Bringing Out the Big Guns — Blastoise VMAX in Standard

Hello everyone! When Battle Styles was recently released, we also got two new VMAXs — Blastoise VMAX and Venusaur VMAX — outside of the set, by way of the new Battle Box products. While Venusaur is pretty cool, Blastoise has the distinction of being my favorite Pokemon, so naturally, I wanted to try to use it now that it finally has a VMAX card of its own.

Blastoise VMAX is an interesting card, as it combines two traditional Water-type attributes; Energy acceleration and spread damage. It’s a Pokemon that hits hard but can also function as a facilitator if needed, and there are multiple ways that you can use Blastoise VMAX to win a game which makes it an intriguing option to build a deck around, even if you aren’t as big a fan of the Pokemon as I am. In this article, I’ll go over a few of the ways I’ve done so, as well as why I think Blastoise VMAX might be one of the more underrated VMAXs today.

What Makes Blastoise VMAX Good?

While the aesthetic alone is enough to make me love this card, its attacks are the actual relevant points that will make Blastoise VMAX successful. G-Max Bombard is an excellent attack, as it has a rather convenient damage profile for the current Standard meta. At 220 damage, this attack can OHKO most one- and two-Prize Pokemon, including Zacian V. The spread damage can also set things up well against Tag Teams and certain single-Prize matchups.

With Telescopic Sight, you can boost the Bench damage to 60 against GX and V Pokemon; combine that 60 with a direct 220 damage, and you have enough to KO Tag Teams, notably Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX and Mewtwo and Mew-GX. Against Mad Party, you can use G-Max Bombard to set up potential triple-KOs, given their low HP. Against Pokemon VMAX, Grand Falls and G-Max Bombard can combine for a 2HKO, but you can also use the same play with Telescopic Sight to make things a touch easier. That is, if you use two G-Max Bombard to KO one VMAX, you can use the Bench damage to put a second VMAX into KO range.

With Telescopic Sight, you can KO a Crobat V or Dedenne-GX with three pecks from G-Max Bombard — you can commonly finish games against VMAX matchups by doing just that, by going around their second VMAX to win via a double-KO with your third attack. When using G-Max Bombard, Blastoise VMAX tends to play like a harder-hitting version of Inteleon VMAX, though you do need Telescopic Sight to truly take advantage of the spread damage. 

While G-Max Bombard will be the main damaging attack you use when playing Blastoise VMAX, Grand Falls should not be overlooked for how well it helps facilitate your attackers beyond the first one. Blastoise VMAX typically has no trouble going from attacker #1 to attacker #2, since you can automatically set up that second attacker so long as you’re able to find time to use Grand Falls. This also means that once set up, you don’t have to do too much from that point to keep your attacks going, which means that you can focus more on early-game consistency — a point that will become quite relevant when we start going over the decklists. Not only that, but you’ll also have more latitude to use non-draw cards at that point since you won’t be digging for a specific card as often as you might be with other decks.

Finally, it is worth noting the extra HP that Blastoise VMAX has compared to the other Water-type Pokemon VMAX. While 10 extra HP may not seem terribly relevant, there are a few key scenarios where it does come up. The most important one is in the Pikachu and Zekrom-GX matchup. Inteleon VMAX and Lapras VMAX can be OHKOd by Raichu and Alolan Raichu-GX’s Tandem Shock, whereas Blastoise VMAX cannot. In fact, neither of PikaRom’s Tag Teams can OHKO Blastoise VMAX without using their GX attack. While that matchup still is far from good thanks to attackers like Boltund V, the extra HP can give Blastoise VMAX a critical edge. Other relevant scenarios where the HP can come in handy are against Cramorant VMAX, Centiskorch VMAX, Inteleon VMAX, and against Toxicroak / Eternatus VMAX

After messing around with this card, there are three distinct decks that I’ve built that I’ve found can be competitive. In each case, the main goal is to utilize Energy acceleration to power up a Blastoise VMAX, from which point you can use Blastoise VMAX itself to guarantee Energy attachments to all of your Pokemon. The difference between these decks is how they get to that point. The first deck here is Blastoise VMAX / Rose / Kricketune V; a straightforward yet powerful deck, which focuses squarely on Blastoise VMAX itself. 

Blastoise VMAX With Kricketune

The Kricketune V + Rose combo is one of my favorites to come out of this new set. It gives potential to a lot of otherwise slow Pokemon VMAX that lack Energy acceleration, which can potentially open the door to a wider variety of Pokemon VMAX becoming viable. The idea here is that you can use Rose to power up one of your Blastoise VMAX, then use Kricketune V’s Exciting Stage to replenish your hand. You can theoretically use this combo in conjunction with any Pokemon VMAX, but some are naturally going to be better options than others. Blastoise VMAX is a great candidate as unlike other Pokemon VMAX, which might require Rose, Blastoise VMAX can accelerate Energy itself once you’ve managed to use Rose once. So, you don’t necessarily have to keep using Rose to power up your Pokemon, which greatly helps in terms of mid-game consistency, since you can use other Supporters instead of being forced to use multiple Rose. 

The early-game acceleration from Rose means that you can be attacking rather quickly, even if your Energy requirements are high. In the case of Blastoise VMAX, this means that you can use G-Max Bombard as quickly as turn two, and can win the game as quickly as turn four. 

The List

 

Pokemon (15)

3x Blastoise VMAX (PRSWSH #SWSH103)4x Blastoise V (PRSWSH #SWSH101)2x Kricketune V (SWSH5 #6)2x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)1x Kyogre (COE #53)1x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Eldegoss V (SWSH2 #19)1x Oranguru (SWSH1 #148)

Trainers (33)

4x Rose (SWSH3 #168)3x Professor's Research (SWSH45 #60)2x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)2x Boss's Orders (SWSH45 #58)1x Cheryl (SWSH5 #123)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Switch (SWSH1 #183)3x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)3x Telescopic Sight (SWSH4 #160)2x Evolution Incense (SWSH1 #163)2x Capacious Bucket (SWSH2 #156)3x Viridian Forest (TEU #156)

Energy (12)

12x Water Energy (EVO #93)

The Pokemon Lineup

The Pokemon choices in this list are, as I said, rather straightforward. I haven’t included many tech Pokemon in here, both because you don’t necessarily need them, and because it turns out this deck has to be rather focused on the early-game goal in order to pull it off consistently. The only exception here is the Kyogre — every other Pokemon is either Blastoise V or VMAX, or a consistency Pokemon. In this deck, you need to be able to find your way to a Blastoise VMAX as early as possible, and you’ll want to use every tool at your disposal to do so. The Kyogre is included as a backup plan so that you still have a way to accelerate Energy even if the Rose play doesn’t quite work out. There are some other cards you can include, such as Cryogonal, Ditto V (to act as a 5th Blastoise V), Empoleon V, or Cramorant V, but in my experience, I’ve had the most success with a streamlined Kricketune V / Blastoise VMAX list.  

Trainer Cards

Likewise, the Trainers in this deck are included with the early game in mind. You don’t need quite as many draw Supporters in this deck, since this list instead has a strong focus on Pokemon-based draw power, so I’ve included only three Professor's Research and two Marnie. With fewer draw Supporters, we have more room for Rose. Because Rose is the key to this deck, I’ve included a full four of them, to maximize the chance of being able to draw into one early. Even if we only end up using it once, the advantage we get from using it early is substantial enough that we can justify having a weaker late-game Trainer lineup. Our other Supporters are two Boss's Orders, and one Cheryl. Since Grand Falls makes it easy enough to power up a second Blastoise VMAX, there are plenty of opportunities to use Cheryl; this can end up buying you an extra turn, which can be enough to get you a win in a match where you otherwise might not be able to. Eldegoss V can recover any of these as well, which makes the slightly lighter count of the draw Supporters and Boss’s Orders less of a burden.

We’ve got nine Pokemon-searching Items in this list, as well as five cards to search out our Water Energy — again, we want to prioritize finding the pieces to pull off the early Rose play, and these counts allow us to do just that. Viridian Forest also gives us a way to thin our hand slightly, which can be quite useful for drawing extra cards with Kricketune V. Rounding out the Trainers, we have three Telescopic Sight, which can help set up those multi-Knock Out turns I mentioned above. Finally, twelve Water Energy make up our Energy line; this is the most I felt like I could include before the Trainers started to feel substantially impacted. With twelve, we have enough Energy to fulfil our important early-game needs, while still having enough to utilize Grand Falls. This deck can thin Energy out rather easily between Grand Falls and the five Energy-searching Trainers, so even with twelve, this isn’t a deck that will see its consistency impacted by having too many Energy left in the deck. 

Deck Strategy

When playing this deck, the most critical thing is to get Blastoise VMAX into play and attacking quickly. On your first turn, your top priority will be to get Blastoise V into play and to get a Water Energy attached to it so that you can set up the potential turn two G-Max Bombard play. Your other goals this turn will be to get Water Energy in your discard pile (so there’s something for Rose to get), and to find a Kricketune V and potentially a second Blastoise V. If you go second, then you can use Kyogre to accelerate two of those Energy in advance, which can make things a bit easier. In theory, you may not have to use Rose at all if the situation is right to go from Kyogre straight into using Grand Falls.

The second turn is where the deck’s magic happens, as this is the turn where you can first use Rose to finish powering up your Blastoise VMAX. First, you’ll want to make sure that all of the prerequisites for using Rose — VMAX in play, Energy in the discard, etc. — are fulfilled. Ideally, you should get yourself into a scenario so that even if the three cards you draw from Kricketune V after using Rose aren’t ideal, you can still attack.

It’s important to have the Blastoise VMAX you plan to attack with in the Active Spot in advance, in case you don’t hit a switching card after using the Rose. If you can, you can also use Oranguru here, in case you have a card in hand that you don’t want to get rid of (such as a Boss’s Orders), or that can help get you to a better hand after using Rose (such as a Crobat V or a draw Supporter). In these first two turns, you’ll want to do everything you can to get to that early Rose play. There are games where I’ve finished turn two with two Dedenne-GX and Crobat V in play, because if that’s what it takes to get powered up, you shouldn’t hesitate to use those Pokemon. Basically, don’t hold back when it comes to drawing through your deck, using up resources, or doing anything else that might have a negative consequence later, as the downside of missing the turn-two attack is at least as bad. 

Of course, you still won’t always have the cards needed to pull off the Rose play. In such a scenario, you’ll want to do what you can to continue building toward it, so that you can hopefully pull it off on the following turn. In the meantime, you’ll want to continue to use Kyogre to accelerate Energy or use Grand Falls to power up a second Blastoise VMAX if you were able to use Kyogre on your first turn. 

Once you are powered up, then the strategy shifts to figuring out how you can take your Knock Outs. In many matchups, you can win a turn faster by taking a double-KO if you’re able to keep Telescopic Sight on for each use of G-Max Bombard, so you’ll certainly want to make sure that you have that attached. You’ll generally want to use G-Max Bombard as often as you can, but if you do run into a scenario where Grand Falls can get a KO (or set one up), make sure to use it instead. That way, not only will you set up your second Blastoise VMAX, but you’ll also thin your deck out a bit, to give you more consistency against late-game Marnie or Reset Stamp. This deck already is pretty robust against those plays thanks to Kricketune V, but if you’re able to get all of your Energy out of the deck, you can all but guarantee you won’t lose to that kind of hand disruption.


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