Pikkdogs Reviews the Dark Deck

by Pikkdogs ~ May 14th, 2012.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there.  This is Pikkdogs here with a deck review for you.  I recently got a chance to get some testing time in with a dark deck, and I thought I would share my findings.  Before we get to sharing findings, I have a couple announcements for you.

The first is that the newest OnehitKO contest is coming to an end.  You can read everything about the contest here, but I am changing it a little.  I didn’t get a whole lot of responses to the contest, but still want to give away some tickets.  So if you want a pair of tickets, just email me at (pikkdogs@onehitko.com) and I will hook you up.  See you guys at the rock show!

The second is that we need to introduce my extra-dimensional sidekick Pedro.  Hey Pedro!

Hey Pikkdogs.  Shall we do the thing. 

Sure, but I want another this day in history.  Don’t worry if the date doesn’t make sense.

Okay.  On this day, May 14th, in 1998 the chairman of the board Frank Sinatra passed away.  Do you like the Frank Sinatra Pikkdogs?

Hate the Frank Sinatra.

What?  Sinatra is an American icon, everybody loves him.  You gotta love him.

Nope, don’t care for him.

Why not.

The man was a gangster.  At the very least he hung around people who were criminals and killed people whenever they felt like it.  Even though I like his singing, I just can’t look past the fact that he hung out with a bunch of murders.

Oh come on.  Everybody hangs around with a bad crowd.  Regis loved the Frank Sinatra, and if Regis loved somebody, he can’t be that bad. 

I guess, if Regis likes him, you just gotta like him.  Nobody can argue with Regis.

A scientific fact. 

Unless we’re talking about College Football.  Wolverines all the way baby!  The Irish suck.

Really, I’m a University of South Carolina fan.  Go Cocks!

Go Cocks indeed.

Goal of the Deck

The goal of this deck is to use the trainer cards released in the Dark Explorers set to deal damage efficiently with Dark type Pokemon.  Not many decks in Pokemon consist of only one type.  Besides Reshiphlosion and Reshiboar, not many decks have focused on one type like this one in recent history.  But, this deck primarily used Dark type Pokemon to take advantage of Dark Claw and Dark Patch.  Dark Claw is kinda like Expert Belt, it helps you do an extra 20 damage on each attack to the defending Pokemon.  Dark Patch is kind of like Eelektrik’s “Dynamotor” Ability, it lets you attack a dark energy to a dark Pokemon on your bench.  These cards make Dark Pokemon more powerful and consistent.

There are two Pokemon that are normally in this deck that can be considered the main attacker.  The first is Zoroark DE.  Zoroark has a swarming like attack that does 20 damage for each Dark Pokemon that you have in play.  That means that if you have 5 Dark Pokemon on your bench, you can do 120 damage.  This is increased to 140 with Dark Claw, and 160 with 2 Special Darkness Energies.  160 damage is nothing to sneeze at, it is really good, and it is better because it only costs CC.  There are some bad things about Zoroark though.  He has a fairly low HP, which means that your opponent will knock Zoroark out easily.  That means that you will need to put out 4 Zoroarks, and then have another attacker waiting in the wings.

In the wings is Darkrai EX.  Darkrai EX sports a great 180 HP, which means your opponent will probably need at least 2 hits to knock him out.  Darkrai has an attack that does 90 damage and snipes for 30.  With a Dark Claw and 2 Special Darkness Energies, that is increased to 130 damage to the active, and 30 for sniping.  130 may not be as good as 160, but it is still really good, especially for a Basic.  The 30 damage to the bench doesn’t really matter that much, the baby Pokemon are almost all gone, people will start playing the 40 HP Tynanmo, and almost all other low HP Pokemon will require 3 attacks for a knockout.  The bad thing about Darkrai is that you need 3 energies on him to attack.  I know that you can load energies on him faster with Dark Patch, but if you get a bad start, those Dark Patches may not be there.

Setup

Speaking of the setup,  it is  very important for this deck.  Since you have at least 2 attackers in this deck, your setup will determine the order in which you will use him.  Ideally you would want to attack first with Zoroark because all of those Dark Pokemon that fuel your attack may not be around later in the game, but it could be hard to do this since Zoroark is actually a little faster than Zoroark.  Setup is also important because this deck relies on at least 1 evolution line.  Since decks are very fast right now with Mewtwo EX dominating the format, you will need to evolve quickly before they can start controlling your field with Pokemon Catcher.

It is hard to give you a blueprint for a setup since the list is not very focused right now.  Hopefully you either start with Zorua or a benched Darkrai EX.  No matter who you start with, you should try to attack energies right away, get a Pokemon Collector, and try to get an energy in the discard pile for Dark Patch.  Your first job is to load energies on an attacker, and get ready to evolve into Zoroark and any other Stage 1 that you have.  If you are trying to attack with Zoroark you can consider using DCE to attack quickly, if you are attacking with Darkrai EX you should try to load him up with energies with Dark Patch.  You need Dark Patch with Darkrai EX because he is just too slow with his large energy requirement.  Hopefully by turn 2 you should be able to get enough energy on whatever it is you are using to attack, and you are also filling up your bench with big HP basics and evolved Pokemon.

After your setup you can just start bringing up one attacker after the other.  It doesn’t really matter which of your main attackers you are using,  just make sure you keep the damage coming.  I will give you one hint, try to use the sniping damage from Darkrai EX’s attack to setup a future OHKO instead of trying to chip away at a Pokemon that may or may not ever be active.

Tech Options

There is a consensus that this deck should have 4-4 Zoroark and 2 Darkrai EXs.  There is also a consensus that there should be at least 2 more Dark Pokemon in this deck.  The problem is answering the question, “who should take the last 2-6 spots?”.  Here are some of my favorite options

Tornadus EX and/or Tornadus

The first tech option will not help Zoroark’s attack, but they will still help the deck.  These Pokemon have fighting resistance and will help cover the weakness of the other Pokemon in this deck.  These Pokemon are almost your only line of defense against fighting decks.  Since fighting decks will be out there a lot, you will need to have a plan against them if you plan to play this deck in a tournament.  Tornadus EX sounds like a good play  in this deck.  If you expect to see a lot of fighting decks, than I would suggest running 2 EXs and 1 normal Tornadus.

Absol Prime

Absol Prime is one my current favorite dark tech in this deck.  I do not like this card because of the attack, a base damage of 70 isn’t bad for two energies, but I still don’t like the fact that you need to put a Pokmeon in the Lost Zone to attack.  In my deck I could Lost Zone 2 Tornadi, but once those are gone, this attack will interfere with Zoroarks attack.  It is also hard to get Pokemon in your hand at the right time without a good draw engine.  What Absol has going for it is that it is basic and can attack if needed.  It is really hard to evolve, so even though it is a fairly sucky card, Absol’s speed can make up for its pitfalls.

The Other Houndoom UD

There was one Houndoom Prime that was released in Undaunted, but there was another Houndoom in that set too.  The other Houndoom is not that great of  a card, but it does have an attack that could help in this deck.  For one Dark Energy, “Fire Counterattack” does 80 damage to a fighting Pokemon.  With a Special Darkness Energy and a Dark Claw you can do 110 damage,  which is enough to OHKO a Landorus.  It doesn’t help in most matchups, but with Tornadus it will all but guarantee you a win against fighting decks.  Although it does not help against decks that aren’t fighting, it is still a Dark Pokemon that can help fuel the attack of Zoroark.  Even though Houndoom could get pulled up with a Pokemon Catcher at the wrong time, you do not need to pay the retreat cost if he has an energy attached and Darkrai EX is in play.  There are bad things about Houndoom, but there are also some good things.  If you look at all the good things and bad things about the other Houndoom, I would say that he is a very good play if you are expecting a lot of fighting decks. 

Weavile UD

Probably the most popular tech in this deck is Weavile UD.  He has the “Claw Snag” Poke-Power that allows you to discard a card from your opponent’s hand upon Evolution.  This is an amazing Poke-Power, and it is really nice to have this card in your deck.  The problem is that this is not a disruption deck, it is one that tries to do a lot of damage.  And if there is one thing that Weavile does not have, that is a good attack.  In my opinion, playing Weavile UD is like putting snow tires on a Lamborghini.  Lambos are built for speed, and snow tires are for grip in bad conditions.  Although snow tires are great, it makes no sense to put them in a car that should not be driven in snowy areas in the winter.  So don’t play Weavile, it doesn’t make much sense.  The Power is nice, but you need to attack.  Absol is the play if you are going for speed and consistency, and Houndoom is the play if you are expecting fighting decks.

The Dark Bisharp

Like the other Houndoom, the Dark Bisharp was ignored until now, but it has a one energy attack that can do 80 base damage.  The catch with Bisharp is that you need at least 2 damage counters on the defending Pokemon to do the 80 damage.  If you plan ahead, you can make sure that Darkrai EX hits the right Pokemon on the bench for the 30 damage, and then you can finish that Pokemon off later with Bisharp.  It is a decent strategy if things go as planned, but in Pokemon you can never count on things going as planned.  If things do go as planned, Bisharp is probably the tech that offers the most upside, and it gives some kind of use for Darkrai’s sniping damage.  I have not tested out Bisharp yet, but it does have some good potential.

The List

Here is a list that I used to test with.  I will point out that it is not a great list of this deck because it is not yet focused.  There needs to be a better focus on what the deck does at what time, and the trainers need to be improved to make sure that happens.  But, for the sake of this article I will show you the list that I am using.

Pokemon-18

  • 4-Zorua DE
  • 4-Zoroark DE
  • 2-Tornadus EX
  • 2-Darkrai EX
  • 2-Houndoor UD
  • 2-Houndoom UD (non Prime)

Trainers

  • 3-Dark Claw
  • 4-Dark Patch
  • 4-Junk Arm
  • 3-Pokemon Catcher
  • 1-Super Rod
  • 3-Pokemon Communication
  • 4-Pokemon Collector
  • 4-Professor Oak’s New Theory
  • 4-Professor Juniper
  • 3-Sage’s Training
  • 1-Cheren

Energy-11

  • 5-Basic Dark Energy
  • 3-Special Dark Energy
  • 3-Double Colorless Energy

 

Concerns and Future of the Deck

     There are some big concerns with this deck.  It did work better than I thought it did, but my testing did show some holes in the deck.  The biggest hole in the deck is consistency.  Your first two turns almost never go the same way twice, and if you run into a supporter drought you have no way out.  If you want to make this deck really good, it has to be more focused than my build is.  You need to have the deck focused on one attacker at one time and have a strict strategy for who you use to attack.  Your deck needs to be really focused when it comes to trainers too.  You will need to try out different trainers and see what works.  Perhaps Engineer’s Adjustments or Ultra Ball would be better in this deck, you will need to try different combinations of trainers and see what works the best.

    Even though there are a lot of bad things about the deck, I do think that it has some promise.  If you can get the deck focused on one strategy, I do think that it can stand up on its own.  If you can focus the deck, it will be the only deck that does not have a glaring weakness.  With Tornadus and Houndoom in this deck, it will have no major weakness.  This could be a good deck for Spring Battle Roads and Nationals.

Matchups

     I did talk a little bit about matchups in my last paragraph, but here is a little more in depth talk.  In this section I will assume that we are talking about my list with the other Houndoom and Tornadus EX, and I will assume that the list is more polished than the one that I gave you.  So these matchups may be a little bit of wishful thinking, but it’s not too far off.

Zekrom

     I would say that this matchup is around even or slightly favoring Zekrom.  Zekrom is also a deck that has a lot of variants, so that makes it hard to get a good picture of a matchup. But, I think it should be a fairly even game.  Both decks should be about as fast as the other one, so there is no big difference there.  Zekrom can do a little more damage, but if Darkrai EX is used right, his high HP can even up the score.  Watch out for Zekrom, he can do a lot of damage to Zoroark.  In this matchup it might be nice to run Zoroark BW, but I don’t recommend running it unless you plan on running into Zekroms a lot.  Zekrom should have a very slight advantage here, but if you have a really focused deck you should be able to get some good wins against this deck.

CMT

     CMT is a very dangerous deck, it can flat out outspeed the Dark deck.  If CMT gets setup early, watchout because it can control the board with Pokemon Catcher.  But if it does not take control early, it will have to deal with the resistance of Darkness Pokemon.  The resistance on all of those Dark Pokemon do make a big difference in this matchup, just that 20 damage can make a huge difference.  If I would have to give someone an advantage, I would have to take the easy way out and call it even.  CMT can take an early advantage, but the Dark Deck can win a long game.  The game will come down to how fast you are able to rotate in attackers.  Mewtwo EX will get a lot of knock outs, so you are going to have to keep bringing in attackers that can do damage.  You don’t have anything that can OHKO Mewtwo EX, but if you keep on chipping away at the HP you should be able to get the job done.

Fighting Decks (Decks with some combination of Landorus, the Terrakions, and Groudon EX)

     If you tech against Fighting Decks like I did, you should actually have a good chance against them.  You should start out by using Tornadus to take a lot of hits and dish out some decent damage.  Then you can get the last couple knockouts with Houndoom.  If needed you can then bring in Darkrai to be your closer.  This matchup is not as easy as I may make it sound, but you should have a slight advantage in this game.  Although it may not seem that great to tech your deck so much and only get a slight advantage, you are still taking an autoloss and turning it into an advantage, and that is a great thing to do.  I do need to test this match-up a little more and polish my list, but if I can do that, this match-up shouldn’t be that bad.

Durant

     Durant may be losing a little bit of steam right now, but I don’t think it’s going to be going away anytime soon.  I know that some people think that Durant will be an amazing match-up for this Dark Deck, but I just don’t see it.  Darkrai and Tornandus just need too many energies to be effective.  So now we look at Zoroark.  Zoroark can do a lot with only one DCE, so he should be a good attacker to focus on.  Durant will try to take out your energies, but you will need to use Dark Patch to try to balance that out.  I would think that this match-up should be fairly even.  You will have a little trouble getting energies on the right Pokemon at the right time, and that will give Durant the opening that it needs.  Zoroark will need to lead the pack if you want to win this match-up, and hopefully you can keep energies on him.

Conclusion

I do like the Dark Deck now that I was able to test it a little bit, but the jury is still out on it.  There are still questions like focus and consistency that it will have to answer, but it just could be a tier 1 or 2 deck.  You just need to polish the list and make it more focused, than maybe you can answer the many questions of the Dark Deck.

Well Pedro, we are all done.  Why don’t you end this with a news story?

Alright, I’m ready.  In my, I mean our, last article I talked about the tanning mom who is accused of putting her child in a tanning machine.  Now we have another award winning mom.  There is a mom in New Jersey who was recently arrested for Prostitution.  The kicker is that she is a stripper and hooker by night, but a hot dog salesman by day. 

So you can visit her and she will handle your wiener, and then you can come back for a hot dog.  

Good one.  I do not really like this woman, but I do like the principle of combining food and sex. 

Kind of like George Costanza in that Seinfeld episode where he ate food in bed.  I always thought I was the George of our group.

Okay, you are George and I can be Kramer.  Who’s Jerry?

I guess we gotta give that to Ed, he is the creator of the site.

Then can we get an Elaine?

Of course not, this is a Pokemon site, there are no girls here.

Than why are we still here? 

Good point, I think it is time to get to where the  girls are.  Good night everybody.

Category: Deck Discussion | Tags: , , ,
  • in the decklist you have “Poochyena Ul” followed by houndoom. you have no mightyena and no houndour. do you mean for poochyena to be houndour?

    • Anonymous

      I think that’s because Pikk has Mightyena on the brain. Go back in the archive a year, and you’ll find he wrote about Mightyena counters to SP like, once a week.

  • Ed

    I ain’t no Cosmo!

    So, Houndoom.  I don’t see it.  The only way I think it’s good is if you expect to see decks that have a single benched fighting Pokemon.  If they play active fighting attackers, with a 2X fighting weakness, Houndoom can’t last more than 1 hit.  He’ll come up, do 80 damage (or maybe more with powerups), and then die.  Doesn’t that suck for a Stage 1?

    • Anonymous

      Actually, with Dark Claw and a Special Dark, it OHKOes non-Eviolited Landorus and for 2 PlusPowers plus that he OHKOes Terrakion.

      • Ed

        Since when did Terrakion or Landorus worry about a OHKO if they could return the favor so easily?

        On another topic, I just packed up something to mail out for you.

        • Anonymous

          True. Very true. But the goal of that matchup is to get KOes, because there’s no way to deny them, even if you have 4 Defender.

    • Anonymous

      He will supplement Tornadus.  With Tornadus that might be enough. 

  • honestly, i think the article title should be changed to something mentioning “zoroark toolbox” as it is commonly known. when i see “dark deck” i think “dark.dec” aka “darkrai.deck”. let me know if others think this way.

  • Anonymous

    Derp… that Houndoom is from UD.

    Derp… Houndoom evolves from Houndour, not Poochyena. There isn’t even a legal Poochyena.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Coolestman, and Balasar, for picking up on those things.  Must have been drunk when writing. 

  • CountZero

    Just pointing out that Weavile UD’s Feint Attack does 30 to any pokemon and ignores Eviolite.  

    FWIW, I ran a 2 BW/2 DEX Zoroark’s this past weekend at BRs and I found the BW ones were more feared – I OHKO’d 2 Mewtwo Ex.  If you don’t get that 5 or 6 dark guys set-up by round 2 or if your opponent starts with a big basic, Foul Play is awesome.