Experts' corner

Frank Percic

Ribboning in Roanoke: a Quick Guide to Sylveon in Expanded

Check out Forbidden Light's newest addition to Sylveon GX. Shocker: it isn't Diantha

05/25/2018 by Frank Percic

Hello again 60 cards readers, and sorry for the long delay. Recently I have just finished my 4th year of college, forcing a big slow down in my Pokémon career. However, now that the school year is over, I’ll be able to put all my time and energy in to the Pokémon Trading Card Game. With the Blue Ridge Regional Pokémon Championships just a few days away in Roanoke, Virginia, the expanded format is on everyone’s mind. Not only this, but the newest set, Forbidden Light, is available for the first time in both a major American tournament, as well as in the expanded format. In this article I am exploring a few ideas.

Firstly, I want to talk more about my recent 9th place finish from the last expanded regional of this season in Utah, as I believe it will give some insights as to what is to come this weekend in Roanoke. Next, I will be looking towards the next Regionals in Roanoke, VA and explaining the matchups that I expect Sylveon to have there. 

Salt Lake City Tournament Report

So, to start us off I would like to recap my heartbreaking finish at the Salt Lake City Regional championships last month. After starting my tournament with a record of 0 wins, 0 losses, and 2 ties, with Sylveon GX (GRI; 92) , I thought the only way I could succeed was to win five of my next seven rounds, allowing for two more ties. However, I somehow finished the day with a record of 6-1-2, putting me in a great position for the second day of the tournament. My deck and rounds were that of the following:

R1: Zoro/Eggs - WLT
R2: Lonzoro - LWT
R3: Drampa/Garb - WW
R4: Koko Spread - WW
R5: Donphan - WW
R6: Zoro/Eggs - LL
R7: Zoro/Eggs - WW
R8: Drampa/Garb - WW
R9: Zoro/Eggs - WW

The first thing about the deck that really surprised me was the fact that the Zoroark matchup was much more difficult than I expected. The reason I initially played the deck was because I had thought Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)  easily beat Zoro/Eggs. However, the combination of both red card and Ghetsis seemed to hinder the deck a lot. After tying my first 2 rounds to Zoroark decks, I figured that my tournament would soon be over. However, after some long though and some advice from my new friend, Max Finch, I was able to navigate the matchup a lot better. As you can see from my list below, the inclusion of 2 Acerola (BUS; 112)  made a huge difference. Aside from that, the rest of the matchups I hit were extremely favorable, but we will go over that later in the article.

On the second day of the tournament I was not as fortunate matchup wise. It went as such.

R10: Greninja - LL
R11: Trevenant - LWL
R12: Zoro/Eggs - WW
R13: Fighting Box - WW
R14: Gardevoir - WW

So, from what I've determined this far, the deck has 3 poor matchups in expanded. Those would be Greninja, Trevenant (with Espeon-EX,) and Gardevoir. I was not pleased to have to face all 3 of these decks during my tournament run at all. The first game against Greninja started to go well, as I was able to play Team Rocket’s Handiwork early on and mill away a Staryu. I slowly began running my opponent out of energy, but some well-timed Ns and a Super Rod allowed for a speedy comeback. During the second game I attempted to just continually attack. This was a horrible idea, as it allowed for Ace Trainer to come in to effect. I lost much more severely that game.

Against Trevenant, I was able to take the second game by using Lysandre to pull up a Jirachi and pleading away both Trevenant. This, followed by an N, allowed me to take all of my prizes and win. I could not to this in the third game however as my opponent never missed an N, nor did he bench anything for me to Lysandre up. This unfortunately caused me to lose, as I was donked in the first game after missing an energy.

Lastly, I really lucked out against Gardevoir. This is supposedly the deck’s worst matchup. However, in the first game I was able to donk a Tapu Lele-GX, and in the second game I hit 5 Crushing Hammer heads, as well as multiple heads on Team Rocket’s Handiwork, all after getting rid of two DCE with Team Skull Grunt on the first turn. I felt such a rush after winning this game and hoped to take Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)  to a beautifully positioned top 8. However, 2% separated me from the 8th seed of the tournament. Making me the only player with 29 match points not to advance in the tournament. Though this felt bad, I was still proud to take a deck everyone told me was bad to such a respectable finish.

Looking forward to Roanoke Regionals

Continuing on, I hope to once again pilot this deck at the 2018 Blue Ridge Championships this weekend in Roanoke, Virginia. However, I have now made a few changes to the deck that I hope will give me and edge in the tournament. See the following list:

As of now, this is what I am prepared to bring to the tournament. As you can see the card that really makes this deck differ is the Lysandre Prism Star card. When looking at some of the problems the deck has, I found this card, in combination with Flareon AOR, to fix a few things. Not only is Flareon a great tech card, as it evolves from Eevee, but it is also searchable with level ball. Firstly, it allows for you to remove ghetsis from play against Zoroark decks. This is huge as it is their only way to beat you. Your opponent not being able able to use VS Seeker (PHF; 109)  to get this card back is absolutely crushing. Secondly, it allows for you to remove from play energy against Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93)  decks. Normally you will be able to go toe to toe with Gardevoir until they use Twilight GX and get back all their energy. Using Lysandre Prism before this happens can, in theory help swing this matchup closer to 50/50. The same goes for Greninja decks. The last big use for this card is against Night March by using Lysandre Prism, you can In theory remove enough Night Marchers from the discard to where your opponent will never be able to knock you out in one hit. Easily securing this matchup for you. However, this is a lot easier said than done as you will need to have enough Pokemon in play before using the card. You may also have noticed I decided to add a Hex Maniac (ANO; 75)  to the deck. This is because of any random Malamar shenanigans that may go on. Disclaimer: I think that Malamar is a very bad card in expanded due to the existence of Hex Maniac. However, something tells me that it will still be played. So I included Hex Maniac just in case. Not only this, but Hex is just a good card to have in order to slow down your opponent. The Flareon engine is something I have considered getting rid of as it becomes fairly difficult to execute at times. However, this is the list I'm sticking with for now. With that being said, let's go over some matchups.

Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  - 75/25: This is a deck expected to see a very large spike in play due to the release of multiple support cards within Forbidden Light. Beast Ring, Diancie* and Beast Energy all push the deck to new heights. Luckily for Sylveon GX (GRI; 92) , this matchup is very positive. Constant energy denial through Hammers, Skull Grunt and Flare Grunt, allows the desk to always survive an attack from the onslaught of fighting Pokemon on our opponents’ side of the field. Even with Jet Punch being able to do up to 110 Damage, the constant healing and energy denial will always prevail. Another plus for our fairy friends is that beast ring is virtually a dead card in this deck now, Making Max Elixir the only chance our opponent has for a Knockout. Even so, the odds that three Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)  are knocked out is very slim, especially with a possible 250 HP due to Bodybuilding Dumbbells. Even if one Sylveon is to go down, a counter catcher followed by Plea GX play as a response basically seals the game by sending all energy back to the opponent's hand.
IMPORTANT CARDS: DCE, Bodybuilding Dumbbells, Crushing Hammer

Zoroark/Eggs - 55/45: With the Lysandre* in the deck, this matchup becomes slightly favored, as ghetsis is the only way the deck can really beat you. Without the Lysandre* the matchup is slightly unfavorable but still winnable. As you can see from my tournament report, I went a total of 3-1-2 against Zoroark decks. The combination of Red Card and Ghetsis is absolutely crushing to your deck. Not only this, but Exeggutor’s blockade attack sets up a perfect knockout for you opponent the following turn. The strategy against this deck is to first get out all of your Eevee while also maintaining healing through the form of Acerola (BUS; 112) . As your opponent will attempt to Ghetsis every turn. Once a solid board is established, grabbing your flareon and Lysandre* to remove Ghetsis from play should seal the game. Some other targets you may also want to grab are: N, Redcard, and Exeggcute. From there just continually heal and remove energy until your opponent can no longer attack. From there, just mill them out of cards and win the game.

IMPORTANT CARDS: Lysandre*, Flareon, Acerola, Skull Grunt, Parallel City

Trevenant BREAK (BKP; 66)  - 30/70 (with Espeon EX (BKP; 52) ), 80/20 (Without Espeon EX): This deck can either be extremely easy or extremely hard to beat depending on if they play Espeon EX. Without Espeon EX you will easily win the game by cycling Acerola (BUS; 112)  and Lusamine. Plea is also very good in this matchup, as using Plea GX to remove all Trevenants from play, and then using N the following turn can easily swing the game in your favor. Also, playing Hex Maniac (ANO; 75)  is very strong as it allows you to use all of your hammers and max potions at will, and can be retrieved with a VS Seeker (PHF; 109)  before ending the turn. Attacking at the right time is also very strong as you can OHKO a Trevenant before it evolves to a Trevenant Break. Lastly, removing the stadium along with any energy is very good as well, for it can keep your opponent from attacking for quite some time. If your opponent does play the Espeon EX, it is important to stagger your Sylveon GX (GRI; 92) ’s in play. What I mean by this is that by playing an Eevee down once every turn, rather than all at the same time, you will never have fatal damage on all of your Eevee at the same time. Making an Espeon EX play from your opponent non-lethal. Just rid your opponent of all their energy and then mill. The fastest way to do this is by Lysandring up something useless and making your opponent waste energy in retreating, while also removing energy off their attackers intermittently, while Skull Grunt removes all of the energy from their hand.

IMPORTANT CARDS: Acerola (BUS; 112) , Hex Maniac (ANO; 75) , Lysandre

Night March - 50/50: This matchup will ultimately come down to how well your opponent can draw. Attaching Bodybuilding Dumbbells and chaining Hex Maniac (ANO; 75)  is what you will want to do early on until you are ready to use Lysandre*. Removing from play four Night Marchers will make it impossible for the deck to OHKO you as its max damage output with Marshadow-GX becomes 190 with a Choice Band attached. Even removing three is fine, as they will now need a Marshadow with a choice band to KO you, as well as all Night Marchers in the discard. This will be difficult for them as they more than likely will have benched one already. Your opponent may try to set up a KO with Shaymin-EX. However, by just healing any damage and getting rid of any energy, you should win fairly easily after playing Lysandre*. The trickiest part is having your Pokémon survive long enough to set up this play. The best way to do this is to, as I mentioned earlier, attach Bodybuilding Dumbbells and chain Hex Maniac.

Important Cards: Bodybuilding Dumbbells, Lysandre*, Flareon, Hex Maniac (ANO; 75) , Skull Grunt

Drampa GX (GRI; 115) /Garbodor - 90/10: This is easily your best matchup. The onslaught of energy denial that your deck provides will ensure your opponent can never do more than a 60-damage Energy Drive. On top of that, any threat proposed by Trashalanche can be swiftly dealt with by combining your Fairy Wind attack with muscle band. That being said, I would suggest not discarding more than 8 items until you've removed any option of an opposing Trashalance.

IMPORTANT CARDS: Muscle Band (XY; 121)Double Colorless Energy (SUM; 136)

Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93)  - 20/80: This and Greninja are probably your two worst matchups. A lot of luck is involved in winning this match. Your best bet is to stall a Pokémon, like Oranguru, in the active position, while simultaneously removing your opponent’s Tropical Beach. This strategy combined with constant energy denial will hopefully allow you to remove enough energy to survive any Infinite Force attacks from your opponent. There are two key plays you also have available on your back pocket. Firstly, a well-timed Plea GX on all of your opponent’s Gardevoir-GX can really slow down your opponent enough to further mill all their energy. A second very important play you have available is Lysandre*. Your opponent will ultimately try to use their Twilight GX attack to put back all the energy you've worked so hard to remove. You can minimize the effects of this by Using Lysandre* to remove from play all their Double Colorless Energy. In doing this your opponent will now need every one of their remaining energy attached to KO your Sylveon GX (GRI; 92) . This is virtually impossible as you'll be removing most of it after it is attached. This play, however, is much easier said than done. The best way to remove energy early on and ultimately reach this state in the game is to not only trap pokemon in the active and replace any Tropical Beach with Parallel city, but also Skull Grunt every turn you can. Early game plays should be focused entirely on energy removal until your opponent can attack. Once again, this is very difficult, but this matchup is still winnable.


With that, I feel like most of the important matchups have been covered. The previously mentioned decks should comprise most of the metagame within Roanoke this weekend. However, I will take a few sentences to briefly review some random decks. Wailord should easily be won by milling them faster than they can mill you. Durant should also be won easily by using Skull Grunt every turn paired with a KO on the active Durant. Having a Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)  with 3 fairy energy powered up will make this very easy to pull off. Against Donphan you will most likely win if they do not start Wobbuffet and prevent you from using energy evolution all game. Once you get a sylveon in to play they will never be able to KO you and you will deny all of their energy before they can win. Greninja is not a fun time. That being said, the strategy in this match is not to KO any Pokemon, as this will activate Ace Trainer and put you back far too much to succeed. Your best bet is to skull Grunt every turn while using hammers for any energy on your opponent's board. Getting rid of Starmi or Staryu early on is huge, as Space Beacon will allow your opponent to eventually win. Using Lysandre* to remove it from play and not be put back in the deck with Super Rod is honestly the only chance Sylveon has of winning. For any other decks just use your best judgement. There are a plethora of decks in expanded, yet Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)  has the ability to combat anything. Just pick your cards with Magical Ribbon strategically and anticipate what your opponent will do in the turn after you Magical Ribbon.

Thanks for reading everyone and hope you enjoyed a quick peek at Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)  in the expanded format. The deck is very fun to play, but requires a lot of time and experience to pilot. This should really only be played after lots of practice and understanding of the deck. Good luck trainers and see you next time!!

[+21] okko


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