Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX – Chilling Reigns
June 30, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Top three time! Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX (SW – Chilling Reign 075/198, 204/198, 205/198) is our third-place pick. It is stupid, but one of the things I love about this card is its “Shadow Rider” name. It has that oddly timeless quality of trying “too hard” to be cool… but dorks like me will fall for that every time. The name also reminds us that this is specifically the VMAX version of Shadow Rider Calyrex, worth three Prizes when KO’d, unable to use beneficial effects that say they exclude Pokémon V or Pokémon VMAX, vulnerable to deleterious that target such cards, and able to tap into that tiny bit of VMAX support. Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is also a Dynamax form, but even though it says so on the card, no mechanics deal with that right now.
Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is a [P] type, which seems to vary between “decent” and “very good” in terms of type matching. We still have a few older archetypes kicking around, like Mewtwo & Mew-GX variants, plus somewhat newer stuff like Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, where exploiting Psychic Weakness should come in handy. SW – Chilling Reign introduced some new support for Psychic Pokémon, in the forms of Fog Crystal and Old Cemetery, so I may have been selling them short the last few reviews. You may have noticed I didn’t mention the HP boost that Pokémon VMAX usually receive. We have no baseline Calyrex cards with which to compare, but yes, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is still beefy!
320 HP is 20 higher than the “smallest” Pokémon VMAX and 20 lower than the largest… and on other cards, has proven suitably durable even when factoring in being worth three Prizes. Unfortunately for Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, its [D] Weakness has also proven to be dangerous. Any Resistance is appreciated, and -30 [F] might actually come in handy. Coupled with how many [F] types are [P] Weak, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX already looks promising against them, so long as the card’s attack doesn’t let it down. Before we get to effects, though, we have its Retreat Cost of [CC]. It is… normal? Typical? It isn’t low enough to be easy to pay and/or recover from having paid, but it isn’t high enough to be a serious issue, either.
Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX has one Ability and knows one attack. The former is “Underworld Door”, which lets you attach a [P] Energy from your hand to one of your Benched [P] Pokémon, and if you do, you get to draw two cards as well. Yeah, this is a half-power Welder for [P] types, in the form of an Ability on a solid Pokémon VMAX. Only basic Psychic Energy count as [P] while in hand, but that’s still a good deal. I mentioned Fog Crystal earlier; it is an Item that lets you add either a basic Psychic Energy card or a Basic [P] Pokémon to your hand from your deck. There are also the various other forms of basic Energy support, so having fuel for Underworld Door shouldn’t be too difficult. So… do we have at least a decent filler attack like we did with yesterday’s Galarian Articuno V?
“Max Geist” is priced at [CCC], but this is a bit misleading due to its effect. The attack does 10 damage plus 30 for each [P] Energy attached to all of your Pokémon. Unlike Underworld Door, this works with both basic and Special Energy cards, so long as they provide [P] Energy in some form. On its own, Max Geist would be a little underwhelming. [PPP] attached to Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX would only do 100 damage, and getting that much attached, quickly and reliably, would be at least a little tricky. Thanks to Underworld Door, it is reasonable. You’ll need multiple Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is that is your only form of [P] Energy acceleration, and that almost seems like a waste because the appeal of attack that counts Energy attached to other Pokémon is you can have the minimum amount attached to your attacker, with spare attackers at least partially prepped.
Enter Cresselia (SW – Chilling Reign 064/198; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH114)! I almost included this on my Top 15 list, though it would have been low enough that it wouldn’t have made the site’s countdown even if I had. I also won’t be going into a huge amount of detail for this card, because we’ll review it sooner or later. The main thing to understand is that this is Psychic Energy’s version of Volcanion (SM – Unbroken Bond 25/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM179). Which means it can prep your first Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX while it is still a Shadow Rider Calyrex V, so you can save next turn’s manual Energy attachment and any bonus attachments from instances of Underworld Door to power up your next attacker. Assuming your opponent OHKO’s Cresselia on your next turn, you could still pretty easily have five to eight basic Psychic Energy in play… enough for Max Geist to do 160 to 250 damage!
So… good stats, great Ability, and a good attack. Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX has a lot going for it, thought the Darkness Weakness is scary. Shadow Rider Calyrex V (SW – Chilling Reign 074/198, 171/198, 172/198) isn’t anywhere near as impressive, but it also isn’t a massive burden, either. It is a 210 HP, [P] type Basic Pokémon V, with 210 HP and the same bottom stats as its VMAX counterpart. For [P], its “Shadow Mist” attack only does 10 damage, but it also prevents your opponent from playing any Special Energy cards or Stadium cards from hand during their next turn. For [CCC] it can use “Astral Barrage” to place five damage counters (each) on two of your opponent’s Pokémon.
How about the Expanded Format? I don’t have personal experience or recent tournament results available, so this is pure Theorymon. The Darkness Weakness worries me a bit more here, but I don’t know if it should. Expanded may not include the entire backlog of Darkness Pokémon and support cards, but it contains enough that some greats are present… and I believe at least a few of them are still worthwhile, regardless of power creep. Anti-Ability effects are another concern; Underworld Door is likely fueling both Energy acceleration and a decent amount of setup or field maintenance. On the other hand, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX gains access to older Psychic support. Dimension Valley might seem counterproductive at first, but it just means your Active attacker needs (and thus loses when KO’d) one fewer Energy cards… and you can have a copy of Regirock (XY – Black Star Promos XY49) on your Bench with an Exp. Share equipped, sucking up one basic Energy anytime an Active with one is KO’d.
I had Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX as my number one card from SW – Chilling Reign. There are a few cards that rival it, including a few that I personally weren’t as impressed with, but which others who opinions I respect rated as above it. Indeed, I believe a solid case can be made for the top two cards in our countdown being as or more important in the long run, and maybe even the short term. Finally, another Spoiler Alert. Skip to the ratings if you don’t care to hear about stuff from Japan. When we look at Japanese tournament results from when their card pool resembled our current (or soon to be current) one, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX decks were indeed one of the very competitive ones.
- Standard: 5/5
- Expanded: 5/5
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