Expanded Theory; Zoroark Golisopod for San Jose Regionals

This article covers my Golisopod Zoroark list, with a shorter section on Gardevoir towards the end. The Golisopod section covers the overall strategy of the deck, with in-depth matchup descriptions. This article should give you pretty much every you need for the deck with a list explanation and commentary on why it is the best play right now. Before I get into the decks I want to cover some general principles surrounding Expanded, and how they apply to San Jose.

Raw Power

This is a concept that is emphasized in more broad diverse metas. In a meta where there is three to five deck, players can go with something that “just seems like a good meta-call”, but in a format where there are six to ten decks, you cannot play a meta counter and expect to do well. Instead, we should rely on raw power; the actual stats and benefits that a deck has, such as the HP level, damage output, consistency and resilience to techs. The last aspect is one that many people miss when they measure raw power. For example, Rayquaza is a deck that players say has the most raw power because it is very consistent and hits for a massive 240 damage!

This is a very underdeveloped concept of power because it misses the point of resilience to techs. Sudowoodo is a (somewhat) commonly played card that presents a huge problem for Ray. Garbotoxin is another issue, and so is Trashalanche. This is why we have to include the tech resilience aspect; otherwise what has the most raw power is completely different, and really just tells us nothing of use. Golisopod Zoroark is the deck with the most tech resilience in my opinion and this is why I love the deck; because there are not good one or two card techs for it. But more on this aspect of Goli/Zoro later in the article.

Night March has a relatively similar issue to Ray in that one card can be teched in decks easily to give it big problems. But I see this as less of an issue for Night March because more can be done to deal with Oricorio, such as waiting to discard Pokemon or playing Pokemon Stretcher. Ray, on the other hand, cannot do well without a big bench.

High HP is a great trait that we are seeing more of now. 210 actually does not sound too remarkable in this new format which really speaks to how commonly we are seeing high HP Pokemon. But on a Stage 1 this is still something I am in awe of. This is an easily overlooked trait that certainly is part of what gives some decks power. Again this is something Golisopod has. There are several other power traits out there that needn’t be detailed here; the point is that we should expand what we view as raw power further than only consistency and damage output. A narrow view of power leads us to use suboptimal decks and ignore archetypes that have disguised utility.


These are far less important in expanded. People will play anything in this format, and I mean anything. Even in day two when the more “out-there” options are flushed out, we still see new and diverse archetypes. This is why I say meta-predictions are not as valuable. Instead, players should be focussing on power as I just discussed. Having a general meta idea is good so that you can have an idea of what to test against; however, do not use these meta predictions to change cards in your list much. This is why I am firmly against cards like Giratina (PR) and Comfey. Do not include cards that only help in one or two matchups, but serve as dead cards against everything else. This one of the key signs of a poor decklist.

The “secret” hype deck

The ironic part about the concept of a secret best play is that the secret always gets out and it becomes a big concern for many players unnecessarily. In general, you should be far less concerned about a deck that people are excited about unless the deck does have substantial placements at past events. An exception to this is when a new set drops because the new cards haven’t had a chance to prove themselves yet. Garbodor is a great example because for the first Regionals it was legal, about 40% of the meta was Garbodor decks.

Sableye, on the other hand, reminds me of the predictions I hear from people about the end of the world. The rhetoric I hear from people is surprisingly similar. In 2012 the Mayan calendar suggests the end of time, people legitimately thought we were going to all die once Trump was elected from a nuclear attack; we hear radical claims like this all the time. But none of the excitement has proven any results. I do not think Sableye is good this time, but that will not stop people from going bonkers over it. Sableye is just the newest iteration in a trend we have seen since Pokemon started.

The disappointing truth that many players must realize is that the meta decks are the best option almost every time. Winning a Regionals with a rogue or underplayed deck sounds nice, but happens once in a lifetime.

Will Sableye Garbodor be played?

Players have a tendency to get very excited about a deck, but when push comes to shove they falter back to whatever they are most comfortable with. Sableye has a big skill gap which takes the vast number of players away from using it. Although, in the case of a player using it suboptimally, good play on your part should be enough to beat it. This means the only real concern you should have about Sableye is good players using the deck, and there will be few. During day two is where you could be more concerned about Sableye, but day two is exactly where Sableye struggles.

Sableye is also a deck that thrives on people miss-playing against it. If you are playing well against Sableye, it should seldom be an issue for any deck you choose to play. If somehow you are playing a deck that really struggles against it, I could see a one card tech at the most. In short, some people will play Sableye but don’t worry about it too much. Maybe test one set against it before the event if you have time. Personally, I think it is fun to test against because one slip up from me can easily lose me the game. The pressure is enjoyable so I end up testing against it more than the average person. Using the deck is fun too, but I would never play it for an event in this format.

Why Golisopod Zoroark over straight Zoroark?

The simple answer is the Garbodor and Gardevoir matchups. Having a one energy attacker that diverts attention away from your draw engine makes a huge difference in the Gardevoir matchup. Golisopod is a card that I have always seen as part of a plan to counter Gardevoir because it is not easily one-shot, and it pairs well with Acerola. Golisopod stays alive until the Gardevoir player can develop six energy on one Garde.

Then, of course, straight Zoroark is dissolved by Gallade otherwise. Having to attack with Zoroark against Gardevoir is a huge pain. So, not only is Golisopod a good attacker in the matchup, but it takes away the need to use a very bad attacker in the matchup.

Garbodor variants have always struggled with Golisopod decks. The ability to do damage, and then heal any damage it takes in return really makes it hard for Garbodor to do much. My build also has fewer items than many other Zoroark lists, with tons of supporters. This means Garbotoxin is going to be less of an issue for this build since it can keep drawing cards even without Trade. There are a couple other inclusions in the list that help, but I will talk more about those in the matchup description. Crossing Cut is another big benefit because it allows for a one-shot on Necrozma, Drampa, or Lele.

Again, having an attacker that diverts attention away from Zoroark is huge. This is the main reason I do not like straight Zoroark; your draw support is always in jeopardy because it is attacking. This leads you to have to stretcher over and over setting up new Zoroarks because they keep getting knocked over. Sure it is a bigger HP attacker so they are not getting KO’d every turn, but facing a Gallade they very well may be. This version of the deck also has less available counters. Parallel City, Hex Maniac, and Sudowoodo are all good counters to straight Zoroark but do not hurt the Golisopod version much. Golisopod and the cards surrounding it get rid of many of the weaknesses or flaws that Zoroark Sky Field has.

This is the list I am playing on Saturday:

private accessYou must have a Stage 2 Membership or greater to see the rest of this post. If you don't have a Stage 2 account, you can Sign Up for one here.