Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX Deck Strategy

Emerging from the darkness, this brilliant deck is ready for the spotlight in the Pokémon TCG.

By Tord Reklev, Contributing Writer

With the release of the Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion, there's one card that's grabbing all the attention and spotlight: Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX. In looking at the card, it's easy to realize why this was perhaps the most anticipated card of the expansion.

There are some effects in the Pokémon TCG that are, and will always be, immensely powerful, including ways to accelerate Energy cards into play and innovative ways to draw cards. Cinccino and its Make Do Ability have been at the center of certain decks lately, and Malamar with its Psychic Recharge Ability was a force to be reckoned with for years in the past. In a way, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX combines both of these powerful effects. Its Underworld Door Ability lets you attach a Psychic Energy card from your hand to a Benched Psychic-type Pokémon and draw two cards for doing so.

It's important to note that Underworld Door can be used multiple times in the same turn if you have multiple Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in play. Apart from being an excellent way to accelerate Psychic Energy into play and simultaneously draw cards, this Ability has perfect synergy with the Pokémon's own Max Geist attack. Max Geist does 10 damage plus 30 more for each Psychic Energy attached to all of your Pokémon. Even in an environment as fast-paced as the current Standard format, this deck can rack up Energy quickly enough to Knock Out just about anything in no time.

Read on to get a closer look at the main plan for this deck, as well as some of the card choices for filling it out. Then we'll examine some of the best strategies to combat Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX. And finally, we'll check out some cards to include in the list to handle those strategies.

  • Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX
  • 4
    Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX
    swsh6 75
  • 4
    Shadow Rider Calyrex V
    swsh6 74
  • 2
    Alcremie VMAX
    swsh35 23
  • 2
    Alcremie V
    swsh35 22
  • 2
    Gengar & Mimikyu-GX
    sm9 53
  • 1
    Crobat V
    swsh3 104
  • 1
    sm10 57
  • 1
    sm10 81
Energy Cards
  • 13
    Psychic Energy
    nrg1 30
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    swsh1 169
  • 4
    Professor's Research (Professor Magnolia)
    swsh1 178
  • 3
    Boss’s Orders (Giovanni)
    swsh2 154
  • 2
    Training Court
    swsh2 169
  • 4
    Fog Crystal
    swsh6 140
  • 4
    Quick Ball
    swsh1 179
  • 3
    swsh1 183
  • 2
    Air Balloon
    swsh1 156
  • 2
    Evolution Incense
    swsh1 163
  • 2
    Pokémon Communication
    sm9 152
More Info Copy Deck List

The main focus of the deck is simple and effective: get as many Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX as you can into play, as fast as possible. Having a single card that works as Energy acceleration, draw support, and attacker all at the same time is nothing short of amazing. In this instance, the more Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, the merrier; having additional copies in play significantly improves your chances to win the game.

This list includes two copies of Gengar & Mimikyu-GX. Rarely will more than one ever hit the field, but having access to it when needed can be crucial—hence the backup copy. This gives the deck a useful option in Horror House-GX, which in most cases will force the opponent to immediately end their turn after drawing a card. Normally a GX attack should offer high damage output or some other game-changing effect, but this deck is content with just buying time and drawing cards. Consider waiting until you have two Psychic Energy attached to Gengar & Mimikyu-GX to get the extra card draw effect from Horror House-GX. This attack essentially provides you with another turn of Underworld Door Abilities, which can help a lot with increasing the total amount of Psychic Energy in play.

Take note also that Shadow Rider Calyrex V's first attack, Shadow Mist, can help slow down decks with a lot of Special Energy cards. In addition, it will block the pesky Path to the Peak Stadium card from coming down.

Alcremie VMAX

You will also notice that a small Alcremie VMAX line is added to the list. This card has been around for a while but has lacked a good partner. This inclusion serves a couple different purposes. The main reason is having another attacker with a different type of Weakness, giving you more options against Darkness-type Pokémon. In addition, Alcremie VMAX offers the G-Max Whisk attack, which also takes advantage of having a lot of Psychic Energy cards in play, but unfortunately it has to discard them to do damage. The upside is being able to reach high damage numbers with significantly less Psychic Energy in play. This attack is especially great for taking the final Knock Out of the game, as you no longer have to worry about maintaining a healthy amount of Energy for damage output anymore.

Although less commonly used, its first attack, Adornment, can attach up to 5 Psychic Energy, which is a huge boost to the damage output for the rest of the game. This requires a full Bench and exposing a Pokémon worth three Prize cards in the Active Spot, but in some situations it can certainly be worthwhile.

Cards for Consistency

To make sure that any deck functions properly, it's important to carefully decide what type of Trainer cards and support Pokémon should be used. Here are a few that can have a major impact in this deck's execution.

Fog Crystal

One of the most powerful options available for this deck is also a card from the Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion, Fog Crystal. It's a shame that more than four copies of this card can't be used, as it can fetch important cards at any stage of the game. In the early turns it can find Gengar & Mimikyu-GX and Shadow Rider Calyrex V, and later it can pick up Psychic Energy cards to fuel Underworld Door. On top of all that, it can also search out Marshadow, whose Resetting Hole Ability can deal with Path to the Peak. This Stadium can pose a major threat to the deck's strategy, so having extra ways to remove it can be the deciding factor in a game.

Draw-Support Pokémon

Our example list chooses to go light on the draw-support Pokémon, with only one Dedenne-GX and one Crobat V. Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX itself is such a good way to draw cards that the deck can rely heavily on it. Bench space is also precious since you want as many Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in play as possible.


This deck can get by with just a handful of staples, generally seen as the strongest Supporter cards in the format: Professor's Research, Marnie, and Boss's Orders. The raw draw power of Professor's Research is unmatched, and Marnie doubles up as both a draw Supporter and a disruption card. Boss's Orders is the best way to close out games and apply pressure to your opponent's most important Pokémon.


Like so many decks, having ways to move Pokémon between the Bench and the Active Spot is critical. For this mobility, the deck has three Switch and two Air Balloon. These are important to make sure Gengar & Mimikyu-GX can find its way into the Active Spot early. Using the Poltergeist attack right after a full-effect Horror House-GX attack can in some cases score a Knock Out, but it can also backfire if the opponent doesn't draw into a lot of Trainer cards. The high number of switching cards makes sure the deck can swap between attackers as it sees fit as the game progresses.


The Stadium card of choice for this deck is Training Court. As mentioned earlier, Path to the Peak can be a problematic Stadium to deal with, as it will block the Underworld Door Ability. Therefore, this deck needs to run its own Stadiums as a form of defense, in addition to Marshadow with its Resetting Hole Ability. Training Court also allows for the retrieval of Psychic Energy cards, which can be really helpful after a couple of Professor's Research, or after some of your Pokémon get Knocked Out.

Battling against Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX

By now it's pretty clear that this deck has a lot of potential, so it's very likely that we will continue to see Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX be a popular card for some time to come. So we should also look at some tips and tricks on what to do when facing this new deck, as well.

Take Advantage of Weakness

The easiest way to defeat a problematic Pokémon is usually to look at the bottom-left symbol on the card. In this case, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX has Darkness-type Weakness. The strongest Darkness-type deck already established in the current format is the Eternatus VMAX deck. This deck should be able to power through Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in just one attack. But of course, having to commit to a whole deck just to beat another deck is not desirable. Fortunately, there are some other options.

Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign introduced another really strong card in Galarian Moltres V. With its Direflame Wings Ability, it can attach a Darkness Energy to itself from the discard pile every turn. This makes it easy to fuel its powerful Aura Burn attack, which, with the help of Weakness, can do enough damage to take down Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in a single hit. Multiple decks including Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX, Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, and Mewtwo & Mew-GX have already incorporated Galarian Moltres V into some of their deck lists, and many more have yet to be explored. One thing is certain, Galarian Moltres V is an incredible Darkness-type option.

Wall Them Out

Another approach for dealing with Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is to prevent them from attacking in the first place. Decidueye from the Sword & Shield—Darkness Ablaze expansion can block all damage done from Pokémon V with its Deep Forest Camo Ability. Pair that with the Big Parasol Pokémon Tool card and not even Shadow Rider Calyrex V's Astral Barrage attack will be able to do any damage. Similarly, Zamazenta V from the Sword & Shield expansion blocks all damage from Pokémon VMAX, which will also be quite problematic for the deck.

Countering the Counters

While the above-mentioned options can be a great way of locking the opponent out of the game, there are a number of cards the Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX deck can deploy to have a fighting chance. These “tech” cards can increase the number of options and the strength of the deck, but often at the cost of the deck's consistency. Depending on what you expect the metagame to look like, here are some cards you should have in the back of your mind as considerations when you are building your own list.

Swapping out a few Psychic Energy for some Aurora Energy will enable you to use a couple of different tech attackers. Galarian Zapdos V can be a great option to combat Eternatus VMAX if you want to have a more reliable answer than Alcremie VMAX. This will also open the possibility of using Necrozma from Sun & Moon—Unified Minds. With a Special Energy attached, its Special Laser attack can do 160 damage, which can be enough to Knock Out Decidueye in a single hit.

Another option to consider is Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX. This card can provide great disruption with its Night Watch attack, especially when first paired with Marnie to further reduce your opponent's hand size. It's also a much stronger option against Zamazenta V than Gengar & Mimikyu-GX, since the damage output is consistent and not dependent on the opponent's hand. The 270 HP also allows Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX to survive two attacks from Zamazenta V.

Cards that have multiple purposes are usually a ton of fun to play, and Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is no exception. The extra card draw and Energy acceleration makes this deck stand out from other current Standard format decks. I will highly recommend giving this archetype a try if you haven't already. The deck is relatively easy to just pick up and play, but it still has a ton of options presented during gameplay.

This is just one of the many exciting options from the new Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion, and it's not even the only Calyrex VMAX deck! Read Xander Pero's recent article about Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX to find out more about the other exciting version. And be sure to check out for more Pokémon TCG strategy and analysis.

About the Writer

Tord Reklev
Tord Reklev is a contributing writer for 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.

Back to Top