Coal-Powered Victory — Coalossal VMAX in Standard
Hello everyone! It’s been just under a month since the release of Vivid Voltage, and we are at the point where its impact on the metagame is becoming clearer. The top decks remain pretty similar to what they were before, with the occasional new deck coming in and making a splash. While some of the cards from Vivid Voltage have made their way into the format meta, for the most part, there has yet to be any drastic changes from the meta we saw at the end of Darkness Ablaze.
Vivid Voltage contains many cards with potential — Orbeetle VMAX, Whimsicott, and Galarian Darmanitan VMAX, for instance — but none quite had the reputation and hype of Coalossal VMAX. Coalossal VMAX first saw major success at Champion’s League Yokohama, the last major Japanese event. The deck did spectacularly well; in the 1,500-participant event, Coalossal VMAX decks finished in 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 10th, and ended up with a whopping 26 out of the Top 128 spots. This made it the single most represented archetype in the Champion’s League Top 128, edging out Eternatus VMAX and Zacian V / Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX.
With success like that, it is no wonder that this card received a fair amount of hype when it was released to the rest of us in Vivid Voltage. Sure, the Champion’s League tournament was in a pre-rotation, Ultra Prism-on event, but given that most of the deck remained intact, one would expect it to translate well in the same way that many of the other successful Champion’s League decks had. However, like many other cards in this set, Coalossal VMAX has largely failed to make the sort of impact that might have been expected of it. Rather than the top-tier placements that it saw in Japanese tournaments, the deck has finished more akin to a Tier 2 deck in online tournaments thus far.
After nearly a month of daily online events, Coalossal VMAX has only gotten a handful of top cut placements. That isn’t to say that the deck has been awful — it has managed to notch a tournament win, as well as a few almost-top finishes — but it certainly hasn’t been performing as a Tier 1 deck like it had in Japan’s pre-rotation format. Still, on paper, it seems like Coalossal should have a natural place in the meta. After all, it has a positive matchup against both Eternatus VMAX and Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, and is a deck that can consistently compete with ADP and the other top meta decks, as it could in Japan. So, in this article, I’ll be taking a look at Coalossal VMAX, to try and lay out a blueprint on how to build the deck, how to play the deck, and, with any luck, how to achieve success with the deck.
The Coalossal VMAX Skeleton
For those of you unfamiliar with Coalossal VMAX, the main idea behind this deck is to use Oranguru or Rotom Phone to manipulate an Energy to the top of your deck, so that you can guarantee the additional effect of Coalossal VMAX’s Eruption Shot. By doing so, not only do you get yourself a nice 130-damage attack for one Energy, but you also get to accelerate Energy. The result then is that by as early as turn three, you can attack with Coalossal VMAX’s G-Max Boulder. The deck wins as a consequence of this high damage output, favorable typing, and tankiness. Coalossal VMAX does rely heavily on early tempo to be successful, but if it does have a smooth early game, it is quite tough for other decks to outpace.
Because of how little you need Pokemon-wise for a Coalossal VMAX deck, the lists you can play do have a fair amount of variety. First, here is the “skeleton” list, which includes all of the cards that I believe a Coalossal VMAX deck should have in order to be successful. There are 52 cards in the below list, with eight spots saved as “Wild Cards”.
The consistency cards included here are the minimum I would consider running; any fewer, and the deck is apt to struggle early more often than is suitable for a tournament competitive deck. Realistically, I would recommend using two of those wild cards for additional consistency, be it more Pokemon (such as a second Crobat V, a Jirachi, or an Eldegoss V) or more Trainers (such as a fourth Marnie or another Pokemon-search Item). The other six cards are where these Coalossal VMAX lists will differentiate themselves from each other. You can opt to go defensive with these spots, and include cards such as Mallow and Lana and Buff Padding. You can go for disruption, with Crushing Hammer and Reset Stamp. You can include tech cards, such as Martial Arts Dojo, Tool Scrapper, or another Boss's Orders, among other things. Or, you can mix and match the above — basically, there are a lot of options!
Whichever way you choose, I would not want to play a list without the above 52 cards. Let me explain those first, before getting to the tech options.
The Deck’s Pokemon
The key Pokemon here are the Coalossal VMAX, and the Oranguru. Since it is the VMAX, not the unevolved V that allows you to attack, you need to be able to get it into play as soon as possible. To maximize the odds of being able to do so, I have likewise maximized the counts of Coalossal VMAX. Some lists do opt to play only three of the VMAX since you will almost never actually use more than two in a match, but the key here is that four makes it easier to find than three does. Given that there aren’t a ton of great search options for the deck to find Coalossal VMAX, I would likewise consider copy #4 a more valuable inclusion than a ninth Pokemon-search Item.
The Oranguru are a necessary card for Coalossal VMAX’s Eruption Shot to be a viable attack since they are the main way for you to put an Energy card on top of your deck. Without one in play, Coalossal VMAX becomes a feeble attacker, hence you need to have them. By playing two, you have protection against poor Prizes, as well as against an opponent who targets the Oranguru for a KO. You could even justify playing three in this deck, simply due to its incredible importance. Oranguru also adds consistency — not only does it give you an extra card per turn, but it combos with Rotom Phone, a card which you will already want to play due to its helpfulness with regards to Eruption Shot.
Galarian Sirfetch'd V could be considered a tech card, but it is important enough in enough matchups that I would consider it a necessary inclusion in any Coalossal VMAX deck. It is the deck’s only option against Zamazenta V though it notably does not OHKO it. Still, it gives this deck a chance against any Zacian V deck that would include it. More importantly, Galarian Sirfetch’d V is an excellent attacker against opposing VMAX decks, particularly when you are working with your second Coalossal VMAX. Galarian Sirfetch’d V’s Meteor Smash and Coalossal’s Eruption Shot can combine over two turns for 330, which is enough to KO opposing VMAXs. The relevant factor here is that Meteor Smash requires only three Energy, and so you can pull off the back-to-back attacks from a starting board of zero Energy. It typically takes three turns to power up for G-Max Boulder, so the Galarian Sirfetch’d V effectively allows you to get that KO a turn earlier.
In a vacuum, the card won’t help early in the game; because it takes until the second turn to use Eruption Shot, you won’t be able to use Meteor Smash until turn three, at which point you can use G-Max Boulder anyway. If you miss an attachment, or if your opponent hits heads on a Crushing Hammer, then Galarian Sirfetch’d V gives you an alternate way to still get that same KO you would otherwise. It is useful enough to where again, you could consider including another copy, or at least an Ordinary Rod to recover it if needed.
Finally, Crobat V and Dedenne-GX are must-have consistency cards. Because of how important the Eruption Shot acceleration is to this deck’s timing, Coalossal VMAX decks tend to lose if they are sluggish in the early-game. As such, you need to have cards like these two included so that you can maximize your options for getting out of a bricked hand. Since you are a VMAX deck, they tend not to be terrible liabilities with regards to Prizes either, so don’t hesitate to use them when you need to.
Which Trainers to Play
When it comes to draw Supporters, seven is the minimum I’ve found to be consistent, though again, I do think two of the wild cards should be used for consistency. Depending on how you’re focusing your Coalossal VMAX list, it can be optimal to stay at seven and use those spots for Pokemon that improve consistency, but you can also opt to play a fourth Marnie instead.
For your Pokemon search, Quick Ball is your first option, but the second choice of Item is a bit tricky. Pokémon Communication is the most versatile, as it allows you to both search out Coalossal VMAX, as well as Dedenne-GX or Crobat V if you need them. This puts it a bit ahead of Evolution Incense in my opinion, as while that card does guarantee you the VMAX regardless of your hand, using it instead will have a negative effect comparatively on your early game. You admittedly don’t play a ton of Pokemon in Coalossal VMAX decks — our skeleton list has a measly 13 — but the other options of Great Ball or Poké Ball aren’t great either. To get the most out of Pokemon Communication, some of your wild card spots should go toward Pokemon, to increase the odds of being able to use Pokemon Communication effectively.
Rotom Phone is a great card in this deck, and while I have again seen some lists with fewer copies of this card included, I wouldn’t want to play fewer than a full four. At worst, it is an emergency option for guaranteeing a boosted Eruption Shot; at best, it turns Oranguru into a pseudo-Jirachi that you can use from your Bench. Rotom Phone hasn’t caught on in many decks, but it is absolutely perfect in this one.
Lastly, you need to have plenty of switching cards in this deck, hence the four Switch and the two Air Balloon. The Pokemon in this deck have quite hefty Retreat Costs, and you don’t want to be stuck with a Pokemon you don’t want in the Active. Again, this deck relies heavily on the timing of an early Eruption Shot, and you can’t use that attack unless you find a way to get Coalossal VMAX into the Active Spot. Heavy counts of switching cards also allow you to easily pivot between Coalossal VMAXs to avoid KOs, as well as to move to Galarian Sirfetch’d V in the late-game.
The Energy Count
Since Eruption Shot allows you to attach any Energy card, not simply basic Energy, you can easily justify having higher counts of Special Energy in this deck. As such, there is no reason to play fewer than a full four copies of Stone Fighting Energy. Stone Fighting is key to Coalossal VMAX’s bulkiness and helps to prevent numerous 2HKOs. A single Stone Fighting Energy prevents a 2HKO by anything that deals 170 or 180 damage, while two prevent such a KO from anything that deals 190 or 200 damage. This is most notable against Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX, as well as against most attacks from Lightning Mewtwo and Mew-GX decks. The two Capture Energy in my skeleton list aren’t universal, but given how utterly important it is to find your Coalossal V and Oranguru early, I think they are a necessity. It is worth noting that you can attach one to Coalossal V and still use G-Max Boulder; as such, when attaching Capture Energy, you almost always want it to be to a Coalossal V so that it isn’t a wasted attachment. For the remainder of your Energy, you’ll want good ol’ basic Fighting Energy, though you theoretically can include Aurora Energy if you want to get creative. The sweet spot here seems to be twelve Energy in total — enough to draw them when you need to, but not so much that they come too often. Thirteen can also be reasonable, but I wouldn’t go below twelve.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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