The year is 2012 and a new set is released. Darkrai EX is the card on everyone’s mind as it takes the win at several National Championships, as well as being featured in 5 of the top 8 decks at the US National Championships, and finally being played as a mirror match in the finals of Worlds.
Skip ahead to 2016 and a new Darkrai EX is released. It is being massively hyped before release and speculated as a potential BDIF up until the next set. State Championships close in and… There are no Darkrai EX decks in any Top 8 of week 1. How is this possible? Although featured as a one-off in several YZG lists it never prevailed as a main attacker. Today I will try to convince you that Darkrai is the preferred EX attacker in this format.
If we look past the US and instead focus on Europe, Darkrai had quite some success in Standard. I went a whopping 13-1-3 with it as the main attacker between two Regionals for a back-to-back first place finish. My friend Magnus Helle Kalland piloted a similar deck to a win during these weeks as well.
So what makes Darkrai viable? If we compare the attacks of Yveltal EX and Darkrai EX we can see that their first attacks are quite similar, hitting for 20+20 for each energy attached to either the active Pokémon or your entire field. Darkrai’s Dark Head seems fairly weak compared to the almighty Y cyclone but it’s decent if you can put your opponent to sleep. In my opinion, three things make Dark Pulse outclass Evil Ball.
Firstly, it on requires a single DCE attachment, meaning that you can power it up quite easily if your previous attacker is knocked out, or on the first turn. Dark Pulse is also a lot easier to power up with the help of Max Elixir. Sure, a regular YZG build should be able to have a Zoroark out pretty early, but it also requires a Float Stone, as well as the fact that it can get shut off by things like Hex Maniac, making it a less reliable option. Since Dark Pulse counts the energy on the bench you can sometimes use it for 80 or even 100 damage on the first turn, setting up for a nice early two-hit-KO on an opposing Pokémon EX. Last, but not least, when your opponent knocks out your beloved nightmare Pokémon, you get to keep the energy in play. Imagine always having all energy you have on the field on an Yveltal EX. This means you can constantly stream high-hitting Dark pulses, even if your attacker gets knocked out.
But enough about the attacks – let’s take a look at another benefit of running Darkrai over Yveltal: its stats. Not only is Darkrai’s HP buffed up by 10 compared to Yveltal, which by itself is pretty relevant with FFB replacing Muscle Band in most decks (how about an extra Night Marcher in the discard against the current BDIF?), but its weakness is a lot better in today’s meta. Let’s face it, Fighting decks are basically non-existent whilst M Manectric is sitting on a nice 4th place of most successful decks from week 1 of states. Although Yveltal has a pretty nice Fighting resistance to cover the weakness of Darkrai, the Psychic resistance that Darkrai has is a pretty big deal when Night March is the most successful deck out there at the moment. Even without it, M Mewtwo and Trevenant have made some appearances in the top spots for States so far.
So let’s go over some sample lists shall we?