Time to Get Back into the Trance: Darkrai/Hydreigon Deck Analysis

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Back in the trance!

Hey SixPrizes! I’m going to be talking about an old favorite deck of mine today, as I think it now has the potential to do fairly well at City Championships and onwards.

The deck is based around Hydreigon DRX 97 using its Dark Trance Ability to move D Energies (as well as Blend GRPD and Prism Energies) between your attackers an unlimited number of times per turn.

This works well with Max Potion as you can move all of your Energies off of your attacker, heal it, and then move the Energies back again. That, in a nutshell, is the basic concept behind of the deck. There are however a multitude of different ways to play the deck and I’m going to discuss a couple today.

Skeleton List

To start off, I’m going to share a skeleton list which I will use for all the different variants that I’m going to discuss.

Pokémon – 10

3 Deino DRX 93

2 Hydreigon DRX 97

2 Sableye DEX

2 Darkrai-EX DEX

1 Virizion-EX or Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 28

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Skyla

1 Colress


3 Dark Patch

3 Rare Candy

3 Ultra Ball

2 Max Potion

1 Super Rod

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search or Dowsing Machine


2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

6 D

4 Blend GRPD

Spare Room – 12 Cards

This list is a very bare version of the deck with just the necessities (in my opinion) of most versions of the deck. With a decklist with just the bare bones like that you certainly won’t be winning any tournaments so what cards best fill the space?


Latias-EX and Sigilyph DRX

Latias-EX has seen virtually no play since its release as far as I am aware and Sigilyph DRX hasn’t been seen for a while either. So you might be wondering what has changed now to make these cards such viable options for the deck?

1. The Catcher Errata

So hard to play around now.

Most decks which I have seen achieving success have cut all their Pokémon Catchers, and although some have found replacements in the form of Genesect EX and Ninetales DRX they are less consistent and not commonly used outside of a few decks.

With this being the case if one of these cards is in the Active Spot then it’s probably going to stay there until it gets Knocked Out or you retreat it out. This is incredibly powerful for any card which can prevent a large amount of the opponent’s deck from being able to attack it like these two and a handful of other cards can.

If the opponent can’t attack it with their main attacker, they are either forced to attack with a less optimal attacker, which is damaging their strategy and probably slowing down their game for at least a couple of turns where you can be applying extra pressure with their attacks.

2. The Metagame

Obviously if Latias-EX and Sigilyph DRX weren’t actually stopping any popular cards from attacking it then they wouldn’t be very useful, so much of the success of these card is based on the metagame. For each of these cards I have listed just a few fairly popular cards which are unable to damage these two:


Blastoise BCR, Keldeo-EX, Darkrai EX, Emboar LTR, Hydreigon DRX 97, Deoxys-EX, Lugia EX, Empoleon DEX, Genesect EX, Virizion-EX, Mew-EX, Ninetales DRX, Sigilyph DRX, Suicune PLB, Snorlax PLS

Sigilyph DRX

Black Kyurem-EX PLS, Keldeo-EX, Darkrai EX, Deoxys-EX, Lugia EX, Thundurus EX, Genesect EX, Virizion-EX, Landorus-EX, Mew-EX, Mewtwo EX, Rayquaza EX, Tornadus EX

Major disruption to the following decks:

Speed Darkrai EX, Blastoise BCR/Keldeo-EX/Black Kyurem-EX PLS, Emboar LTR/Rayquaza EX, Empoleon DEX/Dusknoir BCR, Genesect EX/Virizion-EX, Gothitelle LTR/Accelgor DEX/Mew-EX, Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX, Plasma/Lugia EX

As you can see that is almost every competitive deck right now that is doing well. While the cards certainly won’t win the matchup on their own they are very useful in all of these matchups and really put a strain on the opponent and their resources.


Can run through Virizion/Genesect.

Entei-EX offers a nice counter to Virizion-EX/Genesect EX decks and can, alongside other attackers such as Latias-EX and Sigilyph DRX, really make this matchup very strong in our favor. The only things that really cause problems for us are G Booster and Tropius PLB (which isn’t too much of an issue anyway because we can easily KO it).

Basically Entei-EX’s one use in the deck is its second attack, which can 1HKO the opponent’s Genesect EX and quickly finish off the rest of their attackers, because without a heavy discard from G Booster they can’t get a 1HKO back and they will run out of Energies first.

Spiritomb LTR

As mentioned above, G Booster is one of the only ways that Virizion-EX/Genesect EX has a decent chance against this deck. It can break any Safeguard lock and 1HKO EX’s before they can be healed with Max Potion, not to mention remove Energies from our board and slow us down.

If Virizion/Genesect is really big in your metagame then I would say this is a pretty good tech, but if it’s not that much more popular than the other top tier decks then I wouldn’t play it as there are plenty of other options available.

Cresselia-EX and Mewtwo EX

I’m grouping these together as they fulfill a similar purpose in the deck. Their basic function is to take advantage of Dark Trance and grab a big Knock Out late game on an opposing Mewtwo EX (or Deoxys-EX) and finish off the game.

They have a few other uses as well. Cresselia-EX’s self-healing Ability is useful when you have run out of Max Potion and is also a good card to stall behind for a couple of turns while setting up.

Mewtwo EX, on the other hand, is great because it can hit for unlimited amounts of damage (limited only to the number of Energy attached to it), so it’s great for finishing off a big EX for the last couple Prizes. Whether you decide to play them or not they are both fairly useful attackers for the deck in different situations.

Terrakion LTR

Still good versus Darkrai.

This deck can sometimes struggle against Darkrai EX/Garbodor DRX decks, so this can act as a surprise attacker alongside a Tool Scrapper to turn the whole game on its head. If the opponent Knocked Out something the previous turn then just a single Prism Energy and a D Energy will return the KO on a Darkrai EX.

It’s important to note, though, that this card cannot use the same Blend Energy as the rest of the attackers in the deck use, so you will need to use Prism Energies or basic F Energies to play Terrakion.

Mr. Mime PLF

This is a staple in virtually every deck right now and for good reason. Preventing your opponent from being able to hit the Bench with attacks dramatically reduces the damage output of attackers such as Darkrai EX, Landorus-EX, and Kyurem PLF.

With the main attacker being able to heal off with Max Potions, the opponent will often rely on Bench damage to run you out of Max Potions quickly, but with Mr. Mime on the Bench this is no longer an issue.

Absol PLF

Having a non-EX attacker that doesn’t hog up lots of Energies and force a discard can be very useful, in particular when facing an opponent’s Safeguarder. I don’t currently play it because of the lack of these cards in my own metagame at the moment, but if they get popular it will be an easy addition.

The major problem which I see with Absol PLF is that it doesn’t really work well with the strategy of the deck because it is very flimsy and can be taken out with a single attack relatively easy.

Giratina EX

This card has fallen out of favor in this deck of late, but it has several useful purposes. It’s great for taking out a powerful Dragon-type EX card like Rayquaza EX or Black Kyurem EX in the late game, something which no other card in the deck can reliably do.

It also, more importantly, has an attack which can pass through effects on the Defending Pokémon such as Safeguard which enables it to 1HKO Sigilyph DRX and damage Suicune PLB as well.

Silver Bangle and Dark Claw

silver bangle plasma blast plb 88
Lets Hydreigon score 1HKOs.

These cards are both options for hitting magic numbers with Hydreigon and Darkrai EX. A Night Spear snipe with Darkrai puts a Kyurem PLF into knockout range with a Night Spear + Dark Claw, and two Bench snipes can take out a 170 HP EX after hitting it with a Claw’d Night Spear.

Silver Bangle is probably even more useful, though, as it enables Hydreigon to Knock Out 170 HP EX’s in one hit such as Genesect EX, Keldeo-EX, and Rayquaza EX. Whether you play it or not depends on the variant of the deck and how much focus you put on Hydreigon as an attacker, but it’s certainly an option to bear in mind.

Current List

Anyway, those were all the interesting techs I wanted to talk about. I am changing my list all the time, but at the moment, looking at the current metagame, here is what I am going with:

Pokémon – 163 Deino DRX 932 Hydreigon DRX 973 Darkrai-EX DEX2 Sableye DEX

2 Sigilyph DRX

1 Entei-EX

1 Latias-EX

1 Mr. Mime PLF

1 Virizion-EX


Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Skyla

1 Colress

1 Random Receiver


3 Dark Patch

3 Max Potion

3 Rare Candy

3 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine


2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 12

6 D

4 Blend GRPD

2 Prism



This is always a tough section as there is so much variation between opposing lists, and this list is very versatile — so it can be teched against certain matchups. Obviously this is going to be very subjective, but in my opinion with this list the matchups fall roughly as follows:

Blastoise BCR/Keldeo-EX/Black Kyurem EX – 65/35

Sigi does work here.

You might be surprised that this is another positive matchup, considering that this deck was the one which almost finished off Hydreigon when Plasma Storm was released.

Between Sigilyph DRX and Latias-EX, you can shut off all their attackers, though, meaning that without Pokémon Catcher anymore the game appears almost unwinnable.

Because Sigilyph DRX can’t block off Blastoise BCR and Latias-EX can’t block off Black Kyurem EX it isn’t an auto-win by any means, but they generally run out of resources switching between such Energy-heavy attackers. In particular, Blastoise BCR can be 1HKO’d by a Hydreigon DRX if they are forced to attack with it.

Empoleon DEX/Dusknoir BCR – 65/35

Latias-EX is the star of this game. If it’s prized or Knocked Out, the matchup can be quite difficult. However, if it can be put in the Active quickly, the opposition won’t be able to use Empoleon to get any damage on the board at all.

The one thing to be careful of is not to load too many Energies onto the field so that their Leafeon PLF can take advantage. As long as you don’t do this, you can heal off the damage with Max Potions, and once you get rid of a couple Leafeon, the game will normally be over.

Virizion-EX/Genesect EX – 60/40

This is a fairly strong matchup for us, as Latias-EX and Sigilyph DRX are both great counters to the two main attackers in the deck. The two big problems are that they can use Red Signal to break the lock and G Booster to 1HKO EX’s and remove Energies from play.

If this deck is dominating your metagame then adding a Spiritomb PLB is definitely a great call and probably makes this matchup closer to 70/30; it’s really that good.

Rayquaza EX/Emboar LTR – 65/35 to 35/65

Not what you want to see.

This matchup depends a lot on the opponent’s list because if they are using multiple Rayquaza DRV and Reshiram LTR, then the matchup is actually very tough. Rayquaza EX can easily take care of Darkrai EX, and Sigilyph DRX and Latias-EX aren’t very useful at all against those two non-EX attackers.

Darkrai EX/Garbodor DRX – 35/65

This variant (and most variants) of the deck really struggle against any decks that block off Abilities as this deck is almost totally reliant on them. Tool Scrappers help, but the opponent can attach Tools on their turn and break through Safeguard locks.

Hammer-spam versions are probably the worst opposition to this deck, as it runs half Special Energies, so Enhanced Hammers destroy the deck.

If this deck is very popular in your area I would either recommend not playing Hydreigon at all or playing a couple Terrakion LTR and basic F Energies instead of the Prism Energies and a couple other attackers.


Thanks everyone for reading this article, and I hope that if you haven’t considered testing out this deck already then you will give it a try, as it has a high level of versatility which can be tailored for almost every metagame.

I would be very interested to hear any other suggestions that you have for altering this deck to beat certain matchups, and if you have any other comments or questions I will be happy to answer them.

Reader Interactions

24 replies

  1. Brandon Jones

    Someone posted here on the 6P forums a list that uses Genesect EX as a Pokemon Catcher, and also has Lugia EX in the deck to go along with the Plasma Energy. I played around with it and the deck is really great. People should consider it as a choice for Darkrai/Hydreigon.

    • Matthew King  → Brandon

      Interesting idea and certainly something I had never considered, the deck has got the room and the versatility to work with mad concepts like that and I can see the idea bringing a surprise Lugia EX out of nowhere as being quite powerful. I guess the biggest problem would be consistency and you would probably have to cut some Blend Energies and remove some other attackers in order to maintain that, thus removing some of the versatility. It certainly sounds like a fun concept to test out though.

  2. Ben Potulski

    I think you’re overrating the Empoleon matchup, especially with only the 1 Latias in the deck. If they get damage on the field at any point before you get a Latias, or get 2 free attacks with leafeon, or warp point, it’s easy for them to dusknoir the damage over to latias and take that threat out of the game, as well as some crucial special energies.

    It’s still a good matchup, but not over as easily as you make out.

    I’d also recommend trying out the deino which does 10 damage, with the increase of Flareon/Leafeon, as you’re often left 10 short, and can’t do bench damage with Mr.Mime., and allows you to scapegoat a Deino to get another bench space.

    • Matthew King  → Ben

      I kind of agree looking back on this that I was perhaps slightly generous to the match-up as I overlooked Escape Rope. Obviously the matchups are very subjective and deck-list dependant anyway so its hard to give an accurate score. So just to clear this up I would classify the match-up as “Slightly favourable.”

      I can see the argument for the other Deino and I never really thought about the Deino choice in too much detail as I just assumed that Paralysis would be more useful than the others. If you do need an extra ten damage it is worth noting that Sableye DEX can attack with Confuse Ray if need be, but I understand your point.

  3. Will H

    So, imo, Eviolite is almost essential in any build that is trying to tank with max potion. Taking two attacks with a single darkrai is amazing, and it makes the RayBoar matchup bearable. Also saves early basics from damage, and lets your 1-of’s survive longer.

    • Matthew King  → Will

      Interesting idea and I can see why you would suggest that, my problem with the idea is that RayBoar decks are typically running high counts of Tool Scrapper with 2/3 probably in the deck right now, so they would be able to get rid of an Eviolite relatively easy at crucial moments.

      Obviously they are more effective late-game as they run out of resources so Junk-Hunting for Eviolites again at the end game seems like a reasonable idea.

      • Tyler Morris  → Matthew

        Pretty sure I haven’t seen any good Ray lists with 2-3 scrappers in them as a standard choice. Maybe if you’re expecting to run into some Garb somewhere, but not just because.

        • Matthew King  → Tyler

          To be fair I haven’t seen any playing three Tool Scrapper as I was including Dowsing Machine as a potential 3rd Scrapper, but it surprises me that people wouldn’t be playing 2 Scrappers in the deck unless they are just accepting a loss to Garbodor decks.

          I suppose a lot depends on the the metagame but certainly over here Garbodor is fairly popular and I wouldn’t consider going into a tournament without having two Scrappers in a deck almost completely reliant on Abilities.

          Having said that if you don’t have many Garbodor decks in your area then I can see your point, but I can only speak from my meta-game where Garbodor is a popular top tier deck.

  4. Piplup_isPimp

    No offense to the author, but I feel like this article was poorly timed for two reasons:

    Reason 1: I don’t know about everybody else, but if feels like there just isn’t anything more to Hydreigon that hasn’t been explained before, and at this point I find it boring.

    Reason 2: With the release of X&Y coming up in a few months, I see major potential in what new forms the deck may evolve into which will definitely bring Hydreigon back into its more popular state, such as that of when it was first released, instead of it popping up every now and then.

    Going back to reason 1, I understand that some people can explain and discuss card choices and strategies better than others, but when a certain deck can’t make anymore major changes that it already has, it all looks the same.

    Again, I’m not posting this comment as to offend the author, but rather to voice my opinion that I would prefer articles that don’t linger on decks which can’t make anymore progress (discussion wise) past personal meta calls.

    • Matthew King  → Piplup_isPimp

      I understand your point, but I wanted to write about a deck which I was fairly knowledgeable about and had experience on, and there are a few things have been newly discussed.

      Latias EX hasn’t been discussed in great depth as far as I am aware and neither has Spiritomb, the Empoleon match-up and Virizion matchup hasn’t either as far as I know (certainly not since the rule changes) and other decks have changed as well since the rule changes. So as such I feel like Hydreigon does have something to offer for the format.

      Obviously you are free to disagree with me and I understand where you are coming from, but many new players might not know about the deck and considered playing it because it hasn’t been discussed in depth since the release of the new set.

    • Jonas Nisse  → Piplup_isPimp

      I’ve known Mathew since he started playing the Pokemon TCG (When Hydriegon was first releast), it is one of my favourite decks and his as well. We both have been trying to make this deck work again since Plasma Storm.

  5. Mark Hanson

    So what… Black Kyurem BCR just doesn’t exist now? You acknowledge Rayquaza DRV in RayBoar, but not baby black in Blastoise?

    This deck does not have a good Blastoise matchup. Never has, never will. And for the exact same reasons you say it has a bad matchup against RayBoar.

    • Matthew King  → Mark

      Yeah sorry I forgot about Black Kyurem BCR, I guess because I have very rarely seen it I didn’t factor it in. I agree it makes the match-up considerably worse but with the opponent not playing more than one I still think the matchup is quite even if you tech for it.

      • Mark Hanson  → Matthew

        Give me one example of a tech for baby black kyurem. It’s not a card you inherently tech against, nor will your 1 Latias deal with it as they don’t bring it out until Latias is active.

        Straight up, Darkrai hydreigon has no inherent answer that doesn’t just open up the prize exchange again.

        • Matthew King  → Mark

          I meant tech against the deck as a whole not against Black Kyurem sorry for the misunderstanding, there is nothing you can do specifically do against it other than take a knock-out with a Hydreigon or just attack with Darkrai EX and use Max Potion to heal.

        • Mark Hanson  → Matthew

          But that’s what I’m saying. They won’t use it until Latias is dead. So Latias straight up doesn’t work, and might as well not be there assuming prize luck is equal.

          If you don’t have Latias, then your only wall is sigilyph, which a Blastoise can bust through. If you don’t have walls, they’ll just OHKO your pokemon while you 2hko them, or try to stream hydreigons (just like the deck used to).

          Ergo, nothing has changed about the Blastoise matchup. It’s still unfavorable. I wouldn’t say autoloss, but I’m tempted.

  6. Jackson Koshollek

    Hm…. Tropical beach, 4 Ultra Ball, and Multiple Skyla. Does this remind you of any other lists on this site? Like EVERY SINGLE DECK. Well, I wouldn’t say that much, I guess I’m over exaggerating.
    My point is, that even the new rules make it better to use Beach, it still isn’t your greatest choice. Let’s see why.
    1:Not everyone can afford 7 copies for each of their each of their 15 decks. (Again, exaggerating.) It’s not like they are as cheap as Base Set Caterpie.
    2: Sableye is a better choice. You can get back those needed cards in your discard pile in place of getting cards with Beach, like Dark Patch, or Hammers/Lasers if you played them. Maybe even a Max Potion if needed.
    3: Your opponent can use it too, and you really don’t want your opponent getting the cards they need.
    My suggestion is this:
    -2 Beach
    +2 Enhanced Hammer
    This helps with any other DarkDragon matchups, or any Plasma matchups.
    I hope you take what I said into consideration.

    • Jackson Koshollek  → Jackson

      Also get rid of Entei for Victini EX. It does the same damage to VirGen, and can search out any needed energies.

      • Matthew King  → Jackson

        This is an interesting idea because of the ability to search for Energies, however Entei EX is more useful in my opinion for the Virizion-Genesect match-up because it can’t be knocked-out in return easily without a heavy discard whereas all the opponent needs to knock out a Victini EX is Genesect EX’s Megalo Cannon + a Deoxys EX/ a Hypnotoxic Laser.

        I suppose it depends on the kind of VirGen lists you are playing to which card you choose as if they aren’t playing any type of damage booster then Victini EX would be a better choice, however if they are as most of the lists I have seen then I would probably favour Entei EX still.

    • Matthew King  → Jackson

      1. Ultra Ball and Skyla aren’t particularly expensive in their regular form as far as I am aware (I assume you are factoring those into your seven cards per deck) also no-one has 15 decks and even if you did you wouldn’t need more than a few Tropical Beach as you could transfer them between your decks. Also just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be listed in an optimal deck-list.
      2. Yes Sableye is a good choice in most situations, but you can’t attack with it on your first turn whereas you can use a Tropical Beach with a Skyla to ensure yourself a better chance of getting a turn two Hydreigon DRX. Also late-game with a small hand a Tropical Beach is useful. More importantly it acts as a counter Stadium against Virbank City Gym (if your Virizion EX is prized or you don’t have a Blend/Prism Energy) and also Frozen City which decks like Plasma are playing.

      3. That is true but if they are using it then they won’t be attacking, and most set-up decks will have their own anyway.

      DarkDragon decks aren’t that popular and although I feel that they are good decks as highlighted in this article, it won’t be a Tier 1 deck I shouldn’t think.
      Also its not as useful against Plasma decks as it was in the past as most of the lists I have seen have dropped most of their Special Energies, also Plasma’s recent decline in popularity means its not vital to tech against it either unless its big in your area

      I do agree that Tropical Beach isn’t necessary for the deck completely, but it is my job as a writer to give you the list that I feel is the most optimal list from my testing and I feel as highlighted above that if you have Tropical Beach then you should play a couple in the deck. If I wasn’t playing Tropical Beach then I would probably as I told someone below in the comments play a 3rd Sableye DEX an extra supporter for the added consistency that the deck loses without Beach instead of playing something like Enhanced Hammer unless your meta-game was full of the highlighted decks.

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → Jackson

      “My point is, that even the new rules make it better to use Beach, it still isn’t your greatest choice. Let’s see why.
      1:Not everyone can afford 7 copies for each of their each of their 15 decks.
      (Again, exaggerating.) It’s not like they are as cheap as Base Set

      Don’t be so silly.

      The price of Beach has abso-bloody-lutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the card a good choice for the deck. If it WAS the same price as ‘Base Set Caterpie’ it would be exactly as good in decks as it is now.

      Hydreigon is a set up deck. It needs to draw cards. Besides, what ELSE are you going to do on the first turn now that the rules have changed?

  7. koopaman929

    I would run Terrakion LTR – if Blend PFGD included Fighting type.

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