Dallas Expanded Testing So Far...
Hello readers. I am back with one more discussion piece for the Dallas 2020 expanded format before I start covering specific lists. If you have not read my most recent article on the upcoming expanded format, I definitely suggest checking that out before getting into this one. A fair amount of my preparation for Dallas Regionals 2019-2020 thus far has been theorizing and working on lists since I haven’t had large chunks of time to dedicate to playing while my semester was wrapping up. I am preparing to dive into a lot of actual testing now that my finals are over, but I have already gotten a head start and I have an idea of what the meta should look like as long as there aren’t any huge discoveries between now and Dallas. It is too soon to know for sure what the safest plays are and what the best decks are, but I have a decent grasp on the format considering the tournament is a month away.
I’m going to start with the decks I have played games with, against, or both. I have actual hands-on experience with these decks, although do note that as lists change and update that my preconceived notions may adjust. Below are all of the decks I have actually tested with and I will give my thoughts on these first.
Egg Row - this archetype won Richmond Regionals and doesn’t lose much from the bans. Although I don’t necessarily love playing it due to its very slow and underwhelming feel, I cannot deny that it is still a strong contender. I have piloted Egg Row versus a myriad of decks so far including Zoro Garb, Gardeon, Turbo Dark, baby Ultra Necrozma, and Mewtwo & Mew Tag Team. I haven’t found any of these matchups to be unfavorable and I haven’t been told differently by any of my testing groups. I wouldn’t say that Egg Row has the potential to be one of the most popular archetypes in Dallas, but it is definitely on most players’ radars and I think it is very good. Learn more about the deck in a deck tech I did here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHiAxbg1yJU&t=715s
Ultra Necrozma CEC/Garbodor - Ultra Necrozma has all of the makings of a good single prize based deck: high damage output, low energy cost, ability lock, and a good engine. Because of the tag team supporter Guzma & Hala, you can effectively get everything you need in a turn. I have only tested with the Garbodor version, but there are other versions out there such as Ultra Necrozma/Alolan Muk/Octillery and lists without Muk or Garbodor at all. The deck is very strong and I called it the best deck in the format earlier this month on my channel due to its immediate impact on the expanded metagame. I expect this deck to be heavily countered, and I am worried about playing a streamlined version of it myself due to how vulnerable it is to energy denial like Giratina-EX’s Chaos Wheel and Honchkrow-GX’s Ruler of the Night ability and energy removal like Faba and Jirachi XY67’s Stardust. Learn more about the deck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOeKbN6ddBI&t=8s
Turbo Dark with ADP and/or Giratina-EX - Another deck with hype that I have been trying to form a concrete opinion on. Turbo Dark was one of the centralizing forces of Expanded pre-Cosmic Eclipse, and with ADP came a new option for the deck and a new reason to add Double Dragon Energy to lists. To be completely honest, I’m not sure that ADP brings necessary benefits to the deck. One of my favorite things about having ADP is that you can drop a DDE as your attachment for turn and increase Zoro Ninja’s damage output by 60. Games where you get the perfect turn 1 Altered Creation into turn 2 knockout into turn 3 knockout GG feel great. But I have experienced many games where getting the turn 1 altered creation leaves you vulnerable to an aggressive opponent or without a good hand to follow up with next turn. I tried a list with 2 ADP and 1 Giratina-EX, but it felt like they both accomplish the same thing in different ways. ADP allows you to take extra prizes per knockout which is really good against single prize decks, but Giratina-EX also helps you versus single prize decks since it restricts the use of special energy and single prize decks ie: Buzz Garb and Ultra Necrozma usually rely on special energy. ADP also helps versus 2-prize based decks like attacking Zoroark-GX variants, which is another example where Giratina-EX can also help by restricting energy. Turbo Dark with ADP is definitely going to see play, but I’m not sure if playing ADP or Giratina-EX is worth it yet. Learn more about the deck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-8XY-0J5xc&t=286s
Turbo Dark - Turbo Dark without ADP and/or Giratina-EX can be categorized into two variants: with Weavile-GX or without Weavile-GX. I think Weavile-GX is a solid card to run and is a natural counter to Vileplume BUS and Pyroar FLF which definitely makes it worth including if you want to have an out to everything. Regardless of your feelings on Weavile-GX, Turbo Dark is a very aggressive and consistent deck. It is very appealing to players of all skill levels and intent due to its inherent power. Turbo Dark is historically linear and does not give a ton of outplay potential which sometimes keeps it out of the hands of top players, but we cannot ignore that it got 2nd place at Richmond Regionals and several Day 2 placements including an 8th and 9th place at Portland Regionals.
Gardevoir & Sylveon Tag Team - Gardeon is actually really strong in expanded and one of my favorite decks to play at the moment. Aromatisse XY is a classic favorite of mine from its time in Standard format, and I was kind of disappointed in myself that I didn’t give the deck enough of a chance in Expanded for the Richmond and Portland format. It got the tag call engine from Cosmic Eclipse which made the deck go from a rogue meta call to a viable threat in my opinion.
As I mentioned in my last article, I still think Control decks are going to be relevant and viable as well as Stall decks becoming more viable again. I’ve been experimenting with Pyroar Mismagius as well as theorying out things like wall stall with Wailord and Sablegarb built with energy removal and mill since the chip chip control loop is gone.
Honchkrow-GX seems like it has a lot of potential but I’m not sure how I want to build the deck so it can actually win games against decks that don’t rely solely on special energy. In that same vein, Pyroar Mismagius seems good since it can either put a lock on special energy or put a lock on basic attackers. The problem with these decks like Honchkrow-GX and Pyroar Mismagius is that they tend to only beat the decks they are designed to beat and then take autolosses to the rest of the field.
People are going to ask about Archie’s, so I want to touch on it. It was very popular and very hyped for Richmond and it flopped. I think the deck has a similar power level to other aggressive decks but has it much higher variance and also is weak to ability lock which should be fairly prevalent going forward. I’m not a fan of Archie’s and I don’t think I’d ever play it myself. I plan on not respecting the deck due to its variance levels and its usual lack of play by players of a high caliber.
I can’t test every deck in Expanded, there is just way too big of a card pool. Decks I am prioritizing in the next week or two include Egg Row, Stall variants, Sablegarb, and Gardeon. I think there are a lot of high tier decks that either rely on special energy or utilize special energy, so I expect there to be an uptick in Faba and special energy denial which naturally reflects in what I have been testing. My testing was limited the past two weeks due to finals in school, but the next month is going to entail of a ton of testing for Dallas so I should definitely have more concrete thoughts that are developing weekly as we get closer to the Regional.
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