As you probably know by now, Darkrai EX/Garbodor DRX was the deck that achieved the most success at the Klaczynski Open. Because of this, it is important to critique every aspect of the deck if you will be attending any Fall Regionals. For that reason I will be dedicating this entire article to do just that. I will be discussing topics such as which cards absolutely must be included in the deck, which cards are better off left in your binder, how to gain an edge against the mirror, and even how you should expect other players to be preparing for this deck.
It is not very hard to understand why Darkrai/Garbodor performed so well at the Klaczynski Open; every major deck hyped as tier one for our NXD–PLB format relies on Abilities in some way.
Blastoise is little more than dead weight on the bench without its Deluge Ability. Even having the access to two Tool Scrappers and a Dowsing Machine cannot assure a victory for the Blastoise player, as we saw in one of the Top 8 matches at the KO.
Plasma decks thrive in our metagame largely due to Abilities such as Deoxys-EX’s Power Connect. Without these Abilities Plasma loses a lot of the damage output that made it such a strong deck in the first place.
Without Verdant Wind, Virizion/Genesect decks are once again vulnerable to damage and Status Conditions from the dreaded Hypnotoxic Laser.
To make matters worse, any Plasma variant, whether it be the traditional “TDK” focus or the new Virizion/Genesect, is sure to include multiple Special Energy cards. Enhanced Hammer + Sableye’s Junk Hunt can rid the field of Special Energies in a matter of a few turns.
Other decks currently trying to make a name for themselves such as Trubbish/Sigilyph/Masquerain are not capable of realistically functioning without their Abilities.
To begin, let’s take a look at an unadorned DarkGarb skeleton list so that we can see what cards are necessary for a strong and consistent game plan, as well as which cards could be left out if space becomes tight.
Bare Minimum 52 Card List
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 35
1 ACE SPEC
Energy – 8
This list contains only the essential cards I felt I could reduce the deck down to. I strongly suggest that you consider including every one of these cards in all of your Darkrai/Garbodor lists.
The one exception that I see fit to change is removing the single copy of Energy Search for another basic Darkness Energy if you prefer to play the deck in that manner. This is just a very basic list though, so you could always keep the Energy Search and add another Energy.
Why These Cards Are Necessary
Sableye is more than just the preferred starter for this deck. Sableye is also the backbone of why we are able to abuse the weaknesses of so many decks.
Not only does Sableye let us reuse cards such as Pokémon Catcher, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Enhanced Hammer to disrupt our opponents, but he also helps to ensure that we are able to do this every single game with the fantastic benefit of being able to Junk Hunt for a Random Receiver.
2 Darkrai EX
Darkrai is our main source of damage output, therefore it should be pretty obvious that we need multiple copies to be able to eventually take 6 Prizes in any given game. While most players seem to prefer three copies of Darkrai in this deck, two is probably the least amount viable. One should note that Joe Baka was able to finish in 3rd place at the Klaczynski Open with just two Darkrai EX in his deck.
As mentioned so many times before, Garbodor’s Garbotoxin Ability is really what puts this slow deck on a level playing field with all of the current decks in our format. 2-2 is the thinnest line that I would ever consider; any less and you are asking for trouble.
When I was testing the Garbodor deck that I piloted at the World Championships I initially threw in a high Skyla count because it just makes sense, right?
At least in my opinion, Skyla sounds like a really great card for this deck – in theory. With the option of grabbing a Tool to get an early Garbotoxin, an Ultra Ball, Pokémon Catcher, Hypnotoxic Laser, Dark Patch, etc., etc., etc., Skyla sure does sound like a great choice. The reality is however in my experience that I seemingly always need more than just one key card to have an impactful turn. In testing I have also been forced to use Skyla for nothing more than getting a different Supporter to replenish my hand way more times than I’d like to admit.
The reason that Skyla was so successful in Garbodor builds around the time of State Championships last season was due to way the deck plays out with partners other than Sableye and Darkrai. The Garbodor decks that stormed our first week of States were focused around Big Basic attackers such as Landorus-EX and Mewtwo EX.
Once Garbodor was set up the only cards that you often needed to immediately have in your hand were Energies to attack with and Pokémon Catchers/Hypnotoxic Lasers to further manipulate the field. This made Skyla into a very strong inclusion as it was able to get all of these cards (Skyla into Energy Search/Computer Search could get an Energy).
Whenever I played my Big Basics deck at States there would be games that I would literally hold off on playing Supporters that were in my hand for many turns just because I had no need to get new cards. Because of this it very rarely hurt to use my only Supporter for the turn to grab just a single card.
I love having a high Random Receiver count in any deck that includes Sableye because of the big boost in consistency this combination provides.
Deciding on which Tools to use is certainly one of the more flexible aspects of this deck. A Darkrai/Garbodor decklist could realistically include Float Stones, Dark Claws, Silver Mirrors, Life Dew, and even Rock Guard. Just be sure to include at least four Tools to ensure a fast and consistent Garbotoxin lock. It is also a good idea to have a high amount of Float Stones since we are unlikely to fit in more than two Switches.
Due to how often Sableye’s Junk Hunt is abused in Darkrai/Garbodor I really like cutting the 4th Catcher to open up another spot in the list.
Super Rod is a must in my opinion for several reasons. With only a 2-2 Garbodor line we could run into to trouble without Super Rod, especially if we prize a Trubbish or Garbodor. Super Rod is also great for getting back D Energies and our other Pokémon. While playing this deck there have been games that I would have decked out if I did not have Super Rod.
Eight Energies along side an Energy Search is the least amount that I could see being successful; any less and we will miss too many crucial Energy attachments. I greatly enjoy having Energy Search in this list because of how valuable it can be to Junk Hunt for an “Energy.”
Options to Fill in the Remaining Spots
With eight spots left to fill we do have a little bit of freedom in the cards that we choose to add into our list. For example, the winner of the Klaczynski Open chose to play three Enhanced Hammers in his list while another player who made it to the Top 8 with Darkrai/Garbodor did not have any Hammers in his list. Both of these players used three Darkrai EX in their decks while Joe Baka, the third Darkrai/Garbodor player in the Top 8, only used two copies.
Thicker Pokémon Lines
Fitting in a 3rd Trubbish could be game changing for the times when one of your Trubbish is Knocked Out early and the other is in your prizes. The same can be said for upping our Darkrai EX count to three. On average whenever we play just two copies of a card we will prize one copy of it in 18.31% of our games.
As a player I have historically included a 4th copy of my desired starter in a few decks when 99% of others only played three simply because I have wanted to maximize my odds of starting off any given game on the right note. For example I choose to use a 4th Smeargle in my Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX deck at Battle Roads two seasons ago.
Even though I personally have this tendency, I am just not sure if there is enough room in a deck like this to cram in another Pokémon that does not actually offer too much value. Super Rod can also provide us with a 4th Sableye should we ever need one.
Absol is a great card since it requires one less Energy to attack than Darkrai and only gives up 1 Prize instead of two. With that said, I do not have Absol in my current list primarily due to how fragile it is. Absol is Knocked Out easily, taking away two of our precious Energies with it. It is important for us to keep our Energies on the field because we have very limited acceleration.
Tool Scrapper has several uses for this deck. Primarily it is used for discarding G Boosters, Silver Bangles, and Float Stones. There is however one unique play that we can make with Tool Scrapper. It is not unheard of for a Darkrai/Garbodor player to use Tool Scrapper to remove their on Tool from Garbodor so that they gain back the free retreat granted by Dark Cloak.
I am not a fan of Max Potion in this deck at the moment simply because most of the time I feel that I need to keep my Energies on the field for one more turn instead of discarding them to heal a Darkrai. I am unsure of how much impact Max Potion could actually have in the Mirror match.
I love the thought of attaching a Silver Mirror to a Sableye in the Plasma matchup while you continuously Junk Hunt for your Enhanced Hammers. The Silver Mirror will be knocked off via Tool Scrapper at some point, but you can always Junk Hunt it back and reattach it to a Sableye.
Dark Claw is almost a staple for every Darkrai deck nowadays. The extra 20 damage that it provides is huge when you combine it with a Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. Deck space can become tight however, so I can certainly see this deck performing just fine without any Claws.
When you are piloting a Garbodor deck it never hurts to have extra Tools lying around.
The ACE SPEC Decision
There is a beautiful trend that has stayed very much true to Darkrai EX/Garbodor for as long as it has existed. You cannot go wrong with nearly any ACE SPEC choice. From the classic Computer Search to the crazy Rock Guard and everything in-between, I feel like this deck could utilize them all in successful ways.
5. Rock Guard
While Rock Guard would have to be at the bottom of my list I do see potential for it. Rock Guard’s 60 damage + Night Spear’s 90 damage + LaserBank’s 30 damage = 180 damage total. This four card combination grants Darkrai the one quality that it lacks when you compare it to the other heavy hitters of the format; the ability to 1HKO any EX.
There must be a catch right? In fact there are many flaws to this strategy which is why we will likely never see it become popular. To begin with, this is all very situational. We need our opponent’s active to attack into our Pokémon that has Rock Guard attached plus we need to be able to use Night Spear and use a Hypnotoxic Laser with Virbank in play. The most obvious flaw however is that the use of Tool Scrapper is at an all time high.
4. Life Dew
I consider Life Dew to be a better use of of ACE SPEC primarily because its usage is not quite as situational as Rock Guard. But again with so many Tool Scrappers around I am wary of using a Tool as my ACE SPEC.
- Even when discarded with Tool Scrapper Sableye’s Junk Hunt can retrieve them.
- An extra Tool means a more consistent Garbotoxin lock.
Still though, I think we have better ACE SPECs at our disposal.
While there sometimes may be better options, I do not think there will ever be a deck that I could say Computer Search is a bad card in. The fact still remains that Computer Search is the king of consistency when it comes to ACE SPECs. The ability to search out Pokémon and Energy cards should not be overlooked either.
With the rise of Tool Scrapper, the value of Dowsing Machine over Computer Search rises dramatically for a deck relying on keeping Tools on the field. Darkrai/Garbodor also appreciates the pseudo third Virbank that Dowsing Machine can provide due to the now standardized three to four Tropical Beach counts in Blastoise.
1. Gold Potion
Odds are you are probably surprised to see that I have picked Gold Potion as my go to ACE SPEC for Darkrai/Garbodor. If Regionals were today and I decided to pilot this deck then I would absolutely use Gold Potion.
Although we do take a small hit in consistency, I feel like the reward is well worth the risk. Gold Potion can give us a big unexpected edge in virtually any matchup we face.
Blastoise decks often have to settle for using Sacred Sword for 110 damage, Gold Potion makes that attack irrelevant effectively wasting their last turn. Gold Potion is also huge against any mirror match we face, immediately erasing a Night Spear.
Remember the advantage that Life Dew provided Plasma decks this past season against mirror matches and Darkrai decks? Gold Potion can do the same thing except we do not have to fear Tool Scrapper like we do with Life Dew.
Of course there are some downsides that come with Gold Potion, such as the times that our Darkrai EX is 1HKO’d. Gold Potion is also not likely to help us when used on a Sableye or a Garbodor, whereas Life Dew is always helpful no matter which Pokémon it is attached to.
As of right now Gold Potion has been an invaluable asset in my testing for Regionals. I am excited to see if it continues to impress or if I will eventually go back to a safer option.
In my testing it has been risky to play with only a single Switch, so it did not take me long to realize that I prefer a second copy.
Like most Darkrai/Garbodor lists, I chose to enlist the help of a couple Enhanced Hammers to make life a lot easier against Plasma decks. My strategy against Plasma decks is to use my Hammers as fast and as often as possible. I spend a majority of my early turns using Junk Hunt to reuse Hammers.
I do want a 3rd Enhanced Hammer in my list, however at the same time I would not want to add another card that is useless in a majority of the matchups.
Regardless of my ACE SPEC decision I would add another Supporter card, however because I personally chose Gold Potion over the more traditional consistency options I have added two additional Supporter options to the skeleton list above.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 41
Energy – 9
Here is my current list. The only card that I am not sold on at the moment is my single Dark Claw. I have recently entertained the thought of dropping my Dark Claw so that I could add in one of many options such as a Tool Scrapper, a 3rd Enhanced Hammer, a 4th Dark Patch, a 4th Ultra Ball or a 3rd Trubbish. The primary reason that I have kept the Dark Claw in so far is that I feel more comfortable having an extra Tool in the deck for Garbodor.
How will other players prepare for Darkrai/Garbodor?
Aside from the obvious “Add more Tool Scrappers!” approach, there are actually a few ways to prepare to face Garbodor. I expect a resurgence in the use of Dowsing Machine at Regionals. Switching over from Computer Search to Dowsing Machine is much easier than trying to squeeze an extra Tool Scrapper into decks. This is something that can be done to any deck.
Though it may not be the best idea, I would not be surprised to see a Blastoise player using a Manaphy PLS to attach Energies to Keldeo-EXs from the discard pile. They could also include a couple of Float Stones to prevent our Catcher stalling tactics. These two ideas do not seem as useful as more the more Tool Scrapper approach in theory, but they are things to keep in mind.
In Jay’s latest article he mentions that a Plasma deck can tech a Promo Landorus as a Darkrai counter. Honestly I had forgotten all about this, card but it does sound like it could be very effective against us.
Playing Against These Counters
When playing against a deck that you know has multiple Tool Scrappers as well as a Dowsing Machine it is important to attach your Tools scarcely. Try to keep no more than one Tool on the field at a time so that you are always able to reattach a Tool to your benched Garbodor the turn after Scrapper is used.
Playing against Promo Landorus can be difficult. Even your best attempt to prevent your opponent from matching your hand size could fail. The best way for us to keep Landorus from devastating our field is to spread our Energies out as best we can instead of committing all of our Energy attachments to the same Darkrai EX.
After crushing the Klaczynski Open Darkrai/Garbodor is sure to seen everywhere at our Fall Regionals. Even if you decide against playing the deck yourself it will still be very beneficial to recognize every card that could be included; this could save you later.
It feels strange to jump straight into Regionals without playing in any Battle Roads first, but I am confident that with dedication and the right preparation that anyone is capable of performing well.
As for myself, I am not yet sure If I will be able to attend any Regionals in October. If I do then I will be in Philadelphia again, so be sure to stop by introduce yourself if you will be there. Last year in Philly I met and played against a few incredible people that recognized me from my articles, and I hope to meet even more of you throughout this season.
If I am not back with another article before Regionals then I wish you all the best of luck. Above all else travel safely and have a great time with great friends!
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