Thursday, May 3, 2012

Impact Crater: Dark Explorers

Steelix EX revisited
Hey all The Deck Out followers!

Finally, the release of the new set is very close and we have all the cards confirmed from the new. That can mean only one thing – another entry of Impact Crater. As always, the cards will be divided in two parts, the ordinary Impact Crater, which includes the cards that have a great impact on the format and The Small Impact Crater, which includes cards that have smaller impact on the format.

As whole, Dark Explorers is one of the best sets of this season. It once again offers a wide range of EXs that almost all are playable and it also offers new engine for both - ordinary and Dark decks. It will also have a very big impact on the format and will affect the metagame for a very long time. The preorder hype is out there and cards like Darkrai EX are already in 79$ when Raikou EX and Tornadus EX are at 49,99$. Are these cards really worth that much? That’s what I’m here to find out! Let’s get into the card analysis.

Darkrai EX

As always, I’ll start with the most obvious one. The hype is there even without my Eye on Japan entry. The reason for this is that in Japan, Darkrai EX/Tornadus EX won one shop tournament. Well, why not! Also, Zoroark/Weavile – the most obvious deck from the new set plays 1-2 Darkrai EXs as well. Well, does Darkrai EX live up to its hype? I would say yes.

Darkrai EX has a HP of 180 and an ability which gives a free retreat to every Pokémon that has darkness energy attached to it. It’s good to remember that any Pokémon with Prism or Rainbow energy attached to them, also have free retreat with Darkrai’s ability – it’s a versatile ability. Darkrai EX’s attack hits 90 to the active Pokémon and 30 to one of the opponent’s benched Pokémon. It’s an ok attack, which is possibly energy accelerated with Dark Patch.

Darkrai EX is a great card even without any supporting attackers like Zoroark but the fact that it’s OHKOed by Landorus, Terrakion and Groudon EX makes it more vulnerable than Mewtwo EX in the metagame. The only counter for Mewtwo EX was itself so the price of 70$ was justified. Not to mention that almost every deck had to play 2-3 Mewtwo EXs, in order to win games. Heck, even Durant played Mewtwo EX. Well, does every deck need to run 2-3 Darkrai EXs? No, and in fact most decks that play Darkrai EX require only 1-3 of them. Darkrai EX is at its best as an attacker with Tornadus EX, as supporting Pokémon in Zoroark/Weavile or as a tech in decks that want a free retreat (i.e. 6 Corners variations).

Darkrai EX is a great card but unlike Mewtwo EX, it’s bad on its own. Almost any deck of the format can put Terrakion in them and after that Darkrai EX becomes free two prizes. If you’ve gotten your Darkrais at reasonable prize, I suggest you make good use of them – if not – there is no panic – it isn’t Mewtwo EX.

Raikou EX

Raikou EX has a huge impact on the format even though it only works in Eelektrik variants. The fact that it can snipe 100 to any of your opponent’s Pokémon doesn’t seem so nice but the more you play with Raikou EX, the better you notice it is. It combos well with Eelektrik because it discards all its lighting energy away when attacking. Probably the biggest effect, which Raikou EX has to the format, is that it makes Vileplume variants almost unplayable. It OHKOs Reuniclus so Ross.dec is practically dead (although, in my opinion, it was dead when Mewtwo EX was released). Also other Vileplume decks will have trouble because of Raikou EX since Raikou EX just snipes 2 times to Vileplume and they’re out of the trainer lock.

Raikou EX reminds me closely of the Steelix EX, which LBS played in the 2006 season. Eelektrik variants, where Raikou EX is played are very close to LBS since they have great energy acceleration and you can play almost any tech in them. However, the 49,99$ question is, is Raikou EX really worth it? I don’t think so. I think it’s pretty alarming that a card, which only ONE deck in the format can play and uses 1-2 copies of, is worth 49,99$ in pre-order. Back in the days, you had to pay 50$ in the WORLDS for a card that was pulled 1/9 boxes. Those were the times…

Tornadus EX

Tornadus EX is the third most-hyped EX card. It has mediocre everything when you first look at it. So how can it be so wanted? The reason is its colorless type. It can be put into any deck with DCE or any form of energy acceleration in it. Practically, it’s as versatile as Mewtwo EX even though it isn’t as good. However, the versatility is what makes it so expensive.

It works also as a great fighting counter due its resistance to fighting. An Eviolited Tornadus EX is almost impossible to even 2HKO with Landorus, Terrakion or Groudon EX. That makes it the best possible tech for Darkrai EX orientated decks and Lighting decks.

Also, the damage Tornadus EX inflicts, is pretty optimal for the upcoming format. 60 damage with Blow Through lets you OHKO most of the Basic Pokémon while 100 is enough to 2HKO any EX Pokémon and what’s even more important – OHKO any Dark Pokémon. Tornadus EX is versatile and multi-purpose attacker, which works in many decks, but you must be very careful when using it because it still has x2 weak to Lighting, so you can’t just play it on the bench against every match-up.


Zoroark is so called one-deck-wonder. It only and only works in Zoroark/Weavile as a main attacker. It has 100 HP so its Dark Rush attack is rarely used. The main attack for Zoroark is Brutal Rush, which makes 20x for each Darkness Pokémon you have in play. When combined with Special Darkness and Dark Claw, it can reach up to 150 damage “easily”. Zoroark is easily OHKOed by almost every main attacker of the current decks (from Tornadus EX to Zekrom). When building Zoroark/Weavile deck, you must build it in a way that you can keep the flow of Zoroarks going. I’ll be doing an article of Zoroark/Weavile next week, so I won’t go too in-depth with how Zoroark functions now.


I was arguing with myself if Heatmor belonged to The Small Impact Crater or not but decided to put it here. As everyone knows, Heatmor is the promised “Durant-killer”. It hits 120 to Durant with one Colorless energy, has 90 HP and retreat of one. Practically it’s a perfect Durant counter because the only thing that in Durant can OHKO it, is Black Belt + Mewtwo EX. Rotom can nearly touch Heatmor because Heatmor attacks with only one energy.

Heatmor is a theorymonical nightmare. One can say that Heatmor kills Durant completely and that Durant won’t be played but that’s not true. Heatmor may be über against Durant but the question is, do people play Heatmor in their decks? I won’t be playing Heatmor in my tournament decks unless they have a very bad match-up against Durant. I think many players’ game philosophy is very similar. I don’t feel like Heatmor is worth it playing in the decks because you don’t want to open with it and I expect people not to play Durant because people MAY run Heatmor. As I said, a theorymonical nightmare that can’t be solved through anything else but tournament play. We’ll see how much Heatmor will affect Durant players.


Empoleon is one of my personal favorites of this set. It reminds me very closely of my beloved Ludicolo(DX), which I played in the Worlds 2005. Empoleon is the long awaited Water type Pokémon, which brings more versatility to the format. It would’ve brought even more versatility to the format, if it was released when ReshiPlosion was still a playable deck but now it just becomes a part of the metagame circle.

Empoleon has a HP of 140 and an Ability, which lets you draw 2 cards if you discard one any card. Empoleon also has an attack, which is similar to Jumpluff’s (HGSS) attack with the difference that it needs Water energy instead of Grass Energy. These all things combined makes Empoleon one of the strongest single cards in the format. It has a drawing ability that’s very efficient and its attack fits in the current metagame very well as well.

However, there is one huge downside to Empoleon, which downgrades it to tier2. That is its weakness to Lighting – the most popular type of the current format. Of course you can try to find an answer to the lighting weakness of Empoleon with Fighting type Pokémon like Terrakion and for example in Japan Empoleon/Terrakion did very well in one of the local tournaments.

Empoleon holds a promise of a great card and only the future will show, how good it will become in the upcoming versatile format.

Dark Claw/Dark Patch

Dark Claw and Dark Patch are the reason, why Dark decks like Zoroark and Darkrai are playable. The most important part of this is Dark Patch because every good deck in the format has its own energy accelerator. CMT has Celebi, Zekrom has Eelektrik and Reshiram has Typhlosion. Now Dark Pokémon have Dark Patch, which gets them straight to tier1. Dark Patch can only attach to the bench but it isn’t a problem because Darkrai EX gives everything a free retreat as long as they have Darkness Energy attached to them.

PlusPower is a good card. Dark Claw is a double-PlusPower TOOL so it doesn’t need a rocket scientist to figure that it’s a great card. Additional 20 damage, combined with Special Darkness can increase the damage output of every dark attackers a lot. Most Dark decks use at least 3 Dark Claws because you really want to have them on your Pokémon as soon as possible. Dark Claw is a highly important part of every darkness deck and it can be compared to Poké-Turn of SP-decks – you can’t build a deck without it.

Random Receiver

Random Receiver is a great card and good for the game. Why is it good for the game? Because it increases the consistency of decks that play it. It also makes the use of Ball Engine possible thus creating more versatile metagame. Random Receiver can be put instead of Pokegear 3.0. in EVERY deck that doesn’t use Collector or tech Supporters like Black Belt or Seeker. In decks with only pure draw supporters, Random Receiver is like having a supporter in your hand. This means that having a Junk Arm in your hand is the same as having a supporter in your hand. Junk Arm is the reason why Random Receiver is so good, you get a supporter with Junk Arm 100% of the time you have Random Receiver in your discard pile. When you can get rid of Collectors in some decks, the decks’ speed increases. The main asset in any deck in the current format is speed and you should try implanting Ball Engine in every deck of yours and compare how well it works compared to Pokémon Collector engine. I’ll be doing an article about how to use Random Receiver in the future as well, so wait for it if you don’t yet know how to use Random Receiver a well as you can!

Ultra Ball

Ultra Ball lets you search any Pokémon from your deck as long as you discard 2 cards from your hand. It was expected to be released in the Next Destinies but it was released in Dark Explorers instead. Ultra Ball is a god-sent to any deck that uses energy acceleration from the discard pile. It’s also one of the reasons why Eelektrik decks become even stronger than before. Ultra Ball is also a reason why Darkness decks are stronger than they would be without Ultra Ball. Eelektrik and Dark Patch both take an advantage of Ultra Ball better than any other energy accelerators in the format. The decks that can use Ultra Ball are immediately better than the cards that can’t use Ultra Balls because Ultra Ball’s effect is broken. The fact that it lets you search any card from your deck makes Ultra ball the best Pokémon search card in the format.

The Small Impact Crater

In the small Impact Crater lies the cards that have only small impact to the format.

Aerodactyl / Twist Mountain

Aerodactyl is a very interesting card in my opinion because any cards that add damage to any Pokémon attacks hold a promise of a great card. The downside of Aerdactyl is that it’s a Revived Pokémon. It’s very difficult to get Revived Pokémon into play because using Old Amber is always random. However, the new set also included Twist Mountain – a stadium card - which lets you put a Revived Pokémon straight to your bench from your hand if you flip heads. Aerodactyl and Twist Mountain can be put in any deck that has space for them so it has unlimited possibilities. However, in the end, playing Aerodactyls, Twist Mountain and Old Ambers takes a lot of space from your deck and usually 10 spaces are too much.


Accelgor is a fun card, which can be combined with trainer lock to make a very annoying deck. However, as all trainer lock decks, it has the same problems as always – speed and consistency.


Blissey works the best – dundundun- in Trainer lock decks. It may heal 30 HP from any of your Pokémon with flip so it can work against cards like Darkrai EX and its snipe but I don’t think playing Blissey is worth it because the format revolves mostly around OHKOing.


Cofagrius is an interesting card but building a deck around it, is very difficult. Cofagrius hits with DCE 40x for each Pokémon Tool you discard from your hand. The modified format has only 4 Pokémon Tools but when playing 4 of each of them and 4 Junk Arms, you could get a decent deck. I’ve been testing a deck around it but it hasn’t yet proven to be working too well. The best thing about Cofagrius probably is that it OHKOs Mewtwo EX by discarding only 3 Pokémon Tools. It’s almost impossible to tech in any deck and building deck around it is very difficult.

Eelektross is a very interesting card because it can be put into any Eelektrik variant and can be a very surprising tech. Its better attack however is sadly with 4 energy (Drag Off for 60) and isn't that useful in the current format. However, once again - after the rotation of Junk Arm - Eelektross wil become playable because Catcher can't be taken for granted after that every turn.

Groudon EX

Groudon EX is hyped because it seems like a perfect answer to Lighting and Fighting decks but I don’t’ buy it because fighting decks don’t have a decent energy accelerator with them. Groudon EX works the best with Landorus but as long as your opponent has Tornadus EX in their deck or they play CMT/Durant, you’re in huge trouble anyways. Groudon EX will see some play but I don’t expect it to do very well. 

Hooligans Jim and Sabu

Hooligans are a very interesting supporter. Disruption is always good but the fact that you can’t look at your opponent’s hand when choosing the cards, makes it unplayable. You may lucksack by getting 3 heads but there is no guarantee, you hit important cards. In the worst case scenario you’ll only hit the cards your opponent doesn’t want to discard with the possible Juniper in their hand!


Espeon would be a very interesting card but the current metagame is all about beatdown. Special Conditions and damage counters don’t play that big of a role in the metagame so Espeon won’t be played. However, I’m sure that after rotation Espeon will come highly popular as soon as Junk Arm is rotated out.

Entei EX/Kyogre EX

These EXs are the worst of Dark Explorer’s EXs. Kyogre is in my opinion just horrible. Kyogre wouldn’t be so horrible if it hadn’t a lighting weakness but guess what, it has… Entei EX on the other hand isn’t as horrible. It has weakness to Water, which will probably be a huge downside in the future thanks to Empoleon. Otherwise Entei EX is interesting, has some potential but won’t probably ever see any play in any other decks than 6 Corners variants. There is no reason to play fire in the current format because fire weakness is non-existent in the metagame. 

Sableye is still a question mark for me. It's Junk Hand attack will be useful in after the rotation for sure but I don't know if it's playable in the current format. The current format is probably too fast for Sableye. If you want to play a starter in your deck, you'll probably want to play Smeargle instead of Sableye because Smeargle is faster and helps with dead hands.


As said before, this decks holds a promise of changing the metagame. However, it doesn’t kill any current top tier decks but makes them even stronger than before. This – however – is reasonable because the set will create more top tier decks thanks to Darkness Pokémon and Empoleon, which take an advantage of the new cards as well.

Mewtwo EX will still be widely played and it won’t be disappearing anywhere but thanks to the introduction of Darkness Pokémon, you have other possibilities as well. I’m already looking forward to all the new decks that rise from the new set. The card pool will be the same for Battle Roads, Nationals and even for Worlds so Dark Explorers is the most important set of the format. It makes the final changes to the ultimate metagame, which will decide the new National and World Champions.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment on anything!

P.S. Eye on Japan: Part 3 will be finally coming in late May, so look forward to it!


  1. No comments on this one yet? Weird.
    New set, new decks for tournaments, it´s going to be interesting again.

    I have to build something unique for nationals since I don´t have any Mewtwo EX´s and it seems I´m not currently getting them from anyone. 2 boxes without Mew2 while my friend pulls 2 from 1 box. I´m Donald Duck and he´s Gladstone Goose. Dropping 60€ or whatever on Mewtwo-EX doesn´t seem too great for me, I´m more happy to pay that prize for say Super Mario Sunshine, F-Zero GX and Super Smash Bros Melee and still have over 15€ left. "My opening basic Pokémon shall be F-Zero GX. It does 200 to your Mewtwo-EX for no energy cost. I won!" They should make a new F-Zero for WiiU.

    I hope Durant dies. But if no one actually plays Heatmor and there are secret decks that all turn out to be Durant...

  2. About Sableye, I researched a little in Japanese blogs. They use it in Darkrai/Tornadus. Why? Because it has only ex-pokemons. Sableye's pull out can get you out of a bad situation and if it's KO'd, it won't matter, they'll have to take 7 prizes then. Worst case scenario would be a catcher on your ex benched pokemon, or an N, but your situation was bad anyway.

    1. I meant Junk Hand, not Pull Out.

  3. I can't help but see a fatal flaw in the upcoming format that might give decks like Accelgor DEX or Lilligant EPO a real chance in the upcoming format.

    Random Receiver is going to give everyone a false sense of security, and Trainer Lock is going to take as much advantage of that as possible. When people ran Pokegear, they ran only 1-3 as a junk arm target, and had higher supporter counts. I think we can expect to see a lot of deckbuilding misplays in the first couple weeks of Battle Roads and maybe even up to Nationals, because people will drop their number of supporters thinking Random Receiver is their guarantee. Trainer Lock like Vileplume still takes 2 Raikou's to kill it, and that's a turn they aren't attacking your active pokemon.

    A deck like Accelgor can take big advantage of that and paralyze-lock their Raikou before it can get a second Volt Bolt off. The other thing is that Vileplume can just adapt and run a thicker line (3-2-3) which can allow you to get a 2nd Vileplume up when necessary. Good luck taking down 2 Vileplumes/Gothitelles with 2HKO's and not paying dearly for it. There's the added benefit of decks running massive numbers of trainers now, which can be completely destroyed by a fast trainer lock.

    I think someone once said "This deck has 40 trainers in it, it CAN'T be bad" :P

  4. Actually, I've been playtesting Zoroark/Darkrai, and Sableye is very powerful in the deck. It kills Tynamo early game, and Junk Hand/retreats late game. Using Junk Hand for Dark Patch+ whatever is surprisingly potent late game. I think Sableye will have a bigger impact on the format than most people like to believe...

  5. Minor correction- Hooligans is flip ONE coin, not 3. It makes it a 50-50 chance, but if you hit that heads, that's 3 guaranteed cards gone from their hand. I can see it being useful in control decks with weavile and/or slowking.

  6. Fire weakness is not existant? Durant, Cobalion, Virizion, Vileplume... They're not that played (except Durant) but still...

    1. Fair point, though Vileplume and its pre-evolutions are weak to Psychic.

    2. The bigger problem is that all those cards are KO'd by cards you already run in your deck... so fire weakness is irrelevant. I'd add that that's like... the only fire-weak cards in the format. Unless you want to bring up Celebi or something...

  7. No mention of Krookodile, or Quad Entei? I've seen more talk of Entei than Groudon personally, and Krookodile isn't too difficult to throw in a Zoroark deck for some late game fire power and an added bench filler. I like Empoleon, but between Zekrom and Tornadus EX, I'm not sure how well it'll do. I almost see it as a slower Cinccino, with a bit more health. Besides those though, good article. I've been wondering what you have to say about this set.

  8. Really looking forward for this set, and hoping to get my hands on some Darkrai EX's, I have been testing a solo Darkrai-attacker deck and it can manage pretty well against everything except Terrakion, that is if you don't tech anything against it, which I actually do with Virizion NV and Shaymin EX if something goes wrong. Although I'm considering to move to Tornadus or Tornadus EX to counter, so far, the only threat to Darkrai.


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