A First Look at Eternatus VMAX
~Disclaimer: some photos used in this article are strictly content created by the community to use as stand-ins until official English translations arrive. They are in no way intended as a way to represent officially licensed Pokemon cards.~
Hello FlipSide Readers! Andrew here with another article and this time we are going to be taking a first look at one of the strongest decks to come out of Darkness Ablaze: Eternatus VMAX. This card in particular has been on everyone’s radar and many players are expecting this deck to be a big part of the next format’s metagame. After testing with it, I can say that this deck definitely lives up to the hype and today I am going to be sharing my initial build and discussing my card choices. Let’s go!
10 Darkness Energy
This deck’s overall strategy is fairly straightforward; we want to get Eternatus VMAX attacking as soon as possible for high damage. There are quite a few pieces this deck needs to find early on; namely energy, enough pokemon to fill the bench, as well as getting out the big VMAX itself. This means that search and draw are going to be important for hitting every card we need, so my plan was to focus on consistency and only have tech cards that serve the deck’s strategy well. Now let’s talk about the specific cards in the list
This card has a very unique ability in that it allows the player to extend their bench spaces to 8 with the only stipulation being that all pokemon on their side of the field need to be dark Pokemon. While that might sound like a huge set back, we’ll talk about why this isn’t a huge deal in a minute. Let’s focus on the attack: 30x for each darkness pokemon the player has in play. For only two energies, this attack is extremely efficient and has the potential to even take out Tag Team Pokemon in just a few turns. It also does not take much to set up 2 shots on other VMAX Pokemon, especially considering the bulk this card has. 340 hp is an aburgly high number and gives this card an advantage when playing the two shot game. In summary what we have here is a 340 hp tank that can KO most Tag Teams and has an ability that lets you break the rules, needless to say, the card has some value.
While being restricted to using only dark pokemon might seem detrimental to our consistency, Crobat V is one of the key pieces that makes this deck work. It not only contributes to Eternatus VMAX’s damage output but also lets us refresh our hand, granted we can only use it once per turn. I actually like that they limited this ability because it adds a bit more depth to the deck because instead of mindlessly holding your foot on the gas and benching four Crobats in one turn, you have to be at least somewhat considerate of when you want to use this ability during your turn which in turn creates more meaningful decisions and some risks to evaluate. Regardless, the card was almost literally designed for this deck so it makes sense that we are running four copies.
This card really helps adjust the numbers you can with Eternatus VMAX. With Eternatus VMAX's damage cap being at 270, it can be awkward to take efficient knockouts on Pokemon that are just outside of that damage range. Arceaus Dialga Palkia Tag-Team GX (aka ADP) is a perfect example because it is fairly prominent and has 280 hit points which means that we are one damage counter short of knocking this Pokemon out in one go and taking three prizes. With the addition of Galarian Zigzagoon, we fix the numbers and make one shots far more achievable.
To expand upon this idea further, running multiple copies of Zigzagoon allows the deck to adjust damage counters on the fly and have, in one sense, control of which Pokemon we want to deal with. Having access to four copies of this card not only guarantees the extra chip damage when we need it but also gives us more Pokemon to fill our bench with. This card gives the deck more depth as well more options for dealings with even the largest Pokemon in the format.
This card is also not terrible to start since it can be picked with Scoop Up Net and it has a low retreat cost. Overall, I think Zigzagoon is necessary and I would recommend running the four copies.
Weavile GX is great because it allows the deck to be flexible with the energy on board. I will talk about the benefits of turbo patch later on, but it can be awkward with its stipulations. Weavile GX fixes that issue and allows you to maneuver energy between attackers. I have battled between running multiple copies of this card, but through testing I have found that just a 1-1 line is enough to get value.
Hoopa from Unified Minds is an insanely efficient one prize attacker. This card is perhaps the most useful in the mirror match where not only a lot of ability pokemon get played down, but there is also more room to get played down. (How convenient!). This means that Hoopa has great potential to set up two shot knockouts while only giving up a single prize. The same strategy is true in many other matchups where you can use this card. Since most VMAX pokemon have 320 hp, you would only need to set up 50 damage prior to one shot with Eternatus VMAX. This is easily achievable if your opponent puts down at least 2 ability pokemon and that is especially common when most decks are reliant on Dedenne GX, TEU Jirachi, and Crobat V to draw cards.
This one might be kind of an odd-ball inclusion, but I have a few reasons for including this card in the list. First of all, it’s great insurance against any mill or energy disruption deck. Being able to reuse ordinary rod means that you are able to constantly recycle cards, and most importantly energy, into the deck. However, that’s just the main reason for this card being in the deck. I think the second attack can be insanely powerful. The same math used to set up two shots with Hoopa for Eternatus also works with Sableye. With 5 damage counters on the opposing pokemon, you can use Crazy Claw to swing for 300 damage which combined with the 5 damage counters already in play can one shot even the largest of VMAX Pokemon. Considering that this build runs 4 copies of Galarian Zigzagoon and 3 Scoop up Net means that this is fairly achievable and devastating in certain match ups.
Four copies of Professor’s Research, four copies of Marnie and three copies of Boss’s Orders are ubiquitous amongst most Pokemon decks and provides an efficient enough draw to last you the entire game. I tweaked those numbers slightly to work with the Crobat engine in this deck since you have more draw options anyway and having a high amount of supporters in hand can actually be limiting when you try to dig for more cards with Crobat V. That is not to say that the deck wouldn't crumble without these cards, but we want to do our best to strike a balance between the two to maximize our drawing potential in order to get Eternatus VMAX swinging hard early in the game.
The Pokemon search line consists of 4 Quick Ball, 4 Pokemon Communication, and 2 Great Ball. While 10 Pokemon search cards is well above the average most decks run, most decks are also not trying to have 9 pokemon in play so I feel like focusing on heavy search in this deck is the right move. Quick Ball is arguably one of the best cards in Standard so playing four copies makes sense. I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about Pokemon Communication over Great Ball because both do have their advantages and disadvantages. In the end I feel like Pokemon Communication is better since it is not only your only reliable way of searching out your VMAX Pokemon, it also synergizes better with the Crobat V engine since it allows you to lower your hand size by 2 instead of 1 which in turn nets you more cards and contributes more to the deck’s overall consistency. I did however opt to keep in 2 copies of Great Ball because I enjoy the extra options to finding pokemon and it’s card I am never going to be upset at seeing.
One of the toughest situations to be in with a deck like this is being behind on energy attachments. Fortunately, Turbo Patch provides flexibility and allows the deck the option to not forfeit a turn 2 attack if it misses an attachment. The coin flip component might not be great, but in reality you are only looking to hit heads maybe once or twice to keep energy in play. This card combined with Weavile GX gives the card infinitely more flexibility and can be used to stockpile energy in play to pivot between attackers.
Scoop Up Net
This card is great for comboing with Galarian Zigzagoon and helping Eternatus reach high numbers. I’ve found that the extra damage spread plays a pivotal role in tearing through opposing VMAX pokemon. This card essentially gives you up to 7 damage counters to work with during the game which is more than enough to create win conditions on board. I also find it useful in freeing up bench spaces for other pokemon in certain situations. The big downside though to this card is that it provides little to no consistency during the game. That being said, it does give you more options to advance your position in the game and for that reason I think this card is worth running in the deck.
While we are getting a new special energy that gives dark pokemon free retreat, Air Balloon seems to just work better in this deck. It’s a great tool card and is perfect for turning any of your useless bench sitters into a free retreating pivot option. While it might be awkward to use it to retreat a damaged Eternatus VMAX to the bench since you would still need to pay one energy to retreat, having access to Weavile GX and Turbo Patch can help soften that cost. I’ve found 2 copies is enough and it gives the deck a sense of mobility without damaging consistency.
This is perhaps the card I am most on the fence about, but I feel like it does provide good recovery as well as a way to deal with any control or mill deck. Pokemon are a valuable resource in this deck so being able to recycle Crobats as well as your main attacker lessens the danger of falling behind. I also have found that this also helps ensure I get more value out of my 1 of attackers since I can recover them later if they get knocked out or discarded early. I would consider this a flexible card for now and I will definitely need to test more games with it to decide if it should stay in the deck.
Viridian Forest & Black Market Prism
The strategy of this deck requires a lot of digging early on to be aggressive and Viridian Forest can be useful in finding all the pieces the deck needs. While it cannot search out Pokemon, it does search the deck for energy which of course is useful for getting energy attachments each turn as well as thinning out the deck. It also pairs well with Crobat V since we can thin out a dead card from the hand to draw more off Dark Asset.
With our main attacker giving up three prizes, being able to limit that prize exchange is important. It can make it more challenging for your opponent to win the game and allow Eternatus to run through your opponent’s Pokemon. This card is very useful against ADP GX’s attack and can prevent them from running away with certain games. While it can be played around, it’s too good of an effect to pass up for this deck.
And that’s the list! Obviously we still have a long way to go before rotation officially gets here, but if you are looking to start testing this format I hope this list gives you a starting point. There’s plenty of other cards I would like to try out in this deck, namely Reset Stamp and maybe a third Boss’s Order, but I will have to test the deck more to figure out where I can make room for those changes.
I hope you enjoyed this article and a look at where my testing is at. I am going to be putting out more articles on post rotation in the future so be on the lookout! If you have any questions about the list, feel free to comment below and I’ll answer them. If you want to find me online, you can follow me on Twitter @theskypillar. Darkness Ablaze will be here really soon so make sure to check FlipSide gaming for all single and sealed product needs. Once again, thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you next time! Stay safe!!
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