“What the Hex?” – Standard Darkrai Yveltal Deck List & Explanation

Hey friends, Phinn again. I did not have the pleasure of attending Dallas Regionals. Instead, I get to stay home and build deck lists for my friends who are competing. I just happened to come up with a deck earlier this week that turned out to be really strong. I have been too excited about it to keep it to myself, so I decided I would release this article early, along with the list.

The deck is Darkrai – not a completely revolutionary concept. The interesting part about this deck is just how streamlined it is. In Expanded, Turbo Dark has been seen somewhat often, however nobody plays it in Standard unless it’s with the help of Giratina. I created this deck to avoid the issue of Enhanced Hammer being an inclusion in most decks. Giratina doesn’t work towards that goal, so I didn’t want to play it.

The mentality when building this deck was to essentially build Yveltal, but with none of the weaknesses that Yveltal has. All of the electric-type attackers that can be teched against Yveltal will not harm Darkrai.

Darkrai has a great amount of room to work with because of its straightforward strategy. It has been thinned down to just consistency with a couple cards that might be seen as techs for Greninja and Volcanion, but those cards also have much more utility than that.

My list has a lot about it that people won’t understand, so first I’ll cover that. Then I want to cover the general strategies, and how to play each matchup. Then, the other card inclusions that could be put in. Then, the cards that I have tried that do NOT work. Finally, I have an alternative beta list that takes a slightly different approach.

This article should quite literally give you everything you need to know about the deck. At least, everything I currently know about the deck.

Here is the current list:

Pokémon – 10 Trainers – 38 Energy – 12
4 Darkrai EX BKP 4 Professor Sycamore 4 VS Seeker 12 Darkness
3 Yveltal XY 3 N 4 Ultra Ball
3 Shaymin EX ROS 2 Lysandre 4 Max Elixir
2 Hex Maniac 3 Trainers’ Mail
1 Pokemon Center Lady 3 Fighting Fury Belt
2 Escape Rope
1 Switch
1 Super Rod
1 Exp Share
1 Float Stone
2 Reverse Valley

List explanation


The Pokemon lineup is very reminiscent of Jason K’s 2013 World’s list, including four Darkrai and three little guys to help out. The only attacker is Darkrai, so I think four is warranted. You do have Super Rod, however it’s quite nice to have more Darkrai than you think you will need, just in case one gets some early damage on it, or if you prize one. It helps ensure that you will get the Darkrai when you need it and prizing won’t be an issue. It goes back to the philosophy I covered in my last article: Andrew Estrada’s deck list from 2014 also played four Genesect. Worlds lists have a history of playing more copies of an attacker if it’s the focus of the deck.

You can also look at this deck like a dark version of Volcanion. It functions similarly, yet less affected by Hex Maniac and Garbodor. It maintains a better late-game than Volcanion because of cards like Exp Share, and the general nature of the build. The Pokemon lineup is similar to Volcanion’s, but with another Shaymin for a more explosive start.

I play three Shaymin because I try to use two Set Up almost every game. I don’t want to have a reason to prevent myself from using Set Up twice; the third copy just makes the deck more consistent. If I were only playing two copies, I can imagine that much of the time I would prize one and not be able to go as deep as I need to. With three, you can also hold one more until late game to make sure that an N to one or two won’t be as annoying. I think three Shaymin should be the “standard(!)” in most Standard decks. With the drop in consistency cards from rotation, everything needs a little more to make sure you get what you need, and when you need it.

You want to start every game by using Oblivion Wing, so three copies of Baby Yveltal is very warranted, especially since it’s annoying to have to use one of the four switching cards to bring baby Yveltal up from the bench. In fact, you want to Oblivion Wing for your first three turns most of the time. Every Ultra Ball that is used to search out Yveltal or Darkrai, is an Ultra Ball that is not being used to search out Shaymin. This is a big part of why the deck is so consistent, and why I play the Pokemon lineup that I have.

I decided to go with two Reverse Valley simply because ten extra damage is nice for some specific math against Vespiquen and Volcanion. I have considered Silent Lab, but it goes against the strategy of the deck, which is to go in deep whenever you need to. Lab is sort of a defensive card, and I don’t really need defensive cards in this deck, aside from Pokemon Center Lady.

Another option would be Parallel City, but I think it would clunk up my hands when I’m trying to Set Up. Too often my opponent will play their own Parallel and then I’m stuck with a dead card until I hit Delinquent. It’s just not a smooth stadium; it creates lumps in the strategy that I’m trying to accomplish.

The utility behind Reverse Valley is to hit even numbers against Volcanion EX. Darkrai will almost always have a Fighting Fury Belt on it, which puts you at odd math. You can play the Reverse Valley to hit 220 instead of 210. It can also help a little bit in the Vespiquen matchup so that you can Oblivion Wing a Combee for knock out, or two-shot Vespiquen (if you put Fury Belt on Yveltal). It’s really just a solid stadium that will never hurt you. The other Stadium options have potential to mess up the deck’s strategy; I tend to avoid anything but bread-and-butter with this list. Although, there is Sky Field…. but I’ll cover that option later.  As you’ll see, that option really creates a new list on its own.

Four Sycamore is obvious. I don’t think I need to explain that one, but just in case: this deck likes to play Sycamore on turn one of almost every game. I think in some other decks, namely Yveltal Garb, N is really important. This deck just uses Sycamore most the time and uses N when it has to. Three N is just there as an extra consistency cushion. You might be surprised how much you need the cushion, actually. I wouldn’t go down to two copies.

I actually had three Lysandre in this list and I could be convinced to go back to it. Two Lysandre is decent, while one is definitely not alright (in any deck). Bursting Balloon can be a bit of a problem, so you need to make sure Lysandre is an option when it is needed.

Pokemon Center Lady is just fantastic right now. In this format, two-shotting is common. With PCL, you can turn that into a three-shot, which is enough to bring you back on top of a trade. You put a decent amount of investment into Darkrai because a big part of the deck’s strategy requires you not to let them die quickly. If you can keep that Darkrai alive for one more turn, it will win games. The thing that I don’t like about Dark Pulse-based decks is that your opponent often gains a ton just by knocking out the right Pokemon. They gain prizes while lowering your damage output. This is exactly why you need to slow the knock-outs down with PCL.

Hex is great against all of this deck’s more iffy matchups. Vespiquen’s whole strategy is put on pause by Hex. Their four Klefki, four Unown, and four Shaymin don’t do them any good for a turn. A good amount of the time, all you need is one more turn to set your own board up. Because you can Dark Pulse for knock out so early in the game, you have room to Hex more of the time than you normally would. Meanwhile, Volcanion won’t be OHKO’ing anything important if you Hex them. Let them take the Shaymin off your bench – it doesn’t really matter if they take those two prizes. A couple well-timed Hexes in that matchup will make it an easy win. Finally, Greninja is the hardest matchup of the three. With one Hex, you lose if you prize it. I am still considering a third copy just because Greninja is the hardest matchup and this deck works really well with Hex. Plus, any time you go first, playing Hex on turn one can be amazing. It is a great, underrated card to have if you ever find yourself in a position where you do not have a draw card. It is a very strong card, and I think more people should consider a second copy in many decks if they are not playing Garbodor.

The item lineup is probably the most standard part of the deck.

Three Trainer’s Mail is common in many decks. I found that Mails were really strong in the Greninja matchup because they make sure you can hit the Escape Ropes or Hex Maniac at the right time.

Two Ropes are very helpful against Bursting Balloon, and occasionally can push your opponent into really bad positions if they aren’t ready for it. I like it in this deck because your opponent will have an active Pokemon (such like Baby Volcanion, Talonflame, or Unown) that can take some hits in the early game from Baby Yveltal. With Rope, you make sure you can dent the Pokemon that actually matter. Setting up damage against EXs before they Mega Evolve can be huge, but Rope make it much easier. Also, it is not only a switching card, but a pseudo Lysandre. For all these reasons, I might even consider a third copy.

The Switch is just so that you can demote, but keep your opponent’s Active Pokemon active. I hate having to Rope just to make it so my opponent can avoid damaging the important target. Switch is nice just to make sure that doesn’t happen. In general, a high switch-card count is important in this deck because you should never retreat by discarding energy. Dark Pulse does 40 less damage every time you retreat.

Four Ultra Ball and four Elixir need no explanation. This deck thrives on both cards, even more so than other decks that play them. I would certainly play six copies of each if it was allowed.

The one Float Stone is just there so that you can send up a Pokemon with free retreat. I find myself putting it on Shaymin or baby Yveltal usually. I like to reserve Fury Belt or Exp Share for Darkrai. It is nice to be able to Escape Rope into something with free retreat.

Super Rod is not amazing in the deck, but it still puts back energy so that my Elixir odds are better. It can also put Shaymin back in for late game N’s too, but most of the purpose is just to increase Elixir odds. I wouldn’t mind dropping it for another Dark energy, and I just might.

Everyone that saw this list complained that thirteen Dark were too many. I needed a cut to find room for Trainer’s Mail so I figured I would give it a shot. I actually want a whopping fourteen Dark in the deck, and I won’t be satisfied until I make that happen. This deck’s entire strategy revolves around getting Darkness in play, so Elixir hits are very important. I think people forget that Darkrai Giratina plays fourteen energy too, it’s just four of them are Double Dragons. So really, twelve is a pretty light count in my opinion. I think I will find a way to get back up to thirteen somehow.

A really high energy count is nice because you should never miss an attachment. On turns when you play Hex or Lysandre, you want to continue to build your board presence. With a lower energy count, that becomes much harder.

Your first three turns are going to be using Oblivion Wing a lot of the time. To get three Dark in your discard consistently without Battle Compressor, you need a high Dark count. You shouldn’t worry that you will whiff a Dark off of a Sycamore.

Overall, twelve Dark is not enough. I think the only reason why people think thirteen or fourteen is overkill is because they don’t fully understand how the deck works. Once you start actually playing the deck, you see why a higher count is strong.

Deck Strategy

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