The next major event is Dallas Regionals, which of course will be Expanded. Several bans along with a new set becoming legal means we will be playing in a dramatically different format from Portland. ZoroGarb took a big hit from the bans with the loss of Lt. Surge, Reset Stamp, and Red Card. However, the archetype that lost more than any other is Control. If we take a look at Michael Pramawat’s second place list from Portland, there are three cards in that list (five spots total) which are now banned. Players are suggesting that these bans make Control unplayable, but I don’t agree. Chip-chip being banned hurts, but Hiker and Trick Shovel are still around. Reset Stamp was huge for the deck, but N was the sole way to have this same effect for years. The only damage that I would argue might be irreparable is losing Lt. Surge, because the card really has no replacement. Control archetypes existed before these cards were printed and I doubt that losing them is enough to stop control from being viable. Remember that there are new cards which control decks can benefit from as well. In particular, Bellelba & Brycen-Man should make a big impact in at least one of the control archetypes. The drawback that comes with Bellelba of discarding cards from your own deck can be mitigated by the fossils, which ensure you do not deck-out (Plasma Blast has three fossil Pokemon with the Ability: Prehistoric Call). You can’t be hurt from discarding three off your deck if you have no deck!
I am not confident that Pidgeotto/Zoroark Control has viability anymore. When testing updated versions of these decks, I found that losing Surge has made hand-locking (as it was done at Portland) very difficult. Although, we have to remember that this form of control is just one version of hand-lock, and hand-lock is not nearly the only form of control. Seismitoad is an example of a control deck that can regain a place in the meta. The control cards that were legal over the last few months have been so incredibly strong that item locking was not as powerful as spamming Reset Stamp, Chip-chip, Mars, etc. Players misinterpreted this switch in control archetypes as Toad finally not being strong enough. Today we are back to a position somewhat similar to last year around this time. Trevenant’s new equivalent is RowletEggs, Archie’s Blastoise is in a good position to regain footing, Night March could come back, and even Groudon looks good with Guzma & Hala giving the deck a huge buff. The way I am looking at Dallas this year is with regard to last year’s Portland Regionals, which Jimmy Pendarvis won piloting Toad Zoroark.
In this piece I focus on Seismitoad Zoroark as a way to revamp control, but you should not forget that there are tons of other control decks in Expanded that could be played; Sableye Garbodor, Big Basics Stall, Toad Garb, Dramp Garb, and Wailord EX Stall are a few of these decks that we should remember still could be viable. The other deck I planned to cover here is what I believe I am most-known for: Zoroark Garbodor. At this point I am starting to feel like the Tyler Schmuggerow of ZoroGarb. It won the last Regionals, has been a top tier deck for at least two seasons straight, and is looking to be very strong once again. There will be a new article on that deck soon, but for this piece we are only looking at Toad Zoro.
Let’s get to it.
Why you should consider Seismitoad Zoroark
Toad was hurt by the bans far less than Pidgeotto & Zoroark control decks because the lock that Toad has is not based around controlling your opponent’s top-deck or number of cards in hand. Instead, you establish your lock on your second (sometimes even your first) turn, just by announcing Quacking Punch. This means that Red Card, Reset Stamp, and Lt. Surge’s Strategy are not needed for your lock, and therefor losing those cards from Expanded doesn’t harm you much. Special Energy are being played in many of the popular decks which has made me more attracted to Toad Zoro because it abuses Enhanced Hammer and Faba better than most other control decks, frequently making it impossible for your opponent to even attack by the later stages of a game. Remember that they cannot play Special Charge under item lock, and most Energy aceleration in Expanded is based around items. Another new benefit the deck gains that almost nobody seem to be aware of, is Professor Oak’s Set Up serving as a significant buff to the previously played Pokemon Fan Club.
Item lock gives you the potential to beat anything and that is in a big part why Toad has seen success since it was printed. It is not easy to deal with Toad or figure out how to play against it either. The high number of different Supporters and denial items in Toad Zoro make it almost impossible to predict what will hit you next; nobody can play around Skull Grunt, Plumeria, Flare Grunt, Bellelba, and N all at once. Even if your opponent actually knows what to do against Toad, you can easily play your first turn in a way that leads them to assume you are playing a different Zoroark deck. The surprise factor is always significant, but more so with a Toad deck because item locking a player who had no idea that they were not going to be able to play VS Seeker, Ultra Ball, or Pokegear can easily make them start dead drawing right from the start of a game.
That’s enough analysis and background information. I think you guys are ready for a list.