The Only Tool I Need is a Hammer!

filb.de
Rogue Kangaskhan? Just need my hammer.

After Raymond’s article earlier this month I was worried that my topic had become redundant. Thankfully I think there’s still a great deal of unique discussion I have to offer here, and very little overlap between the two articles.

If you couldn’t tell, this article is going to be an in-depth analysis on the subtleties of Hammertime!

A month ago I looked at the Cities metagame on mine and Starmetroid’s blog and summed it up simply as “Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock.” To make a long story short, the top tier metagame decks all had a very rock paper scissors-like interaction with each other, but the web is a bit more complex than rock paper scissors.

In that article, I made a (pretty obvious) prediction that the best deck for Regionals would be the one that was best able to fix its worst matchup(s).

My conclusions were as follows:

My inkling? Hammertime needs to figure out the best way to enact Prize denial. Landorus/Mewtwo needs to figure out the best way to ensure it can take its Prizes (i.e. anti-Prize denial). / has to figure out how to solve Eels (teching one Landorus won’t cut it).

And Eels needs to swing its Landorus matchup in its favour to get over that donk hump. Even if donks were to only comprise 10% of games between the decks, that would still take a 50/50 matchup and turn it into a 55/45 matchup based on donks alone.

Landorus vs. Eels is not so fortunate as to have a 50/50 matchup when it’s not donked, and this is the biggest problem.

Ignoring that I neglected to mention straight Darkrai/Stuff in the article (I believe it to be very strong, but largely the same matchups as Hammertime) and Ho-Oh. There has been a lot of great discussion on many of these decks. But today I’ll be discussing my journey through Hammertime. From how I started to where I am now.

To do this, I’ll present three Hammertime decks along a spectrum of playstyles, and explain at the end what each point on that spectrum represents. It should be somewhat reminiscent of Colin’s “Journey through the ______” articles, though I’ll update my discussions for my present position, rather than write each section at the time of playing.

Table of Contents

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

So starting out, here’s the list I posted in my Cities article on November 15th.

After the first week of Cities, I could assess the metagame and adapt my list appropriately. This was my deck list for week 2.

Deck List #1

Pokémon – 7

4 Darknessrai-EX

3 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 41

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Bianca

2 Skyla

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Patch

4 Energy Switch

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Ultra Ball

3 Eviolite

1 Dark Claw

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

12 Darkness

What was added?

Not in the sense of “What specific cards have been added?” but, “What has this deck list accomplished that the prior one didn’t?”

The specific card additions are the 4th Darkrai EX and the one Max Potion. To do this, the deck dropped an Ultra Ball and one Sableye DEX.

Our own Jay Hornung is a strong advocate of how small changes can make the biggest impacts, and I absolutely agree. This list is only 2 cards off from my prior list, but the difference in performance is night and day.

First and foremost, this list hits hard, and very fast. If you haven’t gotten a turn 2 Night Spear, it’s because your opponent Catchered a benched Darkrai EX with no Energy (and even then, it’s still very possible to get the T2 Night Spear), or they used a PlusPower + Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX to KO your Sableye in some fashion.

T2 Night Spear more often than not

The reason for the quick starts is largely Skyla + Computer Search. The first-turn Computer Search (which is not too difficult with both Skyla and your 1st turn Supporter as potential outs) is optimal with Sableye. Computer Search often gets you the tools to ensure Junk Hunt is your first attack.

And with Junk Hunt, you’ve got Computer Search to get you the Energy Switch/Dark Patch necessary for the T2 Night Spear.

The Max Potion is something I both love and hate. 1-2 Energy Switch + Max Potion is a very strong play mid-game to deny Prizes. But the opportunity to do so effectively is few and far between. Oftentimes this deck can’t afford to discard 2 Energies off of a damaged Darkrai EX to deny a Prize. And very often I found myself running low on Energy in the late game.

The 4th Darkrai EX is there to become that extra Darkrai you need in these situations. It also makes drawing into them much easier, and denying Prizes by providing an attacker you can retreat for. This benefit is really not to be underestimated.

Against Landorus/Mewtwo, the matchup was still pretty poor, but for a different reason than before. My biggest problem before was just consistent pressure that managed to topple me. Terrakion Retaliates, Mewtwo 2HKOs, and Hammerhead pressures – all of these made the matchup poor.

But with the addition of Max Potion, the Mewtwo 2HKOs and the Hammerhead pressure was nullified to some extent. This deck could survive that extra 1-2 turns to keep the opponent from finishing off that damaged Darkrai hiding on the bench.

What it still lacks…

pokemon-paradijs.com
Only tool might be a stretch…

Against Landorus/Mewtwo, I now found myself losing to the threat of deck-out. I was capable of Hammering away their Energy successfully, and sticking in there for the long-haul. I was consistently down in the late game, but ready to launch a comeback.

The problem was that to keep the opponent at bay, I constantly pushed my resources to the brink. As a result, I had to prematurely launch my attack with Darkrai because my deck became a timer. If I didn’t do anything, I would lose in “X” turns.

This problem was further compounded by the lack of Prizes I had taken. I often found myself still with 5-6 Prizes by the time I was ready to counter-attack. And my hand usually worked itself down to 3-4 cards at the end of the turn. I couldn’t use N to keep myself alive in the late-game, I had to act 1 turn too early.

Against every other matchup, this variant is extremely solid. What this deck does best is hit fast. Even against Eels decks (which can use Max Potion + Dynamotor), the deck just functions too quickly and too consistently to allow RayEels or MewtwoEels any breathing room.

Against Blastoise/Keldeo, you once again just hit too quickly and too consistently. When they set up, the matchup tipped a little into their favour, but Dark Claw really shined here. Not only does it set Blastoise up for perfect numbers, but it also hits both Keldeo and Mewtwo for perfect numbers with 2 snipes.

pokemon-paradijs.com
Simply ravishing. The perfect gift for any Dark type

The late game was often prepared by early snipes to put Keldeo and Mewtwo at 60 damage, only to drop a Dark Claw to take the KO.

If you can hit a Mewtwo or a Keldeo for 110 at any point, it also puts them in the unfortunate position of losing to the snipe. Even if they retreat, and even if they KO the Dark Claw Darkrai, they’re still 1-2 turns away from giving up 2-4 Prizes. Dark Claw really allows you to “checkmate” Blastoise/Keldeo through efficient sniping.

So really, the only thing this variant still lacked was a good answer to Landorus/Mewtwo. But that being the most important matchup, it’s not something you can just live with at the end of the day. Something had to be done about it.

At the second week of Cities I noticed an interesting trend in a few of the Hammertimes floating around. That trend? Potion. A lot of players caught on to the strength of Potion in this metagame in both Darkrai variants and Landorus/Mewtwo. And after exploring the strength of “Heal 30,” I found out why.

Deck List #2

Pokémon – 7

4 Darknessrai-EX

3 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 41

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

2 Skyla

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Patch

4 Energy Switch

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Ultra Ball

2 Eviolite

2 Dark Claw

2 Potion

1 Max Potion

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

12 Darkness

What was added?

The specific card differences between this list and the previous one is dropping a Bianca, a Tool Scrapper and an Eviolite and adding a Dark Claw and two Potions.

Deck list #2 is designed to aid the Landorus/Mewtwo matchup. This list also fixed a problem that popped up through the second week of Cities which I didn’t really mention. Aspertia City Gym saw a rise in play, and Bouffalant/Tornadus EX-based decks could apply serious pressure through Gold Breaker (even getting through Eviolite).

pokemon-paradijs.com
How do you beat Landorus? Just add water

Potion fixed this problem, doing a great job of turning a 2HKO into a 3HKO from various combos of Bouffalant/Mewtwo/Tornadus. The Colourless Pokémon matchup was already ok, but it became a bit better as a result of Potion, which was all the more important as MewtwoEels developed itself throughout Cities.

The important fix against Landorus/Mewtwo is that you can prevent the 2HKO/3HKO on a Darkrai, keeping the presence up front using Potion. Thanks to Potion, the same Darkrai can keep attacking without needing Energy Switch combos, and requiring your opponent to spend an extra turn to KO the nightmare.

Additionally, you can prevent the KO on a benched Darkrai by one turn using that second Potion, or you can still prevent the KO entirely on the bench using Max Potion. With 2 Potion and one Max Potion, prize denial is very possible.

The problem really lies in running into N where you don’t get the option to pull off those clutch plays. The one thing I’d love is to bring back the 4th Bianca.

What it still lacks…

To be honest, as far as a pure build goes I feel this list is fairly optimal. It lacks versatility, for sure. However I’ll go into teching the lists later. The problems I found with this list are with MewtwoEels and Landorus/Mewtwo.

MewtwoEels doesn’t require many Eels up to be effective. And with their Max Potions for prize denial, and easy 2HKO’s on Darkrai, Potion wasn’t always enough to save you the game.

Also, though Potion improves the Landorus/Mewtwo matchup, it still hasn’t solved it well enough that you can comfortably face a Landorus/Mewtwo deck.

And this is especially true for the best-of-3. This next list solves this dilemma, at the cost of a lot of your other matchups.

Deck List #3

Pokémon – 7

4 Darknessrai-EX

3 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 42

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Bianca

2 Skyla

1 Random Receiver

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Patch

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Ultra Ball

4 Potion

2 Eviolite

2 Dark Claw

1 Gold Potion

1 Energy Search

1 Enhanced Hammer

Energy – 11

11 Darkness

What was added?

This is a different beast entirely. Gold Potion is largely seen as inferior to the multi-purpose, never-situational Computer Search. But the power that straight healing 90 can have is devestating.

Regarding specific card differences, the whole dynamic of the deck shifted in response to losing Computer Search.

Not the undisputed* best ACE SPEC

First off, we’re trading ACE SPECs, which means you lost a Supporter-out and didn’t get one back. This is simple enough to solve by dropping the Max Potion from the list, but you’re now left without a Junk huntable Item-based Supporter-out.

Thus, Random Receiver got the nod to come back in. I’ll discuss specific cards for the deck at the end, if you’re curious as to why I’ve been so anti-Receiver thus far.

I think the best way to describe this deck is to make an analogy to Quad Entei. As ridiculous as it sounds for Darkrai to try and focus on tanking and healing, that is exactly what this deck tries to do. You don’t emphasize an incredibly fast setup.

You just attach per turn, Dark Patch for some additional speed, and proceed to hit things until they go down. Potion provides minor healing, which is often all the deck needs to deny an important KO.

Mewtwo is effectively shut down from 2HKOing this way, and Landorus largely loses the ability to KO an active Darkrai through Hammerhead alone (especially coupled with Gold Potion), before it falls to said Darkrai. Potion also protects benched Pokémon from falling into your opponent’s calculations with Hammerhead snipe.

As I mentioned, this list has effectively solved the Landorus/Mewtwo matchup. But in return, it’s lost some very important speed and early game presence.

What is so different?

pokemon-paradijs.com
Far less useful overall

As a result of dropping important cards like Energy Switch (you don’t need to drop to zero on this, I just have for this list as a discussion point) and Computer Search from the list, the deck rarely gets off a turn two Night Spear. And as a consequence of your opponent’s clever play, they can sometimes force you to attack on turn four at the earliest.

Probably the largest adjustment in playstyle that you need to make in maximizing your speed is to not focus on the early Junk Hunt with Sableye, and instead just manually charge up Darkrais. An Energy attached to Sableye early not only stays there, but also often ends up in the discard.

This leaves you promoting an Energy-less Darkrai to the active, which requires an attachment to retreat it, and a Dark Patch to the benched Darkrai etc… It doesn’t sound as bad on paper, but in practice you’d rather have attached to Darkrai.

The other reason to avoid playing an early Sableye is because you’ve lost important targets that often get burned early on. There is no Computer Search, we’ve lost Energy Switches, and added a 4th Ultra Ball for additional discard outlets (which is rarely a card you need back).

The still-heavy 3 Sableye count in the deck is solely there to abuse Hammers against Fighting.dec, otherwise dropping to 2 Sableye would seem pretty justified.

What it still lacks…

As to what this list lacks, the loss of early game pressure really hurts your Blastoise/Keldeo matchup, your Eelektrik matchup, and your Darkrai/Hydreigon matchup. Computer Search lists got over these matchups by just being more consistent and faster.

If you can KO their Squirtles/Eels/Deinos before they can abuse their energy manipulation, you’re in a good position to win the game. But once these decks set up, they are at a clear advantage. And as I’ve mentioned you’ve lost serious early-game pressure.

Against Blastoise/Keldeo, Gold Potion/Potion can be too little to avoid a 2HKO from Keldeo-EX. However in the right instance, it can also work to your favour.

pokemon-paradijs.com
Spears aren’t meant to hunt turtles

Unfortunately, Blastoise/Keldeo lists can run heavy Super Scoop Up counts, which play the same healing game you do, but are more devastating to you than your Gold Potion is to them. And when Darkrai is resigned to 2HKO Keldeos, it’s difficult to force an exchange in your favour.

The same problem occurs in both prominent Eelektrik variants. RayEels is a deck with enough firepower to 1HKO whatever it needs to. And without your fast start, RayEels has all the time in the world to get set up.

The Potions are largely erroneous cards in this matchup, and Enhanced Hammer is useless. This means you’re playing 5 cards short of a 60 card deck, and you’re at a disadvantage in firepower.

The only way to come back from this matchup is to target Eels and hope they can’t replace them. But oftentimes they can, and as a result of adding Gold Potion, you suddenly dread the RayEels matchup.

The same can be said for MewtwoEels, but for a different reason. In terms of tanking, MewtwoEels is superior. Losing an Eelektrik doesn’t bother the deck as much, as it 2HKOs Darkrais through a combination of Gold Breaker, Power Blast, or X Ball.

MewtwoEels also runs at least 2 Max Potion, and can use them to great effect for prize denial. Your Crushing Hammers become largely unimportant, and as a result the matchup turns into a tanking game.

But with MewtwoEels’ unlimited damage output with Mewtwo, and its endless supply of Energy, it is a difficult matchup to overcome. You need the early game pressure to remove the threat of Energy acceleration, and there is a very narrow window to do this.

Lastly, Darkrai/Hydreigon becomes much more difficult. You may notice that losing early game pressure immediately impacts your matchups against the prominent setup decks of the format. Fancy that eh?

Simply put, they Max Potion, you can’t do anything about it. They’re effectively running 3 Gold Potions to your 1, and you notice the difference pretty quickly.

Looking at the Spectrum

We’ve finally solved the Landorus/Mewtwo/Techs matchup, but at the cost of other important matchups. So the question to ask is which variant is the most well-rounded?

Though I complained pretty harshly about the Gold Potion variant’s lack of speed, it’s not as horrible as I make it sound. My attitude comes from being spoiled by the consistency that Energy Switch and Computer Search provide me.

pokemon-paradijs.com
3 Eviolites also works great against Hammerhead

Deck list #1 is the most speed oriented. Its method of Prize denial is to use Eviolite to force 3HKOs, and rob them of an important 2 Prizes using Max Potion. As a consequence of only running 1 Dark Claw, Tool Scrapper becomes a must to power over opposing Eviolites.

I don’t have a Dark Claw instead of a Tool Scrapper because 5 Tools in the list is a bit overkill. You can’t de-attach a Tool once it’s on there, so the 5th tool often ends up dead.

The list has room to keep that wonderful 14 Supporters + Computer Search, which gives you unparalleled consistency in the format. The deck just hits so hard and so fast that many decks have difficulty keeping up.

Deck list #2 is a balanced compromise. It has the best of both worlds, keeping a strong early game presence, but it can also retain its board position mid-game better thanks to the addition of the two Potions.

The two Dark Claws become a godsend against Blastoise/Keldeo, and can allow important damage calculations against Mewtwo EX decks. Dark Claw also hits over Bouffer to allow the 2HKO through snipe damage when Bouffalant is not Eviolited.

It’s lost the 15 Supporter outs, but retains a respectable 14. Comparing the two, deck list #2 has a clear advantage in the mirror over deck list #1, as a consequence of Prize denial via Potion.

And for the same reason, it also has a much better game against Landorus/Mewtwo, which makes it a superior choice to deck list #1 overall. The metagame would have to be heavily focused on setup decks to make deck list #1 the choice for the format.

pokemon-paradijs.com
Making a spiritual comeback

Deck list #3 runs like Quad Entei, except you’re using Darkrai. This means dealing more damage overall (120 total instead of 90), and having more efficient Energy acceleration. The deck also has the ability to hold its worst matchup at bay through Crushing Hammers + healing.

The faults lie in losing an edge against the setup decks of the format. I made it sound absolutely dreadful earlier, but in reality the matchups against the 3 aforementioned decks are not as terrible as I make them seem.

They are generally nonetheless less favourable to the Hammertime player. The tradeoff is to put Landorus/Mewtwo in that favourable range, and to also hold a big advantage in the mirror match.

This deck’s worst matchup may just be Ho Oh/Terrakion/Stuff. There’s not much you can do to prevent a Rebirth + Energy Switch Retaliate from 1HKO’ing your Darkrai. And the same combination can often allow Terrakion to even Land Crush if you don’t pull off a clutch hammer flip.

It’s not as though the other decks have better options against this, but they are running cards more suited to hitting before it can happen.

The Play

filb.de
And the biggest game of all, is cardfight

I’d hope it’s obvious from my discussion up there, but deck list #1 has largely been presented in this article as a point of comparison. It’s the intermediate list between my intial list and my final list (deck list #2). It’s not a list I feel is best suited to combat the format.

I personally fancy deck list #2 the most, being able to apply early game pressure while also capable of maintaining its presence mid-game. The Landorus/Mewtwo matchup is not entirely solved, but it’s not bad either. Putting a number on it I would probably say it’s about 50/50, which is all you can ask.

You keep the setup-deck matchups in favourable territory, but lose out on an even matchup against Gold Potion variants of Darkrai/Hammertime.

Deck list #3 nonetheless makes an argument for being run. As I mentioned, you have a much better matchup against Landorus/Mewtwo, but fall into even territory against various setup decks. So obviously, my conclusions on Deck list #3 are metagame specific, and I would strongly consider it for Regionals.

In Cities, I feel like the loss of speed is too much of a risk to ensure you get into top cut. But this variant performs a bit better once you’re in top cut, compared to deck list #2. The mid-game power Gold Potion has is not to be underestimated.

Additionally, though the list I’ve provided here is a pure Darkrai variant, to help overcome the setup deck matchups, teching your deck would be more appropriate. I’ll touch on this below!

Card Discussion

Random Receiver

pokemon-paradijs.com
Really not as useful without Junk Arm

One thing I realized over my testing is that Random Receiver is largely unnecessary in this deck. The theorymon of “Junk Hunt for a Random Receiver” is a sound argument for its inclusion, but in practice it rarely presents itself (if ever). The reason for this is two-fold.

1. Your first turn Junk Hunt targets are likely key Items you were able to discard (e.g. Dark Patch, Computer Search).

The only reason to Junk Hunt for Random Receiver on the first turn is if you’re dead, after having already used/discarded a Random Receiver.

The odds of using a Random Receiver (or discarding one because of a Supporter), and then not having a Supporter afterward are slim to none. So it really doesn’t lend to early game presence at all.

2. In the late game, your clutch Junk Hunt is never for Random Receiver. In Computer Search-based Decks, Computer Search is a much better card to grab. And more often than not your board is already set up, and your late game Junk Hunt is going to be for the extra Catcher etc… to win you the game.

However in the Gold Potion build, you lack the first argument of point #2. There is no Computer Search, and thus if you are N’d to one it is important to have a Junk Hunt’able Supporter-out in your discard. However, in all other situations I prefer an extra Bianca to provide protection from late-game N’s.

Random Receiver also contributes to the “extra Supporter” fallacy. When you use Random Receiver, what you’re essentially doing is using what could have been 2 Supporters for the effect of one. And with the inability to choose your Supporter with Random Receiver, its usefulness dwindles more and more.

2nd Enhanced Hammer

pokemon-paradijs.com
Buying one more turn is huge

An interesting check to include in the deck for setup decks is a 2nd Enhanced Hammer. I’d cut one Supporter from the Gold Potion list for it. The reason being that everything aside from RayEels uses either DCE or Blend Energy GRPD.

The extra Enhanced can also come in handy against Landorus/Mewtwo, which is never a bad thing. The problem with the 2nd Enhanced Hammer is it’s completely useless against RayEels (so you’ve dropped a Supporter for nothing), and does nothing for the mirror match either (again, dropping a Supporter for nothing).

However removing the 3rd or 4th Blend Energy/DCE from play can be a real life saver in stressful situations. Dropping the 4th Crushing Hammer is another easy way to fit it in.

You may have noticed the quirky Energy Search included in the Gold Potion list. The Energy Search is there because you lack Computer Search for that necessary Energy, and it provides a Junk Hunt-able Energy.

The Gold Potion variant really doesn’t want to whiff on its attachments, so a first turn Junk Hunt for Energy Search thins your deck while ensuring your per-turn attachment, or discard via Ultra Ball/Juniper.

The reason it made it into the Gold Potion list is because you also lose far fewer Energy over the course of the game, so dropping to 11 total doesn’t punish you as much as when you’re running Max Potion.

Gold Potion

trollandtoad.com
Much better than expected

At the start of my Hammertime exploration, I never even considered Gold Potion as a viable inclusion. But the power to heal 90 with no drawback is honestly worth the ACE SPEC. The fact remains that the only good 1HKO options against Darkrai in the format are Terrakion NVI and Landorus-EX (and I suppose Terrakion-EX).

Landorus-EX can do the job nicely with a PlusPower, not having to discard Energy. But both Terrakion and Landorus require 3 Energy to 1HKO unconditionally. You can’t expect to do that when facing Hammers, making the Gold Potion a very worthwhile inclusion for dealing with the potshot damage that Hammerhead deals.

Again, the problem with Gold Potion is that against decks like RayEels and Keldeo, their 1HKO options are still valid. RayEels is flat out scary, but Keldeo at least needs 7 Water Energies attached to 1HKO.

Unfortunately, if you’ve played against enough quality Blastoise/Keldeo lists, you’ll know that 7 Water Energies is not a difficult task, and will leave you reeling for the rest of the matchup (and likely losing).

Teching Your Build

8daysageek.com
Need a new tech? Why not Zoidberg?

The last bit of discussion I’ll have here is how to tech your build to best answer the metagame.

Straight Hammertime is strong and consistent, but it can have a very hard time dealing with Darkrai/Hydreigon (especially if Mewtwo is involved), MewtwoEels (Max Potion as prize denial is a big problem), and any deck with a quickly-charged Terrakion Retaliate.

One thing I will say right now is that when you tech your build with Terrakion NVI, Mewtwo EX, Keldeo-EX, Tornadus EX, or Landorus-EX, you often need at least 3 Energy Switch in the deck (4 is great for consistency). Thankfully, the changes required to tech your deck do not need to dig in to your consistency too much.

In terms of which attackers do the most to counter the metagame out of the ones discussed above, I’d recommend reading over Colin’s recent article “The Forest of Darkrai EX.

The Options

Mewtwo EX

Mewtwo contributes the most to the Blastoise/Keldeo, Landorus/Mewtwo, and Darkrai/Hydreigon matchups.

It’s like it counters itself or something

Against Blastoise/Keldeo, Mewtwo can be a quick way to remove an overzealous Keldeo or Mewtwo, which can restore a lot of balance to the game.

Against Landorus/Mewtwo, it can snag a quick 2 Prizes off an opposing Mewtwo. However, they will have more potential to abuse Mewtwo wars than you will (most likely), so Mewtwo is more of a game-ender in this matchup, rather than a mid-game swinger.

Lastly, against Darkrai/Hydreigon, Mewtwo prevents them from loading up their own Mewtwo and just whacking through you and tanking with Max Potions.

Mewtwo doesn’t do as much for this matchup, but if they do run Mewtwo it is very important in not letting them just steamroll you.

Tornadus EX

Tornadus contributes the most to the Hydreigon and Blastoise matchups.

Tornadus EX presents the ability to attack for 60 on the first turn. It’s not the strongest card, but it does a lot to annoy Fighting variants. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t do much against a strong Landorus/Mewtwo list. Bouffalant will still run over your EXs and Mewtwo is still highly potent.

Tornadus’ greatest potential largely comes from a turn one/two SAB + DCE to KO Deinos in the Darkrai/Hydreigon matchup or Squirtles. I would recommend SAB over Aspertia so you can retreat from a Sableye start without needing to attach energy. But you’re already a deck that hits very fast, so the T1 potential isn’t too different.

Overall, Tornadus does too little for my preferences to warrant inclusion.

Landorus-EX

Landorus-EX is a brilliant inclusion to threaten opposing Darkrai decks and seemingly a good threat against Eelektrik decks.

Need a new Zoidberg? Why not Landorus?

Darkrai/Landorus is a very scary deck to face, as it is one of the only decks around that can threaten a Land’s Judgement over the course of 2 turns worth of attachments.

In Darkrai/Landorus decks, Landorus does a great deal to threaten opposing Darkrais by being able to Land’s Judgment for KO without discarding Energy when you’ve already sniped their Darkrai for 30.

Landorus also applies very quick pressure to setup decks like Darkrai/Hydreigon, and can 1HKO a Hydreigon (a trait not to be undervalued). And of course, the ability to KO Tynamos and follow up on the newly-evolved Eel is devestating to Eel decks.

Landorus is least effective against Tornadus EX in Eels, and most effective against Bouffalant in Eels. The ease of KOing Tynamos is definitely a strong point, as it allows you to snipe the bench while taking a Prize mid-game when you need to set up an additional Darkrai. Once again, the capacity to use Land’s Judgement for 150 can be clutch.

It should be noted, however, that to include Landorus and take advantage of Land’s Judgement, a much more diverse Energy line is required. Something like 8 Dark, 5-6 Fighting is a decent balance.

Less Fighting reduces your odds of using Land’s Judgement more than once. Only having 8 Darks can also hurt your potential to hit quick T2 Night Spears and you start to notice whiffing on first turn Junk Hunts more often.

Terrakion NVI

Terrakion does a great deal against Darkrai decks, and gives you a more efficient Sigilyph DRX counter.

pokemon-paradijs.com
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of 1HKO’ing Bouffalant

Terrakion is very good at killing Darkrais, which is no secret. Terrakion also provides an attacker that can attack for only 2 Energy and still hit for 90 damage.

Against Darkrai/Hydreigon, it can be very useful to KO an opposing Darkrai and rob them of 3 Energy, but otherwise does little to aid the matchup if they were instead using Mewtwo to power over you.

Terrakion is also an attacker that can 1HKO a Bouffalant DRX, which can sometimes be a very useful trait to have. In most other matchups, Terrakion’s contribution is neutral, which is a fair argument for inclusion.

The cost to consistency is not as severe as Landorus, as you can fit Terrakion in effectively with only 3 Fighting Energies (and an Energy Search). One thing you may want to re-include is Tool Scrapper, to ensure Terrakion can do what he does best.

The Sigilyph counter thing is more of a quirky use, which is good to be prepared for. However the most effective strategy against a Sigilyph.dec is generally to just Hammer them out of Energy and chip away once they’re whiffing attachments.

Sableye + Dark Claw can do this slowly, but effectively. However Terrakion can make things go a lot quicker, which is nice.

Keldeo-EX

Keldeo is a very situational card in the current metagame.

trollandtoad.com
Best reserved as a counter to status conditions

There are two ways to approach teching Keldeo. The first is to just abuse Rush In (with one Dark attached) to ensure Paralysis hax don’t get the better of you. This also ensures you can Dark Patch to your preferred target.

The second usage there is not the most important however, as you can often send up a Pokémon with a Darkness Energy attached after a KO. And if they’re Catcher-stalling you, you’re probably in a good position and don’t need the Dark Patch.

The second use is to actually focus on attacking with Keldeo. Normally, Keldeo caps its attack at 50 damage, which is worthwhile against Landorus and nothing else. But loading a Keldeo up with 3 Energy to 2-shot a Landorus isn’t exactly ideal. So teching Water energies into the deck comes naturally as a way to hit them where it hurts.

However, as Keldeo requires a total of 3 Energy to attack, it is difficult to power it up suddenly through Energy Switches alone. It also doesn’t have the same “steamroll” potential that Mewtwo has when you move a lot of Energy to Keldeo, which is a less efficient use of resources (i.e. Mewtwo is better at this).

Which attackers are the optimal inclusions?

Given the discussion above, Landorus and Terrakion together can do a lot to cover your difficult matchups. Mewtwo also contributes a good deal to many matchups, but in a different way.

Here are two lists involving these 3 “strongest” techs.

Teched Version of Deck List #2

Pokémon – 8

3 Sableye DEX

3 Darknessrai-EX

1 Terrakion NVI

1 Landorus-EX

Trainers – 40

4 N

4 Professor Juniper

3 Bianca

2 Skyla

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Patch

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Ultra Ball

3 Energy Switch

2 Eviolite

2 Potion

1 Dark Claw

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Energy Search

1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

8 Darkness

4 Fighting

What was added?

pokemon-paradijs.com
1st edition. Just how I roll

This deck has the tools to counter a large majority of the metagame, at the significant cost of consistency. As a result, it is not a deck I would recommend in City Championships where you need to go X-1 to ensure your top cut. However it is a deck I would look to play in Regionals coming up this January.

Cards I would love to have, but had to cut are: Max Potion, 5th Fighting, and multiple 4th copies of cards. Above I mentioned that 5-6 would be a decent balance of Fighting Energy in a Landorus variant. In this deck list, I am not focused solely on Landorus, so there is not as much emphasis on charging him up with 2 Fighting Energies.

This is also a variant where if you manage to charge up a Land’s Judgement, you’re likely using it to counter Darkrai, which often doesn’t require you to discard the Fighting Energies.

In exchange for the consistency of 4th-copy cards, the deck has gained some real power. This is likely the deck list I would take to Regionals if I find myself playing Hammertime. However, a similarly teched Gold Potion list is certainly equally powerful, though the two once again play a different game.

What it still lacks…

pokemon-paradijs.com
Deep Growl, the new Thunder Wave

This deck list still lacks a good answer to a Darkrai/Hydreigon loading Energy onto a Mewtwo. Your best hope is to try and KO Deinos before they evolve, and Land’s Judgement the Hydreigon that inevitably sets up, then work on Mewtwo from there.

Alternatively, if you manage to snipe the Mewtwo for 30 at any point, the Tool Scrapper can help ensure a Land’s Judgment KO.

If I were looking to add Mewtwo EX, I could take out the 3rd Sableye DEX or a Crushing Hammer. As you’d be adding a card strong in the Fighting matchup, the loss of the Crushing Hammer might be worth it.

And of course, the deck list now lacks some consistency compared to your standard build. However, in a tournament where X-2 is a guaranteed Top 16 or Top 32, the lack of consistency is forgivable.

As a slightly off topic side note, it is interesting to read so many tournament reports here on SixPrizes where the decks that went on to win the tournament were decks that scraped into Top 8 through resistance.

These are the kinds of decks that sacrifice their consistency for techs in the same way that this teched build does. And in the same way, they are more likely to perform well in the best-of-3.

Teched Version of Deck List #3

Pokémon – 8

3 Darknessrai-EX

3 Sableye DEX

1 Landorus-EX

1 Mewtwo-EX

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

2 Skyla

1 Random Receiver

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Patch

4 Ultra Ball

4 Crushing Hammer

2 Energy Switch

2 Eviolite

2 Dark Claw

2 Potion

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Gold Potion

Energy – 12

8 Darkness

4 Fighting

What was added?

pokemon-paradijs.com
Go get ’em Chimchar

This list is very much teched for a different style of game than any of the above lists. This is the type of route I would go down with the Gold Potion list in preparing it for Regionals.

The deck still plays largely the same as the normal Gold Potion list, but to fit in both a 12th Energy, alternate Pokémon, and 2 Energy Switch to ensure Landorus and Mewtwo can do their jobs, the deck sacrificed some consistency.

It’s lost the 15th Supporter-out, 2 Potions worth of healing, and Energy Search. As I mentioned, the 3rd Sableye is mainly retained in the pure Gold Potion list for the times where you need to spam Hammers. And for the most part, an Energy attached early to Sableye is an Energy attachment wasted. I might look to add one of the other 4 cards back instead of the 3rd Sableye.

But the addition of Landorus and Mewtwo do a lot to check everything you still need to. Landorus greatly aids the RayEels matchup, which you would otherwise worry about due to the speed drop that accompanies running a Gold Potion-oriented build.

Mewtwo provides an important check in the Blastoise/Keldeo matchup to prevent overzealous Keldeos from sweeping. And Darkrai/Hydreigon is countered best in part by both Landorus (who can 1HKO Darkrais and apply early pressure) and Mewtwo (who prevents opposing Mewtwos from demolishing you). Thus you have answers to (almost) the entire format!

Lastly, the ability to charge up a Land’s Judgement is achieved differently in this build. Where in the Computer Search build, you would focus on Energy Switch to surprise KO, in this build you simply heal Landorus to make sure he can get a full 3 Energy attached when required.

A 3rd Energy Switch is another intriguing option, which would provide great potential for both Prize-denial (by forcing them to Catcher a damaged Pokémon with little Energy) and sudden Landoruses/Mewtwos.

What it still lacks…

filb.de
Pidgeot’s flight is also well-balanced

Honestly this variant is very well balanced. In analyzing the metagame, I may find myself dropping the 4th Crushing Hammer for a 2nd Enhanced Hammer, but this would be specific to my area. The only thing this deck lacks is quick pressure.

Darkrai/Basic decks are successful largely thanks to Darkrai’s consistent and powerful presence. But with this deck, you often give your opponent the time to set up, so each match is much more difficult to pilot than the Computer Search-oriented build. Games almost always are played by ear.

For the adaptable and mentally aware pilot, this style of Hammertime is likely the way to go. For the pilot who would better rely on deck strength (not a bad trait by any means), I would take the Computer Search build out for a spin.

Conclusion

Hopefully this discussion on Hammertime has been informative! A lot of the general principles of the deck are easily transferred to any straight Darkrai/Stuff variant, as the Hammers are really just taking up space that a Mewtwo or Landorus might occupy.

However I firmly believe that the straight Darkrai variant with the best coverage in the format is Hammertime. It may be flippy, but over the course of a tournament I find it generally evens out (and if it doesnt, you’ve still got an incredibly powerful deck).

Thanks for reading and if you appreciated the article, let me know by liking this article and posting in the UG thread! And a big thank you to Adam for allowing me the opportunity to write for you all. Here’s looking forward to Regionals this January!

Cheers

Crawdaunt out


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