Out of the two new keywords introduced in the eponymous new set, Rapid Strike captured more interest. Mechanically, a card like Octillery that can search for whatever is needed the most (whether that’s a draw Supporter in Korrina’s Focus, Energy denial in Fan of Waves, or Urshifu itself) is sure to capture attention and attacks that can hit the Bench to take multiple KOs in one turn are always popular. Plus, there’s a million ways to play Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, from Jirachi to Cinccino to Dragapult VMAX and more.
But I’m not here to talk about Rapid Strike, I’m here to talk about its less popular cousin, Single Strike Urshifu VMAX. Why? It’s simple: I believe it’s the better of the two, in the current Standard format at least. Rapid Strike Urshifu has some limitations, the main one being how much Mew reduces its damage output. Single Strike Urshifu, on the other hand, isn’t easy to shut down. It does have weaknesses, of course, but not every deck can exploit them the way they can tech Mew for Rapid Strike. On the other hand, Single Strike has significant upsides. The main thing is its ability to reliably OHKO even VMAX Pokemon. Eternatus VMAX may have a fantastic damage output, but it comes short against other Pokemon VMAX unless it’s running the poison package. Single Strike Urshifu, on the other hand, can reach the 310 or even 330 damage needed to OHKO targets such as Centiskorch VMAX, Victini VMAX and both Urshifu VMAX.
In this article, I’ll explain what you need to know about the Single Strike philosophy, its strengths and weaknesses. I’ll also share my own decklist and suggest some other options you can fit in the deck!
When playing Single Strike Urshifu VMAX, what you need to understand is that you’re not here for subtlety. You’re not weaving in and out of the shadows, striking with small attacks, healing and then finishing off with a cool attack taking multiple Prizes on the Bench. Instead, each of your attacks is slow and requires preparation, but your attacks are also devastating.
The main benefit of this style is obvious: you can OHKO anything. Even VMAX Pokemon are not out of your range. Zamazenta V? You don’t care! G-Max One Blow bypasses effects on the opponent, which includes Zamazenta V’s and Decidueye’s Abilities. You also ignore the damage reduction from Lucario & Melmetal-GX’s Full Metal Wall GX and Metal Goggles. Yeah, LMZ doesn’t like playing against this deck – all its defensive efforts are futile and it can’t heal – its Pokemon will be OHKOed.
While being able to one-shot anything with your four-Energy attack is fantastic, this is obviously far more relevant against big decks than small ones. A 270-plus-damage attack is meaningless if your opponent only has 60 HP! In other words, one-Prize decks like Mad Party are effective against Single Strike Urshifu. That said, these decks are few and far between; most of the decks you’ll face in any tournament use three-Prize attackers.
Single Strike’s other weakness is its rigidity. Unlike Rapid Strike, you don’t have as much freedom in the way you build your deck; you need Houndoom, otherwise you’re never using these three- or four-Energy attacks (especially since Fan of Waves is starting to pick up some popularity in various decks). You also need Urn of Vitality to recover the Energy discarded by G-Max One Blow. In the end, that anchors you to one play pattern, where you keep cycling Single Strike Energy between the discard, deck and board.
But, again, this is worth it because that single play pattern is extremely effective! Not only is Urshifu VMAX great to take Prizes, but Urshifu V is a solid attacker itself. In fact, it’s not unusual to take multiple KOs with Impact Blow. With two Single Strike Energy, it deals 220 damage, enough to OHKO almost any Pokemon V. And it gets to keep its Energy, so if the opponent ignores it and tries to remove, say, Houndoom instead, then you can keep attacking with Urshifu V, or evolve it into the VMAX for a powerful follow-up.
So, to recap: get several Houndoom in play, put Energy on your attackers, deal big damage, usually OHKOs. Get your Energy back, attach Energy again, repeat. Sounds easy enough, right? Now let’s build the perfect list to achieve this goal.