Hello again readers, I’m back with you today with my first Expanded format article in a long time. For a while, the format was entirely irrelevant, but recently more and more online events have been run in the format. Obviously the not so recent bans had a positive effect on the format, which is likely most of the reason for its return to popularity. Today, I’m going to be talking about a deck that has existed for almost the entire lifespan of Expanded in one way or another. That deck would be Turbo Dark. I’ve heard talk that some people think Eternatus VMAX is better and that Turbo Dark has fallen off in relevance. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Turbo Dark: Better than Eternatus?
There’s no denying that Eternatus is a decent deck in Expanded. However, it has quite a few flaws that make it less of a force than it could be. The first issue is Sudowoodo, a card that has been the bane of Sky Field and now Eternatus, decks for years. Like M Rayquaza-EX, Eternatus does damage solely based on its Bench size, which means it caps at 180 damage with Sudowoodo in play and that’s assuming Choice Band is a thing. That number isn’t even close to relevance in Expanded. The one thing that Eternatus has going for it is that it can play Zoroark-GX, which makes it consistent. Turbo Dark is a lot of things, but it isn’t known for its consistency nearly as much as Zoroark decks.
Turbo Dark also has the obvious benefit of being able to play Pokemon that aren’t Darkness types. Not only does this allow you to play Dedenne-GX, but it also allows you to hit more things for Weakness using Mew and Marshadow-GX. Potentially the biggest thing that Eternatus cannot do that Turbo Dark excels at, is “cheating” Prize cards with Guzzlord and Guzzlord-GX. I’ll obviously talk about the specific situations where these cards all shine later, but to put it simply, Turbo Dark just has more options than Eternatus does. There’s no matchup I feel like I can’t win with Turbo Dark and that includes the new Coalossal VMAX!
##Pokémon - 15 2 Sneasel UPR 73 1 Weavile-GX UNM 132 2 Dedenne-GX UNB 57 2 Darkrai-GX BUS 88 2 Crobat V DAA 104 1 Mew FCO 29 1 Marshadow-GX BUS 80 1 Guzzlord-GX CIN 63 1 Guzzlord CEC 136 1 Greninja & Zoroark-GX UNB 107 1 Darkrai-EX LTR 88 ##Trainer Cards - 34 2 Professor Sycamore STS 114 1 N FCO 105 1 Guzma BUS 115 1 Colress PLS 118 4 VS Seeker PHF 109 4 Quick Ball SSH 179 4 Max Elixir BKP 102 4 Dark Patch DEX 93 2 Ultra Ball SUM 135 2 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123 2 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130 1 Great Catcher CEC 192 1 Field Blower GRI 125 1 Escape Rope BUS 114 1 Computer Search BCR 137 2 Sky Field ROS 89 ##Energy - 11 11 Darkness Energy 7
This list resembles many others that have seen play, but there’s a few key differences that make this the most versatile list possible. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve been playing iterations of this list for over a year, adjusting as new sets dictate. I’ve played a lot of Turbo Dark. I’ve been playing it in the more recent Atlas events and have yet to miss top cut with the deck. In fact, I have lost a grand total of three tournament matches with the deck since I started playing it again.
Two Crobat V and Two Dedenne-GX
The loss of Shaymin-EX may seem like it hurt Turbo Dark, but nothing really changed aside from certain other decks becoming marginally slower. Turbo Dark was only ever playing two Shaymin-EX and a Dedenne-GX anyways, so it only lost the potential to play both of your Shaymin in the same turn. Not really a big deal. I’ve stuck with four support Pokemon rather than the three that I used to favor. The loss of Shaymin did do one thing. It made it so you had to find different support Pokemon to use them multiple times in a turn. This means that you cannot play only one copy of any of them anymore, because prizing or starting the one-of means you’ll never get to use two draw Abilities in the same turn.
Two Sneasel and One Weavile-GX
It wouldn’t be false to say that Weavile-GX is what makes this deck so broken. It’s not hard to win games without it, but it’s incredibly strong and allows for more plays when you do find it. I have long been a proponent of playing two Sneasel, because of how important Weavile-GX is. It might seem a bit weird to say all of this and then only play one Weavile-GX. Even if you prize Weavile-GX, it is still important to find the Sneasel for when you take that Prize card. It’s entirely likely that you’ll take two or three Prize cards before you can even evolve anyways. It’s far more important to find the Sneasel and bench it than it is to get Weavile-GX immediately. The second Weavile-GX would probably be my 64th card. Good, but there are more cards I would rather play first.
If you’re using more than one of these in a game, then things have either gone poorly enough to where it doesn’t matter or you can use your Rescue Stretcher on it. Zoroninja is the attacker to close out the game against big TAG TEAMs. There’s no reason it should even be in play before you need it to be. Even if you discard it, you have Marshadow-GX to copy it, which is sometimes a better option because Marshadow-GX doesn’t give up three Prize cards and it hits for Fighting Weakness. You could play two copies, but that’s overkill and unnecessary, things that are best avoided in Expanded.
Guzzlord and Guzzlord-GX
Have you ever taken four Prize Cards on a Crobat V or Dedenne-GX? How about three Prize cards on a random Basic Pokemon? Both Guzzlord and Guzzlord-GX are the reason I feel so comfortable playing one copy of Zoroninja. Turbo Dark almost has an ADP-like feel to it at this point. It’s frighteningly simple to win with only two KOs. Marshadow-GX makes both cards even better, allowing them to OHKO Fighting-weak Pokemon. Marshadow copying Guzzlord lets you OHKO a Pikarom for four Prizes. Guzzlord-GX isn’t only good for its GX attack either. As it turns out 180 damage is usually enough to KO a random Pokemon-GX for your last two Prizes.
Marshadow-GX and Mew
I’ve already covered Marshadow-GX for the most part, but it’s mostly here for Pikarom and other Darkness-type decks. Mew is both the same as and different from Marshadow-GX. It’s obviously here to hit for Psychic Weakness, but it also fulfills the need for a one-Prize attacker. Rather than use Zoroninja in the Active Spot, it’s much safer to use Mew and deal the same amount of damage. It’s not overly hard to set up even without Weavile-GX. Mew also has free Retreat, something that isn’t to be undervalued despite playing Darkrai-EX. Finally, while Encounter may seem like a mediocre attack, games have been won and lost through it. Dead hand? Encounter for Dedenne-GX. Need Weavile-GX in hand and have nothing better to do? Encounter.
For months I played with Dowsing Machine. Both cards have their merits, but with the slightly decreased digging power brought by Shaymin-EX’s ban, I decided that having Computer Search was better for this format. Despite Shaymin being gone, this format is potentially the fastest Expanded format we’ve ever had. With TAG TEAM and Pokemon VMAX dominanting, games end within three turns all the time. This means that there’s less value in Dowsing Machine and more value in Computer Search. Rather than recover a resource that was already played, it’s more important to find the final piece needed to pull off a combo.
While Shock Lock might be much less relevant right now, especially online, I’ve found Escape Rope to be incredibly good. Many players will retreat into a one-Prize Pokemon to end their first turn and Escape Rope can often force them to bring up something worth KOing. It’s also very strong because it provides a switching option that isn’t a Supporter and doesn’t rely on Dark Cloak. This comes into play especially on your first turn where you’re potentially digging for a Dead End GX and can’t afford to attach Active.
If you’re going to be KOing support Pokemon for free Prizes, then you need a way to drag them up to the Active Spot. Obviously, you have Guzma, but that’s not always an option, especially after N is played. Great Catcher can also pull up TAG TEAMs to be KOed by Dead End GX or just a Dark Pulse. Having an Item-based gust that’s reliable is far too valuable not to play.
I’m not going to go over why I would want any of these because they’re all obvious.
The Matchup Spread
There’re a lot of decks in this format. A lot of them are viable and you’ll almost certainly never see some of them despite them being played. I’m not going to cover everything. You’d be here all day.
Turbo Dark always wants to choose to go second unless there’s a circumstance that dictates otherwise.
ADP / Zacian V: Even
ADP just won’t leave you alone, no matter what format you play. Expanded ADP is even more painful to deal with than the Standard version because of Double Dragon Energy. The matchup is usually determined by who goes first or if the ADP player doesn’t have a Cobalion-GX in play. ADP is almost certain to use Altered Creation on the first turn it is available. If you are unable to KO the ADP before Ultimate Ray happens, the game is over. Even if you can take the KO, the game will hinge on whether the opponent can set up two Zacian V in two turns.
Working under the assumption that Dead End GX will not work because of Cobalion, the only way to KO ADP is with Zoroninja. If you manage to hit for 300 damage on your first attack, then good for you, but it’s not going to happen too often. There are two options here. Either ignore the ADP and chase down support Pokemon with Guzzlord and Guzzlord-GX or take a two-shot on the ADP. The two-shot strategy only works if you went second and attacked the ADP on your first turn. Alternatively, if you went second and took a KO, it is entirely possible to ignore the ADP altogether and win the game with Guzma, Great Catcher and Escape Rope. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. If you miss a beat against ADP, you lose the game.
By far the biggest appeal of Turbo Dark is how well it deals with the multitude of control decks that exist in Expanded. Turbo Dark does everything control hates. It accelerates Energy, it moves Energy around and it takes extra Prize Cards with its KOs, making the game much faster. Guzzlord and Weavile-GX are your two main priorities in these matchups, but that doesn’t mean that everything else is useless.
Some control lists have been known to play Jirachi-EX and Scoop Up Net. Sometimes they will be unable to Scoop Up Net the Jirachi and Guzzlord-GX can swoop in and take four Prizes at once, which usually ends the game. Be careful of going down to one Prize, because it’s much easier for them to get any sort of lock up with you at one Prize card left. It’s safe to use something like Darkrai-GX to take the first KO, because it’s possible to transition into Guzzlord to take two more Prizes and then Guzzlord-GX to take three Prizes and end the game.
I hate this matchup. There’s an answer to Vileplume, but finding it can be incredibly difficult, especially if you go first. Saving your Guzma is a very important part of this matchup, because many Eggrow players will eventually leave themselves with only one Item lock Vileplume in play because Weavile-GX threatens the Vileplume BUS. Getting Sneasel down on your first turn is a priority, but there’re other ways to maximize your odds of winning.
If you go first, sometimes you find Hypnotoxic Laser and can put their Active Asleep. If they flip tails on sleep, their odds of getting Item lock that turn are much lower. Another important factor in this matchup is that Weavile-GX doesn’t OHKO a Vileplume BUS. This can be negated by leading Darkrai-EX and doing 30 damage to as many potential Vileplume as possible. KOing their first Eggrow is not necessary and sometimes is downright harmful to yourself. They’re not going to bench enough Prize cards for you to win and taking three Prizes leaves you extremely susceptible to N. Obviously that goes out the window if Weavile-GX is prized.
Pikarom: Slightly Favored
This matchup is like ADP in that if you miss a beat, you’re in trouble. Unlike ADP, Pikarom takes a lot more effort to win with. Unless you’re getting a turn two six Energy Tag Bolt GX after the Active Pikarom has been KOed, the game will take at least three attacks for Pikarom to win. Turbo Dark only needs two attacks to win. The first is usually very easy to pull off, a Dead End GX on a Pikarom. The second is a bit harder, but not by much. Usually, the Pikarom player will go into Marshadow-GX and Full Blitz again. If they go into something else, it’s almost certainly weak to Fighting. Basically, whatever their Active is weak to, you need to copy Red Banquet with Mew or Marshadow-GX. Sometimes they’ll bench a second TAG TEAM and Great Catcher or Guzma with Marshadow copying Zoroninja will also close out the game. They likely play Sudowoodo, so either manage your Bench well or play everything immediately so you don’t care if they limit you down to four.
Coalossal: Even-Slightly Favored
I haven’t played this matchup overly much yet, but the games I have played made it seem just fine. The only time I’ve lost the matchup yet was to Stéphane and his Jirachi Prism variant, where Guzma was my last Prize card. The game plan for this matchup is rather simple. Dead End GX a VMAX and then KO one or two more things, at least one of them being with Guzzlord. If they ever bench Crobat V or Dedenne-GX, the game might as well be over for them. Marshadow will swoop in and take three Prize cards almost immediately. Attacking with Mew is also a very viable option because they’ll be forced to take four KOs to win unless they also have Jirachi Prism. Just don’t bench Zoroninja unless it wins the game.
For a while I was considering taking a long break from the online tournament scene – Expanded stopped me from doing that. This format feels so much better to play than Standard does right now and it made me decide to not stop playing events yet. Whether that changes or not once the next semester of school starts for me is still up for debate. Expanded is a big sandbox right now and I hope to see a lot of creative decks come from it in the coming months.
That’s all I have for today, so I’ll see you next time!