This article is brought to you by too many ideas, and Drake.
Expanded is huge, and is only getting bigger. With the vast number of options available to all of us, I find it hard to believe that there is one absolute best play. Through my testing and development of lists, I have come up with the longest list of potential plays that I have seen since I started playing this game competitively. I think this is partly because I now understand how to properly gauge a meta, and counter it (as I did not in the past), but also sheerly because of the huge number of cards and viable archetypes as a result.
In this article I will not go too in depth about any one deck. Instead, I’ll be jumping around from list to list, giving short explanations of each deck’s benefits and weaknesses. The only deck I will not cover (that I am considering) is Yveltal/Garbodor. If you are interested in that option, you can check out this article that I wrote a week or so ago. The decks I will cover in this piece, in order, are:
- Mega Rayquaza
- Night March
- Mega Mewtwo
- Donphan (version 1)
- Donphan (version 2)
- Yveltal Maxie’s
- Darkrai Giratina
Since Yveltal/Garbodor is not going to be covered in this piece, I want to mention that it sits between Mega Mewtwo and Donphan (Version 1.0) on my scale of least likely to most likely for me to play.
The list will begin with the plays that I feel I am least likely to use, and progress towards the decks I am considering more seriously. While I do think that there are many strong options, I am less fond of specific choices for various reasons. In most cases, it comes down to the consistency of the deck. I have a strong preference for decks that are extremely consistent, especially in Expanded; contrary to what I have been publishing lately with my Standard Vespiquen, Mega Mewtwo, and Yveltal/Garbodor lists. I love options, but I like never dead-drawing a little bit more.
I also want to note that I do think that other decks could be viable options even if they are not in this article. These are simply the choices that I have had the time to work with, and develop lists for. There are many other decks that I think have potential in this meta including Mega Manectric/Garbodor/Wobbuffet, Groudon, and Wobbuffet/Accelgor, to name a few.
I cannot leave this deck off the list because it won the last Expanded Regionals. This deck is incredibly hard-hitting, consistent, and fast. I love how I can consistently do 240 damage on my second turn, and play disruption Supporters while I do so. The new meta we are walking into calls for a couple changes to the list that Alex won with. Primarily, the promo Giratina is no longer relevant, considering the incredibly low number of Break decks that see competitive play now. Trevenant could come back (though I really hope it doesn’t), but for the time being, it does not look to be performing very well.
I decided to drop the Giratina in favor of Oranguru, simply because it is a strong-effect Pokemon that does a little bit more than being dead. Frankly, this spot could be any Basic Pokemon other than Giratina. With four Shaymin and a Jirachi EX, you are not in a much of a need for more draw. Then again, it can help with late game N’s, you can never be too consistent, and it actually is a non-EX attacker. If you have played Oranguru in anything, you probably realize that Psychic legitimately is a strong reason to use the card.
I would not knock anybody for dropping the Oranguru in favor of another Basic. For me, Oranguru seems to be the best option, but some other potential substitues are:
- Seismitoad EX
- Lugia/Mewtwo EX
- Manaphy EX
- Another copy of any of the Basics already in the deck: specifically a second Dragonite EX
- Tauros GX
The other change I decided to make is dropping the fourth Trainers’ Mail in favor of a second Colress. With item-lock dominating the format, another draw Supporter is always going to be helpful. Colress is going to get you more cards than any other draw card under the correct conditions, and does not discard crucial cards the way that Sycamore does. You actually want to hold on to your items in many cases, because you will be able to use them at some point, once you get one of those Hex Maniac in hand. This is my slight adaptation to Alex’s list.
|Pokémon – 17||Trainers – 36||Energy – 7|
|3||M Rayquaza EX ROS76||2||Hex Maniac||4||Ultra Ball||4||Double Colorless|
|2||Rayquaza EX ROS75||2||Lysandre||4||VS Seeker||3||Water|
|1||Rayquaza EX ROS60||2||Colress||3||Mega Turbo|
|4||Shaymin EX ROS||1||AZ||3||Trainer’s Mail|
|2||Hoopa EX||1||Ghetsis||3||Rayquaza Spirit Link|
|1||Dragonite EX EVO||1||N||2||Battle Compressor|
|1||Jirachi EX||1||Karen||2||Float Stone|
|1||Keldeo EX||1||Computer Search|
So, why is this the choice I am least likely to use?
On principle, I am against playing anything that just won a major event. I never like to be using something that will clearly be tested against, and most likely teched against. The deck remains on my list because of the inherent power that Emerald Break offers, and the complementary draw engine it offers with Skyfield, Shaymin, and Hoopa.
The other reason why this deck is ranked on the lower end is because the counter this deck plays to item lock is somewhat lackluster. Normally Hex Maniac is very strong because you can play it at the end of your turn after using all the items and Abilities you have to work with. Against Vileplume, Hex is how you have to begin using items, which means Ultra Balling for Hoopa or Shaymin stops you there until next turn. The deck goes from a well-oiled engine to a clunky model-T.
I think this is a fairly sane choice. If I simply wanted to make it to Day 2, I would probably give this deck more thought. However this is not the case. I am playing to win, not to get 32nd place.
This option immediately stands out to me because it is the strongest counter to Rayquaza at the moment. With your main attacker as an Electric-type non-EX, Mega Rayquaza has an abysmal chance of pulling out any number of games against you. As it always has been, Night March remains an incredibly consistent deck. In my history playing this game, it certainly is the most consistent deck I have seen, which leads me to have an attraction to the deck no matter the meta. As long as the meta is not exclusively Toad/Bats, and Trevenant, I will think about Night March.
The obvious issue this deck faces is Decidueye and Vileplume variants. This list was built with the intention to focus all techs on beating, or at least “50/50’ing” these Plume and Decidueye decks. Hex Maniac is one of the most obvious counters to these type of decks, and Wobbuffet is probably the second most common counter, but why not play both? Night March does not rely on Shaymin EX the way that Rayquaza does, making it far less painful to rely on Hex to beat Decidueye/Plume. While you do like to abuse the three Set Ups that you have available, you can work with playing Hex far more easily than Ray, and some other popular decks.
The Wobbuffet seems to be the “be-all, end-all” best way to counter Decidueye and Vileplume through my testing. It is as if I play one copy and I can beat Owls/Plume using almost anything! Hexes are nice, because they give you the opportunity to use your Ultra Ball to search out Wobbuffet. The effect on its own is strong enough to warrant playing two copies, but the Wobbuffet helps to play a safe-ish game against Owls/Plume.
Peter Kica is the genius who turned me on to Dowsing Machine. I am passionate about this idea, to say the least. Computer Search and Life Dew have been the two options for a long time, with no real reason to ignore Dowsing. Other consistent top-tier options play Dowsing, or at least consider it an option. I have a hard time understanding why people think it cannot work in Night March.
For those who do not see the use in the card, consider what it would be like to pull off playing Puzzle of Time in pairs twice per game far more consistently. Puzzles are clearly one of the main reasons why Night March is so powerful; the Dowsing increases your frequency of playing double Puzzle significantly. Also, Playing Dowsing allows you to cut down to two Dimension Valley, while keeping what you need to have the stadium when you need it.
Other than Dowsing and Wobbuffet, the list looks fairly traditional. Credit goes to Peter Kica for inspiring much of the list you see below.
|Pokémon – 17||Trainers – 39||Energy – 4|
|4||Joltik PHF||4||Professor Juniper||4||VS Seeker||4||Double Colorless|
|4||Pumpkaboo PHF||2||Hex Maniac||4||Battle Compressor|
|4||Lampent PHF||2||Lysandre||4||Ultra Ball|
|3||Shaymin EX ROS||1||N||4||Puzzle of Time|
|1||Mr Mime PLF||1||Pokemon Ranger||3||Trainer’s Mail|
|1||Wobbuffet PHF||1||Teammates||2||Fighting Fury Belt|
I am not a big fan of the Float Stone over Escape Rope, nevertheless Float Stone is essentially required if you plan to play Wobbuffet.
I like this deck, and I would love to play it at an Expanded event in the future, although I desire a better Decidueye/Vileplume matchup than can exist for this deck. Even with the techs, you will still struggle with Deci/Plume in many cases.
I was interested in this deck for Portland because of how strong I found the deck to be in Standard. I felt that, just as Yveltal/Garbodor, Rayquaza, Decidueye Vileplume, and Volcanion were strong in both formats, that Mega Mewtwo would be as well. This is still my opinion actually, and I may play the deck. I have this one lower on the list because it is not as consistent as some of the other options. In this case, it is more the fact that I have other options that are either extremely consistent, very low on the radar, or simply have stronger positive matchups against what I expect to be played in big numbers.
The biggest benefit Mewtwo has is that it slams Deci/Plume into the ground. Between Garbodor and Wobbuffet, there really is hardly a chance for Deci/Plume to win any games. This deck needs items for maybe two turns to be in a strong enough position to win most games, which explains much of the positive matchup.
In general, Garbodor is great for the current meta. I found Mewtwo to be very similar to Yveltal Garbodor in Expanded. Both decks feed off opposing Pokemon attaching more energy, and your own energy acceleration. Mewtwo does so a bit more because it is +30 rather than +20 for each energy, but Yveltal still has the Lasers and Virbank to compensate. I like Mewtwo because it needs fewer cards to achieve the damage output. You needn’t play Dark Patch and Laser, you can just play Mega Turbo with Mewtwo and get the same effect (or at least close to it).
The addition of X-Ball Mewtwo is great for increasing early-game aggression. You can hit for some early damage frequently with the Expanded sibling to Damage-Change Mewtwo. I find that in Expanded, the number of Pokemon that one-shot make using Damage Change far less useful, or frequent. When you forgo Shrine of Memories, you free up one more Stadium slot, and take some early game aggression in its place.
The other benefit is having the option to use Fairy Garden to make the deck slightly smoother. There is no real need for Psychic energy in this list, and there is not a stadium that is much more than OK when you play Psychics. Fairies make the deck smoother – and more pretty!
Some other fun benefits this deck has in the Expanded format is the Garbage Collection Trubbish, which can be used for free if Dimension Valley is in play. Battle Compressor is very nice for increasing overall consistency, especially in terms of Mega Turbo efficiency. Seismitoad is an attempt to deal with the otherwise abysmal Night March matchup. I will submit that the tech may end up being futile, but in theory it seems like a logical addition. I may drop it and call Night March an auto loss.
Here is the list:
|Pokémon – 15||Trainers – 35||Energy – 10|
|4||Mewtwo EX (X Ball)||4||Prof. Sycamore||4||Mewtwo Spirit Link||6||Fairy|
|3||M Mewtwo EX (Infinity)||2||N||4||Ultra Ball||4||Double Colorless|
|2||Shaymin EX ROS||2||Lysandre||4||Mega Turbo|
|2||Trubbish (Collection)||3||VS Seeker|
|1||Garbodor BKP||3||Trainer’s Mail|
|1||Wobbuffet PHF||3||Float Stone|
|1||Seismitoad EX||2||Battle Compressor|
|1||Hoopa EX||1||Super Rod|
This is another quaint option that will most likely end up as an honorable mention instead of the deck I end up with. If I were to play this, I would be concerned about Night March, and a little bit about overall consistency.
Karen is an option instead of Super Rod that could alleviate the Night March stress. Might want to give it a shot if you are considering this deck for Portland.
Now onto the decks I am a little more than just fond of…
Donphan has an opportunity to come back into the spotlight for Portland because of Wobbuffet. Donphan can abuse Bide Barricade more than most decks, which immediately makes it a strong option in this meta. Wobbuffet/Accelgor has the same ability-locker, but requires far more maintenance, is more easily countered, takes a hard auto-loss to Giratina EX, is less consistent, does not have the ability to one-shot, and has worse typing. In case I did not make this clear… Donphan is a better option.
Donphan has many new benefits from more recent sets that have not been explored by, well, pretty much anybody. Donphan has been written off as sub-par and therefor has not been updated, or experimented with, for a long while. Version 1.0 of Donphan is consistent and relatively easy to play. I think most of you will enjoy Version 2.0 more, but I think the first is fit for more players, seeing as it is easier to learn when you only have one or two days before the event.
With positive matchups against Deci/Pume, Turbo Dark, Yveltal Maxie’s, Rayquaza, Volcanion, and Night March, I sometimes wonder why this deck is not first on the list. I will explain later on why this is the case. My point for now is that Donphan displays far more positive matchups against top-tier options than most other decks. Not only do I mean “more” as in favorable chances of winning against a higher number of decks, but also “more” meaning these matchups are more favorable than most other options. I call these decks “shotgun decks,” because when they hit they hit hard, but when they miss, it is by a long shot (heh, get it now? “Shotgun”?). The good news is the hits are much more common than the misses. The bad news is that if you hit a bunch of the “miss” matchups, you will flop like a Magikarp in the Savannah.
This is my safer version of the deck: