Pokemon ParadijsI was hoping to have some tournament reports to go along with this article, but as a result of the carelessness of TPCi in not releasing the season information in a timely fashion, I was unable to play in any Battle Roads this weekend. Originally, I had two slated for the St. Louis area this weekend, but our PTO understandably decided to push back these tournaments later into the month amidst the uncertainty of whether Battle Roads would have Championship Points, as he did not want players to have to make a decision of whether or not they should make travel arrangements without information on whether these events are even worth going to.
I will play in my first tournament of the new season this Sunday in one of the Southwestern Illinois locations, then play in two more Battle Roads in the St. Louis area the next weekend, take a week off, and then finish up with 1-2 Battle Roads the last weekend.
In total, I will most likely only play in four of these tournaments, which is a lot less than I was hoping to participate in, but the lack of communication from TPCi caused some tournament dates to change, resulting in some overlap with other Battle Roads within the state, so I won’t be able to play in quite as many as I was hoping to. I just have to make the best of the Battle Roads I can go to, and remember that I will still have plenty of chances to get Battle Road Championship Points come Spring Battle Roads.
This article can be broken up into three distinct parts. In the first part of this article I will be taking a look at the available Supporter cards in the format and share some new insights I have discovered with continued testing. In the second part of the article I will discuss a four Darkrai variants I have been testing out. In the third part of the article, I will be taking a look at Shiny Rayquaza and Rayquaza EX, including a bunch of different decks taking advantage of these great cards.
- 2012-2013 Season Information
- The Abusive Girlfriend – Bianca
- A Shade of Darkness
- Meet the Dragons – Rayquaza EX and Shiny Rayquaza
- Ho-Oh EX
- Wrapping It Up
Of course, Pokémon did end up relasing the season information on Friday right before Battle Roads, and I think this merits some discussion.
Across the internet, I have seen people celebrating, acting like it is going to be a cake walk to get into the World Championship this year, and I just don’t see it. I actually think it is going to be more difficult this year to earn an invite than it was last season.
What makes this season tougher is the de-emphasis of Battle Roads and City Championships. These events are still very important, but no longer can you build an invite just off of these events like you could last season.
Last season, 490 points was the needed amount to make it into the World Championship, this season, the cut off is at 400 points. This is 90 points lower than last season, which should make it easier, right? Not quite. The amount of available points has decreased significantly in the lower level events, and I think this is going to make it much harder to earn an invite this season than it was last season.
Last season, there were 160 points available from Battle Roads. With the reduction in point payout and best finish limits for the event, there are now only 90 points available to be earned from Battle Roads. Similarly, City Championships had a total of 300 points available last season, but this season there is only 200 points available in them. That’s a total of 170 possible points available from these smaller level events that has been removed from the system, well in excess of the 90 point reduction in the total amount of points needed to qualify for the World Championships.
20 additional points have been added onto Regional Championships, but that only adds a maximum of 60 points into the system for a player, and if you’re good enough to win three Regional Championships, earning an invite is going to be of little worry to you.
Let’s take a look at the type of success you will need this season to get an invite to the World Championships. Assuming that you max out all 290 points from local events, which is no easy feat and I think something most players won’t be able to do, especially in competitive areas, you still need to earn 110 points in big tournaments to earn your invite. This is no easy task because of the finite amount of these events and thus the finite amount of points available from these events.
That’s one thing that needs to be made clear with this system, we’re still all competing with each other, even if there is a cut off instead of top x getting in. Any points you are able to earn, especially at higher level tournaments, are points that other players aren’t getting. After State Championships conclude, and most people realize how far they are away from an invite with a limited amount of events remaining, then it will really sink in how difficult it is to earn an invite under the new system.
Under the above scenario, where you max out your local event points, a 1st or 2nd place finish at a Regional Championship will seal up your invite. Winning a State Championship will still leave you 10 points short, so you will need to make Top 32 at a State Championship with more than 128 people, a Top 16 finish at State Championships, a Top 64 or Top 32 finish at a Regional Championship (depending on size), or Top 128 at the National Championships to earn that invite.
Otherwise, something like two Top 8 finishes and a Top 16 finish at State Championships will be needed to seal the invite. This is all assuming that you actually managed to max out points at local events, which is something I don’t think most players will be able to do.
The bottom line is, if you want to earn an invite this year, you will need to do really well in larger tournaments to seal it. No longer can you be on the cusp of an invite just by doing well at local events.
I have adjusted my season plans accordingly. I am just going to stick local for the early Battle Roads, and then start serious traveling with City Championships. The nice thing about Battle Roads is that if I am on the verge of earning an invite later in the season, I can travel a lot for Spring Battle Roads to wrap up the last of the points I need. I am going to put more focus on doing well at the bigger events, while trying to sponge up as many points as a I can from local events.
With the invite structure the way it is, I just don’t find it all that worth it to stress out and spend a ton of money traveling to “local” events to try to maximize my chances at a Worlds Invite. I am just going to try to do really well at the local events I do go to, and hopefully get a solid number of points to which playing really well throughout the bigger tournaments wiill be enough to get me an invite.
PocketMonsters.netOh Bianca, Bianca, how I have tried to love you. I really have, I have put so much time and effort into trying to make this relationship work, but I really don’t think it is going to work out in the end. My friends tell me that you are good for me, but than you just turn around and find new ways to hurt me. I just can’t take your abuse anymore…I think it might be best to just end our relationship here and now.
If you couldn’t tell, I have some Bianca issues. I have given this card chance after chance, taking it out of decks, and slipping it back in at a lower count, and the result is always the same, this card just doesn’t want to work with me. I absolutely hate this card and think for the most part it is a horrible card.
I just don’t think the card has any synergy with the current format as their is a lack of options allowing you to discard cards from your hand. The only option that we have right now is Ultra Ball, and that card can only be played as a four of in your deck. If you don’t have an Ultra Ball in hand, then it becomes immensely harder to play down your hand to get good use out of Bianca.
In theory, decks that play Ultra Ball as well as Basic attackers that can instantly be played onto the bench can make good use of Bianca, but this works better in theory than it does in practice. With these types of decks, you can usually play down your hand to use Bianca, but it is almost never the best possible play. Oftentimes you end up with hands full of useful Items that can be played down, such as Tool Scrapper, Pokémon Catcher, or Max Potion, but you would rather hold onto these cards to use at a more optimal time, making a Supporter such as Cheren a better play than Bianca for these situations.
Pokemon ParadijsWith Registeel EX in the format, there are also a lot of situations where it doesn’t make sense for you to play down all of your Pokémon all at once, and rather stagger benching your Pokémon to reduce Triple Laser damage. When left with Bianca in this situation, you could be forced to bench additional attackers that you would rather wait on benching just to be able to make good use out of Bianca.
In decks with Stage 2 evolutions, I have found Bianca to be near unplayable. All too often in testing these decks with Bianca I have ended up with hands in which I am clogged with unplayable cards and an unusable Supporter in Bianca, just causing me to stall out to start the game.
I do think Bianca can see some success in use in decks that don’t have a lot of evolutions and also play a lot of Pokémon Tool cards, as these decks are going to be playing cards from their hand more often than other decks.
As a whole, I think Bianca is a card that is just incompatible with my playstyle. As a player, I like to fit in a lot of tech Trainer cards that I strategically plan when to use, and being able to conserve these resources is highly important to me as a player.
Comparably, Professor Juniiper can also force me to play down these cards before I would like to or otherwise discard them, but I am more comfortable doing this for the larger, more guaranteed return that comes from using a Professor Juniper.
I still do kind of like Bianca in a lower count in Darkrai decks that play Sableye, as I am able to Junk Hunt Ultra Balls to reduce my hand size, and then play down other Trainers like Dark Patch to play down my hand quite nicely. I also have had some success in playing it as just a one of in Eel variants. By playing it in such a drastically low count, it has been given little chance to hurt me in the early game, while still providing the bonus it provides in the late game when you’re getting N’d down to small hand sizes.
Pokemon ParadijsOne set of decks that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention lately are Darkrai variants that don’t necessarily use Hydreigon in them. Still, these decks have seen some moderate success both at Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals as well as some of our early Battle Roads, so I think they’re worth looking into some more.
I have tested a wide variety of Darkrai variants so far in this new format. Ever since it has come out, Darkrai EX has been one of my favorite cards, so I’ve found it very enjoyable to test out the spectrum of Darkrai decks, including some more rogueish concepts with the deck.
This is perhaps the Darkrai variant that I have had the most experience testing. The deck is still really strong, as it is one of the fastest deck in the format, as you have multiple turn one attackers that you can go with. Under ideal circumstances, you can still get the turn one Night Spear with Darkrai EX, otherwise X Ball with Mewtwo EX and Blow Through with Tornadus EX are other options.
With the return of evolution based decks, Tornadus EX has really grown into a much stronger attacker than it was at the end of last format. Being able to pick off something like two Deino on the first two turns of the game can simply eliminate any chance of your opponent being able to execute their strategy to win, and getting the donk every now and then is nice over the course of a tournament.
Here is the list I have developed for the deck.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 38
Energy – 13
The idea behind this Supporter engine is that you are playing a speed deck, so you are going to want to see as much of your deck as possible to try to put together all of the pieces for a fast setup or donk. With this type of Supporter engine, every Supporter that you play in the early game is going to be giving you a hand refresh of at least six cards, which greatly aides in your setup.
Recycle can be used to take this a step further. You can play Recycle to put Professor Juniper or N (usually Juniper though) as your top deck to ensure that you have a Supporter for the next turn, except in situations where your opponent plays N that turn, and even then, that’s not the worst thing possible, as you added in another Supporter into your deck, making it more likely for you to draw into it.
As a whole, Recycle is a very underrated card for this format. Players have been okay with playing flippy cards for powerful effects before, so I don’t really get why they have been so hesitant to play this particular card now. It’s definitely not a card I would play in every deck, but in decks like this where you already have everything you need for the most part maxed out, it is a good fit.
About half the time, I am using Recycle as a means to put Professor Juniper as my top deck to keep up a strong offensive. The other half of the time, I am usually putting Item cards back on top of my deck and using the card as a pseudo Junk Arm in conjunction with Professor Juniper to draw into that card on the same turn. You can also use the card to put something like the game winning Pokémon Catcher on top of your deck, and in any case, even if your opponent plays an N on their turn, you’re still in a stronger position because you now have one more of that card in your deck than you did before.
Pokemon ParadijsThrough all of my testing, I am still left uncertain on how I feel about this deck. It can do well against most decks in the format, as Darkrai in itself is very strong, but it can morph into a kind of Tornadus/Mewtwo deck if the matchup calls for that. I really do like the deck’s speed, as you are able to just completely dominate your opponent in a lot of games, or disrupt your opponent’s setup enough to comfortably get the win.
The problem I have had with the deck are those games, particularly against Hydreigon/Darkrai, where you aren’t able to disrupt your opponent’s setup and your left in a situation where you can never knock out any of their Pokémon if they hit into their max potions.
Rayquaza/Eelektrik also could pose some problems for this deck too. If they are able to get setup, they will win this matchup. If you are able to run their Eelektrik off the board early, you should win, as they won’t be able to stream strong Dragon Bursts. As this is one of the quickest decks in the format, it is able to run Eelektrik off the board better than most decks.
The last problem I have had with this deck is dealing with your opponent’s Registeel EX. This card by no means wrecks this deck at all, but in games where you just don’t hit into the right cards to properly deal with a Registeel threat those Triple Lasers can add up for some really big prize turns. Cutting the four Recycle for possibly 3 Eviolite (and then another Supporter card with the last slot) could be a solution, but I feel most people who decide to play Registeel EX are also going to be playing fairly high Tool Scrapper counts as Triple Laser is an otherwise unimpressive attack if all of your opponent’s Pokémon have Eviolites attached.
BulbapediaI could be wrong about this though, as in testing I haven’t seen too much Tool Scrapper played with Registeel yet, but I feel it will be paired soon as players begin to understand the new format more and more. I still think Eviolite serves some utility, as your opponent isn’t always going to have the Tool Scrapper to get rid of them.
I’m just not sure yet what counts everyone is going to be playing Tool Scrapper in their decks, so I’m hesitant to commit a lot of spaces to Eviolite in this deck right now, especially if it means cutting Recycle, which has been testing very strongly for me. I have just worked on staggering my Pokémon drops to prevent the damage from ever adding up for something nasty like a six prize turn.
This is the Darkrai variant without Hydreigon that I feel has the most potential. This is just an extension of the deck that won the World Championships. The deck can pose some major threats for most of the decks in the meta game. Darkrai EX in itself is a very strong attacker that is able to 2HKO all Pokémon in the format while spreading damage elsewhere on the field. Terrakion gives you an attacker that can OHKO major meta threats with a very energy efficient attack. Lastly, Mewtwo EX can be powered up with Double Colorless Energy and Energy Switch to swing for big damage.
Here is how the deck is looking for me so far.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 36
Energy – 15
Pokemon ParadijsThe basic strategy of the deck is to get off to a fast start with either Darkrai EX or Mewtwo EX. Usually you just go for Darkrai EX in the early game, and work on getting it setup by using Sableye’s Junk Hunt. Then you have Terrakion and Mewtwo to lean back on if the matchup calls for them.
The strategy of this deck has remained pretty much unchanged from what it was during the Spring and Summer, and that is just to be a very fast, very strong, and very versatile deck that is able to deal with any meta game threat while targetting major components of the meta game (Dark and Lightning Pokémon) for weakness.
In testing so far, I have found the deck to be much less powerful than it was in the HS-DEX format. The reason for this new lack of power is the loss of Shaymin UL, which allowed you to build up giant Mewtwo EXs out of nowhere and also Max Potion damage off of your EXs. While you can certainly power up some strong Mewtwo EXs, you are much more limited on just how quickly you can power it up.
Terrakion is much less affected by the loss of Shaymin UL than Mewtwo EX is. This is because all it takes to surprise drop a Terrakion attacking to its fullest potential is one manual attachment and one Energy Switch.
I still think the idea of using Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX in conjunction with each other is very powerful, so I’ve begun exploring new ways to try to make them work together, which brings me to my next deck…
What made Darkrai/Mewtwo such a strong deck is that it was able to create these monster Mewtwo EXs that could just OHKO anything. They could lead early with Darkrai EX and then shift the game into a Mewtwo EX war in which they had the proper positioning to come out as the victor. The ability to build up these types of monster Mewtwos isn’t something that is going to happen with just Energy Switch. In order to power up these giant Mewtwo EXs, you need something that can move energy more en masse, and we do have a Pokémon that can do that in this format in Hydreigon.
The general idea behind the deck is that you are going to get off to a fast start with either Darkrai EX or Mewtwo EX and overpower your opponent in the early game. Darkrai EX is usually your lead attacker, and then you move all of your Energy off of Darkrai and into Mewtwo EXs to finish up the game.
Because Shaymin UL is no longer around, a new means of moving Energy around is needed. As I said previously, I think Energy Switch is underpowerered for this concept. Hydreigon has been the solution I have come up for dealing with this problem. In some ways, Hydreigon is stronger than Shaymin UL as it can do Energy trans every turn, but at the same time, in any individual turn it is weaker than Shaymin was because Shaymin could also move Double Colorless Energy, something Hydreigon cannot do.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
BulbapediaThis deck could probably just get chalked up as being a different Hydreigon variant, but in reality, the deck is more of just the Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX deck in its next form. This deck is meant to be played aggressively, putting as much early pressure on your opponent with Darkrai EX (or Mewtwo EX) as possible. After putting early pressure on your opponent, you let the game devolve into a Mewtwo war which you should come up on top of as you are able to take advantage of double energy acceleration with Dark Patch and Double Colorless Energy to power up your Mewtwo EXs, and should be able to save energies on the field from earlier in the game as well.
Tool Scrapper is essential in making this deck work. The card is really a good card in almost any deck, but it fits really well in this deck as it keeps everything in 2HKO range for Darkrai EX, can make it easier to OHKO Pokémon with Mewtwo EX, and can remove Exp. Share from Terrakions, taking away their Energy acceleration, which greatly improves your Fighting matchup with Darkrai decks.
Most importantly for this deck though is removing any Tools that might end up on a Garbodor. This deck is reliant on being able to move energies around with Dark Trance, so you need to take care of Garbodor either by Tool Scrapping it or knocking it out so you can make use of your Abilities.
Even though we are in a new format and there are more ways than ever for dealing with a Mewtwo EX, the card is is still incredibly strong. Overpowering your opponent with Mewtwo EX or baiting them into a Mewtwo war that they cannot keep up in are still very viable strategies in the new format.
The last Darkrai variant that I am going to take a look at is more of a fun deck. This is not to say the deck is in anyway bad, it is perhaps the most powerful deck in the format when it gets an opportunity to setup properly. The problem for this deck is that it has a natural inconsistency in its build, and that is because the deck plays two different versions of a Pokémon with the same name, which limits the number of each copy of the card you can play, which hurts the deck’s consistency.
Nonetheless, here is my Darkrai rogue deck that I have poured a solid amount of testing into.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
Pokemon ParadijsThe strategy of this deck is to snipe early with Hydreigon NVI and then move the Energy off of Hydreigon and onto Mewtwo EX and Darkrai EX to take on the field of your opponent’s weakened Pokémon.
Hydreigon has an attack, Berserker Blade, which costs DDDD and does 60 damage to the active and 40 damage to two benched Pokémon. I think this is the strongest snipe/spread attack in the game right now as it has the potential to knock out a lot of Pokémon that would find themselves in the active spot in the early game, but it also can take out some popular Pokémon like Tynamo and Swablu that might be on the bench.
It isn’t too difficult to power up Hydreigon’s attack, as it has a Dark Aura Ability that turns all Energy attached to it into Darkness Energy, so you can just attach two Double Colorless Energy to it and be ready to attack on turn 2.
In general with this deck, you will want to use Hydreigon’s attack on turn 2, and then for as many turns as possible to build up damage on your opponent’s side of the field. You pretty much just use Hydreigon’s attack until it is about to get knocked out.
On turn three, you try to evolve into the Dragon Hydreigon so you can move Energy over to either Mewtwo EX or Darkrai EX (or even another Dark Hydreigon in games where you get a god setup). After a few Berserker Blades, most of your opponent’s pre-evolutions should just be knocked out, and if not, you’re opponent should have a field of bruised and battered Pokémon that you can prey on with Darkrai EX and Mewtwo EX.
Pokemon ParadijsThe beauty of the deck is that Dark Hydreigon allows you to move Double Colorless Energy around your field, as Dark Aura makes them count as Darkness energies allowing you to seamlessly transition from turn 2 Snipe Pressure to powerful Mewtwo EXs.
When the deck gets properly setup, I think it is definitely one of the strongest deck concepts for this format. It is able to wreck evolution decks and give EX heavy decks problems by softening up the EXs for Mewtwo EX and Darkrai EX. The deck also has the right mix of early game pressure and heavy hitters.
Unfortunately, as you are playing two different kinds of a Pokémon with the same name, you’re limited in how consistent you can really make the deck. Only being to play 2 of each evolution is rough, as prize issues or an early discard with Professor Juniper can disrupt your setup a bit until you hit into a Super Rod or take some prizes.
While this deck will be naturally inconsistent, I’ve tried to take steps to minimize these inconsistencies by making the deck as consistent as possible to it’s fragile setup. First of all, I play a lot of Pokémon search, 8 cards in total, as getting out multiple Deino on turn one, and then multiple Hydreigon soon after is of top priority. I maxed out Rare Candy to try to maximize my odds of the turn two Hydreigon, and I play multiple copies of Zweilous, as getting the turn two Dark Hydreigon is my main priority, and manually evolving through each stage is alright for Dragon Hydreigon as I don’t need that until a turn or two after Dark Hydreigon gets setup.
I don’t think this deck is the best deck in the format by any stretch because of it’s natural inconsistencies, but nonetheless it is a very powerful deck that can cause a lot of problems for most decks in the meta right now.
Pokemon ParadijsThere are some other Darkrai variants that might be worth taking a look at for Battle Roads as well. Probably my favorite out of this bunch is the Zoroark/Darkrai/Sableye deck, which I wrote a bit about in my last article. There are some small changes I would make to the list posted in that article. I would take out a Darkrai EX for a fourth Sableye, and take out the fourth Dark Claw for another consistency card, and also change the Supporter engine to 4 Professor Juniper, 4 N, 2 Bianca, and 2 Random Receiver.
I still think the deck is really good as it is able to hit for a lot of damage on turn two, and has versatility in its attack thanks to Foul Play. My only fear for the deck is that I don’t think it will be able to keep up with Rayquaza/Eelektrik decks, which can just go back and forth between a few different Rayquaza EXs knocking out Zoroark turn after turn for just two Energy discarded. In my experience with the deck in the HS-DEX format, the deck didn’t do well against decks that would start taking out Zoroarks early in the game and then just stream knocking them out turn after turn.
Darkrai/Sableye/Hammers is also a deck to take a look at. I haven’t really tested the deck at all. I played the deck the first week of Battle Roads last Spring to horrible results, going 1/17 on my flips, which made for a very bad day. After that experience, I’ve never really liked the deck.
I do think the deck might be able to gain some power by putting Garbodor in it, to shut off Abilities, most importantly Eelektrik’s Dynamotor. The addition of Garbodor could turn what was otherwise a bad matchup in Eelektrik into a much more manageable matchup. I’m just not certain such a deck is able to be properly built as Garbodor takes up a lot of space to fit it and everything it needs into a deck.
The last variant that I have seen getting some play is Darkrai/Chandelure. The idea behind this deck is to accelerate damage using Darkrai’s snipe, Dark Claw, and Chandelure NVI’s Cursed Shadow to build up a lot of damage on your opponent’s field very fast. I am completely unsold on these variants being viable. I feel the deck just lost too much with the loss of Smeargle and Junk Arm to be viable in this format.
BulbapediaPokémon certainly wasted no time giving us strong Dragon type cards. Dragon type cards are involved in what I think are going to be the two top performing decks of Fall Battle Roads, and that is Hydreigon/Darkrai and Rayquaza/Eelektrik.
Rayquaza/Eelektrik is a deck that I feel was a bit underrated going into week one of Battle Roads by most of the player base. The reason for this is an inability of players to understand and properly interpret tournament results from Japan.
When Rayquaza EX was first unveiled, all anyone talked about was how broken the card was going to be with Eelektrik, how it reminded them of a similar card in Magnezone, only with more attacking power, and other similar sentiments about the card being godly. Then it failed to make Top 16 at the first weekend of Japanese Spring Battle Carnivals and a large portion of the player base determined that Rayquaza EX wasn’t the good card they thought it was.
Of course, Rayquaza/Eelektrik variants began showing success in Japan in the last few weeks of their tournament series. As I wrote in my last article, I felt that Rayquaza/Eelektrik was one of the big four decks heading into Battle Roads, and I think this has definitely been true of the deck, with the deck winning multiple tournaments and taking a multitude of other top placings in week one.
I think the main reason for the decks success is the strength of Rayquaza EX as a card. The card is a total beast. Its first attack, Celestial Roar, allows you to look at the top three cards of your deck and attach any Energy cards you find there while discarding the rest, which gives you built in Energy acceleration. Its second attack, Dragon Burst, is what in my opinion is the strongest attack in the game right now. The attack does 60 damage for every Basic Lightning or Fire Energy card that you discard (you’re forced to discard either all Basic Fire or Basic Lightning Energy when using the attack), so for just three Energy discarded, you are able to knock out any EX in the format for an easy two prizes.
BulbapediaPerhaps what makes Rayquaza EX so strong is that it is able to act as a strong Mewtwo EX counter. Mewtwo is nothing special to it, just another EX it can OHKO for three Energies discarded. Rayquaza EX, however, is difficult for Mewtwo EX to deal with as it will usually leave itself with only one Energy on it after using Dragon Burst, which greatly weakens the power of X Ball.
The counters to Rayquaza EX are other Dragon type Pokémon, such as Garchomp, Shiny Rayquaza, Hydreigon, and Giratina EX. For this reason, it is highly recommended to not just play Rayquaza EX by itself, and give it some extra protection with Shiny Rayquaza.
I know it will be a tough pill to swallow for most players on paying out the price for this thing, but if you want to do well with this deck, you are going to need this card to do well. If you are just interested in playing this deck for Regionals, you can just wait until the Dragon Vault Blister Packs come out a week before Regional Championships and buy those to get your Rayquaza. If you want to play it for Battle Roads, however, you will be stuck with paying $60-90 price tag that has been floating around for this card on eBay as of late.
Rayquaza is also a Dragon type Pokémon and has 120 HP. Its first attack, Dragon Pulse, does 40 damage for L and forces you to discard the top 2 cards of your deck. Its second attack, Shred, does 90 damage and ignores any effects on the Defending Pokémon, meaning that it will be able to OHKO any Dragon type Pokémon in the game right now.
This card is so important to making Rayquaza EX work, as otherwise it would just end up in a losing prize exchange against non-EX Dragon Pokémon. By including this Rayquaza, you pretty much auto-win the Garchomp/Altaria matchup as you are able to knock out all of their Basic Pokémon on turn one with the card (except Emolga DRX if they play it), and it gives you an answer to dealing with Hydreigon and Giratina EX without ever having to play down a Rayquaza EX until the threat of those Pokémon is eliminated. And of course, it can be used in mirror to knock out your opponent’s Rayquaza EX.
The way I view these two cards are as partners in crime. Rayquaza EX is Batman and Shiny Rayquaza is Robin, allowing Batman to be able to do what he does best.
In this next section, I’m going to take a look at some conventional and less conventional decks built around the two Rayquaza, and then finish it up with an in depth look at Rayquaza/Eelektrik.
The first deck I am going to take a look at is just Quad Rayquaza. The deck attempts to do two things. First, this deck is all about donking your opponent as much as possible with Dragon Pulse. Once setup, it attempts to be able to exchange 2HKOs with all of the EXs in the format.
Pokémon – 4
Trainers – 43
Energy – 13
BulbapediaWhile this type of deck concept might have been able to work in past formats, I don’t think it can really be very successful in this format. If your opponent plays Tool Scrapper, you’re going to have trouble keeping Exp. Share on the field, which will limit you from doing the 90 damage Shred attack often enough to win.
The deck still has a solid Eel matchup, as it is able to take out Tynamo on turn one fairly easily, and the deck pretty much auto-wins Garchomp/Altaria. Against Hydreigon decks not running Tool Scrapper, you should be in good shape, being able to OHKO Hydreigon and 2HKO any non-EX. Where you end up in trouble with this deck is against decks that don’t have weak Pokémon to pick off and that also play Tool Scrapper to disrupt your Energy acceleration.
The evolution of this deck is to include Altaria to power up Rayquaza’s attacks to do more damage. This deck attempts to power up the attack damage of Rayquaza’s first attack with Altaria’s Fight Song Ability. The attack can do 60 damage with one Altaria, 80 damage with two, 100 damage with three, and 120 damage with four in play.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 38
Energy – 10
The deck is able to swing fast on turn one with Rayquaza, and then transition into more powerful attacks on turn 2 or turn 3. Against evolution decks, this speed can end the game very fast, and in general, you should be able to take care of most Dragon type decks with this deck.
Where this deck struggles is with decks that are able to withstand the early pressure, get setup, and then start knocking out all the Altaria on the field, leaving Rayquaza only to be doing small amounts of damage.
The deck also hurts its own self as you’ll be discarding two cards everytime you attack, so decking out is always going to be a concern with this deck, as well as discarding important resources.
On the flip side of the Quad phenomenon is Quad Rayquaza EX, which is a deck that aims to exploit EX Pokémon for prizes. The deck uses Rayquaza EX’s Celestial Roar attack to power up its Dragon Burst attack with Energy, for a fairly scary turn two attack.
Pokémon – 4
Trainers – 31
Energy – 25
Pokemon ParadijsBy playing a high Energy count, you are able to make strong use of Rayquaza EX’s Celestial Roar attack for Energy acceleration. If you can get two manual attachments, plus two more Energy off of Celestial Roar, you can easily be position for a turn two 180 damage to knock out your opponent’s EX Pokémon. Even just three Energy and a PlusPower could be enough to knock out threats like Zekrom or Terrakion on turn two of a game.
Tool Scrapper is needed to keep all EXs in OHKO range, as well as to scrap Exp. Share on your own Rayquaza EX in favor of Eviolite. PlusPower is needed in the deck to knock out stuff with 70 HP with just one Energy, or stuff with 130 HP for two Energy discarded.
The deck is really strong against big EX heavy decks, and can do fairly well against a lot of decks just by getting off to a fast, explosive start. Anytime your opponent fails to get out a second Pokémon on their bench on their first turn, they are probably going to get benched on turn 2 against this deck.
Where this deck naturally struggles is against Dragon type decks that can OHKO Rayquaza EX. That means you have to write up Garchomp/Altaria as an auto-loss, and Rayquaza/Eels will be a poor matchup as well. Hydreigon/Darkrai is tough if you can’t prevent them from getting a Hydreigon in play as well. One solution to this, could be to replace the Tool cards with Enhanced Hammer to discard Blend Energies to prevent Hydreigon from attacking in that matchup.
Overall, I think the poor Rayquaza/Eelektrik matchup makes this deck pretty much unplayable, but if your metagame is lacking in Garchomp and Rayquaza decks, this deck can be a monster for some other decks to deal with.
The other second tier Rayquaza deck that exists is to pair Rayquaza EX with Emboar for Energy acceleration, allowing you to quickly power up Dragon Burst attacks in one turn.
Here is what a list for this deck would look like.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 35
Energy – 14
Pokemon ParadijsThis deck is very scary in that it can power up a Rayquaza EX on turn two fairly easily if you are able to get Emboar out. And that’s always the problem with Emboar decks for me, the inconsistency of being able to get Emboar our on turn 2 of a game. Additionally, you have to deal with your Emboar being catchered up, which can allow your opponent to stall if you don’t have a Switch in hand.
One of the nice things about the Emboar variant opposed to the Eelektrik variant of the deck is that you don’t need to worry about cycling through multiple Rayquaza EX (or switching your Rayquaza EX to the bench) in order for it to be recharged. You can just Inferno Fandago energy onto it in the active position, allowing you to keep the same Rayquaza EX attacking that you attacked with the turn before.
Because the deck uses Fire as the base Energy instead of Lightning, it is much more difficult to make use of Rayquaza as an early game attacker than it is in the Eelektrik variants of the deck. It is still possible, but it’s not something I would base my strategy around like I would in the Eelektrik variant of the deck.
Energy Retrieval is especially strong in this variant of the deck. An Energy Retrieval and one other Fire Energy in hand is all you need to power up Rayquaza EX for another Dragon Burst for 180 damage.
All in all, this is still a very strong deck, but I have found it to be a little bit more inconsistent than the Eelektrik variant of the deck, as an Energy accelerator that takes Energy from the discard pairs better with an attack that discards Energy than a hand Energy accelerator does.
Last, but certainly not least in our list of Rayquaza centric decks is Rayquaza/Eelektrik decks. This deck began to catch on as a powerhouse during the end of Japanese Spring Carnivals and has made an early splash with a successful first week showing at Fall Battle Roads. A lot of really good players, such as Jason Klaczynski, Justin Sanchez, and Brit Pybas adopted the deck for the first weekend of Battle Roads, and all of the decks little tricks were in full showing for the start of Battle Roads.
The deck aims to get off to an early aggressive start with Rayquaza and then transitions into Rayquaza EX for heavy hitting.
There have been two main ways that the deck has seen play, and that is as just straight up Rayquaza Eels and as a kind of hybrid Eels version with other attackers.
Here is what my hybrid version of the deck looks like.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 33
Energy – 13
Pokemon ParadijsThis version of the deck gives you another attacker in Zekrom, which is always a strong option. The Spark Tynamo can be used to setup OHKOs for Zekrom on stuff like opposing Zekrom and Terrakion. Zekrom also helps to shore up your Empoleon matchup, giving you an option to OHKO it.
Raikou EX is solid in this version, as you already play an off type Energy, allowing you to get away with only two cards discarded when using Volt Bolt, making it easier to recharge Raikou for another Volt Bolt. Raikou is good for the end of the game to try to take out any bench sitters and is solid in Eel mirror for taking out your opponent’s Eelektrik without using a Pokémon Catcher. It is also another Pokémon with free retreat with Skyarrow Bridge that you can promote to charge up a benched Rayquaza EX.
This version is certainly strong, and a little more versatile, but the version of the deck I have found to like the most is a more Rayquaza focused version of the deck.
This is what my list looks like right now for that version of the deck.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 32
Energy – 15
Pokemon ParadijsWhat I like about this version of the deck is that it has such a clear and focused strategy of early aggression with Rayquaza in the early game and then transition to hard hitting with Rayquaza EX in the mid and late games.
Probably the most notable feature of this list (and a lot of lists) is the return of the 30 HP, free retreat Tynamo. This Tynamo is really good in this version of the deck as it helps to maximize the odds of starting with a Rayquaza attack on turn one. I still am hesitant to go all out and play these as a four of just because Registeel exists now, making for a Pokémon that is easily able to take out multiple of these in one quick swoop.
Darkrai variants I am less worried about. I still have two of the 40 HP Tynamo to fall back on, and you can just kind of play this Tynamo like players played Solosis in their Truth variants during Spring Battle Roads, playing multiples down at a time. You can also somewhat successfully use Pokémon Catcher early in the game to stall the Darkrai player from getting the Night Spear for an extra turn. Also, just going first in the game can usually eliminate this problem as well.
Skyarrow Bridge is a really good Stadium for this deck. Originally I played a build without Skyarrow, as the one energy discard to retreat wasn’t the biggest of deals, but being able to conserve energy a little more gives that deck a little extra edge.
BulbapediaThis matchup is as close to an auto-win as you are going to get in this game. Rayquaza is able to start knocking out all of their Pokémon (except maybe an Emolga or their own Rayquaza, which would be a one of tech at most) from turn one on. If you go first, and they start with a Swablu or Gible, you’re probably going to donk them and win the game there. If not, I would just focus on taking out any pieces of their Garchomp lines, forcing them to hit into their Super Rods to try to keep up any type of attack.
Once the Garchomp stuff is eliminated from their field, they are just left with a bunch of Altaria that are up for easy pickings. This has been my strategy with most decks against Garchomp/Altaria, and it has proven to be quite successful. Once the Garchomp lines are eliminated, they’re just left with a field of non-attackers and lose.
This is generally a favorable matchup. You have two things going for you against this deck. You’re able to OHKO their Hydreigon with Rayquaza and Shred, shutting off their Energy trans. From there, you have Rayquaza EX, which is able to OHKO any of their Pokémon. You don’t necessarily have to target their Hydreigon right off the bat, but if you can keep it out of play, that is always a good thing.
However, just knocking all of their energy off the board by Dragon Bursting a Darkrai EX or whatever they’re attacking with can give that deck a lot of problems. From there, you can go back to targeting any Hydreigon lines. I should make one thing clear though, this is by no means an auto-win matchup. If they’re able to get a quick Darkrai EX and take out your Eelektrik in the early game you can be in a tough spot.
Against these decks, you just want to go for your normal setup. Get a Rayquaza EX up and ready to use a strong Dragon Burst to OHKO Darkrai EX, knocking most of their Energy off the board. From there, you put the pressure on them to power up more and more of their attackers, which of course, you can just Dragon Burst and OHKO.
Like the Hydreigon matchup, you just have to worry about them getting a fast Darkrai that takes out your Eelektrik lines, but this matchup is overall easier than the Hydreigon matchup, as you only have one threat to deal with instead of two and can just go aggro Rayquaza EX.
Pokemon ParadijsThis is, in my opinion, the toughest matchup for the deck. I would put it at about a 50/50, with a slight edge to the Rayquaza variant of the deck. The reason for this is that you play Rayquaza, allowing you to start picking off their Eelektrik lines on turn one and go up in the prize exchange immediately in the game. This is actually a hard matchup to really just give a blanket matchup rating for, as it all depends on what they play in their deck.
If they just are playing standard Mewtwo, Zekrom, and maybe Raikou EX and Thundurus EPO, you should stomp all over them. The Pokémon that kind of equalizes this matchup is Registeel EX variants of the deck, which can apply early pressure on your Eelektrik lines, as well as setup Rayquaza EXs for OHKOs with Bolt Strike with Zekrom.
I’ve been considering dropping one of each Energy type for two Enhanced Hammer as a means of dealing with an early Registeel EX.
You should be in fairly strong shape against any of these variants of the deck. You just have to work on powering up a Rayquaza EX early to knock out the Terrakion EX to shutoff their Energy acceleration for the game. The Bouffalant will be certainly annoying, but once you knock one of those out, it will be difficult for your opponent to quickly setup more of those without their energy acceleration in play.
Against this deck, I have adopted a somewhat unorthodox strategy, and that is to just Celestial Roar for a few turns to build up enough Energy on a Rayquaza EX to OHKO their EXs, while slowly working on getting some Eels setup to stream attacks. So far in testing, I have been targetting the Groudon EX first and foremost, as if I can get an Eviolite on my Rayquaza EXs, Triple Laser is pretty ineffective, only doing 10 damage.
Using Tool Scrapper to remove the Exp. Share from Groudon EX and then taking out the Registeel EX with Dragon Burst is also an effective strategy as well. In the mid to late games, just one turn of being able to Dynamotor is enough to turn the game into a rout.
In a format with Tool Scrapper, trying to run a deck with Exp. Share as your only form of Energy acceleration is highly questionable to me, and seems to be this deck’s (as well as the variant playing Terrakion instead of Groudon) downfall. You still should stagger your Pokémon drops against this deck though in case they also play Tool Scrapper to put Triple Laser back at its full effectiveness.
Pokemon ParadijsI have heard of some players complaining about feeling like they were unable to beat Empoleon with this deck, and I honestly just don’t get it. With the hybrid version, you should be able to just run the Empoleon lines off the board with your Lightning attackers. In the Rayquaza-centric version, I have adopted the strategy of just playing down my two Rayquaza EX and placing Eviolites on them, using Celestial Roar to power up Dragon Bursts, and just targeting the Empoleon lines, forcing them to similar to Garchomp to have to hit into their Super Rods to keep a stream of attackers going.
It’s important to keep in mind that one Energy discarded is enough to knock out a Piplup, so it can make a lot of sense to target those in the early game instead of any fully evolved Empoleon if your Celestial Roar’s are subpar. If you have an Eviolite attached, you can turn the exchange into a series of 4HKOs for the Empoleon player.
As you begin to remove their Empoleon lines from play, then you go for your normal setup, and just stream Dragon Burst over and over again to get rid of their remaining attackers, which should consist of Stunfisk and Mew EX, and then also Emolga, which isn’t a damage threat.
This is another matchup that I would consider around a 50/50. This matchup is completely dependent on how fast they are able to power up their Registeel EX. If they can get it online turn one, they are going to have the edge in the matchup, but a turn two Registeel is manageable, and a turn 3 Registeel won’t be much of a threat as you should have most of your setup coming to completion. If they can’t run your Eels off the board, you simply OHKO all their EX attackers with Dragon Burst for a fairly straightforward win.
This is the matchup that I would be most worried about heading into Battle Roads, just because you can’t really do much to get out of the lock if they hit all the resources they need. My strategy against this is to apply early pressure with Rayquaza, trying to take out any Gothita I can before they evolve. From there, once they have the lock setup, take out any Gothitelle they have with Dragon Burst when you get the opportunity to put the game back in a state of non-Item lock, and then use your Switches to break out of Paralysis.
You have a few options to go to at this point in the game. You can attempt to Dragon Burst their Darkrai EX for two prizes, or if you sense they are going to be vulnerable in looping Deck and Covers, you can take a knock out on an Accelgor, and N them before taking the knock out to put a lot of pressure on them to hit the cards they need for another Deck and Cover.
That’s about all there is that you need to know about Rayquaza/Eelektrik heading into week two of Battle Roads. I think it is the strongest deck in the format right now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The reason for the deck’s success is that it is so difficult to counter, as Rayquaza is the Dragon counter, and this deck is able to run the card better than any other deck.
It will be interesting to see how the meta develops to adjust for this deck. It won’t be as simple as finding a direct counter to the deck like was the case for dealing with Darkrai EX. Instead, players will need to find other inherently strong decks to deal with this deck. If players can get Emboar/Rayquaza lists figured out to consistently get setup on turn 2, while also fitting all of the Energy and recovery cards they need, it could be a threat.
Otherwise decks that are able to go for an early Registeel like Registeel/Eelektrik and Ho-Oh variants would seem to pose the best threats to this deck to me.
BulbapediaThis is a deck that I feel that should get some mention in this article, as it performed quite well the first weekend of Battle Roads, winning a few of the Southern Battle Roads, including the sweep of one Battle Roads mini marathon in I think Arizona.
I don’t have a list for this deck or anything, as I have not spent the time developing a list for this version of Ho-Oh as I want to maintain focus on my testing for the decks I have been practicing with for a long time now, and the versions of Ho-Oh EX, using Ho-Oh EX as a main attacker all proved to be subpar in testing, and those are really the only variants I have personally built for the deck. I have been able to playtest against it though the past two days, and it does seem to be a solid deck.
What the Ho-Oh decks that have been successful have sought to do is pair Ho-Oh EX with a bunch of Colorless attackers and use Ho-Oh EX along with Energy Switch as Energy acceleration to quickly power them up. The deck is kind of like a modern day CMT deck, only with less emphasis on the turn one, and more emphasis on a strong turn two, and a greater ability to power up attackers in the mid and late game.
The main attackers I have heard about being used in these decks is Registeel EX, Mewtwo EX, and Tornadus EX. Some players are also playing Terrakion NVI in the deck to counter Darkrai and Lightning Pokémon.
I’m not sure how consistently these players have been able to get the turn one attacks off, but a turn one Registeel EX is a major threat to every deck in the format. This is certainly a deck I am going to try to look more into in the coming week, as I greatly enjoyed playing CMT, and the deck itself seems like it has the potential to be a major threat heading forward.
In my limited testing against the deck so far, it doesn’t seem like anything format breaking, just another strong deck to add to the other strong decks in the format.
No Sleep in Helena AlabamaWith all that said, it is time to put all of my testing to good use. I am going to get to play in my first tournament of the season this weekend, either in Edwardsville, IL or Belleville, IL. I am still a bit undecided on what deck to play. The three major decks I have been considering are Rayquaza/Eelektrik, Darkrai/Terrakion, and Landorus.
If I had all the cards for it, I would certainly play Rayquaza/Eelektrik, but I am limited right now in the number of Shiny Rayquaza I have available, so I would have to play a hybrid version of the deck which I am less thrilled about playing than the straight Rayquaza version. Darkrai/Terrakion is just a safe, strong choice, but I’m not sure it is the best choice since I expect to see a lot of Eelektrik variants with Max Potion and heavy Mewtwo counts, which can give the deck problems.
Landorus would be solid as a meta counter, as I know a lot of players seem to be favoring Eel variants in my area, but I feel scared to play the deck because of the threat of running into one Empoleon deck ruining the tournament for me.
I think in the end, I’ll just end up playing the Rayquaza/Eelektrik hybrid deck and work on making room for some Enhanced Hammers, as I expect to see a lot of Registeel EX as well. Either way, I am going to get a chance to play some Pokémon this weekend, so it’s a win/win situation no matter what.
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