I’d be the first person to tell you that Stage 2 Pokemon are awful, but Dusknoir is supposed to be knocked out.
That’s because of Dusknoir’s Ability, Grim Marking — if this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon and is knocked out by damage from an opponent’s attack, put 4 damage counters on your opponent’s Pokemon in any way you like.
Dusknoir’s Ability pairs well with the Spell Tag Pokemon Tool, which also lets you place 4 damage counters after being knocked out.
Combined, that’s 8 damage counters just for dying.
Dusknoir’s attack, Psych Up, isn’t too bad either. It does 60 base damage for only one Psychic Energy. And during your next turn, Psych Up does 60 more damage.
My list runs a 4-1-4 line of Dusknoir and 4 Rare Candy. Duskull’s Ability lets you discard three cards from your hand to evolve into Dusclops, but I found that it’s rarely useful to lose three cards. You might want to scrap the 1 Dusclops altogether for another Pokemon or Trainer.
So where does Koffing fit into this deck? Koffing’s Ability reads: “Once during your turn, when you discard this Pokemon with the effect of Roxie, you may put 1 damage counter on each of your opponent’s Pokemon. (Place damage counters after the effect of Roxie.)”
In other words, Koffing exists in this deck to be discarded by Roxie, which lets you spread damage counters. And Roxie happens to be a fantastic draw Supporter! Roxie allows you to discard up to two Pokemon that aren’t Pokemon-GX and then draw two cards for each Pokemon discarded.
With Roxie and Koffing, you’re not only placing damage counters, but you’re also drawing cards.
But that’s not all! You can retrieve your Koffing and aforementioned Spell Tag cards with Lana’s Fishing Rod.
By using a play set Lana’s Fishing Rod to bring back Koffing, you can discard a maximum of 8 Koffing cards with Roxie. That’s a maximum of 40 damage counters placed.
This deck is particularly brutal against Malamar decks which run low-HP bench sitters like Mew, Jirachi, and (obviously) Malamar.
It also wouldn’t hurt to run one Brock’s Grit to bring back even more Koffing cards.
Since this deck relies so much on various Trainer cards, its also necessary to run Jirachi (with Escape Board, of course). Jirachi can bring you that clutch Rare Candy, Spell Tag, or Roxie.
Why not Giratina and/or Blacephalon?
It’s already a nightmare to start the game with just a Koffing. Imagine starting the game with a Giratina and Blacephalon with no way to retreat or Switch out.
Koffing has a retreat cost of 1 (compared to Giratina’s 4 and Blacephalon’s 2), which makes retreating easy, especially with Escape Board. You might even run one Weezing (Unbroken Bonds) to help spread damage in case a Koffing gets stuck in the active position.
But if you’re stuck with a Giratina or Blacephalon, there’s almost nothing you can do.
Why not Weezing?
Alternatively, you can cut Koffing and run Weezing (Cosmic Eclipse) instead, which has the same Ability.
That’s a fair and valid alternative because you wouldn’t have to worry about starting with a Koffing. However, it might be useful to bench a Koffing if you know that you’re going to get knocked out and you have no other benched Pokemon available. Having a Koffing in that scenario can save you the game.
Also, you’d be missing out on the cool full art Koffing.
Maybe you can compromise and run 2-2. Test it out for yourself and see what works for you.
Decklist for PTCGO
##Pokémon – 17
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 4 Duskull CEC 83
* 4 Koffing CEC 76
* 1 Dusclops CEC 84
* 4 Dusknoir CEC 85
##Trainer Cards – 37
* 4 Spell Tag LOT 190
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 1 Brock’s Grit EVO 74
* 3 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
* 4 Rare Candy SUM 129
* 1 Chaotic Swell CEC 187
* 4 Roxie CEC 205
* 4 Cynthia UPR 119
* 3 Escape Board UPR 122
* 3 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 182
* 2 Shrine of Punishment CES 143
* 4 Lana’s Fishing Rod CEC 195
##Energy – 6
* 6 Psychic Energy SMEnergy 14
Total Cards – 60