In this article I take a look at two familiar decks in Expanded that have gotten some enhancements since the last Expanded Regional of the 2016-17 season: Night March and Turbo Darkrai.
Below is the top 4 list from Japan’s recent National Championship, piloted by Akira Ikehara:
4 Joltik PHF
4 Pumpkaboo PHF
4 Lampent PHF
3 Shaymin EX ROS
2 Marshadow GX
1 Mew FCO
1 Giratina XY184
3 Professor Sycamore
1 Hex Maniac
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
4 Battle Compressor
4 Puzzle of Time
3 Trainers’ Mail
1 Special Charge
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Field Blower
1 Escape Rope
3 Fighting Fury Belt
1 Choice Band
1 Float Stone
2 Dimension Valley
Note that the Japanese event was XY-on and that is why you don’t see an ACE SPEC. I would probably cut the Escape Rope or the Choice Band for either Computer Search or Dowsing Machine (leaning toward the latter for the versatility and recovery it provides). I also think Lysandre would probably be better off as Guzma since that bails out a trapped Giratina, generally gives you more options and has synergy with Mew (as your free retreater that can come up after Guzma).
Speaking of Giratina, that card is here to give the deck a better chance against Trevenant (and also Greninja, which I do like a lot in Expanded right now following the ban on both Forest of Giant Plants and Archeops). I don’t know how good it actually is in that role given that it likely won’t come down at all under turn 1 Item lock, is a Lysandre/Guzma liability with its 2 retreat and doesn’t even completely counter Trevenant (evolving into the BREAK can be avoided as Tree Slam is a good enough attack versus Night March a lot of the time). Giratina is definitely worth experimenting with, at the very least, as it does have potential to positively affect the Trevenant and Greninja matchups.
Night March has terrorized Expanded for years now and its power has not eroded; in fact, the deck has gained a new attacker (well, a new Pokemon that will also be using the Night March attack, I should say) in Marshadow GX. Night March has a long history of running attack-copying Pokemon – first Mew EX and then Mew FCO – so this concept of stretching the number of available Night March attacks out is not new.
The thing that is new, and impactful, is Shadow Hunt’s connection to the discard pile rather than the Bench. Now, it is possible for Night March to deal up to 240 base damage with all 12 Night Marchers discarded, enough to OHKO things like Decidueye GX and Primal Groudon EX. Realistically, you won’t need to reach that game state very often, but being able to completely “step off the edge” and discard as many Night Marchers as you do need to achieve a KO even if that leaves you without a Night Marcher on the Bench is liberating.
With 150 HP (buffed up to 190 with Fighting Fury Belt), you also gain access to a Night March attacker that does take some effort from the opponent to OHKO which can make a huge difference in certain matchups/in-game situations.
The key tension that has always come with playing Night March lies in managing your Night Marchers: you need to discard enough of them to deal OHKOs, but you also need to make sure you have enough left to, you know, actually attack until you’ve drawn six Prizes. Marshadow GX gives you more flexibility, helps you a bit with having Night Marchers Prized, can sometimes take a hit (allowing you more turns to attack, ideally) and opens up new levels of damage output.
Another gift of Marshadow GX comes from its Fighting typing. Night March has long hated Darkrai EX DEX due to its Psychic resistance (coupled with Fighting Fury Belt over the past few seasons to make Darkrai EX difficult to OHKO) and ability to tear apart the Night March player’s Bench. Now, Night March has Marshadow GX as an easy OHKO option versus whatever version of Darkrai the opponent throws up (DEX, BKP or BUS).
With Fighting Fury Belt attached to Marshadow GX, you are reasonably likely to survive a follow-up attack from the opponent, and if not you can always use another Marshadow GX to deal another OHKO on the retaliating Darkrai. You could also run Focus Sash in an attempt to deny the opponent from OHKOing Marshadow GX in any matchup, although frankly that seems like a gimmick (and can be countered by a lot of different cards). I could be wrong. With or without the aid of Sash, I do like how sometimes Marshadow GX can save itself from a KO by copying Sky Return after taking a hit. The downside of not using Night March on that bail-out turn is there, but at least you get to deny Prizes and conserve Marshadow GX for later use.
Of course, Marshadow GX is not a perfect card nor is it going to solve all of Night March’s preexisting problems. This is not a card you want to rely on in every matchup because doing so ruins the one-Prize-attacker core strength of the Night March deck. Darkrai (or any other deck, for that matter) can use Hex Maniac to shut off Shadow Hunt, and Silent Lab, Greninja’s Shadow Stitching and Garbodor BKP/DRX are in the format to give you Ability issues as well.
If you reach a game state where you are relying completely on using Night March via Shadow Hunt and your opponent hits you with Ability lock, well, you can see the potential for disaster. Even losing just one turn of Night March to Ability lock can turn a game from being in your favor to a loss. Marshadow GX has more HP than Mew EX, but 150 is ultimately still low and therefore improper use of Marhadow GX can negate the whole point of Night March by ruining the Prize trade.
In some matchups you never want to even Bench Marshadow GX, such as mirror. Psychic weakness is also just about the worst weakness to have in Expanded, with Night March, Garbodor GRI, Tool Drop Trubbish, Necrozma GX, Mewtwo EX NXD and Trevenant XY all on the scene. Basically you have to use Marshadow GX with discretion. It can shine in certain matchups and situations, but it can also lose you the game if utilized incorrectly.
I also think that Mew FCO does probably have a place in the deck still even with Marshadow GX because it’s a one-Prize attacker that largely serves the same purpose as Marshadow GX, just in glass-cannon fashion, and, as I mentioned before, is a free retreater that you can pair with Guzma.
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