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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 New Pokemon Cards of 2016

#8 - Darkrai-EX

Date Reviewed:
Dec. 21, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.75
Expanded: 3.75
Limited: 4.13

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


Darkrai-EX is an interesting beast in his own right. His attacks are both pretty powerful with the right set-up. Dark Pulse hits for 20 damage for every Dark Energy on all of your Pokemon, allowing it to stack up to really high levels, though not usually so quickly without some help from cards like Yveltal and Dark Patch in Expanded. Then there's Dark Head, which doubles its base damage output based simply on whether or not the opponent's Active Pokemon is Asleep. 

On his own though, Darkrai-EX wouldn't be that great compared to his granddaddy from Dark Explorers. HTL is probably one of the easier ways in Expanded to get a Pokemon to fall Asleep, and that's just a 50/50 coin toss that tacks on Poison in this instance. However, two cards came out in the same set as Darkrai-EX that built up the entire Sleep deck archetype: Hypno and All-Night Party. Hypno could put both Active Pokemon to Sleep, meaning you could use All-Night Party to remove that Sleep, heal 30 damage, and then hit for 160 damage using Dark Head. It's a surprisingly powerful combo. 

New age Darkrai-EX Sleep decks have been around and about this format, and chances are they'll continue to pop up from time to time, especially if we get more Dark Energy support. Darkrai-EX himself may even see play simply for Dark Pulse, giving him a bit of longevity outside of the deck. He may not be as dominating as his former self was, but at least he's not unplayable without some sort of evolutionary trait. 

...ya freaking Mega Evos. 


Standard: 3.5/5 (all things considered, he's done really well for himself) 

Expanded: 3.5/5 (perhaps post-rotation boosted his performance once Night March was out of the way) 

Limited:  4/5 (I mean, who'd have thought Sleep was going to be a big Status Condition in any deck?) 

Arora Notealus: I actually had a pretty sour opinion on Darkrai-EX the first time I reviewed him back in BREAKpoint. The combination of cards needed to make him work seemed like a decent investment, and Dark Pulse without the Energy acceleration was just as effective as other versions of the attack that suffered the same problem, like M Gardevoir-EX's Brilliant Arrow which did the same thing for slightly more damage for every Fairy Energy. But hey, deck builders can always prove me wrong, I'm just a guy reviewing cards after all. 

Next Time: Time to BREAK into a card that did something crazy for a while.


Our eighth most important card of 2016 is Darkrai-EX (XY: BREAKpoint 74/122, 118/122), originally reviewed here.  Not in our top 10 countdown for that set, just as a regular ol’ review.  Why is that a big deal?  This card was an important part of half the Top 8 for the Junior Division Top 8 at the 2016 World Championship (including first place), three of the Top 8 finishers for the Masters Division at Origins 2016 (again including first place), and a fourth place finish for the U.S. 2016 National Championship.  Okay, okay, so it isn’t like this won the Masters Division of the 2016 World Championship.  How is it doing right now?  It started strong post rotation but has been a bit up and down from what I can tell.  Factor in some of the cards that did make the  XY: BREAKpoint top 10 countdown that saw even less play (or flat out bombed) and you can see why I’m starting this review off with a mea culpa.  I just did not see the potential in this card.  So… why did it prove so good? 

Being a Darkness Type did not hurt; during its time being legal, exploiting Darkness Weakness has actually proven relevant thanks to Trevenant BREAK decks and Night March decks; Darkness Weakness only shows up on certain Psychic Types but the happen to play big roles in those decks.  Darkness Resistance actually can be a bit of a problem; it is only found on the Fairy Type and after some false starts, seems like they are getting some good, winning decks out of that Type, specifically where at least one Fairy Type is the main attacker (and thus up front), instead of being a Bench-sitter with another Type up front swinging away.  The Darkness Type is home to some great attackers, some good support Pokémon, some decent tricks for [D] Energy, etc. plus explicit Darkness Type Pokémon support like Dark Patch and… well Dark Patch is the only one that really matters anymore, but Item based Energy acceleration from the discard pile is potent.  There are cards with effects that specifically counter Darkness Type Pokémon and… they aren’t worth using, so that’s another plus for the Type.  Darkrai-EX is also a Basic Pokémon, which remains the best Stage because it’s the fastest to hit the field, the easiest to work into a deck, and all the other benefits I usually spell out.  180 HP isn’t special, but it is the higher of the two typical amounts for Basic Pokémon-EX and enough to often survive an attack.  Fighting Weakness is horribly dangerous, and the only really bad thing in this section.  Psychic Resistance isn’t amazing, but it can come in handy from time to time.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is high enough you prefer not paying it but low enough you can without taking a huge hit long term. 

Then comes the cards attacks.  When we first reviewed Darkrai-EX, I focused on its second attack “Dark Head”.  It costs [DCC] and does a solid 80 damage, plus its effect adds another 80 damage if the opponent’s Active is Asleep.  160 for three is great, needing just a small +10 to +30 bonus to take out most things short of Pokémon with some form of protection, HP buff, Wailord-EX, and Mega Evolutions.  That may sound like a lot, but these are typical exceptions for most “OHKO” strategies.  There are combos to help with inflicting Sleep, but it turns out there is a much better approach to using Darkrai-EX: “Dark Pulse”.  Dark Pulse costs just [CC] to do 20 damage plus another 20 for each [D] Energy you have in play.  That means if you pay for the attack with two basic Darkness Energy, you’ll hit for at least 60 damage.  That’s pretty good for two Energy, but why would that make Darkrai-EX so great?  The nature of the game: combos and the fact that setting up additional attackers is its own reward.  With cards like Dark Patch (Expanded only), Max Elixir, and Yveltal (XY 78/146; XY: Black Star Promos XY06; Generations RC16/RC32; XY: Steam Siege 65/114) you can try and get multiple Energy into play fairly quickly.  Then of course there are the Darkrai-EX/Dragons variants.  You see, we have potent Dragon Types like Giratina-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 57/98, 93/98) that are partnered with Darkrai-EX.  Why?  You can then drop a Double Dragon Energy from hand for an additional +40 damage, as it will provide two units of Energy that count as all Types once it is attached to a Dragon Type. 

In Expanded play, there is an older Darkrai-EX to consider as well, Darkrai-EX (BW: Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108; BW: Black Star Promos BW46; BW: Legendary Treasures 88/113).  It has the same stats as today’s Darkrai-EX, but the Ability “Dark Cloak” and the attack “Night Spear”.  Dark Cloak zeroes out the Retreat Cost of any of your Pokémon with a source of [D] Energy attached, while Night Spear costs [DDC] and does a solid 90 damage to the opponent’s Active and 30 to one of his or her Benched Pokémon.  The original Darkrai-EX was one of the dominant attackers when it first released, but as we got more and more strong Pokémon-EX, it went from being a deck focus to a more supporting role.  When circumstances favor it, though, it can still be a great attacker and you probably should include at least one when running today’s Darkrai-EX in Expanded.  Getting back to Darkrai-EX (XY: BREAKpoint 74/122, 118/122), it can work well in either Standard or Expanded play, though the latter is likely to run it a bit differently due to the increased options provided by the card pool, like Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym to both create a chance for Sleep and bumping up your effective damage output for the turn.  If you get the chance to participate in a Limited event still using XY: BREAKpoint boosters, this is a great pull.  You’ll want your deck to be heavy on Darkness Energy, but you’ve got the choice between running several compatible Pokémon or just focusing on Darkrai-EX itself.  As always, the latter carries a greater risk (your opponent wins if they KO your lone Pokémon), but a greater reward as well (guaranteed Darkrai-EX start). 


Standard: 4/5 

Expanded: 4/5 

Limited: 4.25/5 

Summary: Darkrai-EX isn’t strong enough to be your true, solo main attacker, but can form a dynamic duo with multiple strong partners like the aforementioned Giratina-EX, Yveltal-EX, etc.  If you went back and read my original CotD review for it, you’ll notice that these scores are just a tiny bit higher than I gave it originally; at its height it deserved even more than a four-out-of-five, but for now it’s a great attacker in its own deck that plays well with others. 

Darkrai-EX earned seven voting points from reviewers’ lists and… it was all from me ranking it so high on my own, personal list at fourth place.  That was a bit of an overreach, but not unlike Yveltal-EX I suspect Darkrai-EX is going to be that attacker that will wax and wane in effectiveness, but probably isn’t ever going to be bad unless a flat out replacement for it is released.  That being said, eighth place is a respectable finish for Darkrai-EX; after all right now it is competitive but doesn’t appear to be one of the current top decks.  It tied with another card, which we will review tomorrow, and is just a point below Friday’s finisher as well.

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