An In-Depth Guide to Rainbow Force Xerneas

Hey, guys! Linthil here, and this is my first article. It’s about the legendary stag-like cervine Rainbow Force Xerneas! The reason why I first paid attention to it was because of the colorless M Rayquaza-EX, a pretty popular card back in the days among the PTCGO players, and since I like alternative rogue decks, I started to think about it. Also, it’s a fairy Pokémon, just as Gardevoir, one of my favorites, so double success. It in fact turned out to be a really great deck! I rarely lose with it on tournaments, so I made it in real life too. That being said, let’s get to the decklist:


Pokemon (20)

4x Xerneas (BKT #107)2x Hoopa-EX (AOR #89)1x Shaymin-EX (RSK #106)1x Jirachi-EX (PLB #98)1x Virizion-EX (PLB #96)1x Darkrai-EX (DEX #63)1x Keldeo-EX (BCR #142)1x Latias-EX (PLF #112)1x Aegislash-EX (PHF #65)1x Ninetales (PRC #21)1x Vulpix (PRC #20)1x Raichu (GEN #27)1x Pikachu (RC2 #RC29)1x Barbaracle (FAC #23)1x Binacle (FLF #48)1x Carbink (FAC #50)

Trainers (28)

3x Colress (PLS #135)1x N (NVI #101)1x Professor Juniper (PLF #116)1x Professor Birch's Observations (PRC #159)2x Pokémon Fan Club (FLF #106)1x Lysandre (FLF #104)2x VS Seeker (RSK #110)1x Startling Megaphone (FLF #97)2x Trainers' Mail (AOR #100)3x Ultra Ball (PLF #122)2x Max Elixir (BKP #102)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Muscle Band (XY #121)1x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)4x Sky Field (RSK #89)

Energy (12)

6x Fairy Energy (GEN #83)4x Double Colorless Energy (HS #103)2x Prism Energy (NXD #93)

Key Cards


The star (rainbow?) of this deck. We’ll only be using his first attack, Rainbow Force. It deals 10 + 30 damage for each different type of Pokémon on our Bench. That’s huge, because this deck is entirely built to make this attack hit for its maximum number, 250, even knocking Wailord-EX out.


The second copy of Hoopa-EX is there to increase the chances of getting it early in the game and decrease the chances of getting prized ones, since it provides three more cards for our Bench, easily giving our Rainbow Force attack some early fuel. This means I can search for card draw (Shaymin-EX), tankiness (Latias-EX and Aegislash-EX), Special Conditions immunity (Virizion-EX), Supporter search (Jirachi-EX) and free Retreat Cost (Keldeo-EX and Darkrai-EX), while I get my Bench ready and colorful (seven types already, not bad, huh?).


Oh, the main reason why this deck shines the most within the Expanded format, and it works here at all stages of the game. Since we’ll ideally have 8 Pokémon on our Bench, and the opponent shall have some more dudes, it’s not unusual (Carlton Banks, anyone?) that we’ll be drawing around 10~12 cards, so there are no worries about getting that Double Colorless Energy we need to finish the game, for example.

Sky Field

With full Bench and Muscle Band, it is possible to get to the golden number 180, knocking out most EX Pokémon. But how do we deal with Mega Evolution and other Pokémon with higher HP? Easy, maxing out our copies of Sky Field. By doing that we can put up to eight Pokémon onto our Bench, and almost always win the Stadium war. We are also running Ninetales to help achieve that goal.


The Pokémon

First of all, most of the Rainbow Force Xerneas decklists I’ve seen used Standard cards. That’s fine, since you’ll rarely let your opponent get 2 prizes for an EX, but I find those versions a lot slower than mine. And that’s the main reason why I’m using a list full of EX: they are useful as Basic Pokémon.

Of course, there are some other non-EX Pokémon within the deck, so let’s take a look at them. Ninetales works here as a Stadium lock, since Sky Field is a key card that allows us to hit for massive damage. Yeah, it can still be discarded with Delinquent and Paint Roller, or with attacks like Lugia-EX’s Deep Hurricane and Primal Groudon-EX’s Gaia Volcano, but it shall work most of the time. Raichu is here as our Lightning-type Pokémon because its attack has great synergy with the deck in general, which can be a life saver against the likes of Jolteon-EX or Pyroar. We also have Carbink, whose Safeguard Ability can save us big time too. And our last Pokémon is Barbaracle: as long as we have a Stadium card in play, our opponent can’t attach any Special Energy cards. That’s a good tech against the famous Night March and VespiPlume decks, as long as we can keep our Sky Field up. Another thing to notice is that we can pick the Fighting-type version of Binacle, to add more type diversity to the deck.


The Trainer

Now, the Trainers that make this beautiful mess work. Let’s start with the Supporters: Pokémon Fan Club works wonders during the early stages of the game. We can get Xerneas and Hoopa-EX, and then start to fill our Bench, choosing the best Pokémon to counter our opponent’s strategy or just to stall. Also, we have one copy of N, Professor Juniper and Professor Birch's Observations to make the deck run.

To have access to those awesome Supporters from the Discard Pile, we have two VS Seeker. Startling Megaphone to erase those Tools, and Trainers' Mail and Ultra Ball allow us to speed things up and avoid bad hands, and Max Elixir helps to get our Xerneas energies, so we’ll only need a DCE to complete the rainbow. As for the tools, two copies of Float Stone, so Keldeo-EX can work his magic (Rush In, then Retreat for free), and we have more Muscle Band than Fighting Fury Belt only because in the case we don’t have our Stadium up, our max damage should be 160, and Muscle Band can reach for the K.O. on those 180 HP EX Pokémon.


The Energy

To complete the deck analysis, six Fairy Energy, four Double Colorless Energy and two Prism Energy, to enable Virizion-EX and Darkrai-EX abillities on our Active Pokémon. I think that’s the best use of energies, but if you want, you can use more Fairy Energy to increase Max Elixir chances, or use more Prism Energy if you feel you’ll be attacking with your other Pokémon more. Just remember to keep the 4 Double Colorless Energy anyway, and you should be fine.


Side Deck Options

Now, I had some doubts during the deck building process, so there are some cards that could also work here as a side deck: a line of 1-1 Octillery, taking Barbaracle’s place; Lugia-EX, if you feel the need of an instant (with DCE) Basic backup attacker, and it also counts as another Colorless-type, since we only have Shaymin-EXZoroark replacing Darkrai-EX as our Dark-type Pokémon, but keeping the free Retreat Cost mechanic; Tool Scrapper, as a Startling Megaphone substitute to discard a nasty Head Ringer that may be attached to Keldeo-EX; and Super Rod, just in case you get many Pokémon and energies discarded (you can take an Ultra Ball out for that).

There’s also the option to use Xerneas‘ second attack, Power Criation, in case you can’t build your Bench well or Rainbow Force gets disabled. And we can enable that massive 160 damage (180 with Muscle Band) with Jynx, whose ability Victory Kiss heals our active Pokémon. If you go for it, you might want to choose for Rainbow Energy instead of Prism Energy, allowing you to take damage on your turn (and heal afterwards).


Standard Format

For those who prefer to play Standard, this deck isn’t the best choice, but still has some strenghts. First of all, since most of our EXs Pokémon were rotated out (we can only use Hoopa-EX, Shaymin-EX and Aegislash-EX), there’s no point in using Hoopa-EX anymore. So we will count on non-EX Pokémon, such as Ninetales, Raichu, Carbink and Zoroark to add type diversity, backup attackers and the already known Stadium lock, EX immunity and free Retreat. We can also use Manaphy-EX, as we’ll be running Rainbow Energy, and it’s one more type for our Bench. Octillery becomes a staple here, with the loss of Colress, which shall be replaced by more copies of N and Professor Sycamore. Also, since we don’t have lots of EXs anymore, we can replace Pokémon Fan Club with Brigette. Even though we can keep the deck’s structure, it becomes a lot slower.


Unlimited Format

Oh my, this is nostalgic. And really helpful! We can make use of the multi-type Pokémon Kecleon, and his partnership with Xerneas alone can win lots of games for you (nine types for one Pokémon, that’s very broken here). That means we no longer need to rely that much on Sky Field, and we can even use more win conditions. Also, we can use all of the EXs we did with the Expanded list if necessary, and have at least two non-Basic Pokémon to play around the likes of Pyroar. But the most important thing is to accelerate our setup, which means cards like Max Elixir and Trainers' Mail can be maxed out, and maybe more energies. For the rest of the deck, use your imagination! It shall be powerful and funny.


The Matchups

To be honest, I haven’t found a particularly hard matchup for our guy, but there are some observations: first of all, this deck shines the most against EXs Pokémon, because we can easily knock them out and get two prizes. But let’s see how it goes against the other high tier decks:

Night March: the fast setup can really destroy us, with multiple uses of Lysandre. We need to rely early on Aegislash-EX to counter the Double Colorless Energy attacks, while we get out Xerneas ready. Raichu might also be a nice tool here, because we can also attack with only a DCE, which can be disrupted by Barbaracle. Just try to control that, and the late game shall be fine.

VespiPlume: just like Night March, pay attention to the opponent’s usage of Double Colorless Energy. There’s also something to look for, and that is the Item lock. It shouldn’t hurt us that much, but can delay our setup. Try to get an early Sky Field and lock it with Ninetales.

Trevenant BREAK: the damage output isn’t high, but we need to pay attention to the Item lock too. Try to setup your game fast with Hoopa-EX. Also, there’s the Ability lock from Wobbuffet, which can hurt us too, but once our Bench is ready Xerneas can work his Rainbow Force.

Greninja BREAK: now it gets more difficult, because 120 HP is low, and our Xerneas can be sniped by the frogs. Using backup attackers with higher HP can be a good option here, but pay attention before using Jirachi-EX and Shaymin-EX, that can easily be knocked out. Fighting Fury Belt is a great card in this matchup too.


The Future

Guys, dual-type Pokémon are coming back! This means that this deck can get even more power. I particularly think that the Expanded version won’t change much, maybe we’ll have the adition of Volcanion-EX, which means we can trade our Muscle Band for Fighting Fury Belt, giving our Xerneas more survivability (because that extra type will help us get to the 180 damage even without Sky Field). But within the Standard Format the new cards should have more impact. Let’s wait and see what will happen.


Well, that’s all for today guys, I hope you liked the review! If you want to add me on PTCGO to play or just talk, my nickname is Linthil. See you later!