“Got Any Trades?”: Zoroark GX’s Viability in Expanded

Hey, Cut Or Tap readers!  I’m really happy to be back writing again!  I have taken a pretty long break from writing because school is starting up, but I should be able to write a little more frequently from now on.

Today I am going to talk about Zoroark GX in Expanded and why I believe it is the best deck to play in San Jose by a huge margin.  I am sadly not going to be in attendance, but I still spent a lot more time testing this deck than I have been testing other decks for Standard.  First off, let’s break down Zoroark GX as a card in isolation.

I love that Pokemon printed a card like this.  Having another consistency card that can attack with a good bit of bulk is great for the format.  Trade is one of the best Abilities printed in a while; it was previously seen on Empoleon DEX.  Unlike Empoleon, though, Zoroark is a Stage 1, making it much easier to set up for any deck.  Furthermore, Riotous Beating is basically a Raichu XY’s Circle Circuit with 20 extra damage.  This extra 20 allows Zoroark to hit for 120 (150 with Choice Band) with five benched Pokemon, and 180 (210 with Choice Band) with eight benched Pokemon (with Sky Field)!  Trickster GX is also an incredible asset in many games, being able to copy any attack on your opponent’s board.  I have used it to copy everything from Dangerous Rogue GX to Sky Return, all swinging the tides of many games.

Zoroark GX  decks can seamlessly integrate both Zoroark BKT and/or Zoroark BLW.  Both of these cards add a lot of value to any Zoroark deck, allowing you to utilize Stand In for switching, Mind Jack for other high bench size decks, Nasty Plot to find any card you may need, and Foul Play to copy any attack on your opponent’s Active Pokemon.  Both of these attackers can help with lots of other matchups, including M Rayquaza, Sableye/Garb, Turbo Turtles, Zoroark/Lycanroc, and Shock Lock.

After thinking about all of the tools Zoroark GX has at its disposal, I thought that it would be much better to build a Zoroark GX deck with no real gimmicks like Lycanroc GX or Alolan Muk – just a straight consistency list built to win games that it really should not win, based on sheer consistency and raw power.  I am really excited about this deck and I think it has massive potential going forward for San Jose.

Here’s the list!

Pokémon – 19 Trainers – 34 Energy – 7
4 Zorua DEX 3 Professor Sycamore 4 VS Seeker 4 Double Colorless
3 Zoroark GX 2 N 4 Ultra Ball 3 Darkness
1 Zoroark BKT 2 Guzma 3 Choice Band
1 Zoroark BW 2 Brigette 2 Float Stone
4 Tapu Lele GX 1 Colress 2 Field Blower
2 Exeggcute PLF 1 Hex Maniac 2 Rescue Stretcher
1 Shaymin EX ROS 1 Special Charge
1 Seismitoad EX 1 Computer Search
1 Sudowoodo GRI
1 Oricorio GRI56
4 Sky Field

I have found this list to be incredibly tight after working on it for a really long time.  As of now, I am set on including every single card in this deck, except maybe Dark Energies and Seismitoad, but both have been putting in lots of work throughout testing.

Card Explanations

4-3/1/1 Zoroark

I choose to play this split only because I believe both Zoroark BKT and BLW are too good to not utilize.  My favorite Zoroark split for a while when testing was 4/0/0, but I decided to first try the Zoroark BKT when I noticed that other Zoroark decks ran counters to Sudowoodo and that Ross Cawthon’s Stoutland/Raichu deck (aka “Shock Lock”) was gaining some popularity.  I found very little use for Zoroark BKT originally but still saw the value that it brought to the deck.  

I only decided to include Zoroark BLW after realizing how bad our Sableye/Garbodor matchup was.  Being able to Foul Play for Junk Hunt to retrieve Special Charge allows us to never run out of Energy and infinitely attack their army of Sableye.  It is also incredibly good against decks that play an attacker with a very high-cost, high-damage attack that we can use for only a Double Colorless. Overall, I have really been enjoying this count, although I would still love to include a fourth Zoroark GX for consistency.

4 Tapu Lele GX

This deck is all about consistency, so playing four Tapu Lele GX allows it to run like a well-oiled machine almost every game.  Using Brigette on Turn 1 is integral to our strategy.  Without Brigette, setting up as fast as other Expanded decks is a challenge, so four Tapu Lele helps us locate one ASAP.  Tapu Lele can also find us Hex Maniac, Guzma, N, or anything else we may need in the moment.  Lastly, it counts as one of our precious Benched Pokemon, boosting Zoroark GX’s damage output.  You could probably get by with three Tapu Lele, but including four is definitely the optimal choice.

2 Exeggcute PLF

This is the third and final card that has a place in what I call the “Trinity of Consistency” that keeps this deck running better than anything else in the format.  Exeggcute can effortlessly fill the negative requirement of Trade, becoming a free card to discard whenever you want it to be.  With all of your Zoroark GX in play, Propagation coupled with Trade allows you to draw up to six cards whenever you so please!  This combination can completely nullify the effect of a late game N, giving you guaranteed access to eight cards if you were N’d to one and you have three Zoroark GX in play.  With Zoroark and Exeggcute’s draw power and Tapu Lele’s Supporter search power, this deck is one of the most consistent decks imaginable.

1 Shaymin EX ROS

I include one Shaymin only to help aid in setting up Zoroark fast, draw you out of a pinch, and fill one extra Bench spot.  It is a little bit funny that Shaymin was not included in my “Trinity of Consistency” even though it was the definition of consistency for over two years!  Shaymin is just a good card to include in many decks, so it found itself a home in here too.

Seismitoad EX

I included Seismitoad as a strong tech for any deck that takes a lot to set up.  For example, Gardevoir is a very poor matchup but an early Seismitoad can win us the game by locking them hard early on.  It is also very useful for Night March and Sableye/Garbodor.  Overall, Seismitoad is just a strong card that may or may not stay in the deck, but definitely plays its part when it is needed.

Sudowoodo GRI

Sudowoodo is really good for any Sky Field deck.  Having access to twice as many Bench spaces as your opponent makes a massive difference and Sudowoodo also helps to stop other Zoroark GX decks, Turbo Darkrai EX decks, and M Rayquaza EX decks.

1 Oricorio GRI 56

I never included Oricorio just to beat Night March; it was included to set up Knockouts, break Focus Sashes, and finish games with its powerful Supernatural Dance.  Many Expanded decks put a lot of Pokemon into their discard when executing their strategy, so Oricorio will always be a strong tech.  And of course, it is a great Night March tech, which can be important. 

4 VS Seeker

I choose to run four instead of three VS Seeker so that Supporters like Hex Maniac, Guzma, and N are easily accessible after being discarded.  This deck is really good at streaming Hex Maniac turn after turn, so four VS Seeker really helps to make it even easier to do.

3 Choice Band

Choice Band allows Zoroark to attack for 210 damage, knocking out Golisopod, Ninetales, Turtonator, other Zoroark, and much more.  Playing three Choice Band makes it much easier to draw into them off of Trade and helps if you are forced to discard a few Choice Band early on (or they are targeted with Field Blower).  Overall, playing three Choice Band has been a pretty good inclusion; I would only go to two if you want to add in a Muscle Band.

2 Float Stone

Since I decided to cut Darkrai EX DEX, playing two Float Stone became a must.  None of the Pokemon in this deck have a naturally free retreat cost, so being able to move them easily makes the deck’s operation much smoother.  Zoroark BKT can also take advantage of Float Stone with its Stand In ability, allowing you to move any Pokemon on your board in and out of the Active position.  I have considered playing three, but two Float Stone seems to be working well right now.

2 Field Blower

This deck’s Achilles Heel is getting N’d to a small hand with Garbotoxin in play and simply falling apart from there.  I have considered both including a third Field Blower and a Xerosic, but I have not had enough trouble with Garbodor decks to really justify it.  I would recommend trying out Xerosic instead of another Field Blower if you find that you have issues with Garbodor decks.

2 Rescue Stretcher

Including two Rescue Stretcher is great for a deck that may have to discard Pokemon if Sudowoodo and/or another Stadium comes into play.  I would not recommend lowering this count unless you plan on including Karen.

Computer Search

I have been back and forth between this and Dowsing Machine, but for now I have liked the early game consistency better.  Computer Search can help you find whatever missing card you need, while Dowsing Machine is usually better in the late game.  Both seem like viable options, so playing either should work fine, but Computer Search still seems better.

2 Brigette

Using Brigette on your first turn is incredibly important to this deck’s operation, so playing two copies of Brigette is necessary.  Do not cut either of these; playing two increases the deck’s consistency by leaps and bounds.

1 Colress

Colress is 100% the strongest drawcard in the deck after the first few turns.  By playing Colress with a large Bench and then using Trade, you should rarely miss the cards you need.  I have considered two Colress, but the second copy has seemed like a luxury card to me.  Never cut this card – it is definitely another integral piece in making the deck run smoothly.

1 Hex Maniac

I would love to have a second copy of Hex Maniac, using it on turns where you attack with full set-up is incredible.  Then, you can play your next turn out, drawing a ton of cards and setting up an even stronger board position, and then VS Seeker for Hex Maniac again!  This card can single-handedly win games; I would never cut it.

4 Sky Field

Even if I were to eventually consider Lusamine, I would still play 4 copies of Sky Field.  Not having Sky Field in play caps Zoroark GX’s damage at 150 with a Choice Band, so not having access to a Sky Field on a crucial turn can cost you a game.

3 Dark Energy

Having extra Energy allows you to power up Oricorio without using a Double Colorless and also allows you to utilize Zoroark’s GX attack.  I have considered not playing any Dark Energy and I am still actively testing it, but for now I have found a lot of use for the 3 Dark Energy.

Now that we have gone over the reasons why I play each card in this deck, I’ll get into the matchup descriptions. 

Matchup Explanations

Garbodor Toolbox – Favorable

Since Zoroark GX can OHKO a Garbodor without Sky Field and also resists Psychic, simply controlling your Item count should net you an easy win here.  Be sure not to bench too many Zoroark GX because Necrozma will come in and wreck your board.  Lastly, conserve Field Blower until you really need it because if you ever lose this matchup, it will likely be due to either a bad starting hand or being N’d to a low count while Garbotoxin is in play.

Night March – Favorable

Even though we do not play Karen, we include both Seismitoad EX and Oricorio in the deck.  N and Quaking Punch will win games, and even if they still find a Double Colorless, you can drop Oricorio for a late games sweep.  Prizing one or both of these cards can be problematic, but overall this matchup is pretty good.

Trevenant – Extremely Favorable

Setting up a single Zoroark with a DCE should quickly win you this matchup.  Zoroark is too tanky and kills every Trevenant they send active, so as long as you don’t run out of Energy you should be fine.

Turbo Darkrai – Favorable

This is the matchup I have tested the most, and even with my opponents playing Sudowoodo, I have found this matchup pretty easy to win.  Darkrai takes time to get enough Energy in play to take OHKOs, giving you time to put some chip damage in on Darkrai even if Sudowoodo is in play, possibly Guzma Sudowoodo for a knockout, or play Hex Maniac and fully fill your bench to OHKO a Darkrai.

Darkrai/Lasers – Favorable

With Stand In Zoroark in play, Poison does not stick for multiple turns.  They only have one chance to take a OHKO on Zoroark with Dead End while you can do so every turn.  Both of Darkrai GX’s attacks take three Energy, and even with Restoration, Dark Patch, Max Elixir, and manual attachments, Riotous Beating is still more efficient.  Try to play this matchup aggressively, benching both Stand In Zoroark and Sudowoodo.

Seismitoad/Seviper – Slightly Favorable

Once again, you have Stand In Zoroark to escape Poison, but this time you may never get a chance to put down your Float Stone.  Item Lock is always hard to deal with, but at least we have the powerful Trade engine to draw the cards you need without playing Items, while simultaneously discarding all the Items you do not want to see.  Playing Xerosic would probably improve this matchup but I am still on the fence about it because I have been beating it most of the time.

Golisopod/Garbodor – Slightly Favorable

The only issue with this matchup is Armor Press.  I have been using Oricorio to spread 20 damage on all of their Wimpod/Golisopod if they try to set up Armor Press, or just attaching Choice Band and OHKOing Golisopod if they do not.  Golisopod is also a pretty clunky deck, so you may be able to take a game off of it just by setting up more consistently than them.  Try to play this matchup similar to Garbodor Box, but extend a little more to get your precious Choice Bands for OHKOs.

Turbo Turtles – Very Favorable

Hex Maniac is your best friend here.  With a Choice Band, Zoroark can OHKO Turtonator with seven Benched Pokemon, or Zoroark BLW can KO Turtonator with a Choice Band just by copying Bright Flame!  Try your best to use Hex Maniac as often as you can; whenever you can OHKO their Pokemon and they cannot OHKO your Pokemon you are in a good position.

Sableye/Garbodor – Favorable

The key to beating Sableye is copying Junk Hunt with Foul Play whenever you are running low on resources, as well as using Seismitoad as often as possible.  Returning Special Charge to your hand with Junk Hunt gives you plenty of outs to more Energy, so Sableye should never be able to fully lock you out of the game.  Also, you should never really be losing to Sableye – at the worst you should be able to tie it.

Gardevoir GX – Very Unfavorable

Gardevoir has access to both a large attacker that resists Dark and a one prize attacker that can effortlessly OHKO Zoroark.  Your best chance at winning against Gardevoir is to attack with Seismitoad as much as you can.  Locking Gardevoir out of a game is sort of your only option.



As you can see, Zoroark is a very consistent deck and has a very strong matchup spread going into San Jose, so I would definitely consider it as a top option for the event.

I know this was a pretty quick article, but I really do feel like this deck is way too good to ignore going into San Jose.  If I were attending, I would 100% play this deck due to its consistency.  Thanks as always to all of my friends and teammates for helping me test Zoroark.  Thanks for reading and good luck to everyone competing in San Jose!