Hello again, everyone! In my last article, I covered Arceus & Diagla & Palkia GX/Zacian V (ADPZ), one of the most powerful decks in the Standard format and considered to be a consensus top tier deck by many players in the community.
Today I present to you another speedy and aggressive deck that I've grown particularly fond of during my playtesting: Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117). It is an extremely fast and consistent deck because its Dread End attack for a Darkness and Colorless energy does 30 damage times the amount of Dark Pokémon you have on your field. Meanwhile, its Eternal Zone ability allows you to have up to 8 Dark Pokémon on your bench (sorry, they can't be Pokemon of other types). This allows Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) to do up to 270 damage on turn 2 alone!
Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) usually wins games by flooding its field with Dark Pokémon through the Eternal Zone ability and using its Dread End attack to outspeed and overwhelm the opponent. A lot of popular decks simply cannot deal with over 200+ damage being dealt to them on the second turn. My favorite version of the deck right now is straight Eternatus with Dangerous Drill (sm9-138) and Power Plant (sm10-183), as seen below!
Pokémon - 20
4 Crobat V (swsh3-104)
4 Eternatus V (swsh3-116)
3 Galarian Zigzagoon (swsh1-117)
1 Hoopa (swsh3-111)
2 Spiritomb (sm10-112)
2 Yveltal (sm9-95)
4 Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117)
Trainer Cards - 31
4 Marnie (swsh1-169)
2 Power Plant (sm10-183)
4 Boss's Orders (Giovanni) (swsh2-154)
2 Dangerous Drill (sm9-138)
4 Quick Ball (swsh1-179)
4 Professor's Research (Professor Magnolia) (swsh1-178)
4 Great Ball (swsh1-164)
3 Pokémon Communication (hgss1-98)
4 Switch (swsh1-183)
Energy - 9
9 Darkness Energy (ex1-93)
Total Cards - 60
Similarly to my advice when talking about ADPZ, the most important turns when playing Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) are the first and second turn. Your primary objective is to use the Dread End attack for as much damage as possible on turn 2.
I personally prefer going second with this deck, for a few different reasons. For starters, the main thing you want to do on your first turn is attach an energy to Eternatus V (swsh3-116) to set up for the turn two Dread End attack. However, since this deck runs a lot of other Pokémon, it can be difficult to find an Eternatus V (swsh3-116) and a Darkness Energy (ex1-93) without the help of a supporter (since you can't play a supporter card on your first turn going first). There have been several instances throughout my testing where I have gone first and my opening hand is primarily filled with supporter cards, which I couldn't play.
To prevent this situation, you should go second to give yourself access to the use of a supporter, which will help you find the Eternatus V (swsh3-116) and a Darkness Energy (ex1-93) a little easier. Utilizing a first-turn supporter—either Marnie (swsh1-169) or Professor's Research (Professor Magnolia) (swsh1-178)—along with Crobat V's Dark Asset to draw more cards will help you find more Pokémon that you can put onto the bench in preparation for Dread End.
Second, some of the more popular decks in the format run Crushing Hammer (bw2-92), such as Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (sm9-33), Lucario & Melmetal-GX (sm10-120)/Zacian V (swsh1-138) (LMZ), and even ADPZ on occasion. If you go first and attach an energy to Eternatus V (swsh3-116) and it gets removed by an opponent's Crushing Hammer (bw2-92), the drawback is so devastating because that prevents you from using the Dread End attack turn two. If you go second, you can use Eternatus V's Power Accelerator to attach a Darkness Energy (ex1-93) to one of your bench Pokémon—preferably another Eternatus V (swsh3-116). This will force your opponent to either hit two heads on Crushing Hammer (bw2-92) or knockout your active Eternatus V (swsh3-116) along with a Crushing Hammer (bw2-92) heads, which is a lot more to ask of them than simply hitting one heads on Crushing Hammer (bw2-92). Going second and using Power Accelerator will help you keep more energy in play and increase your chances of attacking with Dread End on turn two in the face of those Crushing Hammers.
Third, a lot of decks in this format would actually prefer to go second. Decks that play Welder (sm10-189) such as Centiskorch VMAX (swsh3-34), Mewtwo & Mew-GX (sm11-71), and Baby Blacephalon all prefer to go second, and even decks that like to go first such as ADPZ and LMZ have no problem doing so. By going second, you prevent them from using Welder (sm10-189) to accelerate energy or attack you on the first turn, which also stops Volcanion's ability to accelerate energy using its Flare Starter attack. These are the main reasons to go second with Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117), and it's been working out extremely well!
With that being said, going first is not the end of the world. Aside from not being able to use the Power Accelerator attack and playing a supporter, you can still do the same thing going first as opposed to second, which is to use Crobat V's Dark Asset to draw cards and fill your bench up with Dark Pokémon. You want to use Crobat V (swsh3-104) on your first and second turn to fill your bench up, find your Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117), and use the Dread End attack from turn two onwards. While your first Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) is busy attacking (and hopefully knocking everything out), you want to set up a second Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) on the bench and attach energy to it.
This is important for two reasons. The first is fairly obvious, which is to have another Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) to attack with, should the first one go down. The second is due to the specifics of Eternatus VMAX's Eternal Zone ability, which reads "if the ability stops working, discard Pokémon from your bench until you have 5". If you only have one Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) and it is knocked out, the Eternal Zone ability pretty much stops working—it's leaving the field and you would have to discard Pokémon. You usually don't want to discard Pokémon if you don't have to, because the more Dark Pokémon you have in play, the more damage the Dread End attack will do.
That being said, there are situations where you may want to discard some of your Dark Pokémon, such as Crobat Vs or Zigzagoons that have already served their purpose or a heavily damaged Pokémon, to make room for other potential attackers. If that is the case, you can wait to evolve your second Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) and let your first one get knocked out to clear your bench a little. While it is certainly a good idea, this line of play can be severely punished by a Marnie (swsh1-169) or Reset Stamp (sm11-206) that may make it difficult to find your second Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117), so make sure the reward outweighs the risk.
It's important to note that if you don't have to fill your bench up all the way, don't. If you're playing against ADPZ or Mewtwo & Mew-GX (sm11-71), you may need to fill your bench up to take the one-hit knockout—in which case it is certainly encouraged for you to do so! However, if you're preparing to knock something out with less HP and considering whether it is worth to bench extra Pokémon, I would usually say to hold off. You'll want to leave one or two open bench space to use Crobat V's Dark Asset in order to protect yourself from your opponent's Marnie (swsh1-169) or Reset Stamp (sm11-206). Leaving a bench space or two open gives you more options further down the line as the game gets to its closing phase.
When it comes to this deck's best matchups, we're looking at two: Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (sm9-33) and Mewtwo & Mew-GX (sm11-71) variants. It is fairly common for Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) to be able to draw and play down enough Pokémon to do 240 or 270 damage on the second turn. Centiskorch VMAX (swsh3-34) variants are also favorable as well because although you cannot one-shot their Centiskorch VMAX (swsh3-34), you spend less resources doing high amounts of damage than they do. Although they do have the potential to one-shot your Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117), they are usually not able to spend that many resources to do so. Instead, it becomes a two-shot affair in which you have the upper hand, because Dread End requires two energy for a max of 270 while Centiskorch needs more energy to do more damage. Mad Party is usually a good matchup as well (when played correctly) because you can trade one-prize attackers with Mad Party through Yveltal (sm9-95), Spiritomb (sm10-112), and Hoopa (swsh3-111) and use Boss and Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) to knockout their Dedenne or Crobat to finish the game.
Another important factor that gives Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) an inherent advantage against these decks is the inclusion of two Power Plant (sm10-183), which states that "Pokémon GX and EX Pokémon in play have no abilities". Power Plant (sm10-183) is extremely powerful in this deck because you do not have any Pokémon GX and EX and it could slow down your opponent tremendously. Dedenne GX's Dedechange is an extremely powerful ability to help decks set up, and stopping the ability to draw six cards could stunt the potential of your opponent's deck by limiting their draw options. It also shuts down abilities such as Mewtwo & Mew GX's Perfection ability, which means it can no longer copy any attacks until the Power Plant (sm10-183) is replaced.
It's even matchups are Baby Blacephalon and ADPZ. Although 340 HP is a difficult number for Baby Blacephalon to hit, they can soften up your Eternatus V (swsh3-116) with Cramorant V's Spit Shot to do 160 and set it up for a future knockout with Reshiram & Charizard-GX (sm10-20) or Baby Blacephalon. This is their typical game plan, but they do need to draw fairly well to make it close. Spiritombs and Hoopa (swsh3-111) can be used to take easy knockouts on one-prizers such as Jirachi and Baby Blacephalon. Overall, it can be a tight matchup but Marnie (swsh1-169) and Power Plant (sm10-183) make it very difficult for them to have the necessary pieces at times and your primary objective is to Marnie (swsh1-169) them as often as possible while having Plant in play to stop Dedenne GX and Oricorio GX's Dance of Tribute ability. ADPZ is a fairly simpler matchup and is usually decided by turn two. The outcome of the matchup is fairly dependent on your ability to one-shot the ADP on turn 2. If you are able to do that, you are more than likely to win the game but if you don't, it swings tremendously in their favor.
What makes this difficult is the fact that most ADPZ lists nowadays are running Big Charm(swsh1-158), which is a tool card that gives the Pokémon it's attached to 30 extra HP. This puts ADP up to 310 HP, making it rather difficult to one-shot with Dread End. Dangerous Drill (sm9-138) is extremely important in this matchup because it allows you to "discard a Pokémon tool or special energy card from one of your opponent's Pokémon, or discard any Stadium card in play" by discarding a Dark Pokémon from your hand. Your goal is to use Dangerous Drill (sm9-138) to discard the Big Charm(swsh1-158) from the ADP and knock it out with Dread End before it has the chance to use its Ultimate Ray attack. That will make the matchup much easier for you as the Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) player. It is a little difficult to find the Dangerous Drill (sm9-138) since the list only runs two, which is why I consider the matchup to be pretty even. If you want to improve the matchup, a third Dangerous Drill (sm9-138) might help...but I wouldn't stress too much about it. Two is usually enough to get the job done.
There is one popular deck that Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) heavily struggles against, and that is the Lucario & Melmetal-GX (sm10-120) deck. Lucario & Melmetal's Full Metal Wall GX attack limits the damage done to all Metal Pokémon by 30 after it is used, and if it has an extra energy attached (meaning two energy), it also removes all the energy from the active Pokémon. In addition, the Metal Goggles (sm9-148) tool card limits opposing damage by an additional 30 and the opponent's attacks or abilities cannot put any damage counters on it, which renders your Zigzagoons's Headbutt Tantrum ability useless until it is removed.
What makes this matchup extremely difficult isn't the Lucario & Melmetal-GX (sm10-120) itself (although it can be a pain) or the Metal Goggles (sm9-148), but rather the two Zamazenta Vs that are present within the deck. Zamazenta V's Dauntless Shield ability states that it cannot be damaged by Pokémon VMAX, which unfortunately applies to Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117). When a Pokémon can't be damaged by the main attacker of your deck, that is a major problem, to say the least. Your main out in this matchup is to use Dangerous Drill (sm9-138) to remove their Metal Goggles (sm9-148) and use Spiritomb's Building Spite ability to build damage on itself, then use its Anguish Cry attack to do as much damage to Zamazenta V (swsh1-139) as possible.
Unfortunately, it's still very difficult, because they can use Mallow & Lana (sm12-198) to heal 120 damage and your Spiritombs will usually get knocked out as soon as it becomes active. Sableye V (swsh1-120) was deemed to be a good option against this deck, as its Lode Claws attack can do a good amount of damage to Zamazenta V (swsh1-139) . Although Sableye V (swsh1-120) makes the matchup slightly better, it's still not an extremely solid option and therefore not worth running in your deck. This is one of those matchups you have to accept is extremely unfavorable and simply hope you don't run into.
Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) is an extremely powerful and consistent deck that can trounce most of the popular decks in the Standard meta. It is a race-to-the-finish line style of deck and is all about overwhelming your opponent with its Dread End attack, forcing them to respond quickly. If they don't, then you take knockouts and prizes quickly to win the game.
A unique thing about Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) compared to a lot of other decks is it has the ability to utilize cards such as Power Plant (sm10-183) (because it runs no EX or GX Pokémon) and Dangerous Drill (sm9-138) (specific to Dark-type decks) that other decks usually cannot. The Eternal Zone ability allows you to have more Pokémon on the field than your opponent, which is quite unique as well. It is also a rather simple and straightforward deck (compared to other decks) and an average or newer player could certainly do well with it with basic knowledge of the game and proper sequencing. Powerful, consistent, and fun to play is why I recommend people to play Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117)!