Darkness Falls Upon Expanded — Two Preliminary Frontrunners for Upcoming Regionals

Hi everyone! Like my last article, I will be covering two decks that coincidentally use the same type. This time, I’ll be focusing on the Expanded format with two Expanded format Regionals coming up. Pokemon announced bans for a whopping nine cards for Expanded, but these bans won’t go into effect for another month. I’ve begun testing for Expanded and I’ve found two decks I like a lot. I’ve been testing and working on the lists in my spare time. Today I’ll write about what I believe to be the best fair deck in Expanded – Turbo Dark. By fair, I mean a deck that lets your opponent play the game and doesn’t rely on degenerate strategies. Additionally, I will cover the best unfair deck in Expanded – Sableye / Garbodor. Both of these decks look extremely powerful right now, despite two completely different strategies.

Before getting into the decks, I want to briefly address the widespread fear of the turn 1 hand lock (aka Exodia) strategy being theorized about for Expanded. A recent Japan tournament featured an unfair deck that locked the opponent out of their hand from the get go. Five of these decks made Top 8, resulting in many cards getting insta-banned in Japan. With two US Regionals slated to take place before some of these cards are banned stateside, many are worried about a repeat of what happened in Japan. However, I am not so concerned myself. An integral part of the Japanese deck’s strategy was using Island Challenge Amulet to KO Jirachi-EX, giving the opponent two Prize cards and following up with using Reset Stamp on turn 1. Island Challenge Amulet will never see the light of day in Expanded, as it will be banned before its release, so the exact same deck will never exist and should not be feared.

Versions of the turn 1 hand lock as they are right now are rather inconsistent and offer fragile locks at best. It’s actually extremely difficult to lock an opponent out of their hand turn 1 without Island Challenge Amulet. The entire strategy doesn’t work if the player goes second and the opponent gets a chance to set up their board. I do not expect Exodia strategies to work in the current Expanded format. What could be an issue is a late-game hand lock, similar to what Pidgeotto Control does in Standard. Sableye / Garbodor is one of the few decks that can use this strategy, though it isn’t foolproof.

Without further ado, let’s look at the lists!

Turbo Dark

Pokemon (12)

2x Greninja and Zoroark-GX (UNB #200)2x Darkrai-GX (BUS #139)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)2x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)2x Mew (FAC #29)1x Darkrai-EX (DEX #63)1x Marshadow-GX (BUS #80)

Trainers (35)

2x Professor Juniper (DEX #98)2x Guzma (BUS #115)1x Colress (PLS #135)4x Dark Patch (DEX #93)4x Max Elixir (BKP #102)4x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)4x Ultra Ball (RSK #93)3x VS Seeker (PHF #109)2x Hypnotoxic Laser (PLS #123)2x Energy Switch (RS #82)2x Stealthy Hood (UNB #186)1x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Escape Rope (BUS #114)1x Computer Search (BCR #137)2x Sky Field (RSK #89)

Energy (13)

13x Darkness Energy (XY #138)

This list is a work in progress, but it’s been through plenty revisions. This deck has little in the way of tricks and disruption, focusing on pure speed and consistency. In theory, we only need consistency because this deck will win the Prize trade, leveraging the two-Prize Pokemon and Mew. After playing this deck, I was astounded by how much actual skill and decision-making goes into it. I had considered this deck to be a brain-dead deck that anyone could pick up and play. While the deck looks simple on the surface, sequencing and managing Energy on the correct attackers is not so intuitive as it might seem. It’s so easy to blaze through the deck because you can, only to leave yourself defenseless.

As for the omission of Oranguru in the deck; I mentioned turn 1 hand lock is not consistent, so I won’t respect it. Mew’s Encounter attack can help against hand lock to an extent.

Two Greninja and Zoroark-GX

While Greninja and Zoroark-GX is more or less the main attacker that the deck is built around, we don’t need more than two. If one copy is in your Prize, it’s likely it comes out at some point with how quickly this deck likes to take Prizes. Additionally, Mew is copying Dark Pulse often, so Greninja and Zoroark-GX isn’t in harm’s way. Of course, playing only one copy is not a good idea. Dark Pulse is insanely strong and we want to use it multiple times every game.

Two Darkrai-GX

I tested with three copies of Darkrai-GX and surprisingly found that three is completely unneeded. While one in the Prize can be painful in some situations, the card isn’t as insane as I initially thought and it can put itself back on the Bench if KO’d. I think two copies is sufficient. Restoration adds 30 damage to Dark Pulse if there’s an available Bench spot and it can charge itself up. Dark Cleave isn’t too shabby for tearing through one Prize Pokemon and Dead End GX easily nukes a Tag Team Pokemon-GX once per game.

Two Shaymin-EX and two Dedenne-GX

I’m not entirely sure that the second Dedenne-GX is required but consistency and draw power are never bad things. Usually, choosing between Dedenne-GX or Shaymin-EX off an Ultra Ball requires a bit of thought. I determine which one to grab when considering my cards in hand and what Supporter I plan on using that turn. This deck should absolutely play at least two Shaymin-EX and one Dedenne-GX minimum, but having the option to use two Dedenne-GX in a game is good because of the low Supporter counts in the deck. Plus, Dedechange makes combo plays involving Guzma a lot easier to get to.

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