Let’s Cook — Refining Arceus VSTAR / Moltres for Indianapolis Regionals

Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here again with yet another Standard Format article! Last time, I talked about Sander Wojcik’s unique Eldegoss V Stall deck from the European International Championship, which I noted as a deck that would definitely be on my radar for the Indianapolis Regional Championships (as well as the Bilbao and Joinville Regional Championships, but those do not apply to me as much personally). While I cannot attend the Indianapolis Regional Championships myself, I have spent a fair amount of time helping some of my friends that are able to attend to prepare for the event. As a result, I have been able to build up some of my own opinions on the format and what I believe I would play for the tournament, especially since some of it may apply to the Secaucus Regional Championships later this month, which I will be attending. With that in mind, how about we take a look at my top two picks going into the Indianapolis Regional Championships.

My Top Two Picks

Like many other players, one of my top picks for this weekend is a Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX variant featuring Galarian Moltres similar to the list that Gustavo Wada was able to use to take down the European International Championship. This deck is unlike most other decks in this format, as it is perfectly tailored to beat any deck in the format as long as you are willing to devote the space. Need to beat Mew VMAX? Focus on the Galarian Moltres recursion. Need to beat Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon? Focus more on Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX. The list goes on and on. Oftentimes, the matchups have a bit more nuance than just throwing in some cards to beat a deck, but my point should be pretty clear. Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX simply can beat anything that it wants to beat. I will say though, I am not a huge fan of Gustavo Wada’s list for future tournaments. His list was arguably perfect for that event and the matchups that he hit, as is indicated by his victory, but going forward I think it has a lot of flaws. I think that the best deck list will be some middle ground between Wada’s, Isaiah Bradner’s Top 8 list, and Caleb Rogerson’s list that he used to win in Seniors. In particular, I think lists for Indianapolis need to feature Manaphy, Galarian Moltres V, Inteleon, and Medicham V.

The other deck that I am extremely fond of is Arceus VSTAR with Inteleon and Galarian Moltres. Many players have been building this deck similar to typical Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon decks with a small Galarian Moltres package splashed in, but I personally believe this is the worse way of building the deck. With my builds for this deck, I like to look more at Ian Robb’s deck list from the Salt Lake City Regional Championships. In his deck list for that event, he focused more on being a toolbox deck built around Inteleon rather than having any sort of “main attacker” (although Arceus VSTAR was used almost every game). This mindset allows you to navigate many unique routes in all sorts of matchups and also allows for a bit more flexible deck building. Since Salt Lake City, Ian and I have spent a lot of time on this deck, talking about a variety of techs such as Hoopa V. Around the European International Championships, we started to diverge in how we built the deck, with his focus going toward a more extreme toolbox while I tried to keep things a bit more straightforward. If I was going to the Indianapolis Regional Championship, I am pretty confident that this would be my deck of choice, even though I am a big fan of Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX. My comfort level with this deck is much higher, which is something that I value quite a bit, and I also think the deck might even be a slightly better play for the event overall. With that in mind, how about we take a look at Ian’s original list from Salt Lake City before looking at my new deck list.

Ian Robb’s Salt Lake City Deck

Going into the Salt Lake City Regional Championships, most players were focused on beating Mew VMAX as it had just won the Brisbane Regional Championships in the hands of Natalie Millar (if interested, I cover her deck list here). The go-to solution for most players was the increasingly popular Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon deck that had been doing well in the online space, as it can easily abuse Path to the Peak. Additionally, a decent number of players focused on using any of many Darkness-type Pokemon, including Gengar VMAX, which ultimately won the tournament. However, Ian Robb, alongside Nicholas Moffitt, decided to play a mix of these two ideas, using a thin Arceus VSTAR line with Galarian Moltres as the preferred Darkness-type Pokemon, then using Inteleon as the glue to hold the deck together. This strategy was enough to take Ian and Nicholas to a Top 8 and Top 4 finish respectively, with just one minor difference between their deck lists, being that Nicholas played two Shady Dealings Inteleon instead of Pal Pad.

Deck List

Pokemon (18)

2x Arceus VSTAR (BRS #123)2x Arceus V (BRS #122)1x Inteleon (SSH #58)1x Inteleon (CRE #43)4x Drizzile (SSH #56)4x Sobble (CRE #41)2x Galarian Moltres (EVS #93)1x Galarian Moltres V (CRE #97)1x Galarian Zapdos V (CRE #80)

Trainers (32)

3x Professor's Research (SHF #60)2x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)2x Klara (CRE #145)2x Marnie (SSH #169)1x Raihan (EVS #152)4x Level Ball (BST #129)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)2x Air Balloon (SSH #156)2x Energy Search (SSH #161)2x Evolution Incense (SSH #163)1x Cape of Toughness (DAA #160)1x Choice Belt (BRS #135)1x Escape Rope (BST #125)1x Scoop Up Net (RCL #165)1x Pal Pad (SSH #172)1x Ultra Ball (BRS #150)2x Training Court (RCL #169)

Energy (10)

6x Darkness Energy (HS #121)2x Double Turbo Energy (BRS #151)1x Fighting Energy (HS #120)1x Water Energy (HS #117)

What Needed to Change?

Honestly, I actually really liked Ian’s list from the Salt Lake City Regional Championships. I have spent a decent amount of time playing it online and also at the local level and I feel like his list was and still is very strong. However, the metagame simply is not what it used to be and the deck list that Ian used in Salt Lake City is not as well suited for the current metagame as it could be. However, in my conversations with Ian, we both drew the conclusion that the deck is similar to Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX in a way that it can be tailored to beat everything if you want to.

One of the first changes that was made was cutting an Air Balloon for a second Scoop Up Net. The purpose of this change is extremely straightforward and serves the exclusive purpose of optimizing the switching methods that the deck has access to. The next change on our agenda was considering how to beat Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, especially after it took down the Liverpool Regional Championships in the hands of Robin Schulz. This drove us to include Hoopa V as a means to take a one-hit Knock Out on Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, which opens up the opportunity to take a massive swing in advantage in response to a big G-Max Rapid Flow or Gale Thrust play. With the addition of Hoopa V, we also eyed up Energy Switch as a method of powering up Hoopa V a little easier, reducing the reliance on Arceus V and Arceus VSTAR in a matchup where you would ideally never have to put it in play. To add Hoopa V and Energy Switch, I ended up cutting Escape Rope and Pal Pad. To me, both of these cards are luxuries more than a need, so they were removed to make space for the new additions. With that said, I would like to see either or both of these cards added back into the deck at some point, but there is no space.

At this point, I started to deviate a bit from Ian on new additions to the deck as well as the cuts to fit them in. Following the results of the European International Championships, the need to focus even more on beating Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX was made very clear. For a while, I considered expanding even further on Hoopa V, but as I thought about it more, I realized that the second copy would hardly ever come up as a relevant option. As such, I looked to the same duo that many players have, which is Dunsparce plus Manaphy. If I had any intention of playing Arceus VSTAR at the Indianapolis Regional Championships, I would absolutely make room for these two — both will almost singlehandedly win the game against Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, and it becomes even better if you play Klara. In addition to this duo, I also decided to change the third copy of Professor's Research for a third copy of Marnie instead to help slow down Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX’s combos. Unfortunately, I had to make what I felt was one of the largest cuts of the deck when I got to this point, being the removal of Galarian Zapdos V. Ironically, the card I used to replace Galarian Zapdos V is the exact reason that I cut it, being Dunsparce. At the time of Salt Lake City, not many people were playing Dunsparce so Galarian Zapdos V was more effective. However, with the resurgence of Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, Dunsparce is making a comeback and as a result, I decided to omit Galarian Zapdos V from the deck. Finally, the last addition I made was the inclusion of another Arceus V for a little extra consistency. Realistically, this card could probably be a variety of other inclusions, but I decided to go with the extra consistency boost for the time being.

With that, how about we take a look at my updated deck list.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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