Hey everyone, I’m glad to be back after taking March off. I’ve got a couple things I want to touch on, but mostly, I want to prepare you guys for the upcoming events with a few decks; some new and some old. I’ll go over my performance at States and Regionals to give you a little insight as to why I think certain decks will flourish while others will fail in the Plasma Freeze.
Here’s how the article’s going to look:
- Darkrai Moving Forward
- Plasma Decks
- Theory, Man
Looking at Lists
The first thing I’d like to do before I get into the meat of my article is point out a few things from my February article which covered a lot about Darkrai.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 41
Energy – 10
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 41
Energy – 10
First is the decklist my brother Frank and I played at every States and Regionals we attended. Next is the list I posted in my Underground article on February 5th. As you can tell, the lists are very similar, and differ only by 3 cards. I just want to make sure you guys know that the lists I put in my articles are always high quality, even if I forget a card or two sometimes. It doesn’t mean I haven’t tested the deck; it’s just a copying error.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt took about a week of testing to conclude that the first list was far more effective, and that Energy Switch was far too important to play any less than 3, as was pointed out by TechnoLegend in the discussion thread to the February article. Bicycle and the third Claw were pretty easy choices to make room for the Energy Switches because they didn’t serve their purpose often enough.
While getting the 1HKO on Blastoise was nice, and sometimes game winning, the fact of the matter was that Blastoise was declining in popularity, and even then, two Dark Claw was usually enough in that matchup. The card’s ineffectiveness in other matchups is what made us drop down to only two of it in the end.
This is not to say that Dark Claw was bad, though, in fact it was absolutely integral in our win ratios against Big Basics (170 was a magic number with Claw) and Klinklang (Confuse Ray for 30.)
Bicycle became cuttable only when we realized the deck’s inherent ability to conserve and reuse Supporters late game. Unless we really needed that extra draw card there was no reason to keep Bicycle in the deck, especially when Junk Hunting for Dowsing Machine or Random Receiver was usually the better option.
Stats Don’t Lie
In order to better prepare ourselves for Regionals after States, Frank and I recorded each of our wins and losses to see which improvements could be made before Regionals. Here’s the breakdown of our wins and losses throughout States. Frank played in three but I was only able to attend two, so here are our combined records over the five events counting individual games:
- Big Basics (15-4)
- Blastoise (7-2)
- Darkrai (4-1)
- Eels (6-3)
- Klinklang (4-3)
- Garbodor (5-0)
There were 2 games we didn’t remember but we won both so they weren’t as important to come up with. We did this all from memory so a number or two may be off, and we grouped a lot of decks together, which means these Pokémon might have been paired with different partners, but it’s accurate enough to serve its purpose.
When we actually sat down to go over data we realized how incredible our win/loss ratio was, even against some of the deck’s worst matchups. With an 81% win percentage, we knew Darkrai was the play for Regionals right away, and with no negative matchups, we were confident in our list.
My Regionals Run
Frank went 6-2 in Swiss then lost in top 32 to a Big Basics 1-2 to end with a record of 7-4. I made it through to the top 4 ending with a final record of 13-6 (from individual games). Here’s how my event broke down.
R1 – Garbodor – L (0-1)
R2 – Darkrai – W (1-1)
R3 – (Darkrai) – W (2-1)
R4 – (Darkrai) – W (3-1)
R5 – Garbodor – W (4-1)
R6 – Klinklang – W (5-1)
R7 – Garbodor – L (5-2)
R8 – Darkrai – W (6-2)
So with these results, our combined final stats look like this:
- Big Basics (19-9)
- Blastoise (9-3)
- Darkrai (12-2)
- Eels (7-4)
- Klinklang (7-3)
- Garbodor (8-2)
- Other (2-0)
I think these stats speak volumes for what Darkrai can do throughout Battle Roads and into Nationals. The deck boasted a 73% win percentage with remarkable results against its worst matchup Klinklang, and a 67% win percentage over its most common opponent, Big Basics.
Aside from the addition of Plasma to the format, and the likely death of Klinklang, each of these decks will still see a lot of play throughout Battle Roads.
Darkrai Moving Forward
With the new set, Darkrai potentially gains a little help, but also has a load of new challenges to face. Here’s what a modern Darkrai list might look like going forward into BRs and Nationals:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 40
Energy – 10
There are 3 PLF cards in this list so I’ll go over why they’re in here and why they help.
This card caught everyone’s eye when it came out and, although it doesn’t appear in many Japanese lists, you can count on this card becoming a force. So where to begin with Ghetsis? Well it’s a card that counts a huge draw Supporter sometimes, and it plays both sides of the board, which is something we’ve seen already in N.
The beauty of this card is that it’s definitely not something people are likely to run 4-of, so usually, it’s a guessing game as to how many will be in your opponent’s deck. It’s not like N where you can count the number in your opponent’s discard and know whether or not your hand will be safe. Don’t be fooled though, this card is definitely a double-edged sword.
While it can provide a huge swing, depending on the cards it gets, anything less than a 3 card hit can really put a damper on your turn. Ghetsis isn’t a card you can play knowing you’re getting a return on it, and with the speed of the current format, a lot of the time, you need a new hand every turn.
Ghetsis really shines late game however. I’m talking REALLY late game. I’m talking about when your opponent needs that game winning Catcher and the Supporter counts of both players are incredibly low.
For this reason, and without much testing, I’d say two Ghetsis is a great number in this deck because it gives you options late game after the N’s are gone (which is huge for Darkrai) and it allows you to play less Random Receiver which becomes a liability with Ghetsis in other players’ hands.
pokeca-japan.ocnk.bizThe second card I’ll talk about is Absol. To me, this card seems like an obvious play in any deck playing Dark Patch, which should really only be Darkrai. There are two reasons this card is so pivotal to the longevity of Darkrai.
First, Absol is the best solution to Sigilyph/Klinklang there is in the current format. Its ability to 1HKO a Sigilyph and potentially a Klinklang itself for only two energy makes it a perfect fit.
But it doesn’t even stop there. Absol can deal 120 base damage for 2 energy. Go ahead and let that sink in. After a Claw and a Laser, that’s 170 damage…for 2 energy…with Dark Patch. It’s almost laughable how ridiculous that stat is on a non-EX Basic.
I’m sure there are a lot of skeptics because the damage Absol deals can be manipulated by your opponent. Well, I think the truth of the matter is that, when it comes down to it, Absol will be able to get the job done 90% of the time.
Looking at the top decks for Nationals, Blastoise and Plasma are at the top of the list. Both of these decks require huge benches, Plasma for Deoxys and Blastoise for all the extra Squirtles, Keldeos, and Kyurems. 170 against these decks means 1HKOing a clean Keldeo or Deoxys which can prove to be a huge swing from a non-EX for just 2 energy.
This card is arguably what will keep Darkrai in the top tier for Nationals/Battle Roads. The only real question with this card is will you play 1 or 2.
pokeca-japan.ocnk.bizThe last card I’ll talk about is Mr. Mime. This is probably the strangest addition to the list, but I think it earns a spot here over the second Absol. Mr. Mime’s Ability that prevents bench damage is something not to be overlooked in this set.
First of all, looking back through the years, a bench shield Basic has never been an option. The last card I can remember having an effect like this was Manectric PL that prevented all bench damage, except to itself and other Manectrics. This is a huge step up from that for a couple reasons.
Obviously, Mime is a Basic while Manectric required two deck slots, but the bigger deal here is that Mime can’t be touched on the bench either. This is important because any deck that needs to deal bench damage, like Darkrai, Landorus, or Plasma, will have to Catcher it up and Knock it Out or risk losing literally hundreds of damage.
If nothing else, it provides a decoy of sorts, and it helps conserve what you’ve already got on the table.
Especially in Darkrai, which sometimes has trouble streaming Darkrais, having a Mime on the table will either reduce their bench damage dramatically or force your opponent to Knock it Out, giving you time to power up another Darkrai.
If they do choose to Knock it Out, they’ve also wasted a Catcher AND they miss any bench damaged they’d have dealt that turn as well. I could see Mime becoming a very present card in this upcoming format, and I think it will be the factor to keep Eels relevant if Big Basics remains in the top tier. In this case, the power creep is extremely apparent, and I definitely recommend taking advantage of it.
The next deck I’ll talk about is one I believe could very well blow the lid off the format and has to potential to emerge as a definitive BDIF in the events leading up to Nationals. Kyurem/Thundurus/Deoxys, known simply as Plasma, has such an incredible array of options that I’ll use 4 different lists to explain all the ins and outs of this deck.
The first list is definitely the most traditional and will definitely jump out at the players who tend toward straightforward consistent decks. It’s nothing flashy T1 but could potentially do some damage early on. It’s the most stable throughout and features the least tricks of all the lists I’ll use here.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 40
Energy – 12
I recommend using this as a base list and moving in whichever direction you feel is appropriate for your metagame throughout Battle Roads, etc. It’s got all the new cards the deck will need to function, namely Team Plasma’s Poké Ball, Float Stone, and Shadow Triad; cards you won’t find in many other decks.
Most people might suggest more Float Stone but I believe the Dowsing Machine justifies playing only 1, with 3 Switch. This list maxes out on both Ultra Ball and Plasma Poké Ball which works very well with the higher Colress count, but you can be sure this number will diminish across the more extravagant lists.
Finally, the single Shadow Triad gives you all the recurrence you’ll need and works pretty nicely with some cool tricks in the deck. I won’t name all the cards you can get back with this card, but the list is rather extensive. You can be sure that if this card makes it to the late game after all the Junipers and Ultra Balls, it WILL change the game in your favor.
The next list is one that could cause the low damage decks a lot of problems but will more than likely fall to Blastoise and Eels. The Max Potion version of the deck is one that didn’t occur to me until a couple days into testing, but since then I’ve realized how much potential this version could have. Here’s the list:
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 41
Energy – 11
The obvious advantage of this list is that if your opponent can’t deal a 1HKO on a Thundurus, they’re stuck dealing X damage only to be Max Potioned.
Big Basics decks did the same thing throughout States and Regionals, but the big difference here is that Thundurus can recycle the energies instead of relying on one energy from the hand each turn, like Landorus did. So now instead of losing an energy each turn, you’re actually keeping the same number on board by bringing back the lost energy and throwing it on a benched Deoxys or Thundurus.
pokemon-paradijs.comDoing this over even just a turn or two should give you enough damage and energy on the board to run them out of resources and flood them with big attacks from any of your Pokémon in the end game.
The number of Thundurus and Kyurem and changed a little from the first list just to accommodate the other changes that were made. Obviously you’ll need more Thundurus than Kyurem here to keep the energy flowing, and you have to take hits on Ultra Ball, Colress Machine, and a Blend to make room for the Potions themselves.
The eighth ball is a luxury that can’t really hold a spot in the deck very long when you’re trying to clear room for potency cards.
The Colress Machine cut is probably the most staggering here. By lowering the Kyurem count, the need for a T1 Colress Machine isn’t as present as it would be with 2 Kyurem because you don’t have to worry about getting two energy down to attack T1 if you start with it.
Cutting the fourth Blend is kind of a perfect fit here because you have the high Thundurus count to keep bringing the energy back. While that is nice, though, going to 11 energy isn’t bad in the first version of the deck; 12 is actually on the conservative side.
Turn One (Bicycle)
For this next list, we’re going to look at the fastest possible way of playing the deck. This deck’s meant to hit T1 and just get an overwhelming amount of damage down before anything even happens. This version of the deck will probably prove to be best against anything that requires setting up, namely Blastoise, Eels, and really any decks with evolutions. If this version of the deck goes first against any of these matchups, good luck to them catching up.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 42
Energy – 10
People might feel a little uneasy about going that low on energy but at the rate this deck runs through itself early on, you’re bound to hit one early on, and from there on it’s all about recycling with Thundurus and resource management.
As with any T1 deck, how players conserve their resources defines who wins the mirror and which players rise to the top tables. Also, energy are dead cards when you’re trying to Bicycle T1, and more often than not, they’ll be Ultra Ball fodder when you have them in excess in your deck.
Another thing you’ll notice is that there are only 3 Catchers in this list. This is an unfortunate side effect to playing Bicycle. The thing about going off T1 and having effective Bicycles is that you have to have cards to burn, and Catcher is not one which you can easily burn in the early turns of the game.
If you look at the list almost every card can be played at any point during your first turn. While playing multiple Lasers on the same turn is annoying, you can’t really afford to play fewer than 4 with Virbank just because of how effective it is throughout the game. You can also bring it back with Triad.
The only other flaw with this deck is the low Supporter count, but I think that’s more than justified by the 4 Bicycles. This version is definitely one that can pull out quick wins or set up a huge advantage very early on. Just be mindful that this deck will underperform late game, so unless you get a lead, you’ll have trouble bringing home the W.
Lugia (Frozen City)
The last list is by far the trickiest. It’s got a lot of cool options and I’ll just go right into it because the list should really speak for itself.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 39
Energy – 12
Here’s my take on a Plasma with Lugia list. Again I keep the ball count at 7 and the energies stay at 12 to accommodate the DCE’s. Hypnotoxic Laser had to take a hit here to make room for some of the Lugia space. The way I see it, is that Poison is counterintuitive to the idea that Lugia should be drawing an extra prize each time it attacks. I try to make up for it in the Stadium count however.
The Scramble Switch is meant to keep Lugia moving and ready to attack. Getting a Lugia dirty before it goes up to attack can really put a damper on its potential when it hits the field, so you need the Scramble Switch to make the first Lugia attack a surprise, hopefully opening you up to a second attack. There are a lot of situations, especially with the fast nature of this deck, where a second Lugia attack wins the game, and if not, the third will.
Kyurem is Lugia’s ideal partner in every way. Having the potential to spread 30/30 at a minimum for 2 energy puts a lot of EX’s into one shot range for Lugia with Deoxys. Thundurus is there to keep the energy on the table long enough for the Lugia and Scramble Switch to find their way into your hand. Everything just really works out to incorporate Lugia into a winning strategy in this deck.
The Frozen City is something I also really like in conjunction with Lugia. Cutting the Dowsing Machine was really heartbreaking for me, but it gave me an excuse to add a third Stadium, and instead of jumping straight for the 3rd Virbank, Frozen City came to mind. Save the mirror match, this card can be a game winner in a few matchups.
The most obvious advantage this card provides is how crazy it is against Blastoise. If you stick this as your third and final Stadium very late game, not only will they be caught off guard, but by then many of their Pokémon will have spread damage on them, and may not have enough HP to afford getting energy.
Also, very early game this card can put down quick damage so a fast Lugia isn’t out of the question anymore. The real idea behind this card is that once the Stadium war is over, slapping this card down could really put your opponent in a bad spot especially if they can’t move it. This is definitely a card to keep your eye out for in any Plasma deck; very smart play, even without Lugia.
I’ll transition away from Plasma stuff for now and move onto another deck I think some people are discrediting in the upcoming format. The glamour of Super Energy Retrieval in Blastoise and all the new Plasma cards are taking people’s eyes off the classics and I think this could be a big misstep. I believe strongly that many of the decks that were good at Regionals will remain good throughout Battle Roads and Nationals.
A deck I’d like to revisit with the new cards is one that I’m sure a lot of people have questions about: Rayeels. I think this deck gains one really important card I mentioned earlier which could keep it in the top tier, but also, its redeeming qualities in the Blastoise matchup remain. It also maintains the ability to get 1HKO after 1HKO each turn.
These are some things that won’t change as long as Rayquaza EX and Eelektrik are legal, and this isn’t a deck that just becomes bad overnight. If Landorus didn’t get rid of Rayeels, Plasma sure won’t, and here’s why.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
This list has its flaws, but it more than makes up for them in its raw consistency. Ditto is basically a corrective starter, but it doubles as a great strategic choice late game that helps keep energy on board in the case of low eels. The attackers are pretty standard with regular Rayquaza as my sigilyph option as well as the answer to Black Kyurem. None of that stuff is new though.
The real gold in this list is the Mime once again. Maybe it’s just me, but Mr. Mime seems like a standout card in a few decks. In here, it prevents 3 different decks from going to town on your Rayquazas, Tyanamos, and Eels on the bench.
From experience as a Darkrai player, Darkrai’s only real offense against Rayeels is KOing Eelektriks right away while putting 30 on as many Rays as possible, then hoping to clean them up with a Dark Claw/Laser later on. Kyurem’s attacks will prove to have the same effect as Landorus in this matchup which is why Mime is so important.
pokemon-paradijs.comWith Landy in the format, most likely paired with Garbodor/Float Stone, Tynamos aren’t safe, but this is nothing new. If Eels could mow down Landorus decks at States, I don’t doubt it could do the same at Battle Roads, especially when the Eels player is preventing bench damage.
Mr. Mime does the same thing in this deck as it did for Darkrai; it provides a decoy. If a Landy/Darkrai/Kyurem has to deal with Catchering and KOing the Mime, not only do they have to take their eyes off that Eel for the turn, but they’re letting you keep a whole turn of energy/motor down without any pressure.
Mime is the game changer for this deck, and with Ditto in here, he’ll always have a home on your bench. If they’re really putting pressure on you, Super Rodding this card back into your deck could be the game ender, so make sure you give this deck a test before you break your Eels apart to build Plasma.
Alright so I went pretty in depth into a couple topics I think can really help improve your performance at Battle Roads, because after all, that’s what I’m here for.
I want to make sure something’s really clear for you guys though. When I toss all these lists at you the idea isn’t to scroll to them, copy them into your bebesearch accounts, and start testing right away. Reading the write-up is 75% of what the article is about because it explains the theory behind what’s gone into the deck.
If you really want to get the most out of the article, understand why these cards are in there. With that understanding comes better gameplay with the deck, and it even tells you what changes need be made when you’re testing the lists, or preferably, your takes on the list.
I know, for me at least, that a very large portion of the time I put into Pokémon is time spent doing theorymon because testing bad ideas to realize they’re bad is very inefficient and will get boring very quickly. Having thoughtful and realistic conversations about experiences with or against a deck, or speculating and writing lists, is the best thing you can do.
Doing this leaves you impartial as to which side of the matchup you’re on and it also helps you devise what you really need in your lists and what you’re only keeping in there because it helped you that one time but probably won’t ever again.
Any good deck builder will tell you the same thing. Take your knowledge of the game and assemble the 60 cards that will lead you to the highest percentage of wins. That sounds broad, but this is a numbers game, and if you see something in the game you feel could be incredible, then test it, refine it, and then play the probability in-game and that’s all you can really ask for.
This is the process by which I create all of my lists, and although sometimes it isn’t clear as to which deck will give you the most wins, you can usually narrow it down to 2-3 serious choices through observing other players play and your own testing.
What I’m really trying to get at, guys, is that the write-ups are the valuable things here, not the lists themselves; the lists are just the manifestations of the ideas presented in the descriptions of the decks.
That’s why there are four Plasma lists up there. It’s not so you can test all 4 and see which you like best, rather it’s so you can see which cards are expendable when YOU decide how YOU want to change the deck to how YOU think it will perform best.
Well, that’s all for this article guys. Please let me know what you guys thought in the thread and remember to click “Like” if you found it helpful. I appreciate it. See you all in May with an article about prepping for Nationals.
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