The Beginning of the Reign — Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in Standard

Hello everyone! We’re just past the release of Chilling Reign, our last set before the 2021 Standard rotation. Chilling Reign has a ton going for it, both for collectors and for competitive players. The set is plentiful with viable archetypes, ranging from non-Pokemon V decks like Malamar, to a plethora of Pokemon VMAX decks including Tornadus VMAX, Sandaconda VMAX, and both Calyrex VMAX. There are also plenty of great additions to existing decks, from small techs like Path to the Peak or Zeraora V, to the emergence of entire engines built around Drizzile and Inteleon. Basically, there is going to be a lot to talk about!

To kick things off, I’ll be starting by writing about one of the more popular archetypes to come out of Chilling Reign: Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX . If online markets are anything to go by, Shadow Rider Calyrex is by far the most hyped archetype in Chilling Reign. Its cards are not only more expensive than comparable ones (with regards to collectability, such as Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX), but there has also been more demand for them despite that higher price. This isn’t the case simply because collectors find Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX to be a cool card (I’m pretty sure Ice Rider is supposed to be the “cool” one?), but because Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is one of the most powerful Pokemon to hit the game in recent memory. Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX can play three important roles: It provides Energy acceleration, it provides draw power, and it is a strong attacker. If a Pokemon has even one of these attributes, you can potentially build a deck around it. For Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX to have all three borders on absurd. It’s less of a question of “will Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX be good?”, so much as “what’s the best way to play Shadow Rider Calyrex?”. Given that there are quite a few different ways you can build around Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, that isn’t necessarily an easy question to answer! 

Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX / Tag Teams

There are numerous secondary attackers, such as Alcremie VMAX or Tag Team Pokemon-GX including Mewtwo and Mew-GX, Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX, and Gengar and Mimikyu-GX that you can pair with Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX. Of course, you can always focus solely on attacking with Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX itself — after a few turns, its damage output rivals anything else in the format. There are a few builds of Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX that I have been working with, two that are more damage-focused, and one more disruption-focused. The first and second lists I have here focus on aggression and consistency. The idea here is that you want to rush to get a bunch of Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX into play, then load up on Psychic Energy over the next few turns. Before too long, you’ll be swinging for incredible amounts of damage, while also having the hand size to deal with anything that might stand in your way. Here is the first list, which pairs Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX with a few Tag Team Pokemon-GX:

Pokemon (16)

4x Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX (SWSH6 #75)4x Shadow Rider Calyrex V (SWSH6 #74)1x Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX (PRSM #SM217)1x Gengar and Mimikyu-GX (TEU #53)1x Cresselia (SWSH6 #64)1x Galarian Zapdos V (SWSH6 #80)1x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)1x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Marshadow (UNB #81)1x Mewtwo (UNB #75)

Trainers (29)

3x Professor's Research (SWSH1 #178)3x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)2x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)1x Peonia (SWSH6 #149)1x Klara (SWSH6 #145)4x Fog Crystal (SWSH6 #140)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Evolution Incense (SWSH1 #163)2x Switch (SWSH1 #183)1x Air Balloon (SWSH1 #156)1x Reset Stamp (UNM #206)2x Viridian Forest (TEU #156)1x Chaotic Swell (COE #187)

Energy (15)

14x Psychic Energy (EVO #95)1x Fighting Energy (EVO #96)


Much of this list is built around the idea that in order to have success, you want to get as many Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX into play as quickly as you can. Unlike other Pokemon VMAX that you might only need two of per game, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is a deck where you’ll want three, if not four, Pokemon VMAX in play. So, we play a full 4-4 line of Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, as well as plenty of ways to search out those Pokemon. Eight basic-searching Items might seem like overkill but given the importance of finding your Shadow Rider Calyrex V early, you won’t want to play any less than that regardless of your deck build.

From there, we also have a small group of alternate attackers, with Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX, Gengar and Mimikyu-GX, Cresselia, and Galarian Zapdos V. Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX is one of the most noxious attackers in the game, especially early on and when combined with Marnie. With Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, it is possible to use Night Watch as early as turn 2! Gengar and Mimikyu-GX likewise helps to further push that disruption angle with Horror House GX. At worst, Horror House GX buys you a valuable turn, which in a Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX deck means an extra turn of using Underworld Door. This means more Energy, more cards in your hand, and more damage! Of course, if your opponent has a slow turn 1, Horror House GX can secure you an immediate win or transition into a punishing Marnie + Night Watch combo. Cresselia is your other go-to first turn attacker, specifically for those scenarios where you don’t want to use Gengar and Mimikyu-GX. This will typically happen if your opponent has a strong turn 1 setup, and might be capable of threatening the Gengar and Mimikyu-GX, or if Gengar and Mimikyu-GX would be too much of a liability late-game to justify going for the early disruption win. Using Cresselia also lets you push your damage output early if you need to; if they don’t follow up with an immediate KO, you can immediately start to take some KOs of your own. Cresselia does give you a strong out to Altaria, which can otherwise be tricky. Galarian Zapdos V is included to counter Eternatus VMAX decks, like it was designed to. You can use Klara to immediately recover the Galarian Zapdos V and your Fighting Energy if your Galarian Zapdos V does get Knocked Out, so that you can use it a second time to win the game. Be sure to be on the lookout for other times that you can use Galarian Zapdos V — even against decks that aren’t Eternatus VMAX. A one Energy for 170 damage attack does have some great utility, especially as Galarian Zapdos V is one of your only attackers (along with Cresselia) that doesn’t give up three Prizes.

This deck includes your usual draw Pokemon Dedenne-GX and Crobat V. But I’ve opted to include Mewtwo instead of Eldegoss V since you immediately draw it using Underworld Door, plus with Mewtwo you can have one less Prize liability in play. You can also use it if needed while locked under Path to the Peak, though you won’t be able to use Underworld Door to draw into the Supporter in that scenario. You can also find Mewtwo with Fog Crystal, giving you four additional outs to find it when you need it.

Finally, Marshadow is included to give this deck a searchable way to discard Path to the Peak. Since Path to the Peak can otherwise shut down this deck’s draw and Energy acceleration engine, it is imperative that you be able to discard it with consistency. Otherwise, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX will likely lose the game if it can’t bump that Stadium. 


Moving onto the Trainers, you might notice that the Supporter count is a bit lighter than it might be in other decks. This is because we won’t need these cards nearly as much once we do have our Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in play. With that said, we still want to have a decent number to use in the earlier stages of the game. You’ll typically use Professor's Research earlier, and Marnie later on. Our other “draw” Supporter is Peonia, as it is one of the new cards I’ve become quite fond of especially in decks that have built-in consistency (as we do with Underworld Door).

The key to Peonia is to make sure you thoroughly check your deck during your searches to deduce what is in your Prizes, that way you can know whether or not Peonia is worth using. With Peonia, we can be a bit more aggressive with regards to playing single copies of cards, such as our one Galarian Zapdos V. Finally, it’s worth noting that Peonia, in addition to allowing you to pick which cards in your hand will go into your Prizes, does not require you to shuffle your Prizes afterward. This allows you to have some foresight into what you will draw off of your Prizes later. Be sure to take notes! Again, the more effectively you Prize-check, the more impactful Peonia will be, as the non-shuffling aspect also means you can further narrow down what the other Prize cards are as well. 

Our Items are mostly limited to our heavy counts of Pokemon search and switching cards. Three switching cards can admittedly feel light at times, as Underworld Door can only attach Psychic Energy cards to Pokemon on the Bench. With that said, that feeling is mostly limited to the early-game, as you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a Switch once you have access to Underworld Door. I do have one copy of Reset Stamp in the deck; not only is it nice to have a bit of hand disruption, but Reset Stamp can also lead to some easy wins late-game when used in combination with Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX‘s Night Watch.

As for Stadiums, I’ve included a split between Viridian Forest and Chaotic Swell. While Viridian Forest is clearly the more useful of the two, Chaotic Swell is more helpful when it comes to countering Path to the Peak. I wouldn’t go below this count of Stadiums, as it is absolutely necessary for you to be able to consistently remove Path to the Peak when you face it. 

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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