I Came, I Saw, I DONK’ered: A SableDonk Report from Janesville, WI Battle Roads

Facing the camera at the first table, from left to right: Jordan, Mike, and Toby.

At first I though I wasn’t going to be able to go to Battle Roads; I had a prior obligation for the first weekend, and for the second I was spending a week in the hospital. I double checked though and discovered that there was a relatively local one for the next weekend, and decided to give it a shot.

It took me a while to figure out what I was going to run, as there were so many options available to me: Luxchomp, Gyarados, or some HGSS-on format deck to test. Well, I decided that (especially after all of the other reports came back) Luxchomp and Gyarados just wouldn’t be fun to play if everyone were also playing it.

pokebeach.comI could revert back to my surprisingly good LostGar deck, but I wasn’t sure how it could hold up with the added speed of so many decks. Running an HGSS-on deck for testing was out of the question, since how can you test something against decks it will never see next season? No, instead I opted for the controversial choice: SableDonk.

SableDonk is a really challenging deck to play: it’s quite often that you don’t get a Sableye in your starting hand, and it’s also quite often that you don’t go first (or god forbid, you get an Uxie or Unown R start). The average player will probably go 50% or less with SableDonk, because even though it can be exceedingly simple sometimes (you get a Sableye and Special Dark in your opening hand and your opponent starts ‘Karp), it can be a pain to work out those donks in time.

Remember, this is an all-or-nothing Kamikaze deck, there is rarely a turn 2, and almost never a turn 3. What really makes Sableye harder to play well (albeit probably not as challenging as Dialgachomp) is the fact that the stakes are so high on turn 1 and you essentially have to be able to pull off the most elaborate Rube Goldberg-esque machinations to get the most simple, yet fatal results.

So yes, I played SableDonk. One part of it was protest against the format. Another part was the reality that other players, if they weren’t playing SableDonk itself, would be teching in Special Darks and Sableyes anyway (which they did). I simply decided that I would do the same, but get better at donking. I don’t want to water down my Luxchomp or my SableDonk by combining elements, I figured I was better off committing to one or the other.

Pokémon – 15

4 Sableye
4 Unown R
3 Crobat G
3 Uxie
1 Unown Q

Trainers – 43

4 Dual Ball
4 Super Scoop Up
4 Poké Turn
4 Poké Blower
4 Poké Drawer +
4 Pokédex Handy 910is
4 Junk Arm
3 Dusk Ball
3 Research Record
3 Pokémon Rescue
2 Expert Belt
2 Seeker
1 Luxury Ball
1 Alph Lithograph (Four)

Energy – 2

2 Special D

I made some last-minute changes to the deck, most importantly adding Unown Q and dropping a Crobat G, and switching out 3 Quick Ball for three Research Record. Other than that, this is a pretty standard list from what I know, although I didn’t have the Victory Medals to put in here, which might have helped a lot, but were really inconsequential in the end.

Now I know other players were talking about throwing Regice in and Pokémon Collector, etc. to be able to combat Spiritomb AR. I decided this was a bad idea for the same reason I didn’t split SableDonk with any other dech types: Don’t Water Down A Good Formula.

To be able to tech against Spiritomb would require removing a lot of cards and tossing in several that aren’t trashable. What I mean by that is you can’t get them out of your hand easily unless you can Junk Arm them.

If I need to drop an Uxie but have four cards in my hand I can easily get it down to one or nothing with a lot of trainers; I can Dusk Ball and pretend I didn’t see any Pokémon in the bottom seven, I can Research Record to get a better topdeck, I can belt a Pokémon I’ll never use, heck I even Q’ed an Uxie on my bench once to get it out of my hand. Can’t really do that with Collector or Regice.

One of the coolest decks there had to be “Volcano Bakemeat,” a deck named after a hilarious video of a Vietnamese translation of Pokémon Crystal. The deck and name were made by Troy Lesky, a tournament organizer with a well deserved day off, and whose son I would face in Round 1-of swiss.

The deck basically (pun intended) consisted of 32 basics, including 4 copies of Sableye, Palkia, Dialga, Reshiram, Zekrom, and other high HP basics. Troy didn’t want to beat Sabledonk, he wanted to punch it in the face and drag it out to a slow and embarassing death. Fortunately, I did not have to play Troy, making my day that much better.

A adept arranging for mother…Volcano Bakemeat.

However, I did have to play several very good players who I would also see later in Top Cut, so my day was not exactly easy from the start. Unsure of how I would fare, I got ready to face my first opponent:

ROUND 1: Mike Lesky (Luxchomp)

I was actually kind of terrified of this matchup, since he had already won a couple Battle Roads already and looked confident in getting his third. We greeted each other and got started. I opened with an Uxie start to his Garchomp C.

Already I was a little worried but figured I could get it on the flip, but my usual luck at guessing odds versus evens showed itself and lended the first turn to Mike. He played a Sableye on the bench and retreated Garchomp with a darkness energy, promoting Sableye and Impersonating a Collector for an Unown Qand two other Pokémon (I think one was Luxray GL).

pokebeach.comLuckily, I was able to draw into a Sableye, and having two Poké Drawer’s in my hand I searched for Unown Q and Seeker. I attached the Q to Uxie, retreated for Sableye, Seeker’d the Uxie, and played out my hand for an Uxie Drop, using Research Record to help set up a good top deck.

I drew into a Crobat G and Darkness energy, Flash Bite and Overconfident for the KO on his Sableye. Afterward, Mike was informed he’d have a bye for the next round, which we all thought would keep him out of top cut completely. We were wrong!


ROUND 2: Jordan Van Heesch (Gyarados)

Jordan was running the one deck I was afraid of (seeing as there were no Spiritomb to be found): Gyarados. My fears came true when we both opened Sableye, myself with a Crobat benched (to protect against the Donk) and Jordan with a ‘Karp.

Luckily, I won the flip this time, and opened a maelstrom of Dual Balls, Poké Turns, and Poké Blowers with the help of Junk Arm. I Flash Bite his Sableye first, then unloaded on the Magikarp for the first KO. Then, with the Uxie I had grabbed with Dual Ball, I Set Up, drawing into D Energy and Overconfident for the game.


ROUND 3: Toby Nelson (Luxchomp)

Not one easy play for me today, huh? Yeah, I was up against another Luxchomp, but this time I actually started Sableye and got to go first without a flip! He opened a lone Garchomp C. I Research Record to set Poké Turn and Crobat at the top and Poké Drawer into the ‘Bat, Flash Bite, Poké Turn from my hand for Flash Bite, Pokédex for the top decked Turn, Flash Bite, and attach a Special Dark to Overconfident for the Win. At this point I was quickly becoming Public Enemy # 1.


ROUND 4: Justin Hynes (Magnezone/Lanturn/Pachi)

pokebeach.comThis was one of the weirdest decks I saw all day, but not as weird as Volcano Bakemeat. Still, Justin and I were the only 3-0 players, and we pretty much knew that both of us were going to Top Cut. So, we spent a lot of time joking around, not taking it too seriously until it was time to play.

I opened a Crobat active and an Unown R benched to his lone Chinchou, and naturally lost the flip though I wasn’t too concerned at this point due to the nature of his deck needing to evolve to really do damage. He pulls off a Professor Elm/Pokémon Communication combo and Pachirisu drops on the bench with two energy, but never gets to retreat and runs out of draw options quickly, leaving an un-energized Chinchou open to pass.

I Research Record (dang this card was a good idea to put in last minute!) to top Sableye, Retire my Unown R to draw him, free retreat the Crobat G, strap an Expert Belt on him, and Pokédex into D Energy. I Uxie drop into a Seeker, picking up the Crobat for a Flash Bite and making him pick up the Pachi, and I Overconfident for the win.


I wait around and watch Toby and Jordan go on in what was to be a crushingly close competition for the final seed in Top Cut. Jordan’s Gyarados ended up taking the fourth seed, and I was to play him first in the Top Cut. Actually, all of the people I had played before (except Toby) had made it to Top Cut!

I was feeling pretty confident, turned my deck in for the deck checks, and after Jordan grabbed some emergency sleeves (his were likely wounded in the fierce battle the round prior) we got started.

ROUND 1, Game 1/Game 2: Jordan Van Heesh (Gyarados)

pokebeach.comUnfortunately, I didn’t shuffle well enough after deck checks, as I was probably a little overconfident from my undefeated Swiss rounds. Jordan opened Sableye both times, I opened a lone Uxie first, and a lone Unown Q of all things second.

In the end, he was able to donk me both times before I could get a turn, something I was concerned with about Gyarados in the first place. I suppose it was cosmic justice though, since I had donked everyone else in Swiss. Jordan ended up taking first too after some crazy coin flips (something like 5 or more heads in a row on some Scoops) and a donk on Mike Lesky, whose skill and determination brought him to second place, even with the odds stacked against him in the first couple rounds.

Overall, I took third place, and while I wish I would have had better starts in Top Cut, I can’t really be upset, since the whole thing was a Donkfest anyway! Great Format!

I ended up getting a couple packs for prizes, and got another one from a game where we guess how many dice are in a jar. I guessed 137 and there just happened to be 138! I opened the packs but there was nothing special really so I gave the winnings to a newer player who had just learned how to play that day, and went home happy.


  • Mike for coming back from an historically terrible start.
  • The new player for getting into the game and playing his first tournament.
  • The organizers and their great side events that make sure almost everyone gets something.
  • Volcano Bakemeat and Troy’s hilarious creativity.
  • TPCi for doing a mid-season rotation. This is just a bad format.


  • I don’t really do slops. Too sloppy.

Reader Interactions

7 replies

  1. Anthony Smith

    Volcano Bakemeat sounds like the most amazing deck ever. Serious contender for top spot next to Sea Blaster.

    SableDonk getting donked is poetic justice. At cities I managed to donk an Uxie Donk with Mewperior of all things. All’s well that ends well I suppose, onward with HS-on.Not teching against spiritomb was a good thing in your case I see. BL on getting owned by the Deck Check.

  2. David Griggs

    Nice article and good job on top cut.

    I do disagree with the idea that Sabledonk is difficult to play though. It’s one, sometimes two turns of play and you’re done. Even the most strenuous 2 turns of playing Pokemon are really not that bad. You didn’t have to play around extremely high basics, you didn’t have to play around 3 or 4 basics on turn 1. You didn’t have to play around Spiritomb. Don’t get me wrong, I like that you did well and I like the report overall and hope you do more in the future. Just don’t kid yourself, Sabledonk is very flippy and you have lots of options, but they all are intended to do one of two things. Draw more cards or deal damage.

  3. Cody Banker

    I see myself in the back of the photo… Cyndaquil Hat!

  4. Poet Larsen

    I really don’t think sabledonk is hard to play. You have two objectives with sabledonk, burn through your deck in any way possible to get as many cards as you can and kill all your opponents pokemon in the process.  It’s as simple as that.

    • Cody Banker  → Poet

      Exactly, I tried to play it but it wasn’t any fun to play because I ended up doing the same thing every game… So I smartened up and began pre-testing for HGSS- On because we ALL knew it was going to happen and I used a HGSS deck on my last two battle roads and ended up 8th @ Rockford and 2nd @ Janesville.

  5. Karol Nowak

    Hey there! Congrats on getting the 1st Seed in Swiss, Top Cutting, and then taking Third! Also, good report!  It was quite a good read.  

    I hope to see you at Nats! 

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