Hello everyone! This is Elena from Gaia Storm TCG and it is a great pleasure to be here once again. Today, we are going to be talking about something completely different than usual: the Expanded format. Even if this is not as well-known as the Standard one, I think Expanded is a very stimulating environment that lets you connect with Pokémon TCG in a whole new way. Wait, what? You are not familiar with this format and would like to know a little bit more? Worry not because we are going to be covering all the most important aspects for you to play with all the warranties.

What is the Expanded Format?

Ok, let’s start from the beginning. What is exactly the expanded format and how is it different from the Standard one? Expanded is an official format that tries to offer Pokémon players a different way of approaching the game by allowing cards from Black and White (2012) onwards. Of course, this can already give you an idea of how diverse the card choices are considering that there are more than 40 expansions available to pick from (in Standard, we normally have 8 so you can easily get the picture).

As I just mentioned, Expanded is actually an official format, and not so long ago, Pokémon hosted a number of Regionals every year but because of the pandemic and everything, it has obviously stopped and it is a bit unsure if TPCI will decide to resume them. But in the meantime, you can easily play the format in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, of course, in the corresponding ladder to earn the same rewards and points as you will do on Standard. The main incentive is that you will face a variety of strategies that you could never see otherwise.

Are really all cards available?

That is a great question! And the answer is… no. Unlike in Standard, there is actually a Banlist (updated every 3 months) that restricts certain cards that can create an unhealthy environment. You see, the situation with such an expansive card pool is that the number of combinations is almost endless and sometimes new mechanics can create a very powerful combo with a card that was released 10 years ago. Normally, Pokémon tries to ban those types of cards that leave your opponent without resources (like Delinquent, Ghetsis, or Jessie & James) or those who can create an infinite loop (Oranguru, Sableye, and Puzzle of time). In case you are wondering, you can check the entire list on the official Pokémon web so make sure you take a look at them before you begin your expanded adventure.

What are the staple cards?

Having so many different strategies means that there are a lot of options but if you are planning to build a deck from scratch you are probably going to be needing to get some staple ones (i.e. cards that are generic and that will always provide you with consistency). Let’s see some of the most important ones:


Dedenne GX: If you’ve played the game last year, you are surely familiar with this small lightning guy. Dedenne allows you to discard the cards in your hand and draw six new ones. This is ideal for turbo strategies and serves as a back-up play when you are looking for a certain card and you’ve already used your supporter for the turn.

Tapu Lele Gx

Tapu Lele GX: For many years Tapu Lele GX had been one of the cards that defined the metagame and it still maintains its relevance in Expanded. Tapu Lele allows you to search for any supporter card from your deck so you can imagine the flexibility it allows. By the way, a new version of Tapu Lele is being released soon in the next Standard Set, Brilliant Stars, under the name of Lumineon V.

Sudowoodo: This is not exactly the most powerful card but has a very unique ability that limits the bench of your opponent to only four Pokémon. Since there are a lot of strategies that rely on playing as many cards as possible (Eternatus, Tsareena V, or Zoroark GX), using a Sudowoodo can turn the match-up upside down.


VS Seeker: This card is what motivates one of the biggest changes in terms of deck building when you compare Expanded to the Standard format. VS Seeker gets back a Supporter card from the discard pile so that implies you can safely reduce the supporter count you run in your deck.

Ultra Ball

Ultra Ball: This is by far the most iconic and effective generic item to search for Pokémon in the game. It allows you to get any Pokémon you need at the cost of discarding two cards from your hand but this is actually quite good because it allows you to send cards to the discard pile and enable interesting combos.

Battle Compressor: Precisely talking about discarding cards, there is no better option than Battle Compressor. In my opinion, this is one of the most powerful cards in the entire game as it lets you select and discard up to three cards from your deck to the discard pile. This provides an incredible acceleration and opens the door to many explosive combos.

Computer Search/ Dowsing Machine: The two cards belong to a special category called “Ace Spec” that was released during the Black and White era that has the particularity of being limited to one per deck (similarly to what happened with the Prism Stars for example) because of the advantage they provide. Every deck will want to run either Computer Search or Dowsing Machine depending on their strategy and whether they will take more advantage of recovering resources or searching cards.

Float Stone: One of the best tool cards ever printed. Float Stone reduces the retreat cost of the Pokémon that has it attached to zero so unless you are running other types of switching cards, a couple of Float Stones is always a must-have.


N: The king of the comebacks! N is a very powerful weapon in the late games as it forces you and your opponent to shuffle your hand and draw the same amount of remaining prize cards. This of course can be devastating when your opponent is down to one prize.


Guzma: This card is literally Boss Orders and Switch together so it is almost impossible to find a deck that does not run a couple of these.

What are the most popular strategies?

This is a tricky question because there are so many viable options and the metagame is continuously evolving. It does not matter if you want to play Aggro, Combo, or Control, there are plenty of good strategies and it is impossible to prepare against everything. From a deck that will create an impossible lock to another that wins before you can even play, the possibilities are just endless. If you play on the Pokémon Online Ladder, you will typically face things like Mad Party, Volcarona, Mew VMAX, Tsareena, and Blissey,
In case you are wondering, right now some of the top tier strategies are Shadow Rider Calyrex, Eternatus, Mew VMAX, and ADP Dragonite. I will leave you here with a couple of sample decklists that you can use as a starting guide.

Shadow Rider Calyrex

Pokémon (12)

Trainers (34)

Energy (14)

4x Shadow Rider Calyrex V CRE 743x Professor's Research CEL 2314x Psychic Energy 5
4x Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX CRE 751x Marnie CPA 56
1x Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 531x Acerola BUS 112
1x Alolan Grimer SUM 571x N FCO 105
1x Tapu Lele-GX GRI 601x Guzma BUS 115
1x Alolan Muk SUM 584x Mysterious Treasure FLI 113

4x Fog Crystal CRE 140

3x Trainers' Mail ROS 92

3x Quick Ball FST 237

3x VS Seeker PHF 109

1x Computer Search BCR 137

1x Super Rod BKT 149

1x Field Blower GRI 125

4x Float Stone BKT 137

3x Silent Lab PRC 140

This first list revolves around Shadow Rider Calyrex and it is one of the most consistent strategies thanks to the searching power of Mysterious Treasure. Four copies of float stone ensure you can efficiently rotate your attackers while locking your opponent with Silent Lab and Alolan Muk, leaving them without abilities.

ADP Dragonite

Pokémon (12)

Trainers (36)

Energy (12)

2x Arceus Dialga Palkia-GX CEC 1562x Guzma & Hala CEC 1938x Lightning Energy 4
2x Dragonite V PR-SWSH 1542x Guzma BUS 1154x Double Dragon Energy ROS 97
2x Dedenne-GX UNB 572x Professor Juniper PLB 84
1x Crobat V SHF 441x N FCO 105
1x Sudowoodo GRI 664x Trainers' Mail ROS 92
1x Tapu Koko Prism Star TEU 514x Quick Ball FST 237
1x Vikavolt V DAA 604x Max Elixir BKP 102
1x Zeraora-GX LOT 864x Tag Call CEC 206
1x Tapu Lele-GX GRI 604x VS Seeker PHF 109

1x Computer Search BCR 137

1x Field Blower GRI 125

2x Float Stone BKT 137

2x Muscle Band XY 121

3x Stormy Mountains EVS 161

This second list is probably a fan-favorite and I am sure you know how the strategy works. The goal is to go second and use Arceus Palkia Dialga’s Altered Creation in your first turn thanks to Double Dragon Energy. After that, your main attacker will be no other than Dragonite V, who is able to continuously deal 280 damage. If you thought ADP Zacian was broken and liked to play the deck, you definitely need to test this version. 

How do I get started?

I will be honest, starting with Expanded can be a bit challenging as there are many pieces you need to get. My first piece of advice for you is to recycle something you already have ready in Standard, get some common staple cards, and build a deck around it as opposed to starting completely from scratch. This is something that works very well with Mew VMAX, Pikachu & Zekrom Tag Team, Mew & Mewtwo Tag Team, or Mad Party. Also, bear in mind that some cards might be a bit expensive (like the Ace Specs) because there are not many tradable copies so what you can do is, instead, try opening packs redeeming coins in the shop. Very good expansions to target are for instance Phantom Forces, Ancient Origins, and Dark Explorers.


If you are tired of always playing against the same strategies in the Standard format, Expanded offers you a fresh new opportunity to play Pokémon from a different angle: give it a try and see how you will come back! We will probably be covering some of the strategies in more detail in the following articles. In the meantime, don’t forget to get the Pokemon TCG online codes you need here at Po Town Store. Thanks for reading!

About the writer

Elena has been playing Pokémon TCG for years and leads one of the biggest TCG-dedicated channels in the world. You can find her on Youtube & Twitch (@gaiastormtcg) as well as on other social media channels. Don’t forget to check them out!