The Triforce of the Metagame

feature match pokemon leagueSince every single deck in the current format has been analyzed in the Underground and I don’t have anything new to offer when it comes to decklist analysis. However, that’s where I got an idea – I decided to do something completely new – an article focused completely on the matchups of the top tier decks.

I would have loved to make the article in a video format, but as I don’t have a video camera (yet), I can only dream about that. However, I promise that one day I’ll make a video article for SixPrizes and you’ll hear my horrendous English grammar combined with my funny Finnish accent.

I believe that this topic will be useful for everyone since even though the U.S. doesn’t have any Cities left, there will be still international Cities, U.S. Regionals, and my main tournament of the early year – The European Challenge Cup (ECC).

All these tournaments will still be held in the BLW–BCR format, thus making this article very relevant to anyone who wants to have a huge boost in Championship Points before the new set is released.

After a lot of metagame research and playtesting I was able to locate the Triforce of the current metagame. (Yes, I’m a Zelda fan.)

I think the adjectives of the Triforce fit into these decks’ current positions in the metagame pretty well.

It’s wise to play Darkrai EX, in my opinion, because it has all around even matchups in the format. At the same time, Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is the most powerful deck of the format when it comes to the pure damage output. Last but not least, you must be courageous to play Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX in a metagame which is filled with Blastoise/Keldeo-EXs, but if you play it correctly, good things can happen!

link zelda

The idea of this article is to cover the matchups between these decks, not all of the matchups of these decks because if I were to analyze every matchup, this article would be something like 30,000 words.

I hope everyone is happy with the decks I chose as I wanted to cover the popluar matchups and I believe that these 3 deck variants cover over 60% of the current metagame.

With each deck, I’ll first show you the standard list which I used to test the most matchups with. The basic list is just for a reference for you guys and gals, so you know what kind of lists I tested with. They aren’t necessarily the card-for-card lists I would play in a tournament.

Second, I’ll list the optional techs for the deck, which I also tested in order to unbalance the regular matchup percentages. Last, but not least, I’ll get to the matchups analysis, which will include lots of in-depth analysis, from single card choices to playmaking decisions.

There are simply so many things to be taken into account when discussing the matchups that if I miss anything, I hope you will share it with the SixPrizes Underground community by commenting on this article’s discussion topic.

Also, one more thing! I’ll be departing to Tokyo, Japan the very same day as this article will be released, and even though the main focus of the trip isn’t Pokémon TCG, I’ll probably visit a local Gym Challenge and play 1-2 tournaments in Japan with my outdated deck in their format.

I hope I will get lots of new information and experience from Japan to share with you guys in both the Underground and my blog. Anyway, as this this article will be all about analysis and will probably become a very lengthy article once again, I’ll get to the first deck now!

Table of Contents

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Deck #1 – Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

landorus ex boundaries crossed 89In my last article I talked about this deck a lot. In fact, my last article solely discussed Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX. It was the most Cities winning deck at that point, but things have changed. As usual, metagame shifts are very quick in the City Championships and this season was no exception.

As soon as Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX climbed to the top of the format, Blastoise/Keldeo-EX immediately became more popular thus taking the top spot of the format from Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX thanks to Landorus-EX’s Weakness to Water.

However, that doesn’t mean that Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX is completely irrelative in the current format – quite the opposite. It still belongs to tier 1 and has good matchups against everything aside from Blastoise/Keldeo-EX.

Here’s the basic list I used in most games for the analysis of this article.

The Basic List

Pokémon – 9

4 Landorus-EX
3 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Terrakion NVI
1 Bouffalant DRX

Trainers – 39

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Bianca
2 Skyla


4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Switch
3 Energy Switch
3 Eviolite
3 PlusPower
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Potion
1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

8 F
4 Double Colorless

Optional Cards

See my last article for all the techs you need to know for Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX.


It’s good to remember that I already analyzed all of Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX’s matchups in my latest article. That’s why I won’t go in to the overall matchups with this deck, but instead get straight to the single plays and card choices that make or break the game.

A. Mirror

Key Card Cards

eviolite-noble-victories-nvi-91-no-watermarkPlusPowers and Eviolites are the two cards that make all the difference in this matchup. The matchup is often decided by Mewtwo EX as Landorus-EX isn’t that good against another Landorus-EX nor Mewtwo EX. This often leads the game into a Mewtwo EX war or Mewtwo EX vs. Landorus-EX type matchup.

And as you know, Mewtwo EX has the advantage in the matchup, especially if it has Eviolite attached to it. Hammerhead is completely useless against an Eviolited Mewtwo EX, while Mewtwo EX can be very effective against Landorus-EX.

The PlusPowers help this matchup in situations where you face a Mewtwo EX that has two Energy attached to it. You can’t 1HKO it with DCE X Ball, but with PlusPower, you are able to 1HKO it.

You absolutely don’t want to attach 3 Energy to your Mewtwo EX as you can be sure that your opponent will take advantage of getting a 1HKO on your Mewtwo EX with their 2 Energy Mewtwo EX.

Energy management is highly important in this matchup’s Mewtwo EX war since you don’t have any way to accelerate Energy onto your Mewtwo EX. However, it’s key to note that the advantage you can get with PlusPower can be countered, again with Eviolite.

The more you run Eviolites and PlusPowers in your deck, the more useful resources you have for this matchup. Not to mention that where Eviolites are good, Tool Scrappers are important as well.

Early Game vs. Mirror

mewtwo-ex-next-destinies-nde-54The reason why I think this is one of the healthiest matchups of the format is that it can’t be decided in the early game. That’s thanks to no Stage Pokémon in this deck. There are no weak Basics that can be 1HKO’d in the early game and that you can take cheap Prizes from in the mid and late game.

Even though Landorus-EX isn’t the best attacker in this matchup, it’s often the Pokémon you want to open with. The reason? It can make your opponent’s Pokémon weaker for the mid game, thus negating the effects of Eviolites.

You will be thankful for early turn Hammerheads later on in the game, when you don’t have the resources to get 3 Energy on your Mewtwo EX.

One interesting question considering the early game is whether to play Mewtwo EXs to the bench in the early game or not. This depends on whether your opponent starts with Landorus-EX or with another attacker.

If you play all your Mewtwo EXs down in the early game and your opponent starts using Hammerhead from T1 onwards, all your Mewtwo EXs will be in range of 2 Energy X Ball KOs and that’s something you must avoid in this matchup.

However, if you don’t play your Mewtwo EXs down in the early game, it can be difficult to find them in the late game.

Overall, I would advise playing Mewtwo EXs in the early game as soon as you get access to them. If you have an Eviolite, remember to attach it to your Mewtwo EX in case of Hammerhead, but if your opponent isn’t attacking with Landorus-EX, don’t waste your Eviolites on Mewtwo EXs – at least in the early game – as they can become a Tool Scrapper fodder at that point.

Mid Game vs. Mirror

professor-juniper-black-white-blw-101pokemon-paradijs.comMid game is the time period where the most Prize exchanges happen. Mewtwo EX wars only take 2-3 turns and both players will have drawn 4 Prize cards, which will mean it’s already time for late game.

The mid game is all about resource management in this matchup. You must get rid of all cards that you won’t be needing in the matchup in preparation for your opponent’s late game Ns. At the same time you must wisely use all the important resources that are the keys for winning this matchup (Eviolites, PlusPowers, Ns, Catchers, and Switches).

Professor Juniper is the key card in your resource management. There are two big reasons why you should save Junipers in the mid game.

  1. You’ll need them after the late game Ns.
  2. You too easily destroy precious resources with Juniper.

Especially the point number two is often underrated among players. You might be tempted to Juniper away because you can use Juniper and it “thins” you deck. This is a completely wrong mentality because soon you’ll notice that the “deck-thinning” didn’t give you any advantage and you don’t have any important cards left in your deck to draw in the late game!

Too often players blow through Junipers and when needing the Catcher to win the game, notice that they have already discarded all their Catchers. I don’t if this playing style is an ancient relic from the Junk Arm times, where you didn’t really need to count your cards as you had 8 cards of every Item in your deck thanks to Junk Arm.

Late Game vs. Mirror

pokemon-catcher-dark-explorers-dex-111pokemon-paradijs.comThe positive thing about this matchup is that no matter the opening hands of each player, the matchup usually goes to the so-called “late game.” The term late game is a bit misleading in this format because often it can be something like turn 5-6 and both players are at 1 or 2 Prizes.

For example in season 2004-2005 season, on T5 it might have very well been that players hadn’t even drawn any Prize cards!

Anyway, just like most matchups in this format, the late game Ns once again make all the difference in the world. Early game and mid game both have a really big effect on the late game. If you haven’t played your Mewtwo EXs down in the early game, you might have trouble getting Mewtwo EXs and DCEs on them in the late game.

The same goes with resource management in the mid game. If you don’t do your resource management in the late game well enough, you’ll more probably draw trash from late game Ns.

Late game N are the most effective when you make your opponent go to 1 Prize card. This happens with attacking either with Bouffalant DRX, Terrakion NVI, or any other non-EX attacker. I favor Bouffalant in this matchup because it’s such a strong attacker. It 2HKOs every EX in the format, even if they have Eviolite attached.

And if they don’t KO your Bouffalant, it will win you the game. However, be sure not to play any other non-Pokémon-EX on your bench after Bouffalant is KO’d.

One thing which I’ve noticed that has lead into many victories in this matchup are the late game Catchers on your opponent’s Landorus-EXs. You don’t want to play any Landorus-EXs down during the game after the first two turns unless you’re forced to.

Late game Catchers on Landorus-EXs – when you have burned all your Switches – can turn the whole game upside down, because if you can’t retreat your Landorus-EX from the Active Spot, your opponent’s Mewtwo EX can take two easy Prizes off it when you try to attach Energy and retreat.

Pro Tip vs. Mirror

Remember the rule of “7 Prizes.” With a deck like this, you have the possibility to force your opponent draw 7 Prizes instead of 6, and in order to succeed with the deck you must take advantage of that. This also allows you to force your opponent into 1 card Ns.

Combine these two and you’ll have a chance against any deck.

B. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

Key Cards

gold-potion-boundaries-crossed-140trollandtoad.comThe ACE SPEC decision is important in here because your only attacker that can stand the 1HKO threat from Keldeo-EXs is Mewtwo EX. If your metagame is filled with Blastoise/Keldeo-EX, I suggest at least trying Gold Potion instead of Computer Search.

Why? Since that can save you the one potential turn your Mewtwo EX would be otherwise KO’d by Keldeo-EX.

It’s good to also not to forget about PlusPowers and Eviolite, which also play a big role in the matchup. Keldeo-EX has a HP of 170, so the extra 10 damage you can get off from PlusPower, makes or breaks the game in some situations.

Also, with Eviolite, you make it almost impossible for Keldeo-EX to 1HKO your Mewtwo EX, unless they use over half of their Energy on one Keldeo-EX.

Early Game vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

There really isn’t anything you can affect in the early game of this matchup. It all comes down to the openers of each deck. You want to open with Landorus-EX if they start with Squirtle and you want to start with Mewtwo EX if they start with Keldeo-EX.

It’s funny that you’ll want to open with Landorus-EX from time to time since it’s Weak to Water, but the fact that you can damage your opponent’s Keldeo-EXs at the same time as you are able to 2HKO their Squirtles makes it advantageous.

Naturally in this matchup you want to get rid of their Squirtles in order to kill their Energy accelerators. Most easily this is done with a 3 Energy Mewtwo EX.

However, in most games, they will be able to evolve their Squirtles into Blastoises and after that you can forget about the Blastoises and just concentrate on getting the Prize cards from their Pokémon-EX.

This also leads into an interesting discussion – is it worth sacrificing hits into Squirtles in the early game if you must still get 6 Prizes from the EXs?

By killing one Squirtle on the second turn and then attacking on EXs, you have not only burned your resources in vain, but you also have lead yourself into the “7 Prizes dilemma.” And you must try to avoid this as much as possible.

However, the question remains, whether to try attack Squirtles and kill their setup or just avoid the Squirltes and focus on getting the 6 Prizes off their EX attackers.

The answer lies on their Bench. If they seem to have an OK opening hand and play down 2 Squirtles in the early game, ignore the Squirtles and focus on the EXs. However, if they only have 1 Squirtle on the Bench, it’s worth KOing it and force them to play another 2 Squirtles on the Bench, which lets you take the 2nd Prize off a Squirtle.

After that it really doesn’t matter if they get the Blastoise in play because all you have to do after that is KO 2 EXs and you have the game.

Mid Game vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

Mewtwo_in_armor giovanniBulbapediaMid game can be considered the point where they get Blastoise into play. After that you need to focus on getting KOs on Keldeo-EXs and in the best case scenario force them into a Mewtwo EX war with you.

Why is the Mewtwo EX war the best-case scenario for you? Since you have the best chance of beating them in the Mewtwo EX war because they won’t have a chance to abuse their SSU/other healing cards.

This is due the fact that Mewtwo EX war is your game, whereas if you aren’t able to get them into a Mewtwo EX war, you have to play their game against Keldeo-EXs and healing cards, which will lead into a very difficult game for you.

Usually you don’t want to attach more than 2 Energy to your Mewtwo EXs because that way there only option to 1HKO your Mewtwo EX is either use their Mewtwo EX with 3 Energy (which will be very good for you); or attach 6 Energy to Keldeo-EX (which will be easy to 1HKO as well with Mewtwo EX and PlusPower).

Late Game vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

As you probably know by now, Blastoise/Keldeo-EXs biggest weakness is the 1-2 card Ns. If you 1HKO their main attacker at the same time as N them down to 1-2 cards, two things can happen.

  1. They either draw dead and you have a chance of beating them once and for all.
  2. They draw the Juniper/Bianca and just attack with another Keldeo-EX or Mewtwo EX.

You can’t really control the late game because it’s all about whether they draw into cards and what cards you draw into. You just have to remember to manage your resources correctly in the early and mid game while not playing any additional Landorus-EXs on your bench.

From Kettler’s report you can read what happens when Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX plays carelessly against Blastoise/Keldeo-EX and plays down Landorus-EXs on the bench.

Pro Tip vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

Never play a 2nd Landorus-EX on your bench.

C. Darkrai EX/Stuff

Since there are two different Darkrai EX variants roaming around, I’ll need to do analysis of both Darkrai EX variants, Darkrai EX/Techs and Hammertime.

Key Cards

terrakion-full-art-noble-victories-nvi-99-no-watermarkTerrakion NVI, PlusPower, and Tool Scrapper. When you combine these three cards, you have the keys to win any Darkrai EX variant.

Even though Landorus-EX is a Fighting type Pokémon, it isn’t as good of an attacker against Darkrai EX as you would think it is. With Hammerhead you 3-4HKO Darkrai EX and with Land’s Judgment you can only 2HKO Darkrai EX (without the discard).

One more card that is very strong against Darkrai EX variants is Bouffalant DRX. It 2HKOs Darkrai EX even with an Eviolite attached to it while Darkrai EX has no real way to 1HKO a Bouffalant. This non-EX attacker exchange for an EX-attacker is something you want to do in every single game you face a Darkrai EX variant.

Super Rod and Energy Retrieval are otherwise bad cards in the deck, but they are very strong against Hammertime if Hammertime decides to go with the Hammerspam strategy.

If your field is filled with Hammertime players that use Hammerspam strategy, these cards will surprise them and win you the games. Not to mention that the both cards may prove to be useful from time to time in other matchups as well.

Early Game vs. Darkrai EX/Techs

Even though Landorus-EX isn’t a super card in this matchup, you want to open with it. It can do X2 damage into Darkrai EX and 60 damage isn’t bad on the first turn. The Bench damage you are able to do with Hammerhead in the first few turns, when Darkrai EX deck prepares their attacker, will also be very valuable in the mid game.

Early Game vs. Hammertime

I need to quote my last article for this:

This matchup is all about strategy and the players playing the game pretty much decide the game (alongside a few flips). The keys to the matchups are on Hammertime players’ side and Landorus/Mewtwo just needs to react to the strategy the Hammertime player chooses.

The same goes with the early game. You just need to react to whatever Hammertime has up their sleeve. In my opinion, a skilled Hammertime player will destroy Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX with the Hammerspam strategy no matter what the Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX player does.

There is no way you get enough damage on Sableyes with your attackers before you’ll run out of Energy if they keep Hammerspamming. All you can do is to play wisely and never attack on Sableyes if they have an Eviolite attached to them.

You must make the most out of every single Energy you have and if you keep Hammerheading for 10 damage, your opponent will destroy you. In order to win the Hammerspam, you must also NOT to play any other attacker than Landorus-EX to play until you run out of F Energy.

Mid Game vs. Darkrai EX/Techs and Hammertime

tool scrapper dragons exalted drx 116pokemon-paradijs.comYour optional attackers play a huge role in here as well in the matchup in general. A correctly timed Terrakion plays a huge role in this matchup and it can help you make a comeback from even a 3 Prize deficit.

One thing you must be aware of is that it’s no use to attack with Terrakion into a Darrkai EX that has an Eviolite attached to it. If you Retaliate 160 into a Darkrai EX, it will very often backfire.

In Big Basic EX mirrors like this, the order of the attackers is very important, and if they are able to damage your Terrakion before you get a 1HKO with it, you’ll be in trouble.

This is what makes the matchup very interesting. Some may think that the only thing that matters in this format is who can attack first, but in this matchup the first attacker doesn’t usually have the advantage. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.

A few of the games I have played and watched, the formula has often been the same: the other player goes first and gets a T2 Night Spear.

Even though the pressure is on the second going player, he gets the Retalite KO on T3, which then clears the table of the Darkrai EX player, which can – in the worst/best case scenario – lead into Terrakion getting 4 Prizes before getting KO’d.

This way the Terrakion player has the 3-4 Prize advantage and it’s time for the late game.

Late Game Play – Darkrai EX/Techs and Hammertime

darkrai ex dark explorers dex 107pokemon-paradijs.comHammertime has often used up all the Hammers in the late game, so it isn’t a huge factor in the game at this point. This is why they both can be put in the same category when it comes to the late game.

The draws from the late game Ns aren’t that big a factor in this matchup as in the other top tier matchups. The reason for this is that usually these both decks have the resources in play at this point of the game.

However, the advantage in the late game is usually on Darkrai EXs side, because they can load their Darkrai EXs in the middle of the game and usually have various attackers for the late game.

What you should be doing with Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX is saving your Switches and Energy Switches for the late game. At the same time you must be aware of how many Catchers your opponent has used.

These matchups often come down to late Catchers instead of late game Ns. And it’s often the Darkrai EX player that uses the Catcher to take the last Prizes, not you. Instead of Catchers, you should be saving DCEs for the late game X Balls (and retreating) so you can match the various Darkrai EXs that come to you.

Usually you don’t have an access to Terrakion this late in the game (due Ns or just due the fact that all your Terrakion are KO’d), and using Mewtwo EX’s X Ball to 2HKO your opponent’s Darkrai EXs is the best bet for you in the late game.

Just avoid attaching DCEs in the early and mid-game unnecessarily. In the end, it’s once again all about resource management.

Pro Tip vs. Darkrai EX/Stuff

Ganku_TerrakionDon’t get too aggressive and remember to attack at points where you are able to do real damage. For example, there is no point of attacking an Eviolited Darkrai EX with Retaliate if you aren’t able to 1HKO them and they have another attacker ready to attack.

This would give them a possibility to use their Max Potion (which you should avoid) and give them the advantage of the first effective attack.

Deck #2 – Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

The Basic List

Pokémon – 12

4 Squirtle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
3 Keldeo-EX
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

4 Skyla
3 Bianca


4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Rare Candy
2 Energy Retrieval
2 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search


2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 14

14 W

Optional Cards


A. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

Key Cards

tropical-beach-black-white-promos-bw28pokemon-paradijs.comIf this matchup wasn’t already a very strong matchup for Blastoise/Keldeo-EX, all you have to do with Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is to get a decent setup and you have the advantage. This happens by making your deck consistent with Tropical Beach and Computer Search.

Not to mention the tech Jay used in his list (Sigilyph DRX) will also make the matchup even more of an auto-win. As long as you have a consistent list that endures the late game Ns, you’ll have a good shot at this game.

Early Game vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

You want to open with Keldeo-EX and Squirtle on the bench. This way Hammerhead does only 30 damage thanks to Squirtle’s Ability. However, if you’re forced to open with Squirtle as your Active Pokémon, you should concentrate on getting the Blastoise in play no matter what the cost. This matchup is so positive for Blastoise/Keldeo-EX that you are easily able to come back from a 1-2 Prize deficit.

You can make sure you get the Blastoise in play by laying down two Squirtles at a time if you aren’t able to open with Squirtle in this matchup. Even if the opponent is able to KO your opening Squirtle, and the other of the two Squirtles KO’d, you’ll still get the Blastoise in play.

As Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX has no way of getting a clean KO on your Blastoise, you’re pretty safe with only 1 Blastoise in play. The only way for them to 1HKO your Blastoise is to use Land’s Judgement, but at that point you will not only get 2 easy Prizes off the Landorus-EX, but they will also have no Energy on the field while you have attackers loaded.

At that point of the game you don’t even need another Blastoise as you’re able to win the game with the Keldeo-EXs you have in play.

Mid and Late Game vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

keldeo ex 142 boundaries crossed bcr full artAvoid playing down Mewtwo EXs and you’re fine. In the best case scenario, you’re able to get the first 2 Prizes from a Landorus-EX, and then load a 7 Energy Keldeo-EX and a 3 Energy Mewtwo EX to the bench.

Just remember that no matter the start, don’t get into the trap of 1-card N unless you’re absolutely forced to it. Even Tropical Beach doesn’t save you after the N, because it’s very possible that they have another N up on their sleeve.

There is one huge problem with Blastoise. As soon as you see Energy in your hand, you want to play it down. Usually you can just play them down to your Keldeo-EXs as you wish, but in this matchup you want to concentrate the Energy in order to win the game.

As I said, you want to force them into a Mewtwo EX war, which you start by first KOing their Mewtwo EX with Keldeo-EX. Before going down to 1-2 Prizes with the overloaded Keldeo-EX, make sure you have at least 2 Energy on your benched Mewtwo EX.

If you have managed your resources correctly, you’ll probably draw the one additional Energy required to get the 1HKO on your opponent’s 2 Energy Mewtwo EX, which is able to 1HKO your overloaded Keldeo-EX.

One way I’ve seen this matchup played is to use Blastoise/Keldeo-EX just like against any other matchup. Switching Keldeo-EXs and relying on your healing cards and SSUs or sometimes even challenging Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX into a Mewtwo EX war.

In my opinion, there is no point into playing this matchup with the standard strategy because that way you’ll give them an option to win the game if you draw badly from late game Ns. It’s the same with every deck – don’t get lured into “their” game, but follow the strategy that’s best for you.

Pro Tip vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

Never bench only one Squirtle per turn (except on T1), if you don’t already have a Blastoise in play.

B. Mirror

Early Game vs. Mirror

squirtle squard ep012BulbapediaOk, to be honest, the early game of this matchup is one of the most horrifying moments in the current format. The player going first has a too big of an advantage. The player who goes first is able to destroy the other player’s setup completely if they get a T2 Blastoise and are able to Catcher their opponent’s Squirtles.

If you are able to get your Blastoise before your opponent, you’ll always have the advantage because you have the option to destroy their Energy accelerators and then concentrate on the attackers.

You can pretty much ignore the only attacker they manually attach Energy to in the early game as they can’t attach too many Energy to it. If they do, you can just get an easy KO off their overloaded attacker with your Mewtwo EX and have a humongous lead.

The pressure that the player who gets the setup first is able to put on the opponent never really wears off in this matchup.

Mid and Late Game vs. Mirror

In mirror matchups, there is rarely anything too special you can do because the decks are identical. The same goes with this matchup.

Too often the game is already decided in the early game, and the only difference that can be made in this matchup is in the mid game when the players have an equal setup.

If they do have an equal setup, the matchup is all about who gets to draw the cards they need in order to win the game. From Energy, to healing cards, to SSU flips.

I don’t really enjoy playing this matchup for the factors mentioned above – most of them are completely based on luck and the skill between players rarely decided these matchups.

Another good example is once again the late game Ns. You can make the comeback in this matchup by N’ing the opponent, but once again it all comes down to if they draw Supporter from the N or not.

Even though you can affect the probabilities with resource managements, it’s usually pure luck if you draw into the remaining 2-4 Supporters you have left.

Pro Tip vs. Mirror

Be careful with Tropical Beach. Don’t play it down in the middle game if you are in a Prize deficit, as it will ruin your late game Ns. Remember that if you play Tropical Beach in the early game, it will very probably stay in play during the whole game and may help your opponent a lot more than yourself.

C. Darkrai EX/Techs and Hammertime

In this matchup, there is no real difference between the Hammertime and Darkrai EX/Techs variant matchups since Blastoise is an Energy acceleration deck. Enhanced Hammers are completely useless against most Blastoise lists, and Crushing Hammers doesn’t have much effect at all either (unless Hammertime hits 100% heads).

Key Cards

pokemon center next destinies nde 90pokemon-paradijs.comPokémon Center is one of the key cards in this matchup which makes the matchup very favorable for Blastoise/Keldeo-EX. Pokémon Center pretty much negates all the damage that Night Spear does to the Benched Pokémon and allow you to Switch your Keldeo-EXs around while healing them at the same time.

Darkrai EX decks don’t have any real way to 1HKO you, so the upper hand you’re able to get with Pokémon Center is often too big to handle for any Darkrai EX variant.

If your metagame is filled with Darkrai EX variants, you can go overboard and play Gold Potion. Gold Potion combined with Pokémon Center alone is able to destroy any Darkrai EX variant.

Early Game vs. Darkrai EX/Stuff

Just like against Landorus-EX variants, you want to have 2 Squirtles on your bench at the same time before setting up the Blastoise. Darkrai EX gets their setup very quickly and all you have to do as a “slower” Stage deck is to get your Blastoise up as soon as possible.

However, unlike in Landorus-EX matchup, your Blastoises aren’t safe and you should not be happy when getting one Blastoise setup.

You have to aim at setting up 2 Blastoises and play down more Squirtles as soon as you start attacking with your Keldeo-EXs. This is the only way for you to be able to set up the 2 Blastoises you need to win the game.

Mid Game vs. Darkrai EX/Stuff

In the mid game you must make sure that you burn through your resources as soon as possible. When playing this matchup, all the Energy you are able to attach to your Pokémon in the early and mid game are all the more precious for you in the late game.

Darkrai EX variants won’t have a chance against you unless they N you in the late game and that’s why they will always aim at N’ing you when you’re down to 2-3 Prizes. However, the more Energy you have attached to your field, the better chance you have in the late game.

blastoise boundaries crossed 31ebay.comEven though I say that 2 Blastoises are enough for you to win the game and have sufficient Energy acceleration, some players may choose a strategy to aim at your Blastoises with their Night Spears even if you have setup two of them.

At that point, don’t panic and try to get 3rd Blastoise into play. If they aim at your non-Pokémon-EX at the same time you’re hitting their EXs with a full-force, when they have KO’d your Blastoises you’ve likely already ended the game or are 1 Prize away from winning the game with a bunch of Energy accelerated attackers.

Even though KOing Energy accelerators may work against Eelektrik, it doesn’t work against Blastoise decks. Reason? Your attacks don’t discard the Energy. This is the fundamental difference which explains why Reshiboar was a fluke and Blastoise/Keldeo-EX a pure-blooded top tier deck.

This is probably also the very reason why Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is doing so well at the moment, and people still aren’t completely comfortable when playing against it since it’s a “new type” of Energy acceleration deck (even though it’s actually the oldest form of Energy acceleration in the game).

Late Game vs. Darkrai EX/Stuff

Once again it all comes down to the resource management and late game Ns. Darkrai EX never gets as much advantage out of Tropical Beach as you in the late game, so I suggest that whenever you draw a Tropical Beach, play it.

If you hesitate when drawing the Tropical Beach, it can cost you the game in this matchup if you draw completely dead from a late game N and your opponent is able to destroy your attacker at the same time.

The tricks to make the probabilities from drawing something from the late game Ns are pretty simple with Blastoise in this matchup. You can pretty brainlessly attach Energy to your different attackers, as you will be Rushing In a lot and use all of your attackers.

That’s why Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is such a strong deck especially in this matchup – you can play your own game and attach Energy around while using Supporters like a mad man. Darkrai EX has no ways to 1HKO any of your attackers, so it really doesn’t matter what your opponent does – all you have to do is take 6 Prizes before your opponent manages to do that.

And how does that happen? Via retreating, Rush In, and using heal cards whenever your attacker is damaged.

Pro Tip vs. Darkrai EX/Stuff

blastoise hydro pumptumblr.comDon’t underestimate the Blastoise option. With only 3 Energy, Blastoise is able to hit for 90 damage and from time to time attacking with Blastoise (especially in the late game when your opponent has used all his/her Catchers) will win you games.

Whenever you are in a tough spot, count your opponent’s Catchers and see if you can make the difference by attacking with Blastoise – 1 Prize is always less than 2 Prizes.

Deck #3 – Darkrai EX/Stuff

The Basic List

The list is a very basic Darkrai EX variant without many techs, but I will discuss all the Darkrai EX variants that are out there from Hammertime to Hydreigon/Darkrai EX. In the end, Darkrai EX is probably the best EX out there thus having the most variants built around it.

Pokémon – 8

4 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Sableye DEX
1 Terrakion NVI

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Bianca

1 Skyla
1 Random Receiver


4 Ultra Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Dark Patch
3 Energy Switch
3 Eviolite
2 PlusPower
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Energy Search
1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search

Energy – 14

10 D
4 F

Other Builds

  • Hammertime
  • Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX
  • Hydreigon/Darkrai EX
  • Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX


A. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

Early Game with Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

landorusfilb.deFirst of all, Landorus-EX is completely useless in here. Your game isn’t over if you open with it, but after the first few turns, it will be become completely useless in this matchup.

Your opponent will probably focus more on Mewtwo EX and Terrakion or Bouffalant in this matchup and may only use Landorus-EX in the early game just like you. However, thanks to Night Spear, you’ll have the advantage all the time since you’re able to hit the Bench even after the early turn Hammerheads.

The Big Basic deck’s early turns are very interesting because there is almost an unlimited amount of variation and how the early turns could turn out to be, especially in this matchup, where you’re often forced to choose one strategy over another due the Pokémon you start with.

If you open with Landorus-EX, you want to attack with it the first few turns, if you open with Darkrai EX, you want to retreat it into a Sableye as soon as possible, and if you open with Mewtwo EX… well it depends what your opponent opens with!

Mid and Late Game with Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

ash vs mewtwoI encourage Darkrai EX players to engage a Mewtwo EX war in this matchup for the first 2-4 Prizes. The reason behind this is that the Mewtwo EX war doesn’t eat your resources as much as it eats Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EXs resources.

They have to use all of their DCEs and PlusPowers in order to survive the Mewtwo EX wars, because they don’t have any way to Energy accelerate their attackers. This will force them into Junipering, which lead into lots of resources going to waste as they try to hit the cards they need.

At the same time Darkrai EX deck can use the Juniper as well, but there is a difference. You have Dark Patches, they don’t. So, even if your opponent has the advantage in the Mewtwo EX war, you can just N them, switch back to Night Spearing and all they have is 1-2 cards from the N and 2 Energy on their Mewtwo EX.

This will very often give you the advantage in the game, even if you’re in a Prize deficit and the opponent has had the lead all the time. What you must avoid to the very end of this game is to make yourself vulnerable by benching unnecessary Pokémon (like extra Mewtwo EX) that are difficult to retreat, but easy to KO.

Pro Tip with Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

If in the Mewtwo EX war and you’re transitioning into Night Spearing, remember to retreat with the DCE you might have attached to your Mewtwo EX in the earlier stages of the game.

This will make getting easy Prizes very difficult for your opponent’s Mewtwo EXs and mess up his/her calculations as your opponent may have thought that if you retreated, you’ll always have the D Energy attached to your Pokémon for zero Retreat Cost.

Early Game with Hammertime vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

gary oak winnerYou are the king of this matchup. If you have enough healing cards and Eviolites and Sableyes in your deck and nerves of steel, you can just go Hammerspamming and Catchering so much that eventually they will run out of Energy.

The best thing is that you only need to discard about 10 Energy and you’re ready to take the Prize cards. With the remaining two Energy cards, your opponent is unable to win you and believe me, it isn’t difficult to discard 10 Energy cards against Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX.

The key to Hammerspam is of course Sableye and Junk Hunt. When playing with Hammertime you often run at least 3 Sableyes, but I like running 4 of them in case of difficult Hammerspam matchups like Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX.

Getting a T1 Hammerspam is very important and you must try to get both Hammers into discard piles as soon as possible. Thanks to Skyla and Computer Search this is easier than ever and is often done on T2.

You must not forget that an important part of Hammerspam is Catchers. Especially against Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX, which is filled with huge retreat Pokémon, you have a great chance of getting an advantage by Catchering cards like Mewtwo EX to the Active Spot.

Mewtwo EX is dangerous as long as they have DCEs left in their deck, but as soon as they run out of DCEs, Mewtwo EX is locked to the Active Spot.

crushing-hammer-emerging-powers-epo-92pokemon-paradijs.comThe greatest threat for a Hammerspam player is a lone Landorus-EX. Landorus-EX is able to damage two Pokémon at the same time and if your Sableyes don’t have Eviolite attached to them, the Sableyes will be KO’d too quickly by Hammerheads.

In order to avoid this from happening you must play correctly. The correct way is to play 1 Sableye at a time, while having a Darkrai EX on the Bench (if you happen to have Tornadus EX instead of Darkrai EX in your deck, that’s even better).

This way you can put an Eviolite on Sableye and let them Hammerhead your benched Darkrai EX. When they are at 120 damage on Darkrai EX, just Max Potion your Darkrai EX and after that you can let them Hammerhead as they wish for the remaining time.

It’s no use using Eviolites on Darkrai EX unless forced because your main objective is to keep Sableyes alive. You can easily sacrifice 3 Sableyes and 1 Darkrai EX to your Hammerspam strategy in a tournament (if you play fast enough), as you’ll take care of your opponent’s Pokémon in a very quick manner after they are unable to attack.

Also, it’s good to mention at this point that the strategy against Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX is pretty similar as with the above mentioned Darkrai EX variants in all parts of the game, if you don’t go Hammerspamming. The only difference is that Enhanced Hammers will be very useful against Mewtwo EXs since they have no energy acceleration, thus giving you an edge.

I don’t like to analyze how Crushing Hammers affect the matchup because it only comes down to how often you’re able to hit heads from them.

Mid and Late Game with Hammertime vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

enhanced-hammer-dark-explorers-dex-94When Hammerspamming, you must make sure in the mid game that you have enough Hammers in the discard pile. The optimal number of Hammers in discard pile is 1 Enhanced Hammers and 2 Crushing Hammers. This way, you won’t end up missing a Hammer when your opponent Ns you in the mid game.

The beauty of Hammerspam is that it isn’t a strategy that can be interrupted with Ns. You don’t draw Prize cards and burn through your deck all the time, so I’ve noticed that usually your opponent’s Ns often give you an even better hand.

When it comes to the late game, you must be very careful. Your opponent does have a Prize lead. A lot of time has been used (considers tournament games only) and you must be very careful not to switch from the Energy discarding mode to the attack mode.

When in a Prize deficit and going too early into attack mode, you’ll give your opponent the last Prizes too easily with Retalite 1HKO (remember Terrakion only needs 2 Energy to 1HKO a Darkrai EX).

That’s why you must be aware of your opponent’s discard pile at all times especially when playing with Hammertime and be sure that he/she has run out of all the Energy he/she needs to do any damage that can affect the games result. With Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX, this Energy amount is usually 9 F Energy and 3 DCEs.

Once again, if you don’t Hammerspam, the strategy is similar to the above mentioned variants.

Pro Tip with Hammertime vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

Never change from Hammerspamming into attacking in the middle of the game or vice versa.

Early Game with Hydreigon/Darkrai EX vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

deino-dragons-exalted-drx-93pokemon-paradijs.comHydreigon/Darkrai EX is a setup deck, thus the early turns have a huge impact on the game’s result – unlike in the Big Basic EX mirrors. In the current format you should have all Dragon Deinos in your deck.

The Dragon-type Rayquaza DRX is such a random visitor in decks compared to the popularity of Landorus-EX that you simply want to have Dragon Deinos in case of T1 Hammerheads. And believe me, they will often Hammerhead you T1.

You need to get at least one Hydreigon setup in order to survive from the early game to the mid and late game section. And how does this happen? Well, thankfully Hydreigon is the most consistent Stage 2 deck in the format (yes, even more consistent than Blastoise/Keldeo-EX).

This is thanks to Skyla, Computer Search, and Sableye, which makes getting Hydreigon into play on T2 almost too easy.

Ultra Ball/Computer Search for 2 Deinos and play them down simultaneously. Then Junk Hunt for Ultra Ball and Computer Search (or just Rare Candy and Ultra Ball). In some cases you might already have the cards you need to get the Hydreigon into play.

There are so many options to get the Hydreigon setup on T2, but nonetheless the key is to play 2 Deinos at the same so your opponent can’t KO them one-by-one. Trust me, it’s easier done than said to make T2 Hydreigon happen with a correctly built deck.

Mid and Late Game with Hydreigon/Darkrai EX vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

max-potion-emerging-powers-epo-94pokemon-paradijs.comIn the mid game (which can be counted from T2 onwards if you are able to get the T2 Hydreigon), lots of things happen depending on your Hydreigon build. In this matchup you are able to use your whole arsenal of techs and Item cards from Shaymin EX to Max Potions.

The biggest threat for you is once again Terrakion, hands down. Even though it may sound extreme, I suggest taking care of Terrakion as soon as it hits the field – with your Hydreigon.

There is no real way for them to 1HKO your Hydreigon and getting the Terrakion off the field is good for your Darkrai EXs health. So good, that your opponent will have hard time KOing your Darkrai EXs without their Terrakion.

You must also never forget about the power of Sigilyph (if you still happen to run it). Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX is a very clumsy deck and since they have a limited amount of Catchers (which they will usually burn in the early game), you should make the most out of it and force them into using their last Catchers when attacking with Sigilyph.

In a best case scenario, after you have KO’d the Terrakion and they have run out of Catchers, you may be able to finish the game up with your solo Sigilyph.

Just like with Blastoise/Keldeo-EX, retreating and healing is a huge part of the strategy of Hydreigon/Darkrai EX. If you don’t want to take the Sigilyph way, you can also take the more conservative way of taking hits with Darkrai EXs and then moving energy and healing them with Max Potions.

n-full-art-noble-victories-nvi-101pokemon-paradijs.comAfter you’ve used up all of your Max Potions, you’re forced to start retreating your attackers and force them to Catcher your damaged Darkrai EXs in order to draw any Prize cards. This combined to your late game Ns, give Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX too much headache thus making the matchup very favorable for Hydreigon/Darkrai EX.

One thing that must be said from the late game Ns when it comes to Hydreigon/Darkrai EX – this is the deck that enjoys late game Ns like nobody’s business.

It’s the N deck of the format. It can move the Energy all around the field while having multiple different type of attackers, which are always ready to attack even if the deck is N’d to one card.

When it comes to the late game it’s also never wise to forget the destructive force of Shaymin EX. Hydreigon/Darkrai EX can force the opponent too easily into the 1 Prize pit and then take revenge with N combined with Shaymin EX.

Pro Tip with Hydreigon/Darkrai EX vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

Remember, trading 1 Sableye into 2 Max Potions from the discard pile (with Junk Hunt) is always a good deal. There are no decks that can constantly 1HKO your Darkrai EXs.

B. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

Early Game with Hammertime, Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX, and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

season3_ep1_ss1 squirtlepokemon.comJust like against any setup deck, the Basics of the Energy accelerators are your main target in the early game. However, Squirtle is very good. It’s almost impossible for any deck to 1HKO 2 Squirtles in the early game due Squirtle’s über-Ability, which prevents Bench damage.

Darkrai EX is one of the cards that are hurt by Squirtle’s Ability since the Night Spear damage is one of the key factors why Darkrai EX is so good.

Most Blastoise/Keldeo-EX decks are able to get the Blastoise up on T2 and that’s what you must be prepared for when you play with a Darkrai EX deck. After the very first turn of your opponent, you must carefully evaluate is it really worth trying to take down the Squirtles in the early game.

You can’t know what kind of hand your opponent has, but if they have played down 2 Squirtles on the Bench and Tropical Beached for 5 cards, you can most likely ditch the idea of a Squirtle KO and concentrate the damage of the early turns to the EXs that your opponent has in play.

Mid Game with Hammertime, Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX, and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

water energypokemon-paradijs.comAfter they have setup their Blastoise, the game is already in the mid game. It’s a bit weird that the mid game can begin on T2, but that’s just how things are in this format. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX will mostly use their Keldeo-EXs against your attackers, because if they use Mewtwo EX, they just give too easy prizes for you.

The matchup is difficult for any Darkrai EX variant as long as the Blastoise player gets a decent setup. However, it’s very difficult for Blastoise/Keldeo-EX at the same time. Keldeo-EX and Darkrai EX 2HKO each other and that seldom changes.

Keldeo-EX needs 7 Energy on it to 1HKO a Darkrai EX, and that’s something Blastoise/Keldeo-EX can rarely afford. However, in cases where they get their Keldeo-EX overloaded, you must have Mewtwo EX in your deck.

That’s one of the reasons why I think Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX is one of the weakest Darkrai EX variants – it auto-losses to an overloaded Keldeo-EX. In fact it has hard time even against overloaded Mewtwo EX because they rarely run Mewtwo EXs in their decklists.

Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is only one of the examples which shows that you will have huge problems in this format if you don’t run at least one copy of Mewtwo EX.

One interesting discussion is something I already discussed from the Blastoise/Keldeo-EX’s point of view. The question is should Darkrai EX aim at KOing Keldeo-EXs or Blastoises?

This depends on two things: what kind of Darkrai EX build you have and what kind of setup your opponent has. Every single Dark Claw you run in your Darkrai EX deck makes this matchup more favorable to you.

However, it’s good to note that Dark Claw against other decks is inferior compared to Eviolite. It’s up to you to make the metagame call. Are Blastoises running rampant in your meta (at the moment it’s very probable) or are Big Basic decks still running wild?

Dark Claw opens you some very nice chances during the game, because all you need to do is hit Keldeo-EX twice with Night Spear’s 30 and you have a KO ready. This is more than game-changing. On the other hand, Dark Claw also helps you when getting rid of their only Blastoise. 30 + 110 from Night Spears is enough for you to KO a Blastoise.

If you your metagame is full of Blastoises, I suggest running 2-3 Dark Claws. They will make the matchup favorable for you – no matter which Darkrai EX variant you’re running since you can win the game by KOing 2 EXs and 2 Blastoises. The great thing about Darkrai EX lists that run Dark Claw is that they can put pressure on your opponent by attacking Blastoises while also putting Keldeo-EXs in to the KO range of Night Spear + Dark Claw.

You’re in control of the mid game of this matchup. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is forced to use Rush In every time you attack, so it’s up to you how to use your Catchers and make the most out of your Night Spear’s damage. Remember – count to 6 Prizes when attacking with Darkrai EX. From T3 you must be able to choose from which Pokémons you’ll draw your Prize cards from.

Don’t waste any 30s from Night Spear just to spread the damage, but concentrate your damage on the 1-2 (max 3) Pokémon at a time. If you run a lot of Dark Claw, the optimal combination is to focus on 2 Blastoises (or Squirtles) and then on two EXs (preferably Keldeo-EXs).

If you don’t run more than 1 Dark Claw in your deck, the best option is to focus on getting the 6 Prizes off the Pokémon-EX of your opponent. KOing 3 Keldeo-EXs is very difficult if they happen to run SSUs or other healing cards, so you must try to get a prize from at least one Mewtwo EX.

However, there is an exception once again. If you happen to be able to get a resource-easy (i.e. no Catchering) Prize off a Squirtle in the early game, you can and must aim at getting the 2nd Prize off a non-Pokémon-EX as well.

Getting the one additional Prize off a non-EX card is probably more resource-saving putting yourself into the “7 Prizes” dilemma.

Late Game with Hammertime, Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX, and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

n-dark-explorers-dex-96pokemon-paradijs.comBlastoise-EX/Keldeo-EX is very close of being the BDIF. However, late game is its biggest weakness. First of all, you must have the maximum N count if you want to have a chance at beating Blastoise/Keldeo-EX.

Second, you need to save at least 2 (preferably 3) Ns for the late game. This way you can force them down to 2 cards with N, use your non-EX attacker at this point and then N them again when they are at 1 Prize.

If you’re facing a Blastoise/Keldeo-EX in the top tables, they will probably run Tropical Beach, which will be very valuable for them after a late game N. If you want to make your Darkrai EX deck, a real anti-Blastoise deck, you can put 1-2 Stadiums into your deck to counter Tropical Beaches.

Late game N is guaranteed to destroy them if they don’t have a Tropical Beach in play (drawing a Juniper from a 1 card N of course negates this, but it happens and lucksack draws like that are out of your control).

Early Game with Hydreigon/Darkrai EX vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

hydreigon dragons exalted drx 97First of all, I want to say that I love this matchup. It’s one of the matchups that take me back in time to the era when Stage 2 decks were still playable and battled from the top spot of the tier 1.

The only difference between this matchup and the matchups of the past is that nowaydays even Stage 2 decks use Basics as their attackers. Hydreigon and Blastoise are just statists behind the big EXs that control the format.

However, even though Hydreigon and Blastoise are just statists in this matchup, they still make all the difference in the matchup. Since both decks use basic EXs as their attackers, the first few turns mean a lot. In a perfect world both decks would get a T2 Stage 2 and the game really begins from there. Sadly, the reality is often quite different.

Even though Hydreigon/Darkrai EX is the most consistent Stage 2 deck out there, it’s sometimes slower than Blastoise/Keldeo-EX. And in most of these games the Blastoise player goes first. It really doesn’t matter if Hydreigon player would get a T2 Hydreigon if the Blastoise players gets a T2 Keldeo-EX and Blastoise and starts running through the Deinos of the Hydreigon deck.

The deck going first has a too big impact on the result of Stage 2 matchups because after the Big Basics are attack-ready, the slower opponent has to concentrate on them in order to keep up with the opponent’s pressure.

However, at the same time the faster opponent is able to disrupt the support Pokémon of the slower deck, while adding more and more pressure to the slower opponent every turn. In most games this all the time increasing pressure is too much for the slower deck and the game will be over even before it has really started.

Mid Game with Hydreigon/Darkrai EX vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

super-scoop-up-black-white-blw-103If the game has gone on for 3-4 turns and the slower deck hasn’t yet collapsed under the pressure (or both players just have a slow start), the mid game really make a difference to the result of the match.

Both decks function the same way – retreat and heal. The only difference being that Hydreigon is much better in the healing than Blastoise/Keldeo-EX. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX focuses on SSUs or Max Potions when it comes to healing and these both cards have a negative side – SSU is a flipping card and Max Potion discards the Energy.

Blastoise doesn’t accelerate Energy from the discard pile thus making Max Potion a very questionable play for a healing card. I prefer SSUs and some very respected players (e.g. Jason Klaczynski) don’t use healing cards at all!

Whether Blastoise/Keldeo-EX runs Max Potions, SSUs or no healing cards at all, Hydreigon will always have the advantage in the mid-game due the fact it heals with Max Potion and isn’t forced to discard any Energy.

One much underrated strategy against Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is Hydreigon’s attack. It hits for 140 – this is more than a perfect number against Blastoise/Keldeo-EX. First of all, you can 1HKO Blastoise with this attack. If you can make this happen in the turns between 4 and 5, your opponent may have trouble setting up a second Blastoise in such a fast manner.

140 is also enough to KO a Keldeo-EX as soon as you have hit 30 to it with a Night Spear. However, the reason why most Hydreigon players dread this strategy is that when you put Hydreigon to the Active Spot, there is always the possibility of your Hydreigon being KO’d.

I don’t think this is something you should be afraid of as the Blastoise decks are as filled with Catchers as the other decks in the format and if they want to take your Hydreigon down, they will take it down even if you don’t attack with it. I suggest you make the most out of Hydreigon as long as you have it in play!

Late Game with Hydreigon/Darkrai EX vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

As I mentioned earlier, Hydreigon/Darkrai EX is a beast in the late game thanks to its Energy manipulating Ability combined to the free retreat. On the other hand, Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is at its weakest after a late game N.

From this we can draw a conclusion – if Hydreigon/Darkrai EX can make it into a late game in a small Prize deficit, it has the upper hand.

One thing you must avoid in the late game is using Shaymin EX even though it sounds very tempting against Blastoise/Keldeo-EX. Come on, the deck is fully Weak to Grass and Shaymin EX overkills all the Pokémon in it.

However, Shaymin EX is far too easy to 1HKO with a Keldeo-EX. In fact, a 3 Energy Keldeo-EX 1HKOs the Shaymin EX. If your opponent has 1 or 2 Prizes left, you don’t want to use Shaymin EX unless you can take your remaining Prize cards with it.

I’ve noticed that Hydreigon/Darkrai EX has such a huge upper hand in the late game that Shaymin EX is rarely necessary in the late game.

That’s why I wouldn’t worry too much about discarding Shaymin EX in the early game – you won’t probably need it during the late game and even if you do, you can get it back with a Super Rod (which you hopefully play in your Hydreigon list).

Pro Tips vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

– Hammertime and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX

Every 30 damage counts! Divide your damage on Pokémon to get 6 Prizes as easily as possible.

– Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX

Never play down a Landorus-EX after T2.

– Hydreigon/Darkrai EX

Trading a Shaymin EX for a Keldeo-EX isn’t a wise idea – you have more resources, take advantage of that.

C. Mirror(s)

Early Game vs. Hammertime, Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX, and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX Mirror Matches

cardshark.comJust like with all the Big Basic matchups, the one with the first effective attacks has an advantage. And no, 30 damage to the benched Darkrai EX can’t be counted as an effective attack. Effective is defined as an attack which lets you draw Prize cards or make your opponent’s game unstable.

Good examples in these mirror matchups would be Retaliate 1HKO on Darkrai EX after the Darkrai EX has KO’d a Sableye (gives a Prize and a resource lead with a lot of pressure) or a risky 5 Energy X Ball on your opponent’s Darkrai EX when they are unable to answer it with their own Mewtwo EX (gives you an opening for the next 2 Prizes immediately).

The most interesting part of these moves is that you set them up in the early game. In order to get the Terrakion 1HKO, you must lure your opponent into 1HKOing a Sableye. With a Hammertime deck this is exceptionally easy because you can easily “fake” going into a Hammerspam strategy, which leads your opponent automatically target down your Sableyes.

While fake Hammerspamming them, just build up your Terrakion attack (preferably with PlusPower or Tool Scrapper at the same time) and surprise KO them with Energy Switch, Terrakion, and PlusPower combo (of course you can N them as well).

Mid and Late Game vs. Hammertime, Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX, and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX Mirror Matches

mirror-match-mr-mimeThe Big Basic EX mirrors are all about trading hits with your opponent. If you have been able to lure your opponent into a Terrakion trap, the mid game won’t last for long. In fact, very often, you’re able to draw 4 Prizes with a single Terrakion in two turns in a Darkrai EX mirror match.

If you don’t want to get Terrakion-trapped, you must do one thing – don’t play down 2 Darkrai EXs. There is nothing as dangerous as playing Big Basics EXs on the bench which you will use 2-3 turns later in the game. Darkrai EX decks play Dark Patches and Energy Switches for a reason: to get a new Darkrai EX attack-ready in one turn.

There is also one aspect about the late game of Darkrai EX mirrors that is very often forgotten. Even though Darkrai EX gives your Pokémon a free retreat, it doesn’t mean that all your Pokémon have automatically a free retreat. You must attach Energy to them first!

If you happen to have a Darkrai EX on your bench without Energy and are N’d to one card, you have very often used up almost every D Energy in your deck. If your opponent makes a bold move and Catchers your Energyless Darkrai EX, it may very well be the winning move of the game if you whiff the D Energy from the 1-card N.

And the one turn whiff is enough for your opponent to KO the Darkrai EX as he/she will probably 2HKO it with their own Darkrai EX while damaging your bench at the same time. This is a good lesson for anyone who plays too care freely with Darkrai EX decks – your Pokémon only have the free retreat when you have Energy on them!

Pro Tip vs. Hammertime, Darkrai EX/Landorus-EX, and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX Mirror Matches

You’ll be trading 90 damage Night Spears a lot during these games. One tech like Terrakion or Gold Potion makes all the difference in the world. Never underestimate the power of a single tech in a mirror match.

Early Game vs. Hydreigon/Darkrai EX Mirror Matches

season3_ep41_ss1 mirror matchpokemon.comIn my opinion, the early game of the Hydreigon/Darkrai EX mirror is one of the most repulsive moments in the history of Pokémon TCG. First of all, the player who goes first has a huge advantage.

Second, the player who sets up first wins 95% of matches. This is due the fact that Hydreigon is won when the Hydreigons and Deinos are eliminated. And the player who gets to eliminate the opponent’s Deinos first will usually win the game.

I’ve played and watched this matchup so many times that every time I watch the 3 first turns of the game, I know which player will win the game. It’s frustrating really – especially when you are the player who is going second – as long as your opponent knows what he/she is doing, all you can do is struggle along the game for the 5-6 turns just to realize that when you N them to one card, they can just Junk Hunt a Computer Search and win the game (even if you N them again, they can Junk Hunt once again).

Mid and Late Game vs. Hydreigon/Darkrai EX Mirror Matches

sonya mirror matchmortalkombat.wikia.comThe lead that the faster deck gets in this matchup is almost unsurmountable. The 5% of the games where the slower deck is able to make a comeback are the games where the faster decks whiffs every single card at every single point of the game where they need them (e.g. whiffing a D Energy from 2 Junipers). Even Shaymin EX won’t save you in the late game as it is easily 1HKO’d by opposing Hydreigons.

If you have any comeback stories to tell from Hydreigon/Darkrai EX mirror matches, I would love to hear them because I haven’t been able to witness any in the past 5 months of playing and judging.

Pro Tip vs. Hydreigon/Darkrai EX Mirror Matches

Go first.

Esa’s Top Pick

mc hammer platinumThese are the top 3 deck variants of the current format. I believe no one can really argue with that. The only thing that you can argue with is the order of the decks. You can find my opinion and arguments from my blog entry a week ago.

However, the list is just a general list which mixes statistics and opinion. Things change quickly in the Pokémon TCG, and believe me, the top 3 would be in a different order if I were to do the list today.

Even though the list might look different, the number one deck for me has been the same all season. So, what’s my choice and most importantly, why?

It’s Hammertime! Not only is it statistically the second best deck in the format, but it’s the BDIF in my opinion. The reason for this is that even though Blastoise/Keldeo-EX is mad consistent, it’s still a Stage 2 deck. And in a format that is full of strong Basic EXs (like Darkrai EX), Stage 2 decks will lose to fast, low-resource needing Basic EX decks in a long run.

The reason for this is quite simple. If a Darkrai EX deck and Blastoise deck both have horrendous starts, the Darkrai EX deck will always come on top. Let’s take rough example when the opening hands of the both decks are identical (and bad), which illustrates my argument pretty clearly.

Blastoise/Keldeo-EX’s bad opening hand:

1 Squirtle, 6 W Energy

Darkrai EX variant’s bad opening hand:

1 Darkrai EX, 6 D Energy

See? By turn three, the Darkrai EX deck is ready to attack like there is no tomorrow, while the only card that can really save Blastoise deck with an opening hand like that is Juniper (which still hurts if your opening hand is full of Energy).

This fundamental difference is for me enough to take Darkrai EX’s (and Hammertime’s) side in this battle of the BDIF. It’s been almost 10 months since I first tested Hammertime for Finland Nationals and I’m glad to see that the deck still lives and is stronger than ever!


mail-from-bill-neo-destiny-105pokemon-paradijs.comI can guarantee you this article wasn’t supposed to be such a long read, but I had so much to say that I couldn’t help it. And even though this article ended up being +11,000 words, I still probably didn’t remember to mention everything I should have!

Nonetheless, I hope you got a lot out of this article and that it was useful for you no matter where you are from. I’ll probably hold on to my opinion about Hammertime and will take it with me all to way to Japan and see how it does out there! Not to mention that I’ll probably also play Hammertime in the ECC this year.

As mentioned earlier, I’ll depart to Japan today and won’t come back before 18th of January, so I won’t probably be able to answer your questions and comments considering this article before that.

However, I still hope that you leave any questions and comments considering this article to the forums – I’ll answer them eventually! And don’t forget to share your Hydreigon/Darkrai EX mirror match comeback experiences.

I’ve dragged this long enough, so remember to Like or Dislike the article to let me know what you thought about it!

Thanks for reading!

– Esa Juntunen


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