By Ellis Longhurst, Contributing Writer

The recently introduced Pokémon V and Pokémon VMAX have made
an instant impact on the Pokémon TCG, with cards like Zacian V joining Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX to quickly became a popular choice
for competitors around the globe. Now a new expansion has arrived to challenge
the status quo and take down the established archetypes: Sword & Shield—Rebel Clash. This set includes a variety of
exciting new Trainer cards, Energy cards, and Pokémon (including Pokémon V and Pokémon
VMAX) that help players implement radical strategies.

Take a look at some of the cards that could change the game with the launch of Sword & Shield—Rebel Clash.

Dragapult VMAX has
what it takes to lead a revolt against the top existing decks. This Pokémon has
a rebellious attitude and the attributes to back it up. Dragapult VMAX’s Max Phantom
is a powerful, albeit unconventional attack that does 130 damage to the
opponent’s Active Pokémon and distributes 5 damage counters among their Benched
Pokémon. It doesn’t sound like much to begin with, but those damage counters
will quickly start to add up. As a Psychic-type attacker, this Pokémon VMAX can
take advantage of Spell Tag and the
new Horror Psychic Energy to put
even more damage counters on the opponent’s Pokémon. With this in mind, the
longer Dragapult VMAX stays on the battlefield, the better. Fortunately, it has
an enormous 320 HP—more than nearly every other Pokémon in the entire Pokémon

Psychic-type Pokémon are renowned for being sneaky, so it makes
sense that a good number of them place damage counters instead of doing direct
attack damage. For example, Blacephalon spreads
up to 12 damage counters across the opponent’s Pokémon with its Fireworks Bomb
attack, and the new Sigilyph’s Psychic
Assault attack does more damage based on the number of damage counters that are
already on the target. Any of these Psychic-type Pokémon makes a perfect
partner for Dragapult VMAX, especially since they can all be searched for using
Mysterious Treasure.

Players have already achieved promising results at
tournaments in Japan using decks that focus on Dragapult VMAX. This might be
because Max Phantom almost does enough damage to Knock Out a Mewtwo & Mew-GX in one hit. If you’re
worried about facing Dragapult VMAX across the battlefield…you should be!

If you haven’t heard about Eldegoss V, now’s the time—there’s a good chance it will
be a valuable inclusion for many competitive decks. When you play Eldegoss V onto
the Bench, its Happy Match Ability lets you recover a Supporter card from the
discard pile. Playing Supporter cards is often crucial to a deck’s winning
strategy, so being able to access them at the right time is very important. Imagine
how much more powerful Henry Brand’s World Championship-winning Perfection deck
would be if it had additional ways to find the Welder Supporter card! In fact, any deck that uses Quick Ball, Net Ball, or Pokémon Communication is primed to take advantage of Eldegoss V’s Happy Match

Competitors who are well versed in the history of the Pokémon
TCG will notice the similarity between Happy Match and the Item card VS Seeker, from the XY—Phantom Forces
expansion. VS Seeker’s effect was so useful that players routinely included
four copies of the card in their deck. Will we see this again with Eldegoss V, or
will the consensus be that one well-timed Happy Match is enough to secure a
victory? Either way, if you haven’t already cottoned on, Eldegoss V is a
must-have card.

It’s not just about you and your Pokémon; Sword &
Shield—Rebel Clash
includes several cards that enable players to disrupt their
opponent’s strategy. For example, Galarian Weezing’s Neutralizing Gas Ability removes all Abilities from the
opponent’s Pokémon in play. Unlike the Power Plant Stadium card or Wobbuffet’s Shady
Tail Ability, this effect applies to all kinds of Pokémon. In the face of Neutralizing
Gas, popular competitive decks like Malamar and
Cinccino Mill are going to have a
tough time!

It’s important to remember that Galarian Weezing must be in
the Active Spot for Neutralizing Gas to take effect. It might be best to play
this Pokémon alongside other Pokémon with disruptive Abilities, or a hit-and-run
style attacker like Beheeyem. One
thing is certain—if your favorite deck relies on using Pokémon Abilities, it’s time
to start stocking up on cards like Custom Catcher or Boss’s Orders to force
your opponent’s Galarian Weezing out of the Active Spot.

Interestingly, Galarian Weezing is not the only Pokémon in Sword
& Shield—Rebel Clash
with an Ability designed to disrupt the opponent. When
Clefable enters the battlefield, its Prankish
Ability allows players to choose an Energy attached to the opponent’s Active Pokémon
and put it on top of the deck. Removing the opponent’s Energy cards from play
is one way to prevent them from powering up a big attack—and putting it on top
of their deck instead of in their hand essentially blanks their next draw. In
combination with Crushing Hammer and
Team Yell Grunt, Clefable’s Prankish
Ability could keep the opponent from attacking at all! Expect competitors to
experiment with adding cards like Scoop Up Net and Super Scoop Up to their
decks so they can use Clefable’s Prankish Ability multiple times each game.

Take control of the game with Boss’s Orders. This new Supporter card has a simple
but potentially game-changing effect: choose any 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon
and switch it with their Active Pokémon. It seems the Boss is no longer fixated
on just catching Pikachu.

Boss’s Orders complements various strategies, so plan to see
this card featured in a variety of decks. Trap an opponent’s Pokémon in the
Active Spot, stop a Pokémon from being powered up on the Bench, or take a Knock
Out on a crucial support Pokémon. Once the Boss’s Orders are issued, no Benched
Pokémon is safe.

Cards with a similar or identical effect to Boss’s Orders
already feature in successful competitive decks. For example, Custom Catcher
and Pokémon Catcher are routinely
included in deck lists for the Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX with
Zacian V archetype. These Item cards enable players to press a lead or turn the
tide of a battle. The advantage of playing Boss’s Orders is that its effect is
unconditional, and it can be recovered from the discard pile using Eldegoss V’s
Happy Match Ability.

Listen up: from now on, players are going to need to be
careful about which Pokémon they play onto their Bench.

Battlers can save their own Pokémon from Dragapult VMAX and Boss’s
Orders by…swinging a Net? Don’t be fooled by the way it looks! Scoop Up Net is a utility Item like no other. When
using this card, players can recover from Special Conditions, reset attacks,
and deny Prize cards to their opponent. All of a sudden, your opponent needs to
think twice about where they are going to put damage counters with Abilities or

In addition, Scoop Up Net allows players to get more value
out of their Pokémon with Abilities, as they can be picked up and used again. For
example, you could use one Jirachi’s Stellar
Wish multiple times in the same turn to search for key cards, or put loads of
damage counters on the opponent’s Pokémon by reusing Galarian Zigzagoon’s Headbutt Tantrum. Both Pokémon have
featured in successful competitive archetypes, so it would be no surprise if Scoop
Up Net made its way into the decks of top competitors.

Scoop Up Net may also encourage players to explore new strategies
using Pokémon with powerful Abilities that are triggered when the Pokémon comes
into play, which were previously overlooked because they were considered a
hindrance on the battlefield thereafter. For example, you could gain an edge
over the opponent by repeatedly using Darkrai ‘s
Nightmare Star Ability to flood the battlefield with Energy (assuming
you have a way to move that Energy around), Mewtwo’s Mind Report Ability to recover Supporter cards, or Giratina’s Dimension Breach Ability to discard the
opponent’s Special Energy cards from play.

If you’re searching for the hidden gem of this set, look no
further than Galar Mine. When this
new Stadium card is on the battlefield, the Retreat Cost of each player’s Active
Pokémon is 2 more Energy. This effect may not sound very exciting, but it can
be highly disruptive. If a Trainer cannot retreat their Active Pokémon,
they may miss out on an attack that turn.

What’s more, good players commonly rely on Jirachi and Escape Board to search for important
resources, then retreat for free into their preferred attacker—but when Galar
Mine is in play, this strategy is no longer viable. Make sure you include
plenty of Switch cards, Air Balloons, or your own Stadiums in your deck to
ensure your Pokémon are never trapped in the Active Spot in this way.

Milotic V becomes
a fearsome foe when Galar Mine is on the battlefield. This new Pokémon V’s Aqua
Impact attack does 10 damage plus 50 more for each in the Retreat Cost of
the opponent’s Active Pokémon. By taking advantage of Galar Mine and Absol’s Dark Ambition Ability, Milotic V can Knock Out
Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX or Zacian V in one hit! Even Absol
becomes a threatening attacker in the presence of Galar Mine—its Shadow Seeker
attack can now do enough damage to deliver a Knock Out against Dragapult V.

This is just a taste of the potentially game-changing cards
available in the new Sword & Shield—Rebel Clash expansion. With over
190 new cards to collect, including 15 Pokémon V and Pokémon VMAX, there are
plenty of other exciting combinations and radical strategies to explore. Will
you craft the deck that will rock the competitive Pokémon scene?

Look for more Pokémon TCG strategy and analysis at

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