A Day in the Life of a Trash Pile

A Darkrai/Garbodor Tournament Report and Review

Hi everyone, Reshiphlosion here! Today I would like to talk about the phenomenon known as Darkrai/Garbodor and share a tournament report with the deck. Another article by Matthew King was recently written on this subject. Matthew does a really good job at explaining the different versions of this deck as well as their strengths and weaknesses. I think that between the two of us the topic gets covered quite nicely. Also as this is my first attempt at writing an article, I feel like an introduction is due, so please bear through the following formalities.

My name is Aidan Boyce and I’m a 16-year-old Master from northeastern Connecticut. I’ve been playing Pokémon since 2009 but didn’t get into the TCG competitively until 2011; I also took a year-long hiatus from the game after States in 2013 due to family reasons. I don’t have any overly exceptional accomplishments so far (the most notable ones being a Top 4 States, Top 8 States, Top 32 Regionals, and Top 4 Cities); you might even say that I’m a “third wheel” player as I can never seem to do better than a 3rd place finish.

However, I really do love playing the Pokémon TCG and studying the game is one of my favorite pastimes. But that’s enough rambling about me; we should be getting onto the main portion of the article.

A Little Bit of History

garbodor dragons exalted drx 54 official
The original printing.

Garbodor has always done well since its release back in August of 2012, and for a good reason. One can safely say that whenever a deck relying on Abilities is doing well, Garbodor will be there to counter it. There are so many decks out there that need Abilities to function that Garbodor will almost never be a bad play. The amount of success Garbodor receives in any give event is directly related to how many decks show up that rely on Abilities.

Specifically speaking, Garbodor has done well against decks that use Abilities to accelerate Energy. Decks such as RayEels and Blastoise in particular have had massive trouble going against Garbodor. This is because without their Abilities to accelerate Energy they are forced to use manual attachments to attack; and without the ability to attach multiple Energy per turn these decks are slowed down considerably, giving the Garbodor player a huge advantage, generally resulting in a win.

Over the years Garbodor has had many different partners ranging from Zebstrika NXD to Landorus-EX, however Darkrai/Garbodor variants seem to offer superior consistency and attacking power in Sableye DEX and Yveltal-EX and could arguably be considered the best Garbodor variant to date.

Granted, Garbodor actually took a small blow to the face with the release of Muscle Band as it encourages more decks to run Tool Scrapper and makes Sableye easier to Knock Out. However, I believe that it gained more in this set than it lost simply because of Yveltal-EX.

Before XY was out on the streets Garbodor always had two main problems. The first problem was the fact that Garbodor was bad with time management and was too easy to tie against in best-of-three Swiss. The other problem was that Garbodor decks had no reliable way to take 1HKOs on Pokémon-EX. Thankfully Yveltal-EX is able to fix both of these problems by not only speeding up the deck with a two-Energy attack, but by bringing about the possibility to 1HKO EX cards.

Some may argue that the addition of Yveltal-EX to the format is a problem for Garbodor since it doesn’t have an Ability to block off. I however disagree; mainly because the only decks that can abuse Yveltal-EX to its fullest without Abilities are other Darkrai variants which have always been unfavorable to play against anyway. Decks like Fairybox can’t accelerate Energy onto Yveltal the way Dark Patch can, and many decks would rather use other attackers like Thundurus-EX when trying to deal with Garbodor.

Tournament Report

top cut bracket tournament standings 640pokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com

I decided to use Darkrai/Garbodor for States based off the fact that Yveltal is such a huge asset for this deck and rounds it out nicely. It was also the overall safest play as it didn’t have any really bad matchups. I will be keeping the list I used confidential since I may want to play it again in the near future.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before (only about 3-4 hours) and had to rush out the door for the event. I met up with Gelato and played a game against him before they called us for the players meeting. They announced that there were 65 Masters and that there would be 7 rounds of Swiss plus a Top 8 cut. Here are how my rounds played out:

R1 vs. Evan MacPhaul w/ Fairbox (L) 0-1-0
R2 vs. Michael Jones w/ Garchomp/Landorus-EX (W) 1-1-0
R3 vs. Nick Chimento w/ Blastoise (W) 2-1-0
R4 vs. Greg Barrows w/ Rayboar (W) 3-1-0
R5 vs. Ryan Poholek w/ Palkia/Deoxys/Sigilyph (W) 4-1-0
R6 vs. Ray Cipoletti w/ Mirror (L) 4-2-0
R7 vs. David Wu w/ Virgen (L) 4-3-0

After having a fantastic start to the day going 4-1, I ended up losing my last two matches to end at 4-3 in 21st place. All of my losses were good, close games against highly-skilled opponents, so I can’t really complain too much, even if it did sting a little to miss top cut by one win. (All the 5-2’s made it and my defeats in the last two rounds were both 1-2.)


  • Meeting up with Gelato from SixPrizes
  • My last round opponent being super awesome and sharing his prize packs with me
  • Most of my losses were close games in one form or another
  • Pulling an M Blastoise-EX
  • Shamrock Shakes


  • Not being able to find a place to eat during lunch break (I had to go 12 hours without food)
  • Gelato going 1-4
  • Getting little sleep the night before
  • Daylight savings stealing even more sleep from me
  • Most of my losses were close in one form or another
  • Going from 4-1 to 4-3


Now that we’ve gone through a little bit of history about the deck, as well as a short tournament report, you might be wondering: “What does a Darkrai/Garbodor deck look like exactly?” Well, that really depends on a few factors. There are several different ways to go about building a decent list. For starters though, here’s a general skeleton list for anyone just getting acquainted with this deck:

Pokémon – 9

2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR

2 Yveltal-EX
2 Darkrai-EX DEX
1 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 28

4 Professor Juniper

4 N
1 Random Receiver


3 Dark Patch
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Ultra Ball
2 Pokémon Catcher
1 Dowsing Machine


5 Tool Cards


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 8

8 D

Open Spots – 15

This Girl is a Genius.
This girl is a genius.

The simple yet effective goal of this deck is to disrupt with Garbotoxin while taking full advantage of Dark types and Laser/Bank to efficiently take all 6 Prizes. This skeleton leaves us with 15 extra cards to work with. Generally it would probably be a good idea to max out your Dark Patch and Hypnotoxic Laser counts while throwing in at least 4 more draw cards.

You can also use tech cards depending on your meta. Going to see a lot of Plasma decks? Pack a Silver Mirror and a couple Enhanced Hammer. Tool Scrapper got you down? Counter with another Sableye or two and some extra Float Stone.

I won’t go into detail on all of my choices for this skeleton as that would be long and redundant, but I think that there are a couple of card that deserve an explanation:

1 Sableye DEX

A lot of Darkrai players have noticed that Sableye is generally too frail to survive most attacks now and it is safe to say that the glory days of Junk Hunting are over. Some players have even gone as far as to completely erase Sableye from out of their decks to maximize speed.

While I agree that Sableye has diminished in playability, it still has the best supporting attack in the game. The ability to recover used Items is just too strong to completely eradicate from any deck that can abuse it. I believe that 1 Sableye is the minimum amount that should be used no matter how much of a “Rush Deck” you’re trying to make out of DarkGarb.

1 Random Receiver

If you’re running Sableye in here then a Random Receiver in your discard pile will go a long way in preventing Supporter droughts. Sure, you have Dowsing Machine which can technically do the same thing, but it only works if there’s actually a Supporter in your discard pile. Also Random Receiver doesn’t require you to discard to cards either.

I only put one in here because that is all you should need if you run Skyla and Colress, however if you’re running a Bicycle engine then I would consider adding in at least 2 more for consistency.

2 Pokémon Catcher

Yes, I know that Catcher isn’t as good as it used to be, and yes, I know that lucky flips aren’t what we should be relying upon. However, much like Sableye’s case, the ability to bring up any Benched Pokémon of your choosing is too strong to pass up. I can’t tell you how many games I’ve played where I would have lost if it wasn’t for a crucial Catcher to take my last few Prizes or to stall out for a turn. It also helps against Snorlax PLS and can be used to take those awesome 4 Prize turns with Darkrai if that still floats your boat.

Before I go over some of the matchups for this deck, let me show you what a fleshed out list might look like:

Pokémon – 12

2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR

3 Yveltal-EX
2 Darkrai-EX DEX
2 Sableye DEX
1 Yveltal XY

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper

4 N
3 Random Receiver
3 Bicycle


4 Dark Patch
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Ultra Ball
2 Pokémon Catcher
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Enhanced Hammer
1 Dowsing Machine


3 Float Stone
3 Muscle Band


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

10 D


Blastoise and RayBoar – Favorable

I put these two matchups together because the basic strategy against each is exactly the same: set up a Garbodor with a Tool on it and be ready to replace your Float Stones when your opponent drops a Tool Scrapper. Meanwhile, set up your Yveltal-EX and be ready to pick off their dragons.

Be aware though Yveltal-EX will probably be settling for 2HKOs since their dragons won’t have more than 1-2 Energy attached at a time. This isn’t really a problem though as both Rayquaza-EX and Black Kyurem-EX PLS need at least 4 Energy to achieve a return knockout. However, it would be a good idea to keep Pokémon Catcher and a second Yveltal-EX handy in case they try to charge up an EX from the Bench.

Outside of that they really can’t do too much against you unless they find a way to win the Stadium war and run more than 2 Tool Scrapper. Prioritize getting a T2 Garbotoxin going if possible; a slow Garbodor can easily mean that you’ll go down 2-4 Prizes, and them having Tropical Beach in play increases their chances of grabbing a crucial Tool Scrapper.

Plasma Decks – Slightly Favorable

Plasma, although a favorable matchup, is a pain to deal with. I say this because even if you shut off their Abilities (Power Connect, Overflow, etc.) they can still attack you and trade Prizes evenly by using Thundurus-EX. Your best bet is to actually use Darkrai-EX as he won’t be hit for for Weakness and can spread Bench damage.

Like against Blastoise and RayBoar an early Garbodor is key to winning; you don’t want them to go around doing 180 damage and taking 3 Prizes every turn with Lugia-EX. Enhanced Hammer is also a really nice tech in here and makes this matchup so much better.

Fairybox – Slightly Favorable

enhanced hammer dark explorers dex 94 official
Can pin down Fairybox indefinitely.

The cool thing about this matchup is that an early Garbodor isn’t really needed to win. If you run multiple Enhanced Hammer and Sableye (and maybe a Max Potion for good measure) then you can effectively keep them from ever having more than 2 Energy on the field as they have no form of Energy acceleration.

I know that you’re probably thinking “So if that’s true then what’s the problem?” The problem is that you’re on a clock; you don’t have unlimited time to run them out of Energy with your troll tactics. You have to attack at some point for fear of getting a tie, and when you do attack they have both Landorus-EX and Thundurus-EX to hit you for Weakness.

They also probably will run Virizion-EX to stop any Lasers coming their way, so you’re still going to want to get up a Garbodor to stand a chance against them.

If you don’t run Enhanced Hammer then blocking off Red Signal and Fairy Transfer with Garbodor becomes all that more urgent. It might also help to have a Tool Scrapper of your own to stop them from getting 2HKOs with Muscle Band.

Virizion/Genesect – Even/Slightly Unfavorable

The VirGen matchup is really cut down the middle. On one hand you can block off both of their Abilities and get 1HKOs fairly easily. Also you can use Darkrai to spread damage, and since they’re both 170 HP EXs hitting magic numbers becomes so much easier. I might also make the argument that if you focus on getting a Yveltal out then you will be slightly faster, seeing how Genesect can’t attack until at least turn 3.

However on the flip side they can just drop a Tool Scrapper and Skyarrow Bridge, use Red Signal to bring up whatever they please, and then kill it with G Booster. Also, the fact that Genesect discards its own Energy means that attacking back with Yveltal-EX isn’t cost-effective, not to mention that they can afford superior flexibility and consistency thanks to them not having to run a Stage 1 with all those extra Tools.

Dark Rush – Unfavorable

I don’t think I really need to go in depth on this one. They are faster and more consistent than you are. They are not phased by Garbodor very much and can get set up considerably quicker. They also tend to have more room for cards that support Yveltal-EX such as Energy Switch and extra Catcher.

Unfortunately this has always been a sour matchup for the Garbodor player; your best bet is to let them pick off your non-Pokémon-EX with Yveltal then come in with your own Yveltal for a revenge KO. Strategic use of Hypnotoxic Laser and Catcher are going to be very important as well. But outside of that, unless you specifically tech hard counters to this deck, there isn’t much that you can do.



Darkrai/Garbodor is a strong deck if your meta is full of Abilities. It is fast, versatile, and extremely relevant in today’s game. It’s also a fun deck to play that requires you to do a lot of specific research on your metagame to maximize its potential. I have only really just scratched the surface of what there is to cover about Garbodor. There is so much more that could actually be written in detail about it, whereas I have only just generally covered the basics of the deck.

However, hopefully this inspires you to look into the deck more and encourages you to get excited about it, as that was the intended purpose of this article. Personally I plan on using Garbodor again in the near future and hope to see some better success myself.

Thank you for reading my article and I hope you all have a great day!

– Reshi

Reader Interactions

5 replies

  1. Brandon Jones

    Only thing I don’t really agree with is that FairyBox doesn’t have Energy acceleration. A lot of lists are running with Xerneas XY rather then Plasma Pokemon, it’s dependent on the opponent’s list. However, Hammers and Garbodor lock are the best ways to handle the Fairy match up, so I still agree with your points on the match up.

    • Aidan Boyce  → Brandon

      Ah, yes you are right. There is a difference between Plasma Fairies and Normal Fairies. I was speaking mainly about Plasma variants which rely on Thundurus EX and Special Energy, but versions that use Xerneas XY could be troublesome as it does provide the deck with Energy acceleration.

      • Brandon Jones  → Aidan

        In my experience with Darkrai/Garbodor/Yveltal this is a tough match up for you as sometimes all they need is a single Scrapper to get enough of a set up against your current board. I feel like getting a fast Garbodor while also taking out whatever special energy they have with Hammers is the best way to go about it.

  2. SeventhPrize

    Would Spiritomb improve the VirGen matchup, or would it hinder more than it helps?

    • Aidan Boyce  → SeventhPrize

      Spiritomb could be beneficial against VirGen. However if you play Spiritomb then you can’t have Garbotoxin in effect either, and Garbotoxin really helps you against them by keeping Red Signal at bay and letting you use Lasers.

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