To the Best of Our Abilities — Eelektrik, Bronzong and Malamar in Expanded

The first major Expanded event of this season is almost here: the Portland Regional Championship! The new ban list should change what people are playing in the Expanded format, as discussed by great players previously. I love eternal formats in TCGs! Naturally that makes the Expanded format my cup of tea. I’ve been a fan of it for quite a long time, so I’m excited to add my voice to the conversation. This format can be rewarding for hard-working players and creative deck builders alike. Players are going to have to prepare against a variety of decks in the first Regional since the banning of four cards has changed the landscape. Decks such as Shock Lock come to mind; designing a deck like that from scratch takes some great ingenuity.

Unfortunately for those of us in Europe, the Expanded Format isn’t offered at any events. In fact, all events outside of North America are in the Standard format! League Cups and Challenges can still be sanctioned in Expanded, but organisers are only choosing Standard because other people don’t seem interested in playing it. I’m considering a trip to Toronto this coming March since the Regional will be Expanded — and hey, I’ll be able to play my French Tropical Beach there!

For those of you who are interested in Expanded, let’s talk about three Ability-reliant decks that may come up in competitive play now that Hex Maniac is banned. In the past it prevented Ability-reliant decks from seeing significant play in the Expanded format. With Hex Maniac out, decks like Archie’s Blastoise are being talked about again — but there’s more potentially strong decks waiting to be uncovered! In this article, I’ll talk specifically about some Energy acceleration Abilities, how to build a deck around them, what you can expect from them, and give some sample deck lists.

A Brief Talk About Energy Acceleration

Energy acceleration has been a part of the Pokemon TCG since Base Set. Attacks that offer it can have a role to play, while Trainer-based Energy acceleration cards are typical more powerful and widely utilized (hello, Dark Patch). Abilities combine the advantages of both: they can be used a potentially unlimited number of times, and they don’t end your turn — these traits are often strong enough to warrant building entire decks around these Pokemon. Any time a card is released with such an Ability it’ll always deserve to be looked at.

Stage 2 Energy accelerators tend to be more powerful than their Stage 1 counterparts, but they’re also harder to put into play. Vikavolt or Magnezone, while solid cards in Standard, are a bit too slow for the Expanded format. Their reliance on Rare Candy can be an issue when up against Item lock decks. There are exceptions, though. Take Blastoise for example: it that can be “cheated” into play with Archie’s Ace in the Hole. Gardevoir-GX is another good example as it additionally acts as a powerful attacker. For the most part though, Stage 1 Energy accelerators are preferable.

There are three of these in Expanded that all do the same thing with different types: Eelektrik, Bronzong, and Malamar. All three are 90-HP Stage 1 Pokemon that accelerate a specific type of Energy to the Bench. All three have also been the core of powerful decks in the past (or, in Malamar’s case, in the present). They all share some common strengths and weaknesses. I’ll address those now before analyzing each of them on an individual basis.

What makes these three cards so powerful is their incredible versatility. Each of them requires you to play a Pokemon that use their type of Energy — and that’s all. With the vast card pool in Expanded you’ll find no shortage of Pokemon of the type you need! This means that any deck based on an Energy accelerator — not just these three — can be built in many different ways.

Eelektrik, Bronzong and Malamar have obvious synergy with Battle Compressor, which has been a format-defining card since it was released. In addition to discarding the appropriate Basic Energy, Battle Compressor can discard Supporters to use with VS Seeker, Pokemon that you can recover with Rescue Stretcher, or even Exeggcute in order to make Ultra Ball easier to use if you choose to play it. All in all, Battle Compressor isn’t as central to these decks as it is to Night March or Archie’s Blastoise, but it is a solid two-of.

On the flip side, decks based on Energy acceleration can be a bit on the slower side. The game state that you want to establish requires having two or three Stage 1 Pokemon in play, an attacker as your Active, and Energy in the discard pile. It’s not hard to put two or three Malamar into play in Expanded, but there’ll be quicker threats to contend with while you’re doing so. You could face Basic Pokemon that OHKO all of yours (Night March), or Item lock as soon as turn two (Trevenant or Seismitoad-EX).

Speaking of which, there’s another issue for Energy acceleration decks we should discuss. Sure, they can power you up quicker than normal; but that’s not necessarily as game changing as Zoroark-GX drawing so many cards for free; or Item lock making a part of your deck non-functional; or Ability lock sabotaging your entire game plan. Those things can put a drag Energy acceleration decks. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with them.

Giratina can protect you against Trevenant BREAK‘s Item lock, as well as Greninja BREAK‘s Giant Water Shuriken. Sudowoodo has been effective against Zoroark-GX, though you might favor Parallel City as a Bench-reducer; after all, Zoroark decks will have either Garbodor or Alolan Muk in them to deal with a Sudowoodo. For this reason as well, Marshadow-GX doesn’t have nearly the same appeal in Expanded that it does in Standard — I wouldn’t recommend it playing it.

With these general considerations out of the way, let’s look at each Energy accelerator separately:

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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