The Deck that Doesn’t Lose? Everything You Need to Know about Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be covering one of the normal meta decks for a change. Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon is a consistent and well-rounded deck that you are no doubt already familiar with if you’ve played competitively since Arceus VSTAR’s release. Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon was one of the top two decks in the Brilliant Stars format before this one, and continues to dominate in the Astral Radiance format as one of the most popular decks. I personally played this deck at NAIC, and was only one win away from making Top 8! Some Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon did end up making Top 8, but they probably didn’t end up facing Mewtwo V-UNION twice!

In any case, what makes Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon so strong is how difficult it is to take down. It is very much a deck that wins by not losing. With cards like Cheren's Care and Big Charm, the deck aims to simply outlast the opponent and attack with Trinity Nova over and over again. While Trinity Nova is a great attack, its damage output is rather modest compared to the damage ceilings of other meta decks. Arceus VSTAR has barely enough power but extremely high levels of survivability. Now, this strategy leads one to think that any deck that can take out Arceus VSTAR in one shot would make for a bad matchup, and you wouldn’t be wrong, however, the current meta decks have difficulty with this for some reason or another. Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR , Flying Pikachu VMAX, and others have low enough damage output to where they cannot OHKO Arceus VSTAR. The decks that can, such as Mew VMAX or Blissey V, are taken care of by various tech cards.

The Deck’s Place in the Meta

With Arceus STAR / Inteleon’s immense popularity, it should have a large target on its back and be countered by some of the other decks. This is where the deck’s other strength shows itself, however; the deck is nearly uncounterable. Dunsparce and Ordinary Rod are organically-included cards that allow the deck to completely disregard its Fighting-type weakness. That said, some lists have been cutting Dunsparce because Fighting Pokemon are extremely uncommon in the current meta. In any case, the fact that Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon has access to a one-card answer to its Fighting Weakness is absurd. The other card that would typically counter Arceus VSTAR, Miltank, is easily handled by Inteleon’s Aqua Bullet. With Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon’s well-roundedness, it’s extremely difficult to counter. This also makes it a gatekeeper. It’s one of the decks that keeps many other decks out of the meta due to their inability to beat Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon.

In my opinion, NAIC is where the meta started to solve itself. The weaker decks (or Mickey Mouse decks, as some like to call them) were almost completely phased out, such as Regigigas, Duraludon VMAX, and Blissey V. Although these decks dominated in Milwaukee Regionals the week before NAIC, they were nowhere to be seen at the top tables of NAIC. Instead, the event was flooded by Arceus VSTAR and Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR variants. In fact, of the Top 32, only six were not Arceus VSTAR or Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR — most of these decks were the traditional Inteleon builds, with three Flying Pikachu VMAX variants of Arceus VSTAR among them. Mew VMAX noticeably underperformed, as the deck usually takes a Top 8 spot or two due to the sheer number of people who play it at every event. This time, Mew VMAX only had one placement in Top 32. The same amount of Malamar! I love to see it. Mew VMAX’s matchup against Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR is solidly in the latter’s favor, which made Mew VMAX suffer for this tournament.

My point is that I believe the meta to be solved or mostly solved. The highest level of competition, NAIC, has given us this data. I played Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon for that event because it had no unfavorable matchups. That is, aside from the wildcard Mewtwo VUNION deck that popped up. I doubt that Mewtwo VUNION will become a popular deck, at least in the short time period before Worlds. I believe the same line of thinking of NAIC applies for the future of Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon. You should play it because it has no bad matchups. This is why Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon did so well at NAIC, and why it continues to flourish in online events.

The introduction of the Pokemon GO set gave us some interesting cards, but there isn’t anything meta-defining in there. Pokemon GO may have a minimal impact on the meta, but it’s not impactful enough to shake up the game in a major way. I hope to be proven wrong about this.

The List

I’ll give a brief explanation of the list I used for NAIC and then I’ll talk about the current list. There are quite a number of changes. This way, you can follow along the thought process of why and when cards are included and excluded.

Pokemon (19)

3x Arceus VSTAR (BRS #123)4x Arceus V (BRS #122)2x Inteleon (SSH #58)3x Drizzile (SSH #56)4x Sobble (CRE #41)1x Manaphy (BRS #41)1x Dunsparce (FST #207)1x Starmie V (ASR #30)

Trainers (31)

2x Cheren's Care (BRS #134)2x Melony (CRE #146)2x Marnie (CPA #56)1x Professor's Research (BRS #147)1x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)1x Roxanne (ASR #150)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)4x Level Ball (BST #129)3x Ultra Ball (BRS #150)2x Evolution Incense (SSH #163)2x Scoop Up Net (RCL #165)2x Big Charm (SSH #158)1x Pal Pad (SSH #172)1x Ordinary Rod (SSH #171)2x Path to the Peak (CRE #148)1x Collapsed Stadium (BRS #137)

Energy (10)

3x Double Turbo Energy (BRS #151)7x Water Energy (XY #134)

My NAIC list was heavily influenced by the preceding Milwaukee Regionals. The list itself is nearly identical to Justin Kulas’s Top 8 list from that event, but with a few changes. I played the trifecta of tech Pokemon being Dunsparce, Manaphy, and Starmie V. Dunsparce and Manaphy are highly useful against the Regigigas deck, one of which I actually ended up playing against. I guess I got rewarded for a questionable deck-building decision. Dunsparce was mostly included for Regirock, but at NAIC, you never know what random Fighting-type Pokemon you might run up against. It seemed like too strong of a tech to not include. Manaphy was a bit more questionable, as it’s not even that useful against Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR, and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX had been completely phased out of the meta at that point.

Starmie V seemed like an obvious pick since Blissey V had been popular at Milwaukee and was predicted to be popular at NAIC. Starmie V turns that matchup from a near auto-loss to a near auto-win, making it seem like a high-value card. I ended up playing against zero Blissey V, but Starmie V was useful for a win in a different matchup (though it’s not expected to be).

Only a single Boss's Orders made its way into the list with the thought process of “this deck isn’t supposed to be too aggressive, simply heal and attack until you win”. This was the biggest regret I have with the list… a second Boss’s Orders would have been helpful in nearly every match. The same logic was applied when cutting the Quick Shooting Inteleon out of the list, but I do not regret that at all. In my opinion, Quick Shooting Inteleon is terrible in this deck. The rest of the list is fairly standard. Let’s look at the current list.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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