Everything you need to know about DARK MAX

Discussion in 'Feature Articles' started by Ignatious, Aug 28, 2012.

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  1. Ignatious

    Ignatious New Member


    Hello I am Ignatious, and this is my guide to building and playing a Darkrai EX/Hydreigon deck for the upcoming format.

    The deck was first accepted as a top tier deck after preforming very well in Japan. We managed to get a successful deck list, and we have a thorough understanding of the decks it played against and why it is such a good deck. Naturally, I took that list card for card THE DAY OF NATIONALS. It was actually the fourth new format deck I built, next to Garchomp/Altaria, Terrakion (EX)/Mewtwo EX, and Empoleon. As my testing with new format decks became more and more intensive I feel I had (and still have) a great understanding of the fall format. I now have only three decks built; Darkrai/Hydreigon, Garchomp/Altaria, and EelEXes. These three decks were vastly out preforming the rest of the decks, while at the same time staying competitive against each other. Although I have overall less experience with Darkrai/Hydreigon than the other two, the thread I made concerning a deck article clearly favored writing about this deck.

    In my testing I have figured this deck to be the second best of the three. Although that was great lists being used by great players. In a format where I don't know what I'll be playing against each round, and any loss removes me from CP, Darkrai/Hydreigon is the harder deck to play against; and it has amazingly great match ups against any deck that cannot hit Hydreigon for 150 damage. Whether you are new or experienced, Darkrai/Hydreigon is a deck I advise consideration for your next tournament.

    Before you take the deck to the said tournament however, I also advise you check out this article. If you're new this should help you out a lot in understanding both how to build and how to play the deck. If you're experienced, I'm sure you already know most of what I'm going to say, but I guarantee you'll learn from this anyways. So here we go with the building blocks to the deck's success; the cards.


    Here are the cards for the deck, starting with the


    Hydreigon Dragon;
    This is what makes the deck work. The ability is so amazing, that many skilled players would rather use a Pokemon Catcher to KO its basic, than attack anything else. What makes this ability so amazing is how well it works with other cards, namely Max Potion, Dark Patch, and Darkrai EX. With these cards you can accelerate energy into play, and power up multiple attackers. You keep these attackers healthy by moving energy away from the damaged attacker, using a Max Potion on the damaged attacker, and finally moving the energy back to now healthy attacker. Just like that, you have the ability to fully heal your high HP pokemon. Also, the free retreat Darkrai gives is great. Move energy to a given active pokemon, retreat it for free, and move the energy to wherever it may need to be.
    Hydreigon’s attack is great as well. Discarding energy can hurt, so you don’t want attacking with Hydreigon to become a habit, but sometimes the 90 damage from Darkrai’s attack just isn’t enough. More on this card later, just a brief summary for now.
    Run 3

    Zwelious Dark, Zwelious Dragon
    These cards evolve into Hydreigon, but you don’t need to run very many, if any at all. Most of the time Rare Candy will be doing the work these guys were made to do, but more efficiently. There are many circumstances in which they come in handy, though. A lot of times you don’t actually need Hydreigon in play; the fear of putting him into play at any time can be good enough, and in those situations you’ll want a Zwelious; just to make sure you can play the Hydreigon on your next turn fairly easily.

    As you can see, we have two different versions of the card. First is the dark type Zwelious. The notable advantages of running this card is the weakness to fighting (a popular weakness, but less popular than dragons will be), Resistance to Psychic (or should I just say Mewtwo?) and the ability to use Dark Patch onto him. The advantages of running the dragon type Zwelious is its amazing first attack. To be honest I haven’t used the attack very much myself, but I can definitely see where it can turn a game around. Run this version over the other one if you don’t mind Dragon weakness.
    Run a combination of 0-2

    Deino Dark, Deino Dragon
    These are needed to evolve into Zwelious, or evolve into Hydreigon via Rare Candy. These cards both only have 60 HP which makes them vulnerable to nearly every attacker in the game, and they have a whopping 2 retreat cost. The retreat is alleviated by Darkrai most of the time, but you don’t want to start with it none the less.

    Again, we have two playable versions of this Pokemon. The dark type’s advantages are that it isn’t as vulnerable to early attacks. It isn’t Rayquaza donkable, and it even has resistance to Mewtwo as well. Mewtwo will need four energies just to KO your basic. The Dragon type again, has a good attack. Possible paralysis is a nifty trick for any deck to have. In those moments where you mathematically can’t win the game, a lucky paralysis could change the game by giving you an extra turn to attach energy, or draw the Pokemon Catcher you needed to win.
    Run a combination of 3-4

    Darkrai EX
    This is your main attacker. You will be using this attack nearly every turn so I suggest you get used to where to place that 30 benched damage. Sike. I’ll do that for you. But not now, later. Darkrai’s ability is also extremely useful for giving your entire field free retreat with the help of Hydreigon’s ability. This stops other decks from utilizing annoying Pokemon Catcher stall tactics. They can’t stick a high retreat cost Pokemon active, because you’ll simply move a Dark energy to it (thus providing it free retreat), and retreating for free. You’ll then move the energy back to where it belongs and voila! You go unscathed. More on Darkrai later.
    Run 3.

    This card is the single most versatile card in the game (well maybe after Mew EX..) and it just so happens to use the same energy as everything else in this deck; Dark! Where do I even begin with this card?

    Sableye adds speed. Decks these days run Item cards to search for Pokemon. Sableye allows you to use them twice. In one turn you can use Level Ball and Ultra Ball, and Junk Hunt so that you can use them both again next turn.

    Sableye adds consistency. Random Receiver is also used heavily in today’s format. At any point during your first couple of turns in the game you can choose to use Junk Hunt to add Random Receiver to your hand. This is great if you would have otherwise ended your turn with no supporter in hand. No supporters usually means you draw dead for a while, which can also mean you lose the game.

    Sableye stalls out the opponent. For most decks, spamming Pokemon Catcher early in the game is a bad idea. Catchers are so powerful in the late game that it is usually never smart to use them before you start attacking. Your opponent's energy attachments in the first few turns are always crucial; there's no two ways about that. Using Catcher to force energy attachments to awkward Pokemon can stop your opponent from attacking long enough for you to get going and pull out a win. This is usually bad because Catcher is generally relied on to steal games later on, but with this deck you can do both by simply using Junk Hunt to grab the Catcher (and an additional Item) back from the discard pile.

    Sableye alleviates discards. Most decks that play Ultra Ball also gain momentum via the two discarded cards, such as with Dark Patch and Eel’s Dynamotor. These decks don’t always have two energy cards to discard. Figuring out what to discard is can be a very regrettable choice, and it could cost you the game. The same is true with Professor Juniper, you could discard all sorts of juicy item cards, and with the help of Junk Hunt, you can bring life to these dead cards, and make your late game slow much more smoothly.

    Sableye baits Ns. Early on you’ll play pretty much all of the cards that you can. You’ll have a few cards in your hand, but they won’t be great. When you use Junk Hunt, though, your opponent assumes you have a Rare Candy and Hydreigon, so they are much more N active. This could hurt or it could help, but what is true no matter what is just this; the more Ns they play early, the less Ns they will play late. If they only have 1 N left by the time Pokemon start actually battling, you can go on pretty much unstoppable. If they play this way, they better hope they are in a winning position; otherwise, there is no coming back from behind.
    Sableye does all of this for you.
    Run 1-3

    Item Search

    Ultra Ball
    This fetches every pokemon you run, your evolutions and EXes alike. Furthermore, it’s your primary method of adding Dark energy to the discard pile. Once you discard them, you can use Dark Patch to put them into play.
    Run 3-4

    Level Ball
    This searches for a much more limited amount of cards than Ultra Ball, but it doesn’t have any cost either. It’s useful for giving your field two Deino early.
    Run 0-2

    Pokemon Communication
    This gets any pokemon, but only if you have a pokemon you can sacrifice as well. Usually the pokemon you have, you want to play, but this card does have its uses. It can also be used to get a pokemon out of your hand before you play Juniper, thus saving it from being discarded.
    Run 0-2

    In total I’d run 5-6 Item search cards.

    Item Juices

    Pokemon Catcher
    The card grants prizes you wouldn’t normally have. It disrupts your opponent’s field by KOing needed cards such as Eels, Altarias, or early stages of attackers. It wins games. It’s the most potent Item in the game.
    Run 4

    Dark Patch
    This is what fuels your deck. It allows for turn 2 attacks, and it replaces lost energy, whether by Hydreigon’s attack, or by losing energy in a prize trade. It’s an essential card to the deck.
    Run 3-4

    Rare Candy
    It’s also important for speed. Without the card it’d be very hard to get Hydreigon into play at all. Play enough to draw into them throughout the whole game.
    Run 3-4

    Max Potion
    It allows you to heal. High HP usually means your Pokemon won’t go down in one attack, and if they don’t, use Hydreigon to move energy before you heal, and then move the energy back. This effectively leaves your opponent back to square one. If they can’t OHKO your pokemon, you can almost be assured to win the game.
    Run 2-4

    It makes Darkrai Harder to OHKO by the likes of Terrakions, Rayquaza EX, and Shaymin EX. Also changes many 2HKOs into 3HKOs, which means you can use your max potions more sparingly.
    Run 2-3

    Supporter Options

    Professor Juniper
    It’s the card that yields the best draw in the game. It gives 7 cards all at once, and doesn’t put any cards back in the deck first. It also discards Dark energy to later be used for Dark Patch. Make sure to use as many cards as you can before discarding them. All too often did I see people play Juniper when they could have used a Super Rod or Junk Arm first (not that it’s legal anymore.. Just saying).
    Run 4

    Second best draw we have currently. Unfortunately it’ll help the opponent out a lot early on, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. It is also one of the few cards in the game that helps with coming back from behind.
    Run 3-4

    These cards serve the same purpose, but one can be better than the other depending on your list and play style. They are weak draw cards, but the best we have next to the previously mentioned cards.
    Run a combination of 1-3

    Random Receiver
    Although it is not a supporter, it functions as one, considering it provides a supporter for the turn. It can be bad, considering you lose 2 “supporter options” from your deck each time you play one. It also makes it more likely for you to play specific supporters in a given situation.
    Run 2-4

    I would run around 13-15 Supporter Options


    Basic Dark
    They fuel your attacks, so you need enough to last a whole game. You want to hit them early so they can be discarded asap.
    Run 7-9

    Blend GFPD
    This card allows for plenty of tech options, but mainly is used for Hydreigon’s attack. You can move these as you can other Dark energy so they are an absolute necessity.
    Run 3-4

    I’d run around 12 energies in total.

    So now we have mostly every card you could want to include in the deck. If we total the entirety of the cards above, using the smallest possibilities we have a skeleton build as follows;


    3 Deino
    3 Hydreigon
    3 Darkrai
    1 Sableye
    4 Juniper
    3 N
    1 Cheren/Bianca
    2 Random Receiver
    3 Ultra Ball
    4 Pokemon Catcher
    3 Dark Patch
    3 Rare Candy
    2 Max Potion
    2 Eviolite
    7 Dark Energy
    3 Blend GFPD

    We have here 47 cards. Unfortunately Pokemon is a game where building a deck is very easy, you only have to actually think about 13 cards in the deck. Regardless, after you have thought about those 13 cards, it's time to play the game.


    Now you understand the building blocks for a successful deck. Now is where I teach you how they all come together. In the Pokemon TCG winning the game is about taking as many prizes you can, in as few turns as possible. By extension we can also say that forcing your opponent to take as few prizes in as many turns as possible is another great way to win. This deck does both, and does them well.

    In general, you want each attack to be worth 1 prize, achieving a 1 for 1 in the attack/prize ratio. If you don't actually take a prize, that is fine, just so long as you can take 2 prizes next turn. 2 attacks yielding 2 prizes is still a 1 for 1 attack/prize ratio. This is why Pokemon Catcher is a crucial card for any competitive deck. On the same turn that you play the card, you can KO the Pokemon that has been brought active.

    There are turns, however, that landing a strong attack is impossible, and on these turns you fall behind by 1 attack. This deck, however, is an expert at forcing the opponent to fall back by 1 attack. If they choose to attack Darkrai, all that needs to be done is to use Hydreigon to move energy from the damaged Darkrai, play a Max Potion on the damaged Darkrai, and move the energy back to Darkrai. Darkrai is now good as new, and your opponent just wasted an attack, and fell behind by 1 turn.

    Naturally, your opponent won't want to fall behind on their attacks. Because of this Pokemon Catcher becomes their best friend. They won't waste attacks on Darkrai; they'll go straight for your Hydreigon lines. This does hamper your ability to force your opponent to fall behind, but this is still advantageous for you. Since they can only take prizes by using Pokemon Catcher, then they will need to draw them turn after turn to stay in the game. If they whiff, they fall behind. If they don't, they'll be all out of Catchers after only 4-5 prizes have been taken.

    The great thing about an opponent attacking Hydreigons, in that all of your energy stays in play! Most decks lose energy when critical Pokemon are KOed, but not this deck. You should be taking advantage of this by having as many Darkrai in play, all of which are ready to attack. If you have three ready Darkrai once your opponent runs out of Catchers, you can almost know that your bench is safe (barring Raikou). So once a Dakrai becomes damaged this way, you can free retreat it for a fresh Darkrai, and because they can't Cather that benched Darkrai for 2 prizes in 2 turns, they fall behind in their attacks.

    This deck is also great at taking prizes, and keeping up with the game offensive momentum. These attacks can be a lot more tricky than expected so here are some guidelines on how to think about your main two attacks.

    Night Spear

    This attack is just amazing. It OHKOs Eels, Altarias, Accelgor, most evolving basics, most middle stage pokemon, most set up pokemon and 2HKOs EXes while also doing damage to the bench. Where to put this damage is always relative but here are a few strategies to consider;

    The deprivation strategy;
    By using Night Spear in tandem with Pokemon Catcher you can stop opposing decks from working just that much more effectively. After 3 Night Spears, you can have KOed four Eels or Altarias, which is more than what those decks can possibly produce, while taking a strong lead in the prize race with a 3 for 4 attack/prize ratio. At this point their deck simply doesn't function properly, and you will likely have a prize lead. Playing this way does have a downside, and that would be the over dependence on using Pokemon Catcher. You can't rely on drawing them turn after turn, and if you do end up using them all, your opponent can take advantage and keep damaged Pokemon on their bench.

    The OHKO EX strategy;
    Specifically for 170HP EXes, you can knock out an active while putting 30 bench damage on say, a Mewtwo EX. On your next turn you can use Hydreigon to KO that Mewtwo. You didn’t spend any extra attacks on that Mewtwo, so essentially you OHKOed that Mewtwo, netting three prizes in two turns.

    Basic killer strategy;
    Simply Deal 90 to an active attacker and 30 to an basic on the bench. Next turn they need to evolve that basic or they lose it. This leads to quick prizes and cutting down your opponent’s resources, like the above two strategies put into one, but canceled out by an opponent’s evolving. This is why you will usually want to play an N before hand, leaving them with 2-4 cards in hand, and reducing their odds of evolving that basic.

    Stage 2 killer strategy;
    Just imagine using Night Spear over and over against the opponent's Stage 2 attackers. You load that damage on, and eventually KO two attackers at the same time. Because stage 2s are hard to replace in general, you can imagine how it can be difficult to replace two stage 2s at once. This strategy can effectively discard a lot of attackers, and it doesn't even require much Pokemon Catcher abuse. Unfortunately, the down side to playing this way, is that you will be spending 3 turns and only accessing 2 prizes. You fall behind in the prize race, but aim to make up for it by wiping out your opponent's offense.

    That sums up how you’ll want to be thinking about Night Spear’s 30 bench damage.

    Dragon Blast

    This is another great attack. Last format, the Darkrai decks of the time couldn’t dish out high amounts of damage all at once. With Hydreigon; problem solved. You’ll need a lot Dark Patch abuse if you plan on using the attack more than once per game, though, and if Hydreigon is OHKOed, you’re out four energy, so be careful. Situations where this attack is great;

    The OHKO EX strategy
    I’ll copy and paste. Specifically for 170HP EXes, you can knock out an active while putting 30 damage on say, a Mewtwo EX. On your next turn you can use Hydreigon to KO that Mewtwo. You didn’t spend any extra attacks on that Mewtwo, so essentially you OHKOed that Mewtwo, netting three prizes in two turns.

    2HKOing EXes
    Attacking with Darkrai can 2HKO EXes, however in many situations that is simply not true. A dropped Eviolite will stop Night Spear from taking that EX out of the game. In this situation you pull Darkrai back and KO that EX anyways.

    Stage 2 killer strategy
    As stated above, KOing all offensive Stage 2s can win games, and Hydreigon helps a lot with this. Hydreigon KOs the stage 2 with just one attack, thus keeping the 1 for 1 attack/prize ratio. This is a very risky vs Garchomp, but still doable if a return KO isn’t likely. Stage 2’s vulnerable include Hydreigon, Garchomp, Empoleon, Klingklang, Gothitelle, and Eelektross.

    These are good situations to use the attack, but remember; you can’t use it too often per game, because you want as many energy in play as possible.

    Turn by Turn
    This is how you want the deck to flow every game.

    Turn 1: Active Sableye. You'll want to use Ultra Balls/Level Balls/Pokemon Communications to get a Darkrai in play, along with 2 Deino. You will attach an energy to Sableye, and hopefully with help from Ultra Ball and Professor Juniper, you will have basic Dark energy in your discard pile. Junk Hunt for useful Items (usually Ultra Ball).

    Turn 2: Use Ultra Ball to help Rare Candy into Hydreigon, evolve the other Deino into Zwelious, and put Dark energy in the discard pile if you haven't already. Play Dark Patch to put that discarded Dark energy onto Darkrai EX. Attach an energy from your hand onto Darkrai EX. Because of Darkrai's ability, retreat Sableye for free into Darkrai. Move the energy from Sableye onto Darkrai via Hydreigon's ability, and use Night Spear on the second turn.

    This usually never happens. It pretty much wins when it does happen though. Alternatively;

    Turn 2: Use Ultra Ball to evolve into Zwelious, and discard Dark energy if you haven't already. Use TWO Dark Patches and put the Darks onto Darkrai, then attach to Darkrai from your hand. Retreat Sableye for free because of Darkrai's ability and attack with Night Spear on turn 2.

    In this situation, you don't have the Rare Candy/Hydreigon combination, but it requires two discarded Darks and two Dark Patched. This also happens rarely, but wins games outright just as well. This deck is made to be a late game boss deck, so attacking fast with a conceptually slow deck is a natural and obvious HUGE advantage.

    Usually you'll be attacking on the 3rd turn, and from there you'll need a slew of energy, replacement Pokemon, and game changing trainers. Of course a high Supporter count is needed, because one supporter can draw into all of the above cards.

    That’s a general overhaul on the basics of the deck. There are, however, other cards that could make an appearance in the deck, and these are included to help specific match ups. Also known as techs, these cards are as follows;


    Shaymin EX
    Shaymin is used primarily to OHKO fighting types, while also resisting them. It has other uses as well, after 4-5 prizes have been taken. Darkrai’s additional 30 benched damage helps Shaymin deliver unexpected KOs on EXes. Unfortunately this situation isn’t all too common, and Shaymin is the worst possible start the deck could ever have. It’s a sitting duck worth 2 prizes throughout the whole game. Very high risk vs reward card.
    Run 0-1

    Sigilyph is used to OHKO problematic Mewtwo EX that have too much energy for our deck to handle. This doesn’t happen all too often, but when it does happen it is, quite problematic. Sigilyph cannot be attacked by Mewtwo EX and it OHKOs Mewtwo EX. It’s a good card for sure, but not without weakness. Mewtwo can have as many as four energies on it and still be out of Sigilyph’s reach. Furthermore, it is practically impossible to use Sigilyph’s attack without Hydreigon in play. Dark Patch doesn’t attach to him, so it’ll take a solid three turns of attaching to use him. This can be said for all three energy techs, however.
    Run 0-1

    Mewtwo EX
    Unlike Sigilyph, Mewtwo here only needs two energies to KO a strong Mewtwo, and it can KO one with 4 energy on it regardless or Eviolite. Unlike Sigilyph, though, Mewtwo is not invulnerable to another Mewtwo EX. In fact, it’s weak to other Mewtwos. Can be a bad starter much like Shaymin, but it’s much less a sitting duck than Shaymin is. Mewtwo can also be a solid attacker vs a fighting deck or any deck where a return Mewtwo EX isn’t possible/likely. You can actually use Psy Drive as well, a good, but over looked attack.
    Run 0-1

    Mew EX
    Mew is yet another possible counter to powerful Mewtwos. You could also use Junk Hunt with Mew, but you generally don’t want energy on Mew, and especially not while she’s active. That simply promotes a Mewtwo KO. You’d fall victim to the very card you’re attempting to counter. When Mew counters a Mewtwo, she has interesting ways to do it. Namely she can use Night Spear to OHKO, but also to keep up with the 30 benched damage from Night Spear, which can actually be impressive in the right situation. This is countered by Eviolite, but in that case just copy X Ball. Mew’s frailty can be an issue mid game. Sure, you can trade 2 prizes for 2, but it’s not likely you can afford to just drop the energy on Mew, and a lot of time, “prize trading” isn’t a good option for the deck.
    Run 0-1

    Victini (V-Create)
    Not good now. Could be a good tech in the future vs Registeel and Klingklang.
    Run 0.

    Hydreigon Dark
    Yes, much like the pre-evolutions, Hydreigon also has a Dark version. This version is much worse, and usually if you manage to get a stage 2 in play, you want it to be the other Hydreigon. It is not impossible however, to master a specific situation in which this Hydreigon is both unexpected and wins you games.
    Run 0-1

    Reshiram EX
    Reshiram here is the only card that’ll give the deck a possible 150 damage attack. Darkrai’s benched 30 damage + 150 = 180 damage that is perfect for an EX KO. It won’t be expected I guarantee it. It can OHKO a few Garchomps in a row, but you very well could lose a blend energy each time. It also has an uncommon weakness, so it is decent as an attack option vs most decks. It needs Hydreigon to power it up, even more than Sigilyph, and it requires two of the blend energy at once.
    Run 0-1

    Regigigas EX
    Can high very high and weird numbers that other cards can’t. Zekrom EX, for instance, won’t want to mess with Gigas here. It can be played around and it’s still weak to fighting. It needs Hydreigon to power it up, but at least it doesn’t need Blends to work.
    Run 0-1

    Registeel EX
    It’s an underrated card for sure. Catchering up Eels and using this attack three times in a game can be devastating, it’s unlikely that they will hit the Switch/DCE every time, and when that happens, it’s an attack that goes unreturned.
    Run 0-1

    Giratina EX
    It’s a Dragon type, so it’s useful for OHKOing Dragons. It’s also weak against Dragons, so use it at your own risk. Is also an alternative to hit for high damage, although a bit risky.
    Run 0

    A Rare Candy into Hydreigon followed by a Max Potion for an unexpected heal is commonly needed in the deck. It doesn’t happen as often as you may like it to happen, unfortunately. Musharna helps with this a lot, amongst simply providing draw support throughout the game. Anybody that has played Uxie LvX should know to not underestimate this power.
    Run 0 or a 1-1 line

    Tool Scrapper
    It’s useful for annoying Eviolites that get in the way of otherwise perfect damage addition for KOs against EXes. It’s also great vs a Garbodor centered deck. You can even recycle Tool Scrapper with Junk Hunt. If they run a small amount of Tools, you can run them out of tools, and proceed to use your abilities to overcome the game and pull out a win.
    Run 0-2

    Super Rod/Revive/Rescue Scarf
    It’s situational, and only truly useful in tandem with tech Pokemon. They can assist with awful Juniper discards, and allow for more lenient Ultra Ball discards.
    Run a combination of 0-2

    Giant Cape
    Most decks need to OHKO Hydreigon to beat this deck. Simply put; Giant Cape makes that much, much harder. Zekrom EX can’t do it, and it makes it harder for Garchomp to do it.
    Run 0-2

    Crushing Hammer
    The Hammers Darkrai variant is still possible. Discarding an energy per turn vs non accelerating decks can be impossible to deal with.
    Run 0 or 4

    Enhanced Hammer
    Can be ran in tandem with Crushing Hammers, or on its own. Solidifies the Hammer strategy, but can also toss DCE and Blends.
    Run 0-2

    I haven’t tested this card, but it could lock the game in certain situations. Usually, I’d say this would hurt more than help, but I’m not sure, so I’m posting it just case you can find a better use for it than I can.
    Run 0 unless you’ve figured out a solid use

    This is a huge list of tech possibilities, but don’t let that fool you. It’s better to under tech than it is to over tech. In fact, you don’t need ANY of the above cards to be honest, and if you choose to add one in, be careful.

    I’d run 3 tech cards at most, and I wouldn’t even recommend that.


    You always want at least 2 Deino lines in play at a time; at least during the first few turns. This can be 2 Deino, a Deino and a Hydreigon, etc. You want Hydreigon’s ability at your disposal at any point in the game. If you only have one in play, it will likely get Catchered active and KOed. This not only blocks off Dark Trance, but you can’t use Dragon Blast or any of your tech cards either.

    You may not need Hydreigon in play. Many decks can OHKO Hydreigon with ease. Against these decks, using Rare Candy into your Hydreigon could be a complete waste. An opponent will usually target your Deinos, whether it’s evolved or not. You should just keep a hold of those Rare Candies unless you plan on explicitly using Hydreigon soon, or you predict a whiff on Pokemon Catcher.

    Decks will almost always attack Deinos first. Use this to your advantage. After they KO a Deino, just play another one. In the mean time, make sure to set up multiple Darkrai with three energy and Eviolites. In order to win the game they'll need to KO 3-4 Deino lines and 1-2 Darkrai. They simply cannot run enough Catchers to deal that many KOs. After you swarm the field just retreat into fresh attackers and get extra attacks in. Be careful though; if they do attack your active Darkrai early, be sure to be able to both play a Hydreigon and a Max Potion. If your deck can handle both of these situations you'll be in great shape.

    Utilize Sableye late game. It is mostly common sense when to NOT use Sableye, when you can take valuable prizes, or if your opponent has one prize left; etc., but never forget about Junk Hunt. Max Potion and Pokemon Catcher are cards that win games, and you often lose games without a supporter option like Random Receiver.

    Calculate possible Shaymin EX plays and Tool Scrapper plays when choosing whether or not to use Max Potion. Both of these cards can surprise you, and may lose your EX due to a lack of foresight.


    Vs Garchomp/Altaria EVEN

    They are going to attack your Deinos, like most decks. This is actually fine. Keep playing them, and bait out the attacks. Their winning formula is; 3 Deino KOs, 1 Sableye KO, 1 Darkrai EX KO equals KO, but unless they get a fast Sableye KO they’ll need all four Catchers to do this. Stop the early game Sableye KO by simply putting Darkrai active, or Catcher up Swablu/Altaria and Junk Hunt the Catcher back. They’ll then need an energy and Garchomp, which is easy to get, but they’ll also need a Rare Candy and now a Switch too. The odds are in your favor here. Once they are out of Catchers you can simply retreat Darkrais for fresh ones and get about 2 unpunished attacks in. By this time they should be out of Garchomps. I usually choose to not attack Altarias, unless I calculate the prize exchange to where that route will win me the game, or they only have one Altaria line in play. Otherwise it’s just easy for them to replace them, and they only need 1 at a time for the Hydreigon KOs. KOing Altarias turn after turn is an acceptable strategy as well; it’s just a bit more reliant on drawing into Catchers.

    Vs EelEXes EVEN

    They will also attack your Deinos, but they aren’t as picky as they attack much faster. Just putting damage on the board is a good thing for them. They will take as many easy prizes they can; their strategy can be quite simple; take a prize lead and keep it. They have Mewtwo for early on, Raikou for attacks without need of Catcher, and Zekrom for Hydreigons. If they bench Zekrom with 0-1 energies on it, use Catcher to bring it active and do Night Spear. Otherwise you’ll want to KO Eels every turn, and eventually get an extra KO. You’re first three attacks will usually be on two Eels and one EX, probably Zekrom or Mewtwo. There are cases where KOing the EX will occur before the Eels, but usually if you don’t get the Eels out of the way, they can replace anything you KO. If they are attacking with Zekrom and Raiku a lot, having a lack of Eels in play will certainly slow their offense down. They can keep up a Mewtwo however, as he doesn’t discard his energy to attack. This is why a Mewtwo counter is recommended, but in truth it’s not easy for these counters to go on as planned. Also note that if they don’t run Zekrom EX, you can control the game with a high HP field and Max Potions.

    Vs Mirror EVEN

    I haven’t done much mirror testing, but I’ll share what I do know. In general if one play has Hydreigon, and the other doesn’t; the one with Hydreigon will usually win. This is because Darkrai is unable to OHKO other Darkrai, and if one play can easily drop a Max Potion to unto their opponent’s hard work, they have a clear edge. Attack their Deinos and Zwelious, as they will be attacking yours. Don’t forget if you have Hydreigon, it can OHKO an opposing Hydreigon, and swing the game in your favor. If you can’t OHKO Hydreigon, I suggest chipping Hydreigon off with Night Spear Benched damage. If you outright Catcher Hydreigon, they will obviously Max Potion the damage. If they whiff, you luck out, but usually they hit it. Only try it that way if you have a late game N. Because Night Spear’s 30 bench damage can be quite meaningless outside of hitting Hydreigon, you’ll want to hit the active EX. This sets off a two pronged attack, and they may run out of Max Potions saving their EX, then you KO their Hydreigon and have a smooth finish. Or they Max Potion their Hydreigon, and you proceed to grab two prizes out of it. Granted, you’re still not in a great position, but considering you don’t have Hydreigon, and they do, you’re making the best of a bad situation.

    Feel free to give any input, I’ll add stuff I missed later.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2012
  2. koolkidhp

    koolkidhp New Member

    Very nice deck guide ^^. Thanks a lot :3.
  3. King Piplup

    King Piplup Active Member

    Very nice article.

    By the way, a common misconception I'm seeing (that is included here) is that Mew EX has free retreat-He does not.
  4. AnUnown

    AnUnown New Member

    I was thinking the same. Throw skyarrow bridge in and he does, but that's useless in this deck with Darkrai anyway.

    Thanks for writing this though. I'd been hoping to pull a darkrai either online or IRL to give him a whirl, and this article gave me some good ideas for it :thumb:
  5. sandy4123

    sandy4123 New Member

    Why don't you mention Tool Scrapper in case your opponent manages to play Garbodor or even to help Darkrai pull off a 2HKO on EXs such as Zekrom EX(which is good against Garchomp), Raikou EX, Mewtwo EX, etc.?
  6. Ignatious

    Ignatious New Member

    A lot of my testing is with proxies, so small stuff like that can happen from time to time. I fixed it.

    I mentioned this; it's under tech options.
  7. sandy4123

    sandy4123 New Member

    I totally missed it. And what is your opinion on the match up against Tank decks such as Entei or Terrakion?
  8. kirbyking

    kirbyking New Member

    Nice article!

    Three of MY personal opinions

    1. 4 N is a must have in this deck
    2. the Fluffychomp match-up leans a little more to 60-40 in favor of Darkrai/Hydreigon
    3. Bouffalant should be in techs

    Please don't take offense as I enjoy providing opinions and I really appreciate this.
  9. Kayle

    Kayle Active Member

    Darkrai/Hydreigon is a deck that is extremely sensitive to misplay. There's a lot to keep track of and a lot to get right.

    I would have gone into greater detail about how to set up your first couple of turns. It can be absolutely awful trying to force a Sableye start when you don't have it easily. It's also important what you discard when you use Ultra Ball and/or Juniper, and important to know that if you Junk Hunt, you're drawing your opponent's N out.
  10. iNewtonior

    iNewtonior New Member

    Well, with our first week of BR's done with, I think we know that this deck is gonna be good. In my division (seniors) we had 1st, 2nd, and 4th all playing this deck, (me taking second). Really what everyone was noticing was this deck's huge comeback-ability. My one loss, I was playing a mirror match, took 5 prizes super fast, then got swept by a Mewtwo. It really comes down to the techs, which is why you can't afford this that don't hit hard enough like Registeel. The other huge thing is Max Potions, which basically needs to be a 4-of in this deck. It wins you games.
  11. Bigbowlr1037

    Bigbowlr1037 New Member

    Ive been nplaying this deck alot. A tech thats out there a bit is DRX golurk. Ghost hammer 1 shots mewtwo will giving him no darkrai weakness. Devolution punch is also good with all the evolution that will see play. I also like noble victories hydreigon to create some wild turn koing alot of stuff
  12. dark wobbuffet

    dark wobbuffet New Member

    Nice, are you going to do guides for any other decks?
  13. Ignatious

    Ignatious New Member

    Usually this deck will preform as the superior tank deck. Terrakion specifically can be tricky, considering weakness. If you have a nice tech that can attack well and survive a 90 attack, it shouldn't be too difficult either. I usually attack first with Hydreigon, dealing 120 damage. This puts down loads of pressure, and if they don't draw well, they'll fall through. Because of this, it is often times quite okay to fall behind on prizes, as N will usually force them to draw poorly.

    Don't worry; none taken. I personally run 4 N, and I consistently do well against Garchomp variants. So I agree with you there for sure. This guide is aimed to be as general as possible though. I suppose I could add Boufalant to the techs. While that is interesting, his low health has stopped me from considering him as a tech in here.

    Nothing is stopping you from adding that detail right now, if you'd like to share anything.

    Mewtwo sweeps can actually be an issue with the deck. There are many options for you to stop a 6+ energy Mewtwo if it is constantly a problem. The amount of Max Potions really does depend on your opponent's play style. I have personally found that OHKOs happen too often to run 4 Max Potion, but I can see where in specific meta games it could be useful.

    There is an issue with using evolution attackers as tech. If the evolution in question truly is problematic, it will most likely be dealt with before it evolves. Just some food for thought.

    I am considering an Eel guide. But most likely not. I'll have to see what kind of free time I'll be having for me to type something like this up.
  14. AlCaTrAzz

    AlCaTrAzz New Member

    I apologize if this is a super silly question, but has anyone considered using Chandelure with the Hydreigon/Darkrei EX combo could be as much as 120 damage we can throw around during our turn, then we can Night Spear on top :) We already run rare candies for Hydreigon, we can move dark energy around to allow us to make Chandelure active, snipe for 30 then pull back...
  15. Kayle

    Kayle Active Member

    Well, here are my thoughts, after struggling with my own list and watching others' more successful lists.

    If you start with Sableye, you want to look at your hand and examine your discard options. Are there Random Receivers? Rare Candies? Ultra or Level Balls? Any of these cards are things that might be nice to re-use or have access to later. Prioritize discarding them - whether it's by playing them or by actually discarding them via Ultra Ball or Professor Juniper. They are actually more available to you in the discard pile than they are in your hand.

    At the same time, however, you shouldn't rely on this tactic; be wary of your opponent playing N. An N drop can not only counteract whatever play you were trying to set up with Junk Hunt, it can actually put you in to a position where Sableye is no longer useful, as you don't have anything to get out of your discard pile.

    For this reason I actually find that if you don't start with Sableye, you're better off just letting that be, and trying to set up normally.

    The deck's biggest weakness is setting up Hydreigon. If your opponent can take that out, you become a clunky pure-Darkrai deck, which has enough power to run through some things, but not other archetypes. Setting up multiple Hydreigon is in your best interest, especially against Garchomp or other D/H when they have the capability to OHKO you with a Catcher drop. Getting at least two Deino into play early is therefore extremely important.

    Sorry if my original post came off as critical or holier-than-thou or anything, I actually really liked this and am glad you wrote it! I just had some extra thoughts to add. ^ ^"
  16. Ignatious

    Ignatious New Member

    ^^ To that I say there are two types of item cards. The first are item cards that change gameplay and
    are generally more useful late game than early game. The second are item cards that add consistency and are much more useful early game than late game. I would NEVER want the first type of item card to be in the discard pile over being in my hand. Your statement is more true for the second type of item cards. These items include; Ultra Ball, Communication, Level Ball, Rare Candy, and Random Receiver. It certainly is beneficial for these cards to be discarded on the first turn to allow for them to be Hunted for also on the first turn, allowing for a much faster set up. Using these items twice, or discarding them and assuring their spot in your hand after a supporter causes this.

    The need for Hydreigon to hit the table isn't very high. To add to that thought, it has never been too difficult for me. Some games I will draw dead and lose due to the awful supporter selection we have. Outside of that reality, it should be simple to put a few Deino into play. After that getting Hydreigon on your next turn is only necessary if you want to attack on turn 2. Otherwise Hydreigon can wait until they manage to deal a massive amount of damage.

    This deck can never be without Hydreigon. That's my main point. Against a "Pure Darkrai deck" anyone can 2HKO Darkrai. This means it's lose three energy in two turns (more than what can naturally be produced), and the opponent will have a 1 turn for 1 prize ratio. If Hydreigon lines are added to this Darkrai deck, the above scenario isn't realistic at all. If they take out the Deino/Zwelious/Hydreigons, as you fear they might, they will still have 1 prize per turn ratio, but they need to draw into Pokemon Catcher every time to do it, and you never lose your energy off of KOed Darkrai. In this situation you'd benefit greatly, and that is without even putting Hydreigon into play.

    Add Deino/Level Balls to the build and maximize Rare Candy if you insist on having Hydreigon issues.
  17. DL24

    DL24 New Member

    Very nice article Austin lol. Hope to see more fruitful insight from u in the future! Hydreigon seems to be here to stay, at least for now.
  18. Chompy

    Chompy New Member

    I find that its better that you run all 3 Dark Deinos, mainly for consistency purposes of being able to Dark Patch, and so that Rayquaza doesn't OHKO them.

    The decks I would love to see more of under the matchup sections are Ho-Oh ex. Empoleon, and Bouffalant/Terrakion/Mewtwo ex

    Having 4 Dark Patch is definitly a must, in my opinion, so you can get some type of acceleration going, especially when your opening up with Deino with an energy and you can dark patch to Sableye (if you had Darkrai in play on turn 1).
  19. fluttercraft

    fluttercraft New Member

    ive been running a ray/eel deck lately. give more thought to fighting a ray/eel deck. i have several friends at my local club runnin dark/hydredgion decks and its ether they draw 6 prizes and i draw 2 or 3, or i flat out win. with them drawing 0-2
  20. ssjoddish

    ssjoddish New Member

    If you can get a hydreigon out at a decent time this is almost an auto win sayin that you one shot terrakions with heydreigon and u have max potions so they cant ever really get enough to kill you. One thing i learned that messes up up is one of them with garbador. VERY HARD MATCHUP

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