Bringing in the Darkness – A Resurgence of Yveltal and Differences Between U.S. and European Tournaments

Hey PokeBeach! Cities are in full swing and are starting to wind down now in the U.S., while over in the U.K. we have just finished our first set of Regionals and Cities are starting in the new year. The strongest decks in both the Standard and Expanded format are solidifying themselves, taking in high totals of Championship Points and Top 4 placements throughout the world. For this article I decided to look over my final two Regional runs in which I played the Yveltal-EX / Zoroark / Gallade deck, where I was able to get back-to-back wins with the same list bar one card, an in-depth look at the list I played alongside what changes could be made to fit the ever-changing metagame. I will also be going over the differences between tournaments that are in the U.K. and Europe compared to the States, with a finishing glance at the “Parallel” Cities run I had in the U.S. Let’s start with looking at the resurgence of the Yveltal archetype in Standard that occurred with the help of Gallade and Zoroark.

Yveltal is Back!

Yveltal builds started to gain traction in the early weeks of Cities with the help of Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick and Gallade to combat any Lightning-type Pokemon which Yveltal and Yveltal-EX find hard to deal with and also provide a massive increase in consistency with Premonition. The Ability lets you plan your turns with top-decks in mind and also choose what you want to draw with Acro Bike or Trainers' Mail. Zoroark gave the deck an easy way to switch between attackers and also provides an attack in Mind Jack which forces your opponent to limit their Bench size or face a OHKO for just a Double Colorless Energy.

Whenever an Yveltal archetype starts to see play I always want to try the deck out. Decks that are based around Yveltal-EX always seem to have matchups that are mainly 50 / 50, meaning that with some testing against the harder matchups you never go into a matchup feeling like you don’t have a shot at winning the game without some sort of variance such as dead-drawing getting in the way. The basis of this deck with its at least even matchups is brilliant and usually ends up hitting the top tiers every time, and I usually drift towards these sorts of decks when they’re in the format due to this. Another reason I played Yveltal is because I know how the deck works extremely well. After playing countless games throughout multiple formats, picking up a deck with a focus around Yveltal-EX seems to be almost second nature, and means I can apply knowledge from previous tournaments such as heavy experience in mirror matches from the Worlds 2014 (DEXFLF) format.

The format seemed to be mainly Vespiquen and Manectric-EX / Crobat with some Yveltal-EX / Zoroark / Gallade, more so for the second Regionals. I knew for Vespiquen I needed some way to have a quick option to OHKO Combee, so opted to play a high count of Muscle Band and a two count of Lysandre. Against Manectric-EX / Crobat the best way to get an advantage was getting out Gallade as soon as possible, meaning I needed to play full four counts of Items to increase the odds of hitting the turn one Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. Finally for the mirror I included a strong tech in the form of a Stadium, Parallel City. This let me limit my Bench by discarding liabilities such as the low-HP Shaymin-EX or a Pokemon that had just eaten an attack and wouldn’t have any more use throughout the remainder of the game. The best part however was lowering my opponent’s Zoroark‘s Mind Jack attack down to 100 damage, making it much harder for my opponent to hit OHKOs or 2HKOs for just a single Energy. Another option that can play a key role is limiting their Bench to three when they have their own Shaymin-EX, lowering how many attackers my opponent could have on the field.

The list I started with was based off of Steve Guthrie’s build, which he had been able to get a Top 4 placement at one of the Cities he played at with. After some theory and talking with the other PokeBeach writers we came to a list that could deal with the expected meta-game. Here is the list I played:

Pokemon (13)

3x Yveltal (XY #78)2x Yveltal-EX (XY #79)2x Zoroark (BKT #91)2x Zorua (BKT #89)2x Gallade (BKT #84)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (37)

2x Professor Sycamore (XY #122)2x Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick (PRC #133)2x Lysandre (FLF #90)1x Judge (BKT #143)1x Xerosic (PHF #110)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)1x AZ (PHF #91)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)4x Battle Compressor (PHF #92)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)4x Acro Bike (PRC #122)3x Muscle Band (XY #121)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)1x Parallel City (BKT #145)

Energy (10)

6x Darkness Energy (XY #138)4x Double Colorless Energy (PHF #111)

I opted to include AZ for the first Regionals and Giovanni’s Scheme for the second. I need to thank all the ‘Beach writers and editors for helping us get to this list – the deck would look very different without their input. Let’s go over some of the card choices I went with.

Card Choices

Three Yveltal / Two Yveltal-EX

In Standard Yveltal is extremely strong as both an Energy accelerator and a counter to Night March. Since both Joltik and Pumpkaboo can be OHKO’d by an Oblivion Wing, playing a high count of Yveltal makes it easy to keep a constant trade while the opponent also loses a Double Colorless Energy in the process. With a Muscle Band Oblivion Wing hits for 50 and also sets up a Pokemon on the Bench with an Energy, which makes this Yveltal a great opener as well. Usually Yveltal builds play a three count of Yveltal-EX as its main attacker, but in Standard due to the other attacking options in Gallade and Zoroark playing just two hasn’t hurt. Evil Ball is still an extremely strong attack even without Hypnotoxic Laser and Dark Patch, being able to hit for high damage totals for little Energy pairing extremely well for 2HKOs that are set up by Yveltal‘s Oblivion Wing. Yveltal-EX‘s Y Cyclone attack also acts as a great 2HKO option while preserving Energy by moving one to the Bench, readying another Pokemon to attack the next turn.

Two Zorua / Two Zoroark / Zero Zoroark BREAK

I know at some point in Standard everyone has reminisced of playing a combination of Keldeo-EX and Float Stone to act as their switching options compared to playing other options such as the inconsistent and hard-to-find Switch. By using Zoroark in place of Keldeo-EX we have a very similar effect, letting us Stand In and Retreat for free using Float Stone, however to get this set-up Zoroark must first evolve from Zorua to gain the reincarnated Ability. Something to note is the Zorua to choose, which is certainly the one with Moonlight Madness, since confusing your opponent can create an awkward situation for your opponent if they are unable to Retreat and could break a Seismitoad-EX‘s Quaking Punch lock for a turn. Even though evolving is somewhat of a nuisance and getting a Keldeo-EX into play takes just a simple Ultra Ball, Zoroark‘s Mind Jack attack makes up for any of its pitfalls. Mind Jack can hit for a OHKO on any 180 HP Pokemon when your opponent has a full Bench, forcing your opponent to limit their Bench sizes or risk a OHKO for just a single Double Colorless Energy, and have to take a KO on a non-EX or risk taking at least 150 damage from Mind Jack in the next turn.

I opted to play zero Zoroark BREAK in this list as I didn’t think I would need it for the metagame plus in testing I found myself discarding it too early with an Ultra Ball, becoming a card I couldn’t play down making me miss the turn one Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick, or Foul Play being less effective than just using Mind Jack for a high amount of damage. The main benefit I found from BREAK evolving was gaining the extra 40 HP, which doesn’t warrant the cards’ inclusion. This doesn’t mean Zoroark BREAK isn’t playable though, as in a metagame full of Giratina EX and Tyrantrum EX being able to use Chaos Wheel to lock the opponent of their Special Energy, Tools, and Stadiums or hitting for a massive 190 damage using Dragon Impact for just a single Darkness Energy can swing games straight into your favor.

Two Shaymin-EX

Every deck needs that little bit of extra draw after their Supporter, and this Yveltal archetype is no exception. Shaymin-EX helps you set up your field with Yveltal to attack with and Zorua to evolve from in the early game and also find a crucial Ultra Ball or Battle Compressor to help achieve a turn one Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick / Gallade. Prizing a single Shaymin-EX is not too uncommon and needing a second to draw extra cards in the mid-to-late game is always handy, and also makes sure your Ultra Balls have a use throughout the entire game.

Two Gallade / Two Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick

The reason Yveltal decks have a place in the format is because of Gallade, which boasts both an amazing attack and Ability that can control a game once it hits the field. Sensitive Blade hits for a massive 130 damage for just a Double Colorless Energy if any Supporter card has been played, has the luxury of hitting M Manectric-EX for Weakness, and also gives an easy option to take two quick Prizes on a Benched Shaymin-EX, as a Lysandre combined with a Gallade hits for an exact OHKO using Sensitive Blade. 150 HP is extremely hard to deal with, usually forcing damage that would take out a Pokemon-EX just for this one-Prize Fighting-type. Premonition really seals the deal on playing Gallade though, making it possible to know what your going to top-deck meaning you can make risky plays with your Supporter card knowing you can draw into another on the next turn. Acro Bike becomes a pseudo-Computer Search, letting you draw your choice of five cards with the benefit of discarding a card you don’t need any more or something you want in the discard. A complex play that is sometimes missed is using Premonition to check your top five cards to see if you have the specific card to grab with an Acro Bike / Trainers' Mail, and if it’s not there placing the five back on top and then using a card that shuffles the deck like a Battle Compressor, thus changing the order of cards in the deck giving you another chance at hitting the card you want off one of your Item-based draw cards.

Since the deck’s engine revolves entirely around getting a Gallade out at some point throughout the game playing two copies of the card itself and the card that gets it onto the field, Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick makes sure there isn’t any bad prizing stopping the combo being pulled off. Another benefit of playing two Gallade is getting both out throughout a game, which puts insane pressure on the opponent having to deal with both of these big threats, and also gives you two Premonition Abilities to use during that turn, which can be helpful to make sure you get exactly what you want off of a Trainers' Mail or Acro Bike.

Two Professor Sycamore / One Judge / One Xerosic / One Hex Maniac / Two Lysandre

Looking at the main Supporter line the first thing that might stand out is playing only two Professor Sycamore, which may seem confusing considering it is the best draw-Supporter Standard has to offer. Since this deck has a much heavier focus on Item-based draw like Trainers' Mail and Acro Bike can mean playing multiple Professor Sycamore throughout a game could lead to a quick deck-out, or your Supporter slot might be taken up with a utility option like Lysandre since you already have the cards you need for that turn in your hand. Another factor of only playing two Professor Sycamore is the benefit of playing both Battle Compressor and VS Seeker, which if you have both in your hand lets you choose a Supporter to discard then retrieve it with the VS Seeker, making it both easier to find a Supporter earlier on and also giving options instead of Professor Sycamore, like Judge.

For the past few months Standard has been lacking a good disruption-based Supporter, but with Judge being reprinted in BREAKthrough a small amount of disruption has returned to the format. Judge has no limitations, can be played on the first turn, and fits perfectly in our Battle Compressor-based deck that can easily find a single copy of the card to use on turn one. If your opponent opens a lone Pokemon which is undesirable or not boasting a high HP total for example Shaymin-EX or Bronzor a quick turn one Judge lowering their hand size from six to four can restrain your opponent from doing much in their first turn while you were able to get a stronger set-up going first, and could even leave them with a dead hand giving you a swift win. Moving into the mid-late game even though the disruption to your opponent’s hand doesn’t match the raw power N has in Expanded, removing a key card from an opponent’s hand that could win them the match or lowering a monster eight-and-above hand size down to four can change the outcome of a game.

Putting a single Xerosic into the deck is a direct counter to any Lightning-type decks playing any Flash Energy. Having one of these Special Energy attached to something like M Manectric-EX makes it much harder to deal with since Gallade cannot hit for a OHKO using Sensitive Blade, but with this Supporter-based Energy removal option Gallade‘s extra damage from Sensitive Blade is activated and can now hit for Weakness. Playing the single Xerosic does have some other uses though, which I found swung matchups into my favor. Whenever I played an Yveltal-EX / Zoroark / Gallade mirror I found times where my opponent played down a Double Colorless Energy as their Energy card for the turn, usually starting to power up an Yveltal-EX to start hitting for big damage the next turn. Instead of using my Supporter for the turn on draw I would choose to remove the Double Colorless Energy with Xerosic and hit for a KO on the Active using my own Yveltal-EX or Gallade, setting the opponent’s board position a turn behind plus lacking an answer to the threat I had Active. There are other niche options as well such as removing Spirit Links off Pokemon that are about to Mega Evolve or force your opponent to find another switching option by discarding their Active Pokemon’s Float Stone.

Hex Maniac might not get used that often throughout a tournament, but when you do find the perfect turn to VS Seeker the single copy back to your hand its effect usually changes the outcome of a matchup, whether its stopping your opponent from using Shaymin-EX‘s Set Up in the early turns or getting a crucial turn where the opponent can’t use a Bronzong‘s Metal Links to power up a Pokemon like Tyrantrum-EX, setting them back enough for you to win the game.

Even though this archetype plays the speed-based Item draw to find the Supporters it wants using the combination of VS Seeker and Battle Compressor playing two Lysandre lets you discard one as an option to use with VS Seeker and keep the other to find later, guaranteeing you can use its broken effect at some point throughout a game.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

If you'd like to continue reading, consider purchasing a PokeBeach premium membership! If you're not completely satisfied with your membership, you can request a full refund within 30 days.

Each week we post high-quality content from some of the game's top players. Our article program isn't a corporate operation, advertising front, or for-profit business. We set our prices so that we can pay the game's top players to write the best content for our subscribers. Each article topic is carefully selected, goes through multiple drafts, and is touched up by our editors. We take great pride in our program!