Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Corviknight VMAX (SW – Battle Styles 110/163, 171/163) is… a Pokémon VMAX! That’s a lot like saying “Water is wet.” so let’s unpack what it really means. Giving up three Prizes instead of one or two when KO’d. Dealing with anti-VMAX effects. Dealing with anti-Pokémon V effects, whether we’re talking about detrimental effects that target Pokémon V, or beneficial effects that exclude them. All of which are drawbacks that are paradoxically obvious yet easy to forget about when dreaming up decks or making high-pressure plays. There a benefits to being a Pokémon VMAX. They have their own support, they have at least 300 HP, and they seem intended to have better effects, even if only relative to costs.
Pokémon VMAX is a Stage, and not just a Rule Box mechanic. All Pokémon V are either Basics or VMAX; they’re the equivalent of Stage 1 Pokémon. Indeed, they take the same amount of effort to run, and are only different from each other because the cards say “VMAX” and not “Stage 1”. General Evolution support and counters still apply, but the only Stage-specific stuff that does are the effects that talk about Pokémon VMAX. Baseline Corviknight cards are usually Stage 2 Pokémon, requiring more cards and time to hit the field than Pokémon VMAX, so that’s another advantage this card enjoys. It is a Gigantamax Pokémon, and currently that means nothing in the TCG. Maybe we’ll see a card effect reference it in the near future, maybe it will go forever unused.
Corviknight VMAX is a Metal type; not great for exploiting Weakness, but Zacian V decks have proven Metal a strong type since they debuted. Often one, if not the, strongest type. 320 HP is typical for a Pokémon VMAX, and only 20 shy of the current, printed maximum. OHKOs are unlikely, though still possible. Fire Weakness is dangerous; not the worst, but the type definitely has some competitive decks and Weakness spells the difference between OHKOs and 2HKOs… or at least less resource intensive OHKO’s. Any Resistance is appreciated; Grass Weakness isn’t super useful, but it is better than the usual lack of Resistance. A free Retreat Cost should be very, useful, though; none are better.
Corviknight VMAX has the Ability “Lustrous Body”, which prevents all effects of your opponent’s Pokémon’s Abilities done to this Pokémon. This means, for example, that Galarian Zigzagoon (Sword & Shield 117/202; Shining Fates SV078/SV122) can’t use its “Headbutt Tantrom” to place a damage counter on Corviknight VMAX. It wouldn’t prevent your drawing from their Crobat V using “Dark Asset”. It will not let you bypass the “Dauntless Shield” Ability that protects Zamazenta V from the damage done by attacks from Pokémon VMAX. Lustrous Body offers some protection, but nothing major; a nice, small bonus. Corviknight VMAX has one attack, “G-Max Hurricane.” For [MMC], this attack lets Corviknight VMAX do 240 damage, but it places an effect on itself preventing it from using G-Max Hurricane next turn.
While not being able to use G-Max Hurricane is a drawback, it is easy enough to shake; retreat it for free then use any other switching effect, and you’re golden. The real question is whether or not 240 damage for three Energy is enough? I think the answer is “Yes.” because of Zacian V, which does 230 damage for [MMM]. All the KO’s that Zacian V can get using its “Brave Blade” attack, Corviknight V can get using G-Max Hurricane. In fact, as the attack does 10 more damage, it can get a few more. It isn’t just about damage, however. After all, Corviknight VMAX should be hitting harder than Zacian V, and while Lustrous Body is nice, it is no where near as good as Zacian V’s “Intrepid Sword” Ability. Why are we using a Pokémon VMAX to do the job of a proven Basic Pokémon V?
This is where the rest of Corviknight VMAX surprises in how useful it can be, especially when we add a third Pokémon into the mix: Bronzong (SW – Battle Styles 102/163; SW – Battle Styles SWSH091). With its “Metal Transfer” Ability, we can move [M] Energy around with ease, whether it was attached manually, through Intrepid Sword, or via Metal Saucer. Corviknight VMAX has 100 more HP than Zacian V, and can still use cards like Metal Goggles to soak even more damage. Once Corviknight VMAX has attacked, it can manually retreat for free, preserving its attached Energy so they can all be moved to a second Corviknight VMAX or a Zacian V. There are some nice optional tricks as well: Cheryl to heal and Phoebe to cut through damage reducing effects on your opponent’s Pokémon.
The only real issue I see with this deck is that it might still be better to focus on a “tighter” Zacian V variant. After all, Zacian V hasn’t really needed the alternate attacker before… and if we do go for such a thing, Bronzong opens up a lot more potential partners. I’ve heard talk of this deck being good, but I didn’t see in in the results for the few events that have included SW – Battle Styles (or rather, its Japanese counterparts). I think Corviknight VMAX has solid potential in Standard, and even in Expanded, and that is what saves its scores.
Both the good and the bad of Corviknight VMAX is that it is like a Zacian V but as a less impressive but still handy Pokémon VMAX. If it doesn’t catch on right away, remember it for later. Maybe even all the way until the next rotation.