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Zach Lesage

Expanded Prep - Exploring Options for Stuttgart

Zach details over the best deck in Expanded right now, Zoroark-GX / Exeggcute!

04/12/2018 by Zach Lesage

Expanded Talk

What’s up 60 Cards readers, it’s me Zach Lesage bringing you some Expanded fun for everyone who is heading out to Stuttgart, Germany Regionals this week! While it is likely that Stuttgart Regionals is going to have a lower attendance, I did want to write an Expanded article for those who are attending it, for those who have Expanded League Cups, and for those who want a recap as they prepare for Salt Lake City, Utah Regionals. So for those of you who aren't interested in this Expanded article, I would like to say that this is one of my best written articles, but I will also state that my upcoming articles will be about Standard. With all of that being said, let’s see how the Expanded meta game is shaping up:

What is Good in Expanded?

Well, with Expanded being a much lesser played format due to the volume of events that are available, we have to sometimes look back further than expected to see the results that matter to us. In this case, the Expanded format has likely grown since the 2018 Dallas, Texas Regional Championships in January and is likely similar to the ‘recent’ Costa Mesa, California Regional Championships in March. Below, I will detail all of the different decks that made Top Eight or better at the event in the Masters Division alone:

Dallas, Texas (January 2018)
Zoroark-GX / Alolan Muk
Zoroark-GX / Exeggcute
Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX
Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX
Drampa-GX / Garbodor

Costa Mesa, California (March 2018)
Drampa-GX / Garbodor
Zoroark-GX / Exeggcute
Glaceon-GX / Barbaracle
Seismitoad-EX / Garbodor
Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX

As you can tell, both of the Top Eights that are featured here are predominately Zoroark-GX variants, a splash of Drampa-GX / Garbodor decks, and the remaining decks were able to slip through the cracks of the meta game somehow. Looking at all of these decks, I want to go over the most straight forward deck of them all, Zoroark-GX / Exeggcute. Now it might not be the easiest deck to play, but it does seem like the most consistent deck to play for Stuttgart Regionals. The lst below is a combination of Isaiah Williams and Phinnegan Lynch’s list with minor changes made because they seemingly perfected the concept:

Zoroark-GX / Exeggcute Deck

Card Explanations

In this section of the article, I will go over the entirety of the deck to showcase how the deck works. In some cases, I will exclude cards that would only bring ‘filler’ information into the article.

Four Zoroark-GX

Zoroark-GX is the backbone of our deck because it has such a strong Ability, Trade, which allows us to draw plenty of cards in our deck. In Expanded, we gain access to Exeggcute which can allow us to use Trade for free throughout the game because we can cycle through the same Exeggcute by using Propagation over and over again. In most cases, a typical turn in Expanded will look like this:

Player: Evolve a Zorua into a Zoroark-GX.
Player: Use Propagation on a discarded Exeggcute to bring Exeggcute to back into their hand.
Player: Use Trade #1 to discard an Exeggcute to draw two cards.
Player: Use Propagation on a discarded Exeggcute to bring Exeggcute to back into their hand.
Player: Use Propagation on a discarded Exeggcute to bring Exeggcute to back into their hand.
Player: Use Ultra Ball, discard two Exeggcute, search out another Zoroark-GX.
Player: Evolve a Zorua into a Zoroark-GX.
Player: Use Propagation on a discarded Exeggcute to bring Exeggcute to back into their hand.
Player: Use Trade #2 to discard an Exeggcute to draw two cards.
Player: Use two Puzzle of Time to retrieve back a Zoroark-GX and an Ultra Ball.
Player: Evolve a Zorua into a Zoroark-GX.
Player: Use Propagation on a discarded Exeggcute to bring Exeggcute to back into their hand.
Player: Use Trade #3 to discard an Exeggcute to draw two cards.
Player: Use Propagation on a discarded Exeggcute to bring Exeggcute to back into their hand.
Player: Use Propagation on a discarded Exeggcute to bring Exeggcute to back into their hand.
Player: Use Ultra Ball, discard two Exeggcute, search out another Zoroark-GX.
Player: Evolve a Zorua into a Zoroark-GX.
Player: Use Propagation on a discarded Exeggcute to bring Exeggcute to back into their hand.
Player: Use Trade #4 to discard an Exeggcute to draw two cards.

While this might seem like a huge block of repetitive text, it is how most games come to fruition and it is simply how outrageous this deck can be at times. Also, if you thought that Zoroark-GX is only about drawing cards, you would be total wrong.In this deck, Riotous Beating is the attack that we will be using for the most of the game. In Standard, Riotous Beating is a mediocre attack that caps at 150 damage; in Expanded, Riotous Beating can cap at 210 damage due to Sky Field. The change of 60 damage makes this card a viable standalone attacker and it can Knock Out quite a few powerful Pokemon. Let’s see how it’s damage adds up:

One Pokemon in Play = 20 x 1 = 20 damage
Two Pokemon in Play = 20 x 2 = 40 damage
Three Pokemon in Play = 20 x 3 = 60 damage
Four Pokemon in Play = 20 x 4 = 80 damage
Five Pokemon in Play = 20 x 5 = 100 damage
Six Pokemon in Play = 20 x 6 = 120 damage
Seven Pokemon in Play = 20 x 7 = 140 damage
Eight Pokemon in Play = 20 x 8 = 160 damage
Nine Pokemon in Play = 20 x 9 = 180 damage

That being said, with Nine Pokemon in play, it is possible to Knock Out Tapu Lele-GX, Darkrai-EX, Darkrai-GX, and Drampa-GX. With the addition of Choice Band, Riotous Beating can OHKO some other powerful Pokemon…

One Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 1 + 30 = 50 damage
Two Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 2 + 30 = 70 damage
Three Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 3 + 30 = 90 damage
Four Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 4 + 30 = 110 damage
Five Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 5 + 30 = 130 damage
Six Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 6 + 30 = 150 damage
Seven Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 7 + 30 = 170 damage
Eight Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 8 + 30 = 190 damage
Nine Pokemon in Play with a Choice Band = 20 x 9 + 30 = 210 damage

In this rage of damage, we can OHKO Pokemon with large amounts of HP such as Golisopod-GX or even opposing Zoroark-GX. In most cases, Zoroark-GX is the most played deck in Expanded so try to have the options to do 210 damage whenever possible.

One Zoroark ‘Foul Play’

While it is often advantageous to evolve a Zorua into a Zoroark-GX, it can also be game-breaking to evolve a Zorua into a Zoroark with Foul Play. In most cases, Zoroark with Foul Play is similar to Sudowoodo with Watch and Learn. Interestingly, Foul Play doesn't require you opponent to use an attack during their last turn so even if they are using Buzzwole-GXs Jet Punch, you can promptly use Knuckle Impact right away. Lets look at some of the attack that Zoroark with Foul Play can copy:

Garbodors Trashalanche
Greninjas Moonlight Slash
Greninjas Shadow Stitch
Drampa-GXs Berserk
Gardevoir-GXs Infinite Force
Golisopod-GXs Crossing Cut GX
Golisopod-GXs First Impression
Volcanion-EXs Volcanic Heat
Xurkitree-GXs Lighting GX
Zoroark-GXs Riotous Beating
Zoroark-GXs Trickster GX
Zoroarks Mind Jack
Buzzwole-GXs Knuckle Impact
Buzzwole-GXs Absorption GX
Ho-Oh-GXs Phoenix Burn
Lycanroc-GXs Dangerous Rogue GX
Seismitoad-EXs Quaking Punch
Lucario-GXs Aura Strike
Lucario-GXs Cyclone Kick
Lucario-GXs Cantankerous Beatdown GX

While there are other attacks that you may come across, this list is accurate for what is expected in the current Expanded meta game. I advise you to try and find time to use this strong one Prize Card attacker during your games.

Three Zorua ‘Paralyzing Gaze’ and One Zorua ‘Lunge’

In Expanded, it is best for us to look at a wide range of Pokemon that can Evolve into whichever Pokemon we play. In this case, I have found that the Paralyzing Gaze Zorua from Dark Explorers can give you that last bit of hope if you are stuck in a jam. Furthermore, while Night March has seemingly taken a backseat in our current Expanded format, the Zorua with Lunge from Black and White can OHKO either a Joltik or a Pumkaboo in a pinch. In most cases, I try to avoid attacking with the Basic Pokemon in my deck because that usually means I am in a bad position, but when my back is against the wall, I am glad to have these two Zorua in the deck!

One Exeggutor

While this card may not see as much play as other cards in the deck throughout your games, it does help improve your chances against a Wailord-EX deck! This is due to Wailord-EX relying heavily on the abundance of disruption and healing Supporter Cards that Blockade stops. If you look at all decks, they usually play Supporter cards which means that Blockade can see use in many different circumstances. Furthermore, Seismitoad-EX is seemingly making a comeback in Expanded which offers another Pokémon that suffers from a Grass Weakness that Exeggutor can attack.

Four Exeggcute

As seen above in the Zoroark-GX section, Exeggcute is a solid way to use Trade, but what else does it offer? In the below situation, I will showcase a common scenario in which a Zoroark-GX deck faces another Zoroark-GX deck:

Player A: Starts Zorua, plays a Brigette from their hand, searches their deck for Zorua, Zorua, and a Sudowoodo to place on their Bench. They play a Battle Compressor from their hand, discards Exeggcute, Exeggcute, and a Hex Maniac from their deck. They play a Level Ball and search their deck for another Zorua and places it on their Bench. They pass.

Player B: Starts Zorua, plays a Brigette from their hand, searches their deck for Zorua, Zorua, and a Sudowoodo to place on their Bench. They play a Battle Compressor from their hand, discards Exeggcute, Exeggcute, and a Hex Maniac from their deck. They use Propagation twice, play an Ultra Ball, and search their deck for another Zorua and places it on their Bench. They pass.

Player A: Evolves their Active Zorua into a Zoroark-GX, uses Propagation, and uses Trade. Evolves a Benched Zorua into a Zoroark-GX, uses Propagation, and uses Trade. Evolves a Benched Zorua into a Zoroark-GX, uses Propagation, and uses Trade. Evolves a Benched Zorua into a Zoroark-GX, uses Propagation, and uses Trade. Attaches a Double Colorless Energy to their Active Zoroark-GX, plays a VS Seeker, grabs a Hex Maniac, and plays the Hex Maniac. They attack with Riotous Beating to Knock Out the opposing Zorua.

Player B: Promotes a Zorua and Evolves their Active Zorua into a Zoroark-GX. They attach a Double Colorless Energy to their Zoroark-GX, Bench an Exeggcute from their hand, and play an N. They attach a Choice Band to their Active Zoroark-GX and attack with Riotous Beating for 130 damage.

Player A: Retreats their Active Zoroark-GX into another Zoroark-GX and attaches a Double Colorless Energy to their Active Zoroark-GX. They play a Battle Compressor to discard an Exeggcute, Exeggcute, and a Colress from their deck. They use Propagation, use Trade, use Propagation, use Trade, use Propagation, use Trade, use Propagation and use Trade. They play a Skyfield down from their hand, use Propagation, use Propagation, use Propagation, use Propagation, and attach a Choice Band to their Active Zoroark-GX. They play a Hex Maniac to shut off the opposing Sudowoodo, play down Exeggcute, play down Exeggcute, play down Exeggcute, and play down Exeggcute. They use Riotous Beating for 210 damage to Knock Out the opposing Zoroark-GX.

As I am sure you can tell, Exeggcute is used as a way to discard cards and make use as a Benched Pokemon in that scenario. Alternatively, Exeggcute can Evolve into Exeggutor in the right circumstances if the timing is right (see the Exeggutor explanation). Whichever way you decide to use Exeggcute, you will quickly realize that it is an integral piece of your deck and you will utilize it accordingly.

Three Shaymin-EX

Similar to the M Rayquaza-EX decks of Expanded a few years ago, you need to have a big Bench so it is vital to fill up your Bench with the most useful cards! In this deck, Shaymin-EX allows you to draw cards from your deck and add valuable damage to Riotous Beating, what’s not to love?

Two Tapu Lele-GX

In Standard, some Zoroark-GX decks play three or even four Tapu Lele-GX to make that engine work, but Shaymin-EX allows us to ease up on that count! In most cases, you will want to use Tapu Lele-GX to search out a turn one Brigette or perhaps draw an outrageous amount of cards with Colress. Alternatively, Tapu Lele-GX can be a strong attacker against Buzzwole-GX, a deck that seemed decently popular at the 2018 Costa Mesa, California Regionals.

One Sudowoodo

Whenever I play a deck that has Sky Field, I play this card to limit my opponent’s Benched Pokemon so they do not get the same benefit that I do when I play Sky Field. This card will be especially helpful against most Zoroark-GX variants / mirror match to say the least. Most decks need a full Bench to have a sound strategy and Zoroark-GX takes that to a whole other level, in which this card addresses that nicely.

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. With no other ACE SPEC having major synergy with this deck, besides Dowsing Machine, Computer Search is our best option. It should also be noted that you can use Computer Search for absolutely no drawback when you use Propagation twice! Yeah that’s right, you can search out any card you like from your deck without truly discarding anything. You can also use Puzzle of Time to get back Computer Search if you ever need that last piece of your strategy that is hidden away in your deck!

Three Sky Field

This card allows Riotous Beating to go from 120 damage to 180 damage because it allows you to play an additional three Pokémon on your Bench. In addition to Sky Field, you can also add more damage to Riotous Beating by attaching a Choice Band to Zoroark-GX to max out at 210 damage. While Sky Field is mainly used as fuel for Riotous Beating, it can also allow you to Bench more Pokemon such as Shaymin-EX to draw extra cards.

Three Colress

In a meta game where big benches often dictate the winner of any given match, Colress gains the necessary draw power to be the best draw Supporter in Expanded. Look at it this way, if you are playing Zoroark-GX, have a Bench of eight Pokemon, your opponent has a bench of eight Pokémon, you are going to draw sixteen cards! While most games won’t let you draw sixteen cards per turn with Colress, eight is usually the median number which is still extremely powerful!

Two Hex Maniac

While I have discussed how Sky Field and Choice Band are the best way for Zoroark-GX to achieve an OHKO on another Zoroark-GX, you may be wondering how to get around an opposing Road Block. Hex Maniac shuts down Sudowoodo and allows you to hit your magical number of 210 damage. Furthermore, Hex Maniac stops other strong Abilities including Propagation, Trade, Set Up, Wonder Tag, and Irritating Pollen. With all of this strength contained in a single card, you will be eager to use it ever turn - just be sure to use your Abilities before you play this card!

One Brigette

This card serves the same function in Standard as Expanded, you need to get our multiple Zorua in order to get Zoroark-GX out as soon as possible. If you don’t use Brigette early game, feel free to discard it later in game with Trade.

One Ghetsis

To simply put it, if you know your opponent has Item Cards in their hand, play this card. It doesn’t have to necessarily be direct information, but sometimes you have a hunch or your opponent will accidentally show you their hand. In any case, Ghetsis can turn a great opposing hand into absolutely nothing.

One Guzma

Sometimes the Pokémon you want to Knock Out is on your opponents Bench or sometimes you want to use Guzma as a way to move your Active Pokémon to your Bench.

Four Puzzle of Time

In a deck such as this, you will want to gather back the strongest cards in your deck to use again and again! In most games, the cards you will want to get back are Double Colorless Energy, Red Card, and Sky Field. Overall, try to use this card in twos unless you are absolutely forced to play a single Puzzle of Time out of pure necessity.

Four VS Seeker

Hex Maniac and Colress are going to be on repeat each game - get these cards back and use them according to the situation you are in. Lock your opposing out of their Abilities or draw an insane amount of cards, your choice! It is a key point to remember that discarding Supporter Cards with Trade, Ultra Ball, Computer Search, and / or Battle Compressor is usually a sound strategy because you can get them back easily with VS Seeker.

Four Ultra Ball

While I usually omit this card from most ‘Card Explanation’ sections, it is a stronger card in this deck because you can discard Exeggcute from your hand. Furthermore, you can use Propagation twice to get whichever Pokémon you would like from your deck with Ultra Ball.

Two Battle Compressor

In a deck that plays four Exeggcute, it is absolutely vital to play Battle Compressor to discard those important cards! In this deck, you will also be looking for important Supporter cards throughout the game to discard with Battle Compressor only to get them back with a VS Seeker.

Two Choice Band

As I have already written in the Zoroark-GX and Sky Field section, Choice Band helps this deck achieve the magic number of 210 damage to OHKO opposing Zoroark-GX. If you skipped over pets of this article, let it be known that Zoroark-GX is the most dominant deck in Expanded right now so it is reassuring to be able to OHKO that Pokemon at any cost.

Two Field Blower

With Igor Costa winning the 2018 Costa Mesa, California Regional Championships with a Deck based around Garbodor with Garbotoxin, Field Blower can be used an effective answer to that deck. The second copy of Field Blower helps out with occasional Prize Card issues, such as when a copy of Field Blower is Prized, and it can help you take away any lingering Pokémon Tool Cards such as Fighting Fury Belt. Furthermore, as Zoroark-GX continues to do well at many Regional Championships, more players will try concepts that counter Zoroark-GX by playing cards such as Parallel City. Fortunately, Field Blower can take care of these cards with relative ease which leads it to being a well-rounded utility card in the deck.

Two Float Stone

This card allows you to start with other utility Pokémon such as Tapu Lele-GX and still have a fighting chance to promote a Zoroark-GX on the second turn of the game. With this deck not having any Pokémon with a natural free Retreat, it is often useful to pick a Pokémon to slap a Float Stone on. In most cases, you will use this Pokémon for free Retreat every single time one of Pokémon is Knocked Out. The count of two Float Stone also alleviates some stress when playing Guzma to target an opposing Pokémon.

Two Red Card

Ok, while this card is almost at the end of the deck list, that is by no means a disrespect for this very important card. In the current state of Expanded, Red Card is one of the only ways to disrupt your opponents hand when they are playing Zoroark-GX themselves. The coveted combination of Hex Maniac + Red Card can often be enough to shut most deck decks down, but it can be especially crippling when you do Riotous Beating for 210 damage to OHKO their Active Pokemon. Furthermore, Red Card can be retrieved back by Puzzle of Time to be used an upwards of four more times per game. When playing Red Card, it is important to watch your opponent, check for their emotions, and read their situation because we can use all of these factors to determine if playing the Red Card is ideal.

One Pokemon Communication

In this deck, it is vital to avoid discarding cards, which means it is ideal to look at different concepts. With Trade, Computer Search, and Ultra Ball trying to discards your cards, Pokemon Communication seems like a breath of fresh air. That being said, Pokemon Communication searches out a Pokemon, albeit at the price of Pokemon going back into your deck), but we can easily get around this by using Propagation if absolutely necessary.

One Rescue Stretcher

In this Zoroark-GX deck, there are plenty of important cards that you may want to get back at some point. Imagine yourself in a situation where your opponent just Knocked Out your Zoroark-GX - Rescue Stretcher can get that card back right away to swing right back into the action! With the way that Riotous Beating works, sometimes you can run out of Benched Pokemon because they aren't available in the deck. Therefore, you can use Rescue Stretcher to get three Pokemon back into your deck to do more damage with Riotous Beating.

Four Double Colorless Energy

While I normally omit my card explanations on Energy Cards, Double Colorless Energy in this deck is a precious commodity. Between Trade, Computer Search, and Ultra Ball - make sure that you value keeping the only Energy you have in your deck. It is possible to get back Double Colorless Energy with Puzzle of Time, so that is another option too.

Best of Luck in Stuttgart

Well, that’s it for today 60 Cards readers! I know this article can seem a bit pointless due to less players attending Stuttgart, Germany Regionals than other Regionals, but I do want to be clear that I am always trying to provide the best content for EVERYONE. If you are not attending Stuttgart Regionals, this article can be viewed as a recap before we dive into the 2018 Salt Lake City, Utah Regionals that will also be in the Expanded format. Furthermore, I do know there are always a handful of Expanded League Cups each quarter, so this article may be more handy than originally thought. Unfortunately, my next major tournament won’t be until the 2018 Latin American International Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil so be prepared for some cool Standard format articles before that event.

Until then, I will be playing in local League Cups in the Greater Toronto Area so feel free to chat with me at any time. I always enjoy talking to new players, people from around the world, and aspiring Pokemon trainers! For updates on my travel plans, tournament schedule, premium deck lists, strategies, and my most recent articles, feel free to check out and follow my professional Pokemon Twitter @ zlesage_pokemon. Also, remember to give this article a ‘like’ to let me know what you thought of this article - it gives me the motivation needed to write! Thanks for supporting 60 Cards, reading my articles, and watching me grow as a player!


Until next time,
Zach

[+20] okko


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