Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Expanded Crash Course Part One

This article details the Expanded format as Zach Lesage combs the the depths to learn everything again!

10/23/2019 by Zach Lesage

The Water is Warm

What’s up 60 Cards readers? It’s ya boi Zach Lesage here, and the goal today is to dive head first into the Expanded metagame! For those of you who didn’t know, our North American Regional Championships are split between the Standard and Expanded formats. Looking even more closely, like less than two weeks away, we are sandwiched by Richmond and Portland. Both of those are major Expanded events! So regardless if you live on the East or West Coast, you have a nearby Expanded event to go to relatively soon. The question is, “where do we start?” The goal of this article is to identify the current Standard metagame as we rapidly approach Richmond Regionals. The only issue, we haven’t had a major Expanded event since May. To make things even more difficult, Unbroken Bonds, Unified Minds, Hidden Fates, and handfuls of Promo Cards have been released. I know it is daunting, but let me make it a little easier - let’s revisit Hartford Regionals. And away we go...

First Stop: Hartford!

I hate to say it, but this event was a weird one for me! Let me adjust that a bit. The event was completely fine and exceptional organized by Top Cut Events. I remember being so exhausted coming back from the European International Championships in Berlin earlier that week and putting my mind on auto play mode. With the Expanded portion of the 2018/2019 season being difficult for me to grasp, I was extremely happy to find success with my Hitmonchan (TM; 74)  / Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)  deck. I took it to a few Expanded Cups, saw some success. I had a win-and-in to make Top Eight at Toronto Regionals and I couldn’t think of another deck that I would want to play. I piloted HitmonWobb all the way to a 7-1-1 finish Day One at Hartford only to get hit with a 0-5 finish Day Two. I have never had that happen before, but I think it has helped me get hungry for more! If I rarely fail with a deck, similar to how Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  carried me last season, I don’t tend to explore too many other deck options. I am fully confident in myself as one of the best deck builders, players, and theoretical minds in the game - my biggest issue is the way I pick decks. After having a talk with my good friend Daniel Altavilla, I felt inspired to become a much better player. He gave me some super solid advice and I can’t thank him enough for breathing passion into me and giving me the will to fight forward. I guess you wanna know what he told me right? Lemme spill the beans real quick...

He basically told me that I needed to find confidence somewhere in a deck and that confidence will carry you as a player. Fully realizing this, I can look at periods of time where I did well at an event, like the 2018 Mexico City SPE, and that carried me into becoming the 2019 Collinsville Regional Championships. When you play with confidence, you make better plays, better choices, and you are willing to tackle anything in your path. Knowing that Altavilla and I have both struggled with our confidence in the past, I asked him where does he currently gain his confidence from. He told me it comes down to his spreadsheet that he has created with his testing partners. Thinking about it, I realized that my mentality always has been that numbers don’t lie. I don’t particularly go out there and scream it to the masses, but I do struggle with my mental health at times. With all of my travelling around, I haven’t made an effort to get help and it is something that I have been battling for the better part of my life. When it comes to looking at numbers, it soothes me when I can actually see if something adds up instead of using a combination of paranoia, anxiety, and sleep deprivation to find my answers. That being said, I am set on using a spreadsheet going forward! I want to see if it will bring me the success I want! But where do we being? 

If you have guessed by the title, the first stop is gonna be Hartford Regionals! That is the last time a major Expanded event happened and should be the first place to look for clues as we try to find the underlying metagame of Richmond. I simply used some of the tools available on Limitless to determine the last known Expanded metagame. The only rule that I am applying is that I won’t include any deck that has contributed to less than a rounded two percent of the metagame. Here is what the metagame looked like for Black and White - Team Up.

Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Garbodor (GRI; 51)
Trevenant (XY; 55)
Blastoise (BC; 31)  /  Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124)
Hitmonchan (TM; 74)  /  Wobbuffet (PHF; 36)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20)
Rayquaza GX (CLS; 109)
Stoutland (BC; 122)  / Raichu (BUS; 41)  /  Tropical Beach 11 (BW; 28)
Joltik (PHF; 26)  / Lampent (PHF; 42)  /  Pumpkaboo (PHF; 44)
Drampa GX (GRI; 115)  /  Garbodor (GRI; 51)
Celebi & Venusaur GX (TM; 1)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Oranguru (UPR; 114)
Sableye (DE; 62)  /  Garbodor (BKP; 57)
Lucario GX (BW; 100)
Alolan Exeggutor (TM; 114)

That is a pretty hefty list to look over, but it gets even scarier when we need to look at all of the cards that have come out since Team Up. That was Eight months ago! The next section should attempt to bring us all back on the same page! 

Eight Months of Offerings

Beyond a few events at the 2019 Origins Game Fair and other local events held around the world, Expanded hasn’t seen a metagame change in eight months. Like, there have been changes, but we haven’t had a different metagame since Team Up first released. The goal of this section is to showcase the cards that we have received since then and if they are possibly viable in Expanded:

Unbroken Bonds

Unified Minds

Hidden Fates

Sun & Moon Promos

The above sets are linked so you can quickly jump to the set that you are most excited to learn about.

Unbroken Bonds

The most playable cards: Dedenne GX (UBO; 57) , Mismagius (UBO; 78) , Greninja & Zoroark GX (UBO; 207) , Honchkrow GX (UBO; 109) , Spiritomb (UBO; 112) , Gardevoir & Sylveon GX (UBO; 205) , Chip-Chip Ice Axe (UBO; 165) , Dusk Stone (UBO; 167) , Electromagnetic Radar (UBO; 230) , Lt. Surge's Strategy (UBO; 178) , Power Plant (UBO; 183) , Stealthy Hood (UBO; 186) , Welder (UBO; 189) , and Tripple Acceleration Energy (UBO; 190) .


Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX (UBO; 192)

While Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX (UBO; 192)  may or may not see play in Expanded, this card is at the very least interesting with Beast Game GX. This card has seen play in Standard in Quagsire (DM; 26)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  decks and Spiritomb (UBO; 112)  decks so I could see this working in Expanded too. Maybe it could work in HitmonWobb? Only testing will tell, but this card seems interesting at the very least. 


Gloom (UBO; 7)

I don’t want to dwell on Gloom (UBO; 7)  too long because there are already enough cards to cover, this card seems particularly strong in a Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor GX (UB; 215)  based Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71)  deck. Snatching a Dedenne GX (UBO; 57)  or Shaymin EX (ROS; 77)  can be gamebreaking at times


Kartana (UBO; 19)

Kartana (UBO; 19)  looks like it is another tech in Spiritomb (UBO; 112)  or HitmonWobb decks! 


Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)

Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  is played so much in the Standard format that I can only imagine that it has to see play in the Expanded format somehow. Between Welder (UBO; 189) , Expanded Fire-type support, and being a fan favorite - this deck looks like it could be an option. The biggest thing holding it back is the popularity of ArchieStoise! I would likely stay away from this deck for now.


Blacephalon (UBO; 32)

While I was writing this piece, I almost opted to not mention this card at all, but my better judgement has pulled ahead on me. Blacephalon (UBO; 32)  is an interesting deck in Expanded with the  support of Welder (UBO; 189)  / Blacksmith (FLF; 88) , but it seems to lose to pesky disruption decks. I would keep this one put aside until the ban list comes into play after Portland.


Stunfisk (UBO; 56)

I could totally see Stunfisk (UBO; 56)  / Spiritomb (UBO; 112)  seeing play in Expanded with Mew (FCO; 29)  and Team Magma's Secret Base (DCR; 32) ! It would easily lose to Espeon & Deoxys GX (UB; 72) , but it does seem like it could hold it’s own against some other Tag Team decks.


Dedenne GX (UBO; 57)

Dedenne GX (UBO; 57)  plays out like a yellow version of Shaymin EX (ROS; 77) . It joins the ranks of Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) , Marshadow (SLG; 45) , and others as our consistency Pokémon.


Weezing (UBO; 74)

Similar to other concepts, Weezing (UBO; 74)  seems like it might struggle against the new found love of Bronzong (FCO; 61)  as a counter to the projected spread damage in Richmond. 


Mismagius (UBO; 78)

Dusk Stone (UBO; 167) , Misdreavus (UBO; 77) , Mismagius (UBO; 78) , Mysterious Message, Reset Stamp (UB; 206) , Lt. Surge's Strategy (UBO; 178) , Mars (UPR; 128) , Mars (UPR; 128) , Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71) , Honchkrow GX (UBO; 109) , good bye hand.


Marshadow (SLG; 45)

I’m slightly nervous about including this card on the list, but I feel like Marshadow (SLG; 45)  can be a great way to take care of a Stadium card in some cases. 


Hitmontop (UBO; 101)

HitmonWobb finally gets Hitmontop (UBO; 101)  to hit every Pokémon in play. I don’t necessarily think it is going to be super powerful, but it is a nice option for that deck.


Greninja & Zoroark GX (UBO; 207)

Greninja & Zoroark GX (UBO; 207)  is the only reason why Dark-based decks (that aren't  Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  or Sableye (DE; 62)  related) are coming back for Richmond. Similar to Rayquaza GX (CLS; 109) , these are just the future iterations of big Basic attacking decks. 


Honchkrow GX (UBO; 109)

Honchkrow GX (UBO; 109)  is played to destroy your opponent’s hand with Unfair GX. This card will be played in a bunch of MewMew decks.


Spiritomb (UBO; 112)

I have mentioned the ‘Tomb a few times in this article and it seems to fit in as a stand-alone deck going forward. I’m not sure if it will replace something like Hitmonchan (TM; 74) , but it could be really interesting. The options in the list seem relatively endless so feel free to experiment with it as necessary. 


Gardevoir & Sylveon GX (UBO; 205)

Gardevoir & Sylveon GX (UBO; 205)  has been a solid deck in Standard, but it seems to be a strong option in Expanded because of the extra cards it can play with. Aromatisse (XY; 93) , Max Potion (GRI; 128) , and more all come to mind! 


Chip-Chip Ice Axe (UBO; 165)

I am so glad that this card is getting banned after Portland! Chip-Chip Ice Axe (UBO; 165)  is the annoying part of lock decks that controls your top decks. With ‘Guru getting them back each turn, this card has been a nuisance in Standard and looks to provide the same in Expanded.


Dusk Stone (UBO; 167)

Dusk Stone (UBO; 167)  is merely a combo card with Mismagius (UBO; 78) .


Electromagnetic Radar (UBO; 230)

This card works really nicely with Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) . Electromagnetic Radar (UBO; 230) r makes PikaRom look more similar to its Standard counterpart. 


Fairy Charm L (UBO; 172)  /  Fairy Charm Ability (UBO; 171)

Both of these cards provide GardEon with options. 


Fire Crystal (UBO; 173)

I’m not sure if there is a better Expanded Fire-type card for getting back Energy, but Fire Crystal (UBO; 173)  looks like a compelling option.


Lt. Surge's Strategy (UBO; 178)

Surge is a busted broken filthy combo card.


Martial Arts Dojo (UBO; 179)

If you are playing HitmonWobb, I highly recommend that you give Martial Arts Dojo (UBO; 179)  a chance in your deck.


Power Plant (UBO; 183)

Plant seems like a different Silent Lab. It will see some amount of play. 


Stealthy Hood (UBO; 186)

This card is so simply, but it allows you to get around Abilities. Simply slip a Stealthy Hood (UBO; 186)  onto one of your Pokémon and become protected against Garbodor (DR; 54)  There are other uses too, but Garbodor (BKP; 57)  might be the biggest one! 


Welder (UBO; 189)

This card is the Standard version of Double Colorless Energy, it is insano support for any deck that plays Fire Energy. 


Tripple Acceleration Energy (UBO; 190)

Since Double Colorless Energy (SLG; 69)  is so busted, I could totally imagine that there has to be other options that you can use for a Tripple Acceleration Energy (UBO; 190) . Raticate (BC; 105)  comes to mind! 


Unified Minds

The most playable cards: Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor GX (UB; 1) , Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71) , Cherish Ball (UB; 191)Reset Stamp (UB; 206)


Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor GX (UB; 1)

This card just screams Vileplume (ANO; 3)  or maybe even Decidueye (SUM; 11) !


Heatran GX (UB; 25)

Moving Fire Energy (TM; null)  to a Pokémon yo swing for a lot of damage has always been a compelling strategy! Combining this card with Kiawe (BUS; 116) , Welder (UBO; 189) , and / or Volcanion EX (STS; 26)  could be interesting.


Chandelure (UB; 30)

If you can get past the being difficult to setup part of this deck, I could foresee this deck being a wild pick. I don’t think it can get past hand-lock decks, but it surely seems fun due to all of the option available since 2011...


Raichu & Alolan Raichu GX (UB; 221)

PikaRom basically earned a new tech card!


Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71)

This card has seemingly created a handful of new archetypes. Considering it is dominant in the Standard format, I’m sure it will gain some new EX card techs from over the years. M Gardevoir EX (STS; 79) , M Rayquaza EX (ROS; 76) , and Jolteon EX (GEN; 28)  come to mind!


Espeon & Deoxys GX (UB; 72)

Beyond being a genuinely powerful card overall, this card works with any Energy accelerator ever. Archie's Ace in the Hole (PRC; 124) , Blastoise (BC; 31) , Deluge, Cross Division GX for 200 damage turn one! 


Jynx (UB; 76)

Ominous Posture is interesting and it could be a nifty partner for either Spiritomb (UBO; 112)  or Stunfisk (UBO; 56) .


Latios GX (UB; 78)

Stopping GX attacks might be interesting, but Expanded seems like it can deal with Clear Vision GX better than Standard. 


Jirachi GX (UB; 79)

Mew2Mew is weak to Psychic-type so this card becomes more of a staple overall.


Aerodactyl GX (UB; 106)

With ZoroNinja and PikaRom sharing the same Fighting-type Weakness, I could see this card popping up where it’s needed!


Umbreon & Darkrai GX (UB; 125)

I originally tried this in my turbo ZoroNinja deck, but it never worked. The best way to incorporate this Pokémon is into a Weavile GX (UB; 132)  deck with other powerful tech cards.


MegaSableye & Tiranitar GX (UB; 226)

Read above.


Weavile GX (UB; 132)

Read Above.


Hoopa (UB; 140)

Aren’t you glad I didn’t write “read above”? Joking aside, this seems like a strong single Prize Card attacker in general. Darkness-type Weakness isn’t overly popular, but this card would be much better if it ever comes back. 


Mawile GX (UB; 141)

I could see Captivating Wink working nicely with Honchkrow GX (UBO; 109)  based hand lock decks!


Garchomp & Giratina GX (UB; 146)

There is a deck floating around Japan that recently got banned because it was overpowered. This card participated in that deck by utilizing its attack to Bench out your opponent early. 


Naganadel GX (UB; 160)

Similar to Standard, this card has found a home in Mew2Mew decks.


Slakoth (UB; 167)

This card is merely here for a placeholder. I could see Lazy Howl working in a lock deck someday, but we need a few more cards at the moment to make it work.


Cherish Ball (UB; 191)

General addition to the specific cheap search card section.


Giant Hearth (UB; 197)

Even though Fire-type decks are vastly unpopular right now, I could see a Mew2Mew variant popping up in Richmond. 


Great Potion (UB; 198)

Another option for healing in Expanded.


Karate Belt (UB; 201)

A new way to faux accelerate Energy.


Reset Stamp (UB; 206)

It’s like N-supporter (NVI; 92) , but it’s an Item Card. I was truly hoping that this card would get banned before Richmond. 


Stadium Nav (UB; 208)

This card functions the same way that it does in Standard - if you play Thunder Mountain Prism Star (LT; 191)  in your deck, you are likely playing Stadium Nav (UB; 208) .


Tag Switch (UB; 209)

It is an interesting addition to Expanded, but I haven’t seen it receiving too much play. Again, I would probably look more towards a PikaRom style deck instead of inventing something entirely new. 


Hidden Fates

The most playable cards: Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX


Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX

This card seems like it would be an interesting addition in Mew2Mew decks because Shaymin-EX exists in the Standard format. 


Considering that this was mainly a reprint set, it doesn’t surprise me that this set doesn’t add much  into Expanded.


Sun & Moon Promos

The most playable cards: Alolan Marowak-GX


Alolan Marowak-GX

This card is an interesting tech in Mew2Mew because Lost Boomerang GX can Knock Out two low HP Pokémon in a pinch.



Similar to most Stage Two GX Pokémon in the game, they end up becoming fodder for Mew2Mew. Mist Slash allows you to get through effects, which might become a welcome addition at some point.


Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX

Between Night Watch and Pale Moon GX, this card seems kinda spooky. I’m not sure if it needs more support in Expanded to become good or if it is already very good. Only time will tell.


Richmond Approaches

I hope that this article has brought you up to speed on the cards that were added to our Expanded metagame. I will be writing part two of this article and that will showcase the updated metagame heading into Richmond. After I complete that article, I will hand pick a few of my top decks in Expanded and share the results of my tested lists. As for me, I am going to be on a bit of an adventure as of November. I am travelling to Richmond, Portland, São Paulo, and then Daytona Beach later in the month. I am currently at 365 CP and my goal is to earn a stipend to attend the Oceania International Championships. I have been putting in a bunch of effort lately to improve as a player and I truly hope it pays off. If you are looking to follow me on my adventure, here are the links to my Social Media / sponsors:


PTCGOStore: use code zlesage5 to save 5% off your order

TCEvolutions: use code zach10 to save 10% off your order


Facebook: Zach Lesage

Twitter: zlesagepokemon

YouTube: RareCandyTCG


Reach out to me if you are interested in coaching or any other business opportunity. 


Let’s go have some fun,

Zach Lesage

[+25] okko


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