Hey there SixPrizes!
Honestly, the card deserves its own mini-article, so I was inspired to write that up here.
What does Energy Switch do?
On Turn 1
Energy Switch can help you retreat an undesirable starter to a desirable one (e.g. Sableye) without having to get a second Energy attached that turn. Without Energy Switch, the only way to retreat and use Junk Hunt on the first turn would be to discard an Energy for Sableye, attach to the Active, and Dark Patch to Sableye. Not too hard, but not a good probability either.
On Turn 2
Energy Switch is a way to fire off a quick attack. With Energy Switch, over the first two turns you only need to Dark Patch once to get a turn two Night Spear. And what’s more, you can use Sableye on the first turn, grab back Energy Switch (and perhaps a Dark Patch you may have discarded), and set yourself up for a guaranteed turn 2 attack.
Past Turn 2
Energy Switch is a versatility card. By including Energy Switch in the deck, you can diversify your attachments, so that your opponent cannot remove all your Energy on-board in one attack. This is also quite useful for a card like Keldeo EX to have access to. If your opponent has used 3-4 Hypnotoxic Lasers/Catchers then you can feel very comfortable Energy Switching the Dark attached to Keldeo to one of your attackers. This gives you access to Rush In in the early game, and maintains pressure in the late game.
Specifically, Energy Switch is great in combination with Max Potion. There is no more fearsome a turn in Darkrai than when you double Energy Switch to a new Darkrai, and Max Potion the damaged one. Your opponent’s turn has been effectively negated, and you are no worse off in terms of pressure. However, just the Energy Switch alone is already worthwhile, as it retains Energy on board, rather than giving it up along with 2 Prizes.
So, with such a magical card, is there really any debate as to whether or not it should be included in the deck? Well… yes actually!
Alternatives to Energy Switch
Back in Cities, I was playing around with many variants of Darkrai. One of them was a Hammertime list that ran 0 Energy Switch, and focused on healing instead. The idea behind the list was that you could heal Darkrai with a Potion, and your opponent would have to 3HKO it anyways. Effectively the same job as Energy Switch, but more concise. It was also very useful against Hammerhead snipe. That prospect is now dead due to Hypnotoxic Laser.
Additionally, the original philosophy of Hammertime was not to blitz through your opponent and keep them dead. Rather, the idea was that if you could slow them down to your pace, it didn’t matter how fast you were. The primary goal was to make sure you set up first. Thus, that quick turn 1-2 pressure that Energy Switch provides is powerful, but redundant. By no means is Energy Switch a necessity to accomplishing this strategy.
Personally, I see the two (Energy Switch and Hammers) as directly competing for space. Both cards seek to accomplish the same goal; you want to set up before your opponent. But they have entirely different ways of going about it. It’s not like I’m advocating dropping all Energy Switches and replacing them with Hammers. But…
I’d be very surprised if you had a Darkrai list running 4 Energy Switch and 4 Hammers.
Now, this discussion wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t relate this to the modern metagame. Obviously we are not in BLW-BCR format anymore, so is there really a debate regarding how useful Energy Switch is nowadays? Are decks just so fast that the minor disruption Crushing Hammers provide is too little?
Well… why not start by tiering the decks? What matchups does Darkrai have to contend with, and how important is Energy Switch to each of them. These decks are not placed in any particular order.
- Gothitelle/Accelgor/Dusknoir (aka “Magic Hands”)
- Garbodor/Cobalion EX/Landorus EX
- Big Basics (Landorus EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX DEX/Cobalion EX)
So, now that the decks are organized, let’s start with the most important matchups in Tier 1, to see which card reigns supreme as an inclusion in the deck.
Against Blastoise, your best hope is to start quick and keep Squirtles from evolving. This is definitely best accomplished by Energy Switch.
Either Hammers or Energy Switch suffice to accomplish your goal of setting up first in this matchup. I would say that Energy Switch is more reliable, definitely. But if you go second, more often than not Hammers will be the card that can bail out your game, not Energy Switch. Though depending on the list, Energy Switch + Max Potion may be equally devastating. It’s a bit of a toss up really. I know what my preference would be, but I think that’s just personal bias.
This one is tough to call. I don’t think Energy Switch is really enough to give you a faster start than Plasma on average. Energy Switch mostly just helps you “keep up” with Plasma, provided everything is going as planned. However, rarely does a game go according to plan. Hammers can bail you out big time in this matchup. Especially if you were to go heavy (2+) on the Enhanced Hammers. So I might have to tip my hat to the Hammers on this one.
Tier 1 Summary
There’s a pretty even split regarding usefulness for Energy Switch vs. Hammers amongst your Tier 1 matchups. Now, obviously Energy Switch is never truly useless, while Hammers can feel that way sometimes. But I would argue that Hammers are never truly useless either.
Even against Blastoise, Hammers can prevent what was going to be a OHKO and turn it into a 2HKO. Hammers can prevent a potential quicker start by ensuring that they don’t quite have the tools to recover enough Energy to attack. Especially with lists getting greedy and using high counts of Superior Energy Retrieval, discarding the one Lightning attached to Black Kyurem EX PLS can really strain their resources if they have to fish it out of the discard early.
So overall, I’d give it an approximate tie for usefulness against Tier 1. Whatever matchup you feel is the most worrisome, that is what I would build your list around.
Energy Switch is slightly more useful here. Only because it lets you get an attack off earlier. Quick pressure is definitely the best way to beat Gothitelle. But both cards are pretty useless past turn 3 (sometimes as soon as turn 2). So though Energy Switch is superior in this matchup, it doesn’t earn it many points.
I don’t think there’s any question about which card is more useful in this matchup. Hammers win hands down. Energy Switch is hardly necessary when the only Pokémon you want to attack with only takes 2 Energies to attack. Hammers can help prevent Absol from being KO’d quickly by Righteous Edge as well. As I said, hands-down Hammers wins this bout.
Honestly, I feel like Hammers are more useful here as well. Garbodor has this annoying Ability, perhaps you’ve heard of it? Garbotoxin makes it so that even if you have a quick start with Darkrai, they can just Catcher-stall you as soon as Garbodor is up. Very rarely Energy Switch will be the difference in maintaining the pressure. For the most part, you just don’t have enough Energy in play to deal with their annoyance. Hammers once again, hands down. Although the most powerful tool is smart play and wise benching in this matchup, Hammers can bail you out.
This one is another toss-up. I think both cards are useful, especially with the whole “Energy Switch + Max Potion” combo. I’d say it’s definitely a tie. Neither is really more effective than the other. On top of that, if Big Basics is cheating and using Blend Energies to fulfill Cobalion’s cost (as a tech against Plasma), then Enhanced Hammer is a nice plus to have. It will put in major work against their DCE’s, and their Blends.
Tier 2-3 Summary
I think that’s a resounding victory for Hammers in Tiers 2-3. If you’re primarily concerned about the top tier of the metagame, then it’s really your call. But I would definitely cut some Energy Switches if it meant I could fit Hammers in right now.
So, that was short and concise. Just an interesting review. Again, by no means am I advocating dropping your Energy Switches and replacing them all with Hammers. But as a cost-benefit analysis, it may be worthwhile to cut a couple E Switch if it means finding room for everything else you need.
I outlined the strengths of Energy Switch at the beginning of the article. It is definitely a very strong, very good card in the deck. But essential? Not at all. I’d call it a staple, but it’s the first cards I consider cutting back on if I want to find room for techs.