Before I get into this piece, I want to explain that this article will have two parts. I am posting the second half of the article this Saturday, so I can test some more matchups a little more before adding the matchup descriptions and strategies. With around 20 viable decks in Expanded, one needs far more time to test against all of the strong options. In order to give you all the best content I can create, I thought it would be best to split this one into two articles.
The trend these days seems to be using Standard decks in Expanded. Rahul Reddy just placed 3rd with a deck that has never seen significant play in Expanded, and the winning deck (Mega Rayquaza) is very present in Standard. But Volcanion and Mega Ray are not the only examples; Decidueye/Vilepume won the Standard Sheffield Regionals, and placed 2nd at St. Louis. Seems like the formula is to take a Standard Archetype, add some Expanded cards, and play well.
I’ve decided to hop on the bandwagon with my recent testing focusing on Yveltal/Garbodor. I was attracted to this deck as I watched Top 4, and finals of St. Louis. It occurred to me that Garbodor shuts down everything I was looking at. Rayquaza relies heavily on Abilities, and Decidueye/Plume even more so. Volcanion, Night March, Lurantis/Vileplume… everything is relying heavily on their Abilities. Seeing this new meta made me realize that Vespiquen is not going to be an option going into Portland. If Decidueye, and item lock of any sort are popular, I am not willing to push myself through nine (well, hopefully fifteen) rounds of tough matchups.
Instead I have defaulted to a deck that is largely unexplored in Expanded. Yveltal/Maxie’s has been the Yveltal variant to play for a while now. The only people playing anything other than the Maxie’s approach are Frank Diaz, and myself. Expanded actually presents a lot for this deck to benefit from. Lasers and Dark Patches increase the deck strength greatly. The combos that these cards present are usually not noticed in Expanded.
Seeing as Yveltal/Garbodor sits somewhere between the first- and second-most highly played deck in Standard, and seeing as we have just established that the Expanded meta looks similar to Standard, would it not make sense for Yveltal/Garb to be successful in Expanded as well?
But why Yveltal Garb over Maxie?
I expect this will be the most commonly asked question, and the answer is simply that Abilities are ridiculous in Expanded. In Standard, Abilities are somewhat manageable because there are not the same number of cards to enhance them. Look at Volcanion for example: in Standard, Volcanion might Steam Up twice in a turn, occasionally three times. In Expanded, you can use Superior Energy Retrieval and Exeggcute to consistently hit three or four Steam Ups, and then use Blacksmith. Another example could be Mega Rayquaza. The “enhancement” cards that Expanded presents are powerful enough to allow for cutting all Professor Sycamore, which I am still baffled by.
These ability-based combos are ever-present in Expanded. Being able to shut them all down has huge power. The ability to shut these interactions down is now more beneficial than the perks of Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick. The other reason why this makes a big difference is because of the synergy that Lasers have with Ability-lock. Against any deck with Keldeo, your lasers are not nearly as effective as they would be, and against decks with Virizion EX, Hypnotoxic is impotent. Dark Cloak will be useless. OH, and then those two Abilities (from Trevenant and Vileplume) that prevent you from ever putting the card down probably present a problem… just maybe.
With Garbodor, Laser’s numerous issues fizzle. Silent Lab is an alternative solution to a degree, but hardly. When you take into account that Silent Lab can easily be countered, does not cause Hypnotoxic to do 20 more damage between turns, and is already commonly played, it is not hard to see why its lock is not sufficient.
There are many complements to the Garbodor/Laser combination that most players have either forgotten about, or are not aware of. You can see exactly what I mean later on in the piece, but for now you just need to know that there is a lot of merit to this variant for the current meta. Contrary to popular belief, Yveltal Garb beats the Maxie variant, and pretty consistently. Kind of amazing how Lasers alone are enough to change an iffy mirror into a landslide.
Isn’t Yveltal/Garbodor inconsistent?
I think this question will be far less common, but it should not be! Yveltal/Garb historically does have consistency issues in Standard. You may have been part of the Yveltal/Garb crowd when Mails were cut in favor of mirror techs, and I am so sorry you had to deal with that agony. In Expanded, you need less Dark in your list because of Dark Patch, and there are multiple other consistency increases including Battle Compressor, Computer Search, and Colress. I have not had any consistency issues yet. Sort of a given for my lists – I think most of you know by now that I am not willing to touch anything that is not consistent.
Now would be a pretty good time in the explanation to actually show the list: