Experts' corner

Caleb Gedemer

Professor Sycamore, Meet Vikavolt — a Traditional Take on Tapu Bulu-GX

Most Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX decks are not playing Professor Sycamore. Check out Caleb Gedemer's personal list and find out why you should be playing Professor Sycamore, and much more!

10/31/2017 by Caleb Gedemer

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Crimson Invasion comes out in under a week, and everyone is hurrying to pick up new cards to fit into preexisting archetypes. One deck that doesn’t need fixing or new additions is Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX. While Venusaur from Shining Legends may make a solid inclusion as I’ve mentioned in my past articles, I’ve found it’s something that isn’t needed, and is more of a luxury. Before I get any further, I’d like to address one of the biggest issues I’ve had with Vikavolt lists over the past six months or so: a lack of a full set of Professor Sycamore. The defense of this obvious inclusion has been rather anecdotal, and I am not convinced.

The most often used selling point for the low count of Professor Sycamore is that this deck “doesn’t need anything but Vikavolt out in the late game”. This is glaringly false, as I for one would love to have a Grass Energy or two that I’ll need to attack with! Nature’s Judgement is the most important thing about this archetype, and the frequency at which you’re able to use it determines a pilot’s success. Without having another Grass Energy for your next turn to set off another attack, you’ll be stuck with a Tapu Bulu-GX with just two of the three energy it needs to go off.

Professor Sycamore will allow you to dig for the energy you need late game, as well as Field Blower when you’re facing off with decks using Garbodor with Garbotoxin. Playing consistency Supporters in a clunky stage 2 deck is necessary, and I think those that go without them are crazy. While I may not be a Vikavolt player by definition, I’ve used the deck once in a tournament, a Regionals, and took home a 6/1/2 record. I bubbled out of the second day, but was still satisfied with my result overall.

If you want to draw a comparison to Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX out of the past, it’s rather similar to Night March. The deck aims to set up a Vikavolt (discard numerous Night March Pokemon) as quickly as possible, and then churn back-to-back-to-back two prize knockouts to win the game, if possible. It’s kind of a boom or bust deck like Night March can be sometimes. In short, if you’re looking to do lots of damage and manage your most important resources (energy cards) carefully, you’ll love this deck!

If there’s one deck that’s never gotten the respect it deserves, it’s this one. I’ve heard things from “I don’t even own Vikavolt” to “it’s the most clunky deck I’ve ever played”. If you ask me, Vikavolt with Tapu Bulu-GX has been slept on for long enough, and I think it’s a fine time to share my list as well as the success I’ve been having with it in the Standard format. Are you ready to be the next Bulu Guru? Let’s go!

A Fine Starting Point!

Want fifty set in stone cards to start off with when trying to build Vikavolt? Here you go!

You obviously want three Tapu Bulu-GX starting off, it is your main attacker and all. Vikavolt and Grubbin should always start at three apiece, and Charjabug is not necessary. I do like it for defense against Espeon-EX and Miraculous Shine, as well as the times where you don’t get the second turn Vikavolt, so there is merit there to play it. You need at least two Tapu Lele-GX in nearly every deck you play these days, and I think Oranguru is a must in this deck as well. When you get dropped down to low hand sizes from N, Oranguru can help you draw into a Supporter or an energy to get things rolling smoothly again. Tapu Koko is necessary in any Tapu Bulu-GX deck as well, as it sets up one-hit knockouts on popular Pokemon like Gardevoir-GX after just one Flying Flip. Nature’s Judgement can do 210 with a Choice Band, so the 20 damage from Flying Flip turns out to be super clutch!

The optimal Supporter count in my testing is a line of Brigette, Guzma, N, Professor Sycamore, and Skyla with increased counts of some of them. I do think you need at least two of some of them, as you can see in the deck list. While I have played extensively with a lower count of Professor Sycamore in the past, I’ve always went back up to four. I would run into all kinds of problems with less than the maximum of four copies, and think it’s foolish not to run the same number yourself.

Four Rare Candy and four Ultra Ball are must-haves in any stage 2 deck, as they allow you to have higher odds of getting your stage 2 Pokemon into play as soon as possible. You want at least three Choice Band in any deck like this in the Standard format, since there are plenty of Pokemon that it allows you to take one-hit knockouts on with Nature’s Judgment, like Golisopod-GX, for one.

Field Blower is self-explanatory, as it is for removing Tools for Garbodor with Garbotoxin, and can also take off Fighting Fury Belt to let you take one-hit knockouts. Heavy Ball is a must in this deck as it greatly improves your consistency. Energy Recycler goes hand in hand with the heavy energy loss you incur from repeatedly removing your own energy to do full damage with Nature’s Judgement.

Starting with seven Grass Energy and four Lightning Energy is an awesome way to begin messing with energy counts in this deck. I’ve gone no lower than four Lightning Energy, and very briefly tried six Grass Energy but that was really bad, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Now with this type of a skeleton to go off of, you should be able to start solidifying your own list for Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX!

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