Discussion Deck Profile: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Discussion in 'PTCG Competitive Play' started by FrostBiter12, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. FrostBiter12 Upcoming Worlds Competitor!


    Hey Pokebeachers, I’m excited to attend Charlotte’s first Regional along with everyone else looking to test the new Ultra Prism set. Since Pokémon has been growing at such a rapid pace, I’m expecting it to be one of the biggest Regionals ever in the history of Pokémon! Today I’ll be going over what I believe to be the best play for Charlotte Regionals. The ever unpredictable Tapu Bulu GX!

    The Current Format-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Before we discuss what the best play is, we need to figure out what we will be playing against. The way I see it (this is just my opinion), the format isn't made up of a bunch of decks in selective tiers with one deck on top as the "BDIF". Instead, Tier 1 (which is the top Tier) is made of three decks, a triangle if you can imagine it. The three decks are Zoroark GX variants (you can't really tell which one is the best, but if I had to say, it is Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX), which beats Garbodor variants (which Espeon GX/Garbodor is probably the best), which beats Buzzwole GX (of which Buzzwole GX/Garbodor is probably the best) in turn beating the Zoroark GX variants. This endless cycle defines the format, each deck in turn getting a rise in popularity and then a fall afterwards as its counter gains popularity. So, is there a deck that does well (not necessarily an auto-win) against all three of these decks? In my opinion, Tapu Bulu GX/Vikaovlt beats all of these decks pretty consistently. Choice Band ups the damage output to 210, possibly hitting both Zoroark GX and Buzzwole GX by turn 2, and three Field Blower allows you to trade prizes consistently with Garbodor.

    “The Bulu Bunch”--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When the concept of Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt was first played, most people were very doubtful of the deck, one of which was myself. Only a few loyal players (which I refer to as "The Bulu Bunch”) stuck to the deck, and for the most part, have been mildly successful in tournaments. What stuck out about the deck the most was its raw power and capability of beating practically any deck. The only thing that ever really stood in the way was itself. Playing a Stage 2 deck with so many cards that could clog up your hand and the pressure of having to get Vikavolt up turn 2 was a little too daunting for most people, so Tapu Bulu GX has always been referred to as a “rogue” deck. I for one, never really liked Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt due to its unstable nature, but one day I picked it up and I could not let it go. With Zoroark GX dominating the format (along with Buzzwole GX), the ability to hit 210 almost every turn starting turn 2 cripples most opponents. So, let’s go over why this deck has such potential, and how we can reach the peak of its capability.

    The List---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

    ##Pokémon - 15

    * 3 Grubbin SUM 13
    * 3 Tapu Bulu-GX PR-SM SM32
    * 1 Tapu Koko PR-SM SM30
    * 3 Vikavolt SUM 52
    * 1 Mew FCO 29
    * 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
    * 1 Remoraid BKT 32
    * 1 Octillery BKT 33

    ##Trainer Cards - 34

    * 2 Energy Recycler GRI 123
    * 3 N FCO 105
    * 4 Choice Band GRI 121
    * 4 Rare Candy SUM 129
    * 1 Super Rod BKT 149
    * 2 Heavy Ball BKT 140
    * 4 Ultra Ball SUM 135
    * 2 Brigette BKT 134
    * 3 Cynthia UPR 119
    * 1 Float Stone BKT 137
    * 3 Field Blower GRI 125
    * 2 Guzma BUS 115
    * 3 Skyla BKT 148

    ##Energy - 11

    * 4 Lightning Energy 4
    * 7 Grass Energy 1

    Total Cards - 60

    ****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******

    Card Choices--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1-1 Octillery (BKT): From what I've seen, most Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt players prefer the 1 Oranguru over Octillery. Personally, I believe that the drawback of being a Stage 1 comes with the benefit of drawing into more resources compared to Oranguru. Using Abyssal Hand to draw up until you have 5 cards in hand allows you to take advantage of Skyla more effectively (Octillery is your draw support instead of the usual supporters). Even though I need one more slot than Oranguru to fit in the 1-1 Octillery, it means I can remove supporters (such as Cynthia and N) for more space. This is just a matter of preference, but the added benefits of Octillery are hard to pass up in my opinion.

    1 Tapu Koko (PR): Even though it isn't seeing much play, Gardevoir GX can give Tapu Bulu GX some trouble with the massive 230 HP. Tapu Koko brings that number down to 210 against all of your opponent's potential Gardevoir GX (benched Ralts and Kirlia) which is accessible to Tapu Bulu GX through Choice Band. Also, if you ever need to, Electro Ball can clean up against any of your opponent's damaged Pokémon. It also helps against Empoleon and any other [L] weak Pokémon if you ever play against them.

    3-3-3 Cynthia, N, Skyla: With the focus on getting turn 2 Vikavolt, three Skyla increases your chances of getting that combo a little more. Combined with two Heavy Ball, 4 Rare Candy, and Octillery, it's hard not to get turn 2 Vikavolt! The draw back is the amount of space required for these cards and drawing into them at the wrong time. I lowered the Cynthia and N count to 3 a piece due to Octillery providing draw support almost every turn and to reduce the chance of you drawing into them after already using a supporter.

    7-4 Grass Energy, Lightning Energy: The standard play nowadays is usually 7-5 Energy count, but since I play 2 Energy Recycler and a Super Rod (instead of Rescue Stretcher), I almost never run out of Lightning Energy. Prizing some can be worrisome, but as long as you have at least 1 Lightning Energy, then you can take a K.O. (and potential draw into more Lightning). If you aren't dramatically in need of space for other cards, you can increase the Lightning Energy count to 5 once more.

    Potential Techs-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2 Mew (FCO): Due to the popularity of Buzzwole GX, Mew is a great way to take them out without Choice Band. Unfortunately, the 50 HP means it can be OHKOed by a Jet Punch and Strong Energy. Being a one prize attacker though means that you can give the K.O. and then follow up with a Tapu Bulu GX. Two Mews puts the Buzzwole GX matchup even more in your favor, not to mention being a free retreater as well. Mewtwo (EVO) can also be played, but Mew allow more versatility against all other decks.

    Clefairy (EVO): With an attack identical to Zoroark Break (BKT), Clefairy allows you to copy one of the defending Pokémon's attack for 3 [C] energy, easily accessible through Vikavolt. Utilizing your opponent's attacks are great, but since Dragon type isn't seeing any play, Clefairy doesn't add any more benefit that Tapu Bulu GX does (which is already hitting 210). It is a one prize attacker though, so definitely keep it in mind against decks like Buzzwole GX.

    Xurkitree GX: Though it isn't seen a lot in decks besides Wishiwashi Walls, Xurkitree GX can actually have a place in Tapu Bulu GX due to the [L] energy attack cost. Not to mention the great Flashing Head ability, which prevents all effects of attacks done to it by your opponent's Pokémon with Special Energy attached to it. Almost all Zoroark GX variants play DCE, so Xurkitree GX takes advantage of this and denies your opponent this important piece of their deck. There are ways for your opponent to get around this, but Zurkitree GX can definitely buy you time to set up Vikavolt.


    Honestly, in my opinion, there is no bad matchup for Tapu Bulu GX. In fact, pretty much every deck is a good matchup, the only thing that is holding it back is itself. If you don't setup Vikavolt after the first few turns, it is highly likely that you will lose just because you can't keep up with your opponent. As long as you can constantly trade prizes with your opponent and pull through any disruption (such as Garbodor or turn 1 Glaceon GX), Tapu Bulu GX can take the win. Another important thing is to stay one step ahead of your opponent, just so they can't take you by surprise and corner you with no way out (preparing for your opponent targeting Vikavolt, an N late game when you haven't set up draw support options, etc.).


    So, with Charlotte Regionals less than a week away, Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt is a great option and probably the optimal play. Besides that, be expecting a lot of Zoroark GX (especially Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX, which has been gaining popularity recently), Buzzwole GX variants, Garbodor variants, and possibly new and unexpected decks from the Ultra Prism set (such as Empoleon, Dusk Mane Necrozma GX, Glaceon GX, Weavile, Alolan Dugtrio, etc.).

    Well, that concludes this week’s article! Feel free to discuss, ask questions, and make suggestions. If your interested in finding recent articles or wish to make suggestions, here is a link to my article homepage where you can find all of the articles I've written so far. Check back next week for another article here in the PTCG Competitive Play forum! Thanks!
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
    Jam4u2, Skater_J and mordacazir like this.

  2. that_one_venasaur Aspiring Trainer


    This is a great post! I've been running VikaBulu for a little while now and have had a lot of success. The one deck that really runs over my decklist is Buzzwole. But, given the recommendations you made, I'll switch oranguru for octillery, professor sycamore with Cynthia, and maybe add a second mew. Let me know how your tournament goes!
  3. FrostBiter12 Upcoming Worlds Competitor!


    Agreed, Buzzwole GX can give a lot of decks trouble. The best thing is probably to just increase your consistency as much as possible so you can Vikavolt by turn 2 pretty often. As long as you can stay one step ahead of your opponent, you should be fine. The Cynthias should make sure you don't discard your late game resources (like Energy Recycler, Super Rod, etc.). Anyways, I'm glad that you enjoyed the article, I'll let you know how Charlotte Regionals goes! Thanks!
  4. Jam4u2 Aspiring Trainer


    i really enjoy this deck list, i never thought of the putting mew in here. the only flaw i seen is putting that many energy on a creature so easy to KO. what i have been running is pretty much the same but it lets me go either way electric or grass depending on how i feel.

    4- Tapu Bulu GX
    3- Grubbin
    2- Charjabug
    3- Vikavolt
    1- Xurkitree GX
    1- Tapu Koko GX
    1- Jolteon EX
    2- Tapu Lele GX
    1- Octillery
    1- Remoraid

    4- Ultra ball
    3- Energy recycler
    1- Field Blower
    1- Rescue Stretcher
    3- Rare Candy
    1- Fighting Fury Belt
    3-Choice band
    1- Float Stone
    1- Aether Paradise Conservation Area
    1- Brigette
    2- Skyla
    2- guzma
    4- Cynthia
    2- N

    7- Grass energy
    5- Electric eneregy

    the community here mostly plays expanded so i do have a ace spec card irl when i play this deck. the only thing i change out is i put a master ball in here and take out a ultraball. other then that this has to be my 3rd fav deck. just because theres no single card that stops the deck. ive been tampering with the deck ever since Bulu came out and ive found that having a strong offense is the main part but having a single aether paradise and a fighting fury belt has won me way to many games. all thanks to my pokemon being to tank and making them not being able to trade pokemon each turn anymore. Jolteon EX and Xurkitree GX both have won mutiple games due to there ability's and attacks.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  5. FrostBiter12 Upcoming Worlds Competitor!


    Hey @Jam4u2, glad that you liked the article! On the topic of Mew, I would highly suggest it as copying Tapu Bulu GX's attack as an alternate type along with being a one-prize-attacker is a great asset. Don't worry about attaching all of the energy to Mew, it all gets discard just like it does with Tapu Bulu GX. Anyways, I like the list your using, especially the interesting techs. Personally, I would suggest you remove the Fighting Fury Belt/Aether Paradise Conservation Area just because you don't play more than one of each, especially since most decks play 2-3 Field Blower nowadays. Just my opinion though, if it works for you, that's just fine! Alongside that, maybe increase the Rare Candy count to 4 and the Brigette count to 2 as consistency matters in this deck so prizing your only Brigette can be devastating (maybe remove the Charjibugs as they don't provide any more use than another Rare Candy and can hurt your consistency. I do understand that you play in an Expanded format where Item lock is popular, so it makes sense if you keep them). Anyways, thanks for your input, I'm glad that you enjoy playing VikaBulu as well!
    Jam4u2 likes this.
  6. Skater_J Aspiring Trainer


    Thanks for posting the list @FrostBiter12 Great synopsis too!

    I would definitely consider myself unofficially part of the Bulu Bunch :) I was using Bulu as soon as it came out. I tried to pair it with Lurantis at first but as soon as someone on PTCGO showed me Vikavolt I was sold! I've played many variants of the Bulu deck, including alternative cards like: Oranguru, Switch, Tapu Koko-GX, Marshadow-GX and Brock's Grit.

    Tapu Koko-GX is definitely a surprise to a lot of players, it's my main Stage 2 pokemon counter using it's GX attack. Just wait for 4 energy's on the opponents side + a choice band, or just wait for 5 energies and you can get some clutch KO's. Main caveat for Tapu Koko-GX is the fighting weakness, not great in the current Meta.

    I do like Brock's Grit over a card like super rod as it can really save you in the late game. I would definitely play it in a variant with Octillery, due to having the extra draw power, but likely not with Oranguru as supporter draw power is needed.

    Might be just me but I like to use Oranguru paired with more Draw supporters, as there is nothing worse than prizing an Octillery or Remoraid. Wiffing on a Octillery is also the worst when you only have a 1-1 line.

    Another rogue card for this deck (that is a great Zoroark counter) is Marshadow-GX. Although, the hardest thing is keeping it alive after a KO. Marshadow needs a Fighting Fury Belt but Bulu does better with a Choice band, it's a real conundrum.

    I agree with the 2 energy recyclers. I have always needed at least one so if your only recycler is prized then you are hosed. 2 is solid.

    I'll take the advice to remove my one Charjabug. No one seems to be playing Espeon-EX or Shining Jurachi these days anyways.

    I have always ran 3 field blower and I also recommend a higher Skyla count, both have served me well. 3 and 3 are good numbers, nice work @FrostBiter12
    FrostBiter12 likes this.
  7. FrostBiter12 Upcoming Worlds Competitor!


    Glad you liked it! I can't really consider myself part of the "Bulu Bunch" unfortunately as I only started to play a couple of months ago. As for the tech options, pretty much any of those will work in here. Tapu Bulu GX is really straightforward with its strategy, so it allows a little wiggle-room for cards like Switch, Tapu Koko GX, and pretty much everything else!

    Tapu Koko GX sounds fun, but as you said, Buzzwole GX somewhat nullifies its effect. Still good in a Gardevoir GX heavy format though!

    Brock's Grit is a great card, but I think that Super Rod does a better job just because it is an Item and allows you to use Skyla, Guzma, etc. for added effects. It isn't as powerful as Brock's Grit, but it means that it won't clog up your hand and prevent you from using Abyssal Hand.

    Personally, I prefer Octillery, so much to the point where I'm considering a 2-2 line. This insures that you will at least have one Octillery in play by around turn 2-3, allowing you to utilize cards such as Skyla more effectively.

    I've never though of Marshadow GX, a very interesting card I suppose. The only thing that I'm worried about is the 150 HP, which is easily accessible through a Riotous Beating+Choice Band. Personally, I think that just another Choice Band does a better job as it can be applied to more situations (like Buzzwole GX) and still take the K.O on Zoroark GX.

    Personally, I think that 3 Skyla is just right as it won't clog up your hand but will easily be accessible if necessary. Especially if I do go up to a 2-2 line of Octillery.

    Anyways, I'm glad that you enjoyed the article and happy to see fellow VikaBulu players are doing well. Thanks for the input, I appreciate the advice!
  8. HouchinsDJ Aspiring Trainer


    Great article! I feel like Tapu Koko-GX is worth a look with Ho-Oh-GX decks gaining popularity.
    FrostBiter12 likes this.
  9. FrostBiter12 Upcoming Worlds Competitor!


    Thanks, glad you like it! Tapu Koko GX sounds cool, but I think that Tapu Koko (PR) does a better job as it can be used in other matchups.
  10. TurtwigTrainer5411 Aspiring Trainer


    What if you were to put vikavolt GX's in the deck as well? Do you think that this can help, or would it be a bit too hectic? The energy costs would be expensive, but if you were to modify the deck a little, do you think this could be succsseful?
  11. FrostBiter12 Upcoming Worlds Competitor!


    Hey @TurtwigTrainer5411!

    When it comes to VikaBulu, one of the key factors that the deck needs in order to be successful is consistency. The deck can almost beat anything just because of its raw power and the ability to hit high numbers consistently. If you mess with the basic strategy of the deck, you tend to draw into the wrong cards at the wrong time. While Vikavolt GX is a okay tech, the drawbacks of being a Stage 2, taking a valuable spot in the deck (n place of a regular Vikavolt), and having weakness to Buzzwole GX (one of the most popular decks at the moment) makes it extremely situational. It wouldn't hurt to try it out, but I'm pretty sure that the benefits the card provides are outclassed by the costs (which is a great way to determine if the tech your putting into any deck is okay; using a cost and benefit scale gives you a better idea on whether or not the tech is worth the effort).

    Anyways, if you have any more questions, feel free to let me know!


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