Tag Team cards were a great idea when you look at it from a business perspective. You have multiple Pokemon in one card. It doesn’t require the game to keep coming up with new regular GX Pokemon. It’s easy to create good-looking cards when there are multiple Pokemon on it.
There’s a card with Mewtwo and Mew, and one with the three legendary birds. Theoretically, these cards should be unbeatable, because the Pokemon are so strong. The creators behind Pokemon TCG Online made a sensible decision and balanced these cards to prevent the meta from getting one-sided, and things were looking good. Then, suddenly, around came a card called Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX, that has single-handedly broken the entire Pokemon TCG Online meta.
The ADP/Z is powered by two cards: Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX, and Zacian V. This deck barely requires you to think at all, and still manages to be one of the top decks in the format.
Before I get to the ADP/Z deck build, I’d like to take you through where this deck really stands in the meta.
ADP/Z deck: how good (or bad) is it?
Honestly, it’s getting a little out of hand. 112 players battled at the Hegster Season 3 – #1 tournament this week, and here are the results, with ADP/Z decks circled in red:
You’ll also see four uncircled Lucametal Decks which use Zacian V but not ADP), and that should give you an idea of how much even Zacian V is dominating Pokemon TCG Online tournaments.
Just to be clear, this is an exception and not the norm. Centiskorch VMAX, Eternatus VMAX, Psychic Mewtwo, and Blacephalon have all had great standings in other recent tournaments. In fact, Centiskorch has a type advantage against three of the four main Pokemon in the deck. The above image is just to show what the deck is capable of if enough players play it.
The ADP/Z deck cards list
Here’s what my ADP/Z list contains:
##Pokémon – 13
* 1 Crobat V DAA 104
* 2 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX CEC 156
* 1 Eldegoss V CPA 5
* 2 Dedenne-GX UNB 195
* 1 Mawile-GX UNM 141
* 4 Zacian V PR-SW 18
* 1 Zamazenta V PR-SW 19
* 1 Milotic V RCL 43
##Trainer Cards – 36
* 1 Vitality Band SSH 185
* 2 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 4 Metal Saucer SSH 170
* 2 Viridian Forest TEU 156
* 2 Marnie SSH 169
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Big Charm SSH 158
* 2 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 3 Switch SSH 183
* 3 Professor’s Research CPA 62
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 3 Energy Switch SSH 162
* 1 Tool Scrapper DRX 116
* 2 Boss’s Orders RCL 154
* 2 Energy Search BLW 93
##Energy – 11
* 3 Water Energy Energy 3
* 8 Metal Energy Energy 8
Total Cards – 60
You can switch around with energies and go 3:9 or 2:9 if you want. The Milotic V isn’t useful in most matches, but I do run into the occasional Centiskorch that can be quite problematic, since fire is super effective against steel. Zacian V, Mawile V, and Zamazenta V all have a hard time fighting Centiskorch VMAX in Pokemon TCG Online once it gets going.
Mawile-GX is really only there for its ability that allows you to waste your opponent’s Crobat or Dedenne, which can be very disadvantageous for most decks. Mawile also allows you to check your opponent’s hand and then decide if you want to Marnie or not.
Setting off ADP’s Altered Creation
An ADP/Z player’s top priority is getting their Altered Creation GX attack off as early as possible. Here’s how the attack works:
Altered Creation-GX – For the rest of this game, your Pokémon’s attacks do 30 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon (before applying Weakness and Resistance). If this Pokémon has at least 1 extra Water Energy attached to it (in addition to this attack’s cost), when your opponent’s Active Pokémon is Knocked Out by damage from those attacks, take 1 more Prize card. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
Your goal is to get a Steel and Water Energy onto ADP within two turns, and activate your GX attack. The turn after that would have you attaching another energy on ADP and using its Ultimate Ray attack.
Ultimate Ray (150 damage) – Search your deck for up to 3 basic Energy cards and attach them to your Pokémon in any way you like. Then, shuffle your deck.
You will have either Zacian or Zamazenta on your Bench at this point. Once you’ve used Ultimate Ray (that now deals 180 damage, due to Altered Creation GX), you’ll be setting up your other Pokemon to go in once ADP is knocked out.
Trainer cards and managing Energy
You will want as many of these four cards in your hand as early as possible.
Even these four cards are a tad excessive. A lot of players would either use Energy Search or Viridian Forest, but I prefer using both because it allows me to get an early GX attack. If you discard a Steel Energy, Metal Saucer it to your benched Zacian, Energy Switch it onto your active ADP, and then attach a water Energy onto it, you can even use your Altered Creation on turn one if you’re going second.
The rest of the Trainer cards in the deck are the usual list. Almost every card in the deck has multiple copies in it, which allows you to use early Sycamores without a second thought. Eldegoss can fetch lost supporters, Metal Saucer can fetch lost Energy, and all of the main Pokemon have multiple copies in the deck.
After the GX move
The rest of the game is pretty much all about your stealing prize cards with your Steel type Pokemon.
Zacian V is now dealing 260 damage (270 with a Vitality Band), which is sufficient to take out any Tag Team card in Pokemon TCG Online. Zamazenta V is the perfect counter for Centiskorch VMAX and Eternatus VMAX, and really puts those decks in a tough spot.
Watch out for your opponent’s benched Volcanions or Heatran-GX’s surprise attacks, they’re pretty hard to dodge even for Zamazenta. Make sure you have your Milotic ready in that case, because even ADP can’t save you if a Centiskorch VMAX gets going.
You often won’t even need the Vitality Band. Using Air Balloon and switching between your Zacians can quickly get overwhelming for your opponent. Use Boss’s Orders to switch to their strongest cards if possible. Remember, eliminating VMAX and Tag Team cards will now reward you with four instead of three Prizes.
Here’s a Pokemon TCG Online match of the ADP/Z deck going against an Eternatus VMAX deck:
The future of the ADP/Z deck
The only real counters this deck has in the meta are Centiskorch (due to type advantage) and Decidueye (due to its invulnerability from V/GX Pokemon’s attacks). A lot of players were expecting a third hard-counter to ADP/Z, with the upcoming Vivid Voltage Pokemon TCG Online expansion.
Remember how I said earlier in the article that ADP/Z getting a bunch of high rankings in tournaments is just an exception and not the norm? Well, it’s about to become the norm. Instead of getting a third hard-counter, we’re losing one of our previous counters to ADP. The upcoming Aegislash V can bypass Decidueye’s ability, making ADP even stronger.
It’s not the best move by TPC, since a lot of people were already asking for ADP to be banned. With Aegislash coming in and the Zacian V League Battle Deck featuring both Zacian and ADP in it, the card is only going to get cheaper, and thus more common in the meta.
We definitely won’t be seeing a ban on this card anytime soon, and Pokemon TCG Online Standard is just about to get twice as chaotic.