Jolteon VMAX – Evolving Skies
Date Reviewed: September 24, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Now you know why we looked at Elemental Badge on Wednesday, eh? Jolteon VMAX (SW – Evolving Skies 051/203) is today’s subject. As the name reminds us, this is a Pokémon VMAX, which means it is also a Pokémon V and a Pokémon with a Rule Box. I don’t believe any of the anti-Rule Box effects will apply to Jolteon VMAX, but this Pokémon will have to deal with VMAX counters, more generic Pokémon V counters, as well as being excluded from certain beneficial card effects. All these drawbacks come with some big bonuses, however. The most obvious is Jolteon VMAX’s 300 HP; while this is the lowest we’ve seen on Pokémon VMAX, it is still tricky to OHKO, especially without exploiting Weakness. It also seems to justify effects that are better than their costs would otherwise permit.
Being a Pokémon VMAX is not just a mechanic, but also a Stage of Evolution. They’re basically Stage 1 Pokémon that do not count as Stage 1 Pokémon. So they’re almost exactly as demanding as Stage 1 Pokémon to run, and general Evolution support and counters apply, but not those specific to Stage 1 Pokémon. Getting even more specific for a moment, Jolteon VMAX is a “Dynamax” VMAX. Even this far into the SW-series, there are still zero card effects or game mechanics that care about this. What definitely does matter is being a Lightning Type. Most [W] types and a decent chunk of [C] Pokémon are [L] Weak. Speed [L] Energy gives their decks an extra bit of weak-but-easy draw power.
There are some more bits of support in Standard, but they either haven’t proven worthwhile yet or don’t directly apply to Jolteon VMAX. There’s also the relatively recent Rubber Gloves, a Tool that increases the attackers damage done to Active [L] Pokémon. While almost any deck could run it, but if enough [L] Poké0mon provide worthwhile problems, it could become an issue in the future. Especially if combined with something that exploits Jolteon VMAX’s Weakness. It is [F] Weak, which could be a big problem is Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX decks remain good. The lack of Resistance is the worst, but not actually a problem as most Pokémon lack Resistance and -30 against just one type is more a bonus than a true strength. The free Retreat Cost is great, though!
Jolteon VMAX only knows one attack, and that is “Max Thunder Rumble”. Priced at [LC], this attack does 100 damage, plus another 100 damage to an already injured Benched Pokémon. You get to pick if your opponent has multiple Benched Pokémon with at least one damage counter on it, and if none of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon have damage counters on it, you just get that initial 100 damage. So, is this any good? In other Formats, it might have been too finicky to get the bonus, but we’re in a good meta right now for placing damage counters on the target of your choice, so you should effectively be getting 200 damage for two Energy, and that’s solid.
Wait, there’s more. No, not Jolteon V. It… it is pretty disappointing. While it has that wonderful free Retreat, and its [L] typing is a little more handy than Jolteon VMAX’s (see Stormy Mountain), it has a low-for-a-VMAX 190 HP and poor attacks. Yes, you can use its “Thunder Spear”, priced at [C], to do 20 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokémon of your choice… but why would you? Even if it all works out, you’re just doing an average of 110 damage per turn; while for just one then two Energy, you’ll need both luck and skill to make it count. Also, remember I said that 300 HP is tricky to OHKO, 2HKO’s are just regular difficulty. Lastly, its “Pin Missile” attack is flippy desperation: [LCC] to flip four coins, doing 60 per “heads”. Better than nothing, but you have to put one more Energy onto Jolteon V than its VMAX needs.
Yes, there’s still more. I mentioned Elemental Badge earlier, and while it can’t make Jolteon V more than a stepping stone to Jolteon VMAX, it transforms Jolteon VMAX’s “good” attack into a very good, maybe even a great attack. While Max Thunder Rumble still isn’t usually scoring OHKO’s even when its cost is reduced to [L], with a little help like Galarian Zigzagoon (Sword & Shield 117/202; Shining Fates SV078/SV122), you have a solid chance of scoring a double 2HKO against 2120 HP and lower targets. Which includes almost all Single Prize targets, but a decent chunk of Basic Pokémon V.
We’ve got some proof that it is working. As far as I know, no major events have taken place, but check out the breakdown covering smaller (unofficial?) events over at LimitlessTCG. Jolteon VMAX doesn’t seem to be the new top deck, but its definitely looking very competitive. Besides Galarian Zigzagoon, another probable dance partner for it is Inteleon (SW – Chilling Reign 043/198; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH113; SW – Evolving Skies 227/203). You can check out the deck lists (Limitless has them), but two tricks I really liked; you’re not relying on Rule Box Pokémon with Abilities, so you can run Path to the Peak, and you’re attacking with an Evolved Pokémon for one Energy (and Elemental Badge), so Cheryl can pull mass healing shenanigans.
I don’t expect Jolteon VMAX to be as good in Expanded. At least for now, power creep has not left Marshadow-GX behind, so having a solid [F] type attacker isn’t too hard for most decks. There’s much stronger Bench protection here, so even though you have more [L] support, I just don’t expect as much from the deck here. Keep it in mind, though, as I could pretty easily be wrong.
- Standard: 4/5
- Expanded: 2/5
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