The Forest of Darkrai EX

BulbapediaHappy Holidays SixPrizes! I am in a most cheerful mood today and it is my hope that you are as well. Most of my holiday shopping has been completed, most of my festive plans have been finalized and most of my good friends will be in town for the holidays. It is looking like my 2012 will be coming to a very wonderful close.

It took me a while to decide on a topic for today’s article. The current metagame is very vibrant. It has been changing from weekend to weekend and it appears to vary quite drastically between regions. The metagame in St. Louis has primarily consisted of Evolution decks.

We have lots of Blastoise, Klinklang, Hydreigon, and RayEels but almost no Ho-Oh EX or Landorus-EX variants. However, I suspect things will look very different for the City Championships this weekend and perhaps the ones following.

I participated in two City Championships this past weekend. I got fourth on Saturday with Hydreigon (you can read that report here) and first on Sunday with Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX (you can read that report over here).

It was a successful weekend for me and I am convinced (more than ever) that Darkrai EX is the best card in the format (alright, aside from Pokémon Catcher). He provides the backbone for so many powerful decks right now.

pokemon.theirstar.comIf you have been reading my UG articles for a while, then you may know that I tend to rank decks. I would like to do that in this article as well, but the tournament environment is so dynamic right now that I am not sure any ordering would be very helpful for anyone.

Obviously, by revealed preference, I thought Hydreigon/Darkrai EX was the best deck for Saturday and Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX for Sunday. But this is not necessarily very meaningful for the future – especially in the kind of format we have right now.

When I played in Indianapolis a few weeks ago, there was an incredible amount of Landorus-EX variants. He was everywhere! However, he has had very little representation in St. Louis. What would have been good in Indianapolis would probably not be very good in St. Louis (and vice versa).

Even though our format is very diverse and complicated right now, it is likely that Darkrai EX is part of the strongest deck regardless of what metagame you may be considering. Thus, it behooves us to carefully consider Darkrai EX and all his guises when it comes to deck selection.

Winter Regionals are quickly approaching and I very much doubt anyone would take bets on what will be victorious. I would probably be open to betting that Darkrai EX will be in at least one of the decks that wins a Regionals. I could not tell you which variant it would be, though.

BulbapediaI remember a professor telling me when I was an undergrad that it is often important to take a step back and focus on the forest and not the trees. When we are studying for a final or preparing for some other major life event, we can sometimes focus too much on the little details.

In fact, we can focus so much that we forget the big picture. I would like to take a step back in this article and look over the forest of Darkrai EX.

Instead of ranking all the variants, I am going to be talking about the costs and benefits of running each one, what type of metagame the deck would thrive/fail in, and how to improve upon the decks shortcomings. I will also give some other general thoughts on the deck. Here is a framework for what is to come.

Table of Contents

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  1. Pure Darkrai EX
  2. Darkrai EX/Other, Big Basic
    1. Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX
    2. Darkrai EX/Terrakion
    3. Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX
    4. Darkrai EX/Keldeo EX
    5. Darkrai EX/Landorus EX
  3. Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
  4. Klinklang
  5. Darkrai EX/Garbodor

Let us begin!

I. Pure Darkrai EX

pokemon-paradijs.comPure Darkrai EX, or Speed Darkrai EX, seems to be a natural place to start for the type of analysis I am performing in this article. There are no frills to this deck. The point is to get Darkrai EX attacking turn one or two.

Each other Darkrai EX variant is really just a modification of this deck. The other variants take out the consistency, speed cards, and add other tricks.

Are the modifications made by other variants worth it? Does combining another Big Basic or Evolution with Darkrai EX improve upon the already potent Pokémon? Let us look at this cost-benefit analysis and see how things stack up.

You should note that many important things will be left out of these analyses because they either show up in all variants or they are too obvious. For example, each Darkrai EX variant will have the acceleration provided by Dark Patch… so there is no point in putting a tidbit about Dark Patch under each Benefit section. That would be too redundant.

Another example would be that Night Spear is particularly strong against Eelektrik variants since you can get a “free” Knock Out on an Eelektrik after using three Night Spears. These are all things that each Darkrai EX variant enjoys so they provide little to know help when trying to compare variants.

As implied, these benefits and costs will be relative to the other Darkrai EX variants – not all the decks available to us right now.

Benefits of Pure Darkrai EX

  • Has the highest probability of a Turn 1 or 2 Night Spear amongst all Darkrai EX variants.
  • Can easily fit in Hammers without sacrificing much consistency. The deck only plays 6-8 Pokémon (some combination of Darkrai EX and Sableye), so there is a lot of room for Trainers.

Costs of Pure Darkrai EX

  • This variant sacrifices tricks and techs for the sake of speed and consistency. The object of the deck is to quickly overwhelm the opponent. You either want to prevent your opponent from getting set up by Knocking Out all their evolving Basics or start the EX trade one to three turns before they are able to start attacking. If the deck fails to use Night Spear by turn two, the path to victory may be a bit bumpy.
  • Without any other attackers, this variant can have major issues with Fighting variants. If your opponent is running Fighting Pokémon and they are able to get off some attacks, you will be taking double the damage.
  • Without any other strong attackers, Sigilyph DRX can pose problems for this variant.

BulbapediaSince this deck is so simple and straightforward, that is all there really is when it comes to costs and benefits. Other than against something like Quad Sigilyph, I do not think a deck featuring Sigilyph would be too problematic for this variant. You can easily Catcher around the Sigilyph and probably be up on Prizes by the time the round has ended.

Furthermore, Sableye with Dark Claw can actually do quite a bit of damage to Sigilyph – especially if you Hammered away all the Sigilyph’s Energy. So, the Sigilyph problem really is not that big of a deal in my opinion. However, you should still consider it.

If you are interested in playing this variant for Regionals, it would be wise to playtest against decks featuring Sigilyph in order to fully develop a winning strategy.

The primary problem I see with this deck its inability to really handle Fighting variants. A high count of Crushing and Enhanced Hammer can be used to improve this matchup. However, if you add five to six Hammers, you are reducing consistency and your speed. You are basically trading your distinct advantage over non-Fighting variants for an improved Fighting matchup.

Is that trade worth it? I do not think so, particularly because the inclusion of Hammers will not guarantee a win over Fighting decks. In fact, it will probably only swing the matchup from strictly unfavorable to generally unfavorable. A win for Pure Darkrai EX is still not probable.

If your metagame consists of absolutely no Fighting variants (or very few), I would definitely recommend Pure Darkrai EX. You would have the most consistent deck in the tournament with no bad matchups. What more could you possibly ask for?

However, Fighting is a very popular type right now (and for good reason). I very much doubt you will find yourself in a metagame completely deprived of our brown friends – particularly for Regionals.

There might be some City Championship events that have little to no Fighting presence, however. If you are able to accurately predict a Fighting-less metagame, then you could easily win with Pure Darkrai EX.

An Aside on Hammers

Before I move on to the next variant, I would like to have a short discussion on Hammers. There is a very strong argument for including Hammers in Darkrai EX variants because of the obvious Junk Hunt combo. Reusing Hammers can be a very effective strategy.

Since all Darkrai EX variants run Sableye, all Darkrai EX variants can take advantage of this combo. But should they?

The Hydreigon and Klinklang decks probably should not take advantage of this combo simply because they lack the room for Hammers. However, Hammers might be a strong addition in the other variants because they can probably be fit into them.

My opinion on Crushing Hammer has diminished after playing a Hammers variant on Sunday. I found very little reason to reuse Crushing Hammer throughout the day – except against Klinklang. Even against Klinklang, Crushing Hammer was not that game breaking because Enhanced Hammer was usually much better.

Although my tournament on Sunday was a bit odd (I played a lot of Blastoise), I do not think there are really that many great opportunities for Crushing Hammer. They could obviously be useful at removing R Energy against RayEels or preventing manual attachment decks (really only Fighting variants right now) from accumulating many Energy on the board, but these are really the only cases where I see a significant use for Crushing Hammer.

I have a very different opinion on Enhanced Hammer right now, however. Any deck that can easily fit one or two Enhanced Hammer right now probably should. Every deck aside from RayEels and Blastoise variants play and heavily rely upon special Energy.

Klinklang absolutely dies to Enhanced Hammer, Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX variants rely very heavily upon Double Colorless Energy and Hydreigon can also have issues when their Blend/Prism Energies are removed.

If your metagame has a lot of RayEels or Fighting, then Crushing Hammers might be good. But if your metagame has a lot of Fighting, Darkrai EX variants may not be the best choice. Otherwise, Crushing Hammer just does not seem worth it to me right now.

Consistency adding cards or other “trick” cards (Pokémon Catcher, Max Potion, Energy Switch, Dark Patch, etc.) seem far more useful than the flippy Item.

If you are drastically in love with Hammers, Raymond’s most recent article will probably be right up your alley.

If you are wondering whether you should put Crushing Hammer in your Darkrai EX list, my advice would be no unless you have a lot of RayEels or Fighting in your metagame. And if your metagame has a lot of Fighting, you should probably not be playing Darkrai EX.

II. Darkrai EX/Other, Big Basic

Since his release, Darkrai EX has been combined with a lot of other Pokémon. The list used to just include Tornadus EX, Terrakion NVI, Mewtwo EX; but now we have Landorus-EX and Keldeo-EX. Five different partners for Darkrai EX and each does something very different (there is definitely some overlap between Terrakion and Landorus-EX, however).

In moving from Pure Darkrai EX to these variants, we should be able to observe a fundamental shift in the decks. In order to play these additional Pokémon and Energy cards, we have to trade some consistency and early game speed. The goal of these new additions is to give a player more options.

You are now able to work with a different weakness, a different type, and a different attack. Clearly all five of these Pokémon have a lot going for them, so these additional weaknesses/types/attacks are probably going to also have a lot going for them.

A. Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX

BulbapediaIf I remember correctly, this was the original Darkrai EX variant that most people were testing upon release of Darkrai EX last Spring.

There is clearly a lot of synergy between the two EXs: Tornadus EX resists Darkrai EX’s weakness, Power Blast works well in conjunction with Dark Patch, Darkrai EX is generally a pretty strong attacker against Eelektrik variants (which are tough for Tornadus EX), etc.

After the format began to mature, people began to drop Tornadus EX in favor of the other options – Terrakion and Mewtwo EX. Now that we have some additional tools for Tornadus EX (Aspertia City Gym, Sklya, etc.), is Tornadus EX worth it?

Benefits of Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX

  • Tornadus EX is particularly strong against Fighting variants. With Eviolite, he can withstand multiple hits from Fighting attackers before getting Knocked Out.
  • Blow Through is a very powerful attack against decks that run 60 HP Basics (Deinos, Squirtles). Tornadus EX can easily keep Stage 2s from hitting the field by Knocking Out their pre-evolutionary forms.
  • Dark Patch and Power Blast actually have some synergy.

Costs of Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX

  • In order to take full advantage of Tornadus EX, a deck needs to fit in Stadium cards. These can clump up a deck and decrease consistency.
  • Including Double Colorless Energy in a deck makes the deck inherently weak to Enhanced Hammer.
  • There are no legitimate attacking options against Sigilyph.
  • You must play non D Energy to use Tornadus EX (Tornadus EX is not a legitimate option without Double Colorless Energy).

pokemon-paradijs.comI think Tornadus EX is a very tempting card. He seems very strong in theory but, from what I have observed, fails to deliver in actual games. After the second or third turn of the game, Blow Through becomes an extremely weak attacking option. When compared to Night Spear, Power Blast is generally pretty inferior.

Unless you are paired against a Fighting deck, Tornadus EX will likely be of no use to you after the second or third turn of the game. Darkrai EX just completely overshadows the cloudy Pokémon.

The following question also arises: how likely are you to get a first turn Blow Through/Night Spear with this variant vs. a first turn Night Spear in the Pure Darkrai EX variant? I do not actually have the answer to that but I am certain that this variant will not be able to perform Night Spear as frequently on the first turn when compared to the Pure Darkrai EX variant.

So essentially, we are trading a higher probability of a first turn Night Spear for the first turn Blow Through option. Is this a good trade? That is for you to decide, but I suspect it is not worth it.

Again, if your metagame consists of many Fighting Pokémon, all Darkrai EX variants are probably unwise deck choices. Tornadus EX can certainly help in these matchups, but that does not mean they are auto-wins. At the very best, I would say Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX has 50-50 matchups with Fighting variants.

However, Tornadus EX is probably dead weight in every other matchup. When your deck has dead weight, you will experience a below average matchup against all other decks.

As a result of all this, I would not recommend a Tornadus EX variant.

B. Darkrai EX/Terrakion

BulbapediaIn my June UG article, I asserted that Darkrai EX/Terrakion was the best Darkrai EX variant of the that format. Unfortunately, I am not so sure this assertion turned out to be true (although I am confident this was the best variant of the ones I discussed in the article).

The argument for including Terrakion is to counter all other Darkrai EX variants. Since Darkrai EX is the best card in the format, it does not hurt to have a counter to him in your deck.

Benefits of Darkrai EX/Terrakion

  • One of the few Darkrai EX variants that can 1-shot a Darkrai EX.
  • Can help improve the Fighting matchup by giving you an additional weakness to work with.
  • Terrakion is a strong Sigilyph counter.
  • F Energy is not susceptible to Enhanced Hammer.
  • Terrakion only gives up 1 Prize and can trade Prizes very nicely with EXs.

Costs of Darkrai EX/Terrakion

  • Terrakion is a subpar starter that does very little to improve the early game.
  • Land Crush is expensive and Retaliate will only do 30 a lot of the time. Night Spear is better than both of these attacks in almost every situation (except against Fighting-weak Pokémon and Sigilyph).
  • Avoiding the 90/180 damage Retaliate is not all that challenging. Pokémon Catcher can allow a player to completely circumvent the massive Retaliation by Knocking Out the Terrakion instead of something else.
  • You must include non-D Energy to use Terrakion.

pokemon-paradijs.comI am still very confident that Terrakion is better than Tornadus EX. The primary benefits of Tornadus EX are that he gives you a (perhaps) slightly stronger early game and Fighting matchup.

The primary benefits of Terrakion are that he gives you a much better matchup against all other Darkrai EX variants, improves the Fighting matchup a bit and gives you a non-EX attacker.

Since you probably should not be playing any Darkrai EX variant in a Fighting heavy metagame, the benefit of Tornadus EX is marginal when compared to Terrakion. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a stronger option.

So the question becomes “Is including Terrakion a better decision than playing Pure Darkrai EX?” Of course this is largely dependent on the metagame. If you will be paired against many other Darkrai EX variants, I think there is a very strong argument for using Terrakion.

I very much doubt there exists any metagame without Darkrai EX, so including Terrakion is probably a good decision and ultimately better than Pure Darkrai EX.

C. Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX

BulbapediaThis variant had a major presence this past Summer at Nationals and Worlds. Of course Mewtwo EX is an incredibly strong card, so naturally his inclusion with Darkrai EX would probably also be very strong.

However, this variant has not been as prevalent in this format. Let’s look at the Costs and Benefits to perhaps find out why…

Benefits of Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX

  • The inclusion of Mewtwo EX can help improve the Fighting matchups.
  • Mewtwo EX is a very strong attacker against Keldeo-EX.
  • Like Tornadus EX, Mewtwo EX gives some donking potential and can provide a lot of early game pressure.
  • Dark Patch + Energy Switch can help power up X Ball.

Costs of Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX

  • The inclusion of Double Colorless Energy makes the deck susceptible to Enhanced Hammer.
  • Mewtwo EX has a very popular weakness (other Mewtwo EXs, Sigilyph, Cresselia-EX, Meloetta BCR).
  • This variant has no legitimate attacking option against Sigilyph.
  • You have to use non-D Energy to use this variant (like Tornadus EX, Mewtwo EX needs Double Colorless Energy).

Furthermore, without Shaymin UL, it is a lot harder to power up a massive X Ball. I think this is the primary reason Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX has not been as played as it once was.

Of all the Big Basic Darkrai EX variants, this one probably has the strongest Blastoise/Keldeo-EX matchup. Mewtwo EX is just so incredibly useful against Keldeo-EX. However, other than a stronger Blastoise matchup, I do not think this variant has much else going for it.

It is a lot harder for Mewtwo EX to 1-shot non-Psychic-weak Pokémon without Shaymin. As a result, Night Spear is a better attack most of the time. Furthermore, this variant will also have a tough time with Sigilyph. Although Hammers and Pokémon Catchers can largely mitigate these problems, it is still something to be wary of.

D. Darkrai EX/Keldeo-EX

BulbapediaI have not seen this variant very much, but it is worth talking about as it will probably get even better once the new set is released (due to Poison Hypnotic Beam/Virbank City Gym).

The argument for Keldeo-EX is to reduce the negative impact of Status Conditions and to improve the Landorus-EX matchup.

Benefits of Darkrai EX/Keldeo-EX

  • As just mentioned, Keldeo-EX will help improve the matchup against Landorus-EX variants.
  • Paralysis and other Status Conditions will be ineffective with the inclusion of Keldeo-EX.
  • Rush In + Dark Cloak work quite well with Dark Patch.

Costs of Darkrai EX/Keldeo-EX

  • Like Terrakion, Keldeo-EX is not very strong in the early game.
  • Keldeo-EX does not have a type advantage over Terrakion – one of the most popular Fighting types.
  • You will have to include a significant amount of non-D Energy in this variant. Without five or six W Energy, Secret Sword will yield very little damage.
  • Again, there is no answer to Sigilyph.
  • Keldeo-EX can struggle against opposing Mewtwo EXs.

trollandtoad.comUnlike the Tornadus EX variant, I think the Keldeo-EX variant actually has a strong chance of winning against Landorus-EX variants (perhaps not heavy Terrakion variants). This is probably the strongest argument for the Keldeo-EX variant right now.

Once Poison Hypnotic Beam is released, this variant will surely increase in strength and popularity. For now, this variant is probably one of the weaker Big Basic options. Most of the time Secret Sword will not be as strong as Night Spear and thus Keldeo-EX will be wasted space.

If a metagame consists of some Fighting variants (primarily Landorus-EX focused decks), this might be a strong variant. However, if there are a lot of Fighting variants, something else (like Blastoise) would probably be a much better choice.

Like the Tornadus EX and Mewtwo EX variants, the Keldeo-EX variant is probably inferior to the Terrakion variant.

E. Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX

Landorus-EX, like Tornadus EX, really shines in the early game. Hammerhead is an extremely strong attack on the first turn and is much easier to pull off when compared to Blow Through or Night Spear.

Like Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX, this variant just combines two really strong EXs that do not necessarily have much synergy (I suppose all of these variants follow this pattern).

Benefits of Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX

  • Hammerhead drastically increases the odds of a first turn, damaging attack.
  • Landorus-EX gives a distinct type advantage against other Darkrai EX variants.
  • Land’s Judgement is actually better than Night Spear some of the time.
  • Hammerhead can completely demolish Eelektrik variants.
  • Landorus-EX brings some extra donking potential to the table (Tynamo, Deino).

Costs of Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX

  • Landorus-EX is weak to an increasingly popular type, Water. This means this variant will have a lot of wasted space in these matchups.
  • This variant will have to include non-D Energy.
  • This variant also has no attacker for Sigilyph.
  • Has to discard F Energy in order to 1-shot opposing Darkrai EXs.

Since this variant is already running F Energy, you can easily include Terrakion into variant (or include Landorus-EX in the Terrakion variant) to improve upon some of these issues. With Terrakion there will be a way to attack Sigilyph and easily 1-shot a Darkrai EX.

When including Terrakion, Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX has very few problems other than a weakness to Blastoise. Unless your metagame is infested with Blastoise, Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX is probably your best bet when it comes to Big Basic Darkrai EX variants.

If you expect only a little bit of Blastoise in your metagame, a Mewtwo EX might be a worthwhile because that might swing the matchup closer to 50-50. If you expect a lot of Blastoise, you should probably go with Pure Darkrai EX or Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX.

III. Hydreigon/Darkrai EX

BulbapediaSo now we are moving into stranger waters: Evolutions. We are moving further and further away from Pure Darkrai EX. Hopefully you read and enjoyed my last UG article as it was all about this variant. Obviously, I am a fan of the deck.

Since the publishing of that article, I have come to like Sigilyph a lot more in my Hydreigon list. She has found a spot along with Mewtwo EX and Cresselia-EX. I underestimated Sigilyph’s usefulness in the Blasoise/Keldeo-EX matchup along with the Klinklang and Big Basics matchups.

I already wrote quite a bit about this deck, so I will be quick about this section.

Benefits of Hydreigon/Darkrai EX

  • The incredible healing capabilities of the Max Potion + Dragon Trance combo are very powerful. Your Pokémon can live for a very long time when Hydreigon is online.
  • Hydreigon is a very strong attacker. A Night Spear followed by a Dragonblast will Knock Out any Eviolited Pokémon. Furthermore, Hydreigon gives you a strong option against Sigilyph. Dragonblast 1-shots Blastoise, Klinklang and opposing Hydreigons. Clearly, Hydreigon is a force to be reckoned with.
  • The inclusion of Hydreigon allows you to easily tech in other attacking options such as Shaymin EX, Sigilyph, Cresselia-EX, etc.
  • The Hydreigon variant should have a stronger late game presence than the Big Basic variants.

Costs of Hydreigon/Darkrai EX

  • Naturally, this variant is more inconsistent than the variants not running Evolutions. If you fail to evolve into a Hydreigon, your deck will have a lot of wasted space.
  • In including Hydreigon, you open yourself to having an additional Dragon weakness. Both Fighting variants and Dragon variants can pose problems for Hydreigon/Darkrai EX.
  • Deino can be donked by quite a few Pokémon – Tornadus EX, Rayquaza, and Landorus-EX.
  • The inclusion of Blend and Prism Energy make the deck susceptible to Enhanced Hammer.
  • This variant is naturally slower compared to the other Big Basic variants.

pokemon-paradijs.comI think this variant is extremely powerful and I really do not know which is stronger – this or Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX. The Hydreigon variant has a stronger Blastoise matchup, but a weaker RayEels matchup in comparison to the Landorus-EX variant.

The Hydreigon variant probably has a better Big Basic matchup than the Landorus-EX variant, but it is less consistent and can be donked more easily.

As stated in my previous article, Hydreigon/Darkrai EX would be the best deck in a perfect world. However, we live in a world of inconsistencies and the inability to 100% accurately predict a metagame. These problems narrow the margin between Hydreigon/Darkrai EX and Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX.

If I knew that I would always have a Hydreigon by turn two or three, I would play the Hydreigon variant in a heartbeat. But I know that will not happen, so I have to weigh the options. Consistency vs. power. The age old Pokémon debate.

IV. Klinklang

BulbapediaWhen I wrote about Hydreigon last August, I also wrote about Klinklang (geeze I have written a lot about Darkrai EX). Although Klinklang was inferior to Hydreigon last format, a few things have changed that make has narrowed the margin between the two decks.

With the release of Keldeo-EX and Skyla, Klinklang has become far more consistent (Skyla for Tropical Beach is a most wise decision on the first turn of the game) and does not experience the ‘being stuck in the Active Spot’ problem any more.

Keldeo-EX can also exploit the Metallic Blend Energy to power up its Secret Sword attack. Clearly, Klinklang got a lot of help out of Boundaries Crossed!

Although you may not consider this a Darkrai EX variant, this deck would not be able to succeed without the help of Darkrai EX. You can see a list in Jay’s previous article if you are unfamiliar with how these decks are put together!

Benefits of Klinklang

  • Like Hydreigon, Klinklang can exploit the healing capabilities of Max Potion.
  • With Prism Energy and the Metallic Blend Energy, Klinklang can take advantage of a plethora of different attackers.
  • As a result of focusing more on Keldeo-EX, this variant has a stronger Fighting matchup than the other Darkrai EX variants.
  • Heavy Ball adds a great deal of consistency to this deck as it can search for the entire Klinklang line. You can conserve a lot of resources by not having to use Ultra Ball for everything.
  • Also, like Hydreigon, the Klinklang variant should have a better late game than the Big Basic variants.
  • The Klinklang variant can also tech in Sigilyph counters (Gear Grind is not the best of options here).
  • Has fewer weaknesses to popular Pokémon. Both Klinklang and Keldeo-EX have very rare weaknesses.

Costs of Klinklang

  • Klinklang is very weak to Hammer variants. This is probably as close to auto-loss as you can get.
  • Like Hydreigon, this variant is less consistent than the Big Basic Darkrai EX variants.
  • Gear Grind is a far weaker attack compared to Dragonblast.
  • Klinklang is the only Darkrai EX variant that cannot exploit Dark Patch. As a result, it is the only Darkrai EX variant that does not have Energy acceleration.
  • Klinklang cannot exploit Sableye as easily as the other Darkrai EX variants.

pokemon-paradijs.comThere are many similarities between Klinklang and Hydreigon. There are also a lot of differences. There are quite a few, very talented players that are very supportive of Klinklang.

I am not one of them. The lack of Energy acceleration can often prevent Klinklang from keeping up with Hydreigon, RayEels, and Blastoise.

Also, the auto-loss to Hammers is just too threatening for my taste. If a deck can fit in just two Enhanced Hammer, they can significantly improve the matchup against Klinklang.

I will admit that Klinklang is probably stronger in Fighting infested metagames. I am convinced, however, that it is weaker in every other kind of metagame when compared to Hydreigon.

V. Darkrai EX/Garbodor

BulbapediaAh, the final Darkrai EX variant that will be discussed today! I played this variant at Fall Regionals but have not tested much with it since. I believe the metagame is slowly moving closer and closer to a place that is most favorable for Garbodor, however. I am certain that Garbodor will have a time to shine in the somewhat near future – it could even be now!

Obviously, the point of this variant is to shut off opposing Abilities and hopefully overwhelm the locked opponent with Darkrai EX. The variant I used took advantage of Hammers, but I do not think that Hammers are necessarily needed for the success of this deck.

Benefits of Darkrai EX/Garbodor

  • The primary benefit of including Garbodor is to turn off opposing Abilities.
  • This variant is probably more consistent than the Hydreigon or Klinklang variant. No Stage 2 or Rare Candy certainly helps things out.
  • Sigilyph should not be a problem for this variant.

Costs of Darkrai EX/Garbodor

  • This is the only Darkrai EX variant that cannot take advantage of Dark Cloak. As a result, this variant needs to run a high count of Switch – which decreases the consistency of the deck.
  • Garbodor obviously brings some susceptibility to Tool Scrapper along with it.
  • In order to take advantage of Garbotoxin, a list will have to run a high count of Tools. This also decreases the consistency of the deck.
  • Having to play Trubbish increases the likelihood of a donk (Mewtwo EX).

pokemon-paradijs.comThe major problem with this variant is Garbodor’s Retreat Cost combined with the shutting down of Dark Cloak. The opponent can easily Catcher up your Garbodor and either Knock it Out or prevent you from doing much of anything. This is particularly painful if your opponent can keep reusing Pokémon Catcher with their Sableye.

This problem will become far less prevalent when the new Float Stone Item card is released. It is a Tool that gives the Pokémon it is attached to a free Retreat Cost. This kills two birds with one stone: it provides a Tool to activate Garbotoxin while also giving you more options for getting Garbodor out of the Active Spot.

I am uncertain whether or not Garbodor can succeed in today’s metagame. I am certain Garbodor will have a favorable matchup with Blastoise, Hydreigon, and RayEels. There are several decks that do not rely upon Abilities right now, however. I doubt Garbodor could easily deal with those.

If you anticipate an Ability heavy metagame, Garbodor might be a really strong option.


pocketmonsters.netAlthough it was not my intention, I did perform a rather weak ranking of these decks. Hydreigon and Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX are probably the strongest Darkrai EX variants right now. If I had to guess, the Big Basic Darkrai EX variants will be more popular for Winter Regionals simply because consistency is king for many players.

I am well aware that an article of this nature is a bit risky when it comes to Underground. Some players really appreciate the technical while others appreciate the more general articles (like this one). I did something technical last time so I thought a more broad topic would be appropriate for this one.

Metagaming is more important than ever right now. When a metagame can drastically change between weekends, you must be on your A-Game.

You have to be willing to step back and say “Is using the variant I have been working with for so long really the best way of winning this upcoming event? How does it really compare to the other variants I could be using?” You must not forget the forest.

Anyway, I want to thank the SixPrizes community for giving me so much support this year. You have truly helped make 2012 one of the best years to date. I look forward to hearing what you have to say about Darkrai EX and writing more about Pokémon in 2013. Happy Holidays!


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