Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX – Cosmic Eclipse
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Almost topping our list of the Best Cards Lost To the 2022 Standard Rotation is Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (SM – Cosmic Eclipse 156/236, 220/236, 221/236, 258/236). Originally, we reviewed this card as the 4th-best card in SM – Cosmic Eclipse. Surprisingly, it didn’t make our end of year countdown for 2019… oh, that’s because I didn’t have it on my list. Oops. Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX is a broken card. Once again, not by the simplistic “You must run four copies in every deck.” method, but by how I believe it has distorted the metagame. I’m getting ahead of myself, however; first, let us run through what the card is and what it can do.
This is a Rule Box Pokémon. Only three cards actually reference Pokémon with a Rule Box and none of them have effects pertinent to Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX. This is a Pokémon-GX, keeping it from accessing some useful support and making them vulnerable to certain counters. Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX belongs to one further subcategory, TAG TEAM cards. TAG TEAM Pokémon give up three Prizes when KO’d. They have massively elevated HP scores. They’re likely to have strong effects and/or high damage output. Even their GX-attacks are a bit different, containing an optional clause you can trigger by having a certain amount of Energy attached beyond the printed Energy requirements.
Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX are Dragon type Pokémon, something we were worried had been abandoned by the powers-that-be, as it hasn’t been in any TCG expansions since the switch to Sword & Shield. However, we should be getting more of them soon. The only [N] Weak Pokémon are BW-era Dragon types… well, unless that changes with the SW-era. So far, we’ve never seen anything [N] Resistant, either. Not exploiting Weakness really hurts, but [N] Pokémon have had some incredibly powerful bits of support over the years. None of the Standard-legal [N] Support has proven worthwhile in the long term, but at least there are no Dragon counters in Standard, either. Being a Basic is the best; one card equals one copy, and you can field them ASAP. They can even be your opening Active, and that is indeed a common role for Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX.
Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX has 280 HP, just 20 below the printed maximum for TAG TEAM Pokémon. While 20 below the minimum for Pokémon-VMAX (the modern triple Prize Pokémon), this is still a difficult number to OHKO. While being a nearly abandoned mechanic kind of hurts Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX in terms of typing, it is a massive help in terms of Weakness. In the TCG, the Fairy type was introduced as its own thing, but now they are just one kind of Psychic Pokémon. This card’s [Y] Weakness has been almost has good as no Weakness for a little while now. No Resistance is the worst, but is also the norm and so a non-issue. That Retreat Cost of [CCC] is bad, though. Sometimes this doesn’t really matter, but how Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX has been used means it would love a lower Retreat Cost.
Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX knows two attacks. “Ultimate Ray” has a printed cost of [MWC], which is not easy to pay. However, it does 150 damage while also letting you search your deck for up to three basic Energy cards which you then attach to them to your Pokémon. You can attach them to your Active and/or Benched Pokémon, and you can distribute them among your Pokémon as you like. Again, while doing an already impressive 150 damage and… this is not the main reason to run Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX. That would be its GX-attack. “Altered Creation-GX” just costs [M] and it means all attacks made by your Pokémon do 30 more damage when attacking your opponent’s Active, as long as they did damage in the first place. Even for Pokémon you haven’t put into play yet!
There’s more. If you have at least [MW] attached, then Altered Creation-GX also has you take an extra Prize anytime an opponent’s Active Pokémon is KO’d through damage from attacks made by your Pokémon! Yes, [MW] in a single turn isn’t easy, and it means you really want to go second when using this card so you get the first attack, but this is nuts. No, it didn’t make Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX the undisputed, must run deck in the metagame. What is has done is radically alter our metagame, oh and there are times when Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX decks have been the dominant force in the metagame, though you did have at least one competitive alternative you could use instead. It also is why a lot of single Prize decks that otherwise would have been competitive fell short.
Altered Creation-GX is a great attack, but if you are facing nothing but fellow TAG TEAM Pokémon and/or Pokémon VMAX, the Prize bonus rarely matters. You still need to KO two of them, after all. As long as there are some single or double Prize targets, Altered Creation-GX turns them into double or triple Prize targets. KO three (formerly) single Prize Pokémon and you’ve won the game, or just two formerly two Prized targets. This destroys the Prize advantage most of these decks require to be competitive… and it gets worse. While Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX has had multiple partners, probably the most iconic is Zacian V… a hard-ish to OHKO Metal type that can easily OHKO almost all single and double Prize Pokémon.
Okay, so that is why Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX have been good now… but what about the future? Well, if it wasn’t rotating, it is keeping the key pieces of support for a Turn 2 (Player 2’s first turn), full-power Altered Creation-GX. It is keeping some of its classic partners… and has been making new ones. Like Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX partnered with Galarian Moltres V. I completely failed to see that coming, and I’m still not sure how the deck works, but it managed to finish in 3rd-Place at the Players Cup IV Global Finals. Speaking of the Players Cup series of tournaments, for the Global Finals Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX variants are not the most played. Well, for the very first one, they were six decks out of the top 16, but for the rest only one to three Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX variants made the top cut. Still, that is very impressive overall…
…and makes me think power creep has a long time before Altered Creation-GX stops making a significant difference. After all, it adds 30 damage and helps you take an extra Prize. An extra Prize is usually a great bonus, and that 30 can just be added onto stronger and stronger attack partners. At least, until +30 itself becomes too small a bonus to matter, and I don’t know when or even if that will ever happen. For this reason, Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX took 4th-Place on my personal list, but I completely understand it placing higher on others’ lists. Though that isn’t actually what let it take 2nd-Place here. Vince and I both had it as our 4th-Place pick, we both had the same 1st-Place pick, but we had totally different 2nd- and 3rd-Place picks. This allowed Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX to rise two places!
Lastly, there’s Expanded. This card still works fantastically well in Expanded. I’d say better than in Standard, because of the increased support available (like Double Dragon Energy) but we have Pokémon Ranger and VS Seeker. VS Seeker is probably the closest thing we have to a true staple we’ve ever seen. Pokémon Ranger is not but VS Seeker and better Supporter search means dropping it the turn after your opponent used Altered Creation-GX on the regular is plausible. That wipes away your opponent’s damage bonus, their Prize bonus, and they are out their GX-attack! Still, as long as this card is legal, it seems like on a matter of time for the powers-that-be to release a new attacker, or new combo pieces for an existing attacker, and then Altered Creation-GX swoops in and puts the entire deck over the top.
- Standard: 4/5
- Expanded: 4/5
Our runner up is Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX, usually shortened to ADP-GX, and perhaps a controversial card as well, ranging from players thinking that this card poses a problem to the game (and wanting it banned) to being somewhat underwhelming due to the fact that players have to use up an attack for the effect.
I think the reason why ADP is an incredible card, despite giving up three prizes, is that they have two great attacks. Ideally, you would want ADP in your staring hand. Ultimate Ray deals a decent amount of damage (with potential to 2HKO) as well as accelerating energies to any of your Pokémon. Altered Creation-GX is one of the few attacks that provides a permanent effect for the rest of the game (alongside Lucario & Melmetal’s Full Metal Wall), letting your Pokémon deal 30 extra damage and – if it has an extra water energy attached to it – lets you take an extra prize card if you KO one of your opponent’s Pokemon. ADP has 280 HP, so they would survive most attacks even after using their GX attack, and can either proceed to use Ultimate Ray, or to switch and deny your opponent prizes.
ADP’s traits makes it fit nicely to any decks that can accommodate the attack costs of Water and Metal. But perhaps the deck that ADP appeared in is mostly metal based decks. Altered Creation provides Zacian-V another form of power boost for when Brave Blade isn’t doing enough damage to secure OHKOs. 230 for three metal energies is a nice starting point. Combined it with Altered Creation-GX, Rusted Sword, Leon, and a couple well timed Galarian Zizzagoon, Zacian will be able to OHKO anything in the game. Remove ADP in the equation, and Zacian-V is actually missing out on certain OHKOs. You could make up the loss by benching Galarian Perserrker with its Steely Spirit, but then it eats up your Bench space and is vulnerable to being KOed even on the Bench.
For Expanded, while a manual attachment of Double Dragon Energy can easily fulfill the condition of Altered Creation with ease and benefit from two effects, a TecH Pokémon Ranger will remove all effects from the Pokémon and players, thus undoing your setup and making you waste a GX attack for nothing. Ultimately, ADP makes matches fast-paced and makes lots of decks hard to play because they couldn’t be able to deal with permanent effects. So while ADP is the second best card lost to rotation, I have mixed feelings of either saying somewhere along the lines of: “this card will be greatly missed” or “good riddance, I don’t have to deal with this card ever again”. I’m sure other players feel that way as well. If ADP continues to be a problem for Expanded, then it might be gone for good…
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