Victory Road – My Cities Run and the Two Best Decks in Expanded

Hello Beachers! I’m finally back from the grind that is the City Championship season. This wonderful time of year that starts in mid-December and ends in mid-January. I always tell my friends that this is the dreaded “Cities grind” that is very necessary to securing that Worlds invitation. Almost every weekend in December and early January is dedicated to these tournaments, so I’m sure you understand how much of my past month has been spent on the Pokemon TCG!

With this there comes a large amount of testing and research. The Cities metagame is constantly shifting and varies based on the area that you’re in. I will go in depth on how this metagame changes and how it varies based on area. In addition to that, I will describe reasons why metagames shift, and how to predict what you will be playing against in the future.

We also have another elephant in the room, and that is Regional Championships coming up in almost a month! My only Expanded format Cities were very early in the season. For those that haven’t been testing Expanded in a while, I hope to provide you with a good refresher and what I believe are the best plays for Expanded.

Meta Shifts

City Championships bring out the creativeness in skilled and daring players. Players that know how to build decks well and how to trump popular plays in their respective area come out in the mid to late part of the Cities season and tend to do well. Sometimes these decks are incredibly confusing and are just plain weird to those in other areas. Let’s talk about how plays in certain areas are established as the most popular deck.

The first weekend of Cities is always very confusing for a lot of players. Players tend to stick to very typical and standard meta calls that they find lists for online. I will go out and say this right now: the typical Pokemon player isn’t very creative, which is why the first weekend of Cities is awkward and limited in options. The metagame expands as a whole once the popular decks become established and players find ways to beat those decks.

So in saying that, areas will have popular plays. This format is incredibly healthy in that there are a lot of viable decks. I think the worst question I always get asked by players is “”What should I play for Cities?”. I’ve already gone over metagaming in my past articles, and how futile it can be in a lot of situations.

Popular decks become established by winning local tournaments. I think the most common play in the Kansas / West Missouri / Nebraska metagame was Night March. These decks swarmed the top cuts of most Cities early in my area, and thus players flocked to these decks, while others played Crobat decks to counter them.

However, I visited Marietta, Georgia for their City Championships and was surprised to see people playing M Mewtwo-EX decks! How in the world do people play that type of deck with all the Night March around? Turns out, Night March decks were far and few between in that particular area, allowing all sorts of different things to be played.

So, how do we evolve with the metagame and try to be a step ahead of it?

My Cities Run

Given that we can see trends in the metagame and predict what will be popular based on last weekend’s Cities or even yesterday’s, we can probably deduce that players may try to emulate the success of other players. We can also assume that players will try to beat what was popular in the previous Cities.

My solution? Play something that has a fair matchup against both decks. Here are the list of Cities that I played at, the decks I played, and the reason I chose them. I played a plethora of different decks, and I strongly suggest that you don’t stubbornly stick with a single deck unless it’s overwhelmingly the best play for you.

Greeley, Colorado (Yveltal / Zoroark / Gallade, 1-2 Drop)

I tested this particular deck for a couple weeks before this City Championship. The deck had some clunky hands and I wasn’t 100% sure about it, but I felt like I was just unlucky a lot of the time in testing. Since Steve Guthrie and Kevin Baxter had so much success with the deck, it just had to be consistent. I even played their exact lists at times. I deviated very little from their respective lists, and still drew pretty horribly in this tournament. Call it me being unskilled with the deck, but I just wasn’t a fan of it at all. I felt like I was getting a jump on the metagame with this deck not being too popular yet, but I just didn’t do well.

Independence, Missouri (Vespiquen / Flareon, 3-0-2 Swiss, City Champion)

This Cities was one of the few Expanded ones that I played in. Testing beforehand told me that Vespiquen / Flareon was the play in an area with very little Archeops. I took a chance and assumed there would be little Archeops. Now, I had no prior results to see. I was kind of walking in blind into this Cities, but I figured that players would be cutting Archeops from their lists similar to the last weekend of Fall Regionals. Another thing to keep in mind is that in small tournaments, a lot of players that you play in the first few rounds of Swiss aren’t exactly serious players. They tend to play what does well for them at league. That doesn’t mean that they cannot defeat you with the right draws. I made a solid choice for this particular tournament, not facing any Archeops all day. It didn’t stop me from playing my stopgap to Archeops, and that is a single copy of Wobbuffet. I swept most of my opponents with a flurry of Vespiquen and Flareon, and didn’t lose a single game all day until the finals, where I dropped game two against my opponent playing Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX. Here is the list I played again in case you missed it in my last article. This list also won a Cities in Arizona while being piloted by my good friend Charlene Clements.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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