Pokémon TCG Dragapult VMAX Deck Strategy

By Tord Reklev, Contributing Writer

The new Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Rebel Clash expansion has arrived, and in it is one of the most powerful cards of all time, Dragapult VMAX! This card has only been in competition for a short time, but it's already making a huge impact. Decks built around Dragapult VMAX are fun to play, but also interesting for the number of different ways the card can be used.

Before diving into the details of how it's played, check out this deck list for one of the many ways to use this card. Unfortunately, it is hard to include every way this deck can be played in a single 60-card list. I believe this deck will change fluidly, adapt to the metagame as it goes, and be a strong contender for quite a while. Learn how it works now and get ahead of the competition!

  • Dragapult VMAX
  • 3
    Dragapult VMAX
    swsh2 93
  • 4
    Dragapult V
    swsh2 92
  • 2
    sm10 57
  • 2
    sm9 99
  • 1
    Jirachi ◇
    sm7 97
  • 2
    sm6 51
  • 2
    sm6 50
  • 1
    Galarian Zigzagoon
    swsh1 117
  • 1
    sm8 97
  • 1
    sm11 86
  • 1
    sm10 75
  • 1
    Mr. Mime
    sm9 66
  • 1
    Mr. Mime
    det 11
  • 1
    swsh1 148
  • 1
    sm12 57
Energy Cards
  • 5
    Psychic Energy
    nrg1 30
  • 4
    Horror Psychic Energy
    swsh2 172
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor's Research (Professor Magnolia)
    swsh1 178
  • 2
    Boss’s Orders (Giovanni)
    swsh2 154
  • 2
    swsh1 169
  • 1
    Viridian Forest
    sm9 156
  • 4
    Mysterious Treasure
    sm6 113
  • 4
    Quick Ball
    swsh1 179
  • 4
    Scoop Up Net
    swsh2 165
  • 3
    swsh1 183
  • 2
    Escape Board
    sm5 122
  • 1
    Spell Tag
    sm8 190
More Info Copy Deck List

Dragapult VMAX Basics

At first glance, this card might look pretty simple, but don't let yourself get fooled—there are a plethora of ways to play it. Dragapult VMAX has two attacks, including its quick Shred attack that does 60 damage for just 1 Psychic Energy and ignores all effects. But its second attack is where Dragapult VMAX really shines: for only 2 Psychic Energy, Max Phantom does an astounding 130 damage to the Active Pokémon, plus you can put 5 damage counters on your opponent's Bench however you like. It is important to note that Max Phantom places damage counters, rather than doing direct damage, or else the very popular Mew would quickly shut this card down.

So, what exactly is it that makes this card so strong? Let's start with the obvious. Dragapult VMAX's 320 HP makes it a big hurdle to Knock Out in one hit for virtually any deck. Combined with the low Energy requirements we mentioned before, you will have time to prepare a second Dragapult VMAX on the Bench while already swinging away with the first one you put in play.

Dragapult VMAX is a Psychic-type Pokémon, meaning it can be retrieved by Mysterious Treasure, an incredible Item card for Pokémon-searching. This card makes it much easier to consistently get this Pokémon VMAX on the field compared with other Pokémon VMAX in the format.

Having Weakness to Darkness is also very good right now, as Darkness types see next to no play in the competitive setting at the moment, except for Spiritomb. Luckily for Dragapult VMAX, Spiritomb naturally struggles with Max Phantom, making this matchup much closer than you might initially think.

With cost-effective attacks, the damage value you get back for the resources required is high. You invest two Energy attachments to get 130 damage plus 5 damage counters spread to the Bench, effectively doing 180 damage every turn with no obvious drawbacks—and as long as your opponent doesn't stop you, you can use the same attack over and over until you win. You can start using Max Phantom consistently on the second turn of the game, which is simply incredible.

Support for Dragapult VMAX

After looking at all these factors, we can easily understand that this card could make a big splash in the metagame, but let's dive deeper into the different tricks we have available for this card.

The first card to look at is Horror Psychic Energy, also from the Sword & Shield—Rebel Clash expansion. If the Pokémon it's attached to gets hit by an attack, the attacker takes a little damage, too. Since you will have to attach Energy manually anyway, you might as well attach an Energy with a bonus effect as strong as the one Horror Psychic Energy provides if you can. Every bit of damage will help you, and since Dragapult VMAX is such a tank, your opponent will most likely have to hit it at least twice to take it down, which activates Horror Psychic Energy twice as well.

Another new card that helps this Pokémon greatly is Boss's Orders. Since you can have so much control over Max Phantom's damage output, you can make sure not to waste damage by hitting an Active Pokémon that has low HP remaining with the full 130 damage. Rather, use Boss's Orders to push that heavily damaged Pokémon to the Bench and finish it off there instead, while directing the main damage of Max Phantom toward a fresh target. Normally, using a Supporter card that does not draw cards is not well advised, but since Dragapult VMAX requires minimal resources, you should be able to afford to use Boss's Orders quite often.

You could also use Phione to force your opponent to switch out their Active Pokémon. In some situations, the only thing that matters for you is that you can push a damaged target out of the Active Spot; it doesn't matter what Pokémon takes its place. It will also free you up to use a different Supporter card on your turn.

Get the Scoop

The newly released Scoop Up Net breathes new life into a lot of powerful Abilities triggered when the Pokémon comes into play. In the past, many of these cards could not be played effectively since they would clog up your Bench. Scoop Up Net fixes this problem and even lets you reuse those Abilities multiple times if needed.

Galarian Zigzagoon is a great partner for Dragapult VMAX, giving you a little extra damage boost when you desperately need it with its Headbutt Tantrum Ability. This card is enhanced massively with Scoop Up Net, letting you use the Ability multiple times. For example, with it you could Knock Out a Benched Jirachi in a single turn. Jirachi is played in almost every competitive deck at the moment in some capacity, and Dragapult VMAX loves to play against this card. Since Jirachi only has 70 HP, Dragapult VMAX can very easily snipe it off the Bench in a turn or two while continuing to damage the main attacker, quickly giving you an advantage in the Prize race.

Giratina can provide help similar to Galarian Zigzagoon; it has to start in your discard pile, and it only does damage to your opponent's Benched Pokémon, but its Distortion Door Ability can hit 2 targets with 1 damage counter instead. With a combination of Mysterious Treasure and Quick Ball, it should be relatively easy to discard Giratina and use Distortion Door. Then you can pick up Giratina with Scoop Up Net to start the process over.

These two great options for Dragapult VMAX are good enough reasons for including Scoop Up Net. And yet another use for it that has suddenly become more reliable is Oranguru + Jirachi Prism Star + Mr. Mime. You can put Jirachi Prism Star on top of your deck with Oranguru, then use Mr. Mime to swap it with 1 of your Prize cards. Then you can “steal” a Prize card whenever you take your next Knock Out. This is something you could add into any deck in theory, but it is especially good in this deck. To make this combo work, you do need three Basic Pokémon at the same time. The Mysterious Treasure you're already including in this deck can pick up Mr. Mime, making it much easier for you to assemble the three pieces to make it work.

One more use for Scoop Up Net can come in handy in later situations. Normally, if you get stuck midgame with a dead hand, you can use a Quick Ball to get Dedenne-GX to get out of that situation. But with this deck, you can use Mysterious Treasure to get Mewtwo as well, giving you a much greater chance of finding what you need. Together with Oranguru, you can put a Supporter card from the discard pile right into your hand to get you out of sticky situations. Later, you can use Scoop Up Net to get the same effect again if needed. This combination is also a great way to close out games by letting you get a game-winning Boss's Orders.

Dealing with the Opposition

One of the best ways to slow down Dragapult VMAX is to take advantage of it needing two Energy attachments to use its best attack. A strong card for this purpose is Giratina, a great way to get rid of Horror Psychic Energy and slow down Dragapult VMAX. This in combination with Crushing Hammer and Team Yell Grunt will be strong against Dragapult VMAX decks.

The countermeasure to this is to play a couple copies of Malamar. You won't need more than one on the field, and it also has synergy with Mysterious Treasure, making it easy to set up. Using Malamar isn't always necessary, but if you are anticipating a lot of Energy removal, this is the best option to counteract that. Going the Malamar route, adding Super Scoop Up in addition to the Scoop Up Nets could also be very strong, as it would allow you to sometimes completely heal your Dragapult VMAX and send it right back up to attack again thanks to Malamar giving you the extra Energy attachment. Super Scoop Up also has great synergy with all the “comes into play” Abilities, just like Scoop Up Net.

Talking about Scoop Ups, there's one card that could make or break the mirror matchup, especially if both Super Scoop Up and Scoop Up Net are involved. It's another Mr. Mime, this time from Sun & Moon—Team Up, that completely blocks your opponent from using these cards on any damaged Pokémon. One of the annoying things about playing Dragapult VMAX could be the hardship of navigating around your opponent's Scoop Up Nets and Super Scoop Up. With this Mr. Mime, all you would need to do is simply put at least 1 damage counter on everything on your opponent's side that you don't want to see disappear. Playing this card also allows you to put all 5 damage counters on a Jirachi without having to worry that your opponent uses Scoop Up Net or Super Scoop Up the following turn to negate a big portion of your attack. Mr. Mime is even a Psychic type, making it an incredibly good option for Dragapult VMAX.

There's a good reason players have cut back on Switch lately and instead rely more on Scoop Up Net: having a combination of Mr. Mime and Absol on your Bench could make your opponent's engine completely stop working.

Power Tools

As for Pokémon Tool cards, I focus on being able to pick up extra damage wherever possible. For this deck, we have a couple of very decent options in Spell Tag and Giant Bomb. Since we are giving away three Prize cards each time a Dragapult VMAX is Knocked Out, Spell Tag will most likely only be activated once a game, but it is very flexible in this deck because you can always play it down the turn you get it. It fits the overall strategy of Dragapult VMAX greatly by being able to get those few extra damage counters you might need. Giant Bomb is similar—it comes with a somewhat better effect for the format at the moment, but it requires more timing on when to play it and could clunk up your early turns.

You could also go for a more unconventional option and play Big Charm to elevate Dragapult VMAX to a whopping 350 HP, giving decks like Spiritomb and Boltund V a lot more trouble when trying to take the Pokémon out in one hit. Another big perk of Big Charm is that it makes sure opposing Dragapult VMAX will have a harder time Knocking Out your support Pokémon like Inkay and Jirachi.

Finally, the Stadium cards that best complement Dragapult VMAX are Shrine of Punishment and Viridian Forest. Shrine of Punishment makes targeting Dedenne-GX an even easier task, and Viridian Forest has great synergy with Malamar and Giratina.

Dragapult VMAX benefits greatly from being a Psychic type, thus having access to a lot of great supporting choices in Pokémon, Trainers, and Energy. The card has an easy time targeting down your opponent's support Pokémon like the popular Dedenne-GX and Jirachi, making it very easy to close out games quickly. Because it's very efficient in what it tries to do and has so many viable options, we could see a wide variety of Dragapult VMAX decks, and they could all do great at tournaments.

Best of luck in your next tournament with Dragapult VMAX at your side! For more Pokémon TCG analysis, keep checking Pokemon.com/Strategy.

About the Writer

Tord Reklev
Tord Reklev is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He is a longtime player from Norway, playing the game since he was 6 years old. He is notable for being the only Masters Division player to win the North America, Europe, and Oceania Internationals, and he recently made Top 4 at the World Championships. Outside of the game, he is a student and enjoys playing tennis. You can find him at most big events, and can follow him on Twitter at @TordReklev.

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