Aloha ‘Beach goers! I hope all is well. States are now finished so there won’t be any more major Standard-format tournaments in the United States between now and Nationals. That’s a lot of time for the format to brew. As always, PokeBeach will be keeping you updated on all the latest information as Spring Regionals approaches.
I’m super excited about the current Expanded format. The Standard metagame has turned relatively stale thanks to Night March‘s domination, so looking at the options Expanded has to offer is a breath of fresh air. In this article, I will be discussing two unique Expanded decks to start off your testing for Spring Regionals, one of which is a brand new, never-seen-before, Jolteon-EX list that I’ve been working on! I’m also going to go into depth on Night March / Archeops‘ matchups against the most popular decks in the format right now. By the time you finish reading this article, you will understand the strategy behind each deck and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
In recent news, Night March finally seems to be under pressure in the Standard format. Players have adapted to the metagame well and the format has shifted drastically since week one of States. Dark decks are playing thicker Zoroark lines with no Yveltal-EX, Vespiquen / Vileplume decks are playing copies of Jolteon-EX, and there are Giratina-EX decks galore earning top placements.
Brief States Recap
I just returned from Ohio States where I was able to claim another Top 8 finish with Night March, the only Night March to top cut in Ohio. Overall, this weekend was a great showing for my friends and me! Alex Hill finished in the Top 4 of Ohio with his unique Vespiquen / Vileplume / Jolteon-EX / Regirock deck and Kevin Baxter won the entire event with his Zoroark deck!
I ended up losing to Kevin Baxter in a close Top 8 series. He was piloting a Dark list with multiple Target Whistle and a plethora of non-EX attackers, so I knew I would have to have a couple things fall my way in order to pull off the win. Unfortunately, that’s not how things went. Early in game one I had an opportunity to Lysandre a Shaymin-EX with my confused Joltik to go for a possible two-Prize lead. I went for the KO, wagering that it would secure me a win, and whiff — I lost my Joltik and gave Kevin a free Prize. He proceeded to take an easy win for game one. Luckily, I was able to bench him during game two to take a quick victory.
Baxter went first for game three while I mulliganed six times. Six mulligans with a Night March deck! The insanity! Kevin started with a huge advantage and was able to set up his board and Judge me on turn one. I recovered from the Judge, but was forced to bench several Shaymin in order to stream attackers. Kevin, of course, took advantage of this by using Lysandre, while never giving me an opportunity to Target Whistle a Shaymin because he never put one into play or the discard. Regardless, it was a great series and the matches were intense! I even had a potential play to win game one after losing my Joltik early; I just needed to top-deck a VS Seeker on my last turn in a four card deck, but that’s how things work out sometimes. I’m proud of how I played and happy to have topped in another State Championship.
As far as my deck goes, Pokémon Catcher proved helpful all day. I was able to pull off the win versus Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX and Reshiram / Giratina-EX during Swiss rounds because of the Catchers and a single copy of Xerosic. I also played two copies of Hex Maniac, anticipating a large amount of Greninja BREAK and Vileplume decks, but ultimately played against neither. I played without Buddy-Buddy Rescue and didn’t miss it at all, though I was required to be more cautious. I also only played one copy of Fighting Fury Belt, which ended up working fine. Two is definitely good against Yveltal, but one still allowed me to put pressure on Kevin in the right circumstances.
Finally, I want to give a quick shout out to Beach Subscriber Mike Moore, who also finished in the Top 8 of Ohio States with Toad / Giratina. He handed me my only defeat during Swiss rounds! Congratulations on your first top cut!
Now that’s enough about States. It’s time to move on to the rest of the season! Many of us, myself included, still have League Challenges to catch up on. I had my first LC this last weekend near the Ohio States venue, finishing third out of a total of 33 players. However, for those of you who won’t be marathoning LCs like me, Spring Regionals is the next big thing on the schedule. I am thinking about making plans for Wisconsin Regionals this year. It’s a nine-hour drive for me, but if I attend and Top 8, I will have much better odds of landing myself somewhere in the Top 16 of U.S. / Canada with a respectable Nationals finish. If not, it’ll be all or nothing during U.S. Nationals for a day two invite. I’m a little torn as to whether or not the investment will be worth it. Of course, I want to attend, but I also want to save money so that I can have great Nationals and Worlds experiences this year.
Night March 2.0
Night March has under-performed in Expanded so far this year. Despite its massive success elsewhere, Night March has only earned two Top 8 honors at Regional Championships thus far. There are two primary culprits for this: Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX and Seismitoad-EX / Crobat, two mainstays in the Expanded format. To make matters worse, Night March has also struggled against Blastoise, the recently successful Trevenant BREAK, and Sableye / Garbodor. I began to crack the code for Expanded Night March during my Top 32 run at St. Louis in February, but suffered three tough matchups during day two of Swiss. Two of my poor matchups could have gone either way, while the third could have been reversed with the inclusion of a single Hex Maniac.
With Night March making headlines during State Championships, players will be eager to transition their favorite deck into the Expanded format for the upcoming Regional Championships. But don’t fret! I’m here for you Night March lovers. Though underplayed until now in Expanded, Night March is a formidable top-tier threat that boasts great matchups across the board. Let’s first take a look at my list before delving into the deck’s matchups!
With Archeops, Mew-EX and Jirachi at its disposal, Night March has the chops and flexibility to combat almost everything Expanded has to offer. Archeops slides effortlessly into the list while Jirachi’s full potential is finally brought to light when combined with Mew and Dimension Valley. It’s worth mentioning that this list will only get stronger with the release of Mew’s non-EX incarnation in Fates Collide, which will likely replace the EX version outright. Admittedly, it feels a little backwards to not include Puzzle of Time in this list, but Expanded is a completely different beast than Standard. In a way, Expanded lists cannot afford to be as speedy and potent as Standard lists because more threats need to be accounted for. With only one copy of Lysandre, no Puzzle of Time, and Mew-EX on the roster, this deck is not constructed well for the mirror. With that said, I don’t expect Night March to show up in droves during early Regional Championships, so the free deck space will be spent accounting for other, more prevalent matchups instead of the mirror.
VS. Toad / Giratina: Positive
During my competitive debut with Night March / Archeops back at Fort Wayne Regionals in the Fall, I had my chances at a Top 32 run thwarted by two Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX decks before eventually falling to Night March / Life Dew in the last round of swiss. I finished the long and disappointing day one of swiss at 6-3, just enough for a Top 64 placement. Ross Cawthon went on to finish in the Top 4 of that same event with an ahead-of-its-time Night March deck that attempted to account for Toad / Giratina by playing an Enhanced Hammer as well as a copy of Xerosic. But as we know, he ended up losing to the eventual runner up of the tournament, fellow PokeBeach writer Matt Price, who was piloting Toad / Giratina himself.
Later on in February, I found myself facing back to back Toad / Giratina decks during my fourth and fifth rounds of Swiss at St. Louis with an updated version of Night March / Archeops. This time, I won both series thanks to one card — Jirachi. Jirachi combined with Mew-EX is a potent enough combination to completely flip the Toad / Giratina matchup in Night March’s favor. While Mew is in the active spot using Stardust, Jirachi sits safely on the Bench. If the opponent skips a turn of attacking with either Chaos Wheel or Quaking Punch, it opens the floodgates for a massive Night March KO. Keeping Jirachi on the Bench as an option puts an immense amount of pressure on this completely Special Energy reliant deck. Even if Toad / Giratina is able to remove the Energy from Mew-EX, you still have the option to Stardust for free with Mew as long as you have a Dimension Valley in play.
The best part about Stardusting with Mew is that you don’t need to retreat the Mew to begin Night Marching! The most annoying part about using Stardust with Jirachi itself, is that once you earn your free turn, you need to retreat into a Night Marcher, wasting one of your precious Energy. With Mew in the active and Jirachi on the Bench, you can Stardust and Night March with one attacker, making the most of your resources.
In the unlikely scenario that the opponent is able to find a Special Energy and Lysandre to take out your Jirachi after a Stardust, there is one copy of Buddy-Buddy Rescue which will allow you to put the Jirachi back into your hand. This is an easily attainable play with the help of Teammates.
It’s imperative to only use the Joltik / Mew combo in this matchup. There is no benefit to playing Pumpkaboo versus Toad / Giratina. In fact, there are a few terrible things that can happen if you decide to play the Pumpkin. First of all, if the opponent uses Quaking Punch for 50 damage with a Hypnotoxic Laser to KO the Pumpkaboo, Teammates will not be activated. Teammates only activates if a Pokemon is KO’d during your opponents last turn and Lasers take KOs between turns. Attacking with Joltik will always ensure that you get to activate Teammates, as your opponent will likely not be able to KO it with Laser unless they don’t Quaking Punch or attack at all.
Secondly, attacking with Pumpkaboo opens the door for the opponent to block your attacks by countering your Stadium and N‘ing you to a low hand. You don’t want to be overly reliant on finding your Stadium when all you need is an Energy to finish off the game. Also, if your opponent plays Fighting Fury Belt and uses Quaking Punch for 40 damage, your Pumpkaboo can stay asleep from Laser going into your turn and then get KO’d going into your opponent’s turn, giving them a huge advantage. Unless your opponent plays something weird like Bats in their Toad / Giratina list, throw those Pumpkins away ASAP in this matchup. (It should be noted that this logic does not apply at all in Standard format. I used Pumpkaboo all the time in my Toad / Giratina matchups this past weekend. In Standard, Toad has no way to reliably OHKO Pumpkaboo, making it a reliable tank.)
Something new that I’ve added to the list since St. Louis is a single copy of Tool Scrapper. Scrapper helps with a number of matchups, but this is one of the matchups where it is most beneficial. Tool Scrapper gives you the ability to remove Head Ringer and an opposing Fighting Fury Belt or Bursting Balloon which can be a crucial turn one play when going second.
One last thing to remember in this matchup is that you can Sky Return your Mews after they have taken damage to save two Prizes and soften your opponent’s Pokemon. With Jirachi in the deck, it is viable to play a slow game and wear your opponent out, eventually ridding them of Energy with Stardust and denying them KOs with Sky Return.
VS. Toad / Bats: Neutral
Despite popular opinion that this matchup is a wash in favor of Seismitoad-EX / Crobat, my experience says that this is a matchup that can go either way. A quick OHKO on Seismitoad with a Mew-EX can be difficult for Toad / Bats to bounce back from. There is also the option to Quaking Punch the opponent on turns that may be short of the OHKO, or Stardust with Jirachi. Jirachi applies a lot of pressure in this matchup and can force the opponent into difficult situations, giving you a valuable free turn of Items.
Previously, going for the turn one Archeops was a risky play in this matchup. It’s difficult to dump enough Night Marchers on the first turn of the game while also setting up Archeops with Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. With Jirachi as an option, however, it is affordable to set up a turn one Archeops, then Stardust to buy a free turn of Items in order to dump more Night Marchers. If you get the turn one Archeops followed by an early Jirachi play, you will be able to easily skate away to victory. The opponent will be locked out of Bat damage while simultaneously knocking away their Energy, preventing them from using Quaking Punch.
Another strategy is to go for big turn one damage while also getting your Jirachi ready. However, you typically don’t want to drop your Jirachi onto the Bench until you are ready to Stardust. As soon as Jirachi hits the field, it will be a primary target for your opponent’s Sneaky Bites! If you are able to get a free turn of Items with Jirachi mid game, it’s possible to use that turn to get Archeops into play, locking your opponent out of additional damage.
Generally, you want to use Pumpkaboo / Mew-EX in this matchup so that the opponent can’t take simple Crobat KOs on your Joltik. This is one of the reasons that it is imperative to play four copies of Dimension Valley. Toad / Bats play a high number of Silent Lab these days and you don’t ever want to be stuck not being able to attack with Pumpkaboo or Mew! They are essential to winning this matchup.
VS. Mega Manectric: Positive
If this matchup is a layup in Standard, it’s practically a putt from inches in Expanded. There’s almost nothing the opponent can do to stop you. If you get out Archeops T-1, you’re at a huge advantage. If you get an early KO on a Manectric-EX, you’re also at a huge advantage. It is key to play Mew-EX so you have the ability to toss many more Night Marchers early in the game.
The only thing you may have to worry about is Jolteon-EX, which this deck doesn’t have a reliable answer to at the moment. If you are scared of Joleton, which admittedly becomes better in Expanded, find space for one copy of Gallade and call it a day. In this matchup, odds are you will be able to take your time and Lysandre around your opponents Jolteon, though.
VS. Vespiquen / Flareon: Positive
Without Archeops in play, this matchup can be quite tough. The opponent can simply produce more non-EX attackers than you. However, with Archeops as an option, this matchup becomes favorable. It doesn’t even matter how long it takes to set up Archeops. The earlier the better, but you can still stick your opponent at the end of the game by removing their attacking options with a well-timed Archeops. Once the new Mew comes out in Fates Collide, this matchup will become even more lopsided.
One Tool Scrapper is included in case the opponent tries to slow you down with Life Dew. Even then, you can typically capitalize off of any Shaymin-EX that may be on the opponent’s Bench! This is definitely one of the matchups I like to see at a tournament when playing Night March / Archeops.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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