Breaking Down Malamar VMAX / Arceus After Regionals

Hello again readers, I’m back with you today after what feels like forever to me, but for you all was only a week or two. A ton of Regional Championships have occurred over the last few weekends, and while I’m writing this before Sao Paolo has happened, I’m sure the results there will bring something interesting to the table. Before I get into today’s deck, I want to briefly break down the results and their impacts on the meta.



Header - Regionals Results


The most popular Mew list came as a result of this even, with Natalie’s group bringing the zero Psychic Energy build and finding much success with it. Arceus / Inteleon with Galarian Moltres also was brought to the forefront of the game and started to see more play as a result. Not much else happened here, no real new archetypes, just better or different ways to build lists.

Salt Lake City

I’ll be honest, a major part of me looked at these results and wanted to just write them off as bad Mew players getting punished by people countering them, but I also didn’t do great, so in my mind, there’s some validity to Mew taking a large hit. Gengar was the big winner of this event, and Suicune / Inteleon had a crazy run with Phinn Lynch as the pilot.

However, to me, the standout deck was the Arceus / Inteleon / Galarian Birds list that Ian and Nicholas brought to the event. I lost to something very similar in Day 1, and I think the deck is incredibly powerful. As for Gengar, I honestly don’t expect it to ever see success in those numbers again, I think it was just a product of the meta being entirely unprepared. Finally, Suicune, while very good in the hands of certain players, doesn’t seem like a deck that can break its way into the meta in any real numbers. I don’t expect to see more than a few in any specific Day Two swiss.


Rapid Strike Urshifu. While it’s been something I’ve continuously tried to make work, I did not see this list coming, and while Robin’s run was incredible, I don’t think this is a deck that can ever see success in the hands of very many players. Notably, the entire Limitless group brought the deck, and only Robin even made it through to Day 2.

While the deck is certainly powerful, it’s not something most people can just pick up and play and expect to succeed. The Mew matchup is also still terrifying and not something I would expect it to beat more than 50 percent of the time. Rapid Strike Malamar also emerged as a powerful deck at Liverpool, taking two spots in the Top 8 and having great players like Stephane and Joe Bernard as pilots. It only loss to Rapid Strike Urshifu in Top 8, which I feel like is potentially fixable with Manaphy. Of the decks seen at Liverpool, this is the one to watch out for the most in my opinion. Finally, there’s Sander’s control deck. Control will never be very popular, and this version in particular seemed to blow the minds of many great players, so I wouldn’t expect to see very many ever play it.

With that concluded, it’s time to jump into today’s deck, something that I regret not playing in Salt Lake City, and had been working on for over a month with my brother. 


****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 18

* 4 Arceus V BRS 122
* 2 Bidoof BRS 120
* 2 Bibarel BRS 121
* 3 Arceus VSTAR BRS 176
* 1 Crobat V PR-SW 98
* 3 Malamar V RCL 186
* 2 Malamar VMAX RCL 122
* 1 Lumineon V BRS 40

##Trainer Cards - 31

* 1 Big Charm RCL 206
* 2 Hyper Potion SSH 166
* 1 Judge UL 78
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 4 Quick Ball FST 237
* 1 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 1 Raihan EVS 202
* 2 Escape Rope BST 125
* 1 Adventurer's Discovery FST 224
* 2 Boss's Orders BRS 132
* 3 Marnie CPA 56
* 1 Rose SHF 71
* 3 Path to the Peak CRE 148
* 2 Professor's Research BRS 147
* 2 Air Balloon SSH 213
* 1 Cheren's Care BRS 134

##Energy - 11

* 4 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151
* 6 Darkness Energy Energy 7
* 1 Powerful {C} Energy DAA 176

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******



At this point, Malamar VMAX is old news, as there were a couple of them that made Day 2 in Salt Lake City. However, from what I’ve seen, the lists played were a little behind the point that we had made it to prior to Salt Lake City. I’ve probably put in more games with this deck than I have with Mew VMAX in this format, which is saying a lot, and from our testing, almost every matchup is winnable to some extent, as Max Jammer is hilariously good into almost everything that doesn’t have a Bibarel in play. From the games I’ve played with this deck, I can confidently say the biggest issue it faces in this format is the fact that it’s an Arceus deck that doesn’t play Inteleon, and thus more prone to slow starts. Let’s jump into the list.


Header - Card Choices

Four Arceus V and Three Arceus VSTAR

Arceus V (166/172)Arceus VSTAR (184/172)

First and foremost, this deck is an Arceus deck like any other, and will often be attacking with Arceus for most of the game depending on how things play out and what matchup is being played against. Initially, we only had two VSTAR in the deck, which while fine, led to some unfortunate situations where one copy would be in the Prize cards and the second would have to fall victim to Professor’s Research or a Ball discard. I don’t think it needs to be said, but with Starbirth, there’s an incredibly large range of things that can be pulled off on your second turn with this deck, from attacking with Malamar VMAX from zero energies to KOing an opposing Arceus V on your second turn.

Three Malamar V and Two Malamar VMAX

Malamar V (186/192)Malamar VMAX (198/192)

Malamar VMAX has previously had exactly one time in the spotlight, and that was a while ago when Weavile-GX was still in the format. I’ll be the first to say it, Malamar VMAX is incredibly underpowered in this format. It needs to do like 20 more damage, and then it’s really strong. As it is, it relies much more on its disruption abilities and the fact that it’s a Darkness-type Pokemon more than its damage output. There have been times where I’ve considered changing Malamar into Crobat VMAX and leaving it at that, but the disruption can win games that you have absolutely no business winning.

Two Bidoof and Two Bibarel

Bidoof (120/172)Bibarel (121/172)

Personally, I would love to add one more of each of these, but there’s only so much space that can be dedicated to Pokemon without making the deck terrible. Bibarel has two purposes in this deck – generic draw engine and then to successfully recover from playing Rose. Inteleon would probably be better if it didn’t take so much more space, but since it does, Bibarel is here to stay.

Lumineon V and Crobat V

Lumineon V (156/172)Crobat V (044/072)

Sometimes you need the extra help in the early game, which is where these cards really shine. Lumineon in particular can outright save the early game, as it allows you to turn Quick Ball into an Adventurer’s Discovery into an Arceus VSTAR and then Starbirth into whatever two cards you need to pull of an attack. Crobat is also just a good card to help dig for an Energy or more Pokemon of your first turn. While it’s not currently in this list, I’ve also messed with Crobat VMAX multiple times, because if Mew has a choice between Arceus V, Malamar V and Crobat V, they almost always target down the Malamar V, which leaves room for Starbirth for the pieces needed to use Rose and KO Mew VMAX with Crobat VMAX. As for why it’s not in the list currently, getting a second Malamar V down accomplishes the exact same thing.


This is the really fun part to me, as there are so many different Supporters that are good in this deck, and with the way we build this list, almost every tech Supporter will be used in some fashion in most matchups.

  • One Raihan is here to allow Arceus VSTAR to attack if Mew managed to KO wherever your Energy was attached, and it also lets Malamar VMAX attack on your second turn without using Rose if you attached an Energy there on your first turn.
  • One Rose is probably my favorite card in the list. Mew can target down your Malamar V with Energies, or you can have a slow start and no accelerate any Energy with Arceus. Rose makes it so you don’t care and can drop a Malamar VMAX out of nowhere as long as you had a Malamar V in play. Rose also works very well with the Hyper Potions, which I’ll talk about later.
  • One Cheren’s Care is something of a newer addition to the list. It’s our attempt to at least be able to keep pace with other Arceus decks and trade somewhat evenly between it and the other healing options in our deck. I’ve found myself using it a decent amount of the time solely to pick up my last Arceus VSTAR and force opponents to take VMAX KO instead.
  • One Judge, while not innovative anymore, is still something I think a ton of lists are missing out on. Unlike with Marnie, Mew can’t use Rotom Phone or Switching Cups to stack a Stadium, and while Malamar VMAX already does enough to slow that down after Marnie, decreasing their odds of hitting two outs to Path to the Peak is a very good thing. Judge also lets you shuffle your own deck after a Marnie, which might seem small, can have a very large impact if your opponent used Marnie to put your Hyper Potions on the bottom of the deck. There aren’t a ton of ways to shuffle your own deck with this list, so anything that could do that is potentially valuable.
  • One Adventurer’s Discovery is a really powerful option in this deck for a couple of reasons. There will be turns where you literally just need to draw into your VSTAR and VMAX Pokemon in order to take a commanding spot, and Adventure’s Discovery lets that happen. In addition, when you open with Double Turbo Energy in your hand while going second, you can pretty easily get two Malamar V and an extra Arceus V to set up what could easily be a checkmate board position into Mew VMAX.

All of these one-of Supporters are certainly a bit greedy, but between Lumineon V and Starbirth, you should have access to them when you need them as long as you’re smart about playing down Path to the Peak at the right times. 

Two Hyper Potion

Hyper Potion (054/073)

I’m not going to lie, a part of me was really depressed to see Drew Kennett win Salt Lake City with Hyper Potion in his Arceus deck, but another part of me felt really validated, as this was an idea I’d had weeks before the event. Hyper Potion works very well with Double Turbo Energy, as you can simply attach it and then discard it with Hyper Potion, allowing Malamar or even Arceus VSTAR to survive another hit from whatever is attacking. Between Hyper Potions and Cheren’s Care, we brought Arceus Inteleon, one of the harder matchups for this deck, much closer. 

Two Escape Rope and Two Air Balloon

Escape Rope (125/163)Air Balloon (213/202)

This count might be a bit higher than it strictly needs to be, but I really like not having to use Starbirth for a way to get my Pokemon out of the Active Spot. Escape Rope is really good in this deck because of how low Malamar’s damage cap is. Mew can pretty easily sit behind a Genesect or two to buy a couple of extra turns, but if you can force them to go into something else, or a Genesect that’s already damaged, you can mess with their game a lot. 

Powerful Colorless Energy

Powerful Colorless Energy (176/189)

Both Arceus VSTAR and Malamar VMAX usually cap at 210 damage with Choice Belt, which is really just 10 damage short of being really good into other Arceus decks. Galarian Zigzagoon is one way to combat this problem, but this deck doesn’t particularly have a ton of Bench space or any Scoop Up Nets in order to reuse it, so I think Powerful Colorless is a good enough option to hit the magic number on Arceus V.


Header - Matchups

Mew VMAX: Favored

Between Marnie, Path to the Peak, Max Jammer and Rose, this matchup has always felt incredibly good to me whenever I play it. In a perfect world, you get down two Malamar V and two Arceus V, and at some point have discarded one Darkness Energy or have used Trinity Charge. I’ve won a ton of games where my opponent has taken four Prize Cards, and then I’ve come in with Malamar VMAX to sweep the game. It can be really hard for Mew to recover at that point, and even if they have a second VMAX ready to attack, they can’t use it until they have enough damage modifiers to take a KO, something that Big Charm can help with. You don’t necessarily have to play towards Rose in all of your games, but the times that you whiff any acceleration with Arceus V during the game can easily be recovered using Rose.

Arceus Inteleon: Slightly Unfavored-Even

This matchup is really weird, and I think much of it comes down to who won the coinflip. If either of you are able to take a KO on an Arceus V in the early game, you have a massive lead. If not, then they have slightly better healing cards to deal with you more efficiently. Hyper Potions should generally be saved for Malamar VMAX, unless using one Arceus guarantees that it will survive the following turn. Max Jammer is also a very relevant attack in this matchup, since many lists still haven’t adopted the Bibarel line. If you can remove their out to Drizzile or Inteleon from their hand after Judge or Marnie, you can pretty easily out pace them. In general, your Big Charm should end up on a Malamar VMAX, unless Hyper Potion and the Cheren’s Care are used on Arceus VSTAR first. In a perfect world, your Choice Belt and Powerful Colorless Energy are on your first Arceus VSTAR and you’re able to use them effectively to take a KO. 

Gengar VMAX: Slightly Unfavored, Even-Slightly Favored if Arceus Variant 

Gengar is one of those matchups where what they’re playing in the list can matter a ton. If they have no Bibarel, it’s very easy to make them have a dead hand with Max Jammer. Bibarel makes the matchup worse, but not unwinnable. They still need three Single Strike Energies to KO Malamar VMAX, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially with the second Gengar VMAX. In addition, if they need a Switch, Max Jammer can prove very effective in denying them that. With the Arceus variant, I don’t think they play any real way to OHKO a Malamar VMAX, so you’re basically just playing a mirror match in which they don’t have the power to disrupt your hand. 


Header - Final Thoughts

That’s all I have for you today. I really like this list of Malamar VMAX, and regret not playing it to Salt Lake City, but I do still think the deck has a ton of potential going forward, especially as we enter a format that has Dark Patch in it in a couple of months. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to PM me somewhere and I’ll do my best to answer you. Until next time!

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