The ban of Lusamine effectively killed off the Seismitoad-EX / Zoroark-GX variant that dominated Expanded format events early in the year. The combination of fast draw and Quaking Punch was a lot for decks to handle with the Lusamine loop to never run out of resources.
Seismitoad-EX has always been a disruptive card in any format. I love playing it because it opens the door for you to better control the plays your opponent can make. I’ve been testing a new version of the deck centered more around a quick and oppressive Quaking Punch paired with Hypnotoxic Laser to augment the damage done. This is the second take I’ve made of this archetype after the Lusamine ban, the first using Milotic to recover resources and then AZ to spam the Milotic over and over to create another infinite loop. Almost obviously, this hurt the consistency of the deck and is much slower in comparison to Lusamine since Sparkling Ripples only recovers one card at a time.
The version of the deck with Hypnotoxic Laser uses a more aggressive strategy, but it retains the best part about the original deck: Item lock that can stop an opponent from playing the game as they normally would. Zoroark-GX is a solid closer and allows you to abuse Acerola. Seismitoad-EX has 220 HP with a Fighting Fury Belt, enough to avoid many one-hit Knock Outs to which you can Acerola time and time again with Pal Pad and four VS Seeker. Oranguru is a mainstay in this deck as well to go into the all-out control concept when the opportunity is right.
One breakthrough I made in the development of this deck was the addition of the Lillie engine; this deck especially doesn’t want to play the Brigette (or Pokémon Fan Club) setup game plan. Lillie is great for a few reasons: it helps you compile a better second turn with outs to Zoroark-GX, and it also helps you dig for a first turn Quaking Punch. In Standard, many Zoroark-GX decks use Nest Ball, Pokémon Communication, and Ultra Ball to dig on the first turn in Zoroark-GX decks. In Expanded you have access to Level Ball, so that takes the place of Nest Ball and also works as yet another out to the first turn Lillie with Jirachi-EX. This engine has been working very well for me and I’m a huge fan. With thirteen total Basic Pokemon, you have a 37.68% chance of starting with Seismitoad-EX outright. This means you’re going to need to be able to do some digging to still get the first turn Quaking Punch in this deck. The Lillie template is awesome; here’s the list for y’all:
Now you might still be trying to figure out why this deck is good now. Dating back to early 2018, the Hypnotoxic Laser version of this deck got hyped up a ton going into Dallas, Texas Regionals. This hype caused many players to include Pokémon Ranger in that event, and the deck subsequently did poorly. Won’t that just happen again? The difference now is that a Pokemon Ranger isn’t as powerful even if it is played. Formerly when Puzzle of Time was legal, decks could play Pokemon Ranger and have massively explosive turns where they could recover too many resources for you to be able to handle all in one turn. Aside from that, Pokemon Ranger is less strong because Quaking Punch isn’t as common and things like Giratina-EX aren’t as strong with many decks running basic Energy. The game has changed a lot, but the power of Poison, potentially Sleep, and Item lock is as oppressive as ever.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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