“Power of the Gaia Volcano” – The Current State of Expanded and an Approach to Primal Groudon

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What’s up, fellow Top Deck Nation readers? I’m back with another article, this time writing about the current state of the Black and White – BREAKpoint Expanded meta-game and taking a close look at my updated Primal Groudon list for the Expanded Format which will be very important very soon for some last top finishes at your upcoming (U.S.) Regionals!

In the last article I covered my Regionals win in Lanaken (Belgium) with Trevenant BREAK which also was held in the exclusive Expanded Format. In the meantime, I won another Regionals in Basel (Switzerland), but the format Standard Format and I played Night March, of course, since it’s by far the best deck in Standard right now. Although I’m pretty busy testing for my Nationals on the 21th and 22th of May, I still have some time to bring you lovely Top Deck Nation readers the current state of Expanded and the deck I think is the best Expanded play at the moment. Let’s start!


The Impact of BREAKpoint

First off, it’s important to know that the Expanded Format in general is like “next-level” compared to the Standard Format since the Expanded Format contains format-defining cards like Computer Search, Jirachi-EX, N, Colress etc. that make a huge difference.

While Expanded with BREAKthrough got pretty much dominated by the top two decks that are YveltalGallade/Archeops & Vespiquen/Flareon, with Breakpoint there happened a great change to the Expanded Format which had huge influence on the decks that are played right now. The cards that changed Expanded were Puzzle of Time, Fighting Fury Belt, Max Elixir, Darkrai-EX from BREAKpoint and Trevenant BREAK.

Puzzles, Belts, and Elixirspuzzle-of-time

Let me explain to you how those cards influenced the Expanded Format: With the release of Fighting Fury Belt, EX-centric decks got stronger at the first glance. So with Fighting Fury Belt, it’s now way harder to hit the perfect numbers with Vespiquen/Flareon since you don’t have to OHKO 170/180 HP EXs anymore, now you have to OHKO in the mid-game 210/220 HP EXs which got basically Mega-Pokémon with a Fighting Fury Belt attached.

Since there exists the fact that Vespiquen/Flareon has major problems to deal with Mega Evolutions in general, it was clear very fast that Vespiquen/Flareon can’t stand the heavy abuse of Fighting Fury Belt.

With that in mind, the release of Puzzle of Time and the over-hype of Sableye/Garbodor, Primal Groudon seemed to be the play at least for the last week of U.S. Winter Regionals and now it got Tier 1 and probably is the best deck in BREAKpoint Expanded now. Also Trevenant BREAK now has its time now to shine due to its very strong attack “Silent Fear”, spreading a lot of damage in a very fast pace, it also got bulkier with its 160 HP, so Trevenant BREAK’s success was no coincidence at all, especially not since it can beat the former Top-Deck Vespiquen/Flareon very easy by Item-locking it as fast as possible and win by multiple Silent Fears.

Rise of Speed Darkraidarkrai-breakpoint

Also, with the release of Max Elixir and Darkrai-EX from Breakpoint, Darkness-type players now recognized Speed Darkrai is way better than the former Yveltal-EX, Archeops got a bit redundant because Vespiquen/Flareon saw no play anymore and the straight version of Yveltal-EX is just inferior to BKP Darkrai-EX’s potential with cards like 4 Dark Patch, 4 Max Elixir and the Ace Spec Dowsing Machine, although Yveltal-EX still got Gallade.

Speed Darkrai is so fast with heavy damage-dealing, and, with its new 220 HP thanks to Fighting Fury Belt, BKP Darkrai-EX got very dangerous, so it replaced the standard Darkness-based Tier 1 variants. Primal Groudon has 4 Tropical Beach which makes Primal Groudon very consistent and the release of Puzzle of Time allows Primal Groudon to play a lot of one-offs (and a general less energy count) without the risk of whiffing those since Korrina just can search you Puzzle of Time which provides perfect synergy with the deck.


Expanded Tier List

Tier S

None

Tier 1

Primal Groudon-EX

Trevenant BREAK

Speed Darkrai-EX

Tier 2

Mega Rayquaza-EX

Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX

Seismitoad-EX/Crobat

Raikou/Eelektrik

Yveltal-EX/Archeops/Gallade

Tier 3

Archie’s Blastoise

Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX

Vespiquen/Flareon

Sableye/Garbodor

Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong

Quad Regirock

Tier 4

Night March

Greninja BREAK

Vespiquen/Vileplume

Mega Manectric-EX

Landorus-EX/Crobat

Accelgor/Wobbuffet

Mega Mewtwo-EX/Landorus-EX

Tier 5

Most other Decks

Deck Explanations

With the decks listed above, it’s pretty clear that Primal Groudon-EX, Trevenant BREAK and Speed Darkrai-EX are the best decks to play right now in the BREAKpoint Expanded Format, although I think Primal Groudon EX is overall the most safe and best play, and people who participate at further Regionals have to be prepared to stand a chance against Primal Groudon-EX or you probably won’t bring gold back home.

Luckily enough, we have no serious “Tier S” Deck in current Expanded which beats anything that comes into its way like it’s the case in Standard with Night March. Night March in the Standard Format is the best example to show how a Tier S Deck has to look like to be determined as such, which is definition of nearly unbeatable – another Tier S deck example would be Seismitoad-EX/Shaymin-EX before the ban of Lysandre’s Trump Card happened to the game.

Tier 2 is formed by five very good decks, but they sometimes lack to have an equal chance beating those Tier 1 Decks. Mega Rayquaza EX beats any Darkness-based deck right now but struggles against Primal Groudon-EX and Trevenant BREAK.

Seismitoad/Giratina got with Puzzle of Time a possible way giratina-card-aorto recycle its energy to be even more threatening with the inclusion of the almighty Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym combo, Quaking Punch is still very strong and Chaos Wheel can also change a lot of games. Seismitoad/Crobat is similar to Seismitoad/Giratina in the sense that it also contains the very powerful Quaking Punch and the ability to deal a lot of damage while Item-locking your opponent down.

The rise of Raikou/Eelektrik is one of the reasons why Yveltal-based decks from Tier 1 to Tier 2. You can’t handle a non-EX which OHKOs your Main EX-attacker that efficiently, to be honest, but you have a good change to swing the match-up with Gallade from BREAKthrough, although Raikou/Eeels counters Gallade with its own Mewtwo-EX from Next Destinies thanks to it hitting for Weakness.

Tier 3 contains a lot of earlier Breakthrough Expanded Top Decks like Archie’s Blastoise, which is still really strong but lost the influence of defining the meta-game by itself. Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX got new toys like Fighting Fury Belt and Max Elixir so it got viable again. Vespiquen/Flareon is still an satisfactory deck, although Fighting Fury Belt hurts it a lot. Sableye/Garbodor can still crush some unprepared decks. Tyrantrum-EX‘s raw power to destroy nearly anything and the possibility to Chaos Wheel makes it still viable.regirock-xy-promo

Also, Quad Regirock saw some play in order to counter the best decks and even found a spot in the meta (shoutout to Ross G. for piloting it to a Top 8 Regionals finish and Joe B. for inventing the deck). Tier 4 is constructed by rather weaker decks like Night March & Greninja BREAK that shine way more in the Breakpoint Standard Format, and Tier 5 is filled by most the other decks.

Those are the 20 best decks right now in the BREAKpoint Expanded Format at the moment, in my opinion. This tier list can help you a lot in getting a better — or even clear — grasp on the current Expanded Format, and to decide for yourself which deck you like the most and want to play.

Now we head over to Primal Groudon-EX in the Expanded Format. It’s a very scary powerhouse which is overall seen as – at least in my opinion – the best and safest play right now if you want to win the next upcoming Expanded tournaments. Here you can see my current Primal Groudon list for the Expanded Format which already has seen a lot of success (1st, 3rd, and Top 8 Regionals finishes). Because Tropical Beach is maxed out, not many people can afford to play it unfortunately, and that is likely why the deck is not very often.


Analyzing Primal Groudon-EX

Pokémon: 12Trainers: 39Energy: 9

3 Primal Groudon-EX (PRC)
2 Groudon-EX (PRC)
1 Groudon-EX (DEX)
4 Wobbuffet (PHF)
1 Regirock (XY Promo)
1 Mr. Mime (PLF)

4 Korrina
3 Professor Sycamore
1 Xerosic
1 Lysandre
1 N
1 Teammates
1 Hex Maniac
1 AZ/Cassius
1 Pokémon Center Lady

4 Tropical Beach

4 Puzzle of Time
3 VS Seeker
2 Robo Substitute
2 Enhanced Hammer
1 Focus Sash
1 Hard Charm
1 Switch
1 Escape Rope
1 Float Stone
1 Mega Turbo
1 Prof. Letter
1 Super Potion
1 Battle Compressor
1 Computer Search
4 Strong
4 Fighting
1 Psychic

I think this list is nearly perfect since it provides the primal-groudon-primal-clashopportunity for so many skillful plays. For example, 2 Puzzle of Time + Korrina for Battle Compressor just gives you access to two of all your cards which is really nice. 1 Groudon-EX from Dark Explorers helps you in the mirror since it can snipe Bench damage to break the opponent’s Focus Sash and forces your opponent to heal them by wasting important ressource.

The Regirock XY Promo + 4 Tropical Beach + 1 Hex Maniac is way better than the 2-3 Tropical Beach + 1-2 Silent Lab combo since Silent Lab would block your Mr. Mime with Bench Barrier, Regirock can come in anytime without the fear of being Lysandre’d up stranding in the active position, not to mention that the draw power of 4 Tropical Beach is just really insane.

The Importance of Abilities

I also advise against playing the Fairy-type Mr. Mime, as you Wobbuffethave to play the psychic type Mr. Mime from Plasma Freeze to prevent Wobbuffet’s Bide Barricade Ability from shutting off Bench Barrier, which is especially important in the mirror. I would never play less than 4 Tropical Beach in Primal Groudon anymore since it provides so much consistency – otherwise you would not have as much draw power due to Shaymin-EX’s Set Up Ability being shut off by Wobbuffet.

Hex Maniac also allows you to block abilities anytime you need it; Silent Lab can easily be replaced by your opponent. Hex Maniac still serves the purpose intended, as it can prevent Abilities such as Giratina-EX’s Renegade Pulse, which prevents it from being damaged from Mega Evolutions.

Conquering the Lock

Speaking of Giratina-EX, Seismitoad/Giratina would be a serious problem if we don’t prepare for it: 2 Enhanced Hammer, 1 Hex Maniac, 1 Xerosic, 4 Puzzle of Time, 1 Teammates, Pokémon Center Lady and 1 Hard Charm make the match-up way easier since you can hammer their Double Dragon Energy off,  shut off Abilities with Hex Maniac them to kill Giratina-EX,  andyou also have the option to sue the Xerosic + Enhanced Hammer combo to knock 2 Double Dragon Energy off, or even to prevent the 2HKO from Giratina-EX done to your Primal Groudon-EX by attaching your 1-of Hard Charm.

Other Card Choices

The one-off Psychic Energy is played to be able to attack AZwith Wobbuffet in the mirror and can function as an additional attacker to win the mirror by having one more attack off before your last Primal Groudon-EX gets knocked out. Since Primal Groudon-EX needs 3 Fighting Energy and 1 Colorless Energy, 1 Psychic Energy doesn’t change anything although you have to be more precise with your Fighting Energy for your Regirock.

I also thought about playing 1 Cassius over 1 AZ but in reality you only can build up 2 Primal Groudon-EX per game and AZ often provides more value since you can just double Puzzle of Time for discarded cards without having to use your Supporter for the turn. It‘s also a bit better versus Item-lock decks, as you get the Pokémon back into your hand, not into your deck. Regardless, you can try Cassius over AZ and see with which one you feel more comfortable with!

Of course, your general game plan is to let three non-EX Pokémon get knocked out to let your opponent having 3 Prizes left, but he still has to kill both Primal Groudon-EX in order to win, and with Focus Sash + Lysandre you are almost always faster drawing your 6 prizes first.


Conclusion

You can see Primal Groudon offers a great variety in how you want to plan your victory by using your Items and Supporters wisely while strengthening up your 2 Primal Groudon-EX until you let your Primal-Groudon-EX destroy your opponent. The deck got devastatingly good with XY BREAKpoint, so if you plan attend any further BREAKpoint Expanded tournament, give the huge lizard a try if you think you can master the deck and pilot it to victory.

I hope you enjoyed the article as much as I did writing it. See you and until next time!

Nico Sutter

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Nico Sutter is an European Pokémon TCG player with a high number of top tournament finishes, including winning the 2016 Lanaken and Basel Regional Championships.

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