The Holy Trinity — A Transitional Dive into ADP / Zacian V

Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here with another Standard format article! Last time I was with you, I wrote about Victini VMAX and since that article, Victini VMAX has proven to be a consistent threat at the top of the metagame. I also signed off talking about hoping to be fortunate enough to qualify for the Players Cup IV Regional Qualifier, and I am happy to report that I made it in! This is actually my first time qualifying for the TCG side of the Players Cup due to some unfortunate luck and potentially poor deck choices in the previous Players Cup Events. I have qualified on the VGC side in the past, so this will not be my first Players Cup Regional Qualifier experience. With the Regional Qualifiers (and Round One of the Summer Team Challenge!) just around the corner, I am frantically searching for what will be the absolute best play. Unfortunately at this time, I am unsure of what is the ideal play, but I do have a couple safe picks. One of which is the topic of today’s article: Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX (ADP) / Zacian V. With Chilling Reign releasing soon, I also will be taking a look at some new tools for the ADP / Zacian V archetype. With that, let’s get into a list for the pre-Chilling Reign format!

Pre-Chilling Reign

Coming to be known as the villain of the current Standard format, ADP / Zacian V gets most of its strength from being able to gatekeep decks that take games slower than it does (barring its Lucario and Melmetal-GX counterpart) by scooping up quick and easy Prizes, often before the opponent has the chance to respond. In the current state of Standard, Altered Creation GX provides a way to easily prey on the format’s overreliance on Dedenne-GX, Crobat V, and similar cards by making them worth three Prize cards, so you can take Knock Outs on two setup Pokemon rather than attackers. If the opponent tries to avoid putting these Pokemon down, ADP is often able to outpace the opponent while taking down threats with Zacian V’s Brave Blade. Simply put, the combination of ADP with Zacian V can only be considered a match made in heaven.


Pokemon (13)

2x Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX (COE #156)4x Zacian V (SWSH1 #138)2x Mawile-GX (UNM #141)2x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)2x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Eldegoss V (SWSH2 #19)

Trainers (35)

4x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)4x Professor's Research (SWSH45 #60)1x Skyla (SWSH2 #166)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Metal Saucer (SWSH1 #170)4x Switch (SWSH1 #183)3x Energy Switch (SWSH1 #162)3x Cherish Ball (UNM #191)2x Energy Spinner (UNB #170)2x Air Balloon (SWSH1 #156)1x Rusted Sword (SWSH45 #62)1x Great Catcher (COE #192)1x Tool Scrapper (SWSH2 #168)1x Viridian Forest (TEU #156)

Energy (12)

9x Metal Energy (HS #122)3x Water Energy (HS #117)

Two Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX

Despite being the core focus of this deck’s strategy of claiming cheap Knock Outs for an increased Prize card yield, we only include two copies of ADP. We don’t need more than two. It is extremely rare to use a second ADP in any particular game, partially because it is worth three Prizes rather than two like your other attacking options. Plus, it is difficult to power up outside of Ultimate Ray since you cannot attach Energy to it via Metal Saucer. With that in mind, ADP is still critical to the deck’s functionality. Most games, you will get a turn 2 Altered Creation GX, allowing you to threaten the opponent with major Knock Outs as soon as turn 3. Going further, ADP’s second attack, Ultimate Ray, threatens the prospect of a turn 3 Knock Out on a 180 HP or less Pokemon (most support Pokemon like Dedenne-GX and Crobat V) while also providing the threat of a fully powered Zacian V. Oftentimes if you get to use Ultimate Ray, you may as well mark the game as a win, as most decks struggle to deal with the volume of threats that it provides.

Four Zacian V

The true heart and soul of this deck, Zacian V is everything someone could ever want in a Pokemon card: Good HP, an extremely powerful Energy efficient attack, and an extraordinary Ability. As it stands, Zacian V is my favorite card since Sword & Shield, largely thanks to its Ability. Honestly, I’m not sure what was the idea behind designing Zacian V’s Ability in the way it was, but I am extremely thankful for it. Providing excellent draw and a small form of Energy acceleration, Intrepid Sword stands as one of the most unique and powerful Abilities that the Pokemon TCG has ever seen.

In this deck, Zacian V and its Intrepid Sword fill a dual purpose. Early game, Intrepid Sword is critical in setting up the turn 2 Altered Creation GX by providing a small form of dig for pieces that may be missing. In addition, Intrepid Sword can attach Metal Energy on Zacian V, allowing them to be moved to Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX via Energy Switch. This provides some insurance against Crushing Hammer. Once you manage to use Altered Creation GX, Zacian V becomes an extremely powerful threat. Its damage boosted to 260, a number that is critical for taking one-hit Knock Outs on some of the most prolific Tag Team Pokemon-GX such as Pikachu and Zekrom-GX and Lucario and Melmetal-GX (with no damage or HP modifiers). Once you get to a point where you can stream Zacian V, it is only a matter of time before you claim all of your Prize cards and win the game.

Two Mawile-GX

This is a really strange card. When Mawile-GX came out, and even after Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX was released, this card was not getting much attention. I tested it a little bit in an Expanded format version of the archetype, but it was not strong enough. When Zacian V and Metal Saucer was released, it gained a little more value, but yet again it was not strong enough to warrant a spot. Fast forward to the 2020-21 Standard format rotation to Team Up-on, Mawile-GX became an instant staple for the archetype out of nowhere. Mawile-GX’s Wily Bite attack is solid, offering a nice way to clean up Knock Outs that you missed or a one-hit Knock Out on something like Dedenne-GX for a low Energy investment.

However, Mawile-GX’s real strength is drawn from its Captivating Wink. Thanks to this powerful Ability, you can force your opponent to bench Dedenne-GX and other support Pokemon that they normally would not have. This provides you with excellent targets for Knock Outs using Boss's Orders to take a quick win as well as a little disruption in the process. Be warned though, as it is seldom ideal to slam Mawile-GX on turn 1 like most people do. Instead, I would suggest saving it for a bit later in the game.

Two Dedenne-GX and Two Crobat V

Both Dedenne-GX and Crobat V are extremely self explanatory, as they are a means to an end for finding your combo pieces. In this deck, I opted to go for a split of two Dedenne-GX and two Crobat V because of the value to dig with both in one turn. A case could easily be made for a third Dedenne-GX over the second Crobat V, but I think this current split is ideal in the current metagame.

Four Boss’s Orders, One Eldegoss V, and One Great Catcher

I have built up the point that dragging up frail two-Prize Pokemon is one of this deck’s most important strategies. Obviously, Boss’s Orders is the main way of dragging up Pokemon, as with any other deck. Eldegoss V offers a way to recover Boss’s Orders and essentially turns your Quick Ball into Boss’s Orders in the late game. Great Catcher rounds out the drag up effects by being an Item that can easily drag up Dedenne-GX during turns where you need to play Professor's Research. It also has the added bonus of being able to be searched for by Skyla and used in the same turn.

One Rusted Sword

Acting as a relatively solid damage modifier, Rusted Sword is often the last little push that Zacian V needs to hit some of the format’s most important damage numbers. Notably, Rusted Sword pushes Brave Blade to the one-hit Knock Out territory on the likes of Raichu and Alolan Raichu-GX, Mewtwo and Mew-GX, Rowlet and Alolan Exeggutor-GX, and more. In addition, Rusted Sword allows you to take a one-hit Knock Out on a Pikachu and Zekrom-GX with a Big Charm, a Lucario and Melmetal-GX with any one form of damage reduction, or a Zacian V with the effect of Full Metal Wall GX and Metal Goggles. With so many positive numbers, one may wonder why we decide against playing more copies, but that is because it is not necessary. With easy one-hit Knock Out options on other Pokemon in all of these decks, the space is better used elsewhere.

One Tool Scrapper

Similar in nature to the one Rusted Sword, we include one copy of Tool Scrapper as a way of helping to hit important numbers. Notably, Tool Scrapper is used for removing Big Charm and Metal Goggles on a variety of Pokemon to reach necessary numbers. Considering that I mentioned both of those cards when discussing Rusted Sword, the immediate question that you may be asking is why I am not playing two Rusted Sword, which is a perfectly reasonable question. The answer to this is easily found in the text of Rusted Sword, which specifies that it only helps Zacian V! This means that if a Dedenne-GX has a Big Charm on it, Rusted Sword does nothing to help your ADP take a one-hit Knock Out on it to claim three Prize cards. In short, the slight loss of consistency and power by only playing one Rusted Sword is made up for by Tool Scrapper’s diversity of its applications.

One Viridian Forest

For quite some time now, ADP / Zacian V decks have omitted Stadium cards in favor of other tech cards. But in the current metagame, I feel that Stadium cards are far more important. Decks like Lucario and Melmetal-GX / Zacian V have been playing Power Plant for some time now, which is quite annoying as it stunts the effectiveness of Dedenne-GX. But the real issue is Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star. Lately, Rillaboom paired with Mewtwo and Mew-GX has seen a massive surge of play in various online events, winning several in the process. Notably, two time International Champion and former PokeBeach writer Stéphane Ivanoff took down a 750 person tournament, one of the largest online events to date, with this Rillaboom deck. Unfortunately, one staple in the Rillaboom archetype is the aforementioned Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star, which proves to be annoying to our deck and its somewhat expensive attacks. In order to combat this, I include one Viridian Forest to replace Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star if it ever comes into play. Additionally, Viridian Forest provides an extra way of searching for your Energy needed in the early game, so it is a perfect fit. However, this spot is pretty flexible in terms of what Stadium card you choose to play. If you are against playing Viridian Forest, I would suggest including Chaotic Swell instead.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

If you'd like to continue reading, consider purchasing a PokeBeach premium membership! If you're not completely satisfied with your membership, you can request a full refund within 30 days.

Each week we post high-quality content from some of the game's top players. Our article program isn't a corporate operation, advertising front, or for-profit business. We set our prices so that we can pay the game's top players to write the best content for our subscribers. Each article topic is carefully selected, goes through multiple drafts, and is touched up by our editors. We take great pride in our program!