotous Beating, so we can benefit from that as well. A vital strategy is to discard Shaymin-EX if our opponent ever limits our Bench to prevent our opponent from using a Guzma to take an easy two Prize Cards.

One Sudowoodo ‘Road Block’

In a Zoroark-GX meta game, we want to have outs to limiting our opponents Bench, and this card seems like the best inclusion. While most decks would use Parallel City to limit their opponents Bench to three, we need to play Sudowoodo because it is mandatory for us to have a Sky Field in play. Sudowoodo may get targeted by our opponent, but we can always get it back with a Rescue Stretcher or a combination of Puzzle of Time whenever it is necessary. In every Zoroark-GX mirror, it is advisable to play your Sudowoodo; anything less will result in an oncoming barrage of damage.

Four Puzzle of Time

The magical card that allows us to get back any of our interesting cards in our deck! In most decks, it is quite difficult to use two Puzzle of Time at once, but we can accomplish this feature in many of our games with the assistance of Zoroark-GX’s Trade Ability. It can be difficult to decide which cards you want to grab back with Puzzle of Time, but the answer should usually come quickly if you are missing a card or two. Sometimes you need a Double Colorless Energy or perhaps you have used all of your Bursting Balloon earlier in the game; the choices are usually right in front of you. Remember to look at your board state; look at your opponent's board state; and make the correct decision that benefits you for the entirety of the game. 

Three Choice Band

This card allows us to do the magical amount of damage that equals 210 when we attach it to a Zoroark-GX with a full Bench. This is the perfect amount of damage, because is is enough to Knock Out opposing Zoroark-GX and almost every other strong Pokemon in Expanded that isn’t a Wailord-EX or a Gardevoir-GX. With us playing Garbodor Garbotoxin, we also can use Choice Band to activate Garbotoxin if we find ourselves out of all other options.

One Red Card

This card is an interesting inclusion, but it can help us truly lock out our opponent. I always dream of being able to set-up a Garbodor Garbotoxin with a Bursting Balloon, having eight Pokemon on my Bench, having a Choice Band attached to my Active Zoroark-GX, playing a Red Card to give my opponent four random cards, and attacking with Riotous Beating for 210 damage. This seems like a situation that I wouldn’t want to be in, and I don’t see a compelling strategy that my opponent can take in order to stop this combination. It is possible for them to draw out of it, but how is that anything that can happen consistently? If your opponent somehow wiggles out of this strategy, we can always rinse and repeat during our next turn.

So that is it for the Zoroark-GX portion of this article, and now I want to briefly discuss a brain-child of a deck that should be able to do well against any Zoroark-GX deck. I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t in love with Buzzwole-GX, but is that necessarily a bad thing when Zoroark-GX is so popular? The below creation aims at exploiting Buzzwole-GX’s Jet Punch attack to draw two Prize Cards at time. Using that as a base, I added in a Garbodor Garbotoxin line to stop my opponent from using Abilities, and I play Max Elixir to expedite my use of Knuckle Impact when necessary. Let’s take a look at the list:

Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor/Wide Lens 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 deck.

Three Buzzwole-GX, Two Landorus-GX, and Three Wide Lens

Buzzwole-GX is a simple Pokemon that has three attacks that you can decide to use for any situation. In this deck, we use Buzzwole-GX’s Jet Punch or Landorus-EX’s Hammerhead to deal 30 damage to our opponent’s Active Pokemon and 30 damage to one of our opponents Benched Pokemon. This sounds mediocre at best until you realize that we are in a Zoroark-GX metagame! Zoroark-GX requires our opponent to Evolve a Zorua, a Pokemon that has only 60 HP and weak to Fighting. With the addition of Wide Lens in our deck, it is possible to Knock Out two Zorua for a single Energy. If our opponent gets set up at all, we can use any of our three-Energy attacks to promptly Knock Out our opponents Active Pokemon. Our Jet Punch strategy also works quite well against the popular Night March deck by Knocking Out two Joltik. We only use Landorus-EX in this deck because it has a different Weakness than Buzzwole-GX.

One Oricorio

While we can use our Jet Punch and Wide Lens strategy when facing against Night March to attack two Joltik, Oricorio can often seal the match-up. With our deck being generally quicker than our opponent's deck, we can also use Oricorio versus other decks if we take a few Prize Cards early game to get Pokemon in their Discard Pile.

Three Korrina

In a deck where using Jet Punch early game is necessary, we can attack our opponent as easily as starting with a Korrina in our hand. When we face versus a Zoroark-GX deck, we will often use Korrina to grab a Buzzwole-GX and a Wide Lens to Knock Out two Zorua.

Four Max Elixir and One Super Rod

Max Elixir allows us to expedite our attachment of Energy, and Super Rod allows us to recover Fighting Energy late game to guarantee our last few Max Elixir. Like I stated earlier, this deck focuses on using Jet Punch/Hammerhead, but nothing stops us from using one of our three energy attacks to Knock Out an opposing threat if necessary.

Two Target Whistle and Two Captivating Poke Puff

These cards allow us to play more Pokemon on our opponent’s Bench either from their Discard Pile or from their hand which means that we can use Jet Punch and Wide Lens to Knock Out more Pokemon. Look at this quick Prize Card mapping versus a Zoroark-GX deck:

Prize Cards 1 though 2: Use Jet Punch with Wide Lens to Knock Out two Zorua

Your opponent promotes Zoroark-GX and uses Riotous Beating to Knock Out your Buzzwole-GX

Prize Cards 3 through 4: Use Target Whistle to bring back an Exeggcute and use Guzma to bring up another Zorua. Use Jet Punch to Knock Out the Active Zorua and the Benched Exeggcute.

Your opponent uses Riotous Beating to Knock Out your Buzzwole-GX.

Prize Cards 5 through 6: Use Max Elixir twice and attach an Energy to a Buzzwole-GX, you can now use Knuckle Impact to OHKO the opposing Zoroark-GX.

You win the game!

These cards allow you to manipulate the board state to draw many Prize Cards as quickly as possible. I might play around with the counts of both Target Whistle and Captivating Poke Puff, but they are fundamentally the same card in the deck.

See Ya in Costa Mesa

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you! I am not going to lie: This Pokemon season is starting to take it’s toll on me, but all of the support I receive from everyone gives me the strength to continue on. After placing 31st at the 2018 Oceania International Championships in Sydney, Australia, I received a stipend to participate in the 2018 Latin America International Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil. After gaining 160 CP in Sydney, I have decided to aim for completing the year within the Top 16 North American rankings. This decision scares me, but I am excited to embark on many Pokemon adventures this season. I have always tried to do things that scare me, because it helps me grow as a person regardless of the outcome.

With my next article being due relatively soon, I am going to write about some Ultra Prism Standard decks that seem like strong plays as we are entering Quarter 3 of League Cups. I will have another article or two focusing on Expanded closer to Costa Mesa, CA so keep your eyes peeled for everything I have queued up!

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 Costa Mesa, CA 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 take the time to read one of my articles and for supporting 60Cards.

[+23] okko


 

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