Lost in Translation – The Best Decks of Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals

pokemon-paradijs.comJust wanted to start off by saying thanks to Adam for giving me the opportunity to write for Underground and also to the readers who voted me in for the last open slot for this month.

I would like to re-introduce myself as a writer since this is my first article for the Underground section of the site. I might be best known as Russian Charizard from HeyTrainer.org or Charranitar from the SixPrizes message board. I am entering my second season in the game. My strongest accomplishments so far are top cutting State Championships back to back weeks with Celebi/Mewtwo.

This past season I mostly played in the mid-Missouri and St. Louis areas. My playing this coming season will mostly be in St. Louis, having recently moved there, which will be really good for me in regard to Pokémon as I will be living in an area with a very strong player base as well as an area that has a high tournament density which will allow me to play in more smaller level events as the travel costs will be less prohibitive.

Moving beyond Pokémon, I am a recent college graduate. I studied Journalism at the University of Missouri, and am now doing the whole job search thing. One of my main focuses in Journalism while I was in school was in covering sports, in particular basketball, football, and soccer. In this article, I am going to be connecting a concept that is familiar to most sports fans with the analysis of Pokémon decks.

In the first part of this article I am going to analyze the results of the Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals, which were played in the same Dragons Exalted format that we are going to be playing in this fall. In the second part, I will look at some of the “other” decks in the format that haven’t really been talked about much, but that could do well at Battle Roads this fall.

With introductions out of the way, let’s move ahead and take a trip to Pokémon’s homeland of Japan and take look at the results of their Spring Battle Carnivals.

Why should we care about Japan?

oimaxThe most important reason why we pay attention to the results of Japanese tournaments is because they have already played in and finished up playing in the format that we are about to be entering. This gives us a set of decks that serve as the basis for the start of our own metagame. We can look to Japanese tournaments to reaffirm our beliefs of certain deck concepts actually being good and other decks that we haven’t thought up of pop on their metagame, which inputs decks into our metagame that might have otherwise been overlooked.

Additionally, the Japanese are widely seen as the second best country in the trading card game behind the United States based on their past performance at the World Championships. This makes Japan a very good country for us to learn about a format from heading into our own playing in the format.

In the past year, Pokémon players have gained a lot of access to information about Japanese tournaments. The main two sources are SixPrizes’ own Esa Juntunen, who has a lot of Japanese coverage on his blog, The Deck Out, and RestlessBob, who posts on various Pokémon websites.

How the Japanese Tournament Structure Influences Their Metagame

The tournament structure in Japan is vastly different than the tournament structure that we are accustomed to playing in, in the United States.

In the United States, we play in a season long system, in which we gain points over the course of a season that goes toward an invite to the World Championship. In Japan, however, their invites are given out in a set of Regional Championship tournaments, which forces Japanese players to win one of these very large events in order to gain an invite to the World Championship.

pokemon-paradijs.comIn Japan, the Swiss rounds part of the competition is very different than what we are used to in the United States. The Japanese play in a system in which they have to win three or four consecutive games, depending on attendance, to advance to a top cut of 16 or 32 players. For example, a player who wins their first round game would then go on and play in a second round against another 1-0 player. If this player wins that game, they go on and play a third round game against another 2-0 player, and the winner of that game will advance into the top cut.

If a player loses any game before getting the necessary amount of wins to advance to the top cut, they have to start again from the beginning. The first 16 players to win the necessary amount of games for that tournament advance to the top cut, where they play 30 minute, single elimination games.

The Japanese format heavily favors faster decks over setup decks. A Vileplume deck could easily be the strongest overall deck in the format, but as seen by our own tournaments, Vileplume decks tend to hit the time limit more often than other decks. A deck like this, while being an inherently slow deck would be a questionable play in the Japanese tournament structure as you could have a deck that wins all it’s game, but doesn’t win them fast enough to be one of the first 16 players making cut.

If a player playing a slow deck like Vileplume loses a game during this stage of the tournament, they won’t be making top cut, but a player playing a quicker deck would have more leeway in absorbing a loss and still having a chance at making top cut.

The lack of a best of three top cut in some of their tournaments also makes the tournament structure more favorable for speed decks. One quick donk and that deck is moving onto the next round. One game of stuttering during its setup, and that setup deck is out of the tournament.

The tournament structure also can make it difficult for anti-meta counter decks to be successful. These decks are typically built to deal with the top tier decks in a format, but can struggle with tier two decks of a format. If these decks are unable to string together three games against the decks they were designed to beat, they will be in a struggle to make the top cut.

The American Metagame

pokemon-paradijs.comThe American metagame in comparison to the Japanese metagame can be described in two ways – more mature and more developed.

We use the Japanese metagame as our starting point for our own metagame. Where the Japanese left off is where we start. We play with the decks that the Japanese found were good and then figure out what works best out of these decks and then find new strategies and counters to combat these decks, which results in our metagame becoming more mature than the Japanese metagame.

Our metagame also becomes more developed than the Japanese as a result of our tournament structure, which provides a friendlier format that can allow slower setup decks to succeed. This results in our metagame including a wider variety of viable decks which leads to us playing in a more developed metagame than the Japanese were playing in.

I think this is best exemplified by the two decks that defined US Nationals, which both had a distinct American feel to them. The first deck, Mew Prime/Accelgor DEX/Chandelure NVI/Vileplume UD dominated the Swiss rounds and made an impact fairly deep into the top cut. The deck eventually hit into some time issues in the top cut, which led to its elimination. A deck whose setup was too slow for American tournaments would obviously be too slow to succeed in Japan.

The second deck, John Robert’s Klinklang EX, also involved some setup and depended on slowly setting up Knock Out’s and tanking its own main attackers. While much quicker than the Accelgor deck, it was still a fairly slow deck.

The American game as a whole becomes this more developed metagame that includes the decks that did well in Japan, as well as more intricate setup decks that were too slow to do well in Japan, as well as some other random decks that are the result of American ingenuity.

How We Analyze Tournament Results

pokemon-paradijs.comOne of the main things that I am examining in this article is how we look at tournament results. There are two main reasons that we would want to analyze the tournament results. First, to see what is doing well and using the tournament results to help decide on a deck by determining what deck is putting up the best results. Second, to see what decks are doing well and thus will likely be played by other players to create rogue decks that can succeed in the metagame.

The methods that we use to analyze tournament data influences the answers that we end up extracting from the data. Certain methods of analyzing tournament results can result in you making inferior conclusions about the metagame and what decks are actually good than other methods.

The most traditional method I’ve seen for analyzing tournament results is to organize everything into table that shows the cumulative results for a tournament series and update this table as results come in.

This is a really good way to organize tournament data, and can provide you with lots of answers about what the best decks are. However, analyzing tournament results through this method doesn’t give you a complete picture of the metagame and can mislead you into thinking some decks are better than they are. Additionally, how you organize the data in such a table can influence the conclusions you draw about what the best decks are, as I will demonstrate.

The first way in which I am going to organize the results is by what decks had the most prestigious finishes. That is, the deck with the most first place finishes will be ranked the highest, any ties in the first place column would be the organized by the best rank in the second place column, and any ties in that column would be ranked by the best finish in the Top 4 column and so on.

Deck 1st 2nd Top 4 Top 8 Top 16 Total
Garchomp/Altaria 1 1 0 0 1 3
Hydreigon/Darkrai 1 0 2 2 6 11
Eelektrik 1 0 2 1 9 13
Rayquaza/Eelektrik 1 0 1 1 2 5
Darkrai EX 0 1 1 3 6 11
Empoleon 0 1 0 2 0 3
Garchomp/Stunfisk/Mewtwo 0 1 0 0 0 1
Terrakion-EX 0 0 2 1 2 5
Ho-Oh EX 0 0 0 4 0 4
Terrakion 0 0 0 1 1 2
Accelgor 0 0 0 1 0 1
Zebstrika/Eelektrik 0 0 0 0 1 1

When we look at the results in this manner, we are told that Garchomp/Altaria was the best deck from the Spring Battle Carnivals and Hydreigon/Darkrai, Zekrom/Eelektrik, and Rayquaza/Eelektrik as being the other top decks of the format.

Another way in which this data can be organized is by which deck has the highest total amount of Top 16 placements. The following table organizes the data in such a manner.

Deck 1st 2nd Top 4 Top 8 Top 16 Total
Eelektrik 1 0 2 1 9 13
Hydreigon/Darkrai 1 0 2 2 6 11
Darkrai EX 0 1 1 3 6 11
Rayquaza/Eelektrik 1 0 1 1 2 5
Terrakion-EX 0 0 2 1 2 5
Ho-Oh EX 0 0 0 4 0 4
Garchomp/Altaria 1 1 0 0 1 3
Empoleon 0 1 0 2 0 3
Terrakion 0 0 0 1 1 2
Garchomp/Stunfisk/Mewtwo 0 1 0 0 0 1
Accelgor 0 0 0 1 0 1
Zebstrika/Eelektrik 0 0 0 0 1 1

When we look at the results with the data organized in this manner, Zekrom/Eelektrik appears to be the best deck for the tournament series with Hydreigon/Darkrai and Darkrai EX being the other top decks of the format.

These are two very different readings of what did well in the tournament series. This is a major problem.

A New Way to Analyze Decks – Power Rankings

miasportsguy.comI think there is some value in analyzing how well decks did with the methods described above, but that method of analyzing decks is missing an important ingredient – time. While using the tables above can best describe what deck did over the course of the tournament series, it isn’t necessarily the best way to figure out which deck is best for the next tournament.

When attempting to figure out what the best decks are, the time factor is important as the meta that existed in the first week of a tournament series will usually not be the same as the meta that exists in the fourth week. Over time, builds of decks strengthen, stronger decks are figured out, and some decks that appeared strong at first can get pushed to the wayside.

I am going to be using power rankings in the next few sections to determine what the best decks in the format are. Sports fans should be very familiar with this concept. For those who don’t know, power rankings are a numerical ordering of sports teams in a league based on factors such as their win percentage, scoring margin, and often, how well the team has been doing of late.

The way that I am going to rate the Pokémon decks in my power rankings is going to based on the decks’ tournament placements and how recent those results are.

Decks will receive points based on how well they finished. 5 points for First Place, 4 points for Second Place, 3 points for a 3-4 finish, 2 points for a 5-8 finish, and 1 point for a 9-16 finish. The most recent week will be worth 10 percent more than the week that presided it, and that week will be worth 10 percent more than the week that preceded it, and so on.

These rankings are not going to be a perfect as four of the Top 16 placements went unrecorded, but the 60 decks worth of data we have to analyze should give us a good representation of what decks are the strongest from the Japanese format.

Tournament 1 – Sendai 5/3

B-League Standings

en.wikipedia.org1st Place – Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
2nd Place – Garchomp/Altaria
3rd Place – Eelektrik/Zekrom/Raikou-EX/Mewtwo EX
4th Place – Terrakion-EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant

Top 8

Accelgor/Gothitelle/Mew-EX/Darkrai EX/Musharna
Ho-Oh EX/Tornadus EX
Eelektrik/Zekrom/Mewtwo EX

Top 16

Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
Eelektrik/Zekrom/Raikou-EX/Mewtwo EX
Eelektrik/Zekrom/Raikou-EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX
Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX/Tornadus EPO
Terrakion/Mewtwo EX
Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant
Terrakion-EX/Terrakion/Mewtwo EX/Stunfisk/Sigilyph

The first week of Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals showed a fairly diverse metagame, with seven different archetypes composing the Top 8, and nine different archetypes making up the Top 16.

In the end, it would be the new dragon type Pokémon that would dominate the finals. A Hydreigon/Darkrai deck would get the win over a Garchomp/Altaria deck. Let’s take a closer look at the Darkrai/Hydreigon deck that took first place in this tournament. Below is the winning decklist from the tournament.

B-League Winning Hydreigon/Darkrai Decklist

Pokémon – 15

2 Deino NVI
1 Deino DRX 93

1 Zweilous DRX 96

3 Hydreigon DRX 97

3 Darkrai-EX DEX

3 Sableye DEX

1 Sigilyph DRX

1 Shaymin-EX NXD

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

2 Random Receiver


4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Dark Patch

3 Max Potion

3 Rare Candy

3 Ultra Ball

2 Level Ball

2 Eviolite

Energy – 12

8 D

4 Blend GRPD

BulbapediaThe deck has a very similar strategy to the Klinklang deck that won US Nationals. The deck makes use of Darkrai’s Dark Cloak Ability in tandem with Hydreigon’s Dark Trance Ability. Dark Cloak gives all of your Pokémon free retreat when they have a D Energy attached and Dark Trance allows you to move D Energies around as often as you would like during your turn.

Being able to move Energy off of your Pokémon freely throughout a turn allows you to make use of Max Potion without discarding your Energy which lets you keep an onslaught of attacks going as soon as you get three Energy on the field and a Hydreigon setup.

The deck makes use of Sableye to aide in its setup and act as a consistency booster. Being able to re-use Item cards when your opponent cannot creates a competitive advantage for decks that use D Energy. Once the game enters the attacking stage, you usually won’t be using Sableye too much, but every few games situations occur in which you need to use Sableye to make a clutch play to win you the game.

This decklist doesn’t really contain too many techs, just two in Sigilyph and Shaymin EX. Sigilyph can act as a buffer against EX heavy decks to buy you a turn or two to find your Max Potion to heal off damage on your attackers, and it also is able to 1HKO a Mew-EX and 2HKO a Mewtwo EX. Shaymin EX is a really strong closer, getting you the 1HKOs on any Pokémon-EX in the format and providing a hard counter to Terrakion-EX based decks, getting you the 1HKOs after they’ve taken just 2 Prize cards.

As seen by the results of not only this tournament and also Klinklang at US Nationals, decks that can move Energy around to abuse Max Potion and can freely retreat between Pokémon are very strong.

With that said, Zekrom/Eelektrik took the top spot in the first week of power rankings. It was the most represented deck in the top cut with five different variants making it into the Top 16.

Power Rankings #1

Ranking Deck Rating
1 Eelektrik 22.5806
2 Hydreigon/Darkrai 19.3548
3 Garchomp/Altaria 16.1290
4 Terrakion-EX 12.9032
5 Empoleon 6.4516
Accelgor 6.4516
Ho-oh EX 6.4516
Darkrai EX 6.4516
9 Terrakion NVI 3.2258

Tournament 2 – Yokohama 5/12-5/13

B-League Standings

en.wikipedia.org1st Place – Garchomp/Altaria
2nd Place – Garchomp/Stunfisk/Mewtwo EX
3rd Place – Hydreigon/Darkrai EX/Giratina EX
4th Place – Hydreigon/Darkrai EX/Shaymin EX

Top 8

Terrakion-EX/Terrakion NVI/Tornadus EPO/Stunfisk/Mewtwo EX
Ho-Oh EX/Terrakion NVI/Rayquaza/Ninetales/Mewtwo EX
Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
Terrakion/Mewtwo EX

Top 16

Terrakion-EX/Mewtwo EX
Eelektrik/Rayquaza EX/Zekrom BLW/Raikou-EX
Eelektrik/Zekrom BLW/Raikou-EX/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX
Eelektrik/Raikou-EX/Mewtwo EX
Darkrai EX/Terrakion-EX
Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
1 Unrecorded Deck

BulbapediaThe second weekend of Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals was dominated by the new Dragon type Pokémon. Two Garchomp variants did well, meeting each other in the finals.

One of them was the traditional Garchomp/Altaria build, which uses Altaria’s Fight Song Ability, which adds 20 damage to your Dragon type Pokémon’s attack for each Altaria in play, to boost the power of Garchomp’s low Energy attacks.

The other variant was a strange Garchomp/Stunfisk/Mewtwo EX deck. I don’t really know much about what the Japanese player had in mind when playing this deck, but from what I could gather from throwing together a list for this and playing a few games is that you use Stunfisk DRX’s Muddy Water attack, which does 20 damage plus 20 more damage to one of your opponent’s benched Pokémon, to setup knock outs for Garchomp. In the mirror match, a player can use Stunfisk to setup their opponent’s Garchomps for Mach Cut knockouts.

Stunfisk also gives the deck some strong options against Zekrom/Eelektrik, being able to 1HKO Tynamo on the first turn with Muddy Water and against Hydreigon/Darkrai, being able to lock Hydreigon in place with Stunfisk’s Rumble attack which prevents the opponent’s Pokémon from retreating, which prevents Hydreigon from retreating to the bench allowing Garchomp to then Knock it Out on the next turn.

There were six Dragon type decks in the top cut, so naturally a deck that can 1HKO Dragon type Pokémon would be poised to do well if it made its way into cut. Below is the winning Garchomp/Altaria decklist from the tournament.

B-League Winning Garchomp/Altaria Decklist

Pokémon – 21

4 Gible DRX 87

3 Gabite DRX 89

4 Garchomp DRX 90

3 Swablu DRX 104

3 Altaria DRX

3 Emolga DRX

1 Rayquaza DRX

Trainers – 28

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

3 Cheren


4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Level Ball

3 Rare Candy

2 Super Rod

2 Switch

Energy – 11

7 F

4 Blend WLFM

This list is just aimed at consistency for the most part, playing a lot of draw Supporters, and is a fairly standard build for this deck.

The only thing that really stands out about this deck is that they chose to play Rayquaza DRX in the deck. This gives the deck some good turn one donk potential as it can 1HKO Tynamo, Gible, Swablu, and the Dragon type Deino if you can hit into Rayquaza and a Blend Energy on the first turn. Being able to get a Knock Out on the first turn, even when you don’t donk, is a good way to take control of a game from the get go.

After the second week, both Dragon type decks lead the power rankings. Hydreigon/Darkrai had another strong showing, taking up four slots in the Top 16, including two in the top four. Garchomp/Altaria had a very strong showing in week two, claiming the top spot, with a different Garchomp variant also getting second place.

Power Rankings #2

Ranking Deck Rating +/-
1 Hydreigon/Darkrai 24.6734 +5.3186
2 Garchomp/Altaria 16.1290 0
3 Eelektrik 13.7097 -8.8709
4 Terrakion-EX 11.1290 -1.7742
5 Garchomp/Stunfisk/Mewtwo 7.0968 +7.0968
6 Ho-Oh EX 6.4516 0
7 Terrakion 4.9999 +1.7741
8 Darkrai EX 4.6774 -1.7742
9 Empoleon 2.9032 -3.5484
Accelgor 2.9032 -3.5484
11 Rayquaza/Eelektrik 1.7742 +1.7742
Zebstrika/Eelektrik 1.7742 +1.7742

Tournament 3 – Nagoya 5/20

B-League Standings

en.wikipedia.org1st Place – Eelektrik/Zekrom BLW/Zekrom-EX/Mewtwo EX
2nd Place – Empoleon/Mew-EX
3rd Place – Terrakion-EX/Terrakion NVI/Groudon EX/Stunfisk
4th Place Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EPO

Top 8

Darkrai EX/Terrakion NVI
Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
Eelektrik/Rayquaza EX
Ho-Oh EX/Terrakion NVI/Sigilyph

Top 16

Eelektrik/Zekrom BLW/Raikou-EX/Mewtwo EX
Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
Eelektrik/Rayquaza EX
3 Unrecorded Decks

The third week of the tournament was dominated by Zekrom/Eelektrik. It took up six spots in the Top 16 and claimed first place overall in the tournament, beating Empoleon, which is a fairly favorable matchup for the deck, in the finals.

This week also saw a return of good old fashioned Darkrai decks, more similar to the Darkrai decks that we are accustomed to playing in the previous format.

While these decks did well at this event, the deck was still an Eelektrik dominated event. The following is the winning Zekrom/Eelektrik deck from this tournament.

B-League Winning Zekrom/Eelektrik Decklist

Pokémon – 15

2 Tynamo NVI 38

2 Tynamo DEX 45

4 Eelektrik NVI

2 Zekrom BLW

3 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Raikou-EX

1 Zekrom-EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Bianca

2 Random Receiver


4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch

4 Ultra Ball

2 Level Ball

2 Max Potion

2 Eviolite


1 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 12

8 L

4 Double Colorless

pokemon-paradijs.comThis build is actually very similar to the list that I have built for the deck at the current moment. I feel like this is an optimal build of Zekrom/Eelektrik for dealing with the metagame that had developed in Japan.

Mewtwo EX and Double Colorless Energy give the deck an option to get off to an aggressive start, putting a lot of early pressure on opposing decks. Mewtwo EX and Double Colorless is good for taking knock outs on turn one against Swablu and Tynamo, as well as Gible if it has Energy on it, although you need to hit heads to actually do damage on that because of its Sand Attack.

Zekrom-EX gives it an answer for 1HKOing Hydreigon and Garchomp with its Strong Volt attack that does 150 damage.

Raikou-EX gives the deck a great late attacker. So many decks end up with low HP support Pokémon on their bench, such as Sableye, Altaria, and Eelektrik, that Raikou-EX is able to get you that last Knock Out on those Pokémon if the situation arises. Additionally, in a format without Junk Arm, being able to conserve your Pokémon Catchers while still Knocking Out a benched Pokémon is a strong play.

Max Potion is a good play in this deck, as you are able to replace lost Energy so easily with Dynamotor.

After a strong showing in the top cut, as well as having the winning deck, Zekrom/Eelektrik regained its spot atop the power rankings. Hydreigon/Darkrai decks had a steady showing in the top cut, allowing them to maintain the second spot. Garchomp/Altaria saw the sharpest decline in the rankings as it was unable to claim any of the top cut spots.

Power Rankings #3

Ranking Deck Rating +/-
1 Eelektrik 18.6029 +4.8932
2 Hydreigon/Darkrai 18.3840 -6.2894
3 Terrakion-EX 10.4300 -0.6990
4 Darkrai EX 9.5706 +4.8932
5 Garchomp/Altaria 9.1387 -6.9903
6 Empoleon 7.0974 +4.1942
7 Ho-oh EX 6.4516 0
8 Rayquaza/Eelektrik 5.2694 +3.4952
9 Garchomp/Stunfisk/Mewtwo 4.3006 -2.7962
10 Terrakion NVI 2.9029 -2.0970
11 Accelgor 1.5052 -1.3980
12 Zebstrika/Eelektrik 1.0752 -0.6990

Tournament 4 – Osaka 6/3

B-League Standings

en.wikipedia.org1st Place – Eelektrik/Rayquaza EX/Rayquaza/Raikou-EX/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX
2nd Place – Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion NVI
3rd Place – Eelektrik/Zekrom BLW/Zekrom-EX/Mewtwo EX
4th Place – Terrakion NVI/Mewtwo EX

Top 8

Darkrai EX/Terrakion NVI
Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
Ho-Oh EX/Terrakion-EX/Terrakion/Rayquaza

Top 16

Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX/Terrakion NVI/Bouffalant
Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion NVI
Eelektrik/Zekrom BLW/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant
Darkrai EX/Terrakion NVI
Eelektrik/Zekrom BLW/Mewtwo EX
Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
Hydreigon/Darkrai EX

The last weekend of Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals was won by another Eelektrik variant, this time one that used R Energy so that it could attack with some of the new Dragon type Pokémon, Rayquaza and Rayquaza EX.

Rayquaza DRX is a strong option in Eelektrik decks as it can not only make use of its first attack, which is good for aggressive starts, but it can also make use of its second attack, which is able to 1HKO Hydreigon and Garchomp, as well as 2HKO any EX in the format.

Rayquaza EX is also a really strong play in a metagame dominated by Pokémon-EX. Rayquaza EX is able to 1HKO any EX in the game by discarding three basic Energy cards to do 180 damage. With less Pokémon Catcher abuse in the new format, it’s more easy to setup multiple Eelektrik on your bench and pull off the triple Dynamotor that is needed to powre up Rayquaza EX for the 1HKO Dragon Burst on an EX.

Outside of Eelektrik variants, more traditional Darkrai EX variants also had a really strong showing. All of these variants were the Darkrai/Terrakion variant of the deck.

Below is the winning decklist from the tournament.

B-League Winning Rayquaza/Eelektrik Decklist

Pokémon – 14

4 Tynamo NVI 38

4 Eelektrik NVI

1 Rayquaza DRX
1 Rayquaza-EX DRX
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Tornadus-EX DEX

1 Raikou-EX

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper

4 Cheren

4 N

2 Bianca


4 Ultra Ball

4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Switch

2 Level Ball

1 PlusPower

1 Super Rod

1 Fast Ticket


1 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 15

8 L

4 Double Colorless

3 R

BulbapediaThis decklist is more of a hybrid between standard Zekrom/Eelektrik decks and Rayquaza/Eelektrik decks. It runs both R Energy and Double Colorless Energy, and plays a bunch of 1-of attackers. The deck definitely has a lot of versatility in the way it can approach different matchups because of all the different attackers it plays, but I would be fearful that the deck wouldn’t be consistent enough as a result to have the attackers available all the time in the given matchups they’re needed in.

I don’t want to ponder too much on this list, as it is speculated that the player who won the tournament cheated to do so by stacking their deck. In their final two matches, they started with Tornadus EX, Skyarrow Bridge, Double Colorless Energy, and Fast Ticket, allowing them to go first. Tornadus EX, Skyarrow Bridge, and Fast Ticket are all one of, so it is very, very, very unlikely statistically for a player to start with all of these components in one game, let alone two games in a row.

Below are the final power rankings for Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals. There was a very close race at the top between three decks, with Rayquaza/Eelektrik decks surging up in the rankings as an emerging deck. Garchomp/Altaria once again saw a dramatic drop down the standings as it was once against unable to claim any of the spots in the top cut.

Power Rankings #4

Ranking Deck Rating +/-
1 Eelektrik 17.74194 -0.8610
2 Darkrai EX 17.74192 +8.1713
3 Hydreigon/Darkrai 17.0959 -1.2881
4 Rayquaza/Eelektrik 13.8710 +8.6016
5 Empoleon 7.0968 -0.0006
6 Ho-Oh EX 6.4516 0
7 Terrakion-EX 6.1290 -4.3010
8 Garchomp/Altaria 4.8387 -4.3000
9 Garchomp/Stunfisk/Mewtwo 2.5806 -1.7200
10 Terrakion NVI 1.6129 -1.2900
11 Accelgor 0.6452 -0.8600
Zebstrika/Eelektrik 0.6452 -0.4300

The Big Four Decks Heading Into Battle Roads

I think the final power rankings paint us a good picture of what the best decks should be heading into Battle Roads. These rankings represent the Japanese metagame at its most mature point, at the end of the tournament series. As new decks and strategies are discovered, decks that initially appeared strong can be found to be weak as the metagame reaches a more mature point.

Heading into Battle Roads, I view Zekrom/Eelektrik, Hydreigon/Darkrai, Darkrai EX, and Rayquaza/Eelektrik decks as being the main power decks of the new format.

Zekrom/Eelektrik is still a strong deck because it sets up consistently, relies on Basic Pokémon as its attackers, and has the best Energy acceleration in the game. The attackers that it can rely on are very diverse, which can allow the deck to adapt to different strategies for different matchups. Additionally, the powerful stream of Energy that Dynamotor provides the deck allows the deck to make use of Max Potion, allowing it to also tank these attackers.

Hydreigon/Darkrai is a good deck because of its Ability to tank its Pokémon with Max Potion, similar to the Klinklang deck that won US Nationals. The deck sets up a bit faster than the Klinklang deck as it is able to make use of Dark Patch to accelerate Energy onto its attackers, getting them setup to attack quicker than Klinklang did, which relied solely on manual attachment.

The deck also has access to a somewhat diverse attacker pool, allowing you to play attackers like Darkrai EX, Registeel-EX, Mewtwo EX, Shaymin EX, Giratina EX, Reshiram-EX and Entei-EX to adapt to whatever metagame you are playing in.

Darkrai EX/Terrakion variants are still very good as they still setup quick and can hit some of the main metagame decks for weakness. All that is needed for a turn 2 Night Spear is two manual attachments and one Dark Patch attachment. As most of these variants play Energy Switch, it is okay to attach to something like Terrakion or Sableye so you can retreat them and then move the Energy onto the Darkrai to attack. Terrakion is terrific in this metagame, as it is able to 1HKO Darkrai EX when playing against Hydreigon/Darkrai and still hits Eelektrik decks for weakness while being bulky enough to be difficult to Knock Out.

Both Hydreigon/Darkrai and Darkrai EX/Terrakion are able to take advantage of Sableye, as they play D Energy. This allows the deck to use Sableye’s Junk Hunt attack to re-use Trainer cards that are in their discard pile as well as use Random Receiver as a consistency crutch for finding a Supporter when you need it.

Lastly, there is the Rayquaza/Eelektrik deck. This deck is good because the two Rayquaza from the new set pair together well in tandem. Rayquaza is able to get the deck off to a fast start with its one Energy attack for 40 damage, as well as use its 90 damage attack to 2HKO any Pokémon-EX in the game. Rayquaza EX is great in a metagame full of EX’s as it gives you the ability to 1HKO EX’s.

Garchomp/Altaria – The Real Deal or a Bust?

BulbapediaI think the results from the last two weekends of Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals reveal the truth about this deck, and that is that it just isn’t that good of a deck. There are some specific reasons why the deck failed to make the top cut at either of the last two Battle Carnivals, and I will cover these weaknesses which keep it from being a strong deck for the upcoming format in this section.

The deck of course isn’t completely horrible. It is able to setup quickly and consistently thanks to Gabite’s Dragon Call Ability, which allows you to search your deck for any Dragon type Pokémon once per a turn. The deck sets up fast and hits hard for a low amount of Energy. A fast, consistent, hard hitting deck has all the ingredients to be successful in an undeveloped metagame, but as will be seen below, once the metagame matures and fills with better decks and better strategies by the players, this deck simply isn’t strong enough to compete.

The biggest problem this deck has is that it relies on streaming a Stage 2 attacker. If you don’t hit your Super Rods at the correct time, or have to Professor Juniper them away in the early game, it is going to be difficult to keep a steady stream of Garchomp coming past the third or fourth Garchomp, depending on your prizes.

As the deck is forced to play a thick line of a Stage 2 Pokémon as well as a thick line of a Stage 1 Pokémon, it really doesn’t have a lot of room for any techs or back up attackers. If you want to include backup attackers you have to make other sacrifices from the deck, which makes it weaker in other areas.

The deck also has a near auto-loss to the Rayquaza/Eelektrik deck. A turn one Rayquaza DRX is able to take a turn 1 Prize on Swablu and Gible. If you go second against the deck starting a lone Gible or Swablu, you are probably going to get donked. Once the game reaches a developed state, it becomes an exchange of 1HKOs between Rayquaza and Garchomp. As Rayquaza is a Basic Pokémon, it is much easier to keep up a steady stream of them than it is to keep a steady stream of Garchomp to attack with.

The deck really struggles with Item lock as well. The two main Pokémon in the deck, Garchomp and Altaria, both have HP’s that are perfect for keeping an Accelgor lock in place. Additionally, against Item lock decks, the Garchomp/Altaria player is usually relegated to just having three Garchomp to attack with for the entire game as some piece of the Garchomp line is usually prized which leads to that player being unable to get out four Garchomp in a game.

pokemon-paradijs.comEven if they can get out four Garchomp in a game, they simply lose the matchup after their fourth Garchomp is Knocked Out as they don’t have a backup attacker and have no means of recovering Garchomp line pieces from the discard pile.

Lastly, the deck really struggles with decks that are able to tank their Pokémon. Hydreigon/Darkrai and Zekrom/Eelektrik both are able to use Max Potion, which disrupts the Garchomp player’s strategy of setting up 2HKOs with Garchomp.

A Zekrom/Eelektrik player can just power up some Mewtwo EX to be able to 1HKO Garchomp, while healing off the damage when it falls into the range of possibly being Knocked Out. Raikou-EX can then also be used to snipe your opponent’s benched Altaria and Emolga for some cheap easy prizes.

While Hydreigon/Darkrai might appear to be a strong matchup for Garchomp/Altaria initially, as Garchomp is able to 1HKO Hydreigon, in actuality it really isn’t a good matchup. The Hydreigon can serve as catcher bait for the Garchomp/Altaria player. If they focus on taking out your Hydreigon, they are only receiving 1 Prize for that, while also wasting a Pokémon Catcher, still leaving a fully powered Darkrai EX to be reckoned with.

After the Garchomp player has exhausted their Pokémon Catchers to take out the Hydreigon threats, there is still a bunch of fully powered Darkrai with no damage on them that the Garchomp/Altaria player will have to Knock Out in order to win the game.

Even without Hydreigon in play, Max Potion can be used to prevent your opponent from Knocking Out your Darkrai EX’s. If they choose to ignore the Hydreigon, then they lose anyhow, as the deck can just execute its strategy of moving Energy off of damaged Pokémon and healing them with Max Potion.

I think Garchomp/Altaria is a deck that can win some Battle Roads in less competitive areas, and it surely will do just that, but come a larger, more competitive tournament like Fall Regional Championships, Garchomp/Altaria isn’t a deck that is going to win you the tournament, and also probably isn’t even good enough to give you a positive chance at making the top cut.

Some Things Every Deck Will Need for the New Format

1. The capability of doing 150 damage against Hydreigon or 180 damage against Darkrai EX.

pokemon-paradijs.comIf you’re unable to find a way to Knock Out your opponent’s Hydreigon, then most likely you are going to struggle against that deck as your opponent can just move Energy around and then heal their Pokémon using Max Potion. Alternatively, you can choose not to go after the Hydreigon, but instead go after the Darkrai EX by hitting it for 180 damage.

Unlike Klinklang, this deck tends to be very reliant on Darkrai EX as an attacker, so it is unlikely to do well without a Darkrai EX on your opponent’s field. Hydreigon/Darkrai is definitely going to see a lot of play at Battle Roads; it has a lot of hype and it actually is good, so you need to have answers to deal with one of or both of the deck’s main components.

2. The capability to 1HKO Shaymin EX.

Once again, this is directly tied to the Hydreigon/Darkrai deck. Shaymin EX is an inclusion in most lists for the deck as a late game sweeper. Nothing is worse than Shaymin EX taking three or four straight prizes on you to steal a game after you find yourself with no way to respond to the card after your opponent N’s you down to one card.

Having a Pokémon that can do the 110 damage to 1HKO it is crucial for succeeding in this oncoming format. Some common Pokémon that are able to 1HKO it are a Darkrai EX with Dark Claw, Entei-EX, Zekrom, Reshiram, Ho-Oh EX, Bouffalant DRX, and my favorite Shaymin EX counter… a Shaymin EX of your own.

3. You need to be able to hit your magic numbers.

Preventing your opponent from being able to 1HKO your Pokémon is going to be a large part of the upcoming format. You need to find ways to hit your magic numbers so you can effectively execute your strategy for taking down different decks. In the past, we have relied on PlusPower to do the job of hitting these magic numbers and working around Eviolite. I no longer think PlusPower is an optimal play for dealing with these decks and instead favor Tool Scrapper in my decks.

The reason being is that once Tool Scrapper is used, it is a permanent effect, and it can be used to combat two of your opponent’s Pokémon. The card is also stronger for dealing with fringe cards like Giant Cape. For example, with just a single PlusPower, you will no longer be able to 1HKO your opponent’s Hydreigon with a Zekrom-EX if it has Giant Cape attached. However, if you use Tool Scrapper to remove the Giant Cape, you can then once again 1HKO the Hydreigon with your Zekrom-EX.

4. A way to Knock Out a Sigilpyh.

BulbapediaIf you’re playing a deck that only has EX attackers, than Sigilpyh DRX can take down your entire deck as you will be unable to do damage against it. For the most part, this will mean playing some form of a non-Pokémon-EX in your deck, but some Pokémon, like Giratina EX for example, have attacks that ignore Sigilyph’s Ability and allow you to Knock it Out with an EX.

Some of the Other, Less Talked About Decks

In this next section, I just want to go over some of the other decks of the new format that haven’t received a lot of talk or might be completely unknown to most players. When entering a new format, I think it’s important to test a lot of different concepts to see if anything has been overlooked by other players that actually is a really strong deck.


Zoroark was a card that got a lot of hype before Dark Explorers first came out, but then after some testing, most players found the card to be a little too fragile for the current format. The speed of the format wasn’t really well suited for Zoroark to succeed, especially with a donk deck in CMT that could 1HKO a Zoroark on Turn 1 after a player used Ascension to evolve on turn one.

I think the card ended up getting underplayed as a result, and was a bit stronger deck than most people gave it credit for last format. Most people have seemingly forgot about Zoroark as being a possible threat, but with the format slowing down a bit, Zoroark does gain some power relative to the format.

With Hydreigon/Darkrai and Garchomp/Altaria seemingly being some of the most popular decks at upcoming Battle Roads, Zoroark is poised to also make a strong showing as it has answers for both of those decks.

The following is what I have for a list for my Zoroark deck right now.

Pokémon – 15

4 Zorua DEX 69

3 Zoroark DEX

1 Zoroark BLW

4 Darkrai-EX DEX

3 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper

4 Bianca

3 N


4 Level Ball

4 Ultra Ball

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Claw

4 Dark Patch

1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

9 D

4 Double Colorless

pokemon-paradijs.comIn this list, I play four of the Ascension Zorua, as it allows you to evolve into Zoroark on turn one, giving you a consistency boost in getting your setup.

Dark Claw is one of the most important aspects of this deck as it allows you to hit the magic numbers you need to be hitting. Zoroark DEX is able to do 140 damage with Dark Claw, which is enough to 1HKO Garchomp and Empoleon. The card also is able to 2HKO any EX in the format while being just out of 1HKO range for the EX’s that hit for only 90 damage.

The Zoroark BLW is a tech against Hydreigon/Darkrai. With a Dark Claw, Zoroark is able to do 150 damage, the amount you need to 1HKO a Hydreigon. The card also has great general utility, giving your deck a more versatile attacker. Some examples are copying Raikou’s Volt Bolt to snipe an Eelektrik for the last prize or two against Eelektrik variants, and it is a quick and easy way to respond to your opponent’s Shaymin EX if they try to attack against you with that.

One of the things that is so nice about Zoroark as an attacker is that the main attacks for both versions cost CC, which allows you to take advantage of double Energy acceleration in the form of Dark Patch and Double Colorless Energy, which makes streaming attacks with Zoroark fairly easy to do.

Darkrai EX is your backup attacker, and the snipe from Night Spear combos well with Zoroark. You can put some of your opponent’s EX’s like Mewtwo EX or Raikou-EX into 1HKO range for Zoroark DEX and stuff like Zekrom-EX into 1HKO range for Zoroark BLW.

Sableye is just there to fill up your bench with more Dark Pokémon. You don’t use Sableye too much, but like always, using Junk Hunt has its situational uses on getting you setup for a strong turn 2, or for making a clutch play in the late game.

This is a deck that I think everyone should try out to see if it’s right for them, as it has the potential to do really well against the expected metagame. The deck sets up fast and very consistently. It has answers for both Garchomp/Altaria and Hydreigon/Darkrai. It generally sets up faster than Zekrom/Eelektrik decks, which just turns that matchup into a straight Prize trade which should be in your favor. Against Eel variants, you can snipe their Eelektrik by using Foul Play Zoroark when they have a Raikou-EX active and you can even donk Tynamo with a Zorua, DCE, and Dark Claw combination.

Mini Tournament Report

pokemon-paradijs.comI actually got a chance to play this deck in a local league tournament last night, so I have some results in a tournament setting for this deck already, and I played a lot of BLW-on decks throughout the tournament. Overall, I finished the tournament 4-0 for first place. This tournament of course isn’t nearly as competitive as a Premier Event will be, but I still played some of the meta decks of the new format en route to my victory, so I thought I would share a quick report of the tournament with you guys.

In the first round I was matched with a younger and newer player. His deck didn’t really have a clear focus, and I was able to win the game a few turns into the game.

The second round, I played against a Garchomp/Empoleon deck, with as far as I could tell, no Altaria. I got a turn two Zoroark going first, with a full bench so I was able to take an early prize lead while he stumbled to setup. I chose to use my Pokémon Catchers to deny him his Empoleon, as I figured those would be the back bone of his deck, giving it a strong draw engine. The speed of the deck as well as the ability to 1HKO everything in his deck proved to be too much.

The third round, I played against a Hydreigon/Darkrai deck. This was a weird game where he opened with three Professor Juniper in his hand, and then used Random Receiver, hitting into his fourth Professor Juniper. With all of his Junipers in the discard pile early, I felt good about my chances of winning. I dead-drew to start the game, so I just manually attached to a Darkrai EX for the first three turns of the game and used that as my lead in attacker.

Eventually I hit into a Supporter on turn 3, allowing me to get the rest of my deck setup. I was able to just use Darkrai EX / Zoroark in combination to Knock Out a Darkrai EX with Energy before he could get a Hydreigon setup. The snipe damage from Darkrai setup some easy knockouts for my Zoroark to take aftewards, and I hit into my Pokémon Catcher to bring up these EX’s to Knock them Out and win with three turns of consecutive knock outs, winning the Game 6-0 on prizes.

My last matchup was against a Zekrom/Eelektrik deck with a heavy focus on Raikou-EX and Mewtwo EX, along with Max Potion. I was able to get an early stream of Zoroark and Knock Out his Eelektrik, as I knew that Raikou-EX wouldn’t be able to function without Eelektrik on the field. I got a few prizes ahead in the game, and then in the late game when he was attacking with Raikou-EX, I used my Foul Play Zoroark to snipe his final Eelektrik with Volt Bolt. I then top decked a Pokémon Catcher the next turn to Knock Out his Emolga with my Darkrai EX for the last prize.

As a result of winning the tournament, I received $21 of store credit which I used to buy some sleeves for Battle Roads and two Garchomp, which I then traded along with some other cards for Terrakion-EX and some Blend Energies, so overall, I already have some really good vibes from playing with this deck.

Our National Champion John Roberts popped by league to say hi to everyone before he leaves for Worlds. I showed him my list for the deck, and he said I might have a Tier 1 deck on my hands. I want to take that one step further and say that Zoroark/Darkrai/Sableye definitely is a Tier 1 deck and everyone should test this deck out. It is really good.


youtube.comWith Vileplume rotating out of the format, there are only two viable methods of Item lock, neither of which is nearly as strong as flower power. Both new forms of Item lock have their drawbacks. Zebstrika NXD is dependent on using its own attack to keep up the Item lock, so your strategy can’t really deviate too much from using Disconnect a lot.

Gothitelle is the more versatile version of Item lock that remains with us. Gothitelle isn’t quite as powerful of a Item lock as Vileplume was because it needs to be in the Active Spot in order to keep the Item lock going. This really limits the type of decks you can build around the card. If you want to use other attackers along with Gothitelle’s lock, you need to use attackers that remove themselves from the Active Spot after they attack. This really limits the type of decks you can build around Gothitelle’s Item lock as there simply aren’t a ton of great attackers with such attacks.

The other option of course is to create a deck that attacks with Gothitelle, which is what Gothitelle/Gardevoir does as a deck.

The deck uses Gothitelle’s Magic Room Ability to put a Item lock on your opponent. It then uses Gardevoir’s Psychic Mirage Ability to accelerate Energy, making each P Energy on Gothitelle count as two P Energy. You then place Exp. Shares on your benched Gothitelle lines to keep Energy on your field, quickly powering up more and more Gothitelle. The later Gothitelle in the Exp. Share line is going to be taking in Energy from the first Gothitelle that gets Knocked Out, and then from the second, and so on, making each Gothitelle more powerful than the one that preceded it.

Gothitelle’s Madkinises attack does 30 damage plus 20 more damage for each P Energy attached to Gothitelle. When paired with Gardevoir’s Ability, Gothitelle does 110 damage for 2 Energy (enough to 2HKO any EX in the format), 150 damage for 3 Energy, 190 damage for 4 Energy, and 230 damage for 5 Energy.

Here is what I have cooking for this deck so far.

Pokémon – 19

4 Gothita EPO 43

2 Gothorita DRX

4 Gothitelle EPO 47

3 Ralts NXD

1 Kirlia NXD

2 Gardevoir NXD

3 Emolga DRX

Trainers – 30

4 N

4 Cheren

3 Professor Juniper


3 Level Ball

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Rare Candy

2 Pokémon Catcher

4 Exp. Share

2 Super Rod

Energy – 11

11 P

pokemon-paradijs.comOne of the most important things I had to take into account when building this list was Mewtwo EX. Mewtwo EX is a double edged sword for this deck. In the early game, Mewtwo EX is a giant threat for this deck. Once you get setup though, you completely dominate any Mewtwo EX as you are able to 1HKO it with a Gothitelle that only has two Energy on it.

Mewtwo EX is a terror for this deck in the early game. It is able to donk both Gothita and Ralts with X Ball for a DCE on turn one, and when that happens, you’re going to have a tough time recovering to make much of a game of it, although in testing, I have had plenty of games where I have been able to recover against an early Mewtwo and make a come from behind victory, as Gothitelle is really strong against Mewtwo EX if you get setup.

When building and playing this deck, the possibility of an early Mewtwo EX threat has to always be at the forefront of your mind. My original build of this deck only played Gothitelle and Gardevoir lines, but this made the deck to susceptible to an early Mewtwo, so I added Emolga.

While the deck can get setup just fine without Emolga, Emolga can aide in your setup by benching multiple Pokémon with its Call for Family attack. More importantly, Emolga gives you a buffer that can protect your Psychic Pokémon from getting ko’d by Mewtwo EX in the early game if your opponent doesn’t have a Pokémon Catcher in hand.

The Gothita I play has Hypnotic Gaze, which costs C and puts the Defending Pokémon to sleep. This means 50 percent of the time your opponent’s active Pokémon won’t be able to do anything on their first turn if they don’t have a Switch or Full Heal (and no one plays that) in hand. Not the most dependable method of stall, but it could be just the little boost you need to get setup.

The Gothorita I play is the new one from Dragons Exalted, which has an attack, Hypnoblast, that does 10 damage and puts the Defending Pokémon to sleep. It can be used to stall against a Mewtwo EX, similar to Gothita.

Ralts is your worst possible starter. When you start with Ralts, you are starting with a Pokémon that is susceptible to Mewtwo donks, and starting Ralts also means that you are going to have to waste an Energy attachment at some point to get it out of the Active Spot. By playing the three copies of Emolga, you limit yourself to starting with Ralts in only 19 percent of your games.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe Pokémon search for this deck is pretty standard. Level Ball allows you to search out Gothita, Gothorita, Ralts, Kirlia, and Emolga. Pokémon Communication can search out any Pokémon in your deck. You can use the cards in tandem as well. You can search out a low HP Pokémon with Level Ball and then turn around and use Pokémon Communication to grab a Gothitelle or Gardevoir.

Overall, Gothitelle is a very strong deck that has a very weak Achilles heal to decks that are based around going for the early Mewtwo EX. Item lock is strong in general because most decks have to rely on Items for Pokémon search, recovery, and in the case of Dark decks, Energy acceleration, so getting an early Item lock can completely deny your opponent from setting up or being able to stream enough attackers to keep up with Gothitelle.

For example, a Garchomp/Altaria deck can have major troubles against Gothitelle because the deck is limited to a max of four attackers in the game, with this number usually being less as some part of the Garchomp line is usually prized and the deck has no form of recovery under Item lock. Once the game gets rolling, Gothitelle will be able to 1HKO Garchomp while the Garchomp player will be unable to 1HKO Gothitelle most of the time (needing one of their four Blend Energy, and two Altaria in play to do so).

A lot of decks are also playing four Bianca as a draw Supporter. With a Item lock up, you will clog your opponents hands with Items, making Bianca an ineffective Supporter, making it difficult for your opponent to draw through their deck and find what they need to try to formulate some type of response.

Gothitelle’s 130 HP is just high enough so that it doesn’t get Knocked Out by most attacks, while its damage output is high enough that it is able to 1HKO most Pokémon or 2HKO the EX’s, creating a positive prize exchange for the Gothitelle player.

If your Battle Roads meta is full of decks that go aggro Mewtwo, Gothitelle is probably too risky of a deck to play. If your meta is filled with decks that aren’t based around going aggro Mewtwo in the early game, than Gothitelle will be a strong choice for that tournament.

Blissey EX Decks

pokemon-paradijs.comI think Blissey DEX is a card that is going to form the backbone of some tank decks for the new format. Blissey has an Ability, Softboiled, which allows you to flip a coin and if heads heal 30 damage from your Active Pokémon. Therefore, if you have four Blissey in play, you can start healing off up to 120 damage off of your active Pokémon, allowing you to attempt to tank that Pokémon.

The math for this breaks down as the following when you have four Blissey in play:

0 Heads – 6.25%
1 Heads – 25%
2 Heads – 37.5%
3 Heads – 25%
4 Heads – 6.25%

Therefore, with four Blissey in play, you have a 93.75 percent chance of healing at least 30 damage, 68.75 percent chance of healing at least 60 damage, 31.25 percent chance of healing at least 90 damage, and 6.25 percent chance of healing 120 damage.

The following is the way the math works out for only three Blissey in play, which happens not too infrequently because of prize issues, and your opponent sometimes opting to go after your Chansey/Blissey’s instead of your Pokémon-EX.

0 Heads – 12.5%
1 Heads – 37.5%
2 Heads – 37.5%
3 Heads – 12.5%

This means that 87.5 percent of the time you will heal at least 30 damage, 50 percent of the time you heal at least 60 damage, and 12.5% of the time you heal at least 90 damage. While this isn’t the most impressive, just hitting one heads could turn a 2HKO into a 3HKO, which could be enough to win you the game.

You then play even more healing cards in the deck such as Potion or Max Potion, depending on which attacker you want to go with to tank even further.

The main Pokémon that I have been testing this type of archetype with has been Entei-EX. I feel like the card is the strongest tank card in the game because you are able to use Max Potion, and then accelerate R Energy back from the discard, creating one tough Pokémon to take down. My main concern for this deck would be how popular Empoleon gets. This deck has pretty much an auto-loss against Empoleon. A water weak EX, in a deck that is dependent on having a full bench is going to obviously have issues with Empoleon.

The following is my list for the Entei/Blissey deck.

Pokémon – 12

4 Entei-EX

4 Chansey DEX 80

4 Blissey DEX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 Bianca

4 N


4 Heavy Ball

4 Ultra Ball

4 Switch

4 Max Potion

4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Eviolite

1 Super Rod

Energy – 12

12 R

pokemon-paradijs.comOne of the best things about this deck is just how consistently it can setup. All of its Pokémon are searchable through Heavy Ball, which makes it very easy to get a Chansey, Blissey, or Entei-EX when you need them. Ultra Ball of course can search out any of these Pokémon as well, while also having the positive side effect of possibly putting R Energy into the discard.

This is important as Entei-EX’s attack, Grand Flame accelerates R Energy from the discard, which aides in getting more Entei-EX’s setup. (While also doing 90 damage of course). This attack is what makes Entei-EX the strongest Blissey partner, as it can recycle Energy from the discard allowing you to abuse Max Potion. Additionally, though, you can retreat your Entei-EX, use Max Potion, attach a R Energy and then use Grand Flame to attack another R Energy to it, which will have it ready to attack on your next turn already with one more attachment.

One potential problem for the deck can be a Sigilyph DRX, as its Safeguard Ability blocks your Entei-EX from doing any damage. If you think your opponent might play Sigilyph, you can setup a Blissey in two turns with Grand Flame, and Blissey’s attack does the magic number of 90 for Knocking Out a Sigilyph.

I don’t think this is a deck that I would play at a Battle Roads with the new format not including top cut. Without top cut, one game of bad flips can ruin your chance at winning the tournament. Additionally, another tank deck in Hydreigon/Darkrai will be widely played at Battle Roads, and while you might otherwise beat the deck, you could lose to time because the game gets drawn out so long as both decks continuously heal off and tank their Pokémon.

Mewtwo EX can be a bit of a problem, but without Shaymin UL in the format, it’s harder for decks to put together Mewtwo EX’s with a lot of Energy on them. A deck like Hydreigon/Darkrai that also plays Mewtwo EX will probably steamroll you as long as they can keep all of their Energy on their field by keeping a Hydreigon in play.

Terrakion-EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant

BulbapediaThe aim of Terrakion-EX based decks is to accelerate Energy to your benched Pokémon with Terrakion-EX’s Pump-Up Smash attack, which costs FFC and does 90 damage, while allowing you to attach two Basic Energy cards from your hand to your Benched Pokémon in any way you would like.

Mewtwo EX is a natural partner in a deck like this as you need to have a response for when your opponent attempts to overpower your Terrakion-EX with a Mewtwo EX.

Bouffalant DRX is another strong attacker against EX based decks. With Eviolite attached, it has an effective 140 HP when it hits the field as it has 100 HP and Eviolite and its Ability Bouffer pair together to reduce 40 damage from your opponent’s attacks. Its attack, Gold Breaker, does 60 damage plus 60 more damage if the Pokémon is an EX. This makes Bouffalant the strongest EX counter in the game, as it is able to 2HKO all EX’s while not being 1HKO’d by most of the EX’s.

The deck is just a kind of counter deck to the entire format. You have Terrakion-EX to deal with Darkrai EX, which will still be widely played in both its own deck and Hydreigon/Darkrai. The card is also fairly strong against Eelektrik decks, being able to ko Eelektriks for just two Energy and being able to 1HKO Raikou-EX and Zekrom-EX, both of which should see more play in the new format.

Mewtwo EX counters itself and Mew-EX, as well as tank decks as you can build up large Mewtwo EX’s with a few Pump-Up Smashes. As stated previously, Bouffalant is just a strong EX counter in general, being able to create a favorable prize exchange against EX’s.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at my list for this deck.

Pokémon – 9

4 Terrakion-EX
3 Bouffalant DRX

2 Mewtwo-EX NXD


Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Cheren


4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Ultra Ball

4 Eviolite
4 Switch
3 Energy Switch
2 Energy Retrieval

2 Tool Scrapper

Energy – 16

12 F

4 Double Colorless

BulbapediaAs you probably noticed, my list is a little bit different than how most players approached the deck. My version of this deck is built around being able to effectively use Pump-Up Smash. One thing I noticed when I first testing an inferior list is just how unreliable Energy acceleration from the hand can be. Just take some time in testing to see how often you have leftover Basic Energy cards in your hand when playing something with a standard 9 Basic Energy and 4 Double Colorless Energy. It’s going to be much less often than you think.

Everything in my deck is built around using Pump-Up Smash to its fullest potential. I play a very large amount of Energy, playing 12 F Energy, which attempts to optimize my chances of getting two Energy accelerated with the attack. I play four copies of Cheren over Bianca to build up a large hand to maximize my odds of having multiple Basic Energy in hand. Energy Retrieval gets you two Energy in hand to accelerate with the attack.

I chose not to play PlusPower, which I think most people have been playing in their versions of this deck. I never found the card to really be worth the space. I try not to engage in Mewtwo EX wars, choosing to instead attack into it with Bouffalant, and only choose to Knock Out a Mewtwo EX with my own when it has more than three Energy on it. Against other stuff that I need to work around Eviolite (say to 1HKO a Darkrai EX with Terrakion-EX or to 1HKO a Mew-EX or Shaymin EX with Bouffalant) I find the Tool Scrappers to be enough to get rid of Eviolite and hit the damage numbers you need.

Overall I find the deck enjoyable to play. It has a positive matchup against Hydreigon/Darkrai and Zekrom/Eelektrik variants, which should be two of the more played decks. However, it can struggle against lesser tier decks like Garchomp/Altaria and Empoleon, which are able to 2HKO your Pokémon and Rayquaza/Eelektrik, which is able to 1HKO your Terrakion-EX and Mewtwo EX with Rayquaza EX.

Devouring Until the Day I Die

The last deck I am going to cover is everyone’s favorite little bug type Pokémon, Durant. This is a deck that many people have marked up to being dead, but I don’t think we’ve exterminated the Durant infestation quite yet. The World Championships are in just a few days, so we will have to wait until they’re completed to see if Durant made any type of impact on that tournament, but I think we will be seeing the deck pop up again for Battle Roads.

Before I go into what I have found to work with Durant, I want to talk about what won’t work with Durant in BLW-on. The version of Durant that won’t work is the traditional Durant decks that did well during City Championships and State Championships. Below is the list I tested with for Durant.

Pokémon – 4

4 Durant NVI


Trainers – 46

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Bianca


4 Ultra Ball

4 Level Ball

4 Eviolite

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Revive

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Enhanced Hammer

4 Recycle

2 Super Rod

Energy – 10

10 M

What I found in testing this list is that in games where I had four Durant available, the deck could survive without Pokémon Collector. Level Ball and Ultra Ball replace it well enough. The deck could survive without Junk Arm, Recycle did a fair enough job, especially when paired with Bianca and Professor Juniper. What the deck couldn’t live without was Twins to search out the specific cards you needed to expertly disrupt your opponent. The lack of Special Metal also hurts as Durant can no longer stay out of the 1HKO range of the variety of Pokémon that hit for only 90 damage.

pokemon-paradijs.comObviously the lack of Rotom UD hurts, but the idea I had going into testing this deck was that Durant could possibly be strong enough that it could win almost all games in which none of the Durant were prized, which would be ~70 percent of your games. That would be good enough to land you into top cut, and in the top cut 2 of the 3 games you should have no Durant prized. Top cuts being eliminated from Battle Roads completely demolished this as being an effective strategy.

So with this type of Durant build being out of the question, the deck had to evolve in order to compete. Luckily for Durant, it gained a new partner in Aggron from Dragons Exalted, and they make for a mean milling machine.

Arrogant – Durant/Aggron – The New Mill

This is something that I put together a list for just to see if the deck works on some basic level, maybe it could be a fun deck for league or something. The more I’ve played the deck, the more I see the deck as a competitive threat. The name of the deck, by the way, was dubbed by John Kettler, and I think it’s a terrific name for the deck.

Durant now has two methods of milling, which helps the deck get by in games in which you have a Durant prized. Durant of course can mill using its Devour attack, which discards a card from the top of your opponent’s deck for every Durant you have in play. The deck also can take advantage of Aggron’s Toppling Wind Ability, which discards three cards from the top of your opponent’s deck when you evolve into Aggron. In most normal games, you are able to use Aggron’s Ability 5-6 times, which adds 15-18 cards to your mill, which is very powerful.

I think milling is a strong strategy in this format because of the Supporter change that came with the rotation. We are moving away from Professor Oak’s New Theory, which was a shuffle & draw Supporter to a format where three of the four Supporters are straight draw options, which takes cards out of your opponent’s deck. This leads to your opponent generally drawing through more of their deck just to get setup, which makes it easier for you to mill the rest of their deck away with Devour and Toppling Wind. More Stage 2 decks are going to be seeing play in BLW-on as well, and in general, Durant is going to be very disruptive to any setup deck.

Here is the decklist I have been testing with for Arrogant.

Pokémon – 13

4 Durant NVI

3 Aron DRX

3 Lairon DRX

3 Aggron DRX

Trainers – 37

4 N

4 Cheren

2 Professor Juniper

2 Random Receiver


3 Switch

4 Devolution Spray

4 Revive

3 Pokémon Catcher

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Level Ball

2 Super Rod


1 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 10

10 M

BulbapediaDurant of course is your main attacker in this deck. You use its Devour attack to discard a card from the top of your opponent’s deck for every Durant you have in play. With this build, you will be able to start with Durant in 66.5 percent of your games, which aides immensely in getting off the turn 1 Devour.

Lairon, the Stage 1-of Aggron is worth mentioning. Its attack Wreak Havoc costs MMC and does 60 damage and states, “Flip a coin until you get tails. For each heads, discard the top card of your opponent’s deck.” This provides you with another potential mill option. I have never used the attack in testing, but strange things can happen in tournaments that lead you to using such an attack as your victory strategy.

Aggron is your other main milling option, discarding the top three cards from your opponent’s deck every time you evolve into it. You are able to re-use this Ability for multiple turns by using Devolution Spray to de-evolve your Aggron back into Lairon, and then re-evolve it into Aggron on your next turn.

I went conservative on my Supporters, opting for a Supporter lineup that keeps cards in my deck. You can’t really afford to waste too many of your resources with this deck. You need to keep your evolution cards out of the discard and you need to keep as many of your Revive, Devolution Spray, and Switch in your deck as possible so you can keep a steady stream of Toppling Winds and a steady stream of Devour.

For this reason, I went with Pokémon Communication for half of my search as discarding resources with Ultra Ball (up to 8 different cards if you were to use all four Ultra Ball!) really hurts you in the long run. Heavy Ball is an option as well, as it can search out both Lairon and Aggron, but I prefer Pokémon Communication because of it’s Ability to also get me a Durant or Aron if I need them too.

Skyarrow Bridge is my tech against Sableye. Against decks that play Sableye, they can just use Confuse Ray over and over, leaving your Devour attacks up to a coin flip. Skyarrow Bridge lets you retreat freely between your Durant to snap them out of confusion. You can get by discarding Metals to retreat and using Switch for a little while, but eventually you will run yourself out of resources and lose as a result.


Hopefully in reading this article, I was able to provide you with a new way to look at the metagame and format that we are going to be entering into with Fall Battle Roads. I also hope that I have given you guys some deck ideas that can perform well at Fall Battle Roads that most people have overlooked.

If you have any comments or feedback, both positive or negative, please leave them on the forum thread. Any type of feedback is appreciated and helps me develop as a writer and commentator on the Pokémon TCG. If you have any further questions for me that you want to ask, but not in the thread, feel free to contact me through my e-mail WambyBambi@gmail.com or on Facebook.

If you enjoyed the article and found it helpful, please leave a Like for me. And once again, thanks for giving me the opportunity to write this article.

Lastly, I will be starting a new Pokémon YouTube channel around the start of Battle Roads. I will make sure to get a link out to the channel once it’s created, and I’d really like to hear what you guys would like to see in a Pokémon YouTube channel that might not be being done by the channels already out there.

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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