Hello again SixPrizes Underground readers! The last time I wrote an Underground article was actually before Christmas, during the City Championships. Since then much has occurred throughout the Pokémon world, and for me personally, I was able to accomplish a lot during this time, namely winning Winter Regionals and securing my invitation to Worlds.
Most people don’t like to read tournament reports as part of their Underground article content, so I will make that part of this article brief. The main focus of this article will be to take a look into a few of the lesser-discussed decks of the format with the newest set, Plasma Storm.
Table of Contents
- Virginia Regionals Recap
- Darkrai / Mewtwo / Bouffalant for States
- Final Thoughts
Virginia Regionals Recap
Going into Regionals Blastoise had a huge target painted on its shell. First off, let me start by saying I hated the Blastoise mirror match and refused to play the deck because of how much mirror I expected to have to play against. I was also not comfortable playing the deck in general due to some bad luck streaks I had during testing.
If Blastoise had proven itself to be the best deck in format by a huge margin I would have sucked it up and played the deck, however I felt that this turtle’s shell was not invincible.
I still wanted to play a deck that would give me the best chance of winning, as any sane person would. This meant I would need to play a deck that could consistently defeat Blastoise while also having good matchups all around.
After a lot of testing, I was able to come up with this list:
Pokémon – 9
3 Darkrai-EX DEX
Trainers – 39
4 Professor Juniper
4 Pokémon Catcher
Energy – 12
As you can see, I fell back into my comfort zone by playing Darkrai. I had almost exclusively played variants of Darkrai throughout Cities and I was very comfortable with the deck.
Unfortunately I was not able to find room for any Hammers. As much as I love them, I felt that they were not necessary in Darkrai anymore because they were not very good against Blastoise.
The metagame prediction I made for Regionals was that I would mostly play against Blastoise, Darkrai variants, and Eelektrik decks. I did not expect much Fighting due to the rise of Blastoise, so I figured Regionals could be Darkrai’s time to shine.
The list was mainly created by me with some help toward the end of the testing process by my friend Azul. We were the only ones in the room playing that exact same 60 cards.
My metagame predictions were correct because during Swiss rounds I faced 5 Darkrai variants, 2 Blastoise decks, 1 Eelektrik deck, and 1 Landorus deck.
My top cut bracket went as so:
Top 32 – Justin Bohkari – Speed Darkrai
Top 16 – ??? – Blastoise
Top 8 – Henry Prior – Blastoise
Top 4 – Azul Griego – 60 card mirror
Top 2 – Dylan Bryon – Garbodor / Darkrai / Hammers
Every matchup went according to plan and I was able to get the win. Before we move on I would like to explain to you some of the more interesting card choices in my decklist.
Some people might look at this list and go: “Really? Why two PlusPowers? What are they even good for?” Let me tell you that if it were not for both of these PlusPowers there would have been no way I would have won. PlusPower helps out tremendously in the Mewtwo wars and with Keldeo math.
The double Max Potion was clutch in so many situations. Against Darkrai mirror it allows you to go aggro Mewtwo against Darkrai and be able to just heal yourself, attach Double Colorless, and keep on attacking them.
Against Keldeo you make it very hard for them to deal with Mewtwo without building a giant Keldeo or engaging in the Mewtwo war, which you usually always win.
Also, healing damage off of an EX with no Energy that you were stalling with can swing a game in your favor.
Bouffalant was the all-star of the tournament, winning me countless games throughout the two days. First off, if you don’t start Sabeleye and are never forced to bench one, then Bouffalant being Knocked Out will effectively make your opponent take 7 Prizes.
120 damage to an EX is not something you can just ignore. Thus, your opponent is forced to deal with it while gaining no advantage in terms of winning the game on Prizes, unless you have a Sabeleye on the field of course.
Even if you can’t take full advantage of the 7 Prize trick Bouffalant is still an amazing attacker. Two Night Spears to an EX leaves them in range to be 1-shot by Bouffalant, which is how I won many games.
Everything else in this list seems pretty standard for a Darkrai / Mewtwo deck, so there’s really no need to go over everything. If you have any further questions about Regionals you should ask me in the forums, but I don’t want to go into any more detail here.
Darkrai / Mewtwo / Bouffalant for States
With the new set comes many new cards to aid Darkrai decks and make them even better than before. Darkrai / Mewtwo / Bouffalant is still a strong contender going into the State Championships. I have been testing the deck quite a bit lately and it still seems to be doing well so far.
The Darkrai decks, along with many other decks, have gotten the very powerful Item Hypnotoxic Laser to use at their disposal. Combine this card with Virbank City Gym and you can do a lot of damage. Michael Diaz goes over these cards quite a bit in his last article so I don’t want to focus on that.
What I do want to focus on is Darkrai / Mewtwo / Bouffalant and show you how this deck has evolved since the new set has come out.
Here is the list I have been working on for States:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 38
Energy – 12
I began the brainstorming process for the new format by starting with my Regionals list and changing it to adjust to the new format and try out some new strategies. I will do a quick run-through of the card choices and then go over some of the popular matchups you may encounter during States.
Some people prefer three and think that two is too few, but I think that it’s the perfect number for a deck like this. You really only want to have to play one Sabeleye per game and it’s not vital to securing a win.
I strongly advise three if you are playing Hammertime because Hammers are essential to your strategy, however with this kind of deck two is optimal.
3 Darkrai EX
This is pretty standard; it’s one of your main attackers. Nothing new to go over here.
I have increased the Bouffalant count for a number of reasons. Bouffalant just got a lot better when combined with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank because you can now get perfect math much easier. One Night Spear for 30 on a benched EX means that Bouffalant can now 1-shot that EX if you have a Hypnotoxic Laser with a Virbank City Gym in play.
Also with the rise of Black Kyurem EX being able to 1-shot your Pokémon-EX, having multiple non-EX attackers that can do a ton of damage is a big deal. Bouffalant is also a big deal in the Klinklang matchup which I will get to later on.
2 Mewtwo EX
I feel like Mewtwo wars will be on the decline coming into this new format and that cutting a Mewtwo EX for a Bouffalant is a smart decision. Bouffalant does so much more in multiple matchups where Mewtwo is less effective, especially against Black Kyurem EX.
Unfortunately there will be times throughout a tournament when the dreaded heads on a Hypnotoxic Laser occurs and you fail to wake up. This is where Keldeo “Rushes In” to the rescue! (See what I did there?!)
Keldeo also prevents Catcher stall once it has a D Energy on it as long as Darkrai is on the board.
Most of the Items stay the same because the base of the core idea of the deck is still the same. However we do add in Virbank City Gym and Hypnotoxic Laser.
Max Potion as a 1-of is still very good in certain situations and can still throw matchups in your favor immediately when you drop it. With a fairly high Skyla count searching it out won’t be too difficult.
The Item difference I want to discuss the most is the switch from all Eviolite to only Dark Claw.
Soon into play-testing this deck I realized that Eviolite just wasn’t as good as it was before because of all the Hypnotoxic Laser going around. That card alone gets the extra damage in to make Eviolite irrelevant. Combine that with the fact that Black Kyurem EX 1-shots you no matter what and Eviolite seems pretty mediocre. Also Eviolite gets “countered” by Dark Claw anyway, and I expect to see a lot of it.
Dark Claw on the other hand does everything you want in a Tool for this deck. Now your Darkrai have the ability to reach the great milestone of doing 140 damage in one turn combined with Virbank and Hypnotoxic Laser to Knock Out opposing Blastoise. You also have much better math against Pokémon-EX with 170 HP and just higher damage output in general.
The Supporter count in this deck seems standard. I don’t like playing Random Receiver because I feel like I would need it in multiples for it to be effective and there just isn’t room for that. I don’t want to cut too many actual Supporters for Random Receivers because then I will run out of Supporters too quickly. I also don’t want to risk hitting a Skyla off of Random Receiver when I really need a good draw Supporter.
I love the three Skyla count in here because my favorite play to make with this deck is to Skyla for Computer Search and Junk Hunt back the computer search turn one. This play is so vital to the deck that it is the reason why I am choosing Computer Search over the other ACE SPEC options.
Many people have been talking about Scramble Switch acting as a pseudo Celebration Wind to make this deck feel like it did in the days of Worlds 2012. Unfortunately I still firmly believe that consistency is far more important than being able to pull off a trick like this. Computer Search also really helps with getting Catchers when I need them, which happens to be a lot!
Some of you may notice that I failed to include the newest playable Supporter that we have gotten this set, Colress. I chose not to add Colress to the deck because it has been very subpar during testing. There have been too many times where I have had it early game and it would be close to useless.
Even later in the game it wasn’t that great because I am playing Darkrai and may not have a large number of benched Pokémon. Sometimes I will get to Colress for six or seven late game and it is amazing, however I feel it is not amazing enough to risk having it early game.
Late game Bianca for 4 is still good and Bianca can be decent early game as well so I have decided to stick with Bianca moving into this format.
Most of the Darkrai matchups like Darkrai vs. Blastoise have already been explained time and time again. What I want to do is help you learn about one of the more unknown matchups.
Darkrai vs. Klinklang
I have heard a lot of speculation revolving around the new Plasma Storm Klinklang. This new Klinklang has the Ability Plasma Steel. Plasma Steel says “Prevent all damage done to your M Pokémon by attacks from your opponent’s Pokémon-EX.” With this card spawns a whole new version of Klinklang which mirrors how Sigilyph DRX was last format.
I strongly believe that Klinklang will take the spot of Sigilyph DRX in terms of the metagame. The deck will not be extraordinarily good, but it will be annoying. Given the perfect metagame where nobody has non-EX attackers, Klinklang could shine.
Here is an example of what the new Klinklang decks will look like:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
Klinklang decks have changed a significant amount with the addition of the new Klinklang. Darkrai has been dropped in favor of Switches and Escape Ropes and the attackers have been condensed to mainly Metal Pokémon. This ensures that you stay to the theme of the deck which is not being able to be Knocked Out by EX attackers.
Now as you can see this deck appears impossible to defeat if you are playing Darkrai in almost any of its variations – excluding Hydreigon. The easiest way to win the Klinklang matchup is to find a way to tech in Victini NVI 15. Unfortunately teching in Victini is incredibly difficult and it’s close to useless in every other matchup. If Klinklang is very popular in your area this may be a viable option, but you have to consistently be facing Klinklang.
The best way to deal with this metal monstrosity is to play smart. With Darkrai you can still have the possibility of simply out-speeding them. This means that the Klinklang player would never have the chance to get the Plasma Steel Klinklang out. If the very realistic situation occurs of them getting out Klinklang turn two you still are left with a plethora of options to win.
The first thing you can do to disrupt a turn two Klinklang is to start Catchering the Klinklang. Klinklang will only run so many cards that allow them to switch out of the Active Spot. Use Sabeleye to Junk Hunt back the Catchers and constantly pressure them to be able to switch Klinklang back to the bench.
While doing this try to get out the Virbank City Gym / Hypnotoxic Laser combo going to put some good damage on the board. During this time you might find yourself entering a Stadium war. Be very cautious of how you use your Virbank. I wouldn’t recommend discarding extra Virbank with Ultra Ball unless it is absolutely necessary.
You might find your Virbank being Knocked Out by Tropical Beach which could spell doom for you. The extra 20 Poison damage is crucial, so you need to make sure that you can counter the Beach with another Virbank. The Tropical Beach / Virbank wars will occur against Blastoise as well, so the same rules that apply here apply there too.
Once Klinklang is stuck in the Active Spot during your turn this is where you start to attempt to take it down. I would suggest using Bouffalant to do this if you play any because Sabeleye is very important for getting back recourses.
If you have to use Sabeleye, a Dark Clawed Sabeleye can still put on enough pressure. The only problem with attacking with Sabeleye is that Klinklang can actually Knock it Out in one hit with its attack! Yes, if you force the Klinklang player to have Klinklang active that is their only option, to attack with Klinklang.
A combination of Hypnotoxic Lasers, Gold Breakers, and Confuse Rays should be able to take down a Klinklang surprisingly fast.
Once you take down Klinklang you are free to attack with your EXs. From this point the game should be pretty easy and straightforward. The more you test the matchup the more you will realize Klinklang is not the best deck choice and that it can actually be stopped in various creative ways.
The only success I feel like Klinklang will find is in an area where there are very little counters to it, same way quad Sigilyph worked. I could be proven wrong and there could be a more unique way to play the deck. With the versions I have seen, Klinklang’s future isn’t looking bright in terms of being a tier one competitive deck.
Ho-Oh felt like a deck that has always been around since the card came out, but nobody really quite knew how to play it. I was never sure what to make of the fiery bird until I heard that Pooka had won three Cities with it!
Since then I have seen a spike in the deck’s popularity and it being played in all sorts of ways. Because Ho-Oh is an Energy accelerator for any type, the possibilities are endless.
With Plasma Storm approaching Ho-Oh has many different routes it can take. Ho-Oh can tech for any given metagame quite easily due to its versatility. The route I chose to take however is the most colorful, or colorless, depending on your perspective.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 39
Energy – 12
With this variation of Ho-Oh I am going for a simple plan, to be very aggressive early and have some decent late game with Ho-Oh backing you up. I’ll go through a quick breakdown of the deck.
Ho-Oh will mainly act as either a mid to late game Energy accelerator to power up your attackers with the help of Energy Switch. He can also deal some decent damage due to all the different types of Energy in the deck.
One key thing to remember about using Ho-Oh is that if you really need to have the Energy on board to Energy Switch in the next couple of turns, you might want to start testing your luck with Rebirth early. That way the game doesn’t come down to just one or two coin flips the turn you need to get Energy on board.
Of course you shouldn’t do this if your opponent will be able to instantly knock Ho-Oh out and take a huge lead. Ho-Oh has a ton of synergy with Scramble Switch as well which I will get to in a moment.
This is going to be your main mid/late game attacker against opposing Pokémon-EX. I have already talked about Bouffalant in this article so I don’t want to become repetitive. If you are unable to win in the early stages of the game Bouffalant will help you later down the road.
Scramble Switching a Ho-Oh into Bouffalant and Gold Breaking can swing matchups big time.
This deck can really put on the pressure with a turn one Blow Through combined with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. That is whopping 90 damage turn one! Tornadus is definitely your ideal starter in this deck and the reason why your early game is amazing. Tornadus is also a nightmare for Fighting based decks to deal with.
At this point does Mewtwo really need an explanation? He is truly one of the best cards in the format and has proven it time and time again. He is a must have for any deck with Double Colorless Energy.
I feel like the Trainers of this deck are very self-explanatory except for maybe one very interesting tech.
Out of all the ACE SPECs that could fit into this deck, why Scramble Switch? Well, once you start testing this card you will realize just how powerful it is, especially when combined with Ho-Oh.
There are many scenarios where I found myself hitting heads on Rebirth, switching into Ho-Oh, then Scramble Switching, powering up any attacker in the deck. That synergy alone is reason enough to give this card a chance.
Aside from the cool plays involving Ho-Oh you can also Scramble Switch a damaged attacker into a fresh one to help conserve Energies on board, or even do extra damage with a different attacker. If you’re lucky enough to combo this with a Max Potion, you can easily swing games into your favor.
Teching Out Ho-Oh
Ho-Oh is a deck that can easily adapt to any given metagame. Applying these adaptations to your deck is not too difficult either. Let’s say Darkrai is big in your area, what do you do? Well, the answer to that is to fit in Terrakion. Terrakion is still very good against Darkrai decks as are other Fighting Pokémon like Landorus-EX.
Here is a sample list of a Ho-Oh deck that is ready to encounter a Darkrai-heavy metagame.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 38
Energy – 12
As you can see the skeleton of the deck is still fairly similar. Not too many of the Trainers have changed, just the attackers and Energy. This Fighting-heavy version of the deck would do much better in a Darkrai heavy metagame than the rainbow or colorless versions.
Now that we have energy requirements we must fulfill, our Energy line can no longer be as diverse. We actually need to consistently be able to hit F Energy to power up our main attackers so naturally we cut some useless random Energy cards for Fighting energy.
That is what you need to do to tech out Ho-Oh. Make sure that you can actually hit the Energy you need to fulfill energy requirements for your attackers.
You can’t just simply add a Terrakion into any Ho-Oh deck with a single F Energy and assume you now counter Darkrai decks because it won’t. You will never be able to hit that one F Energy when you need it, unless you are extremely lucky that is.
You need to adjust your Energy accordingly to accommodate your attackers. With a deck like Ho-Oh you can’t diversify the attackers too much because it will become too difficult to accommodate each attacker.
Basically if you try to fit six different attackers with six different Energy types into a Ho-Oh deck in an attempt to counter every single deck you will fail miserably. You will never be able to consistently hit what you want when you need it.
Try to stick to one or two attackers with specific Energy requirements and don’t go crazy.
Garbodor was somewhat of a sleeper deck last format, able to elude the spotlight during Cities. During Regionals this deck definitely came to fruition and made a strong showing with multiple top 4 finishes. What made this deck work so well was the formats reliance on Abilities, mainly Blastoise.
Garbodor has an Ability called Garbotoxin that says if you have a Tool on Garbodor, you shut down all other Abilities. If your main goal was to defeat Blastoise, this piece of garbage was your man to do it.
Now that Garbodor has made his presence known I’m not sure how well he will do going into States. Blastoise players and decks reliant on Abilities may very well come in packing Tool Scrapper. This will cut down on consistency though, so I am not sure if that will actually be the case, especially with people trying to fit Black Kyurem EX into their decks and possibly other cool techs.
If people are not prepared for Garbodor though we could see the deck rise up and win a couple States. Playing Garbodor will be a risk in itself for that reason. Will people be prepared for him or not? Either way I believe it is a very strong contender that needs to be talked about, especially if we are expecting Blastoise to stay at the top.
Here is what a Garbodor list will look like with the addition of Plasma Storm:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
Energy – 11
Not too much has changed since last format aside from the obvious additions of Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. The extra damage those cards provide is still amazing and needed in this type of deck.
Unfortunately I was not able to fit as many Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym as I wanted to so I went with a 3-1 count. The Laser is acting as a somewhat better version of PlusPower with the chance of me being able to get the Stadium in play for extra damage.
If I were to find room for more copies of these cards I’m afraid I would start losing a lot of consistency, so I will leave it as is for now.
The main goal of the Garbodor deck stays consistent to what it was last format. If your opponent uses Abilities, get out Garbodor as soon as possible and get a Tool on it!
With six Tools in this deck and a couple Skyla to help search them out, getting a Tool on Garbodor shouldn’t be difficult.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with how the Garbodor matchups play out I will do a brief summary for you.
Garbodor vs. Blastoise & Eelektrik
In these matchups you want to get Garbodor online as soon as possible. Once you have a Garbodor online early you pretty much lock up the game if they don’t play Tool Scrapper. If you pull off a turn two Garbodor against Blastoise there is very little they can do.
If they choose to play down a Blastoise or had already managed to get one out to power up an attacker or two you’re in a good spot. All you need to do is Catcher up Blastoise and it will sit there for a long time, barring the occasional Super Scoop Up heads or Tool Scrapper.
Once you have their Blastoise active all you need to do is Hammerhead. Spread damage to whatever they have on board and eventually you will start Knocking things Out. They cannot Rush In, power up any more attackers, or do anything due to Garbodor’s Ability.
If the Blastoise player chooses not to play out Blastoise at all then you should still be in the clear. Dealing with manually powered up Keldeo-EXs or Black Kyurem will be easy.
The Eelektrik matchup is still strongly in your favor with an early Garbodor, but is a bit trickier. If they are playing RayEels you are probably going to win because Rayquaza EX is so reliant on Eels and can’t function without them. You should always make sure to have multiple Garbodor in play so they can’t just switch into a manually powered up attacker and Catcher-KO your Garbodor and come back into the game.
Try to never give the Eels deck the opportunity to Dynamotor. Landorus-EX should be able to make quick work of their field with Hammerhead if they are unable to pressure you at all.
The Mewtwo/Eelektrik variant of the deck can take a different route in defeating you which would be to stop Garbodor before it really even starts. With Double Colorless and Mewtwo they have the ability to 1-shot your Trubbish with just a Double Colorless. If they are able to stop your setup while managing to set up you’re in trouble.
With the Mewtwo version of Eels they are far less reliant on Eelektrik and only need a few Dynamotors to power up their attackers and have the Energy stay on board.
Garbodor vs. Darkrai & Other Big Basic Decks
These matchups will be the hardest for you by far. The reason being is because Garbodor doesn’t do much in these matchups and you are probably better off not playing it at all. Against a good Darkrai player they will only bench what they are going to attack with so Catcher stalling them with Garbodor in play won’t work out well.
Garbodor really isn’t even worth setting up here because then you run the risk of being Catcher stalled yourself.
In this matchup you are playing the role of a Fighting-based Big Basics deck with a lot of
deadgarbage cards. This matchup is still very winnable because you are pitting a Fighting deck against Darkrai, but it will not be easy.
The Big Basics matchup is a pseudo mirror match, except in their favor. Without Garbodor being relevant at all due to the lack of Abilities you are just a worse version of their deck. They have so many more useful cards than you do because they won’t have so much Garbage lingering around.
This is easily your most difficult matchup for the deck so I would not recommend Garbodor if you are expecting to play against a ton of Big Basic decks.
Going into States I don’t think we will see to many new archetypes emerge like we did with the release of Boundaries Crossed and Blastoise decks. It will mostly just be old archetypes becoming more powerful with the new tools given to them.
The closest thing to a new archetype will probably be the new Klinklang decks. Most of the new Pokémon definitely have potential such as Lugia EX, but I am not sure if they will find a home just yet in competitive tier one decks.
The storm has come but I don’t believe it has destroyed our old decks and that they will survive. I do believe that the storm has left us with some new things to work with that are game changing. I wish everyone the best of luck at States and I hope my article helped you prepare for your upcoming battles!
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