Sword & Shield—Battle Styles is a weird set.
Normally it's trivial to figure out whether a given card is meant for collectors or competitors. Collectors like Gen I Pokémon that are printed at Secret Rare. Competitors like cards that have won tournaments. A typical set like Vivid Voltage will appeal to both groups by including some cards that are nostalgic but can't compete (Pikachu VMAX (swsh4-44)) and others that aren't nostalgic but can compete (Coalossal VMAX (swsh4-99)).
In Battle Styles we've got plenty of competitive cards, but hardly any with instant appeal for millennials. The Pokémon Company sure hopes you like Urshifu, because they printed 12 (!) different versions of the buff bear in this set. Meanwhile, the only Secret Rare Pokémon from a generation younger than Gen V is... Octillery (swsh5-178).
The result? All of our top sellers are competitive cards with dubious collectibility (at least as far as their most-sold versions go). Let's take a look at what folks are planning to play.
The energy acceleration from Welder (sm10-189) made Fire-type decks a serious force in Standard even before Victini came along. Now with Victini's Spreading Flames attack, you can get even more energy onto your Pokémon and recover faster from a Knock Out.
Whatever the top Fire-type deck is going forward, it's probably going to run some number of Victini VMAX so it never runs out of gas.
In a trading card game, there are few things more powerful than throwing variance out the window and drawing exactly the cards you want, when you want them. Octillery provides that… kinda. You can only search up other cards with Rapid Strike, so your options are limited by what's available in the archetype.
Right now, the best thing to do in either Rapid Strike or Single Strike is just evolve to the appropriate Urshifu VMAX and start attacking. Octillery makes that play pattern more consistent, which is pretty good...
...but not as good as making that play pattern more powerful. Houndoom accelerates Single Strike decks on energy, getting them to their big attacks faster and negating the core advantage that Rapid Strike Energy (swsh5-140) has over Single Strike Energy (swsh5-141).
As we're about to see, Single Strike cards narrowly beat out their Rapid Strike counterparts across the board this past week. Some of the credit for their success goes to Houndoom for giving the hard-hitting archetype a bit more speed.
Metal energy manipulation? That's an odd thing to see in the Battle Styles Top 10. Neither Rapid Strike nor Single Strike decks use Metal energy.
Hm. Maybe if we keep going we'll find the Metal-type card that Bronzong is here to support.
The star of the Rapid Strike deck! Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX can launch a devastating 120 damage attack against any of your opponent's Pokémon, regardless of where they are. That makes competitive staples like Crobat V (swsh3-104) and Dedenne-GX (sm10-57), that normally sit on the bench all game, a huge liability.
The deck has one big weakness, though: a certain psychic cat. Mew (smp-SM215) protects benched Pokémon from Urshifu's primary attack and severely restricts Rapid Strike's potential. That Achilles' heel gives a slight competitive advantage to...
Single Strike. The other Urshifu spends all its energy to deal a tremendous 270 damage to one Pokémon. Against a worthy 3-prize opponent like Reshiram & Charizard-GX (smp-SM201), that's a reasonable price to pay.
Here's our mystery Metal-type! Corviknight didn't prove itself at tournaments this past weekend, but it looks so close to being good. Lustrous Body is a great defensive ability, and G-Max Hurricane does serious damage. Best of all, with two Corviknight VMAX in play, the Hurricane's drawback doesn't matter. They can both retreat for free and alternate their attacks.
If you've got Bronzong (swsh5-102) in play, you only need three Metal Energy between them to keep the Hurricanes a-blowing. I'm a little surprised Corviknight VMAX outsold both Urshifu, given that this set is all about the bear, but I'm not surprised that Corviknight has fans.
Now, before I show you our top three cards, let's play a little game. I just told you that #6, #5, and #4 were product-hover id="234268", product-hover id="234263", and product-hover id="234179". With just that information, can you guess what our top three best-selling cards from Battle Styles are, and what order they're in?
Take your time.
Ready? Let's look:
Makes sense! You can't play a VMAX without its corresponding V.
How'd you do? Drop by our Facebook page if you feel like bragging about your powers of deduction.