Hello SixPrizes UG! It’s May already and I really can’t believe how fast spring has gone by; it’s almost summer! The irony of this is that when I look out from the window, the streets and trees are covered with snow. It’s good to know that even though I live in Finland, this isn’t the usual scenario in late April/early May. Also, for those who didn’t know – no, we don’t have polar bears.
The summer may seem a faraway dream to me, but the new set – Dark Explorers – doesn’t. There are some things that global warming (or in this case, global cooling) doesn’t stop. Battle Roads are on their way, and so are Nationals all over the world. My Nationals will be held in late May, and since I’m very busy with my life at the moment, I’ll probably be able to give you only one article this month.
Since this will probably be my only article of May, I decided to go all-in with this. I’ve tested the HGSS-Dark Explorers format for a month now and, in this article, I’ll reveal every single deck I’ve been testing and playing around in the past month. The article will be very different from my other articles since its focus will be more on lists than in-depth analysis of certain decks.
It also differs greatly from the previous UG articles that have analyzed cards instead of real deck lists. I hope this article will give you what you need to start your journey in the new format since all the following lists have been formed after weeks of playtesting. I’ve done a few quite in-depth articles in the past few months, and I haven’t gotten a lot of comments/critiques about them, so that’s one of the reasons as to why I am trying a different kind of article once again – I don’t know what you guys want to read!
The decks I discuss in this article are divided in 4 categories:
- New Wave
- Old School Renewed
- The Experimental
- The Excluded
In New Wave, I’ll discuss decks that are the most obvious to become metagame decks. They have either done well in Japan or are already discussed publicly in the Western Pokémon TCG community. Old School Renewed will cover the current Tier 1 decks with updated Dark Explorers versions.
In The Experimental, I’ll reveal interesting rogue ideas that I came up while playtesting. The Excluded decks are decks which will still make an appearance in the current format, but I won’t show lists of them for different reasons. I’ll just discuss them generally.
Anyways, I think that’s enough of chit-chat and it’s time for the real content – the decks.
- New Wave
- Old School Renewed
- The Experimental
- The Excluded
New Wave includes 3 decks that I predict will become metagame decks. These three decks are: Empoleon/Terrakion, Zoroark/Weavile, and Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX.
Let’s take a look at the first one – Zoroark/Weavile.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
I want to start this with probably the most discussed deck of the next format – Zoroark/Weavile. The deck’s main strategy is pretty simple – get a T2 Zoroark with or without Ascension and start Brutal Rushing for 120-150 damage. The deck is fast and consistent.
I’ve been playing it with both the Collector engine and Ball engine, and I noticed that Collector engine works better with the deck’s strategy. The most important thing for this deck is to get your bench full of Pokémon as soon as possible. The Ball engine is good, but it needs more cards to fill the bench, while the Collector engine needs only 2-3 cards to get the full bench.
I think Dakota discussed this deck already in his last article, and I’m pretty sure many of you have at least theorymoned about the deck list of this deck, so here are a few key points, which I have found to be highly important when it comes to building this deck.
1. Weavile UD
Even though Zoroark is the main attacker of the deck, this deck would be nothing without Weavile. There are two things in Weavile that make it irreplaceable for this deck: the free retreat of Sneasel and the Power of Weavile. The free retreat on Sneasel is very important for this deck for two reasons.
First of all, the best way to get Zoroark in this deck is through Ascension. Practically every Pokémon in this deck has a free retreat so that you can get T1 Ascension as often as humanly possible. Even though Darkrai only has free retreat when it has energy attached to it, you can still use Dark Patch to attach the 2nd energy of the turn to Zorua and get a T1 Ascension, even if you open with Darkrai EX. The T1 Ascension is very important for this deck, and the whole skeleton of the deck should be built to support it.
Second, free retreat is very important when it comes to Dark Patch. Dark Patch can only attach energy to the benched Pokémon, so free retreating non-attackers are very crucial if you want to keep up with your opponent in a prize race.
Then, there is Weavile’s Poké-Power – Claw Snag. Weavile has been played as long as it has been in the format, but rarely with good results. It’s always surprising, but it’s very difficult to use correctly. Claw Snag lets you look at your opponent’s hand and discard a card from there.
In most decks, Weavile would be a waste of space because its attack is only mediocre, but in this deck it’s just what Zoroark wants with it – a free retreating Darkness Pokémon with a disrupting Poké-Power and with an attack that’s capable of hitting to the bench.
A perfectly timed Claw Snag can turn the game around at any point. If you’re able to get rid of your opponent’s only Supporter or the last game-winning card (like Catcher or Junk Arm), you can single-handedly win the game with one Poké-Power!
Weavile is a very dangerous card for your opponent because it’s highly disruptive, and whenever you’re facing a Weavile deck, you must be very careful with your resources.
2. Zoroark BLW
Pokemon ParadijsAs you can see, I haven’t included Foul Play Zoroark in the list. The problem with the BLW Zoroark is that you don’t want to Ascension into it. If you Ascension, you 99.9% of the time want to evolve it to Dark Rush Zoroark. Also, when 1 of your Dark Rush Zoroarks is prized and one other one gets killed, all you have left is one Dark Rush Zoroark. Prizes can screw you over too easily if you run BLW Zoroark since it’s rarely better than Dark Rush Zoroark.
If the deck had more Pokémon searching cards like Ultra Ball or Pokémon Communication, BLW Zoroark would do, but with this list it isn’t worth it. Zoroark BLW can be good in some theorymonical scenarios but, the more you play this deck, the more obvious it becomes that it’s dead weight in the deck.
The scenario where I see Zoroark BLW to be a better choice is against Zekrom EX. With Dark Claw and Special Darkness attached, you could OHKO Zekrom EX. The problem with this scenario is that Zekrom EX is bad against Zoroark/Weavile in the first place.
It does the same as Tornadus EX or Raikou EX, but it needs a lot more energy. Not to mention its horrible retreat cost and 2 energy discarding attack cost. If your opponent is forced to use Zekrom EX against you, you don’t need Zoroark BLW to win the game; he/she is probably already in big trouble.
3. Amount of Basics
This is one of the most important things in this deck. However, it’s at the same time one of the most difficult issues in this deck. I don’t think this deck needs Darkrai EX because it’s so difficult to get attacking with this deck.
The problem is that you can’t run this deck with only 8 Darkness Basics; you need more. It would decrease the fire-power of Zoroark drastically in the early game since you wouldn’t be able to get Basics any other way than by searching them. This deck needs full bench from T3 onwards and the deck must be built with that goal in mind.
I’ve researched through all the Darkness Basic Pokémon of the format and I really think Darkrai EX is the best option for that. It’s a high HP Pokémon with possible free retreat and it also gives your Zoroarks a free retreat. Sometimes its attack may even come in handy.
There are a lot of other possibilities for this deck when it comes to the Darkness Basic Pokémon: Absol Prime, Sableye DEX, or even Vullaby DEX, and even though they all have their pros and cons, none can match Darkrai EX.
4. Ball Engine vs. Collector Engine
Pokemon ParadijsSome of the decks in this article are built with the Ball engine, but, as I mentioned, this deck’s core strategy doesn’t support a Ball engine. It’s a matter of pure consistency, and it’s something I’m not willing to sacrifice with this or any other deck. A Collector engine is the way to go here.
Just like SP-Pokémon, Darkness Pokémon wouldn’t be so good without their supporting Trainers. Dark Patch alone would be enough to make Darkness Pokémon competitive because it’s their very own energy accelerator. Thanks to Dark Patch, any Darkness deck has a built in Dynamotor in their Trainer engine.
The deck also has a lot of discarding cards so you can get your Basic Darkness Energy to the discard pile: Junk Arm, Juniper and Ultra Ball. Without Dark Patch, this deck would be Tier 3, but thanks to Dark Patch it’s very close to getting the Tier 1 placement.
Dark Claw is a double PlusPower Tool for Darkness Pokémon. Two PlusPowers in one card? I’ll take it. Thanks to Darkness Claw and Special Darkness Energy, the deck’s firepower is very high. High Darkness Claw count is very important for this deck because early Sneasel with Dark Claw and Special Darkness can make great havoc to your opponent’s Pokémon.
If you’re able to start the game against Eelektrik variants and get T1 Special Darkness and Darkness Claw to Sneasel, there’s no reason to use Ascension T1. You might be able to get 2 prizes in 2 turns with Sneasel against low HP Pokémon like Tynamo and Babies.
If you’re able to get your bench filled in T2, you can make even greater damage with Beat Up. In one of my testgames I OHKO’d a Landorus NVI T1 with Sneasel’s Beat Up – that’s only one example how deadly Dark Claw combined with Sneasel can be.
I think Rescue Energy is one of the most important things in this deck. With Rescue Energy, you’re able to do two things at once – keep your bench full even though Zoroark is KO’d and get Zoroarks back without Super Rod. As soon as your opponent KOs a Zoroark with Rescue Energy, you’ll always have a second one ready on your bench.
Rescue Energy is the only surefire way to keep up with the prize exchange with decks like CMT or Zekrom/Eelektrik.
Darkrai EX is at $65 when I’m writing this and Tornadus EX is at $45, so what would be better than combining these two cards? Nothing. Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX will probably become a metagame deck and good luck for everyone for getting all the cards needed for it. Anyways, here’s the list.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 38
Energy – 13
The strategy is to open with Smeargle (or retreat Smeargle to the active Position in T1) and Portrait + use your own Supporters for the setup. Two Junipers are usually enough for a T2 Darkrai EX setup, so as long as your opponent has a decent Supporter in their hand, you’ll be ready to attack with Darkrai EX in no time.
The obvious companion of Tornadus EX is in the deck because Darkrai EX needs a supporting attacker with it. Darkrai EX is a really good card, but the fact that there are straight counters to it in the format (i.e. Landorus NVI, Terrakion NVI and Groudon EX) leads to Tornadus EX.
I don’t know if Tornadus EX is overrated or underrated at the moment. It has proven to be a great card in almost any deck that has DCE and Stadium in it, but at the same time I don’t know if it’s necessary. However, in this deck, it is necessary.
You may also wonder why the list has Sableye on it. The reason for this is that Sableye is an awesome card. It’s probably one of the most underrated cards at the moment. The deck is full of Trainers and with Junk Hand, you’re able to get 2 Trainers back. You’ll never run out of Catchers this way, but the main thing about this is getting Dark Patches back.
If you’re lucky enough to open with a Smeargle and get a T1 Dark Patch on benched Sableye, you’ll be able to get Darkrai EX up for T2 100%. Sableye can is also good if your opponent Ns you to very low amount of cards and you can’t Portrait anything from them. Just get Random Receiver from your discard pile and you’ll have a Supporter ready for the next turn. It’s the most versatile Pokémon of this deck.
The only things I want to say about Trainer lines are that, as you can see, the deck uses the Ball engine with Random Receiver. For a fast deck like this, it’s really the only way to go. You may want to run 2-2 Ultra Ball-Dual Ball line, but so far I’ve settled to 1-3 line because sometimes the discarding hurts me too much. Also, I run 3 Switches in this so you can get even a T1 Darkrai EX sometimes.
Pokemon ParadijsI would say that if your opponent has a Juniper in their opening hand and you open with Smeargle, you’ll get T1 Darkrai EX 50% of these starts. T1 Darkrai EX is very lethal and unless your opponent runs Fighting Pokémon in their deck, you have pretty much guaranteed your victory already on T1. There really is nothing better than T1 Darkrai EX in the current format.
When it comes to Dark decks in general, there are three things that I suggest everyone should ask themselves before building the deck.
1. Which discarding engine?
This is the most important thing when building any dark-orientated deck. How is it that you get your Basic Darkness Energy to the discard pile? This can happen through Portrait, Ultra Ball, Junk Arm, Juniper, or even Engineer’s Adjustments. Just make sure that there are enough discarding cards in your deck, but at the same time make sure that there aren’t too many of them.
It usually feels like you can discard anything in the early game, but in the late game, you don’t want to discard anything because you have limited resources. Finding the balance in discarding is one of the most important things about Dark decks.
2. What’s your main goal?
This is a question that you should ask from yourself especially with the Darkrai EX deck. What is your goal? Getting Darkrai EX up as soon as possible? Disruption? Keeping Darkrai EXs alive as long as possible or killing your opponent as soon as possible?
The deck has a lot of space and you should have a goal for your deck in mind while building the deck. Darkrai EX works with both – aggressive and conservative strategy – so pick the one which you feel most comfortable with.
3. What to do against Fighting?
This is Dark decks’ main issue. Do you have a decent answer against Fighting decks? The fact is that Darkrai EX and Zoroark aren’t Mewtwo EX – they aren’t weak to itself, they’re weak to Pokémon that are already popular in the format.
You must be able to handle Fighting decks in some way, otherwise you’re in trouble. The most popular way of doing this is using Tornadus EX/Tornadus EPO because of their Fighting resistance.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 33
3 Junk Arm
Energy – 13
BulbapediaThis is by far one of my favorite decks at the moment. Empoleon reminds me closely of Ludicolo DX, which I played in the 2005 World Championships and helped me reach the Top 32. Funnily enough, back then the companion with Ludicolo was Rhydon HL, and now with Empoleon there’s Terrakion. Some things never change it seems.
The strategy of this deck is to set up Empoleon T2 and start attacking while building your other attackers on the bench. Empoleon’s Ability lets you draw 2 cards if you discard one card, and funnily enough once you have 2 Empoleons on the field, you’ll be probably discarding your draw Trainers. If you ask me, Empoleon is 100 times better than Magnezone Prime due the simple fact that it attacks with one energy.
The deck has 3 starters – Cleffa, Virizion (what?), and Pichu. I don’t think I need to explain Pichu and Cleffa to you, but the reason the deck runs Virizion is more complicated. First of all, Virizion isn’t as bad starter as you may think. Drawing 2 cards combos especially well with Empoleon’s Ability. Drawing 4 cards per turn is very nice.
Also, Virizion has a massive 110 HP, so unlike most starters it can’t be donked. This is a huge factor that led to putting Virizion in to this deck. Virizion isn’t a donk victim in the early game and it isn’t a free Catcher prize in the late game. I don’t think there are any other decks where Virizion works so well, but it works wonders in this deck thanks to Empoleon’s Ability.
As you can see from the Trainer lines, the deck runs the Ball engine once again. I tried the deck with the Collector engine, but it was too slow and took too much space. Thanks to the Ball engine, I got the needed techs into the deck. These techs include Max Potion, Eviolite, and Exp. Share.
Pokemon ParadijsMax Potion is a god card with Empoleon. It’s especially good against cards like Mewtwo EX and Darkrai EX, which will very unlikely OHKO Empoleon. You 2HKO them and they 2HKO you – sounds like a good prize trade for you, doesn’t it? Of course against decks like Eels, Max Potion is unnecessary because Empoleon is always OHKO’d.
However, against Eels, the other 2 techs step in. Eviolite is a tech for your Terrakion, so Eels would have hard time OHKOing it. Two Terrakions are very often enough to win against Eel decks, if you can keep then alive long enough.
Exp. Share on the other hand helps you to recycle your energy from Empoleon to Terrakion, so you can get Retaliate whenever your Empoleon is KO’d. Instead of Eviolite, I’ve also tried Energy Switch/Shaymin UL and they have worked out very well too. I think it depends pretty much about your metagame, if you want to run energy movers or Eviolite.
I expect Empoleon to become very near to Tier 1 with the right techs and list. It has a great Ability, attack, and HP. The only thing that stands in its way is its weakness to Lightning, but this can be solved through right Lightning counters.
In Old School Renewed, I’ll discuss the former (maybe the future as well) Tier 1 decks – Zekrom/Eelektrik variants and Celebi/Mewtwo EX variants. These two decks dominated Regionals completely and thanks to Heatmor, Durant just can’t be considered as Tier 1 anymore.
The two other Tier 1 decks got interesting additions from Dark Explorers to their lists and they are even stronger than before. However, the question is, can they stand up against the New Wave?
Eelektrik variants have gotten a lot of firepower from the new set thanks to the new EXs. Here’s my current list of Eelektrik variants, which – of course – is full of EXs.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
3 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsI love this deck because all the cards in it work together. When I put in Tornadus EX, I decided to put in Skyarrow Bridge as well. After putting in Skyarrow Bridge, I realized that I could use 40 HP Tynamos instead of 30 HP one because they’ll have free retreat anyways. That’s how the deck started to form.
Tornadus EX is a superior card compared to Tornadus since Tornadus EX is faster (can get a T1 60) and it has more firepower (100 damage). It’s surprising how well Tornadus EX works against Zoroark/Weavile. Tornadus EX OHKOs every Pokémon of the deck (excluding Darkrai EX) and it’s the one card that gives Zoroark/Weavile problems.
Raikou EX is the other card that was added to the deck from the new set. It hits for 100 anywhere, which is of course great and thanks to Skyarrow Bridge, it also has free retreat. You can just switch Raikou EX to another and hit 100 to your opponent’s bench all the time.
Raikou EX is the one card that must be added to Eelektrik decks because it surprisingly gives you an auto-win vs Vileplume UD decks, rather than having a normally difficult matchup. Ross is finally dead because Reuniclus BLW can be sniped with Raikou EX, and other Vileplume decks will just get their Vileplume KO’d with Raikou EX in two turns.
BulbapediaThe use of Skyarrow Bridge makes Smeargle an even better card for this deck. You can bring it to the active position at any point of the game thanks to the free retreat. I am a huge fan of Zekrom BLW in Eelektrik variants, but it seems that it isn’t the current trend.
With Skyarrow Bridge Thundurus becomes a better card as well, but the fact is that you don’t have to go aggro Thundurus if you are able to go aggro Tornadus EX instead. Aggro Tornadus EX is always better than Thundurus, so I would play Zekrom instead of Thundurus, but I guess it’s a question of personal opinion.
The Trainer lines are pretty obvious and simple. As I stated earlier, this deck doesn’t have to worry about Vileplume and that’s why it wants to play the Ball engine. Thanks to the Ball engine, this deck can now match to the speed of CMT, which makes this deck the BDIF at the moment in my opinion.
Celebi/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX
Well, what good did CMT get from Dark Explorers? Not much.
Pokémon – 13
4 Celebi Prime
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
BulbapediaAs you may notice, this is very close to Kettler’s list and it’s no wonder. It was a great and versatile list, and there isn’t much to improve in my opinion for CMT. I added in Tornadus EX because it’s SOO good in this deck. Sometimes I feel like it’s even better than Mewtwo EX in this deck, but then I face Eelektrik deck and remember once again why Mewtwo EX is the $70 card, and not Tornadus EX.
This deck has always used a Ball engine as its main engine, and Random Receiver makes it even better because Random Receiver is way more consistent than Pokégear 3. in this deck. You’ll always hit a Supporter.
I don’t think there’s much to discuss about CMT. It’s already over-analyzed in the UG articles because it’s been a Tier 1 deck for awhile, and even though it got only small changes from the new set, it will probably hold its Tier 1 positioning. It’s as fast as always and it’s more consistent than before – there is nothing wrong with the deck.
As you may know, I love building rogue decks. The process of building new decks is what keeps me in this game. These experimental decks are my own creations and I’ve put quite a lot of time in developing these. I don’t know if any of them will ever be a real Tier 1 material, but I think it’s important to look outside the box since that way you might come up with something that includes a seed of a viable deck. I hope you enjoy!
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
Hmm, I guess I need to do some explanation with this. This was the first deck which came to me as soon as I saw Dark Patch. The main idea is to open with Absol and inflict damage to your opponent’s benched Pokémon with its Body. The best case scenario this deck is aiming for is to get T1 Vicious Claw with Absol Prime.
Obviously you want to Lost Zone Zoroark, Tyranitar, Chandelure, or Magnezone Prime. This deck can use a wide variety of techs, but I think Tyranitar, Chandelure, and Magnezone are the most important ones. I’ll explain briefly why.
Tyranitar and Chandelure
Pokemon ParadijsThese are mainly used against any Lightning decks that play Tynamo. If you get Absol active position before they they start laying down Tynamos, and you get Tyranitar to the Lost Zone, you can do devastating damage in the first few turns.
First Absol inflicts 20 damage to every Tynamo they play on their bench. After that you just Lost Zone Tyranitar with Vicious Claw and get Mew Prime attacking with Tyranitar. It doesn’t matter if they play 30 or 40 HP Tynamos; they all will be KO’d with one Darkness Howl from Mew Prime. You can seal the deal as early as T2 thanks to Tyranitar Prime.
Chandelure works the same way as Tyranitar Prime but you can KO even 50 HP Pokémon with it thanks to Absol Prime’s Body. This is the same concept as in the MeesieMew, so it shouldn’t be hard to understand.
The difference of Tyranitar and Chandelure is that Tyranitar can do damage all over the field, but at the same time it will hurt your Mew Prime as well. It’s also no use against Dark decks and that’s where Chandelure steps in.
The deck’s energy lines are adjusted for 2 big KOs with Lost Burn. The resource management is the most important thing with this deck because it has so few energy, yet still has a lot of discarding cards. Magnezone Prime is the easiest way to OHKO anything. You need 2 energy to OHKO a Mewtwo EX – 4 energy to OHKO a Darkrai EX or a Tornadus EX, etc.
With Dark Patches, you can load the energy but you must not to Lost Zone the Darkness Energy in the early game because after they’ve been Lost Zoned, Dark Patches will be dead cards and you’ll lose your energy acceleration.
Pokemon ParadijsThe deck also runs Zoroark, Shaymin, Darkrai EX, and Smeargle. Zoroark is very versatile card, but I’m still trying to come up with better 4th tech for the deck. It depends very much on the metagame and where you play, so I don’t think there is one correct answer. Shaymin helps you to move your Dark Patched energy from your Darkness Pokémon to Mew Primes. As you can see, the deck also runs Energy Switch for the very same purpose.
This deck is more than comfortable dealing with Mewtwo EXs. Darkrai EX works as an energy bank for this deck and it also helps to conserve your energy if you need to retreat with Smeargle or Absol Prime. Sometimes you can also use it as an attacker since you are spreading damage all around the whole game and Darkrai EX hits the bench as well. There are many scenarios, where you are able to get the last 3 prizes with 1 attack from Darkrai EX.
The Trainer and Supporter lines aim only to one goal: getting Absol attacking as soon as possible. With Juniper and Sage and other discarding Trainers, you’ll be forced to make trade-offs since there are always cards you don’t want to discard.
Also, as you can see the list includes Energy Searches, and no, it isn’t a joke. In order to get the combo going as soon as possible, you need to have Energy Searches to get the correct energy at the right time; Darkness Energy when you need to get them in the discard pile and other energy when you need to attack with your techs. Energy Search is one of the reasons this deck even works.
The deck is VERY difficult to play correctly and that’s one of the reasons why I love playing with it. The development of this deck is only just starting and while the list is far from perfect, it already stands up pretty well against most decks.
This was one of the decks, I immediately came up with, as soon as I saw Empoleon. I wonder why it isn’t yet discussed anywhere (except for John’s last article) since the “combo” is so obvious.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 10
BulbapediaThe deck is very similar to the earlier introduced Empoleon deck with the difference being that this deck doesn’t run Terrakions. In fact, it only runs 6 Basics. That’s a very low number, but the secret behind the low number is Aerodactyl. The deck’s strategy is to set up Empoleons and Aerodactyls. The optimal bench is 3 Empoleons and 3 Aerodactyls. This way the base damage for Empoleon’s attack is 100 if your opponent only has 1 Pokémon in play.
You may think that it’s crazy to use Empoleon without a Lightning counter, but a long as you can OHKO Lightning Pokémon, the weakness doesn’t really matter. It will be a prize-trading war and the one with more draw will win the game, and well, I want to see a deck that draws better than Empoleon.
Ns are very important for this deck. Most decks rely on Smeargle after late game Ns, but with Empoleon, you can just discard your Supporters and whenever they Portrait, you have nothing else to show them but a hand of zero Supporters.
The only problem with this deck is how to get Aerodactyl’s in a prudent way to play. Twist Mountain is the reason why this deck is playable. I wouldn’t be relying only on Old Ambers because they’re random, but with enough flips from Twist Mountain and with enough tries from Old Ambers, your bench is filled with Aerodactyls in no time.
The deck is built around a Ball engine once again, but as you can see there are no Balls! The reason for this is that Pokémon Communication is better than any Ball in this deck. The deck has a low amount of Pokémon so one would think that Pokémon Communication isn’t an optimal choice for this deck, but since you want to have your Aerodactyls in your deck (Old Amber), Communication is a great card.
If you need more space for the deck, I think you can easily cut 2 energy. Playing 8 Energy is risky in early game, but it doesn’t matter in the late game because you have Super Rod and a huge draw engine drawing energy all the time. 10 is optimal number for me because it usually guarantees the early and late game energy.
The deck is simple, fun and powerful at the same time. I don’t think it will satisfy Masters players due its lack of complexity, but I think this would be a great deck for Seniors, Juniors, or beginning players.
This deck is probably one of those decks that doesn’t look good on paper and when you start playing with it… well, let’s just say that the deck doesn’t look great in action either! John already had a quick look on this deck, but here’s my current list.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 35
Energy – 11
Pokemon ParadijsThis deck’s origin takes us once again back to the year 2005. Back then, there was a card called Dark Slowking which was very close to Cofagrigus. In fact, it wasn’t that much worse than Cofagrigus so as you may guess, it was one of the Tier 1 decks of the format.
This deck’s strategy is pretty simple. Hit with Cofagrigus to the very end. Cofagrigus hits 40x for each Tool you discard, so the deck must run every single Tool, even if they are not useful for the deck (i.e. Dark Claw).
The deck has 16 Tools + 3 Junk Arms, so the total damage we have to work with is 19 x 40 = 760. If we divide 760 damage by 6 prizes we get 126.666. That should be enough resources to get 6 prizes right? Well, in perfect world where Pokémon had decimals in their HP, yes. In the real world it’s far more complex.
Since the deck must have so many Tools, I had to take out Catchers, but at the same time I needed to keep the draw going. Musharnas and Smeargle are very important for this.
First, I tried this deck without any supporting Pokémon (with Smeargle only) and the list failed miserably to one N in 1-3 prizes. Musharna’s Ability can keep the game going even when you get N’d. And if your opponent uses his/her resources for killing Musharnas, that’s also good because it’s very difficult to keep the flow of Cofagrigus going.
Pokemon ParadijsAs you may have guessed, the deck’s best matchup is any deck that’s highly orientated on using EX-Pokémon or Mewtwo EX in general. The deck needs 3 Tools to take 1 prize from Zekrom BLW, but it needs only 5 tools to take 2 prizes against Zekrom EX. Not to mention, you only need 3 Tools to get 2 prizes against Mewtwo EX. I would love to have Catchers in this deck, but the sad fact is that everything just doesn’t fit.
The concept is simple and fun, but I don’t know if it ever can be highly competitive. I haven’t had enough testing time for this deck to determine if it really is only a fun deck or if it has more potential.
This is the real Troll.dec even though it doesn’t have Terrakion or Tornadus in it. John touched this in his article as well, but as the fundamentals in his skeleton were so different, it is worth looking at this version as well.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 30
Energy – 11
BulbapediaThe strategy of this deck is very complex and so is the set-up. So I’ll go through them step-by-step.
1) As soon as possible, use See Off to get Accelgor to the discard pile.
2) Set up your hand and bench so you can get Gothitelle and Gardevoir into play at the same time. Also, it’s good if you have energy on two different Mew Primes at the same time.
4) Bring the Gothitelle to the active position, put Darkrai EX on the bench (if it already wasn’t), and try to keep the flow of Mew Primes and Psychic Energy going. Just recycle Mew Primes back and forth from your deck while using Accelgors attack and your opponent can’t do anything.
Catchers play a huge role because you want to make damage in a way which leads to a Poison KO AFTER your opponent’s turn.
It’s a shame that the format doesn’t have any damage manipulator except for PlusPower and Kingdra. PlusPower and Kingdra would both be nice, but the fact is that in the end this deck would like to run 3-4 different Stage 2 lines and you already know that it can’t be consistent.
PlusPower can be put in the deck if you take some Catchers out, but I think it’s a personal preference, which you prefer – Catcher or PlusPower. Because of that, you must rely on Catchers and your math skills.
As you can see, it’s one of the most annoying decks probably ever. The only problem with the deck is that it’s very difficult to keep the flow of Mew Primes and Psychic Energy going. Also, the bench is full a lot of the time. You will have on your bench at least these 4 cards: Gothitelle, Gardevoir, Mew Prime, and Darkrai EX.
Renae CollectsOne answer to the flow problem would be once again Musharna or even Magnezone Prime, but they would require space – from both your bench and from the deck. The deck already suffers from slight consistency problems, so adding either of those is pretty difficult but it isn’t impossible.
I think the main and only problem of this deck is the “flow” and how to keep it going. If you can keep the flow going and your math skills are on-par with the deck’s demand, this deck can be very close to Tier 1. It’s a fun, highly complex, yet frustrating deck. What else would you want from a deck?
As promised, in The Excluded I’ll discuss the decks I haven’t yet discussed and I think are worth discussing. The decks have either dropped out from the top tier scene or are almost there but still lack something. The decks I’ll discuss next are Fighting variants, The Truth, and Durant.
I wrote a complete article about these decks, so I didn’t feel like going in-depth with them again. I think the best Fighting variant was – and still is – Landorus/Terrakion. It can match any deck with its speed and has its own energy accelerators thanks to Landorus and Exp. Share. It has decent matchups even against the most random decks and it’s very easy to include a Mewtwo EX to the deck. The deck is great against both Lightning and Darkness decks, so I expect them to be even more played now than before.
However, whenever a counter deck rises, it will create an opposing reaction in the dominating decks as well. And if we look how Lightning and Darkness deck react to Fighting decks, we don’t have to look very far. The answer is Tornadus EX. It seems that Tornadus EX is an answer to everything.
Pokemon ParadijsWell, it’s one heck of a versatile card. Eviolited Tornadus EX gives any Fighting deck a very hard time. Landorus hits more to its own benched Pokémon than it does damage to an Eviolited Tornadus EX. Tornadus EX also 2HKOs every Pokémon in Fighting decks while 2HKOing Tornadus EX is very difficult.
Fighting decks also have problem with any deck focusing on Mewtwo EX. You may get good matchups against Lightning and Darkness decks if you play with Fighting decks, but as soon as you face a CMT, you’re destroyed. CMT plays both Fighting decks worst enemies – Tornadus EX and Mewtwo EX. There is no way Fighting decks can come up with decent answers against these two cards. CMT will just blow through (pun intended) Fighting decks.
Also, there has been discussion about Groudon EX and what it brings to Fighting decks. It has huge HP and resistance to Lightning, so it’s very good against Lightning decks, but it’s not like Fighting decks had a bad matchup against Eelektrik variants.
I’m not a fan of Groudon EX. If the base damage of its second attack would be more than 80 I would buy it, but for now, it isn’t worth it in my opinion. Mewtwo EX just destroys Groudon EX and unless Groudon EX has Eviolite attached to it, even Tornadus EX 2HKOs it. Also, Groudon EX has a weakness to Water. I believe that Empoleon will become a metagame deck and the more Fighting decks will pop out, the better Empoleon becomes.
Fighting decks are only one of the corners of the current metagame. Lightning and Darkness can be countered with Fighting decks. Fighting decks can be countered with Empoleon and CMT. Empoleon can be countered with Lightning decks. The only deck that can’t be countered directly with anything is CMT, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the BDIF. But as you can see, when you start countering the current metagame’s decks, eventually you’ll get back to square one.
There is only one point I want to make about this deck – the deck is dead. I’ve already discussed about the reasons for this – Raikou EX. It single-handedly destroys Truth. I didn’t think Truth was playable even after Mewtwo EXs release, but now it’s official. The truth isn’t out there anymore.
BulbapediaOne word – Heatmor – isn’t enough. I think Dakota did ok job analyzing the effects of Heatmor, but there is one thing, which I think he didn’t mention and which plays a huge role in Durant’s future. Just how many Heatmors do you find from my, John’s or Dakota’s lists? Exactly, zero.
It’s easy to say “Yeah Durant is dead because Heatmor kills it.” The fact is that Heatmor would be a lot more effective if it WERE in the lists, not only as a theorymon threat for Durant. I’ve said this to many Finnish players and I want to say it here as well.
My Nationals and my Worlds deck won’t include a Heatmor in them. It isn’t worth it unless the deck has an auto-loss to Durant and I’m probably planning to go with something that doesn’t have auto-losses.
There are players who don’t share this game philosophy with me, but I’m pretty sure, most of the players do share it and don’t play Heatmor. Heatmor is unnecessary addition to most decks because most decks have a favorable match-up against Durant and what’s even more important, the new Dark decks have highly favorable match-ups against Durant.
Durant will be played and it won’t disappear anywhere, but it’s just even more unlikely that it will win anything big. This isn’t because of Heatmor, but just because the shift in the metagame.
As you can see, Dark Explorers has a bigger impact on the format than any other set this season. The new Darkness Pokémon will offer a real challenge for the dominating Mewtwo EX and it offers a huge variety of rogue decks as well. I think this is the first time of the season, I’ve come up with rogues I, myself, am satisfied of.
The timing couldn’t be better since we’ll be playing with this format for the biggest tournaments of this season’s from Nationals to Worlds. I am sure that there will be more than one secret deck for both Nationals and Worlds since the card pool is big and the metagame is wide open.
As I said earlier, I’ll have Nationals later this month but I still have no idea what to play. Since the format is full of options and I’m fan of many decks of the current format, it’s very difficult to choose the best one. Thankfully, I have lots of time to test every single deck and maybe even create new ones for my Nationals, so I have time to make my final decision.
Hopefully this article offered you enough food for thought for the rest of the month since this will be my only article of this month. If you’re interested in any of the deck in this article, feel free to try them out and ask advice for them. When it comes to rogue decks, if you find/have the solution for the problems I’m having with them, I would be very thankful. I want to get every rogue working but as I have limited time in my hands, I can’t use 100 hundred hours for testing each of those decks.
To conclude, I hope you enjoyed this article and as always remember to “Like” it if you found it useful. I’ll be commenting and answering to any comments/questions in both the forums and in e-mail/Facebook/Twitter, so feel free to contact me in any way. Wish me luck for my Nationals and be sure to follow my blog as well since Eye on Japan: Part 3 will be released in late May!
Good luck for Battle Roads / Nationals!
– Esa Juntunen
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