The Bicycle Engine

Making Room for Hammers in Darkrai Lasers

season2_ep39_ss2 ash tracy mistypokemon.comHello 6P, my name is Jerome Lynch, and I’m a player from Pennyslvania. Like many others, I am a guy in his early 20s succumbing to the nostalgic draw of Pokémon.

I played the TCG five to six years ago as a Senior then as a first-year Master. My best accomplishment back then was making the top cut at the 2007 Mid-Atlantic Regionals as a Senior playing my own rogue deck.

I started off my return to the game by attending PA States then DE States. Some rotten luck hurt me at PA States, but some minor tweaks and a lack of severe misfortune earned a successful top eight finish at Delaware. I’ll start off with my crammed and seemingly inconsistent list:

Pokémon – 8

4 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Sableye DEX
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 42

4 Professor Juniper
3 N
1 Skyla


2 Random Receiver

4 Bicycle
1 Computer Search
4 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Crushing Hammer
1 Enhanced Hammer
2 Dark Claw
4 Dark Patch
2 Energy Switch
2 Energy Search


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

10 D

Speed Darkrai lists tend to be virtually identical, however I wanted mine to rely less on Supporters and more on the power of Bicycle. I used a list posted by djf123 in the Speed Darkrai topic as a starting point. From here I play tested many times against my good friend Yuya Kawahara and against several people on PTCG Online.

For what I’ll dub the “Bicycle Engine” to work, the key is to have very few dead cards in hand and to be able to discard such cards with ease. To do this, cutting down on situational cards is a must.

Item Choices for the Bicycle Engine

Red_on_bikeBulbapediaI’ve cut the traditional quantities of Catchers, Energy Switch, N, and Energy (or possibly Sableye) to make room for four Hammers. Crushing Hammer pairs excellently with Bicycle since it is very rarely a dead card and can usually be played in succession.

Cards such as Max Potion and Tool Scrapper are left out because they can easily be trapped in an opening hand which reduces the effectiveness of a Bicycle run.

Maxing out Ultra Ball is a must, and playing either Computer Search or Dowsing Machine (risky from my testing) as the ACE SPEC is critical for reducing hand size.

Energy Choices for the Bicycle Engine

Playing a quantity of two Energy Search helps since the search can be failed in favor of having one less card in hand. If not failed, it can thin the deck and help set up a Dark Patch use.

Only two Energy Switch are played since it is a situational card. In quantities of three or four, it can accumulate in hand and hurt consistency if there’s no Energy to move between two Pokémon. With only two, it tends to be there only when its needed. Bicycle provides such powerful draw that it’s not an issue to draw into it.

With only 10 Energy in the deck, it is uncommon to have more than two in hand at once. Only being able to play one from the hand per turn, it is important to have this low quantity to avoid the dreaded situation where there’s no Computer Search, Ultra Ball, or Juniper to discard the excess.

I have tried nine Energy. It works, but can be risky and requires extreme care in placement and preservation. The 10th Energy makes attaching one to Keldeo-EX much easier.

Supporter Choices for the Bicycle Engine

bicycle-plasma-storm-pls-117pokemon-paradijs.comThe trend of low counts continues! Juniper is the main Supporter. With powerful draw and the ability to discard dead cards, it is ideal for opening. It gets maxed out.

N is important for putting good cards back in the deck; e.g., starting with three Hypnotoxic Lasers in hand is not good, so they need to be shuffled back in rather than dumped into the discard. N can also be a savior to avoid decking out late game. Bicycle + Juniper early game can literally draw through half of the deck. Late game with no N can become sketchy.

A single Skyla is here because it provides versatility. It’s not the ideal opening Supporter, but it can still work if it is. It can pull out an important set up card such as Ultra Ball or Computer Search for advanced combos. If a Bicycle is in hand, there is now an opportunity for draw. Late game it can pull out that winning Catcher, Enhanced Hammer, Energy Search, Hypnotoxic Laser, Virbank, etc.

Pseudo Supporter Choices

Obviously we need four Bicycle since it’s what all other card quantity choices are based on. An added and unmentioned benefit of Bicycle is the power it possesses to recover from a late-game N. Being left with only a one or two card hand can hurt, but not so much if Bicycle is present.

Playing two Random Receiver helps to thin out the deck and help recover from a bad Bicycle draw since they are Junk Huntable. They increase the chance of getting the opening Juniper since 50% of the supporters are a Juniper.

Computer Search also serves as a pseudo supporter, and this is the main reason to play it over Dowsing Machine. Dowsing Machine is sometimes unplayable in an opening hand when there is no Trainer in the discard pile.

Final Thoughts on the Bicycle Engine Strategy

  • Successful use of Bicycle requires a deck that can drop cards fast (i.e., no evolutions and tons of non-situational Items)
  • It can backfire if too many critical cards are drawn into early (i.e. two Catcher, three HTL)
  • Four Ultra Ball and Computer Search or Dowsing Machine are musts
  • Energy Search is your friend; thin that deck
  • Only works with a low Energy and Supporter count
  • It can be the savior from a potentially devastating late game N
  • It’s easy to draw the whole deck, so take Prizes fast

DE States Success with the Bicycle Engine

Unfortunately I did not take notes, so everything is from memory. In Swiss I went 5-2 with this list losing in two intense Darkrai mirrors (sans Bicycle). I’ll explain why I lost each:

Round 2 vs. Ben // 1-0

keldeo-ex-boundaries-crossed-bcr-49pokemon-paradijs.comI start with Sableye, as does he. He gets a Darkrai set up before I can even get one in play despite me going first. Strangely he never draws into a Laser or Virbank until very late game. I, on the other hand, drew into 3 Lasers early with him having a Keldeo in play.

With three Lasers gone, no Virbank in play, and only one Dark Claw in play attached to my damaged Darkrai, I could not recover against an opposing Darkrai and Keldeo with Eviolite attached. Even being denied of taking any Prizes, it was a fun game and somehow the match lasted nearly the full 30 minutes.


Round 4 vs. Maxwell // 2-1

He goes first and has a super strong start, Computer Search discarding D Energy, active Sableye, benched Darkrai, Dark Patch, and a Supporter to finish the turn. I have a similarly good opening hand involving Computer Search and N (to disrupt his Junk Hunt), however I end up never being able to charge up a Darkrai before decking out. I pull a Dark Patch from my supporter draw, Junk Hunt it back, but he manages to shuffle it back into my deck with a return-fire N!

A couple turns later I draw an extreme amount of cards using Juniper and Bicycles, but I still fail to hit the right combination of cards to power up a Darkrai for the game’s first Night Spear. I end up with a 3-card deck and 3 card hand. A bit too late I realize all he needs is an N to make me draw my entire deck.

Yup, it happens. My misplay, but a great lesson learned. That’s the power of Bicycle: draw the whole deck before either player takes a prize!


At this point I’m 2-2 but continue on. I face RayEels, Darkrai/Hydreigon, and another Darkrai mirror (sans Bicycle). The first two were steamrolls, but the final Darkrai mirror was notable.

Round 7 vs. Jason (?) // 4-2

pokemon-catcher-dark-explorers-dex-111pokemon-paradijs.comHe goes first, gets two Darkness in the discard, active Sablye, benched Darkrai, and has a Dark Patch. I started with two Sableye. He pulls off a T2 Night Spear while I drag on. Meanwhile, his Darkrai are taking some decent Virbank + HTL damage. He does, however, have Keldeo in play. I am forced to let him take 2 Prizes from two Sableye KOs. It’s looking pretty grim for the top cut.

However, I push on and get two Darkrai set up. I very carefully spread my damage to set up some nasty magic number KOs. I retreat to disperse the damage he does to my two Darkrai to avoid giving him the Prizes he needs (his prizes are at four).

I win when he folds, realizing I can take 4 Prizes in one turn with a Catcher. I’d only played 1 Catcher up to this point, and I had the Bicycles and N in hand to draw one from my deck. Success!

5-2, 12th Place

Top 16 vs. Will with 4 Mewtwo EX/1 Keldeo-EX/Terrakion NVI/Bouffalant DRX

Game 1

He mulligans about five times. I’m enjoying the draw, but still I only have an active Sableye and don’t draw into a Darkrai. Ultra Ball, however is in my hand. He wins the coin flip to go first, has a ridiculously lucky opening hand that includes DCE, Switch, Virbank, Laser, and Ultra Ball (he used a Skyla to pull one of those Trainers, I can’t remember which).

He gets a Mewtwo EX and donks my lonely Sableye. This is heartbreaking, but I push on to game two wanting to win more than ever.

Game 2

Fortunately I get a turn this game, and I use it wisely to set up for a T2 Night Spear. He can’t handle the -20 Psychic Resistance combined with my nasty Energy removals. I carefully use Catcher, Laser, Virbank, and Dark Claw to hit magic numbers on all of his 170 HP EX to win. I pull 4 Prizes in one turn, taking out his Keldeo and Mewtwo EX. He never manages to get the two Energy necessary to Retaliate with Terrakion.

Game 3

Unfortunately it’s his turn to go first again. Very scarily, I mulligan a couple times but finally get a donk-proof opening of Sableye and Darkrai. He opens with a Bouffalant which is quite a relief. Nothing particularly notable happens until late game.

He was going to win, but he made a strange misplay and decided to replace my active undamaged Darkrai EX with my benched Sableye. This misplay was critical. He had already KO’d one Darkrai and I only had one in play for several turns.Two Darkrai EX were Prized!

He hits Sableye for 60 with Mewtwo missing the KO that he Catchered up. Next turn he still wants to KO my Sableye. I’m confused and relieved as to why he’s not working on KOing my last Darkrai EX. I once again had set up a 4 Prize Night Spear to take out his Keldeo-EX and energized Mewtwo EX. He still doesn’t have the energy to Retaliate with a Terrakion. I sweep with my Darkrai to finish.

Top 8 vs. Anthony

Game 1

I get to go first and I see he’s playing Big Basics. It’s a fairly typical Tornadus EX/Bouffalant DRX/Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX with Lasers build. He gets two Landorus-EX in play early, but I have learned very well how to handle Landorus-EX from playtesting against my friend Yuya Kawahara.

I Catchered a Landorus-EX to replace his active Tornadus. I poison it and start hitting and select his second Landorus-EX as the splash damage target of my Night Spear. Still not knowing if he plays Eviolite, I want to make sure I’ll have no problems taking out its 180 HP. It turns out he plays Super Scoop Up instead of Max Potions or Eviolite.

Super Scoop Up isn’t so hot when there’s no DCE to retrieve. From here I steamroll him with Night Spear, an onslaught of Lasers, Dark Claw for additional damage, and Hammers. I take my prizes with ease.


Game 2

double-colorless-energy-next-destinies-nxd-92pokemon-paradijs.comHe goes first and starts with a Blow Through. He takes out a Sableye very quickly, but I have a Benched Darkrai. The beginning is a struggle for me, but I eventually get some Hammers going, N him down to a small hand and make a miraculous recovery. However, this game he has wisely adapted to my ability to Junk Hunt for my single Enhanced Hammer.

It becomes his 1 Prize versus my one or 2 Prizes. I Catcher up his Mewtwo with 30 damage in hopes of taking it out with a Laser and Dark Clawed Darkrai. However, he has only played one DCE the entire game, and has only 1 Prize left.

He fishes one out of his deck and has the choice of attacking with Mewtwo EX or his benched Tornadus EX to KO my active Sableye for his final prize. He wins this one.


Game 3

Hooray, I get to go first again. He gets a slow start, and I don’t get my T2 Night Spear. Suddenly, time is called! I didn’t understand the 3 turn time called rule, so I’m thinking I have 3 turns and he has 3 turns. Unfortunately I only get one more turn and I waste it on a Junk Hunt. For the exact Items I need to take 2 Prizes by KOing a benched Tornadus EX.

He KOs my active Sableye to take the first Prize of the game.


It was quite upsetting to lose by time at such a critical point and so early in the third game, but oh well. I learned a lot and really enjoyed using the Bicycle Engine. I think most people were surprised at its effectiveness, and I don’t think Bicycle will be quite as overlooked.


Reader Interactions

4 replies

  1. Ed Mandy

    I like the deck. Good work with it!

    As an aside, you might want to swap out the CAT5e for WiFi some day.

  2. Twan van Vugt

    Good article with solid points about the deck. keep up the good work!

  3. Zach

    Nice article. I’m glad others have had success with Bicycle in Darkrai. Another believer!

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