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Kevin Clemente

Slowing the format down: A LucMetal guide

Sunday Open Winner Kevin Clemente goes over his thoughts on the best way to slow down the format and get away from the 3-4 Turn Games.

06/22/2020 by Kevin Clemente

On Sunday, June 7th, I entered the Neil Pie Sunday Open, an online tournament with over 130 participants, and ended up getting first with an overall record of 10-2. Winning the championship is not the surprising part here, the surprising part was that I played Lucario Melmetal GX/Zacian V for the entire tournament. I did not invent the archetype; it has been around since Sword and Shield dropped, always being a fringe archetype that was largely ignored. In my last article, I put LucMetalZ in the C Tier; after all, it has some inconsistency issues and a polarizing match-up spread, but I believe the meta is shifting in a way that makes the deck a real contender moving forward. After my 1st place finish in the open, Axel Alvarez piloted a similar list to a 5th place finish in the Limitless Invitational, which gives me more hope for the deck moving forward. I have taken some of his changes and made a few adjustments for what I believe is an optimal 60. 

The first thing you need to know before you pick this deck up is this: LucMetal is a control deck! I know what you are probably thinking, "What control deck hits 230?" and "Don't we win by taking prizes?". We do hit hard, and we do win by taking prizes, but we control the pace of the game and force decks to make uncomfortable plays and move slower than they want. The longer the game goes on, the more favored we become. This mindset shift is extremely valuable when it comes to piloting the deck. So now that we have shifted ourselves into the proper mindstate let's talk about the list, card choices, and match-ups! 

Decklist

This is not the list I played, nor is this exactly the list Axel played. A few changes have been made for the better. 

Card Choices

1 Lucario & Melmetal GX

I had initially played two, and if you moved up to 2, it would not be the worst thing, but I have taken the idea of only playing one from Axel. I know that this is the deck's namesake, but we only ever need one, and we never want to start it, and we do not need it on the field turn one, so going down to 1 is excellent. Prizing it ~10% of the time is annoying but acceptable. One thing I see people do when piloting is treating this deck like ADPZ, where they want to GX immediately, and that is rarely correct. Our turn one is often used to set-up Zacian as a significant threat, not to set-up the LucMetal. We use the LucMetal as a response to their primary attacker to remove their energy and then become tanks.

3 Zacian V

This is still a Zacian deck, Zacian is arguably the best card in the format, and we are planning to abuse that. We want to get them down on turn 1 to use Intrepid Sword and hopefully get two attachments on it, so we are threatening that 230 damage strike. The Zacian threat, even if we do not want to hit with it right away, is enough to force pressure on our opponent. They suddenly have to speed up to deal with the significant threat of a Brave Blade, which puts their big Pokemon in harm's way and can force them to ditch valuable resources, namely energy, to set-up. Early Zacian pressure forcing your opponent to discard supplies is ideal because we are going to start to slow the game down with Hammers and Full Metal Wall. If our opponent sits back and has a slow set-up, then we suddenly become a threat that starts punching hard. An early two energy Zacian makes it so no matter what play our opponent makes, we can have a response to control the tempo of the game. 

1 Oranguru

 

This is a new addition to the deck, and it is tech, but it is a useful tech. We are a slow and grindy deck, and some match-ups can become a quiet war of attrition. These match-ups include the Combo Zacian match-up, the mirror, and the ADPZ match-up. Sometimes all you need to do to set yourself up to win that war by spending a turn with a single prizer in the active putting back some saucers, supporters, or potentially even hammers. This can also come in handy with the very aggressive discard of the deck and make those acro bikes and researches early less painful. Like I said in the first sentence, this is tech, so it is not going to be used in all match-ups, but it has come in handy enough to warrant the deck spot.

1 Aipom

The new Aipom promo from the Pikachu and Zekrom GX Battle Decks took the place of Tapu Fini in my list from the Neil Pie Open, and I think it is worth keeping. It has come in handy in match-ups vs. Control, Zacian decks, and Baby Blacephalon. Sometimes the Combo Zacian decks will sit behind a Jirachi and try to build up for a big turn of gusting your Zacian, and Aipom offers a hard punishment for those plays. It also has a significant utility versus Baby Blowns where we can punish those large hands they get in the late game after they have taken those 3-4 prizes which can offer us the ability to throw up a thick Zacian with a pan and, if we had hit the right cards, they might not have the energy left to respond. It takes some practice to know when attacking with Aipom is correct versus running for damage versus using sword, but once you get the hang of the tempo of the deck, an Aipom for a random 4+ card discard can end the game before it starts.

1 Mew

 

Mew protects our bench from Tag Bolt GX, but it also serves another, more significant, purpose, and that is the 30 spread damage. Zacian V hit PikaRom for 210 damage with resistance, and the 30 damage from Psy Power on Mew cleans up the PikaRom that you have hit. If they attach a Big Charm, then you can use the one Tool Scrapper to fix that math. It is important to note that it is best to Brave Blade before you Psy Power. A savvy PikaRom player will Mallow and Lana the 30 damage off of their PikaRom, making your turn a waste, offering you no way to OHKO their PikaRom and removing your bench protection. Mew also serves a purpose in the Zacian mirror; if you are forced to hit into a Zacian with Goggles or Pan before you find your scrapper, you can find the scrapper the next turn and clean up the Zacian you had to hit for 200 damage. Mew also offers an easy one energy single prizer to respond to Spiritomb with.

 

Mew can also be replaced with the Dusk Mane Necrozma Promo depending on your expected meta. Dusk Mane is more influential versus non-PikaRom tag team decks such as ADP variants, Mewtwo decks, and the random RowEgg or Green's ReshiZard you may run into. Due to Mew being better vs. Zacian, PikaRom, and Spiritomb, I have opted to go that route.

0 Dedenne GX

 

The number one question I got asked after sharing my list from the Open was, "Did you ever want Dedenne?". The answer my heart gives is yes, but the answer my brain gives is no. Dedenne is a liability that cannot be afforded. Being a squishy great catcher target is not good because after you force your opponent to deal with LucMetal they will presumably have two prizes remaining, and you usually want your board to be nothing but 2 Zacian and a single prizer. This makes Dedenne a colossal liability and not a Pokemon we can afford to use to set-up since we're primarily feeding our opponent a three prize Pokemon on a platter in our LucMetal. We also thin the deck so aggressively and draw out games for so many turns that late-game Eldegoss provides the ability to get a game-winning card more than a Dedenne would. Eldegoss also offers the opportunity to be reused and removed from play if you are unlucky enough to start it. If you are going to try this deck tries it without Dedenne before shoving one in. 

2 Power Plant

The plant is the stadium of choice for a few reasons, but the biggest one is something that I have said a few times, we want to control the pace of the game and slow things down. If we can prevent one Dedechange from an opponent, that might mean we get one more turn, and when the format is this fast, one turn is a huge advantage. The plant is also a primary out to Baby Blacephalon. I thought the match-up was abysmal, but it is not THAT bad due in part to Power Plant. The plant is also a better option than Shrine because Shrine actively makes out match-ups with Combo Zacian and Spiritomb worse, and neither of those are worse match-ups I would suggest taking. 

1 Reset Stamp

This is the 2nd significant new addition to this list with Oranguru UPR, and it has always been a card I have thought I wanted. Fitting the 2nd one may also be a move I want to make, but I am not sure what could be cut.

This is a deck that plays from behind and the Stamp+Plant combo combined with swinging for 230 a turn with a 2-prize Pokemon that essentially has 280HP in a post-GX Zacian with a Metal Frying Pan is too much for most decks to overcome. 

3 Metal Frying Pan

I have seen people online putting in goggles or a split of goggles and pans, and the most straightforward answer for why we play pan over goggles is that this deck essentially auto wins Dragapult anyway. Goggles making a highly favorable match-up better is pointless when Frying Pan can make the match-up versus another A Tier deck, Blaceaphlon, winnable. We do need a damage modifier in the deck, being able to pan your Zacian before you GX is very important for the Combo match-up and the Pans are also very important for the PikaRom match-up to make them hit for as little as possible.

 Extra Techs to consider

A second Reset Stamp is potentially a viable inclusion because of the aggressive discard we currently play.

Adding a great catcher to close out games on Dedenne is worth consideration as well as I have run into times where my opponent can shove up a big Pokemon that I cannot KO. It is another option to gust, but overall this situation does not come up often enough and result in a loss for it to matter.

I have played Oranguru SSH and did like it but felt that it often was not worth the bench spot though preserving valuable switches and saucers early game was a welcome addition.

Wonderous Labyrinth as a third stadium is another thing I have considered as a way to slow down the early game, but finding it early is difficult, and it may not be worth the spot.

Match-Ups

Dragapult - Highly Favored

One of the key appeals of this deck is that the Dragapult match-up is so favored. We use hammers to keep energy off early, and Full Metal Wall is another guaranteed discard. A smart Dragapult player will split their energy 1-1 to prevent the play where you GX a two energy Dragapult and set them back to turn one, and the plan here is to start building up your Lucario Melmetal. Between the GX, resistance, and a frying pan, LucMetal takes 50 damage a turn from a Max Phantom, and the 2 Mallow and Lana mean we can keep the board pretty free of damage. 

PikaRom - Slightly Favored

The significant issues that can arise here are:

1. They're faster and more consistent than we are

2. They can accelerate energy from the deck and recover energy from the discard easily 

A big thing to watch out for is whether they can Full Blitz before using their Koko Prism or not. If they do, then you are in for a tough time as the Pika player can recover from a GX quickly. Still, the plan is to chip away energy so Boltund can never OHKO, Brave Blade a PikaRom, clean it up with Mew, and find three more prizes elsewhere. Typically a Brave Blade on a Boltund, one of the biggest threats in the match-up, then a KO on a Dedenne is the most natural path to victory. A switch is also one of our most valuable resources in this game because of the threat of paralysis from Raichu & Alolan Raichu GX.

 Combo Zacian - Even

This match-up is where we plan to shine as a control deck. We control the tempo as much as we can by removing energy via hammers and Brave Blade on their fully loaded Zacian. You want to GX a 2-3 energy Zacian ASAP, but you do not have to rush the GX because if you offer them the opportunity to great catcher hit the LucMetal before we can GX, then that is a hard thing to overcome. Often we want to sit back and wait for them to make a move. If we get an early Pan on our Zacian, then they either have to settle for a Brave Blade KO on Jirachi, or they build up a big hand attempting to make a big combo turn and are susceptible to Aipom removing valuable resources. After we GX, we want to chip away energy off the bench while removing energy from the action with a knockout. In the end, they are two shotting us and often will miss a turn or two of attacks that we can take advantage of. 

Spiritomb - Even/Slightly Unfavored

This is a tough match-up. GXing is still ideal for forcing them to two-shot our Zacian, but we want to GX for one energy instead of 2, so we can do it ASAP and then use Steel Fist to take a KO on their Tomb the next turn. Mallow and Lana on the LucMetal to protect it on the bench is also a great early move to defend it after the GX and force them to have some pretty big turns. It is important to remember that they have Yveltal GX to potentially take a one-shot on your LucMetal with a few shrine ticks, so the early game you have to be wary of this play.

Blacephalon UNB - Unfavored

This is not a great match-up, but it is winnable. We want to make the prize trade go 1-2-1-2; with them KOing a Jirachi, then going in with Zacian, often followed by an Aipom as they will build up a big hand, then going stamp+Plant and cleaning up with a Zacian. This is a war where we try to run them out of resources, and a traditional Blown build with 4 Crystal and 2-3 Energy Retrieval is beatable by them struggling to get the last two prizes on our Zacian.

If they have a slow set-up, LucMetal GXing is another good option if we can assume they do not KO on the next turn as a Pan+GX makes the Zacian require six energy to KO instead of 5. Regardless, the big plan is to make them brick as many turns as possible if both sides draw well, then we never win this. 

Conclusion

LucMetal is in an exciting place right now. In terms of power level, it is not great. In terms of match-ups, it does go toe-to-toe very well with the most popular decks in the format, and when piloted correctly will beat them as many of your opponents will not have experience in the match-up and that is easy to exploit. The deck takes quite a bit of practice, but if you are not happy with the state of the current meta and the speed at which decks are winning, then this is an excellent choice for you to put time into.

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