Flying Into Battle — Vivid Voltage and the Return of the Single-Prize Attacker

Hello everyone! I’m not sure about you, but I am enjoying the changes to the Standard meta with Vivid Voltage. This set has come with numerous new archetypes and plenty of helpful cards for existing ones. While it might not have any obvious archetypes as with Darkness Ablaze, it does seem to have a positive impact on meta diversity. As a result, even if many of the same decks remain strong, the meta does seem to be fresher with more room for innovation than we’ve seen in a while. 

While there are many aspects of Vivid Voltage that are worth discussing, the one I want to bring to light is the large number of strong non-Pokemon V or Pokemon VMAX that have arrived with this set. Single-Prize attackers have been rather weak lately; with the exception of Blacephalon, most have found themselves pushed out of the meta, unable to compete with either the oppressive Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX (ADP) or the strong decks that have emerged to match it. In that sense, I am hopeful that Vivid Voltage may mark a turning point where non-Pokemon V become a significant component of the metagame. 

There are two main factors that I believe will lead to a resurgence of single-Prize attacking decks in the TEU-VIV Standard format. The first is that the meta share of ADP seems to be decreasing to a point that will allow for single-Prize decks to safely compete, even if those decks continue to have a terrible ADP matchup. In online events during the previous Darkness Ablaze format, ADP had a commanding meta share; the deck typically made up nearly 20% of the field in any given event and eclipsed 30% in some tournaments. At that level of play, you can’t reasonably expect to play a deck with a bad ADP matchup and succeed. Thankfully for fans of single-Prize decks, the release of Vivid Voltage has seemingly corresponded with a marked drop in the amount of ADP that is being played. Since the release of Vivid Voltage (at the time of writing), ADP has made up around 15.5% of the online tournament meta decently large, but I believe it is a bit below the threshold of where a poor ADP matchup means that the deck is unplayable. As for why this meta shift is occurring, one factor may be that it didn’t get any better from the additional card pool, whereas opposing decks such as Lucario and Melmetal-GX did. It could be that players are fairly bored of ADP and trying out new things, or that the existing meta is shifting against it to the point that people are dropping away from the deck. Whatever the reason, if fewer people play ADP that bodes excellently for single-Prize decks, especially as ADP has been the main gatekeeper forcing them out of the format.

The second factor is that Vivid Voltage contains some incredibly strong single-Prize attackers! Whimsicott and Charizard are two cards that you can build around right away even early on, Whimsicott has already seen tournament success. In addition, the Amazing Rare cards have plenty of potential for the future, even if there aren’t cards in Standard yet to allow them to live up to that potential. Cramorant, Shedinja, Lugia, and Donphan have future potential, though are a bit weak now compared to the first two mentioned. While I may revisit those cards in the future, for this article I’ll be taking a close look at those first two Whimsicott and Charizard which I believe have the ability to deliver strong results. If ADP does end up somewhat diminished, it is these decks that can best take advantage of the change and return single-Prize attackers to their former glory.

The Flying Fury of Whimsicott

When it comes to single-Prize attacking decks, Whimsicott is easily one of the best in recent memory. In early online tournaments, this deck has made a mark as a meta contender. For a one-Energy, single-Prize attacker, Whimsicott hits incredibly hard, as it can easily attack for 250 damage turn after turn. The only caveat is that in order to deal this damage, the Whimsicott player needs to discard and replenish six Pokemon Tool cards every turn, but as you’ll see that is a rather easy prerequisite to meet!

The key card for this deck to work is U-Turn Board. U-Turn Board is a godsend for this deck; since it returns to your hand after you discard it with Flying Fury, you need to replenish considerably less resources after each attack. This means that the deck can get by with less Tool cards included; with four U-Turn Board, you’ll only have to find two additional Tool cards each turn to hit the maximum 250 damage. Plus, you’ll run out of those Tool cards much slower than if you were discarding a full six per turn. Likewise, it is much easier to find two Tool cards per turn than it is to find six, so once you’ve established a hand with multiple U-Turn Board, it will be nigh impossible to miss a full damage attack if your hand doesn’t get disrupted.

When it comes to how to build around Whimsicott, many aspects will remain the same across builds you’ll want plenty of Tool cards, ways to find Pokemon, and methods to replenish your hand and play around hand disruption. The major debate regarding deck build is whether or not to include Greedent. Greedent’s Greedy Tail is a natural addition to a deck that revolves around Pokemon Tools. It gives the deck a bit more speed, as you can immediately find all of your U-Turn Board without relying on drawing into them; it also gives the deck great resistance against Marnie and Reset Stamp. The downsides of Greedent are that you have to get it into play, which takes up some of your Pokemon finding resources and you have to find the space in the deck list to include it. That latter downside means that a deck list with Greedent will have less in the way of tech cards. Personally, I prefer the version with Greedent, as the additional consistency from Greedent seems to outweigh the benefits of the tech cards you can include. Greedent’s consistency is hard to replace, even if you replace some of those Greedent slots with other consistency-oriented cards such as Oranguru or more Supporters. Both ways have seen success, so if you prefer tech-heavy decks you may prefer the non-Greedent variant. I’ll go over some of those techs a bit further on, but here is the Whimsicott / Greedent list that I’ve been using:

Pokemon (19)

4x Whimsicott (SWSH4 #76)3x Cottonee (UNM #143)1x Cottonee (SWSH4 #75)3x Greedent (SWSH2 #152)3x Skwovet (SWSH3 #152)2x Jirachi (SWSH4 #119)1x Oricorio-GX (COE #95)1x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)1x Eldegoss V (SWSH2 #19)

Trainers (35)

4x Professor's Research (SWSH1 #178)4x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)2x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)1x Leon (SWSH4 #154)1x Channeler (UNM #190)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Great Ball (SWSH35 #52)4x U-Turn Board (UNM #211)4x Lucky Egg (SWSH1 #167)2x Island Challenge Amulet (COE #194)2x Ordinary Rod (SWSH1 #171)1x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)1x Air Balloon (SWSH1 #156)1x Giant Bomb (UNM #196)

Energy (6)

4x Horror P Energy (SWSH2 #172)2x Psychic Energy (SM #162)

Whimsicott Decklist Explanation

Pokemon

The Pokemon in this deck are straightforward; every non-Whimsicott Pokemon is included for consistency, with no additional tech attackers. The idea here is that you don’t need any other attackers besides Whimsicott 250 for one Energy is hard to top so those other Pokemon can all be support. You’ll rarely use more than two Greedent in a game but you do want two in play ideally, hence I’ve pushed the line to 3-3. Oricorio-GX is a must-have in any deck where your Active Pokemon gets KO’d every turn; it plays a similar role here like in Blacephalon decks. You won’t want to play down Dedenne-GX all of the time, but it is a nice emergency consistency card if things are going poorly early, or to dig through that last bit of your deck in the late-game. Eldegoss V is great for recovering Leon or Boss's Orders, though you’ll want to save it for the late-game as unlike Dedenne-GX or Oricorio-GX, you can’t protect it with Island Challenge Amulet if you need to. Bench space can quickly become an issue if you play it down too early so in most circumstances it’s better to wait. Finally, the new Amazing Rare Jirachi fits well into this deck, as it is an excellent Pokemon to pivot into after your Active Pokemon gets KO’d. Like Oricorio-GX, Jirachi gives you a bit more consistency every turn after you get KO’d, and it will happen often given that your main attacker has only 90 HP. The Amazing Rare Jirachi has a major advantage over the Stellar Wish Jirachi in that you don’t need to include switching cards or Scoop Up Net to utilize it all you need to retreat Amazing Rare Jirachi is a U-Turn Board or Air Balloon, which this deck already plays.

On your side of the field, an ideal board should be two Cottonee / Whimsicott, two Greedent, one Oricorio-GX, and one Jirachi. Whimsicott is the most important piece here; if you don’t have a backup (or at least a Cottonee) in play and ready to go, you’ll likely end up missing a turn to attack. Early on, I’ll opt to put more Cottonee in play so that I have backups ready to go. Plus, I can wait to play Oricorio-GX on the turn after one Whimsicott gets KO’d. With two Greedent in play, you’ll have plenty of protection against the inevitable Marnie or Reset Stamp. In addition, a second Greedent serves as insurance, in case your opponent opts to KO a Greedent (via Boss’s Orders) on the same turn they play Reset Stamp. Dedenne-GX and Eldegoss V are best used late, preferably on the last turn of the game when you have that open Bench spot. If you do need to use one early, then you’ll want to put down either one less Skwovet or don’t put down the Jirachi. Don’t skimp on Whimsicott or you’ll find yourself out of attackers, and Oricorio-GX’s consistency is difficult to replicate especially later in the game.

Trainers

Like with the Pokemon, most of the Trainers in this list are included with an eye towards consistency. The Items are all either Pokemon Tools or ways to find (or in the case of Ordinary Rod, recover) Pokemon. Most of the Supporter cards are consistency Supporters too. The two exceptions to that, aside from the ubiquitous Boss’s Orders, are Leon and Channeler. Leon gives Whimsicott a little bit of extra firepower by increasing the maximum damage of Flying Fury from 250 to 280 damage. This brings all Tag Team Pokemon-GX into OHKO range; it is rather useful against Lucario and Melmetal-GX decks as well, since it gives Whimsicott a way to OHKO Zacian V even if they have a Metal Goggles attached and Full Metal Wall GX active. Tool Scrapper can play this role against Lucario decks, but Leon is useful against a wider range of matchups and has the additional benefit of being reusable thanks to Eldegoss V. I’ve included the Channeler in the deck to deal with one card in particular: Vikavolt V. Without Channeler, Paralyzing Bolt completely shuts down this deck to the point that it turns an otherwise favorable matchup (against Pikachu and Zekrom-GX) into a near-autoloss. By adding Channeler, that matchup swings back to favorable. There aren’t any easily included Fighting-type attackers or other techs that would be useful against Vikavolt V, which is unfortunate as Channeler is nearly useless against any non-Vikavolt V matchups. However, Pikachu and Zekrom-GX and Lightning Mewtwo and Mew-GX decks are common, with Vikavolt V an easy inclusion in those decks to where I believe this tech is justified. 

The Pokemon Tools are what you expect, given the limited card pool of Pokemon Tools that we have in Standard. U-Turn Board is a necessity. Lucky Egg is the next-best Tool, as it gives the deck some great emergency consistency especially early in the game. Island Challenge Amulet lets you play down Oricorio-GX and / or Dedenne-GX, but keep it so that your board consists exclusively of Pokemon that only give up one Prize. The Air Balloon gives the deck another switching Tool and is particularly useful against opponents who play Absol, which would otherwise prevent your Jirachi from being able to retreat for free. Finally, the Giant Bomb is a bit of a fun tech that I’ve included in the last Tool spot, instead of a second Air Balloon. While the scenarios where it is useful aren’t widespread, there are a few instances where it can be an incredibly obnoxious card for your opponent. If they do have to hit into it with the appropriate damage, then it effectively adds 60 damage to your attack over what you would get by discarding it with Flying Fury. Combined with a Horror P Energy, it effectively increases the damage output of Flying Fury to 330 damage. Particular cards that it is strong against include Zacian V (especially in Lucario and Melmetal-GX decks), Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX, Charizard and Braixen-GX, and Galarian Darmanitan VMAX. Combine Giant Bomb with Leon and you can theoretically get Eternatus VMAX into a pseudo-OHKO as well. In matchups where it isn’t useful, you can discard it with Flying Fury as you would any other Tool, so it is a low-risk inclusion.

Energy

This deck doesn’t need many Energy cards, given that you don’t need more than one to attack. Six Energy card are sufficient, but you need to replace that Energy every time a Whimsicott gets KO’d. This decklist plays multiple Ordinary Rod (due to the need to recover Whimsicott) so if you find yourself with fewer Energy in the late-game, you can use Ordinary Rod to shuffle back the two Basic Energy to increase your odds of drawing into them.


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