Know Your Enemy is a series of deck guides that focus not on how to play a specific deck, but how to counter it. This way, if you keep losing against a deck or feel that it’s unbeatable, you can get some tips that will help you improve your win rate. When I started this series, I asked for suggestions on which decks to cover and one of the first I got was Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX / Zacian V. This is not surprising: ADP / Zacian is probably the most hated deck of the format and maybe of all time, although that might be an overstatement. There are many tournaments that have been organized in the “Standard without ADP” format and I believe that being free of ADP was also one of the reasons why people were attracted to the Sword & Shield-on format, at least initially. These tournaments, in fact, got so popular that I delayed writing this article because major events were being played without ADP, so tips to get better against ADPZ weren’t as necessary as before!
- Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX Cosmic Eclipse / Zacian V Sword & Shield
- Blacephalon Unbroken Bonds
- Control Decks
- Eternatus VMAX Darkness Ablaze
- Pikachu & Zekrom-GX Team Up
However, ADP has been re-introduced to the metagame with the release of Battle Styles at most events so far – it’s been the most played deck. While I believe that ADPZ gets worse with every new set release, it’s still good and a generally safe deck to play for newcomers to the competitive scene due to being quite easy to play, so you must expect to play against it at most events. Therefore, it’s a good time for this article!
ADPZ is a fast and aggressive deck that seeks to take six Prizes as quickly as possible, usually by targeting weak Pokemon on the Bench. The deck aims to use Altered Creation GX on turn one or two (using Metal Saucer plus Energy Switch as Energy acceleration to get two Energy on Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX as soon as turn one), follow it up with Ultimate Ray to damage or KO a Pokemon and get Energy in play on a Zacian V and then keep taking Prizes from there.
ADPZ can win the game in three turns. Altered Creation on one, Ultimate Ray on a Dedenne-GX (or another two-Prize Pokemon with 180 HP or fewer) on two and Ultimate Ray or Brave Blade on another such Pokemon on three. The insane extra effect of Altered Creation GX means that these KOs on two-Prize Pokemon will get you three Prizes each, so only two are needed to win the game.
Is this scenario realistic? It’s on the more optimistic side, but ADPZ plays a lot of ways to achieve such a game plan. It runs high amounts of Energy Spinner, Energy Switch and Metal Saucer to get the turn one Altered Creation going second, along with Dedenne-GX and Crobat V for draw power. This deck doesn’t care about filling its Bench with support Pokemon, as the short-term value they offer is incredible in a deck that doesn’t need to plan for the long term.
It also plays four Boss’s Orders and Great Catcher, plus Eldegoss V, to make sure it can target the Bench and some lists have added Escape Rope to their arsenal as well. If you have a Dedenne-GX and a Crobat V on your Bench, it’s likely that you’ll lose the game because ADPZ will take their six Prizes off them, no matter what attacker you’re using. And even if you don’t bench these Pokemon, ADPZ can force you to do so with Mawile-GX!
As an example, here’s the list that Alexandre Braga used to win the first tournament of Hegster’s fourth season with 371 players: