Fun For the Whole Family
Julia E. Sweet is Jay’s penname.

Writing a SixPrizes Underground article is a lot more difficult than it seems. Adam is great and gives us a lot of discretion on what we want to write about and the content of our articles. This of course also means that we have nobody to blame, but ourselves for a bad article.

It’s also a huge balancing act trying to choose a topic that the majority of readers want, but at the same time not ignoring the minority either. After all, SixPrizes has a large range of readers including players in all 3 age divisions as well as parents taking an active roll in their children’s interests. All of this being said, we also do our best to try and not overlap too much with other writers.

This, being the last article before Nationals, there really is a lot of information that I want to cover that’s going to appeal to people across the board. Esa did a great job of looking at a whole host of decks that might be popular.

This has led me to want to focus my article a bit more on 2 different decks. Darkrai is definitely the big deck out there right now and I’ve seen a ton of lists online, both good and bad. This has lead me to do a quick section talking about the pros and cons of net decking.

I also feel like there is a huge difference between the 3 different age divisions and I do want to discuss a bit about how Juniors and Seniors should prepare for Nationals differently than Masters.

Lastly, the Sableye/Darkrai/Crushing Hammer deck hasn’t really gotten a lot of attention on SixPrizes. I’m going to look at 2 different successful builds of the deck and than talk about how I arrived at my final build as well as how I play against the deck. We’re only a few days away from the United States National Championships and have a lot of information to cover.

The Dangers of Net Decking
Danger, Ash Ketchum!

I feel like this is a great intro into a very Nationals (which in turn means Darkrai) focused article. Back when I first got into competitive play in 2004, it was nearly impossible to find a good list online. Good players had such a huge competitive advantage they were almost never willing to reveal what they played.

This is far different from nowadays where having a good list doesn’t give you an advantage over the competition, rather it simply puts you on par with it. This mainly started to change back with the original “Top Cut” ran by Drew Holton in 2008 and now most of the credit goes to SixPrizes and TheTopCut.

I was originally very much against net decking, but over the years I’ve learned that straight net decking really isn’t that effective. I’ve also learned that simply going online and taking a list usually doesn’t result in good performances outside of occasional dumb luck. There really are several major mistakes people make when net decking. The biggest one is when people net deck bad lists, plain and simple.

Of course you can occasionally find a hidden gem in the PokéGym deck help section, but it is rare. The only places I really even bother to go when looking at or discussing decks is SixPrizes for the articles/boards and TheTopCut for the videos. To be fair, HeyTrainer usually is pretty good too, but be warned swearing is very common there.

Even with a really good solid list, a person needs to put in the time and effort to really learn the deck and of course make it their own. This is especially true with more advanced and complex decks. Sure, a person could pick up Darkrai the night before a tournament, get some decent opening hands, and perhaps do well with it. However, this usually isn’t the case with so many little decisions a person has to make playing Darkrai.

Fulop discussed this in one of his previous articles, but everybody’s playstyle is different. Even among some of the top players in the game you see noticeable differences in the same decks. Normally when working on decks this leads people to gravitate toward other people with similar playstyles. I love to work with Gino Lombardi and Con Le back when he played. They are very good players and we had very similar playstyles. They could offer me different points of view, but at the same time they weren’t what I considered to be out in left field.

pokemon-paradijs.comGoing along with all of this, another common problem I see is when people net deck a list and actually make it worse. More than just looking at a list, you really need to understand why the person played the cards that they did. Right now you see a lot of lists popping up from Battle Roads, and since they are smaller tournaments you end up with lists far more teched for local metas than National ones.

What I like to advocate is less about copying lists and more about looking at strategies. When I’m building a deck I’m not very familiar with, sometimes I’ll start from the ground up, but many times I’ll look at different peoples’ takes on it. I don’t want to copy their lists, but I do like to see what I like and don’t like about their lists.

For example when I was building my list for Zekrom/Eelektrik, I read a lot of the ECC reports and got a hold of a few different lists. I really liked how Tom Hall played Smeargle UD for extra consistency, but I didn’t like the Shaymin UL/Pachirisu CL combo since it took up so much bench space.

I really liked how Benjamin Behrens (the 2nd place finisher) played 3 Mewtwo EX, so that made it into my list. Once I had my base list and started play testing, I continued to make little changes and tried different techs until I found a list I really liked.

This is really what I find myself doing a lot when I read SixPrizes articles because I like to see different takes on decks. I might hate 90% of the deck, but that’s perfectly fine if there is one little thing about the deck I like or if there is different about it. Some of the best articles I’ve ever read were from people I strongly disagreed with, but were able to really make a good solid case and got me thinking.

This is why I normally try and discuss why I played certain cards in my deck and why I played the numbers I did. This way if you like one of my decks it will be easier for you to take it and really change and tweak it to your play style.

Juniors and Seniors

There is such a huge difference between the Juniors and Seniors Division and the Master Division. When choosing a deck for Nationals, it really important to understand the differences in metagame between these divisions. Most Seniors don’t like to admit it, but the Master division is a much harder division to compete in and there are many more quality players.

That’s not to say Juniors and Seniors don’t have good players. The exact opposite in fact; I know a small handful of Juniors and Seniors that I think would play just fine in the Master division. It’s more there is only a small handful of very talented players in these divisions with a much larger handful of really good Masters players.

This is why I usually recommend a very consistent straightforward deck for players in these younger age divisions. I feel these sorts of decks decrease misplays and give them a very strong chance to top cut.

Right now my favorite deck for both Juniors and Seniors for Nationals is Darkrai/Tornadus. The list I want to talk about today is very straightforward and very consistent. There is some room for personal preference, but I wouldn’t mess with the list too much for younger divisions.

Pokémon – 11

4 Smeargle UD
3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Tornadus-EX DEX
1 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 37

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


4 Junk Arm
4 Dark Patch
4 Dual Ball
3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Switch
2 Eviolite
2 Dark Claw


3 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 12

8 D
4 Double Colorless

Along with being really straightforward and consistent, I also feel that Darkrai/Tornadus is the most well-rounded of all of the Darkrai variants. A lot of the times in younger divisions you’ll see players playing what I would consider “bad counters.” They’ll play an all Fighting deck, for example, which might struggle against other decks, but have a strong matchup against straight Darkrai. Playing a well-rounded deck like this helps to avoid taking losses to players you shouldn’t due to simple type matching.

The deck is also really straightforward and easy to play which can be a huge asset if you’re a player who doesn’t have a ton of experience playing Darkrai. Please don’t think this version is only for players who don’t have a ton of experience with Darkrai. The well-roundedness of the deck makes it a great choice for honestly anyone at Nationals regardless of age or skill level.

The list I went with I did have more of a Junior or Senior player in mind. As you can tell I cut out many of the techs and little tricks that can be worked into Darkrai variants. If you’re dealing with a younger player or a player who has very little experience with Darkrai, I highly recommend sticking with a very straightforward version like this. I also stuck with very high counts of the cards, as you can see most of the counts in the Trainer lineup are in the 4s and 3s.

I feel the Pokémon lineup is pretty standard and has nothing do with my attempts to keep the deck simple. There is still a little bit of room for variation such as going down to 3 Smeargle and the Mewtwo EX count could be upped to 2. I went with 4 Smeargles mainly for the chance of starting with him. However, once the game gets rolling the 4th Smeargle really isn’t needed and it simply becomes discard bait for Junk Arm. Playing only 1 copy of Mewtwo EX is also open to debate. If you’re a person that prefers to attack with Mewtwo EX first I would recommend trying to fit in a second copy.

Moving on to the Trainers, all Supporter lineups nowadays usually revolve around the same 4 cards: Professor Juniper, Professor Oak’s New Theory, N, and Random Receiver. There is some player preference that plays into these decisions, but most copies of these cards should be in the 3s and 4s regardless of what deck you playing. There just simply aren’t enough decent Supporters in the format to see a ton of variation.

The 4 Junk Arm and the 4 Dark Patch are both pretty standard, and I’ll discuss the Dual Ball vs. Ultra Ball choice a little later in the article. The 3 copies of Skyarrow Bridge are to increase our chances of hitting Turn 1 60 with Tornadus EX, but this number could be dropped down to 2 for an extra spot.

In many of my early Darkrai builds I actually played 4 copies of Pokémon Catcher since it has some much synergy with Darkrai EX. I ultimately went back and decided on 3 for all of my builds due to them feeling too “techy” and not enough consistency. When I first started playing this deck I felt like 5 “retreating cards” were to high (3 Bridge and 2 Switch), but the more I played the deck the more I felt like both the 3 Bridge and 2 Switch were needed. The numbers may look high on paper, but I feel it’s the best split.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe last choice in my Trainer lineup is I went with a 2-2 split on Eviolite and Dark Claw. Both are just all around good cards and useful in a wide array of situations and against different decks. I opted to play Dark Claw over PlusPower because the deck doesn’t run Special D Energy and opposing Eviolite caused me a lot of problems. The one time extra 10 damage was simply not enough to make a difference in this situation. I also didn’t want to have to constantly be using my Junk Arms on PlusPowers.

The last thing to look at is the Energy lineup and as I just mentioned you can tell the lack of Special D Energy. The reason for this is just simply a lack of room in the deck. I feel 8 Dark is about the minimum you should be playing (although you might get away with 7) and 4 DCE is just too good when you’re aiming for an early Tornadus EX.

I worked around with a 7 Dark, 3 DCE, 2 Special Dark build, but I didn’t like it nearly as much. The other option would be to go up to 13 or even 14 Energy and incorporate Special Darks, but at this point your really cutting into your Trainer line up.

I feel the greatest attribute of Darkrai/Tornadus is its speed and well-roundedness in the current format. With this list I tried to maximize these two things by making the deck very fast and consistent. As I said the deck is not very teched at all, so while I would stick to a very simply straightforward version for a Junior or a Senior, a Master (as well as some Juniors and Seniors) on the other hand may be looking for a more teched version of the deck or some different options available to them. I’ll discuss different tech options as well as the pros and cons of them in the next section.

Player Preference

When I first started playing with Darkrai I thought all Darkrai decks at Nationals were going to be within a few cards of each other. The more I tested the deck and the more Battle Roads I played in, the more I saw just how much variation was possible. I want to look at some of the different variations and tech possibilities that the deck can incorporate.

I also want to stress in many cases I don’t feel there is a right or wrong way, but I do want to talk about the pros and cons and of course give my opinion.

Ultra Ball vs. Dual Ball

pokemon-paradijs.comOriginally I ran Ultra Ball due to the discarding effect helping to set up the turn 1, but lately this is something I keep going back and forth on. I found that most variations of the deck already run 4 Junk Arm and 3-4 Professor Juniper, combine this with Smeargle and the possibility of opposing Professor Junipers getting D Energy into the discard pile early has not been an issue.

The debate now has become consistency vs. the burning of valuable resources. If Dual Ball was an auto-grab of 1 Basic, it would be a much stronger card. The chance at 2 Basics is not a fair trade off of possibly hitting no Basics. Granted 75% chance is pretty good odds, but I’m hitting double tails enough it does give me pause.

My issue with Ultra Ball on the other hand though is I find myself burning valuable resources too often. Sometimes the discards are very easy like discarding extra Smeargles or D Energy. Other times the discards are much harder and I would rather have a 75% chance with Dual Ball than start discard Junk Arms and Dark Patches.

The fact you really can’t Junk Arm for the card either is another issue that I have with the card. Now I know you’re really looking for a “play this Ball over the other,” but I simply can’t give an honest answer to that question and this is probably a decision I’ll be going back and forth on until the night before.

What were currently doing in testing is when we draw into Ultra Ball or Dual Ball (whichever we’re running at the time) were paying a lot of attention to if we would rather have Ultra Ball or Dual Ball in the situation. Is our current choice better, worse, or the same as the opposite? I’m hoping by the time Nationals rolls around this is going to give me a pretty good idea of which I want to play.

Shaymin UL/Max Potion

Prize denial is a component that many Darkrai players incorporate into their builds. The bottom line is if you start out slower or behind your opponent in a mirror match, the only way you can win is if your opponent makes a mistake or your able to deny your opponent prizes. A lot of Darkrai builds run 1 Shaymin regardless due to how versatile it is.

Max Potion on the other hand is not nearly as versatile and requires your opponent to hit a Pokémon with no Energy (or possibly 1) or combine it with Shaymin to move your Energies on to a fresh Pokémon before using Max Potion on the injured one.

What makes the combo so effective is how easily searchable Shaymin is. This way you only have to draw into 1 piece of a 2 card combo. I would say this combo is moderately popular and I haven’t seen all variations run them, but enough that I am not surprised to see it pulled on me.

Dark Claw vs. PlusPower

pokemon-paradijs.comThroughout Battle Roads this is another thing that I saw a huge amount of variation on. Depending on the version and how you devoted your tech spots, most builds have 2-3 spots open for either or a combination of both. PlusPower is very universal and strong with cards like Tornadus EX or Mewtwo EX as well as Darkrai EX. The problem arises later in the game when you’re trying to push over a Pokémon with Eviolite or keep it in the 2HKO range.

PlusPower just simply isn’t reliable enough to do this without needing to hit more than 1 or Junk Arms. Dark Claw on the other essentially cancels out Eviolite keeping everything in that precious 2HKO range. In my testing I found PlusPower more preferable in the early game, but Dark Claw is considerably better in the late game.

Mewtwo EX

This card is seeing considerably less play than it did at States, but nearly all variations play at least a single copy. I find the 1 copy very useful to counter decks like Entei-EX or other decks that like to tank Pokémon. It also has the very obvious use of countering opposing Mewtwo EX.

The main question to really ask yourself is how often do you find yourself attacking with Mewtwo EX. If you find yourself going aggressive with it often, you’re probably going to want to play 2 copies. If you don’t find yourself going aggressive with it, then the single copy will probably be fine.

Sableye DEX

As of late, Sableye has gotten the most notable attention for its role in the Crushing Hammer Darkrai variant. However, what I would like to discuss is Sableye as more of tech in any Darkrai variant. I’m most certainly not purposing it as a replacement to Smeargle, rather a single tech copy for more situational uses. What I like most about it is how it has some use regardless of the stage of the game.

It’s great for grabbing back Random Receivers, Junk Arms, Dark Patches, etc. This also make it a great counter for the Crushing Hammer Darkrai variant. Discarding Energy with Crushing Hammer makes very little difference when you can simple grab back Dark Patches repeatedly.

It’s not a perfect counter by any means, but it does essentially stop them from simply trying to cycle Crushing Hammers on you. My main 2 issues with the card are that it takes an Energy to attack (a free attack would make this card so much better) as well as you have to waste a turn to attack with it.

Crushing Hammer Darkrai

I think by now most people have at least heard of this variation of Darkrai, but might not be extremely familiar with it. I give a lot of credit to this deck to both Dustin Zimmerman who won several Battle Roads with it in the Ohio area and Esa who won Finland Nationals with it a few weeks ago. Both of them had the same core strategy of the deck, but differed on the direction they went with it.

When I first heard of the deck, these were the two people that I really looked at two find out about the deck, the lists, and the strengths and weaknesses of the deck. What I plan on doing is taking a look at both of their builds talking about what I feel are the pros and cons and how it ultimately influenced by build of the deck.

This close to Nationals it’s very important to understand that all decks have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to understand and be realistic about them when heading into a major tournament. The greatest strengths of the deck in my option are its strong matchups against decks that rely heavily on Special Energy as well as decks without any real forum of Energy acceleration.

In both of these cases its very easy to repeatedly use Sableye to grab back Crushing Hammer or Lost Remover to bring your opponent to a halt while building up a Darkrai on your side of the board. Even if looping Sableye for multiple turns in a row isn’t possible, both Crushing Hammer and Lost Remover are useful cards in their own right over the course of a game.

My main issue with the deck is that it really relies on coin flips thanks to the high count of Crushing Hammer the deck plays. Normally I try to avoid flip cards in general, but this deck does make it slightly easier to get heads with Sableye constantly grabbing them back. However, I do feel the higher amount of coin flips is something to strongly take in consideration with how large Nationals is and how many rounds. The odds are that these coin flips will catch up with a player somewhere along the way.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe other issue is the deck has a very weak matchup against Vileplume UD. Of course Vileplume will see play, but I’m just not sure how much play it will see. All Vileplume decks have such an issue with time, especially in top cut, and it simply isn’t a deck choice that I see somebody making with the intention of winning the tournament.

I’ll be honest and also say this deck has so many coin flips it varies heavily from my personal play style. I originally got interested in this deck not because I was considering it as a very viable choice, but rather it was new and I really didn’t know anything about it. Regardless of the fact if you’re interested in playing the deck or not, it’s very important to know the ins and outs of deck to effectively play against it.

Once I built the deck and really started playing it, I realized it didn’t fit my play style, but I gained intimate knowledge on the how deck works and what is going through the mind of my opponent.

For reference, here are both Esa’s and Dustin’s builds. Just a quick note to remember when you’re writing articles to cite your sources. It might just be Pokémon decklists, but it’s still important to give credit where credit is due. It doesn’t take very long to get a negative reputation for stealing other people’s content.

Esa’s Build


Pokémon – 10

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Tornadus-EX DEX
3 Sableye DEX
1 Smeargle UD
1 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 37

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

4 Random Receiver


4 Crushing Hammer
4 Dark Patch
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Junk Arm
3 Ultra Ball
2 Eviolite
2 Enhanced Hammer
1 Dark Claw
1 Super Scoop Up

Energy – 13

10 D
3 Special D

pokemon-paradijs.comThe first thing I really noticed about Esa’s build was how much emphasis he put on Sableye running a full 3 copies and only 1 Smeargle. This makes Sableye far less of a side attacker and shows that it’s clearly the center strategy. The 2 Tornadus EX are used almost strictly as Fighting counters unlike Darkrai/Tornadus where it acts as a main attacker. With the lack of DCE and Skyarrow Bridge in the deck you’re not going to be able to put that early pressure on the opponent. An argument can be made for Mewtwo EX in the lineup as well, but all in all I really liked his Pokémon.

The first thing I noticed in the Trainer lineup was the 14 Supporters (10 Supporters, 4 Random Receiver) that Esa decided to run. The 1 copy of Smeargle took me back a bit in the Pokémon lineup (it’s not my play style), but I’m glad to see that he compensated for this by playing a higher Supporter count than most decks. The 4 Crushing Hammer, 4 Dark Patch, and 3 Pokémon Catcher I feel are all pretty standard as well.

I discussed earlier some of the pros and cons of Ultra Ball vs. Dual Ball. Although in a deck like this, you’re really not relying on Junk Arm to get back the Ultra Ball (as well as being worried about questionable discards), so I’m leaning more toward Ultra Ball. The 3 Junk Arm I’m not a big fan of in a deck with such a wide array of Trainers to get back. I understand that it’s less needed with 3 Sableyes, but the difference between using an attack to get it back and getting it immediately is huge.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe 2 Eviolite is the right call when you’re also trying to find room for Dark Claw. Just the 1 Dark Claw for damage modification seems a bit low to me and I would have liked to seen a second, but I understand that room is always an issue. The 1 Super Scoop Up, also seems really random to me even with Sableye. If I feel the deck I’m playing warrants Super Scoop Up I like to run 3-4 copies. I understand the 1 copy might be situationally good for prize denial or the reuse of a Shaymin. Although I think just playing 1 copy of a flip card is simply to situational to warrant the 1 spot.

The last thing is the 2 Enhanced Hammers Esa played over the far more popular Lost Remover. The 2 cases off the top of my head where I could consider this making a difference is Steelix Prime and Klinklang EPO. While these 2 cards never see any serious play, it’s simply not a risk worth taking, despite having such nice feng shui.

All in all I really like Esa’s list, and many of the things I didn’t like came down to personal preference and my individual issues with a deck like this. Dustin and Esa both used the same core strategy of reusing Crushing Hammer with Sableye. Dustin on the other hand though went with a very different approach to the deck than Esa did.

Now let’s take a look at the list Dustin Zimmerman won several Battle Roads with.

Dustin’s Build

via: (And as I said before, the site is more of M rated site, common with swearing so please be warned.)

Pokémon – 11

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Sneasel UD

2 Weavile UD
2 Sableye DEX
2 Smeargle UD

Trainers – 38

3 Professor Juniper
3 N
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Random Receiver


4 Junk Arm
4 Dark Patch
4 Crushing Hammer
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Ultra Ball
2 Dual Ball
2 Dark Claw
2 PlusPower
1 Switch


2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 11

9 D
2 Special D

pokemon-paradijs.comLooking at the Pokémon lineup we can quickly see how Dustin went with more of a control orientate Weavile variation while Esa opted for the counter fighting Tornadus EX variation. Also I think this might be the first version of Darkrai that I’ve seen that runs an evolution. While I really like the idea, I feel like Smeargle is just being to heavily played right now for Weavile to be extremely effect.

Going along with this, since most decks are just “Big Basic Decks,” it’s much harder to lock them than an evolution deck for example. Even with all of that being said though, I’ve seen key Claw Snags win games. The last big thing to note about Dustin’s Pokémon lineup is that he went with a 2-2 split with Smeargle and Sableye. This really follows my play style more so than Esa’s 3-1 split with heavy Sableye.

Moving on to the Trainer lineup I see that Dustin played considerably fewer Supporters/Random Receivers than Esa did. While I felt like Esa was very high at 14, I did understand it more so due to the lower Smeargle count. However, I feel Dustin may be a little low for me at 11. As for other counts 4 Junk Arm, 4 Crushing Hammer, 4 Dark Patch, and 3 Pokémon Catcher all feel right to me. Esa claimed to like 3 Junk Arm, but in a deck like this with such a wide array of Trainers I don’t see how you don’t run 4.

For his Pokémon search, Dustin ran a total of five: 3 Ultra Ball and 2 Dual Ball vs. Esa’s 3 Ultra Ball. I think the Weavile variation definitely needs to run a higher Ball search count, but I honestly think I might run Level Ball over the Dual Ball.

pokemon-paradijs.comIf I’m going to devote so much space to Weavile I want to make sure that I can get the most use of it. The times Weavile is going to be the most effective is off of a late game N, which mean I need an easy way to search him out in this situation. Having 2 copies of an easy search card to top into is nice, but the real benefit is that I can grab it with Junk Arm. This is something that is just not feasible with Ultra Ball.

Coming up on the end of the Trainers I can also see that Dustin went very heavy with the Damage modifiers with both 2 Dark Claw and 2 copies of PlusPower. I think this is a lot heavier than most variations run and its not whether the cards are useful (who seriously doesn’t like PlusPower or Dark Claw?), it’s what cuts had to be made to make room for them. I think we really see that with Dustin’s lower Supporter count and single copy of Switch. I can’t say it’s wrong, rather it’s his personal style. I don’t think the average player would feel comfortable playing this way.

We really only see a small variation in the Energy between Dustin’s build and Esa, but it’s definitely a difference worth noting. Dustin plays 11 Energy with a 9 Basic and 2 Special split, while Esa on the other hand plays a much larger 10 Basic and 3 Special split. Some people swear by 13 while others are perfectly comfortable playing only 11.

My main issues with Dustin were the direction that he took the deck by adding in Weavile. I found myself clicking though with his lower Energy count and less random techs. My personal play style for the deck really falls somewhere in between the two of them.

My Crushing Hammer Darkrai Deck

So I took a deck that I really didn’t know much about, did some reading and looked at a few different successful variations of the deck. At this point I’m feeling like I got a pretty good grasp on the strategy of the deck and I found some things I really liked and didn’t like about the lists that I looked at. At the time of writing this I’ve also gotten a few games in which also effected a few of my decisions.

Pokémon – 10

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Tornadus-EX DEX
2 Sableye DEX
2 Smeargle UD
1 Shaymin UL

Trainers – 39

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

4 Random Receiver


4 Crushing Hammer
4 Dark Patch
4 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Ultra Ball
2 Lost Remover
2 Eviolite
2 Dark Claw


2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 11

9 D
2 Special D

As I talked about in my 2 reviews I really wasn’t a big fan of Weavile right now since it’s so hard to lock decks with Smeargle. Speaking of Smeargle though I’m such a big fan of the card I need to play at least 2 copies of it. I feel the 2-2 split allows me easier access to the one I need in the current situation. I do feel this is more personal preference than anything though and 3-1 (Sableye/Smeargle) works well too. I also really like how good Tornadus EX is against Fighting decks, but extremely useful against a wide array of other decks at the same time.

pokemon-paradijs.comOne of the last switches I considered was to actually drop a Darkrai EX and add in a Revive. I feel like this would give me a bit more flexibility with my 2-2 Smeargle/Sableye line and 5 EX was certainly more than enough attackers. I ultimately decided against this because prizing a Darkrai could really hurt you over all if you weren’t able to dig out the Revive quick enough.

The Supporter line up does allow for a little bit of flexibility, but basically you have 12-14 spots to play your combination of Juniper, N, PONT, and Random Receiver. A quick point I want to make here is Random Receiver is not a Supporter although many people (myself included) count it as one when writing up lists.

Most decks now days play a combination of Supporters and Random Receiver that is in the 12-14 range. Counting Random Receiver as a Supporter works great when your trying to figure out what are the odds you’ll open with one.

However, whenever you play Random Receiver and than the Supporter you grab your dropping this number by 2. This can create issues later in the game where it’s harder to get a Supporter. There are advantages to Random Receiver that Supporters don’t have such as you can grab it with Sableye or Junk Arm. This probably won’t effect your deck building or playing much, but it is something to keep in mind.

pokemon-paradijs.comI think 4 copies of both Crushing Hammer and Dark Patch along with 3 Pokémon Catcher is pretty standard. As I discussed earlier with such a wide array of Trainers I also like to play 4 Junk Arm. One of my biggest issues with Ultra Ball is the fact that you really can’t Junk Arm for it. However, playing Sableye to easily grab it back off set this enough that I found Ultra Ball a pretty easy play.

Playing 2 copies of Lost Remover is probably the right call looking on a Nationals meta. I feel in the future at smaller tournaments like Battle Roads or Cities (which I suppose were talking about Enhanced Hammer) this decision should be more meta based and range from 1-3. Now I went with a 2-2 split on Eviolite and Dark Claw vs. Esa’s 1 and Dustin’s 4. For me this decision was really balancing room and 4 copies of Tools is about the max I want to run in a deck like this.

I play 2 Skyarrow Bridge for a few different reasons, first off with 2 copies of Smeargle I put a bit more emphasis on it than Esa does. The second reason is I feel the card is really needed with Tornadus EX even without playing DCE. The 2 energy for 60 damage is pretty solid in general and extremely needed against fighting decks. Against most fighting decks you need to be able to put early pressure on the opponent and can’t simply rely on your opponent always having a Skyarrow Bridge in play.

pokemon-paradijs.comAs for what is missing from the deck is Switch, Super Scoop Up, basically some sort of switching card. The main issue for this was once again room (this reason gets used a lot in this format), I simply just didn’t want to cut key cards out of the deck to make room.

Lastly my Energy lineup was a balancing act between what I feel I needed and devoting more room to my Trainer line up. Needing to play only D Energy allows the deck a bit more flexibility than Darkrai/Tornadus has and in my opinion lets the deck get away with a slightly lower energy count. Also the deck has very easy access to Dark Patch which really relieves fears that people might have of playing a lower energy count.

Just from writing this article I learned a considerable amount about the deck, how it plays, and how to play against it. Researching, building and then physically testing a deck teaches you so much more than just reading about it. I really hope my efforts weren’t just self-serving and you learned a lot from this article as well.

Either way I strongly recommend that you build the deck and test it for yourself. Even if for no other reason than to get in the head of your opponent and understand how he/she thinks.

Playing Against The Deck

Sometimes playing a deck can teach you far more about how to play against the deck than actually playing against the deck. It puts you in situation where you can really see what scares you and also what gives you difficulty.

The first thing about playing against the deck is you simply can’t let them just hide behind Sableye and constantly Junk Hunt every turn. Because if you do nothing other than simply attach an energy every turn they’re just going to play a couple of Crushing Hammers and than Junk Hunt for them back. Ideally you’re able to 1HKO the Sableye, but even if you can’t you have to put some sort of pressure on them. I’ve also found success later in the game using N to disrupt my opponents’ Junk Hunts. This isn’t as successful early in the game because a large hand just gives them so many options.

Many of the cards combo well with Sableye, but aren’t exclusively reliant on him. Both Crushing Hammer and Lost Remover can cause issues in there own right. This is both a strength and a weakness of the deck though. I find that these cards can cause inconsistency either by them getting tails or you putting yourself in position where they don’t effect you as badly. Once your set up your opponent needs to hit multiple Crushing Hammer flips. Discarding 1 Energy off of Darkrai EX does very little when you can simply attach it again next turn.


  • Early pressure on Sableye
  • Don’t let them loop Crushing Hammers
  • N late game helps against Junk Hunt
  • Try to avoid being in situations where they lock you (attaching 1 energy per turn)

Mail Bag

pokemon-paradijs.comI got this question on the forums when I was asking people what they wanted out of this article. Here is the question:

I would see if you can put in tips for top cut and whatnot e.g. How to play in match play effectively, when to scoop etc.

Playing in top cut is very different than playing in Swiss rounds and it’s important to treat it as such. The two biggest concepts I want to introduce for this section are playing slow decks versus fast decks in top cut as well as the concept of “playing the clock” is not the same as slow playing.

I feel it is much easier for a slow deck to complete 1 game in 30 +3 than it is for the same deck to possibly complete 3 games in 60 +3 realistically your going to get 1 good game in. If you lose the first game, your opponent will slow play you in the second, and if you win they can possibly rush 4 Prizes to force a third game in which you are a severe underdog.

I go into every tournament with the intention to win it and slow decks’ problems in top cut usually catch up to them eventually, which is a reason I shy away from playing them. By playing a slow deck in top cut, you get to that point in Game 1 (usually 15 minutes in) where you realize you either need to scoop now or basically commit to this game, knowing you probably won’t have time for a second and third game.

ksrcollege.comI can’t even begin to tell you how many games I was sure I had lost that I managed to come back and win. This usually leads me to hate scooping games until I’m 100% sure that I have lost. Once I get to the point where I can play the trade offs I see on the field (not what I assume my opponent has) is the earliest I would consider scooping. A feeling worst than losing on time is scooping Game 1 then quickly loosing Game 2. This leaves you always wondering could things have been different had you played them out.

The second concept I want to quickly discuss here is “playing the clock” is not the same as “slow playing.” An example of this would be my Top 16 Worlds match last year against Tom Dolezal. I was playing Yanmega Prime/Magnezone Prime and he was playing Typhlosion Prime/Reshiram BLW. If Tom got fully set up before I took to many easy prizes with Yanmega he would win nearly every time.

Game 1 was really close at the start and I actually thought I had it when he only had 1 Typhlosion in play. I ended up missing 3 Pokémon Reversals (via Junk Arms) in 1 turn and realized that I had burned to many resources while he still had that Typhlosion. I knew right at about the 12-minute mark that I was not going to win that game.

I didn’t scoop though because I knew my deck had such an advantage over his in time, knowing that if we went to Game 3 I had a great shot at winning it that way. I ended up dragging the game out till about the 30-minute mark where he won by a comfortable 2 Prize lead. I didn’t slow play Tom by an means, I just wasn’t quick to scoop up card even though I knew I had lost.

The play? Unown.

I was really hoping that in writing this article I would somehow come to the conclusion as what the play for Nationals is, but I honestly haven’t. This isn’t me trying to play you as I sit writing up a 60 card list, for the first time ever I honestly have no idea what to play for Nationals. In previous years I’ve always known what deck I want to play and it was simply finding a list for it that I really liked.

This year though I genuinely have no idea and the format feels very “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Every deck has at least 1 bad match up in the current format and they all seem to be susceptible to bad starts. I know this really isn’t much of a conclusion and certainly not the one you were looking for. However, I just feel its so important to be bluntly honest this close to Nationals.

The last thing I want to touch on is the “Nationals Secret Deck,” or the lack thereof. One of the hardest things about writing SixPrize articles is not violating the trust of people that come and talk about deck with you. This isn’t just my close friends, but everybody including all of you. If one of you came to me with a cool deck idea that you wanted help with and I wrote about it in my next article than you probably wouldn’t come to me with decks anymore. This is ultimately going to hurt both you and I.

teachesther.blogspot.comYou have 1 less person to bounce ideas off of and people don’t trust me, which in turns makes it much harder for me to bring good content in the future. All of this being said I’ve helped a few friends with some cool little rogue decks here and there, but there are all isolated things and I’ve heard of anything that I would consider a “secret deck.”

I certainly think there are going to be a lot of rogue decks, and some are going to be really good and others are going to be really bad. In the end though I don’t believe that there is going to be one universal rogue deck.

I’ve got a class and sadly a test Wednesday night so a friend and I are going to drive out late Wednesday night and get into Indy early Thursday morning. The plan right now is to definitely see some friends and get some good testing in. I know I’m not the only one in this boat, but one way or another I’m going to have to make a decision on what to play.

This article is going to go up on Thursday which means I’m already going to be out in Indy so if you see me wandering around by all means stop me and say hi. I absolutely love putting screen names with faces and getting to know new people. I guess all that is left to say is good luck to everybody on Saturday.

[Editor’s Note: This article is going up on Wednesday afternoon instead of Thursday morning, but if you see Jay on the highway, give him a honk.]

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