– Rebel Clash
July 13, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Malamar VMAX (SSH – Rebel Clash 122/192; 198/192) is a Pokémon VMAX. This is both a subclass of the Pokémon V specialty mechanic, as well as its own Stage of evolution. Malamar VMAX gives up two extra Prize when KO’d, one more than most other multi-Prize Pokémon and the same as a TAG TEAM Pokémon-GX. It is excluded from certain beneficial card effects (like Scoop Up Net) and faced both Pokémon V and Pokémon VMAX specific counters (Zamazenta V being an example of the latter). As a Stage of evolution, Pokémon VMAX are still count as evolutions, and can make use general evolution support (like Evolution Incense). Functionally, they’re like Stage 1 Pokémon except when a card effect specifically applies to Stage 1 Pokémon, or when an effect expressly references Pokémon VMAX. It is also a Dynamax Pokémon, but that currently doesn’t mean anything in terms of gameplay.
So, there’s a big cost to being a Pokémon VMAX, but what are the rewards? So far, it doesn’t mean anything for a Pokémon’s type; Malamar VMAX is a Darkness type, which makes sense as it is a Dark/Psychic dual type in the video games. In the TCG, many [P] Pokémon are [D] Weak, and Dragapult VMAX makes this very relevant to the metagame. [D] Resistance only exist naturally on Fairy type Pokémon, and they only exist as their own type in the XY and Sun & Moon releases. The Darkness type has a nice amount of support, but most of what it has available in Standard has fallen far short of what I expected; Expanded has some obsolete bits added, but also proven greats like Dark Patch. Anti-Darkness effects exist, but aren’t likely to be an issue.
We finally see Malamar VMAX cash in on being a VMAX; 310 HP! This is 10 more than anything printed in the Sun & Moon-era, though is actually on the low end for Pokémon VMAX. This means Malamar VMAX has a good chance of surviving an attack while Active, unless your opponent takes advantage of Weakness. Fortunately, its [G] Weakness just isn’t that easy to exploit; there are a few decks with strong Grass attackers kicking around, but they’re a tiny sliver of the competitive metagame, and they still need to deal 160 damage (before Weakness) to one-shot Malamar VMAX. No Resistance is typical; maybe a missed opportunity at worst. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is also quite common, and is neither hard nor easy to pay; most decks should be able to deal with it.
Malamar VMAX knows only one attack, and has no Abilities. For [DDC] it can use “Max Jammer” to deal 180 damage, while also messing with your opponent’s hand. Specifically, Max Jammer forces your opponent to reveal their hand, and then you select a card from that hand to bottom deck. 180 should OHKO the majority of single Prize Pokémon, most basic Pokémon-EX, many Basic Pokémon-GX, and the smallest Pokémon V. Everything else should be within 2HKO range. This is before defensive effects and Resistance, of course. It is still a good amount for three Energy, even on a Pokémon VMAX… and the disruption is great as well. A typical strategy is to play as much as you can of your hand during your turn, with a Supporter (or out to a Supporter) saved back for next turn. Max Jammer wrecks that, as well as more specialized plays.
Malamar VMAX isn’t an autowin card, but it is good. So… why is no one running it? Right now, it still has hefty competition. Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX can do 150 damage for [PPP], while also shuffling two cards (chosen at random) from your opponent’s hand back into their deck, with its “Night Watch” attack. It is a TAG TEAM Pokémon-GX, so it is also worth three Prizes when KO’d. It only has 270 HP, but it is a Basic, not a pseudo-Stage 1 (a Pokémon VMAX). There are more counters to Pokémon-GX, but also more support. It is a [P] type, which means it has better type support than Darkness in Standard, and about as good in Expanded. It also has a GX-attack, though I’m uncertain if it is one worth using or not. Its Weakness and Retreat Cost are worse but if you want a control/disruption deck, Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX are the clear choice in both Standard and Expanded.
I don’t expect things to change in Expanded, though I could be pleasantly surprised. Malamar VMAX is more precise, but slower. Decks already using Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX run additional forms of hand disruption, so randomly shuffling two away has a good chance of hitting something that matters. In the Standard Format, I think Malamar VMAX just has to wait. Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX ought to survive the next rotation, but a lot of their support will not. It isn’t guaranteed, but that could allow Malamar VMAX to finally show its stuff. Future Darkness support could also help, and we’re due some in the next set.
Malamar V wasn’t very impressive in Standard or Expanded, and we reviewed it yesterday, so I won’t bother going into detail about it. Malamar V is great in the Limited Format, and if you pull both Malamar V and Malamar VMAX in the Limited Format, run them! Either built a mono- or mostly Darkness deck with Malamar VMAX as your big surprise, or just run Malamar V/VMAX with 38 other Trainers and Energy cards. Malamar V is already great here, but Max Jammer brings bigger damage and even more control of over your opponent.
Malamar VMAX looks like the successor to Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX. It just arrived a bit early, and will (hopefully) get a chance to prove itself in Standard eventually. Maybe even in Expanded as well. You might want to snag a playset of this now, while no one really cares about it… unless it is getting a re-release as a tin, giftset, etc. I didn’t have time to check for that myself.
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