Not Shiny But Still Strong — A Competitive Look at ‘Shining Fates’
Hello everyone! I hope your Players Cup III events are going well! At the time of my writing this, I’m finishing up my own qualification run with Coalossal VMAX — apologies to any Pikachu and Zekrom-GX or Eternatus VMAX players I might have hit along the way! If you’re looking for a fun deck to play for that event, I do highly recommend Coaloassal VMAX — I’ve had the most success with a Crushing Hammer + Consistency variant (see my Coalossal VMAX article for more!).
These qualifications represent some of the last events of the TEU-VIV format — pretty soon we’ll be adding in new cards, with the release of Shining Fates! We’ve had plenty of time to get acquainted with Vivid Voltage, so for this article, I’ll be looking slightly into the future, at the impact that Shining Fates might have.
For collectors, Shining Fates is easily the set of the year (well, thus far at least!). For us competitive-focused players, however, Shining Fates might not seem worthy of the price tag. The number of new cards in the set is relatively small compared to the set’s total size, to the point that they can be easy to overlook. Even so, there are a few cards that could end up seeing play. There are some decent Trainers, some nice new support Pokemon, and a few intriguing VMAX Pokemon that are all worth exploring. All in all, Shining Fates might not be the set of the year for us, but it certainly shouldn’t be ignored!
Each of the new VMAXs in Shining Fates has potential, but if you’ve ever read my article about Blissey, you might know why this is my favorite competitive card to come out of Shining Fates. The math still works the same as it did for Blissey, but the difference here is that rather than using its attack as an easily-KO’d single-Prize Pokemon, you are instead using it as a tanky VMAX. As the Standard format ebbs further toward VMAXs, Cramorant VMAX will become even stronger as it is one of the few Pokemon that can OHKO an opposing VMAX even without Weakness. While we no longer have Victini, we do thankfully have its Ability on a Stadium (Glimwood Tangle). We also still have the Welder acceleration engine, which I believe is the best way to play this kind of deck. Because Cramorant VMAX is difficult to one-shot (unlike Blissey), it is also rather easy to build up a giant Cramorant VMAX with plenty of Energy, so that you can more easily hit the high-damage numbers that the card is capable of.
My initial build of this deck is based on Centiskorch VMAX decks, as the idea behind the two is fairly similar; in both, you want to load a ton of Energy onto one big VMAX, and run through your opponent with it. Likewise, the playstyle is also rather similar. Here’s my Cramorant VMAX list:
Like Centiskorch VMAX, the goal with this deck early is to go second, find your way to a Volcanion, and use Flare Starter to power up a Cramorant V. Welder provides even more Energy acceleration, so you should be able to get plenty of Energy into play quickly. In theory, you could even be swinging with a ten-Energy Max Jet by turn two! Once you’re ready to begin attacking, you’ll want to replace Giant Hearth and put Glimwood Tangle into play, to maximize your odds of getting a OHKO. For surprise bursts of damage, you have Triple Acceleration Energy, though it may not always be necessary.
Cramorant VMAX has an additional trick, and that is that so long as it has a Memory Capsule attached, it can use Cramorant V’s Spit Shot for a single Triple Acceleration Energy. Not only does this give the deck a nice way to easily snipe any Dedenne-GX, but it also is an easy way to take out any Pokemon against which you might have missed the OHKO. In a pinch, you can also use Beak Catch to find helpful cards for a future turn, if you aren’t in a position to properly attack.
Once you have one Cramorant VMAX properly set up, you’ll want to start to power up your second one — but since Cramorant VMAX’s damage output is variable, how do we know if we have enough Energy? Once again, to find the typical damage output from Max Jet, we’ll want to go back to the tables from the Blissey article. I’ve posted them here for reference (just pretend Powerful Slap = Max Jet and Victini = Glimwood Tangle). These tables also will give you an idea of how much damage you’ll typically deal per attack, given your Energy in play. I highly recommend studying up on them if you plan to play this deck competitively! For further insight, I do also recommend going back and checking out the previous Blissey article, as it goes in-depth as to the logic behind why a deck that relies on coinflips like this one can still be a great play despite the variance.
There is, of course, one big disadvantage that Cramorant VMAX has, and that is its Weakness to Lightning. Pikachu and Zekrom-GX is a top-tier deck at the moment, and it certainly isn’t one you want to run into with a Lightning-weak deck. On top of that, most PikaRom lists play heavy counts of Crushing Hammer, which makes Weakness Guard Energy a pretty terrible safeguard. Against this matchup, you’ll want to utilize the Dubwool V and Victini V to take KOs while avoiding Weakness; I only use the Cramorant V line to either snipe Dedenne-GX, or to attempt to take my last Prizes.
Overall, not only is this deck is a ton of fun, but it is also the deck from Shining Fates that I think has the best chance to see success right away. It would not at all surprise me if Cramorant VMAX found its way into the regular meta rotation — I’ll certainly be doing my part to make that happen!
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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