Hello, everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday season and a happy New Year! It’s that time of the season now, where everyone has their eyes set on Dallas, trying out the many viable Expanded decks to try to win the event. We have a new set and a new ban list in effect for Dallas, which was not in effect for Portland’s Regional Championship. For those of you who do not know, I played the Legendary Bird Trio for Portland and ended up in Top 16. I was not able to do a tournament report because Standard was my main focus after Portland, however I strongly believe I would have won the event if it wasn’t for my silly mistake of drawing seven cards off of Dedenne in two different rounds and getting double prize penalties for it. It was my mistake and had nothing to do with the deck, but that being said, I still think Bird Trio is one of the best decks right now and a huge contender to win Dallas. 

 

Strategy

This deck is run very similarly to Archie’s in the sense that you want to get your combo pieces strung together in a well-executed sequence. Those pieces involve getting Ho-Oh and Energy into the discard pile to use “Rebirth,” thereby accelerating the Ho-Oh and Energy onto your Bench, then using Ninja Boy in order to bring out whatever attacker you need at the time. It is very much a tool box deck where you have to know what the best option is for any given situation. You will typically go into the Legendary Bird Trio and start attacking for a lot of damage every turn, or use “Sky Legends GX” to disrupt your opponent’s set up. The deck is based around consistency for that strategy, using Battle Compressor to get Ho-Oh and Energy into the discard pile and then VS Seeker to get back your Ninja Boy or Guzma every turn. We draw more cards with Shaymin and Dedenne to keep our combo going every turn. There are a lot of times when you get four or four prizes in a turn thanks to knocking out Shaymin-EX, which is used in almost everyone’s deck. The strategy is very straightforward but it gets a little bit more difficult when you are in the middle of the game and have to figure out the best attacker, or when it’s the correct time to GX attack. This is a fairly challenging deck because if you make a tiny misstep you may not be able to execute your combo optimally. Other than that, with enough testing, the deck becomes second nature and you can figure out decisions very easily.

 

There were a couple of cards that we had in the deck that got banned so we’ll need to replace those: two Marshadow and one Reset Stamp. Additionally, there were a couple other cards in the deck that I either do not feel like the deck needs, or the meta has shifted away from needing the cards. Those cards are one Faba, one Mew, and two Weakness Guard Energy.

 

Faba

 

This has always been a pretty good card, but I never wanted to use my Supporter just to get rid of a Tool on Garbodor or against Fighting decks to get rid of their Strong Energy–Fighting decks are already a good matchup and I would rather have the third Field Blower in this slot. Having the Field Blower instead of the Faba makes it so you can use the Field Blower and then Ninja Boy in the same turn. You do not have a lot of time in the deck to play Faba, but you definitely want the extra out against things like Silent Lab or “Garbotoxin.” I would definitely play the third Field Blower over the Faba, but if you really want the Supporter so that you can reuse it with VS Seeker then Faba is not bad to keep in. Not using a Supporter has just been better in my experience. 

 

2 Weakness Guard Energy

 

This was one of the most worthless cards all day because PikeRom and Night March were just not very good decks at the event. A single PikaRom made Top 8 and there were a couple of Night March who made Day 2, but for the most part the decks were not very strong. With the new set coming out I do not expect to see much of either of these decks. The Weakness Guard Energy turned into an additional Fire Energy, bringing the count up to four Fire and a Metal Energy, which I will explain a little bit later when I talk about the addition of Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX into the list. If I was expecting a lot of PikaRom then I would keep in the Weakness Guard, but I do not think that the deck is very strong right now and do not want to have cards in my deck for a matchup that I might only play against once during the day, if that.

 

2 Marshadow

 

I would definitely still be playing this card if I could for the obvious reason of it being a broken card, however we do not have that option anymore. The issue is what to put in in its place, because Marshadow was a form of consistency for us as a shuffle draw out when we did not want to Dedenne-GX away our hand. I personally think that without other people having access to cards like this we do not have too much to worry about and ended up putting in the Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX and the ADP into the deck; two new threats that add a ton of utility into our toolbox deck that we have created. I will talk a little bit about both of these cards further down in the article, but adding in more threats gives us different options that can surprise our opponents out of nowhere.

 

Reset Stamp

 

This is another card that actually never felt particularly good but I added it in at the last second in order to have that extra out to my opponent having a huge hand. That being said, I did not like having it because I could never find it when I needed it. I am okay with needing to replace this card because it was never something that I felt was needed, but after we lost Marshadow and Reset Stamp we no longer have any way to disrupt our opponent, so I felt like the only card we could put into this spot was N, as it gave us the shuffle draw we lost with Marshadow and the disruption that we lost from Marshadow and Stamp. I do not like N in this deck because of how fast we are, but it is the best option to cover everything that we lost thanks to the ban list. I do not think we need more than one of these because we have VS Seeker. Having a shuffle draw and a hand disruptive Supporter are just too important, and N fits the role perfectly. 

 

Mew

 

I played two Mew in Portland, and besides it being a really good starter I never got much use out of it. I love having the option to go into Mew, but I felt like having it as a tech would be much better than playing two copies of it. This was actually something that I was iffy about going into Portland as well. I could not for the life of me decide what I wanted instead of the second Mew and that is why I kept it in, but thanks to the new set we got some new tools in the deck and are able to play something like Chaotic Swell. There are a couple of different Stadiums that could hurt us pretty badly, namely Power Plant, Silent Lab, and Shrine of Punishment. Chaotic Swell makes it so our opponent has to find both the Stadium and a Field Blower every time they want to replace the Stadium, and if they do not find it then they are going to be much worse off. Chaotic Swell also single-handedly destroys the new Ultra Necrozma/Garb deck that is running around, but we will talk about that later. 

 

1 Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX
Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX
Dedenne-GX
1 Tapu Lele-GX
1 Marshadow-GX
Mew
2 Shaymin-EX
2 Pyroar
2 Litleo
3 Ho-Oh-EX
3 Zapdos & Articuno & Moltres-GX
1 Guzma
1 Professor Juniper
1 Colress
1 N
2 Ninja Boy
4 VS Seeker
1 Chaotic Swell
1 Viridian Forest
1 Computer Search
1 Rescue Stretcher
2 Float Stone
2 Field Blower
4 Battle Compressor
4 Trainers’ Mail
4 Ultra Ball
1 Metal Energy
3 Water Energy
4 Lightning Energy
4 Fire Energy

 

Let’s talk about some of the new cards now and why I think they are so good, taking this deck to an entirely new and different level.

 

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (ADP)

 

I was skeptical at first when this card was brought up as an option, but after thinking about it more and testing with it I realized that it solves a problem that the deck had originally, which was always needing to Ninja Boy every turn of the game. Thanks to ADP, you no longer need to Ninja Boy and instead you can set up a benched Bird Trio, while still applying a bunch of pressure to the opponent. We are able to charge up the ADP very easily because of Ho-Oh and Ninja Boy, making the turn one attack very simple. This really comes in handy if you started something like the Legendary Birds or an attacker of some sort. Instead of having to manually attach Energy or just letting it sit there worthless for the rest of the game, you are able to charge it up very easily. One issue with ADP is that it does not shuffle itself back into the deck making it a liability later in the game or just an easy three prizes for our opponent to take early on. The best way to avoid that is to Ninja Boy it away after we are done using it. We can tank a hit with it, then Ninja Boy it into the Bird Trio, use “Sky Legends GX” and shuffle all the damage back into the deck. We will still have a fully charged attacker on the Bench because of “Ultimate Ray,” and are not at any risk of losing control of the game. You very rarely will ever use “Altered Creation GX” for a couple reasons, the first being that Pokémon Ranger is a very played card right now and one that I would definitely respect being in my opponent’s deck. The second reason is that “Sky Legends GX” is just a better GX attack almost every single time. Dealing 110 damage to three Pokémon is extremely good. I think the only reason to use “Altered Creation” is if our opponent has a Mew down early on. I know you might be wondering if it is worth it when we only have one ADP and one Metal Energy. What if we prize one of the pieces? It is not that big of a deal. I did not want to play too many cards for this combo because it is not required to execute our strategy but it is very good when it happens. There are so many times where we do not need to use it so committing too many spots to that strategy would change the deck and lower consistency for the rest of the combos that we have. 

 

Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX (LoPuff)

 

This card is absolutely ridiculous right now and wins a lot of games. LoPuff counts both EXs and GXs, which makes this card amazing against just about everything in the format. Having 240-HP makes it so Zoroark is not able to one-shot it, so it will always be taking four prizes against that deck. This makes Zoroark a much easier matchups for us; it was already one of the best matchups but now we have an extra piece to beat it. It is also extremely good against Turbo Dark, since you get to trade very easily against their Tag Team because they definitely will have enough EXs and GXs in play. They may take the return knockout but you will be able to take a knockout with LoPuff and then with Marshadow to finish off the game. LoPuff has been such a dominating card. Having another attacker also makes the deck less one dimensional; we were reliant on just attacking for 210 as our maximum damage but now we can hit much higher numbers, thanks to LoPuff.

 

Chaotic Swell

 

I am messing around with any amount of Swell from 0-2 of this card. There are times when this card just wins the game for us but there are a lot of other times when our opponent plays Field Blower, then plays a counter Stadium making the card wasted. Early game is when this card really shines. When our opponent is trying to set up and we Swell turn one or turn two, it makes it so that they have a lower chance of finding their Field Blower. Most decks are only playing one Blower, but I expect that number to be going up because “Garbotoxin” is gaining in popularity. Having more counter Stadiums is really good because Power Plant and Silent Lab are both very good cards against us and we need to get those off of the field as quickly as possible. I am not sure how many copies of this card should be in the deck but it is definitely something that I have been liking. 

 

Litleo/Pyroar

 

This was also a last minute addition into the deck before Portland because EggRow had won the weekend before. Pyroar was extremely good because it gave me an auto-win against Night March if I could set it up. It also made it so Gardeon could not beat me, since they have to attack with Aromatisse in order to do any damage and it’s very easy for us to knock that out. I had a 2-2 line of Pyroar in the deck because one was not enough to beat EggRow, but even now I am not convinced that EggRow is even good enough for Dallas. That being said, getting the auto-win against Gardeon and Night March was really nice and more than enough reason to play this card. One of the best parts about playing Pyroar was having Litleo as a starter. It is a free retreater against almost everything and one of the best starters in the deck. If I opened up with Litleo in the Active it made it significantly easier for me to pull off my combo because I no longer needed to find Float Stone. Overall, Pyroar is a really good addition to the deck.

 

Matchups

 

Dark Box

 

I think starting here is probably a safe bet because everyone believes this to be the best deck in the format, and what will undoubtedly be the most popular for the weekend. I beat every Dark Box that I went up against in Portland and I do not think that anything has changed for them. They do not have a good answer to LoPuff or for Marshadow-GX, and they are also a deck that is very reliant on Shaymin-EX. The most common play that I did during the tournament was using Ninja Boy to go into Marshadow-GX attacking an active Darkrai and a benched Shaymin with “Sky Legends GX” taking four prizes. The biggest thing to remember is that you attack the active Pokémon for Weakness and because of that you can take a lot of prizes in one turn. The other addition that we have is LoPuff. Every Pokémon in their deck is an EX or a GX so LoPuff will always get a knockout and we are able to take easy prizes off of their Tag Team attackers. If they are not playing Weavile, or if we knock it out early then we will be able to finish off the game with Pyroar very easily. The only thing Dark Box has going for it is that it is very fast and might be able to overwhelm us early on in the game, but thankfully we are also a very fast deck and can usually keep up for the most part.

 

Ultra Necrozma/Garb 

 

This deck is the hype of the format right now, and for good reason. I believe the deck is pretty strong and a real contender as the best one-prize attacker deck, however it is extremely easy for us to beat it because we take three knockouts at any point during the game thanks to “Sky Legends GX.” The biggest threat is if they are able to stick a Silent Lab early on in the game. Silent Lab really makes it so we cannot do much throughout the game, which is why we have so many outs to get rid of it. If we get past that, it turns into a very easy match. You take a knockout on whatever is Active early on with Bird Trio then, after they attack you, you shuffle the Bird Trio back into your deck with “Sky Legends GX” and take three knockouts, usually on their Garbodor. If you play a Chaotic Swell on top of all that they have no way of attacking in response. The best counter to the deck is Chaotic Swell and taking a knockout on Garb. Even if we do not get the Swell you still want to target down the Garbodor because that is how the deck functions. After that the last two prizes of the game get taken before they can take their six. It’s a very easy matchup and their only game plan is to hope that they lock us out of the game with Silent Lab into Garbodor, which is why we have three Field Blowers in the deck. 

 

Zoroark/Garb

 

I love this matchup because they really cannot do anything to us. We attack for 210 damage, which one-shots Zoroark and we also get to pick off easy knockouts early on in the game in order to disrupt their set up. One thing you do want to be careful about though is that taking the knockouts on Garbodor and Trubbish is much better than taking two knockouts on Zorua. That’s because Zoroark is not a threat at all, but getting N’d and “Garbotoxin” locked is a HUGE threat. We already had a very good matchup against them, and now that we added in more Field Blower, as well as a LoPuff the matchup is extremely favorable. The biggest threat is a “Trashalanche” late game. You have to remember that “Trashalanche” still exists and play around it when you can. Even if they get it established, 300-HP is a ton of HP and not something they can handle easily. No matter what the Garb deck is, you need to be careful that “Trashalanche” can come out at any moment to take a quick knockout. The game plan should always be to only use the Items that are needed and never over extend with them. If you do that then you will have a very easy time winning the matchup.

 

Mewtwo & Mew-GX

 

This is the deck that we do not want to play against because it’s very close, but ultimately in their favor. We do not have a very good answer for “Damage Swap” if they get out Jirachi. The best thing that we can do is to Guzma the Jirachi and take a knockout so that our Mew can attack Mewtwo & Mew-GX for Weakness. If they do not have Jirachi in play then the matchup becomes extremely favorable, but if it is in play then we’re stuck on the back foot. I have thought about adding in some techs for the matchup like Mimikyu to shut of their Ability, but need to test that a little bit more to see if it works. The other option is to change the techs of the deck and add in ReshiZek to be able to one-shot the Mewtwo & Mew-GX. I have not tested either of those yet because I was working on finding the perfect base of the deck before I got too crazy with the techs. I also do not expect too much Mewtwo in Dallas because of how much the deck struggles against Dark Box. If they are playing Jolteon-EX it makes it even more difficult because we have to get Pyroar out and start attacking with it to make them use a different attack. Luckily, though 60 from Pyroar and 210 from Bird Trio is enough to take the knock out on a 270-HP Mewtwo & Mew-GX, so we have that going for us. Overall, without techs, I would not be looking forward to playing against this matchup.

 

Shock Lock

 

Another deck that is not a good matchup for us. Our only option to winning this is if we can “Sky Legends GX” to either donk them, or disrupt their set up enough to win before they can establish the lock. There is not much we can do to help this matchup other than play Switch over Float Stone. If you are playing against Shock Lock, it’s a little unfortunate because the deck is not very strong anymore thanks to the rise in Garbodor, but if you do not get the donk and they get the lock you are going to want to scoop immediately so that you can try to get the donk game two and game three. If they lock you both games one and two, then you at least get an early lunch. You don’t have many tech options and might just want to rest for the next round. I would not want to play against Shock Lock on Dallas.

 

Gardeon

 

Very, very easy matchup. Unfortunately for them, there are not very many options for them to beat us. They do not have an answer to Pyroar, and Pyroar will just take over the game, however, let’s say that they do have some sort of out to Pyroar, or we decide not to play Pyroar then the matchup is still significantly in our favor. I was nervous going into Portland because I never tested against Gardeon and was worried it might be a bad matchup but I was wrong it’s very easy. They play a very thin line or Aromatisse, which is the entire engine of the deck. If they do not have Aromatisse in play then they are not able to effectively heal their Gardeon. The most common play that I have been doing is that I used “Sky Legends GX” to take the knockout on the Aromatisse on the Bench as well as putting 110 Damage onto the Gardeon, putting it in range of Bird Trio taking the knockout. This was enough to completely overwhelm them and they have to decide between losing their Energy or losing the Gardeon. They are not a very good deck once Aromatisse is gone and we are very good at getting rid of Aromatisse. You want to sit across from this deck every round.

 

Night March

 

We go with the Pyroar strategy in the matchup as well because they do not have a counter. The issue is we have to get rid of any excess Pokémon that are on our Bench so that they cannot take six prizes just from Guzma. That is actually our strategy as well. One thing I realized during Portland was that we do not do enough damage and our opponent will be able to Shaymin “Sky Return” loop to stall out the game. Our strategy if they try to do that is to use our Guzma and VS Seeker to take a few knockouts around Shaymin, then, when we have a couple prizes left, we can Ho-Oh + Ninja Boy + “Sky Legends GX” to finish off the game. As long as we get the Pyroar out early on it is a very easy matchup. I did lose to it in Portland because I got the double prize penalty game one, so he was able to capitalize on that. I was not able to go the Pyroar strategy game one because he had already knocked out a Shaymin and I had multiple EXs on the Bench already. Other than that I should have won; Pyroar is extremely good against them and you have an easy matchup as long as you get it out.

 

Archie’s

 

It is really hard to still consider this a deck because of how much it under performs every time it is played. It is a close matchup for us, but still favorable thanks to the addition of LoPuff. Archie’s is another deck that is very reliant on EXs and GXs and we will be able to take a knockout very easily with LoPuff on whichever Tag Team they decide to attack with. Most of the time, they will either have a Mewtwo & Mew-GX or a Magikarp & Wailord-GX in the Active. Archie’s got even less consistent because it lost Marshadow SLG and they have no way of doing 300 to the Bird Trio. If they are playing the Mewtwo & Mew-GX variant then baby Mew is really good because they are not able to get rid of their Weakness. You should win this matchup the majority of the time. 

 

Lucario

 

Lucario is a deck that always randomly pops up–last year in Dallas it was a very popular choice as an anti-meta deck. Now it has turned into just a solid deck instead of a counter to the meta. Having Fighting typing is extremely good with everyone playing Dark Pokémon and I think Lucario should see a lot of play, and will probably do well at this event. Luckily for us, we have a near auto-win against them. They struggle with keeping up with us during the game, we play three Field Blower to get rid of Focus Sash, and if we are unable to get rid of the Sash then using “Sky Legends GX” to soften it up and knockout some Benched Riolu or their Octillery will be enough to finish off the game. They are weak to Mew, which makes it so we could have a four prize turn if we “Sky Legend GX” their Active Lucario-GX a Benched Riolu. They rely on having their Benched Octillery to function better. The only key is that we need to have Field Blower to keep their Focus Sash off of their Pokémon. If we do that then we will win every time.

 

EggRow

 

This is the last deck I am going to talk about. I think that too many people are countering this deck for it to be good, case in point: we are one of the decks that are countering it. Pyroar is able to take knockouts on their Vileplume, and they only play a maximum of two of the Vileplume that make it so Basics can’t attack, so after they are gone we just win the game. I play the 2-2 line of Pyroar because if they get the first attack off they are able to knock our Pyroar out, and we need two in order to take out all of the Vileplume that disrupt us. After those Vileplume are gone they do not have anything going for them. Their strategy at that point is to attach three Energy to EggRow and hope that it can do something, which against us they will not be able to, especially if we have our Pyroar still in play. I do not think EggRow will see much play because even Dark Box that plays Weavile destroys them now. As long as Pyroar is in the deck you will have a favorable matchup against EggRow.

 

I believe that Bird Trio is top tier for this event and believe that it was the best deck in Portland. There are not very many decks that can compete with a 300-HP Pokémon that does 210 damage, and the decks that can compete lose to all of our other techs that we are able to play in it. Having a tool box strategy makes it very easy to put in whatever we want. We are already playing four different types of Energy and can tech for just about anything. This deck struggles against lock decks like Shock Lock, but we have the hope of being able to disrupt their set up with a turn one “Sky Legends,” but we do not have any outs once we get locked. If we are up against any Tag Team or GX/EX deck then we have a favorable matchup. Most of the one-prize decks cannot handle a 300-HP Tag Team that shuffles itself back into the deck. 

 

My final thoughts would be to test the deck because it is not easy to always make the right decisions, and if you are really scared of Mew, try playing a Silent Lab–though it’s hard to find Silent Lab when you need it, and it hurts you in the long run as well. This deck is extremely fun and it’s always a good time when you have people three rows down looking at you when you say “Sky Legends GX” for six prizes. Good luck on getting your invite this season and I hope everyone does well in Dallas!