Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

A Cantankerous Deck - Zoroark/Lucario for Portland

Zach goes over the new Zoroark-GX/Lucario-GX deck for Portland Regionals.

03/21/2018 by Zach Lesage

The Portland Wave


What is the wave 60 Cards readers? I am sure you are excited as I am as we venture towards the next stop on the Pokemon tour, the 2018 Portland, OR Regional Championships! In this article, I will go over the difference between our current Standard and the new Standard format in Portland, my Zoroark-GX/Lucario-GX deck that is expected to be a strong play in Portland, and some of my strategies as a top player in the game. I would like to note that I am writing this article before I embark on my journey to the upcoming 2018 Charlotte, NC Regional Championships this weekend so I will not have any insight on the results from that tournament in this article. I am sure the results of Charlotte Regionals will consist of either a Zoroark-GX variant or a Buzzwole-GX variant so hopefully my predictions become true. Either way, let’s jump into what makes Portland a new Standard format…

A New Challenger Approaches

Well, the biggest difference between Charlotte Regionals and Portland Regionals will be the legal tournament release of the Lucario-GX promo box. Most players by now have read the card and some may be unsure of how strong it will be in Standard. Let me tell you that the card is a strong meta game contender because it can stand up to Zoroark-GX without an immediate OHKO in return. Beyond that, the card is practically a Fighting-type Golisopod-GX so we know from past tournament results, such as Tord Reklov winning the 2018 European International Championships in London with Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX, that the concept is sound. Using this information, we can use our past tournament results to build upon ideas that work well going forward. Before we do this, it is advisable to discuss some Lucario-GX strategies, damage modifiers, and potential deck ideas surrounding this card. Let’s jump right into it:

Learning Lucario-GX

So Lucario-GX seems good, but how do we break this card down? I will look into all of the stats of this card and type my thoughts out about this Pokemon:

Stage 1: Evolves from Riolu

While it is often weird in our fast format to be able to Evolve reliably, Riolu is a decent Pokemon to have as a Basic because it has the option to use an attack that can Knock Out the popular Zorua. Additionally, Riolu has 70 HP can allow it to survive an attack from Buzzwole-GX using its Jet Punch attack (even with some damage modifiers). Furthermore, Riolu is Fighting-type which means that it can be searched out via Brooklet Hill of an opponent is generous enough to play that card for our searching pleasure.

Type: Fighting

This where Lucario-GX gets interesting because it can become a true answer to the popular Zoroark-GX that everyone seems to be playing nowadays. Between using any of the three attacks that Lucario-GX has to offer, we can reliably Knock Out a Zoroark-GX or almost any Fighting-weak Pokemon with relative ease.

HP: 210 HP

This amount of HP is synonymous with a Stage 1 GX Pokemon nowadays, but it does give us some breathing room when it comes to embracing an opposing attack. Furthermore, when we account for Cantankerous Beatdown GX, we can do more damage than our spiritual brethren such as Tauros-GX which have trended downwards due to the power creep within the game.

Attack: Aura Strike

Similar to Golisopod-GX, Aura Strike has the power necessary to do a solid 120 damage if we can meet the right condition (Evolving from a Riolu on the current turn). While this may sound like a difficult maneuver to pull off, most lists do play an answer or two that will allow Lucario-GX to achieve the maximum damage. If we look into our options in most Lucario-GX decks, there are also damage modifiers available such as Strong Energy, Professor Kukui, Choice Band, and Regirock-EX to do even more damage. Let’s check out how these cards can interact with some popular Pokémon that are expected to see play at the upcoming Portland Regional Championships and League Cups:

*It is assumed that we are able to Evolve a Riolu into a Lucario-GX to hit the maximum damage potential.
**I may include cards that are not included in any list in the below scenario, such as Regirock-EX, for math purposes only. These cards may see play in some variants of the deck so the information is still important.

Zorua SLG - Aura Strike 30 damage x 2 (no need to Evolve) = 60 damage
Wimpod BUS - Aura Strike 30 damage (no need to Evolve) + Professor Kukui (20) + Strong Energy (20) = 70 damage
Mew-EX LTR - Aura Strike 120 damage (Evolved from Riolu) = 120 damage
Zoroark-GX - Aura Strike 120 damage x 2 (Evolved from Riolu) = 240 damage
Tapu Lele-GX - Aura Strike 120 damage (Evolved from Riolu) + Strong Energy (20) + Choice Band (30) = 170 damage
Buzzwole-GX - Aura Strike 120 damage (Evolved from Riolu) + Strong Energy (20) + Choice Band (30) + Professor Kukui (20) = 190 damage
Golisopod-GX - Aura Strike 120 damage (Evolved from Riolu) + Strong Energy (20) + Choice Band (30) + Professor Kukui (20) + Regirock-EX (10) + Regirock-EX (10) = 210 damage

While it is possible to hit for more than 210 damage, those numbers start to look unrealistic and the Pokémon that are opposing the Lucario-GX would likely not be common sights in the meta game. It should also be noted that any Pokémon with the same amount of HP such as Buzzwole-GX and Zygarde-EX can both use the same math to acquire the same Knock Out.

Attack: Cyclone Kick

This attack is admirably the worst attack on Lucario-GX because it requires Fighting, Fighting, Colorless instead of Fighting, Colorless, and Colorless. While both of those Energy requirements are similar in cost, one requires the use of three Energy and the other requirement would have been two Energy (Fighting and a Double Colorless Energy). That being said, we have to work with what we have been given and this attack can be used if we can attach three Energy to our Lucario-GX! In most cases, we will be using this attack if we have already Evolved from a Riolu a few turns ago and we do not have substantial damage on Lucario-GX to use Cantankerous Beatdown GX (or we already used our GX attack). The math is similar to Aura Strike above so I won’t specify Pokémon, but I will include damage modifiers that showcase what this attack can achieve:

Cyclone Kick = 130 damage
Choice Band = 30 damage
Professor Kukui = 20 damage
Strong Energy = 20 damage
Strong Energy = 20 damage
Strong Energy = 20 damage
Regirock-EX = 10 damage
Regirock-EX = 10 damage

Those being the most common damage modifiers, the range of Cyclone Kick is from 130 damage to 260 damage (without including Weakness) so it can do quite a bit of damage.

Attack: Cantankerous Beatdown GX

Let’s let Taurus-GX pass the baton over as I have crowned Lucario-GX as the new king of retaliation-based attacks. Anything that doesn’t OHKO Lucario-GX can be punished and if we hit the sweet spot in the numbers, we can OHKO almost any GX Pokemon! Let’s check out the damage chart:

0 damage on Lucario-GX = 0 damage
10 damage on Lucario-GX = 30 damage
20 damage on Lucario-GX = 60 damage
30 damage on Lucario-GX = 90 damage
40 damage on Lucario-GX = 120 damage
50 damage on Lucario-GX = 150 damage
60 damage on Lucario-GX = 180 damage
70 damage on Lucario-GX = 210 damage
80 damage on Lucario-GX = 240 damage
90 damage on Lucario-GX = 270 damage
100 damage on Lucario-GX = 300 damage

*Anything past 100 damage on Lucario-GX should likely OHKO any Pokémon that is available in Standard at the time of this writing.

It should also be noted that with all of the damage modifiers that are available in Lucario-GX decks, you may be able to achieve a Knock Out with less damage on Lucario-GX than originally thought...

Choice Band = 30 damage
Professor Kukui = 20 damage
Strong Energy = 20 damage
Strong Energy = 20 damage
Strong Energy = 20 damage
Regirock-EX = 10 damage
Regirock-EX = 10 damage

Looking at all of those damage modifiers, you could have only 20 damage on a Lucario-GX and Knock Out a Buzzwole-GX for 190 damage. However, it is unlikely to have 130 damage worth of modifiers to use on a whim, so it is better to prepare for a more realistic situation. Realistically, a Tapu Lele-GX could be Knocked Out by a Lucario-GX with 40 damage on it by attaching a Choice Band and Strong Energy. In most cases, if an opposing Pokémon hits you for 50 damage or more, you can use Cantankerous Beatdown GX to OHKO them back.

Weakness: Psychic

If your thoughts instantly race to the same issues that Buzzwole-GX faces in Standard, I welcome you to think again. Now don’t get me wrong, any time my Pokemon have a popular Weakness, I can become nervous or upset, but Lucario-GX seems to have the answers to reign supreme. As we look into our response options, we need to carefully look into the Pokémon that we may see that will oppose us:

Mew-EX - in most cases this card will be copying Aura Strike, Riotous Beating, or First Impression to do the coveted 120 damage x 2 to OHKO a Lucario-GX. While this sounds tough to get around on paper, it is easier to do so when looking deeper into it. Mew-EX has a low HP of 120 HP which means that you can return the Knock Out with either Aura Strike or Riotous Beating yourself. Furthermore, if you are able to take the first two Prize Cards in a game by Knocking Out a Tapu Lele-GX early, this is nothing to worry about. The game can follow this pattern when playing against a Zoroark-GX deck that plays a Mew-EX:

You: Start first, start Riolu, play Brigette, get set-up on your board
Opponent: Start Tapu Lele-GX, play Brigette
You: Evolve from Riolu into Lucario-GX, attach a Strong Energy, attach a Choice Band, and use Aura Strike to OHKO the Tapu Lele-GX for 170 damage. Draw two Prize Cards.
Opponent: Send up Mew-EX, attach a Double Colorless Energy, copy Riotous Beating on either side of the field, to OHKO the Lucario-GX for 240 damage. Draw two Prize Cards
You: Evolve from Riolu into Lucario-GX, use Aura Strike to OHKO the Mew-EX for 120 damage. Draw two Prize Cards.
Opponent: Play a Rescue Stretcher, retrieve Mew-EX attach a Double Colorless Energy, copy Riotous Beating on either side of the field, to OHKO the Lucario-GX for 240 damage. Draw two Prize Cards
You: Evolve from Riolu into Lucario-GX, use Aura Strike to OHKO the Mew-EX for 120 damage. Draw two Prize Cards.

As you can see, the Mew-EX in this situation can compete with Lucario-GX, but fell a step behind based on your board state and ability to draw two Prize Cards early game. Similarly, the other popular Psychic-type Pokémon, Garbodor GRI, can be handled in a similar way. The main difference between Mew-EX and Garbodor is that Mew-EX is worth two Prize Cards and that Garbodor is worth a single Prize Card. Nonetheless, you can use an Aura Strike (after Evolving from Riolu) to OHKO a Garbodor. The best thing about facing Garbodor is that you can play around the attack power of Trashalanche by playing less Items - they may not even be able to Knock Out a Lucario-GX. Other fringe Pokémon, such as Espeon-GX, may see some heavier play heading into Portland, but Espeon-GX doesn’t have the attacking power to OHKO a Lucario-GX without using its Psychic attack with a Choice Band.

Resistance: Not Available

Usually I wouldn’t comment on an attribute of a card that doesn’t exist, but when you look at Cantankerous Beatdown GX, you may be counting your lucky stars that your opponent can do a hypothetical extra 20 damage. Obviously, we would be displeased if having a Resistance would be the turning point of our opponent achieving an OHKO, but if and when our opponent puts themselves in position where they do enough damage, Cantankerous Beatdown GX says hello.

Retreat Cost: Two Energy

In testing, I have never paid for Lucario-GX to Retreat, largely due to the fact that most of the lists I have tested play multiple Acerola. Similarly to how I think a Buzzwole-GX can be used to draw four Prize Cards in most situations, I think that Lucario-GX can often draw two Prize Cards from Aura Strike and draw another two Prize Cards with Cantankerous Beatdown GX. Cantankerous Beatdown GX is one of the biggest reasons on why I am not worried about the Retreat Cost on Lucario-GX, but Acerola can also come in clutch when necessary.

Hopefully this breakdown of Lucario-GX has helped you realize that it can become a true contender in Standard, but your next thought is likely, “Where is Zach’s list?” Ok, ok, we will get there in bit, but first you gotta hear me out. I have been testing our current Standard format with the addition of Lucario-GX for a few weeks now and I think that Lucario-GX is a strong answer to our current format. While I am leaning towards other Lucario-GX variants at this time, I truly think that Zoroark-GX/Lucario-GX will be the most played variant. Like most other decks, Zoroark-GX offers us a strong engine that allows us to draw the right cards for when we want to use them at the right time and offers alternative typing by adding in Darkness-type to the deck. Without wasting any more time, let’s pace towards the list:

Zoroark-GX/Lucario-GX List

Card Explanations

In this portion of the article, I won’t go over the full card list of the deck because some cards in this deck, such as Professor Sycamore, are played in almost every Standard deck at this point in time. However, I will include strategies, uses, and general ideas about the important and lesser-known cards in the deck.

Four Zoroark-GX, Four Zorua, Four Puzzle of Time, Three Field Blower, and One Mallow

If you haven’t played Standard for a while or have been lucky enough to avoid facing against a Zoroark-GX deck, this section is for you. Zoroark-GX can draw us cards, attack with Riotous Beating, and it allows us to tech around a shell of a deck. Due to our ability to draw cards with Trade, we can use obscure cards such as Puzzle of Time and Mallow to manipulate our deck to get exactly what we want when we want it. We play three Field Blower to get around the popular Garbodor BKP with Garbotoxin because we want to use Trade when we can to draw into important cards within the deck. Riotous Beating is great at two-shots against almost any GX Pokémon and if they hit us with any attack, we can use Acerola to rinse and repeat.

Two Lucario-GX and Three Riolu

While I have already explained Lucario-GX in full detail above, this card is an auxiliary Pokémon in this deck because it is mainly a Zoroark-GX in structure. That isn’t to take away from its importance because Lucario-GX is our strongest answer against opposing Zoroark-GX decks. Furthermore, we can use Cantankerous Beatdown GX to handle Pokémon with large amounts of HP such as Golisopod-GX, Gardevoir-GX, and opposing Lucario-GX. Riolu can be used with a Strong Energy or a Professor Kukui to OHKO an opposing Zorua due to Weakness.

Three Tapu Lele-GX and Three Brigette

In a format where we need to Evolve our Pokémon to get to where we want to go in a game, we need to have a strong base to do so. Between Tapu Lele-GX using Wonder Tag and the occasional natural Brigette falling into our hand, we should have plenty of outs to get our Benched Pokemon our with relative ease. Furthermore, we can use Ultra Ball to search out a Tapu Lele-GX, and use Wonder Tag to search out a Brigette if we really need to. During the late game, we can attack with Energy Drive and use Brigette as Trade fodder when we have a full Bench.

One Mew-EX

This card has become somewhat of a staple in Zoroark-GX decks because you have an instant answer to Psychic-weak Pokémon such as Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX for only one Energy in most circumstances. While I have already explained Mew-EX in the above ‘Psychic’ section when explaining Lucario-GX in full detail, the best way to abuse Mew-EX is to get ahead on Prize Cards to avoid our opponent taking advantage of the situation.

Two Parallel City

This card is often on the side of a discussion in Zoroark-GX decks because the count in decks varies between players from zero copies to four copies. The premise of this card is to block our opponent from having more than three Pokémon on the Bench - a strategy that can be magical when you are playing in a Zoroark-GX format. Alternatively, we can flip this card the other way when playing against any Pokémon that is Grass, Water, or Fire-type. Both of these strategies can be deployed especially when Greninja BREAK, Golisopod-GX, Ho-Oh-GX, and Zoroark-GX are all predominately played right now.

Three Acerola and One Rainbow Energy

Similar to how Golisopod-GX / Zoroark-GX decks are built in Standard, Acerola allows us to abuse Aura Strike on Lucario-GX so that we can always hit our maximum damage potential. I included a Rainbow Energy in this deck because I wanted to have the option to use Acerola as a way to pseudo-Retreat and to have the option to add damage to Cantankerous Beatdown GX. Furthermore, both of these cards can be easily retrieved with Puzzle of Time to make this a much more viable strategy in the game.

I’m sure you can see how this deck can actively work, but I wanted to include a section that puts all of these thoughts together so you can see how a game would work...

Quick Strategy

So in a perfect world, you take my list, sleeve it up, and you are about to play your first game against your roommate right now. You understand how the deck can work, but you are looking for something more - “Zach, please keep the training wheels on for one more paragraph so I can beat my homie!” Ok, I have heard your plea and I am going to guide you through a hypothetical game plan one last time:

In this situation, we are going to play versus a Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX deck

You: Win the coin flip, start Zorua, play a Brigette, and search your deck for Riolu, Zorua, and another Zorua. You attach a Strong Energy to your Riolu on the Bench.
Opponent: Attaches a basic Fighting Energy to Buzzwole-GX, plays a Cynthia, plus down a Brooklet Hill, searches their deck for a Remoraid, and benches a Rockruff. They use Jet Punch to Knock Out the Active Zorua due to Weakness, and puts 30 damage on the Zorua on the Bench. They draw one Prize Card.
You: Promote Riolu, attach another Strong Energy to Riolu, attach a Choice Band to Riolu, Evolve into a Lucario-GX, use Brooklet Hill to search your deck for a Riolu, Evolve into a Zoroark-GX, and play an N. You use Aura Strike to Knock Out the Buzzwole-GX. You draw two Prize Cards.
Opponent: They promote Remoraid, attach a Float Stone to Remoraid, use Brooklet Hill to search out a Buzzwole-GX, play Max Elixir, attach to Buzzwole-GX, attach a Strong Energy to Buzzwole-GX, retreat into the Rockruff and pass (to avoid Cantankerous Beatdown GX).
You: play a Guzma to bring up Buzzwole-GX, bring up a Zoroark-GX, attach a Float Stone to Zoroark-GX, Retreat into Lucario-GX, attach a Rainbow Energy, and use Cyclone Kick to OHKO it. Draw two Prize Cards.
Opponent: concedes because they can’t keep up.

While this situation is in our favour, we need to look at the premise that we attached only a few Energy to get to this point of the game, so it is actually entirely realistic for the most part. Lucario-GX continues to impress me and I am sure it will do well at Portland and League Cups this weekend!

See Ya This Weekend

Well, I hope this article has provided you with some valued knowledge on how to build, pilot, and prosper with the new Zoroark-GX / Lucario-GX for Portland the week it becomes legal. While I think Zoroark-GX / Lucario-GX is a strong play for Portland, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw other Lucario-GX variants do that weekend as well. That being said, go to your local store and buy a play-set of Lucario-GX because that card seems to be a powerhouse in the making. This might be the only real counter to Zoroark-GX that has no true draw back to it and I don’t see the card not living up to the hype. Furthermore, it is important to register for the events that you are actively planning on going to so double-check to make sure you are registered for Portland Regionals.

For me, I am heading to Charlotte Regionals this weekend (I know this article is going up after Charlotte as of writing), heading to Portland the weekend after, and I have plans to play events in Europe and South America to finalize my season. While my travel plans for the year may sound excessive to most, it is quite necessary in order to compete for a T16 spot in North America for the Masters Division and my plan is to obtain that feat. I know I will be exhausted by the end of the season, but I like to set my personal goals high and try to shoot for the stars to get to wherever I need to go. I will likely be the only Canadian Master to complete this task if I am able to follow through so I want to prove to my country that they can do it too!

Anyways, If you see me at a local League Cup in the Toronto area or I am playing beside you in a Regionals, feel free to say “hey”! I am more than a guy behind a screen and love meeting up with anyone who reads my articles. Also, if you are ever looking to reach out to me for some more insight or want to follow my personal Pokemon journey, follow my Twitter account zlesage_pokemon to see what is going on in my world. I regularly post deck lists, my personal tournament reports, links to my latest articles, and deck profile videos.

As always, thanks for supporting 60 Cards and for reading my articles! It means the world to me to have an opportunity to share my thoughts, deck lists, and strategies to a great audience!


[+23] okko


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