Arceus VSTAR and Inteleon Deck Strategy
This impressive Pokémon TCG duo combines power and versatility to deliver massive victory potential.
By Xander Pero, Contributing Writer
One of the hottest and most hyped cards to come from the Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars expansion is Arceus VSTAR. This Pokémon is rolling the competition, and it’s not just one particular deck. As you’ll see, the strength of Arceus VSTAR is not just in power or a specific skill, but in its flexibility.
With its VSTAR Power, the Starbirth Ability, you can search for any two cards in your deck. It almost goes without saying that this is an incredibly powerful effect! Like all VSTAR Powers, it comes with the condition of only being usable once per game. But you can swing the game in your favor on any given turn, which is the reason why Arceus VSTAR is one of the top decks out there currently.
Another great trait of Arceus VSTAR is its Colorless typing. Because its attack requires only Colorless Energy, you can pair Arceus VSTAR with other Pokémon of any type. There are merits to many different types, though the three main ones to consider are: Fighting, Darkness, and Water. Fighting-type Pokémon can attack your opponents’ Arceus VSTAR for Weakness, and Darkness-type Pokémon can attack the popular Mew VMAX for Weakness. However, here I’ll be talking about a version that uses Water Energy to pair it with two different Inteleon.
Alongside the different Energy types, Arceus VSTAR also greatly benefits from the newly released Double Turbo Energy. Though its drawback reduces the damage of Trinity Nova by 20 damage, being able to attack on turn two just through manual Energy attachments, without having to play Melony and use up a Supporter, is too good to pass up. Plus, Choice Belt can not only offset but exceed the reduced damage, and 210 damage is enough to Knock Out most Pokémon V. For times when it’s not, the deck has access to Galarian Zigzagoon from Sword & Shield and Inteleon from Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign, which can tack on the remaining damage needed to score a Knock Out.
And I have yet to mention the greatest part of Trinity Nova: additional Energy attachment. With one attack, you can fully power up an additional Arceus VSTAR on the Bench. Provided you don’t run out of Energy, you can keep attacking with Arceus VSTAR once you’ve used Trinity Nova once. Other decks need to continuously worry about powering up their next attacker; Arceus VSTAR does not.
Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon
Arceus VSTAR + Inteleon Deck Breakdown
The above list is based off one that Luke Morsa, aka Celio’s Network, played in a recent tournament. The deck’s goal is to continuously attack with Arceus VSTAR while making use of two strong Supporter cards, Boss’s Orders and Cheren’s Care, to swing the Prize card trade in your favor. With Big Charm, Arceus VSTAR has 310 HP, which even exceeds some Pokémon VMAX. If all goes according to plan, you’ll use Boss’s Orders to take Prize cards or Cheren’s Care to deny Prize cards each turn.
The Inteleon engine has made its way into many strong decks since the release of Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign. Drizzile and Inteleon from Sword & Shield were already here to smooth over general inconsistencies, and then they were joined by another Inteleon from Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign to fix awkward math with its Quick Shooting Ability. Most importantly, each of these Pokémon gives up only a single Prize card. Since the main attacker of this deck is a Pokémon VSTAR and not a Pokémon VMAX, the opponent can only take two Prize cards at most (excluding any shenanigans or multi-hit attacks).
Because of the Inteleon engine, several different Trainer cards can be played. Being able to search for any Trainer card means you no longer need to play additional copies of them to increase the probability of drawing into a needed card naturally. The limiting count becomes the number you might need in a game, with some insurance against unfavorable Prize cards. It also allows you to play niche Item cards like Capacious Bucket, which is an option to get an Energy through Shady Dealings.
Four Arceus V and three Arceus VSTAR are a clear necessity because it’s the main attacker. Moreover, it’s essential to attach an Energy to Arceus V on your first turn to set up for Trinity Nova on the following turn. Early on, Melony should be used as a bailout rather than the main course of action. Many decks play a 4–4–2 Inteleon line, but I’ve decided to go with one less Drizzile. Instead, I’ve opted for the fourth Level Ball over the fourth Drizzile to increase the probability of finding Sobble on the first turn. Because this deck rarely discards cards, and isn’t wholly reliant on Shady Dealings because of Starbirth, I’ve found three Drizzile to be enough. There’s one of each Inteleon so that both are options at any given point.
Most Item slots are dedicated to Pokémon search cards. Quick Ball is the best search card because it can find any Basic Pokémon, though most of the time you’ll direct it towards Arceus V on the first turn. Level Ball is also maxed out because it can find both Sobble and Drizzile. Next there is Evolution Incense, which is the most efficient way to search the deck for Arceus VSTAR. Lastly, Ultra Ball serves to round out the Ball Item count. It has the greatest cost but the greatest versatility.
The single Pal Pad aims to add some additional value and flexibility. Other lists run three Boss’s Orders and zero Pal Pad, though I’ve found the reshuffle to be quite useful. The upside is that you can recycle Boss’s Orders, effectively playing three, or any other Supporters that would be useful, such as Cheren’s Care or Marnie. The downside is that drawing into Pal Pad does not draw you into the Supporter; you must search for the Supporter with Shady Dealings.
Now looking at the Pokémon Tool cards, there is an even split of Big Charm and Choice Belt. Big Charm’s purpose is to increase HP so you can use Cheren’s Care on the following turn. It’s very important against Mew VMAX, which aims to get a one-hit Knock Out on Arceus VSTAR. On the other hand, Choice Belt increases Trinity Nova’s damage so it can Knock Out a Pokémon V in a single attack. This is especially important when aiming to close out the game with multiple Boss’s Orders on vulnerable Pokémon V.
The Supporter count is relatively straightforward, albeit thin. Cheren’s Care, Boss’s Orders, and Marnie are absolute must-have Supporters, which is why we have two copies of each. Once you get past the first one or two turns, you should aim to play one of these each turn. Professor’s Research and Melony will be necessary in relatively niche situations, and therefore only have one copy.
The final component of the deck is its Stadium cards. There is one rule in today’s Standard format: If you’re not playing Mew VMAX, you play Path to the Peak. Because this deck isn’t Mew VMAX, there are three Path to the Peak in the list. It’s true that you cannot use Starbirth while Path to the Peak is in play, but it’s more important to have a way to shut down Genesect V‘s Fusion Strike System. Considering that Starbirth is a one-time use Ability anyway, there will certainly be a point in the game where no Stadium or a different Stadium is in play.
How to Play Arceus VSTAR + Inteleon
Arceus VSTAR is a relatively easy deck to play, making it great for beginners to pick up in addition to being an all-around great deck. Your goal on the first turn is to put an Arceus V into play and attach an Energy. With this setup, you’re ready to attack with Trinity Nova on the following turn. You should aim to find one or two Sobble as well, if possible. Against some decks such as Mew VMAX, Arceus V can be vulnerable in the Active Spot. When going second, consider starting with Sobble and putting Arceus V on the Bench. You’re most vulnerable on the first turn.
On turn two, do everything you can to attack with Trinity Nova. It’s all right to use Starbirth this early to search for the necessary cards, such as Double Turbo Energy to power up Arceus VSTAR and Scoop Up Net to move a Sobble or Drizzile from the Active Spot. Another important piece is to get an Arceus V on the Bench that you can load up with Energy via Trinity Nova. Keep in mind that you don’t need to attach all three Energy. Sometimes, you’ll only want to attach one and leave some Energy in the deck for future use. So long as you have Double Turbo Energy in hand (or can pick one up with Cheren’s Care), you only need one Energy on the Benched Arceus V.
On the following turns, you’ll then want to play Marnie, Cheren’s Care, or Boss’s Orders depending on what the opponent does. If your opponent hits your Arceus VSTAR, nine times out of ten you should play Cheren’s Care to return the damaged Arceus VSTAR to your hand, evolve your Benched Arceus V into Arceus VSTAR, put the Arceus V you returned to your hand back on your Bench, and attack with Trinity Nova using the new Arceus VSTAR. In these instances, you’ve essentially gained a free turn.
If the opponent instead Knocks Out Arceus VSTAR or a different Pokémon on your Bench with Boss’s Orders, you’ll want to do something different. In these situations, consider whether Boss’s Orders or Marnie will disrupt the opponent more. Do they have a large hand size? Is there a vulnerable Pokémon on their Bench with Energy attached, such as another Arceus V or Mew V? These are the questions you should ask yourself. Sometimes, it may be best to not do either and simply attack into the opponent’s Active Pokémon. If that’s their only attacker and they have a small hand, there’s no need to do anything other than put another Arceus V on your Bench and use Trinity Nova.
In the middle of the game, you’ll want to consider attacking with Inteleon from Sword & Shield. With this maneuver, you can hope to force the “seven-Prize game.” This means the opponent will take their Prize cards in such a manner that you force them to take more than they need to win. For example, when the opponent has a single Prize card remaining and Knocks Out an Arceus VSTAR to win. That is a much harder task than Knocking Out a Sobble.
The seven-Prize game can most commonly be employed against decks with few or zero ways to switch your Active Pokémon. Rapid Strike Malamar is a good example; it usually plays zero Boss’s Orders and few Pokémon Catcher, if any. In this matchup, you should attack with Inteleon when the opponent has an even number of Prize cards remaining. Then you can continuously attack with Arceus VSTAR. If the opponent has four Prize cards remaining, by interjecting with an attack with Inteleon, you’ve given yourself three turns of attacking, assuming the opponent scores a Knock Out each turn. With just Arceus VSTAR, then you only have two attacks.
Arceus VSTAR is incredibly strong in the current Standard format meta. Because of its high HP and the inclusion of Path to the Peak, Arceus VSTAR rivals the other best deck, Mew VMAX. If you’re looking for a dynamic deck to play, look no further than the Mythical Pokémon Arceus VSTAR and its sidekick Inteleon.
Xander Pero is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He was an avid fan until discovering sanctioned tournaments in 2009. He formerly traveled often for the Top 16 circuit, but now spends his time focusing on university, where he studies industrial engineering. You can find him at various tournaments, as well as on Twitter at @xanderpero.