The Fox in the Forest — Zoroark-GX / Vileplume

With only a little over two weeks until Dallas Regionals, it is now crunch time to find “the play.” At the time of this writing, over 900 Masters have registered for the event. While Dallas may not surpass Memphis in size, a record of 21 match points or better will definitely be required for that coveted day two spot, and swiss will end in 15 rounds. This will be the largest Expanded event ever.

I’ve said this in all of my articles this season, but I’ll say it again: I really enjoy the Expanded format this season. Not everyone feels the same way, as Night March has taken home two of this season’s three Expanded trophies despite having two “silver bullets” in the format. This makes Night March seemingly unstoppable in the hands of good players. Night March is undeniably strong, but I do not think it is unstoppable. When discussing San Jose Regionals with Ryan Allred (who played a Gardevoir-GX deck), we agreed that the counters are good but most players are not using them effectively. So in this article, I present to you my decks that can take on Night March, but also the rest of the meta.

Since my last article, I took fifth place at San Jose with Gyarados (which I featured in said article), losing in Top 8 to the eventual winner, Azul Garcia Griego. I feel that my version of Gyarados is one of the best counters to Night March because it is able to utilize Oricorio extremely effectively. The main attacker is a one-Prize attacker, and the deck relies on Team Magma's Secret Base, which causes passive damage when Basics are played. This opens up several multi-Prize plays for Oricorio’s Supernatural Dance attack: every Basic the Night March player benches under the Stadium’s effect requires two fewer Pokemon in the discard pile in order to be Knocked Out by Supernatural Dance. Because Gyarados plays four Rescue Stretcher and four Puzzle of Time, you can force the Night March opponent to fight through six Oricorio — a game no Night March player wants to play.

Ryan, who also had fought through several Night March in San Jose to achieve the second seed entering day two, used the Karen and Seismitoad-EX combo to counter Night March with his Gardevoir-GX deck. With Night March now playing Zoroark-GX for additional draw power and as an alternate attacker, the Seismitoad-EX / Karen combo is no longer as big of a threat as it used to be, as Zoroark-GX is a reliable attacker regardless of how many “Night Marchers” are in the discard pile. The real threats in Ryan’s deck are Gardevoir-GX and Gallade. Gallade OHKOs every Pokemon in Night March aside from Tapu Lele-GX. This makes the Night March player think twice before swinging with Zoroark-GX, giving your Seismitoad-EX additional resilience. Meanwhile, Gardevoir-GX has a massive 230 HP. If you lead with Gardevoir-GX while threatening a Quaking Punch, you leave your opponent with two terrible options. Their first option is to over-extend to get the OHKO on Gardevoir-GX, leaving a game state in which they will have to deal with Karen with very limited resources, leading them to a slow, grueling defeat. Their second option is to go for 2HKOs, a back-and-forth they will eventually lose since you play Acerola.

Even though Ryan and I were both knocked out of the tournament by Night March, it was never an easy set for the Night March player. I made a grave misplay when I lost the die roll and neglected to play around the possibility of a turn one Ghetsis, which is exactly what  destroyed me in games one and three against Azul. Although I was pretty salty about this, upon reflection I realized I might have had more control over the loss, which at first just seemed like variance not being in my favor. What really hurt me in game three, after I narrowly survived Azul’s turn two, was that when I did draw, I found my hands clunky and unplayable. This is because I overlooked one of the best cards in the Expanded format: Battle Compressor.

Updated Gyarados

Pokemon (12)

3x Gyarados (AOR #21)4x Magikarp (CRI #17)1x Octillery (BKT #33)1x Remoraid (BKT #32)1x Oricorio (GUR #56)1x Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #60)1x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (44)

3x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)1x N (NVI #92)1x Lysandre (AOR #78)1x Ghetsis (PLF #101)1x Gladion (CRI #95)1x Teammates (PRC #141)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)4x Puzzle of Time (BKP #109)4x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)4x Dive Ball (PRC #125)3x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)3x Choice Band (GUR #121)2x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)1x Field Blower (GUR #125)1x Special Charge (STS #105)1x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)4x Team Magma's Secret Base (DOC #32)

Energy (4)

4x Double Colorless (SM #136)

After incorporating Battle Compressor into the deck, the draws instantly feel much smoother. Battle Compressor compliments one-of Supporters very well, especially when you only play one Tapu Lele-GX, lending even more importance to your four copies of VS Seeker. A problem I often came across mid-game was finding my one of Supporters when Tapu Lele-GX was prized or had already been used. Compressor also turns all your Rescue Stretcher into the Master Ball Ace Spec, allowing you to find any Pokemon in your deck with that two-card combo.

The cards I had in the San Jose list over the two Battle Compressor were one Muscle Band and one Colress. I did find these two inclusions useful throughout the tournament, but I never felt if I didn’t have these cards that I would lose the game

Updated Expanded Gardevoir-GX

Gardevoir-GX is another Expanded archetype that desperately needs Battle Compressor, as it suffers from the same mid-game clunk that Gyarados does, being another evolution deck that also plays one-of supporters. If Dallas were tomorrow, and I thought Gardevoir-GX was the play, this would be the list I sleeved up.

Pokemon (18)

3x Gardevoir-GX (BUS #93)2x Gallade (BKT #84)2x Kirlia (AOR #53)3x Ralts (PLS #59)1x Ralts (AOR #52)1x Octillery (BKT #33)1x Remoraid (BKT #32)2x Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #60)1x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)1x Oricorio (GUR #56)1x Alolan Vulpix (GUR #21)

Trainers (30)

3x Professor Sycamore (XY #122)2x N (NVI #92)1x Brigette (BKT #134)1x Colress (PLS #118)1x Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick (PRC #133)1x Teammates (PRC #141)1x Acerola (BUS #112)1x Guzma (BUS #115)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)4x Rare Candy (PRC #135)2x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)2x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)1x Field Blower (GUR #125)1x Choice Band (GUR #121)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)

Energy (12)

8x Fairy Energy (XY #140)4x Double Colorless Energy (NXD #92)

While I did meme on Facebook by posting a fake Gyarados list including an Archie's Ace in the Hole, I think Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick can be quite useful with its ability to stream your Gallade. I do not intend to get out a turn one Gallade with this option. The intent is to use Premonition when you already have one Gallade out to set up hands where you can play Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick. This becomes useful in matchups like Night March, where you can take meaningful KOs with Gallade repeatedly without needing to use Ralts. This frees up Ralts to be used to evolve into Gardevoir-GX, and also makes Acerola that much more powerful.

The other change that I made from my old list was to include eight Fairy Energy, two Rescue Stretcher, and an Oricorio. While the Sesimitoad-EX / Karen combo is an effective method for dealing with Night March, when everyone is teching for Night March, Pokémon Ranger is bound to be included in those Night March players’ lists. Where Pokemon Ranger is a great answer for Seismitoad-EX, Oricorio is a great answer for the “10-or-more-Night Marchers in the discard pile” scenario required to OHKO a Gardevoir-GX. Two Rescue Stretcher ensures adequate recycling of the Oricorio, and with facilitated access to Gallade, I think that Oricorio becomes the better counter for the same reasons as in Gyarados.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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