Ditch Gengar! Ride the Ice Horse with Ice Rider Calyrex / Arceus VSTAR!

Hello to all CFB readers! Nathália here again with another Pokémon TCG article, and this time the subject of today’s article is about Arceus with Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, one of the decks that did well in Japan a long time ago, but unfortunately didn’t stand out in in the west. However, I decided to give it another chance after the results of the São Paulo Regional and I arrived at a very interesting list to play in a metagame very focused on Arceus VSTAR and Mew VMAX.

For starters, unfortunately I couldn’t play the São Paulo Regionals because I had to work at the last minute on the exact same date as the tournament. I already knew that this could happen and I was prepared for it, but even so, I prepared for this tournament with the certainty that I would participate. As I said in my previous article, my choice would be Gengar VMAX / Houndoom, which would not be a bad meta call as the main decks of the tournament were Mew VMAX and Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon, but with the new metagame changes, mainly with the return of Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, I believe that Gengar VMAX is no longer a safe option.

After the São Paulo regional, I was preparing an article about Arceus VSTAR / Gengar VMAX with Hoopa V and Dunsparce to try to deal with some Fighting-type threats like Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX and Galarian Zapdos V, but I decided to stop the article for now because was not convinced that this deck would be a good option for the moment with the recent results of the European International Championship showing Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX was prominent in the competition. With Hoopa V and Dunsparce, you can win some games, but know that a good Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX / Inteleon player will know how to use the deck’s resources well to escape your plays, especially using cards like Medicham V and Avery.

However, my main question is about Gengar VMAX, as I believe that this Pokémon has been less impactful in the metagame, mainly because of its weakness. It was then that I decided to switch Gengar VMAX to Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. At first, it seems that the two Pokémon have nothing to do with each other, but in fact they are more similar than they seem, as both the ice horse and the big mouth are VMAX Pokémon with 320 HP that have attacks that cause 250 damage (280 with Choice Belt), enough damage to KO Arceus VSTAR. The simple fact that these Pokémon can KO Arceus VSTAR and are unlikely to be KO’d on return makes them great counters to Arceus. 



Header - Differences

Gengar VMAX (271/264)Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX (203/198)

The big difference between the Gengar and Ice Rider Calyrex is their types and weaknesses. While Gengar VMAX is Dark-type to easily KO Mew VMAX, Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is Water-type, practically irrelevant in format, but its weakness to Metal makes it a safe choice, as there’s nothing metal in the format that can easily KO it. Gengar VMAX has one of the worst weaknesses of the moment, Fighting, so he can be easily knocked out by Galarian Zapdos V and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX.

The Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX matchup against Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX remains difficult, but at least you don’t have to worry so much about weakness and you can establish a much more conventional game plan without having to insert tech cards that make the deck look more inconsistent just to make a bad matchup less worse. Another big difference between Gengar and Ice Calyrex is the matchup against Mew VMAX, since Gengar VMAX can give Mew VMAX a one-hit knockout with only two energies, while Ice Rider Calyrex can only knockout in two attacks. This is worse than it looks because it allows the opponent to have the option to attack with Psychic Leap and return Mew VMAX to the deck, cleaning damage caused by the horse. However, I believe that in this matchup, the most impacting card is Path to the Peak. If you put Path to the Peak down and the Mew VMAX player can’t take it off the field, the matchup is much smoother and the attacker you’re using doesn’t necessarily have to knock out Mew VMAX with a single attack; the important thing is that they have enough HP to be able to withstand a Mew VMAX attack.


Header - The List


4 Arceus V
2 Arceus Vstar
3 Ice Rider Calyrex V
2 Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX
2 Bidoof
2 Bibarel
1 Pumpkaboo
1 Manaphy
1 Lumineon V

3 Marnie
2 Melony
1 Professor's Research
3 Boss's Orders

4 Quick Ball
4 Ultra Ball
4 Great Ball
2 Switch
1 Air Balloon
2 Choice Belt
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Ordinary Rod

3 Path to the Peak

3 Double Turbo Energy
8 Water Energy


Deck Overview

Ice Rider Calyrex V (164/198)Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX (203/198)Arceus V (166/172)Arceus VSTAR (184/172)

Unlike the Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon lists, the main focus of this deck is Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX and not Arceus. Therefore, the Arceus line of this deck is four Arceus V and only two Arceus VSTAR, as the main function of Arceus VSTAR is to use the Starbirth ability to improve the second turn setup and guarantee Double Turbo or Melony to attack with Arceus VSTAR and power up Ice Rider Calyrex on the bench. The idea is to make only one Arceus VSTAR per game because after the ability and the attack are done, the next step in the game plan is to go with Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, so it doesn’t pay to use Dunsparce.

The ideal setup is to have two Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX on the field and ideally have three copies of this Pokémon in the deck in case one of the copies falls into the prizes. However, you don’t always necessarily need to have both Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX at the same time on the field – you can wait for your Ice Rider Calyrex to be KO’d and then return it to the deck with the Ordinary Rod to evolve the second Ice Rider Calyrex V that was on the field.

Bibarel (121/172)

To provide consistency to the deck, the list has Bibarel, which for just four spots, offers absurd draw power. In fact, I’m against using the Inteleon line for this deck, as it would take up too much space on the list and jeopardize the most important turn of the game, the first turn. The list with Bibarel is lighter and you have space to dedicate good cards for the first turn that can help you throughout the game too, like four Great Balls and four Ultra Balls.

Lumineon V (156/172)

To help you in an emergency or find the ideal Supporter for the ideal moment, the list has Lumineon V, which, unlike Crobat V, has the advantage of attacking and returning to the deck. The draw power offered by Crobat V is something unique and maybe you miss it in some games. However, leaving this Pokémon on the bench can be the reason you lose some games too, since Lumineon V has the power to do something similar, but especially in this list, attcking with Lumineon V is quite viable and is useful for knocking out some single-Prize Pokemon like Sobble and Drizzile. In addition, taking it out of the field and preventing your opponent from getting two easy Prizes while still being able to raise a single-Prize Pokemon forces the opponent to use Boss’s Orders for only one Prize that turn.

Other advantages of Lumineon V are abundant as well, such as the possibility of using Melony on the first turn to Trinity Charge with Arceus V without having to find Double Turbo Energy. However, if you get Double Turbo Energy, you can hit 110 damage in the first turn with Power Edge and knock out some important single-Prize Pokémon.

Pumpkaboo (076/203)Manaphy (041/172)

To finish the Pokémon line, the list has two single-Prize Pokémon to solve important metagame issues. The first is Pumpkaboo, and its main function is to remove the opponent’s Path to the Peak so you can use your Starbirth and Luminious Sight. There’s also Manaphy, which is tech to counter Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX’s G-Max Rapid Flow attack. Even with Manaphy on the field, the match will be difficult and the opponent can knock out Manaphy with Medicham V, but on the other hand, Manaphy gives you more time because it makes the opponent not make their most powerful move, so Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX starts to be impactful as your bench will be safer and won’t take damage while Manaphy is there. Without Manaphy, G-Max Rapid Flow will knock out Arceus VSTAR and Bibarel, taking three Prizes in one turn and making the opponent have to knock out just one more Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX to get the other three.

Marnie (056/073)Melony (218/198)Professor's Research (147/172)

Regarding the Supporter line, it is very lean and has only the amount needed in theory, something that’s not always positive because in practice, Pokemon does not always come out as in theory. Maybe one more Draw Supporter isn’t a bad idea or even Pal Pad, as you can use Lumineon V to access them, but overall it’s been enough.

The main Draw Supporter is Marnie, who along with Path to the Peak, can wreck the opponent, especially Mew VMAX. You’ll want to use Melony when you don’t need to use Marnie because in addition to offering a good Draw Power, it allows you to put more energy on Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX so it can dispose of opposing Pokemon smoothly with Max Lance. In addition to these two Draw Supporters, the list has only one copy of Professor’s Research, which can be found by Starbirth or Luminous Sights to be used at specific times. As in most cases, you don’t want to discard your hand.

It’s worth remembering that Bibarel already offers a good Draw Power and with the deck’s 12 Ball Search, Trinity Charge and Trinity Nova attacks, you can filter plenty of cards out to make it thin, consistent and help you find any card you need.

A small problem with Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is its mobility, because its Max Lance attack discards two energy. In some cases, you’ll only be able to attack again with the help of Melony. Knowing this, your opponent will use Boss’s Orders on your Pokémon without energy. It’s important avoid retreating as much as possible with the Retreat Cost as Ice Rider discards energy and because of that, you may not have another attacker with energy.

Choice Belt (135/172)Tool Scrapper (208/192)

For Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX to become a great differential in the matchups against Arceus VSTAR, you’ll need Choice Belt, so the list comes with two copies. However, Choice Belt alone is not always enough to deal with Arceus VSTAR because the opponent can use Big Charm, making you use Tool Scrapper to be remove it and get the KO.

Ordinary Rod (215/202)

The main reason I like this list is the initial setup, but in order to be able to freely use Quick Ball and Ultra Ball, especially in the first few turns, you have to discard important resources like Pokémon and energy. Another point to remember is that Ice Rider Calyrex discards energy in its attack, so I see Ordinary Rod as a mandatory card on the list, even to recover Manaphy against Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX if the opponent knocks it out. Other, it can take the Pokémon V from discard so that the opponent can’t use Echoing Horn, a card present in Mew VMAX, Suicune Ludicolo and some RS Urshifu lists.

Path to the Peak (148/198)

To finish the Trainer line, the list has three Path to the Peak, mainly as the most effective tech against Mew VMAX. Without this Stadium, the match is pretty bad. The main move to beat Mew VMAX is Marnie with Path to the Peak and hope the opponent doesn’t find any stadium in the next turn. Amazingly, it’s a much more effective move than it looks and many of my victories are achieved that way, whether playing with Gengar VMAX / Houndoom or with Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. Apart from Mew VMAX, Path to the Peak ends up being important to hinder the opponent in making his Starbirth in matchups against Arceus, in addition to several other situations from other matchups, such as stopping the Ability of Suicune V or Duraludon VMAX.


For the energy count, it’s important to use enough Water Energy so that you don’t miss the attaching consistently to Ice Rider Calyrex. Knowing that the deck’s main attack drops energy, it’s important that you attach every turn, as Melony and Trinity Nova alone may not be enough. Finally, there’s only three Double Turbo Energy as you only need one to make an Arceus VSTAR. The other two can be used to pay Retreat Costs and attack with Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX’s first attack, Ride of the High King, or to pay Max Lance’s attack cost in cases where you don’t need the 250 damage, as 230 damage is still enough to KO almost any Pokémon V in the metagame.


Header - Final Thoughts

With the recent results of the European International Championship and the rise of Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, it may seem that Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is not exactly the meta call you’re looking for, but I also believe that for the next tournaments, RS Urshifu will not have the same freedom it has now. Just as the metagame has changed to the point where Mew VMAX is no longer the best deck it was a short time ago, I believe that RS Urshifu will soon also have new problems, such as Whimsicott VSTAR

Arceus VSTAR / Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is a solid combination that never goes out of style. It might not be the perfect meta call to beat RS Urshifu, but the truth is that the ice horse was never about being the meta call, but rather another good deck present in the metagame with its strengths and weaknesses that is still competitive against any deck in the format. I particularly like decks like this because I can focus on improving my deck skills without worrying so much about the metagame, especially now that my life’s quite busy and I have less time than I would like to test new ideas, so my solution is to find a strong, consistent deck capable of having a balanced matchup against the main decks of the format.

That’s all for today, I hope you liked it and good luck!

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