With Regionals out of the way, everybody shifted their focus to the best cards coming out of XY. The first step when a new set comes out is to analyze all the cards with potential, which has been done for the past month.
With States around the corner, the next logical step is to see how the cards from XY impact the current archetypes or possibly form new archetypes all together. It is one thing to realize a card like Muscle Band has potential, but it’s another to figure out how to incorporate it into an already established deck. This is because it can be difficult to figure out how many copies to play, what cards to replace, and how the rest of the deck should change to work with the new inclusion.
To help everyone prepare for States I’ll be discussing my thoughts on Dragonite, Darkrai, and Plasma with addition of XY because these are the decks I had the most experience playing during the Regionals format. Dragonite has been discussed a few times, but several people have still expressed interest in my thoughts on it. Darkrai and Plasma have been brought up so many times, but I believe these two decks have tons of new options to discuss depending on what matchups you want to prepare for.
I’ll start off briefly recapping my Regionals and then going into the viability of these three decks in the upcoming format.
Table of Contents
Going into Regionals I was having trouble narrowing down what to play. I really liked Darkrai/Garbodor, but it struggled a lot with Virizion/Genesect. Plasma was my safe choice since it didn’t seem to have any bad matchups, but it also didn’t seem to have any good matchups either. This meant that if all my opponents played optimally, I would only win about half my games. This caused me to look for something else to play.
The night before the tournament I decided to throw together Dragonite/Garbodor/Reuniclus. This idea was inspired by my two friends Jit Min and Charles Barton. Charles Barton had showed me a build of Dragonite/Garbodor, but I felt the Darkrai matchup was close and it had a difficult time against Virizion/Genesect.
A few days before Regionals, Jit Min had the idea to play Dragonite/Reuniclus since not every deck can Knock Out Dragonite in one turn. This deck was strong against Virizion/Genesect, Plasma, and Darkrai, but decks such as Blastoise were very difficult to beat because Reuniclus is largely useless.
I decided several cards in the Dragonite/Reuniclus build, such as Max Potion, felt like “win more” cards. Once Dragonite was set up, several matchups were already essentially over. I then took out these cards to improve consistency and fit in a small Garbodor line. I didn’t have time to test these changes, but I felt with the right matchups I would perform better than if I stuck with Plasma. This is the list I came up with:
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 32
Energy – 9
The General Strategy
It’s difficult to give a linear strategy for Dragonite because certain cards are completely dead in one matchup, but game-changing in another. The main attacker of the deck is going to be Dragonite and the goal of the deck is to stream the attack Deafen. The next choice is deciding whether Garbodor or Reuniclus will be more helpful in the matchup you are playing against.
In general, if your opponent cannot Knock Out Dragonite in one turn then Reuniclus is better. If your opponent relies on Abilities, then Garbodor is better. However, it isn’t always so clear which is better. I’ll discuss a few of the interesting card choices, go into the matchups, and then discuss how XY impacts Dragonite.
I played G Energy solely to utilize Virizion-EX. At first glance this seems to solely be a counter to Accelgor-based decks. While it does counter Accelgor, it is also very important in the Darkrai matchup. Since Dragonite has room for only a couple of switching cards, it is very vulnerable to Confuse Ray from Sableye. Flipping a single tails on confusion allows the Darkrai player to play all of their Items and come back into the game. Virizion-EX eliminates the Darkrai player’s only out once Dragonite and Reuniclus are set up.
Cresselia is meant to be used in conjunction with Reuniclus. It doesn’t seem like it heals a lot of damage, but it actually does make a difference when you take into consideration how long it takes to win a game doing 60 or 90 damage a turn. This gives your opponent lots of opportunities to build up damage in play. If you Deafen at least 9 times and use Cresselia-EX every turn, then Cresselia-EX already healed at least 180 damage. It is essentially a searchable Max Potion as well as a Pokémon with a high amount of HP to move damage to.
Mewtwo is the backup attacker for the deck. It can be used as an answer to an opposing Mewtwo-EX, a loaded Keldeo-EX, or a late game Shaymin-EX. Mewtwo-EX is a reactive card in this deck in order to trade with Pokémon capable of Knocking Out multiple Dragonites. Although it was often a dead card, it was the sole reason I was able to win several close games at Regionals.
This card seemed gimmicky and Colress is potentially a better replacement. However, an early Ghetsis against a deck like Blastoise could delay their Stage 2 one turn. This is important in the Dragonite matchup because it allows you to Deafen your opponent out of Rare Candy.
It was also useful in the Tool Drop matchup because Tool Drop would often open with hands full of Item cards. If they opened with Random Receiver or Bicycle instead of a Supporter, Ghetsis essentially won the game right there. It also helped as a mid to late game draw Supporter because your opponent often had a large hand filled with Items. Sometimes Ghetsis proved to be a very powerful Supporter, but other times it was very underwhelming.
I had a very difficult time deciding whether to play Dowsing Machine or Computer Search. After playing in Regionals I’m still not sure what the correct answer is because they are each better in different situations.
I prefer Computer Search because the deck needs to set up a lot of different pieces, but once the deck is set up a lot of matchups are nearly impossible to lose. In addition, getting Deafen off before your opponent gets their Stage 2 is game changing. Computer Search helped me do this several times during Regionals.
The reason I considered Dowsing Machine is to lessen the impact of bad early game discards. This is because without any Stage 1s, it was very difficult to discard Rare Candy in certain matchups. Against a Darkrai/Garbodor deck, it was very difficult to win if you discarded Tool Scrapper.
I ultimately decided I liked the added speed and consistency of Computer Search better than the insurance of Dowsing Machine. I cut down to only 3 Professor Juniper to reduce the risk of discarding key cards on the first few turns due to the lack of Dowsing Machine. 1 Dragonair is also an option to help alleviate the Rare Candy dilemma.
No Champion’s Festival
Somehow a rumor started that I played this card. While I considered it, it simply isn’t worth the space because your opponent almost always has a counter Stadium. Champion’s Festival would be a great addition if you could guarantee it stays in play for a few turns, but as it stands Cresselia-EX is more consistent in terms of healing.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how the deck works, I’ll go into more detail about how I attempted to play out the popular matchups.
This was Dragonite’s strongest matchup because without any non-Team Plasma they have no way to damage Dragonite with Silver Mirror. However, it is important to set up Garbodor in order to stop Red Signal. With Garbodor blocking Red Signal and Deafen blocking Tool Scrapper it is impossible to lose once the deck sets up.
If your opponent techs a Mewtwo-EX then you have to set up two Dragonites and a Mewtwo to counter their Mewtwo. This makes the matchup a lot closer, but if you manage to Knock Out the Mewtwo-EX and Deafen with a second Dragonite then your opponent will simply be out of options. It really just comes down to the setup of both players.
Darkrai/Garbodor is another favorable matchup for Dragonite. Once you set up a Dragonite and a Reuniclus, your opponent will be unable to Knock Out a Dragonite. Virizion-EX prevents them from attempting Confuse Ray with Sableye and Mr. Mime helps protect Solosis and prevents 30 damage from Night Spear every turn.
The most important thing to remember in this matchup is to save the Tool Scrapper until the turn you Deafen. Garbodor shuts off all the Abilities that the Dragonite deck relies on in this matchup. It is very likely that your opponent will get a Trubbish with a Tool before you get a Dragonite using Deafen. However, once you use Deafen and play Tool Scrapper on the same turn your opponent will be unable to reattach a Tool provided you Deafen for the rest of the game. Reuniclus ensures that Dragonite will survive to lock your opponent out of the game.
The goal of this matchup is to set up Dragonite and a Reuniclus with Silver Mirror. Your opponent will be able to Red Signal your Benched Pokémon, but they will not have a way to Knock Out Reuniclus since they cannot play Tool Scrapper.
It is important to save Tool Scrapper if they drop G Booster before you use Deafen. If your opponent plays Shaymin-EX or Mewtwo-EX then you will need to setup a second Dragonite and a Mewtwo-EX in order to prevent them from Knocking Out several Dragonites.
This matchup is very close and often comes down to how fast each deck sets up in the beginning of the game. If you are able to Deafen them out of Rare Candy then you are in a very favorable position. It is best to set up Garbodor in this matchup since their deck relies on Abilities, as well as multiple Dragonites since it is likely a couple Dragonites will be Knocked Out. Mewtwo is a decent counter to a loaded Keldeo if you don’t have enough Dragonites to deal with it.
The Emboar matchup actually plays out very differently than the Blastoise matchup. Deafening to prevent Rare Candy puts you in a strong position yet again because you are facing a deck that relies on a Stage 2. However, Reuniclus is actually more useful than Garbodor most of the time. This is because without Reuniclus, Reshiram can trade with a Dragonite by just using Outrage. If two Reshirams trade with two Dragonites then Rayquaza-EX will easily be able to clean up.
Even if your opponent sets up Emboar, the matchup is winnable without Garbodor. Reuniclus forces your opponent to attack with Rayquaza DRV and Rayquaza-EX. These Pokémon rely on one of the three L Energy cards in the Emboar deck. Dragonite is able to Knock Out Rayquaza-EX with one Deafen due to Silver Bangle. This means that with three Dragonites, you can remove all the Lighting Energy from play while preventing your opponent from playing Superior Energy Retrieval.
With no L Energy, your opponent will have no way to Knock Out Dragonite in one turn, allowing Reuniclus to keep your last Dragonite alive.
Dragonite with XY
Unfortunately, Dragonite doesn’t gain that much from the new XY cards. Dragonite has the option to use Muscle Band, but often Silver Bangle is more useful for Knocking Out EXs. One or two copies of Shauna are a possible inclusion as they are safer draws early game than Colress. On top of not getting much support, a couple new cards came out in XY that are difficult for Dragonite to deal with.
Skarmory-EX can use Joust to remove Dragonite’s Silver Mirror. This is a potential tech that Plasma can now run instead of Mewtwo. If this card becomes popular, one way to adapt would be to play a 3rd copy of Silver Mirror and a Dowsing Machine. This would allow you to reattach Silver Mirror after every Joust until you Knock Out Skarmory-EX. The other option would be to play Dragonite/Garbodor/Victini-EX as Victini is a strong counter to Skarmory.
If Trevenant rises in popularity Dragonite will have to run one or more copies of Dragonair. Otherwise, it will simply be impossible to set up multiple Dragonites since your opponent will be able to reliably get a turn two Item lock.
The most troublesome card is Yveltal-EX. This card gives Darkrai decks the option to Knock Out Dragonite in one turn. There isn’t a good response to this without running a hard counter to Yveltal-EX. However, I’m not sure if the deck can play a counter like Raichu while maintaining consistency.
My advice would be to find a counter to Yveltal-EX before playing this at States. Otherwise, wait to see if the metagame shifts to a point where everybody is attempting to counter Yveltal rather than playing it. The deck still maintains its other positive matchups and not many people are likely to be teching against it, so it still has some viability. It just needs to be played in the right metagame.
Yveltal-EX is one of the most impactful cards to come out of XY next to Muscle Band. While Yveltal-EX may find its way as a tech into several decks, I believe the archetype it will find the most success with is when partnered with Darkrai-EX and Bouffalant. I’ll go over a skeleton list and then talk about possible additions depending on what becomes popular come States:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 33
Energy – 11
Open Spots – 6
The Impact of XY
XY gave Darkrai decks Yveltal-EX and Muscle Band. Yveltal-EX complements Darkrai-EX because it is another strong Dark-type that is not weak to Fighting. In addition, Darkrai was always limited by its damage cap and it was very easy to predict what the Darkrai player was going to do. Now, Yveltal-EX gives the Darkrai player the option to Knock Out EXs in one turn.
Darkrai decks now have early game consistency with Sableye, a strong attacker in the form of Darkrai, and a Pokémon capable of Knocking Out EXs when your opponent attempts to respond to Darkrai-EX. In addition, Yveltal-EX can be used to Knock Out a Snorlax in one turn for only two Energy cards. This can prevent a Scramble Switched Snorlax from Knocking Out two EXs.
The deck also gets to replace Dark Claw with Muscle Band. However, this does not seem very impactful because Darkrai used to only play Dark Pokémon. This is where Bouffalant comes in. There simply wasn’t enough space to run Dark Claw and Silver Bangle efficiently. There was also previously no reason to run Double Colorless Energy outside of Bouffalant, but Double Colorless Energy also works well with Yveltal-EX. Now that Darkrai/Yveltal decks are playing Muscle Band and Double Colorless Energy, Bouffalant is a seamless addition.
Bouffalant has an advantage over Absol because it can achieve 170 damage when your opponent doesn’t have a full Bench with the help of Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Virbank City Gym. While this is a large combination of cards, a Pokémon may already have 30 damage on the Bench from Night Spear and then Bouffalant only needs a Muscle Band or a Hypnotoxic Laser to score the KO.
Options for the Last 6 Deck Spaces
There are so many options for Darkrai decks to play right now, but the deck only has so much space. I will try and explain the majority of them in order to both help you customize your Darkrai deck for your States metagame as well as prepare for the various cards Darkrai decks might play.
Anybody who has played Darkrai knows that Junk Hunt is one of the strongest attacks in the game. I think with the skeleton list 2 copies of Sableye are enough, but if you decide to add in more Items, such as Enhanced Hammer then it makes sense to add a 3rd Sableye. This is because in certain matchups, such as against Plasma, you will be Junk Hunting a lot to remove your opponent’s Special Energy Cards. An extra copy of Sableye is also a nice consistency boost.
A lot of people seem to be really split on this card. It is essentially a Raiden Knuckle for Dark Pokémon. However, Sableye essentially does the same thing by Junk Hunting for a Hypnotoxic Laser and a Dark Patch. Sableye is also more versatile in being able to Junk Hunt for various Items.
However, Yveltal has some upsides that make it a decent addition. Oblivion Wing puts the D Energy directly into play, rather than putting the cards in your hand from Junk Hunt. This makes Sableye slightly vulnerable to N. If Trevenant becomes Popular, it essentially makes Sableye useless. Yveltal gives you an option to recover Energy under an Item lock.
Yveltal also has a slight edge against Virizion-EX because Sableye can no longer get damage on the board by Junk Hunting for Hypnotoxic Laser. This means that Yveltal is much better at setting up your attackers for a knockout with Oblivion Wing.
I don’t believe Yveltal will ever replace Sableye, but it has some strong points that make it a worthy inclusion.
Even though the deck plays Bouffalant as a non-EX attacker, Absol is still a strong option against a deck like Plasma that relies on a large Bench. Just playing 1 Absol in other matchups also forces your opponent to limit their Bench. Its damage output is not as reliable as Bouffalant, but it is strong against Plasma and it forces your opponent to play with a smaller Bench.
Spiritomb is a great tech for blocking your opponent’s G Booster in Virizion/Genesect. Although they can still Red Signal Spiritomb, it keeps the pressure off your attackers and keeps your EXs safe from G Booster for at least one turn. It’s a great inclusion if you find yourself struggling against Virizion/Genesect when testing for States.
This is necessary to beat Trevenant/Accelgor more reliably. It will often be a dead card, but if Trevenant spikes in popularity then using Rush In twice is the only way to insure that you don’t get locked out of the game by Trevenant, Accelgor, and Dusknoir.
Mr. Mime is slightly less useful than before because other Darkrai decks don’t have to Night Spear every turn. Therefore, there is less Bench damage to prevent. However, Mr. Mime is still certainly impactful since preventing 30 damage for several turns can still be game changing.
I feel like Mr. Mime now has to compete for space with Super Potion and Max Potion because those cards get closer to healing as much damage as Mr. Mime can prevent. Although they have small drawbacks, they have more impact in other matchups.
I grouped these two together because they serve a similar function. Max Potion is easier to use with Yveltal that only has a couple of Energy, where Super Potion works better with Darkrai because the deck can’t often afford to discard 3 Energy. I think Max Potion and Super Potion are both viable if you choose to also play Energy Switch. Otherwise, I would choose to play Super Potion.
I think Super Potion messes up your opponent’s damage calculations with a very minor drawback. It essentially takes away a Raiden Knuckle, an Emerald Slash, and stops opposing Darkrai-EXs from Knocking Out your Pokémon out with two Night Spears.
Energy Switch works well with Max Potion and increases the chance of attacking on the second turn. The only downside to playing Energy Switch is it gives you less space to prepare for certain matchups or to play healing cards. 2 or 3 copies of Energy Switch will improve the speed of your deck slightly in every matchup.
This is mostly a tech for the Plasma matchup. There will certainly be plenty of Plasma decks around because Lugia and Muscle Band are a very strong combination. However, Enhanced Hammer is a dead card in certain matchups. Being able to Junk Hunt for Enhanced Hammer will certainly improve your matchup against Plasma, so it just depends how many Plasma decks you expect to see at States.
3rd Pokémon Catcher
As Cities progressed I feel like more and more noticed how powerful Pokémon Catcher still was in several decks. I have both won and lost several games on Catcher flips already, so it certainly can’t hurt to improve your chances of getting a game changing Catcher heads if you have the space.
I don’t think this Stadium is very strong in Darkrai right now. Yveltal helps cover Darkrai’s Fighting Weakness and Darkrai helps cover Yveltal’s Lightning Weakness. The Stadium is also too reactive because your opponent can simply replace the Stadium and Knock Out your EX on the same turn. It might become decent if people start teching things like Raichu for Yveltal and Fighting Pokémon for Darkrai, but at that point it might be better to play a different deck that everyone isn’t trying to beat.
If you have already included all the techs you feel are necessary, the best option going into States is to make the deck as consistent as possible. A 4th Ultra Ball, a 10th D Energy, a Professor’s Letter, or a 2nd Shauna will all improve the consistency of the deck slightly depending on what you feel like you need in testing.
Professor’s Letter is simply an upgraded Energy Search. Shauna is much safer than Colress early game, especially when factoring in Random Receiver. Shauna also gives you more Supporter-based draw, which is very helpful against decks that lock Items.
Plasma also received a huge boost from XY in the form of Muscle Band. Being able to Knock Out an EX in one turn with Lugia-EX’s Plasma Gale for 3 Prize cards is certainly game-changing. This deck is one of the most hyped decks going into States and has been talked about before, but seeing a slightly different viewpoint and some other options can always be enlightening. Here is a skeleton list:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 34
Energy – 14
Open Spots – 2
The Impact of XY
Muscle Band is the main addition from XY, but other counts in the deck have changed to incorporate it. A 4th Deoxys-EX is now much more important. With 3 Deoxys-EX in play and Muscle Band, Lugia-EX can do 170 damage with Plasma Gale. By only playing 3 Deoxys-EX, you run a very large risk of prizing the 3rd Deoxys-EX. In addition, a 4th Deoxys-EX lets Lugia-EX hit for 180 damage if you have the Bench space.
I have seen several lists without Escape Rope or only 1 Tool Scrapper. This is very dangerous because players will play Silver Mirror as an attempt to counter Plasma. For example, it is nearly impossible to beat a Darkrai/Garbodor deck with even 1 Silver Mirror if you run 1 Tool Scrapper because they can simply Junk Hunt the Silver Mirror back. Tool Scrapper is also even better now that more players will be playing Muscle Band, so there is no reason to cut it right now.
I have also seen several players play Kyurem PLF with either Blend or Rainbow Energy. I think Lugia with Muscle Band simply outclasses Kyurem with Muscle Band or Silver Bangle. The Bench damage from Frost Spear is also less impactful because Lugia can Knock Out Pokémon-EX in one turn with Muscle Band. Playing Kyurem also means playing more Special Energy. This makes the deck more vulnerable to Enhanced Hammer. Going into States, I feel this is a bad idea as Darkrai decks are likely to rise in popularity due to Yveltal-EX, which means a rise in Enhanced Hammer.
Snorlax is also slightly less viable with the release of XY. Snorlax is less likely to sweep multiple Pokémon-EX because more decks have an answer. Darkrai decks can Knock Out Snorlax with Yveltal-EX. Muscle Band in Virizion/Genesect decks also makes Snorlax easier to Knock Out. In addition, Snorlax previously had the unique role of being able to 1-shot opposing Pokémon-EX with Teampact. Now, Lugia can also reach 170 and sometimes even 180 damage with Muscle Band. Snorlax is still a strong non-EX attacker with a useful Ability, but it feels less essential to the deck than before.
Options for the Last 2 Deck Spaces
Mewtwo-EX or Skarmory-EX
Both of these cards are strong against an Item lock deck with Silver Mirror. Without a non-Team Plasma Pokémon, the matchup is essentially an auto-loss. Mewtwo-EX has more universal uses against attackers such as Snorlax, Deoxys-EX, or Keldeo-EX. This is because these attackers either require a lot of Energy or are weak to Psychic. Mewtwo-EX is also strong against Yveltal-EX with a lot of Energy. Skarmory-EX is more of a direct counter to Silver Mirror, but it also is capable of hitting the Fairy Pokémon and Kyurem for weakness.
I think Mewtwo-EX is the better choice overall if you want a counter to Item lock with Silver Mirror, but there are certainly better choices if you don’t expect those decks to pop up at your States.
I feel that this card is an overlooked tech in the Plasma deck. If your metagame is filled with Emboar and Blastoise, Palkia-EX is a strong option. It is capable of Knocking Out both Rayquaza-EX and Black Kyurem-EX with Muscle Band and two Deoxys-EX. The difference between Palkia-EX and the other attackers already in the deck is that Palkia-EX goes to the Bench after using Strafe. This allows you to keep all of your Energy in play, allowing Palkia-EX to continue being a threat while you build up either Snorlax or Lugia-EX to end the game.
With 3 or 4 Prism Energy, Absol is a strong option against other Plasma decks. Absol is able to apply a lot of pressure for only 2 Energy. It is also capable of Knocking Out an opposing Kyurem, Snorlax, or damaged EX since your opponent will almost always have a large Bench with a Plasma deck. If you expect a lot of other Plasma decks at States Absol will give you a small edge.
With 3 or 4 Prism Energy, Virizion-EX is useful against a Trevenant/Accelgor deck. Genesect-EX and Snorlax can help play around the Item lock, but if the deck spikes in popularity before States, a tech Virizion-EX makes the matchup a lot easier.
Virizion-EX also helps counter Hypnotoxic Laser. Now that the Plasma deck doesn’t play Frozen City, your opponent will always have Virbank City Gym in play. This means that preventing Hypnotoxic Laser damage is more important than before because they cause even more damage. Virizion-EX is a nice option if you have the space.
A 3rd Lugia-EX
In testing the deck can manage with only 2 Lugia-EX. However, problems occasionally arise when 1 Lugia-EX is prized. Although you have the option to Shadow Triad a Lugia-EX back or to use a different attacker, the deck feels more reliant on Plasma Gale than before because it works so well with Muscle Band. If you choose to run alternate attackers like Absol and Palkia-EX, then the 3rd Lugia-EX is not so necessary. If you choose not to run tech attackers because you feel they aren’t necessary, a 3rd copy of Lugia-EX will help improve the deck’s consistency.
1 Tropical Beach may feel out of place in a Plasma deck, but it helps in several scenarios. If you open with a Skyla and no other Supporters, it allows you to avoid having to Skyla for a Supporter. Since the Plasma deck can’t attack going first using Tropical Beach is a strong option. It also provides a Stadium counter for Virbank City Gym. Taking 20 less damage from Hypnotoxic Laser is impactful and allows you to save your Max Potion for later in the game.
1 or 2 copies of Pokémon Catcher can occasionally swing a game in any deck and Plasma is no exception. If you have the space and feel the deck is already consistent enough, you will win at least 1 game at States due to a Catcher flip. Bringing up an attacker your opponent was building up when you couldn’t afford to attach to Genesect-EX is game changing. It also allows you to have a chance at closing out a game when you can’t seem to draw your last Plasma Energy for Red Signal with a Skyla in hand.
Consistency is always important, especially at a large tournament such as States. An extra Prism Energy, Professor’s Letter, or an extra Supporter will give you a small boost in consistency that will show over a large number of rounds. If the techs suggested don’t have a significant impact on your games in testing, consistency is always the way to go.
I’m looking forward to State Championships just like everybody else! It seems like a lot of the decks that were strong during Regionals benefitted from the addition of XY. There are also a lot of interesting cards such as Trevenant and the Fairy Pokémon that may or may not find their way into the metagame. I’m optimistic for this format because it feels like it will be more diverse and the decks from Regionals won’t stay exactly the same.
I hope this article helped give you a more in depth look at a few archetypes, how the decklists change with the new XY set, and how you can adjust these lists to fit your metagame. I wish everybody the best of luck at State Championships! If you enjoyed reading remember to click the “Like” button below.
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