The Sword & Shield set has brought a variety of changes to the Standard format. Pokemon V and VMAX have redefined our concepts of “high HP” and “high damage output.” New Trainer cards such as Quick Ball, Marnie, and Professor's Research have drastically changed how decks will construct their Trainer engines, and how decks will operate in general. We’ve also received two new and potentially powerful Pokemon-based consistency engines. The first of those, Cinccino, has already been widely discussed—not too surprising, given its similarities to Zoroark-GX, one of the strongest cards of all time!
Since there has already been plenty of hype around the Cinccino engine, I’ll instead be focusing on the other of those new support Pokemon: Inteleon, with its Shady Dealings Ability. Outside of the context of Inteleon’s other attributes–based purely on the text of the Ability–Shady Dealings is incredibly powerful. It won’t fit in every deck, but it has excellent synergy with decks that *need* particular Trainer cards just to set up (take Evolution decks that rely on Rare Candy).
Need a particular Pokemon from the deck? You can search for Quick Ball or Evolution Incense! Need to recover Pokemon from the discard pile? Search for Lure Ball or Ordinary Rod! Need to do more damage? Search for Vitality Band, or Shrine of Punishment, or Electropower! If you have the capability to evolve into Inteleon on a given turn, you’ll have access to almost any other resource you’ll need during that turn. That kind of consistency is difficult to match.
In order for Inteleon to effectively perform its function in a deck, I think it would need to take up at least six spaces in the list, or more depending on how thick of a line you want to add in. To maximize the potential of Shady Dealings, and to justify the inclusion of that somewhat sizable Inteleon line, Inteleon should only be played in a deck where particular hard-to-find Trainer cards are crucial for the deck’s setup. After all, those slots could just as easily be devoted to some lines of Cinccino or Pidgeotto, or some Jirachi and Escape Board. If Shady Dealings would only be used as a general consistency boost, then you’d likely be better off replacing it with one of those other options listed above. But, if specific multi-card combos or Trainer-based setup strategies are necessary for a deck to function, then Inteleon may be the piece to put that concept over the top.
In my quest to make Inteleon competitive, I’ve come across a few archetypes that seem to be able to utilize an Inteleon line quite well. In these decks, there is a clear benefit to running Inteleon over a different support Pokemon line. In particular, decks with Rare Candy seem to be the best pairing. In the following section, I go over some of the decks and core strategies I’ve found to make the best use of Shady Dealings.
Trainer pairings for Inteleon
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