Today’s article is going to be a type of mash up. My plan is to talk about the three decks I consider to be the ones to beat in the post-DEX format and then talk about some other decks out there. However, I also want to talk about a deckbuilding method from 30,000 feet down to the nitty gritty.
This method is not for everyone, but rather a guide to help those who struggle in this area. The easiest way to talk about the deckbuilding ideas is to walk you all through this deckbuilding process using the deck I am most comfortable with right now, CMT.
If you have not guessed by now, I think the three best decks are Zeels, Darkrai EX, and CMT. However, my testing results have been a little all over the place in how these three decks interact with each other. So, I am not sure which of these three are King and which is in third.
Decks need a focus or a mission statement, if you will. Obviously, every deck’s mission is “to win games,” but that does not give enough direction for any deck. The mission needs to be slightly more detailed than that. The missions should be “to win games by …….” For Zebstrika NXD/Eelektrik NVI (in the Professor Cup) the mission would be “to win game by getting a T1 Disconnect.” For Beheyeem NXD/Slowking HS (again in the Professor Cup), the mission would be “to win games through early hand disruption and top deck control.”
Most of the time people do not realize they are developing these overall statements, but they are. When someone looks through his/her binder and sees an interaction between two cards, say Reuniclus BLW and Vileplume UD, a mission is being formed. Great players do not lose sight of this basic idea, even if it is subconsciously.
However, the rest of the base (myself included) would be wise to write them down. By writing the statement down, the deckbuilder should be able to keep a clear and focused list flowing. The statement forces the builder to focus on how to optimally achieve your goal.
The mission of CMT is something like “to win games by using Forest Breath to attack first and to sustain attackers throughout the game.”
On aside, this overarching mission would also be called the strategy of the deck. Strategy is the long-term (over the course of a game) objectives to be met. Tactics are the specific decisions and actions to reach the strategic goal. It is not that big of a deal, but most people talk about player A’s in game “strategic skills” (A always plays the correct card, identifies the correct Catcher target, etc.). Those things are actually tactical decisions.
Once the overall mission is formulated, there are several things that need to be thought about. First, tactical goals should be established. These goals would be “to set up Emboar quickly” for MagneBoar. Or “to get Eelektriks out by turn two” in Zeels. Or “to take bonus prizes with Night Spear” for Darkrai.
Some sample tactical goals of CMT would be:
- To attack Turn One
- To threaten the entire board with an early attacker and Catcher (establishing board control)
- To abuse X Ball
- To use Forest Breath in the mid-late game to keep attackers coming
- To be consistent (you would be amazed at how many people forget or neglect this one)
And the list could keep going on.
Once the tactical goals are set, a needs list should be developed. A needs list is just as it sounds, it is a list of needs the deck must have, ultimately in the form of cards, to achieve its tactical goals. Also, remember to think about needs and not actual cards at the very beginning.
The nice thing about the needs list is that it can be less than 60 slots, or it can be more than 60 slots. However, when the deck list is in its infancy the focus should be internal and the needs should be kept to a minimum. This means that initially (in the deckbuilding stage), the focus should solely be on how to make the deck run, and not how it interacts with the other decks out there.
(It is important to think about interaction when thinking about deck concepts, and do not waste time on an idea that clearly will not work due to the meta.)
The skeleton needs list for CMT would look something like the following:
- 3 Energy Accelerators
- 4 Turn 1 Attackers
- 4 Mid Game Attackers
- 3 Board Control
- 14 Consistency
- 3 Pokémon Search
- 12 Energy
- 4 Pokémon “Retreat”
- 2 Comeback Cards
- 2 Damage Manipulators
- 1 Late Game Closer
- 1 Energy Recovery
- 1 Pokémon Recovery
That gets the skeleton list to 50 “needs.” (Remember, these are needs and not specific cards, yet.)
There might be more needs than those for CMT, but that list should be a good starting point. So, because the skeleton needs list is “set,” the process moves onto filling in the needs with actual cards.
Often the place to begin turning needs into actual cards is the Pokémon lines. Here, there are 12 obvious Pokémon “needs” (Energy Accelerators, Turn 1 Attackers, Mid-game Attackers, Late Game Closer). Since the deck is CMT, it should be obvious that the Energy Accelerators are Celebi. However, there are many options for the other slots. This is where the process begins to separate the good from the great deckbuilders. Great deckbuilders consider all the options to fill these needs and then pick the best.
Pokemon ParadijsTo fill the four Turn 1 Attackers, CMT can utilize Mewtwo EX, Tornadus EX, Tornadus EPO, Tyrogue HS/CL, or Regigigas EX. At this phase, there must be a critical critique of each option. There will not be that discussion right now, because CMT has been talked to death. For now, the four Turn 1 Attacker needs will be penciled in with two Mewtwo EX, one Tornadus EPO, one Tornadus EX.
To fill the Late Game Closer need there are again several cards to consider: Mewtwo EX, Shaymin EX, Tornadus EX, Regigigas EX, etc. If you noticed, several of the cards to fill the Late Game Closer role are already in the deck. In effect, this role has been filled by Mewtwo EX and Tornadus EX. There are already 3 Late Game Closers in the list.
This introduces an important concept: overlap. A firm grasp of this concept will also help to set apart the average from the better deckbuilders. There are a lot of cards that serve multiple roles within the game. This is why the final list of needs (that get fulfilled) may be more than 60, but the deck will stay at 60 cards.
Going back to the Late Game closer, personally I think Shaymin EX is the best closer in the game and not that hard to get out in CMT. Therefore, Shaymin EX is added to the list.
Finally, the Mid Game Attackers completely overlap with the Turn 1 Attackers. This is true in CMT, but not always the case in other decks. Thus, this need is filled with the same Turn 1 Attackers.
With the obvious Pokémon needs filled, our infant deck list is:
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 0
Energy – 0
After the Pokémon are out of the way, Energy tends to be the second place to go (at least for me initially). The needs list has 12 Energy needs. This is the second place to go because it is often easier than filling in the other needs. CMT can easily abuse Double Colorless Energy; so, four DCE are added. Also, Forest Breath only uses Grass Energy; so, the remaining eight needs are filled with Grass.
Now our actual infant list is:
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 0
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsNow that the “foundation” of the deck is built (also being easier portions), the process moves onto the remaining needs. First of the remaining needs to be addresses are the consistency needs.
The term consistency, here, refers to the ability to draw more cards and get through the deck. In this format, the available draw cards are Juniper, PONT, Copycat, N, Sage’s Training, Twins, Random Receiver, Pokégear 3.0, Cheren, Bianca, Judge, Team Rocket’s Trickery, etc. Obviously, some of the candidates are superior to others, but sometimes the decision can be difficult.
Since this is a CMT deck, the priority should be pure speed. CMT wants cards that draw as many new cards as possible. That leads to full counts of Juniper and PONT. Those two cards take up eight of the 14 consistency needs.
Next Random Receiver and Pokégear 3.0 get consideration because they are ways to get those two optimal cards. Spoiler alert: this will not be playing Pokémon Collector. Because there is no Collector, or other non-draw Supporters, the guaranteed success rate of Random Receiver is preferred. Therefore, two Random Receivers are added to the list, putting the deck at 10 consistency needs filled.
That leaves four needs. Well, those can be filled with more Random Receivers or draw supporters. However, to fill these four slots the Pokémon consistency options should be considered. In today’s meta there is no way to search out consistency Supporters (sigh… no Cyrus’s), but there are ways to search for Pokémon. The two main consistency Pokémon are Cleffa and Smeargle.
In CMT, one tactical goal is to attack for damage on turn one. That means, Cleffa’s Eeeeeek is not preferable. Thus, Smeargle is added to the consistency need list, leaving three open needs. The next best draw supporter after PONT and Juniper is N. So, three N are added to the list.
At this point, the list is at 33 cards:
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 13
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsFinally, the process moves along to fill the final skeleton needs. To fill the Board Control needs, Catcher is the best choice. The Damage Manipulators in the format are PlusPower and Black Belt. Since CMT plans to play from ahead, PlusPower is clearly preferable.
Moving onto the Comeback Cards, the best comeback card in the game is N. Other cards that could be categorized (loosely) in this role are Eviolite (KO denial), Super Scoop UP (KO denial), Max Potion (KO Denial), etc. However, for now the deck will rely on filling those two slots with N which overlapped into the Consistency needs.
The next category with many options is the Pokémon Search needs. In the current format, there is Pokémon Collector, Pokémon Communication, Dual Ball, and Ultra Ball that fit this type of deck. There are not enough Pokémon with less than 90 HP in CMT to warrant Level Ball. Also, only Gigas EX are Terrakion have 3+ retreat; so, Heavy Ball is ruled out.
Collector is not suited for CMT because the deck wants to use a draw Supporter nearly every turn. Without the guarantee of multiple Pokémon from Collector, Communication loses value. Therefore, the decision becomes Ultra Ball or Dual Ball. Personally, I like Dual Ball because there is a 75% chance of hitting at least one heads.
The two forms of recovery needs can be filled by several cards. Flower Shop Lady can get both Pokémon and Energy back. Super Rod can get both back. Energy Retrieval can get Energy back and Revive can only get Pokémon back. Super Rod fulfills both needs at once (overlap). The other things Super Rod provides are three “more” Energy or three “more” Late Game Closers or three “more” Mid Game Attackers.
Thus, after filling all the initial skeleton needs the deck is at 47 cards:
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 26
Energy – 12
That leaves 13 actual slots to increase the count of the skeleton needs.
The best card to immediately increase the need counts of every need that was filled with an Item is Junk Arm. By adding four Junk Arm, Pokémon Recovery is theoretically increased to five, Pokémon Search is increased to seven, Consistency is theoretically increased to 18, and so on and so forth.
The deck also wants more attackers to work with; so, add in Regigigas EX and another Tornadus EX. This ups the Turn 1 and Mid Game Attackers count. It would also be nice if the deck got more consistency out of the Energy Acceleration needs; so, the Celebi count can be upped to four.
Since we added an attacker with a large retreat cost and another attacker that benefits from SAB, the “Retreat” needs should be increased with more SAB and Switch. Add one more of each.
Board control is also critical. Therefore, another Catcher makes sense.
In addition, CMT likes surprise options in moving Energy around. So, Shaymin UL is added in, even though it does not meet a skeleton need.
Finally, we have two slots to fill. Adding more Pokémon Search is always a good idea if there is room and more Energy recovery is also a nice thing to have. So, one more Dual Ball and one Energy Retrieval are added.
Overall, that brings the decklist to 60 cards:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
There is the list, but what about that overlap thing? Well to demonstrate overlap, count the amount of theoretical needs that have been filled. The following are the number needs that were filled:
- 4 Energy Accelerators
- 6 Turn One Attackers
- 9 Mid Game Attackers (6 Pokémon + Super Rod)
- 9 Late Game Closers
- 16 Consistency Cards (Supports, Smeargle, Random Recevier, Junk Arm)
- 21 Energy (Energy + Super Rod + Energy Retrieval + Junk Arm. All of these could turn into energy drops. This number could be higher if you considered that Junk Arm will actually turn into 2 or three energy. But for simplicity’s sake we will only count each Junk Arm as one.)
- 6 Energy Manipulation
- 10 Retreat
- 8 Pokémon Search
That is a total of 83 “needs” that got filled, theoretically. That is the power of overlap. The higher that number can be pushed up, typically the better off the deck is, because each need can be met with more “out” cards. Thus, when a deck needs a certain category to come in to play, the probability of getting that “out” card has gone up.
Finally a list, so now what? Well, you go out and playtest, a lot. Playtesting is how you refine your deck ideas and lists. Actual testing is how you figure out how your deck interacts with the current meta. It exposes the weaknesses of the deck, the strengths of the deck, the good matchups, and the bad matchups.
After testing this list, a few things would become evident. 1) It is very fast. 2) It is very consistent. 3) It has a rough match up with Darkrai EX decks (not Zoroark decks…). How do you deal with this? You go back and look at areas where the final needs list is more than the initial skeleton needs list. Those are the areas that you can play around with card counts to find new answers to the deck’s weaknesses against the meta.
With CMT, Darkrai EX can be combated with Eviolite. So, one consistency card and one Energy Recovery card can be removed due to the high excess in those areas. Replace one N and Energy Retrieval with two Eviolite.
Thus, the final list looks like:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
There is the CMT list I wanted to provide this article. It is not perfect, but it is very solid. The areas that I am playing around with are Tornadus EPO and Dual Ball. I am not sure Tornadus EPO is needed, but having a non-EX attacker is a great thing. In addition, with plenty of draw cards, the deck has been able to get away with one less Dual Ball.
The other avenue many CMT builders are going is to put Terrakion into the deck. The thought process behind adding Terrakion is that Darkrai EX is CMT’s worst matchup, and Darkrai EX is weak to Fighting. Furthermore, the other big three deck (Zeels) is generally weak to Fighting. Again, Terrakion would come in handy against Zeels.
Being 100% honest, I am not a huge fan of the splash Terrakion idea. I do not think it is a bad idea per se, I merely think it is sub-optimal. I believe it is sub-optimal because it messes with the deck’s consistency. In my testing, against Darkrai EX opening with a Turn 1 Tornadus EX is very strong and the matchup around 50/50. Getting the deck to a place where it can reliably drop Terrakion requires a rather large overhaul. I have not perfected a Terrakion list, but here is the one I am working with.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 34
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 13
Pokemon ParadijsThe two interesting inclusions into this list are Energy Search and Energy Exchanger. The problem with Terrakion is the Energy requirements. With 13 total Energy, there should be at least one Energy card in hand at all times. Energy Exchanger turns that Energy into a Fighting Energy. In addition, Energy Search helps with getting Fighting Energy out of the deck at the right time.
The problem I am having is deciding between one or two Terrakion. Playing a single copy makes is so that it is prized too often. Playing two copies makes it too common of a starter. The high Switch count helps with the second problem. Thus, two copies with a high Switch count is the current working solution.
Here is the former undisputed BDIF. I was likely one of the last people to concede that Zeels was better than CMT, but the Regionals data was undisputed. Although I will hedge my bets by saying that CMT was not that far behind Zeels based on the total Top Cut numbers.
Well, every deck will go through changes when a new set comes out. Thus, the key is to consider the new toys a deck gets from the new set in comparison to the previous cards in the deck. Therefore, we need an old list to observe. Luckily, Pooka put his list out for everyone to see after his Regionals win.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
Now that there is a list out there, what did the deck potentially gain?
Raikou EX: This was one of the huge hype cards coming into the release of this set. The 100 damage to anywhere on the field really seemed like a great idea. Also, Raikou ditched all of its Energy, thus it is not that vulnerable to Mewtwo EX.
However, the more people have played around with this card (myself included), the more people realize it is just OK. If Vileplume UD sees a lot of play, then Raikou EX is a great card. It will allow Zeels to get rid of the lock in two turns. However, against everything else and Eviolited Zekrom and Pokémon Catcher does the job just as well most of the time.
Comparing this card to the current list, it could be a decent replacement for one Thundurus.
Ultra Ball: Zeels needs ways to discard Energy early. There is obviously Junk Arm, and some people still play Sage’s Training. Ultra Ball gets that job done. With Ultra Ball and Junk Arm, Sage’s in no longer needed and those people playing Sage’s can now stop. Focus on the faster Supporters.
Random Receiver: With many Zeels lists going to a Ball Engine, Random Receiver is strictly better than Pokégear 3.0. Pokégear’s tendency to whiff at crucial moments is unacceptable for this deck post-DEX. That means Pokégear is automatically replaced with Random Receiver.
Tornadus EX: This is, in my personal opinion, the best Pokémon to come out of the Dark Explorers set. This card is just too good and fits into nearly every deck. Here, Tornadus EX gives Zeels an upgrade to counter Fighting decks and another strong attacker.
Taking all of these new cards into consideration, my current testing list is the following:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsThis is a relatively straightforward Zeels list that focuses on just beating most decks in the face with high-powered attackers. It retains the high Mewtwo EX and Zekrom counts. It also keeps Bouffalant as a quick cheap attacker. Tyrogue is removed from the deck because most players are moving away from the 30 HP tynamo.
Skyarrow Bridge has been added simply because Tynamo needs free retreat and there are a lot of single retreat cost attackers in the deck.
One thing many people (at least according to most forums) are overlooking is the pure strength of Zekrom. Zekrom just will not go away and it gains power in a post-DEX world. Tornadus EX is the best (at least most versatile) EX in the set. Zekrom is one of the few cards that outright OHKO Tornadus EX, even if Tornadus EX has an Eviolite.
Furthermore, Zekrom 2HKOs all of the EXs in existence, save an Eviolited Groudon EX. Also, except the Fighting types (and Reshiram), nothing easily OHKOs an Eviolited Zekrom. Yes, Mewtwo EX can get off a four-Energy X Ball to take the immediate KO (or three Energy and PlusPower), but then that M2EX can be taken out by your M2EX.
Similar to the CMT problem, many Zeels players are looking towards adding Terrakion into the list. Again, I am not sold on the idea, but I understand it. I literally have not tested any list with Terrakion included. Therefore, I do not have an example list to show you.
There are obviously two main Darkness attackers in Dark Explorers that may be able to abuse the new Darkness-specific Trainers. These two are Zoroark and Darkrai EX. I firmly believe Darkrai EX will push its way into to the top tier of decks. Let us look at a sample list:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
9 Darkness – Basic
Tornadus EX: Darkrai EX is extremely weak to Fighting Energy. This is the natural counter to that problem.
Mewtwo EX: Grant me this time to go off on a little tangent. M2EX is still the premier EX in the game. Period. Darkrai EX does not kill M2EX. Darkrai requires three eEnergy to attack and it has a -20 resistance to M2EX. So, if Mewtwo EX has three Energy on it, M2EX 2HKOs Darkrai EX. It is an even resource trade.
Both can add Eviolite to turn the 2HKO into a 3HKO, but M2EX can simply add more energy to overcome Eviolite, Darkrai EX cannot. Even more, M2EX can load up with seven energy to OHKO Darkrai EX. Darkrai cannot OHKO a Mewtwo EX, ever.
Mewtwo EX will still be played, and played a lot. So a single copy of Mewtwo EX in Darkai makes sense to take an easy two prizes.
Smeargle: This is a very high Smeargle count. The deck needs to be extremely fast. Preferably, the deck wants to Portrait twice on Turn 1, or Turn 2.
Super Scoop Up: Some people are calling SSU the next Pokémon Reversal. It might be, but to a lesser extent. SSU can absolutely break a game open by hitting heads and it works as a psuedo-Switch. However, the players that work around SSU will be at an advantage.
Max Potion: In general, SSU is a more versatile card. However, often times Max Potion can achieve the same effect: to heal a Pokémon. With Dark Patch in the deck, Max Potion is a viable option because the Energy can be quickly returned to the field.
Obviously, I am not all knowing and I could be wrong, but I feel those are the three best decks in the format. Two of those three decks have a huge glaring weakness, Fighting types. That means the ground and pound type is the first place to look for meta counters.
There are many ideas floating around about which Fighting deck is the best to counter the meta, but here are simply three ideas.
BulbapediaThe most interesting thing about the Fighting honey badger is that there does not seem to be a consensus on how to run Groudon EX. There are essentially four overarching ideas, and of course, those ideas may be merged to form hybrids.
1. Quad-Bulls Style: The idea here is to play Groudon EX in the most similar way to Quad-Bulls. It is widely known that Fighting types do not have a solid form of Energy acceleration. To compensate for a lack of Energy acceleration, Exp. Share can be used to preserve Energy drops.
This idea worked brilliantly for Terrakion because it could attack for FC. However, this method loses some effectiveness with Groudon because it needs FFC to do any significant damage.
2. Rocky Helmet Heavy: Groudon’s second attack, Giant Claw, is fueled by damage on the Defending Pokémon. Rocky Helmet is one method to get damage onto the defending Pokémon. Obviously, Rocky Helmet and Exp. Share cannot be used on the same Groudon.
3. “Durant” Style: Some have described Groudon as, “Durant that takes prizes.” What that means is ultra disruption. Therefore, this style of Groudon EX focuses on lots of Catchers, Crushing Hammers, and Lost Removers. If your opponent cannot get Energy on the active, Groudon EX lasts longer.
4. Tank: Groudon has an excellent amount of HP, a great resistance, and a largely-irrelevant weakness (unless a lot of people play Empoleon DEX). To take advantage of those great baseline stats, Groudon EX can abuse Potion, Moomoo Milk, Life Herb, and Eviolite to stay alive longer. Groudon wants to avoid Max Potion because of a lack of Energy acceleration.
Personally, I like a combination of Rocky Helmet and Tank styles (with a pinch of “Durant”). The Helmet is my Tool of choice, with a ton of healing options, and about 3/4 slots devoted to Energy denial cards.
Pokemon ParadijsThe second style of deck is to utilize a toolbox of Fighting types. The three Pokémon to incorporate in this version is Landorus NVI (the preferred starter), Terrakion NVI (the cheap attacker), and Groudon EX (the tank/finisher).
Landorus is really a confusing card in this format. It both gained and lost power with the new set. First, Landorus (and the mono-Fighting toolbox) gained Ultra Ball. Landorus is very strong when you can open the game with two Fighting energy in hand and a way to discard one. Previously, the deck mainly relied upon Junk Arm and Juniper to discard the energy.
Now, Ultra Ball can also discard the Energy on turn 1 and net you a second Pokémon. Against Dark decks and Lightning types, a turn 1 Abundant Harvest virtually guarantees a turn 2 prize. Even more, Gaia Hammer sets up Groudon EX’s Giant Claw
On the flip side, all of the main decks gained Tornadus EX as a potential starter. With Tornadus EX, the Turn 2 Gaia Hammer becomes much less attractive. Tornadus EX laughs at Landorus’s attacks. In addition, Power Blast is merely a PlusPower away from OHKOing Landorus.
Because of the assumed prevalence of Tornadus EX, Ruins of Alph should become a more common play in most Fighting Decks.
In sum, there are great arguments on both sides of Landorus. The answer will likely unfold in the next couple of weeks as the format shuffles itself out and the true impact of Tornadus EX becomes evident. Otherwise, there is not much to add to this deck, aside from Groudon EX, from last format to this format.
This was the dark horse deck from the pre-DXE format. I honestly felt it was every bit as good as CMT and Zeels. I was highly skeptical until Mr. Pybas showed me its power at Missouri States. Furthermore, it should be highly noted that not a single Zeels cracked the Top 4 in the Cali Regional. It would appear that was because Troll was played in relative high amount there by pretty good players.
Moving into the post-DEX format, there are two main questions facing Troll.
1. Should Troll utilize Tornadus EX?
In case you did not know, Troll utilized Tornadus EPO as a starter to hit for 80 on Turn 2 last format. Now, Tornadus EX can hit for 60 on Turn 1 and then 100 on Turn 2. Is that worth an inclusion in the deck? For me the answer is yes, but likely not more than one copy.
The ability to start with Tornadus EX is simply too good to pass up. However, Tornadus EPO is still an extremely important card in Troll. The key here is that Tornadus EX is expected to lose the Troll player .5 Energy drops per turn when using Power Blast. Conversely, Tornadus EPO preserves Energy and diversifies the Energy across the board.
2. Should Troll utilize Groudon EX?
Quad-Groudon has been covered, so has Groudon in a mono-fighting deck. However, Troll is a different animal. Energy drops are of the utmost importance in Troll and the ability to attack for low amounts (two or less) of Energy is paramount.
Thus, Terrakion would still appear to be the preferred partner because its effective Energy requirements for 90 damage are FC. Comparatively, Groudon EX needs FFC to do any substantial damage. However, the ability to load up on Groudon EX and tank away is still very attractive.
At this point in time, one Groudon EX appears to me to be the ideal play. However, I am 100% willing to be proved otherwise.
So, with the two main questions answered, what would a deck list look like?
(Again, this is just my current testing list. Admittedly, there are some experimental cards in the list and it is not completely refined.)
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
Bouffalant: The Afro Buffalo just refuses to go away in my testing. The card is inherently good against Zeels because it is an easy way to stay afloat in the mid-game prize race. Also, it pairs extremely well with Tornadus EPO. Tornadus swings for 80 and Bouffalant swings for 90, equaling 170. With one or two PlusPowers, the two stacked together easily takes out any EX in the game.
Exp. Share: With the addition of Groudon EX, a higher Exp. Share count is an experiment I was willing to try. The idea is to Hurricane onto Groudon EX one Energy. Then use Exp. Share to get the second energy onto Groudon. Then you can drop the third Energy to attack with Giant Claw.
Switch: With Groudon, Terrakion, Bouffalant, and Mewtwo all having more than C for a retreat cost, a maxed out Switch count seems like a near necessity. The deck can get by with three Switch, but that can be playing with fire.
Dual Ball/Ultra Ball: This is one of the more difficult decisions in building this deck. Four Ultra Ball will consistently get you out any given attacker. However, because resources are very precious, discarding with Ultra Ball can be extremely costly. Alternatively, the deck could run on all Dual Ball, but the chance to hit double tails is very real. The 2/2 split has worked out fine so far, but this will likely still be played around with.
Well, those are the Fighting-type counters I think are best poised to see success. Now, here are my thoughts on some other decks.
BulbapediaHere is the second “major” dark deck to utilize the very powerful Dark Item cards. Typically, this deck runs a Pokémon line that looks something like the following:
Sometimes you see a 4-3 Weavile line.
The goal of the deck is to use Zorua’s Ascension attack on turn one to evolve into Zoroark and attack with Brutal Bash on turn two. If the bench is full of Darkness types, Brutal Bash swings for 120 damage. The deck can utilize SP Darkness Energy, Dark Claw, and PlusPower to swing for substantially more than 120 damage. That sounds great in theory.
However, in my testing this simply does not tend to work out a lot. The main nemesis of this deck, aside from the obvious Fighting weakness, is Tornadus EX (and to a lessor extent Darkrai EX). If it were not for Tornadus EX, DarkArk would be much more potent than it has been in my testing.
The problem is that if DarkArk goes first and hits the Turn 1 Ascension, CMT can hit Power Blast for 100 damage and take out the freshly evolved Zoroark. Then, Zoroark (if you get another one set up) will hit Tornadus EX for 80-120 damage, only to be OHKOd on the next turn. So, two or three turns into the game DarkArk will have already lost two or three prizes and possibly two Zoroarks.
Against Zeels, Zekrom trades evenly with Zoroark while being a basic. The flat truth of the matter is that Zoroark is a relatively resource intensive Stage 1 with highly variable damage capabilities. Zeels will send Basic after Basic at DarkArk, while DarkArk needs its Stage 1s to keep up while keeping a full bench. That is a very tall task.
Pokemon ParadijsTypically, what happened in testing is that DarkArk quickly abandons Zoroark and starts wailing away with Darkrai EX. It would make more sense to just play a Darkrai EX-focused deck. That is unless you need a budget deck and do not have Darkrai EX.
Do not get me completely wrong, Zoroark is a good card that will win a couple Battle Roads and play fairly well at Nats. Someone will get a tight list together and pull off some good results, but I think it will take a decent amount of “run hot.”
Not to bore everyone, but this deck is solid. It is not great. It is relatively cheap and a good way to break into the competitive scene. However, the Lightning weakness and nerfed Rare Candy will likely be too much for Empoleon to overcome.
Just like Zoroark, the deck has potential. A good player will figure out a good list and see some good results. However, streaming Stage 2 attackers will require a ton of “run hot” to see consistent success.
Aside from seriously working on my three top decks and my Fighting counter lists, I have three pet decks that I just cannot seem to get away from playing every now and then. This is the first one.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsThe basic idea behind this deck is to swing for 80 with Tornadus EPO early and move Water energy to Kyurem. For example, against Zeels, you Catcher an Eel and hit for 80. Repeat that two or three more times; so that all of your opponent’s Eels have 80 damage on them. Then you Glaciate to take out their acceleration.
Glaciate is also strong against CMT because Celebi and Smeargle will become easy prizes.
Mewtwo EX is also there to counter CMT and to be a big hitter when needed.
Tornadus EX is a great opener and just too good to pass up.
Kyurem EX is for the Groudon EX matchup. It is the only semi-popular attacker that can OHKO Groudon EX.
The problem is getting through a well-built Darkrai EX deck. Glaciate is good against the Smeargles sitting on the bench and Tornadus EX is very good against Darkrai EX. However, it might be worth teching in a Terrakion and two or three Fighting Energy.
Here is a video of an early version of the deck in action against a Zeels deck. Be warned that the list used in the video is an early prototype. The list above is a modified, newer version. Also, please be warned, the video is pretty raw and I’m not a good narrator. I tried to add some helpful insight, but it did not turn out that well.
The second glaring weakness in the three big meta decks is the complete reliance on Items. That means there is an opportunity for Vileplume. However, Raikou EX can prove to be a problem.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 27
Energy – 14
Pokemon ParadijsThe idea here is to obviously get a quick Vileplume. Ultra Ball is actually very good at accomplishing this. Once Vileplume is set up, you want to sacrifice a Pichu, Oddish, or maybe one Tynamo to buy time getting the Eels into place. After that happens, you want two Raikou EXs on the field. That way you can stream Volt Bolts every turn. You attack, then retreat and charge with the Eels.
Without PlusPower Raikou EX becomes very hard for most decks to handle. It is usually a 2HKO at the best, but often an 3HKO because of acceleration problems. Furthermore, it will at worst 2HKO everything in the game, except for Groudon EX. If Groudon becomes a problem, the deck has Tornadus EX to utilize.
Just like any lock deck, speed is the key here. A Turn 2 Plume wins games. Anything slower than that becomes a problem.
Finally, a tech Terrakion is something I have toyed around with to counter a fast Darkrai EX.
What would an article by me be without adding a bit about this guy. Let me be clear though, this is not a top shelf deck. I do think it is competitive, and by that I mean can get you to around a .500 record consistently and possibly reach the cut line.
Currently, the deck has a few things going for it.
- It greatly benefits from Ultra Ball.
- It is possibly the best N deck (aside from Empoleon/Magnezone).
- It can play just fine without any EXs.
Here is a list for the current times.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 34
Energy – 11
Because Afterburner can attach Energy anywhere on the board, Max Potion is a great card for this deck. Specifically, to clear damage off the bench when your opponent tries to use Night Spear or Volt Bolt to damage your Typhlosions.
– Durant: It is not dead, but it is not as great as it was previously.
Most of all, have fun at Battle Roads.
Personally, this is always a difficult time to write an article. When you put something out the day before (or day of) a new tourney season, you open yourself up to lots of validation or criticism.
Anyway, I hope the deckbuilding methodology serves some of you well. I know that for a lot of you, that was a waste of time reading. However, I also know a lot of people struggle with deckbuilding. I am simply hoping that putting a method (even if it is not the greatest method ever) out there will help some of you improve.