Live by the Hammer, Die by the Hammer

pokemon.comHello again SixPrizes Underground members! I am very excited to be back with my second article for you.

Today I will be sharing how Cities have gone for me thus far, and in the process hopefully give you an inside peek at how I typically prepare and game plan for events.

I’ll cover a few popular decks, one not-so-popular deck, and tips to guide you through a couple tough matchups with Hammertime.

Table of Contents

(Click to be taken directly to that section and press back on your browser to return here.)

Decks Covered in This Article


City #1 – Worcester, MA – Saturday 11/24

The Top 8

1st – Alex Frezza w/ Darkrai, Hydreigon
2nd – Dylan Lefavour w/ Landorus, Bouffalant, Tornadus, Mewtwo
3rd – Derek Distler w/ Landorus, Terrakion, Mewtwo
4th – Matt Addair w/ Darkrai, Hydreigon
5th – Darius Sutherland w/ Hammertime
6th – Azul Griego w/ Landorus, Mewtwo, Bouffalant, Terrakion
7th – David Giguere w/ Sigilyph, Shaymin
8th – John Bristow w/ Tornadus, Mewtwo, Eelektrik

I love the rush of flipping for Crushing Hammer.

For this tournament my deck of choice was Hammertime with Landorus and Terrakion. This tournament was the first City Championship to take place in the New England area, so nobody had any clue what the metagame would be like.

Taking this into account, I chose to play this deck because it had been doing pretty well in testing and seemed to have decent matchups all across the board.

Blastoise/Keldeo was really the only deck I would be afraid to face, but I wasn’t expecting to see much of it because not everybody would have their Keldeo-EXs yet. Also, with talking to people in my area I realized that most didn’t favor the deck anyway.

Here is the list that I ended up playing that day.

Hammertime w/ Landorus & Terrakion

Pokémon – 10

3 Sableye DEX

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Keldeo-EX
1 Landorus-EX
1 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

3 Skyla


4 Dark Patch
4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Ultra Ball
3 Energy Switch

2 Tool Scrapper
1 Energy Search

1 Max Potion
1 Enhanced Hammer
1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

8 D
4 F

I ended up 4-2 after the Swiss rounds to finish in 11th place. The deck played fine, but I felt like it needed a lot of work. I also needed to adjust the way I approached certain matchups because I realized I had been playing them incorrectly.

Both of my losses were to Landorus/Mewtwo decks that made Top 8 (Dylan Lefavour and Azul Griego). Had I playtested this matchup more I would have actually played the games correctly and maybe have made Top 8. I will get into detail about how to play this matchup soon.

I was disappointed that I didn’t Top 8 like I was hoping, but this was only the first Cities.

There was also a small benefit to not making top cut, and that was I got to watch it. I took notes on what was in the Top 8 and wrote down techs that caught my eye. This helped me to gauge what the meta would be like going into the next Cities.

Side Note About the Ride Home

After a good day of playing Pokémon and seeing friends I was expecting to go home and make my deck for the next day’s City. Unfortunately, I was never able to make it home that night. My friend who had driven me to the tournament had his car’s engine light turn on while we were driving.
A slight exaggeration of the circumstances.

At first we thought nothing of it and kept going. Eventually we got to a stop light and all of a sudden the car just shut off. Fear instantly set in because the car would not turn back on. Luckily the driver held his cool and managed to call a tow truck and get us off the road safely.

All of a sudden I went from wanting to make a new deck to win Cities tomorrow to just wanting to get shelter! The tournament was about two hours away and we broke down about half way home. So many thoughts were rushing through my head as I was sitting in the back seat of the tow truck.

How would I get home? Will I even be able to play in Cities tomorrow? How angry are my parents going to be?! Thankfully everything ended up working out in the end because we had broken down in a town where we had a good Pokémon friend!

This friend’s mom was able to pick us up at the tow station and drive us to their house where we were allowed to stay the night. I am so thankful to that family for letting us stay the night, and on top of that drive us all to Cities the next morning.

Incredibly enough the next day’s City was in my home town. The store was close enough to my house that if I had to I could even walk home. Sometimes it’s truly amazing how things work themselves out and how awesome Pokémon friends can be.

Back to Pokémon Strategy

Just as we have to adapt to life, we also have to adapt in Pokémon. I had a good idea of what this next Cities meta would be like thanks to my notes. What I did not have access to however were my cards at home.

Everyone who didn’t make it home that night knew that we had very limited access to cards and would most likely be playing something similar to what we had played before. Normally I could just ask friends online if I could borrow cards and after explaining the situation they would be more than happy to help me.

However, due to it being late, around midnight, I didn’t want to bother anyone. I also thought that I could just adjust my Hammertime to make it work for the next day, or that day since it was past midnight.

I took a look at what had done well and what was giving me issues the previous tournament. One of the biggest problems I had was trying to fight Mewtwo EX.

Mewtwo seemed to be giving me trouble because the Mewtwo player usually only has to dedicate one Double Colorless Energy and they can do 80 to my attacking Darkrai. The next turn they could just attach Energy and KO my Darkrai EX.

It was much easier for Eelektrik decks or even Landorus/Mewtwo decks to set up a Mewtwo with two Energy than it was for me to set up a Darkrai EX. Also my one of Mewtwo EX only seemed to hurt me because they would just KO it with another one of their Mewtwo EX.

Ash is not very effective…

The most prominent thought that popped into my head while pondering this conundrum was this, “The best thing to KO a Mewtwo is with your own Mewtwo!” The second thing that came to mind was getting rid of their Double Colorless Energy so I could slow them down.

Hydreigon/Darkari had also just won the day before and it had played a high count of Prism and Blend Energy. This lead me to the conclusion that I should be playing more Enhanced Hammers and Mewtwo EX.

After a couple hours of testing and a lot of borrowed cards I came up with a list I was happy with. It had been a long day and I wasn’t going to be able to get much sleep, but I was still pumped to play more Pokémon! Here is the list that I played.

Hammertime w/ Mewtwo

Pokémon – 9

3 Sableye DEX

3 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca

3 Skyla


4 Dark Patch
4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Energy Switch
3 Ultra Ball

2 Eviolite

2 Enhanced Hammer
1 Energy Search
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Computer Search

Energy – 11

8 D
3 Double Colorless

I was able to include everything that I wanted, and with the little testing I did the night before it seemed to run smoothly. Having the ability to play down a Mewtwo, attach a Double Colorless, and X Ball is incredibly strong right now.

This means you can KO an opposing Mewtwo EX with 3 Energy, prevent a Blastoise/Keldeo deck from going all in, and even help fight Darkrai at the cost of very little resources being used.

Also in rare cases you have the ability to win just by having a Mewtwo with a DCE on it and attaching another DCE and Energy Switching to 1-shot an EX and sweep the game out of nowhere. This of course is one of those high-risk, high-reward strategies.

Starting with Mewtwo can actually be incredibly good for this deck in certain matchups. Against Hydreigon/Darkrai if you go first and are able to attach a DCE this can be very threatening. This means that on your next turn an Energy attachment will enable Mewtwo to start Knocking Out Dragon Deinos.

The Mewtwo counter of choice for Hydreigon/Darkrai was a mix of Cresselia-EX and Sigilyph the day before. That meant I was pretty confident I could attack with Mewtwo without fear of it being Knocked Out early on the game.

There were many games against Hydreigon/Darkrai where I eliminated the possibility of Hydreigon by Knocking Out Deinos, or even their Hydreigon itself, then started to make huge Mewtwos to win.

Double Colorless Energy in this deck has subtle benefits that you might not think of. It lets you power up Keldeo-EX’s Secret Sword attack very easily. Most people think Keldeo-EX is only in here only to prevent Catcher stalling or to break Paralysis locks.

That is true, however I also use it as an attacker. Landorus-EX can be difficult to deal with at times and Keldeo-EX can help with that. Even though Secret Sword does more damage based on the amount of W Energy attached it still has a base damage of 50.

If you times this by two due to Landorus’s Weakness to Water, for just a D Energy and a DCE you are hitting Landorus for 100 damage. Being able to 2-shot a Landorus-EX without having to use a Darkrai can prove to be very helpful. I know it was for me!

Now let’s get to the actual tournament. Here is what the Top 8 looked like.

City #2 – Londonderry, NH – Sunday 11/25

The Top 8

1st – Raymond Cipoletti w/ Hammertime, Mewtwo
2nd – Azul Griego w/ Landorus, Mewtwo, Bouffalant, Terrakion
3rd – Alex Frezza w/ Darkrai, Hydreigon
4th – Steven Moser w/ Rayquaza, Eelektrik
5th – Dylan Lefavour w/ Darkrai, Hydreigon
6th – Andrew Kwiatkowski w/ Blastoise, Keldeo
7th – Nathaniel Lawson w/ Garbodor, Landorus
8th – Matt Addair w/ Darkrai, Hydreigon

After all the craziness from the day before I was able to come back and win this tournament! I finished Swiss 4-2 making into the top cut in 6th seed I believe. This was one of the most difficult Cities I had ever won, so I was really excited.

My top 8 opponent was Dylan Lefavour, top 4 was Alex Frezza, and I faced Azul in the finals. Every single match came down to the wire, with none of my wins being easy. The metagame was exactly how I thought it would be with mostly Landorus/Mewtwo decks and Hydreigon everywhere.

There were some Blastoise/Keldeo decks and Eelektrik decks in the room as well, but they were not as prominent as the day before.

How to Beat Hydreigon/Darkrai with Hammertime

Throughout the day I had concocted a new strategy to defeat Hydreigon/Darkrai with my deck. It proved to work and helped me win some of my top cut matches. In Swiss, one of my losses was to Dylan Lefavour who played the deck.

We had a fairly long game and I was able to get a good look at exactly what was in his list by searching his discard pile throughout the game and paying attention to what was being played. I came to the conclusion that he most likely ran only two Sableye, the same as all the other Hydreigon/Darkrai decks there.

They also didn’t run Super Rod, or at least I never saw it. Finally, I found out that they only played 3 Dark Patch.

So what am I getting at with all this? Well, my new strategy to defeat this monster was to run them out of Energy! How you go about doing this can be tricky though. First you have to take out their Sableye so they can’t Junk Hunt back Dark Patch. From there you just Hammer all their Energy.

This was actually easier than it sounds because I played two Enhanced Hammers to negate any Special Energy attachments. Half of their Energies were a mix of Prism and Blend. Having the luxury to not have to flip to discard half their Energy made this strategy much more viable.

If you are in an area where your metagame is full of Special Energy and you are playing Hammertime, I strongly recommend two Enhanced Hammer.

There would be games where I would Catcher up the second Sableye my opponent had benched and Knock it Out just so I could put this plan into action.

After Knocking Out the second Sableye, if they didn’t have a massive amount of Energy on board, I would retreat back into my own Sableye and start Junk Hunting for Hammers.

If Hydreigon/Darkrai decks manage to get out a Hydreigon then trying to Knock Out their Pokémon is almost futile. They will always win the grind of Darkrai wars because of Max Potion.

Sometimes you need to try new strategies to win a game.

It may seem a bit awkward to just randomly start Junk Hunting in the middle of the game, but I would rather do that than try to fight big Pokémon-EX that just get healed.

The biggest issue with this strategy is that you need to hit heads on Crushing Hammers in order to get rid of the D Energy. Most people don’t like to rely on flips, but I feel like this gave me the best chance to win in certain situations. After all, in order to win a tournament sometimes you need to get a bit lucky.

The more you playtest the Hydreigon/Darkrai matchup, the better you get against it. It will help you know whether you can afford to try and Hammer away at their Energy, or when you need to take a chance and go on the offensive. It’s also good to try out different strategies and see which one has the most positive results for you.

How to Beat Landorus/Mewtwo with Hammertime

Now I want to discuss how to play one of the seemingly more difficult matches for Hammertime, the Landorus/Mewtwo decks. The strategy of running them out of Energy stands true in this matchup and is one of the best ways to win it.

This will require some patience and a lot of Junk Hunting. Landorus decks typically have no Energy acceleration, so there are rarely any surprises that can be thrown at you.

In my experience with playing against this deck, trying to fight them by Knocking Out their Pokémon is one of the worst ideas you can do. The reason why I felt like I lost to this matchup with Hammers the day before is because I was constantly thinking I could just Knock Out Landorus with my turn two Darkrai. I was very wrong!

All that ended up happening was my opponent would play some form of healing and then they would keep attacking. Eventually I would lose that fight. In many scenarios what would happen is that after I used all my Crushing Hammers all they needed to do to defeat me was get a Landorus with three Energy on it.

Through a combination of Gold Potion, regular Potion, and Energy Switch, it was never that difficult. Once a Landorus has three Energy on it and you can no longer Hammer, you are basically done for. One PlusPower and a Land’s Judgment and you can say bye to your Darkrai.

If you are fortunate enough to have to use a second Darkrai they can just Land’s Judgment discarding their F Energy and there goes your hopes of winning.

In this matchup patience is key. Just sit there with your Eviolited Sableye and Junk Hunt your Crushing Hammers back. Hopefully you will hit a few heads and be able to run them out of Energy.

Landorus decks will do everything in their power to KO Sableye, which usually means a combination of PlusPowers, Tool Scrappers, Mewtwo, Tornadus, and Double Colorless Energy. Stand strong when this happens. Keep getting rid of their Energy and Junk Hunting your Hammers back.

It is very hard for them to deal with 3 Sableye, especially if they are Eviolited. At some points if you are lucky enough to hit heads with the first Hammer flip, you can Junk hunt back an Eviolite or something else that useful.

I won my finals matches against Azul by running him out of Energy. Eventually he got to the point where he was draw passing because he couldn’t draw into the few Energy he had left in deck and had no Energy on board.

Once you get to this point that is where you actually start attacking because you still have to take your Prizes to win. All of my games against Landorus either went to time or came very close to time because I was just Hammering the whole match!

The one thing that can disrupt your strategy of Hammering is getting hit by a bad N. Luckily you will always draw six cards and hopefully be able to hit Hammers, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.

If I were to play this deck again I would include a Max Potion or regular Potion to help heal Sableyes, making them harder to KO.

Moving on to Week 2

After the first weekend of Cities I was feeling pretty good! I had managed to win one and despite some minor issues still had a great weekend with my Pokémon friends.
I caught Sam Chen. Yes!

For the second weekend my good friend Sam Chen wanted to come to New England and play. He didn’t really have any Cities close to him and probably wanted to hang out with me because I mean, who doesn’t?

This weekend’s Cities were going to be much smaller than any of the other Cities in my area. This is because there was a cap at both stores this weekend. There is also an ongoing rule in place that if a Junior or Senior shows up after the cap is filled, they will kick out Masters to fit them in.

This meant that there would be potentially even less Masters. I knew that all the best players in New England would be sure to get there very early and make sure they were playing in the tournament.

Due to this irregularity, Sam and I decided to approach these Cities differently than the others and metagame against certain people. In order to win these tournament we knew we would have to face Alex Frezza and Dylan Lefavour, arguably the best players in New England at the moment.

Alex had been doing consistently well with Hydreigon/Darkrai, so we put him on that for the next tournament. Dylan on the other hand had switched decks, and is usually more of a mystery anyway.

We also figured the field would be mostly just Hydreigon/Darkrai and Landorus decks along with possibly some Hammertime now, since I had won with it the week before.

Taking all of this into consideration Sam and I had come up with a somewhat odd deck choice to counter the metagame. That deck was Empoleon/Accelgor.

Empoleon/Accelgor has an incredibly good matchup versus most Darkrai decks because they typically only play one Keldeo-EX or one way to get out of Paralysis lock. At heart the deck is also still an Empoleon deck, so Landorus wasn’t a big deal at all and could still be easily dealt with.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the cards to build this deck and couldn’t manage to get them in time, so I played the Hammertime deck I had won with the week before. Luckily Sam came prepared and was able to build the deck and play it.

I don’t want to give an exact list out because it’s not necessarily mine to give. However, I can give you a sample list that will still give you the general play style of the deck.


Pokémon – 20

4 Piplup DEX
1 Prinplup DEX
4 Empoleon DEX
3 Shelmet NVI
3 Accelgor DEX
3 Emolga DRX
2 Mew-EX

Trainers – 30

3 Professor Juniper
3 N
3 Cheren

2 Bianca
2 Skyla


4 Rare Candy
3 Switch
3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Pokémon Communication
2 Level Ball
2 Super Rod

Energy – 10

6 W

4 Double Colorless

With the amount of testing I have done with this deck I can say it is not easy to play. Sam even said himself he might not play it again after this weekend because it takes a lot of focus.

This deck is all about resource management. If you discard the wrong card to Diving Draw, bench the wrong thing at the wrong time, or attach Energy incorrectly you can lose right there. With your first search of the game you need to figure out what is Prized so you can have a better idea of what you can afford to discard to Diving Draw.

The main goal of this deck is to thin your deck out as quickly as possible by spamming Empoleon on the board and using a lot of Diving Draws. The hard part about the deck is that you have to Diving Draw to thin your deck out, but you also can’t Diving Draw away something you might need in the future.

For example if you Diving Draw 2 Catchers and your third one is Prized and your opponent plays a Keldeo on you, the game is pretty much over. The way you deal with a singleton Keldeo-EX is by Catchering it up then Deck and Covering to keep the lock going.

Eventually you get to a point in the game with this deck where you have a capability to draw your whole deck in any given turn. This way you can have a 100% chance of being able to Deck and Cover.

Most games against Darkrai will end with you having 2 cards in your deck. Those cards will be Mew-EX and Double Colorless Energy. Your hand will have to consist of cards that you may potentially need to win the game along with Diving Draw fodder to keep the cycle going.

The cards in your hand when you’re down to a couple cards left in your deck are incredibly important. You will probably need to hold on to a Switch or two so you don’t get Catcher stalled, a Catcher just in case you need it, or really any card can become important. That is why you need to playtest this beast before bringing it to a tournament.

With no testing you can still be successful, however to play this deck correctly you will need testing. Even I can’t play this deck perfectly yet! The biggest reason why this deck takes a lot of practice is because of time.

pokemon-paradijs.comYou can’t just sit there trying to figure out exactly what is Prized for 20 minutes. You are on a clock and only have a specific amount of time to complete each action. If you take too long to make a move you could be considered to be stalling. Nobody wants to be pinned as somebody who stalls.

One huge thing I want to warn everybody who is considering picking up this deck is that you should not touch it if you have a good amount of Blastoise/Keldeo in your area, or any deck with double Keldeo!

Our metagame had almost no decks playing two Keldeo at the time. Any deck with two Keldeo is almost impossible to deal with. You can’t rely on the Paralysis lock to help you at all against Blastoise/Keldeo.

They also have the ability to easily get five Energies on a Keldeo and Knock Out your Empolen. Simply, it’s a bad matchup.

Now let’s get to the actual tournament recap! Here is Top 4 for the first tournament of the second weekend of Cities in New England.

City #3 – Cambridge, MA – Saturday 12/1

The Top 4

1st – Sam Chen w/ Empoleon, Accelgor
2nd – Jacob Mechaber w/ Ho-Oh, Mewtwo, Tornadus, Terrakion, Bouffalant
3rd – David Clarke w/ Landorus variant
4th – Dylan Lefavour w/ Landorus, Tornadus, Mewtwo, Bouffalant

Luckily all had gone according to plan for Sam. During the Swiss rounds he mostly faced Darkrai variants and Landorus variants. His top 4 match was against a Landorus variant, which went well. The finals against the only Ho-Oh deck in the room was actually close.
Opponent’s expressions when facing Empoleon/Accelgor.

One problem this deck can have is getting rushed by a turn 1 Tornadus deck that plays a high number of Switches. Luckily his opponent was very confused and had never seen this deck before, and ended up actually using Ho-Oh both games. That is exactly what you don’t want to do because Ho-Oh is basically a two free Prizes for Empoleon.

Unfortunately for me, one of those Darkrai players Sam defeated was none other than yours truly. My second loss came against Hydreigon/Darkrai where I drew passed and didn’t draw out of it until it was too late.

Interestingly enough I wasn’t upset at all. I was actually excited that Sam had won since he traveled 6 hours in a car to get here. I would have hated to see him go home empty-handed without a Cities trophy.

Planning for the Next Day

Now that Sam had his trophy I knew what I was going to do to try to win the next day. This tournament was going to be even smaller than the last due to a 32 person cap for all divisions. I was also aware that Dylan and Alex were going to a different City Championship than we were.

Tech Sam. Irony or fate?

This meant that my biggest competition was going to be Sam!

We got home late that night and Sam was exhausted and said he was playing the same deck tomorrow because he was too tired to make a new one. This gave me the opportunity to metagame against him with perfect information.

I figured that the meta wouldn’t change much from Sam’s win because the tournament was so small and most of the people there were not going to be where we were going the next day.

My thought process was that my Hammertime with Mewtwo is still doing fine against the current meta. All I needed to do was be able to adjust it to beat Sam. What beats Empoleon/Accelgor? DOUBLE KELDEO EX!

It may seem odd to play two Keldeo in Hammertime, but when my main focus is beating Sam it makes perfect sense. He can’t beat that because he doesn’t have enough Pokémon Catcher to Knock Out both Keldeo. The only way I can lose is if I get a really bad start or have a Keldeo Prized.
Giving new meaning to “Secret” Sword.

The tricky part about having Sam, or a friend like that, or even someone staying over your house, is that you have to hide it somehow. You can’t let them react to you trying to counter them otherwise it defeats the purpose.

When we were doing our decklists at my house I printed out the same list I played the day before and brought it to the tournament. Right before we were supposed to hand in our lists I went down to one Enhanced Hammer and changed Keldeo-EX from one to two.

I had already build my deck with two Keldeo the night before so I never had to look like I was changing my deck last minute.

This all seems pretty sneaky to do, but I didn’t want to go into the tournament with no chance of winning. With the way my deck was before there was no way I could beat Sam, which I would have to do if I wanted to win. Honestly, he said he was surprised I didn’t tech for him on Saturday.

Dylan Lefavour and I are good friends, but also have a little rivalry between us and do this as well. Last year during Cities we would drive there in the same car and tech for each other right before the tournament started.

City #4 – Sommerville, MA – Sunday 12/2

The Top 4

1st – Azul Griego w/ Landorus, Mewtwo, Terrakion
2nd – Sam Chen w/ Empoleon Accelgor
3rd – Raymond Cipoletti w/ Hammertime, Mewtwo
4th – ??? w/ Landorus Garchomp

Unfortunately I didn’t come home with a trophy like I was hoping to. I ended up losing to Azul in top 4. That was definitely Azul’s day as he appeared to come down with a case of the run hots.
I thought I was undonkable!

He defeated Sam in the finals by donking an Emolga turn one with Mewtwo, Double Colorless, and triple PlusPower! Sam proceeded to win game two and draw-pass game three, losing without playing a Supporter.

I did manage to accomplish my goal of defeating Sam however, as I was his only loss during Swiss. The double Keldeo-EX strategy worked exactly how it was supposed to. Sam even gave a little grin when he saw my second Keldeo drop down saying he was waiting for something like that.

I told him I had felt a little bad about being so sneaky, but he said I shouldn’t. He said he would have done the same thing to me. I wasn’t exactly sure if I should have taken that as a compliment or not, but either way there were no hard feelings or anything.

All in all I was still happy with a third place finish bringing me up to 80 Points from Cities with 7 more left to go in New England. I also got to hang out with Sam Chen whom I rarely see and all my Pokémon friends from this area. Mark down another great weekend of what the judges in my area would call “Poké-fun-ness.”

Moving on to Week 3

Come Friday, the day before the next weekends Cities, I realized I was getting pretty bored of Hammertime. Last year I switched decks almost every week and saw more success, so I figured I should try something new.

That something new ended up being a Ho-Oh variant I had been testing with. It was so fun to play and I was dying to try it out at Cities. Here is the list.


Pokémon – 10

3 Mewtwo-EX NXD

2 Ho-Oh-EX
2 Terrakion NVI
2 Bouffalant DRX

1 Sigilyph DRX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Bianca
2 Skyla


4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Energy Switch

4 Ultra Ball
4 Switch

2 Tool Scrapper
2 PlusPower
1 Energy Search
1 Computer Search

Energy – 14

4 Double Colorless
4 F
2 P
1 R
1 W
1 G
1 L

One of the biggest things that gave me the confidence to pull the trigger and actually play this Ho-Oh list was that I had read Jay Hornung’s article the night before.

Our lists were almost identical and he had success with the deck, so I thought I would give it a chance. Unfortunately, that was not my greatest decision.

City #5 – Nashua, NH – Saturday 12/8

The Top 4

1st – Alex Frezza w/ Hydreigon Darkrai
2nd – Steven Moser w/ Rayquaza Elektric
3rd – Dylan Lefavour w/ Landorus, Tornadus, Mewtwo, Bouffalant, Aspertia City Gym
4th – Azul Griego w/ Landorus, Mewtwo, Terrakion

This tournament was pretty disappointing because I finished 3-2 and felt like I did horribly. The Hydreigon/Darkrai decks had changed since the week before and now had double Keldeo in them with more Prism Energy. This was very difficult for this Ho-Oh deck to deal with.

One of the ways I was planning on beating Hydreigon was that I could Retaliate Darkrai for a Knock Out and somehow swing the game in my favor. What ended up happening was that when I played against Alex Frezza he was smart enough to never bench a Darkrai EX.

He only attacked with his Keldeo-EX with two Prism Energy on it. He was able to get Hydreigon into play as well, so he could heal his Keldeo and I was never able to Catcher stall due to Rush In.

I simply got destroyed. I was never even able to utilize Ho-Oh because had I ever done that Keldeo-EX would have 1-shot it. My other loss was to getting run over by turn two Darkrai with a no Supporter opening hand.

This was Alex Frezza’s third Cities win with Hydreigon/Darkrai. Clearly this deck is very good and it is discussed in detail in Colin Moll’s recent article.

However, I believe that the New England version of the deck is unique compared to most other versions of the deck.

I have played against it many times and I think I have a pretty decent idea of what a good list for the deck is. Dylan Lefavour posted about the New England area’s Hydreigon/Darkrai and his list seems accurate for what it looked like during the first few Cities.

Now it has evolved even more and gotten even better. Here is an updated version of New England Hydreigon/Darkrai.

New England Hydreigon/Darkrai

Pokémon – 16

3 Deino DRX 93
3 Hydreigon DRX 97
3 Darkrai-EX DEX

2 Keldeo-EX

2 Sableye DEX
1 Sigilyph DRX
1 Terrakion NVI
1 Virizion NVI

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla

2 Bianca


4 Rare Candy
3 Ultra Ball
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Dark Patch
3 Max Potion

1 Level Ball
1 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

7 D
3 Prism
2 Blend GRPD

I don’t want to go into detail about this deck because Colin already covered the deck. However, I feel this list is unique compared to Hydreigon lists from other areas. This is a very strong contender at Cities and you should definitely keep it in mind for your next Cities.

This deck has taken New England by storm and is public enemy number one. If you’re planning on attending any City Championships in the New England area be sure your deck can deal with the Prism Energy version of Hydreigon/Darkrai because you will be seeing a ton of it.

After a disappointing day of failing with Ho-Oh my mood was enlightened by the fact that I was able to find a ride to the next day’s City. The itinerary also included sleeping over Dylan Lefavour’s house.

Hanging with Dylan is always a good time and he is also a very good play testing partner.

We came to the conclusion that in order to win a Cities we had to be able to take down Hydreigon/Darkrai without much trouble.

We came up with a deck that did just that in our testing and we each played nearly the exact same list the next day. Of course there were some last minute changes to help tech against each other, but we had nearly identical lists when we played in top cut.

Unfortunately I feel like it would be unfair of me to give away the decklist because Dylan may still use it next weekend or at another time. If I had worked on the deck all on my own and not with Dylan I would be more than happy to spoil the list.

Dylan has recently written for SixPrizes, so if he ends up writing again and chooses he wants to give out the list in the future, then that is when that will happen. The one thing I can tell you is that it was a Hammertime variant.

Luckily for me and Dylan the effort we put into building and testing our new deck paid off. Here is the Top 4 for that City.

City #6 – Hadley, MA – Sunday 12/9

The Top 4

1st – Dylan Lefavour w/ Hammertime
2nd – David Clarke w/ Landorus, Terrakion, Mewtwo, Tornadus, Aspertia
3rd – John Chimento (Johnny Blaze) w/ Landorus, Sigilyph, craziness
4th – Raymond Cipoletti w/ Hammertime

I honestly am not sure what John played. Every time I looked over something new was going on. When I watched him the first time he had turn one Landorus. The next time I looked over he was attacking with Sigilyph! He also wasn’t playing Ho-Oh. He usually plays cool semi-wacky decks that somehow do very well.
Bracing for the mirror match.

This tournament had been a success in my opinion. I had been able to call the meta correctly again and play the right deck. My only loss was to Dylan in the 59 card mirror. It was one of the greatest top cut matches I have had with him since… a couple weeks before!

The match went to time of game three and we went past the three turns tied at 2-2 in Prizes. I ended up decking out, but it was incredibly close. I have played Dylan so many times in top cut, even in the finals of States, and every single time has been a nail-biter on both ends.


I hope that you found the strategy discussed in this article helpful and informative, and please remember to ask if you have any questions for me in the forums.

Thanks for reading!

– Raymond Cipoletti

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.

Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!

Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in. Legacy discussion: ?