Dark Times Ahead — A Discussion on Dark Box

Most of the best post-rotation decks right now are familiar sights: Malamar, Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, Reshiram and Charizard-GX… These decks are all just new versions of previously successful archetypes. But among players’ lists of top decks, you will often find one newcomer, a deck often referred to as Dark Box. Whatever its name, it relies on Weavile-GX to move around Energy between various Pokemon.

Everything I’ve seen of the deck, both my own testing and others’, suggests that Dark Box is a real contender for Worlds. It has the appeal of being a new archetype — something that players may want to try out, rather than play more of the decks they might be tired of; but it backs up this hype with results, at least in testing.

In all honestly, calling Dark Box new is inaccurate: the cards are new, but Weavile-GX is but the modern incarnation of Aromatisse, which itself was the successor to Hydreigon, who was no more than a Dark-type reprint of Klinklang. Aromatisse and Hydreigon both spawned popular archetypes, while Klinklang won US Nationals in 2012. This is a good sign that Weavile-GX will also have a role to play in the metagame, but there are two key differences between Weavile-GX and its predecessors: First, Weavile-GX can only move basic Dark Energy, whereas the previously mentioned cards could move any Energy of the required type. This meant that they could use multi-type Energy such as Rainbow Energy, Prism Energy and so on, which let them use a variety of attackers. Second, all of Weavile-GX’s predecessors were Standard-legal at the same time as Max Potion, which made for an effective combo: move Energy off a damaged Pokemon, heal it to full, and put Energy back on it. Unfortunately for Weavile-GX, Max Potion rotates out of Standard and won’t be available.

These are definitely factors that need to be taken into account, but, on the other hand, Weavile-GX has access to some very strong Pokemon that only require Darkness Energy. Formats in the early season tend to be the most limited, since the pool of available cards is at its smallest, but Dark Box actually has a surprising amount of viable options, both among Pokemon and Trainers. Lists vary quite a bit between players, more so than for any other current archetype. This is why this article will feature my own vision of the deck, including options, strengths and weaknesses.

1. The List

Let us start with the list:

Pokemon (18)

2x Weavile-GX (UNM #132)2x Sneasel (ULP #73)3x Naganadel (LOT #108)3x Poipole (LOT #107)1x Ditto Prism Star (LOT #154)2x Umbreon and Darkrai-GX (UNM #125)1x Mega Sableye and Tyranitar-GX (UNM #126)1x Greninja and Zoroark-GX (UNB #107)1x Darkrai Prism Star (ULP #77)2x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)

Trainers (30)

4x Lillie (SM #122)4x Cynthia (ULP #119)2x Nanu (TEU #150)4x Super Scoop Up (CES #146)4x Acro Bike (CES #123)3x Mysterious Treasure (FOL #113)3x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)3x Cherish Ball (UNM #191)2x Viridian Forest (TEU #156)1x Black Market Prism Star (TEU #134)

Energy (12)

12x Darkness Energy (DP #129)

As you can see, this list is pretty classic. I want to discuss the choices in the list, and some possible alternatives.

2-2 Weavile-GX

This is the minimum. Many lists are including a third Sneasel, however I haven’t felt the need for it so far. The lack of Gust effects in the format means that Bench sitters like Weavile-GX are in a better spot than they used to be: you often only need to set up one in a game.

3-3 Naganadel

There is a debate between Sharpedo and Naganadel as Energy accelerators. Sharpedo’s acceleration is more explosive, but Naganadel will be more effective over the course of a whole game. Since it’s also more convenient to retreat and can be searched with Mysterious Treasure (letting us use our Pokémon Communication to find other Pokemon), I believe that Naganadel is the strongest option. Naganadel’s typing also makes it an adequate attacker against some Fighting-type attackers that could see play.

Two Darkrai & Umbreon-GX

This is the main attacker of the deck, but you still don’t need more than two copies. If both are Knocked Out, you’ve lost the game anyway, and you have other attackers to use. Plus, even if one copy is prized, you can get it back with Nanu.

One Mega Sableye & Tyranitar-GX

Greedy Crush is a formidable attack that provides a lot of value, especially against Pokemon-GX that it can OHKO, such as Blacephalon-GX. Mega Sableye and Tyranitar-GX requires a lot of Energy, but it can close out a game when you’ve accumulated enough Energy in play.

As for Gigafall GX, you can use it against Shedinja decks to win the game by milling them, since they can only function with a small deck.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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