Hello again! First off, I hope everyone is doing well, especially now that Players Cup III has kicked off. Personally, at the time of writing this, I am up to 35 Tournament Rep having used 18 of my Tournament Keys — which is nothing perfect, but it’s on pace for qualifying, so I certainly can’t complain. As a reminder, if you’re interested in some good ways to prepare for your Players Cup III Qualifiers run, I suggest reading my previous article Looking Forward, as well as fellow writers Gabriel Semedo’s Players Cup III — My Top Four Decks for the Tournament and Blaine Hill’s Third Time’s the Charm, as they all provide excellent content and ideas on how to approach your Qualifiers.
A consistent theme in all three of these articles was, at least briefly, talking about a Welder–based deck, and there’s a very good reason for this. To put it bluntly, Welder is one of the most absolutely broken Supporter cards of all time. Often cited as one of the primary catalysts for the No Turn One Supporter Rule introduced alongside the Sword & Shield expansion, the card’s power cannot be understated. Welder’s inherent strength of being able to attach multiple Fire Energy and draw three cards provides an unprecedented form of Energy acceleration, with additional benefits and genuinely no downside. Prior to the release of Sword & Shield, a majority of “top-tier” Standard decks played Welder as their primary form of Energy acceleration, and this trend has continued into the present day. Notably, several top-tier threats — including Reshiram and Charizard-GX Toolbox, Aurora Energy Welder Toolbox (featuring attackers like Rhyperior V and Milotic V), and of course Welder Mewtwo and Mew-GX — all play four copies of of this stellar Supporter card.
However, in the Expanded format, unlike in Standard, Welder sees an abnormally low amount of play for its strength. Sure, from time to time people might make unique Reshiram and Charizard-GX-based Welder decks, or maybe they try to revisit strategies of the past, like Turtonator-GX / Volcanion-EX or Blacephalon-GX (with Naganadel or the infamous Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX). Aside from that, though, Welder is conspicuously absent from Expanded.
We can attribute the lack of Welder in that format to any number of things. One reason is that it may be too slow for Expanded: With multiple decks like Turbo Greninja and Zoroark-GX aiming to do massive amounts of damage by burning through their decks early, Welder’s relatively slow Supporter-based Energy acceleration can’t keep up with Item cards like Dark Patch.
The existence and variety of those Item cards, as well as other methods of Energy acceleration that outclass Welder, is the main factor. In Standard, our only forms of pseudo-generic Trainer-based Energy acceleration other than Welder are Bede, which is much too slow, and Turbo Patch, which relies on a heads flip. That means Welder has a perfect window in Standard. In Expanded, however, we have Max Elixir — the best form of generic Energy acceleration ever produced — and next to that, Welder frequently struggles to maintain relevance. Even one of Welder’s best Standard partners, Mewtwo and Mew-GX, opts in Expanded for using multi-typed Energy like Prism Energy paired with Dimension Valley to power up its attackers, so Welder can’t even find a space there. Overall, most decks that use Welder in Standard simply have better options in Expanded.
However, today I’m bringing you not one, but two different Welder decks for the Expanded format — and despite all of Welder’s problems, both of them have immense potential. If you recall earlier when I was listing Welder decks, you may have noticed that I omitted the two most potent Welder decks in Standard: Centiskorch VMAX and Blacephalon. As you might expect, with today’s article, I am translating their power over into the Expanded format. Personally, I think both of these decks can be power picks going forward, with Centiskorch VMAX having outstanding potential in the late game and Blacephalon’s insane burst damage starting from your very first turn. So without further ado, let’s get into the first of these decks — Centiskorch VMAX / Garbodor!
Centiskorch VMAX / Garbodor (aka Dumpster Fire)
Those of you that have been heavily following the online tournament scene may have already heard of this deck once or twice — maybe from right after Darkness Ablaze released, or maybe you heard about it doing well in more recent events. In the latter of those cases, the deck was being piloted by my friend Pete Chisholm, as he recently saw new potential in the deck and took it to numerous Expanded events. This particular deck list is heavily influenced by his — in fact, it is nearly identical, since I think his list borders on perfection for the archetype. Going forward, I think this deck’s potential in Expanded comes from its ability to abuse one of the most powerful combinations of cards in Pokemon TCG history: N + Garbodor’s Garbotoxin.
Three Centiskorch VMAX and Three Centiskorch V
As per usual, playing a thick line of your main attacker is important, because consistency is key. With that being said, though, a deck like Centiskorch VMAX can get away with only playing three Centiskorch V and three Centiskorch VMAX, because you don’t need to worry about having too many of them over the course of a game. Centiskorch VMAX is worth three Prize cards — if your opponent takes a Knock Out on more than one, they win the game anyway.
Everyone is familiar with Centiskorch VMAX at this point, so I don’t think I need to go too in-depth on its strengths, but I do want to point out that the effect of Centiskorch VMAX’s G-Max Centiferno is especially critical in this deck. It isn’t always possible to play Welder in Expanded, especially with the deck’s general strategy, so G-Max Centiferno can make up for those lost Energy for future turns.
Two Garbodor DRX, Two Trubbish NVI, Two N, and Three Float Stone
If Centiskorch VMAX is the bread of this deck, then Garbodor is the butter. Garbodor is pivotal to how this deck wins a lot of games, as most of its power comes from throwing a huge Centiskorch at your opponent while using a combination of N to put them to a small hand and Garbotoxin to remove cards like Dedenne-GX as potential ways to draw out of the N. Oftentimes, no matter the matchup, this combo alone can win you the game, as it’s extremely difficult for your opponent to handle while requiring minimal commitment from you, the player. Furthermore, in the current Expanded format, Garbodor is just a generally strong card — not many decks are happy having their Abilities disabled, and some decks, such as Shock Lock, pretty much lose to the card outright. We opt for three Float Stone as our only Pokemon Tool cards because, while Float Stone is by far the best generic Pokemon Tool card, it’s not critical to activate Garbotoxin until later, so we can get away with only three copies.
Additionally, I feel it’s necessary to touch on the inclusion of the Noble Victories Trubbish in particular. Being a multi-Prize deck, Centiskorch VMAX can often struggle against decks like Mad Party that use lots of little single-Prize Pokemon to take extremely favorable Prize exchanges. With no way to ever go positive against Mad Party, a Centiskorch VMAX player has to resort to a different strategy — using Faba to send all of their Double Colorless Energy to the Lost Zone! This is where Trubbish comes in. Since you cannot play both Faba and a draw Supporter in the same turn, you will often struggle to chain Faba. With Trubbish, though, you can use Faba and then use Trubbish’s Garbage Collection to put a VS Seeker or Faba back on top of your deck to have easy access to it again on the following turn. This strategy can steal away a game in the Mad Party matchup, or at the very least turn N + Garbotoxin into a much stronger option.
Blacephalon-GX fills an extremely unique role in this particular deck, as you don’t use it as an attacker except in extremely specific situations where you desperately need to take a one-hit Knock Out. Even then, it’s not ideal to send any Energy to the Lost Zone, let alone the amount of Energy that you’d need in order to take that one-hit Knock Out. No, Blacephalon-GX’s real role in this deck is to use Burst GX, and that’s it!
Burst GX is a quick and easy way to grab a free Prize card, putting you one step closer to winning (or more often, letting you take the last Prize card to finish the game). It’s especially nice in matchups like Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V where you often take your first Knock Out on Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX and then Knock Out a two-Prize Pokemon such as Zacian V or Dedenne-GX. By this point, your opponent will usually have taken the Knock Out on your big Centiskorch VMAX, leaving you free to bring up your Blacephalon GX and steal that sixth Prize card.
One Oricorio GRI
I complained a lot about the Mad Party matchup when talking about Trubbish, but as I said, the matchup is really bad. To make the matchup more playable, we also include a single copy of Oricorio to abuse Mad Party’s aggressive nature and drop several damage counters on the opponent’s board so we can take multiple Knock Outs on Pokemon like Bunnelby — or maybe even a Dedenne-GX, if the opponent puts enough Pokemon in their discard pile. This particular tech also offers some versatility in some other matchups, as it can put some damage on the opponent’s board while also forcing a seven-Prize game (or even eight-Prize in some cases) by feeding them a single-Prize Pokemon in between all the higher-Prize Pokemon. The extra damage doesn’t always come up, but when it does, it can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Two Dedenne-GX and One Tapu Lele-GX
The most standard combination of setup Pokemon in Expanded, the package of two Dedenne-GX and one Tapu Lele-GX continues to prove itself as a solid way to make sure you find the cards you need every game. With that being said, you may notice the omission of Crobat V. In this deck, Crobat V honestly doesn’t make a ton of sense. Most of the time, you don’t need to dig for those few extra cards, and when you do, Dedenne-GX can usually do that for you. As such, Crobat V doesn’t quite make the cut — though, admittedly, it was one of my last cuts prior to writing this.
Four Welder and One Blacksmith
Even though VS Seeker exists in this format, the importance of playing four Welder never seems to fade away. Its role as your primary draw Supporter and your Energy acceleration puts its value far higher than any other Trainer card in the entire deck.
In addition to Welder, we also get to play its long-lost cousin, Blacksmith. With Welder, there’s some inherent inconsistency in needing to have multiple Fire Energy in your hand for the card’s full effect, which is critical for enabling Centiskorch VMAX to hit its numbers. As a result, we include one copy of Blacksmith as a last-resort way to get the extra Energy. Blacksmith also acts as Energy recovery, allowing you to reuse Energy should you have to discard them or lose them when a Centiskorch VMAX is Knocked Out.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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