Hey, SixPrizes! Today, I’ll be writing about a deck that others have mentioned, but hasn’t had an article focused on it: Darkrai/Landorus! Why? Because I think it’s a good deck that hasn’t seen much love, and there hasn’t been much about it on SixPrizes.
Now, in theory, this deck should be the best around, combining two strong attackers and solidly covering everything from Eels to Mewtwo. Yet, as results show, this is not the case. A slow setup, as with many decks, can spell out your doom, and with the costly attacks, this deck suffers especially in such a circumstance.
Fortunately, we have a hero of Energy acceleration riding up to save the day – Dark Patch! This card is what lets Darkrai hit turn two with its Night Spear, and, with the right start, gives you the possibility of a turn two Land’s Judgement. This sort of early pressure is what makes this sort of deck strong.
pokemon-paradijs.comHowever, Darkrai/Landorus alone isn’t enough to compete in this format, so what do we do? Add Hammers. The fact that it’s a Dark-focused deck means Sableye is a sure inclusion, and when your Hammers are recyclable, matches can go from bad to great in a few turns.
Hammers also wreck Klinklang decks especially, which is a rising threat, and can really give you the edge over Darkrai/Hydreigon.
Despite this, Crushing Hammer can be a near-dead card against Keldeo/Blastoise, many of which run Energy Retrieval. This turns the discarded Energy into a weapon against you. Keldeo/Blastoise also often run no Special Energy, which turn your Enhanced Hammers into Ultra Ball fodder.
Ho-Oh decks also have no problems with discarded Energy, as Ho-Oh’s Ability, Rebirth, just brings those Energies right back with a lucky flip.
Whether or not you should play this deck in tournaments really depends on your meta. Keldeo and Ho-Oh everywhere you turn? Forget it. Klinklang and Hydreigon making a strong showing? Have at ‘em. Other decks, like Quad Sigilyph, can also weird things up, but more on that later.
Alright, enough chit-chat from me, here’s my take on a standard, straight list:
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 40
Energy – 12
7 D – Basic
This is the base of what you might expect to start with. Nice and consistent with maxed out lines of much of the important stuff, and straight to the point without getting too confused. You would play it sort of like you would Hammertime, but Landorus is a strong option to attack with, and can go for some easy sniping and larger KOs.
For the Energy line, 8 Dark/4 Fighting is also fine, but keeping up the F Energy count is important for Landorus.
Because of Landorus-EX, Sableye is less of an emphasis, as this deck is a little more attack-oriented than the traditional Hammertime, and spamming Hammers is not as central.
This version lacks the focus it needs to consistently win – it tries to go two ways at once – which is why people may fail with it.
“Why write an article about a deck that doesn’t work? What is this guy trying to prove?” These are the sort of questions you might be asking. But I’m not done yet. Now that we have a place to start, time to make things work. This is where things get funky: techs!
There are many ways you could go with this deck, some are better than others, and that’s why I’m here to talk about what sort of tricks you might decide to put up your sleeve. As mentioned in the last paragraph, this deck so far lacks focus. Standard Hammertime without Landorus is a Hammery focus, while Darkrai/Landorus/no Hammers is more of a Landorus focus.
The best balance, as I see it, lies somewhere between the list above and Darkrai/Landorus. The difference between trying to shut down your opponent with Hammers (Hammertime), and slowing your opponent down with Hammers is the focal point of strategic difference.
To successfully use Landorus, space must be used with an emphasis on attackers. Some tech options include…
pokemon-paradijs.comHealing 30 may seem small, but in an actual match, it can mean the outcome of the game. Bumping your opponent right off the KO on your Darkrai or Landorus is very significant while trading blows. If you can fit a couple in, they will win you games.
Gold Potion works far better for this, but then you would be sacrificing your Computer Search spot. The best thing Potion has to offer is an extra turn to stay in play for EXs, which is what you would use it the majority of the time.
It’s a half-Fighting deck, and anything that runs Fighting as a major type would do well to include this guy. 90 for two Energies is almost too good to pass up. Also, unlike Landorus, Terrakion 1HKOs Darkrais with the magic number for damage output, 90, doubled by Weakness.
This makes it a very strong player against the numerous Darkrai variants, and with a well-timed Tool Scrapper, can wreck your opponent’s game.
One important thing to note is that though it is not weak to Water, Keldeo can still 1HKO it easily. Because it is a non-EX, however, the Prize tradeoff is still in your favor, so Terrakion is often best when played with Energy Switch for an out-of-nowhere Retaliate.
Its value as a Sigilyph attacker is also good, being able to take a couple of hits with Eviolite and dealing major damage to any Sigilyphs. The more you run, the better it is at doing this, but too many will give you bad starts and mess with your consistency.
pokemon-paradijs.comAny deck that runs basic Energy and Skyla is helped by Energy Search, Sableye variants especially. One of these can secure you a turn one Hammerhead if you have a Skyla and no energy, and has given me the donk against Tynamo on numerous occasions.
You can swap out an Energy for this one, and it will generally pay off. Another bonus is that it’s pretty much a Junk Hunt-able Energy, which can be invaluable in an Energy drought.
With Land’s Judgement having a base damage of 80, PlusPower can really help out against Darkrai, meaning you can 1HKO them without burning two Energies. Another similar use would be with Terrakion, KOing Darkrais through Eviolite, or with Mewtwo to defeat another Mewtwo with two energy.
You could also use 2 at a time and KO Keldeos, Rayquazas, or Mewtwos in one hit with a Land’s Judgement for 150+20.
Other than these, however, there are not many uses for PlusPower. Because larger counts are required for PlusPower to be effectively used, it may be a less viable choice when choosing techs, as many others can be run in 1-of counts.
pokemon-paradijs.comWhat do you do when Terrakion is Knocked Out? Revive! Revive is a great card for this deck, searching from the discard pile without having to also retrieve it from the deck as with Super Rod. It can be used to bring threats out of nowhere, and is especially useful in this deck which only runs 1 Mewtwo.
Even so, more than one isn’t generally a good idea, as the space can be filled with better options, and you usually won’t need to revive more than once.
An important thing to note about Revive, however, is that often times, you won’t need a Pokémon on your bench. With Pokémon Catcher in the format, unnecessary benchings can become a problem. So at times when you wouldn’t want to open up a target, Revive is a dead card.
Though it is a tech, Mewtwo is already a regular part of the deck. Its primary function is to stop opposing Mewtwos from sweeping your field, and can be used well against rampaging Keldeos. But because you only run one, it is not a good idea to engage in a Mewtwo war, which you will always lose. Because of this, Mewtwo is best used as a finisher.
One important note: Never drop Mewtwo without purpose. When you do play Mewtwo, it should usually be with an Energy Switch so you can be X Balling the same turn, but if you are faced with a situation where you have a Mewtwo and a Juniper in hand, it’s almost always best to just Juniper the Mewtwo away.
A badly placed Mewtwo can, and will lose you games.
pokemon-paradijs.comDropping 1 Eviolite for a Dark Claw is a great way to improve the Keldeo matchup in a few ways. First, it sets up perfect numbers with Blastoise, which, with Dark Claw, is a snipe and a Catcher away from being KO’d.
Similarly, Keldeos and Mewtwos are two snipes and a Night Spear from the Knock Out, making it easier to hold your ground against such a fast deck. The other, though slightly less important, reason is that it lets Darkrai KO Keldeo or Mewtwo in two hits through Eviolite.
Tool Scrapper is rarely there when you need it, so including one of these babies can really give you an edge. Even so, three Eviolites is a good number to run, as many decks have only 1 Tool Scrapper in store, so with an extra Eviolite, you can save Darkrai from that Terrakion after the other two are destroyed by Tool Scrapper.
As many people have realized since its release, Gold Potion isn’t as terribly worse than Computer Search as people once thought. In this deck it is no different. The ability to heal 90 can make a huge difference, and, with Skyla already being a mini Computer Search, playing this card can be the right move.
The big advantage Computer Search has though is its ability to search out Supporters that you can use automatically, busting you out of a bad hand. Gold Potion really is useful, and whether or not you use it is totally up to the way you’re trying to play the deck and the general consistency of your list.
pokemon-paradijs.comIf you choose Computer Search over Gold Potion, 1 Max Potion can almost fill Gold’s spot. It lets you heal up a damage sponge, or reuse an attacker after retreating, starting at square 1 with 0 Energy. It can be very handy catching up after a slow start, with a Energyless active beat up by your opponents nasty attackers.
When you hit heads, this card can work wonders. The problem is its flippiness. When you’re already running hammers, throwing more risk in with SSU can be dangerous, even though it does heal, switch, and recycle energy when you hit heads.
SSU is especially strong when you start with a Landorus against their Keldeo/Blastoise, and need it removed.
This is a 1-of tech you could include to save you from special conditions or switch out attackers without D Energy, but requires an attachment, is difficult to attack with, and isn’t quite necessary at this time.
When Hypnotoxic Laser comes out, it may definitely become a strong choice, but until then, it may be best to just save it for later.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is one option you could use as a counter-Stadium against Tropical Beaches, and also helps your draws. There isn’t a lot of space, however, so while fitting one or two in would definitely be nice, it might not be too practical.
Again, it could be more useful in the future if Virbank City Gym, Plasma Frigate, or Frozen City become popular, but until then it won’t be able to counter much except Aspertia City Gym and Tropical Beach.
Super Rod is another 1-of that can be very helpful in this deck. With a smaller, yet necessary F Energy line, recycling them can be important. Also, with only 1 Mewtwo or Terrakion, a way of recovery can let you bring back old threats. As a 1-of, this card competes for its spot with another card, Switch.
You do run Darkrais, and Dark Cloak does ensure you a safe way to be retreating every turn, but what about those odd times when you have to retreat twice? Or when you’re Paralyzed? Or need to switch that Sableye for the turn 1 Hammerhead? Situations like these are where Switch comes in.
You won’t be using it every game, but neither will you use Super Rod every game. Both are rather circumstantial match-by-match, and I personally am using Switch right now. I find it to be more useful in situations where it can be used, but either one can be effective.
So here’s an example of a tricked-out list:
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 40
Energy – 12
7 D – Basic
Right away, you notice the lesser emphasis on Dark. 1 Darkrai, 1 Dark Patch, and 2 Hammers have been dropped, while a Terrakion has been added. This evens up the balance a bit, and instead of Landorus being a cumbersome back-up, he now is a main attacker next to Darkrai, able to use Land’s Judgement consistently every game if so needed, and able to serve more of a purpose than before.
Now I’ll go into card explanations not already mentioned, and after that touch on a few of this format’s common matchups.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt’s one of the best cards in the format. An amazing Ability, huge HP, a good support engine, and a powerful attack all make for some great decks based around him.
Without Darkrai, the deck can’t go anywhere. I don’t think I need to explain much, Darkrai’s just an irreplaceable part of the strategy.
You shouldn’t need more than 2, as Landorus-EX is also here, but running 3 isn’t a bad idea considering how good Darkrai is. Its only weakness is its Weakness, as it is destroyed be Terrakion and Landorus. But that’s what the rest of the deck is for.
People have argued that Landorus dilutes the strategy of Darkrai/Hammers. While it is true that adding Landorus messes the Hammertime strategy, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing because Landorus turns it into a whole new deck. It requires different strategy to run, and that is why I think people view it as lackluster in this deck.
What’s not to like? Landorus gives early game pressure, annihilates anything Eels, and has a strong attack that can take out anything already sniped if need be. It has excellent HP, and if not for Keldeo, would be taking the format by storm.
Another invaluable part of the Dark engine this deck uses. Junk Hunt is its biggest feature, allowing you to recycle two items of your choice for a single D Energy.
Without it, this deck would have a very hard time working, and it serves the role of a Hammer getter after you use them.
Many Hammertime lists choose to run 3 Sableye, but this version only runs 2. Two are all you generally need, but a third makes it easier to start with and can improve your ability to reuse Hammers.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt is the optimal Pokémon search card in the format. For 2 cards from your hand, you can search the deck for any Pokémon, reveal it, and put it into your hand.
Those two may seem like a drawback, but with Bianca in the deck, they can set you up for bigger draws and Dark Patches, and can help thin out your deck. 3-4 are necessary because they are the big search engine. Any less would be too inconsistent.
What’s a deck without this card? Not much. Pokémon Catcher lets you switch your opponent’s active with a benched Pokémon of your choice, allowing you to KO most anything your opponent can play, usually without much difficulty.
I’ve experimented with 3, but at the end of the day, this is the card that will make or break your game, and running 4 is a must.
This is the card that gives the Hammertime deck its power. MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” made the name cool, but everything else about the deck is already.
Crushing Hammer is, without a doubt, one of the top disruption cards of this format. While Hammertime tries to shut down its opponents by spamming Hammers, this deck uses them primarily to slow your opponent down and mess with their setup.
With increased Hammer lines than in the list given, this deck can also go for a Hammer-shutdown. Without Hammers, the deck is much worse, as can be seen by the less-than-fantastic results of straight Darkrai/Landorus.
Never underestimate the power of discarding Energy.
pokemon-paradijs.comAnother card vital to the deck, Energy Switch lets you threaten a turn 2 Land’s Judgement, which is no minor threat. It also makes Dark Patch stronger, letting you move the Energy to something more helpful, and lets you pull an X Ball or a Retaliate out of nowhere.
It’s a very good card in this sort of deck, and shouldn’t be overlooked. A fourth is also good.
The last 3-of item I’m running, Dark Patch lets you attach another energy during your turn, meaning Darkrai can be ready very quickly. An excellent card for speed, this is what makes turn 2, or even the rare turn 1 Night Spear possible in this format. 3 is pushing it, as running 4 is best in these decks.
With a nasty Weakness like Fighting, this card is essential. Darkrai gets an extra turn to survive Land Crushes, takes Hammerheads more easily, and can withstand Mewtwo better. Whether you run 3 or drop the third for a Dark Claw is up to you, but Eviolite is an essential card in this deck if you plan on staying alive.
This card comes into play when you need to score an essential KO on one of your opponent’s Eviolited EXs especially, often with a Land’s Judgement for 150 or to take out Darkrais with Retaliate. More than 1 isn’t really necessary, as there are only so many Tools your opponent could be running.
The larger-than-average number of Skylas in this deck may seem strange, but with a grand total of 40 Trainers, this card serves as a Supporter version of Computer Search, being able to grab Ultra Ball, Energy Search, or any other Trainer you may need at a moment’s notice.
“So how well does this deck perform in actual games?” you might ask. Let me tell you in this next section.
Keldeo-EX – 35/65 against youBlastoise/
I’ll start with the most difficult one. The Fighting half of your deck is 1HKO’d by Keldeo-EX, so no matter what, don’t drop the Landorus-EXs! Your only hope is to set up both Darkrais ASAP, and if you can outspeed their setup, you have a good shot at winning.
Dark Claw really shines in this matchup, but you have to hit a good starting 7 to have a chance. After you take out the Blastoises, there isn’t much they can do, so this matchup isn’t as bad as it seems on the surface.
Hammers aren’t as useful here, so don’t try to Hammerspam. The only way to win is to Night Spear à la Speed Darkrai and hope they miss the T2 Blastoise.
Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik – 65/35 in your favor
This is usually one of the easier matchups. Against these you need to keep an eye on the Rayquazas, Crushing Hammer the R Energies like no one’s business, and Hammerhead the Eelektriks into next week. If you let them get a good setup, you could run into trouble, so try to beat them to the punch.
If they do manage a setup, however, Darkrai can shine with the ability to 1-hit Eelektriks and can deal a good chunk of damage to their Rayquazas, setting you up for perfect numbers with Land’s Judgement. Or, with Dark Claw, puts them 2 snipes from the KO.
Landorus-EX is also helpful if you need to KO Rayquazas fast with a 150 Land’s Judgement after a snipe or take out Eelektriks through snipes and catchers with Hammerhead. Watch out for 1HKOs on your EXs, however, and attach Eviolites with care.
Keeping a conservative bench can also work in your favor, so that they have few targets to Dragon Burst against.
Hammertime – 60/40 in your favor
pokemon-paradijs.comThe Landoruses give you an edge over them, so play your F Energies conservatively and don’t let them discard all 5. Land’s Judgement and Night Spear 1HKO Sableyes, which is good to have, so never underestimate the power of your own Darkrais.
Darkrai EX/Hydreigon – 60/40 in your favor
Many Darkrai/Hydreigon run Prisms, so if you can hammer them all away, Keldeo won’t be as much of a threat. The best way to go is early game pressure, and don’t be afraid to Land’s Judgement a Hydreigon for 150 at the cost of your energy.
If you get a bad setup to their good one, you’ll be fighting a losing battle, and when going for KOs, finishing them in one turn is best because of all the Max Potions Darkrai/Hydreigon lists run.
Standard Eels – 75/25 in your favor
This is probably your best matchup. If you don’t donk them, you still run over their entire board with Landorus. Tornadus EX and whatnot will throw things off , but there shouldn’t be too much trouble here.
Darkrai EX is not to be neglected; Night Spear does greater damage than Hammerhead, and can definitely be used before Land’s Judgement is ready.
Hammers won’t do you much good here save against DCE, as L Energy can be recycled with Eelektrik. If you do get a slow start and play recklessly, you’ll still lose, so don’t lower your guard.
Ho-Oh EX – 45/55 against you
pokemon-paradijs.comDespite what some may think, a solid Ho-Oh deck can really throw you off. With the variety of attackers, including Landorus-EX and Bouffalant, a Ho-Oh deck with a good setup can out-damage you handily. Crushing Hammers aren’t as effective in this matchup because of rebirth, but Enhanced Hammer gets some time to shine against DCE.
Try to be attacking every turn and try to put pressure on them from early on with Darkrai, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to pull off a win. Landorus is best used against Bouffalant early game if they open with one, but after things start up, Terrakion is more useful.
Klinklang Variants – 70/30 your favor
If you can get out those Enhanced Hammers early on, this matchup should be a snap. Junk Hunt early game and Hammer like there’s no tomorrow. After you’ve cleaned them out a little, you can sweep most everything with Darkrai or Landorus.
If some Hammers are Prized, play it like you would against a Darkrai/Hydreigon.
Gold Potion; 45/55 against you withoutQuad Sigilyph – 55/45 in your favor with
Wait, Gold Potion? Am I serious? The truth of the matter is, you usually can’t win by killing things. You almost have to stall. Slap an Eviolite on Sableye, grab your Hammers, and get rolling. With a steady healing every turn, you can stall them to the deck out.
Your field should just be 2 Sableyes with Eviolites and D Energies, and a loaded Darkrai in case of Mewtwo. Best of three matches are especially difficult with the limited clock, so in the second game aggressive Terrakion can do you good if it is fast enough.
pokemon-paradijs.comWith a steady stream of Hammers and heals, this matchup won’t get too crazy. The worst they can do is N you at a critical time, and with a Tool Scrapper and a PlusPower take your Sableyes go down. If both fall, it’s Terrakion or bust.
Without Gold Potion, you are in a really bad situation. The way to do it would be to hammer for all you are worth, and hope they can’t be ready for Terrakion. Not much you can do, especially when they’re also swinging with Mewtwo.
Hammers are very useful here, going all out with them can pay off as Sigilyph doesn’t have an easy way to come out of nowhere with Psychic, and limiting the Energy can be a very strong way to shut them down.
Darkrai is very good for attacking Mewtwo, but having a Catcher ready is important as Darkrai can’t do much of anything against Sigilyph. The old 2 snipes and a Dark Claw could work here, if you can keep an eye on the damage accumulated on your sniper.
Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX – 40/60 against you
Landorus/Mewtwo is a very fast deck, so the main problem here will be trying to keep up. The idea is to pit Landorus against Landorus, and Darkrai against Mewtwo, but when their Landorus hits for double against your Mewtwo counter, things can get messy. A good setup can pull off a win for you, but you’ll be on your toes the whole game.
The first Prize is the most important, because it will be going back and forth, usually with the taker of the first (two) winning.
Because this is an EX fight, Terrakion is especially helpful with making them take 7 Prizes. Hammers can help, but don’t try to rely on them unless they get a slow start.
Thanks for reading this far, sorry if this article was a little slow sometimes but I hope you enjoyed it. I feel that Landorus/Darkrai/Hammers can be a very good deck with the right player and build, but at the same time, can flop horribly with too many mistakes in the list.
I’m not claiming my list is the best, because it really relies entirely on which techs you use, and the metagame of your area. One of the beauties of this deck is its extreme versatility as for how you can build it, and the way matches can go either way depending on a few cards.
I hope the article wasn’t too long or too much of a mind-grinder, and thanks again for reading!