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Karl Peters

The Rise of Darkrai 2.0?

Karl takes a quick look at the new Darkrai deck in the Expanded format.

04/06/2016 by Karl Peters

Hey guys, it's Karl. This time I want to take a look at a deck that got a lot of popularity in recent expanded tournaments. I'm talking about a different version of a dark deck, which might seem surprising, considering that we've had very good darkness decks ever since the release of Dark Explorers. The main reason for the popularity of these decks has always been the combination of strong attackers like Darkrai-EX or Yveltal-EX in combination with a good Energy acceleration due to Dark Patch or Yveltal XY. These cards made Yveltal one of the best, if not the best, deck in Expanded tournaments this season and it was even able to remain a top tier deck in Standard thanks to Zoroark BKT and Zoroark BREAK. With the latest set, dark decks got two very good darkness supporting cards in Reverse Valley and Darkrai-EX, which is able to deal high amounts of damage very quickly thanks to the third major addition from XY BREAKpoint, which is Max Elixir. Unlike Dark Patch, Max Elixir works for any kind of basic Energy and can also attach to any kind of basic Pokémon which is very nice, considering that Dark patch was so strong, even without being bound to one type. For now these darkness decks are the only ones that are able to abuse Max Elixir, mainly because most other decks are either running attackers with low Energy costs, or non-basic attackers.

Before we go into detail, let's take a look at a list for Speed Darkrai.

The main strategy for this deck is very simple. You want to get as many Energy as possible into play to be able to attack with dark Pulse for high amounts of damage, without having to worry about losing too many of them once your active Pokémon gets knocked out. Your main accelerators are Dark patch and Max Elixir which can be used to get a lot of Energy into play very fast. You can also use the XY Yveltal’s Oblivion Wing to deal some damage and get an Energy into play as well. The DEX Darkrai-EX is mainly a supportive addition to be able to freely switch your Pokémon around, but there can also be situations where you're happy that you`ve got Night Speer as a potential attack. Yveltal-EX is a very good attacker against decks that use fighting type Pokémon, such as Garchomp or Gallade which are very annoying threats to Darkrai-EX, so it's always nice to have a secondary attacker, that doesn't share the weakness of Darkrai. As you can see, the decks concept is very simple and it's also easy to play.

The list is very straightforward and doesn't have any major surprises, but there are still some cards that can be included into the deck if you want to move away from the standard list and add your own flavor to it.

Hypnotoxic Laser + Virbank City Gym

Virbank City Gym and Hypnotoxic Laser fit really well into this deck, especially because you're able to get the sleep flip to potentially use Darkrai-EX’s second attack if you lost a lot of Energy the turn before due to a knockout, or because you simply can't get enough Energy into play to get the knockout with Dark Pulse or Yveltal-EX’s Evil Ball. Adding some damage is always nice but these cards can also slow down your deck, because you most likely have to cut consistency cards which is why I didn't include them in my list.

Tool Scrapper

Tool Scrapper is one of those cards that every deck can include, but most just don't, simply because the space can be used better, if you don't have a matchup where you desperately need the Tool Scrapper. Since Darkrai doesn't really struggle with Garbodor or decks that run Bursting Balloon, there is no real need to include the card, but if you really want to play it, it's a potential addition that's not completely useless. You could also run Startling Megaphone instead to get rid of more Tools at once, but it's usually better to run Tool Scrapper in Expanded to be able to get rid of Head Ringers as well, since your opponent isn't going to attach three or more Tools to his Pokémon in most cases.

Professor’s Letter

Professor’s Letter has always been a very good card in darkness decks, especially because the combination of Ultra Ball or Computer Search in combination with the two free Energy from your deck is very strong. When Shaymin-EX was released, this combination became even stronger, but it's also counterproductive for Max Elixir, because you'd rather have eleven Energy to potentially hit, than just ten Energy and regret it when your Max Elixir doesn't hit any Energy, but the Professor’s Letter instead. The second downside is that you thin out your Energy from your deck, which Battle Compressor already does. Having three cards that move Energy out of your deck is very bad for Max Elixir, and I'd always rather run Battle Compressor, because he gets them straight into the discard pile, to be reattached with Dark Patch.

Dowsing Machine

It's simply preference if you run Computer Search or Dowsing Machine, but I've always been more of a fan of searching your deck for any card than getting back any Trainer from your discard pile, which is why I always run Computer Search. But I've also seen multiple lists doing well with Dowsing Machine so just play around with the deck and find out with one you like better. 

After we've looked at the decklist and potential card choices that you might add, let's get to the most important aspects, the matchups. The most important matchups for expanded tournaments are Trevenant, Sableye/Garbodor, M Rayquaza and Yveltal/Maxie’s. I'll also talk a little bit about straight Yveltal, but it's not as much that it'd need a separate paragraph.


As you can already guess, this matchup is very easy for Speed Darkrai due to the simple fact that Trevenant has a darkness weakness which makes it very easy to knock it out, with just three Energy in play. Some players started to include some copies of Weakness Policy in their lists, but even without the weakness, Darkrai-EX is still able to get easy knockouts without having to worry to fall too far behind. The only real problem could be a very bad starting hand together with a turn one Trevenant from your opponent, which is the only real way how Darkrai is able to lose the matchup. Bursting Balloon is also no real threat to Darkrai, especially because Silent Fear only does 30 damage and even tree slam is only able to deal 40 damage, thanks to Darkrai’s resistance to psychic. In most cases Darkrai will come out on top and Trevenant is no matchup that you will have to worry about too much.


Sableye is a very uncomfortable matchup for most decks, aside from maybe decks like M Manectric with extra Mega Turbos in it. Most other games will depend very much on how the Hammer flips for the Sableye players go, and if you start with an easy Lysandre target. You should never bench something like Hoopa-EX or Keldeo-EX, because these two are some of the easiest targets to Lysandre and lock in the active spot. The best plan is to simply get an Yveltal-EX in the active spot and power up a Darkrai-EX from BREAKpoint, or Yveltal-EX as your main attacker. Once you attached enough Energy you can try to sweep through your opponents Pokémon, but as I said, this depends a lot on how his flips go. If he manages to get rid of two Energy each turn, you're in a very rough spot and it's going to be very difficult to win. If he just gets rid of one, or maybe even none, you should be able to get the upper hand in this matchup.

M Rayquaza EX (Colorless)

M Rayquaza is by far the worst matchup for any Darkrai or Yveltal deck, because it's so hard to get the one-hit, but on the other hand, Rayquaza-EX is able to get the one hit relatively easy, and more important, consistently. Once he manages to get one or two M Rayquaza-EX going, he can easily take four prizes with any of them, because Darkrai-EX would need ten Energy in play, which is almost every Energy in the deck, or nine Energy in addition to Fighting Fury Belt and Reverse Valley. Both cases are very unlikely, and even Yveltal-EX would need a very high amount of Energy to be able to get the knockout, but even if you're able to take the first one, there is always going to be another one, ready to get the revenge knockout. So far I didn't come up with any real gameplan to win this matchup, so for now I'll just have to call it an autoloss for Speed Darkrai, until we maybe get a strategy to win the matchup.


The Yveltal matchup is very even, because both decks have good answers to the other ones main attackers. Darkrai-EX from BKP is very good against Yveltal-EX, because it doesn't need a lot of Energy attached to it, but is able to benefit from having a lot of Energy in play to easily knockout Yveltal-EX. On the other hand, Gallade is very good against Darkrai-EX, because it's able to get very easy knockouts for just a Double Colorless Energy. Gallade on the other hand get knocked out by Yveltal-EX, but since the Yveltal-EX needs a lot of Energy to do so, the opposing Yveltal-EX can get an easy revenge knockout. As you can see the matchup is very much like a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors and depends a lot on when a player is going to whiff, and who gets his setup earlier. I still think that Speed Darkrai has the upper hand, but just by a very small amount, mainly because the matchups outcome depends a lot on if Yveltal/Maxie’s is able to get out the Gallade. If the Yveltal player can't get out the Gallade at all, Darkrai is going to win most times, but since almost every Maxie's Yveltal list is built to get the Gallade (or Archeops) on the first or second turn, the Gallade is probably going to hit the field in most times. There are also a lot of situations where the matchup gets very skill based because you often have to keep your resources and watch out when you use them which is why I like this matchup a lot. For those who wonder how the matchup plays out against straight Yveltal, it's pretty much the same, with the major difference being, that they don't run Gallade which is why the matchup shifts into Speed Darkrai’s favor.

Hypnotoxic Laser is going to be very annoying most times, but thanks to Fighting Fury Belt, Yveltal has to attach two more Energy than before to get the knockout, which is very hard if you consider that Darkrai-EX usually just has two Energy attached to it.

As you can see, Speed Darkrai is a very good deck, and on top of that, it's easy. There might still be some major downsides, for example the very bad M Rayquaza-EX matchup, but if you don't expect too much of it, Darkrai is probably a very good choice to combine, strength, speed and good matchups. If you haven't already tried it out, I encourage you to do so and maybe you will even be able to find a way to make the M Rayquaza-EX matchup at least a little bit better. I personally think that you can easily take that one autoloss, especially because you're able to win most other matchup relatively easy.

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