The first time I saw Galarian Rapidash V, I didn’t really give it any attention. Having forgotten all about Galarian Sirfetch’d V, I didn’t expect a promo card to be particularly interesting and the idea of an attack setting the opponent at a fixed amount of HP seemed outdated in this era. And then it started winning.
Suddenly, Rapidash was giving Victini VMAX, one of the strongest cards from Battle Styles, a second wind. Many players combined the two together, but Japanese player Koichi Kimura should be credited for getting several wins and top placements in a few days with the deck, showcasing its power.
So, what happened? What some players had missed (myself included, I’m ashamed), is that Galarian Rapidash V’s Libra Horn can target any opposing Pokemon, including Benched ones. Of course, since the attack places damage counters and doesn’t deal damage, it’s not affected by Mew’s Bench Barrier. Overall, Libra Horn is a great attack to use on turn one, as well as later in the game. There’s more synergy than you’d expect between Victini VMAX, and Galarian Rapidash V and I’ll detail it in the next section.
Suffice to say, as soon as I saw what this new version of the deck was capable of, I rushed to try it out. I hadn’t had such success on the ladder in a long time! I’m convinced that this is the best way of playing Victini VMAX and that it’s a top tier overall deck right now. It has a solid matchup spread, with good matchups against the eternal mainstays of ADPZ and Eternatus and a fantastic win rate against LMZ; it does struggle against other popular decks, mainly Pikarom and Blacephalon, but these are by no means unbeatable.
If you’re qualified for the Regional phase of the Players Cup IV, then Victini / Rapidash is a deck you shouldn’t ignore. It’s one of the decks that I’m considering playing, but even if you don’t plan on touching it, you should be prepared to face it! This deck guide will tell you all about the deck and how and why it works, as well as an explanation of some of the most frequent matchups.
In the introduction, I alluded to the fact that Galarian Rapidash V and Victini VMAX go well together. There are three main reasons why.
First, the most obvious: Victini VMAX’s Max Victory deals a base 100 damage and Rapidash leaves Pokemon with 100 HP. This means that even when playing against TAG TEAM Pokemon, which Victini VMAX deals poorly with, you can 2HKO anything by using Libra Horn followed by Max Victory. Of course, there are other attackers than Victini VMAX that can do just as well: Heatran-GX, for example, can also deal the missing damage, even getting Energy back from Rapidash in the process, so why is Victini VMAX specifically a good partner for Rapidash?
The answer is in the second point: the two go well together against opposing Pokemon VMAX. Say you’re playing against Eternatus. They go first and attach an Energy to a Benched Eternatus V. You use Libra Horn on that Eternatus, putting twelve damage counters to leave it with 100 HP. This means that when it evolves into an Eternatus VMAX, it is left with 220 HP – the exact amount that Max Victory deals. If the opponent uses Dread End on turn two, Victini VMAX will get a KO. If they prefer charging up another Eternatus V, you can Libra Horn that one too!
In other words, Rapidash puts VMAX Pokemon in range for a Max Victory KO, even on turn one. This scenario isn’t specific to Eternatus. Take any playable VMAX Pokemon: Urshifu VMAX (both), Centiskorch VMAX, Dragapult VMAX, Victini VMAX itself – the HP difference between the VMAX and the V is always 120 or fewer, which means that when you leave the V with 100 HP, it will have 220 HP or fewer when evolved.
Finally, the fact that Rapidash can target the Bench makes it a fantastic card in Welder decks, which often need to play Welder, especially in the early game and therefore can’t target the Bench easily. Before Rapidash, the only Pokemon that Welder decks could use for that purpose was Cramorant V, but it could be stopped easily by Mew.
There are two more things that Galarian Rapidash V does that Cramorant can only envy. First, Rapidash only requires two Energy to attack. On turn one, it’s possible to Welder two Energy to a Rapidash and manually attach one to a Victini V. This presents the threat of a turn two Boss’s Orders plus Max Victory KO. What’s more, Rapidash doesn’t have to discard Energy, so if it survives, it can use Libra Horn again on another target (this is useful against TAG TEAM decks such as Pikarom or Mewtwo & Mew-GX). It can also use that Energy to retreat if you don’t have a Switch and finally its Energy can also be recovered by Heatran-GX later to use a powerful Hot Burn GX attack.
For all these reasons, while Rapidash V can find a space in many Welder-based decks such as Blacephalon and arguably in other Energy accelerating decks as well, I think its synergy with Victini VMAX is exceptionally strong.
Here’s the decklist that I’ve been using recently, inspired by both Koichi Kimura and Gustavo Wada: