The Dark (Ice?) Horse of Standard – Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX

Hello ChannelFireball readers! I hope you’ve all been well since my last article. Personally, I just placed Top 64 at Indy Regionals with Arceus/Beedrill after working on the deck with Isaiah Bradner (who finished second place) and others in our testing group. I’m happy to pick up another solid Day 2 finish, especially considering that all of us who played the deck finished in Top 64 or better, including Regan Retzloff who won the Senior Division!

Otherwise, I have been extremely busy finishing up my junior year at University of Illinois. After a few busy weeks, I can safely say that I am 100 percent done! Now I can focus my time on relaxing over the summer, working my internship and most importantly, Pokemon. I’ll be at almost all of the remaining North American tournaments, so hopefully I can crack my way into T32 on the rankings to secure the automatic Day 2 invite for the World Championships.

Arceus VSTAR is hot off a win in Indianapolis and is the clear single best card in format. Arceus variants made up 75 percent of the Top 32 in Indianapolis, which rivals numbers of Garbodor GRI at Seattle Regionals 2017. Amongst them, there were Galarian birds, Beedrill, Dark package, Water and even Corviknight! In any case, consistently dealing 180 damage on turn two is pretty good. It’s even better when it can be paired with Choice Belt and Galarian Zigzagoon to Knock Out an opposing Arceus V

One Pokemon VMAX that has been strong since its release is Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. For only two Energy, you can deal 250 damage! Combined with Choice Belt, this is enough damage to OHKO Arceus VSTAR. With Leon, you can OHKO Malamar VMAX and Mew VMAX, or an Arceus VSTAR with a Big Charm. Nathalia Fernandes wrote about a version of Ice Rider Calyrex with Arceus VSTAR a few weeks ago; I encourage you to check out her article on that variant too.

Ice Rider Calyrex fell out of popularity with the release of Fusion Strike and Mew VMAX. Even with Path to the Peak, Mew could usually find the Stadium in time and put on enough pressure to win the game. This was also before the release of Choice Belt, so Ice Rider Calyrex could not OHKO Mew at the time. Now that the meta has stabilized towards Arceus variants, Ice Rider Calyrex once again can pivot back into the meta as the Arceus killer.




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

##Pokémon - 18

* 1 Crobat V DAA 104
* 4 Ice Rider Calyrex V CRE 45
* 1 Lumineon V BRS 40
* 4 Sobble CRE 41
* 3 Drizzile SSH 56
* 2 Inteleon SSH 58
* 3 Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX CRE 46

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 3 Path to the Peak CRE 148
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 3 Level Ball NXD 89
* 2 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 2 Capacious Bucket RCL 156
* 2 Marnie SSH 169
* 2 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 2 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 3 Melony CRE 146
* 2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 1 Leon VIV 154
* 1 Raihan EVS 152
* 2 Professor's Research SHF 60
* 1 Tool Scrapper DRX 116
* 1 Pal Pad FLF 92
* 3 Ultra Ball DEX 102
* 1 Escape Rope PLS 120

##Energy - 7

* 7 Water Energy SWSHEnergy 3

Total Cards - 60

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



There are a few reasons why Ice Rider Calyrex is in a good spot. First, Mew variants are on the decline, or at the very least, are not being played by the top players as frequently as other decks. This means that even though the matchup is unfavorable, you may be able to outplay the average player and pick up a win. You have Path to the Peak, which always adds some probability of winning purely because they cannot set up.

Second, Mew decks are back to not worrying about Path to the Peak as much. In the first tournaments, Mew was primarily concerned with Path to the Peak as the #1 counter to its game plan. Cautious players included three or four Stadiums in their lists for these tournaments. Since EUIC, quite frankly the Darkness-type package is the way to go for countering Mew. This game plan does not rely on chance and makes great use of the Inteleon engine in finding pieces for a Knock Out. Now, almost all Mew lists play two Stadiums. 

Finally, Ice Rider Calyrex is somewhat unexpected. The surprise factor isn’t everything, but it certainly is something when your opponent doesn’t know what’s in your deck. Most players may have practiced their reps against the main decks: Arceus, Mew, Urshifu and Whimsicott, but be relatively unprepared against Ice Rider Calyrex because it has been cycled out of the meta.


Header - Basic Strategy

Ice Rider Calyrex V (TG14/TG30)Sobble (041/198)Crobat V (104/189)Melony (TG26/TG30)

Going first, you want an Ice Rider Calyrex V and one or two Sobble in play. Energy attachments are very important with this deck, and you may want to consider using Crobat V to dig for that Energy. With three copies of Melony, you can realistically use that to attack on turn two even after missing the attack. However, you typically want to build up Energy such that you can use Boss’s Orders or Leon on a pivotal turn to swing the game. If you’re always falling behind on Energy, then you can’t use Leon to OHKO Mew VMAX. Keep that in mind when you fully clear off the Energy from an active Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX.

Sobble (041/198)Drizzile (056/202)Inteleon (058/202)

The Inteleon engine serves its purpose of tiding over consistency and allowing immediate access to crucial Trainer cards. A 4-3-2 line is standard right now, with the fourth Drizzile being put towards an additional Ball search card. There are two Shady Dealings Inteleon and zero Quick Shooting Inteleon. Shady Dealings is much more important in this deck. You always need to find the right pieces on each turn of the game to keep pace, and Shady Dealings helps you do just that.

Your math is already augmented enough by Choice Belt and Leon. The only time you’d need to reach 330 damage is to Knock Out Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, but they can use G-Max Rapid Flow on your Drizzile, blocking off the route for Quick Shooting. Quick Shooting has niche use in other matchups and is very strong against Malamar. but I’ve found the second copy of Shady Dealings Inteleon to be more useful.

At some point, you may want to attack with Inteleon and force the opponent to take more than six Prizes. The most common way to do this is through VMAX -> Inteleon -> VMAX, which sums to seven Prize cards. The greatest challenge when forcing this pattern is making the opponent goes through the second Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. Don’t put another Ice Rider Calyrex V in play because the opponent can take the final two Prize cards from that. You can also do this if they’ve Knocked out a Sobble, which will be eight Prize cards taken! However, the opponent could get around the Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX and Knock Out a Sobble/Drizzile/Inteleon, which makes this much less likely to pull off. If you saved your Scoop Up Net correctly, you could maybe pull this off.

Echoing Horn can completely dismantle the seven-Prize game. Unlike Arceus variants, you don’t play many non-V Basic Pokemon which can fill up the Bench.


Header - Matchup Specifics


The coin flip is very important against Arceus. If you go first, you should plan for the turn two Knock Out with Boss’s Orders. If you can remove their Arceus V with an Energy, you force them to use Raihan, and then you can very easily Knock Out their Arceus VSTAR with Choice Belt + Tool Scrapper/Leon if they have Big Charm. Then, they will either use another Arceus VSTAR or Galarian Moltres, which you can easily get through using Inteleon or another Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. 

Going second can be a bit more of a challenge because the opponent attacks first. You’ll want to split Energies amongst two Ice Rider Calyrex V so that you aren’t forced to Melony after one is Knocked Out. From there, you can aim to OHKO two Arceus VSTAR in a row with Melony. You’ll then have two Prize cards remaining and the opponent one if they were able to Knock Out the Ice Rider Calyrex V. From here, you’ll need to use another Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX and hope to dodge Boss’s Orders. If you can survive that turn, you can take your final Prize on the following turn. 

Path to the Peak should be played on your second turn going first and on your first turn going second. This always corresponds to immediately before the opponent’s second turn. You’ll want to avoid playing it unnecessarily when going first because you can then use Quick Ball for Lumineon V on your second turn to dig for the optimal Knock Out. One caveat to this is that you allow your opponent to use their own Crobat V, if they play it, which can let them dig deeper into the deck.


This matchup comes down to if Path to the Peak sticks. If you’re unable to stick Path to the Peak, Mew will be able to overrun you quickly. You need to prioritize putting Path to the Peak in play as soon as possible, even if that means using Crobat V and Lumineon V to get there. Realistically, you’ll be using Melony or Raihan on most turns to keep up with the opponent’s aggression. Inteleon is a great attacker against Meloetta or in damaging a Mew VMAX before cleaning up with an Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. If you had poked it with the VMAX, then they could use Psychic Leap, setting up a Knock Out on your VMAX for the following turn. If you had used Inteleon, the damage from Psychic Leap is wasted because it could have been Knocked Out immediately anyway.

Oricorio is a problem because your max damage output of 310 is now reduced to 290, which is not enough to Knock Out Mew VMAX. If you have the opportunity, use Ride of the High King to Knock Out Oricorio as soon as possible. This sets up for a 1+3+2 Prize sequence on Oricorio, Mew VMAX and Genesect V. You’ll have to be mindful of Meloetta because once you Knock Out the Oricorio, the opponent is incentivized to use Meloetta so that you must Knock Out three additional Pokemon, not two. 


This is your easiest matchup. Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX does 250 damage with ease, which is the perfect amount to Knock out Whimsicott VSTAR. All you have to do is make sure you have an out to Melony via Drizzile or Inteleon each turn and an Ice Rider Calyrex to attack with. In a few short turns the game will end.


The Urshifu matchup isn’t amazing, but not super bad either, because Ice Rider Calyrex cannot OHKO Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX. Your plan should be to use Marnie and Boss’s Orders to disrupt the opponent as much as possible. Try not to keep two Sobble/Drizzile on the Bench to play around G-Max Rapid Flow. Path to the Peak doesn’t do anything against their deck, so you shouldn’t put it in play in case you can find use for Crobat V or Lumineon V

Some tech cards that would improve this matchup are Avery, Galarian Zigzagoon and Manaphy. Avery is another means of disrupting the opponent’s set up, especially on the second or third turn of the game. This also prevents the opponent from overplaying onto their board, which they might do knowing you have Marnie. Galarian Zigzagoon could be useful because it is a from-the-hand means of dealing 20 damage to Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX. Quick Shooting Inteleon is unreliable because the opponent could G-Max Rapid Flow any Drizzile in play. Manaphy is useful for the obvious reason in protecting against G-Max Rapid Flow. Without sniping, the matchup improves heavily because you both trade evenly. Remember that Cheryl can undo a full turn of attacking, so don’t discard both Energies without picking up a Knock Out.


Header - Conclusion

Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is a dark horse (ice horse?) pick going into the upcoming Regionals. With the right matchups, you can catapult yourself to a strong record on Day 2. It is a deck that can win the event, meaning that your matchups will continue to improve the deeper you get into the tournament. Although your matchups against Urshifu and Mew are not as favorable as others, your Arceus matchup is one of the strongest.

Good luck at any upcoming Regionals/SPEs that you are attending! I will be at the last few North American ones and NAIC, so feel free to say hi at anytime if you see me!

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