Posted by Mike Reynolds on 3/17/2021 to Deck Lists
Battle Styles is upon us, and that means that new decks are coming. Many Players will quickly recognize that Battle Styles brings a lot of competitive edges that’s been incredibly necessary to our current standard format. With the release of Battle Styles, we will see a drastic change in the metagame that, hopefully, will be a positive shift toward a bright future.
For the purpose of this article, I will discuss two new decks that will unfold into the metagame in some capacity: Corviknight/Bronzong, and Single Strike Urshifu. I bring up these two particular decks for a few reasons: One, they both are seeing success in Japan already; Two, they both are equipped with incredible support and tools to battle what our current landscape looks like; Three, both will likely have some lasting power as we continue our journey through what the Sword and Shield block has to offer.
First off, I should introduce myself. I’m Mike Reynolds. Since 2000, with the release of the second expansion, Jungle, I’ve been involved with the Pokemon Trading Card Game (which will be referred to as TCG going forward). I exited the game in 2013 for personal reasons. I kept up with some trends, browsed some of the top decks, and genuinely kept a passing interest in what was happening with the TCG. The TCG is funny like that – it has a way of pulling a player back in!
Battle Styles, as mentioned previously, is bound to shift our current Metagame in a new direction. Typically speaking, our most impactful sets tend to arrive in November, and in February and/or March (with some notable exceptions, such as Diamond and Pearl’s May release in 2007). With that in mind, when these types of sets drop, new archetypes shine and begin to dominate. The incredible aspect about this upcoming set is that likely, some old archetypes might be revived in the hopes of countering the new bullies on the block, Rapid Strike Urshifu and Single Strike Urshifu. Of course, there are many other cards that Battle Styles will bring to the (virtual) tables that are worth some glances.
With the release of Battle Styles, our eyes first have to shift over to the Japanese metagame that’s beginning to take shape with this set. Those players are typically the first to gain access to new cards, and help give the rest of the world a glimpse of what has potential. This trend has become more and more crucial over the years with the constant stream of events at the disposal of a player (which is both awesome and exhausting as a returning player); therefore, testing time is all the more crucial to get an idea of optimal lists, of optimal archetypes, and important meta-calls. This is where that first glimpse truly comes into play. So far, based on sources such as PTCGRadio and Akiyama, the metagame seems to have shifted to a focus of countering the new mechanics of Single Strike and Rapid Strike mascots, Urshifu. That does not come as a major surprise given that both Pokemon have great support between their support Pokemon, their new Special Energy, and their new trainer engines. The metagame appears to bring Mewtwo/Mew GX and Dragapult Vmax back into the limelight as both are incredibly potent psychic types with great tools at their disposal. And, with fighting set to take a stronger stance in the metagame, that keeps the powerful Eternatus Vmax at bay.
Single Strike Urshifu Vmax
First up to bat is Single Strike Urshifu. Overall, the deck has a very simple core strategy, which goes along with the theme of Single Strike – hit hard, and hit fast. The very nature of the supporting engine, between cards such as Tower of Darkness, Houndoom, and even Vitality Jar suggests that the entire intention of Single Strike means to keep moving like the Juggernaut and render your opponent incapable of coping with the heavy attacks. For added measure, there’s the new TM/Tool fusion: Single Strike Scroll: Raging Scroll. With this card, should the opponent land an attack that does not outright knock out a Single Strike Pokemon, with this card attached, allows the Single Strike Pokemon an attack akin to Rage. Truly, this deck is destined for greatness.
|1x Jirachi GX||4x Quick Ball||6x Fighting Energy|
|4x Houndour||4x Great Ball||4x Single Strike Energy|
|3x Houndoom||2x Pokemon Communication|
|4x Urshifu V||2x Air Balloon|
|3x Urshifu Vmax||3x Switch|
|1x Dedenne GX||4x Professor's Research|
|2x Crobat V||4x Marnie|
|3x Boss's Orders|
|1x Single Strike Scroll: Raging Scroll|
|4x Vitality Jar|
To get the creative juices flowing for all those looking at the new sets, a beginning list is customary, as is a breakdown of some of the choices of inclusions and/or exclusions.
4 Urshifu V
Critical to the speed and ferocity of the deck is Urshifu V. Starting with this juggernaut allows a player to search their deck for two fighting energy and immediately attach them to Urshifu V on their first turn (providing that player goes second). As already seen in the current metagame, this puts immediate pressure on the other player and forces a player to react immediately.
3 Urshifu Vmax
Four would be a great amount to include, but given the other inclusions, three is an acceptable amount of Urshifu Vmax (not to mention the focus on consistency). Easily the reason the deck can exist, Urshifu Vmax sports two attacks – one that can take any energy, while the other requires not only three energy but a forced discard that obliterates any opponent’s defending pokemon (one hopes).
Houndoom provides incredible support in giving your Urshifu Vmax life and consistent attacking power via its ability to search for Single Strike Energy specifically from the deck. Starting with Urshifu V, however, takes some of the pressure of having to obtain Houndoom as quickly; nonetheless, Houndoom is an integral part of this deck’s overall success.
1 Jirachi GX
Remember that awful psychic weakness? Jirachi GX says otherwise that, weakening the strength of Dragapult and Mewtwo/Mew GX’s effectiveness. Jirachi GX is crucial for these specific match-ups, which will likely see far more play come to the release of Battle Styles.
Regarding the strange split of Crobat V versus Dedenne GX – with the release of Battle Styles, it’s a strong possibility that Power Plant will find its way back into decks that can afford to run the stadium. With that in mind, along with the presence of the Great Catcher, it’s crucial to continue to be able to draw cards. Crobat V bypasses Power Plant, and remains safe from potential Great Catcher plays by the opponent; therefore, as is likely noticeable, the deck’s engine is catered to Crobat V.
The trainer, supporter, and stadium sections are usually self-explanatory, but there are a few key pieces to point out.
For starters, as the metagame continues to take shape, I’m of the opinion that more Boss’s Orders becomes necessary as the card closes out many games. It’s possible that Single Strike Urshifu will crave four Boss’s Orders in the long run.
The inclusion of 1 Bruno gives players access to a shuffle drawcard as well as another draw-out. Bruno is reminiscent of Cynthia’s Feelings from the Diamond and Pearl days, and while not strong enough to include additional copies, could very well become a great 1-of staple for a lot of decks in the coming months.
Four copies of Vitality Jar, the new Single Strike trainer that allows a player to shuffle up to 2 Single Strike Energy, is imperative to the engine of Houndoom when factoring in the number of potential discarding factors.
The energy is self-explanatory in this case – the entire point is to focus on being able to perform the turn 1 attack boost that Urshifu V possesses.
The list above is ultimately built with the idea of aggression, the very core of Single Strike’s mechanics. In an ideal world, a player would start with Urshifu V, and begin building a solid bench that would overrun the opponent before they can retaliate. As more and more testing occurs, players will refine and perfect this deck, but I ultimately believe that it will be a force to reckon with.
Next on the list is the great tanks of our time, Corviknight Vmax/Bronzong. Truly, it’s a great day to see evolutions other than Vmax Pokemon be viable. Bronzong’s history in the game has been nothing short of incredible as, typically, each Bronzong released has brought archetypes to life, and this time would be no different. The ultimate test for this deck, as other metal variants have continued to face, will be the Welder-based decks that continue to run around. Centiscorch has proven itself over the course of the season with multiple Limitless wins and top-cut placements. Blacephalon continues to blow up the metagame with the help of different basic fire attackers. Then there’s Welder with Mewtwo/Mew GX, which has continued to see play since the World Championship held in 2019, proving itself to be a lasting archetype (and, of course, its potential rise to fame again would be largely due to the coming Urshifu mascots). Thankfully, these two partners in crime have the tools to handle these types of threats with Coating Energy, among some other useful tools.
|3x Corviknight V||4x Quick Ball||4x Coating Energy|
|3x Corviknight Vmax||3x Great Ball||8x Metal Energy|
|2x Zacian V||2x Pokemon Communication|
|2x Bronzor||4x Metal Saucer|
|2x Bronzong||4x Marnie|
|1x Dedenne GX||2x Professor's Research|
|1x Crobat V||1x Bruno|
|1x Eldegoss V||3x Boss's Orders|
|1x Oranguru||2x Cheryl|
|1x Mew||1x Tool Scrapper|
|1x Zamazenta V||3x Switch|
3-3 Corviknight V/Corviknight Vmax
Thankfully for this deck, there’s less of a central strategy and more of an all-around set of tools at the player’s disposal. Of course, Corviknight is imperative to the deck's success, but this line still insures a reasonable success in accessing this big metal bird tank. Corviknight Vmax offers a wonderful free retreat cost, a bulky amount of HP, and an ability that does not allow the opponent’s abilities to affect it. All and all, this mighty bird brings quite the package!
This specific Bronzor is a must-have for this coming deck. The ability allows a player to immediately play Bronzong onto it – therefore, there are more options available, and one’s set up time is cut down significantly.
The bread and butter to the deck’s success, Bronzong sports the unique ability to move metal energy around. While critical, ultimately two suffices as it will not enter the active spot while your opponent has giant metal birds to worry about.
2 Zacian V
A great attacker, a great set-up Pokemon, and both of these features are on Zacian V. With the help of Corviknight’s zero retreat cost, a player can utilize Zacian at any given point if necessary for a strong attack. Even better is the idea that Intrepid Sword sets up a player’s board in two potential ways.
The other, more general support pokemon in the list provide other forms of necessary attributes. Of course, one plays the standard split of Crobat V and Dedenne GX. Oranguru provides another out to potential Marnie drops from the opponent and helps set up Zacian for Metal attachments via Intrepid Sword. As bench attacks could likely ramp up with the release of Rapid Strike Pokemon, and with the idea that Pikachu/Zekrom GX still exists, Mew becomes a great inclusion to keep Bronzong and others safe on the bench.
Looking at the Trainers, Supporters, and Stadiums, most are typical inclusions in many modern standard lists; however, there are some neat new inclusions to go over.
2 Cheryl - Cheryl is our new format’s Pokemon Center. In the old days of Pokemon, players had access to Pokemon Center, which removed all damage from the board at the cost of removing all energy for those Pokemon healed. Cheryl possesses this exact effect as a supporter. When paired with Bronzong, players will be able to take full advantage of utilizing Cheryl’s healing capabilities without losing their field advantage.
1 Phoebe - Though we do have access to other attackers, there are still some Pokemon that might provide issues due to blocking the attacks of V and Vmax Pokemon. Phoebe bypasses these effects for Vmax Pokemon, allowing for Corviknight to fly unhindered into the opponent’s active Pokemon.
1 Bruno - While one hopes that they will not have any Pokemon knocked out, it’s entirely possible to still capitalize on the opponent’s need to take prizes in the form of Bruno. If the opponent attempts to score an easy knockout, Bruno allows a player to obtain a fresh, potentially stronger new hand. In addition, it’s a shuffle draw that can conserve precious resources.
Looking at the energy, there’s nothing flashy to point out here. Four Coating Energy is incredibly necessary in today’s environment with the incredible amount of fire still blazing around the metagame. There’s certainly a potential to take the basic metal energy count higher simply due to Intrepid Sword, but that, along with other flaws and tricks, would be revealed with more testing.
There are many cards to digest in Battle Styles. The upcoming set looks very exciting, and will likely bring a slew of different decks into the fold for players to adapt to. Certainly, these two decks mentioned are not the only two decks to come out of Battle Styles – if anything, these two decks only scratch the surface of what the players can expect.
There are some honorable mentions that will likely find a way to see some action at some point in their lifespan:
1. Escape Rope– Previously printed as Warp Point before being converted into Escape Rope, this card will likely have an incredible impact on the metagame as it can surprise a player at any given moment. Since Phione has found its way back into decks, it’s only a matter of time until Escape Rope does the same.
2. Fan of Waves – looking at this card, and the amount of special energy that sees the play, I personally feel that this card is going to be peppered into quite a few decks that can afford to play it. Loosely described, it’s a poor man’s Enhanced Hammer as it returns a Special Energy to the bottom of a player’s deck; nonetheless, that could be critical with how prevalent special energy are in our current environment.
3. Level Ball– many decks based around evolution, or Mad Party, are going to enjoy having this card come back. Allowing a player to search for a pokemon with 90 HP or less, with no actual cost, has consistently proven to be effective.
4. Kricktune V – this little critter has a very neat ability that can present a player with some hand recovery options. It could also give rise to the concept of the new supporters, Mustard Single Strike Stance, and Mustard Rapid Strike Stance (similar to the concept employed by Archie’s Blastoise years prior).
Overall, it’s exciting to see what changes to the metagame come about with the release of Battle Styles. There are unique abilities to explore, new mechanics to try out, and reprints that will bring a new dimension to our current, albeit stale, metagame. Truly, Battle Styles is a player’s set, and a welcomed one at that!