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Caleb Gedemer

Another Way to Take Down Lucario-GX — VikaBulu Updated

Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX is a great counter to Lucario-GX with the inclusion of Mew!

03/22/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

Lucario-GX is everywhere and it will be pushing Zoroark-GX decks to the back of the pack unless other formidable threats step in to stifle its dominance. Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX has been around forever and has become a folk hero in the Pokemon Trading Card Game as it has been one of the most wildly inconsistent performing decks, as well as inconsistent in an actual game at an event. I’ve been back and forth on the deck all season, even playing it at the first Standard format Regionals of the year all the way back in Hartford, Connecticut but since I have fallen off the bandwagon. My friend Ryan Bruckner took the deck to a day two in Illinois about a month ago with the list my testing group and team have been working on for a while, though.

When you’re building a Stage 2 deck that doesn’t use its Stage 2 as a main attacker there is one thing in mind that you should always be thinking about, “how can I make this deck as consistent as possible by defining certain variables?” For this deck, you should know that Skyla has a lot to do with the consistency of hitting the second turn Vikavolt. In addition, things like Heavy Ball help a lot, serving as ways to get another piece of that all-important puzzle. Lastly, Brigette is underrated in the deck and simply starting with a Brigette on your first turn is all you can ask for to get those Grubbin down and then sit on a Skyla and a searching card to get the Vikavolt on your next turn.

Check out A Cantankerous Deck - Zoroark/Lucario for Portland by Zach.

Cards like Lillie are very random, as you may hit the Vikavolt on your second turn sometimes, but other times it may fail miserably and draw you into a completely clogged hand to which you can’t play any of the cards in it! Brigette is statically always good and you always know what you should probably get with it to make it of good value. My viewpoint when it comes to building this deck is probably seen as unconventional, but I think it should be more standard. Taking as many copies of consistency cards as you can and shoving them into the deck makes the most sense when taking a deck that needs a Stage 2 in play to work and leaving that random chance to inferior cards like Lillie or just hard draw Supporters is far too much of a risk to take on an average playing field.

The best thing Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX has going for it right now is the ability to play Mew from Fates Collide. Mew is one of, if not the best counter to Lucario-GX out there right now since it operates as a non-EX/GX Pokemon and can take respectable one-hit Knockouts on a Lucario-GX with ease. Lucario-GX is going to be everywhere at upcoming events, so playing a deck with a hard counter to it that works is very nice. Don’t let people sell you on Mew-EX or Mewtwo, as they are both very abysmal counters to Lucario-GX since Mew-EX just gets one-shot in return by another Lucario-GX and Mewtwo can’t even knock it out unless the Lucario-GX is being very silly with his or her Energy attachments.

The way I look at a deck like Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX is that it’s a great play for events that you know you want to counter to perceived metagame. There isn’t much room for fancy play with the deck since it’s so incredibly linear, probably the simplest deck in the format, to be frank. When you don’t have much gameplay maneuverability you need to be playing the best, most consistent list there is to make sure that you give yourself a fair chance to win games without relying on skill as much. Let’s look at the list that my testing group has been using (most credit going to Rukan Shao)...

List

Explanations

New to this piece, I’m going to be using a “cut factor” to which I provide a percent chance that I would remove one of the copies of the mentioned card from the list for something else. I think it’s a useful tool to determining what changes you might want to make to one of my personal lists!

3 Vikavolt SUM 52 | Cut Factor: 0%

Three Vikavolt is the correct number for this deck since it works around Prizing problems and still gives you a good chance to draw into it outright instead of having to use a search card to pull it out of the deck. Playing two would be too few and give you poor chances of drawing it and four would be too many since you need lots of other cards in the deck as well. Having two Vikavolt in play is nothing to scoff at either, and it really turns on the heat since you can search out as many as four different Energy each turn to power up your attackers!

3 Grubbin SUM 13 | Cut Factor: 0%

With Brigette in the deck having three Grubbin is just fine, as opposed to four that are used in other lists. Nest Ball is a bad card since you have such a low chance of drawing into it on your first or second turn such that just playing three Grubbin and some extra Brigette counts you will be getting it down on your first turn rather consistently.

3 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60 | Cut Factor: 25%

These are all very important to getting the first turn Brigette and hopefully the second turn Skyla, if applicable. Since this deck doesn’t thin cards as well as something like Zoroark-GX, playing a slightly smaller Brigette count (as opposed to four) is better with another Tapu Lele-GX instead since it can get a variety of Supporters.

3 Tapu Bulu-GX PR-SM SM32 | Cut Factor: 0%

As your main attacker you’re going to want a minimum of three Tapu Bulu-GX. A fourth is just purely unnecessary, but it’s not exactly an awful inclusion, although it’s certainly something I wouldn’t play.

2 Mew FCO 29 | Cut Factor: 50%

Here’s where Lucario-GX counter time comes in! Mew from Fates Collide can use Memories of Dawn to copy the attacks of Tapu Bulu-GX from the Bench and in doing so you get a non-EX/GX attacker that can obliterate things just as well as Tapu Bulu-GX, but you also get to smash Lucario-GX very easily without needing to use a Choice Band to take it down. Mew is also very strong against Buzzwole-GX and has some strong mobility with its free retreat cost.

4 Skyla | Cut Factor: 0%

Consistency is key everyone! Four Skyla increases your odds of having it in your opening hand versus having to use Wonder Tag to fetch it from the deck. Skyla is so great in this deck to get whatever missing piece you need from the Vikavolt puzzle. Heavy Ball, Rare Candy, or even Ultra Ball are always potential suitors when you’re using your Skyla search. Each of these Skyla has some very strong consistency value to the deck and I recommend playing all four very strongly.

4 Guzma | Cut Factor: 50%

This deck needs to be aggressive to keep up with more consistent decks. At least three Guzma is necessary, so I can see cutting one as long as the new addition is something valuable to consistency in some regard.

4 Cynthia | Cut Factor: 5%

Cynthia is the best draw Supporter for this deck to use overall. Getting six cards straight away without having to discard any resources is incredible.

3 Brigette | Cut Factor: 0%

Four Brigette isn’t very good in here since you don’t have many ways to thin them out of your deck past the first turn of play Three is a happy medium with three Tapu Bulu-GX to give yourself many outs to get it.

2 N | Cut Factor: 75%

I think I want to take one of these out for a Professor Sycamore since N is very lackluster in Tapu Bulu-GX decks. You take Prizes quickly and in the late game after an N from your opponent you’re not going to want to draw into an N. Giving your opponent some hand disruption one or two times a game is nice, but I don’t find that being my main use for N… I generally just use it to draw more cards and overall, I think Professor Sycamore would be better in place of it. Almost every deck should still be running at least one copy of N just in case, but more copies in a deck like this just isn’t needed.

4 Ultra Ball | Cut Factor: 0%

These are a must in this deck for so many reasons, namely getting a Tapu Lele-GX for Brigette or Skyla early on and you can even use them to get Vikavolt itself or Grubbin, too!

4 Rare Candy | Cut Factor: 0%

You need to play four of these to give yourself the best odds of getting a Vikavolt going as soon as you can. You already play four Skyla, so you would always play four of these before that but having four of both gives you the best chances.

3 Field Blower | Cut Factor: 0%

Garbotoxin and Parallel City are both annoying cards to play around. Three Field Blower gives you a very solid shot against the both of them, as does using Skyla to get Field Blower itself from your deck.

3 Choice Band | Cut Factor: 0%

Four Choice Band would be nice, but three does the job. With 210 HP being such a relevant number in the Standard format metagame right now, having at least three Choice Band is a must. Anyone that tries to tell you that Fighting Fury Belt is better than Choice Band in this slot is flat out wrong.

2 Heavy Ball | Cut Factor: 0%

Got to get those turn two Vikavolt! Anything above two Heavy Ball is overkill and I’ve liked two the entire season. You have a solid shot of drawing into it starting off and it’s never bad in the middle of the game either since it can get a Tapu Bulu-GX from your deck as well as Vikavolt, obviously.

2 Energy Recycler | Cut Factor: 0%

This deck relies on discarding lots of Energy and that’s where Energy Recycler becomes a necessary part of a skeleton list. I’ve thought that one was enough in the past but two is definitely needed to handle discarding all of your Energy multiple times in a game to hit big numbers. This is a number that should stay the same!

7 Grass Energy | Cut Factor: 0%

This is the perfect number of Grass Energy for this deck. It allows you to use Strong Charge for the Grass effect at least five times, on average, before having to use an Energy Recycler. You attach many of these from your hand when given the opportunity as well so it’s nice to have a bit of a larger count than that of Lightning Energy.

4 Lightning Energy | Cut Factor: 0%

This is the perfect number of Lightning Energy for this deck, although five is a number to consider as well, but it’s a luxury. You can use Strong Charge at least three times with four of these, on average.

Options

Clefairy

Clefairy can be a nice fill-in for one of your Mew if you’re looking for a counter to Gardevoir-GX and Magnezone decks. Metronome is very strong against the powerful attacks of Gardevoir-GX and Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX, respectively to both decks. Clefairy can be a scary card for opponents to deal with since there are so many ways you can play against it. I love that it can get an opponent to deviate from his or her usual strategy by second guessing about which attacker to even use!

Professor Sycamore

A single Professor Sycamore in place of an N could be strong. A Professor Sycamore instead of a Cynthia could be okay as well, but that’s something I would need to test more. The draw to a few Professor Sycamore is the fact that you can thin some of the junk out of your deck since you don’t have something like Zoroark-GX to Trade away useless cards. I think the draw Supporter count in this deck right now is perfect, six, so that shouldn’t be altered. I just am unsure of which Supporters those should be in a perfect world, so those numbers could potentially be rotated around.

Float Stone

A single Float Stone can be sweet to make your Skyla drops into a potential switching card by simply fetching a Float Stone. Mobility is very nice in general, but Mew makes up for some of your switching problems by serving as a pivot.

Matchups

I'm including every deck out there this time around so some matchups will be abbreviated or excluded because of self-explaination.

Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX | Even

This is one of your closest matchups, mainly because of your opponent’s own aggressive game plan and also because of the inclusion of Sudowoodo with Watch and Learn. Watch and Learn is particularly annoying because it can copy Nature’s Judgement after you use it and walk you right into a one-hit Knockout. As a non-EX/GX Pokemon, this is super frustrating to handle in response. Tapu Bulu-GX needs a Choice Band to take down a Buzzwole-GX in response, so there will be times that you whiff that Tool and get punished for it, bringing this matchup closer to even than anything. This is one of the only matchups that Fighting Fury Belt would actually help in, since you could get a buff to your HP and potentially avoid return Knockouts from your opponent’s Pokemon. I still don’t think Fighting Fury Belt is worth playing, though. This is a matchup where if you set up decently you will likely win, provided your opponent doesn’t run perfectly on Max Elixir.

Garbodor / Buzzwole-GX | Even

Your Field Blower count of three puts in work in this matchup. Buzzwole-GX has a hard time making big attacks for one-hit Knockouts over and over without getting lucky on Max Elixir, or if you’re talking the slower version of the deck with Trashalanche then your opponent is going to need to manually attach one Energy at a time to his or her Buzzwole-GX to score one-hit Knockouts. Some of the same concepts apply from the Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX matchup too, you’re going to need Choice Band to finish some Knockouts so prioritize getting that. As with any more clunky Pokemon, if you remove your opponent’s potential to take one-hit Knockouts in return to yours, then you’ve already won the game.

Garbodor / Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX | Even

Garbodor / Espeon-GX | Even

This might be the toughest Garbodor matchup since your opponent can hit you with Confusion. When Confused, you need to sometimes pass your turn and focus on getting a Guzma to get out of the Special Condition on your following turn. Having a Float Stone makes this matchup a lot easier, so that’s something to consider if you’re having troubles with this one.

Garbodor / Golisopod-GX | Even

Gardevoir-GX | Unfavorable

Greninja BREAK | Slightly Favorable

This matchup is close if you aren't able to get a turn two Vikavolt down and Strong Charge to a Tapu Bulu-GX. Shadow Stitching puts you in a world of hurt if you don’t have a Tapu Bulu-GX powered up and ready to go, so be ready for that. Make sure to get the best value you can get out of Tapu Wilderness GX in healing the damage from (hopefully) multiple attacks from a Greninja. Once you have two Tapu Bulu-GX powered up and ready to go then you will win.

Ho-Oh-GX | Highly Favorable

Hoopa | Favorable

A nice thing about Tapu Bulu-GX is that it never seems to have problems with any of the meme decks. Hoopa can attack and stall and whatnot against decks that can’t handle a Pokemon that can’t be damage by Pokemon-EX/GX, but Tapu Bulu-GX has Mew and Vikavolt to handle it. There’s no reason you should ever lose this matchup.

Lucario-GX / Lycanroc-GX | Favorable

This new deck is part of the reason that I think Tapu Bulu-GX will see a bigger resurgence than originally imagined after its Top Sixteen placing at the last Regionals. Lucario-GX is weak to Mew which can obviously copy the attacks of one of your Benched Tapu Bulu-GX. Lycanroc-GX is weak to Tapu Bulu-GX itself so there’s not much an opponent can do to stop you from winning this matchup.

Magnezone | Even

You and your opponent both operate the same kind of strategy, building up a Stage 2 Pokemon and getting big attacks off for one-hit Knockouts. You’re a bit more consistent in that you can search your Energy directly out of the deck with Strong Charge so that’s a bit of a leg up you can have on your opponent sometimes. This is really just a race to see you can set up first, so play this matchup by ear and prioritize getting the first attack off. Remember that you need a Choice Band to take down a Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX in one hit!

Passimian | Favorable

Silvally-GX Toolbox | Favorable

Silvally-GX clocks in with 210 HP, just the number you’re always hoping to see in a matchup. You can easily handle this deck but sometimes the techs that a Silvally-GX deck plays can make it a little more difficult for you. Mimikyu, Sudowoodo and others are some things that come to mind and those two at least can copy the attacks of Tapu Bulu-GX and take one-hit Knockouts on it right back. Regardless, you can work around that by using Mew to attack and this matchup is a piece of cake overall.

Sylveon-GX | Highly Favorable

This matchup is very easy because there is little a Sylveon-GX player can do to disrupt you. Nature’s Judgement with a Choice Band does just enough to take down a Sylveon-GX in one hit, too! Plea GX can set you back a turn or two but that’s no bother since you can just set more Vikavolt up thereafter. Sylveon-GX is meant to disrupt decks that rely on Special Energy, mainly, and this deck is not one of those, unfortunately for your opponent.

Talonflame / Rampardos | Favorable

Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX | Even

In the mirror match your two Mew can come in clutch to give your opponent a harder time to take all six Prizes as quickly as possible. However, the biggest thing about the mirror is just not skipping a beat, ever. You need to out-consistency your opponent, and sometimes there are opportunities to knock out a Vikavolt and your opponent won’t have a follow up Grubbin down to Evolve! Aside from all of that, just focus on taking Prizes as quickly as you can, and obviously, going first so you can get the first Vikavolt off is a huge advantage. If you can, try to make your Active Pokemon a non-EX/GX if you go second, so that your opponent doesn’t get an immediate Prize advantage over you.

Volcanion-EX Toolbox | Slightly Favorable

Volcanion-EX can go toe-to-toe with you in a good game with Max Elixir hits, but in a bad game you will run it over. Volcanion with Power Heater is annoying to deal with since it has 130 HP, so you’ll need to discard all your Energy to knock it out. Because of this, it’s a good idea to focus on taking down Pokemon-EX/GX to keep ahead in the Prize race without having to spend many resources on taking down single Prize Pokemon. It’s a possibility to run out of Energy when you have to knock out multiple Volcanion, so just be careful.

Zoroark-GX / Garbodor | Slightly Unfavorable

As a Garbodor deck, your opponent is a little more clunky, but he or she does have the added benefit of being able to Trade still when Garbotoxin isn’t online. Bursting Balloon can set up Knockouts for your opponent, but you’ll want to just be sure to play around that with Field Blower. You can certainly manage this matchup if you just don’t play into Trashalanche or Bursting Balloon plays where your opponent can take you down on his or her following turn. The problem is certainly Trashalanche in the early game, and N with Bursting Balloon down can mean you might be passing your turn a lot of the time. This is a volatile matchup that can go two ways.

Zoroark-GX / Gardevoir-GX | Slightly Unfavorable

This is a difficult matchup for many reasons. Zoroark-GX is the only Pokemon in your opponent’s deck that you can take down in one attack from Nature’s Judgement which is nice, but once Gardevoir-GX comes to play you’re going to be in a bind to take one-hit Knockouts without nonsense like Tapu Koko or Professor Kukui, two generally unneeded cards in this deck. You’d best avoid this deck because your opponent’s Parallel City makes it even harder for you!

Zoroark-GX / Glaceon-GX | Favorable

This deck might grow in popularity now that it has a Top Eight finish at a Regionals, but that’s good news for you since the deck is very simple to beat with Tapu Bulu-GX. Ability lock for Pokemon-EX/GX only shuts down your Tapu Lele-GX, so worst-case scenario you mike just have a rough start in a game. Besides that, you can just use Nature’s Judgement at will and clear your opponent’s board quickly.

Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX | Even

This matchup is close because of your opponent’s Parallel City and Armor Press attack from Golisopod-GX. You can try to rush his or her board by using Nature’s Judgement with a Choice Band for early one-hit Knockouts, but once your opponent solidifies a board position it can be tricky. The release of Lucario-GX is going to push this deck out of the top contenders, along with Gardevoir-GX variants, so that’s good news for this deck.

Zoroark-GX / Greninja BREAK | Even

Zoroark-GX / Lucario-GX | Favorable

This super cool new deck is pretty easy for you to beat. Mew roles tide against a Lucario-GX and Tapu Bulu-GX can handle Zoroark-GX. The only problem is if you have a slow start and your opponent is able to take down your Vikavolt pieces before you can really set up effectively.

Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX | Slightly Favorable

This deck is pretty easy for you to beat as well, again because Zoroark-GX is so easy to take down and Lycanroc-GX is even weak to Grass Pokemon. Your opponent can get an edge by playing Parallel City, limiting your Bench, and then forcing up Grubbin or Vikavolt and taking them down before you get to reap the benefits of Strong Charge. That or a Prize plan where your opponent targets Tapu Lele-GX is another win condition for him or her. At any rate, prioritize having two Grubbin down at all times and make sure to find another if one goes down, or a Vikavolt too, for that matter.

Zoroark-GX / Magnezone | Slightly Favorable

Zoroark-GX / Solgaleo-GX | Slightly Unfavorable

Zoroark-GX / Weavile | Unfavorable

There’s many things that work against you in this matchup. Not only is your main support Pokemon toting an Ability that beefs up the damage output of Evil Admonition, but Zoroark BREAK can use Foul Play to copy the Nature’s Judgment of your Tapu Bulu-GX to take one-hit Knockouts with ease. Zoroark-GX and its Trickster GX will also buy your opponent another Tapu Bulu-GX one-hit Knockout at some point so all in all there are a lot of unfortunate things that are going to make this super difficult for you to win.

Conclusion

This is my top pick for Portland, Oregon Regionals right now. I dislike that it doesn’t award skilled play since it can be very mindless to play sometimes, but with such a great matchup spread it is very hard for me to ignore. Lucario-GX should be everywhere if people pick up on it, so the deck is naturally an amazing play with the inclusion of Mew. We’ll see how things shape up… Good luck out there, thanks for reading!

~Caleb

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