BulbapediaI hope you remember my first UG article, “Journey Through the Dark.” If you do not, then the title of this one will probably sound very silly. If you didn’t read “Journey Through the Dark,” or have just forgotten what that journey was about — here is a refresher.
I wrote that article in order to explore the different Darkrai EX variants that showed promise immediately following the release of Dark Explorers. I tested four different variants, compared the results and picked the one I thought would be the strongest choice for the 2012 U.S. National Championships.
Now that we have been given Dragons Exalted, we are in a similar situation with another really strong Pokémon… it’s just not Darkrai EX this time (although there seems to be some debate about the strongest Darkrai EX variant at the moment… but I’m not here to comment on that). This time I will be talking about some of the most promising Eelektrik variants and (hopefully) picking the one that has the most promise when it comes to Fall Regionals.
pokemon-paradijs.comMy intention for this article is to identify the best Eelektrik variant. There are so many varying ways to play Eelektrik — so many subtle differences betweens lists that can make huge differences in games. Should you spend a lot of money on the secret rare Rayquaza DRX? Should you play 4 Eelektrik? 30 HP Tynamos or 40? Max Potion and Raikou-EX? How about Tornadus EX, Thundurus, and Zekrom-EX? And, of course, where does Mewtwo EX fit into all of this? There are so many questions like these ones and I really hope I can find satisfactory answers to them all.
I am very certain that an Eelektrik variant could easily be the best deck to play for Fall Regionals. Since its release, Eelektrik has proven to be a very strong contender. It didn’t perform very well at Worlds, however. This was largely due to the fact that Darkrai EX gained a lot more from cards like Junk Arm and Smeargle since they allowed the Darkrai EX variants to have ridiculous turn ones and turn twos.
Although these cards were also quite helpful for Eelektrik variants, these decks were still a turn or two slower than the Darkrai EX variants. As a result, they had to play from behind usually. Much of the time they would be too far behind to catch up.
Now that we are without Junk Arm and Smeargle, the format has become significantly slower. As a result, Eelektrik variants are now some of the most speedy variants available to us. There are a plethora of first turn attacking options. We have Thundurus EPO, Tornadus EX, and Rayquaza DRX. There are also lots of new options like spread through Registeel-EX and massive damage through Rayquaza EX. And speaking of Rayquaza EX — we have a completely new, Dragon type! Should Eelektrik variants worry about Garchomp, Hydreigon, or opposing Rayquazas?
pokemon-paradijs.comAlong with all the new opportunities for Eelektrik, there are an array of threats. A small wave of new Fighting Pokémon washed in when Dragons Exalted was released. We now have Terrakion-EX, Stunfisk DRX (my favorite), and — although not Fighting — Bouffalant (he is in a lot of Fighting decks). Should we consider these Pokémon when building Eelektrik decks? What about Sigilyph DRX? Does he pose problems for Eelektrik?
Finally, we can not ignore the smelly, trash-like elephant in the room. Yes, I am speaking of Garbodor DRX. How much does his filth pollute our precious Eelektrik variants?
Like I said, there are a lot of questions surrounding Eelektrik right now. There are so many directions you can go with this electric fish… which one should you head in? Well, I am going to start answering this complicated question right now!
Eelektrik/Zekrom a.k.a. ZekEels
Prior to U.S. Nationals, there was only one Eelektrik variant on our radar — ZekEels. However, after U.S. Nationals, the community became aware of the Raikou-EX/Max Potion variant that Kevin Nance piloted to a spectacular, second place finish. I will talk about the Raikou-EX/Max Potion variant in a bit. For now, I want to talk about the version we have been accustomed to for the longest amount of time.
Here is my current ZekEels list…
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 33
Energy – 13
This section will likely be significantly longer than the other sections because I have a lot of initial thoughts that need to be addressed.
pokemon-paradijs.comUnlike many evolutions, Eelektrik has several options regarding which Tynamo he should evolve from. There are four different Tyanmos available to us at the moment — only three of which you should consider using (there is absolutely no reason to consider playing the Charge Beam Tynamo). Each of the other Tynamos have strong cases for deck inclusion. Of course, I believe in a proper ranking of things — so one has to be the best.
Based on conversations and observations at my Battle Roads, I have noticed a resurgence in the popularity of the 30 HP Tynamo. Of course, most of the variants running the 30 HP Tynamo are the ones including Rayquaza. I’ll talk more about which Tynamo to use in that version when I get to that section.
In regard to ZekEels, I do not think the 30 HP Tynamo is a wise choice. The free retreat is not worth the risk of playing a 30 HP Pokémon that can easily be Knocked Out by Night Spear and Triple Laser. The reason why the 30 HP version might be more useful in the Rayquaza variant is because that variant consistently discards every turn and, therefore, needs to switch between benched and active Pokémon quite frequently in order to replenish attackers with Dynamotor.
There is also a stronger case for attacking with SR Rayquaza first turn because if you are able to do this against Garchomp/Altaria, you will most likely win that matchup. However, if they are able to get set up, the Rayquaza player will probably have some issues dealing with the Dragon weakness on their Pokémon.
In general, it would be nice to perform a productive attack on the first turn of the game — the primary reason why you would want to play the 30 HP Tynamo — but the ZekEels version is a bit less aggressive than some of the other variants. This implies that doing damage on the first turn is less of a priority.
pokemon-paradijs.comIn my list, the only big damage you can do on Turn 1 involves the use of Tornadus EX (40 with Mewtwo EX can be useful too… but I personally don‘t like attacking with Mewtwo EX early on unless my opponent definitely doesn‘t play Mewtwo EX, Mew-EX or Sigilyph). In order to do 60 with Blow Through, you will need a Skyarrow Bridge. This means that it doesn’t matter what Tynamo you open with in order to perform a strong attack first turn since you need the Stadium regardless.
So now to pick between the Spark and Thunderwave Tynamo. If you looked over the above list, you should have seen that I prefer the Thunderwave version. Of course, there is some preference involved in this decision. However, there are some really strong arguments for a Paralysis attack right now. Preventing a Sabelye DEX from using Junk Hunt or an Emolga DRX from using Call for Family can be extremely devastating first turn. A first turn status effect can completely ruin the set up of some decks.
Of course, there are some instances where Spark would be useful. Setting up knock outs on Garchomps, Terrakions, etc. However, in my experience with this list, I have never come across a time where I would have preferred to use Spark over some other attack. Those wonderful Spark knock outs are far too elusive to warrant the inclusion of this Tynamo. I have profitably used Thunderwave too often to throw that away for the extremely rare games that Spark might have been better.
3 vs. 4 Eelektrik
pokemon-paradijs.comI am not exactly sure what happened between last format and this format to cause some people to want to play 4 Eelektrik instead of the standard 3. Perhaps because you can not Junk Arm for Super Rod to get our dead or discarded Eels out of the discard pile more than once? Perhaps because it is harder to search out Pokémon in the new format?
I am not really sure what the reason is, but for ZekEels I have never wanted the fourth Eelektrik. The obvious substitute for a fourth Eelektrik would be to cut a Level Ball… but Level Ball seems much better to me than a fourth Eelektrik. Obviously, a Level Ball can search for the Eelektrik you need… but it can also search for a Tynamo.
In the case of Eelektrik/Rayquaza, 4 Eelektrik might be better because you will be discarding energy almost every turn with Dragon Burst. Thus you will need to reattach those discarded energy every turn in order to keep using Dragon Burst. In these decks, there is a very strong benefit for getting 3 Eelektrik in play.
In the case of ZekEels, you will not be discarding energy every turn nor will you need to reattach 2-3 energy a turn to stay in the game. Thus, having 3 Eelektrik in play is only marginally better than having 2 in play. It is for this reason (and since more Level Ball is better) that I am sticking with 3 Eelektrik in my ZekEels lists.
I was originally playing a Thundurus because it seemed like his inclusion would greatly improve the early game of this variant. However, I was wrong. I never, ever used Thundurus… and I’ve played at least 50 games with ZekEels the past several months.
The reasoning for Thundurus seems reasonable. A turn one Charge allows for an easy turn two 80 and puts more L Energy onto the field and into the discard pile. Even if Thundurus is a lackluster attacker beyond the first few turns of the game, his early game strengths are beneficial enough to include this Thunder God.
pokemon-paradijs.comThat all sounds fine and dandy… but the turn two Disaster Volt is far too elusive. Why do you ask? There are two reasons for this. The first is that since the typical list would only play 1-2 Thundurus, the probability of opening with a non-Thundurus is quite high. This means that you will have to find a way to get the non-Thundurus out of the Active Spot and fish the Thundurus out of the deck. The former is rather hard to accomplish unless you are playing an unusually high count of Skyarrow Bridge or Switch (or you could be playing the 30 HP Tynamo… but I have already talked about why I do not like this card).
The latter implies that you are not devoting resources to the crucial process of accumulating a bench full of multiple Eelektrik. If, instead of using Ultra Ball for a Tynamo, you are using the Ultra Ball for a Thundurus, you are trading a perhaps better turn two or turn three for a (most likely) much worse turn four and beyond.
Thundurus and the 30 HP Tynamo are both greedy cards (when I say cards are greedy I mean cards that have a high-risk high-reward payoff). I suppose in-game greed and early game prowess are related to play style, but the latter turns matter! The 30 HP Tynamo might allow for a strong first turn but what about when they are being 1-shot by Night Spear and Triple Laser?
Although the inclusion of Thundurus is less greedy, the eyes of Thundurus players are still flashing dollars signs ($_$). Instead of including 1-2 Thundurus, you could be including an extra Supporter or a different attacker that is useful beyond the first few turns of the game. These little decisions really matter — they are the difference between a list that will win a big tournament and one that will not.
I want to be quite clear — the benefits of Thundurus and 30 HP Tynamo inclusion do exist… but so do the costs. My testing has indicated that the costs are much higher than the benefits.
pokemon-paradijs.comEver since U.S. Nationals, Max Potion has gotten quite popular. Its popularity has definitely continued into the new season. Max Potion’s price has risen considerably in the past few months (it’s already up to around $4.00 and steadily increasing).
Lately, it seems like everyone is throwing some Max Potion into their decks — particularly Eelektrik lists. They prevent Night Spear knocks on benched Eels and allow you to deny prizes on your damaged EXs. The arguments for Max Potion in Eelektrik variants are quite compelling.
I have won many a game as a result of Max Potion. They are extremely useful against Hydreigon/Darkrai EX and decks with Registeel-EX. Of course the strategy that opposing decks adopt when playing Eelektrik variants is quite simple — eliminate the Eelektriks. Darkrai EX players try to rack up Night Spear damage on benched Eelektriks and Registeel-EX players try to Triple Laser all the Eelektriks into oblivion. Max Potions keep Eelektriks in play longer which allows for more Dynamotors! What Eelektrik player doesn’t want more Dynamotors?
I have been able to win against Fighting decks because Max Potion can keep the Tornadus EX (or Mewtwo EX) attacking for a long time. In combination with Eviolite, Max Potion can allow a single Tornadus EX to topple an entire Fighting deck!
Max Potion is probably a staple for modern Eelektrik decks.
I am a pretty big fan of Garbodor in metagames where Tool Scrapper is not popular. Although Tool Scrapper is also useful against Eviolited EXs, it is probably not worth using unless you expect to see a fair amount of Garbodor.
I have not included Tool Scrapper in my ZekEels because this variant is not as hindered by Garbotoxin as say Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik. Why is this? As I have already stated, the Rayquaza EX variant relies more on Dynamotor because energy is discarded to attack far more often in this variant than in ZekEels. As a result, Garbotoxin is particularly strong against Rayquaza EX.
pokemon-paradijs.comMy version of ZekEels can also have problems with Garbodor. However, this list has several outs against Garbodor. The first and strongest Garbodor counter is Tornadus EX. Many Garbodor variants revolve around Fighting attackers — Terrakion NVI, Groudon EX, Terrakion-EX, etc. Obviously Tornadus EX has an advantage against such attackers. Also, Power Blast does just enough damage to 1-shot Garbodor. Catchering Garbodor and using Power Blast is a very good idea!
Raikou-EX can also be helpful against Garbodor. Volt Bolt does the 100 necessary to Knock Out benched Garbodors. Unfortunately, Raikou-EX may not be as helpful against Garbodor for two reasons. The first is that Volt Bolt takes three turns to power up without Dynamotor. The second is that, as stated earlier, many Garbodor variants rely on Fighting attackers. Raikou-EX is very weak against these attackers.
Trading a Raikou-EX, 3 Energy attachments and 2 Prizes for a Garbodor and 1 Prize is probably not a very fair trade in most situations… especially when the Garbodor player is probably setting up another Garbodor (they should be setting up another Garbodor at least). Regardless of these two things, Raikou-EX can be quite useful against Garbodor.
Garbodor has added a very interesting element to our metagame. I do not believe any Fall Regionals metagame will consist of a large amount of Garbodor, however. This does not imply that you should not be ready for Garbodor variants. Garbotoxin can wreck decks — especially Eelektrik variants — if they aren’t prepared for it. You should try to beat Garbodor varients without the help of Tool Scrapper. I am confident that, with practice, you can significantly increase the odds of beating Garbodor with ZekEels.
If, however, you can’t beat Garbodor without Tool Scrapper than you should either add Tool Scrapper or consider playing a different deck because, although they won’t be popular, Garbodor variants will have a presence at Fall Regionals.
pokemon-paradijs.comAfter much testing, I have come to the conclusion that at least 13 Supporters (Random Receiver included) is necessary for the proper functioning of most decks. I tried working with 12 in my decks…but that was just too few.
Of course the 4 Professor Juniper and 4 N are standard. However, there is much debate within the community regarding Bianca vs. Cheren. I am a supporter of Bianca in most cases. Why? Primarily because I have usually found it very easy to draw 3-4 cards with Bianca. Since there are no bulky Stage 2s and there are lots of Ultra Ball, I can quite often get down to a 2-3 card hand and then use Bianca. Furthermore, in the later stages of the game, Bianca can be very helpful at recovering from late game Ns.
I have rarely ever (perhaps never) been unable to draw at least 2 cards with Bianca. The benefits of drawing 4-6 every once and a while are extremely nice and worth the risk of perhaps drawing fewer than 3 cards with Bianca.
Although I really like Bianca, I can understand the dislike she faces. I think the general trend right now is to identify the 3 Supporters you like (generally Juniper, N and then either Cheren/Bianca) and then add a few Random Receiver to the mix because you don’t like the 4th Supporter available to us at the moment.
I will come back to some more thoughts on ZekEels in a later section.
1. I have played quite a few Registeel-EX focused decks over the course of the season so far. I have combined him with Klinklang, Garbodor, Hydreigon, and Eelektrik. He performed quite well in the first two variants — but was lack luster in the last two variants.
pokemon-paradijs.comHow could this be? In combination with Klinklang, Registeel-EX has access to a great amount of healing and M Energy. Registeel-EXs in this variant can last for a long time and can even use Protect Charge if needed!
Triple Laser is a very good attack — but really only shines if Registeel-EX is able to use this attack multiple times. Klinklang and Garbodor variants can keep Registeel-EX attacking by keeping Klinklang alive and slowing down the opponent, respectively. Klinklang decks can keep streaming Triple Laser by healing all damage done to Registeel-EX with Max Potion and Garbodor variants can generally do a pretty good job of keeping Registeel-EX attacking by stopping important Abilities and effectively using Pokémon Catchers.
Of course Hydreigon variants can also keep a constant stream of Triple Lasers by using Max Potions turn after turn. However, Darkrai EX is a better attacker than Registeel-EX in most cases. Why would you want to attack with a Registeel-EX when you can easily attack with a Darkrai EX? Of course there are some situations where Registeel-EX would be a better attacker — but they are rare.
Eelektrik variants do not have a very practical way of keeping the stream of Triple Lasers going. You could use your own Max Potions and then Dynamotor 2-3 times… but that requires a lot of cards and is not very reliable.
2. Triple Laser is not a very good attack against big Basic decks.
Decks like Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX or Terrakion-EX/Mewtwo EX are not really affected by Triple Laser due to the huge HP of the Pokémon in these decks and Eviolite. Triple Laser on an Eviolited Pokémon is terrible. I mean absolutely awful!
The popularity of these decks seems to be rapidly increasing. People are quickly forgetting the excitement of Hydreigon and many are switching back into big Basic Darkrai EX variants. This trend is spelling disaster for Registeel-EX focused decks. If this trend continues, then Registeel-EX variants may cease to exist.
3. I am beginning to see more and more Fire attackers in decks as of late.
In case you had not heard, Ho-Oh EX variants have skyrocketed in popularity over the past several weeks. For 4 Energy, Ho-Oh EX does 200 damage to a Registeel-EX. At a Battle Road this past weekend, my Registeel-EX was Knocked Out on the second turn by a Ho-Oh EX… not a great start to a game.
I also saw quite a few people teching V-Create Victini (Benchtini) into their Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik and other lists over the past weekend. Although I am still unsold on its inclusion into such decks, its presence will definitely spell disaster for Registeel-EX.
It is for these 3 reasons that I am not on the Registeel-EX/Eelektrik band wagon. Although I really do like Registeel-EX, I do not think he is a good partner for Eelektrik. Should you decide to play Registeel-EX/Eelektrik, you will definitely have those games where you are able to Triple Laser turn 2 and demolish your opponent before they get set up. However, you will also have those games where your Registeel-EX is taking 200 on Turn 2 or Triple Laser is doing 30+10+10 because your opponent has lots of Eviolite in play.
So, no Registeel-EX/Eelektrik is not the best Eelektrik variant for Fall Regionals.
pokemon-paradijs.comAs you can see from my ZekEels list, I am a fan of combining Raikou-EX with Eelektrik. This does not imply, however, that I believe a Raikou-EX focused Eelektrik variant is a strong choice. I imagine that a Raikou-EX focused list would not look too different from my current ZekEels list… just with an additional Raikou-EX or two and some more Skyarrow Bridge/Max Potion. I have not tested with a heavy Raikou-EX variant simply because I am confident that the versatility of a Zekrom focused list is much better.
As a 1-of, Raikou-EX can work wonders. 100 Snipe can be extremely strong. It is a great way of grabbing your last prize or two. It is a great way of sniping Garbodor, opposing Eelektriks or other bench warmers. However, 100 Snipe as your main attack is probably not the best way of doing things. I imagine it would be hard keeping a stream of Volt Bolt’s going when benched Eelektriks are under constant threat of Catcher + Knock Out.
As I stated a little bit ago, I have not tested this variant so all this discussion is primarily based on observations of other players and my own little theorymon. Based on the PokéGym “What Won” thread, there have been no heavy Raikou-EX focused Eelektrik variants that have made it very far in Battle Roads thus far. However, it is not always clear what is included in decks when somebody reports about an event… so this data has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Regardless, Raikou-EX/Eelektrik variants are probably not the best Eelektrik variants for Fall Regionals.
There was a great spike in Rayquaza EX popularity this weekend in St. Louis. Why do you think this happened? Could it be that people are beginning to think it is the best deck in the format or could it be that people now have lots of Rayquaza EX due to the release of the promo tins?
I suspect it is a combination of the both of these things. Although it was significantly more popular this weekend in my area, none of the Rayquaza EX players made Top 4 on either day (we had 2 Battle Roads in the area this past weekend). However, last weekend a ZekEels did make Top 4 at a St. Louis area Battle Road. Does this mean that ZekEels is better than RayEels? No this does not, of course. However, it is something you should consider and I will talk more about this observation in a bit.
Anyway, here is my current RayEels list!
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
And now for some thoughts on the list…
pokemon-paradijs.comAs you can see, I decided to play all Thunderwave Tynamo. Even though the 30 HP Tynamo is probably better in this variant relative to the Zekrom variant, I am still too scared to play a 30 HP Pokémon when I have a 40 HP alternative. For every game you could win for having a free retreating Tynamo, there will probably be one or two games you will lose since Darkrai EX and Registeel-EX will have a field day with these Tynamos.
So, I have decided to include a single Zekrom and Raikou-EX into my list because they both have quite a lot to offer. First of all, I really do think a Rayquaza EX variant should include 2 Lightning attackers — otherwise the Empoleon matchup could be quite challenging. Second of all, I think it is important to include these Pokémon because they are not weak to Dragon. If a deck is able, it should diversify its weaknesses.
Zekrom provides a nice alternative non-EX attacker that doesn’t require R Energy to do large amounts of damage. Raikou-EX provides a nice, bench hitting component to the deck. Both of these provisions are quite strong… they help a lot with the deck.
Alternatives to Zekrom and Raikou-EX would be Tornadus EX, Mewtwo EX, or Victini (Benchtini). In regard to the first 2 Pokékmon, I do not think they are very good candidates since this variant does not run Double Colorless Energy. Without this card, these 2 Pokémon lose a lot of their strength. Victini is definitely a possibility but I have yet to test with it myself… so I can’t make an educated decision at this time. Of course 70 HP and a R Energy requirement are downsides.
Secret Rare Rayquaza
I was really hoping that this card would not live up to the $80 hype… but it has. This card is incredibly strong. It can donk Tynamos, Gibles, Deinos (for those people silly enough to play the Dragon type Deinos), Swablus and provide lots of early pressure in the case of first turn Dragon Pulse/non-donks. Rayquaza can 1HKO Hydreigon and 2HKO any EX — even ones with Eviolite.
Other than a hefty Retreat Cost (and its price tag), there is nothing bad about this card. I saw and participated in several games where one RayEels player played this Rayquaza and one did not. It was pretty obvious that this Rayquaza gave immediate favor to the player that was able to include this guy into their list.
If you are serious about playing RayEels for Fall Regionals, you simply must acquire this Rayquaza.
Picking the Best Eelektrik Variant
The lists I have are both very similar. The major difference is the attackers, of course. We are basically trading Rayquazas for Mewtwo EXs, a Tornadus EX and more Zekrom. Both decks have donk potential (DCE on Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX or Lighting on Rayquaza), both decks have Raikou-EX, and both decks can 1HKO all non-Pokémon-EX.
The primary difference between the two lists can be expressed as a kind of trade off. The Rayquaza EX variant has the ability to 1HKO all Pokémon — including EXs. This is something that ZekEels cannot do. This is the advantage that RayEels has over ZekEels. However, ZekEels also has an advantage over RayEels. ZekEels is more consistent than RayEels. Between the dual energy requirement for Dragon Burst, the necessity for multiple Dynamotors per turn, and the lack of Double Colorless Energy to retreat Rayquaza and Eelektrik — lots of things can go wrong over the course of a game.
So essentially, when making the decision between these two decks, you are deciding between extra consistency and the ability to 1HKO all Pokémon. There are strong cases for both sides. In a format where Max Potion is everywhere, 1HKOs are really, really nice. However, in a format where our Supporters are limited and bad starts equal ruin, consistency is also really, really nice.
I am usually inclined to believe consistency is king… but in this case I am going to stray from my usual train of thought. Although ZekEels is definitely a very strong choice, I believe RayEels is probably just a bit better. I think that with more testing, I can increase the consistency of the deck without sacrificing the ability to 1HKO all Pokémon. Although I do not believe I will be able to make the consistency of RayEels equal that of ZekEels, I am pretty sure that I can get it close. It is for this reason that I am picking RayEels as the best Eelektrik variant for Fall Regionals.
I look forward to hearing what you all have to say about these Eelektrik variants. I am sure that many will disagree and say ZekEels is better and I am very interested in hearing the arguments for your case.
I cannot wait to see everyone at Regionals- I will be attending the one in Houston. I wish you all the best of luck for the last two weekends of Battle Roads (and at Regionals, of course)! Thanks for reading. :)
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