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Tuning Mew VMAX with Brilliant Stars

Hello everyone! I hope you’re as excited for the release of Brilliant Stars on PTCGO, and its eventual release once IRL play resumes. A new set of cards is always refreshing, even if there’s only a small shift in the meta. Because of the new VSTAR mechanic, I expect those to enter the meta in one way or another (looking at you, Arceus VSTAR). While there are certainly the fair share of mediocre VSTARs, I have no doubt that people will experiment and find a combination that can hold its own.

However, VSTAR decks are not what I’ll be writing about today. In the past couple months, there has only been one deck I’ve enjoyed playing: Mew VMAX. I’m drawn to it for a few reasons. First, it has an incredibly high skill ceiling – it’s very difficult to play perfectly. With so many lines of play, sequencing choices and tradeoffs (such as burning a Switch to draw an extra card), my mind never stops working during a match – and I love that! Second, it’s undeniably the strongest deck on paper. 

If you haven’t read it yet, I highly encourage you to read Isaiah Bradner’s article on Mew VMAX released a week or two ago. It does not contain updates for Brilliant Stars, so our lists differ quite a bit. However, explanations for cards that I still play are relevant. Other tips are also worth remembering. The biggest difference to remember is that you want to save Power Tablets as much as possible, because the updated list aims to OHKO an opposing VMAX with four (four!) damage modifiers. This will likely be a Choice Belt and three Power Tablets but could also be all four Power Tablets if the opponent has Tool Jammer.

Today, I’ll go over two Mew VMAX lists: one bare-bones list and another with devoted tech slots. After this deep dive into deck list creation, I’ll speak about the differences in a pre-BRS and post-BRS Mew VMAX list. Ultra Ball unearths many possibilities, both in deck list creation and in-game decisions. The matchups against the pre-BRS remain similar with the new set. As for the matchups against new decks, such as Arceus VSTAR, we shall see how those play out in the near future! 

 

 

Header - Pure Consistency List

PTCGO Code

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

##Pokémon - 13

* 4 Genesect V FST 185
* 2 Meloetta FST 124
* 4 Mew V FST 113
* 3 Mew VMAX FST 114

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 1 Old Cemetery CRE 147
* 2 Switch HS 102
* 4 Power Tablet FST 236
* 1 Peony CRE 150
* 2 Training Court RCL 169
* 4 Ultra Ball DEX 102
* 1 Rose Tower DAA 169
* 4 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Escape Rope PLS 120
* 2 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
* 4 Fog Crystal CRE 140
* 4 Elesa's Sparkle FST 233

##Energy - 8

* 3 Psychic Energy Energy 5
* 1 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151
* 4 Fusion Strike Energy FST 244

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******
 

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I’d call the above list a “bare bones” list; almost all of the deck list space is allocated towards the “hit hard, hit fast” motif. Before Brilliant Stars, Mew’s greatest weakness outside of Darkness-type Weakness was its clunkiness. Sometimes, you’d draw a hand of seven cards and be unable to gain steady traction with them. Other decks that run traditional draw engines can get moving with a single Professor’s Research, but Mew is different. If you were stuck with multiple Stadiums, VMAX or Supporters, you’d have a difficult time getting off the ground. This all changes with Ultra Ball.

Ultra Ball: The Savior

Ultra Ball (186/172)

Ultra Ball is incredible for both parts of its card text: discarding two cards and searching your deck for any Pokemon. The discard is useful because it provides much-needed hand-thinning. Even though it may suck to discard those cards, if you weren’t able to discard them at all, you couldn’t draw new cards with Fusion System. Moreover, Ultra Ball is much stronger than Cram-o-matic because you can discard any card, not just Items. This greatly reduces the rate of clunking out, because Energies, Stadiums and VMAX get stuck more often than Items (almost all Items are immediately playable anyway). And you can discard two cards, not just one!

The main effect of searching for a Pokemon is exactly what this deck needs. Previously, there wasn’t a reliable way to find Mew VMAX. Great Ball and Rotom Phone were the preferred methods of choice because Evolution Incense is too niche. Often, I found myself using Cram-o-matic for Mew VMAX, too. Now, with Ultra Ball, we can save on deck space by dropping all copies of those and maxing out Ultra Ball. With the added deck space, there is room for additional Supporters or tech cards.

Cram-o-matic: A Relic of the Past

Cram-o-matic (229/264)

Cram-o-matic was a staple in Mew lists throughout the last few months, but why get rid of it now? Well, its main purpose is no longer needed. The main use for Cram-o-matic was to discard Battle VIP Pass after the first turn. Its greatest purpose, deck-thinning, has been upgraded: Ultra Ball. And quite frankly, I don’t think Mew needs more than eight cards to thin; Quick Ball and Ultra Ball should do the trick.

The next question you might ask: isn’t searching for any card in the deck good? Even if it’s a flip? And well, your answer is yes. However, consider which cards you’d want to search for. If you’re like me, you’ll have answered Mew VMAX, Elesa’s Sparkle, Boss’s Orders and a Stadium to replace Path to the Peak. Now look at the list above, and ask yourself this question: even though Cram-o-matic is not in the list, have the odds of finding those cards decreased all that much? My short answer is no.

Cram-o-matic is unreliable. In its place, I’ve added a fourth copy of Boss’s Orders, a fourth copy of Elesa’s Sparkle and coincidentally, Ultra Ball. Three of our four cards are easier to find without Cram-o-matic. The only card that has a semi-significant decrease in finding is a Stadium (though this can be remedied with additional Stadiums or Pumpkaboo EVS). With this change, you don’t need to risk an Item card to find these. Even if there is some game where you’ll have missed it for not having Cram-o-matic, it’ll even out with the games where you’ll have drawn the needed card with the extra copy. 

Four Battle VIP Pass, Four Fog Crystal

Battle VIP Pass (225/264)Fog Crystal (227/198)

I believe that running any fewer than these four copies is incorrect, purely because you’re reducing your chances of drawing a Basic Pokemon on the first turn. Drawing Pokemon is the most important thing for Mew to do; removing those cards are counterintuitive to the strategy. The only argument I could see is that with maximum copies of the four search cards (meaning 16 cards), you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. Moreover, the value gained from the 16th search card is less than the value gained for a tech card. This question could be answered with heavy analysis and some play testing, but for now, let’s stick with the principles.

Old Cemetery

Old Cemetery (147/198)

Isaiah chooses to play Crystal Cave as his fourth Stadium of choice. I prefer Old Cemetery because the additional damage means more than the potential in the specific matchups where it would be relevant (Jolteon VMAX, Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX). With Choice Belt as an additional means of reaching the OHKO on a VMAX, the added damage really adds up and can mean the difference of a win and a loss.

Choice Belt

Choice Belt (135/172)

Choice Belt is the new and improved Vitality Band! Both cards serve a similar purpose: reach a one-hit Knockout when it otherwise would have been a two-hit Knockout. 20 damage difference is enough for Choice Belt to warrant not one but two spots in the list. With Vitality Band and three Power Tablets, the only VMAX you Knockout is Mew VMAX. With Choice Belt, that 310 damage cap reaches 330, which adds many Pokemon VMAX to the OHKO list. 

With two Choice Belt, you can even reach the OHKO twice. If you Melodious Echo with four Fusion Strike Energy, Choice Belt and a Power Tablets, you reach 340 damage and OHKO any Pokemon VMAX. Then, with your remaining Choice Belt and three Power Tablets, you can reach 330 damage with Techno Blast. Quite frankly, I’m not certain if the second choice Belt is worth the spot, but I would always run at least one copy moving forward.

Four Elesa’s Sparkle, Four Boss’s Orders

Elesa's Sparkle (275/264)Boss's Orders (132/172)

Before Brilliant Stars, three copies of each Supporter was the standard count. This is because you typically wouldn’t need more than two of each in any game, and there wasn’t an easy way to discard them once they came into your hand. Once a Supporter hit your hand, you either had to play it or discard it with Quick Ball. Now that we have Ultra Ball, there are four additional cards which can discard unwanted Supporters from the hand. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to max out these Supporter counts so we can draw them more frequently. With maximum copies of Elesa’s Sparkle, you’re more likely to attack with Meloetta going second on turn one. With Boss’s Orders, you’re more likely to target the opponent’s benched Pokemon V with Techno Blast on turn two. 

Peony

Peony (220/198)

Peony is an incredibly strong card for two reasons. First, it can search your deck for any two cards! Most of the time, I find myself using Peony to search for Power Tablets to reach for a OHKO on an opposing VMAX. However, it can also bail you out in a pinch, to find anything else that you might need. The second benefit is discarding the hand, which I consider a benefit. If the hand is unsalvageable and must be discarded, then Peony gives you the opportunity to start over. This occurred more often pre-BRS because the deck didn’t have access to Ultra Ball. With Ultra Ball and Choice Belt, the first reason becomes the dominant one. Previously, you would’ve needed all four Power Tablets to OHKO a VMAX (meaning if one was prized, you’d be short). But with Choice Belt, now you have a bit of leeway in bad prizing. 

8 Energy

Double Turbo Energy (151/172)

My pre-BRS list ran four Fusion Strike Energy and three Psychic Energy, so adding a Double Turbo Energy and keeping the current Energy count felt like a natural change. Eight Energy may be too many, but now I’m content with every other card in the list. For VMAX decks that run Crushing Hammer, you don’t want to attach a Fusion Strike Energy immediately. If it’s discarded, then you won’t be able to reach the magic 280 damage with Melodious Echo. 

The other reason I like three Psychic Energy is because Fog Crystal is almost always an out to an Energy card. With only two copies, when one is prized, it’s likely that at some point you’d run out of them in the deck. This is important because Fog Crystal is an out to an Energy; removing that out is detrimental, especially in the Duraludon matchup. 

I think of Double Turbo Energy as a niche way of keeping up with Energy attachments. Sometimes, you’ll miss an attachment and then be unable to attack without Elesa’s Sparkle. Double Turbo Energy solves this problem for a single turn. If the Mew VMAX survives another turn, you can use Boss’s Orders again! Remember to be mindful of the -20 damage, both in looking for a OHKO against a VMAX or regular V.

Cuttable Cards

Choice Belt (135/172)

Certain cards in the list are core: the Pokemon line, a great majority of the Items, and the 3–3 Elesa’s SparkleBoss’s Orders split. Other cards… are not so core. The 60th and 59th card are an Energy and Choice Belt, respectively. These cards aren’t necessary to the deck’s general plan but add consistency. As for which Energy to cut, that requires more testing against decks with Energy removal. Double Turbo Energy is a nice option to have, but Psychic Energy is searchable with Fog Crystal and gets the job done in 9/10 games. 

The next cards that I’d consider cutting are Boss’s Orders, Elesa’s Sparkle, Peony and Battle VIP Pass. These cards contribute more heavily to the strategy than the Psychic Energy and Choice Belt but have an extra copy to spare. A similar analogy is playing four Path to the Peak in a deck. Though you realistically only use three of them, the fourth is to increase the consistency of drawing into one. 

Possible Techs

Oricorio (042/264)

My thoughts on Oricorio are pretty like Isaiah’s: the card has niche uses but generally isn’t useful enough. Oricorio is invaluable against Hoopa / Galarian Moltres, and is good against Jolteon, but is irrelevant in matchups besides those. I’ve been able to pull off some cool plays with Glistening Droplets, but those are few and far between. 

Pumpkaboo (076/203)

Pumpkaboo’s one use is to discard Path to the Peak. If the meta heavily involves Path to the Peak, it may be worth including a Pumpkaboo, which you can almost always find when you need it (Quick Ball, Ultra Ball and Fog Crystal are outs to Pumpkaboo). In those scenarios, it may even be worth including a Scoop Up Net to reuse Pumpkaboo and clear the Bench space. If I was including both, it would be reasonable to only play three Stadium cards rather than four.

Echoing Horn (225/198)

Echoing Horn is useful in situations where your opponent leaves a single VMAX or no Pokemon V at all, when you have two Prize cards remaining. This happens most often against Jolteon, Suicune, Entei, Duraludon and Zacian / Zamazenta. Echoing Horn puts a wrench in this plan. You can summon an unsuspecting Pokemon V from the discard, then KO it. 

Rotom Phone (064/073)

Rotom Phone was a staple in pre-BRS Mew lists. Its primary purpose is to increase your probability of drawing into the card you want, like Cram-o-matic. Even if your hand was clogged, a single Rotom Phone would let you “dig” five cards into the deck. If you were looking for your last copy of Boss’s Orders with 15 cards in deck and a single card to draw, your 1/15 probability just became 1/3! It also had the upside of being discardable with Cram-o-matic. Its final use case, which I will regret not having the most, is setting the top card of your deck and leaving it there. If the opponent plays Marnie, you’ve guaranteed that you’ll draw that card, which may be a crucial follow up. Against decks with Path to the Peak, you’d ideally be ending your turn by placing a Stadium on top of the deck with Rotom Phone.

The main reason why I’ve omitted Rotom Phone now is a space constraint. Ultra Ball, Choice Belt and additional Supporters take up space that Rotom Phone had. Like Cram-o-matic, the only downside to this change is the capability to find Stadium cards. If you wanted to do a 1:1 functional change, you could cut a Boss’s Orders and Elesa’s Sparkle for two Rotom Phone. However, I’ve really been liking the max Supporter count – especially in Elesa’s Sparkle.

Fan of Waves (226/198)

Isaiah likes Fan of Waves for mirror and other matchups, but I believe that the card has become less useful now. It’s a strong situational card, but in many scenarios will be completely useless and clog the hand. I played many games with Fan of Waves in the list pre-BRS and would’ve preferred another consistency card. 

Tool Jammer (136/163)

I think that Tool Jammer becomes much better after Brilliant Stars because of Choice Belt. In matchups like Suicune, Choice Belt and Ludicolo mean that a OHKO on a Mew VMAX is now possible. Tool Jammer would prevent this entirely. Another matchup where Tool Jammer would shine is the mirror match. If your Mew VMAX has Tool Jammer attached, then the opponent would need all four Power Tablet for a one-hit Knockout. 

Pokemon Catcher (175/202)

Pokemon Catcher has come in and out of Mew lists just as much as Crushing Hammer did in other decks. It turns out when you flip heads, these cards are really good! When tails, well, you know what happens. Pokemon Catcher is especially useful when going second because you can score a Knockout with Meloetta on a desired Pokemon, not just whatever was left Active. If you Knockout a Pokemon V, you’re well on your way to winning in two turns. This idea can be generalized to the rest of the game, too. Elesa’s Sparkle and Boss’s Orders is incredibly strong; Pokemon Catcher lets you do that. 

One distinction to make between Cram-o-matic and Pokemon Catcher is that Cram-o-matic has a cost. Mew no longer needs to flip and discard an item for consistency, but that does not remove the potentially major upside of a heads on Pokemon Catcher. 

 

Header - Tech List

PTCGO Code

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

##Pokémon - 14

* 4 Genesect V FST 185
* 2 Meloetta FST 124
* 4 Mew V FST 113
* 1 Pumpkaboo EVS 76
* 3 Mew VMAX FST 114

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 1 Old Cemetery CRE 147
* 2 Switch HS 102
* 4 Power Tablet FST 236
* 1 Peony CRE 150
* 2 Training Court RCL 169
* 4 Ultra Ball DEX 102
* 1 Rose Tower DAA 169
* 3 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 3 Escape Rope PLS 120
* 1 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
* 4 Fog Crystal CRE 140
* 4 Elesa's Sparkle FST 233
* 1 Tool Jammer BST 136

##Energy - 7

* 2 Psychic Energy Energy 5
* 1 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151
* 4 Fusion Strike Energy FST 244

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******

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The above list incorporates some of the techs I talked about. I added Pumpkaboo to deal with Path to the Peak. I cut a Boss’s Orders for Escape Rope because I want to increase the probability of KO’ing the Pokemon V my opponent wanted to protect on turn one going second with Meloetta. It’s sort of like Pokemon Catcher but doesn’t require the flip. Escape Rope usually gets the job done, but I could see it going either way. Lastly, I cut a Choice Belt for Tool Jammer for versatility. 

 

Header - Conclusion

Mew continues to be the BDIF even after the release of Brilliant Stars. I’m curious to see how strong the deck will be at upcoming Regional Championships, and if anyone has come up with a deck that can handle its own against Mew and the rest of the field. Personally, I plan on playing Mew for Salt Lake City Regionals, and it will take a lot of convincing for me to play something else.

Best of luck in your tournaments and see you all in Salt Lake City!

3 thoughts on “Tuning Mew VMAX with Brilliant Stars”

  1. Just starting out here, brought the basic v required without checking the price of v max. That was a mistake but I’m building my deck around the above so thank you. I am considering trying to pair gengar with mew. Drawbacks 3 less cards drawn per turn. No boss orders but 4 escape rope as piers would be used. instead 13 Pokémon or 14 if triple Molleta. You have 16-17 Pokémon if you go with 3 gengar v instead of 2. Pluses… if opposition has 6 vs it’s a lot of damage without power tablets. Mirror matches should be easy and might make the gengar arceus build deck more of a penalty shoot out. If you could help out with other trainer items I’d appreciate it

  2. I play this exact deck (it cost me few money to have it) in standard tournament and lost first round 5 times in à row dont waste ur time and ur money in it this deck sucks

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