Year of the (Lightning) Rooster
Hi again, 60cards readers! Paulo here to show you one of the best potential upcoming decks for the following times, featuring the Pokémon inspired in the Hawaiian god of war, none other than Tapu Koko, in a simple, straightforward manner. Check it out!
04/12/2017 by Paulo Mimoso
Guardians Rising is just around the corner, and while I await for the bulk of the English language official translations to be released in order to write my new Top 10 article for the set, me and some testing partners have been fiddling around with some concepts we believe have potential from Aqua Turbo (an adaptation of Quad Lapras with Manaphy to consistently hit and run for heal) to adapting current archetypes with really good quality techs such as Drampa-GX for Yveltal or Deciplume, Turtonator-GX for Volcanion, or Garbodor for potentially any Psychic based deck to serve as a late game surprise sweeper. Turns out that from all the obvious choices considered, Tapu Koko-GX, initially overlooked due to the immense shine emanated by its girlfriend Tapu Lele-GX, has both the power and the speed to stand on its own in such a fast format.
Since most of the cards aren't released, I'm not able to do a decklist template so I'll rather lay out my refined list which I believe is perfect at the moment for Koko's choice pool. Nevermind that most cards, even the staples, are proxies, my laziness is superior enough not to care and who doesn't like coloured fake bling, am I right?
(I apologize for the potato quality picture, open image in new tab to have a better view.)
Relevant Card Choices
4x Tapu Koko-GX
Tapu Koko-GX – Lightning – HP170
Ability: Aero Trail
Once during your turn (before your attack), when you play this card from your hand onto your Bench, you may move any number of [L] Energy attached to your Pokemon to this Pokemon. If you move any Energy, switch this Pokemon with your Active Pokemon.
[L][L][C] Sky Claw: 130 damage
[L][L][C] Tapu Thunder GX: Does 50 damage times the number of Energy attached to all of your opponent’s Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack per game.)
When your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
The main star of the deck, Koko has an amazing set of traits turning the stream to its favour. While 170HP is always awkward for a 2-prizer to have, Lightning is an incredibly useful type in the current format, hitting for weakness to the likes of Yveltal-EX and M Rayquaza-EX, both somewhat prominent sections of the format. Sky Claw, hitting 130 for 2 Lightning and 1 Colorless, is the most cost-effective attack in the entire game, in which a basic can hit for those numbers with the least possible effort without any other conditions (bench space, energy number, etc.) or drawbacks involved. That alone makes the roost really powerful, if not for his GX attack, Tapu Thunder GX, which is absolutely insane and pratically guarantees a OHKO against almost any deck in the metagame, again for just these 3 energies. 5 measly placed energies anywhere on your opponent's side of the field can get rid of any threat, forcing your opponent to rethink its energy placement and be more cautious, either giving you time for your already fast setup or creating a situation of disadvantage for him as you can strike at anytime. The card gets even more crazy once you find out that Koko has no weakness (!) meaning that Fighting based decks won't be able to counter it -- in fact, the most effective counters for it as of now are Alolan Muk and Field Blower, but we'll get to that soon. The bothersome retreat cost is a pain in the back, but you can turn that around not even needing the assistance of Float Stone: Koko's ability, Aero Trail, resembles Dragonite EX's similar trait of pushing energies onto itself and rush into the active spot charged up and ready to strike. This is where Koko gets interesting; the analogy with Max Elixir hits the ceiling and any benched Pokémon, even sitters like Lele and Shaymin, can be Elixir targets just waiting for the energy transferral, making it so easy that Koko always has the necessary 3-power charged vanilla attacks, able to 2HKO anything in the format, along with the ultra-broken GX ace in the hole to change the tide of the game. The number of combos that Aero Trail enables is the main reason for the deck to be built the way I built it and the remaining cards all work around it. You can never use too many Aero Trails, as I love flexibility and the ability offers you as many choices as you need to work on your field placement, hence the 4 count of Kokos.
1x Tapu Lele-GX
Tapu Lele-GX – Psychic – HP170
Ability: Wonder Touch
Once during your turn (before your attack), when you play this card from your hand onto your Bench, you may search your deck for a Supporter card, reveal it, and put it in your hand. Then shuffle your deck.
[C][C] Energy Drive: Does 20 damage times the number of Energy attached to both Active Pokemon. This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Weakness or Resistance.
[P] Kapu Cure GX: Restore all HP to 2 of your Benched Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack per game.)
When your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Jirachi-EX and Mewtwo-EX from Next Destinies had a cute hellish waifu mutant and decided to spawn a new Pokémon staple for every deck in the 2 years to come, possibly to eventually replace the most defining Pokémon in recent years, Shaymin-EX. Its long bulky HP for a bench sitter and the no weakness part along with light retreat cost make it an absolute must to increase consistency with no drawback or consequence at all. You won't even use it for the attack, Energy Drive, a renewed version of X Ball and Aero Ball, as Koko's vanilla attack already does the necessary damage and needs to have the energy concentrated on it, but the ability, Wonder Touch, is paramount and extremely effective to either avoid early dead draws or to heavily hamper your opponent's setup options, explaining both the inclusion of the 1x Lillie and the 1x Hex Maniac in the deck. One gets you the possibility of a T1 8-card draw, already proven to be so resourceful if you wish to save some important cards and increase your options rather than just discarding them or shuffling them away. With Lele, Lillie gets that new life. Hex is there as a reminiscent of my Expanded Seismitoad/Giratina days, in which Jirachi-EX for either Ghetsis or Hex Maniac T1 proved to be too powerful and able to win games on their own. With Supporter searching back, I find it way too appealing not to include Hex to widen my available choices for a game plan.
1-1 Electrode line
I opted for the single Electrode line to force the 7th prize game and pave the way for more devastating late game N's. Buzzap Thunder is a truly underrated and fantastic ability, in a way that offers a big energy acceleration that's moveable by Aero Trail, but also controlling your opponent's prizes. Electrode in itself isn't entirely useless as well, as it can KO Shaymins as a last resort (lol). The one thing I don't like about Electrode is that it messes up with consistency, and I'm the kind of guy who puts consistency above all, but I think this 1-1 line is enough to achieve what I need without risking drawing dry too much.
2x Fighting Fury Belt + 2x Exp. Share
One of the most important aspects of deckbuilding - and many people don't really realise this - is the tool choice your deck must have in order to perform optimally. Too few will result in a more permeable field whereas too many will eventually clunk your hand more often than you wish to, and the type of tools used also influence a lot your game state. The most controversial choice here would be choosing Fighting Fury Belts over Choice Band, which is getting really hyped. Choice Band was also my initial choice, but I soon learned that Koko functions a lot better delivering 2HKO than applying resources to go for the OHKO, which would be really hard to achieve anyways, you would need Kukui to hit the 180 number, which isn't quite enough these days for most GX stuff. Instead, I chose the path of survivability rather than aggressivity, and FFB grants Koko a much welcomed 210HP basic bulk, aided by the Aether Stadium, which virtually bestows 240HP freaking HP over Koko for a one-hit. On a basic. With Aero Trail and Max Potion in the mix. Now you see where I'm getting at. The +10 boost FFB provides makes Sky Claw hit for 140, which under certain circumstances can hit just right, specifically Lurantis-GX in a healing battle (110+110), Raikou with energies and without Aether in play to gain advantage in the mirror (actually the main reason I decided NOT to include Raikou, alongside the greater risk of losing energies, which I value most over having one-prize attackers), or the use of Pokémon Center Lady in belted 180HP basics, amounting to 220 spot-on damage. While Choice Band provides indeed greater damage, the 160 is awkward and feels a bit off with the deck's inherent strengths, also creating a fragility with Koko's relatively low HP and increasing the risk of losing precious energies. And speaking of losing energies, Exp. Share is there to solve one of the biggest issues of the deck, energy recovery, by replacing it with preservation, being so much easier to control your hand to do the best desired plays instead of wasting resources just to go after those energies. Exp. Share combos really well with Aero Trail, as a new Koko can enter play and just take off those sweet charges from bench sitters, while it opens space for Kokos themselves to be holding FFB's instead of Exp. Shares and avoiding those Kokos to be aggro'd by sneaky Lysandres. It's all in perfect harmony.
2x Field Blower
Field Blower – Trainer
Choose up to 2 in any combination of Pokemon Tool cards and Stadium cards in play (both yours and your opponent’s) and discard them.
I initially only had 1 of these in the deck in early testings, as I believed it to be much alike Tool Scrapper in practical effects but later learned that 2 (((blowers))) (hah!) can really get the game swinging. This card will change the format and likely greatly hinder the inclusion of Garbodor and making way for Alolan Muk if the meta develops to a more basic-induced Ability stance, which doesn't really seems the case now, unless Koko, Volcanion and Manaphy all become really predominant. This oddly cylindrical object is unfair: discarding 2 of any tools or stadium in play is a really overwhelming disruption and so useful against anything that will, in itself, be a staple in all decks. Blower is also the greatest Koko counter (for this list, at least), in which the high HP and energy conservation, two vital aspects of the deck, can be taken at a critical moment of the game. For offensive purposes, discarding your opponent's Floats, Spirit Links, Exp. Shares and Stadiums is huge, since their own FFBs and Bands won't do as much to you if they don't OHKO your Koko.
2x Max Potion
Until Acerola comes out, Max Potion is the next best thing. The crystal-clear combination with Aero Trail is evident, as you can pull back a damaged Koko and retrieve its energies, and heal it later with Max Potion with no energy loss whatsoever. Including Max Potion does cut off a little bit of consistency and you might not always have it when you need it - or clog your hand inversely - but I felt Max Potion is crucial to avoid stupid snipes to your bench damages Kokos that otherwise would be un-removable and always at risk for 2 easy prizes. And we all know how strong Prize Denial is with a deck that promotes survivability either by endurance or disruption (wink wink Seismitoad and Wailord).
3x Aether Paradise Conservation Area
Aether Paradise Conservation Area – Trainer
Each player’s Basic [G] and [L] Pokemon takes 30 less damage from opponent’s Pokemon’s attacks.
This card stays in play when you play it. Discard this card if another Stadium card comes into play. If another card with the same name is in play, you can’t play this card.
Talk about CONSERVATION. The card's purpose has been explored earlier in the article and is the obvious addition to the deck if the goal is to continue attacking while not dying. Granting a virtual 240 HP to Koko is too good to pass up but one needs to be careful when playing it both during mirror and against Lurantis and especially Decidueye (tip: don't play it against Decidueye). EDIT: I re-read the card and it actually covers only Basics, so it even grants an advantage over Lurantis and Decidueye, thinking that Aether was definitely targeted at Koko and Tapu Bulu. I believe the 3 count is perfect, in a balance of not losing to counter-stadiums and Blower too frequently to become more vulnerable, but not too much to avoid clogging or uselessness of the card in various situations.
Coincidentally or not, this is the Chinese Year of the Rooster, and while this one isn't a Fire-type, it really will bring some thunder up to the metagame. I should add lists always vary per metagame, even more so at a point where we don't even know the full Guardians Rising set, and so this list is vulnerable to changes. Some other lists privilege the inclusion of Raikou, which is a cool card but is a liability in mirror due to math purposes and energy conservation (needs 4 energy to hit 130 and losing that amount can be fatal if a Blower removes an Exp. Share beforehand) and doesn't offer much more in other matchups when you already have Koko's amazing vanilla attack and high resilience and the 1-1 Electrode's prize control. Some people also consider Jolteon-EX, which I don't feel is useful here yet, as Jolteon doesn't take advantage of Aero Trail and is an easy Escape Rope or Ranger target on decks that don't have Item Lock, as is the case. You might want to include some 1-of Supporters such as Olympia rather than Escape Rope as a personal preference, or Pokémon Ranger to deal with opposing Jolteon-EX who can be real nuisances. All in all, I feel that Tapu Koko-GX offers a very interesting and solid deck which will definitely see its place in the metagame.
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