What’s up Beachers? This is Grant Manley here back with a few juicy and unconventional decks that I’ve concocted for the new Expanded format. I am quite excited about these decks and I am confident that they have the potential to be serious contenders.
I will likely not be attending any Fall Regionals, so I hope this article will help some of you readers get some mileage and Championship Points out of them. Before that, however, I am going to share a little bit about my Worlds experience, as I believe some of you may find it entertaining, or at least interesting. For Worlds I played an odd Night March list, and ended with a heartbreaking bubble at 33rd place.
After U.S. Nationals, I was expecting the top decks at Worlds to be M Manectric-EX variants, Metal Ray, Seismitoad-EX variants, Primal Groudon-EX, and Primal Kyogre-EX. I was anticipating these five powerful decks to dominate with only a few non-EX decks. I was incorrect on a few of these reads, which resulted in my demise. The only Manectric variant that showed up was a Grass-based one with Genesect-EX and Virizion-EX, so I suppose I got half of that right. There was also a decent amount of Primal Groudon-EX and Seismitoad-EX which I correctly predicted. What surprised me was the fact that Metal Ray and Primal Kyogre-EX were virtually non-existent. In reality, the field contained droves of Donphan, Night March, Fighting / Crobat, and some Raichu as well. I was not expecting any of these. These are all unfavorable matchups for Night March (besides the mirror match), which was the deck that I decided to play. Here’s the list I used:
I’m sure you want to question the lack of Supporter cards outside of Professor Juniper, as well as the absence of VS Seeker, the four-of staple in everything. This deck was designed to simply destroy whatever was in front of it, and basically always was able hit for 180 on the first turn. It’s easy to see why I played a deck like this predicting the big Pokemon-EX decks to make such a showing. I could easily defeat the five decks I was expecting, though the Seismitoad-EX matchup can be close if I don’t go second. I simply never had the need for Lysandre or N. The deck worked wonders in testing and never faltered in its consistency. With the ability to always deal absurd amounts of damage as early as the first turn, and its favorable matchups against every expected deck, this was an easy pick to make for Worlds.
The only out of place cards are Life Dew and the three Escape Rope. Life Dew was included in place of Computer Search after I experienced the first day of Worlds. Other Night March decks were everywhere and plenty of decks that made it through the first day of Worlds used non-EX attackers. Denying just one Prize card in the mirror match or against something like Raichu was crucial. The three Escape Rope are purely amazing. They act as makeshift Lysandres more often than not, and also provide the obligatory switching out in the event of a Shaymin-EX start. I am also adamant about Fighting Energy being the optimal basic Energy for the Worlds format. Fighting / Bats with Focus Sash made quite the showing, and the ability to Hammerhead with Mew-EX against one or two Focus Sashes can make all the difference. Against Donphan, Mew-EX can use Spinning Turn to KO a Robo Substitute and go safely into a Pumpkaboo or Shaymin-EX if Sky Return is unavailable or undesirable.
Here is a summary of how my rounds went in Day Two:
Round 1 vs. Donphan (Netherlands) L
Round 2 vs. Fighting / Crobat (Germany) WLW
Round 7 vs. Fighting / Crobat (Argentina) WW
After starting 0-1 and keeping the dream alive until 3-1, I was crushed by the World Champion. I finished with a respectable record of 4-2-1 but came up just short of the $2,000 worth of prizes by bubbling at 33rd. I was unfortunate to finish near the bottom of those with the same record, and I missed by about one percent of opponent’s opponent’s win percentage.
I do believe that Donphan is a very winnable matchup for my deck, but I opened with a rare dead hand and lost the first game in two turns. In the second game, my opponent played a Lysandre followed by N, and I accidentally shuffled my hand in. I was about to win the game, but our foolish mistake resulted in a double game loss, losing me the match. I somehow defeated two Crobat decks in addition to my two favorable matchups, Metal and Manectric. I was also elated at escaping my auto-loss and worst matchup, Raichu / Crobat, with a tie.
Alright, now let’s get into some Expanded decks.
2x N (NVI #92)
I know, I know. This looks like a boring Punch and Laser spam deck when I promised “juicy and unconventional” decks. I assure you my next two decks are much more rogue-ish than this, and I’m saving the best for last. However, I’ve been testing this deck, and it works really well. For the most part, this is a Seismitoad-EX / Shaymin-EX deck, with Manectric-EX for some spice and matchup coverage. Quaking Punch has always been an incredible attack, and with effective Items like Hypnotoxic Laser and Super Scoop Up, your opponent will struggle to keep up under Item lock. All of the Trainers and Pokemon with Abilities are used to support the Toad, but you can transition into attacking with Manectric whenever it is convenient.
The combination of LaserBank and Quaking Punch, as stated above, can be overwhelming. Usually you will win games with this strategy alone. On the other hand, sometimes the Toad’s weak damage output proves to be problematic, which is when you can use Manectric-EX to hit for up to 170 with the proper damage modifiers. It happens more often than you’d think, and it usually comes as a surprise. Manectric can be a powerful momentum swinger, especially if your opponent has been struggling to get multiple attackers set up under Item lock. Now I’m going to go over the card counts to help explain each decision that may not seem obvious. Of course things like the four Juniper and four VS Seeker shouldn’t really need to be explained. They are staple cards with extremely powerful effects which most decks play four of.
This isn’t too unusual, but I could see some of you leaning towards three. Four is absolutely needed. Not only do you want to start with a Seismitoad-EX every game to use Quaking Punch as soon as possible, but you also want to attack with Quaking Punch for most of the (if not the entire) game. You always want a backup blank Toad to maintain momentum after a Super Scoop Up, and I usually prefer to have a Toad with Muscle Band and a Toad with Rock Guard in play. Having four Toads also gives you the option to continue your normal game plan even if one or two are prized.
You may remember how insane the Seismitoad-EX / Shaymin-EX archetype was, and this build attempts to mimic it. Granted, you cannot use Lysandre's Trump Card, so you need to be a bit conservatory with Shaymin-EX. Thankfully, I have not found decking out to be a problem whatsoever. The main difference between this deck and the old Toad / Shaymin deck is the swapping of Hammers for Manectric-EX, which I’ll go into in a moment. The point is, Shaymin-EX is extremely useful to Toad; it allows you to draw into that fearsome first turn Double Colorless Energy + Muscle Band + Hypnotoxic Laser + Virbank City Gym much more often than you would otherwise. I could see the argument for even a fourth Shaymin-EX, though that might be overkill.
Manectric-EX has always enjoyed being paired with Seismitoad, though usually it takes the role of a forefront attacker alongside its Mega form. I chose to go with Seismitoad as the main attacker simply because I believe it’s better (Item lock is too good), but Manectric is still a powerful card. Manectric is meant to sit back and be a secondary attacker, only to swoop in and deal heavy damage when needed. Manectric also has incredible synergy with Head Ringer and Seismitoad-EX, as Toad stops opposing players from playing undesirable Tools, while Head Ringer benefits of Assault Laser.
The second reason for including Manectric is to cover matchups. Yveltal-EX decks run rampant in the Expanded format, and they can usually overrun (no pun intended) Seismitoad on its own. Manectric provides a solution to that. You can slow down Yveltal players with Quaking Punch, and then mow down Yveltal left and right with Manectric’s powerful, Weakness-boosted Assault Laser. Manectric also improves the matchup against M Manectric-EX decks, which is traditionally a difficult matchup for Toad if they get set up. Assault Laser can actually OHKO other Manectric-EX, and it won’t fear a return KO because dedicated M Manectric decks run Rough Seas instead of Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym! Manectric can also 2HKO an opposing M Manectric-EX without damage modifiers even after they heal 30 with Rough Seas.
Hoopa-EX is phenomenal in this deck. I love it! It shines brightest on the first turn if you start with it or with an Ultra Ball. It immediately fills your Bench with attackers and can fetch Shaymin-EX. Everyone knows how effective an Ultra Ball into Shaymin is, but how about an Ultra Ball into a Shaymin and two attackers? Or even two Shaymin and an attacker? Hoopa is definitely not for every deck, but it is for this one.
1 Shadow Triad
Since the only Team Plasma card in the deck is Hypnotoxic Laser, Shadow Triad’s purpose is clear. Hypnotoxic Laser is Seismitoad-EX’s only way to deal substantial damage, so I wanted a somewhat reliable way to use it even if my supply of them was already exhausted. I would normally be inclined to run more than one Shadow Triad, but the four copies of VS Seeker alleviate the need for that. The ability to VS Seeker for a Hypnotoxic Laser is handy.
4 Trainers’ Mail
Trainers' Mail helps you dig through the deck for whatever you might need, and adds another level of consistency to the deck. It is essentially an out to a draw card, which is always nice, but it can also be a Super Scoop Up, a Hypnotoxic Laser, or anything else you might need! It is pleasantly surprising how often you find something of use off a Trainers’ Mail.
4 Super Scoop Up
This is by far the most powerful card in the deck, despite the fact that it doesn’t do any literal damage. In my opinion, Super Scoop Up is the most notorious partner for the Toad, and I say that even when horror stories of staying Asleep under Item lock are everywhere. Super Scoop Up takes advantage of the fact that Item lock limits the opponent’s ability to set up and take OHKOs on Toads, and boom, scoops ’em right up. This is not only heals the Toad, but also preserves the cards attached to it, unlike AZ and Max Potion. Additionally, it flat out abuses Rock Guard.
Super Scoop Up has more uses than that, though! It provides an extra switching card if you just want something out of the Active. It can be an extra drawing or searching card if used on Shaymin-EX or Hoopa-EX. Heck, it can even be an Energy Switch by picking up a Pokemon with an Energy and reattaching the Energy somewhere else. How versatile! Super Scoop Up is, in short, amazing. If you flip tails, no big deal. If you flip heads though, what an advantage!
4 Hypnotoxic Laser, 3 Virbank City Gym
4-3 Laserbank is nothing special and it’s been the key part of nearly every Seismitoad-EX deck you’ve seen in the past year. I run four Hypnotoxic Laser because it is absolutely crucial to boost Toad’s damage output. It is also generally useful at any point in the game, unless you have already used a Laser that turn (or in other odd circumstances). You could apply the same logic to advocate a fourth Virbank City Gym, though four of the same Stadium card has historically been a no-no due to clunkiness issues. I don’t view this deck as an exception.
3 Ultra Ball
Switch is probably the most bland card of all time. It’s been around forever, and it’s usefulness has not been diminished. With heavy retreaters such as Seismitoad-EX and Hoopa-EX present in the deck, it’s nice to have some stable mobility.
2 Head Ringer
Head Ringer adds to the disruptive theme of the Seismitoad-EX deck, and it’s useful too. Head Ringer disrupts a wide variety of decks and makes opponent’s attacks even more difficult to pull off when used in conjunction with Quaking Punch. Head Ringer pairs nicely with Manectric-EX as well. It provides a way for Assault Laser to deal heavy damage in the event that your opponent is unable to play down Tools due to Quaking Punch or purposely avoids playing them to avoid Assault Laser KOs!
2 Muscle Band
This is another card that is useful for enhancing Seismitoad-EX’s damage output. It also allows Manectric-EX to hit for up to 170 damage, which is still a magic number. I only run two because I already run five Tools, and in testing two has been working fine. I also like to have Rock Guard on one of my Toads which means I can’t have a Muscle Band on it.
2 Weakness Policy
Weakness Policy is included due to apiphobia, the fear of bees. This deck would have a difficult matchup against Vespiquen due to Seismitoad’s Weakness, but Weakness Policy provides an easy fix. It is nearly impossible for Vespiquen to trash enough Pokemon to deal 180 damage while it is bombarded by Item-locking Quaking Punches. Weakness Policy is a dead card in many matchups, but I expect Grass-types to be popular enough to warrant its inclusion. Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse to use their secret rare Weakness Policies?
1 Tool Scrapper
This card is almost two Xerosic as an Item card. It has a multitude of niche functions and I always find some use for it. More often than not, your opponent will play Tool cards down on the one turn they can use Items. This is a handy disruption card that simply removes their Tools. It messes with Megas that needs Spirit Links and Keldeo-EX that need Float Stone especially. You can also remove opposing Head Ringer attached to your own Pokemon-EX, as it is difficult to use Quaking Punch when its Energy cost is increased by one.
1 Rock Guard
I chose Rock Guard as my Ace Spec despite Computer Search having the ability to fetch DCE’s. Rock Guard is yet another way to increase the amount of damage from Toad’s base 30. 60 damage is quite powerful for just a Tool card, and it goes nicely with Toad because you lock them from playing Tool Scrapper on it! Rock Guard will likely put at least 120 damage total on your opponent’s side each game, and I believe that warrants the Ace Spec slot. You can further utilize Rock Guard with Super Scoop Up against decks that don’t OHKO Seismitoad-EX. If they attack into your Rock Guarded Seismitoad, they take 60, and then you can scoop everything up and attach Rock Guard to your next Toad. The amount of damage that accumulates from this can get out of hand, in the best way possible.
3 Lightning, 2 Flash
I wanted five colored Energy outs and I have the space for them, but there’s no need for five basic Lightning Energy. Why not run Flash Energy? You use Quaking Punch for the cost of a DCE nine or 10 times out of 10, so you won’t rely on basic Lightning to cover Punch’s cost anyway. Flash Energy makes Manectric-EX useful against Fighting decks instead of being a liability. You could even run four Flash Energy, but when you start Shaymin-EX going first, you will appreciate having a basic Lightning Energy to retreat it into Toad on that turn or the next. Of course, there is always the option of using Quaking Punch fueled by Lightnings, rare though it may be. Hopefully I explained this part well enough, but to be honest your split won’t make too much of a difference most of the time.
Now that we’ve taken a look at my first deck, it’s time to take a look two other decks I have been testing and tweaking for this format. Seismitoad-EX / Shaymin-EX may not have been the most fun or exciting deck, but I assure you, these next two decks are quite odd, and equally deadly.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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