03/27/2018 by Chris Fulop
The biggest news in Pokemon right now ( Sorry 6x Regional Champion Ryan Sabelhaus! ) is the new found legality of a new Promo card, Lucario GX. Lucario GX is a Fighting type Pokemon with 3 fantastic attacks. Okay, fine, 2 fantastic attacks, and a third which honestly should very rarely come up. Fighting is arguably the best type to be in the format at the moment, because it preys on the best card in the format: Zoroark GX.
Look at some of the most defining cards of the current metagame at the moment. Buzzwole GX. Lycanroc GX. Gallade. Yes, all of these are great cards in a vacuum, but they really benefit from the fact that they can deal double damage against Zoroark. All of these Pokemon can OHKO a Zoroark, with some work needed to get there. Buzzwole needs 3 full attachments to pull off the task, unless you count a dream scenario where you have multiple Strong Energy and some combination of Choice Band and Regirock EX or Prof. Kukui. Lycanroc requires two attachments. Gallade is the only one of these Pokemon which can score the OHKO off of one attachment, but it requires specifically a Double Colorless Energy and is of course, a Stage 2 Pokemon.
Lucario gets to OHKO a Zoroark for a lone Fighting Energy. Let that sink in. It also can OHKO a Tapu Lele GX for a Strong Energy and a Choice Band. For those who have kept up with my articles for the past few months, you know how much I had praised the ability of Gallade and Regirock EX being able to OHKO a Tapu Lele. That requires a convoluted series of things to fall into place to accomplish but I still felt it was worthwhile to pursue. Lucario gets to play the same game, only without all of the hoops to jump through.
What this means is that Lucario gets to punish any deck with an actual engine, more or less. While Zoroark GX is the best card in the format and present in an extremely high percentage of the format's most viable decks, it isn't in every deck. Tapu Lele, on the other hand, more or less is. You are hard pressed to find decks that do not run either of these cards. Even Greninja seems to have embraced running a copy of Tapu Lele GX now.
What is disgusting about this card is that it isn't just a "counter" card, or a silver bullet for specific cards or decks. The card is also objectively powerful. Aura Strike draws a somewhat misleading parallel to Golisopod GX's First Impression. Both have a base 30 damage but conditionally do 120 damage for only one Energy. Lucario gets benefits beyond type advantage for being a Fighting Type though! It can use Strong Energy, so it can hit for 140 damage. This extra damage cap is pretty important as it lets you OHKO obnoxious non-EX/GX Pokemon. While re-setting the attack isn't that difficult, it is a chore, and as a result being forced to two hit Pokemon, especially ones which give up only one prize, is really undesirable. You can also pair Lucario with Regirock EX for 10 extra damage per Regirock.
The big difference between First Impression and Aura Strike is that Aura Strike's damage boost triggers from Evolving into Lucario opposed to simply promoting it active this turn. The first use of each is basically a freebie, but repeated uses are more challenging to loop. Golisopod could re-set itself off of Guzma, be it your own or an opponent attacking around it. While you could hunt Wimpod's off the bench, it was a questionable strategy because it just reset Golisopod. In Lucario's case, hunting Riolu is absolutely the correct strategy, as benching the Lucario offers no benefit, and the Riolu are necessary for re-evolution. You are stuck using Acerola ( or Super Scoop Up ) to bounce Lucario. The opponent can stifle your damage output by cutting you off of Acerola by not damaging the Lucario at all. This is usually great, as you get to further develop without the opponent progressing their game much, but if you are using Lucario as an aggressive component, if you miss a big chunk of damage by them passing without an attack, it still hurts you. Since Aura Strike, while great, is able to be played around, it really helps to have other attackers to pair with Lucario. Lucario isn't quite a primary attacker in it's own right. It needs at least one partner to be at it's best.
I've focused on Aura Strike so far, but Lucario's other attackers are worth discussing. I took a slight jab at it earlier, but Cyclone Kick isn't useless. It does 130 for FFC, and the problem with this is that it takes 3 attachments. The rate isn't embarrassing, but it should rarely come up. Contankerous Beatdown GX is great, though. ( Not just because of how great the name is, either. ) It is literally Tauros GX's Mad Bull GX. While Tauros hasn't seen a lot of play lately, it has in the past and anyone who has played with it knows how powerful it's GX attack is. If you can't OHKO the Lucario, it is going to eviscerate you on the swing back.
One of the problems Beatdown faces is that players are already encouraged not to swing into Lucario if they can't score a OHKO on it. "Worst case scenario" they get slammed by the GX attack, but even beyond this the damage is likely going to just enable Acerola. There are just multiple reasons now for a player not to want to put chip damage onto a Lucario GX.
With 210 HP, Lucario is actually difficult to OHKO, too. While Gardevoir, Vikavolt, Fire decks, Buzzwole and others can get the KO with work, there are some decks that really do struggle to actually pull it off. Golisopod decks can't do it. Zoroark Lycanroc can't do it. ( I am assuming no self respecting Lucario GX player will walk into a Dangerous Rogue KO here. ) Even Buzzwole and Gardevoir decks require work to be able to hit 210. While I mentioned how great a type Fighting is in this format, being weak to Psychic isn't great either, because players are already running copies of Mew, Mewtwo or Mew EX to be able to combat Buzzwole and Gallade. While these cards aren't insurmountable, the amount of them played should go up since there is just another top tier card for them to be strong against.
So what are the metagame implications of this card's entry into Standard? Oddly enough, I don't expect a major decline in Zoroark's play. The card is just too good, and it already being targeted and has proven proven to be resilient. It is too effecient and too powerful an engine to be truly hated out of the format. The card I am concerned about is Golisopod. It feels like Lucario is just an upgrade over it in many cases, and I'm unsure if there is justification enough to play the Grass alternative still. Also I can see an increase in the number of Guzma decks play if Lucario ends up being super popular, which I suspect it will. Being able to work around a Lucario and take out Riolu is going to be important for decks which are not good at OHKO Lucario.
Anyways, I have two builds for Lucario GX which I feel are very strong, plus a fringe outlier that I think will still end up being shy of viable. Those decks are Lucario Zoroark, Lucario Buzzwole, and Lucario Garchomp respectively.
- 4x Zorua
- 4x Zoroark GX
- 3x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Tapu Koko
- 1x Mew EX
- 3x Riolu
- 2x Lucario GX
- 3x Brigette
- 3x N-supporter
- 2x Cynthia
- 1x Mallow
- 3x Acerola
- 3x Guzma
- 1x Professor Kukui
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 2x Evosoda
- 1x Enhanced Hammer
- 1x Max Potion
- 4x Puzzle of Time
- 1x Parallel City
- 2x Field Blower
- 3x Choice Band
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
This is the most obvious combination for the card, as Zoroark is both a great attacker and a draw engine. I mentioned before that Lucario wants a viable, unconditional partner attacker that isn't easy to play around, and Zoroark has proven how well it fits that bill. Also, if you are expecting to play Acerola fairly frequently, having additional draw power to make up for the lack of a draw Supporter each turn is beneficial. Trade not only offsets the disadvantage you inherit by frequently using utility Supporters, but it helps you draw into your Acerolas/Puzzle of Times. The Zoroark pairing is absolutely the best build for actually abusing the Acerola gimmick. Also, this is a fairly easy "port over" from Golisopod/Zoroark, so I expect it to be a popular archetype since the skeleton for the deck already exists.
The Pokemon lines are pretty straight forward. 4-4 Zoroark is standard, and there is no real reason to deviate from that here. 3-2 Lucario GX is similar to what you would get from Golisopod. Since you need a reserve of Riolu on the bench to be able to evolve/re-evolve, having more copies of the Basic Pokemon makes sense. I could legitimately see something like a 4-2 line being totally fine here too. Since Brigette is such an important turn one play in any Zoroark deck, 3 Tapu Lele feels right. The card is phenominal anyways, so you really don't have to twist my arm on it.
The last two Pokemon are a little more exciting. Mew EX is almost a necessity now. It is great against Lucario, Buzzwole and Gallade, most of which are problems for the deck. I don't feel like Buzzwole is a "problem" per say, but Gallade can prey on Zoroark while only giving up one prize. It is also difficult to actually KO back otherwise as you need either Prof. Kukui and a Strong Energy or two Strong Energy on a Lucario. Slamming Lucario into Lucario isn't going to go very well usually, so it will often devolve into a Guzma war. Unfortunately, this deck runs a 4-4 Zoroark line and 3 Tapu Lele, so you will almost always have liabilities on the bench to prey on. Since you play the Guzma game worse in a "mirror" match, you really do need some safety net in place for the matchup. An attacker that can OHKO a Lucario cheaply is exactly what you want. It is unfortunately an easy enough return KO, but against Lucario you are often giving up a GX KO anyways. I do feel like this deck will end up being an underdog against any other potential Lucario GX decks, which makes me a little concerned. That said, it is also likely the "best" deck you can play it in just because of how good Zoroark is in a vacuum.
Tapu Koko is useful because it's spread attack lets you reach important KO numbers that are otherwise out of reach. Lucario can it 170 with a Strong Energy and a Choice Band. With a Prof. Kukui it can hit 190, which gets you Buzzwole and assorte 180 HP EX/GX Pokemon. With a Koko spread, you get to 210, which covers all 200 HP GX Pokemon, rival Lucarios, and Ho-oh GX, who otherwise has an effective 210 HP because of it's Fighting resistance. A second spread gets you to 230 which reaches Gardevoir GX. Gardevoir is a slow enough deck usually that it isn't even unreasonable to expect to pull off a pair either. Normally I would make a case for it being a "seventh prize" attacker too since you rely mainly on GX attackers, but it isn't really the case here. Since players will be going after Riolu, they'll be taking plenty of 1 prize KOs anyways. On top of that, both Riolu and Zorua are pretty vulnerable early on and give up KOs often.
As for the Energy, a stock Golisopod list runs 4 Double Colorless and 3 Grass Energy. I'm opting to run 4 Double Colorless and 4 Strong Energy. Since Strong Energy is a Special Energy card, it is vulnerable to Enhanced Hammer. Once set up, Lucario can find itself in very grindy games, and the attrition from Hammers can really add up. Also, while Golisopod simply doesn't benefit at all off additional Grass Energy, the damage bonus from Strong Energy adds up. I feel like the correct number of Grass in Golisopod is between 3 and 4, and that the slight differences applying to Strong Energy in Lucario make me want to round up.
The Supporter line is pretty simple. With a Zoroark deck I am pretty well locked in on the 3 Tapu Lele, 3 Brigette, 4 Ultra Ball counts. I just want the deck to be as consistent as reasonably possible. I wouldn't even hate a 4th Lele. 3 Guzma is also pretty normal, and 3 Acerola is perfect for reliably having them for Lucario use. I am running a 3 N, 2 Cynthia, 0 Sycamore spread on my draw Supporters. N is the best Supporter in the game, and is too strong when paired alongside Trade. Sycamore is just too dangerous in a deck that really needs to conserve it's resources. You already are discarding cards to Trade, and a lot of your counts are thinner due to the fact you have Puzzle of Time. Discarding cards to a Supporter is a risk I don't want to take. On the topic of Puzzle of Time, I am often guilty of spreading my Puzzles too thin, so to speak. I trim a lot of numbers because the counts are appropriate when you have access to Puzzles...but while the individual numbers look like reasonable compromises, when you do this across the board too much, you rely on Puzzle for too many roles and that can collapse on you. I don't think I've done so here, but it may be close.
Mallow is a great card to pair with Zoroark, and I actually dislike only having the one copy of the card in this deck. I generally like having a pair of them, but in this case I have to make room for a Professor Kukui, and I also will be using Acerola a decent amount over the course of a game. As a result, I'm down to a lone copy. I have kind of discussed Kukui in passing when talking about hitting certain numbers, and there is a chance I want 2 copies of it. I think 3 Lele and the Puzzles that one copy will be fine.
To go with the toolbox nature of Zoroark decks, I'm running a Parallel City, an Enhanced Hammer, and a Max Potion. Enhanced Hammer is just a great card when paired with Puzzle of Times, and if Lucario is popular, being able to attack their Strong Energy will be important. Max Potion offers a bit of redundancy with Acerola, but it can be searched for with Mallow and played in the same turn, and is also a powerful Puzzle target. That said, it is probably my least favorite card in the deck and the most likely cut.
Parallel City is an interesting card in the deck. While Parallel City is a nice and disruptive card, I'm not sure how much I like it in this deck. One of the selling points for Lucario is how well it picks off Tapu Lele and Zoroark. Parallel City may limit their bench...but in turn also gives them a means to discard their liabilities. For the same reason I cut the Paralle City from my Gardevoir list that was trying to get KOs on Lele, I don't care for it here. I actually mainly am including it because it can be used to reset my own bench, and I can see pitching Zoroarks and Leles vs other Lucario decks mattering.
- 3x Riolu
- 3x Buzzwole GX
- 1x Zygarde EX
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 2x Remoraid
- 2x Octillery
- 1x Regirock EX
- 2x Lucario GX
- 3x Brooklet Hill
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 1x Evosoda
- 3x Guzma
- 3x Acerola
- 3x Choice Band
- 2x Field Blower
- 4x Max Elixir
- 1x Float Stone
- 4x Cynthia
- 4x N-supporter
- 4x Strong Energy
- 8x Fighting Energy
While not quite the cut/paste job we got to do with Lucario Zoroark, this is still an example of taking Lucario and fitting a line into an already established tier 1 archetype. Buzzwole has been a mainstay in the Standard metagame for awhile now, in different iterations, and now there is a nice shiny new toy to play with alongside it. Buzzwole has already seen play alongside Acerola ( primarily in Buzzwole Garbodor builds ) since Buzzwole is a 190 HP Basic attacker that attacks for a lone Energy. While generally you want to pair Buzzwole with Fighting Fury Belt if you are going to be trying to abuse Acerola, Choice Band is just too good with Lucario to not be playing it.
Buzzwole is also a great set up attacker. The 30/30 split can really set up beefier Pokemon for easy Lucario KOs. This is one of the reasons why I'm not bothering to play something like a Prof. Kukui in the deck even though it still allows you to hit the same important numbers it would in Lucario Zoroark.
While Max Elixir doesn't really sound super impressive with the rest of the Pokemon in this deck, it is so good with Buzzwole that I'm still playing 4 copies of it in here.
Buzzwole has been "handicapped" ( and I use this term very loosely as the card is fantastic ) by the fact that it is either doing mild damage for one energy, or getting OHKOs for 3 attachments worth. If you wind up in the spot where the opponent is able to keep you from building up Energy, it is easy to wind up being offensively anemic in the late game. Having a 1 energy "Sweeper" that can hit for 170+ for an Energy bridges the gap very well.
One of the other things I really like about this deck is that it should be a substantial favorite in the Lucario "mirror" matches. You can often get by without needing to use Tapu Lele at all, as this is not a Brigette deck. You also do not have the liability of Zoroark, yet still have a powerful draw engine in the format of Octillery.
There could be a case made to try to cram in some of the cards that got cut to fit Lucario GX, but I don't think they are really needed. Those cards in particular are Lycanroc GX and Carbink BREAK. While both are good cards, I think Lucario is just a stronger card overall, and to try and squeeze other lines into the deck would just clunk it up. That being said, I could see running a Sudowoodo in here. I've been continually impressed with the card, but I'm not certain it is needed either.
- 1x Lucario GX
- 4x Riolu
- 3x Lucario
- 3x Tapu Lele GX
- 4x Gible
- 2x Gabite
- 2x Garchomp
- 1x Garchomp
- 3x Brigette
- 4x Cynthia
- 1x N-supporter
- 1x Guzma
- 1x Acerola
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 3x Evosoda
- 4x Rare Candy
- 2x Rescue Stretcher
- 2x Pal Pad
- 2x Special Charge
- 2x Choice Band
- 2x Field Blower
- 3x Double Colorless Energy
- 3x Fighting Energy
- 2x Strong Energy
- 1x Rainbow Energy
Finally on the Lucario topic, we have a deck that was giftwrapped for us in Ultra Prism, which is Garchomp Lucario. The deck has proven thus far to be too slow and tight on Energy attachments to be a competitor, but Lucario GX does do quite a bit to fill in a gap for the deck. The premise of the deck is to get out Garchomps, and then use that to enable the Ultra Prism Lucario's Ability to start searching for cards and setting up. The Ultra Prism Garchomp has a powerful attack for FCC, doing 100 damage or 200 if you played a Cynthia for the turn. The problem is, while Garchomp's damage output is very high, it requires two attachments to attack, and only has 150 HP. It is really difficult to actually chain them together. On top of that, you often end up behind on prizes by the time you do set up.
Luckily, Lucario GX covers a lot of the deck's flaws. It is an easy Pokemon to be able to attack with on the 2nd turn. On top of this, it is a nice wall that no one wants to attack into because of Contankerous Beatdown. You don't actually even have access to a full Acerola game plan in this deck, but you don't need it. You are still primarily a Garchomp deck, but Lucario GX is the perfect low maintenance attacker the deck needed.
The other challenge this deck faces stems from actually fitting everything into it that you need. The deck needs a thick Garchomp line, as well as a thick Lucario line. As a Stage 2 deck, you also need an extra amount of consistency because you absolutely cannot afford to stumble. This makes it surprisingly difficult to also fit in the cards that you'd like to run as a toolbox to get a nice payoff from Lucario's search.
The hardest part for me is trying to come up with some sort of Energy package that isn't a total mess. I'm not even sure I've been successful. Since Garchomp requires FCC, you need both Double Colorless Energy and Fighting Energy. Unfortunately, being a Dragon type, this means you can't use Strong Energy to satisfy the Fighting half of that requirement. Lucario GX, on the other hand, really benefits off of Strong Energy, so you do want a copy or two. I'm running 3 Double Colorless Energy since you can search for them with Lucario and you don't really need them until after you get Garchomp up anyways. With a pair of Special Charge, you can get them back anyways, and search them back out easily enough. I'm running a split of 3 Fighting Energy, 2 Strong Energy and 1 Rainbow Energy to provide Fighting Energy. The Strong Energy are for the Fighting Type Garchomp and Lucario GX. The Rainbow Energy seems out of place at first...it won't really open up any new attacks, but what it does do is give you a Fighting Energy that can both be attached to a Garchomp and also get shuffled back into your deck with Special Charge. With 150 HP, the extra 10 damage will rarely make the difference between getting two hit KOed an OHKOed. It could be too cute and fancy, but I'm really concerned about having access to enough Energy over the span of a game.
In order to make the deck as consistent as possible, I'm running 3 Tapu Lele GX, 3 Brigette, 4 Ultra Ball and 3 Evosoda. Evosoda is incredibly good in this deck, and I'd love to fit a 4th copy. Tapu Lele is a bit of a double edged sword in the deck. You really, really want a turn 1 Brigette, but at the same time do not want to commit a bench space to a Lele.
For Supporters, I'm running the obvious 4 Cynthia ( I got the tip off from my good friend Garchomp. ) and an N. I have to settle for only 1 Guzma, but a lot of the deck's damage output comes from the Cynthia clause. I'm running 2 Pal Pad as a way to get back Supporters, so I do have access to as many as 8 Cynthia, 3 Guzma and 3 N. Finally, one Acerola ( 3 with Pal Pads ) gives your Lucario GX a bit more play. The "out of place" Rainbow Energy is actually great here too, as if the opponent avoids hitting it, you can actually trigger your own Acerola with it.
With Lucario's Ability, you can actually manage a gimmicky engine like this. This mentality carries over to the Special Charges I mentioned before, and a pair of Rescue Stretcher. Stretcher helps to keep Garchomps in play, and also lets you re-use Lucario GX if need be.
Finally, I have to run a pair of Choice Band and a pair of Field Blower. Choice Band is too good with Lucario GX and it also lets you hit for 230 damage with a Garchomp. Being able to search it up easily means only having a pair of them isn't that bad either. As for Field Blower, the deck's entire engine relies on Lucario, so you can't afford to get locked down by Garbotoxin.
Don't get me wrong...I don't think this deck is good enough to be anywhere near tier 1. I'm even less confident that this is the correct 60 card list for the deck. I feel like I'd be doing a disservice by not discussing it at all though since it is a deck that does get to showcase Lucario GX in a different manner. The deck is really fun, and something different to play if you are tired of the standard Zoroark and Buzzwole decks. I'd be willing to revisit the deck once the Fighting version of Garchomp comes out, as I think that adds a lot to the deck.
I'm going to close this article with a deck I've been really high on at the moment, and a deck I've been having pretty good success with against the Lucario decks: Ho-oh Salazzle. Yes. That means there is NO Gardevoir list in this article. I am just as shocked as you are.
- 3x Ho-Oh GX
- 4x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Oranguru
- 1x Volcanion EX
- 1x Turtonator GX
- 2x Salandit
- 2x Salazzle GX
- 1x Dawn Wings Necrozma GX
- 3x Professor Sycamore
- 2x Cynthia
- 1x N-supporter
- 3x Kiawe
- 4x Guzma
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 2x Nest Ball
- 2x Super Rod
- 3x Choice Band
- 3x Float Stone
- 3x Max Elixir
- 2x Field Blower
- 13x Fire Energy
Ho-oh/Kiawe seems like a gimmick, but it actually works really well. The game plan is pretty straight forward. Take 4 prizes with a Ho-oh, and then transition into Salazzle GX and close the game out. Turtonator GX and Volcanion EX can both sub in as a powerful Kiawe target if need be, too.
The deck is very linear in what it is trying to do. You need to find both pieces of the "combo" on the first turn. You need a Kiawe, and a target. 4 Tapu Lele GX, 4 Ultra Ball and 3 Kiawe give you 11 draws for a Kiawe. 3 Ho-oh, 1 Turtonator, 1 Volcanion, 4 Ultra Ball and 2 Nest Ball give you 11 draws for an attacker. You don't "lose" if you fail to pull off a turn 1 Kiawe, but you do end up at a pretty sizable disadvantage.
If the deck goes first and gets to Kiawe onto a Ho-oh, it is favored in almost every matchup. Going 2nd and pulling it off is still very strong, but you often get your Ho-oh hit first, get a KO, and then lose the Ho-oh. If you get to Kiawe to a benched Ho-oh, and it doesn't eat a Guzma, you are again in very good shape in most matchups. The fact that Tapu Lele is a good attacker against Ho-oh makes it pretty easy for the average deck to 2 hit a Ho-oh despite it's hefty HP total.
Beyond the initial Kiawe'd attacker you get to rebuild using manual attachments and Max Elixirs, hopefully giving you a follow up for when it does go down. In really bad positions, you can turn to Turtonator GX's Nitro Boost to flood your field with Energy. With 190 HP, Turtonator is a tough OHKO, so you don't give up a ton of ground transitioning into it.
I'm running 3 Ho-oh, 1 Volcanion EX and 1 Turtonator GX. The Ho-oh are your ideal attackers, but the other 3 are serviceable. Turtonator's primary role is Nitro Boost, and Volcanion EX is useful for Steam Up, which lets Ho-oh hit for as much as 240 damage with a Choice Band. Which there is an argument for the 4th Ho-oh based on the fact the deck really wants to optimize the odds it gets the turn 1 Kiawe off, additional "Ho-ohs" would be better served as Nest Balls.
Oranguru is absolutely great in this deck. Not only are you vulnerable to N since you are a very aggressive deck, you empty your hand quickly early and often, and can actually draw a decent number of cards off of the monkey throughout the course of the average game. Your turns are often spent using Kiawe or Guzma as your Supporter, so any additional draw power is appreciated.
A 2-2 Salazzle GX line is all you need, because you just need to get one Salazzle out at the end of a game. Honestly, you don't always even need Salazzle, as some games you can sweep with a pair of Ho-ohs. Being able to Max Elixir to a Salandit and attach and evolve to power up in one turn gives the deck the cheaper attacker it otherwise lacks.
I'm running 13 Fire Energy because the deck is extremely energy hungry. You want to make an attachment every turn. You need to hit your Elixirs when you can. You sometimes need to use Steam Up. You also need your math to optimally do this to hold up under the assumption you hit your turn 1 Kiawe, so your effective Fire count is 4 less.
The first thing you'll notice with the Trainers is the extremely low number of draw Supporters. I only run 3 Prof. Sycamore, 2 Cynthia and 1 N! The deck has no additional draw besides Oranguru! This is deranged! Well, a little deranged. That being said, the deck doesn't really have a lot of leeway to be using Supporters? The first turn needs to be a Kiawe. Once you start attacking with Ho-oh, you need to be using Guzma to reset it's Phoenix Burn. You don't actually end up using many draw Supporters since the deck is preoccupied doing other things a lot of the time. With 4 Lele, you can get by with the thinner numbers.
I'm running 3 Choice Band alongside the Volcanion EX. In general you really only need to cap at 210 damage, which means a Band or a Steam Up. 3 Float Stone helps with resetting your attacks, and works incredibly well with Dawn Wing Necrozma GX. I don't think I need to sing the praises of "Rush In" with a Float Stone, but I do want to defend the card against arguments against it's Dark weakness. Yes, the card gets absolutely destroyed by Zoroark GX, but you don't actually care. You don't bench the Necrozma until it is needed to reset a Ho-oh. If they want to take their turn and resources to ignore your Ho-oh and KO a Necrozma, that is absolutely well worth it as it is better than them KOing the Energy laden Ho-oh.
Even with 13 Fire Energy, I'm running 2 Super Rod. You want to refill the deck with Fire Energy, but I am also running a bunch of 1-of Pokemon, and a thinner Salazzle line. It may feel like overkill but it is worth it. Finally, I'm running 2 Field Blower. You are surprisingly resiliant to Garbotoxin, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I also don't want to deal with Fighting Fury Belt robbing KOs.
There are two cards that are real considerations for the deck. The first is a Volcanion. It is a decent means to power up your Pokemon, and you can leverage the "7th prize" gimmick very well with this deck. Most importantly, it is a very big deal when trying to actually beat the Wobbuffet/Hoopa mill deck. You don't have a real attacker against Hoopa otherwise. I don't think I'd actually play the card if I wasn't worry about the Mill decks, but if they are a concern it is probably worth adding. The last card I've seen played in builds before is Wobbuffet. It stops Abilities while active, except for those of Psychic Pokemon...such as your Tapu Lele GX. It feels super gimmicky to me, and somewhat unreliable. I like that it slows down an opponent's start while you set up. I like that it is a non-EX roadblock they have to deal. I like that you turn off Trade/Abyssal Hand so that you optimize the odds your opponent fails to set up both an attacker and a Guzma in the same turn. I'm sure it is also fairly decent to sit behind if you ever need to do a mid-game Kiawe, but I'd rather just build to avoid having to ever do that.
Why do I like Ho-oh so much? I feel like it is pretty favorable against the Buzzwole and Zoroark decks. It's "nut draw" is really hard for any deck to beat. The deck's worst matchup, Gardevoir, is not popular. There are not a lot of decks relying on non-EX/GX attackers, which greatly benefits it. It is a fairly easy deck to play, and that should be a selling point to everyone. I don't care if you think you are the best player in the world, or feel like with practice you can play any deck optimally. Ease of play not only reduces the odds you make a mistake, but it also increases the speed you can play. This means in match play events, less draws. It also means less mental exertion, and in 9 round days, that really adds up.
Also, the deck is very much an all-in gambit. It is reliable and powerful enough for that to be viable though! One of the good things about it is that you can identify very early on what games are going to be pretty out of reach, making concessions easy, which in turn makes it very easy to actually complete 3 games in 50 minutes with the deck. It is a deck I would be much happier to play at a Regionals than a League Cup. You should very reliably get a Turn 1 Kiawe in 2 out of your 3 games, and that should translate to a lot of wins. If I were playing in a Regionals coming up, this is the deck I would be playing.
Anyways, it will be interesting to see exactly how big of an impact Lucario GX will have on the format. If I had to guess, I feel like it will be a major player but far from oppressive. While this format does have a small cluster of cards which see a tremendous amount of play in various decks, I do expect the metagame to stay fairly healthy. We'll have to see! Until next time!
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