Expanding the Game: A Look at the Expanded Format for Fall Regionals
What’s up, PokeBeach? This is my first article here, and I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the awesome team of PokeBeach writers! Today I will be talking about the upcoming Expanded format in which this year’s Fall Regionals will be played under. This is a massive format, spanning from the first Black and White expansion up through our most current set (currently, that is Ancient Origins). That’s a whopping 18 sets in one format! With so many different cards available to players, the format is bound to be as unpredictable as ever. Today we will take a sneak peek at some of the decks that I think could do well at these all-Expanded format Regionals.
To comprehend what we are looking at here, you’d have to look at all of the potential decks and combinations from the 2013-2014 Standard format up until today’s Expanded format. Also, with newer cards getting mixed into the same card pool as those that were rotated out last year or will be rotating this year, there are bound to be plenty of new combos that haven’t even seen the tournament tables yet! Of course, I do expect some old favorites to return as well. For one, Eelektrik-based decks are welcomed back into the format, as are decks based around everyone’s favorite Fire and Water-type Energy accelerators – Emboar and Blastoise! Naturally, this format brings back countless other favorites such as Dusknoir, Accelgor, Lugia-EX, Genesect-EX, Garbodor, Empoleon, Hypnotoxic Laser / Virbank City Gym, Colress, N, and all of the Ace Spec cards, just to name a few! With all of these wonderful cards coming back into the format, there are sure to be a lot of different decks that will be played come tournament time.
Of course, building and choosing your deck carefully is every bit as crucial as playing correctly and avoiding misplays as often as possible. (We’re all human, and we all misplay sometimes.) It is also important to play something that you are comfortable with and that you enjoy. This will help make large-scale tournaments seem less stressful and should also allow you to better focus on the game. Of course, some decks are more powerful than others in certain formats and certain tech cards can alter almost any matchup. This makes playtesting that much more important. To help you look at the format, I’ve assembled a list of decks that I believe could be played in October’s Expanded format Regional Championships.
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Throughout this article, I’m going to mention many Pokemon from the new set, Ancient Origins. As there are currently not scans of this set, if there are any cards you don’t know what they do, click here to go to the Bandit Ring page. You can find all of the translations there.
M Rayquaza-EX / Bronzong
M Rayquaza-EX / Bronzong (or Metal Mega Ray, as I like to call it) has a fantastic board of matchups all around, although it remains to be seen if it can deal with the new Vespiquen / Eevee deck that has surfaced with the release of Ancient Origins. My guess is that it will be fine, largely thanks to Aegislash-EX. This deck deals with Seismitoad-EX very well, once again due to Aegislash-EX’s Mighty Shield Ability, Bronzong’s Ability to recycle discarded Metal Energy and also Cobalion-EX‘s Righteous Edge attack. This deck’s bad matchups include Manectric-EX, M Manectric-EX, and Blastoise decks that run off of Archie's Ace in the Hole. With a teched Altaria line, you just might be able to conquer the entire board using the overwhelming power of M Rayquaza-EX!
Rayquaza-EX / Eelektrik
This is a much older deck that now has the chance to resurface due to some of the newer cards from Roaring Skies and Ancient Origins, with some nifty new combos up its sleeve. Keep in mind that although this deck can be very vulnerable to Ability lock, it is also capable of one-shotting any Pokemon in the game with Rayquaza-EX‘s Dragon Burst attack. This deck has received a few new toys to make that easier to pull off, which I will go over in a bit and which I believe can make this deck return as a contender in Expanded format tournaments. Matchup-wise, this deck tends to do well against the popular Bronzong-based decks, M Rayquaza-EX, Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX and it also has a decent matchup with Seismitoad-EX. The main worry here is Vespiquen and anything that is running a thick Crobat line, as they tend to force an unfavorable Prize exchange for you and can also take out your Benched Eelektriks, thus denying you any Energy acceleration. Overall, though, this deck has tested very well and should be a strong candidate for this fall’s Regionals.
Primal Groudon-EX decks set up slower than a snail and most of the time they aren’t even attacking while they’re trying to set up! So, why do I feel this deck is better off in Expanded format than in Standard? Simple: One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered when playtesting Primal Groudon-EX lists is the lack of draw power, especially since they tend to run Wobbuffet and/or Silent Lab, both of which prevent you from using cards like Shaymin-EX or Jirachi-EX to speed up the process. Enter the game’s ultimate chase card from 2012 until last fall’s rotation – Tropical Beach. This card offers the necessary draw power that this deck needs to set up more quickly and more consistently, while also serving as a damage booster for Primal Groudon-EX’s Gaia Volcano attack. With Wobbuffet to lock down Abilities, this deck has solid matchups almost entirely across the board, save for decks like Vespiquen (I’m noticing a pattern here) and other non-EX decks that offer an unfavorable Prize trade. If you can either avoid these decks or find a way to tech against them, though, you should be golden.
The Queen Bee from the Pokemon world. If Beedrill represented King Zing Sting, than I suppose Vespiquen equates to Bumble Bee Rumble. Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2 references aside, this is a great card and a great deck. Vespiquen’s Bee Revenge attack is exactly the same as the Team Plasma Flareon‘s Vengeance attack. It’s also ironic that this card resembles Flareon so much, because the new Flareon is one of her main support Pokemon, alongside Jolteon and Vaporeon from Ancient Origins. Flareon, Jolteon and Vaporeon each have Abilities that treat all Stage 1 Pokemon you have in play as their type (Fire for Flareon, Lightning for Jolteon, and Water for Vaporeon) in addition to that Stage 1 Pokemon’s original type. This means that if you have a Flareon, a Jolteon and a Vaporeon on your Bench, your Vespiquen is now a Grass type, Fire type, Water type, AND a Lightning type all at once! Thus, it can hit for four different Weaknesses! Four! With cards like Battle Compressor, Unown, and Audino to fuel the discard pile, Vespiquen can hit hard and fast and can hit the Weaknesses of an awful lot of popular Pokemon in play right now, while still only giving up one Prize. This gives Vespiquen great matchups against M Rayquaza-EX, Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX, Plasma Lugia-EX, Landorus-EX, Seismitoad-EX or pretty much anything that runs off of Pokemon-EX as their primary attackers. Your one (very) bad matchup here is Crobat. I’ve learned the hard way that Bats eat the Queen Bee alive, but I guess that’s the price of having positive matchups across the rest of the board.
In Depth Analysis
Of course, there is much more to learn about these decks than what I have mentioned above. Lists are key, as are any techs you might want to play and getting your numbers just right. I have crafted and playtested lists for a handful of Expanded decks that look to be contenders this fall and I’m willing to share them with all of you!
So are you ready to improve your game right here and right now?
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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