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A Dark Day in Madison

Cody Michael Graham Darkrai Shaymin Yveltal

It was a Dark Day in Madison

Expanded has been largely dominated by Dark all season; there was no reason to expect anything else coming into Spring Regionals. However, in addition to the popular variant including Yveltal EX with Maxie’s, a Turbo Dark option seemed to be a lot of people’s preferred tool of destruction. In this article, I would like to first go through my personal list and explain card choices, and then go through my matches and determine what went right and what went wrong.

Pokemon (11)
2x Darkrai EX from DEX 63/108
2x Darkrai EX from BKP 74/122
1x Yveltal EX from XY 79/146
1x Yveltal (baby) from XY 78/146
1x Yveltal (Fright Night) from BKT 94/162
1x Keldeo EX from BCR 49/149
1x Hoopa EX from AOR 36/98
2x Shaymin EX from ROS 77/108

Energy (11)
11x Dark

Trainers (38)
2x Reverse Valley
4x Juniper
2x N
1x AZ
1x Lysander
1x Delinquent
4x VS Seeker
4x Ultra Ball
4x Trainer Mail
4x Max Elixir
4x Dark Patch
3x Fighting Fury Belt
2x Battle Compressor
1x Tool Scrapper
1x Dowsing Machine

Taking a look at the Pokemon first, some of their inclusion should seem pretty obvious. Darkrai from BKP is usually your main attacker - it’s got an attack called “Dark Pulse” which does 20 plus 20 more for each Dark Energy you have on the field, all for just two colorless (in this particular build will always be two dark). So, looking at that math, with 180 being a big magic number to hit, we can take 180 (very common HP of popular EX Pokemon) minus 20 (base Damage on Dark Pulse) leaves you at 160, divided by 20 (to give you the number of Dark energy you need attached on your field) is just eight. Now that might sound like a lot, but later in this article, you will see why having eight energy attached is not asking very much out of this deck.

Let’s not forget the other extremely powerful attackers we have: Darkrai EX from DEX and Yvetlal EX from XY. Darkrai EX, for two dark and a colorless, does 90 damage to the active and hits the bench for 30 - this attack is amazing against Night March, Trevenant BREAK, and any other deck that plays low HP Pokemon onto the bench. Yveltal EX has two very strong attacks also - Evil Ball, for a dark and a colorless, does 20 damage plus 20 more damage for each energy attached to both active Pokemon; and Y Cyclone for a dark and two colorless does 90 and moves an energy from Yveltal EX to the bench. This is a great way to preserve energy for a Dark Pulse later in the game.

The non-EX attackers: Baby Yveltal, from XY and Fright Night Yveltal from BKT also play a pivotal role in this deck, as you WANT one of them to get KOd every game. You might notice that this deck is very EX heavy, and as you probably know, when an EX is KOd, it gives up two prize cards. Well, letting one of these non-EXs get KOd means that your opponent will effectively have to take seven prize cards against you, since they will still have to take down three big EX Pokemon. These Pokemon have different utility, and you choose which one to play down given your situation. The one I was choosing most often was Fright Night Yveltal. Fright Night Yvetlal has a pretty strong attack for one dark and two colorless, which does 60 to the active and 60 to a benched EX. This means that you can poke for a two-hit-KO on a benched Shaymin EX, which is a very sticky situation to put your opponent into. More importantly, Fright Night Yveltal has an ability - “Fright Night” - which makes it so that no Pokemon Tools in play have any effect as long as he is active. Well, a common strategy in Expanded is to use Keldeo EX with a Float Stone as your means of switching Pokemon around. With Yveltal in the active spot, you can trap a Keldeo EX in your opponent’s active spot and force your opponent to waste a DCE to retreat Keldeo EX or find a different means of moving it (Super Scoop Up, AZ, Cassius, etc), all while hitting for 60 and 60 more to a benched EX.

The utility cards added consistency and draw power: Hoopa EX, Keldeo EX and two copies of Shaymin EX. Playing Hoopa from your hand allows you to search your deck for three Pokemon EX. That should seem like a no-brainer to keep in the deck. Ultra Ball for Hoopa EX to set up your whole board. Depending on your starter, your ideal first turn would end with you having both Darkrai, Keldeo, and one of the non-EXs down. Again, Keldeo EX, we just mentioned him and how he was susceptible to being trapped by a Fright Night Yvetlal. Well, you might notice that this deck doesn’t play any Float Stones - how do we retreat Keldeo EX? Darkrai from DEX has an ability called “Dark Cloak” that makes it so that any Pokemon with a Dark Energy attached has free retreat. So Keldeo with a Dark Energy means that you can move around your board however you wish, provided you are not under any ability locks. Lastly, Shaymin EX is a backbone to a lot of decks - not because of its attack, but because of its ability. When you play Shaymin EX from your hand, you draw cards until you have six cards in your hand. With this list pretty light on draw supporters, you rely on drawing with Shaymin nearly every game.

The Trainer cards might seem very straight forward, but it was a hard choice deciding what to keep and what to drop. The deck thrives on raw consistency, and that means you draw a lot of cards. A full count of Professor Juniper was mandatory. I decided to keep the N count at two, as there are quite a few cards in the deck that you do not care to throw away, so being able to mix them back into the deck was very nice. The niche supporters are really the gravy-on-top, so to speak. AZ, Lysander and Delinquent. AZ has great utility, but I kept it in chiefly as prize-denial - pick up a heavily damaged EX to avoid losing two prizes on it. Lysandre was on the brink of being put up to two, but due to space it was kept at one - drag up that problem Pokemon on the bench and get the KO you need to improve your game-state. Delinquent is the most unsuspected card in the deck - when after your second turn, you have 8+ energy attached, people stretch thin trying to keep up. Sometimes they stretch so thin, in fact, that they leave nothing but a draw supporter in their hand for the next turn. Playing Delinquent to put your opponent’s hand size to ZERO and forcing them to rely on top-decking something is the best feeling in Pokemon. The stadium of choice went back and forth from being Virbank City Gym to allow maximum use of Hypnotic Laser and Reverse Valley to allow Night Spear to one-hit-KO Shaymin EX. Ultimately, in an effort to conserve space, I elected to play Reverse Valley. I even ended up dropping Lasers entirely to free up space for more consistency cards.

The Item engine of this deck is insane. We have already touched on a few, but their synergy is just crazy. VS Seeker is paramount with the low amount of Supporter cards you play. Dumping Supporters early with Battle Compressors ensures you’ll have access to exactly the supporter you need any given turn in the future. One Ultra Ball can set up your whole board by grabbing Hoopa EX. Trainer Mail is such a great card in this deck, as it can thin out your deck to improve your odds on Max Elixir. Fighting Fury Belt makes your Darkrai EX a 220 HP Basic Pokemon. Scrapper removes annoying tools like Head Ringers, as well as tools that are useful for your opponent, like Spirit Links, Fighting Fury Belts, and Float Stones. Dowsing Machine just lets you use any of these items over again.


My games throughout the day were really interesting. Before Round 1 started, I told Danny that I hoped I didn’t get paired against that random Fighting.Dec that we all knew would be hanging around somewhere.

Round 1: Fighting.Dec. Yup, called it. Darkrai is weak to fighting, and fighting has so much damage bumpers that it can easily make quick work of a Darkrai. Luckily, I start Fright Night Yveltal game 1 and Baby Yveltal game 2. The three Yveltals carried me this match (WW).

Round 2: Yakira Tate, Yoshi’s daughter. Playing Jolteon EX, Toad Ex, Landorus EX, Shaymin EX, Jirachi EX, Jirachi, Garb, Hawlucha, etc. Yup. all that. Yoshi and his daughter are notorious for playing the most off-the-wall decks, but the problem is that they are extremely good players and they always have an answer. To everything. First game, I just blew up and she couldn’t respond fast enough. Second game, she got Garb up early, and was one-shotting my Darkrais with Hawlucha. Game three, we were both pretty tense. She wasn’t drawing anything great, but I was setting up way too slowly. I was down to two prizes remaining when she drops Jolteon EX. I know if Jolteon EX attacks, that I have no way to win. She attaches Lightning and plays N. I don’t draw the VS Seeker to Lysandre the Jolteon EX. I KO the Hawlucha that was active. She attaches a Double Colorless and says Flash Ray. Now, I have 3 Darkrai EX with Fighting Fury Belt and a Keldeo EX and a Hoopa. So she has to attack me at least eleven times before she takes a single prize card. So I just Rush In, retreat, pass until we ended up in a tie. (WLT)

Round 3: Pokedad. I complained about this game a lot on Saturday. Pokedad snuck in a win on the first game, which took about 40 minutes to complete. Then, the second game kept the same pace. Lost in time. (L)

Round 4: Toad Bats. All I need is one turn of items to hit up to 200+. Quick game (WW)

Round 5: Trev BREAK. Even with no turn of items, attach every turn and obliterate a deck that only has attackers weak to Dark. (WW)

Round 6: Whales. I can hit 250 with Dark Pulse. Even if I don’t, I can still Dark Pulse every turn for a lot. (WW)

Round 7: Trev BREAK. This one was more interesting, since I started Hoopa EX in the second game, and never drew a supporter or another Pokemon. First and last game; however, I went first and got half a dozen energy on board both times. (WLW)

Round 8: William Boatman, playing Flareon/Bees with Wobb and Beaches. He opens Wobb in the first game, I opened with Hoopa EX. Downhill from there. Second game, he opens with Wobb again, and I have no draw supporter. I still Ultra Ball for Hoopa EX and set up my whole board, but with no abilities, I knew I would be draw/passing for a while. My plan to sit and wait never really panned out. (LL)

Round 9: Yoshi Tate, playing Zoroarks, Zebstrikas, Ninetails, Shaymin EXs. This game was stressful. Yoshi has been playing Pokemon for a very long time, and is definitely one of the best players I have ever played against. Our first game was neck and neck, eating up a lot of time, but I edged it out with nothing but Night Spears. The highest HP Pokemon in his deck is Shaymin with 110 HP. So I know that a Night Spear, with a Fury Belt, with Reverse Valley will KO anything he puts up. I also learn from the first game that his only stadium is Reverse Valley, so if I put mine down first, his stadiums are all dead cards. I get an early lead, and am down to three prizes while he still needs four. He plays N and I draw into no VS Seekers, which is all I really wanted. He seemed to get everything he needed; he KOs my Darkrai EX. At this point, time is called. Yoshi has two turns to take two prizes, while I need three. I play every card I can, which I remember included a Battle Compressor - I threw away every card that wasn’t a trainer mail or VS seeker. My deck was very thin, but that was fine at this point. I play a Trainer Mail, hit the VS Seeker, but at that moment it is like I totally forgot how to play Pokemon. I could’ve N’d Yoshi to two cards in hand, and he would’ve had to get game off of that. Instead of doing that, I Lysandre his Blitzle and take the KO with Darkness Blade. He looks at me and I knew right away he already had game in hand. I end up scooping the tie to him to get him his invite since it made no difference to me at that point. (WL, Scoop)


Bottom line, this is a very strong deck. It is fast, efficient and SUPER EFFECTIVE. It has options to help in a lot of different match ups, and above all else, it is extremely fun to play!

- Cody Michael Graham

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