Thinking Forward to Day 2 – Expanded Decks for Winter Regionals

Yveltal_animeFor the past few months, through City Championships, and many more hours of testing beyond that, players have been preparing intensely for the Winter Regional Championships. However, most of the testing and experience in the format that players have is in the Standard format, which is the most important format to do well in as it’s needed to make Day 2 or Top 8, but it’s a second format, Expanded, that we will have to show mastery in to take home the crown of Regional Champion.

If you’re like most players, your testing has probably ignored testing the Expanded format at all. The mindset of a lot of players is that it’s important to do well on Day 1, and then when they get to Day 2, they will figure it out the night before.

As a result of this mindset from the majority of the playerbase, the Expanded format is a bit of a mystery to most players, and the meta game is also largely undeveloped.

In this article, I am going to give a brief synopsis of the major decks that you should be thinking about in terms of the Expanded meta game, and then go over four decks that I think are viable plays for Day 2 of Winter Regionals.

The Expanded Meta Game

virizion-ex-plasma-blast-plb-96-full-artIt cannot go ignored that Virizion EX/Genesect EX was by far the most played and most successful deck in Expanded during the Fall Regional circuit. The deck was one that most players were comfortable with, and with Skyarrow Bridge back in the fold, it’s hard to find a much more consistent deck. I would expect a lot of players to continue on playing Virizion EX/Genesect EX for Day 2, so playing a deck with little hope of beating the deck would be unwise.

For this reason, Trevenant XY/Accelgor DEX probably won’t be that strong of a play in most areas, as you will likely have to play a Virizion EX/Genesect EX or two…or three along the way, which would make it very difficult to move on in the tournament.

20-pyroarIn response to the heavy play of Virgen, some players opted to play Pyroar FLF decks. I think the threat of Pyroar could decrease slightly the amount of Virgen decks that see play. I think Pyroar will always be a minority play, as it does carry bad matchups, and the players who play it are mostly trying to string together some auto wins to advance further on Day 2.

Empoleon DEX decks actually saw play at Fort Wayne Regional Championships as it has a solid matchup against Virgen, and obviously had a big advantage against the Pyroar decks that were likely to show up to combat the Virgen deck.

After Virgen, you can probably expect Yveltal EX decks to be the second most popular set of decks. The safe play for Yveltal EX will be to pair it with Garbodor DRX, as that gives you a built in response to Pyroar, and shuts down Virgens Abilities.

I believe Plasma Lugia also saw some play during Expanded in the Fall, and it’s worth noting that TDK also gains back Prism Energy, which makes it more consistent.

I think there are four newcomers that we can expect to make a splash into the Expanded format for Winter Regional Championships – Donphan PLS/Accelgor DEX, Seismitoad EX, M Manectric EX, and Ho-Oh EX decks.

accelgor-dark-explorers-dex-11Donphan PLS/Accelgor EX is actually a deck that saw play during Fall Regional Championships, but the deck wasn’t quite all the way there yet. The deck has already seen some success in Expanded in Europe, and just as Donphan gained in Standard, this deck has gained immensely from the release of Phantom Forces by gaining Robo Substitute. The deck typically plays a 3-3 Donphan PLS line, a 3-3 Accelgor DEX line, 3 Hawlucha FFI, and 4 Robo Substitute. By adding Accelgor DEX to the mix, Donphan now has an attacker that can make your opponent lose a turn of attacking via Paralysis.

To combat this, players should look into options to get around Paralysis, such as appropriate Switch counts, Keldeo EX, or Pokemon Center Lady.

seismitoad-ex-furious-fists-frf-20-ptcgo-1-312x441The next deck was also around during Fall Regional Championships, but it was horribly prepared to deal with a Virgen heavy format. However, with the addition of Head Ringer, Lysandre’s Trump Card, and more refined lists for the deck, Seismitoad EX decks are better equiped to deal with the Expanded format than they were in the Fall. I don’t think the Seismitoad decks that you see in Expanded should be very different than the ones you see in Standard. There just aren’t many rotated cards that you can add to the deck to make it any better, outside of maybe Super Rod to get Pokemon back, but even that is kind of redundant with Lysandre’s Trump Card being a staple in the deck.

m-manectric-ex-phantom-forces-phf-24-312x441M Manectric EX decks will probably see play to counter play Yveltal EX and Pyroar decks. I’m not sure there is any significant attackers that players will gain access to in Expanded, so we will probably see more of the M Manectric EX/Fighting and M Manectric EX/Yveltal EX decks we were already seeing play in Standard, just adjusted for rotated cards.

Lastly, a deck to watch out for will be Ho-Oh EX, which gains a big consistency boost with Battle Compressor, which can effortlessly send Ho-Oh EX to the discard pile for you on turn 1, as well as Manectric EX, which gives the deck a much stronger Yveltal EX counter than it had in the past.

I think that just about covers all the big decks that players are likely to see in Expanded. I’m really excited to see how the meta game plays out during this set of tournaments. While this is the big stuff you will probably see getting a lot of play, it’s possible that some players have been testing the format more extensively, and have found some decks that are a cut above the decks that are already on people’s minds. The Fall Regional meta game was very underdeveloped in Expanded though, so it’s possible players just aren’t testing it, and the meta game doesn’t develop far past the obvious.

Landorus EX/Ether

landorus-ex-full-art-boundaries-crossed-bcr-144The first deck I have in Expanded is a Landorus EX deck that uses Ether. This is a deck my friend Edan had championed during the Fall format, and it has proven to be very aggressive in my testing. An interesting note, is that before Boundaries Crossed, a lot of players were testing Landorus EX/Ether decks with some pretty good results relative to what the format was expected to be. However, Ether was cut from the set and pushed back to Plasma Storm, where it fell out of favor and players instead opted to use the Laser Bank combo to boost their attacks damage.

Here is my list for the deck:

Pokemon – 11

3 Landorus EX
2 Hawlucha FFI
2 Terrakion NVI
2 Lunatone PLS
1 Voltorb FLF
1 Electrode PLF

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
1 Lysandre
1 Lysandre’s Trump Card
3 VS Seeker
4 Bicycle

1 Computer Search
2 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
2 Switch
1 Escape Rope
1 Max Potion
4 Ether
3 Pokedex
3 Muscle Band

2 Fighting Stadium

Energy – 11

7 Fighting
4 Strong

This deck is basically the straight Fighting variant we saw some of in the Fall format, with an added touch of Energy acceleration via Ether.

ether-plasma-storm-pls-121-ptcgo-1-312x441Ether is incredibly strong when paired with Fighting Pokemon. Gaining an extra Energy in a turn lets you pull off more Lands Judgments for 150 (boosted to higher numbers via your damage modifiers). Additionally, it works really well with Terrakion NVI too, as you can set those up to use Retaliate in one turn. Terrakion’s Retaliate is incredibly strong with the Fighting support that we got. With a Muscle Band, Strong Energy, and Fighting Stadium Terrakion is already getting to 150, which is more than enough to finish off EX’s if you were able to soften them up with Hammerhead earlier in the game.

pokedex-black-white-blw-98-ptcgo-1-312x441To make Ether more consistent, we play 3 Pokedex, which lets you look at the Top 5 cards of your deck and re-arrange them in any order. The downside to Pokedex is that you need both it and Ether in hand to make much use of it, so it is a combo that will be somewhat inconsistent. For this reason, we also play Lunatone PLS, which lets you look at the top 2 cards of your deck and put them back in any order.

In addition to setting your Energy in place for Ether, Lunatone and Pokedex also work as consistency boosters, letting you optimize your upcoming draws for your next turns, or for when you play a draw Item or Ability.

lysandres-trump-card-phantom-forces-phf-99-312x441With Ether, we want as many opportunities to hit extra Energy, so I have a copy of Lysandre’s Trump Card to create an infinite loop with the deck, allowing you to have the possibility to gain extra attachments throughout the game. To make use of this, I have included Bicycle and Electrode PLF to give us extra draw to scroll through the deck faster.

This deck is just a pure beat down deck, aimed at overwhelming your opponents with early KO’s and ending the game early. It’s aggressiveness also can help you in avoiding ties in the 50 minute, best of 3. The deck does take an auto loss to Pyroar FLF, so that’s something to recognize, but it is very strong against most EX heavy decks.

Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik NVI

eelektrik-noble-victories-nvi-40-312x429This was my play for the Fall Regional Championship. I thought the deck was a strong play in what turned out to be a very Virgen heavy meta game, but unfortunately I was unable to play it in the actual tournament. I did pilot it for the Expanded League Challenge, which had over 90 players and finished 2nd at 6-1, with my only loss being to Landorus EX/Dusknoir BCR, in which I started Colress as my only Supporter (with both of us having 0 benched Pokemon) and had a Tynamo knocked out by a Landorus EX on turn 1.

Here is my current list for the deck:

Pokemon – 14

3 Tynamo NVI 38
1 Tynamo  DEX 45
4 Eelektrik NVI
3 Rayquaza EX
1 Rayquaza DRX
1 Raikou EX
1 Keldeo EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
1 Colress
1 Lysandre
1 Xerosic
3 VS Seeker

1 Computer Search
4 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Battle Compressor
1 Max Potion
1 Switch
1 Startling Megaphone
2 Super Rod
3 Float Stone

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

4 Fire
7 Lightning

This list is heavily based off of the Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik NVI list that made the finals of the World Championship in the Senior Division a few years ago, just updated for the current format. 4-4 Eelektrik is essential for this deck, as you’re discarding your Energy every turn, so you will want to have a lot of Eelektrik on the field to re-power your attackers.

victini-noble-victories-nvi-15Room got tight in this list, which has led me to cutting my V-Create Victini from the list, which is a good tech for beating Virgen decks, as well as more obscure Metal decks. It’s also a good attacker for knocking out smaller stuff like Sableye DEX to start the game. I don’t think it’s actually needed to beat Virgen, as the deck doesn’t deal well with having their Pokemon knocked out every turn once you get going, but it does still improve the matchup further.

I think cutting some of the techs from the deck to run a high enough count of early game Supporters, along with VS Seekers is the right decision, as VS Seeker greatly increases the consistency of the deck. As a result of moving to the VS Seeker engine, I have also switched my Ace Spec from Dowsing Machine to Computer Search to boost early game consistency. Dowsing Machine is nice for re-using cards like Max Potion and Startling Megaphone, but I think Computer Search is the right play as it gives you better early game consistency, and if you get a good setup, it’s difficult for other decks to keep up.

Raikou EX is important in here as it lets you snipe Garbodor DRX with Volt Bolt, allowing you to clear a Garbodor from the field without needing Lysandre in hand at the same time. It also gives you a type counter to Yveltal EX.

rayquaza-dragons-exalted-drx-85Rayquaza EX is your main attacker, it does 60 damage times the number of Fire or Lightning Energy you discard. With three Energy, you do 180 damage, and you can even knockout Mega EX’s by adding a 4th Lightning onto a Rayquaza EX.

Keldeo EX and Float Stone is very strong in here, as it lets you play off the field really well, allowing you to better utilize N against your opponents. Keldeo EX allows you to get by with a field that includes just one Rayquaza EX, letting you Rush In, then use Dynamotor, and then retreat back to the same Rayquaza EX for another Dragon Burst. This increases the deck’s consistency by making it less likely you miss a turn of attacking by whiffing a Fire Energy to attack with a different Rayquaza EX.

rayquaza-legendary-treasures-ltr-93-312x444Mini Rayquaza gives you an attacker to knockout Safeguard Pokemon, as well as Pyroar FLF. the Pyroar matchup is a bit tricky, but Rayquaza can trade 2HKO’s with it, and you can use Max Potion to wipe the damage off of a Rayquaza at some point. You then have 2 Super Rod that you can use to get it back. Whenever your opponent isn’t attacking with a Pyroar, you can use Rayquaza EX to OHKO their backup attackers with ease. If you expect to see a lot of Pyroar, I’d play two of these guys.

One last note, is that this deck plays Tropical Beach. Tropical Beach is absolutely needed in the deck to let you get off to explosive starts when paired with the high ball counts. In the League Challenge I played this at, I was able to attack for KO’s in all of my games except the one loss. If you don’t have access to Tropical Beach, this is a deck you should not play.

Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX

I won’t write too much about this deck, as I recently wrote an article on it, and I can link you to it and you can read that. This is actually a carbon copy of one of my Standard versions of the deck, as there aren’t any cards that you gain in Expanded that I would want to play over the 60 cards I was already playing in the Standard format.

Here is the list I would want to play for Expanded:

Pokemon – 9

4 Seismitoad EX
1 Charizard EX
2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR

Trainers – 45

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
1 Lysandre
1 Team Flare Grunt
1 Cassius
1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

1 Computer Search
3 VS Seeker
4 Bicycle

3 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Crushing Hammer
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Switch
1 Max Potion

3 Muscle Band
2 Float Stone
2 Head Ringer

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 6

4 Double Colorless
2 Water

CharizardEXFlashfire12I think this is actually one of the safest plays that can be played in Expanded. The Pyroar matchup shouldn’t be overly difficult thanks to Garbodor and Item lock, and the Yveltal EX matchup should get better as Yveltal moves back to a more Item based approach.

While Virgen won’t be an auto win, I don’t think the matchup is much worse than a 50/50 with Charizard EX in the deck. With Charizard EX, as long as you have Garbodor on the field, you can OHKO their Pokemon with a Muscle Band and a Hypnotoxic Laser with Wing Attack. I think Charizard EX with Head Ringer and Hammers raining down upon them is difficult for them to deal with, and can win you games.

Yveltal EX/Bouffalant DRX

yveltal-ex-xy-144-pokegymThis is the deck I have been playing around with the most in Expanded, and think it’s deals well enough with most matchups in the format. It doesn’t have any overwhelmingly positive matchups, but it doesn’t really have any terrible matchups either. I think Trevenant/Accelgor and a Toad/Hammers deck would be the only matchups I really wouldn’t want to play with this deck, and I don’t expect either of those to be very popular in Expanded.

This was one of my favorite decks to play this past Spring and Summer, so I have a lot of experience playing the deck, and am happy I can play it again in Expanded.

Here is my list for the deck:

Pokemon – 6

3 Yveltal EX
1 Darkrai EX
2 Bouffalant DRX

Trainers – 43

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
1 Lysandre
1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

1 Random Receiver
4 Bicycle
3 VS Seeker

3 Ultra Ball
2 Switch
4 Dark Patch
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Energy Switch
1 Battle Compressor
1 Max Potion
1 Scramble Switch

3 Muscle Band
1 Silver Bangle

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

7 Darkness
4 Double Colorless

The first thing to note is that I have completely cut Sableye DEX from this list. I think Lysandre’s Trump Card is plenty as far as resource recovery goes, and by cutting Sableye, you no longer are going to be losing turns to recovery, and instead will be looking to attack every turn of the game from turn 2 on.

bouffalant-dragons-exalted-drx-110Bouffalant DRX is an incredibly strong attacker and puts a lot of pressure on any EX heavy deck. With a Muscle Band, Virbank City Gym, and Hypnotoxic Laser, you can OHKO 170 HP EX’s with Gold Breaker. I also included a single Silver Bangle to provide the option to OHKO 180 HP EX’s. Bouffalant is also your answer to Safeguard Pokemon, being able to do 80 damage with a Muscle Band, which can go up to 110 with a Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym, which is good to knockout both Sigilyph and Suicune.

The deck may look like it just takes an auto loss to Pyroar, as it plays all Basic Pokemon, but that isn’t the case. What you do against Pyroar decks is send up Bouffalant and random EX’s to soak up damage, while looping your Hypnotoxic Laser throughout the game with Lysandre’s Trump Card. You’re also able to get back your Max Potion when you use Trump Card, which allows you to heal off damage that they may have placed on your Pokemon to prevent KO’s. The strategy takes a little getting used to, but I’ve found it to be quite successful in dealing with Pyroar decks.

One thing to note, is that Pyroar can shut down this strategy if the play Sparkling Robe. Startling Megaphone or Xerosic could be added to the deck to work around this.

Lastly, Keldeo EX might be worthwhile in the deck to break out of Sleep and Paralysis lock. However, I think 2 Switch, and the 1 Scramble Switch, along with looping them with Trump Card should provide a decent enough work around to this. If you’re really worried about this though, Keldeo EX might be worth finding room for.

scramble-switch-plasma-storm-pls-129I went with Scramble Switch as my Ace Spec, as I think it’s a major game changer, especially with Trump Card now in format letting you make game breaking mass Energy movements multiple times in a game. Scramble Switch lets you power up massive Yveltal EX’s seemingly out of nowhere by consolidating the Energy of two Pokemon into one, and it also can be used to power up Darkrai EX in a single turn. At its worst, it can at least provide you a third Switch.


I’ve actually really grown to like the Expanded format the more that I tested it. In testing it, I actually started to notice a bit of a generational divide that had developed in the game with the new influx of players. When playing against some newer players in the Expanded format, it’s obvious that they don’t always recognize how certain cards go together, or how certain Pokemon matchup with others. I actually started playing when Black and White was the newest set, so I’ve been with these cards for the entirety of their existence. Players who just started playing last season or this season might not be aware of all the card interactions, which can give a small edge to more veteran players.

I’m not quite sure which deck I’ll settle on for Expanded, but it will most likely be one of Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik NVI, Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX, or Yveltal EX/Bouffalant DRX. If I sense the meta ending up being Virgen heavy again, I may pull the trigger and play RayEels. Otherwise, I think there is a good chance that I play Yveltal EX/Bouffalant DRX. I absolutely adore the deck, and would love to play it in a tournament again. However, I must heavily consider Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX for my play, as it seems to have the most well rounded matchups out of the decks I’m considering.

Either way, I expect to have a lot of fun playing Expanded, it’s really growing on me. Hopefully I will still be in the main event this time around, but even if I’m just playing in the League Challenge again,  I’m sure it will be plenty of fun.

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