Regionals are only a couple days away, but if you’re at all like me, you probably have no idea what you want to play yet, or at least have some uncertainties about your deck/list choice. This article will hopefully help you make these decisions, and will also offer some additional tips for playing in the tournament.
First, I’ll analyze the results of Battle Roads, then I will go through the pros and cons of each popular deck while also giving decklists for these decks, then discuss what the “best” play is. After this, I will offer in-game playing tips.
Rather than give full decklists, I opted to show skeletons with ways to fill those skeletons out. In the current format, deck structure varies dramatically based on the metagame and I don’t think there’s a “best” list for any deck. My lists, which are built with the assumption that I’ll be playing against Darkrai/Hydreigon at least 50% of the time, probably wouldn’t do very well in a metagame where Ho-Oh-EX and Rayquaza/Eelektrik are more popular.
I realize that most people prefer to see full lists, but given the way this format works, giving them didn’t make sense to me. I did, however, include full lists for a couple rogue decks I came up with, just to give people something to test with.
I also realize that an article was just written on Tuesday that is somewhat similar to this one, but it helps to get the perspective of multiple players. Besides, I don’t think there’s a topic people are more interested in than Regionals right now, even after reading the other article.
I compiled a list of Battle Roads results based off of the PokéGym Battle Roads results page. Rather than looking at what won, I combined all Top 4 results. Without a top cut, I believe that is a more accurate way to look at the metagame. Here’s what I came up with (note: this only includes results from the Masters division):
- 100 Hydreigon/Darkrai-EX variants
- 79 Eelektrik Variants without Rayquaza
- 73 Rayquaza-EX/Rayquaza/Eelektrik
- 73 Non-Hydreigon Darkrai-EX variants
- 44 Basic Rush variants (mostly Fighting-based)
- 36 Ho-oh-EX variants
- 32 Garbodor variants
- 29 Garchomp variants
- 19 Empoleon variants
- 12 Empoleon/Accelgor
- 10 Klinklang EX
- 9 Gothitelle/Accelgor variants
- 5 Darkrai EX/Chandelure
- 2 Gothitelle/Gardevoir/Mewtwo EX
- 1 Aggron
pokemon-paradijs.comI separated the list into tiers based off of only the results. The lowest tier is the group of decks that don’t have enough wins to consider popular or serious threats, so many of them will not be mentioned at all in the article after this point. I do not recommend playing them.
It’s also worthy of note that, based off of these results, Hydreigon/Darkrai-EX variants should be in a tier above the other Tier 1 decks since the second most successful deck didn’t even have 4/5ths the number of wins that it did. Similarly, Basic Rush variants should be separated from the rest of the Tier 1.5 decks.
I’d also like to add that I don’t believe all of these results accurately show what tier each deck belongs in. They’re just a good place to start when analyzing the metagame.
We can see that Eelektrik and Darkrai decks are by far the most dominant, being the only decks in Tier 1 and having significantly more wins than any other deck. This means that Fighting and Dragon types have a natural advantage in this metagame, since they can hit most of the Tier 1 variants for Weakness.
Similarly, Garbodor has an advantage because the Tier 1 decks are all very Ability-based and because it can be paired with Terrakion, a Fighting type. Looking at Tier 1.5 and Tier 2, we see that it they both consist mostly of these naturally advantaged types and Garbodor. Ho-Oh-EX and Empoleon are sprinkled in as well. They aren’t as good as some of the other decks around (namely Eelektrik and Darkrai), but there aren’t very many decks built specifically to beat these decks either.
pokemon-paradijs.comBasically, the metagame is dominated by Darkrai and Eelektrik. Decks with an advantage over these decks have been successful as well. And there is some room for other decks, although only Empoleon and Ho-Oh-EX have actually been notably successful.
From now on in this article, the metagame is considered to be all of the decks that are Tier 2 or higher on the above list. Everything else is non-meta. Having this context makes it easier to talk about the format, although it’s not entirely accurate.
Now, let’s take a more in-depth look at each of the decks listed above, except the “One-Hit” Wonders. The thing about this format is that matchups are largely dependent on what techs each deck is using, so deck construction naturally varies based on what’s popular in a specific area. Because of this, I decided to list pros and cons of each deck and give skeleton lists and ways to fill those out based off your metagame rather than full lists and specific matchups. I realize that most people prefer the latter, but I don’t believe giving those things would be as helpful.
This section may feel like it’s rushed and doesn’t go in-depth as much as it could. That’s because these decks are complex enough that an entire article could be written about each one. I’m only mentioning what I feel is most important, because I think it’s more important to discuss every deck rather than discuss one or two in extreme detail this close to Regionals.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis deck has a lot going for it in a format where Prize exchanges and resource management are critical to winning. Every deck wants to be 1HKOing everything, but most can only manage 2HKOs on EX cards. This deck capitalizes on that very nicely, as every turn its opponent fails to 1HKO something, it can play a Max Potion to render their entire attack useless. Just one turn of that can swing the momentum of the game completely and allow for the deck to catch up on Prizes.
Even if it doesn’t hit the Max Potion, it can retreat the damaged Pokémon and move the Energy off of it, forcing the opponent to play a Catcher just to KO it. Should they play the Catcher, they still won’t remove Energy from play, so aside from the loss of Prize card(s), they aren’t doing much to hurt your game.
Sableye also does more for the deck than people give it credit for. Just being able to reuse Items is huge (especially in a deck with Max Potion), but it also lets the deck run the opponent out of resources. The easiest way to counter a Pokémon Catcher is to play a Switch, but Sableye lets you get back the Catcher you played, effectively forcing the opponent to waste a Switch. Similarly, with Tool Scrapper and Sableye, it’s easy to remove the opponent’s Tools from play if they drop them carelessly.
Its uses go on, but the point is that Sableye is one of the most important advantages this deck has over the rest of the format. I strongly advise against playing less than three. I use two Sableye most games, but I use the third enough to more than justify it, considering it’s also a great starter and you don’t want it to be Prized.
The deck does a very good job of controlling the pace of the game. If the opponent is trying to build up a Terrakion-EX to take out your Darkrai, you can just drop a different attacker and start using that. While it might not stop them from taking the Darkrai out, it will force them to play a Catcher and they won’t take any Energy off your side of the field.
Beating Darkrai/Hydreigon comes down to taking out Darkrais, taking out Hydreigon, or (ideally) both. If the opponent can’t 1HKO Darkrai or Hydreigon and the deck gets set up, it’s basically game over right there. Even if they can 1HKO one, leaving the other around is often enough for the deck to win anyway. Nobody wants to deal with a swarm of Eviolited Darkrai after they’ve burned all their Catcher, but nobody wants to deal with a Hydreigon/Shaymin-EX or Mewtwo-EX/Max Potion combo late-game after they’ve over-extended to 1HKO Darkrais either.
Relying on an Item to execute your main strategy isn’t a good thing. Sableye helps with this, as does the fact that you don’t absolutely need a lot of Max Potions to win games. Even so, it’s an issue that does come up. And of course, there’s the year-old issue of simply using Stage 2s.
Furthermore, the deck is very tight on space, so much so that it can’t fit Switch. Independent of the format, the deck clearly doesn’t need it thanks to Darkrai. However, with Paralyze in the form of Accelgor and Raikou-EX gaining some popularity, the lack of Switch leaves the deck vulnerable in certain matchups. The deck’s lack of space also makes it somewhat predictable list-wise; most good lists are within five cards of each other.
The Bottom Line
This deck is easily Tier 1, and arguably the best deck around. Very few decks can shut off both Hydreigon and Darkrai, with Garbodor being the only one that can do it effectively. This makes it a perfect fit for the format, and once there’s a Random Receiver in the discard pile, it’s extremely consistent as well.
While it’s not flawless or without bad matchups (they are very few far and between, most of them being Accelgor or Garbodor variants), it’s able to win virtually every game as long as it’s piloted well and runs well enough.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
Open Spots – 3
This skeleton is more or less standard. Obviously it cuts some major corners; you’re never going to want to play with only 2 Darkrai-EX or 3 Pokémon Catcher, but it’s important to recognize that those spots are open if you really need them in a pinch. A Random Receiver could also be cut, but I wouldn’t cut it for a card that doesn’t help consistency. Ideally, you’d want even more consistency cards than this list has. Super Rod arguably isn’t a staple either, but it’s incredibly useful and really shouldn’t be dropped unless absolutely necessary.
Before taking a look at ways to fill this list out, there are a couple things I want to discuss.
Eviolite vs. Giant Cape
pokemon-paradijs.comEviolite arguably isn’t even a staple, but it really is important; enough so that it should be in every list. It’s a major matchup swinger in both mirror and against Fighting decks. Changing Night Spear and Rayquaza’s attack from a 2HKO to a 3HKO on your Darkrais, preventing Terrakion-EX and Terrakion from 1HKOing Darkrai, and forcing Rayquaza-EX to have an extra Energy to 1HKO Darkrai are all extremely important in a format largely dominated by these cards.
Also relevant is the fact that it will prevent Shaymin-EX from being 1HKO’d by Bouffalant. Because it is useful in virtually every matchup, I put it in the skeleton.
A possible replacement for it, however, is Giant Cape. In all of the situations mentioned above, Giant Cape works as effectively as Eviolite. However, Giant Cape can also prevent Zekrom-EX (and sometimes Shaymin-EX and Garchomp) from 1HKOing Hydreigon. This is a fairly small benefit, but the drawbacks of using Giant Cape over Eviolite are also small.
Aside from allowing Raikou-EX to 2HKO Darkrai and occasionally messing with Garchomp, Empoleon, and Mewtwo math, there aren’t many drawbacks. This change really isn’t worth your time unless you’re expecting to play a lot of Zekrom-EX, but if you are, it can really help that matchup without hurting your other matchups quite as much as it helps that one.
Mewtwo-EX vs. Sigilyph
Most versions of this deck use Sigilyph, and many do not use Mewtwo-EX. However, I chose to put Mewtwo-EX in the skeleton and leave Sigilyph out completely. This is because Sigilyph has a very narrow range of uses. It will 1HKO a Mewtwo-EX with four or more Energy, and it will occasionally stall for a turn while also doing a little damage. But that’s about it. With this deck, you really don’t want to have a 90HP Pokémon active, especially not one trying to do damage for three Energy.
Mewtwo-EX, on the other hand, can 1HKO opposing Mewtwo-EX even if they don’t have any Energy (via Psydrive), and it has quite a few other uses as well. Dropping it then moving six Energy onto it can completely sweep an unprepared Empoleon or Garchomp player. It can even win games against Terrakion decks. It brings something completely new to the deck: heavy damage at any point in the game.
Sigilyph also brings something new to the deck (an EX counter), but it just doesn’t fit into the deck as well Mewtwo. Sigilyph isn’t a bad card, but space is tight in this deck and you really want to be getting the most out of every spot. Mewtwo makes better use of that spot than Sigilyph.
With that covered, let’s look at some ways to fill this list out. Adding extra quantities of most of the cards in the deck would be ideal. You’re especially going to want a 3rd Darkrai-EX, a 4th Pokémon Catcher, a 4th Max Potion, a 3rd or even 4th Dark Patch, and possibly another Bianca or D Energy. Choosing three of these cards to add is hard enough, but most lists will only have room for one or two. One or two spots need to become techs to beat certain matchups. Here are some of these techs:
1-2 Tool Scrapper
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is one of those cards that nobody really wants to run, but it is important in this deck. It allows Darkrai to 2HKO other EXs even if they have Eviolite and it can set up 1HKOs for Mewtwo and Shaymin on Eviolited cards.
Possibly more importantly, Tool Scrapper really hurts Garbodor, which is a major threat to this deck. Garbodor/Terrakion shuts down both Hydreigon and Darkrai, so it’s an almost ideal Darkrai/Hydreigon counter. Playing passive-aggressively with Sableye, Tool Scrapper, and Pokémon Catcher can actually swing the matchup in your favor, however.
With as few as two Tool Scrapper, the deck’s worst matchup can become slightly favorable. If you think there’s any realistic chance of playing against Garbodor multiple times in Swiss or at all in top cut, you’re going to want at least one Tool Scrapper in your list.
1-2 Dark Claw
While it’s all-in-all not as good of a Tool as Eviolite or Giant Cape, it does allow Darkrai to 1HKO an Empoleon or Garchomp that’s been sniped for 30. It also counters an opponent’s Eviolite more aggressively than an Eviolite of your own would. However, Empoleon and Garchomp just aren’t threatening enough to the deck to justify this unless they make up most of your meta. It’s not a card I recommend using in most lists, but it’s one other players might use. Remember that this card exists when playing against Darkrai/Hydreigon, because you don’t want to be surprised by it.
It sounds like a dumb inclusion, and it really is. However, if you’re expecting people to play decks based on Paralyze (or Garbodor, I guess), even a single copy of this can win games. Most metas don’t have quite enough of these decks to justify Switch, but if you think yours will, consider using 1-2 copies.
It also has some other minor uses: it can help get that T1 Sableye when you don’t start with it, and makes it so you don’t always have to have a Darkrai in play. This helps against Terrakion decks, which can 1HKO it.
1 Terrakion + 2-3 Prism Energy
While the format has evolved from last season’s where virtually every deck was weak to Fighting, many decks still are. In many areas, you can expect to be playing against Raikou-EX and Darkrai-EX for at least half of your games. Terrakion is a huge deal against these cards, taking 2 Prizes each turn without fear of being 1HKO’d back. So if your meta is filled with Darkrai and ZekEel like most are, he’s well worth your time.
The Prisms aren’t hard to fit unless you’re running a list that’s reliant on Dark Patch; you can drop a Blend or two and a couple D Energy to make room for about three of them. The single Terrakion is actually the hard card to get in. I definitely recommend it if you can fit it and it works in your meta, however.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis card is kind of redundant because Darkrai-EX snipes, so it’s usually hard to justify taking up a space in your deck to use it. However, it’s still great in the deck. It makes it easy to change the momentum of the game and keep the user running the show. You can go from doing big damage one turn to spreading the next.
It’s effective at killing Eels and putting pressure on Max Potions in the mirror, but usually it actually changes the momentum of the game too much for the deck to really make use of it. 30 snipes are great, but they take awhile to add up and Darkrai decks like to be aggressive.
Eelektrik decks just don’t seem to die. Not only have they been around ever since Eelektrik’s release, but they’ve been Tier 1 ever since too. They’re consistent, fairly fast, and have very diverse attacking options. In fact, they’re so diverse that all Eelektrik decks only have a few similarities.
In terms of attackers, Raikou-EX has become a staple. In mirror, the player who can snipe off the other player’s Eelektriks more effectively usually comes out on top, and Raikou is the most reliable way to do that. It’s also great in other matchups for KOing pre-Evolutions, Sableye, etc.
A natural pair for Raikou-EX is Max Potion, so it’s found its way into most successful Eelektrik decks as well. The same applies to Skyarrow Bridge, although a few lists have been able to use a high count of Switch instead of it.
Outside of those few cards and standard staples, however, Eelektrik decks can be very different from each other. Some are based around Rayquaza-EX, while others use more old-school attackers: Zekrom, Mewtwo-EX, Zekrom-EX, and various others.
pokemon-paradijs.comIn terms of raw power, this deck is unrivaled. It can 1HKO any card ever printed with Rayquaza-EX and enough Energy, which is huge in a format filled with Max Potion. It gets a little bit of extra free space and a consistency boost because it doesn’t use any Stage 2’s, but it doesn’t sacrifice any power, versatility, or functionality to do so. It’s able to get Energy from the discard pile, which means it rarely ends up without an attacker as long as Eelektrik is in play.
Rayquaza provides some nice type coverage for Rayquaza-EX, covering its Weakness by 1HKOing Dragon types without giving up 2 Prizes. Raikou-EX brings an alternate Weakness to the table, and extra versatility in attacking and sniping capabilities.
Unlike most decks, this deck requires a very specific setup to fully function. It has to have quite a few Eelektrik in play to keep using Dragon Burst for big damage, and if it loses enough these Eelektrik, it loses all of its options. Both of its best attackers burn through Energy like crazy and are extremely dependent on Eelektrik.
Rayquaza-EX is also a huge liability because of its type. While it can 1HKO any card in the format, it can also be 1HKO’d back by Hydreigon, Garchomp, or opposing Rayquaza. That means that it’s really only safe to use against Empoleon and Ho-Oh-EX, cards that haven’t been nearly as successful as the former ones. Not to say that it isn’t useful against decks that can 1HKO it, but its uses do become more limited.
Rayquaza and Rayquaza-EX also require R Energy, which doesn’t fit very well into Eelektrik decks. It messes with consistency, it has no uses outside of with those two cards. It just feels strange running it.
The Bottom Line
Results usually don’t lie, so I’m reluctant to call this deck bad. However, I’ve been putting it down ever since I started testing it, and that really hasn’t changed. When the deck works, it works very well. But it just doesn’t have the flexibility or even matchups that I’ve come to appreciate in a lot of other decks. Rayquaza-EX is a great option and brings something very useful to the table, but more often than not, it doesn’t do the job it’s supposed to do well enough. Hitting for 180+ takes a lot more resources than I usually have, and regular Rayquaza isn’t a great card when it’s not hitting for Weakness. It usually gets 1HKO’d and it’s hard to stream R Energy every turn.
While the deck is by no means bad, I honestly feel that there are better options. Now, I haven’t been able to find a list of this deck that I’m satisfied with, so that might be part of my problem. I just haven’t been able to balance the Energy count with everything else well enough to have space and consistently hit R Energy.
If you are able to and the deck works for you, by all means, don’t let me stop you from playing it. I just can’t seem to get the results so many players I know have been able to, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the deck or because of me. I don’t want to post a list I feel is bad, so I’m just going to end this section without discussing a decklist.
Unlike Rayquaza-based Eelektrik, this variant can play fairly well with few or even no Eelektrik in play. All it gives up to do this is the power of Rayquaza-EX, which is no small factor, but it isn’t usually a gamebreaking factor either. It gets an alternate form of Energy acceleration in the form of DCE, and that opens some extra attacking options like Mewtwo-EX, Zekrom-EX and Tornadus-EX.
Basically, you’re trading in the raw power of the Rayquaza version for versatility. Unlike the Rayquaza version, this deck is very consistent and rarely has a turn where it’s unable to do some damage even when Eelektrik is not in play. With a carefully thought-out attacker line, it’s very possible to cover most of the deck’s weaknesses.
This deck gets overpowered by a couple decks in the format, namely Darkrai/Hydreigon. It’s unable to 1HKO a lot of popular cards, putting it in an awkward position in a Max Potion-filled format. Even so, the combined ability to snipe, be aggressive early, and finish with a fairly powerful late-game wins a lot of games and creates generally favorable matchups. The Darkrai/Hydreigon matchup is still rough, however. It doesn’t like playing against Fighting types either, although Mewtwo helps that.
The Bottom Line
In metagames that aren’t dominated by Darkrai/Hydreigon, this deck is a very solid play. It’s consistent, fast, can play off the field late-game, and has various other advantages over most other decks in the format. Its attackers are a little weak for being EXs, but the deck works well regardless.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 29
Energy – 11
This deck has more open spots than any other Tier 1 deck (not that that says a lot, considering how small Tier 1 is). Filling this list out involves a few steps. For starters, you’re going to want at least one more attacker in there. It certainly doesn’t hurt to use an extra copy of any of the Items, Supporters, attackers, or even L Energy in the skeleton list (and/or two extra copies of Max Potion). Depending on how you want to fill the list, you could actually devote all remaining eight spots to those cards and run fairly well. However, there are some other cards you probably want in there.
In terms of the attacking line, you ideally want Raikou-EX, Mewtwo-EX, Zekrom-EX, and Zekrom. Raikou-EX is great in early and mid game because is takes aggressive Prizes while using Max Potion to deny the opponent Prizes.
Zekrom-EX works very well in combination with Raikou-EX, adding power to aggression and snipe. The only cards it doesn’t 1HKO are EXs, but EXs usually don’t 1HKO it either, so this is fine. Mewtwo-EX is a great low-resource attacker and really shines in those “gap” turns where you can’t charge something else.
Zekrom, although not necessary, fills a lot of holes in the deck. It hates on Bouffalant and Sigilyph and it’s extremely useful against Empoleon/Terrakion because it puts pressure on the opponent’s Empoleons without giving up 2 Prizes to Terrakion.
pokemon-paradijs.comBecause the deck likes a fairly diverse attacking line, I’ve grown to like 3 Super Rod a lot; it lets the deck swarm any of its attackers without actually having to run a lot of copies of them. Revive, however, does this more effectively since it puts the attackers directly back in play. On the other hand, though, it can’t recover Eelektriks. This hurts the deck in a lot of situations and it effectively forces the user to have a 4th Eelektrik in their list. This isn’t a terrible drawback, but it means that Revive takes up one more space in the list than Super Rod would.
This card isn’t the powerhouse it once was; it doesn’t 1HKO very much and it usually gets 1HKO’d back. However, having a copy makes the deck flow a lot better. Against decks with decks with Terrakion (it’s most useful against Empoleon/Terrakion), it lets you attack without risking 2 Prizes.
This card is great for scoring 1HKOs against Hydreigon, Garchomp, and even Terrakion. It’s hard to charge it up and it just doesn’t feel like it “flows” well in the deck, much like Rayquaza-EX. However, it does 150 damage, and that’s something useful which no other card in the deck can say it does. It’s a card I suggest including, but be careful about when you use it.
You’re really not going to want to play without this card. It lets you switch between Raikous very easily and that in itself can win games. It also makes it easier to get out of Tynamo starts and gives the rest of your attackers a more manageable Retreat Cost. However, it is possible to play without it. DCE lets Raikou hold an Energy to retreat a Raikou that used Volt Bolt, and a bumped up Switch count can make up for the turns you don’t have DCE or want to retreat a different card. Clearly, it’s possible to play without it, but doing so isn’t ideal.
Considering that this deck’s worst matchup is Darkrai/Hydreigon, it only makes sense to tech for that matchup. Victini isn’t a very aggressive tech, but it splashes into this deck very well. Thunder Fang and even Thunder Wave become considerably more reliable when backed by Victory Star.
Against a deck without Switch, these attacks are good at stalling for a few turns to further a setup, set up a 1HKO, force them to burn a Max Potion, or power up a Mewtwo. Even without Victini, I frequently find myself resorting to Thunder Fang against Darkrai/Hydreigon, so having the Victini around is very nice.
Although this card’s uses are limited, it really helps against a lot of decks. It prevents Darkrai-EX from 2HKOing your EX cards, it prevents Terrakion from getting 1HKOs on Raikous, and it messes with Empoleon’s math. It’s not worth the space in every list, but it’s a very useful addition.
Garbodor is a bit of an issue for this deck. While Mewtwo can handle it most of the time, Tool Scrapper can really push the matchup over the edge. It also helps against Darkrai decks, mirror, etc. Like Eviolite, there are other cards that are more important than it, but it can be fit into some lists anyway.
Non-Hydreigon Darkrai Decks
pokemon-paradijs.comTo be honest, my experience playing these decks equates to virtually nothing. I’ve played against them, but it’s not the same. I’ve heard a lot from my friends about how they’re extremely consistent and aggressive, but how they’re frail and sometimes lose the Energy they have in play.
Without actually playing it, though, I’m reluctant to say anything definitive about the deck’s pros and cons or give a decklist. Fortunately, J-Wittz wrote a great article about this type of deck just last week (here), so just read through that if you want more information.
Based on my experience playing against this deck, I can recommend it for Regionals. All in all, it’s a good play because it is consistent and that’s great in a big tournament. However, I do not believe it’s the best play. It does not match up well against Darkrai/Hydreigon… Hydreigon is an extremely major game swinger in this matchup and puts the user at a huge advantage.
Furthermore, RayEels really pressures your limited Energy attachments by threatening 1HKOs. There are decks that have a better chance against these two “gods” of the format, and because of that, this deck just falls in the shadow of others. It’s by no means bad though.
Basic Rush Variants (Fighting-Based)
These decks are extremely consistent. They’re able to play well with a minimal setup and usually have more room than other decks for Supporters. They don’t use a lot of tricks, but when they play against the right matchup, that’s okay because they’re at an advantage anyway.
Most variants use a fast attacker like Stunfisk as well, so they’re able to be very aggressive, especially against Eelektrik decks.
Outside of the Terrakion core, this deck type can use a lot of different attackers. This makes it hard to play against, because it always has a surprise up its sleeve.
These decks sacrifice power and versatility for consistency and speed. Most decks are able to respond to it because its options are very limited on a turn-by-turn basis. Energy Switch and Super Scoop Up give the deck a little bit of wiggle room, but without a good form of Energy acceleration, it’s hard to switch between attackers and game plans. If you’ve been charging Terrakions and a Darkrai/Hydreigon player busts out a Shaymin-EX, that spells very bad news.
Furthermore, against decks like Empoleon and Ho-Oh that don’t have a type disadvantage against this deck, it can start to struggle. Most lists are based around beating the Fighting-weak top dogs in the format.
The Bottom Line
Although this deck can without a doubt win games, most decks are able to systematically pick its setup apart. It gets its Energy taken out of play too often, and it doesn’t have the versatility that decks with Ability-based Energy acceleration/manipulation do. It’s not a bad play, but I’d readily recommend a lot of other decks over it.
In term of decklists, the lists in the article posted earlier this week very closely mirror my lists. I won’t go into a lot of depth about this because the other article did, but here’s a skeleton I like:
Pokémon – 7
Trainers – 31
Energy – 13
Open Spots – 9
I would like to stress that Super Scoop Up and Max Potion are very viable in this deck, despite being somewhat unreliable. Builds with Terrakion-EX make especially good use of it, being able to use SSU alongside Pump-Up Smash to a Benched Terrakion-EX to deny damage very effectively. They aren’t necessary by any means though. If you opt not to add SSU, you’ll definitely want some more Switch.
Terrakion-EX is somewhat expendable, but it gives this list a couple more options, so I like it. Definitely keep Stunfisk in mind when filling this list out. For more ideas, check out this article.
pokemon-paradijs.comHo-Oh-EX sort of came out of nowhere, so skeleton lists are still developing for it. This combined with the vast number of partners the card has give the deck a great surprise factor.
Ho-Oh is also amazing at keeping resources in play. With proper flips, it can come out of nowhere and hit for 80 damage. The fact that it’s usually only paired with Basics also makes it extremely consistent.
Its Ability combos well with healing cards like Super Scoop Up and Max Potion, which have proven to be very effective in this format.
On its own, Ho-Oh underwhelms even though it’s a very consistent attacker. It’s hard to do enough damage with it to 1HKO most popular cards, but a few select cards can 1HKO Ho-Oh anyway.
Between Phoenix and Super Scoop Up, the deck is fairly flippy and occasionally unreliable.
The Bottom Line
Ho-Oh is a very unique card. It has a mechanic that’s never been seen in the history of the game, and that alone gives it an advantage because people are inexperienced playing against it. Its vast number of potential partners and versatility on its own make it very playable. There are better decks, but there aren’t decks that bring to the table what Ho-Oh does.
Now, let’s take a look at what I believe are the four best and/or most popular partners for Ho-Oh and their pros and cons before taking a look at decklists.
This card has easily become the most popular partner for Ho-Oh. However, it simply does not deserve the hype it’s gotten. In the past, it’s been used mostly for its typing. Fighting resistance with Colorless attack costs is great in any deck that struggles against Fighting types.
However, Ho-Oh-EX has no trouble at all with Fighting types and usually hits for about the same amount of damage Tornadus hits for, if not more. The ability to donk is nice, but it requires Skyarrow Bridge, which takes up a lot of space.
Mewtwo is basically a better version of Tornadus-EX in this deck. It usually gets more mileage out of each Energy that’s attached to it than Tornadus will, but like Tornadus it only requires C Energy. It can also force Mewtwo wars, which Ho-Oh decks aren’t great at, but are still a better strategy than hitting for 80 a turn with Ho-Oh. Perhaps most important is the fact that Mewtwo-EX doesn’t require Skyarrow Bridge to make good use out of two Energy, which saves the deck a lot of space.
Terrakion is great against all of the Tier 1 decks right now, so although it takes a little work to allow it to attack effectively in the deck, it’s very useful.
Sableye is not a very common partner for Ho-Oh, mostly because it requires a few D Energy to be effective and DCE or F Energy are usually more important. However, Junk Hunt is great in combination with healing cards and it’s also great for setting up an early Phoenix with Ultra Ball and Energy Search. If Ho-Oh was a better attacker, Sableye would be an ideal partner for it.
Pokémon – 8
4 Other Attackers (combination of cards listed above)
Trainers – 30
6 Other Draw Cards
Energy – 12
4 Other Energy (DCE or more copies of below Energy)
Open Spots – 10
pokemon-paradijs.comAs a side note, my personal favorite combination of attackers is simply 4 Mewtwo-EX and 4 Ho-Oh-EX. Terrakion is nice, but the ability to use DCE and get T1 X Balls is even nicer. Mewtwo fits in very will with the deck’s strategy of tanking with SSU considering its high HP and ability to use one-Energy attacks with DCE. It also likes the Energy acceleration offered by Ho-Oh and Energy Switch, although it’s very makeshift.
Depending on the direction you want to take with this deck, there are a few ways you can fill the skeleton out. You’re going to want a few more Basic Energy if you decide to use DCE, and probably one or two more anyway. You’ll probably want at least one tech attacker as well.
In terms of the Supporter line, your options are limited (this definitely should not come as a surprise). Bianca isn’t great in most cases because this deck likes to conserve resources, keep its Bench at a minimum, and tends to have Energy clogging its hand. Cheren is alright; it’s not good at being aggressive, but this deck likes to be very aggressive early-game. Even so, it’s usually better than Bianca. In this particular deck, Random Receiver is actually a very solid play because of how much it prefers an N/Juniper to Cheren/Bianca.
2-4 Max Potion
Although it appears redundant on top of Super Scoop Up, the more healing the better. I personally run 4 Max Potion in my list just because it means I rarely whiff on a turn of healing. It works well with Ho-Oh because a Ho-Oh can be retreated and Max Potioned, then another Ho-Oh can recover the Energy later.
Pretty self-explanatory card. It makes Ho-Oh even more of a tank.
Without any non-EX attackers, the deck gets trolled by Sigilyph. This card fixes that issue with a simple DCE and it makes for a great revenge killer in other situations as well. After a card is KO’d, Bouffalant will get more mileage out of a DCE than any other attacker in the deck.
1-3 Tool Scrapper: It makes KOs on EX cards easier and stops Garbodor from getting in the way of Phoenix.
In a format where virtually every good deck uses at least one Ability, Garbodor is golden. As soon as it’s set up, the user has an automatic advantage over 95% of the format.
It can pair with most Basic attackers, which makes the deck unpredictable.
Setting up Garbodor does nothing to directly benefit your side of the field. This makes the deck less aggressive than most of the format, and this can be an issue. Other decks will set up Eelektrik or Hydreigon and be able to pull off some really cool tricks, but Garbodor will just sit there reducing the game to a simple Prize exchange war.
The deck is fairly vulnerable to Tool Scrapper, especially when combined with Sableye.
Pokémon – 12
4 Trubbush NVI
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
Open Spots – 3
pokemon-paradijs.comMewtwo-EX and Terrakion make for a great combination of attackers; Terrakion does big damage to a lot of popular cards and decent damage to everything else while Mewtwo counters other Mewtwo and attacks for minimal Energy when Exp. Share isn’t showing up.
I personally wouldn’t try to do too much with this list. Ideal ways of filling it are basically just adding more Supporters and Items. The deck can always use more draw Supporters, Tools, and search cards. Which of these cards you put priority on is up to you. For a tournament like Regionals where consistency is key, Tools are slightly less important than search cards and Supporters. Getting Trubbish into play is going to be the main thing you want to focus on. Level Ball could actually be added to do this, but it’s completely dead outside of that one use.
I really wouldn’t suggest using attackers other than Terrakion and Mewtwo unless you want to go the Sableye route. Terrakion and Mewtwo work almost flawlessly together and don’t really need anything else. Any other attacker would just get in the way and take up space. A lot of people have tried Terrakion-EX, myself included, but it has a lot of trouble getting three Energy on itself and it doesn’t play well with a high count of DCE. Mewtwo is much more important than Terrakion-EX, so it’s better to use DCE with regular Terrakion.
Registeel-EX is a decent option because it’s very strong against Darkrai/Hydreigon when combined with Garbodor. Because of this fact alone, I wouldn’t be against using one copy. In most other cases, however, it’s sub-par for the same reason that it’s sub-par in Darkrai/Hydreigon. Spread is great, but the card can’t win games on its own and the rest of the attackers in the deck don’t benefit enough from it to make it worthwhile. Sure, it’s decent at taking out Eels, but Garbodor shuts them down anyway.
This deck gets set up very consistently, does big damage, and can usually have an attacker every turn of the game after it’s set up.
There are very few techs this deck can run; most lists are extremely similar to each other. Furthermore, its game plan is very linear. It sets up and wins, or it doesn’t. There’s not much wiggle room in terms of strategy, attackers, etc. The fact that I’ve only written six sentences about this deck’s pros and cons should prove how basic and simple it is compared to other decks.
The Bottom Line
Garchomp/Altaria is the timer deck of BLW-on. It’s very similar to Durant was in HS-on. It does fast, consistent damage as long as it stays set up. However, if a deck can outpower it, outlast it, or pick apart its setup, it will beat it. Methods of doing this include sniping off Altarias, Max Potioning away the damage, shutting off the deck’s Abilities, or various other things. Most decks have access to at least one of these options, so they can beat the pace it sets on the game.
Because of this, the deck just isn’t Tier 1 in this format. However, it’s very easy to play, so beginners will want to play it and will be able to pilot it effectively. It’s a deck you want to test against, but I don’t recommend playing it if you care about having any control over the course of the game.
Pokémon – 18
3 Altaria DRX 104
3 Swablu DRX
Trainers – 26
Energy – 10
4 Blend WFLM
Open Spots – 6
pokemon-paradijs.comFilling this list could involve adding an extra Gabite, extra Swablu, extra Rare Candy, Cheren, Level Ball, Rare Candy, F Energy, or even extra Rayquaza. It has very few options outside of these cards, but it does have a few.
Another subject I’d like to briefly touch upon is Gible. There are two available ones, and most people tend to go for the Sand Attack one right away. Just looking at the two Gible alone, the Sand Attack one clearly is better, so this is understandable. However, the other Gible is able to do 50-70 damage for one Energy as long as there are some Altaria in play. I’ve seen this factor win games countless times.
Although it’s not a lot of damage, it lets the deck keep attacks coming even when it can’t find a Garchomp. I’m not saying to run only Bite Gible because Sand Attack is great too, but consider one or two copies of it.
When you start Emolga and an Energy, it pays for itself right away. It makes it easier to chain Gabites T2, it can search Swablu, and it speeds up your setup by quite a bit. However, it uses a very valuable Bench spot that you don’t want to give up and it’s deadweight if you don’t start with it. Because of this, I’m on the fence with this card. I’ve seen lists play without it by just using more search cards, but on the other hand it seems like the deck’s most successful games are usually led by a T1 Call for Family.
2-4 Ultra Ball and/or Pokémon Communication
Both of these are great search cards that can replace Emolga in lists that choose not to run it.
2-4 Max Potion
This card is a pain to fit and hurts the deck’s consistency, but it works well since the deck makes great use of one-Energy attacks. It can win games, and it’s nice to have because it gives the deck at least one trick outside of just hitting for as much damage as possible.
This deck is filled with cards that Retreat for one Energy, so it doesn’t really need Switch. However, Accelgor runs through it without Switch and Raikou is much more annoying between Catcher + snipe and Thunder Fang shenanigans.
1-2 Terrakion and 2-3 Exp. Share
These cards take up a lot of space and don’t work very well with the rest of the deck, but they really help the deck’s Darkrai and Eelektrik matchups. I don’t recommend them just because of how much space they take, but in metas filled with these cards, it’s worth testing.
Empoleon’s Diving Draw gives the deck great consistency, and one-Energy attacks are great for making use of Max Potion. The deck covers its weaknesses very well with Terrakion. Furthermore, the deck can branch out in many different directions. It can use Accelgor, Mew-EX, Roserade, and various other cards very effectively, which keeps the element of surprise on your side even partway through a game.
Empoleon is Ho-Oh-EX’s worst nightmare, and having an extremely favorable matchup is always nice.
In order to fully take advantage of Empoleon’s Ability, you want to run a low count of draw Supporters. Empoleon can draw cards for you and cutting Supporters lets you use techs. Such techs are necessary because 120- damage on a Stage 2 just won’t cut it in this format. However, in cutting out Supporters, you’ll struggle whenever you don’t have an Empoleon (really two Empoleon) in play.
Even with Diving Draw, it’s hard to swarm Empoleon. It’s just KO’d too easily between Lightning types, Rayquaza-EX, Hydreigon, Mewtwo-EX, and Garchomp. Diving Draw is great for consistency, but when it comes to setting your side of the field up, it’s no Dragon Call. It doesn’t start to have any truly beneficial effects until late-game when multiple Empoleon are in play, but since Empoleon has to be attacking in the Active Spot, it usually doesn’t survive long enough for these effects to show up.
pokemon-paradijs.comAgainst decks where you have to use Terrakion, you have to hold at least one W Energy in play in order to use Energy Switch. Since Terrakion usually comes in after a KO, this means that you have to be a turn ahead on your attachments. In a low-Energy deck that likes to use Max Potion, this isn’t easy and it often prevents you from using Terrakion when it’s most needed. It also doesn’t help that Empoleon’s Weakness makes it get 1HKO’d by almost any Lightning type.
The Bottom Line
Empoleon is the one metagame deck that I flat out recommend you do not play. It’s easy for an opponent to manipulate Empoleon’s damage output, and even at maximum, it’s underwhelming. The HP isn’t quite enough for Max Potion to be effective, and it certainly doesn’t fit as well in this deck as it does in others.
When it comes down to it, Empoleon doesn’t offer anything that other decks can’t. Diving Draw is nice, but it’s usually not game-changing. The fact that you have to swarm Stage 2s while other decks swarm Basics completely negates the consistency Diving Draw brings.
Pokémon – 17
1 Prinplup DEX
Trainers – 30
3 Level Ball
Energy – 9
Open Spots – 4
pokemon-paradijs.comThis skeleton is actually based off of my friend’s list, so all credit goes to him. It’s very focused around just hammering away with Empoleon, using Terrakion when necessary.
The Rocky Helmet is the only extremely unique part of the list. It’s meant to be used as a virtual Tool Scrapper, setting up 1HKOs for Terrakion on Darkrai and Raikou. However, it also works extremely well against Garchomp/Altaria, which almost always has a full bench. It turns a 2HKO on Garchomp into a 1HKO, which is huge. And if they don’t have a full Bench, they probably won’t have enough Altaria in play to 1HKO you, so it once again evens out (except that you’ll have Max Potion).
It’s also a great surprise in the mirror; if they ever have a full Bench and you drop Rocky Helmet, they’re in for a surprise. If your metagame doesn’t have a lot of Garchomp, Tool Scrapper is probably a better use of those spots, though.
We both agree that Roserade is absolutely necessary in any Empoleon/Terrakion deck. It practically doubles the chance you get a T2 Empoleon and it can be used late-game to pull Energy Switch and other resources from the deck. 2-2 with no Spray is the minimum.
Ways of filling this list include adding more Energy, a 4th Max Potion, 4th Switch, more search cards, and more Emolga. There are a few other cards that can be used as well:
Mewtwo is still a huge force in the format, and Empoleon doesn’t have an immediate way to deal with it. With a small Bench and Eviolite, Mewtwo can take at least three hits from Empoleon, and in that time it can 1HKO at least three cards if it has enough Energy. It’s very easy for a Hydreigon deck to get 6+ Energy on a Mewtwo mid-game. Mew-EX can take it out with Attack Command + Weakness, and that’s a pretty big deal.
However, it’s also a huge liability because of its low HP and it doesn’t have many uses outside of 1HKOing Mewtwo. I recommend a single copy if you’re playing against a lot of Mewtwo, though.
It takes easy KOs on Tynamo and really frustrates Hydreigon decks. It’s not necessary on top of Terrakion, but it can be used instead of it, removing the need for Energy Switch and opening some extra spots up in the deck. It’s not as effective at beating Hydreigon or Eelektrik as Terrakion is, though.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt can also donk Tynamos, but it donks Gible and Swablu as well. In metas that have a lot of Garchomp/Altaria, it’s a decent addition. Just beware of that Retreat Cost, though, and the fact that it needs a Blend Energy to attack. It can be hard to use it Turn 1, and this fact alone makes it hard to justify since the spot could be used to shoot for a Turn 2 Empoleon.
2-3 Exp. Share
This card makes it easier to charge Terrakion, but you have to have a Terrakion on your Bench before it’s useful. You really don’t want to drop them before you use them because they can just be Catchered up for stalling or to be KO’d. Because of this, Energy Switch is usually better, but it does require an Energy to be in play already.
2-4 Devolution Spray
Being able to reuse Roserade’s Ability is great. Enough of a focus on Spray lets you run 1-of cards like PlusPower, Tool Scrapper, Giant Cape, etc. and have them reliably. It can be hard to fit all of this, but the strategy can be very effective anyway.
I’ll also share my personal list, which I obviously like more than my friend’s. However, we’ve tested both lists a lot and his always seems to work better. Mine should be more consistent, but it usually struggles to set up and keep Empoleon in play. When it works though, it works incredibly well.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 33
Energy – 9
4 Blend WFLM
pokemon-paradijs.comStunfisk is used over Terrakion just to save space. The deck tries to play very simply and consistently. It uses Attack Command almost every turn, and it has the Trainers it needs when it needs them. N is the strongest Supporter it can use, so it uses that in combination with Random Receiver to have consistent access to strong draw and late-game disruption.
When the deck gets off to a fast enough start, it’s very disruptive thanks to Pokémon Catcher. However, it struggles a lot when it starts slowly or plays against Eelektrik. Devolution Spray keeps the Catchers and other resources coming and also aids in setting up more Empoleon.
Rogue probably isn’t the right word, but I did want to discuss a couple of less-known decks that haven’t been getting much hype. Because people aren’t very familiar with these decks, I’m abandoning the format I’ve used for previous decks and just discussing them in general.
Durant/Sableye is a lot like Durant last format, but with some twists. It tries to open with Sableye, using it in combination with Crushing Hammer to try to prevent the opponent from attacking. This puts them in a very awkward position because, once they run out of Energy to attach, they can either sit there draw-passing or play Supporters to draw Energy, making it easier for Durant to deck them out later on. It’s a lose-lose situation.
The deck is very luck-reliant, however. It has to hit Crushing Hammer flips fairly consistently (and of course draw them early on in the first place). It also has to set up very early every game in order to disrupt the opponent. I wouldn’t call it Tier 1, but it’s very good at sweeping unprepared opponents and if it runs well, it’s very good. Here’s the list I’ve been working with:
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 39
Energy – 13
The card choices should make sense based on the strategy. It’s pretty barebones. 4 Rescue Scarf and 4 Revive are used to be able to swarm Durants the entire game.
pokemon-paradijs.comI was quick to put down Empoleon, but it does work very well with Accelgor. In this deck, it’s mostly used to draw cards; Attack Command is good in a pinch, but Accelgor’s attack is a lot better. The fact that Empoleon has a usable attack makes it a better pair for Accelgor than other cards like Musharna, which are vulnerable to being stalled by Catcher. Accelgor is great for capitalizing on decks that don’t use Switch. It’s impossible to get rid of the Paralyze condition without it, so as long as the Deck and Covers keep coming, you’ll eventually take a Prize.
The deck doesn’t work as well when the opponent does run Switch, though. Especially against Eelektrik, the deck just falls apart. It doesn’t take 1HKOs most of the time, but decks 1HKO it so every Switch is a Prize lost. Furthermore, even Darkrai/Hydreigon can stand up to it by stalling with Eviolite and Max Potion to make the Empoleon player run out of cards to discard with Diving Draw before they can take 6 Prizes. These factors are the main reason why the deck doesn’t have an impressive number of Battle Roads successes.
Even so, considering how many cards have 70 HP and 140 HP in this format, and how two of the most popular decks around don’t run Switch, this deck has a lot of potential, and it’s easily my favorite non-meta play for Regionals. Here’s my list:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 33
Energy – 10
pokemon-paradijs.comThis list is honestly still pretty rough; I haven’t tested as much as I wanted to. Losing a lot to Darkrai/Hydreigon shattered my confidence in it enough that I started to give up on it. The list runs pretty slowly. The lack of Roserade hurts its ability to set up quickly and reliably. Without an Emolga start, it’s also hard to get both Accelgor and Empoleon out. However, against decks without Switch, this usually doesn’t matter, especially if they’re EX-heavy.
One tech option worth mentioning is Hooligans Jim & Cas. It’s obviously not a great card, but with good flips and good luck, it can remove Switches from the opponent’s hand. Once multiple Empoleon are in play, the fact that it replaces your draw Supporter for the turn doesn’t really matter.
Also worth mentioning is Musharna DEX. It doesn’t do a lot for the deck, but against Darkrai/Hydreigon, which usually attempts to stall with Max Potion and Eviolite until the Empoleon player runs out of cards to discard with Diving Draw, it can prevent the player from running out of Diving Draw targets. Of course, it opens up the Catcher stall factor, which is almost as bad as Max Potion stall.
What’s the Play?
kinneas64.deviantart.comThere really isn’t a BDIF in this meta, but if I had to choose, I’d without a doubt go with Darkrai/Hydreigon. If a card or two is devoted to doing so, it can beat any deck in the format. Tool Scrapper lets it beat Garbodor, Terrakion lets it beat mirror and some Eelektrik variants, a heavy count of Dark Patch improves its Rayquaza/Eelektrik matchup, and it’s usually able to beat everything else fairly easily.
It’s not the most powerful deck around, but it is the most versatile. The combination of Darkrai-EX, Shaymin-EX, Mewtwo-EX, and Hydreigon’s attack give the deck a truly unfair number of options each turn, especially considering that it’s very easy to charge any attacker you want at any point with Hydreigon’s Ability. You can do big damage, efficient damage, snipe, and often hit for Weakness as well.
On top of those benefits, Catcher stalling is a non-issue for this deck, it hardly ever runs out of resources, it’s very consistent once it has a Random Receiver in the discard pile, and it’s able to completely negate an opponent’s attack by simply playing a Max Potion. It has more going for it than any other deck around right now, and I can’t stress enough just how great of a deck Darkrai/Hydreigon is.
pokemon-paradijs.comAlthough most Darkrai/Hydreigon lists are tight and similar to each other, they can play games out very differently. Many players will play aggressively with Darkrai, but I’ve found that using Sableye to conserve my resources early-game while pressuring my opponent’s resources and setting myself up is a much more effective strategy.
Whether this is more effective or not, it adds an element of surprise to my games with the deck. My opponents will be preparing for a Night Spear, but instead have to deal with a Catcher + Junk Hunt, putting them in a position that was completely unexpected. And if they’re in a good position to deal with the Catcher + Junk Hunt, I can just as easily go for Night Spear. It doesn’t matter what they prepare for because I can almost always make a move that they aren’t prepared for, even if they’ve tested against a list like mine a lot.
Many players have caught onto this deck’s strength, so expect to be playing against it a lot. You really don’t want to be using a deck that can’t 1HKO every attacker in Darkrai/Hydreigon or Hydreigon itself (or beat it in some other way like with Paralyze or Garbodor), since the deck basically wins if it can avoid being 1HKO’d. This eliminates Empoleon (unless it’s with Accelgor), any Eelektrik deck without Zekrom-EX or one of the Rayquazas, and virtually every Basic rush deck (except Ho-Oh-EX if you think you can win the healing war).
This makes the best plays appear to be most forms of Eelektrik, Garbodor, maybe Garchomp, and of course Darkrai/Hydreigon.
cardshark.comEelektrik and Darkrai/Hydreigon are the mainstream decks. They dominated Battle Roads, they were heavily played, and everybody is expecting them to do well. However, this means that people will also be playing to beat these decks. If you do decide to use one of these decks, don’t expect to get paired against your easiest matchups much, if at all.
Instead, you’ll probably be playing a lot of mirror and probably some Garbodor. If you haven’t tested against Darkrai/Hydreigon and multiple variants of Eelektrik extensively, make sure you do so before Regionals regardless of what deck you’re using. I don’t like putting numbers on testing, but I wouldn’t suggest going in with less than 15 games against each.
I’m not expecting Garchomp to do incredibly well. It just doesn’t match up very well against Darkrai/Hydreigon despite its ability to 1HKO Hydreigon. It can’t deal with a late-game swarm of Darkrais. It does do fairly well against Rayquaza/Eelektrik, but it just doesn’t stand up very well against the rest of the format. It’s by no means the worst deck you could go in with, but it’s not the best either.
Garbodor’s position in the format is a little more interesting. I wrote an article about it awhile ago really hyping it up, and I still believe that it’s a great play. It has exceptionally good matchups against the format. However, it doesn’t like Tool Scrapper, especially in combination with Sableye. My prediction, however, is that most players will focus on beating Darkrai and Eelektrik, which means less Tool Scrapper.
Because of this, Garbodor is a definite dark horse deck right now. If you’re playing Darkrai/Hydreigon, definitely include a Tool Scrapper or two. Thanks to Sableye, even a single copy can win games against Garbodor. Other decks don’t have that luxury, so they’ll just have to deal with a bad Garbodor matchup.
Whether or not this is enough for Garbodor to win some Regionals remains to be seen, but I certainly believe it is, especially considering a lot of Darkrai/Hydreigon players are not using Tool Scrapper.
So, backtracking a little, I still without a doubt believe that Darkrai/Hydreigon is the best play for Regionals. Here are a couple of my personal decklists:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 35
Energy – 11
This list is pretty barebones and consistent, with Tool Scrapper being the techiest card. I covered most of this in the Darkrai/Hydreigon section of the article. Perhaps the one thing that separates my list from most others is the use of only two Darkrai-EX. I’ve found that I mainly use it for its Ability in a lot of matchups since Terrakion is so big, so I can get away without a 3rd. Against Empoleon and any other deck with Terrakion, even dropping it is a risk.
Sure, it’s great against Garchomp and Empoleon, but Mewtwo is even better in those situations. You really only use it against Eelektrik and mirror, but you just don’t need three copies in these matchups; if you can’t keep two Darkrais alive, you’re probably going to lose whether you have a third or not.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
pokemon-paradijs.comThis list aims to balance its matchups rather than be simple and consistent. It focuses very heavily on Tool Scrapper and has Terrakion, so it’s able to beat the mirror and Garbodor, but it does this at the expense of being able to effectively execute its basic strategy of using Sableye, Dark Patch, and Max Potion to win games. This hurts its other matchups, but they were favorable to begin with, so that’s okay as long as you’re expecting to play against a lot of mirror and Garbodor.
However, it’s important to note that with a low count of D Energy and Dark Patch, Rayquaza-EX decks actually have the potential to remove all your Energy from play, much like Mewtwo-EX sometimes did to Klinklang decks in the last format. So it really is a mixed bag. Unfortunately, to run Terrakion, you have to cut out some D Energy.
… and the play is?
So, what deck should you play for Regionals? If you ask most people, they’ll tell you to play what you’re comfortable with. I disagree, however. This is great advice in a format like the one we had for Nationals. You’d basically expect to play against Darkrai and Eelektrik all day, with some Celebi and Vileplume. Darkrai and Eelektrik matched up fairly evenly against each other, so you obviously wanted to play the deck that you were the least likely to misplay with since one misplay could easily be the difference between winning and losing a very even matchup.
However, like most formats we’ve had since HS-on, this format’s matchups are all over the place. When I won Regionals last year, I decided on my deck at about 11 PM the night before the tournament, and solidified my list right before turning it in during registration. I had experience with the deck, but I didn’t have the same level of experience with it that I did with other decks like Gothitelle and Yanmega/Donphan.
I misplayed a lot more than I would have if I played one of those decks, but I still won because I played a deck that had a great matchup against the two most popular decks there. A few minor misplays don’t really matter when your deck has a great matchup against the deck you’re playing against. I believe the same principle applies in this format, although to a lesser extent. Make a meta call and play the deck that beats the most popular decks there.
Don’t play something like Empoleon/Terrakion just because you’re comfortable playing it. Of course, you don’t want to play a deck you have no experience with. Understanding your matchups is important, but knowing them inside and out, forward and backward isn’t as important as it’s perceived to be in this format.
Playing Like a Pro
Here are a few general playing tips.
Play the right Supporter at the right time!
pokemon-paradijs.comI’m sure you’ve heard a million times to conserve your resources. That’s good advice, but it doesn’t always apply. If you’re in the middle of a turn where you absolutely need a specific card to have an effective turn, you might as well play Juniper to try to get that card. It’s worth losing a card or two you might need down the road to bolster your odds of having a card you definitely need when you need it.
Of course, this advice doesn’t always apply; if it’s the first turn of the game and you have a 6-card hand with N and Juniper, you probably want to play that N instead. However, I’ve won many games by aggressively Junipering other Supporters and resources to hit a critical card like Catcher. It’s really a judgement call, but the point is that you shouldn’t get in the mindset of never wanting to play Juniper when you have important cards in your hand.
N might very well be the one card in the format that decides the most games. In order to use it to your advantage, watch your opponent. If they didn’t play a Supporter last turn, they either have a dead hand or an amazing hand, but you only want to N in one of those situations. In order to tell the difference, look at what cards they play during their turn. If it would be advantageous for them to play a card, but they don’t play it and don’t play a Supporter to look for one, they probably have a dead hand. But if they do play that card, it’s harder to tell.
Fortunately, many players will make it fairly obvious how they feel about their hand. Some players will go as far as verbally complaining about it or shaking their head in disappointment. Even pro players often give away small signs, like twitching their mouth, frowning, or slouching in their chair. Whether you want to use these signs to your advantage or not, it’s important to be aware of them and try to avoid giving these signs off yourself. They can affect a lot of decisions on both ends of the field, not just N drops.
It’s also important to be aware of the tempo of the game when deciding whether or not to play N. If you’re up a Prize or two and know you can probably keep that lead, you should start using N’s early on since you don’t want to draw them when they’ll get you less cards than your opponent. On the other hand, if you’re down Prizes early, you don’t want to waste your N’s if you can avoid it. Odds are you’ll need them late-game to come back, so you want to hold on to them.
Nobody really wants to be using these cards, but there aren’t better options. If you have the option between playing N/Juniper or playing one of these cards, try to conserve the Juniper/N unless you need specific cards on that turn. The better Supporter will stay in your hand, so you’ll have that strong Supporter next turn, but you’ll also get a few new cards on your current turn.
Using these cards can also bait out an opponent’s N. If you get three fresh cards but don’t play them, your opponent will be very tempted to play an N next turn to put your Supporter for the turn to waste. If you’re winning the game, this can be huge because every N they play early means they’re playing one less N later.
Take your time!
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I really can’t stress it enough. Many misplays happen because players just don’t think things through. Before playing any card, stop for a couple seconds to think about it. Look at your hand to make sure there’s not another card you should play instead and look at the field to make sure playing the card will actually help.
I’ve lost games by announcing the wrong attack, playing the wrong card from my hand, and even by thinking a Tornadus on my bench was a Regigigas-EX, all at very high-level tournaments. These types of mistakes are very easy to make, but even easier not to make as long as you play carefully.
Remember Order of Operations!
The way you play your turn is almost as important as what you play during your turn. You want to make sure that you keep your options as open as possible, and playing cards in the right order is a great way to do that. The idea behind playing cards in order is to allow yourself to make educated choices when they are necessary.
If you need to decide between attaching to a Zekrom or a Raikou-EX, you want to make sure that you’ve revealed all information you can that’s relevant to the decision before actually making the decision. Here’s a guide on how you should play your turn:
1. Play cards with a random or unreliable outcome but no choice involved.
Examples of these cards are Random Receiver and Cheren. You play these cards first because the cards they give you could modify how you want to play the rest of your turn, but their effects do not require you to make a choice. If you use Random Receiver and hit a Juniper, you’re probably going to want to play your turn very differently than if you hit an N. However, if you use Random Receiver to hit an N, there’s nothing you could have done at any point in your turn to hit a Juniper instead.
2. Play cards with a random or unreliable outcome and a choice involved.
Examples of these cards include Poké Ball (hopefully you never play that though) and Musharna’s Forewarn. The results of these cards’ effects might change how you play the rest of your turn, so you want to play them early. However, you play them after cards like Cheren because what you draw off Cheren might affect what you choose with the effects of these cards.
3. Make any plays that don’t fit in with the other steps.
For example, attach Energy, play a PlusPower, etc.
4. Retreat, play cards with a reliable and guaranteed outcome that require a choice.
Examples of this include Eelektrik’s Dynamotor and Ultra Ball. Dynamotor’s effect is there throughout your entire turn, so you might as well play everything else first since it might change what card you want to Dynamotor to. Similarly, you can Retreat at any point during your turn, so if you’re doing to do it, you might as well play everything else first to make sure you still want to.
Note that this order doesn’t always apply; if you’re going to play Professor Juniper, you obviously want to play Ultra Ball, PlusPower, etc. beforehand so those cards don’t go to waste. Or, if you’re going to play a Super Rod with only 2 L Energy and a Zekrom in your discard pile, you probably want to play Dynamotor first so your L Energy go to the playing field instead of the deck.
If all of this is too complicated for you to remember, just remember this general rule: if a card requires you to make a choice, play any cards that could affect that choice before playing the card itself. Even more simply put, play cards with a random or unreliable effect first.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this, and hopefully you took something useful away from it. Good luck at Regionals!
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