Headed into the first Regional Championship of the season in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Turbo Darkrai was expected to be one of the best and most popular decks in the format. The deck mostly lived up to the hype, most likely being the most popular deck in the room at around 12-15% of the field (it was a very diverse field) and also seeing lots of success.
The deck garnered the most Championship Points of Day 2 decks, netting 16.25% of this subset of Championship Points, barely edging out Night March, which Michael Pramawat ended up winning the tournament with. The highest placing Turbo Darkrai player was Chris Siakala, who finished 3rd place. Chris entered into the Top 8 as the #1 seed with a 12-2-1 record.
Turbo Darkrai is the deck that I ended up playing for the tournament. I wasn’t sure exactly what the best deck in format was, but as the tournament approached Turbo Darkrai was testing up there, along with Trevenant, and I was much more favorable towards the deck that hit the other one for Weakness. Ultimately I found Turbo Darkrai to have a very strong base power level, while also having enough options to deal with a wide variety of matchups thanks to the extra depth that Darkrai GX added to the deck. Throughout the week or so of testing I did during the lead up to the event, Turbo Darkrai proved resilient and able to win matchups that should be theoretically poor.
At the League Cup we had the weekend before Fort Wayne in which I played Primal Groudon, I gave my friend Michael my Turbo Darkrai list to to test it out in the League Cup to see how well it worked and to see if there were any changes that needed to be made. He ended up making top cut with the deck, losing to M Rayquaza EX to knock him out. After the tournament he gave his feedback on what worked, and what could be replaced by something better, greatly helping in finalizing the list I wanted to play for the deck.
In this article I will go over my tournament with the deck, form a skeleton list for Turbo Darkrai based on the various lists we have for the deck, go over how I personally built the deck, take a look at how others built it and discuss those options, then give some of my thoughts on some of the matchups for the deck.
Here are how my rounds played out:
Round 1 – Katie Bennett – Turbo Darkrai – WW (1-0)
Round 2 – Joey Rojas – Volcanion EX/Turtonator GX – WL (1-0-1)
Round 3 – Keegan Bosch – Greninja BREAK – WW (2-0-1)
Round 4 – Riley Hulbert – Golisopod GX/Seismitoad EX – WW (3-0-1)
Round 5 – Alex Smetana – Trevenant BREAK – WW (4-0-1)
Round 6 – Ross Cawthon – Stoutland BCR/Accelgor DEX – LW (4-0-2)
Round 7 – Will Stevens – Gardevoir GX – LWL (4-1-2)
Round 8 – Austin Zettel – Golisopod GX/Seismitoad EX – LW (4-1-3)
Round 9 – Tyler Chaplin – Turbo Darkrai – WL (4-1-4)
My tournament was very good to start, but fizzled out at the end. I started out the tournament at 4-0-1, beating a mirror match, Greninja BREAK, Seismitoad EX/Golisopod GX, and Trevenant BREAK while tying against a Volcanion EX/Turtonator GX deck.
I had a great opportunity to win against the Volcanion EX/Turtonator GX deck, just needing to draw either my second Hypnotoxic Laser or my Dowsing Machine off a Colress for 13 with 18 cards left in deck. I ended up drawing neither, losing the game the next turn to a Guzma from my opponent after I had promoted my Yveltal XY into the active. I had a very high probability of drawing into the win, so this was an unfortunate tie. However, there is no telling how the rest of the tournament would have played out if I picked up a win there instead of a tie. Ending up in the tie bracket round 2 certainly helped in giving me a good matchup in Greninja, and ending up in the tie bracket most likely helped me avoid Night March, a deck that gave most Turbo Darkrai players lots of trouble throughout the weekend.
The second half of my day started out poorly as I was paired against Ross Cawthon and his Stoutland BCR/Accelgor DEX deck. As Guzma was my counter card to Accelgor DEX, and Stoutland prevented me from playing Supporter cards, I didn’t feel very good about this matchup, but I was able to pull a tie out of this to match to move to 4-0-2.
I would end up punting away my tournament the next round against a Gardevoir GX deck. I ended up in a situation in game 3 where my opponent was down to 1 prize, had a Gallade with 140 damage on it, and a Gardevoir GX. If I knocked out the Gardevoir GX and then N’d to 1, my opponent would have needed to draw a Double Colorless Energy or out to it (or another Gardevoir GX and two Fairy Energy) and also play a Supporter to knock me out with Gallade’s Sensitive Blade. The most likely outcome would be that my opponent whiffs and I use Guzma to knockout the Gallade the next turn, and then the game would end in a tie.
All I had to do was attach to my Darkrai GX, play my Hypnotoxic Laser, and then N, and I would have had a good chance of keeping my tournament alive. Instead I lost focus of what I wanted to do after playing a Max Elixir, and forgot that I did not have 3 Energy on my Darkrai GX yet, and attached to my Shaymin EX on bench to thin out my deck before using N, only to realize what a stupid mistake I made as soon as I released the card from my hand. I probably compounded the mistake further by using Guzma on the Gallade and knocking it out with Dark Pulse, which triggered a Teammates for Double Colorless Energy and another Fairy Energy to OHKO my Darkrai EX.
Some better lines of play I could have made, even after making that mistake were using Hypnotoxic Laser to knock out the Gallade, which would have prevented the Teammates that my opponent appeared to be holding from triggering. I also could have just N’d and put something like a freshly Restored Darkrai GX from the discard pile with 1 Energy into the active and hope that I could survive the two turns of time after time was called in the middle of my turn.
The last two rounds against another Golisopod GX/Seismitoad EX and another mirror were some close games that I had good opportunities to win, but I just didn’t draw the right cards off of late game N’s and wasn’t able to finish out the game 3’s.
Austin, I assume, was playing the same list that Enrique Avila and Cody Walinski took into Day 2 at the tournament. They were playing the non-GX Golisopod which both took prizes easily once setup, was semi-difficult to OHKO, and which only gave up one prize. This matchup typically was a cake walk for Turbo Darkrai, but with this addition the matchup was much closer to even.
The last round against the mirror was particularly bizarre. In game 3, my opponent prized what I think was his only copy of Guzma, while I ran out of VS Seeker to get back Guzma to win the game. I used my last Guzma when my opponent had a 0 card hand and lots of Energy accounted for to bring up a Tapu Lele GX with 0 Energy on it. I only had enough Energy in play to do 160 damage, 10 short of the two prize knockout I needed to finish out the game. I didn’t know he prized the Guzma until after he showed me after the game, so I knew if he got to his Guzma first he could win the game with that. So I went for the move to attempt to put him on a 1 turn clock to respond, by bringing up the Tapu Lele GX and hitting it with Oblivion Wing. I then would just need to play a Professor Sycamore to get another Energy to retreat my Yveltal and use Dark Pulse to win the game.
I don’t remember if he top decked an Energy or Supporter card, but whichever it was it resulted in him getting an Energy to retreat his Tapu Lele GX. From there, I needed to knock out the Sudowoodo he promoted to get into a two prize attacker. Unfortunetely there wasn’t enough time left to power up Darkness Blade, as I couldn’t play any of my draw Supporters at this point without putting myself at risk of decking out, so I had to rely on top decks and I didn’t get the Energy to power up the Darkness Blade, so the game just ended with us having two non-EX Pokemon in the active positions as neither of us could bring an EX or GX active otherwise we would lose the game.
It was a frustrating outcome for a tournament that started so well, but it still ended up being good enough to get me 159th place for Top 256 points. The deck worked great for the entirety of the tournament and it will certainly be one of the top options as I’m choosing a deck for the Daytona Beach Regional Championship.
Turbo Darkrai Deck Skeleton
After the first weekend of Regional Championships, we can now form a proper skeleton list for the new age Turbo Darkrai. To form this skeleton, I took my personal list, and the lists of Chris Siakala, Zach Lesage, and Travion Tiller from the Fort Wayne Regional Championship and took all of the cards that were shared between the four lists.
Here is a skeleton list for Turbo Darkrai:
Pokemon – 9
3 Darkrai EX BKP
Trainers – 25
3 Professor Sycamore
4 Ultra Ball
2 Sky Field
Energy – 12
The deck skeleton for the new Turbo Darkrai list is a 46 card list. This leaves 14 cards that players did not fully agree on that can be used to customize a list to your choosing. The big things to note are that all players went with the Sky Field version, and all players incorporated Darkrai GX into their lists.
In the next sections I will go over how this skeleton can be filled in. I will start by going over my personal list that I used at the Fort Wayne Regional Championship, then I will take a look at the options that Chris Siakala, Zach Lesage, and Travion Tiller went with for their lists for the tournament.
There is quite a bit of variation between the lists, and I think players will want to examine closely how they fill out their personal lists for the deck as we head to Daytona Beach, as some card inclusions can significantly alter certain matchups, so choosing the right finishing touches to your list could greatly change your destiny in Daytona.
Turbo Darkrai Decklist
Here is my personal list for the new Turbo Darkrai. This is the list that I played for the Fort Wayne Regional Championship.
Pokemon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
3-1 Darkrai EX Split
I have always been a big proponent of the 3-1 split in favor of the Darkrai EX from BREAKpoint. The Dark Pulse Darkrai has always been the deck’s main attacker so it never made sense for it to be limited to a 2-of in the deck. In some games you really need to go three Darkrai EX BKP deep, especially if one suffers an early game knockout to an aggressive deck (such as M Rayquaza EX, or the mirror match), so being limited to 2 can be very detrimental.
The Darkrai EX from Dark Explorers is still great in it’s own right, Dark Cloak is an amazing Ability and gives the deck complete mobility over its field. However, you will only prize it in 10% of your games, so it’s not worth playing two copies to limit the times when you prize it. Prizing it definitely sucks, but you can get started with attacking in a game by attaching twice to the active if you start a Dark Pulse Darkrai EX, or by using Guzma to transition into the attacker you want. In games where you start Shaymin EX, you can actually still get off a turn 1 attack, even when you prize it.
I found Darkrai EX to be a much weaker attacker than I had in past formats. I’m not sure if I ever even announced Night Spear during any of my rounds. It’s best utility is in the Night March matchup where you can sometimes use it to have turns where you take 2 or 3 prizes in a turn by sniping a benched Joltik for a double knockout.
2 Darkrai GX
Darkrai GX is a great new addition to the deck and adds layers of depth to the deck’s strategy that not only made the deck more powerful, but which also made the deck more fun to play by adding some extra options and complexity to the deck.
Darkrai GX serves two purposes in this deck:
- Energy Accelerator/Recovery to boost Dark Pulse’s damage.
- Alternative attacker.
It’s role as an Energy Accelerator is very simple. You will use Battle Compressor or Ultra Ball to put it into the discard pile along with Dark Energy, and then use its Restoration Ability to put it onto your bench with a Darkness Energy from your discard pile. Each Darkrai GX can be used to boost your Dark Pulse damage by +20.
Darkrai GX also serves as a very strong attacker. Dead End GX essentially gives the deck one free knockout per a game. In my list, I used a pair of Hypnotoxic Laser to Poison my opponent’s Pokemon to be able to make use of Dead End GX’s effect of knocking out a Pokemon. Other players opted for Malamar EX and its Hyper Hypnosis Ability to be able to access the attack’s effect.
1 Yveltal XY
This was thrown into the deck as a one prize attacker. Its Oblivion Wing attack is the primary attack you will use. It can be used in the early game to help accelerate Energy as well and to setup a 2HKO. Oblivion Wing is probably at its best for getting Energy on your field while also putting some chip damage on the board against Seismitoad EX decks when you’re Item locked.
As the only one prize attacker in the deck, opponent’s being forced to knock it out does nothing beneficial to their position in the prize race and puts them on odd prizes which allows you to setup opponents for N’s to 1.
1 Hoopa EX + 3 Shaymin EX
This deck is called Turbo Darkrai, so I think it’s best built with a turbo engine. Hoopa EX pretty much completes most of your attacking setup off of a single Ultra Ball, typically grabbing you two Darkrai EX (usually a 1-1 split of BKP/DEX, unless you start DEX then you want 2 BKP), and then a Shaymin EX to draw some cards.
Having 3 Shaymin EX available gives you two Shaymin EX’s to use during your first turn burst, and then another Shaymin EX to be used later in the game. It also ensures you access to having at least two Shaymin EX (barring prizing) in games where you start Shaymin EX.
While it didn’t happen very often, I’ve definitely used all three Shaymin EX on on the first turn of the game to see tons of cards from my deck.
With my draw engine, I went for as much consistency as I could include by playing 4 Professor Sycamore, and then 2 Colress, which is very strong for this deck because it likes to load its bench with lots of Pokemon with Sky Field in play.
I only played 1 copy of N, which I think is fine. This card is subpar compared to Professor Sycamore and Colress in most situations where you’re trying to setup, but it’s a necessary inclusion as you will sometimes fall behind in a game and need to use it to disrupt your opponent, and it is the best disruption the game has to offer. Other times, it can be better than Colress when you have a small bench, and better than Professor Sycamore in situations where you’ve drawn into too many valuable resources that you don’t want to discard.
The goal of the deck, however, is to go ahead in games, so I’ve built the deck mostly around being able to see as many cards as possible in the early turns of the game.
The deck plays 4 VS Seeker to be able to use its Supporter cards, even the 1-of’s, multiple times throughout a game.
With Dark Cloak Darkrai EX in the deck, I think going with 2 Guzma over including any Lysandre is the correct play, as in most situations you will be able to use Guzma to no negative effect. However, in games where you prize Dark Cloak Darkrai EX, Guzma can still be the better option by giving you an option to switch into your desired attacker.
I felt like two was the correct count for this, as it lets you see it when you want it often enough. This is in particular important against Trevenant BREAK decks, as if you don’t have enough options for breaking the lock, if you go second you may never have the opportunity to get setup and get quickly swept out of the game.
1 Hex Maniac
- Prevent other decks from using Abilities such as Scoundrel Ring, Stellar Guidance, Setup, and Wonder Tag to aide in their setup on the first turn of the game.
- Prevent Energy accelerators such as Eelektrik NVI, Bronzong NXD, Blastoise BCR, Vikavolt SUM, and Gardevoir GX from being able to accelerate Energy to power up a new attacker.
- Shutoff Virizion EX’s Verdant Wind and Comfey GRI’s Flower Shield Abilities, which prevent Pokemon from being affected by Special Conditions, allowing you to Poison Pokemon to be able to make use of the effect of Dead End GX.
- Prevent Greninja BREAK from using Giant Water Shuriken.
- Shutoff Marshadow GX’s Shadow Hunt Ability, preventing it from copying attacks from the discard pile and effectively stopping it from being able to attack in the decks that use it.
- Prevent Fire decks from being able to use Steam Up with Volcanion EX, limiting their attack damage and potentially causing them to miss their knockout math.
4 Max Elixir/4 Dark Patch
The deck runs off of having Energy on the field, so I think that it’s best to play maximum counts of these cards to maximize the amount of Energy I can accelerate onto the field with the deck, making it easier to power up additional attackers.
2 Battle Compressor
This serves a few purposes in this deck. It can be used to pitch Darkrai GX’s into the discard pile to get them in there so you can use their Restoration Ability. It also gives you an option for putting Darkness Energy into the discard pile to be able to accelerate them with Restoration or Dark Patch.
2 Hypnotoxic Laser
In my list this is our out for inflicting Pokemon with Special Conditions to be able to make use of Darkrai GX’s Dead End GX attack. It can also be used as a pseudo-PlusPower giving you 10 more damage reach with your attacks. If you flip heads on the sleep flip, you can also use Dark Head with Darkrai EX for the boosted damage amount, it will do 170 damage after the Poison Damage. This can be brought up to 180 damage with a Fighting Fury Belt attached.
3 Sky Field
The deck is built around using the Hoopa EX/Sky Field engine, so I chose to go with three Sky Field to make sure that I would consistently see it early in the game to make sure I could consistently pull off explosive turn 1’s with the deck. This gives you both the room to fit all of your attackers, your support Pokemon for getting setup, and then any Darkrai GX that you want to finish filling out your bench.
The great thing about Sky Field with this deck is that any deck playing any other Stadium is forced to allow us to discard Pokemon’s 6-8 from our bench.
1 Parallel City
In cases where our opponent only plays Field Blower or chooses to not play down their Stadium Card, then we have a single copy of Parallel City to allow us to bounce Sky Field and get rid of your Shaymin EX.
Parallel City also has a lot of extra utility for this deck beyond bouncing Sky Field, allowing you to limit your opponent’s bench, disrupt other Sky Field decks like M Rayquaza EX or Rainbow Road, and reduce attack damage of Pokemon such as Seismitoad EX, Golisopod GX, Turtonator GX, among other Grass, Fire, and Water Pokemon.
Dowsing Machine is a very strong Ace Spec for this variant of the deck as there are lots of great Items to re-use throughout a game. You can use Dowsing Machine to grab another Max Elixir or Dark Patch for additional acceleration. It can also be used as another Supporter out, effectively giving you a 5th VS Seeker.
As far as this list is concerned, it acts as a potential 3rd out for Hypnotoxic Laser if you were forced to play one early in the game. It can also be used to get back Parallel City so you can use it’s effect twice throughout a game, which can be pivotal against the Sky Field decks.
12 Darkness Energy
This seems to be the standard amount of Energy that is being played in modern Turbo Darkrai decks. I think this is mostly the minimum number the deck can have, and it’s almost necessary to only play this amount to be able to fit everything else that you need into the deck.
For the most part, Max Elixir usually hit an Energy when you play them, but sometimes you will whiff, and 13 or 14 Energy lists will have these whiffs much less often, but even at 12 Energy it’s not super common to see it happen, usually only happening if you end up with a bunch of Darkness Energy in hand or prize a bunch of them.
Fort Wayne List Dump
The following are some of the top performing Turbo Darkrai lists from the Fort Wayne Regional Championship.
Chris Siakala’s Turbo Darkrai (Fort Wayne – 3rd Place)
Pokemon – 13
3 Darkrai EX BKP
Trainers – 34
3 Professor Juniper
4 Ultra Ball
2 Sky Field
Energy – 13
Zach Lesage’s Turbo Darkrai (Fort Wayne – 14th Place)
Pokemon – 12
3 Darkrai EX BKP
Trainers – 36
3 Professor Juniper
4 Ultra Ball
2 Sky Field
Energy – 12
Travion Tiller’s Turbo Darkrai (Fort Wayne – 19th Place)
Pokemon – 12
2 Darkrai EX BKP
Trainers – 36
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Ultra Ball
3 Sky Field
Energy – 12
With the Fort Wayne Regional Championship, there were a few different variations of this deck on display that showed the full suite of options available to this deck. In this section I will go over some of these different options that I didn’t go with, but some other players went with for this past weekend and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
3rd Darkrai GX and 3rd Battle Compressor
Among the Day 2 participants, two of the players chose to go with 3 Battle Compressor and 3 Darkrai GX. Chris Siakala, who finished 3rd place overall played this in his list of the deck, and Travion Tiller, who finished 19th overall also went with the 3/3 line for these cards.
Zach Lesage, who finished 14th place, only played 2 Darkrai GX in his list, but chose to go with 3 Battle Compressor.
Having the extra Darkrai GX gives you the opportunity to boost damage one further Energy on Dark Pulse because of the extra Darkrai GX. The extra Battle Compressor just make it so that you see them a little bit more consistently in the early game, making lists with 3 a little more consistent at getting Darkrai GX into the discard pile early.
2nd Darkrai EX Dark Explorers
As long as Turbo Darkrai has existed, there has been some division among players on whether they should go for a 3/1 or 2/2 split of the Darkrai EX’s. I think the 2nd Darkrai EX from Dark Explorers is incorrect, especially in the context of this format. With Guzma, we have another option for moving Pokemon around our field, so there is less of a need for Dark Cloak in the game as there has been in the past.
With that said, even in past formats I would argue against playing the 2nd copy as Darkrai EX BKP is your main attacker and limiting yourself to only two copies of your main attacker seems strange. In 2/2 split builds I’ve seen so many games be lost from the player either prizing a BKP and only having one for the game, or by not being able to go three deep and being too limited in their damage output.
This was included in only Zach’s deck, and this is a somewhat risky card in the current meta. Trainers’ Mail does make the deck a little bit more consistent than the pure Supporter builds, but it comes at the cost of giving the deck a slightly worse Garbodor and Item Lock matchup compared to playing extra draw Supporters. This card provides a trade off between consistency and the strength of your Garbodor matchup.
Garbodor certainly had a presence, but it wasn’t an overbearing presence. Personally, I didn’t play against a single Garbodor deck at Fort Wayne, so if I went with Trainers’ Mail, I wouldn’t have suffered for it during Day 1 with the matchups I received.
When players first started building Turbo Darkrai EX lists after the release of Burning Shadows, I think it was common early on for players to be using Darkrai GX solely as an Energy accelerator and not as an integral attacking option for the deck. However, as players played more with Turbo Darkrai, as well as other decks such as Yveltal EX, which also incorporated Darkrai GX into it, players began to realize how good Dead End GX was and made sure that they could use the attack in their Turbo Darkrai lists.
There are essentially two camps for how this should be accomplished, and these are the Hypnotoxic Laser camp, and the Malamar EX camp. There are some other options for inflicting Status Conditions, but I think these were the only two that got any serious play in Fort Wayne.
Malamar EX may put the opponent’s Active Pokemon to sleep when you attach an Energy card from the hand to Malamar EX to trigger its Hyper Hypnosis Ability. This was the option that Chris and Zach went with in their lists for the deck.
The pros for running Malamar EX are that you can use it to trigger Dead End GX when you are Item Locked, that you can use it to get around Omega Barrier, and that it can be searched out early and put on the field early, and then you’re much less draw dependent, as you only need to draw an Energy (which are plentiful in this deck) to trigger Hyper Hypnosis to make use of Dead End GX.
The cons for running Malamar EX are that it can be shutoff with Ability Lock, such as Garbotoxin or Silent Lab, it can sometimes be difficult to find room for Malamar EX on your bench, and that it diverts Energy attachments away from attackers that you may want to be powering up.
Hypnotoxic Laser, on the other hand, provides an Item based solution for making use of Dead End GX. Travion was the highest placing player this weekend using Hypnotoxic Laser for Dead End GX.
The pros for Hypnotoxic Laser is that it can be played against Ability Lock and that it can be used as a pseudo-PlusPower in situations where you’re using attacks other than Dead End GX.
The cons for running Hypnotoxic Laser is that it makes you more draw dependent for triggering Dead End GX and that it can’t be used when Item Locked or used to Poison Pokemon with Omega Barrier.
Mew was the non-EX of choice in Zach’s list for the deck. Mew is a solid non-EX option for the deck, giving it a good starter that lets you more consistently transition into a turn 1 attack when you start it because it has free retreat. It also can serve as a powerful attacker, being able to copy Darkrai EX’s Dark Pulse, but only giving up a single prize card when it is knocked out.
Something else this card provides is an alternate type. This can be somewhat useful for knocking out Psychic weak Pokemon early in the game. In the context of the meta game, Mew can be important for hitting your damage numbers against Gardevoir GX as Gardevoir GX does not resist Mew’s Psychic typing like it does Darkrai’s Dark typing.
Tapu Lele GX/Jirachi EX
I built my deck to be able to draw as many cards as possible, going with a 3rd Shaymin EX to be extra aggressive. Another approach to take for the deck is to give up some of the raw draw power in favor of adding in Abilities that let you convert Ultra Ball into a Supporter card. This brings some extra consistency to the deck by letting guarantee yourself a Supporter card. While Shaymin EX will draw into Supporters for you most of the time, sometimes it fails to do so, so being able to use one of these Abilities to directly search for a Supporter is more consistent.
There are cases to be made for both Pokemon going into the deck. Tapu Lele GX has greater HP and is harder to knock out, and it can also serve as a backup attacker. Jirachi EX, on the other hand, is very fragile and easy to knockout, but you can search it out with a Scoundrel Ring allowing it to be searched out while not harming the rest of your setup.
I would guess that this was played in around 1/4 of the Turbo Darkrai lists at Fort Wayne and was also included in Chris Siakala’s Top 4 list. This was a very popular card overall, I think the last 5 rounds of the tournament all of my opponent’s were sporting a copy.
It was a pretty good call for the weekend with almost every Turbo Darkrai list sporting the Sky Field engine and expecting to be able to paly down a large bench full of Shaymin EX and Hoopa EX. It also is great for boosting the deck’s matchup against M Rayquaza EX and Rainbow Road, no longer popular decks, but still some things you may run into every now and then in Expanded.
I’m not sure how effective it is in the Turbo Darkrai mirror. If it’s not out on the field on turn 1, the opponent can load up a big bench on turn 1, and then when Sudowoodo comes down it can actually help the opponent by discarding liabilities, such as Shaymin EX, off their bench. If Sudowoodo comes into play on turn 1, Turbo Darkrai can still function fairly well, even without playing down a bunch of Shaymin EX and Hoopa EX
While Dowsing Machine was the most popular Ace Spec in Turbo Darkrai lists at Fort Wayne, you can’t go wrong with Computer Search either. Playing Computer Search in place of Dowsing Machine takes away a versatile recursion option for the deck, but it does make the deck more consistent as Computer Search gives you another early game draw out, something Dowsing Machine isn’t consistently able to do. Computer Search was the Ace Spec of choice for Zach and his Turbo Darkrai list.
Field Blower is always a solid inclusion in pretty much any deck. It gives the deck an option to remove Tool cards from the opponent, which can be important for getting knockouts against stuff with Fighting Fury Belt or for removing a Life Dew against Sableye/Garbodor to take a prize. It can also be used to get rid of your opponent’s Stadium Card, or perhaps more importantly to discard your Sky Field, which gives you an option to bounce the Shaymin EX off of your bench and into the discard pile.
Muscle Band/Choice Band
These are options for boosting your damage output. Choice Band gives the deck the most damage reach, although that’s only against EX and GX Pokemon. Muscle Band gives you a 10 less damage than that, but can boost damage against non-EX Pokemon as well.
What is best between these two cards and Fighting Fury Belt most likely comes down to the metagame, as I could see each of them having different uses depending on what decks are seeing play.
This was included in Chris Siakala’s list and it’s a sneakily good inclusion. Not only does Escape Rope give the deck another switching option, but it also gives the deck an option for switching the opponent’s active without using a Guzma. There will be some game situations where you can’t knockout the active or the active is a non-EX and isn’t conducive to winning the prize trade, so Escape Rope can potentially be used in such situations to bring up something off the opponent’s Active that can be knocked out for two prizes.
On the surface, this should be a very easy matchup, but with the release of Necrozma GX the matchup is now much closer. If the Trevenant deck can get off three successful Silent Fear, Necrozma GX can potentially end the game with Black Ray GX. With that said, Turbo Darkrai will win this matchup most of the time.
When going first, Turbo Darkrai almost never loses this matchup. You get a turn of Item cards and you can use this turn to overload your field with Energy to make it impossible for them to remove enough Energy with Crushing Hammer or Team Flare Grunt. As long as you’re attaching more Energy as the game goes on, with a good turn one you should never miss an attack in the game.
When you lose the coin flip and go second, this is where the matchup gets a little murkier. In general, I’ve found that the amount of outs you play to break the lock impacts how often you win the matchup. The two primary outs that players are currently using are Guzma and Hex Maniac. You can use Guzma to bring something that isn’t an Item locking Trevenant from your opponent’s bench, and since Trevenant is no longer active you’re free to use Items. With Hex Maniac, you play it, and Trevenant loses its Forest Curse Ability for a turn.
I think if you have 3 outs (2 Guzma/1 Hex Maniac) you will almost always win. If you only have 2 outs (2 Guzma or 1 Guzma/1 Hex Maniac) you are favored, but you will find yourself losing a decent amount of the time. I think with only a single out (1 Guzma), you are too unlikely to see it, so you most likely don’t break the lock when going second and Trevenant can typically win just off of blocking you from playing Items for the whole game.
With my list, Parallel City is very strong in the matchup. You can use it to discard damaged Pokemon, which can get off the field potential prizes that your opponent is hoping to score with Necrozma GX.
Night March/Marshadow GX
In theory, this matchup should be a fairly close, but in practice it seems like Night March has a very large edge in the matchup. I think Night March is probably favored in this matchup, but it should be closer than it ends up playing out in most tournament matches. I think a lot of players aren’t very good at playing against Night March, which gifts a more favorable matchup spread for Night March than it should have.
The big change in the matchup from previous formats is Marshadow GX, which is Fighting type and which can use Night March. This gives Night March an easy option for knocking out a Darkrai EX. I don’t think the Marshadow GX shifts the matchup that greatly, as it doesn’t create any prize advantage for the Night March player as it gives up two prizes itself when it is knocked out. All it does in the matchup is give Night March an option to OHKO a Darkrai EX with fewer Night March Pokemon in the discard pile.
Turbo Darkrai has a decent amount of counter play against Night March decks. If Night March misses OHKO’s in the early game you can easily retreat your Darkrai EX with Dark Cloak into a different one with no damage on it. As many turns as you can get where they’re missing OHKO’s, the more likely you are to win the matchup. Fighting Fury Belt can be used to make it more difficult to take these early game knockouts as well, and then you can use Parallel City to clear Darkrai EX’s with 180+ damage on them off your field so that they don’t become knockouts when your opponent plays a Field Blower.
Darkrai EX from Dark Explorers has the potential to take 2 or 3 prizes in a single turn by taking a knockout on a benched Joltik with the snipe from Night Spear. You also have Yveltal XY which can take a OHKO on either Joltik or Pumpkaboo while only giving up a single prize when your opponent knocks it out.
Hex Maniac can also be very strong in this matchup. It can be used on the first turn of the game to prevent Night March from going off on their first turn. Later in the game, you can use it on turns when you anticipate your opponent wants to go Marshadow GX to shutoff its Shadow Hunt Ability and make it so they willl have to attack with something else.
Above all, the most important thing in this matchup is to make sure that you’re taking a knockout every single turn. This matchup is a true race to six prizes, and it can generally come down to whichever deck flinches first. You should attempt to force your opponent to take four knockouts in order to win the game (Yveltal XY + 3 EX/GX Pokemon). This is important, as you can actually win the game in 3-4 attacks in most normal games with Darkrai. Since you can win the game yourself in so few attacks, any missed OHKO’s by the Night March player can be devastating for their chances to win the game. These can occur either from the Night March player not getting enough Pokemon in the discard pile or by missing a Double Colorless Energy to attach for turn later in the game (or even early game too).
If you’re having a lot of trouble with this matchup, I’d recommend trying out an Oricorio in the deck. Oricorio can be strong in the matchup as it can snipe a Shaymin EX on the bench for two easy prizes, or knock out multiple Night March Pokemon, which can swing a game. It seems like Karen is a default counter among players, but it never seems to work at countering Night March. Night March does a pretty solid job of ramping its damage back up, and if you’re not N’ing, they will have lots of resources in hand to get back Battle Compressor and get back to OHKO range.
In my testing, no Garbodor variant ever gave me much trouble in testing. It’s fairly easy to setup an attacker with playing only a few Item cards if you put your mind to it. This will limit Garbodor’s viability as an attacker in the early stages of the game, and can make it miss OHKO’s later in the game.
Darkrai GX is in particularly great in these matchups as it can clear an early game threat with Dead End GX (such as an Espeon GX or Necrozma GX), and then it’s also very effective at knocking out Garbodor, as it does 130 damage and Garbodor has 120 HP.
Like against Trevenant, Parallel City can be clutch for negating an opponent’s attempt at using Necrozma GX’s Black Ray GX to spread to put themselves in a winning position.
What generally happens in the matchup is that the Darkrai player is able to get ahead on prizes while playing minimal Items, and then they can freely play down Items to setup multiple attackers and by the time Trashalanche is hitting for OHKO numbers it doesn’t matter as the Darkrai player has attackers setup for the rest of the game.
This matchup is pretty close to 50/50 assuming both players are playing optimally. It would take playing too many games to figure out which deck truly has the advantage, as this matchup tends to have a lot of variance involved.
As the Darkrai player, the way you typically win the game is by knocking out something small early game (Ralts, Alolan Vulpix, or Diancie) and then a Gallade. Your next two prizes come from knocking out a Gardevoir GX with Dead End GX, and then your last two prizes come from knocking out a Tapu Lele GX (there will almost always be a Tapu Lele GX on the Gardevoir players bench as they are pretty heavily reliant on it to run the Brigette setup engine).
The only issue with this line of play is that Gardevoir GX has counter play to this with Wonder Energy, which prevents effects of attacks, which means Dead End GX would not knock out a Gardevoir GX with a Wonder Energy attached. This is an issue as with 230 HP and Darkness resistance, it’s nearly impossible for a Darkrai EX to OHKO a Gardevoir GX, which gives them opportunities to pull the prize trade back in their favor, and successfuly blocking a Dead End GX will mostly do it, although sometimes the Darkrai player can get so far ahead that a 2HKO is fine.
With only 1 or 2 Wonder Energy in most lists (with 2 being the most common), it’s not a given that the Gardevoir player finds the Wonder Energy when they want it, so in a decent amount of games you will be able to use Dead End GX against them.
To improve the matchup, your best option is to tech in either a Xerosic or Enhanced Hammer. Xerosic has added utility as a Tool removal card and it can be searched out via Battle Compressor into VS Seeker and be re-used with VS Seeker. I personally would favor the Enhanced Hammer as it’s an Item card that would still allow me to use some other Supporter card during my turn. You can get multiple uses out of Enhanced Hammer with Dowsing Machine even.
A more intense option would be to play a build of Turbo Darkrai with Choice Band and Mew in metas with higher than normal amounts of Gardevoir in them. Choice Band allows the deck to more easily reach high damage numbers and Mew is not resisted by Gardevoir GX giving it an easier time for scoring a OHKO against a Gardevoir GX.
Primal Groudon EX
This matchup is variable based on what type of Turbo Darkrai list you play and can be either very good or pretty bad. The Hypnotoxic Laser variant will almost always lose to a competent Primal Groudon player. Not only are they able to OHKO all of your Pokemon with Primal Groudon EX (not even needing a Stadium in play for your Fighting weak Pokemon), but since your attackers are all weak to Fighting they don’t need to actually setup a 2nd Primal Groudon EX in the matchup because Regirock can also OHKO Darkrai EX’s.
Versions playing Malamar EX will have a very easy time beating Primal Groudon, however. They can use Hyper Hypnosis to put a Primal Groudon EX to sleep and then use Darkrai GX to knock it out with Dead End GX. Dead End GX gets around Focus Sash, and clearing 4 Energy off the field at once is too much for Priaml Groudon to overcome.
Golisopod GX Variants
Turbo Darkrai has a generally favorable matchup against this deck. The deck can build up to getting 2HKO’s or even OHKO’s on Seismitoad EX’s very quickly, which prevents that line of play form being overly impactful.
The most successful variants of this decks were straight variants not playing the LaserBank combo, which limits its damage output to less than a OHKO on a Darkrai EX or Darkrai GX. This can cause a late game situation where Darkrai EX is taking OHKO’s on Golisopod GX, while Golisopod GX are forced to take 2HKO’s which provides ample opportunity for Darkrai EX to turn around the game.
Golisopod GX does have their Crossing Cut GX turn, but this isn’t always reliable. Fighting Fury Belt and Parallel City both provide options for making this attack miss the numbers it needs to hit for a OHKO.
Dead End GX is also great for taking out a Golisopod GX. Lots of lists were playing Virizion EX to prevent the Dead End GX play, but the best remedy this play was to Guzma up the Virizion EX (which has a softer 170 HP) and knock that out with Dark Pulse, opening up being able to use Dead End GX later in the game.
One option that Golisopod decks have and which was in the Wisconsin players’ Golisopod GX lists at Fort Wayne is Golisopod GRI. This provides an annoying non-EX attacker for their deck that can take OHKO’s and swing a game around if the Darkrai player didn’t get the best draws. It’s not always reliable as it needs to evolve and also get two turns of attachment to itself, but once it gets setup it’s most likely taking two prizes per a turn until it’s knocked out.
I don’t think this card flips the matchup by any stretch, but it definitely helps move the matchup closer to the middle, while without it Darkrai tends to win in blowouts.
This matchup is incredibly easy to win. You will typically take a knockout every single turn of the game, the only exception can be early game if they start Talonflame, which sometimes requires a 2HKO), shrinking the game down to just a few turns. In most normal games where Turbo Darkrai draws well it will setup multiple attackers, making it somewhat N proof in the matchup and these Pokemon will usually have enough Energy on them to where they will OHKO everything for the rest of the game.
Hex Maniac allows you to stop them from using Giant Water Shuriken, and if you shut that off for just one or two turns it will be near impossible for the Greninja player to mount the comeback they’re always needing to make.
Turtonator GX/Volcanion EX
This matchup is super close and can go either way, but probably favors Turtonator GX ever so slightly. The matchup essentially boils down to a series of OHKO’s between the two decks. Turtonator GX’s edge in the matchup that it is the more consistent deck, so it will most likely win most games that Turbo Darkrai gets off to a slow start. The advantage that Turbo Darkrai has in the matchup is that it can use Hex Maniac to potentially force them to miss the OHKO’s with Bright Flame.
One thing to note on this is that Sam Chen’s list from Fort Wayne plays Muscle Band, which allows Turtonator GX to OHKO a Darkrai EX, even when Ability locked. If a different Tool, such as Fighting Fury Belt were played, then this wouldn’t be the case. However, they still need to draw the Muscle Band to do so, and even if they have it, Fighting Fury Belt and Parallel City can be used to make them fall short of the OHKO.
Overall, Turbo Darkrai has a terrific matchup spread. It has a few favorable matchups and lots of 50/50 matchups, which makes it well positioned to do well in any tournament that it’s played in. Even it’s worst matchups among the meta decks is probably around 40/60, which makes a matchup like Night March still very winnable, especially when playing against lower skill players playing such a deck.
Darkrai GX has successfully upped the power level of Turbo Darkrai and it’s difficult seeing this falling out of Tier 1 for the near future.