Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

The Rebel Clash Metagame

Zach shares his thoughts on the 18 decks that exist in the Rebel Clash metagame so far.

03/19/2020 by Zach Lesage

Rebel Clash on My Mind

What’s up everyone? It’s your homie, Zach Lesage, and I am here with a busted article that peeks into the future of the Rebel Clash metagame. Rebel Clash? Yeah, you read that correctly, I am writing about Rebel Clash early! Amidst the global pandemic of coronavirus, I am giving up on the Sword and Shield format. If you wanna know about that format, it is mainly comprised of Zacian V (S&S; 138) / Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX (CoE; 156) , Blacephalon (UBO; 32) , and Cinccino (S&S; 147) decks. With Pokémon cancelling all events until early May, our next format will include Rebel Clash. The goal of this article is to jot down my early findings on archetypes and to expand on concepts in future articles. For access to my past article that goes over the buy list, feel free to check that out here. One last thing before we dive in... If I missed an obvious concept or a card doesn’t get released, I am dealing with an incomplete set list. Most of these concepts should be released and I don’t think I missed any large portion of cards getting released. Some decks might never see the light of competitive play, but these are all of my best hunches right now - let’s see what we are working with!

All cards are based on the translations provided by Limitless.

Galarian Cursola / Malamar

Cursola is a throwback to Gengar from Stormfront, a concept that performed well, and I think we might be able to live that glory again. Having a single Prize Card Pokemon that can get a freebie KO on a coin flip has some spooky vibes and Corner isn’t a bad attack either. I have a vision of a play that uses Boss’ Command, Corner, and your opponent can’t respond. What I’m saying is that that Corner should stick at some point. I don’t know if I want to include Spell Tag (LT; 190)  in the deck to prey on low HP Pokémon like Jirachi (TM; 99) , but I’ll make that decision when I build the list. I’m also hesitant on Malamar (FLI; 51)  because Corner isn’t a super expensive attack, but I have learned that “chip” damage over time with single Prize Card decks adds up. For all I know Cursola will end up being played with a Hit and Run Pokemon like Hitmonchan (TM; 74) . When I finally get around to testing this concept, I’ll write a follow up article! 

Fire Toolbox

With my success at the 2020 Oceania Internationals, becoming a finalist, this deck will always remain an option for me. With the deck already having an established base, there are only two cards that I plan on adding into the deck right now. If you are looking to learn about this deck, this video article shows how to play the deck and this article explains anything missing. The two cards I want to add in? Ninetales V and Dubwool V! Ninetales V seems like it could help the deck in various ways because its first attack can copy any attack from the Defending Pokemon! So if you find yourself against an Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX (CoE; 156) , you can use Ultimate Ray or even Altered Creation GX! I wouldn’t be surprised if Ninetales V / Welder (UBO; 189)  eventually sprouted into its own archetype or if it controlled what Pokémon your opponent would even play down. Dubwool V is strong, but it might find its way to being more of a situational tech. Revenge Blast is an interesting attack that can do upwards of 270 damage if your opponent has drawn five Prize Cards. While that sounds rewarding, I seriously doubt many top players will plan their game around drawing five Prize Cards if there is a more efficient route available. Similar to M Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff Tag Team GX (CoE; 165) , Dubwool V might just come out of nowhere and surprise your opponent for that game winning OHKO!

Dragapult VMAX / Malamar 

Trust me, this article isn’t only about Malamar (FLI; 51) decks, but Malamar (FLI; 51)  did seem to get a few new partners in this set. VMAX Pokémon haven’t been very playable so far, but it might change in Rebel Clash. Dragapult V gives you the option to attack for two Energy, something that Malamar craves sometimes, and it has a healthy amount of HP. Dragapult VMAX is a thick beast of a Pokémon with a whopping 320 HP. Max Phantom doesn’t look amazing. At first, but the lack of the damage in the front might be the best part. Malamar (FLI; 51)  has always performed best when you control how the game plays out and the bonus of spreading five damage counters is a huge plus! When you combine that with Spell Tag (LT; 190) , you have a compelling deck. I fully assume that this concept is a modern Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Psychic tech build that squeezes in a 2-2 Dragapult VMAX line, but that is going to require some more testing on my behalf. 

Copperajah VMAX / ZADP

For the short lived time, and only due to coronavirus event cancellations, Zacian V (S&S; 138) Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX (CoE; 156)  dominated everything. I am sure it would continue to dominate everything - this deck was the real deal. While Copperajah VMAX doesn’t fix every single problem we have, such as a wonky mirror match, it does allow us to make a few bold plays. Copperajah VMAX has a large amount of HP, it can’t get gusted forward by Great catcher (CoE; 191) , and it can swing for 240 base damage. After you factor in Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX (CoE; 156) s +30, 270 damage is enough to OHKO some relevant numbers. Adding Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  and Vitality Band (S&S; 185)  are surely ways to get a Knock Out on almost anything that isn’t a VMAX. I am still determining if it is better to run ZADP with or without Copperajah VMAX, but it seems like a viable tech option at the very least. The only other card that I have added into my list is Boss’ Command to help with the gusting problem that the deck has always faced. With Pokemon Catcher (S&S; 175) , Custom Catcher (LT; 171) , and Great catcher (CoE; 191)  being the only “gust” cards in existence prior to Rebel Clash, the deck was never being played at its full potential. Now that we have a spiritual Lysandre (FLF; 90)  reprint, as Boss’ Commands, the deck can laser beam whichever target it wants now!

Toxtricity VMAX / Garbodor

This is one of the few concepts that I have real testing games with and I don’t want to call it early, but I’m unimpressed at the moment. Using Giganto Riot isn’t the most difficult feature in this deck, it is getting off the entire combo. In most cases, you will need to get off the combo by turn two to have a chance against ZADP or other quick decks. That means getting out a Toxtricity V, attaching an Energy, Benching a Trubbish, and getting prepared to find an Energy accelerator ( Thunder Mountain Prism Star (LT; 191) , Tapu Koko Prism Star (TM; 51) , Boltund V). Next turn you need to attach another Energy, find an Energy accelerator for sure, Evolve into Toxtricity VMAX, Evolve into Garbodor, and have a Stadium. If you are playing against ZADP, you will need to find an Electropower (LT; 232)  to OHKO ADP! In writing, this feels like a lot to juggle and in testing, it has felt the same. I’m not sure if my list is streamlined enough, it is currently built off a Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)  base, but I just don’t see it being a tier one deck. Similar to other failed VMAX lists in the past, they require a bit more “oomph” than GX decks, this one isn’t living up to my expectations. I still have some more testing to do on this concept so I’ll keep you all updated!

Cinccino Mill

This is a deck that I have been testing since the beginning of the Sword and Shield metagame and I’m glad that Rebel Clash isn’t the largest of sets. This deck was already well established heading into this set so I guess its easier to share what cards are getting added into this deck. If namely gets two new inclusions, Eldegoss V and Cursed Shovel. Eldegoss V functions similar to a VS Seeker (PHF; 109)  in this deck - you can easily use its Ability and play that Supporter! If Bench space is an issue or if you have an Eldegoss V chilling on the Bench, you can use the second effect of Bellelba & Brycen-Man (CoE; 186)  to discard some Pokémon from play. Cursed Shovel is an amazing inclusion to this deck because you can put it on virtually any Pokémon, including Lillie's Poke Doll (CoE; 197) , and continue to mill your opponent of their resources! It might cause other players to tech the reprinted Tool Scrapper (DR; 116)  in their deck or to run Lysandre Labs (FLI; 111) , but that isn’t an issue in my early testing. Overall, this deck still focuses on milling cards with Bellelba, getting back resources with Oranguru (UPR; 114) , and drawing cards with Cinccino (S&S; 147) . Out of all of the new decks that I have been testing in the Rebel Clash metagame, this deck has been performing the best! It isn’t any surprise because “control” decks typically do best in an early metagame, but I think the additions to this archetype make it better! 


I’ll be honest, I don’t know if this is gonna end up as a full fledged deck or a concept that gets cut early. Hatterene is one of the more interesting cards from Rebel Clash because I can see it as two different entities. The first idea I have is a deck that works around Mind Hat and other disruption cards to endlessly mill your opponent out of resources. It would likely require Zebstrika (LT; 82) , Oranguru (UPR; 114) , Marnie (S&S; 169) , Mars (UPR; 128) , Reset Stamp (UB; 206) , and Chip-Chip Ice Axe (UBO; 165)  to work. When I try to piece that list together in my head, I don’t know if it does anything better than any other Oranguru (UPR; 114)  control decks that we have seen in the past. Obviously I don’t want to give up on it like that, I still need to decide if it is remotely viable by testing some concept. The next idea I have focused on Hatterene’s Droplets of Regret attack. With that attack having an infinite damage cap, I wonder if it can work as a single Prize Card attacking deck?!?! The biggest thing holding it back is that it is only one damage counter per Pokémon which means you would need to have almost 30 Pokémon in your Discard Pile to Knock Out a Tag Team GX Pokémon! I’m thinking of an engine that runs Zebstrika (LT; 82) , Jirachi (TM; 99) , Oranguru (S&S; 148) , Dedenne GX (UBO; 57) , and a bunch of tech cards. The tech cards could range from Naganadel GX (FLI; 56)  with Stinger GX to Nihilego (LT; 106) , but I don’t see this deck actually working. One of the things we need to to understand is that all decks are not created equally! When comparing this to other single Prize Card attacking decks, such as Malamar (FLI; 51)  or Blacephalon (UBO; 32) , you need to have a reason for why this is better. More damage? Ease of play? Less setup? The answer to all of those questions in Hatterene’s case is no which makes it slightly easier on which variant of the deck I am choosing to work on. When I eventually get to Hatterene control, I’ll be sure to keep the site updated!


The tried and true deck from Team Up that has existed for almost a year and half at this point! I don’t want to go into too many details about this deck because it has been covered plenty of times before, here is a video article that showcases a Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)  Deck Profile. The biggest gains for Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)  are the additions of Boltund V and Boss’ Commands. Boltund allows the deck to search out an Energy accelerator whenever necessary and Lightning Storm offers an attack that costs only two Energy. That attack can do a large amount of damage, especially when you use an Electropower (LT; 232) , so keep that in mind. The only other card I have added into this deck is Boss’ Commands to have better control on what I can gust up!

Cinderace VMAX 

I’m not sure how I feel about this deck as I look at it right now! It looks like it might work as a Welder deck that is based on a Fire Toolbox deck without the options. The whole idea is to use Counter to hit for 30 more damage than what your opponent did last turn or to simply attack with Flame Ball Max for 170 + Burn. Maybe the deck can use healing cards to tank out hits, but I would rather look into Stonjourner V Max (S&S; 116)  if I decided I was going that route. On one hand this card is powerful enough to build a deck around, but on the other hand it seems like a weaker version of Fire Toolbox. As I put more testing into this format, I will surely have to make my mind up.

Baby Blacephalon

Similar to other decks that have been successful in the past, I have a strong hunch that Blacephalon (UBO; 32)  will continue to shine. Beyond Ninetales V and Dubwool V, I haven’t found any immediate cards to add into this deck. The biggest kicker is that Zacian V (S&S; 138)  / Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX (CoE; 156)  looks to be a top performing deck in this metagame and Baby Blowns has a favourable matchup against it. As VMAX Pokémon grow in strength, this deck can keep up with them by discarding the appropriate amount of Energy. If you are looking to learn more about this deck, this video article explains how the deck fully works and includes a play-through on PTCGO. You can check that out here. While I am worried about this deck being naturally inconsistent, it is one of the most powerful decks available in our Standard format!

Milotic V / Galar Mine / Absol

When I was first going through the Rebel Clash set list, I immediately discounted Milotic V as a two Prize Card version of Tangrowth (CoE; 6) . I went as far to say that Tangrowth (CoE; 6)  didn’t do well at many events so why would this version be any better? Well, I might have been wrong in that thought and have since changed my mind to be more open. After a discussion with some of the community on the Facebook group Heyfonte 2, this concept might actually work. Milotic V with an Absol (TM; 88)  and Galar Mine in play is hitting a base 160 damage against any Basic. If they happen to have a Retreat Cost of three, like ADP, they are getting hit for 310! You can use Welder (UBO; 189)  to power up Milotic V in as little as one turn so it can definitely keep up. The only negative thing that I have experienced with playing this deck is forgetting about Galar Mine in the deck when I play Jirachi (TM; 99)  / Escape Board (UPR; 122)  (I am going to fix that up with Scoop Up Net) and the [W][R][R] cost of Milotic V’s attack. Energy Spinner (UBO; 170)  kinda solves it, but it isn’t as smooth as playing a Fire Toolbox deck. I have seen a few Japanese lists that opt against the use of Welder (UBO; 189)  and use ADP as a way to add extra damage and energy acceleration. I’m not sure which version is best right now, but I can totally see this deck doing well at Cups to say the least! 

Flapple Spread 

Some of these ideas are a bit out there and I know that. One such example is Flapple spread, a concept that merely exists in my mind right now, but it seems like it could be ok. Flapple with the right engine can loop itself up to five times, four Applin and one Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154) , and then send up a Lillie's Poke Doll (CoE; 197)  to avoid your opponent from drawing any Prize Cards. If it isn’t going to be a Lillie's Poke Doll (CoE; 197)  deck, it would have to be some Pokémon that spreads damage. As I’m writing this, I have a funny feeling that this card might pair up well with Galarian Cursola / Spell Tag (LT; 190)  to help focus damage and get some freebie Knock Outs! Appletun, the card that also Evolves from Applin, has a built in Pokemon Catcher (S&S; 175)  as an Ability which can help you choose which Pokémon is gonna get Knocked Out. I don’t know if adding Hitmonchan (TM; 74)  is a necessary evil or a bad idea at this time, but it could layer an extra 30 damage per turn. Usually hit and run decks this, such as Beheeyem, don’t live up to the hype... maybe this is the deck to change that trend. I don’t have a list remotely built for this yet, but it is going to be a passion project for sure! 

Boltund V / Naganadel

When I originally looked through the set, I wasn’t too impressed with Boltund V for some reason, but now I am beginning to fall in love with this card. Similar to Rayquaza GX (CLS; 109) , Boltund V can swing for massive amounts of damage by counting the amount of Lighting Energy that are in play. Naganadel (LT; 108)  can get back Lighting Energy, Thunder Mountain Prism Star (LT; 191)  reduces the attack cost for Lightning Storm, and Tapu Koko Prism Star (TM; 51)  can accelerate Energy. In most cases you will need nine Energy (30 x 9 = 270 + base 10) to OHKO a Tag Team GX Pokemon, but that doesn’t sound entirely impossible when you factor in Boltund V’s Electrify attack that can attach Energy on the first turn! While most [insert Pokémon here] / Naganadel (LT; 108)  decks have failed in the past, I think this deck might be the first deck in a while to get over that hurdle. Between many avenues of Energy acceleration and a powerful attack, this deck seems to have it going on! 

Malamar / Psychic Techs

Malamar (FLI; 51)  is a deck that hasn’t changed much since it was released in Forbidden Light and maybe that is a good thing overall. Rebel Clash doesn’t change this deck much, you can add Dragapult VMAX into it to make a ‘new’ archetype, or you can add in a tech Sigilyph tot he large array of available tech cards. Counterattack can add crucial damage on the board and that damage stacks nicely with Spell Tag. I’m slightly worried about other players playing Tool Scrapper (DR; 116)  as a way to get around Tags and Cursed Shovel, but I’m sure it will fizzle down in play eventually. Psychic Assault isn’t a bad attack either and it gives this deck the option to attack for two Energy instead of Giratina (LT; 97) ’s usual three. I’m not sure if this deck will add in a couple of Boss’ Commands, but that is another option for the deck. If you have been a  Malamar (FLI; 51)  fan for a while, I’m sure the deck will continue to serve you well with this set release.

Palossand Mill

Similar to Cinccino (S&S; 147)  mill, which you can learn about in this video article here, Palossand is all about discarding cards from your opponents deck. Most mill attacks only discard one or two cards, but Submerged Sand can actually discard three cards (if you have Cursed Shovel attached). I’m sure the base of the deck will mainly represent a Cinccino (S&S; 147)  deck, but the concept seems like it might work. On one hand it feels like I’m trying to reinvent the wheel and on the other hand, it seems like it might provide enough stability to deck out your opponent. The only issue that I have with this concept, beyond dedicating space to 4-4 Palossand / 4 Twin Energy / 4 Cursed Shovel, is that it might not do enough. A Mimikyu (CoE; 96)  discarding a Bellelba & Brycen-Man (CoE; 186)  seemingly does the same job for less space in the deck so maybe this concept won’t even get off the ground. Actually, I just thought of another issue, what happens if you never find a Cursed Shovel or if your opponent uses Scrapper to get rid of it? This deck might have too many holes to be viable, but I’ll still try to get it off the ground!

Rillaboom VMAX / Rillaboom

This isn’t as much of a deck as adding Rillaboom VMAX into a Rillaboom (S&S; 14)  deck, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Rillaboom VMAX adds a monstrous attacker with a lot of HP and an attack that can actually Knock Out any Tag Team GX Pokémon. When I look at decks like this, I’m always worried that they might be too slow compared to ZADP or that they might get punished by Baby Blowns, it’s just a concept I personally cannot be sold on. At least not right away. While the numbers look promising, I know I need to run an Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor GX (UB; 1)  to setup Rillaboom (S&S; 14)  and then find my Rillaboom VMAX to attack. It’s like gigantic Tapu Bulu GX (BW; null)  that has a glaring Fire Weakness. That isn’t necessarily great, but the deck is “playable” to say the least. I’ll experiment with it some more and see if it can get past some of the shortcomings that I have identified. Who knows, I might be completely wrong here, and the deck is just busted!

Mewtwo & Mew / Welder

This is the deck that doesn’t seem to die and it has proven itself again at the recent 2020 Oceania Internationals (I know that more than most lol). While Rebel Clash doesn’t have any interesting GX Pokémon for Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71)  to copy, it does have a few Pokémon that can be splashed in the deck. At OCIC, we saw the winning list add in Victini V (S&S; 25)  to help accelerate Energy and to respond with a relatively low attack cost with Energy Burst. Similar to Fire Toolbox and Baby Blowns, Ninetales V and Dubwool V seem like palatable options for this deck. They can both get powered up with Welder (UBO; 189)  and they both seem to work well in toolbox-style decks. I’m not necessarily positive on what to cut to add those cards right now, but they will be getting splashed into my list the next time I decide to test in this format! Like most decks, Boss’ Commands is still a large consideration because there are still many GX Pokémon to pick off with Great catcher (CoE; 191) . It’s also impossible to use Boss’ Commands and Welder (UBO; 189)  in the same turn without a Lt. Surge's Strategy (HFA; 60)  so that’s a thing to consider. It is going to be interested to see if Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71)  can still hang as Dragapult VMAX looks to be so promising. Only time will tell...

Runerigus Spread

Yahoo! The last deck on this list!... and yes my fingers are cramped up. This is a spooky looking card that has a super attractive attack. Grudge Spread can easily get powered up with a Twin Energy, the only issue is putting damage on that Pokémon. So far I have thought of Spiritomb (UBO; 112) , Rainbow Energy (CLS; 151) , Jynx (UB; 76) , and that’s about as far as I got. I’m sure there have to be some wacky Abilities out there or some cool attacks that can help this Pokémon spread terror on my opponents! I know this card would work well in Expanded with Team Magma's Secret Base (DCR; 32) , but I’m drawing the largest blank for Standard right now. Let me get back to the drawing board and compile a list of possible cards - Stay tuned!

Back to the Lab

Well, thats a wrap for today! While this article didn’t feature any Rebel Clash lists, it worked well as an outlet for me to explore my thoughts as I create decks in real life for this format. I already have a few articles in the creation process and I will be using this pandemic as a way to help our community grow as players. I appreciate all of the support I have received from messages so far and I will use it as motivation going forward! If you are looking for coaching or if you wanna follow me on Social Media, check out these links! 

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