Arceus’s New Friends — Arceus VSTAR in Paradox Rift

Hello everyone, and a happy new year as well! Of course, in terms of Pokemon, we’re smack dab in the middle of our year, fresh off of the recent Portland Regional Championships. The top decks from the beginning of the format — Charizard ex, Lost Box, Miraidon ex, and Gardevoir ex — continue to see heavy play, though the format has remained quite diverse.

In today’s article, I’m going to be talking about an old favorite, Arceus VSTAR. Arceus VSTAR is going to go down as one of the best Pokemon in the history of the TCG, but it has been rather quiet so far in the Paradox Rift format. Part of the issue has been that it has been difficult for the variants that were the most successful pre-Paradox Rift — namely, Arceus VSTAR / Duraludon VMAX — to stick around as the meta changed. As a result, the meta share of Arceus decks has dropped off as those decks haven’t been replaced by new Arceus variants. Arceus tends to be strongest when it has an anti-meta focus, and so when the meta shifts, Arceus needs to shift as well, which it has been a bit slow to do this time around. With that said, Arceus hasn’t been completely non-existent, as it has popped up in a few Day 2s, as well as a recent Top 8 finish in Portland this past weekend. For those Arceus decks, the key is that it has been able to find a bit of a niche in the meta, as one of the few decks that combine both an attacking strategy and heavy disruption. Specifically, it is one of the few decks nowadays that can function well under Path to the Peak, and unlike Lost Zone Giratina decks (one of the other notable decks utilising Path to the Peak in the format), it can do so while also making heavy use of hand disrupting Supporters like Judge and Iono. Today’s Arceus decks may not be as obviously anti-meta as those past versions with partners like Duraludon VMAX or Flying Pikachu VMAX, but they still manage to take on the meta decks in their own way. So, in this article, I’ll be taking a look at some of these new Arceus VSTAR decks, and how they are able to do so.

The Serperior Way To Play Arceus

The first list that I want to go over is Arceus VSTAR / Serperior VSTAR, a newer variant that has popped up in response to the many Charizard ex decks that are being played. The core of this deck is basically an Arceus VSTAR / Giratina VSTAR deck, but with Serperior VSTAR added to give the deck a strong Grass-type attacker, with the list adjusted from there to fit around Serperior. The list I’ve been using is a slightly adjusted combo of the lists that have had tournament success, particularly Douglas Maiola’s 25th place LAIC list, and Samuel Bermudez’s Top 64 list from San Antonio. Here’s the list:

Pokemon (19)

3x Arceus VSTAR (SWSH9 #123)4x Arceus V (SWSH9 #122)2x Serperior VSTAR (SWSH12 #8)2x Serperior V (SWSH12 #7)1x Giratina VSTAR (SWSH11 #131)1x Giratina V (SWSH11 #130)2x Bibarel (SWSH9 #121)2x Bidoof (SWSH12PT5 #111)1x Skwovet (SVI #151)1x Spiritomb (PEV #89)

Trainers (28)

4x Judge (SVI #176)3x Iono (PEV #185)3x Boss's Orders (Ghetsis) (PEV #172)2x Professor Turo's Scenario (PAR #171)1x Raihan (SWSH12PT5 #140)4x Ultra Ball (SVI #196)4x Nest Ball (SVI #181)1x Switch (SVI #194)1x Escape Rope (SWSH5 #125)1x Lost Vacuum (SWSH12PT5 #135)1x Choice Belt (PEV #176)3x Path to the Peak (SWSH6 #148)

Energy (13)

6x Grass Energy (SWSH12PT5 #152)2x Psychic Energy (SWSH12PT5 #156)4x Double Turbo Energy (SWSH9 #151)1x V Guard Energy (SWSH12 #169)

Thanks to this Pokemon being Grass-type, Serperior VSTAR is one of the few Pokemon capable of OHKOing Charizard ex. Among the Grass-type Pokemon VSTARs, Serperior works the best with Arceus, as it can attack (and still get a OHKO against Charizard ex) with Double Turbo Energy, whereas you don’t get that advantage with Leafeon VSTAR or Hisuian Lilligant VSTAR. The other Grass-type option, Shaymin VSTAR, unfortunately can’t get a OHKO until the Charizard player has already taken two Prizes, which isn’t ideal. So, Serperior is the Grass-type partner of choice. Regal Blender can 2HKO most things, and its Energy movement effect can come in handy. For instance, one new combo you can do is to move all of your Energy off of the Active Spot Serperior VSTAR, then use Professor Turo's Scenario to pick it back up into your hand, saving both a KO and all of the Energy that was on that Serperior VSTAR. While Starbirth will be the VSTAR Power you use in most games, Star Winder can occasionally come up as a useful attack, as it gives you OHKO potential against tankier Pokemon. Conveniently, Grass is also one of the types that Giratina VSTAR requires to use Lost Impact, so it can be included here with just a small change in the deck’s Energy line.

In order to have draw power in the mid-game, and to keep your deck running smoothly even when using disruption draw Supporters that draw fewer cards than traditional ones, this deck utilizes a Bibarel engine. The Skwovet + Bibarel combo lets you refresh your hand without playing a draw Supporter, even if you’re stuck with a bunch of useless cards you can’t get rid of. This is particularly helpful if you need to play a non-draw Supporter (such as Boss's Orders or Professor Turo’s Scenario), or if you don’t want to shuffle away your opponent’s hand. If your opponent appears to be bricked, you don’t want to give them the way out; Skwovet gives you a way to find what you need without doing so.

This deck includes Spiritomb, mostly for the Mew VMAX matchup. Spiritomb is also good against Roaring Moon ex (as it shuts off Galarian Moltres V), and can occasionally come in handy against Lumineon V and some other miscellaneous Pokemon.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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