Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Hit and Run to Victory!

Zach goes over his updated HitmonWobb / P Groudon list heading into Dallas!

01/08/2020 by Zach Lesage

What’s up 60 Cards readers? It is me, Zach Lesage, and I am back with another helpful article for you as we approach another weekend of Expanded events. In this article, I want to explain my thought process on Hitmonchan (TM; 74)  / Wobbuffet (GEN; RC11)  and why it is still a force to be reckoned with in the Expanded format. I recently took this deck to a T128 finish at Richmond, Virginia Regionals and a T16 finish at Portland, Oregon Regionals and I have plenty of experience playing this deck. While my finishes haven’t been as strong as I would have liked, it is one of those events where the events were not destined to be mine, but it might go your way at the Dallas, Texas Regionals. I hope you enjoy reading this article and that you learn something new by the end of it. Enjoy!

Thought Process

The week of Richmond Regionals, I had almost finalized my spreadsheet of Expanded matchups to determine the best play. The spreadsheet is based on an evolving metagame, the expected percentage of play per deck, and my personal experience in individual matchups. That is when my friend Bryan Hunter brought Hitmonchan / Wobbuffet to my attention. Looking over the metagame, the decks that appeared to the top of my list were Greninja & Zoroark GX (UBO; 207) , Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71)  Box, and Hitmonchan / Wobbuffet. I was partially worried about Mewtwo getting countered at the event and I decided that most players were going to default to Turbo Dark. With that knowledge in mind, I wanted to pick a deck that could stand up to a large portion of the metagame and have some solid matchups across the board. It does help that I have previously piloted this deck to a win-and-in to a Top Eight at Toronto, Ontario Regionals and a 7-1-1 finish at Hartford, Connecticut Regionals. I chose my comfort pick because I understand this deck inside and out, I like it’s matchups, and it is a fun deck to play! 

I took all of my testing and took it back to the drawing board for Portland Regionals. I was seriously considering Turbo Dark, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. With Gardevoir & Sylveon GX (UBO; 205)  and Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor GX (UB; 1)  dominating Richmond, I needed to have an answer. My answer was brought up when my friend Connor Finton told me he was playing Primal Groudon EX (PRC; 86)  in Portland. It hit me really hard! Why don’t I play that card in Hitmonchan? I played Donphan (PS; 72)  / Primal Groudon to a few State Championship Top placements in 2015 and this deck was virtually the same deck! I added tech cards to beat RowEggs, GardEon, and I felt ready for Portland! Portland was a bittersweet success, but that is mainly because I lost my win-and-in to a Top Eight to Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) . After that, I was sold on the deck and felt it could be a viable choice going forward. With the ban list taking care of a bunch of toxic combos in a Expanded, HitmonWobb seems like it might just be a sleeper pick for Dallas.

The Deck

I’ll showcase the list that I have updated since Portland, I’ll explain the key strategy of the deck afterwards, and go over  some of the popular matchups in the metagame. 

Let's peep out the strategy!

The Strategy

The strategy of this deck is to use Hitmonchan to hide behind a Wobb to block your opponent from using Abilities. There are handfuls of modifiers such as Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) , Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) , Choice Band (GRI; 121) , and Strong Energy (FRF; 104)  to make sure that Hit and Run can do extra damage. Wobb and Power Plant both stop quite a few decks in the Metagame from being able to do much so you deck cans usually Hit-and-Run for a while. Primal Groudon is really used for decks that feature large amounts of CP, such as GardEon, because you have a tanky Pokémon that can hit for back to back Knock Outs. Your path to victory will be determined by your ability to change your strategy from a normal HitmonWobb deck or utilizing Primal Groudon in the right matchups. To keep some guess work away, the only matchups that I can see a Primal Groudon working in are against GardEon, EggRow, and Moltres & Articuno & Zapdos Tag Team GX (HFA; 44) . Considering there are plenty of decks in Expanded that focus on Abilities, have Fighting type Weakness, or fold to single Prize Card attackers, this deck is decently positioned. Let’s check out some of its matchups.

The Matchups

In this section of the article, I will be going over some of the more popular matchups in the Expanded format. These matchups are based off my in depth testing of this format and my real life tournament results.

Turbo Greninja & Zoroark-GX

This is instantly one of your more favourable matchups based on the glaring Fighting-type Weakness that most of the Pokémon in this deck share. Couple that with Wobb blocking Darkrai EX (DE; 63)  and Darkrai GX (BUS; 88) , and you have a solid matchup in the format. It sound simple, but use the typical Hit-and-Run strategy, stop them with Wobb, and use Buzz when they get to four Prize Cards. This match should be easy for you to take and is one of your most favourable matchups available.

Gardevoir & Sylveon-GX

This used to be one of the decks worst matchups, but Primal Groudon helps you jump back into a winning position. I sacrifice Pokémon, preferably Wobb to stop Aromatisse (XY; 93) , while building up Primal Groudon. Attach, pass, attach, pass... I build it up until I am able to Knock Out a GardEon and I make sure I have a Guru on Bench to anticipate my hand getting shuffled back with Magical Miracle GX. You want to stock pile as many damage modifiers on Primal Groudon, hold on to your Stadium Cards, and plan to take back to back Knock Outs! You might need to worry about a random Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)  tech so make sure you have access to Bent Spoon to stop that GX attack from working. As long as you don’t Prize a Primal Groudon piece, this matchup has been favourable for me so far.

Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX

This matchup goes the exact same as GardEon except you need to focus on attaching your Faba (LT; 173)  to Primal Groudon because it is weak to their Grass-type attackers. They will likely feed you a Power Plant at the beginning of the game which should be enough for you to swing for a massive attack with Primal Groudon. A key tip is to only attach Basic Energy to Groudon EX (PRC; 85)  until you turn it into a Primal Groudon. RowEggs does play a bunch of Faba (LT; 173)  which can set you back a turn or two. This matchup is favourable for you.

Zoroark-GX / Garbodor

This matchup is close, but I have experienced it as a slightly favourable matchup in my experience so far. You want to stop their Abilities with Wobb and Plant, attack their Fighting-type weak Pokémon, and use your tech cards as resourcefully as possible. I have won games with a well timed Buzz and I have also won games by sniping a Shaymin with Oricorio. You need to watch out for them using N during the late game and shutting off your Abilities with Garbotoxin. Additionally, they can do a lot of damage with Trashalanche and you likely will need to take care of it that turn. Pay attention for moments that you can take a huge swing turn and Knock Out a Zoroark out of nowhere. It doesn’t take much, sometimes it’s just a Buzz, so keep your eyes peeled.

Mewtwo & Mew-GX Box

I want to go in depth with this matchup, but I don’t think it’s worthwhile. This matchup is terrible because there isn’t a proper way to shut off Mewtwo’s Ability beyond Plant and you will be doing minimum damage at best. They can stop you from playing all of your Special Energy with Noivern and they can heal / discard their damaged Pokémon in a pinch. Unless your opponent has a really bad hand, this matchup is almost always going to be a loss. 

Ultra Necrozma / Garbodor

Similar to Mewtwo, this newcomer to the scene is able to demolish HitmonWobb because it is a very aggressive deck. They will continuously hit you for 170 damage for an OHKO, Wobb shuts off their hindering Ability, and you will struggle to OHKO most of their Pokémon. If they get a poor start, you might have a chance, but this is not a matchup that I feel confident in.

Random Matchups

Sometimes you will face against decks like Night March or Vespiquen and you will have Oricorio as an option to gain an advantage. Sometimes you will hit a PikaRom and your Buzzwole will allow you to Knock Out a Fighting-weak Tag Team in a pinch. Look over your options in each game, create a strategy, and try your best to strive for victory!

See Ya in Dallas 

I hope that you enjoyed this article and that it helps give you an option for Expanded! I am going to try and release a few more articles before Dallas; at least another Expanded deck article and something focusing on Standard. It should be a great week to read articles and I wish you the best of luck this weekend! As for me, I am currently at 747 CP and my goal is to get a stipend to attend EUIC in Berlin. 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:

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

Let’s go have some fun,

Zach Lesage 

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