The Pokémon Company recently released the latest expansion as part of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). Read on below to learn more:
Pokémon TCG Deck Strategy: Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX and Inteleon
Find out how this Water-type duo uses speed and flexibility to crown a winning Pokémon TCG combination.
By Xander Pero, Contributing Writer
Fast, reliable attacks are necessary for a top-tier deck in today’s metagame. Games are shorter than ever before, and a potential deck idea must be ready for the speed of the Standard format. This is evident when you look at how many Pokémon can Knock Out Pokémon V and Pokémon VMAX in a single attack! So let’s fight fire with fire—or in this case, water—with Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX from the latest expansion, Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign. We’ll first look at how this deck works in the current Standard format, then offer ideas on how to play it after the format rotates in September.
Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX only needs 2 Water Energy to begin attacking for up to 250 damage. These numbers rival that of Eternatus VMAX, which requires a full board of Darkness-type Pokémon to reach a similar damage output. If multiple roads lead to the same destination, why not take the shortest path? By requiring less cards in your deck but still doing similar damage, there’s room to include another Water-type sidekick: Inteleon, from Sword & Shield.
Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX
Inteleon from Sword & Shield is the support Pokémon of choice for this deck. With its Shady Dealings Ability, you can search your deck for up to 2 Trainer cards when evolving Drizzile into Inteleon. This is a powerful one-time effect that can turn the tide in a game. Niche cards like Reset Stamp and Path to the Peak—both of which are virtually impossible to search for—are now at your fingertips with a single card. Moreover, Drizzile has the same Ability as Inteleon, although its version searches for only 1 Trainer card. As early as turn two, you can grab the specific card you need to start attacking.
The full Evolution line takes up a sixth of the deck list. This is a hefty sum to pay but is well worth it when examining how the deck operates. Dedenne-GX and Crobat V are no longer necessary because of Inteleon; it makes up for the lack of draw power with card searching. The number one card that facilitates this strategy is Capacious Bucket: the fact that it grabs 2 Water Energy—double that of Energy Spinner—is important because it provides Energy for your current turn and the following one. You don’t have to worry about maximizing your odds of finding one on the following turn. Instead, you can play Boss’s Orders or Marnie purely for its disruptive effect on that turn.
Another benefit of the Inteleon engine is that there are no easy multi-Prize targets on the Bench. If the opponent scores a Knock Out on a Sobble early, they cannot pick off a Dedenne-GX or Crobat V after Knocking Out an Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX to easily take six Prize cards. Instead, they’ll have to fight through multiple Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX each game. Though the damage cap of 250 is short of Knocking Out Pokémon VMAX in one attack, an easy, two-Prize target on the opponent’s Bench is enough to win the Prize race.
Inteleon incentivizes single-copy Trainer cards. The single copy of Air Balloon and Switch are all we need here for two reasons. First, they are immediately accessible with Shady Dealings. Other Standard decks typically run four or more cards for switching out, whether they be Escape Rope, Switch, or Air Balloon—because those decks have no immediate access to them. The additional copies are necessary to boost the probability of drawing them naturally with a Supporter card. Second, this deck plays few Basic Pokémon, so you’re already likely to start with Ice Rider Calyrex V. Moreover, Sobble is also a fine starter because of its attack, Keep Calling, which sets up your field for future turns.
Consistency Is Key
In today’s fast-paced format, streamlined lists are the best way to go. Because games are decided so quickly, it’s important to begin attacking as soon as possible. You’re most likely going to be at a significant disadvantage if your opponent attacks first—and even more so if they attack twice before you can attack once! For that reason, it’s vital to allocate enough deck slots to ensure consistency so that you rarely miss your attacks.
Pokémon search cards are as important as Supporter cards, if not more so. Finding an Ice Rider Calyrex V on your first turn is the biggest priority. And with the new Supporter rule change since Sword & Shield, you can’t rely on a Supporter card to find your Basic Pokémon when going first. Unsurprisingly, there are four Ice Rider Calyrex V and Quick Ball in our example deck. The additional search cards, Level Ball and Evolution Incense, serve the specific purpose of finding pieces of Inteleon’s Evolution line and Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX.
While you have a Sobble or Drizzile in play, Evolution Incense effectively reads “search your deck for any card,” because Shady Dealings can access any Trainer card, any Pokémon with one of the search cards, or Water Energy with Capacious Bucket! This is incredibly powerful because it eliminates variance that other decks must tolerate. In my opinion, the elimination of variance is Inteleon’s greatest strength—you’re able to grab the exact cards you need without the worry of drawing into them with Dedechange or Dark Asset.
Path to the Peak is this deck’s Stadium of choice. Since it only shuts off the Abilities of Pokémon with a Rule Box, Drizzile and Inteleon’s Abilities remain untouched. This effect is not only solid for gaining some quick wins against a poorly drawing opponent, but provides a much-needed answer to Zamazenta V.
Path to the Peak pairs especially well with Reset Stamp. Near the end of the game, your opponent may only need one or two cards to close out and win, like Boss’s Orders and another Energy card. Reset Stamp has been around for a while, so it’s no secret that refreshing your opponent’s hand size is a great final measure. Some decks even ran Power Plant to further increase the odds the opponent would miss their desired cards, despite it not shutting off Pokémon V. With Path to the Peak, now you can shut off those Abilities, too!
The final piece to the Stadium package is Marshadow. Its purpose is to counter a pesky Chaotic Swell. Without Marshadow, your opponent could put a Chaotic Swell into play the turn before you unleash the Reset Stamp-with-Path to the Peak combo. Fear that no longer, because with Marshadow, you can first discard the Chaotic Swell with Resetting Hole—then put Path to the Peak into play. This combo is especially useful against Mewtwo & Mew-GX decks, as they wholly rely on the Perfection Ability.
There are a few tips and tricks to remember when piloting Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. The first and most important thing to remember is that you should be targeting your opponent’s threats. It doesn’t make sense to use Boss’s Orders on a Dedenne-GX and discard 2 Energy with Max Lance for no reason. Your goal should be to keep pace while disrupting them with Marnie or damaging the biggest threat with Boss’s Orders. For example, if your opponent has an undamaged Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX on the Bench with multiple Energy and not much else, it makes sense to use Boss’s Orders to damage it with Ride of the High King to set up for a Knock Out with Max Lance on the following turn. Most of the time, you won’t even need to use Boss’s Orders, though. Your opponent must be attacking with something, so the Active Pokémon is usually a fine target too!
Ride of the High King is a perfect attack for damaging a high-HP target that you cannot otherwise Knock Out with Max Lance. By using Ride of the High King first, you save the Water Energy and don’t need to commit any further to that attacker. Assuming that the first Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is Knocked Out after using Max Lance, you’ll have attached only 2 Energy to it, rather than 3 or 4 if you had attacked with Max Lance first and needed to attach additional Energy.
Don’t be afraid to attach a third or fourth Energy to an Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX if you’re about to use Max Lance. Because you’re going to discard some Energy, you’ll only have 1 or 2 remaining—which means you may be vulnerable to Reset Stamp. Unless there’s a reason to play a different Supporter, Melony is the best choice for advancing your board state. Remember that you can only use Melony’s effect to attach Water Energy to a Pokémon V.
One benefit to picking up Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX now is that the deck’s core components are all from the Sword & Shield Series, and therefore will be legal in the new Standard format. From the earlier list, the only non-legal cards will be Marshadow and Reset Stamp! Here’s an updated list with a few small changes:
As you can see, the only changes are in replacing the rotating cards with some that will still be legal in Standard. Marshadow, whose job was to help win the Stadium war, can be replaced by a fourth copy of Path to the Peak. Sadly, there aren’t any similar replacements for Reset Stamp; Marnie is the best hand-disruption option, and the deck already plays four copies.
Instead, the two ideal replacement cards are Fan of Waves and another Professor’s Research. Fan of Waves adds one more disruptive element to the deck. With Reset Stamp, you can play Boss’s Orders to target something on the opponent’s Bench while dropping their hand size. This is no longer possible post-rotation; Fan of Waves is now the most reliable option while still disrupting their hand. Finally, another Professor’s Research boosts consistency.
Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is shaping up to be one of the strongest decks in the current Standard format and will likely carry over that strength into the new Standard format. I’ve enjoyed playing it because of the Inteleon engine, and it’s a nice change of pace from the Dedenne-GX and Crobat V-heavy decks. If you’re looking for an easy-to-learn archetype from Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign, give this deck a try! And be sure to check out Pokemon.com/Strategy for more Pokémon Trading Card Game strategy and analysis.
Xander Pero is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He was an avid fan until discovering sanctioned tournaments in 2009. He formerly traveled often for the Top 16 circuit, but now spends his time focusing on university, where he studies industrial engineering. You can find him at various tournaments, as well as on Twitter at @xanderpero.