Format Faceoff: Standard Vs Expanded

Format Faceoff: Standard Vs Expanded

If you have ever been to a Pokemon league, you've probably heard of Standard, Expanded, and Unlimited. Sanctioned tournaments usually use either Standard format or Expanded. What are the differences, and what are the advantages to each format? Each player tends to gravitate towards one or the other, and it's great that we have the option to choose where we play.

Expanded ( sets Black and White to Sun and Moon)


  •  huge set of cards to work with, the sky is the limit with deck potential
  •  It can be less costly to get decent cards from earlier sets out of Standard Rotation


  •  It’s very difficult to understand the Meta, as certain decks will do good at one tournament and flop the next
  •  Item lock, evolution lock, are very prominent in Expanded
  •  Seismitoad EX’s attack stops your opponent from using item cards during their next turn. Exeggutor’s attack stops your opponent from using supporters during their next turn, while Archeops stops both players from evolving their Pokemon.

Standard ( sets Primal Clash to Sun and Moon)


  •  no night March, one of the most influential decks in recent memory, you either played it or hated it.
  •  It’s easier to get the newer sets than to backtrack and hunt down old cards. Boxes of newer sets stay at the same price point for about 2 years.


  • The set limitations hurt certain decks more than others, metal and fire decks took a major hit with the loss of cards. Rotations make some of your cards unplayable in Standard and you have to adapt to the new set list.
  •  Creativity seems lost, you don’t see a variety of decks winning major tournaments. Most top decks stay at the top and usually don’t falter, such as Mega Mewtwo, Mega Rayquaza, and Darkrai.


In Expanded tournaments all cards from Black and White to Sun and Moon are legal, so if you happen to a have a Standard deck, it would be legal to play. The same cannot be said if you have an Expanded deck and go to a Standard tournament. The cards that are not legal would have to be replaced with legal cards.

Reprints and Remakes

I think the limitations of Standard hurt a newer player’s understanding that all cards are not legal, and which ones have been reprinted. As I teach new players, I try to explain that certain cards such as EXP Share, have been reprinted multiple times and all cards with the same text are legal.

As you can see all cards have the same text, and all cards will be legal in standard for a long time, as it was just reprinted in the latest set.

Eevee from Furious Fists and Eevee from Sun and Moon are not the same card and Eevee (Furious Fists) cannot be used in the same manner. They both have different HP, different attacks, and different retreat costs.

Even though the learning curve is higher, I feel with the Legendary Bird pre-constructed decks and the Keldeo/ Rayquaza deck, you have the ability to start with better cards than standard. With Standard, the only pre-constructed decks you can start with are the Theme decks for each set. Competitive wise, you don’t stand a prayer with a theme deck, there are usually no heavy hitters, no energy acceleration and you are only getting 3-4 decent cards out the deck. With the Pre-Constructed decks from Expanded, you are getting multiple EX’s, and trainer cards that are valuable and playable in countless decks, some in Standard, all in Expanded. As a veteran player, I like playing both formats but feel less constricted in deck building working on Expanded decks. I don’t put too much emphasis on what’s popular, and go with a fun deck(I usually play item lock).

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