“Two Formats Team Up:” Options for both Standard and Expanded Regionals

Hey guys, I’m back with another piece but this time talking about both formats. We are now in full swing with Regionals and there will be both Standard and Expanded Regionals coming up soon. I will be attending both Daytona and Vancouver, so I will be talking about the meta for both of these events.

In this piece, I am going to swap back and forth between Expanded and Standard a couple times. I cover my Expanded Garbodor more than anything else, but also have an updated Expanded Darkrai list, and two Standard Garbodor decks (Espeon Garb & Drampa Garb). (What can I say? I’m a trashy guy.) I do not have my own list for Volcanion in either format because I think the list Igor used, and the list Sam used are both pretty optimal. I also talk about Greninja in Standard with Chris Siakala’s, Michael Long’s, and my lists for the deck. Special thanks to Chris for letting me post the list here.

First off, I want to talk about the Volcanions because it took first and second at the last two American Regionals. Seeing Volcanion win the event was a surprise to me, especially considering it was the variant with no Salazzle or Ho-Oh. With that being said, it was a unique list that nobody other than the creator could have seen coming. I believe Azul Greigo was the creator of the list. If you have not already seen the deck. This is the list that Igor Costa used to win the event.

Igor’s Volcanion

Pokémon – 13 Trainers – 32 Energy – 15
 4 Volcanion EX  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Ultra Ball  15 Fire
 4 Volcanion  4 N  4 Max Elixir
 2 Tapu Lele GX  1 Lillie  4 Fighting Fury Belt
 2 Turtonator GX  4 Guzma  2 Enhanced Hammer
 1 Oranguru  2 Float Stone
 1 Switch
 1 Field Blower
 1 Super Rod

This list is beautiful. I really appreciate a list like this, playing excellent meta techs such as Enhanced Hammer, while still fitting consistency cards like Oranguru and Lillie. My longtime readers know I love these two cards in particular.

This list worked because Azul was thinking outside the box. When Volcanion focuses on the baby Volcanion, it eliminates the problem of having too many energy attached in the Gardevoir matchup and allows for very consistent setups. This deck does what Golisopod does to a degree, in the sense that it goes for consistent two-shots in the early game and then starts hitting big numbers with the other attackers in the mid- to late-game. Golisopod does this while using Acerola to make sure Golisopods are not easily knocked out, while this list allows the Volcanions to be knocked out. This works out completely fine because Volcanion only gives up one prize, and has a big 170 HP with the Fury Belt attached.

The other big advantage that this deck has over Golisopod is that a supporter like Guzma or Acerola is not needed to pull off the higher damage output. Instead, it requires Fire energy to do more damage and then accelerates the energy.

Turtonator is also an extremely powerful attacker with three useful attacks. Any Pokemon with 190 HP and three attacks that are all strong is nothing to scoff at. This is a big part of why Fire decks are inherently powerful right now. Overall that is why I like Fire right now: it is overall extremely powerful. Certain decks are good meta calls, and certain decks are better once they set up. Volcanion is strong straight out of the gate, and stays consistent with hard-hitting attackers. It is hard to find an area where Volcanion lacks strength.

Similarly, I think Volcanion/Turtonator is extremely strong in Expanded. In my testing, it actually does beat Night March more of the time, even though it did lose in the finals of Fort Wayne. Even in theory, it is hard to understand how Night March comes out on top. Turtonator has 190 HP which is a very uncomfortable number for Night March; it can take a knockout and then force the next Night Marcher to hit it to knock itself out. The Karen one-of also puts in work because the Night March player has to push to hit 190 and then loses all the discarded Night Marchers to Karen. Volcanion also takes knockouts going second frequently with baby Volcanion and sometimes with Turtonator & Blacksmith.

Sam Chen had the right idea with the deck, but I am unsure of Karen. It does not seem to be doing much so far, and I think a different tech would probably be more beneficial. In general, I’m not sure the deck needs a Night March tech; instead, I could see playing another draw card of some sort. I hear Sam lost in finals to poor draws, so another Supporter could be the solution.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, this is the list Sam used:

Sam’s Volcanion

Pokémon – 12 Trainers – 32 Energy – 16
 3 Turtonator GX  4 Professor Sycamore  3 Scortched Earth  16 Fire
 3 Volcanion EX  1 N  1 Computer Search
 2 Volcanion  1 Colress  1 Field Blower
 2 Shaymin EX  1 Guzma  2 Muscle Band
 1 Ho-Oh GX  1 Acerola  2 Float Stone
 1 Tapu Lele GX  1 Kiawe  2 Battle Compressor
 1 Karen  4 Ultra Ball
 3 Blacksmith

This is still a good option for Daytona because it did not win the event, and it has a positive matchup against the deck that did win the event. It will be teched for a little less because it ended up getting second, and while some people already know that Fire is favored in the Night March matchup, many players will not realize this. 

I am a little skeptical of this play because it probably will see counters. Greninja is a deck that could pop back up because it theoretically beats Night March and Volcanion. Ideally, you would play a deck that has a positive matchup against the deck that won, as well as a positive matchup against the deck that counters it. In this case, there are multiple decks that counter Night March, which makes it a little harder to prepare for. It is hard to say exactly what deck people will play to counter Night March. Turtonator, as I said, does have a favored matchup, Garbodor with Oricorio does as well, and so does Trevenant.

If we can find a deck that beats all of these decks and Night March, it is probably a great option. Darkrai can do this to a degree, but does not have a super favorable Night March matchup. Maybe with an Oricorio, Darkrai could beat it consistently.

Personally, I like Garbodor as a way to beat Night March, and the other decks listed. Trevenant is closer but still favorable. This is the deck I played to get Top 32 at Fort Wayne. I know I could have gone a little further in the event if I had played faster against Ryan Sablehaus, and didn’t have to skip my last round of Day 2 Swiss. I had next to no problems with Garbodor in terms of matchups or consistency. I dead drew twice during the event, and that is how I got my two losses during Day 1.

This is the list I played, with a couple post-event updates. This is my top play at the moment.

Expanded Garbodor

Pokémon – 13 Trainers – 35 Energy – 12
 4  Trubbish (Tool Drop)  4  Dimension Valley  4  UltraBall  4  Double Colorless
 2  Garbodor (GRI)  4  Professor Sycamore  3  Float Stone  5  Psychic
 1  Garbodor (PLF)  4  N  1  Choice Band  3  Mystery
 3  Tapu Lele GX  1  Colress  3  Muscle Band
 1  Necrozma GX  1  Brigette  2  Rescue Stretcher
 1  Seismitoad EX  1  Guzma  1  Field Blower
 1  Oricorio  1  Lysandre  1  Computer Search
 1  Teammates
 3  VS Seeker

This is only a two card-difference from the old list: -1 Psychic +1 Mystery, -Trashalanche Garb +1 Muscle Band).

The reason I made these changes is first that there is almost no downside to another Mystery energy, and will only help with keeping my board more fluid, for the most part.  The added Muscle Band helps with the mirror, and is generally strong in a deck that used a Tool Drop strategy frequently. Muscle is also important for mirror because you can go second and frequently get the Turn-1 knock out on an opposing Trubbish. This is big because most of the mirror just comes down to who is ahead in the trade.

The Oricorio is for the Night March matchup specifically, but can help in niche situations against any deck. Sometimes I notice my opponents discard one too many Pokemon and I can finish up a knock out on a benched Pokemon with Oricorio. With Black Ray, this definitely comes up. Especially with Shaymin EX, because after Black Ray you only need to drop one damage counter to finish the knock out. For this reason alone I could see playing Oricorio; the Night March matchup just makes it more worth it. Dimension Valley lets it attack for free as well!

Necrozma similarly takes advantage of the Dimension Valley by letting you Black Ray for just a DCE. This card is great for fairly clear reasons. Black Ray is just an amazing attack.

Mimikyu is sort of a meta call, but at the same time is a generally good card. I like it right now because it can copy Turtonator’s Bright Flame for just a Psychic Energy (when used with Dimension Valley). That’s 160 from a one-prize Pokemon, with one attachment! With Choice Band, you are taking a KO on Turtonator. The Rescue Stretcher lets you do this multiple times in a game. You can use Mimikyu in the Lapras matchup as well, even though the deck is not very popular. Basically, any deck using Pokemon that take a good number of energy is a deck where Mimikyu can be used. Blastoise, Gardevoir, and Rayquaza are all good examples.

Two Trashalanche is not the ideal count, but it’s a decent compromise to fit other important cards. This deck relies on Black Ray and Tool Drop enough to make Trashalanche sort of an extra attacker instead of the focus of the deck. There is also the Mimikyu and Oricorio. Currently I think more than two GRI Garbodor is not needed.

Four Dimension Valley allows this deck to rely less on Teammates and a lucky Sycamore. I think many other lists are only playing three, with the logic that other decks are playing Dimension Valley, making it so you do not need as many in the list. The problem with this logic is that for a good 70 to 80 percent of your matchups you will not be playing against Dimension Valley decks. The consistency of four is huge for all of the other matchups.

Dimension Valley is an exceptionally powerful stadium, that I think many people put in the same category as something like Parallel City, Silent Lab, or Alter of the Moone because they are all stadiums. Dimension Valley is on another level. Energy acceleration is effectively what Dimension Valley provides, and energy acceleration is an effect much stronger than many (if not all) the other stadiums out there.

My draw line is thick because I like consistency. I never want to have to get lucky to win a matchup; instead I want to always have draw cards to ensure I can hit what I need. This is not a new concept in the slightest, but many people cut down on the N or Sycamore counts. With 15 rounds where I need to avoid dead-drawing entirely, I want all the consistency I can get. This deck also does not need many techs because it is so powerful on its own. In other words, I am not pressed to find techs for specific matchups because I do not need them. You could make the argument that the Gardevoir and Golisopod matchups are negative, but I would note that neither of those should be very popular at Daytona. In terms of good metacalls, Gardevoir and Golisopod are big no-nos.

Colress specifically is a great tech that I think many people tend to neglect. I often consider dropping he fourth Sycamore or N in favor of a second copy. With Brigette coming down on the first turn during most games, Colress almost always draws as many cards as N or sycamore, and usually more.

The Guzma/Lysandre split is nice because it allows me to have no Float or Mystery in play, and still get to swap my opponent’s Pokemon. This is big for the early game because frequently you will not have a Float or Mystery. I could see going up to two Guzma in the list, but for now the split works. Frankly the difference is so small I would say it is up to preference.

Teammates is an incredibly powerful card for searching pieces of a puzzle. You may have the Necrozma, but no DCE or Dimension Valley. Or maybe a Choice Band and a Psychic, but no Field Blower or Choice Band. The Teammates makes it so you do not have to draw into the right cards at the right time. You simply search them out instead. Very reliable and consistent card when it can be used with Lele or VS Seeker.

Three VS Seeker is no problem for this deck because of Black Ray and Oricorio. You have a good number of bench damage Pokemon which makes it less important to have more Lysandre/Guzma outs. With nine draw supporters plus Leles, VS Seeker does not have to be a 4-of. In my experience, I only need a fourth VS Seeker when I misplay. In the games where I set up my late game correctly, there is no need for a fourth Seeker.

The single Field Blower is because this deck is less focused on Trashalanche. If I was going to use Garbodor as the main attacker I could see another Field Blower as being needed. Field Blower is sort of a luxury card past the first copy.

The split on Choice and Muscle Bands is just for any deck that runs on one-prize attackers. Trevenant, mirror, and Greninja are in that category. I am iffy on if two are really needed. I may go to a 3-1 split because Choice Band has been big for me in some specific cases in testing and at Ft. Wayne. The only thing holding me back is for mirror. I expect other people to realize how strong Garbodor is against Night March and Volcanion, and decide to play it.

This deck is consistent with positive matchups all around. I see little reason for me to play anything else, considering how much experience I have with Garbodor. And for other players (such as yourself), this is a great play as long as you have some amount of experience with it. This list is not particularly hard to use as compared to other Garbodor variants. It’s very accessible for newer players in the Expanded format. However, as a rule of thumb Expanded is just harder to play than Standard. So Garbodor still may come across as tough initially.

The next deck I want to cover is Darkrai. I think people are still attracted to this deck because of its great consistency and aggression. I still think it’s an amazing deck as well.

Expanded Darkrai

Pokémon – 14 Trainers – 35 Energy – 12
 3 Darkrai EX (BKP)  2 Sky Field  4 VS Seeker  12 Darkness
 1 Darkrai EX (DEX)  3 Professor Sycamore  1 Computer Search
 3 Darkrai GX  1 N  1 Field Blower
 1 Malamar EX  2 Guzma  2 Fighting Fury Belt
 1 Tapu Lele GX  1 Hex Maniac  2 Trainers’ Mail
 2 Shaymin EX  1 Colress  3 Battle Compressor
 1 Yveltal (XY)  4 Dark Patch
 1 Hoopa EX  4 Ultra Ball
 1 Oricorio  3 Max Elixir

This again is pretty similar to the list posted in the last Expanded article, but this time we have an Oricorio for the Night March matchup. I think with the Oricorio the matchup is about 55/45 in Darkrai’s favor. It isn’t a huge edge, but it’s satisfactory. If you are more concerned about Night March, you might consider cutting the 3rd Darkrai GX for a Rescue Stretcher (to use Oricorio twice). I may be underrating the matchup slightly because the Trainer’s Mails actually make a pretty big difference in that matchup. That extra speed and consistency are what you need to beat Night March.

For those who don’t understand the Malamar tech, this is simply a way to allow you to Dead End with Darkrai GX. It’s a great way to take one-shot especially on high HP targets like a Turtonator, or an opposing Darkrai EX with a Fury belt. Other than that (and the Oricorio), the Pokemon is pretty normal.

Two Sky Field is not perfect, but it works. I want a third. If I were to cut the Mails, a third Sky Field would be one of the cards I add.

This deck plays a fairly thin Supporter line because this deck wins games in a short number of turns in general. It also plays a couple Shaymin with a Battle Compressor engine, which makes supporters less important. The high number of playable items thins the deck well too. I think three Juniper and one N is fine. Although, I would add another N if I were to cut the Mails.

Field Blower is weird to me because I feel like one copy is mediocre, but two is too much. And at the same time, I do not want to play none because I know Garbodor just becomes an impossible matchup, and Fury Belts become a real issue. One is a compromise, sort of like every other card in the list.

I used to play Muscle Bands over Fury Belts, but now that Night March and Volcanion are the decks to beat, I cannot see Muscle Bands in the deck. Against Night March they are forced to discard several Night Marchers to take the knock out, or hit Field Blower. Either way you force them to push their deck more, which allows you to either run them out of resources or use Oricorio.

I am usually a proponent of a higher energy count in this deck, but in Expanded I rarely need more than twelve Energy. And with a very tight list, the thirteenth Dark does not seem as needed as the other 59 cards.

This is a great deck for players that do not feel comfortable in Expanded. I do not want to say it is an easy deck to play, but I will say I think it does not punish players as much for making misplays. You might want to consider this deck if you are not as confident with your play in Expanded.

Next, I want to talk a little bit about Greninja in Standard. The list that got second at Hartford Regionals was pretty inventive for a Greninja list, with several interesting techs. Michael deserves a lot of credit for this deck.

Michael Long’s Greninja

Pokémon – 20 Trainers – 30 Energy – 10
 4 Froakie  4 N  4 Ultra Ball  4 Splash
 4 Frogadier  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Evo Soda  6 Water
 4 Greninja  2 Skyla  2 Choice Band
 3 Greninja Break  1 Lillie  2 Field Blower
 1 Starmie  2 Enhanced Hammer
 1 Staryu  1 Rescue Stretcher
 1 Tapu Fini GX  1 Super Rod
 1 Espeon EX  3 Brooklet Hill
 1 Tapu Lele GX

This list has a lot in common with what Chris Siakala was playing for his League Cups last month. I’m not sure if Michael came to some of these conclusions on his own, or if he made his list from Chris’s. This is Chris’ version of the deck.

Chris Siakala’s Greninja

Pokémon – 18 Trainers – 32 Energy – 10
 4 Froakie  4 N  4 Ultra Ball  4 Splash
 4 Frogadier  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Evo Soda  6 Water
 4 Greninja  2 Skyla  3 Choice Band
 3 Greninja Break  2 Lillie  2 Field Blower
 1 Starmie  1 Guzma  1 Timer Ball
 1 Staryu  1 Rescue Stretcher
 1 Tapu Lele GX  1 Super Rod
 3 Brooklet Hill

With Chris’ version, we can clearly see a far more consistent build than Michael’s version, as he has cut almost exclusively consistency cards in favor of techs. He saw the downside to this type of the build in the finals at Hartford, but I’m sure he used those techs for many of his matchups. My version is hardly a list I can call my own. Here’s what I have sleeved up:

Michael Long + Chris Siakala

Pokémon – 19 Trainers – 32 Energy – 10
 4 Froakie  4 N  4 Ultra Ball  4 Splash
 4 Frogadier  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Evo Soda  6 Water
 4 Greninja  2 Skyla  2 Choice Band
 3 Greninja Break  2 Lillie  2 Field Blower
 1 Starmie  1 Guzma  2 Enhanced Hammer
 1 Staryu  1 Rescue Stretcher
 1 Tapu Lele GX  1 Super Rod
 1 Espeon EX  2 Brooklet Hill

Tapu Fini seems a little unneeded to me because Gardevoir is already a positive matchup. Fini is not going to make any other matchup positive, as far as I can see.

Enhanced is great because Gardevoir, Greninja, and all Garbodor variants play Specials.  Enhanced hits a good 75% of the meta hard, and the rest of the meta is positive matchups. Metagross and Volcanion are the only other “top tier” decks, and they both are very positive. Bulu Vikavolt is an exception because it is somewhat negative, and does not play specials.

Espeon seemed like a good card to include basically just for the mirror. Both players are going to keep retreating between Greninjas for a while. After a certain point, one of the players can simply de-evolve the Breaks and take two to four prizes at once. Take this with a grain of salt because I have not tested the Greninja matchup enough to know how reliable this strategy is. Frankly, one of the players can let their Greninjas get knocked out instead of retreating between different ‘Ninjas. I am unsure of Espeon.

Guzma is a great card in mirror and all around solid card. I probably do not need to tell you why Guzma is good. The card is extremely strong for the same reason in Greninja as it is in any other deck. It has the added benefit of giving you the option of knocking out Garbotoxin Garbodor if there is Po Town damage on it (as there often is).

I think the two Lillie are pretty important. One is just not enough in a deck that takes several turns to set up and is historically more inconsistent than any other deck since probably 2012.

Greninja is a great deck right now with positive matchups against most of the meta. Golisopod is a hard matchup, and so is Drampa Garb. Everything else is winnable or positive.

Speaking of Drampa Garbodor, that’s the next list I have for ya!

Drampa Garbodor

Pokémon – 15 Trainers – 33 Energy – 12
 3 Drampa GX  4 N  4 Ultra Ball  4 Double Colorless
 4 Trubbish  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Choice Band  8 Psychic
 2 Garbodor (Garbotoxin)  4 Guzma  4 Float Stone
 2 Garbodor (Trashalanche)  2 Lillie  1 Field Blower
 3 Tapu Lele GX  1 Brigette  1 Rescue Stretcher
 1 Espeon EX
 4 Po Town

This deck probably has the best Greninja matchup out of any deck out there, other than Golisopod. Espeon Garbodor is the other option, but the Greninja matchup is a lot worse with only one or even zero Drampa. Drampa does good work against Volcanion, as well allowing you to one-shot either Volcanion on Turn 2 in a pretty consistent fashion. Turtonator does present a bit of a problem though, so I do not want to call Volcanion positive just yet.

This list is almost pure consistency with just the one Espeon tech. The Espeon is great for the Gardevoir and Greninja matchup, which otherwise could be tough. There are a ton of evolution options in the meta at the moment which makes Espeon an easy addition. Po Town combines with it beautifully.

One addition I am considering in this list is a Tapu Koko. That spread could be nice against Turtonator, and in general, combines well with Espeon. The only thing holding me back is space in the list. Four Po Town is more necessary than you might realize, and so is the Lillie. This deck’s main issue is dead-drawing in the late game, which makes Lillie a great option. You could easily play Halas if you prefer, but to me Lillie is a lot less situational and works as a great Brigette alternative if you prize it or simply don’t draw an out to it.

Another card I desperately want to fit in is another Rescue Stretcher. Very frequently I wish I had the ability to recover a Trashalanche Garbodor or an Espeon EX. Right now I do not see a cut for it, but I will keep searching.

Espeon Garbodor is also a pretty good option because it has a better Volcanion matchup. Psybeam really messes with Turtonator, and Psychic can knock out Volcanion EX pretty easily. The 200 HP makes a big difference as well. This variant is tighter on space, which hurts, but I see Psybeam as powerful enough to warrant the dip in consistency.

Espeon Garbodor

Pokémon – 15 Trainers – 33 Energy – 12
 1 Drampa GX  4 N  4 Ultra Ball  4 Double Colorless
 3 Trubbish  4 Professor Sycamore  4 Choice Band  8 Psychic
 2 Garbodor (Garbotoxin)  4 Guzma  4 Float Stone
 1 Garbodor (Trashalanche)  2 Lillie  1 Field Blower
 3 Tapu Lele GX  1 Brigette  2 Rescue Stretcher
 1 Espeon EX
 2 Eevee  3 Po Town
 2 Espeon GX

This is basically the same list but with Espeon. Not much to change, really. The Garbodor skeleton is about 55 cards, so for me either variant stays very similar.

If you want to have more of a midway point between Espeon and Drampa, then you can swap one card out for a second Drampa. This will help with the Greninja matchup.

Again, Tapu Koko would be nice, but I cannot find the space. The second Rescue Stretcher is a potential cut, but really helps in a deck that only plays three Trubbish and three Garbodor. I like the Stretcher over another Trubbish in this list because having the option to recover Drampa or Espeon is crucial in the ‘Ninja matchup. But other times you need more Garbodor. Stretcher just gives you more options.

I think that is everything I have to say about these Garbodor lists. They are not anything too crazy, but they are more consistent than a lot of the other Garbodor lists out there.


Daytona is in just a few days and I am sure that Garbodor is my play. I will not be posting a pre-tournament list unless something very significant changes. I will update the list in this article if I change any cards before the event. My one concern is that the Volcanion matchup may not be as positive as I would like. I could see potentially adding something to change that.

Thanks for reading! Good luck at your next event.