Hello PokeBeach readers and welcome back to another one of my articles! My first article back on the site was put out last week just in time for San Diego Regionals, where I shared all of my thoughts on the Standard format and gave my predictions for the event. Outside of my expectations for Malamar, I was pretty spot on, but unfortunately that did not convert to a strong tournament finish for me. In fact, I was unable to get points after struggling to set up all day, and playing against Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX too much. That being said, I did like the changes I made to the deck between Daytona Beach and San Diego, as I felt like I removed some lesser used cards from the deck for more answers to counters. To start off the article, you’ll get a quick update on Doll Stall! Then I’ll take a pretty extensive look at the Expanded format, including a review of the bans and how Cosmic Eclipse might effect things. Without further delay, let’s kick things off!
San Diego Regionals – Doll Stall
I want the focus of this article to be the Expanded format, but I wanted to share my updated Doll Stall list and talk about the changes before diving into the main purpose of the article. That being said, let’s take a look at the updated list I used in San Diego.
In order to make room for these cards, I had to make some cuts. I ended up removing one Flabébé, one Professor Elm's Lecture, and one Pokémon Communication. These cards do help setup in theory, but they are not real consistency, and I did not miss them during the event.
Mimikyu-GX was included to counter Omastar, which was starting to see play in Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX, which won the last Standard Regional Championship. Since they only have one way to get the Omastar out, they have no way of setting it back up once you shuffle it in with Dream Fear GX. This card ended up being a nice tool against ADP as well, since I was able to shuffle their only big attacker back into the deck once they started using Cryogonal to mess with my game plan. This bought me a ton of time, and while I didn’t use it in every game, it was nice when I did choose to use it.
This card was included to deal with Druddigon and Oricorio, which were previously both huge issues for the deck due to the lack of a Switch card. However, with a Switch and a second copy of Sky Pillar being added in, Druddigon and Oricorio are no longer a problem.
Second Sky Pillar
This card has value in a few matchups and situations, but its purpose was to beat Malamar decks that would Faba your only Sky Pillar and then spread damage all over your Bench with baby Blacephalon and Mew. With two copies, that strategy no longer works as long as you don’t prize one of them. You are able to chain Sky Pillar with Lusamine, and you will win the war as long as you have access to one of them for the whole game.
Why I Played Doll Stall
Heading into the event, I was not super sold on anything. I tried a couple of other defensive decks on Friday, including Poipole stall and Pidgeotto Control, but nothing felt especially strong. I wanted to avoid playing an attacking deck because I wasn’t a huge fan of any of them, and it often felt like I was only trying to draw better than my opponent. These factors lead me to deciding between Pidgeotto Control and Doll Stall the night before the event, and while I knew Doll Stall was a risk, I ended up choosing it. It took a bad matchup to Pidgeotto Control and wasn’t great vs ADP, but I was very confident against the rest of the field. Most matchups were autowins as long as I setup, and the deck is a ton of fun to play, so I don’t regret my choice.
Dallas Expanded Talk
For starters, I would like to say that while I appreciate Pokemon trying to stay on top of things and keep the game balanced, I think they went a little overboard on these bans. That being said, you are about to get my full opinion on all of the cards on this lengthy list of recent bans!
Chip-Chip Ice Axe
This is a card that was featured in the Zoroark-GX Control and Pidgeotto Control decks that performed well at Richmond and Portland Regionals. Once you have your opponent with either no hand or a worthless one, you can pretty much guarantee that they won’t change that by using this card, Trick Shovel, and Dowsing Machine to repeatedly feed the opponent useless cards. While I don’t think those decks were overpowered, banning this card is a reasonable step towards stopping those decks from existing. That being said, this card’s removal from Expanded hurts control decks that aimed to hand lock the opponent.
Flabebe #83 from Forbidden Light
This is one that doesn’t really make sense to me, simply because I don’t consider it or any of its evolutions to be a huge threat. It is clear that Pokemon was very worried about decks that would take away the opponent’s hand on the first turn, and this card is one that could help do that. This Flabébé‘s ability allows it to evolve immediately, and Floette from Cosmic Eclipse allows you to shuffle a random card from your opponent’s hand into their deck. While I don’t think this card is very strong, it won’t be missed by any competitive players, meaning we would only notice a difference if it stuck around and was overpowered. Therefore, while I think this ban was insignificant, I think it was a smart one.
Island Challenge Amulet
Island Challenge Amulet was used in Japan on Jirachi-EX, which allowed players to use Reset Stamp and leave their opponent with little to no hand. While Reset Stamp was banned, N was another way of achieving this goal. You couldn’t leave your opponent with absolutely no hand if the other bans took place, but you could N them to two cards before they even get to do anything. This ban was in line with the rest of the cards that were banned, and while it had potential to be played in decks that are not degenerate, it was a safe choice.
Lt. Surge’s Strategy
While I am a huge fan of control decks, I think this card needed to go with how the format was shaping up. However, after looking at the rest of the bans, I think leaving Lt. Surge's Strategy behind would have been fine. It had too many options at its fingertips due to being such a big part of being able to discard your opponent’s entire hand. There is no way to abuse it to the point of it being broken now, so I think this ban was another example of going a little overboard. That being said, control decks hate to see this and aggressive decks love to see it, but I can’t really think of a deck that is made by this card nor one that is destroyed by its absence.
Marshadow SLG, Red Card
I lumped these together because they do the same thing and my thoughts on them are the same. I am so happy these cards are no longer legal! They were huge problems for the game, especially in combination with other disruption cards, and often created games where the winner was chosen before the game really got started. Turn one Marshadow or Red Card followed by a Power Plant makes a large portion of hands completely unplayable, meaning the player who uses this combination gets an easy win with no thought involved. To me, these are the best bans on the list and it is not even close. The removal of these cards from Expanded hurts aggressive decks that aim to take all of their Prize cards as quickly as possible via high damage output or cheap knockouts.
This card was another way of leaving the opponent with only a couple Prize cards early in the game, thus allowing you to use Reset Stamp or N to leave them with a small set of options to choose between. This was similar to Let Loose, which absolutely deserved a ban. While Mismagius was not abused during the small window in which it was legal, it had yet to receive all of the tools that players in Japan were using to make degenerate decks that removed the opponent’s hand immediately. Cards like Island Challenge Amulet, which also was banned, are ones that it would have been used with. Removing this card from the game seems like a good choice.
I have touched on this card a few times already, but it deserves a better review in its own section. Reset Stamp is one of the bans I like the least because it was actually a good card that was very usable outside of hand lock decks or degenerate strategies. Aggressive decks were punished very well by Reset Stamp, which was something that I enjoyed having around. It was also a good tool for dealing with the massive hands that decks can compile in Expanded due to cards like Zoroark-GX or Colress. Once you eliminate cards like Mismagius and Island Challenge Amulet, Reset Stamp has no ability to destroy an opponent’s hand early in the game. This leaves the threat of a late game hand lock, which some people believe is an issue, but I’d argue wouldn’t be a big problem due to the other cards on the banlist. Once you eliminate Lt. Surge’s Strategy, you don’t have a great way of leaving your opponent with no hand until they are at one Prize. This makes the lock a lot more fragile because you have less room for error, and your opponent has more time to prepare for what is coming. Speaking of fragile, the hand lock decks also lost Chip-Chip Ice Axe, which was a huge part of why the lock was so secure once it was established. Sure, Trick Shovel can be used as a way of controlling the topdeck, but it isn’t as strong and requires multiple copies to truly be effective. The loss of Reset Stamp is a win for aggressive decks and a huge loss for control decks.
I am not entirely sure why this ban happened, as I never thought this win condition was overpowered. It is a very slow, grindy strategy and I don’t really see much of a way for it to ever be achieved in a quick manner. Maybe a card that has yet to be released will change that, or maybe it was banned as a precautionary measure. I won’t miss this card, so I don’t really mind the ban, I just wish I knew why.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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