– Dark Explorers

Date Reviewed:
November 4, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: N/A
Expanded: 4.25 (Soon to be N/A)
Limited: 3.75
Theme: 2.75
Limited: 3.75

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

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

Sableye from BW Dark Explorers are one of the cards that’s going to be banned from Expanded. This card has been reviewed several times:

Sableye’s Junk Hunt attack is the reason why this card got so much recognition. For the cost of a single Dark energy, you get to grab 2 item cards from your discard pile onto your hand, ready to be used on your next turn (unless your hand gets shuffled). Some might think that they might only get to do that once because Sableye is more likely to get KOed due to its 70 HP, but Junk Hunt has an incredible effect that isn’t seen much on other cards. Needing to grab Catcher for an immediate switcheroo? Max Potion for massive healing? Hypnotoxic Laser for further annoyance? Junk Hunt has it covered!

With Expanded now having so many great item cards to abuse (far more than I can list here), despite the drawbacks Junk Hunt might bring (like getting shuffled by N or Judge), the format finally had enough and banned Sableye, but it is still legal in the Legacy format. It will still get some amount of praise based on the three reviews as being one of the best opening starter next to Smeargle from HS Undaunted. Due to first turn rules, the player starting with Sableye will really need to go second so that it can attack. As for Smeargle, it doesn’t really matter if you go first or not as it’s Pokemon Power can peek into your opponent’s hand and even activate Professor Juniper or even N and then proceed to retreat for free if Skyarrow Bridge is intact.

Sableye is in the Raiders Theme Deck with Cofagrigus being the main star of the deck. Sableye’s Junk Hunt retrieves item cards, and Pokémon tools also count as item cards as well. With 2 Dark Claw, 1 Eviolite, 1 Rocky Helmet, and 1 EXP Share contained in that Theme Deck, Cofagrigus’s Chuck attack could potentially do 200 damage, but the strategy is undermined by having to spend several turns using Junk Hunt to grab those Pokémon Tools from the discard pile. I think it’d be too slow to set up and there’s no Pokémon-EX in the Theme format to get the prize trade in your favor. In Limited, it also struggles to do its job as Confuse Ray is the only damaging attack and Junk Hunt may not be useful enough depending on what item cards you pulled. It might benefit from Dark Claw though.


  • Standard: N/A
  • Expanded: Banned (would be 4.5/5)
  • Limited: 3.5/5
  • Theme: 2.5/5
  • Legacy: 3.5/5
Otaku Avatar

The oldest card from the newestadditions to the Expanded Format’s Banned List is Sableye (BW – Dark Explorers 62/108).  We first reviewed it on July 20, 2012: simply put, we liked it, and it was already experiencing competitive success at this point.  The only reason the average scores are so low is… I put mine in the wrong order.  I still was trying to review for the Unlimited Format at the time, it got mistaken as the Standard Format score. Oops!  The next time we reviewed this Sableye was one December 26, 2012, where we had it as the 6th best card of 2012!  Our most recent review, prior to today, was on August 18, 2014.  This time, Sableye was the 5th best card we lost to that year’s rotation.

So… why was Sableye so good, and why is it being banned now?  Sableye’s claim to fame is its “Junk Hunt” attack.  Priced at [D], this lets Sableye add two Item cards from your discard pile to your hand.  Yes, you’re burning an attack to do it, but unlike searching your deck, recycling isn’t totally undone when your opponent forces you to shuffle your hand away.  Sableye lets you spam Item cards, whether your deck is all about control, or whether you just need to replace some key Items between aggressive strikes.  Sableye’s “Confuse Ray” is filler, but not totally worthless.  For [C] it does 10 damage with a coin flip to inflict Confusion; if you need to stall it is easy to pay and might buy you some time.

Sableye is a baseline Pokémon.  It has no special mechanics or affiliations, and is just worth one Prize when KO’d.  This could work well with its Darkness typing, as Black Market {*} means Sableye will give up one fewer Prizes when KO’d (zero, most of the time).  Sableye isn’t about doing damage, so type-matching is irrelevant.  Anti-Darkness effects don’t really matter either, though they almost never do.  70 HP means Sableye is highly likely to be OHKO’d, but it is still 40 above the worst, for what that is worth.  No Weakness helps, as there aren’t any exceptions, and a lack of Resistance is typical.  Sableye’s Retreat Cost of [C] is easy to pay.

Initially, Junk Hunt lead to both control/stall decks like Hammer Time and Laser Time, and as an opener and/or recovery Pokémon for aggressive decks, such as those build around Darkrai-EX (BW – Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108; BW – Black Star Promos BW46; BW – Legendary Treasures 88/113).  Over the years, aggressive Darkness decks moved away from Sableye, but control decks – even if they weren’t truly Darkness decks – still made use of it.  Sableye was galvanized by the release of Puzzle of Time; the simple combo meant Junk Hunt could effectively recycle any two cards.  Puzzle of Time was banned, but Sableye persevered.

Most recently, Sableye found a home in “Doll Stall” decks.  It also caught me off guard, showing up in Regirock (XY – Black Star Promos XY49) decks, which caught me off guard.  A third deck that – and I realize this makes me look bad – I’d either missed or space off, was control deck built around Sableye and Garbodor (BW – Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW – Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW – Legendary Treasures 68/113).  Are these enough reason enough to ban Sableye?  Maybe… but I suspect at least part of this ban is preemptive.  Oranguru (SM – Ultra Prism 114/156) was also banned, and the next nearest replacement for it is Sableye or Bunnelby (XY – Primal Clash 121/160).

You might want to enjoy Bunnelby in Expanded why you can, or perhaps it was seen as somehow being the least egregious of the three.  All three Pokémon were even used together in some decks.  Besides the Unlimited Format, where will you be able to use Sableye after the latest bans go into effect?  If you can find BW – Dark Explorers packs and get an event set up, there’s the Limited Format.  If you just pull Sableye, at least it is a decent filler pick; 70 HP and Confuse Ray will go further here.  The set has some great Item cards but not only do you need to pull them, for it to be worth re-using them, each requires something else to be worth it.  Dark Claw and Dark Patch need Darkness attackers other than Sableye, Random Receiver needs some Supporters, and Ultra Ball some worthwhile Pokémon.  While that sounds demanding, you don’t need all three, so Sableye is actually looking pretty great for any deck that is not a Mulligan build.

Wait, there’s more!  Sableye is actually in a Theme Deck, specifically the “Raiders” Theme Deck released alongside BW – Dark Explorers.  It contains three Sableye, and a decent Item compliment, especially for a Theme Deck this old (2 Dark Claw, 1 Exp. Share, 1 Eviolite, 1 Rocky Helmet, 2 Energy Search, and 2 Pokémon Communication.  Unfortunately, the other Pokémon from this Theme Deck have not kept up with power creep.  So I can’t really recommend it here, though I will score it pretty good because Sableye itself isn’t the problem.  What is worth noting is that, even if you don’t currently have a Legacy Format deck… oh look, and easy way to get started with a Sableye deck in the PTCGO.  Sableye should still be pretty good, maybe great here.  It has access to some of its best, classic partners… including Junk Arm.  Junk Hunt plus Junk Arm (and discard fodder) means any two Trainer cards reclaimed from your discard pile!


  • Standard: N/A
  • Expanded: 4/5 (Soon to be N/A)
  • Limited: 4/5
  • Theme: 3/5
  • Legacy: 4/5

I am being a bit generous with the Expanded and Limited Format scores, but getting banned makes me want to round up, not down.  Sableye reminds us how potent recycling cards to hand can be, even if it costs us an attack on a small Pokémon, even if it is only for Items.  Oh, right… Item cards are inexpensive to use (most of the time), and can often translate into almost any other card through combos.

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