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The Ultimate Palkia VSTAR Bible

What’s up everyone! It’s Isaiah here, back after a crazy month or so to talk about my run at Milwaukee and NAIC and the deck I decided to play for both events: Palkia VSTAR / Inteleon. I’ll talk through my preparation for each event, why I decided on the list I did and my thoughts on the deck going forward. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

For about a month before Milwaukee, I spent all of my time trying to find the “broken” deck. Unfortunately, no deck that I tried could stand up to the trio of Palkia, Arceus and Mew. So, after all of my testing, I concluded that a version of one of these decks had to be the best play.

Mew VMAX was eliminated quickly, as it gave us far less control over the outcome of the game than the other decks did. While it had a high power level (not many decks could beat a turn one Melodious Echo), each game was decided almost completely on the back of your draws.

Deciding between Palkia and Arceus was a little more difficult, but ultimately, Palkia seemed to be the obvious choice. Even when Arceus played techs like Lightning Energy and Raikou V, Palkia was still favored because of its ability to out-tempo Arceus if it went first and out-trade it through Echoing Horn. Palkia also had a better matchup against mew, which was a deck that we expected to be popular.

Additionally, because Palkia can one-shot decks, it has a ton of comeback potential whenever you don’t find a Palkia V on turn one. Arceus, however, almost always falls behind whenever they don’t get Arceus V + Energy on turn one.

So, Palkia it was! After trying out a bunch of different lists (and staying up until 4 a.m. the night before to decide on the final card), this is the Palkia list I settled on.

 

 

Header - The Deck List

PTCGO Code

Pokémon (17)
3 Sobble CRE 41
3 Drizzile SSH 56
1 Inteleon SSH 58
3 Origin Forme Palkia V ASR 39
3 Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR ASR 40
1 Mew CEL 11
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
1 Manaphy BRS 41

Trainer (36)
2 Professor's Research BRS 147
1 Boss's Orders BRS 132
1 Roxanne ASR 150
1 Marnie CPA 56
1 Melony CRE 146
4 Cross Switcher FST 230
4 Quick Ball FST 237
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
3 Level Ball BST 129
3 Evolution Incense SSH 163
3 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
2 Capacious Bucket RCL 156
1 Pal Pad SSH 172
1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
1 Echoing Horn CRE 136
1 Choice Belt BRS 135
2 Path to the Peak CRE 148
1 Training Court RCL 169

Energy (7)
7 Water Energy 3

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This list used a heavy-VIP Pass and Research engine to aggressively set up at the beginning of the game. I finished 7-1-1 on Day 1, only losing to an Arceus / Jolteon deck that locked me out of the game.

Day 2, however, didn’t go as well as I wanted. I bricked multiple Game 3s, was one turn short of winning the game when we went to time and ended up going 2-2-1 to finish 9-3-2, 20th place.

After a mediocre performance that weekend, it was back to the drawing board for NAIC. I still really liked Palkia as a deck but wasn’t sure if there was something better out there. However, once again, none of the unique ideas we tried out had potential. 

Thursday morning, our last consideration was a Palkia deck with a 2-2 Ice Rider to help with the mirror matchup. But after it began losing to Irida Palkia consistently, we scrapped that as well.

At around 5 p.m. on Thursday, we drafted the first Palkia/Inteleon/Irida list that we would seriously play. At first, we had only one Battle VIP Pass and a Capture Energy, but we soon noticed that we would lose a lot of games to going first and not having a way to get Palkia down or to only opening Irida and not a Bucket or VIP Pass. We then decided to base our list on the list we played in Milwaukee. We kept the lessons we had learned from our months of testing with the other list (you only need three Sobble and Palkia V when you play Heavy Ball, three Scoop Up Net is necessary, Echoing Horn is too good against Arceus and mirror not to play, Marnie is needed to have a good mirror, Pal Pad is broken) but dropped consistency cards for four Irida and a third Capacious Bucket. We weren’t as worried about Mew for this event, and testing had shown that it was still a favorable matchup even with only one Path, so we eventually cut the second Path for a flex spot. This spot rotated between five or six cards throughout the night, and eventually, it was decided as Tool Scrapper. Way too late in the morning on Friday, my friends and I finally went to sleep.

And the rest is history! I finished 7-1-1 on day one and then went 4-1-1 on Day 2 to head into top cut at sixth seed with a record of 11-2-2. I proceeded to then beat Gustavo in top eight, Brian Kim in top four and ultimately lost in the finals to Azul GG.

I am confident that the Palkia list that I brought was the best list for the event, and remains the right way to play Palkia going forward. Not only did I get second, but two out of three other people who made the deck also got top 16. If you ask me, that’s a pretty insane conversion rate.

Now that you understand how I arrived at the deck, let’s get into the list and counts themselves. Here is the final list that I played at NAIC.

PTCGO Code

Pokémon (16)
3 Origin Forme Palkia V ASR 39
3 Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR ASR 40
3 Sobble CRE 41
3 Drizzile SSH 56
1 Inteleon SSH 58
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
1 Manaphy BRS 41
1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117

Trainer (37)
4 Irida ASR 147
1 Melony CRE 146
1 Boss's Orders BRS 132
1 Marnie CPA 56
1 Roxanne ASR 150
4 Cross Switcher FST 230
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
3 Quick Ball FST 237
3 Evolution Incense SSH 163
3 Capacious Bucket RCL 156
3 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
2 Level Ball BST 129
1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
1 Pal Pad SSH 172
1 Echoing Horn CRE 136
1 Tool Scrapper RCL 168
1 Choice Belt BRS 135
1 Training Court RCL 169
1 Path to the Peak CRE 148

Energy (7)
7 Water Energy 3

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Header - Card Choices

Three Sobble, Three Drizzile and One Inteleon

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

Three Sobble, while kind of sketchy on paper, is totally fine. This deck has a tight bench because of Greninja, Manaphy and Zigzagoon so you can only realistically bench two Sobble anyways. Because of that, the third (and especially fourth) Sobbles don’t get used. Sometimes I can bench the third near the end of the game, but it very rarely comes up that you need the fourth Sobble.

I have never found Quick Shooting Inteleon to be worth the slot. Zigzagoon is so much less work to use and doesn’t take away from your Shady Dealings potential like Quick Shooting does. Because this deck rarely needs to take advantage of multiple turns of Quick Shooting, the card is just a harder-to-use Zigzagoon.

The rest of the Pokemon line is fairly standard. Three Palkia V is fine thanks to Hisuian Heavy Ball, Greninja is just insane and Manaphy is needed to defend from your opponent’s Greninjas.

Four Irida

Irida (204/189)

I was wrong about Irida, the card is absolutely broken. It’s Brigette on turn one, a great setup supporter in the middle of the game and Guzma to close out the game, all at once! There’s so much to love about this card, and there should be four copies in everyone’s Palkia deck.

One Marnie

Marnie (169/202)

Marnie was essential to winning many of my games throughout this weekend. Often against mirror and Arceus/Inteleon, they will try to play with a low bench and only bench one Sobble to prevent you from getting one-shots with Subspace Swell. If they try to do this, you can heavily punish them with Marnie. You can Cross Switcher their Sobble/Drizzile, Marnie and destroy their setup.

Marnie also makes it a lot harder for your opponent to set up “checkmate” scenarios. For instance, without Marnie, you don’t have any hand disruption other than Roxanne, so in the mirror, your opponent can leave your Palkia at 260 or 270 damage and then take four prize cards in one turn to win the game. Finally, Marnie is really good against any deck that tries to build their hand up and needs a lot of cards in hand (Mewtwo V Union, Dialga VSTAR and more)

One Melony

Melony (218/198)

Everyone knows that Melony is good in this deck but there has been debate over how many you should play. One? Two? In my testing, one Melony and one Pal Pad was the perfect count. Ideally, you’ll play Irida every turn of the game and never need Melony thanks to Star Portal, However, in games where you use Radiant Greninja or miss attachments, Melony can save the day! Because you don’t need it every game, one is the correct count, and as mentioned before, you can use Pal Pad if you need another.

Four Battle VIP Pass

Battle VIP Pass (225/264)

When building this deck, we valued one thing above all else: consistency. We realized that Palkia won almost all of the games that the deck was able to play in, even if you didn’t get an amazing start. Playing four Battle VIP Pass was the easiest way to increase your chances of setting up on the first turn, and with that, the number of games you can win. Yes, Battle VIP Pass is bad in your hand later in the game, but at that point, Irida, Greninja, Drizzle and Inteleon will find you whatever you need.

Four Cross Switcher

Cross Switcher (230/264)

Cross Switcher is the reason the Irida engine (and this deck) is so good. Being able to set up your hand while also gusting up your opponent’s benched Pokemon is insane. Cross Switcher is also great because it makes it so easy to win off of a late-game Roxanne. Near the end of the game, generally, all you need to win is a Boss’s Orders and one more combo piece (Energy, Evolution, etc). Whenever your deck plays four Irida and plenty of outs to Drizzile and Inteleon, making any of those cards outs to game is so good.

Three Scoop Up Net

Scoop Up Net (207/192)

I seriously do not understand how people play this deck with only two Scoop Up Net. Resetting Drizzile and Inteleon is how the deck draws cards and sets up for combo plays. Having a third Scoop Up Net allows you the freedom to use one early to move a Pokemon, get a combo piece you need or combat bad prize cards. Scoop Up Net can also be an extra 10 damage from Zigzagoon. I would go so far as to say the third Scoop Up Net might be the best card in the deck and should be in every list.

One Echoing Horn

Echoing Horn (225/198)

This card is nearly a staple in Palkia lists, but just in case you were wondering, it’s worth the slot. Echoing Horn will win you games against any decks that have weak V Pokemon (mainly Arceus), and is good as a +20 damage in many other situations. It also allows you to take an extra prize card for free against Miltank decks (you can horn a non-Miltank card and then KO it) and can stick Mew with a full bench slot so they can’t use Pumpkaboo. Finally, it can set you up for cool combo plays in the mirror matchup and against decks that can’t heal. You put their VMAX/VSTAR within 10 to 20 damage of being KO’d, then Zigzagoon KO them the next turn, Echoing Horn their V back and Boss KO it. In a deck that has as much access to every card as this one does, this card can shine.

Pal Pad

Pal Pad (172/202)

We knew that we wanted an option to use Melony twice in a game, we just weren’t sure if that slot should be a second Melony or a Pal Pad. Through testing, we found it was much more relevant to be able to use a second Boss and Marnie through Pal Pad than it was to have the convenience of the second Melony. It was especially important to Pal Pad back a Boss’s Orders if you Prized a Cross Switcher and needed to close the game or wanted to make a single Drizzile an out to the game off of Roxanne. Overall, this deck has more than enough search through Inteleon pieces, so I never had a problem finding Melony if I wanted to use it twice.

Tool Scrapper

Tool Scrapper (208/192)

Scrapper was the 60th card we put in the deck, and was included for a couple of different matchups. First off, my only loss in Milwaukee that wasn’t to dead drawing was to Jolteon, so we wanted an out to beat that matchup. Scrapper didn’t work with Research, but whenever you could Irida for it, it was a legitimate possibility that you could find it. Scrapper was also amazing against Arceus/Inteleon to discard Big Charm, a matchup we expected to see a lot of. Finally, Scrapper was just a good card in general and could be used on Tool Jammer in the mirror or Choice Belt against Mew VMAX. While the card was great for me at this event, it is the most cuttable card in the list, and if you wanted to tech for a different matchup, this is where you would find the room.

Training Court

Training Court (282/264)

Please, stop playing Temple of Sinnoh over this card. While you would think that Star Portal could fulfill all of your Energy needs, if you end up having to use Concealed Cards multiple times in a game, you can easily run out. That’s where Training Court comes in. It gives you the extra energy attachment you need to close out the game, and also is extra insurance against Roxanne from your opponent. There were multiple rounds where I extended to put Training Court into play because I knew that my opponent only played Training Court themselves or likely wouldn’t be able to counter it. Finally, you can occasionally run out of Capacious Bucket with this deck, so having a guaranteed way to Inteleon for Energy at the end of the game is important.

 

Header - Matchups and How It Plays

Now that I’ve gone over the thought process for each card, let’s get into how this deck plays.

  • If you go first, you want to start Palkia V. If you go second, you want to start anything but Palkia V (ideally Sobble, Manaphy or Zigzagoon) so that your opponent can’t KO your Palkia V before you get to attack.
  • The #1 priority on turn one is to get down a Palkia V and Sobble while not having a dead hand. Past that, getting down a second Sobble and Greninja is just a bonus
  • Try to get maximum value from your VSTAR however you can. It may seem like using it for one extra Energy won’t make a difference, but it often does.

Mew VMAX: 60-40

I went undefeated against Mew VMAX in sets with Palkia between the two tournaments, and while Mew can steal games, Palkia is definitely favored. Make sure to full bench so you play around Echoing Horn, and Evolve Palkia V at any chance you get. If you can, chase the first Fusion Energy they put on the board, because then they’ll struggle to KO two Palkia VSTAR. If the game is still close at the end, Path + Roxanne should be able to buy you the time you need to win. Here are just a few of the game plans you can use:

  • Hit a Mew VMAX, Greninja a Mew VMAX and a Meloetta and Subspace Swell a Genesect V for the game.
  • Hit a Mew VMAX, Greninja two Mew VMAX, Subspace Swell the damaged Mew VMAX for game
  • KO three two prize Pokemon for game

Arceus/Pikachu: 50-50

This matchup is extremely close and usually comes down to how good each player’s opening hand is. Some things to remember in this matchup is that you should always Star Portal on the turn that you play down your Training Court because otherwise Path to the Peak will be locked in play and you won’t be able to ever use it. The scariest part of the matchup is if they get a fresh Pikachu VMAX, so do whatever you can to prevent that from happening. Finally, remember Hydro Break is an attack, because it can often be your route to victory. Here are the lines I typically take:

  • Greninja a Pikachu VMAX and Bidoof, Subspace Swell a Pikachu VMAX, Subspace Swell something for the last two Prize cards
  • Greninja two VMAXs, Subspace Swell them for your six Prizes
  • Subspace Swell three two Prize Pokemon

Arceus/Inteleon: 60-40

Thankfully, this Arceus deck does not play anything to hit us for Weakness, so it’s fairly easy for us. Their main strategy is to keep their bench low and only bench one Sobble – unfortunately for them, we have a lot of Boss’s Orders. If they only bench one Sobble and I can’t OHKO an Arceus V then I almost always chase the Sobble. If they don’t bench another Sobble then I Marnie them (and almost always brick them) and if they do I’ll chase it again. Thanks to Echoing Horn, it’s very reasonable to KO one Arceus in the early game, kill two Sobble and then Echoing Horn an Arceus V and Hydro Break it. Honestly, as long as you consistently attack in this matchup and get one OHKO on a V Pokemon, you should always come out ahead.

Palkia Mirror: 50-50

I don’t know how to describe this matchup, as it’s different every game. The big strategic points are to limit your bench in the early game, make sure you bench Manaphy, and play around Roxanne if you can. My honest opinion on how to best learn this matchup is to go and watch the mirror matches that were played this weekend to see if you can learn anything from them, and then just play the matchup. The more you play, the better you’ll be.

 

Header - Conclusion

Palkia VSTAR has proven itself as the best deck in the format, and this list is the best way to play the deck, with Scrapper being a flex spot. Even with the release of Pokemon GO, this deck is still just as powerful, and looks primed to take its first worlds win this august.

I hope you all learned something from this article, I think it was one of the best articles I’ve ever written. As always, if you have a question message me on Twitter @IsaiahBradner or leave a comment down below!

Until next time, stay safe everyone!

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