Expanded 2k18 – An Overview of Pokemon’s Expanded Format for the 2017-2018 Season

A couple weeks ago Pokemon announced the Regional Championship schedule for the 2017-2018 Play Pokemon Season. The first Regional Championship on the schedule in Fort Wayne, Indiana will be played using the Pokemon’s Expanded format. As a result of the first Regional of the year being Expanded format, it is imperative to get started at figuring out the Expanded format for this season.

In this article I am going to give an overview of the Expanded format based on the results of last year’s Expanded tournaments as well as what is being hyped as potential plays as a result of the releases of Guardians Rising and Burning Shadows. It’s important to note both of these sets and not just the most recent one as there has not been a major Expanded event since the release of Guardians Rising, so we don’t even know how that set impacted Expanded yet, let alone how the latest Expansion Burning Shadows impacts it.

While this overview of the Expanded format will be very in depth, it will not be comprehensive. The Expanded format spans more than six years of Pokemon TCG set releases, so there are hundreds of decks. While decks such as Kingdra/Greninja and Team Plasma are technically decks of the Expanded format, neither deck has done anything of relevance in the last year, so decks like these will not be mentioned in this article, only stuff relevant to competitive play.

In this article I will go over Pokemon’s recent update to the Expanded ban list, the decks that are no more because of the ban list update, and then go over the decks that people can expect to be possible plays at the start of the season in the Expanded format.

For most of the decks I also included a deck list that did well at a Regional Champinoship last season, or in Japan at the Japan Championship. Some of these decks of course need updating, in particular Guzma and Tapu Lele GX should find their way into most of these lists, but for the most part they provide a solid basis for players trying to build these decks.

Table of Contents

The Dearly Departed

Expanded Decks

The Dearly Departed

For this season, Pokemon has started to release a quarterly update which includes any updates to their ban list. For the Expanded Format, Pokemon states that they are aggressively monitoring the format.

Prior to the quarterly announcement for the release of Burning Shadows, only two cards were on the Expanded ban list: Shiftry NXD and Lysandre’s Trump Card.

Two new cards were entered into the Expanded ban list. These cards are listed below along with Pokemon’s reasoning for the ban.

Forest of Giant Plants

The Forest of Giant Plants Stadium card enables many dangerous strategies with Grass-type Pokémon in the Expanded format. These strategies can range from locking down the opponent’s options to winning the game on the first turn, and all of them can happen before the opponent ever gets a chance to play. No single strategy was powerful enough to ban this Stadium card, but so many of them existing at the same time gave sufficient cause to ban it.

Archeops

The existence of Archeops’s Ancient Power Ability has a very negative effect on decks that rely on evolved Pokémon. There are ways to combat it—Hex Maniac, Evosoda, or Wobbuffet are a few examples—but decks that focus on evolved Pokémon are forced to use these cards just to evolve their Pokémon. The combination of Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick with Archeops can stop Evolution before the opponent ever gets a chance to evolve their Pokémon, which limits the number of viable strategies. Removing a different part of the combo (Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick or Battle Compressor was also considered, but banning Archeops impacted existing strategies the least, so that was the route that made the most sense.

With the banning of Forest of Giant Plants, Shiftry NXD was removed from the ban list. Shiftry NXD was banned from the game because of a turn 1 donk deck that came about when Forest of Giants Plants was released. With the help of Forest of Giant Plants, you could evolve into Shiftry NXD on the first turn of the game and use Shiftry’s Giant Fan Ability to remove your opponent’s Pokemon from play. This deck would aim to re-use this Ability as often as possible during the first turn of the game to win on turn 1. You can read about this deck in the articles linked below:

The Expanded format will certainly be shaken up by the ban list update. The ban of Archeops doesn’t really eliminate any decks from being played, but it takes away a key asset to some decks, such as Yveltal/Maxie’s, which can still function as an Yveltal/Gallade, or an Yveltal deck without Maxie’s.

The banning of Forest of Giant Plants, on the other hand, outright eliminates certain decks from being able to be played. While some of these decks technically can be played, as all the Pokemon are still legal, they were all built around using Forest of Giant Plants to evolve instantly through their Pokemon lines, often on the first turn of the game, so losing Forest effectively makes these decks non-viable in regards to competitive play.

Here are the decks we will be losing from the meta as a result of these bans.

Decidueye GX/Vileplume

Originally a Standard deck created by John Kettler, the creator himself ported the deck over to the Expanded format for the Collinsville Regional Championship, finishing 2nd place, losing to Alex Wilson and his M Rayquaza EX deck in a finals match that involved John prizing 3 Rowlet in game 3 of the finals.

The deck was almost the same in Expanded as it was in Standard. It was as about as close to a Standard deck with an Ace Spec thrown in as you can get.

The deck used Forest of Giant Plants to evolve into Decidueye GX and Vileplume AOR on the first turn of the game, if possible, otherwise shortly thereafter. The ideal turn 1 involved a Vileplume to block the opponent out of crucial resources. It’s not uncommon for Expanded decks to play low Supporter counts and high Item counts, so Vileplume was especially devastating in this format.

Then it would use Decidueye GX to spread damage around and setup knockouts with its Feather Arrow Ability, while using Decidueye GX itself or Lugia EX as attackers.

Lurantis GX/Vileplume

Lurantis GX/Vileplume AOR was the winner of the last Regional Championship held last season. Azul Garcia Griego won the Toronto Regional Championship with the deck.

The deck was a turn 1 Item lock deck built around using Vileplume’s Irritating Pollen Ability. It rushed Vileplume into play on the first turn of the game with Forest of Giant Plants. The deck had a speedy engine built around Battle Compressor and Revitalizer to quickly and consistently search out the combo on turn 1.

The deck then used Lurantis GX as an attacker. Lurantis GX’s Flower Supply did 40 damage, and then accelerated two Energy from the discard pile to this player’s Pokemon. This worked great with the 4 count of Battle Compressor as you could discard Grass Energy with Battle Compressor to be accelerated with Lurantis GX. Lurantis GX then had Solar Blade for 120 damage and Chloroscythe GX for more substantial attacks.

The deck was able to act as a tank deck thanks to Forest of Giant Plants letting the deck evolve up to a Lurantis GX in one turn. The deck utilized the Supporter AZ as a 4-of allowing you to heal off a damaged Lurantis GX and then instantly evolve back into it. Flower Supply allowed the deck to recycle any Energy discarded by AZ.

Seismitoad EX/Decidueye GX

Another Decidueye GX based deck. When Sun and Moon first was released, Seismitoad EX/Decidueye GX was hyped to be a replacement to Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF. That is, it was meant to be a superior Seismitoad EX + Damage Ability deck. The decks actually played quite differently from each other, and both had seen success after Decidueye GX’s release.

Seismitoad EX/Decidueye GX made Top 8 in Collinsville, with Alex Schemanske piloting it. However, in Toronto later in the format, Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF was the more successful Toad variant.

The deck utilized Forest of Giant Plants to be able to instantly evolve from a Rowlet into a Decidueye GX in a single turn.

The deck aimed to Item lock the opponent with Seismitoad EX’s Quaking Punch attack, and then supplement Quaking Punch’s damage with additional Ability based damage with Feather Arrow. The deck typically played backup attackers, such as Lugia EX and Miltank FLF.

Vespiquen/Vileplume

This deck is near and dear to our hearts at The Charizard Lounge, in particular because this is a deck that I created during the 2015-2016 season.

The deck is an all in Vespiquen deck that aims to go through just about the entire deck on turn 1 of the game, and then end its turn 1 by evolving into Vileplume to try to limit the opponent’s ability to properly play the game. The opponent had better hope that they draw well, as Vespiquen will be swinging for OHKO’s with its Bee Revenge attack starting from the very first turn of the game.

To achieve this, the deck uses Forest of Giant Plants to evolve to Vespiquen and Vileplume on the first turn of the game. The deck is pure speed, using Battle Compressor, Unown, Acro Bike, and Shaymin EX to quickly run through the deck in a single turn.

The deck was never too successful of an Expanded deck, but it did see quite a bit of success in the Standard format last season. Fred Hoban finished in the Top 8 of the 2016 US National Championship with the deck and Brandon Flowers finished in the Top 16 of the 2016 World Championship with it.

The deck got its sending off at the Collinsville Regional Championship where Steve Guthrie used it for a Top 32 finish at the largest Regional Championship ever held.

Expanded Decks

Accelgor/Wobbuffet

Accelgor/Wobbuffet emerged as the top Accelgor variant of the Expanded format during the past couple of seasons. The deck uses Accelgor DEX’s Deck and Cover attack to paralyze and poison the opponent’s Active Pokemon, and then it promotes Wobbuffet PHF for its Bide Barricade Ability to Ability lock the opponent, shutting off Abilities like Keldeo EX’s Rush In, taking away some of the opponent’s outs to your Ability lock.

Using a variety of damage modifiers: Virbank City Gym, Muscle Band, Choice Band (previously Silver Bangle), the deck could sometimes even complete a perfect lock where the opponent’s Pokemon was knocked out heading back into the Accelgor player’s turn, taking away turns of attacking from the opposing player.

Notable finishes for the deck last season were Mike Fouchet’s 2nd place in Philadelphia and Anthony Nimmons’ 5th place finish in Collinsville.

With the release of Burning Shadows, this deck looks to be very poorly positioned as we head into this season. The big thing negatively impacting this deck this season is going to be Guzma. The majority of decks will completely replace their Lysandre with Guzma, and with that, the majority of decks will have a solid counter card to this deck. As the deck already was a fringe deck, with some very close matchups, it would make sense that the deck becomes competitively non-viable with Guzma in format.

Anthony Nimmons’ Accelgor/Wobbuffet (St. Louis)

Pokemon – 21

4 Shelmet PLB
4 Accelgor DEX
2 Munna BCR
2 Musharna NXD
4 Wobbuffet PHF
2 Mew EX
1 Tauros GX
2 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore
3 N
1 Colress
1 Teammates
1 AZ
1 Lysandre
1 Hex Maniac
1 Xerosic

4 Ultra Ball
4 Level Ball
4 VS Seeker
1 Sacred Ash
1 Computer Search
1 Muscle Band
4 Float Stone

3 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Aerodactyl/Talonflame

This is one of the craziest decks in the Expanded format. Aerodactyl FCO/Talonflame STS had its only showing at the Collinsville Regional Championship where both Michael Canaves and Grafton Roll finished in the Top 32 with variants of the deck.

The ideal start for the deck is Talonflame STS. From there, the deck works on putting some Aerodactyl into play through the fossil mechanic with Old Amber Aerodactyl, using the Item card Fossil Excavation Kit to recycle Old Amber Aerodactyl back into the deck, giving it more opportunities to get Aerodactyl into play.

Aerodactyl does 120 damage for [C][C], which will 2HKO most Pokemon in the Expanded format.

The deck also played a Maxie’s Engine, and with it there were three targets: Gallade BKT, Archeops NVI, Marowak FCO. Gallade fits into the deck’s non-EX prize trade and can also hit Darkrai EX decks for Weakness. Marowak is used for its Bodyguard Ability which prevents the effects of Seismitoad EX and Giratina EX’s attacks, allowing you to play Items or attach Special Energy when Marowak is in play against these cards. Archeops was used for locking evolving, but this is banned and will need to be replaced in the deck.

With the release of Guardians Rising, Machoke GRI becomes an option to stop spread attacks and damaging Abilities for your benched Pokemon.

Michael Canaves’ Aerodactyl/Talonflame (St. Louis)

Pokemon – 13 

4 Aerodactyl FCO
3 Talonflame STS
2 Gallade BKT
1 Marowak FCO
1 Archeops NVI
1 Dunsparce XY
1 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 43

1 N
2 Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick
1 Professor Kukui
1 Lysandre

3 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Trainers’ Mail
4 Acro Bike
4 Puzzle of time
4 Battle Compressor
2 Maitenance
4 Old Amber Aerodactyl
3 Fossil Excavation Kit
1 Special Charge
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Computer Search
1 Muscle Band
1 Float Stone

1 Twist Mountain

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Archie’s Blastoise

When we first moved to the Expanded format as being a core format and not just something played on Day 2 of Regional Championships, Archie’s Blastoise was one of the top decks in format. We were coming off of Jacob Van Wagner’s win at the World Championship with the deck and in the early Regional Championships, Archie’s Blastoise was one of the top performing decks.

Since then, the deck has seen a decrease in play. This past season, it only made Day 2 twice, getting only a single Top 16 and a single Top 32 finish for the entire year.

The Sun and Moon sets have added some interesting new options for the deck, and this may actually be an under explored archetype in Expanded currently.

Lapras GX can be used in a Choice Band or Muscle Band variant of the deck to swing for OHKO’s while not having a lot of Energy on it.

Wishiwashi GX is a pretty big tank for a Basic Pokemon and its GX attack would give the deck a strong OHKO attack, but outside of the GX attack it’s fairly weak, so it may not be worth the space. Similarly, Tapu Fini GX would give the deck a strong snipe attack, but with Shaymin EX likely seeing less play as a result of the release of Tapu Lele GX, sniping opportunities for 120 damage on those will be less common than in past formats.

One small improvement to the deck is that it can now play Tapu Lele GX over Jirachi EX. This removes a two prize liability for the deck and replaces it with something that can be a powerful attacker for the deck.

Carbink BREAK/Zygarde EX

An invention of Some1’s PC’s Russell LaParre’s imagination, Carbink BREAK/Zygarde EX is a Fighting deck that aims to win a long and grinding game using healing to outlast the opponent.

The deck uses Focus Sash to prevent knockouts on its Pokemon. The opponent can get around this with Tool removal, but that only gets them around a few Focus Sash. With a 4 count, as well as 4 Puzzle of time and some lists playing Eco Arm, it’s very difficult to get past all the Focus Sash. And then when you didn’t knock something out, it gets healed off by Max Potion or AZ.

Hypnotoxic Laser can also be used to nullify Focus Sash, so in a format where that sees more play this deck becomes noticeably weaker.

Losing Energy is no issue in this deck as a Zygarde EX or Landorus EX gets powered back up by Carbink BREAK’s Diamond Gift, which accelerates two Energy cards from the discard pile.

Carbink Safeguard is used in the deck to make it even more difficult for the opponent to take knockouts by forcing them to use non-EX Pokemon, or have a Hex Maniac to do so. Carbink Energy Keeper is also a tech option in the deck for Energy removal decks.

Sam Chen’s Carbink BREAK/Zygarde EX (San Jose)

Pokemon – 11

4 Carbink FCO50
3 Carbink BREAK
2 Zygarde EX
1 Landorus EX
1 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 41

3 Professor Sycamore
4 N
3 Korrina
2 AZ
2 Pokemon Center Lady
1 Delinquent
1 Hex Maniac
1 Lysandre
1 Xerosic

1 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Puzzle of Time
4 Max Potion
1 Battle Compressor
1 Enhanced Hammer
1 Escape Rope
1 Computer Search
4 Focus Sash

2 Magnetic Storm

Energy – 8

4 Fighting
4 Strong

Darkrai EX/Dragons

Darkrai EX with Dragons is less of its own archetype and more of a sub archetype of the Turbo Darkrai EX deck. While the main variant of the deck focuses more on consistency, this variant of the deck adds Dragon Pokemon and Double Dragon Energy to the deck to give it more options.

On a base level, Double Dragon Energy has great synergy with Darkrai EX’s Dark Pulse attack. A single Double Dragon attachment gives you +40 damage with Dark Pulse, as it counts for two Darkness Energy.

The most common partner is Giratina EX. Giratina EX’s Chaos Wheel attack is a strong counter to Double Colorless decks such as Night March and Vespiquen/Flareon. Giratina EX can also be strong against M Rayquaza EX. Chaos Wheel can lock Parallel City in play and prevent the M Rayquaza player from attaching Double Colorless Energy to their Pokemon. Additionally, Giratina EX’s Renegade Pulse Ability prevents all damage from Mega Pokemon, forcing Mega Pokemon decks to have a Hex Maniac or some other form of Ability lock to damage it with their Mega Pokemon.

A more recent addition to the deck is Salamence EX. Its Beastly Fang attack is very strong against anything EX heavy, such as a Turbo Darkrai EX deck, and Dragon Strike is solid attack for knocking out non-EX Basic Pokemon like Yveltal BKT.

The Dragons add some versatility to the deck, giving it some strong answers against a few of the decks in the format that standard Turbo Darkrai EX decks don’t have. However, these do make the deck less consistent. As good as the Dragons can be in some matchups, the core of the deck is still based around using Darkrai EX’s Dark Pulse attack to swing for massive amounts of damage.

Marcus Guy’s Darkrai EX/Dragons (St. Louis)

Pokemon – 10

3 Darkrai EX BKP
1 Darkrai EX DEX
2 Giratina EX
1 Salamence EX
2 Shaymin EX
1 Hoopa EX

Trainers – 37

 

4 Professor Juniper
2 N
1 Colress
2 Lysandre
1 Hex Maniac
1 AZ

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
2 Trainers’ Mail
3 Max Elixir
4 Dark Patch
2 Escape Rope
1 Battle Compressor
1 Computer Search
2 Fighting Fury Belt
1 Float Stone

2 Parallel City

Energy – 13

4 Double Dragon
9 Darkness

Eelektrik/Raikou

During its Standard rotation, Eelektrik NVI was one of the most dominant forces in the game. In Expanded it has had a much more muted impact, but it has still found some success in Expanded by partnering with Raikou BKT.

The deck uses Eelektrik’s Dynamotor Ability to power up Raikou’s Thunder Lance attack, which does 50 damage plus 20 more damage for each Lightning Energy attached to Raikou. This damage output allows Raikou BKT to 2HKO EX and GX Pokemon fairly well. If a Raikou is given multiple turns to be accelerated to, that damage output can even increase to OHKO range against some stuff.

Some lists, like Michael Slutsky’s, have used the Maxie’s engine to add Gallade BKT in the deck. Other players, such as Andrew Mahone, took a more straight forward and consistent approach to the deck. Mewtwo EX has been a common backup attacker in the deck, but players will probably slap Tapu Lele GX’s into this deck slot as it gives the deck another consistency out while having roughly the same attack as Mewtwo EX (it doesn’t take into account Weakness and Resistance while Mewtwo EX does).

The deck typically aims to make Raikou into mini tank. It only has 120 HP, but when it has a Lightning Energy attached to it, its Shining Body Ability reduces attack damage by 20, which makes its effective HP 140. Add on Fighting Fury Belt, and Raikou has an effective HP of 180. This is very high for a non-EX Basic Pokemon.

The deck also plays a high count of Rough Seas. This allows it to further tank its Raikou’s, retreating them to the bench after they’ve taken a hit to be healed off. It also gives the deck a strong answer to Trevenant BREAK’s spread attack, Silent Fear…in theory. In tournament environments Trevenant BREAK’s Item Lock can be too oppressive for Raikou to function well enough to even find its Rough Seas some of the time.

The deck only made it into a few Day 2’s at Regional Championships last season, but when it did it typically did well, although most of its success was very early in the season. Michael Slutsky made Top 8 with it at the Arizona Regional Championship and Sam Chen made Top 4 with it at the Philadelphia Regional Championship. More recently, Andrew Mahone took the deck to a Top 32 finish at the Collinsville Regional Championship, going 8-1-0 on Day 1 of the tournament before fading hard on Day 2.

Andrew Mahone’s Eelektrik/Raikou (St. Louis)

Pokemon – 14

4 Tynamo NVI38
4 Eelektrik NVI
4 Raikou BKT
1 Mewtwo EX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Sycamore
2 N
2 Colress
2 Lysandre
1 Hex Maniac
1 Karen

3 Ultra Ball
4 Level Ball
4 VS Seeker
2 Battle Compressor
2 Switch
1 Computer Search
3 Fighting Fury Belt
2 Float Stone

4 Rough Seas

Energy – 9

9 Lightning

Greninja BREAK

Greninja BREAK decks are one of the biggest winners from the ban list update. All four decks listed in the “Dearly Departed” section were pretty bad matchups for it. All four decks were Grass decks, all with some Item lock component, which made it so Greninja lost almost all the time against these decks.

Additionally, the banning of Archeops is a big boon for Greninja. Decks like Night March and Yveltal EX were able to very easily beat Greninja decks by getting an Archeops into play and locking them from evolving.

In Expanded, players tend to favor the Talonflame STS variant of the deck. With Battle Compressor in the format, players can remove any excess Talonflame from the deck. In Standard, players have had much more mixed feelings on Talonflame as there isn’t any card like Battle Compressor that can easily remove these dead cards from the deck.

Outside of that minor difference, the deck shouldn’t be too different moving from Standard to Expanded. It should still play Splash Energy in some count, and I would imagine that Choice Band has replaced Bursting Balloon in most builds.

The big dilemma for Greninja players is going to be which Stadium they should play in the deck, Rough Seas or Silent Lab.

Rough Seas gives Greninja a counter to Trevenant BREAK’s damage spread. Without it, Trevenant is practically an auto loss for Greninja.

The other option, Silent Lab, would be played in the deck primarily to give Greninja a means for turning off Giratina XY184’s Devour Light Ability, which removes the Abilities from any BREAK Pokemon in play, preventing Greninja from using Giant Water Shuriken. I would expect Giratina to be a common inclusion in many decks as both Trevenant BREAK and Greninja BREAK decks have some renewed hype as we head into this year’s Expanded circuit.

The deck saw most of its success early in the season. Drew Kennett won the Arizona Regional Championship with the deck and Kenny Britton finished 2nd place at the San Jose Regional Championship. The deck struggled to find much success after the release of Sun and Moon.

Kenny Britton’s Greninja BREAK (San Jose)

Pokemon – 18

3 Froakie BKP
4 Frogadier BKP
4 Greninja BKP
3 Greninja BREAK
4 Talonflame STS

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Sycamore
4 N
1 Ace Trainer
1 Fisherman
1 Hex Maniac
1 Pokemon Ranger
1 Wally

4 Dive Ball
3 Evo Soda
4 VS Seeker
2 Super Rod
1 Computer Search
2 Bursting Balloon

3 Rough Seas

Energy – 10

8 Water
2 Splash

M Gardevoir EX

One of the more fringe options of the Expanded Meta, M Gardevoir EX is a deck that plays substantially different in the Expanded format than it does in Standard.

In Expanded, the deck is more of a tank deck. The Expanded format gives the deck Dimension Valley, which allows M Gardevoir EX to use Despair Ray for a single Fairy Energy thanks to its Psychic dual typing. This allows the deck to use Max Potion to heal off a M Gardevoir after it’s damaged as it becomes very easy for the deck to re-power it up when it only takes a single Energy to attack.

The deck also gains Exeggcute PLF, which can be re-populated at any time and placed on your bench for additional damage. Most players have typically played a low count of these in their lists, typically 1-2.

The deck has never seen too much success, only making Day 2 at two of the Regional Championships. The deck got a surge of hype before the Collinsville Regional Championship, causing it to see lots of play. Players that played it typically did well with it, with players playing it getting 1 Top 16 finish and 3 Top 32 finishes. The deck failed to make Day 2 at the two Expanded Regional Championships that followed Collinsville, however.

Connor Finton’s M Gardevoir EX STS (St. Louis)

Pokemon – 16

3 Gardevoir EX
3 M Gardevoir EX
3 Shaymin EX
2 Jirachi EX
2 Hoopa EX
1 Dragonite EX
1 Exeggcute PLF
1 Rattata Evolutions

Trainers – 37

3 Professor Juniper
1 N
1 Skyla
2 Lysandre
2 Hex Maniac
1 Karen
1 AZ
1 Iris

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Max Potion
1 Switch
1 Escape Rope
1 Target Whistle
1 Super Rod
1 Dowsing Machine
4 Gardevoir Spirit Link

4 Dimension Valley

Energy – 7

7 Fairy

M Manectric EX

M Manectric EX is probably nearing the end of the line as far as competitive viability, but it is worth mentioning still because it has its ardent fanboys, so it likely will still see some play. However, it probably should not see play after only netting a single Top 16 and 2 Top 32 finishes last season.

The primary problem with M Manectric EX is that its Turbo Bolt attack only does 110 damage, which is unspectacular. You can setup alternate strategies with Turbo Bolt as it can accelerate any Energy card, but for most stuff there are better options for accelerating Energy for most Pokemon types. For example, even M Manectric EX’s own typing, has Pokemon like Jolteon EX and Raikou BKT, but Eelektrik NVI is a stronger Energy acceleration option for these Pokemon.

There hasn’t really been a set M Manectric EX list in awhile. The most popular variants have typically been a pairing of M Manectric EX with Mewtwo EX, as well as a variant with M Manectric EX, Tool Drop Trubbish, and Garbodor BKP.

The deck does benefit some as a result of Archeops being banned, giving players less incentive to play Gallade BKT, which was a hard counter to M Manectric EX, but lots of lists over the past couple seasons opted to play Maxie’s lists without Archeops, and Gallade wasn’t the only thing making M Manectric EX struggle.

M Rayquaza EX

M Rayquaza EX is currently the title holder for the deck that won the largest Expanded tournament in the game’s history when Alex Wilson won the Collinsville Regional Championship with the deck.

The deck likely won’t go through too much of a transformation in construction from what Alex used. The primary change will be Jirachi EX being taken out of the deck for the superior Tapu Lele GX, which also gives the deck an easy to power up back up attacker.

As long as it exists, it appears that M Rayquaza EX will always be a threat to do well at a tournament. When it fills its bench to 8 Pokemon, using the Sky Field Stadium, it can do 240 damage which is good to knock out every relevant Pokemon in Expanded. To make it even better, it can achieve this on its first turn of the game.

There are an increasing amount of counters to Sky Field entering the card pool, however. There is the Stadium Card Parallel City, which can drop M Rayquaza EX’s bench down to 3, and now Guardians Rising brought us Sudowoodo, whose Roadblock Ability limits opponent’s benches to 4.

It should be noted that players still only get 60 cards to put in their deck, and there is a lot of stuff to tech for in Expanded, such as Oricorio/Karen for Night March and Giratina for Trevenant, and many other random techs for various matchups. Players have to balance techs with consistency, so most if not all of these 1-of techs will probably be left out of decks in favor of consistency, so a Pokemon like Sudowoodo serves more as a bogeyman than an actual threat to M Rayquaza I would think.

Alex Wilson’s M Rayquaza EX (St. Louis)

Pokemon – 17

2 Rayquaza EX ROS75
1 Rayquaza EX ROS60
3 M Rayquaza EX
4 Shaymin EX
2 Hoopa EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Keldeo EX
1 Dragonite EX
1 Giratina XY184
1 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 36

1 Colress
1 N
1 Ghetsis
2 Lysandre
2 Hex Maniac
1 AZ
1 Karen

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Trainers’ Mail
2 Battle Compressor
3 Mega Turbo
1 Computer Search
3 Rayquaza Spirit Link
2 Float Stone

4 Sky Field

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless
3 Water

Night March

Night March is widely viewed as one of the more overpowered decks in the Expanded format, but it hasn’t actually been as successful in Expanded as most people are led to believe. It had a 10.28% meta share during BLW-STS format, 0% during the San Jose Regional held in BLW-EVO, and then only 7.08% in the Spring in BLW-SUM. At least last year, Night March was just one of many decks in the pack and not a dominant force that separated itself from the pack.

A lot of players are expecting to see Night March see renewed success with the release of Marshadow GX, but it’s not clear whether Marshadow GX is all that great in the deck. The positive of Marshadow GX are that it can allow the deck to reach higher damage numbers by copying Night March from a Joltik out of the discard pile, allowing you to discard more Pokemon. It’s also a Fighting type, which lets you play Focus Sash to try to deny a knockout at some point in the game.

The counter argument against Marshadow GX in the deck is that the Focus Sash play is a gimmick that is very often played around by Tool removal or Hypnotoxic Laser. It is a GX Pokemon which means it gives up two prizes, so when it is used prior to a Night March opponent going down to 1 prize it can give the opponent a better opportunity to win by taking 2 prizes instead of the 1 that a Night Marcher or Mew FCO would give up.

The deck also has to continue to deal with the presence of Karen in some players lists, as well as Oricorio GRI, which could potentially be even worse for Night March.

I would guess most decks opt out of playing Night March counters to focus on consistency or techs elsewhere (Trevenant is the big thing to tech for right now). There are a lot of rough matchups for Night March at the top of the meta game from where we left off Expanded last season (Primal Groudon EX, Darkrai EX/Giratina EX, and Seismitoad EX/Giratina EX were 3 of the top 4 decks in BLW-SUM and are all good against Night March), and Trevenant BREAK is expected to make a comeback with the release of new cards.

There should be meta games where Night March is good in, but if Expanded picks up mostly where it left off last year, Night March is going to have a rough time to start the season.

Akira Ikehara’s Night March/Marshadow GX (Japan Championship)

Pokemon – 19

4 Joltik PHF
4 Pumpkaboo PHF
4 Lampent PHF
2 Marshadow GX
3 Shaymin EX
1 Giratina XY184
1 Mew FCO

Trainers – 37

3 Professor Sycamore
1 N
1 Lysandre
1 Hex Maniac
1 Teammates

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Battle Compressor
4 Puzzle of Time
3 Trainers’ Mail
1 Special Charge
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Field Blower
1 Escape Rope
3 Fighting Fury Belt
1 Choice Band
1 Float Stone

2 Dimension Valley

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Primal Groudon EX

Primal Groudon EX is a deck that will make you fall asleep with how boring it is to play. It’s also a deck that is slept on, and is probably one of the best decks of the Expanded format, if not the best. During the BLW-SUM format, it was the second most successful deck, only trailing Yveltal EX. This is a huge over performance for the deck as it is barely played at all because of the scarcity of Tropical Beach, a core card of the deck.

The deck is fairly simple. It aims to waste a lot of time for the opponent by disrupting them with Wobbuffet PHF’s Bide Barricade Ability or by making them waste turns by knocking out Robo Substitutes. During these turns, the Groudon player uses Tropical Beach to continuously draw resources as it gets Primal Groudon EX’s into play and powered up with Energy.

Once Primal Groudon EX is setup, games typically end very quickly as Gaia Volcano does 200 damage when there is a Stadium to discard, and that can easily become 240 damage if you attach some Strong Energy to it. The deck then plays Focus Sash to make sure Primal Groudon EX doesn’t get knocked out by a OHKO and lose all its Energy, and then it plays Scramble Switch to instantly power up a fresh Primal Groudon EX or Regirock, and then it also plays Puzzle of Time so it can pull off this play multiple times in a game.

Some players may try to incorporate Wishful Baton into the deck, but I’m not sure if this is actually good, as you will often have Strong Energy attached which won’t be saved by the card, and you already achieve what you want from Wishful Baton with Scramble Switch.

The deck is a very difficult one to figure out how to deal with it in the Expanded format. Most players will never play this deck, as it requires 4 Tropical Beach (the 2011 and 2012 World Championship Promo) to play an optimal list. Tropical Beach is the most expensive card in Expanded, and there is a limited quantity, so most players are priced out of playing the deck.

As Tropical Beach is limited in quantity and very expensive, you can go into any large Expanded Regional Championship knowing that not many players will be playing Primal Groudon EX. It’s very difficult to tell what the proper response is to a deck with an artificial limitation on its meta share, even when it’s one of the best decks in format. Can you really worry about a bad matchup against this deck when only a handful of players can even play the deck?

Christopher Schemanske’s Primal Groudon EX (Toronto)

Pokemon – 13

2 Groudon EX PRC
1 Groudon EX DEX
3 Primal Groudon EX
4 Wobbuffet pHF
1 Regirock XY49
1 Mr. Mime pLF
1 Bunnelby PRC

Trainers – 38

4 Korrina
4 Professor Juniper
2 N
1 Lysandre
1 Olympia
1 Pokemon Center Lady
1 Xerosic

4 Puzzle of Time
3 VS Seeker
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Robo Substitute
1 Escape Rope
1 Max Potion
1 Mega Turbo
1 Nest Ball
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Scramble Switch
2 Focus Sash
1 Float Stone

4 Tropical Beach

Energy – 9

4 Fighting
4 Strong
1 Psychic

Rainbow Road

Rainbow Road is a similar deck to M Rayquaza EX in that it can reach OHKO numbers by filling its bench with Pokemon with Sky Field, however instead of Pokemon in general, Xerneas BKT does more damage for each different type of Pokemon.

The deck typically uses a Hoopa EX engine, and used Shaymin EX to quickly draw through its deck. Common inclusions in the deck as far as tech Pokemon go are Keldeo EX (for Rush In), Jolteon EX, Darkrai EX, and sometimes Yveltal EX.

Most importantly, the deck tends to play 2-3 Ho-Oh EX, which is used for its Rebirth Ability, which lets you flip a coin once per a turn when Ho-Oh EX is in the discard pile, and if you flip heads you can place Ho-Oh EX onto your bench and attach three different types of Energy to it.

The deck then uses Energy Switch to move this accelerated Energy to other Pokemon, in particular Xerneas to use its Rainbow Force attack.

Rainbow Road was one of, if not the most played deck at the beginning of last season, but it saw diminished play after players weren’t getting good results with the deck. No players ever made Top 8 with a Rainbow Road deck in Expanded and by the end of the season, in the BLW-SUM format, only a single Rainbow Road deck made Day 2 in the three Expanded Regionals played in that format.

Kale Chalifoux’s Rainbow Road (Alberta)

Pokemon – 16

4 Xerneas BKT
1 Xerneas BREAK
3 Ho-Oh EX
2 Shaymin EX
1 Malamar EX
1 Keldeo EX
1 Jolteon EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Hoopa EX
1 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 34

3 Professor Sycamore
1 N
1 Colress
1 AZ
1 Karen
1 Lysandre
1 Ninja Boy

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Trainers’ Mail
2 Battle Compressor
3 Energy Switch
1 Computer Search
2 Fighting Fury Belt
2 Float Stone

4 Sky Field

Energy – 10

4 Double Colorless
3 Fairy
2 Darkness
1 Lightning

Sableye/Garbodor

Sableye/Garbodor is one of the most oppressive lock decks that the game has to offer. It uses Garbodor to lock the opponent from using their Abilities, and then uses Sableye’s Junk Hunt attack to recycle disruptive Trainer cards such as Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer, or Supporter cards like Team Flare Grunt and Delinquent via VS Seeker.

The deck also uses Life Dew to prevent the opponent from taking prizes when Sableye is knocked out. Players typically will Junk Hunt for a pair of Puzzle of Time so that they have the option to get back Life Dew as soon as their Sableye is knocked out to prevent the opponent from taking prizes.

The deck isn’t very popular, and it’s hard to tell how good it is as a result. Because of the oppressive nature of the deck, it can be very difficult for aspiring Sableye players to find people who even want to test with them, which leads to there being a very high barrier to entry for playing the deck in the tournament.

The deck is also one of constant decision making, which mostly limits the deck to good players, as well as players with lots of experience grinding out the matchup data for the deck.

An interesting note for Sableye is that it made Day 2 at three Regional Championships, and all three times that it made Day 2 it also made Top 8.

The deck failed to make it past the Top 8 in all three of its appearances. Sableye is a deck that greatly struggles with playing in top cut. Sableye’s issue in top cut is that it aims to win by deck out and not taking prizes, which makes it exploitable to the 4 prize rule in a Game 2, and makes it near impossible for it to win in a Game 3 sudden death situation.

In addition to struggling with top cut, the deck can struggle greatly against Item Lock decks because of its heavy reliance on Item cards.

Alex Koch’s Sableye/Garbodor (Portland)

Pokemon – 10

4 Sableye DEX
2 Trubbish NVI
2 Garbodor BKP
2 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 44

4 Professor Sycamore
2 N
2 Lysandre
2 Team Flare Grunt
1 Xerosic
1 AZ
1 Delinquent
1 Hex Maniac
1 Pokemon Center Lady
1 Team Rocket’s Handiwork

3 Ultra Ball
4 Trainers’ Mail
3 Crushing Hammer
1 Enhanced Hammer
3 Puzzle of Time
2 Trick Shovel
1 Super Rod
1 Target Whistle
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Head Ringer
1 Life Dew
2 Float Stone

1 Parallel City
1 Team Aqua’s Secret Base

Energy – 6

6 Darkness

Seismitoad EX/Crobat

Seismitoad EX/Crobat is an ever present threat in the Expanded format. The deck stands to gain a better place in the meta game with Lurantis GX/Vileplume AOR and Decidueye GX/Vileplume AOR leaving the format from the Forest ban.

The deck is very simple on the surface, a player uses Seismitoad EX for its Quaking Punch attack to Item Lock them. It then further disrupts them with cards like Hypnotoxic Laser, Silent Lab, and some Energy removal Supporters.

Where the deck breaks away and becomes much more advanced in the skill required to play it is in how you use your disruptive cards, choosing where to play your bat droppings, and knowing what situations you should break away from Quaking Punch and use other attacks.

Quaking Punch doesn’t do a ton of damage, so players use Golbat PHF and Crobat PHF for their damage Abilities to supplement the damage of Quaking Punch. Zubat PLS has the Free Flight Ability, which gives it free retreat when it doesn’t have an Energy attached, so this gives the deck a plentiful amount of good starters making it easy for the deck to get into a turn 1 Quaking Punch.

The deck typically plays Lugia EX as a backup attacker for its Aero Ball and Deep Hurricane attacks. Tapu Lele GX will give the deck another backup attacker.

Noel Totomoch’s Seismitoad EX/Crobat (Toronto)

Pokemon – 16

3 Seismitoad EX
1 Lugia EX
4 Zubat PLS
4 Golbat PHF
2 Crobat PHF
1 Shaymin EX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 37

3 Professor Sycamore
2 N
1 AZ
1 Colress
1 Delinquent
1 Ghetsis
1 Lysandre
1 Team Flare Grunt
1 Xerosic

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Super Scoop Up
1 Enhanced Hammer
1 Super Rod
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Computer Search
2 Fighting Fury Belt

3 Silent Lab

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless
3 Water

Seismitoad EX/Giratina EX

This deck was thought to be dead, but it made a come back in the BLW-SUM format. It started off in Collinsville, where Roberto Lozada took it to a Day 2 finish. Then in Toronto, Igor Costa took the deck to a Top 4 finish.

The deck is pure disruption, using Seismitoad EX and its Quaking Punch attack to lock the opponent from playing Items. It supplements this damage with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. The deck then plays disruptive Trainer cards like Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, Team Flare Grunt, and Xerosic to try to lock the opponent out of being able to put up a good fight.

The deck has Giratina EX as a backup attacker for Double Colorless decks, such as Night March and Vespiquen/Flareon. Giratina EX also can serve as a counter to M Rayquaza EX because of its Ability. Its Chaos Wheel attack is good for more than locking though, sometimes the increased damage output from the attack over Quaking Punch is all you need to close out a game.

Salamence EX also is a more recent inclusion in the deck, which helps the deck against EX heavy decks.

Igor Costa’s Seismitoad EX/Giratina EX (Toronto)

Pokemon – 

3 Seismitoad EX
2 GIratina EX
1 Salamence EX
1 Shaymin EX
1 Jirachi EX
1 Hoopa EX
1 Keldeo EX

Trainers – 

3 Professor Sycamore
2 N
2 Lysandre
1 AZ
1 Colress
1 Ghetsis
1 Hex Maniac
1 Karen
1 Shadow Triad
1 Team Flare Grunt
1 Xerosic

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Crushing Hammer
1 Enhanced Hammer
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
2 Trainers’ Mail
1 Computer Search
2 Fighting Fury Belt
2 Float Stone

3 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 

4 Double Colorless
4 Double Dragon

Seismitoad EX (Other)

These decks aren’t really created yet, but there are a couple of Seismitoad EX decks that have potential.

The first and most hyped variant is Seismitoad EX/Garbodor GRI. The idea is to lock early, and then finish out a game with Garbodor’s Trashalanche…I’m not really sure what the point of this deck is though, as Seismitoad EX and Garbodor GRI don’t have great synergy. Garbodor does more damage for having more Items in your opponents discard pile, but Seismitoad EX prevents your opponent from playing these Items.

I guess the idea is that they will have to discard these Item cards with Professor Sycamore, but if Professor Sycamore was there only Supporter out, they probably would be forced to play it anyhow, even if they weren’t under Item Lock. In the games I’ve played against it online, the deck has been very underwhelming and very weak because of the lack of synergy between the two cards. I think there are better partners for both Pokemon in Expanded.

The other potential Seismitoad EX deck is an Aqua Patch deck. Aqua Patch lets you power up Seismitoad EX’s to use their Grenade Hammer attack, which could be good. When the original Water Box deck was played, players would typically use Quaking Punch and then follow it up with a Grenade Hammer to take knockouts against EX Pokemon.

Tool Drop/Garbodor

This deck isn’t a proven one yet, as we never had an Expanded Regional after Guardians Rising was released, but it has received quite a bit of hype.

The deck takes Garbodor GRI and uses Trubbish PLS as its pre-evolution. Trubbish has the Tool Drop attack, which does 20 damage times the amount of Tool cards attached to your Pokemon. The idea behind the deck is to aggressively attack with Trubbish at the start of the game, and then finish off with Garbodor for the late game.

As cool as the deck is in theory, I’m not sure if it works out well in practice. Tool Drop was already inconsistent when it was just a Basic deck, so fitting in a Stage 1 line would make it even less consistent. Additionally, if you’re attacking with Garbodor’s pre-evolution and they’re getting knocked out, that could leave you without anything to evolve into a Garbodor from if you run out of Trubbish.

Startling Megaphone also removes all Tool cards from play and can be used to minimize Trubbish’s damage output.

Bryan Hunter’s Tool Drop/Garbodor (League Cup)

Pokemon – 14

4 Trubbish PLS
3 Garbodor GRI
1 Garbodor BKP
1 Sigilyph PLB
2 Wobbuffet PHF
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Sycamore
3 N
1 Colress
1 Brigette
1 Professor Kukui
2 Lysandre

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
2 Trainers’ Mail
1 Super Rod
4 Muscle Band
4 Float Stone
2 Choice Band
1 Life Dew

4 Dimension Valley

Energy – 8 

8 Psychic

Trevenant BREAK

With the announcement of a quarterly ban list announcment, Trevenant XY was a card that many players expected to make the ban list if they decided to ban any cards. While Trevenant XY and Trevenant BREAK aren’t really broken on their own, when paired together, along with Dimension Valley, the cards create a very oppressive combo.

Somehow Trevenant slipped through the cracks and survived getting a ban. I’m not really sure the reasoning behind this, especially given that Forest of Giant Plants was largely banned because of Vileplume’s Item Lock Ability. Trevenant’s Forest Curse is arguably a more oppressive form of Item Lock than Vileplume’s Irritating Pollen, as it’s one sided, which allows the Trevenant deck to also use disruptive Items like Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer.

The deck has proven most successful when paired with Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer. The most successful variant of the deck last season was a Rescue Scarf version which Jonathan Crespo used to win the Philadelphia Regional Championship. There is also a Hammer + Bursting Balloon version that placed 2nd in the Japan Championship.

There used to be a Bursting Balloon variant that didn’t play Hammers, but instead played backup attackers like Mewtwo EX and Wobbuffet PHF. However, this variant fell out of favor when players found much more success with the Hammers variant.

The big new card for Trevenant decks is Necrozma GX, which spreads 100 damage to all EX and GX Pokemon with its Black Ray GX attack. This greatly improves its matchups against EX/GX decks, reducing the amount of turns of spread it needs to finish a game against them.

There is also a Tapu Lele promo which will be released later this year (it was supposed to be out now, but got a delayed release), which will let Trevenant decks re-arrange the damage counters on their opponent’s side of the field in any way they like for a single Psychic Energy.

This is a deck that I wouldn’t be surprised to die as a result of a ban at some point during the season.

Haruki Satoyama’s Trevenant BREAK (Japan Championship)

Pokemon – 16

4 Phantump BKP
4 Trevenant XY
3 Trevenant BREAK
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Tapu Lele SM2+
1 Necrozma GX
1 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore
3 N
2 Team Flare Grunt
1 Acerola
1 Wally
1 Guzma
1 Karen

4 Ultra Ball
1 Nest Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Crushing Hammer
2 Enhanced Hammer
1 Super Rod
3 Bursting Balloon

4 Dimension Valley

Energy – 9

4 Mystery Energy
4 Psychic
1 Double Colorless

Turbo Darkrai EX

Throughout the past season, Turbo Darkrai EX has been one of the most popular decks at tournaments. The deck is very popular because it’s one of the cheaper decks to port over from Standard to Expanded, and it’s also not too difficult to play, which makes it an easy deck for new players to pick up for Expanded.

The deck is as simple as you can get. You want to load up lots of Dark Energy onto your field by using Dark Patch and Max Elixir, which lets you do more damage with Darkrai EX’s Dark Pulse attack. There isn’t a ton more to the deck than that.

Common other inclusions in the deck are Darkrai EX DEX for free retreat, Yveltal EX as a backup Dark attacker, and Mewtwo EX as a Gallade counter. Some lists also played a copy of Mew FCO for a single prize attacker that can copy Dark Pulse.

The big new addition for the deck is Darkrai GX, which gives the deck another option for accelerating Energy. Players will probably play 2-3 of these to take advantage of its Restoration Ability to further boost their Dark Pulse damage output.

The deck is thought to be taking a hit because of Marshadow GX, but I doubt this is the case. Marshadow GX doesn’t really have a home outside of Night March, and even in Night March it’s not that great as it gives up two prizes, so knocking out a Darkrai EX with a Joltik should be prefferable to knocking out one with a Marshadow GX in most instances.

The Archeops ban may actually help Turbo Darkrai, as there is now less incentive to play the Maxie’s Engine which could lead to Gallade coming out of decks.

Polo Le’s Turbo Darkrai EX (Portland)

Pokemon – 10

3 Darkrai EX BKP
1 Darkrai EX DEX
2 Sableye DEX
1 Malamar EX
1 Hoopa EX
2 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 39

3 Professor Sycamore
2 Colress
1 N
2 Lysandre
2 Hex Maniac
1 AZ
1 Ghetsis

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Trainers’ Mail
2 Battle Compressor
4 Dark Patch
4 Max Elixir
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Fighting Fury Belt

2 Parallel City

Energy – 11

11 Darkness

Vespiquen/Flareon

Vespiquen/Flareon was one of the top decks when we first started having Expanded tournaments en masse, but it has since fallen to being a Tier 2 or Tier 3 deck.

The deck actually ended the year well in Toronto, with two players making it into the Top 16 at the tournament. This was a unique tournament with tons of favorable matchups for the deck. 16 of the 30 other decks to make Day 2 were weak to either Fire or Grass. Even with such a favorable meta game, neither player piloting the deck was able to advance to Top 8.

Like Night March, the deck is powered off of putting Pokemon in the discard pile. While Night March only gets damage boosted from Pokemon with the Night March attack being put in the discard pile, Vespiquen and Flareon both do more damage for any Pokemon that goes into the discard pile, which gives Vespiquen/Flareon a little more license to tech against bad matchups than Night March has, as any dead cards can be gotten rid of first with Battle Compressor to power up Bee Revenge and Vengeance.

Like Night March, the deck also has the threat of players playing Oricorio and Karen to counter it. As it and Night March only combine for 10% of the meta game in BLW-SUM, most players probably won’t choose to tech against it.

However, players not teching against the deck and it still not putting up super strong results is an indication of potentially some other issues with the deck. One thing I noticed when playing Vespiquen/Flareon is that as Expanded lists got better, it became hard for Vespiquen/Flareon to keep up with some of the speedier decks in format, such as Turbo Darkrai EX.

The deck does stand to benefit some from the ban list. Removing Archeops from the card pool allows Vespiquen/Flareon players to drop Wobbuffet PHF from their lists, which will open up two slots in the Pokemon department for players to play with.

The deck does suffer from a little bit of an artificial restraint on its meta share because of Tropical Beach. Optimal lists for the deck tend to play two copies of Tropical Beach, so the lack of availability of Tropical Beach creates a barrier to players playing optimal lists for the deck, which causes it to see less play than it may otherwise see. The deck is much more competitive without Tropical Beach than Primal Groudon EX is, however.

Gregory Fortier’s Vespiquen/Flareon (St. Louis)

Pokemon – 28

4 Combee AOR
4 Vespiquen AOR
4 Eevee
4 Flareon PLF
4 Unown AOR
2 Wobbuffet PHF
1 Exeggcute PLF
1 Jolteon AOR
1 Giratina XY184
2 Shaymin EX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 25

3 Professor Sycamore
1 N
1 Colress
2 Lysandre
1 Blacksmith

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Battle Compressor
1 Computer Search
2 Float Stone

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless
3 Fire

Volcanion EX

Once considered a Standard only deck, Volcanion EX exploded onto the Expanded scene when Rahul Reddy took it to a 3rd place finish at the Collinsville Regional Championship. The deck once again saw success in Toronto, where Ryan Sabelhaus took it to a Top 8 finish.

The deck is actually much better in Expanded than it is in Standard. It has Superior Energy Retrieval as opposed to Energy Retrieval, which can get back 4 Basic Energy cards. Most importantly it has the Blacksmith Supporter card, which can be used to power up a Volcanion EX in a single turn. It also has Keldeo EX, which allows you to Rush In and retreat, which gives you an easy to play option for resetting a Volcanion EX to make sure it can attack in consecutive turns after you use a Volcanic Heat.

The deck gains Turtonator GX from Guardians Rising. I think most decks will still be built around attacking with Volcanion EX, as once it’s setup, if it’s not knocked out it will get consecutive attacks off while allowing you to start setting up something else now that you can reset it with Keldeo EX. I still expect Turtonator GX to be played as a 1-of probably, as it does give you a way to reach higher damage numbers easier.

Ryan Sabelhaus’ Volcanion EX (Toronto)

Pokemon – 15

4 Volcanion EX
3 Volcanion STS
1 Staryu BKP
1 Starmie EVO
1 Exeggcute PLF
1 Jirachi EX
1 Hoopa EX
2 Shaymin EX
1 Keldeo EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Sycamore
2 Colress
1 N
2 Blacksmith
2 Lysandre
1 Karen

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
2 Battle Compressor
2 Superior Energy Retrieval
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Fighting Fury Belt
2 Float Stone

3 Sky Field

Energy – 12

12 Fire

Yveltal EX

Yveltal EX has long been considered to be the top deck in Expanded, once again living up that title in the BLW-SUM format where it was the most successful deck, including being part of Israel Sosa’s 5th Regional Championship win.

The deck uses Dark Patch to accelerate to its Dark type Pokemon. The deck already had Yveltal EX for its Evil Ball and Y Cyclone attacks and Darkrai EX for its Night Spear attack (and free retreat), and Yveltal BKT to spread with Pitch Black Spear, but it will now get Darkrai GX as a fourth Dark Pokemon attacking option. Darkrai GX can be powered up with one Dark Patch and once attachment, and in Laser variants of the deck it could take OHKO’s against EX and GX Pokemon.

Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym had fallen out of favor in Yveltal decks, but it may see a come back now that Archeops is banned. With Archeops out of the format, there is less incentive for players to play the Maxie’s Engine, which could cause players to drop it from lists completely.

However, Gallade has been very strong in the deck, with some lists, such as Mark Garcia’s, already playing 2 Gallade compared to 1 Archeops. It is possible that the only changes players make to their Yveltal lists are dropping Archeops for some other card.

Israel Sosa’s Yveltal EX/Maxie’s (Portland)

Pokemon – 12

3 Yveltal EX
2 Darkrai EX
2 Yveltal BKT
1 Sableye DEX
1 Gallade BKT
1 Archeops NVI
1 Shaymin EX
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 37

3 Professor Sycamore
2 N
2 Lysandre
1 AZ
1 Hex Maniac
1 Ghetsis
1 Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Dark Patch
3 Battle Compressor
3 Trainers’ Mail
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Fighting Fury Belt
1 Float Stone

2 Silent Lab
1 Parallel City

Energy – 11

7 Darkness
4 Double Colorless

Conclusion

As it was last year, Expanded in the 2017-2018 season should be a very wide open field with lots of decks in it. Just in this article we’ve gone over 23 decks that people may bring to the early Expanded tournaments of the year, either based on pre-season hype, or based on these deck’s performing at in some regard during Expanded Regional Championships last season.

This doesn’t even take into account what new decks will pop up, either as a result of gaining strength from the bans, or from new cards released throughout the year.

3 thoughts on “Expanded 2k18 – An Overview of Pokemon’s Expanded Format for the 2017-2018 Season

  1. thanks a lot for this interesting article 🙂
    do you think garbodor decks are poised to work in expanded? every deck seem so reliant on item afterall

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