Hey guys, welcome back to another article!
This time, instead of talking about multiple topics, I’ll focus on a single deck that deserves more attention: Trevenant Break in the Expanded format.
At the beginning of the season, Trevenant used to be one of the most feared decks in the format and was the subject on many ban list dicussions. Going into Fort Wayne, the first Expanded Regional in a long time, it was arguably the deck to beat. All concerns however did not come true, and the deck failed to put up much of a showing.
Its lack of success in Fort Wayne can be attributed to various reasons. It was heavily expected, so many players teched against it with cards like Giratina Promo, or Latias-EX in Sableye decks. The tournament was dominated by big basic decks like Darkrai and Turtonanor, that are typically the most troublesome matchups for Trevenant. Lastly, Item lock became much easier to deal with thanks to the release of Tapu Lele-GX, and Trevenant was always one the more inconsistent decks around, so even good matchups are far from easy wins.
A month later in Daytona Beach, it still didn’t exactly dominate, but put up an impressive run and finished 2nd in the hands of experienced Trevenant player Bob Zhang. This result didn’t attract a ton of attention, but it still showed that Trevenant isn’t a deck can be counted out too easily.
Just recently the third big Expanded tournament of the season took place in San Jose. The big story of the weekend was Zoroark-GX, the card that carried over its success from the Standard format and was featured in two-thirds of the Top 32 decks! Trevenant on the other hand didn’t have a single placement, which may seem to make sense considering its weakness to Zoroark.
However, I believe Trevenant has the tools to deal with Zoroark, turning what’s perceived as an autoloss into quite the easy matchup! It also benefits from the recent meta shift away from big EX/GX and towards evolving Pokémon, which makes me think it’s poised to make a comeback in Dallas next month.
First, you might wonder, why do I even care? After all, Europe doesn’t even play competitive Expanded aside from two tournaments all season. However, I still enjoy the format, play it online relatively frequently, and try to keep up with its latest developments.
Some weeks ago, I was browsing through the facebook group HeyFonte and came across some comments from Seena Ghaziaskar, where he claimed that Trevenant is the best deck in Expanded, thanks to some key card choices. I’m sure most of you are aware of who Seena is after all the “broken deck” talk before London, and I think it’s safe to say he does have credentials when it comes to deckbuilding. His points made sense to me, so I put together a list and gave it a try, with solid results.
I bet the question everyone wants to know about the most is: how does it beat Zoroark? The answer is simple: Espeon-EX. Zorua only has 60 HP, so after two Silent Fears, a Miraculous Shine can wipe out the Zoroark player’s complete board. They can counteract that strategy by not putting down all their Basics at once, and waiting a turn each, but that’s quite difficult to pull off under Item Lock. Besides, there’s another card Zoroark must worry about all the time, and the second key piece to this new style of Trevenant: Enhanced Hammer. If you look at the current meta, you’ll realize that basically every deck uses Special Energy, and most of them rely on solely Double Colorless Energies. Knocking out a Trevenant every turn becomes much harder when the opponent finds their Energy removed all the time.
Let’s look at the list I’ve been playing around with.
It might remind you of what Jonathan Crespo used to win Philadelphia Regionals last season. The strategy is similar, playing cards that help in streaming a lot of Trevenant, and using disruption cards to eventually stop the opponent from attacking. Only this time, our Hammers have a 100% success rate!
The Pokémon line is very focused and only includes what’s necessary. Espeon has already been mentioned and is key against the many Evolution decks around. Tapu Lele is the best support Pokémon by far and can also be used for its attacks from time to time. Jirachi is a worse Lele, but searchable by Level Ball, so also a mandatory consistency inclusion. Other options like Shaymin-EX or Necrozma-GX can find their way into the deck, and will be mentioned towards the end of the article, but lower the odds of starting with Phantump and didn’t seem impactful enough to me.
The main goal of this deck is to set-up as many Breaks as possible and continue spreading even when getting knocked out every turn, so the Trainer line has a lot of Pokémon search and recovery. Level Ball is crucial for getting Phantumps out of the deck as soon as possible and I’d even consider going up to four of them. Super Rod and Rescue Scarf are important for not running out of attackers or Energy. I like having two of both and would not lower those counts.
Four Enhanced Hammer may seem a bit excessive, but with the current state of the format, you’ll rarely find turns where they are not useful. I’ve lost games due to not drawing into my hammers in time, and if the opponent doesn’t attack, having a useless hammer in hand isn’t too bad! They are of course useless against bad matchups like Darkrai, but beating those isn’t the point of this deck.
The one Field Blower is in here against Garbotoxin mainly, and has in fact been useful for me a decent amount of times. The last Item in the list, Computer Search, is by far the best Ace Spec for Trevenant. It improves the odds of a T1 lock and helps dig for all you need at any point in the game. However, if you don’t have access to it, Dowsing Machine wouldn’t be a horrible inclusion either.
As for the Supporter line-up, it can be changed a bit, but I’ve liked it so far. The 3rd N isn’t completely necessary, but clunky or completely supporter-less hands at the beginning of the game have cost me some games, and the additional supporter helps. Being able to Wonder Tag for the third copy towards the end of the game has also come in very handy. Either Guzma or Lysandre could be removed, as bringing up opponent’s Pokémon isn’t super important, but having both options is very nice nevertheless. Team Flare Grunt supplements the Energy Removal strategy and can help running some decks out of options to attack. It’s also the only out against Darkrai, though admittedly a weak one. The hope for that matchup is going first, hitting the Wally into Item lock, and then slowing them down by removing some of the first few manual attachments while putting out damage.
Eight Energy feels like the correct amount, and since all our support Pokemon except for Jirachi are Psychic types, there’s not a lot of reason to not take advantage of the extra utility Mystery Energy provides. I’ve played about 50 games with this list and never came across a situation where drawing it instead of additional Basic Energy had a siginficant negative impact.
Now that I’ve covered what’s in the deck, let’s talk about what makes it so appealing, the matchups. I’ve never been a big Trevenant fan, and still dislike its inconsistent nature, but if I were playing in an Expanded tournament soon, it would be among my first picks, simply because of all the free wins I’d almost surely hit.
The meta in San Jose consistent of mainly 3 decks: Night March, Zoroark and Gardevoir. Additionally, decks like Gyarados and Wailord did well, while Sableye got a lot of hype. All those decks have something in common: I’d be happy to face them with Trevenant.
As mentioned, Espeon takes care of Zoroark and there’s really not a whole lot they can do against it. Night March is tougher, as they can easily take out Espeon after it devolved their Zoroark, but it’s still fine. It’s more difficult for them to get into an attacking Zoroark in the first place, especially if being hit with the T1 Item lock. It also requires them to bench multiple Pokémon that will become easy prizes after some turns of Silent Fear. That can make it possible to race to 6 prizes faster than them, even when being forced to use the Espeon. Lastly, running them out of Energy or at least stopping them from attacking for a few turns is a possibility. Night March can take wins over it, but I think it’s at worst a 50/50 for Trevenant.
Gardevoir is a Stage 2, thus very reliant on Items, and vulnerable to Espeon. It should not even be close. Gyarados is even easier, a single Silent Fear takes them out. Wailord literally cannot win, unless they add a second Lusamine and a Rough Seas. Sableye is losable, but favourable if they don’t play the Latias-EX tech.
Other matchups should be rare because Night March and Zoroark are quite oppressive. Garbodor definitely has the potential to come back, and isn’t an easy matchup, but not a horrible one either. Trashalance is the main threat for Trevenant and can get to OHKO numbers fast, so be aware of that. Tapu Cure GX is also one of their best tools.
The worst matchups are decks that have a lot of HP and require a lot of attacks to be taken down, while also being hard to disrupt and dealing OHKOs. Currently, those are Darkrai and Turtonator. From some point on they’ll take a prize every turn, which makes it almost impossible to draw all prizes before them, unless they put down 3 EX/GX early and take a while to get going.
Luckily for Trevenant, Night March and Zoroark almost completely pushed those out of the meta for the moment.
The list I presented is very straightforward and focuses on a single goal in hopes of keeping consistency high (for Trevenant standards that is), but there are some other cards the deck could include.
Probably the most notable omission, and part of Trevenant decks ever since they started existing, but Lele is better. A single Shaymin would be fine, and I had it in the list originally, but it didn’t seem very impactful, and starting it is just bad, so it had to go. Feel free to add it back in though, it’s certainly not a bad option to have.
Necrozma was part of the Trevenant deck that received all the original hype, but it lost a lot of its usefulness with the recent meta shifts. With a different approach to the list, it could help make the Dark and Fire matchups close, but I’d rather focus on beating the other decks. It’s still a very strong card and I could see it being good, so give it a try if you want.
Counter Energy + Spiritomb
Players have been awaiting the Tapu Lele Promo for a long time now, and this combo can kind of mimic what it would do. Counter Energy in general has good synergy with Trevenant, as the deck always goes down in prizes before taking multiple in a single turn. A list with a lot of Counter Energy would also be less reliant on Dimension Valley and could play a stadium split with Silent Lab to counter Giratina Promo, if that became relevant again. Lusamine is another new card that could make it easier to effectively use different stadiums.
Peeking Red Card
If wanting to go for a full disruption route, like the original Crespo list, there’s now this card that’s probably better than the old Red Card. Instead of shuffling any hand away, oftentimes a bad hand, you can first check if the opponent does indeed have whatever they need and then decide.
The Trees are not gone, in fact, the deck might be the strongest it has been in a while, so make sure to not forget about it before Dallas! I for one will be observing further Expanded developments with interest, but for now it’s time to put all my focus into Standard again.
Hope you liked the article, it will probably be my last one for the year, so see you in 2018!