Between a Rock and a Hard Place — Coalossal VMAX in Standard

Hello PokeBeach readers! I am once again bringing you a Standard format article!

Since last time, the Battle Styles meta has had quite a bit of time to develop, with a wide variety of decks taking down major online events. Many new decks such as Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX are fulfilling their potential and becoming one of the most played decks in the format, taking down multiple 200+ player events in the process. In addition to the success of Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, quite a few familiar faces such as Blacephalon and Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX have continued to succeed. In addition to those familiar faces, Pikachu and Zekrom-GX and Eternatus VMAX have remained very potent threats despite the expectation that they would fade off into obscurity with the addition of multiple major Fighting-type threats in the Standard format. Lastly, and maybe most surprisingly, Mad Party (Polteageist) has started to make a resurgence, largely thanks to the addition of Level Ball, allowing it to search for attackers with more consistency and also load up a hand full of Mad Party Pokemon to be discarded with the effects of Professor's Research and / or Dedenne-GX.

Now with Players Cup IV on the horizon, I expect to see the format settle even further toward a concentration on the top three decks, which at this point, I would say they are Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V, Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, and Eternatus VMAX, which is going to leave room for quite the variety of heavy counter decks to emerge. Decks like Rillaboom / Mewtwo and Mew-GX are starting to pop up now, thanks to their strength when it comes to handling each of the top decks. This consideration of taking down the top decks also brings me to the topic of today’s article: Coalossal VMAX.

Why Play Coalossal VMAX?

“Why play Coalossal VMAX?” is probably one of the first questions you might be asking. On paper, it is a worse Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, right? After putting some time in with the deck, I am honestly not so certain. The first attacks on Coalossal VMAX and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX are similar, each hitting for a around the same number for a single Fighting Energy. Unfortunately, the 20 damage difference between each of their damage outputs is quite significant, as Coalossal VMAX struggles to take two-hit Knock Outs on some of the most relevant Tag Team Pokemon-GX in Standard, such as the 280 HP Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX and the 270 HP Mewtwo and Mew-GX. When it comes to each of their second attacks, the utility of G-Max Rapid Flow cannot be understated, as it provides an excellent option to set up future Knock Outs as well as take some by itself. Coalossal VMAX on the other hand, has a second attack that deals much more damage, dealing 240, but for an astounding four Energy. This second attack is sometimes quite difficult to power up.

At this point, I probably have not made the greatest case for Coalossal VMAX, but I think one of its major advantages over Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is one that does not stick out that much, being a Weakness to Grass-type instead of Psychic-type Pokemon. At this point in the format, Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is starting to make quite the name for itself. Naturally, more counters to the deck will start to emerge. In line with this expectation, many Fighting-type weak decks are including their own counters, such as Mewtwo and Mew-GX in Pikachu and Zekrom-GX decks and Weakness Guard Energy in Eternatus VMAX. Additionally, decks like the aforementioned Mad Party and Rillaboom / Mewtwo and Mew-GX as well as Welder / Mewtwo and Mew-GX are all popping up to take advantage of this Weakness. Fortunately for Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, it does have a pretty easy tech for the Weakness issue with Jirachi-GX. But even then, the Psychic-type decks can take a Knock Out on Jirachi-GX with relative ease, putting that Weakness back on Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX. On the other hand, Coalossal VMAX does not have to deal with the surge of Psychic-type threats thanks to its Grass-type Weakness, aside from Rillaboom which is inconveniently a Grass-type. As a result of this, you are able to take advantage of almost all of the same matchups that Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX does, but you do not need to deal with the plethora of emerging issues.

How do we approach building Coalossal VMAX?

Admittedly, the first time I played Coalossal VMAX, it was completely a joke. A group of friends and I decided to jokingly sign up for an event with our names being those of various characters from Pixar’s Cars. For that I chose to be a character named Luigi, who is known for selling tires. I chose Coalossal VMAX for this character solely because of the evolution line being based off of a coal car and since I was playing for fun, I did not mind playing a deck that I thought was generally mediocre. Just minutes before the event, I copy and pasted the first Coalossal VMAX deck list I found, made three changes and registered it. Upon showing the deck list to a friend, they suggested something that had not yet crossed my mind: What if I focused on looping Cheryl to keep Coalossal VMAX alive? I was instantly intrigued by the idea and made a few changes, settling on the following list.

Initial Deck List

Pokemon (16)

3x Coalossal VMAX (SWSH4 #99)4x Coalossal V (SWSH4 #98)2x Oranguru (SWSH1 #148)1x Mewtwo (UNB #75)2x Jirachi (SWSH4 #119)2x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)1x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Mew (UNB #76)

Trainers (32)

4x Professor's Research (SWSH45 #60)3x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)2x Boss's Orders (SWSH45 #58)2x Cheryl (SWSH5 #123)4x Scoop Up Net (SWSH2 #165)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)3x Switch (SWSH1 #183)2x Air Balloon (SWSH1 #156)1x Escape Rope (SWSH5 #125)3x Training Court (SWSH2 #169)

Energy (12)

4x Stone Fighting Energy (SWSH4 #164)8x Fighting Energy (HS #120)

Three Coalossal VMAX, Four Coalossal V, and Two Oranguru

The Coalossal VMAX line in this deck is pretty straightforward, being a reminder of one statement that I frequently mention: Consistency is key. The only reason I opted against a 4-4 line of Coalossal VMAX is because this deck was rather tight on space, so I had to make a sacrificial cut somewhere. I already went over the main strengths of Coalossal VMAX earlier, so I will not go super in-depth again, but I do want to remind you that Eruption Shot requires you to discard an Energy card off of the top of your deck to do any reasonable damage, which is exactly where Oranguru comes in. Oranguru allows you to draw the top card of your deck in exchange for taking any card from your hand and putting it on top of your deck. This works perfectly with Coalossal VMAX, as it allows you to draw an extra card, the importance of which will be addressed later, and place a much needed Energy on top of your deck, allowing you to maintain hits for 130 damage every turn.

One Mewtwo, Two Cheryl, and Four Scoop Up Net

I think it should come as no surprise that I included Mewtwo in this deck. Mewtwo provides a means of recovering various critical Supporter cards such as Boss's Orders or Marnie throughout a game to maintain a strong and consistent flow of Supporter cards. However, Mewtwo’s utility is magnified in this deck because of the Oranguru strategy associated with the usage of Eruption Shot. Thanks to your frequent usage of Primate Wisdom, you can use Mewtwo to put a powerful Supporter card on top of your deck, immediately take it with Oranguru, then put your Energy on top of your deck in one swift swoop, allowing you to make a slew of powerful Supporter plays. Mewtwo’s potential is expanded even further by the inclusion of four Scoop Up Net, allowing you to repeatedly pick up Mewtwo and bench it again to chain together Supporter cards.

The most important part of this Mewtwo looping strategy is the heart and soul of this deck: Cheryl. Upon Cheryl being revealed a few months back, I was pretty excited, as I had talked about how interesting it would be for Max Potion or Acerola to see a reprint, and Cheryl somewhat fit the bill. Thanks to the bulky nature of Coalossal VMAX because of its high HP, the inclusion of Stone Fighting Energy, and an uncommon Weakness, your Coalossal VMAX is rarely being Knocked Out in a single attack. When they fail to take the Knock Out, you can Mewtwo for Cheryl, wipe the damage off of Coalossal VMAX, attach another Fighting Energy, and keep attacking. This loop, although it is possible in a variety of decks, feels the strongest in this particular deck largely thanks to Coalossal VMAX’s bulk and ability to attack for a single Energy card.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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