Tapu Koko VMAX is the Most Underrated Broken Deck!

Hello everyone! This is Grant Manley, back after a month since my last article. I’ve been playing Standard on and off lately, and the format overall seems to be rather dynamic and interesting. I haven’t really decided how I feel about the format. It certainly has some issues, but doesn’t seem to be too bad as a whole. In this article I want to go over some general observations of Standard decks and how they interact with each other, as well as share one of my pet rogue decks that does quite well in the current meta. I was going to write about the Single Strike deck, but I saw that Zak covered that deck very well a couple of weeks ago, so I definitely recommend checking out his article! In any case, I still want to briefly go over the deck, my list, and its matchups.

Surprisingly, both Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX decks have regressed a little bit in popularity after being early frontrunners in the format. They seem to have settled around Tier 2 in terms of success and popularity. This is certainly a positive thing, especially compared to the alternative of them gatekeeping other decks. There’s close to a dozen viable decks in the top two tiers of the current format. The meta is rather diverse and interesting in terms of attackers, though half or more of the decks have Inteleon. The omnipresence of Inteleon is a little bit annoying to me, but its not a huge problem. Objectively speaking, I think the Inteleon engine is objectively good for the game because it increases consistency, versatility, control, and tech options for decks. This also increases the skill required in deck building and gameplay. The format is dominated by Pokemon VMAX as attackers, which again isn’t objectively bad, it’s just how it is.

There are a lot of techs and interesting interactions in the meta. One example of this is the Tool meta, where many decks play Tool Jammer, Tool Scrapper, or both of them. There are tons of relevant Tools such as all of the Eeveelution badge Tools such as Elemental Badge and Ribbon Badge, Air Balloon, as well as the Cape of Toughness. Decks can choose whether or not they want to include Tool-hate cards, and the effects can be seen in deck composition and consistency, as well as matchup interactions. Other times this is shown is with cards like Cheryl and Path to the Peak. It’s interesting how all of these optional cards affect the meta and matchups in various ways. Because of all of the reasons I’ve gone over, I feel that the format is actually rather decent overall.

The biggest glaring issue with the current format is the overwhelming advantage of winning the opening coin flip. Many games and matchups are decided completely by who goes first, or at least creates an uphill battle for the player who starts off on the back foot. Since the first turn is already quite restricted — as you can’t attack or play a Supporter — it’s difficult to think of a way to balance this out. It’s also surprising that even with these restrictions, going first is such a big advantage. It’s probably not something one would have expected before seeing it play out this way.

Single Strike

I want to briefly go over Single Strike because it’s a deck I’ve been playing a bit with recently and it is incredibly strong right now. I won’t spend as much time as usual on it because Zak wrote about it and our lists are similar.

Pokemon (21)

2x Single Strike Urshifu VMAX (SWSH5 #86)3x Single Strike Urshifu V (SWSH5 #85)3x Umbreon VMAX (SWSH7 #95)3x Umbreon V (SWSH7 #94)4x Houndoom (SWSH5 #96)4x Houndour (SWSH5 #95)2x Crobat V (SWSH45 #44)

Trainers (30)

4x Professor's Research (SWSH35 #62)4x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)2x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Evolution Incense (SWSH1 #163)4x Urn of Vitality (SWSH5 #139)3x Great Ball (SWSH35 #52)3x Air Balloon (SWSH1 #156)2x Tower of Darkness (SWSH5 #137)

Energy (9)

4x Single Strike Energy (SWSH5 #141)4x Capture Energy (SWSH2 #171)1x Darkness Energy (XY #138)

Single Strike is an absurdly powerful deck that has the ability to beat anything when it sets up well. The catch here is that the deck is a bit high-maintenance, so it sometimes does not find all the pieces it needs right away. To help remedy this to an extent, I’ve opted for a completely straightforward list that solely focuses on consistency. This is reflected in card choices like the second Crobat V and three Great Ball , which are not normally found in the archetype. I’ve found these inclusions to be extremely helpful when playing the deck. They certainly help with increasing consistency.

I also play one Darkness Energy and no Fighting Energy. I find myself attacking with Umbreon more often than not, and Single Strike Urshifu can function just fine without Basic Fighting Energy. Furthermore, the Darkness Energy is helpful against the Dusknoir tech that has been popping up in some decks (mostly Jolteon VMAX). For a list with two Fighting Energy and no Darkness Energy, it’s considerably more difficult to beat Dusknoir. That said, there’s often an opportunity to take out Duskull before it evolves, so the value of Darkness Energy can still be debated.


On paper, Single Strike has a very reasonable matchup spread. However, the only truly horrible matchup is Leafeon VMAX. The close matchups are very winnable, depending on how fast Single Strike sets up and if it gets to go first.  Leafeon VMAX is tough because it can fairly easily and quickly OHKO every Pokemon in the Single Strike deck, and it’s relatively difficult to OHKO in return. It’s possible to beat Leafeon VMAX, but you’ll need many things to go right.

Tapu Koko VMAX

I would like to introduce a deck that is seeing essentially zero competitive play, but it certainly deserves to! Tapu Koko VMAX is a card that looks underwhelming on paper, but it’s actually a monster. It only has one attack, which does 180 damage and the opponent’s Pokemon is Paralyzed if they are ahead on Prize cards. Like many other Pokemon VMAX, it is only able to 2HKO opposing Pokemon VMAX. However, the paralyze effect gives it a significant advantage.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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