When you think of good BLW-on decks, what comes to mind? Garchomp/Altaria, Hydreigon/Darkrai EX, and Zekrom/Eels probably just popped into your head.
In this article, I will give you a scoop-by-scoop analysis of the Vanilluxe/Victini deck in a brand new format from another Maryland TCG player, but first, here is a rundown of the key cards used in the HS-on format to give you some background on the deck before heading into new horizons.
The Main Ingredients
Vanilluxe NVI is a Stage 2 Water Pokémon, has 130 HP, a Weakness to Metal, and a two Retreat Cost. So far Vanilluxe looks semi-sweet.
The 130 HP means it won’t be 1HKO by Pokémon such as Darkrai EX, Terrakion NVI, and Tornadus EX. The Weakness to Metal is delectable because the only Metal Pokémon you may run into are Klinklang BLW or Registeel-EX, and most decks only use Registeel-EX for Triple Laser. The two Retreat Cost isn’t horrible, but you can be put in a sticky situation if Vanilluxe is Catchered quite a bit.
Vanilluxe’s first attack, Double Freeze, costs a Water and a C Energy. You flip two coins, and do 40 damage times the number of heads. Double Freeze also has a cool effect where if you flip at least one heads, the Defending Pokémon is Paralyzed.
Paralysis is the most powerful Status Condition because your opponent won’t be able to retreat or attack with the Defending Pokémon. Churn this with Item lock, and your opponent will be frozen in his tracks!
The damage output is relatively low, however, and is even worse if the Defending Pokémon has an Eviolite attached. There is also the possibility of flipping two tails and doing no damage, no Paralysis, and your ice cream will begin to melt.
Vanilluxe’s forgotten second attack, Frost Breath, does 60 damage for two W Energy. If Vanilluxe is trying to Knock Out a non-Eviolited EX, all you have to do is Double Freeze 3 times followed by a Frost Breath for a guaranteed 2 Prizes. Against an 140 Stage 2 such as Garchomp DRX or Empoleon DEX, two Double Freezes followed by a Frost Breath will secure a KO.
Frost Breath is a very useful attack because it decreases the number heads you have to flip to Knock Out the Defending Pokémon.
pokemon-paradijs.comThe second (or third if you count Vanilluxe as two scoops) scoop of this two-card combo, Victini helps to ensure that your opponent stays Paralyzed. Its Ability, Victory Star, allows you to reflip any coins used for an attack once during your turn.
Even though Victory Star can’t be used more than once per turn, your chances of flipping at least one heads are better than 93%. Then again, you can still flip the dreaded quad tails and do no damage.
Another thing to note is that Victini only has 60 HP. This is a magical number for Darkrai EX since Night Spear’s bench damage will 2HKO Victini.
So far, the combination of Victini and Vanilluxe should sound irresistibly mouthwatering, but what does this duo lose after rotation?
This was a good tech to use since you already ran Gloom UD to get Vileplume UD into play. Bellossom’s Poké-Power, Hustle Step, allows you to heal 10 damage off of each your Pokémon once during your turn.
This is very helpful because it makes it much more difficult for your opponent to Knock Out Vanilluxe NVI. Victini NVI also benefits since Darkrai EX could no longer 2HKO Victini when it’s on the bench.
Smeargle was an amazing card for any deck, but especially Vanilluxe because it be difficult to set up. Smeargle’s Poké-Power, Portrait, allows you to look at your opponent’s hand and use one of the Supporters you find.
Being able to use multiple Supporters per turn allows you to quickly set Vileplume, Vanilluxe, and Victini. Smeargle also gave you great recovery against an N.
pokemon-paradijs.comWithout Vileplume, VVV would have never gotten its name. Now the deck is simply VV or Vanilluxe/Victini, which isn’t a nearly as cool name.
Vileplume’s Ability, Allergy Flower, prevent both players from using Items. A T2 Vileplume is any non-Vileplume player’s worst nightmare because half of your deck is rendered useless. Vileplume also has a hefty 120 HP, so it’s a Bench-sitter that won’t be Knocked Out very easily.
Most importantly, Vileplume assured that your opponent couldn’t get out of the Paralysis lock with a Switch. This is a fact that I believe has many people convinced that Vanilluxe NVI will no longer make a viable deck in a BLW-on format.
This card is an amazing Supporter for slow-setup decks, such as Vanilluxe NVI. Pokémon Collector allows you to search your deck for up to three Basic Pokémon. This card could be used in the early game to grab multiple Vanillite, Victini, Smeargle, Virizion, and Oddish. This card helps to assure a T2 Vileplume and having a Vanilluxe NVI into play by T3.
Pokémon Collector could also be used to thin out your deck in the late game. This helps to prevent you from drawing useless cards, while instead drawing into the last few Energy in your deck.
Seeker is a Supporter card that allows you and your opponent to return one Pokémon on the bench to each player’s hand respectively.
Vanilluxe decks often had very little bench space even in the early game between multiple Oddish on the bench because your opponent can Catcher KO them, Victini, multiple Vanillite, and support Pokémon such as Virizion or Smeargle. Having Seeker helps to manage your bench and keep streaming Vanilluxe.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is a god of the comeback cards (N’s got some competition), Twins is a Supporter card that allows you to search your deck for any two cards if you are behind are prizes. Because Vanilluxe decks are slow and full of low HP Pokémon such as Oddish, Victini, Smeargle and Vanillite, your opponent will often take two or even 3 Prizes for you get setup.
Twins gives you a reliable source to Rare Candy, Vileplume, Vanilluxe, and whatever else you need to setup. This card can even be used after Vileplume comes into play because Supporters aren’t shut off.
Since Vileplume decks didn’t use Ball Engines to set up, Sage’s Training was a go-to Supporter. This card allows you to look at the top five cards of your deck and choose two to put in your hand, and discard the rest. This helped to thin out your deck of worthless resources, such as Items, once Vileplume UD came into play.
Because Stage 2s are difficult to set up, and even more difficult to recover, Rescue Energy was a reliable way to keep Vanilluxe NVI in play. Rescue Energy allowed you to put the Pokémon Rescue Energy is attached to back in your hand if you’re Knocked Out by an attack. This was also helpful for using Double Freeze because the attack cost is a Water and a Colorless Energy.
Now that you have an idea of how VV works and what it will lose, here’s a list I’ve been working on for the new format.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 29
Energy – 13
pokemon-paradijs.comHere’s the reasoning behind each of the cards in my list.
There are three baby-scoops (Vanillite) to choose from Noble Victories, Next Destinies, and Dark Explorers. Vanillite NXD is the best option simply because it has the highest HP of the three.
There are also three medium sized scoops (Vanillish) to pick from the same sets. Vanillish NVI is the best choice because its first attack, Ice Beam, can Paralyze the opponent if you flip heads, which has perfect synergy with the deck.
Vanilluxe NXD is a card that has a cool Ability, but has rarely seen competitive play because no one has found a good way to use it. Its Ability, Slippery Soles, allows you to switch your Active Pokémon with one of your Benched Pokémon, and your opponent does the same.
Against other Paralysis decks such as Accelgor/Gothitelle, Slippery Soles gives you a way to free yourself from the Paralysis lock because Slippery Soles is an Ability, not an attack, and therefore isn’t shut off by an Item lock.
Since Vanilluxe decks no longer have the option of Item lock, your opponent can still use Pokémon Catcher to stall the Paralysis. Slippery Soles gives you a way to recover from Pokémon Catcher, however if you were about to KO the Defending Pokémon, they can send up a new Pokémon that hasn’t been damaged.
Emolga DRX is the optimal starter for many decks. Emolga’s Ability, Call for Family, lets you search your deck for two Basic Pokémon and put them onto your Bench. Even if you have an atrocious hand, Emolga can help get out the necessary Vanillites and Victinis to set up.
pokemon-paradijs.comMoving to the Supporters, and we have 4 Cheren, 4 N, 2 Professor Juniper, and 4 Random Receiver. With decks that have to setup multiple Stage 2s, you don’t want to discard too many important resources, such as Rare Candy, Pokémon Communication, and any part of your Vanilluxe line. Cheren is good because you get to draw three cards with no draw backs.
N is another good Supporter because it doesn’t require you to discard any resources. Also, once you have multiple Vanilluxe (with Energy) and Victini in play, you won’t rely on your hand very much. You will just need an occasional W Energy once Vanilluxe does get Knocked Out.
Wait, haven’t you said all along that discarding resources was bad? Yes, yes I have. The reason Professor Juniper is in the list is to simply increase the number of Supporters in my deck. With Cheren and N maxed out, I had to choose between Bianca and Professor Juniper. In my testing, I typically had large hands because of Cheren, and Bianca wouldn’t benefit me at all, so I opted to play a few Professor Juniper.
Random Receiver is added as a consistency booster so I don’t whiff on Supporters.
Because Pokémon Collector is gone, all decks will now use some combination of Pokémon Communication, Heavy Ball, Level Ball, and Ultra Ball for their search engine. Heavy Ball is a bad option because none of your Pokémon have more than a two Retreat Cost. Level Ball is good for searching out all of your Pokémon except Vanilluxe, which is the most important part of your deck.
Ultra Ball is the next best option in terms of your search engine because you can search for any Pokémon you want. The drawback is that you have to discard two cards, and you don’t want to be discarding resources when working with multiple Stage 2s.
Rare Candy helps to set up Vanilluxe as quickly as possible.
Because Rescue Energy is no longer with us, Rescue Scarf provides an alternative way to retrieve your fallen ice cream cone comrades. Rescue Scarf is a Tool card that allows you put all Pokémon the card it is attached to back into your hand when it is Knocked Out by an attack. Since Vanilluxe decks no longer play Vileplume, Rescue Scarf can easily be attached to Vanilluxe or Victini and will save them from the dreaded discard pile.
One thing Vanilluxe has a lot of trouble with is Eviolite. Since Double Freeze will only do 40 damage at a time, it can take a long time to Knock Out an EX, even longer with an Eviolite. Tool Scrapper is an Item card that allows you to discard up to two Tool cards on the field. Getting rid of Eviolite and Big Cloak will help Vanilluxe Knock Out the Defending Pokémon as quickly as possible.
Skyarrow Bridge is included for a few reasons. If you happen to start a game with Victini, you can play Skyarrow Bridge to give Victini free retreat, and use Call For Family with Emolga or send up a Vanillite. This card also helps in the mid-late game. If your opponent decides to Catcher a Victini or Vanillite, you can retreat it to the bench for free and you won’t have to waste an Energy attachment or use Slippery Soles.
I include a fair amount of Energy in this deck because Double Freeze costs two Energy. Two Energy isn’t a lot, but if you whiff on Energy needed to use Double Freeze, the Paralysis lock will be broken.
Here are my favorite techs that could slip right into your Vanilluxe deck.
There was a version of Vanilluxe that used Mew Prime to send Unfezant BLW to the Lost Zone. This way, right when you are about to KO the Defending Pokémon, you use Fly to prevent any damage taken when your opponent has the chance to attack.
Yanmega DRX knows an attack called Agility that has the same effect as Unfezant, but only does 30 damage. Yanmega is easier to get into play because it is a Stage 1. If you wanted to include Yanmega into your list, then consider using Mew-EX as well.
Mew-EX makes it possible to use the attacks of other Pokémon in play with the Ability, Versatile.
Note: Yanmega DRX, Swanna EPO, Excadrill EPO 47, Unfezant BLW, and Blitzle NVI are all Pokémon capable of preventing damage done to it during your opponent’s next turn. I feel Yanmega is the best option because it’s difficult to fit a Stage 2 into a Vanilluxe deck, Yanmega has free retreat, and the attack costs two C Energy.
This is another good Pokémon to start a game with. Virizion would be used for its first attack, Double Draw, which allows you to draw two cards. Virizion has a decent 110 HP, so it is much harder to KO than Emolga DRX, possibly giving you more time to setup. The downside is Virizion has a one Retreat Cost, which means if you don’t have the necessary Switch/Energy to retreat it, you may not be able to keep the Paralysis going.
Mewtwo EX is a great card to get your last few prizes. X Ball does 20 damage times the amount of Energy attached to Mewtwo EX and the Defending Pokémon. Once you have enough Energy on multiple Vanilluxe to Double Freeze, you can begin to power up Mewtwo EX on the bench through Double Colorless Energy.
Be warned though, if you’re powering up a Mewtwo EX on the bench and you just KO’d the Defending Pokémon your opponent can simply Catcher Mewtwo EX, send up their own, and take an easy 2 Prizes.
pokemon-paradijs.comIf you find yourself using Slippery Soles very often, Kyogre EX may be a good tech to consider. Kyogre EX is known for its second attack Dual Splash, which does 50 damage to two of your opponent’s Pokémon for two Water and a C Energy.
If you used Slippery Soles and your opponent’s Pokémon retreated to the bench before you could finish it off, Dual Splash can finish it off.
Just keep in mind of Kyogre EX’s four Retreat Cost, it will be Catchered. You should consider running a high amount of Switch. Kyogre EX is also weak to Lightning, which is something that Zekrom/Eels players will take advantage of.
Miltoc has an attack called Clear Search. For one W Energy, you can search your deck for any three cards. Now that Twins is gone, Milotic could take its place. However, fitting Milotic into your deck takes a good amount of space since you would want to start with it in the early game to set up.
Mew-EX has an Ability, Versatile, that allows you to use the attacks of any Pokémon in play. Because Mew-EX is a Psychic type, it can act as a good counter to Mewtwo EX. Mew-EX can use Double Freeze when Vanilluxe is on your bench, so when a Mew-EX gets Knocked Out, you don’t have to worry about setting up another Stage 2, you just send up a second Mew-EX. Mew-EX can even use Yanmega’s attack, Agility, to prevent damage.
Even though Mew-EX is a great inclusion, it has a very fragile 120 HP, and once it gets Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prizes. While this may not sound like a big deal, Using heavy counts of Mew-EX can make the Prize trade not in your favor
If your opponent is able to get a fully charged Rayquaza EX or a Mewtwo EX, this can be very scary for the Vanilluxe player. This is where Sigilyph comes in. Sigilyph has an Ability, Safeguard, that prevents any damage done from EXs. Some of the Pokémon that are capable of getting a 1HKO on Vanilluxe are EXs, so Sigilyph gives you the chance to recover.
Sigilyph can also act as a Mewtwo EX counter, however, you would need to include Prism Energy in your deck if you wanted to attack with Sigilyph.
pokemon-paradijs.comSwitch could help in the early game to get Emolga in the Active Spot and use a T1 Call for Family to fill up your bench. It is also useful if your opponent tries to Catcher out one of your Pokémon, and you don’t have the necessary Energy to retreat it. If you can, Switch is often better to use than Slippery Soles to retreat because your opponent’s Active Pokémon won’t get to retreat to the bench.
Since Vanilluxe decks will no longer have Item lock, you will be able to use many more Items, such as Pokémon Catcher. I can see this card being useful if you have to use Slippery Soles, and your opponent retreats a Pokémon you’ve been working at Knocking Out for so long.
Pokémon Catcher can also be used to pick the best target for Vanilluxe. For example, if your opponent is preparing a Mewtwo EX on the bench to 1HKO Vanilluxe, simply Catcher it up and Paralyze it to death so it doesn’t have a chance to attack.
If your Vanilluxe list uses a high count of Professor Juniper, Ultra Ball, or you find that you’re just losing resources very quickly, Super Rod may be a good card to include in your list. Super Rod allows you to put three in any combination of Basic Energy and Pokémon back into your deck.
Pokémon Center can act as a counter-Stadium to decks that use Skyarrow Bridge, and is also a nice counter to Darkrai EX. Pokémon Center lets each player heal 20 damage from one benched Pokémon each turn.
Instead of going through each and every matchup, I will describe the strengths and weaknesses of the Vanilluxe deck in a BLW-on.
I am doing this because I want to try a new approach and you can’t perfectly predict the decks in a BLW-on metagame without having any official BLW-on tournaments yet here in the US. You can only specualte based on the metagame of other countries, such as Japan.
These Base stats show that there aren’t too many Pokémon capable of Knocking Out Vanilluxe in one hit.
2. Vanilluxe has over a 93% chance of getting at least one heads on Double Freeze, with no drawbacks if you flip heads.
With most Pokémon that have Paralyzing attacks, you only flip one coin, and if heads the Defending Pokémon is Paralyzed. Vanilluxe allows you to flip two coins, and you still only need one heads, which means you have about an 18% better chance of getting a heads.
One Pokémon that can Paralyze without any coin flip is Accelgor DEX. Accelgor, however, must be shuffled back into your deck with anything else that was attached. Even though Mew-EX can copy Accelgor’s Deck and Cover, it is still difficult to keep searching your deck for a Mew-EX/Accelgor and a Double Colorless Energy each turn to use Deck and Cover.
3. Rescue Scarf.
Because Vanilluxe is a Stage 2, it is not only difficult to initially get it into play, but it is even harder to recover your scoops once it gets KOd. Rescue Scarf allows you to return all of the ice cream cones back to your hand, which will help you to keep the Paralysis lock in effect.
4. Because Vanilluxe is not an EX, the Prize trade will often be in your favor.
As mentioned in my first article, Vanilluxe is very effective against Pokémon like Darkrai EX because it can’t 1HKO Vanilluxe and gives up 2 Prizes when Knocked Out. It is much easier for the Vanilluxe player to Knock Out three Darkrai EX than it is for the Darkrai EX player to Knock Out six Vanilluxe when Darkrai EX is constantly being Paralyzed.
Even though Vanilluxe has 130 HP, there are still some Pokémon that can 1HKO Vanilluxe. Reshiram and Zekrom are all just one PlusPower away from a Knock Out on Vanilluxe. There are also Pokémon with limitless damage output, such as Rayquaza EX and Mewtwo EX that can 1HKO anything if they have enough Energy attached.
2. Vanilluxe decks no longer have Item lock.
One of the major reasons why VVV had success in the previous format is due to Vileplume UD shutting off Items. This not only destroyed your opponent’s setup, but prevented you opponent from using Switch to escape Paralysis. Since VV can no longer prevent the use of Items, your opponent can easily play a Switch or Super Scoop Up and free themselves from Paralysis.
There is a major difference in the BLW-on format: no Junk Arm. This card allowed you to only run a few copies of Switch in most decks and have a reliable way to get it out of the discard when you need it.
Now that Junk Arm is gone, your opponent must either draw into Switch, use Sableye DEX, or use a recycle (however this is flippy and inconsistent) to use Switch, which is much harder than simply using Junk Arm.
3. Vanilluxe is a Stage 2.
Even though you can run four copies of Rescue Scarf, it is still difficult to keep a stream Vanilluxe with a Water and a C Energy coming because Stage 2s take a long time to set up and you have no Energy acceleration.
4. Knocking Out your opponent’s Pokémon is a slow and painful process.
On average, Vanilluxe does 40 damage at a time, which means it will take a very long time to Knock Out EXs with up to 180 HP. If your opponent has a Big Cloak or especially an Eviolite the process is ridiculously slow.
Because Vanilluxe is a very slow deck, this doesn’t do well in Top Cut matches. Basically, you have to win game one or lose one very quick game, otherwise you probably aren’t going to win the series.
When piloting a deck where you have to set up multiple Stage 2s, you must also play at a relatively fast speed to ensure that you take 6 Prizes as quickly as possible.
My opinion about Vanilluxe is very similar to that of Ninetales/Amoonguss: it isn’t anywhere near Tier 1, but I feel it still stands a chance in competitive play.
Now that I’ve written a few articles, you can probably identify my strengths and weakness as a writer. I am really looking forward to any feedback, positive or negative, so I can improve the quality of my articles and present the information in a way that you will enjoy.
Some examples: Do you prefer me to list of all the matchups or a pros vs. cons lists? Should I include a seperate section for the strategy instead of embedding it into a card analysis?
Also, if you would like me to continue doing these BLW-on deck analyses, I would be glad to take any suggestions into consideration.
Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone going to Hawaii, whether it’s for the Grinders, Worlds, or just to spectate and support your friends, has a great time.
Also, don’t forget to check out the English scans of Dragons Exalted on PokéBeach.