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Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX Deck Strategy: Sword & Shield—Battle Styles
By Andrew Mahone, Contributing Writer
Just a few weeks after the release of the Sword & Shield—Battle Styles expansion, Azul Garcia Griego won the Players Cup III with Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, cementing its place as one of the top decks in the Pokémon Trading Card Game. En route to his victory, Azul was able to defeat many established top-tier decks, such as Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX with Zacian V, Pikachu & Zekrom-GX with Boltund V, Eternatus VMAX, and even Victini VMAX.
Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is a fun new deck from Sword & Shield—Battle Styles with strong support and great typing that can win against a lot of different decks. Keep reading to find out the key ingredients that make Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX a force to be reckoned with in the Standard format. Also check out this example deck list and give Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX a try for yourself!
Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX Does All the Damage
Fighting-type Pokémon are known for having both bulk and efficient attacks, and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is no exception. This Pokémon is a beast: it has a whopping 330 HP and two great attacks. For just one Energy, Gale Thrust does 30 damage plus 120 more if it moved from the Bench to the Active Spot that same turn. 150 damage for just one Energy is fantastic! This attack can be used as early as the second turn of the game, and applies a lot of pressure to the opponent’s board, setting up the potential for a quick two-hit Knock Out on all Basic Pokémon V and Pokémon-GX.
Although Gale Thrust is powerful, the real selling point of Urshifu VMAX is its G-Max Rapid Flow attack. For two Fighting and a Colorless Energy, this attack does 120 damage to two of the opponent’s Pokémon, and you must discard all Energy attached to Urshifu VMAX. With the new Rapid Strike Energy, which provides two Energy at a time, Urshifu VMAX can use G-Max Rapid Flow after just two Energy attachments. Like I said—efficient!
To make things better, Fighting-type Pokémon are really well positioned in the Pokémon TCG right now. Both Gale Thrust and G-Max Rapid Flow can take one-hit KOs on popular support Pokémon like Crobat V and Dedenne-GX, as well as attackers like Eternatus V, Boltund V, and Pikachu & Zekrom-GX.
Playing an Urshifu VMAX deck has a very satisfying flow to it, setting up numbers with Gale Thrust, then taking big Knock Outs with G-Max Rapid Flow. Since Urshifu VMAX’s attacks only require one or two Energy attachments apiece, the deck does a great job of applying consistent pressure throughout a match. To streamline consistency, this deck is built entirely around Urshifu VMAX, and it doesn’t play any other attackers. To make sure that Urshifu VMAX gets into play quickly, we play four Rapid Strike Urshifu V and three Urshifu VMAX.
Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX Switch Engine
The whole plan of Urshifu VMAX is to help it do more damage when it switches from the Bench to the Active Spot. To help accomplish this, the deck plays plenty of ways to switch your Pokémon. This list plays four Switch, one Escape Rope, two Air Balloon, and four Scoop Up Net. That’s 11 cards that can do what we need!
Conveniently, one of the best support Pokémon in the game, Jirachi from the Sun & Moon—Team Up expansion, acts as a perfect pivot for Urshifu VMAX. When Jirachi is in the Active Spot, you can use its Stellar Wish Ability to look at the top five cards of your deck and put a Trainer card you find there into your hand before shuffling the rest of the cards back into your deck. When Jirachi is on your Bench, every switching card becomes a chance to use Stellar Wish. Stellar Wish provides an amazing boost in consistency to this already potent archetype—it fetches useful Trainer cards from the top of the deck, many of which help move Urshifu VMAX in and out of the Active Spot throughout the game. The Ability makes Jirachi the best opener in the deck and an all-around great pivot card, so the list plays three copies.
The Scoop on Scoop Up Net
Scoop Up Net is an Item card that lets you return a Pokémon from play to your hand, so long as it isn’t a Pokémon V or Pokémon-GX. On the surface, you can see how this card lets you move Pokémon around to trigger the damage boost for Urshifu VMAX’s Gale Thrust Attack. But there’s a lot more to it than that—returning a Pokémon to your hand allows you to reuse its Ability! For example, Jirachi’s Stellar Wish Ability can only be used once per turn. But if Jirachi moves to your hand and then you replay it, you can use the Ability again. It’s not uncommon to chain Stellar Wish with multiple Scoop Up Net to find the perfect card you need for a given situation. This is just one of the great plays you can make with Scoop Up Net in an Urshifu VMAX deck.
Doing Numbers with Galarian Zigzagoon
Numbers are really important in the Pokémon TCG; 10 damage can make the difference between a win and a loss, which is one reason why Galarian Zigzagoon is a great Pokémon for this deck. Its Headbutt Tantrum Ability allows you to put one damage counter on one of your opponent’s Pokémon when you play it from your hand to the Bench. This might not seem like a lot, but a Pokémon hanging on with a tiny bit of HP instead of being Knocked Out can easily change the outcome of a match.
With a single Galarian Zigzagoon and a full allotment of Scoop Up Net, you can use the Headbutt Tantrum Ability up to five times in a game. This is especially useful when trying to hit a two-hit Knock Out on a Pokémon VMAX. With 300 total damage from two Gale Thrust attacks, along with a few pings from Galarian Zigzagoon, you’ll be able to hit those magic numbers: 310 to KO Victini VMAX, 320 to KO Centiskorch VMAX, or even 330 to KO an opposing Urshifu VMAX!
Denying Energy with Giratina
There are so many good Special Energy in the Pokémon TCG that over half of the current competitive decks play them. Urshifu VMAX decks play Rapid Strike Energy, Psychic decks play Horror Psychic Energy, and Eternatus VMAX decks play Weakness Guard Energy, just to name a few!
Understandably, knocking these cards off your opponent’s Pokémon can be pretty valuable. Giratina from the Sun & Moon—Unified Minds expansion has the Dimension Breach Ability that allows you to discard a Special Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokémon when you play it from your hand to the Bench. With Scoop Up Net and Giratina, you can discard multiple Special Energy from your opponent’s Pokémon in a single game. This is great for slowing the opponent down while you set up Knock Outs, but it really helps to make sure that you don’t get into a bad spot against an Eternatus VMAX with Weakness Guard Energy attached. With 340 HP, Eternatus VMAX can be scary, so it’s best to make sure you can always hit it for Weakness.
Timing Is Everything with Mind Report
Supporter cards are some of the most useful cards in any Pokémon Trading Card Game deck. Our example deck uses Professor’s Research and Marnie to draw cards, as well as Boss’s Orders and Phoebe to provide useful effects on the game state. Naturally, getting the right Supporter at the right time is key to winning many Pokémon TCG matches. Mewtwo from the Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds expansion has the Mind Report Ability, which allows you to put a Supporter card from your discard pile on top of your deck when you play Mewtwo from your hand to the Bench. You can use Mind Report to stack a key Supporter for next turn, or you can draw into it immediately with the effect of Jirachi’s Stellar Wish, Crobat V’s Dark Asset, or Dedenne-GX‘s Dedechange. And with Scoop Up Net, Mewtwo’s Mind Report Ability can be used multiple times a game. This is great for chaining draw Supporters or Boss’s Orders, but it also allows you to combat troublesome Abilities, like Decidueye‘s Deep Forest Camo or Zamazenta V‘s Dauntless Shield, with repeated use of Phoebe!
Filling Out a Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX Deck
One of the benefits of playing Urshifu VMAX is that there is plenty of space to work with, as there are only seven Pokémon that make up the core attackers of the deck. The simplicity of the Urshifu VMAX deck allows ample space for tech cards that help with specific matchups.
Since it has 330 HP, the easiest way to take down Urshifu VMAX is to hit it for Weakness. The most popular Psychic-type Pokémon in the game right now is, by far, Mewtwo & Mew-GX. Almost all decks that rely on Pokémon-GX also play Mewtwo & Mew-GX to hit the opponent’s Psychic-type Weakness. With so many decks running Mewtwo & Mew-GX, Urshifu VMAX decks need a way to deal with it.
The first line of defense against Mewtwo & Mew-GX is Mimikyu from the Sun & Moon—Cosmic Eclipse expansion. Mimikyu’s Shadow Box Ability means that damaged Pokémon-GX have no Abilities. Since Mewtwo & Mew-GX relies on copying the attacks of other Pokémon with its Perfection Ability, Mimikyu can stop Mewtwo & Mew-GX in its tracks as long as you can put a damage counter on the TAG TEAM, which is pretty easy to do with Galarian Zigzagoon or G-Max Rapid Flow.
Azul played Mimikyu in his Players Cup III-winning Urshifu VMAX deck to great success, but since then, Mewtwo & Mew-GX players have started playing a tech card of their own, Stealthy Hood. When Stealthy Hood is attached to Mewtwo & Mew-GX, it prevents the effects of Abilities, like Shadow Box, done to that Pokémon. In order to remove pesky Tool Cards like Stealthy Hood, it’s a good idea to play a copy of Tool Scrapper, which allows you to discard up to two Tool cards from play.
Mimikyu and Tool Scrapper are great against Mewtwo & Mew-GX, but not so much against Psychic-type Pokémon that don’t rely on Abilities to attack, such as Dragapult VMAX or Polteageist. Our next line of defense against Psychic-type Pokémon is Jirachi-GX from Sun & Moon—Unified Minds. Jirachi-GX‘s Psychic Zone Ability basically turns off all Psychic-type Weakness as long as it is in play. This is awesome against Dragapult VMAX and Mad Party—you just have to make sure not to let Shadow Box Mimikyu negate your own Jirachi-GX‘s Ability!
The last tech card in the list is a testament to the power of Urshifu VMAX. Mew from Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds is played in almost every deck right now for its Bench Barrier Ability. Bench Barrier prevents all damage done to your Benched Pokémon by your opponent’s attacks, making it very good at preventing spread damage from G-Max Rapid Flow. Mew is awesome tech against Urshifu VMAX—so much so that even the Urshifu VMAX deck has to play it in order to help in the mirror match! The best strategy against Mew is to pull it in from your opponent’s Bench and KO it. To help make sure that happens consistently, this list plays three copies of Boss’s Orders.
Stadium Selection with Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX
I talked earlier about the importance of math in the Pokémon TCG. If 10 damage can make a difference in a game, what about 40? Martial Arts Dojo, a Stadium that makes Pokémon with basic Fighting Energy attached do 10 more damage to the opposing Pokémon (which increases to 40 more damage if you are behind in Prize cards) allows Urshifu VMAX to hit numbers that would otherwise be out of range. Similar to Galarian Zigzagoon, the Martial Arts Dojo math helps even when it’s only adding 10 damage. It helps with two-hit Knock Outs on Pokémon VMAX, as explained above, but also helps against Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX. A Gale Thrust for 150 plus a G-Max Rapid Flow for 120 adds up to 270 damage…just 10 damage shy of KOing the popular Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX. Martial Arts Dojo fixes those numbers to allow a swift two-hit KO on Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX with Gale Thrust and G-Max Rapid Flow. It also allows you to one-hit KO Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX with G-Max Rapid Flow, and if you are behind in Prize cards, you can one-hit KO Eldegoss V, Mawile-GX, Heatran-GX, or even Eternatus VMAX with a boosted Gale Thrust!
Capitalizing on efficient and powerful attacks combined with phenomenal typing and support, Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is a promising new deck that seems poised to have a great competitive future. I hope this article helped to shed some light on the best way to play this deck. And keep checking Pokemon.com/Strategy for more Pokémon TCG strategy and analysis.
Andrew Mahone is a professional Pokémon Trading Card Game player, co-host of Pokémon’s Top Deck Academy, and content creator for Tricky Gym on Twitch and YouTube. He is a five-time Pokémon TCG World Championships competitor and the 2015 St. Louis Regional Champion.