It’s an exciting time for the Pokémon TCG as Play! Pokémon events including Regional and International Championships are returning. The new Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars expansion has made quite an impact on the metagame already, putting the powerful Arceus VSTAR in the spotlight. While it has had a great run, including a victory at the Salt Lake City Regional Championships, the runner-up was another consistent deck, Suicune V. We can take what we’ve seen from Suicune V’s success and apply it to another Legendary Pokémon from Johto, Entei V.
Entei V from Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars is very similar to Suicune V, featuring the same Fleet-Footed Ability and the same type of attack in Burning Rondo. In addition, the new expansion brings some excellent support for Fire-type Pokémon with the Magma Basin Stadium card. This happens to have perfect synergy with Moltres, also released in Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars, which does extra damage if it has been damaged. Seeing these cool new options for Fire types, I have remade the Suicune V deck to focus on Entei V and Moltres as the main attackers instead.
Today we’re going to dive into this steaming-hot deck: Entei Rush!
Pokémon in the Entei Rush Deck
These days, most decks focus on powerful Pokémon VMAX and VSTAR or evolved single-Prize Pokémon. This deck focuses on neither of these—Entei V is a Basic Pokémon that does not need to evolve to be able to compete. Not needing to evolve the main attacker of a deck is a huge perk that shouldn’t be underestimated, as it allows for an easy stream of attackers throughout the game. Instead, any Evolution Pokémon in this deck are in supporting roles, with Inteleon providing consistency and Ludicolo contributing to damage output.
The current format is very fast-paced, often making Stage 2 Pokémon difficult to use successfully at the highest level. Regardless, this deck runs not one but two different Stage 2 Pokémon lines, and to great success. The reason why these Pokémon lines work so well is because of their incredible Abilities: The Shady Dealings Inteleon line gives the player access to any Trainer card, which in turn gives the player access to essentially any card in the deck, since Trainer cards can be used to search for Energy or Pokémon. Committing space in the deck list to a Stage 2 line seems like a pretty good tradeoff if it means accessing the entire deck at will. Another benefit to the Inteleon line is that it gives the deck another excellent lead-off Pokémon in Sobble from Sword &Shield—Chilling Reign. Its Keep Calling attack will easily search out all the remaining Sobble from the deck and put them onto your Bench, ready to evolve on the following turn.
Less frequently seen, but also an incredible card, is Ludicolo from Sword & Shield—Evolving Skies. When it comes into play, the player can use its Enthusiastic Dance Ability, causing Basic Pokémon to do an extra 100 damage to the opponent’s Active Pokémon that turn. That’s a lot of extra damage from a single Ability! And, like Sobble, Lotad from Sword & Shield—Evolving Skies gives the deck another great place to start, as Call for Family can help fill up the Bench.
And now we can look at the star of the deck. Entei V’s Burning Rondo attack is arguably one of the most cost-efficient attacks in the game. Like Suicune V, it does 20 damage plus 20 more damage for every Pokémon on each player’s Bench. Having a full Bench of your own will already do an impressive 120 damage, and you can usually rely on your opponent to have a relatively full Bench, too, since most decks don’t function properly without one—meaning this attack could swing for upwards of 220 damage if the opponent also has five Pokémon on their Bench.
On top of this, adding Ludicolo’s Enthusiastic Dance Ability for another 100 damage could suddenly be enough for big one-hit Knock Outs on Pokémon VSTAR, and sometimes even on Pokémon VMAX!
The final Pokémon of the list is a single Moltres. One of my favorite tricks when playing the Pokémon TCG is forcing the opponent into an unfavorable Prize trade. Since Moltres is only worth one Prize card, the opponent will still be forced to Knock Out at least 3 more Pokémon to win. That could be three Entei V, or two Entei V and another support Pokémon.
Moltres fits the deck perfectly, as its Inferno Wings attack is activated by Magma Basin, and it can be boosted further by Ludicolo’s Ability as well, giving it the potential to score big Knock Outs out of nowhere.
Trainer Cards in the Entei V Deck
With any decks that run the Inteleon engine, it’s common practice to play a ton of Quick Ball, Level Ball, and Evolution Incense Trainer cards. Thanks to Inteleon’s Shady Dealings Ability, these Pokémon search cards can be converted into virtually every card in the deck, which boosts consistency significantly.
Because of the Inteleon engine, this deck can afford to run a very small number of Supporter cards. Games in the current format don’t last a great number of turns, so you won’t be playing many Supporter cards to begin with. Usually, you’d have to include extra copies of each Supporter card to increase your chances of drawing them, but the Shady Dealings Ability helps. For draw Supporters, the deck uses a couple Professor’s Research paired with a lone Marnie. The Marnie could provide some nice hand disruption while simultaneously replenishing the hand, and Professor’s Research is the strongest draw Supporter available. Also keep in mind that the deck draws a lot of extra cards thanks to Entei V’s Fleet-Footed Ability.
A couple copies of Boss’s Orders are also included to help you reach the opponent’s Benched Pokémon, which is certainly one of the most effective ways to close out games in quick fashion.
The main way to accelerate Energy into play is still by using the Magma Basin Stadium. Using this Stadium and attaching an Energy from the hand can power up Entei V’s Burning Rondo attack in a single turn, which makes the deck very capable of dishing out huge attacks from seemingly nowhere turn after turn.
In some situations, however, it can be advantageous to avoid using Magma Basin to power up Entei V due to the damage it causes. This is where Raihan could help accelerate an extra Energy into play and grab any card from the deck. Using Raihan could also avoid the need to find a way to retreat the Active Pokémon, as Magma Basin unfortunately only attaches Energy to Benched Pokémon.
Air Balloon is added as a pivot option to make it easier to use Magma Basin should your opponent Knock Out your attacker before another one is established. Another strong Pokémon Tool card featured in this deck is Choice Belt, also from Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars. This is another way to boost damage and can help outmaneuver clever opponents who limit their Bench size to reduce the damage output from Burning Rondo.
Scoop Up Net serves multiple purposes in this deck, as it allows the player to reuse the Enthusiastic Dance and Shady Dealings Abilities, and it helps serve as a pivot option for Magma Basin after a Knock Out.
You might have noticed that the deck list does not include any Lombre, only Lotad and Ludicolo. Instead of Lombre, the deck runs three Rare Candy, allowing Lotad to evolve straight into Ludicolo and dramatically speed up the deck.
Energy in the Entei V Deck
A couple of Capture Energy help provide another way to find Basic Pokémon early. The deck also features Heat Fire Energy, which could help boost Entei V’s already high HP and make it even more difficult for the opponent to score Knock Outs.
Finally, four basic Energy will be all the deck really needs, as they are searchable with Energy Search and recyclable with Magma Basin and Raihan. Note that Shady Dealings can’t search out the Energy cards directly, so the deck includes a couple of Energy Search to ensure that they’re easily accessible throughout the game.
How Does Entei V Compare to Suicune V?
At first glance, these two decks have a lot of similarities, but they have a number of places where their strategies diverge. I think the biggest difference in how the Entei V deck operates is the way it frees up the Supporter spot. While Suicune V decks rely on Melony to accelerate Energy into play, the Entei V deck accelerates with Magma Basin, allowing for more powerful Supporter cards to be played each turn, such as Professor’s Research or Boss’s Orders. Generally, this is a good thing, but it also means that the Entei V decks have less space, as draw Supporters and Energy acceleration are no longer provided by the same card. Suicune V decks use this space to play cards like Cross Switcher, while Entei V decks cannot.
Playing Melony could also make a difference in the early game, as Entei V will struggle with attacking immediately if it is the starting Pokémon, since Magma Basin only works on Benched Pokémon.
Another obvious difference is the typing. Entei V’s Fire type allows it to hit Genesect V, Duraludon VMAX, and Leafeon V for Weakness, to name a few prominent adversaries. Having Weakness to Water instead of Lightning is also helpful when facing Jolteon VMAX. Being weak to Water still has its disadvantages, as Shady Dealings Inteleon has become a popular single-Prize attacking option recently, a notable choice to pair with Arceus VSTAR.
Two of the most popular Stadium cards in the format are Collapsed Stadium and Path to the Peak, both of which are annoying for both Suicune V and Entei V. Collapsed Stadium reduces the damage output from Suicune V and Entei V’s attack by 20, and Path to the Peak turns off the Fleet-Footed Ability, denying some card draw. Having a deck that naturally wants to play a lot of Stadiums is a great counter to these—Collapsed Stadium can especially be difficult to play against without a proper counter Stadium.
Lastly, Entei V has a little bit of extra HP and extra Retreat Cost. In most cases, the Retreat Cost will not end up mattering much, but the extra HP can. If Entei V can be powered up without the use of Magma Basin, the extra HP will allow it to withstand a hit from Arceus VSTAR even if the Alpha Pokémon is attacking with a Double Turbo Energy and a Choice Belt attached; and it can stay in the game after a Techno Blast attack from Genesect V. Entei V can also use Heat Fire Energy, which could further enhance the need for the opponent to find additional modifiers to take a Knock Out.
Suicune V decks can simply use the Shady Dealings Inteleon as their one-Prize attacker thanks to already running Water Energy, while the Entei V build includes Moltres instead. The fact that Moltres can be boosted to collect relevant Knock Outs easily with help from Ludicolo and Choice Belt makes it more powerful in theory, but requiring additional cards for it to happen does make it somewhat more inconsistent.
I don’t think there is a clear verdict on whether Entei V or Suicune V is stronger. But if you are looking for a deck that challenges you in terms of sequencing and adding big numbers together, Entei V is the deck for you. I personally have had a ton of fun experimenting with this new take on an already established meta deck. Once again, Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars has blown the format wide open, and I can’t wait to see more innovative decks from players during the next months of tournament play.
Look for more Pokémon TCG strategy and analysis at Pokemon.com/Strategy.