As many probably know, the deck I piloted for this past years U.S. National Championships was a Sableye DEX/Garbodor DRX deck. During that tournament, I didn’t use any attack other than Junk Hunt for the entirety of the tournament and that single attack was good enough to land me into the Top 128 cut of that tournament.
The deck was quickly squashed as Crushing Hammer rotated out of the format during the rotation to Next Destinies on, as the card was last printed in Emerging Powers, which was sent out of the format. However, with the release of Legendary Treasures, Crushing Hammer is back, and hammer spam is once again a viable strategy.
I’ve resorted more to a traditional Darkrai EX/Garbodor DRX deck with Crushing Hammers for this new format. I think it was a necessary change, but the core strategy of the deck remains the same.
I played the deck during a League Challenge a couple of weekends ago, and highly considered playing it for Regional Championships this past weekend before deciding on playing my Virizion EX/Genesect deck. As you might guess, I think the deck is very good, and would put it in as a Tier 1 deck in the format.
Here is my most current list for the deck. This is the version I was testing right before Regional Championships, it’s two cards off from the list I played during the League Challenge. From the list I used at the league challenge, I took out a Float Stone for a Silver Mirror, and I took out a Random Receiver for a Bicycle.
Pokemon – 11
4 Sableye DEX
Trainers – 41
4 Professor Juniper
3 Random Receiver
3 Ultra Ball
3 Float Stone
1 Dowsing Machine
2 Virbank City Gym
Energy – 8
I don’t want to be too self indulgent, but I think this is about as close to a perfect of a list for this deck as you will see. I’ve spent a lot of time testing the concept, and have worked on getting the counts of each card just right so the deck can do well against nearly every major deck in the format.
The first thing I would like to draw attention to in this list is the count of 4 Sableye DEX. I believe this is the most important card in the deck, and your entire strategy should be based around disrupting your opponent through the entirety of the game until there is nothing more they can do to beat you.
The most common mistake I see players make when attempting to play it as a Darkrai deck, that just happens to have hammers available to them. They focus more on setting up a Darkrai EX to attack, making the Darkrai EX the focus of the deck, when in reality, if you want to play the deck to its highest potential, you should be playing it as if its a Sableye deck. If you want to play a Darkrai deck, you should be playing something similar to what Michael Pramawat won Virginia Regional Championships and not this deck.
The main focus of the deck is to disrupt your opponent from attacking you by removing the Energy they use to attack. You do this by using Crushing Hammer to remove either Basic or Special Energy, and using Enhanced Hammer to remove their Special Energy. As this is the main focus of the deck, I went with a healthy count of each, playing 4 Crushing Hammer and 2 Enhanced Hammer. As some decks are able to defy traditional Energy attachment requirements through Abilities like Deluge or Inferno Fandago, you play Garbodor to shutoff these Abilities, limiting your opponent to just the standard one Energy attachment per a turn.
As these decks will play Tool Scrapper, they will often get turns of attacking in. The way to play these matchups out is to have another tool to attach to your Garbodor when they play the Tool Scrapper. If they play Pokemon Catcher, and can target down your Garbodor, it’s good to work on setting two Garbodor up on your field so you have another one ready should this happen.
Emboar is less of an issue in this regard, as most of its attackers discard Energy when they attack. Blastoise can keep Energy on the field, but you can force the Pokemon back to your opponent’s bench with Escape Rope, or alternatively hit it with a Hypnotoxic Laser (you can do this pre-emptively and let damage build up on their Pokemon during earlier turns in the game) to setup knockouts for Darkrai EX or Absol on the turns when they do get these attacks off.
Hypnotoxic Laser is an important part of the deck as well. It does a few things for you – 1.) It can take knockouts by itself in combination with Virbank City Gym. That poison damage adds up quick when Virbank is in play. 2.) Setup ko’s for your alternate attackers. 3.) Probability says that on average, during 25 percent of your opponent’s turns you will hit heads on the Laser sleep flip and their Pokemon will stay asleep.
Once again, Garbodor DRX is useful here for shutting off Virizion EX’s Verdant Wind Ability, allowing you to use poison against Virizion/Genesect decks.
All of these threats with Hypnotoxic Laser force your opponent into making some decisions: 1.) Let the poison damage add up until the Pokemon is knocked out or heavily damage and within range to be taken out by one of your alternate attackers. 2.) Force them to discard Energy to retreat. 3.) Force them to use their Switch cards, eventually they will run out of these as the game moves forward.
With this in mind, I would say there are three main forces that go into making the deck work. The first is Enegy Denial through Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer. The second is passive laser damage and sleep status effect. The third is Ability denial through Garbotoxin.
On a macroscopic level then, we can view the deck’s strategy to be one in which we create a game state in which there can be only one winner, and that’s you. You do this by preventing them from ever attacking again by denying them of all their Energy. You force them to use their resources to the point where they are no longer available later in the game. And perhaps most importantly, you put them on a chase throughout the game. Every turn, you put them in a frantic state of using Supporter cards non-stop chasing down that Energy that will let them attack, or that Switching mechanism to free their Poisoned and Sleeping Pokemon from the Active position. As a result of this, it’s not too uncommon to see opponent’s deck themselves out in this chase to be able to do anything against the deck.
Max Potion is important to the deck, as it can allow you to remove snipe damage from one of your benched Pokemon, and when Abilities are unable to be used and Energy is lacking, most Pokemon can’t even OHKO a Sableye, allowing you to tank your Sableye to the point that your opponent can’t even knockout this 70 HP Pokemon.
The other interesting note in the tools is the 2 count of Silver Mirror. Plasma and Virizion/Genesect are two of the most popular and best decks in the format, and their main attackers are both Plasma Pokemon. So being able to deny them the Ability to do damage to your Pokemon when Silver Mirror is attached works to swing two of the most popular decks into matchups that are even more in your favor. Most of these decks only run two Tool Scrapper, so after both of those are gone, you pretty much have them locked for game.
At Nationals, obviously I just went the Quad Sableye route. I think some backup attackers are necessary for the current format. There are some Stage 2 decks like Garchomp and Empoleon that just take one Energy to attack, so you need to be able to knock these out. Luckily, Darkrai EX with Dark Claw and Hypnotoxic Laser does a good job of knocking out these Pokemon, and these decks kind of fizzle out as a large part of their setups is dependent on Abilities (Diving Draw in Empoleon, and Dragon Call in Garchomp), so Garbotoxin really hits these decks hard, especially since they just don’t have space for more than one Tool Scrapper.
Additionally, at Nationals, Tool Scrapper was a card absent from the meta game. Now it is seeing 2-3 counts in most decks, so you have to have answers to responding to any threats that might develop from those few turns when your opponent has Abilities present.
However, just because you have these options now doesn’t mean they’re the focus of the deck now. This should still be played as a Sableye deck, and only through testing can you truly figure out how to switch between using Junk Hunt and another attack for damage at the right moments.
Tournament Report – O’Fallon, Missouri League Challenge
For this tournament I believe we had 14 Masters, making for a 5 round tournament. I had played Blastoise at the City Championship earlier in the day, and thought the deck would be a good play after seeing the meta from earlier that day, reasoning that most players wouldn’t switch decks between tournaments.
Here are how my matchups played out:
Round 1 – Plasma – W
Round 2 – Round – W
Round 3 – Zebstrika/Darkrai EX/Mew EX – W
Round 4 – Big Basics/Garbodor/Victini EX – W
Round 5 – Big Basics/Garbodor/Victini EX – W
The round 1 matchup against Plasma was extremely easy. My opponent either played no Tool Scrapper, or just had one and it was prized so he had no method of dealing with a Sableye with Silver Mirror making for a dominating win.
Round was pretty easy, as he was forced to attach Double Colorless to some benched Tympole or Palpitoads, or else be forced to discard them with Professor Juniper, allowing me to Enhanced Hammer those, and then since Round is a two Energy attack, I was able to hit Crushing Hammer at a decent rate to remove the Basic Energy. In the long run, my opponent ended up decking out because he had to chase resources early just to setup his Stage 2’s, and then had to chase down Energy to even try to attack.
This is a point I should make with the deck. In addition to discarding Energy with your hammers, your opponent is sure to discard some Energy through other means at some point in the game, limiting the amount of hammers you need to hit to remove Energy.
The round 3 matchup against Zebstrika was terrifying, most importantly since I didn’t have a single Energy on my field when he first used Disconnect. However, he started with Mew EX, and used Disconnect first with that, as that’s all he could make the turn one attachment to, so I used a Hypnotoxic Laser on that which forced him to break the Disconnect lock or else the Mew EX would be knocked out, putting him in a bad position. During the turn where the Disconnect lock was broken, I was able to remove some Lightning, further disrupting him from being able to use Disconnect more, so all he could do was Dark Patch to power up a Darkrai EX, giving me room to use Items. I hit him hard with N, and was able to draw the resources to setup a Darkrai EX and was able to pull off a very close win against an Item lock deck.
The last two matchups against Big Basics played out pretty uneventful. I didn’t bother with setting up a Garbodor, and just used Junk Hunt throughout the game, targeting down his Energy and poisoning his Pokemon with Hypnotoxic Laser. He did get a lot of Energy on something but I just targeted that Energy down with Crushing Hammer while using Poison to force him out of resources. Eventually, I swung in with Absol to knockout a threat, and from there was in a dominant board position, and my first opponent ended up decking out.
In the next round, I didn’t get a good start, playing an N I believe and not seeing a Supporter for a long time after that. However, I did have a Crushing Hammer in the discard which I could use to disrupt her Energy, and had an Ultra Ball to get some more Pokemon to prevent the deck out. Eventually I did get a Supporter, and she dead drew later on, and was able to claw myself away from what could have been an easy dead draw loss into a comfortable win once I drew into more resources.
It’s amazing how long you can survive with just a few Items and Junk Hunt when you’re dead drawing in a game!
In the end, I finished 5-0 for first place with the deck.
I think if I were to go to a Regional Championship this weekend, after the meta shifts of this past weekend, this would be the deck I would play. It’s extremely good against Plasma, Blastoise, Emboar, and Virizion/Genesect, which were the most prominent decks from this past weekend in the Top 8’s of the three tournaments.
The main reason I chose not to play the deck this past weekend is I expected a lot of the attacking version of Darkrai/Garbodor which is by far the toughest matchup, as they’re built to be played with a Garbotoxin lock in place, and they can get their Energy back with Dark Patch. This makes this to be a difficult matchup for the deck. In order to beat it, you really need to work on getting Laser ko’s on your opponent’s Sableye, and you can use Ghetsis (and Dowsing Machine for Ghetsis) to disrupt them out of any Dark Patches they may Junk Hunt. Not the easiest matchup, but I don’t think it’s a bad matchup by any means.
Just remember if you’re going to play this deck, it should be primarily focused around using Junk Hunt with Sableye. In my games with the deck, I use Junk Hunt on about 95% of my turns and Night Spear/Mind Jack on about 5%. When people ask me how I go about playing the deck, I always say I try to Junk Hunt for the first 20-25 turns of the game before doing anything else. This isn’t exactly true in all matchups or game situations, but I think it’s the general mindset one should take when playing this deck.
I think because of the nature of the deck, it’s a great play for the 50 minute, best of 3 format of Regional Championships. Games are long and drawn out, so it may take 30-40 minutes or so before you win a game with this deck, not really leaving enough time for a game 2. Obviously, the deck can be played in a 30 minute swiss tournament, as I didn’t have issues with ties during the League Challenge I played it at. Just make sure to be willing to call a judge if your opponent is trying to slow play you in such a tournament. As the deck’s main strategy is disruption, it easily can play out a second game of a series to no conclusion.
If you choose to play this deck this weekend, I’ll say it again, believe in Sableye. The question you should be asking yourself with this deck is if you believe you can hit 10 Crushing Hammer heads before your opponent can knock out six Sableye. I strongly believe in my ability to do so with the deck and as a result am a big believer in the strategy. If you don’t have the patience or faith in the deck to be able to accomplish that, then this just isn’t the deck for you.
I hope this helps out anyone interested in playing the deck for the last weekend of Regional Championships, and good luck to anyone attending Florida this weekend!