Eel vs Eel: Comparing and Contrasting Speed and Smeargle Builds

beverleerasmussen.comIt’s simply amazing how much difference a few short weeks can have on your point of view. I’ve gone from stressed beyond belief, back to carefree and loving life with the end of this semester. I’ll be honest and say that at the end of Regionals I never wanted to see another Pokémon card again, but now I’m actually looking forward to Battle Roads. Going along with that, I’m really excited about this new set and a lot of the possibilities it brings to the game.

So starting out this article, I’m going to share some thoughts about Dark Explorers. Then I will take a real in-depth look at Zekrom/Eelektrik and focus on the differences between my and Kyle Sucevich’s versions of the deck. I really want to talk about more than just card choices, but also reflect on how they affect in-game decisions. I’m also going to describe how to update the deck with new cards from Dark Explorers.

Lastly I’ve a got a few different decks I’m working on with Dark Explorers. They’re a bit different since I kind of went a different direction with them than a lot of the lists you’ve been seeing.

Dark Explorers

By the time May 17 rolls around, I’m sure set reviews will have been done into the ground. So instead of looking at every card that I think has potential in the new set, I’m just going to talk about a handful of my favorites and how I feel they fit into our current meta.

Random Receiver

BulbapediaIf and how many Random Receivers you should play should be dictated by the number and types of Supporter cards you play. Any deck that plays Pokémon Collector should probably stick with Pokégear 3.0 over Random Receiver. Hitting a Pokémon Collector when you need to hit a “shuffle and draw” Supporter is disastrous.

For this reason, in a majority of my decks (but not all) I’m favoring Random Receiver along with a very straightforward Supporter line up: Professor Juniper/Professor Oaks New Theory/N. In some decks I’ve even lowered my count of N to have the higher degree chance of hitting Juniper or PONT, which is normally the Supporter you want to hit early game, or off of a late game N.

To go along with this, Random Receiver also lets you get away with playing fewer Supporters in your deck… sort of. It won’t change your overall consistency if you drop Supporters and add in extra copies of Random Receiver. For example if I played 4 Juniper, 4 PONT, 2 N, 2 Pokégear 3.0, which is a total of 12, I could opt to play 4 Juniper, 4 PONT, 4 Random Receiver and it won’t effect my over all consistency.

Two other things to point out with this are that there is a small chance you would run out of Supporters in the later stages of the game. This strategy also has an element of deck thinning to it, which could be useful in some speed-based decks. However, I feel both of these scenarios are very marginal and not a reason to either run or not to run a higher Random Receiver count.

Bulbapedia

Tornadus EX

I actually really like this card and was extremely happy when I heard it was going to be in this set (before both Nationals and Worlds). I also think that this card is never going to fully replace the original Tornadus EPO. Right now I’m playing it as a “1 of” in most of the decks I run Tornadus in. I won’t say that it is better or worse than the original Tornadus… simply different. For starters, it’s an EX, and the x2 weakness to Lightning are both reasons it’s hard to make it the center of any deck.

It also doesn’t diversify its energy like the other Tornadus. What this means is you’re putting a huge investment into 1 Pokémon who might be discarding his own energy. I also feel this make the card marginally weaker to Lost Remover than the EPO Tornadus. While neither of these reasons should be enough to deter you from playing Tornadus EX, they are important things to keep in mind.

Now that I’ve basically torn the card down, I want to talk about what I really like about it. Starting off it has a first attack for [CC] (DCE) that does a straight 30 and a situational 60. This offers you another Pokémon in your deck that can possibly donk, but in almost all cases Mewtwo EX still does the job much better, so this point is marginal.

The real advantage of this card is its 170 HP and 100 damage attack. Starting off with the hit points, while 110 HP certainly isn’t low, it’s really not high either. PlusPower/Black Belt shenanigans won’t always guarantee it’s a 2HKO for your opponent. On the other hand, unless you’re playing against Zekrom/Eelektrik, 170 HP is normally out of the way of any sort of 1HKO.

The real selling point of this card though in my opinion is its second attack for CCC it does 100 damage. The simple difference between 80 and 100 is unbelievable in this format. Just that extra 20 damage puts so much more stuff in 1HKO range either alone or in combination of PlusPower. Tornadus EPO, Thundurus EPO, Landorus NVI, and Eelektrik NVI are all very commonly played Pokémon and are far more easily KO’d by Tornadus EX over the EPO Tornadus.

Ultra Ball

BulbapediaNormally the discarding of 2 cards to pay the cost is not horribly difficult, and in some cases can even be beneficial. Zekrom/Eelektrik players will love to dump that early Lightning Energy, or Troll players that want to go for an early Abundant Harvest. But don’t be so quick to instantly start switching out all of your Level Balls and Pokémon Communications for Ultra Balls.

The biggest weakness of this card is that you really can’t Junk Arm for it. Junk Arm itself and the 2 cards to pay the cost is 3 cards, get back Ultra Ball and pay 2 more for its costs adds up to a total of 6 cards discarded for 1 Pokémon. You can situational make this play if you have a large enough hand and a Juniper/PONT for a new one, but it’s certainly not a play you can make on a regular bases.

This is why I feel you should always play at least 1 Level Ball or Pokémon Communication for those situations where you do need to search out a Pokémon via Junk Arm.

Darkrai EX

A part of me wants to walk a very fine line here and give a very vague review, since I honestly don’t know how big this card will be. I won’t do that though instead I’ll just try and give some you some different viewpoints on the card. Starting off, I think that the card is completely overhyped, which happens to at least one card every set.

Remember when everybody said Pokémon Catcher and then Mewtwo EX would completely ruin the format? They’re very strong cards and even format changing, but they haven’t “ruined” anything.

Darkrai EX has very healthy 180 HP and a pretty solid energy to damage ratio. Three Dark for 90 damage is already solid, but the extra 30 damage spread really pushes it over the top. That 30 spread can be used to take cheap KOs on 30 HP Pokémon (Tynamo NVI 39, Tyrogue HS/CL), set up KOs on larger Pokémon, or just pile it on bench sitters to score a KO after consecutive turns (Celebi Prime, Eelektrik NVI).

The biggest thing that Darkrai EX is missing is good Dark Pokémon support. We already have Darkness Energy, and this new set just brought us a ton of really strong Trainers for Dark Pokémon. This current format just lacks good solid Dark Pokémon, although I do expect Darkrai EX to see healthy play at Battle Roads.

The deck is definitely Tier 1 or Tier 1.5, with Terrakion NVI and other Fighting Pokémon keeping it in check. However, I really expect this card to shine once we get some more solid Dark Pokémon. In the future I could even see this card becoming “a problem” and Dark decks rising to the popularity that SP or other similar decks have had in the past.

Right now though I’m definitely going to being hoarding my fair share of the Dark Support cards. My verdict on the card right now is it’s absolutely format effecting, but certainly not format ruining.

Heatmor

BulbapediaI think this is the first time in the history of the game that a meta deck has gotten this hard of a counter against it. It doesn’t matter how many Eviolite, Special Metals, or Defenders you stick on a Durant; it’s still not enough to save it from a Heatmor. On top of this, the attack cost of just C makes it splash able into any deck, but to be fair it’s about the only way it would see play (not really a point in a full fire decks playing it).

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen a lot of comments about how Heatmor won’t destroy Durant, and how Durant can tech counters against it. To be honest, all of this is 100% true, but Heatmor doesn’t have to destroy Durant or KO 6 Durants to win.

How many games against Durant have you been decked out when you had just 1 or 2 Prizes left? That’s all Heatmor usually needs to do is just has to take a couple prizes to swing the match up heavily in your favor.

Sure, Durant can (and probably will) tech counters (Luvdisc TM with a PlusPower comes to mind), but if they’re teching against Heatmor, that means they aren’t teching in a Mewtwo EX or a Shaymin EX which in my opinion can be much harder to deal with in general.

Now onto the next question, “Should I run Heatmor in my deck, or just bank on the threat of Heatmor as enough to deter Durant?” The answer to this is, well, it depends. If your deck has an auto-loss to Durant, then I recommend teching in the one Heatmor. Devoting 1 card spot to take an auto-loss to an even/positive matchup is well worth it.

If your deck has an even or already favorable match up against Durant than I would say it’s not worth the spot. I would however always have one on you when you go to Battle Roads, so if you show up and you see a lot of Durants walking around you can add it in. Devoting 1 card spot to have an edge against what you know is decent portion of the field is well worth it.

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Lastly, is Durant still a solid play, or is it time to finally shelf the deck? As for Battle Roads I really think it depends on the meta. If it’s a small tournament and people know Durant will be popular, there is probably going to be a lot of hate for the deck. If you’re not expecting a lot of hate for the deck, then it’s probably about as solid of a play as it was for States/Regionals.

As for a larger tournament like Nationals, I would say no, I feel the deck has a hard enough time going 9 rounds dodging bad matchups and consistently winning even one. Now with Heatmor its just 1 more easily teachable card the deck has to worry about dodging. Regardless of how popular Durant is Heatmor will see enough play to be considered a threat.

Esa disagreed with Dakota, so now it’s going to be my turn to disagree with Esa. I think Esa’s theory has two major flaws. First off he assumes that everybody will follow his train of thought and nobody will play Heatmor. While I figure Heatmor won’t see massive amount of play, I do feel it will see play. Even assuming good players won’t play Heatmor (I don’t fully agree with this either), that does not mean many of the average and bad players won’t play it.

Back in 2009/2010 many good players did not play straight Machamp SF, however enough of the average and bad players did that the card saw enough play to create an effect on the meta that SP players worried about. Secondly, he assumes that Heatmor does nothing to Durant since nobody plays it. The problem I have with that it is assuming this will always hold true.

What Heatmor does do is assures Durant will never see massive play. If Durant sees little play, then Heatmor probably will see little play as well. However, if Durant starts to see a larger amount of play than Heatmor will also begin to see a larger amount of play. One tech spot to gain a decisive edge in a match-up is small price to pay.

Even if Esa is right about everything else, the one thing Heatmor will do is assure that Durant will never be the BDIF of this format or the next.

Battle Roads

With Dark Explorers being released, and Battle Roads just around the corner, I want to take a moment and talk about Battle Roads and why they are so important. Starting off, being able to earn 1 or 2 Championships Points at small, less competitive events can make a huge difference in rankings. I don’t expect to see a ton of switch ups in invites due to Battle Roads, but when all is said and done the last 5 or so invites will probably have been decided by Spring Battle Roads.

Championship Points aside though, I think the biggest advantage of Spring Battle Roads is the ability to play a competitive tournament using the same format we have for Nationals. First off, absolutely nothing replaces real tournament experience.

While testing with your friends/teammates is good practice, you will experience the biggest amount of growth as a player playing in a competitive tournament environment. You’ll also learn the most about your deck, and its weakness when you play it in a tournament.

Going along with this, the format is still very new and people are still getting used to. There is a huge gap (both in terms of skill and deck building) between when we first get the new set and a few months later. The first weekend of States right after we got Next Destinies was easier than Regionals was. Anybody who knows what they are doing (both in terms of skill and deck building) has a huge advantage going into Battle Roads and Nationals.

This is why resources (like SixPrizes) can be just so beneficial. So think of Battle Roads as way of getting some real world experience both playing and building in this format. In my opinion this is a huge advantage for a player to have and far bigger reason to play in Battle Roads than Championship Points.

Zekrom/Eelektrik

y-uuki.deviantart.comAs I’m writing this I’m really hoping this doesn’t come across as horribly arrogant because I certainly don’t intend it to. Basically I see 2 main ways to run Zekrom/Eelektrik: Kyle’s version (Speed/Dual Ball) and my version (Smeargle). I certainly don’t feel I was the only person to run Smeargle at States nor Kyle the only one to run Dual Ball. However, I feel we have each had a decent amount of respect with our builds and played them well before they became “mainstream.”

For those of you who haven’t seen it Kyle actually posted his Regional winning list a few weeks ago here. What I want to do is compare my build to Kyle’s build, discuss the differences between them as well as the pros and cons. Going along with this I really want to do more than just discuss pros and cons of card choices and really look at the in game strategy behind them and how the card choices affect your options.

Finally I also want to talk about updating Zekrom/Eelektrik with Dark Explorers. For the last few months Zekrom/Eelektrik has been a major force in our meta and it doesn’t seem to be going any time soon.

Let’s start off with deck lists.

Kyle’s Build

Pokémon – 16

3 Tynamo NVI 38
1 Tynamo NVI 39
3 Eelektrik NVI
2 Mewtwo-EX
2 Zekrom BLW
2 Thundurus EPO
1 Tornadus EPO
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Bouffalant BLW 91

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 N

 

4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Dual Ball
2 Level Ball
2 PlusPower
2 Eviolite
2 Switch
1 Super Rod
1 Pokégear 3.0

Energy – 12

8 Lightning
4 Double Colorless

Jay’s Build

Pokémon – 16

2 Tynamo NVI 38
1 Tynamo NVI 39
3 Eelektrik NVI
3 Mewtwo-EX
1 Zekrom-EX
1 Zekrom BLW
1 Thundurus EPO

1 Tornadus EPO
2 Smeargle UD
1 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Professor Juniper
3 N
3 Pokémon Collector

 

4 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Switch
2 Pokémon Communication
2 PlusPower
1 Super Rod
1 Eviolite
1 Level Ball

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 13

9 Lightning
4 Double Colorless

Looking at these 2 different builds there is two different ways to compare them. First by dividing them simply into type: Speed vs. Smeargle. Secondly I can compare them by individual differences and choices and see if these come down to personal preference or are they based on the before mentioned variant.

Speed Vs. Smeargle

pokemon-paradijs.comLet’s start off by talking about the difference in variants. It’s amazing how much difference just a few card choices can make. Essentially the Smeargle version is the addition of a minimum of 2 Smeargle and 2 Skyarrow Bridge. There is a considerable amount of flexibility in the number since you could go all the way up to 4 Smeargle and 3 Bridge (normally room won’t allow this extreme though).

Usually the Smeargle version also forces you to play Pokémon Collector over Dual Ball. The reason for this is you really need to get Smeargle and than whatever Pokémon you need for the situation. This becomes an issue when you’re only averaging 1 heads off of Dual Ball.

It’s a very risky play to search out just Smeargle and then hope they have a Supporter in their hand for you to grab other Basics. Pokémon Collector also ensures that you can get those double Tynamos which is essential against some of the speed based decks in our format.

Now just looking at the builds, there is one major difference between them outside of the Speed vs. Smeargle. In my Pokémon lineup I opted to have a high amount of utility, so I played a lot of single copies, which helped me in a wide array of situations. Kyle on the other hand opted to play higher counts on the Pokémon he deemed more important in the matchups he wanted to be ready for.

While I don’t feel either way is wrong necessarily, I found it to be very interesting difference between us and largely reflective of our play styles. As a side note I feel Pokémon Collector allowed me to get away with this kind of Pokémon lineup far more easily than Kyle would have using Dual Ball.

Now let’s look at the card for card differences in the builds and also look at how they affect consistency, match ups, and in game situations.

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2-1 Tynamo Vs. 3-1 Tynamo

From our match at Wisconsin States I knew Kyle favored a full 4 Tynamos. However, at the time he played 3 of the 30 HP and 1 of the 40 HP. He reversed this count for Regionals, which surprised me a bit, but didn’t completely shock me. That extra 10 HP is simply huge in this format since it’s the difference from Catcher/Tyrogue KO to Catcher/PlusPower/Tyrogue KO.

While the opponent having the PlusPower isn’t rare, it’s a bigger issue if they have to burn it in this scenario versus something more important. To do Regionals over again I would have played a full 3 copies of the 40 HP Tynamo, because the number of times I was hurt by not having easy access to the free retreat was considerably less than the number of times I got caught by Catcher/Tyrogue.

So while Kyle and I both agree that the 40 HP is superior, his deck has a harder time taking advantage of it (minimally). I run 2 Switch and 2 Bridge to get it out of the active spot turn 1 while Kyle only runs 2 Switch. It makes it far easier for me to get that turn 1 Portrait or Charge off than it is for him.

As for playing the extra copy of Tynamo, I feel it’s a very solid play, but not completely essential. I’ve never found myself in a bad situation by running 1 less Tynamo. I think another deciding factor in the extra Tynamo between our lists is the Collector vs. Dual Ball argument. I’m easily able to search out 2/3 Tynamos at once while Kyle is averaging only 1. The extra Tynamo also increases his odds of drawing into 1 off of a Supporter (1 in 20 cards for me, 1 in 15 for him).

The 3rd Mewtwo EX

I opted to play the 3rd copy of Mewtwo EX while Kyle stuck with just 2 copies. Kyle referred to it as “overkill” in his video, but I’ll disagree with him. The 3rd Mewtwo EX is useful for a variety of reasons. If you prize 1 copy (which happens every 1 in 5 games) it makes it so there is almost no way you can drop Mewtwo EX, it also makes it near impossible for you to actually keep up in the Mewtwo exchanges.

Another reason I like the 3rd copy is because you don’t always want to drop Mewtwo EX since this can put you in awkward situations. For example, if you’re holding a Mewtwo EX and want to Juniper, playing 3 copies and losing the 1 is an easy discard, but playing 2 copies on the other hand not so much.

Playing 3 copies allows you to safely drop the first Mewtwo EX, which is great in situations when you want to simplify the game dramatically. My final verdict is the 3rd copy isn’t essential, but it certainly isn’t overkill either and this decision really is more of a personal preference.

1 Zekrom BLW/1 Zekrom EX Vs. 2 Zekrom BLW

I opted to play the Zekrom EX while Kyle played 2 copies of the BLW Zekrom. I think this is another case of me opting to go for the utility of a wide range of attackers while Kyle opts for higher numbers on certain attackers. The Zekrom EX is a major deciding factor against large Stage 2 decks like Magnezone Prime and Typhlosion Prime (this was a thought in the back of my mind when I decided to include Zekrom EX though).

What really drew me to the card was the fact that it nearly always takes 2 prizes before it gets knocked out. Oftentimes I would be spending far fewer resources in the exchange which would net me positive tradeoffs. However, the major reason I kept it in the deck was it allowed me a non-Mewtwo way of knocking out Mewtwo EX (double PlusPower) while leaving my opponent without an answer to it next turn.

In many cases this was unexpected and honestly it could completely turn games around. I don’t know how many times I considered dropping the card, but it proved just useful enough to warrant the 1 spot in the deck.

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1 Bouffalant

Kyle played Bouffalant because of how easy it was to score Revenge KOs or steal cheap prizes. The main advantage of Bouffalant was that it was a non-EX that could hit for just 2 energy or a DCE, most of the others in the deck take 3. This is a huge advantage when you and your opponent are both getting low on resources.

After testing it though, I think Bouffalant is a good card, but 90 damage is very low to score KOs on things you care about and it’s simply not worth the spot. I’m already sitting at 3-5 “61st” cards I want in my list and Bouffalant simply does not make the cut on this very tight list.

1 Thundurus Vs. 2 Thundurus

Out of Kyle’s entire deck, this is one of the card choices I questioned the most. Thundurus is really only useful at the start of the game to get that early Charge off, but later in the game 80 damage is simply not that much, plus it can’t abuse DCE. Since playing the 2nd copy really doesn’t increase your odds of starting with it that dramatically, I’m unsure of why he played the second copy.

I’m a big of fan of 1 Thundurus or 3-4 copies of the card. With the low count you accept you won’t start with it very often and instead focus on searching out the 1 and getting it active. With the higher count you sacrifice some of your Pokémon spots for the higher chance of starting Thundurus.

Kyle Plays 1 Tyrogue

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I feel Tyrogue was a much stronger play when fewer people were playing it. Now that a majority of the decks in the format are playing it, it really loses a lot of its power.

You’re already seeing a lot of people switching over to a much higher count of the 40 HP Tynamos, so people are rarely benching the 30 HP one until its safe. It used to be a question of do they play Tyrogue or don’t they, and now it’s more of we’ll assume he plays Tyrogue until we know differently. Going along with this, considering all the hype Darkrai EX is getting, people are going to migrate away from the 30 HP Basics even more so.

In my opinion Tyrogue was a solid play at the start of States, but now really isn’t worth the room. I also don’t like playing another Basic that can possibly be first turned rather easily. I also feel like Zekrom/Eelektrik has so many better first turn plays and thanks to energy acceleration doesn’t need the free attack in the mid and late game.

Decks like Troll and CMT that don’t have that consistent energy acceleration or the strong first turn can make a much stronger argument for running the copy of Tyrogue.

Trainers

The Trainer lineup in Zekrom/Eelektrik is normally pretty standard and you don’t see a ton of deviation in lists. The reason for this is once you fill out the basic counts of cards, you’re left with only a few spots for personal preference. Now to put this back into regards of the decks that we’re currently talking about, I think both of our Trainer lineups looked like they should for the variants we went with. Just a couple quick notes I would like to make though.

  • I tested only 1 Skyarrow Bridge and I found I just wasn’t drawing into it enough. Bridge is useful for more than just in combination with Smeargle. It basically always guarantees that you have a free retreater to promote after a KO.
  • Playing only 3 Dual Ball is more of an issue of room rather than a feeling of the 4th being unneeded. I would love to have 4, but there are just so many cards that come before it.

As for the lists themselves, as I said before there is going to be some variation just based off of the fact that went different directions with the deck. However, I think we both made some interesting choices (Kyle especially), and had some distinct differences to touch up on.

4 Pokémon Catcher Vs. 3 Pokémon Catcher

pokemon-paradijs.comThe biggest argument to play the 4th Pokémon Catcher in my opinion was for use in combination with Tyrogue. When everybody was playing 30 HP Tynamos you could have a distinct advantage in mirror if you could get 1-2 quick Catcher KOs on them. Now that people are shying away from these Tynamos and 30 HP Pokémon in general the 4th Catcher is simply overkill.

With 3 Pokémon Catcher and 4 Junk Arm you already have access to essentially 7 Catcher over the course of a game. Playing the 4th Pokémon Catcher is less about actually needing a 4th Catcher and more about the slight increase in drawing it in the opening hand (1 in 15 cards, vs. 1 in 20).

2 Level Ball Vs. 2 Pokémon Communication and 1 Level Ball

I think this is one of the biggest differences in our Trainer lineup. The first factor is the 2 Pokémon search vs. 3 Pokémon search. I played 2 States with 2 Pokémon search, and I played a States and Regionals with 3 Pokémon search, and I have to admit I like the 3rd search card. It’s not a major factor, but I do feel like I notice the difference.

As for Level Ball vs. Pokémon Communication, this really comes down to the build. It wasn’t until I started testing the Dual Ball version did I really notice just how much synergy there was between Communication and Collector. It was very easy for me to search out that extra Pokémon to use with Communication. While with Dual Ball many times I either didn’t have the Pokémon, or it was a Pokémon that I couldn’t put back.

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2 Eviolite Vs. 1 Eviolite

At States I knew Kyle played 2 Eviolite, but afterwards when I was trying to put his build together I had the hardest time trying to figure out where he made the room. I simply could never fit in more than 1 despite know a majority of the counts in his deck. As for my build you have no idea how hard it was for me to finally cut the Collector in favor of the Eviolite.

The only reason I ran the 1 was as a tech against both Terrakion and Troll. Eviolite nearly wins you the Terrakion matchup if you get it early enough, and it’s beneficial against Troll. Kyle on the other hand cites how useful Eviolite is in a ton of matchups. I honestly never got these results though in testing or in tournament.

Sure it made things harder to KO at time, but it never dramatically affected anything. I mean most of the time things were still either a 1-shot or a 2-shot KO regardless of the Eviolite. All of this being said though, I feel 2 is probably the right number mainly for the reason so that you get it when you need it.

It’s one of those cards that will never win you the game, but you’re never sad to draw into either. Kyle’s version had the room for the second copy and mine did not mainly due to needing to play the 2 copies of Skyarrow Bridge.

8 Lightning Energy Vs. 9 Lightning Energy

pokemon-paradijs.comThe olds days of play 15, 16, 17, or even more energy are certainly behind us. Now you simply play as few as you think your deck can get by with, and the energy acceleration provided by Eelektrik certainly helps this. With this deck I feel it’s less of an issue of actually “running out” of energy and more about being able to get that attachment from hand when you need it.

You really don’t want to rely solely on Dynamotor as your only means to attach energy. I always felt 9 was the perfect number since I always seemed to have 1 when I needed it, but I never seemed to have to many. I think I tested 8 energy for a few games, but quickly went back up to 9 energy.

For right now I’m really going to stick with it and say 9 energy is the right play, but I’m certainly going to do more testing at 8 energy.

Updating Zekrom/Eelektrik with Dark Exployers

The really cool thing about Dark Exployers is each of the big decks in the format really got a boost pretty evenly. As for Zekrom/Eelektrik, it gained Raikou EX, Tornadus EX, Random Receiver, and Ultra Ball. Now personally I’m a huge fan of the artwork of the new Professor Juniper and N, so I definitely had to pick up some of those as well. Thankfully at .49 a piece on Troll and Toad it didn’t break the bank for me to do so.

Smeargle Version

Pokémon – 16

3 Tynamo NVI 38
3 Eelektrik NVI
3 Mewtwo-EX
1 Raikou-EX
1 Zekrom BLW
1 Thundurus EPO

1 Tornadus-EX DEX
2 Smeargle UD
1 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 Professor Juniper
3 N
3 Pokémon Collector

 

4 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Switch
2 Ultra Ball
2 PlusPower
1 Super Rod
1 Eviolite
1 Level Ball

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 13

9 Lightning
4 Double Colorless

Speed Version

Pokémon – 16

3 Tynamo NVI 38
1 Tynamo NVI 39
3 Eelektrik NVI
2 Mewtwo-EX
2 Zekrom BLW
2 Thundurus EPO
1 Tornadus-EX DEX
1 Raikou-EX
1 Bouffalant BLW 91

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
3 Professor Oaks New Theory
3 N

 

4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Catcher
2 Dual Ball
2 Level Ball
2 PlusPower
2 Eviolite
2 Switch
1 Ultra Ball
1 Super Rod

 

2 Random Receiver

Energy – 12

8 Lightning
4 Double Colorless

BulbapediaThe first thing to really take note of on these updated deck lists is that they really don’t look that different from the lists at Regionals. One of the biggest mistakes I think players make is making massive changes to their decks after a new set comes. All changes should stem from 1 of 2 things: changes due to a shift in the format (such as new decks), or updating the deck with cards from the new set.

All of the updates I made were due to one of these two reasons. First off I changed all the Tynamos in the Smeargle list to the 40 HP NVI one. I was already leaning toward this decision after Regionals simply due to how many times the 30 HP was nothing but a free prize for Tyrogue. The threat of Darkrai EX simply pushed me over the top, the benefit you gain from playing the 30 HP is simply not worth the risks you take.

Starting off, I switched Tornadus EPO to Tornadus EX. In a majority of situations you’re going to want that extra 20 damage. Going along with this, Tornadus rarely saw play in mirror, so not being able to use the EX won’t hurt that badly. The extra HP from Tornadus EX also puts it out of range of Black Belt and with Eviolite can even be a 3HKO for Terrakion at best.

Next I dropped Zekrom EX for Raikou EX. Basically I figure Terrakion might see an increase in play and I really don’t want to have 2 dead EXs against it. Going along with this, Zekrom EX was barely worth the spot at Regionals in my opinion and has now just shifted to the other side.

pokemon-paradijs.com

Next I switched both of my Pokémon Communication to Ultra Ball. Normally Communication is pretty dead with Junk Arm anyway and outside of that Ultra Ball is the superior card.

As for the speed version, I spent a lot of time discussing choices I didn’t necessarily see eye to eye on with Kyle. In the end though his list won Regionals and I didn’t feel comfortable about making major changes to it and then telling you it was the way to ran it. Instead I really just updated the list with Dark Explorers and left many of his card choices alone.

The drops were actually really easy with this deck and really don’t change its flow. I dropped Tyrogue because I feel with the threat of Darkrai people are going to shy away from those 30 HP basics (like I did). Pokégear 3.0 to Random Receiver is also pretty straight forward since the slight chance of choosing the better Supporter is not worth the chance of not hitting a Supporter at all.

Lastly I dropped a Dual Ball for an Ultra Ball just to add a bit more utility and consistency to the deck. It also offers the deck one more way to dump energy into the discard pile.

Darkrai/Weavile/Absol

Here on SixPrizes, Darkrai EX has currently been pretty popular and you’ve seen a few different lists for both Darkrai/Zoroark and Darkrai/Tornadus. These are certainly the two most popular ways to run the deck, and honestly both are pretty obvious combos, so I would expect to see both versions at Battle Roads.

Once the spoilers were released they were also the two ways I came up with to run the deck. So instead of throwing another one of these lists at you, I’m going to share one my side projects with you.

Pokémon – 14

4 Absol Prime
3 Sneasel UD
2 Weavile UD
3 Darkrai-EX
2 Smeargle UD

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
3 N
3 Pokémon Collector

 

4 Dark Patch
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Junk Arm
3 Dark Claw

2 Level Ball
1 Ultra Ball
1 Pokégear 3.0

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 12

8 Darkness [Basic]
4 Darkness [Special]

pokemon-paradijs.comThe deck plays very similarly to both Darkrai/Zoroark and Darkrai/Tornadus, but doesn’t have some of the big issues that I have with the previous decks. It’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of Smeargle, perhaps far more than I should be. I like how I’m able to run that consistency crutch in this deck where I can’t in Darkrai/Zoroark.

I also feel this version is less “combo reliant” than Darkrai/Zoroark since every time your opponent scores a KO you need another Zoroark and to fill your bench, etc. With this deck you’re just simply not as worried about all of that stuff and you’re more easily able to play from KO to KO.

I’m also able to play a much larger basic Dark count in this deck than I am in Darkrai/Tornadus due to the fact I don’t have to play DCE. I feel this more easily allows me to take advantage of Dark Patch and have a stronger early game.

The deck is very straightforward and your ideal starter is going to be Absol Prime. While its Body is the reason that we run the card, it’s also a very good attacker. While running 4 might seem like overkill, it is really important that we start with it. Since we’re also using it as an attacker and its attack forces us to Lost Zone a Pokémon we can justify devoting the space to it.

pokemon-paradijs.comSneasel and Smeargle are both very solid starters as well, just not quite as good as Absol Prime. Even the worst starter, Darkrai EX, isn’t totally dead thanks to its Ability. Starting Darkrai basically forces us to accept we won’t go off turn 1 and focus more on the turn 2.

The strategy of the deck is to go aggressive with Absol Prime at the start of the game and transition into Darkrai when you’re able to. The splash damage caused by both Absol Prime and Darkrai EX should make it easier to not only set up 1HKOs, but also multiple KOs in one turn.

The deck is really nasty when the set up goes off right and you can stick an Absol Prime (i.e. your opponent doesn’t have Catcher). I won’t vote this deck as tier 1 or the right way to play Darkrai EX, but I do feel the deck has some potential and is worth a look.

Groudon EX

Bulbapedia

With Zekrom/Eelektrik dominating Regionals and Darkrai EX being a real threat coming out of Dark Explorers, Fighting might just be the best type in the game right now. As for the best Fighting deck in the format, that’s most likely Troll (Terrakion NVI/Landorus NVI/Tornadus/Mewtwo EX).

A huge pet peeve of mine is the weird deck names everybody seems to have to give decks now days. Back in my day (just to make me feel old) deck names were always made around the actual deck MewTric (Mew EX/Manectric EX), Ludicargo (Ludicolo/Macargo), etc. Now days though people seem to have to come up with names like Primetime and don’t even get me started on Legos.

[Editor’s Note: Laughing and nodding my head.]

So while I’m not a huge fan of the name, it is much easier to type out Troll than having to write out the name of all of the main attackers. I also like that it shows a really distinction between itself and straight Terrakion so there isn’t confusion when talking about the deck.

While straight Terrakion has its moments, it’s far too linear of a deck for me since it really lacks options. This gets it in trouble when it’s playing decks that aren’t fighting weak such as CMT.

Now I pretty quickly wrote Groudon off when I first looked over the set, and I even traded one off at our prerelease not thinking twice about it. However, once I sat down and really read the card I thought it might have some potential. Its first attack allows the deck another good turn 2 option. While 20 damage certainly isn’t impressive, the 10 spread actually isn’t too bad.

One of my biggest issues with Troll is that it really doesn’t have anything that can hit hard since 80 damage really isn’t that impressive in the later stages of the game. A couple of spreads in the early/mid game from Groudon can really bring a lot of things into that 1HKO range.

As for the deck needing a heavy hitter, Groudon EX’s second attack fills that roll as well. While I wasn’t overly impressed with [FC] for 20 and spread, [FFC] for 80 and quite possible 120 damage isn’t bad at all. It also has Lightning resistance and Water weakness, but even with the new Empoleon getting some hype, I doubt this will be an issue.

Let’s take a look at my updated Groudon EX/Troll deck.

Pokémon – 11

2 Tornadus EPO
2 Groudon-EX DEX
1 Tornadus-EX DEX
1 Landorus NVI
1 Shaymin UL
2 Mewtwo-EX
1 Tyrogue HS
1 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 Professor Oaks New Theory

3 N

 

4 Junk Arm
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Dual Ball
4 Exp. Share
3 Switch
2 Random Receiver
2 PlusPower
1 Super Rod
1 Ultra Ball

Energy – 13

9 Fighting
4 Double Colorless

The Pokémon lineup is a bit different than a standard Troll deck, but there are reasons for all of the numbers.

2-1 Split on Tornadus: In many cases the EPO Tornadus is still going to be your go to attacker, while the Tornadus EX is more of a situational attacker. Energy on the board is just so precious for this deck and Tornadus EPO is amazing at diversifying it and keeping it safe.

2 Groudon EX: Just because we added Groudon EX to the deck doesn’t make him the focus. One of the big things about Troll is it runs a diverse group of attackers for different situations and the deck really doesn’t rely on just one.

1 Terrakion: I actually originally had this cut from the list, but I added back in when I realized how much I wanted the deck to have a 2 energy attack for 90 (180 if they are Fighting weak). With both Groudon EX and Landorus in the deck, I felt Terrakion was more of a situation attacker (warranting the 1 copy) than a go to attacker on a regular basis. I’m not completely sold on this though and I may try and bump it back up to 2.

Playing the Deck

One of the biggest issues I have with the deck is it really lacks a good turn 1 option. This is why I play single copies of both Tyrogue and Landorus. Despite giving Tyrogue a pretty cold review in Zekrom/Eelektrik, I really like it in decks that don’t have energy acceleration or lack an otherwise strong turn 1 option. It’s less about donking someone and more about having an option if you don’t have an attacker powered up.

It’s also about your best turn 1 option, since it has free retreat and can get some early damage on the board. Both of these things help set you up for the big turn 2 plays the deck can make. It also has some synergy with Groudon EX’s spreading bring more things into its KO range.

Landorus is your only other good turn 1 option, although it is highly situation. Basically you have to get Landorus active (quite possible with 3 Switch), a Fighting under him, and a Fighting in the discard. This certainly isn’t a situation that will come up for you every game, but it is 1 more trick in your bag. Not only is a turn 2 Gaia Hammer pretty threatening, but there is some synergy there with Groudon EX.

pokemon-paradijs.comTurn 2 is where things can really get interesting with this deck. The two strongest options are to either attack with Tornadus (if you have a DCE) or spread with Groudon EX. Both are very strong options although I do prefer spreading with Groudon early if I feel he is going to be one of my major attackers in that particular matchup. The reason for this is early in the game your opponent probably won’t be able to put much pressure on Groudon EX and later in the game the damage output is simply too low.

The third turn gets a bit more tricky since you can either spread again (ensuring the extra damage from Groudon) or get your 3rd energy drop under Groudon EX and start swinging. A majority of the time your turn 2 decision is going to be made by where you placed your energy drop turn 1, but Shaymin can give you a bit of flexibility here.

Knowing when to spread with Groudon is the hardest decision I’ve found when playing this deck. I really have to look at future turns and determine when that extra damage might matter. I also have to think about what attackers might need this extra damage.

For example I might not need the extra 10 damage to score a KO with Groudon EX, but I would need for Tornadus. It’s a lot like chess and you have to predict how the trade-offs will go. A lot of making these calls is just becoming familiar with the deck.

Mail Bag

One of the goals I try to have with my articles is to always make it as relevant to the you the reader as possible. In another effort to do this I thought I would try something new and answer a question/s that are either sent to me or asked on the forums. If you like this idea or want a question answered, shoot me an e-mail and include your name/screen name if you want that as part of it as well.

So this is a question I saw on the message boards a month or so ago. I wanted to talk about it because I feel it’s a pretty common situation that players find themselves in. I’m paraphrasing so forgive me here:

“At the start of the game if my opening hand contains both a Professor Juniper and a Professor Oaks New Theory, which one should I play?”

Now normally I like to play the PONT in this situation since you’r only getting 1 less card and you’re adding a Supporter back into your deck. This slightly increases your odds of drawing another supporter off the PONT or drawing into one after a late game N.

This answer reflects what I would do a majority of the time, but not all of the time. There are other factors to look at here such as the deck your playing, playing against, and the game situation.

BulbapediaSo let’s look at some other situations where I would actually want to play the Professor Juniper. If I’m able to play down a majority of my hand and the only resource I’m really losing is the PONT, then I might play the Juniper. Another situation would be is if there is something else in my hand I want to get into the discard pile such as a Lightning Energy or Darkness Energy for example. Another factor would be how many Supporters I ran. If I ran 14-15 it would be much easier to discard the extra PONT than if I only ran 11-12.

Now looking at the actual game situation a scenario would be if I’m either trying to “go off” and I’m only missing 1-2 cards. Playing PONT would put cards back in my deck I don’t want to draw in this situation. This would heavily depend on what other resources were in my hand, how badly I would need them later in the game, and how badly I feel I need the turn 1.

On the opposite side of the coin is if I only have 1 Basic and I feel like it’s going to get KO’d next turn. In this situation, the resources I have in my hand factor into my decision far less. There really not a ton of point of planning for a mid and late game that never materializes.

Lastly is what deck you’re playing against, although this probably figures into the decision making process the least. Sometimes it is clear cut though. For example if you’re playing against Durant, playing PONT is a pretty easy call. In other matchups though it’s really about weighing how badly you need the resources you have in your hand for that particular matchup.

Conclusion

I think Regionals showed just how dominant Zekrom/Eelektrik is in the format. Dark Explorers gave the deck a huge boost as well. My last couple of articles have really gone into depth about the deck: discussing different versions, the importance of different card choices, as well as how to play the deck. I’m really hoping you enjoyed reading them and got a lot out of it.

Later this month though I’m going to be switching gears and really analyzing another of the big 3 decks: CMT. I also went a little less mainstream in this article and talked about a few side projects I was working on. Please don’t think just because I didn’t cover Darkrai/Tornadus and Zoroark/Darkrai that I don’t feel they are Tier 1. I just felt like they were popping up in everybody’s article and the builds were just a few cards different each time.

While I certainly did enjoy reading the other writers viewpoints on both decks, I did find they kind of all seem to blur together and I wanted to stand out a bit more and keep things fresh.

Summer classes for me started this week, so while surviving those I’m going to be looking forward to Battle Roads. I plan on hitting some up in Wisconsin, Nebraska, and possibly Minnesota. In the meantime I’m wishing everybody luck at Battle Roads, and please do the same for me and classes.


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