Tri-Lapras. Yep. It’s not Waterbox and it’s not Quad-Lapras.
02/22/2018 by Miner751
Hi all, welcome to my once in a blue moon article. This time around I’ll be talking about a deck that’s tickled my fancy – Lapras GX. Lapras GX earned my respect upon release (as seen in my previous article here), and late last year I ended up build a deck with it. This article will be a fairly comprehensive synopsis on the deck. At a glance, though, it is consistent, fast and has good matchups against some top tier decks. Yet, despite this, it sees next to no play. Hopefully this article will change that since the deck is a blast to play!
Normally I judge at events, however, towards the end of last year I had the opportunity to play at a couple of League Challenges. I don’t care about CP, so I was happy to go in with something fun (provided that it functioned well enough that I could get in some good games). For the first LC, I was going to play Electivire GRI because, with a Choice Band, it hits for 200 damage; which is quite a nice number… until I realised that Zoroark GX actually had 210HP (not 200 like I thought). I was going to try Incineroar GX, but was short a GX and didn’t feel comfortable without having so sort of Pokémon draw support (Tapu Lele GX, Oranguru SUM and Octillery BKT all aren’t Fire types, so didn’t synergise with Incineroar’s attack).
I ended up playing a Cobalion STS deck, which had good type coverage due to having Mew FCO and Marshadow GX as attackers. The deck pulled off some crazy stints, but I went 2-2-0. I ended up playing against two Goliscopod GX/Zoroark GX decks, which kind of made me regret not playing Incineroar.
Nonetheless, the Cobalion deck didn’t play out the way I wanted it to as often as I liked. Looking through the cards I had, I came across my Lapras GXes and though “I have to give them a go”. I wanted to play a fast version of the deck with Max Elixirs and Aqua Patches (because this sort of Energy Acceleration is what I like). I only had three Lapras GXes, so I looked online to try and find inspiration for other attackers, since I felt like I needed more.
There wasn’t much online about Lapras decks for the CRI format, which was a shame. A reddit thread (I think) said that Glaceon EX is bad for the deck; Palkia EX was almost there for me, but the second attack cost just one too many Energies, plus it is another Grass Weakness, which isn’t ideal. Tapu Fini GX looked nice, but I didn’t have access to one. At the same time, I wasn’t sure whether to include Octillery or not, or perhaps Alolan Ninetale (GX and baby).
60Cards’ October Decklist Database had one entry for a Lapras deck - Drew Burkhalter’s WaterBox (Lapras-GX, Manaphy-EX, Octillery, Tapu Fini-GX, White Kyurem FAC, Wishiwashi GRI). Aside for the bit in brackets, there was no more information about the deck. White Kyurem seemed like an odd choice, but I guess it was an anti-Hoopa/Alolan Ninetales tech. It did have Octillery, so it probably had Brooklet Hill to set up.
The September Decklist Database did have a couple of Lapras decks – both took different angles of attack. Austin Baggs’ list looked more aggressive, and could do some fun things against Evolution decks with the 4 Po Town and Espeon EX. Joao Pedro Noleto’s didn’t look as damaging, but would probably score some ‘free wins’ with the Alolan Ninetales (against GX centric decks).
I’ve constructed some decks (boy, they were some crazy concoctions… but they’re a story for another day) in the past where I’ve gone for the super aggressive route, aiming for a turn 1 donk. If I got a god hand, they were amazing, but these hands were quite uncommon. By going for the rush, it made the deck overall subpar too. The decks were actually reasonable if built for the long term. As such, I was originally leaning towards going for a Brooklet Hill + Octillery version as this would set up more reliably and should flow better late game. However, the numbers just didn’t add up. Octillery took up room, and I would be short damage. I’ll explain the numbers game later, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at the list…
- 1x Tapu Koko
- 3x Lapras GX
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Manaphy EX
- 1x Oranguru
- 1x Mew
- 4x Po Town
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x N-supporter
- 2x Professor Kukui
- 3x Guzma
- 4x Max Elixir
- 4x Aqua Patch
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Choice Band
- 3x Energy Switch
- 1x Field Blower
- 1x Switch
- 1x Nest Ball
- 12x Water Energy
As you will probably have noticed, there’s a lot of 4-ofs and duplicate, or similar, effects of cards. Depending on how you want to look at it, you can call it consistency or redundancy (or both :P). Either way, the aim is to achieve certain characteristics a high percentage of the time.
As far as damage goes, you want to be KOing everything in one hit. Lapras starts this off pretty well with 160 base damage. With the exception of Greninja Break, this is enough to KO and non-GX, non-EX attacker that you are likely to see.
Chuck on a Choice Band, and now you hit for 190 damage. Buzzwole GX – gone. Tapu Lele GX – gone. Volcanion EX – definitely gone. Basically any non-evolved GX or EX won’t survive a hit.
Greninja Break is still an issue. So is Stage 1 GXes like Goliscopod GX and Zoroark GX. This is where Po Town comes in handy. Just one ping from Po town is enough to put them into KO range from a Choice Band Blizzard Burn. Stage 2 GXes like Gardevoir will need two pings from Po Town, unless…
Professor Kukui to the rescue! For Gardevoir GX, we still need one ping from Po Town, but now Choice Band can cover the other bit (160+30+30+20 = 240 > 230HP).
Similarly, the Tapu Koko promo can do Kukui’s role. Although, in practice I don’t use it to much.
As you can see, there’s a lot of different damage modifiers available in the deck. I mentioned some damage pathways above, but you can quite easily mix and match them. For instance, if you don’t have a Choice Band available, a Kukui and Po Town hit is enough to KO a Lycanroc GX.
As a once off, if all else fails, there is Ice Beam GX. Without modifiers, this and a Blizzard Burn will be enough damage to KO anything. Ice Beam GX comes with the perk of Paralysing the Defending Pokémon, so unless the opponent can find a Switch or Guzma, the Pokémon will still be there next turn awaiting the Blizzard Burn.
If you’ve played with/against a Buzzwole GX deck, you’ll probably know how Max Elixirs feel like. Now imagine having more Basic Energies to reduce the chances of whiffing. But wait, there’s more – you have Aqua Patch too! It’s not uncommon to completely set up a Lapras GX in one turn.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also Energy Switch. I had doubts about how effective it was going to be (or, at least, 3 copies of it), but it was more than satisfactory. Since you can’t Max Elixir/Aqua Patch to your Active, Energy Switch is the bridge that lets you (in effect). Additionally, sometimes you’ll have the odd Energy lying around which you’d rather have on a Lapras GX, or Mew (who can’t be Aqua Patched to), and so the Energy Switch can act like another Energy attachment.
Blizzard Burn does not allow you to attack on your following turn. This can be removed by removing the Lapras (or Mew) from the Active position. Guzma works nicely here – not only can he pull up something we can KO, back he forces you to switch your Active back. This will likely be a Mew or Tapu Koko, who have free retreat, providing a painless switch back to the Lapras. Alternatively, you can use Switch to switch your Active out.
Manaphy EX removes the Retreat Cost of all your Pokémon with a Water Energy attached. This gives you more options than just the Mew and Tapu Koko in the above example. Additionally, if you have two Lapras GXes set up, you can just keep switching between them and firing off Blizzard Burns.
Energy Switch has some value here too since it can give a Pokémon (who didn’t have a Water Energy) a Water Energy, thus giving it free retreat (with Manaphy EX) in play.
Worse comes to worse, you can just hope your opponent KOs your Active so you can promote an uninhibited Lapras GX.
For Pokémon searching we have a playset of Ultra Balls and a Nest Ball. Ultra Ball can search for anything, and discarding a Water Energy with it can be beneficial for setting up an Aqua Patch. Nest Ball can also grab anything in this deck, however since it goes to the bench, you won’t get to use Tapu Lele GX’s Wonder Tag. Sometimes you can get lucky and use an opponent’s Brooklet Hill too (but the deck functions well enough without it).
For supporting Abilities, there’s a pair of Leles and an Oranguru. Oranguru helps a lot with this deck, both early game and especially late game after an N. It’s uncommon to use both Tapu Lele GXes in a game, but it’s an insurance in case one is prized – quite often you hinge on whether you can get a Sycamore or a Guzma on a turn (either to end a game, or to keep up momentum).
The playsets of Sycamore and N are standard for the CRI metagame. The Kukuis can help smooth your draws too, but they are better used as additional damage.
Manaphy EX hits for 60 damage. This is strangely relevant. Very few Pokémon can always hit for 60 for two Energies. This Manaphy is the only Water and Basic one. 60 damage is very handy early game with KOing non-evolved Basics like Alolan Vulpix, Zorua and Rockruff. Ideally you’d want Mew to copy Mineral Pump, but sometimes you just have to get in there Manaphy EX.
There’s only one Manaphy EX in the deck (most waterbox decks would run 2). It is a 120HP liability and its Ability is not that vital to have. I mean, it’s definitely useful, but if you Prize it, it’s usually not the end of the world since there’s Guzma and Switch.
If you ever get stuck on cards at any point in the game, Lapras has Collect to let you draw 3 cards. Again, Mew is the preferred attacker here, but Lapras is pretty bulky with 190HP, so it probably will not mind taking a hit.
Tapu Lele GX and Oranguru have viable attacks. It may feel awkward, but if you have to use them, do so.
4 Po Town feels like too much. Some games it does nothing except for counter the opponent’s Stadiums, if that. Sometimes your opponent won’t get a Stadium so after you play the first Po Town, the other 3 are dead cards. It is definitely a key card in some matchups though, so you want to have good odds of drawing into it. I think it would be safe to go down to 3 copies.
What to replace this with? Initially I was thinking a Tapu Fini GX since it has a handy GX attack, isn’t weak to Grass and the snipe attack could be relevant. Since Ultra Prism is legal, Cyrus Prism could also be an option. **EDIT - sorry, ignore the next bit, this isn't how Cyrus Prism works **It’s a shame that you do not get to pick the Pokémon to return, but that would probably make Cyrus too powerful. The best times to use Cyrus would probably be in the same turn that you plan on taking a KO in. The dream scenario would be where you win the game by Benching the opponent, but other times you’ll knock out an attacker and hopefully force them into returning at least one supporting or attacking Pokémon.
I’m also considering switching some Ns for Cynthias. Maybe 2. N is great for disrupting the opponent, however sometimes it disrupts you too. When you’re on 2 prizes remaining and want to close out the game, you rarely want to draw an N!
Against Buzzwole decks, Lapras GX shines. Jet Punch’s damage doesn’t really phase Lapras, and since we have more Energy Acceleration, we can outspeed them to the KO blows. This isn’t just for Buzzwole, the same goes for most Basic GX/EX oriented decks.
Fighting Fury Belt is an issue, since it places some Basic EXes/GXes at 220-230HP, beyond our reach (except for Volcanion EX who is Weak to Water :P). Most decks seem to take Choice Band over FFB, however if decks like Athavan Balendran’s Dusk Mane Necrozma deck become more popular, then you might want to start packing another Field Blower (or two).
The main issues I’ve found is with Grass decks. Vikabulu would be a better matchup if Tapu Bulu GX required the Choice Band and had to discard Energies for a KO, but because of Weakness it does need to. Against Goliscopod GX, they can KO you with a single Energy, which is substantially easier to pull off than 3 Energies and some combination of extra multipliers to do the missing 50 damage.
The deck is really fun to play, but it is viable too. The pressure the deck puts out is immense, and it is fairly consistent despite not being powered by Zoroark GX like a number of other decks. If your area is full of Buzzwole GXes, do yourself a favour and give this deck a go! If there’s a lot of Bulus, Goliscopods and other Grass Pokémon, keep the deck on the back of your mind, or take it to league and have some fun :)
Thanks for reading :)
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