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Hit Standard’s Weakness with Galarian Moltres / Zapdos V

Hello everyone, it is me again! Last weekend was Liverpool Regionals, with many interesting decks doing very well! Robin Schulz won the whole event with a Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX deck that contained 22 one-ofs! Something else we saw were two Rapid Strike Malamar decks making the top 8, firmly establishing it as a top tier archetype. Other than those, Day 2 of Liverpool Regionals was mostly dominated by Mew VMAX and various Arceus VSTAR decks, mostly involving Galarian Moltres EVS. Today however, I’m going to discuss a different Galarian Moltres deck, which is Galarian Moltres / Hoopa / Zadpos V. While most Galarian Moltres EVS decks have adapted to include Arceus VSTAR, there are still many reasons to play without the God Pokemon.

The main reason to avoid playing with Arceus VSTAR is the Mew VMAX matchup. When playing as Mew VMAX into the various Arceus VSTAR / Moltres decks, I noticed that Mew was able to punish going for early Arceus Vs extremely efficiently. This especially became true when Mew VMAX decks added Echoing Horn, allowing for Mew to consistently win the game through taking three two-Prize knockouts. Most of the Arceus / Moltres lists only opted for a 2-2 line of Arceus VSTAR as well, which make the odds of finding a turn one Arceus V quite low and often resulted in them becoming dead cards later in the game. 

 

 

Having to force an Arceus VSTAR line into your deck also put a ton of strain on your other card counts, often only letting you play three Drizzile SSH, one Inteleon SSH and two Scoop Up Net, cards which are incredibly crucial to your deck’s strategy.

Drizzile (056/202)Inteleon (058/202)Scoop Up Net (207/192)

This made your deck very susceptible to prizing key pieces and having your game plans fall apart due to this. You also were only able to play one Galarian Zapdos V, one Cape of Toughness and one Fighting Energy, which felt incredibly risky to play so few copies of cards which were so crucial against other Arceus VSTAR decks. Because of these reasons, I wanted to play this deck without the Arceus VSTAR line.

Initially I tried playing Bibarel BRS as a replacement to Arceus VSTAR to try and supplement your draw on the turns which you cannot play a draw supporter.

Bibarel (121/172)

Unfortunately, my hands with this deck often ended up being too large for Bibarel to have a meaningful impact, especially in the late game. However, after seeing Robin Schulz’s list from Liverpool, I wanted to try fully committing to the Inteleon line with  four Drizzile SSH, two Inteleon SSH and four Scoop Up Net. Playing thicker counts of your Inteleon pieces let you have the freedom to discard them to Quick Ball or Professor’s Research and the full four Scoop Up Net let you chain uses of Inteleon SSH and see more cards every turn without having to play a Draw Supporter, freeing up your supporter slot to use Boss’s Orders, Raihan or Klara every turn in the late game. I also borrowed another aspect of Robin’s list with Zinnia’s Resolve.

Zinnia's Resolve (225/203)

Against Mew VMAX, you want to be chaining uses of Galarian Moltres EVS every single turn after they get to three Prize cards, so using Zinnia to often draw six cards while being able to keep your hand ended up being crucial in that matchup. Your plan against Mew VMAX is to build up a massive hand size to let you use Galarian Moltres EVS and Boss’s Orders in the same turn to prevent the Mew player from leading with double Meloetta FST into you.

Another card which ended up being incredibly crucial which I rarely see in lists is Castform CRE.

Castform (121/198)

The version of Castform you play does not matter – they all have free retreat and can be found with Level Ball. Having a Pokemon you can use as a pivot is stronger than playing copies of Air Balloon because it can be found more consistently with Level Ball, is not removed when you use Scoop Up Net on it and will not be chased as much as Sobbles or Drizziles with Air Balloons attached. Another thing which Castform helps with is having more single-Prize Pokemon. Since most Mew VMAX lists play Echoing Horn, being able to fill your board with single-Prize Pokemon is crucial to prevent Echoing Horn from letting them win the game one turn before you do.

In the Arceus VSTAR versions of this deck, filling your board with one-Prize Pokemon was often impossible since you played so few. However, with Castform and Hoopa DAA in this list, it becomes a lot more doable. I added Hoopa back into the deck as a way of making a relevant attack in the early game against something which you did not have weakness on, often allowing you to win games by taking one Prize, then three Prizes then two more Prizes. Hoopa just ended up being a low maintenance attacker which fit well into this deck’s strategy, so it made sense to play.

Without playing Arceus VSTAR yourself, your game plans against most Arceus VSTAR decks end up involving Galarian Zapdos V with a Cape of Toughness attached.

Galarian Zapdos V (182/172)Cape of Toughness (200/185)

However, with only one copy of Zapdos, one copy of Fighting Energy and one copy of Cape of Toughness, this combo becomes difficult to pull off consistently. With the extra space available from not playing Arceus VSTAR, I wanted to up those counts to two of each. Having multiple copies of these prevents them from (usually) being stuck in the Prize cards and helps you naturally draw into them, making it one less card you need to search for. When I have played this deck, I have also noticed that Zapdos V is not just useful against Arceus VSTAR. It also ended up being my primary attacker against Gengar VMAX and interestingly Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX.

Gengar VMAX (271/264)Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX (TG30/TG30)

Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX struggles to deal with an active Pokemon that has 250 HP and being able to discard their special energy ended up being crucial to prevent them from setting up consecutive uses of GMAX Rapid Flow. With how versatile Galarian Zapdos V ended up being, I feel satisfied playing with two copies in this list.

After making all the changes I wanted to the original list, I settled on this one below.

PTCGO Code

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

##Pokémon - 17

* 2 Galarian Moltres EVS 93
* 1 Hoopa DAA 111
* 2 Galarian Zapdos V CRE 80
* 1 Castform Snowy Form CRE 34
* 4 Sobble CRE 41
* 4 Drizzile SSH 56
* 2 Inteleon SSH 58
* 1 Inteleon CRE 43

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 4 Professor's Research SSH 178
* 2 Cape of Toughness DAA 160
* 4 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 2 Training Court RCL 169
* 2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Raihan EVS 152
* 2 Klara CRE 145
* 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 2 Marnie SSH 169
* 1 Zinnia's Resolve EVS 164
* 2 Energy Search BCR 128
* 4 Level Ball NXD 89

##Energy - 8

* 2 Fighting Energy SMEnergy 6
* 6 Darkness Energy SMEnergy 7

Total Cards - 60

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Before going over specific matchups with this deck, I would like to talk for a bit about opting to go second. Usually, in a blind matchup I will opt to go second with this deck. This is because when I go first, I often struggle to build a setup and will struggle to get to the massive hand size you need in the late game. However, when going second, I can use Keep Calling on my first turn and set up my board completely, often leaving my Quick Balls available to find cards like Castform or Hoopa. Going second also denies other decks the use of their Keep Calling which is incredibly relevant against most single prize decks.

 

Header - Matchups

Mew VMAX 

While I have gone over most of your game plan for this matchup, I will still discuss some directions which the game can go. Hoopa is a massive threat as it usually can take an easy knockout on an opposing Meloetta. However, most Mew VMAX decks are playing Oricorio FST right now, which prevents this specific knockout from happening.

Oricorio (042/264)

If there is an Oricorio in play, you have two options. The first one is to set up a Galarian Moltres to knock out the Meloetta, even if they have only taken one Prize the Moltres still gets the knockout as the Meloetta has Dark weakness. If your opponent tries to attack with the second Meloetta after this, I recommend trying to build up your hand and use Boss’s Orders to take knockouts on multi-Prize Pokemon on their bench using Galarian Moltres still. If you attach a Cape of Toughness to a Moltres, you can push it out of range of a two Energy Melodious Echo and start forcing them to draw into Power Tablets, which most Mew VMAX players will toss away in this matchup. The other play you can sometimes go for is to use Boss’s Orders on the Oricorio and attack it with Hoopa DAA. While this does not get the knockout, you can eventually set up to use Quick Shooting to finish off the Oricorio, either on the next turn or way later in the game. While this can be prevented by attaching a Fusion Energy to the Oricorio, usually Fusion Energy are committed to Meloetta in this matchup to allow both to attack. Ideally, you want to go for Galarian Moltres in this situation, but I would recommend trying different lines as this matchup tends to play out differently game to game.

Arceus VSTAR Variants

Against Arceus VSTAR variants, going second might seem like a losing play, but it helps your chances significantly. You can only power up a Zapdos V through Raihan because they rarely have three Pokemon V in play. Using Keep Calling on the first turn is especially important to getting your Zapdos set up if you go first against Arceus you cannot really do much without using Keep Calling first and they typically set up well if they get access to a supporter card on turn one. If you get to Keep Calling on the first turn, being able to assemble Zapdos, Fighting Energy, Raihan and Cape of Toughness becomes a lot easier.

One card I would consider for this matchup is one copy of Double Turbo Energy. If you Raihan the Fighting Energy onto the Zapdos, you can search out the Double Turbo Energy and still use Thunderous Kick even if they only have a single Pokemon V in play. I decided not to include it in this matchup, but it could be useful. One card that some Arceus lists play which can throw a wrench into your plan is Dunsparce FST.

Dunsparce (207/264)

If they bench Dunsparce expecting Zapdos, I will try and use Hoopa to knock it out that turn with Boss’s Orders, as this keeps the Prize trade even. Having this in your hand becomes a lot easier if you can use Keep Calling on the first turn, which makes going second even more important in this matchup.

Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX

While this matchup is unfavored because of how devastating GMAX Rapid Flow can be, you still have options with Galarian Zapdos. If you set up a Zapdos and manage to load energy onto it with Raihan, the fact that it discards special Energy is relevant in this matchup. I would still recommend going second against Urshifu, mostly to deny them of their Keep Calling. While a turn two Rapid Flow can be threatening, it is unlikely that they draw into it because they only have two Rapid Strike Urshifu V and three Quick Ball.

One thing I would also consider against this deck is to be wary of taking a knockout if their Urshifu does not have an Energy on it. Their only way of accelerating energy onto their Urshifu V is to use Raihan, and you can deny them access to it by not taking a knockout. They also do not play down many Pokemon V so you usually will need time to get three Energy onto a Zapdos V. Overall this matchup is difficult, but winnable.

Gengar VMAX

Gengar becomes a quite easy matchup to deal with when you have a heavy Zapdos line. Their deck struggles with bench management and they often need three Houndoom in play because you bench so few Pokemon V. It is common for the Gengar player to need to bench their Crobat V to set up properly, which just plays into your Thunderous Kick. Their deck cannot really function with only one Gengar VMAX in play as GMAX swallow up prevents the Gengar from attacking next turn.

Gengar VMAX (271/264)

Because of this, they often need multiple Gengar VMAX, which just plays into your Thunderous Kick. Overall, I would feel confident if I were playing this deck against Gengar VMAX.

Rapid Strike Malamar

Against Rapid Strike Malamar, going second is incredibly important. While there is the risk they can chain knockouts from the second turn, their deck often struggles to set up without using Keep Calling or Brawly, which you can deny by letting them go first. After this, you do have to chain attacks with Galarian Moltres, which is difficult. The extra copies of Scoop Up Net and Inteleon SSH pull their weight in situations like these because they allow you to keep a constant stream of cards going while freeing up your supporter for Klara or Raihan. Overall, you must draw well to win this matchup, but it is doable.

 

Header - Wrapping Up

I believe this deck has a ton of potential in the current metagame. You hit both the front runners for weakness while still retaining a solid game plan against everything else. I hope you enjoy playing it and good luck for your future tournaments!

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