The Ghost Returns — Another Look at Dragapult VMAX

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since any of us here at PokeBeach talked about Dragapult VMAX. With Player’s Cup IV qualifiers starting up, now seems like an excellent time to re-evaluate this deck. What was once the most hyped deck to come from Rebel Clash unfortunately faded rather quickly once Eternatus VMAX was revealed one set later in Darkness Ablaze. While Dragapult VMAX has never fully left the meta, there is no doubt that it had never quite gotten to the level of competitiveness that had originally been hoped for. But now, thanks to Battle Styles, Dragapult VMAX is finally starting to claim its spot as a key member of the competitive Standard metagame. Dragapult VMAX has seen an incredible resurgence recently, thanks to the rise of single-Prize attacking decks and the new Urshifu VMAX decks as well as the decline of Eternatus VMAX. The release of Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX was about as much of a boon as one could hope for; not only is Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX an excellent matchup for Dragapult VMAX, but it also helps to weaken the meta position of Eternatus VMAX, one of Dragapult VMAX’s worst matchups. Further helping Dragapult VMAX, the return of Level Ball has pushed some single-Prize attacking decks into the top tier; Mad Party, in particular, has begun to emerge as a Tier 1 option. The end result of all of this is that Dragapult VMAX’s meta position is drastically better than it was during the TEU-VIV meta. Given that, there’s no better time than now to take another peek at Dragapult VMAX. 

My Dragapult VMAX List

Dragapult VMAX is another one of those decks that wins not by high levels of direct damage, but rather by planning ahead and winning via spread damage and multi KO turns. It is a highly efficient Pokemon; it doesn’t take much to power up and once you have it going, you don’t need to switch it out or reattach Energy. You can instead just keep attacking and focus your resources elsewhere. Because of this efficiency, there is a ton of room in a Dragapult VMAX list for cards such as Crushing Hammer or tech Pokemon, as you’ll see in the list below. 

There are a few different ways you can play Dragapult VMAX, including Green's Exploration builds and builds with a second Pokemon VMAX (such as Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX), but I’ve found that this more “traditional” list has played the best. Here’s the list that I’ve been using:

Pokemon (14)

3x Dragapult VMAX (SWSH2 #93)4x Dragapult V (SWSH2 #92)2x Galarian Zigzagoon (SWSH1 #117)1x Giratina (UNM #86)1x Mewtwo (UNB #75)1x Oranguru (SWSH1 #148)1x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)1x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)

Trainers (36)

4x Professor's Research (SWSH1 #178)4x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)4x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)1x Rose (SWSH3 #168)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)4x Scoop Up Net (SWSH2 #165)4x Crushing Hammer (SWSH1 #159)2x Escape Rope (SWSH5 #125)2x U-Turn Board (UNM #211)1x Tool Scrapper (SWSH2 #168)1x Fan of Waves (SWSH5 #127)1x Chaotic Swell (COE #187)

Energy (10)

6x Psychic Energy (EVO #95)4x Horror P Energy (SWSH2 #172)

Pokemon

Our Pokemon line here consists of the Dragapult VMAX line, our consistency Pokemon, and a variety of single-Prize Pokemon to assist us along the way. Galarian Zigzagoon is an excellent Pokemon to play with Dragapult VMAX. It sets up damage where needed for your Knock Outs and is particularly helpful for setting up Knock Outs with Max Phantom’s damage to your opponent’s Bench. By playing Galarian Zigzagoon with a full four Scoop Up Net, we can potentially add 60 damage per game with Headbutt Tantrum. While we won’t necessarily need to use it six times, the extra redundancy does allow us to use it consistently when we do need it. Since there is some redundancy, we can then use some of those Scoop Up Net on other impactful Pokemon, so I’ve included a copy each of Giratina and Mewtwo. My list originally did play Jirachi as well, but I tended to find that it was more of a liability than a benefit. Without Escape Board, you need to use either one of your switching cards or one of your Scoop Up Net to get it out of the Active Spot, and Stellar Wish rarely makes that resource usage worth it. While it might seem like a natural addition given that you already want to play Scoop Up Net to go with your Galarian Zigzagoon, in practice it isn’t actually of much use.

Trainers

There are three main goals with this Trainer line, which I think it achieves pretty well. The first is early-game consistency. In order for Dragapult VMAX to succeed, it needs to get going at least as fast as the opponent, so that you don’t fall too far behind before you can start taking advantage of your spread damage. You’ll typically need to use Max Phantom at least three times in order to win; the sooner you can use those attacks, the better. For this goal, I’ve included a full four each of Professor's Research and Marnie, as well as four each of our Pokemon-search Items. Pokémon Communication is the best secondary search Item that we have, as it can also find Dragapult V (unlike, say, Evolution Incense), and while it may seem a bit lacking given that we only play 14 Pokemon, our four copies of Scoop Up Net do make finding a Pokemon to shuffle in a bit easier.  

The second goal is to disrupt your opponent, so you can push yourself even further ahead or give yourself a chance to catch up if the early game didn’t go quite as planned. A major advantage that Dragapult VMAX has is that it doesn’t take much to get going — just the Dragapult VMAX itself and some Energy — which leaves plenty of room for disruption options. In this deck, we play not only the full four Crushing Hammer, but also one copy of Fan of Waves, giving us six Energy removal cards total counting Giratina. While Fan of Waves may seem redundant given that we do have Giratina, it is nice to have an option that can hit Energy on your opponent’s Bench so that they can’t simply play around Dimension Breach. Tool Scrapper can also play a disruption role against an opponent using Air Balloon, though its more relevant purpose is to remove Big Charm (commonly seen in Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX lists) or similar Tools. Chaotic Swell is included to disrupt Stadium-using decks such as Welder variants. There are two Stadiums that you’ll commonly see in Dragapult VMAX lists: Power Plant or Chaotic Swell. In this list, I’ve opted for the latter. The goal of either is to slow down your opponent; Power Plant stops your opponent from being able to use Dedenne-GX‘s Dedechange, whereas Chaotic Swell prevents them from using any beneficial Stadiums, such as Giant Hearth. Generally, I’ve found that most lists play enough Stadiums to get around Power Plant, so it isn’t quite as effective as it might otherwise be. In contrast, most decks don’t play the Marshadow that they would need to get around Chaotic Swell, so it is somewhat reliable as a counter to decks that take advantage of Stadiums. If you can get the Chaotic Swell into play early, you can considerably slow down any Victini VMAX or Centiskorch VMAX deck you might run into, which can likewise buy you enough time to win those matchups. 


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