At the moment of writing it’s the 20th of October, which means today Pokémon gave their quarterly announcement on rule changes. If you had no idea this happened or was about to happen, you’re probably not the only one. Even though this is something they are going to be doing every three months, it hasn’t even been half a year since they first announced their intention to do this.
Last announcement saw an enormous response (mostly positive from what I can tell) since two very important cards got the ban hammer: Forest of Giant Plants and Archeops. Since then, they have been monitoring the Expanded format to find other unhealthy cards with an unhealthy effect on the format, and lo and behold: they thought nothing was banworthy.
While this was what I think most people expected there was a fraction of the playerbase speculating about a possible ban on Dimension Valley. I don’t want to dedicate too much time on this but I want to explain why this speculation likely turned out to be just that.
A card being powerful, even to the point where it’s being played in almost every deck, does not make it banworthy. While Pokémon has said they will be “aggressively monitoring” the Expanded format, that doesn’t mean they are looking out to find the next thing to ban. Rather, they are looking to “maintain a healthy play environment”. The cards that have been banned all made the environment too unhealthy, allowing turn 1 wins, uninteractive games and forcing evolution decks to run very suboptimal lists or risking an autoloss.
When you try to think of unhealthy cards in the Expanded format, the first things that come to your mind should be cards like Trevenant XY or even Seismitoad EX, as those are the closest things the current Expanded format has to cards that make for an uninteractive game. But as it is now, they’re still watching tournament data to see how the previous bans pan, so no reason to start banning more cards.
Dimension Valley is powerful and it’s present in no less than three popular archetypes (Night March, Garbodor and Trevenant), but of these only one makes for uninteractive games and Dimension Valley isn’t the direct cause of them. It’s true that banning Dimension Valley would “balance” the game in favor of other decks (if we can assume for a moment that these three are the best decks in the format), but Pokémon is not looking to make every deck equal. The format could revolve all around one or two decks and they would be fine with it, as long as it felt like a healthy format. In fact, (good) formats in the past have been like this.
With that mentality in mind, one deck certainly made it look like the format was all about it in Daytona: Necrozma/Garbodor. As you can see at the bottom of the page, the exact decklist took 1st, 3rd, as well as 25th, 34th and 57th. Pretty much all the players running it were household names in the Pokémon community too, most notably Ryan Sablehaus who ended up winning with it.
Here it is, for reference:
4 Trubbish PLS
2 Garbodor GRI
1 Garbodor BKP/DRX
1 Mimikyu GRI
1 Oricorio GRI (Supernatural Dance)
1 Mew FCO
3 Tapu Lele GX
3 Professor Sycamore
4 VS Seeker
4 Ultra Ball
2 Rescue Stretcher
1 Field Blower
1 Computer Search
4 Choice Band
3 Float Stone
3 Dimension Valley
4 Psychic Energy
4 Double Colorless Energy
3 Rainbow Energy
While the deck is often called Necrozma/Garbodor, it’s probably better to think of it as some sort of Psychic-based toolbox that takes full advantage of Dimension Valley. Necrozma is generally only going to attack once per game and Garbodor only joins the fun when opponents have burned through their items, so until the time is right for these the deck has all sorts of other interesting options.
The one I saw being utilized the most on stream, perhaps surprisingly, is Tapu Lele GX’s Energy Drive. Since the other attackers are a bit more situational, Energy Drive is often a good way to start off your offense. In Standard you can only use it for a Double Colorless, but in Expanded Dimension Valley makes it that you can use it for only a Psychic if you have to, though you’re obviously dealing less damage when doing so.
If you want to actually score some OHKOs, the Drampa has got your back, well known for being capable of dealing 180 for just two energy attachments as long as there’s damage on your bench. Sometimes your opponent will help you out with this: either they could use a spread attack like Silent Fear, or they could simply be hitting into your Tapu Lele GX that you just attacked with. But if they aren’t cooperating (opponents tend to try not to) you can always attach a Rainbow of your own.
Necrozma is only played for its GX attack: Black Ray GX. While Dimension Valley is in play, you can use it for just a Double Colorless Energy to deal 100 damage to every two-prize Pokémon your opponent has in play. This can either be a briljant finishing move to take 2, 4 or even 6 prizes at once, or a way to set up easier future KOs depending on how you go about it.
If you do the strategy where you spread early, your opponent is going to have a very hard time staying out of Trashalanche KO range: just 3 items in the discard puts them there since this deck has a full playset of Choice Bands. There’s not all that much healing in the format right now, so generally the 100 damage will stick around.
That wraps up the big guns, but the little guys pack a punch too.
Mimikyu’s Copycat can be used for a single Psychic (again, Dimension Valley opens many doors) to copy the last attack your opponent used. Great in mirror matches when engaged in a Trashalanche war, as you’re using a basic Pokémon instead of an evolution to take a KO. But there’s a lot of Pokémon that don’t like it when you use their own attacks against them: Tapu Bulu, Turtonator and Drampa can get OHKO’d if you meet the right conditions, and using Silent Fear against Trevenant makes it easier to get KOs in future turns. Even though Mimikyu is situational I wouldn’t say he’s here for a specific matchup, he seems to be useful at least once every game.
Oricorio, on the other hand, is mainly here for one matchup: Night March. In order for Night March to KO a GX they will need at least 7 in the discard, which is already enough for Oricorio to KO 2 Joltiks or a Pumpkaboo. Worst case scenario, Oricorio lets you take a prize without even attaching any Energy. But it’s likely that over the course of the game a Night March player has to discard more Night Marchers or other Pokémon and thus give you more options with Supernatural Dance. The better Night March player will do their best to ration their discards, but that still lets the Garbodor player build up its bench with energy and Trashalanche Garbodors while attacking with a basic at no energy cost.
I also think Mew is best in the Night March matchup, since it can copy Oricorio (did I mention this attack is free?) while making it harder for the Night March player to get rid of the threat. In order for them to do so, they will have to use Lysandre or Guzma to drag it up, costing them a turn of playing a draw supporter. And even if they can afford to do this, Oricorio is always a Rescue Stretcher away from returning into play.
Of course, Mew is always a decent Pokémon to have in play because it grants free retreat even if your opponent Field Blowers away all your Float Stones. Unfortunately it cannot copy Trashalanche, but it can do Copycat (copyception) and one more attack…
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