Locking Down with Garbotoxin: Two Garbodor Decks for Portland

Hello again everyone! We have our first Expanded Regional of the year coming up, and for the first time in quite a while, Zoroark-GX isn’t the first thought on everyone’s mind! The Expanded meta has had quite a shake up, not only because of the addition of several sets and quite a few Promo cards, but, more importantly, due to the most significant banning of cards that we’ve had in a while. Three oppressive first turn strategies — turn one Ghetsis, turn one Hex Maniac, and turn one Wally into Trevenant — have been taken away, hopefully providing more balance to what at times felt like a format decided by the opening coin flip. The removal of Puzzle of Time will further weaken Zoroark-GX decks, while also hurting the recovery strategies of other decks. Many decks previously sidelined by the oppressive power of Ghetsis and Hex Maniac will return to viability. The Portland Regional Championship will be our first major tournament with these changes, and the format appears to be no less than wide open.

Expanded is known for having some of the most powerful, efficient decks in Pokemon, as well as some of the most oppressive disruption decks that have evolved to counteract them. In this article, I’ll be going over two decks that fit into the latter category: Seismitoad-EX / Garbodor and Sableye / Garbodor. I’ll be going through my thought process behind why these two Garbodor decks have jumped to the top of my list of decks for Portland, and why they should be on your radar as well.

Card Pool Changes and What to Expect

What’s New and What’s Gone

Before we go into any predictions for the Portland meta, we first need to look at what has changed since the last major Expanded event, as there have been quite a few changes to the card pool. Since the Roanoke Regional Championship…

Without a doubt, the biggest change to Expanded came from the update to the ban list. All four of the banned cards were format-shaping, and any changes to the Expanded metagame need to be viewed through the lens of what was removed. Most importantly, Supporter-based Ability lock is now gone, opening the format to Abilities-based decks that were pressured out of the meta by Hex Maniac. The format has been further opened up with the simultaneous banning of Ghetsis, as the threat of a first turn Ghetsis scared away early game combo decks such as Blastoise — decks which can now return to viability.

For Garbodor decks, the banning of Hex Maniac is by far the most significant of these changes. It is hard to overstate how oppressive Hex Maniac was as a card in Expanded. Between VS Seeker and Puzzle of Time, it was possible to lock your opponent for a whopping nine straight turns — and it wasn’t unheard of for decks to do exactly that when facing down an Ability-dependent deck. Thanks to the litany of Ability-based card draw in Expanded, decks were further able to get around the detriment of not being able to use a draw Supporter while using Hex Maniac, thus giving them an easy opportunity to repeatedly use the card without any downside. In addition to the meta-centralizing effects that this caused, it also meant that most decks that relied on Abilities to function were unsuitable for competition. Previous powerhouse decks such as Blastoise, Eelektrik, and Volcanion-EX found themselves pushed out of the meta, but with Hex Maniac now on the banlist, all of these decks and more can now come back.

Why Garbotoxin?

So, how best to react to a potential influx of Ability-based decks? Why, by playing a deck that shuts down Abilities! While we may no longer have Hex Maniac, we can still hate on Abilities the old-fashioned way: through our Pokemon. Pokemon such as Greninja can adeptly shut down Abilities via their attacks, while Alolan Muk has been a versatile add into quite a few decks looking to shut down Abilities from Basic Pokemon such as Shaymin-EX and Tapu Lele-GX — not to mention Sudowoodo.

When you think of Ability lock though, the first Pokemon that should jump to mind is Garbodor. Garbodor may no longer be in Standard, but it is far from reaching retirement in Expanded. Ever since it was first released in Dragons Exalted, Garbodor has become the go-to card for shutting down Abilities. Between its initial version and the revamped Garbodor from BREAKpoint, it has managed to perform excellently in that role for over six years. In the same way that Expanded is diverse, so are Garbodor decks; the card can be placed into any deck that wants to shut down Abilities and has the space. Generally, the decks that utilize it can be split into two categories: decks that focus on disruption, such as Seismitoad-EX; and decks that focus on other non-Ability-reliant attackers, such as Drampa-GX. In the first case, Garbodor is used in conjunction with other forms of disruption to ensure that the opponent can’t do anything that they want to, leading to a grindy but eventual win. In contrast, the other decks generally use strong attackers of their own, but utilize Garbodor to shut down Abilities that could make other attackers more efficient or more powerful than their own. Both of these kinds of decks are powerful, and I would expect both to have strong finishes in Portland.

As far as the bans go, the banning of Wally is of note for Garbodor decks. While this ban may only affect Trevenant, and thus only one potential matchup, the impact to that matchup is rather large. Your opponent cannot possibly get out Trevenant before you get at least one turn to play Item cards; while one turn may not seem like much, it gives Garbodor decks an opportunity to attach a Tool card to Trubbish, which, if it sticks, means that you can evolve into Garbodor and thus shut off Trevenant’s Forest Curse. With Wally in the format, a Trevenant player going first had no real reason to be concerned with Garbodor, as they could simply ensure that the Garbodor player never had the ability to attach a Tool, and, as a result, could never get out of Trevenant’s Item lock. Now, the Garbodor player will always have at least a chance to play Items, which changes this matchup drastically to the benefit of Garbodor.

For the two new sets, the main impact for Garbodor decks will be that it has new available partners, such as Shrine of Punishment-style decks; and that there will be a few more decks in the meta to prepare for, such as Malamar and Rayquaza-GX. For the two disruption decks I’ll be going over here, there aren’t too many useful cards to add (I’ll go over that a bit later). Given the relative size of the Expanded card pool to the size of the new sets though, it isn’t that surprising that existing decks wouldn’t have much to add, even with the release of larger sets such as Celestial Storm.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

If you'd like to continue reading, consider purchasing a PokeBeach premium membership! If you're not completely satisfied with your membership, you can request a full refund within 30 days.

Each week we post high-quality content from some of the game's top players. Our article program isn't a corporate operation, advertising front, or for-profit business. We set our prices so that we can pay the game's top players to write the best content for our subscribers. Each article topic is carefully selected, goes through multiple drafts, and is touched up by our editors. We take great pride in our program!