Hey everyone, it's me, Jack, back again for another article. This time I will be writing about what is, in my opinion, the best deck in standard right now. If you've been playing the online tournaments trying to qualify for the Players Cup II you will have ran into some variant of Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX/Zacian V. This deck is incredibly powerful and speeds up the pace of the game significantly with Altered Creation GX enabling you to take an extra prize card upon every knockout. Because of the strength of this deck, I have been playing it for a while now and I think I have come across a very strong decklist for this format.

 


The list:

Pokémon (12)

Trainers (37)

Energy (11)

3 Zacian V4 Professor’s Research9 Metal Energy
3 Dedenne GX4 Boss’s Orders2 Water Energy
2x Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX4x Quick Ball
1x Crobat V4x Cherish Ball
1x Mawile GX4x Pokémon Catcher
1x Oricorio GX4x Energy Switch
1x Oranguru SSH4 Metal Saucer

3 Switch

2 Air Balloon

2 Energy Spinner

2 Viridian Forest


You may recognize this list as like the one another Australian player, Christian Hasbani used to win one of the Hegster TCG tournaments a few weeks ago and this is right. When I was editing this list, I send a slightly rougher version to Christian beforehand and that list is the one he used to win the event, which I was pretty happy about since it showed that this list was going in the right direction. Since then, the 4th Zacian 4 was cut for an Oricorio GX and the 3rd and 4th Energy Spinners became 2 Viridian Forest. This was because the discard effect of Viridian Forest can help activate an early Metal Saucer both to increase the change of hitting a turn 1 Altered Creation GX and to gain value out of all of your Metal Saucers, something you need to do in certain matchups. The Oricorio GX was added to draw extra cards and draw further into your deck to achieve your win condition.



Deckbuilding for a win condition


    

The win condition this deck typically plays for is to use Altered Creation GX then knock out two of either Dedenne GX or Crobat V in the next two turns and take 6 prizes. Obviously, this is not the only win condition this deck has but it is the most common one. The pressure this deck places on the opposing deck by using Altered Creation GX will generally force any other deck to use these support Pokémon. If the bench these support Pokémon, most VMAX decks can knock out the Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX the turn after it uses Altered Creation GX. This adds another condition which needs to be fulfilled, the deck needs to be able to set up two attackers and gust and knock out two of either Dedenne GX or Crobat V in the next two turns. To accomplish this, all four metal saucers need to be used.

        

To consistently pull this off, you will usually have to draw your entire deck by turn four. The deck is built to accomplish this, with three Dedenne GX instead of the standard two and foregoing any supporter cards other than Professor's Research and Boss's Orders. This is because, with the game not lasting many turns, there isn't much room for other supporters to be played. These two supporters are also significantly ahead of every single other option in terms of power level. Professor's Research outclasses Clay by being less random and more consistent in drawing 7 cards every time while Boss's Orders directly contributes to the win condition of this deck.

        

This list also includes 1 Crobat V as well as 1 Oricorio to draw even more cards while using Dedechange. To complement this more aggressive approach, it was natural to include 4 Cherish Ball to increase the chances of having access to a draw Pokémon in the opening hand. The four energy search cards, two Energy Spinner and two Viridian Forest are there to find energy as consistently as possible, especially to see Water Energy on the first turn. Four Energy Switch is the card that activates the turn one Altered Creation GX going second, which is enough pressure to win a lot of games by itself. Oranguru SSH is also included to save any card from being discarded by Dedechange or Professor's Research, most notably Metal Saucer to increase the value gained out of that card. One interesting inclusion in this list which wasn't used much before was Pokémon Catcher. Even though this is a coin flip, the effect when heads are flipped can win the game on its own, because it allows a support Pokémon such as Dedenne GX or Crobat V to be brought into the active spot and a Professor's Research to be played in the same turn which digs further for more Metal Saucer. Because the effect of Pokémon Catcher isn't needed until slightly later (turn 2, 3, or 4) Oranguru SSH can be used to save them and play multiple in one turn, increasing the chance of a heads flip.

        

Mawile GX is also included because against Eternatus VMAX it can knock out a Crobat V while only using one Metal Saucer which significantly increases the efficiency of the deck. Mawile GX also has other purposes, it is a metal Pokémon that can be searched by Cherish Ball which can activate a Metal Saucer. The ability can also sometimes be game-winning if timed correctly. The only other non-standard card in this list would be the 9th Metal Energy which was included to increase the odds of having one to discard for Metal Saucer.

Notable Exclusions

Duraladon RCL


There are some changes to this current list which I see as very reasonable. The first edit would be removing the Oricorio GX for Duraladon RCL. Duraladon RCLis mainly a tech inclusion for Decidueye DAA decklists, which this deck can sometimes struggle against. With the format right now, I wouldn't make this change because I believe this current list can manage to be around 50/50 against Decidueye DAAdecklists. However, when Champions Path becomes legal for play in tournaments Altaria CPA will be a prominent part of the metagame. Having the same ability as Decidueye DAAbut being on a stage 1 Pokémon increases the need to play a non-GX or V Pokémon to get around this wall ability. Altaria CPA also has 110 hp, just 10 hp short of Oranguru SSH being able to take a one-hit knockout with Whap Down. Because of this, when Champions Path becomes tournament legal, I would play Duraladon RCL over Oricorio GX, but for now, I am sticking with the extra draw power provided by Dance of Tribute.

Marnie and Bills Analysis

    

This deck plays no alternate draw supporter because of the dominating strength of Professor's Research. Because of the high count of Dedenne GX, this list is usually able to find Professor's Research on the turns you need to play a draw supporter, and in almost every single situation Professor's Research fully outclasses Marnie and Bill's Analysis so neither card was deemed necessary.

Tool Scrapper


Tool Scrapper is extremely strong against Lucario & Melmetal GX decks but almost useless against every other matchup. If Lucario & Melmetal GX decks are popular I would recommend either removing Oricorio GX or the 9th Metal Energy for a Tool Scrapper. However, if the metagame remains as it is now, I'm not sure that Tool Scrapper is a necessary inclusion because of how useless it is against every other deck.

3rd Air Balloon


Removing the 3rd Switch for a 3rd Air Balloon is something I have been seriously thinking of for a little while now. In the early turns, Air Balloon is almost always a better card to draw than Switch. This is because the Pokémon you want in the active position is Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX. Every other Pokémon in your deck has a retreat cost of 2 or less, which makes Air Balloon enough to move it. The turns where switch is necessary are when an Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX are active or if you need to reset the Brave Blade of Zacian V. However, in the first case Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX can use Ultimate Ray or Altered Creation GX which are both fine uses of a turn. In the second case, if a Brave Blade is needed to be reset then you have used Brave Blade without your opponent being able to take a knockout which means you are a turn ahead. However, one reason to stay at 3 Switch is because of the threat of Tool Scrapper. But Air Balloon can serve its purpose as a switching card on the turn you play it.

Eldegoss V


While Eldegoss V might seem strong in this deck, it is often useless when playing. Usually, only 1 Boss's Orders is used per game so more than 4 is never needed. Bench space for this deck can also become an issue and it is difficult to justify playing an Eldegoss V over the third Dedenne GX, so it was omitted from the decklist.

Great Catcher


Great Catcher can be stronger than Pokémon Catcher in some situations. Discarding two cards is a more manageable drawback than flipping a coin which makes Great Catcher significantly more consistent. However, because Eternatus VMAX decks typically don't contain a single Pokémon GX, playing 4 Pokémon Catcher is the better option to increase the win percentage against that deck.

Crushing Hammer


I have seen a lot of decks, not just this one play 4 Crushing Hammer. I firmly believe that Crushing Hammer is a terrible inclusion in this deck, and I will explain why. Like I stated before, the win condition this deck has is to take 6 prizes as quickly as possible. While Crushing Hammer *can* help with that, the other cards that already are included accomplish this better. This is because the only turns in which Crushing Hammer is useful is turn 1 (if you go second) and sometimes turn 2. After this, Crushing Hammer is almost irrelevant even if you flip heads because they won't prevent an opponent from doing anything due to them already being ahead on a few attachments. Even on the turns in which it is good, Crushing Hammer might buy you a turn but that turn would most likely be lost because you had to remove consistency cards for the Crushing Hammers which makes the chance of your deck not drawing the switch card or the water energy necessary to use Altered Creation GX higher. While it might be tempting to remove Pokémon Catchers for Crushing Hammers that is a bad idea. This might seem like an okay option at first because they are both flip cards, but Pokémon Catcher is more useful on more turns, and the effect when you flip heads is better. Pokémon Catcher is most useful on the 3rd of 4th turns which makes it more likely to be able to play multiple at once which increases the chance of a heads flip. The card also directly plays into the win condition of knocking out support Pokémon, while Crushing Hammer barely does anything. Pokémon Catcher is also useful in the early turns to stall Pokémon with high retreat costs while you are setting up, increasing the value you get out of the card. Another reason to not play Crushing Hammer in this deck is that this deck will win against almost every other deck if it draws perfectly, so card slots should be used to focus on setting up and fulfilling the win condition rather than dedicating 4 card slots to a card which slows some opponents down only 50% of the time.



Matchup %s

Eternatus VMAX (65-35)

    

This matchup tends to be a prize race. Your main game plan is to knock out two Crobat V after using Altered Creation GX. One issue that can come up against this deck is that it is very likely to knock out Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX after Altered Creation GX is used, forcing you to see all of your Metal Saucers to take the two knockouts on Crobat Vs. In this matchup, you will need to use Professor's Research for the first few turns to see enough Metal Saucers to pull this game plan off. If you draw perfectly, you will always win against Eternatus VMAX which gives you a significant advantage in that matchup.

Lucario & Melmetal GX/Zacian V (40-60) (60-40 with Tool Scrapper)

    

Lucario & Melmetal GX is a matchup where your usual game plan can get punished easily. If they can Full Metal Wall GX the turn after you used Altered Creation GX you are put at a significant disadvantage because of how important Ultimate Ray is to win the matchup. Because of this, it is often correct to start this matchup by attacking with Zacian V to try and bait a Full Metal Wall GX out of the opponent. After this, you want to use Altered Creation GX and use Ultimate Ray to power up multiple attackers. Getting one knockout before using Altered Creation GX is also a fine play because if you knock out the Lucario and Melmetal GX you can knock out a Zacian V after Altered Creation GX to take the last 3 prizes. The way you will lose this matchup is by your opponent preventing you from taking one hit knockouts on opposing Zacian Vs because of Metal Goggles and Full Metal Wall GX. Tool Scrapper is a strong card in this matchup because it allows you to knock out a Zacian V in one attack which is not normally possible. If Lucario & Melmetal GX decks are prevalent, I would recommend including a Tool Scrapper because it swings this matchup from unfavored to favor, but it is still winnable without.

Centiskorch VMAX (65-35) (45-55 when up against a Green's Exploration build)

    

Centiskorch VMAX is an interesting matchup to think about because the deck varies widely depending on whether the Centiskorch VMAX deck can go second. This is because the Flare Starter attack from Volcanion UNB is very important for consistently being able to knock out Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX on the second turn. If possible, opting to go second against Centiskorch VMAX will help you win a lot, even if you don't get Altered Creation GX on the first turn it still forces them to draw multiple Welder to knock out Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX instead of the single Welder they need in combination with Flare Starter. This is even more true for the version of Centiskorch VMAX which plays Green's Exploration because if that deck goes first it cannot do anything. Green's Exploration decks all heavily rely on going second so if you can deny this option it helps you win against them easily. However, in the Players Cup II qualifiers, it is best of one with closed decklists, so you cannot reliably force a Centiskorch VMAX deck to go second. Against specifically the Greens Exploration build when they go second, you can try and knock out the Centiskorch V they used Flare Starter to with a Brave Blade on the second turn. After this, if they commit a second attachment to a Volcanion UNB to knock out a Zacian V they won't be able to get six energy on a Centiskorch VMAX the turn after. This lets you freely Altered Creation GX and two hit knockout a Centiskorch VMAX for your last 4 prize cards. This line of play can become riskier against the version without Green's Exploration because of the presence of Heatran GX which can easily knock out a Zacian V and then knock out an Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX the next turn. Against the ability version, the game plan is often to use Altered Creation GX on the second turn then knock out two support Pokémon. The matchup against both variants ends up being very tempo heavy, so it is recommended to try and see as many cards as possible, like the Eternatus VMAX matchup.

Inteleon VMAX (70-30)

    

Inteleon VMAX is like other VMAX matchups, in that your main win condition is to knock out two support Pokémon However, this one is easier for you to win against because Inteleon VMAX cannot knock out Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX on the second turn. This gives you another route which you can take to win this matchup, which is to knock out an Inteleon VMAX in two attacks and then knock out any other Pokemon for the last 2 prizes. Overall, you can lose this matchup with a slow start, but it is typically very favored for Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX.

Decidueye/Obstagoon (55-45) (75-25 With Duraladon RCL)

    

While Decidueye/Obstagoon might seem like a struggle, it is manageable to win, even without Duraladon RCL. Usually, a Decidueye will not be put into play before a Rosa is used. Because of this, you can get a free knockout on a small Pokémon to trigger the Rosa. This puts you at 4 Prizes remaining. After this happens, the Decidueye opponent will have to use Scoop Up Net to remove a Jirachi or a second Rowlett, which you can re bench using Mawile GX and knock out with a Pokémon Catcher or a Boss's Orders. After this, you can play two Energy Switch and two hit knockout a Decidueye with Whap Down from Oranguru. While that might seem like a lot, you have several turns to draw this because Decidueye has very little damage output, so you can use Intrepid Sword several times. With Duraladon RCL this matchup becomes significantly easier because it can one-hit knockout Decidueye and can be powered up with Metal Saucer. Overall, this matchup is slightly favored but becomes significantly favored with Duraladon RCL.

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX/Zacian (50-50)

    

While the mirror match is obviously 50-50, I still wanted to explain some lines you can take since the way you play this matchup differs significantly whether you go first or second. If you go first you can try to not put down any Dedenne GX or Crobat V to prevent an ultimate ray knocking them out for three prize cards. You also can play around Mawile GX in several ways, from placing a Dedenne GX on top with Oranguru and not using Intrepid Sword to using Viridian Forest to discard those GX Pokémon, there are ways to easily play around an opposing Mawile GX. Timing Captivating Wink is very important to the mirror match. Usually, using it after an opponent uses Intrepid Sword or takes several prize cards is the correct time because several random cards just got added to your opponent's hand, some of which could be basic Pokémon. Generally, the first player to take a knockout is heavily favored to win the mirror match so bench management is extremely important. When going second, however, your strategy varies widely depending on your opening hand. Sometimes it is correct to aggressively draw for the turn one Altered Creation GX to try and gain the lost turn over your opponent. If possible you want to take a slow game where you don't bench any easy targets but if your opponent can do the same you will always lose so the possibility of a turn one Altered Creation GX is very important. One strategy which I have found myself doing more often than I expected is to forego Altered Creation GX entirely. If you can get a turn one knockout on a two prize Pokémon with Brave Blade, then it is correct to not use Altered Creation GX. If you use Altered Creation GX after this, you will still need to attack twice to take the remaining four prize cards. This is the same as using two more Brave Blades on two 2 prize Pokémon. While winning without Altered Creation GX can be difficult, it is sometimes the correct line to go for when going second because if pulled off, you will win one turn faster than the player going first. Overall, the way you play the mirror match can either be passive or aggressive and is generally decided on your opening hand.



Thoughts on the future


Looking ahead to the release of Champions Path and even Vivid Voltage this deck still appears to be incredibly strong. Being able to go into a tournament and having no deck which can consistently win against you is a very attractive quality in a deck and the speed and strength of Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX/Zacian V makes it able to deal with most off the wall decks as well. Once Champions Path becomes tournament legal, I will be adding Duraladon RCL to my list for the Players Cup II Qualifiers because of Altaria. However, only time will tell if that inclusion is necessary, but it seems good enough to include at least for now.

Thank you for reading my thoughts on this deck and you can follow my twitter @mackjillartcg where I will be posting updates on how my run through the qualifier is going, see you next time!