A look at the expanded format

A look at the expanded format

Written by Johnny Rabus

It’s August, and that means the new Poké year is revving up! If you haven’t heard, Pokémon has announced that Regional Championships will be held strictly using the Expanded format this year. Expanded format, in a nut shell, means a much larger card pool to choose from. Specifically, the Black and White base set to the most recently released set that is legal for organized play. Now, this is both a good and bad idea.

Last year Expanded was such a pain because it was exclusively seen at the second day of these events. This made people not test for the format because we had to play the Standard format day 1 and all of our focus was on that. So why bother? By incorporating Expanded into the entirety of the tournament, we have to focus our attention on it. This shift in attention will create more playtesting using the Expanded format which will increase the quality of play and competitiveness of the event.

It should go without saying that some newer cards (when combined with older cards) become absolutely ridiculous. Knowing this, it would be wise if Pokémon also added a ban list to go with the Expanded format. They banned Lysandre’s Trump Card, and that ultimately helped the game so why not do it again here? Now, there are counters to everything, but I think an overall ban on some cards is a much healthier way to go about having a better format. With that said, let’s dive deeper into some broken cards and combos!

Note that Pokémon has not released any sort of list for this, it is all just opinion based to try and better the game.

5. Lugia EX PLS/LTR
If any of you know me, you know I have always been in love with this card. The ability to take an extra prize, making so you can end the game in two turns, is absurd in itself. Shaymin EX ROS is out now, and being run in almost everything. It helps Lugia EX gain speed, however it is also easy pickings for Lugia EX. Along with target whistle, the deck can legitimately end games by turn 3. It is very easy to power up with Double Colorless Energy and Colress Machine. It has amazing support with Deoxys EX PLF/Pluspower BLW and Thundurus EX PLF. There isn’t much stopping this beast once it gets going.

4. Accelgor DEX
Accelgor has always been a broken card since its release. The ability to guarantee paralysis will always be broken, but what makes this one better is that it goes to the deck after attacking. It lets you promote a new active, and it is usually one that can block item cards (eg Trevenant XY, Gothitelle EPO/LTR, Vileplume AOR) Your opponent now can’t switch out of it and is forced to sit for a turn. You do this enough times, the game is won easily. Combined with Dusknoir BCR and you have a lock that can only be broken by 4 cards in the game right now (Virizion ex PLB, Wonder Energy PCL, Keldeo ex BCR/LTR, Slurpuff XY). Yes it sounds like a lot to accomplish, but when you have item lock and a few turns of your opponent just drawing and passing, it’s much easier to get.

3. Latios EX ROS
At first glance, it is hard to see why Latios EX is on the list. It can attacking when you go first and does 40 damage for 1 energy and for 4 energy it does 110 and prevents effects of attacks. What’s so good about it? Well, you’re right. Doing 40 damage turn 1 isn’t scary at all. What is scary is, when combined with Hypnotoxic Laser PLS, Virbank City Gym PLS, Muscle Band XY, and Pluspower BLW, you can actually do some heavy damage essentially for free. Doing it as early as turn 1? Even better. The speed element that this card has in expanded should not be taken lightly.

2. Exeggutor PLF
Exeggutor was extremely strong before Roaring Skies came out. Then, Shaymin EX ROS was released all but ending the deck. The banning of Lysandre’s Trump Card PHF, was a final nail in the coffin. In Expanded, it has a chance to thrive again. When combined with Vileplume AOR and Forest of Giant Plants, things get really scary. Take a look at your deck right now, even draw some hands with it. Now imagine you can’t play Item or Supporter cards, even as early as turn 1 (you’ll have 1 supporter because we can’t attack going first but still) Everything just got really scary now.
The way to beat this before was to have item based draw and energy acceleration. Now Item cards have been taken away too. I’d say that’s almost half of your deck that you can’t play. Shaymin EX was supposed to nail this deck down, but now that we can’t play cards out to use Set Up effectively, that strategy isn’t as reliable. The only foreseeable problem with this deck is the damage output, but having everything get locked out is reason enough to put this on my list.

1. Forest of Giant Plants AOR
I know what you’re thinking. That this hasn’t even seen any sort of tournament play, yet I already want it gone. However, breaking the rules of evolution is not the reason why. This card, lets these combos happen as early as the first turn. There may be more, but these are the most noticeable.

  • Vileplume comes in stopping Item cards
  • Exeggutor PLF comes in stopping Supporter cards
  • Accelgor DEX to bring paralysis and poison
  • Shiftry to end the game

Let’s talk about Shiftry for a minute. Now yes, Shiftry is a Dark type, but Nuzleaf is the one evolving making Shiftry’s type irrelevant. The combo here is, to remove all of your opponents Pokémon from play and win the game on the first turn. With Forest of Giant Plants this can happen consistently if you base the entire deck around it. You have Shaymin EX ROS for draw, Devolution Spray DRX to put Shiftry back to your hand (only to immediately evolve again because the Forest cancels the clause on Devolution Spray), Super Scoop Up FUF, AZ PHF, the list goes on and on. You can reuse Shiftry so many times, and you only need the ability to resolve two or three times on average. Draw some test hands again, this time look at how many basics you drew. Assuming you’re going second, if it’s three or less you lost. More than three and the game will be decided on coin flips before your turn even begins. Where is the fun in any of this? Removing Forest of Giant Plants is the best way to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Now that the attention is focused on the Expanded format, the possibilities are endless. By incorporating more cards into the meta, Pokémon has fostered a much more creative atmosphere. It’ll be fun watching the format evolve much like our Standard format has for so long. Yet with this creativity comes the threats of broken combos. I seriously hope that Pokémon considers a ban list to pair with the Expanded format. With a ban list, the format can be so much more enjoyable by limiting the existence of unnecessarily broken combos and cards. We can only wait and see what Pokémon decides to do, but everything has a counter and only time will tell.