Going Solo — What if Arceus VSTAR Didn’t Have a Partner?

Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be bringing you all another article! Last time, I delivered a meta snapshot for the then-upcoming 2023 World Championships, elaborating on which decks I expected to see success. Generally, I would say that I was largely correct with my predictions, barring the fact that I might have misread how well Arceus VSTAR was going to do. Additionally, I may have slightly underrated Mew VMAX, as that was the deck that ultimately won the World Championship in the hands of Vance Kelley as well as being the most popular deck in Top 8 of the tournament.

The Current Meta

Weirdly, there are no more major events in the same format as the World Championship thanks to the release of Obsidian Flames, which brings multiple new cards into the metagame, but not to the same extent as many of the past few sets. In fact, there is a strong argument that this expansion could be the weakest one since about Vivid Voltage, but that is not to say that the expansion is bad in any capacity. Cards like Charizard ex and Pidgeot ex are bound to make a significant impact and even have already started to make an impact on the online tournament metagame. Charizard ex in particular (with and without Pidgeot ex) is finally starting to get tournament wins after a bit over a week of not being able to win anything, and I am sure there are many more to come, as the deck is certainly good, but it might not be to the same standard of how truly great the main archetypes of the last few sets have been.

As a result of this lack of significant change in the metagame, I believe that there is bound to be a lot of success from a lot of last format’s usual suspects. Decks like Gardevoir ex are still just as powerful as they were, even if they gained a bad matchup, and I think the only deck that might truly be eliminated from contention is, unbelievably, Lugia VSTAR. The deck does not beat Charizard ex very well, and even if you can barely squeak out a win in that matchup sometimes, that does not change the fact that your margins with most of the rest of the format were extremely thin before a new terrible matchup was introduced. As a result of many old decks sticking around, I think a lot of the “anti-meta” contenders are still good too. Decks like Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX / Inteleon VMAX will likely remain good because they are designed to target down specific meta threats and do not really get worse at doing that with the new expansion. One deck that I think falls in this category is also the deck that I played for the 2023 World Championship, which was an Arceus VSTAR variant that played no other major attacker. No Duraludon VMAX, no Umbreon VMAX, no Giratina VSTAR, heck, not even a Rayquaza VMAX. Just Arceus VSTAR, a single Slaking V, and a lot of annoying cards. Let’s first take a look at my decklist and deck before we consider how it could be adapted to the new format.

My Worlds 2023 Deck

Deck List

Pokemon (15)

4x Arceus VSTAR (SWSH9 #123)4x Arceus V (SWSH9 #122)2x Bibarel (SWSH9 #121)2x Bidoof (SWSH12PT5 #111)1x Slaking V (PGO #58)1x Skwovet (SVI #151)1x Spiritomb (PEV #89)

Trainers (31)

4x Iono (PEV #185)3x Boss's Orders (Ghetsis) (PEV #172)3x Cheren's Care (SWSH9 #168)3x Judge (SVI #176)1x Melony (SWSH6 #146)4x Nest Ball (SVI #181)4x Ultra Ball (SVI #196)1x Escape Rope (SWSH5 #125)1x Switch (SVI #194)2x Box of Disaster (SWSH11 #154)1x Choice Belt (PEV #176)4x Path to the Peak (SWSH6 #148)

Energy (14)

8x Water Energy (HS #117)4x Double Turbo Energy (SWSH9 #151)2x V Guard Energy (SWSH12 #169)

Notable Aspects

Despite the fact that the deck is as bare bones as it gets, there is a lot to unpack here. Starting with the Pokemon line, as I alluded to previously, there is basically nothing going on. Just a thick Arceus VSTAR line to make sure you find it, Bibarel to draw, Skwovet to recycle Energy after a Cheren's Care (this part is really important!), Spiritomb to slow down Mew VMAX and Lugia VSTAR decks, and a Slaking V to pack a slightly bigger punch when necessary.

The deck is designed to do one thing and one thing only, and that is to be incredibly efficient with Arceus VSTAR. Oftentimes, 180 (or 200) is not going to be enough to trade well with everything, though, and that’s where Cheren’s Care comes in, three of them to be exact. The idea of playing this many comes from my friend João Pedro Medeiros, who I worked with for a nearly identical deck for the North America International Championship. In theory, having this many Cheren’s Care allows you to deny Prizes for long enough that you always will in a two-hit Knock Out battle with decks like Arceus VSTAR / Duraludon VMAX / Umbreon VMAX as well as denying Lost Zone decks from being able to set up Dragonite V Knock Outs with the help of Lost Mine from Sableye. With a game plan like this in place, the only issue is decks that can Knock you Out in one hit, such as Gardevoir ex decks. This is where Box of Disaster comes in.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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