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Everything is Weak to This – An Intro to Arceus / Urshifu Toolbox

I’m sure I’m not teaching you anything new if I say that Arceus VSTAR is a pretty good card. As fearsome as Mew VMAX is, Arceus variants were overall more successful in the four Regionals we’ve had so far this season, although unlike Mew, they’re split into many variants.

There lies the strength and the weakness of Arceus VSTAR. It can be paired with a wide variety of partners, including Gengar VMAX, Duraludon VMAX and Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, allowing it to do better against some opponents. Or it can be played by itself, with the Inteleon engine. That variant won São Paulo Regionals, and it’s better than most Arceus variants against Malamar, but it can struggle against Mew VMAX (Bruno Sermann, the São Paulo winner, stated himself that Mew was a bad matchup, although he did beat it in top four and finals). Arceus VSTAR has a powerful attack and a fantastic VSTAR Power, but it’s not getting OHKOs on important targets by itself, and as a Colorless Pokémon, it doesn’t hit any Pokémon for Weakness, so it’s power has limits.

What if we could pair Arceus VSTAR with not one, but multiple secondary attackers, allowing it to have the edge over many popular decks by hitting them for Weakness, though? This is exactly what I’m offering today. In this variant, you can power up the most effective attacker for the matchup with Trinity Nova on turn two, and then win the game because you’re hitting the opponent for Weakness. If you remember Sylveon VMAX from the start of the season, this deck behaves much the same way. Sylveon was fantastic when it set up properly, but it also had a tendency to be a clunky mess. Arceus VSTAR, on the other hand, is much more reliable thanks to Starbirth.

I won’t pretend that this deck is the most consistent ever. However, it’s reliable enough that it has seen decent success in local tournaments in Japan during their Starbirth format (the one we’re currently playing), and I think this deck benefits from a Best-of-Three environment, making it better for our Regionals and Internationals. It’s a deck I’m seriously considering playing for the European International Championships.

 

 

Header - Building the Deck

Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX (TG30/TG30)

Several Arceus VSTAR variants have been focusing on Fighting-type attackers, such as Sandaconda VMAX and Lycanroc VMAX. These Pokémon can hit Arceus VSTAR itself for Weakness, and they have enough HP to tank attacks. However, the best Fighting attacker in the format is surely Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX because G-Max Rapid Flow is so threatening. Against Arceus decks that play Dunsparce, Urshifu can KO Dunsparce on the Bench and Knock Out a Drizzile or Sobble at the same time, giving you a big advantage in the Prize race. Unlike the two Pokémon above, though, Urshifu is weak to Psychic, making it almost useless in the Mew VMAX matchup.

Hoopa V (253/264)Crobat VMAX (045/072)

The solution to that is to include attackers that are effective against Mew VMAX. While other Arceus / Fighting decks tend to use Beedrill, getting it out through Single Strike Mustard is not always practical. Instead, we can use Dark-type attackers. Since we’ll have to split our Energy between Fighting, Dark and Double Turbo, Pokémon such as Galarian Moltres and Galarian Moltres V cannot be used to their full potential. Instead, I’ve included the two attackers that are most used in this kind of deck in Japan: Hoopa V and Crobat VMAX.

Hoopa V doubles as a Psychic-type attacker (that’s not weak to Fighting), so it’s great against Urshifu VMAX, which is otherwise dangerous for Arceus. As a Dark-type attacker, it also has the advantage of not damaging itself after attacking, so it is a bit harder to KO than Galarian Moltres V. With a Big Charm attached, it forces the Mew VMAX player to have two damage modifiers to KO it.

As for Crobat VMAX, it’s simply a great card for Bench management. This list doesn’t have the deck space or the Bench space to play an Inteleon line, so it runs Quick Ball and Ultra Ball and basic Support Pokémon such as Crobat V. Crobat VMAX allows us to turn a Bench sitter into an attacker. In addition to OHKOing Mew VMAX, Crobat VMAX is also key in the Malamar matchup, as I’ll explain in a further section.

Speaking of Bench sitters, Bibarel is a good engine for this deck. It takes less space than an Inteleon line, and it has synergy with the Quick Balls and Ultra Balls that are already played. Bibarel’s downside is that you usually don’t set it up super early in the game because there are more important targets, but in an Arceus deck, you have Starbirth for the all-important second turn, and then Bibarel can take over as the consistency engine.

 

Header - List and Commentary

Here’s my current list:

PTCGO Code

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

##Pokémon - 20

* 3 Arceus V BRS 122
* 2 Bidoof BRS 120
* 2 Bibarel BRS 121
* 2 Arceus VSTAR BRS 123
* 2 Crobat V DAA 104
* 1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
* 1 Hoopa V PR-SW 176
* 1 Crobat VMAX PR-SW 99
* 2 Rapid Strike Urshifu V BST 87
* 2 Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX BST 88
* 1 Pumpkaboo EVS 76
* 1 Lumineon V BRS 156

##Trainer Cards - 28

* 1 Switch HS 102
* 1 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 2 Training Court RCL 169
* 3 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Big Charm SSH 158
* 2 Raihan EVS 152
* 1 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 4 Ultra Ball BRS 150
* 2 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 3 Professor's Research SHF 60
* 1 Marnie SSH 169
* 2 Escape Rope BUS 114

##Energy - 12

* 1 Rapid Strike Energy BST 140
* 4 Fighting Energy SWSHEnergy 15
* 4 Darkness Energy SWSHEnergy 7
* 3 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151

Total Cards - 60

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

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As always, I’ll explain some key choices:

1 Lumineon V, 2 Raihan

Lumineon V (156/172)Raihan (224/203)

Raihan is very important in this deck because there’s no other way to accelerate Energy, such as Melony. If you whiff a turn one attachment, or if your opponent KOs your Arceus V with an Energy with their first attack, you need to play Raihan to counter-attack. Lumineon V helps to find Raihan, and it’s obviously also useful to find a Boss’s Orders when you need it.

1 Galarian Zigzagoon

Galarian Zigzagoon (117/202)

Galarian Zigzagoon mostly gives you the option to KO an opposing Arceus V with your own Arceus VSTAR on turn two, if you also have Choice Belt. It is not the most important card in the deck, but it needs one-Prize Pokémon anyway for the Malamar matchup, and the turn two KO does win some games.

2 Training Court, 1 Pumpkaboo

Training Court (282/264)Pumpkaboo (076/203)

Unlike some other Arceus VSTAR variants which can just stick Path to the Peak in play once they’ve used Starbirth, this deck can still use Crobat and Lumineon’s Abilities (as well as Hoopa’s against Psychic-weak decks), so other Stadiums are needed. Training Court works pretty well to recover the type of Energy you need at the right time. However, I also include Pumpkaboo as a counter to Path to the Peak if it’s played before Starbirth. Arceus / Inteleon decks can find their non-Path to the Peak Stadium (usually Collapsed Stadium or Training Court) with Drizzile’s Shady Dealings in these situations, but without Drizzile, there’s a higher risk we don’t find a counter-Stadium, hence Pumpkaboo, which can be found with any Quick Ball or Ultra Ball.

3 Double Turbo Energy, 1 Rapid Strike Energy

Double Turbo Energy (151/172)Rapid Strike Energy (140/163)

Double Turbo Energy can be useless after a while. I stated in my article last week that I don’t think it’s worth running four in Arceus / Inteleon, and the same applies here: after your first Trinity Nova, you don’t really want a Double Turbo Energy again. However, I decided to play three rather than two in this deck because getting a turn one Trinity Charge going second helps a lot, especially in the Mew VMAX matchup.

Rapid Strike Energy is mostly here as a bonus. By having it in the deck, you have the option of powering up G-Max Rapid Flow in one turn, thanks

1 Air Balloon, 1 Switch, 2 Escape Rope

Air Balloon (213/202)Switch (183/202)Escape Rope (125/163)

With no Scoop Up Net in the deck, more switching cards are needed. I’m not totally sure what the optimal split is between these cards, though, and I think you could consider a second Switch over an Escape Rope. A second Air Balloon is an option too, but it can conflict with the other Tools the deck plays.

2 Choice Belt, 2 Big Charm

Choice Belt (135/172)Big Charm (206/192)

Choice Belt is important in any Arceus deck to OHKO Pokémon V, especially in combination with Galarian Zigzagoon. In this deck, it also lets Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX OHKO an undamaged Gengar VMAX with Gale Thrust, or an Arceus VSTAR with G-Max Rapid Flow. Choice Belt also fixes the math to make sure you OHKO Mew VMAX even if you had to attach a Double Turbo Energy to Hoopa V or Crobat VMAX and the opponent has Oricorio in play.

Big Charm is good to make Arceus VSTAR harder to OHKO for Mew VMAX and Malamar, and Hoopa V for Mew VMAX. It’s one of the best cards to have in your opening hand when playing against a Mew VMAX deck, as it can let an Arceus V survive a turn.

 

Header - Other Options

Here are some other cards that didn’t make the list, but are also worth considering.

A Thicker Arceus Line

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

This deck needs Arceus to work. Sure, you might be able to get a win against, say, Jolteon VMAX, with simply your Urshifus, but most of the time, you’ll need Arceus VSTAR to set up your attackers, not to mention for the consistency of Starbirth. Therefore, I could imagine running a thicker Arceus line, such as 4-2 (4-3 is probably too much, but it’s not totally out of the question), to help get a turn two Trinity Nova every game. The argument against a bigger Arceus line is that you usually only want to use one Arceus VSTAR as an attacker, and then follow up with other attackers instead. If you increase the deck’s focus on Arceus VSTAR, you could also consider playing Cheren’s Care.

Manaphy

Manaphy (041/172)

Although there are attackers in the deck that hit Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX and Jolteon VMAX for Weakness, they can still be dangerous if they can dismantle our setup by Knocking Out Bidoof and Bibarel, and/or stick Path to the Peak in play. Manaphy should give us a significant advantage over these decks by protecting our Bench.

Piers

Piers (069/072)

The argument for Piers is that, while our Dark attackers are very effective against Mew VMAX, we can struggle a lot if Mew VMAX goes first and start taking Prizes, since most of our Pokémon, and all our attackers, are two-Prize Pokémon. Piers, which can be tutored by Lumineon V, can get us a Double Turbo Energy (as well as a Crobat V for card draw) and allow us to use Trinity Charge on turn one, which means that we can OHKO a Mew VMAX on turn two. I need to test this card more, but I think it makes sense in a list that plays four Arceus V, making it more likely that we get the turn one Trinity Charge.

Adventurer’s Discovery

Adventurer's Discovery (224/264)

Just like Piers, it’s a situational Supporter that has value in this deck. Adventurer’s Discovery on turn two can find Arceus VSTAR, an attacker and a Crobat V for card draw, for example. Adventurer’s Discovery’s usual weakness is that you can only use it when the only cards you’re missing are Pokémon V, because it doesn’t draw you cards, apart from the unreliable Crobat V. However, in an Arceus deck, you can search for Arceus VSTAR and then Starbirth for an Energy, switching card or whatever else you’re missing, making it much better.

Path to the Peak, Collapsed Stadium

Path to the Peak (148/198)Collapsed Stadium (137/172)

Other Stadiums alongside Training Court are possible. While this deck can’t rely on Path to the Peak as much as another Arceus deck, playing one is not out of the question and it can win some games against Mew. Collapsed Stadium can remove especially vulnerable targets, such as Lumineon V, from play, and be useful against some Bench-reliant decks such as Suicune V / Ludicolo and Malamar.

 

Header - Matchups

Mew VMAX

Going first, the plan is to Trinity Nova on turn two, putting two Energy on Hoopa V and one on Crobat V. If the opponent KOs Hoopa on the Bench, you can then evolve Crobat into Crobat VMAX and attack with it. As always, make sure you don’t lose your lone Arceus V on turn one to a big Meloetta attack, so either Bench a second one, or have it on the Bench with at least one other Pokémon as Escape Rope fodder. Raihan might be necessary to ensure the turn two Trinity Nova.

Going second, the plan is similar but harder to pull off, unless you can Trinity Charge on turn one.

Overall, this matchup is favored, but it’s scary. If the Mew player draws everything they need, they will win the Prize race. If they whiff an attack or a Boss’s Orders and they have to KO a Bidoof instead of an attacker, then there’s not much they can do to take back the lead.

Arceus VSTAR

This matchup is very dependent on the opponent’s deck list. Pure Arceus / Inteleon is a favorable matchup unless they play both Dunsparce and Manaphy. If they do, try to KO Dunsparce with Arceus VSTAR, powering up Urshifu, and then use Urshifu against their Arceus. Games between Arceus variants can last more turns than average, so set up Bibarel as it should provide some good value over the game.

Against Arceus / Birds, beware of Galarian Zapdos V. It will be very difficult to avoid having three Pokémon V in play, but if you can do so, it will make it harder for the opponent. Otherwise, have Hoopa V ready to retaliate. On the bright side, Arceus / Birds doesn’t play Dunsparce, so you can then deal with Arceus with your Urshifu.

Against other Arceus variants, matchups can vary wildly. Arceus / Gengar, for example, is not too dangerous because Urshifu does so well against them. Arceus / Duraludon is annoying because Duraludon VMAX deals well with all your non-VMAX Pokémon.

Malamar

The key in the Malamar matchup is to use Crobat VMAX. If you’ve read my latest article in which I explain Mew VMAX’s strategy against Malamar, this deck does basically the same thing. Take a first Prize with Arceus VSTAR, with a Big Charm if possible, and then use Crobat VMAX for the rest of the game. Stealth Poison will OHKO Malamar due to Weakness and you can then send in a one-Prize Pokémon as a sacrifice: Pumpkaboo and Zigzagoon find value here even if their Abilities are useless.

After taking four Prizes with Crobat VMAX and sacrificing four one-Prize Pokémon (Bibarel x2, Pumpkaboo, Zigzagoon), you can take your last Prize. Even if the opponent plays Boss’s Orders, they will only take one more Prize and you should still win the race. Additionally, be on the lookout for times when you can end the game with G-Max Rapid Flow. The presence of a Rapid Strike Urshifu V with one or two Energy on your board will force your opponent to play around its threat, either by Benching Manaphy or having two Inkay on the Bench at all times. If you see an opportunity to KO two Malamar or Malamar and Inkay with G-Max Rapid Flow, leaving your opponent with no attacker, take it (remember, Malamar needs to be on the Bench, otherwise its Resistance will save it). That said, don’t evolve Urshifu V until you do such an attack, or you’ll give your opponent an opportunity to take three Prizes with a Boss’s Orders and potentially get the lead back.

Jolteon VMAX

I don’t have a lot of experience against this deck, but it has a hard time dealing with Urshifu, especially an Urshifu with Basic Energy (so Fan of Waves is useless). As long as you don’t brick due to Path to the Peak (Pumpkaboo is key here), you should be fine.

Control

I don’t expect Control to be particularly popular, but Sander Wojcik showed that the archetype was still viable, and there are always players who like playing his lists, even though to do well with Control you need to tailor your list to the metagame, so copying a list from a previous event is rarely optimal. I mention this deck because Arceus / Urshifu basically folds to it, since it has no answer to Altaria, apart from Bibarel which is a terrible attacker (and it’s not even enough to OHKO Altaria).

 

Header - Conclusion

This deck may look like a random pile of cards that have no business working together, but Arceus VSTAR is an incredibly potent glue that can make strange decks work. By countering specific weaknesses that are important in the metagame, this deck can get a favorable meta spread even though it doesn’t seem like it would be enough.

I also think that this deck has some important advantages in a Best-of-Three environment. While it can sometimes brick, I think that’s more acceptable in Best-of-Three, where you can lose one game and still win two others because it hits for Weakness. Also, compared to Inteleon decks, there are fewer searches to perform, so it’s quicker to play IRL. This means you’re more likely to finish a best of three series and avoid ties, which can matter in a tournament environment.

Overall, while I’m not 100 percent satisfied with the deck right now, it’s a deck I’m considering for EUIC. I’ve found that I much prefer playing Arceus VSTAR to Mew VMAX, maybe because its abundance of options reminds me of Zoroark-GX, so it’s likely (but definitely not a sure thing) that I’ll end up playing Arceus VSTAR in Frankfurt. Of course, this still leaves me with about a thousand possible variants, but Arceus Toolbox has the advantage of not being on too many people’s radar and not being affected by some techs I’ve been seeing lately (such as Jolteon + Memory Capsule to shut down Inteleon engines).

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