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2015 Autumn Regionals: Week 3 Analysis

A complete breakdown of the results from Fort Wayne, San Jose, and Vancouver Regionals, with a look ahead to the future of Expanded.

11/15/2015 by Pikachu's Hideout

Cities are fast approaching and Regional Championships are on the horizon for a lot of players outside North America.  Since many of these events are going to be in the Expanded format, it will be valuable to take a look back at the results from Week 3 of North American Regionals, just like we did after Week 1 and Week 2. Week 3 ended up being the most exciting week of Regionals yet, featuring three different events across two countries, surprising finishes by unexpected decks, and the largest Regional Championship in Pokémon history.  Let's take a look.

Top 8 Statistics

As before, "Meta share" reflects the number of Top 8 placings each deck made while "Weighted meta share" assigns emphasis to each deck based on their final standings.

When the dust had settled in Fort Wayne, San Jose, and Vancouver, Seismitoad stood tall as the most successful deck of the weekend, making the Finals in all three events and winning San Jose outright, along with its old friends Manectric and Crobat.  Interestingly, although Seismitoad made the Finals of all three events, each event saw a different variant competing for the Championship.  This underlines one of the biggest strengths of Seismitoad.  It's a low-maintenance attacker and as such, can be run with a myriad of partners.  The Seismitoad/Laser package can easily be splashed into a number of different decks (both Yveltal decks also ran them) and a Quaking Punch coupled with a couple of lucky flips can be enough to win entire games.  Seismitoad was a solid presence throughout all three weekends of North American Regionals and it's clear that Seismitoad is a frontrunner in Expanded going forward.

Of course, it's no surprise that Vespiquen was a successful choice as well, considering how much buzz was surrounding the deck after Jimmy O'Brien's undefeated run in Lancaster.  Despite the target on its back, it was still able to secure four Top 8 placings across the three tournaments with several more in Top 32.  These finishes have more or less secured Vespiquen's place as the superior Battle Compressor deck.  Although it doesn't quite hit Night March's levels of explosiveness, it makes up for it with versatility and an abundance of non-EX attackers.  Whereas Night March often has to rely on Mew to get around needing a new DCE every turn, Night March can just drop a Flareon and a Blacksmith to keep the Prize trade in its favor.  The fact that Vespiquen hits Seismitoad for Weakness never hurts either.  The deck gets a couple new options in BREAKthrough, so expect to see more of it in upcoming events.

The big newcomer of the weekend was the Sableye/Garbodor mill deck that caught a lot of players off-guard.  By locking Abilities and reusing Energy-denying Trainers and Life Dew with Junk Hunt, the deck aimed to run the opponent out of resources and then deck them out with Bunnelby's Burrow.  Though the deck was on the fringes of people's radar's before, a lot of players dismissed it as too slow for a best-of-three environment. Three players managed to defy those expectations, taking the deck to the Top 8, including Nick Robinson, who finished in Third Place out of 490 Masters. It may not have been the most successful deck of the weekend, but it was certainly the breakout.

The other breakout deck was Tyrantrum/Giratina/Bronzong.  Using Bronzong and Double Dragon Energy, the deck quickly powers up either Giratina-EX to lock or Tyrantrum-EX to blow up threats and bypass effects with the G Booster-esque Despotic Fang Ability.  After taking people by surprise in Lancaster, it began catching on in Week 3, winning Vancouver and taking another Top 8 spot.  It seems to be gaining traction in both Standard and Expanded, so be sure to familiarize yourself with its workings.

And then there are the others. Yveltal may not have lived up to its Week 1 results, but it still managed to take down Fort Wayne, proving that it's just the deck that will never die. It's consistent, affordable, and dependable and doesn't really take any uncompromising autolosses, so it will definitely continue to see play.  San Jose saw an unexpected influx of Fighting with two Primal Groudon and two Donphan decks making Top 8.  Neither deck had any groundbreaking new innovations, which just proves that both are just solid decks that can make an impact with the right metagame.

Blastoise, Mega Manectric, Mega Rayquaza, and Night March are the fringe plays at the moment. Their relative lack of success in Week 3 is directly related to the decks that were successful. Hex Maniac proved to be a popular tech all three weekends of Regionals and its popularity (as well as Garbodor's Week 2 success) put a damper on Blastoise. Mega Manectric beats Yveltal but folds to Vespiquen and struggles against Giratina, both of which are on the rise.  Night March is still solid enough, but generally does the "aggro Battle Compressor" gimmick less effectively than Vespiquen and is softer to Seismitoad.

As for Mega Rayquaza...well, honestly, it's probably still an underrated play.  The turbo build that Zander Bennett pioneered is still quite strong.  It does struggle against Seismitoad variants with Hammers, as it can be very hard to rebuild without Mega Turbo, but it's also capable of stealing games off a well-timed Hex Maniac or Ghetsis and a turn-one Emerald Break.  It doesn't do well against Ghetsis, but it's still the kind of deck that can steal games from bad matchups just by setting up well and overrunning the opponent.  Despite its lone Top 8 showing in Week 3 (in fairness, it did make the Finals), it wouldn't be a bad deck to bring into an unknown metagame.

Results by Event

Here are the final standings from each event.

Fort Wayne Regionals

1.  Frank Diaz: Yveltal/Darkrai
2.  Matt Price: Seismitoad/Giratina
3.  Nick Robinson: Sableye/Bunnelby/Garbodor
4.  Ross Cawthon: Night March
5.  Dalen Dockery: Seismitoad/Giratina
6.  Drew Cate: Seismitoad/Giratina
7.  Ryan Sabelhaus: Vespiquen
8.  Simon Luong: Vespiquen

San Jose Regionals

1.  Mark Garcia: Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat
2.  Bodhi Tracy: Mega Rayquaza
3.  Marshall Cary: Blastoise
4.  Oscar Morales: Vespiquen
5.  Dallan Fell: Primal Groudon
6.  Joe Sanchez: Primal Groudon
7.  Chris Collins: Donphan
8.  Justin Poist: Donphan

Vancouver Regionals

1.  Jonathan Paranada: Tyrantrum/Giratina/Bronzong
2.  Hayden Cameron-Jacobs: Seismitoad/Genesect
3.  Alex Koch: Sableye/Bunnelby/Garbodor
4.  Joey Gaffney: Vespiquen
5.  Jeffrey Cheng: Sableye/Bunnelby/Garbodor
6.  Paul Johnston: Tyrantrum/Giratina/Bronzong
7.  Sorina Radu: Yveltal/Darkrai
8.  Kyle Thomas: Mega Manectric/Regice

Tier List

After three weeks of Regionals, this is the best approximation of the current deck tiers going forward.

Tier 1 (Expect to play against this deck multiple times)

Tier 2 (Expect to play against this deck at least once)
   -Mega Manectric

Tier 3 (Don't be surprised to play against this deck once or twice)
   -Night March
   -Primal Groudon
   -Mega Rayquaza

The inclusion of Seismitoad and Vespiquen in Tier 1 is no surprise, especially after Week 3 results.  Yveltal might seem a bit more dubious since it dropped off in success after Week 1, but it's a safe deck and it did win the largest Regional Championship in TCG history.  Don't count it out.

Tier 2 is a bit more tenuous.  There's no doubt that Tyrantrum-EX is a rising star in the game right now, and it's capable of dealing with all three of the Tier 1 decks with the help of Giratina, so it's likely to make a heavy impact in the future.  Mega Manectric's inclusion is a little more uncertain, but the deck is very popular in Standard and players could very well be drawn to it because of perceived positive matchups against Yveltal and Vespiquen.  That said, an increase in popularity for Tyrantrum/Giratina will certainly spell a decrease in Mega Manectric.  It's a bit hard to call this one for sure.

The rest are going to rely on the right metagame to succeed.  Certainly Donphan and Primal Groudon aren't fit for environments heavy on Seismitoad/Giratina, for instance. Blastoise and Night March struggle quite a bit against Hex Maniac, which doesn't appear to be going anywhere. However, Sableye could very well be popular in Expanded City Championships.  People often tend to be drawn to decks with alternate win conditions, if only for their novelty, and Sableye is more likely to succeed in events with thirty-minute single games than fifty-minute best-of-threes. That doesn't mean you should count it out in future Regionals, however. It's already proven it can hold its own, so acquaint yourself with the matchup.

Trends from Week 3

1.  Hex Maniac was more popular than ever, with almost every player in Top 8 running it (and three of the players who didn't were running Garbodor).  The card can put in so much work at the cost of just a single deck slot.  It's clear that Ability-lock is stronger than ever, and it's not going away anytime soon.

2.  Archeops has basically fallen off the radar since Week 1.  Even though Vespiquen is so popular now, it's unlikely to make a huge resurgence thanks to the prominence of Hex Maniac and the natural counters Vespiquen has to Archeops (Eevee FFI, for instance).

3.  The success of Vespiquen in Week 2 had a significant impact on Week 3. Giratina became more popular and Sableye/Garbodor (which has a very good Vespiquen matchup) emerged. It also created a non-EX arms race with Night March and other Vespiquen decks, with players opting for Life Dew as their ACE SPEC and teching an Enhanced Hammer.

4.  Town Map has proven to be a popular tech in Vespiquen and Night March decks, helping to free important attackers from the Prizes at key moments. This doesn't have a big impact on the upcoming metagame, but it's worth noting should you consider playing one of those decks.

Deck Profiles

This is the list that Frank Diaz used to win the Fort Wayne Regional Championship. Fun fact: it's the same sixty cards that he played to a Second Place finish in Lancaster the previous week, which means that this exact list made the Finals of the two largest Regional Championships in TCG history. There's nothing particularly unique to this list. It's pure, versatile, consistent Yveltal. Frank Diaz opted for two copies of Darkrai-EX, using it not just for its Dark Cloak, but also as an attacker. Night Spear is actually quite a good attack right now, dealing with Mega Manectric and Night March, in particular, quite efficiently, but it honestly shines in any matchup where it can't be OHKO'd easily. That 30 Bench snipe is still relevant, even four seasons after its debut.

Hoopa-EX has proven to be an all-star in EX-heavy decks like this. The Rush In/Dark Cloak combo gives the deck fantastic mobility and an easy answer to Lasers and both Keldeo-EX and Darkrai-EX can be searched with a single Scoundrel Ring, alongside an attacker or a Shaymin-EX, as the situation warrants. It's just an extra layer to the deck's consistency. Hoopa isn't even a legitimate Lysandre target since Keldeo is there to bail it out if it gets stuck Active.

The whole list is built for stability as well as reliability.  Rather than use a turbo engine with multiple Acro Bikes or Trainers' Mail, it runs a healthy count of draw Supporters, including three N, a card which players have been trimming down lately.  It also runs a safe two Shaymin-EX, giving the deck access to Set Up even if a copy is Prized, but not overcommitting to the Ability either.  Battle Compressor makes the tech Supporters more reliable and helps to set up Dark Patch and thin unnecessary cards from the deck (which, in turn, improves N).  The list also runs eight Darkness Energy.  Yveltal decks have gone as low as six lately, but eight is a very comfortable number, making it easier to discard copies with Ultra Ball and safer to devote one to Keldeo-EX to trigger Dark Cloak.

This list is nothing we haven't seen before, but that just showcases how viable Yveltal still is.

We examined Blastoise after Week 1, but it's interesting to see how the deck evolved in order to succeed in Week 3.  Of course, Blastoise requires a ton of cards just to make the Archie engine consistent, but Marshall Cary still found room for innovation, and that catapulted him to a Top 4 finish in San Jose.

Easily the most interesting aspect of this list is the heavy focus on Articuno. Keldeo-EX can OHKO anything, sure, but that's not as great as huge, three-Prize swings. With two Muscle Bands in the list, Articuno's damage cap is raised to 160 and Victini is included to redo flips and increase the odds of hitting the necessary numbers. At the very least, it's now much easier to one-shot Shaymin-EX for big swings of tempo in the match. Such focus on Articuno allows the deck to close out games very quickly after setting up and can often lead to "stolen" wins. In a format where Hex Maniac is so popular, the best thing Blastoise can do is capitalize on early momentum.

There are a few other assorted techs in here as well. Hex Maniac is another great way to capitalize on a fast setup. Building a big Keldeo-EX and locking the opponent's Abilities is sometimes enough to seal a game as early as the second turn and a midgame Hex Maniac can shut down Bronzong and Crobat decks. It helps that the Item-heavy engine makes it very easy to use Hex Maniac at most points of the game. Tool Scrapper, meanwhile, is an obvious concession to the Mega Manectric/Garbodor decks which dominated Week 2. Admittedly, it's easy to reluctantly discard the lone Scrapper in pursuit of the turn-one Blastoise, but if it's not discarded, one turn of Abilities is likely all the deck needs to build a Keldeo and Lysandre the Garbodor, taking Garbotoxin off the table for good.

We've seen multiple permutations of Blastoise over the past several months, from the aggro-Keldeo version Steve Guthrie used at U.S. Nationals, to Jacob Van Wagner's Worlds-winning list with a toolbox of four different attackers.  Going forward, however, this Victini-Articuno version seems to be the best way to go.

Popularized in Lancaster, this deck earned Jonathan Paranada a Regionals trophy after falling short in the Finals against Israel Sosa two weeks earlier. In a sense, this is a natural evolution of the Bronzong deck from last season, replacing the Double Colorless Energy with Double Dragon Energy, which greatly raises the deck's power ceiling. Instead of relying on the frustrating damage cap of Dialga-EX's Full Metal Impact, we have Tyrantrum-EX's Dragon Impact, whose 190 damage output hits all the important numbers Dialga just missed.  Since the deck already runs the means to power it up, Giratina-EX is a natural inclusion, giving the deck a potential win condition against Night March and Vespiquen (both of which can struggle when cut off from DCE). For good measure, the deck throws in the old Metal standbys, Cobalion-EX and Aegislash-EX.

The deck is a bit high-maintenance in its setup. It works best with two Bronzong in play, which in turn work best with Keldeo-EX and Float Stone. This makes Hoopa an easy inclusion, grabbing an attacker, Keldeo, and a Shaymin to help dig for Bronzor. To make this setup more smooth, the deck runs two Sky Field, allowing the Bench to initially become clogged with setup Pokémon, only to be removed when the Stadium is bumped. With such a focus on large Benches, of course, Colress becomes the Stadium of choice very early in the game and it's duly emphasized in the list. Drawing 7+ cards every turn is great, especially when it doesn't involve discarding crucial resources to pull off.

Tyrantrum-EX can hit 210 with a Muscle Band.  That's good for anything up to as large as a Mega Manectric. For larger Pokémon, i.e. Mega Evolutions, the deck runs a Faded Town, giving the deck OHKO potential on anything with up to 230 HP. Giratina deals with Megas pretty effectively too, but having the extra option never hurts. The deck can also deal with Seismitoad with the help of Cobalion-EX and the lone Xerosic. At the end of the day, this is just a versatile deck with a lot of options that thrives in the late game. Metal was already a successful deck, but this new iteration pushes it over the top.

And speaking of Jonathan Paranada, this is the deck played by his Finals opponent, Hayden Cameron-Jacobs. Though he didn't quite take home the Championship, Hayden's deck is quite impressive. The basic premise is that Seismitoad-EX coupled with Lasers and Hammers is already a very powerful concept, and adding Genesect-EX gives it two more distinct lines of play. The first, obviously, is G Booster, which opens up big OHKO plays, even on Megas thanks to Lasers. But even more powerful is Red Signal, allowing disruptive Lysandre-esque plays without costing that turn's Supporter use. This allows the deck to drag a Benched Pokémon Active after drawing into a Plasma Energy with Professor Juniper, of course, but it opens up a number of other plays as well.

Hayden ran six different tech Supporters, among them, Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic. This allowed him to Red Signal a Benched Pokémon and strip away its Energy with Team Flare Grunt, for instance, or discard the Float Stone from a Keldeo-EX and drag it Active to lock in place. This makes it quite feasible to completely run opponents out of Energy, subverting traditional Prize-trade games and harshly punishing overextending. Despite the deck's access to explosive G Booster plays, it's actually as dedicated to control gameplans as the traditional Seismitoad/Garbodor build.

This deck has popped a couple times before.  Yamato made Second Place at the 60cards Invitational and Nathian Beck made Top 16 in Arizona, both with similar decks, but the visibility that Hayden Cameron-Jacobs brought to the deck with his Second Place finish might be enough to lure more players over to this unique and powerful Seismitoad variant.

Okay, let's take a look at that Sableye deck. This particular list is courtesy of Nick Robinson, who came out of nowhere, but played the deck masterfully in Fort Wayne. The whole point of the deck is to abuse Junk Hunt to repeatedly recycle Hammers and Life Dew, slowly grinding the opponent out of resources and decking them out. Garbodor deals with Pokémon like Bronzong and Blastoise, whose Abilities can keep the Energy coming faster than it can be Hammered away, and overall, the deck was well-positioned to exploit a format full of low-Energy turbo decks.

To address the obvious concern, this deck is Item-heavy and consequently, can struggle against Seismitoad-EX. To account for this, Nick ran four Team Flare Grunt and a Xerosic, giving himself five Supporter-outs to discarding DCE. Breaking the Quaking Punch lock for just a single turn is enough to give Sableye a foothold in the match, allowing VS Seekers to be played for more Team Flare Grunts and letting Sableye Junk Hunt VS Seekers back. As a bonus, the deck runs Virizion-EX and Blend Energy to protect Sableye from Lasers, which can very well mean the difference between a one-hit and a two-hit KO.  When an extra turn could mean getting a Life Dew down, this could make all the difference.

The deck has some obvious weaknesses.  Its reliance on Pokémon-EX could give the opponent too many easy Prizes, allowing them to steal games before the lock is ready, and there's no real way to get Pokémon-EX off the board, so the deck relies heavily on Life Dew to prolong the Prize trade. This can quickly create problems if Life Dew is Prized, as the deck has no real way to take Prizes. (Admittedly, Tool Drop plays are an option, just in case.) The deck can struggle in top cut situations because of this, having very little hope should the match go to Game 3 or Sudden Death. It can also require very precise play, which is difficult under time pressure. Still, it's a concept that can work very well, as three players revealed in Week 3.

The general lack of attention Primal Groudon has received in the past few months (Ryan Sabelhaus' Top 64 run notwithstanding) somewhat overshadows the fact that this is a very well-developed and sophisticated list. The best thing Primal Groudon players ever did was accept that the deck was just going to be slow.  Doing so set off the deck's evolution. Gone are the Spirit Links and alternate attackers that earlier iterations of the deck relied on. The name of the game here is sitting patiently behind Wobbuffet and Robo Substitute, buying time while building a Groudon that just refuses to go down.

First off, the Stadium count here is perfect. A pair of Silent Lab allows for Ability-lock even when a Robo Substitute is Active and it provides the deck with five potential cards to open with that stun Shaymin-based setups. Alternatively, the deck also has a pair of Tropical Beach, which repeatedly refresh the hand as Primal Groudon gets ready for battle, making improving consistency (which is vital since the deck doesn't run Shaymin-EX) and making sure the deck doesn't miss a beat. Though four Stadiums is a bit low considering Primal Groudon's attack, the deck also runs the promo Regirock, whose Land Maker retrieves two Stadiums from the discard. As an added bonus, Regirock has the same Ω Barrier as Primal Groudon, so if it survives after a Land Maker, it can safely retreat to the Bench, where it will remain, out of harm's way.

One of the big strengths of Primal Groudon is its ability to deny KOs via Focus Sash and this list runs a pair to accomplish that goal, but it also adds a Hard Charm into the mix. This serves the same primary purpose as Focus Sash (because, honestly, what's going to hit 260?), but against decks that don't even come close to one-shotting Primal Groudon, Hard Charm could very well force a three-hit KO instead of a two-hit and Pokémon Center Lady can buy yet another a turn. Though the deck can reliably get two Primal Groudon set up per game, sometimes one is all it takes.

Primal Groudon has its share of weaknesses. It can struggle against a fast Vespiquen attacking Groudon-EX before it has a chance to Mega Evolve and Crobat is as much a problem as ever, but it's still a deck capable of overcoming a number of matchups, including Yveltal, most Seismitoad variants, and Mega Manectric, so keep it in mind.

Primal Groudon wasn't the only Fighting deck to make a comeback in Week 3. Turns out Donphan is alive and well too. This list, played by Chris Collins, is pretty similar to Simon Narode's Top 8 list from Worlds. It aims to use Spinning Turn repeatedly, hiding behind Robo Substitutes and using Focus Sash to prolong the lives of Donphan and Hawlucha (who is an excellent attacker against EX-heavy decks, notably Seismitoad). The big new tech here is Jolteon AOR, who makes Donphan part-Lightning type, which helps to compensate for Yveltal's problematic Fighting Resistance. It's not easy to get set up with no real way to search out the line other than Computer Search and a lone Level Ball, but Donphan is so good at buying time that it might not even matter.

The rest of the list is all consistency. The deck uses Korrina very effectively since its setup is so simple (a turn-one Phanpy and you're basically good to go) and Korrina allows the deck to pick and choose its Tools and grab Robo Substitutes as needed. A nice thing about the Wobbuffet-less Donphan lists is that they have no need for Switch. Hawlucha has free Retreat, Donphan can attack its way out of Active, and Robo Substitute can discard itself. As a bonus in this variant, Jolteon has free Retreat too, making it an unobtrusive tech. Donphan didn't make the same showing at Fall Regionals this year as it did the previous season, but it can still be a great deck.

Kyle Thomas was the lone Mega Manectric player to make Top 8 in Week 3 and unlike the lists that dominated Week 2, it focused on Regice instead of the more popular Tool Drop/Garbodor variants. He still ran Wobbuffet to slow opponents down in the early game, along with a single Psychic Energy for the occasional Psychic Assault opportunity, but the deck's primary focus is on Water-type supporting attackers.

Regice is nearly as effective in Expanded as in Standard. It still faces the same issues against non-EX decks like Vespiquen, but Expanded still has a lot of Pokémon-EX that Regice can wall. Lasers aren't as big an issue as they might initially seem since this deck runs Keldeo-EX to get out of Poison and Rough Seas to wash away the damage. Keldeo can also get Wobbuffet out of the Active spot so Mega Manectric can attack, helping to ensure the turn-two Turbo Bolt. This deck focuses very heavily on Mega Manectric as the main attacker rather than just a means of Energy-acceleration. Any deck incapable of dependably one-shotting the Mega is going to find itself overwhelmed. The tech Pokémon Center Lady and Rough Seas help see to that.

This is another list focusing on stability above all else. Instead of running a bunch of Item-draw as some other variants have been doing, Kyle focused on reliable draw Supporters backed by a pair of Shaymin-EX. He didn't trim the Spirit Link count either, running the full four to make sure he hits the turn-two Mega Manectric every game. These cards came at the opportunity cost of useful inclusions like Battle Compressor but they also make the deck less susceptible to Item-lock strategies. Forgoing Garbodor and relying on Regice might've been a risky decision in light of the Week 2 results, but for Kyle Thomas, it was a risk that paid off.

The Impact of BREAKthrough

At the moment, BREAKthrough seems slated to be one of the less profound sets of the XY block. Unlike the past several sets, nothing in BREAKthrough really screams "big new archetype," (well, Magnezone kind of does, but it seems outclassed by Blastoise in Expanded) and while some of its cards could see a big upswing in popularity once the BREAK mechanic is fleshed out in future sets, at the moment the set seems to mostly have new techs to offer.  Let's look at the most interesting cards BREAKthrough brings to the table.

1.  Parallel City

This is probably the most discussed card of the set and for good reason. Its Bench-limiting effect has a lot of potential. The last time a Stadium like this, Giant Stump, was around, it saw a lot of popularity as a tech for its entire lifespan. Vespiquen seems like it could benefit greatly from this card, as it can play down multiple Shaymin to ensure a quick setup and then drop Parallel City to discard those Shaymin, removing easy two-Prize Benchsitters from the game and adding 20 damage to Bee Revenge, all in one move. On the other hand, this card can be a great weapon against the Tyrantrum/Bronzong deck, as the deck needs several moving pieces in play to work optimally and limiting their Bench will almost always force them to get rid of an important Pokémon or two.

The other side of the card isn't nearly as good, but it can potentially hinder Seismitoad, who really doesn't want to be dealing 20 less damage per attack when its damage output is so low. (Remember that playing down Parallel City also bumps Virbank). It's a card with a lot of potential that can swing games at even a single copy, so expect to see it.

2.  Gallade

This card can be put into play via Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick, making it a very easy fit into any Battle Compressor deck. Though its Premonition Ability gives decks a little extra boost in consistency, the main draw is its Sensitive Blade attack, which does quite a lot of damage for just a DCE. Yveltal decks could easily turn to this card as an answer to Mega Manectric decks and it fits in just as naturally as the Archeops engine did. Vespiquen could also make use of this card to put damage on the board before Bee Revenge is ready to go.  With its 150 HP, it will probably be able to take a hit before going down. But really, the beauty here is that any deck that runs DCE and can fit a few Battle Compressors (which already add consistency to any deck) can fit this card and potentially get a lot of mileage out of it.

3.  Brigette

This card could potentially give a boost to non-EX-centric decks. Again, Vespiquen seems to be an obvious benefactor since it needs to get Basics turn one to Evolve them on turn two and its heavy Battle Compressor count makes even a single Brigette readily available, but other decks should at least consider it to facilitate setups. It could help give Eelektrik decks a much-needed push or help the Tyrantrum/Bronzong deck get Metal Links online more quickly (although it conflicts awkwardly with Hoopa). It's not the most impressive card in the set, but it's worth keeping in mind.

4.  Giovanni's Scheme

This card seems very strong. So many games are decided by 10 or 20 damage and having an extra source of damage accessible via VS Seeker could be very valuable. For instance, this card gives Tyrantrum-EX a better chance of one-shotting Megas and could mean a turn-two KO in fast decks like Night March that can easily play a non-draw Supporter early in the game. Though Iris has seen very little play, the fact that this card isn't reliant on Prize counts could make all the difference. The fact that it can even draw a few cards in a pinch is just icing on the cake.

5.  Fisherman

This card is likely to become a staple in Blastoise. One of the ways Blastoise can lose games is by discarding too many Superior Energy Retrievals while setting up, making them unable to close out games. Fisherman remedies this, as it's always just a VS Seeker away, giving the deck way more recovery potential.

6.  Yveltal

This is likely to become a staple in Yveltal decks.  Its attack is a pseudo-Night Spear, which is always strong (it can two-shot two Shaymin-EX at once!), and its Ability is an excellent response to decks running Focus Sash and Spirit Links. In addition, it can quickly punish decks reliant on Float Stone, preventing free Retreat and giving Yveltal time to snipe Benched Pokémon-EX. The card designers certainly seems to like Yveltal and this card is no exception.

7.  Smeargle

This could fit into Rayquaza/Eelektrik decks, as an easy way to retrieve Fire Energy, but a more exciting application might be Ho-Oh decks, since it allows them to better get away with running low counts of each Basic Energy type as Smeargle allows for off-type Energy to be attached knowing it can safely be replaced later. It's an intriguing card with a lot of potential, and the player who finds out the best way to use that potential could very well create the next big rogue deck.


After six Regional Championships across North America, we now have a well-defined Expanded metagame and thus, a great basis for testing the format for upcoming events. You know the decks to beat and now it's up to you to come up with the most effective way to beat them! To all the readers, best of luck with your upcoming Expanded events, be they Cities or Regional Championships.  See you next time!

[+7] okko


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