The Crowned Card

Sword & Shield Set Rundown, ADP/Zacian V the BDIF, and Concept Lists for Hammertime and Fire Box
Heir to the Standard throne.

Hey everyone! The much anticipated release of Sword & Shield is just around the corner, and myself and many other players couldn’t be more excited. Not all base sets are all that impactful, but I can certainly say that this one will be. On top of all the wild cards like Zacian V, Quick Ball, and Professor’s Research, we have the small but impactful rule change. I’m incredibly excited for Oceania Internationals 🇦🇺 and the rest of the tournaments to come once the set is legal (on February 21).

I haven’t had the opportunity to chime in on a set overview yet, so I’ll be doing that at the start of this article. Afterward, I’ll focus on ADP/Zacian V, the undisputed BDIF of the Standard format. Lastly, I’ll be dropping a couple of conceptual lists at the end. Let’s get into it!

Sword & Shield Set Rundown

Bulbapedia

I’m going to run down the set list and give some brief thoughts on the strongest cards. This section is not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather an inspiration for your own deck-building adventures.

Pokémon

Rillaboom SSH 14

I think Rillaboom is severely underrated amongst most players. On top of having the traditional Rare Candy method of getting put into play, Rillaboom can also take advantage of Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX. While it doesn’t have a plethora of strong attackers, Rillaboom can make use of Venusaur & Snivy-GX, Dhelmise V, Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor-GX, Celebi & Venusaur-GX, and Pheromosa & Buzzwole-GX. Each of these brings a different strength to the table.

Torkoal V

ebay.comBoth of Torkoal V’s attacks are cool. The first is a hit-or-miss 90+90; the second discards 2 Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokémon. That’s absolutely crazy. I see this card being paired with Magcargo CES/Magcargo-GX, or as a 1-of in a Fire Box deck. Having a bulky attacker that can’t be pulled with Great Catcher is useful, and Torkoal doesn’t slack in terms of power.

Frosmoth SSH

I’m a huge fan of this card, but am not sure if it can draw enough Energy to work. Palkia-GX, Keldeo V, and Lapras VMAX are the best attackers. ArchieStoise functions well in Expanded because you use Battle Compressor to discard Energies and then Superior Energy Retrieval to draw them once again. Without that combo in Standard, I’m unsure if it’s possible to gain enough traction fast enough to battle against other decks.

Inteleon SSH 58

I think this card is insane, but needs to find a partner. 120 + 20 isn’t enough to get by this format, so I imagine a V or VMAX partner will be best as a tanky attacker. Another option is Galarian Obstagoon SSH, as Inteleon provides consistency in searching out your Stage 2s and is a single-Prize Pokémon.

Tapu Koko V

A great attacker for Lightning decks that isn’t punished by Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX. 200 + 30 = 230—an important number.

Morpeko V

A good attacker that can make its own deck with Lillie’s Poké Doll. I think this is more hyped than good, though, and I don’t think this deck is all that powerful.

Indeedee V

This card has niche value in healing things out of 2HKO range or out of Mimikyu CEC 97’s Shadow Box. Its attack isn’t terrible either. I expect most Mewtwo & Mew-GX lists to run a copy of this, as people will likely invest in Mimikyu as a counter to it instead of Power Plant due to a heavier Pokémon V meta.

Galarian Zigzagoon SSH

Galarian Zigzagoon is strong in decks that need a little extra boost besides Vitality Band. With Zacian V and extra damage from Altered Creation-GX, Zacian V can hit 270 damage—enough to KO Mewtwo & Mew-GX.

Galarian Obstagoon SSH

pokeguardian.comThough it has a Flash Bite-like Ability, Galarian Obstagoon has a greater strength: Obstruct. Obstruct prevents damage done by Basics to Galarian Obstagoon next turn. This can corner a majority of the meta, should it be set up fast enough.

Sableye V

Card recovery is good, but this is no Oranguru UPR. Its second attack is mediocre as well, requiring multiple pings before it actually reaches meaningful damage. Dark acceleration doesn’t exist either, so this card deserves no praise as an attacker.

Galarian Perrserker SSH

pokemon.comThis card is pretty strong and I’d play it in Zacian V/Lucario & Melmetal-GX decks. The idea is that your Zacian V have effective 290 HP with Metal Frying Pan and Full Metal Wall-GX. This is out of range for ADP/Zacian V.

Zacian V

Broken card. You already know the mainstream concepts that it’s good in, so there’s no need for me to elaborate there. I personally want to explore decks that could utilize it similarly to Tropical Beach (purely as draw support). You’ll see a neat instance of this later in my Hammertime list.

Cinccino SSH

pokemon.comThis is incredibly strong draw support that needs a home. This card is no Zoroark-GX, though, as it doesn’t have a standalone attack. I imagine playing this card as a Pidgeotto replacement, with Make Do as draw support rather than Air Mail. Drawing two would help churn through the deck quicker, but would have the drawback of discarding cards. You’d still utilize Oranguru UPR to recycle resources.

Takuya Yoneda played a Cinccino/Lillie’s Poké Doll/Lightning deck at a recent Japanese tournament. The goal of that deck was to stall with Lillie’s Poké Doll while drawing resources to take Prize-efficient knockouts with Tapu Koko V or Morpeko V.

Oranguru SSH

This card is really good. That’s all I have to say.

Cramorant V

ebay.comAn all-around solid card, I expect Cramorant V to make its way into some decks that accelerate Energy. Its first attack is good as a set-up tool, and its second attack perfectly KOs Dedenne-GX. Malamar, Frosmoth, and Fire Box can all make use of a utility snipe effect like Cramorant V, should Mew UNB remain unpopular moving forward.

Trainers, Energy

I could write a short description for everything, but that would be a waste, so here’s a bulleted list of every new, playable card. Bolded cards are ones that I think are especially strong.

The New BDIF: ADP/Zacian V

limitlesstcg.com

ADP and Zacian V go together like peanut butter and chocolate. I’m thankful for Zacian V, as it allows the deck to take a more aggressive approach rather than a defensive one by replacing Keldeo-GX. With Zacian V and Metal Saucer, you can reliably continue attacking even if your ADP goes down immediately.

There are lots of lists out there, but I think the best way to play the deck is with max counts of important cards and filling the remaining slots with niche techs that carry certain matchups. Quick Ball is incredibly useful for finding these Pokémon, meaning it’s easier to put these Pokémon into play in a timely fashion.

The List

Pokémon (12)

3 Zacian V

2 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX

2 Jirachi TEU

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Absol TEU

1 Phione CEC

1 Oranguru SSH

1 Tapu Fini UNM

Trainer (35)

4 Marnie

4 Professor’s Research

1 Guzma & Hala

1 Mallow & Lana

 

4 Custom Catcher

4 Metal Saucer

4 Quick Ball

4 Switch

2 Tag Call

1 Energy Spinner

1 Great Catcher

1 Escape Board

1 Vitality Band

 

2 Lysandre Labs

1 Shrine of Punishment

Energy (13)

10 M

2 Aurora

1 W

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 12

* 3 Zacian V SSH 138
* 2 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX CEC 156
* 2 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Absol TEU 88
* 1 Phione CEC 57
* 1 Oranguru SSH 148
* 1 Tapu Fini UNM 53

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 4 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 4 Marnie SSH 169
* 1 Guzma & Hala CEC 193
* 1 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 4 Custom Catcher LOT 171
* 4 Metal Saucer SSH 170
* 4 Switch SSH 183
* 2 Tag Call CEC 206
* 1 Energy Spinner UNB 170
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 1 Escape Board UPR 122
* 1 Vitality Band SSH 185
* 2 Lysandre Labs FLI 111
* 1 Shrine of Punishment CES 143

##Energy - 13

* 10 Metal Energy Energy 8
* 2 Aurora Energy SSH 186
* 1 W Energy Energy 3

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=79284 ******

Here’s the list I’m gonna start out with in my testing. As it looks, it’s a pretty cookie-cutter list. I’ve seriously thought of toying with many different ideas (which I’ll get to later in the article) but here’s where I’m currently at regarding the base list.

There are multiple ways to build this deck, and I chose to build it the fastest way possible. The list contains the right amount of techs for specific matchups while maintaining max copies of key cards. The ADP/Zacian V core remains the same and is integral to the deck’s success. Without a consistent setup or fast attacking, the deck loses its advantage gained by having a better attacker than Keldeo-GX.

Key Cards

2 Jirachi TEU

I originally was still gonna play 4, and then I cut it down to 3, and then I cut it down to 2. I immediately knew I was gonna play 1 Escape Board because Absol TEU will be popular, so cutting down on Jirachi made sense. With further thinking, Jirachi functions as a pivot and less as a sacrifice now that we’ve lost the Rosa engine. If I wanted to add a sacrificial Pokémon, I’d add Lillie’s Poké Doll.

1 Phione CEC

I expect decks that incorporate Lillie’s Poké Doll to be fairly popular going forward. Morpeko V/Dolls exists, as well as Doll Stall and other decks like Baby Blacephalon/Pidgey that incorporate Lillie’s Poké Doll as a stalling mechanic. It’s really important to keep Custom Catcher for KOing important targets, so I think Phione is warranted. Quick Ball makes it a no-brainer.

1 Tapu Fini UNM

I expect Baby Blacephalon to be incredibly popular because of the release of Lucky Egg and Stéphane Ivanoff’s win at Bochum Regionals 🇩🇪. Both versions are at a disadvantage with the new first turn rules, but I expect the Green’s Exploration version to remain strong anyway because it’s so strong.

4 Professor’s Research, 4 Marnie

Maximum consistency! I really like Marnie because it’s basically Cynthia with added disruption. A Japanese list ran a 2-2 split of Professor’s Research and Cynthia, which I will test later. Cynthia may be worthwhile against Stall concepts, as it lets you extend the game a couple turns and/or conserve resources while digging.

1 Guzma & Hala, 1 Mallow & Lana

I choose to play only the best TAG TEAM Supporters. Now that we have good Supporters like Marnie and Professor’s Research, Cynthia & Caitlin can hit the sidelines. This list also has a greater focus on aggressively taking Prizes rather than trying to heal with Mallow & Lana, so that’s another consideration.

1 Energy Spinner

This is another inspiration from the Japanese list. I like the thought of having more thoughts to Energy cards, and especially those for both types of Energy. Stellar Wish can get an Energy with Energy Spinner, so you’re diversifying your options and increasing your odds of an Energy attachment. Missing an Energy attachment is the biggest way for this deck to lose, so adding another out is entirely worth it.

1 Great Catcher

Though some decks are switching to the Pokémon V train, many decks will still make use of Pokémon-GX. Mewtwo & Mew-GX, Dedenne-GX, and Pikachu & Zekrom-GX are three great examples. Phione, Custom Catchers, and Great Catchers sum up to be a whole lot of gust effects, but it’s worth it given our deck’s aim of taking 6 Prizes as soon as possible.

2 Lysandre Labs, 1 Shrine of Punishment

This Stadium count originates from the trends in Japan after the release of the new set.

If you’re building a Lucario & Melmetal-GX variant of Zacian V, then I’d consider playing Chaotic Swell in order to block Lysandre Labs, keeping your Metal Frying Pans online. That variant wins by surviving the 1HKO, so doing all that you can to do that is totally worth it. I’d likely employ a 2 Chaotic Swell, 1 Lysandre Labs split in that version, as the damage tick from Shrine of Punishment is irrelevant.

13 Energy

12–13 Energy is the optimal count, as Energy is what makes this deck function. A slower version that emphasizes healing and Lillie’s Poké Doll can maybe get away with 11, but that’s way too low for me to be comfortable.

General Strategy

Because the format is relatively undeveloped (actually, entirely undeveloped) I’ll cover general strategy. There are certain things you always do in every game such as attaching to an ADP-GX, and then attaching again and announcing Altered Creation-GX. These guidelines are basically the ADP bible, and following them would be wise.

Choose to go first. Your #1 goal is to end your first turn with an ADP-GX and an Energy on it. If you have the Aurora Energy or W Energy, you should always attach that first because it’s much easier to draw into the Metal Energy off of an opposing Marnie.

Your next biggest priority is finding a Zacian V for Intrepid Sword. The other utility Pokémon you want to grab immediately are Absol and Oranguru. I would grab Absol first if you’re against a Jirachi deck, and Oranguru against all else.

If you have the additional Metal in hand, I would grab Oranguru first so that you can place it on top to draw with Intrepid Sword.

Honestly, I think it’s best to immediately go for the T2 Altered Creation-GX no matter what. Now that we don’t have the defensive strategy of Keldeo-GX, we need to start doing things ASAP. If the ADP-GX lives, we’ve basically won the game because we can attach, use Ultimate Ray, and power up two more attackers.


Most of the stuff you’ll learn for the deck you’ll get from playing with it. The most important thing to learn is what your opponent can do to block your strategy. I compare this deck to AbilityZard in that it’s your opponent’s job to stop you from running them over with pure aggression. By playing games against each deck, you’ll understand their counter strategy and can better defend against it. The sheer amount of gust effects gives you plenty of opportunities to dismantle their board and extinguish their threat.

Concept Lists

I felt like making lists for some 1-off concepts, so I’ll drop them here. I’m unsure if these are viable in any way, but either way, the deck-builder in me wasn’t satiated.

Hammertime

Pokémon (16)

4 Minccino SSH 145

4 Cinccino SSH

3 Oranguru UPR

2 Zacian V

1 Lucario & Melmetal-GX

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Ditto p

Trainer (38)

4 Professor’s Research

1 Bellelba & Brycen-Man

1 Jessie & James

1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy

1 Mars

1 Tate & Liza

1 Team Yell Grunt

1 Will

 

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Lillie’s Poké Doll

4 Quick Ball

3 Custom Catcher

3 Great Ball

2 Metal Saucer

2 Reset Stamp

1 Ordinary Rod

1 Pal Pad

1 Metal Frying Pan

1 U-Turn Board

 

1 Chaotic Swell

Energy (6)

6 M

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 16

* 4 Minccino SSH 145
* 4 Cinccino SSH 146
* 3 Oranguru UPR 114
* 2 Zacian V SSH 138
* 1 Lucario & Melmetal-GX UNB 120
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154

##Trainer Cards - 38

* 4 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy HIF 60
* 1 Bellelba & Brycen-Man CEC 186
* 1 Team Yell Grunt SSH 184
* 1 Will CEC 208
* 1 Tate & Liza CES 148
* 1 Jessie & James HIF 58
* 1 Mars UPR 128
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 3 Great Ball SLG 60
* 4 Crushing Hammer SUM 115
* 4 Lillie’s Poké Doll CEC 197
* 3 Custom Catcher LOT 171
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 2 Metal Saucer SSH 170
* 1 Pal Pad SSH 172
* 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
* 1 U-Turn Board UNM 211
* 1 Metal Frying Pan FLI 112
* 1 Chaotic Swell CEC 187

##Energy - 6

* 6 Metal Energy Energy 8

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=79284 ******

I don’t really know what this list is trying to accomplish yet, but it seems interesting. The concept tries to replicate Dustin Zimmerman’s 2013 Worlds Semifinalist deck, “Hovertoxin,” in being a semi-stall deck via Crushing Hammers but also an attacking deck with the BCIF: Darkrai-EX DEX (now Zacian V). Cinccino is needed because Resource Management isn’t as good as Junk Hunt.

Fire Box

Pokémon (15)

4 Slugma CEC

3 Magcargo-GX

2 Magcargo CES

1 Volcanion UNB

1 Heatran-GX

1 Torkoal V

1 Oranguru SSH

1 Victini p

1 Dedenne-GX

Trainer (21)

4 Welder

3 Professor’s Research

1 Marnie

 

4 Quick Ball

3 Switch

2 Pokémon Communication

1 Great Catcher

 

3 Giant Hearth

Energy (14)

14 R

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 15

* 4 Slugma CEC 26
* 3 Magcargo-GX LOT 44
* 2 Magcargo CES 24
* 1 Volcanion UNB 25
* 1 Heatran-GX UNM 25
* 1 Torkoal V SSH 24
* 1 Oranguru SSH 148
* 1 Victini p LOT 154
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57

##Trainer Cards - 21

* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 3 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 1 Marnie SSH 169
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
* 3 Switch SSH 183
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 3 Giant Hearth UNM 197

##Energy - 14

* 14 R Energy Energy 2

Total Cards - 50

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=79284 ******

This list is entirely rough and probably pretty bad. I wanted to explore a Magcargo-GX concept and this is what I came up with. It’s a rendition of AbilityZard, yet much weirder. There’s definitely a better list out there—you can find with better testing—and I encourage you to do so. You can probably find Japanese lists as well, as I know this is a known archetype across the Pacific.

Conclusion

That’s all I have for you in this article! Sword & Shield is shaping up to be one of the best sets in recent history. I’m sad I can’t attend Oceania Internationals because of my schedule, but I’m excited to watch from the sidelines and cheer on some friends. I’ll be in Collinsville 🇺🇸 the following week, though, for some Expanded. In my next article, I’ll mostly cover Expanded for Collinsville and maybe a final thought or two on Standard. Until next time!

Xander


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