Playing Magma Basin in the Great Basin — A Look at Fire Decks for SLC

Hello everyone! We’re coming up on our first Regional Championships in years, and whether you’ll be there or not, the very prospect of official competitive play is exciting. Online tournaments have been fun, but it’s hard to replace a good old fashioned Regional! At least in my area, there has been a resurgence of players coming back to the competitive game in a way not seen since early 2020. If you’re one of them, welcome back!

The preparation happening now for the Salt Lake City Regional Championship reminds me a lot of the preparation that was done for the 2019 World Championships. That event was the first time Worlds was played with an all-new format, yet even still players were coming with plenty of practice under their belts. In that sense, this Regional is similar; we’ve known since even before this set was released that this would be the grand opening of the 2022 season. It’s always unique when you’re at the first big event of a new format, and deck-building creativity and overall preparedness are clearly at a premium. In that respect, I would definitely make sure that you practice some in-person play as well — it’s been quite a while, after all!

One major difference between the upcoming Regional and 2019 Worlds, however, is the amount of meta information we have prior to the event. Thanks to community-run events, both in-person and online, we have actually had multiple large-size events in recent weeks, and our initial picture of our Brilliant Stars metagame has already begun to emerge.

The format remains incredibly diverse. As expected, Mew VMAX is still the dominant deck, but its meta share has been matched by the variety of new Arceus VSTAR decks hitting the field. Mew and Arceus decks combined hold 40 to 50 percent of the meta share at most tournaments, and I would expect that number to increase as players continue to develop and refine their Arceus VSTAR lists. When picking a deck to play for Salt Lake City or Liverpool, at a bare minimum, you’re going to want something that stands a good chance against those two archetypes. The other half of the meta has been all over the place, though, and while certain archetypes like Gengar VMAX, Malamar, Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, and Dark Box Inteleon have been a bit more popular, the expectation should be that half of your games will be almost impossible to predict.

As someone who likes to take a more creative approach, I’ve been using this pre-Regionals time to explore some of the less-played concepts, to see if those are any secretly strong decks that simply haven’t been explored yet. New format or not, you can expect a huge advantage if you find one of those decks, since most of your opponents won’t be prepared for it in the same way that they will be against the more popular meta decks.

In this article, I’ll be going over two Fire decks, which have recently been re-invigorated thanks to the brand-new Energy-accelerating Magma Basin. These decks have a few advantages in this format, namely their speed and efficient damage output, and while they tend to be a little linear in terms of their damage output, they nonetheless have some varied strategic options thanks to the wide variety of attackers you can use. Overall, I don’t think these ideas have been fully explored, and I wanted to use this opportunity to take a closer look. The first is Victini VMAX / Fire Box, an aggressive deck that fully takes advantage of the various strong Basic attackers that Fire has right now. The second is Charizard VSTAR / Arceus VSTAR, another attack-oriented Arceus deck that is somewhat reminiscent of the Ice Rider VMAX deck I wrote about in my last article. Both decks are strong, and quickly found their way into my testing cycle for Salt Lake City. Below, I’ll be going over both decks, my lists for them, and the strategies you’ll want to use when playing them.

Victini VMAX

To start things off, let’s take a look at my take on a Victini VMAX / Fire Box deck. This deck uses Victini VMAX as its main attacker, but supplements it with two new Fire-type attackers: Entei V and Moltres. With an already highly efficient attack, Victini VMAX may not necessarily strike you as a prime candidate for Magma Basin’s acceleration, but in the context of this deck, it does make the difference. The key here is that with Magma Basin, you can switch into your alternate attackers without compromising your ability to attack with Victini. It also lets you attack with any of your attackers from a board with zero Energy, no preparation necessary.

It should be noted that you can’t actually use Moltres without Magma Basin, so it’s a necessity in that regard. Moltres is an excellent single-Prize attacker; Inferno Wings plus Max Victory can KO any Pokémon if one of the attacks was boosted by Choice Belt. With our slew of alternate attackers, this deck definitely is more of a box deck than a pure Victini deck, even if Victini does tend to be the main attacker in several matchups. Here’s the list:

Pokemon (14)

2x Victini VMAX (SWSH5 #22)3x Victini V (SWSH5 #21)3x Moltres (SWSH9 #21)2x Entei V (SWSH9 #22)2x Crobat V (SWSH45 #44)1x Lumineon V (SWSH9 #40)1x Oranguru (SWSH1 #148)

Trainers (35)

4x Professor's Research (SWSH9 #147)4x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)2x Marnie (SWSH35 #56)2x Leon (SWSH4 #154)4x Rotom Phone (SWSH35 #64)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Ultra Ball (SWSH9 #150)3x Choice Belt (SWSH9 #135)2x Air Balloon (SWSH1 #156)2x Escape Rope (SWSH5 #125)4x Magma Basin (SWSH9 #144)

Energy (11)

11x Fire Energy (SWSH8 #284)

The strength of this deck comes from its ability to adapt its strategy depending on the matchup. When a non-V is needed, Moltres can be used; when you need a bit more strength, Entei V is the card for the job. For the most part, this deck will play like a typical Basic Pokémon V deck, but you’ll also have Victini VMAX to do some heavy damage when you need it.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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Zakary Krekeler

Aspiring Trainer
What are the possible weaknesses in these decks?
For the Victini deck, damage output against VMAXs can occasionally be a source of trouble, particularly if you miss an early attack (like with Moltres). Since you have to 2HKO them with this deck, that can give them an opportunity to take the lead, which will make things difficult if you're both playing from behind and needing to attack four times to win. Not impossible, but the deck certainly does better when it's able to be the first aggressor. Likewise, Big Charm on Arceus can be obnoxious; that wasn't as much a part of the meta when I wrote this article, but given the rise of Arceus/Inteleon, a Tool Scrapper or something to deal with that might be an important addition.
The Charizard deck doesn't have a damage output issue, which has made it a bit more of a robust deck in this current format. The main issue it has is that you don't have the non-V attackers like you do in Victini, so you don't have a path to victory if you end up falling behind in a matchup where you're trading OHKOs. Not many decks can OHKO you repeatedly, but it can be an issue on occasion.