The New Face of Expanded and an Update to Gardevoir

Hey guys, it’s Conner, and I’m excited to be bringing you my second regularly published article for the Charizard Lounge. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at the current state of the Expanded format, as it has changed significantly since Andrew last took a broad look at it. I won’t be spending too much time discussing new cards, as I believe that most of them are too weak to make a serious impact on expanded. The few exceptions will be addressed together with the deck that is most likely to add them. I’ll also be touching on Gardevoir, going over my experience with it in Daytona and explaining the changes I made.

Gardevoir in and after Daytona

To begin, I want to take a look back to Daytona Regionals and give an update on Gardevoir. After testing a significant number of games against Night March and Necrozma/Garbodor, I settled on this list for the event:

Pokemon – 17

4 Ralts BUS
2 Kirlia BUS
3 Gardevoir GX
1 Gallade BKT
3 Tapu Lele GX
1 Sudowoodo GRI
1 Oricorio GRI 56
1 Alolan Vulpix GRI
1 Oranguru SUM

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Sycamore
2 N
1 Colress
1 Brigette
1 Acerola
1 Guzma
1 Teammates

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Rare Candy
2 Field Blower
2 Rescue Stretcher
1 Computer Search
2 Choice Band

Energy – 13

7 Fairy
2 Wonder
4 Double Colorless

Changes from Ft. Wayne:

  • -2 Diancie
  • -1 Brigette
  • -1 Karen
  • -1 Fairy Energy
  • +1 Oricorio GRI 56
  • +1 Oranguru
  • +2 Choice Band
  • +1 Field Blower

Drops

The drops from the Fort Wayne list were a combination of trimming the fat and adjustment for a different metagame. I came to the conclusion that the 2nd Brigette and 8th Basic Fairy were not making a meaningful contribution toward consistency, so they came out of the deck. Diancie was only ever in there for the Trevenant matchup, and the deck’s overall representation was looking to be lower than it had been since its release. Michael Pramawat kindly demonstrated that the single copy of Karen was not sufficient to contest a skilled Night March player, so I dropped it in search of a better answer.

Additions

Oricorio ended up being that answer, as the 2-count of Rescue Stretcher allows for three Supernatural Dances in a game. Oranguru came in as a solution to an issue that had been present in the deck from the beginning: weakness to N. I would frequently find myself in dominating positions only to take a bad N and fail to find what I needed. Gallade’s Premonition makes Instruct ridiculous, giving you much higher odds of drawing what you need even if you’re only Instructing for 1. Psychic is also a very relevant attack in some matchups, and the ability to commit a less valuable attacker was something that the deck previously lacked. I added Choice Band primarily for the mirror and Turtles, but they ended up being relevant in nearly every single game. Lastly, the second Field Blower was added in anticipation of Garbodor seeing a surge in popularity.

Fortunately, most of my predictions for the metagame ended up being correct, and this allowed me to make a pretty solid run at Daytona. Going off of memory, my rounds went like this:

R1 – Golisopod/Seismitoad/Lasers – Win (1-0-0)
R2 – Turbo Dark – Win (2-0-0)
R3 – Raikou/Eelektrik – Win (3-0-0)
R4 – Jimmy McClure – Turbo Turtles – Win (4-0-0)
R5 – Nick Robinson – Golisopod/Garbodor – Win (5-0-0)
R6 – Ryan Allred – Turbo Dark – Win (6-0-0)
R7 – Jimmy Pendarvis – Sableye/Garbodor – Loss (6-1-0)
R8 – Russell LaParre – Necrozma/Garbodor – Win (7-1-0)
R9 – Bob Zhang – Trevenant – Loss (7-2-0)

Day 1 Record:  7-2-0, 5th seed

As I did not write down the order of rounds and opponent names, there are inevitably errors here, but I am at least certain that these were the decks I played against. I ended day 1 with a 7-2-0 record, taking losses only to decks that I had not prepared or teched for. That said, I’m not sure that either of these losses would have been wins had I been better prepared; the matchups are not particularly favorable for this build. Day 2 followed like this:

R10 – Michael Strunk – Night March – Win (8-2-0)
R11 – Aaron Tarbell – Golisopod/Zoroark – Loss (8-3-0)
R12 – Xander Pero – Necrozma/Garbodor – Win (9-3-0)
R13 – Jon Eng – Necrozma/Garbodor – Loss (9-4-0)
R14 – Ray Fernandez – M Rayquaza – Win (10-4-0)

Final Record: 10-5, 11th place

I ended up taking two match losses in day 2. Round 11 involved a very close game 1 where I had to make a difficult decision. If my last Double Colorless Energy was in the deck, I would win with Teammates. If it was not, my only out to victory was to N and hope. I opted for the Teammates play to find that my last DCE was prized. Had I properly checked my prizes, I would have had a much better shot of winning, so this loss falls largely on me. Game 2 of the series was a blowout in which I failed to get Oricorio out of the active until my board had accumulated 60 damage of Flying Flips. Round 13 was the only series of the event where my deck refused to get going, and I ended up losing two fairly one-sided games. Overall, though one loss was out of my control, I certainly could have played better and had a reasonable shot at Top 8.

I was extremely happy with how the deck ran throughout the tournament, and I can count at least one questionable play in each of rounds 7, 9, and 11 that could have influenced the outcome of the match. As much as I would like to say that I played perfectly, that was not the case in Daytona. I expect to continue playing this deck in Expanded until a real threat (likely an autoloss) arises to challenge it, but that does not appear to be on the foreseeable horizon.

Coming out of Daytona, there are two items for consideration. The first is the inclusion of Comfey in the deck to combat a rise in Special Conditions, and the second is the possibility that Trevenant may see a resurgence in popularity. While the first point is fairly straightforward — Comfey is good against Special Condition heavy metagames — the second is a little bit less clear. Having played a significant number of games against Trevenant now, I believe that the matchup can be made even to favorable with the inclusion of two cards, those being a 3rd Kirlia and 2nd Acerola. If you anticipate a very large amount of Trevenant, Giratina Promo is also a valid inclusion in the deck. Any combination of these changes will allow you to improve your Trevenant matchup while keeping Diancie out, thereby lowering the number of dead cards in your deck against non-Trevenant decks (though Giratina Promo clearly does not have this advantage). While I can’t say with certainty that Trevenant will see a significant amount of play, Bob Zhang’s run in Daytona shows that the possibility is there. I have a growing aversion to Diancie overall, so trying to swing Trevenant without it is continuously more appealing. These changes provide yet another tool for Gardevoir to use to adapt to a wide variety of metagames.

The New Expanded Format

Moving on to the Expanded format as a whole, we have seen a great deal of turbulence throughout the first quarter. Before Fort Wayne, Trevenant, Dark, and Night March comprised most players’ tier 1. This was quickly upset by the extremely poor performance of Trevenant and emergence of three new decks: Golisopod, Turbo Turtonator, and Necrozma/Garbodor. In addition, Gardevoir showed signs of a life outside of Standard, adding yet another piece to the Expanded metagame.

By Daytona, Expanded had transformed completely. Necrozma/Garbodor had seen a significant amount of refinement and now stood at the front of the pack. It also seemed by far the most popular choice of top players. Trevenant had fallen by the wayside, no longer considered strong by a majority of the playerbase. Turbo Turtles had surged in popularity, finding a place among the most widely represented decks at the event. Golisopod struggled to find as much success as it did in Fort Wayne, though it occupied a notable share of the metagame regardless. Dark and Night March retained their popularity, though Night March did see a slight uptick to Dark’s slight downtick.

In Daytona’s aftermath, the metagame continues to look different. Bob Zhang’s performance with Trevenant shows that the deck still has potential, taking it all the way to the finals. Necrozma/Garb establishes itself as the de facto best deck, trailed by the surprising showing of Gardevoir GX. Night March retains its strength and looks to improve further with the incorporation of Zoroark GX. Dark and Golisopod both continue to be contenders, though players are split on the best variants of each. Turbo Turtles underperformed, especially considering its overall popularity, and it looks to falter moving forward as top decks present several unfavorable matchups.

With these developments, I present my view of the current Expanded tier list.

To provide a bit of preliminary definition, tiers 1 through 3 are based on a combination of popularity, strength, and matchups against other high tier decks. Tier 4 is based strictly off of popularity, as the decks included in it currently have little to no share of the metagame.

Tier 1

  • Necrozma/Garb
  • Gardevoir

Tier 2

  • Night March

Tier 3

  • Dark Variants (Turbo Dark and Darkrai GX)
  • Turbo Turtles
  • Trevenant
  • Golisopod (Zoroark and Garbodor)

Tier 4

  • Everything else

Tier 1

Tier 1 consists of the two top finishers from Daytona. Both decks can easily be adjusted to have positive matchups against every deck in the tiers below them. I rank Gardevoir on par with Necrozma/Garb because it had significantly lower representation among the top players yet still pushed five players into day 2 to Necrozma/Garb’s eight. It’s also important to note that Gardevoir has a slightly favorable matchup into Necrozma/Garb even when not teched for it, a feature that is equal parts rare and desirable. That said, Gardevoir requires techs to boast favorable matchups against much of the format, whereas Necrozma/Garb does not. The presence of Zoroark GX may be a deciding factor on which deck reigns king moving forward, as it damages Necrozma/Garb while being highly susceptible to both of Gardevoir’s primary attackers. Whether the card makes a significant difference on Necrozma/Garb’s playability, however, has yet to be seen in tournament results.

Tier 2

Tier 2 is just Night March. The deck is a sort of gatekeeper for the Expanded format. With the addition of Zoroark GX, Night March brings the Trevenant matchup much closer, meaning that the deck has almost exclusively even to favorable matchups against the tiers beneath it. Zoroark GX does not change Night March’s matchups against tier 1 to a great enough extent to make them favorable, however. Necrozma/Garb is going to trade well into it while Gardevoir is going to oneshot it, and both decks make use of multiple Supernatural Dances to finish out the game.

Tier 3

Tier 3 is composed of decks that have positive matchups against many decks tier 3 or lower and have strong, consistent strategies. Their problems arise when they hit decks in the higher tiers. None of them have more than one favorable matchup against higher-tiered decks, with Dark and Turtles having none at all and Golisopod’s advantages being marginal. Each deck in tier 3 could absolutely win a League Cup or top 8 a Regional, but it would be unlikely for them to take a major title.

Tier 4

Tier 4 decks are not necessarily weak decks, they are simply decks with minimal representation. This can be for a variety of reasons, sometimes not related to the strength of a deck. I’ll highlight a few, but hitting on all of them would be nearly impossible considering Expanded’s massive card pool.

Sableye/Garb – This deck is incredibly difficult to pilot and seems to struggle in a Day 2 environment. While players such as Jimmy Pendarvis, Igor Costa, and Alex Koch have been able to routinely succeed with the deck, it will likely never see widespread play. In addition, it appears that the deck may lose strength against better players, as it holds a notably worse winrate in Day 2 compared to Day 1.

Seismitoad/Seviper – I’ll be honest; this deck is terrifying. Given more time, it may establish itself as a tier 2 or higher deck, but, at the moment, its popularity is quite low. The deck can struggle greatly against decks like Trevenant and Golisopod, and Gardevoir has the ability to tech Comfey for an autowin. That said, Toad/Seviper has the potential to defeat a large portion of the Expanded format with a strategy that is very hard to counterplay. On top of that, many of Expanded’s top decks can’t tech for it in a meaningful way, meaning that its matchup spread is fairly safe moving forward.

Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu – John Roberts II continued his tear with Vikavolt, this time bringing it into Expanded. While he did make day 2 with the deck, he struggled from here, ultimately finishing 24th. The deck may have been underestimated, yes, but its very poor matchups against Necrozma/Garbodor and Night March will give it a hard time pushing into the format as a mainstay.

Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX – This deck is brand new, so it hasn’t had much time to earn its way into a higher tier. Some of the community seems to be giving it a significant amount of hype, so its representation may not be as low as a tier 4 placement would indicate. That said, I think it is overhyped, as it suffers negative matchups against Gardevoir and Night March, with a severe vulnerability to Sudowoodo on top of that. While it could certainly succeed in a local metagame, I would be surprised to see this deck do much more than that.

Mega Rayquaza – An abundance of Sudowoodo has rendered this deck nearly unplayable. As Sudowoodo falls out of decks, Rayquaza will gain strength and possibly resurge into a higher tier. The deck has a very strong gameplan with excellent damage and speed, though its weakness to Necrozma/Garb, Night March, and Sudowoodo should keep it from climbing past tier 3.

With all of this laid out, I’ll provide a sample list for each of the decks in the first three tiers along with their matchups against each other. The tier 4 decks that I highlighted will be included in the matchup portion, but I don’t have enough experience with any of them to give a legitimate list or analysis. Additionally, I will use a flexibility rating that assesses a deck’s ability to meaningfully tech for various, usually unfavorable, matchups. The ease of play rating addresses how difficult the deck is to play at a moderate to high level. Lastly, the “Consider this deck if” section will go over when you’ll be most likely to succeed with each deck choice.

My key for matchups is as follows:

  • Heavily Favorable: 70-30 or above. A matchup that you would expect to win almost every time.
  • Favorable: Between 55-45 and 70-30. A matchup that you would expect to win most of the time, but one where player skill and decent draws are still important.
  • Even: Between 45-55 and 55-45. A matchup that is heavily reliant on player skill and draws and could reasonably go either way.
  • Unfavorable: Between 30-70 and 45-55. A matchup that you are more likely to lose than win, but one that can still be won a fair portion of the time.
  • Heavily Unfavorable: 30-70 and below. A matchup that you are very unlikely to win.

With these standards set, I’ll move into the decks.

Necrozma/Garbodor

Pokemon – 15

2 Garbodor GRI
1 Garbodor BKP
4 Trubbish PLS 65
3 Tapu Lele GX
1 Necrozma GX
1 Drampa GX
1 Mew FCO
1 Mimikyu GRI
1 Oricorio GRI 56

Trainers – 34

3 Professor Sycamore
2 N
1 Brigette
1 Ghetsis
1 Colress
1 Teammates
1 Guzma
1 Lysandre
1 Acerola

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
1 Field Blower
2 Rescue Stretcher
1 Computer Search
4 Choice Band
3 Float Stone

3 Dimension Valley

Energy – 11

4 Psychic
4 Double Colorless
3 Rainbow

-Ryan Sabelhaus’s 1st place Daytona list

Heavily Favorable: Night March, Rayquaza
Favorable: Dark variants, Turbo Turtles, Vikavolt
Even: Golisopod/Garbodor, Toad/Seviper, Sableye/Garb
Unfavorable: Gardevoir, Golisopod/Zoroark, Trevenant, Zoroark/Lycanroc
Heavily Unfavorable: None
Flexibility: High
Ease of play: Very Hard

Necrozma/Garbodor is the resident king of expanded. A nearly identical list propelled multiple top players into Daytona’s Day 2, Ryan Sabelhaus being one of them. The deck has a very high degree of versatility, making use of a wide variety of attackers, and this allows it to boast even to favorable matchups against almost the entire format. Unfortunately, this versatility has the consequence of making the deck notoriously difficult to play, even for those successful with it. Necrozma/Garbodor has a few unfavorable matchups, but each one is manageable, meaning a skilled player can often still secure a win.

Consider this deck if you have a fair amount of time to dedicate to learning it. Ordinarily, metagame should be at the forefront of the decision-making process for a deck, but Necrozma/Garbodor has the potential to succeed in nearly any metagame. If you can master it, or at least develop a strong grasp on it, Necrozma/Garbodor is an excellent play.

Gardevoir GX

Pokemon – 18

4 Ralts BUS
2 Kirlia BUS
3 Gardevoir GX
1 Gallade BKT
3 Tapu Lele GX
1 Alolan Vulpix GRI
1 Oranguru SUM
1 Oricorio GRI
1 Sudowoodo GRI
1 Comfey GRI

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Sycamore
2 N
1 Brigette
1 Guzma
1 Teammates
1 Colress
1 Acerola

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Rare Candy
2 Field Blower
2 Rescue Stretcher
1 Computer Search
2 Choice Band

Energy – 12

7 Fairy
1 Wonder
4 Double Colorless

Heavily Favorable: Dark variants, Toad/Seviper, M Ray, Zoroark/Lycanroc
Favorable: Necrozma/Garbodor, Night March, Turbo Turtles
Even: Golisopod, Sableye/Garb
Unfavorable: Trevenant, Vikavolt
Heavily Unfavorable: None
Flexibility: High
Ease of play: Medium

The list provided here is one card off of my list from Daytona, bringing Comfey into the deck to address a significant uptick in conditions.

Expanded Gardevoir has been repeatedly written off by a large portion of the playerbase, but I think this trend is likely to end following its success in Daytona. The matchup spread that I have provided is for this list specifically, with Night March, Turbo Turtles, mirror, Dark, M Rayquaza, Toad/Seviper and Trevenant subject to change depending on 1-2 cards for each. I have decided to sacrifice the Trevenant matchup with this build as it is the most space-intensive to counter and among the least popular. Gardevoir’s biggest flaw is that it cannot possibly answer every deck in Expanded simultaneously, meaning any given build will have a bad matchup somewhere. That said, its bad matchups are typically manageable, with the exception of Night March and Rayquaza being autolosses without dedicated answers. I expect this deck to continue to grow in success as more top players begin to pick it up.

Consider this deck if you have a decent idea of what the metagame will look like at your event. Gardevoir can be built to beat anything, but poor tech selection can lead to an undesirable tournament experience. The deck is not too difficult to play, so you won’t need to spend a huge amount of time with it to play it at least moderately well.

Night March

Pokemon – 20

4 Joltik PHF
4 Pumpkaboo PHF
4 Lampent PHF
2 Shaymin EX
1 Tapu Lele GX
1 Marshadow GX
2 Zorua DEX 70
2 Zoroark GX

Trainers – 36

3 Professor Sycamore
1 N
1 Ghetsis
1 Pokemon Ranger
1 Guzma
1 Lysandre
1 Teammates

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Battle Compressor
4 Puzzle of Time
4 Trainers’ Mail
1 Field Blower
1 Special Charge
1 Computer Search
1 Choice Band
1 Float Stone

2 Dimension Valley

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

-Gustavo Wada’s top 4 list altered to include a 2-2 Zoroark GX line. Alternatively, you could drop 1-1 Zoroark GX to add a Shaymin EX and a card of your choice, but I like a 2-2 for the Necrozma/Garb matchup. Exeggcute is another option, but I’ve been unable to find space for it so far.

Heavily Favorable: Gardevoir (w/o Oricorio and Rescue Stretcher), Vikavolt, Zoroark/Lycanroc, M Ray
Favorable: Dark Variants, Turbo Turtles, Golisopod
Even: Trevenant
Unfavorable: Gardevoir (w/ Oricorio and Rescue Stretcher), Sableye/Garb
Heavily Unfavorable: Necrozma/Garb, Toad/Seviper
Flexibility: Medium-Low
Ease of play: Hard

As previously stated, Night March is the gatekeeper of Expanded. It holds a very high number of favorable matchups, though it does take a poor matchup to Necrozma/Garbodor. The 2-2 Zoroark line goes a long way in buffing this matchup, but I would still give Necrozma/Garbodor a slight edge. The Trevenant matchup becomes much more manageable, usually coming down to the opening coin flip. If you’re able to develop a Zoroark GX, your second comes online fairly easily. Due to the deck’s unparalleled aggression and efficiency, Night March will likely be an indefinite mainstay of Expanded.

Consider this deck if you are confident that counters (Oricorio, Karen) will be unpopular or that you can play around them. Night March is the absolute best deck to play if you anticipate a field primarily composed of tiers 3 and 4, and it is also a very strong play into an open or unpredictable metagame. If you expect a field full of capable Necrozma/Garbodor and Gardevoir players, it may be better to leave Night March at home.

Dark Decks

Turbo Darkrai

Pokemon – 13

3 Darkrai EX BKP
1 Darkrai EX DEX
3 Darkrai GX
1 Malamar EX
1 Hoopa EX
2 Shaymin EX
1 Yveltal XY
1 Sudowoodo GRI

Trainers – 34

3 Professor Juniper
2 N
1 Colress
2 Guzma
1 Hex Maniac

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Dark Patch
3 Max Elixir
3 Battle Compressor
1 Field Blower
1 Escape Rope
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Fighting Fury Belt

2 Sky Field

Energy – 13

13 Darkness

-Chris Siakala’s top 4 Ft. Wayne list. The deck has changed very little with time, and I still consider this build among the best.

Heavily Favorable: Trevenant, Rayquaza (if you include Sudowoodo)
Favorable: Sableye/Garb
Even: Toad/Seviper, Golisopod variants
Unfavorable: Night March, Darkrai GX, Vikavolt, Necrozma/Garb, Zoroark/Lycanroc, Turbo Turtles
Heavily Unfavorable: Gardevoir, Rayquaza (without Sudowoodo)
Flexibility: Low
Ease of play: Easy

Darkrai GX

Pokemon – 

3 Darkrai GX
2 Darkrai EX DEX
2 Shaymin EX
1 Tapu Lele GX
1 Oranguru SUM
1 Sableye DEX
1 Oricorio GRI 56

Trainers – 

3 Professor Sycamore
1 N
2 Guzma
1 Hex Maniac

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Dark Patch
4 Max Elixir
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Battle Compressor
1 Field Blower
1 Super Rod
1 Computer Search
3 Choice Band

3 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

10 Darkness

-Daniel Altavilla’s top 16 Darkrai GX list

Heavily Favorable: Trevenant
Favorable: Turbo Turtles, Turbo Dark
Even: Toad/Seviper, Vikavolt, Necrozma/Garb, Sableye/Garb
Unfavorable: Night March, Golisopod
Heavily Unfavorable: Gardevoir, Rayquaza, Zoroark/Lycanroc
Flexibility: Low
Ease of play: Easy

Though the two Dark variants share an engine and a spot on the tier list, their matchup spreads end up being fairly different. Turbo Dark has been a rock in Expanded since its release and will likely continue to be, though it looks shakier now than it has in the past. Darkrai GX is a much newer deck, born to combat some of Turbo Dark’s issues while improving on the Turbo Turtonator matchup significantly. In the current metagame, I would say that Darkrai GX is the superior play between the two, having an edge on speed and a superior ability to play around Black Ray GX.

Consider Turbo Dark if you anticipate a large amount of Trevenant and Sableye/Garbodor. These decks can’t deal enough damage to find knockouts, with Trevenant struggling to counteract the pressure you apply and Sableye/Garb having a hard time dealing with 13 basic energy. If Gardevoir and Night March look to be well represented, you’re best off choosing a different deck.

Consider Darkrai GX if you expect to see a great deal of Trevenant, Turtonator, and Turbo Dark, though this deck is a fairly strong play into an unknown metagame as well due to its speed and wealth of even matchups. Darkrai GX has notably worse matchups against Sableye/Garbodor, Golisopod, and Rayquaza, as the first has to deal with fewer energy and the latter two use attackers that are outside of your damage cap. These decks are not particularly popular, however, especially in comparison to the popularity of the superior matchups in Turtonator and Turbo Dark. Again, you’re aiming to avoid Gardevoir and Night March; another deck would be a better choice if you expect a lot of the two.

Turbo Turtles

Pokemon – 12

3 Turtonator GX
3 Volcanion EX
2 Volcanion STS
1 Ho-Oh GX BUS
2 Shaymin EX
1 Tapu Lele GX

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Sycamore
1 N
1 Colress
3 Blacksmith
1 Guzma
1 Acerola
1 Kiawe
1 Karen

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
2 Battle Compressor
1 Field Blower
1 Computer Search
2 Fighting Fury Belt
2 Float Stone

3 Scorched Earth

Energy – 16

16 Fire

-Sam Chen’s 2nd place Ft. Wayne list with Fighting Fury Belt over Muscle Band to aid a variety of matchups.

Heavily Favorable: Golisopod/Garbodor
Favorable: Turbo Dark, Golisopod/Zoroark, Trevenant, Zoroark/Lycanroc, Sableye/Garbodor
Even: Gardevoir without Sudowoodo, Seismitoad/Seviper, Rayquaza
Unfavorable: Necrozma/Garb, Gardevoir with Sudowoodo, Night March, Darkrai GX, Vikavolt
Heavily Unfavorable: None
Flexibility: Low
Ease of play: Easy

Turbo Turtles has had a strange life cycle. Originally a rogue concept built by Rahul Reddy, the deck exploded in popularity in league cups following Fort Wayne. It brought a great deal of this popularity into Daytona, only to encounter a much more hostile metagame. Originally poised for success with favorable matchup in Golisopod and Turbo Dark, a newly refined Necrozma/Garbodor presented a major obstacle for the fire turtle. In addition, Night March and Gardevoir saw increased popularity, with some Turbo Dark splitting off into Darkrai GX, a deck much more capable of dealing with Turtonator. A combination of these factors resulted in this popular archetype only pushing one player into day 2, though he did finish in the top 16. The deck certainly still retains a set of strong matchups, but its weak ones take up a larger portion of the format than they once did.

Consider this deck if you anticipate a large amount of Golisopod, Darkrai, and disruption based decks. Turtonator’s large health pool, reliably high damage, and ability to continuously recover basic energy make it quite strong against each of the three. This kind of metagame would be much more likely to develop in a community that is not at the forefront of the Expanded metagame developments. In a community that closely follows and adapts with current metagame trends, however, Turbo Turtonator will struggle to find the matchups that it was built to beat.

Trevenant

Pokemon – 15

4 Phantump BKP
4 Trevenant XY
3 Trevenant BREAK
2 Tapu Lele GX
2 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Sycamore
2 N
2 Wally
1 Lysandre
1 Guzma
1 Team Flare Grunt
1 Xerosic
1 AZ
1 Delinquent
1 Karen

4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Trainers’ Mail
1 Super Rod
1 Captivating Poke Puff
1 Computer Search
3 Bursting Balloon
1 Head Ringer

3 Dimension Valley
1 Silent Lab

Energy – 7

7 Psychic

-Bob Zhang’s 2nd place Daytona list.

Heavily Favorable: Vikavolt
Favorable: Necrozma/Garb, Gardevoir, Night March, Toad/Seviper, Rayquaza, Sableye/Garbodor
Even: Night March/Zoroark, Golisopod/Garbodor
Unfavorable: Turbo Turtles
Heavily Unfavorable: Dark Variants, Golisopod/Zoroark, Zoroark/Lycanroc
Flexibility: Low
Ease of play: Medium

Trevenant’s journey this season has been tumultuous at best. Originally heralded as one of the strongest decks in Expanded, the community’s public enemy number one experienced a fall from grace reminiscent of 2011 LostGar. Beginning with terrible results in Fort Wayne, Trevenant saw its popularity hit an abrupt cliff in the League Cup season to follow, eventually regarded as terrible by much of the community. Unexpectedly, Bob Zhang took the deck to an incredible 2nd place finish at Daytona regionals with a totally overhauled list. He streamlined it, pushed speed and consistency over disruption, and dropped Necrozma GX, a card once heralded as a meta breaker for Trevenant. While it is uncertain whether the deck will see a rise in success from here or drop back to its spot in the trench, Trevenant’s abilities to lock items as early as turn 1 and punish any deck that aims to use low-HP basics will remain its key threats.

Consider this deck if it is unexpected. Giratina Promo is a threat to Trevenant’s viability and can easily be splashed into anything. Zoroark GX is also difficult for the deck to deal with. If you can play Trevenant into a metagame that includes neither of these cards (and a minimal Dark presence), your odds of success increase drastically. If your predicted metagame does not follow this outline, Trevenant is better left for another day.

Golisopod GX Variants

Golisopod/Zoroark

Pokemon – 18

3 Wimpod BUS
3 Golisopod GX
3 Zorua DEX 70
1 Zoroark BLW
2 Zoroark BKT
1 Zoroark GX
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Tapu Koko SM30
1 Oricorio GRI 56
1 Seismitoad EX

Trainers – 33

3 Professor Juniper
3 N
2 Acerola
2 Guzma
1 Brigette
1 Teammates
1 Colress

4 Ultra Ball
1 Heavy Ball
4 VS Seeker
1 Field Blower
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Computer Search
3 Choice Band
3 Float Stone

Energy – 9

4 Double Colorless
4 Blend GRPD
3 Grass

-A list I created by referencing Nick Robinson’s top 16 Golisopod/Garbodor and my memory of Aaron Tarbell’s top 16 Golisopod/Zoroark.

Heavily Favorable: Trevenant, Toad/Seviper, Zoroark/Lycanroc
Favorable: Necrozma/Garbodor, Darkrai GX
Even: Gardevoir, Turbo Dark, Golisopod/Zoroark, Rayquaza
Unfavorable: Night March, Turbo Turtles, Vikavolt, Sableye/Garbodor
Heavily Unfavorable: None
Flexibility: Medium-High
Ease of play: Medium-Hard

Golisopod/Garbodor

Pokemon – 17

3 Wimpod BUS
3 Golisopod GX
3 Trubbish PLS 65
2 Garbodor GRI
1 Garbodor BKP
2 Seismitoad EX
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Tapu Koko SM30

Trainers – 32

3 Professor Juniper
3 N
2 Acerola
2 Guzma
1 Brigette
1 Teammates
1 Colress
1 Karen

4 Ultra Ball
1 Heavy Ball
3 VS Seeker
1 Field Blower
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Computer Search
3 Choice Band
4 Float Stone

Energy – 11

4 Blend GRPD
3 Rainbow
4 Double Colorless

-Nick Robinson’s top 16 Daytona list.

Heavily Favorable: Zoroark/Lycanroc
Favorable: Darkrai GX, Toad/Seviper, Night March
Even: Necrozma/Garb, Gardevoir, Turbo Dark, Golisopod/Zoroark
Unfavorable: Trevenant, Vikavolt, Rayquaza, Sableye/Garbodor
Heavily Unfavorable: Turbo Turtles
Flexibility: Medium
Ease of play: Medium-Hard

Both variants of Golisopod saw a great deal of play in Ft. Wayne, with Golisopod/Garbodor being the more popular and successful of the two. The decks hit for decent damage and abuse Acerola and Guzma better than any other deck. While Golisopod/Garbodor aims to take advantage of Garbotoxin and Trashalanche, Golisopod/Zoroark aims to use the wide variety of powerful Zoroarks to swing several matchups into more favorable territory. With the release of Zoroark GX, I see Golisopod/Zoroark as the stronger of the two as it receives a buff to the Trevenant and Necrozma/Garbodor matchups. Really, it probably belongs in Tier 2 (or maybe even tier 1), but the lack of results behind it at the moment make that hard to justify. The coming weeks will prove the validity of my assessment here, and either version may very well overtake the other on the list.

Consider Golisopod/Zoroark if you want to play a Golisopod deck and do not expect Night March to be widely played. While the deck now boasts almost universally superior matchups to its Garbodor wielding brethren, your ability to beat Night March takes a notable nosedive. If Night March and Turbo Turtles look to be the most popular decks at your event, finding success with Golisopod/Zoroark will be quite a task.

Consider Golisopod/Garbodor if you want to enjoy Golisopod’s favorable matchups while packing a better answer to Night March. Though many of your more favorable matchups drop into the even bracket, your odds of winning a Night March heavy event increase significantly. In addition to the aforementioned Turbo Turtles, Trevenant becomes a bit unusual as you don’t have a clean answer to their attackers. In the event you expect a great deal of these decks, you’re better off going with something else.

That will conclude the free portion of this article. If you would like to continue reading, you can subscribe to The Charizard Lounge’s premium service for the low cost of a Patreon contribution and a compliment to Andrew Wamboldt’s patience. It truly knows no bounds.

Kidding, of course (though Wamboldt’s patience really is boundless)! Though I do support the paywall model and think that the hate they currently receive is ridiculous, I couldn’t resist taking a poke at it myself. Thank you to anyone who has made it this far! I hope that this article has provided some insight on which decks may be best for your upcoming events, whether they be League Challenges, League Cups, or Regionals. As always, I’ll be happy to answer any questions regarding this article to the best of my ability. I’ll also be happy to argue with anyone who disagrees with me, as this tier list is undeniably controversial. Again, thank you for reading, and I look forward to speaking with you all!

10 thoughts on “The New Face of Expanded and an Update to Gardevoir

  1. This is maybe the best article i have ever read on the topic of the pokemon tcg. Absolutely stellar depth of knowledge, especially the matchup rubric. My locals only plays expanded and seeing an article of this calibre is so great (especially without a pay wall). Thanks for all the effort!

    • Thank you for all of the kind words, and thank you for reading as well! I hope that this article will help give you an edge in your locals, and hopefully larger events, if you manage to make them.

  2. Fabulous article! Such a thoroughly comprehensive breakdown of an entire format.
    Something that really puzzles me, though, is why everyone seems to have forgotten Seismitoad/Crobat. I play it all the time on the TCGO and it absolutely slays. Night March is an autowin (I’ve played against it probably 30 times in the last month, and haven’t lost to it once with Toad/Bats). With Gardevoir-GX, as long as you get a turn one quaking punch (to prevent rare candy) the game is yours. As for Necrozma/Garb, everything about Toad/Bats counters it. Trubbish tool drop? Item lock. Mew? Silent Lab. Necrozma-GX? Super Scoop Up and Acerola to the rescue. And then tier 3 decks like Turbo Turtonator and Turbo Dark are also favorable for obvious reasons. Trevenant BREAK and Golisopod-GX are admittedly decks you’d rather avoid, but I don’t think they comprise enough of the meta to make Toad/Bats bad.
    Well anyways, thanks for making such a high quality article free!

    • I think Toad/Bats has fallen by the wayside as decks have become both faster and more resilient to item lock. Night March will certainly go your way more often than not, but many of your other matchups are contested. Necrozma/Garb is favored for you, for sure, but it’s not quite as one-sided as you may think. Their attacker diversity allows them to contest even the theoretically worst of matchups. Tool Drop, Mew, and Necrozma would not necessarily be their gameplan; they may choose to focus on Trashalanche and Drampa GX. Gardevoir is going to reliably be able to set up 2 GX’s under Item Lock through Vulpix and Teammates, and their Acerola is incredibly strong. This is a matchup that a skilled Gardevoir player will be able to win at least half the time, likely more. Turtonator is somewhat vulnerable to Seismitoad due to weakness, but Shell Trap and Blacksmith are potent tools in their arsenal that will counteract your gameplan quite effectively. Turbo Dark gets a turn of items that will give them the opportunity to explode onto the board. This may not make the matchup favorable for them, but it gives them a reasonable shot.

      Of course, none of this is to say that Seismitoad/Crobat is a bad deck. It has undeniable strengths that have been consistently strong through many formats. That said, it has a significant number of highly contested matchups that have prevented it from seeing continued success in the current expanded format. It may see a resurgence, but skilled players may also find that they can navigate the matchup well enough to produce a win a fair amount of the time. In this sense, Toad/Bats falls into a similar niche as Sableye/Garbodor. It requires a great deal of skill to pilot effectively and suffers against high-caliber players, though it could very likely take someone through day 1.

      • Thanks so much for the detailed reply! Great match-up analysis and comparing it to Sableye/Garb definitely puts it into better perspective for me.

    • It would fall into tier 4 due to its very low representation. As for matchups, you could expect something like this:

      Heavily Favored: Golisopod/Zoroark, Golisopod/Garbodor, Lycanroc/Zoroark
      Favored: Darkrai GX, Mega Rayquaza, Night March, Turbo Turtles
      Even: Gardevoir (this is probably either favored or disfavored depending on whether Gardevoir has Oricorio/Stretcher), Turbo Dark, Vikavolt(? I’m really not sure on this one)
      Disfavored: Necrozma/Garbodor
      Heavily Disfavored: Trevenant, Sableye/Garbodor

      This is going off of the list that Andrew posted in his most recent article on the deck. He would definitely have a more accurate answer to give you, but this is my assessment, using various parts of his article as a reference.

      I’ve left off Seismitoad/Seviper because it’s a really strange matchup that I’d have to test to be able to say goes one way or another. It’s either heavily favored or heavily disfavored, and my inclination is heavily disfavored. They have the ability to trade favorably with poison and are almost definitely playing Karen.

      I would stray away from this deck if you expect a large amount of Karen to be played, as many of this deck’s even or favorable matchups can swing to unfavorable. On the flip side, if you expect very little by way of Karen and Oricorio (moreso the former), this deck is a very strong choice.

      Hopefully this helps!

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