Hello everyone! Astral Radiance might not be coming out for another month, but Pokemon has nonetheless given us a taste of what’s to come. Most of the cards from the recent Japanese Pokemon VSTAR decks will be coming out in Astral Radiance in May, but they decided to release Lucario VSTAR a bit early in the new Lucario VSTAR Premium Collection. Notably, we don’t have to wait to use this card — it will be legal for tournament play in the Europe International Championships (EUIC), and in fan-run events you can play it now. Box sets like this aren’t always good, but this one certainly is, as Lucario VSTAR is on par with our existing Pokemon VSTAR, even exceeding them in some regards. So, in this article, I’ll be taking a look at our newest Pokemon VSTAR: Lucario VSTAR!
Compared with the other six Pokemon VSTAR we have so far, Lucario VSTAR stands out with its damage output and its typing. While its Weakness isn’t ideal, being a Fighting-type means that Lucario will match up well into some of the best decks in the format, including Arceus VSTAR, Gengar VMAX, and Jolteon VMAX. Even without Weakness, Lucario is still a force to be reckoned with. While Fighting Knuckle is conditional on your opponent having a Pokemon V, most of the things you need extra damage to deal with are Pokemon Vs, so you can assume that you’ll be hitting for 240 damage most of the time, not 120. If you are attacking for 120 damage, you’ll be likely to take a Knock Out anyway, since most non-Pokemon V are below that range. Malamar and Inteleon are the two main exceptions, so it is something to be aware of — but for the most part, we can treat this as a three for 240 damage attack. That’s a higher damage output than any other Pokemon VSTAR, and with no major downside. With a Choice Belt, this means that Lucario VSTAR is capable of taking an OHKO against pretty much any other Pokemon VSTAR; the only ones that would be out of its range are Arceus VSTAR and Charizard VSTAR, but Arceus VSTAR is weak to Fighting-type, and Charizard VSTAR has to have damage on itself in order to fully use Explosive Fire, so it can typically OHKO them as well. Fighting Knuckle can also OHKO many of the tankier basic Pokemon V — even if they have a Cape of Toughness attached. This importantly means that Lucario VSTAR can OHKO Suicune V, Zacian V, and Galarian Zapdos V, totally disrupting those Cape of Toughness strategies. Aura Star can also be a devastatingly strong attack against any deck that tends to put a decent amount of Energy on the field. If they have five Energy attached — basically, a main attacker plus a follow-up — Aura Star can Knock Out even high-HP Pokemon VMAX. Against something like Duraludon VMAX that relies on its bulk, Aura Star is a useful asset to have. If nothing else, forcing your opponent to play around Aura Star can put Lucario VSTAR decks into an advantageous position, even if you can’t actually manage to take a Knock Out with it.
Given the above, it’s clear that Lucario VSTAR at least has the potential to be good. The important questions will be, what is the best way to utilize Lucario VSTAR, and will Lucario VSTAR be a better option than comparable Fighting-type Pokemon VMAX. Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, Single Strike Urshifu VMAX, Lycanroc VMAX, and Sandaconda VMAX are all established Fighting-types that I would want to compare Lucario VSTAR to, especially if the deck is otherwise similar. For example, if you were to fit Lucario VSTAR into a Arceus VSTAR / Beedrill deck as your Fighting-type attacker, you’d only want to stick with that if Lucario VSTAR was proving to be a better option than Sandaconda VMAX. Otherwise, you’re playing the same deck, but worse. On the flipside, if Lucario VSTAR does seem to be better, then you should definitely add it to your deck instead.
When comparing Lucario VSTAR to those other Pokemon VMAX, the one thing that stands out again is Lucario VSTAR’s direct damage output. Like when we compared it with the other Pokemon VSTAR, Lucario’s damage output stands out as high in this case as well. Single Strike Urshifu VMAX is the only one that can do more damage, but it requires an extra Energy, and you can’t use it multiple turns in a row like you can with Lucario VSTAR. Sandaconda VMAX, Lycanroc VMAX, and Stonjourner VMAX all hit for a good bit less. Lucario VSTAR is the only one of these that can reliably Knock Out other Pokemon VSTAR and those tanky Pokemon V with Cape of Toughness. That’s before we even get to pointing out that Lucario VSTAR only gives up two Prizes, not three. Having a higher damage output and giving up fewer Prizes tends to be a winning strategy! So, if our goal is to play a hard-hitting Fighting-type to take advantage of Weakness, with the side goal of having a high damage output for dealing with a varied field, Lucario VSTAR is an excellent option. As it can deal with many decks in a way that those other Pokemon VSTAR and Fighting-type Pokemon VMAX cannot, that leads us to the conclusion that Lucario VSTAR should be able to stand alone in its own meta niche. The question then becomes, how exactly do we build around Lucario VSTAR?
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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