Dark Explorers is the last set we will get before Nationals, and undoubtedly will make as big an impact as Next Destinies did for our format and metagame. While Mewtwo EX shined in the spotlight in our latest metagame as the BCIF, the newer Pokémon-EX look set to take over that throne, and it won’t be an easy victory for anyone.
For starters, let’s take a look at the list and break them down:
Of the six, only Tornadus EX is sitting in limbo on whether it will be printed or not; the rest have already been confirmed. For completion’s sake, I’ll add in Tornadus EX into the mix as well, just in case.
Seriously, that is the best description it deserves. Lightning weakness, heavy Retreat Cost and low damage output. It does, however, offer you a chance to snipe for 50 to any two of your opponent’s Pokémon, but that amount is only enough to snipe Tynamos and babies in this format.
The only other thing it has going for it is a hit-and-run strategy à la Magnezone SF 6, but a paltry 30 damage per turn isn’t going to win you matches anytime soon. Ferrothorn EPO does a much better job at this.
This card was slated as THE card to bring The Truth back to life. That didn’t happen, so people have looked to Kyurem EX instead, as it has the same HP and max damage (120). However, by now everyone knows that even the hefty 180 HP can be taken down in one shot by Mewtwo EX, so it looks like Truth decks aren’t making a comeback anytime soon.
BulbapediaThe good news is that Groudon EX is extremely compatible with Quadbulls, so that deck will be getting more firepower, especially with the hyped Raikou-EX in the horizon. Tromp has the same spreading effect as Landorus NVI, albeit at a (much) lower damage output to the Defending Pokémon. Fortunately, Giant Claw makes up for this, even though other Pokémon can easily do 120 without needing two damage counters on the Defending Pokémon.
The Water weakness is excellent in the current format, and the Lightning resistance even better.
The second most hyped Pokémon-EX, this ghost gives a pseudo Balloon Berry effect to any Pokémon as long as it has a D Energy attached to it, similar to Metagross UL, but being a Basic Pokémon means it is much more splashable than the metallic hunk, and when paired with Rainbow/Prism Energy, certainly will live up to its hype.
Its attack isn’t too poor either, doing a reasonable 90 and 30 more to a benched Pokémon. Just when you thought 30 HP Tynamos are safe to play, once again a fast sniper returns to kick it back to the binder. There’s also the fact that, being a Dark type, it can abuse Special D Energy and Dark Claw for even more damage; in fact, Dark Claw gives Darkrai EX the ability to hit the “other” magic number 110 to KO Tornadus EPO and Thundurus EPO.
But the hidden gem in this Pokémon’s use is its ability to pair it with one very underrated card engine now: Musharna NXD. The pseudo-Uxie LV.X never got a chance to shine because of its Retreat Cost, but that looks set to change. A member at my league has been testing out this strategy with some success (Musharna makes a mean secondary attacker with sleep condition).
Apparently no one seems to bother taking a second look at this poor lion, and it’s easy to see why. Choice one is to do 30 plus Burn, while the other does 90 and powers up your benched Pokémon with a discarded R Energy. Not too bad, but not great either.
However, I beg to differ.
Coupled with the new Volcarona (increases Burn damage to 4 damage counters) and counter Stadiums, Entei-EX could very well be the answer Truth decks are looking for. Unlike Kyurem EX who only threatens users of special energy, the boosted Burn condition is a real threat under Item lock, and counter Stadiums provide a more than sufficient answer to Skyarrow Bridge.
And with Grand Flame’s ability to power up a backup Entei-EX by itself, it can safely retreat out of harm’s way, or power up either Reshiram, Regigigas-EX, or Mewtwo EX for bigger oomph. With Water decks looking extremely scarce nowadays, there isn’t much that can threaten the return of the Lion King.
In fact, one deck I am seriously looking at right now is an Entei-EX version of Quadbulls. The one weakness of Terrakion was how it was highly dependant on Exp. Share. Grand Flame offers the perfect solution to this problem, plus you can spam Seeker/Super Scoop Up due to its high HP. Seeker works because you don’t have to rely on Switch to pull it to the bench as the next Entei-EX can charge up your recovered Entei-EX.
Or so I thought.
A second look at the card reveals a serious flaw in the plan. Volt Bolt requires you to discard all lightning energy attached to it. Unlike Zekrom-EX that could be continuously charged by DCE alone, or Raichu Prime who breaks Eelektrik’s attach-to-bench rule, Raikou-EX has no backup plan if the eels fail to evolve, and will fail even harder if Skyarrow Bridge is absent.
The initial solution was simple: attach a non-Lightning energy, preferably Rescue Energy, so you only need to discard two lightning. This way, you can be powered by only one Eelektrik, with the second attachment done manually.
This solution was quickly dismissed for a very simple reason: the solution ASSUMES that you actually have the luxury of attaching that energy down before the Dynamotor. But this forces you to require two Eelektriks on the bench, which was the problem in the first place.
Ultimately though, a pure Raikou-EX deck will never work simply because it suffers from the same problem as Tyram: energy discards. And unlike the beefy Typhlosion Prime, the 90 HP Eelektrik simply cannot defend itself.
It works great in existing Zekeels, make no mistake about this. Just don’t expect it to be the main attacker any time soon.
It brings the ‘T’ in CMT. Sporting the same Retreat Cost as its predecessor, it does a pretty heavy 60 with just a DCE when there’s a stadium in play (30 otherwise), and a heavier 100 with one more energy, with a 50-50 chance of discarding one energy card attached to it. Booyah donking power.
The only weakness it has is that lightning decks are very rampant, and every main lightning attacker (Thundurus needs a PlusPower though) can easily 1HKO the white (or green) genie with ease. Nonetheless, more donking power can’t be bad, right?
Ultra Ball will finally be printed, giving eel-based decks even more speed and consistency. I don’t believe Magnezone Prime will make a comeback with speed decks leading the metagame, but evolution decks have a better engine now, so we should see a higher concentration of them, particularly Zoroark, especially when it has perfect synergy with Dark Patch.
For those who don’t know what it does, Ultra Ball allows you to discard two cards from your hand to fish out any Pokémon card from your deck.
The “other” Pokégear. It allows you to flip the top cards of your deck until you reveal a Supporter. Decks not running Pokémon Collectors now have a better option available to them. You may not have the option of choosing your Supporters anymore, but a guaranteed Supporter allows you to run thinner Supporter lines and more support for your strategy.
Energy acceleration as a Trainer-Item? Oh yes, please.
Even if it’s only limited to Basic D Energy and only to Dark-type Pokémon, with Junk Arm in the format, this will be one card you definitely need a playset of, especially when this year’s format is all about energy acceleration. Combine with Shaymin UL for a more universal accelerator, or just to take even more advantage of Darkrai EX’s ability. This is what allows previously unusable cards like Hydreigon NVI and even Absol Prime to truly shine.
BulbapediaIt’s no Expert Belt, but it’s dangerous in its own right. A permanent double PlusPower for all Dark-types, coupled with the already abusable Special D Energy, and you just know that Dark decks are going to swarm the metagame immediately after the set’s release.
Although Zoroark DEX (just guessing the abbreviation for now) has a lot of potential, our old friend Zoroark BW will get just as much punch as its successor. Foul Play just got even more dangerous, and the bigger attacks available make it even more so. Even Tyranitar Prime gets a new lease of life, now being able to dish out a maximum of 50 to the active for one energy plus spread, although the spreading won’t see much play if Dark decks rule the meta.
I doubt this will make it into the next set though; however, if it does, Skyarrow Bridge is going to get some serious competition. Aerodactyl DEX provides a free PlusPower to everyone, and Twist mountain is what allows the only non-evolving fossil Pokémon to be very playable.
Sorry, but the Japanese name for the card is just really bad. Anyway, for a coin flip, you get to send three cards from your opponent’s hand back into their deck. It’s an exact reprint of The Rocket’s Trap in supporter form, and you have to wonder if TPC is going to reprint the entire hand trap combo.
Back to the review, I can’t say I like this card. Like Bill, this card lost its worth when it devolved into supporter form. You can try it for the novelty, but there are better cards out there if disruption is your thing.
A reprint of Lost Remover, except it sends the energy to the discard pile [and can only discard from the active]. Not that it makes a difference, unless you’re playing Steelix Prime or Bisharp NVI 82.
IT’S MADE OF GOLD!
BulbapediaForget Cincinno BLW or Jumpluff HS, Zoroark is now the king of swarm. For a single DCE, it can dish out up to 120 just by filling your bench with nothing but Dark Pokémon, and with Special D Energy and Dark Claw, that number shoots up to 150.
It’s no Nidoqueen d, but has the same ability to fish out any Pokémon card from your deck once per turn. Will this be the return of evolution-based decks? I highly doubt it.
Apart from being a Stage 2, Venusaur also sports a heavy four Retreat Cost and an equally heavy attack cost that does a paltry 70 plus Poison. You could try Celebi Prime as an accelerator, but Meganium Prime works better with that combo, and can abuse Max Potion as well.
I guess most people missed this card when reading the spoilers. It has the same base stats as Accelgor NVI, and for a DCE, attacks for 50 plus auto Poison AND Paralysis, but at the cost of sending itself and everything attached to it to the deck. And generally, that secondary effect seems to be the nail on the coffin.
Then I remembered Sunflora HS.
Like Vanilluxe NVI and Lilligant EPO, Accelgor could very well make it to the top tiers with the right build, especially since it doesn’t require any flips to set the lock. Celebi Prime can take care of the energy attachments, and Vileplume takes care of the Switches. The only real problem the deck has is Raikou-EX, which gives up 2 Prizes anyhow, and a second Vileplume can easily be set up.
BulbapediaDurant haters, rejoice, for now there is a card splashable in any deck to finally send the ants to the grave… not.
I may be biased toward this card because I’m a Durant player myself (don’t hate me), but the reason Durant is such a good deck is because it has so much room for techs to deal with the ever-changing metagame. So just like how it has been able to remain on top despite the new decks, a single tech isn’t going to help your deck get an auto-win on Durant. There’s also the problem of starting with it against non-Durant players, or Heatmor itself being milled before it can unleash havoc.
However, the fact remains that this is THE best counter to Durant ever printed, and if your meta is still very infested with these pests, you’d be wise to tech in a copy in your deck.
The dream of every Jumpluff player was for Claydol GE to be reprinted. With Empoleon, you are getting the raw power of Jumpluff and the draw power of Claydol all rolled into one (and sadly, Claydol’s Retreat Cost too).
You can even go aggro with the draw with a 2-2 Musharna line, and even throw in Battle City for toppings. Switch allows you to ignore the Retreat Costs, or you could tech in Darkrai EX and 4 Rainbow Energy.
Unfortunately, it’s not all candy sweet for this card. The lightning weakness is only too glaring, and like Jumpluff, suffers from the nerfing of Rare Candy. Also, because the Ability is on Empoleon itself, you can’t use your engine until Empoleon is out, and you lose your engine the moment you lose Empoleon.
Plusle is like Cleffa on steroids. If Minun is on the bench, you refresh your hand for EIGHT cards instead of six. That’s a lot of cards. However, it is also true that you are taking up two bench spaces just for this, so Plusle may turn out to be nothing more than a sideshow than a show stopper.
BulbapediaKrookodile is like the evil twin of Shaymin EX. Where the latter punishes the opponent for being ahead, Krookodile rewards the user for being ahead, doing 40 per prize taken. 4 Prizes and Darkness Claw are all you need to 1HKO any non-Eviolited Pokémon-EX in the format. Its attack cost can be made negligible due to Dark Patch. The only flaw it has is that it is a Stage 2, and therefore slow to set up.
Free PlusPower. Doesn’t get any better than that. However, do take note that because it has the exact same effect as PlusPower, recoil damage may also be increased by 10. Like Twist Mountain, I highly doubt it will be released, but I included it just in case.
New Decks, New Meta
Obviously everyone wants to know how this new set affects the meta. Now I haven’t tested much with the new cards, so I can’t exactly say for sure, especially since we still don’t know what cards are in and what aren’t.
What I do know, however, is that Dark decks will be everywhere during Battle Roads. In fact, I expect upwards of 30% of the decks you will encounter to be based on Dark Pokémon. Namely Darkrai EX and Zoroark (both).
Raikou-EX will definitely see some play. Just as how Zekrom-EX helps to put some pressure with big damage, Raikou-EX puts pressure by threatening KOs on every Eelektrik and Zoroark on the field. It won’t be a deck by its own, but it’s a perfect tech.
Durant haters will definitely try out the new Heatmor, and maybe they will see some success. Knowing Durant though, it will probably have some tricks to deal with it.
pokemon-paradijs.comIn my own humble opinion, however, Darkrai EX is the one that will cause the death of Durant. It has everything built into its own deck that counters everything Durant throws at it. Dark Cloak negates Pokémon Catcher and Cobalion, Dark Patch negates removals, and Dark Claw, or just a single Special D Energy, breaks the 100 barrier. And it has Psychic resistance to deal with those pesky Mewtwo EX tech, too. Not to mention that Rotom UL needs to hit it three times to deal a KO.
Celebi/Mewtwo will get a huge boost if Tornadus EX is released, but Dark.dec will give a run for its money. Black Belt allows Zoroark to easily reach the 170-190 mark, negating even Eviolite, and all Dark Pokémon already have Psychic resistance. I for one wouldn’t want to face a Darkrai EX with Eviolite on it.
QuadBulls, however, will be dancing for joy. It is already gaining popularity as an anti-Lightning meta breaker, and Dark Pokémon having the same weakness will only boost its popularity. And Terrakion NVI undoubtedly has better recovery than Zoroark, being a Basic Pokémon.
Thinking about QuadBulls go me thinking about a relatively underused tech: Stunfisk NVI 68. It is easily teched into any standard Zekeel, has the ability to Paralyze, and best of all, can 1HKO either Zoroarks, and with Black Belt, even Darkrai EX. If my prediction on Dark.dec proves true, then I expect my prediction that Stunfisk will be heavily played will be equally true.
And with that, let’s get to the decklists.
Pokémon – 9
4 Zorua DEX
Trainers – 24
Energy – 11
6 D – Basic
2 Darkness – Special
This is as barebones as it gets. Between the Junk Arms and Ultra Balls, I’d say the chances are high of you being able to discard Basic Dark energy very early in the game. Dark Patch is the reason why DCE and Special D Energy are not maxed out; your energy accelerator can only use Basic Dark energy. Revive is in there because, like Jumpluff, you need a full bench to max out your damage, and Revive does this better than any other card.
Now let’s look at what else can be included.
BulbapediaThese cards are here for one and only one reason: bench fillers. With Zoroark as your only evolution card, I’d personally recommend a MINIMUM of twelve basics in this deck.
Also, Absol Prime functions as an excellent starter, being able to instantly reduce any of your opponent’s Pokémon’s HP by 20. If your opponent is foolish enough to drop a Mewtwo EX, then congratulations, you just got two free prizes. As stated earlier, Zoroark can hit up to 150 with Dark Patch and Special D Energy.
One trick Sableye DEX can do is to recover two Item cards from your discard pile. This is especially useful in recovering any of the Dark tools or Pokémon Catcher in the absence of Junk Arm. Granted, the number of times you will use him won’t be high, but it’s always good to know your options.
I personally don’t recommend this if you are using the Dark Patch engine. However, it does allow you to instantly recover Zoroarks and Darkrai EXs.
Lost Remover/Crash Hammer
Both do the same thing. With all the special energies running around, now is as good a time as ever to include them in your decks. Excellent against the mirror.
Hydreigon NVI/Krookodile DEX
pokemon-paradijs.comWhile Darkrai EX is a formidable attacker in its own right, sometimes it’s good to have other options available. And at 150 HP, they’re no lightweights ether.
Hydreigon NVI, if you don’t already know, hits 60 to the active and 40 each to TWO benched Pokémon (babies and Tynamos instantly come to mind). But the best thing about Hydreigon is that is can be powered up by literally any energy at all, including Rescue Energy. DCE was slow, but Dark patch may change things yet.
Krookodile DEX is reviewed above, so I won’t go into detail. It is, in my opinion, a perfect partner to Zoroark. While the latter hits hard and fast, Krookodile hits harder and lasts longer.
Remember that deck idea I was suggesting with Entei-EX? This is my rough draft:
Pokémon – 4
Trainers – 44
Energy – 12
Mark A. HicksThe idea is simple. SSUs and Seekers keep the KOs at bay while I pile on the damage. Exp. Share is excluded because you’re not supposed to get KO’d in the first place, and Energy Switch handles that job just fine. Past that, the deck functions the same way as QuadBulls.
The full list of Dark Explorers may probably be out by the time this is posted, so I apologise if some sentences above don’t make sense. That said, I hope this article may prove useful to your game.
Thanks for reading!