What’s up Beachers! We just wrapped up Charlotte Regionals, and we have another Standard Regionals right on its heels: Portland! We have already had two Regionals in this BREAKthrough through Ultra Prism format, but this one is shaping up to have a wildly different metagame, and it’s all due to one recently released promo card: Lucario-GX.
Lucario-GX bears a striking similarity to Golisopod-GX, as both Pokemon have the potential to deal 30 plus 90 for a single Energy and have powerful synergy with Acerola to consistently heal and attack again. Setting itself apart, Lucario-GX has the advantage of Strong Energy to boost its damage output by an additional 20, Regirock-EX to boost it by another 10, and most importantly it can hit for Fighting Weakness. If you have been looking at the top decks in the past six months, you should have noticed Zoroark-GX is dominating and warping the format around it. Due to Zoroark-GX’s Fighting Weakness, Lucario-GX is poised to be a powerful counter to Zoroark-GX.
The traditional counter to Fighting-type Pokemon has been Mew-EX, which did a fair job swinging the advantage against Buzzwole-GX since its 120 HP is an awkward number for Buzzwole-GX to hit. Lucario-GX, on the other hand, can easily deal 120 damage to return a Knock Out against Mew-EX and keep the Prize trade even.
As you may have guessed, we are going to be looking at two different ways to build a deck around Lucario-GX. First up is the most obvious in my opinion, Zoroark-GX / Lucario-GX.
Zoroark-GX / Lucario-GX
You should notice some strong similarities between this list and most Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX lists. Lucario-GX functions similarly to Golisopod-GX in this deck.
At its core, this is still a Zoroark-GX deck. We run a 4-4 line to maximize our ability to Trade and get Zoroark-GX out early. Zoroark-GX tends to have a snowball effect, where getting one Zoroark-GX out lets us draw into more cards, so that we can get another Zoroark-GX out, and then draw into more cards to set up even more Zoroark-GX. By adding more copies of Zoroark-GX, we help our deck achieve that critical mass to have an explosive turn two.
This is still looking pretty similar to Golisopod-GX lists, which run this exact line-up. We run more copies of Riolu than Lucario-GX because we need to have unevolved Riolu sitting on the Bench for Lucario-GX to hit for maximum damage. It is important to prioritize keeping a Riolu ready on the bench for our next turn so that we can strike when needed.
For our Riolu line-up, we play two copies of Riolu from Ultra Prism, and one copy of Riolu from Burning Shadows. The Ultra Prism one is better in most situations, since its first attack Detect is so powerful. A coin flip is less than ideal, but the fact that the effect is on Riolu instead of the Defending Pokemon is huge. If you hit Heads on Detect, you are essentially guaranteeing that Riolu will stay alive for your following turn. If your opponent does not remove the Energy, it means you will even have a Riolu with Energy already attached which is a huge leg up. Your opponent may Guzma around the Riolu, but that means they aren’t Knocking it Out. Riolu’s 70 HP is also important, because it means attaching an Energy to Riolu does not bring it within Knock Out range for Tapu Lele-GX and a Double Colorless Energy. With 60 HP Pokemon, attaching an Energy is a liability since it increases our opponent’s chance of Knocking it Out.
We also play one copy of Riolu from Burning Shadows. This version has a second attack which deals 30 damage. Against a Pokemon with Safeguard, like Hoopa, the ability to deal extra damage with one of our few non-GX Pokemon can be huge. There are also times where we miss evolving to Lucario-GX, but we can pivot our strategy by simply attaching a second Energy to Riolu and taking an unexpected Knock Out.
One Tapu Koko
Oh boy, Tapu Koko is so much better in this deck than it is in the Golisopod-GX version. Lucario-GX is a bit of a combo card, with four different damage modifiers to boost its damage. The first is evolving, which adds 90 damage. Strong Energy can add 20 more damage, 30 more from Choice Band, and finally another 20 from Professor Kukui. All said and done, we can potentially deal 190 damage with Lucario-GX. The problem? We can’t always hit every piece of that combo. Professor Kukui is probably the hardest piece for us to hit, since we usually need to play a draw Supporter to get all of our pieces together. So in practice we are usually hitting for 170 with that still being a difficult to achieve every turn.
A single Flying Flip from Tapu Koko lets us knockout 190 HP Pokemon (like Buzzwole-GX) without needing to hit Professor Kukui. It also gives us the potential to knockout 210 HP Pokemon if we can get every piece of our combo. Since this deck still focuses on Zoroark-GX, those Fighting-types like Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX can be seriously dangerous if we let them take multiple Knock Outs. Having an easier way to deal with them is great.
That darn Buzzwole-GX can be a real thorn in our sides. Mew-EX gives us an easy way to respond to it and take a quick Knock Out. It is also a great answer against opposing Lucario-GX. Earlier in the season, Fighting-type decks were mostly unprepared for Mew-EX, and we could sometimes take four Prizes with it before getting Knocked Out. Now we should expect several Mew-EX counters in any deck playing Buzzwole-GX or Lucario-GX. It would be smart to expect an even Prize trade when we swing with Mew-EX. Fortunately, we only have to take six Prizes and we play Zoroark-GX. This means that if we can get ahead on the Prize race and take ourselves down to two Prizes quickly, we honestly don’t care if they Knock Out the Mew-EX. It did its job and got us to a point where we can close out the game with a double Puzzle of Time to Guzma up either a Psychic-weak GX Pokemon to take a Knock Out with Mew-EX again or anything within KO range of our Lucario-GX. Taking that quick KO with Mew-EX forces our opponent to ignore everything else on our board to respond to it, letting us close out the game on the following turn.
This is another innovation Zoroark-GX decks have been playing for some time. As mentioned above, Zoroark-GX works by hitting a critical mass where Trade lets us draw into more Zoroark-GX, which gives us more ability to Trade. The two copies of Evosoda gives us two more outs to Zoroark-GX and makes the chain more consistent. It also gives us two more outs to Lucario-GX, which we usually need as part of a combo with Strong Energy and Choice Band. By having more outs, we make that combo much more consistent. And yes, Evosoda does add the additional damage to Lucario’s Aura Strike (it is only required to Evolve in general).
Two Strong Energy, Two Fighting Energy
Our Energy lineup is always a compromise between power and resource conservation. Strong Energy with Choice Band is how we hit 170 with Lucario-GX so it is a pretty key piece of our combo. This makes it fairly easy to KO Tapu Lele-GX in one hit. The downside is that Strong Energy is a Special Energy, which makes it weak to all of the Special Energy hate currently in the format. Many lists right now are using solely Special Energy, which gives them an autoloss to any deck playing even a single copy of Xurkitree-GX. Knowing this, I fully expect any stall or mill deck to play that one copy to pick up some free wins against unprepared players. Strong Energy is also susceptible to Enhanced Hammer which means in most matchups attaching the Energy before we attack will usually be the same as simply throwing it away. With Basic Fighting Energy, we can safely attach to Riolu and use Detect. If we hit Heads on Detect, we know for sure that Riolu will be alive with Energy attached to either Evolve and smack our opponent with Lucario-GX, or retreat and hit with Zoroark-GX.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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