Thursday, May 17, 2012

Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX - The New BDIF?

Darkrai EX has nightmares as well!
Hello everyone!

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.

Pokemon :

3x Darkrai EX
2x Smeargle UD/CL
3x Tornadus EX
1x Shaymin UL


4x Professor Juniper
4x Professor Oak’s New Theory
3x N
4x Junk Arm
4x Pokemon Catcher
3x Dark Patch
2x Switch
3x Skyarrow Bridge
3x Dual Ball
2x Random Receiver
2x Dark Claw
2x Eviolite
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.

Card Explanations

Darkrai EX

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

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 UD/CL

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.

Junk Arm

Pokemon Catcher

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

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.

Energy Switch

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

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.

Super Rod/Revive

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.

3) EXs

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!


  1. "Smeargle is pretty much the one and only attacker for this deck"
    ~ Please explain what you really meant.

    1. He probably means "starter".

  2. "I’ll get to match-ups ....this deck has later in the article but now for the list." Sorry, not being a critic,but I do not see your matchups. And Early in the article, you said $300, then over $400 later, please do get that straightened out. Although I have just complained, I must say that this is a good article as usual, although I would have to disagree about it not bein BDIF, IMHO it is the new BDIF, there is no deck that can really beat this deck without having some problems consistently doing well. I think that this deck will not be as superior Zeels was last format, but it will be the top deck since it not only beat last formats BDIF, but other big meta decks. Of course, things such as Terrakion is a problem for this deck,I don't think it is an auto-loss or even close to one, this deck definitely has a chance against it. Tornadus EX can handle Fighting decks and Darkrai EX isn't totally unplayable when playing against a Fighting deck, especially since it has the capability of spreading and doing a considerable amount of damage to the active. And, personally, i think that Tornadus EX is much better in this deck with Skyarrow bridge and that SAB enables you (of course) put more damage on the board, which can help DKEX in sniping Fighting types that have 160 damage on it, versus 130.
    Overall, (IMO) it is the new BDIF, Tornadus EX covers the Fighting match-ups, and i also must say that I believe we will see this winning more consistently at BRs than any other deck.

    1. I don't think it'll be BDIF honestly. That honor would probably have to go to Zoroark. When a Zoroark is hitting for 140 regularly, a special dark and 2 pluspowers isn't difficult to get a OHKO on (uneviolited) Tornadus. Not to mention you can stop Darkrai's 30 bench damage from 2HKO'ing anything with some strategic evolving.

    2. I also don't believe that Darkrai will become the BDIF but damn man, you can't seriously imply that Zoroark is the top deck.

    3. Zoroark is inferior to Darkrai Ex, DKEX always OHKOs him, and you can't just act like his 30 sniping can be avoided. DKEX's ability to apply pressure to many targets at once is what makes it better then Zoroark...and the fact that it isn't OHKOable by a lot of Pokemon..And it isn't stage 1.

    4. Darkrai EX may always OHKO Zoroark, but Zoroark can 2HKO right back for 2 prizes. All it takes is one OHKO from Zoroark (VERY possible) and it pushes it in favor of Zoroark.

    5. Please tell me how you will ALWAYS can KO Darkrai back with Zoroark... Having 2 Spec. Dark/Plus Powers (IMO you shouldn't even run it in Dark.dek) as well as your bench full of dark Pokemon, AND Dark Claw with your Zoroarks being OHKO'ed seems a little much... Especially when Darkrai EX is a basic.

    6. @CruelBear:I agree with everything platinumwaiter said. Plus, look at the prize exchange, supposing both get t2 attacks, T2 DKEX gets 1 prize~'roark 0;T3 DKEX 1~'roark 2;t4 DKEX 1~'roark 0;t5 DKEX 2(120 sniping dmg)~'roark 2; t6 DKEX 1 'roark 0 DKEX>'roark. Also that was assuming DKEX didn't get the T1 night spear

    7. platinumwaiter: I never said "ALWAYS". Just once. I'm not sure why I'm arguing about it though, they're both strong decks. And you're right, Zoroark doesn't handle losing a pokemon every turn from t1 very well, but he can still get a consistent 90 damage a turn. Darkrai does need his dark claws and dark patches that weaviles love to discard. Also a Zoroark deck with their own Darkrai makes the match a little better. 2 attacks from a Zoroark's Darkrai (That Darkrai/Tornadus can't OHKO) kills 1 EX and puts 2 more in OHKO range.

  3. Eviolited Darkrai is the only EX, Darmaxitan can't destroy with 4 heads. So random darmaxitan rogues will be easier to this deck than to most others in this format, just due to that fact that need 5 heads instead of 4 which is that much harder to get.

    Even tho Darmaxitan decks are unreliable at times, they are quite good when you get setup done.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Been testing this with Ruins of Alph. It ain't bad.
      Edit: spelling

  4. Reread Darkrai, he gives ALL your pokemon free retreat if they have a Dark Energy, not just Dark pokemon. Therefore, I don't think Switch is necessary in this deck.

    1. Have you even play the deck? Switch can be use for multiple portrait or even getting out smeargle for a T1/T2 night spear.

      I'll play high amounts of switch/sab if i have the space, but i'm running weavile.. so high amounts of ssu is good enough for now.

    2. If you take out the 2 switches, you can run a 4th Skyarrow Bridge and 1 other card. Most Eelektric decks will be switching to the 40 HP Tynamo and running Skyarrow Bridges of their own, so Smeargle should be able to retreat for free most of the time.

      For those times when he can't, you'll most likely have Darkrai, you can just pop a dark energy on him and move it with Shaymin later on. Double Portrait is cool, but you'll need both Smeargles for that AND one of your two Switch. How often does that happen to justify running 2 Switch?

      In all honesty, no, I haven't tried the deck. I'm also new to PTCG as of last Sunday. I was, however, a high-level LotR and WoW TCG player in their heyday.

      As I understand it, Switch has 2 uses: To use Abilities multiple times in a turn, and to 'retreat' pokemon that would otherwise be stuck in the Active position (such as an energy less Terrakion). It seems to me like running 2 on the off-chance that you will have both your Smeargles in play, or that you will have an Active Smeargle with no way to retreat him turn 1 and a ready-to-attack Darkrai/Tornadus is pushing it.

      I can see the usefulness in allowing you to Smeargle once mid-game if Smeargle is still around, but I just don't think it's enough to make Switch useful in this deck. If Darkrai didn't give free retreat to everyone, then yes, but with Darkrai AND SaB, then I'm not so sure.

      But like I said, I don't know much about this game yet, so it's very likely I'm wrong. I mostly left my comment because it seemed like the author didn't realize that Darkrai gave every pokemon free retreat and not just dark pokemon.

    3. Honestly I prefer 3 switch (or even 4) and 2 SAb for a speed darkrai deck just like CM/CMT deck, maybe Esa have a reason behind it. I'd also use 3 smeargle.

      I forgot to mention that switch will be useful throughout the whole match, double portrait with 2 smeargle is not a rare situation and SAB won't allow you to do that since you can only retreat once, and 2 might be sufficient because there's 4 junk arm :)

  5. Honestly I prefer 3 switch (or even 4) and 2 SAb for a speed darkrai deck just like CM/CMT deck, maybe Esa have a reason behind it. I'd also use 3 smeargle.

    I forgot to mention that switch will be useful throughout the whole match, double portrait with 2 smeargle is not a rare situation and SAB won't allow you to do that since you can only retreat once, and 2 might be sufficient because there's 4 junk arm :)

  6. So Esa, I'm just curious, but what DO you think is the BDIF?

  7. HG22: Yeah, those were all simple mistakes. The dirrence between 300 and 400 dollar decks is that if you buy the Pokémon of this deck, it's about 300 dollars. However, if you buy the WHOLE deck(trainer etc.) you'll get an amount total of even more than 400. I think I should've been a little bit more clearer about those. And when talking about Smeargle I meant starter obviously. Also, Tornadus EX/Darkrai EX may become the deck to defeat in order to win tournaments in my opinion but it doesn't necessarily mean it's te BDIF. There are very simple counters for this deck(like Terrakion in the current format). But we'll wait and see what happens during the next few weeks. Thanks for your insight!

    CruelBear: Even though Darkrai has it own problems and weaknesses, I too think that Zoroark is inferior to Darkrai. Zoroark needs more resources and it's way easier to keep the flow of Darkrais going than the flow of Zoroarks (stage1 vs. Basics).

    Yako: Yeah, Switch is necessary for this deck. Multiple T1 Portraits are so good because they increase the chance of getting a T1 Darkrai. And when you get T1 Darkrai - well lets just say that it gives your opponent almost a default loss if they dont run any Darkrai counters. Also Switch is very good in random Catcher/Paralyze/Confusion situations. Switch is one of the most versatile cards in every single format and its no wonder that every deck in every format plays Switch/Warp Point. It's a card that's a staple in every deck.

    pox: Yeah, this isn't a Speed Darkrai and the main point is not to get T1 Darkrai. If you get it, then good but I don't like devoting the deck to T1 goal - speed is good but T1 as a goal isn't the right mentality to play this deck, it will autolose to any fighting deck after that.

    Sorry for the late replies everyone but it seems that there were great discussion without me as well. Great to see this much conversation! Thanks for comments everyone.

  8. Yeah, I understand where you are coming from about it not being BDIF, and yes Terrakion in decks(unless its's mono fighting). The reason why, IMHO, mono fighting isn't a bad match-up is purely because you plan for them to drop Terrakion, while in decks such as Zeels, they surprise drop it and suddenly you are losing. The surprise factor of Terrakion is what gets DKEX. I have tested a lot, and I feel that DKEX/Tornadus Ex's hardest match up is Zeels w/ Terrakion, and Tornadus EX can't fix it, and neither can eviolite.

  9. This deck won both battle roads in Houston, Texas this past weekend. He ran max potion instead of super scoop up. He also ran 1 mewtwo. I played Zeels with 2 zekrom, 2 mewtwo, 1 thundurus, 1 tornadus, and 1 Raikou ex. I facedhave him into top cut, but couldn't beat him. My electric pokemon kept Tornadus ex off the field, but max potion ruined my matchup since i can only 2HKO darkrai. Right now I would say this is definitely the BDIF. To beat it, you have to one shot a Darkrai at least once during the match, which means a terrakion tech. - speedy3875 in Houston

  10. is anyone from sfx the school?

  11. I think i might actually test this Deck Out. (get it? "Deck Out')


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.