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Isaiah  Bradner

The Face Of Fighting In Expanded - Lucario for Dallas

It’s Isaiah back again to talk about the new Expanded meta that has shaped up since Anaheim.

01/08/2019 by Isaiah Bradner

Happy New Year, 60cards Readers! It’s Isaiah back again to talk about the new Expanded meta that has shaped up since Anaheim. To no surprise to anyone, Zoroark-GX has once again taken the front seat. While I have historically been a huge fan of Buzzwole-GX, I personally believe that currently, Lucario-GX is our best bet to combat those pesky foxes.


This list was based on Israel Sosa’s which he recently got top eight at Anaheim with. With multiple copies of  Focus Sash (FRF; 91) and Acerola (BUS; 112) , the deck has all the tools it needs to stand up the popular decks right now.


Why Lucario over Buzzwole?

 


As many of you know, I have been a huge fan of  Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) ever since it’s release last year. Unfortunately, I believe that  Lucario GX (BW; 100) is now the optimal fighting deck in Expanded. The reasoning for this is that Lucario-GX can take advantage of Focus Sash and Acerola to give it favorable trades vs most of the format, while Buzz has to play Choice Band (GRI; 121) . Lucario is also a lot more aggressive than currently Buzz is due to the lack of Max Elixir (BKP; 102) . Finally, Lucario has more space to play supporting Pokémon such as  Octillery (BKT; 33) and Oranguru (SUM; 113) . Due to it keeping the fighting typing that makes it good against the ever-so-popular Zoroark-GX, Lucario keeps extremely favorable matchups vs the format while adding a level of consistency Buzzwole didn't have. Without further ado, let's get into my vastly different Lucario list.

The List:

  


List Choices:

Let's go through some of the card choices in this list, including the Pokémon and the Trainers. 

Pokémon:

4-3 Lucario – Sosa played a 3-3 line in his list, but I prefer the added consistency and likelihood of drawing into two Riolu each turn. This is of course helped by Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120) , but with only three Riolu you can get into weird prizing situations.


2-2 Octillery – I’ve once again chosen to up the count of Pokémon. While Sosa played only a 1-1 line, I like having 2-2 because of how it smoothes out your mid- and late- game draws when you’d rather play a  Guzma (BUS; 115) or Acerola over a draw supporter. It also helps with prizing issues and against late game N-supporter (DE; 96) .


1 Oranguru – What??? 2-2 Octillery and Oranguru? Well surprisingly, the Oranguru is actually a one card tech to help the “Zoro/Exodia” matchup. They try to put you to one card in hand with Marshadow (SLG; 45) / Red Card (XY; 124) , Delinquent (BKP; 98) , and then Peeking Red Card (CIN; 97) to shuffle in your good card. If you can get Oranguru on your board turn one, you get extra insurance vs this lock and hopefully will be able to draw your way out of it.


Sudowoodo (GRI; null)  – Having Sudo on your bench severely limits Rayquaza GX (CLS; 109) / Ho-Oh EX (DR; 22) and Zoro/Garb’s explosive power. It also forces Zoro/Garb to get out  Garbodor (DR; 54) vs you, and gives you a large lead if they miss it.


Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74)  – This card should be self-explanatory; it’s too good not to play.


Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  – This card is insane in all fighting decks, and this one is no exception. It allows you to swing the prize trade in your favor and is especially effective with  Korrina (FRF; 95) to grab it and Choice Band.


Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)  – This tech is used mainly with the one Beast Ring (FLI; 102) , and gives you a burst of energy and allows you to make a comeback mid-game; especially vs GX’s with 200 or less HP such as Rayquaza and opposing Buzzwole-GX.


Trainers:


3 N/2 Professor Sycamore (PHF; 101) /2  Colress (PS; 118)  – I play the most N because we have a high Octillery count which allows us to draw better off our N’s while our opponents struggle.  Cynthia (UPR; 119) is largely inferior to Colress almost every time in Expanded, and Sycamore is much better than Cynthia because almost everything can be recovered by  Super Rod (BKT; 149) or VS Seeker (PHF; 109) .


3 Guzma/2 Acerola – These are our situational supporters and the reason we run such a heavy Octillery line. You should aim to be using Acerola every turn your Lucario is hit, and hopefully, Guzma-killing  Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) a turn they don’t attack it.


1 Korinna – Sosa played a very heavy Korrina engine (3) but I personally prefer drawing raw cards over taking specific ones I need. There is still one Korrina for powerful plays such as grabbing the one Buzz and Beast Ring, but I don’t think it’s the optimal early game engine.


4 Ultra Ball (FLF; 99) / 3 VS Seeker – Once again, we aim to be consistent and set up multiple Riolu/Lucario + Octillery every game. This is the combo that is needed to achieve that. 


3 Focus Sash – The heart and soul of the deck, Focus Sash allows Lucario to trade favorably with virtually everything in Expanded, and can force decks such as Zoroark to go out of their way to discard it. In addition to simply being annoying, it allows you to take advantage of Acerola and Lucario’s GX attack Cantankerous Beatdown which normally are only used in very niche situations.


Float Stone (PF; 99)  – The deck doesn’t need a ton of mobility due to the high count of Acerola and the Scoop Up Cyclone (PLB; 95) , but you still want to play Float to allow plays such as using Guzma to bring up a benched Pokémon and retreating back into the same Lucario that was in the active. This also allows you to Brooklet Hill for your Buzzwole-GX on your Beast Ring turn and retreat into it, then easily attack.


1 Choice Band – You almost always want a Sash on your attackers, so Choice Band doesn’t provide as much value as it does for most decks. It can, however, allow you to hit important numbers with Baby Buzzwole and Lucario (Such as 190).


1 Super Rod/1 Beast Ring – As I said before, the one Beast Ring is a mid-game option that can immediately power up an attacker out of nowhere for your opponent to deal with. I like Super Rod better than Rescue Stretcher in this deck because it guarantees you’ll have energies to Beast Ring and you can always Brooklet Hill to grab any basics you shuffle in.


1 Scoop Up Cyclone – This Ace Spec is rarely chosen for any decks, but it finds a perfect home in this one. The flexibility to completely heal your Lucario without playing your supporter for a turn is extremely valuable, especially for a deck that has to find new Riolu every turn. Some cute plays you can make with this are Scooping up your Tapu Lele so it doesn’t die, and Scooping up an Octillery that gets locked active.


3 Brooklet Hill – You need to find a Riolu every turn and this is the most consistent way to do so.


7 Fighting Energy (SUM; 2017) /4  Strong Energy (FRF; 104)  – Strong energy is an easy 4-of inclusion in any fighting deck that can run it. I upped the fighting count by one from Sosa’s list by dropping the Professor’s Letter to give me more energy to Beast Ring. As well as more Beast Ring energy, I don’t play heavy Korrina so the item into energy effect wasn’t as powerful.


Exclusions:


Landorus EX (BC; 89)  – I don’t really know what purpose the two Landorus served in the deck, he didn’t play any Elixir to power them up so they were only able to use Hammerhead in the majority of games. I personally think that the ability to Beast Ring to Buzzwole-GX is just better than having a differentiating weakness. Buzzwole also has a better 2nd attack if you ever get it powered up, and 10 more HP.


Zygarde EX (FCO; 54)  – I’m more open to including this card than Landorus because it can easily run through a field of Zoroark with its second attack, and can be good to heal off damage vs  Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) and Trevenant (XY; 55) . The reason I excluded it is I don’t expect a lot of Trev and with the low count of Choice Band in the list, Zygarde is a much less efficient attacker. If you wanted something with a different weakness though, Zygarde would be your best bet.


Field Blower (GRI; 125)  – Field Blower might seem needed with the heavy Octillery line but I could never find it when needed in testing, With a more, Korrina focused list I could definitely see it being good, but in a deck with no way to search it has been very underwhelming. I could see it being put in as an extra out off of N vs Garbotoxin, but I’d rather play other cards.


Silent Lab (PRC; 140)  – I don’t exactly know why Sosa played a Lab over simply a 3rd Brooklet, maybe he wanted to be able to N his opponents more effectively? Whatever the reasoning is, I prefer three Brooklet.


Faba (LT; 173)  – Much like Field Blower, I didn’t feel like tool removal was good enough in the deck, especially when it requires your supporter.


Popular Matchups:

 


Zoro/Garb – Favorable


This matchup being favorable is the main reason I’m considering this deck for Dallas. Zoro/Garb is, in my opinion, the overall BDIF, and I expect for it to be widely played. This matchup revolves around how many Riolu you can get to stick in play, and whether or not you can take advantage of Focus Sash, Acerola, and your GX attack. I usually approach this matchup by going as aggressive as possible when I take prizes. If you can get a turn two Lucario with a Focus Sash while only putting two Items in your discard, the only response they have is a kill with Zoroark-GX + Choice Band + Full Bench (One of which has to be  Garbodor (GRI; 51) because you should have Sudowoodo benched) + Blower. If they are able to hit this combo, you can go straight into Baby Buzzwole and take two prizes while throwing off the prize trade. They will probably respond with Trashalanch from here, you should then try to N and find a Lucario to attack (Hopefully with Focus Sash) You can also Beast Ring to make another attacker at this point. From there you should be able to simply out trade them. Some notes on this matchup are that Baby Buzzwole is actually a pretty decent attacker when paired with Beast Ring and that if you can get two energy on your Lucario when you evolve it then you can force them to kill it by threatening Cyclone kick.


Zoro/Exodia – Slightly Favorable


This matchup isn’t as good as Zoro/Garb because of the slight possibility that we don’t get to play the game. If you go first then you should focus on getting Oranguru to bench for extra insurance in case they do happen to get the “Exodia” combo of Marshadow/Red Card + Delinquent + Peeking Red Card. Being cheesed on turn one is the only way you can lose this matchup because your attackers trade very favorably to theirs.


Rayquaza/Ho-Oh – Slightly Favorable


This matchup almost entirely depends on the Ray player’s list. This matchup was what Sosa lost to in Top Four, however, I believe that Preston's list is usually a favorable matchup. This is because Preston does not play any counters to Focus Sash such as Oricorio (GRI; 56) , Tapu Koko (BW; 31) , Faba, or simply Field Blower. If they don’t play these counters, you can trade extremely favorably with Focus Sash on Lucario allowing you to consistently two shot and force them to deal with it. You can also get a surprise kill through Buzzwole-GX + Beast ring or Sledgehammer with Choice Band. You should try to get Sudowoodo down as soon as possible to limit the number of Ray and Ho-Oh they can accelerate energy with. You should also be careful of them playing  Mew (FCO; 29) , which can kill all of your attackers and mess up the prize trade, much like Baby Buzzwole.


Zoro/Toad – Slightly Favorable


This matchup is super weird in how it plays out, because Lucario is one of the very few decks that have access to killing three Zoroark throughout the game for a single energy (even under item lock). Your gameplan in this matchup should be to not evolve any Riolu until you get a knockout on a Zoroark with it. Another annoyance for the Zoro/Toad player is that if your Lucario gets Quaking Punched twice you can use your GX for a kill on anything. You should always be wary of their ability to Guzma kill your lone Riolu if you ever just get one in play, and should try to use Acerola to establish two Riolu at once. Your ideal board should be two Riolu and an Octillery on the bench, and a Lucario in active. You should be able to find six prizes through your three Guzma and three Lucario evolutions. Always remember that you don’t necessarily need to go aggressive in this matchup and that they’re aiming to deplete all of your resources


Vespiquen / Flareon – Favorable


This matchup is much like the Zoro/Garb matchup except for they don’t usually play Field Blower. This allows you to trade extremely favorably against their  Vespiquen (ANO; 10) with Baby Buzzwole and Lucario, especially if they have to bench a Shaymin to set up. In this matchup, you want to focus on killing the Pokémon with energy on it to force them to find multiple pieces to attack each turn. In the early turns, you can often take advantage of the low-hp basics and take multiple prizes with Jet Punch or Jab on Riolu. Acerola is your best friend in this matchup and allows you to preserve Focus Sash. I usually start with Buzzwole-GX to give me a two or three prize lead, I then transition into Baby Buzz with a Focus Sash which can take two prizes, then I finish it off by using Guzma on a Shaymin or simply knocking out two Vespiquen.


Straight Buzz – Favorable


With most of the lists cutting Max Elixir for cards to better beat Zoro/Toad, your matchup has vastly improved against Buzz variants. As well as cutting Elixir, many exclude Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) , which was an easy way to limit our benched Riolu. As with many matchups, the key here is abusing Focus Sash to put us ahead in the prize trade. One play that I’ve been doing in testing is if they happen to bench 2 Buzz-GX, I’ll hit two for 160 with Lucario and then Jet Punch kill both Buzzwole-GX and skip Beast Ring. Buzzwole-GX is also extremely strong with Beast Ring in this matchup because it allows you to save Riolu for late game Lucario. This matchup can get rocky if they are able to kill the first two prize attacker before you take two prizes, especially if you aren’t able to set up the Jet Punch play.


Trevenant – Very unfavorable


This is probably one of your worst matchups as Lucario, but is still winnable if you draw well enough. Like many matchups, your strategy should be to go as aggressive as possible in order to limit the number of  Trevenant BREAK (BKP; 66) they can get into play. Lucario can actually kill a Trevenant with single energy as long as you have Diancie benched, and your high Acerola and Guzma count make Item lock much less of a worry. Your main problem with this matchup is if they  Counter Catcher (CIN; 91) up your Diancie and you can’t find a way to move it. If you want tech for this matchup I’d play Zygarde-EX or Giratina promo.


Conclusion:


As you can see, Lucario-GX is favored vs most of the top decks in format due to its ability to deny prizes while also taking big knockouts. It is currently one of my top picks for the tournament, and depending on how much Trev shows up to Dallas it could run through the competition. I’ll obviously be at Dallas, and I’ll also be in Australia for about a month. As always, if you have any questions you can email me at Isaiah.Bradner@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.


I hope everyone had a great holidays, good luck in Dallas!

[+24] okko


 

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