I have been playing Pokémon for two and a half short years, but luckily I have managed to pick the game up pretty easily. From 5th grade until now I have always been involved in some kind of card game starting with Yu-Gi-Oh, moving into VS System, Magic, and now poker and Pokémon.
While my list of accomplishments is nowhere near the level of what other writers on SixPrizes have achieved, I am very happy with them for fairly short time I’ve been playing the great game of Pokémon.
2009: Played in my first tournament: the North Carolina State Championship. I went into this tournament playing Magmortar SW/Infernape DP, where I ultimately learned that the current metagame consisted primarily of Kingdra LA and Palkia G decks. This was my one and only tournament in 2009.
2010: I began frequenting PokéGym and actually started to play established decks. I attended 1 Battle Road and 1 City Championship, missing top cut at both. I went 4-2 at two States and made top 16 at Regionals.
2011: I attended many more events this year and finally started to see some success. I won 2 Battle Roads, 2 Cities and managed to make the top cut in 5 other Cities that year. I also received a very nice medal for 3rd place at Regionals. That made me 2 for 2 top cutting Regionals, both years with DialgaChomp.
2012: Now I am starting to take this game very seriously. I have learned so much this year through rigorous play testing, online articles, and talking with friends. I have attended more events than just about everyone other than 2 time champ Jason K. During Fall Battle Roads, I won 3 of the 6 that I attended – losing to Mike Reynolds in the finals of another Battle Road to earn my first 2nd place Victory Cup as well as a single Championship Point.
For Fall Regionals, I played Yanmega Prime/Magnezone Prime with a 2-2 Zoroark BLW tech, cruising to an 8th place finish and 5 Championship Points. During States I was able to make top 4 during week one, losing to my very good friend, Erik Nance. Week two, I bombed out with a 4-3 record, and week three I bubbled out as 17th place with a 5-2 record.
For Spring Regionals, I did virtually no testing beforehand. Somehow I still came through with a 10-2 record for a 4th place finish, giving me a 4 for 4 top cut ratio at Regionals. I have attended six Spring Battle Roads. I’ve won three of them, and bubbled out of one at 4-1. I went 4-2 at the next and finished 3rd at the last.
Right now, I’m sitting at 53 Championship Points, which is good enough for 10th in North American Masters, as well as an ELO rating of 1896.
If there is anyone left who sat through my very detailed, and very lengthy introduction, let’s get to what you really came to this article for! This article will not be a typical tournament report – instead, I aim to bring you into my thought process when creating the deck; as well as how I approached each individual deck that I played against.
For my first five Battle Roads I played an almost identical Darkrai EX list each time. I even escaped one weekend with a perfect 15-0 record. Want to know the secret to my success?
Deck Choice and the Power of Simplicity
Amidst all of the crazy hype of a new set being released; everyone wants to try out new ideas and different ways to play their favorite decks. This is perfectly acceptable especially considering that Battle Roads are usually just considered entry-level tournaments without much on the line to compete for. However I decided to capitalize on a different approach hoping to earn the last few points I needed to secure my worlds invite for this year in beautiful Hawaii.
I decided it might just be best to keep things as simple as possible. In my Darkrai list, I played zero Dark Claw, zero PlusPower, zero Special Dark, zero Skyarrow Bridge and zero Tornadus EX. Instead, I focused on keeping my EXs alive. With the extra space I was able to include the full four copies of Smeargle UD to gain bundles of early game consistency as well a near 40% chance to open with my preferred starter, allowing me to save my copies of Ultra Ball, Dual Ball, and other valuable resources to search out my attackers to start applying pressure immediately.
I was getting very lackluster results with Tornadus EX and felt that Mewtwo countered Fighting just as well as Tornadus EX. I also loved the early aggression it allowed me to use against Eelektrik-based decks. There were quite a few games when I Knocked Out a Tynamo turn 1 and turn 2, then transitioned into a couple of fully powered Darkrai to sweep the game.
Often when I sat down to begin a new round, I soon found out that I was faced with a mirror match. I played 8 mirror matches that I can recall off of the top of my head with only one loss when my lone Smeargle was so kindly introduced to a fully powered Tornadus ex on the first turn of the game. Through all of Battle Roads, I felt like I had a list and strategy that gave me a very strong matchup against the standard Darkrai list.
Shaymin UL + Max Potion, and Countering Terrakion
Now you’re about to see where all the magic begins! This beautiful two-card combo won me game after game.
Outside of Terrakion NVI showing his pretty little face, there isn’t much that’s capable of taking down Darkrai in one hit. Throw an Eviolite on Darkrai and you can even find the big bull running home for his mommy.
Because of this, I’ll let a Darkrai take a hit (usually 2 hits with Eviolite) retreat to a fresh Darkrai, and then use Shaymin’s Celebration Wind to move all of the energies to the new Darkrai. I’ll then use max potion on the old Darkrai, losing no energies but healing all of the damage, effectively rendering my opponent’s last few turns useless. So far, nothing in this game has been more satisfying for me than seeing the way my opponents react when I heal 140+ damage off of one of my big EXs – especially when they overextend their resources trying to do so.
Naturally, after the first week of Battle Roads, other people in my area started to realize how strong Max Potion really is, so I began to face mirror matches where both of us had the Celebration Wind + Max Potion combination at our disposal. I won a majority of these matchups simply because my opponents brought up every Smeargle that I put down using Pokémon Catcher to take cheap prizes, while I focused everything on wearing down their Pokémon-EX.
There were multiple instances where I was able to put 30 damage on a benched Darkrai three times netting me a 1HKO when they powered it up and brought it to the Active Spot, giving me a huge advantage. By applying early pressure on the EXs, they were forced to burn their Max Potions way before I used mine, so when I stopped benching Smeargles, I was always able to prevent them from Knocking Out more than one of my EXs.
I felt like I had a huge advantage every time that I came across a Darkrai deck that did not have a Mewtwo EX of their own to fight mine – I even managed to get a 1HKO on a Darkrai! In the finals of one Battle Road, I played against Darkrai/Terrakion. I learned throughout the day that he did not play a single Mewtwo, Shaymin or Max Potion, so I was able to be very aggressive with Mewtwo as early as turn 1 if I started with a good enough hand.
I faced many decks that had teched Terrakion, but in a very large portion of the games, my opponent benched Terrakion before they were ready to use it so all it took to avoid the disaster was a Pokémon catcher. Even if my opponent retreated or used Switch on their Terrakion, I would simply catcher it again for the knockout.
One simple way to counter a benched Terrakion is refusing to knockout anything else on their field. Generally Terrakion is only able to use his first attack so instead of activating retaliate you can use a couple of catchers to kill the Terrakion before he’s able to unleash a world of pain on your defenseless little Darkrai.
In one of my top 4 matches I was paired against my friend Austin Tyner and his Quad Entei-EX deck. Unfortunately for him, I knew exactly how to crush Entei-EX. I started attacking with Mewtwo EX no later than turn 2 in both games, putting extreme pressure on his field before he was able to get enough energy on his Entei-EXs to attack with. After a few turns of manually attaching as well as using Dark Patch + Celebration Wind on a benched Darkrai, I was able to take out Entei-EXs in just one attack leaving him with no options.
Austin was not able to get off a single Grand Flame in either game taking zero prizes. There was nothing he could do about it that’s just how the matchup is. For this very reason I am completely against quad decks at the moment; they completely fold to any smart player with a Mewtwo EX in their deck. Sure the quad deck could add a Mewtwo to counter an opposing Mewtwo, but doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of a quad deck?
Zoroark decks were among the easiest matchups I faced. With Shaymin, Eviolite, and Max Potion, they never take out anything more than a few of my 70 HP Pokémon. They are forced to set up fragile Stage 1s while I’m pumping out bigger Basics. It’s important to be wary of using Night Spear against a Zoroark leaving it with 10 HP remaining, or you might seriously regret it when you read what Dark Rush does.
There was one matchup that I remember dreading so much going into another one of my top 4 matches. I was paired against Nick (one of the nicest people ever!) with Landorus NVI/Terrakion NVI/Donphan Prime. This actually turned out to be one of my easiest matchups as I powered up Mewtwo with Eviolite as soon as I possibly could – Knocking Out everything before he had enough energies to get much going. If they, too, have Mewtwo in their deck – proceed with caution.
As you could have probably guessed one of the most common decks I played against during Battle Roads was Zekrom/Eelektrik. If they did not play Terrakion then it was a piece of cake. With Darkrai, you’re able to score extra knockouts every few turns by targeting Tynamos first, then Eelektriks with Darkrai’s 30 snipe damage from Night Spear.
Darkrai is also capable of scoring a 1HKO on Zekroms that just used Bolt Strike making this matchup pretty easy. Settle for 2HKOs on everything else, rinse and repeat. If they teched a Terrakion then things got a little bit trickier, however it is still very winnable.
I think that I’ve covered how I approached just about very matchup that I faced during Spring Battle Roads. If you have any questions about anything at all in this article, please let me know and I will be happy to answer them! Want to see my 34-5 Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX decklist?
If I get enough likes/feedback on this article then I may write another soon including the exact list I piloted to 3 wins. I want to thank everyone that took the time to read my first article for SixPrizes – be sure to look out for more in the future!