The BDIF Has Been Discovered — And It Plays Dream Ball!

Hello everyone! This is Grant Manley here with another article about the Standard format. Fusion Strike is just about to be released, and apparently it’s the largest set ever printed. Although the set has plenty of cool cards as well as the new Fusion Strike mechanic, it doesn’t seem like it will have an earth-shattering impact on the Standard format. This means that current testing and knowledge of the format will more or less carry over into the new format after the set’s release.

That said, we should expect an emergence of the Fusion Strike archetype featuring Mew VMAX and Genesect V, as well as the new Inteleon VMAX to see some play. Mew VMAX is an interesting card to introduce right now, as it is a Psychic-type that’s weak to Darkness-type. This means that it will have lopsided interactions with decks that currently exist such as Umbreon VMAX and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX. This may make Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX slightly weaker in the meta, but that deck has a way of persisting and finding new partners. Gengar VMAX is a notable new card as well, but I’m not convinced that it’s the correct option for Single Strike variants. At best, it’s just that — an option. One or two new archetypes, especially ones that may not be Tier 1, do introduce some change into the format, but I still expect things to remain similar to how they are now.

With the obligatory Fusion Strike preamble out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes. I’ve recently started streaming PTCGO regularly over at, and what this has afforded me is the opportunity to play a lot more Pokemon. As such, I’ve gotten to try out more decks and put more time into the game. The best deck I’ve played so far is Jolteon VMAX with an interesting combo of Dream Ball and Dusknoir. Let’s look at the list:

Jolteon VMAX / Dusknoir / Dream Ball Deck List

Pokemon (21)

3x Jolteon VMAX (SWSH7 #51)4x Jolteon V (SWSH7 #177)1x Inteleon (SWSH1 #58)2x Inteleon (SWSH6 #43)4x Drizzile (SWSH1 #56)4x Sobble (SWSH1 #55)2x Galarian Zigzagoon (SWSH1 #117)1x Dusknoir (SWSH4 #71)

Trainers (32)

3x Professor's Research (SWSH1 #178)3x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)1x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)1x Cheryl (SWSH5 #123)1x Peonia (SWSH6 #149)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Level Ball (SWSH5 #129)4x Evolution Incense (SWSH1 #163)3x Scoop Up Net (SWSH2 #165)3x Elemental Badge (SWSH7 #147)1x Tool Scrapper (SWSH2 #168)1x Energy Search (SWSH1 #161)1x Dream Ball (SWSH7 #146)2x Path to the Peak (SWSH6 #148)

Energy (7)

4x Speed L Energy (SWSH2 #173)3x Lightning Energy (XY #135)

I think that this is the best deck in the format. It operates just like your typical Jolteon VMAX deck, but it has the Dusknoir package included. Thanks to Drizzile and Inteleon with the Shady Dealings Ability, this deck can consistently activate the Peonia + Dream Ball combo. Dusknoir, of course, deactivates all Special Energy in play. This is included specifically to target Rapid Strike Energy and Single Strike Energy. This, in turn, makes Urshifu variants a breeze instead of the nightmare matchups they used to be. In games where you use Dusknoir, be mindful that Speed L Energy turns into a Colorless Energy. You’ll have to use basic Lightning Energy in order to attack with Max Thunder Rumble.

In all other respects, this Jolteon VMAX list is built as per normal. All cards are run in the minimum quantities requires in order to make space for the Dusknoir package. This means that if you’re playing the Dusknoir, there isn’t much room for changing the card counts. You basically have to run this 60 for the deck to function, or something very close to it. Also, some versions of this deck played Duskull and Rare Candy to set up Dusknoir instead of Dream Ball. However, Dream Ball is superior for several reasons.

Problems with Duskull

First, Duskull can potentially get sniped off before it can evolve. The decks that Dusknoir targets have access to either Umbreon VMAX’s Dark Signal or Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX’s G-Max Rapid Flow, both of which can easily eliminate Duskull. Additionally, having to search out Duskull, Rare Candy, and Dusknoir is a pain, and it strains the early-game functionality of the deck. Next, Duskull and Rare Candy are dead cards in matchups where you don’t need Dusknoir, whereas Peonia and Dream Ball have at least marginal functionality in every matchup. You can use Dream Ball for any Pokemon after all, so occasionally you may use it to “cheat” an Inteleon or Jolteon VMAX into play. Finally, thanks to Peonia’s ability to tamper with your Prize cards, this deck is overall more resilient to prizing issues than the Duskull version.

Dream Ball Mechanics

Oftentimes you’ll have to use Shady Dealings to search out both Dream Ball and Peonia, but there are also times where you already have one in hand and only have to search out the other piece. Even if you aren’t immediately going to use Dream Ball, you can set up the combo any time. If Dream Ball is among your Prizes, using Peonia gives you a 50 percent shot of finding it. Even if you miss, you know Dream Ball is in the other three Prizes. Since Jolteon VMAX can often take two Prizes with its first attack, it is a two out of three shot to pick up Dream Ball. However, your overall odds of getting Dream Ball if it’s Prized are 5/6 thanks to Peonia, or 83%. Saying it’s 67% is a result of gambler’s fallacy. You only whiff Dream Ball if it’s the last Prize (the one you aren’t able to check). As a side note, a similar situation is illustrated in the famous Monty Hall problem, which I find to be a fun thought experiment. These examples help understand how statistics interact with relevant scenarios. Although this understanding likely won’t affect your decision-making in this situation related to Dream Ball, it will certainly help to do so in other situations in the Pokemon TCG.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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Aspiring Trainer
I am worried about discarding peonia/cheryl early, maybe pal pad is an option?


Aspiring Trainer
Interesting read - I liked the Bertrand’s box paradox-esque take on the DB mechanics. Well done.