|Darkrai EX has nightmares as well!|
Today’s article will discuss one of the most hyped decks at the moment – Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX. The reason for huge hype is that the deck won a shop tournament in Osaka a few months back. After that everyone knows what happened – Darkrai EXs price hit sky high and a huge hype began. If I bought the EXs for this deck from T&T it would cost me over 300$. As a student, I don’t have money like that and I’m pretty sure that there are some other people who can’t afford this deck either.
The question we must ask from ourselves is that is the deck really worth +300$? Is it the unbeatable BDIF that will storm over every Battle Roads, Nationals and even Worlds? If we look at the price, it would seem so. However, if you play with this deck, you’ll soon notice that it’s not unbeatable. In fact, it might even not be the BDIF due its weakness to fighting. I’ll get to match-ups and problems this deck has later in the article but now for the list.
3x Darkrai EX
2x Smeargle UD/CL
3x Tornadus EX
1x Shaymin UL
4x Professor Juniper
4x Professor Oak’s New Theory
4x Junk Arm
4x Pokemon Catcher
3x Dark Patch
3x Skyarrow Bridge
3x Dual Ball
2x Random Receiver
2x Dark Claw
1x Ultra Ball
1x Super Scoop Up
10x Darkness – Basic
3x Double Colorless
Set-up either Darkrai EX or Tornadus EX(Whichever is faster) and start pounding your opponent. Like any basic-based deck, this deck aims at getting cheap prizes all around the table with Catchers and Darkrai’s Night Spear attack which attacks both active and benched Pokémon. The deck’s main attacker is Darkrai EX but Tornadus EX is a MUST addition for the deck due Darkrai’s weakness. Against pure fighting decks and against decks that tech Terrakion in them, Darkai EX isn’t enough for you to win games. Tornadus EX is a great card and what’s even better; it’s a great fighting counter. The deck reminds me of LuxChomp in many ways except this deck isn’t as techable as LuxChomp.
Darkrai EX is the main-main attacker of this deck. You want to set it up as soon as possible. This usually happens between turns 3 and 4 but occasionally you can get very explosive starts with it thanks to Dark Patch. Darkrai EX has great amount of HP – 180. This is one of the key ingredients, which makes it so good – it’s almost impossible to OHKO. OHKOing is a very important issue when it comes to Darkrai EX. Darkrai EXs damage output isn’t massive. It has no chance OHKOing any EX Pokémon and it might even struggle OHKOing regular Pokémon. However, its bench damage from Night Spear fixes this issue. With Night Spear you can damage the most important Pokémon from your opponent’s bench and when they come to the active position, you may be able to OHKO them with Night Spear.
Darkrai EX’s ability gives a free retreat to any Pokémon that has Darkness energy attached to it. Even though the ability is great, this deck doesn’t need it. The deck has Pokémon that have retreat of one and has Switch, Skyarrow Bridge and even SSU. The ability may come in handy from time to time but it’s not a necessity for this deck.
Tornadus EX is the donker/supportive attacker of this deck. The main reason for Tornadus EX in this deck is Darkrai’s weakness to fighting. Darkrai can’t win fighting type decks on its own but thanks to Tornadus EX and Eviolite, fighting isn’t anymore a viable answer to this deck. Tornadus EX is also a great attacker in the early stages of the game if you happen to get a Skyarrow Bridge to the play. With DCE and Skyarrow Bridge you can start getting easy prizes from 60 HP Basics from your opponent’s bench.
Tornadus EX’s second attack is pretty good as well. It hits 100 damage with 3 colorless energy but it has a downside – discarding an energy card from yourself if you hit tails from the flip. If you don’t need to attack 100 damage, you don’t want to attack it. The deck can only attach energy to Tornadus EX from hand or with Shaymin so the resources are limited. Tornadus EX is especially handy against decks like Zoroark/Weavile, where the main attacker has 100 HP.
Smeargle is pretty much the one and only attacker for this deck. It has free retreat thanks to Skyarrow Bridge or Darkrai’s ability and it gives you the speedy set-up you need to win games. Getting 2 Junipers T1 is always nice. Smeargle is also better than i.e. Cleffa in the late game after N since you may be able to hit the game winning supporter with Portrait in the late game.
Shaymin can be teched into any deck and in this deck it’s very good. Mainly because Dark Patches can only attach energy to a) benched Pokémon b) Darkness Pokémon. You usually use Shaymin to move energy from Darkrai to another Darkrai or from Darkrai to Tornadus EX.
Random Receiver - Professor Juniper - Professor Oak’s New Theory
Professor Juniper and PONT should be pretty obvious for this deck. (as for any other deck. However, I haven’t yet analyzed Random Receiver in any of my deck articles, so let’s take a deeper look at it.
The good thing about Random Receiver is that it’s a 100% supporter and not a chance like i.e. Pokegear 3.0. The not-so-good thing about it is that you can’t run Collectors or any tech supporters in your deck if you have Random Receiver in it. In a deck like this, Random Receiver is very good due the Ball Engine. The deck wouldn’t use Collectors even if the format hadn’t Random Receiver so Random Receiver is the perfect fit for this deck.
I don’t usually talk a lot about N because it should be played in every deck of the format but there’s something that I want you to notice about N in this deck. The deck runs Random Receiver. In the early game N is as great as PONT with Random Receiver. However, in the late game things go ugly. If you’re in a huge lead and have a Random Receiver in your hand and hit N with it, you’ll be in trouble. You can’t use N because it doesn’t draw you any good cards and probably only helps your opponent more than yourself, but if you don’t use N, you won’t be drawing anywhere. You must choose from two bad options. Usually the safer way is just to wait and not play N but either way your draw stops. N is a great card even due these circumstances but you just must be ready for these kind of situations to occur.
Pokémon Catcher plays a huge role in this deck because Darkrai EX hits to the bench. With Night Spear and correctly times Catchers you may be able to get 3 prizes in one turn! The deck should run 4 Catchers and you still usually run out of them. Use them wisely and the match will probably turn your way.
Dark Patch is the reason why Darkness Pokémon are as playable as they currently are. If Dark Patch would be banned, the price of Darkrai would be 15$ and Zoroark would be worth 20 cents. However, since that isn’t the case, you want to play Dark Patches. Dark Patch attaches energy from discard pile to benched Darkness Pokémon. But only Basic Darkness energy (will get back to that later). This is the way you get your Darkrai EX’s energy accelerated. Sometimes you want to just use Dark Patches on your Darkrais and move them to the active Tornadus EX. Dark Patch is just like an Eelektrik of Dark decks – without them Dark decks would be no use.
Switch- Skyarrow Bridge
These cards have two different purposes in the deck. First of all, they give a free retreat to Smeargle and other Basic Pokémon (excluding Darkrai EX, which gives itself a free retreat). They keep the whole deck very mobile and there is no turn when you can’t bring the Pokémon you need to the active position. Second, Skyarrow Bridge is the fuel for Tornadus EX’s first attack. The difference between 30 and 60 damage is huge especially in the early turns of the game and you really want to get Skyarrow Bridge into play as soon as possible.
Dual Ball - Ultra Ball
The deck runs only Basic Pokémon so Dual Balls are enough to search for the Basic Pokémon the deck has. However, as you know, I’m not very fond of flipping when it comes to searching/Drawing and that’s why I also run one Ultra Ball. Ultra Ball is good card because it can discard useless cards like Skyarrow Bridges in the late game and Energy in the early game so you can use Dark Patches.
Dark Claw - Eviolite
Dark Claw and Eviolite are hands down the two best tools in the current format. Dark Claw is an extra 2 PlusPowers for Darkrai EX in tool form. It’s of course good but the fact that you can’t attach Eviolite and Dark Claw to the same Pokémon at the same time hurts Dark Claws usability a little bit. However, usually you want to attach Eviolite to Tornadus EX and Dark Claw to Darkrai EX. With Eviolited Tornadus EX, you’ll just tear through pure fighting decks. Landorus damages more their bench than they damage Tornadus EX and even Terrakion only 4HKOs an Eviolited Tornadus EX. These tools are very important for this deck.
Super Scoop Up
You want to have a SSU in this deck. It’s a random tech that will be useful in many situations. You can reuse Shaymin with it. You can save a damaged Darkrai EX or Tornadus EX with it or you can even use it for retreating if necessary. There is nothing better than SSU an almost dead Tornadus EX against Fighting decks and just see their expression when you hit heads – 3 turns in vain.
The most important part of this deck are the Basic Darkness energy cards. Even though you want to run Special Darkness in this deck, you don’t have space for them. You need to get the Basic energy to the discard pile as early as possible and since Dark Patch doesn’t get Special Darkness from the discard pile, you can’t afford running them. 10 is an optimal number for this deck but if you want to find more space, you can cut the Darkness energy to 9.
I would like to play 4 DCEs in this deck but since they are useful only on Tornadus EX; I have to run 3 of them. It’s pretty annoying attach DCE to Darkrai EX because it only makes Mewtwo EX stronger against Darkrai because you will have one “extra” energy attached to Darkrai EX if you have DCE on it.
There are many people who run Weavile in this. The original Japanese list used Weavile but I don’t think this deck needs it. As soon as Sneasel hits the table, your opponent should be prepared for Claw Snag or even two of them. The current card pool has all the tools to counter Claw Snag and I’ve found myself too many times Claw Snagging useless things because my opponent’s knows what he/she is doing.
Sableye is a good starter, which was played in Japan as well but the more I tested it, the slower it seemed. It’s a too slow “starter” in my opinion for this deck. You want to use Smeargle especially after the Skyarrow Bridges I added to this deck.
In my UG build of this deck, I had Energy Switch. However, I replaced it with SSU in this deck. I haven’t yet decided which is better but both SSU and Energy Switch are very good in this deck.
Lost Remover is a good tech and can come especially handy against CMT and Zoroark/Weavile. Against CMT you want to get rid of their DCEs and against Zoroark/Weavile, you want to get rid of their Rescue Energy before you KO their attackers. If you find space for this card, I encourage you to run it.
The deck doesn’t necessarily need any Pokémon retrieving cards because all the Pokémon are EXs but if you feel safer with them, you can run them. However, removing them will get you space for other things. I think you can safely run this deck without any Pokémon retrieving cards if you don’t have horrible luck with prizes (like I usually do).
Even though this is a very strong deck, it has its own problems. The deck is nowhere unbeatable so here are the main problems the deck has.
1) Surprise Terrakion
Terrakion is probably Darkrai EX’s worst nightmare. However, you can usually tell if your opponent has Terrakion in their decks. You will be Portraiting them a lot so if they have something like Prism energy or Fighting energy in decks that don’t usually run them – you know that for sure. It gives you time to prepare for it and probably the best way to “counter” Terrakion with Darkrai EX is to have Eviolite attached to your Darkrai. They need one PlusPower for the OHKO but that’s not always possible.
2) Dark Patch reliancy
Just like Zoroark/Weavile or any other Dark deck, Dark Patch is your MVP. You want to get them to discard pile as soon as possible and once again if you have trouble drawing into Dark Patches, you can add 4th. That’s the best you can do. You’ll be limited to 4 Dark Patches + Junk Arms – make the most of them.
All the attackers in this deck are EX Pokémon. They sure are powerful but playing all EX deck is always risky. Especially if you have a slow start. Normal Pokémon like Zekrom are good meat walls in while you draw&pass but you sure don’t want to meatwall with Darkrai EX or Tornadus EX – they are 2 free prizes! Also, if the opponent does have just the right counters at the right time, you’ll be in huge trouble because they can win the game with 3 OHKOs on your EXs.
Finally, is this deck really the BDIF of the upcoming new metagame? No. But there is no denying it’s a competitive deck. The great part about this deck (if we don’t remind anyone of the fact that it costs over 400$) is that it brings more viable deck opinions to the main stream metagame. The results of U.S. Regionals were pretty awful because there was one deck winning practically everything. Now, thanks to Darkness Pokémon we have one more metagame deck that’s capable of winning tournaments.
To conclude, the deck is fresh air to very boring and stale metagame and once the hype has gone and tournaments get rolling, it will secure its place in the tier1. It has everything it needs to be a very viable and competitive tournament deck. I hope you enjoyed this entry and that it helped you to understand this deck and find new dimensions for it if you already have it built.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave any questions and comments!