The Turn 3 Win — Post-Rotation Zacian V / Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX

Hello everyone! Now that Darkness Ablaze prereleases are around the corner, we can take a more thorough look at the post-rotation format. In my last article, I went over how some of the current meta decks will have to change and adapt to the rotation. Now, it’s time to delve a bit deeper and take a closer look at the decks that the post-rotation meta will likely consist of.

Darkness Ablaze comes full of neat new viable cards, including Eternatus VMAX and Centiskorch VMAX, among others. In my testing however, there is one deck in particular that has been the defining deck of the initial Darkness Ablaze meta. Despite the excitement of the new set, this deck isn’t new at all; it’s the same combo that has been strong since it was released: Zacian V and Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX.

Zacian V / Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX

At this point, Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX is a pretty well-known concept. I’ve written about Zacian V / Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX a few times now, but I have never felt it to be as dominant as it is post-rotation. Other decks may have slowed down with the rotation, but Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX was almost certain to continue to be a competitive deck, even before any changes from Darkness Ablaze. Add in the various gains that the deck has gained from Darkness Ablaze and the deck has gone from strong to completely overpowered. What used to be a consistent turn 2 Altered Creation GX (with possible counterplay) has turned into an easily obtainable turn 1 Altered Creation GX that is practically impossible to prevent. Between the addition of Crobat V and the slowdown of many other meta decks, everything seems to have gone right for Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX. The idea of a turn 3 win is absurd, but with this deck, it is very probable. Zacian V / Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX is easily among the fastest Standard decks that I have ever seen, and I have no doubt that it will be remembered as such. The strategy is naturally robust; barring the printing of something like Pokémon Ranger, it is difficult to see how exactly this deck would be pushed out of the meta prior to the 2021-2022 rotation.

Each time a new set is revealed, I’m on the lookout for anything that could possibly combat Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX — so far, there has been nothing. At this point, it is realistic to assume that Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX will continue to be a defining deck of the Standard meta from now until the end of the 2021 season. Given how strong the deck is, I can’t think of a better deck to write about to start the new Pokemon year. 

I’ll be honest, I’m not terribly thrilled with the idea of Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX being the BDIF, let alone a gatekeeper that will keep many cards from being competitively viable. You’ll love it if you’re a fan of fast, aggressive decks, especially the build I have in this article. But if that isn’t your playstyle and you don’t enjoy playing games that are over by turn 3, then you probably won’t be happy either.

When I say that this deck acts as a gatekeeper, I meant that because of Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX’s oppressive speed and Prize bonus, there are a wide swath of decks that, while they might be sound in concept, will likely never see competitive success. There are many new concepts I have tried from Darkness Ablaze that have been able to get off the ground and play competitively against various other decks, but they cannot stand up to Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX. The biggest problem is the extra Prize from Altered Creation GX, and how early on Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX can use the GX attack. Even if an opposing deck can match the damage output of Zacian V, the fact that the Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX deck will be taking Prizes one turn faster will end up giving them the advantage.

This is especially tough if you enjoy playing counter-meta decks, as I often do. Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX is so oppressive with few counters to Altered Creation GX, that devising a strategy that beats only Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX is difficult — let alone a strategy that can both beat Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX and other decks in the meta. However, there are a few strategies that have managed to work against Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX and allowed certain decks to compete with it. I’ll be going over those strategies later on in this article, but first let’s take a look at what made Zacian V / /Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX stronger. 

The Crobat V and Dedenne-GX Combo


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