James H. v.s. Pikkdogs: Are Dark Decks the Future?

by James Hall ~ May 25th, 2012.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there.  This is Pikkdogs here ready to debate James H.

Hi Pikkdogs!

The topic for this article is: “Are Dark Decks the Future?”  Dark Explorers has a lot of cool Dark Pokemon, and a lot of trainers that can be used with Dark Pokemon.  Some have speculated that dark decks may be the direction that this game is headed to.  Will Dark decks soon be everywhere?  Will they haunt the top tables?  These are the questions we will be asking today.  I am ready to take the affirmative and James is ready to take the negative.  This article has been going back and forth for a while between James and I.  We both had reasons to delay this article for  a couple weeks, so that’s why it is not very timely.  It would have been better to publish it a couple weeks ago, but I guess if you want quality you are looking in the wrong place.  So as to not delay this thing any longer, let’s get this debate going.

You Will Surrender to the Dark Side!

There is no doubt that dark decks are the future of the game, at least for spring Battle Roads.  I will make a few main points during my argument.  I will start by arguing that the supporting trainers that Dark Pokémon have from Dark Explorers make up something that is like an engine that will propel them to victory just like the SP Engine propelled SP decks.  My next point is that there are a lot of versatile attackers out there that can attack for a lot of damage early on in the game because of Special Energies.  Next, I will mention how most of them have a psychic resistance.  Then, I will close by talking about the return of Weavile UD and disruption decks.

Bulbapedia.com defines an engine as several cards that work well together that cause a deck to run smoothly and quickly.  While I do not want to argue the definition of “smoothly” and “quickly”, I can tell you that Dark Patch is quite smooth and quick.  It lets you attach a basic Dark Energy from your discard pile to a benched Pokémon.  This aids in both setup and recovery.  Now with 1 Dark Patch and 1 Junk Arm, or 2 Dark Patches, you can load up a Pokémon in one turn.  That means you could be doing up to 140 damage with a card like Darkrai EX with the help of other cards like Special Dark Energy and Dark Claw.  This 140 damage on one turn is not at all unlikely with the help of cards like Professor Juniper, Smeargle, and Skyarrow Bridge.  We have great draw supporters right now, and with Dark Patch, they can help get a lot of energy on the field quickly.

Some may question if Dark Patch and Dark Claw can be considered an engine.  I will admit that they do not have the bulk of the Holon or SP engines. But, as I tell my girlfriend just because an engine is small does not mean that it cannot get the job done.  It’s not about the size of the boat on the sea, it’s the motion of the ocean.

Whoa whoa whoa, when did you get a girlfriend?  How come I haven’t met her yet?  I thought we were friends!

Hey let’s not dote on my love life, or lack of one.  As I was saying, we have great trainers in the format right now, dark decks can incorporate those cards into their decks while still using Dark Patch and Dark Claw.  These two groups will come together to be more than just the sum of their parts.  It will make up an engine that will strike quickly for a lot of damage.  With cards like Professor Juniper and Junk Arm around, the Dark Engine will not want for anything else.

One last thing before I make my next point.  How great is Dark Claw?  It’s like half of an Expert Belt without any of the draw back.  Expert Belt was a great card that turned regular Pokemon into pseudo EX Pokemon.  Dark Pokemon now get the ability to hit for 20 more damage per turn without having to worry about giving up an extra prize card.   20 more damage can meet a big difference; it can be the difference between a 2HKO or an OHKO, and a 2HKO on an EX and a 3HKO on an EX.  And, getting timely KOs will go a long way to deciding the game for you. 

My next point is that there is a lot of good Darkness Pokémon out there that can use the Dark Engine.  The one that everyone is talking about the most right now is Darkrai EX.  Darkrai EX is an 180 HP basic, that is the best in the format right now.  It has the “Dark Cloak” ability which lets any Pokémon with darkness energy attached to it retreat for free.  This nullifies a lot of the situations when your opponent uses Pokemon Catcher.  Being able to retreat for free lets you stop all most all stalling techniques that your opponent might try to use.  It may not be the best Ability ever, but it will no doubt be an Ability that will come in handy.  Darkrai has one attack, “Night Spear.”  Although it sounds like a 80s movie with Kevin Bacon, it is actually a good attack.  For DDC, you can do 90 damage and snipe for 30.  First let’s talk about the sniping.  Just the sniping alone will kill any babies or free retreat Tynamos that your opponents use.  It will also 2HKO OR 3HKO most basics and stage 1s in the format.  Now for the 90.  This can be improved by Special Darkness Energy and Dark Claw.  It is likely that you will be doing a conservative average estimate of 120 damage a turn.  That is enough to get you in OHKO range of most Stage 1s and 2s.  It also gets you a guaranteed 2HKO on an EX, even if there is an Eviolite involved.  The attack is also fairly fast, with Dark Patch, you can load it up in one turn, which means it has the potential to be a Donk Deck.  The possibilities look good for Darkrai EX.

There are also 2 Zoroarks in the format that are really good.  The first one was released in Black and White and has seen a lot of play since.  It lets you copy the attack of the defending Pokémon, which is perfect if you are going against decks like Zekrom and Reshiphlosion.  The second Zoroark was just released in Dark Explorers, and has an attack that only costs CC.  That attack does 20 damage times the number of Dark Pokemon that you have in play.  This works really well for this format since you do not have bench sitters like Claydol, Uxie, and Cleffa that would hurt this attack.  It is very possible that you can have a full bench of Dark Pokémon and do 120 damage before the addition of Dark Claw and Special Darkness Energy. 

There are also a myriad of other Dark Pokémon that could work with the dark engine.  Some of those Pokemon include Houndoom UD (to cover the weakness), Sharpedo, Darkrai/Cresselia Legend, Mandibuzz BLW (great chemistry with Darkrai EX), and some of the stage 2’s like Tyranitar Prime and Hydreigon.  Not all of these Pokemon might work in one deck, but they do provide you some great options in a deck that uses the dark engine.

My next point involves Dark Pokemon having psychic resistance.  While not all Dark Pokemon do, the vast majority do have the psychic resistance.  This is very important in a Mewtwo EX dominated format.  Just that 20 damage can be the difference between a knock out, and the ability to hang around for one more turn and do some damage.  It will make it that much harder for Mewtwo EX to take over the game.  This makes Dark Decks the perfect counter to the current format.  Only by joning the Dark Side can you save yourself from Mewtwo.  It has the resistance that we need to go against Mewtwo EX, and to stop it from controlling the board very early.

My final point has to do with the return of Weavile UD.  Since people will be playing more dark decks, it will be easier to splash in disruption cards like Weavile.  I could see disruption decks making a comeback because of the energy acceleration that Dark Patch gives you.  Darkrai EX will also give Weavile free retreat, which will make the deck work a lot better.


Let’s shed some light on the subject

            Everything Pikkdogs has stated has merit, nothing stated above is false or misleading. 

Are you sure?  I seem to specialize in false and misleading information.

True, I meant more on the Dark Type cards, but anywho…

I just don’t feel that Dark Decks are the future; I feel that they are actually going to be viable in the format.  My argument against Pikkdogs is that there are too many other Pokémon and pre-existing staple decks that will be able to outspeed or outclass Dark Decks.

            First, I feel that Dark Decks will be the new Reshiphlosion after rotation.  Reshiphlosion was a good option for people to play because it had a semi fast, hard hitting Pokemon and engine available.  It was also weak to Water which did not have a large showing in tournaments.  Now what is the majority of Dark Pokemon weak to?  Fighting.  The others? Electric.  Let me expand on that.

            I don’t think you should be taking jabs at Reshiphlosion, Airhawk might read this and swoop down on ya.

            Well honestly I wasn’t meaning it in a negative way.  Two of my league mates, Jake Kart and Tim Bajema have been running Reshiphlosion for a very long time.  I meant this as, after rotation people who were used to Reshi have a chance to go to something other than an Eels based deck.  Also, Airhawk may swoop down but he won’t be able to carry me off as I am quite large, kind of like you Pikkdogs.

Ahhh, a fat joke.  Now it’s getting personal.  Well, your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Better than dingleberries!

            Back to the task at hand, we now have some major hitters when it comes to Fighting.  Groudon EX and Terrakion are the top Fighting type hard hitters.  With QuadTerrakion and QuadGroudon decks on the rise in popularity, it can give the dark side a bit of a problem.  Terrakion can revenge OHKO a Darkrai EX unless it is Eviolited.  Having an eviolite on Darkrai would be very unusual as Pikkdogs stated above that they will attach Dark Claw.  Groudon EX can decimate Darkrai and the bench too with rather fast attachments.  Now I believe, I could be wrong, that the only other weakness that dark types have is Electric.  We all know about Eels and how they can already go toe-to-toe with CM decks.  Darkrai’s ability is nullified with Raikou EX, where you can hit the bench and snipe around high HP EXs.  Electric also hinders Dark by having the same weakness.  With Eel decks being popular, some will naturally play the weakness.  That hurts.

            OK, moving on to Mewtwo.  Yes, the majority of Dark Pokémon are resistant to Psychic.  BUT, to utilize Darkrai’s ability you have to attach energy so that nullifies the weakness.  Yes attaching an Eviolite to a Dark Basic would up the resistance, but again with Dark Claw out, who is going to attach an Eviolite?  Now do I believe that CM or CMT variants will be as strong? No.  I personally give it a 50/50 matchup as to whoever goes first and/or gets setup first.

            Lastly, let me address Weavile UD.  Now in this format you either need to go ultra-consistent or ultra-techy.  Trying to meet somewhere in the middle will destroy each goal.  The goal of Weavile UD is to pair up with the Supporter Holligans to disrupt your opponent.  Between the amount of hand refreshers and tool cards to pull from the discard, I do not believe that it is a big enough threat.  I also think trying to tech him into a more aggressive build would produce subpar results.  I state that with theorymon in mind.

            All in all I believe that Dark Decks will now be viable in competitive play but the timing is bad with Electric based decks being as strong as they are now and sharing the same weakness.

Now you have heard both sides.  What do you think.  Are Dark decks really Tier 1?  Please let us know what you are thinking by leaving your thoughts in the comment box.

Category: James H. vs Pikkdogs | Tags:
  • Anonymous

    Zoroark decks are Tier One. Zoroark is a really good, fast hitter that starting T2 can proceed to sweep your opponent. You don’t miss it much with Ascension, and about 90% of the time you can be hitting for at least 100 turn two.

    Darkrai decks are good, but I think that Zoroark would make them so much better. I don’t see how one can Dark Patch thrice on Turn 1 to start rolling earlier than Zoroark, it seems extremely hard to get 3 Darks discarded. And you lose to Fighting decks, because even if yu play Tornadus-EX it doesn’t fit your engine. You can’t Dark Patch, Dark Claw, or boost damage with Special Darks using Tornadus-EX. Even if you play energy moving, you have to play a Dark pokmon for that to work, which the Fighting player will Catcher up.

    • Micah Tate

      I do agree about Zoroark being a hoss, but Darkrai rush only needs 2 Dark patches/dark patch junk arm to work T1, not 3; and with ultra ball, juniper, and junk arm around, getting 2 energy discarded isn’t that hard (although drawing into dark patch will be luck of the draw). Also, with Tornadus EX being a 3HKO at best against fighting decks, you don’t need any acceleration from dark patch/shaymin, one energy per turn is sufficient, especially when you’re hitting DCE.

      That aside, I believe that Dark decks, whether or not they include Zoroark, will easily be considered Tier 1 soon. Perhaps it won’t show in the first 2 or 3 weeks of BR’s, but they’ll earn their place soon enough.

      • Anonymous

        Unless you start with free retreat, you need 3.

        • Micah Tate

          Or Smeargle/Skyarrow, which is what I have seen most versions utilize.

          • Anonymous

            But that means you also need the Skyarrow, and your opponent might not have a Supporter you can use.

          • Micah Tate

            Getting a skyarrow or switch T1 isn’t that hard when you’re going through around 20 cards; if your opponent doesn’t have access to a supporter than you can setup a turn late and still be in a better spot then them, but most decks will start with at least 1 draw supporter in hand.

          • Anonymous

            True, but there’s no telling if that one draw supporter will be a Random Reciever.

          • Micah Tate

            This is all massive theorymon Vs. actual results; Zoroark has not proven to be competitive yet while Darkrai sans Zoroark can be considered a Tier 1 deck.

  • dark decks won’t be the new reshiphlosion… exadrill will.

  • My opinion is that Zoroark, along with Empoleon, is the new Jumpluff deck.  Also, I do not feel we have a definite Tier 1 deck.  If we do it would be an Eels deck.  Majority of what is winning is Tier 1.25.  that opinion is based off of how LuxChomp was Tier 1 as it won the vast majority in the previous format.  The only decks that come close to that now are Eels.