THERE’S NO GETTING OVER STONJOURNER VMAX’S WALL (FOR NOW)
– BY ELIJAH DOURESSEAU
Trainer EJ here, and I got another goodie rogue deck for ya: Stonjourner VMAX. This is another card that likelyis sitting in your binder, if you haven't already sold it off for store credit, that is the key to revitalizing your local league nights. At 330HP, this Gigantamax pocket monster is of the bulky variety.
Plentyof content creators have made tanking lists out of it, with the help of healingPokemon.But everything – including Stonjourner – was always a liability as you clunkily healed and eventually charged up its main attack.
But the newest lists (which check all the budget-friendly boxes) is looking to do its best Gandalf impression, as it just contains the Stonjournercards and the most effective heal item cards standard has to offer.
The operations of the deck are simple: set up a single Stonjourner, your active, and bulk it up by healing away most of the damage the opposing Pokemon dealt last turn, as you charge up the VMAX’s Max Rockfall attack. At 200 damage, you’ll be two-shotting anything in the Astral Radiance format – even Pokemonthat are resistant to fighting types.
This deck is two parts healing, and one part, control. The beauty of the deck is that you’re supposed to only be playing with your active. Generally, if you need to bench another Stonjourner early on, you’re not healing the way your supposed to, or your active is about to be knocked out. That’s usually when the deck is on the backfoot. Though when the deck is doing its thing, the solo Stonjourner that is active really shuts down a lot of your opponent’s tactics,because most top tier decks rely on gust effects to take out techPokemon and reserve attackers on the bench.
The following key cards make up your healing arsenal: Hyper Potion, Team Yell Towel, Lucky Ice Pop, and Sweet Honey.
In a typical game, you start with your lone Stonjourner V. The deck is designed for you to do a combination, every turn, of maximizing your resistance and healing as much as you can. So there’s plenty of draw support to help you set up. You’re happy to go either first or second (though going second works a little better), but you want to attach an energy, do a little control work with one of four of your Crushing Hammers, drawinto a Boost Shake item, and use it to bring the VMAX in to play – which would end your first turn.
By your second turn, your opponent has probably inflicted some damage. If you don’t have one or a few heal cards in your hand, you hopefully have the Kabu supporter at the ready, which is another card that was easy to forget about, from Darkness Ablaze. It allows you to shuffle your hand into your deck and draw a very consistent eight cards, which should give you some good healing and control help.
What makes the healing so effective in this deck is that most of the cards are items, which means you can play as many as you want in a turn. Item recovery is not really a viable effect in the game at the moment, so heal as productively as you can.But each card has a particular benefit,as they’reable to stack. I’ve healed two hundred damage before, in one turn – which stops a lot of opposing deck might cold, since you’ve essentially put your opponent a turn behind.
My favorite heal card in the deck is probably Lucky Ice Pop, just because its healing potential is virtually limitless. You get to auto-heal 20 damage upon playing it. Then you flip to keep it in your hand. So it’s the only heal card in the deck you can mostly recover, if you don’t flip tails.
Sweet Honey is a one-of, because you can heal 40 damage from any of your Pokemon, not just the active that Ice Pop commands you to mend. It’s also semi limitless, since you keep flipping a coin to heal 40 until you get tails, or until the chosen Pokemon is fully healed.
Team Yell Towel is just great at compounding your total heal base for a turn, at the hefty increase of 50 damage. You don’t really care that it heals your opponent’s active also – in most cases – since, barring resistance, Rockfall’s 200 output will still tip over the knockout.
Hyper Potion is the additional spirit breaker card, next to Ice Pop. It’s also the reason you want to keep adding energy to Stonjourner VMAX every turn, so you can discard the two energies that Hyper Potion requires to use, and keep attacking. 6 attached energies is usually the magic number, to use at least one Hyper Potion per turn and still have enough energy leftover to attack. And to set up a Potion for next turn.
Other important mentions: Stone Energy and the Full Face Guard tool adds to your damage resistance. Say your active Stonejourner has three Stone Fighting Energy attached and a Face Guard equipped…that translates to 80 damage resistance, which effectively gives your Stonejourner 80 extra HP! You’re likely a hard wall to climb at that point.
Since your deck’s star doesn’t have an ability, this is a Path Deck and that adds to your control deck component.
My spiciest addition is GalarianZapdos V. If the deck is working like it should, chances are that by the time your solitary Stonjourner VMAX is about to get knocked out, it’s probably a close game. Ha, and it always will be with just an active Pokemon and no bench.Zapdos can swoop in, take advantage of all the V’s on your opponent’s side, and tip over a knockout with its Fighting Instinct ability. It can still keep the attacking pressure constant, all for one energy. The deck is also kind of a quad stadium list for this reason. You can bump the Path stadium and Thunderous Kick with the ability benefit. Not to mention – the effect of Zapdos’ attack is neat for the overall control facet of the build.
“But EJ…it’s June. The Stonjourners were SSH base set cards. Deck is cool and all, but your walking stonehenges are about to rotate.”
All good. It has an Astral Radiance successor: Heatran VMAX.
Heatran does the same amount of damage, with the burn effect, and has a built-in healing ability:Magma Gain. If you have a stadium in play – barring Path to the Peak – that turns off rule box Pokemons’ abilities, you can heal 50 damage before utilizing the help of other cards.
Big Heat Boy is just as bulky as Stonjourner, at 330HP. Full Face Guard won’t be in play, because your Heatran has an ability. But Big Charm is still around, and so is the Heat Fire Energy that gives the equipped firePokemon 20 extra HP. Both the tool and the energy are also about to rotate, but they would still be useful if you wanted to try the fire variant now. Though with all the Origin FormePalkia VSTAR decks that are about to be running around, Heatran may be in deep, deep water.
Stonjourner is a blast to pilot, and it becomes easier to strategize and sequence your playing when you are only worrying about one Pokemon on your board. In the Astral Radiance meta, grass has been given some good support so you may encounter weakness matchups a bit more. The deck was built when Mew VMAX was more popular, and Stonjourner didn’t care a lick, since it wasn’t weak to psychic Pokemon.
Despite the grass typing boost, let Stonjourner stand tall, and may the shenanigans be ever in your favor.