Eternatus VMAX– Sword and Shield
Date Reviewed: January 5, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
As we keep running through the runners-up from the top 10 cards of 2020, cards that made an individual reviewer’s list but didn’t actually place within the top 10, we come to Eternatus VMAX (SW – Darkness Ablaze 117/189, 192/189; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH045). As a reminder, Pokémon VMAX are still Pokémon V, so all those detrimental card effects that include Pokémon V and beneficial ones that exclude Pokémon V still apply. Otherwise, Eternatus VMAX gives up three Prizes when KO’d, can access Pokémon VMAX support, and has to also deal with Pokémon VMAX-specific counters or effect exclusions. All of this comes with a tremendous amount of HP on all existing Pokémon VMAX, and often stronger-than-normal effects. Pokémon VMAX are also a Stage of evolution, very similar to Stage 1 Pokémon as they evolve from Basic Pokémon V through the normal Evolution rules. This means they’re neither easy nor demanding to run. They don’t actually count as Stage 1 Pokémon, however. It currently does not affect gameplay, but Eternatus VMAX is our only Eternamax Pokémon, based on the tag under the box showing its evolution information, in the upper left hand corner of the card.
The card’s [D] typing is important; simply put, Dragapult VMAX decks basically died out because of their [D] Weakness. [D] Resistance is less and less a problem, as it was only ever found on [Y] types. Now that Fairy types in the TCG are represented as part of the [P] type, it seems to have vanished. Darkness is so-so. Hiding [D] Energy can be handy, but they don’t have anything mind-blowing like Welder. At least, not in Standard; Expanded may be another matter. Anti-[D] effects are old, obscure, and not very good. We don’t have a baseline version of Eternatus with which to compare, so we can only just its 340 HP on its own merits and… it is the highest HP score we’ve seen on anything so far, so it is rather great! It can be hard to 2HKO this amount, let alone OHKO it.
Even when a Fighting type, able to exploit this card’s [F] Weakness, attacks, it needs to still do 170 before Weakness to score a OHKO. Fortunately for Eternatus VMAX, doing 170 usually requires some real effort, and Fighting isn’t doing all that well in the metagame. The lack of Resistance is typical, and potentially justified due to the HP. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] may actually be the worst; while [CCCC] costs more, both are so high you really need to rely on switching cards or those that zero out Retreat Costs. Which would still make the lost cost ever-so-slightly better… but Retreat Costs of four come with access to certain pieces of support. It still isn’t a huge difference, though.
Eternatus VMAX possesses the Ability “Eternal Zone”. While in play, Eternal Zone lets you have up to eight Pokémon on your Bench but none of your Pokémon can be anything other than [D] type. If Eternatus VMAX hits the field and a non-Darkness type is in play, Eternal Zone won’t activate. As soon as you do satisfy those conditions, though, Eternal Zone kicks in… which is important because it also states you cannot play non-Darkness types once this Ability is working. If it does get turned off, and you have more than five Pokémon on your Bench, you discard Pokémon until your Bench is no larger than five. A bigger Bench is good, but not great in and of itself; it is more space to play Pokémon, but unless they have Abilities, fuel other card effects, etc. it doesn’t actually mean much.
Fortunately, Eternatus VMAX knows the attack “Dread End”. For just [DC], it lets Eternatus VMAX attack 30 damage per [D] Pokémon you have in play. It doesn’t start getting good until you have a Bench of three [D] types. You’re aiming for seven or eight Darkness types on your Bench, so that (including Eternatus VMAX itself), you’re swinging for 210 to 240 damage, enough to OHKO many to most Basic Pokémon V, and 2HKO anything without protection. All the good aspects of this card easily feed into each other; you get a massive Pokémon VMAX in solid OHKO or 2HKO range for just two Energy and a massive Bench of Darkness types. The only real drawback is, even if you want to, you can’t Bench anything off-type while Eternal Zone is in effect, and if you do have something off-type in play,your damage output badly drops (more from Eternal Zone shutting down than doing -30 damage for that particular Pokémon’s presence).
Eternatus VMAX had a good year. It actually rivaled Zacian ADP lists as being the best deck… for a short time. From what I can tell, it is still a great deck in Standard, and I expect it to be pretty good to great in Expanded, but that’s just a guess; no proof from actual events. What I can tell you is a lot of the partners and potential partners I hoped to see, as mentioned in our previous Eternatus VMAX review, haven’t really been seen. For the Limited Format, this is not something to run in a mulligan build, and you may have to rely on a lot of filler (namely, whatever Darkness types you pull) to build a deck. When it works, though, it is very good.
- Standard: 4/5
- Expanded: 3/5
- Limited: 4/5
Eternatus VMAX hasn’t proven as dominant as I expected, but it was a great deck in 2020, and seems like it will stick around for at least a bit longer in 2021. This was good enough to make it my 12th-Place pick, which still got it an effective 15th-Place for the combined list.
Vince did not have this on his Top 10 List. Vince reviewed this card right here back in August 2020.
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