Hey everybody! My name is Charlie Lockyer, and this is my first article for Cut or Tap. I’m a player from New Jersey/Maryland that recently aged up to Masters. Outside of Pokemon I am on my school’s robotics team, and I play lacrosse. Today I am going to talk about three different Standard decks, one of which is an established archetype, another is a new concept my friends and I recently came up with, and the third is a completely untested idea that popped into my head after looking over the Melbourne results. I hope you enjoy!
- Post-Australia Thoughts
- Three Standard Decks (Consistent/Proven, Versatile, Untested)
- Turbo Darkrai
- Consistency Card Analysis
- How the Deck Works
- Matchup Analysis
- Aerodactyl/Wobbuffet – My Untested Decidueye/Vileplume Counter
- Theoretical Advantages the Deck Presents
- Turbo Darkrai
The results of the Oceania International Championships were some of the most surprising results I have seen in a long time-11/32 Day 2 decks were a single archetype, Volcanion took down its first major tournament, and not a single player from the Asia/Pacific rating zone made top 8. Although it did not win the tournament, Decidueye/Vileplume has definitely asserted itself as the current BDIF, having claimed over 1/3rd of Day 2 spots as well as 3 Top 8 spots. Item locking your opponent before they even have the chance to draw a card is probably one of the most powerful and toxic strategies in the game, but it is certainly a huge advantage if you are the only player at the table who is actually able to play interactive Pokemon. However, Decidueye/Vileplume’s incredible performance has driven me to build decks that are able to compete with it. Below, I will discuss three different Standard archetypes, some of which are able to compete with Vileplume, while others fold to the strength of Item lock.
Turbo Darkrai: Brief Discussion of the Deck
This deck has been discussed to death recently because it is one of the most powerful, consistent, and simple to play decks in Standard right now. Most lists that I have seen recently have decided to forgo consistency for tech cards, such as Tauros GX, Team Flare Grunt, and Silent Lab. Below is my personal list that I think would have been a very strong option for Melbourne, as it is consistent enough to make it through a long tournament and still packs the same punch as many teched out lists.
Turbo Dark List
|Pokémon – 9||Trainers – 39||Energy – 12|
|3||Darkrai EX||4||Professor Sycamore||4||VS Seeker||12||Darkness|
|2||Yveltal (XY)||3||N||4||Ultra Ball|
|2||Shaymin EX||2||Lysandre||4||Max Elixir|
|1||Yveltal EX||1||Hex Maniac||3||Trainers’ Mail*|
|1||Hoopa EX||1||Professor Kukui||3||Fighting Fury Belt*|
|1||Parallel City||1||Escape Rope|
*Uncommon card counts that add consistency
As you can see, this list was designed with nothing but consistency in mind. Thick counts of consistency cards are usually forgone in favor of tech cards such as extra Enhanced Hammer and Tauros GX, which from the results of my testing accounts for many nearly unplayable hands. This extra boost in consistency has been the difference between a strong setup or a very poor setup many times, helping to keep hand variance to a minimum.
Consistency Card Analysis
3 Trainers’ Mail
Many Turbo Darkrai lists include 2 Trainers’ Mail when looking for a slight boost in consistency, but when building this list I decided to include 3. In a deck that plays many different Supporters, needs to find Max Elixirs at the right time, and is designed to set the tempo for the match, the extra “reach” into your deck that a high Trainers’ Mail count provides increases the odds of hitting a crucial Hex Maniac, Professor Kukui, or Max Elixir, while helping to find draw supporters when you are in need of them. Overall, the third Mail is not just a luxury card, but an important asset that gives Darkrai a valuable consistency boost.
3 Fighting Fury Belt
Almost all recent Turbo Darkrai lists have only included 2 Fighting Fury Belt, which I think is too low, considering the importance of a high HP Darkrai for basically every matchup. Being able to afford discarding a Fighting Fury Belt early on is more of a luxury, but the ability to give up to 3 attackers an HP bonus has been incredibly beneficial throughout testing. With 3 Trainers’ Mail, Fighting Fury Belt also becomes very easy to find in the early game. The huge benefit that Fighting Fury Belt provides attackers is integral in Darkrai’s success.
2 Switch, 1 Escape Rope
More often than not, when playing with 0 Switch and 2 Escape Rope in my list, I found it very difficult to find a switching card at the right time. I also did not always want my opponent’s Active Pokemon to switch out, as they could be saving their only viable attacker from being knocked out by Dark Pulse. Both of these issues drove me to include 2 Switch and 1 Escape Rope. Having 2 Switch allows for switching at the right times, and including Escape Rope gives Darkrai an out to Jolteon-EX’s Flash Ray. With consistent switching as an important aspect of Darkrai, increasing the amount of switching cards in the deck was a no-brainer.
Popularized by Chris Siakala when he included this card in his Athens Regional Championship list, Silent Lab has proven to improve the Volcanion and Vespiquen matchups. I chose not to include Silent Lab only because Reverse Valley greatly improves the mirror match by allowing Darkrai to do 220 for one less energy. I also toyed around with the idea of a 2/1 Reverse Valley/Silent Lab split, but Parallel City proved to be a much better one-of Stadium inclusion. If you are expecting lots more Volcanion and Vespiquen than Darkrai, Silent Lab may be a better choice than Reverse Valley.
I originally loved including this card in the list, but I found that it was only helpful if you started with it or got it out within the first two turns. It is also definitely not the Exp. Share target that many people believe it is, as it needs to be Active for a turn or two before using Mad Bull. Overall, I found that Darkrai did not need an attacker that could dish out massive OHKO’s nearly as much as Yveltal does, so I decided to remove it from the list. However, it is still a very strong card that could find its way back into the deck if I find myself in need of a better early/late game attacker.
My friend Jon Eng mentioned this inclusion to me when we were talking about decks to play in Melbourne, and although I am still questioning myself on whether or not it is necessary, it has proven to provide a useful consistency boost. For long tournaments such as Regionals, an inclusion such as this would provide a noticeable difference in consistency throughout the day, but for smaller tournaments such as League Cups, a third Shaymin may not provide much of an advantage.
When first looking through Sun and Moon scans, I noticed Dragonair’s attack, Dragon’s Wish, was basically a Deluge for every energy next turn. As a random Stage 1 line in a deck like Turbo Darkrai would not be very consistent, My friends and I then tried to come up with a different concept using Dragonite as an attacker, along with a few situational attackers that could effectively win matchups on their own. Below is our most recent iteration of the deck, including more consistency cards and a thinner Dragonite line.
|Pokémon – 14||Trainers – 34||Energy – 12|
|3||Dratini (SUM)||4||Professor Sycamore||3||VS Seeker||4||Double Dragon|
|3||Dragonair (SUM)||3||N||3||Ultra Ball||5||Grass|
|2||Dragonite (SUM)||2||Lysandre||3||Level Ball||3||Lightning|
|1||Dragonite ROS (∆ Plus)||1||Professor Kukui||3||Trainers’ Mail|
|2||Jolteon EX||3||Professor’s Letter|
|2||Shaymin EX||1||Faded Town*||3||Float Stone|
|1||Giratina EX||1||Parallel City||2||Super Rod|
*Other stadium may work better depending on metagame
How the Deck Works
Instead of going through the card choices like I would when discussing an established deck, I am going to discuss how this deck should be played. First of all, using as many resources as necessary to get a turn 2 Dragon’s Wish is paramount. Without being able to attach all of your energies by turn 3, you will fall behind faster decks and lose. After getting a Dragon’s Wish, you should try to power up whichever attacker would be most effective in whatever matchup you are playing. For example, powering up Jolteon-EX in the Yveltal and Turbo Darkrai matchups or powering up Giratina-EX in the Vespiquen and M Mewtwo matchups would be wise. Attaching Energy to a Dragonite SM also helps vs attackers such as M Mewtwo and Yveltal, as you can discard the Energy used to attack. Lastly, building up your single Dragonite ROS as a finisher allows you to take a win even if you were only able to grab a couple prizes with your primary attackers. It could also be used vs non-EX decks with less than 150 HP to take 2 prizes off of their non-EXs.
Below, I have provided a list of relevant decks, ranked by expected popularity.
The matchups are scored by using these abbreviations: WW (auto-win), F (favorable), SF (slightly favorable) E (even), SU (slightly unfavorable), U (unfavorable), LL (auto-loss), and ? (untested).
Turbo Darkrai: SF-F (depends on Escape Rope/Pokemon Ranger counts)
M Mewtwo-EX: SF
M Rayquaza-EX: F (SU if you start off slow)
M Gardevoir-EX: LL
Vileplume/Decidueye: U-LL (depends on flip)
As you can see, Dragonite has relatively strong matchups across the board, but still struggles with speed and consistency (sort of). If you run hot with the deck, it is a very strong pick for any tournament, but if you don’t run hot enough you will probably end up with subpar results. Overall, Dragonite is a concept that seems to have lots of potential, but still needs a bit of refinery work before becoming a more mainstream deck.
Aerodactyl/Wobbuffet – A Possible Answer to the Plague of Decidueye/Vileplume
This deck is merely theoretical at this point in time, but seems very promising, as its Decidueye/Vileplume matchup should be very favorable (along with other matchups). While playing this deck, your goal is to set up as many Aerodactyl as fast as possible while simultaneously slowing down your opponent with Crushing Hammer. Below is a list that I created today and have not made a single change to, so please understand that it has gone through no testing at all.
|Pokémon – 7||Trainers – 48||Energy – 4|
|4||Aerodactyl (FCO)||3||Professor Sycamore||3||VS Seeker||4||Double Colorless|
|3||Wobbuffet||2||N||4||Old Amber Aerodactyl|
|2||Lysandre||4||Fossil Excavation Kit|
As you can see, this list has a huge focus on Item-based draw without Shaymin, as quickly thinning your deck will allow for better chances at finding Aerodactyl with Old Amber. Many card choices in this list are very unorthodox, but some serve a very important role in the deck’s setup.
Start Wobbuffet 100% of the time
Although this list looks like it would struggle with Item lock, it is actually impossible to Item lock this deck (without using Hoothoot) as long as Wobbuffet is Active. As Wobbuffet is the only Basic Pokemon in the deck, you are guaranteed to start with it Active in every matchup. This will slow your opponent’s setup down immensely, buying you enough time to set up an army of Aerodactyl. After you have set up your field, simply retreating your Wobbuffet in favor of an Aerodactyl will allow you to capitalize on your opponent’s likely slow setup. Overall, being able to start with Ability lock every game is a huge advantage that no decks have ever been able to establish in the past, as it secures you enough time to set up a complex board.
Crazy Item Draw Engine
In a deck with a thin Supporter count, a very complex setup procedure, and no Shaymin, I felt that an insanely comprehensive Item-based draw engine was the only way this deck could set itself up fast enough to compete with other decks. This Item engine combined with Wobbuffet starts every game, provides a couple advantages, including that you will always have a chance to utilize the engine and that the engine is fast enough to outpace most Standard decks (considering they have to deal with Wobbuffet). I think this engine is the correct path to take when building a deck such as Aerodactyl/Wobbuffet, considering how difficult it is to counter as well as how consistent it is.
I feel like this concept has a lot of potential, but I have yet to see how powerful it is in practice. Feel free to test this concept and provide me with info on how the deck performs, I would love to hear it.
I really enjoyed writing this piece for you guys; I hope you enjoyed reading it. Shoutout to Jackson Ford, Joe Hebert, Nicholas Apostolou, and Charlie Kerr for being helpful testing partners. Feel free to come say hi to me at any event I attend, as I should be at all of the Regionals in May and plenty of League Cups in the MDVA area. Thanks again for giving this article a read and I hope to see you guys again!