The Hawk’s Nest: Embrace the Darkness and Rise from the Ashes

Hello wonderful readers. It is almost time for the MLB playoffs, so pardon my little analogy. Last month I got the call up from AAA (FP) to the Majors (UG). You all voted me into a second start this month. Now, I am pitching on short rest. We had a hole in the rotation and I am filling it.

After this go around, my arm (writing ideas) will be slightly burned out and I will need extended rest. In layman’s terms, because another writer could not be secured for this article, you are stuck with me. However, I will not be writing in October. I hope that I will be in November.

In today’s article, I will focus on three overarching topics. First, we will go over an updated Battle Roads results section. This will be a pseudo follow-up portion to my previous article. Second, I will cover several non-Hydreigon, Darkrai EX decks. Third, I will go in depth on how to tech the Ho-Oh engine to fit your metagame.

Battle Roads Results

These results are from The ‘Gym’s “What Won” thread (through post 141). I took the liberty of condensing down some of the categories, but I feel this table is representative of the results to date. Additionally, a natural break in deck success has developed naturally. I took all of the decks with eight or more Top 4s. Every other deck had five or fewer wins.

Deck 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Darkrai EX/Hydreigon 21 21 18 19 79
Zeels 17 17 16 16 66
Non-Hydreigon Darkrai EX 15 13 16 14 58
Rayquaza/Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik 22 15 6 12 55
Garbodor 4 4 15 9 32
Ho-Oh EX + Stuff 9 9 3 4 25
Garchomp 3 7 7 5 22
Empoleon 5 1 6 5 17
Terrakion-EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant 4 6 2 1 13
Accelgor/Gothitelle 1 2 2 4 9
Empoleon/Accelgor 1 2 2 3 8
Klinklang EX 1 5 1 1 8

In my opinion, the results to date are very clear. The partitions seem to be obvious.

Tier 3

pokemon-paradijs.comThese decks are good enough to win when the circumstances are correct. These are not to be confused with “rogue” decks.

  • Accelgor/Gothitelle
  • Empoleon/Accelgor
    • If I were to play Accelgor, this is how I would play it.
  • Klinklang EX

Tier 2

These are very solid decks that with a bit of good fortune can win any event based on their own strength. There are a few possible reasons these decks are not as successful as the Tier 1 decks:

  1. The deck is underplayed.
  2. The lists are still unrefined.
  3. They are anti-meta decks that rely on certain matchups.

Garbodor

No one really knows the best way to play Garbodor, yet. There are certainly some successful versions out there, but I still feel Garbodor’s success is largely based on the meta. Two of the more interesting Garbodor variants that have taken Top 4 spots are Garbodor/Durant DRX/Sableye DEX and Garbodor/Darkrai EX/Sableye DEX.

Ho-Oh EX

This is possibly my favorite deck in the format. It is incredibly fun to pilot and is the most unpredictable deck in the format. Unfortunately, it is very good but not great. Flips can still ruin a game. However, at a large event like Regionals, losing a couple games due to flips may be minimized.

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Garchomp

A very solid Garchomp/Terrakion build succeeded in our area. Perhaps ditching Altaria is the proper way to play the deck. Only time will tell.

Empoleon

Empoleon is also one of my top five favorite decks to play. Many decks suffer from ridiculous Supporter droughts and come to a screeching halt. Empoleon tends to avoid those stretches because Diving Draw is very powerful. At Regionals Diving Draw will certainly be important. Empoleon can lose games based on top end power, but it is unlikely to lose more than one game due to dead-draws.

TexMex

Terrakion-EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant is simply a deck that is consistent and powerful. Getting right down to business and hitting your opponent fast is very crucial.

Tier 1.5

Yes, I am adding the 1.5 categorization back into my ranking system. I am adding this back for two reasons: 1) I am taking a significant liberty in consolidating the non-Hydreigion, Darkrai decks, and 2) RayEels is actually second in wins, but 12 spots out of second in total Top 4s.

RayEels

pokemon-paradijs.comAlthough non-Hydreigon Darkrai decks have more Top 4s, I firmly believe RayEels is the top Tier 1.5 deck. It might even be a true Tier 1 deck. RayEels is unquestionably the most powerful deck in the format when it works to perfection. However, relying heavily on 90 HP support Pokémon is a dangerous proposition.

Non-Hydreigon, Darkrai EX decks

I feel many people overlooked the pure power of Darkrai EX. However, it is still very good. More to come on this later.

Tier 1

Darkrai EX/Hydreigon

This is the best control deck in the format. Once this deck gets set up, it is very difficult to take down. I would not play this at Regionals because I do not like the crapshoot mirror match. If you can figure out how to gain an edge in the mirror, you might have broken the format.

Zeels

Consistency, period. Non-Rayquaza Eelektrik decks do not need Dynamotor as much as the Rayquaza versions. That promotes consistency. Additionally, Zekrom is still immensely powerful and I believe many people are overlooking its ability.

The main thing I want to stress is the openness of this format. Many times I have sat down and began developing lists, but I run into two problems. First, there are always very good cards (Max Potion, Super Scoop Up, etc.) I wish I had room for. Second, I think about the decks my new deck must be able to handle and the list just keeps growing. I feel both are great problems for the game to have.

When there are ample possibilities concerning which cards to put into your list, deck building becomes vital and this brings skill to the game. When many decks could legitimately win any given event, I think the game is in fine shape.

Darkrai EX

pokemon-paradijs.comThe 2012 World Championship Finals consisted of a near mirror match. Harrison brilliantly piloted a Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Sableye build to second place, and Igor brilliantly piloted a Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion deck to the win.

These two decks topped Worlds, yet not many people gave these decks much of a chance in the new season. They must have lost some main attackers, right? They did not. Well then, the decks must have lost crucial cards? Kind of. In my opinion, the deck lost four key players:

1. Smeargle

Darkrai EX took advantage of Smeargle as well as any deck because of Dark Cloak. However, all decks lost Smeargle, and I do not feel its loss hurt any deck more than the other decks.

2. Junk Arm

We all know the positive effect of Junk Arm: getting an Item back from the discard pile. That very powerful effect allowed decks an unprecedented amount of flexibility in Item choices. However, Darkrai variants are uniquely positioned to recover from the loss of the positive effect through Sableye.

However, the negative aspect of Junk Arm was equally important to Darkrai: discard two cards. The speed of Darkrai EX came from the ability to discard D Energy and thinning your deck. With Junk Arm, the deck possessed 12 ways to discard cards (4 Junk Arm, 4 Ultra Ball, 4 Professor Juniper). These twelve outs allowed the deck a virtually guaranteed turn one discard of D Energy and a turn one/two Night Spear with Dark Patch and manual attachments. This pure speed, facilitated by Junk Arm’s negative effect, often produced overwhelming amounts of pressure on any given game.

Unfortunately, we were not given an alternative method of discarding to replace the negative effect of Junk Arm. That makes it less likely for Darkrai EX to go off on turn one/two.

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3. Shaymin UL

One of the fun aspects of Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX, especially versions with Terrakion, was that you could drop a fresh attacker out of nowhere and power it up in a single turn. Celebration Wind led to many fun and unpredictable plays.

Shaymin was particularly strong in conjunction with Mewtwo. If you protected your energy drops by placing them on Pokémon unlikely to be KO’d, at the end of the game it was relatively common to drop Mewtwo, use Celebration Wind, N your opponent down to around two cards, and then sweep the game with an 8-9 Energy X Ball.

We actually have a solid replacement to Shaymin UL in Energy Switch. I actually believe Energy Switch is sometimes preferable to Shaymin. Obviously, Energy Switch is not as effective in producing an unnaturally strong Mewtwo out of nowhere, and Energy Switch cannot move Double Colorless Energy.

However, Shaymin UL could clog a bench at crucial times. Bench space was often at a premium last format. Additionally, Shaymin UL became an easy prize all too often. Too many people played Shaymin UL at sub-optimal times and either through Catcher or three rounds of 30 damage from Night Spear, Shaymin simply game your opponent a free prize.

Energy Switch does not suffer from either of those two shortcomings. It thins your deck and allows you flexibility in energy attachments. Energy Switch is also not an easy prize in the late game. Additionally, Energy Switch can be retrieved with Junk Hunt.

Hear me; Shaymin UL was better than Energy Switch, but Energy Switch is a solid alternative with its own perks.

4. Dual Ball

pokemon-paradijs.comDual Ball added consistency to this deck in terms of getting the optimal attacker at the optimal time. Without Dual Ball, there is only one card that can search out all the Pokémon in the deck: Ultra Ball. Obviously, every deck is hurt by the loss of Dual Ball (and Collector), but I feel Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX is particularly harmed. Eelektrik, Hydreigon, Empoleon, Accelgor, etc can successfully utilize Level Ball, and to a lessor extent Pokémon Communication.

Klinklang, Fighting decks, etc. can successfully utilize Heavy Ball. Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX cannot utilize either Level Ball or Heavy Ball to great effect. Yes, when the deck runs Terrakion or maybe Groudon EX, Heavy Ball may be used, but not to great effect.

After that rather downtrodden section, you would think Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX, and Darkrai EX decks in general, is no longer viable. That is certainly what I believed until I began playing the deck. However, I have found the opposite to be true and the Battle Roads results seem to back up Darkrai’s viability. Enough rambling, let’s dive into the decks.

Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX

Obviously, Jay piloted this deck to great success in the two largest and most difficult tournaments of the past year (and possibly ever). The deck offers several unique strengths that are extremely valuable.

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1. Consistency

With the majority of your Pokémon being strong attackers (save Sableye), you will often open with a strong position. Even starting with Sableye is strong because you can utilize Junk Hunt to develop your board.

2. Strong Mewtwo Play

Decks tend to run less and less Mewtwo these days. I understand the tendency to move away from Mewtwo. However, I firmly believe the move away from Mewtwo EX is a mistake. Mewtwo EX is still extremely strong with 3-4 Energy on Mewtwo EX, you will 2HKO virtually every attacker in the game. When your opponent cannot respond with Mewtwo, your Mewtwo just grows into a monstrosity.

3. Junk Hunt

In actuality, in all of these Darkrai decks, Junk Hunt’s strength is a foregone conclusion. However, I figured I would mention it for the first deck in my analysis. Assume this is a strength of all the remaining Darkrai EX decks.

Pokémon – 8

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Mewtwo-EX NXD
2 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 25

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Bianca

3 Random Receiver

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Dark Patch

Energy – 13

9 D

4 Double Colorless

Open Spots – 14

The above list is obviously several cards short. The real question is what cards should fill the remaining spots. Let us take a look at the possible candidates for these slots. All of these cards can go into each of these Darkrai variants, and I will not repeat the card overviews in this section in every following section.

Tool Scrapper

pokemon-paradijs.comDarkrai EX has an Ability and Dark Cloak is semi important for this deck to work. Free retreat is always a crucial aspect to any deck. So, the primary function of Tool Scrapper is to combat Garbodor. I know Garbodor is not performing extremely well at Battle Roads, but at Regionals there will be Garbodor decks around. It is vital to be prepared for them.

Secondarily, Tool Scrapper is very good at eliminating Tools. Discarding Eviolites moves the damage exchange in your favor. Removing Exp. Share helps to defeat the Fighting decks roaming around. This is an overall solid card that will never be useless and sometimes it will be vital.

Super Scoop Up

Super Scoop Up is one of the most versatile cards in our format; unfortunately, it is also one of the most risky cards in our format. First, SSU acts as a pseudo-Switch. SSU removes Energy from the field, where Switch does not, but SSU still gets Pokémon out of the active slot.

Second, SSU allows you to replay your Double Colorless Energies. Since we have no other easy way of moving Double Colorless Energy around, SSU can conserve your crucial DCEs.

Third, SSU acts as a healing card. Max Potion is more reliable, but Super Scoop Up achieves the same effect. So, SSU accomplishes three things… when you hit heads. Obviously, Switch and Max Potion are more reliable, but SSU offers more potential utility.

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Max Potion

Darkrai EX and Mewtwo EX most of the time will not be 1HKO’d. That means you can utilize Max Potion to effectively nullify your opponent’s turn. Additionally, Max Potion pairs well with Dark Patch because you can get the energy back into play quickly.

One of my favorite plays with Max Potion is using it when your opponent has 2 Prize cards left. You use Max Potion to save yourself from losing. Then you promote Sableye to get Dark Patches, etc. back to set your Pokémon back up on your next turn. When to sacrifice Sableye is a crucial skill to master.

Switch

With Dark Cloak, Switch is not an extremely appealing choice. However, against decks like Accelgor and Stunfisk, Dark Cloak is rendered useless. In those instances, Switch can break open a game by avoiding stall tactics.

Enhanced Hammer

Special Energies are gaining popularity once again. Hydreigon can be very reliant on Blend Energy. Mewtwo, Registeel, Tornadus (both), Sigilyph, etc. all utilize Double Colorless Energy. Empoleon with Stunfisk and Garchomp both utilize their Blend Energies. Enhanced Hammer can easily swing a game in your favor by removing attacking options from play. For example, removing all the Blend Energy from Hydreigon makes the deck very one-dimensional by eliminating its non-Darkrai EX attackers.

Crushing Hammer

pokemon-paradijs.comRemoving Energy in general is very powerful, but this card is flippy. I have found your meta greatly dictates whether or not this card is relevant. In Rayquaza EX heavy metas, Crushing Hammer becomes very relevant. If you can remove your opponent’s R Energy from play, he or she will not be able to use Rayquaza EX’s powerful attack and be forced to rely only Rayquaza’s first attack or his or her pure Lightning attackers (Zekrom, Raikou-EX, etc.).

Super Rod

I hope we all see the value in recovery. It is possible you will be stuck with bad prizes and your attacking options will be limited. The ability to recover and use the same attacker more than once saves games.

Eviolite

The deck has a bunch of Basic Pokémon. Eviolite protects those Basic Pokémon and turns the exchanges into your favor.

Energy Switch

I covered this card a little in my introduction. However, I want to stress exactly how strong Energy Switch is in this deck. Similar to Super Scoop Up, Energy Switch fills multiple roles in Darkrai EX decks. First, Energy Switch allows you to pump up Mewtwo quickly or introduce a new attack out of thin air. Oftentimes I have been able to get Mewtwo up to 6+ energy through Energy Switch, especially because Mewtwo is seeing less play.

Or, I have been able to drop a fresh Darkrai, Energy Switch off a damaged Darkrai, Max Potion the damage Darkrai, Dark Patch to the new Darkrai, and attach once for the turn to attack with a clean Darkrai. Secondly, Energy Switch can act like a regular Switch in this deck due to Dark Cloak. You can use Energy Switch to move D Energy to you active Pokémon and then use Darkrai’s Dark Cloak to retreat your Active.

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Revive

Revive actually has its own benefits over Super Rod. Because this deck has limited search options, putting Pokémon back into the deck with Super Rod can be meaningless because you may never get them back out. Reviving Pokémon straight to the bench guarantees you the option of using the recovered Pokémon again during your game.

Recycle

Again, people love Super Scoop Up because it can be game breaking. Yet, many people shun Recycle. I personally, do not really love either one, but if you are OK with SSU, you should be OK with Recycle. Getting back a crucial Catcher, Max Potion, or Supporter is equally as game breaking as SSU.

PlusPower

This once great card now exists in a lessor capacity because we no longer have Junk Arm to reuse it. However, PlusPower can still be relevant. Since this deck desires to engage in Mewtwo EX wars, PlusPower can swing those wars to your favor. With PlusPower, you only need a DCE to 1HKO an opposing Mewtwo that has a DCE attached. Then in response, you opponent will likely use a Mewtwo EX with three energy to take a prize. This in turns allows you to respond with a Mewtwo EX with a DCE. The single PlusPower takes the Mewtwo War and swing it in your favor.

Now, obviously those are the most likely Items we would include. However, we need to look at possible Pokémon to include with Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX. We will exclude Terrakion for the time being. One of the biggest weaknesses of pure Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX is Sigilyph. Safeguard will instantly shut down a deck with only EX attackers. That means we need to focus our search on non-EX attackers to remedy this situation.

Tornadus EPO

pokemon-paradijs.comTornadus accomplishes a couple of things in this deck. First, it is compatible with Double Colorless Energy. This compatibility allows you to attack on turn two with Hurricane. Second, Tornadus conserves energy by moving Basic D Energy off the active. Third, Tornadus is good against Fighting types. With Eviolite, even Terrakion-EX would actually take three hits to Knock Out Tornadus. Tornadus would also take three shots to Knock Out Terrakion-EX, even with Eviolite.

Bouffalant BLW

Some players have always realized the potential in this card. However, most of us have often overlooked Bouffalant. This Bouffalant is very adept in dealing with Sigilyph and Eelektrik. If your opponent takes a KO on Mewtwo EX with Sigilyph, expecting to wall off your deck, you can simply drop Bouffalant attach two energies and then take the return Knock Out. I guarantee most opponents will never see Bouffalant BLW coming, unless it becomes popular again.

Bouffalant DRX

This Bouffalant is not quite as good in dealing with Sigilyph or Eelektrik. However, dealing 60 damage twice to Sigilyph is adequate. With Afro Guard + Eviolite, Sigilyph will only deal 40 damage to Bouffalant. The exchange becomes a 2HKO versus a 3HKO in Bouffalant favor.

Druddigon NVI

This option is largely overlooked by many players. However, the revelation of Stunfisk in my area brought this prickly beast to the forefront. One hundred HP is actually a decent amount now that Zekrom and Reshiram are less influential. Additionally, not sharing Darkrai’s Fighting Weakness is a bonus.

The first main draw to Druddigon is that Clutch can lock an opposing Pokémon into the active slot while dealing 60 damage. Because there are a limited number of Switches available through the course of the game, Catcher locking your opponent is a valid stall strategy. Additionally, if your opponent attacks into Druddigon he or she will take 20 damage due to Rough Skin.

So, considering all of these options, what does an actual list look like?

Pokémon – 10

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Mewtwo-EX NXD
2 Sableye DEX
2 Bouffalant DRX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Bianca

3 Random Receiver

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Dark Patch

3 Energy Switch
3 Super Scoop Up
3 Eviolite
2 Tool Scrapper

1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

9 D

4 Double Colorless

pokemon-paradijs.comAs you can see, I opted for Bouffalant DRX. Druddigon NVI would be my second choice in filling the slot. I certainly have no qualms with either Tornadus EPO or Bouffalant BLW. If you opt to go with Tornadus EPO, PlusPower becomes much more viable. Being able to 1HKO Sigilyph is very important with Tornadus EPO. Additionally, those PlusPowers fit in well with the strong Mewtwo EX line.

The biggest downfall of the Bouffalants is a Weakness to Fighting types. Darkrai EX is already weak to Fighting. However, against Fighting types you simply need to go aggro Mewtwo. Ultimately, I chose Bouffalant DRX for its versatility in dealing with other EXs.

I also opted for the utility of Super Scoop Up. However, to make Super Scoop Up worth your while you need to play SSU in high counts. You need to skew the probabilities in your favor of hitting heads. Two Super Scoop Ups would be the minimum I would play. However, three is better.

Good Against

This deck is very good against Eelektrik type decks. Night Spear effectively removes Eelektriks from play. This shuts down decks that rely heavily on Rayquaza EX and Raikou-EX. The deck is also very good against Garchomp because the Altarias are easy to take out with Night Spear and early game pressure with Mewtwo EX disrupts the deck’s set up. Bouffalant also allows this deck to deal with Ho-Oh EX decks. Having a non-EX that can go toe to toe with EXs allows this deck to create a favorable exchange in prizes.

Bad Against

This deck struggles against Hydreigon decks. Yes, you can simply overrun your opponent with an explosive enough start. However, more often than not Hydreigon will set up and you will fail to take any more prizes. Your opponent’s Max Potion/Dark Trance combination will simply overwhelm your deck.

Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion/Sableye

This deck might seem extremely similar to simple Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX, but Terrakion adds a completely different dimension to the deck and it plays differently from Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX. Here is a decklist.

Pokémon – 9

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
2 Terrakion NVI
2 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Dark Patch
4 Energy Switch
4 Pokémon Catcher
2 Tool Scrapper
1 Super Rod

Energy – 15

8 D

4 F

3 Double Colorless

Open Slots – 4

pokemon-paradijs.comAdding Terrakion into the deck helps deal with the Hydreigon problem. With Terrakion, you still have an option for taking prizes through 1HKOs. Because we Eviolite foils this plan Tool Scrapper is a necessary inclusion.

In the Terrakion version, you will notice we moved from three Energy Switch to four Energy Switch. This change is necessary to facilitate Terrakion’s use. The ability to establish a Terrakion in one turn is crucial. The other subtle change is in the Supporter lines. We flipped the counts of Random Receiver and Bianca. In straight Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX, you are at greater liberty to use Sableye. With Terrakion, getting attacks off as often as possible takes precedent. Terrakion naturally makes the deck less explosive in the early game, so taking more turns off from doing damage is a negative.

The list above has four open slots that need filled. The options in filling out the four slots are largely the same as in the previous section. My two person favorites are Eviolite and Enhanced Hammer.

I would play two Enhanced Hammers and two Eviolites. The main method Hydreigon will utilize in countering Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion is using Dragonblast to one shot your Terrakions or Shaymin EX. Then once your Terrakions are gone, your opponent will use Sigilyph to wall your Darkrai EXs and Mewtwo EXs. The counter play here is to utilize Enhanced Hammers to eliminate your opponent’s Blend Energies from play. Once you discard all of the Blend Energies, you can attack with Terrakion at will without the threat of being 1HKO’d. Removing the Blend Energies neutralize any possible tech attackers you opponent uses: Shaymin EX, Sigilyph, Reshiram-EX, Giritina EX, etc.

I would use the second two spots on Eviolite. This deck consists of all Basic Pokémon. Eviolite bolsters the survivability of all your attackers.

This deck is good against the same decks as Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX. The inclusion of Terrakion bolsters the Hydreigon match up, but I fear it is slightly less than 50/50. Dealing with Hydreigon is still an uphill battle, but Terrakion makes it winnable.

Darkrai EX/Sableye

This deck is known as Hammertime to most people and was popularized by our own writing and founder of The Deck Out, Esa. As I mentioned in my last article, coming into this rotation I did not like Hammertime. However, Darkrai EX/Sableye posted solid results for not being highly regarded coming into the season.

Pokémon – 7

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Sableye DEX
1 Bouffalant BLW 91

Trainers – 41

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Random Receiver
2 Bianca

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Dark Patch
3 Eviolite
3 Crushing Hammer
3 Enhanced Hammer
3 Super Scoop Up
2 Energy Switch
2 Tool Scrapper

Energy – 12

12 D

pokemon-paradijs.comI am sure this list will be controversial. Please hear me out.

Putting one Bouffalant into the deck is a high risk, high reward play. You desperately want to open with Sableye or Darkrai EX. Without an alternative attacker, you opponent may simply put up a Sigilyph to wall your deck off. Now, you can attack Sigilyph with Sableye in this deck more effectively than in other decks because you can utilize the Hammers to keep energy off Sigilyph and simply take the nine hit Knock Out. However, with two Energy Switch it is possible to hit the Revenge KO in one turn on Sigilyph or you can simply set up the Bouffalant in advance.

The Hammers are innately strong cards. If you initiate the energy removal process you tend to win the war of attrition. Dark decks normally run four Dark Patches. However, you run more removal than they run energy accelerators. That means if you can get ahead they should struggle with keeping up. Yes, your opponent can use Junk Hunt, but you can simply N the Patches out of his or her hand and then take the easy prize on Sableye. Additionally, you can use Junk Hunt to counteract the Dark Patches your opponent recovers with Junk Hunt.

Eelektrik decks are slightly more complicated because you must remove the Eelektrik from play. That means you might lose a couple prizes while you cripple their energy recycling system. However, giving up one or 2 Prizes to eliminate Eelektrik is almost always an advantageous course of action.

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Good Against

This deck is good against Eelektrik decks because Night Spear deals with Eelektriks fairly well. This deck is even better against Rayquaza EX based Eelektrik decks because you can simply hunt the R Energy off the field and then lock your opponent into weaker attacks.

Bad Against

Similar to Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX, the inability to 1HKO anything in your opponent’s deck is difficult to overcome when playing against Darkrai EX/Hydreigon. If you can keep all your opponent’s Energy off the field, you have a decent shot at storming over your opponent, but Junk Hunt can negate your removal attempts.

Darkrai EX/Sableye is also average against Empoleon (especially ones with Stunfisk). Empoleon only uses one Energy to attack. So, your opponent can often drop an Energy and use that Energy before you can remove it. Also, if you opponent gets Rumble off, you lose the ability to Junk Hunt for a couple turns. This may grant your opponent the opportunity to load his or her field with Energy for once you get your Hammers back.

Darkrai EX/Accelgor/Mew-EX/Registeel-EX/Karrablast/Sableye

I must begin by stating this in not my original idea. A friend of mine developed this deck idea and utilized it several times over the course of Battle Roads. He posted his list on The ‘Gym and here it is:

Pokémon – 16

4 Shelmet NVI
3 Accelgor DEX
2 Mew-EX
2 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Registeel-EX
2 Sableye DEX

1 Karrablast DEX

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Random Receiver

 

4 Level Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Ultra Ball

3 Eviolite
3 Dark Patch

2 Max Potion
1 Super Rod

Energy – 12

4 Prism
4 Double Colorless
4 D

pokemon-paradijs.comI spoke briefly about this deck in my previous article. However, I would like to go a bit more in depth right now.

Obviously, the main strategy of the deck is to loop Mew-EX and Double Colorless Energy to use Deck and Cover to establish a game ending lock. Registeel’s Triple Laser and Darkrai’s Night Spear are used as damage manipulators to get the knockouts aligned coming into your turn. I want to talk about the changes I would make to the list.

First, you might wonder why Prism Energy is included over more D Energy for Dark Patch. Well, Prism Energy allows you to utilize Mew-EX’s Ability when the opportunity presents itself. Perhaps you utilize an opponent’s Disconnect. Perhaps you use Registeel’s Protect Charge. Perhaps you use Mach Cut from Garchomp or Attack Command from Empoleon.

Now, since you have a limited number of D Energy, I would reduce the count of Dark Patch. It is just unlikely you will utilize Dark Patch often enough to warrant a high level of inclusion. Max Potion also seems like a curious decision. I know the originator of the deck wanted to keep Darkrai and Registeel in play, but I would rather take a risk on Super Scoop Up to save your DCEs that are likely attached to Registeel.

Additionally, this deck needs cards you can burn to thin your deck. Super Scoop Up is a burnable card at any time. Dark Patch is not a burnable card because you have to have D Energy in the discard to use the card. The ability to burn cards in any Accelgor deck is of the utmost importance to consider. The goal of any Accelgor deck it to thin the deck down to a bare minimum so that the lock may be established at the end of the game.

I honestly do not have many games under my belt with this deck. Therefore, I am not certain on what this deck is good against and what this deck is bad against. I am beginning to believe this is more of a game state deck. By that I mean if you establish the lock, you win. If you do not hit the lock you will likely struggle to win no matter what deck you are playing against.

Darkrai EX/Chandelure

Chandelure was widely considered one of the best and most skillful decks in the format during Cities last year. Now, Chandelure is relegated to an anti-meta deck. My friend Edan sparked my interest in this deck.

Pokémon – 15

4 Litwick BW27
2 Lampent NVI
4 Chandelure NVI

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Cheren

2 Random Receiver

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch
4 Ultra Ball

3 Rare Candy
3 Dark Patch

2 Level Ball

Energy – 12

12 D

pokemon-paradijs.comSo, why is Chandelure a potentially dangerous deck? Well, the answer is simple. First, Chandelure and Darkrai EX deal with Eelektrik extremely well. You can actually remove two Eelektriks from play in a single turn. Second, Chandelure and Darkrai EX can remove a Hydreigon from play in a single turn.

You can remove two Eelektriks from play because you can use Cursed Shadow twice to drop 60 damage onto a single Eelektrik. Then you can bring a different Eelektrik active with Catcher. From there you can simply Night Spear the active Eelektrik to take the Knock Out and then use the 30 snipe damage to eliminate the damaged Eelektrik. This can severely cripple any Eelektrik deck and flip a game into your favor.

Hydreigon is susceptible to this deck because you can drop 60 damage on a Hydreigon and then use Night Spear to finish the Hydreigon off, all in one turn. Obviously, these turns would be epic and do not happen every single game. But they do occur enough for the deck to be a threat.

Ranking These Darkrai Decks

5. Darkrai EX/Chandelure

This deck, in theory, should be extremely strong against the established meta. However, Stage 2 lines are still a liability in the format, unless the line possess built in consistency (Dragon Call, Diving Draw).

4. Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX

I love the consistency of this deck, but it often lacks the oomph required to deal with Hydreigon/Darkrai EX. The decks inability to 1HKO anything in that deck is a real liability in the current meta.

pokemon-paradijs.com

3. Darkrai EX/Accelgor/Registeel-EX/Mew-EX/Sableye

I love the locking ability of this deck. However, its inconsistency can doom the deck. Every now and then the deck gets blown out. Additionally, I believe this deck struggles (as all locking deck do) in the best two of three, Top Cut rounds. Ultimately, that is what this article is about. There is only one more week of Battle Roads, and Regionals follow quickly. Larger tournaments are very important this year and you need to be prepared to face nearly anything.

2. Darkrai EX/Sableye

When you are fortunate enough keep all the energy off your opponent’s side of the field you win. When you fail to accomplish that goal, you will struggle to keep up. However, the upside of Hammertime cannot be ignored anymore.

1. Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion

I am still unsure of this deck’s overall placement in the meta, but I believe it to be the strongest of the non-Hydreigon, Darkrai EX decks. The deck is explosive and can run other decks right off the board. Additionally, Terrakion helps you deal with Hydreigon decks in a realistic manner.
Teching Ho-oh EX

Obviously, there are other methods of playing Darkrai EX, but I feel those are some of the stronger options. You could run just Darkrai EX/Terrakion or Darkrai EX/Zoroark, etc.

Ho-Oh EX

pokemon-paradijs.comWell, by now Ho-Oh EX should not be a surprise to anyone. However, many people will debate its place in the meta hierarchy. I certainly believe it to be in the upper echelon of decks, high Tier 2. No matter its ranking, you can be nearly certain to encounter Ho-Oh at any Regional you attend. Or perhaps you will be the one piloting the phoenix to victory. Either way, you need to know how the deck functions and how it is customizable.

Here are the things the deck needs at a minimum to succeed:

First, the deck needs at least three Ho-Oh EX to assure yourself of getting Ho-Oh into the discard pile early and often. The more Ho-Oh in the discard, the higher the probabilities of hitting heads with Rebirth.

Secondly, the deck needs at least one Colorless attacker, or a Pokémon that only needs C Energy to attack. The deck will run at least three separate types of basic Energy, and most likely Double Colorless Energy. To promote consistency, you need attackers that can attack with any type of Energy.

Third, the deck needs high counts of Energy Switch to get Energy onto the proper Pokémon for the proper match ups.

Fourth, the deck needs attackers that exploit Weaknesses in the format at large. One of the biggest advantages of Ho-Oh is the ability to run virtually any type of Pokémon to take advantage of Weaknesses.

A few weeks ago, I showed you my Ho-Oh EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion/Registeel-EX build. Today, I will show you several other distinct builds I have been playing around with. Each of these builds has a purpose. The great thing about toolbox decks is it can be tailored to fit specific metagames.

Anti-Rayquaza EX/Raikou-EX Build

The weakness of any Eelektrik deck which focuses on Rayquaza EX and/or Raikou-EX is the over reliance on Dynamotor to continually cycle energy back to the field. If you can eliminate the Eelektriks, you have a very legitimate shot at beating those decks.

Pokémon – 10

3 Ho-Oh-EX
3 Registeel-EX
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
2 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Cheren
2 Bianca

 

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Ultra Ball
2 Heavy Ball
4 Energy Switch
4 Switch
2 Tool Scrapper
1 Super Rod

Energy – 15

4 Double Colorless
4 F
1 G
1 L
1 W
1 R
1 D
1 P
1 M

pokemon-paradijs.comThree Registeel-EX is to try and start the game with one. The optimal start with this deck is a turn one Registeel with an Energy. Then on turn two you want to get the DCE into play and begin utilizing Triple Laser.

The other benefit to this version of the deck is consistency. Terrakion and Registeel-EX are both searchable with Heavy Ball. The little added bonus of grabbing an attacker without needing to discard resources goes a long way in making any deck consistent.

To get maximum usage out of your Registeel-EXs you need Tool Scrapper to get rid of Eviolites because the second best use for Registeel-EX is to soften up opposing attackers and then finish those Pokémon off with another attacker. I have heard many people complain that Registeel-EX just does not get enough work done to justify its inclusion. I simply disagree, but I understand where the idea comes from.

Getting maximum usage out of Registeel-EX requires a fundamental change in the approach to the game. You have to be very persistent and very focused on your plan and where to put the Triple Laser damage. Too many times people get discouraged because his or her opponent uses Max Potion (or regular Potion) to counteract the Triple Laser damage. Do not give up after only one or two Triple Lasers. I have won many a game when down by four or 5 Prizes due to the power of Triple Laser over time.

Anti-Darkrai EX Build

Pokémon – 9

3 Ho-Oh-EX
3 Mewtwo-EX NXD
3 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Cheren
2 Bianca

 

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Ultra Ball
2 Heavy Ball
4 Switch
4 Energy Switch
3 Enhanced Hammer
2 Tool Scrapper
2 Eviolite

Energy – 13

5 F

4 Double Colorless
1 L
1 G
1 R
1 W

pokemon-paradijs.comObviously, this deck really focuses on Mewtwo EX and Terrakion. Both are actually quite good against Hydreigon/Darkrai EX decks. Mewtwo EX is very good for early pressure. On turn two, it is common to have three Energy on Mewtwo EX and that allows X Ball to 1HKO Deinos. Terrakion is obviously very, very good against Darkrai EX. However, Terrakion needs a bit of support to truly Crush Darkrai EX into oblivion.

First, Terrakion needs a high count of F Energy. Four Energy tends to be sufficient in making two Terrakion work. But, I would not go below five F Energy when playing three Terrakion. You desperately need to get F Energy onto the field quickly. Second, Terrakion needs Tool Scrapper to deal with an Eviolited Darkrai EX. Especially against Hydreigon decks, Terrakion needs to be able to 1HKO Darkrai EX at will. Third, Terrakion needs protection against Hydreigon and Shaymin EX when playing against Hydreigon/Darkrai EX.

Most of the time, your opponent will simply allow you to take two or 3 Prizes then utilize Shaymin EX (or to a lessor extent Hydreigon) to run through your Terrakions. Obviously, Ho-Oh EX can deal with Shaymin EX. However, if you can eliminate your opponent’s Blend Energy, he or she cannot use Shaymin EX or Hydreigon or any of his or her tech attackers. Therefore, Enhanced Hammer can be a crucial card.

Additionally, this build should be extremely comfortable engaging in a Mewtwo war. I honestly feel many of the decks that place well at Regionals will be running Mewtwo. Many people have stopped playing the card or stopped playing it in high numbers, but it is still very good and can simply take over games.

Anti-Empoleon Build

Pokémon – 8

3 Ho-Oh-EX
2 Virizion NVI
1 Sigilyph DRX
1 Tornadus EPO
1 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca
2 Random Receiver

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Energy Switch

3 Eviolite
2 Super Rod
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Potion

2 Switch

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 14

4 G
3 P
3 D
1 L
1 R
1 W
1 M

pokemon-paradijs.comThis is a very unusual build, but it gets the job done against Empoleon and can hang with other decks once you get the tricky decisions down.

Virizion is very good against Empoleon. You can have Resistance and Eviolite to reduce Empoleon’s damage by 40. Combined with limiting your bench, and Empoleon’s usefulness against your deck decreases drastically.

Tornadus EPO is simply a very good filler card. It normally will get two attacks off, and conserve energy. Both traits are important. Ironically, this deck tends to focus on actually attacking with Ho-Oh EX more than most other versions of the deck when facing anything other than Empoleon.

Sigilyph is obviously in the deck to wall EXs and attack opposing Mewtwo EXs. Sableye is in the deck for Junk Hunt. One of the largest liabilities in a Ho-Oh EX deck is the late game N. Junk Hunt allows the deck to recover a little bit better than normal.

The Energy line is forced to accommodate these three attacking options. Virizion, Sableye, and Sigilyph take specific types of Energy to attack. Thus, the Energy line must be consolidated to increase the odds of hitting those required Energy.

Aggro Build

Pokémon – 9

4 Mewtwo-EX NXD

3 Ho-Oh-EX
2 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca
3 Cheren

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Switch
4 Energy Switch

4 Eviolite
2 Tool Scrapper
1 Super Rod

Energy – 14

4 Double Colorless
4 P

3 F
1 L
1 G
1 W

This version of Ho-Oh EX focuses on getting Mewtwo EX up and running as fast as possible. X Ball can quickly run over an opponent’s field. Turn one, you can swing for 40. Turn two you will likely swing for 60 or 80 depending on your opponent’s Energy attachments. On turn three you get to a position where you 2HKO basically any attacker in the game. That is an absurd amount of pressure.

However, this deck also allows Mewtwo EX to utilize Psydrive. Dealing 120 damage is nothing to scoff about and deals with many threats a three Energy X Ball may not be able to.

Many people adamantly claim Tornadus EX should be included in any Ho-Oh deck that aims to put tons of pressure on the board extremely quickly. I have not been comfortable with Tornadus EX in a long time. Eelektrik based decks that utilize Lightning types are still very common. Those Lightning types just eat Tornadus EX alive. That is a risk I am not willing to take.

The one deck an aggro Ho-Oh deck struggles with is Darkrai EX/Hydreigon. Terrakion gives you the potential to take prizes on Darkrai EX and Sigilyph with Terrakion. Shaymin EX can still be a thorn in the side if you fail to hit your Rebirth flips. Yet if you hit your flips, Ho-Oh EX can more than handle Shaymin EX.

TTYL

totallypimpedout.netI hope you enjoyed this look into two of the under exposed archetypes in the format. Both deck types have outperformed their expectations and we have been remiss in our coverage of these decks. I hope this article either helped you figure out how to beat the decks or how to play the decks.

Darkrai EX/Hydreigon and Eelektrik based decks are the undisputed top two threats in the format. Even with another weekend of Battle Road tournaments to go, these two decks have staked their claim to the top Tier. Whatever deck you decide to play for Fall Regionals, you had better have an answer to for these two deck types.

I wish all of you the best at your Regionals, and I hope to see you again in November.


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