Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Featured Writer: Matijs Moree - Darkrai EX


Hello everyone!

Today I¨ll have a featured writer to do the job for me! You may be familiar with Matijs Moree, who wrote almost a year ago his first article to The Deck Out. He is a very good friend of mine and like me he enjoys rogue deck building. However, this season Matijs has decided to take things a bit more seriously and has a Worlds invite as his goal. Getting a Worlds invite in a country like the Netherlands, which has a lot of great players is a difficult task, so Matijs has changed his strategy and played a metagame deck in Battle Roads. You can say he has changed to the Dark Side (literally). 

I´m glad that the article will discuss Darkai EX variant, because - in my opinion - Darkrai EX is underdiscussed in the current Internet debate. Darkrai EX is one of the strongest attackers out there and gives trouble to any tier1 deck.

If YOU are willing to write an article to The Deck Out, send me an e-mail to: or hit me on Facebook or Twitter. Somehow I managed to lost all the previous e-mails that everyone send to me, so send them again! Anyways, now I give the stage to Matijs' article.

Hello The Deck Out followers!

It’s not Esa but Matijs with an article! This will be my second article for this site and I hope you’ll enjoy it! 

The funny thing about this article is that it’s not about a rogue deck. Is that funny? Yes.

Some of you might remember my Tyranitar-dragons article which was a rogue deck. Normally I only build rogue decks but this season rogue doesn’t seem to work for me. So I decided to make a Darkrai EX deck and it fitted perfectly for my playing style! I’ll share my thoughts and list of the Darkrai EX variant I built with you in this article! Enjoy!

Let’s prevent talking about things you don’t want to know and start with the list!


4x Darkrai EX DEX
4x Sableye DEX
1x Tornadus EPO


4x Professor Juniper
3x N
3x Cheren
3x Random Receiver
4x Dark Patch
4x Pokémon Catcher
4x Ultra Ball
4x Energy Switch
3x Eviolite
2x PlusPower
2x Max Potion
1x Tool Scrapper
1x Switch


13x Basic Darkness Energy
You might think: Why’s this list so special Matijs?! I can agree with these thoughts because the list does look boring. But I’ll try to explain why this deck is fun to play and why it is a top-tier deck.


One of the most important factors in today’s metagame is how fast your deck is. Another important factor is the ability to ‘snipe’ the bench. This might sound strange because you have catcher, but in fact all extra bench damage you do will be a profit for the late game. That’s why I immedeatly started to build a Darkrai EX deck (after some Rogue decks failed). First I build Darkrai EX/Hydreigon but I didn’t like it at all because it’s so inconsistent. If you have T2 Hydreigon, your opponent will have a hard time, but if you don’t have T2/T3 Hydreigon, you’ll have a hard time because the deck depends a lot on Hydreigon.

So I took out the  Hydreigon line and tried to make the list as fast and consistent as possible.
This leads to the main strategy of the deck: Be able to fully charge a Darkrai EX in 1, max. 2 turns at any point during the game after turn 2. The goal is to KO all the important Pokémon (like Eels) your opponent plays as soon as possible (if you can manage that, the rest of the game will be easier). With the use of Sableye this is quite easy actually and the deck can even make a comeback (against Eels a comeback is common if you had a bad start, against Hydreigon it’s harder but I’ll talk about that later on).

To explain this strategy I’ll go ahead with the card explanations.

Card explanations

Darkrai EX

This is obviously your main attacker in the deck. Darkrai Ex is a very versatile card since it can hit 90 for 3 energies which is ok since you can charge Darkrai EX with Dark Patches. And it also hits 30 on the bench with the same attack which can give you the remaining prizes late game.
It’s ability gives you free retreat which is really good in this format full of catchers.
So if you are able to get this card attacking starting from T2 it will be really hard for your opponent to get prizes, even if they play Terrakion.


This is actually the key card of the deck. In a format without Junk Arm it is really broken to be able to get Items back this easily. Without Sableye this deck would be nothing. Sableye can return Items you need at that specific moment. Your opponent can play N at that time but they’re still back into your deck (with the amount of supporters you play it shouldn’t be hard to get them out of your deck).


This card seems strange, but it’s just a Sigilyph counter. With 4 energy switch in the deck it’s easy to charge it in 1 turn (with the help of Sableye). And you also play Pluspower so it’s possible to OHKO Sigilyph. Tornadus’ attack also benefits for this deck because you can move a Darkness energy to a waiting Darkrai EX which can most probably strike the turn after.

Professor Juniper

It’s the best draw card in the format and it helps this deck to discard your Darkness energies. This card can hurt many decks as well since you’re not able to return most cards that easily. But this deck has Sableye so Juniper can only hurt you when you have like 3 Juniper in your hand, which is a rare occasion.


N seems strange in a fast deck like this but at the moment N is good in almost any deck. It’s a good draw – and disrupt card at the same time. I don’t play 4 in the list because I want to increase the chance to draw into Juniper with Random Receiver. But it’s not that I can completely skip N, you still need it.


I tested a list with 4 Juniper, 4 N and 4 Random Receiver but it didn’t work for me. I wanted an additional draw supporter so I had to choose between Cheren and Bianca. It was actually quite easy to choose for Cheren. You often have big hands with this deck thanks to Sableye or you just want to save cards like Energy Switch for the turn after. The reason that I play 3 is the same as the reason that I play 3 N, to increase the chance to get Juniper with Random Receiver.

Random Receiver

I already described it above, it’s to increase the chance of getting Juniper as soon as possible. The other fact that this card is a must in this deck is of course because it’s an Item card, which can be returned by Sableye (I love this card so much)!

Dark Patch

I could write a story of at least 2 pages about Dark Patch but it would say as much as this 1 sentence: To accelerate energy attachment.

Pokémon Catcher

If played correctly this card can make your opponent cry. Use it to drag key cards like Eels in front and KO them. It’s also good when there is a Pokémon in front with only 30 or less HP left, drag something else to the front and grab 2 prizes! 4 Catchers is a must because you want to be able to do this tricks as often as possible.

Ultra Ball

This is 1 of the few discarding cards in this format. And since you want to be able to discard Darkness energies you want to play as many of this card as possible (I would play 6 if it was legal). It’s not necessary to play more Pokémon search cards because you’ll draw into the few Pokémon you play anyway with the large amount of Supporters/Random Receivers.

Energy Switch

One of the most underestimated cards in the format. Shaymin is out of the format but that doesn’t mean you can’t move energies between Pokémon. With 1 Dark Patch and 1 Energy Switch you can fully charge a Darkrai EX in 1 turn if you have at least 1 energy in play from previous turns. This is not the only deck in which it is an awesome card (being able to charge a Terrakion or Shaymin EX in 1 turn is really good as well).


I play 3 of them at the moment, but 4 wouldn’t be strange. It helps you to prevent 2HKO’s against many Pokémon and prevents OHKO’s against Terrakion. If Tool Scrapper wasn’t released 3 Eviolite would’ve been the maximum but now 3 is a must and 4 is preferred if you can find space. You might think that Dark Claw might be better instead of Eviolite but I can guarantee that you need to prevent that 20 damage. But you need extra damage as well…


Therefore you have PlusPower! It seems strange to play Pluspower in a Darkrai EX deck, but since special Darkness energy is banned it is a must. Against Terrakion you want to hit for 100 and next turn 30 on the bench (or the other way around, depends on the situation). Also a OHKO on Stunfisk is not bad, since it is one of the more dangerous cards for Darkrai EX. From my own experience I know that you need PlusPower against Eels as well. If you hit a Rayquaza EX or Raikou EX (or other 170 HP basic Pokémon) for 90 and they play Eviolite next turn you really want to have a PlusPower (if you don’t have Tool Scrapper). Two PlusPower is the minimum, 3 is preferred (also to increase the chance to have a PlusPower when you opponent plays Sigilyph).

Max Potion

What is better than fully healing a Darkrai EX with Eviolite attached and 150+ damage on it? But why do you play only 2 Max Potion? Easy, this deck can handle it to lose some attached energies (try to move them with Energy Switch before you use Max Potion) but not too many. That’s 1 of the few points why Darkrai EX/Hydreigon is better, they don’t lose the energies when they use Max Potion.

Tool Scrapper

Finally! The format has a tool counter (in the form of an Item) again! When Windstorm was banned I immediatly missed that card. Now it’s back! But this isn’t the kind of card you want to play 4 times in your deck (even if your local metagame only consists of Garbodor). One, max. 2 of them is good enough. I play 1 because I got stuck with them every time when I played 2. But it’s good to have a counter against especially Eviolite and Exp. Share. If you need to use it again just use Sableye!


Switch in this deck?! Yes, you definetly need it. At most moments it has the same function as Energy Switch in this deck. And it’s good when you play against Eels. They most likely play Raikou EX and when they’re in a pinch they try to paralyze you (also Tynamo can do that), which is very annoying because it can cost you the game. That’s why 1 Switch is a must but 2 is preferred.

Basic Darkness Energy

It’s no secret for your opponent that you play Darkness energies in a Darkrai EX deck! But from my experience I realized that my opponents were surprised about the amount of energies I used. I saw Darkrai EX decks with only 10 energies. I tried it but it was not enough. You really want to have energies in your starting hand and it’s preferred to even discard at least 1 of them. I changed to 13 energies and got my energies at the right times almost every game. I also tried 16 energies but that was too much, I got them at moments I didn’t need them. So I stuck with 13 energies.


In this section I’ll analyse the match-ups against the most played Metagame decks and what the best strategies against those decks are.

Darkrai EX/Hydreigon

You are must faster than your opponent, if you have normal setup. Try to KO all Deino’s and Zweilous you see. If your opponent happens to get Hydreigon, try to drag it in front until you can KO it (you must be quite lucky for this because they play at least 3 Max Potion). If your opponent can build 2 Hydreigon, you can better scoop the game, you will never win that race. Against this deck a comeback is almost impossible. But this scenario only happens if you have a really bad setup.
Some variants play Sigilyph, this card can be annoying but this is where Sableye saves you. Sableye just keeps returning your Catchers which allow you to hit around Sigilyph. If they try to play with only Sigilyph in play you can just relax and wait until you can fully charge Tornadus and KO Sigilyph. Attacking with Sableye’s other attack (10 damage) isn’t bad against Sigilyph either, since you’ll leave it with 80 HP left.

Eels variants

This is 1 of the best matchups you have. Even if you draw dead for 7 turns and your opponent manages to get 2 or 3 Eels in play you can still make a comeback and win the game. Just KO the Eels (drag 1 in front KO it and put 30 on the next Eel, next turn drag another Eel in front, KO it and put 30 on the same Eels as the turn before, next turn hit an EX for 90 and KO the last Eel).
If you have normal setup you’ll just run through their deck and they will have trouble in getting any Eel on the field.
Even if they play Terrakion you don’t have to worry, Terrakion just slows them down and you can take your time to put 30 on it while KOing an Eel and KO Terrakion the turn after.

Ho-oh EX variants

This can be a hard matchup since Ho-oh EX keeps respawning on the field. You should try to hit a benched Ho-oh EX twice and PlusPower KO it the turn after. They will try to 2HKO your Darkrai EX every time, but with the help of Eviolite you should be able to prevent this at least later in the game when they run out of Energy Switches. Trying to confuse Ho-oh EX with Sableye can be necessary in this game when your opponent has the lead (Ho-oh EX has 2 retreat so they dont like it to be confused).

Empoleon variants

In my experience this is 1 of the hardest matchups, especially if they play Terrakion AND Stunfisk. They don’t play any EX Pokémon so you have to take 6 prizes.
Try to KO Piplups and Prinplups as soon as they come in to play, but only do this when Stunfish and Terrakion are no danger for you at that moment. If they have Terrakion attack ready, focus on Terrakion first. In that case there’s a high chance they get Empoleon into play. With the extra drawpower and 2HKOer (keep your bench small and attach Eviolite, in that case they need at least 3 Empoleon attacks to KO you) this matchup will be harder and harder.

Garbodor variants

This sounds like an extremely hard matchup, but in fact it’s quite easy. Garbodor doesnt hurt your deck that much, Darkrai’s ability is nice but not necessary. You can just drag Garbodor in front with Catcher and next turn KO it on the bench (or other way around, depends on the situation).
It only get’s dangerous when they play 2 or more Groudon EX. In this case try to use Tool Scrapper to discard all of their EXP. Shares and Eviolites, you should 2HKO them at any time otherwise Darkrai EX will most likely end up terrorized by a Groudon EX in your discard pile.

Changes to the deck

I already mentioned a few possible changes in the Card Analyses section but here’s a list of these changes:
-4 Eviolite instead of 3, more chance to prevent 2HKO’s.
-3 PlusPower instead of 2, to increase the chance of getting PlusPower against Sigilyph or at other crucial moments.
-2 Switch instead of 1, you really need it when they keep using Catcher on your Pokémon without energy (Darkrai has an awesome Ability but sometimes you don’t want to use your Energy Switch on the Pokémon in front to retreat it and you just want to have Switch). Or against special condition decks.

But it’s really hard to cut any cards in this list. Maybe 1 Darkness energy less and 1 Sableye less could be possible, that depends on your playing style. For me there are no other cards which I can cut from the list, it’s a very very tight list.

Now it’s time for a list with cards which can be added or teched as well if you manage to find any space in this list:

-Super Rod, when you play 1 or 2 energies less, Super Rod can be useful. It’s also a game winning card if you happen to have 1 or 2 Darkrai EX prized.
-Blend Energy GPFD, with this card added to the deck you can tech many more Pokémon (which I’ll list below).
-Shaymin EX, with Blend energy added Shaymin EX could be a good addition since it is a card which can realize a comeback, even against Darkrai EX/Hydreigon.
-Sigilyph, this card can be annoying for your opponent and it can be used as a Sigilyph counter as well. With Blend energy added it shouldn’t be a problem to charge it. But personally I don’t like this card (in this deck), since it’s too easy to play around it.

-Terrakion, add 2 or 3 Fighting energies and Terrakion will be playable in here. It’s really good against Darkrai/Hydreigon because it just OHKO’s Darkrai EX (without eviolite). You can charge it easily as well with Energy Switch, so it could be a good addition. The only downside is that adding Fighting energies will lower the consistency of the deck.


I hope you do all understand now why this deck is top-tier at the moment. It’s not a rogue deck so I can understand that players who usually play rogue decks don’t want to play something like this. But for everyone who wants to earn some Championship Points and still want to play a challenging deck with a decent strategy I can recommend this deck.

I’m open for any suggestions or questions about this list so feel free to leave a comment! Thanks for reading!


  1. great reading the article!! love how u explain the cards and there purpose. 8/10

    grtz from Nico (belgium)

  2. love the article as usual but shouldn't the list have hammers?

    1. From what I understand, Hammer antics don't work in this deck becuase its goal is to win in the early game. Hammer would end up screwing the odds of pulling the key cards in the first turns.

      While I don't like the deck itself, it's not a bad list. Turbo decks are tough to play without Junk Arm and Smeargle, so I'm not really sold on the odds of getting a T1/T2 Darkrai in the current format.

    2. Honestly i think some hammers are nessacary against datkrai hydreigon because the odds that they are going to have dark patch every turn, or if you are lucky with flips, 2 dark patch. And i also dont get your comment because 1 part says you aum to win in the early game therefore you dont need hammers. But at the bottom of your comment it says that winning early game is hard, so i think since turn 1 night spear is near impossible, take out tornadus, switch, max potion, and add some hammers and maybe normal potion because normal potion can help deny those tricks when your opponent hits your eviolited darkrai on the bench like 4 times then catcher kos. You could do this with m potion but usually if you have a darkrai with eviolite, it will have energy.

    3. Srry for errors im typing on my ipod at 12 30 midnight my time lol

  3. Anonymous: Thanks a lot!

    Thanks for reminding me! I wanted to mention the Hammers in the article but forgot it.
    Personally I don't like Crushing Hammer because it's flippy. And they take a lot of space which I'd rather fill up with cards to improve consistency. But if you personally like Crushing Hammer and will take the flipping risk, this card is definetly worth testing (good luck with finding space).
    And for Enhanched Hammer, I tried this card but ran into too many decks without special energies so I dropped it from the list. But if your local metagame is full of decks which play a lot special energies, you should at least tech 1 Enhanched Hammer.

    Something in general:
    I found some mistakes in my English writing, sorry for that. I'm still improving my English writing since it's not my native language, so I hope you understand these small mistakes.

  4. Hey Matijs its patrick here.

    After u won a BR with this deck i was inspired too create a all basic darkray deck myself and i made Darkray/Mewtwo/Bouffalant !
    I took it too a BR only missing top just by losing the last 2 rounds on time ( both games 1 prize behind against darkray/hydry).

    Ill share the list becouse i wont be playing it anymore !

    Pokemon: (10)

    3 Darkray EX
    3 Mewtwo EX
    2 Bouffalant
    2 Sableye

    Trainers: (37)

    4 Juniper
    3 N
    3 Bianca
    1 Cheren
    3 Random Reciever

    4 Catcher
    4 Ultra Ball
    4 Dark Patch
    4 Energy Switch
    3 Eviolite
    2 Max Potion
    2 Tool Scrapper

    Energy: (13)
    9 Darkness
    4 DCE

    The deck worked out great and it was fast and fun too play !
    I hope u like it !

    Gr Patrick den Boer

  5. I played a deck like this at BRs.

    My list is pretty similar, except I went for some Hammer action. Also, I don't like N here, but I'm not a huge N fan, anyway. Especially with the hammer version, I don't like giving the opponent an out. I think more and more decks (maybe subconsciously) rely on the opponent playing N. When you don't, you can take advantage of their bad luck without sitting on a supporter drop. Bianca is a fair replacement, I think.

  6. hey man, being reading your blog lately, really like it, can you do a review on rayquaza ex/eel decks?

  7. Waiting for Matijs to answer rest of the question, but for the last Anonymous, Rayquaza Eelektrik will be analyzed on Monday, so be sure to look for it!

  8. A very interesting article and analysis, but I think you may have underestimated the Eels mathchup a little, particularly for a Darkrai list which doesn't run any Terrakion. While Catcher-KOs on two Eels in a row followed by a double KO on an EX and an Eel is great in theory, it's just as likely that in the meantime the Eels deck's attackers will be hitting you just as hard (particularly if you've had a bad start).

  9. Hello
    I am sorry to disturb you, I am French and I manage not to translate "Eels" pokemon my question it is to know the one which pokémon?
    Thank you


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