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Marc Lutz

Emerald Breaking the Format? Exploring Mega Rayquaza

Marc Lutz talks about Mega Rayquaza, it's hype and it's future in Standard and Expanded.

10/07/2015 by Marc Lutz

Hello, my dear readers.

This time around, I want to talk about a variety of decks that work around a card that went from loved to hated, from hyped to forgotten—M Rayquaza-EX, the Colorless one, to be more specific. When M Rayquaza-EX first was shown in spoilers from Japan, we still had Lysandre's Trump Card in our format, so the first Rayquaza decks we saw usually used a speed variant with Grass Energy to be able to run Virizion-EX and benefit from its Ability Verdant Wind, but as soon as Lysandre's Trump Card got banned, players gave up on this idea because they thought Rayquaza wouldn't be worth running anymore, because you would deck yourself before you were even able to draw six Prize cards. After that, it became quiet around Rayquaza, expect for a few players that were still playing around with some ideas to make the deck work.

At the time when U.S. Nationals were about to begin, a lot of players were counting Rayquaza variants out of the competition because Raichu XY and M Manectric-EX were decks you had to be aware of. Altaria tried to resolve the Weakness issue, but as Manectric decks were running Garbodor and Raichu almost does enough damage to knock out a Rayquaza either way, these decks remained a problem. That's where the Metal engine came in. At this point, MetalRay was born and started to get picked up by more and more players, especially in Germany. For a pretty long time, this deck seemed to be the best choice for this year's Worlds, but as Worlds came closer, more information started leaking about each nation's most hyped decks, and with Night March and Manectric being all over the place, Rayquaza once again lost its favor and in the end, almost no players used Metal Rayquaza at Worlds. But will this mean that M Rayquaza-EX is just going to be another overhyped card like Gengar Prime, or will the new format actually enable him to become a powerful deck? This is what we're going to take a look at in this article.

Strengths and Weaknesses

When Roaring Skies came out, it almost seemed logical to play this card, just because all of the support it received in the same set. Cards like Mega Turbo, Sky Field, Winona and Shaymin-EX made it almost seem natural to build a deck around Rayquaza, as these cards fit Rayquaza so well. And these cards are probably its biggest advantage, as Winona allows you to search for your Basic Rayquaza-EX and the Mega, and still leaves space to even grab a Shaymin out of your deck. Sky Field is obviously the card you're looking for to boost your Rayquaza's damage. After you play down Sky Field you're able to hit for as much as 240 damage, which is enough to Knock Out almost everything.

Up next, we have Shaymin-EX, but I don'really think that I have to talk about it, as every player should know how good this card is. The last card we have is Mega Turbo, which allows you to attach a Basic Energy in your discard pile to one of your Mega Pokémon. With Mega Turbo, it gets pretty easy to power up your M Rayquaza-EX in just one turn, which gets even easier when you look at its Ancient Trait, which is the next thing I want to talk about.

M Rayquaza-EX is the only Pokémon-EX with the ability to Evolve the same turn it's played down (not counting Wally shenanigans), which, combined with Winona, becomes pretty powerful. So let's say you've got Winona and a Spirit Link in your hand. Voila, you've got yourself a M Rayquaza-EX and even a Shaymin-EX to use, since your turn doesn't end, thanks to the Rayquaza Spirit Link. Or, you could just leave your turn to end if you're going first, as you can't attack anyway.

These advantages seem like a lot, and they are, but why is M Rayquaza-EX still not being played? Let's take a look at the downsides of playing this deck.

I'm going to talk about some Expanded-only variants, as well as some Standard variants, or variants that are playable in either Standard or Expanded, but are played differently, since a lot of cards that M Rayquaza did need before are no longer available. A major disadvantage that M Rayquaza-EX has is the metagame. There are a lot of Lightning decks that are able to Knock Out M Rayquaza-EX in one hit. The "big three" of these decks are Manectric variants, Night March, and Vespiquen, thanks to Jolteon's Ability which adds the Lightning type to each Stage 1. But even with these Weakness-hitting Pokémon, there could still be a chance for M Rayquaza-EX to do well at tournaments, thanks to Altaria.

But with the latest set, M Rayquaza-EX got a new enemy: Giratina-EX. Giratina-EX's Ability prevents all damage done to it by Mega Pokémon, so the only option to win against Giratina is playing Hex Maniac. But since you have to use so many Abilities on your own, you can only play one Hex Maniac in your deck, just for an emergency. The other issue is Giratina's attack. Once he attacks with it, you can't play any Tools, Stadiums, or Special Energy cards during your next turn, which basically shuts down your whole deck. You can't play any Spirit Links, Sky Fields, or Double Colorless Energy. That's a lot to have prevented considering that these three cards are very important for M Rayquaza-EX to get going. But for now, let's take a look at some M Rayquaza EX variants.

M Rayquaza-EX in Expanded

M Rayquaza-EX/Bronzong/Techs

The so called "MetalRay" was a deck that did really well at U.S. Nationals and was tested by a lot of people for the World Championships in Boston. After Night March and Manectric got a lot of hype, a lot of players dropped that deck and it fell out of favor. The deck is actaully very consistent and has answers to most decks—even the ones I mentioned above. The main stretegy of this deck is to set up some Bronzong and keep hitting for high amounts of damage with your M Rayquaza-EX. On top of that, you have cards like Aegislash-EX and Cobalion-EX to help you deal with decks like Vespiquen and Night March a lot more easily thanks to Aegislash's Ability, which prevents any damage done to it by your opponent's Pokémon with any Special Energy.

The latest addition of tech cards came out just in Ancient Origins—Hoopa-EX. Hoopa-EX is a very good card in any kind of M Rayquaza-EX deck, thanks to its Ability Scoundrel Ring, which allows you to search your deck for three Pokémon-EX. So basically, if you draw an Ultra Ball, you're able to get Shaymin-EX and two other Pokémon-EX instead of just a Shaymin-EX, which was what you did in most cases before Hoopa-EX was released. It's also pretty useful to fill up your Bench, either for the first time or after your Sky Field gets kicked by your opponent. Using these cards, it gets pretty easy to set up all you need and hit for a whole lot of damage as soon as you can. 

M Rayquaza-EX/Raichu

At the first glance, you might think that this deck doesn't actaully get that much in Expanded compared to Standard, but there is one specific card that makes this deck so much better in Expanded: Colress. There are not many decks that can abuse Colress as much as Raichu or M Rayquaza-EX decks, and when you combine both of them, it gets even more useful. You can either play this deck with or without Bronzong, so I will include lists for both versions. First I want to talk about the version without Bronzong, since this is the more agressive version, and I think that more people will try out this version over the slower Bronzong-based version.

The main point of this deck is obviously the same as in every M Rayquaza deck: get out a fast M Rayquaza-EX and a full Bench to start attacking for a lot of damage. But compared to other versions where you only have your M Rayquaza-EX and maybe some other, weaker non-EX or even EX attacker, in this version you've got Raichu, which is able to knock out Pokémon-EX on its own. Since you get to play Silver Bangle in Expanded and there's no actual point to playing Muscle Band since you'll have Spirit Links attached to your Rayquaza anyways, Raichu is Able to hit for up to 190 with a full Bench and a Silver Bangle. You may think that there's no point in playing Silver Bangle since most normal Pokémon-EX have 180 HP at most and you won't be able to Knock Out Megas anyways, but the point of Silver Bangle is that you'll be able to hit for 170 with only seven Pokémon on your Bench instead of 160, which won't be enough to Knock Out 170HP Pokémon-EX.

For Knocking Out Megas, you obviously have the option to attack with M Rayquaza-EX, which is able to Knock Out in just one hit, thanks to Emerald Break combined with Sky Field. This version uses Mega Turbo and Item-based draw to load up your Rayquaza as fast is possible, but you won't be able to attach Energy to Raichu this way, so you either have to attach your Basic Energy manually or use your Double Colorless Energy, which is the major disadvantage between this version and the Bronzong one. But other than that, this deck is the better choice if you want to have a M Rayquaza-EX deck that is able to attack as much as possible without losing to cards like Regice AOR or Safeguard Pokémon. You also get acces to Virizion-EX, which helps a lot against Accelgor, which is receiving a lot of hype lately, so that's definatily a deck to deck into consideration if you're afraid of Accelgor.

M Rayquaza-EX/Raichu/Bronzong

The general strategy of this version obviously stays the same as in the Raichu version without Bronzong, but this deck has some unique aspects to keep in mind. The most important thing is that you won't be able to get a turn-one Rayquaza when your opponent is going first. It's just not going to happen beacuse you don't have a way to get extra Energy into play without Bronzong. The playstyle is more oriented to the one of Metal/Rayquaza, since you basically play the same deck but with Raichu instead of your regular tech Pokémon like Cobalion-EX and Aegislash-EX. Overall, you want to get your Bronzong out to help boost the consistency of new attackers, and once you get out two Bronzong, you can easily power up your Raichu and M Rayquaza-EX to hit for a ton of damage. Compared to the version without Bronzong, you've got a much better late game, since cards like N don't affect you as much, as your Energy-acceleration is already set up, so all you need is an attacker that usually is already sitting on your Bench, just waiting to attack. 

M Rayquaza-EX/Eelektrik/Techs

Rayquaza-EX with Eelektrik was a deck that used to be very good when Dragons Exalted came out a few seasons ago, but since then, it was never really used again, but now that we have M Rayquaza, I feel like this deck could actually make a big impact in Expanded. The main strategy of this deck is basically the same as MetalRay. You set up your Eelektrik to keep accelerating your Energy and power up your Rayquaza quickly. On top of that, you've got some nice tech cards to help the deck in certain matchups, to give you an edge even if the matchup doesn't favor you in theory. You might ask yourself, what's the point in using Eelektrik if you could use Bronzong instead, so let me explain the differences, and in my opinion, the advantages that Rayquaza/Eelektrik has that Rayquaza/Metal doesn't have.

I feel like the most important point to mention is the regular Rayquaza-EX. Where Metal/Rayquaza has to choose either the Dragon Ray from Roaring Skies, the regular Colorless Rayquaza from Roaring Skies, or the promo Rayquaza-EX which lets you search your deck for a M Rayquaza-EX, Rayquaza/Eelektrik actually has a regular Rayquaza-EX that helps the deck a lot. Rayquaza EX from Dragons Exalted is able to easly Knock Out regular Pokémon-EX as long as you can set up a bunch of Eelektriks. With the help of Shaymin-EX and Sky Field, you should be able to get two or three Eelektrik into play. The other Mega Rayquaza variants weren't really able to do anything if the didn't get their M Rayquaza-EX into play. The Eelektrik variant wants to get the M Rayquaza into play as well, but is also able to deal a lot of damage with the regular Rayquaza if you happen to whiff your Mega. Rayquaza-EX is also able to get game-deciding KOs in the late game because you should have a bunch of Eelektrik in play and could actually be able to play down your Rayquaza-EX, attach a Fire Energy, use Dynamotor three times and power your Ray up in just one turn to hit for 180 damage to Knock Out every regular EX (except Wailord).

The next thing I want to talk about are the tech cards. Where Metal/Rayquaza uses Heatran as a good non-EX attacker, you've got Zekrom, which deals almost the same amount of damage for less Energy, as well as the ability to soak up damage against decks that don't attack for 130 as quickly. Zekrom is a nice option to quickly Knock Out Shaymin-EX or other Colorless Rayquaza if they don't have Altaria in play. The second important tech is Raikou-EX, a card that already was used in Rayquaza/Eelektrik years ago, and is still a very strong card, maybe even stronger than it was back in the day. Raikou-EX can be used to Knock Out Bench-sitting Pokémon like Bronzong or other Eelektrik, as well as finishing of KOs on already damaged Pokémon-EX. And if you don't have many options left, you could still hope to Paralyze your opponent's Active Pokémon with Raikou's first attack.

The only things that Metal/Rayquaza could possibly use that Rayquaza/Eelektik isn't able to are Cobalion-EX and Aegislash-EX, but I feel like they got a little bit outdated compared to the pre-Worlds metagame. Overall, I feel like Rayquaza/Eelektrik is the more aggressive variant compared to Metal/Rayquaza, so if you want to play one of these decks, you should definitely try out both to see which one fits your playstyle.

M Rayquaza-EX in Standard

M Rayquaza-EX/Bronzong

I already talked about this deck's general strategy in Expanded, and it basically stays the same. The only thing that changes is the list, but these changes have a whole lot of negative impact. The hardest losses for this deck are Colress, which was your main draw engine. The other pretty significant loss is Keldeo-EX. Keldeo was one of the most important cards in MetalRay. It allowed you to switch out of Special Conditions, switch your attackers, or power them up again, since Bronzong's Ability only works for Benched Pokémon, and perhaps most importantly, it allowed you to switch out your Bronzong because a lot of people might have tried to Lysandre it to keep it stuck at the Active spot. Other than that, the deck almost doesn't change, so we will have to see if switching out Keldeo-EX and Float Stone for Switches is enough, and if we don't need any draw Supporters besides Professor Sycamore and Professor Birch's Observations to keep the deck going. I don't really know if the deck will be strong or fall apart completely, but it's probably not as bad as some people say. So if you enjoyed MetalRay before, definitely try it out. If you didn't like it before, you'll probably still not like it because it's even slower than before.

M Rayquaza-EX/Dragons

M Rayquaza-EX is a very interesting deck since it basically uses the resources that you would normally use for the Dragon-type M Rayquaza-EX, but instead, you're using cards like Reshiram to power up your Emerald Break attack, which works surprisingly nicely. The trick is to promote your Reshiram, use it's Ability to attach a Fire Energy from your hand to Rayquaza-EX, and Evolve it afterwards. Once you do this, you can attach your Double Colorless Energy right away, or just use Mega Turbo and attach a Basic Energy. The rest of the deck works the same as any other M rayquaza-EX variant. You have got your Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX to quickly fill up your Bench, the already mentioned Mega Turbo to power up your M Rayquaza-EX and Sky Field to possibly hit for 240 damage. The thing you have to look out for are your Hydreigon-EX and Reshiram. You always have to remember that you can only use them for your Dragon-type Pokémon, so that you don't end up in awkward misplays. Overall, I think this deck is a lot of fun and you should definitely try it out.

M Rayquaza-EX/Yveltal

This deck is actually on of my favourite M Rayquaza-EX variants, since it combines the strengths of M Rayquaza-EX and Yveltal-EX (which might get a lot of play in Standard as well, since it counters Giratina-EX very well). Other than that, you're also able to attack with the regular Yveltal to attach Energy to either your M Rayquaza-EX or your Yveltal-EX. A possible tech card for this deck might be Shadow Circle. I didn't include the card in this list because it really depends on how the metagame in your region develops. If your region is seeing a lot of Night March, Manectric, or Vespiquen, you might consider teching in one or two copies; this should help you, especially against Vespiquen and Night March since you don't even need Sky Field to deal enough damage to Knock Out their attackers. Other than that, you could switch this version to a more Yveltal-heavy variant if you feel like there's a lot of Giratina-EX in your area and you want a way to deal with it. Overall, this version is a little bit more consistent than the straight variant, so if you want to deal quick damage, but also be prepared for a longer game, definitely try this deck out.


M Rayquaza-EX/Mega Turbo

The so called "SpeedRay" is by far the quickest variant, but it's also the riskiest one to play. If you manage to get out your M Rayquaza-EX on the first or second turn, you should be fine against most decks; on the other hand, if you happen to not get it out this fast, you're in a lot of trouble. The main strategy in this version is to quickly burn through your deck to set up one of your M Rayquaza-EX on the first turn and get a quick KO on a Pokémon-EX and keep this up every turn with the help of Lysandre. If you keep drawing the cards that you need, you can be able to decide the game in just three turns, maybe four if you're the one going first since you won't be able to attack.

The most important thing when playing this deck, is keeping an eye on your resources. At some point, it might seem tempting to just discard your whole hand with Sycamore to burn through your deck, but if this hand consists of three Double Colorless Energy, you might want to think again, as this is definitely going to hurt you if your opponent Knocks Out your M Rayquaza-EX or if they discard the Double Colorless Energy with Enhanced Hammer. Against decks where you won't be able to attack with Ray, you can still use Seismitoad-EX to stall a little bit, and maybe get a better board position. In general, you don't really want to attack with it, so even if it might seem tempting to go for a -one Quaking Punch, I won't try to play the lock game with a deck like this. The matchup you want to use Quaking Punch against is obviously Night March, since you don't really have many options other than not using Shaymin-EX at all and setting up your Altaria on the first turn. Overall, this deck is a typical high-risk, high-reward kind of deck, because if you keep getting your Rayquaza very quickly, you'll usually be able to win against any deck.


I honestly feel like M Rayquaza-EX is a very underused card that suffers from the current development of the metagame. M Rayquaza-EX could have made a decent run at Worlds Day 2 since a lot of the top decks that day usually lose to it. Night March has a very hard time against Aegislash-EX and Seismitoad/Bats is not fast enough to deal with your Rayquaza before you keep Knocking Out their Seismitoad. Even Archie's Blastoise struggles a lot against Metal/Rayquaza, since it's not that easy to get enough Energy attached to Keldeo to KO M Rayquaza-EX, and it gets even harder once the first powered up Keldeo-EX gets Knocked Out.

In the current meta, it's very hard for M Rayquaza-EX to find its spot since most decks are easily able to deal with it, whether it's Manectric/Regice, which is able to KO you in one hit, or attack with Regice once you get out your Altaria, or Vespiquen, which is also able to KO you pretty quickly if you don't get your Altaria basically on the first turn. Another downside in Standard is the loss of cards like Colress and Keldeo, which had a big influence on your consistency and mobility. Expanded might also be a different format to deal with, thanks to the hype of Archeops, which basically shuts down your deck since you're not even able to Evolve your Rayquaza-EX. Overall, I think that M Rayquaza-EX could be a very good sleeper pick if you manage to dodge your worst matchups, since you'll most likely win against most other decks.

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